It’s been a little while since I posted. Now that we’ve had time to get moved in, unpacked, through the holidays, and (somewhat) organized, I’ve been logging a lot of hours in my favorite spot, the kitchen, as we’ve been hosting a bunch of guests over the past several days. It has been really fun to share our new space and start to really live life in our dig as we cook, lounge, and enjoy being home with some of our favorite people.
Our friends Matt and Amanda (Matt was one of our groomsmen) came from North Carolina and spent last Friday night with us before heading to Kansas City for a wedding. We were so excited to see them and loved that they had the extra time to make the three-hour trek north to hang out, if only briefly. I had the best of intentions to take some photos but the time was so short, it just never happened. (All the more reason to schedule a reunion again – soon!)
Page’s parents came just a few hours after our NC friends left, and stayed through the long weekend. It was fun to show them around a couple spots in Des Moines we hadn’t been with them before, and do lots of hanging out and movie-watching at the house. It was hard to get a good shot with the lights off, but I did manage to get this pic of Page and his parents at the diner inside Page’s office, of which he took them on a tour.
While Page isn’t a fan of jalapenos (I’m amazed how many people aren’t!) I can always count on my in-laws to be down for some spiciness. So I had this jalapeno popper dip ready when they arrived. Between the three of us, it was gone before the weekend was over. This is a SUPER easy dip and delish with Lime Tostitos. It’s best served hot, but unlike some dips, if it does sit out for a bit and cools down, it’s still tasty enough to serve.
A day after my in-laws’ departure, I hosted book club, which consisted of a dozen girls and we had the bonus of celebrating one of the girls’ soon-to-be-born baby girl. After so many friends have had baby boys, I was thrilled to use some PINK! If you’ve been on Pinterest, you’ve no doubt seen one of a zillion versions of these colorful layered cakes. I bought my 2×7 round pans at Sur La Table, and instead of gradually layering the pinks darker, I mixed up the shades. Lesson learned – this is a bit more involved than it looked in the photos – I really did try and vary each cake layer’s pinkness, but here they only look like two shades of pink. Tip: LOTS of food coloring is needed to pull this off!
Aside from cooking for guests, I’m just enjoying this blissful thing called “free time” to play around in the kitchen and I have found some new favorites I will definitely be making again!
First up was this cherry chocolate granola. I left out the coconut (not a fan) but otherwise followed the recipe exactly. It’s very tasty and much more fresh than boxed cereal. A goal of mine for 2012 is to eat more breakfast and this is a really good option to have on hand. It’s calorie-dense, but it’s also very filling and rich in fiber, so a little bowl goes a long way in staying full.
I’ve never been a huge fan of chicken tenders, but I know several people who go crazy for them (one redhead, in particular). I love this gal’s blog (fantastic recipes and photos to accompany) and this recipe for cheddar-crusted chicken fingers did not disappoint. They were easy to make and are a healthier alternative to the fried version you’d get in a restaurant, without sacrificing flavor.
I was out of college by the time I learned to love pad thai, but now that I have, it’s a mild obsession. This recipe could have easily passed for the “real deal” from a restaurant, but I cut down on the amount of oil called for (less greasy) and used whole grain linguine noodles – and didn’t taste any difference in the flavor. If anything, I liked the slightly chewier, heartier, texture. I only used about half the red pepper it calls for (still had some kick), and added a dash of ground ginger and about a tablespoon of peanut butter to be sure I could taste the peanut flavor. I ate these hot for dinner and then cold for lunch. I can’t decide which is better – they’re THAT good!
What’s cooking at your house lately? Planning any parties or hosting company anytime soon? We’re already getting stoked for a superbowl party and I’m planning to host my second annual Oscar party later next month!