joyeux cuisine

a blog about good food, family, friends, and life.

things I learned in college.

Well, friends. It’s the end. My college career is over. Saturday was graduation. It’s crazy. I think I’m still in shock.
(that was a lot of little sentences that could have been covered in one. sorry English majors.)

IMG_1079This is me with a couple of my dear friends. Josh, on the end, graduated with a Bachelor of Music in Music Performance and Composition. I graduated with a BA in Music. Katelyn graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work. And Stephanie graduated with a BA in Social Science.

IMG_1101This is my boyfriend (!!!!!) Zack and I. He graduated with a BA in Psychology and is going to medical school in the fall. (there’ll be more about him later.)

So for the past 3 years at the end of the school year I’ve written a Facebook note about things that I learned that year. It’s always been in list form and it usually includes serious things and funny things. And they all pertain to something that’s happened that year.
So I bring you:
Things I Learned In College (Year 4):
-Sometimes life just sucks
-Even when it’s hard you have to trust that it’ll get better
-IT GETS BETTER. IT GETS BETTER.
-Your core group of friends are the ones that will keep you sane and keep you accountable. Love them and appreciate them
-Always be open to new friendships
-Spontaneous trips to Chicago are some of the greatest
-Don’t let people get away from you if you don’t want them to
-Awkward things sometimes lead to great things
-There are some things you can’t control. Get over it
-Sometimes roommates turn out to be just the people you need in your life
-Jazz Theory isn’t as scary as it sounds
-It’s okay to be broken because everyone else is too
-Learning to trust God is a lifelong process
-Senior recitals aren’t so terrifying after all
-You still need to practice after your recital is over
-Sometimes plans change because of one thing in your life
-Listen to someone when they compliment you
-Real life might not be so scary
-It’s okay to ask for help
-Sometimes your professors give you the best opportunities
-Don’t put off homework (yes, I still need this reminder)
-The best relationships come out of nowhere and change your life for the better
-Sometimes you don’t get what you want, but you still need to try your best
-When you get disappointed, you can cry for awhile, but then you have to keep going
-You accumulate a lot of stuff. And you have to move it all. Keep that in mind

So that’s just a little bit of my senior year of college. I’m still working on getting all moved in to my new apartment, but I’m excited about what’s going to happen over the next year. Don’t worry, I’ll keep you all posted.

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peanut butter pancakes for one.

You don’t need me to tell you that peanut butter and pancakes are one delicious combination. You probably also don’t need me to tell you that after sleeping for 10 hours all you need is pancakes. You really don’t need me to tell you that when the only thing you have to do is pack up your apartment the last thing you want to do is pack. I think we’ve all been there.

These pancakes were inspired by Joy the Baker and her Peanut Butter Bacon Pancakes. I still don’t know how I feel about the bacon part. But peanut butter is my jam. I also threw some chocolate chips on the warm pancakes and let them melt. Perfect.

Pancakes are sometimes made for sharing. But these aren’t. These are all for you. All of ’em. You have permission not to share. Unless you really want to and you really love the person you’re sharing with. It’s okay to be selfish sometimes.

Sleep in. Make some pancakes. Smother them in maple syrup. Then start your day and enjoy the sunshine.

Peanut Butter Pancakes
makes 4 small pancakes

1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt1/2 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1 and 1/2 teaspoons canola oil
1 spoonful of peanut butter

In a small bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a separate slightly larger bowl whisk the buttermilk, egg, oil, and peanut butter together. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and whisk until most of the lumps are gone. Let sit for a few minutes.
Heat a griddle over medium heat. Grease griddle with butter or nonstick spray. Using a 1/4 cups measuring cup, pour batter onto the hot griddle. Cook for 2-3 minutes on the first side and then flip onto the second side. Cook until the pancake releases from the griddle and is golden brown. Repeat for all the pancakes.
Serve warm topped with chocolate chips (optional) and maple syrup (also optional).

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oreo balls. and lasts.

This week has been full of lasts. Last week of classes. Last two presentations. Last rehearsals. Last day of work. Last class party (Jazz Theory, of course). Last oboe lesson with my teacher. Last homework assignments turned in.

Two days ago I pick up my cap and gown.

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I’m still partially in denial about this happening. But it is.

We had a party in my Jazz Theory class to celebrate the fact that we all passed. And because we could. And it was awesome. All we did was eat food, watch jazz videos, and talk about our lives. That’s how to spend a last class period.

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I made Oreo Balls. They were delicious. Want to know how to make friends? Feed them Oreo Balls. Done. A stranger becomes your best friend. (but only until the snacks are gone. that’s the catch.)

These are just crushed up Oreo cookies and cream cheese covered in chocolate. That’s all. You barely need a recipe. You don’t even have to turn on an oven. Glorious.

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Make some Oreo balls. Share them with new people. Share them with old friends. Stop and enjoy what’s happening around you. Be thankful.

Oreo Balls
from Kraft Recipes
makes approximately 48 balls

1 package Oreo cookies
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature4-6 squares semi-sweet Baker’s chocolate, melted OR 1 package milk chocolate chips, melted

Line a cookie sheet with wax paper and set aside. Place all the cookies in a gallon sized plastic bag. Using a rolling pin, finely crush the cookies. This could also be done in a food processor. In a large bowl mix the crushed cookies and the cream cheese with a spatula until the cream cheese is mixed well into the cookies. Form into 1 to 2-inch balls and place on the cookie sheet. Freeze for about 10 minutes or until set. Dip the balls in the melted chocolate using a fork to get a somewhat even layer and place back on the cookie sheet. Place in the refrigerator until set.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge until the disappear. Give them about 10 minutes.

(Note: I’m pretty sure Oreo is copyrighted or trademarked or something by Nabisco. Just so you know. That’s not mine.)

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now playing. (3)

OBSESSIONS.

That’s what I’m calling this edition of now playing.
(Subtitled: I don’t want to do all the stuff that I really need to do.)

First: Frank Ticheli’s Simple Gifts: Four Shaker Songs. I love this piece. For my conducting class we have to make a program for an imaginary band and my imaginary kids are playing this (among other things). It’s so great. The last movement is an arrangement of Simple Gifts, which is the quintessential hymn tune. This version is recorded by the Iowa State University Concert Band, so shout-out to my home state!

Second: Cups/When I’m Gone by Anna Kendrick. It’s from the movie Pitch Perfect (also obsessed) but this is the music video version and, no joke, I’ve been listening to it all day. And if I haven’t been listening to it, it’s been stuck in my head. It is a cover of another band, Lulu and the Lampshades (gotta give credit) but it’s great. Either way, I dig this song. It’s definitely one of those songs that’s going around the internet and will be forever. Brace yourselves.

Happy listening!!

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red velvet cake truffles.

A few things about my life right now:
I got contacts and am still getting used to them (aka I sometimes still try to adjust my glasses even though they aren’t there…normal).
I graduate in under 100 days.
I miss my cat.
I don’t have a Valentine. (that’s pretty normal.)
I introduced two of my friends to Downton Abbey and we can’t stop watching it.
(SPOILER) I finished Season 3 of Downton Abbey and cried a lot.
I love Downton Abbey. (if you hadn’t guessed that)

Downton Valentine

So, it’s Valentine’s Day, right? I hate Valentine’s Day. I’ve been single a lot more often than not. Here’s the two stories of my two awkward Valentine’s Day experiences:
1. My senior year of high school my boyfriend planned a huge surprise for me. So we went to this fancy Italian restaurant at around 3 in the afternoon because that was the only time he could get a reservation. The food was delicious and we spent awhile walking around the town where the restaurant was. Then we went to the most romantic movie we could; Paul Blart Mall Cop. What a romantic choice, right? Oh well. Life goes on.
2. Sophomore year of college my boyfriend (different boyfriend) planned this huge surprise for Valentine’s Day weekend and didn’t tell me about it until the day it was planned for. Turns out he got tickets for an Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith concert in Chicago. Talk about the most Christian date ever. It was a really fun evening and way better than Paul Blart Mall Cop so I guess that’s a bonus right?

So there’s that. My life…I just don’t even know sometimes.

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Anyway, I made truffles. Red velvet truffles. Because it’s Valentine’s and it’s all about love and who doesn’t love cake? These are a lot like cake batter truffles but altered a little bit. These are very rich and super delicious. They’re really easy to throw together and they make people really happy. They’re also a really good Downton Abbey watching snack.

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Make some truffles, give someone a hug, eat some candy, watch Downton Abbey, smile some more.

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Happy Valentine’s Day!!

Red Velvet Truffles
adapted from Cake Batter Truffles

makes about 30 truffles

for the truffles:

1 and 1/2 cups flour

1 cup red velvet cake mix

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/8 teaspoon salt

6-7 Tablespoons milk

for the coating:

16 oz almond bark or vanilla flavored melting chocolate

sprinkles for topping

To make the truffles: Line a cookie sheet with wax paper and set aside. In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until smooth (about 2 minutes). Add in the vanilla, salt, flour, and cake mix. Mix together with a spatula or the electric mixer on low. This will look really not mixed. Add in the milk a couple tablespoons at a time and continue to mix until everything gets incorporated. The mixture should be dense and stick together really well. If you add to much milk it gets sticky, so be careful. Roll the truffles into 1 inch to 1 and 1/2 inch balls and place on the prepared cookie sheet. Continue doing this until all the dough is used. Chill in the fridge for 15-20 minutes or until firm. When firm dip in the topping.
To make the topping: melt the almond bark according to the directions. Usually 30 seconds in the microwave (in a microwave safe bowl!) at a time, stirring in between each time interval. Dip each truffle in the chocolate with a fork and tap on the side of the bowl to remove the excess. Place the truffle back on the cookie sheet and top with sprinkles before the chocolate hardens. Repeat for all the truffles.

Store these in the fridge on the cookie sheet until they’re all set and then store in an airtight container or plastic sandwich bag for 2-3 days.

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still hanging on.

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I’m here! I promise I’m still alive! It’s been a crazy few months in my life recently and I haven’t found any time for recipe making or baking of anything. I’ll just catch you up on everything pretty quickly:

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First major thing of the semester was my senior recital. But before that I had to do a pre-recital hearing to make sure that I could actually do my recital. I was more terrified for that than anything else about my recital. And, in my opinion, it did not go well. Granted, I am my worst critic and I always make everything worse than it is, but it was not good. Thanks to a generous panel and a very encouraging accompanist I passed my hearing (PRAISE GOD) and went on to do my recital. My accompanist, Dr. Anderson, was the best. He’s one of our piano faculty and I did not deserve him. He played the Strauss better than I could have ever imagined, and he kept me sane through the whole thing.

734892_10151320352141839_2022480007_nMy dad’s parents came down from Michigan (aren’t they adorable?!),my mom’s parents came over with my parents, and a bunch of my aunts and uncles came so it was a big party. When I figure out how to edit things, I’ll post some audio and give you the opportunity to hear some of the more stellar parts of the recital. I’m so relieved it’s over and I had so much fun. I’m so blessed with great faculty that came and cheered and prayed for me. So blessed by them.

The other big thing that happened already this semester was a thing called Band Winter Showcase that the marching band puts on every year. My friend Zach and I were pretty much in charge of the whole thing, making sure people showed up, writing music (which Zach pretty much did by himself), organizing, getting everything ready, etc. But the show went spectacularly! It was a blast. Feel free to watch here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJYXeOUzwMo (Part 1)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pA_n8taLWk0 (Part 2)

793898_10151487727908561_1049568112_oThis picture is from the large group act affectionately called “The Dragon”. I got to conduct this piece and it was so much fun. I loved it. (Picture courtesy of my friend Cymone who is spectacular at art and stuff. Check out her fliker here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pretzelday/ )

So that’s pretty much what my life has been for the last couple months. One thing right after the other. Right now I’m in the process of getting back to normal and catching up on all the homework I didn’t do…you know. Just college.

I did make an apple crisp for the first time last weekend. It was surprisingly delicious. And it helped me think of an idea to bake this weekend. I may have been writing ingredient lists in my night class the other day. I feel no shame. Hopefully I can share my idea with you this weekend, but right now I gotta go work on Jazz Theory homework (did I tell you I got the highest grade in that class last semester!? I still don’t believe it…). Extended dominants, here I come!

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getting back in the kitchen.

Well, hey there everyone. I’ve been absent for a little while (and by little while I mean about 3 weeks…). Once we got back to school from Thanksgiving Break everything got super crazy. Every year we do a performance of Handel’s Messiah and rehearsals for that started right away. The next week we had rehearsals for our annual Sounds of the Season concert. And then the next week we had finals. So…there was no time for anything except studying and practicing and rehearsing. But that’s a normal week, so I guess there’s more reasons than that for not writing or baking in a while.

It’s so weird to think that I only have one semester of college left. Not only weird but terrifying. I don’t know how to be an adult or live in the ‘real world.’ I guess that’s kind of a learn-on-the-go type thing huh. That’s what cookies are for.

Thankfully being at home and not having homework to worry about (just practicing for a recital coming up pretty quickly…) gives me more time to bake things. Also thankfully, my mom has a whole list of things to bake for cookie trays and family gatherings. Most of which are family recipes that have been around forever. We’ve already made a ton of pretzel chocolate treats, candied nuts, pecan tassies, and this morning I whipped up the dough for candy cane cookies. That, my friends, are a sacred recipe. And my favorite Christmas cookie. I am terrible at making them look like candy canes, but my mom is the master. I’m the master at eating them. Not even kidding.

So, the real reason for this post is to tell you that I’m baking soon. Promise. Until then; don’t forget to love the people around you. And play in the snow if you have some.

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things to be thankful for.

I hope you are having a wonderful day today. Enjoy your family. Eat too much food (pie).

I made a list. I love lists.

Things I’m thankful for:
Family
Faith
Friends
Home
My cat
My dog
Food
Talents
Music
Yarn
Cookies
Professors
School
Chocolate
Clean laundry
Comfy recliners
Love

[Pictures: Top – Em, Me, B. Arkansas 2011. Right – Martha, Me, B, Em. Chicago this fall. Best friends. Love them.]

Happy Thanksgiving!!

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pre-Christmas goodies.

Thanksgiving is quickly approaching which means lots of things. I get to go home on Tuesday. The yearly eye doctor appointment is coming up. I get to go to the yarn store. Green bean casserole. Mashed potatoes. Chocolate chip pecan pie. And, at work, we decorate for Christmas. We always decorate the music building the Sunday before we leave for Thanksgiving break. (I know you aren’t supposed to decorate for Christmas until after Thanksgiving is over, but it’s the best time to do it.) I’m in charge of snackage. Always.

Last year I went way overboard with food and we had way too much. I toned it down this year and made a few things. Somehow I still managed to spend all day on Saturday baking. Oh well. I (not so) secretly love it.

This year I made:
Red Velvet Cookies with White Chocolate Chips
Sugar Cut-Out Cookies with Homemade Frosting
Pretzel Kiss Thing
Peppermint Bark
Oreos Dipped in White Chocolate and Crushed Peppermint

Some of these things are not so complicated to make. Example: dip oreos in melted almond bark and dip in crushed candy canes. Put on wax paper and let harden in fridge. Easy as pie. Heck, easier than pie. Peppermint bark is also super easy. Melt almond bark and stir in crushed up candy canes. Spread on wax paper and harden in fridge. You can jazz it up a bit by doing a layer of dark chocolate first, but it’s good either way. If you add more chocolate that means we can be friends.

I wish I had a picture of the pretzel things I want you to make. But…they all got eaten. They’re really popular. They’re also super easy though. And the perfect balance of sweet and salty. Like trail mix but waaaaaaay better.

Make some goodies. Watch an entire season of Downton Abbey in one night. Decorate a tree. Be thankful.

Chocolate Pretzel Bites

makes as many as you want

Preztels

Chocolate kisses

Regular M&Ms (or peanut butter ones, I won’t be picky)

Preheat the oven to 150-200 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Spread pretzels out on the cookie sheet. Unwrap the chocolate kisses and put one kiss on each pretzel. (This is best done while watching a movie.) Put the sheet in the oven for about 2-3 minutes or until the kisses are melty. Test this by pressing one M&M into the kiss; if it sinks down all the way they’re ready. If not, leave them in the oven for a couple more seconds. It doesn’t take long. When the kisses are melty, remove from the oven and smush one M&M into each kiss. (Also, best done while watching a movie.) Chill in the fridge until firm. Eat by the handful.

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as I stand.

I’ve been absent for a little while. It’s been kind of a rough few weeks…scratch that. Rough semester. It’s my senior year and it seems like everything good that I expected to happen is going the exact opposite of how I planned and expected it to. A lot of these things I’ve come to deal with and move on from, but I had the final blow last week and it just left me feeling dejected and like I don’t really have a purpose anymore. It feels like all I do is homework and practice. I mean, that’s how it should be, but I feel like I’m not making progress. Like I’m just stuck.

This started before the school year even began. I figured I had a pretty good shot at making center podium drum major (we conduct the marching band and center is essentially the most important). The four of us auditioned for it with all the section leaders and they picked which one of us it would be. My friend Stephanie got it, which was really exciting for her. She hasn’t conducted before and to be honest I was surprised. After a short mourning period I decided that it would be okay for me to be on the side and help Stephanie out from where I was. All good. No hard feelings.

A few weeks after that we did ensemble auditions for our music department. Naturally I auditioned for orchestra and mostly expected things to be like they were last year; playing first part because the other oboe player mostly plays English Horn. However, this was not the case. And needless to say she and I aren’t the best of friends and this only made it worse because she kind of rubbed it in my face. It hurt. A lot. I challenged her and lost to her (which she also rubbed in my face a little) and that hurt even more. I lost a lot of desire for practicing after that. But after a few weeks I’ve decided the only thing I can do is kick butt at my recital and audition for the concerto competition and kick butt at that too.

All these things built up in me until last week when I totally stepped out of my comfort zone and got shot down. Not literally, but basically that’s what happened. I auditioned for our school’s show choir after two of my friends urged me to. Keep in mind, I don’t sing (in front of people) and I don’t dance. But I did it. And apparently it was pretty good. One of my friends, who was also the director, said it was pretty amazing. But when the email when out to those who made it, I was not one of them. It hurt. But really only because everything I’ve tried I’ve failed at. I lost it that day. I cried on my friend Zach for about 5 minutes. And then I cried on my roommate for about 20 minutes. Thank God for friends.

I trust that God is using these things for something. I can’t figure out what or why. I need prayer. And hugs. And ice cream. I’m trying to keep my head up. I keep thinking that this year can’t get any worse. Hopefully that’s true.

Sorry this is long. And ramble-y. Thank you for listening. Or reading? I’ll bake soon.

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