Category Archives: food

Cooking up a Storm-Mexican Style

So surely there is someone else like me out there. I get in a week or two of cooking mania, where I think I need to cook every recipe I get my hands on. This is all good and well until I burn out and then refuse to cook for like a month. Currently I’m in a cooking frenzy and really need it to keep going for the sake of my waistline and pocketbook. I also like that its an excuse for people to come over 🙂 Last nights attempt was a recipe for Mexican Lasagna that was adapted from The Cutting Edge of Ordinary .


2 pounds ground beef

1 jar of salsa

a 10 oz jar of enchilada sauce

a small onion

packet of taco seasoning

garlic powder (or real garlic)

Burrito soft shells

3 cups cheese

1 can of kidney beans

Now I adapted some from the original recipe which calls for refried and black beans. I hate both of those so I swapped for kidney. I also just forgot to pick up garlic at the store so we used garlic powder instead. Had I remembered, it would’ve been real.

Couldn’t be any easier. Simply chop and cook up the onion in a large skillet until its tender. Then add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Add the garlic and then drain it all. Once that is done you can add the salsa, taco seasoning, beans, and enchilada sauce. You then want to spray a 9 by 13 pan and start a bottom layer of tortillas. I trimmed them to fit better but it took about 1 and a half per layer. Then add a layer of cheese and layer of meat mixture. Repeat twice so meat is at top. I then was generous with the rest of the cheese to cover it! Cover in foil (I sprayed mine so cheese wouldn’t stick) Put it in the oven at 375 for about 20-25 minutes, Remove the foil and cook for about 10 or so more minutes. I think in my oven my total cooking time was right at 30. Let cool for a few minutes and serve! I had my roommate, boyfriend and best friend all come over to eat it and they gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up for taste, ease, and cost. I now also have still half a casserole left after feeding 4 of us 🙂 I also made cinnamon sugar tortilla chips for us to snack on as well.

To make the tortilla chips, take a soft flour tortilla, spray with it butter spray/Pam/brush with butter. (I use nonstick butter cooking spray and works like magic) then sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture over it, cut into triangles and bake 10 minutes at 350 degrees!

Will definitely be making this meal again, and will be happily eating leftovers for lunch today!


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Bored on a Saturday afternoon

So most of my friends are out of town this weekend and I have spent the last 4 days in front of the tv myself. I love a lazy weekend like anyone else, but I was on the verge of crazytown! What do I do when that happens? I take on a project! One of my favorite coworkers gave me a recipe for soft pretzels when I left work for the last time on Friday. She found it at Smitten Kitchen, which happens to be my favorite place to get new recipes!  Anyone who knows me, knows that I have a mad love affair with soft pretzels. It could be even considered an obsession. Cue my PA born and bred roommate loving them too, and it was decided. Saturdays project was soft pretzels.

Now I love to bake, I know my way around an oven, but I have stayed away from breads until now as working with temperamental yeast scares the bejeezus out of me. But brave I was, we bought the ingredients and I began slaving away.  The first thing anyone should know, is these are soooo easy to make. I mean ridiculously easy. They are also extremely cheap. I had to buy some yeast, some course salt, and some more flour because I was running low, but after buying those 3 things, I have enough to make about 4 batches.

While easy and cheap, they were time consuming however. Lots of steps! All in all it took me about 4 hours from start to finish, but I do admit we had some holdups as my roomie and I stopped to cook onion soup hamburgers and corn on the cob for dinner (also yum!) But finally, they were finished! Mmm don’t they look like delicious little nuggets!

My roommate has sufficiently been oohing and ahhing over them. I can’t wait to introduce them to my darling PA born and bred BF today too as I know he’ll love them. I made mini ones this time out of fear of being able to deal with the long pieces of dough for the large ones. Next time I”ll tackle those. There will be a next time!

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My Boston Cream Disaster

So amongst my new cookbooks I got for Christmas this year, I got a KitchenAid one that was all baking. Right up my alley, as I’m no cook, I bake. Ever since I opened that book, the one dessert I couldn’t take my eye off of was the Boston Cream Pie. I’ve been patiently waiting for a chance to try it (because what am I going to do with a whole one of these sitting at home by myself) Seriously, looks delicious right?

My roommate and I , along with our two friends who are roommates, like to switch off cooking what we call Roommate Dinners. Yes I know how clever we are with the titles. I decided to take my turn last night with a crock pot roast and potatoes, and yes, an excuse to make that boston cream pie.

Even the brilliant baker that I pretend to be, sometimes has my disasters, and this was definitely the night! Knowing the cream was my biggest challenge, I decided to tackle this first. With an egg cream, you have to be careful to gradually add hot liquid to the eggs to keep them from scrambling.  Convinced I was going to rock this, I start heating up my liquid, and slowly but surely add it to the eggs. Not only do I get bits of scrambled eggs, but I somehow manage to also burn some. Being the optimist I am, I throw it out and decide ” Well, we’ll just have cake with chocolate glaze. I can still kill this”

I make the cake, confident in my abilities and bring out this BEAUTIFUL cake! Pulled from the sides, perfect golden color, and just gorgeous. I let it cool in the pan and then go to put it on the cooling rack, only to have half the cake stay put stuck in the pan.

At this point I realize this Boston Cream disaster is nothing I can save. I suck back the tears and continue to pick at my deliciously ugly cake while I finish my roast. You win some, you lose some, and I have no problem owning up to bad days.

Onto the next adventures…

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Me against the whoopie pie, part 2

So I realized just this morning that I didn’t do my follow up post on my second batch of whoopie pies. I actually had quite the following on twitter and facebook about my whoopie pie adventures and I had a lot of fun making them. Don’t fear, this is just the beginning!

So the second round I decided to try chocolate chip whoopies with a whipped chocolate ganache filling.(Mostly because it was the recipe that I already owned the most ingredients for) When putting the batter on the pan, I used less batter this time around and also attempted to spread it a little bit to help give me the smaller, flatter pies that I clearly didn’t get during my first try.

As you can see by my cooling rack…they were MUCH improved!! Still a little thicker than I would like and I will use a teensy less batter next time, but I’m getting there.

What I’m also learning from this whoopie pie cookbook is that what I really adore is the fillings. The whipped chocolate ganache filling was pure heaven. I spent a lot more time licking the bowl than anything else (which is a repeat of the peanut butter filling as well) I ended up taking the whoopies to my mom’s office, as I was off last week and needed to not have 16 of these babies staring me down all day long. I’m hoping they got polished off! My coworkers will get the luxury of being the guinea pigs for the next batch I decide to make.

Until my next attempt for those interested, the cookbook I have been using is located here. Mom and I found it at Crate and Barrel and they also have pans there and at Williams Sonoma. Happy Baking!

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My addiction to tv isn’t for nothing

So as I sit here enjoying another day off, with a delicious smelling pork loin and baked potato in the oven, I realize Top Chef Allstars is a repeat tonight. This of course minorly ruined my night as I’m a Top Chef addict, but it got me thinking how much I have actually learned about food from this show, as well as the Food Network. I grew up with a mom who knew how to cook, but being from the midwest, she mostly excelled at casseroles (or a nod to my former MN residence, hotdishes) The queen of quick comfort food, taught me much of the same. Food on tv has allowed me to branch out in what I try. Where we normally do easy mashed or baked potatoes, mom and I decided to give au gratin a go this year only to realize they were crazy easy and way more delicious!!! All thanks to a lazy Sunday watching food tv. I still don’t claim to be a brilliant chef, and sometimes I think its only my vocabulary that has expanded, not my skills, but regardless, I’m happy to be empowered to try something new thanks to my beloved reality tv.

P.S. I’ll be loudly Hooty-Hooing with Carla, my favorite, as I watch all the repeats tonight on Bravo! Bring it Carla 🙂

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Me against the whoopie pie

So I am an avid baker, or should I say sweet maker. I don’t have it all figured out yet, but I love trying new desserts. Lucky for me I got a whoopie pie pan and a whoopie pie cookbook for christmas this year! I decided today to give it a go with a traditional chocolate with peanut butter filling. What this awesome book didn’t bother to guide me in, was how to create those perfect round smooth cookies. What I got instead were these lumpy darlings below.

Oh my heavens are they delicious however.  The creamiest peanut butter filling I’ve ever eaten. But as you can see from the picture, a little sad looking. I’m trying round 2 tomorrow…but for now, you can find me sitting on my couch, watching reruns of Friends, and pigging out on my poor mishapen delicacies 🙂

P.S. Even sadder than my lumpy whoopie pies are my countertops covered in a thick layer of flour and cocoa powder. Eh, we’ll get to the counter wipedown in a bit!

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