Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hello, 2010!

Happy New Year everyone!

As promised, here is the new goal for Spontaneous Creativity in the new year: over 2010, I will explore and demystify one unusual ingredient each week, ranging from strange looking produce to exotic pantry items.

Each Sunday, ingredients will be introduced with a bit of background information, traditional uses (including links to recipes) and original recipes made up in my kitchen, complete with pictures, step-by-step instructions and tips.

I decided to start a new blog dedicated to this idea, so head on over to 52 Kitchen Adventures: Exploring One Unusual Ingredient Each Week, add it to your Google Reader or whatever feed you use, and add @KitchAdventures to your Twitter.

If you have any ideas for ingredients or any questions, please email me. Hope you enjoy my new blog and have a great 2010!

NYE Resolutions and Goals

So 2009 is almost over (can you believe it?) and the buzz about New Year's resolutions is just beginning. I just saw another blog starting up from a friend on Facebook with the goal of cooking new food each week from a different country. What a great idea! I would love to do something like that...something to inspire and motivate both in the kitchen and in blogging. I also just got a fabulous DSLR camera and need more opportunities to practice with it!

Any ideas?

I will be brainstorming the next few days. This weekend after New Year's I will update with my new idea/goal for the year and begin regular blogging once a week to explore something new.

Have a safe and fun NYE!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

I am a winner!

I won a giveaway on Today's Creative Blog, which led Kim to post a link to my blog in big print on her site. Which led me to realize I haven't updated in months!

So here is a random update with a delicious summer recipe I tried from Smitten Kitchen a few weeks ago.

Lemony Zucchini Goat Cheese Pizza:

I used Smitten Kitchen's really simple homemade pizza dough recipe, which was seriously simple and only took a couple of hours!

Here's the dough, waiting 1-2 hours to rise

The finished pizza - sooo good! I added an heirloom tomato and summer squash in addition to zucchini. All local from the farmer's market, delish!
Also, I have to plug Laura Chenel's goat cheese, my absolute favorite. Hopefully you can find it at your local market, like I did at mine, and I also discovered it recently at my local Costco! (Seriously, they have a huge 11 oz. log for $4.99! I almost fainted.)


This was my first attempt at a homemade dinner that involved more than just boiling some water in a long time. In September I switch from a full-time job to a part-time new position and my goal is to cook (and blog!) a lot more. I hope this recipe inspires you to try something new.

P.S. I won a cute onesie from Kara's Cupcake, just in time for my niece's 1st birthday!

Monday, April 20, 2009

A More Natural Nail Polish

Just in time for summer pedicures, I found a more natural nail polish my local grocery store, which has an awesome health and beauty section chock full of all natural body products, such as paraben-free lotions and sunscreens, and great vitamins (I haven't had a cold in 2 months!).

They also had Zoya, a nail polish without toluene, formaldehyde, and DPB (a.k.a. the nasty stuff in your everyday nail polish). It was a little pricier than the cheap-o stuff I usually buy ($5.99) so I decided to come home first and do some research and find out if it's worth the extra dough.

I checked out their website and found out they're doing an awesome exchange for Earth Day - you send in your old nail polish (any brand, used, old, whatever) and they'll send you a brand new Zoya polish (in your chosen color) for free! You have to pay shipping & handling, which is $3 per bottle, so it comes out to 50% off each nail polish. There's a minimum of 6 bottles but no maximum. I just put in an order for 10 and I just need to get to my local post office to send in my old bottles.

I'll post when I receive my new polishes (can't wait!) but till then check it out for yourself and let me know if you participate as well!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Brinner: Meal of Champions

My current favorite meal is brinner. What is brinner? Brinner is a beautiful combination of breakfast and dinner; in other words, eating delicious breakfast foods at dinner time.

Recently, organic blueberries were on sale at my local grocery store. Somehow I ended up with 4 boxes, which I probably could've eaten straight up (blueberries are one of my favorite fruits) but instead, I was inspired: blueberry pancakes! I declared it brinner night and texted Russ to bring potatoes home for his world-famous hashbrowns.

I wanted to make something a bit healthier so I found a whole-wheat blueberry pancake recipe at Cooks.com:
1 1/3 c. whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/3 c. 2% milk
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tbsp. sugar
1 c. fresh blueberries (use smaller ones if possible)
Heat to 350 degrees a pancake griddle or skillet with a nonstick surface. Mix together flour, salt and baking powder. Beat milk, egg, oil and sugar together. Add liquid mixture to flour mixture. Add blueberries. Stir gently just until flour is moistened. Pour about 1/4 cup batter onto hot griddle. Cook until covered with bubbles, flip and brown other side.

The pancakes turned out great. I tried adding chocolate chips in place of blueberries another time and they were delicious as well.

My one big tip about making pancakes is letting the pan heat up on medium heat (maybe even med-high) for several minutes before pouring the batter on, and lots of patience between turning them. The first batch or 2 takes more time as the pan, especially if the pan hasn't had a chance to heat up properly.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Fresh Pineapple in 30 Seconds!

This gadget has TRANSFORMED MY LIFE:

I went to Sur La Table, arguably the best [kitchen] store ever, yesterday to finally spend a Christmas giftcard.

Before I went, I did a little research on their website, where I spotted the Vacu Vin Stainless Steel Pineapple Easy Slicer. It has amazing reviews on Amazon, supposedly taking 30 seconds to core and slice a pineapple. Sounds too good to be true, right? I was surprised to hear such an infomercial-like gimmick for a product at Sur La Table.



Today I bought a pineapple on sale at my local Nugget Market and tried it out:

Step 1: cut off the top of the pineapple
and insert the slicer onto the core

Step 2: twist handle until you hit bottom, then pull the whole thing out and you'll be left with a hollow shell with intact core...


beautiful fresh pineapple rings

It is seriously amazing. If you love fresh pineapple, you have to check this gadget out. And if you're not sure if you like fresh pineapple, IT'S SO MUCH BETTER THAN CANNED. You have to try it!

It was also ridiculously easy to clean; take the handle off, rinse the 2 pieces with soapy water and lay to dry. I think it's dishwasher safe too, but no need.

Plus you can use the shell to serve dessert or drink. Pretty nifty for a party I suppose.

Btw, I saw this other Vacu Vin pineapple slicer at Sur La Table, which I almost got because:
1. It comes with 3 different sized blades for small/med/large pineapples
2. It's $5 cheaper
but it's plastic and triples the amount of storage you need.

The stainless steel really gets the job done and all the pineapples I saw at the store were in the medium range anyway (3-5 lbs.)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Don't Divorce my Friends and Family

Please watch this powerful video and sign a letter to the California Supreme Court here if it impacts you.

"Fidelity": Don't Divorce... from Courage Campaign on Vimeo.

They already have over 262,000 signatures as of Sunday, February 15 and the new goal is 300,000. Here is the text of the letter, telling the Supreme Court to invalidate Prop 8 and not divorce the already married couples:

We, the undersigned, share President Barack Obama's view that "for too long, issues of LGBT rights have been exploited
by those seeking to divide us. It's time to move beyond
polarization and live up to our founding promise of equality by treating all our citizens with dignity and respect."

Yet, on December 19, 2008, Ken Starr and the Prop 8 Legal Defense Fund filed legal briefs defending the constitutionality
of Prop 8 and seeking to nullify the marriages of 18,000
devoted same-sex couples solemnized before Prop 8 passed.

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in this case on March 5, with a decision expected within 90 days.
We, the undersigned, ask that the Court enforce the equality promised to each of us by our constitution and invalidate Prop
8. So doing will protect all loving, committed couples in California -– including the 18,000 who said "I do" last year –-
and prevent the initiative process from being a tool for stripping vulnerable minorities of precious constitutional rights.

As Americans who believe in the rule of law and fundamental civil rights, we know that Ken Starr and the Prop 8 Legal Defense Fund's shameful attempt to nullify equal protection
and all these bonded unions will be condemned in the eyes of
history. We know that, ultimately, love will prevail, no matter
how hard they try to fight it.

Sincerely, Me (and you I hope!)

Chocolate Covered Cherry Pudding Cakes

For Valentine's Day, we stayed in and cooked dinner at home. Correction - Russ cooked dinner and I made dessert. I was on the hunt for a recipe involving cherries and chocolate (his favorite combo) that used ramekins (our were getting dusty in a kitchen drawer). Earlier in the week Google reader solved my quest: Fatfree Vegan Kitchen posted a recipe for Chocolate Covered Cherry Pudding Cake. It was meant to be!

So, I gathered my ingredients... (btw, the Dragoba cocoa is amazing and I think a good quality cocoa would make or break this recipe)

I have a bad habit of not reading a recipe all the way through beforehand, and this time was no exception. Apparently you have to let the frozen cherries sit for 1-2 hours. This gave me some time to do the dishes though...
Silly cherries waiting to thaw out...

Here are the cakes before I poured the cherry juice on top and popped them in the oven for 20 minutes

Fresh out of the oven!

My pictures aren't as pretty as those on FFVK, but the cakes were delicious! They weren't too heavy like some chocolate desserts and the ramekins make a nice portion (although we each had 1 and half...and only because I gave the 4th one away). The bottom was the best part (cherries and goopy chocolate pudding) and I loved how the cake part was marbled with moist areas of pudding throughout. I definitely recommend the cake, especially straight out of the oven, paired with vanilla ice cream.

Here are some other pictures from the night...

Cinnamon reading her Valentine card

Cooking a delicious dinner: bacon wrapped scallops and herb roasted potatoes

Peace out!