Thursday, July 16, 2009

This little Dudette went to market.

And I totally cried “wee wee wee” all the way home, too.

Out of excitement, of course! The farmer’s market in my town finally opened at the beginning of July, but today’s the first time I’ve had a chance to go. It’s a once-weekly affair, and last week lazing around the apartment in my pajamas took precedence.

There’s really no grand point to this post, except I hope it motivates you to seek out a farmer’s market in your area. Or, if you live in my old stomping grounds—Big AR—then make it a point to stop and check out the roadside produce stands. After long, hot days swimming at Lake DeGray as a kid, I used to love it when mom stopped on the side of the highway and let us pick out watermelons from the old men selling from their truck beds. Hope you find some yummy, fresh fruits and veggies!

Here are my awesome scores: potatoes, lettuce, summer squash, a cucumber, Portabello mushrooms, blueberries, grape tomatoes and a chive plant.

Monday, July 6, 2009


Ok, so I'm not exactly back with a bang. It's more like... back with a fizzle. Besides, it's the Monday after a bang, pop and explosion-filled Fourth of July weekend, so I'm sure all of you have had plenty of excitement already.

So while you're preoccupied, filled with grilled burgers and just trying to get through the workday, I'm going to slink back into this blog unnoticed. Don't worry, I'll try to dazzle you later, when visions of fireworks have disappeared from your heads.

For now, here are some interesting food tips I've been reading. They come from a Food Network notepad that I received as a parting gift at the end of my short stint there back in the spring. Here are a few that I found helpful.

-"Herbs last longer if you remove bands or ties from bunches before storing. Herbs deteriorate from the inside out and along the tie when bunched. Store hardy herbs, thyme, rosemary, oregano, tarragon and sage loosely packed in a paper towel-lined sealed container."

-"Paper or Plastic? Mushrooms should take the paper route because they become slimy when stored in plastic bags. If your grocer only supplies plastic bags, transfer mushrooms to a bowl and cover with a paper towel before refrigerating."

-"Pineapple's peak is March through July. The sniff test rather than plucking a frond will tell you if the fruit is ripe. Turn the fruit upside down and take a whiff--if it has a full fruity perfume, it is ready. Steer clear of ones with any smell of alcohol. A golden shell indicates a softer fruit, better for desserts, and a greener hue points to firmer flesh, better for savory dishes."

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Getting a slice of that Twitter pie

Ok, I’m not really.


And just in case you don’t know (I’m looking at you, mom), Twitter is the biggest, bangiest thing in social networking sites since Facebook and Myspace. Basically, you have friends who follow your tweets, small 140 character posts about what you’re doing, where you are, what you’re reading, etc. People tweet their daily routines, links to blogs, philosophical thoughts, you name it. It’s like mini blog posts for those afflicted with ADHD. (That’s part of my discomfort with the idea—our nation’s attention span seems to get shorter and shorter every day…)

BUT! I will admit that there are some pretty creative and interesting uses for the site. Some cooking and food tweeters have popped up. And while I’m not sure how I feel about the actual site yet, I think this little slice of Twitter pie is good enough to share.

Back in April the New York Times wrote an article about Maureen, a 27-year-old who tweets recipes through the site on cookbook. Think about that. A recipe. In 140 chararcters. Serious editing skills.

From the article: ‘“I do this as a coffee-break hobby,” she said. “Kind of like sudoku. I really get a kick out of how complex a recipe I can fit into 140 characters.”

(Thanks for the tip, Drew!)

And if you’re a fan of the humor blog, Cake Wrecks, which documents “when professional cakes go horribly, hilariously wrong,” check out the official Cake Wrecks Twitter. It’s a great way to get an extra dose of baked goods (preferably the disastrous kind!), and blogger Jen shares links and content that don’t appear on the regular blog. By the way, if you’re not a fan of Cake Wrecks, you should be. Trust.

Have any of you encountered some fun or interesting food Twitters? If so, I wanna hear about it!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Psssst...hey, you!

Shhhh! I've gotta whisper this; this is delicate information.

I'm currently temping for a company that is extremely relevant to this blog. Now, don't wet your pants or anything. I'm just working the front reception desk for two weeks, and no, I don't see Paula Deen or Emeril Lagasse waltz in everyday for work, but still...kinda cool, right?

P.S. Sorry about my absence from the blosgosphere! May has been a busy month. I'm hoping to get back on a regular posting schedule soon. So don't worry, I've been testing out some great new recipes and finding lots of fun stuff to post about so be on the lookout!

Friday, May 1, 2009

My Sadness Leads to Spice Girls, Cake Balls

Liz, my part-time comic-strip artist and full-time bestie, has left the New York Metro Area for greener pastures—well, she will certainly be surrounded by greenery—her far homeland of Connecticut. And since I’ve made, like, two whole other friends after five years in NYC, I’ve been acting like a whiny turd for months. Anywho, I’m drowning my sadness in old Spice Girls songs, specifically:

It’s incredibly apt for this situation, you have to admit.

There was also a wake (errr…going away party) for the departing and beloved Elizabeth. I contributed spinach dip (of course), but I also tried something new—Red Velvet Cake Balls—which you may recognize. Basically, these are the simple version of the Easter Cake Pops from Bakerella. I wanted to make little Liz zombie heads, but I thought I should keep it simple since this was my first attempt. Maybe someday I’ll manage to do more than the basic version.

Word of advice, if you make these—and you should, because census was they were delish—give yourself a lot of time. The directions seem simple, but it is time-freaking-consuming. The cake alone takes about 30 minutes to bake, another 45 minutes to cool. And then there's the rolling of the balls, the chilling of the balls, the chocolate coating of the balls, etc. (Yes, lots of balls. The hilarity of that sentence is not lost on me.) Of course, if I hadn’t started baking at 11pm when I had to get up at 6am the next morning, maybe the time issue wouldn’t have seemed so important. I'm going to blame 2am on the fact that these look a little busted. Thank goodness for sprinkles in the shape of cows, dinosaurs and stars.

Red Velvet Cake Balls
Recipe from Bakerella

1 box red velvet cake mix, baked according to directions on box for 13x9 cake
1 16 oz can cream cheese frosting
1 package chocolate bark (regular or white chocolate)
wax paper or aluminum foil
sprinkles, optional

After cake is cooked and cooled completely, crumble into large bowl. Mix thoroughly with 1 can cream cheese frosting. Roll mixture into quarter size balls and lay on cookie sheet. Chill for several hours, or pop them in the freezer for 20 or so minutes. Melt chocolate in microwave per directions on package. Use a spoon to dip and roll balls in chocolate. Tap off any extra and lay on wax paper until firm.

Makes approximately 40 to 50.

Quote that made my day (creative title this is not)

"They had their cake, loved it, masticated it, chewed it and then became extremely sick from food poisoning."

From Rich Juzwiak, the fabulous blogger at FourFour, in a post about the infamous ladies of 1975 documentary, Grey Gardens, and current HBO movie of the same name starring Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Life Lesson: When cupcakes are involved, it's OK to act like a 4-year-old.

Even though I haven’t had cable TV for almost a year, I manage to spend an inordinate amount of time watching TV shows. I get my fix online, since most networks now provide episodes on their websites. This weekend I decided to catch up with The Gosselins, TLC’s adorable big family. The show, Jon and Kate Plus 8, follows Jon and Kate Gosselin, their twin 8-year-old girls and their 4-year-old sextuplets.

In this episode, the sextuplets turn four and instead of throwing their usual carnival-themed bash, the kids go to a bakery and decorate cupcakes instead. (Btw, I totally have the sprinkles they use. Wut!) The drama doesn’t start until they get home from the bakery (around minute 3:45 in the clip below), and the kids are told that they won’t get cupcakes until they eat their dinner.

Of course, some of the kids—in this case, the three boys—don’t eat dinner and have mini meltdowns when they realize they won’t get their birthday treats. This glorious moment is why I felt obliged to post this clip. Perhaps I’m cruel and heartless but I chuckled to myself when Aaden cries in anguish, “I don’t get my cupcake?!” (at 5:10)

Then again, it probably makes me laugh because I know that in that situation I would scream the exact same words, just with more tears and violence.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Taking Inventory

I realized that the folder for food photos on my computer was becoming unruly, so I decided to organize it today. What I realized in the process was appalling—I have 28 recipes that I have made and have yet to blog about.

The horror! The shame! The… procrastination!

And if I’m going to be truly honest, then I have to admit that there are many more un-blogged-about recipes than that. They aren’t as obvious since I don’t have photos of the finished products. This often happens because I’m STARVING and just want to eat instead of worrying about lighting and presentation. But I know those delicious little meals are lurking in my guilty subconscious, waiting for blogging redemption.

So, in the spirit of being as productive on my blog as I apparently am in my kitchen, here’s a vegetarian recipe that I made a couple of weeks ago.

(Btw, I have SO been keeping my New Year’s resolution to make veggie meals at least once a week. Go me!)

Moroccan Chickpea Stew
From First for Women, 2008

When to cook: On a weeknight when you need a quick meal and you’re sick of your go-to of pasta or baked chicken. This only takes about 20 minutes to prepare, and couscous cooks in 10 minutes or less!

½ cup chopped onions
2 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon Moroccan rub, like the Spice Hunter (I couldn’t find this in our crappily-stocked grocery store, so I used some various spices already in my cupboard…a little ground cumin, thyme, salt and pepper.)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cans (14.5 oz each) fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 can (15.5 oz) chickpeas, drained.
2 cups arugula
¼ cup raisins (Or Craisins, which I used instead because I had them on hand)
¼ cup slivered almonds
Cooked couscous

Heat oil over large skillet on medium heat. Cook onions, garlic and spices in hot oil. When the onions are soft, add cans of tomatoes and chickpeas; cover and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in arugula, raisins and almonds. Cook 2 minutes. Serve over couscous.

Makes about 4 servings. Total cost: $8.58; $2.15 per serving.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The First—and Probably the Last—Time I Post about Kate Moss

Kate Moss and boyfriend Jamie Hince.Fun Fact: I am a connoisseur of celebrity gossip and news. Tabloids like Us and Star are the new generation of soap operas like Days of Our Lives and As the World Turns—it’s just good melodrama and crazy antics without the bad acting (for the most part).

Yesterday as I was reading my gossip blogs, I found something interesting: Kate Moss has been cooking kosher meals for her boyfriend Jamie Hince, from the band The Kills, and now she wants to write a cookbook. From Hollywood Rag: “A source said told (sic) Britain's Daily Mirror newspaper: ‘She's buzzing about the idea of being the first supermodel to release a cookbook.’”


See, I’m not surprised when a 90s-era supermodel launches a clothing line or perfume, stars in her own reality show or writes a tell-all autobiography about her career. (In fact, I encourage these things. America’s Next Top Model is ludicrous and glorious, and I am absolutely addicted.)

But a cookbook, Kate Moss? It’s great that you’re learning to cook, and that you like creating meals! It really is! But your newfound love of kosher cooking does not mean that you should produce a cookbook. Please, please don’t start a new trend of supermodel cookbooks. The world does not need super-skinny people telling the rest of us fatties what to eat.

What do you guys think? Am I being too harsh on Ms. Moss? Would you buy her cookbook, or would you rather purchase one from someone who has a bit more expertise in the kitchen?

UPDATE (04.09): Kate Moss's publicist has chimed in about the cookbook rumors, saying "There is no cookbook. We do not know where it came from but it is definitely false."

Phew. That was a close one. We may all resume our (relatively) guilt-free eating now.

Monday, April 6, 2009

In which I die of an Acute Adorable-Snackage-on-a-Stick Attack

In this edition of cute, squee-inducing food I want to munch on, I present you with Bakerella’s Easter Cake Pops.

There won’t be much commentary (just the gorgeous photos from Bakerella’s site), because I’m dead from cuteness, remember? Really, I just came back to make sure you see this. Yes, these cake pops are so important that I have risen from the dead to blog about them.

The sheep pops are my absolute favorite.

With the Easter Eggs coming in at a close second. The colorful sugar is killing me!

Candy corn ears! The Easter Bunnies are genius.

These bunny foo foo's have tic-tac ears and marshmallow tails.

And finally, the Spring Chickens!

I have convinced myself that, despite my lack of talent in decorating, my shaky, shaky hands and all-around bad coordination, I might try to make some of these. I’ll be sure to post pictures of the mess should I actually have a go at it.

If you want to try them as well, you can find the recipes and all of the candies and materials Bakerella used at the coordinating links. Happy Easter!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Jezebel, Donuts, Traveling: My Three Loves in One Post

Sadie Stein, one of the editors over at Jezebel (my true love!), was featured on the travel-enthusiast site Jauntsetter last week. (Read the original article here.)

What does this have to do with food you ask? Well, Sadie wrote several guest posts, one of which was about eating on the road, and it’s worth checking out. In it, she writes about some of her favorite restaurants and food destinations, as well as online food resources—like Roadfood, which she calls “the ultimate source for time-warp dining.”

And…this is my favorite part:

“I’m a sucker for a good donut and will travel miles for one.”

Yes! A woman after my own heart.

Now, after daydreaming about donuts and traveling while trolling around the Jauntsetter site, I’m officially obsessed with taking a tropical vacation to Costa Rica this summer. It’s infinitely more likely that I’ll sit at home eating an entire box of soggy donuts from the A&P instead.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Yes, It’s Ladies’ Night!

Oh, what a night.

(Ok, I’ll stop quoting Kool and the Gang, but I am going to post the video. Deal with it.)

Last Friday, I had Kristin and Liz over for dinner and a girls’ night. It was actually a big deal because even though we all technically live in the metro-area, it’s a pain to get to one another’s homes (an hour or two of public transportation x 2 = major pain-literally-in the bum). So, I promised them a delicious dinner if they could scrape up the extra train fare it takes to get to my place.

Appetizers are my favorite part of the meal, but I never get to make them, so I decided to make Artichoke and Tomato Pastry Boats for a pre-dinner treat. For the meal, I served Cheesy Rice and Peas (such a classy, classy name, that) alongside pork chops. I wanted to make a fruit topping for the pork chops, but I couldn’t decide between Pear Compote or Peach-Plum Salsa, so I made both. They turned out to be really good, although I think the Peach-Plum Salsa was a bigger hit since it has a surprising combination of the sweet fruit and spicy jalapenos. And I had a little help: Liz brought a yummy baguette to go with dinner, and Kristin brought cookies for dessert, which we broke into as appetizers…and dessert…and then again for breakfast the next morning.

So, everything went smoothly (except for a mishap with opening—or not opening—the wine bottle) and the food was delicious!

While going through the recipes, you may notice that I’ve figured up the approximate cost of making that food. I hope you like the new feature! I plan to keep doing it for everyday meals too, although my stack of grocery receipts is getting a little out of control. Amazingly, this dinner (even with my making two fruit toppings) only cost $15.94 to serve four people. And we had lots of leftovers too! Also, I didn't have time to take pictures of everything, but if you want a visual, just click the links to the original recipes!

Artichoke and Tomato Pastry Boats
Recipe adapted from Working Mother.

1 package of frozen phyllo shells, about 15 in one pack
4 baby artichoke hearts, drained and cut into quarters
2 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into 15 pieces
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place phyllo shells on baking sheet, not touching. Put a piece of artichoke, a piece of mozzarella and a tomato half in each shell. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bake until cheese is melted, about 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 15 pieces. Total cost: $3.01.

Pork with Pear Compote
Pork Chops with Peach-Plum Salsa

Both recipes from Family Circle. See the originals here and here.

Pear Compote:
¼ cup dried cranberries
1 pear, cored and diced
¼ cup chopped walnuts
Pinch ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon sugar

Peach-Plum Salsa (This made a ridiculous amount of salsa; you can safely cut this recipe in half and still have more than enough for four people, so keep that in mind!)
2 peaches, about ¾ pound
3 plums, about ¾ pound
½ cup chopped red onion
2 medium jalapenos, seeded and chopped
½ cup cilantro, chopped
2 Tablespoons lime juice
1 Tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt

Pork Chops:
4 pork chops (boneless, rib, thin-cut, however you like ‘em!)
Sea salt and Pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons butter

Make the Peach-Plum Salsa first; it needs to refrigerate for at least one hour before eating. Pit peaches and plums and finely chop. Place in a medium size bowl. Add red onion, jalapenos, cilantro, lime juice, olive oil and salt. Stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate.

For Pear Compote, soak cranberries in hot water for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine pear, walnuts and cinnamon in a small bowl. Drain cranberries and add to bowl. After you finish cooking the pork chops, then come back to the compote and add the mixture to the skillet you used for the pork chops. Add sugar now, and cook for 1 minute. Remove from skillet and serve with the pork chops.

For the pork chops, melt butter (or vegetable oil) in a large skillet over medium heat. Season one side of the pork pieces with sea salt and pepper, and place the seasoned side down on hot skillet. Season the other side with pepper and salt. Cook time depends on the thickness of the meat; when you can see that the pork is cooked halfway through, flip over the meat and cook for several more minutes. When the pork is cooked all the way through, serve with the pear compote or the peach-plum salsa.

Serves 4. Cost: Pear Compote, $1.56; Peach-Plum Salsa, $5.85; Four Boneless Pork Chops, $2.89.

Cheesy Rice and Peas
Adapted from First for Women.

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon butter
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1½ cups rice
2 cans (14.5 oz each) low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup frozen peas
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

In skillet over medium heat, cook olive oil and butter for 30 seconds. Add onions and garlic; cook 2 minutes. Add rice, stir to coat. Increase heat to high and add broth. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and cover. Let simmer 15 minutes, or until rice is tender. Stir in peas and Parmesan cheese. Cook 2 minutes or until heated through.

Makes 6 servings. Total cost: $2.63

Total dinner cost for four people: $15.94

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Update: My Recipe Book

Back when I first started this blog, I wrote about my relentless recipe collecting and a little thing I like to call My Book (pronounced Mah BOOOk; this is important, so get it right!). Last week I realized that I had been neglecting my recipe cataloguing—the stack of recipes ripped from magazines and printed from the internet started to take over a section of the kitchen counter—so I got out my tape and scissors and got to work.

My Book has now grown into three: the original is now for main courses and sides; one notebook holds recipes of appetizers, soups and salads; another is for desserts and sweets alone. I have a peculiar feeling of accomplishment that my recipe collection is growing so rapidly. I know that this is probably not something to be proud of. Most likely this is an early warning sign that I will one day end up with some compulsive hoarding illness, surrounded my many cats and volumes of recipes.

And yet, I am proud. I just hope I don’t end up on Intervention or some surreal BBC documentary.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Flip-Flop with Meatballs

Something about that title is setting off a signal on my inappropriate radar, but I like it nonetheless.
ANYwho. Let me explain what it really means, because it’s not as dirty as it sounds. You see, my mother loves the type of recipe that lets you prepare several meals at once, or get a head-start for another meal later in the week. I'm sure it’s a favorite concept of most busy parents and workaholics around the country, because it just makes life easier. I am neither a workaholic (yet!) nor a parent (let’s give it 10 years or so), but I’m a huge fan of making my life easier. Le sigh.

I’ve decided to dub these meals flip-flop recipes, because:
A. I’m silly.
B. I think everything is 10 times better with a catchy name.
C. Alliteration rocks.

So, the first flip-flop recipes I’ve come up with are based on meatballs! Begin by making the first recipe for the meatballs. It’s quick and easy to follow, so you can do this on a busy weeknight. Cook half of the meatballs for classic spaghetti and meatballs, and save and freeze the other half to make the second recipe (also weeknight-friendly) later that week or the next!

Reduced-Fat Meatballs

Recipe from Working Mother magazine

1 slice of bread, torn into very small pieces
1/3 cup low-fat milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 Tablespoons finely grated Parmesan
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 pound ground lean beef or dark meat turkey
2 cups tomato sauce
½ pound pasta
Mushrooms or other vegetables optional

Place bread, milk, egg, onion, parsley, Parmesan, salt and pepper in a bowl, and let sit 10 minutes or until the milk is soaked into the bread. Stir gently. Add ground meat and mix well with clean hands, but do not squeeze. Form about 40 one-inch meatballs. Set half to the side, and place the other half in a medium-large saucepan with the tomato sauce. Cover and simmer on low heat 25 minutes, shaking gently every 7 minutes to rotate the meatballs. Do not stir or you’ll end up with meat sauce. Add any mushrooms or vegetables after about 15 minutes and let cook until soft. As your meatballs cook, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to directions. While you're waiting on your pasta and meatballs to finish, place the other 20 meatballs in a freezer-safe container, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Transfer to freezer. When meatballs are frozen solid, about 1½ hours, cover container or transfer them to a plastic freezer bag for easier storage. Now go back to your pasta. Drain. Serve meatball sauce over pasta, with Parmesan sprinkled on the top. Add a salad or vegetable on the side for a complete meal!

Makes about 40 meatballs including frozen ones. The 20 meatballs you cook serves 4-6.
Hearty Meatball Spinach Soup

I have a strong suspicion this recipe came from the back of a cracker box. I can’t remember, but it’s really good despite its humble beginnings (and inferior looks)!

20 pre-made meatballs, no need to thaw
Vegetable oil
¾ cup onion
2 cloves garlic
2 cans (14 oz each) reduced sodium beef broth
1 can (14.5 oz) stewed tomatoes, undrained
1 package (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, well drained
2 teaspoons dried oregano
Saltine crackers, optional

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat; then stir in onion and garlic and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until onion is translucent and tender. Spread meatballs around the pan, and let cook for about 5 minutes, then carefully turn meatballs and let the other side cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add broth, tomatoes with their liquid, spinach and oregano; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through. Serve with saltine crackers.

Makes about 4-5 large servings.

Feel free to share your own flip-flop recipes in the comments! I’m always looking for new ones to try!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

ZOMG!!1! Girl Scout Cookies!

The pictures on these boxes haven't changed since I was selling them twelve years ago...Someone needs a makeover? That was my exact reaction this Saturday when I saw a group of Girl Scouts dressed in their tacky little Brownie vests selling cookies. While my mature boyfriend was getting his taxes done at one of those little tax-people booths, I was reverting back to childhood and panting over the thought of Thin Mints--my all-time favorite.

Needless to say, I bought four boxes.

(Well, Jon bought me four boxes, because I never have any cash.)

But it was a Girl Scout Cookie miracle, because I thought I wouldn’t get any this year. My mom works in an elementary school, so she usually has a ton of students to buy from, which therefore secures my annual box. But this year—this anomaly of a year—no one asked my mother to buy any cookies. I didn’t think I would find any on my own. But I did!

I feel like an adult now that I’ve bought my own cookies. It wasn’t that long ago that my sister and I were wearing our own tacky green sashes covered in patches, delivering cookies in our little red wagon to the neighbors. We were fanatical about our cookie selling, and ended up peddling hundreds of boxes every year. One year, we sold about 600 between the two of us. Look, if you don’t believe me, check out this picture of us organizing our stock in our living room.

I love my cranky Kirby.

Clearly my Girl Scout Cookie love will never die.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Craft and Cake: my heart goes thump.

Unfortunately, the first time I heard about Craft magazine was in an article about its last print issue. As I was wandering around the magazine section of a bookstore last month, I decided to pick up the last issue. It had Amy Sedaris on the cover and I’m a sucker for a Sedaris, so…

The issue takes on parties—what cake to bake, what to stock in your bar and how to put together invitations, decorations and a groovy playlist. I was pleased to find an excerpt from Amy’s book, I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence, because she’s not a typical party host or homemaker. What I mean is, her cakes turn out looking more like mine than say, Betty Crocker’s, and for this, I love her.

Of course, I would be ecstatic if I could decorate a perfect, polished cake, but I know if I make this cake I’ll have a guaranteed conversation-starter. And more time to actually enjoy my party. So, here’s the cake recipe (with commentary from Amy) from the magazine and a photo of the finished mess.

1. Make an angel food cake from a box.
Take your 10” angel food cake and place it on a plate.
This is the only boxed cake I ever make, because to me it tastes just like a homemade one and you don’t have to deal with egg whites. Egg whites intimidate me (for some people it’s phyllo), but either way, the best part of making an angel food cake is that you get to hang it upside down on a wine bottle for an hour, and you can still do that with a boxed angel food cake.

2. Slice the top.
Slice the entire top from the cake, about 1½“ down. Lift off the top and put it somewhere else.

3. Make a tunnel.
Make a tunnel and scoop out the angel food cake.
Now there is a wall; it will look similar to a Jell-O ring mold. Take the angel food cake that you scooped out and put it on another plate.

4. Fill the tunnel.
Completely fill the cavity with either the chilled whipped filling (see recipe below) or with an ice cream of your choice.

5. Replace the top.
Put the top of the cake back on.

6. Fill the top hole.
I like to use the cake left over from the tunnel and stuff it in the center hole.

7. Cover the Cake.
Completely Slather the sides and top with whipped cream.

*Tip: You can optionally include 1/2 c of toasted almonds in the cake cavity and then sprinkle the outside with 1/3c of shaved toasted almonds.

8. Make a decorating tool.
Scoop frosting into a plastic bag, and twist the top tight. Cut the tip off the plastic bag.

9. Decorate the cake.
Squeeze the bag carefully so the frosting comes out, and decorate the top of your cake how you like.
Repeat steps 8 and 9 with different colors of frosting for an elegant, layered look.

10. Enjoy!
Cut the cake and scoop it onto a plate.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Blogger is being dumb

For some reason my posts aren't showing up when I visit my blog using Internet Explorer, but I have no problem viewing them with a Firefox browser. So, if you think everything looks a little wonky, that's is.

Since I've been using Firefox for the last couple of months, I wasn't aware of the problem until yesterday. But when I started investigating, I found that a lot of Blogspot-hosted blogs have been losing posts since about two weeks ago. They're mysteriously disappearing. I think this is a case for Nancy Drew.

Anywho, I hope you guys can use Firefox to read my blog until I figure out how to fix this! You can download it for free here.

Update (March 4): I think I was able to fix everything (yay!), so you should be able to see all of my recent posts ("A Cautionary Tale," "Fortune Cookie Time!" and "Spring Has NOT Sprung") on Internet Explorer now. Please let me know if you start seeing blank posts with only a title again. Thanks!!

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Cautionary Tale

If you happen to be an internet addict like me, then you’ve probably already heard about the newest hit blog making rounds on the internet (in the last week I’ve seen stories in at least five different publications and websites).

This is why you’re fat showcases pictures of disgusting, yet glorious (to some) concoctions that could clog the healthiest of arteries and add instantaneous pounds the thinnest backside. I must admit…I kind of love it, and I kind of hate it.

For instance, my sweet tooth and inner 8-year-old are telling me that the candy pizza is the stuff of dreams.

And my love of donuts in well documented, so I obviously wouldn’t turn away this “Behemoth Glazed Donut.”

But then I can’t visit the site without finding something that makes me gag. Like this:

A giant burger sandwiched between two bacon pizzas. (FYI, bacon and corn dogs/hot dogs and burgers are featured frequently on the blog. Hmmm…I wonder why?)
And I’m not sure why anyone would want to defile a delicious Krispy Kreme donut like this:

Yes, that’s a Sloppy Joe on a Krispy Kreme. For shame!

So, if you’re a glutton (heh.) for guilt and heart-attack inducing food, then perhaps this site is for you. But if you decide to try any of these fine dishes at home, please don’t tell me about it. I don’t think I could handle it.

Fortune Cookie Time!

I haven’t posted a fortune in a while, so I thought today should be the day. So here you are—a little wisdom from the bowels of our favorite cardboard cracker cookie!

“The best way to navigate through life is to give up all of our controls.”

While you’re pondering that, let me just say that I’ve given up control in my kitchen for the evening. I’m letting the slow cooker do all the work. And I concur with the fortune; this might just be the best way to navigate through dinner, if not life in general.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Spring Has NOT Sprung

I walked outside today and a strange thing happened—I didn’t feel like the wind was going to rip right through me and freeze my insides.

This, I believe, is a good thing. Perhaps some people like frozen insides; I prefer mine slathered in sunblock with a hint of a tan. But it’s also a little sad, because in a few days February will be over. March will march on in and take over, leading us out of our winter caves towards spring. More importantly, chili—winter’s official food—will take a backseat to more summer-friendly fare. Everyone will start shedding their chili cravings like they shed their cable-knit sweaters.

So, I suggest that we all take advantage of these last few February days (and maybe some of the March days too?), and get our chili on.
The following recipe I found on a fellow food blogger’s site, after having some serious cravings for a green chili, or Chili Verde, I tried while visiting my dad in Colorado. The pork and tomatillo base is a great change from the traditional beef and tomato, but you still get that familiar chili torso warming.
Also: The grocery store near my apartment in New York has a great selection of produce and ethnic foods, so I was able to find the chiles and tomatillos pretty easily. But every store is different, so you may have to go to a Mexican/Spanish foods store to find some things. However, when I was in Arkansas, I checked at the Kroger in Hot Springs, and they had a better selection of tomatillos and chiles than my store ever has. I was quite surprised…So, like I said, it really just depends.
Chili Verde
Adapted from Meathenge

When to cook: on a weekend or a leisurely day, when you’re not rushing to get dinner on the table.

1½-2 lbs pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 poblano chiles, charred, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
2-3 lbs fresh tomatillos, husks removed
1-2 cans of chicken broth
1 large white onion, chopped
6 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon sea salt
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon cumin
Monterey Jack Cheese or Goat Cheese (both taste fabulous with this)
The original recipe suggests that you char the skins of the poblano peppers for maximum flavor potential. I suggest you do this, even though I couldn’t. The only open flame I could find was by lighting a candle, and that wasn’t very efficient. After you char the peppers, set in a paper or cloth sack for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, de-husk the tomatillos and wash. Pat dry and put in a roaster pan. Broil in oven until a bit blackened. Check every few minutes so you don’t burn them completely. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet. Cube up pork shoulder into approximately 1-inch cubes, and brown in pan. Add the minced garlic towards the end of the meat’s cooking cycle, and set aside when finished. Then sauté the chopped onions and put meat back in skillet. Turn heat to low setting. When the tomatillos are blackened and collapsed (they should be fairly squishy and juices should be running out of them), put them in a food processor or blender and chop up a little; then add to meat. At this point the pork, onions, tomatillos and juice from roasting pan should all be in the skillet, simmering on a very low heat. If you charred the poblanos, remove from bag and use a butter knife to scrape off the charred skin. Then chop up the chiles and jalapeno (be sure to remove the seeds), and throw them in the skillet. Add in the cumin, salt and pepper. Then add broth. Depending on how long you’re going to simmer the chili, you may or may not need to use both cans of broth. If you only want to simmer for about an hour, then don’t use two cans, but if you plan on letting it sit for a while, add both. Cover with a lid and let simmer for one or two hours. Serve with chopped fresh cilantro and cheese on top and with a warm tortilla on the side.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Peace Offering

I’ve been a neglectful blogger, I know!

(In my defense, it has been a crazy week.)

Anywho, I have a peace offering for my neglect—yummy, yummy Oreo-filled truffles. Last week, my baking buddy, Lindsey, invited me to come over and help her make these little Oreo chocolates as a Valentine’s surprise for her boyfriend. I couldn’t refuse.

Be warned though, these truffles are absolutely addictive. And the following recipe makes a lot of them…and after you’ve downed all 30 while watching an America’s Next Top Model marathon on VH1 (Hey, it happens!), don't say I didn't give you fair warning.

Oreo Truffles
Recipe adapted from RecipeZaar, although credit goes to my Aunt Carolyn, who introduced me to the Oreo Truffle at our family Christmas party this year.

1 package regular size Oreo cookies, very crushed
1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1 package white almond bark (we used regular white chocolate chips, since we only used the white chocolate for drizzling)
1 or 2 packages chocolate almond bark (we used both semi-sweet and German chocolate baking chocolate bars instead)

Using a blender or hand-held mixer, mix Oreos and cream cheese together. This might take a while if you’re using a hand-held mixer. Keep blending until there are no Oreo chunks and you have a smooth consistency. Roll into Walnut size balls and place on a cookie sheet. Chill in the fridge for an hour, or sit in the freezer for about 10 minutes if you’re in a hurry. Melt chocolate according to chocolate instructions. Stick a toothpick into an Oreo ball and dip it in the melted chocolate. Place on sheet of wax paper. You can dip all balls into the regular chocolate or you can dip half in chocolate and half in white chocolate. (We chose to dip all in regular chocolate and drizzle with white chocolate.) After all are dipped, drizzle with remaining chocolate and white chocolate. If you want to decorate with sprinkles, be sure to do it before the chocolate dries and hardens. Devour.

Makes approximately 30-35 candies.

And just because these things turned out so cute and Lindsey took such good pictures, here are some more images to enjoy! P.S. Those giant heart sprinkles were L's idea and they really just made the truffles that much more awesome!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A few words about Valentine’s Day, because obviously, I’m an expert on this crap.

I’m a sucker for Valentine’s Day. I know it’s annoying and completely commercialized, but…I do love chocolate truffles and conversation hearts, so what can I do?

My approach to Valentine’s Day has always been to be cheesy and go all out. The trick is to not take yourself too seriously. For example, for our first Valentine’s Day together, I convinced Jon that we should write each other corny, ridiculous poems. We didn’t buy any gifts, we just dusted off our dormant “Roses are red” skills. And the poems were funny, heartfelt and sweet. To me, that’s the point of the day.

That, and candy.

We took care of the candy part last year. For some reason, we were sharing a brainwave and bought the same thing for one another—a heart-shaped box of chocolates.

With all the chocolate taken out.

In place of the chocolate we both bought the other’s favorite candies and filled the spaces. Mine was full of Sour Patch Kids, Snowcaps and bite-size Twizzlers, and his was packed with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Circus Peanuts. I thought it was perfect—thoughtful, personalized and tasty.

Because ladies and gents, if there’s anything you can learn from Valentine’s Day, learn this: the way to about 99 percent of the population’s collective heart is through food.

(Or, a gift certificate for a pedicure and full-body massage. Ahem. Just sayin’.)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

What you might come home to if you’re dating the Hamburgler.

I saw this hamburger bed on Jezebel last week, and I just had to share it with my fellow foodies! If I were still somewhere between the ages of 5 and 15, I would probably be begging my mother for this. (Besides, she still owes me for giving away our PeeWee’s Playhouse chair-Chairy-at a garage sale.) Although, considering I never got one of those race car beds or a FAIRY PRINCESS CASTLE BED, I’m assuming that my rational mother would also deny me the luxury of sleeping nestled between a sesame seed bun and a slice of American cheese, my head supported by a succulent pickle.

P.S. I may or may not be hyperventilating over the castle beds in that link. The hand-painted ones, specifically. Le sigh.

Monday, February 9, 2009

T.V. Dinners, and Not the Kind You Microwave

I was trolling around on the internet the other day, as I tend to do about 90 percent of the time and I found a fun article on It’s slideshow of some of the most popular restaurants, diners and bars ever on prime time. Cheers, Friends’ Central Perk, Monk’s Diner on Seinfeld and Moe’s Tavern from The Simpsons were all featured. A good list, sure, but I felt like I could add to it since my viewing habits don’t include any of those shows. Here’s what I came up with (with help from Lucy and Liz!):

Luke’s Diner from Gilmore Girls. There is still a gaping hole in my heart from the cancellation of that show. If Stars Hollow actually existed, I would take a road trip and get some of Luke’s infamous coffee. And in true GG style, I might just order everything else on the menu to go and veg out during an obscure movie marathon. Seriously, Lorelai and Rory could EAT.

The Hub from That 70’s Show. Jon and I are on a That 70s Show kick. We’re Netflixing them all, currently on Season 2 out of…oh…8. Anyway, hanging out at The Hub and witnessing some crazy Hyde and Fez hijinks would be fun. Yes, yes.

The Max from Saved By the Bell. Kirby and I used to watch these reruns every day after we got home from school. Oddly enough, I don’t remember much about the show, except the entire theme song. And that they always hung out at the really awesome diner after school. Oh, and that feisty Lisa Turtle was SO much cooler than Kelly Kapowski.

Honker Burger from Doug. When I was a kid Nickelodeon had some of the best (and weirdest) cartoons (Ren and Stimpy? CatDog? The Angry Beavers? ROCKO’S MODERN LIFE???? Weird stuff). In this one, sixth grader Doug Funnie and his friends Patti Mayonnaise and Skeeter Valentine hung out at the Honker Burger. Plus, there are all kinds of random food references in the show. Doug’s dog is named Porkchop and his favorite band is The Beets, famous for their hit song, “Killer Tofu.” And who can forget Quailman?

And that’s all I/we could think of. Feel free to add your favorite T.V. restaurants, diners or bars in the comments!