thursday things – new oreos, the perfect butter knife, and my life lately

sunset

Happy almost Friday (which will really be my Thursday, because I work on Saturday so Saturday will be my Friday and then Monday will be my Sunday and I’ll be off kilter the whole week and have no idea what day it is ever!)

Both of my home cities have made national news lately, most recently here in AZ we have had some massive flooding. It’s monsoon season so storms are relatively normal but I haven’t seen flooding on this scale since I’ve lived here…

It’s been pretty exciting.

One thing about living in the desert is that nothing happens, generally speaking, so when something DOES happen suddenly everyone in your contacts list is a weatherman (or woman). You get texts all the time like “THERE’S LIGHTNING BY OUR HOUSE IS THERE LIGHTING OVER BY YOU?” or “THE WIND SURE IS PICKING UP!” or “OMG RAIN! HEADING NE FROM THE SW!”

Thanks, weathermen! I would be lost without all of you ;)

My other (original) hometown of Toledo, Ohio was made national headlines a couple of weeks ago too. Not for storms, though. For having toxic water. Like no drinking, no bathing, no touching, no boiling TOXIC WATER. My amazing niece even made a vlog about it.

Although I’m generally against vanity plate, I saw one that I love on my way home from the gym the other day…

beef plate

Meanwhile in the rest of the world…

Serious Eats explains why we can’t substitute dutched cocoa for regular cocoa (all the time).

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China is eating pears that look like buddha.

This guy is making spiropancakes.

I’ve been ruining my steaks for all these years by thawing them before cooking them when I should be cooking them straight from frozen.

Frozen

For the record, I did try this method over the weekend. Although my steaks were cooked perfectly through, the process was rather messy. It requires starting off with a pretty good amount of oil in your pan on the stovetop and then transferring it to the oven. For me, that meant that I spent the time while the steak was in the oven cleaning oil splatters off of my stovetop, counter, microwave, nearby floor and just general surrounding area…

So, although your steak will be perfectly cooked, your kitchen will be covered in oil splatters so… maybe I’ll just stick to the usual way of cooking steak.

Meanwhile Nabisco has released caramel apple oreos for fall and pumpkin spice may be on the way… This whole oreo thing is getting a little out of control, don’t you think?

Humans have finally perfected the butter knife - Thanks, Kickstarter!

And yes, I pledged because I NEED THIS EFFING KNIFE! There are few things in life that are more enraging than tearing your bread when trying to spread cold butter on it.

Foodbeast taught us how to turn soft tortillas into hard taco shells (hint: it involves the microwave).

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I discovered a fun new iPhone game. I didn’t download it (99 cents!? Do they think I’m made of money or something?!)  but the video advertisement is rather amazing… if it’s ever free I’m totally going to download it.

 

 

 

thursday things – how to up your watermelon game and the best things i ate in july

Another Thursday has arrived, my friends, and we must embrace it before it goes again!

Hopefully you were able to indulge in National Cheesecake Day. If you don’t have time to make your own, get to the Cheesecake Factory stat! They have half price off their cheesecake slices today (the catch – it’s “dine-in only”) and their lemon meringue cheesecake looks crazy fun.

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Just look at it!

Meanwhile, here’s how I’ve spent the last week…

Part of the week was spent covered in dust. Because we live in the desert.

Why would someone want to live in the desert? You got me there, I haven’t the foggiest idea who the first person was who got to Phoenix and said, “Hey! Let’s build a big city here so everyone can be hot and miserable and covered in dust! Sounds great!”

I spent way too much time laughing way too hard at this video of goats. Goats are like the new cats of the internet. You heard it here first, people.

Chef Thomas Keller was on NPR’s ‘Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me‘ last weekend.

Apparently, Americans have stopped buying cereal, among other things.I can only assume that’s because they haven’t heard of this stuff yet (Which, though delicious, just tastes a lot like peanut butter crunch. So if you can’t find it, don’t fret, just pick up some PB Crunch and be on your way!):

jif cereal

Don’t worry, cereal industry, I’m here for you. I will fall for all your fad cereal tricks. Don’t worry <3.

The age-old question of – “Can you cook a steak with lava?” was answered…

Oh, you never wondered about that? Well, now you know.

I learned that cutting watermelons is way easier than I’ve been making it look all these years… I can’t wait to completely destroy a watermelon when I attempt to do this one myself.

I’ve found yet another useless item that I need to aid me in dipping all my Oreos… My favorite part is that it will only work for Oreos (and their knock-off wanna be counterparts) making it a truly and completely inexcusable purchase.

oreo dipper

South Korean activists are sharing the love with their northern neighbors by sending them airborne chocopies.

I’ve decided to start calling donuts “sugar bagels” and gloves are henceforth known as “finger pants.” Thank you.

Oh, and this evil genius made a sugar bagel pie! I can feel my adult onset diabetes kicking in just looking at it…

donut pie

And China is trying to reignite its people’s passion for peaches. With sexy undergarments.

Best Things I Ate in July 

With the end of the Whole 30 and my ability to enjoy real food again and a trip to San Deigo – What were the best things I ate this month?

For starters, this creamy burrata from Grassroots Kitchen in Phoenix, AZ.  Served with dressed arugula, spicy tomato jam, and toasted (but not too toasted) ciabatta this stuff is like the nectar of the gods, people!  Other items on the menu that tantalized my taste buds included their brisket sliders and their baby back ribs, which were beyond tender and oh-so-delicious.

burrata

This panzanella salad with toasted country bread, heirloom tomato, aged salami, feta, banana peppers, caper berries, red onion, balsamic vinaigrette from Craft & Commerce in San Diego, CA… which had me practically licking the plate clean.

craft and commerce

This enormous apple fritter (which is also available with bacon!) from Donut Bar in San Diego, CA.

fritter

These Dang chips (haha- THEY’RE REALLY CALLED “DANG”) But seriously, they’re crunchy, sweet, and salty all rolled into one delightful snack.

DANG CHIPS

 

thursday things – wee eats san diego (again)

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HI HI HI HI HI HI HI!

Those of you who follow on Instagram know by now that FH and I took a quick trip to San Diego last week.  We rented a place on airbnb, which was a perfectly-situated adorable apartment… slightly on the major flight path of the airport (the above picture was taken standing outside the apartment). Every day I waited for the loud crashing sound of the airplane not quite clearing one of the buildings…

While our primary goal was to take care of wedding-planning things, we managed to accomplish my secondary goal of eating our faces off as well.

Seriously. So much eating.

If you’ve never been to San Diego I insist that you go – it’s basically in the 70s all year long with the only downside being the humidity which hovers around 1,000,000% at any given time. But the city is absolutely gorgeous and full of delicious foodstuffs, like these:

Cucina Urbana

We ate here the last time we visited the San Diego area, but this time we “coincidentally” ended up staying just a few short blocks away… so we ate here a few times on this trip. On top of the delicious food, I love the ambiance of this restaurant. I did learn, however, that you must make reservations. They are booked. Always. All the time. However, if you like to live on the edge (like us) and not make reservations for anywhere, you can grab a seat at the bar if one is open and still enjoy everything the menu has to offer along with friendly chit-chat from the bartenders.

Below you will see the formaggi + salumi (a sort of build-your-own charceuterie board) which comes with a pear compote, several mustards, red pepper, and some of the best honey I’ve ever tasted. Amazing. Below that is their ricotta gnudi with arrabiatta sauce which, although it only comes with five little gnudis (to be fair, it’s a “side” item) is actually rather filling. They are light, pillowy ricotta dumplings swimming in a bright and flavorful tomato sauce. Lastly, their giant meatball (also a “side” item, I was clearly feeling snacky this day). I’m a bit of a meatball snob but this meatball is pretty solid. Their pizzas are all amazing as well.

 cucina urbana antipasti gnudi meatball

Craft & Commerce

FH and I stopped in for lunch after walking 23942384 miles around the city and shared their giant panzanella salad and some french fries. Their panzanella isn’t as bread-centric as most, which I consider a plus, however I’m not sure what percentage of a salad is supposed to be bread in order for it to be officially considered a “panzanella.”

This particular salad comes topped with all of my favorite things, including pickled red onions, finely sliced salami, and feta cheese. My tummy is rumbling just thinking about it…

craft and commerce

Fun fact – even though everyone stares at me like a crazy person when I say it, “panzanella” is actually pronounced “pan-za-nell-uh’ and NOT ‘pan-za-nay-uh’. Look it up, I promise. No go forth with this knowledge and do with it what you will.

Pappalecco

pappalecco

FH and I passed by this place on our way to breakfast at Hash House and the aroma nearly took us off our course. We stopped in on the way back to our car and couldn’t resist ordering a couple lattes, a prosciutto sandwich, and an almond croissant to go.

This place has what very well may be the best latte I have ever put in my mouth. Hands down. Their almond croissant was a standard croissant split and filled with sweet almond paste and topped with sliced, sugared almonds. It was to DIE for, and their prosciutto sandwich is lightly-grilled, just enough to warm the insides, and one bite will transport you straight to Italy.

I mean, I’ve never been to Italy, but I’m assuming that’s where it was taking me…

Hash House

Hash House is pretty well-known and I’ve been to their Vegas location before but didn’t realize they had locations elsewhere in the country. The food is good but I think they are more known for their over-the-top portions. These pictures really do the food no justice because these plates are at least 12-inches in diameter… at least.

hash house french toast

FH got the french toast which is dipped in banana cinnamon cream with pecan maple syrup. It comes topped with pecans, strawberries, and roasted bananas. I got the strawberry frosted flake pancakes which are pancakes filled with, you guessed it, strawberries and Frosted Flakes. Because how many times have you been eating your pancakes and wondering why they weren’t filled with Frosted Flakes?

hash house pancake

I’m pretty sure any one menu item here could feed at least four people… just saying.  But of course you’ll never share them because there are so many options that you will want to try…

Extraordinary Desserts

This was on our list to stop at as part of our “wedding cake” investigation. I had planned to try a few flavors of cake but since we ended up here at 10:00 AM on a Sunday morning, my body wasn’t as prepared as I’d have liked it to be. We settled on trying a flavor similar to what we were considering for the wedding and grabbed a lemonade too.

We tried the Ivoire Royale which has layers of vanilla bean-soaked pound cake, whipped white chocolate ganache, fresh berries, and whipped cream.

extraordinary desserts ivoire royale

We did not feel the need to stop at any other cake shops while on our trip.

Panera

Of course we had to go to Panera.

I know that it’s a chain but whenever we leave Arizona we look for Panera. This was an obligatory stop. They did finally build a Panera here in town but a> it’s out of the way of anywhere I go, b> it’s a super tiny downtown location with a limited menu, and c> THEY DON’T SERVE BAGUETTES!!!  WTF IS THAT ABOUT, PANERA!?

panera

Anyway, it was too hot for soup but I got their strawberry poppyseed salad with a flatbread sandwich… AND A MOTHER-EFFING BAGUETTE. BECAUSE I COULD. I think I’m just super not into the bread generally used for “flatbread” anything (lavash and pita are good, anything else… no thanks) but I approved of the salad, and of course of the baguette.

Pinkberry

pinkberry

Oh Pinkberry, God of the Frozen Yogurt. Another thing we don’t have in AZ (not in Phoenix at least… how? Not sure.) I will seriously eat anything if you put that luxe chocolate topping on it – “milk chocolate crunch” is what they call it. It’s like a super creamy chocolate sauce filled with crunchy rice crisps(? maybe?)…. I’m not completely sure what is in it really. Probably crack, though, because that sh*t is addictive. I’m getting the shakes just thinking about it…

Donut Bar

donut bar

Donut Bar was the main thing on my radar pre-San-Diego. It was on my list last time but we didn’t make it to the shop because we were staying way far north up in La Jolla. I did not allow us to make the same mistake again.

Donut Bar is famous for its unique and creative donut flavors, and for being crazy busy, and for selling out of everything super early. I’m not sure if Tuesday mornings just aren’t their thing, if the rain scared everyone away, or if sweet baby Jesus was just smiling down on us from above because we saved this as our last stop and hit it first thing Tuesday morning before we left town. We mucked up the parking a bit (I saw a valet stand and urged FH to pull up to it because I forgot any of my meter change and, hello, VALET!) and it turns out if we had driven like five more feet towards our beloved donut shop we would have seen tons of free street parking. Oops.

The Strawberry Split donut was a must, with fresh berries and whipped cream sandwiched between a light and fluffy cinnamon-sugar donut. This thing is like heaven. It’s also huge, actually, all of their donuts are huge. Their yeasted donuts are probably a solid 5 or 6 inches in diameter. FH and I made a team effort to take this one down and still didn’t make it all the way through.

donut bar strawberryAnd, because sometimes you can’t choose just one… or two…. or six donuts to sample. We went for the bakers dozen, nevermind that there were only two of us.

Decisions are hard but “one of each” is easy. Unfortunately they didn’t have their “Cro-Bar” cronut, so I have yet to see what that hype is about…

donuts

In case you were wondering what $40 of donuts looks like… now you know.  bottom-left is the best apple fritter of your life, you already met the strawberry split, a super delicious salted caramel which is a raised donut topped with salted caramel glaze and a sprinkle of sea salt, and a boston cream pie donut.

Up top we have maple bacon – which is a raised donut topped with a maple glaze and, well, bacon (duh). I thought it would have a filling for some reason but it didn’t, the flavor of that donut was great though – obviously – since maple and bacon were made for each other.

None of the doughs are too sweet, which makes it much easier to consume their sugar-laden toppings.

The music note one is the “Elvis” which has banana cream filling and peanut butter glaze, the criss-cross one is a mud pie which is topped with oreo crumbs, peanut butter, and glaze. Then you see red velvet and cookie and cream cake donuts… the giant pistachio-lemon donut (which tasted mostly just like a lemon-glazed donut with a bit of pistachios sprinkled on top), then going back up the right side is a blueberry meyer lemon which was a blueberry cake donut (not much blueberry flavor going on) with a lemon glaze, an old-fashioned donut topped with a delicious vanilla bean glaze, and their famous creme brulee donut. The creme brulee is filled with vanilla cream, and topped with crunchy bruleed sugar. I thought this one would be my favorite but I found the filling to be too sweet and tasted almost just like powdered sugar to me. /Shrug.

Strawberry split was definitely my favorite, the apple fritter and old fashioned were close behind.

Because these came home with us, I had to make sure to take the utmost care on the trip home to ensure their safety. They had a buffer zone around them to ensure they wouldn’t be squished and since they were my babies I made sure to buckle them in nice and snug.

seatbelt

FH definitely judged me.

thursday things – how to shuck corn in the microwave, how to remove grease stains, and a hedgehog’s birthday party

pusheen ice cream

Happy Thursday~ It is extra happy for me because I’M GOING ON VACATION THIS WEEKEND!!!

We are fleeing the oppressive 100+ degree heat and suffocating 50% humidity of Phoenix’s monsoon season for the cool 70 degrees and ocean breeze of San Diego. Can’t wait.

Meanwhile, The internet…

Earned over $40k for this guy to make potato salad

Taught me how to shuck corn in the microwave

Explained why some of you hate cilantro (with science!)

Reminded me of my love for goats

TheKitchn taught me how to remove those pesky grease stains (since I refuse to wear an apron for some reason).

Food52 helps me learn how to pit stone fruit so that I can stop buying it pre-sliced (aren’t they nice?)

And remember that hamster with the burrito? Well, they just celebrated his hedgehog friend’s birthday.

 

You’re welcome.

 

 

thursday things – life after whole30, new kitchen gadgets, and a 4th of july recipe round-up

I DID IT! I SURVIVED THE WHOLE 30!

From now on my desserts will look like these “croNOTS” - made from donut-shaped apple slices and healthy toppings like almond butter and yogurt!

Just kidding.

W30 was fun, and I learned some things about myself and the food I eat, but I’m happy to be able to say ‘yes’ again to things like quinoa, and rice, and peanut butter, and cake.

And these:

reeses oreo pkg

Much to everyone’s surprise (especially my own) I haven’t actually had either chocolate OR peanut butter since I finished the diet, which means I’ve officially achieved a lifetime record of going over one month without either of them!

I haven’t cracked these beauties open yet because I’m afraid that, after all that healthy crap I’ve been eating, they will just taste like pure sugar and chemicals… So I’ve decided to give my taste-buds a week or two to adjust to the real world before I break them open.

After that, MURDER.  May god have mercy on their delicious cookie souls.

Fruit season is upon us and since we’ve been demolishing fruit like its nobody’s business (FH has a serious rainier cherry addiction, if they didn’t have such a short season I may be more concerned). We decided to enhance the speed at which we can inhale our sweet treats by making two new friends: Professor Hullsworth and his less distinguished counterpart Pitts (he likes to pit cherries).

gadgets

I’m more of a minimalist really so for the past few years I’ve been convincing myself that these were unnecessary kitchen items and a waste of money. After about a week of owning them I am happy to say that they may actually be my two favorite kitchen gadgets. Maybe I really DO need that apple-corer after all…

Meanwhile on the internet…

This guy totally wasted his free pet owl by throwing it outside.

Wit and Vinegar made the donuts of my dreams

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Eater began its own cookbook review column ….

We uncovered the truth about cookie butter

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TheKitchn introduced us to the future of food packaging …

Japan again shows us that they are superior in every way by creating a penguin GPS app

And my froyo dreams are finally coming true with the creation of an automatic froyo dispenser (with an awesome f*cking name – THE FROBOT!). At the low, low price of 30K I don’t know how I can NOT invest in one, really…

Finally, with our country’s day of independence just around the corner, who would I be to rob you of a RECIPE ROUNDUP?

4th of July Recipe Round-up

Appetizers

Halloumi cheese bites from A Periodic Table (via Feast Magazine)

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These itty bitty cute caprese bites (add more bits of tomato and cheese and turn them into caprese skewers!)

Pass the Sushi‘s Huli-Huli bacon chicken bites

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Herbed cream-cheese avocado canapes from Natasha’s Kitchen

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Mains

Emma Magazine’s BBQ Meatball Sandwiches with Peach Slaw

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SkinnyTaste’s BBQ shrimp skewers

Quick-Grilled-BBQ-Shrimp-Recipe

 Grilled garlic-basil chicken breasts from yours truly

Slow cooker pulled pork from Kitchen Mason 

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Pioneer Woman’s oven-barbecued chicken

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Or give these 5-chili turkey burgers a try

Sides

Movita Beacoup‘s potato salad

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Herbed quinoa garden salad from Pinch of Yum

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Foolproof Living’s watermelon, avocado, and mint salad with feta

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Fresh sweet corn salad from Our Best Bites

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Desserts

How about a super easy s’mores icebox cake?

Or, if you’re feeling extra motivated, you can make this American Flag Cake from Food52

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Or, slightly less taxing, are these roasted berry napoleons from My Baking Addiction

roastedberrynapoleons

How about these delectable peanut butter s’mores bars from Just a Taste?

oven-smores-bar-recipe

Drinks

Bomb Pop Shots from A Beautiful Mess

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These super easy watermelon margaritas from yours truly

watermelon margarita 1330

This refreshing (alcohol-free) strawberry-basil soda from Striped Spatula

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