Monday, May 30, 2011

Summer

It's officially summer because school is out and the big news is that I have a roommate.  My sister Kiley is living here for the summer!  She has a job as a counselor for a kids' camp, which sounds like a blast.

I also recently had some visitors to my house.  My maternal grandparents and my parents came up for a weekend to help Kiley move in and for my grandparents to see my home.  We had a lot of fun and I enjoyed showing them around Lincoln and taking them to my favorite local restaurants. 

Last week I saw Wicked in Omaha with one of my best friends here and my sister.  It was fantastic!  Even better than I remembered and what a great day with friends.  After the show, we walked down to the Old Market area and found a restaurant for an early dinner.  Stokes was wonderful; we got to sit outside on the patio, take advantage of happy hour specials (like a raspberry mojito and ahi tuna tacos), and had great service.  We finished off the day with ice cream from Maggie Moo's and I have to say that the chocolate peanut butter was delicious. 



For Memorial Day weekend, we headed back home for a wedding reception and to celebrate my mom's birthday.  The reception was so much fun; it's always entertaining to go to a traditional hometown reception.  We also hit up the usual places like Taco Shop (yum!!!).  Kiley and I made a German chocolate cake from scratch for our mom's birthday from Trisha Yearwood's recipe.  It was amazing, but I would recommend making a little extra frosting.  

Trisha Yearwood's German Chocolate Cake
 
4 ounces sweet dark chocolate
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup warm milk
2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 medium egg whites
2 cups sugar
5 medium egg yolks, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk, well shaken
 

For the coconut frosting:
1 cup sugar
4 medium egg yolks
1 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
10 ounces fresh or frozen and thawed grated coconut
1 1/2 cups finely ground pecans, walnuts, or almonds
1/4 cup warm milk

  1. Prepare the chocolate by melting it in the top of a double boiler, stirring until it is smooth. Add 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) of the butter and stir until it is melted and blended. Add 1/4 cup of warm milk and stir until smooth. Set the chocolate aside to cool.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350ยบF.
  3. Line the bottoms only of three 9-inch cake pans with circles of parchment paper, or grease each pan bottom only with solid shortening and dust lightly with flour. 
  4. Sift together the sifted and measured flour, baking soda, and salt.
  5. Whip the egg whites until stiff using the wire beater of the mixer. Transfer the beaten whites to a separate bowl and set aside.
  6. In the mixer bowl, cream the remaining 1 1/2 sticks of butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the melted, cooled chocolate and the vanilla. Mix well.
  7. With the mixer on very low, stir in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Do this by adding about a third of the flour and slowly stirring it in completely. Then add about half the buttermilk and stir it in. Continue adding flour and buttermilk in this manner, ending with flour. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and stir again. With a long-handled spoon or spatula, fold and stir the beaten egg whites into the batter until the batter is smooth with no visible clumps of whites.
  8. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for 30-40 minutes. Bake on the middle rack of the oven, allowing at least 1/4-inch clearance between the pans and the oven walls. The cake will rise above the pan edges as it bakes but will not spill over and will settle back down as it continues to bake. The cake is done when it begins to pull away from the sides of the pans and springs back to a light touch. Cool layers in the pans for about 8 minutes.
  9. Run a knife around the edges of each pan and turn the layers out onto wire racks that have been sprayed with cooking spray. Cool layers completely before frosting.
  10. To make the frosting, combine the sugar, egg yolks, and evaporated milk in the top of a double boiler. Stir with a wire whisk until the yolks are fully incorporated. Add the butter. Place over simmering water and bring to a boil (see Note below). Simmer for 12-15 minutes longer, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. Add the vanilla, coconut, and nuts. Cool.
  11. To assemble the cake, place one layer on a cake stand and spread with frosting. Frost each layer completely, top and sides, as it is added to the cake.
Note: You can also make the frosting in a regular saucepan, but be sure to stir it constantly, as it scorches quite easily. Also, you must use the finely grated fresh or frozen coconut, not canned or shredded, to be able to spread the frosting on the sides of the cake easily.


AND Kiley made incredible chicken enchiladas tonight!  Unfortunately, I didn't think of taking pictures until after we'd eaten, but they were great and super easy!

Sam's Mom's Chicken Enchiladas

3-4 chicken breasts, shredded
1 tub fiesta dip or jalapeno sour cream dip
1 tub sour cream
tortillas
shredded cheese
Louisiana hot sauce
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix the fiesta dip and sour cream in a bowl.  Now you are ready to assemble!
  3. Spread a layer the sour cream mixture on a tortilla.  Now add chicken, hot sauce (to taste), and shredded cheese down the middle.  There are no specific quantities for each, we just make it look good. :)  Wrap the tortilla and put it in a 9x13 glass pan.  
  4. Repeat until the pan is full.  Put the remaining sour cream mixture on top and add a layer of shredded cheese.  
  5. Bake covered for 30 minutes; then remove the foil and back uncovered for 10 minutes.  Yum!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I suck at blogging

Clearly I suck at blogging.  One of these days I'll get on a schedule, but not yet.  :)

Lately I have been slightly obsessed with muffins.  With the muffin pan I received for Christmas (only had a mini one before), my handy dandy Better Homes & Garden cookbook, my Hudson Cream flour straight from Kansas, almond milk, and newly discovered organic, vegan, fair-trade sugar (Thanks Stacy!), I have been experimenting with muffins.  It's been perfect because I can make a pan at the beginning of the week and have breakfast for the rest of the week!  So far, I've made cinnamon oatmeal, cinnamon oatmeal & craisin, and banana.  And I have to report that I burned the banana ones; I will be making a note to not bake them as long as the others.  I hope to be posting recipes and pictures soon, but I keep forgetting to take pictures. 

On another note, I booked a trip to Vegas last week for my sister's birthday, which is exciting and should be an amazing, fantastic trip that will continue in Washington DC with my parents & sister for a few days.  It's going to be an incredible summer and I can't wait for the semester to wind down, the weather to warm up, and my sister to be in residence!

It seems like I'm constantly busy with school, which is good I suppose.  Everyday I cross something off the list, and so the list keeps going down.  Yay!  Only 2 papers and 2 tests left...I think.

I've also gotten to see a lot of old friends lately...a friend from home in Colorado for spring break, a college friend at the racetrack in Iowa, another friend from home this weekend, and lots more at a wedding back in Kansas at the end of the month.

That's all for now.  Maybe next time I will post about my birthday shopping extravaganza that I'm planning!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Quick Pitch Competition gives young entrepreneurs leg-up in business world - Daily Nebraskan - News

Quick Pitch Competition gives young entrepreneurs leg-up in business world - Daily Nebraskan - News

Remember when I mentioned my chicken coop project awhile back. Well I pitched it at a competition and though I didn't win - you can see me presenting on this clip!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Thoughts from spring break

It was amazing to have a spring break again, now that I'm back in school!  I went to visit one of my best friends in Colorado.  We've known each other basically forever, but it's been a long time since we've actually spent much quality time together.  It was so much fun!  Colorado is beautiful, and I actually think it's somewhere that I could see myself living.  (Though Oklahoma is still #1 on my list.)

Something we talked a lot about was her and her husband's adoption from Ethiopia.  I have always thought that adoption would be something I want to do, and discussing it with her last week confirmed that desire once more.  I can't wait for her to bring little Jude home, just as I can't wait to start the process myself (in a few years, or actually more like many years).  It's such an incredible journey that they have been on, and I cannot even begin to describe my heartfelt desire to follow in their footsteps!  There are somewhere around 150 million orphans worldwide, which is equivalent to 1 in every 2 people in America.  If you are in the U.S., look at the person next to you - one of you would be an orphan.

Passion...we are all passionate about things in our lives.  What are you passionate about?  Obviously, adoption is a passion of mine.  Well, I should probably amend that to say that human rights, particularly those of children are my passion.  I am heartbroken each time I read about or see a documentary on genocide or human trafficking.  It is so difficult to believe that humans can commit such atrocities against fellow humans.

Another passion - reduce, reuse, recycle.  I love recycling and figuring out new and different ways to positively, or at least not negatively, impact the planet.  I think it started back in 5th grade when there was a contest sponsored by the newspaper to promote the new public recycling program that was being implemented.  I drew three blue bags with faces and wrote reduce, reuse, recycle under them.  Seems like a silly, simple little drawing doesn't it?  And I will vouch for the fact that my skills as an artist are very much lacking.  Nonetheless, I won the contest.  The prize was having the sketch printed in the newspaper.  I was so excited about my drawing and about getting blue bags and about the concept in general.  My parents recently got rain barrels and I'm so excited to see them in action sometime when I'm back home.  I have used bubble wrap for the past few years on my windows in the winter to reduce heating usage and costs.  And recycling is so ingrained in my habits that when I lived in a city without a recycling program, I hauled it all back to my parents' with me to include with my their recycling.  Next on the list, learn to use the public transit system in Lincoln.  It's challenge since there is an unofficial stop near my house, but no way to know when the bus will come by my stop.  Now that it is warming up, I can easily stand on the corner for as long as it takes for the bus to drive up.

More passions to come...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Biscuits

So far, this blog has served only the purpose of keeping friends and family up to date.  I'm going to start adding some new things like recipes, both for fun and to add some substance to the blog!

Today's feature recipe is biscuits!  This is my go-to recipe whenever I want biscuits.  They are perfect as a side with chili or scrambled eggs or as the main meal with jam or honey or sausage gravy for breakfast.


Elise's Biscuits

Dry:
1 cup flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sugar (I use a full teaspoon if I plan to eat them with jam or honey)
1/4 teaspoon salt (the original recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon, but I always halve the salt)

Wet:
6 Tablespoons milk
2 1/2 Tablespoons oil (I usually substitute applesauce for half the oil)

400 degree oven

1. Stir together the dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately.
2. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir until moistened.
3. Drop spoonfuls of dough onto a slightly greased cookie sheet.
4. Bake for 12-15 minutes (12 is usually enough).

Step 1                                                 Step 2

Step 3


Yum!  I use unbleached flour, so the biscuits come out a little darker than when using bleached flour.

Also, I'm looking for a great gravy recipe for biscuits & gravy.  If anyone has one, please point me in the right direction!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Monday, February 21, 2011

Family Visit!

Last weekend, my family came to visit and we had a blast!  Highlights include:
  • Red Robin...yumm!
  • Open Harvest Coop
  • Oklahoma State vs. Nebraska Basketball game
  • Noodles & Company
  • Five Guys Burgers & Fries
Though it doesn't show on my list of weekend highlights, I am going to try eat healthier, buy more locally, etc. this semester.  I think it will really be achievable next fall when I can actually afford to pay the premium!  I am pitching a chicken coop project this week at a Quick Pitch competition, so if I win, I may try to go into business with my partner for class.  Hopefully that means I will get chickens; if not, it's in the long-term plans!  Since we've been doing tons of research on backyard chickens, hen coops/houses, and so on, it's been on my mind and making me think a lot more about what I'm buying, not just eggs.  Open Harvest is an awesome place to shop because they sell a lot of locally produced products, and the sale items are actually reasonably priced.  I do still miss my Braum's milk though!  One more reason to go back south!

My mom and sister also helped me put up a fun vinyl wall piece, which looks amazing, but will not stay up.  Letters keep falling off and it's almost not worth the effort to keep sticking them back up and repressing them down every time I walk into the kitchen.  Oh well...here's the picture anyways!


Also, Valentine's Day was one of the best ever - girls night out!  Went out to dinner at a really cute little restaurant in the Havelock district - Engine House Cafe.  Yes, it is what it sounds like.  The restaurant is in the original fire station built in 1900, and Havelock was originally a small town outside of the city.  It has a historic little shopping area, farmer's market, and was even featured on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.  The cafe has breakfast all the time; I had the biscuits and gravy, which was awesome.  I would definitely recommend it, and I can't wait to go back!


 More to come soon!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Did I really last post in November??

Wow!  Where has the time gone?  I can't believe my last post was November!!

I had a wonderful holiday season with my family back home in Kansas!  It's so exciting to look forward to more than 2 days off for Christmas!

School started mid-January.  I thought I was in for a treat because the first 2 days were canceled due to snow, however when we received even more snow recently and school was not canceled, I was pretty disappointed.  The road crews here are nearly non-existent, which seems unreal for a state that gets a lot of snow.  Give me those KS road crews anyday!

My big news is that I was accepted into the PhD program for next year; it was really just a formality, but it was definitely nice to get the 'official' news!  The second big news is that I am only a few days away from getting internet at my house...no more hanging out at Panera for hours on end working!

My family is coming to visit this weekend for the big basketball game!  We will be wearing ORANGE!

Go Pokes!