I’m fifteen for a moment, caught in between ten and twenty…

See the title of my post? Yup, the one right up there ↑. Those are the beginning lyrics of the song 100 years, by Five For Fighting (Did you know that the band’s name comes from the hockey penalty you get if you start beating up someone on the ice-five minutes for fighting? True story. And I’m so jealous that they totally stole the coolest band name ever). If I were REALLY annoying, I’d have the song start playing in the background while you’re reading this. Or I’d insert the youtube video that would immediately start playing. But since I’m only mildly-moderately annoying, I’m going to say go look it up. At least the lyrics. It’s a pretty song. Sad, but pretty. And since I shall be turning 16 years old in a few short days, I figured that those lyrics would only apply to me for a little while longer. So let’s reminisce on this past year, shall we? It’s been good and bad. Lost some friends, made some new ones, strengthened (at least tried to…) the friendships I’ve had for years and hope to have for years to come. Laughed a lot, cried a lot, but mainly just stood around with a blank and slightly confused look on my face. Enough reminiscing. I’m boring myself. Who wants to see my redone room?!?!?! If you say yes, I now dub you my best friend of the day. *dubs* Now, let’s see some pictures, shall we????

Warning, this might be a long post. And when I say long I mean LOOONNNGGG. Like 951 words long. Just a heads up, Daniel-san.

You can’t tell just by looking at this picture, but this piece of art (which just so happens to be one of my favorite pictures ever) is holographic. But what does that mean, Picco? That means it looks 3D. Oh yeah. 3D art and George Harrison. Does life get better? I didn’t think so, until I saw this: I believe the only words fitting enough to describe how I felt when I first saw this are: Holy.Guacamole. This lamp is the bomb diggity. I feel like Randy Jackson when I say that… and the best part is it came into my home broken, unloved and onsale (long story, but basically there was an extra part that my dad had to saw off) and we brought it back to life. *insert choir of angels singing hallelujah* The theme of my room is black, white and red. I’m going for an 80’s feel since the 80’s seemed pretty darn awesome. And I love the 40’s too. And now that I’ve gotten totally side tracked, back to my room.What’s better than an Elvis clock? Why, an Elvis clock with pendulum legs! Which is why his legs are so blurry. They were moving faster than Speedy Gonzales, the fastest mouse in all Mexico, and didn’t feel like stopping for the picture. And yes, that is a lava lamp on the left. It goes with the general theme of AWESOMNESS that can be found throughout the room.

And here’s the curtain covering my closet. The only way to make this interesting is to say I went hunting deep in the heart of Africa. There, I shot a zebra, skinned it with my bare hands, and with its pelt on my back, swam back to America. And once there, I sliced it wafer thin so it became a sheer. And that’s how to make saying I unzipped it from the package, threw it on a tension rod, and stuck it up interesting. I am a gifted story teller, no? You should all take notes. If you haven’t sat in a Fuf Beanbag chair, you have not lived. It is the most amazing and lovely thing I have ever purchased in my life. And when I say I, I do mean my parents. I went broke just buying the bedspread :( But I’m sitting in it right now and it’s wonderful. It really aids in my creativity. Ok, not really. I just said that because I didn’t know how to end the paragraph.

And now for fishy. As in hhhheeeEEERRRR FISHY FISHY FISHY.

My dad makes a mean barbeque salmon. Barbeque and salmon? Do those two words go together? I’ll cut to the chase-ooohhhh yeah they do. I wanted to have this on my birthday, but I couldn’t wait that long. So we had it tonight. And it makes the whole house smell like happiness for a long time afterwards. And fish. But mainly happiness. Everyone in my family ate it, even the picky eaters. Even my 2 year old brother was licking his plate. Literally. It was pretty dang hilarious. AND NOW, the reward you get for reading all the way to the bottom is….*drumroll please* the top-secret recipe for Barbeque Salmon. This is the part where you feel extremely honored and leave a comment saying how much you adore me. Hey, I’m just saying what I know you all are thinking.

Barbeque Salmon

For 2 salmon fillets

1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoon butter
2 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon honey
2 salmon fillets

Preheat the oven to 400F. Combine everything except the fillets (duh) in a saucepan, and cook down over low heat to make a sauce. In a pan, sear the salmon fillets in olive oil for 2 minutes, skin side up. Then put the fillets in an ovensafe dish, skin side down, and pour the sauce over the fish. Cook for 8-10 minutes. Devour.

This is a totally gluten-free recipe, EXCEPT for the soy sauce part. Most Japanese soy sauces are made with wheat, so make sure you use gluten-free soy sauce. Ok, I’m done rambling.

Gluten-free Butterbeer Cupcakes

As long as you don’t live under a rock, you’d know that today, July 15th 2011, is the day that the last Harry Potter movie came out. And if you do live under a rock, hey, I do too. But after 10 years and 8 movies, they’re all over. Boohoo. Actually I’m not too sad about it. I mean, I’m upset but…not… I kind of felt like they all went downhill after the 3rd movie. I mean, who was the hairstylist for the Goblet of Fire that thought that LONG hair on all the guys was ok…???? *ehem* Anyway. In memory of the end of an era, I decided to make *drumroll please* Butterbeer cupcakes! If you don’t know what butterbeer is, it’s pretty much the only thing the characters in Harry Potter drink. I’m not sure exactly what it’s supposed to taste like, but if it’s anything like these cupcakes, ummm, yum. I adapted the recipe from the Butterbeer Cupcake recipe off of Amy Bites, one of my new favorite blogs. The only real change I made was to make them gluten free. And, if I do say so myself, they were absolutely fantastic. Here are some actual phrases uttered by my family while they were eating the cupcakes: “Wow. These are amazing” “These are so dumb. For real.” “*indistinct baby chatter*…..BOB!” So, decrypting all that, I have concluded that everyone liked them as much as I did. If you want to recreate the epicness, here’s the recipe. Enjoy, you crazy Potter nerds. And if you’re not a crazy Potter nerd, I apologize for the name calling.

First off, get all your ingredients out before-hand.  That way you’ll make sure you have everything AND you’ll look like you’re on a cooking show. Well, I guess in order to look like a total cooking show, you’d need to have everything out in pre-measured bowls…which is why I hate cooking shows.

Really quick, I just wanted to talk a bit about making them gluten-free. I use a flour mix with 2 cups brown rice flour, 2/3 cup potato starch and 1/3 cup tapioca flour. This recipe only calls for 2 cups of flour, so I don’t know what you’d do with that other cup…but I usually just make up a bunch of it and use it in pretty much any recipe to replace regular flour. It tastes EXACTLY the same. It’s lovely. And yes, I’ve decided to stop saying amazing and awesome so much and switch to lovely. Audrey Hepburn says it and she sounds sophisticated. End of story.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake pans with liners, or grease them. Whatever floats your boat. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt (if you’re using unsalted butter). Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream your butter. Then add brown sugar and granulated sugar and beat until well blended.

Beat in your eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Quick fact, did you know you’re supposed to let your eggs sit out for a 1/2 hour before you use them in a recipe? If you did, wow, you’re weird… but it’s true. Apparently if they’re room temperature, they work better or something. Moving along… After you’ve beat in the eggs, add vanilla.

Alternate adding cream soda, buttermilk and the flour mixture until all are incorporated.

Look at these pictures now, they’re really not my best. I was in a rush and simultaneously making these cupcakes and spaghetti tacos for dinner. So they’re not as good as I’d like them to be. But live with it, ok?

Add the cupcake batter to your liners/greased cupcake tin…thingie…and fill 3/4 full. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool slightly, then transfer to wire rack.

For the butterscotch filling, melt butterscotch chips and cream in a double boiler, stirring until silky and smoove. Oh really fool? Cool to room temperature. (don’t worry, it will thicken up as it cools). Again, sorry for the slightly icky picture. The filling decided to come alive and start attacking the stove. And that’s the story I’m sticking with.

Fill a squeeze bottle (or in my case, a medicine syringe. It actually worked quite well. Don’t laugh) and insert into the center of each cupcake, squeezing until filling begins to overflow.

For the frosting, cream MORE butter. Then combine 1/3 cup of the butterscotch filling (you’ll have a lot left over. Save it and put it on ice cream. Or just chug it. Not that I was going to do both of those. At the same time, if possible…) and vanilla. Beat in powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time (I ended up using 1 1/2 cups total) until reaching desired consistency. If it gets too dry, add more milk or cream. Frost cupcakes and top with a drizzle of the butterscotch filling. And tada, you have butterbeer cupcakes. Enjoy.

Oh, and don’t forget to drink lots of cream soda. It’s quite lovely.

Butterbeer Cupcakes

Makes 18 lovely cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
2 cups flour (if using the brown rice flour mix, also add 1 teaspoon xanthan gum)
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt (if using unsalted butter. If you’re using salted, skip this)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk, please google. I’m tired and don’t feel like putting up how to make it…)
1/2 cream soda

For the butterscotch filling:
1 11-oz. package butterscotch chips
1/2 pint heavy cream

For the buttercream frosting:
1/2 stick unsalted butter (again, if you’re using salted, skip the salt. Don’t ever use salt and salted butter. It’s like goofing up baking soda and baking powder. You make that mistake once.)
1/3 cup butterscotch filling
1 teaspoon vanilla
about 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Milk or cream (as needed)

For the cupcakes-Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line or grease cupcake tin. Combine flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, cream butter then add sugars. Beat until well-combined. Add in the eggs, one at a time, and mixing well after each addition. Then mix in vanilla.

Alternate adding cream soda, buttermilk and flour mixture until all are well mixed. Pour batter into cupcake tin, filling each spot until 3/4 full. Bake for 15-17 minutes until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool briefly and transfer to wire rack.

For butterscotch filling– In a double boiler, melt butterscotch chips and heavy cream, stirring until smooth and totally combined. Cool to room temperature. Fill a squeeze bottle with the filling and insert into the center of cooled cupcakes, squeezing until the filling starts to overflow.

For buttercream frosting– Cream butter, then add 1/3 cup butterscotch filling, vanilla and salt. Mix until well combined. Beat in powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, until reaching desired consistency. Add milk or cream if the frosting gets too dry. Frost each cupcake and top with a drizzle of butterscotch filling.

Marooned on desert island? No worries! There will be gummy worms.

First off, who likes the new set up of the blog? No honestly, who likes it? I can take criticism. Usually. Anyone….??? Don’t make me take a survey…… you leave me no choice. That’s it. I am setting up a poll. Partially because I’ve been looking for an excuse to use one since I started this blog back in January, but also because I would like some feedback. Ok, it’s mainly because I just want to make a poll :)

Now that that’s out of the way, it’s pointless story time with Picco! I was reading a friend’s blog yesterday and she had a post about 5 things she’d take if she were stuck on a desert island. And honestly, until she put that obviously the first, logical choice would be to have a boat with a crew, I realized I had never thought about that. Whenever someone asks what I’d bring, I usually say either sour gummy worms or a tv so I could watch Newsies. Then I kind of felt a little stupid. And I asked myself if I was really worthy of being a junior in highschool in the fall. And then I decided to totally steal her idea. Oops.

5 things I’d bring if I were stuck on a desert island

Numbah 1: Food

I’m sorry, but I need my sour gummy worms. YOU CAN’T TAKE THEM AWAY FROM ME!!!!!!! True story.

#2: CD

My most favorite CD by my most favorite band in the entire universe. Or galaxy. Whichever’s bigger. And the drummer (Alexander Noyes, the dude on the far right) is really cute :) Doesn’t get better than that.

Numero Tres: Book

This is hands down my favorite book in the entire world. Everyone I’ve talked to about it hasn’t liked it, so I’m forced to keep my love for it to myself. And if I can’t have this book, then I’d settle for From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Anything but dora the explorer visits her abuela. I’ve had to read that book, no joke, at least 10+ times today to my little brother. *shudder* That book is the thing of my nightmares.

Numb3r 4 (see what I did with the 3 there? Yeah, I thought it was cool too until I actually typed it out…): Clothes

Personally, I’d settle for any/all of these. I mean, just because I’m on a desert island doesn’t mean I can’t look…interesting.

Five: A lobotomy with some creative person’s brain to replace mine, so I can do this-Well I guess I wouldn’t *bring* a lobotomy. But I’d make sure to have the procedure and recover before I get stranded, for whatever reason, on a desert island. And knowing me, that might be in my near future…

So my question for you, my wonderful readers and commenters, is…

What 5 things would you bring to a desert island?

My big fat Greek meatball

Guess where I went the other day? And no, it wasn’t Narnia. The gym! *this is the part where you get really, super impressed*. Yes, the actual gym. The place of exercise. I know, I was pretty shocked too. And you want to know what’s even more impressive? The fact that I ran 2 miles and walked 1. And when I say “ran”, I use that term very loosely. My mile is 14:54. Is that totally lame? Yes. Do I care? Nope. But I really do feel sorry for the poor guy on the treadmill next to me who had to endure my flailing limbs, beet-red face and overall out-of-shape-ness. I was so out of it afterwards, when I went to the front desk to sign up for classes…it didn’t go too well. Actually, considering how quiet I can be and how I have to usually think of what I’m going to say before I say it, it went pretty well. I tried to say “Hi, can I sign up for some classes?”, but it came out ASDF;LKJS9238&#hWimR(3oiDej@#904$9. No seriously, I’m pretty sure I was using numbers and such. Finally, after much stuttering and general stupidness, I got the point across that I wanted to start up the kickboxing class again. Somehow. It was all a daze. The woman asked me for my first name and it took me a second to think of it. Anyway. Moral of the story? I can’t check “get social skills” off my list of things to do quite yet.

And now for a random change of subject, brought to you today by Piccola Italiana, the letter D and food.Ever since I first watched My Big Fat Greek Wedding a few weeks ago,  I’ve been craving Greek food. Falafel, baklava, anything. We were supposed to get gyros for lunch today, but I don’t really know what happened to that plan… so the other day, I decided to ditch Italian food and make Greek meatballs with tzatziki sauce (I’m still not entirely sure how to pronounce that. Tazeekee? Oh well. Moving on.). And they were kind of amazing. And by kind of I mean TOTALLY.I love meat. Really, I do. But meat doesn’t quite love me back. No matter how long I cook it, it will still be uncooked in the middle. These meatballs were almost dried up and burnt and were still pink on the inside. Needless to say, I was angry. But I quickly got over my anger and the meatballs and I made up. We are very close friends now. Well, we were- until I ate pretty much all of them. Kind of put an awkward strain on our friendship.

After reading 10+ Greek meatball recipes, I combined all the good parts from them and improvised the recipe. Same goes for the tzatziki sauce. Although it’s kind of hard to mess with a recipe that is almost universally yogurt, cucumbers and herbs…

Greek Meatballs

1 pound ground beef (if you’re going to be “legitimate”, use lamb. But since I shockingly didn’t have any lamb handy, I used beef. And if you’re going to be healthy, use ground turkey. So many options…)
1/4 onion, minced
1-2 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon fresh cilantro
Dash salt & pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil

Mix all ingredients except olive oil until well combined. Form 12-ish meatballs from mixture. Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Sear meatballs on all sides, then reduce heat to medium and cover skillet. Continue to cook until meatballs are cooked through and centers are no longer pink. If you’re like me, it might take a while/they’ll never be totally cooked.

Tzatziki Sauce

8 oz. plain Greek yogurt
1/2 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh cilantro, chopped
Dash salt

Combine all ingredients and serve with meatballs.

Don’t rain on my parade. Literally.

Before you ask, no, I didn’t forget about my lovely blog and my even more lovely readers (although I’m not even sure what the point of this blog is anymore…hmmm…).Every time I want to write something, I can never think of anything that is funny and/or won’t bore everyone to tears. So here I am. Possibly boring you to tears, but oh well. It’s not my fault you’re still reading… ;)

For the past couple of days, there’s been a huge fair thingie in downtown St. Louis. There’s been food and parades and food and air shows and concerts and food and more food. Pretty awesome, huh? But wait, it gets better. And no, shockingly, the better-ness doesn’t involve food. Tonight at 8pm, Maroon 5 was playing. MAROON 5. AWESOME BAND. FREE CONCERT. ADAM LEVINE. LISTENING TO MUSIC WHILE EATING FOOD. Ok, maybe food is slightly involved.

Maroon 5 is one of my favorite bands ever, but there were a few problems. 1) it was like a gajillion degrees outside. And I’m barely exaggerating. 2) I wasn’t in a leave-the-house kind of mood. 3) I’m pretty sure the only person I know who knows and likes Maroon 5 is my friend Muriel. Unfortunately, this friend just so happens to be at a camp in Ecuador right now, 4000 miles away.  And since I’m pretty sure neither of my parents would really have wanted to go, I didn’t go. Oh yeah, and 4), it was raining like there’s no tomorrow. Seriously, I almost thought it was God flooding the earth all over again. So instead of leaving the house, getting rained on and being surrounded by hundreds of annoying people, I finished redoing my room!

I’ll put up more pictures tomorrow, but I just wanted to show you the lyrics I stenciled above my bed.  Long story short, I couldn’t just paint over the stencils. I had to pencil in the letters and then HAND PAINT THEM. BY HAND. Wow, I’m in a caps lock mood today….  anyway, point of the story is it took me hours to do. But it looks pretty cool, no?These lyrics are the chorus of my favorite song in the entire world-On The Brightside by Never Shout Never. It’s one of those songs that I could (and usually do) put on repeat and just listen to forever. And it’s a good self esteem booster. And heaven knows I could use more self-esteem….

Once they were done and I stepped back to admire my handy work, I noticed they were a little lopsided. But hey, I’m a little lopsided too. I..uhh…wanted my artwork to reflect my personality…yeah…something like that. OR, I was too lazy to draw a straight line and follow it, so my lines would be normal-looking. Eh. I’ve heard it both ways.