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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Banana Nutella Bread Pudding

MIDTERMS ARE OVER! Yes, this deserves to be in all caps, for two reasons. First, because it means Spring Break is right around the corner and that I can finally stop being a zombie and staring at my computer screen and might even be able to get some color besides the shade of white, and second, because it's time to celebrate. Every stressful event needs to be required by a de-stressing one and what other way to de-stress then bake up a dish that is literally comfort summed up into a bite. For me, the most comforting dessert on the planet is bread pudding. Its gooey, its warm, it can be chocolatey, and its everything you want to taste/feel after you've had a rough week. Tonight, I decided to try a new rendition and bake banana nutella bread pudding. I threw together a rough recipe, baked it up, and am watching as it not-so-slowly disappears. Ya, midterms SUCK, but eating this makes me forget they ever even happened.
Banana Nutella Bread Pudding

1 loaf of white bread, preferably slightly stale
1 jar nutella
4 ripe bananas
2 cups half and half
1 cup heavy cream
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 tbs vanilla

Recipe: Preheat the oven to 370 degrees. The bread is preferably stale and slightly crusty, so if you have time let it sit out over night, but if not, bake in oven at low heat for about 15 minutes until it dries up a bit. Smother each piece in bread with a generous amount of nutella and then sandwich two pieces together. Roughly chop or tear the sandwiched pieces into bite sized ones. Butter a casserole or deep dish pan. Chop the bananas into rounds. Put a layer of torn nutella bread pieces in the pan, cover with banana, and repeat until you finish with bananas on top. In a separate bowl, combine half and half, cream, eggs, sugar, and vanilla, and whisk until well combined. Pour this slowly and evenly over casserole dish with bread and banana pieces. Let soak for at least 30 minutes, or up to 3 hours in the fridge so the bread can really absorb the liquid. Put in oven and bake for about 25 minutes, until the top is crusty and the bread is fluffy and liquid no longer shakes when pan is touched.

Serving Suggestions: Serve warm with ice cream, plain, or whipped cream. Eat, inhale, and DE-STRESS.

Sandwich bread with TONS of nutella and tear into pieces.
 Layer bananas and bread pieces.

 Pour liquid mixture over and let it rest and absorb.
 Bake in the oven and dunn donna dun....

Tamara my taste tester!
My babies.
Louise, my sous-chef for the evening, is VERY excited about the pudding!

peace midterms, hello heaven

My Minestrone Soup

It's raining. It's cold. Its honestly disgusting out. But I could care less. Why? Because today is the perfect SOUP day. (If you are a new follower, your unaware of my love for soup, but I'm actually obsessed). Anyways, today was just the perfect day to sop up some delicious, warm, comforting soup and the rain was only going to fuel my desire. Luckily, today I had plans to cook for Nnes and Feli, and had the accompaniment of my trusty sous-chef Ali. I was in the mood to be healthy, but hearty, and Ali and I went roaming through the aisles of Fresh Grocer to get inspired. I saw a big bunch of swiss chard and immediately thought of minestrone. I've made vegetable soup before, but not specifically minestrone, so today seemed like the day to try. I wasn't really in the mood to follow a recipe so decided to make my own and stocked up and typical things that I thought my minestrone soup needed. We didn't want to settle for one course, so Ali, in typical brilliant fashion, suggested a parmesan arugula salad, which was the perfect side dish for some nice warm soup especially because the arugula is peppery and has a bit of a kick, beautifully complimenting the savory flavor of the minestrone. Served with a piece of big crusty bread and eaten to the backdrop of some John Mayer, it was a lovely afternoon.

My Minestrone Soup
(serves 4)

2 tbs olive oil
1 large vidalia onion
5 large carrots
1 large zucchini
1 large squash
2 tbs tomato paste
1 can of large butter beans
1 can diced tomatoes, save juices
1 large bunch swiss chard
8 cups chicken broth
parmesan cheese

Recipe: Put a large soup pot on the stove, add olive oil, and turn to medium-high heat. Chop the onion, carrots, zucchini, and squash into even bite size pieces. First add the onions and carrots and cook for about 5 minutes until onions start to turn translucent. Add the zucchini and squash and cook down until tender, about 7 more minutes. Add the tomato paste, stir until well combined with vegetables and cook for about 5 more minutes. Drain the butter beans and rinse with water and add to the pot. Add the entire can of tomatoes, juices included, in as well. Finally add the chicken broth. Cook down for 10 minutes. Roughly chop the swiss chard and throw it into the mix, cover the pot, and cook for about 25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve in bowls and top with fresh parmesan cheese. ENJOY.

All the vegetables getting in the mix.
 Add the tomatoes, cook doooowwwn and get those flavors strong.
 Honestly this is screaming rainy day.

Arugula and Parmesan Salad


for vinaigrette:
1 tbs Dijon Mustard
3 tbs Olive Oil
1 tbs Balsamic Vinegar
2 tbs Red Wine Vinegar
1 tbs Honey

Recipe: Wash arugula. Shave parmesan on a grater in thin sheets. Combine vinaigrette ingredients and whisk until well mixed. Toss salad with dressing.

Some very happy customers.

rain rain go away, come again so I can make soup though

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Slutty Brownies

Okay, so yes, it is 2 am. And yes, this cannot wait. This post is urgent because me and my gurlz created some delicious amazing-ness during these early hours of the morning that need to be shared with the world IMMEDIATELY. Seriously, we'd be doing the world an injustice by keeping these a secret which is why this post is going up NOW. So, thanks to my star sous-chef Ali's stumbling trips on the internet, we were inspired to create these brownies. A layer of cookie dough, pressed oreos, then topped with brownie batter and all baked together. Now yes, this might seem decadent enough on its own, but why not really go for it and make it that much more over the top? In this case, more is better, way better, which is why these little pieces of paradise then got smothered with caramel and white chocolate. A little lavish, maybe, but it really completes this fairy tale of a dessert. Think killer red-carpet worthy Versace dress paired with Jimmy Choos, and THEN topped with some Harry Winston dripping diamond earrings. Sometimes more is just necessary. Sugar coma? yes. Heavenly and amazing? yes. Success? check please.

Now while I'm quite the Suzy home-maker and always am a fan of homemade, these take long enough to bake because they're thick and boxed mixes make it quick, easy, and just as delicious.


2 packs of chocolate chip cookie dough
2 boxes brownie mix
2 eggs
1/2 cup water
2/3 cup vegetable oil
12 oz. white chocolate chips
2 bags of chewy caramels

Recipe: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a baking pan with thick sides. Press cookie dough into the pan in an even layer, about half an inch thick. Arrange oreos atop the cookie dough in even lines. Press them in a little bit so they are somewhat stuck to the dough. In a mixing bowl, combine the brownie mix, the eggs, water and oil and whisk until smooth. Pour the brownie batter over the oreo topped cookie dough and spread evenly. Bake for about 40 minutes. It will take longer then usual because they are SUPER thick, but make sure they stay fudgy and don't get too well done because they are always better gooey. While the brownies cool, melt white chocolate chips with 1 tbs vegetable oil in a double boiler. Melt the caramels in the microwave. Using a fork, drizzle the caramel and chocolate over the brownies. Step back and marvel at your masterpiece.

Why yes, that is cookie dough, oreos, AND brownies in one bite.

My baking bunch minus me and Louise

We are accepting marriage proposals but they're piling up so get on it...

happy late night-snacking

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Bee's Knees

When grabbing lunch, my friend Maddie suggested that we hit up a food cart that neither of us had been to, but had heard plenty about. Tyson’s Bee, located right outside of Franklin Field on 33rd street was certainly hard to miss. It’s bright orange vibrant body covered in graffiti made it a unique standout and it’s definitely the prettiest food truck I’ve seen around campus. So, as per Maddie’s suggestion, we went to try it. I was glad when she had the idea because not only was I eager to try but I had class right across the street and was literally DYING of hunger. I mean it’s not like I eat a lot so I had total reason to be hungree right? #biggestjokeofalltime

Tyson’s Bee features innovate Korean and Thai inspired food that’s easy to eat on the go, fresh, and totally delicious. They offer a weekly curry, multiple kinds of tacos, hotdogs **shoutout to KELSEY we must try**, rice-bowls, and sandwiches. Having the appetite of a small horse, I decided to really go for it, and luckily, Maddie was feeling hungree right there with me. I ordered the Thai basil chicken over sticky rice and Maddie went with the tofu wrap. And because I always say one dish per person is never enough, we ordered 3 tacos to share: two Edamame and one Korean BBQ beef short-rib. After placing our order we were handed a playing card which was to be called when our order was ready. Seriously, how clever! (We were Queen of hearts, totally fate, because we both happen to be queens of many hearts, duh).  After a quick wait and a completely fair price tag, (all our food together was $15), we ventured to find somewhere to have our picnic.

Well, today, for whatever reason may be, seemed to be the most crowded day of the year in terms of lunch spots. Everywhere was packed. But we were two determined hungree girls eager to dig in so when we spotted an open window bench we created some makeshift chair tables and went to work on the food.

My Thai Basil Chicken was fragrant, potent, and flavorful. Hearty chunks of chicken were smothered in a vibrant creamy sauce that packed a bit of a spicy punch. Cashews were also thrown into the mix and gave the silky texture of the sauce a nice crunch. The sticky rice was also awesome, super sticky and sweet and majorly absorbent of all the flavors of the dish. Topped with some fresh basil, it was bit chin.

Maddie’s tofu wrap was light, refreshing, and the absolute perfect thing to grab and eat on the go. It had clean and crisp flavors and was full of a great mix of textures that added up to a great combination. The kimchi within the wrap really pushed it to the next level making it oh sooo good.

The tacos were simply beautiful. Served on little corn tortillas, the vibrant green of the edamame stood out in stark contrast against the white radish and the purple cabbage. The edamame ones were crunchy, tasty, and light. Also, definitely innovative, like edamame tacos from a food truck? Whodda

The short rib taco was savory and rich. The short rib had that melt-in-your-mouth quality that I just go weak at the knees for.

So it seems that after this meal and this large amount of consuming Maddie and I wouldn’t be able to move. But that was the unexpected and great surprise. We didn’t feel weighed down and like we needed to curl up on a couch. We felt revived, healthful, and like we were ready and able to be active and do something. Finally, the perfect lunch.  THANK YOU MADDIE for opening my eyes and my stomach to a new hot spot on my list.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Don't Be Bitter

So, Valentine's Day. Sigh.  Today was a day of eating way too many chocolate dove hearts and watching couples rub their PDA in your face. But unlike some who might be bitter about the day, I chose to be the exact opposite: extra extra sweet. This could be a depressing woe-is-me post, but it AINT. What better way to celebrate the holiday of L<3VE then to provide myself with some home-baked loving? Jenna and Brette were also very down to bake and we set to work in the kitchen, baking and munching, and baking and more munching. I, being the werido I am, casually had some cookie dough in my freezer at school and traveled like little red riding hood and brought it over to Jenna's and Brette's apartment. We made quite the dessert buffet: Brette's insane chocolate chip banana bread, Jenna and Brette's famed oreo stuffed brownies, and my white chocolate chip cookies which we turned into homemade Chipwiches. Needless to say, my Valentine's Day was simply SWEET. Happy Valentines Day TO ME, and to you if you want some cookies cuz I'm loaded.

Banana Bread Batter, half went into the pan, half went into our mouths. I want to turn this into ICE CREAM.

Chef Brette mixing it up

Banana dream in it's mold.

DUN DUNNA DUN... toasted, golden, and AHH sooooo good.

Some b-e-a-utiful brownies

Yes, those ARE oreos inside. Can you say Double Stuffed?

This dough is seriously dangerous.

Crispy and DELICATE and yum.

Okay, honestly someone give me a prize.

Yes, now you want me as your valentine, I know.

HAPPY V-DAY, stay strong.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Thai Me Up

If I haven't made this clear before, let me make it clear now. Thai food is my favorite type of cuisine. At home, I eat at my favorite Thai place, Little Thai Kitchen, at least three times a week. Literally I'm obsessed, and I've felt deprived since I've been at school. And then I met Nino. Nino is from Bangkok, Thailand, and Nino loves food. MY TWO FAVORITE COMBINATIONS TOGETHER! The first conversation we had was about food and we hit it off from there. Tonight, Nino and I, (mainly Nino with some sous-chef work by moi) made some Thai curry. It was a green curry base with coconut milk, eggplant, chicken, basil, and chiles which we ate over white rice. It was delicious and definitely had a kick and I'm proud to say I handled the spice well. When Nino visited home for winter break he brought back powdered coconut and special curry blends. While he says the freshly ground curry mixes and freshly harvested rice taste better at home, I think we did a pretty good job. Now I have my go-to Thai chef! And now, a recipe photo collage:

Dice the eggplant into thin rounds

 Artsy close-up of eggplant

Dice the red chillies, they add heat and a pop of color

Nino's trick: Soak the chicken in salt water so it stays moist and juicy when you cook it

Boil the coconut powder in some water, add the curry paste and fry it to release the flavors
The coconut literally smells like heaven, like someone make me a perfume of this PLEASE

Add the eggplant, chicken, chillies, and some roughly chopped basil, simmer until it cooks down and thickens, add a little water as well!

Chef Nino at work

TADA!...salivating looking at this

Ya no big deal, casual presentation

And now a closer look

And even closer.

Thai me a river