Frittata with Fontina Cheese

It’s no surprise that I love feeding people.  It’s the little old Italian grandmother in me that gets a ridiculous amount of satisfaction from making food and sharing it with the people in my life.  My neighbors must love this about me because I feed them about every other day.  Okay, slight exaggeration, but we do get together for dinner every week and one of us cooks.

Last week I invited them over for some pork chops midweek, but had neglected to think of a side dish.  I ALWAYS do this.  Maybe its’ just a weird Liz thing, but I will have the entire main dish planned and then five minutes before I start cooking go, “A side dish!  What the hell do I make for a side dish?!”  Not wanting to go through an entire bag of frozen vegetables, I decided that a frittata was really the only way to go.  When in doubt, go with a frittata.  Words to live by, folks.

For those of you are unfamiliar with frittatas (the horror!) it’s basically an Italian omelette.  Instead of dealing with flipping and all that jazz, though, the added ingredients (i.e. meat, cheese and veggies) are baked right into the egg.  It starts out on the stove and then finishes up in the broiler for a nice golden top.

Btw — any New Girl fans out there?  I pretty much died when Schmidt made the frittata reference last night.

“Are you cooking a frittata in a sauce pan?  What is this, prison?”

You gotta ❤ Schmidt.  Seriously.

Frittata with Fontina Cheese

Ingredients:

5 eggs

1 tbsp milk

4 oz fontina cheese, cubed

parmesan cheese

Directions:

Crack and beat the eggs in a bowl.  Pour in the milk and fontina cheese, and mix until combined.  Meanwhile, heat an oven-safe saute pan over medium heat.  Pour in the egg mixture and top with parmesan cheese.  Cook until the egg is set, 10-15 minutes.  Turn on the broiler and put in the pan for 3-4 minutes, until the top is golden brown.  Cut into wedges and serve.

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Buffalo Chicken Dip

I’d like to introduce you all to the Buffalo Chicken Dip.

It’s basically the Enrique Iglesias of appetizers.  It’s spicy.  It’s hot.  And I can never, ever get enough.  I served it at a football party that my roommate Sarah and I threw Sunday night.  Sarah’s really into football.  I’m really into making a lot of food and watching people eat it.

What?!  Being a food blogger TOTALLY makes that okay.

There were really two reasons I was excited to have this party.  First, we were supposed to invite our law school crushes and then win them over with our sparkling personalities while I shoved food in their direction.  Second, I was finally going to make buffalo chicken dip.

Admittedly, the first didn’t happen.  Sarah’s crush couldn’t make it and due to my inability to string coherent sentences together around mine, an invitation was never extended.  I DID make buffalo chicken dip, though.  The entire time I was making it, I kept thinking it wouldn’t turn out well.  I mean, chicken and buffalo sauce seems on the right track.  But then cream cheese?  Ranch dressing??  What in the world am I serving people?!  Well, my worries were downright silly.  Chicken, buffalo sauce, cream cheese and ranch dressing TOTALLY go together.  And when piled on top of a tortilla chip?

Even better.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

1 1/2 lbs chicken

1 12 oz. bottle of Frank’s hot wing sauce

8 0z. ranch dressing (half a bottle)

1 block cream cheese

4 oz sharp cheddar cheese

1/2 cup chopped celery

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Poach the chicken and shred after letting it cool.  Spread the chicken on the bottom of a 9-inch casserole dish and pour the wing sauce over the chicken.  Mix well.

In a saucepan, heat the ranch sauce and cream cheese, whisking continuously.  You don’t want the cream cheese to clump.  Once combined, pour over the chicken.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Sprinkle the cheese on top and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling. Let sit for 10 minutes before mixing well.  Serve with celery sticks, carrots or tortilla chips.

Source: Eat, Live, Run 

Gratuitous party picture!  Yay!

The Greatest Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

I have such high hopes for my time spent in the law library.  I go in with my coffee and snacks and imagine all the reading and case briefing I’ll get done.  I’ll be so productive.  I’ll read ahead.  I’ll get all my work done and not have to schlep those eighty-pound casebooks home.

Then I end up on Facebook.

And email.

And this awesome Tumblr page that features famous guys with tiaras.

How is this not the greatest thing you’ve ever seen?!

Three hours later I leave with little accomplished and the usual, “Great, now I have to carry all of these books and commiserate over all the work I could have gotten done if I hadn’t been looking at pictures of men wearing tiaras.”

Then I go home and avoid more work by starting dinner at 4:30 and claiming that I HAVE to bake a batch of cookies.  Because, clearly, having sweets on hand is more important than being prepared for classes where you get called on randomly and potentially berated if you don’t know the answers.

Anyway, despite my waxing and waning on my lack of productivity, I actually do manage to get my work done every night and still have time for cookie-making and cookie-eating.  I made these last week and am just finishing off the batch.

The Greatest Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

1 3/4 cup flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

14 tbsp unsalted butter

1/2 cup white sugar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 tsp salt

2 tsp vanilla

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1 1/4 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.  

In a medium saucepan, melt 10 tbsp of butter.  Stir constantly and remove from heat when brown specks form at the bottom of the pan.  The butter will be golden in color and smell nutty.  Pour over the remaining 4 tbsp of butter and let come to room temperature.  

Mix with the sugars.  Add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla and whisk until combined.  Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined.  Don’t over-mix.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  

Drop roughly 3 tbsp of cookie dough for each cookie onto a prepared baking sheet.  Bake 10-12 minutes.  Let the cookies rest on the pan for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Source:  Eat, Live, Run

Brown Butter Chocolate-Stuffed Toffee Cookies

One of the things I looked forward to most about law school was joining the softball team.  When I was choosing between this school and Loyola, I literally made a pro-con list with soft ball on the U of I side.

Tonight was the first set of games and it was everything I thought it would be and more.  I have to admit I was a little nervous at first, especially when you realize there’s this relatively hard ball flying at your face.  Once you realize that the hulking-forty-three-dollar-glove protects your face from the ball, though, it gets better.  And then you find out there’s a keg and things get EVEN better.

We played my roommate Sarah’s team, and we totally won.  I’d like to say I contributed to the win, but all I did was yell out kitschy phrases and making “in the hole” jokes.

In retrospect, I totally contributed to the win.

In the upcoming weeks, I want to start bringing cookies to the field.  Basically so that I can become a Team Mom and force my baked goods on people.  Because really, what is better than forcing people to ingest large amounts of sugar?

Speaking of large amounts of sugar, these cookies are ridiculous.  RIDICULOUS.  I think eating just half could rot most of your teeth, but they’re so delicious you don’t even care.  Not even a bit.  I’m sure these will be made again some time in the future for a softball game.  Hope my teammates don’t like their teeth too much.

Brown Butter Chocolate-Stuffed Toffee Cookies

Ingredients:

1 1/2 sticks butter

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1 egg + 1 egg yolk, at room temperature

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups + 2 tbsp flour 

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup toffee chips

chocolate chunks

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a bowl mix together the flour, baking soda and salt.

Heat a saucepan over medium heat and melt the butter.  Stir constantly, until brown bits form on the bottom of the pan.  It will smell nice and nutty.  Remove from heat immediately.  Let the butter come to room temperature and then  stir in the sugars.  Stir in the flour mixture.

Fold in the toffee chips.  Take the dough and form two tablespoon size mounds.  Wedge chocolate between the two tablespoons and press together.

Bake for 12-14 minutes.  Let rest on baking sheet for 5 minutes and then remove gently to a cooling rack.

Source:  How Sweet Eats

Pet Peeve Wednesday: Champaign-Urbana Edition

As a city girl, I was pretty nervous about making the trek down south and settling in a city literally surrounded by corn fields.  When I was choosing law school, the unreasonable side of me went, “No!  Stay in civilization!  You can’t give up J. Crew and Intelligentsia coffee!”.  Of course, the reasonable side of me went, “Stop being ridiculous and go to the better school.  There is still coffee in Champaign.  I hear Walmart isn’t half bad, either.”

The reasonable side won out.

I’ve acclimated surprisingly well down here.  I think part of it is the people, but I genuinely like the area.  It’s so different from my experience in the city, and in the best way possible.  But I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t find something to complain about.  So, without further adieu…

1)  There is too much damn corn.  And fresh air.  And pollen or whatever stupid stuff is in the air that makes me feel like I was hit by a truck in the morning.  I’ve gone through more tissues here than I think I did in my entire undergraduate career.

2)  Champaign-Urbana drivers are terrible.  I thought city drivers were bad, but at least they went OVER the speed limit.  Here, you get stuck behind someone going 20 mph on a 40 mph street, and you’re just like, “Seriously?  SERIOUSLY?!”

3)  Did I mention there is a lot of driving?  I mean, A LOT.  I’m used to being able to walk everywhere or take the El. Now, I actually have to use my car, and anyone who has driven with me knows this is not a good thing.  It takes me no less than two tries to park my car.  I’m talking every time, people.  

4)  The weather down here is really wonky in the sense that in the morning it will be something like 50 degrees – you’re freezing your you-know-whats off – and then by the time you leave school (or work) it is up in the 80s and you feel like you’re getting premature hot flashes.  It’s like — weather, stop PMSing.  Make up your damn mind.

5)  This has less to do with Champaign-Urbana, and more to do with the shuttle driver who takes all of us to campus in the morning.  For some reason, the driver never drops us off at the street corner where there is sidewalk.  Instead we get dropped off next to a bunch of grass which is always wet with morning dew.  Have you ever walked in flip-flops through dew-wet-grass?  Yeah, don’t.  

Well, that’s about all the complaining I have in me this morning.  What’s peeving you off today?

Utilizing Leftovers: Spicy Taco Salad

I started law school about two weeks ago, and I am continually surprised by just how much it is like high school.  The class is broken down into four sections, so you pretty much have all your classes with the same 50 people.  You then see those same 50 people in the hallways.  You eat lunch with them.  You wax and wane about your professors.  Complain about the work.  If that isn’t high school enough, you have lockers.  And you actually use them.

I forgot how great lockers are.  You can bring a bunch of really unnecessary things to school and then just stuff them in your locker.  My only qualm is that I got one of the half lockers.  My roommate (among others) has a full locker and I am super jealous.  She can fit so many more pictures of Orlando Bloom on her locker door.

The biggest high-school-thing about law school, though, are the hours.  Since I did speech and theater in high school, I pretty much was there from 9-5, if not later, every day.  College was a crazy-laissez-faire time of starting class at ten and ending by three — maybe with the occasional meeting on a weeknight.  Law school is pretty much an 8-5 beast, meaning when I get home all I want to do is curl on the couch with Veronica Mars.  This has made me really work the versatility of leftovers.

Last week I had a bunch of leftover taco meat from Taco Tuesday, and I used that and the leftover fixings to make some taco salads.  Not the most innovative use of the meat, but they were delicious.  With some guacamole mixed in, balsamic black bean salsa, and crushed chips it was the perfect quick-and-easy dinner.

Spicy Taco Salad

Ingredients:                                                                                                  Taco Meat Ingredients:

1/2 cup taco meat (recipe below)                                                            1 lb ground beef

1/3 cup balsamic black bean salsa                                                         1/2 cup onion, diced

1 tbsp guacamole                                                                                         1 tbsp chili powder

1/2 cup shredded lettuce                                                                            2 tsp cumin, coriander

2 tbsp cheese                                                                                                  3 cloves garlic, minced

handful of chips, crushed                                                                           salt/pepper

 

Directions:

For the meat, saute 1/2 cup diced onion in oil until softened.  Add the meat and break apart, browning the meat.  Add the garlic and spices, and cook until meat is completely browned.  Drain before serving.

Combine all ingredients.  Eat.  Repeat.

Balsamic Black Bean Salsa

I’m of the firm belief that alliteration makes things better.  Movie titles.  Kitschy phrases.  It’s especially true for names, because it helps me remember them.  I am the worst at remembering names.  Like, THE WORST.  I can’t tell you how many times I meet someone, have a long involved conversation with them, and then see them the next day and have absolutely no idea who they are.  Of course, instead of behaving like a normal person and simply going, “I’m so sorry but I don’t remember your name…” I avoid the matter all together and let the no-name-issue fester until  asking would be uncomfortable and slightly offensive.

Yeah, totally wish everyone had alliterative names.  I would avoid so many embarrassing situations.

This recipe almost has an alliterative name.  I made it for Taco Tuesday (yes, I have a problem) with my roommate Sarah and our neighbors and immediately decided that I wanted it with every single meal.  Is it normal to want salsa for breakfast?  Probably not, but I’ve never exactly been normal, so I’m just going to go with it.  Speaking of normal, this salsa is the opposite of it.  It combines black beans, corn and salsa verde with an unexpected splash of balsamic vinegar.  If you’re leery about mixing these flavors the best thing to do is close your eyes, wish for the best, and go for it.  You will not be disappointed.

Balsamic Black Bean Salsa

Ingredients

1 can black beans (15 oz), drained

1 can yellow corn (15 0z), drained

1/2 medium onion, diced

1 can salsa verde (7 oz)

Juice of 1 lime

1/2 tsp cumin

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

Salt/Pepper to taste

Directions:

Mix all of the ingredients together and cover with plastic wrap.  Let marinate overnight.  When serving, drain most of the liquid and serve along with tortilla chips.

Source: Mel’s Kitchen Cafe