Thursday, October 30, 2014

More Pumpkin Love

I still have a ton of pumpkin recipes to share, and fall is slipping by quickly. I need to get moving before pumpkin season is over and everyone is all about gingerbread and candy cane treats. These pumpkin muffins are a twist off the delicious chocolate pumpkin combination. Carob powder replaces cocoa powder for a different, but still amazing, switch up from the usual. Enjoy!

Carob Pumpkin Muffins (6)
Carob Pumpkin Muffins
makes 16
1 ¾ cups rolled oats
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ cup carob powder
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 cup Greek yogurt
¼ cup oil
2 eggs
2 cups canned pumpkin

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, and oil a muffin pan. Blend the oats into a flour using a high speed blender. Mix the flour, oat flour, carob, sugar, salt, and baking powder together. Whisk together the milk, eggs, pumpkin, and yogurt in a separate bowl. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, stirring until just mixed. Divide the batter between the prepared muffin pans. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the muffins sit for 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Eastern European Comfort Food

The relatively young country of Belarus is squeezed in between the five countries of Russia, the Ukraine, Latvia, Poland, and Lithuania. This is my first Eastern European dinner and an introduction into the meat and potato (or just potato in Belarus's case) diet of the region. It used the be owned by Russia during its communist period, and you can still see socialism reflected in the economy. Over half of the people are employed by the government, and most companies are state run.

When researching Belarusian food, all I kept coming up with was soup and their national dish of potato pancakes called draniki. I already made draniki back when I did my breakfasts around the world project, so I did not want to repeat it. I consulted one of my friends who is a mk (missionary kid) from Belarus, and he confirmed that draniki makes up the typical Belarusian's diet. The people are pretty poor, so meat is not often served. It's a pretty cold country, so soup is another staple dish. I found a great solution for my draniki dilemma when I discovered a similar dish called kolduny. It is basically just draniki stuffed with mushrooms. Paired with a warm mushroom soup, this meal is perfect cold weather comfort food suitable for any Belarusian winter night.

Draniki's stuffed cousin kolduny takes the same method of making the potato pancakes, adding a filling and extra layer before flipping. They are typically served with dill and sour cream.
For the potato pancakes:
2 large potatoes (about 1 ½ pounds), peeled
½ an onion
1 egg
salt and pepper, to taste
oil, for frying

For the filling:
4 ounces chopped porcini mushrooms, either fresh or rehydrated in water
½ cup chopped onion
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tbsp oil

oil, for frying
sour cream and dill, to serve

To make the filling, heat a pan with a tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add the onions and onion, season to taste, and cook until the onion is tender. Set it aside to cool.

To make the pancakes, grate the potato and onion into a large bowl. Toss in some salt, wait a few minutes, and drain out the excess water. Whisk in the egg.

Heat a skillet over medium heat with about ¼” of oil in it. Drop in tablespoonfuls of the potato mixture, top with some of the filling, and press another tablespoonful of the potato mixture on top. Cook both sides until golden brown. Drain off the excess oil on paper towels and hold the finished pancakes in a warm oven until serving. Continue this process with the rest of the potatoes and filling. Serve with dill and sour cream.




 Wheat does not grow in Belarus very well because of the cold, so grains like barley and millet. This soup features the latter grain in a delicious mushroom broth.

¼ cup millet, soaked overnight
2 cups broth (use the liquid leftover from soaking the mushrooms if you are using dried mushrooms)
1 turnip, peeled and diced
1 onion, diced
½ a carrot, diced
4 ounces chopped porcini mushrooms, either fresh or rehydrated in water
1 tbsp oil
½ cup sour cream
salt and pepper, to taste

Bring the millet and broth to a boil in a small pot. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for an hour. Meanwhile, chop up all the vegetables and heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Sautee the vegetables until the onion is tender. Add the vegetable mixture to the simmering broth, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Stir in the sour cream, season to taste, and remove the pot from the heat.

Since I am not much of a fan of potatoes, I was ready for the worst in this meal. I think that because I prepared myself, it turned out to not be all that bad. I did find out that I like turnips from the soup. I found it a little ironic that in Belarus they use a lot of mushrooms to replace meat because meat is too expensive. Here in the states a serving of meat is a lot cheaper than quality mushrooms. With all the vegetables and stuff that went into this meal, it turned out to be a little on the expensive side. (Well, more expensive than ramen and popcorn.) It's so interesting that something that is true in one part of the world is the complete opposite in another.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Hidden Message Butterfly Card

The shutter opening and closing method has been one of my favorite card techniques as of late. It's just so cool to pull apart the two sides of the card to make the message appear and disappear.

Here is the shutter method applied to a butterfly themed birthday card. The polka dots bring a fun and lighthearted mood to the card.

And the sliding message just puts it over the top. Enjoy! I know your creations will be just as fun to make and give!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Chocolate Magic Shell

We're having a heat wave here in Tennessee, and I am loving it. It's the perfect opportunity to whip up some hot weather treats like ice cream. I have shared tons of ice cream recipes, but have not shared many topping ideas. Tonight I have a simple pourable, chocolaty topping. It's so easy to make that, with the right three ingredients, you could whip it up in less than a minute. It's chocolate magic shell! Way better than any science experiment bottled kind that you can buy, mine works perfectly poured over cold ice cream so it can harden into its chocolate amazingness.

chocolate magic shell (1)
Chocolate Magic Shell
serves 1
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp cocoa powder

Combine the oil and sugar in a small microwave safe bowl. Microwave until the oil has melted. Whisk in the cocoa powder and pour over your desired ice cream.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A New Culinary Encounter

The uniquely shaped Myanmar is situated in Southeast Asia.  You might know it by its former name of Burma. The English name for the country of the Burmese has been up for debate, and it has gone from being called the Union of Burma to the Union of Myanmar, and finally the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. A lot of this confusion probably stems from the fact that the Burmese have two different names for their country used in two different contexts. "Myanma" is the written name and "Bama" is the spoken form. How cool is that! As a linguist, I find this very intriguing.
Let's leave behind all caution and run full out into some delicious Burmese cuisine. Be prepared to use a variety of unconventional and somewhat scary ingredients like the ever present fish sauce loved by the people of Myanmar. The cuisine is influenced by other Asian countries like India, China, and Thailand as well as the religious practices. Although most of the people are Buddhist, there is a significant Muslim population who do not eat pork as well as the Hindu population that does not eat beef. A vegetarian salad and a chicken curry are the way to go. Everyone can eat it no matter their religion, and both dishes display the diverse melting pot that the region's cuisine has to offer.

The word "thoke" means salad in Burmese, but do not think this recipe will give you your typical western style salad. Frsh ginger matchsticks, fried beans and lentils, and cabbage are all doused in a healthy serving of fish sauce. It is definitely not a dish for a super picky fish hater like me, but surprisingly I found it to not be all that bad. I think it had to do with the fried topping that I loved so much. I did have to pick out the ginger because I discovered that I cannot stand the stuff raw. It is so spicy!
Gin Thoke
1 thumb fresh ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
4 cups shredded napa cabbage
¼ cup dry lentils, soaked for 12 hours in water
¼ cup dry chickpeas, soaked for 12 hours in water
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp chickpea flour
1-2 tbsp fish sauce, as needed
1-2 tbsp peanut oil, as needed plus more for frying
1 lime, juiced
2 tbsp crushed peanuts
lime slices, to garnish

Pat the soaked lentils and chickpeas dry. Heat some peanut oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the lentils, chickpeas, sesame seeds, and garlic. Fry until golden. Remove the fried goodies from the pan, clean it out, and then heat it back over medium heat. Toss in the chickpea flour and toast for a minute until aromatic and golden. Allow everything to cool. Toss the ginger, cabbage, lentil and chickpeas mixture, chickpea flour, lime juice, fish sauce, and peanut oil together. Add more oil or fish sauce to taste. Garnish with lime slices and crushed peanuts. Refrigerate for an hour before serving.

Ohn no khao swè is a very popular chicken and noodle curry that is cooked down in a sauce of coconut milk and topped with a variety of ingredients. I found it to be pleasantly filling; a perfect cold weather comfort food. Don't worry if you're not a fan of fish sauce, it does more to add saltiness to the curry than flavor.

Ohn No Khao Swè
¾ pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1” peeled fresh ginger, minced
1 shallot, sliced
2 tbsp chickpea flour
½ cup water
1 ½ cups chicken broth
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground paprika
1 cup canned coconut milk
2 tsp fish sauce
8 ounces spaghetti noodles
lime slices
1 boiled egg per person, peeled and sliced

Heat a pan to medium heat and brown the chicken thighs, about 1 minute per side. Remove the thighs to a plate, pour some oil into the pan, and cook the onion, garlic, and ginger for about 10 minutes, until the onion is tender and translucent. In a food processor, process the onion mixture until it is finely minced. Add it back to the pan along with the shallot, paprika, and turmeric. Whisk in the chickpea flour mixture, and simmer for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, bring the chicken broth and chicken thighs to a boil in a pot. Stir in the onion spice mixture, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the instructions on the box. Remove the chicken from the pot, shred it up, and discard the fat. Add the coconut milk, fish sauce, and chicken to the pot. Simmer for 10 minutes. Toss the noodles in the pot, remove it from the heat, and serve topped with lime slices and the boiled egg.

Myanmar probably was not the best decision to cook after working all day. The recipes were a little time consuming, I was exhausted and starving, and some of the ingredients I bought were just not quite right. (Burmese food is not exactly top of my western Tennessee Kroger’s stock list.) Needless to say, after three hours of cooking, I was finally able to enjoy my Burmese feast at 11 o’clock at night. I'm pretty sure that just about anything would have tasted good at that point. I did enjoy my Burmese meal. The fish sauce was a little fishy, but everything else was pretty good. It was not my favorite, but it was far from the worst thing I've ever eaten. And now I can say I've had something with fish sauce and enjoyed it!

Friday, October 24, 2014

A Flowery Greeting

This is another card meant to brighten up somebody's day. It's just so fun to give someone a card randomly and then watch their face light up in delight.

This card will hopefully make the recipient even more enchanted because pulling the ribbon at the top transforms the card into something amazing. The flower pops up and the message is revealed.
Who are you going to surprise today?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Way Better than a Benedict

What happens when you take a traditional eggs benedict and put a south of the border twist to it? I was curious to find out, so my brain went into creative mode. (My dad likes to call these types of thoughts and the resulting dishes concoctions. I've been dreaming them up since I was a kid, but they have thankfully evolved from their ketchup mixed with ranch stages.) What I devised is far from your traditional benedict, and far better if you ask me or my roommate. (She was in awe.) I replaced the hollandaise sauce with a little avocado crema, the base was a cheddar scone instead of an English muffin, and the eggs were scrambled with veggies instead of poached. The result was divine.


South of the Border Benedict
serves 1
1 cheddar scone (recipe follows), split in half
1/2 a ripe avocado
1/4 cup shredded cheese (I used a mozzarella/ cheddar/ parmesan blend)
1/4 cup diced jalapenos, onions, and bell peppers
2 eggs
3 tbsp. heavy whipping cream cream
2 slices of ham
salt and pepper, to taste
oil, as needed

Cut two slivers off of the avocado, and then mash the rest of it with 2 tablespoons of the cream. Spread this over each of the scone halves. Heat 1/4 an inch of oil in a small skillet over medium high heat. Cook the ham until each side is lightly browned, flipping over once to cook for about 45-60 seconds per side. Pour out all but 1 tablespoon of oil from the pan and reduce the heat to medium. Whisk together the eggs, 1 tbsp. of cream, salt and pepper, veggies, and cheese. Pour the mixture into the pan. Once the eggs have set, scramble them up and cook until they are done. Top the avocado crema with first the ham, then the eggs, and finally the slices of avocados to serve.

You can choose to make the benedict, or just eat this scone plain. It's the perfect portion for just one and is simply delicious. One of my flakiest scones yet.
Single Serving Savory Cheddar Scone
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
dash of salt
2 tbsp shredded cheddar cheese
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp heavy whipping cream

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Cut the butter into cubes, and mix it into the dry ingredients with a fork. Once the dough is crumbly, add in the cream mixture along with the cheese. Mix until just combined. Roll the dough out 1” thick on a lightly floured surface, and put it on a small baking stone. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the bottom is slightly browned. Allow the scone to rest for 5 minutes before removing it from the pan.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Flavors of Belize

Tonight I explored the rich culinary traditions of the little Central American country of Belize. The official language is English, surprisingly, as Spanish dominates the surrounding countries. This is easier to understand when you consider that Belize is under the common law of the united kingdom, and their monarch is Queen Elizabeth. Most of the population can speak Spanish (56%) as well as English (63%) and Creole (44%). You can thank Belize for gum as it was first cultivated there and called chicle. They have awesome toucans, the lowest population density in Central America, and the largest cave system in Central America. With all of this in only 8,867 square miles, Belize is a country jam packed with awesomeness.

The culinary scene of Belize is broken down into three main categories: the food of the mestizos and Mayas, the food of the Kriols (the descendants of African slaves), and the food of the Garifunas (the descendants of the native Arawaks and free Africans). The indigenous Mayans are known for their tortillas, tamales, and caldo. The Garifunas like to make a complicated bread out of cassava and use a lot of plantains. My dinner tonight was mostly Kriol inspired. The Kriols have a diverse and varied diet consisting of many native veggies, beans, rice, chicken and fish. Coleslaw, bile up (made of pig's feet), and rice and beans are some of their specialties.

A traditional lunch time meal often served in homes and restaurants across Belize, stew chicken is what is sounds like- chicken stew. The red recado paste used to flavor the dish gives it a nice red hue with pops of green from the pepper. It's a very interesting combination.
Stew Chicken
1 pound chicken thighs
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
red recado (recipe follows)
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tbsp oil

Heat the oil over medium heat in a pot. Add the chicken and brown each side for about a minute per side. Remove the chicken from the pot and add the garlic, onion, and pepper. Cook until the onion is translucent. Add the chicken back to the pan, and pour in enough water to almost cover the chicken. Bring to a boil and then simmer uncovered for 35-40 minutes.

Red recado is a paste made primarily out of ground annatto, and can be used to flavor meats, fish, poultry, or veggies. It was traditionally a Mayan seasoning mixture that is popular in the Yucatán area of Mexico and in Belize. Be careful with this stuff. It turns everything it touches red. (Including all your dish rags.)
Red Recado
2 tbsp ground annatto
½ tbsp. ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried minced garlic
¼ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground pepper
1 tbsp vinegar
3-4 tbsp orange juice

Mix all the dry seasonings together and then stir in the vinegar and orange juice.
Don't get this Belizean staple of rice and beans mixed up with their also popular beans and rice. Unlike the latter mentioned dish which is made by separately cooking rice and a special type of stewed beans and then combining them, rice and beans is a one pot side for a meat dish. Often times coconut milk is added in to make the rice and beans super creamy, an addition that I loved.
Belizean Rice and Beans
1 cup rice
2 cups cooked red kidney beans
1/3 cup coconut milk
1 cup water
½ onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp thyme (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste
Bring the water to a boil and with the beans, onions, and garlic. Add the coconut milk and rice, cover and simmer for 40 minutes, or until the rice is tender and the water is absorbed. Let the pot sit with the lid on it for 5 minutes before serving. Season to taste.
My Belizean dinner was not quite up to par with Aruba or South Africa, but it was far from inedible. I think my main issue was with the flavor of the annatto. I just was not a fan. This was especially disappointing since I wasted a bunch of time looking for it at the grocery store, didn't find it and had to order it off Amazon, and spent $5 for two tablespoons of it. Aside from that disheartening factor of the meal, the chicken was very tender, and the rice and beans were flavorful and delicious.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

An Unusual Oatmeal Combination

I am all for a nice big bowl of steamy oatmeal on a cold day. Even though they are delicious, I sometimes like to shake up my standard peanut butter and banana or chocolate oats. This slightly unusual combination of ricotta and apricot preserves yields a thick, creamy, and delicious bowl of oatmeal.


Apricot- Ricotta Oatmeal
1 cup quick cooking oats
2 cups water
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
2-3 tbsp. apricot preserves
honey, to taste

Toast the oats in a small pot over medium heat until they are lightly browned. Add the water, bring to a boil, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the oats have reaches your desired consistency. Stir in the ricotta and any desired honey, and then swirl the preserves around on top.

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Card for a Rainy Day

Here's a card to bring a little sunshine to someone who is having a rainy day. It's always nice to have a couple of these on hand to give to a friend who is going through a tough time. Just letting them now you care really can mean the difference.


I used a stamp to make the rainbow, colored it in, cut it out, and made it the top of my card. The sentiment folds up to reveal the inside section of the card that you can write on. A button holds the top in place.

pistachio doughnuts (1)


Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Unique Way to Use Masa

I love to make homemade corn tortillas, but the masa harina comes in a huge pack. I was curious to try the lime treated corn flour out on other recipes, and thus these pancakes were born.


The masa makes super fluffy pancakes, and anything with buttermilk is deliciously soft and airy. The oddest ingredients often make the most surprisingly delicious dishes.




Masa Harina Pancakes
makes 12
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup masa harina
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp. sugar
2 cups buttermilk
2 tbsp. oil
2 eggs

Mix together  the flour, masa, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar. In another bowl, whisk the wet ingredients. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, mixing until there are no more lumps. Spray a nonstick skillet with oil and heat it over medium heat. Once the oil sizzles, pour 1/4 cup of the batter at a time into the skillet. Cook each side for about a minute, until golden brown.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Summer Meets Fall

The last few (and not quite as tasty) peaches are leaving the market, and the first pecans are just showing up. It is the perfect time to make some spiced peach pecan muffins! It's not too hot too bake, not too far in to the hectic holiday season, and everyone likes a good muffin.

spiced peach pecan muffins (10)
Spiced Peach Pecan Muffins
makes 16
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 cups oat flour (or rolled oats blended into a fine powder)
¼ cup cornmeal
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
½ cup sugar
3 ripe bananas
1 cup Greek yogurt
2 eggs
¼ cup milk
3 peaches, peeled and diced
1 cup chopped pecans
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and oil a muffin pan. Mix the flours, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together. In a blender, blend the bananas, yogurt, eggs, and milk until creamy. Mix the wet and dry ingredients, stirring in the peaches. Divide the batter between the muffin holes. Top each muffin with a tablespoon of chopped pecans. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the muffins cool for 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

spiced peach pecan muffins (8)
These muffins are food for my Georgian soul. Fresh pecans right off the tree and peaches just picked that morning are two of things I miss most about my home state. These muffins help to fill the hole GA left in my heart.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Chicken Pesto Naan Pizza

Chicken + Naan + Pesto= One of the best pizzas ever!

Pesto and chicken are a natural combination for luxury pizza. Pesto is a nice replacement for the traditional tomato sauce, and chicken adds a nice touch paired with a trio of cheeses. Using a naan bread for the crust puts an untraditional twist to it. You can follow the link to make homemade naan  (which is especially delicious), or buy the store brand (not quite as good, but easier) for a quick, tasty supper. It's like the Indian and Italian fusion pizza that will captivate you at first bite.

chicken pesto naan pizza (2)
Chicken Pesto Naan Pizza
1 naan flatbread
3-4 tbsp basil pesto
½ cup shredded mozzarella
¼ cup shredded parmesan
1 cooked chicken breast, diced
¼ cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed
Preheat your broiler. Spray oil lightly over the top and bottom of the naan. Cover the side with bubbles with the pesto and sprinkle on the cheese. Evenly spread the spinach and chicken evenly over the center. Place the naan on a broiler safe pan and cook on the top rack of your oven for 1-2 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Cheesy Goodness!

"Aruba, Jamaica, ooh I wanna take ya!"

My dad sang that the entire month before he took my mom to Aruba. They came back with sun tans, t-shirts, and stories of amazing massages and beautiful beaches. One aspect they neglected to mention was the delicious food!

In case you didn't know, Aruba is an island located in the Caribbean. It's part of the Netherlands Antilles, and is a Dutch colony. The two languages most commonly spoken are Dutch and Papiamento, the latter being a creole language native to the ABC islands of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao. The food of all three counties share similar characteristics.


The word "keshi" is the Papiamento rendition of the Dutch word for cheese: "kaas". This extremely cheesy pie-like substance. It actually originated with the Dutch slaves who would stuff hollowed out cheese rounds with random scraps, bake or steam it, and go into a cheesy coma. (Alright, maybe not the last part, but just about.) I had my doubts as always, but it turned out delicious!

Keshi Yena
serves 3-4
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cooked and shredded
1 green bell pepper, choppe1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 habanero pepper, seeded and chopped
¼ cup raisins
½ cup cashew pieces
½ cup water
2 tbsp oil
8 ounces Gouda cheese, thinly sliced

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and oil two ramekins or a small baking dish. Line the bottoms and sides of the ramekins with the cheese slices, completely covering them. Heat a skillet over medium heat and cook the onion, bell peppers, and habanero for 10 minutes until the onions are translucent. Add the water, chicken, cashews, and raisins; and cook until the water has evaporated. Carefully place the filling inside the cheese crust, top with the remaining slices of cheese, and bake for 30 minutes. Turn on the broiler and cook for 1-2 minutes until the cheese is nicely browned.


Pan bati is a side dish pancake that the Arubans often eat with soup or stews. I loves to sop up the melty cheese with the pan bati, and I thought they went great together. Who said that pancakes were breakfast food?

Pan Bati
makes about 10
1 cup flour
½ cup cornmeal
½ tbsp. baking powder
dash of salt
1 tsp sugar
1 cup water
1 egg
6 tbsp milk

Mix together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg and milk. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, stirring in enough water to make a pancake batter-like consistency. Oil a skillet and heat it over medium heat. Cook a few tablespoons of the batter at a time. Flip the bread over once bubbles start to form on top, cooking each side until lightly browned.
Cornmeal griddle bread and cheese crusted pie equals deliciousness all around. Aruba did not disappoint! I wish I could have cooked it for my family to see if they had tried anything like it in Aruba. My dad would have probably died because he hates cheese, but my mom and sisters could have joined me in the gooey paradise. Yum!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Curried Cauliflower Soup

Today it was freezing. Ugh, I dread the winter. Everyone was bundled up in class, and I think they may have even turned on the heat. It's especially bad since only a couple of days ago it was super hot outside. One thing that makes the winter bearable is the knowledge that it's soup season. It's so nice to snuggle up with a warm bowl of soup and enjoy blasting the heat. This curried cauliflower soup will especially warm you up with its aromatic blend of spices. It is literally hot in both senses! I will never be scared of the cold with a mighty bowl of soup like this on my side.

curried cauliflower soup (3)
Curried Cauliflower Soup
serves 1
1-12 ounce bag of frozen cauliflower
1 cup chicken broth
¾ cup canned coconut milk
1 tsp curry powder
cashews, to garnish
In a microwave safe bowl with the lid, combine the cauliflower and broth. Microwave for 8 minutes. Pour the cauliflower, broth, coconut milk, and curry powder into a blender. Blend until creamy. Garnish your bowl of soup with cashews to serve.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Fall Break Cards

Well, fall break is over, and I did not get half of the stuff that I needed to get done done. I did have a wonderful time cooking with my one roommate who stayed behind with me, knocked out half of my 8 paged Spanish paper, got some reading done, and was able to have a friend over to make cards. A fun and productive break all around. It went by way too fast.

This card is great for using up scraps. I think it is a super fun design for birthday cards, but, with the right paper, it could be used for anything. I used my birthday stack of cardstock cut out into triangles to create the fun design.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The most expensive ice cream you will ever make

My roommate and I have been talking about making some ice cream together since the beginning of the semester. Ice cream making is quite a long process (frozen yogurt is way faster), so I promised her we could do it over fall break. I know October is a little late in the season for ice cream, but it's a great time to find deals on candy. The particular candy bar we used for this ice cream must be amazing because it claims to be worth 100 Grand. All I can tell you is that it sure tastes like it. And luckily for us broke college kids, it doesn't cost quite that much. (Although a few bucks feels like a fortune when you're working minimum wage.)



100 Grand Ice Cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
¼ tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 egg yolks
6- 100 Grand fun-size candy bars, chopped into small pieces

Place the sugar, salt, milk, and cream in a medium pot. Heat to a simmer over medium heat, stirring often. Whisk the egg yolks together with 1 cup of the milk and cream mixture. Pour this into the pot and stir over medium heat until the custard reaches 170 degrees. Remove from the heat.

Pour the custard through a fine mesh sieve and refrigerate in a sealed container for 5 hours.

Whisk the vanilla extract into the custard. Using an ice cream maker (mine is from Cuisinart), pour the cooled cream and egg mixture into the frozen ice cream maker’s attachment bowl. Let the machine run for 20 minutes. Once the ice cream has all come together, sprinkle the chopped up candy bars in while the machine is running.

Put the ice cream in a sealed container. Freeze for 3 hours before serving. Thaw it a little on the counter before scooping out and serving.

Friday, October 10, 2014

A quick go-to pasta recipes to feed the masses

Pasta is a favorite go-to dinner when you have nothing else planned. Crazy nights with too many things going on than you can possibly keep track of are meant for big bowls of comforting pasta to keep you fueled. This recipe for some delicious and beautiful spinach and cherry tomato penne is made out of ingredients that you probably already have in your fridge. Cheap, quick, and last minute this healthy and delicious bowl of carbs and veggies was loved by everyone I shared it with. I promise you that after the first time you make it, it will become a planned meal for your supper rotations.

Spinach and Cherry Tomato Pasta
Spinach and Cherry Tomato Pasta
1- 16 oz box dry penne pasta
1- 10 oz box chopped frozen spinach, thawed
1 cup cherry tomatoes
3 tbsp olive oil
½ cup Italian dressing
½ cup shredded parmesan cheese, plus more for topping

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the box. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium- high heat. Add in the spinach and cherry tomatoes. Cook covered, stirring occasionally until the spinach is wilted and the tomatoes burst. Stir in the pasta, cheese, and Italian dressing until the cheese melts and everything is all stirred up. Serve topped with additional parmesan cheese.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

More Pumpkin Love!!

I wanted to stretch out my chain of fall themed posts one day longer to include these delicious chocolate chip pumpkin pancakes. Pancakes make a nice weekend breakfast any time of year, but the nice scent of fall aromas make these pancakes so much better. If pumpkin and chocolate are not your typical flavor combo, that needs to change now.
Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Pancakes (3)

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Pancakes
Makes 10 pancakes
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup oat flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup maple syrup
1 cup pumpkin puree (from a can)
½ cup milk
2 eggs
½ cup chocolate chips

Mix together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and milk. Add the pumpkin and maple syrup. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, stirring in the chocolate chips. Preheat a large pancake pan over medium heat. Drop a few tablespoons of the batter at a time on the pan. Cook for about 3 minutes per side or until golden brown.
Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Pancakes (1)


Just look at how thick they are! Melt in your mouth chocolate and yummy pumpkin lead to a tummy full of yummy!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A South Korean Rice Bowl

I was a little intimidated for my South Korean meal. They are known for intricate meals with a ton of different side dishes, or banchan. Tonight's meal sure did have a lot of components, but I found them to not be very complicated. Simplicity was key, and everything came together to make a delicious bowl of Korea.

Korean cuisine is dominated by kimchi and rice, two staples served at every meal. My dad has been t South Korea for work a few times, and he loves it. Unlike their very communist northern neighbor, the South Koreans are part of a republic. My dad was shocked by the amount of Christians there were. East Asian countries are not typically known for being believers. When my dad looked out of his hotel window at night, he said he could see churches lit up everywhere. This is an encouraging light in the mostly dark area of the world Korea is in. Maybe that's why South Korea has the highest emigration rate in the world. The Koreans are also very smart. They have the highest average IQ in the world, the most sophisticated IT infrastructure, and many leading automobile companies are from South Korea. The Koreans are pretty cool.

I have a friend here on campus who is from South Korea. She gave me a couple of suggestions as to what I should try out for my Korean meal. She recommended kimbap (Korea's version of sushi), bibimbap ("mixed rice" with egg and chili pepper paste), and bulgolgi (Korean barbeque). I followed my friend's suggestions by making the bulgolgi and a form of bibimbap called heotjesbap. It made for one great meal.


The difference between bibimbap and heotjesabap is that the latter does not have gochujang (chili pepper paste). Instead soy sauce is used to season it. Since my Kroger down here in TN lacks a lot of international foods (the reason I did not have any kimchi), I had to opt to make the heotjesabap. Don't let the long name or long list of steps required to make it scare you away. All the namul, or sautéed vegetable sides are piled on top of a bed of rice along with some meat, a fried egg, and your toppings of choice.


All the ingredients are stirred together right before eating, making a flavorful and filling meal.


serves 6
6 cups cooked rice
2 medium zucchini, cut into strips
1- 12 ounce package frozen cut spinach, thawed
¼ cup minced garlic
1-14 ounce can of mung bean sprouts
2 carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
8 ounces shitake mushrooms
dak bulgolgi (recipe follows)
¼ cup sesame oil
6 fried eggs
2 green onions, sliced (white and green parts)
toasted sesame seeds, to serve
soy sauce, to serve

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Drain and rinse the mung bean sprouts, and add them to the boiling water. Cook for 4 minutes, drain, and toss with 1 tablespoon each of sesame oil and garlic, the white parts of the green onion, and sesame seeds. Allow the sprouts to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon of sesame oil over medium heat along with 1 tablespoon of garlic. Add the zucchini and cook until both sides are nice and golden, about 5 minutes per side. Top with sesame seeds. Repeat this exact same process with both the spinach and mushrooms.

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the carrots and cook for 2 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.

To assemble, give everyone a cup of rice. Top with the various veggies and the dak bulgolgi. Finish it off with the fried egg, sesame seeds, green onion, and soy sauce to taste.



Bulgolgi is the typical Korean barbeque meal that everyone seems to love. I understand why This stuff is delicious! I made dak bulgolgi, the chicken version.

Dak Bulgolgi
makes 3 large servings or 6 side servings
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1” cubes
6 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sesame oil
3 tbsp. honey
½ tbsp vinegar
3 cloves of garlic, minced
¼ tsp ground ginger
1 tsp sesame seeds, toasted
3 tbsp sliced green onion

Whisk together the honey, soy sauce, garlic, vinegar, ginger, and sesame oil. Coat the chicken with this mixture and refrigerate for 2 hours. Heat a pan over medium high heat. Add the chicken, cooking each side for a couple of minutes until it is completely done. Serve topped with the sesame seeds and green onion.


Once again, I learned with South Korea that spinach is a favorite among many cultures all around the world. I thought I didn't like spinach, but I haven't had it cooked away that I did not like since I started. Maybe I should give the green stuff a second chance.


Another country down, another great meal. Unfortunately I did not get to try any kimchi to make my meal even more authentic, but I did love the Korean barbeque and rice bowl. All the side dishes produced a lot of dishes, but that's my only complaint. I loved South Korea!