Sunday, October 25, 2009

Rise and Shine

I decided that this will be the fall and winter that I learn how to bake bread. I'm not talkin' quick breads like banana, zucchini, and peanut butter (yum). I have those down. I'm talkin' the real deal: yeast bread.

I'm a carb-o-maniac. I love bread, a lot, but have never actually made anything using yeast (with the exception of frozen bread rolls). When the weather turns cold and it's time to start making pots of soups, stews, and chilies- nothing is better than fresh, warm hunks of bread and butter to soak up the broth and mop up your plate. This year when the crock pot and stock pot come out, I'll be prepared with yummy homemade rolls and loaves of bread...which might also save me some money!

I told a few friends that I was interested in taking on yeast-breads, and got a lot of help! Now, along with the gooey dough on my counter, I'm ready to rise to the challenge. Kat helped by giving me a few of her special time-tested Artisan bread recipes that she bakes in a cast iron skillet, along with a few tips! Before I got that far though, I needed to learn the basics of yeast. Who better to teach me than my friend M.Anne- a bread lover who is going back to school to become a chemistry teacher? Yesterday, Amanda and I headed up to M.Anne's for a lesson in baking. We prepared three recipes- cinnamon rolls with sticky sweet 'goo,' Gourmet's Parmesan Pull-Aparts (in memory of Gourmet, of course), and dough for Five-Minute Artisan Bread.

While Amanda and I kneaded and mixed, M.Anne taught us the science behind yeast, explaining what makes the bread rise, and how to make it work every time. With bowls of dough rising, we gossiped, drank tea, laughed at the recipes and suggestions in her retro cookbooks, and played with her curious kitties that wanted in on the fun. It was a really fun fall day, the perfect way to get out of the cold and the rain. It was also delicious.

The cinnamon rolls were gooey and sweet, with the perfect soft crumb and sticky sauce. I brought a dish of 15 cinnamon rolls home to Evan, Mike, and Mark. I have about 3 left. The Five-Minute Artisan bread is a really cool recipe that involves making the dough, then keeping it in the fridge, allowing you to pull off hunks to bake when you need (or want) it. The perfect thing to make on a weekend, and have around during the week. I haven't baked a loaf yet, but the dough is all ready for me. The Parmesan Rolls were amazing- soft, buttery, flakey, and cheesy- tender on the inside with a lightly browned top. We ate them with M.Anne's homemade cream cheese (she makes bread, she makes cheese...the two things I need to survive). These pull-apart rolls are for sure going to join my Thanksgiving line-up from now on (ya hear that, Mel and John, we're having these rolls this year, and I won't take no for an answer)!

All in all, it was a great day in the kitchen- I spent time with friends, learned a few valuable lessons, and only gained about 5 pounds. And I have some delicious new recipes to add to my collection- and these ones really rise and shine.

Parmesan Pull-Aparts
From the late, great Gourmet Magazine

2 teaspoons active dry yeast (from a 1/4-oz package)
1 teaspoon mild honey or sugar
2/3 cup warm milk (105–115°F), divided
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus 2 Tbsp for sprinkling
1 1/4 cups grated (with a rasp) Parmigiano-Reggiano (1 1/3 oz)
1 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into Tbsp pieces and softened
1 tablespoon water

Stir together yeast, honey, and 1/3 cup warm milk in mixer bowl and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn't foam, start over with new yeast.) Whisk together flour (2 1/2 cups), cheese, and salt, then mix into yeast mixture along with remaining 1/3 cup warm milk at low speed. (You can also do this by hand, as we did). Increase speed to medium and beat in 2 eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat, scraping down side of bowl occasionally, until a very soft dough forms, about 3 minutes. Beat in butter, 1 Tbsp at a time, until dough is elastic, about 2 minutes. (Dough will be very sticky.)

Scrape dough into center of bowl and sprinkle with remaining 2 Tbsp flour. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Punch down dough (do not knead) and turn out onto a floured surface. Cut dough into 12 equal pieces and roll each into a ball by cupping your hand and pushing dough against work surface as you roll in a circular motion. Arrange rolls 1 inch apart in a buttered 9- by 2-inch round cake pan and cover with a kitchen towel (not terry cloth). Let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled and dough fills pan, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle.

Whisk together remaining egg with water and brush on tops of rolls. (You will have leftover egg wash.) Bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Loosen edges of rolls from pan with a sharp knife and invert rolls onto a rack, then reinvert and cool at least 20 minutes.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Number One Rule in Dating

I’ve always wondered why people think Italian food is a great choice for a dinner date. Sure, the wine and candles and ambiance at most Italian restaurants is ‘romantic,’ and if you were to slurp down the same spaghetti noodle and end in a kiss Lady and the Tramp style, that would be cute… but in reality, spaghetti is messy and difficult to eat. I guess I never learned the fancy noodle-fork-twirl or something, but I guarantee you I don’t look sexy eating pasta.

This is what I look like when I eat Spaghetti... and humans.

I’m probably the last person to dole out dating advice though, since I’ve been in a relationship with the same guy since I was 18 (with the exception of a short break that I have to throw in there, or Amanda will call me a liar). I also don’t have lots of good tips for where one should go to eat on a date, since I’m not one of those girls that ate daintily on dates or ordered the side salad to look lady-like. I’ve always been more of the ‘order everything on the menu, and finish my date’s meal’ type of gal. I probably finish the food on Evan’s plate (after finishing my own) nine out of ten times.

While I can’t give you the best advice on where to eat for your first date, I can tell you that if you’re lookin’ for a kiss at the end of the night, you should probably avoid Puerto Rican restaurants, or at least make sure you both order the tostones with mojo. Actually, Puerto Rican is probably an excellent choice for a date, with spicy flavors, sultry music, and super sexy Latin flare. One of our favorite date-night restaurants is La Isla, an amazing Puerto Rican restaurant and rum bar just down the street from us, where we go a little too often (for his wallet and my hips). If Evan and I have learned anything about how to make a relationship work though, it’s that we don’t eat the mojo alone…something we learned it the hard way.

Tostones are twice fried plantains, served with mojo (or mojito)- a raw garlic dipping sauce. If you think you’ve had garlic breath before, you just wait until you’ve had mojo. The worst part… it tastes so good you just can’t resist. In the beginning of our love affair with La Isla, we were so obsessed we went all the time, with or without each other. Until the day Evan had the mojo without me. It’s one thing if you’re both garlicky… but let’s just say that vampires steered clear of Evan…no- Ballard…no- SEATTLE for at least 3 days after the mojo madness. I couldn’t kiss him for a week, let alone be in the same room as him! The garlic smell was literally oozing from his skin and hair. It was so bad I felt nauseous just being around him (never a good thing in a relationship). If you want a goodnight kiss after a dinner date at a Puerto Rican place, make sure you both eat the mojo.

Garlic breath aside, Puerto Rican cuisine is muy delicioso. For dinner at La Isla, Evan gets the fiery Bistec Encebollado, a steak, marinated in a spicy olive oil, garlic, and vinegar sauce, topped with sautéed onions. I usually get something with Pernil- slow roasted Puerto Rican pulled pork. Sometimes I just go crazy with the Pernil bowl, other times I get the Pastelon, a sweet and savory plantain and pernil ‘lasagna.’ For lunch we get the blackened salmon salads, or the amazing Guisada bowls. Guisada is Puerto Rican stew, made with either pollo or carne, and a mix of green olives, potatoes, and sofrito, served over rice and beans. We also get tasty empanadillas filled with cheese or saucy meat for appetizers, and we always get pink beans and rice, and tostones with mojo if we’re there together.

Along with the Food 52 Fig Challenge, I entered the week’s challenge for ‘Your Best Stew with Olives.’ I couldn’t think of a better stew with olives than carne guisada- Puerto Rican beef stew. In my version, green olives with pimentos, peppers, onions, garlic, oregano, cilantro, tomatoes, and capers are used in two ways- blended to make sofrito- the base of the stew, and left chunky to create yummy bites of texture. I also added sweet potato to my recipe, which basically melts into the stew, adding a bit of creaminess and hints of sweetness. Serve over rice and beans, garnished with avocado and sour cream.

If you’re eating with your date or flying solo, be sure to whip up some easy to make tostones and mojo to go with this awesome guisada! (Once again) my recipe didn’t win, but Amanda, Evan, and I all thought it was a winner- see for yourself!

2 green plantains
Oil (for frying)
Heat the oil to 375 degrees.
Peel and cut the plantains into 3/4 inch slices.
Fry the slices in the hot oil for 2-3 minutes, until golden-yellow and soft.
Remove the plantain slices with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
When the slices are cool enough to touch, smash them into flat rounds.
Fry the rounds in the hot oil for 1-2 minutes on each side, until crisp and golden-brown.
Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Salt to taste.

1 cup olive oil, warmed
4 cloves to 1 head of garlic peeled, crushed and finely chopped (adjust to your liking)
1 cup cilantro, finely chopped
juice of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lime
salt to taste

Blend all the ingredients together with a food processor or blender, in a nonreactive bowl. Serve in small bowls for each person.

Carne Guisada
Serves 4-6
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
1 cubanelle (or other mild sweet pepper)
1 small hot chili pepper
1 large yellow or white onion
5 cloves garlic
1.5 cups cilantro
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1.5 cups spanish green olives (with pimentos)
1/4th cup capers
2 medium size tomatoes
salt & pepper
1 large sweet potato or yam
2 russet potatoes
1.5 pounds beef stew meat- cut in 1 inch chunks
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4th cups tomato paste

Dice and combine peppers, onion, garlic, cilantro, oregano, 1 cup green olives, capers, and tomatoes. salt and pepper to taste. Separate in two bowls- set one aside. (Leave 1/2 cup of olives whole, set aside).
To one bowl of diced veggie mixture, add vinegar, and blend (in food processor, blender, or with hand blender) until smooth.
Heat olive oil in large pot to medium heat. Add Beef and brown for 10 minutes.
Add both bowls of veggies (blended and diced) to pot. Cook on medium heat for 3o minutes.
Peel and cube potatoes and yam. Add potatoes, yam, tomato paste, and whole olives to pot. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer (add water to thin if necessary).
Simmer on low for an hour. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh avocado slices and a dollop of sour cream.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Editor's Pick

Food52 Challenge: Your Best Recipe with Figs.

Sure, I could have done something super fancy, like a fig tart, or a pork loin in a port-fig sauce… but for this challenge, I decided to stick to my guns and go with my favorite of food preparations: the sandwich. As I’ve mentioned before, I heart sandwiches. So, I decided for the best-fig-recipe contest I might as well incorporate figs into one of my favorite sandwiches- the Chicken Charlie.

The Chicken Charlie is a sandwich that LB and I used to get at Trillium Café when we were home from college for holidays and breaks (we used to also get rounds of beer from an old high school teacher at Trillium Cafe when we were home on college breaks, but that's another story). I’ve heard rumors that Trillium was shutting down, but lucky for us, I’ve perfected their delicious sandwich. Chicken Charlie is a grilled chicken breast topped with melted Swiss, caramelized onions, honey mustard sauce, and sliced fresh pears. The crisp pears are really what makes this sandwich special and sets it apart from other chicken sandwiches. In my version, I add my kick-ass honey mustard caramelized onions instead of (or in addition to) the honey mustard sauce. I also substitute the basic bun with some kind of yummy bread like ciabatta. It’s a pretty awesomely delicious sandwich.

I decided that I couldn’t think of a better way to use figs than in the ol’ CC sandwich- aptly (and boringly) renamed the Fall Fig and Chicken Sandwich for the contest. I also wanted to jazz it up a little, so I threw in a balsamic marinade for the bird, and a nutty blue cheese spread on the bread. Since there was so much goin’ on with this sandwich, I left the honey and mustard out of the onions, but they were still kick-ass and caramelized.

The sandwiches, served on chewy ciabatta bread, were pretty great. I definitely did ol’ Chicken Charlie proud with this one. Evan had a “tummy-ache” (or he’s afraid of eating things that grow on trees or out of the ground), so I ate my sandwich and half of his. The next morning, I mixed up the leftover goodies into an awesome chicken and fig salad sandwich for work!

Once again, delightful as it was, my recipe was not a finalist in the Food 52 challenge…but… It got a nod as an Editor’s Pick! WooHOO! I’m one step closer!

The Figgy Chicken Charlie
2 chicken breasts
2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion- sliced in rings
salt & pepper
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup whipped cream cheese
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon peach or apricot jam
1 tablespoon crumbled blue cheese
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
6-8 figs- stemmed and halved (dried for chewier texture, fresh for softer texture-both work great)
1 ciabatta loaf (or 2-4 rolls)
spring greens salad mix
1 crisp pear- thinly sliced

For Chicken: Mix together worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar, 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper- Marinate chicken in mixture for up to an hour. Grill chicken on medium-high grill until cooked. Slice thin.

For Carmelized Onions: Heat 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil with 1 tablespoon butter. Add onions and cook over medium heat until golden and delicious. Remove onions from pan but leave remaining oil/butter on medium heat for figs.

For Figs: Add figs face down to hot oil/butter mixture. sautee until golden and chewy (1-2 minutes).

For Spread: Stir together cream cheese, blue cheese, nuts, jam, rosemary and fresh ground black pepper to taste.

Assembly: Heavily spread the cream cheese mixture over both sides of bread. Pile high with chicken, pears, onions, and figs. ENJOY!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Once You Go Crispy, You Never Go Back

A few weeks ago, my coworker McK arranged a little workday-lunchtime field trip to his favorite Thai restaurant in West Seattle- Buddha Ruksa. Sure, we can get Thai a block away from the office, but McK assured us that Buddha Ruksa was well worth drive, and that their Crispy Garlic Chicken would change our lives forever. I believe his actual words were "once you go crispy, you never go back." Dreamy thoughts of an afternoon away from the office and life-changing chicken swirled in our heads, pushing out the ever-exciting images of technology case studies and white papers that usually take precedence on a weekday afternoon.

When Friday rolled around, a group of 8 ravenous office dwellers entered the midday sun, mouths watering and stomachs growling, blinded by the natural light that was replacing the comfortable glare of our computer screens. We loaded into two cars, and took off in a frenzy for what Buddha Ruksa regulars have coined "Crack Chicken," for its addictive qualities. McK warned us in advance that the life-changing crack chicken wasn't going to be on the lunch menu, but he assured us that he had the hookups.

I was in a daze, waiting to get my hands on the goods, so I'm not sure how it all went down. I think McK might have whispered something in the waiter's ear, and slipped some money in his hand via a nonchalant-but suspicious handshake. Or maybe we just sat down and asked for the Crispy Garlic Chicken, I can't be sure. As a first time user, I proceeded with caution, asking for only one star. Other coworkers were wreckless with abandon, throwing caution to the wind and diving headfirst into a seedy underworld of fiery chicken fiends, asking for 3... no 4 stars! As we waited for our 'stuff' to arrive, my palms sweated, and I giggled nervously, trying not to look like a newbie.

When my plate of Crack Chicken came to the table, I pushed it around on the plate a little, not wanting to look overly-ambitious. I also knew that there was a risk of getting hooked from the first bite, the gateway bite, if you will. My plate was really a huge serving bowl (all for me!) filled with crispy chicken pieces, chewy little chunks of garlic, and crisp fried basil leaves. It looked and smelled amazing. I went in for the first bite. It was... good. But nothing to get addicted to or anything. Sheesh. The chicken was crispy without being breaded or overly oily, with a gooey garlicky glaze, dotted with chewy, crispy pieces of garlic and crispy basil- fried to bring out a whole new flavor, unlike any other basil flavor. I ate a few more bites- I mean, it was pretty delicious. After eating over half of my Crispy Chicken platter, I was in a food coma, licking the spicy garlic sauce off my lips and wishing I had room for more.

I packed up my leftovers and headed back to work- crack schmack. I wasn't addicted. After an hour, I was still full, but I couldn't stop thinking about that takeout container of crispy goodness in the fridge. My mouth started watering, yearning and aching for a bite of the chicken with its caramelized garlic and crispy basil. I couldn't concentrate on work. After two hours, the Crispy Chicken was all I could think about. No longer able to focus, I packed up, grabbed my chicken, and ran for home. Must. Get home. To eat. Chicken. Need. Chicken.

Evan walked in and found me huddled in the corner, licking garlicky sauce off my fingers... just one little morsel left for his tasting. He ate it. He snatched the box from my hand as I frothed at the mouth and nipped at his fingers. He tilted it back to his mouth, pouring in the last bits of garlic. He licked the edges of the carton. He was hooked. It got us both.

We sat there, fiending for more Crispy. Unable to escape from its grasp, we did the only thing we could think of to get our fix. We made our own.

We cooked cubes of chicken up in spicy oil with little chunks of garlic until it was crisp and chewy, we topped it with quick fried basil and sesame seeds. We mixed it with Chinese long beans from Mel and John's garden.

The beans were fantastic. The chicken was a little too oily. I burned the basil. It wasn't Buddha Ruksa's Crispy Garlic Chicken, but it was good enough to hold us over.... until next time.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

You Say Potato, I Say "Yes Please!"

I recently joined what I like to call an online ‘food networking’ site- Food 52. Food 52 is the brainchild of 2 food writers who decided to create an online network of talented home cooks- a place to share recipes, network, and learn from each other. Each week, there are 2 recipe contests (winners go into a cookbook!). I’ve decided to jump whole heartedly into these challenges… my own little Iron Chef going on the kitchen. Not only does creating recipes for the contests give me new exciting ideas to play around with in the kitchen, but it also forces me to actually WRITE IT DOWN! As you’ve seen so far, I’m way more of a ‘method’ than ‘recipe’ type a’gal (hence baking being second to cooking in my book). I’m just so spontaneous with cooking- a splash here, a dash there, some more of this, and a drop of that. I come up with some pretty effing good meals, but I’m rarely able to recreate them exactly how they were, or to tell you exactly how to recreate them yourselves. Sometimes even I’m stumped by the secret ingredient in my dishes. Well, thanks to Food 52’s recipe contest, hopefully that will be a thing of the past… at least once or twice a week.

The first contest felt like a sign. Of course this site was meant for me… ‘Your Best Potato Gratin!’ Well, they apparently didn’t realize I had been devouring and making au gratin potatoes for years, and that Mel is a master potato chef. I came up with about 8 concepts, all sharing the basic method I learned for Mel’s Au Gratin Potatoes- layer potatoes, flour, salt, pepper, cheese, repeat. Cover with milk. Bake. Done. I considered a bacon and green chili with cheddar. A mushroom and potato with Swiss. An ultra creamy. A not so creamy. A blue cheese. A roasted garlic. I finally decided there was no way Evan and I would still love each other if I made 6 dishes of cheesy, ooey, gooey gratin in one night, so I combined a few ideas and settled on one dish- Bacon, Blue, and Roasted Garlic Gratin.

I gratined my little heart out. Carefully measuring, writing things down, taking pictures along the way. I was pretty damn proud of the results. A deep, rich gratin, with smoky caramelized roasted garlic and melty blue cheese, little bits of salty bacon nestled amongst the gooey potato layers and crispy, crunchy top… a sure winner.

I checked back daily for the result, sure that my recipe and mouth watering picture caught someone’s eye. I didn’t make it in the final 2. I didn’t even get an honorable mention! The competition out there apparently is a lot tougher than I thought, with a sweet potato/bacon tied up with a basic potato/leek. Well, I’m going to keep trying. With 2 contests weekly, I’m sure to at least get a nod in my direction, right? Even if I don’t, hopefully you’ll enjoy the recipes! As long as I get your mouths watering, I’ll consider myself a winner...and if I ever make it to the final two, send your votes my way!

Roasted Garlic, Blue Cheese, and Bacon Gratin

1 head garlic
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
3-4 slices bacon
1 cup crumbled blue cheese
3 russet potatoes
3 tbsp flour
2 tbsp butter

For Garlic:

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Peel off outer layers of the garlic bulb skin, while still leaving the head of garlic intact and whole. Cut off the top of cloves.
3. Place garlic head in a ramekin or small baking dish, allowing it to stand upright
4. Drizzle 2 teaspoons of olive oil over garlic, Cover with aluminum foil.
5. Bake at 400°F for 35 minute
6. Cool to room temperature, squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out of their skins, mash with a fork.

For the Potatoes:

1. Preheat oven to 400°F
2. Fry bacon, cool, and dice
3. Peel potatoes, and slice thinly
4. Butter gratin dish (8x8 glass baking dish will work)
5. In baking dish, place one layer of potato slices, sprinkle with 1/3rd blue cheese, 1/3rd bacon, 1/3rd mashed garlic, 1 tbsp flour, dot with 1/3rd butter, sprinkle with salt and pepper
6. Repeat with remaining potatoes, cheese, bacon, flour, butter, and garlic.
7. Pour 1 ½ cups half n half over top
8. Cover with foil
9. Bake at 400°F for 1 hour. Uncover and bake for 20-30 more minutes.
10. Let gratin set for 10 minutes before eating.
11. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Warming the House

Well, we’re finally all settled in. Sort of. Basically, I planned a housewarming party, complete with evite and hors d'oeuvre menu… before we actually had things unpacked and settled. The bad part was that we rushed and drove each other nuts trying to get everything done in such a short amount of time, amidst other craziness like Brit’s wedding. The good part was that we actually got a kick in the pants to get our place put together, which maybe would have never happened otherwise. The great part is that I got to host a housewarming party in our new apartment, and prepare an awesome menu of Asian inspired hors d'oeuvres for our friends to enjoy (and praise).

My hors d'oeuvres were by no means authentically Asian, yet they followed an Asian theme, using pan-Asian flavors. The first thing I knew I absolutely had to make was Rumaki. Mel and John used to make Rumaki all the time when I was a kid- much to my pleasure and Amanda’s disgust. Rumaki is basically a mock-Polynesian hors d'oeuvre, consisting of soy-marinated chicken liver and water chestnuts wrapped with bacon. DELISH! While my mouth watered at the thought of Rumaki, in all its livery glory, I wasn’t so sure my guests would feel the same way. Therefore…Mock-Rumaki with chicken breast pieces in place of the liver was born… or Rumocki, if you will.

Next came the fresh Vietnamese-style spring rolls. I remember first trying these little diddies in high school. Amanda loved them so much she immediately went home and learned how to make them. I, on the other hand, didn’t care much for them (what…where’s all the fried awesomeness of an eggroll!?). Years later, with a more mature palate (and a more mature metabolism) I’ve come to love fresh spring rolls, preferring them over their greasy, hip-widening counterpart. My favorites have fresh veggies and tofu… but for the party I stuck with just veggies, filling my tapioca wrappers with a schmear of hoison, leafy lettuce, matchstick carrots, green onions, basil, cilantro, and rice noodles. The spring rolls were a total hit, the freshness and simplicity of them countering the bacony Rumocki.

I wanted a little something for the carnivores and herbivores to nosh on, so in addition to the Rumocki, I made ginger beef skewers with peanut dipping sauce, and in addition to the spring rolls I made teriyaki sautéed mushrooms and broiled tofu.

The final item on the menu, thrown together at the last moment, ended up being the belle of the ball. I had planned to make mini cabbage egg rolls, but the rolling wasn’t going so hot. After failed attempts and a small temper tantrum, I pulled out my mini cupcake pan. I cut the egg roll wrappers in squares, pushed them into the cupcake pan, forming little cups, filled them with cream cheese and sautéed cabbage, and popped them into oven until the wrappers were browned. I then mixed some sweet chili sauce (which I had purchased to dip the eggrolls in) with cut up mango and green onions, and spooned that on top of the cabbage filled cups. It was a pretty simple last minute improvisation, but everyone gave it the thumbs up.

All in all, the housewarming was a success. Amanda and Jim brought cookies, and Vanessa brought brownies. We also got a LOT of wine, and had a great time. With all our friends, and some awesome food, the party was a perfect way to celebrate our new place!

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