Mission Statement

Culinary Adventures in a College Kitchen

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Radish To Remember

A funny thing happened this morning. I went to write up my usual Tuesday post and I had to log into Blogger. Usually it has my email already plugged in and I just use my catch-all-password. This morning, though, both were blank and I learned that even with two cups of coffee in my system I am incapable of remembering my email (I rarely use the blog one). So, after using just about every combination of tiptopshape in email-form that I could, I buckled and clicked the help button.

I hate having to use the help button because it always says that it will send me my information immediately and it never does. I end up checking my email obsessively for fifteen minutes until I give up and do some dishes. Blogger surprised me, though, by actually sending it immediately. Good job, Blogger. You are officially off my shit list.

I have a somewhat unexciting recipe for you all today. I know, it's probably a faux pas to start this off with something negative. What can I say? I keep it real.

It's a salad, featuring the rock star of produce formerly known as radishes. I discovered radishes about a month ago. One of my coworkers makes these amazing salads for the office (they are nothing short of miraculous, really) and he used radishes one day. Up until this salad, my only radish experience was from CCD when I was seven and we recreated the last supper, complete with stale bread and sparkling grape juice. I remembered radishes as being bitter and generally unpleasant to stomach. Never one to be rude, though, I daintily tried one as I drummed up ways to make the rest disappear.

Guess what?

I loved them. Apparently, your palate changes from seven to twenty one (who would have thunk?) and everything is coming up radishes. Lucky them.

I'm not going to even bother with an actual recipe. Just throw together some lettuce and whatever you can find in your refrigerator. Radishes, of course, because no salad is complete without my little friends. Throw on some dressing (Goddess if you're a cool kid) and you've got yourself a meal.

I eat this pretty much every other day. It's tasty, healthy, and allows me to shovel copious amounts of sweets into my mouth without guilt. Now, if that isn't an incentive to eat this salad I don't know what is.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

What I Am Thankful For

I am thankful for... an amazing family who love me no matter what

I am thankful for...an amazing support system of friends back home

I am thankful for...my wonderful and caring boyfriend who continues to make me a better person every single day I spend with him
I am thankful for...my wonderful sorority sisters who have inspired me to go for my dreams


Be Thankful

I am thankful.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Love, According to the Gilmores

I am of the belief that everything you need to know about life can be found in an episode of Gilmore Girls. Got a problem? The women of Stars Hollow have an answer. This is particularly true of dating. These girls know what they're talking about. I mean, look at who Rory alone snagged.

Need I say, anymore?

Enjoy these tidbits of Gilmore wisdom. Love it. Cherish it. Live it.

And then an important piece of advice from Emily Gilmore which I don't completely understand but feel obligated to post purely for the fact that it's Emily Gilmore.

Take from that what you will.

Any golden relationship advice out there? Leave it in your comment!

Thursday, November 17, 2011


In light of your positive feedback on my Xoco post, I have decided to go ahead and continue with my Chicago restaurant series! It is entitled Dine Out Chicago. Yes, it is a play on Time Out Chicago. Yes, I did think of that on my own. I know. I am astoundingly clever. Without further adieu, I give you my rambling and hopefully coherent thoughts on Chicago's very own Grahamwich.

Oh Grahamwich, I had such high expectations for you. Remember when we met a few months back and I had the most delicious sundae with nutella hot fudge? Remember how I ate myself silly and left with a dull ache in my stomach, due no less to leaving you than the eighty pounds of ice cream consumed?

I dreamt of our next meeting with nearly giddy anticipation.

Reunited and it feels so goooood.

But then you had to serve me salad in a plastic to-go container, while my friends were delivered sandwiches on the cutest trays. I am still smarting from that slight.

I went to Grahamwich with my friends last week and had a less than stellar experience. Before tackling that, though, I need to touch on the decor. If I were judging Grahamwich on styling alone it would win every award known to mankind. I am that in love with its styling.

The website describes how Grahamwich, the invention of super chef Graham Elliot, is an attempt to "redefine what a sandwich shop could and should be". And that is exactly what Grahamwich does. It's quirky and niche-y with its homemade soda pops and decadent snacks like popcorn smothered in truffle oil, parmesan, and chives. Yet, it still has your classic grilled cheese and roast beef sandwich.

And it's just darn cute inside.

I feel somewhat disingenuous moving on to the food portion of this post, because I don't think I chose something indicative of the general quality of Grahamwich's offering. Therefore, take what I am about to say with a hefty grain of salt.

I ordered the G'wich salad from the Snacks menu. The salad is described as:

mixed greens + shaved fennel + toasted almonds + pink grapefruit + white balsamic

Now, I thought this sounded pretty good. In retrospect it wasn't awful, but I was so turned off by the lack of actual dining ware that it ruined the salad for me.

This is possibly the worst picture I have ever taken. See, even my camera revolted at all that plastic.

Would it have been that difficult to give me a bowl? Or at least real cutlery?

In the interest of not completely slamming Grahamwich, both of my friends enjoyed their sandwiches immensely. I probably will go back sometime soon and try a sandwich. Or demand a bowl for my salad.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Jazzy Morning Waffles

I have watched 27 Dresses four times in the past week. I think I set a record for number of times someone can obsess over James Marsden and complain about how reality is unfair and she will never magically run into charming, albeit slightly cranky, journalists while taxi-hopping between weddings.
I also probably set the record for number of James Marsden pictures pinned on Pinterest in a ten minute period. I have mad pinning skills.

This past week has still been remarkably productive despite my 27 Dresses binge. I managed to cook; attend class; send out law applications. There even was a shower somewhere in there. I think the key to my productivity is a solid breakfast.

I really wish this could be one of those posts where I wax and wane about how I grew up shunning breakfast until I had a sudden moment of clarity and found that all of my troubles could be solved with a bowl of Wheaties. This isn't one of those posts. I've never eaten Wheaties in my life.

I've always been a breakfast eater; it's actually my favorite meal of the day. I can't work out in the morning, purely because I cannot imagine pushing breakfast back an hour. I'm dedicated like that. My go-to breakfast is overnight oats. I love that I can literally roll out of bed and have breakfast made. All I need to do is make coffee (non-negotiable) and I'm ready to go. Occasionally, though, I like to jazz things up. Give my toaster some action.

Please note the awesome pumpkin my Mom gave me. There was also a matching scarecrow. Be jealous.

I bought these waffles from Whole Foods and they have changed my life. Or just my mornings. I have come out of my oatmeal-haze and discovered all the delicious options to choose from. This one ranks pretty high, if I do say so myself!

Jazzy Morning Waffles

1 waffle
1 tbsp nut butter
1 banana, sliced
coconut flakes


Toast the waffle. Melt peanut butter in a small microwave bowl and then spread on toasted waffle. Layer half of the banana slices on the waffle, leaving the rest on the side. Sprinkle with coconut flakes.

I don't know about you, but these tend to make my mornings a little brighter. And if all else fails, there's always my James Marsden pinboard.

Social media spam! Tip Top Shape is all over the interwebs--and I'd love for you all to follow, like, and pin along with me!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ways To NOT Get The Girl

Sometimes male behavior baffles me. Football. Halo. Steady diets of Pepsi and frozen pizza. I just don't get it. The worst, though, are some of their pickup tactics.

Really? That's the best you've got?

Now, I don't mean to speak against all men. Some guys are capable of hitting on a girl without being creepy, inappropriate, or a blowhard. It happens. Other times, well...I will let them speak for themselves.

1) Randomly asking me on a street corner if I'd heard Steve Jobs died -- I don't live under a rock. And I still don't want to talk to you.

2) Nonchalantly telling me at a bar how you took the LSAT for fun and got a 165 --First off, you're not fooling anyone. Second, it's not impressive-it's pretty douchebaggy.

3) Complimenting me on my butt -- Back up partner--this isn't a rap video.

4) Leering at me from your car while you are physically moving -- You're officially a hazard to everyone's health and I am still not interested. Congratulations.

What are your bad pickups? I know you have some stories!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


This weekend my mom visited for a girl's weekend. I love when my mom comes to visit. We spend some quality time together; my laundry gets done; and I finally get to eat out at all the places I've dreamed of going to but was too cheap to actually frequent. Moms rock.

Xoco is one those places that I have stayed up late at night fantasizing about but had never actually pulled the trigger and visited. Well, it seemed like the perfect place to take Mom-sie on Saturday.

Xoco is an off-shoot of Rick Bayless' infamous Frontera Grill. It focuses on the different street foods from Mexico, served up hot and quickly in the homey dining area. All orders can be customized, keeping with the "rustic immediacy" of authentic Median street food, and are delivered to the table in record time.

We got there around 1:30 and there was still an hour wait for lunch. Both of us agreed that this appeared to be worth the wait and we took our place in line.

Surprisingly, the wait when by pretty quickly. There was so much going on inside the restaurant that I felt like I was constantly entertained. You could see pretty much the entirety of the kitchen from the line. There was a wood oven where the tortas were made. I could even see where the carnitas were being made!

Carnitas simmering away!

A chef working on the churros. Didn't get any but they looked amazing!

They also had Rick Bayless' cookbooks out for customers to peruse, as well as large chalkboards outlining the restaurant's sustainable practices.

Another thing I really liked about Xoco was the free flat and sparkling water offered for customers. An hour is a pretty long time to wait and I really appreciated the water. I think I had about four glasses while I was waiting. Dehydration is awesome.

I ended up ordering the Cubana sandwich which is described as:

Smoked Gunthorp pork loin and bacon, black beans, avocado, artisan Jack, and chipotle mustard.

My mom had the carnitas which I didn't snap a picture of but it looked good. It was like a hearty soup with lots of cilantro. My cilantro-hating-self was happy with my cilantro-less order.

We also shared chips and salsa which were pretty fantastic.

Xoco was absolutely fantastic. The food was good. The service was fast. If you are in Chicago, you have to try it! Just make sure to factor in the wait time.

I have a quick question for all of you--Saturday made me realize that I eat out at a lot of fun Chicago restaurants. Would you be interested in a Chicago restaurant series?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Things I'm Loving

I've seen these all over the blogosphere for a while. Finally doing one myself!

Things I'm Loving:

Christmas music

This played at work. I might have sung along at my desk...

Nights out with friends

I portray fun in pictures through judgmental looks. Don't ask.

Starbucks Holiday Cups

Had my first holiday drink yesterday. Yes, I went purely for the cup.

One Tree Hill

It's all available on Netflix. Now you have a very educated guess as to what my nights look like.

All things Zooey Deschanel

Adorable, adorable person.
Once Upon A Time

Looooove this show. Watch it. Now. Or Sunday, because that's when it airs.

What are you loving right now?


Btw, one of my recipes is featured on Alicia Silverstone's The Kind Life website! Head on over to see my recipe for a tasty soba noodle salad!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pasta with Squash and Honey Cinnamon Compote Butter

How was everyone's Halloween?!

Did you all dress up? I was planning on being a homicidal housewife but when I heard that the fake blood could stain my dress I very quickly dropped the homicidal and added a spoon to my apron pocket. Voila! 1950's housewife!

Friday night I went to an event on campus and then Saturday night was my very first bar crawl. That's going in the baby book. I learned a lot of things about bar crawls that night. First off, it is unbelievably crowded, which leads to a lot of unintentional touching. The food goes in about five minutes; which is unfortunate for those who get there after ten. And finally, if you have a wooden spoon in your pocket people will try to take it--especially people you don't know.

It was a really fun weekend, though, even with the crowds and spoon-snatchers. It was my first Halloween in the city and I'm looking forward to many more.

Unfortunately, I neglected to take any pictures and my one friend who did is hoarding them on her camera. You will see them eventually. At this rate, next Halloween.

Another thing that made this weekend (and Monday) wonderful was all the fantastic I'm-going-to-regret-this-in-the-morning food. There was the pumpkin cupcake on Friday. The cheeseburger and french fries at one in the morning Sunday. And then yesterday, all the fun size candy that I could shove in my mouth. I'm ready to get a little green in my diet that isn't a jello shot.

Save that for next weekend.

Pasta with Squash and Honey Cinnamon Compote Butter


1 lb pasta
1 butternut squash
1 cup broccoli
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp honey
1 tsp honey


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Peel and slice the squash into bite size pieces.

In a small ramekin, melt the butter and honey. Add the cinnamon and mix together. Pour evenly over the squash. Roast for 25-30 minutes, turning over halfway through.

On a separate baking sheet, pour broccoli and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle 1 tsp of sugar over broccoli. Roast for 15-20 minutes either with the squash or afterwards.

Boil pasta according to instructions. Add the squash and broccoli.