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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.

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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.