I knew I was in trouble when I spent $30 on baking supplies. Now granted, I was at Star Market, which has ridiculously high mark-ups (it was six dollars for a disposable pan – ONE disposable pan!), but still. The first recipe comes from Martha Stewart cupcakes and were such a hit that I agreed to make them again for the banker to take to work. The second recipe I found via Pinterest and made for a dinner with the neighbors. I think if given the opportunity I could have eaten the entire thing myself.
First up, Cookies and Cream Cheesecake Cupcakes:
Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed, then add 1/2 cup of sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Beat until combined.
Peanut Butter Pie
Both of these desserts were a hit and as you can see, fairly simple to make. What is your go-to dessert? I’d love to hear!
I don’t really make New Year’s Resolutions, but I do want to get in the kitchen more this year and I have a few specific goals in mind. I’m really good at making vegetarian food and I’m really good at baking, but my repertoire of carnivorous dishes is very low. Like, two to three “signature” dishes low. I wouldn’t say this needs to change, exactly, but I want it to so that I can entertain without always serving vegetarian fare. I’ve enlisted the help of a few friends to teach me their favorites, but if you have a favorite recipe please share it with me!
I decided to start easy with one of my signature dishes and it was definitely a hit. I actually cannot believe I have never shared these recipes on the blog before! I made Chicken Parmesan and Eggplant Parmesan using Monjuni’s sauce. The one bad thing about these recipes, especially if you don’t have a dishwasher (ahem), is they make a bit of a mess. But they aren’t terribly difficult and they are very impressive so I consider them wins. Here we go, in pictures:
It is best to have this little station set up because things are about to get a little crazy. Heat oil (I like sunflower because it is good for high heat) in the largest pan you have. Keep in mind that eggplant absorbs oil like crazy so it works best to do just a little for each batch. For the chicken I put a quarter- to a half-inch in the pan.
Dredge slices of eggplant or chicken in the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs. Pan fry until golden brown.
In a 9×13 pan spread a thin layer of Monjuni’s sauce or your sauce of choice. Layer the chicken or the eggplant and place thin slices of mozzarella cheese on top. When my mom makes this she just uses sliced cheese and that really is more convenient (and tastes great!). I used fresh mozzarella and it was kind of a pain. Repeat this – sauce, eggplant, cheese – until you have used all the eggplant. For the chicken you will obviously only have one layer. Pour sauce over the top and bake covered in a 350 degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes.
Done and Done. Serve with pasta.
What is your favorite comfort food to make or eat? Have any divine meat or seafood recipes to share? I’d love to hear!
In my family we love to bake and eat sweet treats. Come Christmas time, the Stevens house looks like a bakery for the amount of items in various stages of completion. Everything we make is homemade but there are a few treats that always impress and are a hit that take almost no time to make. Since they can be adapted for any season (and we do adapt them for any season) I thought I would share.
These Reese’s cookies are a cinch to make and everyone loves them. You will need a mini-muffin tin, peanut butter cookie dough, and miniature Reese’s cups. You may also want seasonal sprinkles and muffin paper liners. If you want to be super fast, use pre-made cookie dough. No one will be able to tell the difference and you save yourself the time and effort of making homemade dough. Line muffin tins with paper cups. Roll cookie dough into one inch balls and place in each cup. Bake at 350 degrees for 7-9 minutes or until the dough has risen and filled the cup. While these are baking, unwrap the Reese’s cups. Do not wait for the dough to cool. Immediately press one Reese’s cup into each cookie. Add colored sprinkles, if you desire. Wait for them to cool before removing from the pan otherwise you will make a mess.
Covered Oreos take a little more time but are still easy to make. You will need seasonal oreos, Almond Bark, sprinkles and waxed paper. This treat is made a little easier with the help of a chocolate melter but it isn’t necessary. You can melt the Almond Bark on low heat in a non-stick pan. Once it is melted, use tongs or a fork to cover each Oreo with melted chocolate. Place on wax paper to cool and add seasonal sprinkles while still wet. Done and done.
These Nutter Butter ghosts are cute and festive. As a bonus, just add two miniature pretzels to the top and you have reindeer for Christmas. Just like the oreos, melt Almond Bark. Dip 3/4 of each Nutter Butter in the chocolate and place on wax paper. Add two chocolate chips for eyes and allow to cool.
You can pick up cute Halloween treat bags at Target or a paper supply store and make homemade goody bags for trick-or-treaters. Alternately, you can just throw them on a plate and bring them to work or your next function – they won’t last long!
What’s your favorite easy baked good? Have any treats that you always make for Halloween?
I haven’t done recipes in awhile and I guess I was subconsciously making up for it because I have three to share with you – actually food recipes too, not just cocktails! I wanted to pull out my I Heart Trader Joe’s cookbook, for one, because I hadn’t done that in awhile. Then I wanted to make the pie from The Help – it was in my hometown newspaper and my grandmother sent me a copy. I was going to use the second pie shell (yeah I bought pre-made… you can judge me but the recipe totally called for it!) to make a quiche but was too lazy to thaw it and made a frittata instead. As always, I did this mostly in photos.
Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup with Pesto Gnocchi
I picked this because I was in the mood for both roasted red peppers and pesto but as it turns out, it is the world’s simplest soup to make. I feel kind of dumb even sharing this as a recipe but whatever, everyone is busy and wants to eat well on a time-budget, right? If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s you can pick up the ingredients at any grocery store.
Simplest ingredient list ever, right? You just heat the soup and stir in 4 ounces of mascarpone to make it creamier. While that is heating, boil water and dump in as much gnocchi as you want – I did 2/3 of this package (about 2 cups) for 4 bowls of soup. The gnocchi is cooked when it rises to the surface, which takes 2-4 minutes. Drizzle pesto into each bowl and add cheese if you want. Done and done!
Minnie’s Chocolate Pie
Next the chocolate pie from The Help! If you saw the movie or read the book, you may be staying away from chocolate pie but I’m a Stevens girl – we never say no to chocolate! There are probably some copyright issues with me sharing the recipe, but you can find it here. This recipe was pretty easy, especially since it called for pre-made crust. Sadly, my crust fell to pieces and I had to put it back together Humpty-Dumpty style.
Verdict? Pretty delicious! I burned the crust a little bit, as you can see. This tasted like Grassroots Fudge Pie, if you have ever had it. It’s got almost the texture of a mousse and I think it would taste even better in a graham cracker crust. Worth making, but I probably would use the Grassroots recipe if I made it again.
This recipe is also very easy to make and one I use a fair amount. Frittatas are a great way to fit in protein if you are a vegetarian and are like the quiche’s healthier cousin. No crust means fewer carbs and calories but the same taste of a quiche.
Saute the vegetables you want to use until they are not quite cooked – they will finish in the oven. Mix the eggs and milk with salt and pepper. Add cheese and vegetables. Pour into a pie plate and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. You can also make these in muffin tins for easy grab-and-go breakfasts. They only need to bake 7-9 minutes in that case.
What have you been cooking lately? Any dishes that you only make in the fall? What does it take to get you back in the kitchen when you feel like nothing but take-out? I’d love to know!
September for me is always a month of transition. From a (more) relaxed summer into a vigorous school year, from shorts to skinny jeans, and from gin to whiskey. Okay so the last one isn’t exactly true, but I do find my palette changing with the seasons. I rarely eat pasta in the summers but something about fall beckons for heartier recipes. We found a version of this vegetarian penne in Taste of Home years ago and I’ve been making it ever since. I like that it is hearty, but the vegetables make the calorie count a lot lower than traditional pasta dishes. I use jarred sauce to save time and add ricotta for some protein and fat.All photos by the lovely people at Peapod for Shop and Stop.
Combine the two (veggies and pasta) and serve with a salad. It takes 20 or so minutes and you’ll have plenty for later in the week. Done and done.
For cocktails I thought I’d share the classic (but awesome!) Old Fashioned. There are about a hundred ways to make this trusty cocktail from the 19th century, so I’ll just share my favorite:
- 2-3 ounces of rye whiskey or bourbon
- Angostura bitters
- 1 sugar cube
- 1 orange slice
- 1 cherry
Muddle the orange slice with the sugar and a splash of water or soda. Add bitters and whiskey. Shake or stir to combine (it really doesn’t matter) then serve in an old-fashioned glass with the cherry.
Do you find your tastes changing with the seasons? What’s your favorite fall recipe? Fall cocktail? I’d love to hear!
Apparently cooking comprises all of my time these days. That is not really true but it IS the only thing in the past week or so that is legal appropriate worthy of a blog post. I’ve been doing a lot of reading, which is insignificant except for this gem:
My favorite novel, the French edition. I’m learning to read French (relatively easy) and then meeting with a tutor to learn to speak (not so easy). I’m also meeting with a friend to hash out the finer points of the English version because she is (gasp!) writing a potential screenplay. I’m so excited all around. I HAVE done a lot of cute things with my nannying charges but after that whole random family ends up in an ad in Czech deal, I’m a bit wary of adding any photographs. On to two recipes, depicted …
Pre-Drinks Dinner and A Cocktail
When Mod and I drink we like to eat dinner after, so this “pre-drinks dinner” is perfect – light yet filling. It is a veggie lasagna-style dish that uses eggplant instead of noodles.
A Lovely Summer Cocktail
Not Pictured Important Step: Make Rosemary Simple Syrup!
Simply combine equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add fresh rosemary sprigs or make a teabag of dried rosemary. Let steep for ten minutes. Discard the rosemary.
Done and Done.
Laura did this food survey as a Vlog awhile back and it took me ages to watch, not because she is in any way boring, but because I cannot sit still for 20 minute Youtube videos. Hell, I cannot sit still for 3 minute Youtube videos! Anyways it fit with the theme so here we go. I must warn you (if you haven’t been able to tell) that I have become a ridiculous food snob. I was always a snob…now it has extended to food. “WHAT you don’t have omelets made with organic free-range humane certified eggs and organic humane certified raw milk’s cheeses?!?! UGH…” Yeah I’m that girl. Not always but … often.
A: is for Apple, what’s your favorite variety?
Braeburn all the way! I don’t understand this obsession with Honeycrisp, Fuji, and Gala apples; I think they taste gross.
B: is for Bread, regardless of nutrition, calories, or whole grains what is your favorite type to have a nice big piece of?
Marble! You know, the swirl of pumpernickel and rye? Love it.
C: is for Cereal what is your favorite kind currently (just one!)
I don’t eat cereal, though I do like BOLA granola on top of my greek yogurt sometimes.
D: is for Doughnuts, you might not currently be eating them but what kind do you fancy?
I know they would make me vom but I adore Southern Maid donuts and twists.
E: is for Eggs, how would you like yours prepared?
Omelets and Quiches please.
F: is for Fat Free, what is your favorite fat free product?
Ummm? Fruits and vegetables, obvi.
G: is for Groceries, where do you purchase yours at?
Whole Foods Market thank you very much. I know I am a broke-ass graduate student but the other day I put myself through the hellacious experience of Market Basket and I swear to God I spent the same amount of money. Never again.
H: is for Hot Beverages, what is your favorite hot drink?
Tea. I’m a huge fan of Yerba Mate, but any loose leaf will do.
I: is for Ice Cream, pick a favorite flavor and add a fun topping.
Mint Oreo from J.P. Licks with rainbow sprinkles.
J: is for Jams or Jellies, do you eat them, and if so what kind and flavor?
I love Lemon curd which isn’t actually a jam or jelly but serves the same purpose. I eat Adriatic Fig Preserves and Tart Cherry Preserves with cheese, orange marmalade on toast.
K: is for Kashi, name your favorite Kashi product?
Hmmm… I have not bought a Kashi product in ages! They have this pumpkin flax granola bar that I remember being pretty tasty, though.
L: is for Lunch, what was yours today?
I had homemade pad thai; it was ridiculously good, even cold because I was too lazy to reheat it. See next question.
M: is for microwave, what is your favorite microwave meal/snack?
I literally threw away my microwave about two weeks ago. Honestly I was over it. I know that sounds bizarre, but whatever. It was a hand-me-down and a few weeks ago when I heated something for the designated time and it melted all over the place I recycled the glass microwave plate rather than clean it so the microwave had it coming.
N: is for nutrients, do you like carbs, fats, or proteins best?
Fats I think! I am a big fan of cheese, olives, and avocados.
O: is for oil, what kind do you like to use?
Extra virgin olive oil for salads, sunflower oil for high-heat endeavors.
P: is for protein, how do you get yours?
Greek yogurt, organic soy milk, lentils, whole grains … I am bad about taking the time to cook/eat protein though. Improving this is a goal!
Q: is for Quaker, how do you like your oats?
I was introduced to “groats” this weekend which were delicious but I really like my oats as granola. Bowls of oatmeal make me sick to my stomach.
R: is for roasting, what is your favorite thing to roast?
S: is for sandwich, what’s your favorite kind?
Cheese and pickle, the British sandwich I picked up in Oxford and have eaten non-stop ever since. Find the recipe here.
T: is for travel, how do you handle eating while traveling?
I once went 36 hours on nothing but green tea and soy milk because I was surrounded by “obesity on a stick,” sugar, and fat people (Heyyo, Houston airport). I know how betchy that sounds but it was true! There was nothing remotely healthy in that place and by the time I arrived at my emergency hotel room I was over it and ready to go to sleep.
Normally I am not this high-maintenance. I don’t mind “bad” for you foods, I just want them to be quality bad for you foods … not so much to ask I don’t think! I’m pretty easy to travel with when food is concerned anyway because I don’t feel the need to eat every hour on the hour like my precious little sister. ;P
U: is for unique, what is one of your weirdest food combos?
Cheese and pickle sandwiches I think.
V: is for vitamins, what kind do you take?
Some vegan blend I picked up at Whole Foods, sea algae and probiotics when I remember, Adora calcium disks when I remember to buy them, and L-Taurisine and Taurine as the natural component to my prescription medications.
W: is for wasabi, yay or nay?
Meh … not so much but I don’t hate it.
X: is for XRAY. if we xrayed your belly right now, what food would we see?
Usually nothing but I just came from a fantastic dinner at my neighbor’s house so you would see a bevy of fresh produce (including stuffed tomatoes!).
Y: is for youth, what food reminds you of your childhood?
Curious question! I have plenty of “Kid’s staples” (I ate a lot of Tyson chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, etc) but two big ones stand out. Kraft Singles and mayonnaise on white bread. That would be the sandwich I brought to school every day. I know. Please go read my above ridiculousness then come back here to look incredulously at your screen. Also cheese whiz. WTF!? Yeah we had this ridiculous Shoney’s breakfast buffet that I LOVED and they put this fake cheese sauce out for the scrambled eggs which I also loved (I was a fat child). Somehow my grandma determined that it was the same as Cheez Whiz and would always buy it to put on my eggs. It wasn’t like Cheez Whiz at all but I didn’t want to tell her.
Townhouse crackers and Easy Cheese remind me of swim meets growing up as well.
Z: is for zucchini, how do you prepare it?
Depends on how lazy I feel. Usually I just throw it in the oven to roast but sometimes I saute it on the stovetop.
Answer any of the Food A to Z questions you would like and let me know your favorite pre-drinks dinner and favorite cocktail please. Stay cute!
I told you awhile back that I planned on making some adventurous things in the kitchen this summer, yes? My first step (after the homemade mini-cakes) was samosas. If you don’t know samosas, get a basic idea here. I brought them to a potluck and a few to my neighbors and both places they received great reviews. SADLY I did not have my camera around so I only have this one sad lonely iPhone shot.
Next on the agenda came last night. My grandmother sweetly sends me different articles and recipes featured in my hometown newspaper. I love getting mail and I love seeing what goes on in that town so both are accomplished this way. She sent me a recipe for ratatouille au gratin which looked amazing. I put it on my refrigerator to remind myself to make it sometime.
I went to Whole Foods to buy groceries and picked up a bevy of organic, mostly local produce – sidenote: Who the hell am I?! - and around 9 PM last night felt inspired. When I studied at Oxford we had all of our meals served to us but lunch was most casual. They always had these various vegetarian dishes that included vegetables, pasta, a bean/legume/pea, cheese and a sauce. I decided to combine this memory with the Ratatouille au Gratin and see what happened.
I started with this:
All of that eventually (with the help of Sunflower oil) became this:
Then created this:
I simmered the two while I made Risotto pasta like Laura taught me. Then I combined the two and topped with aged Gorgonzola and Herbs de Provence. As a final step I baked it uncovered in a heated oven (heated to 350 then turned off) for a half-hour to give it a lasagne texture (thanks for that tip, Frenchman!).
FM (my neighbor btw) also created the dessert cocktails we savored on the porch – a recipe he insists upon keeping secret but they were delicious.
I planned on making Green Tea cookies but ran out of time so that is up next.
That is all I have for now my loves but I would love to know: what are some of your favorite summer night recipes? Favorite summer cocktails? I’ll be checking in later this week but until next time stay cute! xoxo
From Blackjack to cocktails on the deck, weekend jaunts to Maine and frolicking by the Charles, this summer’s forecast looks extra-WASPy. It isn’t all fun and games of course – we will also be learning conversational French and brushing up on our etiquette by schmoozing with professors at dinners. … Oh wait. In any case, when you live like a WASP you dress like a WASP (only better because many of them have heinous personal style). The staples carrying me through this season?
Clockwise-ish Left to Right: J. Crew Favorite Tank in assorted colors, $18; Deletta Pinched Tunic (whatever it is totally a dress) at Anthropologie, $58; American Apparel T-shirt dress, $34; J. Crew Perfect Shirt, $72, especially this and this; Sperry Topsiders, $75; Sam Edelman Sandals, $60 at Nordstrom; Cole Haan or Tod’s driving loafers (prices vary); TOMS $44; Perfect Short 3″ inseam, J.Crew, $43; Lucky Brand swimsuit, $122; Becca Swimsuit, $132; Swimsuit Cover-up, Anthropologie, $78; Boyfriend Jeans, Gap, $70.
These choices are great for the beach house, picnics, and shopping but what about those days when the dress code gets a bit nicer? Nights at the Symphony or American Repertory Theatre or boating in the Harbor? We simply add these things to the collection…
American Apparel Maxi-Dress and Belt, $58 and $34; Artist’s Rendering dress, Anthropologie, $188; J. Crew Rumi Dress, $118; J.Crew Castaway Dress, $90; Pink skinny jeans, Banana Republic $90; Milly Ruffle Cami, $212; Madewell Embroidered Dot Top, $135; Athena Blouse, $118 Ralph Lauren Cecilia Peep-Toe Raw Silk Espadrille, $79; Indigo by Clark’s Pocomo Strappy Sandals, $99; Cole Haan Stephanie Air Open Toe Pump, $299;
And of course we would be nothing without accessories.
Anne Klein Watch, in white for $55; Miller Harris Terre de Bois (an impossibly exclusive, unisex woodsy scent), $140; Mint Julep Indian Scarf, $72; Yurman Two Drop Infinity Gold Earrings (I DIE), $975; L.L.Bean Boat and Tote, monogrammed of course, $37.95; a big ass sunhat, Fiora Bella $112.
See you on the Coast!
What are you wearing and doing this summer? Have exciting plans? Do they look drastically different from my own (and would you like to do your own Summer Staples guest post?) I’d love to hear!
PS Want to get in on the fun? We are spending the Fourth of July cruising in the Boston Harbor with a full bar and the amazing and good-looking DJ T-Rex. It will be fabulous and I can get you tickets if I like you.
I should first tell you that the title comes from the popular blog. If you have never seen it go check it out now. Now that that is out of the way…So many ridiculous things happen to me that it’s hard to know when to share them and when to pretend to be somewhat normal. Example?
In the span of 24 hours the following happened:
1. I wanted to rearrange my room – as in move all the furniture – and in the process managed to break not one but TWO bookcases. These were $200 each, heavy as shit bookcases even when empty so I don’t know how the hell I broke them (emptied). Fortunately my engineer neighbor Steve has a plan to fix them but in the meantime my apartment looks like a factory exploded.
2. I successfully held up like 3 lanes of traffic on the Mass Turnpike for a good 5-10 minutes because the operator wanted to take me out.
3. A giant 2 inch spider affixed itself to my wall. Then just as I went to kill it — my tightly fisted Bounty speeding toward the intersection of ceiling and wall — the serial killer took a flying hail Mary leap towards my face. Every time I went to get it I’d pull back my heavy curtains see it’s beady, multifaceted eyes and go “Yahh!” drop the curtain then berate myself for being such a goddamn girl. This was at 2:30 in the morning after I babysat. Jess finally told me to barricade the beast in my bedroom and sleep on the couch then deal with it in the morning. One of the moms I nanny for suggested I vacuum it up using the attachment. I go into the room, prepare myself and, I can’t find the Dahmer anywhere. WTF. It probably laid eggs just to piss me off and I’m tempted to spray something poisonous all over the place but Yoda would probably eat it and then we’d have to add weak stomach to the list of vet bills.
SO…when not engaged in the above, I actually spent this weekend on a lot of hobbies. There is so much MORE to show you but I’m starting with the kitchen. It started when I was out of about every kitchen staple in the world. I joke without really joking that Yoda eats higher quality food than I do and it is true. When I remember to eat I am often too lazy to do simple tasks like make a sandwich or scramble an egg. So I end up eating Greek yogurt a lot (pretty healthy) or things like handfuls of granola (not so healthy).
I’ve resolved to change this by buying higher quality foods and taking the time to cook. I enjoy cooking and I have a bit of skill, so there is nothing stopping me. After I put away my groceries I realized Laura would be SO proud of my refrigerator were she in Boston. She would actually be proud of my pantry too but I haven’t organized it so no pictures.
Top Shelf: Organic Half and Half, Organic 1% milk, Organic 2% Chocolate milk; about six different cheeses for a cheese plate including sheep’s, cow’s, and goat’s milk cheeses (many of them raw); Brita water pitcher, a bottle of Club Soda, a bottle of French soda (Blood Orange), Italian mineral water, and a bottle of Prosecco. Not fitting with the theme is an Eggplant, Olive Mix, and fruit preserves.
Middle Shelf: Tofu puffs (for stir-fry), Ranier cherries, Organic Romaine, water-grown tomatoes, fresh whole wheat bagels, Tandoori Naan, spinach, organic seedless cucumber, kosher black and white cookies*
Bottom Shelf: Vital Farms eggs, organic plain Greek yogurt, organic raspberries and blackberries, organic peaches, black beans, zucchini, roasted red peppers, ginger ale made with organic cane sugar (instead of HFCS what what!), baby bella mushrooms, fresh ginger, organic cream cheese and fresh green peppers.
Not Pictured (drawer, door, and freezer): Haricot Verts, Mediterranean blend vegetables, yellow potatoes, yellow onions, and pesto.
Not Pictures (messy pantry): Bola granola, raw pumpkin seeds, raw sunflower seeds, walnuts, coconut, chickpea flour, dried cherries, black beans, brown rice, whole wheat angel hair.
**Why do cookies need to be classified as Kosher? I bought them from the bakery because they looked delicious.
CLEARLY I stocked up! I am making vegetable samosas, raita, and pakoras as part of my “Summer 2011 of Awesomeness,” then the rest are staples I can use to make yogurt parfaits, pasta dishes, rice dishes, salads, etc. Speaking of, the next thing I made…
I’ve been sprucing up my apartment to make it a bit airier and light for the season. I loved this tablecloth and already owned the placemats, napkins, and coasters. On the table is my brand new orchid from Ricky’s Flower Market, Gerbera daisies from WFM, and my dinner.
I made Caprese salad with Tarragon Vinegar and Greek olive oil and … drumroll please… basil from my very own basil plant (look to the bottom right and you will see basil and mint). These live plant additions may seem like nothing but they are big for me! I am pretty excited.
That is all for now but I have lots more on the agenda to show you. In the meantime, what’s in YOUR fridge (Danielle shared awhile back!)? What is your favorite summer meal? Have any plants that I can’t possibly kill? XOXO
PS … pretty much my favorite picture ever (and yes, I AM that conceited).
Indian food is one of those cuisines that I love but I have never tried to make at home. It isn’t that I am intimidated or even wary of trying to make something like Naan it is more being (for once in my life…laugh if you want) realistic. 90% of the time I barely set aside enough time to make myself a sandwich and scarf it down, much less go roaming the streets for garam masala and chickpea flour so I can make Dosas. So I suggest Indian for friend-dates sometimes or occasionally get it delivered when I am too lazy or busy to leave my house.
I have a vague notion of teaching myself to cook Indian this summer in between learning French, doing research, and nannying, but honestly when the thermometer creeps above 75 it takes a lot for me to even turn on the stove so this probably won’t come to fruition. Yesterday, though, I was hungry and perhaps more importantly, have been trying to figure out a way to make beans that don’t make me want to starve rather than finish a bowl for dinner.
I like beans, I do. And I really like them kind of mashed into other, tastier manifestations like black bean and cheese quesadillas or falafel. I know rice and beans are a staple of most cultures, but something about the texture of a bowl of rice and beans is enough to make me understand the warped mindset of models backstage at Fashion Week — did y’all see the White Girl Problems video? The camera spans a buffet table while the narrator goes “Also sometimes there is food which is sick, sick, and carbs. No one eats it except for this girl who does NOT even know why she’s eating it.” Here it is for reference.
But I digress. I had some canned chickpeas and a vague notion of how to make Chana Masala so I decided to just see what would happen. I remember from my friend Suchi’s Indian cookbooks that Chana Masala is cooked in brewed tea. I know…WTF?? And I wouldn’t have bothered except I happened to have some brewed tea in the fridge from a few days ago when I was being dramatic, the temperature had climbed to, you know, 65 degrees, and I decided it was just too hot for hot tea.
So I dumped the chickpeas in a (too-small) saucepan, along with a can of tomato paste. Chana Masala has a tomato-y taste to it and it was either this or Monjuni’s sauce so I just went with it. Things weren’t really mixing well so I just left it to simmer while I gathered up the crucial ingredients left.
The spices. I knew not to add salt because the chickpeas were canned and I knew basic Indian spices so I just kind of went with it. I LOVE how they looked before I crushed the coriander and mixed it up.
Basically it was something like:
- 2t Paprika
- 1t Coriander seeds
- 1/2 t ground ginger
- 1/4 t cayenne pepper
- 2t Cumin
- 1t Turmeric
- 1/4 t Garlic Powder (I was too lazy to go get the minced garlic from the fridge…this is my life)
Anyways I dumped all that in the pan with about six ounces of really strong tea. This is actually supposed to be mixed with equal parts water to make normal iced tea. Then I was tired of stirring and had a lot of dishes in my sink so I turned off the burner, added a lid, and hoped it would all kind of steam together instead of simmering slowly.
The end result?
The picture looks kind of jank, but it was pretty good! It definitely could have used some sauteed onion (which I didn’t have) and less tomato. 1/3 of a can of diced tomatoes or even just not the whole can of tomato paste would have been better but it was absolutely edible and worth eating a few more times! I added plain yogurt (SO good with Indian food) and some more cayenne because I am Southern. What do you think?
What’s your favorite go-to protein-rich meal? Do you have a favorite rice and beans recipe? A favorite cuisine to make (I’d love to learn how to make lo mein!) Let me know!
Good morning my darlings! Today’s “What are you up to?” post is a little different for two reasons. One, I’ve been meaning to share the next installation of I Heart Trader Joe\’s Cookbook for which I did something a bit different, and two you all seemed to like my featured Pins from Pinterest so much that I thought in lieu of links today I would share some. But of course the standard question: What are you up to this weekend???
Gearing up for Saint Patrick’s Day? Getting excited for Sunday so you can have the item you gave up (if you are one of those people who not only participate in Lent but take the easy way out)? Seeing a fun movie? It is drizzling and dreary here in Beantown though hopefully this will change! We are actually on Spring Break starting soon so my “weekend” is ten days long but I’ll be spending it here:
I know I know…it doesn’t sound exciting OR like much of a break but it is a necessity and I am actually looking forward to being able to work since I won’t have classes (oh grad school…). Yoda isn’t allowed at camp because he has an upper respiratory infection but I’ve hired someone to come over and play with him. That said, I hope you all have marvelous plans for the weekend and I’ll definitely be checking in next week!
First: I Heart Trader Joe’s Zucchini and Mushrooms with Pesto
I don’t know about y’all but one of the biggest problems I have with produce is not whether or not I like certain ones but HOW to eat them. Meat eaters can just make them side dishes (grilled chicken and asparagus, roast, potatoes, and carrots, steak and squash, etc) but I’m not just going to eat a bowl of green beans for dinner (well okay, I actually have done this multiple times because I was lazy or busy or had no food in the house but I don’t CRAVE bowls of green beans for dinner). With the exception of trickier vegetables like Eggplant, most of us know how to saute, steam, or grill vegetables, am I right?
When I first saw this recipe I honestly just thought it looked kind of good and wouldn’t take a ton of time. After having made it though, I realize how GENIUS it is. Don’t fret if you don’t like mushrooms or zucchini as this is easily adapted with other vegetables. Okay so here is the recipe, then I will explain.
You will need:
- Four medium zucchini
- 1/2 red onion
- 8 oz. sliced mushrooms
- 1 -2 T olive oil
- 4 oz. goat cheese crumbles
- 4 oz. Pesto
Slice the zucchini into rounds and the onion into slices, then toss with the mushrooms and olive oil. Roast at 400 degrees under your preferred tenderness (I like mine REALLY roasted so they stayed in for 45 minutes). Take them out, toss with the goat cheese and pesto, add freshly ground pepper if you’d like. Done and done.
Seriously — that is it. It is delicious on its own — even if you aren’t a mushroom fan there are way more zucchini pieces, and the cheese and pesto add sooooo much flavor. After I made it, however, I realized that it basically becomes the “variation” to any staple you have on hand. It made four servings. The first serving I tossed with whole wheat angel hair and added a little extra pesto to thoroughly coat the pasta. Delicious. The second serving I toasted on Brioche bread — equally as delicious. I had the third serving on its own as a snack (or lunch or something…I don’t remember) and I am pretty sure I ate it cold straight out of the pan…tasted good! Finally this morning I (I know it is weird, just hear me out) put it on top of scrambled eggs! Seriously. It was kind of like making an omelet but wayyyy less work and not as many eggs. One dish, four different ways and all tasted amazing. I’d say this recipe is a winner, yes?
Last: The Pins from Pinterest
As always, these can be found on Pinterest and let me know if you would like an invitation. And the disclaimer: people don’t cite sources heavily on Pinterest so please don’t be offended.
A young Jackie and Jack photo booth! So adorable, found via the equally adorable Unabashedly Prep.
Design Sponge did a “Living In” post on the Coco Chanel movie featuring Audrey Tautou…love this!
Have a sweet weekend my loves! Let me know what you are up to.
I’ve mentioned my friend Laura of Becoming the Odd Duck several times in the past, mostly in reference, but today this post is largely concerned with Laura. First off, as promised, the Intervention.
Sadly, I wasn’t doing anything exciting like exotic dancing to pay for grad school or, I don’t know, trying to get drunk off some random-ass super cheap substance. I’m afraid I’m not that cool or desperate.
This intervention actually began with Twitter. Usually we just agree to disagree about things like the cost of LuluLemon or, I don’t know, what qualifies one as a runner, but I have been tweeting a few things lately that freak her out. Example:
RachelMarlena: @LLBEAN75 I’m eating some Easy Mac and thought you should know. …It’s like my fifth bowl in as many days
LLBEAN75: @RachelMarlena omg….my arteries hurt for you!
RachelMarlena: @LLBEAN75 really because mine feel great!…like stellar genetics and social Darwinism. I might get crazy and wash it down with a 5 hour energy
LLBEAN75: @RachelMarlena I really hope so for your sake!
She is studying to be an RD (and she will be a great one…) so this next tweet sent her over the edge.
RachelMarlena (1:05 PM): Ugh the stupid vending machine only had Coke Zero…not only was I planning on this for breakfast/lunch but Coke Zero tastes disgusting. #Whitegirlproblems
Understandably, Laura says “Coke for breakfast!? Are you kidding??” … if only she knew. When Laura and I met, I was actually super healthy. She picked me up after a 24 hour cross-Atlantic travel day and asked if I wanted to go to the gym because she needed to run. I said I hadn’t run in over a year but sure let’s do it…. I made her run four miles instead of three, a distance record for her at the time (now she’s a baller and doing 10Ks like it is no big deal).
Yyyyyeah now I am lucky to get in three semblances of meals a day and many times they consist of things like peanut m&m’s or lattes. I think most of my calories legit come from Half and Half. Ironically I weigh less than I did that four mile run day. ANYWAYS it’s bad. And Laura couldn’t stand it anymore and told me she was stocking up on stuff to send me. I thought she was kidding. I should have known better but what she didn’t realize is that her surprise came at THE best time in the world — midterm season. So I get home to find this big ass box waiting on my doorstep…bonus- it is heavy.
First was the note. I love when packages include notes. It said:
Okay, this is clearly a nutrition intervention package. I’ve included things that I like to eat when I’m low on time. Obvi you can supplement with veggies at home if you have the time. The one thing I didn’t add, that I would have liked to, is trail mix, but I guess we are out at home! The white cups are 60 second brown rice packs. Just microwave them. Add the plain oatmeal pack to the Kashi cereal if you want to bulk it up. And I included Annie’s “easy mac” because if you are going to eat it, you might as well upgrade yo shit to the wheat pasta for extra protein! Also give Yodaman the bone from Lexi and Cary! If you have any questions or need more of something just let me know and I’ll send it to you! Take care of yourself! I worry!
Love always & foreva
Umm okay one, sweetest. note. EVER. Seriously…the thing about Laura is you know she really does worry and isn’t being fake Southern-nice. And in my defense I didn’t even know Annie’s Easy Mac existed! But she is so right about me needing to do more than pop a few Greens-to-go (spirulina/sea algae) and probiotics pills every morning to keep myself healthy. Check out what all was in this box!
There is SO much more than it looks like because I had stacked them but here we go:
- Microwave Brown Rice cups
- Applesauce cups
- Coconut Water
- Amy’s Soup
- Kashi and plain oatmeals
- Clif Bars (and Clif Z Bars, the smaller version)
- 90 second microwave packs of quinoa and mixed-grain wild rice
- A shit-ton of Annie’s Easy Mac (she knows me well )
- Fruit Leathers
- Luna Bars (sooo good)
- Individual Peanut Butter Packs (how did I not know these existed!? Where are they from??)
And the bone for Yoda. When I went to pick Yoda up from camp I was so inspired that I ran into the Whole Foods next door and grabbed some apples, berries, and yogurt, plus a few more staples (you know, like half-and-half!). Every day I threw a random assortment in my backpack and it was SO good. So thank you thank you thank you from the bottom of my heart sweet Laura! You’ll have Matt to take great care of you and the pups but I promise to always do the same for you when you are in need.
Part Two: The ABC’s of Boston Not Common
Second, a bit about me from a post shared by Laura, The Blogger ABCs. Like her, I love these survey type things; they provide such a fun glimpse into people’s lives. There are lots of things to be gleaned about a person from their blog, but these types of questions often don’t work themselves in. I was super jealous that her initials sounded so cute (The ABCs of LLB!) but oh well… here we go!
A. Age: 22…I will be 23 next month. I’ve always been super-mature (well…okay, I have always been ambitious and gotten along really well with people of every age, from 4 to 94, two traits which, when combined, lead people to assume I am much older than I am). But I feel SUPER young here at Harvard. At first I thought it was my backwoods Public School education (true story…) then I realized that all the people I compared myself to were at least five years (and often closer to nine) older than I was and thus had had that much more time in the field, or at least having formative life experiences. Honestly, though, coming now was the right choice for me. Plus, I’ll be the hot tenured professor whose classes everyone wants to take purely because she’s good-looking…and growing up in the Deep South trained me to be completely okay with this. As Leo joked the other day in response to seeing the photo below: ”You look very professorial.” Rms: Thanks! Dress for the job you want… LRS: ”Or the husband.”
B. Bed size: Full. They are a dying breed. I bought a kick-ass bedroom set but I already had a really great Full-sized mattress and didn’t want to drop the extra cash. It is plenty big for me.
C. Chore you dislike: It actually isn’t that I dislike all “chores” so much as I never seem to have time for them (see the food intervention above). Vacuuming, especially the black chair and couch in my living room, is a losing battle though. So then I don’t do it because it feels hopeless. But then it gets disgusting so I have to. Repeat.
D. Dogs: Yoda(man). He turned three a few weeks ago (and received quite a number of birthday cards/gifts!) and is a pure-bred English Bulldog. He is ridiculous and part human, I think.
E. Essential start to your day: Caffeine with cream…You will ruin my day if you try to give me that powdered shit for coffee (or tea). Also music.
F. Favorite color: Was just texting the lovely JMOD about this. I tend to live in black, gray, and white with a bit of navy and brown leather thrown in if I am feeling adventurous, but lately I’ve been adding some color. I go for jewel tones – rich reds, sapphire, peacock blue, etc. Though I was surprisingly in love with (and subsequently pissed when it was discontinued) this Vera pattern and grabbed a tee/zip-up combo from American Apparel the other day in a (surprising choice for me) teal/cobalt combo.
G. Gold or silver: Have ALWAYS said silver but gold has been growing on me. Problematically all the gold pieces I want cost upwards of $1,000 (like the signet ring I’m already designing for my graduation gift next year ), so I tend to buy silver. It is hard having delusions of grandeur.
H. Height: Sad question! I will adamantly tell you I am 5’3″ but the reality is probably closer to 5’2″. I’m small but feisty. In LA I wore heels all the time but the 1+ mile walk to school plus cobblestones has put quite a damper on that in Boston. I’ve already been lusting after some wedges for Spring.
I. Instruments you play(ed): Way back in the day, piano. Sad I gave it up but it’s NBD.
J. Job title: Graduate student, nanny, and staff member (app reviewer?) for Inside Mac Apps. That is the order I give them to people as well so if we are speaking casually, you’ll only get the first one and then the others will come up eventually.
K. Kids: This question is the bane of my existence. Anyone who sees me with or hears me talk for more than 30 seconds about the children I nanny knows I have a way with them and thus would be an awesome mom. And yet. I am super ambitious…and I put my goals first…and to be honest, I’m a little crazy (and maybe not good crazy? It depends on the day…). So I fear I am far too selfish to be wholly responsible for other humans and also that they will need years of therapy after having me for a mother ala Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. It will work itself out over time.
L. Live: Boston, obvi, though my technical city is Somerville, which is further complicated by the fact that if you walk more than three minutes you will likely be in Cambridge. Before that I grew up in Louisiana, and other than that the longest I have lived anywhere else was my summer at Oxford. It was divine.
M. Mom’s name: Deb-deb! Debbie, actually, which we call her….though Mama growing up (and now occasionally when I’m feeling overwhelmed). We used to call her Mom but she didn’t respond to it so B and I switched to Debbie.
N. Nicknames: Ummm my dad calls me a Nazicrat and I sometimes jokingly (ish…) refer to myself as “your favorite hot mess/trainwreck.” If I like you (or don’t care enough to correct you) I let you call me Rach. Rachel Marlena or just Marlena, “little” (like little sis), RM or RMS, Rachiroo. I get “brat” a lot affectionately. There are also a list of people who, if they call me “Rachel,” I know/assume they are annoyed with me in varying degrees of intensity.
O. Overnight hospital stays: My family thinks I am the most dramatic over-reactor ever but really they are all UNDER-reactors. Seriously growing up, the answer to everything was “take two ibuprofen, you’ll be fine.” So I mean, I feel like I probably would have had a lot more had they taken me to the hospital every time I wailed dramatically, “I need to go to the hospitallllll!” Actual overnight stays? Once when I was 2 for tonsil/adenoid surgery, four or five days in college when I came down with this mysterious disease that we still can’t conclusively give a name though I have one I throw out as the best guess, and kind of last fall…I was there until like, 3 AM so basically overnight, when a routine outpatient procedure went a bit jank and I was bleeding to death. I mean, not to death but…a lot.
P. Pet peeves: Oh my goodness…It would appear that I am supremely annoyed all the time based on how many I have but that really isn’t the case because 90% of the time I don’t care enough to get worked up. Two exceptions to that rule: the biggest (and most serious) is difficult to articulate. I absolutely despise the trait that all of the following “types” have in common: people who make excuses, particularly vague ones like “I’m just so busy,” “it isn’t the right time,” or some variation on I feel really bad/I wish I could, who play the victim, are indecisive, and/or don’t do as they say they will. In a nutshell, I hate the quality of not taking responsibility for your own actions. Allow me to list out the sixty hours of responsibility a week I have before I ever do homework, attend social obligations, or you know, relax….we are all effing busy. But if something is really important to you, whether it be helping out a friend or obtaining a college degree, you will find a way to make it happen. I don’t care what events in your life led you to where you are now. Or rather I care, I care very much, but I don’t accept them as legitimate excuses. Yeahhhh I sound like a bitch. Sorry I am not sorry.
Also, packing peanuts (you know the styrofoam ones?)…they are the bane of my existence. Seriously…they annoy me about as much as that little diatribe up there on people not taking responsibility for their actions.
Q. Quote from a movie:
Ohhh I wish it were book. I will give you my book quotes anyways.
“Does such a thing as the fatal flaw, that showy dark crack running down the middle of a life exist outside of literature? I used to think it didn’t, but now I think it does. And I think mine is this: a morbid longing for the picturesque at any cost.” – The Secret History
The problem with all my movie quotes is they are straight up scenes…and that doesn’t translate well. Here are two.
“This is a story of boy meets girl but…you should know upfront that this is not a love story.” – (500) Days of Summer
Bad News Bears (Billy Bob Thornton version) when Coach takes the team with him to exterminate a house:
Coach: ”Hey! Quit spraying him with that [poison]…that shit’s expensive!”
Garo: “Hey Coach, what’s carcinogen mean?”
Coach: ”Liberal propaganda…Don’t worry about it…it’s just bullshit.”
I own the old one too and it is awesome but this one cracks me up every. single. time.
R. Righty or lefty: Lefty.
S. Siblings: Five! Well, almost. Cam is the oldest, then Jacob, and Rebekah (B) is my sister. Though my new sister Jenn won’t officially be my sister until November 11, I already call her sibling.
T. Time you wake up: Depends on the day. Currently it is 4 AM and I have been up since 1:30 AM….I’m probably going to go take a nap soon. Regular days I wake between 6:30-7:30, though test days or busy days sometimes as early as 4 or 5. If given the opportunity, I can’t necessarily sleep all day but I can while away a good 24 hours in bed sleeping, daydreaming, etc.
U. Underwear: Hmmm….I love Cosabella and Natori but my actual everyday wear (pesky prices) are the Lacies by Victoria Secret. I like Gap cotton hiphuggers if I feel like slumming it (in terms of cute lingerie…pricewise it isn’t that different). It bothers me way too much if my lingerie doesn’t match or isn’t cute so I actually have a ton of sets and coordinates. Aaaand that is a lot of unnecessary information. Moving on…
V. Vegetables you don’t like: I’m a vegetarian so I will eat any vegetables, but I really hate okra and brussel sprouts.
W. What makes you run late: Usually it is Yoda being Yoda but often I fall into the trap of what Debbie likes to call “one more thing…” As in, I need to leave in five minutes so I will just dash off an e-mail/do some dishes/translate a verse and it takes longer than expected.
X. X-rays you’ve had: When I had that ghetto illness they scanned nearly every obscure part of my body, so lots there. My legs, in high school, because I had so many stress fractures (dance/cheerleading). Teeth.
Y. Yummy food you make: Umm everything I make is delicious obvi. I bake a ton and have a few stand-out go to recipes (Diabetic Brownies and Best Cookie Cake Ever). My cook-to-impress standby is Eggplant Parmesan and Chicken Parmesan (cooked separately, served together). Sadly on a day to day basis though, it is more a game of what-can-I-throw-together-in-less-than-five-minutes-using-what-I-have-on-hand. I eat a lot of greek yogurt parfaits…and pasta.
Z. Zoo animal favorites: Debbie is obsessed with the monkeys so by default I spend most of the time there. Love pandas…and komodo dragons but I think that is only because they are underrated.
WHEW — Okay so I want to know a few things. A) What is your favorite throw-in-your-bag food to eat? B) What don’t I know about you? C) Favorite Quote from a Movie D) Underwear. Or anything else you want to tell me. Stay Cute! xoxo
Back today with another addition of “I Heart Trader Joe’s” (full explanation here) because what started as a full day turned into a stay-home day when I unexpectedly moved to the Arctic Circle Boston had yet another Snow Emergency. This looked delicious and butternut squash is one of those things I like but never make because it takes time and effort, both things that as a graduate student I rarely have.
I ended up making a few adjustments. I was already feeling broke-ass because I was using a gift card for groceries (then again, the gift card was to Whole Foods. I feel like that is like saying…I don’t know that you needed new sheets and had to use a gift card for them — to Frette or Saks). Once I got there and saw that even bulk-bin dried cherries were something like $14 for one-fourth of a pound, I decided dried cranberries would work just fine. Then I think the blue cheese crumbles I saw were something like $8 so I decided to check elsewhere. I forgot and walked out without any form of blue cheese, so my choices at home were mexican-blend shreds (for black bean quesadillas) or the only cheese I could find in the Whole Foods specialty cheese section that WASN’T $40/pound. It was this:
I chose the latter mainly because I figured it was like Brie and would have a stronger flavor than the shreds. It actually turned out to be an incredible decision because it was MUCH stronger and creamier than your standard brie. So it melted all over the roasted squash and formed a perfect contrast to the sweetness of the rest of the dish.
For this recipe you will need:
- 1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- 1 red onion, sliced (or frozen chopped onion if you are lazy)
- 1/2 c chopped pecans
- 1/4 c dried cherries
- 2 oz cheese of choice
- Salt, Pepper, Sage
- Olive Oil
First step is to peel and cube the squash. Another reason I hate butternut squashes? They are HELL to peel and cut. Whole Foods actually had pre-peeled and cubed butternut squash but big surprise here it was $8 or something absurd.
Fortunately, I have a fun trick of the day. If you throw that whole monster in the oven as is and roast for 20 minutes then let it cool the skin peels right off and it cuts super easily. Then you only have to let it cook for ten more minutes or so.
However you get there let’s assume you have some butternut squash cubes that are about halfway done. Add onion, sage, salt, pepper, and oil then toss. Cook for 5 minutes, add pecans. Cook another 5-10 then add cheese and cherries. Done.
This was delicious AND easy to make…it would be a unique side dish to bring to a potluck or to jazz up a meal featuring chicken.
What is your favorite cold-weather food (besides Soup…unless you have an amazing soup recipe)? Any more tricks for making food prep easier (like the butternut squash tip)? Just want to wax poetic about TJ’s? Let me know!
You all already know how incredible Jess is because I tell you often. And I mentioned the other day the incredible flags she bought me as part of my Christmas present. Another part of the present?
No seriously, it IS the World’s Greatest Grocery Store. It is upscale without the pretentiousness (and prices – good God you can’t spend less than $50 in that store!) of Whole Foods Market, and just novel enough to not make you dread going to the market. It isn’t vegetarian but that is actually perfect as my stand-out repertoire to impress meat-eaters isn’t very big.
I decided I’d work through the cookbook and share a recipe with you all once a week or so. The first one I chose looked SO delicious, but it used puff pastry. I feel like puff pastry is one of those things like…I don’t know, risotto?…that really isn’t that big of a deal once you take the leap and start using it but it seems a little intimidating because it isn’t in your arsenal. I decided to try it and worst case, I’d come up with a new blog post. Ready for this?
Caramelized Onion, Fig, and Gorgonzola Tart
By Cherie Mercer Twohy
You will need:
- 1T butter
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- a pinch each of salt and sugar
- 1 sheet Artisan Puff Pastry (defrosted but cold)
- 2 fresh figs, sliced or a handful of dried mission figs, halved
- 2T mascarpone cheese (or cream cheese)
- handful crumbled Gorgonzola
- Fresh black pepper
In a medium pan melt the butter and add onion slices, salt, and sugar. Saute over low heat until caramelized (15 minutes or so). I worked on Hebrew note cards while this was going on because it doesn’t need a lot of your attention, but you do need to stir occasionally. Once done, let cool to room temperature.
While the onions are cooling roll out your pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Stretch from the middle out, if necessary, then fold the sides in 1/2 inch or so to make what Cherie calls a “picture frame.”
Spread the onions over the pastry, then the figs. Dot with mascarpone and bake until golden at 400 degrees (15 minutes or so). Scatter the gorgonzola crumbles over the freshly baked tart and season with pepper.
Oh. My. God. It is INCREDIBLE. Seriously. I have a thing for figs anyways, but this was amazing. The sweetness of the figs and onions was balanced by the salty Gorgonzola and the buttery tart anchored the whole thing. The mascarpone gave it a creaminess and the pepper was a perfect addition. I realize I sound like those people that write the descriptions on the back of wine bottles (really, Barefoot? My $10 bottle has silky hints of dark cherry with a heady aroma of oak and tobacco? Come on ) but it really is THAT good. It would be a great crowd-pleaser as an appetizer, or cut bigger squares to make it a part of dinner. This picture doesn’t really do it justice and I had to take it on my iPhone but check it out:
Hello my darlings! I had the most wretched stomach virus (it is making its way around the area apparently – watch out if you live near Boston!) so blogging about food was not very high on my to-do list. I’m back though, and excited to share the King Cake recipe with you. I told you a little about King Cakes, but I always leave out one tiny albeit important detail that throws outsiders off. So in a traditional King Cake a little plastic baby is baked into it (you know, typing that out it sounds REALLY carcinogenic but whatever). Whoever gets the piece with the baby inside (It is only about an inch long but people usually don’t swallow it — they just bite down and realize what it is…plus we are all on the lookout) has to bring the next king cake. It ensures the Louisianians their sugar fix and a continuation of at least one king cake per day for the entire season. It doesn’t seem like an important detail but if you don’t know what it is you are VERY confused by the hundreds of little babies taped to the inside of the King Cake boxes at your grocery store. The recipe is for a full-sized cake, but the pictures are a half-sized one. I made this for my friend who broke his leg on the snow/ice (just walking down the street – omg HOW have I not killed myself yet? I am the most clumsy person ever). He is from the North and I wasn’t sure he could handle the ridiculousness of full-force Southern baked goods so I made a mini. Anyways, here we go!
You Will Need:
- 2 packages Crescent Rolls
- 8 oz. Cream Cheese (softened)
- 2/3 c. Powdered Sugar
- 2-3 T milk.
- 1/2 t. Vanilla Extract
- 1/2 c. powdered sugar + milk (for glaze)
- Colored Sprinkles, Chocolate Chips, Apple, Pecans, etc.
Start with a pizza plate and the crescent rolls. Unroll them (you’ll have basically a rectangle of pastry) and separate into triangles. Place them on the pizza stone/plate (depending on how fancy you are) with the points hanging off the stone — it should look like a sunflower.
Mix the 2/3 c. sugar, milk, cream cheese, and vanilla and spread it on top of the crescent rolls in the “circle” part. The next part is completely up to you. The “traditional” recipe calls for sliced Granny Smith Apples and crushed pecans, but I am my mother’s child and we do not like healthy things like fruit messing up our desserts so we use chocolate chips. Theoretically you could do all three, a fruit preserve, or whatever you think would taste awesome.
Tuck the points into the crescent rolls and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
Make a basic glaze of powdered sugar and milk. Drizzle over the top and add colored sugar. Traditionally we do 1/3 of the cake yellow, 1/3 green, and 1/3 purple. You have a few options. You can be ghetto and make your own at home using food coloring. The green and yellow turn out okay, but the purple is this jank brownish-purple that is vaguely reminiscent of a bruise. You could go to Michael’s and pay something like $15 for that ridiculous kit with 30 different colored sugars in it just so you have all three but then you are left with loads of extra colored sugars and it takes the entire package of green, yellow, and purple for one cake.
The BEST Plan?
Sweet talk the little black lady working at Kroger’s bakery into filling you a couple of Ziploc bags with each of the colors that you need then throw them in your purse and skedaddle with her blessing.
The WORST Plan?
Proceed with the BEST plan, with success…then move across the country. SOMEHOW your teeny-tiny little Tupperware of Shaver’s Crab Boil (to make the best spicy potatoes, corn, etc) will make the move and be displayed proudly next to your big-ass can of Tony Chachere’s. Somehow the colored sugar, your pride and joy, will not make the move. Leave the cake naked and print out a picture from Google Images on what it is supposed to look like. Be grateful that no one in Mass has ever seen a King Cake to begin with and are all fascinated with “that beautiful pastry you have there!”
I stole a picture of a finished cake from Robin’s facebook but our’s do not actually look like this. Robin misunderstood my directions and made every other crescent point outwards and the others point in (instead of all out like the first picture). It makes such a beautiful cake though! I love it.
The end. Julie Anne\’s (a staple of Ladies Who Lunch in S’port) will ship king cakes around the country if you’d like to try theirs. Love that they have a disclaimer which says “We cannot take responsibility for those deliveries which are not found immediately, are destroyed by dogs, attacked by ants, etc. so we recommend shipping to a business when possible.
Also, for once in my life I found a YouTube video before our rockstar Camron and it met his approval. I know, I’m shocked too. Check it out below.
As my favorite undergrad professor says, “Questions? Comments? Fears? Trepidations?” Itching to make a King Cake now? Or Follow Kanye on Twitter (guilty!). Stay Cute! And warm! xoxo
PS For my family that is bound to comment (or the rest of you that are thinking it) my stove is perfectly safe to eat off of it just looks gross. Kind of like Strawn’s…or Waffle House? Well okay, Waffle House might be a bad example…
Happy Friday, y’all! Yesterday was Twelfth Night (or the 12th day of Christmas if you would prefer to call it that) and for Louisianians it means one thing:
The beginning of Mardi Gras Season!
This means the Stevens start baking our “famous” homemade King Cake and that all of Louisiana stays in a (how is this even possible?) elevated party state of mind until Ash Wednesday. I promised my Great Grandbig Lisa that I would bake tonight in honor of the holiday and share our secret recipe, but the grocery store only had half of what I needed and everywhere was closing in ten minutes. Damn Mass and their early-bird closing hours. I never thought I would say it but I miss the 24-hour Wal-marts!
Anyways I realized that between the week of Louisiana visits and the week of SG being here with me in Boston I had survived mostly on random Asian meals and gin/bourbon (not together…). Yyyyeah. So really, it is most appropriate that I asked my favorite future RD, Laura to give us some new on-the-go snacks for the new year. Grad Students (and sorostitutes…and college students…and overworked professionals…and ballerinas…) have god-awful eating habits but hopefully these will give you some great ideas. I’m going grocery shopping this weekend for these (especially idea one — YUM) and king cake ingredients so I’ll see ya Monday! xoxo
Hello friends! I am Laura from Becoming The Odd Duck. I’m here to talk to you guys about something really important today – snacks!
Like Rachel, I am a student as well and run low on time. Rachel and I always swap ideas back and forth of quick meals and quick snacks – both quick to buy and prepare. The one thing we don’t always talk about is portable snacks.
I commute 30 minutes to school via car and then am stuck on campus all day. This means having portable snacks that are easy to pack and transport well is very important to me. Ultimately it keeps me healthier as well since I don’t stop at a drive-thru on the way home because I’m starving. It also keeps me from overeating at dinner because I kept myself well fed during the day.
I can usually bring a lunch box with ice packs in it to school with me, so I have the option of eating snacks that need to stay cool. This helps me keep diversity with what I eat – so I’m more likely to actually eat my packed snacks rather than seek food elsewhere.
Here are some snack ideas that I frequently bring to school with me. These are all portable, require minimum effort and will keep you healthy!
- 1. Make your own trail mix: It’s really easy to stop by Target and pick up some monster trail mix. I know I really like it. But it’s also loaded with candy and sugar, as are most trail mixes. Making your own is really simple and will last you a while. Plus you can add the ingredients that youlike preventing you from picking out the pieces that you enjoy most. At the end of this post is a recipe for trailmix that my boyfriend makes frequently and portions out into snack bags so we can both grab it on the way out the door.
- 2. Yogurt and fruit: Nothing is easier or faster than grabbing a yogurt and piece of fruit and throwing it into your lunchbox. My favorite yogurt is Cascade Fresh, which contains 8 active cultures, is naturally fruit juice sweetened and comes in a variety of flavors!
- 3. Rice cakes with nut butter: I like rice cakes because they are both crunchy and sweet (I eat the carmel flavor). But eating just a rice cake does not keep me full. I love to take two rice cakes, spread some nut butter on top of each and wrap them in foil with the nut buttered sides facing each other. This is super easy and delicious!
- 4. Celery sticks with nut butter + raisins: This is another great portable snack that is both crunchy and sweet. Take celery sticks and smear nut butter inside the ridges, topping with raisins. These are really easy to make ahead of time and pack into little foil packets or Tupperware containers. Plus it’s another serving of vegetables in your day!
- 5. Nut butter and jelly sammie: As you can tell, I think nut butter makes a great snack because it’s full of both protein and fat – which will keep you satisfied. Anyway if you need a more substantial snack, pack yourself a pb&j or equivalent type of sandwich. This is portable and will keep for several hours – ensuring you can enjoy it whenever you need!
- 6. Nuts + fruit: If you don’t want to eat a nut butter – try just a small handful of nuts alongside your apple or banana in the afternoon. I’m notorious for eating a sliced apple with a small side of dry roasted peanuts. It’s so quick to throw together and super satisfying. If you don’t have fresh fruit on hand try packing up some dried fruit, fruit leathers or applesauce.
- 7. Cheese, crackers and fruit: This is one of Rachel’s favorite snacks so I wanted to be sure to include it on this list. My variation of this snack can be seen here. I love cheese and will eat as much as I can (if given the chance) so I slice a mini babybel into tiny slices and eating with whole grain crackers – like triscuits.
What else do you guys like to eat for quick, portable snacks?
Matt’s favorite trail mix:
Makes 8 servings. Feel free to use this as only a guideline and add your favorite ingredients.
- 1 cup Cheerios cereal (or your own equivalent)
- 2 oz (1/2 cup) dry roasted peanuts
- 2 servings (1 small container) goldfish crackers
- 2 oz pretzels
- ½ cup dried edamame
- 1 bag chocolate m&ms
- ½ cup dried mixed fruit
Mix everything together in a bowl and separate into 8 snack size bags.
Happy Monday morning, dolls! Did you have a great weekend? I was not nearly as productive as I would have liked to be but I had lots of fun and got to hang out with some pretty awesome people (including an awesome 5 year old who demanded I shut the laptop screen quickly so she wouldn’t be tempted to watch more Bernstein Bears episodes on YouTube than she and her dad had previously agreed upon — SO cute!).
Lisa, who (fun fact!) is my great-great grandbig in Chi Omega, e-mailed me last week asking for vegetarian recipes. It was perfect because I have been in a major food rut (when I even bother to cook) myself so I had a chance to go back through old recipes and rediscover my favorites. I am not going to spoil all the fun and share them all, but I did want to share this particular recipe. My mom uses Dinner Station in Shreveport for a lot of meals, but I have not found one suitable (or cheap enough!) in Boston. She used to get me Egg Casseroles from there and they were awesome.
Halloween weekend, my friend woke up craving crepes. I used to be able to eat Nutella crepes any hour of the day (and multiple a day if the occasion demanded) but these days something that sweet first thing in the morning makes my stomach turn. Luckily Mr. Crepe (seriously…that is the name of the restaurant) had savory crepes as well and I tried the Mushroom, Blue Cheese, and Thyme crepe. It. was. delicious. I was not even going to pretend I had the time or desire to make my own crepes, but I knew I could make it into a quiche with minimal effort.
What I Bought:
- Frozen Pie Crust (Fill and Bake, FTW)
- 1/2 dozen eggs
- 8 oz. fresh sliced mushrooms
- 8 oz. whole milk
- 1 small container (4 ounces or so) crumbled blue cheese
I put the mushrooms on a low-heat setting with butter and let them, as Laura likes to say, “sweat.” While that was happening I mixed six eggs, the milk, some pepper, and about 1T of dried thyme in a mixing bowl. I stirred in the cheese crumbles and once the mushrooms were ready, tossed them in. Poured the whole thing into the frozen pie crust and baked at 350 for about 15 minutes.
This could easily be made both healthier and heartier with not much extra time. If you are into making your own dough by all means do it, or you could mix in whole wheat breadcrumbs (just pour them in the egg mixture) to make more of an egg casserole (the liquids will soften them). Phyllo dough would be another healthier, fairly easy option. Or go crust-less and call it frittata!
Have an aversion to both mushrooms and blue cheese? Why not make it with sausage and cheddar? Red pepper, olives, and feta? Bacon and swiss? The possibilities are endless.
What is your favorite 20 minute or less recipe? Favorite Quiche/Frittata/Crepe? I would love to hear!
PS SO Random but I had to share. I am not super into Girl Power but I also loathe the whole “a woman’s place is in the kitchen” mindset. People think I am a lot more feminazi than I actually am but…whatever. ANYWAYS…this was sent over to me last night. I can’t decide if I want to laugh or cry. Thoughts?
My family is very athletic as long as you use the word athlete loosely. My dad is actually pretty athletic, as are my brothers. I’m “athletic” in the sense that I danced for 13 years and was a varsity cheerleader but the last time I played tennis with Camron he told me I should play for Jerry’s Kids…yeah I haven’t played tennis since. B could be athletic, but she took the dance/cheer route as well. She did an IronKids Tri when she was 10 and I don’t think she has run (except for cheerleading/dance) since then. So when she said she was going to run a halfsie to stave off the Freshman 15 we were all like “oh yeah, definitely B!” It isn’t that she CAN’T do it, because she totally could but B doesn’t run three miles, much less 13.1. I mean, she made us take NOODLES with us while snorkeling 20 feet away from the catamaran in the Caribbean because treading water would have been too strenuous.
Unfortunately Jacob didn’t get the memo and thought B was seriously training. He gets all excited and suggests a family halfsie on either Thanksgiving or Christmas. And of course B says, “Oh yeah let’s do it that would be AWESOME!” Umm wait B…how many times have you run since you went down to LSU?
“Well I ran once last week”
“Because you were late to class? Or down Sorority Row for bid day?”
In truth if any of the four of us were going to run a halfsie it would be Camron. He’s in hella ridiculous good shape. I like to run in theory, but only in the most ideal of conditions which means I run very sporadically. In the past three days, however, I’ve gone for over an hour TWICE…which I believe makes me about 3,0000 times more prepared for this hypothetical run than B. So maybe the Stevens family should meet up for a race.
All joking (or not joking) aside, I am excellent at all things related to running but not actually part of the physical endurance of running ridiculous miles. I can perfectly pack a gym bag, create a great running playlist, and tell you what to drink afterwards to get the most out of your workouts. Shall we? B take notes!
Part One: The Gym Bag
There is nothing worse than getting to the gym after work and realizing you don’t have something small but crucial like socks or (god forbid) an iPod. The bag itself needn’t be expensive (mine are old Invitrogen/Life Tech bags from Leo’s company), but it is incredibly helpful to have a bag with sections or pockets. You could make do with a tote by keeping smaller bags (cosmetic-style or even ziplocs!) inside to keep things separated. I always keep:
- 2-3 pairs of socks (and an extra sports bra if you are female)
- An iPod, headphones, magazine/Kindle if you are into reading on the elliptical
- A hairbrush, bobby pins, a cute headband
- Shower supplies
- Flipflops (for the nasty gym showers/sauna/whirlpool)
- Extra underwear — there is nothing worse than getting out of the gym shower and realizing the only underwear you have with you are the ones you just worked out in…and you are wearing a mini-skirt.
- Running Shoes
Keep these things in your bag at all times, then all you need to add are your actual workout clothes. Even better, keep a gallon-sized Ziploc in your bag so that you can throw dirty gym clothes into it, then put them in the laundry when you get home. It keeps everything else fresh.
Part Two: The Playlist
I have to have music when I work out, and I have to have upbeat music to keep me going. I usually end up switching songs before they are over so I make the playlists really long. Taking a note from my fabulous great grand-big Lisa I’m sharing my playlist and I will even make you a CD (though it will take two) if you would like.
The Fall Run/Fail Run Playlist
- Lush Crush — Ryan Robinson
- Bet On It — Troy, HSM2
- I’ve Been to a Marvellous Party – Divine Comedy covering Noel Coward
- Fame — Naturi Naughton
- Classifieds – The Academy Is
- Dance Dance — Fallout Boy
- All These Things That I’ve Done — The Killers
- Party in the USA — Miley Cyrus
- Bed Intruder Song — Antoine Dodson
- Fairfax — William Tell
- Rock and Roll — Eric Hutchinson
- Do the Panic — Phantom Planet
- I Like You So Much Better When You Are Naked — Ida Maria
- Last Chance to Lose Your Keys — Brand New
- The Ballad of Sal Villaneuva — Taking Back Sunday
- Catch My Disease — Ben Lee
- Airplanes — BOB
- Saints and Sailors — Dashboard Confessional
- Tik Tok — Ke$ha
- MPLS — Sing It Loud
- All For One — HSM2
- I Gotta Feeling — Black Eyed Peas
- Pinball Wizard — The Who
- Temperature — Sean Paul
- Dirty Little Secret — The All-American Rejects
- Good Girls Go Bad — Cobra Starship
- Crashin — Jack’s Mannequin
- We Built This City — Jefferson Starship
- Single Ladies — Beyonce
- Out Tonight — Rent Cast
- Hands Down — Dashboard Confessional
- The Tension and the Terror — Straylight Run
- La Vie Boheme — Rent Cast
- Punk Rock Princess — Something Corporate
- I Am Fred Astaire — Taking Back Sunday
- The Middle — Jimmy Eat World
- Dammit — Blink 182
WHEW that was a lot to type, but it definitely keeps me going. If you never switched songs it would take you two hours and eleven minutes to complete…that is a 10 minute mile halfsie!
Part Three: Post-Run Replenishing
Normally I am not into special foods/gels/drinks to make you a better runner. Chocolate milk actually does a damn good job or um, water (powerade anyone?). But yesterday my legs were EXHAUSTED. Literally going up the one flight of stairs to my apartment was physically difficult…this has never happened before. So I decided to buy into the whole Born to Runphilosophy and drink some iskiate. Had I needed to go out and buy some it probably would not have happened, but I still had a few packages left over from raiding Leo’s California apartment. WTF is iskiate? It is disgusting to be honest.
It even LOOKS disgusting. All iskiate consists of is chia seeds that have been soaked in water, some lemon or lime juice, and a bit of agave nectar (or your favorite sweetener). The gross part is that the chia seeds swell, which is part of why it is magical (aids in hydration) but makes it taste a little like your water has caviar in it. The longer you leave it to sit, the more gel-like it becomes. Eventually you can eat it with a spoon…I don’t want to think of it. The brand Leo had, Wingfoot Iskiate, adds ginger to offset any running induced nausea.
Chia has high levels of omega-3s (more than flax), antioxidants, fiber, and protein. But it is super light so it doesn’t weigh you down. I would not want to drink it all the time, but I definitely felt better after consuming it yesterday.
Alright all you realrunners out there, weigh in! Favorite songs? Tips for the Stevens’ family? What do you eat/drink before or after your runs? xoxo
Happy Monday morning, my dolls! I thought we would start the morning off with something delicious and sweet. I have professed my love for Monjuni’s sauce (feel free to mail me some!) many times on the blog and last week I finally put one of my jars to use. My mom makes the BEST Monjuni’s Eggplant Parmesan (and she does not even eat it!) and while I can make a pretty good rendition, I did not have the time. She puts SO much love into that dish. Instead I opted to roast an eggplant with some chopped onion and Italian seasonings.
I made pasta (well, I boiled water and cooked some whole wheat pasta I had in the pantry), and got out the secret ingredient, along with the Trader Joe’s Goat Cheese Medallions I mentioned last week.
The final, delicious product? I ate it all week.
Also, remember last week when there was the whole waking-the-neighbor debacle? Well my Southern roots stayed true to form and I felt so guilty that I made him dessert as a small thank you. I was going to make The Best Cookie Cake Ever but that would have required a trip to the store, so I chose the next best thing: Divine Diabetic Brownies.
Only in the South can you find a brownie recipe that calls for three cups of sugar and four eggs to only a little over ONE CUP of flour. And they are amazing. The recipe?
Melt two sticks of butter and cream with three cups of sugar. Add in the eggs, one at a time, and 1T of vanilla. Mix well.
Add in a cup of cocoa powder, 1.5 cups of flour, and one teaspoon of salt. Careful not to overmix!
Stir in any add-ins you would like (I did chopped Andes mint thins!) and spread in a 9×13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.
These are SO easy and can be made in only one bowl if it is microwavable (for the butter). They are incredibly fudgy and rich, just the thing for a Monday morning.
Happy eating, dears! What is your favorite comfort food? Favorite Dessert? I’m looking at Tina Frey’s Negroni’s over on Design Sponge and wanting to run out and buy Campari!
My musician friend Chris used to have me over for fabulous evenings of dinner and porch-sitting. He had never really cooked for a vegetarian (story of my life) but his dishes always turned out amazing. One I have been craving lately is Cornbread and Tomato Gravy. Apparently this is big in the South, but we never had it growing up. I wanted Chris’ exact recipe because it was THAT good but when he found out I was going to share it with you guys he refused to share it. Normally I can be very persuasive but he refused to budge so I just had to do the best I could. It came out pretty delicious but nowhere nearly as delicious as his. If you are not vegetarian, this is typically made with bacon fat and bacon so feel free to try it that way.
First up, the cornbread.
There are lots of excellent cornbread recipes out there but I can tell you that Chris just doctored a box of Jiffy, so I followed suit. Mix the cornbread mix with the milk and egg called for on the box, then add one can of creamed corn and a can of green chiles if you like things spicy. The corn makes it SO creamy and delicious and the chiles give things a little heat. While this is baking you can start making the tomato gravy.
And the Tomato Gravy…
To start, throw a fairly large chunk of butter in a heavy bottomed skillet. I used about half of a stick. Add in the vegetables you want to use and saute in the butter. I used an onion and stewed tomatoes. Once things get soft and liquidy, stir in a few tablespoons of flour to thicken it up. Next add half and half (about .5 cup) and if you want things really tomato-y, a small can of tomato paste. Let it simmer for a few minutes to blend all of the flavors together. Grate in your favorite sharp cheddar cheese.
Let me just warn you, this is not a “pretty” meal. It is best eaten in a bowl with a spoon.
Anyone have a tomato gravy recipe to share? A favorite particularly Northern or Southern meal? I’d love to hear!
Not that I need a season to eat soup, but lately the temps in Mass have been hovering in the 60s, making me at least willing to turn on my oven. I used to be a little intimidated about making my own soup — either the consistency was not right (thin liquid, chunky vegetables) or it was almost like baby food in texture. But I do not like spending $4 on a can of Amy’s Organics and I always want to try different combinations.
I have been playing with this for a few years, but about a year ago I read a formula from Melissa Kirsch and have not made a bad soup since. Kirsch wrote The Girl’s Guide to Absolutely Everything — go ahead and go buy a copy, plus a few to give as gifts right now. It is such a great book for post-college life plus has lots of super helpful references. Her formula?
Fat + Flavoring + Liquids + Solids + Optional Creaminess + Salt + Optional Garnish
Easy, right? I am going to take it step by step with the baked potato soup I made last night. I always make my soup in a crock-pot (wow I sound like an old lady…), mainly because it is more time I can spend doing school work and work-work…it has gotten hard to justify a few hours in the kitchen these days!
1. Fat (which I used to saute the vegetables)
I put a hefty chunk of butter in the bottom of my crock-pot with chopped onions and carrots — I like them sauteed better than boiled in broth, so this is always my first step. With the crockpot you just leave it — no need to hover over the pot and stir. Once they were done I added flour to the mixture. It soaked up the extra butter and made the finished product the perfect consistency.
While this was doing its thing I put four Yukon gold potatoes in the oven to bake. Again, these could just as easily be boiled in the soup liquid, but I was making baked potato soup so I wanted to bake the potatoes.
2 and 3. Flavoring and Liquids
I used chopped onion, minced garlic, and pepper as my flavoring. I love soup that includes basil or thyme or you could get ethnic with spices like turmeric, ginger, or cinnamon. I am also a big fan of milk as my liquid in soups. It makes it so decadent and rich. It does not cost much more to use milk as the liquid and it keeps you full longer. I just dumped milk straight in the crockpot.
Obviously I do not go exactly in Kirsch’s order. The onions and carrots were already in there and sauteed. The potatoes I let cool, then coarsely chopped. I like leaving the skins on but do as you like. You could also use beans, noodles, rice, or meat here.
5. Cream or milk
Kirsch (and most normal people) like to use broth as a base and add milk for creaminess. If I am doing things this way I like to add heavy cream (I know…). You can also blend cooked rice or potato and add it to the mixture for “creaminess” if that is your thing.
Don’t skimp here. You don’t have to measure it out, and if you used broth you may not need extra salt but there is nothing worse than sodium-free soups.
My friend Michael is big into presentation of food so he could probably give you all kinds of beautiful ways to garnish your soup — basil leaves, drizzles of sour cream or yogurt, edible flowers, or slivers of vegetables/herbs are all great options.
I am not so big into presentation. I love going to expensive restaurants and having things presented but when I cook for myself I usually don’t bother. I don’t make casseroles or anything, I just do not make things perfectly symmetrical and picturesque. Plus I have white square dishes…they make everything look better. For this soup, I stirred sour cream and cheese into the pot before I turned it off. It gave it a more baked potato-y taste and a bit more texture.
If you get to the end and realize your soup’s consistency is wrong, no worries. If it is too thin and chunky, puree some of the vegetables and beans in a food processor or blender then whisk it all together. If it is too thick, just add more liquid. The only thing you can do wrong here is end up with enough soup to feed an army.
Anyone else been making soup? What is your favorite combination? Any I need to try? I’m thinking broccoli and cheese next…
Good Eats: The Quickest and Most Satisfying Meal/Snack on the Planet (And if you are hungering for more, a guest post).
School is gearing up for most of us which means first papers due, lots of reading, and less time than ever to bother to sit down for a full meal. When I was younger, I had the most insane (and active) schedule ever. At one point I was in tumbling classes 2-3 times a week, with an extra private lesson or two (had to get that damn back handspring/back tuck for varsity cheer tryouts) thrown in each week, I had danceline practice two to three times a week, and practice for the dance company I was in anywhere from two to ten hours each week — it was INSANE. Anyhow it meant a lot of meals and snacks in the car and particularly if I was about to go tumble, I had to be careful what I ate. Fortunately my mom and I came up with the best meal/snack ever that to this day we both eat all the time (I am pretty sure she makes it for breakfast most days of the week). What is it?
I know I know…it doesn’t seem very impressive. But check out what it has going for it:
- It can be made in sixty seconds
- You can eat it in the car, on the train, or walking to class
- It does not have to be refrigerated so you can throw it in your bag for later
- It’s cheap!
- You get fiber from the whole grains.
- Antioxidants from the grapes.
- Protein and fat from the scrumptious cheese.
It is pretty much perfection don’t you think? The cheese and crackers give you the savory factor of a “real” meal and the grapes provide something sweet. It may not fuel your marathon training but let’s face it, most of us are sitting in class or at the office all day so we don’t need to fuel for a marathon.
Do you have any go-to meals and snacks I should know about? What do you eat when there is no time for a real meal?
Also, if you think this post is not enough to get you through this Tuesday-that-feels-like-a-Monday, I have a bit more. Over the weekend I guest posted for the lovely Laura of Becoming the Odd Duck. You can check out my post on exercising while in graduate school which you can check out here. It may not be completely novel information to you (or it may be!) but it definitely reminded me how important it is to make time for self-care amidst the craziness.
I always say that and people just kind of look at me like, “It is cookie cake…not a free car.” And maybe most treats are just dessert, but this cake transcends all. I have received marriage proposals after making this cake. It is always the first dessert to be gone at potlucks and among my sweets-loving immediate family, it never lasts more than a day or two. I used to try to keep the recipe semi-secret but there is no reason to be selfish. One warning though…I will not be held responsible for the diabetic coma (or upset stomach) that occurs after you bake it.
- .75 c white sugar
- .75 c brown sugar
- 1.25 c salted butter
- 2 eggs
- 1T Vanilla Extract
- 1 small package of instant pudding mix
- 2.25 c all-purpose flour
- 1 t. baking soda
- 12 oz. bag of chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 9×13 pan.
- Soften butter and cream with sugars.
- Add eggs and vanilla, mix well.
- Add flour, pudding mix, and baking soda. Beat until thoroughly combined.
- Stir in chocolate chips.
- Pour into pan, bake until lightly golden on top. It depends on the oven but, 30 minutes or so usually does the trick.
How simple is that? You can ice it if you would like, but the cake is delicious on its own. You can also cut them into bar cookies, but the recipe will not work as a traditional chocolate chip cookies.
Have a to-die-for recipe you would like to feature or challenge me to make? What is your favorite dessert ever?
We all know vegetarianism (or even “flexitarianism,” eating a mostly vegetarian diet) has its benefits. But it also has drawbacks. One of the worst parts of being a vegetarian is not dining out but being invited to dinner at someone’s house. Unless we are eating at a barbecue joint, I can find something meatless to eat out. At someone else’s house, there are three possibilities:
1. They make something radically different for me to eat, which in addition to making me feel guilty, also makes me feel like a pariah.
2. They don’t bother to make anything vegetarian (even the salad has meat), though they know I’m a vegetarian, then I’m left with the “should I grab a roll and look like a dumbass or be awkward and pretend I am not hungry?” scenario.
3. They make a meal that can be adapted.
My mom is a pro at the last scenario, but the problem is she cooks like, four different meals and enough of each to feed twelve though only two are coming to dinner. Most people (myself included) do not want to be in the kitchen all weekend preparing.
And I know there are plenty of people who feel that vegetarianism is a choice, and it is equally a choice to not serve vegetarian fare. I totally agree, but it is kind of like inviting a diabetic over and only serving regular Coke. Yes they technically can drink it but it will produce ill-effects. Vegetarians are not going to go into a diabetic coma upon eating steak but, most of the vegetarians I know would just as soon go hungry than eat flesh. So let’s forgo all arguments for or against vegetarianism and approach this more from a standpoint of politeness. (I’m looking at you CamRON.)
Meal One: Stroganoff
Bet you did not see that one coming! I didn’t either, until I came across a recipe for mushroom stroganoff and remembered how much I liked it. Beef stroganoff is a classic dish for a reason and mushroom stroganoff does not take much more work. Simply saute mushrooms and onions with garlic and butter, then make the stroganoff sauce with vegetable broth instead of beef. Adventurous meat-eaters can try both, the vegetarians have something hearty enough to consider a meal.
Meal Two: Any Type of “Bar”
Salad, sandwich, baked potato, fajita…the list goes on. Not only are these meals super easy to prep for but they are about as customized as you can get. You could add a couple of pots of soup to the salad bar, chips and fruit to the sandwich, and side salads to the potato bar. Fajitas are easy because rice and beans should be vegetarian anyways, just be sure to include fajita vegetables.
Meal Three: “Parmesan”
Eggplant, chicken, (gulp) veal…they all feature the same method of cooking and the same side dishes. If you don’t want to use separate bowls for the breading and eggs, make the eggplant first. Everyone can eat out of a communal bowl of spaghetti and marinara, as well as enjoy garlic bread and salad. Plus almost everyone likes this meal.
Meal Four: Breakfast
Most of us don’t bother to make lavish breakfasts for our morning meal, so why not make it at night? Omelets, grits, waffles, and cinnamon rolls are all excellent breakfast-for-dinner options. Round out the meal with bacon, sausage, or ham for the meat-eaters and fruit for all.
Alright readers, have more ideas for easily adapted meals? I am ALWAYS on the lookout for more.
As a vegetarian, I seem to be people’s go-to for random fruits and vegetables. But what does an eggplant taste like? But how do I cook green beans that don’t come in a can? Most of the time I have an answer because when you cut out an entire food group, you really have to get creative to not eat the same three meals over and over. Today we are talking about one of my favorites: the humble spaghetti squash.
So now you know what it looks like, but what do you do with it? As you may have guessed from the name, it looks much like spaghetti and while I would not swear it tastes exactly like spaghetti, you can most assuredly substitute it for a much lower calorie/higher fiber meal.
One of my favorite things to make with it? Spaghetti (Squash) Pie!
I’ll give you the recipe but regardless of what you do, you’ll need to know how to cook one. You really cannot mess this up.
Step One: Cut it in Half Lengthwise
This is seriously the hardest part- it is equivalent to cutting a pineapple. Find the biggest, sharpest knife you have and just go for it. Once it is halved, scoop out the seeds and as much pulp as you can.
Step Two: Pick Your Appliance
You can cook the spaghetti squash in the oven or the microwave — it truly makes no difference. In the microwave place one half at a time cut-side down and heat on high for about 10 minutes. Repeat with the second half. If you are using the oven, place both halves in there at 350, and cook until you can piece the outer skin easily with a fork.
Step Three: Chill Out!
Do NOT try to do the next step until your squash is cool enough to handle, otherwise you will end up with steam burns. Once it is cool use the tines of a fork to scrape the squash from top to bottom. Strands that bear a remarkable resemblance to spaghetti will form. Scoop them out seasoning or modifying them as you wish.
To make spaghetti squash pie mix one 15 ounce container of ricotta cheese with one egg. Add three cups of your favorite spaghetti sauce and a ten ounce package of frozen spinach (thawed and drained). Add your favorite spices (I use basil, oregano, and black pepper) then toss it with the spaghetti squash strands.
Transfer to a lightly greased casserole dish and sprinkle with shredded cheese and panko bread crumbs. Bake for 25 minutes on 375 degrees.
It makes a lot and works great as leftovers. Meat-eaters it would be wonderful to add hamburger meat, pepperonis, or diced chicken in there as well.
Ever tried spaghetti squash and have a different recipe? Is there a certain fruit/vegetable you are dying to figure out how to eat/use? I will gladly be the guinea pig and report back!
We have talked about how to buy food on a budget, when to go organic, and some favorite starving student meals. What we have not talked about is what I actually buy at the grocery store. It is hard to capture because I do not have cut-and-dried habits. I don’t buy these three items every week, these four every month, and keep these staples in my house. Sometimes I crave specific meals and make my list based on that, sometimes I have not grocery shopped in ages and end up buying enough food for three weeks, and sometimes I just wander around the store (no small feat at the Market Basket) and decide what I am in the mood for.
The grocery shop I just did, however, is as typical as they come. Remember I had been on the Poverty Diet before I went on vacation, so there really was not food in the house. I did not want to spend a TON of money, but I also wanted enough food for at least a week. I have been eating so irregularly (and such random stuff) for the past month or so that I was definitely craving certain things: yogurt parfaits, cheese and pickle sandwiches, a particular soup and a particular salad (details to follow later), but not SO many things that I needed to make a list. I went down most aisles with a vague sense of what I needed, but also picked up things that were marked down or on sale. The end result?
I followed some of my rules but I did not want to make a special trip to Whole Foods so I just settled for what Market Basket had in some cases, or what was on sale.
In the refrigerated section I bought:
- Free Range Organic Eggs with Omega-3s added
- A half-gallon of Market Basket regular milk
- A half-pound of smoked Gouda cheese
- House brand sliced cheese
- 4 Chobani Plain Yogurts – On sale for $1!!!!
In the aisles I bought:
- Two cans of black beans
- One can of corn
- One can of Heinz Beans in Tomato Sauce (the BEST!)
- Two cans of tomato soup
- Minute Rice – Two individual cups of rice, ready-to-serve (basically)
- Honey roasted peanuts
- Eight-pack miniature Cokes
In the Produce Section I bought:
- Organic Romaine Hearts
- Two Oranges
- Two Apples
- Two Avocados
- Six Tomatoes
- Six Broccoli Crowns
- Whole Grain Sandwich Bread
Let’s break it down a little.
There are some things I will never compromise on — like the eggs. But I must pick and choose what I can go organic on and what I need to buy regular and/or generic. The eggs were more important to me than milk. I also prefer Fage 2% yogurt but they did not have it and Chobani was on sale. I could have gotten organic milk, organic cheese, and Fage 2% yogurt at Whole Foods but that would have easily been $20 more (I have a love-hate relationship with that place) which I could not justify. They had organic milk at Market Basket, but I had to buy way too much of it and it would have gone to waste (plus it was $3 more).
In the aisles I had a similar process.
Heinz beans are really expensive ($2 a can!) but they are much better for you and taste better than traditional baked beans, so I picked up one can. I needed nuts and was leaning more towards walnuts, but the peanuts were on sale and I love honey roasted nuts. The rice was a definite splurge even from something like Success Boil-in-the-Bag rice, but I knew I was much more likely to make what I had in mind if I bought this brand…plus that aisle was ridic crowded and I wanted out. I compensated by choosing house brand black beans and corn. I bought Bear Naked Granola instead of house brand because it was significantly lower in sugar. The Cokes I typically drink when I have a headache. I don’t like generic here, and I could have definitely saved money with a two-liter or even a 12 pack, but these are the perfect size (seven ounces) both in terms of my needs/wants and calories (90 per can).
In the Produce Section:
I buy organic romaine because it is on the Dirty Dozen list. I love blueberries anyhow, but Market Basket had a sale so that solidified that decision (a big container for $2.50). The tomatoes and broccoli crowns were TOTAL impulse buys. I needed more than romaine as my vegetables, but did not know exactly what I wanted. All six tomatoes were less than $2.50, and the broccoli crowns were a similar price — sold! The other few things (apples, avocados, oranges) I bought either based on taste or recipes.
Total Bill? $55. Not too shabby! There were definite places I could have saved money (the rice, Heinz beans, anything organic) but overall I was pleased with my decisions. Obviously I am vegetarian, but you still could have spent the same amount by not buying three cans of beans or a dozen eggs and adding some chicken, tuna, or lunch meat instead.
What do you think dolls? Was this helpful? Something I should have bought that I left out? Something I spent too much money on? What are some of your grocery staples?
Pierogies are most popular in Eastern Europe and Russia, but since the Northeast received gads of immigrants from these places, you are much more likely to find them in a restaurant up here than in the South. I had a Polish grandfather, however, so pierogies were a staple of my childhood.
What the heck is a Pierogi?
Half-moon shaped dumplings filled with potato and various toppings. The word dumpling seems inherently wrong for a pierogi, however, as it connotes noodles to me. This is more of a pastry outside than a noodle.
My grandparents used to make them until they discovered this in the frozen section of their grocery store:
They taste just as good and can be made in a matter of minutes. Also if you are awesome (or maybe just Polish?) you pronounce them Peh-DOUGH-gies. I have no idea why but I have never heard the “r” pronounced by anyone in my extended family. The above is actually a new variety but they make potato and cheddar, potato, broccoli, and cheese, potato, cheese, and jalepeno, … tons of flavors.
How do you cook Pierogies?
There are a number of ways, actually. You can boil or microwave them but do NOT do this…then you really will have what looks like limp noodles filled with potatoes. The hands-down best method is to saute them. My mom fries them in oil, but I just add a little butter to a skillet and saute until the outsides are golden.
They are best eaten with Sour Cream for dipping. An “official” serving size is 3, but I have never seen anyone eat that few if they can help it — they are SO delicious.
How do you make a meal out of Pierogis?
Serve them as your starchy side. If you are a meat eater, they are a wonderful alternative to baked potatoes with steak or grilled chicken. Pierogies, green beans or salad, then a form of protein makes a complete meal. One summer day I made pierogies and caprese salad — I swear it was one of the best meals I have had all season. Pierogies are great for when you have guests for dinner because not only are they quick and easy to make, but they are really unique. Most people have not eaten them so they walk away impressed…even though all you did was turn on the stove and buy some sour cream.
Have you eaten pierogies? Do you have a favorite meal to make with them? I would love some new vegetarian options!
My Summer Language Program is finally over and I could not be more relieved. I also have never been more in need of a drink. I probably should have done this sooner but we still have six weeks left in summer so I thought I would share my favorite summer drink, the Tom Collins. It is light, refreshing, and unlike those 32 ounce frozen daiquiris, won’t make you feel like you need to throw up from the amount of sugar you just consumed.
Basic Recipe for a Tom Collins:
- 2 ounces gin
- 1 ounce lemon juice
- 1t superfine sugar
- 3 ounces club soda
- 1 maraschino cherry
- 1 slice orange
Simply combine the gin, lemon juice, and sugar in a shaker half-filled with ice, and strain into a ice-filled Collins class. Add club soda and garnish with the cherry and orange.
It tastes like sparkling lemonade and the gin is definitely disguised by the citrus. You can also use vodka if you’d like for a Vodka Collins (but I would use gin)
Happy Sipping, dolls! What’s your favorite summer drink?
Sometimes we are so broke we can only afford rice and beans, but sometimes we have a bit more money. When you do have the cash, might I suggest splurging on a few products for days when you are not only a broke-ass but also have no time to stop for a meal? My dad and his friends travel insane amounts and needed a quick snack or meal that could be tossed into their bags. Solution? Greens+ Bars.
Have you ever gone into a health food store and seen the vat of murky green liquid? Apparently people drink it. I am not one of those people. These bars include that same mixture but since it is in a bar, you cannot taste it. Though I enjoy the taste of Luna Bars and Detour Bars, I tend not to eat them because of the sheer number of ingredients listed, most of which I have never heard of and sound vaguely like something from my Chemistry class. Greens+ bars still have a shit-ton of ingredients, but you can recognize ALL of them (provided you are semi-into health food). Would you like to see?
This is from the Natural Peanut Butter Protein Bar:
Ingredients: Organic peanut butter, whey protein isolate, organic agave nectar, organic quinoa sprout powder, original GREENS+® (GMO-free soy lecithin, organic Hawaiian spirulina, organic apple fiber, barley grass powder, wheat grass powder, Japanese chlorella, hydroponic soy sprouts, organic brown rice bran, sprouted barley malt, alfalfa grass powder, dairy-free probiotics, royal jelly, Montana bee pollen, acerola berry juice, natural vitamin E, licorice root powder, milk thistle extract, echinacea root extract, Siberian eleuthero root extract, astragalus root extract, licorice root extract, organic red beet juice, dunaliella salina algae, organic Nova Scotia Dulse, organic ginkgo biloba leaf extract, organic Japanese green tea extract, grape seed and skin extract, organic Swedish bilberry extract), organic brown rice crisps, Omega3 Chia seed oil, mixed tocopherols (natural vitamin E).
As all you healthnuts can see, it is chock-full of superfoods and herbs: Chia, green tea, grape seed, algae, wheat grass, spirulina, and quinoa just to name a few. The nutritional stats are not too shabby either:
- Calories 240
- Fat 11 g (4 g from Monounsaturated fats)
- Cholesterol 5 mg
- Sodium 45 mg
- Carbs 20 g
- Protein 20 g
- Vitamin A 70%
- Vitamin B-12 216%
- Vitamin C 30%
- Vitamin E 133%
- Iron 13%
If you are like me, after reading that you probably thought “It sounds like it would taste horrible.” But they actually are pretty delicious! It is no homemade meal fresh from the oven, but for a bar I find them tasty. It is a little weird biting into it and realizing the middle is green, but once you get over that they are great. You do not taste the green, it is just there (like people who put spinach in their blueberry smoothies).
Here is what the company says about its product:
“We’ve combined organically grown superfoods, whey protein, high energy herbal extracts and a little agave nectar to produce the only cold-processed, alkaline-forming, protein-rich green food bar. The GREENS+® Protein Bar contains no processed sugar, salt, corn syrup, hydrogenated oil, synthetic sweeteners, preservatives, or genetically-modified foods of any kind.
“The GREENS+® Protein Bar delivers low-glycemic carbohydrates, essential fatty acids and biologically-complete protein to help build lean muscle and balance the body’s blood sugar. Perfect for athletes seeking an edge, students, travelers, children of all ages, and anyone in need of optimum energy, superior well being, and peak performance. Eat one bar as a healthy snack between meals, or two bars for a complete meal replacement. For best results, chase with 8oz of pure water. Store in a cool dry place or refrigerate for extended shelf life.”
The only downside of course is the price. At $36 for 12 bars they are not cheap. For bars this price is average — for a graduate student who can get an entire week’s worth of groceries for $36 or less, it seems extravagant. But if you end up with some extra money or need a good Christmas idea to give to someone, these are definitely worth the cost.
Have you tried Greens+ Bars? Would you? Any other bars I should try?
My dad calls macaroni and cheese the breakfast, lunch, and dinner of champion grad students. I used to laugh but now I totally get it. There are certain weeks when my kitchen is so stocked with fresh food that I can hardly decide what to make — it all just looks delicious. And then there are weeks where to stay on budget I have $200 to get me through three or four weeks (and that includes paying a few bills) and I just make do with what I have. Enter the Starving Student Collection.
Here I will be featuring meals that are pretty nutritious but cost less that $5 for a few servings. First up? Rice and Beans.
Now if you are super thrifty you can get dried beans and rice for way cheaper, it just takes a lot more time to prepare and if you are a student, that might be time you do not have. This took 90 seconds to heat the rice, 60 seconds to heat the beans and presto. Complex carbs, protein, and a ton of antioxidants.
You can stop here…plenty of nations subsist on plain rice and beans. Or you can add a little more to the mix, depending on what you have lying around your house. I bought an onion for 79 cents the last time I was at the store so I chopped that up and roasted it to add some vitamins to the mix (chromium, Vitamin C, manganese, potassium, and folate to name a few). I also found about an ounce of feta leftover from when my mom came in town a month ago (not to worry, I checked the expiration date). If you happen to have an avocado or guacamole then Congratulations my friend you have hit the jackpot! Get creative with what you have lying around but remember — you have to eat it so don’t get too creative and end up with something so disgusting you refuse to eat it (been there, done that).
So for roughly $4, I made a nutritious meal that I can eat again – -not too shabby! And the basic version costs less than $3, about 50 cents if you make it from dried rice and beans.
I’ll be bringing you more Starving Student Meals later on but for now does anyone have ideas they would like to share?
It is almost lunchtime here in Boston and I am starving! I have not gotten into specifically Northeastern meals yet, mostly because it is lobster season and in case you have not figured it out yet, I am a vegetarian. This hardly makes me one to advise you on the best Lobster bisque recipe. To be fair, the following sandwich is not actually Northeastern, but it does come from the ancestors of the Northeast (the British) so close enough, right? Allow me to introduce you to the “Ploughman sandwich” also known as the cheese and pickle sandwich:
As I did when I first saw it, you may be thinking, “WTF is that brown stuff!?” It looks kind of like Vegemite and on a sandwich labeled “cheese and pickle” it definitely causes a second glance. This my friends, is the star of the show. Crosse and Blackwell make it in Britain but you can find it in the US (or just beg people to bring it home with them from Europe like I do). What is it exactly? It is a spread, with a chutney-type texture. Basically it is chopped pickled vegetables in a sweet-and-sour kind of sauce. That sounds disgusting, right? But it isn’t! The pickles we are used to are just pickled cucumbers, so the Brits throw a few other vegetables into the mix then gave them a sauce. It has more of the dill pickle taste than bread and butter taste, but it also has a sweet note that makes it amazing. As for the sandwich? It takes 90 seconds to make and is incredibly satisfying. Simply spread mayonnaise on bread, add loads of lettuce and tomato, then slices of sharp cheddar cheese. Smear with pickle and eat.
Serve with an apple or a side salad and you are in business.
Anyone tried pickle? Do you love it or hate it? Have another 90 second sandwich I should try? Or a Northeastern recipe I simply must make? Let me know!
My good friend Amber and I have vowed to get together once a month or so and try a new recipe. Our original intention was not to be outrageous, but it seems that that is where things have turned. Our first recipe came from the Pillsbury site. I honestly did not know the cute little dough boy had it in him to be outrageous but not to worry…he did. Check out the ingredients:
In case you cannot tell, you will need:
- 1.5 cups All-Purpose Flour
- .3 cup Cocoa Powder
- 1 cup packed Brown Sugar
- 1 t Baking Soda
- .25 t Salt
- .3 c Oil
- 1 c Water
- 1 T White Vinegar
- .5 t Vanilla Extract
- 1 Egg
- 8 oz. Cream Cheese
- .75 c Peanut Butter
- .3 c Powdered Sugar
- .3 c Granulated Sugar
- .5 c Peanut Butter Chips
- .5 c Chocolate Chips
Still with me? Good! Because the recipe only makes 18 standard-sized cupcakes. So like, NINE servings. Dare you proceed? Don’t say I did not warn you:
Step One: Don’t Lick the Beaters
I love licking beaters…and batter bowls…and spatulas. But seriously, this part does NOT taste good because of the vinegar. We had our doubts as to if the recipe would turn out but no worries.
Step Two: Try NOT to Eat All Of This Batter Before You Make the Cakes
Step Three: Assemblage
Just for fun, we decided to make miniature, regular, and jumbo cakes because I had all three sizes of muffin pans and hey, if we are being outrageous why not?! All you do is layer the chocolate mixture on the bottom, top with a generous dollop of the peanut butter mixture, then cover with the chocolate. Sprinkle with as many chocolate and peanut butter chips as you can fit in each.
Step Four: Try Not To Go Into A Diabetic Coma
Any requests for Outrageous cooking you would love to see? Any recipes that can out-rageous this one (I doubt it!)? I would love to hear about it!
Sweet iced tea is one of the defining staples of the South, particularly the Deep South. And yet, it is kind of easy to mess up. Today I am bringing two types of tea to the table: Basic Sweet and Orange Spice. The first few steps are the same.
Step One: Boil Tea
If you do not have an iced tea maker, no worries. You can boil water in a tea kettle, a spaghetti pot, over a fire, etc. You will need about a gallon. Steep three-five Iced Tea Bags in the boiling water. I usually use three but I could definitely use the tea stronger so five might be better.
Step Two: Add Sugar
Since people in the Deep South do not care about a little thing called diabetes we add sugar in copious amounts.
If you just want a basic sweet tea then Congratulations! You have done it. To make it snazzier add sliced rounds of orange and lemon to the pitcher. If you want to get a little more advanced, keep reading.
Step Three: Juice the Citrus
So maybe you are awesome and have one of those little tools that juices citrus. I don’t. No big deal it just takes a bit more work. If you microwave the fruit for 30 seconds or so it makes the juice come out easier.
Add the fruit juice to the tea and get out the last secret weapon: mint.
If you are not a big fan of citrus and tea together, you could also just add mint. It adds a nice element to the whole thing.
And there you have it! I do not advise making this very often unless you want to gain a few pounds because once you start drinking it it is incredibly hard to stop.
Also get excited because the next recipe I feature contains NO SUGAR! But it does have heavy cream and cheese. What can I say, I learned to cook in Louisiana.
Any other iced tea fanatics out there? How do you make yours? A new recipe I must try? I am already giddy at the thought of this type of tea.
“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” — Virginia Woolf.
Ginny also filled her coat with rocks and drowned herself in the River Ouse so I am not sure how seriously we should take her advice. And the recipe I am about to share may not be exactly what she had in mind anyhow, but it will make you happy. And “happy people don’t kill their husbands. They just don’t.”
Most banana pudding recipes are pretty basic, you might argue. Bananas, pudding, Nilla wafers. Not this one my friends. This recipe includes a couple of extra ingredients that will change your life.
- 2 c. milk
- 4-5 Bananas
- 1 large pkg. instant vanilla pudding (or 1.5 small ones)
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 box Nilla wafers
- 1 pint Whipping Cream*
* I know Cool Whip is easier to use, I do. But if the fact that it is made out of about ten different kinds of chemicals does not convince you not to use it, maybe this will.
Getting the Party Started:
Step One: Whip That Cream
Step Two: Pudding Part One
Now that you swear you’ll never make homemade whipped cream again (ohhhh but you will. Taste it.), it is time to make the pudding. Two cups of milk, 1 large or 1.5 small packages of instant vanilla pudding (if your local grocery is jank and does not sell large boxes) and only TWO more minutes with the mixer. You can do it! At least we aren’t churning by hand, yes?
Step Three: Nectar of the Gods
Everyone assumes I am joking about this, but I can eat Sweetened Condensed Milk straight off the spoon. We never kid about SC milk — it seriously is the most amazing thing ever. Look, even Yoda wanted some (this was after being scolded at trying to jump on the table – I caught him mid-air):
Add one can of SC milk and roughly the amount of whipped cream you would find in an eight ounce Cool Whip container to the pudding and mix to combine. I use about 2/3 of the pint. Reserve the other third.
Oooookay. Put aside all electric mixers and get ready to layer. I used a wooden salad bowl for my banana pudding because again, I was tired of gladware but do as you like.
Step Four: The Layers
Layer two of the bananas (sliced) on top of the nilla wafers, and half of the pudding mixture on top of that. Repeat (wafers, banana slices, and pudding mixture).