Friday, December 30, 2011

Potato, Potatoh

The final appetizer at the grad student Christmas partay was Twice-Baked Potatoes. For the first time in my life, I made baked potatoes in the oven instead of the microwave. While I can't say that I'll be heating up the oven whenever I want a baked potato, I did like the fact that the potato skins were nice and crunchy. Apparently oven baking preserves more nutrients than microwaving. Whouda thunk...

Twice-Baked Potatoes
4 large unpeeled potatoes
1/4 to 1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. butter or margarine, softened
1/4 tsp. salt
Dash of pepper
1 c. shredded Cheddar cheese (4 oz.)
1 T. chopped fresh chives (didn't add these)

Heat oven to 375*F. Gently scrub potatoes, but do not peel. (Cut out any icky spots though.) Pierce potatoes several times with a fork to allow steam to escape while they bake.

Bake 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender when pierced in center with a fork. (I just stuck them in for the full 75 minutes.)

When potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut lengthwise in half; scoop out inside, leaving a thin shell. In medium bowl, mash potatoes with potato masher or electric mixer (or the Big Bertha of your kitchen, Ms. KitchenAid) on low speed until no lumps remain. Add milk in small amounts, beating after each addition, until potatoes are smooth and fluffy.

Add butter, salt, and pepper; beat vigorously until potatoes are light and fluffy. Stir in cheese and chives. Fill potato shells with mashed potato mixture. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.

Increase oven temperature to 400*F. Bake about 20 minutes, or until hot.

(You can fill them, then freeze or refrigerate. Refrigerated taters bake for 30 minutes, frozen for about 40.)

Monday, December 26, 2011

I can do classy!

I threw a kind of adultish Christmas party the weekend before Christmas. I say 'kind of adultish' because we watched 'Frosty the Snowman' and 'Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer', but we had classy appetizers for food gosh darn it! This was a recipe I really really really wanted to try. It's definitely going into my party food rotation. Or just my quick and easy dinners rotation. Yum!

Crostini
(oh Betty, I'd be so lost and hungry without you)
12 slices Italian bread, 1/2" thick (I picked up a 'manager's special' loaf at WallyWorld...it worked great!)
1/4 c. olive or vegetable oil (I used extra-virgin olive oil, hereafter referred to at EVOO)
1 large tomato chopped (1 c.)
3 T. chopped fresh basil leaves (I used spinach leaves instead, like the bagged salad kind)
1 T. large capers or chopped ripe olives (tiny can o' chopped ripe olives)
1/2 tsp. salt, pepper
12 slices (1 oz. each) mozzarella cheese

Heat oven to 375*F.

On ungreased cookie sheet, place bread slices. Drizzle 1 tsp. EVOO over each bread slice.

In small bowl, combine tomato, basil (if you're using spinach, don't add it now!), capers/olives, salt, and pepper. Spread half the tomato mixture over bread slices (put the spinach down first, then put the tomato mixture over it if you're doing things that way); top each with cheese slice. Spread remaining tomato mixture over cheese.

Bake about 8-10 minutes, or until bread is hot and cheese is melted. Serve hot.
'Crostini' is Italian for "little toasts."

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas from Sharona and Manwich!

(I promise that this is his happy face)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I am my mother's daughter

So. One year for New Year's, my mom decided to make a cheese ball. My mother usually doesn't try crazy stuff like this (if you have time and know my family well, ask me about The Onion Tart Disaster) BUT cheese balls apparently fell into safe territory.

So. This cheese ball. It was like a new baby or something. My mom was SO PROUD of it! I'm figuring, hey, it's a ball. Of cheese. Not that hard. Right? Meh, yeah, mostly. I made one for my Christmas party this year. Aside from almost burning out the motor on my hand mixer (KitchenAid stand mixer to the rescue!) and having terrible reading-ahead skills (which lead to 'not enough time...can I freeze this?' lines of thought), it wasn't bad. And it was tasty. Double win!

Cheese Ball
(thanks Betty Crocker!)
2 8 oz. packages cream cheese
3/4 c. (4 oz.) crumbled blue cheese
1 c. shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (4 oz.)
1 small onion, finely chopped (I didn't add this)
1 T. Worcestershire sauce (I forgot to add this)
1/2 c. chopped fresh parsley (I didn't add this either...)
Assorted crackers, if desired (uh, why wouldn't you have crackers Betty? I bet you sit in dark corners, eating blocks of cheese, don't you....)

Place cheese in medium bowl; let stand at room temperature about 30 minutes or until softened.

Beat onion and W. sauce into cheese with electric mixer on low speed until mixed. Beat on medium speed 1 to 2 minutes, scraping bowl frequently, until fluffy. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours until firm enough to shape into a ball. (You can let it chill for 4-5 hours and still be ok. I know this. Trust me.)

Shape cheese mixture into a large ball. Roll in parsley; place on serving plate. Cover and refrigerate about 2 hours, or until firm. (So 1 hour. Half of 2. Close enough...) Serve with crackers (which apparently aren't so optional any more.)

I had lots of compliments! And it looked so pretty.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The best way to spread Christmas cheer....

...is baking cookies for friends so dear!

Anyone who's known me for at least one holiday season (doesn't matter if it's Christmas, Halloween, Easter, etc.) knows that I have this thing for baking cutout sugar cookies. Since my final this year (don't ask me about it or imma hurt you) was on Thursday, I had tons of time to procrastinate studying. How did I procrastinate, you ask? By BAKING!

The weekend before my final, I decided that gingerfolk sounded fun. To make it even better, I got to mix dough with my hands, try out a new frosting/icing recipe, AND eat too many tasty, tasty soulless cookies :)

Gingerbread Cookies
(from the Betty Crocker Cookbook, since I don't own her Cooky Book)
1 c. packed brown sugar (go dark instead of light for extra flavor!)
1/3 c. shortening
1 1/2 c. dark molasses
2/3 c. cold water
7 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt

In large bowl, beat brown sugar, shortening, molasses, and water with electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with spoon. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours. (So a word of warning about this step: at some point, there will be so much flour in your very stiff dough that you will break your wooden mixing spoon. At least, I broke my wooden mixing spoon. I recommend rolling up your sleeves and mixing with your hands once the dough isn't quite so sticky. And definitely don't add all your flour at once. I mean, if you hate life, do it, but I recommend you don't.)
Your dough will kind of resemble squishy graham cracker crumbs. It's ok...it will smush together nicely when you go to roll it out.
Heave oven to 350*F. Grease cookie sheet lightly with shortening or spray with cooking spray.
Roll dough 1/4 inch thick on floured surface. Cut with gingerbread boy and girl cookie cutters. On cookie sheet, place cutouts about 2 inches apart. (Santa will know if you use inappropriate cookie cutters on your gingerbread. Just saying....)

Bake 10-12 minutes, or until no indentation remains when touched. Immediately remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes. Decorate if desired...and of course, you DO desire to decorate! So....see the next recipe, after the break :)
Chilling out on the wire rack.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Oh finals week...

Dear Santa,

I really want tickets to the Coldplay tour this summer. I'd also like an A in ME 581, but I know you're not a miracle worker, so I'll just stick with the tickets.

Love,
Me

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Crunch time!

Since it's Dead Week here at Purdue, I give you this.

This morning, I spent the better part of 4 hours in my pajamas working on Math area exam review problems.

Purdue's Graduate Student Government is hosting a grad student lock in this Thursday. They're offering an hour of yoga at some point. There's probably free food and coffee involved as well. I won't be attending. Why, you ask? Why would you skip free food and yoga?!?!

Because, knowing grad students, only a few people would actually get anything accomplished. The rest of us would just sit around and complain about classes/research/professors and try to one-up each other with 'my life/advisor/research sucks more!' stories.

One day, when I get hooded and have a fancy title in front of my name and watch undergrads think through whether they should call me 'doctor' or 'professor', it will all be worth it :)

To end things on a positive note, I give you a Cat Covered in Stuff:

Sunday, December 4, 2011

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree....

...Manwich loves to chew on thee.

The first year I put up the tree, he didn't touch it. Last year, I found out that my cat has a thing for (in addition to cardboard) chewing on fake plastic pine needles. Neither myself nor the tree (pictured right left) were impressed with this knowledge. This year, in a feeble attempt to keep King Kong Kitty out of the tree, I didn't put in the bottom row of branches. (You can see a row of empty holes drilled into the wood.) He still messed with the tree.

I headed back to Limaland this weekend for the ONU Holiday Spectacular. I was worried for the safety of the tree and Mannie's digestive tract. Solution? The vacuum. Manwich is terrified of it, plugged in and working or not. So I put the vacuum on guard duty. I'm proud to announce that this seems to *mostly* work :)

Completely unrelated to Christmas, I found this recipe archived in my written-but-not-yet-published blog post folder. I promise that you'll have a more seasonal recipe up soon. Unless Mannie decides to eat the tree. Then we'll be having roast cat...

Tortellini and Cheese

1 9oz. pkg. cheese-filled tortellini
1 c. frozen peas, corn, or pea pods
1 8oz. tub cream cheese spread with garden vegetables or chives and onions
1/2 c. milk
1 9oz. pkg. chopped cooked chicken breast (or just DIY)


In a large saucepan, cook tortellini according to package directions. Place frozen veggies in colander. Drain hot pasta over veggies to thaw. Return veggies/pasta to saucepan.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine cream cheese and milk. Heat and stir the mixture until everything is completely melted and smooth. Heat the chicken according to package directions.

Stir the cheese sauce into the cooked pasta/veggies. Cook and gently stir until heated through. Spoon into serving bowls and top with chicken.

Edit: Apparently I'm still learning my left and right. Thanks seester dearest for pointing this out. I hope whatever you spat water on is still working. Maybe it was your CHEERFUL AND PERKY PLANT.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Oh, the weather outside is frightful...

While I was home for Thanksgiving (yay! home!), I actually watched the news. Unfortunately, the weatherman kept predicting rain for 72 hours or something equally ridiculous. Since we have apparently turned into a wimpy species and freak the heck out about seasonal weather (i.e., snow in winter), I chalked up '72 hours of rain' as an exaggerated weather forecast.

Here we are, on Tuesday in Indiana, and I don't think it's really stopped raining since Saturday in Ohio. What.

Now they're predicting 1-3" of snow for WL overnight. Of course we're under a winter weather advisory because, ya know, snow just does not happen. It's actually God's dandruff. Or excess sno cone shavings. Either way, I don't know if I should throw together a makeshift boat or run to the store and stock up on bread and milk for the impending snowy doom. Maybe I'll just hang out with Manwich and make this soup instead:

Ham and Bean Soup

1 lb. dry navy beans
1 lb. meaty ham bones or pieces
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 medium onion, chopped


Soak beans in a large pan at least overnight (I usually go closer to 24 hours). Drain, and put in crockpot. Add everything else. Fill crockpot to within 1" of rim with water. (Don't overfill or you'll have a huge mess later. I promise.)

Cover and cook on low for 10-12 hours (or high for 5-6). Remove bones before serving.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The trick is growing up without growing old

Thanks for the words of wisdom Casey Stengel :)

Every once in a while, I do something that I never would have done in undergrad. Then I sit back (usually within minutes of doing said task) and think, hot damn, I'm an adult! And the I proceed to fidget about in my head (because out loud would get me some weird looks) and freak out a tiny little bit because, hey, I'm only 20-something. And I don't really think of myself as an adult yet. Most of the time. Kinda. Sorta. Maybe?

Why do I mention this? Because I did something terribly adult last week: I started an IRA. Like, saving for retirement sort of stuff. I am 24. I probably won't retire until I'm 70. What.

In case you live under a well-insulated and very isolated rock, the economy kinda sucks (everywhere) right now. AND I'm still in (grad) school. That means I don't have a 'real' job and when I do graduate, I'll probably be 'overqualifed' for tons of stuff anyway. So in the very likely event that Social Security lasts even slightly longer than Stephanie Pratt's hemline, I should be a good Girl Scout and plan ahead.

Unfortunately, since the Magic Money Fairy doesn't love me, I have to put my own money into said account. This means I have to (wait for it)....budget. Not just, oh, I have $X a month to spend on stuff, but oh, I need to spend way less than $X a month. Enter the wonderful world of Adulting. Between this and the link I found (via Adulting, of course) to And Then She Saved..., I'm feeling almost legitimately adult-esque. To counteract this rash of adult, I'll post a picture about pee:


I should mention that water is included in my rent.


I should also mention that I shave my legs more often than the poor person in this picture.

Monday, October 24, 2011

So this one time...

My first trip abroad was quite spectacular. Last summer, I got my passport with the hopes of being able to use it at least once (and not in Canada) before it expired. This past Labor Day week(end), I got my wish in the form of a conference trip to Portugal. Sure, I had to write a paper and put together a 20 minute presentation, but for an all-expenses-paid trip to Estoril, Portugal, that was such a small price to pay :) Needless to say, I had a blast! The food was awesome. The trans-Atlantic plane flight, not so much. The impromptu 4 hour layover in the Newark airport, definitely not at all. But the fact that I got to go hang out on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean and tour a castle older than America....oh sigh. I've been bitten by the travel bug and I'm already saving up for my next adventure abroad :)

I really liked the street signs in Estoril...everything was in this really pretty blue and white tile (including a whole entire room of one of the castles) and I think European license plates are really cool too. Since J is an enginerd too, we had fun trying to figure out all of the European car brands. There were some pretty crazy logos and I found myself getting really excited whenever I saw a Honda (which was relatively often, all things considered...they like Civics too!).



The hotel we stayed at was absolutely amazing! I was spoiled rotten, much like
the summer I stayed at the Hilton - Downtown Nashville for the JPC conference, and then was jolted back to reality when I stayed at a super-sketch Motel 6 for Mindy's wedding the following weekend. So this was the view from our hotel (bathroom) window. No, your eyes aren't playing tricks: those are palm trees. It was sunny and 70 the entire time we were there :)


The trip from hotel to airport was always interesting. When we arrived in Lisbon, we had to catch a bus to the train station to get to Estoril. Us and like 100 other people. The bus was quite the experience. I thought Purdue students could pack a CityBus like no one's business...they have a thing or two to learn from the Europeans. The return trip to the airport involved a taxi ride in a really nice Mercedes. It was early and I was tired, but I was awake enough to notice that we were going ~140 km/hr on the highway. Now I really want to drive on the Autobahn :D


The super short version of my trip: yay for international conferences! I am so lucky to have opportunities like this and I definitely would be the dumbest person alive to not take advantage of them :)
View from one of the castles (the Cinderella-esque one)


Thursday, October 20, 2011

If grad school doesn't work out...

...there's always Plan C!

Last night, I returned to the bustling metropolis of Ada, Ohio to recruit poor impressionable undergrads to come to Purdue and keeping learning stuff when they graduate! Last night I was told (and not for the first time either) that I should consider a career in admissions. I'll admit, this option sounds much less hazardous than trying to start my own bakery, working for the government (as a real engineer! gasp!), or having a bunch of tiny humans so I can be a stay-at-home mom.

Besides, OSU was giving away little bears with block-O sweaters. If I worked in admissions, I'd have a lifetime supply of free pens, cup holder coasters, and sweater-wearing bears. Fortran has nothing on animals in clothes....

P.S. -- I promise I haven't forgotten...Portugal post coming soon!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Fantasy pie indeed...

Oh, this pie...so good :) Even better with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Berry-Apple Fantasy Pie


Pastry for double-crust pie (found here)
1 c. sugar
4 tsp. quick-cooking tapioca (found by the instant pudding at the store)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 c. blackberries (fresh or frozen, doesn't matter)
2 c. sliced, peeled apples


Prepare pastry. Put half in your pie plate now and leave the other half in a ball to roll out for your top crust later.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the sugar, tapioca, and cinnamon. Add the blackberries and apple slices. Toss gently till coated. Let stand 15 minutes.

Spoon filling into pastry-lined pan. (Dot with butter if you want to...) Put the top crust of the pie on and do your edges however you want. Cover edge of crust with foil to prevent overbrowning. You can even get fancy and cut out stars or whatever to stick on top of the crust to make it look prettier :)

Bake at 375* for 25 minutes, then remove the foil. Bake for 20-25 minutes more, or till the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubble. Cool on a wire rack.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Yet another reason why this is no longer a food-only blog...

Today was low on motivation/productivity and high on frustration and sore butts. My run this morning wasn't spectacular by any means, and the most interesting thing about this evening's secondary run was the number of kamikaze bugs I inhaled/ingested. Yum.

Since the bugs didn't fill me up, I had to make dinner when I got done. Pizza (I ran past a Domino's and an Applebee's on this loop) smelled divine. I didn't have a frozen pizza, nor did I want to ~*spend money*~, so I did what any self-respecting grad student having a bad day would do: made mac n cheese for dinner. I've been on a s'mores kick as of late but have sadly depleted my chocolate supply, so I'm baking chocolate brownies (with mini marshmallow) as I type. I feel like my diet has reverted to that of a toddler, but at least I made my food. And I'm eating a salad. See mom, you did raise me right!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Oh! The places you'll go...

I just got back (at 1am last night) from my first trip abroad. One of the perks of being a grad student is the opportunity to travel to conferences in really amazing places. All you have to do is work your ass off to write a paper and make a presentation and submit the whole mess, then sweat through your suit as you make said presentation in front of a bunch of old men. If you're lucky, your presentation will be so confusing that either a.) no one asks questions or b.) everyone asks easily answerable questions. If things go badly, well, hopefully your advisor is there and/or you can pray for a conveniently placed sinkhole.

So this trip was to Estoril, Portugal. For someone who can list exotic places like Yuma, AZ and Niagara Falls on her list of 'almost a foreign country' places, a trans-Atlantic flight is about the biggest thing ever. I was woefully unprepared in terms of cold hard cash, but I survived. I didn't have to resort to begging or prostitution and I even managed to pick up some stuff for my friends and family back home. (Side note: I must spend at least 6 months in Europe at some point, or just a country that sells KinderJoy/Kinder Eggs. Mine came with the 'Pop' Happy Hippo character. I am in love.)

I'll be updating with highlights of my trip and some good pictures. I miss the sunshine and weather of Estoril/greater Lisbon already, but I'm planning on downgrading/canceling my cable and starting a travel fund. I have been bitten by the travel bug and couldn't be happier about it :)




Saturday, July 23, 2011

FIESTA TIME!

Now that the thesis is done (~*happy dance*~), I have time to cook (and blog about it)...this is a really amazing recipe. I'm addicted to the tortilla strips :)

Fiesta Chicken Breasts (with Tomato-Avocado Salsa!)

Salsa:
2 med. tomatoes (1 1/2 c.) seeded and chopped
1 med. avocado (1 c.) pitted, peeled, and chopped
4 med. green onions (1/4 c.) sliced
1-2 T. lime juice
1 1/2 tsp. finely chopped jalapeno chilies
1/4 tsp. salt


OR

1 c. chunky salsa and the avocado from the salsa recipe

Chicken:

4 bone-in chicken breasts (~2 lbs.)
1/4 c. lime juice
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cumin


Tortilla Strips:
2 T. vegetable oil
4 8" flour tortillas, cut in half, then cut into 1/2" strips


In a medium glass or plastic bowl, mix all salsa ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Place chicken in shallow plastic or glass (don't use metal!) dish. In a small bowl, mix lime juice, oil, cumin, and salt; pour over chicken. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.

Heat oven to 375*. Spray 9" square pan with cooking spray (I used a 9"x 13" pan instead). Place chicken skins side up in pan. Pour marinade over chicken. Cover and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 20-30 minutes longer.

In 10" skillet, heat oil over medium high heat until hot. Cook tortilla strips in oil 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until crisp and golden brown. (I used ~2T. of oil for each batch. Spread the tortilla strips out on paper towels after you cook them to blot up the excess oil.) Serve chicken topped with salsa over the tortilla strips.

Monday, June 20, 2011

A wee bit of a change

Hey faithful readers (all three of you?), sorry for the lack of updates. I'm in the final stretch of delivering my thesis baby (due date is July 13 at 10am) and I'm suffering from a severe lack of motivation coupled with a strong desire to roadtrip. Things are not looking good for the baby :(

Anyhoo, this has also (unfortunately) led to a pathetic update schedule for da blog. I'm sorry for anyone relying on me for awesomesauce recipes and stuff like that. One thing I have managed to find time for is tumblr stalking. I'm a huge fan of the super motivational tumblrs and the ones dedicated to pizza :) So y'all can look for fun stuff from these reposted on da blog here. I figure that people in Botswana, newlyweds (if you can count the # of years you've been married on your own digits, toes included, you're still a newlywed), and fellow grad students all need a little help in the motivation department (and food too).

To summarize (I hate presentations ending with this!):
1. I'm not dead!
2. The thesis is almost done!
3. I love pizza :)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Bow tie pasta is adorable, no?

Good Midwestern comfort food at its finest...

Hamburger Stroganoff


1 1/2 lbs. ground beef, browned
1 10 oz. can cream of mushroom soup
1 2 oz. can sliced mushrooms
1 c. milk + 1/2 pkg. "simmer sauce", beef home style + 1/4 pkg. instant chopped onions
OR 1 pkg. beef stroganoff sauce mix
8 oz. sour cream (or plain yogurt)
12 oz. bow tie pasta (or fettuccine)


Combine everything except sour cream and pasta. Bring to a boil and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add sour cream and heat through. Serve over pasta.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Justin Beiber says 'um' a lot....

I was watching the Billboard Music Awards until JB won the Fan Choice award or something? He kept saying 'um' and then Rhianna made fun of his legions of screaming fans when he presented her award. I was done at that point....now I'll miss the BritBrit/NickiM performance. Pity, that.

These pizzas are way classier than anything I watched on TV tonight :)

Middle Eastern Pita Pizzas

4 6" pita breads
1/2 c. roasted garlic (or other flavor) hummus
1 c. (4 oz.) crumbled feta cheese
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 c. thinly sliced fresh spinach
1 large tomato, seeded and chopped
1/4 c. sliced ripe or Kalamata olives (I hate olives...these guys never make an appearance)


Heat oven to 400*.

Place pita breads on an ungreased cookie sheet or in a baking pan. Spread hummus on pita breads, then sprinkle with feta cheese.

Bake 8-10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Top each pizza with onion, spinach, tomato and olives. You can also add cooked chicken to these!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Catch up time...

It's finals week, so that means I have some free time. I really haven't been studying like I should, but I have no motivation whatsoever and have been baking my way out of a rough patch. That said, I think it's appropriate to share my family's favorite baked goodies :)

Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

(Makes about 2 1/2 dozen bars)
1 c. creamy or chunky peanut butter
6 T. butter or margarine, softened
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs
1 c. flour
2 c. (11 1/2 oz. package) milk chocolate morsels, divided
1 c. colored sugar or small colored candies or sprinkles (optional)


Beat peanut butter, butter, brown sugar, regular sugar, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl until creamy. Beat in eggs. Beat in flour. Stir in 3/4 c. morsels. Spread into a greased 9"x13" baking pan.

Bake at 350* for 20-25 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with remaining chocolate morsels. Let stand for 5 minutes, then spread. Sprinkle colored sugar/candy/sprinkles over melted chocolate. Cool in pan on wire rack.

As you can see, I made Christmas brownies. I, um, may be about 5 months behind on recipes. Oops :)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

No more boxes!

I'm not quite sure how I've survived this long without making this recipe. My mom's recipe card gives it the official title of "Hogy's Mac and Cheese" but I'd like to call it something more along the lines of "Cholesterol Casserole" or "OrgasMAC and CHEESE".

The Best (not-from-a-box) Mac and Cheese
1 1/2 c. sour cream (this will taste fine with low or non fat if you're feeling guilty about the ridiculous amount of cheese...)
1 1/2 c. cottage cheese (I used the small curd kind)
2 eggs
24 oz. sharp cheddar cheese (I used 16 oz. -- one bag -- sharp and 2 c. of regular)
2 c. elbow macaroni
2 c. other small pasta


Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.

Combine everything but pasta in a very, very large bowl. Add pasta and mix well before transferring the entire mess to a 9" x 13" casserole dish. (If you're like me and don't own a bowl large enough, just mix the pasta and cheese stuff together in the casserole dish.)

Bake at 375* for 40 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and top is golden brown.

Delicious, no? :)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Saga of the Rice Krispie Treats

Growing up, I can't ever remember my mom making Rice Krispie treats. The first time I ever made them, actually, was as a junior in college with my roommate K. and our friend M. K. kept freaking out over the fact that, as foodie as I was, I had never before made Rice Krispie treats. What a travesty, apparently.

K. stressed the cardinal rule of Rice Krispie treat making: Spray everything that might possibly come into contact with the stuff with cooking spray. Everything. Including your hands. Especially your hands.

Rice Krispie treats
3 T. butter/margarine
10 oz. marshmallows (the big ones!)
6 c. 'crisped/puffed rice cereal' (whatever WallyWorld calls their off brand stuff)


Melt the butter. Add marshmallows and heat/stir until completely melted. Mix in cereal. Spread in a 9" x 13" pan and let cool.

K's rule comes in to play from the very get-go. Spray your butter/marmallow melting pan, even if it's a non-stick one. Spray the spatula (or spoon, whatever) you'll be using to stir/scrape the pan. Spray the pan you're going to Rice Krispie treat it up in. And most importantly, SPRAY YOUR HANDS BEFORE YOU TOUCH THE MARSHMALLOW/CEREAL GOO TO SPREAD IT IN THE PAN.

Why is this last point bolded AND in caps. Funny you should ask...

When I made these the other night, I forgot all about K's cardinal rule. This wasn't really an issue until I went to spread them out in the pan. I was having mixing issues, so I just used my hands. About 2 seconds later, I realized my terrible mistake. I needed cooking spray.

As I tried to peel marshmallowy cereal off my fingers, the goo just got worse. I finally managed to unearth a pinky from the carnage and pried open the cooking spray cabinet. At this point, my hands were coated and I was flailing about, trying to free them.

Once I scraped most of the marshmallow stuff off, I tried to get the lid off the cooking spray. As we all know, that lid design is just about the dumbest thing ever and sure as heck is impossible to open when you really need to. Which is why I was dancing about my kitchen, pleading with a plastic cap to 'come off NOWWWWWW'. I ended up banging the cap on the kitchen counter and screeching at it when, lo and behold, *pop*. I sprayed my hands (now coated with crushed bits of cereal but less marshmallow, as the cooking spray can was covered) and finished smashing Rice Krispie treats into the pan.
Surprisingly enough, none of this got on the floor. Very little got on the counter. The cooking spray can was coated. The spoon and spatula I used were coated with marshmallow which had started to harden and wasn't going to come off without the help of very hot water. Ditto for my plastic mixing bowl and saucepan.

Oops.

So this, ladies and gentlemen, was my second experience making K's favorite dessert/snack item. Will I be trying these again any time soon? Probably. Just as soon as I make sure my neighbors didn't see me dancing around in the kitchen, pleading with the lid on my can of cooking spray :)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Busy, busy, busy!

Sorry about the lack of updates folks. I'm working on my MS thesis (known affectionately as 'the thesis baby') this semester and have no free time. I even broke down and *finally* bought a laptop so I can work on the baby whenever I want to, even if I'm not at the lab or my apartment! Sigh...

After a long day with the baby, food always sounds awesome. This recipe is pretty quick and easy and it tastes awesome!

Fettuccine with Chicken and Vegetables

1 9oz. package refrigerated fettuccine (I never use this: I just get the normal dry stuff and cook it)
2 c. small broccoli flowerets
1/2 c. Italian dressing
1 lb. chicken breast strips cut for stir-fry
1 med. red onion, cut into thin wedges (As much as I don't like onion normally, this is good stuff...don't cut it from the recipe!)
1/4 tsp. garlic pepper (Substitute 1/8 tsp. garlic powder and 1/8 tsp. pepper if you're like me and don't have this stuff)
1/2 c. sliced, drained roasted red bell peppers (7oz. jar)
Shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)


Cook and drain fettuccine as directed on package. Add the broccoli to the boiling pasta/water during the last 5 minutes of cooking. Drain pasta and broccoli together. Cover to keep warm.

Meanwhile, in a 12" non-stick skillet, heat 2T. of the Italian dressing over medium-high heat. Cook chicken, onion and garlic pepper in dressing until chicken is no longer pink (4-6 minutes).

Stir bell peppers and remaining dressing into chicken mixture. Cook 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until warm. Serve chicken mixture over fettuccine and broccoli. Serve with cheese.

Yum!