Happy birthday, Emily!! (plus Mexican food and blondies)


Today is my sister Emily’s birthday. I considered joining my family for the celebration dinner tonight. But then I remembered it is in San Francisco. And I am in New York. Not possible. However, armed with the knowledge that they are all right now enjoying each other’s company and something deliciously Mexican here (siblings, I will expect full reports on your feast!), I decided to join the birthday dinner in spirit with my own Mexican feast.

But first … a disclaimer. Because tonight is a work night and a 9pm bedtime night (which I’m already past, ahhh!), time was of the essence and I had to cut some corners, the horror! You’re about to see a lot of packaged foods, but just know that my preference would have been to use dry beans and homemade cheese and to make my salsa and guac from scratch!

So before I left work, I hit up the grocery store next to my office for a giant plantain, a can of black beans, two mini cans of tomato sauce (so I don’t end up in this situation again, plus they were only 20 cents each!), a small container of part-skim ricotta, and a pack of four little zucchinis for the BSI contest (assuming I get to it in time!):


I spent $6.44, bringing the week’s grocery total up to $23, still significantly under-budget, yay!

I did manage to make my whole wheat tortilla from scratch since it’s quick enough to do and I only needed one (not a pack of eight). I first got the idea for making these a several months ago from Heather at HangryPants who linked to this recipe from King Arthur flour. I kind of made it up as I went along tonight since, again, I did not need to make eight wraps. I used 1/4 cup whole wheat flour, 1 Tbsp olive oil, a sprinkle of salt, and just enough water to turn it into dough. I actually ended up with enough for two little balls:


I covered the bowl with a plate to let the balls rest for 30 minutes and started on project #2 of the night: Peanut Butter Pumpkin Blondies, also from Heather! I was clearly meant to make this recipe tonight because I had exactly what I needed — and not a drop more — for most of the ingredients. I used my last cup of pb, my last cup of pumpkin, my last cup of white chocolate chips (ok, roommate Brigitte’s last cup of white chocolate chips), and my last two cups of whole wheat pastry flour. I got a little worried when the recipe said to pour and my batter looked like this:


But I scooped it all into a parchment-lined 9×13 baking dish and tossed it into the oven so I could get back to the burrito-making. Oh, but first, I had to deal with the batter clear space. Here’s what the counter looked like:


Because I do not permit food waste in this house apartment, I rubber-spatula-ed everything within an inch of its life and put it in this little ramekin for safe-keeping:

mmmmm, batter!

mmmmm, batter!

Back to the dinner prep, I floured a cutting board and rolled out the two little dough balls until they were thinner than paper, almost transparant, and cooked them one at a time on a dry, non-stick pan:


When both sides were browned to my liking, I chose the bigger wrap and placed it on foil on a cookie sheet:


And topped it with 1/4 cup black beans, 1/4 cup Wholly Guacamole! (thawed from a tub that I rescued from a work party last month and froze), 2 Tbsp salsa (again, thank you Brigitte!), and one slice of some sort of Kraft fat free mystery cheese that never goes bad (thank you, Tara!):


I wrapped it in burrito shape and formed the foil around it in a little cocoon to hold it in place:


At this point, the buzzer went off for the blondies, so I took them out to cool and put the foiled-burrito-on-cookie-sheet in to heat through and get melty for five minutes. During those five minutes, I prepared 1/3 of my enormous plaintain by slicing it in diagonal rounds and browning both sides in a teeny bit of oil in the pan. Once the sides were sufficiently browned, I added a little water to the pan to soften the slices some more:


Meanwhile, I tried to use my nana-clip to keep the cut end of the plantain fresh. Needless to say, it was too small:

can you spot the blondies cooling in the top right corner?

can you spot the blondies cooling in the top right corner?

When the plantains finished cooking, I quickly threw the egg yolks left over from the blondies into the pan for a scramble:


I figured the protein would come in handy soon, so the yolks are now safely refrigerated.

Five minutes later, everything was in order: the blondies were cooling, the plantains were browned, the burrito was hot and melty and topped with sour cream plain yogurt, and I could finally sit down to eat. Oh wait, I had to take 30,000 pictures first:




It was delicious, obviously.

Now, dessert may come as a total and complete shock to you, so make sure you’re sitting down. I ate some freshly baked blondie:


No, not the whole pan!


No, not a whole row either! (That one’s for Brigitte in return for her white chocolate chips, sugar, and full stick of butter!)

I cut a little piece of blondie for myself and also had the, er, “crumbs” that just weren’t fit for public consumption. And don’t worry — I didn’t forget my ball of batter!

Em, I was singing happy birthday to you while I took this picture!

Em, I was singing happy birthday to you while I took this picture!



Are you drooling yet?


Mmmmmm, what a perfect birthday celebration dinner! I am definitely feeling the sugar right now, but it’s nothing a little 5am gym action won’t fix :-). Thanks for the recipes, Heather!

I’ll leave you with a rare all-siblings photo from this time last year when I was able to make a birthday visit:

niece Ella, me, sister Allie, brother Chad, bday girl Emily, niece Dixie, brother Mark

clockwise from bottom: niece Ella (being tortured, clearly), me, sister Allie, brother Chad, bday girl Emily, niece Dixie, brother Mark ... yay family!

Happy Happy Happy Birthday, Emily! I love you and wish I were there!

11 thoughts on “Happy birthday, Emily!! (plus Mexican food and blondies)

  1. Hangry Pants says:

    Aren’t the wraps so good? I definitely need to make them again! I am not v. good at getting them as thin as you did. I guess I need to be more patient.

    And I am so glad you liked the blondies. I made them up all by myself, ya know, so it’s always interesting to see what others think.

    Happy Birthday Emily!


  2. Melinda says:

    WOW, that whole meal looks amazing!! i’ve recently developed a newfound love for mexican food because my boyfriend eats in on the regular. love the candle in the blondie, so adorable!


  3. emily says:

    hey sarah!

    thanks for celebrating with us! your meal looked delicious. nice cookin’. when i lived in poland i made tortillas all the time – yummy. mark and were talking about it tonight as we made them together when he came to visit me. dinner was fun – we missed you. steak mole, chicken diablo, quesadillas, chicken and rice salad, chips and salsas, guacamole, margaritas were all enjoyed. oh yeah, let’s not forget the mexican chocolate cake for dessert.

    i got your prezzie too — thank you. i love love love the collapsable bags! and am thrilled with the middle sister wine! will send you a picture once chad posts them!

    love you so much!


  4. Allison says:

    WOWZA! You were quite the chef last night – EVERYTHING LOOKS FANTASTIC!

    I LOVE how delicous those blondies look – I think that’s going to be the next recipe I try!

    Happy Birthday Emily! 🙂


  5. Danielle says:

    Wow you made a lot of great food! It all looks so delicous especially those blondies!
    What a nice way to celebrate your sister’s birthday from far away.
    Happy Birthday Emily!


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