Friday Faves

Happy Friday, Everyone!!!!!

I’ve never done one of these Friday faves posts, but the fact that I neglected to take photos for today’s recipe post makes now seem like the perfect time for some Friday-faves-action.  Nothing like some unplanned slacking to stoke the creative fires.  Without further adieu, I bring you a list of random things that I’m loving right now!

This amazing Burts Bees Honey and Milk lotion.

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I’m a major cuticle picker, so I try to always keep my hands moderately moisturized.  My reasoning is that if my hands are nice and smooth I won’t go ahead and butcher them.  That reasoning has yet to actually work out, but I’m hoping for a breakthrough in the foreseeable future.

Luigi’s Italian Ices

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Late night snacks are my jam.  Do you know what’s not my jam?  Late night snack pounds.  These italian ices are great because they’re only 100 calories each and they take FOR-EVAH to eat.  I love food that takes a long time to finish.  Longer snack times = a happier Liz.

American Idol and The Voice

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I’m putting these both together because I love them equally for the same reason.  Spoiler alert – it’s not because of the singing.  Both shows this season have such amazing judge panels.  Watching them interact and poke fun at each other is may more entertaining than any mediocre singer ever could be.

Bright Sunny Days for Driving

Last week, when I drove through a highway so foggy that I felt like I was in a scene out of some low budget halloween movie, I realized how much I don’t appreciate sunny days.  Long drives in nice weather are actually pretty nice.  Yesterday I drove home during a nice and bright day, and it was a surprisingly pleasant experience.  I’m going to hold on to that feeling, as my drive back to school is supposed to be with snow.

Jimmy Fallon Lip-sych offs

These are nothing new, but the latest one with Paul Rudd is just GOLDEN.  I’m not sure if it reaches the perfection that was the original John Krazinski lip-synch off, but Paul Rudd’s sweet dance moves make it come pretty close.

What are your Friday faves?  Tell me in the comment section!!!

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Frittata with Sausage and Broccoli

Frittata is just not photogenic. I tried.  I really did.  But at the end of the day, eggs are sort of this jaundice-yellow color and no amount of photography tricks and natural lighting can fix that.  While I can’t attest to this meal’s cheery appearance, I can attest to its delicious taste.

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I love frittatas, and adding ground sausage just makes it that much better.  I also added some broccoli because I figured the frittata shouldn’t be straight protein and salt.  Feel free to sub in different veggies for the broccoli.  I’d keep it in the green family (i.e. spinach, asparagus, etc.) but if you want to go crazy and throw some tomatoes in there or something, I won’t judge.

Before the recipe, I need to share a quick story about how I have an uncanny ability to accidentally injure myself.  Okay, a quick two stories.  I’m not particularly clumsy, but sometimes I just have really off days.  And I mean, REALLY off days.  For example, when I was home for winter break, I grabbed one of the Harry Potter books from my bedroom and swung the hand with the book up to switch my light off.  This resulted in me accidentally punching my wall and ending up on the couch with a bag of frozen peas on my rapidly swelling hand.

This Saturday I had another doozy.  I got out of my car and reached behind me to close the door.  Naturally, I hadn’t moved out of the way of the door and slammed it on my back.  And I slammed that puppy HARD.  I’m moderately sure I actually did some damage, because it currently hurts like a you-know-what to do any sort of reaching.  Or to just lay in bed.

So, yay to me being a walking hazard to myself.

Frittata with Sausage and Broccoli

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Ingredients

6 eggs

1 tbsp milk

1/2 lb ground sausage

1 cup frozen broccoli florets, thawed

1/2 cup grated parmesan

salt/pepper

Directions

Turn on the broiler.

In a medium sauté pan, cook the ground sausage until browned and cooked through.  Remove the sausage to a separate plate and add the broccoli.  Cook until tender and heated through.  Add the sausage back to the pan.

In a small bowl, mix together the eggs and milk.  Pour the egg mixture into the sauté pan and cook until mostly cooked through.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and broil until the egg is cooked through and the top browned.

Source:  my brain

Potato Chip Cookies

Growing up, my grandma was quite the baker.  For every holiday she’d bring at least three different types of cookies for us to have for dessert.  She constantly made different types of cookies, always looking for a new recipe or a twist on an old one.  I fully credit my love of baking to my time with her in the kitchen, and now I think I can also credit her with my constant restlessness when it comes to finding new recipes!

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Despite the rotating menu of cookies, these potato chip cookies always made an appearance.  They were my favorite, and I was known to sneak one or two before the big holiday meal.  I just loved the interplay of the sweetness of the cookie and the saltiness of the chips.  If you’re making these, don’t skip the powdered sugar topping.  While it’s not technically necessary, it adds that little something extra that takes the cookie from just good to get-those-away-from-me-before-I-eat-eight-hundred.

Potato Chip Cookies

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Ingredients

2 cups butter, softened

1 cup sugar

3 1/4 cups flour

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cup crushed potato chips

1/4 cup powdered sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar.  Mix in the flour and vanilla.  Fold in the crushed potato chips.

Drop rounded teaspoons onto a prepared baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between each cookie.  Using a fork, gently flatten each cookie.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the edges are lightly golden.  Remove to a wire rack to cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

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Source:  Paula Deen

Quinoa, Roasted Eggplant, and Apple Salad with Cumin Viniagrette

I started watching Friday Night Lights a few weeks ago and now all I want to do is eat barbecue, watch high school football, and be Tami Taylor.  Seriously, every person who is female should want to be Tami Taylor.

Every Single Time Tami Taylor Had Wine

If you don’t agree with this statement, then either (a) you haven’t watched Friday Night Lights, or (b) you’re completely wrong and probably should just leave my blog right now.

I didn’t think I’d like Friday Night Lights mostly because it’s about a high school football team, and I don’t give even half a hoot about the sport.  But then I started watching (based on the urgings of several friends) and saw that the show is about so much more than football.  It’s about family and friends.  It’s about finding one’s identity and overcoming obstacles.  And, yes, it’s also about football.  But the football gets more interesting when you learn the backstories of the players and coaches.  There’s usually about one game in each episode and I am on the.edge.of.my.seat watching.

So, basically, this is a pitch for you all to watch Friday Night Lights.  It’s a great show with really solid writing, characters and acting.  Plus, the entire series is on Netflix which makes it the perfect series for a weekend binge!  So, cheers to that!

Every Single Time Tami Taylor Had Wine

When you’re binge-watching Friday Night Lights this weekend you should be eating this quinoa salad.  Why, you ask?  Well, for starters, it’s amazing.  I know I say that about pretty much everything I post, this one is the real deal.  Quinoa, apples slices, cranberries and roasted eggplant are tossed in a smoky cumin-viniagrette.  It’s a step beyond your average quinoa salad.  And let me tell you, folks, you’ll never look back.

Quinoa, Roasted Eggplant, and Apple Salad with Cumin Vinaigrette

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Ingredients

For the vinaigrette:

1 1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tbsp, plus 1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

salt

pepper

1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp ground cloves

1 large shallot, finely chopped

For the salad:

2 cups veggie broth

1 1/4 cup quinoa

Veggie oil cooking spray

1 eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

3 tbsp olive oil

salt/pepper

1 large apple, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

3/4 cup walnut pieces, toasted

1/2 cup unsweetened dried cranberries

Directions

For the vinaigrette:

Whisk the oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and cumin together in a small bowl until thick and blended.  Stir in the shallot.

For the salad:

Preheat an oven to 400 degrees

In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer and add the quinoa.  Reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and let it simmer until the broth is absorbed and the quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes.  Remove the quinoa from heat and let stand for 5-10 minutes.  Transfer the quinoa to a large bowl, let cool, and fluff with a fork.

Toss the eggplant with oil, salt and pepper in a large baking dish.  Roast for about 30 minutes, until browned and tender.

Take the cooled eggplant, vinaigrette, apple, walnuts and cranberries and add them to the quinoa.  Toss to blend.

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Source:  Slightly adapted from Giada’s Feel Good Food

Soba Noodle Salad

In my life I am constantly searching for balance.  I’m searching for a balance between my school work and home life.  A balance between nights out and nights spent squarely in front of my Netflix, happily subsisting off of no further human interaction than that of the characters on my screen that I love way too much considering they’re fictional.  I also try to find a balance between junk food and healthy food.

I don’t know if it’s the Central Illinois air going to my head, but I crave junk food way more than I ever did back during college.  Maybe it’s because a burger in the city costs nine dollars, but even back in the suburbs where burgers (and other junk food) is sold for normal prices, I never really went for it.  But, hallelujah, sometimes down here I would give my right arm for a good Meatheads burger.  Or some Buffalo Wild Wing teriyaki wings.  I’m making myself hungry just typing that.

I joked with my roommate recently that if I didn’t know better I’d think I was pregnant with all these fast food cravings.  But we all know that station is firmly closed for business, so the only explanation is that I’ve gotten myself a junk-food-tooth.  And, folks, it’s been a struggle.

When in doubt, I cook.  The way that I see it – even if I’m craving something bad for me, if I cook something healthy I’ll feel obligated to eat it.  I was brought up on a strict no-waste policy, so unless I make something truly awful (which, funny enough, I actually did earlier this week) I’m eating it.  The great thing is that most times I end up really loving what I make and I forget all about those burgers and wings.

Unless it’s what I made earlier this week.  Yeesh, it was awful.  But, this ISN’T that meal.  Nope, this is something completely different.  Chewy soba noodles are drenched in a tangy peanut sauce with crisp cabbage and bell peppers.  All of it tastes so fresh that you can’t even imagine eating something out of a grease-soaked paper bag.

You know, until tomorrow.

Soba Noodle Salad

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8 ounces soba noodles (buckwheat noodles)

For the dressing:

3 tbsp creamy peanut butter (or almond butter)

3 tbsp soy sauce

3 tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp honey

1 (1 inch) piece of fresh ginger, minced

2 tsp wasabi paste

For the salad:

1 (1 1/2 lb) head of napa cabbage, cored and shredded.

1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

3 scallions, white and green parts only, thinly sliced

1 hothouse cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced

1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted

3 tbsp black sesame seeds

Directions:

For the soba noodles:

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.  Cook the noodles and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 4 to 5 minutes.  Rinse well in cold water, drain, and put in a serving bowl.

For the dressing:

In a blender, combine the almond/peanut butter, soy sauce, olive oil, lime juice, sesame oil, 2 tbsp water, the honey, ginger, and wasabi paste.  Blend until smooth.

For the salad:

Pour the dressing over the salad, and add the cabbage, bell pepper, scallions, cucumber, and almonds.  Toss until combined.

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Source:  Giada’s Feel Good Food

What I’ve Learned From Parks and Recreation

I did one of these for Gilmore Girls before, and thought I’d do a few more with my favorite shows.  Basically, I just want an excuse to look up Parks and Rec gifs.  Hope you enjoy!

While multitasking like a boss it’s important to not overstretch yourself.

100 "Parks And Recreation" GIFs To Celebrate The Show's 100th Episode

It’s always important to recognize the source of your work.

100 "Parks And Recreation" GIFs To Celebrate The Show's 100th Episode

Sometimes, when you’re super busy, you need a me-day.

100 "Parks And Recreation" GIFs To Celebrate The Show's 100th Episode

Don’t worry if you have no idea what the hell you’re doing.  Chances are, you’re not alone.

     

In those times of having no idea what the hell you’re doing, don’t be afraid to be your biggest champion.

    

And then the worst advice from none other than Jerry Gergich.

100 "Parks And Recreation" GIFs To Celebrate The Show's 100th Episode

COME ON, JERRY!!!

Strawberries and Cream Cookies

I should say right here that I unabashedly love Valentine’s Day.  I don’t care that I’m single or that it’s a holiday manufactured by Hallmark to sell cards.  It’s a day about love, all sorts of love, and I think that is a beautiful thing.  With that said, these snarky passive aggressive Valentine’s Day cards are too funny not to share.

I think these cookies are the perfect Valentine’s Day treat.  They’re chewy cookies loaded with white chocolate chips and dried strawberry bits.  And they’re puurtty.

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I made these for my SBA meeting on Monday and dubbed the board members my surrogate main squeezes.  After trying these cookies, none of them were complaining.

I think what I love most about this recipe is that it really is a one bowl cookie.  You all know how much I hate doing dishes, so I’m always happy to have an easy cleanup after baking!

Strawberries and Cream Cookies

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Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

1 cup light brown sugar

1 egg, plus 1 yolk

2 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 1/4 cup flour

1 cup chopped dried strawberries

1 cup white chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar.  Add the eggs and vanilla, mixing until combined.  Mix in the baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Mix in the flour.  Fold in the chopped dried strawberries and white chocolate chips.

Place rounded tablespoons onto a prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 9-11 minutes.  Let cool on the baking sheet for three minutes, and remove to a cooling rack.

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Source:  Cookies and Cups

Funfetti Mug Cake

This is the best and worst recipe I have ever discovered.  It’s great because now I can have funfetti cake whenever I want.  It’s bad because, well, now I can have funfetti cake whenever I want.

I’m sure this isn’t your first introduction to mug cakes – it’s not mine either – but the fact that it’s FUNFETTI CAKE  makes it better than all those other mug cakes.  It’s practically a proven fact that funfetti cake is superior to just about everything else.  I think it’s all the colors.  In the drab winter bright colors are lacking, but then you make this mug cake and your colorful life is complete!  You don’t see boring old chocolate cake doing that!

A quick note for when you make this — make sure to use a large enough mug.  I’ve made the mistake of using a normal sized one for other mug cakes and got batter all over my microwave turn-thingy.  So…if you want to avoid washing that turn-thingy (what is that actually called?!) make sure to use a large enough mug.

Funffetti Mug Cake

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Ingredients:

4 tbsp flour

3 tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp baking powder

4 tbsp milk

1 1/2 tbsp oil

a dash or two of vanilla

1 tsp colored sprinkles  (or more if you’re feeling jazzy)

pinch of salt

Directions:

Combine all the ingredients up to the sprinkles in a large mug.  Fold in the sprinkles.  Microwave for two minutes. If your cake is still undercooked, heat further in 15 second increments.

Source:  Wendy See Wendy Do

Wild Mushroom Risotto with Peas

I made this risotto the night of Champaign’s third massive snowstorm.  I originally thought that I had to go back to school that night because I was serving as a volunteer witness for one of my friend’s classes, but it ended up being cancelled at the last moment.  I was so excited when I got the call that I literally started dancing around my kitchen.

Hugh Grant Love Actually Dance

I actually did this move, but my hip swings were not nearly as precise as Hugh Grant’s.

While it wasn’t a true snow day, it still felt like it.  Besides, U of I is the absolute worst at giving snow days so I figured I’d take what I can get.  It’s ridiculous how closing-averse the university is.  Everything else can be closed around Champaign-Urbana, but the university will be open.  My roommate told me it’s because most of the campus walks to class, so the university doesn’t worry about bad driving conditions.  Which I think is stupid because, hello, not all of your students are 17 year olds who refuse to live outside of walking distance from the campus bars.

My mini-snow-day was worth it just for this risotto.  I love making risotto.  I find the process  incredibly therapeutic.  My days are usually so busy with running to class and all of my other commitments that it’s really nice to literally just sit in front of the stove and stir.  I’m a grade-A stirrer after this, guys.  I scraped the bottom and everything.

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Despite it being a pretty active recipe, it comes together in about forty minutes.  I usually wouldn’t think of risotto as a weeknight meal, but this one changed my mind.  With just a bit more work and time you end up with a really nice dinner that stretches through the rest of the week.  Plus, don’t forget all that therapeutic stirring.  You’re basically getting dinner AND a therapy session at the same time.  Multitasking at its finest.

Wild Mushroom Risotto with Peas

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Ingredients

5 1/2 cups chicken stock

4 oz dried porcini mushrooms

10 0z white button mushrooms, sliced

1 1/2 cups arrborio rice

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) of butter

2/3 cup dry white wine

2 cups onion, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed

2/3 cup parmesan cheese

salt/pepper

Directions:

In a large soup pan, bring the broth to a simmer.  Add the mushrooms and remove the pot from heat, letting it sit for five minutes.

In another large pan melt the butter.  Add the onion and cook until softened, 8 minutes.  Add the porcini mushrooms (taken from the broth), the white button mushrooms, and garlic and cook until soft, 10 minutes.

Next, add the rice and wine and let it cook for two minutes, stirring constantly.  Ladle one cup of the mushroom broth into the pan and let it absorb.  Over the next thirty minutes or so add the broth one cup at a time, stirring frequently to keep the risotto from burning.  The risotto is fully cooked when it is creamy and the rice is tender.  If it’s chewy – keep cooking.

Add the peas and parmesan cheese, giving it all a good stir.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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Source:  Giada’s Everyday Italian

What I’ve Learned From Gilmore Girls

This won’t come as a surprise to any of you, but Gilmore Girls is one of my favorite television shows.  It’s been off the air since 2008 but I still watch it pretty regularly.  Over the course of my years of watching, I’ve learned some pretty important lessons from the Gilmore Girls.  The show is chock full of wisdom, and these are a few of my (silly) favorites.

Whoever told you there’s no such thing as a stupid question lied.

             

   

Sometimes you will irrationally hate someone’s name, and that’s okay.

There are many ways to evaluate a life, but only one way is correct.

Just because you’re attracted to someone doesn’t mean you have to – or should – go date them.

Emotional support is the key to any successful relationship.

There’s a fine, but distinct, line between hate and active dislike.

And, finally, the greatest (and sassiest) way to prematurely end a frustrating phone conversation.