Thursday, December 2, 2010

Things I Desperately Want Before I Go Abroad

I'm going to Copenhagen next semester! I just booked my plane ticket for January 15th and I'm getting rather excited. I am also excited because it's my favorite time of year--the holiday season! No snow in Connecticut, yet, but I'm still hoping for some before I head back to Baltimore. Holidays (and procrastination of paper-writing) cause me to surf the internet for products that I can dream about. Etsy has plenty of them, and the blogs that I read always highlight wonderful things. I'm pretty sure most of the blogs I read are by rich hipsters based on the types of clothes and household products they showcase, but I sometimes find those few special items that seem almost legitimate for me to buy.

In Scandinavia, it is very cold in the Winter, so I want to knit some more scarves and hats and possibly thrift some sweaters during Winter Break. It is also gorgeous, and I will be traveling a bit throughout Europe, so I need a good camera. I have a lovely point-and-shoot digital camera, but what I really want is something that takes awesome quality or artsy shots. I can't stop looking at cameras. I would love a film SLR because it's so much cheaper than DSLRs (even with the cost of film) and it would give me physical reminders of the beautiful things that I experienced. I've been researching. I also love Photojojo's store because they constantly have adorable and fabulous cameras for (mostly) reasonable prices.



And most of all...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

10/28 Fresh Mozzarella and Lemon Zest Pizza Party

Thursday night dinner buddies have another successful meal! We made more pizza from The Cheese Board book, like from Midnight Munchies. This time, however, I had fresh mozzarella (the best I have ever eaten) and cheddar to enjoy on the pizzas. They were fabulous.

Fresh Mozzarella, Cheddar, Tomato, Lemon Zest Pizza

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

10/27 Pumpkin Whoopie Pies, in Mass Quantities

In my house, we swear by our special Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Frosting. I had never even heard of "whoopie pies" before last year, but they are the most fabulous cookie-like sandwiches I have ever tasted. As a fundraiser for Pakistani Flood Relief, we created an event with a bunch of other program houses (around 7 or 8, I think), called the Cookie Cup. It's a competition where each house bakes a huge batch of cookies, and a person pays $2 to walk around and try them all and then vote for their favorites. My house has had a big rivalry with the science program hall for a good long while. It was a huge success (except for my stomach being overly filled with cookies), and we raised almost $250. As for the rivalry, it is still unsolved. We won in different categories, although my house did get the most overall votes.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

10/26 Salmon Meals are Always Fancy Dinners

I eat no meat whatsoever, and salmon is the one seafood I eat. I suppose that means I'm a salmonterian? It was a recent realization that I really liked salmon, so I try to cook it at least once or twice a semester, and my mom makes it at least once a week when I come home for breaks (Thanks, Mom!). I prefer it baked until it is perfectly soft, with either a tiny bit of sauce or lemon juice. For something different, we baked it and added some delicious homemade pesto (very similar to my garlic-ky pesto) and enjoyed it with some quinoa and avocado. It was a delicious fancy meal.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

10/24 Fabulously Chocolatey Birthday Cake

My roommate has an entire folder of Powerpoints on her computer filled with family recipes. I am very jealous I do not have any kind of family recipe that I use often. Any family recipes I have heard of involve lots of meat and other things I do not eat, so it is a bit disappointing. Anyway, my roommate has had the same cake for many, many years for her birthday, and I opted to make it when a good friend's birthday rolled around. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SILVIE! Unfortunately, we were running a bit low on sugar, so I cut out a good third of the sugar and switched some of it to brown sugar instead of white. Surprisingly, it was still ridiculously sweet (in a good way). I also changed and estimated a bunch of other ingredients, and it still turned out fabulous. I suppose it is just a no-fail cake. The cream cheese frosting (with pumpkin spice syrup) was also a delicious combination.

Funny story: I walked into my friend's apartment this weekend and smelled some cake baking, but I recognized IMMEDIATELY that it was cake from a box, not homemade. It was surprisingly distinct, and I realized that, yes, I've become a homemade snob. I guess that's what happens when you live in a house that specializes in cooking for two years.

10/24 Black Beans and Mangos Go Perfectly Together

I really don't like mangos on their own, but they taste fabulous with black beans. We cooked a giant pot of black beans and filled it with mango, spinach, corn, tomato, garlic, and quinoa. We threw it in a tortilla and topped with with avocado, and it was just amazing.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

10/23 Brunchy Time

As soon as my roommate saw the Apple and Cheddar Scones from Smitten Kitchen, she just HAD to make them. I was a little unsure, but boy were they delicious! They were both sweet and savory, and the scone dough was one of the most flavorful I've ever had. We also made some scrambled eggs to complement our scones.

Friday, October 22, 2010

10/22 An Experiment in Afghani Food

There is an awesome girl in my house who is Afghani, so we decided to make some Afghani food. Okay, so she decided to make the food, and we sat there for two hours entertaining and sharing snacks of hummus and popcorn (not together). It was well worth the wait. I have no idea what we ate, but I do know it consisted of rice and kidney beans with a magical blend of spices.

As she noted, almost no Middle Eastern food photographs well. However, my tastebuds were singing with joy.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

10/20 So Much Nutella...

Nutella Thumbprint Cookies

A delicious escape from homework

Monday, October 18, 2010

10/18 Chocolate Mousse Pie

This fabulous pie came from the book 500 Pies and Tarts. My house has about 5 different books in the series. It was a bit too rich for me, so I couldn't eat very much of it, but it was pretty delicious.

10/18 Crack an Egg in the Acorn Squash

Recently, I saw on some blog (I don't remember exactly where) the idea of cracking an egg into a circle of pre-roasted acorn squash. Yesterday, I roasted an acorn squash and ate half of it, so today I decided to do something awesome with the rest of it. I had already scooped out the seedy middle, so I sliced it thinly, threw it in a pan, and cracked an egg in the circle. After the first side was getting golden, I flipped it over and cooked the other side. I peeled off the skin of the squash, peppered the egg, and ate a delicious, especially savory meal.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

10/16 A Pumpkin Feast of Epic Proportions

As is very evident, I absolutely love pumpkin. I can't get enough of it. For weeks, I have been collecting any interesting recipes I see on Tastespotting involving pumpkin (I have an entire bookmarks folder). During my Fall Break (a five-day weekend), I finally decided to throw a pumpkin feast for my friends remaining on campus. I had an absolutely miserable midterm week, consisting of 3 papers totaling more than 25 pages and a test. I was almost had another 6 page paper due, but that was luckily postponed. I opted to stay on campus for Break to sleep, build a fort, and cook. It was a grand weekend.

Cinnamon Pumpkin Black Bean Lentil Burgers (quite the mouthful)
These were my first attempt at veggie burgers, ever! I've now decided to make them all the time and freeze them for later because they are so incredibly easy. I added lentils just for fun, and they made all the difference.

Pumpkin Garlic Knots
Next time, I would add more pumpkin to the dough so it tastes more pumpkin-y.

My roommate's delicious Butternut Squash Ginger Soup (not pumpkin, but close enough)

Salad with field greens and walnuts (not especially exotic but still delicious)

Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake

I don't remember where the recipe came from, but I did use a gingersnap crust, which was pretty awesome (except they were near impossible to crush). I wasn't especially thrilled with the chocolate overpowering the pumpkin, but it was still pretty tasty.

Friday, October 15, 2010

10/15 For the Perfect Homemade Pumpkin Spice Chai Lattes...

I drink my favorite Teavana Samurai Chai every single morning. I appreciate the caffeine and the amazing flavor. I also love Fall flavors more than anything else, especially when it is actually Fall. Pumpkin spice lattes are expensive, calorie-heavy, and usually disappointing at coffee shops. I opt to make my own, and I use tea instead of coffee. To do that, I need my own pumpkin spice syrup! Note: I tried to make it without the syrup (actual scoops of pumpkin and spices), and it was a disgusting failure. Syrup is a miracle worker.

Pumpkin Spice Syrup
1.5 cups sugar
1.5 cups water
2 tbsp pumpkin
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or your own mixture)

1. Bring water to a boil.
2. Dissolve sugar in water at medium heat (about 5 min)
3. Add pumpkin and spice, a little at a time so it doesn't clump. Mix very well to combine in the syrup.
4. Cook at medium heat for another 5 minutes, mixing often to get rid of any clumps.
5. Remove from heat and let cool.
6. Spread a piece of cheesecloth over a small bowl. Pour syrup into cheesecloth and let drain as much as possible. This will be relatively messy, so try and determine the most efficient method for yourself.
7. Pour into jars and cover. Refrigerate. It will keep for a few weeks, at least.
8. Give as gifts to family members and friends. I made some for my mom, and she was very excited!
Note: Spices may separate (see the darker color on the bottom), so give the syrup a good stir every time you use it.

Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte
Freshly brewed chai tea or coffee, if desired
1/4 cup milk, heated to desired temperature
Pumpkin Spice Syrup

1. Froth milk and pour desired amount in a mug of chai tea.
2. Add 1-2 tbsp of syrup to taste, and stir.
3. Enjoy as often as possible.

You can also add the syrup to just about anything. I ate it on apple pancakes when I had no maple syrup, I used it to add a kick to some cream cheese frosting, and I sometimes throw it into cakes and breads. It is always fabulous.

10/15 Black Bean Madness

As a vegetarian, I eat a lot of beans so I can get enough protein. For some reason, black beans are so much more appealing to me than other beans. I've tried many kinds, but I will always prefer black beans. They have the best texture and go remarkably well with other exciting flavors.

Black beans and rice with guacamole, field green and walnut salad

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

10/13 The Omelette I Will Always Turn To

I will always be in the mood for guacamole. It's so easy to make and so very flavorful--as are omelettes.
Guacamole omelette

My guacamole recipe
1 ripe avocado, mushed
Lime juice, a few tablespoons-worth
A handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced or diced
1 clove garlic, minced (Sometimes, I add more for a little kick)
1/4 onion, chopped (Optional)
Pepper, to taste
A dash of hot sauce

1. Pour a few splashes of lime juice into a bowl with a cut-up avocado to help mush it with a fork (the juice really helps).
2. Toss the tomatoes, garlic, and onion into the bowl.
3. Add the pepper and hot sauce to your liking.
4. Experiment with other items, like fruits (mango and kiwi are great additions for something a little different).

10/13 Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Madness

For some reason, I remember my house being overrun by peanut butter cookies last year, although no one else does. They really aren't my favorite--I think the peanut butter and the sugar mixture is an awfully odd flavor, but I still like them in moderation. Plus, when they're a Smitten Kitchen recipe, how can I say no? My friends and I live by Smitten Kitchen's updates.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

10/12 The Best Omelette I Have Ever Made

No words can describe how happy my tastebuds were when biting into this omelette. It's a combination of my obsessions (roasted cherry tomatoes and goat cheese) and more!
Cherry tomato, basil (fresh from my window), and goat cheese omelette

My roommate had extra crepe batter, so I also made an (extra crispy) Nutella crepe. Simple and fabulous.

Friday, October 8, 2010

10/8 Midnight Munchies

To get better cooking appliances and such, my program house likes to throw a giant fundraiser event a semester. Last Spring, we catered a three course Valentine's Day dinner, and it was a huge success (and such great fun). Today, we repeated our event from last Fall, a giant gourmet pizza and goodies sale late on a Friday night. We call it Midnight Munchies. We made lots of tomato and lemon zest pizza based on The Cheese Board, a restaurant in Berkeley. We also served basil lemonade and molasses crinkle cookies. It was a great success.

10/8 Stir Fry Time!

I have to admit, I am very adamant to make stir fry. My experiences with it have not been good (the cooking part). I don't like things very salty, and most soy sauce is far too salty for my taste. Last year, I tried to stir fry seitan with soy sauce, and it turned out absolutely horrid. I had to throw it out immediately. I have also burned many things and made very bland creations. Luckily, I had friends to help me this time. It's all about moderation and Soy Vay teriyaki sauce.

Broccoli, onion, and vegetarian sausage stir fry with egg and orzo

Thursday, October 7, 2010

10/7 Crepes Galore

I have made a lot of dessert crepes in the past few years, but I have rarely made savory crepes.
Every Thursday night, I head over to my friend, Amber's, apartment for some delicious endeavors. It's supposed to be a celebration of the weekend, since neither of us has class on Friday, but it usually turns into a break before freaking out about all of the work we have. Nonetheless, it's delicious.
Last year, crepes and caramelized onions were our default dinners (not necessarily together), for some reason. It was time to bring 'em back.

Broccoli, onion, avocado, and egg crepes

Not pictured: Fabulous sauteed carmelized (with brown sugar and butter) pear and apple crepes with cinnamon--We gobbled them up before I remembered to take a picture

Monday, October 4, 2010

10/4 Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffin Tops

I could call them cookies, but these definitely resemble the best part of a muffin more than they resemble a cookie. This recipe is based on Chocolate Chip Trips. I doubled some parts of the recipe and not others, so it made an awesome consistency. My Monday night seminar classmates were very happy to eat the cookies. My professor said, "Well, now you've raised the culinary bar."

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffin Tops
1 cup white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 egg
1/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup chocolate chips (or however much you choose)

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lay parchment paper on two baking sheets.
2. Stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices together in a medium bowl and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the eggs and sugar until smooth and lightened in color, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. On low speed, mix the butter, pumpkin, and vanilla until blended. Mix in the flour mixture to incorporate it. Mix in the chips.
4. Scoop heaping spoonfuls of the batter, spacing the cookies at least 2 1/2-inches apart.
5. Bake for about 14-16 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Friday, October 1, 2010

10/1 Fall is Never Complete Without More Butternut Squash Soup

Same recipe as 9/27, but with a different blend of spices

Also, we made some more swiss chard--this time with goat cheese.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

9/30 Brownies with Vanilla Caramel Swirl

Delicious, incredibly easy brownies based on Good Life Eats
They are meant to be in a heart shape as a gift for a friend.

The first time I made these, I put them in the oven and realized I forgot the flour! I remembered early enough that they still turned out wonderfully.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

9/29 Can't Get Enough Lentils

Lentils and onions with roasted cherry tomatoes--the cherry tomatoes add some big flavor

Monday, September 27, 2010

9/27 Butternut Squash Soup and Salad

Butternut Squash Soup
1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup cream
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped
Spices (rosemary, cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.)

Heat the butternut squash, cream, and ginger in a large pot on medium heat, covered, until squash is soft (probably 30-60 minutes, depending on your stove). Add spices and blend with an immersion blender (or regular blender) until smooth. I like to make extra to put into Glad containers and freeze for later. Also, feel free to add other types of squash, pumpkin, sweet potato, and any other spices and herbs.

Also with tomato and walnut salad with cranberries, goat cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette

Sunday, September 19, 2010

9/20 Sauteed Spiced Apples

Sauteed spiced apples and walnuts
3 tablespoons butter
Brown sugar
1 apple
Handful of walnuts

Melt the butter on medium heat and add enough brown sugar (about 1/8 cup) to make a thin caramel. Toss in apple slices and walnuts until well-coated and soft.

9/19 Every Part of the Beet

I realized my love for beets about a year ago, but I only just realized you can treat the leaves of the beets just like any other leafy green. They made for a fabulous meal.

Everything in stock: String beans, vegetarian sausage, beet greens (just as beautiful as swiss chard), quinoa, and garlic with yogurt sauce (yogurt, tahini, and sesame oil)

Roasted beets and goat cheese
Roasted beets
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Scrub beets clean and cut off beet greens. Wrap in foil with a little bit of oil and bake for about an hour, until beets are soft when pierced with a knife.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

9/18 Swiss Chard and White Cheddar Frittata

When I was making my frittata, I considered making it as healthy as I could. I used 4 eggs, skim milk instead of cream, and swiss chard (a fabulously healthy leafy green). Feel free to experiment with the ingredients.

Swiss Chard and White Cheddar Frittata
4 eggs
1 cup milk (I used skim)
Bunch of swiss chard
1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk eggs and milk together. Chop swiss chard into small pieces. Mix chard and cheese into eggs and milk. Pour into greased pie pan. Bake for about an hour, until the center appears solid when you shake the pan.
I topped my frittata with roasted cherry tomatoes, which made it even more delicious!

Friday, September 17, 2010

9/17 Fabulous Pretzels

Whole wheat soft pretzels

Thursday, September 16, 2010

9/16 The Best Grilled Cheese I Have Ever Eaten

No grilled cheese will ever compare to this one. It was a perfect combination of flavors and textures.

Cheddar, munster, and goat cheese grilled cheese with roasted cherry tomatoes, sauteed garlic swiss chard, and homemade pesto

Pesto (Cheeseless)
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves (I used about half the leaves from my small basil plant)
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pine nuts
A few tablespoons of oil
A few tablespoons of lemon juice

Put all dry ingredients in a food processor (I used my immersion blender). Add enough oil and lemon juice to blend well. I used more lemon juice than oil because I can never get enough lemon. Feel free to experiment with the amounts to make it to your liking. Store in a well-sealed container, and it will keep for at least a week.

Grilled cheese
A handful of cherry tomatoes
Balsamic vinegar
A few stalks of swiss chard (I used 3 large stalks)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 slices bread (I used whole wheat oat)
Goat cheese
Munster cheese
White cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread the tomatoes onto a baking sheet and drizzle with oil and vinegar. Let roast about 45 minutes until the tomatoes "pop" (shrink and spread delicious juices).
Chop swiss chard into small pieces. Separate the leaves and the stalk. Sautee stalk about 5 minutes on medium heat. Add the leaves and garlic. Continue to sautee until leaves shrink and stalk gains transparency.
Spread pesto onto both slices of bread. Add cheese, tomatoes, and swiss chard. Bake, according to your preferences. I like a little bit of butter on a flat pan on the stove until the bread is dark brown and the cheese is melted.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

9/12 A Delectable Indian Meal

My roommate and I had volunteered to cook house dinner tonight, so we opted for a full-on Indian meal. I made naan, which I had never in my life cooked before, and she made delicious curried lentils (I love lentils!). We also had pumpkin whoopie pies with cream cheese frosting, to which nothing will ever measure up.

20 baked pieces of naan

Curried lentils and yogurt sauce

Brown rice
Sauteed kale and onions
All the fabulous items together

9/12 Irish Sodabread

Irish sodabread with cranberries