Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Asparagus Pee-ple

My sister, Kirby, bought me the Kawaii Not book of comics last year (which I lurve, seester), but I never looked up the website until a couple of weeks ago.

And I found this...

which I find appropriate to post now because I had asparagus on Monday, and well... you know.

And for those of you who don't think your pee smells after you eat asparagus, it does, you just can't smell it. No seriously, read this if you don't believe me.

(Click picture for a larger version.)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

No Fart Jokes, Please.

It’s not that I don’t find bodily functions funny. I’m as immature as the next 22-year-old (maybe more so). But I can’t take anyone making fun of beans. They are dear to me. I don’t know how else to say it except,

I freaking LOVE beans.

So that fact, coupled with my Arkansan-upbringing should make it a no-brainer that I am a huge fan of red beans and rice. In general, Cajun cooking is right up my alley, but I’m quite picky. Seafood is not an option, and quite a few Cajun staples revolve around fishy flavors. So as a kid, while everyone else chowed down on Jambalaya and fried catfish, I always migrated towards a hearty helping of the red beans and rice.

The following recipe is one of my favorites so far. And, the magazine it came from listed it as only costing approximately $3.00 per serving, which my budget very much appreciates at the moment.

Red Beans and Rice

Originally appeared as a slow cooker recipe in Family Circle.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small green pepper, finely chopped
1 rib celery, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1½ teaspoons Cajun seasoning
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ pound dried red kidney beans
1 large chicken bouillon cube
3 cups water
½ pound light kielbasa, cut into ¼ inch half moons
¼ teaspoon black pepper
3 cups cooked white rice

Rinse beans and pick over. Then bring to a boil in 3-4 cups of water. Boil 2 minutes, then take off stove and let sit for one hour with lid on. (If the instructions on the package of your dried beans differ, follow those steps here.) When beans have sat for an hour, put back on stove and simmer in large pot while you follow the next steps. Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium-size skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, green pepper and celery. Cook, stirring, for 7 minutes. Add garlic; cook 1 minute. Then scrape contents of skillet into pot to cook with the beans. Also add Cajun seasoning, oregano, thyme, bouillon cube and some water, if it needs it. Then allow the mixture to keep simmering (covered, with lid tilted to let out steam) for 1½ to 2 hours. When beans are tender, stir in kielbasa and black pepper. Cook until heated through. Serve over rice.

Makes 6 servings.

Per Serving: 344 calories; 8 g fat (2 g sat.); 8 g protein; 48 g carbohydrate; 11 g fiber; 890 mg sodium; 24 mg cholesterol.

Still Broke, Not as Bored, More Cupcakes

I still don’t have a job. Obviously you would know if I did, because I would be singing about it every waking moment, to everyone and everything. Just believe me when I say that you would know.

But, I have managed to trick some people into letting me write for them.

And now I’m hoping I can trick you into reading it!

It’s a bit long, but if you stick with it you get a surprise at the end. A special, special cupcake-filled surprise. (Really, it’s just an interview with the owners of Crumbs Bakeshop, which is…uuummmm…awesome!)

So either go here or here to check it out. It’s the same story, just two different newspapers/websites.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Could this be? More cupcakes?

So either Blogger is being a jerk, or I just don't know how to use it. (Considering my computer skills, I'm going to guess it's something I'm doing wrong.) Either way, the photos looked strange and wouldn't stay in place when I uploaded them all into one post. are some more Martha Stewart cupcakes. Enjoy!

Brownie Hearts on Chocolate Brownies with Basic Buttercream and Handwritten Valentines on One-Bowl Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Glaze. Ah, the obligatory Valentine’s Day spread. Props for including a cupcake for brownie fans!

Strawberry with Strawberry Buttercream. This was included in the Valentine layout as well, and it looks DELICIOUS. Valentine’s Day, my birthday, Groundhog Day, whatever. I’ll take a dozen, please.

Last, but certainly not least—the cutesy cupcakes. That hedgehog on the lower left-hand corner kills me. Look at his little almond prickles! And the black section of the sunflower cupcake is actually chocolate-covered sunflower seeds. I know someone who would probably nibble those off quite gleefully.

I would nibble on any of these gleefully.

(As I said before, I wasn't able to find online recipes for all of these. Click on the highlighted ones to be directed to the proper recipe on the Martha Stewart site.)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

All you need is...cupcake

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the February issue of Martha Stewart Living gives us what we need to spend that day (and every other day) happily ever after—cupcakes. And since we all know these would turn out disastrous in my incapable hands, I’m giving them to you in pure, Martha-perfected form. You may now commence with the ogling and drooling.

Pistachio and Raspberry Cupcake. The nut and fruit combo of this cupcake make it seem more like a muffin to me, but I like the originality. It’s certainly different than your average sprinkle and frosting variety.

Peanut Butter with Peanut Butter Frosting and Jelly. I’m not a fan of peanuts in general, especially when they’re smooshed into a paste, but this is too darn cute. That jelly pocket is genius.

Chocolate Chip with Chocolate Chip Frosting and Banana with Caramel Buttercream. These are the two that I am most likely to make. And eat.

(I wasn’t able to find recipes online for every cupcake pictured. Ones that do have recipes are highlighted. Click the links for recipes from

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Resolutions—like wishes—only you have to work to make them come true!

But...but, I don't have a bike. Or a car!!! Then what are my resolutions?!It’s January 20th and I still haven’t come up with any New Year’s resolutions. Pathetic, I know. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve had any resolutions in about four or five years. I think my last one was in 2004 in my senior year of high school, right after I got early acceptance into NYU. It was something along the lines of “Don’t flunk out of college.”

While I could probably think of a million resolutions I don’t care about or ever intend to keep (dieting? Umm, yeah. Right. Saving money for [insert something special here]? Yes…with my nonexistent income. You get the picture.), I’ll spare you and share something that floated into my email inbox a few weeks ago. I receive daily email newsletters from Ideal Bite, a website that dispenses easily digested tips on how to slowly green your lifestyle through small steps. Ideal Bite calls its tips, “bite-sized ideas for light green living.”

During IB’s “Resolution Week,” the emails focused on eco-friendly New Year’s resolutions, and one resolution was something even I can add to my “list”—eating a vegetarian meal at least once a week. According to IB, “Livestock accounts for 18% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions and 8% of water use - and a meatless diet is 50% more effective at cutting CO2 than switching from a standard car to a hybrid.”

So, even though I’ve never been able to cut meat out of my diet completely—although I was a chicken-etarian for several years—eating a vegetarian meal once or twice a week is a simple compromise. Not only does it save me some money on groceries, I can feel a tad bit better about my carbon footprint. I’ve already started incorporating the meals into my weekly lineup. This week I have several meat-free meals planned. Don’t tell Jon, though. He really loves meat, especially the red kind.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Bitty, A Self-Reliant Form of Nourishment

It’s well past time to post another awesomely disgusting comic from Liz! And this time, the subject is close (literally, as well as figuratively) to my heart…and my gag reflex. Although, I must admit I laughed out loud for several reasons. See for yourself!

Have a Holly, Jolly Stuff Your Face Fest

Christmas is long gone, but I still have to post recipes for all the delicious treats I made, because:
1) I feel like bragging.
2) I really wish the cookies and fudge were still around.
3) You can make this stuff any time of year.

So, I did a ton of baking, as the long list of recipes show. And I probably ate a majority of what I made, with the exception of the biscottis (those I made for my mother’s stocking, and she said they taste wonderful with the coffee from her new coffee maker. Testimonials, I have them.).

I made Dish Pan Cookies and Fudge (FUDGE!!!), with Jon’s grandparents one morning. They were nice enough to let me help them, even though I completely botched an egg-custard pie. No seriously, it cooked for like 4 hours and never got past the runny stage. Not good. Luckily, I did not burn the fudge. I might have cried if I had. And no one wants to see that.

No one.

As for the ‘Sploding Snowball cookies, since everyone calls them different things—snowballs, wedding cookies, cocoon cookies, etc.—I decided to name them for their exploding effect. Touch one too hard—explosion of flour and powdered sugar all over the floor. Don’t nibble on one delicately enough—explosion in your face. And yet, they taste so good if you can hold onto one long enough to get a taste.

Dish Pan Cookies
From Bill and Shirley, my BF’s awesome grandparents

4 eggs
2 cups oil
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. vanilla
1 Tsp. salt
2 Tsp. baking soda
4 cups all-purpose flour
1½ cups uncooked oats
4 cups cornflakes

Cream eggs, oil, brown sugar, granulated sugar and vanilla together. Sift flour, soda and salt. Add to mixture. Fold in oats and cornflakes. Drop teaspoons of dough onto greased cookie sheet. Bake for 7-8 minutes at 350 degrees.

Makes: A LOT. You’ll be eating these for weeks, which isn’t a bad thing, I promise.

Chocolate Fudge
From Bill Jones, AKA Jon’s Pappaw

¾ cup (1½ stick) margarine
3 cups sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 package (12 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 jar (7 oz) marshmallow crème
1 cup chopped nuts
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix margarine, sugar and milk in a heavy 2½ to 3 qt sauce pan. Bring to a full boil, stirring constantly. Continue boiling for 5 minutes over medium heat or until candy thermometer reaches 234 degrees. Stir constantly to prevent scorching. (This is an important step! Stir the entire time and have someone help if your arm gets tired. Bill was my stirring partner there in the end.)Remove from heat and gradually stir in chips until melted. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour into greased 9 inch square or 13X9 inch baking pan. Cool at room temperature. Cut into squares.

Makes 3 pounds.

‘Sploding Snowballs
From Lori Sander, my mom’s BFF-izzle

2 sticks margarine, creamed
2½ cups sifted flour
2 Tbsp. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups chopped nuts

Add all ingredients together. Mix well. Roll dough into small ball shapes and place on a cookie sheet. Bake at 325 degrees until light brown. (This part is a little bit trial and error, but keep a close eye on them and take them out if they start to develop cracks.) Cool slightly, then roll in powdered sugar.

Cherry-Pistachio Biscotti
From the November 2008 Family Circle

2¼ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup light-brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup dried cherries, chopped
½ cup pistachios, chopped
3 ounces milk chocolate, melted

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Mix flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Beat butter, sugar in second bowl until creamy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. (Definitely do it one at a time. I added both eggs together and the dough was a nasty, lumpy mess until I busted out the electric mixer.) Add vanilla. Stir in flour mixture. Add cherries and nuts. Gather dough in a ball; divide in 2 halves. With floured hands, roll dough into two 12-inch logs. Place on a large ungreased baking sheet. Flatten logs slightly so each is 2 to 3 inches wide. Bake at 375 degrees for 23 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to rack to cool. Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees. Cut loaves into ¾-inch-thick slices (about 16 per log). Place, cut-side-down, on sheet. Bake 10 minutes. Turn over; bake an additional 10 minutes. Cool on rack. Dip one end in melted chocolate; let dry on waxed paper.

Makes about 2½ dozen
Per cookie: 95 calories; 4 g fat (2 g sat.); 13 g carbs.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Make Marshmallows, Not War

Behold the Holiday 2008 edition of the SkyMall catalogue. Luckily, I had already finished most of my gift shopping before Jon and I headed back to Arkansas for the holidays. So, I didn’t have to resort to picking out ridiculous gifts from the free catalogues found in the seat pockets on the plane. If you’ve ever been bored enough to browse said catalogue, you know the drill. It usually has interesting, overpriced and completely unnecessary gadgets and gizmos that your dad would probably love as a gift (sorry, dads, but it’s true; you have a lot of unused gizmos, just like I have a lot of unworn shoes).

So I couldn’t resist picking out a few of my favorite unnecessary, overpriced items. Here are my four top picks that no kitchen is complete without!

The Marshmallow Shooter. For those times when you need to shoot the marshmallows into your hot chocolate from 30 feet away. And as the description boasts, “unlike other marshmallow blasters—it comes with an LED sight that projects a safe beam of red light to help locate a target for accuracy.” So you can hit even the smallest of mug openings! Obviously, this is a bargain at just $24.95.

The Marshmallow Bazooka. Unlike the marshmallow shooter, this bazooka is made for war not hot chocolate. It shoots jumbo marshmallows up to 40 feet, obviously for when you want to pound your enemies with edible treats. Because, who wouldn’t want to lay some sugar on the opposition? (On a side note, wtf? Does SkyMall really love shooting marshmallows at people, or is this some weird trend I have yet to catch onto?)

Italian-Style Pizza Oven. In theory this is like a fondue set; you and your friends sit around and have fun making your food together and creating mini pizzas! And yes, while it is adorable, it’s also $129, and it’s one of those things that you’ll use exactly once and then it will sit in a closet for five years until you finally decide to throw it out in the garage sale. So get a fondue set instead for, like 20 bucks.

The Pop-Up Hot Dog Cooker. Looking at this really skeeves me out. Just imagine the moment when everything pops up. Ding! Then again, if you eat hot dogs every day, this might be a good buy for you. If not, just use your toaster oven or a microwave. Or, just stop eating hot dogs altogether.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Welcome to my happy place, the world of silly snacks!

That's my seeester, hiding behind those cookies. Where's mine COOOkies?!It’s a well-known fact that I like to snack. I love snack-foods of all kinds (except for most flavored potato chips and any sort of meat product that’s been rendered chewy and dehydrated…aka beef jerky, deer jerky, fish jerky, etcetera). And when I’m in foreign locales, I love sniffing out local candies and snacks and developing unhealthy obsessions with them. So when I took a trip to Hong Kong a few years ago, I came back with a particular love for these little chocolate crème-filled cookies called Koala's March. Technically, the little koala-shaped snacks hail from Japan (of course), but seeing as how I’ve never been to Japan, I associate them with Hong Kong. There’s a Japanese grocery store—Sunrise Mart—in Manhattan’s East Village where I stock up on my Koala’s March and Pucca—little chocolate-filled pretzel things in the shape of fish, also an obsession leftover from the Hong Kong vacay. I usually buy them in November to take to my sister for her birthday. This year was no different except I could only find pancake-flavored! And this is why I adore the Japanese—the creators of Koala-shaped cookies filled with pancake-flavored crème.

P.S. beloved cookies were actually recalled in October 2008, since they were manufactured in China and may be contaminated with melamine. So, even though I love them dearly, you should probably steer clear for a while. Actually, this explains why I could only find the pancake flavor, as those were not recalled, while the King Size and Family Pack chocolate, strawberry, white chocolate and chestnut flavors were. Yeah, thanks China. Thanks a lot.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Garfield has taken over my taste buds.

I tried out this recipe for lasagna a while back (by which I mean, October. Yeah, I’ve been meaning to post about it since then...oops?), and it was DELICIOUS. And since I’m refusing to have anything to do with the kitchen today, I wish I had some of it in front of me right now.

So in honor of my current lasagna craving, and my October ambition in the kitchen, here’s the recipe in all its cheesy, noodle-y, tomato sauce-y glory.

Warning: This lasagna took a while to cook and was A LOT of work, so I don’t recommend this for a weekday dinner, unless you have a severe case of the unemployment boredoms like I do, in which case CARRY ON!

Adapted from Simply Recipes.

1 lb lean ground beef
½ medium sweet white onion, diced
½ large green bell pepper, seeds and veins removed, diced
½ lb dry lasagna noodles (requires 9 lasagna noodles – unbroken)
¼ cup sugar
1 28 oz can tomato sauce
½ 28 oz can stewed tomatoes
½ 6 oz can tomato paste
1 lb Ricotta cheese
1½ lb Mozzarella cheese (large flat square slices)
¾ lb freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Garlic powder
Italian Spice
Garlic Salt
Parsley diced (fresh flat leaf preferred)
1 garlic clove, minced
White wine vinegar

Directions for the sauce:
Brown lean ground beef in skillet until lightly browned and cooked through. Put a few layers of paper towels in large bowl. With slotted spoon remove browned beef from skillet draining off excess beef fat and put on top of blotting towels. After all the browned beef has been removed from the skillet, drain off and dispose of excess beef fat. Wipe skillet clean with paper towel. (If your ground beef is sufficiently lean, there won’t be any excess fat to drain.) Add diced green pepper and onion to skillet. Brown for a few minutes on medium high heat, add browned beef back to the skillet, lower the heat to low and continue to cook for 5 more minutes stirring frequently. Transfer browned beef, green pepper and onions to 3 quart pot. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, open stewed tomatoes and dice, then add. Add oregano, parsley, Italian Spice Mix to taste, probably 2 teaspoons of each. Add a pinch of garlic powder and a pinch of garlic salt, to taste. Add a dash of white wine vinegar. Add sugar a couple of teaspoons at a time, until desired level of sweetness, no more that ¼ cup of sugar. Stir and allow sauce to simmer 15-45 minutes to thicken. Stir frequently and be careful not to scorch the bottom. Remove from heat.

Putting it all together:
Cook 1 lb lasagna noodles in 6 quart pot per cooking directions on box. Stir often to prevent from sticking and be sure that water remains at a low boil during the entire cooking to prevent noodles from sticking. Drain in colander and place in a pan filled with cool water to keep the noodles from drying out and sticking together. Then in a dry lasagna pan, ladle one cup of sauce and spread along the bottom of the pan. Apply a layer of noodles 3 length wise, edges overlapping. Ladle sauce sparingly into center of the noodles. Apply a layer of mozzarella cheese slices on top of sauce. Place ricotta cheese dollops every 2 inches in center of noodles on top of mozzarella. Then sprinkle with a thin layer of grated parmesan. Repeat until you run out of room in the pan or ingredients! Sprinkle the top with grated mozzarella and parmesan. Tent lasagna pan with aluminum foil without letting the foil touch the noodles or sauce. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.

Serves 8.