Thursday, August 26, 2010

More List Love (from my home to yours)

I absolutely adore listmaking in all shapes and forms. The wrangling of chaos into one finite area, the neat handwriting (in my world, lists must be made with the most perfect handwriting you can muster), the check beside each task as it is completed. I've even given you a glimpse into my private world by sharing these listmaking sites with you in the past: Listography and Day Zero.

Recently (Tuesday) I decided to take my love o' lists to a whole new level and make a housecleaning schedule/list, and after my supreme productivity last night I'm not sure why I hadn't thought of it before! I'm not really a Suzy Homemaker (at all), and I'm not super neat or organized, and I surely don't sweat it if I didn't clean the house top to bottom before guests arrive (gasp!). Oh sure, I don't live in squalor or anything. If you came to my/Tom's house you would see that it is quite clean and looks pretty average I would say. No, I take that back. It looks slightly above average, because the housecleaning gods just so happened to place me with a guy who's pretty serious about housecleaning. He's the first person I've met who regularly cleans his baseboards and blinds, and this sort of cleanliness just gives me pause at times. So while I by no means have/want a messy house, I also haven't gone to any great lengths to put serious housecleaning on my schedule. But I've recently realized that while I have very little inspiration to clean for other people's joy, it actually makes me feel calm and peaceful and in charge when the house is clean and everything is in its own spot.

Enter Operation Housecleaning-List-Slash-Schedule (to the rescue!). Wednesday is bathroom day, and I tackled that task right when I got home. And I do mean tackle. Not content with the regular bathroom-cleaning regimen, I actually completely took apart our sink handles to clean them from the inside because some buildup was making them look less than stellar. This included turning the water off underneath the sink, using a screwdriver to take apart the handles and using an old toothbrush to clean the insides. I wish I'd taken some before and afters, but my bathroom-cleaning self could not be stopped for even a moment to go get the camera.

To make a long story even slightly longer, I'll just say that this little schedule of mine is going to revolutionize the way I feel about housekeeping. Goodbye "chore"! Goodbye "societal expectations"! Goodbye "dust bunnies"!

Hello order! Hello neat handwriting! Hello checkboxes!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Not Yet Autumn (but not so very far either)

Though summer is still here full-blast, the cool morning air lets me know that fall is not so very far away. And though I couldn't live without the season of lemonade, barbeques and pool parties, I absolutely love/adore/crave autumn. The crisp air, the falling leaves, the.... Well, I'm getting ahead of myself, because like I said, it's still hot as blazes out there. But when I saw this article in the New York Times, I started craving pie (not my favorite food). And though Durham is also not my favorite city, I may make a special trip for one of these babies:

Photo courtesy of the nytimes and this article

Happy Tuesday!!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

frozen banana ice cream sandwich

When I saw this little number that only Giada could whip up, I just knew I had to give it a whirl. Besides, nothing beats the heat quite like a Frozen Banana Ice Cream Sandwich. I won't give you a play-by-play on just how I whipped these up, because Giada did just that on the aforementioned site. But I will say that I injected some very special Dana-ness into these mini-indulgences by forgoing the premade cookie dough and by making my own chocolate chip cookies. I made the cookies Sunday night and put the sandwiches together Tuesday night. The cookies were a bit hard (I ended up eating these with a fork and knife rather than eating them like a sandwich), but still yummy.

Also, if you start making your cookies and then on your last batch pop in Amelie for your viewing pleasure, and then you forget about those baking cookies until your fiance says "Dana whats that smell?" just don't go blaming me for that. Because Amelie is a very engrossing movie, so its easy to slip into that magical little French world and forget that you've got your own little mess waiting for you in the kitchen behind you. Just sayin'.

But after this little burnt cookie fiasco, things went pretty smoothly.

Chopped up Skor bars

Equals some mad yums when spread on some melted chocolate on chocolate chip cookies (top of sandwich)

These are the bottoms of the sandwiches (note how the flat side of the cookies are up)

After letting both trays sit in the freezer for an hour or so..... cream is put on the bottom

And here they are assembled!

These are pretty yum, and surprisingly the bananas were my favorite part! They really made the dessert, but I do wish I could somehow soften up that cookie a little bit. I bet if I had assembled the sandwiches just after making the cookies it would have worked out better, but c'est la vie.

Well all, it is waaaaayyyyy past my bedtime, so I'm going to retire and not add any additional commentary. Hope y'all have a lovely evening, and be sure to stop by my sisters new blog if you get a free moment.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Coffee to Improve Thy Mood

First and foremost, I would like to deeply apologize for my extended absence from el blogosphere. My only excuse is to say that I have been in a Funk, capitol F. And I'm sure you all know what its like to be in a Funk capitol F, so I truly hope you understand.

In trying to come up with all manner of ways to get out of my Funk, I was perusing facebook (not - if I may say so myself - a good way to get out of a Funk). But on this particular day I got lucky, because I saw my friend Morgan's status. And it said this: "this coffee is making life much more okay." And believe you me, this little pearl of wisdom resonated deep within my soul. But since this was a Funk with a capitol F, I knew that any ol' cup of coffee wouldn't do the trick. No sir ee bob. I decided to make myself some good old fashioned iced coffee. And when I hit on this recipe, I knew I found The One. Thats not entirely true since I changed a whole ton about the recipe before all was said and done, but it provided much inspiration.

I had about a cup of cold coffee left over from this morning, so I put it in a measuring cup along with about a half cup of skim milk.

I then added this to my blender full of ice, a quarter of a can of sweetened condensed milk and a big squirt of chocolate sauce.

Now comes the fun part..... I don't have a blender that plugs into the wall. Nope, I have a tailgating blender, which my parents so kindly got me for Christmas last year. I absolutely love it, because Tom and I so frequently go camping and vacationing and its nice to have a blender that will mix up drinks for you while you are stuck in the woods. However, this blender only runs when it is plugged into the cigarette lighter of my car. So of course I had to walk across my neighborhood to my car with blender in hand. And seeing how it is just starting to cool off outside, lots of my neighbors are sitting out front right about now, and they must have wondered "what in tarnation is that girl doing?" And they did, because they asked me just such a question. I told them what I was doing, and they seemed satisfied by my answer because they originally thought I was making cocktails out there.

So anywho, it was a tad embarrassing to air my dirty dishes if you will, but also quite fun because I'm sure it gave the neighbors a laugh. And it gave me one as well.

My iced coffee was delicious, and it sure did bring me out of my Funk, which is sure to happen if you carry a blender around your neighborhood just to make iced coffee in your car.

But if you happen to know where I can find something to convert my cigarette lighter plug into a wall plug, I surely would appreciate it.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Banoffe Pie (American Style)

Hello all! I'm back from Ireland and couldn't be happier to be back in the Dirty South (even if does happen to be brutally hot). My family had loads of fun on the Emerald Isle, but I won't try to sum up the vacation here. Its too hard to reflect on a vacation when you just got off the plane, so I'll just jump in to today's recipe.

One of the highlights of the trip was - you guessed it - eating (and photographing what I was eating). I had a piece of Banoffe Pie while I was in Galway, and decided to try it out for myself after getting a copy of The Irish Pub Cookbook from the library. The book had a great starter recipe in it, but I made a lot of modifications to please my strawberry-loving palate.

Strawberry Banana Banoffe Pie

7 digestive buscuits, crumbled*
3 T butter, softened
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 bananas
~1/2 pint heavy whipping cream
dash vanilla
condensed sugar (perhaps a tablespoon)
several strawberries

*These are kind of like shortbread cookies. I found them in my grocery store in the foreign foods section, but you could easily use shortbread cookies or do a graham cracker crust.

Mix the buscuits and the butter, and press into a pie pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes (or until browned).

Put sliced bananas over cooked crust.

Put the can of sweetened condensed milk into a 2 quart glass bowl. (This is very important! I put mine in a much smaller bowl and I made a huge mess in my microwave.) Microwave on medium power for four minutes, stirring halfway through. Microwave on low power for 10-12 minutes, stirring every two minutes, or until the contents become thick and toffee colored. Spread mixture over bananas.

Whip cream with an electric mixture until peaks occur, adding powdered sugar and vanilla. Whipped cream is fantastic just by itself, so don't sweat it if you don't have vanilla or powdered sugar.

Spread the whipped cream over the mixture, and add sliced strawberries.

Refrigerate the pie to allow it to cool and harden (I refrigerated the pie for 24 hours, but you could chill for as little as an hour).

And there you have it, a fairly simple dessert. A note of caution: don't expect to be able to slice and serve this as you would any normal pie. The crust is not too cohesive (as you can see in the earlier photograph), and it becomes soft. Cut this as you would a pie and hope for the best, but expect to scoop a fair amount of it with a spoon.

I really didn't know how this would turn out, but I just had a piece and am really impressed! The condensed milk is still a tad too sweet for my tastes, so I may use half a can next time I make this. Stay tuned for more this week, especially if you've ever wanted to make your own homemade cheese.....
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