Weekend Recap: St. Patrick’s Day Edition

St. Patrick’s Day 2012 has come and gone and it was a success! What do I mean by a success?

  1. The weather was awesome. Sunny and 70s in March? Short sleeves and a skirt? Success.
  2. Downtown was crazy and I mean crazy. Reports said that there were 500,000 people downtown for the parade and other festivities, which is more than even LIVE in Cleveland proper!
  3. Some bad decisions were made – but all to be expected and we all survived.

See? A success!

Saturday morning B and I hit the streets and got started early – no, not with what everyone else was doing, but with running. B, Mary and I went for our 10 miler around 9 a.m., knowing that we were expecting B’s family and some of our friends over for beer and cupcakes (yes, beer and cupcakes) before the parade. We finished our run around 11 a.m. and I already had 5 text messages and 6 missed calls. B’s family had gotten in from Columbus early! Yipes. We rushed back to the apartment and were greeted by B’s Aunt Marie (aforementioned in the Atlantic City weekend post), Uncle Dan and cousin Pete, along with his mom, who had dropped off his brother at the parade (it was his last year marching with Ignatius’ band). Downtown was already a mad house – as we approached our apartment we could see that East 4th was completely full of people and Cadillac Ranch had people smooshed all the way up to the fence. Thank goodness we had our own apartment, and deck, to hang out on!

Ali stopped by too!

Pre-parade, the cupcakes (St. Patrick’s Day themed – Murphy’s Chocolate Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Ganache & Bailey’s Buttercream Frosting) and beverages were a success! B’s niece and nephew even couldn’t get enough of the cakes.

Yum, cupcakes!

We went out to watch the parade around 2, knowing that B’s brother would be crossing our paths soon. Getting to the parade reminded me of an episode of Walking Dead – except with drunk people. It was insane just trying to get to the area where we could even see the parade.

 After the parade was over, we went back to our apartment to meet up with some more people for some more cupcakes and beer, and then headed down to the Flat Iron where we feasted on corned beef and experienced some live Irish music and more Irish beers. We hung out for a little while and then walked back home. Yup, walked home. I love warm days and living downtown!

Tower City, lit up green, on our walk home

Sunday we probably did what most other Clevelanders did – pretty much nothing. After going out for breakfast and Mass, we hit up the store for some groceries (without beer and cupcakes, our fridge was suddenly very empty!) and then sat ourselves down in front of the TV to catch up on 3 weeks of DVR watching. Lazy? Yes. But there’s something so rewarding about hitting delete after watching your shows and seeing the DVR go from 73% to barely 20%. A great end to a great weekend.

Weekend Recap: PETEFEST 2012

Friday at 3 p.m., I shut down my laptop and put my phone on the Out of Office Mode. I had changed my Out of Office email to read, “I’m in Atlantic City for Petefest 2012 (don’t ask). I’ll be back, and checking email, on Monday, March 12” and my weekend was ready to begin!

This weekend, B and I traveled to Atlantic City in honor of Petefest 2012, the celebration of B’s cousin’s 21st birthday. Though I’d been to Jersey many times before (being from NY and Staten Island, I obviously have family that lives there), including the Jersey Shore (Seaside Heights, what what!), the only impression I had of AC was from Sex and the City. Who doesn’t remember that episode where it’s Charlotte’s birthday and they go to Atlantic with Richard right after Miranda has had a baby? I digress.

We hit the road around 4 p.m., picked up B’s sister, and headed on the 9 hour drive to New Jersey. We pulled into Atlantic City right around midnight, passing by the skyline – larger than I had expected. We arrived at the beach house about 10 min away from AC that B’s Aunt Marie had rented, and caught up with half the group (the other group was out gambling), including the birthday boy, who had returned from a day of celebration.  We stayed up to celebrate a little, but then decided against hitting the casino and instead headed to bed, as we had a 13.1 training mi scheduled for the next morning.

The next day we woke up early, ran our half marathon training run (more on that here), and then joined the rest of the group for a day of celebration.

half marathons make me sleepy!

After a quick nap (13 miles tires me out!) I put on my Petefest Shirt and joined the others in some games, including the longest game of Kings EVER and a heated game of Bunco (not to brag but my team may have won).

Aunt Marie prepared a pretty awesome meal of cavatelli and meatballs, and then we all got ready to head out for the night. Aunt Marie’s friend Bev did my hair – Jersey style of course!

We headed to the Legends Concert – the birthday boy’s request – and saw a rocking show of Tina Turner, Elvis, Ray Charles, the Blues Brothers and Liza Minelli. We then headed to the casinos to gamble and party some more.

The group with the Blues Brothers

What a fun night! When the birthday boy got tired, B and I headed back with him, knowing we’d be getting up at 7 (really 6 a.m. with the time change) to drive 9 hours back to Cleveland for B’s mom’s birthday dinner. But not without a stop in Philly to meet some college friends for brunch! Mitch (who had visited us a few weeks ago) had suggested the famous Philly brunch spot Sabrina’s, but after finding out there was a 1.5 hr wait (which would make us late for dinner), we headed to Hawthorne’s and enjoyed a delicious brunch! My eggs benedict with smoked salmon were AWESOME. We chatted it up with our friends, then headed back to Cleveland, and made it to dinner at 6! We were home by 10 p.m. and crashed from great weekend of 18+ hours in the car, 13.1 miles of running, fun, family and big hair.

Weekend Recap: BC v. ND Weekend

As a proud Boston College alumna, I’d be in trouble if I didn’t post about my recent weekend in South Bend to witness another year and another episode of the Holy War. We (BC) were supposed to lose by 20+ points (sadly, we’re less than stellar this season) but the game was closer than it should have been – the final score was 16 – 14, with BC only losing by 2! Again, it was still a loss, but it was a fun day, fun game, and great weekend.

The weekend started off at 6:15 a.m. on Saturday when B and I were picked by his dad in a 12-person van, and it was already full with his parents, 2 of his brothers, 1 of his sisters, B’s coworker and our dentist and his wife (yes, you read that right – they’re family friends so we spend the 4ish hour carride, tailgate, and night/next morning with our dentist).

We arrived at ND and met up B’s aunt, 3 uncles, 2 aunts and 7 cousins. Yes, our tailgate was HUGE, family filled, and got even bigger when 4 of my friends from BC stopped by.

B* and me

There was tons of food, including my own first attempt at cake balls – shaped like footballs of course:

We stayed at a hotel after the game and then headed back to the CLE the next day.

Does your school have any big rivalries? What’s your favorite alumni sporting event?

*B does not usually look like such a creepster. He’s just doing Movember and raising money for man-cancers. If you’d donate to him, I’d appreciate it so he actually does shave it off come 8 days from now (and yes, I’m counting down).

Food Friday- Pretzel Rolls for Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! Hope you all got to enjoy some stuffing, turkey and tons of pies and other greatness. This year, B and I got tasked with bringing rolls to Thanksgiving. Again! As you’ll remember, the last time we spent Thanksgiving with his family we were told to bring bread …. We made beer rolls, from bisquick, cheese and beer. My, how far we’ve come.

This year, we made pretzel and herb rolls – from scratch! (Yes, that means no bisquick) They came out AWESOME, especially the pretzel rolls – which is why I’m going to share the recipe with you! I used a combination of Alton Brown’s recipe, this recipe and this one to create a very easy pretzel roll recipe. There are just five things you need to do: make the dough, shape the rolls, poach the dough, glaze them and bake ‘em!

To make the dough:

  • 1 ½ cups warm water (not too hot, but warm to the touch)
  • 1 Tablespoon active dry yeast (1 package) – not quick rise
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the poaching & glazing:

  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • large saucepan of water
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten with a drop of water
  • pretzel salt  or kosher salt

First, make the dough!

Mix water and yeast in a bowl with a whisk. Let stand a few minutes until it foams up.

Add sugar, flour, melted butter and salt to water and yeast mixture. Combine until well-mixed. I used a whisk and mixing spoon to combine everything together – but if are lucky enough to have a standing mixer with a dough hook, it will take you half the time and a lot less man power!

Put the dough in a bowl that has about a tbs of olive oil spread out over the bottom – just enough to keep it from sticking. Cover the dough in a bowl with a clean towel for one hour while it rises. You’ll want to put it in a warm place (aka not the fridge) to help  it rise – I put mine in the oven (NOT turned on!)

After an hour or it’s risen to about double the size, punch it down to remove excess air.

Then, shape the dough into rolls.

Stretch the dough out into a large baguette-like shape. Cut the dough into 18-20 pieces, about 2 inches thick. Feel free to go larger if you want to use the rolls for sandwiches or anything more substantial – but remember you’ll have to poach them so make sure they’ll fit in your pan.

Shape the pieces of dough into small smooth balls. To do so, pinch the corners (from when you cut them) and pull them together in the center of the bread. Feel free to roll the bread between your hands to make a tight, smooth ball. I made them into smooth ovals.

Space evenly on the prepared sheet pans, pinched seam side down, leaving at least 1” between each roll.

Then poach the rolls.

In a large saucepan, bring 2 quarts of water to a low boil.

Add the baking soda and lower heat to a simmer.

Carefully slip the rolls into the boiling baking soda and water. Keep them in there for about a minute, making sure both sides are evenly poached. After a minute, remove rolls onto prepared sheet pans (I put parchment paper on mine but you can use a sheet with cooking spray or greased foil), pinched side down.  You’ll probably have to do this process a few times, depending on how many rolls you’re making and how big a saucepan you have.

Glaze and mark the rolls.

With a sharp straight edged knife, cut a slash on the top of each roll.

Lightly beat one egg and add a few drops of water. Use a brush to coat each roll with the lightly beaten egg.

Top each roll with a sprinkle of pretzel salt or kosher salt. I used kosher salt.

Bake the rolls.

Bake the rolls for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees. When they’re dark brown and shiny- they’re done! Cool completely and enjoy : )

Did you try a new recipe this Thanksgiving? Was it an instant hit? Do share!

Just because it’s beary cute

Friday was my birthday. I know, I know, happy birthday to me. And I’ m getting old. But that’s beside the point.

This post is about the cutest cake ever. Do you like baking? Do you have cute little kids to bake for? Or 20-somethings who like cool looking cakes? I’m recommending you buy the Build-A-Bear cake pan, either from William Sonoma (per the link) or anywhere else you may find it. B’s mom bought the cake pan for her granddaughter’s first birthday (next month) but needed to test it out first!

The result? An awesome bear cake (complete wearing a red dress, pearls and carrying a brief case, a la me) for my birthday!!

bearcake

And yes, that is a cake. It was yummy.

Thanksgiving

dinnerrollsandsoda A coworker sent around a bunch of Thanksgiving cartoons today, and of course this was one of them. The reason it’s particularly humorous: this Thanksgiving I got tasked with bringing “dinner rolls and beer.” That’s right – the two things that you tell people to bring who usually mess things up, are what I got tasked with.

Let me back up a little. I usually spend Thanksgiving back east with my family in Connecticut. Because B and I never spend any holidays together (because I mainly use my holidays and subsequent days off of work to travel home), I decided to stay in the Cleve for Turkey Day this year. At B’s family’s Thanksgiving, everyone is in charge with bringing some part of the dinner, and B’s mom suggested we bring “rolls and beer.”

Don’t get me wrong, I love not having to be in charge of bringing anything, especially anything that could go wrong on my first Thanksgiving with B’s family. That being said, I was wondering, how can I get creative with beer…and rolls?

That’s where, as usual, my twitter-peeps came in. I tweeted, “Just found out I was tasked with bringing “Beer and Rolls” to Thanksgiving. Any ideas on how to make it creative/fun?”

The responses were great:

twitterbeer1

So, I took some advice and decided to attempt to make beer rolls! I found a ton of great recipes, coincidentally, in my November issue of my Cooking Light for beer bread, but crunched for time (7pm the night before Thanksgiving) I decided to improvise. Here’s what I decided to do:


Quick and Easy Beer Rolls

2  1/4 c Bisquick (told you it was easy!)

2 tbs. sugar

1 tsp. Kosher salt

6 oz (half bottle) dark beer (I used Sam Adam’s Winter Ale)

  1. Preheat the oven to 425.
  2. Whisk together dry ingredients
  3. Slowly add beer. If you’ve had time to let the beer sit at room temperature and flatten, that will work better, but I just added it in right from the fridge.
  4. Mix together thoroughly until there are no clumps. Batter should be paste-like, thick and moist.
  5. Fill greased muffin tins about 2/3-3/4 full.
  6. Bake in 425 degrees oven for about 18 minutes. Start to check muffins at 15 minutes so that they are not overdone or dried out.

Variation:

I decided to shred some colby jack cheese and put it in the batter of some of the rolls. I also sprinkled some on top of other rolls. I found that the cheesier the batter, the more beer-like the rolls tasted.

And that was it!  Capeesh? Here’s the final product:

cheesybeerrolls1

I hope everyone likes it tomorrow! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

One Year Ago…

Sometimes I like to think back to where I was one year ago. Take a moment to do so. It doesn’t have to be where you on this exact moment on this exact date, but roughly where were you a year ago?

The reason I ask is because tonight I went to dinner with all the ladies in B’s (the bf) family. Each year, B’s family has a golf outing and some of the ladies choose to stay home and instead get dinner or shop or something instead.

Last year we went to this restaurant called “Mad Greek” which serves (you guessed it!) Greek. AND Indian. That’s right – don’t ask, it’s good. Anyways, the whole day, B’s sister in law and I had gone shopping because she was pregnant and needed maternity clothes. And I had just gotten my job a week earlier and needed professional clothes. I had only been living in Cleveland for just over a month and going shopping and hanging out with his family was still scary new for me, but still fun nonetheless. It was funny going into maternity shops and seeing all the pregnant women of varying belly-size (and B’s sister in law who is a tiny person to begin with hardly looked pregnant).

Well, one year later, tonight, we all went out to dinner again – B’s mom, sister, sister in law and myself. Except this year, her new baby came too. It just made me think how far we’ve all come and how much has happened in a year. For instance:

  • B’s sister – broke her neck in a gymnastic incident, scared us all, but now is starting up again and deciding where to go to colleges
  • B’s sister in law – no longer pregnant or a newlywed, her days are filled with diapers and crying (but adorable) babies
  • Me – been here for a year, settled in my job (and a new promotion!), sorta know my way around Cleveland…still don’t feel like an Ohioan but when I drove to B’s parents’ house this morning I was on autopilot (big deal!)

I’m not trying to be philosophical, but it just boggles my mind how much things change in a year. I may not look too different (besides my young-professional and not just-out-of-college hair cut) but it feels different.

I wonder where I’ll be one year from now?