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