Friday, December 2, 2011

Season ALL, literally everything, seriously

I've been feeling quite uninspired the last few weeks. Lets see, I had 2.5 Thanksgiving celebrations, ate Thanksgiving leftovers about 4 times, and have been hungover from too much turkey for the past week. I don't ever want to eat Thanksgiving food AGAIN!!!!*

*true for about 355 more days

I went grocery shopping this week, the first time I've been since my T-day shopping extravaganza to get all my T-day ingredients. Its true what they say, you know, you should never go shopping hungry. All I could think about the entire day was all my favorite food items. So I decided you know what? I'm going to put all my favorite things together and it has to taste good because they're all my favorite things. Right? Right. Sort of.

Dinner was...interesting. But so good, so so good.

My favorite things? Artichoke hearts. Roasted peppers. Cauliflower. Noodles. Sriracha. Whats that? You don't know what Sriracha is? Oh man. Sit down. We're gonna talk.

Sriracha is like heaven on earth. And I feel like for me to say that is a big deal. I'm very against seasonings that I can't buy raw. Examples: Mrs. Dash, Seasoned Salt, Lawrys (although I do love Lawrys, holy smokes). Every time I reach to buy a mixed seasoning I have this inner war between the angels and demons.

You know your steak will be amazing if you buy that spicy honey mesquite seasoning.
But what if i don't like it.
You know you'll like it.
But then i can only use it on steak, and only if I'm in the mood for spicey honey mesquite flavor.
Who cares, its worth it.
But what if I love it SOO much, that i use it on everything, and it becomes my go to seasoning, and then it goes off the market and every dish I make from then on tastes like crap because I can't get my secret ingredient anymore.
You know you can always buy some on Ebay or something.
But what if someone says Hmm, is this SPICY HONEY MESQUITE BLENDED SEASONING!? Busted. Totally busted. They'll know I'm a fraud and a weak person because I can't make a spice concoction on my own.

My hovering hand in front of the pre-blended spice rack quickly drops and I keep walking. But Sriracha? Wow. Wow. WOW! I put this in everything. "Hmmm, SOMEthing is missing and I can't figure out what it is, lets just add sriracha. OMG Perfecto!" Spaghetti sauce, the meatballs that go into the spaghetti, baked chicken, ground beef, on and on and on. Its like this spicy amazing flavor. I can't explain it. Just go get some for heaven's sake.

ANYWAY, back to my din-din of faves. Here goes.

1 Baked chicken with a little Ragu parmesan sauce, nothing special (except Sriracha, duh).
2 Sauteed and seasoned cauliflower, artichoke hearts, and roasted peppers (I put capers back on the shelf because my conglomeration was getting out of hand).
3 Pasta with a little Ragu (and Sriracha)
4 and Brussel Sprouts. What? Yep. I've only had them once in my life and I loved them. Then the entire rest of my life everytime they came up in conversation and I admited to such, the other person would say "no, you don't love brussel sprouts, trust me. You must have been eating something else." But this was MY DINNER so I did what I wanted.

I stumbled on THIS recipe last week, and did it, and I was RIGHT!!! I do love brussel sprouts. And in case you don't want to check the recipe out, I'll just go ahead and tell you what it is. Bsprouts covered in honey, lime, and.............SRIRACHAAAAAAAAA!!!!

*pronounced sir-raw-cha (say it with me)

Monday, November 7, 2011

New Project

So I've had this old white desk for a few years now that my cousin gave me when I needed furniture after moving into an apartment by myself. It had been sloppily painted white, with ugly red knobs on the drawers, but I kept imaging how pretty it would be if I stripped it down and stained or repainted it. Here I am almost 3 years later and I've finally decided to tackle this project.

I've been thinking about painting it black. I think black furniture in a bedroom would look really great, plus black is easy to incorporate a color scheme around. I bought this stuff called Klean-Strip Stripper. Its in an aerosol can and you spray it really thick over the painted surface and it bubbles the paint up, then you can scraped it off smoothly. Pretty cool stuff. It took my 3 full coats on my three drawers to get even close to the bottom.

First was the sloppy, thick white paint. Next was an awful pink coat. Then there was a tan layer. Then green, then black, then the wood. I couldn't believe how many times it had been painted. By the time I scraped/sanded off any thick paint, I was left with something I'm not quite sure how I feel about.

It looks like it was painted black, sanded down smooth, then painted green, sanded down smooth, then painted tan. So the stripper isn't eating off the black and green. But when I sand it by hand, its giving it an antiqued look that I am falling in love with. The picture doesn't do it justice - its blurry and looks yellow. But imagine an old chalkboard thats greyed and no longer black. Thats the underneath color. Then this gorgeous green I would imagine as a color of some bird's egg, like a pastel baby green. Together, they are beautiful. I'm imagining it in a big open kitchen, with silver knobs. Maybe I'll paint the desk a slate color and keep the drawers the slate/green. I don't know, but this project is completely different than when it started.

I haven't made any sure decisions yet. I'm going to finish up the final drawer, and do the desk, and survey what I have at hand. I'm thinking about getting silver knobs very today...because I can't NOT use the desk for the weeks its going to be before I get the whole thing finished, but I can't stand the way those stupid red handles look. Any ideas? Black knobs? Silver? White? Black desk? Desk matching the drawers? I have too many options!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm feeling overwhelmed.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Mason Jars Saved My Life

I don't know what I ever did before I discovered the greatness of mason jars. If you do not have these in your life 100%, you are not living. Using one every now and then doesn't count; these things are so great.

     We chop up our lettuce and stuff it in mason jars. One stuffed-to-the-max jar makes a perfect size dinner salad. It also keeps FOREVER. I think the longest I've gone before eating my lettuce was 2 weeks. 2 WEEKS!!!!!!!!!! Granted, it was starting to be a little wilty, but 2 weeks in the fridge should have turned it from pink to brown to DEAD. When I have jars full of lettuce in the fridge, its easy for me to just grab it and go in the morning...perfect, simple lunch.

     Way back when I made crepes for breakfast, I sliced up my strawberries and bananas the night before. Bananas....sorta like avocados and apples, they turn brown FAST. Well this picture was the day after, and look how NOT brown they are! They stayed fresh in there for a few days, actually. It was fantastic. No more brown 'nanas!

     You have no idea how fun it is to drink out of a mason jar until you've actually tried it.


     I made a batch of my mom's salsa and canned it. It was perfect because I could share with everyone. You want some salsa?, have a jar. AMAZING. And this is embarrassing, but yes its 9:43 AM and I just successfully ate half a jar of salsa. Told you it was good!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Best Birthday Ever

My sweet boyfriend threw me a surprise birthday party this past weekend since I was turning the big 25 (woohoo, I can rent a car without paying an extra fee now!!!!!!!!!!!)

I've never had a surprise party before, but he did a pretty great job.
We were supposed to be going to a friends house for a costume party. He came over early to get ready with me and drive me...he said he was picking me up so I didn't have to drive since it was my birthday. I fell for that one. Little did I know that the whole time he was at my house, all my friends were sneaking about getting things ready. I was actually mad at him when he finally showed up to my house around 6:30 because it was MY BIRTHDAY and I'd been sitting at home, bored and alone, a good part of the day. RUDE!!!

We left my house around 8:30. I tried to convince him to stop for food because I was starving, and to stop for candy for my Little Red Riding Hood basket, but he said we would stop on the way to his friends. Fine.

Then he blindfolded me at the stop sign by his home. Well, I blindfolded myself. He had these ridiculous claw fingernails on and couldn't use his fingers. When we walked in the house and he uncovered my eyes, everyone yelled and I swear an entire minute went by before I could even form a solid thought in my head or speak.
I remember that every single face I saw, a thought would flit through my head about where they had told me they were supposed to be. Amanda...aren't you supposed to be with your boyfriend at a friends? were helping get things together for Lindsey's party that you HAD to go to because you bailed on her last year for my birthday. Alisha...Didn't you have plans with your sister?
It slowly started forming in my head that omg everyone, EVERYONE, had lied to me for weeks! EEVVERRYYOONNNEEEE. Even my sisters who had called me to tell me happy birthday THAT MORNING! I finally found my voice and brain and started saying hello. It was so overwhelming, but fantastic! As the night went on, more and more people came to wish me happy birthday, I felt soooo loved!!!!!

I'm not sure my boyfriend will ever be able to outdo himself again! He was so proud!!! =P

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


I went to the circus for the first time since I was too young to remember the event. Seeing it as an adult made me realize how sad the animals lives must be living in cages all day, and how strange some of the people working in the circus are.
None the less, the elephants were most definitely my favorite act. They even had a baby elephant that went right along with the big ones just like it was supposed to. It was precious. It made me want an elephant. Just like I wanted a chameleon after watching tangled. And a zebra after getting to pet one.I still want all of those, btw.
Some day......

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Halloween can be really scary

These are real. I saw these IN REAL LIFE.


Halloween came a little early. Yikes...
(feel free to zoom, it makes it even better)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Devil Cooks Too

I experienced something new last night. Shallots.

I tried out an interesting recipe I got from the recipe app Epicurious - chicken with asparagus, capers, and shallots.
1. I love capers.
2. I love asparagus.
3. I love artichoke (which I promised I would add in any way possible.)
4. What are shallots?

I called my mom and she told me they're mini onions, and I managed to find them in the produce section. They're so cute!! I thought why am I not always cooking with these little guys, they're adorable and I bet they're delicious. I needed 12 ounces, which was 4 bags, which was about 16 shallots in all.
I get home and start peeling these cuties. And what a surprise I was in for.

Shallots are straight from the devil.

Onions always make my eyes water, as is true with everyone. But my eyes were burning so bad I almost burst into tears a couple of times because I still had so many to peel and slice. I gave up slicing half way through and used the chopper instead. I didn't care if the recipe said sliced, my dinner guests weren't going to know the difference. I just hope there wasn't any snot in their onions from my burning runny nose. Just kidding...

I swore over and over the entire 20 minutes it took me to get those suckers sliced/chopped that I would NEVER cook with shallots again for the rest of my life. Oh, but how convenient, there was an entire half cup left over. I bagged them up and put them in the fridge, figuring I'll toss them in something this week.

Lo! The entire refrigerator stinks now. Those onions were in there ONE NIGHT and you can't open the fridge without getting kicked in the face.
Big things do come in small packages. In small, pingpong ball sized, precious little packages.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Simmering Stir Fry

I'm not exactly sure what "stir fry" is. I mean, I know what stir fry means, but if I'm ordering it off of a menu, I don't think I really know what it is. Does it have rice? Are noodles in there sometimes? Do you pre-cook the rice? Does it have to have soy sauce cooked in?????? I'm so confused.

Anyway, I bought a bag of frozen veggies at Target the other day..."Stir Fry Medley" or something like that. You can never go wrong with a medley, that's for sure. I've been craving this medley but have been afraid to use it because I don't know the stir-fry rules. So I decided to make my own.

Simmering is quite possibly my favorite way to make food amazing. If I'm not sure if somethings done, or I need it to stay warm, or I want it to really soak the juices in, or if my bread in the oven still has 7 minutes, I simmer. Its pretty much my go-to move. When in doubt, simmer.

I chopped up my chicken, tossed it in with a little olive oil and sesame oil (pretty much an asian-food staple), seasoned it, and let it cook. Now listen, I'm a freak about meat. I never know when its done and my eyes have this magical way of seeing pink in the chicken even if its not there. So, to combat this fear, I just simmer it even when I think it might be done. I also hate microwaves - before I moved in with my current roommate, I lived microwaveless for an entire year and I never missed it once. Truly. So, how do you cook frozen vegetables if you don't want to use the microwave and want the juices/flavors of your chicken to mingle? SIMMER!

I tossed in a little soy sauce for flavor, tons of lime juice (can never go wrong there), put a lid on and let it simmer until my veggies were nice and soft.

I'd say if this wasn't really stir fry, well I don't really care.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fatty McFat

This is disgusting, and embarrassing.

Let me just say in my defense, I haven't been able to dump my recycle trashcan in a REALLY long time so these have accrued. I used to never ever drink soda. But then...

Albertson's right up the street sells those long 24 cases of soda for 3 for 10. That's 72 sodas, which is like 14 cents a drink. 14 cents!!! We're like back in 1920 guys, is this possible? But that's not what did it to me, that's just what led to a stockpile of Dr. Pepper at the house. What really did it is the refrigerator. Yep, the good ole fridge.

Something is wrong with our fridge. There are 2, sometimes 3 spots (not shelves, SPOTS) in the fridge that if something is there it will freeze. We have tried adjusting the temperature, even blamed it on the location of the fans, but really there is no explanation. The very bottom crisper is one of the culprits. Well, parts of the crisper. There are 2 spots in there that will FREEZE your drink rock solid. The rest, just fine. But not "just fine", no these are GREAT. These are the best dr peppers I've ever had in my entire life. They get so cold down there that little ice crystals form in the drink. If you'd ever had a Dr. Pepper with ice crystals in it you will realize its the greatest drink on earth.

Me and my roommate compared one day. She got just a plain cold DP (borringgg) out of the fridge, at the same time I took a magical DP from the cold depths of the fridge. We taste tested both and agreed that the ice chips DP was waaayyy better. Since then, I drink DP constantly at home so I can get that mouthwatering refreshing feel of LITERALLY ICE COLD DP. It is delicious. I'm on a kick and I take one to work with me almost every day. Its embarrassing. And disgusting. But whats probably even more gross is that yes, I just sat and dug every can out of the recycle bin. Don't judge me.

Turn your fridge down a couple notches and see if you can get this glorious phenomenon.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Naan Pizza

I made what I would like to think of as a healthy pizza this past weekend. Healthy by my standards basically means homemade. So, it could quite possibly been worse than the disgusting $5 hot-n-ready's Little Caesar makes that actually aren't even $5 any more, just like many things on the $1 menu are deceptively creeping up in price.

So, healthy pizza. I bought Naan bread...its these little round flatbreads you could probably use for anything but they scream pizza to me. (why else would you make ROUND bread? duh)
Italian sausage, mozarella cheese, and marinara sauce, viola.

looks like ground beef!

The italian sausage comes in links, so you could either slice them really thin, or chop them up like ground beef (or ground turkey, I know some people love that). I lightly covered the Naan bread with olive oil before I topped it only because my favorite pizza place offers garlic and olive oil as a base for cooking and its sooooooo delicious. So, it probably made no difference at all to my pizza, but I like to pretend it did. Next we layered on the sauce...and might I suggest being picky with your marina. Whatever we got was runny and not very pizza-ey. Next time I'm going to try Newmans (you can never go wrong there). topped with mozarella, meat, more sauce, and thinly sliced tomatoes. Oven for 15 minutes at 400 degrees, and done.

It tasted fantastic despite looking a little scary. It didn't really come out in perfect little triangle slices. But never judge a book by its cover!!!

Little Gentlemen

My oldest sister is participated in a craft fair Saturday and I decided at the last minute to whip together something crafty to put in to sell. I've been seeing these cute little onsies pop up on the internet world a bit lately, so I thought I'd try my hand at a few...which turned into several...but they're sooo cute I wish I wore onesies myself! Well, I suppose I could but....hmm, halloween costume idea? Adult diapers, giant onesies...nah, too far. Anywho, here they are!


These were so ridiculously easy to make, I couldn't believe it. I spent $20 on onesies and $10 on fabric, including Under Wunder...Wonder Under....whatever its called. Stop one, I drew and cut out my shapes. I arranged them onto my underwonder based on the fabric I wanted to use, that way I could iron everything at once then cut it out. Then I traced them.

Next I spread the material out underneath the UW, ironed it on, and cut out my shapes. The directions on the UW are simple to special secrets on how its done. I did find that once I cut out my shapes, the longer it had been sinced I'd ironed them the easier it was to get the backing off to iron onto the shirt. I had a couple that I kept overnight to finish in the morning and those were the two easiest to peel!

The most fun part about it is that you could make any little print you wanted! I really wanted to do a little elephant, or maybe a giraffe, but my drawing skills aren't that advanced. I had so much fun making these that I went back for a second round a few days later once my creative juices started flowing again!

PS...I don't know why my pics are uploading sideways. Annoying...
Now go make some onesies! (or feel free to buy mine =P )

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Eat Your Veggies!

I’m currently obsessed with vegetables. I slice, dice, chop, or shred as many veggies as I can these days into just about any dish possible. Its really quite exciting. I can say Hm, lets eat chicken for dinner, and its that easy. Cook the chicken and add a million vegetables in any form and I’m done!

I’m all about easy, good, and fast. Last night I made baked chicken. I used to be afraid of baked chicken. I used to be afraid of cooked chicken, period. These days I’m venturing out with eggs and bread crumbs for breaded chicken, stove-top chicken, finely chopped chicken, etc. Tonight was good old slow-cooked oven baked chicken.

I cut two gigantic chicken breasts width-wise into fat slices. I lightly covered them in olive oil then seasoned them with randoms from my spice cabinet…garlic powder, sea salt, pepper, chicken seasoning, lime (I love lime in/on everything), and Newman’s Northern Lite Italian Dressing (my ffaaaaaaaavvvveeeeeeeee dressing ever. I love it so much I put it in my macaroni and cheese sometimes…shoutout to my big bro for introducing me to that delicacy).
Baked it on 325 for 35, then 350 for 20. I probably would have been fine on 350 for 45, but I was afraid I’d overcook it or something so I kept having to cut it and check it and add it longer.
When I had about 15 minutes left, I sautéed sliced red peppers and jalapenos. Jalapenos take on this oddly sweet flavor when their de-seeded and sautéed. Love them. I piled the sautéed veggies on top of the chicken to keep them warm until we were ready to serve.

We had salad with all the trimmings with the Newman’s dressing I used to season the chicken, then some steamed frozen veggies. It was delicious.

Here's to healthy vegetables!!!!!!!

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Great Ice Cream Adventure

Last week was my boyfriend’s 29th birthday. I got him exactly what he wanted for his birthday which was all well and good, but I started feeling bad because you see, he’s a twin. And his twin doesn’t have an awesome amazing girlfriend to get HIM exactly what HE wanted for his birthday. So I asked him what his favorite dessert was, and told him I’d make him a cake. Lucky him.
He says “ice cream cake”. Eh, no biggie, right?

Well, not only have I never made an ice cream cake, I’ve pretty much never made a cake before, other than maybe once or twice making a crappy cake right out of the box. And of course our family’s annual Harvey Wallbanger cake which happens to be the best cake ever. But that one doesn’t count, it is most definitely it’s own beast…so much so that its not even really a cake, it’s more like a little piece of heaven. I’ll share that one another day.

Anyhow, so an ice-cream cake it is, I told myself. I worked out a plan, bought my materials, and the great 3-day Ice-Cream mountain challenge began. Here’s my steps if you ever want to take on this wacky challenge yourself…

Step one: gathering tools
I had to think ahead for every step of this trek. Okay, so I needed a cake pan. What size? I have to layer these. How many cakes do I buy/make. If it’s too big, it won’t fit in a cake box.
I stopped in at Party City (first time, fell in love, holy smokes). I bought a pretty small cake pan…well, the only one that would fit the only square cardboard cake box they had…which I also needed. Cake pan, cake box, little aluminum foil doily, candles.

Step two: Day 1
I spread saran wrap down in the bottom of my cake pan. My ice cream was soft from the drive home from the grocery store, so I scooped it into the pan and mashed it down making it fill the pan. I covered it with wrap and froze it. After a few hours, I pulled it out, uncovered it, and rolled the top with a rolling pin so it would be perfectly flat on top.

Next, I sliced strawberries and generously poured sugar over the top and shook the bowl around. I love strawberries with sugar, especially when its sat a couple days and really soaked in.

For my decoration, I wanted something really sparkly. I bought Hershey bars, and Hershey cookies and cream bars, and sliced along the side with a potato peeler. Gorgeous results <3

Step three: Day 2
Time to bake my cake(s). I originally bought 2 cake mixes (chocolate and red velvet) and envisioned 5 layers of cake/icecream, but once all my supplies were gathered, it was apparent only 3 would fit in the box. So I needed two round cakes from my one red velvet box. I baked the first one (awesome) and used a long knife to slice the top off using the top edge of the pan as a guide making the top of the cake flat instead of rounded. Once the second cake was baked, I realized I’d used too much cake for the first one, and my second cake was a measly little layer. Awesome…  I went ahead and sliced most of the top off using my eyes to hopefully create a flat surface. That worked out, thankfully.
Next I poured my soaked strawberries, juice and all, into the blender and pureed the heck out of them.

Step three: Day 3
Oh my. So with my roommate and a friend, we began the cake stacking/decorating. All went well with stacking cake, icecream, cake, then we started frosting it. First, Blue Bell Vanilla icecream melts REALLY fast. I wish I had a picture of the three of us standing around this cake trying to frost it as fast as we could while the icecream is melting down the sides.
We frantically put it in the freezer and reevaluated.
#1, frosting doesn’t stick to icecream.
After about 30 minutes, we removed the cake and frosted again.
#2, frosting doesn’t stick to icecream even when its frozen solid.
After another break/freeze/re-evaluate, I pulled it back out, finished off the frosting, and scraped all the frosting remnants off the icecream so it was a smooth side. Break/freeze

Next I drizzled the puree over the top and began sprinkling the top with the chocolate shavings. My roommate and I got a little too excited, and perhaps went overboard on the cutest little chocolate spirals ever. I tried to pull some off later, but they were frozen into the puree, sadly.

I had to cover the icecream somehow, so I poured puree all along the top edge of the cake and let it run down. Break/freeze
When I looked in the freezer some time later, it was quite a mess. I was a little worried. I took a knife and sliced the runoff from the bottom edge of the cake to get a clean finish, then picked it up and set it on the doily in the cake box. Viola, it was gorgeous.

Step four: Eat
I was a little worried about the looks of my cake. All I kept imagining every time I looked at it was the melting frantic mess we had when we started icing it. When the waiter brought it from the freezer for dinner, though, nobody believed I’d made it. They thought it was beautiful, and accused me of buying it since it was in an actual cake box. They all ooh’d and aah’d over it, and almost the entire cake was eaten. Not just a bite or two off each plate, everyone finished their entire slice!!!! It was exciting.
In their defense, though, we were outside on the patio and it was pretty dark, so of course the cake looked magnificent! Still, I think it was a pretty happy birthday.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Holy Crepe, Batman!

I love cooking.
I love gathering, chopping, slicing, grating, and mixing my ingredients the night before so I not only have an opportunity to familiarize myself with my recipe, but so I also can just toss everything together the next night and have dinner ready lickety split (pun intended).
I also love cleanup. I took a cooking class in high school and since we only had an hour each day to prep, cook, and cleanup, we were brainwashed into doing dishes as we went. Its the greatest feeling to pile your plate with your brand new meal and look back into the kitchen as you head to the table and see a freshly Lysol'd countertop and no dishes in the sink. *hurray*

This morning I wanted to try something new for breakfast. I have been on a sausage kick lately after realizing it takes 5 minutes to cook as opposed to the 15 required for cripsy bacon. I've eaten enough sausage at this point to last me the rest of the year. So I made crepes.
As usual, I spent last night slicing up strawberries and bananas as I knew that would be the most time consuming part of the morning. Ten minutes in front of the blender, and five in front of the stove, and I had the most delightful breakfast.

The original recipe can be found here, but I never make a dish from a website without first reading the user comments. People always have the greatest tips. So here is the tweaked version adding in all the reader's suggestions.

  •  3 eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican vanilla
- Blend all ingredients to a smooth lumps. 30 seconds.
- Skillet on medium, add a dash of butter and spread with a brush or napkin. I spread it up the sides, too, to make sure any part of the batter that touches the pan cooks evenly
- Tilt pan and pour batter at the top and let it spread on its own. Start with a small amount and add until you can't see the bottom of the pan through.
- Cook until the sides start to curl, then flip it. The second side doesn't take as long as the first. About 3 minutes total.
- Fill with ANYTHING your heart desires, fold one side to cover the filling, then roll it so the fold is on the bottom.
- Top with anything else your heart desires, sprinkle with powdered sugar, and enjoy. Yummmmmmmm