Monday, March 11, 2013
Everyone is looking for a balanced diet right? Well, I’m pretty sure this has all the major food groups in it, so just pick up a fork and roll with it. My life could sustain solely on everything in this salad – because the pillars of any good, balanced diet include sweet peppers, carbs in pasta form, lemon spritzed everywhere and on everything, marinated artichokes that fall to pieces in your mouth, and four cloves of garlic when only two are required. See, balance. This simple artichoke pasta salad should probably be called artichoke pasta salad salad, but that’s just semantics. Ben was entirely thrown off by the addition of the lettuce to the “pasta salad”, but that’s fine – more for ME! I’m so selfless. And I’m so totally going to be making another batch of this pronto.
The lemon, dijon and garlic combo is just one for the record books – and opening my mouth and shoveling this in was quite possibly one of the most unlady like spectacles seen since Lindsay Lohan did anything, ever. But you’ll forgive my artichoke salad induced unladylikeness because once you try this you will see – it’s worth every second of shoveling. Dear god it’s good.
On another note – I’m not one to normally whine and squawk over the changes in daylight savings time, but was this particular switch really hard on anyone else? A whole hour leapt forward, lost to oblivion? Sure it’s only one hour of one day – but that one hour came out of my weekend! Couldn’t that one hour have sprung forward today, on a Monday when we all know it is going to be dragging on an on just because it’s Monday and it can!?
If ever there was a day to be jumped forward an hour – it’s a Monday. Give us something here people!
Those Day Light Savings Time Keepers… How Wwwwude..
Whoa, my 90′s kid tag line alter ego just slipped out. Get back in there Stephanie Tanner, no one has time for your slap bracelets and neon geometric sweaters. Oh, who are we kidding, we all do.
So kids, lesson of the day – bust out a really big fork, devour THIS. jumper into your 90′s neon sweater and Netflix some Full House (is it even on Netflix, because if it is – my sit-on-my-can time just got booked), and relive the glory days.
Also – I can not be help responsible if Nana writes you out of the will because you bring this to your next family picnic and it boots her sad soggy canned pea and pasta salad to second place. Just a proper warning.
Thursday, March 7, 2013
Are these dessert or breakfast? I can’t really tell. Turnover implies breakfast, but being slathered in Nutella and puff pastry totally screams dessert. Breakfast, desserts, breakfast, dessert. Thinking is hard. Really I just prefer opening wide and shoving one of these mini nutella cream cheese turnovers into my face hole.
And nope, they’re not fried. So by that very definition that means they’re healthy, right? Healthier? Healthier than what I don’t know, but just roll with it. Get real people! Come to the dark Nutella-y side, you won’t be sorry.
All this chocolate sin and carbing it up is all for a great celebration – that of our friend Jeanne’s, or as you may know her Nana Bread’s, 50th birthday. *blinks* 50, Jeanne? Really? I really gotta ask what the hell is your secret woman? Have you been watching the Cindy Crawford anti aging infomercials again? Geez, maybe I need to get in on that.
To help you celebrate this fantastic milestone, I wanted to share these Nutella turnovers with you – because well they’re mini pies for the hand pie master, they’re fill of my chocolate spirit animal- Nutella, and they’re carbs. Everything a birthday girl, or really anyone else, needs. It should be a law.
We’re so thrilled to have you in our lives, our little internet troupe of rebel rousing yahoos. It wouldn’t be the same without you. And for any of you guys out there reading – please, jump on over to say Hi to Jeanne today. If you haven’t met her, you must. She can craft a felt mouse like nobody’s business, her husband is an ice cream making savant – man has mastered the DIY Sweet Cream ice cream for Ben and Jerry’s, and her sense of humor and zest for life is positively infectious. Infectious in a good way, not the eww-what’s-that-on-your-skin kinda way.
She’s your new kindred spirit.
To keep the party going these other drool worthy creations from these fine ladies
Kirsten’s Orange Cream Pie,
Allison’s Coca Cola Cake,
Beka’s Aged Manhattan,
Madelyn’s Cheesey Chorizo Dip,
Anne’sMexican Vanilla Ice Cream Cones,
Monica’s Tropical Ice Cream,
Katie’s Chocolate Cake with Cooked Flour Frosting,
Lauren’s Mini Key Lime Pies with an Animal Cracker Crust,
Madeline’sFig, Fontina and Pecan Flatbread,
and Carrie’s Coconut Banana Brownie Pie.
Happy birthday Jeanne, we love you and wish you the happiest of birthdays and here’s to another 50, fabulous and flirty years to come.
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
You know what makes a birthday really neato? Having not one, but TWO birthday cakes. All for mom. This is precisely what happens when you don’t coordinate well enough with Bonus Dad about the plans for your mother, other than “Yeah, come on down. We have no plans for her birthday other than hauling rocks”. *pause* On her birthday? Crazy people. Long story short, my parents are building a house and have been for quite some time and between the garden, the landscaping and house building there is alot of rock hauling still involved. So I gave my mom two things on her birthday, a day of reprieve from hauling rocks – and cake. This cake to be precise – a pear almond cake with cinnamon brown sugar buttercream. That’s the kind of daughter I am. I made her cake, that has to count for something in the Awesome Column. I jest, I jest.
Oh and that lack of coordination and planning also meant that my Bonus Dad ordered my mom a cake too. Two cakes for the win!
My mom and I have several things in common, including our love of carbs and cheese, our non-love of our ginormous Czech calves and each of our blind left eyes. And standing next to her I can pretty much see what I’m going to look like in 25 years. Not half bad, I think.
The other thing of course, is that she, like me, used to be an axe thrower when she was in college studying forestry. There is some silly cliche coming to mind about apples falling out of trees…Hmmm.
Our near daily phone calls absolutely complete my day, even when there is nothing to talk about. After work, the phone comes out and the call to Mom happens. It’s just routine, comforting and rounds out the day.
Her totally full-on Gammy-mode over Huck just melts my heart and shows me that Ben’s and my imaginary future children are done for.
And saying that she really is one of my best friends, would be equal parts the biggest cliche you’ve ever heard, but also simultaneously the understatement of the century.
So – uh, thanks mom for all that hard work. I know I didn’t always make it easy. Thanks for putting up my teenage tantrums, hauling me to college, teaching me the way of the Bread, how to make proper Czech dumplings, and most of all letting me vent over our gargantuan calves.
You’re just the bestest.
And so is this cake.
This is the holy trifecta of cake combinations here and I can’t even get over it. And I know you won’t either. The cake is a simple, classic yellow cake with a pear twist and the buttercream is something I can make a face mask out of and lick it off my own face. Cheryl of TidyMom really knocked this frosting out of the park. As soon as I saw it topping her Gingerbread cupcakes , I picked my jaw up off the floor and I knew it would be the most fabulous addition to the pear and almond flavor. It’s so cozy. You know, as frosting goes.
This I’m sure will be an instant family classic. After just this one time, I know it will be in my family!
It’s Mom approved.
Monday, March 4, 2013
What has taken me so long? Quinoa? Where have you been all my life? Am I the last person jumping onto the Quinoa train? Well, have no fear, I am firmly on that rollin’ wagon and its amazing stuff! One of my missions in life is to give everything I can a Dirty Chai twist. I became overwhelmingly addicted to espresso laced chais in college, as a way to feed my caffeine addiction and my obsession with chai tea. *hippie alert* At first it was making dirty chai donuts *Whoa, slap yo mama!* and now its chai spiced granola. Two down, a million flavorgasms to go.
Roasted hazelnuts and cashews totally kicked to the curb the usual granola nuts of almonds. If we’re going crazy, we’re going all the way. An the addition of the chai and espresso powder just full on turned this granola upside down. Best leftover cereal milk you will ever drink.
I just said “swearsies”, I need to go back to bed.
But regardless, I mean it – this is something that needs to happen to your face.
And with quinoa being all the rage now, you got your morning protein packed right in one little bowl.
Pure fantabulousness. Truth.
Over and out.
Saturday, March 2, 2013
1) My mom’s birthday is this weekend, so I’m doing what I do best – making something atrociously bad for you, or well her. I saw this cake ages ago in Portland at my favorite dessert place, like ever – Papa Hayden’s. How can the thought of a Pear Almond Cake with Brown Sugar Buttercream NOT make you drool? That’s right, it can’t not. So, commence your drooling. It’s allowed. And feel the freedom to drool over the rest of their menu.
2)Today started my new television endeavor into a new show – Call the Midwife. This might be the only thing that will get me through the next year until the 4th SEason of Downton Abbey begins. I was clearly born in the wrong era and country. My maiden last name was no indication or anything. It is only the name of the money! Or was.
3) It’s amazing what you will find when you download all the pictures from your nearly filled to capacity phone. I forgot I’d taken a picture of this barn when I was in Fairfield over the summer. Every time I go east to the Palouse, that barn always looks a little worse for wear and the only thing that barn up is the bales of hay in it. They aren’t bound to hold up much longer…
4) Last week came the latest round of the One Kitchen, Many Hearts box from my lovely tundra dwelling friend Kat from Tenaciously Yours. Beka and I had our first Facetime Date with her this week and it was like all the pieces of our pen-pal-ship/friendship fell into place just like they were meant too. With wine exchanged by all. In this month’s box she included all necessities to promote my Anglophilic way of life. And by some miracle, the Postal Gods on high managed to not break a single thing!
Guess who can have a proper tea time now? This girl. Kat and I have regular pow-wows about the status of Duchess Kate’s closet, growing baby bump and all the most valued Pippa Tips flowing to and fro around the interwebs. I hope you can read sarcasm, cause that last bit was heavily laden with sarcasm.
Also included was a life time supply of English Breakfast tea, my cookie spirit animal in the form of Shortbread and wonderfully affirmational stationary. It will be nice to fill my chilly winter nights with something more than 140 character messages.
Come to Mama!!
5) My childhood has been brought back to me in the most delicious way – homemade Magic Shell ice cream topping. Just yes. And when you can make it less than 10 minutes, and it’s 10,552 times better than the original – this just simply has to be made. One ingredient makes all the difference in the world and once you find out what it is you’ll give yourself the Gibbs Slap.
5b ) One thing I learned about my 60mm macro lens this week – it takes amazing picture. Well, I knew that – I can now firmly say it is my favorite lens. But it picks up every rogue Huck hair, like the one that landed on the ice cream dish and I didn’t even realize it until the recipe was posted. Wonderful.
5c) Also, I’m too lazy to go fix it.
6) Look forward to this recipe on Monday. I’m a terrible indecisive person who can’t figure out what recipes to post – and turning to Facebook to try and figure it out was also a bad idea because the answer to my should I post Chewy Nutella Cookies or Dirty Chai Granola was a 50/50 split! Even you guys can’t make up your minds! Now I don’t feel so bad about my indecisiveness. But here is the Dirty Chai Granola, just to keep you drooling over the weekend. And to sweeten the deal – it has quinoa. Winner!
7) I just got word today that I’m heading to Chicago in a bit over two weeks. Only having seen the airport doesn’t really count as having been to Chicago, so this time around I’ll actually get to spend three days there and I can’t wait. My fat pants will be packed. Any Chicago food recommendations and place I have to hit while I’m in town?! Let me know! I’m all ears. And wide open face.
With that – have a fantabulous weekend and see you Monday with some dirty chai granola! I promise this time!!
Friday, March 1, 2013
My indecisiveness really gets me into trouble sometimes. Case in point – these Chewy Nutella Cookies. Last night I was left feeling torn between posting these cookies or some dirty chai granola that has been sitting in the corner alone waiting to be posted for the last three weeks. Both are equally awesome, which is why I was feeling so torn between the two. So who do I turn to to help solve the problem? Facebook. And frankly y’all aren’t any help either!! It was a 50/50 split between the two. It came down to me actually counting the responses and they were EVEN! Next, flip the all knowing and omnipotent coin. There is a shameful number of times that I have turned to a coin to help me make difficult decisions in life – this being one of those times. Cookies are serious business, people!
And these are ridiculously serious business.
I couldn’t stop eating these. Sure taking them into work managed to get rid of half of them, but the remaining cookies laid around the house tempting me, torturing me, and each time I walked into the kitchen a piece of one cookie would find it’s way into my face. Breaking off pieces of cookies seemed like a not-quite-as-bad-for-me alternative to devouring the whole cookie in two large and wholly unladylike bites.
My logic has failed me again.
But it’s cookies, soft and chewy, laden with my life blood, chocolate spirit animal, number one addiction NUTELLA.
Ben can’t stand the stuff and looks at me like I’ve committed the most grievous of sins as I go spoon deep into a jar of Nutella to curb me sweet fix. But I console my jar of Nutella from Ben’s venomous stare, dipping into again to let it know that it is loved, so much. Like a puppy. And edible puppy. Wait, that took a turn for the dark. Sorry about that. But hopefully it conveys the depths of my adoration for this creamy, hazelnutty spread.
And these – you need. N-E-E-D. I swear. And if you can’t make a decision about major decisions in your life – don’t ask Facebook, it won’t be of any help at all. I need a cookie. Or granola. Crap, back at square 1.
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
One of the many useful pieces of culinary knowledge that my grandmother introduced to me at a younge age was Nutella and the other was Magic Shell. Babi kept both in the house and Magic Shell was mine and my Grandpa’s favorite ice cream topping. Every time we shared a bowl the ice-cream eating order of operation consisted of pouring as much Magic Shell over our ice cream as was necessary to cover all of it, let it freeze and then try and peel it off the ice cream and eat it whole. Yeah, I sure was a classy kid back in the day. It was heaven.
The one time that Magic Shell made an appearance at my parents house my sister thought it needed to be refrigerated and put it back in there only for me to find and and throw an absolute temper tantrum at the fact that it was now RUINED! Ohhh the ice cream-anity! I devised a way to tear apart the plastic bottle and just chow down on the solidified chocolate like Huck on a stick, but thankfully my mom stopped me before I went all Rambo on the bottle and stabbed myself with a pair of scissors trying to extract all the chocolately glory, which was a fairly likely scenario. That was the day I thought I gave up on Magic Shell.
But no more!! America’s Test Kitchen DIY Cookbook is here to enlighten us all to DIY’ing out life and making our own Magic Shell! Not only making it on our own, but making it better than the stuff of our childhood.
From making your own Maple Bacon, to mozzarella cheese, Sriracha and Ritz style crackers this book seriously has it all. I know, I know – of course it’s easier to pick it up in the store, but DIY’ing isn’t always about whether its cheaper or easier, it’s about how it tastes and knowing that you knocked it out of the park better than a mass manufacturered mechanical implement.
Magic Shell is easy to make on your own and takes all of ten minutes – tops. That’s if you get distracted by a bumble bee.
Start with 4 ounces of chopped Semi-Sweet chocolate. I used Ghirardelli for mine. Add it into a microwave safe bowl with 1/3 cup of Coconut Oil.
Coconut oil is the magic ingredient that makes the whole shell crack. The melting point of coconut oil is 74 degrees and its solid state is at 70, so with a rapid fluctuation in temperature you can get it really solid, really quick and it crakcs like a dream unlike other emulifiers, like butter.
Melt it in the microwave for about 2 1/2 minutes on 50% power until the chocolate has just completely melted. Stir occassionally to be sure it all mixes together properly while nuking.
Once it’s all melted, whisk in 1 additional teaspoon of cocoa, 1/4 tsp vanilla extract and 1/8th teaspoon of espresso powder, with a pinch of salt. The espresso powder and salt deepen the flavor of the chocolate without adding too much of a coffee taste to it.
And that’s it! Wait thirty painfully long minutes and let it rest – then it will be ready to use. Seriously – it’s as simple as that.
Store it in an air tight container in a cupboard for up to two months. Just reheat it gently to make it pourable and you’re ready to go every time.
Beats the stuff out of the bottle any day.
Monday, February 25, 2013
I have spent YEARS avoiding Chorizo for many reasons. And all these years have been utterly wasted!! Chorizo is amazing! Seriously, what was my problem? It might have been that I figured it was too spicy for me. I’m a woos. Or it may have been me avoiding things that used to remind me of an ex who while he was two states away going through fire fighter training, the blond bombshell next door used to bring him chorizo breakfast burritos… nothing like a long distance relationship complicated by a blonde hottie and a man’s stomach. Or something. So there I was, avoiding all things chorizo as some sort of half hearted, retaliation for some chick snaking my boyfriend and I was taking it out on breakfast sausage. Girl logic 101. Now here I am devouring all the Chorizo Breakfast hash I can in an effort to make up for years of chorizolessness.
This dish has it all going on – from the three colored baby potatoes lightly fried until they are tender with a sunny side up egg that just oozes into all the right places. It’s like a yolky gold mine, people. And you obviously need a slice or two of sourdough toast to mop it all up with.
Because, well – duh.
So please – do yourself a favor and, don’t take misplace angst and anger on chorizo. Years of chorizolessness is time wasted. And I highly suggest you start your chorizo-session with this. Cause, Wow.
Friday, February 22, 2013
I’m convinced that anyone who orders a Caramel Macchiato at Starbucks is doing it just so they can say the words Macchiato. And really I just made Caramel Macchiato cookies so I could say “Macchiato”, too. It’s so fun to say! The thought of golden caramel sauce swirling around and infusing my latte with its sweet and toffee nectar or having it drip seductively all over a cookie is one of the great many pleasures in life. Mmmm, cookie.
Happy Friday, here’s a cookie!
This Friday, we have ALL earned our cookie.
Yesterday was my fourth day in a row at the gym this week, and I had my personal training session. We went over my initial session from 7 weeks ago, taking my measurements again, weighing me and doing that whole schpeel to see how much process I’ve made.
Progress: Yes, that. - I have yet to drop a pound despite gymming it 4-5 days a week and using MyFitness Pal (I Know!), and I swapped 10 pounds of fat for 10 pounds of muscle. Sure I could be happy about that, but I was mad. Abhorrently mad.
And then I wanted a cookie. I will be leading today’s class in Failed Logic 101.
But Daaayyummmm girl – shoving one of these cookies in my face was the only thing I wanted to do. It would have been wooorrrtth ittt!!
Because let’s just face it – cookies dripping with copious amounts of caramel is the only way to get through horrible days, and stressful weeks like this one was. Am I right? Can I get a hallelujah!
And with a name like Macchiato – just saying the name of these cookies makes the day a slightly better place. But eating them – makes it divine.
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
I love Thai food, it’s fresh, it’s colorful and it always hits the spot! Curries are one of my favorites – and this Spicy Vegetable Coconut Curry is chock full of fresh veg and vibrant colors that just make it absolutely mouthwatering. And having a equally vibrant dish to serve it in just takes the whole thing over the top, don’t you think? This Le Creuset Quince Braiser is a star, and the buttery yellow color just gets me so excited for spring!
The Quince color is the newest Le Creuset color exclusive to Williams Sonoma! And I have to say now, get your mitts on this beauty! Or help a sista’ out and I will be able to give YOU a Whole Set of Quince cookware! Keep reading the details are killer!
There is a friendly little Pinterest contest starting today where you can vote for your favorite blogger’s photos featuring this gorgeous Quince Cookware! The blogger with the most “Likes” on their photo at the end of the contest will win a prize, BUT the best part is that the winning blogger will get to give one of their lucky readers a WHOLE three piece set of this Quince Cookware including:
That’s a retail value of $585, people! You wanna win it, I’m telling you this right now!
How do you enter? Well, jump on ove to the
Williams Sonoma Pinterest Page
and LIKE MY PHOTO HERE! Feel free to repin it if you want, but “liking” the photo is what really counts towards the goal.
So if you want to win a set of LeCreuset cookware from me – go vote!! There are some fantastic photos to be had and delicious dishes to feast your eyes on.
I’ve dined out on Thai food so much – and always thought it would be so hard to make at home. Nope, nuh uh, not at all. This most taxing part of this whole endeavor was the chopping of all the vegetables.
Seriously? Why did I waste all these years curriless in my own home?! It’s a tragedy.
Chop your veggies, saute them to wilt them a bit, pour a bunch of chicken stock over the top and simmer for a half hour and it’s DONE!
Curry is now a weeknight meal.
The flavors are fresh, the colors are a feast in themselves and I think there is a new obsession beginning in my life.
And I have a feeling, it’ll be a new obsession in yours.