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Archive for October, 2007

House Frau

Things Annie Birdie and I discussed while I cooked us dinner last week:

1. Boys

2. Our holiday party and all the cleaning we need to do in preparation

3. That I need to hurry the hell up because Annie is hungry

Things I forgot to add to the recipe because I was under pressure:

1. Red pepper flakes

2. Sesame oil

3. Water chestnuts

There was a time when my hard work was appreciated in Chez Birdie-Lemmonex, but Annie’s harping has become increasingly distracting. My meals were once lovingly fawned over and complimented copiously. Annie felt grateful to have such a wifely and devoted roommate. Now, it is all “Bitch, where is my dinner! I’m hungry!” Food gets devoured with nary a word; it’s just another meal. She never tells me I am pretty anymore, or rubs my back, nor does she buy me flowers (ok, I am not really a flowers kind of gal, but that is besides the point). All I want is to be appreciated! I work so hard for her-would it kill her to show she cares?

This recipe is a combination of what happened–which was still very tasty–and what should have happened. I wrote it using the omitted red pepper flakes, sesame oil and water chestnuts. It is a very basic Chinese recipe; it can be used for beef and broccoli, chicken and broccoli, etc. The wine is optional, but adds depth to the recipe. This is improvised and open to a million different interpretations. Have at it.

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Chicken and Snow Peas

1 large chicken breast, cut into thin strips

1 1/2 cups fresh snow peas

1 can water chestnuts, drained

1 Tbs olive oil or margarine (I used margarine)

1 large garlic clove, minced

1/2 Tbs fresh ginger minced

Pinch red pepper flakes

1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth

2 Tbs low sodium soy sauce

1 splash (about 1 1/2 Tbs) white wine

1/2 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp corn starch

Salt and pepper to taste

Saute chicken strips over medium heat in frying pan until cooked (about 7 minutes). While cooking chicken, blanch snow peas in salted boiling water for about 2 minutes. Also, mix together chicken broth, sesame oil, wine, soy sauce and corn starch while chicken cooks. When chicken is fully cooked, add garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes. Saute for an additional 30 seconds Add snow peas, water chestnuts and soy sauce mixture to pan. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook an additional minute. Serve over rice.

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While partaking in my favorite Sunday activity– laying on the couch, drinking coffee, and cursing the amount of cigarettes I smoked the night before–this weekend, I caught an episode of “Best Week Ever” on Vh1. One of the segments pulled together clips from a recent episode of “The Maury Povich Show”. In the segment, it showed a woman who was deathly afraid of chickens. The show, being the bastion of elegance that it is, had a man in a huge chicken suit come out and terrorize this clearly traumatized woman. It was pure trash, but she seemed genuinely upset.

When I was a little girl, my Memere was damn near obsessed with coconut. She served coconut cream pie or coconut layer cake every time we went over for dinner. Her lotions and shampoos were coconut scented, and just in case she hadn’t made her point, her bathroom airfreshner was coconut. One huge problem lies in all of this: I detest coconut.  It is truly the work of the devil. I would gladly eat anything–organ meat, rotten food, dirt–before I would eat coconut. The smell of it alone turns my stomach; trips to the beach are hell. It is the only thing I refuse to eat, but the intensity of this hatred is epic.

I feel the pain of the woman who fears chicken. I am that woman.

One of the painful things about this intense hatred is I have seen so many beautiful things defiled by coconut. I have had to sit back while it has ruined a perfectly good carrot cake or a beautifully umbrellaed drink. One dessert I have always admired from a far is the Hello Dolly–always pondering if it could be made without the coconut. Deb at Smitten Kitchen made some a few weeks back and this reawakened the Hello Dolly obsession. I decided to tackle the recipe this weekend and bring the results to a World Series party to see how they turned out. If I am going to fail, I will do it in front of a group of people it seems.

This weekend, I discovered I am a genius. In the place of the coconut, I swapped in some rice krispies. It worked out so well for two reasons. First, the texture of the rice krispies becomes slightly chewy with a touch of crunch, much like coconut, when baked. Second, the cereal does not add much sweetness, which is essential in a recipe that is already so sweet. In the original recipe, the coconut (I assume) acts as a bit of a neutralizer, and the rice krispies do the same thing. These bars are tooth achingly sweet; I ate a few nibbles while prying them out of the pan and it gave me the shakes. They are pure decadence. I suggest cutting them into teeny, tiny pieces in order to avoid a sugar induced coma.

And if you ever make these, please do not tell me if you use coconut.

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Hello Dolly

Recipe a combination of many

1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (I blitzed 7 crackers in the food processor)

1 stick butter, salted

1 cup rice krispies

1 cup pecan chips

1 cup peanut butter chips

1 1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

1/2 small can sweetened condensed milk (about 1/2 cup)

Preheat oven to 350. Melt butter and mix with crumbs. Press crumb mixture in to 8×8 pan. Add rice krispies, nuts and chips in layers. Do not mix. Drizzle condensed milk on top. Bake for 25 minutes, cool in fridge and cut.

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The weather as of late thrills me. My turtleneck sweaters have emerged (everyone loves a girl in a tight turtleneck) and the knee high boots are in heavy rotation. I have bid a happy adieu to white wines and have cracked open the Bordeaux. I drifted off to sleep last night with the window open, huddled under my heavy comforter, rubbing my feet together as the rain tickled my window. Even the persistent wetness of my pant cuffs cannot bring me down.

I only wish I could have made this pear and blackberry cobbler this week in the cooler weather. It just was not quite the same in oppressive heat of last week, but I am not complaining. I made this at my friend WiseOne’s house while she prepared a fantastic meal. After weeks of trying to get together with WiseOne and my other friend, Makeout Bandit, we finally (finally, finally) scheduled a dinner party. My free labor was employed and this desert was the outcome. It is everything you could really want in a cobbler; sweet but not cloying, warm and homey. I also love how the fruit is dumped on top of the batter; this is virtually idiot proof. WiseOne found the recipe; a few tweaks were made but this was an excellent choice on her part.

A note on the photo: This is what happens when three girls plow through three bottles of wine. At the time we considered ourselves ourselves photographic visionaries; I now see it as a bit of a cluttered mess. I adore this photo and it’s forced autumnal theme.

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Pear Blackberry Cobbler

Adapted from Bon Appetit

3 cups frozen blackberries (about 15 ounces; do not thaw)
1 1/2 large pears, halved, cored, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
2/3 cup plus 3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons dry red wine
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon plus additional for sprinkling

1 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Shake of cinnamon

Powdered sugar
Vanilla ice cream (optional, but awesome)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 2 1/2- quart baking dish with 2-inch-high sides. Gently toss berries, pears, 2/3 cup sugar, wine, peel, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in medium bowl.

Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, and remaining 3/4 cup sugar in another medium bowl. Add milk, melted butter, almond extract and cinnamon; whisk until blended. Spread batter in prepared dish. Place berry-pear mixture atop batter (do not stir). Sprinkle with additional cinnamon.

Bake cobbler until crust is set in center and brown at edges, about 1 hour. Cool 30 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar; serve warm with ice cream, if desired.

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In college, my friends diagnosed me with a syndrome they dubbed “the rage”. The rage is something I have suffered from almost my whole life, an affliction that shakes those in my path.

It works something like this: I cannot find something or I royally screw something up or I am trapped in a situation. Suddenly, a switch will flip and I go from 0 to 60 in about 2.2 seconds, shouting profanities and pacing back and forth. Sometimes, there is slamming of doors and my (wimpy) fist on a hard surface. I have become fairly adept at keeping it together in my later years–silently stewing inside while the rage threatens to bubble out–but those who know me can see I am about to boil over. A lot of times it involves me rummaging on my floor screaming “Where are my f’ing black stilettos?”as I violently launch things around the room in my quest for the missing footwear. Some instances of rage that are particularly memorable: writing a paper on the WRONG WAR in my American Studies class freshman year, the washer/dryer eating my money at my apartment complex halfway through a load, and a Puerto Rican accordion troupe pushing me to the brink at a San Juan airport. I look utterly ridiculous when this happens, but I can barely control it. Many laughs are stifled by friends and family.

The rage has gotten better as I have matured and it is rarely focused on anyone but myself. I just get pissed when I screw myself over. That being said, if someone has witnessed a rageful scenario, it is reasonable they may fear they will come in my scopes some day. So, when I returned from the gym Monday night to see Annie Birdie waiting for me nervously, with hesitation, I knew something was up.

Before leaving for the gym, I asked her to pull my chicken breasts out of the oven when the buzzer beeped. She somehow got distracted by her phone–I’d like to think discussing a solution to world hunger with the President because what is more important than my chicken–and never heard the oven beep. So, when I came home I was confronted with some very well done chicken. It had shrunk to half it’s size, was a nasty brown color and possessed a weird, crispy, hardened layer. She was thoroughly apologetic, but she learned a vital lesson about me: I will always be more angry with myself than someone else. I actually wasn’t much pissed at all, just a little out of sorts because my plan for the evening was foiled.

Any minor annoyance I may have felt was smoothed over with many “hot nuts” jokes when I threw together this curry chicken salad. Like most of my recipes, this is heavily open to individual interpretation. I just grabbed some stuff at the store and threw in a bunch of things hanging in the pantry. Some other ingredients that could be substituted/added are almonds, diced peppers, crasins, celery, scallions, pears, dried cherries, etc… These measurements are all estimates, easily tinkered to suit individual taste. Poaching the chicken–something that occurred to me after the great Annie Birdie Disaster of 2007–makes a huge difference as it keeps the chicken extremely moist. The curry is the real key–it adds punch and a welcome change of pace.

Just keep one eye on the stove while making this…

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Curry Chicken Salad

A Lemmonex Original

5 chicken tenders or 2 breasts

2 cups water (I used 1/2 water 1/2 chicken broth to preserve some flavor)

3 Tablespoons walnuts

1 granny smith apple

3 Tablespoons raisins

2 Tablespoons currants

2 Tablespoons onions, finely diced

1 Tablespoon curry powder

2 1/2 Tablespoons fat free mayo

Salt and pepper

Poach chicken in salted water (or broth/water combo) until cooked (about 8 minutes with the tenders). As chicken poaches, toast nuts and chop when cooled. Dice apples and onions. In bowl, mix nuts, onions, apples, currants, and raisins. When chicken cools, add chop and add the nut/apple mixture. Add mayo, curry, salt and pepper and mix.

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My parents mercifully divorced when I was 12-years-old, which set off a chain of events that have shaped the person I am today. Without a doubt, I would be drunker, sluttier, and fatter if they were still together, so the divorce gave me a semi-shot at normalcy. I can never thank my mother enough for the courage it took to leave that marriage.

As my mother, brother and I attempted to salvage ourselves from the wreckage, we set out on the unenviable task of selling our house. This house was filled with a decade of memories: art projects loving saved, report cards archived and every toy placed in the basement. I fully admit that I am a slob, something my mother needles me endlessly about, but I know I inherited some of these tendencies from her. This woman saved every damn spelling test LittleBrother and I ever took; they filled boxes upon boxes, shelf after shelf. My mother held on to all of our baby teeth, which I unearthed when I was 10; only then would she admit that there was no such thing as the Tooth Fairy. Clearly, pack-rat-itis is a trait passed down from generation to generation.

When we finally put the house up for sale, of course the market was in the tank. It sat for months and months and desperation grew. My mother finally hired a big time real estate agent in hopes of unloading the burden of a house we could no longer make the mortgage on. The agent probably cost more than we could afford, but it was desperate times, and she was a pro. Regular open houses were finally taking place and a constant stream of strangers moved through.

Before one important open house, my mother threw together a simple applesauce in a crock pot in an attempt to fill the house with a smell other than wet dog. We busied ourselves for a few hours and returned to the house, which suspiciously lacked any apple scent. The real estate agent, an ample woman, had torn through a whole crock pot of applesauce. My mother was incensed, this being the final straw in a year full of indignities. The real estate agent finally sold the house, but from that day forward, my mother could not speak of her without mentioning this affront.

Like my mother, I never forget a transgression and I still think of this every time I make applesauce. In an attempt to force fall, I whipped up some rustic applesauce this weekend. You haven’t had applesauce until you have had it warm, straight from the stove top. It just feels so damn wholesome and American and tastes perfect. After the (fun and filled with great new people) DC Blogger Happy Hour, where I showed a whole new group that I put the “ass” in class, a dinner of porkchops and applesauce felt downright Puritanical. One of my favorite things about making applesauce is you are only limited by your imagination; it can be simple or ornate, sweet or potent. Below is what I threw together this time, but cloves would be great, as would adding some cranberries or orange.

It’s almost impossible to stop yourself from eating the whole pot.

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Rustic Applesauce

A Lemmonex Original

5 fiji apples, peeled and diced into ½” cubes

½ cup water

Juice of ½ lemon

3 strips of lemon peel (use a vegetable peeler)

1 cinnamon stick

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 pinch ground ginger

1 ½ Tablespoons white sugar

2 Tablespoons packed brown sugar

Throw all ingredients in a sauce pan and cook over medium-low heat for 1 hour, occasionally mashing with a fork or potato masher, but still leaving chunks of apple. Pluck out cinnamon stick and serve.

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Modern Day Philosophies

Three personal philosophies have never failed me:           

            1. Timeliness is next to Godliness

            2. When in doubt, show more cleavage

            3. Cheese makes everything better

Philosophies 1 and 2 deserve much further discussion, particularly number 2, but I am feeling classy today, so the topic of discussion shall be cheese. (I will say this to every boy who made fun of my 12-year-old D cups: “How do you like me now?” If only I could speak to my tortured adolescent self…)

I honestly think that you could slather woodchips in melted gruyere and I would not question this culinary decision for a second.  I have met several people in my life who are strong members of the anti-cheese camp, and it just boggles the mind.  Cheddar and manchego are diametric opposites, as are parmesan and havarti.  This is just pure laziness on the account of the individual and it irks me to my core. Turning away cheese is like turning away free Springsteen tickets; why would any sane person do this?

Goat cheese is given a rare opportunity to shine in the recipe that follows.  Usually relegated to salads or crackers, this tart cheese shines on top of a simple chicken breast.  Taking only 20 minutes to prepare start to finish, this once again proves my point that meals don’t have to come from a drive thru to be quick. I made this with Irish Lebowski’s help last week and finishing the bottle of wine was our favorite part. 

Hopefully philosophies 1 and 2 will hold as steadfast in the future.

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Chicken with Goat Cheese Sauce

Adapted from Cooking Light

4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup (2 ounces) soft (log-style) goat cheese with herbs

Place each chicken breast half between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; pound to 1/2-inch thickness using a meat mallet or rolling pin. Sprinkle chicken evenly with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add chicken; cook 6 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm.

Add wine to pan; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Cook until mixture is reduced to 1 tablespoon (about 1 minute). Add broth; cook until mixture is reduced to 1/2 cup (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat.

Add cheese to pan; stir with a whisk until smooth. Serve sauce over chicken.

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The path to my blog addiction was born out of boredom at work. A friend innocently passed on a celeb gossip site to me about two years ago and a beast was created. The daily visits to this site were not enough and the slow updates bored me…I abandoned it for much greener gossip blog pastures.

But a gal can only take so much gossip. I found the now departed DC blog “Kathryn On” and it shut down a few months later. Isn’t this always the way? It did lead me to the usual local suspects, and hours filled with laughs, slight shock and even a friend. Things snowballed from there, and between local bloggers, makeup blogs (a secret dream of mine is to indulge my creative side and become a make up artist), gems from out of town and just general randomness, blogs became a time consuming obsession.

I finally found my blog bliss when I fell into the cooking blog world. Smitten Kitchen was the holy grail, but many others followed. Cooking is something I love! And something that I actually posess talent in! These places on the interweb spoke to me. It was home. Without all these blogs, I never would have learned that October 14th was “National Chocolate Covered Insect Day” (I cannot make this up) or that we are currently in the midst of “National Chili Month“.

The knowledge of all these food holidays, the unbearable weight of so many recipes to try, is your windfall. In celebration of National Chili Month, I adapted a chicken white bean chili for “Healthy Lunch Tuesday”. The main adaptations include using cooking spray instead of oil, fat free half-and-half in lieu of full fat cream and all white meat. It is a shame you cannot see the pale green flecks from the green chilis that run through this hearty meal in the photo; they are beautiful. This is all the flavorful, meatiness of a chili without an ounce of the guilt.

Who knew addiction could be so fruitful?

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White Bean Chicken Chili

Adapted from Wine Skinny

Cooking spray

1 large onion, chopped

5 large garlic cloves, chopped

1½ tablespoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper, or more to taste

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast,tenders, etc, cut into 1-inch pieces

3 15-ounce cans cannellini beans (white kidney beans), rinsed

8 ounces chicken broth, fat free and low sodium

7-ounce canned diced green chilies, drained

1/2 cup fat free half-and-half

Grated cheddar cheese and chopped fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)

Spray large heated pan. Add onion, garlic, cumin, oregano and dried red pepper. Sauté 5 minutes. Season chicken with salt and pepper and add to pan. Sauté an additional 5 minutes.

Drain beans; reserving 1/2 cup bean liquid. Add beans, broth, chilies, half and half, and reserved bean liquid to chicken. Simmer until chicken is tender and cooked through, about 10-15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle chili into serving bowls. Top with cheese and sprinkle with cilantro, if desired.

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“I did something really disgusting and please don’t judge me”, said DJ Jazzy K over drinks a few weeks ago.

I prepared myself for some abomination, a crime against God.  His face indicated this was going to be a truly hideous admission.

“Well, someone dared me to make an egg sandwich using Texas French toast as the bread…and I did it.  And it was really good”.

To which I said, “Uh, that sounds kind of awesome”.

As I have said here before, I have found myself enjoying some seriously disgusting assaults against food humanity.  Now, I know eating more than one of those sandwiches in his lifetime will probably kill my friend, but he lived to see another day.  I wish I had been there to take a bite. 

The pecan pumpkin cheesecake at Cheesecake Factory is number one on my list of foods that are so wrong, they are right.  It is a pie crust with pecan pie on the bottom layer and then pumpkin cheesecake sitting on top.  It is the dirty love child of Thanksgiving deserts.  Say what you will about Cheesecake Factory, but this piece of pie stops my world on its axis.

It is a tough call, but the pecan pie component is the best element of this pie. It is sweet, chewy and rib sticking.  My aunt made a fantastic pecan pie when I was a kid and I have always held a special place in my heart for them.  When I was invited to a late season BBQ the other day, I knew I had to make something with pecans.

Have you ever tasted heaven?  I have and the recipe is below.  These pecan pie bars once again remind me why I bake; I just will never be as excited about a piece of chicken as I am about these.  The base is comprised of a brown sugar shortbread, buttery and a touch salty.  The pecan pie-like filling is made with honey (instead of the usual corn syrup), a nice change of pace.  It was hard letting these cool enough to cut (it takes more than an hour) but it was well worth the wait. These are sin on a plate. 

If eating these is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

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Pecan Pie Bars

From Epicurious

Base

1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350.

Cut butter into 1/2-inch pieces. In a food processor process all ingredients until mixture begins to form small lumps. (This can also be done with a hand mixer.  It may becoming more doughy, but it is fine to press it into the pan.) Sprinkle mixture into a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan and with a metal spatula press evenly onto bottom. Bake shortbread in middle of oven until golden, about 20 minutes. While shortbread is baking, prepare topping.

Topping

8 ounces pecans (about 2 cups)
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a food processor or with a knife, coarsely chop pecans. In a heavy saucepan melt butter and stir in brown sugar, honey, and cream. Simmer mixture, stirring occasionally, 1 minute and stir in pecans. Pour pecan mixture over hot shortbread and spread evenly. Bake in middle of oven until bubbling, about 20 minutes. Cool completely in pan and cut into 24 bars. Bar cookies keep, covered, 5 days at room temperature.

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I met Irish Lebowski when we moved in together immediately following college.  We lived in a house with two other women. One, Jawsy, was nice, personable, but often busy with all her classwork for Med School. She was the ideal roomie and we keep in touch to this day.

But the other woman? Oh, I am sure living with her was punishment for all the horrible things I have put my mother through.  Quickly dubbed Sister Christian (stolen from Aunt Lifesaver) this woman became the bane of my existence.  She was the living manifestation of every typical roommate nightmare: lazy, always around and seemingly unable to replace toilet paper.  This was all topped off by religious sanctimony and an insistence that we hang a picture of Dali’s “Last Supper” in the living room.  I told her that was fine as long as she saved space for my “My Body. My Choice” sign I got at a NARAL rally.  This seemed to give her pause and I think Irish herself finally nipped this all in the bud by just moving the picture back into Sister Christian’s room.  Irish 1: Jesus 0.

The first couple weeks in the house, I did the best I could to keep my opinions on Sister Christian to myself.  Then, it finally happened; the day I had been waiting for.  Irish approached me one day in the kitchen and asked, “So, what do you think of Sister Christian?”

I paused, hemmed and hawed and finally went for it, “I think she sucks”.

And when Irish responded with “me too!” a beautiful friendship was born.

Joined together by a common enemy,  we became like two peas in a pod when we were home.  We initiated “OC” night, where we ate bread and brie as we screamed along to the “OC” theme song.  Every time I hear Phantom Planets “California” I remember Irish and I belting “heeeere weeee cooooommme” on the top of our lungs.  She has become a great friend and if I had to live with Sister Christian to find Irish, this is a price I gladly paid.  I was honored when she asked me to be in her wedding and as an added bonus, I like her husband a lot too. She may love TV even more than I do, and I fully appreciate her snarky streak.  I can always count on her for advice and comfort. She was over at my house within minutes, tissue box in hand, when I called her with a broken heart last year.  She is a good egg.

One thing that has bonded us has been food.  Before her wedding, we decided to lose weight together and we both did a great job.  She looked hot in her dress and I looked hot enough to make out with an usher.  But, damn, did we have fun gaining the weight. I was already heavy to begin with, but we certainly enabled each other.  There was the aforementioned brie and cheese,  cookie dough in tubes, and piles of pasta. But the thing we liked the most?  Armand’s Pizza, delicious deep dish pizza, with cheese an inch thick, that I lovingly refer to as “the gut bomb”. We would tear through those pizzas with wreckless abandon.   I think the bottle of vodka we were powering through on a bi-weekly basis helped it all go down a bit easier, too. Her now-husband was living in another city and I had an awful job…those blue bottles of SKYY were a shining light of hope in a dark, dark world.

This pizza crust recipe comes from Irish.  It tastes great and the quick rise yeast makes it easy to prepare.  The original recipe calls for all white flour. To make it a tad more filling, make it a smidge healthier and give it a nuttier taste, I did half white flour, half whole wheat flour.  I topped it with caramelized onions and gorgonzola cheese, much to Irish’s dismay.  Irish hates onions. (By the way, have you ever tried to cook for someone who doesn’t like onions? This limitation tests my abilities.) The onions and cheese are a perfect combination. This crust is a good one to have in the arsenal, for the topping combinations are endless and it can even be used to make a calzone.

I raise my slice to Irish.

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Caramelized Onion and Gorgonzola Pizza

Pizza Crust

1 packet active dry rapid-rise yeast

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 c whole wheat flour

1 1/4 c lukewarm water (105 to 115 degrees F)

1 1/2 t honey

1 t salt

1 T olive oil

Toppings

Olive oil

4 large onions

Gorgonzola cheese (as much as you like)

Salt and Pepper

Slice onions thinly.  Heat large pot and add oil (about 2 T).  Throw onions in, stirring occasionally.  This will look like a lot of onions, but as they caramelize and wilt, the mass decreases.  Do not add salt, as the onions will sweat instead of getting golden brown. This step takes about 35 minutes.

Preheat oven to 500°.

While onions cook, dissolve honey in the warm waster. Mix together all purpose flour with yeast, salt, water with honey dissolved in it, and olive oil. Beat with electric hand mixer for 3 minutes.  Mix in remaining flour (dough should only be slightly stick). Knead 5 minutes on a  floured surface until smooth.

Place dough in lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise
for 10 minutes in a warm place.   Punch down dough thoroughly and spread/stretch dough by hand and roller on a greased cookie sheet. (I didn’t roll it…just stretched) 

Top pizza with olive oil, salt, pepper, then pile on onions and sprinkle gorgonzola on top. Bake in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes or until crust is golden brown.  Cool 2-3 minutes.

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For all the hating I do on vegetarians, I fell compelled to admit that I did, in fact, go through a stage where I did not eat red meat.  I could never bring myself to abandon chicken, but I made a valiant effort, as only a 13-year-old carry out, to forgo animal product.

I don’t know why I decided to give up red meat, but I believe it had something to do with my friend, Cupcake.  I found her to be exceptionally witty and charismatic and I wanted to emulate her.  Like I said, I was 13; it is a time in any young woman’s life where she wants to be anybody but herself. Apparently, to be like Cupcake meant giving up my beloved steak.

This was a major point of contention and source of annoyance to my family, but they humored me.  My red meat aversion lasted all the way through high school, until I left for college.  Faced with the poor choices in the food court upon arriving at GW, I abandoned all my principals for a Whopper at the Burger King in the Marvin Center. I believe this decision still pains my father–who had to work around my dietary restrictions-to this day, but that greasy monstrosity was worth it, even though it made me violently ill. (Now might be a good time for me to once again mention the following: I have many close veggie friends, I respect their opinions, I see their points in many ways, but we agree to disagree.)

My love affair with beef, especially steak, still carries on.  Though I eat chicken breasts several times a week as a matter of convenience and health, my heart will always be with steak.  I will never understand people who claim it is too heavy or say it wreaks havoc on their systems. It is meat, people: you should feel it in the pit of your stomach and it feels good. 

This weeks “Healthy Lunch Tuesday” is based on steak, and it could not make me happier that something good for me contains beef.  It is super simple-almost too simple-but a good recipe to have up your sleeve. I marinated a top round steak (though I admit flank steak is a better option, they were out of flanks) for 5 hours, grilled it, threw it on top of some spinach, tomatoes, and onions and called it a day.  I have been using a very light dressing and eating this meal without an ounce of guilt. I did lose track of time and wish the meat were a tad rarer, but as long as it is not well done, I can deal with it. If this were a dinner salad, I would through some gorgonzola and toasted pine nuts on top, but I am trying to avoid those heavy additions with my lunches.  I have used this marinade at BBQs multiple times and always get asked for the recipe.  The recipe is something that has evolved over the years and has now become my own. I find it incredibly convenience to throw together as most of these things can always be found in my kitchen.  It has never failed me.

Not that steak could ever fail me…

steak-salad.jpg

Never Fail Steak Marinade

A Lemonnex Original

Ground pepper

2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon dried thyme

2 tablespoons chopped shallot

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons brown sugar, light or dark

2 tablespoons Worchester sauce

¼ cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil

Grind pepper liberally on steak.  Mix remaining ingredients together, whisking in oil last.  Marinate for at least three hours (up to 24). Bring steak to room temperature and grill. Let sit for 5 minutes before slicing and serve over salad. 

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