Thursday, February 28, 2008

I found a new candy!

The Mr. and I went out for Thai food last night. We've eaten there regularly for several months, but this was the first time that they gave us candy with the check!

It was subtly sweet with a mild fruit flavor. I'd never had anything like it before, so I couldn't describe the taste.

I examined the wrapper for any English print, and I finally found, written in print in a color that nearly blended in with the background, the words TAMARIND CANDY.

Aha! So this strange new flavor had a name!

...but what's a tamarind?!

Turns out it's a kind of tree whose pods are filled with pulp that you can cook with. It's also said to have medicinal effects.

Ooo, look, you can buy them online!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

You know, I learned something today...

I love Costco. Nowhere else (with the possible exception of the Old Country Buffet) can food be found in such gluttonous quantities for so little money.

We have a bag of rice so large that I could use it to work out. Don't ask me what two people are going to do with 15 pounds of white rice -- it seemed like a good idea at the time.

My mom froze food a lot when I was growing up. Find some bread or cheese on sale? Throw it in the freezer! And that's why I love Costco: they have so much cheap, tasty food that I can freeze for later.

With apologies to Ron White, I'm telling you that story so I can tell you this story:

The ciabatta rolls were perfect when I thawed them. So were the ham steaks and chicken thighs.

The cheese, though? My wonderful, delicious, 2-pound block of pepper jack cheese? Not so much.

Oh, it tasted just fine. But when I tried to shred it, it crumbled. When I tried to slice it, it crumbled. When I got over the initial disappointment (I wanted slices!), I realized how great crumbled cheese would look in a salad.

So if crumbling cheese is so easy, why do cheese companies try to sell us pre-crumbled cheese for more than the cost of regular cheese?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I can has... ostrich?!

The Mr. got me one of these at Smoothie King. I had the meat stick, not the Jerkee.

It was.... weird. I can't say it was gross, because it didn't taste bad or have a strange mouthfeel, although it could have done with more pepper. I just could not get over the fact that I was eating a freakin' ostrich!!

Yeah, I'm not much of a carnivore.

At least it was a filling lunch.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Quick and easy burritos!

Ready for a satisfying lunch, but not for spending half an hour in the kitchen? It's burrito time!

  • 1 can of black beans, drained
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 2oz chicken broth
  • 2 flour tortillas
  • Shredded Monterey Jack cheese to taste
  • Heat the olive oil in a saucepan. Add the garlic and saute until just golden. Careful not to brown it; it will become bitter.
  • Add the black beans and the chicken broth.
  • Cook, stirring and lightly mashing the beans against the saucepan until thickened.
  • Warm the tortillas in the microwave.
  • Spoon half the beans on to each of the tortillas. Top with the cheese and scallions, then fold and enjoy!

Mmmm, Mexican!

We had my mom over for a late lunch/early dinner yesterday afternoon (why is there no word like "brunch" for that meal?). SO TASTY.

(That picture makes me crave a new camera as much as I'm craving drunken noodles right now. Mad kudos to my mom and The Mr. for putting up with me photographing the food all the time.)

The cheese enchiladas with green sauce were just amazing. I accidentally left the sour cream out of the sauce, which must be why it came out so thick, but the taste was still amazing.

  • Be sure to have extra cheese on hand to sprinkle over top of the enchiladas before baking. A cup and a half just isn't enough to make it nice and gooey.
  • 1/2 cup of chopped onion? What were they thinking?! That needs to be at least 2/3 cup, minimum.
The rice came out of a bag. In the chaos that was my kitchen, I threw it away to make more room. Sorry!

I got the chiles rellenos recipe from a cookbook and adapted it to cut the prep time. Here's what I did:

  • 1 Anaheim chile for each person
  • Shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 2 eggs, separated (put the whites in a large bowl)
  • Flour, lightly seasoned with freshly ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil
  • Red sauce
  • Cut a slit down the side of each chile (I cut along the wide side). Cook them over a dry skillet, turning occasionally, until the skins are blackened and blistered.
  • Immediately put the chiles in a heavy-duty freezer bag for 20 minutes. Close the bag tightly!
  • Use a hand mixer to beat the egg whites until they are stiff and form peaks. Beat the yolks until they turn pale. Fold the yolks into the whites.
  • Put the egg mixture in a shallow dish and the flour on a work surface.
  • Remove the chiles from the bag and peel off the skins.
  • Remove the seeds through the slit
  • Lay the chiles on a work surface. Stuff them with the cheese until they are quite full but still close. Really smoosh that cheese down and pack it in!
  • Heat the vegetable oil in your skillet until a scrap of tortilla fries quickly.
  • Coat each chile in the flour, then in the egg. Fry until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
  • Plate the chiles, then top them with red sauce to taste. I used Old El Paso chipotle sauce, because it looked good in the store (it tasted good on my plate, too). It's a little bit strong, so use it sparingly at first.
The chiles were pretty good, but I thought they were missing a little something. I think they would have been better with a stronger cheese. Asiago would be ideal, but it's ridiculously expensive. Next time, I'll try a cheddar-Jack blend like the enchiladas or grab a bag of pre-shredded "Mexican blend."

Happy eating!

Friday, February 15, 2008

I swear, it was THIIIIIS big!

I really don't even know what to say about this, except... That's a chocolate fish. It is a fish made of solid milk chocolate. I'd say it's about seven inches long.

The guy in the picture brought a bunch of chocolates to work today, and among them was the fish.

He had the head unwrapped and mostly to his mouth when I thought to stop him so I could take a picture. He was kind enough to unwrap the whole thing and hold it up for the camera.

I think this may be the beginning of a quest for The Most Ridiculous Chocolate Ever.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Come to the Dark Side, we have pre-made pizza crust

I have a well-known hatred of processed, pre-packaged food. And don't even get me started on the horror known as the chain restaurant.

Let's face it, though: sometimes you don't get home until 7:00, and your hair is crusted in ice, and you can't feel your toes, and you're cold and tired and hungry!

...or maybe that's just me.

Nights like this are the reason pre-made pizza crust exists.

I had previously written it off as lazy people food, and even though I had never tried it, I assumed it would be disgusting. Then I tried some at the last party I went to, where another party-goer used it to make a tasty vegetarian pizza.

Tonight, though, the carnivore inside me won out and I made a Hawaiian pizza.

The ham steak on the left? Came in a 3-pack that The Mr. and I picked up for $11.50 at Costco.

Hawaiian pizza in a few easy, lazy steps!

  • pre-made pizza crust
  • a jar of pizza sauce
  • shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheese
  • ham (for the truly lazy, you can buy some pre-cubed, but save yourself a few bucks and cube it yourself)
  • jar of pineapple chunks
Do I really have to say more? Well.... okay. Spread some pizza sauce on the crust. Sprinkle some cheese. Add the ham and pineapple. Bake it. 450 degrees. Until it's melted and gooey. Eat it. You know you want to.

See? Don't you want to eat this?

Friday, February 8, 2008

So I finally found basil the other day. I had to find a stocker to dig it out of the back room for me, and when he came back, he handed me a ginormous plastic tub of it (okay, about 4 ounces, but do you know how many leaves that is?!).

I got to make my bruschetta last night, and it was a bit disappointing. I just used 6 diced Roma tomatoes, 1/3 cup of basil, some freshly ground sea salt and black pepper, a garlic clove minced very fine, and a couple tablespoons of olive oil. I let it sit for an hour for the flavors to blend, but... blah. I think the garlic was just too much, and it needed some Parmesan sprinkled on top of the individual bruschetta.

The tortilla pizza was great, though. Now, this is something worth making:
  • 1 large flour tortillas
  • 1/4 cup shredded Italian cheese (I used an Italian 5-cheese blend)
  • 2 tablespoons (ish) of feta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon (ish) of finely chopped basil
  • 1 diced Roma tomato
Sprinkle the shredded cheese onto the tortilla, then the feta, basil, and tomato; bake at 400 until the cheese is gooey and the tortilla is golden and crispy.

Now I have a bunch of basil, feta cheese, and tomatoes at home. It's salads for lunch tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


I love pears. I mean, I really love pears. So I was thrilled when I found this recipe for pear and granola parfaits.

But why stop there?

Instead of buying those little itsy single-serve containers of high fructose corn syrup-filled yogurt, why not buy a big tub of plain light yogurt and make my own pear flavored yogurt?

And pancakes! I see strawberry and blueberry pancake topping all the time at restaurants, why not pears?

Or put them on cheesecake, or angel food cake.

My favorite, though, is ice cream. I poured the pears and their sauce over a bowl of vanilla Häagen-Dazs, and it was some of the best ice cream I've ever had.

Ah, pear season, I'll miss you when you're gone.