Sep 30, 2010

The Simple Things in Life

You know how there are some foods that are kind of...well...plain? It's so simple it's almost boring, but it's something that you just love? Whether it be because it's something you grew up with or because you are learning to appreciate simplicity in your life; simple foods can end up being just so darn tasty. One of my favorite simple foods is polenta. I love it because you can make it completely on it's own-I'm talking water and corn meal here-and have a tasty side dish. Because corn is just GOOD. Of course adding things like chicken broth, basil, and a healthy dose of tomato sauce doesn't hurt either. That's what I made and it was mmmmm goooood. I made my fantastically-delicious-party-in-your-mouth-mushroom-marinara to put on top of the polenta. I know it's strange to put so much effort into a sauce that will go on top of the simplest base ever, but hey, I gotta be me. I just followed the instructions on the back of the polenta bag but used chicken broth and stirred in a little basil and parmesan. Just pop it in the oven and wait. Here's what it looked like: Gosh it's so pretty!
Anyway, the point of this post is two fold. 1.To share my new favorite quick meal and 2. to remind myself, and you dear reader, to enjoy the simpler things because they can end up being amazing.

Sep 25, 2010

Fail crackers

Sometimes everyone needs a good fail. Schadenfreude, if you will. And because I have seen so many internet fails that have cracked me up, I think that it's time to give back. So here's a fail recipe for all of you. Don't make it--just be glad that you didn't make it first.

So basically I tried making this recipe for rosemary cheese crackers. Looked pretty good and simple enough, right? WRONG. Not good. apparently I was wrong in thinking that anything can be made gluten free. I may have made some other horrible mistake, but as far as I remember all I did wrong was replacing the flour with gluten free flour. Although based on what they tasted like when they came out of the oven....oh dear god. It was like wet cardboard flavored with beans. Firstly, they wouldn't really cut right and they were really fragile. Secondly, after the recommended cooking time, they were still raw on the inside. So I ended up cooking them for almost double the recommended time. They barely turned golden and they were STILL a bit raw. What the heck?! Thirdly, they tasted like garbage.
Here's what they looked like:
I was not happy. But you should be! Because I saved you from making them yourself. If you ever come across a recipe for Rosemary Cheese Crackers, proceed with caution. It may just be the same fail crackers I tried.

Sep 21, 2010

Back to School

Here I am! Back at school! I'm moved in and getting used to living in the dorms again. It's weird being put in the same position I was in as a freshman. When everyone is awkwardly introducing themselves, wandering into the lounge hoping to make friends, and leaving their doors open hoping someone will come say hi. Dorms are awkward! It's nice living next door to my friends, but most of the people in this dorm already know each other, so it's kind of weird talking to people that are hanging out with their own group of friends. For now, we're all chilling out in our rooms, getting over the stress of moving in, and enjoying the free time we have by going out to dinner, going bowling, and revisiting old friends.My room's pretty small, but I think Aileen and I have made it look pretty awesome. The beds are lofts, so that I sleep on the top bunk and the desk is the platform the bottom bunk should be on. We've also been given an armoire and a dresser. I set up my tv on the dresser so that I can lie in bed and watch it. ohhh yeahhhh lazy ftw. I think I'm gonna go hunt down some decorations so that the walls don't look as plain, but it still looks good. Here's what my side looks like:

As far as the food situation for this year goes, it seems that the promised kitchen is still just out of reach. My RA doesn't have the key to the kitchen and he says that he has to be around when anyone is using it and check that we've cleaned up and lock it up again. He agrees that it will be inconvenient for me to have to find him every time I need to eat, so he's going to try and work it out so that I can have my own key. I haven't cooked anything since being here, but we were hoping to have a homemade meal for dinner sometime tonight. If not, well that just gives us our first opportunity to eat at Tacos Moreno. ....oh I've missed you.
I'm really looking forward to this quarter and I'm very ready for classes to start. I know how strange it is to say that I miss having homework to do, but I really really do! Summer seems so futile to me because I'm working for the sake of working. Granted, I'm getting paid, but I'm not really doing anything for myself. And when I'm not working, I don't have anything else to focus my energy into. Whereas as school I always have something I can be working on, even if I don't want to do it. Especially now that I'm doing upper division classes, I always have an endless amount of reading to do. Having homework makes me feel like I'm doing something productive with my life, even if I am procrastinating on doing it. I realize that's strange, but I want homework! Hopefully I'll be in some really cool classes this quarter, so I'm feeling good about this year.
So that's my update on the beginning of the school year. I'll be posting my Chicken Tikka Masala recipe in the next day or two so check back for that! And to intrigue you a little bit, Becky told me that this is the best thing I've ever made. OH YEAH.

Sep 14, 2010

Daring Cooks: Apple Butter

The September 2010 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by John of Eat4Fun. John chose to challenge The Daring Cooks to learn about food preservation, mainly in the form of canning and freezing. He challenged everyone to make a recipe and preserve it. John’s source for food preservation information was from The National Center for Home Food Preservation.

This month's challenge was Apple Butter in order for all of us to better understand food preservation. To be honest, I'm a little dissapointed because my apple butter didn't come out quite right. It was too chunky to really be called apple butter, but no matter how much I mashed those apples, I still couldn't get it to be like butter. And without an immersion blender, what's a girl to do? So what I have is a cross between apple butter and sauce and is quite tasty. I ate it this morning on a bagel with cream cheese!
The whole process of making apple butter is simple, but time consuming. Basically I peeled and cored 5 lbs of apples, cooked them with a cup of water for about n hour until they were falling apart, added some spices, mashed, and let it go! It ended up being about a 3 hour process, but I think it was worth it. Apple butter freezes very well so this is a great idea if you have an apple tree and need to use up the piles of apples in your backyard.
Sadly, I don't have any pictures of the finished product because my camera/phone died. However, I will be using the apple butter this week to make a tasty pork dish. So look forward to pictures then!

Sep 13, 2010

Chicken Noodle Soup

As a busy person who likes to spend her spare time watching tv/playing video games/sleeping, I am always looking for meals that I can put on the stove and just trust that they will work. And I have found an amazing one! I was so incredibly happy about this soup...I can't...I can't even....IT'S SO GOOD! I'm going to be making this a lot winter quarter on those days when it's too cold to go to class and I'm wrapped in blankets next to the heater praying for warmer days. (You'd be surprised how many days become blanket-heater-praying days during winter quarter. Seems like I can't walk out the door without getting drenched. ) Because the last twowinter quarters have proven to be so ridiculously cold and miserable I am taking precautions this year. I have about 5 blankets, new rainboots, lots of sweatshirts, a new jacket, and winter soup recipes perfect for warming you up. But then of course I'm also preparing for spring quarter by bringing an enormous fan, shorts, and new tanktops.Anyway, that was a rant about the random weather in Santa Cruz, but the point of the story is: Soup is good. Soup is very. very. good.

Chicken Noodle Soup
Adapted from Take Thou Food
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
2 medium onions, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp flour
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
A couple sprigs of thyme (I used dried)
1 lb chicken, in bite sized pieces (I used thighs, but you can use whatever cut you like)
2 cups white wine
Chicken broth

In a large pot, preferably a dutch oven, heat a bit of olive oil over medium heat. Add the vegetables and cook until they're soft, about 10 minutes.

When the veggies are done, turn the heat up to high and add the flour and chicken. Stir it around so that the flour coats the chicken and cook until the chicken is no longer pink on the outside. Don't worry about it being cooked through, it's going to cook for a long time. Deglaze the bottom of the pan with the white wine and scrape all the brown tasty bits off the bottom. I like to turn the flame off when I pour the wine in. Hey, I'm attached to my eyebrows. Don't want to lose them in a tragic deglazing accident.
Pour in the chicken stock until it covers the veggies and chicken. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and leave it along for 90 minutes. Here's where I go back under the blanket, grab a book, and thank the heater for being such a loyal friend. After the 90 minutes are up, apologize to your heater friend and go back to the kitchen. Remove the lid and cook for another 30 minutes.

At this point, put some water to boil and cook up some pasta. Preferably a short pasta like macaroni. I prefer to cook the noodles outside of the soup because the pasta really absorbs a lot of water and can change the consistency of the broth. Also, gluten free pasta is very starchy and the starch will make it look all weird. When the pasta and the soup are both done, spoon a bit of pasta in the bottom of the bowl and pour soup on top. Stir it up and dig in! I served this with some toasted baguette from the bakery. YUMMY!

Sep 7, 2010


Some of you may have noticed that I'm not posting as often as I used to. I apologize if you are a regular reader, but fair warning, there won't be a lot of posts in the future either. I'm going back to school in a week and a half and sadly, I will be kitchen-less. Well, not entirely kitchen-less, but pretty darn close. I will be living in a dorm with one large communal kitchen, but in the past that kitchen has been shut down because nobody keeps it clean. In theory, I will have access to the kitchen all the time because I annoy the housing and dining people so much, but that's still all theory. While I'm in school, I will be shooting for one post per week. yes I realize that that's basically what I've been doing all summer, but that's because I've been working. While I'm at school it will be one post per week because I will have to fight everyone else in the dorm to make my food. So! I apologize in advance if there aren't very many posts, but I promise that I will keep on cooking and continue posting!
Since I'm not posting a recipe today (as I am currently sitting behind the counter and the bakery and don't have access to my recipe book), I want to ask you guys questions! I know most bloggers give prizes and have giveaways or whatever, but lets be honest, this isn't a high profile blog here. So answering these questions will give you....10 points! (Those points can be redeemed for a high five or a hug)

What have you spent you're summer doing?
What would you like to see on this blog?
What do you want for Christmas?