WIAW #36 – A Few Days (and Meals) in New Orleans

Warning: This will be a slightly different-than-typical WIAW. How so? My typical WIAW posts involve me showing you a snapshot of a day in my life. It’s typically a work day and I share with you my breakfast (usually egg whites and some veggies), lunch and dinner. Today, instead, I bring you a few random meals from my past few days in New Orleans! I neglected to take photos of every single meal, but you can see here the photos of a few meals I enjoyed on my girls weekend and trip to the Big Easy (full post here)!

This was one of my dinners – blackened fish on top of a potato cake. It came served with a “corn salad” – I guess the few kernels on top count, right?

 

fish on potato cake

While in New Orleans, I of course had to have a cup of seafood gumbo and a po boy. So here you go – one day’s lunch:

crawfish po boy and gumbo

I didn’t get a picture of my meal at Shaya, but the food was amazing. So you can instead see Melgar and Alisa and their food – a chicken schnitzel sandwich and a falafel sandwich:

shaya food

Drinks at Shaya. Cheers to 17 years of friendship!drinks at shaya

Dessert one night – pecan pie, topped with ice cream AND a praline. Oh my goodness. So so sweet!pecan pie and wine

The combination platter at the Gumbo Shop. It was red beans and rice and jambalaya.

creole platter

Beignets and coffee at Cafe Du Monde. I went there three times on my visit!cafe dumond2

AND – not quite as pretty, but here was one of my airport meals. I settled with Au Bon Pain and got their southwest chicken salad and fruit cup. Ahh, airport food.

aubonpain airport

And that’s a wrap! Some things enjoyed in New Orleans that didn’t get photographed include a Hurricane a Hand Grenade and other super wayyy-too-sweet drinks that you can walk outside with, pralines, pecan brittle, a fattoush salad and more.

Some questions for you:

  • Have you been to New Orleans? What type of food did you enjoy?
  • When you travel by air, do you have a go-to restaurant/meal that you always have?
  • Do you have a favorite creole or cajun dish?

The BEST Soft Sugar Cookies With Buttercream Frosting

I have a sweet tooth. That should come as no surprise to you. I prefer sweet to salty typically (though I do love sweet AND salty a la peanut M&Ms and chocolate covered pretzels) and believe that there is ALWAYS room for dessert. So I typically like almost all dessert recipes. But – let me tell you – this cookie recipe is AMAZING. If you like soft sugar cookies with frosting, this recipe is for you.

icrashedtheweb-sugar cookies with buttercream frosting

Seriously. I typically have a hard time eating my baked goods after I bake them. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll have a cookie a little bit later, but these … these, I ate 3 of these in one day – that’s how good they were. Even B, a non-sugar cookie lover, who was hesitant to try them out, really liked these cookies.

I made mine with Halloween-theme and cut them out with pumpkin and other cookie cutters – you can just roll them with your hand into a ball and flatten them out so that they’re even easier to make. Make these cookies now. They are soft and the frosting is so good. You won’t regret it.

sugar cookies with buttercream frosting

The BEST Soft Sugar Cookies With Buttercream Frosting

Here’s what you need:

For the cookie dough

  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 5 1/4 c flour

For the amazing buttercream frosting (from this recipe)

  • 1/3 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 2 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • ¼ tsp almond extract
  • 2 ½ to 3 Tablespoons half-and-half

Here’s what you do:

For the cookies

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and set aside.
  • In a large bowl of a standing mixer, cream together butter, oil, sugars, water, eggs and vanilla.
  • Add in flour mixture about 1 cup at a time, mixing as you add it to the wet mixture. Mix until everything is combined.
  • If you’re making regular (not cookie-cutter) cookies, use your hands to roll about healthy size (a.k.a not exact) round Tablespoon of dough and place it on a cookie sheet. Flatten dough to about ¼ inch tall. If you’re using cookie cutters, you can roll out the dough at this step. Dough should be about ¼ inch tall when you use the cookie cutter. Then place dough on cookie sheet.
  • Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes.  The cookies should be just browning when you take them out. Let cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before moving to a cooling rack. Once they are cooled, store them in the fridge and cool completely before frosting

For the vanilla buttercream frosting

  • Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and whip until frosting is smooth and fluffy.
  • Frost and decorate cooled cookies. If decorating with sprinkles, add immediately after frosting each cookie so that they stick. I added orange food coloring to make the pumpkins. After frosting was dry I also decorated with black gel icing to make jack-0-lanterns.

sugar cookies with buttercream frosting

 

Girls Weekend in New Orleans

Last weekend I was lucky enough to spend some time with some of my best friends in the entire world – Jane, Melgar and Alisa. The four of us became friends in junior high, which means we’ve been friends now for 17+ years. It boggles my mind that I’ve known them for so long.

Friends for 17 years! This was approximately 12 years ago ...

Friends for 17 years! This was approximately 12 years ago …

The four of us haven’t been together since Melgar’s wedding 2 years ago, and it was SO GREAT to be together in such a fun city. We stayed together in a cute hotel in the French Quarter and had no set itinerary for our time there – just to have fun, eat good food, and celebrate our friendship.

Some highlights from our weekend included:

Eating tons of beignets at Café Du Monde. I may have gone there three times during our trip.

cafe dumond2

cafe dumond

Checking out the Garden District and stalking doing an informal walking tour of the beautiful homes.

this house had a corn fence!

this house had a corn fence!

Going out on Bourbon Street and Frenchmen Street (yay for no open container laws!)

Out on Frenchmen Street

Out on Frenchmen Street

Bourbon Street before it gets crazy later

Bourbon Street before it gets crazy later

Hearing the famous Preservation Hall Jazz Band at the Preservation Hall

I didn’t take this video, but it gives you a good sense of what we saw and how amazing they are:

Going for a run with Alisa and catching part of the humongous Halloween parade

sweatie selfie!

Going out to eat and getting some Creole food at the Gumbo Shop… and non-Creole food at Shaya

gumbo shop jane alisa gumbo shop shaya with jane

Just walking around and exploring the old streets and interesting scenery. Honestly, we could’ve done NOTHING and I would’ve been happy – I love these girls so much.

fountain

cute hotel

What a great trip! It was so wonderful to see my friends and as always, we were able to pick up and start again without missing a beat. I’m so lucky to have these ladies in my life!

Some questions for you:

  • Do you still stay in touch with any of your high school or junior high friends?
  • Have you ever been to New Orleans? What did you think?
  • Where should the four of us go on our next trip?

Linking up today for a weekend update/marvelous monday recap with with Katie and Erin!

WIAW #35 – Wine and Double the Candy

I can’t believe I FORGOT to do WIAW last week! How can that be? Welp – to be honest,  life/work/etc. got crazy and Wednesday came and went without a WIAW. Sadness. I know. Forgive me?

Hopefully you do – because I’m back on the WIAW bandwagon now!

Breakfast look familiar? Yup. It’s my traditional, breakfast made by B – eggs with hot peppers, spinach and other veggies. I was particular hungry this morning so I had a handful of nuts too.

 

 

breakfast

I opted for an apple at my desk for a midmorning snack.

snackapple

For lunch, I had some grilled chicken, leftover tomato/zucchini pie, peppers and onions and half of a sweet potato. It was SO good.

lunch

And then one of my favorite snacks – delicata squash roasted with honey and cinnamon. I’m addicted to delicata squash right now.

snacksquash

And then a coworker came around the office with a big bag of peanut M&Ms … of course I took some!

20151013_171138

After work, I had plans to grab drinks with a coworker. I LOVE getting wine at our local grocery store, Heinen’s. You just put your card into the machine and boom- a glass of wine! And not a bad view. Such a pretty grocery store 🙂

winetime

B also made me dinner. I came home to some breaded chicken over stewed zucchini and tomatoes. Sorry for the poor lighting. But it was delicious.

dinner

I was craving some candy so for dessert I had a mini Take 5 and some candy corn. Candy twice in one day 🙂

dessert

And that was it! A WIAW Wednesday that was perfectly delicious. Wine and candy twice in one day? Yum!

Some questions for you:

  • Have you had delicata squash?
  • What’s your favorite Halloween candy?

An eventful uneventful weekend

Annnnd another weekend is done, folks. And as usual, it went by waaayyyy too fast.

It was an eventful uneventful weekend – does that make sense? B and I didn’t have much planned, because I leave for a week of work travel today and needed some time to pack and catch up on work. That being said, it was semi-eventful. We spent some time in urgent care (spoiler: I’m okay) and also finding ourselves locked up in a Mormon church (semi-long story). But fall is here! And it’s beautiful.

IMG_20151018_161511

The weekend started with a Friday evening trip to urgent care. Don’t worry – I’m okay. I had been running Friday morning with Mary and accidentally tripped over a sign post that was on the sidewalk. I flew in the air and ended up seriously bruising my thigh and since it was pretty painful, hot and swollen, I decided to get checked out before flying for work. Good news – it’s just a muscle contusion and I should be back running again after a few days of ice and rest. And I’m clear to fly 🙂

After finding that out, since B and I were already on the west side, we decided to try a new place for dinner that has sen on my list – Forage. It was really good! We started with drinks and oysters at the bar and then got seated for our food. I’d definitely go back – we both loved our food and it was a neat, large place with lots of seating.

2015-10-16 21.11.42 20151016_203311

Saturday morning, B and I decided to go apple picking. It’s amazing how much time we have when I’m not running 🙂 I love apple picking and it was the first time we’d gotten to go this season. We came home with some apples, cider and an apple fritter.

20151017_103928

The apple fritter was seriously the size of my face.

20151017_110358

It was just about 11 a.m. when we were through apple picking, so we decided to explore the area. Turns out the first Mormon church happened to be just a few miles away. We stopped in and a tour was just starting. We were told the tour would be about 40 minutes, but we could leave early if we needed to. We had to be back in Cleveland by 12:30, so we decided to at least take part of the tour and see the church before heading out. Let’s just say the tour lasted about 1 hour and 15 minutes and we were not able to just leave the church at any time – we tried to leave the church but the door wouldn’t open so we had to wait until after the tour.

the first Mormon church

the first Mormon church

After we left the church, we booked it to the baby shower. It was a co-ed shower, so B was invited too! It involved bowling, food,  some spiked apple cider AND homemade apple butter and jam for favors. Not a bad way to spend a fall Saturday 🙂

Mom- and dad-to-be giving a speech at the shower - bowling in the background!

Mom- and dad-to-be giving a speech at the shower – bowling in the background!

20151017_144217

The weekend also included some other fall stapes – baking and the Browns.

apple bread

apple bread

I baked some apple bread with the apples we bought AND since it made two loaves, we brought one over to Dave and Anson and saw baby Celia again. She (and B) were ready for the Browns game!

20151018_105513 20151018_113551

The Browns ended up losing in overtime (ughhhh) but Sunday evening also included dinner with B’s family. It was the perfect fall meal – London Broil AND apple cake for dessert.

Linking up with Katie and Erin today!

Some questions for you:

  • Do you like apple picking? Have you gone this fall? um, of course!
  • What’s your favorite apple recipe?
  • Coed baby showers – yay or nay?  I say yay! The one we went to  was so much fine

Halloween Craft: How To Make a Cork Pumpkin

I know I don’t typically share crafts on this blog. Or home decorating ideas. Why? I’m not a craft person. I don’t really decorate my apartment. I don’t get too much pleasure out of either of those things. I’m much more into baking, reading and running for fun. But this is the craft that we did when I hosted the Ladies Craft Beer Society and it was a success. And easy!

Got a lot of extra wine corks hanging around? Looking for something easy to do to decorate for fall and Halloween? I have just the idea for you – you can make a wine cork pumpkin!

This is a VERY EASY  – and I repeat … easy – craft. Even the not-so-crafting-inclined (like moi) can feel good about this!

diy wine cork pumpkins

Here’s what you need:

  • Some wine corks. To make a medium pumpkin (the two on the left in the picture above), you’ll need 25 corks.
  • Something to make your leaves. You can buy fake leaves at a craft store, or green felt or green scrapbook paper.
  • Orange acrylic paint. I bought one that was called “pure pumpkin.”
  • Paint sponge
  • Hot glue
  • Twine or raffia
  • Scissors

Here’s what you do:

  • Find 24 wine corks about the same height and width. I liked lining mine up ahead of time and making sure they looked okay before gluing them together.
  • Glue the corks together! I found it easiest to first use the hot glue to glue the corks in rows. Glue rows of 4, 5, 6, 5, 4. And then glue your rows together. You should have a nice hexagon.
  • Once glued together, you can put the leaves on top. I cut leaves out of scrapbook paper. One of my friends used felt.
  • Cut the last cork in half to make the stem. Use the hot glue to glue it on top of the leaves.
  • Tie the twine or raffia around the cork stem. Tie loosely a few times around or in a bow – whichever style you prefer.
  • Paint your corks! I do this last because it takes a while to dry. You could also paint the corks first, but then you have to wait for them to dry. I poured some orange paint out (fittingly named Pure Pumpkin) on some cardboard and dipped a spongy paint brush in and then painted the corks that were facing out.

And that’s it! I told you it was easy. Feel free to play around with different size pumpkins – bigger or smaller. Also, feel free to paint only some of the corks, or leave them natural or even wine stained for a more rustic look.

lining the corks up, getting ready to glue

lining the corks up, getting ready to glue

We made these at my Ladies Craft Beer Society. So fittingly, I was drinking pumpkin beer while making them 🙂

Warlock pumpkin beer and finished cork pumpkins!

Warlock pumpkin beer and finished cork pumpkins!

Weekend Update: That Time I Hosted Ladies Craft Beer Society

You guys. I had people over my apartment. I invited people over!

I guess it shouldn’t be a big deal  – but it sorta is. I don’t know why, but B and I rarely invite people over. Maybe it’s because we don’t have a ton of space. Maybe it’s because I despite cleaning. Who knows. What I do know is I do like entertaining, preparing food and drinks and baking, etc. and that’s pretty much what I did to get ready for this weekend’s Ladies Craft Beer Society. Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. Here’s a little about our weekend.

The weekend was pretty low key. Friday night, B and I decided to go to the movies and see the Martian. I really liked it. We hadn’t seen a movie in a few months, and this one, in my opinion was perfect. It was funny. It had some suspense. It made me feel good. Yes, I’d recommend it on the big screen. (Sidenote, my dad read the book and liked it. If you like books with a lot of science – they toned down some of the science in the move – you’ll enjoy it)

Saturday morning I got in a short workout, about 5 miles walking/running on the treadmill, while B did some Insanity Max 30. He has been doing the Insanity workouts and while I’m sorta jealous how good  workout he is getting, I am also intimidated by the workouts.

After that, we hit up the Market for a few groceries and then it was time for me to prep for Ladies Craft Beer Society (LCBS). When the ladies came over, we enjoyed some pumpkin beer (Warlock for me!), snacks and then it was time to craft!

I made pumpkin cupcakes.

I made pumpkin cupcakes.

and pumpkin sugar cookies.

and pumpkin sugar cookies.

and tomato zucchini cheese pie.

and tomato zucchini cheese pie. (see to the right – those are pumpkin deviled eggs –  they look like pumpkins!)

cuoghi made mini pumpkin shaped pizzas

cuoghi made mini pumpkin shaped pizzas (and aforementioned deviled eggs)

food setup

food setup

ladies doing their craft

ladies doing their craft

Warlock pumpkin beer and finished cork pumpkins!

Warlock pumpkin beer and finished cork pumpkins!

After LCBS, B and I got some Chinese food with his parents. No pictures, but as always, Wonton Gourmet was delicious. I was pretty full from LCBS, but still able to enjoy some food of course.

Sunday morning it felt so good to sleep in! Right after I woke up (no alarm!), I saw that Mary was planning on running 12 miles so I decided to get in a few with her. I figured I do 6 – 8 and run at least half with her, but I decided to go for 9. It was so gorgeous out, sunny and upper 60s – perfect fall running weather!

9 miles

In the afternoon, B and I did some meal prep and then it was time to see Dave and Anson’s new baby! Anson gave birth on Wednesday to Celia Jane and she is perfect. Isn’t that a beautiful name? So adorable and so tiny. I’m not used to holding infants, but I didn’t freak out too much. Just a little bit.

B, me and Celia Jane Rosenfeldt :)

B, me and Celia Jane 🙂 Me not freaking out about holding a baby

Yes, I’m one of those weird girls that is seriously scared by babies. I know it will go away but they are just so tiny and I’m so scared of hurting them!

Adorable. And tiny!

Adorable. And tiny!

For dinner, we ended up getting lasagna at B’s parents house. I love pretty much all Italian food, so I love a good lasagna 🙂 And gelato and biscotti for dessert!

20151011_190939

A pretty perfect weekend. The only thing that would’ve made it better was more outside time to enjoy the great weather – like apple picking or fall hiking. Oh well – maybe next weekend?

Some questions for you:

  • Do you like holding babies? Or do they make you scared?
  • What’s your favorite fall dessert?

Linking up with Her Heartland Soul for this weekend update post.