Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Cotton Candy Costumes

In lieu of an edible recipe today, I am giving you one of the wearable sort.  But we are still in the same food neighborhood?!  I am giving you all the ingredients to make a sweet cotton candy costume.   

So, why were two grown woman walking around New Orleans dressed like Cotton Candy? Mardi Gras, of course! In New Orleans, costumes are just as appropriate on Mardi Gras Day as they are on Halloween.  Emily and I strutted our Cotton Candy selves in the Warehouse District during Carnival a couple of weeks back. And, our costumes were a hit.  So many people stopped to take pictures with us, most gave compliments and one serenaded us.  We also left a trail of pillow fluff on our way home at the end of the night. We really wore out these costumes. 

Emily and I were cotton candy once. (I'm the pink one.)

pillow stuffing (1 bag per costume)
1 oversized (but not giant — just a size up) white t-shirt 
spray glue
ballet slipper pink spray paint and/or blue ocean breeze
spray glitter
shorts in pink, blue or white (for modesty — you probably won't see them under the big shirt)
white tights
(I wore pink shoes and my friend wore blue shoes)

for the headband ... 
1 styrofoam cone 
1 old headband 
glue gun/packaging tape
(spray glue and paint used above)

Spray Glue the pillow stuffing to the front of the shirt.  
Spray Paint the the front of the shirt. 
Allow time to dry and flip shirt over.
Spray Glue the pillow stuffing to the back of the shirt.  
Spray Paint the the back of the shirt. 
Allow time to dry & lightly Spray Glitter both sides of the shirt.
... you're almost cotton candy!

Now for the cone ...
Spray Paint extra pillow fluff. 
Allow to dry & lightly Spray Glitter
Ball the fluff and Spray Glue it around your cone.
Fasten the cone to an old head band. 

This recipe was given to me by my friend Elisabeth, thanks! 

The night we were cotton candy according to Instagram.  

5 Awesome Facts About Cotton Candy 

1. William Morrison and John Wharton invented it in 1897.
2. It was introduced at the 1904 World's Fair as Fairy Floss. 
In honor of this, I suggest we all watch this video
3. A New Orleans dentist invented a similar machine spun candy 20 years later. 
But his name for the confection was catchier ... Cotton Candy! 
(In honor of this fact, I suggest you watch this slightly related musical clip about a product heist.)
4.  It is still called Fairy Floss in Australia. 
5. Today, it can be enjoyed in a number of ways 1 2  3 
Thanks Pinterest

Friday, February 22, 2013

Happy National Margarita Day!

Apparently, today is National Margarita Day and BuzzFeed decided to celebrate with a list of the 29 Crazy Margaritas You Need to Try. And, what do you know, number 25 is my Peppermint Margarita!  Remember this guy

see the article here.

Since my blog is all about traditions ... Have a Happy National Margarita Day and try one of BuzzFeed's 29 awesome concoctions.

Thanks for the shout out BuzzFeed Food! 

My Margarita recipes: JalapeƱo and Peppermint

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Pierogi & Pittsburgh

Did you know it was plural? 

Ok, ok ­— Before I get a bunch of messages about how this not an authentic Pierogi recipe because I used a store-bought dough ... I agree. As a German and Lebanese girl, I scoff at plenty of recipes. But, I know when someone’s heart is in the right place.  I wanted to learn a little bit more about Pittsburgh, since it is going to be Robert’s home for a while. So, I had a little kitchen adventure.  And, I encourage everyone to step outside their culinary comfort zone … sometimes it just takes baby steps!

But let me tell you, whatever this recipe lacks in authenticity it makes up for in taste and efficiency.  This was so easy, it will certainly be a hostess staple from this point forward. 

Smitten Kitchen's Pierogi recipe. Photo by Robert Giglio. 

What is a Pierogi? An Eastern European/Polish dumpling. Fillings can include, potato, meat and or sauerkraut.  There are also sweet variations containing fruit. 

Thanks SK for sharing this tasty recipe!

I cut SK's in half and made about 14 Pierogies

1regular potato
1 onion finely chopped
salt and pepper
potsticker wrappers or quiche/dumpling dough
3 green onions 
sour cream for dipping  

Boil your potato for about 35 minutes/until mashable.  
Chop and saute onions and green onions in butter. Set aside in a large mixing bowl.
Drain potato in colander.  Remove skin and mash in bowl with onions. Make sure ingredients combine. Salt and Pepper the potato mixture to taste. 
Use a cookie cutter or upside down glass to cut your dough into circles. 
Spoon potato filling onto a half circle of the dough. Fold dough in half - should look like a dumpling/half circle.  Knead the sides closed - sealing the edges. 
Saute dumpling in butter. When one side is golden, flip and saute the other side. 
Fill the pan with water, about 1/4 inch deep.  Cover for about two minutes. 
Serve with sour cream. 

I don’t think the New Orleans in me was cut out for this …

Today it is 18 degrees, with wind. I literally walked a mile in the snow.  I know, I sound like a baby. But, I’m not complaining.  Merely remarking, because these were all firsts for me being from Louisiana. 

Being cold the other day.

So, why am I here in Pittsburgh? I am visiting Robert who started mechanical engineering grad school here at Carnegie Mellon in January.  Isn’t he a smart?  I have been missing him, so I am here in PGH for ten days.  And here is what I have learned about Pittsburgh and CMU:

They are both devastatingly hip.  And, I love it.
Especially, Lawrenceville.

Sauerkraut.  It is sold in the bag here with other salad mixes.  
This is my kind of town.

Robert and I took a walk by the Butler Street shops and we stepped in Wild Card.
I loved Wild Card
It reminded me a lot of Storyville and Noelie Harmon in Louisiana.  Wild Card specializes in local paper products/stationery and t-shirts that showed the town's quirky side.  
My favorite’s played on Pittsburgh being Mr. Rogers hometown, sauerkraut, Polish heritage and the local love for the Pierogi. 
I’m sure there was a lot that I missed though as I am not yet in on the inside jokes. 

Mr. Rogers tee at Wild Card. Super cute shop.  

But let’s talk a little more about the Pierogi thing ... 

Pierogies are everywhere. About one third of the frozen food section is dedicated to them.  I have seen t-shirts. They really just kind of pop-up a lot? So, I googled it and Pittsburgh’s Eastern European heritage, specifically Polish, is the reason for the Pierogi passion. 

Multiple frozen Pierogies to choose from at the grocery store — excuse the instagram pic. 

I read online that Pittsburghers love Church fairs because nuns make the best Pierogies and the Pittsburgh Pirates host the Great Pierogi Race between mascots.

I know my little homemade Pierogies don’t hold a candle to Polish grandmas'.  But, I would love to earn some Pittsburgh cred and learn more about them. 

If you are a Pittsburgher reading this, send me a good recipe, a good place to get one and a little bit about what you know about the Pierogi love. Because it is something I can hop on board with! 

Monday, February 18, 2013

What Comes Next?

So, I have never done one of these link up things before. But I figured I would give it a whirl.  Becky of From Mrs to Mama is sponsoring a Women Connect writing link up today. And I love the idea of promoting writing and giving voices to women.  I thought that my story may be a little different from the others in the link up, as someone who isn't a mama.  Someone who is unmarried. Someone who is a little unsure of the next step.  Someone who has been feeling untethered lately.  


A lot of my readers already know the gist this story ... but here goes.  

I have heard different variations of the pillars theory.  They all pretty much explain that there are several columns supporting one's life: romance, family, friendship, home, work and health.  And let's just say January was a hurricane that flooded my foundation and shook it to its core.  

A) My boyfriend moved for grad school.  B) My grandmother who was not extended family and was the inspiration for my blog passed away. C) I stayed at home with my parents to help pick up the pieces, which while good for so many reasons also felt lonely. D) I didn't step foot in my apartment 90 miles from my parents' home for one month. So squirrels took it over. Yes, I literally fought a squirrel with a broom in a turf war over my kitchen. I won? But did I really?  E) I was working on a grant that ended in December. Originally, I was planning on moving in January to start my big, shiny job search.  But my apartment hunting trip got cancelled the day Oma had her stroke. F) One hand splint, one flu and one strep in one haunting month. 

When it rains it pours. 

But, here is what I haven't quite shared yet.  Things get better. 

No, I haven't found the perfect job or apartment yet. And I still miss Oma a lot. But, I feel optimistic.  I am on a trip right now visiting my boyfriend — who is just as wonderful and supportive as ever.   I just completed some freelance writing assignments, one ended with a huge professional milestone. And, I am planning on job hunting in an exciting, new city next week.  

January 2013 was big test. And though I am not sure if I passed, I learned a lot.  

I learned that as time passes and friends visit, things feel a little lighter.  I learned what it was like for my entire family to go move on together.

I learned that I will think of Oma everyday, and that isn't a sad thing. Because loving someone forever is a very beautiful thing.  

I am no longer a girl on the verge ... I am a girl on the verge of something big.  

But, what comes next?  

Not knowing isn't so scary anymore.  It's actually pretty exciting. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Peppermint Cake Balls & Mardi Gras/Valentines/Galentines

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Cake Balls 
for your Valentine ... or Galentine 

In New Orleans, it has just been party, party, party! Yesterday was Mardi Gras and I was covering the holiday for Nat Geo. So, I am a little late with my Valentine's and Galentine's plans.  I'm pretty sure hungover couples across New Orleans are scrambling to do some last minute Valentine's shopping. But have no fear, my fancy sounding (but easy) dark chocolate peppermint cake balls are here!

Easy, decadent dark chocolate peppermint cake balls. 

1 box Dark Chocolate Cake Mix (Chocolate is ok if you are in a jam)
1 can Dark Chocolate (or Chocolate) Frosting
2.5 teaspoons Peppermint Extract 
1 teaspoon almond or arak extract
Peppermint Sprinkles 
Dark Bakers Chocolate 

Combine the cake ingredients as directed. 
Stir in 1.5 teaspoons of peppermint extract and one teaspoon almond extract.  
Bake the cake as directed.
After cooling, combine cake with icing. 
You should start with half the can of icing 
and see if the dough is sticky and can be easily rolled into a ball.  
If not, add more icing until reaching desired texture.
Roll into 1” ball shape. 
Melt bakers chocolate and stir in the remaining peppermint extract 
- you can add more to taste. 
Decorate with peppermint sprinkles.
Enjoy with your Valentine or your Galentines

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Farewell 30 Rock & Cheesy Blasters

Farewell 30 Rock 
You will be missed 

Many of you already know how much I love T.V. — especially 30 Rock. But to properly tell this story, you must also know how crappy January 2013 was ... 

So, I won't be cute about it. It was pretty terrible.  It was Grandma passing away, long distance relationship, hand in a splint, getting the flu with an upper respiratory infection and a possible minor concussion bad. 

On top of it,  30 Rock was going off the air.  I know that is a stupid addendum, because a show is such a minor thing. But, there is more to it than that.  After Oma died, I was so depressed.  And very lonely. Robert, my sister and my friends were far away in other states.  The one thing I was looking forward to after a few weeks of grieving with my family was a trip to visit Robert.  On this trip, we were going to watch the 30 Rock finale together (Robert's love for Tina Fey only makes me love hime more) and make Cheesy Blasters.  

My trip didn't happen because I got the flu and an upper respiratory infection.  When I woke up sick, I cried.  My light at the end of the hardest month of my life went out.  There would be no visit. No Robert. And no Cheesy Blasters.  

I was wrong.

But, I'll get to that. 

You see if I learned anything in January, it is that just because the person you love isn't physically with you doesn't mean they are gone.  On the grander scale, I realized that my Oma is such a force in my life  she won't ever be gone from it.  I also learned that I have wonderful friends and family who will be there for me no matter how far they are.

I was at my parents house when I got the flu. So, last Thursday I asked my mom's permission for the T.V. at 7 p.m. She said no problem but suggested I take a much needed fever nap.  When I woke up at 6:30,  my mom had made Cheesy Blasters for dinner. And Robert called to arrange a video g-chat date while we watched the show.  

I logged in to video chat only to find I had an online surprise party waiting.  My sister had arranged the whole thing, down to the Cheesy Blaster. I watched the show with my mom, sister, brother in law, Robert and a couple of friends, even though we were in five different cities. And a few them had 30 Rock themed snacks: the aforementioned Cheesy Blaster, night cheese, Liz Lemon-ade and Sabores de Soledad.

I am so very lucky to have a such caring people in my life.  

Mom & me tuning in from NO, Emily in NY, Jake in BR, Sister & husband in DC and boyfriend in PA.


Cheesy Blasters 
And then Meat Cat flies off on his skateboard ... 

You take a hot dog
Stuff it with some jack cheese
Fold it in a pizza
You’ve got Cheesy Blasters

My mom took turkey dogs. Stuffed them with jack cheese. 

And rolled them in a pizza made with puff pastry.

You got Cheesy Blasters. 


P.S.  Let's take a moment to honor Liz Lemon, the every woman ... 


You're Welcome.

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