Red, white and brownies

Dear bloggies,

I hope everyone is having a fantastic last week of November and getting their holiday preparations together. It is really important to share care and good times with the people you love most. People like to buy presents for each other during the holiday season, but we all know that can get expensive. As far as I’m concerned, no college budget is free flowin’ enough to support a bunch of gifts for family and friends… it just adds up so quickly. I have realized over the years that it is sometimes hard to find the perfect gifts for people I really care about, especially my parents. I mean, they just never want anything. It’s as if they are too giving and kind and generous to my brothers and I to think for themselves. So I typically resort to making something, be it a card or a picture or painting or piece of jewelry. Making things for people is particularly special because it takes time and effort to showing love. Since I have been on this wild cooking and baking kick lately, I have decided to bake treats for the people I love dearly before I go home for winter break. I still haven’t decided what to do for my family members, but this will do for my friends.

So what am I going to bake? It seems like I’ve tried every item in the book. I turned to Pinterest to answer this pressing question. These are some of the cutest foodie things I found.

Reindeer bottles

Brownie santa hats

Snowman cookie balls

The brownie santa hats looked easiest and most appealing, so I decided to make those. I went to the store and bought brownie mix, frosting, and strawberries (at New Frontiers this time… I know, shocking).


I cut the stems off of a couple strawberries and made the brownies. The brownie mix came with chocolate chips already mixed in. So I was super excited.
Then I made frosting. Directions called for putting the mix in a bowl with a little bit of cream cheese and a little bit of milk. That’s it. I put it in the freezer to harden.

This is when things got interesting. Upon taking the (VERY MUSHY) browny pan out of the oven, I noticed it was jiggling much more than the average batch. I put it in for five more minutes, and then eight MORE minutes, but it still wouldn’t stop jiggling. It seemed as though the middle was refusing to cook to a hardened state. I even tried leaving it out to dry for ten minutes and putting it in the freezer, but it just wouldn’t cut nicely. Every time I tried to slice a nice square it would fall and mush all out the sides. One time I tried putting the frosting on top and sticking a strawberry to it, but it toppled over instantly. Sad.

Something had to change. My plan was not working, which disappointed me (the perfectionist), but it was a nice learning lesson that taught me not to buy those brownies anymore (should’ve stuck to Trader’s).

I decided to make a big lump of brownie with frosting and strawberries instead. Since that seemed a bit too typical and plain, I sliced the berries nicely just to make it look pretty.
It turned out to be aesthetically pleasing as well as tasty. I shared it with the friends I love, all who were very pleased as well.

Then came the really fun part: cleaning! I actually don’t mind cleaning that much because cooking for one person n a small kitchen can’t create too much damage as it is. The kitchen looked spotless in ten minutes. I’m telling you people, baking is a great idea for holiday gifts. Who doesn’t like surprise fresh sugary goodies?! I’d sure be happy to receive such a gift.

Next time you find yourself contemplating how to show love to someone dear to your heart, consider baking them something sweet and make their day.

Happy holidays,

Hanna

Advertisements

Say cheese: It’s almost Christmas!


Pretty red poinsettias, sparkles, candy canes and holiday parties can only mean one thing: it’s the holiday season! As families congregate to decorate the Christmas tree and the house with lights, spirits are high all across the neighborhood. People love to spend time with relatives and close friends during the holiday season, which often calls for holiday parties! I may not be a party planner just yet, but it happens to be something I fantasize about for my future. And what’s a party without food? Fancy food, that is. Here is an idea for a tasteful (in every sense of the word) hors d’oeuvre that’ll surely get the holiday spirit rollin’!

Hold up- I realize this blog is not a “party planning for dummies” guide, but I’d like to insert one more tip. It is important to make others feel comfortable and happy in your home. One way to boost some friendly morale is by putting fresh flowers in a vase anywhere around the house. I chose these wintery red daisies with little berries and various green leaves to place on the dining room table. They instantly added some brightness to the room and I felt the holiday spirit immediately.

“Flowers add freshness to the room and make it smell so good,”

Now, back to the food.

Today I’m going to teach you how to make an hors d’oeuvre that I like to call the “cheesey christmas tree.” When I was in Europe last summer, I developed an affinity for wine and cheese nights. Fortunately in Europe I was of age to consume such a beverage. I am not in America, but it’s still fun to share the idea with others (and look forward to it when I turn 21).

The cheesey christmas tree is a christmas tree-shaped arrangement of cheese, olives and rosemary for decoration. I like to pair it with some multigrain crackers for a healthy, filling snack.

Since Trader Joe’s is the most inexpensive, convenient location for food shopping, I obviously chose to get the ingredients there.

Sophomore kinesiology student Victoria Wolfe said that Trader Joe’s is the best place for college students to do grocery shopping.

“They are very health conscious but still affordable,” Wolfe said. “And everything they make tastes good.”

According to economics sophomore Jack O’niell, not many boys are aware of the glory of Trader Joe’s.

“I have only been to Trader Joe’s like once in my life,” O’niell said.

Ingredients:

Brie cheese block (roughly $4.00), Jack cheese block (roughly $3.00), Rosemary ($2.00), Olives ($2.00), Crackers ($3.00), Flowers for decoration ($5.00)

Directions:

1. cut out a tall triangular piece of a paper bag to shape the christmas tree.

2. Slice the brie cheese into thin slices by the ridges on the thick white side of the block. Place the slices on a two-three inch section of the paper triangle. Start at the bottom.

3. Place a branch of rosemary in between every layer of cheese and on the bottom line of the triangle.

4. Slice the jack cheese and place the small pieces on the next section of the triangle (still going bottom to top).

5. Put more rosemary in between each cheese layer. ALSO put a line of olives on each section of rosemary.

6. Continue this pattern all the way to the top of the tree. Depending on how big the triangle is (how many people you are trying to feed), you will need varying amounts of cheese. For this tree I only used half of each block.

7. For the stem of the tree, use a leaf from the bouquet of flowers and cut one side to make it wide and flat. For the tree’s star, use a pretty red flower also from the bouquet.

8. Grab a nice porcelain plate for the crackers and spread them out in a circle, leaving a hole in the middle for another flower (just for fun).

9. Put it all together and you have yourself a holiday hors d’oeuvre!

Snack Time

– The Livestrong website gives great ideas for snacks for athletes, and recommends that people with average exercise habits eat the same.

– Bars are easy to eat in class because they aren’t crunchy and don’t disrupt anyone with weird chewing noises.

– The combination of peanut butter pretzels and apples is particularly nutritions because it incorporates carbohydrates, fat, protein, and fruit.

On a long walk home from an afternoon class, it’s not uncommon to think about FOOD FOOD FOOD. School days can be exhausting, so it is important to keep your system going by eating healthy snacks through out the day.

So What Should I Bring to School?

There are many smart options for healthy snacks to carry around campus or eat during class breaks. The Livestrong website gives great ideas for snacks for athletes, and recommends that people with average exercise habits eat the same.

Seeds and nuts are the first snack that is recommended. They are convenient and offer plenty of nutrients to the body. They are quick to eat on the go and provide a good amount of both fat and protein to sustain bodily functions during a busy day.

Business sophomore and soccer team player Christina Eichinger says that wholesome snacks are the best way to get through the day.

“I eat tons of fruits and vegetables, power bars, almonds and nuts,” Eichinger said. “Sometimes yogurt, too, after a long run.”

Yogurt is a second option. Some times it’s tasty to mix nuts into yogurt or put cut up fruit in for extra flavor.

Another snack option is peanut butter pretzels and an apple. This combination is particularly nutritions because it incorporates carbohydrates, fat, protein, and fruit.

One plus to adding apples to the mix is that one apple has as much caffeine as a cup of coffee.

Pita chips and hummus make up another snack that includes both carbohydrates and protein. It is very important to eat protein when consuming carbohydrates because it helps speed up metabolism.

Says Who?

Nutrition professor Lisa Nicholson said that hummus is a great snack additive.

“Hummus is a good choice,” Nicholson said. “It has high fiber and high protein. Snacking on chips and hummus isn’t the worst snack in the world.”

In-class Energy Boosters

Promax bars are another snack that are especially good for athletes and students on the go. they are super easy to carry around in a backpack and are extremely energizing. Another thing I like about bars is that they are easy to eat in class because they aren’t crunchy and don’t disrupt anyone with weird chewing noises.

Communications sophomore Ashley Ha agrees that it is uncomfortable to eat crunchy foods during class.

“I always like to bring something small and smooth,” Ha said. “Not crunchy. It’s so annoying when other people crunch down on their apples during class so I wouldn’t want to be that person.”

Making salads is an easy way to get a final small meal into the day. I like to use “Just Chicken” from Trader Joe’s for protein, spinach, tomatoes and cucumbers for vegetables, feta cheese for fat and rice for carbohydrates.

Where should I eat in SLO?

“My body felt so satisfied after that Old Town Salad,” Barzilai said. I’m addicted. I want to go back all the time.”

“One morning I felt like I needed a great meal off campus so my roommate and I went to Big Sky,” Weber said. “I just needed good eggs and a healthy start to my day. It was so good.”

The prices are reasonable, ranging from 7 to 12 dollars per meal.

Bliss Cafe

Buona Tavola

Big Sky Cafe

Natural Cafe

Breakfast Buzz

Halloween feast for the artsy soul

Quote

– How are you celebrating Halloween this year?
– DIY Halloween dinner!
– Recipes, fun food ideas and more

BOO! Halloween is my favorite holiday of the year. I love to decorate, I love to dress up and make a costume and I love the holiday traditions.

This year, I decided to start experimenting with fun foodie ideas in the spirit of Halloween. I checked Pinterest for some ideas surrounding the theme (who doesn’t?) and came up with a big feast of my own.

I wanted the dining room table to look nice and festive and filled with food by the time I was done. This is what it looked like to begin with. Ugh, so drab.

“We really need to get in the holiday spirit this year,” kinesiology sophomore Victoria Wolfe said.

The ugly table

I immediately put my cute Trader Joe’s pumpkin plants in a presentable fashion on the table. I removed the sad excuse for a plant that my roommate is attached to for some reason and brought some pretty flowers over from the living room.

The pretty pumpkin plant

The cooking began. I started by taking my pumpkin from Trader Joe’s and carving it with the wrong type of knife. It’s things like that that bug me about having to fend for myself in a college apartment. Who’da thunk I needed a pumkin carving knife? And I’m obviously not spending my precious allowance on such a luxury… Anyways, I cut the stem off the top and dug out all the gooey stuff.

The gooey stuff

I made some yummy soup to put in my empty pumpkin bowl. This yummy soup I speak of has been a favorite for a couple weeks now. All the ingredients are from Trader Joe’s because Trader Joe’s is the best.

I started by heating up a cup of red pepper & tomato soup for two minutes in the microwave. I then put organic brown rice in the microwave for three minutes. Finally, I put grilled chicken in the microwave for two minutes and thirty seconds.

I poured out the rice and chopped up the chicken and tossed it all into the soup. Then I poured the soup into the pumpkin bowl and licked the edges when it overflowed.

I knew I needed to have some sort of grave yard for my Halloween table, so I decided to turn bread toasts into tombstones. I put spring mix lettuce on a cutting board to look like grass and dug the mini wheat baguette tombstones in the grass. I rested the pumpkin soup bowl on the grass and told it to RIP and stop spilling everywhere. It listened.

The soupy graveyard

Next came the barfing pepper. I made him look like a jack-o-lantern and poured hummus in his mouth. “Him” is referring to my pepper, by the way.

I stacked the plate with veggies and made it look pretty because that’s just how I handle things in the kitchen.

I texted my friend a picture of the pepper and she was very impressed.

“It looks like a Martha Stewart halloween in your apartment tonight,” communications freshman Alex Barzilai said.

The barfing jack-o-lantern pepper

I then made a really cute little pizza bug. I took mini frozen pizzas, baked them in the oven at 350 for about 12 minutes and placed them on a plate in the shape of a squirmy bug. I chopped up some red peppers and gave the bugs parts (pizzas) some stripes. I chopped off two mini cucumber heads for antennae and gave it wings with spinach leaves and snap peas.

The pizza bug

For Halloween dessert I crafted some moon pie spooky spiders. I placed a moon pie on a plate, gave it two peanut butter chips for eyes and Hershey chocolate sauce spider legs. Precious and delicious.

The spooky spider

Finally, I put the table together and added bloody drinks, which consisted of cherry juice in goblets.

“This is so fun and creative,” communications sophomore Mika Raz said. “It makes me feel like I’m at home and not in college.”

“Where do you even think of this?” political science sophomore Kevin Loquaci said. “And why wasn’t I invited?”

 

My friends were absolutely stoked when I called them in to feast away. The pizzas and veggies went the quickest, and then the soup and bread. We ended up dipping the tombstone breads into the soup and it was very tasty. I’m pretty proud of myself and I hope I inspired some of you to take on a wild themed cooking adventure, too. Holidays are the best.

Happy Halloween,

Hanna