December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I just wanted to stop by and wish you all a very Merry Christmas! I hope it’s filled with peace, love, and waaay too many munchies. Having already attacked the Harry & David boxes with a vengeance and buried myself beneath a mountain of gift wrap, I can attest that there’s nothing better.

Except an all-day Dr. Who marathon.

That’s pretty awesome, too.

December 21, 2010

Cowgirl Cookies

Can you see why it’s been a while since I’ve posted? Crafts are a lot of work! I can cook all the livelong day and still be planning the menu for tomorrow, but throw me a craft project and it requires all my mental faculties to make it turn out good. Granted, this probably stems from my unhealthily high level of self-imposed perfectionism, but there you have it. Crafts are fun, but they are definitely a project.
In this case, I made Bakerella’s Cowgirl Cookies for almost every close relative I have.
Spoiler alert to almost every close relative I have. You’re getting some of these cookies for Christmas.

December 16, 2010

Linzer Christmas Cookies

I’m beginning to think that it’s scientifically impossible for people not to smile when they see a Linzer cookie. Honestly, I has just Googled them because I couldn’t decide whether I should capitalize the word “Linzer” and ended up totally hypnotized by all the lovely photos. I’m here to tell ya, Googling Linzer cookies is almost as entertaining as Googling alpacas.

What? Alpacas are hilarious.

December 14, 2010

Daring Cooks’ Challenge: Eggs Benedict

I was very, very, very happy when I found out about this month’s Daring Cooks’ Challenge. This time around, Jenn and Jill have challenged The Daring Cooks to learn to perfect the technique of poaching an egg. They chose an Eggs Benedict recipe from Alton Brown, Oeufs en Meurette from Cooking with Wine by Anne Willan, and Homemade Sundried Tomato & Pine Nut Seitan Sausages (poached) courtesy of Trudy of Veggie num num. I chose to make Eggs Benedict because I’m quite convinced that it is the epitome of deliciousness.

December 7, 2010

Wonton Soup

This soup changed my life.

Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, but it did change my feelings regarding the soupy area of Chinese food. For many years I’d been operating under the belief that I liked these soups, only to order them at my local Chinese place to discover that I, in fact, do not like them. They’d always end up tasting too fishy or too bland. This was a very disappointing cycle. Much like how I always think I’m going to find a million cute things in Forever 21 and never fail to emerge cranky and empty-handed.

This pretty little dish was different. Thanks to a handful of simple ingredients—including a sprinkling of some very tasty sesame oil—that make up a yummy chicken broth base and a pork and shrimp wonton stuffing, this soup has all the flavor and none of the bad egg drop memories.

December 5, 2010

Cast Your Vote!

I’m dealing with an existential crisis and I desperately need your help.

Yes, you in the sweatpants. And you who’s pretending to be concentrating on a spreadsheet at work. You too, mother whose toddler is badgering you about applesauce. I need your input on something.

Have I got your attention? Have I made you feel vaguely uneasy? Wonderful!

I want to know how you feel about what you’ve been reading around here. As time goes on, I’m getting a little bored with the constant step-by-step format of the dishes presented on La Kocinera. I feel like it’s distracting to constantly jump back and forth between a thin line of text and a huge photo. Not to mention the added length that it creates in each post. Plus, I’ve noticed that worrying about taking a picture of every single step tends to distract me from how much I enjoy the process of cooking, a side effect that I’m really not liking.

Taking this into account, how do you feel about going with a sleeker approach? Something with a few beautiful final shots, with maybe a few preparation pics as well, rather than a visual documentation of each and every step. Be honest with me. If you like the way things are, if you revel in the humongous photos everywhere you cast your gaze, if you find them helpful—tell me! If you’d prefer something a little less busy, a bit more simplified, something that you can read in a couple minutes—tell me that, too.

Let me know. I’ve got a very yummy recipe in the works as a reward for your efforts!

December 1, 2010

Koci’s Terribly Late Thanksgiving Special

I know it is now December and Thanksgiving season is well over with. However, I’ve been meaning to share with you all what my family and I ate for Thanksgiving. Don’t worry, though. If you’re completely burnt out on all things turkey and cranberry, you won’t find any of it in this post today. Our Thanksgiving this year was very unorthodox—more a fun, celebratory meal than one that followed any sort of particular holiday guidelines. After so many years of making the same traditional dishes—turkey, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top, and canned cranberry sauce—we were ready to just make whatever dishes struck our fancy, with delicious results, if I do say so myself.

Let me break it down for you…

For our salad-y, starter course, I made a strawberry and candied pecan salad that I saw on Bitchin’ Kitchen, my new favorite cooking show. To the regular recipe, I also threw in some chopped avocado because, frankly, I’ll take any excuse possible to eat more avocado. It’s heavenly stuff, guys.

November 27, 2010

Daring Bakers’ Challenge: Cranberry White Chocolate Crostata

Are you aware of the delight that is cranberries?

As someone whose main exposure to these seasonal beauties consisted of a yearly devouring of the canned, jellied cranberry sauce, I was not. Now, while I’ve got nothing against the canned sauce—it’s practically my favorite part of Thanksgiving—cranberries have so much more potential.

Delicious potential.

The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well. Since the main types of crostata filling seem to be either fruit preserves or pastry cream, I was intrigued by the idea of combining the two.

November 19, 2010

Easy Peasy Penne

Have you ever been too busy to cook?

Have you ever come home and dreaded the idea of having to make dinner?

Have you ever looked like this at the thought of grocery shopping?

From Hyperbole and a Half

Well, if you have, I’ve got a great solution. When you’re tired, in a rush, and the idea of grocery shopping makes you despair for humanity, my Easy Peasy Penne is the dish for you. Consisting entirely of ingredients that are already hanging out in your pantry and refrigerator, this quick little pasta dish is covered with an simple, savory tomato sauce that adds a nice punch of flavor without weighing things down or making them complicated.

November 15, 2010

Daring Cooks’ Challenge: Julia Child’s Soufflé au Fromage

Or for us mere mortals—cheese soufflé.
This month, Dave and Linda from Monkeyshines in the Kitchen chose Soufflés as our November 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge! Dave and Linda provided two of their own delicious recipes plus a sinfully decadent chocolate soufflé recipe adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s recipe found at the BBC Good Food website. Upon hearing the word “soufflé,” my mind instantly became filled with visions of 1960’s housewives making complicated, elaborate recipes to impress their guests and in-laws, which led me to—who else—Julia Child, the queen of cuisine, whose “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” was released in 1961.

November 11, 2010

24 Hours

That’s all I ask—twenty-four hours. In twenty-four hours, I’ll have a great post ready to go.

Have you ever had one of those weeks where it just seems like you have more than your usual amount of things to do? Where there’s a few more responsibilities that come between you and your free time? I’ve been having one of those weeks. Wanna see what it looks like?

That’s the Econ paper that I was working on today. It’s a riveting, informative piece on the policies of America’s first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton. Covering such fascinating topics as federal assumption of post-Revolutionary War debts, the establishment of a national bank, and governmental support of domestic industry, it’s been hard to tear myself away.

You know I’m being sarcastic, right?

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been up to. Between this Econ paper and another presentation/paper combo coming up for my computer class, I haven’t been able to cook as much as I’d like to. However, I do have something yummy in the works that I’ll be posting tomorrow, provided that I don’t get assigned a surprise dissertation on the history of poisonous tree frogs or something.

Stay tuned!

November 7, 2010

Asparagus Quiche

Remember how I promised you something extra delicious as a reward for you shoe advice?

Voila! Quiche!

This little beauty is something that popped into my head when I suddenly had a major craving for all things asparagus the other day. Weird, I know. Most people seem to obsess over things like chocolate or ice cream, and here I am day-dreaming of asparagus.

Eh, let’s just go with it. Asparagus is yummy. Asparagus paired with spinach, garlic, and shallots is even yummier. Toss in some cream and Swiss cheese, all piled into a flaky pastry crust, and you’ve got a fantastic savory dish for the chilly months ahead.

Wanna see how to make it?

I thought so.

November 3, 2010

Shoes, Glorious Shoes

If you’ve stumbled upon this post looking for some sort of recipe, tutorial, or anything else of intellectual merit, you’ve come to the wrong place.

Today, it’s about shoes.

Not cookies, not cakes, not turkey-jerky pot pies. Shoes.

November 1, 2010

A Quick Note

Hello all! This isn’t any sort of post—just a quick note to let you know that I’m messing around with some formatting of the posts around here, so don’t be alarmed if anything looks a little wonky for the next few days. It’s not any sort of big changes. All I’m doing is inserting some “Read More” options into my posts rather than have each one take up a huge area on the homepage.

If that statement made no sense to you (because it sure didn’t make any sense to me), just click on the La Kocinera logo at the top to see the new way some of the posts are arranged.

That is all.

I’m off to gobble some leftover Halloween candy.

October 31, 2010

Halloween Daleks!!!

If you, like me, are a humongous “Doctor Who” fan, the Daleks need no introduction. In fact, you’re probably too busy squealing at the awesomeness pictured above to even bother reading what I’m writing here.

Therefore, if you’ve made it this far without a geeky fan outburst, you’re probably unaware of what a Dalek is. Allow me to elaborate on why these creatures are the most perfect villian/monster/psycho/robot you’ve ever seen.

October 27, 2010

Daring Bakers’ Challenge: Dulce de Leche Bomboloni

Can I tell you a secret?

I ate these for lunch yesterday.

Nothing else. Just a donut, filled with custard.

The veggies in my fridge are weeping.

How did it come to this?

October 25, 2010

Ricotta Chocolate Chip Cookies

Remember when you were a kid and would stick one of your school projects on the fridge? It’d have some fantastic number written at the top in red Sharpie, perhaps with a sticker or smiley-faced stamp along with it, a monument of your utter awesomeness for all the family to see.

That’s how I feel about these cookies. I want to take a magnet and clip them to my fridge. I don’t care if it’s unsanitary and goes against the laws of physics, I want everyone to know about this recipe that I came up with all on my own.

October 14, 2010

Daring Cooks’ Challenge: Risotto-Stuffed Pseudo Grape Leaves

Surprisingly enough, today is October 14th! I was under the impression that tomorrow was the 14th, which is why this post is both late and incredibly rushed. Time management and I have not been getting along all that well lately and, unfortunately, studying for my Business Law final in the wee hours of the morning took precedence over the bloggy business. Those 3 am study hours then caused me to get hungry, eat a crunchy taco, have really strange dreams, sleep in, and then sprint to class this morning. Case in point, my apologies for the late posting—it’s quite hard to stop the domino effect of procrastination once it’s started.

October 12, 2010

Coffee-Caramel Crème Brûlée

What can I say about Crème Brûlée?


What can I say that will make Crème Brûlée even better than it already is? This stuff has got to be one of the world’s top ten most transcendental desserts, right up there with chocolate mousse and Pioneer Woman’s cinnamon rolls.

Granted, the addition of coffee and caramel sure doesn’t hurt.

Wanna know how to make your own batch of this creamy yum-fest?

October 8, 2010

Breakfast Braid

I’m back!!

It’s been four whole days since you’ve heard even a peep from my little corner of the blogosphere. That’s gotta be a record. As promised, I’ve got quite a yummy recipe here for you—Breakfast Braids.

What is a Breakfast Braid, you ask?

October 4, 2010

Wonderful. Just Wonderful.

Dearest reader(s), something tragic has occurred.

My camera, the one that took such lovely photos such as this…

…yesterday met with its untimely demise.

October 1, 2010

Caramel Apple Tart

People always talk about the “lazy days of summer,” but I have to argue that fall has plenty of laziness, too. Yes, there is school that starts back and lots of holidays to plan for, but there’s another side to it. After school’s been in session for a month or so, things become routine, and I start slacking other people start slacking. As far as holidays go, there is all the planning and work leading up to them, but there’s also a lot of flopping on the couch afterwards, especially for Thanksgiving.
So what dessert does one lethargically reach for when the lazy days of autumn roll in, gentle and breezy?

September 28, 2010

Dr. Koci’s Tips for Happiness and Eternal Bliss

Disclaimer: That might be a slight exaggeration.

We’re changing things up today here at La Kocinera! After weeks and weeks of mostly food-related posts, I was getting a little tired of the same routine, plus I’d always meant to include more real life stories and posts about things other than food in this blog. It’s just that many of my thoughts do revolve around food, which makes things slightly cumbersome.

September 27, 2010

Daring Bakers’ Challenge: Abstract Sugar Cookies

I’ve come to the conclusion that the Daring Baker’s organization must be run by a band of wizards. Ridiculously talented, cookie-frosting, cake-baking wizards. They use their magical powers to bend the elements of the universe to their will, enabling them to flawlessly decorate sugar cookies with intricate designs while spilling nary a drop of royal icing.

If you’re able to do this as well, you’ve obviously been endowed with some of their wizard powers and are refusing to tell me how to get some for myself. That’s okay, because I have a secret weapon up my sleeve for those of us who are not artistically inclined (read: wizards).

September 22, 2010

A Spicy Interlude

So much time and so little to do. Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it.– Willy Wonka

This week has found me totally swamped with homework. I have no idea when or where all of these responsibilities popped up, all I know is that I have things to do.

Lots of things.

Doing lots of things also has the tendency to interfere in my precious cooking and blogging time, which is why I deplore doing things.

Okay, I’ll stop saying “things.”

September 19, 2010

Simple Salad with Goat Cheese Croutons

Reading the above post title has probably provoked one of two reactions in you. One, if you are as obsessed with all things goat cheese as I am, you are incredibly excited and starting to drool. Two, if goat cheese makes you feel the same way as looking at a picture of yourself in the height of adolescence—cringy and emotionally unstable—you’re probably a little wary of this recipe.

I’m happy to report that this dish will satisfy both the craving for crispy bites of creamy chevre and the desperate hope for a tasty dressing that will make up for such a cheese-laden salad.

September 16, 2010

Dijon Potato Salad

Has it cooled off in your part of the world? I’ve heard tales of faraway lands that have things called “seasons.”

What are seasons?

People have told me that there are temperatures cooler than ninety degrees. That in some places you can feel the wind blow and step outside without breaking a sweat. That people wear…sweaters!

September 14, 2010

Daring Cooks’ Challenge: Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

Is it odd that the above photo makes my little heart swell with pride? That Strawberry Rhubarb Jam is just so shiny and pretty. It tasted so sweet with just a little tangy bite. Spread on top of homemade Pan de Mallorca, and you’ve got something truly lovely.
You also have an outdoor photo shoot that occurred at record speed, seeing as it was 97 degrees outside and that powdered sugar was melting faster by the minute.

September 12, 2010

Baked Alaska: A Disaster Revisited

Sometimes my level of obsessive, stubborn persistence truly astonishes me. Less than a day after posting my horrendous rendition of the August Daring Bakers’ challenge Baked Alaska, I had decided to give it one more try, insisting that I had to get it right at least once. Beyond my own determination, I had also actually won a kitchen torch the day after that tragic post.

Now that, my friends, is what I call irony.

September 9, 2010

Texas Caviar

Now that September has rolled around and we’re seeing the beginning of the end of summer, I thought it’d be a great idea to squeeze in a few more warm weather favorites before things get cold. Or if you live in Houston, before things get less-sweltering.

Not to mention the fact that this dish is ridiculously easy to prepare. That’s nice, too.

We Have a Winner!

Le Creuset Tart Dish

Alright everyone, the time has come to announce the winner of my first giveaway! After popping over to ye olde random number generator, we have a proud new owner of a Le Creuset tart pan. Are you ready find out who it is?

Drum roll please…

Aaaaand the winner is…Foodies at Home!

Congratulations, Foodies at Home! I’ll be getting in touch with you soon with the details of how you can collect your prize.

Also I want to say a big “thank you” to each and every one of you who entered. I hope to have many more giveaways and contests here on La Kocinera in the future. Besides, not only do I like to give you presents, but I also just love hearing from you, so stick around and see what goodies I can come up with!

September 6, 2010

Koci’s Favorite Granola Bars

I must admit, there are few snacks that I love more than a nice, well-balanced granola bar. After scheduling my classes around and during lunch time—mainly because I’m definitely not a morning person—granola bars have become my staple for a quick bite in between classes to stave off a rumbly tummy during Economics.

While I’d normally pick up a box of Luna bars or something from Kashi, I was never a big fan of all the extra ingredients and additives. So, after perusing a few cookbooks and recipes, I got together an idea of what I’d like my own granola bars to be like, namely, something with plenty of fruits and nuts—especially cherries and almonds—as well as something that didn’t have too much sugar and that was easy to throw together. After a bit of trial and error, I think I’ve come up with a winner.

September 2, 2010

Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins

These are freaking amazing!!!

Now this is what I’m talking about! Finally the trauma and utter madness that is the first week of school is past me and I’m back to making bunches of lovely goodies.

Did I mention that my school week only lasts four days? Thursdays are my Fridays. And yes, I realize that I actually don’t have much to complain about. I just don’t like going to school. As I’m sure you all know by now, I am a highly sensitive and creative soul that cannot be confined to the traditional institutions of academia, especially when those institutions no longer allow me to park in the library parking lot, making my journey to class a very long one.

On the bright side, I’ve decided that all that extra walking must be burning exorbitant amounts of calories, calories that I must make up for by gobbling up copious amounts of chocolate chip mini muffins.

August 31, 2010

Is it Summer Vacation Yet?

It’s official, I’ve been back at college for two days and I’m ready for another summer vacation. I’ve had my fill of education, learned my lessons, and I’ve decided that experience is the best teacher. Can I go home now?



August 29, 2010

Oh yes, I’m Versatile. If by “Versatile” you mean “Bonkers”.

I received this Versatile Blogger award a couple of weeks ago and have severely procrastinated posting about it, thanks to some other recipes I was working on as well as the most recent Daring Bakers’ challenge. If it’s any comfort to you (although I don’t know why it would be, as most of you didn’t even know that I got this award), the seven interesting things about me that I have to post with it were definitely rolling around in my brain all the while.

After all, what is interesting? Interesting for me can border on the odd and slightly strange. For instance, freshman year of high school, in theater class, when my friend Celine (name changed to protect the innocent) and I had to scrape paint and tape off the stage floor while everyone else got to build sets, we spent the week singing “It’s a Hard Knock Life” as we scraped and scrubbed away at the floor like we were in the chorus of “Annie”.

Fascinated yet?

August 27, 2010

Daring Bakers’ Challenge: Baked Alaska with Browned Butter Pound Cake


There are no words.

I refuse to speak of that monstrosity—that thing that took up hours and hours of my life that I’ll never get back.

Nope, not talking.

August 24, 2010

Running and Strawberry Snackies

When I’m not making complicated curries or painstakingly trying to complete the latest Daring Kitchen challenge, you can usually find me preparing slightly humbler fare, such as Strawberry Peanut Butter Snackies. Ever since seeing the idea in a snippet side bar in Real Simple magazine, this little treat has been my go-to munchie when I need a substantial snack or, more than once, a quick lunch. Comprised of strawberries, peanut butter, cream cheese, and honey, this sandwich is perhaps not the most healthy thing I could be eating. However, I must argue that there is protein in the peanut butter, honey cuts out any refined sugars, and strawberries are very good for you. When that argument begins to sound a little flimsy, I just remind myself that I’ve been getting back into running lately, so I must be extra hungry from all those calories I’m burning.

Did I mention that I’m running now? It’s not like I ever particularly stopped—I’ve been running at various intensities for years—but I had been slacking off a bit. Hopping on the treadmill is just so unappealing when the much easier, much nicer Wii Fit is calling my name (you can actually get a good workout with EA Active). The point is, I’d been slacking. And slacking, combined with writing a food blog—which requires cooking a lot of really yummy food—really isn’t a good combination. So, to balance out the extra cooking that’s been going on, I’ve gotten back into running—real running.

At this point, I’m going to pepper my saga of exercise and all its wonders with images of this snackie sandwich. It may cause things to get a bit confusing, what with talking about exercise yet drooling over photos of cream cheese and peanut butter, but I feel that that’s an accurate depiction of what goes through my mind on a daily basis. Seriously, I watch Food Network while I’m on the treadmill.


August 22, 2010

Fish with Indian Yogurt Sauce


I am so excited about this dish that it borders on the insane. For years, literally years, I’ve had this fabulous Indian cookbook full of tantalizing photos and gorgeous recipes that I’ve been unable to use, simply because of one elusive spice blend…garam masala. Garam masala is a mixture of coriander, cumin, cinnamon, black pepper, cloves, ginger, mace, green cardamom, black cardamom, nutmeg, and bay leaves.

Phew, allow me catch my breath.

August 21, 2010

Randomosity, Simplified.

This post does not include a recipe. This post does not include anything step-by-step. This post does not include anything of intellectual merit.

This post is dedicated to a nice, big bowl of pure, unadulterated, gushing.

August 19, 2010

Maple Pecan Shortbread

Oh shortbread, how I luffles you.

What can really be said about these little beauties, these little circles of nutty delight? Too much, and yet, not enough. They’re light and soft, with just a hint of pecan and maple to make your taste buds go “Oooh!” All I can say is, as soon as they came out of the oven I gleefully tasted one…then another one, and another one.

And another one.

August 14, 2010

Daring Cooks’ Challenge: Pierogi

The August 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by LizG of Bits n’ Bites and Anula of Anula’s Kitchen. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make pierogi from scratch and an optional challenge to provide one filling that best represents their locale.

My take on the challenge is a little something I like to call “Louisiana Meat Pie Pierogi”. It was the result of two terribly failed attempts at making traditional pierogi and turned out surprisingly good. Crunchy on the outside, with piping hot, meat pie filling on the inside, these pierogi (pierogis?) are a throwback to the meat pies that I grew up eating every time I visited my grandparents in Louisiana--just in adorable, miniature, pierogi-fied form.

August 11, 2010

Tutti Frutti and Twitter

Howdy there, bloggy buddies! I was going to simply write this little announcement as an update, but then I remembered that I had in my possession some photos from my recent trip to Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt, so I figured why not throw those in? Everybody likes frozen yogurt…except Red Mango. I’m pretty sure I just heard some audible gasps on that one, but I have to be honest-it’s just too tangy and yogurt-y for me. I like my frozen yogurt to fool me into thinking that it’s actually it’s fattier, more calorie-laden counterpart--ice cream.

But, before I start waxing poetic about yogurt, I have to tell you my announcement. I’m officially on Twitter! Well, actually I’ve been on Twitter for a while, but I’ve just now decided to link it up as part of my blog. So pop on over there and follow away!

Now on to yogurt!

August 9, 2010

My First Giveaway!

Alright kiddies, the time has come! The oh-so-awaited, much-anticipated, very first giveaway here at La Kocinera has arrived!

Now I’m no Agatha Christie, but I think after reading the two previous posts-both dealing with tarts-you have probably guessed that my prize has something to do with tarts, correct? Well congratulations, all you smarty-pants! You were right! The beautiful, lovely, and all-around awesome prize up for grabs is this…

August 8, 2010

A Giveaway Clue Gone Wrong

As it so happens, so many times, I start off with the best intentions. How things end up, well, that’s another story. I have noticed a pattern to these events, though. They all revolve around some sort of pie or tart crust.

Except when they revolve around salmon and eggs.

Or chimichurri.

August 5, 2010

Lemonlicious Sugar Cookies

These lemon-laced goodies have been my go-to cookie for years. After finding them in Rebecca Rather’s cookbook, “The Pastry Queen”, I set about making them nonstop throughout the better part of my junior year of high school. I demonstrated the recipe for a Speech class, because everyone knows that the best way to get a good grade on a project is to include food. After that was a hit, I switched the lemon ingredients for vanilla and dipped the cookies in dark chocolate instead of the icing for a cookie party later that year in Chemistry. Needless to say, I was pretty popular junior year.

August 3, 2010

Faux Pot Roast with Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Technically speaking, this is not pot roast. It’s a braised roast. In my pot roast ignorance I assumed that pot roasts were cooked in a pot, not seared in a pot and then roasted in the oven. Yes, I am aware that the dish has “roast” in the name, but I must argue that it also has “pot” in the name as well.

It’s a very confusing concept.

Thankfully, my mistake turned out to be incredibly delicious and just as tender, juicy, and delectable as a traditional pot roast. Pair that with some of the richest, creamiest, mashed potatoes known to mankind and you’ve got something good. Very good.

July 31, 2010

Three-Bean Chili with Cheddar-Cornmeal Waffles

This chili has three kinds of beans in it.

Need I say more?

Okay, fine, I’ll say a little bit more. I’m admittedly obsessed with beans. From black beans in Pico de Gallo Salad to the pinto beans I always add to my burrito bowl at Chipotle to the kidney beans that cover my everyday salads, I just plain love beans. So when I saw this recipe over on The Little Things, I pretty much died and went to Heaven.

July 29, 2010

Penne with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

This dish sure puts a smile on my face. Not only was it delicious the day it was made/subsequently inhaled, I also spent half of the following day eagerly anticipating eating the leftovers for lunch. It’s filling, flavorful, and frighteningly addictive.

I can tell that you’re itching to make it for yourself, so I’ll stop blabbering and get to cooking…

July 26, 2010

Snickerdoodle Blondies & Brit-Lit

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and this recipe is living proof. The instant I saw it gracing the web pages over at Brown-Eyed Baker I had to make it. No question, these cinnamon-sugar goodies were paying a visit to my kitchen faster than you can say “Brit-Lit homework can wait!”

July 23, 2010

Quinoa-Stuffed Bell Peppers

Thanks to the weeks of cookies, bars, and other sweet things that have been featured on this blog recently, I’m now on a little bit of a health kick. That, and the subtle tightening of one’s blue jeans is a very sobering experience.

The good news is that beautifully healthy food and beautifully delicious food is something that can go hand-in hand, Quinoa-Stuffed Bell Peppers being one such example. In fact, not only does this dish go for 250 calories a serving, but it’s also filled with colorful veggies and exotic flavor. Thanks to the quinoa, it’s also great for those of you who want to avoid rice and pasta, seeing as quinoa is actually a relative of beets and spinach. All these ingredients combined create a savory, filling meal that’s good for your body and your taste buds.

July 19, 2010

Ceviche de Camarones- Shrimp Ceviche

Before we begin, there is something I need to get out of the way. Please indulge me in my geekiness and pronounce “ceviche” correctly.


Not “suh-vee-chee”

July 17, 2010

You Win Some, You Lose Some

I think it’s important to document kitchen failures along with successes for two reasons. One, to show that culinary disasters are pretty much an everyday occurrence and that everybody experiences them. Two, because I’m not ready to go to the grocery store just yet, so any other cooking has been put on hold for a day or two.

What I’m saying is that it’s important to remember that mistakes and mishaps are an essential part of cooking. That’s how you improve a recipe, discover a better one, or simply learn that you have a new least-favorite food. It’s all part of the journey.

July 14, 2010

Banana-Oatmeal Pancakes with Spiced Maple Syrup

Many times while I was making these pancakes I wondered what I was doing. Things get a bit iffy when a recipe contains mashed bananas, not to mention the addition of mushy oatmeal. Too much mush for me, or so I thought. As far as food texture goes, mushy is not one that particularly calls to me. Crunchy? Creamy? Yes and yes. Mushy? Eh, not so much. However, it could be worse than mushy. Don’t even get me started about my feelings towards the adjective “toothsome”.

July 9, 2010

The Wasabi Incident

Dearest readers, I thought I’d give you a little break from cooking and allow you to digest all the yummy food you’ve doubtlessly been eating. So, instead of a post about a recipe, I’m going to tell you a little story. You may want to grab the nearest plushy stuffed animal to hold on to, because it is a bit scary.

Got your teddy bear? Good. Let us begin.

Today, I present the harrowing tale of…Too Much Wasabi!!!!

July 8, 2010

Portobello Mushroom Lasagna

This is probably the most unusual lasagna I’ve ever had. Based on a Provençal-style recipe, this dish is just Portobello mushrooms, white sauce, noodles, and Parmesan cheese, with a few spices thrown in for good measure. The flavor is completely different from your regular tomato-based lasagna. I wouldn’t say that it’s better, it’s just different. Your really can’t compare the two. That’s alright, though, as there is plenty of room in my heart for lasagna in all its forms.

The process is a bit complicated, but well worth the effort. Your family/guests/neighbors-that-wander-over-because-it-smells-so-good will be amazed at your culinary prowess.

July 5, 2010

Summertime Berry Cobbler

Note: As of 12 May 2018, the images in this post are nowhere to be seen. I'm currently debating whether to dig around in an external hard drive to find them or to surrender them to the universe. My photography was so bad at the time that the greater forces of my blog may be trying to do me a favor.

This is seriously one of the easiest recipes I’ve ever tried. Consisting of seven ingredients, this berry cobbler can be thrown together in a matter of minutes. Toss it in the oven for an hour, and you’ve got a great, summery dessert, literally bursting with berry flavor.

July 3, 2010

Sugar Cookie Bars

Note: As of 12 May 2018, the images in this post are nowhere to be seen. I'm currently debating whether to dig around in an external hard drive to find them or to surrender them to the universe. My photography was so bad at the time that the greater forces of my blog may be trying to do me a favor.

These will be my downfall.

I should seriously stop making cookies, bars, brownies and anything of the sort.

It’s just that these sugar cookie bars are so rich and dense and colorful and delicious and…and…

June 30, 2010

Blogging Music, Or Why I Listen to Songs About Ducks

Is it just me, or does adding music to any task make it instantly more fun? Seriously! When my dentist started talking about removing some wisdom teeth, I was none too pleased, to say the least. However, when he told me that I could listen to my iPod during the procedure, it made things a little better.

Just a little.

Did I gross you out about the wisdom teeth? Sorry.

June 27, 2010


Have you ever had one of those days? Where everything and everybody just seems to rub you the wrong way? I’m having one of those days.

I think what really drives me crazy about those kind of days is just how trivial they are. When I’m in a funky sort of mood, it’s usually not the result of anything big, just the buildup of little annoyances. Things like one of my recipe submissions for a food website being rejected. Or how hot it is outside and the fact that my air conditioning will never be cold enough. Perhaps it’s how my house all of a sudden feels cramped and cluttered, even though nothing has changed since yesterday. Maybe it’s because my family, who I get along with beautifully 95% of the time, seems to be taking over every space that I want to be in…alone. My point-as I’m sure you’ve deduced by now, being the clever readers that you are-is that I’m in a bad mood.

A stifled, uncomfortable, feels-like-I’m-wearing-jeans-that-are-two-sizes-too-small bad mood.

Thankfully, there’s a way to lighten the weight of such a mood.


June 25, 2010

Spinach Risotto

I remember it like it was yesterday, the first time I made this risotto. Using my mom’s copy of "Cooking for Madam", I set about making the complex rice dish, having only cooked by myself a handful of times, and ended up discovering a true calling.

I wish I had some ghastly, cautionary tale regarding that experience, but I honestly don’t. The risotto was delicious and only served to further propel me towards deeper and deeper foodie love. Reading the recipes and stories in that cookbook by Jackie Kennedy’s former personal chef solidified and intensified my love of cooking and my desire to become a chef. The idea of traveling the world and cooking for fabulous dinner parties and quiet get-togethers sounded too good to be true (and still kinda does). This book seriously started it all for me.

Who knows? Maybe this recipe will do something equally profound in your own life. Or maybe it’ll just be really yummy. Either way, it’s worth a shot!
Before starting anything actually rice-related, you’ll be chopping an onion and crying quietly to yourself because you don’t have any garlic.

Once you’ve recovered, heat a rather substantial amount of olive oil in a saucepan and cook the onion until it’s softened and slightly browned.

After the onion has been sufficiently cooked, toss in some Arborio rice and stir to coat it thoroughly with the olive oil.

Now it’s time to add some white wine. For the amount specified in this recipe, using some of those little bottles is much more convenient that opening a regular bottle.

Once the wine has mostly cooked away, it’s time to add some chicken broth, which you already have waiting at the ready. Seeing as you’ll be adding the broth…ugh, I don’t like that word. Broth. It just sounds weird. I’m going to say “stock” from now on.

Anyway, you’ll be adding the stock in about one-cup increments, waiting for the rice to absorb it before adding more. For this reason, pour the chicken stock into a microwaveable container and heat until it’s warm, so it won’t reduce the temperature too much every time you add it to the risotto.

After about 20 minutes, once the rice has absorbed about 4-5 cups of stock, you’ll have something that looks like this.

If you want to continue with the spinach (which I highly recommend), place about ½ cup of fresh spinach leaves in a blender (or your infomercialicious Magic Bullet like me) and add a bit of water, blending them until liquefied.
I’m using a lot of parenthesis this post.

After mixing in a bit of Parmesan cheese into the still-hot risotto, pour in the pureed spinach and stir to combine.

And there you have it! Spinach risotto that would make the Grinch beam with pride.

Spinach Risotto
Recipe adapted from “Cooking for Madam” by Marta Sgubin and Nancy Nicholas

½ cup Olive Oil
1 medium Onion, finely chopped
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 ½ cups Arborio Rice
5 cups Chicken Stock
½ cup White Wine
½ cup Parmesan Cheese
½ cup fresh Spinach

Heat the olive oil in a heavy 3-quart saucepan. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until golden brown, then add the rice and cook for a minute or so, stirring so that each grain is coated with oil. Meanwhile, heat the stock. Add the wine to the rice and cook until it has evaporated, then start adding the stock. Pour in a little at a time, just enough so the rice is covered, then cook, stirring constantly, until the stock has been absorbed. Continue to add stock until the rice is the right consistency-al dente. This should take about 20 minutes. Begin tasting after 15 minutes. You may not need to use all the stock, but judge by the texture of the rice, not the amount of liquid.

While the rice is still hot, stir in Parmesan cheese.
Wash the spinach leaves, then put them, still wet, into a blender and liquefy them. You may need to add a tiny bit more water. Add the puree to the rice and stir it in. The rice will become a nice green color.

Serve at once with a little bit more Parmesan cheese.

June 23, 2010

A New Look

Well, here we have it! Completely revamped and redone, “La Kocinera” is still open for business.

Although I completely adored the blog’s previous look, I was having some major issues with the HTML and links, which were easily resolved by switching to one of Blogger’s layouts, as opposed to one that I had downloaded elsewhere.

Anyway, this is just to let you know that everything’s tip top over here, just with a few minor issues worked out.

June 20, 2010

RSS Feed

Phew! Working the kinks out of an RSS Feed is work!

Anyway, this is just to let any of you who have attempted to subscribe to my RSS Feed and were redirected to the home page or just saw some squirly HTML stuff know that the feed is now up and running. Give one of the links a click and go ahead and subscribe!

The World's Best Chocolate Chip Cookies. Ever.

Note: As of 12 May 2018, the images in this post are nowhere to be seen. I'm currently debating whether to dig around in an external hard drive to find them or to surrender them to the universe. My photography was so bad at the time that the greater forces of my blog may be trying to do me a favor.

Ohhh man.

These cookies are so good.

In fact, they’re too good.

Way too good.

I hear their siren’s song calling me from the depths of my freezer, where I had hidden half of them for a later date. They say, Just have one moreand Come on, what do you mean you’ve already had three today?

These cookies will be the end of me.

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