Friday, December 2, 2011

Home Improvements

We were busy getting the house spic-n-span by our self imposed Thanksgiving deadline so it would look lovely for our guests!  Here are several before & after shots (I also realize I need to work on my photography skills...)

New paint (same but different color)!  Old color was way faded and crackily all over :(  See after to the left and before on the right.

Leave it to an engineer to arrange with perfection...

Our favorite wedding photos and "W" I found at a garage sale!

We bought this "Crate & Barrel" beauty on Craigslist for $150

Apparently the previous owners have never used coasters #waterringsallover

After ~10 layers of sanding, 1 coat of stain & 3 layers of varnish - no more water rings!

Now all my cookbooks fit!

I used the leftover river rocks from my wedding to make this...

Turns out we need a bigger one for our company :P

For just Andrew and I it will do :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Homemade Pasta

I finally used our Kitchen Aid pasta attachment - and I made a mess!  There are several things that I learned from this process that I will modify when I do this next time.  First of all, I think the eggs would have been better incorporated had they been at room temperature (I used straight-from-the-fridge-cold eggs).  The process of kneading and flattening the noodles went great, and then I put the flat noodles through the spaghetti cutter aannnnnnd MUSH came out!  Secondly, I should have used "double-zero" flour like Court5203 suggested.  Ultimately, I made fettuccine noodles buuuut they clumped together in the pot.  Thirdly, I should have used more flour to make the noodle "nests" before I froze them.  All-in-all, the dish turned out great.  The dessert turned out even better though...*drum roll* Cappuccino Fudge Cheesecake! No - pictures will not do this cake justice.  Best-cheesecake-ever.  I have witnesses to back me up. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Weekly Menu

Recent Wooster certified top-rated recipe Ginger Glazed Mahi Mahi - yum & easy!

My close college friends Rob & Lisa who recently moved to Austin invited us over for a fall dinner party last weekend.  I contributed a Pear+Craisin+Candied-Walnut Spinach Salad and Bloomin' Onion Bread (OMG this is so good I literally could eat the whole loaf).  I also chefed-up the best risotto I've yet to find, from Cooks Illustrated (March 2007) - Butternut Squash Risotto.  The time that it takes to make this risotto is WELL worth it!  Andrew shared his favorite fall>winter beer, Affligem Noël Christmas Ale.  Rob served us a slow roasted Beer Chicken & Homemade Apple Pie.  Wow, what a great night of food, friends, & delicious drinks!

My goal for this week is to host Rob & Lisa for homemade pasta so I can finally put to use my Kitchen Aid Mixer Pasta Attachment. 

I hope mine turns out this pretty

Otherwise, this week I'm serving up hamburgers & sweet potato fries, blue cheese stuffed chicken with Buffalo sauce (Cooking Light, March 2010), and masala salmon with basmati pea rice.  

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Halloween - Homemade Kermit Costume

We had a great+fun Halloween!  First of all, I made Pumpkin Nutella Bread, which Andrew loved (my palate just doesn't know what to do with pumpkin AND chocolate). 

I was happy to carry on my family tradition of making AWESOME homemade Halloween costumes.  We grew up wearing homemade Halloween costumes.  My mom would take us to the fabric store and my brother and I would sift through the large pattern books to pick out our Halloween costumes.  We were always the "talk of the neighborhood" on trick-or-treat night.  This year was no exception for Andrew and me on 6th Street - Downtown Austin.  Kermit & Miss Piggy were the talk of the town.  

It all started with a spandex body suit

I used Andrew's bike helmet for the base of Kermit's head

I traced cardboard to fit on the bike helmet for Kermit's mouth, then wrapped an old green t-shirt around the bike helmet.  I glued the t-shirt to the cardboard, and then tied the leftover t-shirt in the back with a rubber band.


Next, I glued felt around the cardboard for Kermit's mouth.  From this point on, there was a lot of trying on, marking with Sharpe, cutting while trying on to get the mouth just-right. 

Then, we glued on a pink felt tongue and cut out eye holes.  The eye holes ended up being right where the fold of the felt was in Kermit's mouth! 

To finish it off, I just hand cinched and stitched around the gathered leftover t-shirt in the back and folded it under for a clean look. 

Kermit wouldn't be Kermit without his classic collar (collar from the green t-shirt used earlier & felt) and buggy eyes (stryofoam balls cut in half) - the finishing touches!


As for Miss Piggy - well, she was not homemade.  We ordered the wig, nose, & white gloves online.  I found the dress at Goodwill for $8 and wore my classy pearls.  I never pass up a reason to wear false eye lashes, also! 

Our first time dressing as a couple, popularizing the much anticipated release of The Muppets, and reliving my favorite childhood characters made for the best Halloween yet!!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Bring Back the Drought!

Remember that time that the 1/2 marathon that I had been training for since June got cancelled without a refund or make-up date?  I DO!  So did my sweet hubby. 

Get this:  Andrew was so thoughtful that he planned out a "replacement race" for my running-group of girls and I so that we would get our fun & run (AND most importantly chocolate and champagne at the finish line).  Since the 1/2 marathon was cancelled due to rain, he appropriately named the race "Bring Back the Drought 5K" (we did 5K so all the girls who were running 1/2 & 5K could participate). 

We had a blast running the trails of Wells Branch and I shaved 1:15 off of my pace.  I even finished in 3rd place! (out of 3 people :P).  And we proudly enjoyed our well deserved chocolate & champagne after the race.

I even got a medal!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Weekly Menu

We went camping last weekend and had a blast with old friends & new!  We camped out at Pace Bend Park on Lake Travis.  Even though the lake is a whopping 35 feet below average level (!!!) I was able to do some kayaking.

very dry Lake Travis


Smokey made some friends:  Leo & Mia (sleeping with her tongue sticking out)

Smokey & Andrew in front of our homestead

Andrew is in full marathon training mode (we now have a separate budget to cover his food intake over the next several months) and he stuck to his training program running 9 miles, while I ran 6 miles.  I brought along my famous beer bread (Cooking Light, November 2008) and a newly discovered brownie (King Arthur Flour) to share.  Another culinary treat I enjoyed this weekend *drum roll*:  s'mores made with Reese's PB cups (in place of Hershey's chocolate, of course)!

On our menu for this week:

Poached Salmon (Cooks Illustrated, May 2008) with Quinoa & Roasted Broccoli (Cooks Illustrated, January 2008)

Chicken & Cheese Quesadillas with Homemade Guac

Herb Crusted Tilapia with Roasted Zuchinni & Garlicky-lemony Noodles

Ginger Glazed Mahi Mahi with Quinoa & Steamed Broccoli

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Weekly Menu

I've made some great dishes the past few weeks.  I find LOTS of recipes on Pinterest these days...I think it's the pictures that make me drool, then leading me to cook ;)

Parmesan Crusted Tilapia

Avacado Fries

Roasted Red Pepper Pesto

Baked NYC Brownies

Oh yeah, I'm addicted to chai tea.  Here's the recipe to the concentrate I make with the spices I got from India.  SO easy. Drink it hot or cold (depending on the funky weather here in TX)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Back to Blogging

No "Wooster Roost" updates?  Where have I been for the past month?  Did you miss me?

  • Traveled to India and back!
  • Made wedding albums!
  • Training for a 1/2 Marathon!
  • Smokey got a rash :(
  • Musical amazing-ness at Austin City Limits festival with Rob, Lisa, Sara, Vijay and the Kelly's!
  • Andrew's 10 year high school reunion in Clarksville!
  • Dustin & Kylie's wedding in Nashville! 
  • Organizing & cleaning the house! 
  • Officially changed my last name to Wooster!

    Sunday, October 2, 2011

    India! Week 2

    Week 2!  After Jack & Diya's beautiful Indian wedding, Andrew and I went on our "second honeymoon"!  We say this because we actually took a shorter honeymoon after our wedding than we would have if we did not plan our two week Indian adventure.  Sooo, we wanted to make the second week of the Indian adventure more romantic and relaxing that the first week of touring and wedding fun. 

    We took a short flight to Kochin and then a LONG 4 hour car drive up the mountains through tea and spice plantations to Thekkady.  The climate here was much more cool (in the 60's - and nope, I didn't pack enough cold weather clothes!) and the landscape was lush green.  We stayed 3 nights in an eco-tourist resort.  There was no internet or TV.  How refreshing it was to know we could go 3 days without being connected to the rest of the world!  We spent much time sleeping, reading, and relaxing.  We enjoyed some of the best Indian food we've ever eaten at our resort here in Thekkady.  The resort grew much of their own spices and produce - we could taste the freshness!  Did I mention that I made paper and we rode an elephant?!?

    Porch of our villa

    Paper Making!

    After our stay in the northern part of Kerela, we drove 5 hours to the coastal town of Kovalam.  The beaches of Kovalam are a popular tourist destination for Indians and specifically Indian honeymooners.  We happened to visit at the low tourist season:  the plus side - our resort was not at all crowded, the minus side - we did not actually spend that much time on the beach or swim in the Arabian Sea.  In Kovalam, we spent much time eating, shopping, & relaxing in the pool.  I loved listening to and watching the waves explode against the jagged, rocky coastline.  We took a day trip to ventrure out to Periyar National Forest & Tiger Reserve where we took a boat ride to observe wild animals.  Although we did not spot the coveted site of a tiger, we saw wild elephants, boars, deer-type animals and lots of birds.  

    View from the coast looking at our resort nestled in the palm trees (there's a little lagoon between the resort & the sea)
    View from the coast looking out to the Arabian Sea
    Lake Periyar boat ride

    Touching the Arabian Sea

    Enjoying our best meal in Kovalam - spicy tomato aperitif drink (pictured) and fresh red snapper grilled on a mango wood plank with roasted veggies - words can not do this meal justice.

    Just to say I did it, I had a "Big Spicy McPaneer Wrap" at McDonald's.  Ewh - it tasted like greasy, fried, artery clogging American McDonald's.  That's one thing I surely did not miss about America.

    Lessons Learned in India
    1.  We Americans take our cleanliness for granted.  Pretty much, there is no form of waste disposal in the areas of India we visited.  Trash just piles up in the street, between buildings, wherever it falls.  
    2.  That being said, one minute you can be dodging a huge trash mound, then then next turn around to walk into a gorgeous five star hotel.  India is a very diverse environmentally, as well as socioeconomically.  Servants, maids, and drivers are common in the upper/middle class households.  We were told that given our careers in the US, we could live a very luxurious lifestyle if we were to move to India performing the same jobs. 
    3.  Space is very limited.  Very crowded and congested.  The big cities of Dehli & Mumbai were loud and busy (similar to NYC I suppose).  They know how to pack a lot of people into small spaces and there are the smells to prove it.  

    All-in-all, our India adventure was the trip of a lifetime!  We would not have traded going to the beautiful India wedding of Jack & Diya for the world.  We learned more about the world and the India culture than we realize, and are blessed to share this experience with our friends and each other!

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011


    After 39 hours of traveling, we arrived home on Sunday morning from our 2 week adventure in India!  The main purpose of the trip was to attend the wedding of Jack and Diya - our friends from Austin.  Around the wedding, we did lots of sight seeing the first week and a "second honeymoon" the second week. 
    Bon voyage Austin!

    Week 1 - we flew in to Dehli, the capital of India.  The 14 hour flight really wasn't THAT bad - maybe it was built up as horrible from my friends' experiences, maybe it was the goodie bag that my mom prepared Andrew and I that kept us entertained ;)  In India, it's common to have a driver to drive yourself around town and between towns (after witnessing the traffic & driving habits, we Westerners simply CAN NOT drive in India, trust me).  So, the first two days our driver drove us (14 friends from USA) around to several different mosques, monuments, gardens, shopping & restaurants.  My favorite experience from Dehli was a rickshaw ride through a market that sells everything from fresh veggies to wedding supplies to clothing and jewelry.  VERY crowded and energetic.  I guess it was their Wal-Mart :

    Note the electrical nightmare

    Selling Marigolds!

    We drank lots of yummy tea
    The beer was not so good :(
    The next two days were spent driving to/from and touring Agra, where the Taj Mahal is located.  I understand why it is considered a "New Seven Wonders of the World" - truly magnificent and intricate.  We got there at 6am, right when the gates opened to capture photos (or as our tour guide said "make pictures") of the beautiful mausoleum.  Now it's time for wedding fun!!!

    We took a domestic flight (think Southwest style) to Mumbai where we had non-stop from from Wednesday night until Sunday morning.  On Thursday, separately, the guys and girls went shopping for Indian clothes to wear to the wedding.  The guys actually had a lot of fun and were finished in a couple of hours.  I was stressed by the style of shopping in India, where they would just pull folded clothes in individually wrapped plastic bags off of the shelves and fling them in front of you.  I felt under pressure to try stuff on I didn't like and the stores were super busy.  I ended up getting a beautiful sari, that I am really happy with.  It came with a custom tailored top and under skirt.  Diya arranged for a lady to put it on me - she did a great job.  Now if I'm going to wear it back in the U.S., Andrew will have to learn to put it on me.   Some of the girls got mani/pedis and I got a facial (ask me about it later - whoa).  Treatments are super cheap (~$15 for mani/pedi & ~$30 for my facial) and good quality.  That night we went to a couple of clubs in Mumbai with all of the "kids" (cousins, family friends, & U.S. friends).  Pretty much felt like we were in the U.S. when we were at the bars - same drinks (alcohol is really expensive over there), same music (seriously). 
    so tired
    Friday was the mehndi and the sangeet.  The mehndi is a girl party where the women honor the bride & get henna drawn on their hands.  Diya had hers done the day before because it took ~6 hours to put on & ~4 hours to dry.  Mine took ~20 minutes to put on & ~2 hours to dry (Andrew had to feed me lunch so as to not ruin the artwork, hehe).  That night was the sangeet which is basically a dance party.  Also the family performed skits (dances, singing) for the bride & groom.  It was super fun, as the U.S. friends were the life of the party.  Diya said that the family members were intimated to dance because we were such good dancers - even Indian style dancers!!

    Andrew wearing a kurta and Becky in a sari at the sangeet.
    On Saturday, two different wedding ceremonies were performed.  First was the Telegu wedding from Jack's family.  That night was the bride's families Bengali wedding.  Both were similar but different.  Lots of chanting, flowers, colors, rituals, throwing of rice & flowers :)  Different from U.S. culture, the guests would start out watching the ceremony, then about 20 minutes in to it, everyone would start chatting, mingling, eating appetizers and drinking.  Since the ceremonies last 2-3 hours, I suppose that's why it's socially acceptable to do this.  We ate, drank & danced the night away to celebrate the newlyweds - Congratulations to The Jakkiki's!!!
    Telegu wedding

    Entrance to the event center

    Bengali wedding

    Next post will recap Week 2