Monday, November 29, 2010

Spicy Black Beans and Rice

I'm in a food conundrum. I woke up this morning and I think my body was in shock.

Oatmeal? Turkey and avocado sandwich? A clementine? Where's the gravy?

Yes, it's true, the indulgence came and went, and I'm back on the saddle of mostly good-fir-me foods. What a difference four days makes though. I've been starving all day (and feeding the hunger, but c'mon!). Your body quickly adapts to all that rich food. Oye. I definitely couldn't be like that all year!

So tonight, dinner was back to normal, and a delicious black bean and rice dish (originally from Better Homes & Garden) was prepared, topped with guacamole and served alongside a salad. It was a perfect getting back into the groove meal, and it was scrumptious!
Oh and the best part? It is a cinch to put together. So if you're looking for a hectic week night dinner that's satisfying, easy, and um,'ve met your match!
Jazz it up with cheese and cilantro and a sprinkle of tortilla chips if you wish. Or serve it neKKed. Either way, it's a winner! For four servings...
What ya need:
1/2 cup chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1- 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1- 14.5 oz can Mexican-style stewed tomatoes
1/2 cup bottled salsa
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 to 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 cups hot cooked brown rice
1/4 cup chopped onion
Sour Cream

What ya do:
1. In a medium saucepan, cook the 1/2 cup of onion and garlic in hot oil until tender, but not brown. Stir in beans, undrained tomatoes, salsa and cayenne pepper. Bring to boil and reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes.
2. To plate, scoop rice onto a plate or into a serving bowl. Top with bean mixture and garnish with sour cream, avocado, diced onion or cheese, if desired.

And guess what? A serving is less than 300 calories. I'll take it! Alongside and salad and a big bowl of broccoli, I'm stuffed...much like a turkey.

Ta Ta my loves!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving Part 2: Everything Else

This weekend was so exhausting! I thought Thanksgiving was for rejuvenation? Oh well, I had a great holiday. I saw so many friends who flew in town from various places from the country and ate like a Queen and wined like a fish and life was sweet.
The whole delicious plate.
I'm sleepy. But I'm also feeling gracious and I want to bless you with a few more old tried and true family recipes. Talking Grandma's type deal, ya dig?
The major chef, Sue.
The bird, browned and stuffed.
Turkey Gravy (kind of like liquid heroin, I'd imagine)
What ya need:
Giblets and neck from turkey
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 onion, sliced
1 large carrot, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt
8 cups water
½ cup flour
1 ½ tsp salt
½ tsp poultry seasoning
¼ tsp pepper

What ya do:
Wash giblets and neck; refrigerate liver. Place gizzard, heart and neck in a sauce pan with vegetables, a bay leaf, 1 tsp of salt and water. Heat to boiling; simmer about 2 hours, adding the liver the last 20 minutes. Strain liquid, discard neck, vegetables and gizzards (EW) so you only have the broth.

When turkey has been removed to a warm platter, pour drippings into a bowl leaving the brown particles in the pan. Let the fat rise to the top of drippings. Skim off fat. Place ½ cup fat in the roasting pan, blend in flour. Cook over low heat, stirring until mixture is smooth and bubbly. Remove from heat. Measure broth, add meat juice if necessary to make 4 cups. Stir broth into flour mixture. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil 1 minute. Stir in salt, poultry seasoning and pepper. Heat through. Makes 4 ½ cups.
It's our first holiday with my baby!
Canned crannberries, exciting.
Stuffin' ya'll
Perfect Stuffing
What ya need:
1 pound sage pork sausage (Jimmy Dean)
1 bag (Pepperidge Farm) dehydrated herb bread cubes
½ cup butter
¾ cup finely minced onion
1 ½ cups chopped celery
1 tsp pepper
1 tbsp dried sage
Poultry seasoning to taste

What ya do:
1. Plan a cup of stuffing per each pound of ready-to-cook weight. Brown and crumble pork sausage (You need 1/3 lb for each quart of stuffing). Melt butter in heavy skillet. Add onions and cook until yellow, stirring occasionally. Stir in some of the bread cubes.
2. Continue to stir to prevent too much browning. Turn into a deep bowl. Mix remaining ingredients lightly.
3. Cool and place stuffing loosely in turkey
4. Bake that sucker. Enjoy and delight in how fantastic it tastes

Love me some mashed taters, but there isn't really a recipe here
I need to fast; We had Thanksgiving round two tonight.
Delish bottles of wine
Oh yum.
Looking sleepy PRE tryptophan. Sheesh.
Grandma's Recipe
Glorified Cauliflower
What ya need:
1 medium cauliflower (about 2 pounds)
3 cups frozen peas
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp dry mustard
¼ tsp salt
Dash of pepper
1 cup milk
1 cup shredded cheese of your choice (used a mix of cheddar and feta, nice bite!)
Hot pepper to taste

What ya do:
1. Heat one inch salter water to boiling. Add cauliflower. Cover and heat to boiling. Cook until tender, whole 20 to 25 minutes. Drain. Set aside. Cook frozen peas. Drain and set aside.
2. Heat butter over low heat until melted. Blend in flour, mustard, salt and pepper. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until mixture is smooth and bubbly.
3. Remove from heat and stir in milk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil about one minute and stir in cheese and hot pepper sauce to taste. Cook and stir until cheese is melted.
4. Plate peas on a large platter; place cauliflower in the middle. Drizzle cheese over vegetables and serve.

The Lovely Tablescape
My roomies... 36 Thanksgivings together
Who let the 12 year old drink?
Happy Thanksgiving and prepare yourself for the rest of the holiday season in The Messie Kitchen!!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Part 1: The Pie

Well, here it is. The day we wait for. The day we slave in the kitchen. The day we kick back and relax. Play football. Laugh with the ones we care about.
Oh yes, Thanksgiving was here. It was a fine day indeed, too.
I spent my day working on my semi-thesis, cooking with Mama and sipping copious amounts of Trader Joe's Gingerbread Coffee. Oh ma Goodness, I love this. Our menu is super traditional:

Turkey with Stuffing (not dressing)
Mashed Potatoes with Gravy
Cranberry Sauce
Fresh Rolls
Cauliflower and Peas with Cheese Sauce
Pumpkin Pie with Whipped Cream

The festivities began this morning, when Father dearest and I prepare our pumpkin pie.
We've had this tradition ever since I can remember, but it was only a few years ago when I really started to buy into the ritual of a few shakes here and a few dashes there that made our pie special.
And so, for the first time ever, the secret is out.
I'll share with you the recipe, which is really three recipes combined into one spicy, sweet, creamy pie.
 The one that can make you feel like home...and I don't even really like pumpkin pie!
Davis Family Pumpkin Pie

What ya need:
Refrigerated Pastry Pie Crust, or your favorite 9 inch recipe
2 eggs
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tbsp of white sugar (just for variety, we say)
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (and a dash for love)
1/2 tsp of salt (but a little less because we're watching our sodium, says Dad)
1/2 tsp cinnamon (plus a dash for tradition)
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup maple syrup (and an extra tablespoon for good measure)
1.5 cups pumpkin (that's almost all of your 15 oz can)
1 cup evaporated milk

What ya do:
1. Heat oven to 425. Prepare your pastry pie crust.
2. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs slightly; Mix in remaining ingredients in order and pour into pastry lined pan.
3. Cover the edge of your crust with a 2-to-3 inch strip of aluminum foil to prevent excess browning. Bake 45-50 munutes or until knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool. Serve with whipped cream.

Whipped Cream
What ya need:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp powdered sugar

What ya do:
Whip cream in a COLD mixing bowl until just before stiff peaks form. Add vanilla and sugar and whip until stiff peaks form. Voila!

After the pie, I broke up the cooking with 5.5 mile run and it was perfect jogging weather. Nippy but not cold. I smelled a lot of good food cooking. That's what inspired me to keep running... because usually I only run about 4 miles.
After that it was shower, change into family gear (aka embarrassing slippers, flannel pants and a baggy elvis tee shirt I got at the thrift store because it is SO soft). Back to the oven.
And I have so many more things coming your way... but I must-oh-must pace myself!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Eggnog Cookies... Tis the Season!

Happy Thanksgiving! I'm up to my elbows in mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie and stuffing. Oh lord. But I had to share this recipe so when you're in between basting your bird or layering your casseroles you can take a look.
For those of you who know me personally/read The Messie Kitchen, you know I start thinking about Christmas after my birthday in September. I know... way too early for you. But I can't help it. The inner child in me comes out and I am able to soak in everything around me from the traditional food to the amazing music. Ahh...the holidays are bliss.
Time to be spent with friends and family. No deadlines. No work. You can't beat that. Although, if you are apart from someone you care about, the holidays present one tiny little problem. They seem to exacerbate the pit in your stomach that goes alongside missing someone.
I'm spending Thanksgiving home in Virginia this year. It's just me and the roomies, Susie and Dick. I'm getting to see a lot of friends coming into town and I'm helping Mother dearest make one hell of a dinner. I have coffee dates lined up with some of my best friends, girls nights full of wine on the horizon and a plan to relax on my big blue coach. Perfection. Well, almost.
There's a part of me that is stuck in Pennsylvania. I've spent Thanksgiving in good old State College 3 out of the past 5 years of my life, and somewhere in there, it became my home. Oh, and I guess my boyfriend is up there too. My initial plans to visit him were called off by a change of heart and a desire for me to spend time with my family, though I love his dearly.
And so, to Alex, I send a new recipe. Alex delights in eggnog. Which is awful because he has high cholesterol for a twenty-something healthy male. But, because I am the BEST girlfriend, I not only approve of this seasonal treat, but I'm sending it his way, in cookie form!

If you're not an eggnog person, come back next week, but if you are, HOLY COW try these! I like (but don't love) eggnog, and these were awesome. So if you're looking for a cookie to add to your annual batch, try these (adapted from Mrs. Fields (lady knows her cookies).

What ya need: 1 1/4 cups white sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup eggnog (I used LIGHT).
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

What ya do:1. Preheat oven to 300°F
2. Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. With a mixer, cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
3. Add eggnog, vanilla, and egg yolks; beat at medium speed until smooth. Add flour mixture and beat at low speed until just combined, don't overmix these!
4. Drop onto ungreased cookie sheet 1 inch apart (I used tablespoon to "measure") and sprinkle with a dash of nutmeg and bake 20 to 23 minutes until bottoms turn light brown.
5. After cookies are cooled, drizzle with eggnog icing, recipe follows.

Eggnog Icing
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup softened butter or margarine
1/3-3/4 cup LIGHT eggnog (I think I used about 1/2)

1. In small mixer bowl, beat confectioners’ sugar and butter or margarine until well blended. Gradually beat in eggnog until icing is smooth. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Healthy Roasted Vegetables with Polenta and Red Pepper Sauce

It seems like forever since I've posted a healthy recipe.

You know, the ones that aren't slathered in icing and laden in butter? The boring ones?

Well, they don't have to be...right?

In fact, if it isn't good, consider me out! But in a world where everything is low-fat-this and diet-that, where's someone to turn?
To The Messie Kitchen, of course! Believe me, the next few days (and weeks probably) are seasonal, and I'm not going to make my mashed potatoes light. I just won't! However, there are plenty of good-for-you foods that you can easily whip up on a weeknight that will satisfy and help you save up for..ohh I don't know, TOMORROW!!!
You will have to forgive the pictures...horrible lighting in my house. You get the idea though. Now, I am no where near a vegetarian, but I LOVE my veggies. If I could redo this recipe (and I will), I would make a few changes.
1. I would substitute the eggplant for zucchini. It didn't brown too well and it was a little dry.
2. I would use just a touch more oil to coat the veggies.
3. I would toss in a sliced red onion

But everything else was great. I know I've had polenta on here a couple times and it's gotten mixed reviews, but you should try it. Or give it another chance-- it's good!
So, tighten up your belts, because a huge plate of this isn't going to break the bank. You'll still have room for punkin pie!

What ya need (adapted from Self):
1 tube pre cooked polenta
2/3 cup grated Parmesan, divided
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Vegetable oil cooking spray
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoon chopped fresh or oregano or 1 tablespoon dried
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 - 2 tablespoon olive oil
16 asparagus stalks, ends trimmed
8 scallions, trimmed
2 small Japanese or Italian eggplants, sliced (I'd swap for zucchini!)
1 medium-large yellow squash cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices
1 cup cherry tomatoes

1 jar (12 ounces) prepared roasted red peppers, drained
1/3 cup vegetable (or chicken) broth
1 large clove garlic, chopped
3 tablespoon chopped fresh chives(plus extra for garnish)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

 What ya do:1. Slice up your precooked polenta thinly and then mash up with a fork or even your hands. Mix in 1/3 cup of parmesan and cayenne pepper until well incorporated. Coat a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray. Transfer polenta to pie plate, smooth into an even layer. Heat broiler.
2. Whisk garlic, oregano, lemon juice and oil in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Toss vegetables with dressing. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray and arrange vegetables in 1 layer (or in 1 layer in a grill basket). Broil vegetables about 4 inches from heat until tender and slightly charred, 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Transfer to a platter.
3. Combine all sauce ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
4. Sprinkle polenta with remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan. Broil polenta in pie plate until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes, then cut polenta into 8 triangles. Divide polenta among 4 plates. Top with vegetables, drizzle with sauce and sprinkle with chives. Serve any remaining sauce on the side.

Delicious. Like I said, I would have swapped out the eggplant and added in some red onion. Give this a try for your veggie loving family!

And Happy Thanksgiving EVE!!!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Artisana: A Review

Breathe, Jessie, and readers too.

It’s finally Friday. It’s finally the weekend. I’m le tired. Aren’t you?

I would love to bake up a storm this weekend. Keep your fingers crossed for me. Until I do, there are a few things you should know.

The holidays began in September, but tonight marks the first holiday party I go to. I’m going to be festive and wear green and drink mulled wine. Sophisticated, no?

Harry Potter is out. I’m five years old again. And happy as a clam!

I found you more neat stuff to eat. And I keep finding more!

Todays post is all about Artisana, this awesome little company that makes all sorts of different spreads, mainly nut butters and coconut products.
Artisana is raw, which is definitely a buzz word these days, so I set out to see what their stuff was really all about. They sent me a sample of a bunch of their squeeze packs which had a ton of variety in flavors and was really fun to top my sandwiches, oatmeal, fruit... all the different tastes, oh-me-oh-my!
Now, let me tell you, if you love overly sweet peanut butters, this probably isn’t for you. When Artisana says raw, they mean it. If you read the ingredient list for the cashew butter you will find cashews only. Same goes for pecan, almond, macadamia, walnut, etc.
The little squeeze packets were perfect to stuff in my lunch bag before work... and you all know I work at 5 a.m., so convenience is key. See everywhere I took it?
No artificial ingredients. No hydrogenated oils. No worries. That’s pretty cool, if you ask me.
Now, how to describe the taste…
Have you ever had a pecan? That’s what the pecan butter tastes like.

Love almonds? That’s what the almond butter tastes like.

Need a cashew fix? That’s what the cashew butter tastes like.

Simple. Everything now-a-days is so overly processed... it's nice to taste things as they were meant to taste.
Now, I must say, Artisana gave samples of their coconut butter and their cacao bliss. I hate coconut. Or at least I used to. Well, THANK YOU Artisana, because you opened my eyes to how good coconut can actually taste. Of all the products, the Cacao Bliss tasted like a candy bar—you know, the one with the coconut on the inside. Oh, wait, except this has fiber and protein and iron. I’ll take it.
The almond and cashew butter were definitely my favorites. They went particularly well with honey and made one heck of a PB&J. The Tahini has that nutty hummus-y taste that would be good with some crudites... that's fancy for veggies, duh! The spreads were all subtle enough to go with savory or sweet food-- you take your pick.
So, who would I recommend Artisana to?

Loads of people. Raw food lovers, health nuts, people allergic to peanuts, people who love Mounds candy bars… the list goes on.

You can purchase Artisana online or at your local natural or organic market. And you should. Like I said, it's not too sweet, which makes it versatile. Load it on your pancakes, stuff it in your pita or squeeze it in your yogurt. It's a healthy on-the-go snack that you can feel good about eating...can't beat that!

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Me Me Me!!!

Today I learned a neat thing about my blog:

I'm getting readers from a FETISH site! Glad to know I'm hitting all my bases-- I'm very welcoming of all people, so come one, come all to The Messie Kitchen!

In other news, it's been a long time since I've given you an update on life, which I'm sure you're just dying to hear.

Things in gwad school have been super busy. I'm in the process of four major projects, exams, and figuring out my evaluation project upon completion of my program. Right now I'm toying with the idea of eating disorders in female athletes: what coaching/support staff can do to help prevent/intervene. I eat this stuff up -- no pun intended.

Things in life have been all over the place. Alexio (my lovely man-friend) has underwent surgery -- again. Which means he can't walk -- again. Which means I'll be doing more driving to see him -- again.

Between the two of us, we've had (I think) 9 surgeries, two sets of stitches (mine from white water rafting, his from a fence), a herniated disk, osteitis pubis yadda yadda the list goes on. I think he's secretly trying to top me with the surgeries, but I'm older, wiser and winning (not a good competition to be ahead).

Last weekend I celebrated my best friends' birthdays. Yes, plural. I got LARYNGITIS. Does this mean I'm not as hardcore as I was in college? Because two nights of going out really killed me. I'm still feeling ill!

I'm getting very excited about the upcoming holiday season. Thanksgiving will be in State College, Pennsyltucky because my sister isn't coming home and my parents don't love me-- JUST kidding, Mom. I know you're sad I won't be home.

I've been listening to "Peaceful Holidays" on Pandora for about three weeks, and that alongside "Holiday Blend" coffees is getting me through this semester.

I've been reviewing TONS of products. I have a couple awesome ones on the way -- so stay tuned.

I'm trying to figure out life after grad school. College coach? Wellness manager? Boston? Colorado? D.C.? New York? Philly? SUGGESTIONS are welcomed. Except you Amy: I just read your Philly schpeal.

I'm trying to keep up on my blogging. I know I've been bad about it, but, well, sorry. I just don't have time to post every day anymore. Sad.

I miss you all. And I miss your comments. So leave me some and brighten my day. Until then, I'll be working on a study guide, taking yoga, going to class, and missing a concert I was dying to go to. Ah, life... you are such a pain in my behind.

Well, that's all folks.

Hugs, not drugs, Jessie.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Triple Layer Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

I'm growing up!! Want to know why?

I finally prefer quality to quantity. I think that's one of the many things you acquire with maturation.

Case(s) in point:
1. I used to own about 15 pairs of jeans that were mediocre (at best). Last week, I splurged on ONE pair of True Religion jeans. Not cheap, but fabulous in every way.
2. I used to be the biggest social butterfly and have about a bajillion friends. Though there are still many people I care about, I tend to run with a few smaller circles these days.
3. I used to eat fat free pudding every day for a treat. A treat? What was I thinking. Now I definitely try to enjoy something that actually tastes like a treat, maybe just not as often.
4. I used to only make baked goods from the box. Brownies, muffins, pancakes, you name it. Now, well, I don't think I have to go into that.

But what a perfect segway into this cake.
I mean. Wow. Are you looking at this thing? It's the motherload of all cakes. All cakes that ever lived!
Remember when I said I run in smaller circles these days? Well wouldn't you know it, two of my best friends have the same birthday. Same day, same year, same same same! How weird. They are now turning 21+3.
They are just my little birthday miracles! And so, because nothing is better than a HUGE birthday cake that is made of sugar (not spice) but everything nice, I wanted something grand.
The Birthday Girl!
This particular cake is Melanie's not Amie's. Sorry boo boo but your Mama is making you red velvet, this I know.
Melanie said, "Well, you know I love cream cheese frosting. Other than that... I mean I like chocolate? But actually if you think of something crazy you want to do just go with it."
Um. Ok!

This cake is quality. Well, it's quantity too, but go with me here. It's not something you throw together last minute. Or at least, I never could.
I did it in stages, and I'm so happy about that. I found it on a site called Bake or Break, and God bless her. A few changes were made and are noted below. Enjoy! Oh and try not to smooosh your face into this baby.

Chocolate Layer Cake
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 & 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
1 & 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 & 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
6 large eggs, at room temperature
9 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
1 & 1/8 cups buttermilk
1 & 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and lightly flour three 9-inch square baking pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper.
2. Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
3. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, mix butter and sugars until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Add chocolate, and mix until well incorporated. Add dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with buttermilk and vanilla. Beat until smooth.
4. Divide batter equally and pour into prepared pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Then, remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 (8 oz) package of cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 tsp evaporated milk
4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. In a large bowl combine cream cheese, butter, evaporated milk, and vanilla, Add the confectioners' sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing well with each addition. If consistency is too stiff, add more milk. 
2. Spread frosting between cake layers. If necessary, place frosting in refrigerator before spreading onto cake layers.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
3 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Mix butter and cream cheese until smooth. Stir in cocoa powder. Add sugar in three portions, alternating with sour cream. Beat until smooth and creamy. Stir in vanilla extract.

Spread frosting on top and sides of cake. If necessary, place frosting in refrigerator before spreading on cake.

Place frosted cake in refrigerator to allow it to set