food

Strain then Stir (Episode 7): Chrissy Teigen’s Cravings Hungry for More (Part 2)

I’m not sure how many of you watch Game of Thrones, and I’m not sure how many of you watched it last night, but if you have and you did, there is obviously A LOT to talk about. I won’t be talking about it here however, because I’m not a spoiler-er and I don’t want to ruin anyone’s day, so instead I’m going to talk about food.

Food is safe, right? Food is comforting. Food is our friend. Let’s talk about food.

Checking in from last time, I am currently cooking my way through Chrissy Teigen’s second cookbook, Cravings: Hungry for More, and it has yet to disappoint!

Over the last couple months, I’ve really felt like I’ve not only learned new recipes, but I’ve learned new skillzz that I can take with me into many recipes to come.

These have been some of my favorites recently:

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Vegetable Noodles

This might have been totally obvious to everyone except me, but I had no idea you could turn veggies into noodles using a vegetable peeler. I thought you had to have one of those fancy spiralizer things or, I don’t know, some other extravagant cooking tool. So imagine my surprise and delight to find the secret to one of the most delicious and healthy things I’ve eaten lately was sitting in my cluttery utensil drawer all along!

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Blueberry Cream Cheese Pancakes

When I was training for my marathon, most of my Saturday mornings were spent logging lots of miles. I dreamed about the day when I could sleep in and make a big breakfast. This past weekend, I finally got to fulfill that dream and I spent all morning dancing around the kitchen in my sweatpants, whipping up these practically perfect in every way pancakes. Fun fact: The recipe calls for buttermilk and I forgot to buy it, so I Googled substitution options and found that if you mix 1 cup of milk (even dairy free!) with 1 tablespoon of vinegar and then let it sit for 5 minutes, you have yourself a buttermilk substitute!

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Goat Cheese Nicoise

One of the biggest surprises about this cookbook for me is how much I’ve loved the salads. I would in no way consider myself a “salad person” but there has yet to be one that I haven’t loved, and this was no exception. I even went so far as to leave the lettuce completely out of the recipe because who needs lettuce when you have green beans and potatoes and goat cheese and tuna steak.

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Spicy Honey Butter Carrot Coins

I mean, the name of these should let you know that Chrissy is not messing around. She’s making carrots taste like a damn DESSERT. I could’ve have licked the pan. (I might have licked the pan)

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So yeah, it’s safe to say that I’ll recommend this book every chance I’ll get because wow, yum, hey-o and YES.

Do you have any recipes or cookbooks you’ve been loving lately?

Strain then Stir (Episode 6): Chrissy Teigen’s, Cravings: Hungry for More

One of my goals for 2019 is to cook my way through a cookbook. The whole thing. No recipes left behind.

My choice for this feat? Chrissy Teigen’s, Cravings: Hungry for More. And let me tell you, I made the right choice. Not only have the recipes been the good kind of challenging. But they’ve been absolutely delicious!

Here are some of my favorites so far:

(Note: all credit and rights to the photos belong to the team behind the cookbook.)

Salted Maple Granola

This was the very first recipe I tried, so naturally I assumed I was ruining it the entire time it was cooking. To add to that, I’ve never been a big granola person because I’m not a big yogurt person and for whatever reason I thought they were the PB&J of breakfast foods—can’t have one without the other—so I just avoided both all together. Turns out, you can totally eat granola like trail mix. And since the recipe made a big batch (I had about three medium sized mason jars full) I was able to munch on it for almost two weeks. It made for the perfect mid-morning snack!

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Veggie Couscous

It took me three trips around the grocery store to figure out where to find the couscous—which ended up being on the bottom shelf in the rice aisle, by the way—but it was worth it. Couscous ended up being the fluffy love child of rice and quinoa I never knew I needed in my life. Did you know it cooks in, like, THREE MINUTES?! Talk about instant gratification. And then this recipe called for both sweet potatoes and zucchini to be simmered on the stove in broth with cinnamon, cumin and cayenne pepper and ahhhh my mouth is watering just thinking about it. Is it possible to miss couscous? To long for it? Because that’s what’s happening.

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Roasted Carrot & Avocado Salad

Since I could probably count the number of times “a salad” was my answer to the question, “what are you making for lunch?” on one hand, it was understandable why my sister stopped in her tracks when those words came out of my mouth on a Saturday afternoon. “You’re what?” she said, and I shrugged, pulling the carrots out of the oven, trying my best not to talk myself out of the whole thing. If you happen to be a fellow salad shunner, allow me to introduce you to our new friend. This salad is DELICIOUS. The carrots. The dressing. The avocado. The crunch of the sunflower seeds. I was genuinely sad when I finished this salad and I can’t wait until I make it again.

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Thai Seared Tuna Salad

While this goal is supposed to broaden my horizons in the kitchen, it has also opened my eyes to new corners of the grocery store. I mean, would you know where to find a tuna steak off the top of your head? Because I sure didn’t. But you better believe that when I found it—at the fresh fish counter—I ordered it like I’d done it all my life. “Yes, one pound of the tuna steak please.” This is another untraditional salad recipe, and my sister and I were pleasantly surprised by how filling it was. I did forego the Thai bird chiles (because I’m a baby that can’t handle spicy foods) and the cilantro (just because I hate it) but it was still delicious and made me feel like an accomplished adult capable of cooking something both healthy and yummy. Hummy? Yealthy? You get it.

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Thus far, I’d 100% recommend this cookbook for anyone looking to spice up their life. The recipes are different than anything I’ve ever made before, but they are not impossibly difficult, which is encouraging and fun. I look forward to many more mornings, afternoons and evenings spent in the kitchen half stressing out, half excitedly stirring, all while consistently and pridefully stuffing my face. Thanks, Chrissy!

The Spicy Chip Chronicles (Which Ones Stand Out Among the Rest?)

Have you ever had a craving for Hot Cheetos (or their spicy chip counterparts)?

Have you ever had this craving late at night?

Have you ever had this craving and made the trip to the grocery store, only to get there and be completely overwhelmed with options?

Unless you are like me—who only likes regular Cheetos so none of this is an issue—or you hate Cheetos all together—in which case, how dare you—you probably answered yes to at least one of these questions.

Don’t worry, we are here to help you. And by “we”, I mostly mean my roommates, Natalee and Rachel, who have “sacrificed” their time, energy and tastebuds to help you make one of life’s toughest choices.

They have taken this task seriously. Approaching each bag with as little bias as possible, and soaking in not only the taste, but the experience each chip provides its eater. For they know that the spice inclined snacker is not the average snacker.  They are a specific brand of snacking prowess, strict with their expectations and frank with their opinions.

So, without further ado, here are some opinions on the spicy chips of the world, to give you an idea of what you can expect from them, and whether or not they can cure your hangry helplessness on those late night (or early morning or whenever) snack runs.

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Cheetos Flamin’ Hot Puffs

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Rachel: I don’t think the spicyness is meant for this kind of chip. Do you know what I mean?

Natalee: *crunches and nods*

Rachel: Although they do take a little more work. It’s a crunch you can kind of…shovel.

Natalee: I agree. Not the best but puffs = portion control. So there’s that.

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flaminhotlimonCrunchy Flamin’ Hot Limon Cheetos

Rachel: I’ve tried these before and they are are probably my favorite, but they definitely make me feel the worst.

Natalee: Yeah, but the lime elevates it.

Rachel: It gives it depth.

Natalee: It’s not your average spice or crunch.

*both nod and crunch, satisfied*

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Crunchy Cheddar Jalapeño Cheetos

Natalee: *embodying the heart eye emoji* We all know how I feel about jalapeño.

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Rachel: *takes a bite* Mmm! I like these better than regular Cheetos.

Natalee: They’re not all that spicy though. Kind of misleading.

Rachel: It kind of tastes like Lawry’s Seasoning Salt on Cheetos. I like them!

Natalee: I would consistently choose Hot Cheetos over these, but in a time of need I could still pound this bag.

Rachel: And always these over regular.

Natalee: Puffs or these?

Rachel: These.

Natalee: Yeah, crunch is really an important factor. So yeah, those weren’t bad.

Rachel: I enjoyed those.

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Crunchy Flamin’ Hot Cheetos

Note: the bag we purchased featured a promotion for the Cheetos “Win What You See” competition which encouraged customers to send in pictures and descriptions of their oddest shaped Cheetos in order to win prizes inspired by what they see.cheetos-crunchy-flamin-hot

Natalee: Ah, old faithful.

*both grab large handfuls and begin holding individual Cheetos up at eye level to examine their shape*

Natalee: I just love hot Cheetos. Oh! I found a bird.

Rachel: Would you really want to win a vacation based on the shape of your Cheeto?

Natalee: Absolutely not. Honestly, just give me a free bag of Cheetos. *eats bird*

Rachel: I don’t think we really said anything about these but these are just my favorite.

Natalee: Yup.

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Lays Chile Limonimage

Rachel: Ew. I don’t like the taste. It’s acidic but not in a good, vinegary way. It tastes like it’s sour.

*Natalee twists her face, nodding.*

Rachel: It tastes like the smell of something bad in fridge

Natalee: Yeah, it’s the flavor of staleness. Just plain bottom of the barrel.

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XXXTRA flamin Hot

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Note: Our friend Will, a fellow spicy snack connoisseur, was in attendance for this tasting.

Rachel: Oh, these definitely smell much hotter than the original.

*walks into kitchen to grab bag of original Flamin’ Hot Cheetos*

*Natalee, Rachel, and Will each take turns smelling the different bags*

Will: They do smell hotter.

*collectively agree to taste the original to remember the “spice level.”*

Natalee: *crunching* You have to eat at least 10 regular hot Cheetos before they start to live up to their name.

*everyone nods in agreement*

Rachel: Okay, now for these ones. Grab a real chunky one.

Natalee: Let’s all take two.

Rachel: Oh, it’s spicy at the end!

Will: I think it’s more flavorful.

Natalee: Yeah, it’s more flavorful than it is spicy. *exhales* Woah, it is spicy at the end though.

*group applauds*

Natalee: Can you imagine these with lime?

Will: Holy shit, yeah, with lime. Talk about bang for your buck.

Natalee: It’s also another good one for portion control. If I needed something spicy I’d probably eat only, like, seven of these instead of 25 original ones.

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Since there is no shortage of spicy chips hitting shelves these days, you can consider this episode one of an ongoing snack series. If you have any suggestions for the tasters, please pass them along, their taste buds are always willing and ready!

Strain then Stir (Episode 5): Becoming a Member of the Squash Squad

Honest question: did you know there is more than one kind of squash?

Did you know there are more than ten different types of squash?

Yeah, well, I definitely DID NOT.

But I’m learning. And if I’m learning, than I think you should be learning—if only because squash is a delicious subject that you (and your taste buds) should know more about.

First off, let’s meet the squash family as a whole:

There’s:

  • Butternut Squash (a.k.a B’Nut)
  • Kabocha Squash (a.k.a Kabby)
  • Spaghetti Squash (a.k.a SpaSqua)
  • Acorn Squash (a.k.a Ace)
  • Sweet Dumpling Squash (a.k.a Sweetie D)
  • Sugar Pumpkin (a.k.a Sugar P)
  • Red Kuri Squash (a.k.a Big Red)
  • Delicata Squash (a.k.a DC)
  • Carnival Squash (a.k.a Carnee)
  • Buttercup Squash (a.k.a Baby B)
  • Blue Hubbard Squash (a.k.a Blubby)
  • Banana Squash (a.k.a Lil Nana)

I haven’t met the whole fam yet. In fact, I’ve really only dipped my toe into the squash squad. But if things keep going the way they’re going, I think I’m on track to be invited to Thanksgiving next year.

On that note, let me formally introduce you to the squash I already scheme with. The gourds I’m already getting down with. The—okay no, I think two was enough.

Note: All squash pictures (squash snapshots? squashots?) featured below belong to Food Network. I got them from this article, where you can find more recipes and information about the squash fam—though no cool nicknames!

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First up, Spaghetti Squash.

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SpaSqua was a love of my life I didn’t know existed for far too long. I’ve mentioned him in a previous post, but I feel it’s only fair to bring him back up—because WOW. I even have a folder on my computer marked “Spaghetti Squash recipes” that I fully intend on trying the minute I get my hands on another SpaSqua. In the meantime, here’s old faithful that first proved to me the spaghetti squash’s flavorful worth.

Spaghetti Squash

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On my to-do list:

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Next, Acorn Squash

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Ace was a squash I never thought I’d ever meet, but now that I have, I hope we never grow apart. Like any squash, I had to research what Ace was all about. How do I cut her? How do I cook her? How do I help her reach her maximum YUM? Enter this recipe stage right, which made all of my dreams come true. I made it without ground beef—because I forgot to buy it—but it was still delicious and filling and hey I feel healthy and not gross after I finished it. And I mean, what else can you ask for?

Stuffed Acorn Squash

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On my to-do list:

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And finally, Butternut Squash!

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I think it’s safe to say B’nut got his name because of his similarity in shape to a p’nut peanut. It’s also safe to say their similarities stop there—except if you count that they both have a hard exterior and a delicious surprise in the center, but other than that, they’re really totally different. After sifting through a bunch of different B’nut recipes, I ended up deciding on this pancake recipe, because I was in a breakfast for dinner type of mood, and I was pleasantly surprised at how moist and delicious they were! The recipe was super easy to follow, especially after I followed this advice on how to get a quick and easy “butternut squash mash” for the batter, and I personally thought the pancakes were great with honey on top.

Butternut Squash Pancakes

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On my to-do list:

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Y’all, just trust me on this: your world is better with squash in it. With allll the squash in it. And with fall officially here, it’s the perfect time to meet a squash you never met before. Tell them Kim sent you—some of them will know me.


 

Read the previous episode of Strain then Stir here.

Strain the Stir (Episode 4): I’ve Leveled Up!

Hello and welcome back to another episode of Strain Then Stir, a no-cameras, diary-esque cooking show blog where I attempt to transform myself from a two-meal Tina into a full course Frank…or at the very least, be capable of feeding myself more than cereal and pasta.

In the time since our last episode, and I don’t want to get cocky, but I think it’s safe to say I’ve leveled up.

As mentioned in my latest favorites post, I recently signed up for Imperfect Produce, which is a company that sells you fruits and vegetable which, while perfectly edible and delicious, are not quite “pretty” enough to be sold in stores. I signed up for the small box that comes every two weeks, and each Thursday before I get a new box, I get an email giving me the option to customize it.

Now, in an effort to improve my cooking ~skills~ I’ve tried not to make too many adjustments to each prepared box. Often when I log in to make my customizations, I just remove the foods I don’t like (such as lettuce or cilantro) and then leave the rest the same. That way, when I receive my box, I’m forced to look up recipes that incorporate both the ingredients I’ve been given and those I have in my kitchen, and I do my best to make something delicious!

Here are some of my favorite creations so far:

Steak & Nectarine Salad

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In one of my first boxes I received two nectarines. And since I’d never even tried a nectarine, I was not only worried whether I would like them, but I also had no idea how I could use them in a recipe. When I found this one however, I was sold. I even made a separate trip to the grocery store to pick up a cheap cut of steak. It was worth it. (Note: For anyone out there who is a fellow lettuce hater, I forwent it in this recipe and it was still absolutely delicious!) (Find the recipe here)

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Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Red Onions & Feta

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I am no stranger to the magic that is sweet potatoes, so when I got one in my box, I had a number of ideas pop into my head. This one however, helped me figure out a good way to combine a few things that I already had, as well as use one of the red onions I got in my box as well. (Find the recipe here)

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Spaghetti Squash

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Being an avid watcher of Food Network and skimmer of cooking blogs, I’ve heard my fair share about spaghetti squash. But after receiving one in my box, I still had to Google what it actually was. I had no idea how to cut it or what you do with it afterwards, and I wondered if my carb worshipping ways would hinder my ability to give it a fair chance. Thankfully, it took all of one bite to fall head over heels in love. Now, I’m not saying I’m breaking up with pasta or anything, but you can put it on the record that I’m having a full blown affair. (Find the recipe here)

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Apricot Smoothie

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Apricots were another fruit that I’d seen around but had never really made up my mind whether I liked them or not. On an average shopping trip, I never would have picked some up, but when I had four arrive in one of my boxes, I had to expand my horizons a little. I’ll admit however, I did do a good amount of procrastinating on these. Every day I’d vow to either bring one with me to work as a snack or bake a few into some kind of dessert, but then every day I’d forget or get lazy or just plain not want to. Sooner or later however, the apricots (with an assist by the hot summer weather) took matters into their own hands. They started to fade fast, threatening to be completely wasted, and so I finally took the time to find them a home. The end result was delicious and jump started me on a smoothie kick, so I guess thanks is in order, apricots! (Note: I used almond milk instead of yogurt, and vanilla extract instead of almond extract because that’s all that I had. It still tasted good though, and gave my morning a good fresh start!) (Find recipe here)

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Bonus Recipes:

In the spirit of my growing cooking confidence, for my family’s Fourth of July barbecue I decided to branch out and make two special dishes. These weren’t based on anything that came in my Imperfect Produce boxes, but rather foods I thought my family would enjoy. Thankfully, they were both a hit!

Jalapeno and Goat Cheese Grilled Stuffed Mini Peppers

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My sister is lactose intolerant, so oftentimes holidays like the Fourth of July will offer a bunch of delicious foods that she can’t have. In order to try and combat that on one of her favorite holidays, I made these which feature two of her favorite things: goat cheese and spice. It was a super quick and easy to follow recipe and both she and my dad loved them! Also, if you don’t like/can’t handle spicy food (a.k.a me), I made a few with just goat cheese and they were delicious as well! (Find the recipe here)

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Banana Cream Pie Muddy Buddies

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These were for my mom. Growing up, she often made Muddy Buddies for a wide variety of get togethers, so when I found these, I naturally thought of her, both for that reason, and because she instantly loves anything banana flavored. One tip I have for this recipe a la my mom: pour your Chex mixture into freezer sized Ziploc bags when you are ready to mix in the powdered sugar. That way, rather than trying to keep it all contained in a bowl, simply pour the sugar into the bag, zip it up and shake. (Find the recipe here)

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Here’s to another few months of trying my best, which, as it turns out, is getting better day by day! Who would’ve thought there was this great big world outside of pasta and cereal. (No offense pasta and cereal, I still love you.)


Read the previous episode of Strain then Stir here.