Mission Statement

Culinary Adventures in a College Kitchen

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Peppermint Crisscross Cookies

I do a lot of holiday baking. A lot.

I love baking for friends and family, though. It allows me all the fun of being in the kitchen without having to search out all of my elastic waistband pants.

I also love baking at home. Why, do you ask? Well, it has a lot to do with this handsome piece of apparatus. I don't regularly objectify kitchen pieces, but this one is just asking for it. I mean, look at it. Seriously.

I have its child (the hand-held mixer) at school and it is not nearly as fun to play with.

Anyhoo, for my friends this year I decided to make these peppermint cookies. I actually found them in a Weight Watchers magazine. There is nothing WW about them. Trust me.

They are delicious and a cinch to make. Just pray that your oven doesn't start smoking while preheating like mine did. And that you don't end up waving oven mits frantically in front of the alarm so that it doesn't sound.


Peppermint Crisscross Cookies

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup crushed peppermint candies

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl and set aside. In another bowl, cream the butter with a mixer until fluffy. Add the sugar and combine. Next, add the egg and vanilla, mixing until well incorporated. Add the flour mixture, doing it in two batches. Use either a mixer or a spatula. Fold in the peppermint candies.

Drop tablespoons on a lined or greased baking sheet, placing the dough 2 inches apart. With a fork, press the tines firmly on the top of the cookie to form the crisscross pattern.

Bake for 14-15 minutes until the bottoms are brown and the centers are firm.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Sweet Potato Lentil Stew

Want to know the scariest six letter word for a college student?

Finals.

Six innocent, innocuous letters prove positively terrifying when linked together. I am breaking out into hives just thinking about it.

In general, I am not a nervous tester. I do my preparation, I know the material, and there is little to worry about. Finals are different, though. I think it has to do with the finality of it all. It's the last grade. Last chance.

Anyway, in an attempt to not entirely freak out over it all, I am going to share a recipe with you. It is delicious. It is quick. And it is warm and filling. Not going to lie-I ate this for three meals one day. It's that good.

Sweet Potato Lentil Stew

Ingredients:

2-3 medium sweet potatoes
1 cup lentils
7 cups stock
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp coriander

Directions:

Peel the sweet potatoes and cube into uniform sized pieces. Put the potatoes and lentils into a large soup bowl and cover with the stock. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Add the spices and let simmer for 40 minutes until the potatoes are tender.

Serve on its own or over some brown rice or spinach.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cranberry Sauce

There are many good things to say about dorm life:

Community

Dining Halls

Elevator boys

Not even elevator boys, though, can redeem my dorm from the pesky nuisance that is the room below me. This room has a girl who happens to plays the violin. At all hours of the day and night. For the past two nights I have been woken up at midnight by off-tune scales.

I will feed my irritation with a holiday classic.

Cranberry Sauce

1 lb fresh cranberries
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup water

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let cook for 5-7 minutes until the cranberries begin to pop.

Take off heat and let cool. The finished cranberry sauce should still be a bit chunky. I generally eat it cold, but that just may be a weird eating habit of mine.






Wednesday, December 1, 2010

3-Ingredient-Butternut Squash Soup


Hello everyone!!

It has been a while. And while I would like to say the lag in posting was due to excessive schoolwork or some other noble cause, it isn't. I ran out of batteries.

So, with batteries bought and the stove a-burnin', I bring you a recipe.

3-Ingredient-Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients:

1 medium butternut squash (peeled and cubed)
3 1/2 cups water
2 pinches salt

Directions:

Place cubed squash into a large soup pot and cover with the water. Add a pinch of salt, cover the pot, and bring to a boil. Let simmer for 15 minutes.

With a potato masher, break down the squash in the bowl. Add a pinch of salt, cover, and let simmer for another 7-10 minutes.

Try adding some spices at the end. Add a little curry powder for kick, or try some cinnamon or nutmeg for a true taste of the seasons :)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Post Surgery

Hi all!

So it has been almost five days since my surgery and I just wanted to type up a quick post because I have been quite antsy to do so. I haven't had a lot of time surprisingly to post, mostly because I have been trying to spend time with the boy and then of course my friends from high school who are home for our week long break for Thanksgiving.

It has been really nice and even post surgery I don't feel worse for wear. Well, besides the fact I can't workout besides walking. I never realized how much you use your back until you try to come up with workouts that wont stress it, don't involve lifting and such.

I've been very lucky by being back home because I have a dog that requires at least a 45 minute walk a day so it truly has been perfect for me!

Anyway, on to food. Unfortunately, for the first two days after surgery I wasn't very hungry but I have thankfully regained my appetite in time for Turkey Day :)

The times that I did eat were pretty light but today I definitely had an appetite.

For breakfast I had a heaping bowl of oats soaked in vanilla creamer with some cranberries and walnuts on top. I actually didn't finish the bowl and I pawned it off to my mom would finished it. I am so greatful for her help after my surgery--from getting me my medicine to finishing oatmeal. Best mother I could ask for.
After my huge breakfast I decided to do a bit of cleaning and then went out to coffee with a few high school friends but since I already had a large cup in the morning I just had an herbal vanilla rooibos tea which hit the spot but I did come home and devoured a bowl of Brown Cow Strawberry greek yogurt with Kashi! Go Lean and frozen mixed berries.

A little messy in the bowl, but oh so delicious!

I didn't have a chance to take a picture of dinner because my brother's girlfriend was over and well, I didn't want to scare her off ;) But you can bet as soon as she's over enough she'll be seeing camera.

Well, that's all for now I'm afraid, have a wonderful Thanksgiving with whoever you may be celebrating it with!

Byeeeee.

-Jen

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Party in My Mouth


So today was by far one of the greatest lunches I've had. Simply because when I was in Aldi the other day, I picked up one of the most amazing fruits on earth.

Ladies and gents...
The Pomegranate!!!

I nearly had a heart attack when I saw the large area devoted to this tasty piece straight from the gods. It has been such a long time coming and heck, I bought quite a few of these. So naturally, when I got home from class early today I had to make use of these.

I only have two more days of school because on Wednesday I get my surgery on my cyst on my back. Granted I like the fact I get to head home early but, I am in recovery for about three weeks which means no running! Which....means I will be doing a lot of walking to class and my diet is going to have to change to make up for the lack of physical activity. Not exactly
a win-win.

Anyway, for lunch I made a delicious bowl of strawberry greek yogurt, the last of my Kashi G0Lean cereal and pomegranate. It was so pretty I just didn't want to eat it.


But of course I did!

It was delicious and super filling which meant I will be fueled by this for my run later. My friend Christina and I have been on a major running kick lately even though Mother Nature has been biting back with a bit of chilly weather.

But will that stop us? Of course not!

Well that's all for now, considering I should be working on homework because I am in study hours right now.

Byeeeee.

xo Jen

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Black and White Cookies

Reasons why I need a cookie:

1) Two tests

2) The death of my spatula and utter disarray of my kitchen


The spatula before its tumultuous fall to its death

4) The unintentional murder of my microwave


It has been a hell of a week.

Black and White Cookies

For the Cookies:

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup shaken buttermilk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup butter
2 eggs

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a separate bowl mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk and vanilla. Cream together the sugar and butter until the mixture is fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, blend until incorporated. Alternately, add the buttermilk mixture and flour mixture.

Use a 1/4 cup measure and scoop cookie dough onto prepared baking sheet, 2 inches part. These do spread so make sure to put enough room between them. Bake for 15-17 minutes, until the tops spring back when touched.

Let cool with bottoms facing up and prepare the white and black glaze.

White glaze:

2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp light corn syrup
2 tbsp hot water

Chocolate glaze:

4 oz semi-sweet chocolate
3 tbsp butter
1 tbsp light corn syrup

Directions for glazes:

Simply combine the ingredients for the white glaze. For the chocolate, combine the chocolate and butter and microwave until it is melted. Add the corn syrup.

Frost the bottom of the cookies, one side black and the other white. Let chill in the refrigerator to allow the glaze to set.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Meatless Meat-Sauce Pasta

Last night, I had dinner with Paul Newman.


And he made me do all the cooking.

Anyhoo, it was one of those nights where I didn't feel like cooking but there was nothing that I could just zap in the microwave. I considered a salad but the bag of lettuce I bought a week back had started procreating. So, I went for the next best thing. Pasta.

The recipe below is for one serving but you could easily double or triple it.

Meatless Meat-Sauce Pasta

Ingredients:

1/3 cup pasta
1/2 cup marinara sauce
1/4 cup protein crumbles

Directions:

Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Meanwhile, combine the marinara sauce and protein crumbles in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for one minute. Take out and stir.

Once the pasta is cooked, add to the bowl and toss to coat.

For the spinach on the side: heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a saute pan and add spinach. Cook until wilted.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

It's Halloween!!!

It's Halloween, y'all!!

My Halloween weekend was pretty amazing. There was candy. Dancing. And general frivolity.


That's me in the middle...getting my Rachel Berry on :D

What were you guys for Halloween?! I can't wait to hear all of your costumes!!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Costumes and Halloween Candy Bark

I lloooovvveee Halloween. Yes, I may be 20. And does this mean I should be a bit more mature? Sure. But I am still dressing up!

The costumes?

Well, since I am terrible at keeping secrets I'll just let it slip:

Rachel Berry (Glee)

AND Lucy Ricardo



Two costumes for a weekend of spook-tastic entertainment ;-)

My original idea was Rachel Berry but I went costume shopping with a friend and when I saw the Lucy costume I just couldn't say no. I mean, it has a red wig that will completely clash with my brown eyebrows. How could I say no?

Anyway, since I am in the Halloween spirit I wanted to make some treats to bring to my friends and I found the perfect thing!

Halloween Candy Bark

Ingredients:

1 lb semisweet chocolate
4 Butterfingers coarsely chopped
4 Heath bars coarsely chopped
8 Reeses Peanut Butter Cups chopped
3 oz Peanut M&Ms

Directions:

Line a baking sheet with foil. In a microwave safe bowl melt the chocolate in 20 second increments. Makes sure to watch it so that it doesn't burn!

Pour the chocolate onto the prepared baking sheet and smooth out with a spoon. Sprinkle the chopped candy over the chocolate, pressing it down gently so it will adhere.

Put in the refrigerator and let it set for at least one hour. When it is hardened peel off the foil and break into irregular pieces. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Question: What are you going as for Halloween?? I want to hear all of your costume ideas!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Chicken Florentine


Chicago is supposed to be hit with a storm being heralded as the worse in 70 years. Right now, though, all I am seeing are blue skies. Some clouds. I think they are cumulous. I could be wrong. (Probably am).

I'm not too worried about the whole storm thing, though.

You see, I've got some chicken. Some wine. And a whole season of Glee waiting for me to sing along with it. So, epic storm, bring it on. I'm ready for you.

Chicken Florentine

Ingredients:

4 chicken breast halves
salt/pepper
flour (for dredging)
2 tbsp chopped shallots
2 cloves minced garlic
1 1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
6 tbsp butter
2 10 oz boxes of frozen spinach (defrosted and drained)

Directions:

Season the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Next, put flour into a shallow bowl and dredge the chicken in it. Make sure to get an even coating, shaking off the excess.

In a large saute pan, melt 2 tbsp of butter and add the chicken. Cook for five minutes on each side until the chicken is browned and cooked through. Remove the chicken from the pan and add another 2 tbsp of butter and the shallots and garlic. Cook until the shallots are translucent-about one minute.

Add the white wine and bring to a boil, cooking until the liquid is reduced by half-about three minutes. Next, add the cream and cook until the liquid reduces again by half-about three minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the cooked chicken breasts and coat in the sauce.

Meanwhile, melt the remaining butter in a separate saute pan and add the spinach, cooking until it is heated. Season with salt and pepper.

Place the spinach on a serving platter and lay the chicken on top. Mangia!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Typical

Being in college has taught me something about eating and exercising--it is difficult around those who do not practice the same things you do. (This conversation suddenly sounds religious...) Fortunately, I feel I'm pretty lucky to have my friend Christina also known as CC, participate in a healthy lifestyle as well. I think having a friend is extremely important especially because they will push you.

So while pursuing my healthy lifestyle my meals have been pretty much consisting of the following:

Breakfast:

Lately I've been loving anything that resemble oatmeal products like Live Laugh Eat's Oatmeal Pancakes as well as greek yogurt with a sandwich thin slabbed in almond butter with topped with some form of fruit.

Lunch has been everything from wraps to salads.
Dinner has fortunately consisted of a little bit of cooking; a little bit of pasta tossed with some
vegetables, a homemade pizza from the book, Hungry Girl. As well as veggie burgers with sweet potato fries and veggies. Simple, healthy and easy. Perfect on an on the go college girl.


Hopefully today I'll be able to post one more time :)

Byeeee for now.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Warm Apple Crisp



It is a Saturday night and my roommate and I are sitting watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding while eating homemade Apple Crisp.

And before that we watched When Harry Met Sally...


We are so cool.

Baked Apple Crisp

Ingredients:

4 red apples peeled, cored, and sliced
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp butter
1 egg

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Prepare the apples and then mix them in the baking dish with the brown sugar. In a separate bowl mix the sugar, salt, flour, and cinnamon together. Add the wet ingredients and then pour over the apples.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the top turns golden brown.

In honor of my romantic comedy filled night: What's your favorite romantic comedy? Mine is definitely When Harry Met Sally... It gets me every time!


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Salted Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies



Every Thursday I have lunch with some friends from high school. Last week my friend Amanda said, "Liz, you should bring us cookies every Thursday."

It was a joke, but I never pass up an opportunity to pass my baking adventures onto my friends. Besides, I get to sample a few myself which totally makes it all worthwhile. So, this morning I ventured into my kitchen and set out to make some cookies.

But not just any cookies, my friends.

These are double chocolate chunk cookies with not a bit of cocoa powder in them. You know that means? Twenty ounces of semi-sweet chocolate.

I blanched at the grocery bill for this one-luckily the results are pretty fan-freaking-tastic.

Salted Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Ingredients:

8 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped coarsely
4 tbsp unsalted butter
2/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp sea salt (plus more for sprinkling)
2 large eggs at room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped coarsely

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a microwave safe bowl, combine 8 oz of chocolate and the butter. Microwave at 30 seconds increments until the chocolate and butter are completely melted. Make sure to keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, mix the brown sugar and eggs with a handheld mixer until the sugar is completely dissolved, roughly 4-5 minutes. With the mixer on low, add the chocolate and mix until well-combined. Using a spatula, mix in the flour. Make sure to scrape down the sides. Fold in the remaining 12 oz chocolate with a spatula.

Either spray your cookie sheets with cooking spray or use parchment paper. Scoop heaping tablespoons of the batter onto the cookie sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through. The cookies should have crackly tops and be slightly soft in the center when done.

Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest on the cookie sheets for ten minutes. Sprinkle the cookies with extra salt.

Source: Annie's Eats

Monday, October 18, 2010

Vegan Pumpkin-Banana Bread

I think the definition of Monday should just read: blah. I don't even have class until late afternoon on Mondays but it still gets me every week.

And this morning I had to do my laundry, which just put me in a splendid mood. The funny thing is, I put off laundry all weekend so I knew I had to do it this morning, yet when I looked at my full hamper I still went: Really?!

That is why this pumpkin-banana bread is necessary. It is necessary because laundry is stupid. And Mondays are icky. And my vocabulary has become that of a five year old.

Vegan Pumpkin-Banana Bread

Ingredients:

2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (which I never seem to have)

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 cup canola oil

4 very ripe bananas

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Combine the first set of ingredients (flour to pumpkin pie spice) in a large bowl. In a separate bowl combine the second set of ingredients (brown sugar to the canola oil) and then add to the flour mixture. Combine with an electric mixer until the batter is smooth. Next, add the bananas and mix. Make sure not to overcombine because you want to see some chunks of banana.

Bake for one hour, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Or if you are like me and lack proper baking items like toothpicks, take out after an hour, wish for the best, and be very (extremely) happy that the lack of eggs means no possible salmonella.

Source: The Weekly Bite

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Curry Along

As you probably know, I bought some curry powder and now have been dreaming up all sorts of different ways to use it. I threw it in with some tempeh. I've been dreaming about shannalikebanana's idea to toss it with some pumpkin. But with a whole block of tofu and spinach in my fridge, I decided to attempt to recreate one of my favorite Indian dishes.

I used tofu instead of cheese in this version, purely because it was what I had on hand, but the texture paired really well with the spinach. Added bonus of not using cheese? It makes this vegan!

Saag Paneer

Spinach
Extra-firm Tofu
Olive Oil
Curry Powder
Salt

Start by preheating the oven at 400 degrees. Wrap the tofu in a paper towel (I used coffee filters due to my lack of papertowels-bad choice, lol) and press between two plates. Put something heavy on the top plate and let the tofu sit for 5-10 minutes. Next, unwrap the tofu and chop it into small squares. Spread on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray and sprinkle on salt. Bake for 25 minutes, turning it over halfway through.

For the spinach, heat up about 1 tbsp of olive oil on the stovetop and then add the spinach and roughly 1 tsp of curry powder. Depending on how hot you like your food you can add more or less of the curry powder. Cook down the spinach and then add the tofu and mix together.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Happy Days Are Here Again

It's been a long day, but this song never fails to make me smile. I hope it can brighten your night, too.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

HI!

Hi all!

Jen here! Yes, Jen. I figured I would say a quick hi and apologize for my absence but would like to applaud Liz for keeping up with the blog. She is amazing.

So thanks Liz :)

So where have I been?

I have been super involved with school as of late. I am in my very first studio class so I am devoting a lot of my time to that as well with my sorority. Shockingly enough I have been extremely healthy despite my busy schedule. I am sad to say, my workout schedule has been suffering so I have been trying to make up for it by walking to class a lot.

That's all I have for now.

But goodbye, see you soon!!!!

Oh wait!

I have a recipe for Skinny Pumpkin Muffins! :)

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin
1/4 cup milk

1. Mix together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
2. Beat the butter until creamy,then beat in the sugar. Add the eggs one at a time. Beat in the pumpkin and the milk. Beat in the flour mixture.
3. Put batter into 12 greased muffin cups. Bake about 25 minutes at 400 degrees until toothpick comes out clean

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Curried Tempeh Salad

Hello!

The weather has been crazy in Chicago lately. One day it is freezing cold. The next suddenly 70 degrees. Usually I wouldn't really mind except for the fact that I have consistently been choosing the wrong type of coat each day. Weather, make up yo' mind!

Clearly, I want it to be cold because all of my food choices are leaning toward the warm and cozy types. I've been slurping on soup and making pumpkin oats like they're going out of style. Last night's dinner was no different.

I bought a block of tempeh from Trader Joes a while back (hopefully not too long of a while back) and gaining inspiration from Une Vie Saine's Mexi-tempeh dish I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it. I didn't have any of the Mexican ingredients that was used in Gabrielle's recipe but I did have an unopened jar of curry powder. And some random carrots.

Hence, a recipe was born!

Curried Tempeh Salad

Ingredients:

1/2 block multigrain tempeh
1/2 tsp curry powder
baby carrots
spinach

Directions:

Bring a pot of water to boil and add the carrots. Boil until crisp-tender, 4-5 minutes.

Meanwhile, crumble the tempeh into a microwave safe bowl and add the curry powder. Mix with a fork until well-combined and then microwave for one minute.

Plate the spinach and add the heated tempeh and carrots.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Pumpkin-Butterscotch Cookies

I've never met a cookie that I didn't like. Really, from basic chocolate chip to the more exotic Lemon Ricotta -I love them all. Well, this weekend I met a cookie that might just make me exclusive.

Enter the pumpkin-butterscotch cookie.

It's not a looker but it tastes so good it'll make you a believer, too. It turned me into a one-cookie sort of woman. Yup, it's that good.

On a different note, I feel the need to show off my apron. I feel all Julia Child when I wear it.

Now, back to our scheduled program.

Pumpkin-Butterscotch Cookies

Ingredients:

2 cups of flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup pumpkin
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup butterscotch chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon and set aside.

Using a hand-held mixer combine the sugar and eggs until pale yellow, roughly one minute. Add the pumpkin, vegetable oil, and vanilla and mix together until combined. Add the flour in two batches, combining with a rubber spatula.

Spoon cookies out onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake for 14-16 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through. The cookies are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or the bottoms turn golden.

Source: Annie's Eats