Looking Back on 2017

I’m not going to lie… 2017 wasn’t exactly my favorite year of all time. It was an exhausting year of school/clinical work. The news cycle was like 99.9993457245999% negative. And don’t even get me started on our “president.” We try to keep it positive around here – so we’ll move away from all of that. After all, this blog is our creative outlet and happy diversion!

So let’s focus on all the wonderful things that happened this year! For starters, we’ve successfully completed another year of school! (We graduate in 🎉 🎉 129 days, in case you want to count along with us… We’re not excited at all 😉) Ally’s sister, the last of the kids, graduated from UVA in May. We had great, albeit far too short, visits to Washington DC, Cleveland, Virginia, and a few spots around the state of South Carolina. (Selim also visited Seattle… Ally’s still a little bitter about being left behind.) We watched the total solar eclipse down here in Columbia, which was pretty awesome. We were happily able to attend quite a few weddings of friends and family. Selim grew his hair out, which was a big change for us all. And we had some great times with our friends down here in SC.


You know what else we did this past year…? We made a lot of delicious food! This past summer, on our one year blogiversary, we shared some statistics and favorites from the first year of the blog. We’re going to shift that round-up to the end of the calendar year from now on (long live the blog!), because of the way that WordPress keeps track of statistics – it makes way more sense this way!

Top Three Dishes of the Year: 

♥ Ally – Roasted Grape & Prosciutto FlatbreadRosemary Risotto with Asparagus, & Spinach & Feta Gözleme

♥ Selim – BaklavaSpicy Korean BBQ Tacos with Tangy Slaw, & Pumpkin Roll

Biggest (Good) Surprise: 

♥ Ally – Syrian Mini Meatballs (Dawood Basha)

♥ Selim – Kimchi Braised Chicken with Noodles & Spicy Feta Dip

Most Difficult Dish: 

♥ Ally – Pumpkin Roll

♥ Selim – Baklava

Dish I Want to Improve: 

♥ Ally – Pumpkin Roll

♥ Selim – Cacio e Pepe

Most Viewed Post: Bay Scallop Risotto

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Number of Culinary Bucket List Items Checked Off: 5, with additions to a few more

Cuisines Sampled: Turkish, Syrian, Mexican, Southern, Jewish, Bangladeshi, Italian, & French

Number of Followers: 30

Number of Unique Blog Visitors: 2,154

Location of Blog Visitors: US, UK, Canada, Australia, Romania, France, Namibia, Sweden, Switzerland, New Zealand, Netherlands, India, South Korea, Germany, Philippines, Ghana, Brazil, Italy, Turkey, Croatia, Spain, Vietnam, Hungary, Antigua & Barbuda, Greece, Singapore, Poland, Egypt, Ukraine, Bulgaria, South Africa, Morocco, Ireland, Belgium, Estonia, Malaysia, Czech Republic, Hong Kong, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Venezuela, Bahrain, Indonesia, and Qatar!!

2018 Blog Goals: 

  • Celebrate random food holidays
  • Make more Turkish recipes
  • Finally share Selim’s perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe 🍪🍪
  • Continue to work on our Culinary Bucket List
  • Improve our photography skills
  • Relatedly ⤴️, move into a place with a larger, more well-lit kitchen & a gas stove
  • Share more about our favorite wines
  • Use our blog Instagram more frequently (follow us @bonappetitbabyblog & #bonappetitbabyblog if you want to see incredibly infrequent Instagram posts)
  • Finish graduate school! 🥂🖤👩‍🎓👨‍🎓🎉🍾
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Hanukkah Feast 2017

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Today is the Friday of Hanukkah for 2017. We’re not Jewish, but always have thought that this blog was a great excuse to cook and sample foods from all of the world’s countries, cultures, and religions… Holidays just seem to be the logical place to start.

Selim loves Jewish food. He grew up in Cleveland, which has a melting pot of European immigrants and their descendants. Lucky for Clevelanders, that means that their city is full of a variety of delicious foods. I think he mostly loves Jewish food for it’s delicious desserts, but those are just a gateway. I’ve been working nights and off-shifts this month, meaning that there a quite a few days when Selim’s gone all day. Which has allowed me to cook all day and have quite the surprise waiting for him when he got home this afternoon! We usually do pizzas or something easy out of the freezer on Friday night, so I think tonight’s dinner will be quite the upgrade.

Check out what I’ve made:

Wine & Honey Brisket

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Potato Latkes

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Chocolate Rugelach

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Hope you enjoy! And…

Happy Hanukkah! 

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Friendsgiving 2017

“The best part of life is when your family become your friends and your friends become your family.”

I love that “Friendsgiving” is a thing now. I just learned that while obviously friends have been gathering for meals for a long time, “Friendsgiving” became a thing, marked by its entrance into the Urban Dictionary lexicon in 2008. The sentimental part of me, of course, loves our relationships with our friends. But let’s not lie… I also really like eating Thanksgiving dinner twice!

We’re so lucky that we found a new friend-family group to be a part of down here. Being in the challenging program that we’re in is hard enough, but these people (plus some missing from this picture!) make school and the distance from our families so much more bearable!

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Our contributions to the amazing, delicious Friendsgiving table were Dinner Rolls & Pretzel Bun Stuffing.

Our friends are also wonderful cooks, thank goodness. Their contributions:

Brandon – juicy smoked hens 🐔🐔

Nate & Karen – not-your-grandma’s green beans & decadent mashed potatoes

Matt & Sara – a flavorful, slow-cooked pork loin, gravy (my favorite part of any meal!), & white cheddar mac n cheese – not to mention, they host Friendsgiving each year!

Victoria – cranberry sauce & an entire basket of cookies

Cali – Gingerbread GIRL funfetti cake, decorated with gumdrops, M&Ms, & Skittles – pretty impressive for a kindergartner 💁🏼‍♀️

I didn’t take enough pictures, or very good ones…

Hope everyone else had as great of a Thanksgiving and/or Friendsgiving as we did!

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(And better than Garfield…)

 

How To Make Basic Pasta

We’re doing our best to keep up with one of our goals on our Culinary Bucket List, to never use store-bought pasta again. Obviously, this is a slightly tongue-in-cheek goal; sometimes you just don’t have the time to whip up homemade pasta. But, not going to lie, every time we make our own pasta, it just reconfirms how much we love it and moves us slightly closer to keeping up with that goal! We’ve shared a few recipes with homemade pasta so far – see, Pappardelle with Braised RaguCacio e Pepe, & Homemade Pasta Carbonara. With all of these, we’ve developed our standard recipe for pasta dough. We thought we’d share that here as it’s own recipe for ease of browsing! Over time and trial & error, we think this is the best way to create your basic pasta blank canvas. {This recipe makes between 2 and 4 servings – let me explain. We have a bad habit of making pasta and then inhaling it, leaving us over-full. So – 2 portions. If you have more restraint and/or do not wish to need to unbutton your pants after dinner – 4 portions. We’ve easily doubled this recipe in the past with the same results.}

Basic Pasta Recipe

(Our recipe is adapted & combined from several sources: The Cook’s Book400 Sauces, & KitchenAid’s insert that accompanied our pasta attachments.)
Ingredients: 
  • 1 1/3 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
Instructions:
  1. In a large bowl, stir the salt into the flour. Create a well or crater in the center.
  2. Crack two eggs into that center well/crater.
  3. Using a fork, slowly mix the egg into the flour. Try to keep the eggs within the crater, pulling in more and more flour. (If you fail, don’t worry, life will go on.)
  4. Once the egg is mixed into the flour and is beginning to resemble a cohesive dough, turn out onto a clean counter-top, and switch to using your hands. Fold together until well combined. [You made need an extra dusting of flour if the dough is wet and sticky, or to wet your hands if it’s a bit dry.]
  5. Continue kneading the dough, stretching and folding, for at least 5 and up to 10 minutes. By this point, the dough should be smoother and elastic, so that you can form into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap. Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes, and up to two hours.
  6. The type of pasta you want to make will dictate your next steps. Generally, you will likely cut the dough into smaller portions, flatten with a rolling pin or pasta roller, and then cut as desired.

 

One Year Blog-iversary

Selim is Salt Bae

Today is the one year anniversary of our very first blog post! Honestly, we’re pretty proud of ourselves for keeping it up! People are always asking how we have time to do this with our busy school and clinical schedule – honestly I don’t really know. I think the creative outlet has helped us, plus we both really like to eat and cook. This has been quite the adventure for us. It adds a little bit of time to our dinners, but gives us motivation to keep trying new things. Just the other night, Selim, looking down at a tray of baklava, said, “I’m glad we started our blog. I would have never tried making some of these things otherwise.” Let’s look back over our first year!

Overall favorite dish:

♥ Ally – So hard to choose… but I think I have to go with Spinach & Feta Gözleme

♥ Selim – Lahmacun

 

Most difficult dish:

♥ Ally – Baklava

♥ Selim – Homemade Pasta Carbonara

 

Most unique dish:

♥ Ally – Balsamic Basil Blackberry Pizza

♥ Selim – Garlic & Truffle Pimento Cheese

Most liked dishSpiced Blueberry Pie

Most viewed dishBay Scallop Risotto

Most pinned dishBay Scallop Risotto

Number of followers: 17 (watch out – we’re about to go viral 😂)

Number of unique blog visitors: 991

Number of blog posts: 90, including this one

Countries from which people have visited our blog: United States, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Namibia, India, Brazil, France, Sweden, Romania, the Netherlands, Croatia, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Hungary, Greece, Singapore, Qatar, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Poland, Ghana, the Czech Republic, Malaysia, Colombia, Turkey, Bahrain, Indonesia, South Korea, Ireland, Chile, and Russia! (This might be my favorite statistic!🇨🇦🇳🇦🇳🇿🇧🇭🇧🇷🇫🇷🇬🇷🇺🇸🇹🇷🇨🇱🇩🇪🇰🇷)

Most used tagQuick & Easy

Number of times Selim has asked to change our header photo: at least 8

Most loyal blog readers: Ally’s aunt Suzanne & Selim’s father

Least loyal blog reader: Ally’s mom – “Oh honey, I still don’t really know what a blog is.” (Said just last weekend!)


This was quite the first year we had! Looking forward, in the next year we hope to:

  • Make more Turkish recipes
  • Finally share Selim’s perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe
  • Continue to work on our Culinary Bucket List
  • Convince Ally’s mom to read the blog
  • Improve our photography skills
  • Share more about our favorite wines
  • Use our blog Instagram more frequently (follow us @bonappetitbabyblog & #bonappetitbabyblog if you want to see incredibly infrequent Instagram posts)
    • [Side note: we used to use #bonappetitbaby – but since that Katy Perry song came out, the hashtag has way more pictures of scantily clad women and weird memes than it does food – thanks for ruining our hashtag Katy 🙄]
  • Finish graduate school! (May 2018 gets closer by the day!)

Thanks for reading!

-Ally & Selim

Us at Ally’s cousin Meghan’s wedding the other weekend – they had amazing food, including a pickle bar!!

 

Amy’s Graduation Party

Selim and I have been in Virginia for a great long weekend to celebrate my younger sister’s graduation from college. She’s the last of our family, youngest of the four siblings, to graduate college. Our day was filled with family & friends, pomp & circumstance, caps & gowns, diplomas & honors… and a college party. Amy’s housemates (all 9 of them!) threw a party for their families and then one for their friends afterwards.  Even with all the parents that were present for both parties, we were still the boring old couple, as there were parents partying hard and clearly reliving some good old college memories.  Flash forward to Sunday and our family is hosting a family graduation party.  Any time we get the family together there’s always the classic dips, spreads, salads, snacks, and drinks.  We’ll highlight some of the unique ones that we think you’ll like in the next few days.

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Try one of these:

Pinch of Crab Egg Dip

Herbed Shrimp Pasta Salad

Sweet & Savory Cheese Ball

Happy Graduation Amy!! 🎉🎉