Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Steff tries her hand at baking...

And it was a SUCCESS! Chocolate pumpkin cupcake glory success to be exact. Good enough to make grown men weep. They were that damn good. Okay, well maybe no one cried over them, but they were super fantastically tasty, no denying it. And it was all thanks to the million year old can of pumpkin that we've had sitting in the pantry at work since November. I'm not sure if everyone was just waiting for someone else to do something with it, but truth of the matter is, no one wanted to make a pie so it was just going to keep on sitting there. So being the clever little workhorse that I am, I decided to rectify that situation and make a treat for everyone. Best part about this little slice of heaven is that it's super super easy. I can't bake worth beans on a good day, and even I didn't manage to ball it up. Devil's Food cake mix? Check. Whipped cream cheese frosting? Check. Ancient can of pumpkin? CHECK! The outcome was nothing short of bliss, and I say this as a non-chocolate lover. The pumpkin really mellows out the flavor of the chocolate and adds a certain "harvesty" flavor to the the profile that makes for a most excellent little dessert.

The frosting was a bit more difficult for me to sell myself on initially. I have a strong dislike for store-bought frosting, but I'm also inherently lazy and had no desire to whip up cream cheese and butter and what not to make it myself. So I bought the whipped cream cheese frosting, dumped a whole bunch of cocoa powder in it (the bitterness of the chocolate really helped tone down that sickly sweet taste of the frosting), some cinnamon and nutmeg and Voila! A frosting that didn't make my teeth want to rot out on the spot, which is always a bonus. So go ahead and try these, and if anyone weeps over the goodness of them by all means, photograph the event and mock them until the end of days. 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Midwinter Burger Lovin'

One thing that I love doing is cooking, I could literally spend hours upon hours in a kitchen just creating things. I like to do what makes me happy, and cooking does that for me. So we're starting off this blog post with an epic veggie burger recipe that I whipped up last night in my miniscule kitchen. Believe me when I say that there is NO space in that thing. I have to use the cutting board on the stove, mix things on my dining room table and set up my food processor where the dish-rack ought to be...right next to the sink. Safety First! :)

I'm sick and tired of going to restaurants and getting robbed blind because I want to order a "vegetarian option." Which undoubtedly is always a flavorless veggie burger that tastes like mush and has a suspicious orange color to it, and nobody should want to eat that. If I'm paying out the nose for my dinner, it better not only taste good, but look dazzling WHILE being delicious. So I made my own dazzlingly delicious "burger" that fufills all necessary nom-nomming requirements without even coming close to breaking the bank! Colorful sweet peppers, crunchy onions and corn and delectable black beans and rice make this really hearty and filling, with the extra flavor kick coming in from the fresh cilantro that's blending with the mix.

 You won't need much in the way of making these, just a food processor (or good blender) a saucepan and saute pan and a bowl to mix your ingredients in. This is literally a mix and mash type of recipe; you mix your ingredients together...and you mash 'em into patties! And this recipe makes 10 solid sized patties too, which can be wrapped in wax paper, sealed in a plastic bag and tossed in the freezer for a quick meal for another time. Serve it up on a wrap with some melted cheese, veggies and Sriracha and you can't go wrong!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Steel-cut Breakfast

Breakfast is pretty basic, you're supposed to eat it, get a nice good ZAP of energy and putter your way throughout the day, chalk full of piss and vinegar. And it's all thanks to that wonderful little meal, breakfast. Right? I mean, that's what they always told us in health class; "Eat breakfast, it's the most important meal of the day. Energy and blah blah blah." Yeah, well when it comes right down to it 98% of the things you genreally eat for breakfast are absolute crap that do nothing for you OR your body. You end up starving by lunch, debating exactly how edible that open bag of crackers you left in your desk two months ago might be. And I don't know about the rest of you, but being bone-gnawingly hungry doesn't really translate into energetic and zesty in my book. It usually means I want to curl up under my desk and nap away the hunger (or cry a little bit).

And it all has to do with the junk we pump our stomachs full of, first thing in the morning. No one is asking you to bust out your juicer and make some green lemonade (although it is freakishly delicious) but you may want to step away from that ice cream bucket sized bowl full of hearts, stars, horseshoes, clovers and blue moons... Your body can't feasibly sustain itself in a healthy manner off of all of that junk. It sees all of that simple sugar and burns through it SO fast, henceforth your late morning crash and gut-wrenching hunger. Try something a little more wholesome, something that's sweet but filling, healthier AND delicious. You know what fits that bill?  Hmmm? Steel-cut oats. Topped off with some milk (or coconut milk...YUM), raspberries and a sprinkle of raw sugar. It tastes so fresh and delicious and it actually sticks with you throughout the morning so you're not ready to die of hunger come lunch time. Plus one of the nice things about steel-cut oats vs. instant oatmeal is that it actually has some texture and flavor to it, not to mention its far less processed and all around better for you than instant oatmeal (or your junky, overpriced breakfast cereals). And look at it, it's just so dang PRETTY!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cold Weather Food

So I was at Open Mic Night at Beaner's last night enjoying some really fantastic music and I stepped outside for a bit and happened to look up. I was moderately unimpressed with what I saw...SNOW. Ugh. I may be a Minnesota girl to my very core, but I never like having to see the first signs of winter. Two words...cold and uncomfortable. I tried all the usual tricks, like closing my eyes, pretending it wasn't happening, maybe it was ash (you know, from an invisible volcano) but it was still there every time I looked back up. Needless to say, it didn't stick but it threw me into serious winter cooking gear. And what warms you up when its super cold outside? A hot bowl of lentil chili, obviously!
I scavenged our cabinets and fridge and came up with a bag of lentils, stewed tomatoes, an onion and a corn and bean mixture that i had made a few days ago for burritos. And the cooking extravaganza commenced. :) The lentils added a totally different flavor to the chili, almost a rich nutty flavor (as weird as that might sound) and gave it a really wholesome harvest blend flavor. Made it perfect for a late fall/early winter warming meal. One of the best things about one pot meals are that you can literally just throw everything in the pot and do a little stirring and walk away. Having meals that are pretty hassle free are a life-saver in an apartment that has no kitchen space and counter room for cooking. We have to use our dining room table to prep food on and sometimes the more I have to do, the more frustrated I tend to get with such a minimal amount of space to work in. Meals like this are a lifesaver, because with two huge dogs that try to help me cook and a roommate who likes to pop in and snack on whatever I'm making, space is at a premium in the kitchen. But at least I know I always have other people to help me out with the excessive amounts of food that tends to get made. :) So make it, eat it and enjoy it! 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Oh Halloween, it's only been one day and I already miss you. Probably my favorite time of year, hands down. Its one of the few times when you can legitimately dress like a total goon and get away with it. This year I decided to get all zombified. Because everyone needs a little zombie in their lives. I'm sure of it. The original premise for the costume was going to be a zombie pin up girl, but after (foolishly) throwing my outfit in the dryer it was deemed WAY too small to wear in public. I mean, that sucker got tiiiight and short. And while that may be some girls' cup of tea, it doesn't really float my boat. So I raided my huge stash of dresses, found my sweet little navy blue one that I got from ModCloth a while ago and decided to go for a zombie Alice in Wonderland.
Needless to say, it was flippin AWESOME. My roommate, Sam, got all dolled up as Alex from A Clockwork Orange and we zombied up a couple of friends and hit the fancy streets of Duluth. :) I talked to a homeless man who wanted me to bite him (I did NOT do it, eww), ran into a crew dressed up as the boys from Shaun of the Dead (one of my absolute favorite movies ever!), and had an overall awesome night.
I think a lot of what made this year so much fun was that I decided to make my costume instead of buying one. All I had to buy was some fake blood and liquid latex for my wounds! It's probably the only way to go, you'll be able to guarantee that you won't run into anyone else with your same costume, plus you get to tailor it to how you want it to look. Because I saw a couple of Alice's...but none of them looked even remotely like mine (although the blood probably had a lot to do with it). So think about it for next year, don't waste money on a costume that you'll (probably) only wear once. Raid your closet and get crafty. And if all else fails, just throw some fake blood on it. :)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

You put WHAT in the brownies??

I put basil in 'em snitchez! Fact. Maybe not the most typical thing for a college student to try to put in her baked goods, but I like to surprise folks every now and again. ;) This one came into being at work (again!) because we had a very abundant basil plant that producing SO much that I needed to put it in Everything. So I made some brownies and it just seemed like a good idea to give 'em a little extra something. Rumor has it that they weren't too shabby either!
Chocolate and basil are actually very complimentary to each other, as unlikely as it may seem. I remember the first time I heard about it was when I was watching Food Network and Giada went and made a little sandwich in her panini press with brie, basil and milk chocolate. What the ...??? I didn't ever try it, but needless to say, the idea of chocolate and basil was planted. The chocolate and cheese comes as no surprise to an avid Ween fan...but I digress, seeing as there is no cheese in this recipe. Sometimes the only way to figure something out is to just give it a try. And if it blows you can always feed it to the neighbors...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Who Doesn't Love a Sandwich?!

Only a bizarre food communist, that's who! As far as I'm concerned they are one of the most satisfying, tasty quick treats out there! This one is a sure-fire winner seeing as it has all the right "stuff." Veggies, cheese, bread and a zesty sauce. It's a win win type of sandwich. Without a doubt. I experimented with this one while I was at work. We wanted something quick and easy and totally delicious...and it happened! Honestly, living up on the Iron Range of Minnesota I ran into a lot of carnivores who only partook in two things...meat and more meat. But luckily enough for me they didn't mind me throwing in a vegetarian meal or three a week, as long as they still tasted good. And I have to give credit where credit is due, everyone was WAY more open-minded about it than I expected them to be. And because of that the house I worked in ate better, healthier and more creative foods than most of the north country combined. So try this one out. There isn't anything in it that would disappoint you, be you a meatist or a veggies-only type of person. What's the worst that could happen? :)