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Italian Cookies

Rainbow Cookies1One of my favorite things to do while in New York is visit an Italian bakery to pick up some cookies. It’s impossible to find all my favorites in the south, so I couldn’t wait to create the tastiest, rainbow cookies, this year for Christmas. It was a two day process, but definitely well worth it. I followed this recipe and had great success. Brought me right back to NY!

 

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Baked Ziti

When planning the food for my shindig on Sunday we considered a few different options. We talked about catering a few dishes, but could not settle on a restaurant. Finally, two nights before the party, I convinced my mom that I could make some sort of pasta dish that would feed everyone. Luckily, we already planned out plenty of side dishes and other appetizers for people to munch on. Since I made lasagna for my family the previous week, baked ziti seemed like a good option. Basically, it’s the same technique as lasagna, but includes ziti pasta instead of lasagna sheets.

On Saturday I got to work making two trays with sausage and two trays that were vegetarian. First, I spread tomato sauce on the bottom of the pans. Next, layer the ziti and top with a mixture of ricotta, egg, and Italian herbs. Spread the cheese mixture evenly and add sauteed onions or sausage (depending on whether you want meat or not). Simply continuing alternating layers until the tray is full. Lastly, top it all off with some meltable cheese, such as mozzarella, asiago, and parmesan. I covered the trays with foil and baked them for about 45 minutes on 350, or until heated through. For the last few minutes of cooking, take off the foil and turn up the heat so that the cheese will bubble and brown. Enjoy!

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Graduation

College is officially over! I graduated last week and attended UGA’s ceremony, which really impressed me. The student speaker was really engaging, and Arthur Blank, the commencement speaker, had lots of great advice as well. I’m always impressed when someone  succeeds greatly regardless of his background. After the festivities at school, my family and I went to lunch at The Last Resort for the last time before packing up my things.

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Saturday consisted of spin class, running errands with my dad, and cooking for my graduation party taking place the next day. My parents and I debated whether or not to make everything, get it catered, or get a few already-prepared dishes. In the end, I decided I was up to the task and got to work making four trays of baked ziti (two with sausage, two vegetarian) as the main dish. I didn’t really have a recipe, so I’ll post my method tomorrow. We also had a cheese board (I love cheese tastings!), salad, veggies & hummus, fruit, smoked salmon, and more yummy party food.For dessert my mom got me a cake and surprised me with the picture on top. It was one of my favorite moments from this past summer.

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To go along with the cake I made slutty brownies and dipped pretzels into chocolate. Both were big hits! For the brownies I used a few different recipes to bring them all together. First I made chocolate chip cookie dough using my favorite Tollhouse recipe, then I whipped up this brownie batter.

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After spraying a large baking pan with cooking spray, lay down the cookie dough in a solid layer. Next, pour a small bit of the brownie batter on top (just enough to coat the cookie dough). Now create a layer of Oreos, and top with the remaining brownie batter. I popped it into a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes and they turned out way too good. Such a great dessert for any type of party.

I am truly blessed to have such wonderful friends and family to celebrate with. I don’t know what I would do without such a great support group.

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A New York Whirlwind

Last Thursday my dad and I woke up at 3:30 am to head to our 6:30 am flight to New York. I had some business to take care of, so it was a quick, productive trip. We arrived at our hotel on Long Island just before lunch and jumped aboard a train to go to the city. We met my Uncle and cousin for lunch at Co. and strolled around Chelsea Market for a bit. It’s decorated so beautifully for the holidays! Gosh, I miss that place!

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I had a meeting that afternoon at Columbus Circle, then looked at an apartment on the East Side. By the time we finished, it was pretty dark outside, so we met up with my cousin again to see the Rockefeller Tree. Oh my goodness, it’s dazzling! I hadn’t seen the tree in person since probably elementary school, so it was neat to go visit.

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Friday consisted of a 6 am wake-up call, then two more meetings. We managed to make it to Little Italy for a pound of Italian cookies to take home, then we ate congee in Chinatown. We were both extremely tired, so we felt a bit like zombies. But somehow we managed to stop by Herald Square on our way to Penn Station. First, we decided to look at Macy’s window display. Then, we went up to the 8th floor to see Santaland. We weren’t planning on seeing Santa, but we did!

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We let ourselves relax at the hotel on Saturday morning before our 1 pm flight. What a busy trip!

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