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Wednesday, 06 March 2013 19:07

TND: Meeting the Family

Today my darling sister, Hillary and her boyfriend, Brian, are coming to Brooklyn for a little visit. This is a big visit because she is finally meeting two very important additions to our lives.  The first is this little stinker right here.
Our little niece, Miss Riley Madeline. The second is to meet my boyfriend, Dave (I won't embarrass him with a photo....yet).
We've got a packed weekend planned beginning with dinner at one my favorite haunts, Back Forty, a trip to the Whitney to see this exhibit on Saturday, and brunch at Dino to eat some ricotta pancakes.  And somewhere in between there Hillary and I will find plenty of time to try and one up each other with embarrassing stories. Do you do that with your sisters? We somehow almost always regress to the ages of 12 and 10 or maybe 8 and 6 if we're really feelin' sassy. We give each other grief with same three stories we've had up our sleeves for years and yet they never seem to get old. Beware if you're ever at the dinner table with all 6 of us with our parents. We zing each other back and forth until finally someone crosses the line (usually with an embarrassing makeout story) and we all exclaim "ewwww! Gross!" and the poor guest either does his best to laugh it off or just takes a big gulp of wine (along with our bickering, wine is in never ending supply at our house). We're a big family with everyone in everyone else's business, but I wouldn't have it any other way.
To celebrate my sister's arrival, I thought that I would make one of her personal favorite Thursdays recipes, Mocha Brownie Pie.

Mocha Brownie Pie

by stephania stanley (adapted from The Complete Cooking Light Cookbook; 2000


What You Need:

  • 1/2 package of fudge brownie mix
  • 1 package of chocolate instant pudding
  • 4 tsps instant coffee granules (or 4 tsps of extra strong brewed coffee)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 2 large eggs whites
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 cups of whipped cream
  • semi-sweet chocolate bars or cubes for curling topping (optional)
  • pie crust 

Note:Feel free to experiment a little with the garnish. I used peppermint chocolate to garnish to add a little something to the sweet whipped cream. 

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl combine brownie mix, 1 tsp of vanilla, and egg whites.  Stir to mix.  If you are using the instant coffee granules, combine 2 tsps of coffee granules and 2 tsps of hot water in a small bowl.  Stir until granules have dissolved and add to the brownie mixture.  If you are using the strong coffee, simply add two tsps of the coffee to the brownie mixture.  Stir until smooth.  Pour mixture into pie crust and bake for 25 minutes (or until toothpick comes out clean).  Remove from heat and place in the fridge.

While the brownie layer is baking, use an electric mixer to beat the milk,  1 tsp coffee (granules or brewed), vanilla, and pudding mix in a medium sized mixing bowl.  Next fold 1 1/2 cups of whipped cream into the pudding mixture.  After the brownie layer has cooled down to at least room temperature, gently spread spoon the pudding mixture over the brownie layer.  Combine the last tsp of coffee (granules add to one tsp of hot water or simply add brewed) and fold into the last 1 1/2 cups of whipped cream.  Gently spoon the coffee whipped cream onto the pudding layer.  If desired, use a vegetable peeler to make chocolate curls from the chocolate bars.  Finish the pie by garnishing with chocolate curls.  Serve immediately or store in refrigerator until ready to serve.  

Published in THURSDAYS Blog
Wednesday, 27 February 2013 08:28

Winter Shortcake Stuffed with Jam and Whipped Cream

Happy Wednesday!

This week we're all about Our Favorite Things. We love supporting local boutiques, farmers markets, butchers, and most especially bakeries. In fact I love our little artisan bakeries so much that I did an entire roundup of my favorites a couple of years ago. In the last year or so, I've really grown to love biscuits. As simple as they are, I really look forward to heating up a butter biscuit from my favorite local bakery, Bittersweet, smothering it with jam and pairing it with a mug of French pressed coffee. For this week's Food Network post, I wanted to find a recipe  that I would realistically want to make during the work week, wasn't too unhealthy, and was just sweet enough to satisfy my relentless morning sweet tooth. After spending a little time on the magical World Wide Web, I found it - Biscuits stuffed with strawberry jam and whipped cream.



Winter Shortcake Stuffed with Jam & Whipped Cream
adapted from Bon Appetit; January 2013


What you need:           biscuitsfinalIMG 2742

  • 2 Cups of BA Biscuit Mix 
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled and sliced into 1/2" thick pieces
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup dried figs, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbs raw sugar
  • 3/4 cup jam
  • 3/4 cup chilled heavy cream, whipped
  • all-purpose flour, for dusting surface

What you do:

    Preheat oven to 425°F .  Combine biscuit mixture and butter into a food processor, until it's similar to coarse meal. Transfer to bowl. Add buttermilk. Stir to mix. Add figs and zest. Stir to combine. Flour a flat working surface. Transfer dough to floured surface and kneed for 4-5 times. Dust your rolling pin with flour and roll out dough until it's approximately a 7" square and about 3/4" thick. Slice dough in half. Slice each half into 4 rectangles. 

    Transfer shortcakes to a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush with beaten egg and then sprinkle with raw sugar. 

    Bake shortcakes for 13 - 15 minutes or until just golden brown. Let them cool for 15 minutes. Slice each piece in half and and fill with jam and whipped cream. 


    What's Gaby Cooking: Cheddar-Bacon Buttermilk Biscuits
    Jeanette's Healthy Living: My Mom's Beijing Biscuits "Shao Bing"
    The Cultural Dish: Pineapple Biscuits
    And Love It Too: Coconut Flour Country Biscuits
    Red or Green?: Green Chile and Olive Oil Biscuits
    Napa Farmhouse 1885: Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Drop Biscuits With Cheddar and Garlic
    Made By Michelle: Swiss Chard and Feta Fritters
    Devour: The Best Mix-Ins for Your Biscuits
    Virtually Homemade: Strawberry-Tangerine Shortcakes With Bisquick Drop Biscuits
    Daily*Dishin: Quick Cream Biscuits and Slow Bacon Jam
    The Heritage Cook: Gluten-Free Buttermilk Biscuits
    Thursday Night Dinner: Winter Shortcake Stuffed With Jam and Whipped Cream
    FN Dish: 15 Takes on Biscuits

        Published in THURSDAYS Blog
        Thursday, 21 February 2013 19:58

        TND: Yia Yia's Baklava

        Happy Thursday! Last Sunday, I helped Dave host soup night at his house - a dinner tradition he started with his friends in college where they all get together, make soup, and catch up. Sounds a little familiar, huh?  Dave chose a Greek lentil soup recipe and I decided to stick with the theme and make my Yia Yia's baklava from our Greek family cookbook that she titled Greek Cooking for Americans (I like to pronounce this with a Greek American accent in my head, but you don't have to). The book is a collection of all of my great grandmothers cooking, translated into English, and then handed down to each woman in our family. I love this book. I like picturing my papou with his brothers and sisters all sitting around together at the dinner table in their small hometown of Sydney, Ohio eating their special treat. Or sometime I like to picture my Papou going to his father's ice cream shop, Purity, after school to help out. I wonder if they ever served this recipe to their customers along with a big scoop of American vanilla bean ice cream.  My favorite memories of eating my Yia Yia's baklava are always sitting at the little island in my Yia Yia and Papou's kitchen with my feet dangling from the tall stool and a big scoop of ice cream on the side served in the original Purity sundae dishes. I felt like the luckiest girl in the world sitting at the counter and still do.
        I hope that this recipe brings a little joy to you too! 

        Yia Yia's BaklavabaklavaIMG 2049
        by Penelope Kookootsedes

        What you need:           

        For the syrup (needs to be made at least one hour ahead of time):

        • 4 cups sugar
        • 1/2 cup honey
        • 2 cups water
        • 1 stick cinnamon
        • 2 tbsp lemon juice

        For the pastry: 

        • 4 cups walnuts, ground
        • 1/2 cup sugar
        • 1 tbsp cinnamon
        • 3/4 lb butter
        • whole cloves
        • 1 lb filo

        What you do:

          For the syrup:

          Bring all ingredients to a boil.  Let it cook for 10 minutes. Let it cool to room temperature (I used the refrigerator to speed this up). 

          Mix walnuts, cinnamon and sugar and set aside.

          Place a sheet of filo in the pan.  Brush it with melted butter. Continue until there are 6 layers of filo.  Then sprinkle nut mixture over filo. Add a sheet of filo, butter it and sprinkle walnut mixture over it.  Continue until the walnuts are used up.  Top with 6 layers of filo. 

          Cut in diamond shape, about 1 1/4". Put a whole clove in the center of each piece. Bake at 400°F for 15 minutes and then lower heat to 350°F and bake for one hour. 

          Pour cooled syrup mixture over baklava and let it sit for at least one hour (preferably overnight). Serve room temperature or warmed. 

              Published in THURSDAYS Blog
              Wednesday, 13 February 2013 17:57

              TND: Valentine's Day Style

              Happy Valentine's Day everyone! I hope that wherever you are, you're spreading some love today. Vday doesn't have to just be a day for "romantic" love. Some of my favorite Vday memories are those that I've spent with my girlfriends. Like the Valentine's Day when Caitlin and I took each other out for Indian food at the neighborhood spot.  They seated us at the one table where the centerpiece roses were wilted and we were sure they were mocking us. We ordered one of everything and drank a bottle of wine. We crawled home afterward and laid on the couch, moaning and rolling our tights off of our stomachs. It was a great night!
              So, anway, because Valentine's Day also makes me think of my favorite desserts, here are some of my favorite sweets recipes. Maybe it will inspire you to make a sweet treat for someone special in your world. And don't forget to check out this year's batch of Valentine's that I made for my friends. Yay for hearts!

              Enjoy. xoxo.


              Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cakepeanut butter cup cake
              by stephanie stanley

              What you need:

              For the cake:

              • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
              • ! cup buttermilk
              • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
              • 1 1/4 cups sugar
              • 1/2 tsp salt
              • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
              • 1/2 cups vegetable oil
              • 1 tsp vanilla
              • 2 eggs(at room temperature)
              • Butter for greasing cake pans
              • 2 tsp all-purpose flour for cake pans

              For the icing:

              • 16 tbsp (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
              • 4 oz unsweetened chocolate
              • 4 tbsp milk
              • 3 tbsp sour cream
              • 2 tsp vanilla
              • 3 cups peanut butter cups, chopped

              What to do:

              For the cake:

              Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Take out your medium sized mixing bowl and sift in the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set flour mixture aside.  In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, vegetable oil, and buttermilk.  Whisk or use an electric mixer until ingredients are well blended.  Add eggs and mix.  Next add flour mixture at about ½ cup at a time.  Mix until well blended.

              Grease two 8” round cake pans with butter and then sprinkle each pan with 1 tsp of all-purpose flour.  Divide evenly into cake pans and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

              For the icing:

              While the cakes are baking, start the icing.  Combine all ingredients except for peanut butter cups into a large mixing bowl.  Mix all ingredients together at medium speed until ingredients are well blended.  Let cakes sit for approximately 15-20 minutes after baking.  Place the first layer on a cake dish or large plate.  Using a small spatula, cover the top and sides of the first layer with icing.  Next, sprinkle a layer of chocolate peanut butter cups on the top of the iced cake and then carefully place the second layer of cake on top.  Cover the second layer of cake with icing.  Finish by covering the remainder of the cake with chocolate peanut butter cups and enjoy!

              Kate's Strawberry Cake strawberry cake

              What you need:

              For the cake:

              • 1 box cake mix (yellow or white)
              • 1 box strawberry Jello
              • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
              • 1/2 cup water
              • 1/2 cup crushed strawberries
              • 4 eggs

              For the icing:

              • 1 box powdered sugar
              • 1/2 cup crushed strawberries
              • 1/4 cup margarine

              What to do:

              For the cake:
              Mix dry cake mix and Jello powder together.  Add oil, water, and strawberries.  Beat eggs in one at a time with a whisk. Mix until incorporated. Bake in 2 cake pans or round loaf pan for 30-35 minutes at 350° F.

              For the icing:
              Mix ingredients together until incorporated. Ice cake with a soft spatula after cake has cooled (about 15 minutes).


               Valentine's Day Cards!!

              valentines 2013
                  vtines cards
                  valentines 1 2013
                  Published in THURSDAYS Blog
                  Tuesday, 15 January 2013 17:56

                  Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

                  And we're back. After a slight hacking incident over the last few days, we're finally up and running again! And just in time too! Today's recipe has been on my mind ever since New Years.  Dave and I spent the holiday upstate with his dear friends, Dan and Erin. Lucky for us (and most especially for his wife, Erin), Dan is an avid baker. For three days we ate loaves and loaves of fresh bread, gooey cinnamon rolls (without raisins...after a heated debate) and some of the best coffee cake I've ever had. I may or may not have eaten three slices in just one day!  For weeks now, I've been meaning to make my own and was thrilled to find a recipe that also included chocolate!



                  Chocolate Chip Coffee Cakechocolate-chip-coffee-cake-MG 9262
                  by stephania stanley (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

                  What you need:

                  For the cake:             

                  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick) room temperature
                  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
                  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
                  • 2 cups sour cream
                  • 3 large eggs, separated
                  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
                  • 1 tsp baking powder
                  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
                  • 3/4 tsp salt

                  For the filling and topping: 

                  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
                  • 1/2 cup sugar
                  • 1 tsp cinnamon

                  What you do:

                  Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter or coat with cooking spray a 13"x9" pan. In a large mixing bowl, combine butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar. Mix well. Add egg yolks one at a time and vanilla. Mix until eggs are beaten and well blended. In a separate bowl, add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir to mix. Alternating between flour mixture and sour cream, combine with butter mixture. 

                  In a medium sized bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. I recommend using an electric mixer for this part unless it's also your cross training day in your half marathon preparations. 

                  In a small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon for filling and topping. Stir to mix. 

                  Pour half of the coffee cake batter into the pan.  Sprinkle half of the cinnamon mixture and 1 cup of the chocolate chips evenly for the filling. Dish out the remaining batter.  I used a rubber spatula and then gently spread batter so that it forms a nice, even layer.  Add remaining cinnamon mixture and sprinkle the last cup of the chocolate chips. Gently press chocolate chips into batter so that they're a bit more stuck in there, but not submerged. 

                  Bake for 50 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. 


                  Big Girls, Small Kitchen: Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Cookie Breakfast Bars
                  Jeanette's Healthy Living: Gluten-Free Chocolate Cranberry Walnut Cookies
                  What's Gaby Cooking: Salted Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
                  The Lemon Bowl: Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
                  From My Corner of Saratoga: Chocolate Chip Cookies
                  Napa Farmhouse 1885: New Year's Resolution Chocolate Chip Cookies
                  Red or Green?: Tao's Double-Chocolate Chip Cookies
                  Made By Michelle: The Best Blondies, Ever
                  Cooking With Elise: Chocolate Chip Cookies
                  Sweet Life Bike: Dulce de Leche Chocolate Chip Cookies
                  Virtually Homemade: Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies
                  The Cultural Dish: Chocolate Chip Cookie Goodness
                  Thursday Night Dinner: Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake
                  Dishin & Dishes: Chocolaty Chocolate Chip Cookies
                  Daily*Dishin: Chocolate Chip and Candied Bacon Cookies With Pecans
                  Devour:5 Takes on Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies
                  FN Dish: The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie 

                  Published in THURSDAYS Blog
                  Monday, 05 November 2012 16:46

                  Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Icing

                  Hello hello everybody! Happy election day! I hope that everyone is making sure to get out and vote today. Plus once you get home you can reward yourself for doing your civic duty by baking these delicious cupcakes! I made them last night for my roommates because, lets face it I didnt want to write the paper that I have due this week. My problems with procrastonation aside they loved them! Besides tasting delicious they filled our appartment with the best smells of pumpkin, cinnamon, and fall. One of these cupcakes while sitting next to the fire made it the perfect fall night. 

                  I hope you all have a wonderful day and dont forget to get out and vote! 



                  Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Icing

                  adapted from Sweetopia


                  What you need:

                  For the Cupcakes:

                  • 1 cup flour (I used gluten free flour, Cup 4 Cup)
                  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
                  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
                  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
                  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
                  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
                  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
                  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
                  • 2 large eggs
                  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
                  • 1/2 cup sugar
                  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
                  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

                  For the Icing:

                  • 1 8 oz package of cream cheese
                  • 2 sticks of butter
                  • 2 cups of powdered sugar
                  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
                  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

                  What you do:

                  For the cupcakes:

                  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, then in a large bowl combine the eggs, pumpkin, sugars, and vegetable oil. Wisk until combined. Next sift together the spices and the flour. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix untill well intergrated. Line your cupcake pan with liners and divide the batter equally, it should make about 12 large cupcakes. Bake for 20 minutes.

                  For the icing:

                  In a large bowl whip the butter, vanilla extract, maple syrup, and cream cheese together. Once fully combined slowly add the sugar 1/4 cup at a time (so you can avoid a sugar facial). Frost your delicious treat and enjoy!



                  Published in THURSDAYS Blog
                  Wednesday, 12 September 2012 18:14

                  True Love: Apple and Maple Bread Pudding

                  Last week I was hanging out with this darling girl, Miss Abby Mangerson.  


                  Abby is 4, a wild child and I whole-heartedly love her for it.  We were playing her most recent favorite imaginary game, puppy and owner, (she loves to pretend that she is Ophelia, my actual 8-month old black lab mix puppy in her living room) and she asked me about this heart necklace that I wear almost everyday.

                  Photo: Elizabeth Dondis Photography

                  I told her that it was actually a cake pull from my sister Ruthie’s wedding in New Orleans last fall.  As the southern tradition goes, all of the most important women in Ruthie’s life got to pull out a charm from her wedding cake and each charm has it’s own special meaning.  I pulled out the heart, which means “true love”.  At this point Abby was resting her head on my lap (something my actual puppy rarely calms down enough to do) and said with a sigh “Oh! I just love true love”.   I couldn't help but smile at her sweet naivete and said, “You know what Abby? I do too.”

                  And I do.  I wear that necklace to remind myself that yes, that mushy love stuff does still exist, but also to hold onto my time in New Orleans.  

                  Photo: Me and my sisters in the photo booth at Ruth and Michael's wedding

                  That week combined just about all of my favorite things rolled into one: my family, food, and New Orleans. I go to Nola at least once a year to visit my baby sister, Meredith, and you would think by the way I eat whenever I go down for a visit, that I'm preparing for hibernation. With Ruthie's wedding covering two days of meals, I obviously needed to extend my trip so that I would have time to cover all of my favorite spots and still have time to try a few more new places that Mer had discovered since my last visit. To really get the full New Orleans experience, you've got to have your game face on. There are cocktails at Cure, dinner at Clancy’s, beers at The Bulldog, music on Frenchman Street, oysters at Casamento's , shrimp po' boys at Frank and Johnny’s,  runs in Audubon Park, lunch at St. James Cheese Company and for dessert there is bread pudding just about everywhere. My most recent try was at Arnaud’s and it was simply heavenly.

                   With New Orleans a plane ride away, I've been itching to try making bread pudding at home and was thrilled to find an apple bread pudding recipe to fit into this week’s ingredient, apples.  This recipe is sinfully good and it took every ounce of self-control not to immediately dig into it last night before photographing it.  Serve it with a healthy dollop of homemade whipped cream or just dig into with a spoon (we won’t judge).



                  P.S. Check out what our fellow bloggers posted wiht apples this week after the recipe! 

                  Apple and Maple Bread Puddingapple_bread_pudding-9394
                  by Stephania Stanley (adapted from Bon Appetit, January 2010)

                  What you need:             

                  For the custard: 

                  • 6 large eggs
                  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
                  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
                  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
                  • 2 tsp cinnamon (I used my special Vietnamese cinnamon)
                  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
                  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
                  • 2 tbsp apple brandy (I used Harvest Spirit's Apply Brandy)
                  • 1 loaf pain rustique (I used ciabatta and it worked great), all crusts trimmed, and sliced into 1-inch cubes (6 1/2 - 7 cups)


                  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
                  • 5 medium sized Granny Smith Apples, cored, peeled, and sliced to 1/3" thick slices
                  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup, plus additional for brushing
                  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed

                  What you do:

                  For the custard: 

                  In a large mixing bowl whisk together eggs.  Add maple syrup, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and sea salt.  Whisk to mix together.  Add milk, cream, and brandy and whisk until well blended (you'll see the color shift quickly from a milky brown to a darker brown).  Add bread cubes and gently press down to fully submerge into custard.  Let them soak for at least 30 minutes, occasionally pressing them down so that all bread cubes are equally submerged. 

                  For the apples: 

                  While your bread cubes are soaking, preheat your oven to 350°F and position oven rack in the bottom third of oven.  Butter a 9x5-inch glass or ceramic loaf pan.  In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat (keep an eye on it as butter tends to brown rather quickly).  Add apple slices and saute until apples begin to soften and turn golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes.  Stir in 1/4 cup maples syrup and then brown sugar.  Simmer until mixture thickens to syrup, about 1 minute.  Remove from heat.

                  Gently mix half of apple slices into bread custard mixture.  Pour into loaf pan.  Arrange remaining apples slices on top in two vertical rows.  Mine was overflowing a little bit here, so I took a few bread cubes out to make room.  Pour remaining syrup over the top.  

                  Bake for about 1 1/2 hours with a rimmed cookie sheet underneath to catch any drippings.  Bread pudding should puff and crack on top and the apples should become a deep brown.  Remove from oven and let it rest for about an hour.  Brush apples with additional maple syrup.  This can be served warm (my personal preference) or at room temperature (was also good this morning as a little amuse bouche).


                  Jeanette's Healthy LivingGluten-Free Jewish Apple Cake
                  Virtually HomemadeApple Pie Muffin
                  Chez UsBaked Apples With Creme Anglaise
                  Daily*DishinEasier-than-Pie Creamy Apple Bake
                  Made by MichellePear Apple Crisp
                  Napa Farmhouse 1885Apple, Fennel and Cheddar Cheese Panini
                  From My Corner of SaratogaSpiced Apple Dutch Baby
                  Thursday Night DinnerApple Bread Pudding
                  Devour7 Apple Desserts Beyond Pie
                  Healthy EatsMarrying the Apple With New Flavors
                  FN DishLet's Go Apple Picking

                  Published in THURSDAYS Blog
                  Thursday, 06 September 2012 09:36

                  TND: New Beginnings and Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

                  Happy Thursday! This month Colleen and I are starting a new approach to our blog posts. It's been a little over two years that we've been live and it occurred to us recently that even though this site is largely based upon us and our tradition, we've shared very little about our actual lives. We have gone through some major and very significant changes over the last few years and yet somehow we simply skated on by without a mere mention of any event occurring. Jumping into this is both exciting and terrifying. Colleen and I both tend to live relatively quiet lives. As different as we are (which you'll be able to see rather quickly), we tend to enjoy the same simple pleasures in life…good food, lovely company, and something creative to keep our hands busy.  And what I've come to realize is that it's these small moments that occur each day that really make up our lives. As they say, life happens while you're busy making plans.


                  But how to dive in? Where do I start? It actually feels a bit like writing my online dating profile, which ironically seems like a good place to start. So here we go. After three tumultuous years of living with someone in a cramped East Village apartment, I returned to my darling house in Ft. Greene almost exactly a year ago. I spent this last year finally focusing on me. My home. My career. My life. I wouldn't say that it was a walk in the park, but I can easily say that it was absolutely necessary and more empowering than I could have imagined. After many coats of bright blue paint and many, many long runs I found me again. Not only was I able to clearly focus on my work, but having my weekly dinners with Caitlin and often Tandi and our one honorary boy member, Davey, were my nights that I knew that I could count on to be with my people, drink wine, always have dessert, and laugh. I wasn't the only one who was having a tough transitional time after all. Caitlin and Tandi also had significant decisions to make and a few life-changing events occur.  We leaned on each other and still do.


                  Each Thursday we catch each other up on all of the happenings of our lives over the last week.  I owe my friends many times over for their patience, support and the many dishes of comfort food they fed me (Caitlin has become that Italian mother that I never had always trying to fatten me up and give me the proper curves of a woman).  I could tell my friends were counting down the days for when I eventually announced that I was ready to start dating again. After a bit of coaxing (mostly from Davey and my sister, Hillary) I finally took a plunge and signed myself up for online dating.  I waited until I was in Michigan with my family over the summer so that I could get the brutal honesty that only sisters can give to help me write up my profile.  I spent hours answering questions and responding to personal essay questions and took the last step of posting a few photos of myself.  I took a bit of a risk and messaged a very handsome man with a clever little profile.  Messages began to flow into my inbox and I realized that perhaps this was a good idea after all. 

                  For now I’ll leave it at that and share this strawberry rhubarb pie recipe from Smitten Kitchen that I've been dying to try ever since I had this rhubarb pie last week while babysitting at my dear friend and talented graphic designer, Sarah Mangerson’s house. 


                  Tonight I’m off to my friend, Raquel’s for a little shop talk and girl talk.

                  Have a wonderful Thursday!



                  Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
                  by Smitten Kitchen

                  What you need:             

                  • 1 recipe All Butter, Really Flaky Pie Dough or double-crust pie dough of your choice
                  • 3 1/2 cups (about 1 1/2 pounds, untrimmed) rhubarb, in 1/2-inch thick slices
                  • 3 1/2 cups (about 1 pound) strawberries, hulled and sliced if big, halved if tiny
                  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
                  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
                  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
                  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
                  • 1/4 cup quick-cooking tapioca
                  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
                  • 1 large egg yolk beaten to blend with 1 teaspoon water (for glaze)

                  What you do:

                  Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a well-floured counter, roll half of pie dough into a 12-inch circle and carefully transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. (I like to fold my gently into quarters, to transfer it more easily, then unfold it in the pie plate.)

                  Stir together rhubarb, strawberries, sugars, lemon, salt and tapioca in a large bowl. Mound filling inside bottom pie crust and dot with bits of unsalted butter. Roll second half of pie dough into an 11-inch circle and cut decorative slits in it. Transfer it to center over the pie filling. Trim top and bottom pie dough so that their overhang beyond the pie plate lip is only 1/2-inch. Tuck rim of dough underneath itself and crimp it decoratively.

                  Transfer pie to a baking sheet and brush egg yolk mixture over dough. Bake for 20 minutes then reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 25 to 30 minutes, until the pie is golden and the juices bubble visibly.

                  Transfer pie to wire rack to cool. When full cool (several hours later) the juices gel.

                  Published in THURSDAYS Blog
                  Tuesday, 28 August 2012 17:11

                  TND: A Race and a Drink

                  brewmile_2The start of a new school year and having just celebrated the 2nd anniversary of this blog have gotten Stephania and me thinking a lot about Thursday Night Dinner (TND). We can't believe that it has been 10 years since we started having TNDs as sophomores in college at IU (are we old?). It's so fun to think back on those first gatherings that we would have at Emily's house. There would be up to fifteen girls invading the kitchen and living room, gabbing, cooking, crafting-- Emily would notoriously burn at least some of dinner in an effort to get it to cook faster. We would stay up too late and drink a little too much and have the best time. Every week! What a luxury. (We’re trying to find some photos of the good-old days).

                  I'm so, so glad that we have maintained this tradition all these years. Granted, our get-togethers do look somewhat different these days: There are fewer of us “regulars.” We don’t stay over quite as late because we’ve got work in the morning. Sometimes there’s a husband or boyfriend hiding out in the den. And more often these days, we have to switch around the day that we meet, opting instead for Sunday brunch or crafting together on a Tuesday; and we don’t always cook dinner and do crafts, but what’s important is that we still make it a huge priority to get together every week. It really is something to look forward to and a great way to make sure that we are staying up with each other when things start getting really crazy busy.

                  Last week the Louisville Thursday girls met at the restaurant Against the Grain to participate in BlueMile’s BrewMile, which is a one mile race followed by a free beer paid for by Draft Magazine. We paid a $5 entry fee which benefited Louisville’s Alley theatre. So, not only we were spending time together, we got in a little workout, had a great meal and drink, and helped out a local organization.

                  Not bad work for an evening! And we had a total blast.




                  Since we’re talking about exercising, here’s a healthier option than a beer to follow up a run. My (soon-to-be) sister-in-law introduced me to this special treat and now I’m hooked! I’m calling it This S*%& is Bananas because it really tastes like ice cream but….it’s just bananas. It’s crazy. Try it! You’ll like it.

                  This S*%$ is Bananas! banana_shake

                  adapted from freda maletsky's recipe

                  What you need:

                  • 2 very ripe, frozen bananas
                  • 1/2-1 cup chocolate almond milk
                  • Large dallop of whipped cream, optional
                  • 1 tbsp natural creamy peanut butter, optional

                  What you do:

                  First, here are a couple of helpful hints. If you don't want to deal with peeling a frozen banana, peel them before you put them in the freezer; and place peeled bananas in a large freezer bag. If you don't peel them first, run them under some water to help peel them easier. I usually wear kitchen gloves because I hate when my hands get cold!

                  Add bananas and milk to the blender and pulse about ten times. Check consistency. Add more milk if you want your shake to be smoother. Add whip cream dallop and peanut butter and pulse several more times until smooth. Pour into a glass and top with more whip cream (or not, whatever you're feeling). And there you have it! A super simple,  much healthier delicious milkshake!

                  Makes 6-8 oz. (Feel free to use regular milk or plain soy or almond milk! Omit peanut butter and whipped cream if you choose)

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