Busy Bee

25 Nov

The past few months have literally kept me at my busiest.  I don’t think I’ve ever had to keep track of so many things at once- classes, my job, my club, my money, my social life- the list could go on forever.  This past semester I guess you could say I took a mini-break from Soph’s Kitchen… but that doesn’t mean I took a break from cooking!  Here’s a glimpse at what I’ve created in my last few weeks at home, as well as in my “big” [ehm- bigger than last year] kitchen in my dorm!

Image

One of my best friends came to visit me in July for the weekend.  This ice cream is only a fraction of what we indulged in…

Image

I made anginettes one evening.  Needless to say- they didn’t last very long.

Image

I wish I got a better picture of this banana pudding, but it was gone so quickly at the family reunion that I didn’t get the chance to snap another picture!  According to my relatives- I got it just right!  Such a compliment.

Image

While in Illinois, we went to this amazing chocolate shop (perhaps a little too fancy for the small town??) and I got a caramel inferno truffle.  It was topped with ghost chili powder. So delicious!!

Image

Back to school now- my roommate and a few friends went apple picking!  It was a gorgeous day and despite going late in the season, we saw this happy camper hanging on one of the trees.

Image

The most drool-worthy homemade poptarts I’ve ever sunk my teeth into.

Image

The poptarts and this pulled pork sandwich are from Ted’s Bulletin, in Eastern Market.  My foodie friend and I went for brunch.  Such a good idea.

Image

Birthday cupcakes from my cousin’s family!  I think I actually ate all of them…

Image

Yet another foodie experience with my foodie friend.  This time, for my birthday, we indulged in the Tackle Box.  Now, I’m usually a seafood snob and don’t get seafood while I’m in DC.  I do, however, make an exception for the Tackle Box-  maybe it’s because they cheat and get their seafood from Maine! 😉

Image

A special birthday cupcake from the 9:30 Club!  Love being friends with benefits.

Image

Aren’t I just the most wonderful God-Big? My dove love drawing skills are clearly superb. Go SK!

Image

What’s better than brunching at Bread and Chocolate before studying for Organic Chemistry for hours on end?  Maybe some free coffee with the brunch… 😉

Image

Gospel Brunch anyone? Talk about Southern Comfort…

Image

Maybe the most exciting eating experience this semester… my friend and I waited a whole two weeks for our reservation at Toki Underground, a ramen restaurant in Northeast DC.  We got dumplings AND ramen because we were just that into it.

Image

Best. Ramen. Ever.

4th of July!

6 Jul

This 4th of July, it was extremely hot out.  Naturally, we had a barbecue complete with meat, meat, meat, and more meat (get the hint?).  We had a lovely feast of steak tips, ribs, and sausage along with some veggies and of course, dessert.  I was in charge of the sweets for the evening and decided on a chocolate fudge pie (which was sadly eaten before I could snap a photo) and some frozen pops to mitigate the heat.  

ImageSuch a feast.  We went at it like vultures.  

After we all recovered from our food comas, we dove right into dessert.  The chocolate fudge pie was a success (hence the lack of documentation), but the pops were sensational.  Now, I’m a big fan of pops to begin with.  My friends from school and I love to indulge in Pleasant Pops whenever the chance arises, and I couldn’t help myself when I discovered the cookbook, Paletas, by Fany Gerson.  The 4th of July pops recipe I used, however, was especially favored by Mastah Grillaz (one of which ate 4 pops).  The greek yogurt, raspberries, and blueberries (yes, I deviated from the actual recipe) were healthy and refreshing after a major pig-out on such a hot day.  

ImageImageImage

I had a little trouble getting the pops to come out of their molds after freezing them for a few hours.  I read up on how to get the best pop results, and the Paletas book says freezing them as long as possible is key.  Next time I attempt these, I’ll try leaving them in the freezer overnight and see what happens!

 

 

Image

So quaint- who doesn’t love patriotic pops in a patriotic house in a patriotic state?

Butterscotch Bars

2 Jul

Butterscotch bars are a favorite of Grandpa Bernie.  I made these to see what the big deal was about them, because while I do enjoy the occasional butterscotch morsel or bite, I typically won’t go looking for it.  However, I definitely understood the amazingness of these decadent bars (and it shows, because I made them two days in a row…).  Also known as a 7 layer bar, Grandma Judy’s Butterscotch Bar was a great way to indulge after a long day at work, or in my case, in the lab.  These bars are so rich and so tasty- after just one measly little square, you’re completely satisfied.  ImageThe graham cracker crust bottom holds together a gooey mix of peanut butter, butterscotch morsels, coconut, walnuts (or in my second batch, pecans) and other flavorful goodness (including -ehm- marshmallows). ImageNo need to resist the urge to have more, because the urge will have definitely been fulfilled.  Butterscotch bars will, of course, be added to the Family Reunion Dessert Menu.ImageImage

 

The final product.  Obviously picstitched and instagrammed to perfection… 😉

Toffee Squares

25 Jun

I’ve been quite busy starting my new summer gig- I’m a research lab assistant at a hospital in Boston! Very excited to tap into my inner geek/mad scientist. Since Fridays are my days off (and I’m on vacation this week), I’ve decided to start a weekly baking session from the recipes in my Grandma Judy’s cookbook. There’s something so appealing about old-fashioned sweet treats. The simple yet mouth-watering flavors are hard to come by now that everything is processed and artificial (we’re basically eating plastic now, right?). I started off the project with toffee squares. A very simple and tasty bite-sized dessert definitely meant for sharing.

One interesting thing that I’ve come across in these hand-written recipes are discrepancies in ingredients or cook-times. The toffee square recipe called for dates, but the instructions magically reference nuts. I decided to try both!
20130625-172246.jpg

 

20130625-172254.jpg

What’s your preference?  I was torn between the two!

 
My dad, one of the Mastah Grillaz, took in both versions of the toffee squares to work for distribution- both were gone almost instantly and were tied in popularity.

I’m excited for the next recipe to try- butterscotch bars!

20130625-172228.jpg

I got impatient waiting for the molten chocolate to cool down so I stuck it in the fridge to speed up the process and to let me indulge sooner. 😉

 

20130625-172305.jpg

Grandma Judy’s Cookbook and Banana Pudding

25 Jun

I have inherited my grandmother’s cookbooks. You may think, “oh how sweet,” but they have great meaning attached to their yellowed pages. My grandma, famous for her desserts, kept these cookbooks almost as a diary. She would carefully label the books with the date she received them, just as she dated every picture she took. She marked recipes with potential cook-dates and tucked away newspaper clippings and other hand-written recipes in between the pages. Of course, whoever gifted the cherished cookbooks to Grandma Judy were also given credit (along with personal notes- birthdays, anniversaries, etc.). Recently (for Father’s Day) I decided to make Great Grandma Lula’s famous banana pudding, in preparation for the family reunion in August. Naturally, I headed to the back cover of the 1965 Betty Crocker cookbook, where Grandma Judy wrote the recipe.

20130625-170633.jpg

My Father’s Day endeavor was a great success. In my opinion, it was easier to make than instant pudding! Fun fact: it’s actually plain vanilla pudding with the addition of fresh bananas. Let it sit in the refrigerator for a little while and let the amazing flavor of the bananas seep throughout!

20130625-170752.jpg

Memorial Day

27 May

We held our annual Memorial Day grilling bonanza a day early this year. The meal included -a lot- of freshly smoked salmon, ribs (done by one of the Mastah Grillaz), and Madeleine cookies (made by yours truly) by using my handy dandy Madeleine-shaped cookie tin. We nibbled so much of the smoked salmon while waiting for the ribs that it nearly replaced our meal. Never fear though, because the ribs were in fact consumed almost in their entirety- St. Louis style took the win on those, in my opinion.

20130527-202137.jpg

Hunka-hunka-smoked salmon anyone?

20130527-202229.jpg

The most of Madeleines were dunked in some of the Birthday Cake’s leftover chocolate frosting, but nothing could be more distinct about these little cookies than the fresh kick of lemon zest incorporated into these morsels. Yum!

Lastly, my mom and I enjoyed a nice walk to a close-by hiking spot and reservation. We saw loads of pretty flowers on our walk!

20130527-202845.jpg

Birthday Celebrations

27 May

This past week was the birthday celebration of a beloved neighbor. Per request, I made a white birthday cake with chocolate frosting (all from scratch of course), and had my first attempt at writing with colored icing. It was extremely difficult, especially since it was essentially butter (so healthy, right?). After a little bit of a scramble with some awkward lettering, the cake shaped up quite nicely. It was so delicious I don’t think I’ll ever feel satisfied with store-bought or cake mix-cake ever again.

20130527-201144.jpg

There’s nothing better than a puffy white cake waiting to be frosted with rich, homemade chocolate frosting.

20130527-201404.jpg

The final product (with the help of my sidekick Paris) was a cutely decorated cake with lots of sentiment.