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New Year, Same Resolution…

Write more. Here. There. Write more. Buy stamps. Remember your camera. Remember to take pictures with your camera. Write more.  Maybe in cursive. Figure out how to write capital Q in cursive. Rinse. Repeat.

So, it’s been…a while. Where have I been?

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blog1…Around.

But I’m here now, so I guess I’ll be seeing you once in a while.

It’s good to be home.

xx

C

 

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Mother’s Day Gift Guide

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It’s almost Mother’s Day! May 12th! My most favorite day of the year!

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My whole life my mom has been spoiling me: one random Tuesday my brother and I came home from school to find gifts (a lava lamp for him, a giant mesh hanging butterfly for me) set up in our rooms; the month before 8th grade graduation, she called me in sick to school and took me dress shopping at the fancy mall an hour away; when I moved to Colorado for college, she drove the entire 20+ hours so I could sleep off my hangover…That’s serious selflessness! She deserves more than just one special day, but I do love that there is an official holiday just to celebrate her.

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I admit I hit the jackpot in the Mama lottery, but even if you aren’t besties with your mom, she still got stretchmarks for you, endured your crummy middle school band performance, and gave you plenty of stand-up comedy material. Make her brunch, take her to the Botanical Gardens to see the rare orchid exhibit, tell her you love her, and give her one of these (click on the link to go to website):

Because it’s Hot to Keep Cool–bright hat, $16.99

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Because Turning the Camera Off while Shooting is only Funny the First 100 Times–easy digital camera, $164.95

cameraBecause She Deserves Better than 1-800 Flowers–tulip and iris bouquet, $62

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Because Your Mama is the Chicest Shopper at the Farmer’s Market–french market basket, $48

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Because Your Mom is Sweet, and Likes ’em, Too–zingermann’s baked goods, $50

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Because it’s Spring!–bright blazer, $89.50

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xo

Not an Oxymoron: Delicious Vegan Cupcakes

Posted on

On Friday, I went to a housewarming party and offered to bring the desserts….and then I remembered the hostess is vegan. D’oh! I had a moment of panic where I seriously considered bringing fruit or popcorn–but then I started searching the internet. After reading hundreds of comments on at least a dozen recipes and studying a variety of articles, I came to the following conclusions: flaxseed, applesauce, and coconut oil are all over-rated fat substitutes. So I decided to look for a recipe that was either banana or pumpkin based–and then I remembered that Hummingbird Cake (the new red velvet) incorporates both!

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This cake is bursting with flavors of pineapple, caramelized banana, and salty pecans. The texture is just sublime–crumby and moist. Although I would have preferred a cream cheese frosting, this drizzly icing does a more than adequate job. I would happily make these again, and not just for a vegan crowd! The recipe below is so heavily modified from Boulder Locavore it seems ridiculous to even link it, but if you’d like to see the original inspiration, click on over.

Cake (makes 12):

-2 large bananas, roasted and smashed

-1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

-1 tsp cinnamon

-1/2 tsp baking soda

-1/2 tsp salt

-1/2 cup sugar

-1/2 cup light brown sugar

-1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp canned pumpkin

-1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp grape seed oil

-1 tsp vanilla

-1/2 cup fresh pineapple

-1/2 cup chopped pecans

Directions:

1.) Roast bananas-peel on-in a 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes, until skins are black. Remove peel and mash bananas in a bowl. Set aside.

2.) In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.

3.) In a small bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, sugars, vanilla and oil.

4.) Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to combine.

5.) In a small bowl, crush the pineapple with forks until thread-like.

6.) Add the mashed banana and the crushed pineapple/juice to the batter.

7.) Fold in the chopped pecans.

8.) Divide evenly among 12 cupcake liners. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting.

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Frosting:

-1 cup of vegan margarine

-3 tsp vanilla

-4 cups powdered sugar

-1-3 tsp vanilla rice or almond milk

Directions:

1.) Using an electronic mixer, whip the margarine on high until light and fluffy, about 5 to 6 minutes.

2.) Add the vanilla and powdered sugar, and beat until incorporated.

3.) Depending on the texture, add 1 to 2 tsp of the milk substitute.

4.) Place inside pastry bag or ziploc with the corner snipped off. Drizzle over the top of cupcakes, and adorn with pecan.DSC_0254

Enjoy!

xo

 

Weird Zit Zappers That Work

Everyone has her thing: some women fuss over their hair, others fixate on their body, but the object of my obsession has always been my skin.

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Thanks largely to genetics, but also to a diligent routine, my face has mostly been smooth and clear my whole life. So naturally, I’m especially wary of break outs. caitskin

Confession: I am guilty of crying, bargaining with God, and canceling plans all due to a zit. But here’s the thing: when I do get a zit, it is usually of the deep, painful, cystic variety. Over the past 15 years,  I have tried literally EVERY zit zapper on the market: cortisone shots (by a licensed esthetician), various birth control pills, a prescription of spironolactone from my dermatologist, Mario Badescu drying lotion, red clay, green clay, Proactiv, Clinique, Erno Laszlo sea mud soap, tea tree oil, and every drugstore product on the shelves. I shudder at the hundreds (thousands?) of dollars I’ve spent on the search for a magic cure, but feel confident that I’ve found the best blemish fighters on the planet. These three products below are my holy grail zit zappers:

1. Zeno

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This tiny battery powered device runs through a 2 min 30 sec heat pulsing cycle that kills bacteria. When applied to a sore spot even before a zit erupts, and then twice to three times a day after it does push its way into the world, this tiny technology either stops a blemish before it truly even blooms, or shortens its life span to just two days flat. This can be used on cystic acne or even more superficial whiteheads. Honestly, this is the best acne fighting tool EVER. Seriously, go buy this. Right now.

2. Cortisone + aspirin (optional) + band-aid

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Cortisone shots can range from $10-$50, and have been a celebrity staple for decades. This home-remedy is nearly as strong, and a helluva lot more convenient. Simply apply a thick dollop of extra strength cortisone cream, cover with a tiny band aid, and voila! Your blemish will be significantly reduced within 6 hours, and completely gone after two nights. As an added blemish fighter, crush up an aspirin and mix it in with the cortisone to form the ultimate spot treatment. I typically use this on painful “under-grounders” on my chin and jawline.

3. Honey

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Really. Honey is a natural anti-microbial, stays put all night, and keeps skin ultra soft (so it’s easier to conceal the next day). As I’ve mentioned a dozen or so times, I have uber-sensitive skin…as in I pop a Benadryl to fight redness, irritation, or hives at least once per month. Honey is one of the few spot treatments that is effective at treating blemishes while also moisturizing my skin. I find this to be especially good on spots on the center of my face (nose and cheeks). Added bonus? The boyfriend compliments how sweet I smell when I come to bed!

Would you try any of these nontraditional spot treatments?

xo

Perfect Valentine’s Day Dinner

As I explained in my Valentine’s post last year, I am a big believer in staying in on the big V-day. It’s the perfect time of year to cozy up on the couch with your lover, your cat, your roommates, your SATC dvd’s, whomever–and relax. And, surprise surprise, I suggest relaxing with some pig-meat and booze: Pan-seared pork tenderloin in a cranberry, rosemary, and citrus scented red wine reduction. CLASSY!

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But really, this dish is divine–intensely flavorful without being too rich, decadent but not overly expensive, deceptively simple and easy to make, and just so darn pretty!

You’ll need:

1. Pork tenderloin, around 1 lb

2. 1/2 yellow onion, chopped

3.  2 cloves garlic, minced

4. 1 cup dried unsweetened cranberries

5. 2 cups good red wine (whatever you have on hand and like to drink)

6. 3-4 sprigs fresh rosemary (tip: use kitchen scissors to quickly and finely cut)

7. 1 tbsp orange zest (I used a clementine, because that’s what I had on hand)

8. 1/4 cup brown sugar

Olive oil, salt and pepper

Steps:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degree. Heat a couple glugs of olive oil in large pan until shimmering but not smoking.

2. Pat dry the tenderloin, and generously salt and pepper. Drop into the very hot pan, searing on each side for about 1 minute. Transfer to foil lined baking pan. Tent with foil and roast in oven for 15 minutes. Meanwhile…

3. In the same pan you seared the tenderloin, cook the chopped onion and garlic until beginning to brown.

4. Add the wine, brown sugar, cranberries, rosemary and orange zest, scraping the bottom of the pan to get the stuck bits of meat and onions up. Continue to simmer until the meat comes out of the oven.

5. Remove the tenderloin from the oven and let rest for 2-3 minutes. Add the tenderloin and its juices to the pan with the wine, and baste the meat while continuing to cook for another 2-3 minutes.

6. Serve meat with generous heaping of cranberry chutney and sauce.

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Do you have plans for February 14th?

xox

 

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

This soup here? Right here?

It’s the answers to all of a winter’s night’s biggest questions. What’s for dinner? This soup. How can I clear my sinuses? This soup. What will warm me up without breaking the bank or making me itch/sweat/ugly? This soup.

Smoky and spicy, this hearty soup is filled with rice and topped with pepitos. If I could find black beans in Denmark, I certainly would have added those as well. And a dollop of sour cream would also complement this perfectly. But, alas, I used what I had on hand, which was pretty basic.

Giving the peppers a little rub down…Nate was jealous.

Ingredients:

-6 cups stock (I used vegetable, but chicken would work and beef would be best)

-6 large red peppers (I used 14 of the super skinny kind)

-2 medium onions, chopped

-2 cloves garlic, minced

-1 cup chopped carrots (I used about 8 baby carrots)

-1 heaping tsp cumin

-1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

-1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary (1 tsp dried)

-2 tbsp chopped fresh basil (2 tsp dried)

-1/4 cup whole milk or heavy cream

-olive oil

-salt and pepper to taste

-1 to 2 cups cooked rice (I used brown)

-handful of pepitos as garnish

This recipe is based off of The Joy of Cooking’s Roasted Red Pepper Soup, but I added the southwestern flair because I am one-quarter Mexican*.

How to:

1. Cut peppers in half and remove seeds. Lay on baking sheet cut side down. Brush with olive oil and broil until skin is blistered, 5-10 minutes.

2. In large stock pot, saute onion, carrot, and garlic until golden but NOT brown, approximately 10 minutes.

3. Once peppers have cooled enough to handle, peel the skins off and discard. (I stupidly ignored the Joy of Cooking’s suggestion to place hot peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 15 minutes. De-skinning was a bitch, but in the end the little bits I couldn’t remove were blended into oblivion, so there’s no real need to obsess…)

4. Add the peppers, spices, and stock to the stockpot and bring to a boil. Partially cover and reduce to simmer for 20-30 minutes.

5. Remove from heat and add the milk or cream. Blend in batches or use an immersion blender to blend until smooth.

6. Add cooked rice, stir.

7. Add salt and pepper to taste.

8. Serve and garnish with pepitos, black beans, or sour cream.

*The other three-quarters are mash-up of Italian, Southern BBQ, and County Fair fried-dough deliciousness.

Before…

After.

Thanks, Nate, for growing fresh herbs for me!

Enjoy!

Happy New Year!

It’s 2013–YIPEE!!!!!!

In the last 3 years, I have welcomed the New Year in NYC, Ann Arbor, and Copenhagen. All have their merits, but I have to say that Copenhagen’s celebration is literally surreal. As soon as night fell (at around 3:00 pm….really), we started hearing the thunderclaps of fireworks. Like, real fireworks. Like, the kind of fireworks you have to cross over to Ohio to buy, but are totally legal and sold to 12-year-olds here. The entire sky pulsed with light as thousands (tens of thousands?) of people set off fireworks. Nate and I were stunned to see at least half of the people drunkenly stumbling around and watching the city-wide sky show were wearing protective goggles! It really was THAT intense! The pictures do not, of course, capture the sight or sound of an entire city beneath a sparkling and singing sky, but here are a few pics anyway:

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The excitement continued this morning, via nutella-and-banana stuffed french toast, bacon, and mimosas:

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Easy, delicious, and healthy! Right? Because of the bananas? Don’t tell me I already broke my resolution to lose the 10 pounds I gained since moving to Denmark….

You know what? Look at this, and tell me it’s not WORTH IT!

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I really didn’t do anything special to make this, but here are a few general tips to ensure delicious french toast, stuffed or plain, every time:

1. Use slightly stale bread. If you are like me, and use two pieces of bread and then forget about the whole loaf for an entire week, this should be no problem. If you are normal and not wasteful, simply leave a few pieces out the night before.

2. Beat 6 eggs and add at least 1/2 cup of milk. I know this seems like a lot of liquid, but that’s what makes this toast French, and not plain ol’ American.

3. Always add a splash of vanilla and tons of cinnamon to the egg mixture. Feel free to add nutmeg, ginger, and/or whatever other spice tickles your tongue.

4. If stuffing, make sure to use a binding element on the edges–nutella is ideal, but regular butter works well, too.

5. For goodness sakes, let the bread hang out in the egg mixture for a while! Give it a proper bath, at least one minute long per side.

6. I like to let my soaked bread babies drip over a piece of tin foil (for easy clean up) on a wire cookie rack while the butter heats up nicely.

7. Lots of butter (at least 2 tbsp) + medium heat = perfectly browned french toast. It requires patience, but do NOT put toast in the pan until the butter is bubbling and gorgeous. And never, NEVER! use high heat. It will turn your french toast into soggy-egg-tasting-sad-sacks-of-grossness.

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As a pre-french toast treat, I made peppermint-mocha-lattes.

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It was pretty much the perfect way to welcome 2013!

I hope you have the best year ever! Or, at the very least, I hope you laugh more than you cry, eat some really great food with some even greater people, and don’t have any of your embarrassing pictures/videos hacked and leaked on the internet.

Love,

Caitlin