Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Return to the land of internet connections

Many apologies for the long absence. Two weeks ago Jon and I had to fly back to Arkansas for a family emergency, and we ended up staying through the Christmas holiday. It was a busy, heartbreaking, stressful couple of weeks. Needless to say, I didn’t have much time for writing. And even if I had, finding a free internet connection back home is like chasing a rainbow. So close, yet. so. far.

The internet hasn’t worked at my parent’s house for a year, even though they still pay for it. My sister lives an inconvenient hour-and-a-half away. Starbucks makes you pay for Wi-Fi. The library has the slowest connection I have seen in quite some time (Hello, dial-up! Ok, that’s an exaggeration, but still.). And for some reason my wonderful little laptop just won’t pick up signals at the one café in town that offers free wireless. (She’s a stubborn, snooty little thing, methinks.) I’m not above sitting in the parking lots of hotels and restaurants to steal a signal, either. Believe me, I will stoop quite low to get my online fix.

So, while I love being home with family and friends, Sonic Cokes and dirt roads and all, I am glad to be back to my wonderful wireless internet.

P.S. I have tons of new recipes to share courtesy of several family Christmas dinners, so be on the lookout. I’ll be back in a couple of days!

Friday, December 12, 2008

The sources of my inferiority complex. Or, Mouthwatering Blogs.

You will never visit my blog again after you check out the food blogs compiled in Bon Appétit’s “Blog Envy” list.

No, really. I don’t blame you. Go, now. Shoo!

Seriously, though, go ahead and look through the slideshow. It’s incredible. I trolled through it and if Bon Appétit, a force to be reckoned with in the food magazine world, has envy issues over these blogs, then what I have is…something else entirely. Lust, perhaps?

But, since I’m not a jealous blogger, I have created a little list my personal favorites from the “Blog Envy” round-up for your reading pleasure.

-Not Eating Out in New York is among the blogs on the magazine’s list. I was already a fan before, but this just gives me a good excuse to rep for the blog! Blogger Cathy gives you everything you could ask for in a foodie blog. For instance, it has a great concept—she started Not Eating Out in New York as a project to see if she could actually refrain from restaurant dining in one of the finest culinary capitals of…ahem, the WORLD. Yeah, not easy. But, she pulled it off for 2 years! Like I said, great concept. Plus, she comes up with interesting, fresh new recipes with an eco-conscience.

-Next blog-hop over to Food Junta. Bon Appétit explains “the word ‘junta’—from the Spanish word juntar (‘to join’)—refers to a community of revolutionaries.” Honestly, I’m down for joining a community of food revolutionaries, especially when their tagline is “Empowering the young, broke and hungry.” Plus, Junta leaders, Claire and Kevin, have cool features for clueless cooks like me, such as the “Boot Camp” series. Viva la revolución!

-Delicious: Days, a site run by Nicky in Munich, is definitely worth a look, if for nothing more than the beautiful design and incredible photographs. I honestly couldn’t stick around there too long because there were sweets and cakes and cookies and my mouth was watering. I will be returning, however.

-And my last recommendation is to check out The Pink of Perfection, written by Sarah McColl. In addition to amazing looking recipes and treats (not to mention the Spicy, Sweet and Salty Rosemary Nuts included in Bon Appétit’s compilation), Sarah blogs about thrifty living and crafts. AND as an added bonus, her sister is Katy McColl, one of my favorite magazine writers back from my Jane-reading days (before it folded. *sniffle*).

Surf away, dudes and dudettes! But don’t forget about me!

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Actually, no. It's not.

BUT! I did get a brithday present a few weeks ago. Do keep in mind that my birthday is in June. June 6th, to be exact, so it wasn't even my half-birthday on the day I came home to find a package from Amazon. I did a quick scan of the online-shopping files of my brain, but there were no recent purchases in memory.

I should have known that it was a super late birthday present from Courtney B. (BFF since 2nd grade, wut!), because A. she had texted me the week before asking what my apartment number was, and B. we ALWAYS exchange birthday presents late (although not usually quite this late).

Here’s the exciting part: she got me the Casserole Crazy cookbook (by Emily Farris) that I posted about in early November! (See, even though I don’t get paid for this blog, I guess it does have unexpected benefits.) I was so excited that I sat down and actually read the cookbook. Here’s an excerpt from the introduction that I love:

“This is a book for people who love to eat. It is not a book for people who like to make elaborate culinary presentations or impress dinner guests with knowledge of exotic vegetables or cuts of meat. This book is about taking ingredients that you know, that you love, that you can find, and baking those ingredients into one dish you can share with friends over an expensive bottle of wine or live off for a week when you’re waiting for your next paycheck.”

I couldn’t explain my intentions for food and for this blog any better if I tried.

P.S. I’ve already tried two recipes from the book and they did not disappoint. AND THANKS COURTNEY! YOU ROCK!

Last Turkey Post, I SWEAR!!!

Like I said, this will be the last post about Herbert, our Thanksgiving Turkey. But, I really like making fun of myself, so I had to post this video that my sister, Kirby (The Kirbs), filmed as I unleashed the beast from his Butterball bag. Needless to say there are lots of unattractive faces on my part and a few disgusted squeals. In the end, however, Herbert grew on me, especially when I discovered the little bag of organs shoved into his body cavity. Oh, and this is probably not too safe for those with vegetarian or PETA-esque tendencies, obviously. So, watch with caution.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Fortune Time-Can't Touch This!

At our local Chinese food takeout establishment, fortune cookies cost extra. And yet, I order them anyway. I’m willing to pay 35 cents for my fortune. However, I am not willing to pay 35 cents to order a fortune cookie which is always mysteriously absent from my order. So, even though I ate Chinese food merely 2 weeks ago, this is a recycled fortune from back in October. But it works in connection with the recent holidays, and you’ll see why.

“To be mature is to accept imperfections.”

Yes, such as this monstrosity (which I was very proud of regardless of its cosmetic...issues):

It literally fell apart when we picked it up. Moist!

Instead of this:

PA-LEEEZZE. It is pretty though, right? *Sigh*
Oh well, it looked disgusting, but still tasted like a turkey! Yep, I am so totally mature.

Oh Herbs, you will be missed.
One last thing: here's Herbert before he was roasted up. Happy guy, I'd say.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Turkey Coma

Yep, I’ve been in a turkey coma. I just woke up yesterday. It was pretty severe, really.


Ok, I’m a bad liar. Honestly, I just abandoned the blog for the past week (or two) so that I could actually eat food instead of just write about it. Plus, I was having major turkey anxiety over the 18-pound monstrosity residing in my freezer that I was supposed to COOK. I’m an amateur at normal cooking, so the thought of cooking an entire bird was daunting. More on this later (possibly with video?).

For now, let’s deal with the turkey leftovers. And yes, when you have an 18-pound bird and only four people to eat it, there are going to be leftovers. The lady mags always whip out creative ways to use up these leftovers in their November issues, so here are a few ideas from this walking, breathing lady mag.

1. Feed it to the dog. Duh. (Or cat. My adorable fluffball, Prancy, is loving the turkey scraps.)
2. Toss pieces at the side of your neighbor’s house. This works best if your neighbor has some sort of siding, and if your turkey is moist-ish. Slather some leftover cranberry sauce on that foul if need be. Whoever’s turkey slab sticks the longest wins!
3. Leftover turkey is the prize. (Sneeeaaaky!)
4. Pack it in your kids’ lunches (or whoever you happen to be making lunch for). Obviously, don’t put it in your own though.
5. Try the recipe below.

Turkey Poofs

Adapted from "Chicken Poofs" recipe on Prevention.com.

1 cup reduced-sodium stuffing mix (if you have some leftover stuffing you can use it, or just buy a box of Stove Top. When I made this, I’m pretty sure I used the whole box, which is more like 2 cups of mix.)
1½ cups cooked turkey breast, shredded (or use chicken.)
1 cup fat-free sour cream
2 containers (8 rolls in each) reduced-fat crescent rolls

Preheat the oven according to the directions on the crescent roll container. In a medium saucepan, prepare the stuffing mix according to the package instructions. (If you’re using leftovers, skip to the next step.) Remove it from heat and mix in turkey and sour cream. On a large nonstick cookie sheet, unroll the crescent rolls. Separate them in pairs and arrange them to form squares, pinching together the seams as you flatten the dough. Place desired amount of stuffing mixture in the center of each square. Pull up the corners and make a pyramid of sorts with the crescent pastry. Pinch together all the seams, so you can’t see any turkey mixture. Bake for about 14 minutes, or until golden brown.

Nutritional info per serving: 336 calories, 13.5 g fat, 3.2 g sat fat, 21.9 mg cholesterol, 737.4 mg sodium, 35.7 g carbs, 9.3 g total sugars, 0.4 g dietary fiber, 15.8 g protein.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I’ll be whimpering in the corner over my sad, sad baking skills

It was Liz’s birthday last Friday! (If you don’t know who Liz is yet, click here.) And she had a fantabulous party on Saturday in celebration of her birth—or as I like to think of it, her hatching. I’m pretty sure she emerged from a dinosaur egg as an adorable little troll doll. Anywho…

Yeah, I poop rainbow sprinkles, too. But only when I've visited Cold Stone Creamery.
THIS was her birthday cake. Her cousin Ren made it. He goes to the Culinary Institute of America. The Unicorn Cake class must be amazing there. Seriously, I’m in love with this cake. Because I love unicorns…AND sprinkles. And it reminds me of this.

But most of all, I love this cake, because when I make a cake, it turns out like…
It's the thought that counts, right? RIGHT?!
So, I made spinach and artichoke dip instead. I would share the recipe, but...umm...it might be easier to just look on the back of a Knorr's Vegetable Mix package. I also wrote a song for Liz while I was in the shower today!
“She’ll make you
Laugh a little
Gag a little
Maybe give you Staph a little

That’s the story of…
That’s the glory of Liz.”

Obviously, I just substituted a few choice words for the song, “The Glory of Love.” I know it from when Bette Midler's character sings it in Beaches, specifically this part. Seriously, you should go watch that clip! Imagine Liz in that costume. It’s awesome.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Lazy Dinner: Part 2

It’s true. I cook a lot more than I used to. But sometimes, I just want to freaking eat.

Not cook.


When this happens, Jon usually comes home to all of the contents of the fridge sitting on the cabinet.

“Leftovers night!” I scream before he can ask the hated, “What’s for dinner?” question.

But sometimes there aren’t any leftovers, which either means I’m eating cereal for dinner or making something incredibly easy. This is where pasta comes in. I love pasta nights for lazy days; it takes little to no effort to make and it's always warm and tasty. But pasta can get repetitive, which is why I tried to spruce it up last time. Here’s what I came up with:

I bought frozen tortellinis instead of regular pasta to mix up the regular spaghetti with pasta sauce routine. And buying frozen is a good choice because, like dried pasta, it can be stored for months, which means that you have it on hand the next time the thought of cooking makes you want to stab someone. After boiling (tortellinis take less than five minutes, even when frozen), serve with store-bought tomato or pesto sauce.

Then pair the tortellinis with a vegetable or salad, and this Zucchini-Garlic Toast. In the time it takes your water to boil and the pasta to cook, you can make this bread and take the boring pasta dinner up a notch, all without having to do much cooking.

Zucchini-Garlic Toast
Recipe adapted from a spring 2008 issue of First magazine.
I took a picture that doesn't completely suck!
Prep Time: 5 minutes Total Time: 10 minutes
(It usually takes me so much longer to make a recipe than the “total time” listed, but this bread really only took 10-15 minutes to make.)

1 loaf Italian bread (about 12”) cut lengthwise into 3 slices.
1 small zucchini, halved and shredded
1 cup shredded 5-cheese Italian blend
3 cloves garlic (I was super lazy and just substituted a few sprinkles of garlic powder.)
1 Tbs. chopped roasted red peppers (I didn’t have any of these on hand, so I left it out. I’m sure the peppers really add to the flavor, though, so include it if you can.)
½ Tbs. chopped fresh oregano (Go for dried if that’s what you have in your cabinets!)

Heat broiler. Broil bread 3 minutes, turning once. In bowl, combine remaining ingredients; season with salt and pepper. Place grilled bread on foil or baking sheet. Top each bread slice with 1/3 cup of zucchini mixture. Broil toast 1 minute, or until cheese is melted. Cut diagonally into 2”-inch thick slices.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Casserole Crazy? Indeed.

After living in a cinder-block prison cell my freshman year of college, I was ecstatic to move on to a roach-infested apartment-style dorm in Chinatown. This was back in my non-cooking days, but even then I was excited to have a real kitchen. So my new roomies and I decided that we should take turns making everyone a meal once a week. Kristin usually made pasta (delicious pasta with lots of vegetables, I might add). And I remember Liz making chili with imitation (soy?) beef and blue pancakes (also yummy stuff).

I always made casseroles.

I am truly a casserole freak. I really, really, really like casseroles (especially tex-mex ones). So I was excited to learn that someone has deemed my favorite dish worthy of its very own cookbook.
Blair can haz casserole book, plz?
Emily Farris, a fellow lover of casseroles, has compiled a list of upgraded casserole recipes from friends and family, as well as a few celebrity chefs like Paula Deen and Bobby Flay, in her new cookbook Casserole Crazy: Hot Stuff for Your Oven. Farris is a young urbanite and a fun-looking gal (she hosts an annual casserole competition in Brooklyn), so I’m sure the book will be filled with classy recipes and quirky commentary.

You can check out her blog for more information, as well as a few of her original recipes. And if you’re interested in buying the book, it’s available on Amazon. Unfortunately, I’ll have to wait until after the holidays to splurge on this one, but I can’t wait to get my hands on it!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Liz, The Modern Day Hunter-Gatherer (and some-time comic)

Broken Kitchen 1-Breakfast (Click for enlarged view)

Say hello to Dudette in the Kitchenette's very first comic (!), drawn by one of the very few people willing to listen to all of my crap and frequent life complaints-Liz. She was a little jarred by the upbeat nature of my blog, so her hilarious comics about kitchen thrift will be appearing regularly to add a much needed blend of dark and disgusting to my barrage of cupcakes and rainbows. In her first Broke Kitchen comic, Liz lays out a plan for eating a balanced (or at least, protein-rich) breakfast. If you're having trouble reading the print, click on the picture to see a larger version. Check out Liz's blog, Lizbot, for more humor in the form of haikus and various musings.

Btw, thanks Liz!!! You rock. :)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Pizza Delivery Guys Aren’t Hot

No, really. They aren’t.

(No offense, guys.)

You usually don’t find yourself opening your door to find some Brad Pitt look-alike handing you a perfect, steaming-hot pizza exactly 30 minutes after you order. In reality, you're calling the pizza place an hour after your pizza should have been delivered. You stumble to the door delirously when someone finally knocks, grumble at Joe the Plumber (who simultaneously pulls off the Joe the Pizza Delivery Guy and Joe Six-Pack graveyard shifts) and shell out $25 bucks, only to realize you didn't get what you ordered after he's driven away.

So put down the phone. Unless you’re throwing a birthday party for your kid (or yourself!), there’s no excuse for ordering in pizza.

At least, you won’t have a good excuse anymore after you try this recipe. It’s super easy, and you can make it in the amount of time you’d have to wait for a delivery. Plus, it’s healthier than what you can get from a chain restaurant, because you control what you put into it. This pizza is loaded with veggies, but I still recommend giving it a try even if veggie pizzas aren’t your thing. I’m a plain cheese girl myself (I only like toppings if I’m eating at Rod’s Pizza back home), but I have fallen in love with this recipe. Goodbye Pizza Delivery Guy!

Four-Veggie Pizza

Adapted from August 2008 issue of Prevention.

(Excuse the crappy photo. Obviously I lack both basic skill and talent in the photography department.)

Time: 35 minutes + standing time (this will take more time if you’re really slow at chopping like me.) Servings: 4

1 thin whole wheat pizza crust (12” diameter) Ex: Boboli ¼ sundried tomato pesto sauce (I use jarred pasta sauce, because that’s what I usually have handy.)
1 small zucchini, sliced (about 1 cup)
1 medium orange or yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips (about 1 cup)
1 cup sliced cremini or button mushrooms
½ medium red onion, thinly sliced (1/2 cup)
2 tsp olive oil
2 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
¾ cup quartered grape or cherry tomatoes
½ cup thinly sliced FRESH basil leaves (seriously, don’t leave this part out! And make sure to use fresh basil leaves. Soooo good!)
pepperoni slices (optional. I add them for Jon.)

(A picture of the veggies, just because the colors are so vibrant. Seriously, that yellow pepper was neon. Also, I used squash instead of zucchini, because the Farmer's Market didn't have any. Squash works just as well, though.)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Put crust on baking sheet or pizza pan. Toss zucchini, pepper, mushrooms and onion with oil. Place in medium skillet over medium-high heat and sauté until veggies are soft and excess liquid has evaporated, about 6 to 8 minutes. Spread sauce over crust and sprinkle with fresh basil. Top evenly with cheeses. Arrange sautéed vegetables over cheese and top with tomatoes. Bake 18 to 20 minutes until crust is baked through and slightly crisp. Let stand a few minutes before cutting into quarters.

Nutrition info per serving (1/4 pizza) 301 calories, 16 g protein, 42 g carbs, 7 g fiber, 11 g fat, 3 g sat fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 600 mg sodium.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Free Cupcakes!!!!

*Nibble, nibble* Don't judge me!Breaking News: all my Manhattan peeps stop by Crumbs today for a FREE cupcake. I just got back from picking up a Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcake with my friend, Liz-the genius who found out about the cupcake give-away. I can't vouch for all locations, but I know they're giving them away at the 501 Madison Avenue store, between 52nd and 53rd streets. Woohooo!

(On the left is my Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcake. I might have already been nibbling on it before I remembered to take a picture. Liz's Cookies and Creme is on the right. Yum!)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Subway PSA-Get the Small Fries, Fattie

Every transplant New Yorker eventually learns that ads on the subway serve a higher purpose than blind, mindless consumerism-promotion. Most often, the ads save you from awkward eye-contact during rush hour; after all, reading about Dr. Zizmor's latest laser skin treatment discounts beats staring at the stranger standing 2 inches in front of you. Sometimes, though, subway ads offer much more than distraction and avoidance.

Take this ad for example. I saw it yesterday on the 6 train, and I thought it was kind of hilarious, kind of awesome. It spoke to me. "Get the small fries and the diet soda, fattie!" it said. (Ok, not really, but that's what I felt like it was saying to me.)

Anyway, the ad really states "2000 calories A DAY is all most adults should eat," above pictures of two McDonald's-esque double cheeseburgers served with fries and sodas. Look closely and you'll see that one double cheeseburger is served with large fries and a regular soda (and packs 1250 calories), and one comes with small fries and a diet soda (I took this picture with the crappy camera on my phone. Does the burger on the left say 670 or 620? Either way, those fries are serving up some killer amounts of calories.)

This ad is seems to be another facet of New York City's campaign against obesity. Earlier this year, the New York City Board of Health mandated that chain restaurants in the city must put calorie information on menu boards and menus. Ever since those calorie counts have been popping up, I noticed that I've been eating less junk. (Mostly at Starbucks. I can't get over some of the donuts and muffins having 400-500 calories! D'oh!) Do you think knowing how many calories a meal from a burger chain is packing would stop you from eating it, or at least cause you to change your selection to something with fewer calories?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

If this is lazy, then count me in.

So, I’ve been a little lazy with my cooking lately.

I think it’s a matter of Halloween and Election Day preoccupation that’s been soaking up my energy. But sometimes good things come from slacking on dinner. Behold:
Mmmmm…grilled cheese and tomato soup with a mountain of shredded mozzarella cheese on top. I’ve made this twice in the last week or so (like I said, I’ve been slacking). Obviously, canned soup paired with American “cheese” slices on Wonder Bread isn’t gourmet, but it is some serious comfort food. Plus, when you get home from a long day at work (or from a draining interview, in my case), you can make dinner and be plopped down on the couch in 15 minutes—less if you heat the soup in the microwave.

And it’s cheap. Until I find a job, cheap is very, very good.

Give a shout-out to your favorite comfort foods in the comments!


If you haven’t seen it already (which you probably have, because I’ve been telling everyone I know!), go check out Jezebel’s post on election day party treats. Special thanks to Hortense for including my Pretty Please Don’t Pick Palin Peach Pie in the line-up. I have a huge Jezebel girl crush, so this feels like Santa Clause came early or something.

And good luck to everyone who’s going to the polls today!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Pretty Please Don’t Pick Palin Peach Pie

Why yes, I too am amazed that I managed to work politics into a food blog…

In all seriousness, I don’t usually wear my politics on my sleeve (or on my buttons or my graphic print t-shirts. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!). But in the case of Sarah Palin, I can’t help but loudly declare my distaste. Her hate-mongering and feminist-squashing scare me and my ladybits. So it might sound strange that I decided to make a pie with her moniker dominating the title.

Believe me, I have my reasons and my inspirations. Actually I had two extra pie crusts and some frozen peach slices from the farmer’s market chillin’ in my freezer, and I thought, “Hey! I should make a peach pie!”

Please keep in mind that I had never made a pie before, and…I don’t really like fruit pies? Chocolate pie with meringue, however…

Anyway, I had set my mind on making a peach pie, even if I had very little desire to eat it. Plus, I was inspired by the film, Waitress, an adorable movie about a waitress (played by Kerri Russell) with a miserable life and a knack for making pies. While the pies in the movie mostly look delectable (especially the one with blackberries and raspberries in a chocolate crust), one of the best parts of the film is the pie names. A few favorites: “I don’t want Earl’s baby pie,” “Baby screaming it’s head off in the middle of the night and ruining my life pie,” “I can’t have an affair because it’s wrong and I don’t want Earl to kill me pie.”

Hence, my very own pie named after an incredibly resilient source of misery—“Pretty Please Don’t Pick Palin Peach Pie.”

It would be awesome if people took this pie to their election night parties next week! And for all of you going to a McCain/Palin election night party, you could change the name of the pie to something Palin positive…I guess…if you absolutely had to.

Pretty Please Don’t Pick Palin Peach Pie

From All Recipes (the recipe below is a combination of this recipe and Laura M.’s comment)

1 package pastry for a 9-inch double crust pie (or just buy two pie crusts like I did!)
1 egg, beaten
3 cups sliced, peeled peaches
2 cups blueberries (You can go with all peaches—you’d need 5 cups—or add the blueberries for a twist. I really liked the subtle sour taste the blueberries added.)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ cup all-purpose flour
1½ cup white sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line your pie plate with one crust and brush with some of the beaten egg. Place the sliced peaches and blueberries in a large bowl and sprinkle with lemon juice. Stir gently. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Pour over the peaches and blueberries and mix gently. Pour into the pie crust, and dot with butter. Cover with the other pie crust, and fold the edges under. Flute the edges to seal or press the edges with the tines of a fork dipped in egg. Brush the remaining egg over the top crust. Cut several slits in the top crust to vent steam (or a heart like I did. I think it makes the whole thing seem a little less malicious and more "folksy!"). Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and bake for an additional 30 to 35 minutes, until the crust is brown and the juice begins to bubble through the vents. If the edges brown to fast, cover them with strips of aluminum foil about halfway through baking. Cool before serving. This tastes better warm than hot. I actually preferred it when room-ish temperature, but everyone has their pie preferences! Enjoy!

P.S. I sent in my absentee ballot today! I'm no longer a voting virgin!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

It’s Officially Pumpkin Season

I don’t do pumpkin pie. I don’t like to eat it, and I don’t like making things I’m not going to eat, so…I don’t do pumpkin pie. BUT! I do love pumpkins. It’s a superficial love, since I mainly value them for their decorative and carving possibilities, but it’s something. In fact, I made the BF drive me all the way up to Yorktown Heights (about 30 miles upstate) to handpick my pumpkins this year. We went to a delightful (and ridiculously crowded) apple orchard, Wilkens Fruit and Fir Farm, where they grow their own fruit and firs, and they throw pumpkins from giant crates into a field for an “all-natural” pumpkin patch! Whatever, I was still pleased. A fake pumpkin patch is still more exciting than the pumpkin bin at A&P.

(Jon checking out the selection of mini-pumpkins)
So we carved them a few days back, and while I’m not quite obsessed-enough to carve out the insides and make a pumpkin pie, I did scrape out all the seeds to roast! They turned out SO yummy. I used a recipe (kinda) from All Recipes. I love these websites because there are tons of great recipes, but also because people can leave comments with crucial tips and suggestions that can make the end result better and my life easier. So here’s a mash-up of the recipe I looked at, and a comment by a pumpkin seed connoisseur, Tracy.
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin Seeds (however much you can dig out!)
Salt (or any other seasoning. The recipe suggests Cajun, which sounds kinda awesome, but I just used salt.)
Vegetable Oil or Pam spray

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Smooth out seeds onto baking sheet. You can rinse the seeds if you want, but I left mine with a little pumpkin goop for added flavor. If you don’t rinse, just make sure you get all the strings and most of the gunk off of the seeds. Then coat the pan and seeds in either Pam or vegetable oil. Add desired amount of salt (or other seasoning) and mix. Pop them in the oven and cook for 45 minutes or so, taking them out occasionally to stir. Turn off the oven and leave them in for another 30-45 minutes while the oven cools. Then consume heartily.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Haha! Get it? No? Oh.

This is random, and has nothing to do with food. I simply feel the need to share the reasoning behind some of my pop-culture references in various posts. Memory is a bizarre thing, triggered by strange, sometimes seemingly unconnected words or events. Associations with food and smells are especially strong for most people, so most of the time I have no control over what springs out of my little brain. Some references are so obscure that you wouldn't know what I'm talking about unless you frequented the Malvern, Arkansas Western Sizzlin' in the 90s and played with the fortune-telling quarter machine in the front entrance. And some are more obvious, especially if you love David Bowie. This is the song from the 1986 cult classic, Labyrinth, that I reference in my Chili post label. Is there a method to the madness? I like to think not.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Drumroll, please!

I now give you…

the first recipe!

I’m not sure why I haven’t posted a recipe yet. I’ve been cooking up a storm since June. Better late than never?

Anywho! It’s starting to get chilly in my neck of the Hudson, which makes me a wee bit sad, but there’s always something good that comes along with the cold—hot, gut-warming, slurptastic soups.

In this case, it’s not quite a soup, but a chili! I’ve already made this particular recipe twice in the span of a month or so, which probably has something to do with its name—3-bean Chili. I have a soft spot in my heart for beans. My sister, Kirby (who also took the picture below), and I made this chili as an early birthday treat for our dad on my recent trip to Colorado. Kirby had something fancier in mind, but once I mentioned to Dad that I had a recipe for Mexican Cornbread, all bets were off. We had to switch gears and find an entrée suitable enough to grace the table with the precious cornbread.

Read on for this simple, quick chili recipe and a cornbread concoction that both my father and my boyfriend can’t stop raving about. (Seriously, you should have seen their faces. Ecstasy.)

3-Bean Chili

From the September issue of Family Circle. Find the recipe online here.

Makes: 8 cups Prep: 10 minutes Cook: 19 minutes

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium-size onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 sweet bell peppers
1 medium-size zucchini, trimmed and diced
1 can (14½ oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (8 oz) no-salt-added tomato sauce
¼ cup ketchup
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15 oz) small white beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15 oz) red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
Grated cheddar cheese (optional, but totally recommended!)
(Also, if you want to add 1 lb. ground beef or turkey like we did for my dad, be sure to add another can of tomato sauce and some water, as well as extra seasonings.)

Heat oil in a large nonstick pot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and chili powder and cook 3 minutes. Add peppers and zucchini and continue to cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in tomatoes, tomato sauce, ketchup and oregano. Cook 8 minutes. Gently stir in the beans. Cover pot and continue to cook 3 minutes. Serve with cheese.

I love that magazines are providing nutrition info now too!
Per Cup: 203 calories; 4 g fat (0 g sat.); 11 g protein; 39 carbs; 12 g fiber; 678 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol.

Spicy Skillet Cornbread

I think this is from an old issue of Working Mother magazine, circa fall/winter 2007, while I was an intern there.

Makes: 8 servings Prep: 10 minutes Bake: 20 minutes

2 medium-size ears of corn (or about 1½ cup of kernels…sometimes I get lazy and use canned corn, which tastes just as good!)
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup milk
¼ cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 egg
1 jar (2 oz) pimiento, drained and chopped
1 small jalapeno, seeded and chopped
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Place an 8-inch ovenproof nonstick skillet (I totally use a cake pan!) in oven to heat. Cut kernels off corn and set aside. In a medium-size bowl, mix flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a large measuring cup, combine milk, buttermilk, butter and egg; add to flour mixture and stir until blended. Fold in corn, pimiento, jalapeno and cayenne and stir. Using a hot pad, remove skillet from oven and coat generously with nonstick cooking spray. Pour batter into skillet and spread to edges of pan. Bake for about 20 minutes or until top is golden and slightly cracked. Cool for 10 minutes. Cut into 8 wedges.

Per Serving: 143 calories; 4 g fat (2 g sat.); 4 g protein; 22 g carbs; 2 g fiber; 364 mg sodium; 36 mg cholesterol.

May I interest you in an intestine? Ogre finger, perhaps?

I LOVE Halloween.

The holiday has nearly perfect timing. When the weather starts to change, officially marking the end of summer, I start to mourn for my popsicles, summer dresses and days boating around the lake back home in Arkansas. And then Halloween comes to my rescue.

Part of the awesomeness comes from the way adults are allowed to run around like lunatics (especially in NYC), dressed up as Superman, a giant baby or the ever-popular Slutoween variety costume. It’s the one day of the year where it becomes socially acceptable to revert back to childhood and play dress-up (unless, of course, you work in Hollywood, where it’s Halloween everyday!). I lean towards homemade costumes, just because it makes the process more festive (plus, you won’t show up to an event in the same pirate wench getup as someone else).

And then there’s the food.

Talk about creative. People go all out when concocting Halloween treats. Back when my bestie, Courtney, and I were in 7th grade, we decided to throw a Halloween party. We put plastic spiders in the ice cubes, which I thought was the coolest thing ever. If I had a party to go to this year, I would definitely be making one of these horrific/awesome dishes they've rounded up over on the FoodieView blog. I mean, Slime Filled Cupcakes from the Black Lagoon?! Nutella-filled pastries shaped to look like intestines?! Brilliant. Just brilliant.

I’ll be going out in my homemade ladybug costume to mingle with the rest of the crazies in the city, but maybe next year...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Terminator, Meet the Margarator

My dad took me to see a Terminator movie once. I literally don’t remember one thing about it (sorry, dad), although that was when I was a teenager and hadn’t fully realized my genetic predisposition to like science fiction, fantasy and other geekery. These days I’m not totally embarrassed to admit I tune in weekly for Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, but it’s still not my favorite show. That prize goes out to the dearly departed Gilmore Girls, among others. (You can expect I will be seeing next summer’s Terminator Salvation installation, but that’s more of a testament to my Christian Bale fangirldom than anything else.)

Okay, marching robotically onward towards the point—last week, while chilling with my dad, he introduced me to Terminator’s distant cousin, the Margarator.
Much like the Terminator is not your ordinary Jetson’s domestic robot, the Margarator is not your ordinary blender. It grinds up your margarita mixture and spits it out at the perfect consistency (and through its spout) and with half the hassle of your, or rather MY crappy old p.o.s. of a blender, which is why I’m filing this under kitchen covet. It is definitely making the Christmas list.

Here’s the smoothie recipe my dad and I came up with while experimenting with the Margarator. Let me know how it turns out…and if you had to toss your conventional blender afterwards to justify stepping over to the steel side.

Mango Smoothies

1½ cup Mango (frozen)
1 cup Pineapple (frozen)
½ cup Strawberries (frozen)
1 Banana
2½ cups Apple Juice
1½ cups Water

Blend well and serve immediately. If your conventional blender has problems with blending so much frozen fruit, try to use mostly fresh fruit and only add enough frozen fruit to get a slushy consistency.

Makes approximately 5 servings, which is about half as much as what's shown in this picture. Don't be fooled by the overflowing last cup, people!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Let me come visit you and stuff my face. Mkay, thanks!

Did you know that you have to cook things differently in higher altitudes? Well, that’s what my Colorado-dwelling dad tells me anyway. I didn’t have any cooking troubles while visiting the Mile-High City this past week, but I also didn’t cook so much. Which is not to say that I didn’t eat.

A lot.

Because I did.

A lot.

In fact, that’s the very first thing that I did after I landed, grabbed my bags from the carousel and plopped into my dad’s car. I was starving because the airline that I flew with doesn’t serve peanuts for free anymore. PEANUTS! for peanut’s sake. I don’t even like peanuts, but I was hungry. I would’ve eaten them. But, noooo, all they had were “lunch boxes,” which cost actual money, of which I only had three lonely little dollar bills, because I already had to pay 15 bucks to check one bag. So I subsisted on the free beverages (cranberry juice for me!) and my travel toothpaste. When my sister, Kirby, and my dad came to pick me up, the first thing we did was eat.

Later that night, I was majorly craving some Krispy Kreme (I associate the delish donut chain with Denver since that’s where I first sank my sweet tooth into one of the confections.), so we drove 30 miles to find an open one.

Obviously, we needed some of these donuts.

The donut documentary we were watching on the travel/discovery/history channel immediately before the donut pilgrimage really didn’t help us to forget our donut longings either.

Now I have decided I need to visit Portland, Oregon for the sole purpose of getting a voodoo doll donut from Voodoo Doughnut, where “The Magic is in the Hole” (Uh huh, that’s what she said).

In the meantime, I can hit up the equally-fantastic-looking Donut Plant, which is right here in New York in Manhattan’s Lower East Side!

So, I ate a ton of food, hung out with my family and indulged in a much needed break from job-searching. Plus, I rode a rollercoaster (yay!), which I followed up with a bag of cotton candy (double yay!). In other words, you can expect to read a lot more about all of my Colorado cooking (and eating) over the next few posts.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Give Me a Quarter, I'll Tell You Your Fortune!

I’m not wild about Chinese restaurants that have the word “buffet” anywhere in the neon title. Nor am I a fan of Chinese food that you can order by number and have delivered straight to your door at midnight. I think it partly goes back to being a kid and ending up in the restaurant bathroom anytime we ate Asian cuisine (thanks, Irritable Bowel Syndrome!).

MSG be damned though, because I still eat the stuff. I can chow down on most Asian foods now (I go crazy for pan fried dumplings), and I’m even able to stomach the crappy Americanized buffet versions—if only because I love my boyfriend and he needs his General Tso’s Chicken fix every few weeks.

But I’m not gonna lie—I do it for the fortune cookie, that cardboard and sugar buttcrack of a cookie that contains the cryptic and curious answers to life’s big mysteries (and some lucky numbers and language lessons, if you’re really lucky).

I had some egg drop soup and chicken fried rice the other night. The food was meh, but I got a good fortune and I’m sharing:

“Success is never final and failure never fatal. It’s courage that counts.”

Perhaps this is a good omen for my never-ending job hunt? And maybe for all of the other people out there who can’t find work while our economy slips further and further into the vat of Chinese buffet chocolate pudding.

Remember Wall Street, giant vats of pudding are kind of like quicksand: the more you struggle to get out of the mess, the further you slip.

Hey! Now that I think of it, that sounds like a pretty good fortune.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Mah Boook

This (points left) is mah boook. In my previous life as a college student, mah boook was just another notebook, albeit much hipper than your average 3-ring binder—note the super kawaii Gwen Stefani and her Harajuku Girls gracing the cover. It was lugged about to classes in my pink backpack and filled with notes about…important things that have already exited my memory (thanks 5-figure education!). Of course, since the notebook is not your everyday, run-of-the-mill, Zac Efron or Hannah Montana juvenile binder, I was obligated to find a higher purpose for Gwen and her girls after my educational journey had ended.

Now it is mah boook for all things coook. Since the beginning of June, I have been filling my little plastic sheet protectors with every recipe I can get my grubby, non-note-taking hands on. I’ve been pulling recipes from magazines (Family Circle is my fave for easy, yummy recipes). I troll around on Simply Recipes and All Recipes specifically to add to the growing collection. Sometimes I call my mom and jot down an old favorite I’m dying to make. I don’t type it up later either; I just throw in the handwritten note to add character to mah boook. It’s a never-ending work in progress. I hope someday mah boook resembles my mom’s book. She isn’t a cook either, but she has a book. And every time we bring out a certain recipe, I’m always surprised to find a little kid’s scrawl of various numbers on the back of the handwritten ingredients and instructions. My mom wasn’t too picky about typing up her recipes either; she just threw in the version written on the back of my third-grade math homework. The best books aren’t just a compilation of all the best recipes, they’re almost like time-capsules of good memories and friends and family dinners.

So, I know it’s not the most original cooking tip in the kitchen, but I think there’s a reason it’s repeated so often. Start filling up your own book with favorite recipes. I slip mine into plastic protector sheets and organize with colorful tabs according to meal course, but the best part is testing out a new recipe and writing down your rating in the margins! And 10 years from now, you may just pull out a recipe and be surprised at what you find hiding behind it.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Let the wild mess begin!

I am not a cook.

I have never studied at a culinary institute, nor have I taken a cooking class at a community college. I’ve never been a part of the food industry at all, except when I’m screaming at the drive-thru at Taco Bell, or just stuffing my face at one of my favorite restaurants in the city. I’ve never been a waitress or a hostess or a dishwasher or a cook. The closest I’ve been to selling food for profit was when I had to make popcorn for a summer job at a wax museum (and the time my sister and I decided to sell cotton candy—made from my kiddie cotton candy machine—during one of my mom’s yard sales). So, there you have it. I’m as far from an expert as you could possibly get.

So what’s up with the blog? Basically, I really, really like food. Lately, I troll around on the internet to find new recipes. I rip them out of magazines and call my mom to jot down old favorites. I have dreams about this one perfect warm goat cheese salad. I also have dreams about fields of frolicking skunks, but that just speaks to my general unhinged-ness.

I’m also unhappily unemployed. I just graduated this spring with a journalism degree, and I live in the greater New York City area, which all add up to joblessness. So this summer while I’ve been job searching, I’ve also been trying to figure out what I want to do with ALL of my glorious (read: excruciatingly boring) free time. I’ve dabbled in yoga, which I really like, actually. I have literally Netflixed every available episode of Grey’s Anatomy and Heroes. I have finally been able to read neglected books that have been waiting patiently on dorm room shelves for four years. (Not that I didn’t love my class reading lists—with the exception of Eat, Pray, Love—but it’s nice to read a book leisurely instead of racing to finish it in one night.) But my biggest summer discovery is that I enjoy cooking.

Before this summer, I always had a sort of pride in my cooking ignorance. I thought that by bucking the 1950s homemaker stereotype, I was somehow more interesting and a better feminist. But seriously, does cooking make you a 1950s housewife? Not so much. It just means that you eat better food (most of the time, anyways). I’ve realized that if I want to be in the kitchen, then crafting a meal doesn’t make me a slave to my stove. There isn’t some government conspiracy (merely institutionalized sexism!) to keep women in the kitchen and out of the workplace. Although, in most families I’m sure it is still the norm for the mother to cook dinner even if both parents work, but let’s not go there.

With all of this time on my hands, I think I’m finally starting to figure out how all of the pieces of my personality fit together…I like to bake little ladylike cookies, but I can still let out the raunchiest burp you’ve ever heard. I’m currently a housegirlfriend (not wife, times are a changin’) and sometimes I even enjoy it, but on a deeper level I’m merely a struggling writer. I obsess over health studies, but somehow manage to convince myself a 5-pound bag of Sour Patch Kids is a good buy. Basically, things are a little messy in my world, and in my kitchen.