Saturday, December 31, 2011

Blah, blah, I've been MIA, blah.

So, as it turns out, being 8 months pregnant makes me grumpy. And tired. And not particularly in a mood to cook—and even less of a mood to be in front of a computer. Not when I could be eating cookies and watching Bones lying in bed with a book.

And that is why I've been quiet. I do have a couple of good ones I've been meaning to post, though, so let's do this.

I can't believe we're already basically done with the holidays...this time of year always seems to just fly by, especially when traveling is involved. This year we did Hannukah at the in-laws in Sacramento for 3 days, then the following weekend drove to my parents' house and hung out there a couple days, turned around on Christmas day and came home to do Christmas afternoon with just the two of us (for the very last time, which is so weird), then had Christmas dinner at my Father in Law's house. (Have I ever mentioned I owe that man? A single guy who can cook up a storm...he did me a favor passing that skill on to his son, even if I don't let him use it nearly enough.)

At my parent's, however, I was in charge of Christmas Eve dinner. Hubby's mom sent us home with a 5lb prime rib roast, so we took that with us, ignoring the fact that neither of us had ever actually cooked a prime rib before. Turns out, it's pretty damn easy—you coat the whole thing down with a simple rub, and bake it. Remember that prime rib is supposed to be served rare, but you can always put individual slices back into the broiler for a couple minutes if people complain or aren't supposed to eat rare meat due to their current status as human incubators. (Grrr. I'm ready for a real steak, damnit. With a bottle of Zin. A bottle.)

Don't be nervous about the coffee grounds being bitter, either. It all melds really well. Great with roasted tomato salad (we used gorgonzola since the moms doesn't like goat) and smashed potatoes (with gorgonzola instead of cheddar to tie it all together).

You can rub the roast up to a day in advance and refrigerate, but let the meat come to room temperature before you put it in the oven-this should take 1/2 hour to an hour. (Not sure how big a roast you need? Count on roughly 1 lb per person. Bones have weight, too, so you won't actually be eating 16 oz each.)

Earthy Prime Rib
5-7 pound prime rib roast
2 tbsp ground coffee
1 tbsp salt
1/2 tbsp pepper
1/2 tbsp chili powder
Horseradish to serve

Heat oven to 450. Combine coffee and spices in small bowl. Rub all over rib roast, putting extra on the fattiest part of the meat. Arrange meat rib-side down in a greased roasting pan.

Cook at 450 for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and cook an additional 1 to 1.5 hours. (Adjust depending on size of roast-cook 14-16 minutes per pound). Remove from oven, cover with aluminum foil, and let rest for 20-30 minutes.

After it has rested, brush off as much of the rub as you easily can-especially any big clumps. Turn roast on its side and cut off the bone section in one fell swoop. The turn cut side down and slice into 1/2 in slices.

Serve with horseradish.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sam the Cooking Guy

There are a ton of things I loved about living in San friends, the weather, the also gave me my love for Thai food, fish tacos, and cooking in general, seeing that SD was where I first had my own kitchen (and boys to impress, natch.)

There are obviously a million special memories to savor from any big city you live in for any extended period of time. One of my most favoritest things, however, was Sam the Cooking Guy. (Favoritest is totally a word today.)

This is Sam. Back then, he was just a local dude who liked to cook, and someone brilliant decided he was rad enough to put on local television. I. Love. Sam. Hubby and I both absolutely adored his show, and it was one of those quirky things we had in common back in our dating days. His food is generally pretty simple, but it's always packed with flavor, and he honestly looked like he was just having a good time cooking. In his own kitchen-dog running through the shot and all. Sometimes he even burned shit. It was awesome.

Last year I discovered that Discovery Health had picked up his show for a bit, and I was beyond stoked. It wasn't quite as fun as the original, being "real tv," but that happens. Now it looks like you can still catch him on certain local channels, but not here, so I have no idea what it's like these days. Check it out and let me know??

Anyway, I forget about Sam...and then for some reason he'll pop into my head. Last week that happened, and I immediately started craving his Roasted Tomato and Goat Cheese Salad. Hubby swears I had never made it for him before, but that can't be true...but the fact is, I need to make it more often. It's fabulous.

While I was at it, I also tried his Pasta with Artichokes. All I can say is yum.

Add a roasted head of garlic and a loaf of french bread to all of that, and it was quite the garlicy feast. Sam, you never let me down. And am just now realizing I should have asked for one of his cookbooks for Christmas.

Tomato & Goat Cheese Salad
(adjusted to serve 2)
1 package cherry tomatoes (I used yellow ones this time)
1/3 cup goat cheese, crumbled
A few cups of mixed greens or romaine
3 cloves garlic, crushed
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper (I actually used white kampot pepper)

Cut tomatoes in half or fourths, depending on how big they are. In a bowl, combine tomatoes, garlic, a tsp or two of olive oil, salt, pepper, and a splash of balsamic. Cook at 400 for about 25 minutes or until tomatoes are soft and starting to brown.

Arrange greens in bowl, top with tomatoes, and sprinkle on goat cheese. Top with a bit more olive oil and balsamic (less than a tbsp or so, depending on your taste) and finish with more pepper.

Oh, and if you need more of a reason to jump on the Samwagon, there's always this:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Free food and fame? I'm in.

Yesterday the hubby proposed that I become a professional food critic and take us on jaunts around the world, Anthony Bourdain style, ordering plate after plate of whatever looks tasty, all on someone else's dime.

Let me just say that I am all for this idea. However, I pointed out that not only would I first have to become famous, I'd also need a reason for people to respect my opinion about what makes great food...namely, I'd need to be a professional chef first.

Cooking is what it is for me. It's a little bit fun, it's a little bit experimental, it's a little bit relaxing. Some days it works out better than I had hoped. Other days, I sit chewing, wondering what exactly I did to fuck it up.

Cause yeah, I eat it. Even if it's not the best. Usually. How else would I figure out what was missing/went wrong/I like?

Take my spinach and pork lasagna, for example.

We're trying to save money by not eating out at lunch, so I have been deliberately making things that will produce mass leftovers. However, this round was a bit...dry. And needed salt. Had I used more sauce (and salt), though, I think it would have been great. Still totally edible, but not a total winner as is. (I can post the should-be recipe if anyone wants it, just let me know) I've now eaten it 4 times, and there are 2 more servings left, so I'm guessing I'll be working on it all week. Alone, because Hubby has no imagination when it comes to Italian food and can't just pretend it has extra sauce on it and just eat it anyway.

Maybe he's the one that needs to be the professional critic. Or chef, while we're wishing things. Just sayin.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Vietnamese Pork Salad

Ok, I promised easy this week, but I actually made this last week, so no calling me a liar. The recipe was described as pork bun, but this is actually more like the other Thai/Vietnamese salads I make and less...bun-ish. I know only those of you who are familiar with Bun can make any sort of sense of that, but oh, well.

It really is pretty easy, though. Cutting the veggies is the hardest part of this-once that's done and prepped it all comes together really quickly. Oh, and the longer you marinate the pork, the better. Overnight, ideally, but an hour will work in a pinch.

Vietnamese Pork Salad

2/3 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
A little less than 1/3 cup lime juice
4 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp chili paste
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 oz rice sticks
Romaine lettuce
Half an english cucumber, peeled and match-stick cut
About 20 baby carrots, match-stick cut
About a cup of bean sprouts
handful fresh mint, chopped
about 20 basil leaves, chopped
about a tbsp chopped cilantro
1/4 cup dry roasted chopped peanuts
2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp chili paste
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 4oz boneless pork chops

To marinate the pork, combine soy sauce, hoisin, honey, chili paste, garlic and chops in a large zip lock bag or covered bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Bring water to a boil in small sauce pan. Add sugar, and stir till dissolved. Turn off heat and stir in lime, fish sauce, chile paste and garlic.

While that cools, cover rice sticks with boiling water and let sit 10-30 minutes or until they are soft to the bite. Drain and let cool.

Remove pork from marinade and then grill over high heat about 3 minutes a side or until cooked through. Slice into 1/4 inch thick pieces.

On plate, spread desired amount of romaine lettuce. Arrange noodles, veggies and herbs on top, then top with pork slices. Serve 1/4 cup or so of fish sauce mixture alongside each plate to use as dressing.

375 cals/4 servings
500 cals/3 servings

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Some days the grocery store hates me.

I planned ahead and did my shopping for four dinners at once this week, planning to make some gooey spinach and cheese stuffed shells the first night. But then I got home and realized I hadn't bought shells. Or sauce....or cheese. I stomped around for a minute, pouting, until I realized I had three other perfectly good options; Hubby opted for this one, a super easy and filling pasta based soup I dressed up just a bit. I wanted to use refrigerated tortellini, but there was a reduced fat ravioli option, so that won out.

I also intended on making Pepper Garlic Flatbread to go with it, but the dough somehow didn't make it from the grocery conveyor belt to my house. I have a feeling the woman in line behind me now has no idea what she's going to do with refrigerated Pillsbury pizza dough. Some days the grocery store hates me, what can I say.

I didn't get any, but the hubby swears it was also delicious as lunch leftovers. Double score.

Cheese Ravioli Soup
1 package fresh light 4 cheese ravioli or similar (tortellini, etc.)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp butter
4 cups chicken broth or stock
1/4 cup chopped basil, plus extra for garnish
2 roma tomatoes, chopped
Asiago or parmesan to top
Fresh ground pepper to top (optional)

Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and keep warm. In large soup pot, saute garlic in butter about 30 seconds. Add chicken broth and tomato and bring to a boil. Add pasta, then remove from heat and stir in basil. Top with 1 tbsp cheese, pepper and fresh basil.

235/4 servings
313/3 servings
470/2 servings

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I need easy right now.

I'm tired, I'm lazy, and my freakin' belly hurts when I'm on my feet too long. Round Ligament pain. It's awesome.

Plus, I'm gaining weight right now just looking at food. I've been trying to do yoga more regularly, which really does seem to help me sleep better, but it's not exactly burning a ton of calories. I was walking a half hour after work, which felt great, but then we had the shift to winter that seriously happens overnight around here, and I'm a big pansy about working out outside when my nose is cold. (It hurts, ok?) My point is, I'm not burning as many calories as I should be, and while I'm "supposed" to be gaining weight right now, I'm trying not to over do it.

So back to depending on Cooking Light, where I can generally find recipes that are short on ingredients and prep time, and long on possibilities (I never seem to use their "as written" directions.) Oh, and their portion sizes are totally decent, so I've been better about having my one helping and then getting to give the eyeball to the hubby when he goes back for more.

This week we're doing easy. There will be some chopping, of course, but I'll keep it to a minimum, I promise. Oh, and if I haven't recommended the Garlic Zoom before, stick it in your own stocking this year. It's probably my most used kitchen tool, and makes anything with garlic a breeze. No knives, no mess.

First up—Thai Beef Stir-fry, which was delicious. I bought pre-sliced meat and frozen beans, which sped this up quite a bit. Flavors were great-tasted pretty hole-in-the-wall Thai restaurant to me. Didn't take much time, either, just make sure and have everything ready to go as soon as you get the wok (or big fry pan) heated up.

Thai Beef Stir-fry

1/2 tsp salt
8 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp chili paste
about a 1 inch section ginger, minced
1 tbsp lemongrass (from a tube)
zest from one lime (quarter the lime as garnish/to top)
cooking spray
1 lb stir fry beef steak (or flank steak, sliced thinly)
1 package frozen cut green beans
1 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp cider vinegar
About a cup basil leaves, whole
Cooked jasmine or white rice, to serve

In small bowl, combine salt, garlic, chili, ginger, lemongrass and zest. In another small bowl, combine sugar, fish sauce and vinegar, stirring til sugar is dissolved.

In hot wok, coat with cooking spray, then add paste and stir fry quickly, about 30 seconds. Add beef, and continue stir frying another two minutes or so. Add beans and about a tsp water, and cook about 3-4 minutes, moving everything the whole time until beans are hot. Pour in fish sauce mixture, and cook another minute or until meat is cooked (Mine came out medium, so it may take longer if you want it more cooked). Turn off heat and stir in basil leaves until they begin to wilt. Serve over hot rice with lime wedges and sriracha to taste.

Per serving (add another 150 for 3/4 cup rice):
258/4 servings
345/3 servings

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

That's it, no more turkey.

Literally, every piece of tupperware we own is currently in our fridge, and somehow there's still nothing I want to eat. Probably because I need green things at this point, not meat. Or pie. Seriously, I sauteed up brussel sprouts and baby tomatoes and called that dinner last night. (Actually, it was delicious. A little light butter with microwave steamed brussels, halved cherry tomatoes, then topped with a bit of parm, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), salt and pepper. 10 minutes total.)

With two turkeys, two racks of ribs and 10 people, I'm actually surprised we didn't have more meat left over. I'm totally sick of turkey at this point, but I feel bad just trashing it, so I'm trying my best to use it up. But I'm also trying not to cook too much, seeing that my fridge is FULL and cooking is starting to make me tired...I'm apparently a bit of a frenetic cook—I work fast and multi-task, and I just don't have the energy I had 28 weeks ago.

Speaking of 28 weeks, I finally feel like I look pregnant. Or else I just ate way too much pie this weekend. (Shaking fist at my mother for bringing—and leaving—a ginormous, delicious Costco apple pie.) Which makes me scared to see how enormous I am by the time Christmas rolls around. If I don't post any photos, it's because my face has caught up with my ass and I'm refusing to have it documented. Just a heads up.

Anyway, we had some broccoli in the fridge, so I decided to do something easy with it. It's similar to chicken divan, but easier, quicker, and heavier on the broc. Not much prepping here, and even though it looks and seems a little down-homey and rich (just enough to spread out Thanksgiving a little more?) it's really not. I based it off a vegetarian Cooking Light recipe, but got rid of the mayo and threw in some turkey for some extra protein. And because it has to be used somehow.

Broccoli Casserole

12 oz bag of steam-able broccoli (or 3/4 lb loose broccoli florets)
1 cup 1% milk
1 tbsp flour
good pinch each salt and pepper
1/3 cup sharp cheddar
2 tbsp reduced fat cream cheese
2 shallots, chopped
1 can sliced water chestnuts
about a cup shredded cooked turkey or chicken
bread crumbs

Cook broccoli. In saute pan, combine milk, flour, salt and pepper, and whisk over medium heat until thickened. Add cheese and cream cheese, whisking til smooth. Stir in shallot.

In medium casserole dish, layer broccoli, shredded turkey, and water chestnuts. Pour cheese sauce evenly across the top. Sprinkle top evenly with breadcrumbs. Cook at 400 for 20 minutes.

Roughly 850 calories total. (213 for 1/4 casserole)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Are you still full?

So, did everyone have a fantastic turkey day? Hopefully, you're like me, and got to spend it with friends and family, gorging yourself on a completely inappropriate amount of food and sugar over the course of four days. And are now dying for something different, like Vietnamese food and chocolate popsicles.'re not pregnant, and are just fine reheating comfort food for another week. Either way, cheers.

We hosted again this year, but my father-in-law was incredible and did the bulk of the cooking at his house before hauling it over. Which meant all I was responsible for was cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and I threw in a quinoa salad for something different. (Plus I based it off a recipe from a kosher recipe collection, so I figured it was a shout-out to the hubby's mom and step-dad, who we don't get to see until Hanukkah this year.)

I did a little twist on the mashed potatoes, which was using roughly peeled yukon gold potatoes (6 lbs), and once cooked til soft in salted water, I drained them, added 1 cup 1% milk, salt, pepper, and a container of chive flavored cream cheese. And they were fantastic—I didn't miss the butter at all.

But I really loved the quinoa dish. Ill definitely be making it again, and I won't be waiting for a special occasion—it has a great mix of sweet and citrus and grain with some great textures all thrown in together. It was also good the next day over some mixed greens and leftover turkey breast.

Oh, and by the way...remember the episode of Friends where Joey borrows Phoebe's maternity pants to wear for Thanksgiving? Brilliance. These waistband-less dreams are a fat kid's best friend. And I promise I won't bust them out again next year. But I'm definitely going to be wishing I did.

Cranberry Pistachio Quinoa Salad
1 3/4 c uncooked quinoa
olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
2 cups water
1/3 cup white wine
1/2 tsp salt
Juice from one lemon
1/4 tsp fresh pepper
1/2 c dried cranberries
1/2 cup pistachios, chopped
1/4 cup chopped italian parsley
1/4 cup chopped mint

Rinse and drain quinoa. In large sauce pan, heat a bit of olive oil over medium high heat, and add shalllots. Cook about 3 minutes, then stir in water, wine and salt. Bring to a boil.

Add quinoa, and simmer 15-20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let cool.

In small bowl, combine 1 tbsp olive oil, lemon juice and pepper. When quinoa is cool, add olive oil mixture and toss well. Gently stir in cranberries, pistachios, parsley and mint. Chill until ready to eat. Good room temperature or cold.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Mexican rice, chipotle style

Oh, good god, there is still so. much. chipotle. in my fridge. I have been searching for ideas, making up my own recipes, and doing everything I can to not just chuck the leftovers, and still. It's like I haven't even made a dent.

This was an easy one—I figured I'd just try substituting chipotle for chili powder in Mexican rice, and...I have no idea what I was just talking about. I'm flipping channels as I write, and the Duggar family makes me lose my appetite. And now they're invading other countries, which is sure to do wonders for our reputation. These people are so...weird. I mean, the whole treating the vagina like a clown car aside, they're just weird people. And seriously, Michelle. If you would just agree get your hair done by a professional, I'd pay for it. And Jim Bob, just...shhhh. Just shhhh. Stop telling everyone they "drive on the wrong side of the road." It's England. They drive on that side. It's their right side. Just. Shut. Up.

Anyway, rice. This got really spicy really quickly, but a squeeze of lime and a dollop of greek yogurt evened it out and gave it an interesting creamy texture.

Served with sauteed chicken breasts seasoned with salt, garlic powder, lots of fresh white pepper and oregano.

Chipotle Rice
Olive oil
1 small brown onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 chipotle pepper, minced
About 1 tsp cumin
good pinch each salt and pepper
1 cup rice
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup water
1 can diced tomatoes, mostly drained
lime juice (opt.)
Greek yogurt (opt.)

In large saute pan or soup pan, heat a bit of olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, and saute about 3 minutes. Stir in chipotle, cumin, salt and pepper and then add rice, continuing to saute another few minutes.

Add broth, water and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cover. Let cook 15 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit 5 minutes before serving.

Seriously Literate-Fall '11

Ok, I've been reading like crazy, and it got a little away from me. And so here's my latest list...the annotated reviews. As always, taking all suggestions! Whatcha got for me this month?

Belly Laughs, Jenny McCarthy
Thank you for being pregnant, Jenny. And thanks for being you-not afraid to talk about poop, gas, and all the other grossness that comes along with pregnancy that no one else wants to talk about. (Note: I, however, don't do anything disgusting. My pregnancy is magical. Also, I am a liar.) Frank and hilarious.

The Liars Club, Mary Carr
Um, I already read this. And reviewed it. And then read it again accidentally, apparently. Moving on.

Runaway, Alice Munro
Not a fan. If a book or story can give off a "color", these short stories were beige. Maybe a dusty rose. Just really...muted. I don't know how else to explain them—they were sad and melancholy and not exciting at all. I'm sure that was purposeful, but they didn't do anything for me.

Saving Fish from Drowning, Amy Tan
Loved, loved. Such an interesting premise. A woman dies just before a trip abroad (one she has planned to lead), and her ghost tells the story of the strange happenings that occur to her tour group—a group of people who, to the rest of the world, simply vanish into thin air.

Valley of the Dolls, Jacqueline Susann
Kitchy fun. Loved it til the end, then I was just pissed off-I felt like a disappointed parent or something. Fictional or not, these people make some damn bad choices. Tsk, tsk.

The Poet, Michael Connelly
Fantastic crime drama about a serial killer and one of the victims' brothers, a crime journalist who does some massive investigating of his own, eventually entangling him with the FBI investigation. Very interesting, super creepy, good twists, fast paced. Good stuff.

The Forgotten Garden, Kate Morton
Such a pretty little package of a story. It's long, and it jumps from generation to generation with each chapter—which can get a little confusing at first—but by the end, everything makes sense. Every base is covered, every storyline is tied up, every question answered. And for that, I was grateful. It was beautiful.

Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan
My coworker B laughed at me when I told her I like to read about Asian families. Granted, it was an unexpected response. But it's true. And this was no different. It's a classic, as you probably already know, about a young woman learning about her mother posthumously. Really good. If you haven't already read it, you should.

House of Sand and Fog, Andre Dubus, III
Oh, my god, this book is so good. I don't know what I thought it was going to be about, but this was not it. It's quite literally about a house...a house and a huge misunderstanding/mistake, which intertwines three people as they try and fix it in their own ways. It's heartbreaking. Caution: hormonal people will cry.

The Paris Wife, Paula McClain
Focuses on Ernest Hemingway's first wife Hadley, the "older woman" (she's in her late 20s) he marries in his very early 20s. It follows the course of their whirlwind courtship, their marriage, most of which takes place in Europe-including, yes, Paris—and its inevitable demise. Very good.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Chipotle Peach Salsa

Fresh & Easy is still awesome, by the way. It's been awhile since it's been said, so I figured it was owed. Especially since they have expanded their gluten free section and their annoying protesters are generally gone by 4:45pm.

That out of the way, one of my favorite things there is their Smoky Peach Salsa. Seriously awesome. I like it with their lime flavored chips, but someone finds them "too limey" and so I don't buy them. And that is totally irrelevant information. Even though he's wrong. They're perfect.

Aaaand the point: here's a damn good homemade substitute. Even without lime chips. (pouts)

Chipotle Peach Salsa
1 can sliced peaches, drained and rinsed then chopped
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
Small handful chopped cilantro (about 3 tbsp)
1 chipotle pepper, minced
About 1/2 tsp adobo sauce
Juice from one lime
About 1/2 tsp ginger
dash of salt

Combine ingredients, let chill half hour or so to meld flavors. Serve with chips or even over chicken or pork chops.

-posted out of laziness from my iPhone.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

And I don't even like chipotle that much...

To clarify, I'm talking smoked jalapenos. Not the restaurant. The restaurant is always a good idea. Just throwing that out there.

I know I've griped before about the stupidity of oversized chipotle/adobo sauce packaging, but it's happening again. Seriously, who made the inane decision to put a dozen chipotle peppers and sauce in a can when you need, like, a TEASPOON per dish? Bobby Flay's kitchen aside, who uses more than that? (I have a similar beef with tomato paste, but that's a bitch for another day.)

Anyway, hubby wanted to invent a Southwestern burger, which means we're stuck with the vast majority of a large can (it was all we had, and I'm pretty sure all they sell) after this meal. I'm planning a chipotle-centric menu for the next few days—If you have any great suggestions, let me know.

Chipotle Turkey Burgers
Ground turkey
1 tsp garlic powder
1 egg
1/4 onion, grated
Fresh pepper
Chipotle Mayo:
About 1/2 tsp adobo sauce
2 tbsp light mayo
big pinch garlic powder
Chipotle Ketchup:
About 1/2 tsp adobo sauce
3 tbsp ketchup
pinch garlic powder
big pinch cumin powder
Burger Toppings:
whole canned green chiles, split open flat
sliced pepper jack cheese
sliced onion

In large bowl, combine burger ingredients well (use your hands). Mold into four patties and refrigerate while you prep the sauces.

So, yeah, prep the sauces. Mix them in small bowls. Cover. Chill.

Heat skillet over medium high heat. Coat with cooking spray. Cook patties about 5 minutes. Flip, and add chiles to skillet to heat. When the second side is almost done, add slice of cheese and cover. Now's the time to toast the buns, if you want.

When cheese is melted, smear one side of bun with mayo and one with ketchup, and place cheesy patty on bun. Top with chile, arugula and onion.

Serve with sweet potato fries and more chipotle ketchup.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Musings of the Fat and Sober, Vol. 3

Cross posted at Salt & Nectar today.

I would like to open this edition of preggo bitching with an apology. To every pregnant woman to whom I have ever used the phrase, "Honey, you're not fat, you're pregnant!" I offer my sincere apologies. While I completely meant it when it was said, I now see your point. Because while, yes, I am pregnant, I am also fat(ter). Abdomen gain? Mostly baby. Boob gain? Toss up. But thigh gain? Ass? Arms? Fat. Fat. Faaaat.

And please don't start in with me here about how they are all interconnected. Blah, blah, blah. I'm pregnant and I'm fat. Yes, there is no escaping it, but that doesn't make it untrue. I'm still not big enough to be obvious, so I know people often assume I'm just getting pudgy. You're welcome to ignore me when I bitch that I'm fat. And you are even more welcome to tell me I look great. But only if you mean it.

This is my trick. I wear stripes because it actually makes me look pregnant, even though we all know they do nothing flattering for the figure. Hence why it's best to ignore me when I say I look fat. This is preggo logic, people.

I am so over old wives tales and half-facts. Oh, you've heard I shouldn't get massages? Can't have my hair done? Should get rid of my cats? I have one thing to say: I am the research queen, damnit, so if you've heard this "fact," I guarantee I have also heard it. If I'm doing it anyway, it means I have considered it, debunked it (or determined what about it is unsafe/should be avoided), and moved on. Also, it is none of your effing business, especially when we don't know each other. But thanks for looking out. Really. XO.

Oh, and old wives tales go the other way, too, btw. Cocoa butter, shea, etc. etc. don't help stretch marks. You get them or you don't. It's a medical, genetic-based fact. That's not to say I'm not rubbing it on every morning anyway (I'm dry, ok?), but it's still just a story. Just like me having acne doesn't make it a girl. Even though everyone other than my grocery store checker has decided that it does.

Speaking of, no, we are not finding out the sex. No, I don't care what it is. I really, honestly don't. I promise. And I find it a little disturbing that you think I should be hoping for one over the other. Talk about your kid entering the world with a 50% chance of already disappointing you. They have their whole lives to do that.

I am crazy jealous of my cats. Not only do they just get to lounge around all day, they get to be comfortable while doing it. (Especially Ramona. She's got this on lock.)

See, I am a back sleeper. When that fails, I'm a stomach sleeper. Seeing that I can't do either anymore basically means sleeping is no longer fun. Well, I can lay on my stomach, but if you've ever tried to lie on a soccer ball, you know why this isn't happening. Back sleeping is out per doc's orders. Something about the weight of my engorged uterus and cutting off circulation to myself and the baby...I wasn't really listening; I was busy catching up on sleep with my eyes open. I have more and more in common with my Greta everyday.

Seriously, she sat like this without moving for like 5 minutes. She is amazing. And now I am done with my cats for this edition.

So I'm stuck on my sides. Which I hate. My shoulders fall asleep more easily than I do, and pregnancy hip pain has commenced in full effect, so my body pillow and I (see below) spend a lot of time flipping during the night. And when I'm not super gracefully using my entire body weight to attempt to turn over in one swift action, (side note: SO glad we sprung for the King bed last year. And that he can sleep through anything.) I'm getting up to pee. Every. Two. Hours. My under-eye circles have never looked so good, let me tell you.

In awesome news, however, my knees no longer hurt. I can sit on the toilet without whimpering again! (Yay!) I can do lunges again! (Yay? And also, "again?")

What is with the blood coming out of my nose? I'm not 8, and I don't play soccer. That's who gets nosebleeds, right? I feel like every nosebleed depicted on tv is an 8 year old in cleats. And I never played, which I'm certain is why I never have had one. Anyway, blood streaming out of nose at 6:30am is strange enough. Explaining to my husband that it's perfectly normal is even stranger.

And now, a few words of advice:

Rethink the Brazilian wax. The first few preg-waxes (ew, that's a terrible word) weren't bad—no worse than usual, which I normally handle like a champ. I'd been warned that it would be more painful "during this special time," so I'd left the salon all high and mighty. Hurt?? Ha! Not me! Best pregnancy ever! And then 19 weeks hit, and oh. my. god. I was squealing wincing so much my waxer (of two years) actually giggled at me. And then told me I was crazy, confessing that she never had the guts to do it while she was pregnant. NOW she tells me...

You know that show you love that makes you cry? Stop watching it. Mine happens to be Grey's Anatomy-I'm currently trying to catch up on last season, so I've been watching several at a time on Netflix. Hubby doesn't understand why "that stupid show is even still on," which meant he was more than happy to oblige when I told him to put me on Grey's restriction. (Of course, he came home the next night to find me crying into the couch pillow again.) Seriously, though. The baby needs fluids. Sobbing inconsolably about how Mandy Moore diiiiiiiieeed just means you're tempting dehydration.

Buy the body pillow. And get a cute cover for it, while you're at it. It's going to be your best (and most intimate, it works best all tucked in between your legs) friend for months, so you may as well treat it as such. I haven't caved and sprung for an expensive one yet—I'm thinking the Snoogle—but I feel the time is fast approaching. These hips are seriously hurting.

No joke—it's enormous, and a little like having a threesome every night. (I guess?) I feel like I should name it, or at least buy it breakfast in the morning.

What about you all? Any nighttime pregnancy remedies/pillow brands, etc. you want to throw my way? My sanity thanks you in advance.

Friday, November 4, 2011

More pumpkin. Yay!

I'm going over to my girlfriend's house this evening for a pajama and movie night...normally this group likes to drink, but at least three of us are currently knocked up, so we're going to do the next best thing-snacks.

I volunteered to bring caramel corn, which didn't turn out exactly as planned...but I am now bringing my new specialty, Creme Brûlée Corn.

There is a reason I hate my oven. And this is why. Luckily, I love burnt sugar.

In case the other ladies don't, however, I decided to bring a back up...and all I had in the house on hand was stuff for pumpkin muffins. Made in the toaster oven, thankyouverymuch. And quite delicious. Look at me baking. This is sooo the kid's fault.

Pumpkin Muffins
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup water
2 eggs
1 14oz can organic pumpkin
2 cups flour (I mixed white and wheat)
1 tsp baking powder
A little more than 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp salt
Hershey chocolate rectangles (opt.)

In large bowl, mix sugar, oil, water and pumpkin. In small bowl, mix flour and other dry ingredients and spices.

Add dry ingredients into pumpkin mix, and mix gently until just combined.

Fill lined muffin cups 3/4 full. Insert one chocolate piece in the middle of each muffin, if using. Bake at 400 for 15 minutes.

Makes 18 muffins.

-posted out of laziness from my iPhone.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

African Potato Peanut Stew

It's been under 80 degrees for like 4 days in a row, so I'm going to go ahead and assume it's finally fall around here. (Please? I have a growing stomach to cover, and sweaters help a ton.) We'll see how it goes, but in the meantime, I'm still going to make cool-weather food and try and coax it along.

This stew is fairly simple, really, with a medium amount of prep, so it was good on a week night. The original recipe calls for it to cook for over an hour, but I checked it after 40 minutes and the potatoes were perfectly cooked...I think I may have chopped them smaller than intended, but the bite size pieces make more sense. So just check it along the way...when they're done, you're done. Easy as that.

Hubby commented that lamb would be a good addition, so if you want to meatify this, go ahead and throw some bite sized chunks of lamb or beef in after the garlic and brown for a couple of minutes before continuing. I did use chicken broth instead of veggie broth, but other than that, I thought it was great as a vegetarian dish. Oh, and you can use all peanuts for this (use up to a cup), I just ran out and liked the addition of the almonds.

I love how colorful it is once you get over it and just stir in the topping. Which you should do, by the way.

African Peanut Stew
1 cup 0% greek yogurt
1/4 cup minced chives
splash of olive oil
half a yellow onion, halved and sliced
1 shallot, sliced (optional)
half a large bell pepper, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts, halved
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 tsp salt
1 minced red chile or 1 tsp crushed red pepper
2 lbs peeled, cubed sweet potatoes (I sliced about 1/2 in thick widthwise, then quartered those)
3/4 lb baby red potatoes, halved or quartered, depending on the size
2.5 cups fat-free broth
28oz can diced tomatoes

Combine yogurt and chives, chill.

Heat oil in dutch oven or stock pot over medium high. Add onion, shallot and bell pepper, saute 2-3 minutes. Add garlic, saute until fragrant, less than a minute. Add peanuts, salt and chile. After a couple of minutes (stirring often), add potatoes, broth and tomato.

Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover. After about 35 minutes, test every 10 minutes or so to see if the potatoes are soft. When they are, turn off heat and let sit 5-10 minutes.

Top with a dollop of yogurt mix to serve. (Serves 6, roughly 350 cals per serving)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Trick or Cat Treats

This is photoshopped, btw. I did not put makeup on my cat. But holy crap, I wish I had thought of that earlier.

Our little masked avenger and her wingcat are getting more love than the candy tonight. (And kids are apparently fine with totally looking around into our house, which I'm ignoring for the moment) So far, we've heard:

Is that a halloween kitty? (Yes. Why not.)
Oooh! You have cats? (Again, yes.)
That's a big 'ol cat! (And again...)
How many cats do you have? (Two. You're looking at them both because both want desperately to run out between my legs right now, so please take your kit kat and go, little ladybug.)
Can I pet her?? (After I let her pet Ramona, the 5 year old asked if she could take her trick or treating with her. That was my favorite.)

Happy Halloween!

Olive Oil Cookies

I know, olive oil...cookies? It just sounds so wrong. But one of the Iron Chefs busted out some olive oil cake the other night, and I was intrigued enough to look it up. And all over the internet there are recipes, and there are ravings. Enough to, again, intrigue me.

When I found a New York Times recipe for these cookies, the mix of wine, sugar, rosemary and pepper was just too weird to pass up. Plus, I knew the Pepper Project would love anything that showcased kampot pepper, so I wanted to review it for them. And so, with the visiting Russian as my Sous Chef (who is down for anything involving wine), it was time to bake.

Don't go into these expecting "cookies," and you won't be disappointed. They're more scone-like, actually...sweeter than a biscuit, and not as crumbly or dry. The pepper gave an awesome spiciness every now and then, and the rosemary gives it an earthy, unusual flavor. I like them. The main problem is I don't know when I would make them, since they seem to go best with wine. Maybe as a savory dessert? An afternoon tea alternative? Cause I'm sure you guys are all about the afternoon tea...

Olive Oil Cookies
2.5 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
small pinch of salt
heaping 1/8 tsp fresh ground kampot (or black) pepper
1/2 tsp dried rosemary, chopped
3/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup olive oil (virgin or extra-virgin)
3/4 cup red wine

Heat oven to 375. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, rosemary and sugar. In medium small bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil and wine. Stir the oil mixture into dry ingredients, mixing lightly just until combined.

Spray or grease cooking sheet with olive oil. Drop batter by teaspoon onto sheet. Again, I don't recommend using a toaster oven for cookies, but some of us do what we have to. They really don't spread much, so you can fit quite a few on a tiny sheet.

Bake 12-15 minutes or until they begin to brown. Remove to a rack to cool.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Something fishy.

Fish tacos, to me, are not fried. They're light, they're fresh, and they're simple. And because I'm not really in the mood to write right now, that's all I'm going to say about that.

These turned out great. Super easy, too, especially if you buy pre-shredded cabbage. Use good tortillas, too. I'm super into the Tortilla Factory handmade style tortillas right now. They're nice and thick and don't break when you fold them.

Fish Tacos
2 6oz Mahi Mahi filets (I used defrosted frozen ones and it was fine)
garlic powder
1/3 cup 0% greek yogurt
Juice from half a lime (save lime)
3 tbsp cilantro, chopped
1 green onion, chopped
Shredded cabbage
8 Corn tortillas

Combine yogurt, lime, green onion, and 1 tbsp cilantro. Add a good pinch of cumin, mix well.

Rub fish with the lime half, and sprinkle well with cumin, salt, pepper, and garlic salt. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes or until cooked through and flakes easily with a fork. Flake into large chunks.

Warm tortillas, and fill with cabbage, fish, and yogurt sauce. Top with remaining cilantro and Tapatio or other hot sauce, if you want.

Serves 4. Good with refried black beans (spiced with a bit of hot sauce before heating).

Monday, October 24, 2011

Man-made meatballs

Meatballs should taste like meat. Or so says Esquire magazine, anyway. And that said, their Eat Like a Man recipe this month does not disappoint. Hubby was reading the latest issue in bed the other night, and it was all he could do to not get up and start cooking right that second. (Which I would have been ok with. Spaghetti and meatballs are always welcome right now.)

The two days we ended up waiting were well worth it, however. It was absolutely fantastic—totally restaurant quality, totally time consuming, and totally appreciated. All I had to do was run to the store for him, eat and do some dishes (and not even that many! He cleaned as he went! He's learning!!). Well, and not think about how many calories are in these suckers. Bacon and olive oil are kind of in excess here...

There were some changes, of course...veal is not allowed in our house (yep, I pull that card), so that went out the window. We also wanted to use pancetta, but it was $6 per 3oz, and bacon was $6 for 16oz. So, yeah. Oh, and we did half in the toaster oven and half on the stovetop...the stovetop set ended up having a thicker sauce, but that seemed to be the only real difference.

So here you go. The man's awesome, total fat-kid, meat-heavy meatballs and sauce. It makes a ton. Make it on a night you have a handful of hungry dudes to feed.

Basic Tomato Sauce (also from Esquire)
4 28oz cans good quality whole tomatoes
6-8 garlic cloves, crushed
olive oil
a few basil leaves

Pour tomatoes and their juice in a huge bowl and squish/crush tomatoes by hand (or use a potato masher, if that's more your bag)

Heat about a half cup olive oil in large-enough sauce pan, and add garlic. Let cook until they sizzle but don't brown, a couple of minutes. Add about a third of the tomatoes at a time, letting them come to a simmer before adding more.

Lower heat, tear some basil leaves (4 or 5 big ones), and throw them in. Cook at a low simmer for about 45 minutes.

1 lb ground beef (85 percent lean/15 percent fat)
1 lb ground pork (as lean as you can get)
About 2/3 a package of thick-sliced smoky bacon, finely minced
2 whole eggs
1/3 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion
8 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried rosemary

Combine above ingredients and mix well with your hands. Just do it.

1/3 cup bread crumbs (we used seasoned)
1/4 cup 1% milk
1 heaping tsp coarse sea salt
1.5 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Slowly add milk to bread crumbs, stirring until the mixture has the consistency of wet sand. Add S&P, and add to the meat mixture, mixing well. It'll be super sticky at this point-it's ok. Refrigerate the meat mixture for about 30 minutes.

canola oil for browning
your tomato sauce (above), kept warm over low heat
finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Shape meatballs into roughly 2 inch balls, shaping with your hands. In a large skillet, heat about a quarter-inch canola oil until very hot. Working in batches, brown all sides of each meatball ( a couple minutes a 'side').

As they finish, transfer browned meatballs to a deep, ovenproof dish. Cover meatballs with tomato sauce. (Totally submerged, if possible) Bake until done, an hour or more. They should feel firm to the touch.

If you're going the stove top route, place browned meatballs in large skillet or dutch oven—two if necessary, you don't want to overcrowd them—and cover with the sauce. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat, and cook, partially covered, about an hour.

Serve alone or over a bit of pasta.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The crust is the worst part of the pie.

That's my opinion, anyway. It's so...crusty. And burned, half the time. And full of calories, which generally means it's just a waste of my time.

Word on the street is that I'm hosting Thanksgiving again this year, so I was digging around online for recipes and got sidetracked thinking about pumpkin. From there, my brain turned to pie, which made me think of how much I dislike crust, and ta-da...the search for crustless pie was on. This was a mix of a couple of them, plus some ideas of my own.

I'd call this more custard-like, actually-its nice and thick, but it's not as sweet as you may expect. If you prefer a sweet version, maybe use pumpkin pie puree, or use white sugar. Or serve with ice cream. Being less sweet has a bonus, however—it's low-cal. 1/8 of a pie is less than 170 cals.

Oh, and before you give me too much credit for "baking" again, this hardly all got mixed at once in one bowl, and I cooked it in the toaster oven.

As for reviews, my guinea pigs were my coworkers...B and I both thought it could have used a bit more sugar (though the low-fat whip helped), but Bossman raved...I thought maybe he was just being overly nice, but as I was heading out for the day, he asked me to leave it there so he could have more. I figured it was probably too much pumpkin for hubby (who hasn't tried it yet) anyway, so I told him to have at it.

Crustless Pumpkin Pie
15oz pumpkin puree
12oz can of 2% evaporated milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup quick oats (like Quaker)
2 tbsp brown sugar

In large bowl, combine pumpkin, eggs and evaporated milk. Add in 1/2 cup sugar, flour, spices, vanilla, salt, and baking powder. Mix well. In small bowl, mix together oats and brown sugar.

Pour into a greased pie pan. Sprinkle with oat mix. Bake at 350 for 55 minutes. Check half way through-if it's getting too brown, cover lightly with aluminum foil for the remainder of the time.

Cool completely before serving.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Somebody order me a pizza.

Eternal hunger
+Home alone
+A fridge full of randomness
=Dinners like this

Random, but tasty. It was even in courses, which is multi-purposeful in my mind. I can make dinner last for an hour, and I get to eat more. Win-win.

Appetizer? Check.

Frozen veggie spring rolls with sweet chili sauce mixed with a bit of Sriracha.


Apple Blue Cheese Salad. In other words, romaine with leftover chicken salad sandwich mix (sans chicken)—diced apple, celery and onion—and light blue cheese crumbles with balsamic vinegar. Chives on top.

And then there was risotto.

Mmm. You know I love risotto. This one was easy:

Saute two chopped shallots in a bit of olive oil over medium heat for a few minutes, then add a cup of arborio rice. Saute another minute or two, stirring constantly. Add a cup of white wine, and let cook down, stirring often, until wine is absorbed. Stir in a pinch each (1/8 tsp or so) of tarragon, dill and fresh pepper.

Add 1/2 cup chicken broth and let cook down, stirring often. When liquid is absorbed, repeat with another 1/2 cup of broth. Repeat twice, using a total of two cups. Taste the rice, it should be just a bit chewy but soft. If rice is still hard, add another 1/4 cup or so and cook down. When done, serve with a sprinkle of parm.

Oh, and of course there was dessert.

Dry Cinnamon Toast Crunch totally counts as dessert. Don't judge.