Wednesday, December 30, 2009

20-Minute Chicken & Italian Veggies


Recipe courtesy of Healthy Calendar.

No, I did not alter the photo - it was really as delicious [and as hot!] as it looks. Well, maybe it doesn't look incredibly delicious to you; my eyes may be fogged by the memories of this dish.

Neither Sean nor I *really* care for chicken all that much. I hesitate to admit this fact, being born and bred in the land of Perdue's HQ, but there it is. This chicken, however, was nothing like any other chicken through which I had previously suffered. [It was of course by Perdue, why would I buy anything else?] They were covered in great spices, bread crumbs, and of course, the coup-de-gras: a sauce of lemon juice and chicken broth at the end. This chicken was flattened and then pan-seared, locking in all the moisture. I'm guessing this is why it didn't turn out too pretty, but it tasted great!

The veggies were wonderful! The zucchini and broccoli, though not actually in season, were extremely bright and flavorful. These were sauteed with the carrots for a few minutes in garlic, and then steamed for another few minutes to produce the fine work of art you see here.

This was a great, filling, starchless dish for us!

P.S. - I'm assuming this goes without saying, but a lot of times I have vegetables in my pictures that go unaddressed. You can go ahead and assume I added these myself and they require no description, as they did not come from the book. Occasionally the book gives me a meat or entree with no side dish, so I improvise to supplement the meal.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Roast with Vegetables & Sage Stuffing



THIS. WAS. AWESOME!!

I know I always harp about ground beef and how much it sucks, but, seriously, I can get down with a nice slab of cow. This roast was incredible! It was so tender yet cooked enough for my tastes [I like my steaks like Ronald Reagan - "Well.....". Dated joke courtesy of one of my dad's friends.]

Because I don't own an actual roasting pan, the top half of the vegetables dried out due to the small baking pan I used! They weren't bad, and they reconstituted well as leftovers. The original veggies that remained in the bottom with the bouillon and water were awesome though!

I could rave about this roast for hours, but let us move on to the stuffing. This was my first time making "homemade" stuffing [prebagged bread cubes, hence the " "], and I wasn't sure how prunes were going to fare in something like this. I also wasn't sure if they were going to make it into the stuffing at all, since I kept stealing them to snack on throughout the preceding days! Apparently, I am an old lady.

We thought it turned out pretty well, even though I don't feel the roast needed a side dish at all, really. The vegetables were enough.

***

Well, it is official - I start my Nutrition class at Wor-Wic on the 20th of January! If the study is all it is cracked up to be, I will be searching for graduate programs soon!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Chicken Drumsticks & Mashed Sweet Potatoes



Yes, I realize this is one of the most hideous photos ever, but this was a day when Archaic POS Camera decided to act up, leaving this picture as the only relatively useful yield. Pretty soon, I will start updating with photos from Amazing Sentient Camera, and we will all look back on these days and laugh!

These drumsticks started off great in theory. I really thought the marinade recipe would be wonderful [onions, garlic, vinegar, mustard, olive oil, salt, pepper, bread crumbs], but when all was said and done, I wasn't very impressed. Sean really liked them, so maybe it's just me. I guess I'm just not a fan of dark chicken meat, because the marinade smelled and tasted good when it came out, but the meat was just gross. I'm also not a huge fan of foraging carcasses for scraps [unless it is a crab carcass], which is why most of the meats I ingest are boneless. Regardless, as long as one of us likes it, I'm happy.

On the other hand, the mashed sweet potatoes were amazing! The recipe had me treat them sort of like a pie filling, so they were sweeter; next time, I'll probably try the saltier route and treat it more like regular mashed potatoes!

Sweet potatoes are a great source of Vitamin A, and a great substitute for white potatoes, especially for diabetics. They are a great source of fiber with a low glycemic index, and because they aren't *really* part of the potato family, they are not as starchy. Feeding a diabetic a white potato is akin to putting a bowl of table sugar before them and saying, "Have at it!"

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Shrimp Marsala



Scrimps Marsala!

I find myself experiencing severe writer's block here. All I can say is that this was awesome! Mushrooms and tomatoes simmered in wine, with the shrimp added later, all served over brown rice.

My only lesson for the future would be to make sure I examine the frozen shrimp bag much closer next time before purchase. Through the bag they looked pink and pre-cooked, and because of this I assumed they were also de-shelled, de-tailed, and de-pooped.

I was completely wrong on all accounts! The fact that they were uncooked wasn't a huge deal, but the shelling and deveining process [well, I made Sean devein] really messed up my food ETA. Plus, it's a pain in the ass that I'm willing to pay an extra dollar to avoid.

But, when all was said and done, the meal was delicious and simple!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Spicy Chicken Chili



I love chili. I mean I really love chili, especially if it is non-traditional chili. To me, traditional chili means that beef, beans, and tomatoes are the main ingredients, and you need Frito Scoops to really enjoy it. My favorite chili in the world is a vegetarian chili I make with butternut squash as the meat stand-in. Also, I never get heartburn from it...

But this Spicy Chicken Chili is probably one of the best meated chilis I've ever had!

It felt a little bastardized to me when I realized the bulk of this chili came out of about seven different cans, since my veggie chili is made with almost all fresh ingredients. Course, I also saved myself a world of pain by using canned jalapenos in this recipe, as opposed to the fresh ones I seed and chop for my veggie chili. It only took me one time without gloves to realize they were definitely a necessity... -.-

I also had to cube raw chicken for this recipe. I've really gotten around my fear and dismay at handling raw meat for the most part, thanks to this month's recipes.

Overall, this was a really spicy, really colorful, really delicious chili!

In other news, it's Christmas Eve! I am going to make a cake for Christmas straight outta the Healthy Calendar. The December dessert is Raspberry Almond Layer Cake. Looks awesome, sounds awesome, pictures to come in probably another month, at the rate I'm going!

In other other news, I've started taking garlic supplements for reasons I don't feel like disclosing, but I expect great results from this! Garlic is probably one of the healthiest things in the world for you to eat! I got a new book called Prescription for Herbal Healing. It's a great book in which you can learn the medicinal value of almost any herb or spice in the first half, and in the second half, it is organized by disorder with a list of beneficial herbs and in what form you can find them.

Don't worry, I haven't become some hippie overnight or anything! I just am really interested in the prevention and treatment of problems through the use of nutrition and herbs/spices as opposed to "drugs 'n shit". Obviously anything serious should be checked out by a real doctor, but a small addition of herbs and spices in food or supplement form can do wonders. Garlic for one, has been thought to help prevent cancers and heart attacks. It also lowers cholesterol and blood sugar and fights to prevent fungal infections, parasitic infections, and ulcers. Also, it tastes damn awesome.

You might need to wait a bit or skip ahead a few seconds to get proper video quality here, but it was the only video that wasn't just a recording of someone's 1980's television set.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Pepper Steak over Rice



Hey, all. It is Christmas Eve Eve and I am up in Vermont. I do not know if I will continue updating while I am here, since this machine is nowhere near the supercomputer I'm used to! Also, I received a copy of Watchmen for Christmas, and I have been furiously rereading it since I arrived yesterday!

But, I also realize I have an obligation to the three people who read this, and I haven't been updating nearly as often as I should to keep you all content and hungry! So here comes Pepper Steak!

This was about as simple as it looks: steak, peppers, salt, and black pepper. I'm sure I added garlic powder and cayenne to it as well though! This also marks probably the first time since culinary class [yes, the one I took almost ten years ago] that I've really handled and sliced meat before it was properly cooked. I have no idea why, but I'm entirely grossed out by it. Maybe it's because I've learned enough about microorganisms in the last ten years to turn anyone vegetarian. Maybe because the thought of slicing up a carcass turns my stomach. Either way, I'm proud of myself for finally taking the leap once more.

Seven words can sum up this meal:

Good, but not as good as Dad's.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Roasted Chicken & Potato Casserole



I must admit, I totally cheated here.

The book asked me to buy a three-pound fryer chicken, cut it up, put minimal spices on it, and bake it for half an hour.

What you see here is a delicious, semi-lovely rotisserie chicken with a busted kneecap, courtesy of the Giant in Long Neck. Why would I go through all that extra trouble for the same basic cost? We also cheated on the healthiness by eating the skin, but you can keep that on the down-low.

The second dish you see here is a Potato Casserole, which Healthy Calendar claims to be "a healthy version of a traditional high-fat recipe". I am not really sure what traditional recipe they are referring to, but I thought it was a tasty casserole of hash browns, onions, cream of chicken soup, sour cream, cheese, milk, and spices. Combine and throw in the oven to bake for an hour.

The casserole paired with the chicken, which required only six minutes worth of reheating, made a great low-maintenance meal during which I could easily laze around and enjoy Watchmen.

Yes, this movie is like a year old so posting the trailer is lame, but all the good scenes are embedding-disabled! This is probably the greatest story about society and the human psyche of all time. The graphic novel and movie are both amazing, the book even being selected for one of Time magazines greatest 100 novels of all time. A graphic novel, which is basically a novel-length comic book for those of you who don't know, making it to that prestigious list is pretty amazing.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Angel Hair with Turkey Bacon and Peas



Pasta! As with any pasta, this was a million times better the next day as leftovers. I've experimented with bacon, peas, and pasta before with good results, but this was relatively bland the first day. Fat-free sauces strike again! I shouldn't blame the sauce, I only had about a third of the bacon I needed left, and even I thought there was a lot here. Maybe this was supposed to be super-bacon!

Okay enough rambling, there is not much to say about this except once I added a ton of fat in the form of olive oil and fake parmesan cheese, it was good! Even though olive oil is a good form of fat, a lot is still high in calories. While a tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of butter each have approximately 120 calories, the olive oil is healthier because it is unsaturated.

I feel so bad because I'm like two weeks behind on this blog between eating the meal and writing about it. But!! Fret not, dear reader, as I will be away for a week during Christmas, and not cooking. The back-up oughta give me something to do that week and you something to read!

I officially have all my Christmas shopping done and am looking forward to a good rest of the week at work and week off for Christmas!!!!!!!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

French Onion Soup & Cobb Salad



Woohoo! Soup and salad is my favorite!

This meal is pretty self-explanatory, so I won't go into too much detail about what's in these dishes. Lots o' onions 'n broth, and lots o' lettuce 'n bacon 'n eggs.

The homemade dressing (red wine vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard) for the Cobb salad was tangy and gave it quite a kick. On the other hand, my soup was pretty bland, even with half a can of pepper unloaded in there.

'Course, being a healthy cookbook, the recipe calls for fat-free, reduced-sodium [aka 'tasteless'] broth. I've used FF RS broth for everything else in this book so far, but it's usually just serves as a tasty, behind-the-scenes liquid for stew and things. In french onion soup, that's like the whole soup! Onions floating in beef broth. Next time, I might have to go for the full-sodium or fatty broth, or make my own!

If I knew more about spices [other than the names and where they can be found in the McCormick displays], I could have improved upon the soup greatly. I don't know much about what spices are used in what scenarios. Everyone knows tomato & basil and rosemary & chicken, but I can't usually take a dish and think, "Oh, X here would make a good taste". Once I rattle through my standby trifecta of black pepper, red pepper, and garlic powder, I'm stuck.

I am looking at a book for Christmas that might help me though! More information about this later!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Italian Sausage with Pepper Medley



Looks good, eh? Almost too good? Well, I have a confession: This is a picture from the book. As I have stated before, my digital camera is a piece of garbage by now; after I took several snapshots of the real meal, the images were nowhere to be found on the camera or the computer once it was plugged in! Sorry about the flash - I tried to crop it with the best free photo editing program Microsoft has to offer! And yes, smarmosaurs, I realize scanning the image in would be the obvious solution, but my printer is not hooked up to either computer right now and I am lazy.

On the plus side, I was lucky that this image happened to be in the book, considering only 10-20 meals are featured in the picture insert!

This was absolutely delicious. I substituted Italian-style chicken sausage with some brand-whose-name-escapes-me Chicken & Apple sausage flavored with maple-syrup. It was on sale and looked too good. And it was! I also served this over the forgotten brown rice from the Unstuffed Cabbage adventure instead of with sweet potato fries, with which the meal is shown here. Sweet potato fries are actually a side dish from some other random month. Other than that, the food looked almost exactly like the picture and tasted incredible, so no complaints here!

I love peppers. I really love hot peppers, but bell peppers are obviously the best choice for eating whole. They are colorful, [always a sign of a healthy food, with the possible exception of poisonous forest berries....] loaded with Vitamins A & C, and so, so versatile! They are tame because they have a recessive gene that blocks out capsaicin, the spicy compound!

Some day I will write about the Schoville rating system, the world's hottest pepper, and why cayenne is the most amazing food known to humankind, but not today.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Unstuffed Cabbage



I know, I know, I haven't updated about food in forever. Dammit, my camera sucks and I've been busy and it's Christmas and I've at least been pumping in the random fodder to keep you entertained!!!

*breath*

Well, I got most of my Christmas shopping done today [the rest shall be done on Amazon] so I can rest easy for a bit!

This chaotic-looking melange is exactly what it sounds like: a delicious, simple, inside-out take on classic stuffed cabbage. It's a one-skillet meal of ground animal of your choice, broth, onion, tomatoes, vinegar, random spices, and of course, cabbage. The recipe suggests serving it over rice, but I forgot and left the cooked rice in the microwave. In hindsight, I really don't think the rice would have been a good addition anyway, so I ended up saving it for the next night's meal, with which it went exceedingly well! This was definitely something I'll make again outside of the book plan.

The meat [I used turkey, of course] provided a lot of protein and the cabbage provided a lot of fiber and vitamins C and K, among other nutrients. Cabbage is also good for weight loss and overall health!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Local Decay!

A friend of mine posted this on his Facebook. One of his friends [who I believe I may have met at a party once] wrote the following Letter to the Editor about this festering cesspool of a 'small town'. It is probably the best thing I have ever read. POST THIS EVERYWHERE:

"A Letter To The Editor
Dear Council and Mayor,

I have lived in Salisbury since I was 4 years old. My wife moved here after high school to go to Salisbury University where she obtained a Master's degree in business. We have both work locally since we've lived here. I worked for two family run businesses, one of which was on the plaza. I have lived on the plaza and in various neighborhoods in town in my adult life.

I want you to be aware of my background because I am a homeowner (hence taxpayer), live and work here (again with the taxes) and have always intended to keep my skills here to be a benefit to the economy in this area. I believe we live in one of the most unique and beautiful places in the world.

My wife is now scared to live here and wants us to sell our home and move across the bridge to D.C. I'll let that sink in. My wife wants to move from "quiet little Salisbury" to "the big scary city" because she is afraid of crime. Something here is not right. We used to walk in our neighborhood (around Lincoln Ave and before around New York Ave) and now we don't.

We used to walk around the trails in the park. Now we don't.

We used to go out to eat in the evenings. Now we don't.

About the only thing we've spent money on in the last few months is upgrading our alarm system.

I asked my employer today how long it would take of me not doing my job before I was fired. If I came to work, did only a bare minimum, left early everyday and was grossly incompetent. I asked how long before I was let go if I took vacations when our company was in need or failed to work with the other employees or the many vendors we rely on. He said he'd give me a warning and maybe two weeks. I thought that was a bit generous of him. I would fire myself long before that.

I can here the excused brewing in the backs of your heads. I need the support of the rest of the council. I'd need a reason or face litigation if I did what I needed to do. I may have dirt exposed that would hurt my career.

I want to tell you that I don't care. I will not raise a family in a town with multiple, unsolved, broad daylight robberies. With multiple shootings. I can tell you this though, I will live here long enough to make sure each and every one of you never holds public office on the Eastern Shore again.

I will forward this email to everyone I know. I will send it to everyone I meet. I will post it on every blog and news organizations website. It will go on Facebook and Myspace.

My message is simple and clear. Take action now. Fire our grossly incompetent, absent, uncooperative, selfish, coward of a Police Chief. Ensure our police force has the resources necessary to fight the crime in this town. Utilize the existing resources and cooperation of our neighboring law enforcement. Most importantly stop considering your best interest over that of the community you serve because everyone else in this city that works doesn't get the same luxury. I have to consider the needs of my customers over my own, why shouldn't you?

If any of you think my email has been unreasonable I would have to assume you've entered politics for your own self-satisfaction and will vote accordingly. If you think I'm being threatening, imagine how I feel driving home at night. That's pretty threatening.

Thank you for your attention and please search inside yourselves, our poor city is dying. I don't care about Republican vs. Democrat, liberal vs. conservative or past feuds. I want clear, decisive and prompt action.

Sincerely,

Matthew C. Green"

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Turkey Soup with White Beans



Leftovers! The Leader [Healthy Calendar] told me to utilize my leftover Thanksgiving turkey to make this excellent soup. Tasty veggies and turkey with beans and orzo, an ingredient that is quickly becoming one of my favorite foods in a dish. Orzo is a rice-shaped pasta that goes with everything and sucks up the taste of whatever it is coupled with.

Since I have a migraine and haven't slept properly in a while, I will cut this short.

But first! I'd like to say that my faith in the medical field, and, possibly, humanity, has been somewhat restored!

I've been having some issues with a tooth for years now. About four years ago I got a filling between the back two teeth in the upper right [stalkers, take note]. A few weeks later, I was out to dinner with a friend and I felt something break in my mouth. The extreme pain made me think the filling was knocked out, and I returned to the dentist for him to tell me that it was just a small leftover piece that broke off, and everything important was still intact.

The tooth remained fine for a couple years until a few weeks ago, when I started getting extreme pain and sensitivity due to cold or sweetness. I have been uninsured for about six months now, but I could not postpone having this fixed; that's what credit cards are for!

(Not to mention that even if I *was* insured with my company's crappy cheap option insurance, I'd have to wait three months anyway to get it done! At least I can pretend I'm sticking it to The Man before I'm forced to relinquish all privacy to him in a few years!)

Anyway, I went in today, and it turns out the filling was not broken or missing, it was LOOSE. How weird is that? Since I take my fillings like a hardass [sans Novocaine], I braced myself for impact, and had a brand new, better-than-before filling in ten minutes time. He wished me a Merry Christmas and sent me on my way.

Okay, all this exposition was pretty unnecessary, but I like to hear myself type. The great part was when I went to the lady up front to pay she said he wasn't going to charge me for it!! She also wished me a Merry Christmas and I half-joked that I better get out of there fast before he changed his mind! I don't know if he gave me a break since I'm an uninsured hobo-looking kid (I came in my work clothes), or because he was impressed by my unshaken demeanor when he was drilling my not-numb nerve, or because he knows my mom and aunts, or because he's just a stand-up guy?

Either way, it was great!!! For once, I could say going to the dentist was probably the best part of my day!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

FTW



This lady is awesome and puts this into better words than I ever could. Usually, my stance on gay marriage is: "Of course they should get married! Why deny them the chance to be miserable too!?"

Thanksgiving!



Here's our beautiful two-person spread for Thanksgiving! Complete with hypodermic needles!

I made the cranberry salad[courtesy of HC] in the farthest dish. Just pureed cranberries, oranges, and sweetener. Sean doesn't really care for Thanksgiving food [he's probably a witch], but he said the cranberry salad made him enjoy the meal more!

We received a pumpkin pie in the Thanksgiving deal, but I also made a sweet potato pie, the one HC dessert recipe for November. I didn't get a picture of it, but it turned out pretty decent, considering I suck at baking. I bought a pre-made crust but I made the filling myself. I think I should have gotten a deep dish crust and a better oven. I seriously have to keep everything in almost double or triple the length of time, or jack up the temperature.

Everyone knows cranberries are amazing, and here's why: They are chock full of antioxidants and antibacterials and keep your urinary tract totally functional! Also, they are a vital part of a well-balanced Cosmopolitan.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Mushroom Alfredo Halibut & Garlic Mashed Potatoes



This was a terrible experience. And as you can see, it looks pretty terrible, too!

There were problems with this dish from the get-go.

For one thing, the little slab of fish I buried underneath my 'mashed potatoes' here was not halibut at all, but cod! It is a decent substitute as a white fish, but I've come to the conclusion that I pretty much hate cooked fish now. Sushi all the way!

I also didn't have tinfoil to bake the fish in, which I was freaked about ruining the dish without, but it didn't seem to affect the taste or moisture outcome. Apparently, foil only helps to lock in moisture, but if you have liberally added an oil or sauce to the fish before baking, it won't get dry in the oven.

It doesn't help that, in helping Sean study the ServSafe book [a guidebook for professional kitchen safety and rules], I learned about all the wonderful, amazing things that various types of seafood can do to ruin your life if improperly prepared! I was convinced that the cod smelled bad aka 'deathly', that it wasn't baked all the way through [Sean's thermometer proved me wrong], and that we were totally going to get Anisakis simplex and we'd be coughing up worms.

This is another reason I prefer sushi: all sushi-grade fish goes through extreme measure to be tested and handled for safety. On the other hand, with most seafood, if it is contaminated, neither freezing nor cooking the fish will cure it anyway. So really, anyone who is wary to try sushi has nothing to lose versus going to a Red Lobster. [Dad]

Fortunately, neither of these happened, but I'm telling you all this to hopefully gain some absolution from my mashed potatoes disaster here. This goop you see here actually tasted great, but I was too busy freaking out over the fish to pay proper attention and I ended up pouring in way too much half and half and making the potatoes like soup. Sadly, this wasn't even my first time making mashed potatoes -- I've made them a million times and they've been awesome -- but for some reason I failed to gradually add the liquid. *Sigh*. This is what I get for blindly following the recipe. I'm serious, you can't make anything decent without bullshitting most of it.

The mushroom alfredo sauce was actually quite awesome, so I am pleased with that. Normally alfredo is VERY fatty, but the recipe calls for fat-free half-and-half instead, which soothes my heart in more ways than one.

Final verdict: I was pretty grouchy about it, but Sean said he liked it all. I love him because he loves all my so-called culinary disasters.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Greatest Thing Ever



If you're wondering what the hell is happening, these are the real World of Warcraft character dancing animations for most of the races, dressed up to look like the person or people they emulate! This is amazing.

Pasta Fagioli



I'm sure you're all familiar with this dish. Delicious and filling! I am obsessed with all soup- and stew-like foods, so this was great! This is your basic goulash of turkey bacon, random veggies and spices, and beans and pasta. It was amazing.

I'm not going to rave too long since it is Cyber Monday, and I got a hankerin' for some Amazon.com browsing.

But I will rant about my neighbors for a few minutes. I pretty much want to kill them all the time. My entire apartment smells like smoke from them, and I swear they are constantly yelling at each other, playing loud TV or music, or BANGING ON THE WALLS CONTINUOUSLY. And FYI, this is while I'm being quiet, so they aren't banging to shut ME up, har.

Happy Smart Shopper Day!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Holiday Rush

Hi, handful of faithful viewers! I know, I know, I'm way behind on this culinary pilgrimage. I've been really busy with social engagements, Thanksgiving junk, and general distraction. I have made plenty of dinner and taken plenty of pictures though, so expect a string of updates once per day pretty soon!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pumpkin Pancakes



So far, this has been my LEAST favorite thing to make. I hate baking, and I had never made pancakes before. To be honest, they don't taste as bad as they look, but that's all I can say for it.

Sean claims to have liked them, but I found them barely above palatable - at least, not without a bunch of cinnamon, nutmeg, and honey to marinate them in.

I don't know if it was because I had already eaten something with pumpkin in it earlier, the fact that I wasn't really in the mood for something sweet, or the absolute weirdness of mushy [because of the pumpkin texture] pancakes. It might have also been the fact that there wasn't very much sweetness going on at all in this recipe [only 2 T. of brown sugar], something I've come to expect in droves in pumpkin-flavored baked goods!

At least we got some beta-carotene, which protects against heart disease and types of cancer.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Ham Sandwich with Mushrooms & Fruit Salad with Yogurt Dressing



The days just keep getting tastier! This was a really simple, really quick, really delicious dinner. Well, I suppose it is only as delicious as you make it. I bought my ham and swiss from the deli, and it was some of the best of both I've ever had! If you use lesser ingredients, you will have a lesser sandwich! Not to mention, if the cool dude is working, he might give you a slice to sample for free! I'm not sure if it works if you're not a young girl though...

The recipe involved making your own awesome fresh dill/mustard/mayo spread, in which I doubled the amount of dill, because dill is my favorite spice! And before you Eastern Shore purists get up in arms, Old Bay is a *seasoning*. :p

I must admit that once again I made a fatal n00b error in the procedure, by buying pre-sliced raw mushrooms a week before making this. They were supposed to be sauteed and placed on the sandwich. They smelled awful when I brought them out of the fridge [Maybe they aren't supposed to refrigerate? Maybe I should have bought whole and sliced it myself? Dad, help.] so I didn't risk adding them to the sandwich. So really, this is a ham and cheese sandwich, sans mushrooms!

I also learned that even out-of-season fruit tastes great with a homemade yogurt dressing!

Instead of my normal small amount of nutrition geekery here, I'd like to go on a diatribe about packaged lunch meats:

Prepackaged lunch meats are made out of kittens and cute puppies and babies!

But seriously, the stuff is gross, slimy, and packed with preservatives. Preservatives such as nitrates and nitrites, which are suspected to be carcinogens! I also find that most of the time, buying from the deli is roughly the same price as buying prepackaged meats and cheeses. Not to mention it is way tastier, and not soaking in cancer juice.

My mom [among others, I'm sure] agrees, but says she doesn't want to wait in line for the deli. She shops at Wal-Mart, which is always a madhouse, so I can't say I blame her. Not that there's anything WRONG with shopping at Wal-Mart - it's the cheapest! - but frankly, I would never buy anything perishable from there.

I shop at Giant only, and they have started providing an electronic kiosk with which to place your deli order if there is a line. You place your order, and you can go shop while they fill it for you! I don't know what the other chain stores are doing, so I can't tout their assets, but I think that's pretty awesome.

Whew!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Beef and Cheese Skillet Casserole



Also pictured: ^steam lines.

If there's anything I like, it's comfort food. This dish is pretty self-explanatory. Beef. Cheese. Pasta. Secret Spices. Except it really is Turkey and Cheese Skillet Casserole. I hate the taste of ground beef; ground turkey is a leaner and cheaper choice! Also, Perdue turkey hasn't been recalled yet...

This should have been a relatively easy meal in practice. Unfortunately, I made some grave errors and grave profanities that probably gave the neighbors pause, including using twice as much tomato sauce and then attempting to hurriedly spoon out half [after it was already thoroughly mixed into the turkey, mind you], and then clogging up the sink with the mess!

The turkey and reduced-fat cheese provided us with good sources of lean protein and calcium, respectively.

I don't have much else to say about this, but it was a tasty meal and made a great leftover lunch today.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Teriyaki Chicken & Green Beans Amandine



Okay, I'm sure you're all sick of soup and soup-related dishes by now! Let's break out into something slightly more exciting!

This was probably the most complex dinner I've made so far, complexity being measured by number of dishes to clean afterward, number of steps to juggle all at once, and number of cuss words used in the process. Well, I take that back...the dinner I made tonight [read: the entry for tomorrow, as I post these on a day after basis] *probably* suffered more profanity - details tomorrow.

The chicken is baked in homemade teriyaki sauce and sesame seeds, and the peppers are sauteed in the sauce and served over brown rice. I also sauteed a bag of green beans in butter and almonds. Mmmmm....

This is a pretty healthy dish. Chicken is one of the leanest of meats, and brown rice is always a good choice over white rice. We got plenty of veggies, and the almonds added a lot of life-preserving bonuses! They are loaded with vitamin E, which is an antioxidant that fights cancer, and they also have been known to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart attacks! They also contain plenty of other goodies, including calcium, folic acid, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc! Plus, they are delicious!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

New England Clam Chowdah!!



I just want to say, the advertisement for Bud Select was unintentional! Had I been paying attention, I would have put one of my Sam Adams bottles in the frame, and not whatever cheap swill Sean happens to be drinking this week. BUT, if you are from Budweiser[King of Beers], please don't hesitate to pay me.

CHOWDAH!!!!!!! After living in Boston, to me this word will never again have an 'R' in it. I thought the chowdah was pretty decent, since it was my first attempt at chowdah ever! Though, it's hard to say without my friend Justin, the Chowdah Connoisseur from up north, here to be the judge. Apparently the only good chowdah is from Nantucket Island, and I will now recite the limerick I penned for him years ago on the table at Legal Seafoods:

There once was a man from Nantucket,
Who ate chowdah straight outta the bucket,
"What about other chowdah?"
He'd reply even loudah:
"I told you before - FUCK IT!"


But seriously, it was pretty good chowdah, and turkey bacon was actually a nice addition to this dish, probably because its chewiness is on par with clam meat. The chowdah had plenty of protein in it, and our big-ass spinach salads were filled with iron, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin A, and lutein, the latter of which being great for the eyes! All the better to watch this great video!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Beef Stew!



Nothin' beats a classic! And Daddy always taught me that it's not beef stew without Brown 'N Serve rolls!

Now I'm sure these little white devils are horribly offensive to my whole-grains-only kitchen, to this cookbook, and to all diabetics' bloodstreams, but...but....childhood nostalgia!!!! Soaked in butter!!!

After the crazy-ass weekend we had, we deserved some comfort food. And homemade beef stew is the ticket. The dish offers lots of protein, lots of fresh veggies, and lots of food-coma-happiness!

This recipe was very thick, nowhere near the consistency of my personal recipe [read: my method of bull-shitting until it tastes right] or my grandma's famous stew, which was pretty much just beef and vegetables in what seemed like straight-up broth to the untrained eye, but it was not so simple at all! It was legendary! Legendary enough to cause extreme run-on sentences!

In other news, this book is an absolute godsend, and I signed up for a community college course on nutrition today!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Baked Potato Soup



I've spent the last few days driving to and from Vermont so we could take care of bidness, and I'm tired as hell. I did manage to go grocery shopping last night for the next six meals, and also, with a beer-fueled attack of mania, cleaned the bathroom!

I also ordered our "Thanksgiving Meal For Two" from Giant. Sean will have to work that day because, as it turns out, old people still need to eat on holidays. For twenty bucks, I can get a turkey breast, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, butternut squash, rolls, and a pumpkin pie. And all I have to do is heat it. Yeah, so I don't care what you traditionalists say, that's freaking awesome and delicious. I don't have to slave over the kitchen all day, and we can have a relaxing evening at home together. I'm also going to make Cranberry Salad and a Sweet Potato Pie, courtesy of Healthy Calendar. It's like having pumpkin pie twice!

***

So, this isn't the best picture of Baked Potato Soup, but the camera sputtered and died during the photography process, and I was ready to eat!

This was really really really delicious, but I am having trouble seeing the nutritional saving grace, especially for a diabetic! It's potato! Maybe the problem is we are failing to observe the suggested serving size put forth by the book. Oh well, I'm not making a separate dinner just so we can have a cup of soup with it.

The book DOES substitute turkey bacon for real bacon. Verdict: shitty. It's not TOO noticeable in the soup I suppose, but of course I had to make an extra test strip, and turkey bacon sucks! But, my arteries will thank me, as it has 65% less fat than good bacon. And the less fat in your diet, the better your circulation will be. My posts will be more frequent this week, I swear!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Pesto Chicken Pita & Brussels Sprouts with Citrus Butter



THIS. WAS. AMAZING.

What you can't see inside the pita is chicken and delicious delicious pesto sauce - fresh basil, pine nuts, parmesan cheese blended together and mixed with half-and-half. The sauce was wonderful, but blending the ingredients together wasn't. I might have to ask Santa for an immersion blender, because I can't think of anything in my kitchen more infuriating to work with or clean than a regular blender.

The brussels sprouts were also awesome in their citrus butter. Who knew that butter, salt and lemon juice could work such magic? Probably everyone but me.

Brussels sprouts have been thought to prevent different types of cancer due to the phytonutrients and the fact that it is a cruciferous vegetable, and all cruciferous vegetables have EXTREEEEEME DETOXIFICATION POWERS! :O :O :O

And the best thing about this dinner was the fact we had leftovers!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My Letter To PETA

Hi, I'd like to report a really awful zoo I visited near Myrtle Beach, SC, called Waccatee Zoo. I'm not sure what zoo regulations are, and if this place is considered bad enough to shut down, but this place was, quite frankly, a hellhole.
The animals appeared uncared for, sickly and/or miserable in most cases. They had two lions, the lioness of which was wheezing constantly, in a cage the size that my local zoo [Salisbury Zoo] uses for a BOBCAT, approximately the size of someone's living room. Same with the tigers.

The 'habitats' were simple, dusty cages with no plants or anything remotely resembling nature. They pride themselves on not being a 'concrete jungle' but the most rustic part is where the patrons walk. You wander through a bunch of woods to eventually view lemurs being kept in a horse barn. The place looked like a remodeled farm. I feel like it might have been a nice place twenty years ago, and the upkeep has just gone incredibly downhill since.

Another 'feature' for the customers is that you can feed the non-aggressive animals, a practice I feel probably isn't safe for the animals or humans, but I indulged in because part of me was afraid that was the only time the animals might eat!! I didn't see any visible food or water bowls in any of the cages. As I said before, they are dusty, desolate cages, most of the time with nothing in them but the featured animal, so it isn't likely they have the bowl stashed somewhere.

One particularly heartbreaking experience was a lone donkey in some random room by himself. He was in one of the empty cages, hee-hawing sadly before we entered. My party and I fed him by hand, and one of my companions reached up through a hole in the fence to pet him for a bit. The donkey actually followed us along the fence until we were out of sight, which leads me to believe these animals are either starved for food or attention or both.

I think those are all the major points; please investigate this glorified petting-zoo!

Thanks, Meredith

Monday, November 9, 2009

Ten-Minute Tostadas & Tomato Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette


Also pictured: Goofy Chef Sean pants.

Woohoo! I hope you like tomatoes, because this recipe is chock full o' pre-ketchup goodness.

These bean-and-cheese tostadas were delicious and the aptly titled tomato salad tasted great, especially on top of the tostadas. The dinner was really quick to make, especially if your stove doesn't take an eternity to preheat, like mine! Just a quick assembly of the tostadas for the baking, during which you can prepare the salad, though Sean suggested doing this a few hours in advance so the dressing could seep into the tomatoes. Pfft, I'm too much of a rebel to follow society's rules, I make my tomato salad on the fly!

This is a great quick-'n-healthy meal! The beans provide lots of fiber and protein [though I wouldn't advise being among fancy company for at least a day], the cheese provides calcium, and the tomatoes provide some serious lycopene, which is thought to lower the risk of cancer!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Barbeque Shrimp over Wild Rice



Here's the first meal of November out of the new book: Homemade BBQ sauce with pre-cooked shrimp over Uncle Ben's long-grain and wild rice mix!

It was a snap to make, only around half an hour with most of that time waiting for the rice to cook. The most time-consuming part of making the sauce was removing all the spice bottles' safety covers. After that, it was a matter of heating up the shrimp in the sauce and throwing it all together!

Though I followed the recipe to the "T", I ended up with a ton more sauce than I feel I should have. Sean and I downed the entire recipe [except about a cup's worth - lunch today!] and only used probably a quarter of the sauce. Neither of us are huge fan's of BBQ; maybe real BBQ connoisseurs would have drowned the food in it? It was also a surprisingly thin sauce, but I have no real complaints in that arena.

Overall, I thought the dish was very tasty, especially since I always look for an excuse to eat shrimp! Shrimp got a bad rap back in the day for being high in cholesterol, but it's actually been proven to LOWER triglyceride levels! It's also rich in omega-3 fats, vitamin B12, niacin, and essential minerals.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Healthy Calendar!

Okay, so last night, I was hoping to introduce what will hopefully be the new godsend of my household. Just about anyone who knows me read my rant last night and was like, "Yeah, sure, be all high and mighty...but you aren't exactly the picture of health yourself, Mere."

This is true. I don't eat as well as I should and I don't exercise at home. I get a moderate amount of activity at my job, but nothing I would consider a cardio workout. Since I started living alone, I have tried to follow my former favorite diet, The Supermarket Diet, which is less of a *diet* diet and more like a nutritional guideline to eating healthy and shedding a few extra pounds.

It's great, and I strongly would recommend it to anyone. The problems with it are few, but they make it very easy to abandon. It is very difficult to do by yourself, and unless you are on the [expensive] two-week "Boot Camp" phase, it is VERY difficult to plan meals. I have always lamented my poor planning skills and prayed for the day when a book would tell me what to eat every day. I knew that if something else was calling the shots, I would make healthier food and be happier.

I am now sharing my home with a type 1 diabetic boyfriend, and dinner plans have gone topsy-turvy. Where I am nearly a vegetarian, sometimes I could just mix up a big bowl of starch and eat it for dinner back in the day. Feeding Sean a big bowl of white potatoes and cabbage is pretty much the equivalent of feeding him cabbage buried in table sugar.

So the search began for a diabetic cookbook that would hopefully also teach me a thing or two about diabetic nutrition. Diabetic cooking is not as depriving as one might think. Just a few simple swaps that are just as tasty. It's also very nutritious for anyone; it is very heart-healthy and encourages you to eat more seafood [yay] or other lean meats.

Enough exposition. I'm ready to unveil what will probably the greatest thing to hit my bookshelf since Bart Simpson's Guide to Life.



The Healthy Calendar Diabetic Cooking cookbook is a full year of tasty, healthy recipes. It is laid out like an actual calendar[the book starts with January 1] , with 5 recipes per week and 4 weeks per month. There is also one bonus dessert recipe per month. And it's published by the American Diabetes Association, so it damn well better be healthy.

BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!!!

Not only does it take my planning agony out of the equation, there is a weekly grocery list included that I can easily photocopy and take to the supermarket!

AND THAT'S NOT ALL!

The book is written by a dietitian and a chef, ensuring that the foods will be nutritious AND delicious! And there is a tip included on each page by one or the other of a way to up the health factor or the taste factor.

Why am I telling you this? Because I am a complete foodie, and totally plan to blog about this culinary adventure! I will include a picture and brief description of everything we make, complete with our personal thoughts of how it turned out, of course. And perhaps some fun facts about why it's nutritious. I've been wanting to take this blog in the food/nutrition direction for a long time, and now I finally have an excuse!

Expect the first post [ghost] before Monday.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

You Are What You Eat

I turn down a new road in my life. I am rebuffing the art life [at least career-wise] and choosing a more noble path. No, I haven't been 'saved' by any religious figures yet; I'm hoping to perhaps save a few lives myself - perhaps even those closest to me.

I want to become a nutritionist. I have always been interested in this field and for some reason did not realize until now that spending a quarter of my internet downtime reading about it was perhaps a sign!

In this country of over-stressed, over-medicated, over-fed, under-exercised troglodytes, nutrition really takes a backseat. Better eating habits could help or even prevent "society's problem"s.

First of all, I'm sick of childhood obesity being blamed on VIDEO GAMES and TV. Sure, kids are more sedentary today because of higher crime rates [my rant on "Stranger Danger" shall be saved for another day], but when they turn off the XBox, what are they eating for dinner? Probably some processed or fried meat, too much starch and not enough vegetables. Or unhealthy takeout.

"I'm tired and it's quick?" Well, it takes like 10 minutes to prepare a salad. And zero time to substitute healthy alternatives into your diet. So many parents are uninformed about nutrition that it is scary. I'm just so sick of child obesity being placed on the scapegoat of video games. Also, since the advent of the Wii, which almost EVERY KID HAS, the argument is hardly even valid anymore.

****Side Note: A study has recently shown a correlation between bad nutrition and violent or criminal activity in young men. JUST SAYING. Apparently video games don't cause THAT either.****

Next, I bet you can name at least five people off the top of your head that you know with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, or other obesity-related disorders[whether they are skinny or not!]. Maybe you are one. The numbers are growing steadily, and while some people just get unlucky, the best way to avoid becoming a statistic is to eat healthier and hopefully engage in some light activity regularly. I wish healthcare providers would teach these people how to control or lessen their problem with foods that are known to regulate these disorders, instead of just prescribing them some medication to hurry and get them out of the office so they can see the next patient. Did you know that cayenne pepper works instantly to lower blood pressure and won't give you inconvenient side effects like seizures, stroke or sexual dysfunction?

***I did not mention type 1 diabetes above since there is no real prevention to the disease; however, a healthy diet is extremely important in their lives. Some type 1s have been able to regulate their blood sugar levels through diet, exercise, and supplements without the use of prescribed insulin, which is extremely admirable!***

If, through healthy eating, more people started working to prevent health problems in themselves and their families, perhaps the healthcare system in this country would be much better. More medically needy people could get care, and perhaps the providers could spend more time with their patients, instead of assessing the situation for a few minutes and prescribing the quick-fix drug.

I didn't want to get started on cancer, but I will. Everyone knows someone with or has lost someone to cancer. The rates are rising. What in the world can be causing so many problems in so many peoples' bodies on a cellular level?? Obviously, some cancers [i.e. melanoma or lung] can be blamed on known factors, but...seriously. I know there are a lot of fumes flying around today, which certainly can't help, but I have a strong suspicion that it is all this crap they are putting in food nowadays. All the preservatives and additives can not be good for our bodies. It blows my mind.

Okay, I'm done ranting, I hope. I was planning for this entry to be an introduction to the new and amazing cookbook I'm using in my house, but I think I'll save that for tomorrow!

I hope one day I can educate new parents and/or young people about proper nutrition.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Answer

I just read this article claiming that many Baby Boomers are now discovered to be at a heightened risk of cancer because of nuclear testing back in the day.

A study in St. Louis showed that baby teeth from current cancer victims who were bottle-fed in the '50s and early '60s showed twice the amount of radioactive Strontium-90 than a healthy person of the same age. The nuclear above-ground tests took place in desolate Nevada, but wind and precipitous clouds could carry the radiation farther across the country, infecting cows and their milk - and in turn, anyone who drank the milk!

Now, don't worry, you local Baby Boomers! I'm pretty sure we're at a heightened risk of cancer from good ol' Perdue and Mountaire plants! That will get all of us before the nuclear milk!

***

'Yes and how many times must cannonballs fly,
Before they're forever banned?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind
'

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Ch-ch-ch-changes

I didn't feel good last night and today. Food poisoning, I think. Cracker Barrel, why hast thou forsaken me?? Except, I'm nauseous again so who knows. Perhaps it is the result of my heroically poor eating habits.

So, the last several weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind trying to arrange everything, but Sean IS finally moving in this weekend. He got the job as the Food Services Ass Man/Pastry Chef [thanks, Tim, lol] and I suppose starting Monday, stuff will start moving more forwardly with that!

I'm happy that all these good changes are coming to us!



Also, Snow White came out today on Blu-Ray and DVD. Yay!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Blast From The Past

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sunday, August 23, 2009

By Special Non-Request!

Why does no one serve Sam Adams around here?

Super awesome and talented grrrrl + friends musicians!

http://www.myspace.com/maureentambourine

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Feed Me, Seymour!

The moment of clarity formed during a geeked-out conversation with my friend about the similarities between Star Wars predators and their real life counterparts. The chat morphed into a battle of YouTube links featuring predator bugs and plants, and then suddenly, I had an epiphany!

Regarding my great battle with the bugs, I have made a very important tactical decision! Instead of filling my house and lungs with bad aerosols and possibly the dreaded CFC Monster, I will instead fill the house with CARNIVOROUS PLANTS. They will provide me with more oxygen and the bugs with more death. And best of all, I don't have to extend any extra energy; the Audrey IIs will do all the work for me! It's win-freakin'-win, baby!





Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything?

I hate Sears. The stores are terrible and the credit card faction is even worse. I signed up for a Sears card a few years ago simply because I didn't have a real credit card and my friend who was an employee at the time convinced me to get one. I have not used it in probably a year, but recently, I had no choice but to use the Sears card for a purchase.

Recently, due to me having a malfunctioning computer, I accidentally made my payment 42 minutes later than the cutoff time. I attempted to resolve this through the customer service line, but apparently no real humans work at Sears, so the plan is to just give you the run around on the voice navigation system until you either commit suicide, or they disconnect you. I have sent the first e-mail communication to them; I plan to exponentially increase the level of animosity per e-mail until they yield to me, or I pay off my balance and cancel the damn thing:

"Hello. I have been a Sears card user for several years, and have never had a problem until now. I have always made my online payments exactly on time and never usually carried a balance at all until now.

Recently, I made my credit card payment, but unfortunately, due to computer issues I've been having in the last few weeks, my payment was sent exactly 42 minutes late.

Now I have a forty dollar late fee, which is four times the amount that was even due to begin with. I frankly find this outrageous, considering it was less than an hour late, and well before 5PM in the time zone your main credit card office is stationed.

Alas, I know that the computer is programmed a certain way, so I am asking you to please strike this from my account as I have always been an excellent customer and would hate for this to mar both my credit and my relationship with the Sears company.

I did attempt to resolve this over the phone, but can't seem to make any headway traversing the labyrinthine voice navigation system to talk to a human.

Thank you,
[name and account number]"

Sears makes me want to SCREAM!!!!!!!


*EDIT*:

Wow....they actually responded in like ten minutes saying they would credit it back as an act of good will.....I'm actually insanely impressed...

Friday, August 7, 2009

Ask Dad - He Knows!

These are both total sacrilege, but too funny.



Friday, July 3, 2009

This Ain't Charlotte's Web...

I have an infestation!

Possibly.

Since moving into my new apartment (6/18), I have seen and killed an average of two bugs per day. First, there were ants in my bathroom. Then I saw a few beetley bugs in my living room and bedroom.

The new and most worrying plague is SPIDERS. Tiny spiders. Always in my bedroom and usually crawling on the wall beside my computer screen. Of course, they might be everywhere, but I am generally staring in that direction for most of the day.

I resolved to call the office in the morning to report this since it is no emergency, but as of 8:20 PM this evening, the scales have tipped. I found THREE tiny tiny spiders on my computer desk.

The size implies they are possibly BABIES, and there is a hatched nest somewhere in my house!! Also, the recent performance of my computer suggests they might have constructed the nest right on top of the processor.

I left a frantic message for the office, begging for someone to come genocide these little bastards. My mother also came to save me from myself, wielding Raid and Boric Acid, which we sprayed in every available crevice. (I still managed to find a spider on my wall between then and the time of writing :( ....)

Now I live my life in constant fear, where every piece of dust that flies by and every stray hair that brushes against my skin MUST BE SPIDERS.

I'm just waiting for the moment when one will descend from the ceiling as I eat my soup, plop down beside me, and shout:

"What's in the bowl, bitch?!"

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Gone Too Soon...

R.I.P. Michael, you touched so many lives and will be missed!



I'm glad I was fortunate enough to see you in concert before this happened.