Apr 3, 2011

Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers

Happy spring everybody! I've officially started spring quarter and Santa Cruz is just lovely this week. Before I left for spring break it was rainy, windy, and grey. But this week has been absolutely perfect! Just the right amount of sun, a light breeze.... *sigh* And most importantly, that makes it dress season! I love wearing summer dresses, and I finally have the chance to wear them every. single. day.
I've also started my last three classes of junior year. It's weird to think that I'll be a senior next year! This quarter I'm taking a history class and two lit classes. The history class is definitely my favorite; it's called "The Italian Renaissance" sooooo....it's awesome. The lit classes are alright, so far I'm not super excited about the topics, but it is only the first week.
The other exciting thing about this quarter is that I can finally start looking for a place to live next year! Aileen and I have been talking about moving for so long and it's great to be able to go look at houses and picture ourselves living there. We started planning for next year in January. That's how much we want out of these dorms. When we get especially frustrated with the dining hall or our neighbors or the general atmosphere of the dorm, we sit around our room looking at for-rent listings and Ikea catalogs. I know, it's kind of sad. But it's the little glimmer of hope that lets us stay in the dorms without feeling too claustrophobic and generally annoyed.
So that's what my spring is going to look like. I'm very excited!
And now, onto the food! Since last time I gave you a (delicously, sinfully, fabulously) unhealthy cake, this time I'm going to give you all a healthy dinner recipe. I actually didn't think I would like this recipe very much; I don't really like vegetables at all, so a vegetarian meal makes me suspicious. But, I was very happy with this dinner. It was satisfying and light at the same time. Also, it was super delicious. I even ate the spinach!

Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers
Adapted from La Kocinera
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 red onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 lb sliced mushrooms
1 cup chopped carrots
7 bell peppers, 1 cored/chopped/seeded, the other six hollowed
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/4 lb baby spinach
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground cumin
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and cooked according to package directions
pinch of cayenne
salt and pepper to taste

heat the oil in a skillet then add the onions and garlic. Let cook until soft, then add the mushrooms. Cook the mushrooms for about 5 minutes, until they start to become soft. Then add the carrots and chopped peppers. Let cook a few minutes, then add parsley and baby spinach. Let the veggies cook until the spinach is wilted. I like to cook spinach by gently tossing it with a wooden spoon until it starts to wilt. Otherwise the bottom leaves will wilt fast, while the leaves on top don't cook at all. After spinach is wilted, add the cinnamon, cumin, cayenne, and cooked quinoa. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then set aside to let cool.
While the veggies are cooling, prep the other 6 peppers. First core the peppers. The best way to do this is to make a horizontal slice around the top of the pepper, keeping the core intact. Then simply pull the top off and use your fingers to scrape out any leftover seeds. Cut off the core from the top of the bell pepper and save the tops.
Grease a baking dish and set the hollow bell peppers inside. Fill each bell pepper evenly with the quinoa-veggie mixture. Place the bell pepper tops on top, cover with foil and place in 350F oven for 1 hour.

Even if you don't like veggies, I think you would like this dish. One thing that I'm going to try next time is cutting the mushrooms up even smaller. I find that the texture of the mushrooms weird, so if I cut them up small I can enjoy their flavor without the texture. I will probably also add things like zucchini as well! yum!

Mar 22, 2011

Banana Cake with Chocolate Frosting

I think I'm in love...with a cake. This cake is the most beautiful fantastic cake I've ever experienced. I had never made a banana cake before and I also had never made a frosting with a sour cream base, but I am definitely making this again. Soon.
I actually made this cake for my brother when we got home for spring break. I told him I would make him a cake because he's awesome, but really I just needed an excuse to make a cake. Also, this is what happens when my brother and I hang out in the kitchen together: Chess and baking.

This cake was kind of random and had issues. I didn't have enough bananas and I didn't have the right cake pans. (Um, yeah, why do we own a spring form pan without a base?) So I improvised! I ended up sending stephen out for more bananas and I made it into a sheet cake. The recipe I posted here is my adapted version, which turned out to be AMAZING. Sorry if the cooking times are a bit off; because I changed it into a sheet cake cooking times and temp had to be altered. Imagine a super moist banana bread with frosting. yumyumyum.

Banana Cake
Adapted from Edible Moments
1 1/2 cups bananas, mashed
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
2 1/8 cup sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting
Adapted from Allrecipes
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
4 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
2 3/4 cup confectioners sugar

To start the cake smoosh the bananas in a small bowl. That's right. Smoosh them. That is the technical term. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. In a larger bowl cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy and delicious. (Side note: is there a more delicious combination than butter and sugar? I think not.) Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Then alternatly add the flour and buttermilk to the egg/butter combination. Stir in the banana mixture.
Grease a 9x13 inch pan and pour in batter. You could use a normal round cake pan and make a layered cake, but the sheet cake method worked well for this cake. Bake at 350F for 20-30 minutes. Again, I altered the cooking time, so keep an eye on it. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, put it in the freezer for 45 minutes. Apparently, this makes the cake moister. Although, I don't know the science behind this, it sounds pretty legitimate.
To make the frosting melt the butter and chocolate together in the microwave. I've found the best way to do this is to microwave it for 30 seconds, stir, another 30 seconds, and stir again. You shouldn't need more than a minute, stirring helps it all melt together. Let it cool a bit then stir in the sour cream, vanilla, and salt. Slowly stir in the sugar; you might not need it all, just stir in enough for your preferred sweetness level.
When the cake is cool, spread the frosting on top of the cake evenly and decorate.

I decorated it with chocolate shavings. The process of creating these chocolate shavings was surprisingly messy....AAHHHH! I'm bleeding chocolate!

Just kidding! So that's how to make the most delicious cake ever. Enjoy!

Mar 6, 2011


Hello everybody! Just wanted to let you know that it might be a while until I post another recipe. It's finals week for me and I've decided that if I want to get these finals papers done the only solution is to cut off all communication with the outside world. I have locked myself in my room (figuratively, not literally because that would be a fire hazard) and I've filled my shelves with finals food. Finals food being gushers, popcorn, soup, and chips. I've got a test on Thursday (on 120 pages of reading that I haven't done yet), a group presentation on Wednesday, and 3 final papers totaling 23 pages of brilliant writing due by next Monday. This is going to be the BEST WEEK EVER. (That was my sarcasm voice)
So I'll see you all next Tuesday after I've finished my finals and start heading home for spring break. Next week's recipe is going to be awesome! Hint: it involves fish. omnomnom.

Feb 26, 2011


Last weekend I went home to clean out my room so my parents could remodel the upstairs. I was not particularly excited about the idea of cleaning my room, not because I hate cleaning, but because I knew there was probably a giant hairy spider lying in wait for me.
Just sitting....waiting....ready to pounce from behind my collection of stuffed animals...
Ugh, the thought gives me chills. But luckily, there were no spiders to be found! And I was extremely successful in cleaning my room! I essentially threw out 80% of my stuff and reduced everything that mattered to me to about 5-6 boxes. I had so much junk, like I don't even know how I accumulated that much stuff. In the past when I tried to clean my room, I never wanted to throw anything away. But this time, I kept only the things I really needed and, you know what? It felt awesome! I feel like I get to start all over with my stuff, because the next place this stuff is going is into my very own apartment. That idea just blows my mind. That now, I have stuff that belongs to ME and will go in MY HOUSE. Not just my bedroom, but my very own place! That's just nuts you guys.
And now, in honor of my ability to get rid of a bunch of crap, here's a random recipe I have in my "to post" folder!

Adapted from Allrecipes
2 cups potatoes, peeled and shredded
1 Tbsp grated onion
3 eggs, beaten
2 Tbsp all purpose flour (more if they aren't holding together)
1 1/2 tsp salt
oil for frying

Now, I don't know about all of you, but the idea of a potato pancake makes me drool. Potatoes are delicious. Pancakes are awesome. Therefor potato pancakes must be deliciously awesome! And these potato pancakes really are. They're really easy to put together, basically just throw it all in a bowl and mix. But one of the important things to remember is that the potatoes need to be really dry. After you shred the potatoes, put them in ice water so they don't turn brown. Then right before mixing them in, drain them and try and squeeze as much moisture out as possible. Cheesecloth is good for this, but if you don't have any, paper towels work too. After mixing the potatoes, onion, eggs, and flour together, heat a bit of oil in a skillet. You don't need too much oil, just enough to fry them in. Drop the batter into the skillet in spoonfuls, flattening them out quickly. Let them fry 1-2 minutes per side until lightly browned. Let drain on paper towel then serve with sour cream or applesauce and a salad on the side!


Feb 16, 2011

Perfect brownies are the key to my success...

Last week I gave you guys a hint to what I would be making over the weekend. Here's the hint:
It's not quite a brownie, but it's not quite a cake either.
Now what I actually made was Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies. Can you say sweet delicious sugar high? Cause after eating a couple of those, I sure can! I made these as a valentines day gift for Dan. And since Valentines Day is over, I guess I can tell you all what I did for it. I had these super secret plans and I gave Dan hints the week before about what his gift might involve. The best one was "You can touch it, but it can't be wrapped." That
really confused the heck out of him. What I actually did was I got a box of those cheesy valentine cards and hid them around his room in places he would slowly find them. In fact, he hasn't found them all yet! (mwahahaha brilliant plan worked out). Then, while he was in class I made him these red velvet cheesecake brownies. And they turned out to be AWESOME. I mean, how can you go wrong with cake and cheesecake mixed together? I actually didn't have all the necessary ingredients so I improvised a bit. I noted on the recipe what I used instead.
Moral of the story: I heart Valentines Day

Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies
Adapted from Baking Bites

1/2 cup butter
2 oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used 2 oz semi sweet chocolate chips)
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract (I had no vanilla, so I omitted this altogether)
2 tsp red food coloring
2/3 cup gf all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
8 oz cream cheese, room temp
1/3 cup sugar (I used vanilla sugar because I didn't have vanilla extract)
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a brownie pan. Or grease your Perfect Brownie Pan Set!

Yeah that's right. As seen on TV people. Jealous?
Anyway, then mix together the sugar, eggs, vanilla, and food coloring. 2 tsp is an estimate; start with 1 1/2 and then see if you want it to be a brighter red. Then mix in the flour and salt and combine until there are no lumps of flour. Pour the cake batter into the brownie pan (or the Perfect Brownie Pan Set) and set aside.
In a separate bowl, combine the cream cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla. Try and get this as smooth as possible as well. As I noted above, I used vanilla sugar because I failed to buy vanilla extract at the store.And it actually worked really well! Note to self: use vanilla sugar in everything.
Drop the cheesecake batter onto the cake batter in dollops, then swirl together with a butter knife. I swirled mine a little too much and the cake and cheesecake formed together into one entity. Which was delicious, so whateva! Bake for 30-40 min or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool before slicing. Or let cool before pulling the top off of the precut brownies! Thanks Perfect Brownie Pan Set!

Oh also, one last thing! The College Housewife is now on Twitter! Follow me here

Feb 14, 2011

Daring Cooks: Soba Noodles and Tempura

The February 2011 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by Lisa of Blueberry Girl. She challenged Daring Cooks to make Hiyashi Soba and Tempura. She has various sources for her challenge including japanesefood.about.com, pinkbites.com, and itsybitsyfoodies.com

Happy Valentines Day everybody! I love Valentines Day, although I didn't used to. High school made me a bitter bitter girl, but now that I'm out of there, I've learned to love Feb 14th. I also love any chance I have to sneak around and plan super secret awesome surprises. I came up with some prettttttty awesome stuff today for Dan, but you all will have to wait until tomorrow to find out what it is on the off chance that he checks out this post.
But! That is not what I'm here to talk about today. Today I want to tell you about Daring Cooks! I haven't been able to complete a Daring Cooks challenge for a long time because I'm using a community kitchen. This makes challenging recipes even more challenging due to limited refrigerator space and limited access to a stove/oven. But I was able to complete this months challenge...well sort of.This month's challenge was a cold soba noodle salad and tempura. Today I'll talk mostly about the noodle salad because I didn't try making the Tempura gluten free. I'm going to try that next weekend, so next week I'll put up a post about making gluten free tempura in more detail.
Now here's the thing about this noodle salad. I couldn't find ANY of the ingredients. Which is weird, since I live in Santa Cruz and I would expect there to be a lot of resources available to me as far as food selection. These were the three hardest things to find
1. Soba noodles. How is this so difficult to get?! Soba noodles are buckwheat noodles, meaning that they are naturally gluten free. Well guess what? Apparently noodle companies decided to do away with tradition and bring in the wheat flour. Every soba noodle I found was made with majority wheat flour. Not ok noodle guys. Not ok.
2. Katsuobushi Dashi. Now I looked it up and this is a sauce made of seaweed and bonito flakes. I couldn't find it anywhere! I went to three stores! I even went to New Leaf! (which is like whole foods, but smaller) I told the guy at the register that I couldn't find it and he said that they could put in a special order, but I didn't have that kind of time/money.
3. Mirin. Ok, this was actually not that hard to find. It's just that I'm 20 and can't legally buy it yet.
So I encountered a lot of difficulties with this challenge. What I ended up doing was basically improvising my own cold noodle salad. Here's my recipe:

Natalie's Asian Noodle Salad
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp ground ginger
3 green onions, sliced
1/2 lb quinoa pasta (preferably you should use buckwheat noodles, but I thought quinoa was an ok replacement)

Combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic and ginger in a bowl and let sit while making the noodles. Cook pasta according to package directions, then drain and run under cold water until noodles are cool. Sprinkle green onions over pasta. Serve by dipping noodles in sauce, or pour some sauce onto noodles. Make sure it's served cold, it's sooooo delicious cold. I was actually kind of wary with this recipe; I wasn't sure that it was going to work out with that much soy sauce.But oh my gosh. I love soy sauce on pasta and now there's no going back. This is my new go-to quick meal.

Try it out on a hot day sometime!

Feb 10, 2011

Life Changes FTW

Oh hello everybody!
I have had a horrible horrible day. But that's alright! Because something awesome made my day so much better.
But first: the backstory.
A couple days ago, I was lying in bed trying to fall asleep when I had a scary thought. I'm graduating in a year. Oh dear god! That's like nothing. Two and a half years have gone by in a snap and I only have one year left?! That is not ok. And then panic set in. Here was my sleepy, disoriented, and terrified train of thought:
But if I'm going to graduate, I'm going to have to get a job.
But if I'm going to get a job, I have to have experience..
I...I don't have any experience...
After a little bit of panicking, I fell into a deep and troubled sleep. Not really, I slept fine, I just enjoy using phrases like deep and troubled sleep. Makes me feel like I'm getting my moneys worth with a literature degree. Anyway, so after my pleasant and relaxing sleep, I tried to ignore the little sense of dread in the back of my head saying: "I don't want to grow up! I want to be in college forever!"
I was fairly successful until today, when I went to the history department's career information meeting. Basically, a bunch of alumnus came to meet us history students and tell us how they got into their chosen field. It was informative, but it really only told me that most people end up in their careers by chance, not careful planning. And that's just not how I work. I enjoy lists, planning, timelines and such. But! One of these alumni told me about a teaching internship that she found to be a wonderful experience. It's called Breakthrough Collaborative. The way it works is that they select high school and college students to teach classes of middle schoolers over the summer. But it's not just being a teacher's aide of assistant, they are actual teachers. Like running the school, planning classes, and just generally being awesome.
So my horribly, no good, very bad day was made all better because this is what I want to do with my life! This program sounds amazing, and I am soooo excited to try and participate! Their selection is kind of limited, but hopefully I'll stand out.
I don't have any fun food to go with this fun and inspiring day for me. BUT I have big plans for this weekend, get ready for a delicious dessert post next week. Here's a hint:
It's not quite a brownie, but it's not quite a cake either.

Jan 13, 2011

Chicken Marsala And Some Impromptu Advertising

Hey everybody! Sorry I've been MIA for the last two weeks, I've been really busy and I had a serious case of writers block. Seriously, I've been trying to write a post for the last week and just failed completely. While I was considering what to do about this case of writers block, I created this video! It's an impromptu ad for The College housewife. Send it around, tell your friends! For some reason, blogger won't let me put up a video, so here's the link until I get the video working.


You may have noticed that this video connects to The College Housewife Youtube page. That's right people. This blog now has a video channel. Which means that I finally have a way of putting up videos for you all! Check it out!

And now for food! This is something I made over winter break and it was a rousing success. This recipe for Chicken Marsala had been in my "try this stuff" folder for a really long time and I finally decided to make it for my family. Everybody loved it! The only thing I would do differently is to perhaps add more wine and butter to create a richer sauce. I was serving 7 people, and there wasn't quite enough sauce to go around. I also added a sliced onion because it seemed wrong to not have caramelized onions involved. So, if your in the mood for some fancy Italian food, try this out.

Chicken Marsala
Adapted from The Comfort of Cooking
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2-1 cup flour
salt and pepper
4 slices of bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 onion, sliced
2 cups white mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp tomato paste
1 1/2 cups marsala wine
Juice of 1 lemon
4 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp parsley, chopped
1 lb pasta, cooked and drained according to directions

Prepare chicken breasts by patting dry and dredging in flour, salt, and pepper. In a hot skillet, add about 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil and fry dredged chicken until cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate and put in a warm oven.
In the same pan, fry the bacon (or pancetta if you're feeling fancy) until brown and crisp. Transfer bacon to a paper towel lined plate, then cook the onions in the bacon grease. If there's a lot of grease left over and it makes you uncomfortable to eat that much delicious fatty goodness, go ahead and take some out. Cook the onions until soft, then add the mushrooms. The mushrooms should cook until they begin to brown, about 5 minutes. At this point, the onions will also start to caramelize. Add garlic, tomato paste, and cooked bacon and stir for one minute.
Then turn off the heat. I repeat. Turn. Off. The. Heat. I will not be responsible for singed eyebrows. Once the pan is off the heat, add the wine. Then turn the heat on high and scrape the bottom of the pan, getting all the delicious brown bits off of it. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes until reduced by half. Then add the lemon juice and stir. Whisk in the butter 1 Tbsp at a time until the sauce is thickened. Serve mushrooms over pasta, then add a chicken cutlet and chopped parsley. Make sure to get plenty of sauce on there!

Jan 9, 2011

Really Google? Really?

Sorry it's been so long since my last post everybody. I got back to school about a week ago and I've been crazy busy trying to figure out my class schedule and starting the ridiculous amount of homework the professors assigned for the first week. I'm taking three upper-division history classes, which means that I am now really involved in the history major. I'm taking Early Modern English History (basically a history of the Tudors), Modern World History, and Asian American History. So for the next ten weeks reading will be my life. I seriously cannot believe the amount of reading that I have to do! The thought of managing all this reading was stressing me out, so I decided to go check out my blog and see what else I could do with the new design. (Speaking of, what do you guys think of it?) So, as I was roaming around the blogspot design page, I noticed a button I had never seen before: Stats. I was intrigued. What sort of statistics would blogspot be tracking besides page views? Well, let me tell you. A lot of amazing and hilarious stuff.
For example: I apparently have an international readership! Check this out! People in Pakistan, India, The Netherlands, and Russia are reading my stuff!

But the highlight of my day came from a gem of a section regarding search keywords. Apparently I come up in a number of searches, some more logical than others. Here's the first search box:

Ok, not so bad, that makes sense. Looking for apple pie and sopaipillas, which are super delicious. Not sure why someone searched "s not much for celebrating," but hey, whatever. But then I saw this window...

PERFECT BUTTS?! Who the heck searched that and found my blog? I mean, I'm flattered that I came up in that search, but really? Of course, now that I've written "perfect butts" in all caps, I suppose that my blog will now turn up in that search more often.
Also, I love that "smashing housewife" linked up to my blog. Yes, I am quite smashing. And all my readers are having a smashing good time, thank you.
Anyway, this little stats button made my day, and I wanted to share it with all of you. Thanks for searching such weird things and contributing to my posts viewed count. :)