Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Counting the minutes

5 hours to leave work (ah ah ah)... 4 hours to leave work (ah ah ah).

I'm so excited for the festivities planned for ringing in the New Year. Lots of my favorite people, cocktail dresses, cocktails, and some seriously fun appetizer contributions by yours truly. I stayed up way past my bedtime preparing one and hopefully there will be time post work today to throw the others together, get ready, and and some point put away all of the laundry i am making my brother do for me while he's there today and generally get the place in condition to have as many overnight guests as it will have. THEN...... then it's off to the party. WHOOP WHOOP. Not to worry..... I've got my four inch dancing shoes all ready and have of course charged my camera in preparation for the event :)


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Caution: gratuitous and shameless materialism happening over here

Hmmmm apparently cooking was the theme of this christmas. This is probably the first year since I stopped collecting barbies where I did not receive any articles of clothing or footwear. Does this make me an adult? I sure hope not. Anyway I got all kinds of fabulous things I am SO excited to put to good use (did someone say puree? sauces? brand spanking new recipes?? internship at martha stewart and my own book deal? a made for tv movie about the rags to culinary riches former foot model.. lauren? .. based on a true story). Santa delivered a double broiler, full size food processor, several cook books (ellie krieger, a 'brain food' book and 2 copies of SB in the kitch... are they telling me something?) and some other miscellaneous goodies.

For our christmas eve dinner we started what will probably be a new tradition... TAPAS! Who doesn't like to eat finger food anyway?? We had a few courses which included crudites/dip tray, crab stuffed mushrooms, veggie pizzas, mozzarella/basil/tomato salad skewers, garlic bread with cream cheese and pesto, mini green bean casseroles (not so Spanish but requested by my sister), and a few other Delicious concoctions which appear to have escaped my memory. It was perfect: a little comfort, a little fancy, and without the food-induced-coma which usually accompanies a rich holiday meal. (plenty of that happened the rest of the weekend)

I told my dad he'd be in the picture........ what did he do? turn around. sheesh. After our family's christmas we headed to Iowa to meet my mother's enormous, hilarious, loud, chaotic, and fabulous family. The best part? hands down my aunt theresa's sugar cookie trays. She could start her own cookie company, these are to die for.

After a buffet of amazing mashed potatoes and assorted delicious salads and sides (not to mention the prime rib that was served!) we were on to the next best holiday tradition... the always funny white elephant exchange. Though nothing can top when my dad got the susan lucci autographed picture (circa late 80s) signed to the favorite 'sister' of the family (which enacted the 'stealing' rule at the white elephant exchange).. hilarity-wise, this year did not disappoint. Here is my mom holding up the shoe phone she received. Apparently sports illustrated mass produced these puppies in the 80s. Nice, eh?

The next day we headed to my cousins Matt and Alana's adorable house to play a little Wii. My dad is so hip.. and not broken-hip. Don't even get me started on how he beat ALL of us in the hula hoop Wii game.
They were better than I was... exhibit A.

And now I present........ something that will make my mother want to kill me. Years and years ago my dad decided to sneak something in to her beautiful nativity scene. Anybody catch the dracula head hidden in the straw? hahahahah..... a favorite holiday tradition.

I hope every one's holiday was amazing!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Are we there yet?

Who has to work on Christmas eve? me, that's who. Little does my employer know that I am completely worthless on days like today (something that begins in elementary school where the day before Christmas break all you do is have crazy sugar rushes from holiday treats and watch tim allen santa movies). My brother is in town and will arrive here at work within the hour so we can whisk away to our parents house (driving ever so carefully in the fresh snow that is everywhere from last night) ..were the festivities/joy/hilarity/wonderfulness can commence upon our arrival. I can't wait!!!! Last night I was trying to cram in baking and producing treats for my boss and a few extra for John's family. I was unhappy with the presentation (after all, isn't it ALL about the presentation??) but after running around to a million craft/grocery/misc. stores over the past week and having some gift bag induced stress, I just decided to go with this. It turned out okay but still wasn't quite what I had in mind. Note to self: stop trying to be a perfectionist. The food was good though, I made chocolate covered pretzels and peppermint bark. YUM.
The peppermint bark was from this recipe. Take note all martha wannabes (ahem, jaclyn) because the hungry housewife blog is ridiculously crafty. It makes me wish I had PTO meetings and other things where I could display said craftiness. Okay, not really but you know what I mean. I layered dark chocolate (whipped with cream and peppermint extract) with white chocolate and had some crushed candy canes on top. REALLY good if I do say so myself!

And now I present..... a foodshoesbooze special feature, a guest picture of food spot. John and I have cooked dinner together the past few nights (me = baking and doing other miscellaneous tasks, john = focusing on the meal at hand). He told me I could take a picture of the meal if I promise to give him credit. My compliments to the chef, the ever so talented John. The other night we had sauteed green beans, a salmon Florentine roll from the meat counter at the grocery store (spinach, red peeper, cream cheese? it was amazing), and a salad of mixed greens.
Last night we used a couple of the steaks that I received for the Holidays from work. (bonuses? we don't need no stinking bonuses!) He found a wine sauce with which to marinate both the steak (broiled) and some sliced portabellas. REALLY good. Also we had some spaghetti squash and more mixed greens.
It was WAY too much food, but a worthy indulgence.
MERRY CHRISTMAS. I hope your time with your family is as amazingly fun as I know mine will be.... a perk of having the greatest family ever. Drive safe, if applicable. Here's wishing you get all the shoes, and cooking related gifts that you wanted........... and remember to take it easy on the nog. :)

Monday, December 22, 2008

getting back on.. (the wagon)

Pro of weekends: extra time to get together with loved ones, have fun activities, share a cool beverage and unwind from the week's stresses. Con of weekends: somehow no matter how tame the plans I end up consuming meaningless calories via alcohol which ultimately results in delivery from pizza hut (which we could walk to, since there is one just 3 blocks away, but that makes way too much sense), and worse.... taco bell drive thru. I will say that this was my first trip to the bell since becoming decidedly grossed out by mystery meat and other certain-to-be-horrible-for-you ingredients. The verdict? I was grossed out. I think it was good for me to have this experience post-enlightenment... right? It kind of took away some of the sentiment tied to the old days where we'd wake up and get crappy food. what were we thinking anyway??
The weekend did turn out to be pretty fun though. This pesky old college roomie who keeps flying in from San Francisco and making me have tons of fun and reminiscing, and bringing me Delicious chocolate mousse pies (i'm not even kidding, what a horrible friend) showed up again this weekend. Between her impromptu visit, two catch-up lunches with friends, an almost house party at my apartment, and more formal birthday party it was quite the weekend. There were a few limo rides (a surprise for the birthday girl and spur of the moment fun for the rest of us that just happened to be around); long overdue peace making, and more use out of my fabulous bootie/shooties. yesssssssssssssss.
after all this i was beyond ready to have something semi-healthy semi-fresh and homemade by the end of the weekend. The contents of my refrigerator seemed lacking and what with the SHORT week I need to make do with what i've got before i head home on Wednesday. Quiche it is.
Quiche cupcakes that is. 3 eggs, 1 cup cheddar cheese (the only kind i had), chopped fresh spinach leaves, sauteed onions, and dice tomatoes. Question, why do all cupcakes I've ever made deflate so unflatteringly? Am I not cooking them long enough? No worries, I zapped it in the microwave to reheat again this morning. deeeeeeeeeeeeee lish :) disclaimer: i realize the picture make these kind of look like feet. You may have to use a little imagination on this blog in place of actual zoomed in and appetizing photography.

I hope everyone had a great weekend!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Lauren meets.... the 'fun' squash

Fun squash, that is exactly what the sticker on the outside of the spaghetti squash claimed. And look how happy the cartoon looks... she's having all kinds of fun. Did I have fun? you betcha. Partly because I was elated to have narrowly escaped yet another car tragedy by getting home from work in once piece before the ice storm really hit. AND listen to how wonderful my bestie is, she SAVED a highly coveted garage parking place for me for when i got home. Isn't she wonderful? Emily, you complete me. I split the squash in 2 and cut out the seeds.
  1. 1) WAY easier than cutting into butternut squash or acorn squash which completely put up a fight. It could be because this squash was kind of old? eh? what do i know.
  2. 2) I felt like i was seeding a pumpkin.. which i haven't done since i was little (or so it seems) but the seeds looked exactly the same and the stringy gooey innards looked similar just more yellowish. ew. innards.
Then I put the two sides down in a baking dish with a bit of water for 45 minutes at 350. Getting the strings out really is as easy and delightfully messy as it looks/seems/sounds. Because I had semi already eaten (baked sweet potato and carrots with laughing cow to watch during the news), this was a perfect 2nd course hour later follow up. I put some fresh grated parm, a little earth balance margarine and a few snips of rosemary. holy rosemary. a little goes a long way.
the verdict? delicious! It was all i could do to resist eating the entire thing... so I would have some to eat for lunch today at the office with my leftover chili (to up my veggie intake for the day). While I was eating I shopped around for new pre-primetime shows to watch with the additional to channels i receive since i upgraded my bunny ears to basic cable. I get the style network and Topanga (yes from boy meets world) was trying to host a show just like the Soup. Joel Mchale she is not, it was not hilarious. Seriously, mildly funny at best (i was ready to gear myself up for some hilarious 30rock and office later in the evening) Maybe I'm just not used to seeing her without hair down to the floor and wearing all kinds of crazy 90s outfits that made me want to wear 10 headbands and stir up pants every day.
..... anyway, this morning I woke up extra early to make a big breakfast. Oats are everything to everyone in the food blog world it seems, so I decided to throw something together a la kath and try a warm and seasonal concoction that would surely blow my mind.. right?
I used a cup of oats made with water and silk, 1 mashed banana, 2 heaping spoonfuls of canned pumpkin, 2 spoonfuls of yogurt and some almond butter. the verdict? not my everything. It was good, and filling and different (and obviously easy.. a requirement for this girl). But I thought it needed more pizzaz.

In other news it seems I did NOT lose the contents of my refrigerator to the power outage! However I did use the opportunity to go through the fridge and throw out any questionable looking items. It is now clean and ready for new and fabulous homemade dishes to be filling its empty shelves.... juuuuust in time for the weekend :)
This weekend is going to be a bit more tame than last, which is good for my liver, wallet and sanity. I have some functions that will serve as a bit of a re-entry into the now boyfriend formerly ex boyfriends life. Also I might get to see my parents saturday for lunch (two weekends in a row! AND..... in just days I will get to pick my brother up from the airport and officially kick this holiday off (whoop whoop)!
Have a fabulous weekend peeps :)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Is it just me or it is it getting dark in here?

... I thought to myself when the power went out last night at 11pm. The bathroom still had light, which means my eyeshadow this morning is even (priorities, friends)... however the other half of my apartment which includes the lights everywhere, the tv, the FRIDGE... and the HEATER were done (the weather outside was frightful... 7 degrees). When I woke up this morning the electricity had returned, however the heater and tv both weren't so much working (needing to be reset??)... it was cold and I was anxious about getting on the roads without the winter weather report from the local news (not that i could change the outcome or my route by watching these events, but you know, who doesn't want to have all the info??).. According to my mom because I only opened the fridge in one panicky moment to check to see if the fridge was off (it totally was, and lots of profanity ensued). That and in the wee hours of the night it shouldn't have spoiled anything as the cold air wasn't escaping, etc. etc. She said I would have to go through item by item to make determinations. I hope I don't have to toss my chili. It was really too good to toss. Do you toss chili? Does that sound dirty? John would probably think so. He's like the Todd.... dirty sounding food five.
Mom's healthified soupy chilli amazingness
  • 1/2 lb ground lean turkey (browned separately and added to soupy mix)
  • 12 ounces tomato juice
  • can black beans
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 1 garlic clove (minced and sauteed with onion)
  • corn, sweet peppers (okay they weren't in the first one but i would totally throw them in had i had them in the pantry for texture and extra veggie count)
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • a few slices of cheddar for garnish and/or melty cheesy delicousness
honestly i was kind of eyeballing all of this. my mom's actual recipe included her just listing these ingredients (ish) and just telling me to do whatever (no order or quantities). Apparently the rule for chili is no rules. What a rebellious soup. I love it.
You know what else I love? A holiday gift I received from one of our vendors today: a thermos!!! Soup city: here I come! AND it kind of looks like a missile/rocketship WOMD... no? It's the most dangerous looking food transporting container I own. Rebellious soup in a badass thermos? I think so.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Snow Snow, Go Away

Yeah, Yeah, It's beautiful. Last weekend was the one year anniversary of totalling my car in an ice storm, so I begrudgingly and cautiously admire how picturesque it makes the parking lot. Snow is beautiful, but deadly.... which sounds like a cheesy action movie starring jackie chan. However this is real life not a TBS weekend marathon we're talking about here and the weather bug is claiming to be 10 degrees right now.. YIKES! Before it became so arctic in the Midwest, it was mild and fabulous in time for the hilarious and wonderful weekend that is now living in infamy in the hearts and cameras of myself and my counterparts. I purchased new shoes (merry Christmas to ME!), I got to see my parents, went to five parties on Friday (saw TONS of old friends, met new neighbors), then another party plus running home for a wardrobe change and out again the next night. All Shoes and Booze, no food... hey... 2 out of 3 ain't bad.. right???? This was our late night excursion Saturday. Let's break this down: here i am with my two lady friends, and the random in the background is my soon-to-be or current ex-boyfriend-on-again-boyfriend. photogenic, no?
This was the tacky sweater I borrowed from Jaclyn and it was out of this world. A barnyard theme. I had a Christmas bow and a bedazzled Christmas bag. Definitely a winner at the party (although there were some seriously impressive 90s attire)

And finally... when all of the pizza, take out china, and other grease-tastic food from the weekend was gone... the healthy detox began. I made John and I my new FAVORITE sandwich ever which i have been eating non-stop the past week.. I thought I'd share.
The grilled cheese to end all grilled cheese:
  • WW bread (local bakery.. heaven)
  • cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • avocado
  • laughing cow light Swiss cheese wedge
  • all natural turkey slices
  • spinach leaves

When grilled its all warm and gooey. Amazing. I had it with some tomato soup. I love tomato soup and it has been a wintery staple for me since the dawn of time. I hadn't had it since I made the conversion to healthier foods last spring. (i.e. i always had it with milk, creme, etc.) I tried the V8 carton that everyone seems to love, and truthfully, it wasn't my everything. I thought the seasoning was extremely strong and the soup itself was really thin. The sandwich on the other hand..... that i could day dream about until lunch.

I hope everyone had a FABULOUS weekend and is out playing in the snow if applicable (appropriately bundled up of course). And someone who is home today tell me what happened on All My Children... since that's what snow days are for, right? soaps? :)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Procrastination, Anticipation, and Gyration

Okay so no body's gyrating, and certainly these hips are firmly planted in my desk swivel chair, but it really spices up the header, don't you think? Like some buttoned-up preacher from footloose should talk about how scandalous and unholy it makes this post. And how Kevin Bacon's gonna have sexy food blog and dancing anyway! Well the other two are true because i have been procrastinating at work all day (*cough* week) and now there's only an hour left a work and I am feeling guilty for delaying said project and still dragging my feet (hence me posting now). However the anticipation is for my lovely college roomie and bff to arrive at my apartment from st louis JUST as I am getting home so we can hit up no less than 4 parties this evening. Yes four. Tomorrow's a big day too. Does this weekend have fun written all over it or what? Speaking of fun, Jaclyn came over last night and I made her the above food (recreated the shot for when i had more after she left, it was still that good!) The pizza was modeled after the veggie pizza served at the flying saucer. Emily made a version of it for me one time too (shout out, oh haaay). I used WW pita rounds, covered with low fat cream cheese. I sprinkled it with diced poblano peppers and put kalamato olives, artichoke hearts, red onion slices, and spinach on top. MAGNIFICO. I put it in the oven for 15 minutes at 350 (although you could totally eat it cold just as deliciously).
Then I made an instant frozen yogurt. I used a recipe from eating well with had frozen peaches, peach schnapps, yogurt, vanilla, and a lot of sugar. super delicious. except now i have an enormous thing of peach schnapps that i'm trying to figure out what i'm going to do with... anyone have any good cocktail recipes for this? note to self: branch out from beer more often than to make frozen yogurt.

And finally for your viewing pleasure is a magnet on my fridge (i heart art, i heart magnets, i heart shoes... be still my heart for a combo of the three of them) There is a super cute saying about shoes on the magnet, but you'll have to use your imagination since I can't read it at the moment nor can I remember what it says. I think it says Lauren: stop being a moron and procrastinating so you can get home and wear fun shoes for the evening.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

It's the hap-happiest season of all....

I am happy to report that I received a clean bill of health yesterday, despite my worries of the black lung, agoraphobia, and restless leg (p.s. my cousin was diasnosed with restless leg, who knew it was real?). Below is the holiday flair coming from my home to yours. This weekend I was gloriously sloth-like and stayed in, attempted to knit, wrapped presents, and was in bed before SNL started. Man, is 25.5 years old the beginning of the end? Friday night was also tame as I stayed in an DOMINATED a few friends in trivial pursuit. What has two thumbs and can answer questions from Benazir Bhutto to My Fair Lady? This Guy.
Last night I made a stuffed acorn squash. I had it with some baked tofu which was sort of a disaster. I will be trying to revive that in some way in the near future, not to worry. My attempt at cutting the squash probably could've been set to carnival music... or been a movie montage where i'm trying to kill the squash with the biggesst knife I own. I had to microwave it for a couple of minutes to even get it soft enough to cut. SHEESH. then i baked it at 350 for 30 minutes to soften up. Then I filled it with brown rice cooked with vegetable broth, and some sauteed garlic. I mixed the cooked rice with some raisins, pumkin seeds, and mixed some of the squash in with it too. Flippin good.
Tonight I'm getting an early Christmas present.... Jacks Mannequin tickets! They are playing just a few blocks from my house... how perfect is that? I'm going to hum JM songs all day in my i'm-healthy-class-is-out-concert-tonight-woohoo euphoria.
TGIW friends :)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Meaning of Life, etc.

Hi friends. Although I am sitting at my desk pondering the meaning of it all (as opposed to, say, with my BFF at the airport on a Gremlin) I am having a philosophical day where I am trying to put into perspective all that is on my mind. For instance today is one of those days that thus far is angst-ridden. My to-do list is ridiculous, and I'm twiddling my fingers and thumbs in anticipation of my doctor's appointment this afternoon where I will a) have to recap the laundry list of health issues that can now be added to my family history and b) try to leave with assurance that nothing is wrong with me (does any one else become a hypochondriac right before a visit?).

There is one thing I thought I would throw out there. I realize the internet is a bathroom wall upon which people write anything and everything imaginable. Though I would love to be many things including a writer, and outstanding cook, an astronaut, cycle 15 America's Next Top Model winner, etc, etc. ... I do not wish to plagiarize or overstep any lines of legality or inpropriety when it comes to internet posting particularly where all things food are concerned.

I had a comment that I didn't give credit to the author of a recipe, which I hope I have corrected in the right way. To my knowledge I've always included a hyperlink or some sort of reference while also not giving a play by play, more a highlight of ingredients. My intention of this blog was not to get a fledgling food career off the ground, particularly under false pretenses. Rather, I am attempting to chronicle my trials and tribulations in the otherwise completely foreign world of healthier cooking and eating --- particularly when trying new vegetables, recipes, and/or products.


Friday, December 5, 2008

It's the Freakin' Weekend

I don't really like R. Kelly (what with him peeing on underage girls and all), but this song is very appropriately stuck in my head on this Friday morning. The last couple of nights I have stayed at home with no long to-do list (or more appropriately, not worrying about an existing long to-do list) No, instead I have been basking in the glow of nothingness as I am now DONE with school for the next month. That's right, finals are over, whoop whoop!! My blissfull school-is-out feeling coupled with the the crazy holiday upcoming holiday schedule.... means my immediate future resembles cleaning, cooking, christmas shopping, and/or spending so much time on my couch that i have to remind myself to quarter-turn every few hours to avoid bedsores. yessssssssssssss. I felt a little creative with my eats for the week. I made a fire roasted corn burger the other day. Not too shabby. For the life of me I can't find the actual recipe link anymore, but I found it on this super creative site. It uses the potato as a binder and has lime, cornmeal, kidney beans, fire roasted corn, and some spices. Grilling would've been ideal, but baking was delicous also. I had it with a WW bun, romaine, tomato..and.. be still my beating heart........... avocado. It was good, better than it looks at least (i realize the color is a bit unappetizing).
Also I've recently discovered that I'm obsessed with dates. On my last grocery trip I was looking for raisins for the recipe below, when I stumbled across a bag of dates from Dole. Because I love apricots, prunes, and apparently being an old person, I am no stranger to the dried fruit aisle in the grocery store. However seeing dates there made my heart skip a beat. The entire package is now gone and the next grocery shopping excursion cannot come fast enough! Anyway I made a salad based on the recipe on the back. It had pears, balsalmic vinagrette dressing, walnuts and romaine. There it is, in all it's date-like glory in front of my christmas tree. Also, fun fact, dates are from palm trees and are of middle east origin. Question: do I love food or wikipedia more? answer: looking up food on wikipedia.

Also I made a tuna salad recipe from whole foods online cookbook. It had raisins, carrots, almonds and cottage cheese. Here and I thought I could never love anything without mayo. It was a christmas miracle.
Have a fabulous weekend peeps.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Oh Greek Yogurt... how I love thee.. let me count the ways..

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height, my soul can reach when feeling out of sight....

A little strong for yogurt? That's a little bold for you to insinuate considering you haven't tried it (okay I'm assuming that part). I'm guessing Elizabeth Barret Browning, the author of that sonnet, didn't have access to Greek Yogurt... not because she lived in England in 1800, before whole foods, and that this yogurt is of middle eastern origin... but because she never wrote sweet sweet poetry about this stuff. Oh that's right... it's that good.

Truthfully one of the reasons I enjoy this food (like most foods) is for the texture. It sort of reminds me of thick sour cream.... something i semi gave up when i decided not to inch my way to cardiac arrest, one taco at a time. But anyway, a treat was much needed after I decided to only pick at the lunch I received via work, which sounded amazing on the menu and came back as a big pile of unappetizing disappointment.Normally I get the plain kind (I say normal, but it's more like special occasion since this is about 7 times the price of dannon) but honey looked interesting. I forgot that it already had the sweetener when I picked up this organic Vegan cookie. I'll admit, I was skeptical of a cookie with no eggs or dairy (and of course trans fats, etc.) but SHA ZAM it was good. It was cranberry orange Muffin-top style (and no, not that kind) and it was amazing. Although, admittedly, the honey with the cookie kind of was sweet tooth overboard.
overboard = okay with my taste buds = not okay with the dentist. good anyway.
The other night I made my favorite Vegan Dish. I almost always halve ingredients because there is just one of me and eating the same leftovers for a week usually bores my taste buds to tears. yes tears. However this is probably the third time I've made this in the last few months and have enjoyed every Delicious full recipe helping. ummm ummm ummm.
Quinoa Vegetable Paella (<-- linked up to the fat free vegan, a long time favorite of mine)
  • onion
  • garlic
  • quinoa
  • (the recipe calls for saffron, which according to wikipedia and my mother is the worlds most expensive spice. needless to say this was not included in my version)
  • paprika
  • cumin
  • cayenne
  • can diced tomatoes
  • bell pepper
  • can kidney beans
  • vegetable broth
  • zucchini
Seriously good. Plus it's a complete protien. Quinoa, pronounced keen-wa (although i wouldn't know because i've actually never heard another person say it aloud) is like the superfood stuff of champions. Think of every possible healthy thing that could be included in something (essential amino acids, calcium, iron, fiber, etc.) and it's got them all. plus it cooks faster than rice and is still a whole grain. Are you dazzled yet? Make it for yourself, it's good stuff.
In other news, I have a monster quiz tonight for which I feel woefully unprepared. I hate feeling unprepared, and woeful.
Off to work for the afternoon and sneak in some studying.... and of course emailing emily about how we're going to set aside time to practice Aud Lang Syne for this Year's New Year's Eve, so we can dazzle loved ones, friends, strangers, and those that can get us in front of hasselhoff for a little America's Got Talent. See how busy I am?
*previously this post included just a hyperlink to the real recipe page, and now includes a hyperlink AND the name of blog of origin. I suppose i don't know the actual proper etiquette, considering that i am a bit of a blog amateur... so if anyone has any pointers on what is proper i would be happy to get the info.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Things for which I am grateful:

  • My family: how weird is it that I’d rather spend time with them than anyone else in the world? Apparently to a coworker of mine, and many many holiday movies based on the premise of escaping such situations, it is very weird.

  • My family dos: my extended family could wrap around the globe twice if you lined us up (what with my mom having 10 siblings and all…hi aunts!). Somehow the completely chaotic atmosphere of our infrequent gatherings has a buzz of laughter and is so much fun to be around. Not to mention on this thanksgiving we sat around playing games and telling jokes until my cheeks hurt I was laughing so hard. Always worth the excessive car time to get there and then some.

  • Friends: how I ever got so many people to laugh at my jokes and agree to hang out with me is just beyond me. They are fabulous and hilarious in their own right, and are so good to me.

  • My education. I hate school right now (p.s. at this very moment I am procrastinating studying for the presentation I will give tonight, woof), but am grateful for higher education and eager for the future. Minus the part about repaying loans.

  • O-BA-MA. Sorry, it’s obnoxious, I know.

  • Good Health. Though not everyone I care about has been able to dodge illness, in the past year there have been more recoveries and remissions than not, and for that I am eternally grateful.

  • Food. I feel I have only recently discovered the world outside Little Debbie and other individually packaged things more or less resembling kid food. It’s a good world, where things like pomegranates and acorn squash have entered into my vocabulary and pantry. Not just healthy food though, indulging in the butter/sour-cream/French-onion russet mashed potatoes, and going back for thirds is amazing and completely worth it.

  • Indoor Plumbing. It seems so simple, but we watched a few episodes this weekend of ‘John Adams’ the HBO miniseries which reminds you how all of the comforts of civilized and modern life make things infinitely easier and more sanitary.

  • Gainful employment. Everyone’s jobs has their pros and cons. A big ‘pro’ these days is having a paycheck at all. Yikes.

  • Sunday Fundays exploring the city and laughing all day (like yesterday at the art gallery).

  • The feeling of thawing out when jumping into a heated car, or taking a hot shower after standing in the rain/snow for four hours watching Mizzou lose to the overly obnoxious KU.

  • Being mere WEEKS away from the next Holiday when I will be one semester closer to graduation, and will get to have all of this friend, food, and family time all over again.

p.s. more chronicles of my food adventures coming tomorrow, I promise :)

Monday, November 24, 2008

It's not your beauty, it's your bootie

What a fabulous weekend in the STL! :) I got to spend some QT with some of the most wonderful people I know, all of whom I see very little of these days.... making weekends like this the highlight of my life.

I also got my first christmas present. I wouldn't call myself scrooge-like (except maybe when Susan Lucci did that scrooge movie, she was pretty fabulous)... but I am pretty anti-christmas (decorations, music, etc.) for all things pre-thanksgiving. However the gift of shoes can put anyone in a joyous and festive spirit, no? Behold the reason for the season '08 : my new booties. *dreamy sigh*

But back to the party, we were so prepared for the evening (fully charged camera and all) and I walked away with just a handful of pictures, and zero group shots. dang it. However I did manage to snag one with two of my besties.
In other news for dinner the other night (..with traveling and drinking there are massive amounts of food on the go, and going out to eat delicious and unhealthy things) I decided to make something Vegan. This yummy zucchini did not disappoint.

Zucchini Boats: (from vegesphere)
  • zucchini
  • gala apple
  • onion
  • toasted bread
  • seasoning
  • pinch sea salt
  • pinch pepper
  • chopped walnuts

deeeeeeeeeeeeee-- lish

Happy Thanksgiving week peeps! I cannot wait to spend tons of time with the family and completely over-do it on mashed potatoes :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Show-stopping and spaghetti casserole

Okay so technically no show was getting stopped... but in honor of our Broadway evening that seemed a little classier of a title to use... while still keeping it real. Mom, sister and I made an impromptu appearance at the last weekend of the traveling Lion King show while it was in town... it was pure fabulousness. I freaking love musicals.. particularly ones where i can and do occasionally sing the entire musical score from the comfort of my own shower (a whole new world anyone?)
In other recent events, the other day I happened upon a dessert that literally knocked my socks off. First of all... I am weak. Pomegranite seeds are too delicious to not be fully taken advantage of when in season, despite their price tag for a singular piece of fruit. Below is a mixture of NF plain yogurt, pure maple syrup, dark chocolate chips and pom seeds. Trust me, once you have this you will never want your unnecessary sugar intake any other way. socks... knocked.. off.It is cold, I have been fretting about all kinds of things (school, loans, work, global warming, how badly i need to exfoliate in the winter, will denim jackets ever come back in style? etc.) and nothing can replace the joy derived from comfort food. An old standby in our house growing up was spaghetti casserole. I realize many families have a variation, after all it is just baked spaghetti with cream cheese. For the self induced health food guilt I often have when I go to all the trouble of actually cooking something, I attempted to healthify it a bit-- although I didn't quite go all the way. For instance instead of using the enriched white flour varity, I opted for whole wheat organic spaghetti noodles. I used all natural sauce and lean ground turkey burger instead of beef. However... I could've gone all of the way and used soy crumbles and fake cream cheese. The particular grocery store I was at wasn't very health-food friendly and an entirely separate shopping excursion would've removed some of the comfort aspect of the dish. I give this meal a solid B, for better than it used to be, but barely improved.

Spaghetti Casserole:
  • one container cream cheese (it was reduced fat, does that count?)
  • one container spaghetti sauce
  • 3/4 package spaghetti noodles
  • 1/2 lb lean turkey meat
  • 1/2 cup love (secret ingredient)

cook spaghetti until al dente, drain and mix in 1/2 the bottle of sauce. Brown the turkey meat, drain, and then add 1/4 bottle of sauce. Spread noodle mix into baking pan. Soften cream cheese and spread onto noodle mixture. Top with turkey/spaghetti mix and pour the remaining sauce over the top. My mom usually sprinkles parm on the top before baking, 375 degrees for 35 minutes. Easy peasy and total comfort deliciousness.

sooooo delicious.. doesn't cheese just make everything better? *sigh*

another comfort food basic that i vamped up a bit the other day was the 'ole PB & J. I used almond butter and some all natural berry jelly. The kicker was the pom seeds though. I sprinked them on and each bite had a burst of juicy seeds and tangy juice (that's right.. tangy). Completely amazing.

In other news there isn't a lot going on in my kitchen. This week I've had a smorgasboard of free meals. Between Sunday funday at a local brewery, being treated to lunch by a vendor I use at work, and hosting all sorts of catered meals for work events this week I am having an excess of food.
*warning political rant coming in 5......4......3.....2.....
soo.... my brother who works in DC walked past Hillary Clinton yesterday in a hallway and I am still ridiculously jealous. I fully realize that she is a polarizing figure for a lot of people (and to a certain extent... to each his own), but to me she nothing short of a brillant and competant female who is fully deserving of the respect and admiration I have for her. Last year on SNL's weekend update Tina Fey put it best: 'a lot of people think Hillary is a bitch..... and she is. but guess what? So am I, and so is she (ponts to amy phoeler) ...but guess what? Bitches get shit done.
Amen sister.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

like getting punched in the face with a lemon

So.. my BFF's Boss and small company are moving into my building. This is MUCHO exciting because it means I can see this BFF all of the time, and because her boss and his wife are fun. Because nothing says 'welcome to the hood' like baked goods, i resolved to bake something spectacular, despite the fact that baking is more like chemistry, where I have historically received a 'C'. The results below probably deserve that grade too. Fail cat. I decided to make lemon and orange crisps-- supposedly like sugar cookies but healthier and full of flavor. Boy were they full of flavor. The pucker I had after tasting a few morsels of these babies nearly sucked my entire face in. Quite tart.. quite. I feel like the problem is in the zesting. I know a little goes a long way but I use this grater where, like, 1/2 of the zest gets stuck in the grates and so i think: self, you should just grate a whole other lemon just in case this isn't enough. self: it was enough.

Lemon and Orange Crisps (SELF mag, 06, epicurious hyperlink above)
  • flour
  • baking powder
  • baking soda
  • salt
  • lemon
  • orange
  • butter
  • sugar
  • egg
  • vanilla extract

I also made another stab and the infamous black bean brownies that had terrorized my kitchen on round 1. A few cooking lessons I learned with this one: follow the recipe in the order in which is it listed (it sounds so obvious, and yet i'm cracking eggs here, and whisking there, and can get so mixed up... it can happen to anyone, right?) two: no eyeballing ingredient amounts.. period. three: when a gooeyish brownie batch comes directly from the oven, don't cover it immediately and set it in the fridge overnight to cool... because when you unover it in the morning it is a pile of overly moist mushiness.

Behold the mushiness below (use your imagination as my photography skills cannot adequately capture the chocolate/bean gurgling quicksand substance you could see upon further inspection):

Black Bean Brownies: (Heidi Swanson)
  • black beans
  • unsweetened chocolate
  • unsalted butter
  • chopped walnuts
  • honey
  • vanilla extract
  • instant coffee
  • eggs
  • sea salt

Yes, I hear you. Black bean brownies? Woof. Except that the review had one million people who said this was a baking genius and that they'd been fooling loved ones and taste testers with this hidden ingredient for ages. Apparently the bean flavor doesn't come through and only lends texture and nutrition, supposedly making it more fudge-like... how could that be bad? The result? meh. I blame myself and my self induced accidental mushiness. I feel an accomplished chef could really put one over on someone. My accomplishments do not as of yet, nor does the future look so bright as to include.. baking.

The question then becomes, to serve or not to serve? I wanted to provide from scratch baked goods. However..... the cookies tasted like drinking straight lemon juice and the fall apart not so secret bean brownies were, well, a hot mess. Deciding that it was the thought that counts I gave them away anyway... but made sure to hand them off with a few disclaimers. If the thought really does count I hope they don't take one sniff and decide the gesture is grossness. For dinner last night though I ignored the still over stuffed contents of the refrigerator and whipped up a little something something. Stuffed Portabella.... Yummmmmm :)
Random Stuffed Portabella:
  • 1 portabella
  • 1/2 cup diced carrot
  • 1/2 cup diced green pepper
  • 1/2 cup diced cherry tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp diced onion
  • 2 Tbsp ricotta (oh haaaaaaaaaaay)
  • 1 Tbsp bread crumbs
  • 1 dallop butter

Delicious, I would've made five more had I the shrooms. Unfortunately when I had finished this and was still hungry I went straight for the wings. Oh snap.