Mission Statement

Culinary Adventures in a College Kitchen

Monday, April 30, 2012

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

It has been too long since I've posted a cupcake recipe here.  I used to be all about the cupcake baking, but found myself drawn more toward cookies lately.  A large part of that is cookies' portability.  It's sort of hard to get cupcakes with mounds of buttercream across town on foot.  I don't think you could accidentally drop them and still deliver them unscathed.

I did this with cookies once.  The bag I was carrying them ripped and they tumbled out onto the sidewalk.  Luckily I had the cookies in a separate ziploc bag (I was carrying that bag in a grocery store one) and they were just fine.

I didn't tell the people they were for about the little tumble, though.  If they are reading this, they are probably gagging.  I promise, they were fine!  A little crumbly, but definitely edible.

Anyway, I pretty much only make cupcakes now if I am having people over.  No transport.  No tumble danger.  I had some friends over this past weekend and I made these cupcakes.

They were a crowd pleaser.

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

For the cake:

2 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/3 cup white sugar
3 egg whites, at room temperature
8 tbsp butter, at room temperature
1 cup milk
24 oreo halves
20 oreos, crushed

For the frosting:

8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tbsp butter, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tbsp heavy cream


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a cupcake pan with cupcake sleeves and put an oreo half at the bottom of each, cream side up.  Set aside.

Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.  In another bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add in the egg whites one at a time, mixing until just incorporated.  Add half of the flour mixture and combine.  Pour in the milk, and mix until just incorporated.  Add the remainder of the flour mixture and combine.  Fold in the crushed oreos.

Divide the batter evenly between the 24 muffin liners.  Bake 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  You may need to leave them in longer depending on your oven.  Mine had to stay in for about 22 minutes.

For the frosting, combine the cream cheese and butter.  Add the vanilla extract and combine.  Mix in the powdered sugar, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Next, add the heavy cream and mix until the frosting is light and fluffly, about 4 minutes.

Pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes.  Garnish with half an oreo cookie.

And eat.
The end.

Saturday, April 28, 2012


Have you ever had a dream where you wake up and immediately wish you could fall back asleep and pick up the dream right where it left off?

Last night, I dreamt I was dating this hunk of love.

In the dream it was Jesse Williams, not Jackson Avery -- although, for the record, I would 100% take either.  I was asking him about his work in Cabin in the Woods, because clearly even when I have a hot guy next to me, I still ask about Joss Whedon.

You cannot escape me!!!!

We (my hottie Jesse and I) walked around the city, and then magically appeared at my house in the 'burbs.  Also, he definitely was shirtless the entire dream.  I don't care if it makes absolutely no sense considering that the dream was set in winter.  It was a nice visual.

When I woke up, I had a moment where I just laid there and thought for a nano-second, "Could it be real??"  And then I remembered how I watched Grey's Anatomy yesterday, and there was not only motive for my dreaming about Jesse Williams but a fairly logical explanation.  I also remembered that I have never actually met Jesse Williams, which makes my dating him pretty much impossible.

Sometimes life is cruel.

Have any dreams that you wished were real?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Baked Apple with Ricotta Cheese

This recipe is a fooler.  I know the title says baked apple, but this is made entirely in the microwave.  No need to mess with ovens and end up leaving it on for hours after you've finished using it.  Or maybe you're all responsible and actually remember to turn off your oven.  All I know is that if my oven was gas and not electric, I would be racking up quite a bill.

I love to end my dinners with something sweet, and this is the perfect dessert.  It's more special than a cookie or piece of chocolate.  The apple even makes it pseudo healthy.  I tend to buy apples in bulk, so I make this pretty often.  I love how quickly it comes together, and ricotta cheese is just about the greatest thing since sliced bread and wet Colin Firth.

Yeah, this picture has definitely been on the blog three times now.  I regret nothing.

A recipe this deceptively simple might suggest that it can't stand up to its more elaborate cousins.  Don't be fooled by the microwaving, though. The apples become the most delectable pie filling that pair wonderfully with the creamy ricotta.  It's good stuff.

Baked Apple with Ricotta Cheese


1 apple
1/4 cup ricotta


Core and slice the apple.  Arrange the apple in a small ramekin, and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. No need to really measure here, but make sure you don't have too much of a heavy hand with the cinnamon.  Cover with plastic wrap, and microwave for 1 minute.  Remove and let cool slightly.

Place the cooked apples on a plate.  Cover with ricotta.  Prepare to have your mind blown.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Pasta with Shrimp and Broccoli

It's the week before finals, and I am about three steps from full blown cray-cray.  If it weren't for coffee and my arsenal of Buffy DVDs, I might just end up locked in my room speaking tongues like Anne Heche.

That's the funny thing about college.  One week you have minimal work, and it's all weekday pub crawls and Big Bang Theory re-runs, and then the next thing you know you have three papers, an exam and four loads of laundry that refuse to wash themselves.

Seriously, why can't laundry wash itself?  Think of all the extra free time you'd have.  The extra quarters.

Anyway, finals week always makes me want to eat myself senseless.  Nothing seems to ease stress better than a hand full of chocolate chips.  Or a cheeseburger and french fries.  There is this local burger joint by me that has THE BEST burgers and fries.  I went there earlier this week and the owner told me that he hadn't seen me in a while. You know you go somewhere too often when the proprietor notices you skip a week.  He also knows my order.  It's like my own personal Luke's Diner.

During finals, I always make a point of cooking a few meals.  Everyone needs to eat, and following my chocolate and cheeseburger binges, I like to know what's going into my body.  This pasta dish is one of my favorites.  I actually ended up making it twice in one week.

Pasta with Shrimp and Broccoli


1 lb pasta
1/2 lb shrimp
1 cup broccoli
olive oil


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Toss broccoli with olive oil, and spread on a baking sheet.  Roast for 10-15 minutes, flip the broccoli, and roast for an additional 5-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil the pasta.

Defrost shrimp according to instructions.  Sautee the shrimp in olive oil until cooked, roughly 3-4 minutes.  

Mix the pasta, broccoli and cooked shrimp.  Drizzle with olive oil, parmesan and serve.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Pet Peeve Wednesday

1.  My computer turned off by itself last night and then refused to turn on.  I got it to work again, but I still had that paralyzing moment where I thought my computer was going to be dead the week of finals with all of my papers and presentations on it.  Um, let's not do that, computer.  Seriously.  Let's not.

2.  It's been raining like a b**** in Chicago lately.  Rainy.  Cold.  It's like English weather, but without the accents.  Or William and Kate.  OR Colin Firth.

3.  For graduation, my parents have reserved a limo so that my grandparents can easily get there.  I understand the reasoning behind the limo - it makes good sense - but all I can think about is how I am going to look like some Kardashian climbing out of a limo on graduation.  Bruce Jenner, where are you?!

4.  I'm out of cereal.  I usually eat oatmeal in the AM, but every time I come home with a box I eat it like   I've never seen cereal before in my life.  Kashi Go Lean, enter my bodyyyy!!!  Guess I need to get another ridiculously overpriced $4.99 box at the grocery store.  Yep.  5 dollar cereal.  The underbelly of city living, friends.

5.  Finals week.  Enough said.

What's peeving you off lately?  Vent in the comment section!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Funfetti Fudge

Baking is dangerous when you live alone.  I love to bake.  Love with a capital L, people.  But when you live alone and have an entire sheet cake in your refrigerator, bad things can happen.

I've talked about this before on here.  You're probably all wondering why I don't learn my lesson and keep baking for special occasions.  Well, I'm wondering the same thing.  A few weeks ago, I made this fudge that I was planning on bringing it to some friends, but it ended up going into my refrigerator and belly.

I tried to trick myself by eating small pieces.  A small corner had just as much sugary sweetness as a larger piece, right?  Well, I did trick myself, but it was instead by going back for seconds.  And thirds.  Turns out that eating small pieces of fudge doesn't work when you eat several small pieces.  Also, large amounts of sugar right before bed leads to stomachaches and sugar hangovers.

You've been warned.

This fudge is sort of fantastic.  It's Gracie's cake batter fudge, but I renamed it for here.  Cake batter fudge is a fine name, but I can't resist good alliteration.  Hence...


I am literally smiling at that right now.  Alliteration rocks.

As does this fudge.

Funfetti Fudge


2 cups yellow cake mix
2 cups powdered sugar (or less if you want it less sweet)
1 stick butter
1/4 cup milk
rainbow sprinkles


Melt the butter.  Stir in the cake mix, sugar and milk until the batter is smooth.  Add the rainbow sprinkles and mix quickly.  Let the batter cool a bit to avoid coloring the fudge like I did.  If you don't mind that -- go to town with the mixing.  

Pour into a greased cake pan.  Chill for at least 2 hours.

Source: Girl Meets Life

Monday, April 16, 2012

Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo

This weekend I fully embraced my nerd by going to my first comic book convention.  On Saturday I went to the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2), and I have to say that I had the most amazing time.  Everything that you've heard about comic conventions are pretty much true.  People dress up.  You take pictures with them.  You fangirl about every eight seconds.

C2E2 was held at McCormick Place and it was absolutely packed.  In the main convention area, it was so crowded that you could barely move.  That worked quite well for ogling all of the merchandise, though!  They had a number of panels going on throughout the day with famous people from the sci-fi world.  If you're a Doctor Who fan, John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness) was there.  I went to his panel and was just about dancing in my seat.

I love this man.

I also went to Nicholas Brendon's panel, who played Xander Harris on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  I got the last question of the panel and although I completely embarrassed myself (in front of him and about 100 people, no less) it was completely worth it.  And now I can say that I technically had a conversation with Xander Harris.  Freaking out a bit right now just thinking about it!!

Random tidbit: He kept drinking water straight from the pitcher while proclaiming that he was, "cutting out the middle man."  If I were about fifteen years older, we would be married.

My favorite part of the day was probably all of the people in costume.  At these conventions, it is totally normal to freak out over someone's costume and ask for a picture.  It's actually a pretty nice compliment if someone comes up to you and whips out there camera.  Therefore, I gave out a whole lot of compliments.

Talking with a stormtrooper is sort of terrifying, even when you are marginally sure they won't shoot you.  

I literally dropped all of my belonging when I saw him, and then made him stand awkwardly while I took eighteen hours to find my camera.  So worth it, though.

Darth Vader, you've got nothing on me.

I had the most amazing time on Saturday.  It was so much fun to be surrounded with people as nerdy and completely obsessed as I am.  I had more intense conversations with people over their favorite Doctor or Buffy episode than I can count.  It was my first convention, and I can 100% say that it will not be my last.

Have you been to any conventions/expos like this?  Did you like it?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Brown Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

There are many reasons to eat a cookie.  Sometimes it's a pick-me-up cookie.  Work went long or that research paper that you put off is suddenly due next week(cough...don't look here...cough).  Other times it's a congratulatory cookie.  You ran your first fiver miler or finally finished that research paper after holing yourself up in the library with shoddy internet service so that you wouldn't spend half the time on Facebook.  

And then sometimes, you eat a cookie purely because it is Tuesday.  Or Wednesday.  Or any other day that you think, "A cookie right now?  Wouldn't hate it."

This is a cookie for all reasons.  All seasons.  And another word that rhymes with the other two.  An added bonus is that you probably already have all of the ingredients in your pantry!

Brown Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies



1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup loosely packed brown sugar
1 large egg
2  tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup oats (not quick-cook)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup chocolate chunks


In a small sauce pan, heat the butter, whisking constantly until browned.  Remove the saucepan from heat and continue to whisk for an additional 30 seconds.  Set aside and let the butter cool completely.

In a mixing bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and oats.  Set aside.

Once the butter has cooled, mix it with the two sugars until combined.  Mix in the egg and vanilla.  Add the flour mixture and combine with hands until a dough forms.  Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Form dough into 1 1/2 inch balls and place 2 inches apart on a prepared baking sheet.  Bake 10-12 minutes, or until the edges and bottoms are golden brown.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Mimosa Soup

This weekend I went home for Easter and I ended up eating my weight in: reubens, sweet potato fries, parmesan pork tenderloin, prime rib roast, sauerkraut, ham and about a dozen pound-cake-eggs.

Yes, I did just tell you everything I ate this weekend.  Thankfully I'm sparing you a full play-by-play.  I'd need pictures for that.

I'm assuming most of you had a similarly indulgent weekend.  If not, well, then you're a better person than me.  I enjoyed all my favorite foods with reckless abandon, and while I regret nothing (except for maybe that 12th pound-cake-egg) I do want to eat a bit lighter now.  This soup is the perfect remedy for any indulgent weekend.  It's chock full of vegetables and requires very little actual work.  The soup has to cook for about an hour, but the work before is minimal.

Oh, and it tastes good.

Mimosa Soup

1/2 pound celeriac
1/2 pound carrots
1/2 pound turnips
2 leeks
1 head cabbage
1 head lettuce


Roughly chop everything but the cabbage and lettuce and put in a large stockpot.  Cover with water and bring to a boil.  Cook for 40 minutes.  Add the cabbage and lettuce, cook for an additional 15 minutes.

Put the soup in either a blender or food processor.  Process until smooth, leaving some texture.  If in an apartment, wince at what your neighbors must be thinking as you sound like you're grinding body parts in your kitchen.

Ladle into bowls and serve.

Source:  French Women Don't Get Fat

Friday, April 6, 2012

Pho For You

This has been a pretty spectacular week.  I decided on law school.  I started the Couch to 5K program.  And I found out that I am receiving some sort of recognition from my school at our annual Honors Reception.  I have no idea what this "recognition" means but the reception involves food and an open bar.  Thank you, School of Communication, don't mind if I do.

Another part of my spectacular week was this equally spectacular soup.  It's no surprise that I'm a soup lover.  There's just something about it that I find so satisfying.  This one is particularly good with creamy coconut milk and pungent ginger.  Usually I freeze half the batch when I make soup but I don't see myself having any trouble finish off this soup.  I can't get enough of it!


1 package tofu noodles
4 cups veggie broth
1 cup carrot, sliced
1 cup spinach
1 tbsp minced ginger
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp lime juice
1/4 cup coconut milk


Rinse tofu noodles and microwave for one minute.  Set aside.

Bring the veggie broth to a boil.  Add the carrots and simmer until tender, 5-8 minutes.  Add in the rest of the ingredients and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.  Pour the soup over the noodles.  

Stuff yo' face.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Turn of Phrase

I'm all for the kitschy phrases.  I think they can add a lot of color to your language without using any four letter words that would make your grandma blush.  Unless we're referring to my grandma.  She's a world class cusser.

Anyway, I like my phrases.  They're fun and occasionally cute.  It occurred to me, though, that half the times I have no idea what I'm actually saying.  I understand what they mean in context, but out of context I'm about as clueless as Snooki in a library.

I've rounded up the usual suspects.

1)  Up My Alley

This is something that I say a lot.  I'll see a recipe and go, "Oh, this is right up my alley."  Or a movie that I think I'd like is "up my alley".  What does this even mean?!   Is it a good thing to be up my alley?  Is my alley really that great of a place to be up?  Am I the only one with a strong urge to say 'That's what she said' about now?

2)  The Bee's Knees

Another thing I say often.  Another thing that makes absolutely no sense.  What does it really mean to say that something is the bee's knees?  Is it good?  Is it bad?  Do bees even have knees?  My Google image search was inconclusive, although I did find some pretty disturbing tattoos.

3)  Oy, enough with the poodles already!

This is straight from Gilmore Girls and admittedly has no real meaning.  I will never stop saying this at random points in conversations.  NEVER.

4)  Easy Peasy

Okay, this I don't say and I strongly detest anyone who does.  I still remember the first time that I heard it.  I was a junior in high school taking PreCalc.  If the subject matter wasn't giving me enough of a headache (which it was) I had to hear "easy peasy" every other minute from the kids around me.  It's a wonder I actually passed that class.

What are the little phrases you guys use?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Pet Peeve Wednesday: Disney Edition

I grew up watching Disney movies.  Beauty and the Beast was my favorite, closely followed by The Little Mermaid.  I watched them to the point where my parents probably wished they could burn all of the VHS tapes.  Years later, I still enjoy popping them in our old-school-VHS-player some nights and singing along obnoxiously to all the songs.  I've noticed a few things as I've gotten older, though.

Let's start with Pocahontas.

1)  No one's hair looks that good when it is blowing in the wind.  More likely, your hair will look like something her pet raccoon would live in.

2)  Speaking of pet raccoons -- why do all of these Disney princesses seem to be best buds with wild animals?  Are there not enough real people around?  I don't know about you, but if my most meaningful relationship was with a crab or raccoon, I would seriously start questioning my socializing skills.

Moving on to The Little Mermaid.

3)  Mermaid or not, that shell bra would chafe.

4)  And isn't she supposed to be sixteen or something?  I don't know about you, but my parents would lock me in my room if I pranced around in a shell bra.

And we can't forget Aladdin.

5)  Monkeys are actually pretty vicious creatures in real life.  This means that Abu probably would have ripped Aladdin's face off somewhere in the first ten minutes of that film.

6)  Unless there were handles to hold on to, you would fall off that magic carpet.  And yes, I realize that the whole magic-carpet-thing means that it defies logic.  And gravity.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Spinach Frittata

I don't understand the weather in Chicago.  Two weeks ago the weather was in the 80s and I was prancing around in sundresses and flip flops.   Well, there was no actual prancing, but you catch my drift.

I drank iced coffee.  The air conditioner and I were best buds.  I even went to the beach and watched people do drunk yoga while getting an awkward tank-top tan.  Then last week temps were back in the 40s and it was freaking cold.  This week, we're back to the 60s.  

I have no explanation for this, other than the world is ending thanks to excessive driving and hairspray use.  Or, you know, global warming and all that.

If this does mean the world is ending, I feel it is my duty as a food blogger to provide you with one last frittata recipe.  Because when an apocalypse is on the horizon, it's clearly important to be well-fed.  

Spinach Frittata


6 eggs
2 tbsp milk 
1/4 cup, plus 2 tbsp parmesan, grated
1 cup spinach (or a handful)


In a bowl, mix together the egg, cheese, and milk.  Add the spinach.  Pour into an oven-safe skillet on medium heat and cook until the top is barely runny, 10-12 minutes.  Place in the broiler and cook for 3-4 minutes, until the top browns.

Serve with vegetables or a salad.  

Monday, April 2, 2012


I haven't blogged a lot about my law school search.  Mostly, it's because I don't have that many entertaining things to say about it besides a series of Legally Blonde jokes that even make me roll my eyes.  My search has come to an end, though, and I have finally made a decision.

I am officially a member of the University of Illinois College of Law Class of 2015.

Try saying that five times fast.

It was a difficult decision for me.  I was accepted to a number of schools in the city and a large part of me wanted to stay in Chicago.  I love everything about city life.  I love the constant bustle; the fantastic food; the nightlife.  I used to walk around the city and wonder how I had managed to find myself in such a spectacular place.

The prospect of leaving the city and moving down to Champaign for three years sort of terrified me.  I'm not someone who likes change.  I'm comfortable in the city and a large part of me wanted to keep that.  You can't live your life sticking with what's comfortable, though.  Ultimately, I came to realize that U of I was too good of an opportunity to pass up.

I'm looking forward to this next step in my life.  It'll be a different from what I had in Chicago, but different isn't necessarily bad.

Bottom line:  It's going to be an interesting three years.