Saturday, June 21, 2014

Happy 1st Day of Summer

Today is June 21st.  That can only mean one thing: it's the first day of summer!

I have had a fantastic few days, and am choosing to dedicate this blog post to friends and food!

As many of you may know, my lab mates and I go to Starbucks during lunch on Thursday to chat with the cute Barista. This Thursday, I had a presentation for work (and it went EXTREMELY well) and we went a half hour later than usual.  Unfortunately, our cute Barista was not there.  We felt gypped. Moreover, the Batista who took my order spelled my name wrong.  Overall, we had a very unsatisfying Starbucks trip.

My labs faculty advisor is AMAZING.  On Friday, my lab mates and I were going to hang out and watch a movie after work.  Our advisor decided to give us all similar amounts of work in the lab so that we could leave early, giving us more time to bond.  We were very appreciative, and decided to take her out to lunch.  We ate at Pizza N' Such.  The pizza is amazing.  Per usual, I ate a few slices of meatball pizza!  

After work, we went to the Ontario Mall.  We walked into Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, and they had MINION MARSHMALLOWS and MINION APPLES!  In addition, we found a minion shirt!!!!  I went ballistic.  If you couldn't tell, I currently have an obsession with Minions!

However, I did not actually buy Minion items, or chocolate, from Rocky Mountain.  Instead I went to See's Candy.  If you have ever eaten a See's chocolate, then I know you will understand why.  Their chocolates contain a truffle-like mixture in the center to create a perfect taste.  Add in the sprinkles that they put on top of the Mocha and Chocolate Bordeaux, and it is divine.

For dinner last night, we went to Chipotle.  It was pretty good, but a little spicy for me.  I ordered my bowl with the corn salsa, and I find that there is an extra kick in the salsa that I do not enjoy.  That being said, it was nice to eat Mexican food, as I have not had it in months.  We took our food to go, and ate it outside in the village while listening to Dogs (a band) play cover songs.  We saw our lab advisor, and it was great to see her having so much fun!

This morning, my lab mates and I decided to go on a hike to a small peak called Potato Mountain.  To prepare for this semi-gruesome hike, I made chocolate chip pancakes with extra chocolate chips.  This definitely helped us prepare for the 1.7 mile trek to the saddle.  The hike is mostly uphill with very few patches of shade.  When we found shade, we took a break to drink some water and catch our breaths.  I became tired pretty fast, not used to the 1,000-foot elevation climb.  Once we made it to the saddle, we decided not to continue to the peak due to our fear of bees.  The next portion of the hike, which is about a half mile, contained a bee farm.  However, the views were spectacular from where we stood.

I found this hike to be pretty hard, and on Friday Keck Science is going to climb to the top of Mount Baldy.  That consists of a 4,000-foot elevation gain in approximately 7 miles.  Needless to say, I am worried about that hike.  However, I am still going to go because it will be an amazing experience and will definitely teach me my physical limits (which I am hoping allow me to climb to the top).  Don't worry about me however, as I am going to pack loads of water, food, and sunscreen. :)

After we descended Potato Mountain, it was around noon: lunch time!  One of my lab mates decided to teach us how to make wontons!  It is pretty simple:
-wonton wrappers
-soy sauce
-chicken broth

1. Mix soy sauce, pork, and water together.  I unfortunately don't have quantities for you, but you can always season it to taste!  Make sure you add plenty of water though, as the pork will become dry(er) during the cooking process.
2. Take a wrapper, and put some pork in the middle of the wrapper.  Dab one corner of the inner wrapper with water, and fold over.  Then dab the outer portion of a different corner, and fold over so that they look similar to below.  
       *You can fold the wrapper however you would like as long as the pork does not look like it is not going to fall out
3. Place in a pot of boiling water.  When they begin to float, you can transfer it to a pot with warm chicken broth.

In addition, I decided to bake cookies this afternoon.  I made peanut butter chocolate chip cookie bars with Speculos cookie butter.

-1/2 cup unsalted butter
-3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
-1/2 cup granulated sugar
-1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
-1 egg
-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
-3/4 teaspoon baking soda
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
-1 1/2- 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
-1/4 cup Speculos Cookie Butter from Trader Joes (optional; may be substituted with Nutella)

-Blend butter, peanut butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla together until smooth.
-Add baking soda, salt, and flour in small increments beating well after each addition.
-Add Speculos Cookie Butter, mixing so it is lightly distributed throughout the dough but not fully mixed in.
-Place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
-Add chocolate chips and mix by hand (at this point, I over mixed the Cookie Butter in to the dough and decided to garnish the top of the cookie bars by melting peanut butter and drizzling lightly over the top.  Another good option is to put the chocolate chips on top of the cookie bars).
-Place into a cake pan.
-Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for about 30-40 minutes.  I baked it until the edges looked crispy and had a darker brown color.

If you would like to make cookies, then roll the dough into balls, and place on a greased cookie sheet.  Using a fork, press down on the balls to create a crisscross pattern and bake for about 7-10 minutes.

*Recipe adapted from jamieanne.

"Laughter is brightest where food is the best." -Irish Proverb

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