Mission Statement

Culinary Adventures in a College Kitchen

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Coffeemate: A love affair

Coffeemate, let's mate.

It's no secret that I love coffee. I'm a three-cups-in-the-morning sort of girl and there are usually a few extra after that. I'll take any type except decaf because, well, decaf is fake coffee. I usually roll with plain milk in my coffee but occasionally I am wooed by the colorful flavored creamers at the supermarket and just have to take one home with me. These are a few of my favorites.

1. Hazelnut
Hazelnut Liquid

This was my first coffeemate love and I never looked back. I don't know what it is about hazelnut that makes it so delicious (seriously, what is it?!) but it's the perfect mate to my coffee.

2. French Vanilla
French Vanilla Liquid
Super sweet. Super awesome. Probably even more classic than the hazelnut, but I'm biased.

3. Amaretto
Amaretto Liquid

The Italian in me approves.

4. Almond Joy

Okay, this is not coffeemate, per se, but it is way too amazing to not mention. I had this for the first time last week and tweeted that I wanted to bathe in it. That was not a hyperbole. Almonds. Chocolate. Coconut. Oh my!

Do you guys like flavored creamers? Any recommendations for new flavors to try??

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Quinoa with Eggplant and Peppers

Hello lovelies. I have a little story for you all this Thursday morning. And if you absolutely cannot stand to hear me ramble for a paragraph or two, you can jump down to the recipe at the end. I won't judge. Too much. Anyway, story time! I currently intern at the public relations agency that represents all of the Broadway In Chicago shows in the city. The work is mainly compiling media coverage and sending it off to the client. However, I also get to attend press night for all of the shows.

Let's have a moment of silence for how awesome that is.


Okay, back on track. Tuesday night I went to the Mamma Mia! press night. Interns are used as fillers for empty seats in the theater and we are usually given our tickets about two or three minutes before the show starts. This is always anxiety provoking for me (I hate rushing) but usually I handle it well. I was all business Tuesday night until the ushers sent me to the wrong aisle and I sort of went into a blind panic, not paying much attention to my surroundings as I whipped around to run to the next aisle. When I made that hello-whiplash-turn I collided with none other than Chicago's biggest theater critic.

Sputtered apologies and flushed cheeks followed.

I was mortified and still sort of am. Although, I do have to admit that it makes a pretty good story. And as an awkward magnet, that is something you really have to hold on to.

On a somewhat unrelated note, I have some food that I want to show you all. This is a food blog at the end of the day, after all. Like most recipes, this came from an oh s*** moment at the rapidly deteriorating produce in my refrigerator. Nothing like four dollar peppers bruising to get your chef cap on! I used quinoa as the base because no grain is a better canvas for rapidly-deteriorating-produce. This would be great with just about any roasted vegetable. Also, don't be afraid to add sauces. I used some tomato sauce on the leftovers and it was delicious.

Quinoa with Roasted Eggplant and Peppers


1 eggplant, cubed
2 peppers, chopped roughly
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried parsley
1 cup quinoa


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread the eggplant and pepper on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Add the herbs and then mix with your hands to coat the vegetables with oil and herbs. Bake for 10 minutes. Flip over the vegetables, bake for another 5-10 minutes until the eggplant is easily pierced with a knife.

Meanwhile, bring the quinoa and 2 cups of water to a boil. Reduce the heat and let the quinoa simmer covered for 15 minutes. Remove cover and fluff with a fork.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Turkey Chili

There is this little Italian deli down the street from my office and they have the most delicious paninis known to mankind. My favorite is a pancetta and fontina panini with pesto pressed between ciabatta. I could probably eat this sandwich every day for every. single. meal. It's that tasty. But...it also is about seven dollars and a bagillion (yes that is a scientific measurement) calories.

In an effort not to empty my wallet or cancel out all the lovely workouts I've been doing, I have been making full use of my kitchen. No simple ham and cheese sandwiches for this workin' girl! I know I'll be tempted to go across the street if I don't bring lunches that I genuinely look forward to eating so I make sure that I bring nothing short of delicious!

This chili is adapted from Jenna's recipe. It takes a bit of time to make but most of it is hands off which makes multitasking an attainable dream. The recipe is rather large so get those plastic containers ready--lots of frozen leftovers are an equally attainable dream!

Turkey Chili


1 1b ground turkey
1 red pepper, diced
1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp garlic
1 can diced tomatoes
1 cup red wine
1 tbsp cumin
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp oregano


Heat olive oil in a large soup pot. Add the onion and pepper, saute until softened. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.

Next, add the ground turkey and cook until the meat is browned. Add in all of the spices, stirring to coat the meat.

Pour in the diced tomatoes and red wine and simmer covered for an hour, stirring occasionally. Uncover and simmer for an additional 30 minutes.

Serve over brown rice or noodles with lots of cheddar cheese!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

An Ode to Cardigans

Cardigans, how I love thee. Ever since we first met in the JCrew discount section, while I was still a blossoming young teen wearing pajama pants to class, it has been a whirlwind romance. Cardigan are just so fun and versatile. They're like the friend who is up for absolutely anything.

With endless variety in terms of cut, length and color it really isn't an overstatement to say that there is a cardigan for every occasion. I know I make mine work overtime. Whether I'm going out, heading to class, or attempting to save money by not running my heat--cardigans have me covered (literally!). I'm going to share with you a few of my favorite cardi's from the interwebs :D

1. The Jackie

Jackie cardigan

I have my fair share of Jackie cardigans. They're a classic for a reason and look adorable over dresses!
2. Drapey
The perfect cardigan for when you really wish you had skipped the bar last night. Loose fitting and universally flattering--it hides a multitude of sins.

3. Grandpa Cardigan

Don't let the name fool you. While they dress down easily, they can dress up too.

4. Embellished
Zooey Deschanel: Queen of Cardigans

Do you guys rock cardigans?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Beginning of the End

Yesterday I started my very last day of college. It's so strange, I remember when I was a freshman and absolutely terrified of the city. I would practically break into hives walking two blocks from my dorm. I was convinced I would get mugged every time I took the El (which was of course never on my own). Now I live in the city and can successfully walk two blocks without wanting to dry heave. Even take the El by myself!

People always told me how college goes by fast but I never thought it would slip away this quickly. Each year felt like it would never end. Freshman year I was acclimating. Sophomore year discovering the city. Junior year drowning in LSAT books and law school applications. Suddenly it's senior year and I wonder where all those endless times went.

Heading into my last semester at Loyola, I want to make these final moments count. I want to appreciate my friends more. Take advantage of the city. Savor the skyline. Snap more pictures. I want these last few months to creep by, because if I'm being completely honest, I'm not ready for them to end.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Pecan Bars

The past few days I have rediscovered my exercise mojo. Unlike my blog-partner Jen, working out hasn't been a consistent part of my daily routine. You are more likely to find me in the kitchen wielding a spatula than handbells. I recently found the fitness videos on Hulu, though, and am really enjoying my daily sweat session. What have I been loving lately?

Kick boxing. Oh yeah.

This may have something to do with my binge-watching of Buffy The Vampire Slayer on Netflix. What can I say? Watching Buffy kick some demon butt has made me want to discover my own inner slayer. Except I'm not slaying vampires. Or demons. Or anything that hits back. However, I do get to pretend that I am punching and kicking people that I don't like. I have a rotation of about three or four people who have made it onto that list.

Somewhere, a therapist has a lot to say about this.

When I'm not kicking invisible-butt you can still find me in the kitchen with my spatula. A few weeks back I made these pecan bars for my dad's birthday. The process of making the bars was truly a comedy of errors. I spent ten dollars on pecans. Accidentally put them on a hot burner to cool. And spent about twenty minutes chiseling burnt pieces off the shortbread crust. Miraculously, they still turned out edible.

Pecan Bars


For the crust:
18 tbsp. butter
6 tbsp sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt

For the topping:
16 tbsp. butter
1/2 cup honey
1 1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tso. grated lemon zest
2 tbsp. heavy cream
1 1b pecans, chopped


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

For the crust, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Next, beat in the egg and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Press the batter into a prepared baking dish. For smoothing the batter, wrap your hand in saran wrap. This will keep it from sticking. Bake for 15 minutes until it is set. Let cool.

For the topping, combine the honey, sugar, and butter in a sauce pan. Cook on low heat. Once the butter has melted, boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the pecans and heavy cream.

Pour evenly over the crust. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the filling is set. Let cool and then move to the refrigerator. Cut into bars and serve.

Source: Annie's Eats