Monday, November 30, 2009

An Ode To Salty Crunchy Things.

If ever given the choice between salty and sweet - salty would win ten times over! Beside chips, popcorn and the usual salty alternatives to a crispy corn chip I find it hard to keep my cravings in tact for long.

My newest obsession comes to us from Natalie who has been roasting chickpeas since she was born (or at least for the last month). Her recipe is of the spiced variety (marjoram, all spice, etc) - so I saw this as an opportunity to rip from her the basics and play a little ditty closer to my own taste buds symphony....and let me tell you it hit all the right notes! A+

Roasted Smoked Paprika Chickpeas
2 Cans of Chickpeas, Drained.
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
3 Tablespoons Curry Powder
3 Tablespoons Smoked Paprika
Salt and Pepper to taste.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, roast (tossing once) on a foil lined baking sheet for 45 minutes at 350.

................that's all she wrote, folks. Simple. Succulent. Stupendous.

Nothing Says Thanksgiving Like A Diorama!

I did something kind of out of character for me this Thanksgiving - I didnt really cook. I didnt slack and offer no help whatsoever, but I took a break from concoctions and experiments and made something very simple: Apricot Cranberry Sauce. We attended a 30 person meal so there was no lack of food around the table that day, luckily!

Apricot Cranberry Sauce
4 Cups of cranberries. (frozen ok, but thaw).
2 cups of water.
1/2 jar of Apricot Preserves
1 Cup of Sugar

Bring cranberries, water and sugar to boil. Stir in apricot preserves, let boil for 10 minutes until cranberry skins pop. Will thicken once removed from burner. Serve hot or cold.


Other amazingly notable things from the weekend were:

1. The "Pilgims and Indians" Thanksgiving Diorama Shawn and I made for the party! It took 3 hours and tested our personalities. Yeah for crafting! Boo for crafting with your partner. Man, if you can get through hot glue guns and exacto knives - you're set for life!

2. The Bloody Mary Bar at Thanksgiving was a hit! Bloody Marys are the only reason getting up for 10am football was acceptable for me. Favorite new combination: pickle juice & chipotle sauce!

3. Crab Legs & Rack Of Lamb. All originally meant for Thanksgiving day, these treasures were cooked up Saturday night and enjoyed with 10 bottles of wine and a rousing game of celebrity and drinking jenga. Sexy legs there, Josh! I mean sexy CRAB legs. :)

4. Our own Thanksgiving! As if we didnt eat enough on Thursday, we decided to make the most of our roaster and make our own mini Thanksgiving Sunday night while watching Freaks & Geeks and setting up the Christmas tree. I have to say, I made killer stuffing! Although, really it was just onions, bread and turkey stock (thanks, nat!)

5. Josh's homemade bread and Leslie's Sausage & Biscuits! Shawn's Turducken.

6. David bringing VooDoo Donuts from Portland!

There are so many things to be thankful for this year, I cant wait to make another year of things to thank you for!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

4th Annual Tapas & Trivia!

<------------- this picture represents alot about Saturday night, as my good friends (besties Jenny & Aaron) drove up from Los Angeles to surprise me! Heart beats, heart stops, gushing. It was a fantastic thought and I felt super loved. I love love! Of course they swept in and ended up winning the whole shebang on team "Full Metal Nutsack". There were oh so many surprises on Saturday night as well - but the rest were all culinary. I have listed a few of my favorites -

1. Shawns homemade Country Ham & Cheddar stuffed pretzels. The amount of work he put into these was astonishing. I was jealous at his patience and idea....kudos.

2. Erin and Josh brought these adorable little hollowed out pumpkins to serve butternut squash soup with - and even topped it with homemade toasted pumpkin seeds. A for effort!

3. Espresso Cream Cheese Brownie Bites! (all. shawn.).

4. My own (tooting horn, thanks!) Pancetta Chicken Meatballs with Saffron Aoili. This was modified from a Smitten Kitchen recipe for baked meatballs but I added the pancetta and kicked ass!

5. Michael's not pictured) lamb lettuce and tzatiki rollups. I am on Team Lamb these days. (+nats spiced chickpeas!)

6. Darcy's Vegan Sherry Sesame cookies.

7. I tried to recreate a drink I love at Ramblas - a basil and lemonade vodka drink - yum!

In a pitcher combine 3 cups vodka, 3 lemons + their juice, simple syrup and 3 bunches of basil. Refrigerate for 3 hours, then when guests arrive - pour in 2 bottles of lemon sparkling water. Serve over ice!
I'd say my only fails this time around were: no one really ate the sage shortbread i made (taken from a friends olive oil blog) and the plantain chips should have been served HOT and did not really survive the day and got soggy.

I just wanted to thank every one for attending - Team Jihad, The Rod Beldings, 8675309 , Team Titty Fuck and Hold Me Closer Tony Danza. I love that all your support will make a next year be year 5!

Just Some Good Old Fashioned Goddamn Good Food

After many months of social pressure and snide side comments about other people getting to go to Alex & Morinda's for dinner (wisco crew)- they finally took a hint and had us over! What better a bond to friendship than guilt and pushiness? I know how I roll and I DO not apologize.

(Alex happens to be a CIA trained chef, beeteebubs. hence the love affair with chatting him up.)

New friends, new food - great night. You MUST see the fruits of his labor to full grasp the deliciousness. We missed the hours of prep so I couldnt even begin to tell you the process but behold the Lobster Pad Thai and Roasted Pork Belly Green Curry.

I even ate leftovers!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Food For Ya Brain.

Last night was the 2nd meeting of Paperbacks & Pinot (although, ironic this book did not come in paperback, it was hardcore hardcover). It was hosted at my apartment - and we read Baking Cakes In Kigali. Although, the general consensus of whether the book was good or not was split down the middle - one thing is for sure - this book club knows how to bake.

I mean dont even try! These ladies (+Stephen) are ferocious!

Dont. EVEN. Get. Me. Started.

I believe the spread (not pictured) included:
-Vegan Ginger Cupcakes.
-Choco Chip Pumpkin Bread.
-Choco Strawberry 2 Layer Cake.
-Banana Cake.
-Baked Brie w/walnuts.

It was certainly a belly full of sugar by the end of the night! I made an attempt to make a recipe I saw on for a Sweet Potato Swiss Chard Gratin but substituted the chard for spinach. It was altogether uninspiring as I forgot to add nutmeg to the bechamel sauce and I didnt dry out the spinach as well as I thought, so it was watery. I wouldnt make it again, but I every once in a while I like to pull up the pretty picture online and look wistfully at what could have been.

For your reference:

Monday, November 16, 2009


I have been getting good lately tailoring specific meals to different people. Vegans. Gluten Frees. Lactose Intolerant. I forgot however - Jenny doesnt like hummus, or hummus like things. I guess i didnt forget so much as "never know". but all the same, I felt bad.

Friday night my close friends Jenny and Evie from college and Los Angeles came into town for the weekend and I decided a quiet night in and a homemade dinner over wine was in order. Evie cant eat too much cheese - so I decided a nice appetizer would be a chickpea spread, not unlike the kind you get when you have dinner at Firefly. I forgot to take pictures of it (MISSED BLOGGGING OPPORTUNITY ALERT) - but I made Almond Encrusted Chicken over Lemony Pomegranate Spinach for dinner. I think it was too healthy in the end to be overly wow-able.

We had a fantastic weekend in the sunshine, though. Saturday we had breakfast at Tartine (on Gough), lunch was sandwiches from Bi-Rite and then people watching in Dolores park. For dinner and the BEST margarita in town we went to El Toreadore in West Portal - and then a nice Mission goodbye breakfast at The Pork Store.

Sadly, I didnt take any pictures this weekend :( but enjoy the recipe!

Curried Chickpea Spread
2 cans of chickpeas, drained
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
2 cups chicken broth (can be made veggie).
5 sun dried tomatoes, chopped.
1/4 cup olive oil.
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 juiced, + zest

Step One: Heat a pan over medium heat with the chopped garlic. Add broth. Simmer the chickpeas and sun dried tomato covered for 15 minutes or until soft. Let cool for 10 minutes or until warm, but not steaming hot.

Step Two: Transfer to the food processor.(I needed two batches as I have a tiny tiny one) - and pulse until mashed then stream in the olive oil. Once removed from the machine - add in the smoked paprika, the curry powder and the lemon juice + some zest.

Step Three: Refrigerate for minimum two hours and serve cold.


Thursday, November 12, 2009


If you look closer at the human experience, I think you will find sometimes there is the same pleasure in watching someone succeed as watching someone fail. I'm not saying you want your friend not to pass the bar, or your neighbor to take a dive off his bicycle handle bars and eat shit -but the mere existence of failure can sometimes be motivation to do better and to feel like its not just you that can be borderline incompetent.

This is why I share with you an EPIC fail. I hope you laugh at me secretly behind my back, smugly profess you would never fail this large and maybe, just maybe - learn from my mistakes.

A close friend of mine was just recently diagnosed with Celiac Disease so I decided I would whip up a batch of Vegan/Gluten Free Choco Chip Cookies to send to her. Then I realized the next night we were going to Kris & Darcy's for dinner - so I could kill two birds with one stone! Half to my friend, half to a vegan. And.....what.....transpired, my friends ,was chalky cookie soup. Indigestible by even my enemies! I guess I'll take the curiosity of where I went wrong to the grave....but I hope this never happens again. Never again.


The Veggie Sneak

As most of you know, its a very large struggle to get Shawn to eat vegetables. He claims they taste too bitter to be consumed enjoyably, but I'm calling weak sauce for the rest of our lives! I will never stop thinking that he just hasnt had them cooked correctly. Please dont play into his theory that its a medical condition -until its documented OUTSIDE the Internet, its not real. Anyhow, I wanted to make these little darlings as a side last night and first checked with Shawn online to see if he'd be could you turn down these golden delicious cakes of love? Crispy, salty, bite sized and a great alternative to a carb laden latke. Success! Shawn loved them so much he did a little dance. I mean, we did top them with a delicious (non healthy) Sour Cream & Chive dollop - but I am not going to downplay that something GREEN went down his gullet.

Crispy Parmesan Zucchini Cakes

1 large zucchini grated, excess water removed (Note: To do this, after you grate the zucchini, put the grated zucchini into paper towels and squeeze to release the water)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 clove garlic, minced
1 egg
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 tablespoons olive oil

Step One: Combine all ingredients, except olive oil, in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Using a heaping tablespoon form the mixture into 8 patties.

Step Two: Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Once heated, add patties and cook until golden brown. About 3-4 minutes per side. Serve.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Hello, Awesome.

I wasn't lying when I said there would be a total extreme consumption of everything Pumpkin this season. I'm pretty much hoping to puke orange by Christmas. I've been scouring the blogs for good heartwarming friendly sexy warm fall recipes - but Shawn has topped me for the 2nd time! Behold: Curried Pumpkin Apple Soup.

This dish, however, was made under different circumstances - it was an olive branch from Shawn after to go to the Emergency Room with me on Sunday (granted, it was after a 7 hour flight back from Wisconsin) - where I was diagnosed with strep throat. And what a delicious NON OLIVE olive branch.

I would make a lame joke about how he should fuck up more often but its pretty much rare that he ever does anything wrong :) so I'll take it every once in a while.

Curried Pumpkin Apple Soup
4 tablespoons vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup onion, chopped
2 apples, peeled, cored, coarsely chopped
5 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon cumin
2 cups broth
1-1/2 cups apple cider
2 cups pureed pumpkin (buttercup squash can also be used)
1 cup light cream or 1% milk
1/4 teaspoon maple syrup
1 cup fresh or frozen greens, chopped (kale, collards, spinach)

Directions:In large saucepan, heat 4 tablespoons of broth. Add onions, apples and garlic. Sauté until soft, about five minutes. Add spices, cook for one minute. Add broth and cider. Boil gently, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in pumpkin, cream/milk, and syrup. Cook for five minutes. In batches, purée in a blender or food processor. Return to saucepan, add chopped greens, and heat until warm.

Paso Robles, The OTHER Wine Country.

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity (or create it, really) to meet some of my bestest friends in Paso Robles this past weekend for some wine tasting. Its the natural mid point between San Francisco and Los Angeles so Jackie and I darted down and Pamela and Meagan swept up the coast. Beautiful drive down the 101 past the foliage and grape vines that are turning colors and listening to This American Life. A girl cant ask for more!

Upon arrival, our first tasting was at Four Vines on 46 West. We tasted a lot of Syrah's and some Zinfandel's. I am a huge fan of reds and have sometimes little patience for whites so this trip was good for me. Although, I''ll admit we tasted a nice white chardonnay here. Crisp. Appley.

Another PRO for this tasting was we got a free glass! I wouldnt buy a bottle from here - OR return - but I did have a pleasant experience.

Now for our second tasting we went to Linne Calodo which was one of those tastings which reminds you how shitty most of the wines you get at restaurants are and how if you had all the money in the world you'd buy nice wine. :)

But alas, thats not the reality. I highly recommend this winery tasting if you're also interested in a modern, country - minimalist architecture. It was both a sight to see and a grape you shouldnt miss, particularly the 2007 Problem Child which was 72% Zin and the rest Syrah. Like a dream come true!

Afterwards in true fashion we put on our pajamas, ordered Chinese food - watched the TERRIBLE UGLY TRUTH - took a hot tub and passed out! It was such a fun weekend!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Things I Was Obsessed With Last Week.

Its been quite a lackluster week in the life of the Kugs. Its pretty much consisted of going to work, going to the gym, going home. Lather, Rinse Repeat. Do not pass go. All Work and No Play makes Kate a dull girl. But here are a list of the TOP 5 THINGS I AM ALL ABOUT THIS WEEK:

1. Galcos in Los Angeles. My coworker sent me this video about this store in LA where the owner just LOVES SODA. I mean this guy plotzes for Stewarts and they have every kind of soda you can think of! I can appreciate a real passion for something so colorful. He hates on Diet Soda but I cant blame the guy. I have definitely made this my next stop when I visit Los Angeles. This video is also PRIME material for a Christopher Guest movie....

2. Brussel Sprouts. Confession: I've eaten brussel sprouts for dinner 3 times this week. Cut em up, toss em with salt and pepper and garlic and uncooked bacon, roast em at 400 for 40 minutes, turning twice - top with grated parm - salty love! Great dinner...once i get into something I cant stop until I never want to look at it again.

3. Corn Nuts. Ob-sessed. The End.

4. Modern Love from the NYT website. I blame Evie on sending me these very witty, personal essays from people of our generation and a little bit older. Good for an insightful read once a week.

5. Going home for XMAS! See picture of Albany....Snow! Friends! Family... 10 days off from work. Oh me oh my. then off to NYC for NYE. Heart palpatations...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Yet ANOTHER Pumpkin Recipe.

I think by the time I get to Thanksgiving I'll have hit my Pumpkin tolerance and my body will start rejecting the orange colored fall protein. But its not late November yet so bring on the fall fun!

Because I am lame and did NOT celebrate Halloween I was in bed by midnight on the 31st and in turn I was up at 7am on Sunday (with the time change). PLEASE, child - I was telling my body how uncalled for that was. I am not a toddler, I should be able to control this!

Anyway, I knew we were going to Paul and Tisha's to watch the Packers so I played "Whats in my cabinets?!" to bring something over. I also made HALF VEGAN (yes, I realize there's no such thing) - Chewy Choco Chip Pumpkin Cookies! I say Half Vegan as we had no eggs so I just used corn starch and water to substitute the two eggs.

2 Cups Flour
1 Can Pumpkin Pie Mix
2 (ideally) two eggs
1 stick of butter
1 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup of choco chips
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Step One: Preheat oven to 350. In a mixing bowl combine sugar and butter and vanilla with electric mixer until fluffy. Then slowly fold in the eggs (or cornstarch and water in my case!) - then fold in the pumpkin pie mix.

Step Two: Combine dry ingredients (flour, baking soda & powder & salt) - then fold into the wet. Add choco chips!

Step Three: Bake for 20 minutes or until cooked through!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Pump Up The Jam on this Pumpkin!

Also - the star of the night - so much of a star it needed its own post versus inclusion in the "Friday night dinner party" post....was Shawn's Savory Stuffed Pumpkin Appetizer.

It was life changing. Abby and I stole it away from the boys and consumed at the coffee table. I highly suggest this as a Thanksgiving appetizer, even!

These pictures dont even do it justice!

1 Small Pie Pumpkin
Toasted Bread Crumbs
3/4 cup of Heavy Cream
Goat Cheese (shawn bought herb)

Step One: Preheat oven to 375. Gut the sucker like you would when you are carving a pumpkin. Save the seeds for toasting! Soak the stem in water. Once its all scooped out - alternate bread and goat cheese until stuffed.

Step Two: Mix together cream with salt, pepper and nutmeg (cinnamon maybe too?) - pour into pumpkin over bread and cheese...

Step Three: Make a little tin foil bowl around the pumpkin and roast for 1 hour and a half on a cookie sheet, with the top on. After that - remove the top and cook for another 20 minutes to brown top.

Step Four: Cool. Serve with crackers or just pull apart for yummyness and put directly in your mouth!

A Fisherman's Dream!

Confession: I used a recipe.

As most people who know me, know my approach to most things in life are sloppy. This blog is sloppy, my makeup is always just slightly off and I am sure people on the street wonder if I even brush my hair...but when I want to buckle down - I can follow directions. Otherwise, I enjoy playing fast and loose.

On Friday, we had the pleasure (after many reschedules) of having Abby & Jim over for dinner. I saw this recipe in Bon Appetit that has absolutely possessed me since I saw it. I knew I HAD to make this or I may not survive the fall.

Behold: Cod, Chorizo, Mussels & Fried Crutons w/ Saffron Mayonnaise.

(This had a lot of complex flavors and we delicious, but I was disappointed that I served some of it cant be perfect!).

It was a fun night filled with Shell Silverstein readings, Jim's MateVeza beer....and Abby's delicious Apple Crumble - perfection in the fall! (pic below). Nothing soothes the soul like a night with new and old friends, sitting around the table - full and smiling...woozy from boozy.

I also made a really nice Fall Sangria -
2 Bottles of Rioja
1 Apple
1 Lemon
4 shots of vodka
1 cup cranberry juice
2 teaspoons agave nectar
1/2 bottle of Martinelli's Sparkling Cider
Mix & Refridgerate for 1 Hour