Still #4 (Or Michigan Defeated Wisconsin)

I’m back from Michigan, and I’m pleased to report that the Wolverines are still #4 after (barely) defeating the Badgers in Ann Arbor.

Even though the game almost made me die of stress (I still can’t talk about our kicker), I had sooooo much fun!

See?

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My Panda and I reunited to party like undergrads.

Tailgating is our favorite. We had pulled pork and Doritos for breakfast. I’d show you pics of that situation, but I was too busy eating it.

(Pro tip: Slows Bar BQ in Detroit knows pig. You need it in your life.)

When I wasn’t stuffing my face, I was meeting up with old friends.

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Including my old buddy, Dhani Jones. 

Even though we hit up four tailgates, we still made it to the Big House well before kick off because we’re professionals.

Angela spent half the game pacing the stadium (see earlier kicker criticism), but here we are in our seats for a minute.

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She love Michigan as much as I do. 

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I dare say we like it more than most of the 110,000+ people pictured here. 

After we won, we kept the party going.

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I may have had to pop an extra bottle to celebrate. 

And Angela used it to chase her victory tequila because she’s a gorgeous beast….

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And my kind of Wolverine. 

On the way to our next celebration we ran into some serious fratastic action.

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College never changes.

And somehow I find that comforting.

Maybe that’s why I keep going back.

That’s all I have for now.

I’ll tell you all about my Nana’s 90th at the cottage later.

Football’s Back and It’s Time for Spicy Sausage (Or How to Make Spicy Italian Sausage with Tomato Cream Sauce on Farfalle)

Fall means spicy meat to me. For real.

I almost can’t believe football is back. I mean, it’s like 93 outside, but whatever. Football means fall to me. So in honor of it all, I’m making my favorite pasta dish for the game tonight. It’s a spicy sausage pasta with a tomato cream sauce, and it’s divine. It basically combines everything I love in this world.

Namely: cream, carbs, and pig.

Do you know what else makes this week a big deal? Besides all of the photos of my friends’ kids’ first day of school all over Facebook?

Yesterday was Albus’ one year adoption anniversary.

On September 4, 2011, I rescued a scared little boy named Bruno from the backseat of a Honda Accord and brought him home with me. I had just planned to foster him, but by September 5, I was making homemade ice cream cookie sandwiches while watching Harry Potter, and I sort of fell absolutely in love with the bombastic beast. Before Harry was off to Hogwarts, I had renamed the dog and informed Woodley we were keeping him.

I mean, look at this face.

What on earth am I wearing, woman?

How was I going to give him up? Woodley might have looked something like this when I told her the big dog was staying.

Another dog? I can’t even look at you.

But now they’re best buddies or something.

I’m not a dog, but I think this means they like each other. Plus Woodley cries at daycare if they don’t let her into the big dog area with her brother, so there’s that.

So anyway, here’s the recipe. It’s easy. And amazing.

Spicy Italian Sausage with Tomato Cream Sauce on Farfalle

2 T olive oil
1 lb spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional – I like my sauce really spicy so I add the pepper flakes)
1 C diced onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 14.5 ounce cans of chopped tomatoes
½ C whipping cream

1 lb farfalle (or bowtie pasta)
½ C fresh basil, torn
Fresh grated parmesan

Heat the olive oil in a heavy pot over medium high heat. Add sausage (and red peppers flakes). Cook until the sausage is no longer pink, about 5 minutes, breaking the sausage into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon as you cook the meat. Add the onion and garlic, sautéing until tender, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and juice.

Put a pot of salted water on the stove to boil after adding the tomatoes to the sauce. Once the water is boiling, cook the noodles according to the package directions.

Meanwhile, simmer the tomato sauce for 20 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced and the tomatoes are a brick red color. Add the cream to the sauce and cook for 3-5 minutes until the cream has reduced slightly.

Drain the pasta and serve the sauce over the farfalle with torn basil on top. Garnish with fresh grated parmesan.

Eat. And smile while watching football and pretending it feels like fall.

Prince Harry, Pina Coladas, and Other Observations on Vegas. (Or I’m Looking for the Perfect Pina Colada)

Note to self: I need hurricane glasses. Pina Coladas just don’t look right when served in the wrong glassware.

You have probably already heard, but just in case you haven’t, Prince Harry’s blurry bum and bits are prominently featured on TMZ today. I mean, he was in Vegas, so it’s kind of, “Whatever. Leave the poor prince alone!” But it is the royal bum, so it’s breaking news. Or something.

(By the way, if you want to see the blurry pics of the prince, who apparently isn’t all that good at playing pool, here’s the link, but maybe don’t click on it if you’re at work.)

You’re welcome.

So, yeah, that’s all very different than my last trip to the strip. The last time I went to Vegas I had a large pina colada outside of Paris after a day at the pool and then promptly fell asleep snuggling with the dogs while watching TV.

The only available “glassware” for serving Pina Coladas outside of Paris were either this balloon situation or a large plastic Eiffel Tower that hung from my neck. I considered this the lesser of two aesthetic evils.

Clearly, I didn’t do Vegas right. I didn’t step on any burning cigarettes or broken glass while carrying my shoes across the strip at 7 am, I didn’t drop $400 on food in two days, and I didn’t play strip pool with a prince.

I mean, it should hardly even count as a trip to Vegas if about six girls aren’t washing their filthy feet in the spa tub at the same time and at least one person doesn’t play poker until dawn with an off season athlete. (And, no, that is absolutely not a euphemism.) But this was not that kind of trip. Not the kind that leads to dirty feet or royal debauchery, anyway.

After vacillating for weeks about meeting up with friends who were in town for a hockey tournament, I made a game day decision — like booked my room at 10 am and jumped in the car with the dogs at 11 am kind of game day decision. Obviously, I would never bring them for a wild weekend, but this was just a chill, catch up with friends by the pool kind of trip. Totally the kind for dogs. I should probably do a post on bringing dogs to Vegas because there are challenges, but it can be done, and I have the pictures to prove it.

Albus discovers that everything is super sized in Vegas. Even the cats.

Apparently, Albus has caught the scent of margaritas, quesadillas, and sin. This photo was taken moments before he tried to enter Margaritaville of his own volition.

So anyway, all of this TMZ talk of Vegas was really making me want a pina colada and some vintage booty music tonight, so I cranked up some bad 90s jams like Yolanda, Tootsee Roll, and Fatboy and pulled out the blender.

I mixed up a batch of pina coladas, and I have to admit it wasn’t life changing. I mean, it was pretty good and it wasn’t as cloyingly sweet as the crappy made from a mix kind, but I think I wanted more pineapple punch. Next time I’ll probably use fresh pineapple instead of the canned version in juice. I may even freeze the pineapple before mixing it and cut down on the ice so the drink will have a little more sweet pineappley pizzazz.

Oh, and just in case you’re wondering: 68% of the TMZ audience? Now thinks Prince Harry is awesome.

(And, yes, I had to vote to find that out. I might have even voted twice. Don’t judge me. After all, I did hear about the royal debacle from NPR in the first place.)

Pina Colada

2/3 C light rum
2/3 C pineapple
2/3 C cream of coconut
3 C crushed ice

Add the rum, pineapple and cream of coconut and blend thoroughly. Add the crushed ice and blend completely.

To achieve a more uniform slushy consistency, I put the cocktail in my ice cream maker and let it do its magic for about ten minutes. That made it an awesome consistency.

If you have any other suggestions to improve upon the pina colada recipe, please hook me up. I need to find my perfect Prince Charming Pina Colada.

Beat the Heat with a Little Help from Ann Arbor (Or How to Make Dominick’s Constant Buzz)

My Mason jar full of Constant Buzz offers a taste of college — only now I have a palm tree backdrop — and a much lower tolerance for alcohol.

11 years ago today, my dad and I rolled into LA after a harrowing cross country trip that involved a three day delay in Ann Arbor (something about trailer hitch?), a tire blow out in Oklahoma City repaired by a guy bearing a striking resemblance to Jerry Garcia, and me crying in a Dairy Queen in Texas. (Don’t ask.)

It’s hard to believe it has been 11 years. In some ways I’m the same kid who once camped out on a futon in Westwood. In others, I hardly know her.

In honor of the college town (and the life) I left behind, it seems fitting that today I am posting the recipe for Dominick’s Constant Buzz.

See, Dominick’s is an Ann Arbor institution — kinda like Zingerman’s — only nothing like it at all. Zingerman’s is a high-end deli famous for its amazing bread and a Reuben that will change your life. Dominick’s is clear on the other side of campus (not far from the Big House) and is synonymous with day drinking. Sure, they serve food, but it’s not the reason anyone heads to Dominick’s. (I mean, what college kid can’t make their own quesadilla?)

Most people go to sit at the picnic tables on the patio and sip strong drinks from Mason jars while watching drunk B-school boys push each other into the fountain. I’m not sure what that’s all about, but it’s probably some sort of mating ritual — like when deer go all crazy and try to kill each other with their horns.

Imagine these deer are two business school boys named Ryan, and you sort of get the picture. Photo Courtesy of Informed Farmers.

Dominick’s is only open March through November, which absolutely adds to its allure. Those long, cold, football-less months are agonizing, and the reopening of Dominick’s every spring means platform sandals and patio seating are back — and the countdown to college football has officially started.

The sangria and the mystery concoction called Constant Buzz are the cocktail catalysts that kick start epic evenings for many Ann Arbor coeds. (They also explain why packs of future stock brokers set fire to their furniture on nearby Hill Street sidewalks. Incidentally, this penchant for drunken destruction by future Wall Street kids may also explain the state of the US economy….)

At this point in your Constant Buzz consumption, setting fire to your own furniture might actually sound like fun. Don’t say I didn’t warn you….

So, anyway…

I loved Dominick’s, and 11 years ago, I held my going away party there.

Since I’m sort of homesick, and I’m getting all amped up for football season, I was motivated to make myself a batch of Constant Buzz this weekend. Plus it has been so crazy hot in Hollywood lately that I don’t want to do anything except float in my pool and sip on something cool.

Bear in mind, I haven’t had the drink in a while, so this is a rough approximation based on (an urban legend of the ingredients) and memory. If anyone has tweaks – or the inside scoop on the real recipe, hook a Wolverine up.

Bottoms Up!

Constant Buzz

1 C fresh strawberries
2 T sugar
1 T fresh squeezed lime juice
1 C frozen pineapple
1.5 oz tequila
1.5 oz vodka
1.5 oz white rum
1.5 oz gin
1 oz triple sec
1 C crushed ice, optional

Puree the strawberries in the blender. Add sugar and lime juice and allow the mixture to sit for 10 minutes. Add the alcohol and frozen pineapple and puree the mixture. You can make it ahead of time and return it to the freezer if you wish. The alcohol will prevent it from freezing and will yield a nice, slushy consistency. I generally go this route and skip the cup of crushed ice, but it’s totally your call. If you do add the crushed ice, make sure you mix it thoroughly.

OK, that’s it for me for now.

I’m off to watch that traitor Ryan Mallett air it out on Monday Night football. Just remember, Mallett, you’re the back up to a REAL Michigan man….

(But really, no hard feelings, Mallett, I would have transferred as well. The Rodriguez era was awful for us all.)

I Celebrate Shark Week (Or How to Make Shark Cupcakes)

Check out my shark week action.

It’s time to talk about sharks. Why? Because it’s Shark Week! And also ‘cuz I LOVE them. Like, you have no idea. For as long as I can remember, I wrote research papers about sharks. I mean, I wrote manifestos about conservation. When I was ten.

See, I saw Jaws 3 in 3-D before starting kindergarten and while some might say that was a serious error in parental judgment, I disagree.

The things that are wrong with me?

They weren’t caused by a rouge Carcharodon carcharias eating people at Sea World.

I promise.

So, anyway, Jaws 3 was a decisive moment in my childhood. Not because the movie was any good, mind you, but because it probably began my fascination with the Great White and sharks in general. As we settled into our seats with buckets of buttery popcorn, my 3-D glasses, slid off of my face. They did so repeatedly until my mom used my bobby pins to secure the glasses to the sides of my little head. Once we got that situation settled, I was riveted as severed legs floated toward my face and Louis Gossett, Jr. went running around Sea World shouting and shit.

It wasn’t just Jaws 3. It was everything Jaws. I read the Benchley book when I was 10. And I put the first two movies in a steady rotation during much of my childhood. I also devoured all of the information I could find on sharks.

When I was 16, I visited Washington, D.C. for a student government forum. I stood up and started grilling some political official (I can’t remember his title now — ocean something) about his stance on shark finning in front of about 200 people. (Everyone called me “Shark Girl” for the rest of the week. True story.)

And my dog? Apparently, he likes sharks too.

So, anyway, you get it. Sharks are my thing. And Shark Week speaks to my soul.

To celebrate this magical week and the majestic apex predator I adore, I made shark cupcakes.

I found inspiration in a few places. First of all, I got the idea to fill them with strawberry compote from this post on Cupcakes and Cashmere. The actual sharks themselves were inspired by Hello, Cupcake!. I didn’t exactly follow the directions because I didn’t want to buy fruit roll ups, miniature chocolate chips, or chocolate wafers, so I improvised a bit.

Here’s how I did it.

I put the Twinkies in the freezer for a while to make them easier to cut.

And for the fins? I opted for Trader Joe’s Maple Leaf Cookies. I sliced them like this.

Then I created a pointy end I could stick into the Twinkie shark for stability. Oh, and I also scraped the leaf pattern off of the other side of the cookie with my Shun Santoku knife.

I attached the Twinkie sharks to the cupcakes with some frosting. I sliced a small slit into the Twinkie and inserted the cookie fin.

Then I put the cupcakes in the freezer for about 10 minutes.

Next, I heated up the gray frosting for a few seconds in the microwave (on the defrost setting) so that the frosting was runny enough to pour over the sharks. (Hello, Cupcake! recommends dipping the sharks, but I did not find that as effective as pouring the frosting over them with a spoon.)

If you end up with excess frosting on the cupcake, you can scrape it off after it freezes.

After I covered the sharks (and the fins) in frosting, I put them in the freezer until the frosting hardened.

After the frosting had hardened, I put on a little Frank Ocean and decorated those fabulous fish. Hello, Cupcake! recommends using fruit roll ups for the mouths and small chocolate chips for the eyes, but I didn’t feel like buying those things so I just improvised with frosting. It’s totally worth buying the book, though, because they have SO many amazing ideas. Plus it’s like $11 on Amazon. Total bargain.

After decorating the sharks, I put them in the fridge for a while so everything hardened properly.

Then I pretty much dove in head first. And devoured them.

I used Amy Sedaris’ recipe for the cupcakes, but I made my own cream cheese frosting. (I did use a butter cream for the gray frosting, though, because I wasn’t sure how well the cream cheese frosting would melt.)

Soon I’ll hook you up with the owl cupcake tutorial. Remember those? From the baby shower that didn’t happen because my birthday buddy decided to arrive early?

I made the cupcakes anyway… for fun.

But now? It’s time for my other love: NFL pre season football.

Patience is a Virtue I Don’t Possess (Or How to Make a Dipped Vase)

I share a birthday with Tony Bennett,  Tom Brady, and Martha Stewart. While I can’t sing to save my life, or throw a spiral like a Super Bowl MVP, I do fancy myself rather handy with a glue gun and glitter paint.

Today I decide to make a gold dipped vase I found on You Are My Fave.

I start with Martha’s gold paint left over from my dipped table experiment and a $6 vase from Home Goods. I pop on a little Jay-Z featuring Panjabi MC and get to work. I pour the gold paint into a bowl and dip the top of the vase inside. Then I set the vase on a brown paper bag and wait.

It doesn’t look like enough paint, so I pour a little more around the rim of the vase to create additional drips.

It’s supposed to be easy, but of course I manage to mess it up the first time. (Maybe I’m not much like Martha either….) The good thing about this project is that you can simply peel off the paint and start over if you don’t like the finished project.

Here’s what I learned about dipping vases:

It doesn’t take much gold paint to create the look. I overdid it the first time because I underestimated how far a little paint would travel down the side of the vase. Pouring the extra paint around the rim of the vase made too many drippy bits coming down the side and made the finished product look messy.

In the end, you just have to be patient (not my strong suit) while the paint slowly drips down the side, and it’ll all work out. This is probably some sort of metaphor for life, but I’m not really in the mood to be philosophical today. It’s probably because I’m grooving to a little hip hop Bhangra.

I haven’t decided what to put in the vase yet, but I’ll eventually get around to it when I’m done stenciling tiny birch trees all over my hallway walls. (More on that later…)

I’m leaning toward some sort of white crepe paper flowers so I don’t have to continually update a wilting mess of a floral arrangement.

Suggestions?

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