Pass the fork, please.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

This is my next little kitchen project. I haven't yet decided what silverware I'm getting to get and where I'll find it, but I'm in love with this simple and quirky wall piece. Definitely expect to see this design hanging on my kitchen wall in blue and yellow.

And expect to see a post about a fun and saucey event I attended last weekend.

Making your Kitchen work for you

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I thought it might be fun to do an occasional post on how I keep my kitchen organized. I'm not sure how big, or small it is, but I've definitely had to get creative with the space.
The space isn't THAT small, but I came from a mansion- cabinets as far as the eye can see, a granite island and so many appliances, pots, pans, dishes and baking trays that I felt like I was walking into Williams-Sonoma.
With some improvising, creativity and a knack for turning nothing into something, I've made my kitchen work for me. I forced myself into the mindset that I HAD to put things in places that made sense. I knew I wouldn't use them if they are too difficult to get or too much work to put away- I am just that lazy.
I'm sure this kitchen would be more than enough space for someone who only eats mac and cheese out of a box, but I had to find space for my Calphalon pots, crock pot, food processor and pretty new bowls from Anthropologie (!)
Over the next few weeks, I'll highlight a specific part of my kitchen. I'm quite proud of how it turned out- maybe it will give you some ideas on how to save space in your own kitchen.
As they say, "The kitchen is the heart of the home". Everyone gathers there, it's where our sense of taste, smell and sight come alive and let's be honest, there is never enough space for everything.

This is exactly what my kitchen looks like in the middle of a cooking adventure- a tornado scene, still waiting got FEMA to come in and survey the damage.
And yes, that is a basketball there in the middle.

That pretty blue thing in the middle of my kitchen is my pride and joy- my island from Ikea. My sister's bf painted it blue for me and I attached some yellow knobs to the side to hang things like kitchen towels. This piece is still morphing and I'll keep you updated on what I do to it. I'm hoping to add a piece of salvage granite to the top and screw in a wine rack under the top for things like paper towels, foil, etc.

The Kitchen Sink Cous Couse Salad

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cooking for a man, aka someone who will eat anything, and cooking for only two people, allows me to be creative and practical. For example, in this cous cous salad, I threw in some extra red potatoes I had from this night. They were a great addition, but the star of this salad was definitely the halved grapes. I have friends, okay I have MADDIE, who hates fruit in her salads. Thankfully I don't cook for her because there is no way I would have left these little purple guys out of this side dish. I ate this three times- first for dinner with mushroom stuffed pitas,

then twice for lunch. On the times I had it for lunch, I used the pita to scoop up the pearled cous cous and all it's little sidekicks. And did I mention this pearled cous cous was an accident? I have never bought the pearled cous cous, always too scared of its texture and opting for it's smaller yet mighty brother. But, I'm glad the accident happened- the texture is great and it stood up nicely to all the other additions.

The Kitchen Sink Cous Cous Salad
As the name indicates, throw whatever you want in here, but this is a good starting point
1 box olive oil and garlic flavored pearled cous cous
1 lemon zested and juiced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups spinach
1/2 red onion, chopped
4 red potatoes, cubed and boiled
2 stalks celery, chopped- leafy tops included!
1 cup grapes, halved
1/3 cup chopped and toasted pecans

Cook cous cous according to package instructions. Remove from heat, add to a large bowl and throw in spinach- let them wilt. At this point, you can put the bowl in the fridge, or serve the salad hot- either way is fine.
Add garlic, onion, potatoes, celery, grapes and nuts. Toss. Add lemon zest and juice. Toss again.
Serve warm or cold.

Pita bread

Monday, September 12, 2011

I've made pita bread before and for some reason I forget how truly spectacular homemade pita is AND how truly unspectacular store bought pita is.
Seriously, have you bought any lately?
It's atrocious.
It's like cardboard with a slit in the middle for paper shreds and loose staples, er I mean for veggies and chicken.
Homemade pita bread can't even compare to the store bought stuff. It takes a while- mostly inactive time, which means you can run errands, watch Legally Blonde and take a nap while it does its thing. And what a thing it is.
It's truly fabulous straight from the oven and with the garlic salt and oil I brush on the top. Oh yeah.

Find the recipe here and get my oil topping nirvana thing below.
Oh and one more thing, treat yeast like you would your 97 year old grandmother. It can be temperamental if you don't do exactly what it tells you. Buy a thermometer so you can monitor the temp of the liquid you use with it. Like the cane your grandma uses for walking, it makes all the difference.

Garlic salt and oil
with a mortar and pestle, mash one clove of garlic with 1 tsp salt. Add to a small bowl and whisk in about one T of olive oil. Add some dried rosemary. Brush mixture onto warm pita.

Weekend snaps

Saturday, September 10, 2011

No recipe today, just a quick moment to say hello.
I love the weekends. I love being busy, but not too busy. I love having to carve out time for cleaning and homework and work-outs, but not so much time that I can't sit on the couch, watch a Gilmore Girls, and like tonight, watch a little college football with the man (not my first, or second, or third choice, but still...)
Most of all, I love the freedom of the weekend. I don't have to be up by 6, or worry about make-up, outfits, meetings, emails (do they ever end?!), commuting, screaming babies, parking at school, or the annoying feeling that as soon as you get home, you have a million things to do before getting up and starting the whole, hectic cycle over again.
Instead, I get to do things like this.

And share effortless laughs provided to me by faces like this.

Those cups are filled with things called Razzles, btw. That's basically a Blizzard, but with frozen yogurt. Erin, stop drooling on your computer.

Happy weekend.

Oven roasted potatoes

Thursday, September 8, 2011

It's still summer weather in California. Fellow food bloggers began talking about fall weather and fall food a couple weeks ago, but I just can't get on bored with pumpkin spice lattes, butternut squash soup, and months of no garden fresh tomatoes. I may cry come October.
What I can get on board with is an easy cool weather side dish that tastes better than the main dish I serve with it. I made turkey meatloaf the other day- I think Barefoot Contessa has a great recipe- and served it up with some leftover biscuits from one of our favorite restaurants and these potatoes.

They don't look like much, but they stole the show.
You can use whatever potatoes you like, but I bought a mixed bag (red, yellow and purple!) from my local farmer's market. I think these would be really exceptional with some roasted asparagus and roasted chicken. I may not be totally ready for Fall, but I'm getting there.

Easy Roasted Potatoes
Serves 3-4
2 lbs. baby potatoes
2-3 T good olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 teaspoons salt, divided
2 teaspoons pepper, divided
2 teaspoons dried rosemary, divided

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cut up potatoes into chunks, leave skin on. The smaller the pieces, the faster they cook- shoot for bite size pieces. Lay them on a cookie sheet and toss with 2-3 T olive oil, garlic, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper and 1 teaspoon rosemary. Make sure the potatoes do not overlap and place in oven. Let them cook until golden brown and slightly crispy- this should take 20-30 minutes.
When done, add remaining salt, pepper and rosemary. Serve hot.

Tuesday Treat: Vegan Coconut Cupcakes

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

After one week, I have officially decided/been deemed the treat bringer to my Wednesday counseling class. What a rough life I lead!
This week, it's my professor's birthday, and as the classic teacher's pet that I am, I decided to bake vegan cupcakes for my prof, as she follows a vegan diet.

I took a basic vanilla cupcake recipe and enhanced it, just a smidge. Please ignore how awesome their pics are compared to mine. I have photo envy. I'm working on it.

I start seeing clients tomorrow- eeek! I am slightly excited...and these will be perfect to enjoy after all the listening I will be doing tomorrow morning.

1 1/2 cup coconut milk (vanilla or sweetened preferred)- this is not coconut in a can. This is an alternative milk like soy- look for it next to that.
1 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped, optional
1/2 cup shredded coconut, more if desired

For the ganache:
1/3 cup coconut milk
1/3-1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
extra coconut for garnish

Bake the cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners. Spray lightly with cooking spray.

Whisk the milk and vinegar in a measuring cup and set aside for a few minutes to get good and curdled. SOunds freaky, but it's AWESOME. Say it with me- milk + vinegar= AWESOME

Sift the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl and mix.

Beat together the milk mixture, oil, sugar, vanilla extract and vanilla bean in a large bowl. Sift in the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and mix until no large lumps remain. Add coconut and stir slightly.

Fill cupcake liners two-thirds of the way and bake for 20 to 22 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool.

In the meantime, prepare the ganache.

In a small sauce pan, bring the milk to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer and add the chocolate and syrup. Mix with a rubber spatula for about 30 seconds. Turn heat off, continue stirring until the chocolate is fully melted and the icing is smooth. You might want to add up to 1/2 choc chips if the ganache seems thin, as mine did.

To assemble:
Let ganache cool for about 10 minutes. Dip the top of the cupcake in the ganache and then set them on a cooling rack. Spoon the remainder of the ganache over cupcakes. Sprinkle with coconut. Let set in a cool room for an hour or so, or place in the fridge to set.

PS- this is a cute little pineapple cutting board that the Meachim family gave me as part of a housewarming present. How perf is that in my blue and yellow kitchen?!