Mission Statement

Culinary Adventures in a College Kitchen

Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Years Resolution


How is it already New Years eve? Where on earth did the time go? Well, on that note, I probably should get to the point of this post, huh?

New Years resolutions. I love them and hate them. Mostly hate them because like giving up for something for Lent, I tend to forget or just give up. Terrible habit. But with all that failing I have realized that trying not to eat chocolate and drinking less coffee isn't realistic. Mostly because 1) I love chocolate and 2) It was dumb.


So this year, I'm trying something a bit new. The resolutions I am making will be far more flexible and attainable. I won't beat myself up if instead of 1 cup of coffee I have 2. (That isn't on my resolutions. I'm not repeating caffeine withdrawal. )

Currently, I have one resolution and that is to be healthy. Whether it be getting a quick workout in or eating more vegetables, I want that to be my focus. Meaning I can indulge in my sweets, drink my coffee and still keep with my resolution. Flexibility is key!


So to kick things off, starting Monday since I will be gone enjoying myself at a lake house for the weekend I am starting...Jamie Eason's 12 Week Trainer, Live Fit!


The program isn't about losing weight for me, it is about becoming strong. Jamie Eason doesn't stress on low-carb dieting or quick results and uses a program that is about investing the effort into getting a strong, lean , beautiful body with time. While this program has specific diets and workouts, I will do my best do follow it to continue my New Years resolution to be healthy.

I'll be sure to keep you all updated :) And Happy New Year!

Q: How will you be healthy in the new year?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies with Chocolate Candied Bacon

This week I was discussing what I was baking for the holidays with my brother and he jokingly suggested that I should put bacon into some of my cookies. While overtly I scoffed at the idea and said "That is just disgusting!" inwardly I was thinking:


Bacon was made to be paired with sweets. I mean--need I remind you all of the marvelous joys a breakfast of pancakes, bacon and cloyingly sweet maple syrup lends to an otherwise lacking morning?

I went straight to How Sweet Eats because when I think of bacon, I think of Jessica. She is the queen of all things bacon and delicious. Almost immediately I found the most delectable recipe for peanut butter cookies studded with candied bacon and chocolate.

Oh brother.

Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies with Chocolate Candied Bacon


1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
4 slices cinnamon-sugared candied bacon
1/2 cup chocolate

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Dip the bacon into the melted chocolate and set aside to come to room temperature while you make the dough.

In a bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together the sugars, peanut butter, and butter until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add the flour mixture in two batches, mixing until incorporated. Crumble the bacon and fold into the batter.

Place tablespoon scoops on a prepared baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes and fool all of your family members into eating bacon-cookies.

Source: How Sweet Eats (original recipe here)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bulgar Wheat Tofu with Lime Tahini Sauce

After three finals, four presentations, two papers, and a potentially dangerous amount of coffee...

I AM DONE WITH FINALS!

And I couldn't be happier.


There are many things that I love about winter break. Sleeping in. My family. The DVR loaded with all of my favorite shows. My parents joke that I take over the TV when I come home. I can't really refute that.

All joking aside though, there is something nice about being home. I love living in the city and there are perks of living on your own. I don't have to suffer through stilted morning conversation. I am 100% not a morning person and holding any sort of conversation before 10 AM is like pulling teeth. I don't have to share the remote. A carton of milk lasts all the way to the expiration date. Sometimes it's nice to share the remote, though. It's nice to have someone there to hear the random stories that just aren't the same when told hours later.

I still don't like the morning talking thing, though.

On an unrelated note, I have a little recipe here for you that is both delicious and nutritious. Unfortunately, it does not rhyme like the end of that sentence. I'll try harder next time.

Bulgar Wheat Tofu with Lime Tahini Sauce


Ingredients:

1 cup bulgar wheat
1 package tofu, chopped
1/4 cup tahini
2-3 tbsp lime juice

Directions:

Cook the bulgar wheat according to the package's instructions and set aside. Preheat the oven's broiler while you press the tofu. Slice the tofu into bite size pieces and spread out onto a prepared baking sheet. Broil 5-6 minutes per side.

Using a food processor (or a whisk/fork) combine the tahini and lime juice. Add more or less lime juice depending on how thick you want the sauce. Pour over the bulgar wheat and tofu. Serves four.


Lots and lots of cookie recipes will be on their way! Get excited!! What are you all baking for the holidays?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

This Is Sort Of Embarrassing...

But I love Leslie Sansone's walking workouts.

I feel like these workouts are the equivalent of rocking out to Richard Simmons, but I honest-to-God love them. Leslie Sansone is really motivating and the workouts actually make you
sweat. Plus, there is something just so nice about being able to do a 3-4 mile cardio workout in the comfort of your living room. For people who find schlepping three floors down to the gym too much effort (yep, that is me) these workouts are fantastic.

So, I am admitting here that I walk away the pounds with Leslie Sansone. And I've got some recommendations if you want to, as well :)


1) 5 Day Slim Down: This is my absolute favorite. 5 one mile workouts that each target a different body part (think legs, arms, abs). Fantastic workouts.


2) 1 and 2 Miler: This one is a classic. It's the first one I bought (probably from the fitness DVD section at ULTA--used to love that!) so it has a special place in my heart. Decent workout, but not as good as the 5 one milers above.


3) Walk Your Belly Fat 3 Mile Walk: Okay, I've never actually done this one but it looks fun. Plus Leslie Sansone has her trademark crazy-walking-woman face on. Which, let's face it, is half the reason to do these workouts.


What are your embarrassing-workout-confessions?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Surveying the Holiday

I'm officially done with finals and also on the countdown for my 22nd birthday which is the 20th this month! And despite all the testing, I really wanted to do this survey that I saw Julie post on her blog. So here we go!

25 Questions: Holiday Style

  • Eggnog or hot chocolate?

Hot chocolate. What girls doesn't love chocolate?

  • Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?

Definitely wraps them with coordinating wrapping paper to represent whose gift is whose.

  • Colored lights on tree/house or white?

Always white. It's always been a tradition in my family to put both white lights on my house and on the tree. I think it makes everything look so elegant.

  • Do you hang mistletoe?

Nope but that won't stop me ;)

  • When do you hang your decorations up?

Always the week after Thanksgiving.

  • What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?

My grandmother's shrimp cocktail.

  • Favorite holiday memory as a child?
My family always took a trip to downtown Chicago to look at the Christmas tree and walk the sidewalks looking at the window displays.

  • What is on your Christmas wish list?
I'd really like a Vera Bradley travel bag. It can also double as a gym bag which is perfect.


      • Do you open a gifts on Christmas Eve?

      Yes, we always open a few which are usually from my grandparents who come over for Christmas dinner.

      • How do you decorate your Christmas tree?

      Ornaments (fun and traditional) , garland, lights :)

      • Snow? Love it or dread it?

      I like it up to the point when it turns into a blizzard then it is a little much for me.

      • Real tree or fake tree?

      I really like the look and smell of real trees but my family personally uses a fake because when we had a real tree it fell and broke a bunch of my mom's ornaments from Germany.

      • Do you remember your favorite gift?

      I think one of my favorite gifts was my diamond earrings I got from my mom.

      • What’s the most important thing about Christmas for you?

      Spending time with my family.

      • What is your favorite holiday dessert?

      I love my mom's cookies, I think my favorite would be the almond crescent cookies! SO good!

      • What is your favorite tradition?

      Christmas music while hanging the ornaments on the tree,

      What tops your tree?

      An angel.

      • Do you prefer giving or receiving?

      I love giving them, especially when they are exactly what they've been wanting.

      • What is your favorite Christmas song?

      The First Noel, I'm biased though because Noel is also my middle name. I'm a Christmas baby :)

      • Candy canes, yuck or yum?

      I don't like them on their own but they taste delicious when you you them to mix your hot chocolate.

      • Favorite Christmas movie?

      I am a huge fan of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

      • What do you leave for Santa?

      We used to leave cookies and milk but we've stopped doing that for a while.

      • Do you have a Christmas morning tradition?

      We would always rush downstairs, put on the Christmas music and start opening presents.

      • Do you prefer to shop on-line or at the mall?

      I like shopping online because retail stores are insane around the holiday season!

      • Christmas letter or Christmas card?

      Cards!! I love getting cards from everyone.

      Wednesday, December 14, 2011

      Pesto Palmiers

      While making this recipe I realized two valuable things:

      1) My life needs more pesto.

      2) My life needs more puff pastry dough.

      My thighs told me that I was full of poppycock and after a moment of brief resistance, I had to agree. My wallet voiced its agreement, as well.

      Puff pastry may not be ideal for daily use but it is pretty much perfect for quick appetizers. If the two met at a bar they would discover after two cranberry vodkas (because what else would puff pastry drink?) that they are totally made for each other.

      There is a lot you can do with puff pastry dough. Wrap it around cocktail dogs. Fold it up with some chocolate. You can even make knots out of strips and enjoy it as its saucy self.

      For my party I layered it with pesto and parmesan before rolling the ends into the center for some pretty palmiers. I have no idea what palmier means. Up until five minutes before the party, I didn't know how to pronounce it.

      French Lesson #1:
      palmier = palm-ee-ayy

      Is your mind blown like mine? Or are you all gourmands who already knew the pronunciation? Feel free to mock if you are the latter.

      Anyhoo, this is the perfect holiday appetizer. According to me.

      Pesto Palmiers


      Ingredients:

      Puff pastry dough, thawed (one sheet)
      1/2 cup pesto
      1/4 cup parmesan

      Directions:

      Thaw puff pastry dough either in the refrigerator over night or at room temperature for 2-3 hours.

      Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

      Roll out the puff pastry dough. Spread the pesto out using a spatula. Make sure to leave about an inch on all four sides of the dough. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese. Roll both sides into the center. Chill in the refrigerator for an hour.

      Slice vertically into 30 slices. Lay flat on the baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until browned.

      Source: Cooking Light

      Monday, December 12, 2011

      Holiday Soiree 2011

      I love cooking for people. To me, there is nothing better than watching people enjoy the food that I made for them. Yes, it is partially due to the hello-fuzzy-feeling it brings, but it's more than that. I have an honest, pure, cross your heart and hope to die love of food. I love every single step: the planning; the agonizing; the cooking. Sharing this love of food with others is like Christmas morning.

      This weekend especially.

      I had a few friends over for one of my typical parties where I obsess over the guest list, cook way too much food, and send everyone home with leftovers. My friends love me. And my leftovers.

      The menu for the party was:

      Stuffed Mushrooms
      Pesto Palmiers
      Sliders (4 types)
      • Fried bologna with mustard
      • Turkey with pesto
      • Salami
      • Ham with havarti and brown mustard
      Hummus with vegetables

      There was also wine because in my humble opinion, you can't have a true holiday party without a little vino.


      I ate about twenty of these. Yes, that is a hyperbole.


      I ate about twenty of these. No, that is not a hyperbole.

      All the recipes for these appetizers are super simple and absolutely delicious. If I could make them with only four hours of sleep (make of that what you will) then you know they're pretty fool proof. Recipes to come soon!

      Have you guys had any holiday parties? Link them up in your comments! I love reading about parties :D

      Tuesday, December 6, 2011

      Frittata with Sage and Manchego

      I bought sage last week for my pumpkin ravioli recipe and have been putting the extra in everything. I hate wasting herbs because they practically cost a kidney and I rather like my kidney so I've been doing my best to use it up. I put it in soup; in salads; on turkey sandwiches. The frittata was my last idea, prompted by a random block of manchego cheese I found in my refrigerator from when my family visited.

      Hey family!!

      I love frittatas in that you can really throw just about anything in it and it will taste good. It's like the garbage disposal of foods.

      I just finished this yesterday and I already wish I had more. Looks like the parental units need to come up for another visit. Who else is going to buy me that fancy schmancy cheese?

      Frittata with Sage and Manchego


      1/4 cup sage, chopped
      4 oz Manchego cheese, chopped
      6 eggs
      1 tbsp cream
      salt

      Directions:

      Chop the sage and manchego cheese, set aside. In a bowl, beat the eggs. Add the cream and salt. Pour in the sage and manchego, mix well. Pour into an oven-safe sautee pan coated with butter. Cook covered until the eggs are set but top still runny, about 5-6 minutes. Broil in oven for 2-3 minutes, until the top is browned.

      Looks pretty good, right?

      Right.

      Thursday, December 1, 2011

      Pumpkin Ravioli with Fried Sage and Almonds

      This week I nearly set off my fire alarm three times. I burned so many things Tuesday night that I actually barred myself from my kitchen. Browning butter was to blame for most of my frustration this week. For some reason, it burnt every single time I tried. They're not lying when you say you have to watch it the entire time. I stepped away for one second and it burnt to a black crisp, making me spastically wave a potholder under the fire alarm.

      Can you just imagine if my fire alarm went off and I had to be like: Sorry guys, my browning butter took a turn for the worse.

      Miraculously, I still have some fabulous recipes to come from this week's cooking. Tuesday night I made a ravioli dish that I could literally eat every night of the week. But then I wouldn't be able to fit through revolving doors. I bought pumpkin ravioli from a small Italian shoppe called L'Appetito back in October when I was hoarding all things orange and gourdy. I knew what I wanted to do with them but always settled on a different dish when it came time to actually cooking. When I was at Whole Foods this week, though, I found some fresh sage and decided that I would finally use my overpriced seasonal ravioli.

      Al dente ravioli filled with ricotta, pumpkin and parmesan is paired with crisp fried sage and pan-roasted almonds. It is finished off with a slurry of extra virgin olive oil. I want this served at my birthday, wedding, and funeral. I also would like an endless supply in the afterlife. Please and thank you.

      Pumpkin Ravioli with Fried Sage and Almonds


      Ingredients:

      1 lb store bought pumpkin ravioli
      1/4 cup slivered almonds
      1/8 cup olive oil, plus 1 tsp
      1/3 cup sage leaves, chopped

      Directions:

      Boil the ravioli according the package instruction, roughly 12-15 minutes. In a dry skillet, saute the almonds until fragrant, roughly 5 minutes. Heat 1/8 cup of olive oil in the skillet and add the chopped sage leaves. Fry until crisp and remove to a paper towel covered plate. When the ravioli is finished remove to a serving bowl and add the fried sage and almonds. Finish with the 1 tsp of olive oil.