Thug Kitchen is my Spirit Animal

I spent a whole Saturday reading through the first Thug Kitchen cookbook and then that week ahead I spent the whole week making recipes from it. They were devine recipes, language and all.

If you don’t know about Thug Kitchen, you need to peep dat shit. I’m pretty sure Thug Kitchen is my spirit animal. I hope no one thinks I’m trying to copy them by the way I write, I just, I get it.

The first thing you need to know is that they use some ris-kay language. Which is GREAT. It really makes the recipe reading hold your attention. And they call you out if they know you’re being a little bitch. I need that in my life, because I am often being a little bitch.

The cookbook had so much more than just recipes. There was a section on how to marinate and bake tofu. I’ve been doing this for years now and have never tried it the way they presented it. I am turnin’ dat oven up to 11 next time I bake some mother fuckin’ tofu.

They give a nice list of must-haves for the kitchen to get your started, from kitchen utensils to kitchen cabinet essentials. I felt pretty good to know that I already had all of these things. Hell yeah, just a modern day cooking artist right here. Note: Melon Baller was NOT on the list. Fuck that thing.

The most helpful section to me was about learning how to substitute ingredients in a recipe. If you don’t have this, just use this. BUT don’t try to substitute a green pepper for an onion because that shit just isn’t the same. And what did I do during my week of trying Thug Kitchen recipes? For every recipe I tried, I forgot an ingredient or 2 and tried to substitute. Some were successful, some were not. I could hear them cursing at me in my head each time I fucked up the dish. More on that later.

I guess what you really need to know is that Thug Kitchen is a vegan cookbook. Though I feel like if I never told you that, you wouldn’t have been able to guess it. The recipes are so rich in flavor and full of ingredients that you don’t even notice the meat is missing. Even the cheese. We made tacos without cheese and it was still baller. The healthy ingredients are off the chart, your heart will be feelin’ extra strong after a week of Thug Kitchen.

I went through the whole book and didn’t write any of my favorites down. I was like shit, I have to go back through this book again to find dinners for this week? Luckily, our trusty friend Aaron was here to handle this for me. He flipped to random pages and those were the dinners for the week – easy peasy! Unless you’re Aaron, it probably wasn’t so easy for him. I say this because I am a difficult person.

Here is an example:
He flips to tofu tacos. While this excites me, I am also immediately against it because it combines tofu and tacos which means that we cannot have a taco dish or a tofu dish again during the week. He is flabbergasted. He explains to me that there are very different types of tacos in this book, I could have tacos all week long if I wanted to. Same with tofu, there are many different flavor profiles that tofu can have, so why not have it more than once a week? He goes on to say how tofu is a bean, just like black beans, which is also something I only like to have once a week. Well, folks, we had a week of different types of beans thanks to Aaron convincing me that I am ridiculous.

The weeks menu looked like this:
1. White bean and lentil burgers with fries
2. 5 spice chinese stir fry
3. BBQ bean burger with peach salsa
4. Tofu scramble tacos

The grocery list was long AF. I asked if I had to get real broccoli as apposed to the frozen broccoli I already had. Aaron insisted I do so. I told him this was too much fresh produce! He said “it’s one section of the grocery store!” Ok fine, you win. What happens when we get to the store? Joe is like, “why do we need all this produce?” BECAUSE AARON SAID SO THAT’S WHY.

It was fun cooking with things I have never cooked with before though. Aaron got a picture of our dinner every night that week only to be upset he wasn’t there to eat it with us.

Hold on to your butts, this is going to be a wild week of vegan cooking. Stay tuned to hear how I fucked these recipes up.

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Failed Improv

It’s been a year since I last updated and don’t get your hopes up that this means I will update again. This must also mean that I have more confidence in cooking and fail less. That one is up for debate. Here’s a story about how I failed at thinking I could make up a recipe.

Things I Had:
– 3 pounds of yukon gold potatoes
– frozen morning star fachikin
– 1 avocado
– a bunch of spices
– an old red onion

Things I Didn’t Have:
– everything else.

The recipe I tried to make was called Roasted Potato Cups with Loaded Guacamole which was inspired by http://potluck.ohmyveggies.com/roasted-potato-cups-loaded-guacamole/

I thought I could dress up the potatoes with the taco-ish spices and then stuff smashed avocado and a piece of fake chicken inside. Sounds good, right? Errrrr.

Step 1:
– Cut potatoes in half
– Scoop out potato flesh with melon baller or teaspoon
– You can bake the potato flesh balls and it will be like a tater tot

My Step 1:
– Ok I’ve cut the potato in half, but there’s still a big chunk left here in the middle
– What is a melon baller?
– Is this a different kind of teaspoon then the usual measuring device? Is there something I don’t know about teaspoons? Do they double as knifes? How is a round thing supposed to puncture a raw potato?
– Dig a spoon into the potato as hard as you can, which is not very hard, and nearly impossible
– Try to use a knife to cut a hole and then scoop out with spoon. How do I make a knife cut round? Whoops wen’t all the way through the potato with that slice.
– Are the potatoes going to cook if I barely cut any flesh out?
– Give up after a few potatoes and just cut into fries

Step 2:
– Bake the shit
– Prepare the shit to stuff with

My Step 2:
– Shit bakes unevenly because different sizes
– Microwave weird morning star fachikin strips that are nearly freezer burned and feel super rubbery
– Taste weird fachikin
– Cry.
– Cut the avocado and worry that it is too far gone to eat

Now, we eat. Or we don’t eat. Depending on how you feel about this mess.

Lessons Learned:
– Potatoes make everything better, but nothing can make a weird fachikin better
– Avocados are delicious, but guac is better
– Lucky Charms for dinner is good too.

This look was appropriate (this image size is pretty appropriate too):
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I’m good at something!

I decided one rainy night that I wanted, what I call, “A Frank Dinner” (AFD!). The main ingredient in an AFD! is garlic. You basically want to leave your house smelling like garlic for days and have to brush your teeth 2-3 times to smell normal again. The only downside is the vampires it attracts.

An AFD! also typically consists of salmon and a green vegetable. I devise the plan for lemon pepper salmon and rosemary roasted potatoes and asparagus. Of course, all of this is covered in garlic too.

I had never cooked salmon in a frying pan, never roasted potatoes successfully, and never roasted asparagus. YORO (You Only Roast Once)…

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Things:

  1. I was told that different types of potatoes need to roast at different temperatures. So I googled red potatoes this time for ultimate success
  2. I’ve got this garlic mincer, but how do I get it equally across everything? Welp, I’ll just toss it all over and hope for the best (same with the rosemary)
  3. I dribbled olive oil all over everything a tablespoon at a time
  4. Salmon in a pan, hmmm.
  5. Salmon in a pan.
  6. PUT THE SALMON IN THE PAN!
  7. Heat the olive oil in the pan first?
  8. Heat the olive oil in the pan second?
  9. Just do it already.
  10. Sprinkle so much lemon pepper on the salmon that it looks like a mass pepper murder
  11. 5 min each side, wow this is working…
  12. Oh I got this handy dandy meat thermometer, let’s use that…
  13. IT’S GOOD!

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The verdict: “Wow, you’ve been lying to me this whole time, you really can cook” – Joe.

Ohhhhhhhhhhhh yeahhhhhhhhhh.

It’s safe to say the house and us smelled like garlic for days. AFD! success! The rosemary also got everywhere. It’s like the herpes of cooking, can’t get rid of it!

Stay tuned to find out how repeating this recipe resulted in a few fails…

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Knife choppin’

I really need to learn how to use a knife. I remember going to get one for Joe as a present and there was a knife guy in the store. He asked me to step up to the cutting board and try the knife out and it was super embarrassing. Apparently you need to stand a certain way. Right because my legs have to do with my hands, that makes sense. It’s just like sports with having to have the right form and shit. I don’t do “form”. I do things the Jess way.

I tried to cut a lemon to make flavored water. And, well, this is what I ended up with as trash:

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Im not sure how/why I wasted so much of it. Alls I know is you gotta cut the butts off! Hey, at least I used a serrated knife.

Onions are quite possibly the worst. I’m feeling all good about my cutting ability as I get it down to four pieces. Then it falls apart like a Jenga game. I also feel like I have to hold my breath while cutting it. As soon as I breathe, all hell breaks loose in my eyes, nose, and throat. I try all the silly tricks like putting a spoon in my mouth. I think next time I’ll wear goggles. Oh my eyes, they burn! I do find it fun when you get down to smaller pieces, you can just start chopping in every direction along the cutting board. But when you eat my food, you definitely are not going to get even pieces of onion in your dish. Srs I’m not srs.

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While we are on the topic of onions, can we discuss purchasing them for a moment? I am looking for a yellow onion in the store. Sure, my eyes see a yellow one. But yellow doesn’t always mean yellow, stranger things have happened. The sign says “onions sweet”. Oh, okay. THAT DOESN’T HELP ME. Is it white or yellow? Do I need it to be sweet? Is a yellow onion sweet? Is a white onion the same as a yellow onion then? I HAVE QUESTIONS PEOPLE.

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I’ve been seeing commercials for The Worst Cooks in America and I’ve come to find out that they’re doing a celebrity edition. This makes me feel better about not getting a call back *glare* BUT they are advertising not knowing how to use a knife. Me either dudes, me either. I’m not sure I would survive on that show simply because I can’t get the basics down. Oh the messes I have made.

I prefer to just break things apart, like these delicious Hello Kitty cookies. Break, bake, and go!

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I’m just going to become a shark and cut things with my teeth instead.

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The Worst Cook in America

Getting married is awesome because you obtain a bunch of new kitchen supplies. Most of which I do not know how to use. But I will say that they make attempting to cook more enjoyable. I couldn’t tell you what half the nonsense was in Crate and Barrel where we did our registry. Do we need this? What is this? Why is it this shape? I guess we are going to find out in the coming months while we attempt to use these new fancy bojangles.

I watch a lot of Food Network, which doesn’t aid me in my cooking techniques at all, but hey it’s entertaining. One day I caught an episode of the show The Worst Cooks In America. I thought to myself, holy shit, I could be on this show! A show dedicated to not knowing what you’re doing? How perfect! Basically there are 2 teams that learn from famous chefs and you get sent home if you don’t measure up to the challenge.

I decided to go on their website and see what the auditioning process is like. Like most companies, their website lacked the content I was looking for. It had casting dates for the past, so I wasn’t sure if I could fill out the application at anytime – I emailed them these questions and never heard back. Until a few months later, I got a response that casting was open and they would be updating their site soon (yeah right).

I headed back over and filled out the lengthy application. Then I received an email asking me to fill out an attached questionnaire, a day later I received a reminder to fill it out. Girl, slow your roll, I’m gettin’ to it. It had the same damn questions. How many times can I answer “What is your most embarrassing kitchen story?”, “Do you have any kitchen phobias?” Honey, there are not enough lines on this application for me to fill out my probs.

I was walking around Home Depot one Saturday and received a phone call from Cali and normally I don’t answer strange phone numbers, but I had a feeling. It was a casting guy! Asking me the same damn questions again. He was super nice and I enjoyed the conversation. This was shortly after the Baltimore Riots, so of course I was asked about that too. He said if they chose to cast me, he would call in the next few weeks…never heard back. Bummer.

But I would like to think this means I made it to the final rounds of casting and I am a runner up to being The Worst Cook in America. 😉

To combat this horrible horrible loss, my matron of honor got me a book for our wedding titled “The I Don’t Know How To Cook Cookbook”. This book is ahhhmazing! It has the definitions for everything you could think of, even SPOON! It has little tid bits like how to brown ground beef. All sorts of things to answer my daily questions when recipes don’t explain things fully. It also has a lot of vegetarian recipes which is always ideal. Only thing it’s missing is pictures, ha.

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I don’t think I ever would have made it passed the first round on Worst Cooks… I can’t even use a knife properly.

Plus, I’d miss my cats if I was gone for a few weeks. Check out these rad pics my matron of honor’s husband took the day of our wedding…

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BBLK PHOTOGRAPHY

Make your own mac n cheese they says, it’ll be easy they says…

Happy New Year!

Last year I made some mac n cheese and while a lot of dumb happened, it tasted like a lot of good.

“Easy Southwest Mac N Cheese” – easy they says…

I look at the list of ingredients and the first thing I notice is that I don’t like half of them. But I like mac n cheese, so I guess this will end up good. One thing I am definitely omitting is the onions, onions are not mac nor cheese in my experience, so it’s gotta be ok. Everything else can stay, for now.

First I need a big ol’ pot for just the garlic. Why such a big pot for just garlic? Do I put the garlic in the nutcracker press? I’ve never not done that with garlic, is this supposed to be different? I swore I read it 5 times and saw nothing about that. Because I am home alone, I text my trusty side kick Jackie. She says “are you sure it doesn’t say mince somewhere?” Oh, sure enough, it does! I was also doubling the recipe so it becomes like 4 little nubbies of garlic, pressed (minced? same thing?) into the big ol’ pot. Seems like a lot. This part you are supposed to combine with an onion, but I say hell no to onions. The recipe says that they should be “soft and transparent”, so I’m waiting for the garlic to appear this way and it’s just turning brown. Guess that means I burned it. Can I still eat it? Did I ruin the whole thing? I don’t care, lettuce keep going.

Turns out the transparent thing was about the onions, not the garlic. Good to know, thanks a lot, not specific directions. Not to mention the directions say “saute”, excuse me? Come again? You could at least throw a link in there to explain what “saute” is. You know I don’t speak mexican!

Here the cats are, trying to escape in case I burn the house down…

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Next was easy: Drain the diced tomatoes, then add them to the pot with the frozen corn and chili powder. Continue to sauté until the corn has heated through. At this point I assume saute means just leave the burner on and stir. Why can’t we just say that instead? I also never trust recipes with spices, they always call for so little of the spice. What is the point if you’re only using a little bit? I say go big or go home. I might regret this shortly.

Turn the heat off and add the drained pasta and Greek yogurt. Oooooooh okay now I get why we are using sucha big pot. I don’t particularly like yogurt either, but I am trusting this recipe here.

Stir until the pasta is coated in the creamy sauce. Add the cheese and stir until the residual heat has melted it into the sauce. If you pasta has cooled too much to melt the cheese, keep the burner on low as you stir the cheese into the sauce. Didn’t have to worry about that last part, thank jeebus.

Serve hot sprinkled with the sliced green onions. Well, my green onions were a bit old. I sent a picture to my trusty side kick to see if I could still use them. Just had to cut some bad parts off. I didn’t realize that they needed to be chopped super fine, I had chopped them kind of big. I don’t particularly like green onions, but it probably made sense for this recipe.

All in all, it was actually very good! The burnt garlic didn’t ruin it, though I did use a lot because it was a bit spicy for me.

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Chickens stuffed with random junk from your trunk

Usually on Sunday nights I make myself a bland ass dinner. Bland ass chicken, bland ass mashed potatoes, and bland ass green beans. I take it to work as leftovers and my co-workers make fun of me for my super white meal with no sauce or flavor. So this time I decided to try to jazz it up, and guess what, my food still got called bland and even powdery. Well listen up, it’s time to make some chickens stuffed with spinach and cream cheese and other random junk from your trunk.

I liked this recipe because I already had most of the ingredients. My beef with most recipes is that it calls for 1/4 of something that I have to go out and buy and will never use again. Though, that’s my beef with this recipe too. 1/4 teaspoon of a spice, am I even gonna taste that? What is the point. I dernt kner. But the chef gods of the world tell me it’s how this shit rolls, so let’s roll…

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First ya make the filling.

1. 4 ounces of cream cheese – okay but my measuring cup is CUPS, how do I measure ounces? Oh cool, cup, you have ounces too. Except the damn cream cheese sticks to the spoon, how are you supposed to get this shit off? Maybe a handy fork will work. Nope, just getting more stuck. Did I mention I don’t even like cream cheese? Maybe a spoon will help me to get the stuck shit off the fork. Now I’m more stuck. I wish I could use an emoticon right now.

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2. Half cup packed, baby spinach, chopped – Why do they only sell ingredients in large ass sizes? I have this giant tub of spinach and I only need a half cup? Can I has moar? Will chopping it and not chopping it make it different measurements? I’ll let Joe do the chopping, because as we all know, I would mess this shit up. Let’s also put it in the same measuring cup the cream cheese was in because I don’t like to dirty more dishes and all this shit is going to the same place anyways. The toilet, amirite?

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3. 2 scallions – newp. bye. Half a jalapeño – newp. bye. Half teaspoon of salt – newp. bye. Salt is bad, mmmkay. And wtf good is a half of a teaspoon going to do? Seems super pointless.

4. 3 cloves (1 tablespoon) fresh garlic, minced – garlic still scares me since my incident with the nutcracker. I had Joe tear it up because I’m always afraid of doing it wrong, but then he made me crush it in the press. Though I am very impressed with myself, I crushed this shit like a boss. I guess I got some muscles since my last attempt at garlic.

5. Half teaspoon red pepper flakes and fourth teaspoon of ground black pepper – Add more really small measurements of spices because that makes fucking sense. Why do spices exist? Someone, somewhere was like Yo let’s make this really fine shit that people will go nuts for sprinkling it all on top of their food thinkin’ it taste all good. Placebo effect, I’m telling ya. Why do these tiny measurements exist too? I do not understand the point in something so small, how can it have an effect? If you say so…

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So now you mix all that shit together with a rubber spatula. First of all, whys it gotta be rubber? Does that prevent sticking? I thought we didn’t have a rubber spatula because for some reason I pictured them white. Whys it gotta be white? Doesn’t fucking work anyways. Clumps of cream cheese it is!

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Now to prepare the chickens…

The recipe said to butterfly the chicken breasts. What in the flying ferdinand is butterfly? It probably involves some fancy knife trick that I am not familiar with. You know what a better solution is? Just buy the chicken thinner, then you do less work, duh dummies. This bites me in the ass later…

1. Take 2 eggs and beat em in a bowl. Joe complimented my egg cracking skills, yay I can do something right!

2. Time to combine some more useless amounts of shit and I’m skipping the salt again – fourth teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper (I have such a problem with these terms, freshly ground? It’s effing pepper), half teaspoon of italian seasoning (I had 2 jars, 1 with holes and 1 that opened up completely so I decided to use the wide open top in order to stick the measuring guy inside – yay efficiency), half cup grated parmesan cheese, 1 and a half cup panko bread crumbs (oops I only had regular type, that’ll do)

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3. Cheese. This is where I fucked up the most. The way the recipe was written, it was like I was supposed to mix the cheese into this bread crumb bowl mixture. But really I was supposed to save it to put on top of the creme cheese concoction. So anyways, it says 4 slices of swiss or mozz cheese. All I have is shredded cheese, so what do I do? Take out a slice of cheese and lay the mozz on top until I get myself a slice full of shredded cheese. Until Joe points out that these packages have measurements on them, so I can figure this one out easier if only I knew math.

Now that you got all your bowls together with your shit, you’re ready to mix and dip and dance a doodle doo.

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1. Take your “butterflied” chicken *eye roll* and scoop some creme cheese mixture into the middle then roll that bitch up. If you’re smart, you’ll use a toothpick to hold it together. If you’re me, you’ll use your hands and YOLO

2. Dip that bitch into the eggs

3. Dip that bitch into the bread crumb mixture

4. Set that rolled up bitch in your pan. Water, rinse, repeat with the rest of your breasts. But be careful to not get any on your actual breasticles. If you did use toothpicks, don’t forget to take them out when it’s time to eat. That’s what the recipe says anyways, probably to protect idiots like me who will assume toothpicks are editable.

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5. Now bake these little bitches for some amount of time at some temperature (I can’t give all my secrets away). And if you’re me and didn’t butterfly your breasticles, you will end up cooking the chicken for way too long and it’ll taste dry and the mozz you accidentally put on the outside will just burn up.

Enjoy your pile of shit. Go be a vegetarian asshole. photo 4

The cats and their feet could not even be bothered with this recipe:

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