Watch Yo’self or Someone Else

Who needs a last minute gift guide for your man? or a general man in your life that you forgot to buy a gift for? Get your watch business on!

Up until about a year ago I hadn’t worn a watch since 4th grade. We’re talking permanent tanline 365 days a year watch wearing dedication. Since I’ve started, that dedication has fired back up again. I feel naked without one and I look like an idiot when I check my nude wrist for the time.

That Casio calculator watch up there is the one that I wear every day. Do I use the calculator? no. I have giant manhand fingers. It happens to be the perfect size and I like the rectangular watch face. Plus the other day at work a nine year old told me it was such a really cool watch. It kind of made my day.

The great thing about these is all of the links are to Amazon so there’s still a little time left to get Amazon Prime shipping, and the prices are considerably lower than if you were to buy them at a brick and mortar store. Also, price: all but 2 of these are under $30, one is under $10!

1. Timex Weekender Watch: $25 – Super classic, perfect for everyday wear, waterproof, and you can easily swap out the straps!? That better be in your shopping cart right now.

2. Casio Calculator Watch: $15 – Like I said above, my everyday go to watch. Good stuff.

3. Timex Reader Watch: $26 – Nice brown leather strap to dress up any outfit, plus there’s a cool little dial thing that tells you the date.

4. Nixon Time Teller: $75 – A bot of a splurge compared to the others, but that neon yellow is extremely exciting. If that color doesn’t melt your butter, there’s a boatload more colors to choose from on Nixon’s site.

5. Nixon Newton Watch: $70 – Another Splurge, another Nixon. But it’s different, and that black and white is so clean looking.

6. Casio Resin Strap Watch: $10 – Just go out right now and buy one as a stocking stuffer for every guy you know. Really simple, and a nice way to edge yourself into the watch realm again.

Cinnamon Roll Adventure Time + the Best Cream Cheese Frosting. Ever.

I have a confession to make: yeast breads freak the hell out of me. I don’t even want to admit the slight anxiety I had while searching for that perfect cinnamon roll recipe. So much rising and butter and kneading involved. What?! three kinds of flour? There’s a weird variance of flour and I don’t know if I’m adding too much, and then if I do it makes the rolls dry and dense?!. I decided to make a couple different recipes, both of which failed, both of which I’m not going to mention because it’s totally possible I did something wrong. Whatevs.

I decided to leave it in the hands of google.

Go ahead and search google for cinnamon rolls. I’ll wait here.

fingers crossed it’s the same result:

Paula Booter an Oyal Deen.

Google told me to make these. And I secretly have a crush on this woman and her magical laugh and her badassness as a business woman.

I looked at the recipe, still unsure, and then I saw she has a video. She made it look like a total walk in the park, without Mose, because he tends to pull on the leash.

I went to it, like Paula to a stick of butter, subbing buttermilk for the milk, because that’s what I had, and conjuring up a chai spice for the insides.

If you follow me on instagram, you know the chai spice was a total fail. The dough however, was not. This excited me. I had almost made cinnamon rolls.

I made another batch the next day, with cinnamon, and pecans for good measure, and took them to a brunch I had with some friends. They were well reviewed, but they seemed a little dry. I realized after making the third batch to show you, that buttermilk is necessary, and you should never eat your cinnamon rolls unless they’re hot. Room temp is a no go. You treat that cinnamon roll with some respect.

The last thing before I break this recipe down for you: MAKE THIS CREAM CHEESE FROSTING.

I know I’ve written about cream cheese frosting before, but this stuff would definitely take any cake if given the opportunity. I got the recipe from Shutterbean when Steve went to make the cake for my birthday. The recipe is originally from godsend Nigella Lawson and I may have had some on graham crackers for breakfast one morning. Or Mose did it. We’ll never know.

This stuff is so incredibly light and fluffy, thanks to heavy cream, but it isn’t as sweet as the traditional milk and powdered sugar icing, so it’s a perfect compliment to the cinnamon rolls. or graham crackers, or strawberries. Is it wrong to just let my face sit in the bowl?

Let’s just make some cinnamon rolls.

Totally Legit Beginner Cinnamon Rolls
Adapted from my girl Paula
Makes 11-12

Dough:
1/4-ounce package yeast
1/2 cup warm water (I use the hottest from my tap)

1/3 c butter
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
4 cups all-purpose flour

Filling:
1/3 cup melted butter (possibly browned?)
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/2 c pecans (totally optional but also totally not)

first thing first, let’s get some water. I use the hottest from my tap and it works perfect, but you want to make sure it’s between 105-115F. If the temp thing freaks you out, then just roll with the hottest tap water, it’s always worked for me.
Now take that 1/2 c of water and mix a packet of NOT INSTANT yeast. This needs to bloom for about 5 min.
While this is happening, melt the butter down in a small saucepan. Add your buttermilk. This cools the butter down a bit and warms up the buttermilk at the same time.
Now, in a very large bowl combine the sugar, salt, and the egg. Add the butter/buttermilk mixture.
With a wooden spoon, mix in 2 c of the flour until it comes together. Add the yeast “slurry” and mix. Add the final 2 c and stir until wooden spoon isn’t doing it’s job anymore.
Lose the spoon and use your hands to continue mixing until all the flour is incorporated. This dough will be sticky. DO NOT ADD MORE FLOUR. Knead the dough with your hands for a couple more minutes. Place in bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rest in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1-1 1/2 hours.
Once it’s doubled, make the filling by combining the butter, sugar, and cinnamon. Roll out, or press, the dough until it’s roughly 9″x15″. I use a cutting board about that size to help out with this.
Spread the filling mixture evenly over the dough, leaving about 1/2″ uncovered on one of the long edges, this will make sure the rolls seal up. Evenly disperse those pecans now.
Carefully roll up the dough, long edge to long edge so you have a roll that’s roughly 15″ long when you’re finished.
Grease a 9×13″ pan.
To cut the rolls, unsquished, follow the best explanation I could find: Deb from Smitten Kitchen: “With a sharp serrated knife, using absolutely no pressure whatsoever (only the weight of the blade should land on the dough) gently saw your log with a back-forth motion into approximately 1-inch sections.” (Make sure you trim the edges first to get some clean rolls.)
Place these, as you cut them, in your prepared pan. They should fit loosely in 4 rows of 3. That’s it. You’ve assembled the rolls. Boom. Take out your cream cheese to soften, and let the rolls rest, loosely covered, for about 45 min.
Go do some punchdancing to prepare for the caloric intake of these cinnamon rolls.
About 30 min into it, preheat your oven to 350F.
Bake the rolls, uncovered, for 20-30 min. or until lightly golden brown on top. I go for 25 min.
Once the rolls are done and cooling, make the frosting:
The Best Cream Cheese Frosting. Ever.
Adapted from Shutterbean
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 c powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 c heavy cream
1/2 t vanilla
The only disclaimer I have for this frosting is that you need either a stand mixer or some sort of electric mixer whisk thing. Besides that it’s heavenly and delicious and amazing.

With the whisk attachement of a stand mixer or electric beater, whip together the cream cheese and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Slowly incorporate the heavy cream and vanilla then bust to high speed until the frosting is once again light and fluffy. Serve on everything.

2012 Gift Guide: The Foodie

I’ve been MIA for a while, taking care of last minute school projects for the semester and finals and work work work, but break is almost here. Like I could fall down a flight of stairs showgirls status and by the time I made it to the floor break would have started and it would be christmas eve.

WHERE HAS THIS YEAR GONE?!

For the break, I have an incredibly easy beginners cinnamon roll to share with you and I want to get a little holiday crafting in to share some DIY’s. It’s gonna happen.

Until then, I have a little gift guide for you. An affordable gift guide, from food bloggers that know what they’re talking about.

Everyone does the gift guide business, but I wanted to take that frugal approach. Because I’m a poor college student. I don’t have anyone that needs/wants a $250 octopus shaped cake stand or a $500 dish rack. I don’t run or slow jog in those circles.

I sent out a call to action to some of my favorite food bloggers and gave them their Oprah moment so they could inform us about their favorite gifts and what they might be gifting this year. Calm down, nobody’s getting a car.

Everything is under $30, a couple things are under $10, and I’d like to get all of it for christmas.

Let’s do this.

Megan‘s Picks:

1. Writeable Cheese Markers: $22 – Cheese and crackers are a necessity at every get together! And these markers make it super easy to label the different types in a hip way. I know I’d love to receive these this Christmas!

2. I love you like biscuits and gravy tea towel: $8 – I can’t get enough tea towels in my life. They’re perfect for topping cooling bread or dough or just to hang on the front of your oven accessory-style. So show your favorite baking-friend some love with this tea towel valentine.
3. Ash Wood Cutting Board: $20 – I have one of these and find it perfect to use for a cake plate, cheese board, or even a centerpiece. Maybe buy this for a friend, top it with a cake, and surprise them with the board too!
Cindy‘s Picks:
4. Forged Iron Utility Shears: $16 – I love super practical things with nice aesthetics, like these shears–not only would it make me happy to cut things with these, they can double as photo props…bonus points.

5. Artisan Mini Salt Cellar: $10-$12 – I cook a lot and a salt shaker just doesn’t do it for me, these little cellars are adorable AND perfect for pinching salt.


6. Mint Striped Mixing Bowl: $10 – I love a good mixing bowl. This one is super cute AND super cheap, at just under $10, you could get a couple of small accessory gifts to go with it (measuring spoons, rubber spatulas, and whisks would be perfect)!

Sara‘s Pick

7. Takeya Glass Water Bottle: $18 – I am a practical person and I like giving practical gifts that I believe in. The amount of waste we go through with plastic water bottles is ridiculous, unsustainable and research is showing it’s not great for your health either. This year I am making eco-friendly baskets with Baggu recyclable grocery bags, this water bottle and a homemade treat for some family members. This water bottle is durable, easy to clean and anyone could use it!

Noelle‘s Picks

8. Lunchskins: $9-$12 – For fanatical snack packers. They’re reusable and dishwasher safe, with illustrations to remind you of what happens when you get hungry. They also make fun gift wrap – my almost-relative Alex gave me one last Christmas with homemade gingerbread inside.


9. What to Eat Pad by Knock Knock: $6.50 – Makes meal planning almost too much fun. The fridge and you will look like responsible young adults with good taste in food. Don’t forget to fill in the breakfast section.

My Picks
10. Oxo Cookie Scoop: $14 – I believe in giving foodies gifts they might not gift themselves because they think the price is too high for something they won’t use too often. This happened to me when I bought this cookie scoop a couple years ago. The quality is awesome and I’ve used it for everything from scooping ice cream to making the perfect size cookie or even meatball.
11. Stand Mixer Beater Blade: $20 – This one is actually on my legit wish list. It has great reviews and would help me with that inevitable chunk of something at the bottom of the bowl. Just make sure the paddle matches the bowl size. Casually bring up bowl size in a conversation about chocolate chip cookies or whipped cream.
12. Bib Apron with Pockets: $13 – This apron is a true classic, and the number one apron seller on Amazon. So, Amazon knows what’s up. The print is perfect for a guy or girl, it’s a great stocking stuffer, and it’s going to keep all the flour off them when they go to make you some cookies for giving them that new mixer paddle. 

Instagram Quickie: Buttermilk Syrup

I made pancakes on Saturday.

Whaaat? Surpriiise?! (said sarcastically with my hands in the air, maybe a wink)

I mainly made said pancakes because of some buttermilk syrup I saw on Melissa Esplin’s blog.
It looked like caramel. and I was allowed to have it on pancakes. and I kind of want to try it on some ice cream.

It tastes a little like caramel and is an A+ option for your next breakfast. It makes a couple cups worth and making your own syrup is impressive so it’s perfect for a larger crowd. cough, thanksgiving, what?

Let me tell you something: Real legit maple syrup is pricey. The fake stuff is too when you think about what goes in there: sugar, water, and a little maple flavoring. My badass grandma’s been making her own “maple syrup” for years now and it’s delicious.

She also cans her own tuna and makes the best green salads. Gurl knows what’s up.

Do everyone a favor and make this ever so slightly tangy syrup that you might want to bathe in but you can’t because it would be inappropriate to take your clothes off at breakfast and you can’t fit your whole body in that measuring cup.

Buttermilk Syrup
Adapted from this recipe
Makes about 2 1/2 cups

1 1/2 c buttermilk
1 c brown sugar
1 c white sugar
1/4 c butter
hefty pinch of salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla

In a large saucepan or pot combine everything except the salt, baking soda, and vanilla.

Bring to a boil, whisking a few times to make sure everything is combined.

Remove from heat and in your large pot whisk in the salt, baking soda, and vanilla. This is where the large saucepan or pot is important. This stuff fizzles up. Whisk a little more until the fizzle bidness goes down and pour into a measuring cup or a maybe a gravy boat if you want to get fancy.

T-DAY 2012

Hey everyone, It’s almost Thanksgiving.

Like, just a week away.

Cue Final Countdown.

Cue Friends Thanksgiving above. I redid the invites from last year, and only re-invited Kristen Wiig. I know usually people say that if they could invite anyone to dinner it would be Jesus or Abraham Lincoln or maybe a Jesus Lincoln Hybrid? I just don’t have that kind of self control.

The guests that were invited this year include, L to R:

  • Rebel Wilson who I constantly mix up with Rumor Willis who really needs to be my best friend that I can Skype all the time and just look at her serving up unisex realness in that 90s flannel.
  • Mario Lopez, because, well, he’s Mario Lopez. #teamslaterforlife.
  • Kristen Wiig, again. She decided to wear the same blouse but it’s okay, I still love her.
  • Kelly Cutrone, mainly because she doesn’t care about anyone’s opinion and I might have almost watched the entire season of Kell on Earth in one sitting don’t judge.
  • Lastly, Rachel Zoe, minus Roger because he creeps the hell out of me. She’ll be wearing something fabulous and let’s face it, probably only eat a cranberry or something fake from a centerpiece so that means more food for me. plus I do a really good Rachel Zoe Impression and I need to get her opinion.

I’m not prepared, but am totally taking the whole “don’t be a crazy bitchface because it’s just Thanksgiving” thing full force.

Just in case you’re curious, here’s a link to what last year’s Thanksgiving consisted of. And some pumpkin cheesecake. And a photoshop explosion.

chicken: Food52 // green bean casserole: Hungry Girl por Vida // rolls: Bon Apetit // pie: Joy the Baker

I’ve definitely started a pinterest board for dinner inspirations. Because I’m always so organized. Not.

I’ve also definitely decided to ditch the turkey. I’ve decided I don’t like the texture of turkey, especially the day afterwards, no matter how not dry it cooks up. There’s just something about it too that’s sort of gamey if you don’t buy the right bird.

I’m opting for a couple roast chickens. They’re cheaper, there’s no thawing issues ever, I can probably  prep and cook one with my eyes closed, the leftovers are awesome, no gameyness, and you can cook it even faster.

If you think I’m being too sacrilegious, calm down. Here’s a way to cook up a fierce turkey for your familia. I totally understand if you fear someone will hit you for not cooking up a giant bird.

Or be an extra sneaky trickster and cook up the chicken and break it down, present it beautifully, and tell everyone you bought pygmy turkeys.

Win/Win.

Win.

The Easiest Pot of Beans. Ever.

And they taste fantastic too.

Above is seriously one of the easiest dinners you could make this week. or ever.

The beans involve just two ingredients, if you don’t count the seasonings, and take just a couple of hours on the stove (no soaking)! Anything you don’t eat in the first couple of meals, you can make into refried beans for another meal, or freeze for later.

When I was a kid in the rural town of Coarsegold, just below Yosemite, Pinto Beans were a common fare at our house. Plain and simple, usually hit or miss with taste. If the power went out we knew we were having beans for dinner that were cooked in a pot on top of the wood stove. I make it seem like I lived in the boonies somewhere, but we had a couple neighbors. And deer. And coyotes. And mountain lions.

I honestly haven’t made a pot of pinto beans since living at home.

The need to find a recipe to make a pot of pinto beans came up when my mom had this conversation with me on the phone:

Mom: Do you guys need us to bring anything up when we visit?
Me: I don’t think so, just that photo from your photo album that you probably don’t want because the head is awkwardly chopped off.
Mom: (as she’s laughing) Why do you want that picture?
Me: I don’t know I have a thing for those types of pictures. In a non creepy way.
Mom: Okay. Well I’ll bring up all my photo albums because I don’t know which photo you’re talking about. I’ll set it next to those IKEA table legs and some supplies for your sewing machine. If I brought you guys up some Pinto Beans would you eat them?
Me: I guess, are they dried?
Mom: Yeah, I bought a 25 lb bag at Costco last time we were up there.
Me: Why did you buy a 25 lb bag of pinto beans?
Mom: I thought they were a good deal.
Me: That makes total sense.
Mom: So I took the bag and portioned it into gallon size ziploc bags, I think there’s about 4 lbs in each bag. Do you want one or two bags?
Me: Please only bring one.

Moms; You gotta love ‘em.
I seriously really love mine.
And her Pinto Bean buying abilities.

Back to the easiest pot of beans: I found the recipe after a google search brought up Ree Drummond aka Pioneer Woman, who can do no wrong. I read through the beautifully written post and then was baffled at the fact there was only two ingredients and no soaking? This has to be sacrilegious, right? Is someone hiding in one of my cupboards to watch me cook the beans and then Punk me after the 2 hours of cooking to only tell me they’re nasty and I’m a fool?

Ashton Kutcher you are not allowed in my kitchen.

I went for it though. Beans and bacon, in a pot for 2 hours. I threw in the seasonings and then was punched in the face by the simplicity of these beans, and how these beans, with a bunch of toppings could be an awesome dinner for a small group of people. I chose to eat them with some crumbled cotija cheese over top with cornbread, and a couple days later enjoy some avocado on them.

But the toppings are endless: (treat it like a bowl of chili) Sour cream, greek yogurt, almost any kind of cheese, chorizo, Sriracha, jalapenos, etc. These beans really are a blank canvas for anything, including hot dogs that Steve wanted to mix in. Because that’s how he had them as a kid.

And lastly, before I give you the recipe: There are a lot of cornbread recipes out there. A lot of them involve a hot cast iron skillet. I have yet to buy one of those. I found an old recipe I used to make as a kid for beans like this, off the Alber’s cornmeal box. One of my sister’s friends told me it was the best cornbread she ever had. So, there you go.

Easiest Pot of Beans. Ever.
Recipe sliiiightly adapted from The Pioneer Woman
makes a lot

4 c pinto beans
5 slices nice thick cut bacon (just under half a lb)
1 t salt
1 t pepper
1 t onion powder
1 t garlic powder

Place beans in a colander and rinse under cold water and sort out any small stones or deformed beans that might have made their way into your 25 bag.

Put in a large stockpot or dutch oven and top with water to cover 2-3 inches. 12 cups did the trick for me.

Once the water’s in there, stir the beans and watch for the ones that float to the top. These are gross shriveled beans that won’t help out the flavor train at all so grab them out. It might take a few turns to do this, and should only be a couple of Tablespoons.

Turn the heat on medium heat and slice up the bacon. Add it to the pot.

Bring the beans to a boil, uncovered, then reduce to a simmer, put a lid on it and cook for 2 hours. DO NOT season before cooking.

After the 2 hours is up, throw in all the seasonings and season further if needed. I used pepper bacon so I lowered the pepper Ree used for her beans, so you might need more.

Serve with a variety of toppings to make even more delicious.

Super Easy Cornbread
from the Alber’s cornmeal box
makes an 8×8″ pan
*can double recipe for 9×13″

1 c yellow cornmeal
1 c AP flour
1/4 c white sugar
1 T baking powder
1 t salt
1 c milk (I used 1%)
1/3 c oil
1 egg
Optional Add-ins*

Preheat oven to 400, grease an 8×8″ (or 9×13″ if doubling)

Whisk all the dry ingredients in one bowl. In a large measuring cup, measure out the milk and add all the wet ingredients, mix to combine, then add to dry ingredients.

Mix to just combine, fold in optional add-ins if using and put into prepared baking dish and bake for 18-22 min until sides are pulling away from the dish and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

*Optional Add-ins: Just like the beans, this a blank canvas that’s great by itself but also with some additions, try about a cup of sharp cheddar, a minced jalapeno, some green onions, or some chorizo.

Pizza to Pasta

I have a real life confession: sometimes I don’t want pizza.

I promise I’m feeling okay. It’s just that sometimes I want a big ol’ bowl of pasta. maybe with garlic bread.

aka Carb City.

I had this idea a while back, that’s really not that revolutionary, where I wanted a bowl of pasta but didn’t have a clue what to put with it. Then it hit me: put my favorite pizza combo with it.

Let me break it down for you:

Pesto – your favorite kind will do but the cilantro cotija is preeeetty delicious.

Sausage – Specifically 1 lb breakfast sausage. I know it might sound weird but just trust me on this. Spicy breakfast sausage has this awesome flavor mashup with pizza toppings or this bowl of pasta. It’s what I’ve always had in my spaghetti since I was a kid. And a plus – I’m working on a little DIY version to use with any meat and cut down on preservatives.

And lastly, a half to a whole pound of mushrooms – roasted. Have you had roasted mushrooms before? mmhmmm, sliced, a little olive oil, s&p, 425 in an oven for 15-20 min until they’ve browned a bit and are crazy delicious.

The dinner comes together in about 30 min too, just put the pot of water on, throw your mushrooms in the oven, brown the sausage, and while that’s browning make the pesto. BOOM. Dinner time.

What other combos are there? Sausage, red sauce, peppers and mushrooms for a combo pizza? is it too sacrelig to put pepperoni or salami into pasta? What about pasta to pizza? Lemme hear ‘em!