Wednesday, February 24, 2010

everything's better with bacon!

likewise, everything's better with a little smoked paprika!
oh yes.

Monday, February 22, 2010

my new best friend

there's someone I'd like you to meet.
you've met him before, but perhaps not like this.
he's even better this time around and you will quite possibly love him.
here's the deal with picky eaters:
chances are you don't like something because all you've known is a badly prepared vegetable.
most of us don't like green beans because all we've ever known is the greenish-yellowish, limp tubes sitting on the corner of our lunch trays at school.
most of us don't like mushrooms because all we've ever known is that unindentifiable goopy, gray sludge out of a cream of mushroom soup can.
in order for food to be loved, it needs to be treated with love.
try tasting a perfectly seared mushroom with a good sprinkle of salt and then telling me you don't like it.
or a caramelized brussel sprout. or a sauteed, bright green, crisp green bean.
so let's talk broccoli.

here's a vegetable that, unless smothered in cheese, is disliked by almost everybody.
including me.
but broccoli can truly be delicious if just given the chance.
take a big head of broccoli and hack away until you get little florets.
and please do not throw away the stems. they give remarkable flavor to soups.
spread the florets out on a sheet tray.
olive oil (you don't need much). salt. pepper. maybe even garlic powder if you're feeling wild and frisky.
roast it. roast it for about 20 minutes at 400degrees.
the edges will get dark and crisp and irresistably delicious.
right at the 20 minutes, take out the tray and sprinkle on some grated parmesan cheese. throw it back in the oven for about a minute more.
the cheese will melt and give the broccoli and even crispier outer coating, along with another layer of salt.
plate it up with, say, a vegetable rice pilaf and some breaded chicken cutlets, and I think you've got yourself an absolutely perfect tuesday night dinner.

so say hello to broccoli, your new best friend.

though I must confess: no matter how you cook em, I just loathe peas.

Friday, February 19, 2010

oh good fortune!

thank you, fortune cookie. thank you.

Monday, February 15, 2010


valentine's day has come and gone.
after the card exchanges

and the horrible, exhausting day at work,
I stumbled in at around 1:30am, showered, jumped into my favorite purple whale pajamas, and sat down to an incredibly delicious meal.

the beef was tender and flavorful, the puff pastry was light, crisp, flaky, the duxelle was savory, rich, robust, the mashed potatoes were fluffy (he does make the best...), the green beans still had a bite and the bacon and almonds just added on to the flavor, and I was a happy, happy girl.
along with lovely red roses. in a pitcher I found at TJMaxx for $5 that I just could not resist.

I knew I married him for a reason...)
Dessert was a rather dry (sorry to say) chocolate cupcake from Stork's that I co-worker so thoughtfully got for me.
Either way, I fell into bed with a full, happy that (almost) made me pay no mind to my achy, sore muscles.
Or the fact that the $10 gift limit was slightly bent. But that's ok. Rules were made to be broken, no?
Sigh. Swoon.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

elusive healthy dinners

newlywed natalia would like to get back to healthy eating and healthy cooking and grab hold of that seemingly oh-so-unattainable six pack (of abs).
instead I just get lazy.
and hubby gets lazy.
and the last thing we want to bother with after a late, long day is cooking.
because at this moment, yes, our fridge is full of stuff, but nothing that really makes much sense.
about 20 beers left over from the super bowl, half of a coconut cream pie, and some salsa.
so instead we opt for the dinner cop-out.

we need a good kick in the ass, I know.
I know..
but it was good if that counts for anything.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

the fake fendi

I've got a little confession to make.
these chocolate-caramel-oatmeal bars are a total knockoff.

christmas baking, 2009.
a coworker brought in a famous batch of her mother's cookie bars loaded with oatmeal, peanut butter, chocolate chips, caramel. the works.
and they were all the rage.
so I just had to try one for myself...only to realize, they were all right. it was gooey and creamy and crunchy and just plain amazing.
like that delicious cookie at the cookie swap that everybody can't stop talking about, can't get enough of.
and so I begged for the recipe.
and begged and begged.
and nothing.
until betty crocker came to the rescue, that is.
a similar recipe just happened to pop up one day and I wondered "hmm...this could be it.".
it had the feel of a homey, down-to-earth, no fuss, no frills kind of recipe.
betty crocker could be it!
it's not.
at all.
but that's ok, because just like that knockoff purse, it fills the least a little bit.
and it's not like these aren't totally delicious either, because they are.
I adapted the recipe a bit because the original had a thin layer of gooey caramel running through the middle. along with chocolate chips tucked perfectly in.
warm right out of the oven with a glass of ice cold can't go wrong.
besides, to those who never had the original and don't know the difference, these are authentically delicious.

Betty Crocker's Peanut Butter Chocolate Jumble Bars
adapted from Betty Crocker

1 pouch Betty Crocker peanut butter cookie mix
1/3 c butter, softened
1 egg
1 c quick-cooking oats
1/2 c chocolate chips
about 25-30 caramels, melted

1. Preheat oven to 375degreesF.
2. Make dough by blending cookie mix, butter, egg, and oats. Reserve one cup of dough.
3. Press remainder of dough onto the bottom of a 9x9 pan. Spread caramel over and the sprinkle chocolate chips on top.
4. Press remaining dough on top of caramel-chocolate chip mixture. Make sure to cover caramel as best as you can or else it may burn in the oven if really exposed.
5. Bake about 15-20 minutes. It may take longer but I seem to have Super Oven.

These are truly delicious warm, but I also can't help but gobble them up after they've sat in the fridge a couple of hours to firm up. Either way, a total treat.
Thanks, Betty!