Build Me Up, Butterspoon

There are so many different emotions happening when you move into a new place. Excitement at how you haven’t spilled coffee on the carpet yet. Frustration when you are trying to get to the bathroom in the middle of the night and run face first into the wall that you forgot was there. Hope that with a new place will come new habits (this one is quickly dashed, but it’s beautiful as it is fleeting). Confusion at how your furniture has ever made it through doors before.

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Things that have increased the homey-ness of the new apartment so far include artwork up on the walls, playing cribbage into the night with my love (whiskey included, natch), finding time for dance parties every so often to really break the place in, and putting up pictures of family and friends around the house.

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Also, making meals in the kitchen definitely ups the feel-at-home ante. Luckily, I had time this week for one of my favorite recipes – so happy the ingredients were easily accessible in our new spot, and that the plateware needed for serving made it through the move. Whether you are easing in a new life chapter, or just want to celebrate all the goodness happening in your world, this recipe for Cookie Butter is ready and waiting for your enjoyment.

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COOKIE BUTTER

Ingredients:
  • Jar of cookie butter (I recommend crunchy, but that’s just because I know what’s what in the cookie butter world)
  • Spoon
  • Parsley for garnish (optional, but classy)
Directions:

1) Procure a jar of cookie butter

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2) Open it and faintly hear the sound of angels singing a heavenly strain

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3) Spoon it up – I use a serving spoon because…butter made of cookies

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4) YESSSSSSS

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Pancake Perfection

“Hello, I love you,” is something I’ve literally said to more than one plate of pancakes in my lifetime. Totally justified each time, but I guess this means I’m not a great pancake monogamist. I think because we only have them once in a while (usually on a lovely, lazy weekend morning), they feel extra luxurious and delicious. Deluxurious, if you will.

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Pancakes are also one of those recipes that once you know the basic ingredients, it’s easy to branch out and try different variations to spice it up. Blueberries! Chocolate chips! Kale! (Well, probably not kale, but it seems to be sneaking its way into everything else, so I thought I’d offer it up).

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I think everyone has their own favorite variation on pancakes, and if not, there are 479 recipes on allrecipes.com alone to pick from. Bringing your options up to at least 480 is one of my favorite versions: Weekend Pancakes.

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WEEKEND PANCAKES

Ingredients:
  • @ least one person who likes to cook
  • Parsley for garnish (optional, but classy)
Directions:

1) Find an old bottle of maple syrup in your pantry and mention (out loud) that pancakes sound amazing

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2) Hear your partner/friend/roommate/live-in chef offer to make some

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3) Watch them appreciatively from afar, offering up words of encouragement (“Those smell great!”) or half-assed participation (“Can I set out some plates or something?”)

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4) Set out some plates or something

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5) Enjoy!

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To Market, To (Farmer’s) Market

What better way to start your weekend than at a farmer’s market? If I could just live in a farmer’s market 24/7, I would (well, actually a duplex comprised of half farmer’s market and half library would be ideal, but I don’t want to get picky).

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There is a fantastic market near our apartment that is open every Saturday morning (once the arctic tundra dies down). It’s educational seeing the produce change slightly every week, and I love that there is time to chat with and meet the farmers while you are shopping. Plus, there are almost always happy dogs, cute kids,and live music, which is a trifecta in my book.

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This week, I ended up with some great produce to enjoy throughout the week, and picked up some extras on the way home for an on-the-spot summer picnic.

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POST-FARMER’S MARKET PICNIC

Ingredients:
  • Food recently acquired at the farmer’s market
  • Whatever you want from Taco Bell
  • Parsley for garnish (optional, but classy)
Directions:

1) Stop at Taco Bell on your way home from the Farmer’s Market

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2) Take your all your goodies home with you

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3) If it’s nice enough, set up outside (inside works for this recipe as well)

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4) Keep bag of farmer’s market produce close, promising yourself you’ll get to it tomorrow in order to karmically balance your current life choices

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Brunch Bliss

I think it was somewhere in my mid-twenties that all the fanfare about meeting for late night drinks morphed into meeting for mid-morning brunch. 11am sunlight trumped 11pm moonlight/streetlight, 2-4-1 mimosas trumped 2-4-1 rail whiskeys; plus breakfast is the best meal of the day anyway (besides snacks), so the more attention paid to it, the better.

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I totally get it. Being able to sleep in without feeling like you’re missing out, because you aren’t meeting for breakfast. You are meeting for *brunch*. You get to have alcohol with your pancakes and no one bats an eye. AND if you braid your hair you can joke with your friends that you’re part of the “Braidy Brunch,” and everyone will laugh at your cleverness.

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I was so pleased when I discovered that I could serve up brunch in my very own home. Although I love heading out to dine, I also am on a tight budget, so having the option to prepare a lovely brunch in my kitchen is most welcome. I’ve included one of my favorite brunch recipes that I’ve perfected, but please feel free to share your own. The more brunch, the merrier!

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CEREAL

Ingredients:
  • 1-2 bowl’s worth of cereal (do not pay attention to the serving size on the box – that won’t work for anyone)
  • 1-2 bowl’s worth of milk
  • Parsley for garnish (optional, but classy)
Directions:

1) Realize you slept in and are hungry, which are the qualifiers for brunch

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2) Pour cereal into bowl until you feel satisfied

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3) Pour milk into bowl until you feel satisfied

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4) Enjoy brunching!

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BYOF

When you are invited to a party/shindig/get-together, and the host quips, “It’s BYOB, FYI, LOL, YOLO,” (insert appropriate abbrevs as needed, depending on your host), it’s not too tough. You either grab a bottle of your favorite beverage, or pick one up along the way. If you are one of those thoughtful people, you might bring a bag of ice as a bonus.

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Things get a little more complicated when the host casually states “Everyone is bringing a little something to share, so feel free to bring a dish if you’d like.” Obviously you can’t show up empty-handed and be the moocher of the group. On the other hand, you might not have the time or inclination to go all Martha Stewart with this. You just want to hang out with your friends, munch on some snacks, and discuss current events with the appropriate amount of snark.

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Good news – there is a middle ground between mooch and Martha Stewart for party-goers. Whenever I am heading to an event, I grab something fairly easy to prepare but ensure the presentation is flawless. This saves time, but still shows care and effort.

At a recent event I was heading to, I opted to create a dish my friends always enjoy: Ruffles Original Potato Chips.

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RUFFLES ORIGINAL POTATO CHIPS

Ingredients:
  • 1 bag of Ruffles Original Potato Chips
  • Parsley for garnish (optional, but classy)
Directions:

1) Get bag of potato chips

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2) Realize it might look tacky if you just show up with a bag of chips and search for a bowl

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3) Pour the chips into the bowl

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4) Put saran wrap on top of the bowl for optimal freshness

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4) Bring along with you, and don’t forget to bring the bowl home with you for your next outside culinary endeavor

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Impromptu Snack-Attack

When I was in college and there was free food on campus (bagels during registration, cookies after chapel, wrapped candies on admin assistant’s desks), I was all over it. Budgets were tight, stress levels were high, most likely rehearsal had ran over and lunch had been missed.

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It felt a little childish to be scavenging for food, but I knew it was part of college life – something I would probably look back on and chuckle about.

Until I started working in various offices and nothing about this mentality has changed. Budgets are still tight, stress levels are still high, and meetings now run over lunch hour, leading to eating anything & everything at your desk. When treats magically appear in the breakroom, all bets are off.

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The question arises – how to turn unexpected workplace treats into an adult culinary experience? I try to follow these Breakroom Delight recipe guidelines to elevate my snacking experience to a professional level.

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BREAKROOM DELIGHT

Ingredients:
  • Whatever has been calling your name from the breakroom
  • Parsley for garnish (optional, but classy)
Directions:

1) Walk past the breakroom and notice there are treats in there that were NOT there 5 minutes ago

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2) Casually ask who brought the treats as if it couldn’t possibly matter to you because you are not going to partake

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3) Even though no one has ordained that you must take one, say aloud (even if you are the only one in the room), “Okay – just one. Half of one. Darn this sweet tooth.” A light-hearted, casual-sounding laugh thrown in here can go a long way.

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4) Take your half of the treat and scarf it down at your desk

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5) Wonder if anyone will notice if you scramble back for the other half, then probably just go for it

Home, Sweet Home(cooked Meal)

I was lucky enough to spend this past weekend in New York City celebrating people that I love. Including this adorable one-year-old.

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What? The cutest.

Bonus – I got to eat some delicious, calorie-free cuisine while there (remember the golden rule: if you are on vacation, it’s calorie-free).

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It was tough heading back home to full calendars and stacked to-do lists but I knew the right home-cooked meal would soften the blow.

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Here’s a delightful and fairly simple recipe I made to remind myself that every day can feel like a vacation with the right ingredients. I call it Frozen Pizza.

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FROZEN PIZZA

Ingredients:
  • 1 frozen pizza
  • Parsley for garnish (optional, but classy)
Directions:

1) Dig around in your freezer and pray there is something edible in there

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2) Find pizza box and open it

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3) Preheat your oven to whatever the box tells you to

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4) Once oven is ready & rarin’ to go, stick the pizza in there (again, follow instructions on the box, going rogue here can have consequences)

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5) Remove pizza and slice it up in whatever way floats your boat

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6) Enjoy!

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