Friday, December 12, 2008

Cooooookieeeeeee, omnomnomnomnom!

O noez! I just realized that I need to get started on baking Xmas cookies if I want to mail them in time!

As soon as I'm done getting spanked by Monday's American Foreign Policy exam, it's time to start baking! Oh, and shopping for cute little cookie tins!

Although I wonder if I shouldn't sit on the coookie package posts until after Xmas, just in case the relatives who will be getting yummy goodies are reading this....

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Uh-oh, leftovers!

It wouldn't be a holiday dinner if The Mr. and I didn't come home with an armload of leftovers.

This Thanksgiving haul: One spiced pumpkin pie, one plastic takeaway container of green bean casserole and one ham.

No, I don't mean one takeaway container of ham. We have one whole honey roasted ham. I believe it came from the HoneyBakedHam Company.

What the [stuff] am I gonna do with all that ham?! They told me it would freeze well, but why don't you try freezing half a ham with the bone still in it! All right, then, Option B: Eat it all before it spoils.

So, dinner last night was ham and cheddar sandwiches on whole wheat baguette (courtesy of my sister, who works at Panera and gets a massive discount). My pre-workout breakfast this morning was a ham and cheddar omelet with two eggs and one egg white.

I wanted to make ham bowls--put slices in the bottom of a muffin tin and fill the cup--but the bone gets in the way of pulling off a decently sized slice.

I'm thinking dinner tonight will be baked mac 'n cheese with ham, peppers and onions.

'Scuze me, I need to go Google, "What do I do with all this ham?!"

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Turbaconducken

We've all heard of Turducken.

Well, now there's Turbaconducken.

This is easily the most disgusting thing I have ever seen on the Internet. And I've seen a lot of disgusting things on the Internet.

Really. How could anybody eat this?

I admit that I'm a reluctant carnivore and I will only eat good meat, but this is--wow. I can't imagine eating this!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Chili Beer Burritos

I made beer burritos with chili beer last night.

Ew.

I knew they were going to taste different when I used frozen corn and fresh tomatoes instead of canned, to cut back on the sodium.

What I didn't expect was no flavor at all from the beer.

I usually make beer burritos with Corona, and it comes out just fine. The chili beer didn't leave behind any beer flavor or extra spice. I was expecting at least some heat, considering how burny the beer is when I drink it from the bottle.

Nope. Nothing. Disappointing, because when I make it with Corona, I get comments on how nice the beer flavor is. Oh well.

The next order of business? Satisfy my curiosity about what the chili itself--a regular ol' serrano pepper--tastes like. I shook it out of the bottle and lopped off a piece to taste. I immediately wished I hadn't. Maybe all of the spice had leached out into the beer? I don't know how those things work.

The short attention span version: Chili beer doesn't give food flavor. Eating chilis that have been soaked in beer is a bad idea. Do Not Try This At Home Or At All.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Pasta, as promised


Well, I said I'd post about the pasta, so here it is!

The sauce is intense. I mean, it is HOT. It will make you breathe fire.
But, man, is it worth it.

I tossed it with gnocchi first, which...whatever, it was Target gnocchi. Nothing special there. The Mr. enjoyed it, but I thought it was too blah. I don't think it's even worth discussing.

The fettuccine, on the other hand.... yum! I'm not sure where I got it, but I have a vague memory of my mom giving it to me. It was Al Dente Lemon & Chive Fettuccine. The lemon chive flavor was annihilated by the fiery sauce, so next time I'll make up a garlic butter sauce.

Aside from being superheated, the fettuccine was deliciously sweet and hot. Unlike a lot of pasta I've eaten, which exists mainly to hold up the sauce, I could taste the noodle. Like I said, I couldn't really taste any lemon chive, but there was a distinct noodle flavor. The sauce has just enough oil in it. It does a great job of de-stickifying the noodles, but I didn't get that feeling like I'd just chugged a bottle of olive oil.

This goes on my Must Have Again list. I'm starting to think that it might be worth getting in my car and driving 20 minutes each way.

Tonight, I'm making burritos with chili beer!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Beer is good! ...and stuff. Let's go drink some BEER!


They say beer will make me dumb. It are go good with pizza.


So, I've discovered that beer really IS good (and stuff). I'm very lucky to live less than five minutes' walk to the Total Wine, where they have a nice selection of single bottles. Making mix-packs is more fun than it probably should be (oh! I found a Monty Python Holy Grail Ale! I don't know if I'll like it, but I don't care because it's Monty Python beer).

I also like spicy things, so when I found a chili beer, I snatched it right up!

....It's like drinking liquid hot pepper.

Which is great, if that's what you're in the mood for, but since I generally like to eat spicy foods with my beer... meh.

It's also great for when you're not in the mood to taste beer, because this doesn't taste like beer at all.

But, somehow, I still find it somewhat enjoyable. I also have this urge to get the peppers out of the bottle and cook with them. Or, you know, maybe I'll just cook with the beer itself--I do have a burrito recipe that uses half a bottle of Corona.

...Hmm. I have burritos on the dinner plan for this Wednesday night!

(And more soon about that hot pepper garlic pasta sauce! It was wonderful with gnocchi and I'm sure it will also be wonderful with the lemon chive fettucine that I just found in the kitchen!)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The kitchen is for more than microwaves and beer, guys.

Wow, it's too bad that I didn't learn about National Men Make Dinner Day a week ago. It would've made a great story-in-pictures... unless dinner was a pizza of dubious origin. :)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

So, my mom works at Wegman's now. In addition to being--from what I hear--a great workplace, they have some great food. Yes, even their house brand.

This means that I got a gift bag of delicious goodies for my birthday!

  • Three kinds of cheese
  • Two kinds of bruschetta toasts
  • Two kinds of bruschetta topping
  • Spicy garlic pasta sauce (it's not liquid like you'd expect)
  • Good olive oil
  • Bread, for dipping in the good olive oil
  • Basting sauce (maybe it'll make that fish edible)
  • Thai green curry sauce
  • Organic strawberry jam
  • ....oh, and the rest of the pistachio cake
  • A cloth grocery sack, of course!
So far, I've been into the bruschetta, bread, olive oil and one kind of cheese. Tonight? Spicy pasta with bruschetta! I may also finally open up the cherry wine for dessert, along with white chocolate truffles, but I'm in a team weight loss contest and doing miserably.

But you're taking my carbs when you pry them from my cold, dead hands.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Going out for less: Tapas edition

There are ways to still go out, even now.

Trick #1: Restaurant.com deals. They usually offer $25 gift certificates for $10, but I was able to get a bunch of them for $2 each. Two of them were for tapas restaurants, so The Mr. and I went to the first Friday night.

Trick #2: Tapas. Individual plates tend to run from $7-9.

We had to spend a minimum of $35 on food (alcohol wasn't covered by the coupon, bah!), so we got the 2-person tasting menu (warning, PDF!). We got--no lie--8 plates of food, which we annihilated.

The tortilla was my favorite. I've never had a Spanish tortilla before, and it. was. fantastic. It was more like a savory pastry than an omelet, actually

The Buey al Jerez was my next-favorite and The Mr.'s first favorite. This was grilled, marinated steak in a sherry mushroom sauce. Oh, but what the menu doesn't mention? The potatoes. The wondeful, delicious potatoes that looked like American homefries but tasted so much better.

As for the sangria blanca, well, I'm not saying it was cheap, but what I am saying is--it had peaches!! The Mr. turned up his nose at cinnamon in it, but when the pitcher came, there was no nose-turning-up at all. The cinnamon flavor was very faint and enhanced the fruit flavors instead of overpowering them?

Oh, and those peaches? Yeah, we dug them out of the carafe and ate them like the winos we are.

If awesome had a taste, it would be tapas. Oh, and saving $23 on the bill.

...Wait, you can't taste money.

Well, anyway, tapas = win.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fish are friends, not food!


EPIC FAIL.

I ate salmon in a nice restaurant a few months ago and, surprisingly, I really enjoyed it. I say surprisingly because I've never really liked fish. As I later told my editor, "eating salmon was a really big step for me."

I have since eaten scallop (yum!) and octopus (tastes like chicken!).

See, I love food, as long as it doesn't come out of the water. Only land-faring eats for me, please-and-thank-you! Or so I thought for a long time. I really, really enjoyed that salmon I had over the summer.

I got it into my head that I could make fish, too, after seeing a really tasty-looking recipe in a magazine.

Boy, was I wrong.

It looked delicious. When I get home to my camera I'll add the picture. Really, it looked tasty.

I only ate about a third of my four-ounce fillet. The Mr. made it through half of his.

We gave the leftovers to the cat. Even the cat wouldn't eat it.

In case you're interested, it's pretty easy to make: just season the salmon with salt and black pepper, then cook in a skillet for 1 minute each side, then add 1/3 cup of balsamic vinegar mixed with 1 tablespoon of honey and simmer until the sauce reduces.

Too bad fish tastes like licking a pet store.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Food! Wonderful, tasty FOOD!

I can EAT again! It's great! Except for rebound congestion from the nasal spray I've been shnorking up, I'm mostly cleared up. Once I've kicked the nose candy Zicam, I'll be all better. The Mr. even got me a ginormous air scrubber to get the kitty allergens out of the air. It's pretty awesome, too--it works so well that I'll probably buy a smaller sized one to put on my nightstand and get rid of the morning stuffiness entirely.

So, between the colds, allergies and rebound congestion, I haven't been able to taste much for the past month or so. I guess the kitty allergens started to pile up. To make matters worse, I've caught every cold that's going around, which I suspect makes the allergies worse, keeps my immune system in the toilet and basically ensures that I never get well. K offered to take the cat in for a while while I get better, but there's just no way. I love the fuzzy little land shark. I secretly think that he just wants a cat but is too afraid to get his own. ;)

Aw, jeez, I started talking about my cat again. The point is, I can pretty much taste food, so I made some spicy lentils!

I have no idea what happened to the pictures, but it was delicious.

Ingredients
  • 1 large red onion, or 2 small onions, chopped
  • 1 lb of lentils
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 2 hot chili peppers, or your favorite hot sauce
  • 2 cans of diced tomatoes
  • chopped cilantro
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • lemon juice
  • bay leaf
Directions
  • Cook the lentils by the package directions, adding a bay leaf to the water.
  • Saute the garlic, peppers and onions in the oil in a VERY LARGE saucepan.
  • Add the lentils and all other ingredients.
  • Eat hot or cold.
Be sure not to overcook the lentils, because they'll get soggy and gross. You might want to try cooking them pilaf-style--I haven't yet because I don't want the extra calories from sauteeing the lentils in oil.

I think tomorrow or Thursday night I'll try making salmon!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Sick, still!

Why so empty?

Well, because I've had colds for the past 6 weeks. Every time I start to feel better, someone infects me with another cold! YOU try eating and enjoying food when everything tastes like chewing on sawdust. :(

Maybe I'll eventually get well... or I'll just drill a couple of holes in my face to relieve the stuffiness.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

From the cooking mags: White Bean and Chicken Chili


This white bean and chicken chili came from the October issue of Bon Apetit (I like to say that I subscribe to so many magazines so that I get something in the mail besides my bills).

It is absolutely delicious. The whole batch has about 1,550 calories and makes enough for four people (or two people's dinners tonight and lunches tomorrow!).

The grilled cheese was a last-minute decision. I was picking up some bread to go with the chili and saw a loaf of Alpine Gruyere bread. So I thought, why not grab a chunk of Gruyere and make some small sandwiches?

So. Good. They were wonderfully gooey but also very crisp because I sliced the bread so thinly.

The chili was incredibly cheap, too. I had everything but the chicken and celery, which, now I have five more stalks of celery in my fridge and no idea what to do with them. Or the bean sprouts, really. Oops.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


If there's a more inconsistent blogger out there, I don't know who it is.

I created this noodle-less Pad Thai the other night, in an attempt to get more protein and cut out empty calories like noodles. (I've had minimal success with weight loss: was down 4 pounds, then gained back 1.5 when the gym locker key ran away from my friend).

Carbs are harder to kick than coffee, mostly due to bread's lack of physical and mental side effects.

Anyway, here's how I did it:

Ingredients
  • 1.5 lbs chicken breast, chopped and cooked
  • 1 tomato, cut into chunks
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1c snow peas
  • 1 bunch green onion
  • 1T olive oil
  • 5T pad thai sauce
  • 1c bean sprouts
Directions
  1. Heat the olive oil. Stir-fry the bell pepper and snow peas until just beginning to soften.
  2. Add the chicken, cook until heated if necessary.
  3. Add bean sprouts, tomato, green onion and pad thai sauce. Cook until hot and covered with sauce.
Side note: I need to learn to can in time to make goodies for Christmas. Where can I buy canning supplies in the Fairfax City area?

Friday, August 29, 2008

Mmm, sandwiches!


Well, now that I have a little more time on my hands, hopefully I can cook and write a little more!

My sister works at Panera and gets an amazing discount. Great news for carb fiends like me, so whenever I'm near her store and she's at work, I try to stop by and grab a little something.

Tuesday, I picked up a loaf of tomato basil bread. It's got cinnamon on the top crust, and I'm not sure how I feel about that. It's just so trendy lately to put cinnamon in everything, and... truth is, I'm not crazy about the cinnamon love. I think it works, but the grilled sandwich I made last night tasted a little too much like French toast at the top.

Still, they were delicious. I'm at work right now, absolutely starving and craving about six more sandwiches.

Ingredients
  • 4 slices of tomato basil bread
  • 1 small tomato, sliced
  • mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 3-4 basil leaves, chopped
  • black pepper
  • 1/2 small onion, sliced
Directions
  1. Oh, for [stuff]'s sake, you know how to make a grilled cheese sandwich.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Wrap!

Ouch! Has it really been two weeks? Man. I feel like I almost never get to do anything because I feel like it anymore.

Well, that's not completely true. I did get to go hang out with The Mr. and his friend a couple weekends ago. 'Course, he lives way out in BFE, so we had to go down to Fredericksburg to get food (and it wasn't even good food, it was Tex-Mex with extra Tex).

I'm also on another eat-less-food kick, which sucks because I really like food. I like food a lot. But I've refused to get married if I weigh more than 120 pounds on my wedding day, so I have a year to lose mumbly-mumble pounds. And since I'm one of those women that just can't eat much, I'm constantly hungry (and, as a result, bitchy).

My dinner of choice for the past two nights? A very simple wrap:

Ingredients:
  • 1 tomato-basil tortilla
  • 2 tablespoons of hummus (I used sun-dried tomato and basil)
  • 2 romaine leaves
  • 2-3 tomato slices
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
  1. Spread the hummus in the center of the tortilla.
  2. Add the romaine leaves, then the tomato slices.
  3. Grind some pepper over the tomato.
  4. Wrap! Eat!
This has about 205 calories. :)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hmmm, chicken




So, I made some chicken last night--a nice and healthy recipe that I got from Clean Eating Magazine (no, I'm not part of a movement, I just like some nutritious low-cal goodness).

Unfortunately, the recipe doesn't seem to be posted on their Web site and I probably shouldn't post it here. I guess I could lend the magazine or a copy of the recipe to friends or family but... I really don't want to get sued. So I'll list the ingredients, because that's not copyrightable!

The rice on the bottom is just a pilaf with onions, dried basil and cumin. It calls for brown rice but I substituted not quite 1 cup of red rice and topped it off with a bit of white rice.

The chicken sauce is a mixture of a single-serve package of plain non-fat yogurt, garlic, lime juice and chili powder.

We thought it was entirely too bland. As The Mr. said, "If I'd ordered this in a restaurant, I'd think it was pretty good. But since it was you, I'm disappointed." I don't know about that, though... it was just plain mediocre.

The post-dinner critique, which I wrote on a sticky note and attached to the recipe, is full of notes:
  • Bland
  • Add cumin, pepper to chicken
  • Chicken needs more spice!
  • More spices in rice
  • Use red rice, v. good
  • Add lentils to pilaf?
  • More heat in chicken
Tonight, I had a bit of carnivore guilt over buying Purdue brand chicken, so we dug out the veggie burgers that were hanging out in the back of the freezer. It was great! More about that soon!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Candied pecans!

I am the Drunken Master of the kitchen!

Yep, I got the wine munchies pretty bad, and I wanted something sweet to snack on. So, I dug through my kitchen and found the fixings to cobble together candied pecans!

Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of water
  • Splash of vanilla extract
  • Small sprinkling of cinnamon
  • Couple handfuls of pecans
Directions
  1. Mix the sugar, water, vanilla and cinnamon.
  2. Toss the nuts with the liquid, in separate batches if necessary.
  3. Spread on a banking sheet. Sift powdered sugar over the nuts.
  4. Bake for about 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and toss with more powdered sugar. Let cool.
  6. ANNIHILATE that stuff 'cause you've got the munchies!!
I'm sure that tomorrow I'll regret making such a huge mess in the kitchen. Right now, though? Mmmmmm, tasty!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Link time!

I am such a bad blogger. Sorry, you guys. Sad face!

Cake Wrecks
, however, has had me pissing myself with laughter all day. The best ones are the last page.

Enjoy!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Salsa Verde




I'm not dead yet!

The last real thing I made was salsa verde. I made it late Wednesday night to take to a party on Thursday, and despite being a little too spicy, it was very well received. This recipe makes a whole lot of salsa, but it's easy enough to halve if you don't want so much.

Ingredients
  • 14 tomatillos
  • 8 jalapenos
  • 1 onion
  • freshly ground salt
  • a tiny bit of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup cilantro (rip the leaves from the bunch and lightly pack it into the measure)
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1/4 cup water
Directions
  1. Remove the husks from the tomatillos and wash off the sticky residue.
  2. Slice the onion into thick rings. Do not separate the concentric rings.
  3. Remove the stems from the jalapenos (you can wiggle off the whole part around the stem). Go ahead and wash those, too, because you just never know.
  4. Heat a skillet over high heat. Cook the tomatillos on both the top and bottom sides until blackened and blistered.
  5. Blacken the jalapenos on as many sides as possible.
  6. Cook the onions until dark brown on both sides.
  7. Let the jalapenos, onions, and tomatillos cool slightly, then put them in the food processor along with the other ingredients
  8. Put the salsa into an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Yes, I know, I haven't blogged in a long time.

Mostly because I was a dummy and messed up the camera settings, so my pictures of delicious homemade salsa verde weren't in a usable file format. :(

Never fear, I'm going to make another batch reallllly soon to use as enchilada sauce. :D

Sunday, June 22, 2008

I am SUCH a wino!

I guess the sign of a good night is a headache in the morning, or something like that.

So, yesterday was a visiting family day, which means authentic Mexican when we visit my family and oodles of wine when we visit his.

I love wine. Love, love, love it. The smell, the taste, the way the glass feels in my hand, the bottle art, that nice relaxed feeling that I get after a glass... I love everything about wine. I love it so much that I wish I could drink it all night and not get drunk.

(I've only ever accomplished that once, at Christmas: when we got to dinner at The Mr.'s grandma's house, I was still full from brunch at my mom's. I put away 7 glasses of champagne and stayed stone cold sober.)

Ah, but not last night. I had a glass of Green Apple Riesling in my hand before I'd even sat down -- and I really want to track it down and buy a whole case. It. Was. So. Sweet.

So, next we got into the Cabernet Franc, which doesn't seem to be available on the winery's site. I'm kind of disappointed, because I thought I couldn't stand red wine but I really enjoyed this one! It tasted a little bit like a barbecue, actually -- kind of a mesquite flavor, almost.

Oh, but then we had Pinot Noir from dog-knows-where-I-didn't-look with dinner -- another wine that I thought I didn't like. I guess the last one I had just wasn't very good? Beats me, but this one was delicious, and by the time we were finished with dinner, I was really wishing that I weren't so small.

But wait, there's more! Then we had a glass of Moscato D'Asti with the cake and ice cream! Aside from being super-sweet and sparkly, it's the same wine we had the night we got engaged (aww!). I could go for a case of that, too, especially since it has such a low alcohol content.

Ooh, and MY SENSEO IS WAITING FOR ME AT THE POST OFFICE!! Yay!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Senseo Watch!

It's in Chantilly!!

It'll probably come to the post office today! Then the post office will deliver it while The Mr. and I are at work, and we'll come home and find a note card that says O HAI WE BRINGED U A BOX BUT U WAZN'T HEAR! and then I'll pick it up in the morning before we go to visit families!!

Then I'll come home and set it up and make Hard Coffee (and, of course, post the recipe)!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Adventures of the Senseo

MY SENSEO IS IN OHIO!!

:D :D :D

It should make it to VA by the middle of next week... although it's coming by DHL (which someone once joked stands for Delivery by Hurling and Lobbing), so who really knows.

But my Senseo is coming!!!

Monday Night Chicken

Weekday cooking sucks.

Seriously, it's already depressing enough that by the time I get home from work, I have to go to bed in 3 hours. And do you want to put a knife in my hand when I've just been sitting in rush hour traffic? Yeah, didn't think so.

That's what salsa chicken is for!


Ingredients
  • 1 package of dry salsa mix (I found mine in the produce section)
  • 1 16oz jar of pomegranate salsa (I have also used mango and pineapple salsas in the past)
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • Grated parmesan
Directions
  1. Rub the chicken thighs with the dry salsa mix, same as you would with any other grilling rub. If the thighs were frozen, you may want to "unroll" them so that the center is exposed. This will require making a few cuts, but will ensure that the meat cooks through.
  2. Put the chicken in a baking dish.
  3. Pour the salsa over the chicken.
  4. Sprinkle with grated parmesan.
  5. Cook at 375 degrees for 40 minutes.
But then you need a side!



Ingredients
  • 1 cup Thai red rice (a.k.a. cargo rice)
  • 4 cups broth (chicken, vegetable, beef... doesn't really matter)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper
  • Large sprinkling of garlic powder (maybe 1/8 tsp)
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • Large sprinkling of basil flakes (1/8 tsp? Ish?)
Directions
  1. Heat the broth and olive oil to boiling.
  2. Add the rice and seasonings.
  3. Cook for 40 minutes, adding the onion when half the liquid is absorbed.
  4. Cargo rice is very thirsty. Keep an eye on it, and if the liquid is absorbed while the rice is still inedibly chewy, add more broth.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Free Senseo coffee maker! And, why coffee sellers should sell coffee by the ounce.

Someone over at PaperBackSwap linked to a site where you can get a Senseo coffee maker for $15 shipping!

Allow me to repeat that:

YOU CAN GET SOMETHING FOR NEXT TO NOTHING.

A few people ordered theirs a few months ago and have since received them. I ordered mine last night. It comes with some of the coffee pods, even!

If you don't like the expense of the pods, you can do track down this awesome thing called the Ecopad, which is a refillable, dishwasher safe filter pod for the Senseo. There's also the MyPod, which is like a regular coffee filter and not reusable. You're not locked into buying overpriced pods.

'Course, I'll probably end up giving away most of the pods that come with the machine. I assume that most/all are the full-leaded kind. Bah.

Speaking of which -- why are so few delicious gourmet coffees decaf? At the very least, why can't I buy an ounce or two of regular, instead of a full pound? See, regular coffee gives most of you a pleasant vroom! vroom! feeling.

It gives me the feeling like I've been strapped to the top of a speeding sports car while a mild electrical current runs through my body. Then I get about 60 minutes of intense concentration, followed by about 24 hours of insomnia.

So why is it that I can't have the same range of varietals and flavors that the jacked-up, overworked, and sleepless can?

Or at the very least, why can't I just buy an ounce?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

More salsa!


I made another salsa the other night! It took 15 minutes and was so delicious. I would have gone to the farmers' market and bought more tomatoes for another batch, but after trundling in from a birthday party at 4 a.m.... no. Just, no.

Okay, so, a few tips and notes:
  • Like all salsas, it has to sit overnight. Absolutely has to.
  • The flavor was best after 3 days.
  • It's really, really hot.
Ingredients
  • 8 tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 large onion, cut into chunks
  • 4 garlic cloves, whole
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 5 chipotles in adobo sauce, whole
  • 2 tablespoons of the adobo sauce
  • Small handful of cilantro (about 1/4 cup)
Directions
  1. Process everything in the food processor until smooth.
  2. Pour into a container (I use Gladware) and let sit for at least 24 hours.
  3. Nom nom nom!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Lunchtime!


Well, it's not lunchtime right now. I just finished dinner, actually. But I did throw together a black bean salad to take to work tomorrow. When your only viable option three days a week is Subway, packing lunch sounds really good after three weeks.

It's a great summer lunch or side dish, and it takes all of five minutes. It's also really cheap and easy to make for a barbecue.

Ingredients
  • 1 can of black beans, rinsed
  • 1/3 cup frozen corn, rinsed under cold water until thawed
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • freshly ground salt
  • juice of 1 lime, minus a little bit (just cut it into quarters, juice 3, and put the last quarter in a Corona or something...)
  • 2T smooth salsa or a 1t hot sauce (to taste)
Directions
  1. Toss everything together in a bowl.
  2. Let sit overnight.
  3. Take to work and eat instead of junk food.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Veggie tacos! Because when it comes to meat, I have prohibitively expensive taste.


I'm what you might call a reluctant omnivore.

Growing up, I didn't get any meat aside from hot dogs and stuff -- my family couldn't afford it. When I did get meat, it was usually something like a pot roast, which, ew. Meat flavored chewing gum, much?

So, meat politics aside, I never got into the whole carnivore thing. As I got older, people would sometimes notice my meat aversion and ask me, "Are you vegetarian?" To which I responded, "I'm not really a vegetarian, I just don't like to eat meat." To which they responded, "That's what vegetarian means, dummy!" Well, not really, I tend to think that vegetarianism usually entails meat politics, which... meh, whatever.

And then, eventually, I discovered a simple formula: meat + any alcohol whatsoever = vomit. Further, meat = body feeling funny. Then I read about what goes into meat. So I decided to stop eating meat. And I got looked at funny for that, too.

Whatever, I can't win.

The point is, I'll eat good meat. I will happily eat good meat. I will go all OM NOM NOM NOM on its ass. I'm flexible. But you gotta understand, I mean really good meat. We're talking grass fed, free-range, organic meat. You know, that stuff that's prohibitively expensive for most people, including me.

Holy crap, I just spent how long writing a defense of my dislike for meat?

Long story short, when it comes to meat, I have expensive taste.

So last night, I took a couple of veggie burgers and cooked them up much as one would cook ground beef, and used them for tacos. It was actually really tasty. You just kind of heat it a little, then chop it up with your spatula and cook the crumbles.


It's not going to fool my "vegetables are the stuff that food eats!" friends
, but it sure was tasty.

The best part? The taco sauce I whipped up!


Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 chipotles in adobo sauce, chopped
  • about 1 teaspoon of the adobo sauce
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • juice of 1 lime
  • pinch of garlic powder
  • pinch of onion powder
Directions
  1. Using a fork, stir all the ingredients together.
  2. Adjust adobo sauce, garlic powder, and onion powder to taste.
  3. Does this really need to be a list? It's super easy!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

So, what did we learn?

It's been a long... while. I'm working a ton and more broke than ever. And the night before last was not restful, what with nature rousting me out of bed every 2 hours and the adjacent building catching fire at about 4 a.m. (I was too exhausted to get up and be nosy, but from my shameless sidewalk-level gawking the next day, it appears that the furnace caught fire. Why do I feel like I live in a dump?)

So, what did we learn?
  1. When you're tired, cooking over gas heat (= BLUE FIRE) may not be the smartest thing.
  2. Just because you've left the shaker tops on all of your other spices doesn't mean that the shaker top is on the crushed chili pepper. Good luck digging 1/4 cup of red pepper flakes out of your zucchini.
  3. You know how you always add olive oil to your pasta water? When oily water boils over, it tries to start a fire. Have fun with that.
  4. Splashing pasta sauce all over the stove is FUN!
  5. Don't grate cheese right over the food. Unless, y'know, you like dropping the grater in the food.
It's late. I'm going to bed.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The last thing I was able to taste properly


At least it was worth tasting. I think I'm going to strangle him if he keeps bringing colds home every two months.

Last night, we came home from work and started laying into that wine. We started with a Trader Joe's brand sauvignon blanc from Chile. Mmmmm! It was just sweet enough, and the Jarlsberg we grabbed on the way home smoothed out the tartness until it was just perfect.

We really wanted to try the dessert wine, but my sinuses started to feel like someone had poured concrete up there and I was really quite tipsy for the rest of the night... so that will have to wait until the cold goes away.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I'm like a freakin' Boy Scout, being this prepared!


It's been a rough week. Not bad, really. Just sort of... long and difficult.

Wanna know how I really knew what a rough week it's been?

When I was standing in the wine aisle at TJ's looking for a bottle of wine, and next thing I know, there are five in my basket.

The sad thing is, I'm not sure when I'm even going to drink them, considering I have to be up early 6 days a week.

The sadder thing is, the first card I used declined, and I still bought them all. I'm not sure if I'm broke or my bank is overreacting again. They seem to think everything I do is fraud.

I wonder if I can get them to decline every shoe purchase? (Shhhh, don't tell The Mr., he thinks I only need 2 pairs.)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

"It's like a chocolate milkshake!"


I finally made a liquid Oreo, a drink a co-worker showed me the recipe for months and months ago. I believe that the original recipe most likely came from Rachael Ray.

This is super-simple: just shake up equal parts coffee liqueur, Irish cream, white creme de cacao, and vodka.

I had to use half a part of vodka for my portion, because I don't like the taste of vodka and I wanted to enjoy more than one without becoming intoxicated. Look, I'm not a lightweight, okay? I'm just a little small, and I don't have a tolerance nowadays. So just -- just -- just back off!! Stop making fun of me! I'll drink water if I want to!!

Ahem.

I made one with the full amount of vodka for The Mr., who looked at me like I'd grown a second head and announced, "It's like a chocolate milkshake!"

Truthfully, I think the problem was that I was using decent vodka, but low-to-mid-end liqueurs. I suspect that this needs the good stuff. Starbucks coffee liqueur. Bailey's. Whatever the good brand of creme de cacao is, because Arrow isn't it.

Next thing, I need to get a blender so I can make real margaritas, not that horrid crap that comes from a mixer bottle. Yum! Now if we only had a balcony where we could sit and sip margaritas...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Ham and pineapple kebabs with tri-pepper couscous


I really wanted to grill these kebabs, but as I mentioned earlier, the "patio" can only be accessed by climbing over a row of bushes, which are really due for a trim. If you don't have a grill, just put the kebobs under the broiler.

Ingredients
  • 1 ham steak, cut into 1" chunks
  • 1 pineapple, cleaned and cut into chunks
  • couscous
  • chicken broth
  • small red, yellow, and orange bell peppers (1 of each), finely diced
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2T unsalted butter
  • freshly ground salt
Directions
  • Load the kebob skewers, alternating ham and pineapple chunks. Broil for 15 minutes, turning as they begin to blacken.
  • Bring the chicken broth, butter, and a little salt to a boil. Don't use too much salt, because the broth has plenty. Turn off the heat, then add the couscous, stir, and cover for five minutes.
  • When the liquid is absorbed, fluff the couscous with a fork. Add the diced bell peppers and the black pepper and combine. (You may wish to add Tabasco sauce; I often add some to cold couscous.)
  • When the kebobs are blackened and caramelized, remove them from the broiler and serve over the couscous.
How to Clean a Pineapple
  • Use a serrated knife. Accept no substitutes!
  • Lay the pineapple on its side. Slice off the bottom.
  • Stand the pineapple on its bottom. Using the stem as a handle, slice off the peel.
  • Use the tip of your knife or a grapefruit knife to dig out the brown "eyes."
  • Lay the pineapple on its side. Slice off the stem.
  • Quarter the pineapple along its long axis.
  • Remove the core.
  • Voila! You have a clean pineapple just waiting to be cut into chunks!
How to Eat a Kebob
  • Use a fork. Unless, of course, you vacuum your floors more often than I do.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Pico de gallo



I'm taking a container of pico de gallo to a party tonight.

Salsa is absolutely my #1 favorite snack/condiment/lunch (yes, lunch: a good pico de gallo tastes great eaten right off a fork and has next to no calories).

Anyway, this particular salsa was very well received the last time I took it to a party, and this batch is even better. Here's how to make your own!

Ingredients
  • 8 Roma tomatos, finely chopped
  • 1 medium-sized white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 4-6 serrano chiles, minced
  • juice of 2 limes
Directions
  • Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Just dig right in with your hands.
  • Cover and refrigerate overnight. The flavors need time to sit and get to know each other, so don't eat it yet!
  • Stir before serving. It's okay to use a spoon this time.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

I'm hungry for real food!

You may have noticed that I haven't been posting this week.

I basically haven't been eating this week. I've been more or less living in the library with a pile of books and an instrumental trance playlist.

The greatest diet tool ever for keeping me from getting too fat during exam time?

CalorieKing!

Mad kudos to the co-worker who showed it to me! It's really useful for things that don't have calorie information on them, like bananas or bell peppers. It even has information for a lot of restaurant foods (which can be a blessing and a curse, as I found out when I looked up the Baja Fresh burrito that The Mr. brought me).

Coming up as soon as I have time: "grilled" pineapple and ham kebobs on top of veggie couscous. Quote marks around the grilled because my apartment is halfway underground and I don't have a place for a grill. So the kebobs are going under the broiler. Seriously? Next apartment? Needs a balcony. Where am I supposed to grill and sip margaritas?

Right now, though, it's back to the grind. Send me real food. Please. The makers of diet food are laboring under the incorrect assumption that all dieters want sweets. Attention diet food makers: stop making wannabe candy bars! I've had so many protein bars that I'll gag if I so much as look at another one!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Experimenting with chocolate-dipped fruit


While some friends and I were chowing down on meat fondue last month, the conversation turned to chocolate fondue, then to Godiva's expensive chocolate-dipped strawberries, then how easy it is to make your own.

"But, but!" I protested. "When I put it on the wax paper to chill, it gets all gloppy and ugly!"

And so one of my friends shared his sister's method for dipping fruit in chocolate, which I tried last night:
  • Find a piece of Styrofoam. You can buy some in the flower arranging section of your local crafting store. I know, I know, it's not politically correct to use Styrofoam anymore. If you can rescue some from work (ever get any shipments of fragile items?) it should help ease your conscience.
  • Spear a piece of fruit -- a strawberry, a banana slice, a cube of Gala apple -- on a bamboo kebob skewer. Run the fruit over cool tap water but do not dry it. Stick the skewers into the Styrofoam and freeze for a few minutes.
  • While the fruit is in time-out, build a makeshift double-boiler out of a saucepan and a glass bowl: Put an inch or two of water in the saucepan and bring it to a light simmer. Nest the glass bowl in the saucepan. It helps if the bowl is slightly larger than the saucepan and/or has a lip.
  • Break a good-quality chocolate bar into pieces and put it in the bowl. Stir the chocolate to help it melt evenly.
  • Get the fruit from the freezer. Dip the fruit into the chocolate and return the skewers to the Styrofoam.
  • Chill the fruit in the fridge until the chocolate has solidified. Be sure to store the fruit in the fridge until it's all gone.
Tips and Tricks:
  • If you're using dark chocolate, keep some milk on hand, because the chocolate will thicken. I used 72% dark chocolate, and it got very thick. If this happens to you, add a tiny bit of milk until the chocolate reaches a consistency somewhere between "drinkable" and "something you'd pour over a sundae."
  • Don't let the water boil! Few things smell and taste worse than burning chocolate!
  • Keep the water out of the chocolate. It turns the whole thing into a sticky, icky mess.
  • Get a mini fondue pot that melts chocolate with a tea light and skip jury-rigging a double boiler!
  • Chop some nuts and sprinkle them on the freshly-dipped fruit.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

And on a more personal note...

We're getting married!!!

He asked me at the Italian deli where we had our first real date. I didn't take any pictures of the food and wine, because I was too busy being, um, teary-eyed.

But I can describe.

Now I understand why people order pasta when they go out to eat. See, I grew up with dried pasta and jarred sauce, sometimes with the green can of shelf-stable Parm. Pasta, especially in tomato sauce, has always been poor food to me.

Oh, glorious simple carbs! The hand-made cavatelli were tender and full of flavor -- not at all like the bland boxed pastas of my childhood, the ones that had to be doused in tomato sauce to be edible. Not. At. All. I would gladly have eaten them with a simple garlic butter. But no! They came with a deliciously fresh meat sauce that made a mockery of the sauces I grew up with.

The wine was a Moscato D'Asti whose name I can't remember. We loved it so much that we took another bottle home with us. I'll rave about it when we drink it, because memory just won't do it justice.

I really think that it's impossible to plug that restaurant too much. It's so terrific that I'm almost afraid to try cooking Italian food at home!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Quesadillas reloaded


Sometimes I find a recipe that looks like it would have potential if it weren't only halfway finished, like this one for veggie quesadillas.

I mean, for one thing, it refers to onions in the directions but not in the ingredients.

For another, it looks bland and not too healthy.

My fixes:
  • Added a small red onion, halved end-to-end and sliced along the short side.
  • Used olive oil instead of vegetable oil for the flavor and health benefits (in moderation, olive oil is good for your heart!).
  • Browned the quesadillas without oil to avoid needless fat.
  • Added the juice of 1 lime for extra-tangy flavor.
  • Added 1 clove of garlic halfway through cooking the peppers and onions -- and I'm not ashamed to admit that I cheated and used minced garlic from a jar to save time.
  • Used chili-flavored tortillas.
  • Substituted low-fat Mexican 4-cheese blend.
  • Used fresh deli salsa.

Next time:
  • Add some chopped cilantro, because I put it in everything.
  • Serve with low-fat sour cream for dipping.
  • Try a mango or habanero salsa.

And the result? A deliciously tangy, slightly spicy, absolutely incredible quesadilla.

Just ignore what the recipe says about taking 50 minutes from start to finish. They probably took my advice from the last post about drinking wine while cooking. I did this in half an hour.

(Pssst. Voga pinot grigio? PLEH! I've had $3 wines that taste better. This stuff was harsh and too tangy with an alcohol bite that I can only describe as excessive. We didn't even finish it. Standard disclaimers about preferring sweet beverages apply.)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Recipes from a time warp!


Does anyone really believe those cookbooks and TV shows that claim you can have dinner ready in 30 minutes, or 15 minutes, or before you even start cooking it?

How about reality-TV-ifying cooking shows? Let's see one where the sink is full, the chopping boards are dirty and the dishwasher didn't get everything clean. TV chefs' counters are never littered with beer bottle caps, crumbs, and suspiciously sticky empty glasses.

Oh, and let's see a kitchen that's actually smaller than my whole apartment.

So what's there to do when you don't have kitchen help?

  • Recruit kitchen help. Okay, so I haven't done this much, mainly because I'm a terrible teacher and The Mr. doesn't really cook. We would probably end up making a hilarious UR DOIN IT WRONG picture. But I save a lot of time and burns by calling for help when it's time to drain pasta.
  • Measure everything out before you start. I have a couple of tiny little dishes that a friend said are sushi dipping bowls or something. It helps to measure the spices out into little bowls first so that you don't have to hunt for spices and spoons at the risk of burning your food. Chop the veggies, open the cans, crack the eggs, measure the liquids. It probably doesn't save much time, but it can really save your sanity.
  • Buy ingredients the day before. I don't plan for a whole week, because it doesn't work. Someone works late, gets invited out to dinner, brings something home, the kitchen is messy, someone gets a craving for a specific restaurant's dish... Stuff happens. Food goes bad. Just plan for only two or three days in advance.
  • Frozen veggies aren't always bad. In fact, I'm going to use some in a couple of hours when I go home to make quesadillas. Mmm!
  • Some steps can be done ahead of time. Even if the recipe doesn't specifically suggest doing some of the prep work a day or two ahead, give it a thought. This takes a little bit of a sense of what will get yucky and what won't, but once you have that, it can save a lot of time.
  • And if all else fails: Wine. Dinner will still take the same amount of time. It may take longer. But you won't care anymore. Of course, you probably won't taste the food very well, and there's a better-than-average chance of lopping off a finger or burning the whole place down, but life is full of trade-offs, no? (I kid, I kid!)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Feel that burn!


Well, I had too much week left at the end of the money Thursday night and had to make dinner out of whatever was hanging around in the kitchen.

In the toss-up between black bean fajita burritos and Asian noodles made with ramen as a base, the fajitas won.

I didn't measure how much cumin and cayenne I used. Nor did I measure the tears that were running down my face from the heat. I'd guess that I used at least half a teaspoon of cayenne and probably a bit less cumin. If cayenne is too much for you, just add freshly ground black pepper at step 2.

Ingredients
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, cut into strips (go ahead and use the last, sad, shrively one, just chop off the wrinkled parts). If you're really masochistic, use jalapeƱos.
  • 1 small red onion, halved and thickly sliced (is the core turning green? Pull it out of the slices!)
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • cumin
  • cayenne
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 flour tortillas
  • shredded cheese (cheddar, Jack, whatever's in the fridge)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons hopped cilantro
Directions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan. Saute the garlic for 1 minute, then add the onions and peppers. Sprinkle with cumin and cayenne to taste. Saute until soft.
  2. Add the black beans, lime juice, and cilantro. Cook until heated through.
  3. Spoon the mixture onto two flour tortillas. Top with the shredded cheese and fold burrito-style.
  4. Heat a skillet. Place the burritos, folded side down, on the skillet and cook until browned. Repeat with the other side. Remove from heat and slice in half.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Pad Thai is love


After two failed attempts at making Thai food (the pad prik was inedible and the burgers made me sick), I was a little reluctant to try again.

The pad Thai I just made was delicious, which I'm sure is because I didn't bother making my own sauce this time. Instead, I got a package that came with noodles and sauce at Trader Joe's.

This is so easy. Anyone can make pad Thai -- just buy the sauce. Is it cheating? Maybe. But you can make up for that by adding fresh veggies. Just check out the international aisle at the grocery store. Thai Kitchen sells rice noodles and pad Thai sauce. Then get yourself over to the produce department, 'cause most of what you're gonna need is fresh veggies:

Ingredients
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 Thai chiles (if you can't find them, get serrano chiles instead)
  • 3 green onions
  • 1 Roma tomato
  • a handful of snow peas
  • 1/4 cup crushed peanuts (just put unsalted peanuts in a baggie, seal it, and release your aggression)
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • 1/2 cup bean sprouts
  • 4oz chicken, meat, shrimp, or tofu
  • thin rice noodles
  • pad Thai sauce
Directions
  1. Cook the noodles according to package instructions (mine said to boil water, turn off the heat, add the 9-oz package of noodles, and let sit for 3-5 minutes or until soft but firm).
  2. Drain the noodles, rinse with cold water, and set aside.
  3. Heat 1T oil in a skillet and scramble the egg. Set the egg aside for later.
  4. Heat the remaining 2T oil and stir-fry your meat or tofu, chiles, and snow peas for about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the noodles, pad Thai sauce, and bean sprouts. Stir-fry for another 3-5 minutes, until the bean sprouts are cooked and the mixture is heated through.
  6. Turn off the heat. Add the tomato, egg, onion, and peanuts; stir until well combined. Garnish with the lime wedges, (pssst -- encourage everyone to squeeze the limes over the noodles. Yum!).
I'm telling you, you can't mess this up!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Black beans & corn for lunch


I got to come home for lunch today because class was canceled. When I make myself lunch, I often make black beans, because they're filling without being fattening.

So I threw together this delicious mixture of black beans and corn. It makes enough for two people, or you can just put half of it in the fridge, because it really gets better with time. Oh yeah, and it's also ridiculously cheap.

Ingredients
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can of corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1-2 tablespoons of spicy salsa (I used deli salsa because I'm a salsa snob)
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • garlic powder
Directions
  1. Combine beans, corn, cilantro, onions, salsa, and lime juice in a saucepan. Season to taste with the salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
  2. Cook over medium heat until heated through, about 5 minutes.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Quick, easy, healthy snack


I had a bad case of the Mondays last night that only a bottle of wine would cure.

But what about a snack to go with it? It was 9:30 P.M.! It had to be healthy! And quick!

Done and done. Seriously, you don't even have to measure this stuff. It's so ridiculously simple.

Ingredients
  • Roma tomatoes
  • Grated Parmesan (or shredded Parmesan, or mozzarella)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
Directions
  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. If you have a toaster oven, that's even better (and I am very jealous).
  2. Slice the tomatoes. Lay them on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with pepper, salt, cheese, and red pepper flakes.
  3. Bake at the bottom of the oven for 10 minutes.
  4. Serve. Drink wine. Feel better.
(The wine, by the way, was too dry. But then, I like super-sweet drinks.)

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Italian pasta salad



My mom made pasta salad a lot when I lived at home: some pasta, some peppers, onions, and olives, and some Italian dressing. So (along with pancakes for dinner) it's kind of comfort food to me.

But I got to thinking: could I make it healthier by bulking it up with more veggies?

Yes. Yes I can. And now you can, too.

Ingredients
  • 1 lb rigatoni
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 broccoli crown, cut into bite-sized florets
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • about 15 black olives, sliced
  • 1T capers, chopped
  • 1t red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup of your favorite Italian salad dressing
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • grated parmesan for dusting
Directions
  1. Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water.
  2. Cook the broccoli in boiling water 1 minute. Drain and rinse with cold water. Add to the pasta.
  3. Add the pepper, tomatoes, broccoli, onion, olives, capers, pepper flakes, black pepper, and salad dressing. Toss until well mixed, then chill for 30 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle the parmesan onto individual portions just before serving.
Notes
  • Some salami or bacon would be a tasty addition. I meant to add the leftover bacon from the grilled cheese sandwiches, but I forgot. Oops.
  • Maybe try some pickled cherry peppers instead of the crushed red pepper flakes, for heat with extra flavor.
  • I'll probably use zucchini next time.
  • Mushrooms might be good if you're into that kind of thing.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

It's like mac & cheese, only better

Well, I survived the trip, barely -- how his parents restrained themselves from
assassinating me with a rolled-up dollar bill I will never know. (Hey, I like to listen to death metal while I drive! Nothing wrong with that... right? Right? Guys?)

It took me a day or so to have enough energy to do something for dinner besides take-out. And when I did want to cook, I wanted comfort food.

So, I made some baked macaroni and cheese Tuesday night, except it wasn't quite mac and cheese.

I used spinach fettuccine.

I thought it might come out too runny or soggy, but you know what? It was great. I'd do it again. Probably when I have more people over, because the leftovers don't microwave well, but I will definitely make this again.

Oh, also -- if you like things all brown and crispy, use more bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. The amount the recipe calls for isn't enough to make the top all brown and crispy and yummy.

Tomorrow night: pasta salad! I'm going to throw some stuff into a bowl and see what happens!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Drive-by posting!

Okay! Short post here, but I still have barely eaten all week (and haven't lost any weight, either, what's up with that?) and The Mr. and I are on our way out to pick up his mom from KY.

So instead of anything really picture-riffic with awesome commentary... I'm going to take the easy way out and send you to Rachael Ray.

These enchiladas are seriously great. Like any enchiladas, they take a while to make -- but these are so worth it.

So have one for me, 'cause I'm going to spend the next 20 hours eating junk food. o.O;;;;;

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Wasabi peanuts, at long last


Okay, so I haven't really cooked anything this week. For one, I'm dieting, and for two, I don't think I've gotten home before 9 p.m. all week. I know -- excuses, excuses.

That doesn't mean I'm not eating at all, though.

Last December, I had a nasty head cold and looked all over for wasabi covered peanuts, mistakenly thinking they would work as a decongestant.

Sure, it's not true. But they're still fun to eat, and I couldn't find them anywhere.

Until I came home one day to an apartment full of men, sushi, wine and beer. My consolation prize? A tin of wasabi peanuts from the greatest wine and beer store on the East Coast! (And, of course, a bottle of Flying Dog. Yum.)

These delicious green balls of masochism are more wasabi coating than peanut. The whole thing is about the size of a grape, but the nut inside is quite small -- about the size of my little fingernail.

If you like spicy food, these are well worth trying. It's a different kind of spice than what you'd get from a chile, though. While a chile will burn your tongue, wasabi burns your sinuses. You'll blow your nose. A lot. And if you eat too many, it'll burn your stomach too.

But it is so worth it.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Hot damn! Now THAT'S a sandwich!


Ah, the grilled cheese sandwich. It's a staple of American childhood.

If you grew up in the U.S., you probably ate a lot of grilled cheese sangwiches as a kid -- except it was a slice of Kraft American Cheese between two slices of white bread, and possibly with a can of Campbell's tomato soup.

BO-RING!

C'mon, now, class it up a little!

Ingredients
  • 1/2 small white onion, sliced into rings
  • 1 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 Roma tomato, sliced lengthwise
  • 4 slices of bacon, cooked
  • 4 slices of sourdough bread
  • butter for the bread
Directions
  1. Butter the sides of the bread that you'll grill. You know how you keep the PB&J on the inside when you're making a PBJ sandwich? Yeah. Not like that at all. Do the exact opposite of that.
  2. Sprinkle half the cheese on one slice of bread. Add half the tomato slices, bacon, and onions. Put the other slice of bread on top. Make another sandwich!
  3. Put the sandwiches in a hot skillet and cook until the bottom browns and the cheese is melty, then cook the other side.
  4. Slice 'em in half and eat. Hot damn, now that's a sandwich!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Cheese enchiladas?


Making enchiladas takes a long time and leaves a ginormous mess.

Unless you make them in the microwave.

But I've found that you always sacrifice quality for convenience.

These cheese enchiladas from Trader Joe's were entirely too bland. In fact, I'm not even sure they qualify as cheese enchiladas at all.



  • There wasn't nearly enough cheese on top. I had to sprinkle a couple cups of Mexican blend cheese over them myself.
  • Did they use two tortillas to wrap? That's what it tasted like!
  • Where's the filling? Seriously! A good enchilada should ooze cheese when you cut into it. These just... didn't.
  • I know a lot of people don't like heat as much as I do, but these enchiladas didn't have any heat at all.

All in all, they were thoroughly boring and I probably won't eat them again.

Save your money, this sucks!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Pasta puttanesca


I made pasta puttanesca for dinner the night before last.

(I kind of got a kick out of the fact that the name means "Pasta the way a whore would make it." Hee hee.)

The best part is that it's quick and easy!


Ingredients
  • 1/2 lb penne pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped capers
  • about 12 kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1-14oz can Italian-style tomatoes
  • handful of chopped parsley
  • ground black pepper
  • shredded Parmesan
Directions
  1. Start the pasta cooking according to the package directions.
  2. Heat the olive oil and saute the garlic and chili pepper for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the capers and olives, cook for about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the tomatoes and parsley. Lower the heat, simmer for 5 minutes. Add ground black pepper to taste.
  5. Add some of the pasta cooking liquid to the sauce. Drain the pasta, add the sauce, and toss. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the individual servings of pasta.
Notes
  • Don't drain the tomatoes!
  • Next time I make this, I'm going to add the sliced zucchini and yellow squash that's in my freezer. Mm!
  • At step 3, you can add some fully-cooked chicken or tuna. I used an 8-oz package of Trader Joe's Chickenless Strips.
  • It makes enough for 2 hungry people, or 4 if you make it with soup and/or salad.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Don't Eat That!

I'm here alone at work, so I can't leave to get food.

Luckily for me, I left a container of yogurt here earlier in the week! Right?

WRONG.

Trader Joe's finally let me down with their "peach" yogurt.

Folks.... it looks like a yeast infection in a cup. (WARNING: LINK CONTAINS NASTY PICTURE!!) I could maybe get over the appearance if the texture weren't so gritty and dry, and if the taste weren't so... well, not there at all.

Ew, ew, ew, ew!!! And I'm stuck here for another hour. Just long enough to get irritably hungry, not long enough to justify calling out for a pizza.

Not cool.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Soup!


This soup is fantastic!

Black Bean Soup

(makes enough for 4)

Ingredients
  • 2-15 oz. cans of reduced sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups reduced sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup chunky salsa
  • 3 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 small red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • sour cream
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
Directions
  1. In a food processor, combine the beans, onion, cilantro, garlic, lime juice, broth, salsa and cumin until they're more or less smooth.
  2. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until bubbly and heated through. Taste it and see if you need to add pepper.
  3. Serve with a sprinkling of green onions and a tablespoon or so of sour cream on top. A large slice of baguette on the side is great for dipping.
  4. NOTE: I know a lot of people balk at low-sodium ingredients, but in this case reduced sodium ingredients are important. Many jarred salsas are loaded with sodium to begin with. When you combine full-sodium broth, beans and salsa the taste is far too salty (and bad for you).

I already posted the quesadilla recipe in January, and the wine is Espiral Vinho Verde from Trader Joe's.

Enjoy!

(Side note: What is up with this camera time-stamping everything?! I made these last night, not three days before Christmas!)