NYU Pre-Thanksgiving Birthday Potluck!

I am hugely pregnant with a food baby.  Because this is Thanksgiving week, I fully expect this to happen pretty much every day until next Monday (leftovers can cause food baby too!).

Monday, we had a Pre-Thanksgiving/Birthday potluck at school and it was delicious.  Everything went off without a hitch; I'm so impressed you guys!!  What a great dinner!

We had, in a logical dinner chronology: crackers, cheese, pita chips, hummus, macaroni salad, potato salad, pumpkin soup, sushi, baked ziti, penne alfredo, pizza, butter chicken, naan, a Bengali sweet fried dough, cheesecake, and cupcakes.  Too.  Much.  Food.  !!

Everything was delicious (except no one ate the cheese that I brought...but I was kind of happy on the inside because I brought it home and now I have a log of extra sharp white cheddar cheese for my own enjoyment...score!).

When we were abroad in London, Alex and I actually spent a fair bit of time in my communal kitchen and we witnessed the greatness of our friends' baked ziti.  I was so impressed because they went out to buy a glass casserole and plenty of fresh ingredients to make baked ziti, whereas my roommate and I typically bought, cooked, and ate the bare minimum to survive.  I would watch in awe as they mixed ziti pasta in a ricotta-parsley-mixture (I'm guessing), sprinkle the top with more pungent cheese and parsley, and pop that baby in the oven.  Then, when we'd eat our simple dinners of spaghetti and tomato sauce, they would extract this beautiful bubbling golden brown box of marvelousness from the oven and dig in. I've had the good fortune to taste this baked ziti several times, and our friend made it again tonight, to my delight. Seriously good stuff.  Tomato-y, cheesy, baked goodness.  If we were feeling more hungry than we were, I believe there would have been some bruises and black eyes fighting over the leftovers.  (side note: I think if I think hard enough, everything has a story related to London...hehe)

The other thing I was really excited to try was our friend's butter chicken. I mistook it for a big heaping bowl of chicken tikka masala at first: it was about the same coloring, a bright orange with flecks of red and yellow and chunky cubes of chicken floating about.  I mean, whatever it was, I was sure I would enjoy it anyway, but when our friend told us it was butter chicken...ooh, I was excited for the new culinary experience.  I plopped a bit on my plate and scooped some chicken and sauce onto a bit of naan bread, pizza style.  It was very delicious, a nice balance of spices without being too overpowering, and just a really great, traditional dish.  As we passed the bowl around, family-style, we ended up scraping the bottom of the bowl clean.

Finally, the cheesecake.  Ohhhh Lord Almighty, that cheesecake.  So, our friend is held with great renown for her cheesecakes, having made blueberry swirl and vanilla cheesecakes for past events.  Today's was no different. We piped a bit of icing on top to celebrate our birthday girl, and sliced into it after all the savory dishes.  Meanwhile, we were talking about homemade vanilla extract (with vodka...oh my!) and whether it is halal or not....  Anyway, I thought at this point I was too full to ever eat again, but one bite of this cheesecake sent me positively reeling. Now, I felt like I could have eaten the entire cake.  And more.  The cheesecake was beautifully and evenly flecked with vanilla bean, super creamy, and fairly light; and the graham cracker crust was moist and sweet.


I'm a little too delirious with food coma and my food baby is getting in the way of me commenting on every single dish, but suffice it to say that my friends really impressed and inspired me today.  So, I wimped out and bought pre-packaged foods for the potluck because of...whatever excuse: lack of ingredients, lack of creative recipes, lack of an oven, need to commute, lack of refrigeration.  I was responsible for the crackers, hummus, cheese, and pita chips that almost no one touched.  But now I am newly inspired to cook even if I don't have ingredients, recipes, or ovens, and not to let subways and refrigerators get in my way!

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!