Monday, August 29, 2011

Whoa, Hello One-Month Hiatus

Yeah, so it looks like I took a little break again. Whoops. Life kind of got cray-cray.

Here's what happened:

First, we had to give Hans back. For reasons you can read about here. At the time, we were very sad, but not discouraged in our search for the perfect dog for us.

We were blessed to find this goofball:

And if you're wondering what in the world he IS, you are not alone. We get asked that ALL the time (and we really don't mind!). He's a basset hound/lab mix named Teddy. He has the lab face and body with the short, stumpy legs of the basset hound. He's pretty much the only lab that could handle apartment life. But man he has energy! He can definitely keep up with us on a 3-mile run, so we like that about him :)

And he and Honey...

The Standoff

...well, they kind of get along. Teddy just wants to play with Honey, but she's kind of freaked out by him still.

Sleeping peacefully in close proximity??

But we like that they can be by each other and we don't have to be afraid for Honey's life.

So things are good on the homefront.

In other news, school started. As if taking care of a new dog who is, let's be honest, kind of a handful jumping on people and humping our friends (yeah.) wasn't enough.

I'm really excited for this school year. Week one is done and things have gotten off to a pretty smooth start. I'm hoping this is a sign of good things to come! It's really nice to be back in the same schools and build relationships with the same people instead of starting from scratch every year.

Man that gets old fast.

And in cooking news, Jared and I took our first cooking class this weekend! It was a hands-on Thai-themed class where we cooked four courses. It was so cool to learn from a real chef and get tips that apply to so many areas of cooking.

Like things that seem stupid that I didn't know how to do.

Like how to properly heat oil in a pan. Turns out, you have to wait a lot longer than I have been. And now I know when it's ready just by feeling the heat from the pan. I feel like a pro.

And also I learned how to hold things when I'm chopping them.

Jared learned some grill techniques he didn't know before either.

Best money ever spent. Totally worth it. We would do it again. And if/when we do, I promise to take pictures.

Reading is so boring without pictures. So here's one of me and my cute puppy:

I have the sweetest doggie

Finally, I have an awesome two weeks of meals planned and I'm really excited to share some with you! I actually made a delicious fried tilapia tonight with fresh creamed corn, but the tilapia kind of fell apart. It was a traveshamockery. (travesty+sham+mockery) It could not be photographed.

I'll do better next time.

Check back in a couple days for a quick dinner idea!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

new love. oh yeah, and a pineapple mango smoothie.

Well. It certainly has been a while since my last post. Longer than I anticipated. My bad. I apologize. It's just that, life has been pretty crazy lately.

Like, the We-Just-Added-A-New-Member-To-Our-Family kind of crazy. Meet Hans:

Best buds for life.

No, he is not a one-eyed dog. He's winking at you.

And yes, his name is Hans. Because that's the name he came with at the shelter and we think it's pretty awesome. It just fits him.

We like to pretend that he speaks with a German accent.

Yes, we are the kind of people that speak for our pets. For example, I might say, "Zee Hans is tired!" in a German accent when he sleeps.

Someone is sleepy

That's a perfectly normal thing to do.

Just bear with me for a sec. Here are some Hans FAQ's:

1. He is apparently a whippet mix. What's he mixed with? No clue, but we think maybe some kind of terrier?
2. He is 1 year old, so he has lots of puppy energy and lots of tricks to learn (he's getting there).
3. He doesn't bark. Dream come true.
4. He is VERY interested in getting to know Honey. And Honey would like him to go back to wherever he came from.

Okay, so now for the real reason you came here.


Mmm.... you can never go wrong with a smoothie.

I don't know about where you live, but it has been hotter than the devil's butt here. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about unless you live in, like, Nova Scotia or something.

It's been the kind of hot where wearing your hair down is not an option.

It's been the kind of hot where you don't even joke about wanting to wear pants.

It's been the kind of hot where you have at least three outfit options per day... because you know a simple trip to the grocery store means sweating like it's your job.

The only relief is a fruity, ice-cold beverage.


Smoothie-making is something my husband and I both enjoy. It's like making soup. You can throw a bunch of stuff in that you have laying around.

Well it so happened that we had a pineapple, banana, and a couple mangos lying around. And let me tell you, my friends. That is smoothie magic right there.

There is a nice combination of sweetness in these tropical fruits. Not too sweet, though.

And--BONUS!--it's pretty good for you.


Pineapple Mango Smoothie

1/2 pineapple (I cut the whole pineapple into chunks though: 1/2 for the smoothie, 1/2 for a snack later)
2 mangoes
1 banana
2 cups ice
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup French vanilla yogurt
1 Tblsp. honey (or to taste)

Cut pineapple, mangoes, and banana into bite-size pieces and place in blender with ice and orange juice. Blend until ingredients start to liquify. Add yogurt and honey and blend until mixed through.

Serves about 4-6.


So now we have a reason to love the heat. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

raspberry cream cupcakes.

It's funny, really.


Last Friday was my half birthday. Six months away from the BIG 2-5.

I completely forgot.

And this is funny because I will try to find an excuse to celebrate anything. ANYTHING.

Like... surviving a week at home alone while my husband is a jillion miles away for work. The proper way to celebrate something like that is to buy approximately 7 pairs of shoes.

Give or take.

So for me to forget my own half birthday is insane. I can't believe I did that to myself.


I guess it just means I'm getting old.

I mean, isn't that what happens? You start to have to really think hard about what age you are. You stop caring about your birthday... it's more of a nuisance anymore. It's just a reminder that you're getting older.

Lines are forming on your face.

Things are popping and creaking.

What you eat and drink is starting to matter.

You can't sit "pretzel style" for more than two minutes.


Maybe it's just me, but I think my subconscious helped me forget my half birthday for a reason. It was trying to save me from the depression of realizing that life is just flying by...


If you know what I'm talking about, I have the solution for you.



But, not just any cupcakes, my friend. These will help you forget your aging woes.

In fact, these made me feel just like a kid! Did anyone have that Fisher-Price play kitchen with the naked cupcakes that you could put the plastic frosting on top?

Ahh... cooking was SO easy then. Anyway, these kind of reminded me of that.

Except edible.


The cupcakes are perfect if you've got some raspberries burning a hole in your fridge.

And you have something to celebrate. Like a belated half birthday, perhaps.

These are the lightest, fluffiest, jolliest cupcakes I've ever tasted in my mouth. It's like eating a cloud topped with a cloud and sprinkled with some sugar on top.

It's like if you could taste air and it tasted like angel food cake and fruit and world peace.


HEY! Let's not be indecent in front of our guests.


Much better. Sorry about that. Not as easy as frosting a Fisher-Price cupcake, but so much more flavorful than rubbery plastic.

I may or may not have sampled the play frosting as a child.



Okay, back to business.


Raspberry Cream Cupcakes (adapted from Giada De Laurentiis)

Prep Time: 30 min.   Inactive Time:  30 min.   Cook Time:  15-20 min.


1 (18.25 oz) box white or yellow cake mix (I used yellow)
1 1/3 c. water
3 large egg whites
2 Tblsp. unsalted butter, melted
1 Tblsp. vanilla extract
2 6-oz. containers fresh raspberries, divided
1 c. heavy whipping cream
1/3 c. powdered sugar, plus more for dusting


Line 18 muffin cups with muffin papers, or grease a muffin tray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Using an electric mixer, beat the cake mix, water, egg whites, melted butter, and vanilla extract in a large bowl for 2 minutes, or until the batter is well blended. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups to about 2/3 full.
Bake the cupcakes until they are very pale golden on top, about 15 minutes. Cool the cupcakes completely on a cooling rack.

For the whipped topping, chill the bowl and beater you are going to use. Put them in the freezer for 10 minutes or in the fridge for 30.
Using a fork, coarsely mash 1 1/2 containers of raspberries in a medium bowl. Beat the cream and 1/3 cup of powdered sugar in a large bowl until firm peaks form. Fold the mashed raspberries into the whipped cream.
Top each cupcake with a generous heap of the raspberry whipped cream. Dust with more powdered sugar and serve with the remaining berries.


It's perfectly okay if you eat these for dinner. I did.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

mizithra and browned butter.

What the fruit is mizithra??


Welp, it's cheese. It's a very tasty cheese. And when combined with pasta and browned butter, it melts in your mouth to create this smoky, nutty, cheesy goodness that makes you wonder where this cheese has been all your life.

It's been in Cincinnati. Here.

At least, that's the only place I could find it.

Yeah, I died a little inside when Trader Joe's didn't have it. And when no one working there knew what it was.

Here's what it is defined, a la Wikipedia. You can go read it if you want to be bored to death. If you're reading this at 3 am unable to sleep, go try it.

But I'm sure you're not here to be bored. At least I hope not.


Basically, it's a Greek goat cheese. And it's impossible to find. But if you do happen to find it, you should make this dish.

Mizithra and Browned Butter.

Made famous by The Old Spaghetti Factory, Miz and Browned Butt (that's the abbreviated version) is a dish my mother-in-law and I both happen love and also happen to order nearly every time we're at The OSF.

It's amazing.

We've both been trying to make this dish at home, but haven't been able to find this elusive cheese!

Luckily, our friends made a voyage down to Jungle Jim's in Cincy and picked me up a wedge. How kind!!


And just an fyi, this is so easy, a monkey could make this.

You just have to find the cheese.

I've heard Parmigiano-Reggiano is an acceptable substitute for Mizithra. But I can personally neither confirm nor deny this statement. 'Cuz I haven't tried it myself. Maybe I will the next time I crave this dish.


Mizithra and Browned Butter (from Allrecipes)

Prep Time: 10 min.  Cook Time: 15 min.  Difficulty: E-Z


1 pound spaghetti (I used linguine)
1 cup butter
3/4 cup Mizithra cheese

Hello!! 3 ingredients!!


1. Cook pasta in large pot of lightly salted, boiling water until al dente. Drain.
2. When pasta is almost done, start slowly melting the butter over medium heat until brown. Skim butter solids off top. Toss pasta with butter. Sprinkle with cheese to taste.

Hello!! 2 directions!! Told you it was easy.

Serves 6-8

My tip:  This can be great as a light main dish or as a side. It would pair nicely with a chicken parmesan or try it alongside Chicken Prosciutto!


Aaaaaand the best part is you work off the calories you're about to consume when you grate the cheese. See what I just gave you? A guilt-free dinner.

You're welcome :)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

hungry for some excitement??


Read about what happened to me, my husband, and two of our friends last week.

More food stuff later. Happy Hump Day!

Monday, July 4, 2011

penne with spicy vodka tomato cream sauce.

There are some things I need to make sure I have in my kitchen at all times:


Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Ground Schnausage.
Heavy Cream.

To name a few.

You see, my husband has a few favorite dishes I make, and when he requests them, I need to be ready.

Because there's almost nothing better than getting to fulfill someone's hunger desires.

"What's that, darling? You're craving tiramisu cheesecake with a chocolate ganache? No problem!"

"Chicken lasagna Alfredo? Done!"

"Penne with spicy vodka tomato cream sauce? I thought you might like that."


You see, doing things like this not only brings me joy, but has other marital benefits (not what you think). What I mean is, maybe he might feel more generous than normal and approve a reasonable purchase like this one.

It's worth a shot.

Here's another thing that's worth a shot:

Penne. With Spicy Vodka Tomato Cream Sauce.

Long name. Sounds complicated. You've already tuned me out.

But hold on! Let me just inform you (in case you didn't already know) that I am the Queen of Lazy Cooking. Yes, Queen. Didn't know I was royalty, did you?

I mean, this time of year I'm not too bad. It's summer... I'm not teaching all day... I have a little more time on my hands. I have time to find new, exciting recipes to try and to go to the store to shop for ingredients of that recipe.

You will not find me doing that during the school year. No, that's when I'm all about efficiency. Cooking is almost an inconvenience. No, scratch that. Cooking IS an inconvenience. When I have no time to spare.

Know what I'm talking about?

Thought so.

Which is why you need to meet this recipe.


Ohhhhh SNAP! Now you're interested.

Pasta topped with a rich, creamy tomato sauce. It's smooth and velvety, with a bite! It's not subtle. It kinda smacks you in the face. In a good way. It's like a flavor explosion in your mouth. Like the 4th of July (today) from first bite!

Then there's the sausage. It adds to the sauce making this meal a little more hearty, but not in the sleepy, food-coma-after-a-big-meaty-meal way. No, the sausage is not the main attraction. It plays a very important supporting role.

This dish tastes so complex that everyone who partakes of it will think you slaved for hours.

(But really it was more like 25 minutes... shhh... don't tell!)

Are you ready for this??


Penne with Spicy Vodka Tomato Cream Sauce

Prep Time: 10 min.  Cook Time: 15 min.


  • 1 pound uncooked penne pasta
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons vodka
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 (3.5 ounce) links sweet Italian sausage (or 1/2 lb. ground Italian sausage)
  • 1 cup shredded Italian cheese


  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
  2. In large skillet, heat oil over moderate heat. Remove casing (not necessary for ground sausage) from sausage and add to skillet. Cook, breaking up the meat, until brown. Add garlic and red pepper and cook, stirring until garlic is golden brown.
  3. Add tomatoes and salt; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.
  4. Add vodka and cream and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and add pasta, toss for 1 minute. Stir in fresh parsley, top with cheese, and serve!

Serves 8

My Tip:  Make sure you have a splatter screen over your skillet/pan while simmering. Otherwise your stove, your husband, your kitty, and yourself will look like victims in a crime scene. 

My Second Tip:  If you're one who doesn't normally "do" spicy, you can still "do" this dish. Just tone down the amount of red pepper flakes to about 1 tsp. And don't buy spicy schnausage.


Well, if this doesn't give you a foodbaby, I just don't know what will.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

chicken prosciutto.

Last night, I made delicious food.


I know this because they told me. "They" are my husband and friends, and they raved about this dish. And I loved it too!

But I was kinda bummed. My photos for this are kinda poopy. Blurry, bad lighting, etc. AND I learned a valuable lesson:

It's not always attractive to photo your food while it's cooking.



I can't believe I took a photo that actually makes me not want to eat. As I reviewed the photos late last night, I just had to laugh at this one. WHAT WAS I THINKING???

Anyway, I hope I haven't deflated your expectations for this dish. Because it is a TEN (out of TEN).


Chicken breast.



Butter... lots of butter.

And fontina cheese. Or gruyere (someone please tell me how to make a fancy "e". You know, the French "e". With the thingy above it). Here's why I used gruyere instead of fontina:

It's not that I didn't know where to find fontina. It's in the fancy cheese section of the grocery store. I found it just fine. But no one told me that it costs a BAZILLION dollars! For reals, it was like $9 for about 3 oz. Now, I like to cook "gourmet" foods or whatever, but I also like to save a buck or two from time to time.

So Jared got out his phone and found that gruyere was an acceptable substitute. I had not tried either of these cheeses before, but he read multiple sources that said this.

So we bought gruyere for about $4 for 3 oz.

Anyways, imagine this:

Seasoned chicken breast cooked to a nice golden brown in a pan of butter, topped with a sage leaf, and wrapped in salty, smoky prosciutto.

Oh but it gets better.

A thick slice of gruyere cheese melted on top of the buttery chicken. Smoky, tangy, buttery. The combination of flavors makes the chicken.

But wait, there's more! The sauce!

A cup of dry white wine (a cabernet sauvignon, perhaps), half a stick of butter, and some minced sage... no need to think about calories. Because it's delicious. Reduced in the same pan the chicken was cooked in, the scrapings from prior cooking carry the flavors that incorporate into the sauce. It all sings together in perfect harmony.

This is the best way I can describe it:

Chicken Prosciutto (from Simply Recipes)

Prep Time: 25 min.


  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 8 whole fresh sage leaves
  • 1/4 pound very thinly sliced prosciutto
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 8 thin slices Italian Fontina cheese (about 2 oz)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 Tbsp minced fresh sage
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, chilled

1. Trim the chicken tenderloins away from the breasts, and reserve for another use. Cut each breast half in half, horizontally. Trim away any excess fat. Place the 8 chicken breast pieces between two large pieces of wax paper. Pound the pieces with a mallet until each one is about 1/8 inch thick. Season with ground pepper and set aside.
2. Heat the butter over medium heat in a large sauté pan. When the butter is foaming, add the sage leaves and cook them on each side for 1 minute. Remove the sage leaves from the pan and place a leaf on each of the chicken pieces. Next wrap each chicken piece with a single layer of prosciutto.
3. Dip the wrapped chicken pieces, one at a time in the beaten eggs, coating them well. Make sure the butter in the pan is foaming golden, not browned. Working in batches so that you do not crowd the chicken in the pan, place the chicken pieces in the pan. Cook the chicken breasts about 2 minutes on each side, or until they're just past pink on the inside, golden on the outside. Remove.
4. Place chicken pieces on a flat baking sheet, and cover each piece with a slice of Fontina. Place under a preheated broiler until the cheese just melts, about 1 minute. Divide chicken among 4 plates and serve immediately, with the sauce.
5. While the cheese is melting, pour out the butter from the sauté pan. Add the white wine into the pan, place over high heat. Reduce the wine to 1/2 cup. Add the minced sage about a minute before the reduction is complete. Reduce the heat to low and whisk in the chilled butter. Adjust the seasoning, pour over and around the chicken.
Serves 6-8.

My Tip: Make sure you have everything prepped and measured out before you start the actual cooking, because moves fast once you start melting the butter. I even pulled apart each piece of prosciutto so it was separated before I began. 


Served with a mixed green salad and garlic bread, this dish is great for entertaining. It was fairly quick and surprisingly easy to make.

And--BONUS--I have everything I need to make it again. I WANT MORE!!

Go make it. Now.