Thursday, July 29, 2010

Easy. And kinda halfassed.

Yes, I've been on an easy food kick (you're welcome). And today's quick meal is:
Pasta au gratin.
AKA, a box of gluten free Mac and Cheese from Trader Joes, half a bag of chopped broccoli (cooked in the pasta water for 8 min), a bit of extra leftover melted Gouda mixed in, salt and pepper. Ta-Dow.

Seriously, y'all, get creative. Yes, sometimes it doesn't work at all and you end up with a trasher. But sometimes it makes for the best/most surprisingly good/cheap meals.

Yum. Even the cat agrees. I can't keep her face out of my bowl.

-posted out of laziness from my iPhone.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I can read good.

Well, I finally went and got myself a library card. For the first time in my adult life, actually (not counting college, and my friends can attest to how few times I used mine then...I can probably count on two hands), and it was long overdue. (heh)

I loved the library when I was little. Nancy Drew and I were like this. But then I grew up, and with the help of Borders—and my debit card—the public library became the home library. Oh, and I discovered TiVo, so the book reading has declined in the past few years. (I love tv. And I'm not ashamed to say it.)

So it wasn't til I saw a book's spine stamped with 'Library' sitting on the Parallel's coffee table last month that I realized I've been wasting money. I mean, seriously? Do you really read most books more than once? The best part about having a big library at home is that it looks cool. And proves we're literate. Both of which are sometimes necessary, but more often than not, it's simply more heavy stuff to move.

And so I've been reading Library books. And as I like to share, here's Part One of my summer book list.

The Handmaid's Tale: Margaret Atwood
Great story. Not at all the ending I wanted. And I'm not sure what ending it was that I wanted/would have made sense...I just know it was not this one. Otherwise, however, the book was fascinating. You realize fairly early on that things are not at all what they seem, and it just keeps unfolding over the course of the tale. Very interesting—both the characters and the story itself. I seriously enjoyed all but the last few pages.

I'm So Happy For You: Lucinda Rosenfeld
I found the book on a Marie Claire magazine recommendation. If you have baby fever, are insecure in your marriage, or secretly despise your best friend, you may relate. I did not. I mean, it was fine for pool reading, which was its purpose, so I shouldn't be so harsh. It had some good insight scattered throughout. And to be fair, I've got a major thing for English chick-lit, and American authors hardly ever do much for me. At least in that genre. So I may be biased. Either way, not my fave.

Eat, pray, love: Elizabeth Gilbert
I'll be honest. I've put off reading this for years, ever since I saw the word 'pray' in the title. I'm agnostic, what can I say? The topic doesn't really do anything for me.

I honestly only read it because my dear friend Kate told me the main character was a bit of a shrew. Instant intrigue, cause I'm twisted like that. Turns out, however, I didn't find her shrewish. A bit self-important, maybe, but still an interesting enough person. I liked her sarcasm and the pace of the writing. And mostly, I liked that the first third of the book is about food. Lots. And lots. Of food. With descriptions like this: "It's pasta, but a shape of pasta I've never seen-big, fresh sheets of pasta folded ravioli-like into the shape (if not exactly the size) of the pope's hat stuffed with a hot, aromatic purée of crustaceans and octopus and squid, served...with fresh cockles and strips of julienned vegetables, all swimming in an olivey, oceany broth. Followed by rabbit, stewed in thyme."

Um. I need not keep going. Want. Immediately.

And I really honestly enjoyed the Pray section. It was fascinating. Here, "pray" actually refers to a more Eastern approach to spirituality, which I can appreciate. I liked it a made me want to start meditating. As for the Love section...well, I have mixed feelings. Read it and give me your opinion.

Agree? Disagree? Anything you want to recommend for me?

Plus there's no a/c out there.

There are things you learn when you're living in a house that you don't have to deal with when you live in an apartment. Even though we don't own the house, being a family-owned home, we definitely feel responsible for at least minor upkeep. Cooler hose breaks? Hubby's up on the roof replacing it. Bugs in the grass? We're on a first name basis with our exterminator.

Luckily, we have a gardener, but we still find ourselves outside trimming and planting and weed-pulling. Well, I find myself planting. The rest are Blue Jobs; I just supervise. And honestly, having a back yard has always been something hubby has been looking forward to...something to make his own, tend to, all that business. Which is why it's funny and a bit surprising to see his annoyance building lately. I think he learned his limits this weekend, however...

He came in, soaking wet with sweat, cursing at the ants overtaking the bougainvillea plant.
Hubby: As much as I hate to admit it, I think I'm over the backyard. I'm learning I don't like outside that much...
Pammy: Aww, honey...really?
Hubby: Outdoors is for wild animals. I'm not a wild animal. I'm domesticated, damnit.

I don't know if it was the quip or the fact that I was just given another excuse to hate camping, but I think he nailed it. Awesome.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Apricot Chicken

As we know, I like cheese. And wine. And ladies night. Which is why I try and combine them all as often as I can, even if that only ends up being once a month (if we're lucky). And now, finally, I have the room to host such an event. Because even more than wine and cheese and ladies night...I like hosting.

Problem is, when only four ladies try and eat three kinds of cheese, chips, pitas, hummus and cookies, you tend to have some left over.

I know I have a tendency to overdo it, but it's better than running out, which is a major peeve of mine. Always get enough food!! Anyway, the point is: what do you do with left over apricot Stilton?

Stuff it in a piece of chicken. Obviously.

Topped with apricot balsamic sauce and served with rosemary steamed baby potatoes...not too shabby. If you don't have apricot Stilton just laying around, you could use any strong cheese(blue, goat, etc) for this. Play with the preserve flavor, while you're at it...

Apricot chicken
Serves two

Two chicken breasts
About 1.5-2 oz stilton cheese
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
About 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
A couple tbsp apricot preserves
Squirt honey

Cut pockets in chicken. Stuff with cheese. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Heat olive oil (spray or up to a tbsp oil) on skillet. Brown chicken on high a couple minutes a side. Add a splash of water, cover and reduce to medium. Cook about 10 minutes or til cooked through.

In the meantime, heat balsamic, preserves, honey and a bit of salt and pepper. Bring to boil, then reduce down over low about 5 min, stirring often. If it gets too thick, there may be some chicken broth in the chicken. Throw a splash of that into the sauce, cook down a bit more (super specific, I know).

Pour over chicken. Voilà.

-posted out of laziness from my iPhone.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

I often have purple teeth.

I like wine. I realize this is probably less than a shock, but I really do. Especially when you partake as a social activity...more specifically, wine tasting. Even when they all start blending together and you can't taste the difference between a Pinot Noir and a Zinfandel, it's just fun. Especially with my parents. When we were in San Diego, Temecula (the So Cal wine country) was almost exactly half way between us, so we'd meet, have lunch, and do a little tasting.

My mom gets giggly and camera happy, my dad and I exchange quips, and we all buy more wine than we intended to. It's great.

So when we decided to head to Paso Robles this weekend for the 311 concert and some wining, I realized my parents had never been to the Central Cali wine country and we were due for some family intoxication. So, we invited them along.

And I'm glad we did...we did some damage. It's completely impossible to hit all the wineries, but we can always try. Hit our usuals, including Rio Seco, Pear Valley, and Falcon Nest, and added a couple new stops, like Eberle (where we got a tour of their "cave"), and Ortman (they pulled an AMAZING 2002 Zin out of reserve and let us try it). Yum.

Speaking of yum...we didn't just pick up wine. At Falcon Nest, the vineyard matriarch is a wonderfully feisty lady named Carol who loves wine and to chat with her patrons, and her husband Francesco, an Italian gentleman with (at least) two talents—wine and food. They only make a few wines—all reds (not super strange for the warm region), but to balance it out, they/he also do Italian food. They serve it, they talk about it, and this time, they sold it.

Puttanesca. Mmmm. Especially when you see this short of an ingredient list...yuhuhuhum. With some fresh pasta, fresh french/sourdough, a nice bottle of red (obviously), and a caesar salad...fantastic.

I was a bit put off by the price tag, to be honest (10.95), but I had a free tasting coupon and the wine is good (and the explanations/company from the owners is better), so I felt ok splurging.

So thanks for driving up, Mama and Daddy...we had fun. We'll drink with you anytime. Just in case our lushness wasn't evident...Love you.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Seriously Halfass

Sorry to have been so quiet lately...between spending evenings trying to get KittyH adjusted to her new life of leisure (no more scrounging for food for this spoiled cat) and trying to get some books finished to return to the library, neither cooking nor writing have been high priority.

That's not to say I haven't been cooking. But twists on old faithfuls,

basic grill food,

and food that looks better than it tastes

aren't exactly recipe worthy. Digging through my phone (otherwise known as my lifeline), however, I'm reminded of a couple share-worthy meals. Posts to come. Stay tuned...

Saturday, July 17, 2010


When we moved across town, I was seriously bummed about leaving the neighborhood cantina and being far from Las Salsas. Seriously. These things are important.

So it's a good thing we now have a mini-mart/taco shop a block away. Talk about 2 birds with one stone! Awesome.

And it's not just any taco shop. This, my friends, is Tacos El Gordo.

Pammy: El Taco Gordo...what is that? Fat tacos?
Hubby: Sort of, it's more like fat boy tacos.
Hubby: Pretty much!
Pammy: No wonder we like them.

So far, I've tried the ceviche tostadas, pollo tacos, and campechana. Oh, and half a breakfast burrito ( I pretended it was a corn tortilla), which was intended to be eaten by a pack of wild dogs, I think. (Huge and jam packed with bacon, ham and sausage) After perusing the menu at length this afternoon, I'm also looking forward to trying the taco salad and the nachos (natch). I'm also hoping the hubby gets ambitious and orders the El Gordo Mucho Grande Burrito, aka the Super Fat kid Burrito. Mostly cause the name is so obviously fantastic.

I do love convenience, let me tell you. Mexican food, liquor, gas AND a sno-cone shack all on one glorious corner lot 610 feet from my house? Done. Now if only they'd let me drink my beer IN the store...a fat kid can only wish.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Meet Greta.

Greta, or KittyH, as she will now be known in the blogosphere, has decided that she lives with us. Ok, that's of course not entirely true. I have decided that she lives with us. She, a neighborhood stray, simply decided we would feed her. And so, for now, she lives part time inside and part time on our porch.

Unfortunately/purposefully, she and I both made our decisions without a whole lot of input from the hubby. It's not that he dislike cats. He just dislikes their hair. And their noises. And their poo. I this a man who hates cats?
That's our first cat, Nesta. Nesta now lives with Grandma; Grandma won't give her back. Mean Grandma...(Um, thanks for paying her vet bills, ma.)

But he has to keep his stoic man-front and give me a hard time. I am completely incapable of not being a cat-mom and he knows it, but one of us has to be practical about these things. And we know full-well it ain't me. So he bitches half-heartedly, I bat my eyes and cook him dinner and sweetly promise things we both know I can't control (No, honey, she won't shed inside. You'll never have to feed her. She won't cost us a dime.)

What can I do...I love animals. And he loves me. Thank you for being such a good sport, babe. And now I'll go make you dinner. Can you watch the cat?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Daring x3

Daring Kitchen time!

I gotta say, after last month's pate/bread debacle, I was wondering if this was the group for me. Yes, it was weird. But I like weird food. It's not like I'm used to making boxed mac and cheese for dinner every night. I guess I just like making weird food that sounds good, not weird food that my husband won't eat.

And so I got over it. Told myself to buck up, put the control issues aside, and make something I have no say over a whole once a month.

Or maybe it's just cause this month's theme didn't involve animal innards.

Either way, here we go. Daring Cook for the month of July. (How is it July???)

The required stuff:
The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a recipe. Their sources include Better with Nut Butter by Cooking Light Magazine, Asian Noodles by Nina Simonds, and Food Network online.

Since I may have a love affair with Cooking Light, I went with their option, a deliciously creamy Chicken with Pecan Cream and Mushrooms (If an Asian/typical me option is more your style, the parallel bravely took on Asian Noodle Salad.)

With the exception of my well-known inability to read directions, I followed the recipe exactly, so I won't repost it. I didn't process the nuts quite long enough, I guess, cause they never got past this stage:

Which ended up being ok, cause once I added the water to make the "cream," this was the result:A little bit more texture than I probably should have had, but it worked out. Final review?
Hubby: It's a good sauce. The pecans are sweet...that's good...I dunno, babe, I'm not a food reviewer!
Pammy: you like it? Not like it? Should I make it again?
Hubby: Yeah, I like it. It's good...I like it. I do. It's like dressed up stroganoff.

Agreed. I'd make it again.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The only reason I like Dodger Stadium

Yes, it's a nice field. But the only actual reason to come back? Two words. Dodger. Dogs.

(Heads up. The All You Can Eat Pavilion closes at 7th inning. Well after you've destroyed far more dogs, nachos, popcorn, peanuts, and soda mixed with clandestine bottles of whiskey than any normal person should consume. But still. Some warning would have been nice.)

Friday, July 9, 2010

You know you're a fatkid when...

Not only does my husband have an awesome job with awesome coworkers and an awesome boss, but they also get treated to awesome summers. I mean, half days every Friday and frequent "team-building" activities like ball games and wine-tasting tours? Awesome. So why am I not teeming with jealousy? Cause they get to bring their wives.

Which means I get to be his plus-one at the Dodgers/Cubs game tonight (should be interesting, since I have no feelings one way or another about the Cubs and pretty much despise the Dodgers). I may have (drunkenly) volunteered to be DD tonight for a car full of handsome hot messes, but one giant detail makes up for that:

Our seats are in the All-You-Can-Eat Pavilion. That's right. Cause the only thing that can make up for not drinking beer at a ball game is unlimited Dodger Dogs, nachos, and diet coke.

Gross. Awesome. Ridiculous. And if I'm not mauled by obnoxious Dodger fans for wearing a Yankees hat, I'll no doubt have pics to prove it.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Happy 4th...ish.

This is about as patriotic as we get. Soo...happy independence day weekend, everyone. We had a great three day weekend....hope you all did too.

And Happy Birthday, Daddy.

-posted out of laziness from my iPhone.

Friday, July 2, 2010

And this, my friends, is summer.

Sitting on the patio with a glass of Pinot Gris and my fave guy, when it's warm enough to be in a tank and shorts but not so hot as to be sweating bullets...this works.

Half of our patio is decorated with Chinese lanterns, half will be done tomorrow. Flower pots are set. Add the kiddy pool we're setting up tomorrow, and watch out. Backyard supreme.

...well, maybe not when my husband is shooting a rat on the telephone wire with a sling shot, like he's doing right now.
"Babe, I gotta get an airgun."
Me: blank stare
Hub: I do.

He's now hunting Rat. With a sling shot. I'd ask WTF is going on, but this is seriously hilarious to watch.

Annnyway. Welcome to summer in Bakersfield.

Especially when I grill summer food like this:

Chimichurri Grill
from a Cooking Light recipe
Cilantro, about 2 cups
Flat leaf parsley, about a cup
Sugar, about a tsp
Sriracha, a squirt to your taste
Garlic clove, sliced
5 anchovies (from the tin)
Lime juice, about 3 tbsp
About 1/3 c water
Chicken thighs, skin removed
Jicama, peeled and sliced about 1/2in thick
Bunch of radish, rinsed, tips removed
Bunch green onion, trimmed
Olive oil spray
Salt and pepper

In food processor or blender, combine cilantro through lime juice. (Yes, anchovies are gross. I agree. Just do it. Or use fish sauce. I have no idea how much. 2 tbsp?)

Blend til fine, then slowly add water, while processing, til smooth.

Heat grill. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper, spray veggies with oil.

Spray grill with cooking spray. Cook the veggies over medium, the chicken over high, for about 4-5 min a side or until done.

Sprinkle veggies with sea salt and pepper and drizzle chimichurri sauce on everything before serving. I served with brown rice cooked in veggie broth and grilled corn, which all together is so much fiber our stomachs may hate us tomorrow.

Deliciously seasonal. Especially the jicama, which I understand is a pain in the ass to peel, but is surprisingly delish BBQ'd. So lets just forget about the rat and enjoy dinner, shall we? Damn neighbors and their ivy.

-posted out of laziness from my iPhone.

Why couldn't I just use fish sauce??

I've decided anchovies never look edible. I had to purée them. I don't know which is more disturbing.

-posted out of laziness from my iPhone.