Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving Extravaganza

Well, we made it back safe and sound from Washington, where we got to spend 3 days bundled up in gorgeous North Bend at our best friends' house. The husbands got to spend some quality time with the XBox, annihilating zombies, while Mrs. B and I were total girls, cooking and chatting and reading trash mags. Which was exactly what how we wanted to spend our Thanksgiving vacation.

But Thanksgiving, as we know, is about food and drink. And we definitely had that. One of the best reasons to fly is that you don't have to drive, obviously, which is helpful when you like to drink. Which in turn, is helpful when you have 2 hours to kill at LAX. Word to the wise, however, ask how much the mixed drinks cost before you get a second round. Ouch.

Luckily they're cheaper on the plane. And, as it turns out, Alaska offers Jone's sugar free cream soda, which mixes up quite nicely with vodka...yum.

After lunch at Taphouse, we got settled at their house, and I got to work taking over their kitchen. Cornbread stuffing kinda needs cornbread, and it has to dry out overnight, so...I had no choice but to jump right in. And while I was at it, I baked the potatoes for the twice stuffed. And made a pecan pie. I'm kind of amazing, it's true.

The next morning, after waking up to my favorite nephew covering us in Labrador kisses (mom was sweet and didn't let him in til 10am), we went to work. Here's how it went:

Had a Mimosa. First things first.
Crumbled and prepped the cornbread.
Cleaned the birds, which wasn't as easy as I thought, as I promptly discovered they had necks. Ummm, not ok. So I recruited the husband to chop them off for me (I literally and figuratively just.couldn'
Rubbed and stuffed the birds and threw them in the oven.
Rubbed the Prime Rib.

Drank Mimosa.

Prepped the twice baked potatoes and green bean casserole.
Made the cranberry sauce.

Drank Mimosa.

Took out the bird, put in the ribs.

Drank Mimosa.

Added cornbread, potatoes, and green beans to the oven.
Steamed the broccoli, made the cheese sauce, set the table.
Took everything out, and baked the rolls (we brought basque sourdough dinner rolls from Pyrenees Bakery. I totally had one.)

Whew. Though I'm more tired writing all this than I was cooking it.

Thanksgiving dinner is totally just have to plan ahead. So here you go—Thanksgiving recipes for 2010. Better early than late...better late than never. I'm going with very, very early...fashionably late is so 2001. I'm going to post them separately to make things easier all around.

You'll notice I'm not giving the recipes for the twice-baked potatoes, cause it's just baked potatoes, cooled, halved, then the insides are removed, mixed together to make everything potatoes, refilled, and baked for 35 minutes. Same with Green Bean Casserole (You can find it on the back of the French's fried onions or the Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup cans), but since I'd never made it before, I'll point out that we used reduced fat soup and it was delicious.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Helen Keller is my favorite musical.

I'm not the biggest holiday person. Ok, that's an understatement. I'm kind of known as the Grinch...and fairly, I have to say. I cringed last week when I heard Christmas music (um, it's not even Thanksgiving yet), and I don't like to decorate. It took the hubby and I three years of living together to finally cave and buy a tree.

But I do like to host. Or, cook, at least. It may have started when my parents went on an anniversary cruise and left my sister and I responsible for prepping Christmas dinner one year. I don't know if it's a sense of accomplishment, or bragging rights, or a bit of a challenge, but I love to be responsible for a big meal. So since my mom left a note on my facebook (heee, facebook. I love my mama) saying she wanted another meal, I've been gunning to be in charge of Christmas.

But in the meantime, it's Thanksgiving. And we have three families to please. And while we truly have fabulous families, we decided to bypass playing the normal holiday shuffle and skip it all to do Turkey Day with our best friends instead. In North Bend, WA, where it will be cold. Very cold. Which I'm hoping will freeze some of my grinchness.

Plus, my best friend likes cooking but likes being cooked for more, so she's letting me take the reins. Here's the menu:

Prime Rib (They aren't poultry fans)
Cornish Game Hen (but I am)
Green Bean Casserole (the old school kind)
Cranberry Sauce ('s the only thing my hubby has to have)
Twice-baked Potatoes
Cornbread apple-sausage stuffing (omg, my fave)
Broccoli with cheese sauce
Pecan Pie (homemade, thank you)
Either Apple Pie or Cheesecake (whichever looks better at their local Bakery)

Yeah, there are only four people eating. And? We'll be there 3 days. Leftovers work for all of us. Although we're planning on seeing the Bodies Exhibit on Friday, so who knows how much we'll want to eat after that...

Ridiculous. Photos and reviews to come. Gobble Gobble!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tuesday night done right.

I have to admit, I do love a good easy-dinner night. Especially when you're trying to save money, so you skip the nail salon and give yourself a manicure. Twice, because you paint nails like a five year old. And then decide to peel zucchini before the paint has dried completely. And curse until you realize this is why you pay for them.

Frustrating. But I discovered a quick trick for cheering myself up...using fancy dinnerware. We got the most gorgeous set of wooden serving spoons as a wedding gift, and I always want to save them for guests or a special occasion. And then I had a revelation tonight while I was hissing at my nails...if I save them for special occasions, I never get to use them. Nothing ever becomes sponge-worthy.

So I used them to make my caesar. Immediate seratonin rush. Plus, I think it's what inspired the hubby to set our places with cloth napkins instead of paper towels. We're fancy.

All I made was a modified version of my zucchini ribbons (added reduced fat blue cheese crumbles, added a dash of balsalmic, and cut the parmesan in half), the husband grilled up some steaks, and I made a caesar. Out of a bag. And it all was good.

And now I'm gonna get back to the Laker game, eat a whole lot of sugar-free jello (10 cals a bowl!), and finish packing for Seattle. We're determined not to check anything. Wish us luck.

Monday, November 23, 2009


It's difficult to prepare Indian curry when one is out of curry powder. And, it turns out, is also incredibly annoying...especially when it happens the day after you and the hubby leave it off the shopping list because you are both convinced there is plenty at home.

We did, however, have Thai red curry paste. Which, if you aren't a curry connoisseur, is not the same as regular curry. Indian curry is normally a more pungent flavor...darker, bitter-er, stronger. Thai curry is generally sweeter, mellower, and spicier. The hubby likes Indian. I prefer Thai...which suits us a bit, the more I think about it. Though we share far more of those traits than we don't.

And if the hubby and I can each have lots of the others' flavor (that sounds far naughtier than I mean it to), so can our curry. So I took the Thai base and added some Indian and Mid-Eastern flavors to it. And I can't complain (we'll see what hubby has to say when he gets home). I may have added too much Sriracha to mine, but a dollop of light sour cream...well, it does amazing things. Curry without a Country
Canola Oil
4 tbsp Thai red curry paste
1 can light coconut milk
Chicken Breast, about a pound, cubed or sliced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 yellow or brown onion, chopped
8 baby/fingerling potatoes, cubed
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp cardamom
dash all spice
1 tbsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced (1 -2 tsps if dried)
cilantro, sriracha and fresh lime to serve

Heat a splash of oil in large stock pot over medium high. Saute garlic about a minute, then add onion. Saute another 2 to 3 minutes. Add chicken and saute about 5 minutes or until chicken is mostly white. Stir in all the seasonings (I mix them together first). Add coconut milk. Bring to a simmer, stir in potatoes. Return to simmer, reduce to low, cover, and let cook about 12 minutes or until potatoes are done. (Don't overcook them like I usually manage to.)

Serve over white or basmati rice with a sprinkle of cilantro, a lime slice if you have it
Serves four. Without rice, about 315 calories, 13g fat, 2g fiber, 19g carbs, 31g protein

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Opinions and other factual things.

With a lonely Sunday afternoon to kill, I like to imagine myself doing all sorts of productive things...reorganizing my spice cabinet, filing 6 months worth of Schwab statements, finally finding a place better than the china cabinet to hang my apron...but in reality, I generally end up on the couch, watching Wedding Central on WE. To be clear, I hate Wedding Central. And yet, like a car wreck, I have a sick draw towards these bitchy, whiny, princess-wannabes intent on planning horrendous ME-ME-ME parties.

But I'm Judge McJudgerson, and it gives me easy prey. I sit, per usual. Watching yet another clueless, horrible bride-to-be. are becoming a wife. Unless you are marrying Prince Harry, you are not becoming a princess. Stop using the word. And seriously, put the tiaras away. Also, it is a big, amazing, very important day, yes. But it is not, contrary to your own opinion, all about you. Perhaps considering your groom's/ bridesmaids'/ families'/ wallet's feelings wouldn't be the absolute worst thing ever. Please grow up and realize you will know/need these people/bank account after you treat them like your minions leading up to one single day.

Man, I love to talk crap. No wonder I watch this shit. And it's no wonder the hubby will watch me watch it; I get to hear myself say ridiculous things aloud to the tv, like, "Psssh, don't didn't want that, you just waited too long, bee-otch" and, "Niiice, you go crazy about shoes, and you're getting married under a giant glowing exit sign," and "You did not just put a burger king crown on your man's head."

Siigh. Anyway. At the usual lunch spot(Las Salsas), eating the usual(Posole), with the usual(hubby), I decided that if I was going to have another unproductive day, I'd spend it at least trying some new things.

First up? A Starbucks Creme Brulee Latte on the way to the grocery store. Not bad. But nothing special, really. I'd go either way on a repeat offense.

Once I got to the store to pick up some easy dinners for the next few days (then we're off to Seattle for Turkey Day!!), I was beyond thrilled to find King Crab legs for cheap. Like, $7.99/lb cheap. Score. The hubby had requested bacon-wrapped grilled shrimp, and the idea of a seafood extravaganza was too much potential deliciousness to turn down. I love eating with my hands. Love messy food. So cracking into King Crab, freshly steamed and hot, with or without lemon and/or melted butter...omg, the best thing ever. So fun to eat, and just. so. good.

I decided to experiment for a side dish...I had already grabbed pancetta to wrap the prawns in, so I decided to play with that, apple, blue cheese, maybe walnuts, and maybe asparagus. While trying a new drink...Raspberry off-brand vodka(as long as you're mixing, who cares) and light lemonade were both on sale. Yum. Definite repeat offender. At least until I run out of lemonade.

Dessert will also be new...we're sugar-free fudgesicle fans, so I grabbed a multi-pack of regular, dark, and white chocolate. 60 calories of yum. And only 180 cals to try all three. Not that we would do that...

King Crab Legs
King crab legs (however much you think you can eat/fit in the biggest pot you have.)
Butter, about a tsp.
A couple cloves garlic, minced

In the biggest stock pot you have, melt butter over medium heat, then saute garlic til fragrant, about a minute. Add about a cup of water, wait about 2 minutes, then throw all the crab legs in. Cover, lower heat to low, and let the legs steam about 12 minutes. Easy. Serve with lots of napkins and a big bowl for the exoskeleton (or whatever nicer word you want to use). Good with minced garlic mixed with melted butter or lots of lemon to squeeze over.
(220 calories per half pound, 3.5g fat, 42g protein)

Asparagus with Pancetta, Apple and Onion
A bunch of asparagus, trimmed and rinsed
1/2 tbsp butter
Pancetta, chopped (I used about a third of a package)
Half an apple, finely chopped (Pippen is good)
1/4 onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/8 tsp fresh pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
pinch of salt
Balsamic Vinegar
About 3 tbsp reduced fat blue cheese

Boil water in a medium pot. Boil asparagus for 3 minutes, drain and rinse in cold water. Arrange in olive oil sprayed baking dish.

Heat butter over medium heat. Saute pancetta, onion, apple, and garlic about 5 minutes. Add a big splash of balsamic vinegar, walnuts, salt, and pepper. Toss well. Spread over asparagus. Sprinkle with blue cheese. Broil about 4 minutes before serving.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Staying strong...til I give up.

Ok, five days of 100% gluten free eating (my norm is roughly 95%), and so far, so pretty good. The only cheating I've done is one Coor's Light last night (we were celebrating the husband's new internship with the local hockey team, a glass of wine would have been far less effective).

Impressive. I'm kind of a quitter when I don't want to do something, so I'm proud of myself. And I'm less itchy today, so I take that as a sign my brain is proud of me, too. Yay.

Well...we've established that I'm weak...and a quitter, so...Surprise! I cheated.

I went to very lovely cocktail hour at our friends' (the new parents) house, where the new (hot) mama prepared not only this fabulous pork tenderloin with orange chutney sauce for appetizer/dinner, but a new dip which I am so totally stealing. It was gorgonzola with red wine vinegar, olive oil, garlic, red onion, and parsley. I think. So completely up my alley. Which she served with Wheat Thins.'d think I'd see Wheat Thins and bypass them, you know, having wheat IN THE NAME...but as we know...I'm weak. And a quitter. Sooo...I may have had a few. Or twelve. Damnit!

Oh well. I'm in a good mood. It's part holding a 3 month old for the better part of an hour (who knew babies liked me??? Even if he did spit up down my new's milk, I'll survive), hanging out with awesome people (who I really need to see more often), or coming home to an empty house (while I know the hubby is happy in hockey-land) where I have hours upon hours of tivo/netflix to entertain me while enjoying my personal cocktail of junk mags, champagne and cookies.

Life is good, my friends. Especially when I get to sleep in tomorrow and have nothing but trouble to get into over the weekend. Uh, oh. Let's hope it's the gluten-free promises.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

An open letter to my brain.

Dear Brain,

I think you need to get your wires uncrossed and start learning to process gluten. I try and be patient, but you know as well as I do that patience is not a virtue you have blessed me with.

You must think it's really fun to tease me with the time-delay you have going on. Four whole days, without fail, that I'm allowed to think I have gotten away with something. And then BAM. Itch Central. Which is why four days ago, you should have been a little less excited about the prospect of a bagel. Really. It's just not nice.

Even if you could just adjust the feel-good meter attached to scratching, that would be great. Cause right now my shins, right elbow, neck, and forehead are all screaming for some nails to run vigorously across them.

I suppose I should thank you for making me a nail biter, which keeps my nails short enough to avoid doing serious damage to myself. But I'm not in the mood.

So screw you, brain. Why couldn't you be allergic to lamb? I don't really like lamb. Or veal? Or something else I refuse to eat. That would be perfect.

Seriously. With the amount of money I've wasted over the years on dermatologists and ointments and creams and medications to block the itch sensor in my brain...the time I've spent looking at labels to ensure I'm not buying anything containing wheat, oats, or barley...the deep longing I feel when I see the husband enjoying a delicious'd think you could cut me some slack here.

One of these days I'm going to find someone nearby who specializes in allergy elimination, and then I'm going to make you go through some weird homeopathic new-agey crap. And it's going to work. And I'm going to celebrate with a loaf of sourdough. And a six pack of Sierra Nevada.

Take that.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

20 minute meals mean more time to drink.

You know those days where you don't quite feel like you've woken up on the wrong side of bed, but you're still annoyed by pretty much everything? When even the thought of talking to your best friends on ichat is a little more than you can bear? (Sorry, Parallel...I love you!)

Those are the days I want to go home and hide in my couch(yes, in. It's like a cloud). Or drink. Or both, preferably. But since I had a hair color appointment after work, I figured I'd let the impending pampering cheer me up. Especially when I remembered the wine bar next door to my salon lets you take wine to go. Score.

So a (very expensive) glass of Cakebread, new highlights, and a quick grocery trip later, I was finally home. In a much better mood. But since it was close to 7pm, I wasn't in much of a mindset to cook anything extravagant. Luckily, I had planned on something easy.

Thank you, Cooking Light, for your 20 minute recipes. Last night we tried their Spicy Sweet Pork.

We decided this tasted like it came from the same island as Jamaican Chicken with Mango salsa(ohh, I should make that soon)...just the other side of the island. The less popular one.

I tried this pretty much exactly as written (I used hot salsa and added green onion to the garnish), but next time I'd add some chopped red onion and maybe marinate the pork in the sauce before cooking it. But it was good. Fast little pantry meal, really. We already had everything but the pork, and you could totally substitute chicken breast if you have that. And you could use pretty much any jam or preserves you have. I'm a fan of easy on days like this.

We just ate it with spinach salad with Raspberry Pomegranate balsamic, but mashed potatoes or rice would make good sides. But by the time I realized that, I was starving and ready to eat already.

Oh well. Three chocolate chip cookies more than made up for the lack of carbs later last night. They're awesome/evil like that.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

If it weren't for work, I'd be the best housewife ever.

I feel like maybe I'm shortchanging myself on the whole I Don't Bake attitude. Or maybe I've just gotten lucky lately. Since I committed myself to not cheating this week, I made us a little treat to help me through it. All thanks to Ms. Crocker, who now makes gluten-free brownie, cake and cookie mixes.

Of course, the whole time I was adding walnuts to the recipe, I had Alton Brown in my head warning me about throwing off the delicate balance of ingredients...and the dough was as usual, I wasn't expecting greatness. And didn't get it. But, to be fair, they're good. The flavor is there, they didn't burn...all in all impressive. For me. And I got to wear an apron while I made them. Adorable.

So by the time the husband found out one of his football buddies needed to drop by for something, I was wearing an apron over a Raiders t-shirt, a batch of cookies were in the oven, and I was chopping potatoes, garlic and onion for a crazy comfort-food inspired dinner.

All while drinking a dirty martini. Complete ridiculousness.

I took the apron off before he got there. I didn't want him to think I had totally reverted back to 1954.

Afterward, as I finished up the potatoes, the husband got to work on a salad. Nice work, babe. Quite a meal. Salad, everything potatoes, and Sherry Chicken? Well balanced and perfect for when it's chilly out. Mmmm, mmmm, mmmm.

Sherry Chicken
1 lb chicken breasts, pounded thin
garlic powder
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp oregano
cooking spray
1 tbsp butter
half an onion, sliced thinly
4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1 package sliced mushrooms
3/4 cup sherry, divided
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 cup plain greek yogurt (I use nonfat but a lot of times it curdles a little when you add it to hot sauces)

Sprinkle chicken well with garlic powder, Parmesan, oregano, and pepper. Brown in cooking spray about 4 minutes a side over medium high. Remove from heat, keep warm.

Add 1tbsp butter to pan. Saute sliced onion and garlic about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, saute until they start getting soft. Add 1/2 cup Sherry. Cook til everything is soft, about 5 minutes. Add chicken back in. Add remaining sherry and oregano. Cover, simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add 1/2 cup nonfat yogurt. Mix well. Serve over potatoes, rice, or pasta. Serves 4.
About 220 cals, 6g fat, 1g fiber, 3g carbs, 33g protein

Monday, November 16, 2009

My poor dermatologist never stood a chance.

I'm itchy.

I'm not saying this for sympathy (Ok, I kind of am) because I know it's my own fault. I'm weak. And ate bread all weekend. Bad, bad girl.

But I enjoyed every second. I went to LA for the weekend to get in some QT with one of my favorite friends from college, who has, until recently, been living in Colorado working on becoming a Doctor of Psychology...which means now I get great free advice on top of all the normal fun. Yay!

But because she loves wine and cheese as much as I do, we hit up a wine bar down the street from her place (turns out I love Culver City). And, unfortunately, the cheese plate came with a side of bread...and like I said...I'm weak, especially after a bottle (or two) or wine. And that's when things got out of control.

After the bread for dinner came the beer for dessert and the bagel for breakfast (Lox and cream cheese...I'm such a sucker). I have a tendency to explain the cheating with all kinds of awesome excuses, too, like 'it's a special occasion' or 'well, I already screwed myself last night, so I may as well go for the gold', and lucky for me, both held true. And breakfast was super fun so I just enjoyed it, since the lively bunch included the doc and I, our buddy BigShot, who also gives fabulous, though non mental-health related, advice, my little sister (and my stylist), and her roommate the opera singer. It was a whole table of ridiculousness, let me tell you.

But because of all this, I'm eating gluten FREE this week. Completely. I'm not even gonna let myself cheat in my normal ways, so no soy sauce, no beer, no half a cracker in the breakroom. I'm being good.

And I'm starting by eating my leftovers from Friday night for lunch. Brown rice salad is really more a summery dish, but I'm fickle, and now that it's feeling like fall/winter, I want my warm weather back. So, as usual, I let my kitchen do the work and I pretend.

Brown Rice Salad
1 cup brown rice
Block extra firm tofu
half a cucumber, seeded and cut small
3 stalks green onion, sliced
1/4 cup chopped peanuts (save some for topping)
small handful cilantro, chopped (save some for topping)
small handful mint, chopped
juice from one lime
3 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 tsp peanut or sesame oil (sesame is best)
salt and pepper
opt: handful shredded carrot

Add brown rice to 2 cups boiling water. Reduce to simmer, cover, and cook 35 minutes. Remove from heat, remove lid, and let cool. Drain tofu. To remove excess water, wrap it in a kitchen towel, place in a colander, and put something heavy on top. Let sit at least 10 minutes.
In the meantime, do all your chopping.

In a small bowl, use a fork to mix the garlic, oil, lime, salt (1/2 tsp or so), and pinch of fresh pepper. Set aside.

Remove tofu from towel and cut into long slices. Heat a good dash of peanut oil and brown tofu slices for about 4 minutes a side. Cut into cubes. Let cool.
Mix rice, tofu, and remaining ingredients in large bowl. Toss gently with dressing. It's good at room temp or chilled. Four servings.
About 305 cals, 3g fiber, 36g carbs, 9g protein.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I know I'm my own biggest fan, but...

See, this is why I cook. There are meals you order in restaurants that make you wonder if there's a point to ever cooking at home...they taste as though they've taken all day to prepare, tons of time to plan, and a master chef to cook.

And then you make a meal that brings on the same feelings and realize you just saved, like, 30 bucks, and feel not only accomplished, but like a pro. And awesome.

I was in the mood for something different tonight...but something easy to finish last minute (only 2 more weeks of football!), so I went with an easy protein (grilled steak) and sides I could make/prep in advance. I remembered a veggie side I'd been looking forward to trying (squash ribbons), and figured for carbs, I could go with my old favorite, risotto, and play with it a bit since I had time to kill. And since I still had just a bit of brie and pine nuts left...this is what happened. It might be one of the most ridiculous things I've ever made. In a good way.

Pine Nut & Brie Risotto
1/2 c arborio rice
olive oil
2 green onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c white wine
14oz can chicken broth
1/4 c pine nuts, toasted
Big pinches (1/4-1/2 tsp) salt & pepper
2 oz Brie, cut in small cubes
1/4 c Parmesan or mixed Italian cheese

Saute the garlic and onion in a bit of olive oil for a couple of minutes over medium low heat. Add rice, and stir til rice is shiny and coated with oil. Add wine, and stir frequently til most of it is absorbed. Repeat with a small pour of chicken broth (1/2 cup or less) until you've used all the liquid (about 20 minutes or so). The rice shouldn't be overly soft, but shouldn't be too hard either.

When it's just about done, stir in remaining ingredients. Stir until cheese is melted. Serve warm.
For four servings: About 250 cals, 13g fat, 2g fiber, 20g carbs, 8g protein

Zucchini Ribbons
1 zucchini, cut into ribbons with a veggie peeler
1 yellow squash, cut into ribbons with a veggie peeler
olive oil
1/4 c Parmesan cheese
Big pinch salt, pepper, and small shake crushed chili
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
a couple cloves garlic, minced

Heat a bit of oil in a saute pan over medium. Saute garlic about a minute, then add onion, salt and pepper, and chili. Saute about another minute, then add squash/zucchini ribbons. Mix gently, and saute about 2-3 minutes or until soft. Sprinkle with cheese before serving.
For two servings, about 120 cals, 4g fiber, 11 carbs, 8g protein

Boobs and beer.

I really need to go grocery shopping.

It's much easier to cook at home when, you know, you have food to cook with. When we're this low, we usually have enough to get us through one decent pantry meal and maybe half of another...which meant we had pasta with meatballs on Monday(total pantry version...we had half a jar of marinara and no eggs, so the ground turkey fell apart and made more of a chunky meat sauce than meatballs...still good!) and chicken wings last night. From Hooters.

Oh, Hooters. I've always been a fan. And we just had one open up here in Bakersfield, so eventually it was going to happen. I've just been avoiding it, because every time anywhere new opens here in town, it's a rush to get there immediately. I feel the same way about this as I do about people having to go to the midnight showing of a new'll be there tomorrow. And will be less crowded. Seriously, it's ridiculous.

So I shouldn't have been surprised at how full the place was at 5:10pm. And I'm sitting here trying to figure out why exactly. Maybe it's as simple as the fact that the combo of boobs and beer is always entertaining, especially if you go without guys and can spend the trip watching men be disgusting. (And the girls they tend to hire...well...not the sharpest tools in the shed, so it's fun to make fun of them. I'm a terrible person.) I'm sure as a female I should be offended by all that, but really? Dudes are dudes. It's kinda how it goes. I don't have to go there.

The wings aren't great...the beer isn't cheap...and while the inevitable sausage-fest might be tempting for the single ladies, there really isn't much to offer K and I. But we went anyway, more out of boredom than anything else. The poor husband had to miss out so he could finish a paper, but I brought him home food. (I don't recommend luke-warm Hooters fries, just in case anyone is considering doing the same.)

That said...we were still super fatkids. Ridiculous.
Yes, those would be bones. Lots of them. Last night it was it's just kinda sad. Wow. And of course I eat like this during a week I can't work out, cause I'm brilliant like that. This foot needs to heal, damnit. I'm craving some exercise. And some real food. Tonight, it's happening.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Take two.

I know I like to act like a master chef, but even I...hide your known to screw things up royally from time to time.

I have been excited to try grilled pizza, which my buddy the bierbitzch turned me onto, for about a week and a half. So because he raves about it, and promised this video from allrecipes would make it easy as...well, pie...I went for it.

He's a doll, for after I sent him a pic of my initial result last week, his exact reply was "Grilled pizza takes 2 to three times to perfect. The crust is finicky." And gluten-free pizza dough IS finicky, more so than most. But seriously? This is just sad.

So we're trying again. This time I made crust from a mix, so it would start as raw dough instead of pre-shaped. Again...gluten-free dough is not the easiest to work with. And I don't bake. All the measuring and mixing, the kneading and the mess? I'm good, thanks. So the expectation for this was interesting at best.

As the dough 'rose,' I got the ingredients gathered up. I love Hawaiian pizza, so I decided to try a Pammy-version...
1/2 cup marinara
1/2 cup part skim shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup pineapple, cut into small pieces
1 oz prosciutto
1/8 cup toasted pine nuts
couple slices raw onion
couple leaves of basil, torn into small pieces
(The husband put fresh garlic on his)

I used the Arrowhead Mills pizza dough crust mix, added quite a bit of white rice flour (it was sticky!) and followed the directions on the box. Grilled a couple minutes a side, added the toppings, grilled a few more, and voila!

The dough recipe makes two pizzas, so I just rolled the rest into strips, sprayed with olive oil, sprinkled well with garlic powder, salt, and a bit of red pepper flakes, and baked me up some delicious breadsticks.

Pssh, and I say I can't bake...

Monday, November 9, 2009

I love escaping.

The more time I spend on Cali's Central Coast, the more I'm convinced it just may be the perfect place to live. Rolling green hills, laid-back people, organic food, wine and good beer on tap everywhere? With local art...or whatever you want to call this??? (Yes, that's a wall of gum. And me, grimacing.) All 10 minutes from the beach? Done. I'm sold.

This weekend, the destination was San Luis Obispo, where I'd never spent any real time, but have always heard good things. And many props to the hubby, who, unbeknownst to me, did plenty of restaurant research ahead of time, and knew exactly where to take me. He did good...we ate well. (And thanks, mom! Your financial contribution was much appreciated!)

Two friends recommended a place called Firestone Grill for their tri-tip, but I'm not sure they realize how often we eat good tri-tip. It's pretty much the official steak of Bakersfield. So, maybe next time. For now, we had fabulous food elsewhere.

Lunch Saturday was at Big Sky, which is an organic Asian/Indian/southwest California fusion was all over the board, which I love. Reminds me a bit of my own repertoire. But everything was fresh, delicious, and the place was adorable. Loved it.

I ordered the Thai Grilled Shrimp and Cucumber salad, and he got the Applewood Smoked Chicken sandwich, with ancho chile glaze, a roasted green chile, and some swiss. With a side of gigantic sweet potato fries. And in case we weren't big enough fatkids, we may have also ordered a cup of the Jamaican Pumpkin soup. We had to. He loves Jamaica...I love was destiny.

Stuffed and happy, yet always thinking about food, we walked over to Novo to put in our dinner reservation. And I'm glad we the time we got there at 8, the place was hopping. Which made the service slow, unfortunately, but they gave us two glasses of champagne and a creme brulee for dessert as an apology. And let me tell you...with me, free stuff makes all forgiven.

Located above the creek that runs through the downtown area, Novo is a mostly outdoor restaurant (I think...something was downstairs, but we didn't see what) that offers Brazilian/Portuguese tapas. Big tapas, too. Normally we would get 4 or 5 and share them, but our server recommended we get no more than 3. So after Calamari-with fanTASTic sweet chili dipping sauce, we settled on scallops and asparagus in a kaffir lime and ginger buerre blanc, Tandoori spiced prawns, garlic roasted baby potatoes...and we split a Caesar. Go big or go home, right?

So yes, we definitely ate well. And celebrated even more. What better anniversary gift to each other than permanent ink? Traditional Tattoo in Pismo Beach is awesome. Ask for Jeff or Drew., if you're seeing this online before I tell you about it...sorry. But I love it! You will too, I promise...or hope, anyway...(yes, I'm 28 and still fear the wrath of my mother.)

But back to reality. Once we were back in town last night, we hit our traditional after-vacation Thai place (Thai Kitchen on Hageman). Tom Ka soup and Pad-Woonsen? Mmmm. Fantastic as always. But having spent enough money this weekend to make my head spin, we'll be eating at home for awhile. Grilled Pizza attempt #2 tonight...stay tuned.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Honeymoon over? Never.

Man, time flies.

Somehow an entire year has gone by since I officially became Mrs. H...and I was thinking the other day and laughing at the fact that the past 365 days have been infinitely less stressful than the 365 before (well, more accurately, the 544 days before). Planning a wedding-even a reasonably low-key affair like ours-is not exactly a calming experience.

I guess this means we're no longer newlyweds? Just another old married couple? be fair, we've acted like an old married couple for five years now anyway...but we still try and spoil each other when we can. He still makes the bed and calls during the day just to say hi and see how my day is going. And I watch baseball...and happily make his fave foods just cause he likes them. We aim to make each other happy, in other words. So I'm ok with that.

So thanks for being stuck with me, babe. Happy Anniversary!

Friday, November 6, 2009

WTF, lady?

This has been an interesting day so far.

I've been up since 5:45, when my alarm rudely cut into my super weird dream about black widows. Now...according to's section on dreams:

Spiders in general are about the way you are living your life.You watched spider weave her web(sic). Like you are watching yourself create your life. The fact that it was a poisonous spider is indicative what kind of life you are weaving for yourself. Your dream is informing you or warning you that this is the way you are going with your life. You showed fear in your dream by panicking, I pray you show the same fear in your waking life, and change course.

WTF, dream lady. I'll have you know I dreamt this on a night I didn't even drink. lose.

And so because the thought of canceling on K for our morning walk TWICE in two days guilted me into getting out of the warm, comfy bed next to the warm, comfy man, I got my ass up and braced the 49 degree weather. I'm not going to lie...the promise of my forthcoming weekly Starbucks was what got me through it.

But of course, the 'bucks drive thru had about 54 cars in it, so I hit the one inside the Vons by work instead. And there, my giddy starbucks/friday/happy dance was met by a new barista...and this:

Pammy: Can I get a Venti Skinny London Fog?
Barista: (makes super omg, groooosssss face)'s good...
Barista: (pursed lips) I don't like them.

I'm...sorry? WTF, Starbucks lady. Just make my damn drink. London Fogs (English Breakfast tea latte with vanilla syrup) are freaking delicious, ok? lose.

People are killing me today. As is Firefox, which has updated FIVE times in the past two days. WTF, Mozilla? Can't get it right? Knock it off, I'm trying to write...I Just to be lose.

It's possible I have a bad attitude today. So yes, I'll ask myself...WTF, lady? Get your chonies out of the knot they're apparently in.

Sigh...luckily, it's nothing a cold beer won't solve.
Take that, dream lady.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

It's just a loaf.

So for the third and final chapter of anniversary week happy-husband food, I broke out the turkey/spinach meatloaf, which always goes over well. What is it with guys and meatloaf? I'm convinced it's some Leave it to Beaver/1950's thing that's become ingrained into their DNA over the past few generations. So weird. I's good and homey,'s just meat. In a loaf. (Which freaks one of my best friends out, btw. Some day I'll dedicate an entry to non AW-approved's quite an entertaining list.)

Ground beef and I don't always get along all that well, so I made the switch to lean ground turkey for pretty much everything long ago. The flavor is a little different, but I really like it, and the fat and cal count are both lower. Which really just means I can serve a more fattening side. Stanky fries, in this case. Mmmmmmm. That said, feel free to substitute beef if you want.

And with that, I'm done cooking for the week. The husband and I are off to the coast for the weekend (many thanks to my fabulous mother-in-law for the room!), which means lots of eating out...I love restaurants. I get to eat well and I get to be served, both of which rock my world. SO excited.

Turkey-Spinach Meatloaf
1 package lean ground turkey (I used Italian seasoned tonight, but I usually use plain)
1 egg
1 egg white
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
big handful spinach, roughly chopped
big pinch each salt and pepper
small handful basil, thinly sliced
splash of Worcestershire sauce (2 tsp or so)
1/2 cup breadcrumbs*
ketchup (I used low-sugar and it was fine)

*I don't use these, but if you can, I recommend it. It helps the texture a lot.

Preheat oven to 350.
In large bowl, mix everything but ketchup. Use your hands to make sure it's well blended. Coat a loaf pan with cooking spray, and press meat mix lightly into pan. (If you don't have one, just spray a cooking sheet and shape it into a loaf on there.)

Squeeze ketchup over entire loaf (maybe a half cup or so). Bake for 45-50 minutes. Let sit a few minutes, and slice into 6 slices. Remove carefully with spatula to serve.
Per slice (without breadcrumbs), about 210 cals, 7g fat, 3g carbs, 20g protein

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

On a mission.

The closet is out of control. It's been in need of some serious TLC for months. The problem is that for whatever reason, I have had a problem believing I've gone from a size 16 (that still amazes me) to an 8 (even more amazing), and continue to buy clothes that are too big. So I have a closet full of brand new jeans...that are great and cute with the exception of them giving me sag-ass.

It's not a big closet, and I have to share it with the husband, so when it's got unnecessary clothing in it, it's more than a small problem. Sooo, it was time to do something about it. And apparently tonight was the night.

The other problem, however, is this is how I like to do chores. I figured cleaning out the closet with the help of a dirty martini would be one of three things: Brilliantly entertaining, brilliantly stupid, or just plain brilliant.

I don't know about you, but cocktails make everything more fun for me. And after one or two, banal activities like closet cleaning are far more enjoyable...and frankly, easier. It makes me feel less attached to 'things', so I'll toss them much more easily. Hence why this could have been stupid. Or brilliant.

Brilliant, in this case. Look how productive I was! I'm a little unnerved that I had so many dresses that had been worn exactly one time, so I'm hoping I can find someone to take them, but if not, the Northwest Bakersfield Goodwill will have some steals in the next week or so.

And this is what I do on nights I don't cook.

And lucky for me, he never complains about doing the dishes.

Continuing down the road of's been pretty obvious lately that chicken parm needed to be in the mix this week. The look of desire/jealousy on his face while watching the new Carl's Jr. Parmesan Chicken Sandwich commercials has spoken volumes.

Side note. Being in advertising—a woman in advertising, in particular—I'm supposed to hate the Carl's Jr. (Hardee's for you East Coasters) commercials. I don't. I think they're genius. They have no qualms with marketing directly to the caveman, and make no apologies for it. I respect that. It's obviously effective. And let's face it...if you have to eat fast food, it's the best there is. Even the protein burger (no bun for moi) is deliciously messy. If you're gonna eat fat kid fast-food, go for the gold and get something that drips down your arm. Don't fake the funk like you're eating something healthy just because you look refined while eating it. Seriously, you're not fooling anyone.

So yes, Chicken Parm is one of the hubby's faves, which I'm glad about, cause I love it. Cheesy Italian comfort food? Done. I struggle to keep it reasonably low-fat, cause cheese really is one of the best things about it. But I do my best. Tonight was also hard because I made my half without the delicious herbed-cheese breading, and then got to watch him eat his between two slices of sourdough. He's lucky I love him.

Chicken Parmesan
12oz chicken breast tenders
olive oil
a couple cloves garlic, minced
1/4 red onion, chopped
1 jar marinara sauce (whatever you like)
small pour balsamic vinegar (1-2 tsps)
small handful basil, thinly sliced
2 slices provolone cheese, quartered
2 tbsp parmesan cheese
4 servings hot cooked pasta

Chicken breading (optional):
egg, beaten
Italian breadcrumbs, about a 1/4 cup
big pinch dried basil
big pinch dried oregano
big pinch parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Heat a large splash of olive oil (about a tbsp) in a large skillet over medium high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and garlic powder. If you want to bread them, skip the sprinkling and dip tender in egg, then dip/roll in breadcrumb mix til well covered. Either way, then arrange chicken in skillet and brown each side for about 3 minutes. Remove chicken from pan and keep warm.

Heat a bit more oil in skillet. Saute onion and garlic about 2 minutes. Add marinara sauce, balsamic vinegar and basil, bring to simmer. Add chicken, reduce to low and cover. Once chicken is reheated, arrange provolone across the chicken and sprinkle with parmesan. Cover, turn off heat and let sit about five minutes or until melted. Serve over pasta. Serves four.
About 450 cals (including pasta), 9g fat, 4g fiber, 61g carbs, 27g protein

If you want the husband version, toast some sourdough, throw on some extra provolone and spoon on chicken and sauce. Eat while making happy noises as your wife stares longingly at your sandwich.

Yum. He even got real pasta. Lucky, lucky man.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Feeling loverly.

If you have awesome friends like I do, they pay attention when you bitch about things like not having a meat tenderizer. And buy you one. So K, thank you. I owe you one. I prefer paying in food, beer, and/or dirty martinis. Take your pick, love.

As long as I'm dedicating things to those I love, this one is for the hubby. Our first anniversary is this weekend, so I'm making his favorites this week. Yes, I'm Suzy Homemaker. If he's lucky, I'll even iron something.

Ok, that's not actually going to happen, but maybe I'll wear an apron and heels while I cook. Of course, first I'd have to buy an apron...this could be interesting.

Chicken Parmesan is tomorrow. Can't wait.

Chicken Picatta
10-12oz skinless, boneless chicken breast
About a 1/4 cup flour (I use rice flour or gluten-free baking flour)
About a tablespoon butter
Splash olive oil
1 cup uncooked white rice
1 cup white wine (chardonnay or pinot grigio are good)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (a little less than one lemon)
2 1/4 cups chicken broth, divided
cornstarch (about two teaspoons)
2 tablespoons capers (I use a bit more, but we really like capers)
6 or so cloves minced garlic
salt and pepper
Pinch red pepper flakes
Chopped italian parsley, for garnish

Boil 2 cups chicken broth. Add rice, reduce to simmer, cover and cook 15 minutes. Remove from heat, keep covered til ready to serve.

In the meantime, lay chicken between pieces of wax paper or plastic wrap and pound with a tenderizer (since we have one now) til thinner. On a plate or shallow bowl, combine flour, a pinch each of salt and pepper and red pepper flakes. Dredge chicken pieces in flour mix.

Heat butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook chicken about 3-4 minutes per side until brown and cooked through. Remove chicken from pan, place on plate and cover with foil. Add wine, lemon juice, capers, and garlic to pan and bring to a simmer. In small bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup broth and cornstarch, whisk til smooth, then stir into sauce. Cook a couple minutes until it thickens. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve chicken over rice. Spoon on some sauce and top with parsley.
*I like this with rice, but it's also great over cooked pasta.
Serves three. (Two with leftovers)
About 480 cals, 9g fat, 1g fiber, 33g protein, 66g carbs

There's really nothing exciting about leftovers...

And our fridge is full of them.

I'm a big fan of leftovers for lunch-though that's more a money thing than anything else-but I try to avoid them for dinner...I like to cook too much. But when you get to the point where the entirety of your (massive) tupperware collection is in use, something must be done. It's my own fault...I tend to cook for 4-6 people even when it's just the two of us...which is almost always the case. We really need more friends.

So because I am incapable of leaving well enough alone, I played with leftover pot roast and ended up with this last night, which to be honest, was better than the original. All I did was add some salt and pepper, a tiny pinch of celery seed, and a handful of frozen peas. Popped it in the microwave for 3 minutes, and ta-da—it's suddenly stew..sort of. The broth just gets in the way of the good stuff anyway.

I won't be messing with the leftover pumpkin rolls. They were perfect, in my not-so-humble opinion. If there are even any left by tomorrow, that is...the husband has (unfortunately?) decided he likes them after all. Which means I may not have to wait another 3 years to make them again...