Mission Statement

Culinary Adventures in a College Kitchen

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Vacationers

For the past week I have been on vacation and being the irresponsible blogger that I am, I neglected to tell any of you. Here are some pictures as a peace offering.

My parents and I started off in Virginia to visit my brother where he goes to graduate school. Our first big trip was to a little town called Alexandria that was so cute I was ready to plop myself on a street corner and declare it my new home.

The Wharf aka Where I Met and Promptly Devoured My First Po' Boy

Stan and I in the typical posed photo. My dad took about eighteen of these. I am sparing you by only showing one. You're welcome.

The beautiful Alexandria boardwalk. By this point in the day I was so hungry that I wanted to eat the railing. A few minutes after this picture I was spared lead poisoning by an ice cream cone.

Next stop was Washington DC. We went last year and had seen most of the Smithsonian in a marathon eight hour day. The only part that we missed was the Air and Space Museum. Well, friends, we definitely made up for it.

Nearly four glorious hours in there. My father thought he was in heaven. I thought I was somewhere else. Still, it was fascinating to see the exhibits. And I suppose my dad deserved to see something he actually liked. He was paying, after all. Enjoy these photos sans descriptions. This tour guide neglected to read the nifty little placards.

Over the next few days we saw Merchant of Venice (where an actor actually scolded a woman for her un-silenced cell phone DURING the performance), Civil War battle grounds, Arlington National Cemetery, and Mount Vernon. I also was supposedly nearly robbed on the Metro. The verdict is still out on that one.

Bull Run. There were reenactors. I giggled quite a lot. Whether that was due to the reenactors or my heat-induced state of delirium is unknown.

View of DC from Lee's home at Arlington Cemetery.

Voguing at Mt. Vernon

Goofing at Mr. Vernon

And that is the trip! It was absolutely wonderful to spend some time with my brother and I look forward to our next trip to visit him. Tip Top Shape will return with its regularly scheduled programming on Tuesday! I have a nice cookie recipe for you :)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Get Yo' Protein

If you all are anything like me when it comes to breakfast, I always, ALWAYS crave something sweet. I am never exactly the one to crave savory dishes for breakfast unless it is accompanied with something sweet to balance it out.

So clearly you can see where this is going.

As of late I have been loving breakfasts with a little kick of extra protein. In this case...protein waffles. Simple, delicious and the toppings and add-in options are endless!

Basic ingredients:
1 scoop protein powder
2 egg whites
Cinnamon to taste
Vanilla extract approx 1 tsp
Stevia if needed
2 tbs soy milk
1/2 mashed banana

My favorite add ins/toppings:
Blueberries or strawberries
Fruit preserves
Nut butters

Mix together the basics, add whatever you want and then pour into a waffle iron or make 'em into pancakes :) Top with whatever fits your fancy and enjoy!

Thursday, July 14, 2011


I have a very love/hate relationship with these cookies.

Obviously they're pretty. And the royal icing is the perfect sweetness when you bite into it, the sugar cookie beneath stunningly buttery with slight undertones of vanilla and almond.

They're good cookies. It's just that they take a bazillion hours to make. Okay, that might be a slightly hyperbolic statement. But, say, five hours is not. The dough has to chill and then you have to roll it out-and anyone who has seen me rolling dough can attest that it's not a pretty sight. It usually ends with dough bunched around the rolling pin and me throwing things.

Cookie cutters get some action. 8-10 minutes and cookies come out of the oven looking so darn cute that I almost look forward to icing them. And for a bit, I actually do. The creative part of my brain (left side?) gets all sorts of happy and I plan out color blocking and detailing. It's actually pretty fun until two hours have passed and I still have more stupid detailing to finish due to my stupid left side of my brain.

And I hate them. I hate the cookies; and the crick in my back; and the way that one line came out squiggly because I squeezed the piping bag too much. And then they are finished.

And I love them. I love them all the way until I stupidly decide to make them again.

Royal Icing Cookies: the ultimate love/hate relationship.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Strawberry Fluff Fruit Dip

Mother knows best. It's true for many things, but especially recipes. Growing up, we would have big parties for my brother and my birthdays and my mom would cook everything. Cracker crumb chicken. Double baked potato casserole. These are foods that I will forever associate with cold January nights, boisterous conversation (we are part Italian, after all) and the smell of my Uncle's cigars. They are nice memories, particularly when busy schedules cut into the family time we used to enjoy.

Along with the usual fare, my mom always made strawberry fluff fruit dip. It's a simple recipe. With only two ingredients it is a snap to prepare; which is a good thing, considering that I request that she makes it for me often. Yes, I could make this myself but it always seem better when she makes it. lol

It's best served with cantaloupe, but is delicious with watermelon and strawberries, as well. Try this out for your next barbecue of birthday party. You won't be disappointed!

Strawberry Fluff Fruit Dip alla Mama Tip Top Shape


Marshmallow Fluff
Strawberry Cream Cheese


Empty both containers into a mixing bowl.

With a mixer, combine the two on medium speed. Mix until completely incorporated.

Serve with assorted fruit.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Dream Bars

Hello friends!

I have a fantastic recipe for you today. Prepare yourself because this one is pretty exciting. And simple. And dreamy.

Being the baker of my friends, I was the one who brought dessert for our 4th of July barbecue. Being myself, I predictably waited until the last minute to bake. With only two hours before I had to leave (I really procrastinated this time) there was no way I could get ingredients for a recipe. Therefore, my pantry and I became best friends. The friendship bracelets are in the mail.

Luckily, I found some coconut and chocolate chips hiding behind my overstock of baking soda and brown sugar. Do you know what that means? If you were thinking, "Liz eats four handfuls of chocolate chips", then you are correct. However, it also means dream bars. Which translates into, "Liz eats four dream bars".

These come together in less than an hour and promote such gluttony that I'm surprised they aren't listed as one of the seven deadly sins. Regardless, make them!

Dream Bars


1/2 Butter
1 1/2 cups Brown Sugar
1 cup plus 2 tbsp Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 1/2 cups Sweetened Coconut Shreds
1/2-1 cup Chocolate Chips
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 eggs


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix 1/2 cup brown sugar, butter, and flour. Press into a 9x13 pan and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

While the crust bakes, mix the eggs, brown sugar, baking powder, flour, and vanilla extract until smooth. Fold in the coconut and chocolate chips.

Spread over the baked crust and smooth evenly.

Bake for 20 minutes, until the top is slightly browned. Let cool completely before cutting into squares. Or rush it like I did and get melted chocolate everywhere.

Adapted from: www.southerfood.about.com

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Ciao Bella

Ciao Bella sorbet was on sale at Dominicks.

Guess who bought the entire stock?