Pick a season, stick with it. Please. By Cappy

Hello all, Cappy the dog here. I know it has been a while since my last post; it has taken some time to get adjusted to my new home.

As much as I love giving you advice, today is all about my white girl problems. Yep, I keep it real with Rachel since we are both half black.

Cappy the dog

What is with this North Carolina weather? It is all over the place. 70s one week, 50s the next, 80s for a day. Last week it’s 30s, this week: 70s. To shed or not to shed?

I’m not prepared! My coat is not ready. There are limited options for a cold dog…

Cappy wearing a scarf

This is truly ridiculous. North Carolina, pick a season and stick with it. Winter, preferably. I love the snow.

Cappy wearing a scarf

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Project Tasteless Challenge 3: We-Might-Not-Be-Able-To-Buy-Liquor-Before-Noon-But-We-Can-Sure-As-Hell-Dump-It-In-Our-French-Toast French Toast

…This recipe could also be called “I miss my mommy French Toast,” but I have my pride. The recipe is for Project Tasteless Challenge 3: Girls Who Eat Their Feelings Challenge.

Project Tasteless

I have two little sisters. For those of you unfamiliar with sibling rivalry, be it because of only-child syndrome or worse, well-behaved sibling syndrome, let it be known: Mine was a violent home-violent, angry, passive aggressive, active aggressive, verbally abusive, physically abusive home.

Don’t get me wrong – we loved each other very much. We were just the violent type of siblings (we are all very close now, and rarely physical with anything but hugs). The hit-your-sister-with-a-fly-swatter-because-you-weren’t-allowed-to-touch-her-anymore(!) siblings.

Sunday mornings, though, we were one happy family. That was the time for Sunday brunch: Pancakes, bacon, eggs, grits, toast, and/or French Toast. Each sister would have a task (well, us two older sisters would have tasks and the youngest would get her beauty rest). Making the main part was always the best position, be it pancakes or French Toast, and the race to wake up first and claim it was always a brutal one, but it was still Sunday Brunch. It was still wonderful. And who made what (mostly) didn’t matter once we all sat down to eat it.

French Toast Close Up

I never realized how special Sunday Brunch was until my senior year of college.

One Sunday I had a group of friends over for brunch, and I decided to make French Toast. I mixed together milk, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon and coconut rum. My friends made suuuch a fuss.

Cooking French Toast

Long story short, there were certain suggestions about my parents’ relationship with alcohol, and I learned that apparently rum is not a standard French Toast ingredient.

For whatever reason, it took that for me to realize that my family’s French Toast was different. And Sunday Brunch was not something every family did.

So comfort food for me is not about boys at all. It’s about family. No matter how far I may be from my family (currently: 3 hours), dumping rum into my French Toast on Sunday mornings is all I need to have a little reminder of home.

We-Might-Not-Be-Able-To-Buy-Liquor-Before-Noon-But-We-Can-Sure-As-Hell-Dump-It-In-Our-French-Toast French Toast

Recipe serves 2

Whisk together in one bowl:

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. cinnamon

1-2 tbsp. coconut rum

Dip sliced bread in mixture and cook in greased pan over medium heat, flipping once. You want to brown both sides, typically 2-4 minutes per side.

Top with any combination of: maple syrup, strawberries, coconut, powdered sugar, blackberries.

Note on the bread: you want slightly stale bread so that it will soak up your milky mixture better. We usually throw our aging bread in the freezer and save it specifically for French Toast. Our favorite bread is Challah, but if you live somewhere like Apex (aka, lacking Jews), I recommend sourdough or whole wheat.

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Project Tasteless: The Tale of Pizza Rabbit

Project Tasteless, Round 2: Make a pizza based on your Halloween costume.

Project Tasteless Round Two Logo

I am not much of a costume girl, so this was a tough one. I didn’t have a costume planned.

Lucky for me, I just happen to have some very comfortable bunny rabbit footie pajamas already out for winter. And I will take any excuse to wear my footie pajamas.

So my costume: bunny rabbit…

My bunny face

…with bonus bunnies on the feet. (Note: one of the foot bunnies does not have ears. Watch out for those at Target…)

Bunny feet in the tall grass

Now if a bunny were going to eat a pizza, what would it eat? I would think something with lots of garden veggies – possibly from the neighbor’s garden. It would definitely be very simple and fresh. So without further ado…

The Tale of Pizza Rabbit

This recipe is based on Angela’s Project Food Blog Challenge #5 entry.

Once upon a time there was a bunny who loves fresh garden veggies – her neighbor’s garden veggies to be exact. She also loved pizza.

One day, she decided to combine her two favorite foods into one delicious creation.

First, she made the dough. Since she had never made dough before, she was very nervous. She went with the easiest looking recipe. As a dough novice, this recipe actually worked! She was very excited. The bunny followed Angela’s recipe because Angela is a vegan. She only made one change – pizza seasoning instead of pizza herbs – bunnies like a little kick (that’s where Thumper got his name!).

When she finished the dough, she set it aside. Now was the fun part – getting the veggies!

She quietly hopped to the edge of the yard, slid under the neighbor’s fence, and hopped on over to get her toppings.

In the neighbor's garden

Her trusty dog Cappy kept watch while she picked the veggies. Watch out for the neighbor’s return!

Cappy warns me of the neighbor's approach

She went with 1 medium white onion, 1 red pepper, 1 green pepper, 3 small tomatoes, 1 zucchini, and 6 basil leaves.

Tomatoes

When she got home, she preheated the oven to 375F. She chopped up the onion, tomatoes and 4 basil leaves. She minced 2 garlic cloves. Then she tossed it all in a bowl with a splash of olive oil, a splash of balsamic vinegar, a dash of salt, and a few twists of fresh ground pepper. She spread the mixture evenly over a greased baking sheet, and placed it in the oven. She was going to roast the veggies for 45 minutes.

After she threw the first set of veggies in the oven, she chopped her peppers, zucchini and two more basil leaves. She tossed them in a bowl with a splash of olive oil, a splash of balsamic vinegar, a dash of salt, and a few twists of fresh ground pepper. After the tomatoes and onion had been cooking for 20 minutes, she added the peppers and zucchini to the baking sheet and mixed it all up. She let the full set of veggies cook for another 25-30 minutes.

Roasted Veggies

While the veggies were roasting, she got to shaping the dough. Since she only had a rectangular baking sheet, she followed Angela’s recommendations for letting gravity do the work, then used her hands to shape the dough into a rectangle.

Pressing out the dough

She pinched the edges to make the crust.

Making Crust

Now was time for the garlic spread. In a sauce pan, she added one minced garlic clove and 3 tbsp. of olive oil and heated them over low. She cooked them for several minutes until garlic was slightly golden – but she was sure not to overcook the spread! With a spoon, she spread the garlic oil over the pizza dough.

Before she knew it, her veggies were ready! She took them out and turned the oven up to 400F. She was ready for the best part, her secret trick to pizza-making perfection: multiple layers of cheese.

She used around 1 cup of shredded mozzarella. She Sprinkled ¼ cup over the garlic-infused oil. Then she spread about 2/3 of the roasted veggies. She added another layer of cheese by sprinkling about ½ cup over the pizza. She finished up with the rest of the veggies and then the rest of her cheese.

She popped the pizza in the oven and let it bake at 400F for 15-20 minutes.

Whole pizza cooked and sliced

When she had a bite, she knew her two favorite foods could become one. And so ends the Tale of Pizza Rabbit. Bunnies eat pretty good don’t they?Cooked pizza

 

 

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I like to think my dog is a genius but…

…Sometimes she does something like this

Cappy sniffing a fake dog's butt

The dog isn’t real Cappy! The dog. Is not. Real.

I tweeted this pic earlier. Did you miss it? Follow me! @anycolorbut

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Project Tasteless: I’m Naked, This is Delicious

So Rachel Wilkerson’s cooking competition is this: cook in only an apron. Post recipe and PG or PG-13 photo.

Rachel Wilkerson's Project Tasteless

Problem: I do not own an apron.

Solution: Naked.

I also added a self-imposed rule. See, if you are cooking naked, you probably aren’t making a trip to the grocery store first. So I used only what I already had in my kitchen. This meant lots of adjustments in my  recipe, and I was happily surprised. 10x better than the original.

Now about the chicken.

My boyfriend and I cook a lot together. A lot. The food is typically amazing and full of garlic. We have cooked this chicken twice: once for a scrabble dinner party, and once for my parents. In fact, this was the first meal we cooked for my parents, and probably the second time they ever met.

The best way to make sure a night with a new boyfriend and parents goes well? A good meal. Any awkward silence you can just say,”Mmmmm. Delicious!” and everyone can chat about how much they love feta cheese for a few minutes. Here is your meal.

Since then, we have cooked a few times for both sets of parents, and I like to think it’s always a success. Chicken wings, burgers, pasta, pork loin. But this recipe always sticks out in my mind because it is just so darn delicious. I love me some garlic and feta.

This time around, cooking all alone, and after gaining much more expertise in the kitchen, and following my self-imposed rule, I have made a few changes. Delicious changes. Naked.

(Now let’s see if I can get long-distance boyfriend up here for a visit. Chicken? Naked Chef? I think this could work)

Feta, Artichoke and Spinach Stuffed Chicken

Ingredients

3 chicken breasts

1/4 cup red onion, chopped finely

2 garlic gloves, minced

1/3 cup frozen spinach

1/3 cup frozen artichoke hearts

2 tbsp olive oil

1/3 cup feta, crumbled

Pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, salt, paprika

Butter (or cooking spray, if you prefer)

How to Make It

Get naked. If you have an apron, pull it out for later.

Say thanks that the very needy dog that your friend adopted Friday (and you are dog sitting for) is scared of tile. He has a very wet nose and a habit of sneezing on you.

Banjo out of the kitchen

Get ingredients.

Ingredients for stuffed chicken

Start defrosting the chicken if yours is frozen (like mine).

frozen chicken

Mince the garlic, chop the onion super small.

Boil about a cup of water, add spinach and artichoke, cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat. Drain the extra water and set aside.

If you have an apron, put it on. If you don’t, watch out. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Once oil is heated, sauté garlic and onions. Reduce heat to a simmer, and add the spinach and artichokes.

Sauteed stuffing without feta

Stir it all up, smashing the artichokes as you go. Mix in a dash of crushed red pepper flakes, pepper, salt and paprika.

Remove from heat and stir in the feta cheese.

Stuffing with feta

Butter/Spray your baking sheet. Place chicken breasts on it. Cut a slit in the fattest part of the chicken long ways.

Slit in chicken long ways

Add some extra slits inside the chicken to help you stuff it better (Check out the picture for a better idea. The bottom picture looks a little dirty right?).

Slit in the middle of the chicken for max stuffing

fully cut chicken

Stuff your chickens.

Stuffed chicken before cooking

Cook at 350F for 25 minutes.

Stuffed cooked chicken

Delicious! And parent-approved.

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The Most Amazing Granola Ever

I cannot believe I made this. I have been making my own granola for about 2 years now, and it has always been decent, but not quality granola. This recipe not only tastes like real granola it is actually better: This is seriously the most amazing granola I have ever had.

I adapted the recipe from Kath Eats, who got it from a the South Street Inn in Charlottesville.

I had a bowl of just this plain last night (mmm) and some mixed into a smoothie this morning (mm mmm).

Still waiting to hear back about the internship, so the bake-a-thon continues! Distraction!

Another note: I have never had buckwheat, and I was kind of scared. It sounds too healthy, right? Wow. Delicious!

Some more thoughts on the recipe:

  • It calls for 3/4 cup sunflower seeds, but mine came out way too sunflower-y. I reduced it to 1/2 cup sunflower seeds, but by all means bring it back up if ya love ’em.
  • No matter your opinions on flax seed, they are amazing in this recipe (yep, I used the word amazing again. It’s that good). They get all toasty and clump together and taste like honey and vanilla. Yum!
  • This is one of the most delicious smells ever, but I can’t figure out what it smells like. Thoughts?

Crunchy Buckwheat Granola

Dry:

  • 2 cups raw rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup buckwheat
  • 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 3/4 cup flax seed
  • 3/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds

Wet:

  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla

Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl and give it a good stir. Bake at 300* for 1 hour 15 minutes, stirring every 30 minutes in a large bowl (or a 9×9 inch baking dish, or an 8-inch round baking dish).

Remove from oven and give it a good mix. Stir every 30 minutes while cooling. The granola will clump together a bit. Completely cool before storing.

I keep mine in the fridge so it stays extra crunchy. A-may-zing.

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Fresh Grilled Corn and Black Bean Salad

Everybody Likes Sandwiches just says yum yum make it now. I made a few key changes to the recipe, and now it is even more important that you make this salad. Fresh corn, grilled in the dressing … oh. my. Few salads will be able to satisfy you ever again (not that I don’t have a few up my sleeve that can do it).

Fresh Grilled Corn and Black Bean Salad

Adapted from Everybody Likes Sandwiches

2 cobs of corn

1/4 red onion, diced

1 red pepper, diced

1 green pepper, diced

1/2 cucumber, diced

1 avocado, diced

1/3 c feta

handful of fresh parsley, basil, thyme

1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed

Dressing:

1/2 c olive oil

juice of 3 limes (should equal approximately 1/3 c)

1/3 c pomegranate juice

1/2 t hot smoked paprika

1/2 t old bay seasoning

salt and pepper to taste

In a small jar, combine the dressing ingredients and shake shake shake. Grill the corn, turning and brushing with the dressing, until it is ready (starts to darken) (about 10 minutes).

Using a sharp knife, slice off the corn kernels and place them into a large bowl. Add in the diced onion, peppers, and cucumber and sprinkle in the fresh herbs. Toss in the black beans, feta and avocado.

Pour the rest of the dressing over the salad and give everything a nice big toss. Give it some time to marinate (30 minutes to an hour). Serves many but double the recipe if you’re serving many more.

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