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

Halloween!

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? :)

So...It's Been a Minute...

...And now it's almost Halloween! And I've been absolutely MIA for the past couple of months, so I apologize. I had a lot going on with the move and school starting again, and after a few harassing comments from some select people, I decided it was time to get this pony show back on the road. I suppose an update on life wouldn't be completely unnecessary at this point. I've had quite a bit on my plate, including trying to get back into the swing of things with school and starting a new job. Both have been really exciting but definitely stressful but I've been a social little butterfly and there is NOTHING more fun then meeting new people and making fancy new friends.

One of the greatest things about moving to Duluth has been the music scene. This place is absolutely FULL of music...all of the time. You can go to any one of the bars on a given night and listen to great live music and have delicious food and craft beer. It's pretty hard to beat! My living situation is somewhat different than I've been used to lately, back to having a roommate and sharing space, but she is an absolute doll and a bit of a hoot, so no complaints there! My cooking has been somewhat stifled by the lack of space in our itty bitty kitchen, but I'm still doing what I can to have fun with it. I'm going to post a blog in a little bit about one of my absolute FAVORITE, quick and easy meals that I made a few times this summer. It's a total winner and even the meat eaters at work thoroughly enjoyed it! I promise. Other than that, it's been the typical life of a college student...video games, coffee, homework and music. But I promise not to disappear anymore, I realized how much I miss this...silly? Perhaps, but I've got to keep up with it. So from now on, I solemnly swear that I will not drop the ball anymore. So, until next time, Cheers!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Smiles by chocolate

Sooo...this girl has found herself having a bit of a tough go at it for the last couple of weeks. Let's just blame life and all of it's awkward situations that make for crap stories when you get older. I'm going through a really new transitional period in my life right now, for the first time EVER I'm moving somewhere new without having someone there with me. It's really freaky and really really hard. My first really big move was in 2008 when my boyfriend and I decided to relocate about 300 miles north to my present location...which might as well be Canada. It was different, and it was tough at first but it was still okay knowing that I had someone there with me. Now I'm zooming about an hour and a half south of where I am and I officially know 2 people. And the only folks moving with me are my dogs...which is awesome, don't get me wrong, it's just different. I want to do well on my own, and I know that I will, I'm just sick to my stomach terrified.

So what do most girls do when they find themselves completely freaked out and bumming? They eat chocolate. And ice cream. And just about anything else they can get their mitts on. I decided to do one better than that, I decided to make a cake and let everyone else eat it! Okay...maybe I had a piece (or three) but regardless, it was delicious and it totally made me happy. :) I can honestly say that there are very few things in life that bring me as much joy as cooking does. Fact.  Reading makes me happy. My dogs make me feel like a dorky mother. Wine makes me smile. But cooking, cooking lets me create things that make other people happy, and I think that's a pretty cool thing. So enough of me moping around like I have been for the past few days, it's time for me to get to cooking and smiling! So make this chocolate strawberry cake! I swear...it's going to make someone smile. It's so flippin good you probably won't want to share. But then again, no one says you have to!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A two-wheeled menace

So I was told, in no uncertain terms, by my darling little sister that I am in desperate need of a blog post that doesn't revolve around food. I personally happen to disagree, but to humor her for the moment I've decided to play along. I wasn't really sure what I was going to write about, but as I was driving back from Target today I saw something that for whatever irrational reason ALWAYS irritates me. Start Seeing Motorcycles, pasted onto the back of a minivan. I have to be honest with you here, I wasn't aware that I ever stopped seeing them. They are decidedly difficult to miss whilst cruising down the road, three or four abreast in a line that seems to be about six bikes long, spaced out perfectly so there is no room to pass. Clever clever move motorcyclists. I appreciate your need to not only be seen, but to hog the road on your "hog" as well. Now before anyone gets their panties in a bunch about this, I want to make it clear that I understand that these stickers are alerting and reminding drivers to be aware of motorcycles on the road and to make sure that they are not the victims of careless drivers in much bigger, enclosed vehicles. I get it. I want people to be safe, and being safe also requires some of you not to drive like ginormous turds. Including those of you who chose two wheeled modes of transportation. I don't get to buddy up with KIA souls and ride two abreast in freakishly large packs, even though I would secretly love to.


And since we're on the topic of two-wheeled modes of transportation, lets discuss another one of my personal favorites, people who bike AGAINST traffic. You have got to be kidding me. This, more than almost anything else, makes me so angry and baffled. You are more likely to be hit! How difficult is that to understand? When you decide to bike against traffic, you are moving towards traffic, which means that the approach is much faster, giving both yourself and the driver less time to react should something go wrong. And when you add that up, the odds are suddenly no longer in your favor, are they? Not to mention you generally look like a fool. It always blows my mind when I'm driving down the highway, minding my own business and lo and behold, there is a pedal biker, cruising against traffic on the side of the road. You make people nervous, you should stop. Don't be that guy.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Good to be Green

So, summer = TONS of fresh veggies, and asparagus is no exception to the rule. I won't lie to you, I used to think that asparagus was just foul, 100% pure ick. And then someone soaked it in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper and grilled it to charred perfection and I loved it. At least as long as it had the ever living cooked out of it. But now that I've most decidedly become an adult with grown up tastes (hah) I've learned that not all the vegetables I used to dislike as a child are still gross. Well, at least not asparagus. Olives on the other hand...


No denying it, this Asparagus Risotto looks totally delicious, the colors are super bold and the flavor rocks. I know that risotto can tend to be a pain in the butt to make; it requires a lot of time, constant attention and sometimes calls for ingredients that are a hassle to hunt down. None of which are the case with this fantastic gem! It's a pretty quick recipe (as far as risotto goes) and doesn't require you to be a slave to the stove. It also has pretty minimal prep work. So go ahead, make it. Eat it. Love it...I dare you! :)

Recipe
Ingredients:
1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1-1.5 inch pieces (ends discarded)
1 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs butter
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 cloves chopped garlic
1 C arborio rice
1/2 dry white wine (+ 1 Tbs extra...optional) (Reserve rest of bottle for your drinking pleasure)
3.5-4 C vegetable broth, hot (keep simmering on stove in separate small pot)
3/4 C parmesan cheese
Directions:
In a large saucepan, bring 4 C water to a boil, add asparagus.
Boil for 2 minutes, remove from hot water and put into an ice bath to retain bright green color.
Remove from ice water.
In a saucepan, melt butter and olive oil.
Add onions and garlic, cook on medium heat for about a minute.
Add rice, stirring and cooking for 2 minutes.
Pour in 1/2 C white wine, stirring until mostly absorbed.
Add broth, in 1/2 C increments at a time, allowing most of the liquid to be absorbed before adding more.
(You will use between 3.5 and 4 C of broth)
Continue to stir and cook until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, adding the extra Tbs of wine if you'd like.
Mix in the parmesan cheese and asparagus pieces and serve hot and enjoy!


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Mmm, Weddings and Soup

Well world, I officially had a fantabulous weekend! I got to celebrate a beautiful marriage between two close friends of mine and it was such a great time. I met some fabulous people that I got to spend the entire weekend with, got some crazy pictures and spent a lot of time with my sister. We were both in the wedding, so we got to do all the fun stuff like get pictures, wear fancy clothes, eat yummy food and get our hair and makeup done for us. I even got to give a toast...and I didn't pass out from paralyzing fear like I originally thought I would! Couldn't have been better. However, with all that being said, I am a bit drained of energy and haven't felt like making anything that's going to require me to do much, so soup it is!


I absolutely LOVE Asian cuisine. All of it. From anywhere in the whole flavorful continent. Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Indian, all of it. The flavors are so POW in your face tasty that it's pretty hard to resist. I made this Hot and Sour Soup recipe, and then gave it a little more doctoring of my own to give it the flavors that I love. When in doubt, you always add more garlic and Sriracha!  :) Like most of the soups that I enjoy making, this one is super simple, get your ingredients and toss them in a saucepan. Easy as pie. Which is a baffling saying in my opinion, but I suppose that's irrelevant. Anywhoozle, try the soup and love it!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Summer Treats!



What better way to treat yourself on a miserably hot day than with a fresh strawberry shortcake! I was at work the other day and someone came in a dropped off a whole bucketful of fresh picked strawberries, and I kid you not, I had the recipe for a shortcake/sweet scone in my pocket that I was planning on making later on. It was like a predestined event of epic occasions. So I baked, sent some folks to the store to pick me up some whipped cream (obviously making it from scratch would be WAY better) and created this personal slice of after dinner heaven. Try it. Love it. The recipe for the "cake" will be eventually listed in my recipe section under scone. If you just have to have it before then, just shoot me an email! :)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Oooh, more food!

Might as well post another tasty little treat for you folks to try out! Today at work I made a Couscous Garden Salad, and let me tell you, it was DELICIOUS! This dish literally has it all, big flavor, lots of veggies, and the always awesome feta cheese. There really isn't a single thing about this dish not to love, and the best part about it is that it can be served chilled as a side dish, or warm as a main dish. It's really healthy and tastes great to boot. I know that I've already talked about how awesome it is that I get to go to work and cook every day, and I'm going to say it again...It's awesome! For those of you who are wondering what I do for a job, I work at a group home. We revamped our menu last fall to try and incorporate a much more balanced and nutritious diet for the consumers that we work with, and so far the outcome has been amazing.

 A "healthy diet" isn't just about calorie restrictions and small portions, it's about nutrition. The problem with nutrition is that a lot of people have a hard time understanding what a nutritious diet should consist of. Most people think dinner and automatically envision lots of meat and potatoes, anything bloody and starchy...especially here in northern Minnesota. Probably in the Midwest in general if we're being honest. And while there's not a thing wrong with your steak and potatoes every now and again, you'd be doing your body so much more of a favor if you ventured out into the unknown and incorporated lots of lean proteins and veggies. And no, I do not mean veggies from a can. (personal feeling, of course)Yuck. So go ahead, try something different for a change. Trust me, a balanced vegetarian meal once or twice a week won't kill you, in fact it'll probably help you out in the long run. And something like this tasty number is a sure fire way to ease into the whole "meatless" meal preparation. It's quick, simple and absolutely delicious. I promise. So check it out under my recipe section on the blog! Enjoy!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Pizza, Pizza, Pizza

Alright folks, I made some promises earlier this week to try out some new recipes and post them, so here they are! First up is a DELICIOUS Tomato Basil Pizza made with fresh ingredients for the toppings. I'm not going to lie to you, it's really straightforward and basic, but that doesn't lessen how flippin delicious and yummy it is! Just take a look at it!


The other pizza recipe I'm going to share is my Enchilada Pizza. I am proud to say that I made this one up all on my own and I'd be a liar if I told you that this wasn't one of THE tastiest pizzas I've made. The flavor on it is insane. The enchilada sauce/salsa combo for the sauce gives this pie a nice overall spice, while the flavors are bold and rich. It's been a big hit every time I've made it at work and I'm hoping you enjoy it as much as everyone else has. Look at the colors on this thing, it's unreal!


And that's just the pepper onion mix that's part of the topping. The finished, uncooked pizza looks a little like this:


For those of you with freakish eagle eyes, yes, half of that pizza has chicken on it. I made these pizzas this weekend while I was at work, and since not everyone shares my love of meatless food, I like to indulge them every now and then. What can I say, I'm just a nice person. ;) 



Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy July!


Before you have a heart attack, don't worry. That is an oh so silly sign for an ice cream shop/video rental place in Duluth. My future roommate Sam happened to spot this little gem and I figured I would share it with you!
Ooph, July rolled in hot and heavy...literally. It's been ridiculously humid here in the north land for the last couple of days. The kind of humidity that makes your jeans get tighter as you're walking to work. I was fairly certain that by the time I arrived to work yesterday my denims were practically holding me up...yeah, it was that kind of hot and humid. Uncomfortable to say the least. And while I would love to venture down to the beach and throw myself bodily into the big cold drink, I will refrain. I don't feel the need to visit the beach if my dogs aren't allowed to go with me.
On a more positive note, I'm planning to post some yummy new recipes and pictures this weekend! Keep on the lookout for a zesty enchilada pizza and a super delicious summer garden couscous salad. :)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

For Baseball Only?


Time for Steff to vent... The town that I'm living in has decided to make their entire beach area off limits to dogs due to the "lack of picnicking space" for families. In this writer's most humble opinion, that is total and utter garbage. About a month ago the local paper printed off the city council meeting notes so that the residents of this town would be aware of what their representatives are doing for them, and one of the major "issues" they decided to address was the dog area down at the public beach. I kid you not, they called it an issue. Their reasoning...families need more space to picnic. Are you kidding me?! There are tables EVERYWHERE, and very rarely have I ever seen them all full. Many families enjoy being able to bring the family pet with them to the beach, it ensures that everyone gets to come out and have a good time and prevents dogs from being locked up on beautiful, hot sunny days (regardless of how few and far between they've been lately). 

The council also reasoned that there were "several reports of dog bites" last year. I read the paper when it comes out (which isn't hard to do when it's printed once a week and is a whopping five pages long) and I can honestly say that do not recall reading about any dog bite incidents at the beach in the weekly police report last year. I did however happen to read a "Letter to the Editor" from some grumpy citizen (probably either a council member or close friend of one with the way things go around here) who thought that the dog area down at the beach made our town seem less appealing, how it was something that no tourist would want to see. I have this to say to you: As a southern Minnesota import to the northland, I found absolutely nothing wrong with dogs being allowed in the beach area. I did not find it unseemly and I most definitely did not find it unappealing. As a matter of fact, I thought it was wonderful that this community was so welcoming to pets and their owners as to allow them a nice space down at the beach for pets to play. So the council voted to make the beach off limits to dogs. Unless of course you wanted to play with your dogs by the boat launch, because that's still allowed and obviously such a safe option for people and their pets. Thank you City Council, how very generous of you.

 I have dogs that need to be able to run, and sometimes just getting out for a walk doesn't really cut it. There is a potential solution to this problem, but I think people are nervous to approach it by official means. There is an unused baseball field in town, completely fenced and perfect for animals to really be able to stretch their legs. The city now has bins and waste bag dispensers that are not being utilized since they were removed from the beach. Hmmm...sounds like a problem solver to me! The problem is that no one wants to bring this up to the powers that be, because when you officially ask for something, you can be officially denied access to it. As it stands, many dog owners have already started utilizing this area for their pets and no one is stopping us or complaining about it (to the best of my knowledge), but it is not an official dog park/pet friendly area. It would be wonderful to see it as one. To be able to get a bin and some dispensers, maybe a little water station for the pets, have some of those janky gates repaired and getting the place mowed every now and again would be FABULOUS! 

It's sad to see people be so nervous to ask for something as simple as an area for their pets to run, but I understand why. If it gets brought up and shot down, then the area would be officially off limits to pets and their owners and then there would be nowhere for them to go. However, in order to get what you want, sometimes you just need to be willing to take a risk and ask. I mean honestly, who could say "NO" to these faces?! :)


Friday, June 24, 2011

Mini Adventure Friday

Just a little picture of some of the pretty things I found while longboarding to work today. :) The sun finally decided to grace northern Minnesota with its presence again which was amazing. It felt great to get back out on my board with Optimus and just go zipping around town. And better yet, there's a fair in town for the weekend so I'm hoping to head up there and get some pictures at some point. Nothing better than beautiful weather and mini donuts...I'm sure not going to complain! Have a fantastical weekend peeps!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Cilantro-Parsley Pesto...YUM!

One of the aspects that I honestly love about my job is that I get to cook dinner almost every time I'm there, and I've been allowed some creative flexibility since we revised the menu. This was my tasty little dish this week...Cilantro-Parsley Pesto pasta. I know I know, you think pesto=basil, but not so in this case! It all started about a month ago when I wanted to make pesto and lo and behold...no basil to be found. Anywhere. One of the downsides of living this far north is that fresh ingredients are a little more difficult to come by. Or they just arrive later than expected. So I pouted for about a minute then came up with this delish dish using what the grocery store had available...cilantro and parsley...in Massive quantities. It has a much more mild flavor than a basil pesto would, but it is absolutely yummy and much more budget friendly. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do! P.S. The colors of this meal are Gorgeous, serve it up with a baguette and fresh salad and it becomes a very filling, healthy meal.



Find the recipe for this meal here.

'Things I Don't Mind' Thursday

I got the inspiration for this blog post from "Things I Love Thursdays" on Little Chief Honeybee's blog. I really like the idea of having certain days of the week being dedicated to a set topic or subject. Not every day mind you, I don't think I'd have the heart to plan out my life with such rigid guidelines! :) But who knows, maybe outfit posts on weekends, food stuff the rest of the week with little blurbs about life, the puppies and my day to day adventures to mix it all up in the meantime. That's the truly nice aspect about this blog, I don't HAVE to do anything in particular, not yet anyway. So here goes...This is a picture of the "Things I sure don't mind" ;)
Let's see, what do we all have here... Well there's dresses, which I can't live without. Honest. Best darn things in the world. I also have a fairly new obsession with longboarding, it's something totally new and different for me (given my lack of balance and coordination) that I started doing this spring. Yes, the dogs do pull me around town on it. :) I looove scarves, tall shoes and big sunglasses (a girl who likes shoes?! weird, right?) and have a hard time leaving the house without wearing my Estee Lauder bronzer and my Covergirl mascara. Other than that, there's that sneaky little bottle of Candy Pink hairdye, by RAW which is subject to change at any given moment (much to the dismay of the bride whose wedding I'm in ;)) and the only thing that keeps me up and moving...my Monster. 
See, now think of all the things you would have never known if I hadn't filled you in! I promise, I'll start working on some daily themes to stick to, I can't be random...at least not all of the time. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Currently in LOOOVE


Absolutely in love with this beautiful rendition of 'Silver Springs' Originally by Fleetwood Mac but performed here by Stacy DuPree from Eisley. Not normally my cup o' tea, but I'm love love loooving it. Must be the depressing weather... ;)

A new day, a new recipe, a new blog

So, it's probably painfully obvious that I've never done anything like this before, so I'll need you all to bear with me. I figured that I spend enough time futzing around on everyone else's blogs so maybe I should try starting my own! Only problem being that I have NO idea what I want to do, and a very difficult time focusing. I'm thinking food, hair, puppies, clothes...and not necessarily in that order! So we might as well start this adventure off right, with a little photo I took of a VERY delicious vegetarian couscous soup I just made. It's been pretty dreary up here lately, seems like it's never going to quit raining! Although I guess icky weather makes for a perfect excuse to cozy up in the kitchen and make a super delicious batch of soup to warm myself up with. One word...YUM! :)

Go find the recipe in the RECIPE section of my blog! Hope you enjoy! :)

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