Saturday, February 08, 2014

Crockpot Taco Soup

Ahhhh the crockpot. How did I live without you? I like to think of my culinary history as BC (before crockpot) and HC! (hooray crockpot!) Seriously. Best kitchen related purchase I've made. So, uh, anyways, if you're feeling lazy like I am this a very easy and tasty recipe which will take you about 20 min prep time. Enjoy!

What you need: (but you can substitute or throw in whatever you have on hand)

  • 1 lb chicken breast (or beef if you prefer)
  • 1 15 oz can of pinto beans, drained
  • 1 15 oz can of kidney beans, drained
  • 1 15 oz can of black beans, drained
  • 1 15 oz can of corn, drained
  • 1 28 oz can of tomatoes 
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp of your choice taco seasoning 
  • 1 packet of dry ranch dressing


Add all the ingredients listed above into your crockpot, cook on high for 2.5 - 3 hours. Or low for about 4-5 hours. Top with avocado, sour cream and/or cheese. Serve with chips. Ta-da!

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

What I Read: October 2013

I love to read and I like to think that others give a crap about what I'm reading. I get interrupted a lot when I read in public (mostly on the bus or train) about my opinions on what's currently drawing my attention away from whatever insane thing is taking place on San Francisco Muni. (Like last week: a guy with a parrot on his shoulder singing "Under the Sea" from the Little Mermaid. I actually did take a break from my book to listen to his rendition >_>). I don't mind sharing my thoughts, especially if I think it'll get someone reading something really great. So why not blog about it?

Book #1 -- Someday, Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham 

I will be honest, the only reason I checked this out from the library was because Lauren Graham, who played Lorelai on Gilmore Girls, wrote it. And I totally thought it would suck. But it didn't! It seemed very autobiographical for Ms. Graham- about a twenty-something actress trying to get a break. Very well written and about halfway through I forgot I was reading a book written by a successful actress from one of my favorite television shows (yes, Gilmore Girls is one of my favorite TV shows, it's awesome, so suck it) and just enjoyed finding out where the main character would end up.  4/5

Book #2 -- The Art of Eating In: How I Learned to Stop Spending and Love the Stove by Cathy Erway

This book is half great and half eye roll. What's great: Erway starts a blog about not eating out in NYC. Which I think is awesome. I live in San Francisco, which like NYC has a zillion amazing restaurants that I cannot afford to dine in, so the concept of only cooking at home for yourself is something I was very interested in. She inspired me to make bread using the no-knead method (OMG BREAD!) and to start a cooking club. Also, I had no idea that there were urban foragers in central park.

Can you tell I'm really excited about making my own bread? Proof:

Anyways, what's not so great: Erway has A LOT of boring stories thrown in that didn't seem connected to the overall theme, I feel like she probably needed to have met a minimum page requirement by her editor or something to have included some of this crap. One story revolved around a roommate's demonic cat, feeling socially awkward at a supper club, and writing about a perfect picnic. I kept rolling my eyes and sighing during these parts. Oh well. 3/5

Book #3 -- The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty

O.M.G. I loved this book and it took my only 2 days to finish it because I really really wanted to know what happened. The story revolves around and is told from 3 different women's point of views. Of course they are all connected and how they are is told throughout the book. In the first chapter we meet Cecilia who is mostly living a perfect life until she finds a letter from her husband, written for her to read in the event of his death. "My Darling Cecilia, If you're reading this, then I've died..." OKAY if I found that letter I would rip that sucker open ASAP. I don't want to spoil anything but I highly recommend you read it. 5/5

Book #4 -- I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains by Chuck Klosterman

I love Mr. Klosterman and have read everything he's written. In his newest collection of essays he analyzes villainy, both in fiction and the real world and how everyday people relate them. Are villains the people that know the most, yet care the least? I devoured this in one day. My only complaint is that I wish it were longer. 5/5

Book #5 -- Make the Bread, Buy the Butter: What You Should and Shouldn't Cook from Scratch by Jennifer Reese 

Confession: I'm not yet done with this. It's part cookbook, part lessons on what is worth and what isn't worth buying from the supermarket. My first time making bread was through the no-knead method written about in "The Art of Eating In," but I think I prefer the old fashioned way of making bread and have vowed to never buy store bought again. Anyways, it's taking me so long to get through this because I've stopped reading to try out a bunch of the recipes in this. Also, this book makes me want to own chickens.

So far I've made: Of course bread (OMG BREAD, see above), bread crumbs, croutons, yogurt, scones, braised beef and almond butter. I just purchased my own copy so I can return the somewhat worse for wear book I checked out back to the library. I'm going to make hot sauce and hopefully finish reading through this book next week, can't wait! 5/5

Friday, October 18, 2013

Sansa's Lemon Bars

In two weeks the boyfriend and I are having our first party in our apartment as a couple, and of course it has to be nerdy in some way. Having already thrown a few Harry Potter parties I'm practiced in the art of throwing nerdy book/movie themed shindigs. Over the summer both the BF and I read the first four novels in the "A Song of Ice and Fire" (Game of Thrones) series. We also plowed through the three seasons of the show and absolutely loved it. And so, a "Party of Thrones" is coming.

I'm fairly sure everyone agrees. 

I'm going to be making a few desserts inspired by the books and one that pops up a lot in GoT is Lemon Cakes. I already have a great lemon bar recipe from my best friend's mom that is simple and produces amazingness (seriously, I ate three of these before even posting this). So, with her permission, here is the recipe for the first Party of Thrones dessert. More to come.

Sansa's Lemon Bars are a two step process, first make the crust:

For the Crust 

1/4 powered sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup melted butter

Mix ingredients together and spread in a greased 9x9 inch glass pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 mins.

Before being baked:
After 18 minutes in the oven:

Next step make the topping. 

For the Topping

2 medium eggs
1 cup sugar
4 tbsp lemon juice
1 grated lemon rind
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp flour

Mix ingredients and pour topping over baked crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-23 mins. Top with powdered sugar. Chill in the fridge for a few hours before serving.

After 20 minutes in the oven:

And the final product, after being sprinkled with powered sugar: 

Makes about 9 square bars.
Sansa approved.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Peanut Butter Chicken & Noodles with Wasabi Mashed Potatoes

Dinner tonight was pretty easy but time consuming considering I only own one large pot. I need to amazon prime another one stat. I made peanut butter chicken and noodles with a side of wasabi mashed potatoes. Both dishes are easy to make and taste amahzing together. I've never made wasabi mashed potatoes before and I'm not sure why I haven't since everything is better with wasabi. EVERYTHING.

The recipe for peanut butter chicken noodles came from the "Pretty Delicious" cookbook by Candice Kumai. I'm going to list the recipe straight out of this book because I usually tweak my recipes in some way, usually by doubling everything because the boyfriend eats so much, or by adding way more spice, etc.

What you need:
  • 1/2 pound whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
  • 3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide strips
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • Heaping 1/4 cup creamy natural peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 3/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 1 cup sliced shiitake mushroom caps or 1/2 cup dried shiitake mushrooms soaked in boiling water for 5 minutes, drained, and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 large zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 3 scallions, cut into strips

*Chicken is not pictured because it was taking its sweet ass time to thaw.


Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and salt and cook until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes. Scoop out 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water and then drain the pasta in a colander. Rinse the pasta under cold running water for a minute or two to chill the noodles. Give them a few shakes to remove the excess water and set aside.

Heat the sesame oil in a large, deep nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook, stirring often, until golden brown on all sides and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.

Add the ginger and garlic to the pan and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the peanut butter, honey, soy sauce, red-pepper flakes, and reserved pasta cooking water and cook until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, bell pepper, and zucchini. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the cooked chicken and drained noodles and serve sprinkled with the scallions.

Serves 4

Now the wasabi mashed potatoes couldn't be easier, all you need to do is add wasabi paste when you mash your potatoes. Here is a link to recipe I used: 

I don't have any pictures of me making the potatoes (or of the actual potatoes) because I got lazy and hungry. Oh well. Here's a picture of the boyfriend giving me his review of dinner tonight: 

Totally not a staged photo.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Breakfast: Homemade Chilaquiles

Today I made chilaquiles for breakfast. Being from San Diego means that I love Mexican food and since I now live in San Francisco it means that I miss Mexican food very much. There are lots of taquerias in SF and the food they serve isn't exactly bad.. It's just different. In my opinion the Mexican food in SD is far superior. So, instead of trying restaurants up here only to be let down I have resolved to making my own versions of my favorite dishes.

Here is my recipe for homemade chilaquiles, which is actually pretty easy to make. Chilaquiles are really just leftovers and you can throw whatever you want into the dish. I have found that you don't need to follow this or any recipe exactly.

What I used:

1/2 cup oil for frying
Half onion chopped
4-6 8 inch corn/flour tortillas torn into strips
3-4 eggs whisked
1/4 cup chopped jalapenos
1/2 cup salsa verde
1 cup shredded chicken (I had this leftover from when I made enchiladas) Optional.
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup shredded cheese of your choice
1 avocado (optional)

  1.  Heat oil on high in a large skillet, when hot stir in onion and tortilla strips. Fry until strips are brown and crisp. About 15-20 min. Remove and drain on paper towels. Drain oil.
  2. In a large bowl mix eggs, salsa and jalapenos. 
  3. Over med heat, add water to skillet followed by chicken. After about 3 minutes, return tortillas and onion to the skillet. 
  4. Next, stir in egg-salsa mixture. Simmer until everything is thick about 10-15 min. 
  5. When finished top with cheese and avocado and serve.
  6. Enjoy! 

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

DIY Magnetic Spice Tins

Today I finally finished making my magnetic spice tins. For the past 2 weeks I've had the flu which means I've done nothing except taken my relationship with the couch to the next level. There are lots of DIY spice tin tutorials out there and they are super cheap and easy to make.  The whole project only takes about an hour depending on how many spices you plan to store. I think mine turned out well.

What I used:

1. E6000
2. Magnets, I purchased these
3. Tins, buy them cheaply here:
4. Labeler
5. Spices

Step 1: Glue 2-3 magnets onto the back of each spice tin. E6000 can be annoying to work with, it can get everywhere. I placed it on a paper plate and used a chopstick to add the glue to the back.

Step 2:  Once dry, add your labels first so you don't accidentally mix up your spices. I also recommend adding the date on the back so you know how old your spices are.

Step 3: Add your spices and stick on your refrigerator. It's not a good idea to store them on your stove because heat could mess up your spices.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Today I....

Had my very first crock pot delivered. I'm so excited to cook my meals s-l-o-w-l-y. 

Bought almost all the craft supplies that have been on my wish list. Now I cannot keep making excuses and putting off all the DIY projects I need to do around the apartment.

Attended the San Francisco Library book sale and only spent $31! I did however pick up two more copies of Harry Potter, but they are for craft projects so it's okay. 

Took this awkward photo and sent it to my friends: 

Promised myself that I would finally start this blog. And now, Jillian's Today is finally a thing. Kinda.