Friday, December 24, 2010

Mm mmm, Good!

This soup doesn't really have a story. It's just really, REALLY yummy--exactly what The Gooj and I were craving on a cold winter's night. Roasting the tomatoes before adding them to the soup brings out their rich tomatoey goodness in all its glory, and pureeing the soup in a blender (once you get it going, you'll really want to whip it up) gives it a lush, creamy texture that needs only 1/3 a cup of cream to take it to a celestial soup consistency. You can even make it without the fresh tomatoes--just use three cans of tomatoes instead of two.

There is a lovely picture to go with this, but with a dial-up internet connection... that's not happening. Someday, you shall see. Or make it yourself! It's pretty! And festive! Red soup with green basil just yells, "Merry Christmas!" or perhaps... "Eat me right now!" Both are happy holiday sentiments, don't you think?

Cream of Tomato Soup
Adapted from The New Best Recipe from America's Test Kitchen

4-6 small garden or roma tomatoes, sliced thick or halved
2 (14.5-ounce) cans whole stewed tomatoes, drained, 2 cups juice reserved
1 1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 green onion, diced
2 small cloves garlic, diced
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
Pinch ground allspice (about 1/4 tsp)
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 can chicken broth or stock
1/3 cup whipping cream
small pinch crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste

For Serving
Fresh basil, chiffonaded
Grated cheese

1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 450°F. Lined rimmed baking sheet with foil. With a strainer set in bowl, strain canned tomatoes, allowing juices to fall through strainer into bowl. Spread tomatoes in single layer on foil. Cut fresh tomatoes to be about an inch thick. Sprinkle evenly with brown sugar. Bake until all liquid has evaporated and tomatoes begin to color, about 30 minutes. Let tomatoes cool slightly; careful peel the skins off of fresh tomatoes (they should come off easily after roasting). Discard skins and transfer tomatoes to a small bowl and set aside. 

2. Heat butter over medium heat in large saucepan until foamy. Add onions, garlic, tomato paste and allspice. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened, about 7 to 10 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. Gradually add chicken broth, whisking constantly to combine; stir in reserved tomato juice and roasted tomatoes. Cover with a lid, increase heat to medium, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, to blend flavors, about 10 minutes.

3. Transfer half of the soup to blender and VERY CAREFULLY (it's rather hot soup. Hot soup + skin = ouchie burning.). Start blender very low slowly raise speed; puree until smooth. Place pureed mixture in a bowl and add the remaining soup to the blender. Again, carefully puree until smooth. Rinse saucepan and put both batches of puree back in pan.  Whisk in cream and warm over low heat until hot, about 3 minutes. Do NOT boil. Off heat, season with salt and cayenne. Serve immediately with fresh basil and a little sprinkling of cheese, if you so desire.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Fat Jeremies


I have this friend. His name is Jeremy. The list of adjectives one might use to describe him would likely NOT include "fat." In fact, Jeremy wagered that not even I, with my propensity for butter-saturated cooking, could fatten him up.

Wagers like this cannot be left unanswered. Recipes began bouncing around my mind, each more deliciously fattening than the last. After a few days of bouncing, three recipes had collided into an idea for a cookie with incredible powers of fattening and deliciousness, a sort unhealthy hybrid of homemade oreos, s'mores, and Reese's peanut butter cups.

And so, Fat Jeremies were born.

I double-dog dare you to ditch your diet and try one...or a half dozen.

For the cookie dough
(as adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder(plus 1 tablespoon if you want a bit more chocolate kick)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks)softened unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon water
1 large egg

For cookie filling 
1 1/4 cups chunky peanut butter
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup Reese's peanut butter baking chips
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons brown sugar
mini marshmallows, frozen

For caramel topping (optional)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
See this recipe for The Creamiest Caramel--In a Can

In a large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients & mix thoroughly with a spatula. Add butter, eggs, vanilla, and water. With a hand (or stand, if you're fancy) mixer, beat in wet ingredients until dough forms. (You could mix the dough by hand, but you'll probably need a mixer for the filling.) Refrigerate dough for at least 1/2 hour.

In a separate medium bowl, mix peanut butter, butter, vanilla, brown sugar, & peanut butter chips until well blended. Slowly stir in powdered sugar. With a hand mixer, blend until the consistency is even. The filling will still be chunky, since you've used chunky peanut butter & the peanut butter chips. Preheat oven to 350º F.


To build your Fat Jeremies, scoop out about pingpong-ball-sized ball of dough. Flatten the dough between the palms of your hands until the dough is about 1/8 of an inch thick. Place a scoop of peanut butter filling (about the size of a quarter & 1/4 inch thick) in the center of your round of dough. Add three or four mini marshmallows (we used a whole marshmallow, cut in half) on top of the pb filling. Fold up the edges of the dough so that all the filling is covered. (Freezing the marshmallows prevents them from melting entirely & disappearing during baking, so keep those 'mallows cold. When you've built one batch of Fat Jeremies, be sure to put your marshmallows back in the freezer.)


Bake marshmallow side up on a well-greased baking sheet for 8 to 10 minutes.


If you're going all out & adding the caramel, drizzle it on top of the cookies while they are still warm. These are fairly tender cookies, so let them cool for at least 8 minutes before removing from the baking sheet.

Fat Jeremies require a glass of milk. Enjoy!

Photo credit to Mr. Jeremy Penrod himself, for whom these cookies are named. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Dose of Hope

(with a short preface of grumbling)

This week has been at least 5 months long. And it's only Thursday. So much has been going on that I swear I must be nearing my 22nd birthday. I can feel the wrinkles coming. The fact that I have been eating at Taco Bell may not be helping this premature aging. But those dang crunchwraps are just so disgustingly delicious.

With multiple tests and assignments and design layouts to slog through, I was needing a bit of a boost.  I found this inspirational gem from Dieter F. Uchtdorf on

Hope is one leg of a three-legged stool, together with faith and charity. These three stabilize our lives regardless of the rough or uneven surfaces we might encounter at the time. . ..
Hope has the power to fill our lives with happiness. Its absence—when this desire of our heart is delayed—can make 'the heart sick' (Proverbs 13:12).

Hope is a gift of the Spirit. It is a hope that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the power of His Resurrection, we shall be raised unto life eternal and this because of our faith in the Savior. This kind of hope is both a principle of promise as well as a commandment, and, as with all commandments, we have the responsibility to make it an active part of our lives and overcome the temptation to lose hope. Hope in our Heavenly Father's merciful plan of happiness leads to peace, mercy, rejoicing, and gladness. The hope of salvation is like a protective helmet; it is the foundation of our faith and an anchor to our souls.
You can read his entire address HERE – airplanes included.

Each of us go through stormy times in our life. And they say "It never rains but it pours."  They may be right. But what that knowledgeable conglomerate of "them" sometimes forgets to mention is this:

The clouds after the storm are lovely.

Friday, November 5, 2010


1 semester in Jerusalem- 15 credits
1 Humanities core class- 3 credits
3 Advanced English lit courses- 9 credits
2 GE courses (Bio 100 & some social science)- 6 credits
1 Humanities capstone class- 3 credits
1 Honors Thesis- up to 6 credits & a lot of blood, sweat, & tears

Jerusalem + 21 credits of class + thesis = honors graduation, April 2012

That's simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying.

Friday, October 29, 2010

On a Sunday...

...we did a lot of cooking. The menu was yellow curry chicken with raita. We also had some delightfully tart lemon cookies.

I wore my favorite shoes & pretended to be Julia Child.

I had the most fantastic sous chefs, Craig & Devin.
Excuse me--Sous CHeffs.
Who can CHiffonade.

I also got some cousin lovin'. Apparently, love of polka dots & ridiculously excited faces run in the family.

Isn't it great to have paparazzi friends?
& Farberware knives?
& chiffonade skills?
& cousins?
& curry? 
The answer is all of the above.
My belly & my heart were rather full of happiness.


Thanks to Jeremy & his lovely Canon camera for making me feel like a famous chef.

Oh, yes. There was also a fish. & Devin.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Alluring Tart Lemon Cookies

I know that "autumn" & "lemon" don't always go hand in hand. But today, I wanted something full of zesty lemon flavor. A mere lemon cake was not enough. So lemon cookies. With lemon icing. Sometimes you just need something really fresh on a chilly fall day. These lemon cookies are super simple and very lemon zingy. The cookies are pretty good, but the icing makes them something semi-celestial. And alluring.

(We had a very hard time finding a fitting adjective for these cookies. We also considers subLEMONal, luxurious, and lusty. Beware.)

1 lemon cake mix
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
1 egg
1/3 cup water
2 tsp fresh lemon zest

Combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Shape cookies into small balls, about 1 inch in diameter (the cookies spread out & get very thin). Bake at 350ºF for about 9 minutes. 

Note: This icing is more like a glaze. It should be thin. Don't worry. It will all work out in the end.

3 tblsp. cream cheese
3 tsp fresh lemon zest
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tblsp. milk
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (a blend of ginger, cinnamon, allspice,
the juice of one fresh lemon

In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, milk, and the lemon zest. Beat with a hand mixer on high until smooth. Add nutmeg & pumpkin pie spice. Stir in powdered sugar. Add lemon juice & blend until smooth. 

Once the cookies have cooled (at least a little--I know you're impatient), drizzle the icing over the top. Enjoy!  

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Fact: Eating more than a dozen cookies in one day might make you easily excited by things that are shiny. Or wiggly. Or completely normal.


Brownies, anyone?

ba ding da ding ding ding

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Under the Sea

I now have photographic proof of my newly-found epic nature. Why do I feel the need to declare my own awesomeness? Well. I scuba dive. In Cozumel. That's why.

Big thanks to my daddy, who spent a lot of hours convincing me that my claustrophobic ankles would be totally fine & that I "wouldn't even notice" all the gear once I was below the surface. Turns out, he was right. Go figure.

PS- I had the soundtrack from The Little Mermaid stuck in my head on one of our dives. It was perfect.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Hello Universe

So lately, I've been doing some pretty cool grown-up stuff, like getting a job as the editor for Insight, the magazine produced by BYU's honors department. It's been such a great opportunity to jump into the field that I've been working towards for the last 2 1/2 years & find out that I love it even more than I thought. (Feel free to remind me that I said this when I'm in the Mac lab at 2 a.m. designing feature spreads later this semester.) This college senior (round 1) thing has been outstanding as of yet, thanks to highly entertaining professors who keep 16.5 credits worth of classes bearable & roommates that I still adore, though we are now in our third year of roommatehood. I also just purchased a new Cuisinart hand mixer that makes me feel like a Real Baker--& guarantees a few new recipes coming soon.

I was even super adventurous & learned to scuba dive while in Cozumel, Mexico during the month of August. It was epic. I know that "epic" is sort of a trendy word right now, but this is a legit (ha) application. How else could you describe the experience of doing back flips 30 feet below the surface of the ocean while sea turtles, tropical fish, & a shark or two swim around you? Yeah, rly.

I'm also rediscovering my love for poetry--yet again. Here's a poem that isn't mine recited by someone who also isn't mine. Happy Monday!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Blueberry Scones with Lemon & Ginger

I haven't posted anything for a while because I got distracted by other pursuits since I published that fabulous poll. The scones just barely beat out the pasta (which I made anyway), but I listen to my people. And I wanted to make these scones, really I did, but German Chocolate Cake demanded my attention for a week of tweaking and perfecting. Then it was The Salad. Oh, the salad. The salad with roasted sweet potatoes and cool cucumber mint yogurt dressing. I thought I had died and gone to summer salad heaven. But that deserves its own post.

So. The scones. These are not that fry bread that many in the Western US associate with the word "scone." These are more closely related to a biscuit, something you might see at an English tea. They are rugged and slightly sweet; hearty yet delicate--a glorious concoction that would seem perfectly at home at a bed & breakfast in the Scottish Countryside. Which, I suppose, is why the recipe I based these on (from A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg, pg. 174) is credited to the Scotts. So, without further ado, make these. And eat them warm. With a tall class of cool milk. But skip the extra butter on top--and I never thought I'd say that about anything.

Rustic Blueberry Scones with Lemon & Ginger
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
4 tblsp. cold butter, cuting into small cubes
3 tblsp. sugar, plus some for topping
2 tsp. fresh lemon zest
1 1/2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup half-and-half, plus more for glazing
1 large egg

Preheat your oven to 425º F.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Using hands, rub the butter into the flour mixture. Squeeze & pinch until the flour will stick together slightly when pinched between two fingers & no large lumps of butter remain. Add sugar, lemon zest, ginger, & blueberries (rinsed & dried) & whisk everything together.

Measure 1/2 cup half-and-half into a large measuring cup. Crack egg into half-and-half and whisk together. (I would suggest making sure you have a clean surface to knead your dough on before adding the liquid--your hands will be pretty doughy). Add liquid to dry ingredients & stir with your hands, or a spatula. That might be better... When all the dry ingredients are just incorporated, turn the dough out onto a flat, dry surface. DO NOT OVERWORK THE DOUGH. (Or yourself. This is brunch, after all.) 

Knead the dough no more than 12 times. I didn't count, but this is what the original recipe tells me, so I thought I'd pass on the wisdom. Flatten the dough into a large disk, about 1 inch thick. Transfer to large baking sheet coated in non-stick spray. Cut the disk into 8 wedges & separate them slightly, so all the edges can brown. 

Glaze the tops of scones with about 2 tbsp. of half-and-half, then sprinkle with sugar. Bake for about 12 minutes, until the edges are golden brown.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

YOU Choose

I am opening a poll. (See, look. > It's over there. Go, fleet little voting fingers.) There are many reasons for this. They are mostly these:

1- I'm curious to see how many people actually read this blog, or even look at it. (AKA - Why did you all stop commenting?)

2- I am sometimes not so good at decision making. So you do it.

3- I'd like to see what type of food you people might be looking for.

4- I want to please my fans. & I just want fans. :) love me.

...that's pretty much it. So, vote. Exercise your democratic taste buds. So, tell me whatcha want, whatcha really really want.

thanks & stuff.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Note of Explanation, An Intro, As It Were

I love food. I love my family. I love my friends. I love fish. I love fresh fruit.  I love Firebird Suite by Stravinsky. I love french bread. I love fruit bars. I love flying. I love firelight. I love films. I also love a lot of things that don't begin with the letter F, but once I got going... sometimes I like themes & lists.

But the point is really in those first loves--I love food, family, & friends. Mostly, I like food because it usually carries stories. Some meals are forever connected to certain memories. Some recipes come with the tale of how they have evolved because of circumstances. Some foods always take you back to a specific place & time. The kitchen is definitely the heart of my house; all of my friends have learned that if they come to my house hungry, they probably won't leave that way. My mama, aka the Gooj, is a whiz in the kitchen. She even makes turkey sandwiches better than anyone else. A good meal can make dinner with your best friends that much better or carry you through an extremely awkward first date. Cooking with someone can teach you a lot about how they think, how they work, how they play.

I've just started reading A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg, the creator of Orangette, a blog about recipes & the stories that go with them. I really think she & I should be friends; we both love food, we both don't remember ever really learning to cook--it just happened, we both lack the ability to follow a recipe precisely, & we both have a tendency to talk too much & start rambling after a while...oh. Yeah. Like that.

If you're a follower of this lovely little blog o' mine, you may have noticed that recently there have been a lot fewer random ramblings & a lot more recipes. This has been both intentional & a natural evolution. This switch from musings to measurements might seem a bit... well... boring. But food is a part of life, like it or not. You can scarf down a sandwich begrudgingly, or you can celebrate the variety of flavors that fill the earth. I've definitely done both. I like taking the time to savor a meal much better.

So, if you've been wondering why I've sounded more like Julia Child lately, it's because I'm trying to tell my stories in a slightly different way--via recipe.

Bon Appétit!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Yellow Curry with Sweet Potatoes & Chicken

Sorry, not the most creative title. I will gladly take suggestions on improvements. But, it's been a long day, please forgive.

So, two days ago, I made these fabulous coconut cookies. This meant that I had an almost-full can of coconut milk--and you can't just throw coconut milk away! I looked through a few recipe books and decided that an authentic Thai-style yellow curry was my best bet. But I didn't have all the necessary ingredients, and I've never been to Thailand. But I have been to India. So as usual, I just sort of looked at a few different recipes, picked my favorite things from each, and made it all up as I went. My curry was very loosely based on this recipe from Taste of Thai. And the result was a rather tasty, warm curry that made me feel like I should have been eating on a banana leaf. And again, as usual, these quantities are... approximate. I don't really measure, I just...cook. But the great thing about curry is that you can change it up to fit your taste--if you want more kick, add more black pepper. If you want more of that slow burn, kick up the cumin, cloves, and paprika.

Thai Indian Yellow Curry w/ Chicken & Potatoes
1 not-quite-full can of coconut milk
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
4 green onions, diced
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tblsp. sesame oil
1 large sweet potato, pealed & diced
4 small red potatoes, diced
1 tblsp. yellow curry powder
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 tsp. soy sauce
1 tblsp. brown sugar
dash of cumin
dash of ginger
dash of ground cloves
dash of lime juice 
1 tblsp. cornstarch

In a large sauce pan (I don't have a wok), heat sesame oil until it starts to smell a little nutty. Add garlic & the white parts of the diced green onion. Add curry powder & saute until the garlic starts to brown & the curry smells like amazing (strong).
When the onions become slightly translucent, add half of the coconut milk and most of the chicken broth (save a few tblsps of broth to make a slurry with the cornstarch), & bring to a boil. Add soy sauce, lime juice, ginger, cloves, red pepper, cumin, paprika, salt, & pepper. When the liquid boils, add the potatoes. Add the remaining coconut milk. 

Simmer uncovered for about 5 minutes, then add the diced chicken. Cover and simmer for about 15 more minutes, until the chicken is thoroughly cooked & the potatoes are tender. If you prefer a thicker sauce, add cornstarch mixed with chicken broth about 3 minutes before removing the curry from the heat.

Serve with rice & top with remaining diced green onions.

I'd post a picture, but I'm on a dial-up connection here. So. That's not happening. But use your imagination--it's a very yellow concoction.  

Friday, June 25, 2010

A Lovely Bunch of Coconut Cookies

A new and exciting trend is taking my little Idaho hometown by storm-- Bountiful Baskets. It's a fantastic idea, really; each week, you order a basket filled with an assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables, and when Saturday rolls around, you go pick your basket at the nearest Bountiful Drop Off location. But here's the catch-- you never know exactly what you're going to get. It's like Christmas morning, only with produce. I'm a big fan. (My birthday is in August. Please feel free to give me obscure fruits and veggies.)

And it was through these lovely baskets that we came to be the proud owners of three fresh coconuts. Three.

Um. Now what? And have you seen a fresh coconut lately? It's protected by nature's version of armor plating. And once you do get that brown husk cracked open (I had to use a really big hammer and a lot of moxey), getting all the good stuff out isn't easy. But I was motivated by a tasty looking recipe for coconut shortbread from one of my favorite cooking blogs, Smitten Kitchen (lovely pictures). So. Armed with a butter knife and a melon baller, I attacked. About an hour and a half later, I had the lovely white flesh from one half of my coconut, some slightly roughed-up hands, coconut oil all over said hands as well as my arms, and some flecks of coconut in my hair. It was a battle. I consider myself victorious.

Anywho, long story somewhat short, I grated my spoils, toasted (at 325 °F) them until they were lovely golden brown, and adapted the following recipe from SK. I wanted a bit more coconut flavor, and a slightly softer, chewier cookie, so I added brown sugar and a bit of coconut milk. This didn't work in the soft/chewy department, but I would like to think that it did add a bit of depth in the tasty department. I also decided to top the cookies with some lovely sugar crystals, which required a light egg wash to stick. And now, without further ado:

Coconut Shortbread Cookies
1 1/2 sticks salted sweet cream butter, softened (it's worth investing in the good stuff)
3/4 cups flaked coconut (I used a blend of fresh & the sweetened stuff from a package)
1/2 cup sugar, minus about 1 tblsp.
2 tblspoons brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tblspoons coconut milk
1 1/3 cups flour
pinch of salt
sugar crystals, as a garnish

Preheat oven to 325°F. Spread coconut flakes on a baking sheet & bake until coconut is light golden, stirring about every 4 minutes. It will brown rather quickly, so keep an eye on it. Cool completely, then grind in a food processor or blender until coarsely ground. (Really- let it cool first. I didn't & it was kinda hard to get out of the blender.) 

With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugars. Add vanilla, coconut milk, & a pinch of salt. Blend thoroughly, then add the flour in two separate additions--this just helps it all combine a bit more smoothly. Scrap down the sides of the bowl & stir in ground coconut. Scoop out your dough (it will be a bit soft) onto a large sheet of plastic wrap, wrap it up, & let it chill out in the fridge for about an hour.

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Coat your counter with flour & roll out a portion of the dough to a very thin 1/4 inch. Using whatever smallish cookie cutters you like (I used various circles & hearts) & place the shapes on baking sheet. Bake for about 13 minutes, until golden brown, & let cool on pan before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Voila. You now know how to tackle a coconut, wrest it's gloriously rich white goodness from the shell (the melon baller was the best option), & make said goodness into even better cookies. Victory.  

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Remember When...

I used to write a new blog post, like, every three days? It makes me wonder how I had so much time/stuff to say.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Summer Sunrise

I have had a fantastic morning. You know those mornings where things just keep getting better & you're listening to all of your favorite songs & it's good you're about to burst?

 I love those.

THEN, I made the following recipe for breakfast & my day almost exploded with amazingness.

By small & simple breakfasts doth great mornings come to pass.

Summer Fruit Salad & Yogurt
serves at least 3, probably 4

8-10 ripe strawberries
1 ripe mango (or mahngoe, if you prefer)
2 ripe bananas
1 large navel orange
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk

plain yogurt

Peel mango, orange, & banana. Dice all fruit into a large bowl. Add sweetened condensed heavenly goodness milk & mix it up. Let the fruit mixture sit for a few minutes & get all juicy & fantastic.

Divide yogurt into bowls & top with fruit salad. Yes, it really is that easy.

NOTE: This summery fruit blend is also a great topping for yellow cake.

Serving Suggestion: Eat while listening/dancing around the kitchen to Van Morrison & David Gray.

Okay, so you can't really see it, because of the
way my bowl is glowing in such a heavenly way but
it's also a really pretty salad.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Oh Bother

 I have to cook dinner for 30 hungry Spanish-speaking people on Wednesday.

That's a lot of people.

I am, as always, "cooking on the fly." This does not mean I will be cooking insects. It means I don't have any sort of actual recipe, but rather a vague concept of what I'd like to cook & how I hope it will turn out.

Current Game Plan: Chicken Pasta Primavera with Browned Butter & Garlic Sauce
(translation: I pan fry chicken. I cook butter until it browns, add fresh garlic & a lot of spices, & pour it over cooked noodles, red pepper, cucumbers, spinach, onions...& possibly broccoli. Yay/nay on the broccoli?! Mix it all up. Voila.) 

I am armed with 5, yes, 5 "family sized" packages of rotini.

I will be cooking on a Barbie-sized stove.

Think happy kitchen thoughts for me?  

Oh, & desert is vanilla ice cream with coconut caramel sauce. New twist on an old favorite. This is my fridge, already awaiting its debut. whew. 

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Orange-glazed Pork Chops

In a burst of culinary creativity (and with the help of my Gooj), I've invented about five new recipes in the last couple weeks. It's been delicious. I hadn't realized how much I had missed spending time in the kitchen! I'll be posting more in the coming weeks, now that my crazy semester is over. whew.

I'm still in Provo, spending Spring Term living in La Casa Española in the FLSR (Foreign Language Student Housing). Living here is a bit like Harry Potter, only with languages instead of magic. And I'm loving being roomies with my Carrieface again.

Each night, our house gets together for dinner. We take turns cooking and helping each other out, and last Wednesday, I was playing assistant chef to my amigo, Casey. He had a recipe for a citrus and pork chop casserole sort of thing...? But we weren't exactly sure how it was all supposed to come together, whether the rice should be cooked, how everything should be layered, etc. All we really knew was that orange juice, shallots, pork chops, chicken broth, and rice were supposed to somehow come together to make dinner. As that seemed rather mysterious, I suggested to Casey that we cook the rice on its own--even rice deserves a bit of independence--and make sauce to pour over the pork chops before baking them. I was completely winging this and cooking for 30, so these measurements are... approximate. And it was my first time ever cooking or even eating pork chops! But it was yummy!

Bon appétit and buena suerte! And, of course, I added a bit of extra spice. And some butter. mmhmm... 

Saucy Oranged Pork Chops (For 6)
That ^ was a typo, but I like it.
6 pork chops (redundant much...?)
3 or 4 shallots, minced
2 tbsp butter (maybe a bit more...)
3 cups of orange juice
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 of a can of chicken broth
1 1/2 tbsp corn starch
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
dash of cayenne pepper
salt & pepper to taste

In a large (and deep) skillet, melt butter and saute shallots on medium-high heat, stirring regularly to prevent shallots from sticking and burning. When shallots start to soften, add paprika, red pepper, nutmeg, cayenne, and salt and pepper, to taste. Once the shallots have browned, leave the pan on the heat, take a step back from the stove, and add orange juice. The step back is necessary because this should ideally cause a mighty spicy citrus steam-cloud.

Stir in brown sugar and let the sauce reduce for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, rinse and dry pork chops and place them in a greased baking dish. Season chops with salt and pepper. (Depending on the size of your pork chops, you may have to use a 9x13 and an 8x8. Do not use a cookie sheet, as it won't be deep enough.)Mix cornstarch with chicken broth and add to sauce mixture. Let cook for about ten more minutes. Gently pour sauce over chops--be sure each one gets some shallots on top. Bake at 370 F for about 45 minutes. Disfruta!

Unfortunately, these chops were a big hit and everyone was really hungry, so I didn't get any photo evidence of their goodness. This will have to do.
& Pasta with fresh tomatoes & basil  & 
spicy browned butter & garlic sauce. mmhmm. 

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Rock On

Once upon a time, there was this band called Muse. Behold/listen: they rock.

Once upon a much earlier time, there was my daddy. He's kind of an old fart. He's a slightly stubborn fighter who doesn't give up. Ever. Never start a water fight with this man. You will lose. After battling cancer for almost twenty years, he's pretty skinny. He happens to be a huge Muse fan.

And let me tell you, that old dude can really rock.
This last week, Daddy finally cashed in on his biggest Christmas present from me, and we went to the Muse concert in SLC. It was, in a word, epic. 
We rocked. 
We rolled. 
We endured a random Utah blizzard. 
We maybe might have almost blown the Bose speakers in the car on our way back to Provo. 
We stopped at In-N-Out at midnight. 
Yes, it is the week before finals. Yes, I have four major projects still to do. Yes, I had class the next day. Yes, I lost my voice for a day from screaming and singing so loudly. Yes, this did not help my sleep deprived state.
No, do not have any regrets.
Love you, Daddy. Keep rockin', dude.
This song goes out to you.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


The list of things I should be doing
is long enough to wrap around me.
Three times around me.
But the play of the clouds
won't let me focus
on all those waiting things,
waiting for that check mark that means
freedom is one scribble closer.

But they can wait.
They won't change.
But this hazy blanket of grey
is never the same.
I watch it crawl across the sky,
slowly overtaking the brilliant white cumulus
that floats high, shining in the pale blue.
Spring defying the winter gloom.

Beyond the grey,
the clouds look warm and soft,
gentle under the sun,
mimicking the way I feel.
And as the snow starts to drift past my window
while the sun still shines through,
I think of how nice it would be
to watch this struggle across the blue
from the warmth of your arms,
to feel the sun on my face
and listen
as you tell me
precisely why the clouds form the way they do.

And then I'd tell you the truth of why
they curl up on the edges that way.
See that swirl, there?
That's a smirk.
They would look down and see us here,
a mix of white and brown,
blue and grey.
And they'd be jealous.
Because not even drifting
across that hopeful blue sky
could feel this perfect.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Just for Funny Sharing Time with You Things

I have found a new procrastination tool - yay! is a dangerously hilarious spot for a future editor. Enroy!

I love we toast.
No you be mean travelers.
Thank you, India, for confirming my gender for me. Now I know why they were always so...thorough when I went through security.
Because everyone knows that the only way to ride a motorcycle is by moonlight. 
 Oh, India, how I miss thee...
Sweet sleepy dreaming are the flowers also.
Whoa-oa-oa, Kelsey...

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sweet Comfort in a Bowl - Rice Pudding

Last night, I was treated to a lovely dinner at Spark, a classy club-like establishment in downtown Provo. I ordered butternut squash ravioli in a leek cream sauce. It was warm & filling, with many complex, yet subtle, flavors. It was delicious & lead to an epiphany: I don't do subtle. I like it, but I'm not good at it. The dishes I cook are full of bold, fresh, outspoken flavors (I feel like I just described myself more than my cooking). So, in an attempt to broaden my culinary range (& myself), today I opted for a classic simple comfort food--rice pudding.

There's something really cozy--and subtle--about rice pudding. There are a lot of reasons for that; the warm creaminess, the vanilla, the cinnamon. But I think mostly it's because of Costco and the giant tubs of Kozy Shack rice pudding that they sell. Back when Gooj & I made frequent pilgrimages to that Mecca of bulk foodstuffs, we would often buy one of those giant tubs of goodness, steal a couple spoons from the Costco eatery, and eat half of the pudding before we even got home. This was occasionally messy, but always delicious.

So today, in homage to my Gooj (& because it sounds yummy and goes with the whole subtle thing), I thought I'd try making my own cozy rice pudding. This is based on a recipe from Smitten Kitchen, a recipe blog that full of wit, great recipes, and pictures that make me ashamed of my sad attempts at kitchen photography.

Rice Pudding
1 cup basmati rice
4 cups water
2 slices orange zest
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
dash of allspice
1 small piece fresh ginger (about a 1/8 inch slice)

1 egg
3 cups milk
2 tblsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. Mexican vanilla
1 12 oz. can sweetened condensed milk - less about 1 1/2 tblsp
cinnamon - to taste

In a large saucepan, combine rice, water, orange peel, nutmeg, allspice, and fresh ginger. I also added a pinch of salt. Let this mixture soak for 1 hour. After one hour of soaking--this is like a day at the spa for rice-- bring to a high boil. Reduce heat until rice is at a steady simmer. Cook for 12–15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the almost all of the water has evaporated. Remove ginger.

While rice cooks, beat egg in a medium bowl. Add milk, brown sugar, vanilla, and almost the entire can of sweetened condensed milk to the egg--I held some back because I didn't want it to be too sweet, but if you want something a bit more toothsome, you can add the entire can. Add milk mixture to rice and simmer gently. Cook for another 20–30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. Keep an eye on the heat; if your flame is too high, the rice will  stick and scorch on the bottom (these stuck spots became my "testers"). 

When the pudding reaches the consistency that looks most yummy to you, turn off the heat & allow it to cool for a few minutes (or until completely cool, if you prefer). Pudding will thicken as it cools.

Top with cinnamon and serve. mmhmm.

*photos to come*

Friday, February 26, 2010

Something I Didn't Write

...but how I wish I had. I found this on a blog that also isn't mine. I believe it was taken from First Poems by Rainer Maria Rilke.

And it's lovely.

Understand, I'll slip away quietly
Away from the noisy crowd.
When I see the pale
Stars rising, blooming over the oaks,
I'll pursue solitary pathways
Through the pale twilit meadows, 
With only this one dream:
You come too.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Random Amalgam

Some random thoughts for the day:

Number of things I have eaten today: 3
Number of things I have eaten today that contained spinach: 3 (yup, even breakfast)
Are my eyes bright green YET?

Today I learned that the fur on the hood of my coat has a purpose. I learned this because I took the fur off. Bad move. Its purpose is to catch all the snowflakes that usually get in your eyes and hold them captive in all of its furry fury. I had very wet eyelashes when I got to class this morning.

I think I have Multiple Fashion Personality Disorder. Yesterday, I wore skinny jeans, tweed ballet flats, and a tailored white blouse from BR. It required almost no matching skills from me and felt very '50s/Audrey cute/springtimey. This might also be called "Kels' Ideal Outfit." Today I'm scuffing around in my blue chucks with plain jeans and a blue long-sleeved thermal top. Monochrom/pajamas. It's cold? For the sake of I just want to, this is yesterday's ensemble. I now feel like one of those fashionista bloggers & their selftimers. gah. It's really a shame you can't see how perfect this shirt is - it has tan buttons and sleeves that poof, just so.
this is me, being narcissistic. & cheeky.
And then there's this: I call it "Juxtaposition." 

thanks, facebook
Happy Wednesday. Thanks for wandering through my random thoughts with me.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Lemon Butter & Green Veggie Pasta

I've been on a veggie kick of late (it's crazy how eating green things can make you feel so much better--green gummy bears are included in my category of life-improving green things). Last night, I was craving some simple noodles with some fresh green goodness. I threw together this super simple pasta dish in about 15 minutes.

Lemon & Garlic Butter Pasta with Broccoli & Spinach
1 box rotini noodles
1 head of fresh broccoli
1 1/2 cups fresh spinach leaves
1 clove fresh garlic
2 tblsp. fresh lemon juice (I used that fake lemon from a bottle and it was still good)
4 tblsp. butter
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
parmesan cheese
salt &  pepper to taste

In a large pot, bring about 1 1/2 quarts of water to a bowl. Salt water and add noodles. As the noodles cook, prep broccoli and spinach. Rinse broccoli and cut into small florets a.k.a. bite-size bits.  Chiffonade spinach leaves. (Chiffonade is a fancy French word that means "to shred or cut finely." Here's how it's done: First, take a handful of your spinach and stack the leaves so the lie fairly flat; this doesn't have to be perfect, just a bit organized. Second, roll the stack of leaves into a bundle, kind of like you would roll up a newspaper. Third, place the bundly on a cutting board--keep holding on to it, or it will come unrolled--and slice through the bundle of leaves with a sharp knife, just like you would to cut a cucumber into rounds. I made my slices about 1/4 inch thick. This technique can also be used to chop fresh basil, mint, sage, and even cilantro and parsely.) Set veggies aside - they don't join the party until later.

As the pasta continues to boil, melt 2 tblsp. of butter in a small saute pan. Dice garlic and add to sizzling butter. Combine red pepper and a bit of cracked black pepper. Saute until garlic turns slightly golden brown. (And fills your entire apartment with its aroma, as my roommates could testify.) Add remaining 2 tblsp. of butter and remove from heat.

Test pasta. As so as it is almost done as you like it, add the broccoli. The broccoli only needs to cook with the pasta for about 1 minute. Drain pasta and broccoli and add back to the pan. While the pasta is still hot, stir in the spinach. The left-over heat will cook the spinach just enough, leaving it a lovely green color. Just before serving, add lemon juice to melted butter. Stir thouroughly and pour over pasta and veggies.

Server topped with plenty of parmesan cheese and freshly cracked black pepper.

*Unfortunately, there are no pictures of this dish, as I gobbled it up too quickly. So, instead, since I'm craving summertime even more than green veggies, there's this. Cause nothing says summer like rainbow sandals, beat-up concrete, bare legs, and bright blue toenails.*

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ginger Glazed Sweet Potatoes & Spinach Smoothies

a.k.a - The College Girl's Anti-Scurvy Dinner.

Lately, my diet has been very well rounded. And by "well rounded" I mean bagel, tortilla, and cheerio shaped. Being a TA and tackling the last of my classes for my minor in editing has kept me so busy the the whole concept of sitting down to eat a meal has been a bit neglected. Bananas and Honey Nut Cheerios are breakfast, an asiago bagel is lunch, and by the time I get home each night, a quesadilla is about all I can manage.

But this is NOT HEALTHY. So. After a very productive (and very needed--my milk definitely tasted a bit "special" on Tuesday morning) trip to the market last night, I'm treating myself to a host of veggie splendor.

I have a major thing for sweet potatoes and, of late, a major thing for ginger (see last three recipes), so I thought I would bring the two together in hopes of splendid results. Voila! This sweet potato recipe is very loosely based on a recipe I found HERE at Food Network--thanks, friends. Also, sweet potatoes are full of vitamins, protein, fiber, and antioxidants. One sweet spud will give you over 700% of your daily need of vitamin A. And ginger has been shown to promote good digestive health.

Brown Sugar & Ginger Glazed Sweet Potatoes
4 tblsp. extra virgin olive oil
3 tblsp. brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1/2 to 1 tsp. diced fresh ginger
1/4 tsp. cayenne peper
salt & freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
2 sweet potatoes, diced

Heat oven to 425* F. Wash and peel sweet potatoes, then slice into slightly-bigger-than-bite-size chucks. In a large bowl, combine olive oil, brown sugar, cayenne, and ginger. And sweet potatoes and toss until the potatoes are well coated in the glaze. Bake at 425 for about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

Spinach & Pineapple Smoothie a.k.a Goojah's Green Goodness
Credit for this recipe goes to my mother (fondly called Goojah), who became enlightened about the goodness of spinach smoothies thanks to the wisdom of a friendly Costco taster/demo lady. This recipe makes about two smoothies.

2 cups fresh spinach, packed
1/2 can of crushed pineapple or about a cup of fresh pineapple
1/2 cup white grape juice concentrate
2 tblsp. limeaid concentrate
1 1/2 cups ice
(opt) 1 ripe banana

Add it all to your blender and blend on high (you might need to add a bit of water). If you don't want to stain your kitchen green, be sure the lid is on tight. Blend and pulse until smooth, about 1 minute. Enjoy - just try not to think about how what you're drinking looks a bit like pond scum. :)

Just Listen

*stay tuned for two new [super veggie] recipes*

You should probably listen to/watch these things. Your soul will thank you.

Vitamin String Quartet is my latest music obsession; they cover popular rock songs via, well, strings--cello, violin, and viola. Many thanks to the Crandalls for introducing me to this incredible new source of music. Their awesomeness is worthy of a bulleted list of hyperlinkage--and these are just my "must listens."
Oh, and while you're at it, watch this version of "21 Guns" by Green Day--apparently they're making a musical? Who knew. Anywho, it's fantastic.

That should keep you entertained for a few hours. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Ties of Love - 6 Months Later

6 months ago today, I was getting on an airplane and beginning the biggest journey of my life. The sun was just coming up as I departed Salt Lake City. 34 hours later, after touching down in Hong Kong, I would finally see the sun set. (Snow Patrol was my flying music of choice, hence the new additions to the playlist.)

24 days, 8 flights, 1,783 pictures, and 37 friendship bracelets later, I was back in the US. My three weeks in India with Rising Star Outreach were some of the best weeks of my life. Every day held new experiences, new opportunities to serve, new opportunities to love. Six months later, I still think about the strength of the incredible people I met in the leprosy colonies every day. I still miss the little ones who taught me so much about unconditional love. Here are few of my favorite photos from those three weeks.

This "bracelet" was a gift from my buddy Aravind. The children loved giving the volunteers gifts; we were constantly finding stickers, candy wrappers, leaves, pictures, and strings accompanied by little love notes. These little strings are faded and worn, now, and soon I'll finally take them off and tuck them away in my journal. But for now they remind me that sometimes the greatest love is shown in the smallest ways.

At Rising Star, birthdays are a big deal. On Rosemary's fifth birthday, she got to wear a beautiful fancy dress and share a huge cake with all of the other students.

Mariadas and co excitedly awaiting their slice of cake.

Playing with my little Ajay on my last day at Rising Star.

Though I made many friendship bracelets while at the school, these two were very special. When I first arrived at Rising Star, Ajay was a very quiet little fellow who didn't spend much time with the volunteers. But a few days later, he and I were having thumb wars and reading some stories before bedtime. The days are long at RSO, and a very tired Ajay fell asleep in my arms. That subtle display of love and trust opened my heart. Ajay and I became very close during my time at RSO, and he blossomed with a bit of special attention and love. I made these identical bracelets a few days before I returned to the US, and mine hasn't left my wrist since.

Playtime with my favorite little climbers, Ajay, Mariadas, Jarnarthanan, and Sebastin.

My first glimpse of the Taj Mahal, where I watched the sun rise on my twentieth birthday.

Taking care of a very ill Kristaraj on Independence Day in India.

My dear friend Ravi Chandran. Never have a known a kinder man with a brighter or more loving spirit. Though he has been affected by leprosy for most of his life, he spends most of his time taking care of the other patients of the small leprosy hospital he calls home. Singing and laughing with Ravi was a highlight of my time in India.

With fellow volunteers Jared, Sami, Kristin, and Jenny in the home of one of the leprosy patients.

Can't you see the mischief in Satia's eyes? She's full of it.

Carly, Karly, and me in our India best with Joyce and Ron Hanson.

Lunch - mmm, Limca... how I miss thee.

Though the colors have faded (along with my summer tan), the memories of the people I came to love have not. I am so grateful that I was blessed with such an incredible opportunity. I went to India thinking I would be teaching English, but I learned so much more than I ever taught.
Naan unae khadlikkiren.
(I love you)