Save a Cow. Make Turkey Chili.

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Chili. Chilly. They sound the same. Coincidence? I think not. What better time to enjoy a steamy, hearty bowl of chili than right now, when it’s wintery and cold. Chili in the summer? That just doesn’t make sense. If chili was a summer food, it would be called hottie, or something absurd like that. That would just be awkward. Good thing it is currently winter and you have at least until Groundhog Day to enjoy this. If there was actually snow on our mountains, I would love to end a full day of snowboarding with a bowl of this spicy goodness. As the snow is in a sad state, I’ll have to settle for ending a regular day with this bowl of spicy goodness. Delicious, nonetheless.

Now, before I get hate mail from chili purists, I’m just going to say that this is chili the way my family and I like it. It contains beans, which when confronted with chili, become a highly controversial legume. Some people are hard core anti-beans in chili. I don’t see why. They’re delicious and they add fiber and protein. Also, this chili is not exactly con carne. It’s con turquia (turkey). I’m a huge fan of ground turkey. It’s just as versatile as ground beef, and it’s a bit more health conscious. So if you’re open to new chili experiences, I know you’ll love this one, especially with a hunk of cornbread on the side.

Turkey Chili

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New Year’s Resolution: Cook!

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Happy New Year friends!! I took a longer break than I expected to, and I’m terribly sorry. But I’m getting back into the groove (aka back into the kitchen) and I’ll be writing more regularly from now on. Pinky swear.

For my first post of 2012, I thought it would be great to start off the year by going shopping. A lot of people I talk to say they don’t make interesting meals because they don’t have ingredients for them. That’s stupid. Take an hour out of your week, and go to the store. Stock up on some staples and grab a few fresh ingredients, and you’ll have the supplies to make basically anything. And by staples, I don’t mean neon orange mac ‘n’ cheese, ramen noodles, and frozen dinners. Put those down right now. Okay, keep one for an emergency, but put the other 19 boxes down.

Don’t know where to start? Lost in the grocery store? I can help! Here’s a list of what I keep in my kitchen:

I know, you miss me.

I’ll be back soon. I’m taking a brief hiatus. A sabbatical, if you will. Believe it or not, I have a life outside of my kitchen. If you experience separation anxiety, feel free to follow me on twitter @taylorsugarlips. Also, I’m blogging on Boarding for Breast Cancer (B4BC)’s tumblr. Check it out at b4bc.tumblr.com, and follow them on twitter as well, @b4bc.

Stay classy, my friends.

Food Truck Friday: Phamish

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Phor this week’s phood truck phriday, I bring you the Phamish truck.

From the Phamish website.

Phenominal, phabulous, Phamish truck. Okay, enough of that ph stuff. Phamish is serving up Vietnamese comforts such as banh mi (baguette sandwiches), goi cuon (spring rolls), pho (rice noodle soup), and bun (rice vermicelli with meat, lettuce, and pickled vegetables). Make sure you really are phamished (I couldn’t help it–last time, I promise) when you go, because the portions are HUGE. I was really hoping for some pho. I’ve never had it and it’s been on my to eat least for a long time. Unfortunately, they were not serving pho that day, so I went fo the next best thing–a grilled steak bun bowl. It was $7 or $8, and well worth it. The bun bowls come with your choice of meat, rice vermicelli, lettuce, cucumber, pickled carrots and daikon, bean sprouts, fresh cilantro and mint, green and fried onion, peanuts, and special sauce. If you know anything about me, you’ll know that this description made me really happy. I’ve already been over how much I love sides and condiments, and of course my obsession with pickles and pickled things. When I got my box of food, I was really impressed with how heavy it was. I peeped under the lid, and smiled at the lovely array of treats awaiting me. A healthy portion of noodles topped with chopped, grilled steak and crushed peanuts, cuddled up next to shredded lettuce and all of the other veggies, herbs, and pickled things.

The special sauce seemed to be a dressing of sorts, pretty mild flavor with a smattering of chili flakes to wake things up. I added a pump of chili paste to my box in case I felt like heating my meal up a bit more. I doused the veggies and salad with the special sauce, and dabbed the chili paste onto the steak, and dug in. Everything. Was. Phantastic (hehehe). The tender meat and the crunchy peanuts went perfectly together. The rice noodles were very plain, and I could have used some more sauce on them, but they added body and a nice smooth texture to the meal. The tangy daikon and salad lightly dressed in special sauce was super refreshing. There was seriously so much food that it hurt to eat as much as I did, and I didn’t even finish it all. Absolutely money well spent, and a wonderful meal that I would most definitely like to enjoy again. I also want to try it with some of the different meats, like the bo la lot (betel leaf wrapped beef…whatever that is) and lemongrass chicken. The pho and banh mi are also high on my list of foods to eat in the near future. Sadly, it appears as though I caught Phamish just in time, because a post on their website says they will be taking a hiatus for personal health reasons. I wish them the best, and hope everything will be fine. Until they return, you’ll just have to live vicariously through me, mouth watering and tummy rumbling!

Here’s a song.

Lips’ Quick Tip #4: Trail Mix

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Your fabulously fast and fun food feature is back for a fourth tip.  Today we’re making trail mix! Trail mix is a staple in my life. I’m on the go a lot, and trail mix’s sustaining powers are what keep me alive. You may be thinking to yourself, “Trail mix is so simple, so boring, why bother blogging about it?” To which my answer is, “Because.” How many times have you bought a pre-packaged trail mix rather than making your own? You probably buy it about 99.9% of the time. Actually, I’d venture to say you buy it about 100% of the time. You probably don’t even like all of the things in it, am I right?

Shelled almonds (Prunus dulcis)

Image via Wikipedia

I mean, who really wants those weird Brazil nuts? They look like sloth toes. Not appetizing. You’re wasting money dude. Plus, they usually add unnecessary stuff like extra salt and oil to the nuts.

By making your own, you get exactly what you want, how much of what you want, and you can control the nutritional content. I like my almonds raw, for example. They’re healthier and I think they taste better.

Ocean Spray Craisins brand dried cranberries

Image via Wikipedia

But is trail mix ever made of raw almonds? No. It’s not. I was sick and tired of the man telling me what kind of nuts and fruits were going to be in my trail mix, so I put my foot down, once and for all.

I bought a pound of raw almonds, a half pound of dried cranberries, and a bag of dark chocolate chunks (I used 5 oz. of them). Mix it all up and you’ve got trail mix for days, for a fraction of the price that an equivalent amount of store bought mix would cost, and it’s exactly what I want.

Dark Chocolate

Image by Fatma S via Flickr

Sometimes I get creative and add stuff like smoked paprika to an individual bag of it. I like the way the smokiness goes with the dark chocolate. That’s another beauty of this. It’s pretty basic, so you can customize it and have a slightly different flavor every day. I hope I’ve inspired you to rebel once and for all against pre-packaged mixes of 60% peanuts, 15% tree nuts, 15% petrified raisins, and 10% candy coated chocolate. There is so much more to life than that. I swear.

Bowl of Trail Mix

Happy munching!

Take a hike, eat some trail mix, and listen to this song.

Breakfast Taco…Because Breakfast Burritos Are Soooo Mainstream.

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I’m a pretty simple girl when it comes to breakfast. I don’t demand too much from my morning meal and and usually don’t have that much time for anything elaborate, so I typically stick with a healthy bowl of Raisin Bran and soy milk. However, today I was feeling deviant. Dangerous, even. I didn’t have a ton of time for breakfast grandeur, but I was determined to make it happen. I wanted something hot and hearty and delicious. I had a rumbling that only potatoes could satisfy. Potatoes, and bacon, and eggs, and cheese, and onions, and tomato, and a tortilla (I’ve been on a tortilla kick lately). I spun through my kitchen like a hungry tornado, racing against the clock to concoct my breakfast creation. In a flash, I had a thick cut piece of bacon sizzling away on a skillet. In another flash, I had burnt it. I always burn the bacon, without fail. I can cook anything else, but I always screw up the bacon. I trashed my failure, and cooked up another strip, carefully monitoring it this time. I chopped up a potato, onion, and garlic at lightning speed. I sauteed those, added an egg and some tomato, and tucked it all neatly into a tortilla, along with the bacon. I toasted my taco so it got a bit crispy and golden and voila. Breakfast was conquered and my stomach was satisfied.

Read on for the recipe for my…

Breakfast Taco

Food Truck Friday: Canter’s Delicatessen

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Sorry Food Truck Friday missed a week (and that I continuously fail to post it on a Friday). There were a variety of circumstances that kept me away from the deliciousness on wheels, the biggest of which was Halloween draining my wallet. Do not fret though! Your weekly dose of mobile nosh is back. This week’s installment is…

Canter’s Delicatessen

Not my picture. It's too nice. This is pulled from their website.

I had heard a lot of hype about Canter’s, and I knew they’ve been around for a while so they must be doing something right. Well, let’s just say, they most definitely are. Canter’s has been serving up old-fashioned deli sandwiches since 1931. With 80 years of sandwich crafting experience under their belts, they don’t mess around. I knew things were going to go well as soon as a I looked at the menu. The first thing I saw was that underneath the heading “Sandwiches” was the word “with.” I love when things come with other things. I don’t care what it is—chips, dipping sauce, some sort of salad, whatever. After “with” came “pickles.” Yeessssss. I love pickles. But wait, there’s more. Next came “&.” Pickles & something else?! Following the “&” was your choice…your choice…of coleslaw or potato salad. You get to pick! Incredible. All of this excitement, and I haven’t even got to the actual menu items yet. Lucky for you, I picked the first thing, or else we could be here all day. Pastrami. That’s all it said. No explanations, no apologies, just “Pastrami……..$8.50”. Now, I did balk a little at the price. I don’t like paying more than $7 for food. That’s just my magic number, for whatever reason, but I sucked it up because they were going to throw in pickles and a side. I ordered it with the suggested rye bread, and opted in for mustard. I even decided to pay fifty cents extra so I could try both the coleslaw and the potato salad, for the sake of blogging, of course. My food came lightning fast, despite there being a bit of a line. I sat down and unpacked my bag of wonders, not sure what to expect. I don’t think I’ve ever actually had pastrami on rye before. I removed the lids from the coleslaw and potato salad, unwrapped my precious pickle spears, and last, unveiled the sandwich. Things were looking promising.

I let the anticipation build, first tasting the coleslaw and the potato salad. Perfectly traditional and unassuming, which for once, I appreciated. They were slightly sweet, slightly tangy, creamy, and held no surprises. Comfortingly delicious. Next, the pickle. It was so perfect. Crispy, not too juicy but not dry, and it tasted like it was pickled in a unique house blend of spices.

As for the sandwich…I would love to bask in it’s simple glory every day.

Soft, chewy rye bread, lighter in color than a typical rye, spotted with floral fennel seeds. Even the crust was perfect–sprinkled with corn meal and more fennel seeds so that you see what you’re getting yourself into. Not crunchy or invasive, but tougher than the rest of the bread so that it adds some textural interest. Underneath the bread is a lathering of yellow mustard, which is the only condiment needed on this sandwich. And finally, we have pastrami. Layer upon layer of thinly sliced, tender, smoky, juicy, briny, rich, almost buttery beef, piled high on rye. Bites of sandwich punctuated with a cleansing forkful of slaw or potato salad and a nibble of pickle made for lunch time perfection. I almost couldn’t even finish it all. There was so much food. I could have easily shared with a friend, especially after getting the extra side. Wait, no, just kidding. I wouldn’t be able to share.

In case you didn’t gather, my Canter’s experience was sublime, and I can’t wait until they stop on campus again so I can try the turkey salad sandwich and the Reuben and the matzo ball soup and everything else on the menu.

Did someone say Sublime?

Banana Split Cake

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Ohhh my, my, my. I’ve really done it this time. I made something dangerously delicious. Like, sugar-coma-inducing, gain-10 lbs.-just-by-looking-at-it, I-need-an-intervention-because-I-can’t-stop-thinking-about-how-it’s-just-sitting-there-all-lonesome-in-the-kitchen delicious. I swear, it wasn’t my fault. It was my roommate’s fault. Every roommate gets a cake for their birthday. It’s a rule. This roommate wanted a banana cake, so I happily obliged. This wasn’t just any banana cake though. This was THE banana cake–everything you (and by you, I mean I…) could ever want in a cake and more. Moist, dense cake, pockets of caramely surprises, luscious chocolate frosting filling, just-sweet-enough cream cheese frosting on the outside, and most importantly, a proper cake-to-frosting ratio. This last bit, my friends, is key. I’m going to develop an exact formula for this ratio, and it will probably get me a Nobel Cake Prize. I know, that doesn’t exist…yet. I even piped a chocolate happy birthday message on top. Beat that.

This cake required a lot of thought. I wanted it to be super banana-y, but I didn’t want banana bread. It had to exhibit the qualities of a cake. I wanted chocolate to be incorporated, but not too much. The caramel was an after thought, but proved to be a very, very good choice. The cream cheese frosting had to be smooth and creamy and not too sugary, but also not too tart. If I do say so myself, I hit all of the nails right on the head.

I’m starting to feel embarrassed by all of this shameless bragging, so I’ll just give you the recipe and some nice pictures now.

Please forgive me. This is the only picture of the final product that I have. I took a bunch more pictures, but for some reason they are lost in digital land until further notice...

Banana Split Cake

Squash and Kale Pasta

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Wanna know what fall tastes like? Keep reading then.

It tastes like hearty, warm, squashy, kale-y, cheesy, melty goodness.

Here’s how this thing went down. On a whim, I bought an acorn squash and a bunch of purple kale. I love squash and kale. In the words of my loving roommate on my kale fetish, “I don’t know what your fixation is with this vegetable.” I don’t know what it is either. Something about coaxing delicious flavor out of a potentially bitter and fibrous leafy green fascinates me. As for the squash, I bought it with the intention of making my childhood favorite: steaming a squash half in the microwave with heaps a bit of butter and brown sugar. However, I didn’t feel like making something sweet at the time, but I did feel like squash. I browsed trusty ol’ foodnetwork.com and found a recipe that I changed up a little to conform to my ingredients, and here’s what I came up with.

Squash and Kale Pasta

Food Truck Friday: Calbi Fusion Tacos & Burritos

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**Spoiler Alert**

This is my first unfavorable review. Womp womp.

Oh beeteedubs, sorry Food Truck Friday keeps happening on days other than Friday. Sometimes my schedule gets messed up, but for the sake of posterity and alliteration, the name stays.

Back to the task at hand…

This is my semi-creepy stalker picture from my cell-phone camera. I felt too weird standing up and being obvious about my picture taking...

I’ve had Calbi tacos before. They were pretty good. Not nearly as good as Kogi, another Korean taco truck which results in the heavens opening up and angels singing every time I eat it, but they were still tasty. I ordered a burrito this time though to change things up. Typically, I order something without caring exactly what’s in it, because I’m not picky and I like everything. But for some reason, I felt like asking what was in the burrito before I ordered it. Good call, because Calbi puts a scrambled egg in their burritos, and eggs and I don’t have a great history. I asked for a spicy pork burrito sans egg, which left it including meat, sauce, and shredded lettuce. I’m pretty sure it was $5.99.

I was excited for my burrito. The truck smelled wonderful and I was starving.

I sat down under a tree and carefully unwrapped my little gem, layer by layer.

The anticipation grew.

I took the first bite. All tortilla, which is to be expected.

I took the second bit, eager for a full flavor experience.

Disappointment ensued.

I can’t put my finger on it, but there was a flavor in there that I was really not fond of. It might have been the sauce, or the marinade on the pork, but it was kind of sweet and peppery, and it reminded me of a flavor of beef jerky. It wasn’t the worst thing in the world–I finished the whole thing, covering each bite in spicy sauce–but I most definitely would not order it again. Maybe I’ll get their tacos another time, but Calbi failed my burrito approval test.

Sorry, Calbi. You just don’t start my…