Sunday, December 4, 2011

Bloglag

Hello all three of you who read this!

I am sorry for the delay between posts. On a good note, I've been making and enjoying lots of tasty food. On a bad note, I've been totally selfish and not putting it on my blog. I even had a great after-Thanksgiving turkey soup, but totally forgot to take a picture of it before it was all eaten.

My only excuse is that I've been busy working!!!, and also playing The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, and also hanging out with friends and doing things.

And sometimes this blog is a chore, frankly.

I DO have plans for some Christmas posts, but they probably won't go up until after Christmas, because some of them are spoiler alerts!!! aka Christmas gifts.

Also, this:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Chuck Norris is Awesome

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!



Also, I totally suck for not posting this ten days ago.....

Ten days, ten years!!!!!



I'm actually extremely skeptical that this "Man In The Mirror" is the real deal, but it's still a good version! The concert was so poorly managed by the media, that the only people who could even make a real call on its authenticity were people who were there, and I don't remember much from 10 years ago except that I saw him and it was awesome!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Maple Sugar Cutout Cookies

I'm back! And I'm extremely excited to post this cookie recipe, because I got a really cool new ingredient to use in these cookies!

Maple sugar.

Maple sugar is a natural alternative to regular sugar. Based on a home label comparison to an organic white cane sugar, there is one less gram of sugar per teaspoon (I'm guessing due to the coarseness of the maple sugar).

And if that isn't enough to convince you, you only need 1/2 cup of maple sugar to every cup of cane sugar in a recipe, so by using it you're really cutting your sugar intake to less than half! Also, maple sugar contains the minerals naturally present in maple, such as manganese and zinc, which help your heart health and immune system!

So if you've followed my logic this far, we can consider these cookies healthy...logically!

Despite all this awesomeness, fancy and organic sugar is normally too rich for my blood, so I've had to go without. BUT, I managed to get a free baggy of it as a gift the other day. What better excuse to experiment!?

I decided since it is October, and my house is bedecked with Halloween decorations, I should put to use my Halloweeny cookie cutters, also currently serving as mere decorations. This was a pretty big deal, since I pretty much hate making cutout cookies, and the entire rolling process. But having maple sugar is a pretty big deal, too. Also, my awesome friend Sarah gave me some great tips on how to make rolling cookies less infuriating for me. Yay!

So without further ado, the greatest logically healthy cookies ever!

Maple Sugar Cutout Cookies

3/4 cup butter (1.5 sticks), at room temperature
1/2 cup maple sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

1. Cream together the butter and sugar. Add vanilla, and eggs, one at a time. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture.

2. Roll dough into a ball and slightly flatten. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and place in fridge to chill for about one hour.

3. Get online and brag to all your friends about your maple sugar and the fact they don't have any. Also do your Hyjal dailies.

4. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly sprinkle flour on a flat surface and place chilled dough on said surface. Lightly sprinkle more flour on top of dough, place saran wrap over the dough, and roll out to about 1/4 inch thick.

(Sarah's Pro Tip: If you've thrown out your shitty rolling pin in the heat of anger, you can use a wine bottle(in my case, balsamic vinegar) as a makeshift pin over the saran wrap! Works great!)

5. Using cookie cutters, cut out cookies and place on a sprayed cookie sheet. Bake in oven for approximately 10 minutes. Let cookies sit for about 3 minutes before removing to wire rack to finish cooling.



So we have Halloween ghosts, pumpkins, cats, and, yes, those are even Halloween Brontosaurs...

These cookies taste great, with just the right hint of maple goodness, without being overpowering. Even Shadow took a bite! Then again, what won't he take a bite out of?

Adapted from this recipe!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Bottom Line

I think I could work for this company for the rest of my life and be happy.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sick. Sick? Sick!

Well, I am on the first day of what is either going to be a cold, or a really acute allergy death. I stopped taking daily antihistamines about a month ago, so who knows?

I also am in the process of quitting caffeine (root beer forever!) and soda (occasional root beer?) and maybe artificial sweeteners (no root beer D: ). I mention this because apparently caffeine withdrawal can cause flu-like symptoms, among its many charms!

I don't really preach this too much on my blog, but in my mind, I constantly wish I was like one of these ladies who really took the time to make sure I was eating sustainably and making everything from scratch and buying local organic food from farmer's markets and only eating in season and not eating processed foods or anything from a box, can, or bag, and all that jazz. But since I'm hardly a food blogger as it is, I'd like to be at least a person who does all that!

Though I am getting better at making things from scratch and at least LOOKING at where my food is coming from, nonetheless, sometimes I am just sick and need some comfort from a box.



STOUFFER'S TO THE RESCUE!!!!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Clam Chowdair!

You read that correctly. It's "chowdair" today, not chowdah like before! I was shown this link to try as a new chowder recipe, and since it's from Canada and not New England, I can't call it chowdah today!

This is a chowder recipe served to the Canadian army, and I decided to make it French Canadian (if only in my own silly 'Merican head) by serving the chowdair with croissants. Also, so I could say "chowdair" a lot.

Technically the Daring Baker's Challenge this month is homemade croissants, but I am wayyyyyy too lazy for that. I know that even though the actual work involved is minimal by comparison, and most of it is rise time, I still don't want to take 12 hours to make 12 croissants, when I can go buy them at the store and be back in 20 minutes. Instead, spend 30 minutes watching Julia Child's croissant demonstration while you eat your store-bought ones. C'est magnifique!

Due to the amount of butter in this recipe (an entire stick!), and the use of evaporated milk, it's definitely the most decadent clam chowder I've ever had. Despite the rich taste, it is quick, easy, and very comforting! And you should definitely use real butter, because margarine or some other fake crap in a tub just isn't going to be as awesome!


I never seem to get all the ingredients in the photo because I always add extra stuff!

Clam Chowdair
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 6.5-oz cans minced clams, drained with juice reserved
2+ cups cold water
2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 12-oz. can evaporated milk
1 teaspoon dried thyme
garlic salt, salt, and pepper

In a large soup pot over medium-high heat, combine the butter, celery and onion. Saute for about 3 minutes, add the flour and stir well to make a roux. Add the reserved clam juice to make a paste, then slowly add enough cold water to reach the desired thickness. I used about 2 cups, though next time I might try 3. Whatever your preference, add only about a cup at a time. You can always add more, but you can't take away once it's done!
Add the potatoes, milk, thyme, garlic salt, salt, pepper, and any other seasonings you might dig. Reduce heat to low and allow soup to simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Add the clams and allow to heat through.




Also, no chowdah/chowdair discussion would be complete without Freddy Quimby demeaning the waiter, as anyone who knows me should expect:




Adapted from Allrecipes!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Roasted Eggplant and Garlic Dip

I apologize in advance for the fact that I have no pictures to go with this post, but to be honest, despite its deliciousness, this is not the prettiest recipe in the world anyway!

Though it is very easy, this dip takes a little bit of time because the vegetables have to roast. But, depending on where you live, it may even take less time than going to the store and back to buy your own dip! And you can do other stuff in the meantime! And this dip is healthy, cheap and versatile!

Roasted Eggplant and Garlic Dip

1 eggplant
1 head of garlic (yes, an entire head)
mayonnaise, yogurt, sour cream, etc
your favorite vinegar
your favorite oil
salt & pepper
any other spice or condiment you might like!

Preheat the oven to 450F.

Chop the top third or so of the head of garlic off, exposing the cloves. Wrap head of garlic in foil.

Wash the eggplant and prick it several times on all sides with a fork. Place this and the garlic on a baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes. Remove the garlic and roast for another 15 minutes.

When that's all done, squeeze the garlic out into a blender, food processor, or bowl to be used with an immersion blender. Slice open your eggplant and scrape the skin into the bowl. Puree!

Now it's time to get creative and make this dip to your own tastes! I use a dollop or so of mayonnaise or sour cream, a couple tablespoons each of olive oil and red wine vinegar, and some salt and pepper. Then I'm ready to mix it up and chow down with some tortilla chips! This could also be a nice sandwich spread or dip for healthier things, like veggies.

Get your dip on!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Beluga Lentil Tabbouleh & Spice Bread

Okay, these two recipes really have nothing to do with each other culturally, and probably aren't even supposed to be eaten together. But I made them at the same time because, what can I say, I'm a convention-pushing badass like that.

This tabbouleh (you say taboule, I say tabbouleh) recipe is the first I've ever tried, and I just love it. It is so simple and healthy, and a good excuse to try bulgur wheat if you never have before!

Tabbouleh

1.5 cups cooked black lentils*
1.5 cups cooked bulgur*
2 T. olive oil
2 T. rice vinegar
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
1 t. minced garlic
1 t. oregano
salt and pepper




ALSO PARSLEY.

*I honestly don't know if my proportions are correct to this recipe, but if you don't mind the lentils coloring the bulgur, here is the lazy way to cook this stuff. Boil 3/4 cup lentils in at least 6 cups of water for 15 minutes. Then add 3/4 cup bulgur to the pot and cook for another 15 minutes. Drain.

In a large bowl, combine the lentils and bulgur. In a small bowl, whisk together everything else. Pour over the lentils and bulgur, and toss til well coated. Chill for an hour or more to blend the flavors.




Last step: gorge yourself to death.

Recipe adapted from The Rodale Whole Foods Cookbook!

I just let the tabbouleh chill during the time it took me to make this bread. To be honest, I didn't have all the real ingredients required for this, so I made a lot of substitutions and the bread came out less than optimal. It was still tasty and sweet, but kinda chewy, in the way that a quickbread should not be! But for something that is only good for leveling your Cooking to 40, what are ya gonna do?

Spice Bread

2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 eggs
1/2 cup honey or agave nectar
1/3 cup canola oil or applesauce



I think to avoid the chewiness, you want to stick with oil. I didn't have enough left at the time, so I used applesauce. It is a lower-fat option, but it is more likely to take the moisture out of the bread quicker, especially if you overcook the product, which I tend to do with absolutely everything. Alas...

Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a small saucepan over low heat, cook and stir brown sugar and milk for 5 minutes or until sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients.

In another bowl, combine the eggs, agave, oil/applesauce and brown sugar mixture. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Pour into a greased 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pan.

Bake for 55-60 minutes.




Recipe adapted from this!

Enjoy!

Also, here is a hilarious gif my awesome friend Becky made for me, quicker than I could find out whether I even still had Photoshop or not!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Hot Gingered Apple Cider



I know it's only mid-September, but as far as I'm concerned, cider season starts as soon as it gets below 70 for more than two straight days! Bring on the hot dranks!

This entry will be short and sweet just like the recipe. Nothing is easier than this! You only need a few things, and if you aren't like me and actually keep stock on healthy things, you might already have them all in your pantry.

Note: this does not include alcohol, so you're on your own for hard cider!

Ingredients

16 whole cloves
4 apples, quartered
2 quarts (== 8 cups, 1/2 gallon) apple cider
1 3-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

First things first, get yourself a reliable kitchen helper.


He specializes in tripping the lead chef, and getting hair in absolutely everything.

Second, push 1 clove into each apple segment.

In a soup pot, combine everything and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook 15 minutes.

Serve hot with an apple chunk in each mug!




There's no picture of mugged cider, because I was too busy burning my tongue trying to drink this immediately.

Recipe adapted from The Rodale Whole Foods Cookbook.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Panic Is....

Panic is buying a hotel room for the next two nights in Cumberland, MD, making your boyfriend pack up all your most important possessions and the cat into the car, driving halfway down your own street before realizing you should call the landlord who lives next door to you to see if he is evacuating or not, and then when he says he isn't and your own house is on higher ground than his, turning around and proceeding to spend the next six hours playing XBox and reading Cracked before the power inevitably cuts out and you realize that it is only portable video game systems from here on out.

I should also mention that panic is realizing, when you go to cancel the aforementioned hotel reservation, that you had accidentally booked the room for a Sunday night instead of Saturday anyway.....

Stay safe, and don't panic, Mom (or at least don't tell the people who do, lol you know what I mean), if you read this before the hurricane is over!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Obvious!



Thursday, August 25, 2011

Can You Feel It?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

So Long, Suckers!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The End

Tonight, I finally saw the last Harry Potter movie. I knew as I watched, that even though the crying would cover a range of emotions, I would begin silently sobbing at some point and be unable to stop until the end. I predicted correctly.

Many who shy away from "fantasy" or "science fiction" movies don't realize that more often than not, the "unrealistic" themes and heroics take a backseat to the startlingly accurate portrayal of honest human behavior. Though of course the unrealistic parts are usually kickass as a bonus!

Anyone who has not experienced this story is truly missing out - not just on a major piece of pop culture history, but on a fantastic and moving story of the range of human emotions, and what they can drive us to. This is not merely a story about some kid wizards flying on broomsticks and Ralph Fiennes without a nose. The real story is about betrayal, sacrifice, man's mental struggle with mortality, hatred and bigotry, loss, loyalty, and the power of love of all kinds. Seems pretty realistic to me.

Also, it's not Twilight, people. SO GO WATCH ALL 8 MOVIES RITE NAO.


Monday, July 18, 2011

This One Goes Out To The "Common"ists



Thanks, Dad. Music IS what feelings sound like!!

(Note: This song is not about my Dad.)

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Public Service Announcement from Shadow



Attention bitches.


Golden Rainier cherries are in season.


That is all.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Cat's In the Cradle

A semi-local blogger/friend posted this ludicrously tragic (or tragically ludicrous?) tale about Some Drunk Guy who thought it would be a good idea to dedicate Harry Chapin's "Cat's In The Cradle" to his father at his wedding. Well, there's a ton more insanity in that story (go read!), but I'm here to touch upon the song dedication alone.

If you've ever listened to the entire song (and have an IQ above the average speed limit), you'd realize it is about an absentee father who basically gets his just desserts when his son grows up "just like" him, and has no time for him either. It would seem that to dedicate this song to your father, you would be essentially saying, "Hey, thanks for nothing!!"

But until today, I never thought it would be a bad idea to dedicate it to someone, because I always thought of the song in a different light. Whenever I hear the song, it makes me thankful that I have a good dad who was the exact opposite of the man in the song. My dad spent more time with me after my parents' divorce than do most non-divorce dads who live full-time with their kids.

And as I reminisce on a game of WonkEE(TM); stuffed animal football (or stuffed animal Americo-Chino-Taiwano -with Felix!- warfare, lol wut); Hot Wheels racetrack slalom; household game "Decathlons"; Pass the Pigs; never winning at Trivial Pursuit; my first PlayStation and Nascar 98 (complete with track sabotage on my part lololol); Three Stooges and Simpsons Marathons; "Mamie, Meredith, & Seinfeld!"; and everything else in between that I've destroyed my father's house with.......

.........to me, the song is a reminder to be thankful that I've had it better!




HAPPY FATHER'S DAY, DAD!

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Plans We Made

My 13-year old cat has been diagnosed with inoperable liver cancer, that has managed to completely overtake the organ in less than ten months. His prognosis (on the optimistic side) is six to nine months. Basically the only course of action is to let him live out his days peacefully, or to end his suffering if and when that day comes.

On a good note, he is still currently acting completely normal and happy.

Be strong, Shadow!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Cautionary Tale

Today, I plan to take a break from the usual habit of not updating (or of the irritating not-habit of posting Kanye videos and leaving them there for a month), to bring you a story. A true, yet horrifying story that will hopefully teach you a moral by the time I am done.

It started about two weeks ago. I came home, entered the kitchen, and noted that the room smelled a little weird. I figured it had to be food that had been left out and was now decaying in the trash can or the sink. We have window units as opposed to central air, and, once the mercury rises in the kitchen, I figured there were bound to be some casualties.

As I am the only one in the house with a sense of smell (that is capable of human conversation, at least, and not just a series of "FEED ME" howls), the task of "Ooh, that smell - Can you smell that smell?" fell to my shoulders. I made sure the sink was cleaned out, and there were no food remnants left in the strainer. I even did a "spot check" of the room with my nose to try and determine the origin. No matter what I did, I could not place it. I gave up, since my nose had already become accustomed to the smell for the day.

This kept occurring over the next week and a half. Every day I would come home, the kitchen would reek, and I could not figure out what the source was. I checked the trash can, the sink, the fridge, the freezer, the cat's food area, the litterbox, and the food cabinets. I even checked the less-used cabinets to make sure nothing had crawled into them and died. Nothing had.

Finally, on Friday, I had the stroke of genius. I remembered there was one place in the kitchen I hadn't checked thoroughly, because I assumed the tenants of this spot were impervious to this kind of damage. I thought wrong.

To be honest, I can't take all of the credit for my "Eureka!" moment. A few weeks ago, a host on my favorite morning radio show was telling how she too had a mystery smell in her garage that she could not place. It turns out, the thing puking up her garage was a bag of potatoes that had been left out there since Thanksgiving, and had turned extremely south.

I keep my potatoes (and onions, and other non-refrigerated vegetables, still bagged) in a large bowl on my counter. At first glance, everything seemed all right on the surface, so my eyes always swept over it during my inspections.

On this fateful Friday afternoon, I decided it was now or never. I pulled the bowl closer to me, and removed the bags of vegetables, only to find half an inch of standing, opaque, brown liquid in the bowl. It smelled like death, and it was all I could do not to throw up as I threw the vegetables away, and dumped the liquid down the sink. I did not think to take a photo, but here is an artist's conception of the horror:





The lesson here, obviously, is not to waste food. Try to always use your food in a timely and efficient manner, so as not to let it become a festering, possibly free-thinking science experiment plotting your untimely demise. I urge you to check your vegetables now, for every second you don't is one more second they leak death juice into your best serving bowl! Next step: world domination.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Eerily Relevant



Let's have a toast!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Therapy







A post with no words? I've become my father. :p

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Saga Begins...Two Days Late

I am kicking myself for not including this video in my Star Wars tribute the other day. So, to rectify this, I have made an addendum!

The whole time I was looking up videos for the previous entry, I knew that in the back of my head I was forgetting something really important! But, HOW could I forget Weird Al's take on "American Pie" about The Phantom Menace?!?! I can only assume I must be on drugs without my knowledge.

Not remembering this makes me feel terrible as both a Star Wars fan AND as a Weird Al fan! Especially since this video is the only good thing related to Episode One. So watch this, it is awesome:



Also, this is a picture from the Weird Al concert I went to a few years ago in Somewhere, New Hampsha! It was really well done, and yes, he did "Albuquerque" as an encore. I think he stripped down to this outfit from a business suit.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

May the Fourth be with you!

Today is officially and un-officially Star Wars Day! As something that has influenced and molded my life (and conversational pop culture references) as much as World of Warcraft, the Simpsons, or my crazy parents (love), it deserves some recognition!!!!!!!


Here comes the video spam:

Seriously, at least watch this first one, it is the last time anyone referred to George Lucas as "the guy who made American Graffiti":











Friday, April 29, 2011

Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 2



WATCH THIS NOW.

Even if you are not a Harry Potter fan, this is history, people.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Music Post

Yes, I am back after a blogging drought! Honestly, I don't have much to say other than I'm still cooking, but have totally failed at taking pictures or writing about it. I really love to cook, but the rest seems like a chore. Sorry, all five of you who read this! >.<

But what I can do is show you videos of some acts I saw at SXSW this past week!

I am an idiot and did not bring my camera to the festival, because I figured I wouldn't want to carry it around. So naturally, I regretted that because I would have used it about A MILLION TIMES if I had it.

There were some bigger names playing, but we made a point to go to only free shows that were not big enough to become The-Who-concert-tragedy-esque.

I saw this group, Wild Flag, twice during the festival. I think this video was taken the same day as one, but not either of the shows I attended. From what I understand, these ladies put on EIGHT shows in a weekend. It's funny because when I first heard this singer, she reminded me heavily of the singer from Sleater-Kinney, an older band I liked. She doesn't look very old, so I figured she was influenced by them. Turns out, she actually IS the singer from Sleater-Kinney and now plays with this band, so LAWL at me.



This is Thao and the Get Down Stay Down. I couldn't find the set I saw or a decent live video of the song I liked, so here is just a still frame with the album version.



The highlight of all the shows for me was this group, Fitz and the Tantrums. They were great and had a great stage presence! This is the most popular of their songs - I think they're on their way!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Turkey Cop-Out Event!!!!

Hey!!!!!!!!!!! I'm back with more updates!!!!!!!!!!! And recipes with crappy and/or old pictures!!!!!!!!!! Warning: if you can't handle reading about bodily fun(k)tions, do not read the next paragraph.

Well, last weekend our septic blew up which makes for the third weekend in a row that has been worse than the actual work week. Hurriedly sopping up urine that cascaded all over the floor (It was like Niagara Falls!! but luckily ONLY urine) was not something I'd like to relive anytime soon. Luckily, we rent the place, and the causation was nothing that could possibly be attributed to us and therefore, we don't have to pay for it. Naturally, everyone wants to blame a flushed tampon for a septic problem, but I vehemently denied the existence of tampons in the system. Of course that was a boldfaced lie, and every woman has flushed one at least once or twice, so secretly I was in a complete panic that it would be the cause and I'd have to build an even larger web of lies to keep from ponying up the dough.

Long story short, the septic system is old and failing, and was also 4 years overdue for a pump. In addition to this, roots had infiltrated one of the major pipes, and that was the cause of the blockage. Here is a visual aid:



OMG, HALP I R ROOTED!

So basically the purpose of this article is filler. I made a few things and completely forgot to take pictures of them, because I was dealing with not having a toilet or shower, and intense dental anguish (dental, not mental) from a procedure. Plus, 2.5 of the 3.5 are insanely simple so they will all be lumped. Because I forgot to take pictures, I'm going to use the pictures from the old articles! Thank goodness for repetition!

First on the chopping block is super-simple turkey chili, which is great for a night where you don't want to think, but want to eat some relatively decent comfort food. I was smart enough to take the picture for these ingredients!



Turkey Chili

1 1/4 lbs. lean ground turkey
cooking spray
1 green pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 14.5-oz cans diced tomatoes (undrained)
2 15.5-oz cans kidney beans (undrained)
1 1.25-oz chili seasoning packet

In a large pot, cook the turkey over medium-high heat until brown. Remove from pot.

Spray pot with cooking spray and saute the pepper and onion for 5 minutes.

Add cooked turkey and all the remaining ingredients to the pot. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.



Wicked easy! Also, if you can manage to save four cups of the recipe, without scarfing it down like crazy, you can add 3 cups of cooked (1 1/2 cups uncooked) elbow macaroni the next night to make a chili mac, and stretch the leftovers even longer!

The next set of recipes is another delicious soup and salad combo! I hope you like mushrooms, because both dishes are chock full of them!

Turkey and Wild Rice Soup

1 T. butter
1 cup diced carrot
1 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced celery
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 garlic clove, minced
2 T. flour
5 3/4 cups chicken broth
1/4 t. dried thyme (I guess without measuring, but this is suggested)
1 bay leaf
12 oz. precooked turkey breast
1 cup uncooked wild and long-grain rice
1/2 cup evaporated milk
salt + pepper

1. Heat butter in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Saute carrots, onion, celery, and mushrooms until beginning to brown. Add garlic and saute for another minute.

2. Add flour and stir constantly while it cooks for one minute. Add chicken broth and stir, making sure to scrape the flavor bits on the bottom of the pan - they are tasty!

3. Add thyme, bay leaf, salt+pepper, turkey, and rice, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer; cover and cook for 25 minutes. While this happens, make the salad!!*

4. Add evaporated milk and bring to a boil for one minute. Remove bay leaf, or suffer intestinal shredding from it.

*Spinach Salad with Mushrooms

This is so easy it doesn't really require a written recipe.

Toss a bag of baby spinach and the leftover mushrooms from the soup recipe together in a bowl. Sprinkle 1/4 cup sunflower seeds and Ranch dressing over the top. Toss well to coat!!




Recipes adapted from The Healthy Calendar!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Pecan Chicken & Spaghetti Squash

WEEKEND!!!!!!!!!!!!

And that is all I have to say about that.

This was my second time making spaghetti squash (the first time chronicled here), and it was once again delicious and fun!

The pecan chicken is a great way to shake things up with new and/or healthy ingredients. Yay, pecans!

Here's the line-up:



For this recipe, the book is throwing me a curveball by having two long-baking items set for two different temperatures with different instructions. No way. I adapted this to be not stupid, for your cooking pleasure.

You really need to time this meal right, so I'll describe the recipe a little differently than usual. I usually put the ingredients list first so you can gather everything together, because I'm a sucker for mise en place, but hey, everything in moderation, including mise en place. Just don't let the CIA hear that (the tasty one, not the scary one). I'll just bold the newly-mentioned ingredients.

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut ends off 1 medium spaghetti squash (or hack with cleaver - it's fun!) and then cut squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds and wash and dry both sides.

2. Coat a large baking dish with cooking spray. Place squash halves face down on baking dish and spray the skins lightly with cooking spray. Put the timer on for twenty minutes, and get to work on the chicken!

3. Coat a shallow baking pan with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup crumbled cornflake crumbs, 1/2 cup chopped pecans, 1/2 t. garlic salt, 1/2 t. onion salt, salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, lightly beat 1 egg and 2 egg whites. Put 2 T. flour in a third bowl.

4. Now for the assembly line! Dip each chicken breast (recipe is for a pound of chicken total) in the flour, then the egg mixture, then in the cornflake and pecan mishegas. Coat each side of the chicken breast.

5. Place chicken in the baking pan and spray chicken lightly with cooking spray. Place in the oven with the squash, turn the temperature down to 350 on the oven, and bake for forty minutes or until done.

6. When you remove the dishes from the oven, dig the squash meat from the rind with a fork and place in a bowl; discard the rind. Drizzle oil, Parmesan cheese, butter, salt, pepper, and whatever else you want to put in there, and stir!





Recipe adapted from The Healthy Calendar!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What the "Dilly of Some Shrimp"?

Okay, so I have totally sucked at this blog once again. I feel like I've been running myself ragged the last two weeks, as I spent all of my Sunday at a Slumber Parties event. While it was fun, waking up in the dark for the sixth day of the week sucks. Especially on a Sunday.

Work has also been crazy, but I at least got to have a pretty long conversation with my boss today that reassured me that I indeed am NOT the worst person ever at my job, and our customers are ultimately jerks. Also, he gave me the great news that I'll get to hire some helpers for the summer, which is my EXTREMELY busy season, so at least I won't be totally strung out by the workload.

This next recipe is actually NOT from the Healthy Calendar, but one of the stranger cookbooks I own. I make a habit to collect esoteric or extremely specialized cookbooks (I have one entirely on guacamole, for example).

This next book is so rare, you can't even get it from Amazon direct. Even I'm pretty sure I stole it from my mom or grandma. If you like shrimp, and I mean really like shrimp, you have to go to the masters. And if pop culture has taught us anything, that means the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, run by Forrest Gump himself. That's right,The Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Cookbook is where I found this fast and tasty recipe.

Believe it or not, this is actually a great shrimp cookbook, teaching the many ways in which you can bake it, barbecue it, boil it, fry it, saute it, and so on. Literally, those are the chapter names. It also has great side dishes and sauces for shrimp and memorable quotes and pictures from the movie!

I should point out that every recipe in the book calls for fresh unpeeled shrimp, but in my opinion, that's too much damn work. I used precooked, peeled, deveined frozen shrimp, because that's what I had, but you're free to adapt the recipe however you wish!


Pay no attention to that balsamic vinegar - he's always trying to get the face time.

Dilly of Some Shrimp

1 pound shrimp, any size (mine were small)
2 T. minced shallots
1 T. minced garlic
1 T. butter
1 T. olive oil
2 T. lemon juice
2 T. fresh chopped dill
salt + pepper

Cook garlic and shallots in butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium, stirring constantly until tender. Stir in shrimp; cook 3 minutes or until they're pink (if fresh) or hot (if frozen, like I used), stirring occasionally. Stir in lemon juice, dill, salt, and pepper. Serve warm or cold.

I served mine with couscous and steamed broccoli!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Hearty Lentil Soup & Cucumber Onion Salad

Okay, so you'll have to forgive me (have to, there's no option here) for my absence. This has been an extremely cruddy week work-wise, and to top it off, I was sick for most of it. I haven't really been on the computer much at all, and when I was, blogging was the furthest thing from my mind.

But I'm back with a great new soup and salad combo. I really think soup&salad is the best type of meal you can have, comforting and refreshing! And soups and salads are versatile enough that they will never be boring!

I made these recipes before, but apparently did a really crappy job of it since I wasn't that impressed with them the first time around. I thought they were excellent this time! Though I do find it amusing that I was apparently sick the last time I made this, too.

On this specific evening, we had my dad over for dinner. Sean made some cute little "Chesapeake-spiced" (read: Old Bay coated?) turkey, swiss, and mustard/mayo sandwiches.


I took a bite out of that one, and realized half the sandwiches were gone and there was no picture!

Here's what you'll need!


A lot.

Hearty Lentil Soup

cooking spray
14 oz. lean smoked pre-cooked Kielbasa, sliced
2 stalks celery
1 medium onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
3 cups water
1 14.5-oz can of chicken broth, or equivalent (I'm still getting through my cube collection)
2 14.5-oz cans diced tomatoes
1 cup dried lentils
salt+pepper
2 bay leaves

Coat a large soup pot with spray, and saute sausage over medium-high heat until lightly brown. Remove from pan.

Add celery, onion, and carrots to the pot and saute for approximately 5 minutes.

Add everything else including the sausage, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour.

Remove bay leaf (or eat around it!) and serve.



Last time I made the cucumber onion salad, I followed the recipe and used an entire medium onion. I couldn't even eat it because it was so potent. This time I used significantly less, but I honestly think the recipe would be great with no onion whatsoever. It's up to you!

Cucumber Onion Salad

1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup sour cream
1-2 T. fresh dill, minced
1/2 t. garlic salt
1 1/2 T. white wine vinegar
salt+pepper
1 t. sugar
2 large cucumbers, peeled and sliced
1/2 small onion (or however much raw onion you can handle!), thinly sliced

Whisk together everything except the cukes and onion. Add cucumber and onion and toss to coat well.



Recipe adapted from The Healthy Calendar!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Tortellini Soup

Well, I've had a good weekend so far. I had an, erm, "conflict of interest" yesterday at work that put me in a crappy mood, but thankfully I have an awesome boss who quickly punished the offenders. And then I played Lego Harry Potter all night. Yay!

This morning, I woke up to breakfast in bed from Sean. Well, actually, I woke up too early on my own and ruined the surprise for myself. But it was still awesome and very sweet! <3 Now we are cleaning the house because my dad is coming over for dinner, which means I better hurry up and get out my leftover blogpost before tonight!

There isn't much to say about this soup except that it is completely awesome. You can't really go wrong with sausage or tortellini in just about any recipe, and this has been a perennial favorite in my house.

Here's the line-up!



Tortellini Soup

cooking spray
4-5 links Italian turkey sausage, crumbled (I think this means pull it out of the intestinal casing - and yes, I've just ruined sausage for you)
1 diced onion
1 T. red wine vinegar
1/2 T. basil
1/2 T. oregano
1 15-oz can low-sodium diced tomatoes (with juice)
5 3/4 cups of beef broth (or equivalent - I have been using cubes & water lately)
1 9-oz package of whole wheat three-cheese tortellini
salt + pepper

Coat a large soup pot with spray. Add sausage and onion and cook over medium-high heat until sausage is mostly brown.

Add vinegar and cook for a minute. Add basil and oregano and cook for a minute. Add tomatoes and broth, and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add tortellini, salt and pepper. Cook for another 10 minutes, and then enjoy the best soup ever.

Voila!



Yep, I've already run out of pop culture references related to my dinners. Here's a Harry Potter trailer to watch. It's worth watching if you're a fan, because it's freaking amazing, and it's worth watching if you're not because you get to see Ralph Fiennes without a nose!




Recipe adapted from The Healthy Calendar!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Peanut-Crusted Cod

I'm glad I tried this recipe again properly. I tried it once last year with tilapia as a substitute for cod, and it was pretty vile.

Of course, my opinion might have been tainted by the fact that I "spent twenty minutes shelling the peanuts that I bought in-shell to save a buck, and then another twenty minutes thawing the fish. No. Not at the same time. Sigh."

Here is your small ingredients list!



Peanut-Crusted Cod

1/2 cup flour
1/4 t. cayenne
1/2 cup chopped peanuts
4 4-oz cod filets (or however many you need!)
salt and pepper
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
cooking spray
1 t. butter - not pictured, :(

In a small bowl, combine flour and cayenne. Spread mixture on a plate. Spread peanuts on another plate.

Season filets with salt + pepper on both sides. Dredge filets through flour, dip into egg whites, and press one side of each into chopped peanuts.

Coat a skillet with cooking spray, and melt butter over medium heat. Place filets peanut side-down and cook for about 3 minutes on each side, or until done.



Served with the ultimate in gourmet, stovetop stuffin'.



Eventually, I'm gonna run out of genius relevant videos to post. Until then, ride the wave.

Recipe adapted from The Healthy Calendar!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Sloppy Joes & Corn Salad, REDUX

Why is it no matter how long the time between two visits to the dentist, it always feels as if you were just there? I just came back and now I'm all in pain and cranky. Ah well, it's nice to have insurance again at least. On to the food!

This recipe is a repeat of an old entry that appeared a year ago. Since I'm doing the Healthy Calendar again, you guys are going to see some of the same foods from last year. It's not as bad as it sounds - I only did it for a few months last year, and at least this time I'll have some improved photos and actual ingredients/recipes instead of just a vague description of the picture! Either way, I'm sure no one has followed my blog enough to remember any of this stuff, but I'll post the old ones for my own nostalgia.

This ingredients shot is so crammed it looks like it should be on Awkward Family Photos Dot Com.


It reminds me of the time when my extended family decided it was a good idea to have a professional group photoshoot taken for my grandma for Christmas. It was a good idea in theory, but some (there's a good chance it was my mother, so I'll refrain from using the word "dumb" here) well-meaning family member decided we should all wear the same colors: tan tops and blue bottoms. Well first of all, not everyone looks good in those colors, and secondly, there are OVER 9000 shades of tan and blue, so naturally no one actually matched. Take that and combine 9 different versions of our family's Patented Fake Smile, and you have an awkward family photo!

Sloppy Joes
1 lb lean ground turkey
1/2 cup diced onion
2 minced garlic cloves
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1 T. mustard
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
salt + pepper
whole-wheat hamburger buns

Cook ground turkey over medium-high heat until mostly browned. Add onions and cook 3 minutes more or when they begin to turn clear. Add garlic and cook another minute.

Add everything else except the buns and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve on buns!



Corn Salad
1 small bag of frozen corn, thawed
1 diced green bell pepper
1 diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 t. chopped fresh basil
1/4 balsamic vinegar
1 T. olive oil
salt + pepper

Toss together corn, peppers, onion, and basil in one medium bowl.

In another small bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients to make the dressing, pour over the salad, and toss!



Here's a non-awkward family photo. Thanks to SLOPPY JOE, SLOP, SLOPPY JOE, YEAH!



We could not have Sloppy Joes without this song, that I was singing the entire time I was cooking!



Sadly, this was the best version I could find. But it's okay, 'cause everything's doin' fine down here in Lunch Lady Land.

Recipe adapted from The Healthy Calendar!

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year's Dinners!

I didn't want to break up Ramen Week with my New Year's feast(s), so I'm posting them a few days late.



This was New Year's Eve dinner. What you see from left to right (clockwise) is artichoke salad, Lindt truffles, cocktail peanuts, chips, homemade guacamole, fresh salsa (storebought), caprese salad, plate of prosciutto, asiago, and fancy olives, and a second caprese salad!



The caprese salads were cute enough to deserve their own photo, sans tomato helmets. Other than the awesome food, the evening was relatively lowkey. We also had wine and beer that barely got imbibed, and the three of us could barely stay awake til midnight. We were asleep by 12:05!

***

On New Year's Day, I wasn't taking any chances. I broke out the lucky black-eyed peas (with a side of pork tenderloin) recipe I did last year. Yes, we're kicking back off with the Healthy Calendar - hopefully we can get through the whole damn thing this time!

Here's the cramped family photo:



Tangy Apricot-Glazed Pork Tenderloin

1 pound pork tenderloin
1/2 cup apricot preserves
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 T. sage
1/2 T. basil
1/2 T. thyme
2 minced garlic cloves
salt + pepper

Preheat oven to 350.

In small pan over medium heat, combine preserves, vinegar, spices, and garlic. Simmer for 3 minutes or so to make a glaze.

In a shallow baking dish, season the tenderloin with salt and pepper. Coat tenderloin with the glaze and bake for 30 minutes or until done. If you're anything like me, you require at least 50% extra on the baking time (45 minutes), because I'm an obsessive freak when it comes to avoiding foodborne illness. You can use this time to make the black-eyed peas.


Beauteous!

Lucky Black-Eyed Peas

2 T. olive oil
1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
2 minced garlic cloves
2 15.5-oz cans black-eyed peas, drained
1/2 t. crushed red pepper flakes

Saute green pepper in oil over medium-high heat for about ten minutes. Add garlic and saute 30 more seconds.

Add peas and red pepper and saute 5-10 more minutes.



Recipe adapted from The Healthy Calendar!

This is about as fitting a song I can muster!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Final Countdown: Ramen Pizza!!!

Don't miss parts One, Two, Three, or Four of Ramen Week!

Here it is, folks: the coup de gras of Ramen Week! My dear friend Sarah is the genius behind ramen pizza, and she doesn't even know it - until now!

A few weeks ago, when I was trying to conceptualize Ramen Week and all the dishes I would adapt, I was consulting her on genres/cultures of food, without filling her in on the intended purpose. I was looking for 5 different ideas, and all either of us could come up with was, "Hmmm, Italian, Mexican, Asian....". Suddenly, she offered, "Pizza? Ha ha", and the idea was born! I told her she saved Christmas/Festivus/New Years, and I secretly got to work!

Though scientific and culinary curiosity prevailed, I will be perfectly honest - I was extremely wary of this recipe. I predicted that no matter how hard I would try, there was no way at all it would turn out edible, much less palatable.

HOW. WRONG. I. WAS. Ramen pizza CAN be done, and it CAN be very pleasing to the eye and palette!

To be safe, I took a tried and true homemade pizza recipe, and adapted it to fit my ramen needs.



1 package of instant noodles, KEEP the packet this time
4 cups fresh spinach, I use the pre-bagged kind
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 and 1/2 T. of olive oil, divided (I ran out so canola is the stand-in)
salt + pepper
1/2 T. dried basil
1/2 T. dried oregano
1 12-inch premade pizza crust
3 minced garlic cloves, or equivalent
1/2 to 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 375, and get your noodles started.

Saute the spinach, mushrooms, salt, pepper, basil, oregano, and RAMEN SPICE PACKET together in 1/2 T. of oil.

Rub the pizza crust with the other tablespoon of oil, and the minced garlic. Spread your drained noodles evenly over the crust, then do the same with the spinach/mushroom mixture.

Sprinkle the mozz on top and pop it in the oven for 15 minutes or until done.



Stand back, everyone, I've officially ripped a hole in the Geek Space-Time Continuum. Now we can be sure to get enough nourishment from both major food groups (ramen and pizza) during those long WoW jags!

Recipe adapted from The Healthy Calendar!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Ramen 'N Cheese

Don't miss parts One, Two, or Three of Ramen Week!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!

I am extremely excited for 2011, because 2010 was the worst year of my life. I will not be doing a "Year in Review" like After The Gold Rush. Even though I thought it was a great idea, the past year is not something I'd like to rehash at length to do the same for my blog. I experienced a lot of sad/stupid/tragic/irritating/lame/expensive bullshit, encompassing every aspect of my life. Though some things were only a minor setback, and though some of the damage caused is irreversible, it has all been a learning experience, for better or worse.

The three of us (Shadow makes three!) are looking ahead with optimism to a better '11! I'd take more time to wax philosophical, but I'm afraid I'm not as good a writer as ATGR! Also, you're here to see ramen!

Ramen 'N Cheese is another simple substitution, but it is supertasty nonetheless! This is prepared in the style of stovetop mac-n-cheese, as opposed to baked. So far, I've gotten good feedback on my new habit of including an ingredients photograph, even if my ingredients are near-empty (I prefer to think of them as lived-in). This practice is something I picked up from the only food blog I read, Crepes of Wrath. Not only is it a great Simpsons reference (I assume is where she got the name), it is a great blog with great food and great photos! So I figured I'd toss her a shout-out here!

Here's whatcha need!


Real butter makes all the difference. In life, the universe, and everything.

3 packages of instant noodles, MSG packet discarded
1 T. olive oil
1 T. butter
1.5 T. flour
3/4 Cups milk
1.5 Cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 t. ground nutmeg
1/4 t. cayenne
salt + pepper

Start the noodles first.

Heat the fats (that would be the oil and butter) over medium heat. When they're all melted together, add the flour, and stir until the flour cooks - about 3 minutes. The idea is to create a roux, but I way overdid the oil/butter mix so it was way too liquidy. Ah well. Extra butter is only a good thing.

Whisk in the milk, and bring to a gentle bubble. Stir in your cheese, and season with the spices. Mix the sauce with the noodles, and enjoy! I love this version of noodles and cheese; the combination of nutmeg and cayenne give it an excellent flavor! Also, it is probably the fastest mac-n-cheese you've ever made (without the help of SeƱor EZ-Mac, of course).


Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray's recipe. Yes, I know. No, don't give me that. She may be annoying as hell, but the woman can make some damn good comfort food. In 30 minutes or less...Also, I promise that is a basil leaf, maaaaaaaaan.