2013 is coming to a close tonight. Can you believe it? Although my year started out rough, this has probably been one of the best years of my life. I have gotten to do so many things: interview film stars, go to some great concerts, make some incredible new friends and eat some incredible food. If you follow me on Instagram, you know about most of these great moments. Here’s a quick look at some in case you missed them.
In April of this year, I did press coverage of the Dallas International Film Festival. It was probably the best two weeks of my life. I watched dozens of movies (for free!) and got to interview some outstanding talent. Above is my favorite picture from the festival that another writer took. The woman I am talking to is actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead. She’s laughing because I am telling her my 9 year old godson will only watch one of her movies with the commentary on.
I was actually lucky enough to meet a ton of people over the course of this year. Two of my favorite encounters were with The Hangover star Ken Jeong when I went to New York this summer, and Jerry Springer in early November.
This year has also been all about foodie adventures. The best meal I have had this year was at a place called Whiskey Cake. The first picture is of the amazing soup and sandwich I had there, before splitting their namesake whiskey cake and almost crying because of how delicious it was. The second picture is from a few weeks ago when my roommate and I almost got into a car accident because I screamed when we passed the Ben & Jerry’s store. She immediately whipped the car around so that I could try the Anchorman flavor that I could not find at the grocery store.
A big part of my year food-wise was joining The Leftovers Club. The club is a monthly nationwide food exchange. Each month I am paired up with yet another incredible cook and we exchange baked goods and other random creations through the mail. Although some of my inventions haven’t been that great, the best part about it is getting to meet (if only virtually) some amazing people that inspire me to be a better chef and a better person. Most of the other members are older. They have husbands and beautiful children and spend their days making some of the most delicious things I have ever tasted. Yet somehow, they all take time out to talk to me. They ask me about Chase, they send me tips when I can’t figure out a recipe, and they make me laugh on days when nothing in or out of the kitchen is going right. If you want to check out the blogs of some of the fantastic people I have gotten to know this year, here are some of their blogs.
Pineapple & Coconut
One of the most significant things that happened this year is when my Chocolate Covered Espresso Cookies I made for The Leftovers Club got published in the November issue of All You Magazine. If I have to be completely honest, I only entered because the prize was free Ben & Jerry’s stuff. So when a swag bag full of ice cream coupons came in the mail, I was in heaven. Then 7 months later, my mom was reading All You on her tablet when my face popped up. One of the things on my bucket list was to get something I wrote or photographed published, so it was a super huge deal.
There were so many things that happened this year that it would bore you to death to look at pictures of them all. At 23 years old, I learned to ride a bike. I bought my first car. I signed the lease to my first apartment. I went to some incredible concerts, spent tons of hours in a movie theatre, and laughed so hard that at times my ribs were sore for weeks. That last part is thanks in part to the new friends I met this year, one of which is the reason the recipe below exists.
Last month, one of my closest friends (and the person who gave me this on Christmas, if you’re keeping track) walked into work and asked me a simple question “Jalapenos or no jalapenos?” I had no idea what I was in for so I replied with, “Either.” “Jalapenos it is, then.” When I returned to my station something was wrapped in a napkin and taped shut. When I opened it, I saw this weird pastry looking thing, but it definitely smelled like meat. Having no idea what was to come, I bit it. It was one of the most delicious (and one of the spiciest) things I have ever put in my mouth. I instantly texted my friend, asking what this magic snack was called and where he had gotten it. The pastry is called hojaldre, and the response to the second part is that he made it with his dad. Yes. All the yes.
One of the favorite memories of the entire year didn’t include celebrities. It didn’t include concert-going (unless you include me dancing to the BeeGees in a kitchen as a show), and it didn’t include getting dressed up for yet another adventure. It was me in my sweatpants learning how to make hojaldre from a father and son that I feel so lucky to know. Therefore, my last post of the year will be teaching you this recipe that means so much to me.
Makes 12 pastries
What You Need:
- 1 & 1/2 packages Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets, thawed
- flour for dusting, rolling dough
- 9 oz. deli-style ham
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg, whisked
- 1/4 cup jalapenos, canned, diced, and drained
- 8 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
What To Do:
1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 F.
2. Empty the cheese into a large bowl and mix with two tablespoons flour. Empty the deli meat onto a large cutting board and chop into small pieces. Set aside.
3. Remove a pastry sheet from the box and generously flour both sides. Carefully unfold the sheet so it is completely flat and flour each side again. Set aside. Repeat this process with the other two sheets.
4. Take one sheet and roll the dough out until it is thin and roughly the dimensions of the baking sheet you are using. Using a sharp knife, cut off any dough that does not lay completely flat on the tray.
5. Crack the egg into a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Using a pastry brush, or a paintbrush if you are getting classy like we were, line the edges of the dough with egg. This will serve as an adhesive for the nest layer.
6. Sprinkle 1/2 the cheese in the space between the egg border. Top with half the ham, making sure to evenly distribute it. Top with half the jalapenos.
7. Sprinkle 1/3 of the sugar onto the ham and cheese layer. Set baking dish aside.
** When adding the next layer, it is easiest to gently fold it accordion-style and then lift it onto the bottom layer before unfolding. This makes it more difficult for it to break when you are laying it down**
8. Repeat steps 4 – 7 , pressing the edges of your new layer to the bottom in order to seal the dough.
9. Place your final pastry sheet onto the top, once again carefully sealing the edges. Brush the entire surface with egg. Generously sprinkle with the remaining sugar.
10. Bake for 40 minutes. Let the pastry cool (it has been so cold out in Texas that we took it outside) completely before you attempt to cut it.
11. Use a pizza cutter to cut the pastry into thirds longways. Turn the pan and slice these into fourths (to make 12).
12. While I enjoy eating hojaldre right out of the fridge because I am impatient, you can warm yours for 35 seconds in the microwave if you want a warmer snack.
13. Store leftovers in an airtight container and place in the fridge.