Saturday, May 23, 2015

A Two Course Crepe Lunch

Crepes are absolutely delicious. That is a fact that no one can dispute. Unfortunately, places McDonalds and Subway just have not caught on to the crepe trend. Who wants to eat a nasty burger or sandwich made out of questionable meat when you can have a crepe? Fear not, I now present you with a fast and easy way to make a two course meal of crepes that is sure to satisfy. This crepe recipe makes two crepes- the perfect amount for you to make a sweet crepe and a savory crepe, creating a wonderful meal. The fillings are sure to impress. Bacon and cheese? Yes, please! Strawberries, chocolate, and Nutella? I know I have you drooling.

Single Serving Crepes
makes 2
For the batter:
½ cup flour
pinch of salt
1 egg yolk
¼ cup milk
¼ cup water
1 tbsp melted butter
½ tsp sugar

Bacon, Cheese, and Spinach Filling:
4 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
½ cup shredded mixed cheese (mozzarella, parmesan, asiago, romano, fontina, provolone, or any combination of these)
¼ cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

Strawberry Nutella Filling:
3 strawberries, chopped
2 tbsp milk chocolate chips
1 tbsp mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, plus more for topping
2 tbsp Nutella
powdered sugar, to top

Add all the ingredients for the batter except for the sugar together into a blender. Blend until everything is well incorporated and there are no lumps. Allow the batter to sit for 20 minutes at room temperature. Preheat a large skilled brushed with oil over medium-high heat. Add half of the batter to the pan, swirling it around to create a thin crepe. Cook until the top is dried and the bottom is golden. Flip and add the savory toppings onto one half of the crepe. Fold the top half over and slide the crepe onto your plate. Remove the pan from the heat and enjoy your meal. Once finished, whisk the sugar into the remaining crepe batter. Reheat the pan over medium-high and cook the sweet crepe the same way you made the savory one. Spread the Nutella onto one half of the crepe. Top with the chocolate chips and strawberries. Fold the crepe in half and top it with additional mini chocolate chips and powdered sugar.




Thursday, May 21, 2015

A Journey to the Land Down Under

You could call Australia the "Land Down Under", but one look at an Australian map of the world would change your view on things very quickly (both literally and figuratively). Located in Oceania and historically inhabited by Aboriginals who spoke over 250 distinct languages for thousands of years, Australia was later found by the Dutch and taken over by the English. Prisoners were sent to the island-continent to serve for crimes like debt, forgery, theft, and other petty crimes. Over 20% of modern-day Australians descended from these convicts. After WW2, Australia saw another surge in its population when about 5.9 million immigrants began moving to the nation. Today about 25% of Australians were born abroad. The major countries of emigration are the UK, New Zealand, India, China, and Vietnam. Australia's culture reflects a lot of Western influence as well as factors brought by Asian immigrants and inherited from their Aboriginal predecessors. | DSC_0896[1]

The cuisine of Australia is a mixture of western and native cuisines. Recently, there has been a push towards going back to Aboriginal roots and embracing historic foods like kangaroo, emu, crocodile, quandong, kutjera, muntries, riberry, Davidson's plum, and finger lime along with other bush tucker. British elements like meat pies, roasts, and fish and chips are also common mainstays. Australia has also made a cuisine of its own with the infamous barbeque and Vegemite. Back when I cooked Australia for breakfast, bush bread and damper were two delicious breads that I cooked. They were pretty economical, but Australian main meals can be expensive here in the US. (Even the wannabe Australian restaurant Outback has high prices.) I looked up Kangaroo meat and was met by a $75 price tag that did not include shipping. Shrimp is not cheap here in landlocked Ohio, and lamb is not within my price range either. Thankfully I found some authentic Australian recipes that did not break the bank but still stayed true to representing the "Land Down Under". (Or "Up Above" according to an Australian.) | d6b9bf0b600593584998a04007c41b5b

The iconic Aussie meat pie is a classic football and rugby-watching meal. The Australian brand Four'N'Twenty produces 50,000 of the handheld pies an hour. Similar to the British steak pie, Aussie meat pies are made up of a pie crust topped with a puff pastry and filled with ground beef, onion, and seasonings.

Meat Pies
makes 8-9
For the filling:
1 ¼ pounds lean ground beef
1 onion, finely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
pinch of nutmeg
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup water
2 tbsp flour

For the crust:
1 puff pastry shell
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
4 tbsp cold butter, cut into little cubes
5 ounces cold water
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp. water

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and oil 8-9 holes of a muffin pan. To make the filling, heat a large pan over medium high heat. Add the onions, meat, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, nutmeg, and tomato paste. Cook until the meat is browned, breaking it up into tiny pieces. Add 3/4 cup of the water to the pan, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 25 minutes. Mix the flour with the remaining 1/4 cup water. Stir this mixture into the beef once it is done simmering. Remove the pan from the heat and allow it to sit for five minutes to allow it to thicken.

Meanwhile, make the pie crust. Combine the flour and salt in a bowl. Cut in the butter and mix until little pebbles form. (Do not over mix!) Add the 5 ounces of cold water and mix until just combined. Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

To assemble, roll the pie crust out to be 1/4" thick. Press it into the prepared muffin tin. Scoop in the filling until it reaches the top of the pie crust. Cut out the puff pastry into circles that fit on top of the muffin holes. (I used a biscuit cutter.) Wet the edges of the pie crust and press on the puff pastry. Brush the tops with a mixture of the egg yolk and 2 tbsp. of water. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden. Serve with mushy peas and ketchup.

Mushy peas are another British import to Australia. They are the perfect meat pie accompaniment and add a little color to a bland plate.
Mushy Peas
1 pound frozen green peas
3 tbsp water
salt and pepper, to taste
butter, to serve

Bring the peas and water to a boil in a pot. Cook for 5 minutes. Puree the peas in a blender, season to taste, and add butter as desired.


Rissoles are traditionally a French dish of a fried or baked croquette. The Australian version is more like a hamburger and is cooked in a pan on top of the stove.
makes 8-9
1 ¼ pounds lean ground beef
1 onion, finely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 egg
½ cup bread crumbs
flour, as needed
oil, as needed

Mix together the first six ingredients with your hands. Form the mixture into patties. Toss them with flour until they are finely coated. Heat a fine layer of oil in a pan over medium high heat. Cook each patty for about 3 minutes per side, adjusting the heat of the pan and adding more oil as needed.

According to Wikipedia, "dark brown Australian food paste made from leftover brewers' yeast extract with various vegetable and spice additives developed by Cyril P. Callister in Melbourne, Victoria, in 1922". This definition does not really make Vegemite appeal to me, but I guess some people around the world would be horrified by my beloved peanut butter. Kraft Foods currently owns the spread.

Vegemite Toast
toasted bread

Butter the slices of toast and spread a very (very) thin layer of Vegemite over the top. Trust me, a little goes a long way.


I wanted to cook Australia while I was home because the meat pies contain tomato paste (which I cannot eat), my dad sent me Vegemite so I wanted him to have to try it with me, and it seemed like a menu that everyone in my family would enjoy. Two minutes into our meal Carson’s declaration of “I don’t like it, I don’t like it, I DON’T LIKE IT!” pretty much summed up everyone’s thoughts about Aussie food. I should have chopped the onion up finer in the rissoles. That’s why no one liked them. Dad called them welfare burgers. Sydney compared them to poorly made Krystal burgers. The mushy peas were not very appealing to my super picky family. Harper thought they were edible, but declined seconds. Vegemite is awful, y’all. We all tried it at once and spit it out in unison. It tastes like salty fermented yeast which is basically what it is. Surprisingly my dad actually liked it. He is so weird. The meat pies were the only thing that had decent reviews. Dad ate all the filling out of them and agreed to take the leftovers to work tomorrow. Syd ate all of hers and said it tasted like Manwich. (I have no idea where she tried Manwich. My mom would never allow something so processed in her kitchen.) Harper and my mom said they were ok. I, unlike my family, really enjoyed the Australian meal. I could not eat the meat pies because of the tomatoes. I probably wouldn’t like them because I always seem to have the opposite taste buds from the rest of my family. The rissoles were amazing. I ate 5 of them. (Yes, skinny little me ate 5 burgers. Don’t judge.) The mushy peas were good too. Vegemite doesn’t count because no one in their right mind could like something so horrendous unless they had been raised eating it like the Australians. The fact that my dad liked it reflects a lot about his mental health. Overall, we decided that you cannot expect Australian food to taste like Outback. After all my work, my mom had to grill hotdogs for everyone so they didn’t have to go to bed hungry. Oh well, at least they tried it.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Happy Retirement

The last card idea that I posted was an owl graduation card. I thought it would be appropriate to make my next card post come from the opposite side of the spectrum. That's right, tonight's card theme is retirement!

Motorhome Retirement Card

This cute motorhome card is the perfect way to start off the retired season of life. What other point in your life do you have the time and money to be able to continuously vacation with no school, children, or work responsibilities? I hope this card can serve to kick off a great retirement.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Brunch on a Bun

The Bob was the specialty at my old work place, the Lexington Inn, or the Lex for short. Last Monday was my last day working with my coworkers at the Lex. My school is getting a new dining service, so the days of the Lex are over. Likewise, so are the days of being able to order a Bob for dinner. What is a Bob exactly? Bob stands for "Brunch on a Bun". This monster of a burger consists of a patty, two slices of cheese, a fried egg, bacon, and a grilled tomato. Even though the Lex is gone, I wanted to allow the Bob to live on. Here is a recipe for the sandwich with the addition of avocado to make it even better.

The Bob

The Bob
serves 4
For the burger patties:
4 slices of bacon
1 pound 85% ground beef
2 eggs          
2 ounces shredded pepper jack cheese
dash of cayenne pepper powder
salt and pepper, to taste

To assemble:
8 slices of bacon
4 ounces shredded pepper jack cheese
4 thick slices of tomato
1 avocado, peeled and sliced
4 double yolked eggs (or 4 normal eggs and four egg yolks)
4 burger buns, buttered and toasted

To make the patties, chop up 4 slices of bacon and mix it in with the ground beef, eggs, cheese, and seasonings. Stir with your hands until just mixed and divide it into 4 patties. Pat the patties into rounds about the size of your buns and set aside.

Cook the remaining slices of bacon in a large skillet until nice and browned. Remove the bacon to a paper towel lined plate to drain, reserving the oil in the pan. Cook the patties individually in a tablespoon of the reserved grease over medium high heat for about 5 minutes per side, or until your desired doneness. Top each with a tablespoon or two of the remaining cheese a couple of minutes before you remove it from the pan so that the cheese can melt on to it. Meanwhile fry the eggs and grill the tomatoes slices for about a minute per side in the remaining bacon grease. Lay the burgers on the bottom of the buns and top with a tomato slice, a fried egg, two slices of bacon, and a few slices of avocado. Top the bun off and enjoy!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Chocolate Covered Strawberries in Cake Form!

Chocolate coated strawberries are heavenly. Strawberries dipped in Greek yogurt are delicious. Chocolate Greek yogurt is guiltlessly sinful. And cake is just the bomb. How do all of these things tie together? The following recipe for a chocolate cake with a strawberry- Greek yogurt swirl will solve (almost) all problems in life and provide one of the best treats around.

Chocolate Cake with a Strawberry-Greek Yogurt Swirl


Chocolate Cake with a Strawberry-Greek Yogurt Swirl
1 ½ cups cocoa powder
2 cups rolled oats, blended into a flour
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup applesauce
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
½ cup strawberry jelly

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and spray a 12” cake pan with oil. Mix all the dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, applesauce, and buttermilk. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, mixing until there are no more lumps. Spread the batter out evenly in your pan. Whisk together the yogurt and jelly. Drop spoonfuls of the mixture around the top of the cake and swirl in with a knife. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cake to sit for 10 minutes before slicing into it.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

A Gift of Wisdom

With so many college graduations going on (my school's was this weekend) and high school graduations just around the corner, I thought it was about time to post a graduation card idea. This cute little owl would inspire any grad to seek wisdom and work hard wherever their future takes them. Good luck class of 2015. You are going to do great things!
Owl Graduation Card

Friday, May 15, 2015

A Peanut Butter Lover's Dream

I wanted to squeeze in one more country before the end of the semester. Since Zimbabwe is the last country on my alphabetical list of every nation on earth (plus some disputed ones), I thought it was a great choice to wrap up the last week of school. Since it is exam week, forgive me if I cut anything a little short. I’ll try to give Zimbabwe all the credit it deserves without encroaching on my precious study hours. (Whose idea was it to take 18 hours anyway? That just means more exams!)


Situated in between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers, Zimbabwe is a southern African nation
with a population of 13 million speaking 16 official languages. You can say that Zimbabwe (formerly called Rhodesia under the control of the British South Africa Company) is a pretty diverse place. Most of the people of are Bantu origin. The Shona are the largest ethnic Bantu group making up 70% of the population. The Ndebele people make up about 20%. They are the descendants of Zulu immigrants from the 1800s. Although Zimbabwe’s history has been rough and their current government is still working out the kinks, their culture continues to endure and evolve as time goes on. The beautiful Shona carvings of birds, humans, stools, baskets, and other items are famous for being made out of a single piece of wood or stone. The stone carved bird is their national symbol and can be found on their flag. Zimbabwe also has their own version of the Boy Scouts. Their Boy Scout troops started in 1909, and they celebrate the skills of carving, tracking, leadership field-craft, and self-reliance.


Zimbabwe has British and Boer influences, but the majority of the cuisine is mainly African. Sadza and rice are the staples, and peanuts are a favorite flavoring ingredient. The Zimbabweans can mix peanut butter into just about any dish and make it taste spectacular. I was a big fan. Enjoy the following very peanut-filled (or groundnuts as the Zimbabweans call them) recipes!
This ceremonial feast dish is a chicken and peanut butter stew served on special occasions. Meat is a luxury amongst the poor of Zimbabwe, so this dish is a real treat. To get the true Zimbabwean feel, serve it out of a communal dish and eat it with you right hand. (Sorry lefties. :)  ) | DSC_0837[1]
Huku ne Dovi
2 onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green chili pepper, chopped
1 tbsp oil
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1 green bell pepper, diced
¼ tsp cayenne pepper powder
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 ½ cups water
¼ cup peanut butter
salt and pepper, to taste     

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, and chili pepper. Sauté for about 8 minutes until the onion is tender. Add the chicken, bell pepper, and carrots to the pan. Continue to sauté until the chicken is browned all over but not cooked through. Season with cayenne pepper powder and mash the tomatoes into the stew. Add the water, bring to a simmer, and cook uncovered for 15 minutes. Stir in the peanut butter, cook for another 10 to 15 minutes until almost all of the moisture has evaporated, and season to taste.



A dish of cooked greens with peanut butter often accompanies a stew and staple grain on the Zimbabwean table. “Muboora” is the word for pumpkin leaves, but I substituted spinach.  

Muboora ne Dovi
1-10 ounce bag frozen pumpkin leaves or spinach, thawed
¼ cup peanut butter
salt and pepper, to taste
3 tbsp water

Heat the water in a skillet over medium heat. Add the spinach and cook thoroughly, draining off any excess moisture. Stir in the peanut butter, cook for another 2 minutes, and season to taste. | DSC_0832[1]
Although sadza is the typical Zimbabwean staple, I found a lot of recipes and talk of a peanut butter rice dish called mupunga ne dovi. Since I already made sadza when I cooked Tanzania for breakfast and my meal was already very peanut buttery, I decided to go all-out and include the peanut butter rice dish. I do not regret it!

Mupunga ne Dovi
1 cup brown rice, rinsed
1 ½ cups water
¼ cup peanut butter
salt, to taste

Bring the rice and water to a boil in a pot with a lid. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and continue to cook for about 20 minutes, or until the water has been absorbed and the rice is cooked. Stir in the peanut butter and salt to taste, cover the pot, and allow to sit for 5 minutes.


Did you catch the theme of this meal? Dovi, dovi, dovi…. What does “dovi” even mean? Peanut butter! Since I am a peanut butter girl, a peanut butter themed meal was a success in the making. Thankfully, Zimbabwe did not fail me. The spicy chicken stew was amazing. (I used a very spicy chili pepper since the recipe was not very specific. If you want a less spicy dish, use a milder chili.) The taste of the peanut butter was not over powerful, but gave it an amazing depth of flavor. My dislike of spinach has completely been eradicated throughout this journey around the world. Peanut butter spinach is the bomb. Even though rice really isn’t my thing due to the sticky texture and bland taste, the peanut butter rice was pretty good.