Every morning, my dad wakes up and makes a pot of oatmeal for my mom and himself. Well, not this week, because my mom and I are on a no-simple-carbs kick, but in general, that’s what my dad does. BIIIIG bowl of oatmeal, half an apple, half a banana, handful of raisins, yogurt, milk, and some normal dry cereal for crunch. I keep telling him he’s eating a good half-day of calories in one bowl, but he just laughs at me and walks away.

Every morning, my dad wakes up and makes a pot of oatmeal for my mom and himself. And he leaves half an apple and half a banana on the counter every morning. Sometimes it gets eaten later in the day. Sometimes it gets eaten the next morning. But we go through a lot of bananas. And most of the time, I am saved the gag-reflex of the brown bananas (can you tell I’m not a fan?), but occasionally, like this weekend, there are a few that get forgotten and turn from yellow, to yellow-and-brown-spotted, to black.

Of course, yucky as I think overripe bananas are, I think they are wonderful in brown bread form. My mom has a recipe for banana bread that she swears by…I think it’s dry and kind of boring, but maybe it’s because I grew up with it. So for kicks, and partly because we have a bunch of buttermilk hanging out in the fridge, I tried a new recipe. Rocking the whole wheat flour this time around (no-simple-carb-kick I might be on…but whole wheat makes it better, right? Right?!), and the buttermilk makes the bread suuuuuuper fluffy. I think it could do with a little less butter and a little more flour, but I’ll let you be the judge of that.

Speaking of bananas, has anyone ever seen the skit Demetri Martin does on bananas?

Banana Bread

  • 2 c. flour (I did half white/half whole wheat)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 stick of softened butter
  • 1/4 c. walnut oil (Walnut oil, my new baby). I guess you could use canola, grapeseed, coconut, or avocado.
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 c. buttermilk
  • 3 suuuuuuuuuuper ripe bananas
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease two loaf pans.
  2. Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Beat the butter, oil, and sugar together for a few bit.
  4. Add the eggs, vanilla, and buttermilk until the batter is mostly mixed, but not completely.
  5. Mash the bananas with a fork.
  6. Add the dry ingredients, then the bananas. Don’t over-mix the batter. (I did this part by hand *gasp*)
  7. Pour the batter into the pans. Bake 30 minutes and then check the center. You can increase the time to 45 minutes if needed, but be careful you don’t end up with crumbly banana bread.

Today is a sweatpants and sweatshirt day. And a sportsbra. And running shoes. And ponytale. And no makeup. Yesterday was a sweatpants and sweatshirt day. And a sportsbra. And running shoes. And ponytale. And no makeup. Friday was a sweatpants and sweatshirt day. And a sportsbra. And running shoes. And ponytale. And no makeup.

Are you seeing a trend? The thing I like about sweatpants is the anonymity they give me. And the anonymity they give my ass. There is something comforting about not giving a flip how I look. And comfy/not form fitting makes me feel better about the beer weight from A’dam that won’t.go.away. The black sweats I’m wearing today are kind of dancer-esce, so I feel somewhat stylish, despite the grunge. (I see you laughing at me. Silence….Mortal) and these pants are warm, a comfort given the fact that we got three feet of snow yesterday.

But why is she wearing sweatpants? you ask. This is Chantalle, the girl who has successfully survived 7.5 semesters of university with only 1 – I repeat – ONE sweatshirt-to-class day in the entirety of said schooling. Chantalle doesn’t wear sweats. Say, screw makeup? Yeah, she does that. Often. But she does. not. wear. sweats.

You would think there would be a good explanation – having the sniffles, no clean clothes, woke up late, massive hangover – but no, I’m tired of being alive-ish. Not in an “I want to curl up and die” sense, heavens no no no. More like, I’m tired of getting up early, tired of running at the gym, tired of doing my homework, tired of eyeliner, tired of counting calories.

Talk about a productivity cramp, right? The logical thing would be to go on a vacation, snap out of it. But who am I to be logical? That’s just crazy talk. I make crackerjack popcorn instead, overdose on the caramel part, and then take a four hour nap to escape the sugar-induced nausea. At least, that was my approach on Friday. And Saturday. Today, there are two pieces of caramel choco popcorn in the tin and I’m feeling a tad bit guilty. My recourse? I’ll leave them there and blame my dad for eating all of the popcorn.

Crackerjack Popcorn

Medium sauce pan
cookie sheet, lined with wax paper (butter/grease this)
double boiler
candy thermometer or a bowl of cool water

A couple words of note:

  • This recipe is great for parties, Christmas presents, or general snacking needs.
  • If you like peanuts, crush some up and add it to the caramel before pouring it over the popcorn.
  • Be sure to grease the waxed paper, unless you like a little extra roughage with your crackerjacks.
  • Read the Science of Cooking: Candy-making Stages before you start. It’s a great reference for this and other candies and will help clear up any potential temp and candy-stage issues.

1/2 C popcorn kernels
1 T walnut/canola/avocado/coconut oil
1 T butter
1 tsp salt

  1. Heat the oil and butter in a pan until bubbling.
  2. Pour in popcorn, cover with lid, and move pan briskly over burner (you will hear the kernels start to pop after a few minutes) until popcorn has stopped popping.
  3. Remove from heat, sprinkle with salt. Spread popcorn over waxed paper.
  4. Wash your sauce pan out for….

1/2 C white sugar
1/2 C milk or cream
5 Tbs. butter
3(ish) Tbs. agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla

  1. Pour sugar, milk, and agave into sauce pan and heat on medium until just boiling.
  2. Add butter and whisk briskly.
  3. Use the candy thermometer to monitor how hot the caramel gets (you are aiming for 245-250 F, this is somewhere between firm- and hard-ball stage). This part is crucial – DO NOT touch the caramel because it is EXTREMELY hot and will do more than just burn you.
  4. If you are not using a candy thermometer, use your spoon to drop a bit of caramel into the cool water. Fish it out and check its consistency – you are looking for the caramel to be hard but malleable.
  5. Once the right temperature is reached, remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla.
  6. Spoon the caramel over the popcorn. You will most likely end up with clumps of caramel popcorn (you could try mixing it all in a greased bowl, but personally, I like the clumps).

1/4 C. milk chocolate pieces

  1. Heat the chocolate in the double boiler until liquid.
  2. Spoon over the caramel and popcorn.
  3. Let the whole thing cool.

Christmas was spent in Switzerland this year with my friend Rosa and her family. It’s been a lovely trip and everyone has made me feel so at home and welcome despite the fact that I tend on the side of awkward American from time to time. Mainly it’s just Rosa who gives me shit for those moments, which I expect, as it’s Rosa and she gives everyone shit, and I love her for it. Thanks for a lovely Christmas Holiday my love!

So, being here in Switzerland in this lovely house overlooking the lake, I had no idea how to thank the family for letting me come stay, so I have spent much of my visit helping in the kitchen. Rosa and May have been the principle cooks here, but I was given Christmas Eve dinner and made Cilantro Chicken and Pickled Tomato Avocado Salsa from Mattbites.com. Yum Yum. Worked out lovely.

And yesterday for Christmas dinner, Rosa and I went all out and made lots and lots of desserts. But alas, I must remind you of the title at this point because smart as I am, you will not believe what I managed to do yesterday. No, it’s worse than burning something, undercooking, or forgetting an ingredient. I mistook something. Both white. Both granulated. Both crytals. Ah, but 1 3/4 Cups of SALT makes a cake very different from a cake with 1 3/4 Cups SUGAR. Dump that one out and start over, eh?

Which I did. Thank god I eat cake batter like candy. But then another thing we must take from this cake following my sugar/salt debacle…brown sugar and white sugar are relatively interchangeable in cookies, but not in cakes. What a fail. What a chewy, sad, hard, ugly fail.

So I drown my sorrows in the chocolate cake I posted about last time, made with love by Rosa with my dark chili chocolate and a homemade Raspberry Sorbet. On the list for making next is Fillet Wellington, which we had for dinner last night and with which I happened to fall madly into lust. Tonight is Swiss Fondue. Looks as though it’s time to trek up the Swiss Alps for such a meal. I think that’s fair, don’t you?

Happy New Year friends! I love you all.

Sometimes you have days when nothing works out how you want it.

And sometimes you have days when everything works out beyond all perfect rosy fantastical imagination.

I am going to tell you a tale. Of burned brownies. Of melted icing that wasn’t supposed to melt. Of a suuuper easy dinner recipe. But most importantly, I am going to tell you about Jesus in cake form.

But to reach such an important point for humanity, one must first hear of the trials and tribulations I endured yesterday. The brownie day. It was one of my flatmates’ birthdays, so, since I happen to be the resident baking pro (HA!), I took it upon myself to make something sugary. I had the perfect plan – brownies. With home-made caramel and stroopwafels (a diiiiiiiivine Dutch cookie) in between. Topped with more caramel. And yes, they were quite good, once salvaged: I must admit, with shame, that in all my years of cooking, baking, and eating, I have NEVER burned something…until Holland. Damn toaster oven. Thankfully, all that was needed to salvage my brownies was a sharp knife – cut the top of the brownies off, and I leave caramel-drenched loveliness in my wake.

And then came dinner at my aunt’s. My aunt is a fucking genius at cooking. She doesn’t know it, but the secret to her genius lies in the massive, copious, heart-attack-inducing amounts of butter she uses. For dinner, I asked for “Kabeljouw met Mosterdsaus,” Dutch-speak for “Cod with Mustard Sauce,” a fabulous feast that is so easy my Dad could do it. Actually, I take it back. He can’t. He’s tried. But he’s kind of hopeless with cooking. Kidding, but not really.  🙂  I degress – the dish is actually quite easy: butter, half an onion, some lemon juice, peppercorns, and a bay leaf – melt and mix, then add cod fillets and steam. Mustard sauce is also easy – Hollandaise sauce with some white wine, a couple tablespoons of stoneground mustard, a tablespoonish of dijon mustard, a little bit of the fish broth. Eat with potatoes and shredded beets – beets, finely chopped onions, lemon juice, salt, pepper, vinegar. YUM.

And then later that evening came Booze Brownies, a Christmas tradition and a gnawing craving I’ve been fighting for the past week. Brownies, soaked in bourbon, covered in an icing of powdered sugar, rum, and butter, drizzled (or in this case, drenched) with melted chocolate. But see, the only place I went wrong was timing – so impatient to get my drunk on was I, that I did not wait for the brownies to cool, thus melting the butter in the icing…whatever, they were still pretty bomb.

But the real, true reason for this post is due to the cake my dear Rosa requested we make tonight. I appeared this evening to do dinner with my girls. Rosa took the ingredients I brought for dinner and whipped up an ah-mazing dinner of salad and gnocci w/red pesto, pepper, tomato, and onion, while Sonia did all the dishes in her kitchen – none of which were her’s (this girl is awesome) – and I attackd Rosa’s ingredients to make the cake. Armed with 400 grams (140z) of dark, swiss, gorgeous, rich, decadent, OMG chocolate, I tried a random recipe found online, stirred, whipped, whisked, and baked it. Poured still-hot ganache over it, and then, we ate.

I know I can never dream to copy down Rosa’s description of our experience verbatim, but I sure as hell am going to try. ***Warning: very graphic language to follow. Very necessary graphic language. Very truthful graphic language. No laughing, just awe.

Jesus. Fucking. Christ.
No, not Jesus Fucking Christ. I am fucking Christ.

This cake is tattooed arms and big dick good,
It is making out in the elevator I-Need-You-Now,
Wet before you hit the door,
Hard, pounding sex,
Soft and sweet,
Fast and hard,
The combination of all the sex I’ve had,

Earth-shattering, I can’t breathe,
I might have to go change my clothes,
Because I just came in my pants,
Chocolate Cake.

The only difference between this cake and sex is
I’m going to need more.

Rosa’s Chocolate Cake
Theoretically feeds 8. Realistically, 3…
Prep time: 20 min.
Cook time: 25 min.

  • 8 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease and flour a 9 inch round cake pan.
  2. Melt chocolate and butter in top of double boiler (or my make-shift bowl in a frying pan with simmering water), stirring until smooth. Cool slightly.
  3. Separate yolks and whites. Whisk yolks and sugar in large bowl until pale yellow. Mix in flour, then slowly add chocolate mixture (don’t dump it all in at once or the eggs will cook because of the heat from the chocolate. YUCK).
  4. Beat egg whites in another bowl until stiff but not dry (thanks to Sonia for beating the eggs by hand. My hero of the day).
  5. Fold the whites into chocolate mixture (I repeat, no all at once business. No cooking of the egg whites, por favor).
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean (approx 25 minutes). Cool. Run knife around sides of pan to loosen cake. Turn cake out onto platter.

Enter ganache.

Simple Chocolate Ganache
Prep time: 2 min.
Cook time: 10 min. + 30 min. cool-down time

  • 4 T (ish) Butter
  • 7-8 0z. Chocolate
  • 1/4 C. (ish) Cream
  1. In a double boiler (or bowl in a pan with hot water, as I intimated before), melt the chocolate.
  2. Add the cream until happily melted and combined to smooth perfection.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in butter. Let cool. You may pour it over the cake now or spread it later. Either way, it’ll taste beyond lovely and that’s all that matters.

I submit: Who needs sex when you can have this cake? Seriously. Who?

Well kiddies, it’s Monday, which, as we all know, means: School, Responsibility, Homework, Work, No Fun. Well, at least until Tuesday, since that’s when I’m done for the week. Ahh, a hard life I do lead.

Now that I have my bragging quota filled for the day, I’d like to share with you an accomplishment of mine, which was fulfilled last week Thursday at approximately 5:30pm Amsterdam time. Okay okay, I lied, I didn’t fill my bragging quota, but this certainly will help. This girl, this lone, twenty-two year old, only child, small family, in over her head girl celebrated Thanksgiving. A full Thanksgiving, with enough food to feed 15 people. Which it did. A big thanks to Emily for the eggnog and mashed potatoes. A massive thank you to Sonia “Christine” who did the gravy, green bean casserole, and provided the cooking tunes and fabulous conversation. And a HUGE resounding thank you to my mom, who taught me how to make all the dishes and from whom I get my talent – tiny though it may be – for cooking.

So, to explain the epicness of this Thanksgiving Dinner, I will list each item that found its way to the table.

  • Biscuits
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Potato Salad
  • Red Cabbage with Bacon
  • Red Cabbage (vegetarian)
  • Lemon Brussel Sprouts
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Stuffing
  • Gravy
  • Green Bean Casserole
  • Turkey (aka Chicken because Turkey is expensive in Europe)
  • Eggnog
  • Poffertjes
  • Cherry Vlaai
  • Apple Vlaai
  • Pumpkin Pie

All in all, the night was spectacular. I haven’t had that much fun cooking in a very very long time and to have so many people show up was even for amazing. I have never spent Thanksgiving with so many people, nor have I ever spent Thanksgiving away from home. My friends, you made my Thanksgiving still feel like a holiday, even though my mom and dad, Jo and Erica, my puppy, my car, etc are far away. I’ll see them soon, but for now, thank you thank you thank you to my adoptive family here in Holland. I couldn’t have had a better night and I love all of you from the bottom of my heart.

HHHOOOOOKAY! Now that the cheesy stuff is out of the way, who wants a recipe?! So, which should I share? My pumpkin pie recipe? The secret of my red cabbage? My stuffing discoveries? Ah, I know. The hit of the night, though the easiest part of the whole feast. All that was missing was some honey. Try these at home. Trust me, you’ll die of happiness, provided you eat them RIGHT.OUT.OF.THE.OVEN. Like cookies. Only better. Yeah, you heard me. Better.

Old School Biscuits

Preheat oven to 450

Stir together:

  • 1 3/4 C flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 Tsp baking powder (NOT soda)

Cut into the flour with pastry blender or two knives until like coarse cornmeal:

  • 4-6 T chilled butter or lard or both

Make a well and add all at once:

  • 3/4 C cold milk

Stir until fairly free of bowl. Turn onto floured surface and GENTLY knead, making 5-6 folds. Roll out to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut with biscuit cutter, cut into squares, or roll into individual balls.

Bake 12-15 minutes on ungreased sheet.

The key to good biscuits is to handle minimally. Stir only to moisten, knead gently.

The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.  This is the first month of Daring Baker’s for me, and it was a doozy!

For this challenge, we had the option of two different pasta frolla recipes.  I chose Version 1, which was a simple mixture of sugar, flour, lemon zest, butter, egg and salt.  This choice was based, unfortunately, on a single element: time.  This one came together with the fewest ingredients and in such a short amount of time.  One note, not sure if it was because the winter air leeched the moisture out of my ingredients, or if there is just not enough liquid in the recipe, but I ended up adding about 2 Tbsps of cold water to get it to come together.  To fill, we were allowed to go crazy.  I decided to settle on a simple raspberry preserve with the juice of a lemon.

Raspberry Crostatta

3/4 cup of powdered sugar
1 and 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
a pinch of salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
grated zest of half a lemon
1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten in a small bowl
2 Tbsps cold water
21 ounces of raspberry preserves
Juice of 1 lemon

  1. Combine flour, powdered sugar and salt in a bowl.
  2. Add butter and rub/cut into flour mixture
  3. Add in beaten eggs and zest in a well in the center of the flour mixture (I kept mine all in the bowl, but it can be done straight on the counter top) and mix in with a fork until everything is moistened.  Here is where I added in my water, a tablespoon at a time, and began to lightly knead with my hands.
  4. At this point, create a ball of dough, and then cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for 2 hours, or overnight.
  5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. After the dough has been chilled, retrieve from the fridge and unwrap.  Mine was stiff enough that I needed to use a combination of my hands and my rolling pin to force it out (gently) into a circle large enough to cover the bottom of my 9 inch cake pan.
  7. Once the dough was rolled out, I placed it in the pan and pushed to the edges.  After pinching off the excess dough that peeked over the rim of the pan, I pricked the bottom of the tart pan multiple times to prevent from any bubbles or uneven puffing from forming along the bottom.
  8. Place the preserves and lemon juice in a small pot on the stove and heat until pourable.  Pour into pan, and spread to even out.  At this point, the excess dough can be rolled out and cut into shapes to be place on the top of the crostatta.  For example, a U!
  9. Bake at 375 degrees F for 25 minutes, or until pastry is a golden brown.  Allow to cool for a least an hour, or until set, and then serve!

Well.  Here begins yet another week.  And, I’m soooo not ready for it.  Although, I do have something very fun to look forward to in the middle of it.  Yup, its my BIRTHDAY! Wooo! Now that I’ve got that off my chest, I can say, I’m pretty disappointed that SOMEONE isn’t going to be joining me for it on this side of the pond, but since I can’t make it to hers a few days later, I won’t be too upset about it.

Anyways, because life is stressful with the end of the semester no longer creeping, but instead sprinting full speed, towards me, I’ve been baking like a fiend.  These are delicious, beautiful, and super-crazy simple.  Although, don’t make them too big, or your Pakistani friends won’t be able to eat them because they’re too rich. This is super fun, with a ba-gillion different ways to make it. I’ve already done a spicy chocolate chip, as well as an oatmeal butterscotch and milk chocolate chip cookie.  These….weren’t my favorite.  I (sort of) liked them, but there are a few things I wanted to change about them.  Like the dough.  And the filling.  Maybe I should try a whole new recipe?  I’ve done some other, naughtier, things, but I’ll give you a whole post for that.

But here has been my favorite sweet treat from the last few weeks.  It’s crazy simple (provided you have the caramels) and I could see it being doubly delicious (but a little more time consuming) if you wanted to make your own caramel.  But, of course, I have a couple things to change.  1) Don’t use as much chocolate (I know, blaspheme).  It overwhelmed the taste of the rest of the ingredients. 2) I would increase the size of the oatmeal cookie portion by half (so a total of 1 1/2 batches) because there wasn’t quite enough in my opinion. 3) Increase the caramel.  Mine oozed to sides, so there was only a little in the center, but a lovely amount on the edges.  By how much? Oh, maybe 18-20 oz. of caramels instead of just 14 oz. You’re call, really.

Oatmeal Chocolate Caramel Bars

from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

*Notes: These are the measurements from the original recipe.  I’ll make these again with my suggestions and post an update.

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup melted butter

14 ounce bag of caramels
1/2 cup whipping cream or milk
1 12-ounce package semisweet chocolate chips*

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degree. Mix the first six ingredients together and sprinkle half on the bottom of a 9X13-inch baking pan. Bake 10 to 15 minutes, until lightly browned.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the caramels and whipping cream or milk in a saucepan over low heat or in the microwave at 50% power, stirring often, until the mixture is smooth.
  3. When the bars have been removed from the oven, sprinkle the chocolate chips over the crust and pour the melted caramel over the top.
  4. Sprinkle the rest of the crust over the top and bake in the oven for an additional 10-12 minutes, until the caramel is bubbling and edges are lightly browned. Cool the bars completely before serving so they can set up properly.

The trouble with being an “exchange student” in another country is homesickness. You miss sights, sounds, food, smells, friends, family. The way my parents’ house smells. Blasting the radio. 24 hour grocery stores. The mountains and the smell of snow. Miss Erica and our numerous inside jokes. Iced coffee. My dear Jo, whom I miss so dearly, but I love reading her posts – it’s like talking to her, somehow. Kisses to you my darling.

Anyway, yes, I miss things. But I’ve overcome the missing food part. With the exception of chocolate chips (my mom literally shipped me some because she knows how much I miss them) and whole wheat tortillas, but that’s water under the bridge at this point.

Another obstacle is my quest to integrate and shake this dumb “exchange student” stigma is my damn nationality. Yeah yeah yeah, American accent. Okay, I can’t shake that. The assumption by EVERY OTHER NONAMERICAN PERSON that I am the authority on all things American. For example, in my literature course – my American literature course – I am the only American and am therefore called upon to explain the historical and social context of every text we encounter. Last time I checked, I was a communication science major, which entails socio-cultural theories, studying gender and organizations, understanding the facets of nonverbal communication, and being able to write a bomb essay analyzing a billboard. I am NOT a history student. But hell, when the instructor asks what happened in 1864 in the US and no one says anything, looking around the room with sad and confused looks on their faces, what do you expect me to do? Civil War my friends. Civil freaking War.

And the trend continues. I have dinner with two of my Dutch friends every Tuesday, and today, it was requested that we make something easy. Domi studied in Utah for three years (she was my roommate last year), so she requested Mac n’ Cheese or Sloppy Joes. And it was determined that “the American” would deal with it, she being the resident authority on these particular dishes.

Mac n’ Cheese is kindof boring to me these days, since I make it quite often (with real cheese, of course, non of this boxed crap). So, Sloppy Joes I done did make. Sans Manwich Sauce, I might add. Not as hard as you might think, and in my expert American opinion, just as, if not more tasty than the lazy kid normal American method. Look at me defying stereotypes.

Talle’s Sloppy Joes

  • Preparation Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20-30 minutes
  • Serves: 6
  • Frying pan for meat and sauce, napkins!

*PS. As I am denying my Americanness despite this recipe, I’m using grams for meat measurement*

600g Ground Beef (I prefer 15 fat/85 meat, but that’s your call)
1 small onion, chopped
olive oil
2 C ketchup
3 tsp stone ground mustard
curry powder
salt and pepper
meat seasoning
chili powder

The Steps!

  1. Fry the onions in the olive oil until translucent, add the beef and cook thoroughly.
  2. Remove from heat. Mix in ketchup, mustard, and seasonings. I admit, I didn’t measure. I added a bit and tasted, then added a bit, then tasted. Heavy on the curry powder and meat seasoning; low on cinnamon, chili powder, and salt.
  3. Serve on buns with coleslaw, baked beans, potato chips, corn on the cob, anything interesting and “American” you can get your sloppy little fingers on.

Guess what I did?!  I joined the ranks of the Daring Kitchen (just in case you somehow missed the title)!

Wow, how cool do I feel? Really cool. Like a legitimate blogger! Now if I could get someone aside from my best friend (who actually made the blog and posts more often than me) to read it…

Anyway, I’m super stoked for this upcoming Daring Baker’s challenge.  I think whole process is going to be very fun, pushing me to try out things outside of my comfort zone (you know, cookies, brownies and pasta).  I can’t wait to make Ammar help me with this one, even though I KNOW he’s going to complain the entire time.  Good thing I know he’s just kidding (or at least I hope so).

Now that I’ve announced that to the world, I am going to continue to waste some time.  Yes, I know I should be working on some French homework.  Or studying up for the next quiz in my Strategic Management class. Or, hell, even working on my thesis.  That bullshit REALLY needs to get done.  Instead, I shall write this lovely blog post, sharing some recipes and musics!

So as of right now, I’m in loooooooooooove with the Cold War Kids.  I just downloaded two of their albums (Loyalty to Loyalty and Robbers & Cowards) both of which are mind blowing.  Just lovely.  I’ve also popped back into the Dirty Projectors and discovered they’ve created an album with Bjork, which is tooooootally perfect for their vibe.  Some of my new favorites are:

On and Ever Onward – Dirty Projectors and Bjork

Saint John – Cold War Kids, Dr. Dog and Elvis Perkins

Another gal I’m digging the hell out of is Oh Land.  Amazing! She’s from Copenhagen, Denmark (I have a total soft spot for anything Danish now) and is sweet and lovely, with catchy lyrics and tunes.  White Nights and Son of a Gun are two of her’s floating around on the blogosphere.

As for recipes, I’ve got two very relaxed ones for you.  One was an easy one skillet meal and the other was a Lemon Pound Cake with Glaze.  Ammar and I made these last week, and both of them were delicious.  Although I must say, we spiced up the Chicken, Rice and Bean dish for the better by adding a habenero pepper, both of them were easily made and took little to no time.  The only thing on the pound cake is let it cool before you eat it, because warm it tastes too eggy for me.  However, once cooled, I didn’t get that at all.

Red Chile Chicken with Rice and Black Beans

From My Kitchen Cafe

*I felt like mine could have used a little more broth (maybe 1/4-1/3 cup more) and as noted above, I added a habenero pepper to turn up the heat a little bit.

2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1.5 pounds), cut into 1-inch pieces
1 ½ tablespoons chili powder, divided
1 medium onion, diced
1 habenero pepper, diced
1 ½ cups rice
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 ½ cups chicken broth
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup chopped green onions (about 3-4 green onions), roots and wilted outer leaves removed before chopping
Sour cream  and cheddar cheese for serving

Heat one tablespoon of the oil in a medium-large heavy pot over medium heat. Sprinkle the diced chicken breast with salt and ½ tablespoon of the chili powder. Place the chicken in the hot oil and brown on all sides.  The chicken doesn’t need to be cooked all the way through. Once browned, remove from pan to a plate.

Add the second tablespoon of oil to the pot and add the onion, pepper and rice. Cook on medium-low, stirring for several minutes, until the rice turns from translucent to opaque. Add the garlic and the remaining 1 tablespoon chili powder. Cook one minute, and then add the broth (here is where I might add a bit more broth to prevent from a gummy texture) and salt (between 1/2 to 1 teaspoon) to taste. Stir well. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover, and cook for 10 minutes.

Add the chicken to the pot along with the beans, give it all a good stir. Recover the pot and cook on low for 10-12 minutes longer, taking care that the mixture isn’t cooking to hot or else it will burn on the bottom.

Sprinkle the green onions and test a kernel of rice. It should be tender, in which case you can sprinkle the cheddar cheese over the dish, place the cover back on, remove it from the heat and let it stand 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted. If it’s not cooked, cook for another 5 minutes or so, stirring and checking often to make sure the mixture doesn’t burn.

Serve with salsa and sour cream.

“Hey, how about dinner tonight? I’ll bring some stuff over?” reads a text I received a few days ago. It’s from Mark, my Aussie friend, who at some point very early in the getting-to-know-you stage discovered I like to cook. No, he wasn’t cooking for me (though that would be lovely, if anyone is thinking about it…:p ). Rather, he arrived and cracked a bottle of red as I proceeded to do one of the things I believe I do best – you guessed it. Cook. I’m so predictable it’s sad.

On the menu for the night was green beans, funeral potatoes, and steak.

Now, let’s face it, green beans are easy peasy and don’t need anything special to make them tasty. Just boil in some lightly salted water for a couple minutes. Butter on top, if you want, though my favorite is sauteing the beans in olive oil with some parsley and garlic. MMMmmmMMM.

Next, the Funeral potatoes, which are simple enough as well, and any google search will lend you a plethora of good recipes. The moral of the story is potatoes and cheese…lots of cheese.  The trouble is that this food is so good I eat all of it in one go…do with it as you wish.  Here’s the recipe I used, with a few minor tweaks (no sour cream, it don’t exist in this here part of the world. And I added onions too.)


Meanwhile, what I do really want to share is my foray into the world of red wine. I myself am more of a white girl myself (no pun intended), though I can handle a bit of rose.  But red wine? It gets me drunk and gives me a horrible headache (sulfites, I know), not to mention the cheap stuff you can buy here tastes exactly that – cheap. So I cheated a bit. Mark poured me a glass of wine and I drank it, chatting and being the generally sociable gal that I am. But sneaky sneaky me, my second glass did not go into my tummy right away, as you would think, but into a pan to simmer and make my kitchen smell oh-so-lovely. Pour my concoction onto a couple steaks, and you have a pretty hearty meal. Mark seemed pretty happy with it, though it would have been better if he’d cooked the steaks for me. Ah, well, a girl can dream, can’t she?

Steak with Red Wine Sauce

  • Preparation Time: 1o minutes
  • Cook Time: 5-10 minutes
  • Serves: 2
  • Frying pan for sauce, grill or another pan for the steaks

2 Steaks, any cut you like
1/2 C. beef broth (bullion cubes are your friend)
1/2 C. red wine
1 T onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. mustard
1 T. parsley
1 T. butter
salt and pepper

The Steps!

  1. Salt and pepper the steaks. Grill or fry them up to your desired cooked level.
  2. Fry up the butter, onion, and parsley until the onions are golden brown. Mix in the mustard.
  3. Pour the broth and wine into the pan and simmer until it starts to thicken. If you need to, you can put a bit of flour in to help the thickening process, though I found flour messed up the texture and I prefer to simple cook it a bit longer.
  4. Pour the sauce over the steaks and serve!