Archive | January, 2014

Spicy Kinda Thai Chicken

30 Jan

Back in October, BFKef dipped his toes in the shallow end of cusine: the crockpot. Since the new year, he’s been a man possessed by the idea of cooking his own meals — I couldn’t be prouder!

This chicken is a riff on the one he made in his inaugural cooking session- sadly his vegetarian girlfriend didn’t try the fruits of his labor, but I did lick the sauce and it was delish!


I don’t know a ton about Thai food and know even less about chicken, so I really can’t attest to the veracity of today’s title–but BFKef was really smelling himself over this creation, so we’ll let authenticity slide for today.

Spicy Thai Chicken


  • 7 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (4 if you’re using the gargantuan Purdue hormone-pumped chicken)
  • 4 hot peppers, minced (BFKef used spicy Scotch Bonnets)
  • juice of 1.5 limes
  • zest of 1.5 limes
  • 2 heaping tsp red curry paste (this one has no sugar and, if memory serves, is paleo)
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • sprinkle of black pepper


1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl except for chicken. Once you get a nice pasty mixture, throw the chicken in there and make sure all the pieces get a nice coating. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours.

2. In a lightly greased saute pan, cook the chicken over medium heat in the juices until there is no pink, flipping once. BFKef reports that this took him about 7 minutes/side.

Sweet and Spicy Sweet Potato Chili

29 Jan

Nothing brings family together like the promise of food- my cousin, aunt, sister and I had been trying and trying to get together for ages. Victims of our own compulsive over scheduling, it wasn’t until BabyKef found this awesome chili recipe that we finally dropped everything and found the damn time.

No one could be bothered to take pictures of chili, though, because we were too busy enjoying the presence of the world’s cutest baby. Please pardon me for being a negligent blogger and praise me for being the world’s proudest Great Cousin. I followed the original recipe’s ingredients but add hot sauce and used a different procedure- my version is below.


Sweet and Spicy Sweet Potato Chili


  • 1.5 TBS olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 2 cans black beans
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes (fire roasted if you can find ’em!)
  • 1.5 TBS chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp orange zest
  • 1 cup  broth
  • hot sauce of your choice, on the side


1. Heat olive oil in a soup pot over med-high heat. Add chili powder, cumin, and onions and cook until soft and fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Add sweet potatoes and mix well. Cook until sweet potatoes are softened but not cooked all the way through, about 7 minutes. Add zucchini, mix well, and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

2. Add the remainder of the ingredients (except for hot sauce). Mix well. Bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat and leave to simmer until sweet potatoes are soft and ready to eat, which took me another 25 minutes or so.

3. You’ll find this chili is unexpectedly sweet, so add some hot sauce to your taste and serve hot. Even better if you can get your awesome cousin to make gluten free cornbread for you!

The Great Guster Ride of 2014, Creme Brulee, and the East River Park

28 Jan

There ought to be a word or phrase for a weekend so good it keeps you smiling through Monday. I’m fresh out of ideas- anybody have a suggestion?

I skidaddled up to New York this weekend for a Welcome Back dinner for JetSet Kef that included several of the usual suspects, most of whom have been on the roster for more than a decade. The idea was this: JetSet Kef and I would convene a strange mishmash of the people who made our respective lives at the same college really fun, throw in some adult beverages in a chic setting, and watch shenanigans ensue.

Before I reveal if said scheme resulted in said shenanigans (spoiler alert: it did), I have to introduce today’s recipe: a playlist for an awesome spin session. Settle in kids, this might be a long post.

Last week was a tough training week with back-to-back BRICK work outs (long bike ride followed by a medium-long run). As such, I was not really feeling like going to the gym before taking the train up to NY and would have preferred to just sit around laughing at pictures from college on The Facebook that were posted when Facebook still used the preceding article. Then the solution came to me: I could drag myself to the gym and psych myself up for the night to come all at once by blasting the tunes of 2004 while spinning. Problem solved.

So began The Great Guster Ride of 2014. It was a big risk: my music collection in those days was marked by mostly indie pop (forgive me, Jean Grae), which is not exactly the music I listen to these days to do anything, let alone to get my blood flowing.  Plus, my relationship to the college era is a complicated one–let’s just say I had a lot of fun about a third of the time, but never really fit in with the vast majority of people at my school, most of whom probably still listen to indie pop. Enough said? I thought so.

ANYWHO, as I began my time on the bike I got really nostalgic–we crammed a lot of fun into some long nights and very small apartments.  I spent a lot of my ride thinking about what luck it is to keep in touch with people who knew you at some other point in life when you were a blurrier, less-sure version of your self, and what a joy it is to get to watch them become distinct, fuller versions of all the different selves we were trying on back then.  I left college on a very different track than the one I thought I came in on and, like many of us, my life has gone in directions my 20-year-old self could never have imagined. I feel so glad to know that there are people out there who still appreciate my humor after I decided becoming a heady, humorous writer (who would invite them to all the Vanity Fair parties) was no longer my path, who still come to visit me after I  discovered New York is not, in fact, the only acceptable place to reside, and who still love me after all those years of overwrought hand wringing about how I could balance the life I live and the work I do. Of course, there were thing that made me sad, too– friends I’m not in touch with anymore, people with whom things used to be easy but are now awkward, and missed opportunities. But that’s another ride and another playlist. Before I knew it, 26.2 miles and 1:04 had flown by.

Which brings us to the dinner. JetSet Kef and I are committed to eating at as many Tables for Two restaurants as our budgets and waistlines will allow (tellingly, he has the advantage on both counts). QueijoKef suggested Lafayette, which was an awesome pick — sophisticated without being pretentious, great service, and a menu that makes up in perfect execution what it lacks in innovation. I drank French 75s all night and JetSet and QueijoKef treated the other diners to Jay Z’s verse in “Heart Breaker.”


Two sets of siblings plus some other fun connections- and one is from Alabama. Volume turned, unapologetically, to TEN.

It’s amazing what ten years can do.

Just when it seemed the night could not get any better, our Joseph-Gordon-Levitt doppelganger of a server brought us a complimentary creme brulee that was the biggest we’d ever seen


Forearm inserted for scale.

and had the most PERFECT brulee, as tested by JSK and GeographicHegemony Kef.

photo-75Flash forward a cozy drink at a cool East Village bar and one fight about $3.00 soda water later, and it was 9:15 am and JetSet Kef and I woke up in his wonderful bed without having to snuggle with a sibling because he had the good sense to buy himself a grown-up queen-sized bed instead of using the twin bed he has had since he was ten.

We went for a windy run in East River Park, and I wish I had a picture of my brother because all the cold gear spandex made him look like he was auditioning for the Blue Men group.

Thanks to East River Runner for the picture!

Thanks to East River Runner for the picture!

After some spinach stew, I hit the road and was blessed with the quietest, most traffic-free Greyhound bus ride that has ever been. We left at Port Authority at 4:05 and arrived in DC exactly 4 hours later. Isn’t life grand?

So you can see why I’m still smiling. Now, for your listening and maybe spinning pleasure, I present you with a list of the songs that I thought were really cool/deep/fun during college. For the spinners in the crowd, I have noted the drills/intervals I used during each song. Don’t like how I used the music? You just go right ahead and do you.

An Uncharacteristically Indie Playlist to Spin to While Thinking of Hilarious Things that Happened in College

  • Caring is Creepy – The Shins (warm up)
  • Island in the Sun – Weezer (end of warm up)
  • Sound of Settling– Death Cab for Cutie (6/10 tension, 75-80% race pace/sprint during chorus)
  • Let Go– Frou Frou (seated climb/sprint during chorus)
  • Come Down Stairs and Say Hello – Guster (long climb- start at 5.5-6, add 1 full turn every 45 seconds, stand when you have to)
  • Happier – Guster (endurance climb- pace matches beat, maintain 7.5-8.5 tension)
  • Just for Now– Imogen Heap (recover until verse stars, maintain race pace through remainder of song)
  • Girlfriend – Phoenix (energy ride)
  • Hollaback Girl– Gwen Stefani (80-90% race pace at 6 tension for 30 sec/ 45 sprint at 7-7.5 tension)
  • Young Folks – Peter Bjorn (ascending sprints 30,45,60,75 seconds with 30 sec recovery between)
  • Two Points for Honesty– Guster (whatever steep standing climb you have left in you)
  • Don’t Stop– Brazilian Girls (endurance climb- pace matches beat, maintain 7.5-8.5 tension, seated during vocals, standing at instrumentals)
  • California – Phantom Planet (rolling hills- incline during verse, downhill sprint during verses)
  • Something Pretty – Patrick Park (cool down)
  • In the Waiting Line– Zero 7 (end cool down/ stretch)

Almond Mint Orange Cake

23 Jan

Amazingly, I didn’t eat oranges until sometime last year. I don’t remember ever eating them as a kid (I grew up on apple turf, okay?) and, lacking the necessary peeling knowledge, only ate them when they came in a juice carton. Then, MamaKef introduced me to this absurd gadget and my life has never been the same. Now it’s all oranges, all the time. I just can’t get enough!

So, in the spirit of my new fruit friends, I just knew I had to spend my snow day turning this amazing recipe into a gluten-free/sugar-free cake. My version wasn’t quite as pretty and didn’t rise as nicely, but lacked no flavor whatsoever.  This cake is moist, just a tad sweet, and the orange and almond just blend together as a lovely set up for the mint. I loved this cake and can’t wait to bring it to a brunch sometime soon. I’ve included my substitutions, but you should follow the original recipe if you need a little gluten and sugar to go with your orange and mint.


Almond Mint Orange Cake


  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c sugar (I used coconut sugar)
  • 3/4 c olive oil
  • 1 c almond flour
  • 1/2 c all-purpose flour (I used Bob’s All Purpose GF)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • zest of 1 orange and one clementine
  • juice of 1 orange
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c finely chopped fresh mint


photo-731. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 6-inch round pan. Whisk together the eggs and sugar until just combined. Add the olive oil and whisk again.

2. In a mixing bowl, combine the almond flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk into the egg mixture.

3. In a mixing bowl, combine the zests, juice, vanilla, and mint. Whisk into egg/flour mixture until just combined. Do not over work.

4. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until center is set. Keep a close eye in the final minutes, as the sides can get quite crispy! Serve cool.

Eggplant Pizza for your Snow Day

22 Jan

I wrote once about the major MamaKef nostalgia I get in the fall; today’s recipe harkens back to my very favorite snow day traditions.

To start this story, it should be noted that MamaKef lives in perpetual fear of weather. I have never in my life made mention of a future travel plan that did not elicit a meterological warning from my mother. If it’s November-March, I have to watch out for ice. If it’s March-November, I have to monitor travel alerts for hurricane warnings.  That the Weather Channel broadcasts the local weather on the 8’s is a moot point, as it is the station we tune into permanently if the forecast even hints at clouds. For years, a woman JetSet Kef and I both worked for could do a spot-on impression of MamaKef calling the store where we worked and warning us about the day’s impending doom. Thank God all these newfangled named winter storms, Derechos, and Arctic Blasts didn’t exist while I was in high school, or I might never have made it out of the house at all.

Okay so how does this tie into anything you care about? It doesn’t really, but there’s snow on the ground and about 60% of my conversations with my mother in the winter are about snow, and I love my mom… so somehow we wound up here.

ANYWAY, whenever we had snow days (which, for the record, was not with nearly the same frequency as these whipper snappers get today), MamaKef would always, always, allllways make us English muffin pizzas. You know what I’m talking about:


Note: not from an actual Kef Kitchen. I did not grow up in a Real Simple magazine.

Mmhmm. Talk about the perfect day off: sledding and snow fun in the morning, and then inside to find MamaKef preheating the oven for these delicious medallions. Once we had our pizzas cooking, it was straight to the living room for a CBS soap opera marathon.  The Bold and the Beautiful and The Young and the Restless  never did anything for me–who really cared about Victor Newman?– but I endured them just to get to As the World Turns. To this day, a snowy, cold morning + any bread product in the toaster= ChefKef searching for the nooks and crannies covered in tomato sauce and hoping beyond hope that today is the day Holden and Lily Grimaldi get back together for good.

You know what? While we’re down the rabbit hole of Memory Lane, let’s give it up for the ORIGINAL Holden and Lily:


These two really were so very far superior to the corn-fed couple from Iowa CBS found to replace them.

Okay, enough reminiscing about this guy who somehow got from Malta to Oakdale and came back from the dead a few times–let’s talk about some food. Sadly, I no longer eat English muffins, but my mom posted a link to these bread-less mini pizzas a few weeks ago and I’ve been just WAITING for a snow day to make them.  (See! All roads back lead to my mom. Let’s just hope they were well salted and plowed.)


How brilliant is this? Sliced EGGPLANT as the pizza base? What in the hell will people think of next? We are living in the future, people. This absolutely could not be easier: just slice your eggplant, grease it up, cover in sauce and cheese, and cook. These are best served while watching Hulu reruns of soap operas.

Eggplant Pizza


  • 1 medium eggplant, cut into half-inch slices
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1/4-1/2 c tomato sauce
  • cheese of your choice
  • basil, spices, or whatever toppings you like on your pizza


1. Preheat oven to 425F. Put a wire cooling rack into a large rimmed baking pan. Arrange the eggplant slices on the wire rack- they can touch but must be in a single layer.

2. Brush the eggplant slices with olive oil (each one just needs a light coating). If you’re using any spices, throw some on now. Bake slices for 10 minutes.

3. Remove eggplant from oven, spread sauce, cheese, and toppings over eggplant. Careful not to make them too heavy or the slices will fall between the wire slats.

4. Bake for another 5-10 minutes, until cheese is melted to your liking.

Butternut Kale Soup, Family Photos, and a Caption Contest!

21 Jan

Welcome back to another work week- if you’re in DC, you’re spending today in one of two ways: a) cowering at home, thankful you stocked up on toilet paper and bread or b) chilling at home, maniacally laughing at OPM’s ridiculousness.

Good news for those of you not in DC (and therefore probably at work): today’s recipe turns back the clock to the eve of the long weekend: Thursday night.


Ahh, the end of the week. Work is winding down, weekend plans are hatching, and the refrigerator is looking sparser and sparser. Such was the situation in the Kef household last week, when all we had was some wilting kale and some butternut squash that had about one day left before it was butternut mush. I brushed the dust off this soup‘s recipe card and turned the week’s withering leftovers into a winning superfood soup!

I did not, however, take an outstanding picture.

Instead I offer you this hilarious picture, left completely unedited for dramatic effect.


Don’t infinity scarves, bad lighting, and a life-sized cardboard cutout make you want soup? If JetSet Kef ever returns to the blogosphere, he will explain. Just in case he doesn’t, I welcome your captions for this awkward family photo in the comments section below!

Butternut Kale Soup


  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1 TBS ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • black pepper, to taste (I used about 5 twists of a grinder)
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1.5 lbs butternut, chopped
  • 1/2 can pumpkin puree
  • 1 bunch kale, chopped
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 c broth


1. In a large saute pan, heat olive oil, coriander, and ginger over med-high heat until fragrant. Add onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes or so. Add butternut squash and mix thoroughly so that the squash is coated in oil and spices. If need be, add a bit more oil so the squash doesn’t stick to the pan.

2. Lower heat to medium. Cook the squash until softened but still al dente, which took me about 20 minutes. Add pumpkin, mix well. Add kale, mix well.

3. Add coconut milk and broth, mix completely. Allow mixture to come to boil, then simmer until thickened and reduced to a consistency you like- I let mine go on this way for 7 minutes or so, as I wanted a thinner broth. For a thicker, creamier broth, let it go on a bit longer. If you go too far, add more broth.

4. Transfer to a food processor and blend until smooth. Serve warm, as coconut milk will get slightly solid when cool.

Three Second Cauliflower

17 Jan

Here’s just about the easiest thing you can make this week: cauliflower that’s seasoned and browned to a perfect, buttery crisp. Yumcito.


Three Second Cauliflower


  • 1 head of cauliflower, washed and chopped
  • 2-3 TBS olive oil
  • 2 TBS ground coriander
  • 1 TBS ground ginger
  • black pepper, to taste (I used about 7 twists of my grinder)


1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. Toss everything together.

3. Roast for 30-40 minutes, until lightly browned.

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