Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Oscar! (Felix!)

The only way I have successfully been able to convey my love of the Academy Awards and film to total strangers is to tell them that the Oscars are my Super Bowl.

Sad? Perhaps. But totally true.

This year, even Roo got dolled up for the red carpet!

Don't tell her, but I think the dress makes her butt look big. Or maybe I just need to give her a haircut.

Of course, we all have to fill out ballots (which were totally NOT printed out on the epidemiology department printer!)

Last year, I just made whatever I felt like. This year, I decided to try my hand at one dish for each of the best pictures.

And the nominees are...

The Artist (Star cookies and chocolate and vanilla/black and white cake):

Moneyball (Crackerjack):

The Help (Chocolate Almond Kahlua Tartlettes):

War Horse (Carrots and apples... couldn't really figure out what else to make, unless I served MREs):

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (bagels and schmear):

The Descendants (Pineapple Salsa-- recipe coming soon!):

The Tree of Life (Cornbread):

Midnight in Paris (Champagne):

My close friend Stefie also brought French macaroons for Midnight in Paris. She did a rocking job, especially since she had never made them before! She'll have to show me soon, since I'm terrified of making them (but love putting them in my face).

(There were mini spinach quiches for Hugo, but those got eaten pretty quickly).

And, for the record, we all did better on our ballots than drunken monkeys... But not as well as in previous years. 

What a night, though! Billy Crystal is the man!

What are some of your favorite Academy Awards night traditions? Any ideas for next year's celebrations? Do tell!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Celebrating Joy the Baker's Cookbook!: Cocoa Almond Granola

I started following food blogs back in early 2009. I was fortunate enough at that time to have stumbled on a relatively new blog, Joy the Baker. Joy's blog quickly became my favorite; reading it every morning was like getting a hilarious, delicious email from a best friend. Perfect way to start each day.

Since then, Joy has launched myriad other projects, including her Joy the Baker and We're About to be Friends Podcasts on Homefries (a media venture that was, yes, also started by Joy).

So, of course, when Joy's cookbook was available for pre-order last November, I jumped on it. I even (optimistically) purchased release-day delivery. I have NEVER been lucky enough to actually receive a product on release day, even when I purchased the special shipping.

SO, imagine my delight when, on my day off, the cookbook arrived. On the day it was released. Heck, I had even gone to Barnes and Noble to see if it was there earlier in the day (it wasn't-- I ended up walking out with Veganomicon and Cook Without a Book: Meatless Meals).

Clearly, I opened it in a civilized manner, like a twenty-something year-old woman should.

Within an hour, I had the Cocoa Almond Granola in my oven.

I definitely kept picking pieces out of the oven to make sure they weren't "burnt" and putting them in my face.... and then immediately repeating. Quality control, ya know?

Some liberties were taken with the recipe (I didn't have some ingredients on hand), but it came out incredibly, as all of Joy's recipes do.

So congrats, Joy! We are all so proud of you! Thanks for continuing to share your laughter and sweet-tooth with us!

Cocoa, almond, and cranberry granola

Adapted from the Joy the Baker Cookbook

4 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup slivered raw almonds
1 1/2 tsp saigon cinnamon
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey's Special Dark)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tbsp butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment or foil.

Mix together oats, almonds, cinnamon, salt, and cocoa.

In a saucepan, combine sugar, maple syrup, oil, and butter over medium heat. Once bubbling, pull off heat and stir in vanilla extract.

Toss sugar mixture with oat mixture until coated. Spread across baking sheets and bake for 25 minutes, occasionally tossing the granola during baking.

Cool and toss in dried cranberries. Eat by the handful... I won't tell!

February Dinner Club: Fondue with My Valentines!

For our monthly girls' dinner club, we decided to celebrate Valentine's Day a week late together. Because why should you limit showing your friends how much you care about them for one day?

We decided to foray into the world of fondue.

So much good food!


Note that very few of the gummy bears actually made it into the chocolate fondue (not pictured, because we ate it all so quickly!).

The winning combination for the whole night really seemed to be the cream puffs dipped in chocolate fondue. Mmm...

 Fondue + Viewing "What's Your Number?" = the perfect celebration of  friendship. For the win.

Monday, February 27, 2012

New Friends and Chocolate Almond Kahlua Tartlettes

It absolutely amazes me how small of a world we live in. I didn't realize that a fellow college classmate of mine, Ann, grew up in the town in which I'm currently living. It wasn't until we started ogling each other's pictures of our baked goods on one another's Facebook profiles that we realized we should be friends. Stat.

So when Ann came back to town to visit her family, we decided to get together to catch up. What better way to do that than tackling a new, decadent recipe (while talking about running and research)?

Almonds get toasted.

Oreos get de-filling-itized. One of us had mad skill at scraping Oreos... One was laughing so hard that the photo came out blurry.

Cookies get ground.

Almonds, melted butter, espresso powder, and salt join the party.

We decided to try to exercise some self-restraint by making individual tarts. Emphasis on the word try.

... but it looked and smelled so good!

Meanwhile, at the stove, filling gets made. Look at the chocolate and booze!

And butter. I'm pretty sure we learned that  butter is a hobby of both of ours.

We've both apparently gone right from a run to the store, still sweaty, to buy pounds of butter. Classy.

Chocolate! Boom!

Pasturized eggs. Like a boss.

Ann's favorite part-- the whipped cream.

My favorite part-- dark, dark, dark chocolate!

Folded together with eggs to make a delicious, creamy, chocolatey, Kahlua-y mousse!

I'm pretty sure Ann wanted me to hurry up so we could put this in our faces.

The foundations of friendship: laughing, baking, and stuffing our faces.

We talked about running. That had to have burned some calories, right?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Seeing stars...

Stay tuned-- partying with Oscar tomorrow night!

Smoky, Spicy Split Pea Soup

Sometimes life goes like this: go out on date. Have a great time, and be super jazzed when he asks for Date #2. Meet up for second date. Things are going great. Then, out of nowhere, cliched lines are dropped like bombs:

"I'm just not ready to date... "

"I'm feeling this as more of a friends thing..."

"It's not you, it's totally me."

Dudes, take note: if you're not ready to date, do not ask a girl out, and do not set up a second date if you realize this while out on the first date.

Girls, take note: While you may have been super-psyched, this is real life. When feelings are a one-way street, it's rough. You may feel like you need a hug.

That's exactly what this soup is. A hug. In a bowl.

Make it, curl up with House Hunters and a puppy. Recharge. Then get back out there!


Smoky, Spicy Split Pea Soup

Adapted from Appetite for Reduction

1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Ground black pepper (lots!)
1 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp sriracha
2 tsp dried thyme
2 cups diced carrots
1 1/4 cup yellow and green dried split peas
8 cups veggie broth
juice and zest from one lemon

In a 6-quart pot, saute onions until tender. Add garlic, salt, pepper, and saute for another two minutes
Add spices and sriracha and cook another few seconds. Add carrots, broth, and peas. Cook covered for 45 minutes. Add lemon juice, zest, and taste for seasonings. Allow to sit for a few minutes before serving to deepen flavors.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A simple supper and making friends (the awkward way)

This was dinner tonight:

Quinoa pasta, kale, sweet potato, diced tomato, onions, mushrooms. Simple.

On another note... Saw a girl I'd met once who recently moved here in Spin class today. We chatted during a previous Spin class in class about her adjustment here, her job, etc. I remembered her name (because I'm oddly good at remembering names and faces, usually), and called her name as she came in to see how things were going. She looked at me like she a) didn't recognize me, b) wanted to avoid talking to anyone, and/or c) didn't want to talk to me.

(She eventually remembered who I was and we chatted again, but it was hella awkward at first.)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Lemon Lentil Rice Soup

We all strive to make Good Life Choices. Everywhere you turn, you're faced with temptation...

For me, this has been a week of Bad Life Choices.

Eating a box of Thin Mints and calling it dinner so you don't have to cook? Bad Life Choice.

Going out and dancing with friends when you have an exam the next morning? Bad Life Choice (Though it seemed Good at the time).

Watching a dozen back episodes of the Weakly News instead of working on said exam? Bad Life Choice.

Making this soup? Good Life Choice.

This soup is warm, hearty, and tastes incredible with chips crumbled on top (I'm loving Trader Joe's Falafel Chips right now!). 

It freezes beautifully, and the flavors develop wonderfully as it chills in your fridge! (Get it? Get it?)

Lemon Lentil Rice Soup

Olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
Ground black pepper and salt (to taste)
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground chipotle peppers
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup dried brown lentils
1/2 cup brown basmati rice
Zest of one lemon
6 cups vegetable broth
Juice of one lemon

Preheat a deep pot over medium heat. 

Saute onions in oil until translucent; add in garlic, salt, and pepper. Add spices and stir to toast for a few seconds. 

Add the carrots, lentils, rice, broth, and zest. Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer and cook for 40 minutes, or until lentils are tender. 

Add lemon juice, taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Serve with chips!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Pasta de Los Angeles

Sometimes I want mexican. Sometimes I want Italian. Sometimes I just want carbs.

And sometimes I can't make up my mind.

Boy, was I relieved when I found this recipe from Isa Chandra Moskowitz, and found I wasn't the only one with crazy cravings.

So much color, so filling... and keeps well (great to live on for the next few days of qualifying exam mayhem!) I threw in mushrooms to make it feel more substantial.

Eating this will satisfy every crazy savory craving in the book.

Pasta de Los Angeles

4 ounces quinoa pasta
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic
1 cup chopped mushrooms
2 jalapeƱos, thinly sliced
2 tsp chopped cilantro
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 tsp salt
Juice and zest of a lime
1 15 oz can pinto beans

Bring water with some salt to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, add in pasta and cook according to directions on box.

In another skillet, combine the onion, garlic, and jalapeƱos. Cook until onions are translucent. Add in cilantro, salt, and lime zest. Stir in diced tomatoes and beans.

Once the noodles are cooked, transfer them to the skillet to finish cooking so that they can absorb some of the sauce. Add the lime juice, stir, and serve hot from the pan!