Friday, May 28, 2010

Holiday, my ass.

Not to sound bitter, but I hope those of you doing something awesome this weekend have a great time. Try not to be overly jealous of the hubby's and my exciting plans to clean the house, pack the apartment, move the apartment, clean the apartment...and then maybe, if we're still standing, unpack.*

I mean, it's awesome that we have a three day weekend to get this stuff done. We would both be pulling our hair out otherwise, but since almost everything is totally done at the house (a couple doors left to hang, drawer pulls to install, floors to mop), we're pretty much in the home stretch.

It definitely helps that we've had a ton of help. His family has been amazing; even Pia (my dog-in-law) got in on the action. I think she had more paint on her than I did...oohhh, Pia, I want one of you. (Soon!)

But the house is coming together with the little touches we've added and is looking so good. Check out my ridiculous new bathroom vanity light. I'm going to feel like I'm aboard the Enterprise as I apply mascara in the morning, I love it. Now if only I had one of those breakfast/beverage transporter cubbyholes...Someone really needs to get to work on the whole transporter business, by the way. It's freakin' 2010, come on.

Mostly, though, I'm just excited to not live like this anymore:

So go on, enjoy your Memorial Day weekends...and I'll have photos of the finished product next week.

*I assume you know me well enough to know we will be drinking beer as we clean/pack/clean/unpack. As though I need an's a holiday, damnit.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

And this is called:

"I packed my spices and cutting boards, so had to make do with a trip to trader joes and a sauce pan"

Easy. Bagged salad, champagne out of a pink party cup (which I may adopt. Yes, it's Thursday. I like to drink champagne when I pack.) and quick faux chicken parm:
organic mushroom marinara
Sliced leftover chicken
a dash of red pepper
splash of basalmic
a piece of provolone


Man, I miss cooking real food.

-posted out of laziness from my iPhone.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

It's easier than you think. I promise.

Between being out of town a couple weekends in a row and spending as much time as we can at the new house painting and such, cooking has not been high priority when I am home.

Though as tired as I've been, you know I'm stubborn enough to refuse to engage in this, ala hubby:

As far as I know, he hasn't eaten these in 5 years. And he bought a multi-pack. Awesome.

Anyway, I insisted on Cooking (capital C). And realized how many quick (Ms. R. Ray or less) meals I rely on...or can at least fake. Dinner doesn't have to take forever, and shouldn't. (Well...not always, anyway. Sometimes it's completely worth spending way too much time cooking. It wins you points.)

So, for normal people with normal (read:busy) lives, here's a week's worth of meals for inspiration.

Think pho has to take forever/come from a take out package? Try the pho stock mix from Asian markets. It's like a boullion cube for pho...awesome. Boil some water, coarsely chop basil, green onion, white onion and cilantro, slice a lemon, slice some meat or tofu, and open a bag of bean sprouts. It takes like 10 minutes.

Chicken and Potatoes
Then there's my favorite way to cheat dinner-the pre-roasted chicken from Vons. Grabbed some potatoes and salad stuff, and dinner was not only 20 minutes to make, but like 10 bucks. And for broke asses like us, that makes me unreasonably happy.

Easy potato idea: slice, throw in the steamer with a couple sprigs of rosemary, then give them a squirt of spray butter, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and a bit of garlic powder. A bit of nonfat plain yogurt is great, too.

Pad Thai
We'd both been wanting pad thai, so I decided to try one of those pad thai sauces fom the store-I got a simmer sauce from fresh & easy (yes, I went back... again), and all I had to do was cut up/brown some tofu, boil some water for the noodles, shred a carrot, and chop some cilantro and green onion. I already had bean sprouts left over from the pho, and left the peanuts whole instead of chopping them.

Good stuff, can't complain. The sauce had a lot of tamarind, which is totally necessary for pad thai, but it made it a bit too sweet for us, so I ended up adding fish sauce and sriracha.

Steamed some potstickers while it simmered, and dinner was done in 30 minutes. And it looks like I spent all night. Love that.

Tuna Salad
I feel like I don't really talk about tuna much, for whatever reason. But I really like it. I would eat it out of the can if that sort of thing was acceptable for anyone other than Beyonce. (ok, I just spent like 20 minutes searching for a link to explain that uber random reference, and I can't find it. Just go with it.)

And now, my point. One of my favorite home-alone-so-I-can-eat-out-of-the-mixing-bowl meals is tuna salad. Mix drained albacore (in water, not oil), with as much mayo as you like(I do about 2 tbsp of light, I'm not a huge mayo fan), and chopped red onion, celery, and cucumber. Add in romaine, chopped hard boiled eggs (two, toss one or both of the yolks), and chopped tomato, if you have it. Salt and pepper to taste.

Chicken Risotto
Risotto is always a good one to fall back on, especially when both your creativity and kitchen are exhausted.

Defrosted some chicken, seasoned with salt and pepper and some dill (cause why not) and just sautéed it with cooking spray and a splash of white wine. When it was cooked, cut it up (ok, I used my hands, so I should say ripped it up, whatever), and tossed it in at the end of my risotto. (I also put some dill in with the onion and garlic when I sautéed them).

Not quite as quick as the other days, but about a half hour. My advice is to pass the time while stirring with some tivo'd Desperate Housewives and a martini.

Filet and...more filet
And finally, our quick surf and turf. Filet mignon was somehow cheaper than a new york, so I grabbed it. And rather than be responsible and pocket the savings, I spent it on a small filet of coconut crusted tilapia (I used sweet chili sauce as a dipping sauce and it was awesome). Steamed some broccoli and made Rice a Roni wild rice, and the whole thing took 25 minutes.

Inspired yet? Now put the cup of noodles down and back away slowly. Into the kitchen, hopefully...

Monday, May 17, 2010

I'm so proud/jealous.

One more thing to add to the tricks the hubby has mastered...stove top popcorn. It's impressive. He heats 1/2 cup kernels in 3 tbsp canola oil, and eventually his internal popcorn clock goes off, and he shakes the pot a bit until just the right moment. Seasons and serves.

It's light like airpopped, which is a plus, and to top it off, he is able to pop pretty much every. single. kernel. One of those things, like his marinara, that I want to beat him at...but know I never will, so I don't try. Jealous.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Daring Cook, Round 1

I mentioned that I joined the Daring Kitchen a while ago, and as we have to post on the 14th of each month, well, ta-da...Challenge One completed. Stacked Green Chile and Grilled Chicken Enchiladas.

I know Mexican enchiladas aren't exactly out of my realm of normal-ness, but I've never fire-roasted tomatillos before, so I can say with honesty that at least that part was new for me. And my house smells great, so I really have no complaints.

You can find the original recipe here. I decided to go for it and use full fat Monterey's really not that much cheese, and I cooked the tortillas with cooking spray to save some cals (which left wiggle room for some light sour cream on top at the end)

I served with spanish rice and black beans heated with a bit of cumin, salt, and cayenne. (I made Chicken Fajita Rice a Roni. I don't recommend. I tossed mine. And I'll eat pretty much anything. Mushy and blah. Make your own or skip it for a salad.)

Anyway. Here it is. Rule one is that I have to include the following:
Our hosts this month, Barbara of Barbara Bakes and Bunnee of Anna+Food have chosen a delicious Stacked Green Chile & Grilled Chicken Enchilada recipe in celebration of Cinco de Mayo! The recipe, featuring a homemade enchilada sauce was found on and written by Robb Walsh.

And here's the official review:
Pammy: So?
Hubby: You can taste that the sauce is homemade...the tortillas are good...very good.
Pammy: So you like.
Hubby:...(pause)...I like it more than your enchilada casserole.
Pammy: (falls out of chair, needs light resuscitation)
Hubby: I know it's labor intensive...
Pammy: Sighhhh...It's not that bad.
Hubby:...then add it to the recipe box.

And there you have it.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Just as Niki de Saint Phalle intended, I'm sure.

Well, got in a couple more evenings at the house this week, which makes me feel better about completely abandoning the painting crew this weekend. I'm off to San Diego for the annual Sun God Festival this afternoon, and will be spending three glorious days in the place I miss more than anything with people I adore. (Minus the hubby, he's being good and staying to work on the house)

Now, we're not actually going to the music part of the festival, which is actually fitting since I never actually made it to the music parts during my four years at UCSD, either. There's so much going on on campus that day (drinking), so the days were spent wandering (drinking) and shopping at the vendor booths (drinking) and just generally having a great time (drinking). Much like our plan for tomorrow. We have a hotel within walking distance of campus and a Rock Bottom, so I'm thinking there may be some drinking going on. Maybe.

Cannot wait.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Yum. Much better than the first time around. And I'm not ashamed to say I'm not surprised...packaged broth has its purpose, and that is to make my life easier. (Thank you, Sandra Lee, for making that acceptable.)

So yeah, easy enough. Used beef pho broth with chicken, which wasn't altogether a bad idea, and topped with the usual-sliced white onion, green onion, cilantro, bean sprouts, basil and lemon. Mmm mm mmmmm.

-posted out of laziness from my iPhone.

I love thoughtful people

Whatever shall I make tonight??

Thanks again to the boss lady and her thoughtful husband, who picked me up some pho noodles and broth mix in the OC. Time to try this baby out...

-posted out of laziness from my iPhone.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

House, MD

So, it turns out it takes a long time to upgrade a house. We're 2 weeks in, and here's the update.

The floors (sans bathroom) are done. The tile in the bathroom is taking longer than normal for various reasons, but it should be installed tomorrow. Which means the toilet will be back in, which is a good thing. TMI ALERT I have a tiny bladder. So working for more than a couple hours at a time in a bathroom-less house is a bit of a problem. I'm not really a go-outside kinda girl.

Anyway, the goal is June 1, which works out well, having a three day weekend precede it.

I unfortunately don't have any before-before photos, but I have floors-ripped-up-during/beginning photos. Here's the progress:



Living/main room:

Backyard (both views):

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Wino Forever

For those keeping track, the box of wine is still roughly 1/3 full. After 8 days. And I have been trying, let me tell you. I was dead set on having that mofo empty by now.

Let's look at this in practical (nerdy) terms (I went to one of the top academic schools in the country...I feel like I need to use it now and then. Ma, look at this like a Mother's Day present).

Five liters of wine is roughly 170 oz...which is 34 5oz glasses.

For a singular drinker that believes in "moderation," that should last a month.

This drinker, however, sees that I only drank 2/3 of the box. AKA roughly 113oz in 8 days. Which averages out to 14oz, or 2.5ish glasses, a day. (More if you consider I chose champagne over wine last night. Shhh.)

Not bad. All I can do is try. If it's still around by next Thursday, I'm chucking it.

I'm lying, I never toss booze. Come on, now. And yes, I'll still call my mother tomorrow. This was a terrible gift. Maybe if I throw a nice bottle of wine in...

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Another oldie but goodie

Or is it Oldy but Goody? Hmmm. I don't know that I've ever seen it would make sense, but...Ohhhh, English, you evil beast.

(Sometimes I get sidetracked. Sorry, I'm watching Jeff and Britta make out...and possibly Joel McHale's ever expanding pecs. Man, I love May Sweeps.)

The point, finally, is that I love recipes you learned from a parent. You've eaten them since you can remember, you learned how to make them when you were little, and you adjusted them to suit you once you were old enough to know what you liked, aka college.

This is one of those. Chicken Divan. I really should have had my sister guest blog this one, cause she makes a fabulous one, but...I just now thought of the idea. Next time, baby sis. Mine's not so bad either...

Chicken Divan
12oz boneless skinless chicken breast, cooked and cubed
About 2 small heads broccoli, cut in small pieces (3-4 cups)
1 can cream of mushroom soup (low sodium is fine)
About 2 tbsp light mayo
1/3 cup 1% milk
salt and pepper to taste
About 1/2 cup reduced fat cheddar or Mexican cheese blend cheese

Heat over to 400.

Boil water and a pinch of salt in a medium pot. Add broccoli, boil about 3 minutes, drain.

In medium bowl, mix soup, mayo, milk, and a pinch each of salt and pepper.

Coat a casserole dish lightly with cooking spray, spread chicken out. Spread broccoli over chicken. Pour soup mix over everything. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a little brown and bubbly.

Serve alone or over rice.

Cinco de Hubby-o

Just want to take a minute to give a public Happy Birthday to the darling hubby. My Cinco de Mayo baby had his big 2-9 yesterday, and we, as always, took advantage of the dual-holiday with Mexican beer, food, and more beer. (Unfortunately this took place on a Wednesday...which we (he) paid for's hell getting old.)

We hit up La Costa Mariscos downtown...if you're into seafood, ceviche, chile colorado and/or 7-seafood soup (yes, I got soup), it. Look at this business. Crab, tilapia, shrimp, scallops, octopus, squid, and mussels.
Mmm. Mmm. Mmm.

Happy Birthday babe. Thanks for being born.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Ever dropped a knife on your foot?

While I didn't pull a Chandler and lose a toe, I did take a knife tip to the foot tonight.

I'm not gonna hurts. I now have a nice round bruise forming at the spot. Sad-kid face over here. (Sorry if you're anti-foot. And for my bony toes needing a pedicure. I'm done now.)

Unfortunately not the most painful part of the night...that would be my call to Brighthouse Cable. I've been writing on my phone since our Internet took a crap 3 days ago...we keep coming home after long days expecting it to be back up...not so much. So I finally took one for the team tonight and called.

The first 20 minutes were spent convincing a woman that we do, in fact, get our cable from brighthouse. As we have for the past 4 years. 22 months of which has been in this apartment. Why this was a 20 minute-put-me-on-hold-three-times conversation, I don't know. What I do know is that "oh, got it...let me transfer you upstairs" is code for "Have fun with this call."

The exact moment I lost it wasn't when tech support guy explained to me that my wireless airport wouldn't work unless it was connected to live Internet (.....), it was when he asked me to "look at the top left of your screen. Do you see the apple icon?"

Breathing. Breathing.

We still have no Internet. But we did have this for dinner.

Mmmmmm. Chicken parm. Even the quick way, you're delicious.

-posted out of ANNOYANCE from my iPhone.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Coconut Crush

As created-and named-by the hubby. He has no idea the amounts, so play accordingly:

Fresh coconut juice
Orange crush
Fresh coconut shavings to garnish

-posted out of laziness from my iPhone.

I'm exhausted.

We have been machines this weekend. The in-laws have a rental house here in town, which has recently been vacated by what appear to be a family of cracked out warthogs...I don't know how people live like that. Seriously. It was disgusting.

Was being the key word here.

As they have graciously offered to rent the house to us (once it's back in livable condition), we are taking full advantage of the fact that the house needs major renovations. Which sounds insane to probably everyone but the parallel, I know, but it's so awesome to get to pick paint samples and flooring, fixtures and handles. And help make them into something awesome. (I'm a control freak and a designer, I can't help it.)

So. After 17 hours of painting over the past two days, my hands are blistered and swollen, my back aches, my legs hurt from climbing up and down ladders, and my brain is trying to process doing it all over again after work tomorrow. And every weekend in the foreseeable future.

The house will be move-in-ready (new paint, appliances, new flooring and windows throughout) in a couple weeks, but once we're in we'll be working on details and the backyard (and awesome patio!) for who knows how long...exciting and frightening and so many other things...

Get ready for photos. It's not food, but it's something we're making from scratch (sorta), and it's gonna be awesome.

-posted out of laziness from my iPhone.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

I now have a box of wine in my fridge.

I have a pool going on how long it'll last. I call a week. Anyone else?

Yeah, that's orange soda. (One part soda, two parts boxed wine=ghetto sangria. Try it.) There's also a handle of Malibu. It's like college invaded my fridge...

-posted out of laziness from my iPhone

Pineapple Party!

I love themed parties. Well, more specifically, theme parties where I don't have to dress up. I hate that. (Yes, baby sis, you throw a great theme party. I forgive you cause Mad Men makes for a better outfit than, say, the 80s.)

But the best themed parties (hang on, is it theme parties? Themed parties? Parties with a theme? I'm exhausted. Help, please.)are the ones where people have to potluck to said theme. Countries, types of food, time of day, whatever. (Totally includes brunch, by the way.)

So when the hubby, a couple of his coworkers and I decided to watch Pineapple Express together Friday night, we figured we'd do it right and make it a pineapple party.

I got over-excited (pineapple steak kebobs*, pineapple fried rice (see below), pineapple (two) and a coconut (why not)) but so did in point:

Um, awesome. That's a cup, and we will be using them fancy pineapple straws, Malibu, orange crush (to mix), wine, beer, and utterly ridiculously hilarious conversation...y'all are invited back anytime.

Pineapple Shrimp Fried Rice
1 cup white or jasmine rice, cooked according to directions and cooled
Can of pineapple chunks, drained
Small handful cilantro, chopped
Chili oil
About a pound of raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
Peanut oil
3 or 4 cloves garlic
One large shallot, halved and sliced thinly
About 1-2 tsp brown sugar
About 3 tbsp fish sauce
About 2 tbsp terriyaki sauce
About 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce (sub all soy sauce if you don't have terriyaki)

Mix cilantro, pineapple, and a large squirt sriracha (less or more, it's spicy and you can always add more), set aside.

Heat a tbsp or so of chili oil (or canola) in wok or large sauté pan. Sauté shrimp about 4 minutes or until cooked (will turn white). Remove from pan and keep warm.

Heat a tbsp or so of peanut oil, and sauté garlic and shallot about 2 minutes. Add rice, brown sugar, fish, terriyaki and soy sauces. Mix gently til well combined. Add shrimp, continue stir frying til hot. Fold in cilantro/pineapple mix.

*Leftover cooked Soy Vay marinated steak with mushrooms, shallots, red bell pepper, pineapple and cherry tomato kebobs, btw, make for surprisingly good salad two days later over romaine and with lite blue cheese dressing.

Hubby gets the genius award for this one. Yum.

-posted out of laziness from my iPhone.