Monday, December 17, 2007

Merry Christmas to me.

My biggest problem with shopping for others during a season abundant in incredible deals is that I tend to shop for myself even more. A week out until Christmas and I am probably only 30 percent done with my friends' and family's gifts, and yet I have bought many lovely Christmas gifts for yours truly.

A few of my fabulous finds:

6-way opener, Crate&Barrel
Ok, this wasn't on sale, but isn't it fabulous?!

My mother and boyfriend say it's completely superfluous (especially that third use for it), but I am in love with it. It's a multi-tasker for sure! And so cute.

Cooks enamel cast iron cookware, JC Penney
Someday, my kitchen will contain a large collection of Le Creuset enamel cast iron cookware (gorgeous!). But today, my wallet stays (relatively) full and I still get to indulge -- thanks to this amazing find. Cooks' brand enamel cast iron cookware, which comes in a 5-qt. round or a 5.5-qt oval, is a fantastic knock-off of Le Creuset. Best of all -- it'll only set you back $70 instead of $200 or more. AND -- triple bonus! It comes with a trivet, silicone pot holders and a serving spoon.

One day we'll be together, Le Creuset.

In the meantime, I'm going to have a fling with Cooks; I hope you don't mind. But don't worry, you're still my true love. Promise.

Still on my Christmas wish list:

Potatoes t-shirt,
Adorable, no?

With this, I'd be able to use my wardrobe to express my love for potatoes. And also my love for a certain pair of hobbits in a certain trilogy. (I love subtle hints, don't you?)

Happy holidays and happy shopping!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Comfort food at its finest.

If you love comfort food, particularly of the American variety, hearty and delicious, made with love and lots of butter, then Paula Deen's probably your go-to food TV mama for recipes. And if you're also happening to look for a food blog that specializes in down-home cowboy grub, then look no further than The Pioneer Woman.

This weekend I made Pioneer Woman's berry cobbler, a prime example of comfort food in dessert form. The original recipe calls for only blackberries, but I used a frozen mixed berry mix with blackberries, raspberries and blueberries. So it didn't look exactly like this.

But it looked and tasted just as delicious. Moist, sugary and tart, I finished probably about a third of the cobbler in one sitting. And it is SO easy to make.

(More alterations: Instead of 1 cup self-rising flour, I used 1 cup all purpose flour + 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder + a pinch of salt. And I threw in 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract in the batter for kicks.)

Remember, comfort food recipes aren't for calorie-counting health nuts. These dishes are, more often than not, bad for you. But in such a good, good way.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Wish list.

I want this for Christmas, but I don't know who would play it with me. Also, I'm such a newbie foodie, I wouldn't know like, 95 percent of the answers. BUT -- this could be an awesome way to learn more!

Daily Dish, LA Times' food blog, says that it's available at Sur La Table. So... yeah. *wink.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Ooey-gooey bubbly cheesy baked tortellini.

Okay. It's another Giada recipe. Yes, you may have guessed that she is one of my most favorite Food Network chefs. I probably print out her recipes more often than any other chef's (second is Paula Deen).

What can I say? Her recipes are simple, delicious, hearty and often very easily adjustable (don't like arugula? Substitute spinach!). Also, they're man-pleasin' dishes. And sister pleasin'. Cousin-pleasin', too.... But not Mom-pleasin', though. She hates cheese.

Anyway, my favorites are the hot and bubbly, ooey-gooey fatty baked pasta dishes. Last weekend was my second time making Giada's cheesy baked tortellini. This time, though, I added creamy goat cheese to the sauce mixture, and served it with Parmesan crisps to boot. I sliced up some ciabatta (focaccia would work, too), slathered it with garlic butter and generously sprinkled grated Parmesan on top. Bake the slices in a toaster oven/broiler, or with the pasta 10 minutes before it's ready.

Giada and I recommend using a simple store-bought tortellini (cheese is best) paired with your favorite marinara -- this time I used a combo of roasted garlic sauce and spinach and cheese sauce.

Now I know this looks like an indistinguishable mess of gooey Italian food, but you must understand that by this time, my hunger had taken over the patience required to get a good shot. So, unless you like the look of indistinguishable piles of gooey Italian food, you'll just have to trust me. YUM.