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Potato Salad (noun)

Old definition: A popular mayonnaise-laden, calorie clogged side dish found next to the burgers, hot dogs, and potato chips at American barbecues infamous for its ability to make one feel guilty for getting second helping.

But no longer folks because…

Jami Sorrento was our June Daring Cooks hostess and she chose to challenge us to celebrate the humble spud by making a delicious and healthy potato salad. The Daring Cooks Potato Salad Challenge was sponsored by the nice people at the United States Potato Board, who awarded prizes to the top 3 most creative and healthy potato salads. A medium-size (5.3 ounce) potato has 110 calories, no fat, no cholesterol, no sodium and includes nearly half your daily value of vitamin C and has more potassium than a banana!

I have a new, revamped potato salad filled with all the flavor and (almost) none of the fat! And the best part? I seasoned it like a steak…

That’s right, a steak.

Too good to be true? Try it out!

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If you need a dish to impress, this is it. No stops, no holds barred.

A cube of ice cream, coated in dark cocoa powder sitting on a bed of fluffy meringue, blow torched to marshmallow-y goodness, covered in crispy nuts and drizzled in caramel. Can you even believe such an absurdity exists?  It does. Blame the French of course.

The daring bakers were given a template for each of the components based around a tequila-chocolate-chili theme with the option to create our own theme if desired.  While those flavors all sound fine and grand, I have simple tastes so I infused everything with chocolate, peanut butter and caramel in a tribute to the fanciest of all candy bars: the snickers.

Peanut butter chocolate icecream in a box (the marquis):

Peanut butter chocolate caramel – this alone tastes like liquid snickers:

Crispy salty roasted peanuts – the more you eat the more you want:

The May 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Emma of CookCraftGrowand Jenny of Purple House Dirt. They chose to challenge everyone to make a Chocolate Marquise. The inspiration for this recipe comes from a dessert they prepared at a restaurant in Seattle.

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If you love seafood SO very much that sometimes, you want to take a cubic mile of ocean and boil it down until it is so concentrated it fits inside a single pot…

This gumbo is for you. Mussels, crab, shrimp…If you can find it in the sea you can find it in this gumbo.

It also contains a wide array of colorful vegetables. How excited was I to find red celery cheaper than plain green?!

Pretty darn excited…that’s how much.

A huge thanks to: Our May hostess, Denise, of There’s a Newf in My Soup!, challenged The Daring Cooks to make Gumbo! She provided us with all the recipes we’d need, from creole spices, homemade stock, and Louisiana white rice, to Drew’s Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo and Seafood Gumbo from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh.

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A good weekend leaves you rested.

A great weekend leaves you completely flat out exhausted with a big giant grin of satisfaction.

Right at this second, I am so tired I can barely keep my eyes open.

It was a GREAT weekend.

Karaoke. Bowling. Good Beer. Burritos. Burgers. Live music. Good Beer.  The boyfriend visited. I finished my third year of medical school.

I kind of feel like a rock star right now.

These crackers are rock star fuel.

I had them at Pazo restaurant in Baltimore. Super classy and the food is out of this world.

The folks at Pazo were kind enough to post the recipe for their signature sunflower tuile. A slightly sweet buttery cracker heavily studded with salty sunflower seeds.

The recipe is deceptively simple, but getting the crackers evenly crispy turned out to be quite difficult with my cheap old apartment oven. If you have a big fancy oven I am jealous of you. If not I’ve left tips below on how to work around this.

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Renata of Testado, Provado & Aprovado! was our Daring Cooks’ April 2011 hostess. Renata challenged us to think “outside the plate” and create our own edible containers! Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 17th to May 16th at!

Edible containers = Food inside of food. How brilliant is that?

Speaking of brilliant, some of the creations these daring cooks came up with just blew me away. Check em’ out at the daring cooks homepage.

Me on the other hand, I created plain boring wraps. On the menu at half the chinese restaurants in the country, they are entirely unoriginal, but I had a craving. Sometime you just have to do what your stomach tells you to do. Mine has some pretty good ideas.

Cool and crispy on the outside. Warm flavor explosion on the inside. Super adorable, bite sized, and vegan to boot!

The key to making the tofu is good marinating and caramelization. This transforms tofu from tasteless mushy blobs to crispy flavorful nuggets.

The key to making good lettuce wraps is boston bibb lettuce. Vibrant, green, easy to work with, and more vitamin A than iceberg.

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Confession: Tonight I ate cake for dinner.

I ate cake for dinner because I can, and because I’m an adult, and because after you make a bake a whole cake making dinner just seems silly.

I totally don’t recommend that you eat cake for dinner. It seems like a good idea, but trust me, you’ll just end up feeling a little bit sick and a little bit embarrassed with yourself.

I do recommend that you make this cake in when it feels like summer. It is light, airy, refreshing and definitely won’t weigh you down.

You can also make it when you want to pretend that it’s not snowing in March. That’s what is going on outside my window right now. I am not happy about it.

If you are going eat too much cake though, this is the one to splurge on. It’s low on calories, high in protein, and has zero fat. It does have a little bit…err, nearly a cup of sugar, but a cake has to have something in it.  If it weren’t for the sugar it would be nothing but egg whites and…air!

And let me introduce you to Dreamwhip. Made. Of. Dreams.

It is the result of my 2 year quest to find a suitable dairy free whipped cream alternative. All you have to do is beat 1/2 cup of milk or milk substitute with the powdered mix and it turns into whipped cream. Made with almond milk it is divine.

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Starting projects is always wonderful. There’s the trip to the store, where I pick out my supplies. Then I dump them all out on the table and get really excited by the smell of new fabric.

I whistle while I work (yea, I really do this).  I make a few mistakes here and there, but it’s no big deal, I fix them.

The hours go by, a little less whistling now, a few more curse words…bigger mistakes.

And all of a sudden it’s 9pm. My whole day is gone. And the project? I’m not really excited anymore, now I’m working just to finish the darn thing and be done with it!

It’s usually right about this time I realize I’ve forgotten something at the store, which is of course forever far away.

Oh projects, the idea of you is so much better than the actual you.

Luckily, this has absolutely nothing to do with the coffee cake picture above. This is the comfort food you go to after your project turns sour. The coffee cake is delicious in every way.  You can make it savory, sweet, or both. Make it for company, or make it for yourself.  Unlike a new project, it won’t let you down.

Blog-checking lines: The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.

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Appearance = 26 year old girl in t-shirt and shorts, sweaty; Mood = “awesome”

That’s psych terms for I just had a freaking fantastic day. It was sunny and 63. I got out in time to enjoy it. I went on a 4mi run in t-shirt and shorts. And, I made (and remembered to take pictures of) an amazing dinner. Awesome.

Now I know you’re like hmmm…hot shrimp and polenta, that is an odd choice for a post-run meal on a warm day, but trust me, it’s a good idea. It’s thick, full of carbs and protein, really everything you need to replenish after hard work. Also even though it’s “hot” food, it’s somehow cooling. Don’t ask me to explain the science…it just works.

The “cheesy” part comes from the nutritional yeast. It’s brilliant stuff and totally true to it’s name. 2 tbsp = 8 gms protein, 133% of your daily B12 and all kinds of other vitamins. Find it dirt cheap…and I’m talking like 33 cents for a bagful…in the bulk food bins at whole foods.

Try it out. And you should totally get outside while it’s warm. Vitamin D, it’s a good thing.

Bonus picture of my fat cat caught in the act of…being fat.

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Sweet new bike light: check

Reflective gear: check (thanks mom)

Pumped up tires: check

Warm weather: well….almost. I hear it’ll be a balmy 46 degrees tomorrow with SUN

Tis biking time! I know, I know, if I were hard core I would have never put the bike in hibernation for the winter, but I am not hard core. In fact I am very very soft core. I despise the cold and while 46 STILL isn’t ideal (I’d take 75) I think I’m ready to suck it up and get out there.

And HOORAY! for online shopping…when the inevitable rains come, this little beauty is currently in the mail on it’s way to keep me dry:

Waterproof, non crinkly sounding and only 10 oz!  I’m excited. Plus red…hot.

So let’s change gears and talk fish! Let’s forget for a moment that I spent a good portion of this weekend shoving raw fish in my face in the form of sushi (mmmm) so you’ll believe me when I tell you I was terrified to make this latest daring challenge, ceviche, with raw fish.  It’s probably not much different buying high-grade fish to prepare yourself than having a restaurant prepare it for you, but there’s just something sketchy about buying raw fish to eat from a grocery store in Pittsburgh…no where even remotely close to where raw fish comes from.

In any case I wasn’t prepared to make that leap (and neither was my pocketbook) so I decided to use atlantic cod, at an amazing 5.99/lb and blacken it before using it in ceviche. It was AWESOME. And the papas rellenas?

Just look at that golden crust, they speak for themselves!

Blog-checking lines: Kathlyn of Bake Like a Ninja was our Daring Cooks’ March 2011 hostess. Kathlyn challenges us to make two classic Peruvian dishes: Ceviche de Pescado from “Peruvian Cooking – Basic Recipes” by Annik Franco Barreau. And Papas Rellenas adapted from a home recipe by Kathlyn’s Spanish teacher, Mayra.

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Can you keep a secret?

I like a boy, it’s true. And he really really likes funkychunky. So I’m making him a present. I call it…

I also have a lot of free time on my hands right now…thank you psych rotation! Please don’t judge how I spend it.

Fun math:

FunkyChunky 20 oz canister: $15.99
SpunkyMonkey 50 oz: $11.00

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