Monday, January 30, 2012

strata for dayz.


Things my mom makes:  Quiche.  Chicken stir fry. Pork tenderloin.  Mac & cheese.

Things my mom also makes:  A lot of other things.  A lot of fancy things.  But these are the dishes I associate with normal weeknight dinners.  They are her version of simple, which inevitably still involves prep work and active kitchen time.  Have you heard?  My mom is a badass cook.  She puts GOOD MEALS on the table, even on busy Tuesday nights.  To me, quiche tastes like the hour between swim practice and homework.

The point: I made a strata the other day -- assembled it one night, let it sit in the fridge for nearly 24 hours, and then baked it the next night for dinner -- and was overcome with the feeling that it would become something I'd make for my kids.  It was easy and quick-ish and just...good.  It felt whole.  I portioned it with a spatula and scooped it right out of the casserole dish.  I don't know.  It tasted like a Tuesday night in a busy house.  I liked it.


Strata is like panzanella + bread pudding + an omelet.  Its sort of comfort food-y, but you can stuff that thing full of enough vegetables to at least sort of convince yourself that you're being good.  Its a great fridge-clean-out food: use whatever produce/bread/cheese/protein you have on hand.

If you are not a vegetarian and/or do not feel overcome with fear and loathing in Las Vegas when you see pictures of meat, please feast your eyes on the following:


POLSKA KIELBASA.  The perfect meat that isn't bacon.  Oh my god.  It's so good.  And it was SO GOOD in this strata.  Do not fear (or loathe, or Vegas) that it comes in a big ol' link in the supermarket.  Cut that sucker up and broil it on high for 15-20 minutes.  Gold.  Pure gold.

Spinach Strata with Polska Kielbasa
adapted from The Pioneer Woman

1 polska kielbasa, cooked and sliced (or 1 pound of whatever protein floats your boat)
1/2 load of bread, cubed
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
3 1/2 handfuls of spinach (this is an EXACT SCIENCE HERE PEOPLE)
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup of halved cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
1 1/4 cup cheese (I used some shredded swiss and gruyere, as well as some goat cheese)
6 eggs
1 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste

Over medium-high heat, cook the mushrooms and spinach down in the olive oil, seasoning with salt and pepper.  When brown and wilted respectively, set aside.

In a bowl, mix the eggs, milk and oregano.  Season with salt and pepper.  Also set aside.

In a medium greased baking dish (casserole dish, lasagna pan, whatevs), layer half of the bread cubes, followed by half of the polski (that's what we call it at home), half of the spinach/mushrooms, half of the tomatoes and half of the cheese.  Repeat with the remaining half of all of the ingredients, ending with cheese.  Then pour the egg mixture evenly over the dish.

Cover with tin foil and let sit in your fridge overnight.  You don't HAVE to do this, but it is so worth it.


Remove dish from the fridge 15-20 minutes before baking.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  With the foil still covering it, bake the dish for 35 minutes.  Then remove the foil and cook for an additional 20, to brown the top.


Eat this.  Breakfast lunch dinner midnight been there done that eat this now.
Thank you and good night.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

pile-on.

H&M sweater; flannel dress (?); Hue tights; BCBGeneration boots
I couldn't wait with the hair close-up because, I mean, how WEIRD is it?!  So weird.  The weirdest.  But this is the rest of the outfit from the other day. Doing some sweater/flannel + striped/plaid + cowl/collar layering, which SOUNDS like a mess, but was actually the comfiest/if homeless-chic is a thing then it was that.  All about wearing all of the clothes you own at once.

Mayhaps we got a little bit real there.
Very sorry.
And additionally sorry for using so many slashes in this post.
//////////////. //. /.


From the top.  I love sleeve-cuffing one pattern with another.


The end.

Friday, January 27, 2012

the back of yo head is ridiculous.


The blue dye is too busy staining my shower to have ANYTHING to do with my head, yo.  Weird color gradations and little to no cares.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

swatches.

Pinstripe button downs in baby announcement colors (pink: BDG; blue: Gap)

I don't mean in a love-y way, but there's something romantic about the rain.
Do you know what I mean?
In the same way that coffee and eating breakfast and wallpapered rooms are romantic?

Do you think I'm nuts?

Anyway.  For an inexplicable reason (assuming you rule out science, which can be used to explain most things but which I would rather ignore entirely), it rained the other day instead of snowing, and I had the overwhelming urge to dress in as many pastels as possible and to hum/splash a little bit on my way to class.  Not to mention warble and tap.  But those are normal urges.

Here are some close ups of the springtime patterns and detailing I've been donning recently.  They're inevitably accompanied by black leggings and massive North Face puffy coats, but just the hint of cheerful styling is enough for me.

Railroad conductor shorts with red and gold stitching (Free People)
Supercozy pullover with cuffed sleeves (Mossimo)
Tiny hydrangea high waisted mini skirt (H&M)
Sherbet motorcycle jacket and Tiffany's-colored bow barrette (YAYA by Nom du Plume and American Apparel)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

a sensible lobby shoe-switch.

Backstage dress; Forever 21 bracelets; Steve Madden boots (are you like, "Kendra wear some DIFFERENT SHOES ALREADY?!" yet?  Because if you are, can it.  These babies are in the center section of the Awesome // Comfortable venn diagram)
Hide your snow boots in your purse, you're seeing some THEATRE.  Cotton-topped bandeau silk maxi dresses are a one-stop Winter Blues-fighting machine, granted you've mastered outerwear and can embrace mixed-media and mixed prints.

You can sort of see hints of the hair?  The blue faded to greenish which faded to blondish which is now mostly just blonde.  I dig it!  You'll see.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

moon, meet eye.


I have heard tell of people who eat their pizza backwards, crust first.
To these people I say, have you never heard of Save The Best For Last?!

I have seen people sandwich two pieces of pizza together, cheese-to-cheese.
To these people I say, dinner is not a race!  Also, stop that, it looks so weird.

I am the kind of person -- as is my father -- who piles salad onto her pizza and then folds it up to eat like a taco.
To me you may say, whaaa?
And then to you I would say, don't knock it til you try it.

Pizza Tacos: the best of all the foods.  Like a salad/pizza/sandwich/meal/hybrid/lovechild.  Like a piadine.  Note the instructions, circa a Tomatina Restaurant.  Fork and knife = thumbs down.  Taco = thumbs up.

My advice to you is to deconstruct your favorite salad, purchase some pizza dough from your favorite restaurant or bakery (They do that!  They sell you their pizza dough!  Go Go Go!) and see what kind of hybrid/lovechild you can make in your own kitchen.



Goat Cheese and Arugala Pizza with Mushrooms and Walnuts

1 13-inch round of pre-made pizza dough (You could make it and be fancy.  I got mine from Rose's.)
4 ounces goat cheese
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1 1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
salt
pepper
a bunch of arugala

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a small pan.  Add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and saute until brown and soft.

In a bowl, mix walnuts and goat cheese until combined.  The pizza dough I used is super herby and awesome, but if yours is plain or whole wheat or something, this would be a great place to add some fresh thyme or basil or oregano or whatever floats your boat.  Herbs, ya dig?  Stick 'em in there.

Spread 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the pizza dough.  Dump cheese mixture onto the dough and spread evenly, leaving a 1/2 - 1 inch lip on the outside for crust.  Spread mushrooms over the goat cheese.


Bake pizza according to the instructions you get from the bakery or pizza place where you bought the dough.  Rose's says 425 degrees for 15 - 20 minutes.


Toss arugala in a bowl with the remaining olive oil (1 tablespoon), balsamic, and some salt and pepper.  Its like a salad!  Get it? 



Allow pizza to cool slightly before slicing into wedges.  Yes.  Top with a bunch of arguala.  Yes.  Fold.  Consume.  Repeat. Yes.  Say mmm.  Yes.  So fresh-tasting.  So good.  All of the things.  Yes.

This feels like the end of Ulysses.  Except less sexual.  Although who knows, maybe you have feelings for your pizza, who am I to say.  

James Joyce, amiright?  
English major jokes.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

rainbow brite.


My hair is a medium-dark brown and has been my entire life.  It lightens slightly in the summer, but pitches itself right back into boring and single-hued as soon as fall even hints at its return.  I've never dyed it, never had highlights, never nothing.

Mah hurr be a snooze-fest, yo.

But I am also petrified of big changes.  I have not updated my iPhone because I live in fear.  (Not really.  But sort of.  Moving on.)  And while I dream of a world in which I could follow in the footsteps of the many brightly-locked female role models that exist (including my sister circa this summer), I know it would never happen on my own accord.

Let's drool over badass chicks, yeah?

First, some aloof and supercool film girls making all the boys cuhrazy.





And rainbow-topped pop starz.




Some random people I found on the interwebs.





And recently, in a very Charlotte Free move, my friend Sam.


Beautiful isn't it/she?

The point of this is that my hair is being dyed blue tomorrow for a student film.  I don't know how much, or how blue, but its happening.  So.  We can all look forward to that!  I'm crossing my fingers that it will channel one of the above ladies.  Because...God knows they're all 106.7% cooler than I am.

Monday, January 16, 2012

warped.

Mossimo shrug (yes the Target brand/I love it/lets not fight); Roxy dress; Urban Outfitters tights; Matisse boots; Kate Spade necklace 

Picked up an otherwise slouch-fest of an outfit (complete with angled fringe, we'll do some real close ups next time) with intricate tights, good cowboy boots and a delicate necklace.  It turned out to be a great thing to wear on Saturday night, as I celebrated a friend's birthday at...Medieval Times.



I mean, what can even be said.

We had a lovely time despite the quick decimation of the knight we were cheering for (RIP Red), ate quite a lot of Hint of Lime Tostitos and poked suspiciously at our Medieval Meat.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

immediately following dinner.

The camera's back the camera's back the camera's back I'm dying
A box full of my Christmas presents + an array of shoes that I brought home for break but would somehow not fit in my suitcase for the return journey (True Life: I Accumulate ALL of the Things) arrived at my doorstep post-mealtime last night.  As a garlic-mustard-maple scent wafted through the apartment, I expressed equal excitement over the arrival of the lovely trinket that I gave myself this holiday season and THIS (except mine is hearts), which I immediately put on and may or may not still be wearing.  

True Life: Fancy Jewelry and Footie Pajamas at. The Same.  Time.
This is the beginning of the end.
Under no circumstances should you emulate my lifestyle choices.  

You should, however, make this chicken dish for dinner?  Because its so simple (I had all of the ingredients on hand save for cider vinegar, which an amigo kindly provided) and smells/tastes so good?  Yes.


Maple-Mustard Glazed Chicken
from Cooking Light Magazine

2 teaspoons olive oil
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons thyme
2 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon stone-ground mustard

Preheat over to 400 degrees.

Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat.  Sprinkle the chicken with the salt and pepper, and then add the chicken to the pan.  Saute two minutes on each side or until slightly browned.  Its not gonna be cooked.  Don't tweak.  We're preheating the oven, remember?

Remove chicken from pan and add broth, syrup, thyme and garlic, scraping the pan to loosen the browned bits.  Bring mixture to a boil.  Cook for two minutes, stirring frequently, before adding the vinegar and mustard.  Cook for an additional minute.

Return the chicken to the pan, spooning some of the sauce over each piece.  Slide pan into the oven and bake for 10 minutes, or until chicken is done.

Remove the chicken from the pan and let stand for five minutes.  Then, place pan over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce is syrupy.  Serve over the chicken.

After consuming said chicken, please step into and zip up your new footie pajamas.  Insist on showing them to everyone you know.  Run down and up the stairs of your apartment tower in them.  Marvel at the sticky little rabbits they have on the bottom of the feet so you don't slide around.  Overheat.  Think briefly that you're going to pass out.  Remove footie pajamas.  Wait ten minutes.  Put them on again.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

moving pictures.

by Jamie Beck, from his tumblr
Dude.  Have we discussed cinemagraphs?

Wikipedia tells me that these beauties are created by taking a series of photographs or video recording and, "using image editing software, compositing the photographs or video frames into a seamless loop of sequential frames." This is sentence I could possibly understand one day if someone went over it with me very slowly.

In the meantime, I'll just sit here, mouth agape, staring at the teapot.

I first discovered cinemagraphs on some photography blog that linked me to Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg's website, a pair of photographers who first coined the term for the moving picture art form in early 2011.  When I found out that Kelly Framel, of The Glamourai, was going to be shot by them for her Kelly Wearstler collection campaign in Malibu, I hoped and hoped that some cinemagraphs would come out of the extravaganza.

And DEAR LORD, I was right.

Are you joking me right now?!

Will someone please figure out what that sentence up there means and make a cinemagraph of ME?

from Beck & Burg's website
There are a lot of things to click in this post.  Clear your evening.  Click them all.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

make do and mend.

I stole this picture from Cooking Light, and its inclusion should tell you that no, my camera is not back yet.  Weep if you've ever loved the house of Thebes.  Hopefully it will be back soon.  In the meantime, trust that this was EXACTLY what my dinner looked like last night.  No sarcasm.  This was it.

I'm sort of in love with Tuesdays.  Or at least this Tuesday.  Which was yesterday.
I'm in love with yesterday.
I spent the morning and afternoon at three different coffee shops and an antique bookstore.  
I drank a smoothie.   
I read about the weird rules Louis XIV instated at Versailles. 
And then I made lemon-saffron rice with shrimp.

From this you may deduce that I have too few commitments on Tuesdays and that my apartment subscribes to Cooking Light.

Lemon-Saffron Rice with Shrimp
adapted from Cooking Light Magazine

2 cups of rice, cooked a little less than al dente (it will finish cooking in the broth)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
1/2 cup water
8 ounces vegetable broth
1 cup frozen peas
the juice of 1/2 lemon

Have you ever used saffron before?  It looks like the beard clippings of your friendly neighborhood ginger man.  But it tastes sort of honey-ish and turns everything yellow, which as far as I know, is not true of beard clippings.

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add onion and pepper and sauté for a few minutes, adding garlic and stirring constantly.  Add shrimp to pan and cook for about one minute, stirring frequently.

Add rice, broth, water and spices and mix to combine.  Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat, cover pan, and let simmer until all the liquid is incorporated and rice is done, about five minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and peas.

Easy.  Quick.  Weeknight dinner in a lovely way.  

Monday, January 9, 2012

i ate five.


These pictures are from last spring, but I made a repeat visit to this Chicago Holy Ground of Breakfast Pastry last week sans camera and dude, it was just as decadent and awesome as the maiden voyage.


The Doughnut Vault.

Unreal.

Get there as fast as your little legs (or the el: Brown Line Merchandise Mart stop but honestly, the Merchandise Mart building is the biggest expanse of confusion I have ever experienced so bring a buddy) can take you.





PS: The camera is BACK.  It's back.  Which means that starting today we are officially back in non-apologetic business.  Yesssss.