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Showing posts from 2011

Potato, Potatoh

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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 l…

I can do classy!

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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 sh…

Merry Christmas!

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Merry Christmas from Sharona and Manwich!
(I promise that this is his happy face)

I am my mother's daughter

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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)

The best way to spread Christmas cheer....

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...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 s…

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

Crunch time!

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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:

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree....

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...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…

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…

The trick is growing up without growing old

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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 even…

Remember this

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So this one time...

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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 …

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!

Fantasy pie indeed...

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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 go…

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!

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 man…

FIESTA TIME!

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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" …

What makes you happy?

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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 …

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
OR1 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.

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!

Catch up time...

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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 spre…

No more boxes!

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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.)

B…

The Saga of the Rice Krispie Treats

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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…

Busy, busy, busy!

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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…