blog launch dinner!

pesto crostini

I am a classic over-planner.  I inherited the compulsion to always say “yes” from my mom.  So when the opportunity arose for me to host a blog launch dinner (manageable)… for 15 people (ermm)… a few days after moving into my brand new apartment (oh dear god)… during finals week (WHAT)… of course I was gung-ho.

a few wonderful ladies: jenny, rachel, and brianna, with me in the apron

If the preceding paragraph was too stressful for you to read, this blog is not for you.  The First Kitchen documents my experience learning how to cook as a college student.  This means: putting together a kitchen, eating (healthy) on a budget, and finding time to cook while triple-majoring, writing papers, working, studying, and reading constantly.  And I’m starting from zero.  My exposure to the world of cooking is quite limited.  My mom (hi mom!) is an excellent cook, but unfortunately I spent more time eating her food than helping her cook it.  Working at Sonic is the closest interaction I got with food preparation during high school.  Bottom line: prepare yourself.  Things might get ugly.

Luckily, the dinner was a huge success.  The appetizers, pesto crostini and artichoke-olive crostini, were crowd favorites.  The meal that followed was eggplant parmigiana on a bed of spaghetti and marinara sauce.  Finally, we had dessert: apple pie coffee cake and pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.  Though I had stressed about the night for the previous week and worked my ass off in the kitchen all day, it was wonderful to christen the new apartment with great friends, delicious food, and laughter.  While I can’t promise every meal will be so wonderful, this one certainly was.

eggplant parmigiana on our fine china


With the last few final paper deadlines approaching, the only food I’ll be consuming is microwaveable or in coffee form.  But check back in a couple days and prepare to be wowed by Brianna’s tomato, spinach, and feta pasta!


apple pie coffee cake


pumpkin chocolate chip muffins


About Natalie (The First Kitchen)

I like to eat lots of plants, bake cookies, and explore Austin.
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7 Responses to blog launch dinner!

  1. Recipes!

    For pesto, put the following in a food processor until it looks delicious: 1/4 c. walnuts, 1/4 c. pine nuts, lots of garlic, lots of fresh basil (at least 4 or 5 cups), about a cup of parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, 1 1/2 cups of olive oil.

    For artichoke-olive spread, put the following in a food processor until it looks delicious: a can of artichoke hearts, half a cup of green olives (more if you want), a teaspoon to a tablespoon of capers (I love them, lots of people hate them, adjust accordingly), lots of garlic, 1/4 c. olive oil. Adapted from multiple recipes.

    The eggplant parmigiana was Mario Batali’s:

    If you want Preston’s spaghetti sauce recipe, you’ll have to ask him.

    Vegan apple pie coffee cake, adapted from Vegan Yum Yum and given to me by Laura B.:
    2 1/2 Cups Flour
    1 Cup Granulated Sugar
    1 tsp Baking Powder
    1/2 tsp Salt
    1/2 tsp Cinnamon
    2/3 Cup Earth Balance Margarine, softened
    2/3 Cup Soymilk
    2 Tbs Cornstarch mixed with 1/2 Cup Water
    2 tsp Vanilla Extract
    1 20 to 25 oz Jar Apple Pie Filling
    1 Tbs Sugar mixed with 1 tsp Cinnamon, for topping.

    Preheat oven to 350º F. Combine all the dry ingredients of the cake and mix well. Add all of the liquid ingredients and fold the batter until just combined. The batter should be thick and nearly dough-like, as this will prevent the filling from sinking to the bottom of the pan.
    I put the cake mix in cupcake liners, covered them with the apple pie filling, and then put some more of the mix on top, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, and baked them for about 20 minutes. The original recipe tells you to make it like the cake – 1/2 the batter on the bottom, apple pie filling on top, the other 1/2 of the batter on top of that, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, and then bake for 80 minutes. Either way is good.

    Sort of vegan pumpkin chocolate chip muffins (take out the chocolate chips and they’re real vegan), adapted from
    1 can of pumpkin
    2/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
    1 1/2 cup granulated sugar (or 2 cups… I like mine less sweet)
    1/2 cup soy milk
    2 t. vanilla extract
    2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    1 t. baking powder
    1 t. baking soda
    2 t. ground cinnamon
    1/2 t. salt
    1 1/4 cup chocolate chips

    Mix up the first five ingredients, then gradually mix in the next 5, then fold in chocolate chips, put in a cupcake pan and bake for about 23 minutes or until they look delicious. I like to put a chocolate chip on the top of them and then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar before I bake them.

  2. Pam Kutner says:

    Hi Natalie, I’m Jenny’s mom. She shared your blog with me. It’s great! Keep cooking!

  3. Jenny Kutner says:

    I apologize.

  4. Chef Boyardee says:

    You have made yourself a dangerous enemy.

  5. Pat Joseph says:

    Hi Natalie, great going, I’m Preston’s Grandma, Debbie told me about your blog, keep up the good work

  6. Preston's Mom says:

    Thanks for the batch of Pumpkin Muffins you made for us, they were heavenly! I shared a few with the girls at work have been asked for the recipe so I was happy to see that you have it posted, however, I think you must be holding out, those chocolate chips could not have been ordinary chips they were “magically delicious”.

    Love ya!

  7. monica says:

    Hi Natalie,

    I am a coworker of Preston’s mom and had the privilage to have one of the Pumkin Choc Chip Muffins.I must say I usually don’t do pumkin but these muffins were YUUUUMY ! I have look foward to your new recipes and plan to challange myself in attempting some of them.Love your blog keep at it

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