Sunday, September 25, 2011


This should be a fun week in the cooking world.  Today I went to Costco and got:
  • Lemons
  • Apples
  • Whipping cream
  • Mussels
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Sourdough bread
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Spinach
  • Walnuts
  • Sundried tomatoes
I have some exciting plans...Quinoa and Walnut Stir Fry, Billibi (soup from the juice of mussels), Apple French Toast, and Cream-baked Brussel Sprouts.

In addition, my parents got me new tires for my birthday -- Thanks Mom and Dad!

However, now that I went grocery shopping, I am in grave danger.  I rarely buy bread and now that I have some, I am absolutely obsessed with broiled buttered bread with parmesan cheese melted on top, Italian seasoning, and sun-dried tomatoes.  To DIE for!!! I can't stop eating it -- it is fantastic.  Stay tuned for some cooking adventures this week :)

Saturday, September 24, 2011


The recipe for a perfect Friday night? Frozen yogurt (dulce de leche + red velvet + cake batter if we are getting specific) smuggled in to see the movie WARRIOR.  If I am capable of convincing you of anything, let it be to convince you to go see Warrior -- I would put it in the top five movies I have ever seen.
I am not much of a fan of sports movies.  Actually, more accurately, I am usually apathetic toward them and just never feel like watching them.  I have never seen Remember the Titans, The Fighter, Rocky, etc...In fact, I kind of chose this movie because it was the latest showtime and I needed a few extra minutes  to go and grab my frozen yogurt.

I also was wary of seeing this movie because it is 2 hours 6 minutes.  I prefer movies in the 100 minutes realm, and whenever I notice a movie is at least two hours, I think twice about whether I really want to see it.  However, the reviews are great, and I wanted to do something that didn't involve getting drunk on a Friday night.  During the movie, I wasn't once bored and I didn't check the time at all -- a good sign that the movie was holding my attention.  When the movie ended, I actually wasn't ready for it to end either! I could have watched for at least another hour.

If all those reasons still haven't convinced you, maybe this will:

In addition to the excellent eye candy, the movie had me blinking back happy tears and sad tears.  At one moment I was rooting for one fighter and the next I found myself rooting for the other fighter.  The movie does an excellent job of getting you involved with the characters and each character seems real -- they are complicated people with ugly traits and good traits. 

The ending isn't sticky sweet and is also seemingly realistic.  The movie doesn't lay it all out for you like some movies do and doesn't feel the need to assure us that everything turns out wonderfully.  Basically it ends with a "life goes on" type of feeling but also doesn't leave you empty or wishing you knew what happened.  It is very satisfying.

Some other great characters were played by Jennifer Morrissette and Nick Nolte.
Go see WARRIOR! And of course, my recommendation would be to sneak some sort of treat in :)  I always have to bring something or it just seems weird.  Even if I finish my snack during the previews, it wouldn't be the movies without some sort of treat!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fall Food

I like to post recipes and emphasize how simple they are because I feel like some people thinking cooking/baking is so elusive and they couldn't possibly give it a shot, when in reality, it is usually quite simple.  All it is, is a set of directions that you essentially follow.  However, that is NOT the case with this:
Tarte Tatin

My tarte tatin was an ABSOLUTE disaster.  So bad in fact, I didn't even keep it for myself.  The ENTIRE thing went in the garbage.  Yes, I had to think about it for a little bit, but I came to the conclusion it was time to trash it.

Anyone else have some sort of recipe you just can't seem to make?  I did feel better, as the comments section had all sorts of people claiming how hard it is to make correctly :)

For the record Phyllo Dough does NOT = Pastry Dough!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Home Improvement

My grandparents visited last night and we had an awesome time.  As part of my graduation/birthday present, we got to go shopping. We hit up Pier 1 Imports and got some amazing stuff for my house.  After I moved in in May, I was exhausted by all the decisions, and never did much of the "little details" it takes to pull a house together.  My grandma was great at helping me!

We ended up buying a big painting of a flower to go on the empty wall above my TV.  The colors were exactly what I wanted -- blue, yellow, and green.  The blue matches my vases, the yellow matches my blanket, and the green matches my lucky rock.  We also got two jumbo candle holders that are sitting to the right of the TV.  The candles inside are perfectly-matching green and blue.

I repositioned my bird painting (birthday present) so that it is more visible, and the dark frame helps tie together the living room and dining room.  We also put up two more pictures in the dining room.  In addition, I got a great hurricane-type glass jar to sit on the dining room table.  We filled it with little gold beads and flat marbles.  The hurricane jar has a lid on it, so candles can sit on top as well.

We also got this crazy looking but awesome rug in the bedroom, and a cute standing fish for the bathroom.  These were hand-me-downs that happened to be the exact colors for each of my rooms.  I might move the rug to the side of my bed but it is the heaviest rug ever!

Once I got home today, all the decorating had me inspired and I decided I needed some fall decor (to celebrate the first day of fall, of course!).  I bought a reasonably sized pumpkin, which wasn't even very hard to carry.  I got gold spray paint (difficult to chose between gold, silver or glitter but gold was a great choice).  I laid out a towel on the deck and set the pumpkin on it.  I wrapped the stem in aluminum foil, which worked great for ensuring it wouldn't get sprayed.

After that, I got to painting.  It was really easy and the only difficult part was making sure it got painted near the bottom.  I was paranoid the paint would get all over the deck, but it was really easy to aim and ensure it didn't fly everwhere.

My original goal had been to monogram the pumpkin, so I bought some gold flat thumbtacks.  In the end, I decided I couldn't make a good enough K, so I didn't bother trying.  I still think it is a good idea though -- if you are artsy, you could make all sorts of cute patterns.  One thing of note was gold thumbtacks didn' t stand out so well against gold paint, so pick a contrasting color.

I LOVE my gold pumpkin and ended up displaying it on my bookshelf.  It looks just like some sort of fancy enamel pumpkin you could buy at the store, but it was cheap, simple, and fun to make.  It also dried completely in about 15 minutes.  The only sad part is it will rot one day - I will let you know how long it lasts.

The problem with painting my pumpkin? I am now OBSESSED with painting things gold.  I love the way it looks and have all sorts of visions of purchases I could make and do-over with gold.  Gold spray paint is like the Instagram of real life -- it makes everything look cute.  I imagine silver and glitter is just as wonderful.  I am going to have to avoid thrift stores for awhile while I try to shed my urges.

In other news, has anyone heard of a "Slimcado"? Check out this big huge type of avocado (I thought it was genetically modified but apparently it isn't).

Here it is sitting with MANGOES to give you a size idea (but yes, they were fairly small mangoes).

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Roasted Cauliflower

Today was the day I lifted my self-imposed eat-leftovers/avoid-grocery-store rule, and I embraced it whole-heartedly.  I went to the store not once, but TWICE today.  I also spent quite a bit wandering around admiring all my options.  I think the staff started to wonder if I was lost or something, but nope! There were just so many possibilities. 

I eventually decided I wanted vegetables and I decided to recreate an Orangette recipe because I am in love with her vinaigrette.

I made Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Mustard Vinaigrette.

Here are the ingredients (I'll cover the vinaigrette after):

2 small cauliflower, about 1 pound each

3 Tbs good-quality olive oil
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1 tsp fine sea salt
A few grinds of black pepper
A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
My store had giant cauliflower, so I only got one.  My olive oil is also from Costco, so I wouldn't worry too much about quality unless you are picky.  I omitted the salt because I try to do that whenever possible, but I think salt would make it even better.  I think more lemon juice would be nice too, as I love the tang of lemons.  Finally, I would suggest adding a few pinches of nutmeg -- mine could have benefitted from more.

*Note - the recipe makes it sound like the cauliflower is left as two whole heads, while I chopped mine up into smaller pieces

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Set a steamer basket inside a large, deep pot, and add water to a depth of ½ to 1 inch – just below the bottom of the steamer. Rinse and trim the cauliflower. Place them in the steamer, cover, and steam for 15-20 minutes. By this point, they should be tender and should have changed in color from a raw, opaque white to a slightly more translucent, yellowy off-white.

I didn't have a steamer basket, so I filled a large pot with a bit of water, got the water bubbling, and covered it for twenty minutes.  This worked just fine. 
Meanwhile, combine the oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a small bowl, whisking to mix well.

When the cauliflower is ready, gently transfer them from the steamer to a medium baking dish or small roasting pan, something just large enough to hold the two heads side by side. Using a pastry brush, paint the cauliflower with the oil mixture. Cover the pan with aluminum foil, and place it in the oven. Roast the cauliflower for 30 minutes, basting every ten minutes. [You should have just enough of the oil mixture for three light bastings in total, including the first one.] Remove the foil, and continue to bake for another 10-20 minutes, until the cauliflower is pale golden and a knife can be easily inserted into its core.

- I put my cauliflower in a casserole dish and it worked great.  I also have a pretty crappy pastry brush, so I did more of a drizzle.  Once the foil was removed, I cooked mine for another twenty minutes and it started to brown up at the end.  I think it would be better to cook covered 25 minutes and uncovered 25 minutes, rather than 30/20.
Serve hot or warm, with vinaigrette.
Yield: About 4 servings (I ate it all, but it did last me about 8 hours :)

Red-Wine Mustard Vinaigrette
This stuff is seriously my FAVORITE.  I basically drink it with a spoon; it is that good.  Perfect portion of oil to vinegar to mustard.  Loved it with the cauliflower but it is also great with salad, etc.

1 Tbs Dijon mustard, preferably Grey Poupon
3 Tbs good-quality red wine vinegar
½ tsp fine sea salt
5 Tbs good-quality olive oil

*I left out the salt once again, but I am sure it is even better with the salt included.
Combine mustard, vinegar, and salt in a small bowl, and whisk to combine. Add the oil one or two tablespoons at a time, whisking continuously to emulsify. Taste to correct vinegar-oil balance, if necessary, and toss with your favorite salad ingredients. The dressing will keep for up to two weeks in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

This week I am back to the grocery store with a vengeance -- already have an apple tart to make and twice-baked sweet potatoes.  LOVING fall cooking!

Friday, September 16, 2011


I *love* this dress.  Not sure how it would actually look on, but it is so cute and only $27!  Wish we had a Charlotte Russe store in Idaho.

In other news, looking forward to a white wine tasting party tonight.  Have a great Friday!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Freezer Food

My mom would be so proud of me this week! I have been trying to take a week long break from the grocery store (my favorite place) and make food using what I have around the kitchen to use up any leftovers.  This has meant lots of eggs and tuna fish, which has been tasty, but I made an even tastier dinner tonight and it was so easy, not to mention essentially free.

I had about half a box of linguine, so I boiled a pot of water and put the noodles on for 11 minutes.  I checked in the freezer for frozen veggies and found a bag of peas and a bag of chopped broccoli. 

When the noodles had cooked for seven minutes, I added the frozen vegetables to cook for four minutes.  I emptied the peas, and used about half a bag of broccoli.

Once everything was done cooking, I strained it in the colander and returned it to the pot.  I had a half brick of cream cheese in the fridge, and melted it into the noodle/veggies mixture.  I drizzled a bit of my Brianna's Salad Dressing, Champagne Caper, over the noodles to add a bit more flavor.  I also added a tablespoon of garlic and my Italian seasoning spice which is FANTASTIC over anything (particularly buttered sourdough toast).

My mom got me this Italian seasoning.  BEST STUFF EVER.

This was a perfect meal and could be made with whatever you have in your fridge.

Here is a generic formula I think would work:
Use whatever pasta you have
Throw in at least two kinds of vegetables (frozen or fresh)
Add whatever cheese is in your fridge...if it is shredded, make sure you turn the heat back on and let it melt
Drizzle with your favorite salad dressing if you want more flavor (ranch or caesar would be good)
Add garlic
Add your favorite herbs (recommend: Italian seasoning)

I keep going back to eat more! Mine was a lot like a pasta carbonara.  Surprisingly, it is actually fairly healthy too.  Add more veggies and less noodles/cheese depending on how healthy you want yours to be.

In other news, here is a picture of my birthday cupcakes, courtesy of my sweet friend.  I think they unintentionally look like cute little Mickey Mouses.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Spiced Apple Mojito

This weekend I bought a fifth of bacardi white rum (not allergic to - yes!) and made Spiced Apple Mojitos from Cosmo October 2011.

These are fantastic is you really appreciate fall and love all the fall spices and flavors.  The boys I was with didn't like it much, but I loved it!

Note that I was visiting my boyfriend and didn't have my official muddler with me, and just used the handle of a wooden spoon to mush everything up.  Thank god I had a cocktail shaker and I do think that is an important component to a fantastic cocktail.

Ingredients for one drink:
3 slices apple
1/16 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
2 sprigs mint
1.5 oz light rum
1.5 oz lime simple syrup (2 parts lime juice with 1 part sugar)
splash of seltzer
thinly cut slice of apple

Make three thin slices of the apple.  I scored mine with a knife because Ididn't have a muddler and wanted to get as much of the juices out as possible.  Add the apples, nutmeg, cinnamon and min to the bottom of a shaker and muddle.  Add more mint if you love mint like I do.

Then, add the rum, lime syrup, and ice and shake well.

To make the syrup, I boiled the lime juice, added the syrup, stirred until dissolved, and removed from heat.  I would even do 3 to 1 lime to sugar because I didn't think the syrup tasted that lime-y.

Strain the mixture into a glass and top with seltzer.

Garnish with a thinly cut slice of apple -- DO THIS.  It is so easy to skip but it makes you feel fancy and decadent and I would recomment it to anyone.  Even drinking solo, garnishes add a beautiful touch.

*I am not sure how this can be considered a mojito (I guess the lime, rum, mint and sugar :) but I really don't think it tastes like a mojito at all.  However, it makes a fantastic rum drink and it is pretty healthy too! Fruits, minimal sugar, and lots of spices. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Back to TV Season

Today is a bit of a holiday, if you ask me. 

September 13th...second Tuesday of after my birthday....Nope! Nothing like that.

Today marks the first official day of Fall TV premieres (at least the first day one of my favorite shows premieres)!!  Does anyone else look forward to this day as much as I do?  I am a bit of a TV junkie, but I never mindlessly watch TV.  I always turn it on for a purpose and have planned exactly what I am going to watch.  I am really looking forward to this season's television shows, because there are tons of new ones coming out.  My favorite thing after work is to make dinner, curl up to a good show, and do some yoga whilst watching it.  Even better if it is raining and/or thundering outside.

So, what should you be on the lookout for?  Here is what I cannot wait to see:

90210 - CW (channel 3 in Boise) TONIGHT at 7 pm (MDT)/8 pm (PST)
The cheesy, over the top drama I have grown to love.  Only problem is the broadcast of the CW totally sucks in Boise! I feel like I am watching the show through a twenty year old TV.

2 Broke Girls -CBS Monday September 19th @ 9:30/8:30 c
The basic description of this show seems to be two broke girls who have "no money and no shame." 

3) New Girl - FOX Tuesday September 20th 9/8c
This show stars Zooey Deschannel -- whats not to love?! She is an "offbeat and adorable girl in her late twenties, who moves in with three single guys after she suffers a bad breakup." 

4) Modern Family - ABC Wednesday September 21st 9/8c
This is the third season of Modern Family and I have yet to watch it, but I keep hearing rave reviews.  I think I am going to have to add it to the DVR queue!
5) Whitney - NBC Thursday September 22 9:30/8:30
This is a real-life/faux life documentary type show focused on comedian Whitney Cummings, her real life experiences, and her comedy routines.  From the sounds of it, a lot will also focus on her five year relationship with her live in boyfriend (confused if that part is real or not??).

Other shows to look for: Terra Nova (FOX), Pan Am, and the return of: Grey's Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, Private Practice, House, and Gossip Girl. 

Fall may no longer mean back to school for me, but I think it will always mean back to TV :) thank goodness I have a DVR!

*Also, this is supposedly a record breaking year for shows featuring female leads, as well as shows written by females.  Way to go, ladies!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Weekend Menu

Just got back from Moscow last night and today is my birthday, so the last few days have been a bit of a whirlwind.  I am going to get my budget on lockdown after today, so I should have a few days to rest and relax.  Been spending quite a bit of money and want to save it for some stuff that counts!

In the meantime, here is the menu from my weekend.

Friday (upon arrival in Moscow):
Thai Peanut Chicken Fettucine
Cinnamon Sangria with Mixed Berries and Citrus

Breakfast - Tuna Melt with Fried Egg (breakfast in bed!)
Dinner - Spaghetti Marinara with Garlic Bread
Drinks - Spiced Apple Mojitos and Pina Coladas

Sweet and Spicy Bacon
Baked Eggs

It was a delicious weekend and most of the meals were courtesy of my boyfriend, so many thanks to him.  I was responsible for breakfast on Sunday and the Apply Mojitos, but the rest I just got to sit back and enjoy.  It was phenomenal and so much fun to make it ourselves.

Now my friend is en route as we plot what to make for my birthday dinner tonight.

Also, at work, I was treated to Blueberry Vanilla Cupcakes with Berry Frosting, and Banana Cream Pie.


Thank you everyone for being so sweet to me :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Basque Museum and Cultural Center

The first Thursday of every month in Boise is known as "First Thursday" and different businesses throughout town do different things to celebrate the event.  As far as I can tell, this happens all year, not just in the summer.

September's first Thursday just happened, and you can find a schedule of events through the Downtown Boise Association.  Some places celebrate every month, and some places make guest appearances.  Here is September's schedule:

The event is really awesome because a lot of places that close early during the week stay open extra long.  One place on my list to check out during First Thursday is the Boise Art Museum.  Not only is admission free during this event, but it is open extra late untl 9:00 pm.

You can usually find a variety of free wine tastings as well.

Last week I decided to check out the Basque Museum and Cultural Center. My interest was originally peaked because it is listed in the book, "1,000 Places to See Before You Die: USA and Canada."

It is my understanding that the exhibits change, though I am not sure the frequency.  When I went last week, the exhibit was "Hidden in Plain Sight: The Basques."  It was recently featured in NYC at the Ellis Island National Monument Museum.

Here is the normal fee schedule for the museum:
Adults - $5
Seniors (65+) - $4
Students - $4
Children (6-12) - $3
Children (5 & under) – Free
BMCC Members – Free with membership card
On first Thursdays, entrance is free.
The museum hours make it really difficult for me to make it on a normal week.
Tuesday - Friday: 10:00am to 4:00pm
Saturday: 11:00am to 3:00pm
Sunday, Monday and Holidays: Closed

If you are like I was and have no idea what it means to be Basque -- the Basque country is between Spain and France (I think technically it is part of Spain) and quite small.  The region is 135 miles from north to south, and 115 miles from east to west.

I really loved the museum and as far as museums go, this is as good as any I have been to.  From the outside, the place doesn't look very impressive, but inside it is a hidden gem.  There is a LOT of information to take in, and if you enjoy museums, I would suggest going alone when you have quite a bit of time.  It was fun to go with people, but I like to take it all in and I am a bit slower at exploring than most.  It would be lovely to go on a rainy day, tea latte in hand, and check the whole place out.

I thought the Basque Lauburu was beautiful.  I swear I have seen the emblem before, but never knew what it was related to.

This symbol has been found in the Basque culture dating back to 200 BC! Some say it signifies the four heads or regions of the Basque country. 
My favorite part of the Museum/Cultural Center was the free tour of the Jacobs-Uberuaga boarding house.  This is a little house nestled right on the Basque district.  The attention to detail is phenomenal.  The house used to be a home, and then it became a boarding house for Basque sheepherders.  The front area of the house is restored for how it would have been in the time of the family home, and the back/second story of the house is restored in the style of the boarding house.
The restoration is so impressive that even the wallpaper is a geniune reproduction from scraps of wallpaper that were found left on the wall.  There are hundred year old quilts on the beds in the house.  There are some pieces of actual furniture the Jacobs family had in their own.  It is amazing!
I would definitely recommend checking this out during a First Thursday event, so you can scope it all out for free.  There are no tours on Saturdays, so if you want to see the house (which you should!) and you are a working person, First Thursday is your best bet.  If you are able to go during the week, tours are conducted from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Tues. through Fri. (last full tour at 2:00 p.m.).
I am not positive the First Thursday times for tours...I think they were from 5:00-8:30 maybe...
Overall, I would suggest checking this museum out.  I am not sure how often the exhibits change, but I am looking forward to learning more about the Basque culture.  Go alone if you love museums and want to take your time.  If you go with others, one of you will probably end up bored while the other is engrossed.  No matter what or when, make sure you check out the Jacbos-Uberuaga house!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Reunited with Romaine

I would consider myself a hater of romaine lettuce.  First of all, on the lettuce spectrum, it is not even that good for you, as the darker the leaves, the healthier the lettuce.  Second of all, I think it tastes mostly like water, and third of all it just grosses me out! [There is a caveat that romaine lettuce is required for a proper Caesar salad though]

I think the gross factor can be explained because of the turtles we used to have.  Romaine was the main component of their diet, and I was little and we weren't the best caretakers.  The romaine would get rotten/brown/gross and it was even grosser when it was digested.. . BLEH!

Anyway, I was looking on Orangette and craving a salad because I hadn't had a really good one in forever.  I also didn't want to spend too much money, because I have a friend coming in this weekend and we will probably be spending lots.  That was when I found Summer Romaine Salad with Lime Garlic Dressing.  I would say this has forced me to rethink my snobby stance toward romaine.

To make it, I only had to buy a few ingredients.  The first was romaine lettuce - I went for a giant head of it because it was a great deal for only $.99/head. The stuff in the bag was really pale looking, and the quality of the bunch looked better as well.

I also bought cherry tomatoes, four limes (which were disappointly small at the store), feta and a red onion.

First, you make the dressing.  The recipe calls for three tablespoons and one teaspoon of lime juice, but I just winged it and squeezed in the juice of four limes (which is pretty close to the proper amount).  Before juicing the limes, I roll each one around under my foot to get the juices moving.  It is also an awesome foot massage! I need to get some sort of citrus juicer though, because doing it the old-fashioned way makes a huge mess.

To the lime juice, you add five tablespoons good olive oil (hopefully Costco is considered "good" haha!), a quarter teaspoon minced garlic, and an eighth teaspoon salt.  I omitted the salt.  Then you are supposed to whisk until emulsified -- I shook my little dressing container until it all mixed up.

To make the salad, I first chopped up the lettuce.  Then, slice some cherry tomatoes, and slice the red onion.  I made sure to slice the onion into little slivers because raw onion can be pretty potent.

To assemble, add the tomatoes, onion and feta to the salad and dress.  I also added broccoli and dill to use up some leftover veggies.

This is VERY simple (juicing the limes was as hard as it got) and delicious.  I was a bit wary of using raw onions (especially red, which I find very potent) but with the olive oil/citrus dressing, it wasn't too powerful at all.  The combo of veggies and cheese suited each other very well.

I would caution that if you are not used to olive oil or don't like particularly tangy things, you might not like the dressing as much as you were hoping.  However, I found it refreshing to eat a salad in order to taste the flavors of the salad, instead of eating salad as a means to chow down on some dressing.