Cocktail Hour

In the words of Julia Child, "A little wine never hurt anyone."

I actually have no idea if she said that. She probably didn't. BUT I think she would agree.

One of the long standing holiday (and otherwise) traditions in my family, is cocktail hour.  Before dinner, we all just hang out, have a drink, laugh, and prepare our bellies for the delicious feast that will inevitably follow.  While you could just pour a glass from the same bottle you're cooking with a la Julia Child (don't lie, you know 95% of your best recipes involve wine), it is infinitely more chic to have a rolling bar cart.  Just like the baby jesus in a tuxedo t-shirt it says, "I'm classy....but I'm here to party." For me, a bar cart is an integral component of the dream apartment I'm constantly redecorating inside my head.  It's a great way to show off beautiful liquor bottles, and constructing the perfect cocktail is so much easier with all of the ingredients in one place. These are just a few of the carts I would love to have in the corner of my dream sitting room.


Linguine with Clam Sauce

By the end of Christmas shopping, it seems everyone is feeling a little broke.  Christmas gifts, cookies, decorations, and the salvation army man outside the grocery store have made off with pretty much every spare dollar in your wallet.  So what's a girl to do when she's hungry and wants to celebrate the end of the semester?

Last night I was faced with just such a dilemma as Laura, one of my best friends in the whole entire world, came over for dinner.  I decided to whip up a simple clam sauce with linguine which was easy, comforting, delicious, and possibly best of all, only $9 to the feed the two of us INCLUDING wine (heyooo thanks trader joe's!!).


Butternut Squash and Walnut Ravioli

In the winter, there's something so comforting about the flavor of butternut squash.  It's sweet, buttery, smooth, and oh so good with pretty much everything.  Last night I got a hankering (ya. I said hankering. Let's talk about it.) for butternut squash.  My roommates and I were in the midst of a Christmas season apartment cleaning frenzy, and in an effort to also clean out the refrigerator, I thought this could do double duty as a perfect vehicle for some left over walnuts and a bag of spinach that was dangerously close to un-salad worthy.  As you can see, the spinach didn't make it into the final dish.  The frenzy of cleaning supplies and "throw it out" attitude just became TO FRENZIED and the bag disappeared into the night.
Not to worry, this was absolutely delicious without the spinach (and I'm serrrrrrr looking forward to having some for lunch today!) but I do think the slightly bitter taste and touch of green would be a fantastic addition, so if you have it, add it! (am I sensing a new catch phrase?)


Dreamy Chocolate and Peanut Butter Fruit Dip

I rarely use the word dreamy because I think it sounds cheesy, but this is literally.....dreamy.  Like I thought it up in a dream.  Like the angel Gabriel came down from the heavens and bestowed upon me a gift of delicious proportions.
Ok, the angel Gabriel wasn't actually in my dream.  
BUT I did have a dream about a giant pot of molten chocolate with peanut butter swirls I was dipping bananas in, and I decided I just had to do it in real life.  It took a little bit of finagling with proportions to find the perfect ratio of peanut butter to chocolate, but the results were fantastic.  One of my roommates doesn't like bananas (she's only eaten one once and it traumatized her) so I decided to branch away from my dream inspiration so she could try the final product.  I had some green apples and clementines on hand, so those also got chopped up and thrown in the mix.  I wouldn't necessarily advocate the use of clementines again, but the apples were deeeelicious and the bananas were literally to die for.
Side note: Freeze the bananas after you dip them. Your taste buds won't know what hit them.


Blueberry-Honey Parfait

For some strange reason I've always been a morning person.  I frequently wake up a few minutes before my alarm clock goes off, and I've never been one to sleep into the afternoon.  In short, the rooster is afraid of ME!!!  This comes in handy on mornings like these where I am deep in the midst of finals week, and after an extremely frustrating evening, finished little to no work last night.

So here I bring to you a second study snack (actually it's more of a study breakfast) that I think those Harvard doctors I insulted yesterday would be a little more fond of: the blueberry-honey parfait.  Yogurt is a secret sugar trap, and often contains just as much as a candy bar.  A CANDY BAR!!! I know, I know, you thought it was so good for you and now your world is crashing down in SHAMBLES around your feet.

BUT WAIT, if candy bars make you fat, and yoplait is always advertising that yogurt makes you skinny, wouldn't that be false advertising??

I'm not even going to bother getting into how flawed the study yoplait used was (seriously. flawed.), but basically that has to do with how sugar is metabolized by your body.  As I'm sure you know, your body needs energy to run, and this energy comes from sugar.  It doesn't matter what you eat (protein, fat, etc) in the end, your body converts everything to sugar before it uses it for energy.  When you eat sugar that is already...well....sugar (like in a candy bar), your body can only use exactly the amount it needs at that exact moment at a time. All the rest is converted to fat and stored for those cold winter months while you're hibernating.  I don't know about you, but I don't want a hibernation layer, I'm all set wearing big winter coats instead to stay warm.  If you eat sugar and protein together (like yogurt), the protein helps your body to slowwww dowwwwn how quickly it breaks down the sugar, so you have more time to use it, so you end up using  more of the sugar you just ate for energy, and less of it can become fat.

Long story short: less sugar=less fat; sugar+protein= less fat than sugar alone

Greek yogurt has more protein than regular yogurt, so in this recipe I used it plain (without added sugar), and added just enough honey for my taste buds.  Completely aside from the health factor, I absolutely love the flavor honey lends to the tanginess of plain yogurt.  Combine this with blueberries, granola, and a big steaming cup of coffee, and I think we have a perfect breakfast.


Blueberry Muffins

That's right.  It's finals week at the New England School of Acupuncture.  Guess who has two thumbs, and is going to kill her finals?  This girl.

Here's another rhetorical question, how does the future best acupuncturist on the planet (again, this girl, HEYO) stay alert, focused, and energized while spending an absurd number of hours in the library? Coffee and.....study snacks!!!

Without further ado, I present to you study snack #1: Blueberry Muffins.

I'm sure there's some Harvard educated doctor out there telling you that muffins aren't good study snacks because they have too much sugar and blah blah protein makes your brain run blah blah blah.  What do I say to that doctor? Go back to Cambridge.  On this side of the river we eat muffins whenever we want!!!


Classic Apple Pie

After all the trouble I have even making a perfectly smooth and hole-free pie crust (see my woes here), if I am going to make a pie, I am going to MAKE a PIE. One of the greatest food crimes committable is an under-filled crust.  I mean that.  Go ahead, cook your eggs to quickly and burn your vegetables (a little charring never REALLY hurt anyone), but DO NOT neglect your pie filling.  So here, my friends, is a recipe with enough filling to satisfy even the deepest of deep dish pie pans.  What's that you say? Your pie pan is only a normal depth?  Well how about I answer your question with another question, how many people do you see complaining about an extra full pie?


Princess Eggs Benedict

Maybe I was just a strange child, but I've always loved asparagus.  It's flavor is so unique and much more profound that most other green vegetables.  Combine it with hollandaise sauce, and what is there not to love?  If my 5 year old self had known that this version of eggs benedict is most often referred to as the "princess variation," I'm pretty sure I would have point blank refused to eat anything else for breakfast.  Luckily for my waistline, a good hollandaise sauce requires care and an attention to detail I'm usually lacking early in the morning.  It is therefore a treat reserved strictly for Sunday brunch.


Cranberry Sauce

I'm about to say something that will not be popular among food bloggers everywhere.

I like canned cranberry sauce.

I KNOW!!! I should be ashamed, but you know what? I'm not. Not even a little bit.  Sure it has an unnatural texture, shape, and mysteriously ambiguous origin (WAS it ever a cranberry?), but something about it reminds me of my childhood and is just plain comforting.  In fact, I'm such a fan of the canned stuff that I absolutely refused to eat any other kind of cranberry sauce until I was well into high school.  My first experience with real cranberry sauce was nothing less than religious.  The flavors of the home made variety are infinitely more complex and I was instantly hooked.  In all honesty, I eat cranberry sauce all year long, it's just plain too good to be eaten only on Thanksgiving! So the next time you feel like treating your taste buds to something truly delicious, I suggest you whip up a batch of this (it freezes beautifully) and eat it on everything from sandwiches to turkey burgers all the way up to (and through!) summer.