Archive for November 2010

30 November 2010

Kitchen adventures: Butternut squash pizza fail

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Food

Right now Trader Joes and I are SO IN A FIGHT. I’m about to go stage 5 psycho on its a**.

Whenever I make homemade pizza, I use the Trader Joes premade dough because it’s makes me feel gourmet. I don’t want to make my own dough and I feel it tastes lighter and better than premade crusts. I’ve had some good experiences with it and bad, but overall, I’ve been happy.

Until now.

This weekend I made Rebecca C’s butternut squash pizza with Trader Joes whole wheat dough. I prepared, dressed and cooked it just like I do every other time except something went completely awry.

So let’s bask in my kitchen failure:

Toppings (look at how good that cheese looks)

Yep, the dough was STUCK to the pan. I had to CUT the pizza off the tin

Fortunately, the top layer was saved but my ego was bruised. I was really looking forward to making this and although it’s still tasty, I was really upset about the crust. The FAIL was totally on that crust, not on RC’s delish recipe.

Here it is:

Ingredients:

  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced into half-inch cubes
  • 1 small sweet yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 3 leaves of swiss chard, center ribs removed
  • 2 Tablespoons cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons parmesean cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh sage leaves
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon aged balsalmic vinegar (optional)

Preparation:

Prehead oven to 450 degrees F. Combine butternut squash, onion, 1 Tablespoon of olive oil and salt & pepper to taste in a bowl and toss until the oil is evenly distributed. Spread squash and onions on a rimmed baking sheet and roast in the oven for 20- 25 minutes, until the squash is tender and golden and onions are soft (stir occassionally for even browning). Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly.

Raise oven temperature to 500 degrees F and insert pizza stone into the oven if using one.

Meanwhile if using fresh pizza dough, roll the dough into a 1/4 inch thick round on parchment paper. Brush pizza dough with remaining 1 Tablespoon of olive oil to evenly coat crust. Sprinkle squash and onions, chard, cheeses and nutmeg evenly over the crust. Transfer pizza (still on parchment paper, if using fresh dough) to the oven and bake for 8 – 10 minutes until crust is crisp and the cheeses are golden and bubbly.

While the pizza cooks, heat 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil in a small pan over medium heat until very hot. Add sage leaves and fry for about 30 seconds, until leaves are beginning to crisp. Be careful not to burn them. Remove leaves from oil and drain on paper towels until pizza is ready to serve.

Verdict: Despite the crust issue, this was VERY tasty. I did not include the swiss chard or sage due to not having the ingredients, but the whole wheat crust and butternut squash did compliment each other very nicely. The little bit of crust left to accompany the toppings was really good and I would definitely make this again.

So now my question is, how do I get this crust OFF of the pan? Are you a butternut squash fan?

29 November 2010

Weekend recap: Fur nephews and Thanksgiving fashion

By: Jessica B.

Instead of calling today Monday, I’m calling it BTR day, as in “back to reality.” Not only because this was a long weekend, but also because my previous two work weeks were three day weeks because of Mexico. So this week is going to be a tough one.

But I wanted to share some pictures from the long weekend because some are too cute for words. Literally.

While I was back in Wisconsin for Thanksgiving, I stayed with my brother and SIL and got to meet my fur nephew (aka their dog), Steve. He’s a daschund and (in my opinion), the most adorable, sweet and loving fur nephew a girl could ask for. I was fully prepared to cash all the love checks he was writing.

And write them he did!

Auntie Jess and Steve

Steve sitting on my lap (LOOK AT THAT FACE! How could you NOT love him?)

Butt shot (he was camera shy)

During my three days with him, he licked my eye (right on the contact too), nose, lips, boobs, hands and fingers. Yes, it grossed me out for a minute but then I gave in to it.

The best part? Thursday morning, he scurried out of my bro/SIL’s bedroom and ran right over to my closed guest room door before going downstairs. And when I gave the okay for him to come in, he came BOUNDING in the room, beyond excited to see me. Okay, he may have been excited for anyone but I think I made an impression.

I literally cannot wait to go back for Christmas to cash some more love checks and snuggle with him. I LOVE HIM.

And after my fur nephew morning snugglefest, it was time to get ready for the meal. In the past, I’ve worn dress pants or even jeans to Thanksgiving and honestly, after that meal, I feel like those pants could pop off themselves. So, I’m all about comfort now.

Here is this year’s Thanksgiving outfit:

(Flannel top: Ralph Lauren outlet, T-shirt: Banana Republic, Leggings: Hue, Boots: Banana Republic, Necklace: Nordstrom)

It was comfy and fashionable. Win, win.

How was everyone else’s long weekend?

25 November 2010

My Thanksgiving thankful list

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Random

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope your tummy’s are full with turkey and stuffing and you’re forced to spend the rest of the night on the couch from the delicious food coma. That’s a holiday.

Today, I stuffed myself with turkey and making a swimming pool of gravy in my mashed potatoes. But before I surrender to my own food-induced exhaustion, I wanted to reflect on what’s really important about Thanksgiving and make a list of what I’m grateful for this year, both silly and serious (and in no particular order):

  • Good health (despite a recent cold and cough that is driving me crazy)
  • A stable job
  • Friends
  • Family
  • Straight teeth
  • Roomba
  • Bubbles
  • Moroccan oil
  • A glass of wine or champagne at the end of the day
  • Pretzel M&Ms
  • Underwire bras
  • Impromptu dance parties
  • Hugs
  • My dishwasher

Okay the list is mostly silly but the serious stuff is solid too :) I’m going to hang on to this Thanksgiving joy for a little bit longer before I move on to the next holiday. I will try to hold off on the Christmas talk until December 1, not that far away!

What is your favorite Thanksgiving dish or what are you thankful for this year?

22 November 2010

Kitchen adventures: Mediterranean Chicken Couscous

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Food

Hey-o! I know this week will be filled with lots of turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes but before I go into a food coma, I wanted to get some cooking in.

This week’s recipe: Mediterranean Chicken Couscous from Myrecipes.com.

And then I realized as I was writing this post that I didn’t even use the right grain with this recipe. It called for couscous and I made it with quinoa, my new default grain. Clearly, I’m losing my mind.

But in spite of this fail, here’s how it turned out:

When I look at this, the phrase “grain fail” runs through my head

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4  cups  low-sodium fat-free chicken broth
  • 1  (5.6-ounce) package toasted pine nut couscous mix
  • 3  cups  chopped cooked chicken
  • 1/4  cup  chopped fresh basil
  • 1  (4-ounce) package crumbled feta cheese
  • 1  pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 1/2  tablespoons  fresh lemon juice
  • 1  teaspoon  grated lemon rind (optional)
  • 1/4  teaspoon  pepper

Preparation:

Heat broth and seasoning packet from couscous in the microwave on HIGH for 3 to 5 minutes or until broth begins to boil. Place couscous in a large bowl, and stir in broth mixture. Cover and let stand 5 minutes.

Fluff couscous with a fork; stir in chicken and next 6 ingredients. Serve warm or cold. Garnish, if desired.

Verdict: Holy h*ll this is TASTY (even with quinoa.) I added some spice to the chicken and combined with the  quinoa and lemon juice, it just had SUCH a nice flavor. The Feta cheese was great too. Now, the quinoa did get a little clumpy on the chicken and Feta, but it was still really tasty. I used fresh basil from my plant too and it was even better. Just don’t over do it, like I did :) I would definitely make this again (with the right grain) and add some pine nuts for extra flavor too. Overall, two thumbs up!

What are you cooking this week before the big Thanksgiving feast?

21 November 2010

Weekend recap: Practicing being a shut-in

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: apartment, Random

Happy Sunday everyone! I’m finally getting back on track with blogging so my apologies if I’ve been delayed on commenting, there is a lot to still catch up on!

Being the crazy planner that I am, I seem to always have something to do. Running errands, cleaning, catching up on blogs, newspapers, magazines, etc. There is ALWAYS something that I could be doing. I could run myself into the ground with little things to do. It’s my weakness and I don’t give myself enough time to relax.

Running around every weekend usually lasts for a few weeks and then something comes up and I force myself to be a shut-in.

I may fight it, but I love it.

And because last week was pretty crazy with Mexico, a long day of travel, getting caught up at work and of course, this f*cking cold that will NOT GO AWAY, this weekend I forced myself to be a shut-in

Okay that’s a lie, I was a semi shut-in because I did have a few things around my apartment to get done, but still, I was as shut-in.

When I go into this mode, I usually do the following things:

  • Spend the majority of the day on the couch
  • Clean out the DVR
  • Read for several hours
  • Enjoy peace and quiet
  • Have shoe fashion shows
  • Exfoliate
  • Back up my hard drive (not a metaphor)
  • Practice putting my hair in odd styles

Yes, that is my idea of a great weekend. Sure, I think about errands to run and things I could be doing to be productive, but seriously, sometimes you need to give yourself a break. Trust me, those things will always be there waiting to be done.

And as result of my lazy behavior this weekend, I’m pretty relaxed, and am now about to enter into deep mental prep for a short week. Serenity now.

What about you? Do you have shut-in weekends? And if so, what are they like?