desperate measures

I have been cooking, I swear. I just fell into a rut where I basically ate spaghetti with kale, or lemon risotto, or crispy black bean tacos and that's about it. There just hasn't been much time or desire for experimenting lately, thus no new posts.

But now it's really cold and I've been having a bit of a cooking challenge: what can I make without leaving my apartment AND can be considered a meal? Some attempts are more noble than others. I do know now that coleslaw mix with a green onion, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and an array of spices is actually ok. Ugly, but ok. Also, almond butter is not a meal. It is delicious but will never seem to fill you up, just give you a stomach ache.

And so this is how I ended up making red lentil hummus. I doubt I'll ever make it again. The texture kind of grosses me out and regular hummus is so much better. But in case you've got the ingredients and don't want to leave the house for something better, here you go. And why yes, that IS homemade bread. That part was delicious, thank you. So much so that Matt told me, "This is really good! It tastes like actual bread." ... I chose to take it as a compliment.

Red Lentil Hummus
(via Chow.com)


2 cups water

1 cup dried red lentils

2 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped

3 tablespoons tahini

5 tablespoons olive oil (I used much less and just added more lemon juice)

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat water in a small saucepan over high heat until boiling. Add lentils and reduce heat to low. Simmer until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed, about 15 minutes. Drain through a fine mesh strainer and let cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes.
  2. Place lentils, garlic, and tahini in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment and pulse until lentils are broken up, about 10 pulses.
  3. With the motor running, add oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and blend until evenly incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and blend for 40 seconds more or until smooth.


creamy dill dressing

These past few days I think I've had more salads with my meals than since I went through that salad-for-everything phase in grade school. There are a couple of reasons for this- one is the ridiculously large (yet cheap!) tub of salad mix I found at Costco. But really I've gotten that before and all the good intentions of eating it could not make me pull the container from the back of the fridge. So the real reason must be this creamy dill dressing recipe I found. I'll gladly eat anything if you put mayo on it.

Creamy Dill Dressing
via cooks illustrated, kinda

1/4 c. mayo
1/4 c. plain yogurt

1 clove garlic, minced (I ran out of garlic and used garlic powder, which tasted fine)

1 T. fresh dill (I only had dried dill weed, which I just added to taste)

Mix. Yum.


lemon risotto

Sure, there really is no reason for me to have a Costco membership. I mean, yeah the samples are nice and I do enjoy the novelty of seeing a freezer completely devoted to waffles, but come on, I live alone. I do not need 36 toaster pastries and yet, I just love a bargain! I can't pass them up! Which is why I now have a 5lb bag of lemons and a case of broth. Necessary? Maybe not. But under what other circumstance would I be searching the internet for savory lemon recipes, find this one for lemon risotto, and then realize I have all the ingredients already? I didn't really see it coming, but this recipe got a 'this is so awesome' fist pump after I tried it. Super good.

Now if anyone has a recipe that uses up a lot of pears, let me know.

Lemon Risotto

Bon Appétit | May 2002

6 cups low-salt chicken broth
3 1/2 tablespoons butter

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

2 large shallots, chopped (I used one yellow onion)
2 cups arborio rice or medium-grain white rice

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

4 teaspoons grated lemon peel

Bring broth to simmer in large saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to low; cover to keep warm. Melt 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté until tender, about 6 minutes. Add rice; stir 1 minute. Add wine and stir until evaporated, about 30 seconds. Add 1 1/2 cups hot broth; simmer until absorbed, stirring frequently. Add remaining broth 1/2 cup at a time, allowing broth to be absorbed before adding more and stirring frequently until rice is creamy and tender, about 35 minutes. Stir in cheese and remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Stir in parsley, lemon juice, and lemon peel. Season risotto with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl and serve.


cheese straws

Last night I had some people over for a game night. I haven't been very social lately, so I got excited about it. I went to K Mart and got a new board game (Apples to Apples) and then headed over to the grocery store for some cheese straw and pizza dip fixins.

I'd already had the pizza dip a few years ago when Sarah had visited and she made it for a party. Just thinking about it made me drool, so I figured it was a good time to make it again. And it was again awesome. There are no pictures of this, as it was quickly eaten.

The cheese straws were also awesome. They tasted like a spicy Cheez-It. I'd had this recipe in my 'Things To Make' favorites folder for a while now and am so happy to have finally tried them.

Cheese Straws
from Smitten Kitchen, Adapted from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook

1 1/2 cups (about 6 ounces) grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick or 2 ounces) unsalted butter, softened and cut into 4 pieces
3/4 cup flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon half-and-half

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. In a food processor, combine the cheese, butter, flour, salt and red pepper in five 5-second pulses until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the half-and-half and process until the dough forms a ball, about 10 seconds.

3. On a lightly floured surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough into an 8- by 10-inch rectangle that is 1/8-inch thick. With a sharp knife, cut the dough into thin 8-inch strips, each 1/4- to 1/3-inch wide. Gently transfer the strips to an ungreased cookie sheet, leaving at least 1/4-inch between them. The dough may sag or may break occasionally in the transfer, but don’t be concerned — just do your best. The straws can be any length, from 2 to 10 inches.

4. Bake the straws on the middle rack for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the ends are barely browned. Remove from the oven and set the cookie sheet on a rack to cool.

5. Serve at room temperature.


spaghetti with braised kale

This picture isn't that great. It shows the meal reheated the day after. Normally I wouldn't even bother taking its photo let alone post it, but I had to share this recipe. It was so so so good. I will probably be making this once a week for a while. In fact, I may actually make it again tonight.

spaghetti with braised kale via Bon Appetit, Oct. 2009


1 pound lacinato kale (about 2 bunches), large center ribs and stems removed, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)

8 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 pound spaghetti

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (I added a lot more)

Finely grated Parmesan cheese


Rinse kale. Drain; transfer to bowl with some water still clinging.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add chopped onion and cook until soft and translucent, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes. Add sliced garlic and sprinkle with salt; cook until onion is golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add kale and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and toss until wilted, about 3 minutes. Cover pot and reduce heat to medium-low. Continue cooking until kale is very tender, stirring occasionally and adding water by teaspoonfuls if dry, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in medium pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid. Add cooked spaghetti to kale mixture in pot. Add lemon juice and 2 tablespoons reserved cooking liquid; toss to combine, adding more liquid by tablespoonfuls if dry. Sprinkle spaghetti with grated Parmesan cheese and serve.


cakewalk updates!

cakewalk has an improved look to the website, including.....

wait for it, WAIT for it!!!....

a drop down menu!

as well as some highlights from the wedding we shot recently. Check it out. Please.


no meal

I will go grocery shopping soon. I will go grocery shopping soon. I will go grocery shopping soon.

Brown rice and soy sauce = no meal.


souper bread

Woah. Woah woah woah. Just because I haven't been posting doesn't mean I haven't been cooking. Let me tell you a thing or two about a thing or two.

First of
all- I got a freaking bread maker. And I made me some damn good french loaves today. I'm too excited to write more about it right now. Just know that you should probably be jealous of me.

Second- the soup. Creamless creamy tomoto soup. Super easy and sooooo yummy. And not too bad for you either.

Creamless Creamy Tomato Soup (via Cooks Illustrated)


1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped medium (about 1 cup)
3 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)

Pinch hot red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes packed in juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 large slices sandwich bread , crusts removed, torn into 1-inch pieces
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion, garlic, red pepper flakes (if using), and bay leaf. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and their juice. Using potato masher, mash until no pieces bigger than 2 inches remain. Stir in sugar and bread; bring soup to boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until bread is completely saturated and starts to break down, about 5 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaf.

  2. Transfer half of soup to blender. Add 1 tablespoon oil and process until soup is smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to large bowl and repeat with remaining soup and oil. Rinse out Dutch oven and return soup to pot. Stir in chicken broth and brandy (if using). Return soup to boil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve soup in individual bowls. Sprinkle each portion with pepper and chives and drizzle with olive oil.

apple a day

lots of this going on lately. I'm hopefully going to a pumpkin patch/orchard this weekend, so hopefully the apple train won't be stopping any time soon. tooot tooot!


from grass to cheese

So this is about food, and also it's awesome. I can't wait to see the finished product.
Way to go Milk Products. I'm proud to know ya.


round two

I have tried it again! Thank you Claire and Sarah for your advice. I put the stove on looooow heat and shredded the cheese and it turned out much better- not perfect, but better. And, turns out, I don't think I really like grilled cheeses. They kind of hurt my stomach for not much payoff. So I think I'm just going to let this one go; we'll call it a draw.

And yes, that is a giant jar of mayo in the background. I mean, come on. Why not?


I thought this recipe was going to be awesome, but really it was just bland. Hopes were up, then promptly crushed.

scalloped potatoes (and hot dogs)

My boyfriend and I went to Wisconsin a couple of weeks ago. On the way back we stopped in Shullsburg to load up on cheese. I picked out (among others, of course) a smoked sharp cheddar and have had cheese belly ever since. So I made this scalloped potatoes recipe to try and use up some of it. After pulling it out of the oven and letting it cool, I anxiously bit into it.... and all I could taste was hot dogs. You see, my dad used to make dinner sometimes and it would generally be a box of scalloped potatoes with some sort of chopped up meat- hot dogs, ham, turkey ham, etc. And while I love my dad for trying, it seems to have ruined this meal for me.

Anyway, you'll probably have a different experience. Matt tried it and vouched for it not actually tasting like hot dogs. So if you're not a Runchey child, you'll probably like this.

p.s. - the dressing on the salad is whole mustard, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. I'm pretty into it lately.


the new egg

So grilled cheese is the new egg. In that it's something incredibly basic that I cannot figure out how to cook. This will not stand! So if you see a grilled cheese around tell it I've got a message for it. It goes like this:
Hi. My name is Mary-Claire. I will conquer you by year's end

Yeah, um you can feel free to embellish if you want. You know, make it a little scarier. More to come! Progress will be made!


birthday pizza party!

Ok not really. But it was recently my birthday and I got a bunch of really great gifts-all of which were total surprises. Do you see a theme here?
  • Johnny sent me a song that sounds like Daft Punk wishing my a happy birthday
  • Sarah made me an amazing cake that I have now had for breakfast five days in a row, not to mention homemade salsa and jams
  • Todd made me a sign that says "I (heart) mayo"
  • Jen gave me pretty white dishes to take food pictures on (you will be seeing a lot of them)
  • Heather made me cookies; Sophie made me blondies
  • Matt gave me a baking stone, a cookbook, and a bread machine!
I have no idea how I got so lucky, but I'm really very thankful for it.

So having listened to my song about ten times on repeat, and finally finally wanting something other than sweets for a meal, I decided to make a pizza, dough and all! And it actually turned out really yummy. I used a Cooks Illustrated dough recipe and hijacked a Bon Appetit toppings recipe and I shall call the concoction "28 is Great... for PIZZA". Ok, I'll work on the name, but really the recipe is good.

28 Is Great... for PIZZA
(or caramelized onion & mushroom pizza)

dough (via Cooks Illustrated)

1 3/4 cups water , warm (about 105 degrees)
1 envelope rapid-rise dry yeast
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour , plus extra as needed
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt

Vegetable oil (or cooking spray) for bowl


1. Set oven to 200 degrees for 10 minutes, then turn oven off.

2. Meanwhile, in bowl of food processor fitted with either metal or plastic blade, add water and sprinkle in yeast and sugar. Pulse twice to dissolve yeast. Add all remaining ingredients and process until mixture forms cohesive mass. Dough should not be sticky (if it is, add 2 more tablespoons flour and pulse briefly) nor should it be dry and crumbly (if it is, add 1 more tablespoons water and pulse briefly). Let rest for 2 minutes. Process for another 30 seconds.

3. Remove dough from food processor and knead by hand on floured work surface for 1 minute or until dough is smooth and satiny (dough will feel a bit tough at this point).

4. Very lightly oil large bowl with vegetable oil or cooking spray. Place dough in bowl (do not coat dough with oil) and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 40 minutes or until doubled. Remove from bowl, punch down, remove from bowl and separate into two round pieces. Let rest for 10 minutes under damp dish towel, then shape according to illustrations below, and add toppings.

5. Proceed to cook topped pizza in preheated 500-degree oven using the following guide to determine cooking time for pizza crust with topping but without cheese. All pizzas need to be cooked an additional two or three minutes after adding cheese, or until cheese is completely melted.

Toppings (adapted from Bon Appetit)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 8 oz mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 (5-oz) package Boursin garlic-herb cheese
Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then cook onions with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to moderate and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden, about 15 minutes more. Add mushrooms, reduce heat to low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft and deep golden brown, about 15 minutes more. Remove from heat and cool to warm, about 10 minutes.



Ungh. I guess the weather pushed the reset button on my stomach. Never hungry. Everything sounds gross. Come here, avocado.


vegetarian black bean chili with orange and cumin

After the fridge and cupboards were cleaned out, the monthly spreadsheet made, and the slight cheese relapse, I moved on to finding more budget-friendly recipes to make. Sarah had told me about this one a while ago, and then I came across it again while on this kick. I figured it was fate, so I made it. And it's really good. I can say that because I am now on daily heartburn medication and therefor this recipe was not allowed to eat my insides out.
So if you're well-medicated too, or have stock in Tums, then you should make this! After reading everyone's comments on Epicurious I modified the recipe a little and am pleased with the result. So here you go...

Vegetarian Black Bean Chili with Orange and Cumin

Yield: Makes 4 servings (plus leftovers) Active Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 30 minutes

2 oranges
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped onions
4 garlic cloves, pressed
4 teaspoons chili powder
4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
3 15.5-ounce cans seasoned black beans, drained
2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes in juice
Hot pepper sauce
plain yogurt
Chopped fresh cilantro

Grate enough orange peel to measure 1/2 teaspoon. Juice oranges. Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions; sauté 5 minutes. Mix in garlic and spices. Add beans, tomatoes, and half of orange juice. Simmer over medium heat until heated through and flavors blend, stirring often, about 15 minutes. Mix in orange peel and remaining orange juice. Season to taste with hot sauce, salt, and pepper. Ladle chili into bowls. Top with yogurt and cilantro. Pass extra hot sauce alongside.

port-salut edit

Right, ok. I'll just go back and edit that last post about not buying good cheese anymore. It was a cute idea and all, but come on, let's be real here. Cheese just makes me so happy. Who needs new clothes anyway?

Here are some facts about this delicious soft cheese (via Wikipedia):
  • Though Port Salut has a mild flavor, it sometimes has a strong smell because it is a mature cheese. The smell increases the longer the cheese is kept — this however does not affect its flavor.
  • The cheese was originally invented by Trappist monks during the 19th century at the abbey of Notre Dame du Port du Salut in Entrammes. The monks, many of whom had left France to escape persecution during the French revolution of 1789, learned cheese-making skills as a means of survival and brought those skills back with them upon their return in 1815. The name of their society, "Société Anonyme des Fermiers Réunis" (S.A.F.R.) later became their registered trademark, and is still printed on wheels of Port Salut cheese distributed today.


hey, did you know?

These past two weeks have not been so hot money-wise. You may have noticed this happens a lot. And you would be right. So I've lately been trying to actually sit down and figure out ways to get around it. I created a budget. I stopped buying fancy cheese (sad!). And now I have eaten almost everything in my fridge and cupboards. In doing so I made use of a handy trick I once read about. If you're unsure if eggs are still good or not, put them in a bowl of water. If they float, they're bad. If they stand upright on the bottom of the bowl, you should eat them in the next few days. If they lay on their sides on the bottom, what the hell are you worried about?

Now you know.


tomato and corn pie

Yes, you're right- this is a bad picture. Thank you for pointing it out. I don't have a flash, just get off my back for a second. But I had to post it so you would know what to make for your next meal, because that's exactly what it should be. I mean, cheese? mayo? biscuit-like topping? What's not to love, right? Right.

Tomato and Corn Pie
via smitten kitchen, adapted from Gourmet, August 2009

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 3/4 teaspoons salt, divided
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons or 3 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, plus 2 teaspoons melted
3/4 cup whole milk
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 3/4 pounds beefsteak tomatoes
1 1/2 cups corn (from about 3 ears), coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped basil, divided
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives, divided
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
7ounces coarsely grated sharp Cheddar (1 3/4 cups), divided

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and 3/4 tsp salt in a bowl, then blend in cold butter (3/4 stick) with your fingertips or a pastry blender until it resembles coarse meal. Add milk, stirring until mixture just forms a dough, then gather into a ball.

Divide dough in half and roll out one piece on a well-floured counter into a 12-inch round (1/8 inch thick). Fold the round gently in quarters, lift it into a 9-inch pie plate and gently unfold and center it. Pat the dough in with your fingers trim any overhang.

Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. Whisk together mayonnaise and lemon juice.

Cut an X in bottom of each tomato and blanch in a large pot of boiling water 10 seconds. Immediately transfer with a slotted spoon to an ice bath to cool. Peel tomatoes, then slice crosswise 1/4 inch thick and, if desired, gently remove seeds and extra juices. Arrange half of tomatoes in crust, overlapping, and sprinkle with half of corn, one tablespoon basil, 1/2 tablespoon chives, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper and one cup of grated cheese. Repeat layering with remaining tomatoes, corn, basil, chives, salt, and pepper. Pour lemon mayonnaise over filling and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Roll out remaining piece of dough into a 12-inch round in same manner, then fit over filling, folding overhang under edge of bottom crust and pinching edge to seal. Cut 4 steam vents in top crust and brush crust with melted butter (2 teaspoons). Bake pie until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, 30 to 35 minutes, then cool on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.


greek-style penne with fresh tomatoes, feta, and dill

I came across this recipe while searching for ways to use up the dill and parsley I'd bought for the feta salsa. I halved the recipe and made it for lunch today with some heirloom tomatoes I got at the farmer's market yesterday. Just writing about it is making my mouth fill with drool. You should make this.

Greek-Style Penne with Fresh Tomatoes, Feta, and Dill
Bon Appétit | August 2002
  • 2 pounds tomatoes, halved, seeded, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped green onions (white and pale green parts only)
  • 7 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 6 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 ounces penne pasta
Mix first 6 ingredients in large bowl. Set tomato mixture aside.

Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain. Add hot pasta to tomato mixture and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.


feta salsa and rosemary flatbread

Wow. Flatbread is so easy. New favorite thing to make I think. My dip world has been blown wide open by this new discovery.

Oh, and if you decide to make the feta salsa, here's some advice-- if you're probably lactose intolerant but still kinda in denial about it (because of your love for cheese), you don't want to gorge on this. It'll be hard not to, but trust me on this. The alternative is much much worse and embarrassing for everyone. I mean... that's the rumor... I wouldn't know or anything because I don't have that problem.

Crisp Rosemary Flatbread
Adapted from Gourmet, July 2008 (via Smitten Kitchen)

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary plus 2 (6-inch) sprigs
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup olive oil plus more for brushing
Flaky sea salt such as Maldon

Preheat oven to 450°F with a heavy baking sheet on rack in middle.

Stir together flour, chopped rosemary, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Make a well in center, then add water and oil and gradually stir into flour with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. Knead dough gently on a work surface 4 or 5 times.

Divide dough into 3 pieces and roll out 1 piece (keep remaining pieces covered with plastic wrap) on a sheet of parchment paper into a 10-inch round (shape can be rustic; dough should be thin).

Lightly brush top with additional oil and scatter small clusters of rosemary leaves on top, pressing in slightly. Sprinkle with sea salt. Slide round (still on parchment) onto preheated baking sheet and bake until pale golden and browned in spots, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer flatbread (discard parchment) to a rack to cool, then make 2 more rounds (1 at a time) on fresh parchment (do not oil or salt until just before baking). Break into pieces.

Flatbread can be made 2 days ahead and cooled completely, then kept in an airtight container at room temperature.

mushroom & leek soup with thyme cream

I finally made it to the farmer's market last weekend and bought some leeks and mushrooms, among other things. It being one of the few really hot days of the summer I decided to make this earthy soup. Nothing like sweating while you eat. I will definitely be making it again this fall.

Mushroom and Leek Soup with Thyme Cream
via Epicurious

1/2 cup heavy cream
3 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
2 pounds crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (10 1/2 cups)
3 large leeks, white and pale green parts only, cut into 1/4-inch dice (2 1/2 cups)
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Using electric mixer, beat cream just until soft peaks form. Fold in 2 teaspoons thyme. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours to blend flavors. (Thyme cream can be made up to 1 day ahead. If cream separates, whisk until soft peaks re-form. ) Remove from refrigerator 1 hour before serving to come to room temperature.

In 4-quart stock pot over moderately high heat, heat 2 tablespoons butter until hot but not smoking. Working in 2 batches (add 2 more tablespoons butter before second batch), cook mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Transfer to large bowl.

In same stock pot over moderate heat, heat remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Stir in leeks, cover, and cook, stirring often, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add cooked mushrooms, sprinkle with flour, and stir until flour is evenly distributed. Stir in stock, then salt, pepper, and remaining 1 teaspoon thyme. Bring to boil, stirring often, then reduce heat to low, set lid ajar, and simmer 20 minutes. (Soup can be made up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated, covered. Reheat before serving.)

Divide soup among 8 bowls and top each portion with dollop of thyme cream. Serve immediately.


torte law

I have now perfected the savory torte. Come visit me and I'll make it for you.


monday lunch

Grape tomatoes, yogurt, green onions, salt & pepper. And of course a bottle of Coke. Perfect way to look over the list of bands you saw at Pitchfork the day before.

Thanks summer, for just being you.


website up!

As many of you know, I am in the process of starting a photo studio with my friend Heather. And now our website is up! It's by no means finished, but we're getting there. Please check it out and let me know what you think. I would really appreciate any feedback you can give.




Gougeres recipe via Smitten Kitchen

lime & peanut slaw

Lime & Peanut Coleslaw via 101 Cookbooks

Sorry no posts for a while. I've been going through some things with the internet. The fake intimacy of it has started to bother me and made me re-evaluate this blog, Facebook, and some other things. So I'm stepping back for a while. I'll still post pictures and recipes, but that's going to be about it. If you want to know what I'm up to, call me. I'd love to hear from you. Otherwise, just enjoy the pictures.



I think one of the reasons it took me so long to get into cooking is because I'm a ditz. Well, maybe spacey is a better word for it. I have a habit of starting to boil water for tea, then walking away and forgetting about it until almost all of the water has evaporated. In general I forget about one ingredient for every three recipes I make. At first it was really frustrating, but really I've been dealing with this my whole life and so now it takes a lot for me to have a real 'duh mary-claire. duh.' moment. The above image is one of them.

I somehow managed to pick out, purchase, open, measure, and food process (?!?! really mary-claire??) a bunch of olives with pits in them. And this is a recipe I make a lot. I just didn't even think about it until I bit into the first pit in my pasta.

So that's the reason my food processor almost fell off the counter. Well huh.


appetizers for dinner

Some people enjoy having breakfast for dinner as a treat. I personally enjoy appetizers for dinner days. I try to save it for when I'm really tired, busy, or hung over. Tuesday was all three, so I went big. I bought some ricotta cheese and mixed in fresh thyme, salt, pepper, and some red pepper. Then I roasted a pint of grape tomatoes, sliced a fresh baguette and went to town. Good food fixes a lot.



I owe my sister Sarah a lot. She has been hands-down one of the most influential people in my life- introducing me to ska, Beatles movies, They Might Be Giants, and feminist literature to name a few. Let's add a new one to that list, shall we? A couple of weeks ago she called me telling me I needed to try a vodka and tonic. I initially dismissed it, thinking it would just taste like college. Then after some hounding I finally tried it. Woah! Now I'm hooked. Hands down the drink of Summer '09. Thanks sissy!



You know what's awesome? When you're walking to the thrift store on your lunch break and your boyfriend calls and asks if you want a lemon meringue pie and he bikes up to give it to you and then you go home and eat it at your kitchen table with your cat in your lap and feel the sun shining for the first time in days and right then everything feels like it's absolutely going to be ok.

Some days are diamonds.

curried chickpea and cauliflower stew

After moving on the first, I didn't have internet until yesterday, so it was all Amish for me for a while. That's absolutely not true. I had lights, I rode in cars, I zipped up my pants, but it all felt very old timey without the magic box. To get recipes I had to look in this thing called a magazine and flip through its pages. My boyfriend actually had to call 411. Yeah, that does still exist. It's cool, I didn't know either.

So I looked through my old Bon Appetits and actually made some of those recipes I dog-ear every month. Turns out they're really good! Last week it was an awesome oil and vingegar potato salad. Unfortunately I only seemed to make it late at night and then finish the left-overs by the time I remember to take a picture of it the next day (this actually happened twice). I'm sure I'll make it again next week, so just cool your jets.

Last night I went with the curried chickpea and cauliflower stew recipe. Oh my! So simple, so tasty, I'm all aflutter. I forgot that cooking is fun when there's good food at the end! Don't call it a comeback, cause I never left.

...and I'm back

So I'm back. In so many ways. I've moved- my concentration is back, finally. I feel more focused than I have in months. My counter tops are tiny, but I have walls!! And these walls have doorways!! If you've seen my last two places you know how exciting this is for me. Also, you no longer have to walk through my closet to get to my bathroom. Because I don't have a closet. But I'm working on it. Above are some pictures of my dividing wall (geeee!), and my tiny counter (singular).

I'm also back on cooking. I've gotten my avocado thing down to lunch a couple days a week and that's it. The rest of the time I eat actual meals! That I make! And will soon post! And I saw Senior Ponytail on the street the other day and he said hi. So I think mija is just around the corner.


I wasn't kidding.

You may have thought I was exaggerating with the avocado thing. Nope.


my burrito is cooler than yours

Ok, so I can't really take credit for this one. Except for the chopping, that was totally all me. The picking out of ingredients, cooking, and assembly awards go to Matt. Here's what was in this beast- cheese, mushrooms, baby spinach, tomato, eggs, veggie Italian sausage.... maybe more, but that's all I can remember.

I have a cold. My brain is real fuzzy. Like it's hard to cross the street fuzzy. Space out and drool while you're brushing your teeth fuzzy. Mouth breathing fuzzy. The last one is the hardest. One of my favorite pastimes is mocking mouth breathers, and here I am one of them. A less fuzzy-thinking person may find a lesson in this.

there's a new meal in town

Move over cereal. You're cool and all, but I'm out of milk. Plus I really want the ponytail guy at the Laura Carniceria to like me and call me mija, so it's been all avocado all the time for me. I'll keep you posted on the friendship building. I'm hoping high fives by August.



Not much to post for a while. Winter is gone and she seems to have taken my appetite with her.

For a couple of weeks the only thing that sounded good (or rather, that didn't sound disgusting) was toast. Luckily this week I've found something to spice things up- cereal. In the past two days, five of my meals have been this. I'm sure it'll get better once I get used to things again, not to mention when I've finally moved and can settle down. For now I've just had to make a few small adjustments- replace caffeine with ice water, and wash my bowls more frequently.


happy mother's day

Happy Mother's Day! Here's to my mom, who will always calmly and patiently answer any panicked cooking question I call with. And who has an uncanny knack of knowing right when I'm hungry and then calling me to describe the good stuff she's making.



Some day I'll probably look back on this time of my life with nostalgia. Maybe I'll think about how free I was, with no real responsibilities and all sorts of future ahead of me. If this happens, I hope the future me also gets the taste of ramen in her mouth. Just to remind her it's not all that great a lot of the time. In fact there are days, or even weeks let's say, when the money is non existent, the neighbors are loud, and you're downright cranky.


In case you ever wondered, this is where the name of this blog came from. I work from home, don't judge me.


how do you like them crapples?

Lesson learned- don't buy a bag of apples at Target.


cokey cola.

Warm weather. Less food and cooking, more bottles of Coke from the Mexican grocery store around the corner. One time I made up a song to the music of Beyonce's Single Ladies. It goes like this: "cokey cokey cola, cokey cokey cola". It may not seem so cool when it's written out. Hrm.

Coke bottles always remind me of that kid in Please Don't Eat the Daisies. He sits in his little cage and says "cooooooookey coooooooooola." It's adorable. Too bad no one has really seen that movie, if they had I'm sure I would get a lot more laughs when I do that. Maybe people would even chime in. People don't get enough Doris nowadays. (watch the video for 27 seconds to see the lil' guy do it)

...and these are my thoughts on Coke. I'm real tired.

tofuled me

I tried making tofu for the first time a couple of days ago. It was from Martha Stewart, who I'm finding out is an incredibly cryptic recipe writer. None of the details of Cooks Illustrated. And I love details, so that part bothers me. I mean, if I could fill out a form before I cooked that would really be ideal. This is how much I love details. Sometimes I make a check list for myself of simple things like 'pet the cat' just so I get to a.) try and make the boxes as square as possible, and b.) get to check them off in an orderly fashion. I think it's because I'm a virgo. But that's neither here nor there.

The whole thing ended up being just ok. I've been in something of a cooking slump lately. Everything I make has been coming out on the 5 or 6 portion of the 1-10 scale of awesomeness. I need a 10. Just one 10, or maybe even a 9, and I'll get my oomph again. Hopefully.
So here's the recipe if you want it. Maybe you'll have better luck.


on blast like TNT so

So I'm moving. That part is decided. The problem is I've been debating between moving into the crummy yet cheap apartment downstairs or finding a place with my friend and business partner Heather. For a normal person this would be a tough decision- they would most likely reflect on it for a while, then choose the right one for them and go with it. For me this is a huge deal. I cannot make a decision to save my life. I hate them. One of my greatest wishes is to have a personal stylist because I can't even figure out which pants to wear in the morning ('does this look dumb or awesome? dumb! no awesome! shit, I'm just going to change'). So this whole process of figuring out what to do involves lots of me bringing the subject up to anyone who will listen, asking them to tell me what to do, hours of fretting, and multiple pros and cons lists.

On my walk to coffee today I was reminded I'd forgotten to put a pro down on the staying side. I live by a high school and walk past it almost daily. When I first moved here I thought this was a con. I had to shove through crowds of rough looking, gel haired teenagers and it felt a lot like junior high again. Lots of me walking with my head down and saying 'excuse me' really quiet, while more often than not getting pushed. Then that whole head down thing started to pay off. I had forgotten that teenagers are that lovely combination of horrible, active poets and incredibly unorganized. This means they drop a lot of their bad poetry (and rap!) on the ground, for introverted girls like myself to find while going to get their happy-time juice.

The small one above is what I found today. The two-page poem (r&b song?) is my favorite that I've picked up there.


more like looooooooooooove

They call it Friendship Tea, but I think we have progressed beyond that. Ladies & gentlemen, I'd like to introduce you to my Relationship Tea. As I brewed some Irish Breakfast this morning I can't really say that we're exclusive, but I CAN say that it has my heart.