Mission Statement

Culinary Adventures in a College Kitchen

Friday, March 30, 2012

Blood Orange Muffins with Chocolate Chips

I bought some blood oranges at the store a few days ago.  They were on sale and we all know how much I love a good sale, so in the cart they went.  I ate one while watching Ellen and promptly decided that I did not like blood oranges -- cool name but not so cool taste.

I still had two oranges left, though, and I couldn't risk tainting Ellen with the memory of eating yet another awful orange while watching.  I did what I usually do when left with some random food item; I went food-blog-surfing.

Not surprisingly, I found the most-perfect-recipe at How Sweet It Is.


Muffins are sort of like the frittatas of the baking world.  You can pack a host of savory or sweet odds-and-ends into the batter (not all at the same time, of course, because eeww) and typically end up with something either tasty or at the least edible.

This recipe brings together blood oranges and semi-sweet chocolate.  They're dense and chocolate-y with just a hint of sweetness.  It's a delightful afternoon pick-me-up with some coffee or a light breakfast with some fruit or yogurt.  Of course, it also tastes good after a meal or at 11:00 at night when you're watching Gilmore Girls wrapped in a housecoat and blanket because you're too cheap to turn on the heat.

Yeah, that last one was totally hypothetical.

Blood Orange Muffins with Chocolate Chips

 Ingredients:


1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 stick butter, melted
zest of 2 oranges
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


Directions:


Preheat oven t0 350 degrees.
In a bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.  Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the milk, orange juice and egg.  Add the wet ingredients and mix to combine.  Next, add the melted butter and zest.  Fold in the chocolate chips.
Using a 1/4 cup scoop, fill the muffin tin with the batter.  Bake for 15-18 minutes.

Source: Loosely adapted from Jessica's recipe


And get to the eating.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Ham and Cheese Sandwich

Most Wednesdays I have a class that goes from 7-9:30 at night.  I'm usually the person who doesn't mind school.  I'm all for the learning.  I even occasionally enjoy it.  This class, though, is absolutely, stabbing- pain-in-the-back-of-your-eye painful.  In my personal version of hell I would be taking this class over and over.  And there would be no good coffee.  Only decaf.



Thankfully, my teacher doesn't mind us bringing our laptops.  This means that for two and a half hours I check the same three websites repeatedly while pretending to understand what's happening at the front of the classroom.  Let me tell you, I am an expert nodder.  I'm of the firm belief that a well placed nod can convince just about anyone that you are actually paying attention.  

Like right now, if you were to virtually nod, I would be convinced that you aren't skipping all of this and going straight to the food photos.

You fooled me!

Anyhoo, during class I was reading my usual three websites and came across an article about January Jones having her placenta ground into pills that she took after she gave birth.  Apparently they aid in weight loss and high energy levels.  That's cool and all but when this baby maker starts making babies, I will not be ingesting my placenta in any form. 


Now that I have thoroughly grossed you out with talk of eating one's placenta, I bring you my lunch of the week!  Because what else, besides food photos, would you really want to see after hearing about placenta eating?

I promise to no longer write the word placenta.

Except for that last time.

It's been weeks since I bought lunch meat (because I am a cheap-o) but it was on sale at Potash and I am a sucker for a good sale.  I picked up a package of ham and have been eating ham and cheese sandwiches like there's going to be a ham-pocalypse or something.  I forgot how fantastic these are.  Super simple.  Super delicious.  


So, go eat some ham.  Or a placenta.

(Sorry, couldn't help myself.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Breakfast Sandwich of Champions

The breakfast sandwich of champions.


That is exactly how I would describe this sandwich.

It's nothing new.  I think I saw it on Peanut Butter Fingers first and then it popped up on a few others blogs.  It wasn't long before it seemed like everyone was eating these sandwiches.  You know how the blogosphere works with certain food trends; it gets picked up on one and then all of a sudden everyone and their distant Aunt in Portland seem to be making it.

At first glance I said that there was no way that I would ever make it.  I mean, who puts jam on their eggs?  And use cheese that isn't cheddar?  No, thank you.

Well, I'm a sucker for a trend and after seeing it pop up on yet another blog I decided to give it a try.  I threw together the sandwich, added some canadian bacon for good measure (because canadian bacon makes everything better) and crossed my fingers.

The verdict?

I now eat this about four times a week and go through eggs and canadian bacon quicker than IHOP.

Breakfast Sandwich of Champions (aka Egg-Ham-Cheese-Jam sandwich)


Ingredients:


1 english muffin
1 egg, beat
1 slice canadian bacon
1 slice cheese (mozzarella, provolone, havarti, etc)
1 tbsp strawberry/raspberry jam


Directions:


Toast the english muffin.


Meanwhile, heat the saute pan and beat your egg.  Put the bacon in the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes, until lightly browned.  Remove the bacon and add scramble the egg.  Assemble all ingredients on the english muffin and stuff-yo-face.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Asparagus and Sun-dried Tomato Frittata

When I grow up I want to be Diane Lockhart.


Any The Good Wife fans reading this?  If not, let me give you a simple introduction to Christine Baranski's illustrious lawyer Diane Lockhart.

She's a BAMF.

The woman knows how to accessorize.

I am now looking forward to law school purely so I can become a Diane Lockhart prototype with the perfect swooping hair and powersuits.  Future planned.  Bam.

On a completely unrelated note, I made a frittata this week that was so good that I literally ate it for every meal one day.  I am going to go all hyperbolic here and say that it is the best frittata that I have made.


Yes, I do realize that I say this about every frittata that I make.

But this time I rrreeaallllyy mean it.

Asparagus and Sun-dried Tomato Frittata 


Ingredients:

1/2 bunch asparagus
1 link sun-dried tomato sausage (cooked)
6 eggs
2 tbsp milk
1/4 cup, plus 2 tbsp parmesan cheese

Directions:

In a mixing bowl combine the eggs, milk and 1/4 cup cheese.

Chop the asparagus and saute in olive oil for 5-8 minutes, until tender.  Remove from pan and add the sausage, sauteing until seared.  Add the asparagus and egg mixture.  Cook until the bottom is cooked but the top is still slightly runny, 10-15 minutes.  Sprinkle remaining 2 tbsp of cheese and put in the broiler for 5 minutes, or until the top is browned.

Serve with a side salad.


And eat.




The end.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Rotini with Eggplant and Sausage

Ever have one of those days when you just need some pasta?

I'm generally all for eating healthy.  I like my fruits and vegetables.  I think kale is the bee's knees.  Sometimes, though, you have a day that requires it ending with a large amount of carbs.  Preferably accompanied by some wine.


Last week I had one of those days.  I was feeling under the weather and had trudged through a long day at work.  When I got home I wanted something quick and substantial for dinner.  My go-to quick dinner is a large salad (with all the refrigerator fixings) but this was not a salad night.  I needed something different.  I needed some pasta.


I make something like this pretty often.  I boil up some pasta and then throw in whatever vegetables I have on hand.  Pretty much any vegetable will work in this.  It's also good with a little marinara sauce thrown in.

Rotini with Eggplant and Sausage


Ingredients:


Pasta
Sausage (I used pre-cooked sun-dried tomato and basil chicken sausage)
Eggplant
olive oil
parmesan cheese
salt/pepper


Directions:


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Slice and chop the eggplant and drizzle with oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Roast the eggplant for 20-25 minutes.


Meanwhile, boil pasta according to package instructions.  


Combine the pasta with eggplant, cooked sausage and parmesan cheese.  

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Cat-Calling: Flattery or Not?

I found this really great article on HelloGiggles about cat-calling and how it shouldn't be considered a form of flattery.  I won't go into too much detail about the article, but the basic gist is that cat-calling is offensive and a symptom of a society that unintentionally demeans women.

Source: HelloGiggles

Now, my life isn't a rap video or anything, but I do get a cat-call from time to time.  When you live in the city it's something that you really can't avoid like pigeons or crazy people.

I can't say I get overly offended by it.  Most of the time I just laugh at the absurdity of someone thinking that a honk, whistle or cat-call constitutes as actual communication.  Do they really expect you to respond with anything besides an eye roll or pointed ignorance?  I can't really imagine someone going up to a cat-caller and saying, "Gee whiz, thanks for that very loud and somewhat inappropriate greeting.  Let's exchange digits."

Hey Victor Lazlo, let's go whistle at some girls and make lasting love connections.

In general, I take it for what it is (absurd) and move on with my day.  Just as there will always be pigeons flying toward me at random (seriously pigeons, stop doing that) there will always be weirdos acting like...well...weirdos.

What do you guys think? 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Pet Peeve Wednesday

This weekend I celebrated my first legal St. Patrick's Day.  To say that it was an experience would be putting it lightly.  Never before have I seen such public drunkenness.  Part of me hated the crowds (we know my issue with slow walkers) but I couldn't deny the drunken poetic beauty of an entire city off its rocker.

I saw a lot of things Saturday, some things that I wish I could un-see.  I did learn a lot, though.

1.  Never wear flip flops to a bar.  Ever.  I wore a pair on Saturday and I my feet literally became glued to the beer covered floor.

2.  Also, when people say that they are going to drink all day on St. Patrick's Day, they mean ALL DAY.  I walked past a bar at 8 am and was dumbfounded by the drunken-green-clad-line of people stretching out the door.

3.  I went to the beach and saw a bunch of guys doing drunken yoga.  I would like to give the highest of fives to whomever thought this was a good idea.  As for the girls doing drunken handstands behind them?  Yeah, no high fives for you.

4.  Irish men, contrary to your belief, you are not made any sexier by it being St. Patrick's Day.  So check your rolicking brogue at the door and stop trying to put the moves on me.

5.  And as for all the people who pointed out that I was wearing a green dress as if it were some world-class-discovery, kudos to you.  Congratulations on pointing out that I was wearing green on St. Patrick's Day.  You're real winners.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Crazy Good Quinoa

I read an article in the Chicago Tribune yesterday that said eating red meat significantly increases your risk of premature death.  I guess Luke Danes was right.


The article talks about a Harvard Medical School study that  showed eating red meat or processed meat (like cold cuts and hotdogs) contributing to early deaths.   Personally,  I take a lot of these new health studies with a hefty grain of salt.  I'm a proponent of having everything in moderation.  Except hotdogs because they are gross.

I dare any of you to watch Food Network's "How It's Made" hotdog episode and look at them the same way.  Impossible.

Anyhoo, today I bring you a meatless recipe.  I'd like to say that this is in keeping with the theme of the article above, but it's really more due to my being too cheap to buy meat on a regular basis.  It's so much cheaper to just live off of quinoa and beans.  Seriously.

I have a habit of roasting up a bunch of vegetables at the beginning of the week and tossing them together with quinoa or rice throughout the week.  It's quick, nutritious and generally tasty.  This recipe features some roasted chickpeas which really elevated this dish's appeal to me.  I will definitely be making this again soon and hope you all give it a try, as well!

Crazy Good Quinoa


Ingredients:

Quinoa
Roasted Chickpeas
Roasted peppers and mushrooms
Marinara sauce

Directions:

Cook quinoa according to package instructions.

Chop peppers and slice mushrooms.  Arrange in a single layer on a baking dish and drizzle with oil.  Season with basil and parsley and stir to combine.  Roast in a 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.

In a bowl, mix together the chickpeas and oil, salt and pepper.  Spread on a baking dish.  In a 325 degree oven, bake for 20-25 minutes, tossing occasionally.

Combine all ingredients.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pet Peeve Wednesday: Celebrity Edition

Today, I bring you celebrities that I either can't stand or look at and wonder if they were dropped as a young child.  I apologize in advance for potentially ribbing any of your idols.  Feel free to return the favor in the comment section.


I think this picture properly sums up my main complaint with Mary J Blige.  You look at her and it is clear that she thinks she's the shit.  Yes, she may be talented.  And I do like that one song that was used in those car commercials.  But, girl needs to dial back the 'tude.


I think they should rename The Voice as The Christina Aguilera Boob Show.  Her girls are out to play and they are taking over the jungle gym.  She must have stock in double sided tape.


Snookie is engaged and pregnant.  I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

What celebrities peeve you off?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am in love with these cookies.

I want to write schmoopy love songs about them.  Compose sonnets.  Get on my rooftop and shout its beauty, because that is what these cookies are.  They are a thing of beauty.  And deliciousness.

Did I mention they're delicious?


Imagine your run of the mill chocolate chip cookie.  Now, add a deep and rich caramel flavor and the delectable bite of sea salt.

 Imagine yourself with an entire plate.  And some milk.  And maybe George Clooney.

Oh yeah, these cookies are the real deal.


Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies


2 1/2 cups flour
2 cups dark brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
2 sticks butter, softened
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
sea salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


Mix together the flour and baking soda in a bowl.  Set aside.


In a mixing bowl, combine the butter and sugar.  Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each is mixed in.  Add the vanilla.  Mix in the flour mixture in two batches.  Fold in the chocolate chips.


Scoop the dough onto a prepared cookie sheet.  Sprinkle each dough ball with sea salt.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.




Source:  Eat Live Run

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

The weather in Chicago has been absolutely bonkers lately.  This past weekend it was snowing and then yesterday the temperature was up in the 60s.  I'd like to the this indecisiveness means that spring is honest-to-goodness around the corner, but I know better than to think that Chicago will actually have a spring season.  Every good Chicagoan knows we practically jump from winter to summer with maybe one 70 degree day thrown in for good measure.

Anyhoo, I am going to enjoy this warmer weather while it lasts.  I made this smoothie a few weeks back, but it would be a nice little faux-spring treat.  It could even stand in place of a breakfast if you wanted to get really crazy!

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

                             

1/2 cup pumpkin
1 frozen banana
2 tbsp dry oatmeal
1/2 cup milk 
dash cinnamon and nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor.  Blend until combined.  

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Pet Peeve Wednesday

1.  Weeks of putting off laundry has left me with about five loads to get through today.  Despite watching my clothing supply dwindle, I am still moderately surprised each time I have to do laundry.  I think to myself, "Really, laundry again?  Didn't I just do laundry?".  Which I, of course, have not because I put it off like other people put off going to the doctor or dentist.  It's just so unpleasant.  And I can never find my laundry card.

2.  Does anyone else find it gross when something says it is "flavored with meat".  There is a pasta sauce sitting on my counter right now that says exactly that, and I can't help but wonder why they just don't call it meat sauce.    

3.  It was so windy yesterday that I had trouble walking from my car to a restaurant.  And then, when I did finally make it indoors, my hair was so mussed that I looked like a street urchin.  I love you, too, Chicago weather.

4.  Our DVD player is on the fritz.  It skips and freezes, and always at pivotal points in a movie or show.  It's like it senses that this point is the one that will cause most distress in viewers if the screen froze.  Crafty little bugger.

5.  Speaking of the DVD player, we bought a new one about four months back, and as of two seconds ago the new player still sits unused in its box beside the television.  Sometimes I don't understand my family.

6.  And for those of you asking yourself why I don't stop complaining and just fix it myself?  For starters, complaining is more fun.  More to the point, though, technology is a foreign language that I have yet to learn.  Plus there are lots of scary cords.

What's been peeving you guys off this week?  Let it all loose in the comment section!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Curry-Roasted Cauliflower

As you might remember, I'm taking a fiction writing class.  My piece was peer edited on Tuesday and after weeks of worrying how the class would react to it, I had my answer.  They liked it!

I felt like Susan Sarandon when she was onstage for the Oscars and exclaiming, "You like me!  You rrreealllly like me!!!"

After coming down from the flattery high, though, I am now faced with the daunting task of creating another piece they will like.  And now they have the first piece they all loved to compare it with.  Which, of course, makes me about 467 times more anxious.

So, happy writing for me and my forthcoming breakdown.

In the meantime, I am going to focus on blogging (which I think I can do) and providing you all with delicious recipes.  This one is not my own, but I'm sharing it anyway.  It's a Mama Pea classic with half the ingredients missing because I was too lazy to walk across the street to the store.  So, I guess I sort of made it my own?  Maybe?  Sort of?

Anyhoo, you should make this soon regardless.  I ate all of it in two days and could have eaten even more.   

 Curry-Roasted Cauliflower


Ingredients:


1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp garam masala


Directions:


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


Mix the cauliflower with the oil and spices in a bowl.  Transfer to a baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes, tossing the cauliflower several times to ensure even roasting.  The cauliflower is finished when the stalk is easily pierced by a knife.


Hey guys--make sure to stop by Steph's Bite by Bite for her TNT ONLINE BAKE SALE.  I have my white chocolate peanut butter cookies up for sale and there are tons of other fantastic goodies, too!!  Check it out!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Rustic Apple-Almond Tart

Thank you all for your kind get-better-soon comments! You guys are the best!  I called Doctor Dad (or as I commonly call him, my personal Web MD) and he put me on a round of antibiotics.  I don't want to jinx anything, but I feel like I've finally turned the corner.

So, yay!

This weekend I had friends over for the Oscars and I planned on doing my usual thing and making dessert.  All week I thought about different treats and then settled on sugar sandwich cookies.  I'd bake up sugar cookies, sandwich some buttercream between them and roll the cookies in sprinkles.

Are you guys excited yet?

I was.  I don't think I've ever been as excited to make a cookie as I was about those.  There would be lots of sprinkles and leftover buttercream that I would force myself to eat because waste is the devil's game. Unfortunately, I neglected to remember that I am pretty much incapable of making sugar cookies (why???) and when the entire batch ended up in the garbage with an hour until company arrived, I had to do some quick thinking.

I had been defrosting puff pastry dough to make some caramelized onion tarts.  I quickly nixed that idea and settled on an apple tart using my last two apples in the apartment.


In classic Liz fashion, several things went wrong when I made this tart.  

The puff pastry dough teared like a mother-trucker.

I accidentally poured cumin on the apples instead of cinnamon.  (Remedied with a quick bath)

I decided to roll out the dough ON the baking sheet.  (Bad idea)

Miraculously, it turned out and was edible.  I absolutely loved this because even with my spazzing out and having to re-do every step about three times, the tart came together in about fifteen minutes.  I served this with some vanilla ice cream and it was delicious.  Make sure to serve it warm and the ice cream gets all melt-y.

Good stuff, folks.

Rustic Apple-Almond Tart



Ingredients:

1 sheet puff pastry dough, thawed
2 apples, thinly sliced
1/2 cup ground almonds
cinnamon
nutmeg
2 tbsp sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Roll out the thawed puff pastry dough to either a rectangle or circle.  Sprinkle the ground almonds on the dough, leaving about 1/4 inch on each side of the rectangle (or around the circumference of the circle).  Sprinkle 1 tbsp of sugar over the almonds.

In a bowl, mix together the sliced apples and spices.  Mix well to coat.  Spread the apples evenly out onto the dough.  Try to only make one layer.  Sprinkle with the remaining sugar.


Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the puff pastry has browned.  You may have some trouble with the bottom being baked through due to the apples.  If you have this, bake for an additional 5-10 minutes with the tart on cooling rack to allow the heat to circulate better.

Serve warm with ice cream.