Mission Statement

Culinary Adventures in a College Kitchen

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Pet Peeve Wednesday

1.  I have a sinus infection or something else that makes me want to put my head in the freezer. Why do sinus infections exist?  Seriously.  I want answers.

2.  Last night I left out half a package of provolone cheese on my counter.  I don't know why I'm incapable of putting something back in the refrigerator and now I have NO cheese in the house.  This is a problem.  Homegirl wants some cheese.

3.  After finishing Buffy the Vampire Slayer about a month ago, no show can live up to it.  This means instead of joining everyone else in 2012, I binge watch BtVS on Netflix Instant and dream about overalls and fringe.

4.  This morning it took me ten minutes to realize that I was using the wrong burner to heat my tea.  After that, it took me another ten minutes to realize that I turned off the burner before I moved the kettle onto it.  Sometimes I wonder if my brain functions.

5.  I'm getting sick of hearing about all of this National Pancake Day stuff.  People--every day is National Pancake Day in the blogosphere.  Duh.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Chickpea Poppers

Hiya friends.  This is going to be a quick post because I'm a bit under the weather.  Just last week I was happily remarking to my parents that I hadn't gotten sick all school year.  Karma's a you-know-what.

This week I found myself in a food rut and wanted to make something different for dinner.  Earlier in the week I had cooked up some chickpeas (I used dried) and I started thinking up different ways I could use them.  These chickpea poppers are like healthier chicken nuggets.  They're fun to eat and nutritious to boot.  These were my dinner along with some curried cauliflower.  They'd be great as a party appetizer, too, though!

Chickpea Poppers


1 cup chickpeas
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup breadcrumbs


Preheat oven to 375

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor.  Process until all of the ingredients are mixed together. Make sure to not completely macerate the chickpeas--you want some texture.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, flipping halfway through.  Serve with your choice of dipping sauce.

Before I sign off, I want to do a quick little shout-out for my Aunt's blog.  She's doing a 40-day fast for Lent and is blogging about it over at Writing on Faith.  The posts are really interesting and she, of course, is awesome.  Make sure to stop by!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Oscars: Best Dressed

Did you all watch the Oscars last night?  I did!  The Oscars are one of my favorite times of the year.  It's seriously up there with national holidays for me.  I love the pomp and circumstance and how excited all of the actors are to be there.  It's like celebrity prom that we get to be all awesome and voyeuristic about.  What is there not to love?

One of my favorite parts of the show are all of the dresses.  I even love the ugly ones, if only for the mocking.  I want to share with you some of my favorite dresses from the night.  I thought over all the dresses were pretty fantastic, but I picked my top five to share!

Michelle Williams

Natalie Portman
Jessica Chastain

Emma Stone

Penelope Cruz (My Favorite of the Night!)

Did you guys watch the Oscars?  Who are your picks for best dressed??

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Top 5 Fictional Boyfriends

Anyone who reads this blog regularly (or even stops by occasionally) knows that I watch a lot of television.  I once had a running total of eight shows that I was religiously watching.  It's a wonder I managed any actual social interaction.

Growing up, I used to always dream of dating the guys from my favorite shows.  I pretended I was going on badass missions with Vaughn from Alias or roughing it on a stranded island with Jack from Lost.  As I've gotten older, I haven't stopped falling for my fictional men.

Without further adieu, I bring you my top five fictional boyfriends.

Logan Huntzberger from Gilmore Girls

Oh, Logan Huntzberger.  He is he perfect combination of charm and wit with just a smidge of douchebag thrown in for good measure.  Pretty much the perfect man. 

The Doctor from Doctor Who

First off, check out that hair -- it is tousled perfection.  I absolutely love the Doctor in all of his regenerations, but Ten will always have a special place in my heart.  He wears snazzy pinstripe suits with Chucks, and it just WORKS.  Plus he has that nifty blue box that can travel anywhere in time and space.  

Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Before I started this show, I was a complete Angel girl.  I mean, David Boreanz is sexy (hello, Seeley Booth!) and this guy has peroxide hair.  What even?!  But then I actually watched the show and quickly switched to team Spike.  I mean, look at that face.  And those cheekbones.  Seriously.  What even?!

Fitzwilliam Darcy from BBC's Pride & Prejudice 

Yes, that is a wet Colin Firth.  You're welcome.  I firmly believe that no fictional boyfriend list is complete without Mr. Darcy.  So, here you go.

Seth Cohen from The O.C.

The male equivalent of adorkable, Seth Cohen is everything I would realistically want in a man.  He may not have a traveling telephone box like the Doctor or Logan Huntzberger's trust fund, but I bet you anything he could hold his own in a geek-off.  Plus, he has a sexy jew fro.

Who are your top fictional boyfriends?  

Friday, February 24, 2012

Chocolate Mug Cake

Yesterday, I did a bad thing.

I was sitting on my couch watching Ellen when I found myself really wanting something sweet.  Usually I ignore such cravings or shut them up with some frozen grapes.  This was different, though.  Ladies, it was one of those cravings and one of those times, and all I wanted was something warm and comforting.  Maybe some chocolate in there somewhere, too.

I remembered seeing a single serving mug cake on Pinterest.  Not five minutes later, I was standing in front of my microwave, unknowingly embarking on what I can only call a very dangerous journey.

Because, in less than two minutes I had a perfectly moist chocolate cake.

The opportunities for this are seemingly endless.  Cake studded with chocolate or butterscotch chips.  Red velvet.  Funfetti.  Carrot.  See what I did?  I've created a cake monster.

Chocolate Mug Cake


4 tbsp flour
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 egg
3 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
3 1/2 tbsp milk
splash vanilla extract
3 1/2 tbsp oil


Combine all ingredients in a large coffee mug.  Pour half into a container for later use.  Microwave for 1-1 1/2 minutes.  Add sprinkles, if desired.

And that's it, folks!  That easy!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Healthy Banana Oatmeal Bars

I often wonder how some people got into college.  I'll be sitting in class and someone will say something that makes me stare at them and think, "Were the admissions people high or did you just have a really good letter of recommendation?"

In my fiction writing class, I think this a lot.  My befuddlement is pushed even further as I begin to peer edit my classmate's pieces.  I realize that not everyone is eloquent; refined speech does not necessarily mean intelligence.  Nor does intelligence necessarily mean refined speech.  You'd think, though, that the people taking a fiction writing class would at least be fairly proficient in writing.


I thought this would be the case, until I spent thirty minutes yesterday trying to sort through a piece with so many grammatical and structural errors that I felt like I was reading something by a grade schooler.  The formatting was all wrong.  Misspellings were rampant.  And he practically threw Webster's dictionary to the wind by using words in any way he pleased--even if they made absolutely zero sense in context.

His poor piece looked like a Jackson Pollock when I was finished with it.

I'm not looking forward to when we discuss his piece, purely for the fact that I think we will be hard-pressed to find anything positive to discuss.  And we already had to deal with the creepy character sketch guy last week who proclaimed after our discussion, "I can write conflict.  I just wanted to do something different."

This, after our professor went on for no less than four weeks about how the root of all fiction is conflict.  Once again, how do some of these people get into college?!  Luckily, I have some delicious granola-bar-cookies to get me through awkward peer editing discussions.

(Like that transition there? It's clunky and effective!)

These can be made in either bar or cookie form.  I chose cookie because I am driven purely by laziness and didn't want to wash a baking dish.  Yes, I realize I am ridiculous.  The ingredients list is short and wholesome.  They're vegan.  They're tasty.  They're simple.  Need I give you any more reason to make them?

Banana Oatmeal Bars

Sorry for the awful photo -- but these are too delicious not to share!


2 very ripe bananas
1/4 cup appleasauce
2 cups oats
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup coconut
dash of cinnamon
chocolate chips (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, mash the bananas.  Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until combined.  Scoop generous portions onto a prepared cookie sheet, pressing the dough into a flat disk.  Bake for 25 minutes, until the edged are slightly browned.

Serve with a smear of peanut butter for an added protein boost!

Source: A Modern Gal

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pet Peeve Wednesday

1.  People who wear sandals with socks --  If your feet are cold, just wear regular shoes.  There, problem solved and my eyes no longer have to be assaulted by the monstrosity on your feet.

2.  Creepy El guys -- Your leering at me from across the train car is really not working for you.  Neither is your trucker hat and molester moustache.  

3.  Showering -- Maybe this is just me, but does anyone else wish there was just some button you could press and you'd be all fresh and clean for the day?  You know, a magical button that washed and dried your hair, brushed your teeth and did everything else?  Yes?  No?  Do you think I'm insane yet?  Okay...moving on then.

4.  Judgmental Classmates -- You're probably reading this with an "Aren't you calling the kettle black?" expression.  Truth is, though, that I'm actually not this judgmental in real life.  I lack the cajones.  This one kid in my fiction writing class, though, does not.  He has a permanent pass to judgmental central; and let me tell you, sometimes I really want to kick him.  And by sometimes, I mean always.

5.  Non-Dessert People -- You don't like dessert?  I'm sorry.  I can't understand you.

What are some of your random pet peeves?  Let 'em loose in the comment section! 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pumpkin Pie Bars

This weekend a friend and I visited University of Illinois' College of Law.  I'm trying to decide between them and another school for where I'll end up next year, and in classic Rory Gilmore fashion, I have started a pro-con list.  I am not even a little ashamed to admit that about 70% of the pro-side for U of I includes food.  

Gotta keep the important things in mind, right?

My friend and I stayed with a couple that she had gone to law school with, and she asked me to bake something for a little thank-you-gift.  Well, you don't have to tell me twice; Im always looking for ways to pawn my baked goods off on people.  I was originally going to make brownies, but when I found this recipe for pumpkin pie bars (and remembered the pumpkin-buying-binge that left me with about six cans in my pantry) there was really no other choice.

I know we're a bit past the pumpkin season, but if you also have some pumpkin wedged in the back of your pantry between the overbought marinara and bbq sauce, then you need to make these.

Their texture is almost identical to pumpkin pie (without the crust, of course) and the flavors are warm and spicy.  They're the perfect afternoon pick-me-up.

Pumpkin Pie Bars

2 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter, melted
2 cups light brown sugar (can sub dark if that's all you have)
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the flour, nutmeg, ginger, salt and cinnamon in a bowl.  Set aside.

Melt butter and then add the brown sugar, mixing until combined.  Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk together until incorporated.  Add the flour mixture in two batches, using a spatula to combine.  Pour into a prepared 9x13 baking dish.  

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Let cool completely before cutting into squares.

Source:  Steph's Bite by Bite

Monday, February 20, 2012

Alias: Five Reasons You Should Watch

Here is another post where I wax and wane about one of my favorite television shows in an attempt to convince you to watch them.  Last time, it was Downton Abbey.  I promise not to misspell the name of the show this time.  Luckily, it's only five letters.


I had an impromptu trip home this weekend and returned with all five seasons of Alias.  That show was my absolute jam when I was growing up.  I started during Season 2 and stuck with it through the inane plot twists, actress pregnancies, and Jennifer Garner's awful bangs.  I loved it, though.  Even as half of the show went over my fifteen year old head, I couldn't wait for the next episode.

I started my epic re-watch with a bit of trepidation.  Would this show, that could be characterized as my first big TV obsession, live up to my rose-tinted-memories?  Would Michael Vartan still be as attractive?  Would Jennifer Garner's bangs still be as awful?  Why yes, both would.  And everything else would be just as wonderful as I remembered.

So, why should you watch?

Michael Vartan

I'll start with the obvious.  Look at that face.  Look at that suit.  Seriously guys, this should be a no-brainer.  This man probably singlehandedly created my obsession with men in suits.

All The Disguises


Jennifer Garner changes her hair color more often than Katy Perry.  And she looks amazing with every disguise.  How can one person look so amazing with eighteen different hair colors?  I have trouble enough looking halfway decent with my own hair color.

The Quentin Tarantino Episodes


Quentin Tarantino, genius creator of the Kill Bill franchise, guest stars (and wrote) two episodes in Season 2.  The show is literally worth watching for these episodes alone.  They are amazing and feature cray-cray Tarantino.  What's not to love?

The Gadgets

This show nearly made me a tech nerd.  Their tech-ey guy Marshall just makes so many cool gadgets and gizmos.  And while I'm pretty sure I didn't understand half of them, they just sounded impressive.  There's a coin that shatters glass.  A lipstick that scrambles security codes.  A ring that has a sedative built into the stone.  AND THAT'S JUST ONE EPISODE.

Victor Garber


Okay, this might just be a Liz thing, but I freaking adore Victor Garber.  He plays Jennifer Garner's badass dad and he has some of the best lines in the series.

Have I convinced you to give Alias a try?  If not, I will judge you quietly over here while you leave me your favorite TV shows in the comment section!  Any recommendations for my next big show?  I love discovering hidden gems!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Soba Noodles with Tofu and Kale

I hope you all enjoyed the bar edition of Pet Peeve Wednesday, yesterday.  I had a little too much fun writing that, but people just get themselves into some major shenanigans when they go out.  And if I can't make fun of them, then what is life really for?

Anyway, moving on.  About five minutes after I posted yesterday, I found the most delightful photo gallery at HelloGiggles that featured various celebrities partaking in some pretty sweet photo bombs.  Just to give you a little taste of what's beyond that link, behold Tina Fey: Photo Bombing Boss.

Seriously funny stuff, guys.  Check it out.

Now, moving on to the real point of this post, I feel sort of weird following up cakes and truffles with such a healthy recipe.  I mean, this has kale in it.  I love kale, but I always feel like some virtuous bunny when I eat it.  

Healthy specs be damned, though, because this recipe is freaking awesome.  It is so good that I ate the entire thing for dinner.  Then made it again an hour later to bring to work the next day.

And we all know how much I hate washing more dishes.

Make this now.  Not tomorrow.  Not next week.  Now.

Err..you could probably wait until lunch.

Soba Noodles with Tofu and Kale


Soba Noodles
Tofu, bite sized pieces
Ginger-Sesame Dressing


Start off by preparing your tofu.  Broil it in the oven for 10 minutes, flip the tofu.  Broil for an additional five minutes and then remove from the oven.

For the kale, heat one tbsp of oil in a saute pan.  Add the kale and cook until it turns bright green, one minute.  Add 1/2 cup of water and let the kale simmer.  Cook until the water has been absorbed, roughly 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the soba noodles.  Bring water to a boil and add the soba noodles.  Cook for 5 minutes, then remove.  

Combine all ingredients and add the sauce.  Give everything a little stir, and prepare for your tastebuds to sing.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Pet Peeve Wednesday: Bar Edition

Hello all!

It's that time of the week again where I deign you all with my weekly dose of complaining. Last week I touched on my dislike of slow walkers. This week, I bring you the bar edition of Pet-Peeve-Wednesday.

Now, I'm not what anyone would call a bar-fly. Most weekends, I am perfectly content to stay in with my Netflix account and go to bed before eleven. There's something to be said for waking up without a hangover and squirrel mouth. My wallet also enjoys not shelling out seven or eight dollars for a beer that I don't even really like, but order regardless because my knowledge of drinks doesn't stretch farther than Smirnoff and Bud Light. Sometimes, though, this newly minted legal drinker likes to hit the town.

And when I do, there is a whole host of new irritating stimuli. For example:

The Swarm of Stilettos

First off, it's the middle of winter. That skin-tight bandeau skirt you've paired your stilettos with sans tights is TOTALLY not weather appropriate. Second, you clearly do not know how to walk in them, making yourself a hazard to anyone within grabbing distance from you when you invariably trip and fall.

Men Who Can't Take A Hint

You ladies all know who I'm talking about. It's that guy who drunkenly wanders over to your table and becomes convinced that you are MFEO (made for each other, duh)-or at the very least, he is convinced he can take you home. You start off polite. Small talk. Nod and smile at the appropriate times. But then he overstays his welcome and you are left wondering how the hell you can get this guy to go away without being rude.

Overpriced Drinks

This one is sort of a no-brainer. You pay six dollars for a vodka cranberry when a handle only costs about four dollars more. Do the math. I have now made it a rule of thumb that I only buy myself one drink. Let the men who can't take a hint pick up the rest.

And last but not least...

Drunk People on Public Transportation

Okay, even I have to admit that this can sometimes be awesome. Some kid belting out Whitney Houston (RIP) in the middle of the El? Complete with rousing choreography that undoubtedly makes sense in his brain but realistically comes off as really-excited-swaying? Yeah, that happened. And it was awesome. But that person who starts ranting? Or talking REALLY LOUD for no reason. Not so awesome.

What are your bar pet peeves?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Dark Chocolate Truffles

I realized many things this weekend. First off, for weeks now I have been talking about this fantastic show on PBS Masterpiece Theater called Downton Abbey.

Only I was calling it DownTOWN Abbey. I even wrote an entire post about it, where I misspelled the name between proclamations of my undying love and why everyone should watch the show. I sort of want to go back and change it, but it's such a prime example of my occasional stupidity that I feel bad fixing it. Plus, I like evidence for my anecdotes.

I also made these fantastic truffles, and subsequently realized that if you have a dozen or so truffles chilling in your freezer, you will eat them. Most likely while huddled on your couch on a Sunday night watching Downton Abbey and realizing that you are incapable of spelling. The truffles help with that.

Dark Chocolate Truffles

1/4 cup whipping cream
5 oz semi sweet chocolate
1 tbsp butter, room temperature
1/2 cup chocolate chips


Bring the whipping cream to a boil. Stir in the chocolate and mix until incorporated. Stir in
the pad of butter and then pour into a small bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, making sure it comes into contact with ALL of the ganache. Put in the freezer for at least an hour.

Melt the chocolate chips in a bowl. Using a melon baller, scoop out small rounds of the thoroughly chilled ganache. Place the ganache ball on the tines of a fork and dip into the chocolate. Let harden on a cookie sheet covered with either parchment paper or tin foil. Keep refrigerated or frozen until serving.

Yes, I am willingly showing you all how messy my freezer is. Think of it as retribution for me annoying you to watch a show without knowing its proper spelling.

And hey--isn't today that day where people exchange cards and candy? I think they call it Valentines Day? Or Singles Awareness Day? Anyhoo, I'm spending mine by being in class all day and then watching TV with my leftover chili. Sexy.

You guys have any hot dates? Feel free to gush in the comments section and make me jealous.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Let Them Eat Cake

I don't make cakes very often. Living alone is part of the problem. You don't want to make a cake and then end up with half of it in your refrigerator. I've done this, and let me tell you, a big fat slice sounds pretty good when you're watching Netflix at eleven o'clock at night. And if you're rolling in around two in the morning? Yeah, that half of a cake will be gone before you even realize sugar and the aftertaste of stale beer don't mix.

So, Liz does not make cakes very often.

I had some friends over this weekend, though, which gave me the perfect excuse to break out my cake pans and get baking. The gathering was Valentines Day themed (complete with unapologetic viewings of schmoopy romantic comedies) so I made a love-filled-red velvet cake!

My attempt to be artsy in picture composition. Feel free to mock.

I was a little worried about this one because my oven decided to be a bit wonky, but it turned out really well. Also, apparently I have a signature when it comes to frosting cakes. My friend-who I've made a cake for before-walked into my apartment and went, "Liz, I can tell you frosted this cake. It looks just like the other one."

I don't completely know what this means, but I'm going to take it as a compliment.

Speaking of frosting, it is to die for. The frosting-a brown sugar cream cheese buttercream-was pretty fan-freaking-tastic. I almost ate it straight from the bowl. Actually, since we're all friends here, I did eat it straight from the bowl.

And the subsequent stomach ache was just lovely.

I also made some dark chocolate truffles to serve alongside the cake. Recipe to come!

The recipe for the cake is already posted HERE. It was my birthday cake over the summer :D

What did you guys do this weekend?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Winter Minestrone

Happy Thursday, everyone!

Let's get straight to the recipe today, folks. You may, or may not, know this but I am a big soup eater. It's the perfect compliment to just about any meal. It's usually low in calories. And in the case of this soup, I can mindlessly make it while the Superbowl is on.

This minestrone is pretty adaptable, so feel free to throw in any other add-ins that you see fit. Beans would be a great addition. I would have put some in, but I was completely out! The horror!

It's very likely that I posted something like this before, but every separate winter needs its own separate minestrone. Amen to that!

This makes roughly four servings and freezes like a dream. Try this out; you'll never regret a good soup!

Winter Minestrone

2 cups veggie stock
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 cup carrots, roughly chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 cup frozen corn
1 cup frozen green beans
2 tsp garlic
dried basil
dried parsley
1/2 cup dried pasta


Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a dutch oven. Saute the onion and garlic until the onion becomes translucent, roughly ten minutes. Add the carrots, saute another 5-8 minutes. Give the basil and parsley a liberal shake over the vegetables and stir. Pour in the stock and crushed tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer.

Add in the frozen vegetables and dried pasta. Simmer until the pasta is tender, 10-15 minutes. Now, eat, eat, and eat some more!

Are you guys soup lovers? What are your favorite ones? Link 'em up in the comment section!!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Pet Peeve Wednesday: Slow Walkers

Last week I talked about my disdain for inter-bathroom-conversations. Today, I bring you another pet peeve that I am sure is shared by many.

Slow walkers.

Now, I don't think I'm a particularly fast walker. I'm by no means a stroller, but my gait is relatively normal. Due to this, nothing irks me more than being stuck behind a slow walker. A window shopper without the window.

Whenever I walk downtown, I always find myself behind some lolly-gaggler whose sole purpose appears to be making me late to whatever engagement I am heading toward. They walk slow, ambling toward whatever non-pressing-destination they have in mind.

Don't they know I have a very important flirting session scheduled with the cute Starbucks barrista? Rude.

Sometimes they'll slow even further beside a skyscraper - one that looks just like every other skyscraper in a metropolitan area - and I'll watch in complete befuddlement as they whip out their camera and snap dozens of photos.

Once, I even saw a guy snapping photos of a brick wall. Like, dude, if you haven't seen a brick wall before, maybe you need to leave the house more often.

I realize some of these are tourists, and therefore their geriatric walk may be somewhat entitled. But, for goodness sake, think of others when you decide to stop in the middle of a busy sidewalk to get another angle of the John Hancock building. Otherwise, we will walk into you. And that sputtered apology that I shot you between the overt glare and passive aggressive passing? Yeah, you're not getting it next time.