I don’t wanna TACO ’bout it… except that I do :)

IMG_73831

So this post was supposed to be done on Sunday, but unfortunately I, unlike Max, am:

  1. Not super organized with respect to this blog. Or life, really.
  2. Apparently quite disposed to losing drafts. It’s already happened twice, and this is only my second post on here…
  3. Bad at publishing. And keeping pictures in.

I’M SORRY.

Now that that’s over with, what I really wanted to talk to you about was my intense love of summer (in honor of the recent solstice). Summer sunshine, the faint scent of honeysuckle on summer breezes, the fact that it’s suddenly okay to eat ice cream at any time of day for any meal, the lack of classes (and the stress that comes with them), shorts and sundresses and sandals, playing with things like water guns and bubbles, more festivals, picnics, cooking outside, the lush green of deciduous tree leaves, the pervasiveness of some of the best fruits… the list really goes on forever, so I’ll just stop there and save you my rambling. Basically, summer is THE BEST.

In terms of food, what I really love about summer is the freshness things tend to have. Growing up, my family had a vegetable garden, so I equate summer with beautiful juicy tomatoes, plenty of zucchini (mostly finding its way into delicious breads), various types of salad leaves, beans, and luscious blackberries and raspberries. Thus, to really celebrate the start of summer, I wanted to make something that captured that freshness. For some reason, in my mind that immediately equated to summer tacos, something I previously had just about zero experience with. Surely, this couldn’t be too hard…

Recipe of choice: Fried Summer Squash Tacos with a Charred Corn Salsa from A Cozy Kitchen, found here.

These tacos are everything I wanted them to be; fresh yet substantial, and just bursting with flavor. Basically, they’re composed of 3 parts:

THE TORTILLA:
Courtesy of Trader Joe’s, because I was NOT making tortillas. I chose the little ones because I like mini things.

THE SUMMER SQUASH BATONS:

IMG_7374
Honestly, I was skeptical of these at first. A vegetarian taco? My thoughts in a word? “Ehhhh…” I very nearly substituted chicken for these but then for the sake of remaining true to the recipe didn’t. The verdict? THANK GOD I DIDN’T. These are so yummy, and definitely substantial enough to carry the tacos. I chose to bake instead of fry them, but because the corn IMG_7364(more about this soon) was taking so long, my oven was occupied. As a result, I attempted to fry some of them… until I realized that my entire room was filled with smoke, and I was in danger of setting off the building’s fire alarm. After that I opened a couple of windows and stuck to using the oven. They still were as crispy and yummy as any deep-fried fries you might find. Since we had so many (I didn’t exactly strictly follow the recipe with regard to amounts…) my roommates enjoyed eating some of them with ketchup as fries. Also, squash is now my favorite thing to cut; it provides just the right amount of resistance and yet cuts like butter.

CHARRED CORN SALSA:

IMG_7372
THIS IS MY FAVORITE PART OF THE ENTIRE MEAL. The flavors combine perfectly: the sweetness and slight smokiness of charred corn, the kick of jalapeño, the freshness and acidity of the lime juice, all mixed together with red onions, ricotta salata (which I subbed for the unfindable queso fresco), and cilantro. Granted, this was also the most IMG_7371time-consuming part of the meal, simply because I lack a grill or gas stove or any other sort of similar fire source. I tried to char the corn using the oven, but even after nearly an hour of cooking (when it had clearly cooked and even begun shriveling), it was no closer to browning. Finally, I gave up on the conventional oven (mostly because I needed to cook the squash batons), and threw the corn into the toaster oven on high for a few minutes, when it finally charred a little. Still, all that grief was worth it when it all came together.

SO?
I would definitely make this again (maybe even just the individual components), though I’d take into consideration the time commitment and probably find a different way to char the corn.

My ratings!
Dishliciousness: 8/10
Recipe difficulty: 5/10 (It wasn’t that difficult, except maybe actually frying the squash batons…)
Overall experience: 3.5 Connie heads out of 5! I spent much of the time cooking panicking because I didn’t realize how much time everything would take, but I really enjoyed the outcome.

IMG_7384

Taco: AHHH I’M FALLING.
Lime slice: “I will never let you fall/ I’ll stand up with you forever…~”

Morning After – Complimentary!

IMG_7331 copy

So I woke up this morning with a lot of leftovers from my first recipe and decided to bring some to work for lunch! To add a twist, I cut up an avocado and threw on some more pomegranate seeds to make the dish more of a summer daytime meal. I love how the complimentary colors (hey whut art theory!) make the dish so vibrant. It definitely hit the spot!

So basically:

1) Reheat pasta

2) Slice avocado in half, remove pit, slice lengthwise and scoop out with spoon.

3) Salt and pepper avocado to taste

4) Throw on more pomegranate seeds (really this recipe is unnecessary, I covered everything above ^ )

5) Yum!

IMG_7333

Nibbles! CHOCOLATE SQUARED

IMG_7328 copy

Hey y’all!

I’m definitely not Southern. I don’t even think I’ve been to the South (besides a family trip to Florida and another to Texas). So I’m not quite sure why I used “y’all”. But hey, apparently modern English is the only Indo-European language with just one form of the word “you”, so maybe we need an informal version!

In any case, it’s Connie (just in case you couldn’t tell it wasn’t Max by the excessive babbling), and this is my very first post on this blog! I’m currently typing this with very red-stained (not blood, don’t worry) hands from Max’s beets earlier.

This past Tuesday, it was one of my good friend (and current roommate)’s birthdays, and so Monday night I whipped up some chocolate cupcakes to surprise her (quick shout-out to Mama-I-Am! Love you girl <3). With little over an hour before midnight, I decided to give it my best shot and make everything from scratch.

Recipes used:

  • Chocolate Cupcake Recipe – The Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake Test Baked by 50 Bakers and Counting, found at Cupcake Project here
  • My Favorite Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe, also found at Cupcake Project here

Notes:

  • I opted not to add coffee in my cupcakes, mostly because I don’t have a coffee maker or really access to one as far as I know of. Also, I’m not such a fan of instant coffee, nor do I own any.
  • I used Nestle dark chocolate chips for my chocolate, and Hersheys Cocoa Powder for that choice (for the frosting as well).
  • I was unable to find cupcake liners, so I used nonstick cooking spray on my nonstick cupcake pan, and everything turned out alright, though I do wish I had the cupcake liners for aesthetics’ sake.
  • I used slightly less powdered sugar than was called for (approx. 2.5 cups), and because I had none in my room, I used my handy dandy Magic Bullet to grind up regular granulated sugar. It kind of worked, though my frosting is probably slightly grainier than it should be.

Comments:

This is the lightest cupcake batter I have ever seen. Perhaps it’s because of the sour cream, or the not-very-much flour, but the batter before it’s poured actually feels extremely light and airy, which I found very interesting and quite pleasant. I somehow made 20 cupcakes from this 16 cupcake recipe, but it’s now been 2 full days, and I have just 2 left, with very few people involved in the eating process. I can only conclude that they were good. This is most definitely a recipe I’ll make again.

Also, I am most definitely not a frosting person (generally I scrape the frosting off of my cakes because I find it a bit too teeth-hurtingly sweet), but I really enjoy this frosting. That’s also probably a good thing, considering I probably have almost 2 cups left of it… the one thing it does mean is MORE CUPCAKES HOORAY. My waistline is crying a miserable pitiful plaintive cry.

IMG_7325

Unfortunately I have no pictures from the day of the birthday when the cupcakes were actually (nearly) beautiful, but I gave Max one today to eat for dessert! Since the frosting came directly out of the fridge, it pretty much refused to spread, resulting in the rather less attractive lump-smear in this photo. Lesson learned: frosting should be room temperature before applying. Max chose to decorate it with the 4 pomegranate seeds you see.

Overall? I’d consider this recipe trial a pretty resounding success. I managed to finish before midnight and trick roommate into thinking they weren’t for her, only to surprise her at the front door with a plateful (and the lovely Mama Son, another roommate/friend). The recipe was super fun and really straightforward, and definitely one pretty much anyone could do. There are delicious cupcakes in my room (though not for long, I have a feeling), a container of yummy frosting in the fridge, and happy tummies all around.

First Post!: Droppin’ the Beetz

IMG_73182copy

Hey All, Max here!

So first post – this is exciting! I don’t want to waste your time so let’s jump rightin:
THE RECIPE

Spicy Cajun Sausage Pasta with Beets, Goat Cheese, and Pomegranate Seeds
Adapted from this recipe over at Not Without Salt:
http://notwithoutsalt.com/2011/01/15/dating-my-husband-2/

Just add:

Spicy cajun sausage (sliced and cooked in a pan)

Pomegranate seeds (even if Connie strongly advised against them)

Cilantro (because I had some cilantro lying around and cilantro makes everything better!)

THE BREAKDOWN (aka how it all went down)

I love colorful food, so I jumped at the chance to make this really striking looking pasta dish – I mean how difficult could it be to make a sauce, right?

IMG_7308So, I didn’t have any whole wheat pasta and I didn’t find any whole wheat farfalle at the grocery store, but I thought having little red bowties in my food was too good of an opportunity to pass up, so I went ahead and just got some – In the end I think I managed to get the al dente texture that I wanted (thumbs for being able to boil water!) though I probably should have saved the pasta for last, seeing as how it was the simplest thing and leaving the pasta sitting there for a while made it a little cold/ dry.

IMG_7306

I was a bit skeptical of cooking a whole onion, since I don’t really use onions on a regular basis, but it all worked out in the end! (It probably had to do with the fact that I left these on for like 15 minutes until they started to brown rather than the 5 required by the recipe…)

IMG_7309 This is Connie dangerously “grating” the beets with a peeler. I feared for her life (especially since on the episode of Masterchef we were watching one girl cut her finger clear off… I tried to chop the beets to make the process go faster, but those pieces weren’t as cooperative for turning into sauce… Darn!

IMG_7315

Oh, also we forgot about the walnuts we left in the oven so ended up having to re-toast the walnuts, since our first batch was toast…

The sauce in the end didn’t end up as consistent as in the original recipe, probably because we didn’t grate the beets (also, I don’t know if this is a dumb question, but what the heck is cooking liquid?? – I just added water because at one point the sauce was more like a cooked beet salad.)

IMG_7312

On a positive note, I’m really glad I made the changes that I did to the recipe – the sausage helped turn this into a whole, hearty meal (and the spicy kick really played well with the flavour of the beets/ goat cheese). The Pomegranate seeds helped to add acidity and lightness so that the dish didn’t become overwhelming, and the cilantro added colour! (because as much as I wanted this to be a red dish, it would have looked pretty intimidating to the casual observer.)

SO?

I definitely would want to try this recipe again at a later date because I feel like a beet sauce could be super versatile tool to have in my cooking recipe – imagine a picnic side of cute red bowties! So adorable (and probably what the original creators intended…)

My ratings!:
Dish deliciousness (dishliciousness?) : 7/10
Recipe difficulty: 6/10 (It was pretty straightforward, I just think it requires more time/ a grater)
Overall experience: 4 Max heads out of 5 (A fun kickoff to this blog, no?)

maxheadmaxheadmaxheadmaxhead

Overheard in the Kitchen:

Connie: “Let’s embody vegetables!”
Max: “Ok ouch, hot boiling steam is hot”
Connie: “So what do you use to stir your pasta? Chopsticks. So what do you use as a cutting board? Aluminum foil.”

IMG_7324