Monday, November 28, 2011

Thoughts from the Tarmac

So yesterday, Tyler and I decided to travel back to good ol' San Antone from California. Easy task? No. After missed connections, hours on the tarmac, and new flights, we made it to SA five hours after we were supposed to land. While stuck on the Tarmac at around 7:30 AM and while still half-asleep, I decided the best use of my time would be to write a blog post from my tiny iPhone. This is what came out...enjoy!


We are stuck on the Tarmac in San Jose, California right is too foggy to take off. Probably a bad idea to take off if we can't see the runway is my husband's logic, and I agree immensely. I only regret that I forgot the tasty lunch I packed at his parents house and my decision to wait till we landed in LAX to get a snack. Oh airport close but so far away. I will say, I get nervous every time I see someone headed to relieve themselves in the plane facilities...the idea of overflowing toilets in a confined space after thanksgiving with no air-freshner and not enough consumable ethanol to trick my brain into thinking I'm near a taco bell, is a less than ideal situation one might say.

The pilot just told us the weather has gotten worse with time. Overflowing toilets: 1, Mita: 0

Anyways, now is as good a time as any to become proficient in my all too tiny iPhone key pad to write this blogpost. This trip was incredibly fun and painfully short...however there was one notable peculiarity, Tyler and I started off with two bags between us, and ended with five.

My husband, trying to comprehend the magnitude of stuff that we are taking back to our relatively small house of course blamed me, "maybe next time we dont end up with five pairs of shoes." Here, on the 27th day of November of the year 2011, I would like it to be noted by all four of you that read my blog (including the aforementioned husband) that I only purchased one pair of shoes and brought with me two pairs. Being of the female gender and realizing I cannot wear my chucks with a green sweater dress (a concept lost on my always fashionable husband), this seems a reasonable amount of footwear. The other two pairs were gifted to me by my dear mother and my mother-in-law. The first was a reasonable pair of sandals, both classic and comfortable--therefore foolish to turn down. The others were brightly colored ked-type shoes with streaks of purple. As an aficionado of all things purple and shiny, these were a must have...never mind that they don't fit perfectly, much like the smart stepsister that never made into them mainstream version of Cinderella, I make my feet fit the shoe.

So reader, you can seem how five pairs were not only necessary but also easy to accumulate.

More salient to my argument that I am not at fault in the suitcase dibocal is the fact that he recieved a large quantity of new apparel, that is taking up the bulk of the suitcase space. Now of course I have no problem with his newly acquired clothing as it will add diversity to his tri-chromatic wardrobe, I am simply defending both my honor in travel-packing and my ability, nay, my right, to accumulate footwear.

Oh good, they are serving us drinks while stuck on the Tarmac, that will certainly help he growing bathroom line.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Bars with a Hazelnut Almond Shortbread Crust (Gluten Free)

One excellent thing about being at home--I get to try out all kind of gluten free recipes. My dearest mother does not partake of gluten or any wheat product, and a lot of what you and I think of as "regular food" isn't so regular for her. 
It was too tasty for me to pause and take picture

So I love to try out different recipes that are typically gluten-ful, and turn them into gluten free! One such recipe: pumpkin bars. 

Pumpkin pie bars are exactly what they sound like, pumpkin the form of portable lovely bars. 

By the way, as a side note, I must say I am quite happy that it's fall/winter season and pumpkin is back. I missed it so much, and I always forget because by the end of the holiday season, I'm pumpkined out. 

Anyways, usually pumpkin pie bars are made with a regular shortbread crust, so instead, I made them with the hazelnut-almond shortbread crust. Super easy, totally gluten free. 

So, if you're having someone at your Thanksgiving table who is gf, then try this on for size. 

Pumpkin Pie Bars w/ Hazelnut-Almond Shortbread Crust
modified from


1 cup almond meal
1/2 cup raw, hazelnuts (filberts) 
0.25 tsp. salt
0.5 tsp. vanilla extract 
0.5 cup unsalted butter, room temperature 
0.5 cup light brown sugar


1 15-oz. can of pumpkin puree (2 cups) 
2 eggs
0.74 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
0.5 tsp. ground ginger
0.125 tsp. ground cloves (0.125 = 1/8)
0.5 tsp. salt
1.5 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350F 

Place the hazelnuts on a bakeware tray and put them in the oven to toast for about 10 minutes, or until they are fragrant. 

After that, pull them out, put them in a bowl, and cover them with another bowl completely. Leave them their to steam for about five minutes. To get the peels off, just hold the two bowls together and shake 'em up. Hold them pretty tightly, and they'll be mostly peeled, and that's good enough. 

Then toss them in the food processor, and process them until they're relatively fine. Then add in the sugar, salt, and the almond meal, and mix it until it's well mixed. 

Then add in the room temperature butter and vanilla. Process until it's well-mixed, and wet-ish. Put it in a 9x13 inch parchment papered pan, and spread it evenly. Bake it for 12-15 minutes,  or until the edges are browned. Pull it out and let it cool when it's done baking.

While it's baking, in a food processor, bowl, or cake mixer, mix 2 eggs well. Then add in the sugar, salt, the pumpkin puree, and spices, and mix well. Then slowly add in the heavy cream, you want to make sure that it's slow so that it doesn't get too frothy. 

Pour the filling on the cooled crust, and bake for 30-35 minutes. When it's done, allow it to cool before cutting it into bars or it will be too messy. Serve with whipping cream! 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Quick Berry Cobbler (Gluten-Free)

What to make for your gluten-free mother, at 8:30 at night, when you're too lazy to go drive and find a dessert?

Cobbler! It's quick, it's easy, it's usually make-able with stuff you have lying around the house, and it tastes fantastic with ice cream.
So before we get to the recipe, I must say: it's wonderful to be home. I have some time off from school right now because of Thanksgiving break, and I'm very happy to be at home with my parents and on break.

Before I continue on with the painfully quick and easy recipe, I want to put it out there, I hate it when people call Thanksgiving "turkey-day."

It's not at all because I am a vegetarian, and I understand the excitement and good-humor that surrounds the's that it belittles the day. Thanksgiving, it's all in the name. The day is not about gorging turkey, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce while waiting for stores to open at midnight (a further sign of gluttony in my opinion)'s about giving thanks for the things we are lucky enough to have.

By some luck of the draw, many of us in this country got lucky enough to have good family, no worries about food or water, a nice home, and high-speed internet. That's something we should take a day to be thankful for, and remember that we are in fact lucky. So please, call this Thursday what it is: Thanksgiving, and take some time to think about why you're thankful. For me?

1. I was lucky enough to marry my best friend
2. I have a loving family that has proved time and time again they will be there for me when I need them no matter what.
3. I got into a medical school.
4. Two adorable dogs who sadly roll around in dirt far too often for their own good.
5. My students and all the laughs, and even the troubles, they give me.

The list could go on...but really, I think it's cobbler time. Enjoy!

Easy [insert fruit here] Cobbler
1 cup fruit (berries, peaches, or apples work best, they can be frozen too)
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup rolled oats
4 tbsp. very softened butter
1/4 cup sugar

0.5 tsp. cinnamon
0.25 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F.

Grab any small container that can be baked in. I used a tiny pyrex container. In a small, separate bowl mix together all the ingredients for the filling. After they are well mixed, spread them evenly into the container.

In another small bowl, mix together the butter and oats very well. Then add in the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla. Mix well. Top the filling with the oats evenly.

 Put it in the oven for 15 minutes, and there you have it! Serve hot with cold ice cream. Enjoy!

Bookish Review: The Beauty Queens

So one of my lovely friends gave me this book, The Beauty Queens by Libba Bray, for my birthday recently and I took it with me on my whirlwind interview week. After I finished my latest culinary mystery by Diane Davidson Mott, I started on this book, expecting it to take me a while.

Nope. Couldn't put it down. I finished it in two days and had to buy another book. Woe to airport taxes.

Anyways, this book is awesome if you're looking for something funny, refreshing, and with clear feminist tones to it. It's basically about a bunch of teen beauty queens whose plane crashes on a desert island. They are stranded on the island, and the book follows them as they figure out how to survive, take control of their situation, and learn more about themselves as people. It's plays on a lot of stereotypes and societal expectations of women in a hilarious way. It's kind of expected, so I don't think I'm spoiling anything--but these girls that depend on other people to take care of them (for the most part) become self-sufficient women on the island, becoming more self-confident and finding themselves...while being pretty bad ass.

It's great--if you like books with strong women, hilarious scenes involving a Palin-esque villain, and weird twists involving hair removal products, then you have to read this book. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Garlicky Greens: Kale Edition

Kale is amazing. Seriously, I love it. Flash-cooked, sauteed, steamed. It's got an amazing crunchiness that makes it like candy to me. 

Kale is a part of the cabbage family, and is full of calcium, beta carotene, and other vitamins. Quite healthy, and very versatile. It makes an excellent side-dish. 

Anyways, this is my favorite quick way to make it.

Garlic Lemon Kale

2 heads of garlic, minced
Juice of one lemon (or about 2 tbsp. lemon juice) 
1 head red or green kale
2 tbsp. olive oil
dash of salt and pepper

Heat olive oil and garlic over medium-high heat in a large saucepan. Toss in the garlic. While that's going, chop and wash the kale. Make sure you cut off the stems, they're less tasty than the greens. 

When the garlic has been going for about a minute. Add in the lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Then toss in the kale. It seems like a huge amount, but the kale wilts down fast. Just keep tossing every 30 seconds or so until it's wilted down. Serve hot.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

How To Make...Bath Bombs

First off, fear not. I have not left the foodie-world. I am still baking, cooking up a storm, etc. In fact, I made these tasty Millet Muffins from Heidi Swanson's cookbook, Supernatural Everyday. I don't usually buy cookbooks, but this one is quite excellent. Sooner or later, I'm going to have to post my variation on her quinoa cakes. 

Anyways, since the holiday season is coming up, I have forayed into the homemade gift world, and I love to share my success (less so my failures for obvious reasons). These homemade bath bombs are a definite success. 

Totally not mine. Picture pulled from the web, but that's what
they look like from the store usually.
What are bath bombs? They are those balls that you buy in the store, and you toss into your tub...they fizz, add moisturizer, nice smell, and generally relaxation-ness to your experience. They're quite wonderful...and exorbitantly expensive. Fret not! They're super easy to make at home. 

Here are mine, I didn't want to add any coloring, so they're plain white, but you're welcome to color yours. 

Bath Bomb Recipe
Adapted from

0.5 cup corn starch
0.5 cup Epsom salts [get it at your regular grocery store]
1 cup baking soda
0.5 cup citric acid [get it online, or I bought mine at Whole Foods]
0.75 tbsp. water
3 tbsp. olive oil
Essential Oil [totally optional, but it adds a nice smell. Get it at Whole Foods]
Small ice cream scoop, shot glass, or something to shape the bombs

First, grind up the Epsom salts super fine. I used a blender, you can use the back of a large spoon, mortar and pestle, or whatever you have to grind something up. 

Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl (corn starch, salts, baking soda, and acid). 

In a separate bowl mix the wet ingredients (water, olive oil, and essential oil). Yep, has to be in a separate bowl because when you add water to the dry ingredients, the baking soda, a base, reacts readily with the citric acid, obviously and acid. Anyways, mix the wet ingredients together nicely. Then quickly add it to the dry ingredients. 

Mix the whole sha-bang together with a whisk or your hands (we used hands), until it's the consistency of slightly wet sand. 

Fill up whatever you're using to shape the bath bombs, and it down hard. I used an espresso cup, filled it up, and pushed down with my finger tips. Then flip it upside down on a cookie sheet, or wherever you want to put the bombs, tap the back with your hand hard, and viola out it'll come! 

If it falls apart, don't worry, just put it back into the bowl and try again. 

Let these suckers dry overnight, and you'll have some lovely bath bombs! Try them in a tub, or pack them individually in saran wrap and then put them in a cellophane bag with the pretty ribbon and you have a lovely gift! 

PS -- anyone on my gift-giving list, you're totally getting these! 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

How To Make...Homemade Holiday Cards

It's always made me a little bit sad that we don't receive as much as people did "in the old days." Now it's just bills, ads, and the occasional notice of some kind. That's part of what holidays and birthdays so special...checking the mail to see that, lo and behold, people that you don't necessarily see everyday love you, and took the time to write words for you, put a stamp on an envelope and stick a card in the mailbox.

I love getting cards, so I send them. I try to remember the birthday/anniversary/big event of everyone close to me and send them a card, because I know I love it, so I am presumptuous enough to think they do too.

I'm not a genius of course, I use this site to help me remember these things, and it works wonderfully.

Anyways, if you're thinking of sending holiday cards this season, consider making them at home for a few reasons:

1. While there is an initial investment, it's cheaper overall.

2. It adds a bit of a personal touch to your cards, which is always nice to see. Plus, they're unique!

3. It's fun--get your girlfriends, or force your husband as in my case, to help you...they can make their own cards! Put on a movie, a plate of cookies nearby, and dooooo it.

Okay, so here are the basics you need:

  • 2 color ink pads, he
    • I use the brand "color box," more expensive, but the colors come out beautiful
    • Estimated Cost: $12
  • 1-2 Stamps
    • I used ones that said Happy Holidays and another was a small snow flake
    • Estimated Cost: $6
  • Glitter glue
    • I use clear, it goes well with everything
    • Estimated Cost: $2
  • Cards + Envelopes, any color you want
    • I used sparkly red, but in the past I've used lavender purple, green, etc.
    • Estimated Cost: Depends on the brand you get, and how many
I got all my supplies from Michaels. So like I said, you'll have to invest between $20-$25 up front, but you have card making supplies that make make a plethora of cards. Again, you can also jazz it up in your own way, get pretty ribbon and glue dots, and add some ribbon to your cards. 

Maybe get embossing powder and an embosser and get a little crazazy? Just me? Okay. 

An embosser and powder. Seriously, it's awesome.
Anyways, first, set up your situation:

--You want a drying station, where you can put the cards after they're made

--You want to have a small bowl with water, and dry paper towels nearby if you want to wash the color off your stamps or switch colors

Then you just go! Lay down a card, decide what color your want to use for what, and start stamping! 
My Mess
A few tips: 

--After you lay the stamp on your card, don't move it, just apply even pressure across the stamp. Even the slightest movement will lead to "ghosted" stamps. 

--If you screw up and the stamp is tilted, whatevs, go with it, use the glitter glue to make it look chic. 

--Expect to mess up a few times, I've been doing this for a while, and I still screw up.

Have fun, make some cards, and send them to people you love. It'll put smiles on their faces!