Friday, March 30, 2012

you never forget your first time.

A handful of summers ago, after watching Giada whip it up on the Food Network while I was eating breakfast in front of the television (sorry) (not sorry) (it was summer) (whatever), I made these vegetarian stuffed bell peppers for my family for dinner.  It was the first time I had ever tried a brand new recipe, all on my own, for my family to eat.  There was no back-up dinner.  It was not a subtle variation of a household standard.  My culinary inclination had not blossomed into the raging unruly rainforest that it is now and was at that point only a small windowsill garden made up of hours of watching Iron Chef America and thinking I knew things.  I didn't have much kitchen cred.

Point: I think this is the dish that made me want to learn to cook, well and often.  Is that dramatic?  Its intuitive - the flavors come together easily and naturally - while still being surprising and a little funky.  The currants add this awesome sweet pop to every bite, and the creamy basil sauce (Giada used creme fraiche but I swapped in nonfat greek yogurt, meaning I can and do guiltlessly consume a metric shit ton) pushes it over the edge.  I wanted to be able to come up with stuff like this, to take ordinarily discordant ingredients and collage them into something you don't want to stop eating.  Three cheers for inspiration, am I right?

Couscous-Stuffed Bell Peppers with Basil Sauce
adapted from Giada de Laurentiis
makes 4 servings

1 cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons cumin
3/4 cup couscous (not Israeli, that stuff is way too big and pasta-y)
1 cup canned garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup dried currants
1 packed cup chopped baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
salt and pepper to taste
4 bell peppers
hot water

for the sauce:
1 packed cup chopped basil leaves
1/2 cup nonfat greek yogurt
 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon water
1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon each of salt, pepper and sugar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium saucepan, bring chicken broth and cumin to a boil over medium-high heat.  Add couscous, cover, and remove from heat.  Allow to sit until all liquid is incorporated, about 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix the spinach, feta, garbanzo beans, currants.  Add couscous and toss distributed evenly.  Stir in 1/4 cup olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.  The feta is salt, the currants are sweet...don't be shy with the pepper.

Cut the tops off of each bell pepper, and scrape out the ribs and seeds.  Arrange peppers in a baking dish so that they are standing freely; if the bottoms of the peppers are too round to do so, simply slice a small bit off straight across to make a flat surface.  Pour warm water into the baking dish, until it is approximately 1/4 inch deep.

Spoon couscous mixture to fill each pepper.   Drizzle the tops with a bit more olive oil, and a shake of salt and pepper.  Bake for 45 minutes, or until browned on top and peppers are cooked through.

Meanwhile, puree all sauce ingredients in a blender.  This also makes an awesome dip.

Dump mass quantities of basil sauce onto/into/around your pepper, and promptly consume.
Sometimes it gets green and messy and looks like this.

This is completely correct.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

sping bake.

Halogen cardigan; J Crew tshirt; American Eagle denim; Rachel hoops; Sperry's

Bright, comfortable classics and hole-y jeans.

Fratty footwear.

Spring festivity in the front yard and on a handbag.

New earrings that are really a reversion to my seventh grade self.  They say the bigger the hoop, the bigger the ho, right?  Or is it hoe? Don't they say that?  Is that why I'm making this face?  Because that's so appropriate for me and my lifestyle?  Right?  Not?  Ok forget it just FORGET I said anything.

My mountain in the spring, yo.  Way too long of hikes and taking naps in the sun.  It's the real deal.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

end of the rainbow.

So.  Unintentional sabbaticals.  Those are things that sometimes happen.

Do you want to hear the excuses?  They exist.  They include a robber with zero St. Patrick's Day spirit who forced his way through a window while I was at the parade and bounced with a number of my electronics.  And those of a person I love.  AND a bag of chips.  Literally stole a bag of chips.  And my computer.  This dude sucks.

Is it sexist that I automatically made him a man?  Apologies.  I think its because in my mind, a lady robber would have taken some jewelry instead and LEFT THE FRICKIN CHIPS.


This was how I started the St. Patrick's Day that ended with a 911 call.  Guinness Pancakes.

I am vehemently against pancake mix, having been birthed my a woman who's mantra is Homemade or Bust.  Bisquick is generally the anti-Christ.  But sometimes its St. Patrick's Day Morn and you are in a boy apartment and boxed breakfast is what you have to deal with.  So you forge ahead, with the below as your guide:

Guinness Cocoa Pancakes
adapted from The Hot Plate

1 3/4 cups Bisquick pancake mix
1/3 cup cocoa powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup Guinness

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk and egg.  Add to the dry mixture, along with Guinness, and mix with a fork until the large lumps have been incorporated.

Cook batter in 1/4 cup cakes on a greased skillet over medium-high heat.  Flip pancakes when bubbles have formed and burst on one side.

These babies are good.  A little crepe-like in their relative thinness (could have been fixed with buttermilk instead of milk, but again, boy apartment), but the cocoa powder, cinnamon and Guinness come together in a really great way.  I stuck with maple syrup as a topper, but I'm sure you could find some other festive alternatives (I'm looking at you, Bailey's).

Also this is cool, right?

Monday, March 12, 2012



Today I finally found a place near my apartment that sells gjetost, a Norwegian brown goat cheese pronounced like the post title.  It has been all over my life recently, but not in an edible capacity, which is really the ONLY capacity in which cheese MATTERS.

I've been suffering.  That's the point I'm trying to make here.

First I read about it on a blog that I love and viewed it in the form of a crazy sandwich.
Then I wikipedia'd it and learned all of the facts.
Then it was on this list, and I was like, "Literally?! All I want to do is try this cheese and the universe is conspiring against me!!!  UGH."

Ugh indeed.
Until today, when for the first time ever, I spotted it in a local grocery store, snatched it up, and ran home to try it immediately.

Gjetost is golden-brown in color and has a thicker and creamier consistency than other blocked cheeses.  It is also SWEET, tasting like a sort of fudgy caramel... Norwegian... cheese thing.  I don't know.  But guys: its really good.  Melted on toast?  Absolutely.  With apples and pears?  Definitely.  Fed to my roommate who said in response, "What is this, sugar cheese whiz?"  Unfortunately yes.  But she also eats popcorn and rice cakes for every meal, so she isn't to be trusted.

Gjetost is usually sliced very thinly with a cheese plane, but I don't have one.  I attempted to use a potato peeler.

Not super effective.  But I got the idea.

Conclusion:  I'm a big fan.  Gjetost is an interesting flavor combination, and cool way to switch up cheese-based dishes.  I'm excited to try it in grilled cheese as above, as a base topping for a sweet pizza, added to a cheese combo in mac and cheese, and/or shaved on top of soup.  An easy place to start is to make it a fixture on your next cheese plate.  Perhaps this product's striking similarity to candy is weirding you out.  To that I say: candy is good and cheese is good.  Face your fears.  Buy the gjetost.

Friday, March 9, 2012

bleeding heart.

Take a look at my latest Big Girls Small Kitchen post : Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Raspberry Sauce!!!

I got a little overzealous with the sauce.  I can recognize this.  I literally dumped it from the pot onto the plate with no regard for presentation, thinking instead only about how I wanted to be SWIMMING in the stuff.  So.  That's why this picture looks more like a mess than anything else.  But its a delicious mess, ok?!  I promise.  Click to read the full post / get the recipe.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

green and runny.

Yesterday I cooked an egg inside of an avocado.
I read about it online somewhere and was like, "That looks like the weirdest thing I have ever seen."

And then I preheated my oven.

Dude it was so good.  Stupid simple, so filling, one pan, one spoon, salt, pepper, yes.

A Snack
425 degrees.
Remove pit, insert egg.
You might have to scoop out more of the avocado so the egg doesn't spill out everywhere.
Salt and pepper.
Eggacado gets placed on a baking sheet or oven-safe pan.
12 minutes.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

hustle bustle.

peplum like whoa.
Does someone know what I'm doing wrong with my polyvore situation?  Why so small?  Kendra, why so inept?  Ugh.  I'll figure it out.  Sorry I suck.
(I wrote this post a long time ago but then I danced for 30 consecutive hours and forgot about it.  Spoiler alert: I remembered!  And here it is.)

I have mixed feelings about the peplum skirt / jacket / shirt / life.  Pieces with peplums are pretty.  But also I am afraid of them.  I have this fear that only stick figure rake people can wear them and when people who are ok eating entire avocados for breakfast (so real) try to, they just stick out at odd angles and make you look like you have a weird mid-secton ruffle-growth.  Is this warranted?  Am I crazy?  Anyway.

I have a feeling, which is less of a feeling and more of a something I know since I keep frickin reading about it, that this will probably change in the near future.  Peplums...are going to be a thing.  A real deal thing.  This girl is gonna have to face her fear.

The above is inspiration circa Tibi (the same one Ms. Repeller is wearing here), Betsey Johnson, Alice + Oliva, Burberry Prorsum, Prabal Gurung, and nastygal.

This is the same dress being sold twice.