Sunday, September 18, 2011

Dessert Before Dinner

So this week, I've been *thinking* about my first recipe, but haven't executed it yet. (Obviously). This is due to me going batty due to
1) Finding a job
2) First week of my "diet"
3) Being a woman. Enough said.

So tonight, Sunday, I've decided to make brownies. Because that sounds like exactly what needs to be done in this situation, right?

These brownies are courtesy of Elana's Pantry. (Recipe found here). As mentioned in my previous post, she has been my inspiration for baking for the past 2 years. And when I say inspiration, I mean her recipes are 99.9% of my baking repertoire. She uses almond and coconut flours instead of wheat flours or complicated gluten-free mixes. In fact, what originally led me to her was her use of agave in her recipes (I have since moved to coconut palm sugar). See! My vegan, hippie, health nut baking style is creeping in.

The recipe was written for espresso fudge brownies, but I left out the espresso, so mine are just... brownies.

Subbed goat milk butter for shortening

 Added in a bit of Chocolove to get to the cup of chocolate

 Melted the chocolate and buttah

 Mixed in the coconut palm sugar, vanilla, eggs, salt
 Finished it off with some almond & coconut flour
Money shot

25 minutes later...

Yes, the monstrous puff goes away after it cools and it looks like a normal pan of brownies

And I actually let them cool for the full hour... willpower FTW. 

Oh yah

Elana, I'm not joking, these are the best brownies I've ever made. Gluten-free or gluten-filled -- best brownies I've ever made. Probably one of the best brownies I've ever had although I'm sure it was my baking expertise that led to their culinary perfection. ;)

So maybe these brownies aren't "diet" fare... but they're DAMN good, arguably healthier than your average brownie, and... well, I don't need to justify making brownies ;)

This Wednesday, I'm making my first recipe. I can't fail this blog already if I haven't even started! Chances are, I'll be doing a salsa/guacamole with a soup and salad from the book. Startin' off small, building up my confidence. Until then, I'll be enjoying these brownies.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Because Jen & Rick Sounded Creepier

Hello blog world! I am Jen, a 22 year old post-college graduate who, like millions of other young adults with general degree's, am unemployed, living with my parents, and struggling to find my place in the world (oh woe is me!)

I've followed various food blogs on-and-off for a while, yet quietly lurked, as I'm sure thousands do, and never interacted with the community. Sure, I'd offer up my anonymous two cents once in a while, to gush over a recipe, or enter a contest..., but for the most part, I've been mute and uninvolved. I never really intended to join in, until I stumbled upon a cookbook.

I'm not trying to make this out as an act of God (as I climbed the step ladder at Barnes and Noble, perfectly placed below *the* book, my fingers gravitated, willfully, magnetically towards the glossy cover...) but from that mundane trip to B&N, I did happen to stumble upon a cookbook that instantly inspired me to create a Julie & Julia style blog about it (the book which ironically was the winner of the Cookbook of the Year at the 1996 IACP/Julia Child Cookbook Awards which I admit to knowing nothing about).

"Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen" is the book I found, and have immediately fallen in love with, attempted recipes pending.

If the name isn't familiar, how's this for a memory jog?

Rick & Padma Lakshimi on Top Chef Masters rockin the purple shirt ;)

As a fellow Chicagoan, I rooted like crazy for him on Top Chef Masters, which he made look like child's play to win. And I don't know anyone that would dispute he appears to be the most down-to-earth, relatable guy, who just happens to be one of the best chefs in the world and *the* authority on Mexican cuisine. 

I've also had the honor of dining at one of his three Chicago restarants, Topolobampo. It was no joke, one of the best meals of my life, which is crazy considering I usually am not a fan of Mexican food. I plan on returning very soon, as the last time I ate there I was under 18 with a completely different outlook on life, food, alcohol, and my adoration for Rick Bayless. Seriously. :)

Given all that, suffice to say, I really was drawn to the cookbook.

So this is my current project as I search for a job to pay me enough to move out of my parent's house. I do love to cook, but have a lot to learn about the basics, which I'm anxious to do. One of my long term dreams is to open a restaurant, which is pretty damn hard to do with very little cooking experience!

I won't go into too much detail about myself yet, but since this will mainly be a food blog with the Rick Bayless project as the focus, it seems appropriate to give a short background on my foodie life which may help explain where I'm coming from when I work this project.

I'm a "reformed" vegan I suppose one could say. I am no longer strict, but for the most part do not eat dairy and land animals (cow, pig, chicken, you get the idea). I eat fish and eggs fairly often, as I am quite a sushi fiend. However, I still cook and eat from a vegan background and mindset. I am naturally inclined to use vegetable stock instead of chicken, and am drawn to side dishes and vegetables instead of proteins. I also come from a background of gluten-sensitivity that (obviously) influences my cooking and baking. 

"Avocado Dip" Courtesy of Elana's Pantry, a gluten-free food blogger who has influenced 90% of my cooking for the past 2 years!

That being said, I am not a "vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free" or anything-free cook. The things I cook for myself do not always reflect what I cook for others. I will be attempting all the recipes in this book, and eating them as well. I've learned to loosen the reins a bit when it comes to my diet, as my reasons behind my food choices (which, as with everyone's, are personal) change constantly!

Right now, my life pretty much revolves around getting healthy (those Freshman 15 made an encore appearance), finding a job, and writing this blog. I'll keep this blog mainly about the Rick Bayless Project (eek! No! That's not what I'm calling it... name is also pending), but I may interject at times to talk about fitness and other life adventures. All in all, I just hope to make some friends and good food along the way.

I don't know what that is, but I want to make it... and eat it.
The above photo is a dish from one of Rick's other restaurants, Frontera Grill. It looks... amazing.

I do plan on posting pictures of myself, of course the first epic recipe, and anything interesting along the way. 

Stay tuned for the first recipe! :)