Thursday, November 24, 2011

Recipes: Spaghetti Squash & Butternut Squash

This year Thanksgiving is obviously a little bit different for me and what originally was going to be a pot luck dinner with my friends has turned into a small very chill night with just a few of my favorite people. In all honesty, I think I kind of forced Thanksgiving on them because I didn't want to be alone. But to make up for it I am cooking an amazing meal (everything but the bird which someone else is taking care of) as my way of saying thank you for putting up with me, not only today but over the last three months.

I have to say, in the past when I've gone through hardships I've generally opted to do things by myself and shy away from life then emerge out of my cocoon more or less looking like a deformed butterfly. This time around I said things would be different, but even if I hadn't made that decision I don't think my friends would have let me do things any other way. Right now, more than any other time in my life, I have the most amazing support system and some of the best friends ever. I don't know if I'll ever be able to show just how much gratitude I have for them; hopefully making huge meals like this for the rest of my life will be a good start.

My menu consists of:

- Caramelized onion and goat cheese quiche
- Dressing (that's stuffing just not in the bird)
- Green bean casserole
- Butternut squash
- Spaghetti squash
- Ice cream for dessert (I was vetoed on actually making any dessert)

I am a little bit disappointed that my famous smoked gouda mac and cheese which is my contribution to most holiday meals and pot lucks is not on there, but I'm making it tomorrow for another get together and I couldn't do it two days in a row. But all of my other favorites are there, including multiple kinds of squash. I love 99% of squashes out there. Chalk it up to my obsession with the fall, but it's hard for me to be disappointed with this vegetable.

Here's the two recipes I used for the squashes listed above.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Cranberries:

- 1 Butternut squash halved and de-seeded
- 1/2 cup (or more depending on the size of the squash) of Cranberries

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place the squash directly on the oven's top rack with a cookie sheet on the bottom rack underneath (or if you're doing this at the same time as the other squash, put that baking dish underneath) to catch the juices that fall so that they don't burn and dirty your oven.
3. Cook until the squash is soft when pricked with a fork. Then let cool for 5-10 minutes.
4. When the squash is not hot anymore, peal the skin off (you should be able to do it with your hands, but you can also cut it with a knife or scoop the squash out with a big spoon).
5. Next cut the squash into chunks and place it in a small baking dish. Add the cranberries.

I've cooked this two different ways before so you have some choices with regards to the rest of the flavor:

Option 1:
1. Sprinkle in blue cheese and chopped walnuts. Stir to evenly distribute.
2. Add a drizzle of maple syrup on top then bake for another 10 minutes to melt the cheese.

Option 2:
1. Add 1/4 tsp of clove, 1/2 tsp of nutmeg, 1/4 tsp of cinnamon (all of these can be adjusted to your taste) and mix evenly.
2. Cut up 1/2 of a stick of butter and place all around the dish then bake for another 10 minutes until melted.

Spaghetti Squash:
(recipe adapted from this one by Emeril)

- One spaghetti squash
- water
- 1/2 stick of butter
- hazelnut oil (or olive oil)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of Adobo
- 1/2 tablespoon of Rosemary

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Using a sharp knife, cut the squash in half lengthwise and place, cut side down, in a baking dish. Add enough water to come 1/2-inch up the sides of the baking dish and cover with aluminum foil.
3. Bake for 45 minutes, until the squash is easily pierced with a fork. Turn squash over and cover with foil again and continue to cook another 15 minutes, until the squash is very tender. Remove from the oven, uncover, and allow to cool slightly.
4. Add butter to pan and melt it on medium. Using a spoon, remove the seeds and discard. Using a fork, gently pull the strands of squash away from the peel and place the squash strands into the pan.
5. Add 2 tablespoons of oil, rosemary, and Adobo. Saute the squash for 5 minutes stirring frequently. Serve while hot.

Monday, November 21, 2011

New Blog Button!

Please update your buttons and spread this new one around.


Tea Time for Lulu

What Did I Wear Today?

Not gonna lie, Employee Appreciation week is a dangerous time to work at Anthropologie. An extra 40% off the entire store including sale? Again, simply dangerous.

Skirt: Anthropologie
Shirt: Banana Republic
Shoes: Steve Madden
Necklace: Lia Sophia

Thursday, November 17, 2011

England how I miss thee

A lot of bloggers and other people I know are doing some educational traveling. Studying abroad or in some cases attending full graduate programs over seas. Reading about their adventures (and especially seeing the pictures they've posted) really makes me miss England. I spent a summer there during college and have visited two other times with family. Each time I have either visited or stayed with my Granny's cousins, William and Renee.

Amazing cooks and amazing people in general, the summer that I stayed with them they opened up their home and took me all over London and the country as if it were no problem. They made a different meal every night, took me to museums, old churches, and to visit other family and friends. They wanted to educate the little American girl who in their minds ate McDonald's every day, although luckily I wasn't going to vote to re-elect Bush (and they did ask me that on my first night there).

The back of their house. VERY British.

At times they drove me crazy; sometimes a young girl in London just wants to be a young girl in London. And there were days when I would skip class and just take the subway in to a random neighborhood and walk around seeing all the sights. William is also a debater and would strike up arguments over dinner, when I was tired, hungry, and missing my boyfriend at the time. But as a whole they were two of the most wonderful people I've had the pleasure to spend time with. And they were so in love. My parents are still together, but never in my life have I seen a couple more devoted to each other. A few years ago Renee passed away, and as much as I loved her, I felt so horrible for William. They very much had the stereotypical relationship of the doting yet stern motherly woman behind the eccentric goofy man. They were true soul mates and madly in love until the day she died. Not to mention the world lost a genuine and caring person.

If Renee was the heart of the house, William was the brains. He and I would go on day trips and he would tell me a hundred little facts about old buildings and parks we drove past. He is a walking encyclopedia of London, all things British, and anything created before 1900. He would have to read every little blurb provided at the museum. As you can see even trees were a curiosity to him. And he LOVED to talk to people. The last time I visited he struck up conversations with people of all ages, and lots of attractive women, just to interact with someone else (or in the case of women flirt just to be appreciative of their beauty). Sometimes he'd get this mischevious look on his face, turn to me with a smile and wink, and go off and do something silly. I couldn't help but think he reminded me of my Grandpa Pete (he passed away shortly after I got back from my summer abroad) who could not, not talk to people. I always thought his constant conversations must drive people nuts. "Who is this old man and why does he have to talk to me?" But seeing William do it made me smile to think that there were still friendly people out our world where most people would rather not make eye contact and are too busy with their own lives to bother with anyone else.

After reading my friend, Anne Marie's blog, about her host family in France I started to wonder if that's what all European men are like. Like they know this secret about life, and it's "who gives a shit?" They know nothing is worth being that bothered over and life is about being happy, not worrying over every little thing. I'd like to think in the last 5 years I've made it my life's mission to have this attitude more. So many things roll off my back now and when the time is right I get that devilish look in my eyes too. But I'm not there yet. Maybe that's what retirement is about?

Considering all that's been going on in my life right now I've been extremely stressed out and have my usual urge to run away from life for awhile. In high school and college I would often have these urges to run away to a place like the Outer Banks in North Carolina and find a small hotel that I could disappear to. I'd show up and say, "I'd like a room please," and be gone for a week. I wanted to be by myself to think and watch the ocean. A month ago I seriously considered going on a trip to a hostel in a state park for a weekend, but scheduling prevents me from doing that until January or so. If I had the money, I think I'd go to London and stay with William. I've got a little bit more freedom now, so who knows, maybe I'll be there sooner than I think.

I don't care if it's raining, I want to go back.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Big Changes

Obviously there are lots of big changes coming to the blog, including a new name. Finals are quickly approaching and I've got about a week and a half before I move so things will not be finalized until probably Thanksgivingish/December. Just wanted to keep you all in the loop!
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