Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Cafe Latte Chocolate Turtle Cake

Cafe Latte Turtle Cake. Otherwise known as, I'm officially awesome.

Make this cake. I promise, it's incredibly freaking good. And, bonus, not hard, but don't tell anyone. I have never made a cake from scratch before in my life, but made this and it's amazing. I didn't have enough batter for three cake pans, so, went with just two, but this was plenty.


PS. Because my mom asked... No, I did not use any sort of fancy chocolate. I made this with regular Nestle's Toll House chocolate chips and Hershey's Cocoa.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Crockpot Thursday: Moroccan Lentil Soup

So, for awhile I've been on somewhat of a soup kick. It's just what I'm craving after walking around in the cold. (I know I can't complain about it being cold in NYC after living in Minneapolis, but whatever). Lately I've been really wanting to figure out how to make Moroccan Harira Soup. This was the stuff my friend Emily and I feasted on nearly every day in Marrakech during our around the world adventure. It was always a little different, no matter where we went. But it was always warm and delicious, eaten with big wooden ladles.

So, when I saw this recipe for Moroccan Lentil Soup, I thought maybe, maybe it'd be right. Alas, it was not my Harira. However, what it was, was super tasty. And easy. And cheap. And super ridiculously healthy. You can't really go wrong there.

I sort of followed the recipe, however, I am just getting used to the fact that I like beans, so, no need to push it. I only used garbonzos and lentils, no pinto beans. I also added a few extra cloves of garlic, because I think, generally, that's always a good idea.

Also, I never really measure vegetables, so I probably used more then it called for. I chopped up probably 4 or 5 carrots, 3 or 4 stalks of celery, and a whole medium yellow onion.

I didn't have Garam Masala or nutmeg, so these got left out. I've seriously looked for Garam Masala all over the place and can not find it anywhere. I am beginning to think it's made up. Instead I added a little extra cayenne, and a bit of oregano and paprika, just because.

This stuff cooked up beautifully and smelled great. We ate it with some French bread and it was delicious. Warm and very flavorful, but not too spicy. There was more then plenty to fill Alex and I up and have leftovers for lunch for a couple days. Success!

And just for the heck of it, you can enjoy our Moroccan soup with a little taste of actual Morocco!

Merzuga Dunes at sunrise. One of the most incredible landscapes I've ever seen. 

Snake charmers in Djemaa el Fna, Marrakech. Yes, there seriously were snake charmers. And acrobats, and everything else you could imagine. This place was a circus like no other. 

Sunrise on the dunes. 

Riding camels into the desert. 

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Happy Valentine's Sushi Extravaganza!

Thinking about plans for Valentine's this year, I knew we weren't going to be able to go out for a big fancy dinner. New York fancy dinners are expensive enough without adding a big Hallmark holiday on top of them. Plus, sometimes just the sheer amount of choice of where to go in Manhattan is overwhelming. 

So, instead of stressing, we decided to stay in. And not just stay in and be boring, but stay in and make sushi!! We had gotten a whole sushi making themed gift from our dear friends Erin and Ben for our wedding last May and had yet to use it. We figured it would make an excellent Valentine's project! 

I asked one the Japanese students where I work where we should pick up the ingredients. She recommended a place called Sunrise Market in SoHo. Thanks Masae!! This place was adorable. It was small, but had everything we could possibly need for sushi. It also had very few things in English, which made our shopping all the more exciting. :-) I love looking at all kinds of different food in Ethnic grocery stores, and this place had tons of fun stuff.

For our Sushi night, we didn't want to get too over ambitious, being our first time and all. We decided on California Rolls, Spicy Tuna Rolls, and Philly Rolls. Only one of these actually had raw fish, so not to worry moms. :-) I used a combination of recipe ideas from the cookbook above, to Pioneer Woman, and The Way The Cookie Crumbles Blog. The last one I used especially for the rice. I followed her recipe, but instead of adding Sugar and Salt and what not, we just bought Sushi Vinegar, and went with that. It worked great! The Philly Rolls I kind of made up. I mean, you can't really mess up smoked salmon and cream cheese.

For an appetizer I had been craving cream cheese won-tons and had starred a post on Erin's blog with this recipe awhile back. These were SO easy and delicious. I made them into garlic cream cheese wontons, which worked out great. I just pressed a few cloves of garlic into the cream cheese, mixed it up, and dropped it into the wrappers. Awesome.

Cream cheese wontons.

Frying in oil.

Won tons! YUM!

Bag o Sushi Rice!

Super easy rice directions.

Alex preparing the sushi rice.

Crab Sticks for the California rolls. California rolls are made with fake crab made from white fish. Don't freak out, it's tasty.

Red chili paste for making the spicy mayo. This stuff is HOT!

Yes, there was some English on the back...

Salmon Philly Roll

Roll it up!

Alex weilding the knife. 

Preparing the crab sticks.

Sticky sushi rice.

WAAAY too much rice. Oopps.

My not as pretty California rolls...

Alex's rolls are much prettier then mine. Shoot.

The finished platter. We forgot to add avocado to the salmon philly rolls, so decided to just plop some on top, sorry it doesn't look pretty, but it was tasty!!

This was one of my favorite Valentine's meals! If you've ever thought of making Sushi, you most definitely should give it a shot!

Happy Valentines! 

Monday, February 16, 2009

Crockpot Thursday

This Thursday we again made use of our crockpot. Yay for low prep! This recipe for Black Bean Chicken Salsa Soup was about the easiest recipe ever to prepare. And though it looks kind of icky, it actually tasted great! We didn't use mushrooms. The only thing I would change would be not to blend quite as much of the mixture. I think it would taste better perhaps with shredded chicken rather then how ours turned out. Oh well, it was still very good, and ready right when I walked in the door! I served it over some rice with corn bread.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Shooting With Both Eyes Open

That's one of the first things my photography professor told us. Shoot with both eyes open. That way you're still aware of what's going on around you as you're shooting. Trying this at first is a little dizzy-ing, but, you get used to it. Or, I'm trying to!

The class I'm taking is event and location photography. Basically, each week we meet for dinner and then head on location to shoot. So far, we've done sports photography and shot a rock music show. I'm learning a lot, and mainly, it's a time for me just to get out and PRACTICE! Which is so very important to my development as a photographer.

In any case, here a few shots from the Sports night, music on the way as soon as I can get through them!

Not quite as sharp as I'd like, but I still like the image.

Tip Off.

An attempt at panning. I still need work...

If only I had captured the ball as well! Shoot!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Back in the Race!

So, I might be crazy, but I'm going to go for it! I figure it will give me something to train for and I always think it's fun after I finish...or something like that.

So, Gold Coast Triathlon, here we come. Well, me. I don't think Alex is much up for triathlons, but he'll come and watch anyhow. AND! It will also be an excuse for us to rent a car, and then get to see fun things in Long Island! Hurray! If you're in the neighborhood, come watch!

Also, Alex and I will both be doing the Salsa, Blues, and Shamrocks 5K in March. I think this will actually be pretty fun. Not only for the TShirt. (I'm a sucker for race TShirts, forgive me). Apparently they have live bands playing the whole way through the race, I think this sounds pretty fun. And it wasn't too pricey, I'm excited.

Last also, I get to shoot at a show at a rock club on Wednesday for my photo class. I'm thinking this will be pretty cool.

More pictures to come soon!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Chinese New Year!

So, it's no secret that I'm not a New York girl. I'm learning, slowly, but surely. But, it's still not my all time favorite place to reside. However, as noted in my New Years Goals, I'm trying to put out a worthy effort to make that change. I promised to attempt fun New York things, that can only be done in New York, to get myself to see that maybe it's not half bad on this East Coast side of things.

Of late, we've gone to the New York City Ballet, (I got free tickets from work), eaten at a bar that gives you FREE pizza with each and every beverage purchase, seriously, a free whole pizza, with each $4 beer. This, was a pretty damn good deal. I'm taking a pretty awesome photography class, and most recently, attending the Chinese New Year's parade in Chinatown.

The ballet was a good time. We felt cultured for the evening. It was four parts, each part a very different ballet. The first one was super modern, a little too interpretive dance for me. They seemed to get better as they went on. However, I'm going to have to comment on the 4th section. I understand that male dancers dance in tights. (side note, what are male ballerinas called??) I have no issues or qualms about this. However, in the final part of the ballet, the male dancers were costumed in flesh colored tights, with little suit jackets. All of us (myself, alex and my co-worker and her boyfriend) agreed that this likely wasn't the best possible option. I swear I'm a cultured individual, but, I couldn't help it, these men looked pants-less. It was very distracting, to say the least.

The free pizza. Well, that was just awesome. If you come visit me, I will take you. Promise.

Photography class will be discussed with photos in the next post.

Chinese New Year! This was a great afternoon. It was a gorgeous day which made it all the better. Alex and I took the J train out to Chinatown and enjoyed the crowds and the confetti. I don't think I've ever seen more confetti. It was SO very festive, we both loved it. The streets were packed, not just with Chinese, but all types of people to watch the festivities. I had never been that deep into Chinatown, it was really interesting. It wasn't just the cheesy shops selling everything under the sun, but reminded me somewhat instead of the streets of Cholon in Ho Chi Minh City. Full of life and rich with culture.