Monday, October 31, 2011

Dessert Friday #17

Happy Halloween! I'm incredibly late with this one. Apparently having a gimpy back makes me want to sit on the couch and do absolutely nothing. Or maybe it just makes me do everything twice as slowly, so I end up not feeling like I have enough time to do everything I want to, and then I get demoralized and do nothing instead. It's a tough call. In any case, my back still sucks, and I still haven't exercised despite having ingested more sweets than ever.

Last Friday: Beard Papa's cream puffs for Dessert Friday again.


These things are so insanely good. Unbelievable really that I'd never heard of this place until two weeks ago. Despite lugging around two decently sized boxes with me for two miles, I still went and picked up a box of these (the boxes are a long story). Let's just say walking home was tricky and involved me using my chin as a third hand.

Strawberries and cream.

Nick likes the strawberry ones. So he got three of those. I prefer honey and pumpkin, myself.

Yes indeed.

Seriously, someone, get me the recipe for this filling. Or any recipe for a similar filling. Is it hard to make?


I think I'd be happy if I could just have the filling in a cup.

Me too. Can I get some of that?

There was a plethora of sweets today at work, in the spirit of Halloween. I don't have any pictures, because I was too busy stuffing my face (but really, I was). Muffins, cookies, cake, everything pumpkin...etc. You get the gist. I kind of don't want to see sweets for the next month. Wait, no, I take that back already. I'll be good to go by tomorrow.

My cubicle row at work also won a Halloween cubicle decorating contest. Pictures to come. In short, it was an awesome victory because none of us really wanted to decorate in the first place, but then we kind of started and then...kind of took off with it. Apparently we're big on crafts, more so than the actual holiday.

So really what I'd like to do is take a week off work and lie in my bed with a heat pad on my 90-year-old back and not move.

Just like this one is doing.

Just hand me some water every half hour. I'll be here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Given my love of food and the fact that I work right in the middle of downtown Chicago, I follow more than a few food trucks on Twitter so I can see where they are. They're mostly cupcake trucks (are you surprised?), with a froyo truck and a mac and cheese truck thrown in. Last week, a friend of mine at work pointed me to a macaron (no, not macaroon, macaron) truck that I think is relatively new, so naturally, I freaked out with excitement and started following them (Sweet Spot Macarons). If you've ever been to LadurĂ©e in Paris, you'd understand my excitement. Or if you've ever had a macaron at all, you'd understand my excitement.

Today, they were parked about a block away from my office. I was out of the building and next to their truck as fast as my crippled back (it's getting better) would allow me to move.

Oh yes.

I only got two, because...actually, I don't know why I only got two and not everything they had on the truck. It's a fair question. I need to reconsider for the next time they're around my office building.


I ate all of the hazelnut one (sorry Nick) but because I'm such a nice person (apparently with a lot of self-control, too), I saved the salted caramel for Nick (okay, most of it - I requested a nibble or two).

I'm just realizing that despite not being able to do yoga or any form of physical activity outside of walking for the past few days, my dessert intake has not slowed down at all. It's all good.

Last night my parents came over to the apartment for a bit to visit, and my dad brought along a cupcake that he picked up from work.


Luckily Nick was willing to split it with me (it was tough convincing him to), since I apparently wasn't willing to wait a day to eat it and instead chose to eat it at 10pm last night. Good life choices.


Tonight's been a quiet night. Nick went rock climbing (I would've gone, but my back whined and said no thanks) so I've mostly been sitting in my desk watching this one prowl around my room.

Can I mess up whatever is in this drawer?

And also watching her do this.

What's in here?

Of course she's down there trying to eat the zippers off my suitcase and the buckles off my bag.

Nothing to see down here. I've got it covered.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Working from Home

I threw out my back last weekend. No, I'm not 90 years old. I have a partially herniated disc, back from my volleyball days, and it flares up from time to time (okay, it flares up when I make stupid decisions like thinking it was a good idea to sit on a hardwood floor for 1.5 hours without back support). This time it was so bad that I requested to work from home today (as in, I lumbered around at my office yesterday like an overdue pregnant woman, so I felt like it was better for my integrity that I just do this in the privacy of my own home).

I love the idea of working from home, especially since it saves me about 1.5 hours of commute time. That, and the fact that I get to wear a t-shirt that says "Just Loafin'" on the front (this is true: I picked out this shirt to wear today specifically because of the fact that I was working from home), and my pajama pants.

And the fact that I actually had time to make a DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte (see point about commute time) for myself!

I had enough time to use the stove!
I substituted pumpkin pie spice with allspice (thanks Caren & Cody!) since apparently pumpkin pie spice has gold flakes in it, judging from its price at my local grocery store. In any case, it was still delicious, so I'll never know the difference.

Better than Starbucks.
Yeah, that's right. I liked it better than the one from Starbucks (and trust me, I usually love Starbucks, as I have a gold rewards card for it).

Since I didn't have to wake up as early as usual, I also had the pleasure of experiencing being stepped on the face by this creature.

Hello is it feed me time?
However, I also got to see her in all her cuteness while she napped the day away.

I'm going to fall over. All I want to do is sleep.
Sadly, most days when I get home from work, she's a nut. Probably from sleeping the entire day while I'm not around. It's a conspiracy.

The one bad thing about working from home is that by the end of the day, my desk usually looks like this.

Since my kitchen is approximately 15 feet away, I'm pretty much snacking constantly. It's something I'm willing to deal with.

Despite my marathon snacking, dinner tonight was still delicious. We tried out this place called HomeMade Pizza Co., where you tell them the kind of pizza you want, they put it together, and then you take it home to bake and eat.

Bake me.
We (okay, I, because I basically vetoed anything Nick suggested and just put down what I wanted) got BBQ chicken with onions. I thought it was kind of a pain to have to bake it, especially because the BBQ sauce dripped everywhere when I took off the plastic wrap, but the end result was pretty good.

Hello I will drip everywhere and you will have to clean me up.
Alright, it's better than any pizza I've ever made.

But honestly, it wasn't so insanely delicious that I'd pay $18 on a regular basis to eat it. Don't get me wrong, it was definitely tasty, but not worth the amount of money it costs. Or the time spent cleaning up after you cook it.

I wouldn't know, because you didn't let me eat any. What's that over there?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Dessert Friday #16

It's late, but don't think it didn't happen.

Nick discovered this amazing place yesterday close to where we work, called Beard Papa's (I think he was desperate to step away from cupcakes and eat some other form of dessert).

How I've never heard of this place, I don't know. But they sell cream puffs. And I'm not talking about that bulk, size-of-a-quarter cream puffs you get in a box at Costco or something (not saying that Costco is bad...I love Costco). These were the size of my hand, and so fresh that they don't even put the cream in until you order and tell them exactly what kind of cream you want, and then they inject the cream into the puff right in front of you.

Naturally, we got six (IT WAS THE BEST DEAL).

That's one chocolate, one vanilla, two strawberries and cream, and two honey and pumpkin (a special flavor they had, because fall = PUMPKIN).

Since they only put the cream in the pastry puffs after you order them, this meant that the puffs themselves were wonderfully crispy and not at all soggy.

In my excitement, seriously all the pictures I took of the insides of the puffs were blurry. Yeah. They were that good, I couldn't even hold my camera still long enough to get a clear picture. Needless to say, we'll probably be going back, SOON. out. You've got some competition.

And the best part? It's made with all-natural ingredients (so it says on the box). Quick, someone get me this recipe.

In continuing with the healthy/vegetarian kick that I've been on lately, I made Nick and myself some Southwestern Stuffed Spaghetti Squash for dinner last night. I'm starting to love spaghetti squash, even though it takes forever to cook (I choose to bake it instead of microwave it, because I have an irrational fear that my microwave would explode if I tried to cook a squash in it).

There was a generous sprinkling of cheese on top, because...cheese is healthy, too. I gotta get that protein somehow.

I kiiiind of messed up with this (even though it was still delicious), because it calls for a can of black beans, and for some reason, I looked at the one can of beans I had on hand, which were canned chili beans, and decided that it was a suitable substitute. Well, the recipe itself already called for chili powder, which I also put in, not thinking about the fact that I'd get plenty of chili flavor from the basically, Nick cried tears from spiciness while eating this, and my taste buds rejoiced because I love anything spicy.

Worth it.

Bailey has been an absolute devil in the mornings, because she discovered the tag on the quilt I use for sleeping, and she has a strange obsession with tags. So basically I wake up to her trying to rip off the tag, and then I scold her, and then she scampers away, only to come back 30 seconds later and start the process all over again.

What tag? Oh, you mean the one I ate?
I might possibly consider cutting off the tag. For some reason, I can't bring myself to do it, because it's embroidered all pretty with Martha Stewart's logo. What would Martha think if I cut it off?!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Going Vegetarian

Well...not really completely. But lately I'm realizing that I've been gravitating towards dishes that don't have meat (with the exception of my delicious chicken salad lunch today from Roti). There was the time I picked out about 80% of the chicken in the quinoa/chicken salad Nick made (although he didn't really enjoy it at all, so he wasn't offended). Then when Nick said he wanted to cook dinner last Sunday, I basically vetoed every suggestion he made that had meat in it, and was delighted when he suggested a southwestern vegetarian pasta dish.

No meat.
This dish was insanely good - make it. We used wheat pasta, which I think made it even better. You just feel so healthy eating it. And the best part? Plenty of leftovers for meals the next day.

Courtesy of Chef Nick.

Last night I bought this vegetarian e-book from, and I immediately found this recipe for baked falafel that I obviously just had to try tonight. So, tonight, yet again, a meatless meal of baby greens, homemade falafel, and some hummus.

The hummus was definitely just right for this (I thought), although I'm not particularly fond of salad dressing, so I hardly ever have salad with dressing. Hummus is always good enough for me, and I looooove giardiniera mix on just about anything (except maybe a cupcake), so I'll take that over dressing any day.

still haven't gotten around to making a DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte because, let's face it, I've only been getting up later and later since it's now actually getting cold outside (boooooo) and until daylight savings time hits, it's still pitch dark in my room when my alarm goes off, and then I think it can't be much later than 3am and that I should definitely go back to sleep, which doesn't help my cause in any way. Soon.

Apparently I had nothing more interesting to talk about than eating meatless dishes and not being able to get up early enough for coffee. Oh well.

Next topic please. Look how pretty my tail is.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Dessert Friday #15

Since we still have about five pounds of apples left over from our apple picking excursion a couple weeks ago, I decided to make apple pie last night for Dessert Friday.

Sadly I made this decision at about 9pm, and I had never made apple pie in my life. It wasn't hard or anything, but it was also my first time making a lattice-top pie crust, so I basically just stressed out the entire time because for some reason it never looked "right" to me.

But the end result was great. Can't really go wrong with a butter, brown sugar, and white sugar syrup.

The recipe called for six Granny Smiths, but I didn't have Granny Smiths. I have no idea what kind of apples I used. But they worked just fine.

Not Granny Smiths.
I tried peeling them first with a paring knife, and I quickly learned (in about two seconds) that I am horrible at peeling apples with knives. So my potato peeler did the rest of the work. It was great.

Lots o' apples.
And then I attempted to make a lattice-top pie crust. I learned that I'm bad at cutting in straight lines.

Not straight.
For some reason, despite Nick's claims that the pie looked fine, it just looked off to me. Maybe next time I shouldn't take shortcuts (and maybe next time I won't be making an apple pie at 10pm) and cut thinner strips?

BUT. The syrup you drizzle over that. Was. So. Good.

Main ingredients.
I'd already melted the butter by this point...but there was a stick of butter there too. You know you can't go wrong when you've got that and two kinds of sugar.

The pie came out looking just fine (the lattice top could probably use some work--next time).

And it tasted fantastic.

Extra fantastic, because any dessert eaten at 11pm is better than normal.

Nick certainly enjoyed it.

Bailey certainly did not enjoy being left out of the midnight snack party.

Go away.
On a completely different note...I got an iPhone! And I can't put it down. No, it's not a 4S (although it was kind of amusing seeing the reactions of the two guys in front of me in line at the Verizon store when they were told there was just one 4S left). It's just a regular iPhone 4 8GB. Which I'm completely fine with, since it's got enough space for me and I didn't have to weep for the sake of my bank account as I handed over my credit card to the Verizon lady who rang me up.

Apparently I've been converted over to the world of Apple (Aly, please don't hate me...let's still be friends). First iPad, now iPhone...

Look, they match!
It's like they're breeding.

Just like with the iPad, Bailey has absolutely zero interest in my new phone.

Please stop talking.
It's apparently the weekend of new things. Nick and I ordered a rug for our living room last week, and it came yesterday. Since the time we set it up last night at 6pm, we've basically forgotten that we own couches or chairs. This is my new spot in the living room.

I have finally found a use for those decorative and formerly utterly useless pillows that I put on our couch. I knew they'd be handy one day.

Bailey likes our spots on the floor, because now she feels even higher up when she looks at us from her tower. And thinks about taking over the apartment, judging from the looks of this picture.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Dear Oven

Last weekend, when Sam and I made the pumpkin chocolate chip cookie pie, some of the filling spilled over in the oven onto the bottom of it. I made a mental note to clean it up afterwards, but of course, I never did.

Last night, I made pumpkin bread. Ten minutes after I started preheating the oven, I saw smoke coming out of the stove vents and through the sides of the oven door and realized that I never cleaned up the oven from the pie. So, dear oven, here is an apology.

Sorry I never cleaned you. In fact, sorry I've never cleaned you in the three years that I've lived here (in my defense, I didn't use you a lot before). Thanks for surviving that little mental slip of mine.

Also, thank you for turning this unidentifiable gooey mess:

Into this beautiful, deliciously edible loaf of pumpkin bread, even after you threw a smokey tantrum.

I'm also going to have to give a shout out to my candles for making my apartment smell decent after it was filled with smoke.

Thanks candle (one of four that I used).
So there was that.

Nick made this lovely chicken/quinoa dish last night, which he ended up not really liking (boooo) and which I ended up really liking...after picking my way around the chicken. Am I slowly becoming a vegetarian?!

Probably not. I think it was just because the chicken had been frozen for awhile, so I found it a little unsatisfactory. I'm not becoming a vegetarian, but apparently I'm developing more expensive taste buds. Cool...

Bailey as usual took up her regular post behind our chairs and watched us during dinner.

Aaanytime you want to feed me guys. I'm right here.
This morning, she was unusually calm after I gave her wet food breakfast. Usually after she eats, she scampers around the apartment while Nick and I get ready to leave for work. Today, she opted to sit on my bed while I changed and got ready.

Are you sure you want to wear that?
As judgmental as she was, I have to say it was a nice change from the running around she usually does. I could use this more often.

Balderdash. I'm never judgmental.