Saturday, December 25, 2010

I have an idea.

I need to stew on it a bit, but it's incentive to cook new stuff (and in turn write about it). It involves one of my Christmas gifts. (and check out my new TOMs, too! Yay!)

Hmm. Hope everyone had a fabulous Christmas!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

That's what I'm talking about.

Cold weather=soup weather. It's Pozole night.

-posted out of laziness from my iPhone.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

This is a Thanksgiving post.

I know I'm not even posting in the right month (speaking of...crap, Book Club...), but better late than never, right? It's not like any one is needing holiday recipes in the 4 weeks between Thanks and Xmas. And if you are, well...sorry, my little elves. You're far more festive than I.

Let's start with apps, shall we?

Pretty easy. Chips and dip and salsa, a veggie tray (baby carrots, cukes, bell peppers, celery, raw green beans, snow peas) with dip, and a spinach cheese ball (beautifully rolled, Mrs. B.).

Look how cute I am. I mean, we are.
As for dinner itself, we kept it weirdly traditional this year, at least compared to last year. This turned out to be a good thing, since we ended up hosting a bunch of out-of-towners...many of whom needed their 'traditions.' Boys. (Shaking head) And so to my planned turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce and tri-tip (hubby's addition), we also added corn, broccoli, and sweet potato casserole. (Guests were in charge of booze and dessert. Many thanks to Big Perm for the pumpkin pies. Delicious. As for the nickname, just go with it—for once, I didn't make it up.)

Let's focus on said casserole, shall we? Show of hands...who likes sweet potato casserole? You know, the one with marshmallows on top? That's actually made from yams, not sweet potatoes? Anyone? If you do, well, here's another recipe for it. If you don't, well, you might now. I even surprised myself with this one. Thanks, Mom, for the base for this recipe. For some reason this wasn't as sweet as I remember yours being, but I've refused to taste it for the past, oh, 20 years, so forgive any false memories.

Sweet Yams
About 4 medium large yams, peeled, quartered, and sliced
All spice
About 2 or 3 tbsp margarine
about 3 tbsp brown sugar
About 1/4 cup crushed pineapple
good pinch salt
mini marshmallows

Steam yams in steamer with allspice (I have a steamer with a screen for spices...if you have that, go for it. Otherwise, just steam however you steam veggies—If you don't, buy something that lets you. And eat some veggies, damnit—then add a pinch of all spice in the next step) about 20 minutes or until soft.

Preheat oven to 375 (or 400 or whatever your bird is at).
In large bowl, mash yams, margarine and brown sugar, then stir in pineapple and salt. Cover with marshmallows, cook about 35 minutes or until hot and marshmallows begin to brown.

As for the enormous 21lb bird...I totally threw my back out with this monster. After I got rid of all the nastiness inside (neck, giblets, ick), I rubbed the whole thing with a butter/fresh sage/S+P mix, rubbing as much under the skin as I could, too, then baked the whole thing at 375 for about 4 hours. (About 20 minutes less than I was 'supposed to,' and then wrapped it in foil, breast side down, for about 45 minutes. SO JUICY!) Annnd...voila.

I think everyone was happy. Or full, at the very least. And now I guess this means I should break out the Christmas decorations...and finish my book club blog. Sigh. One thing at a time...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

This is not a Thanksgiving post.

Just wanted to make that clear from the get-go. Yes, turkey day was like 2 weeks ago. My bad.

But no, this is a rant about soup. Canned soup. Campbell's canned soup, to be exact.

The thing about Campbell's that bugs me is that Campbell's always tastes like Campbell' other words, all of their (broth-based condensed soups, at least) taste exactly the same. Is this a bad thing?'s not a good thing, let me put it that way. Give me some variety! Chicken Noodle, Chicken with Rice, Chicken with soup, different filler. Whatever. Not like I ever eat them, so I really don't care.

However. They now have this new "Taste Sensations" line, including a Won Ton variety. Now, we know how I feel about soup, Asian soup in particular...I can eat it So obviously I had to try it.

Hmm. Turns out I could have just eaten a can of Chicken Noodle; it tastes exactly the same. Even the 'wontons' were just little pasta pillows-thick and virtually empty. Bleh. On the upside, a whole can is only 125 calories. And I like eating entire cans of things.

Just in case anyone has seen this line and was's what I'm here for.

-posted out of laziness from my iPhone.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Here we go.

Going traditional this year... a (22lb) turkey. tri-tip. stuffing. potatoes and gravy. corn. broccoli. sweet potatoes. rolls. homemade cranberry sauce.

Wish us luck.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Two things. Well, kinda three. Plus.

For all you Kern County kids that read, I'd like to ask a favor: Don't request "The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake." Just made my infinitely slow way through "Love in the Time of Cholera," and now have only three days to read the entire book. If no one wants it, I can renew. Otherwise, I pay a fee. And I don't do late's the #1 reason I switched from Blockbuster to Netflix. I tried to read it all today, but before I started, vacuuming, freelance jobs, room re-organizing, cooking, and general time wasting happened...Instead, I'm on pg. 11.

I'm not above shameless self promotion. If any of you live in town or are visiting/passing through Bakersfield and need a bit of, um, tidying up, call my girl Leah. You will not regret it.
Yes, I designed her site. And am a client. Web is not my first talent, but I can make it happen. But no lie, she's amazing. Call her. And if you need design stuff-brochures, cards, ads, web, call me. Message me or comment me for rates/info.

Do you guys listen to Ingrid Michaelson? If not...if you're a Grey's Anatomy fan, change your answer right now. She pretty much dominates their soundtrack. Look her up. You won't regret it. (She's kept me company all night tonight, as she does about 3 days a week at work). Chill, honest, sweet, fun. Love her.


Ah, progress.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Eating my words.

In a good way.

Proving good things come from simple recipes (and quickly). So. Good. Makes me sorry hubby didn't get any. Cause I totally didn't leave him leftovers...sorry, honey. It was soft (and not soup!!) and delicious. Hopefully your pizza was good? (If was free ;) )
P.S., do we like my new camera? Haven't replaced my DSLR, but I did get a new Canon Powershot Point and Shoot, which so good. cute is it? Tiny and powder blue. Hee. Such a sucker for color.

Spinach Risotto Stuffed Portabella
Olive oil
Two-pack of portabella mushrooms
1/2 cup arborio rice
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 and 1/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup vermouth or white wine
Water as needed
A couple cups baby spinach
About an ounce crumbled blue cheese
Fresh ground pepper to taste

Remove the gills and stems from both mushrooms. Chopped one roughly, leave the other alone.

In Saute pan, heat olive oil and garlic til fragrant. Add rice. Saute over medium high about 5 minutes, then add vermouth. Stir frequently while it cooks down. Then add 1/2 cup stock, let cook down while stirring. Add chopped mushroom, keep stirring. Repeat with rest of stock. When almost cooked through, add spinach. When wilted and rice is cooked to taste (kinda velvety), add blue cheese and pepper. Mix in, cover, and remove from heat.

In small saute pan, spray with cooking oil, and cook whole portabella about 4 minutes a side, adding some water to help steam it. When cooked through, remove from heat.

Serve with a scoop of rice on plate, then mushroom, cap-side down, filled with another scoop of rice. Serves one with leftover rice. (To serve two, get two mushroom packs, then just serve rice in cap, not underneath).

Friday, November 19, 2010

My Top Ten Go-Tos.

I had an interesting request for a blog topic a couple days ago, and as I aim to please (and have no better ideas for tonight-I'm back on a liquid diet after my embarrassingly stupid jaw injury is acting up again, so I've had nothing but Fresh & Easy soup for the past few meals), here it is:

"What if you could only have 10 things in your fridge, what would they be??"

Well, Jess, excellent question. I assume you aren't looking for me to say the ten things currently in my fridge, cause right now we're looking at beer, wine, tequila, romaine, pickles, olives, and a shit-ton of condiments. We haven't been shopping this week...trying to keep the fridge empty for the massive Thanksgiving shopping trip happening this weekend. I'm also counting items I like in my pantry. (Go to the side and choose the label 'desperation' if you don't know why.)

Oh, and I'm not counting olive oil, salt or pepper, btw. They don't count. Yet are used pretty much every night. Oh, and Jess..I know you have (adorable) little you know, I don't. So hopefully these aren't too 'adult' only...I wasn't a picky kid, but I know how some kids are.

Anyway. Here we go:
1. Garlic
I always, always have garlic on hand. Fresh. Powdered, too, but that's typically reserved for times of extreme desperation/laziness.

2. Onions
Green, red, yellow, occasionally white. Yellow for Indian/mid-west Grandma food, red and/or green for pretty much any and everything else. Don't underestimate the shallot, either. Yum.

3. Fresh Herbs
I typically have basil and cilantro, and when I'm stocking up, rosemary and fresh thyme. Makes such a difference.

4. Frozen Poultry
I stock up on frozen boneless chicken breasts and lean ground turkey. Endless possibilities with either, especially the chicken.

5. Pasta
I ALWAYS have some sort of noodles around. "Regular" pasta (generally penne or linguine), rice noodles, and/or bean thread noodles. Depending on which I've got, add some of that poultry and you've got a quick base for asian food or just a pantry-pasta.

6. Canned Diced Tomatoes
I almost always have a back up can of diced tomatoes in the pantry. I think they're the most versatile of the canned tomato bunch.

7. Rice/Quinoa
Risotto is the easiest one-pot meal you can make, and rice makes a filling base for just about anything with chicken/sauce in it. I always have basmati rice (not the best for risotto, however), but I try to keep arborio or white rice around for that purpose. Same goes for quinoa.

8. Tuna
Canned tuna takes me far. I either mix it with cooked rice, cilantro, sriracha, green onion and lime for a quick bowl of awesomeness, or mix it with some mayo, lettuce, onion, cucumber, a hard boiled egg, and tomato for a great tuna salad. Or you know, throw it on some bread. Oh, and always water packed. Oil packed is just gross (not to mention full of unnecessary calories).

9. Cream of Mushroom Soup
By itself. Mixed with rice and chicken. Mixed with tuna and pasta (and cooked edamame!). Mmm. Mmm. Mmm. Oh, and for soup, you have to go with the original. With 1% milk, not water. For cooking, the low sodium stuff is just fine. Reduced fat, however, not so much.

10. Veggies. Green ones.
Spinach, lettuce, broccoli, brussels, asparagus or green beans. At least one of those is always in my fridge. The husband and I like our veggies, what can I say? And if don't have fresh, we like to stock up on canned asparagus and green beans (and he likes spinach), so we almost always have a quick green side to dinner.

Runners Up:
Cheese. The stinkier the better, Gorgonzola, goat, romano...I usually have all of those
Citrus (lime and lemons)
Black beans (although I also like cannellini and kidney)
Chicken bouillon powder (Yes, Mom, I know it's not good for me. But it makes everything that needs water-including rice-so much better)
Barilla Marina with Mushroom sauce (Hubby still adds onion and garlic, but it's good in a pinch without anything)

Good Question! This was fun. Anybody else??

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Six ingredients(ish) or less.

I love Italian Wedding Soup. I make it every chance I get...but as we're counting calories again, I wanted to make something in between that and my fave simple chicken/cabbage soup recipe, thinking I could avoid pasta if I combined cabbage and meatballs. It worked. Easy, yummy, great for sickies like me (I have a never-ending cold).

Oh, and I don't count S&P, fish sauce or sriracha as ingredients, cause the first two are totally to taste. And the fish sauce is optional.

And so, here we go.

"Thai" Wedding Soup
Half to one head of cabbage, roughly chopped
12-14 cups chicken broth
One package lean ground turkey
One egg
About 4 large cloves garlic, minced
Dried basil, about a tsp
S&P, good pinch each
Sriracha, at least 1 tsp
Fish sauce, about a tbsp or so

Heat broth in stock pot til boiling. In the meantime, mix turkey, garlic, egg, and basil in a large bowl (use your hands).

Once broth is boiling, roll medium large meatballs (less than 2 inches across) between your hands, and drop slowly into soup. Let boil slowly about 15 minutes, then stir in sriracha, cabbage and fish sauce. Cook another 10 minutes or until cabbage is cooked.


Once that short-list meal panned out (and fed me for 5 meals over 3 days), I decided to try again with chicken. I figure stuffing is always easy and quick, so I could use the opportunity to play...and baked goat cheese stuffed chicken with proscuitto sounded like a winner.

Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken
6 thin slices prosciutto
2 6oz chicken breasts
2 oz herbed goat cheese
S&P, a pinch each
honey (1 tbsp ish)
balsamic vinegar, about 3 tbsp
1/4 tsp pepper

Heat oven to 425, Arrange three pieces of prosciutto side by side. Take one piece of chicken and make a slit longways. Stuff with 1 oz of goat cheese. sprinkle with salt and pepper, then wrap the chicken with the prosciutto. Repeat with other breast. Spray both with olive oil spray, place on roast rack (or cookie sheet) and cook for about 25-30min or until cooked through.

If you want to try a balsamic glaze on it, heat the honey, vinegar and pepper over medium high until it reduces a bit (5 min+) Pour over chicken (and rice, etc.)

-posted out of laziness from my iPhone.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

How is it almost Thanksgiving??

Hey! 'Member me?? I gotta say...I've been kind of a mess lately. Ever since the whole burglary incident, I haven't been...well, let's just say I've been better. Distracted, consumed, depressed, annoyed, sick...not my best days. And with it being hockey and football season, I haven't been in much of a mood to cook for just me.

But. Thanksgiving is in a week. So I need to get off my gym-starved, junk-food enlarged ass and get back in it. Cause our house somehow turned into the place to be next Thursday. Mr. and Mrs. B are coming down from Seattle for our second annual holiday together (If you're needing any ideas, check out our recipes from last year for pecan pie, meat, cranberry sauce, and cornbread stuffing). And since we were already cooking, we invited over a handful of our other friends who were family-less this year (I'm eating with my parents over the weekend). It's going to be a full house (mostly of dudes, which is good, cause they're easier to impress), so dinner will be pretty informal and probably fairly booze and football fueled.

It's also going to be pretty traditional—doing a turkey (a huge one, I'm assuming), potatoes and gravy, stuffing, veggies, and possibly a few surprises.

Anyway, I'm going to start small. Cooking chicken with goat cheese and prosciutto tonight, so I'll let you know if it turns out.

Oh, and who is going to buy me this shirt? It's my favorite Thanksgiving reference of all time. Whoever does wins. Just FYI.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Seriously Literate: October

Wow. November is like, yesterday(plus). And the only part I'm ready for is the time I guess October Book Club is a bit overdue? Sorry we go:

Strangers at The Feast, Jennifer Vanderbes
Sooo...I forgot I read this book. And so I'm reviewing about a week after I had the full story settle, which may be a good thing. Or a bad, seeing that it apparently didn't affect me the way the back of the book promised it would. ("An important story," it boasted).

I have a feeling I sped through it too quickly (I started it a day before it was due back, so I may have hurried a bit), but it was a good story. Until near the very end, you don't see what is really happening...but once you do, well...I was torn as to who I was supposed to see as the villain. And to me, that makes a good story. I like sympathizing with characters, no matter if they 'deserve it' or not...which made this even better, since I ended up torn, as I said, as to who deserved it.

I'm guessing if you read this you can tell who I ended up feeling sorriest for (hello, big blue-liberal-equal-rights-flag over here. Hint=not the rich white folk.).

Overall Consensus: Interesting read. Would probably make for another good sociology class assignment.So really, it was more college course material than enjoyable reading. But good all the same. Short, sweet, and interesting. Go for it. (And in my only political outlet: Vote Jerry Brown!)(P.s., I'm late. But yay to all of you who read my mind!)

Fortune's Rocks, Anita Shreve
Shreve has some themes she enjoys carrying over, I've noticed...she likes to deal with younger woman/older man relationships, she likes traveling between times (or writing in the past, as in this example) and she likes endings. Not here-you-go,-all-in-a-pretty,-perfect-bow-package endings, but endings that give the reader hope that everything will work out in that fairy-tale relationshipy way. Without having to tell us or be all sappy and lame about it. Which...really...well, are kinda the same as any ending that 'works out.' hmm..this is killing my whole point...but it holds true. Not a happy ending, not a sad ending, just a 'hmm' ending.. I'm ok with that, I guess. (In other words, I still will read Shreve's novels, if only cause they're enjoyable)

Overall consensus: It's a good story, set in the 19th century. A bit long, but I enjoyed all of it. A little bit too perfect an ending in contrast to the rest of the story's struggles (which I found heartfelt)...but that's a minor complaint. I enjoy this author, what can I say?

City of Thieves, David Benioff
Kate recommended this one, claiming both she and husband loved it. And yet I opened it, saw the phrase (well, roughly) My grandfather killed two Germans in a knife fight, and the book was promptly set down, renewed twice, and was not to be opened for another 5 weeks.

I really need to start reading the summaries on the inside flaps. Cause, me? I judge books by their cover. And their first paragraphs. I know better, of course, but that's never really stopped me before.

And so I attempted it again. And of course, thought it was fantastic. I like when books tell a very specific story, and this is one. It takes place over a small amount of time, but long enough, as in the real world, to build relationships, be traumatic/enlightening, and to bring permanent people into one's life.

OMG, just read it. It's lovely.

Overall consensus: I liked it enough to want to order his first book for next month. Well, maybe. I have about a million (six) checked out right now. But it was wonderful. Thumbs up.

Body Surfing, Anita Shreve
Yes, two by the same author this month. But since Fortune's Rock took place decades ago, and this one is present(ish) day, it's a whole different feel. It was a good light read. Love triangles and the accompanying torment ( do I describe this...I feel like the characters had feelings that I wasn't privy too...I didn't really get the passion that she may have intended). As usual, she left the ending wide open, which can be either gratifying or infuriating, depending on how you feel about loose ends. (I imagine it says something about me that I have been avoiding the last season of The Sopranos for this exact reason)

Overall consensus: Not my favorite of Shreve's novels, but by no means bad. One of my favorite parts, though, was when I *Spoiler-ish alert* had a fantastic OH! moment when the characters began referring to the history of the home...and I recognized more than one prior inhabitant. easy read, but she's written better.

Ape House, Sara Gruen
As soon as I heard that the author of Water for Elephants had a new novel out (thanks boss lady!), I was all over it. And I want to give another 5 star review. But the two books are so different, I can't compare them in any sort of meaningful way. And so here it is: Read it. I wanted it to be as beautiful as WFE, but it's not. Let's back way up right now:

When I was 8, I wanted to be either a dermatologist, an archeologist or a should point out at this point that I was so moved by a Bio-Anthro class in college that the idea of working with bonobo monkeys was something I knew I would love, but in the end couldn't imagine making an actual career of. But the idea of how similar we are to these creatures, biologically...well, it's fascinating. I dare you to read this book and disagree.

Overall consensus:Thumbs up. If you respect animals, evolution, and are as fascinated with the thought of learning sign language for no other purpose but to communicate (theoretically) with apes (and even if you don't), it's a good, fascinating read.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Anyone know what Florentine is?

Me either. But I know it's spinach...and something...I'm looking, I'm looking...

Huh. Seems that you can make just about anything, add spinach, and voila. Florentine. Good to know.

Makes for a good pantry meal, I'll tell you that. We have food...I just have been knee-deep in freelance, a good new book (The Help, by Kathryn Stockett), and season 6 of Grey's. And therefore have other things to do than cook long, drawn-out meals. Even/especially when my freezer has been costco-sized (tempting to cook something good, but enough frozen chicken that I don't have to)

And so:

Chicken Florentine Pasta
2 breasts of chicken
Cooking spray
About 1.5-2 cups cooked penne pasta
One can cream of broccoli soup
Large handful (2 cups?) baby spinach
Shredded Romano cheese to top

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Spray hot sauté pan with cooking spray, cook chicken on high about 4 minutes til brown. Turn, cook another 3 minutes, reduce heat to low, add a tbsp or so of water, cover.

Cook about 8 minutes or until done. With a fork and some tongs, pull chicken into small pieces. Add soup, another pinch each salt and pepper, and cook a couple minutes. Add spinach and pasta, mix gently. When the spinach starts wilting, grate cheese over everything (as much as you want...don't be a fat ass, 1/4 cup or so should do.)

-posted out of laziness from my iPhone.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I'm in love...

with my new favorite toy, a shiny, speedy, sinfully delicious 15in Mac BookPro. Best part? It's wireless. Yes, I understand all laptops are...unless you have been putting off buying a new battery and have been attached to the wall for the past year. Anyway...yuh-uh-umm. It's so purdy.

As hard as it was, I tore myself away from playing long enough to make and feed myself eggplant parm. (side note: I LOVE my toaster oven...I totally used it for this.) I used this cooking light recipe, with some minor changes...made half a recipe, so I just did one layer of eggplant, topped with sauce, the cheese mix, more sauce, then torn fresh pieces of small mozzarella balls (an oz or so) and 2 provolone slices. Baked for 45 minutes total, but it could cook a bit longer. Served with chicken-broth cooked rice.
Also yum.

Oh, and I think I've mentioned this before, but it's worth repeating...after you slice the eggplant, sprinkle both sides with salt, layer between paper towels, let sit 5 to 10 minutes, then rinse before using. It makes them less bitter.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Possibly the best dinner ever.

I spent the afternoon today (and last night, thanks again for the fabulous dinner, etc!) at the formerly-known-as-the-new-parents' home, prepping for and enjoying Mrs. A's baby shower. I think we (mostly she, look at those raspberry pastries and spinach dip!) did good...

Our favors, hot cocoa mix:

Sangria is always a hit:

The now-experienced mama and the mama-to-be, measuring her tummy:

Annnyway, now I'm spent. And since hubby is out representing the Condors' opening night, I get to spend the evening watching Dexter and enjoying whatever quiet time Greta and Ramona allow me. Thank you, Trader Joes, for making dinner easy.

That's right...caprese salad, bread and olive oil/balsamic, and a dirty. The only thing that could beat this would be crab legs and lobster. But I'm not about to push it.

Oh, and we got a new back door. Swoon. Matching front door tomorrow!!

-posted out of good-dayness from my iPhone.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Pantry meal supreme

Well, kinda.

So not only am I totally unmotivated to cook, I'm not too jazzed about shopping, either. I go, but I get like 3 things at a time.

This is the fridge. Apparently I only eat condiments and drink (don't judge, that's my job). At least the kits have food.

I've been the queen of ready-to-eat food this week. Pre-roasted chicken, Black Angus (and the resulting leftovers), ready to cook pasta...gah. Not terrible, but still.

But I got off my ass and cooked tonight. Even if it was the easiest thing I could think of, which really just meant whatever I had that needed the least from the store.

Ah, how i love risotto. I had onion, garlic, herbs and cheese, so my shopping consisted only of wine, chicken, and arborio rice (I could have used basmati, but it's just not the same.)

You guys know how I feel about risotto. It takes minute effort, but it take a bit of time. So what.

Stuffed some chicken with blue cheese and thyme, browned one side, then flipped, added a quarter cup or so of broth, covered, and cooked over medium for 11 minutes.

As for the risotto, i added the rest of the cheese (tbps-ish), some fresh pepper and a sprinkle of thyme to the rice at the end. Yum.

I am so over being distracted. I wanna cook. And write. And have my stuff back, damnit.