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, 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!