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Archive for January, 2008

Self Defense

So, I don’t apologize for anything on this blog, nor do I make any concessions to make people happy.

For all of you that emailed me/gchatted me/mocked me to my face about my NKOTB love?   I say you can suck it.

Right, this blog is supposed to be about food.  Well, Jordan knight was FOOD FOR MY SOUL for two years.

I am just kidding. I love you all…except I-66.  Play nice, brother.

Tomorrow: stuffed peppers with cous cous. No mention of NKOTB.

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Please go to NKOTB.COM right now.

Go ahead…I will wait for you.

Y’all. The New Kids. They are reuniting. I am so excited I can barely function. I have already convinced Cinderella to see them no matter the price (not that she really needed much convincing…)

A new song plays on the site and a very important question flashes up at the end: “Are you ready?” Yes, Jordan, Joey, Danny, Donny and Jon– I am ready.

It is kismet that they are reuniting, as they have been on a constant loop in the privacy of my room the past month and a half. I think I have just been looking for some comfort lately and nothing is more comforting than the heavenly sound of Jordan’s falsetto.

Comfort comes in a lot of ways: a loyal friend reassuring you, an old sweat shirt, a horribly cheesy movie. This meal is another way. Here is the thing-it isn’t revolutionary. It is a basic, warm, homey meal that can easily be thrown together for a healthy week night dinner (or in my case, along with last weeks cake to cancel out some of the caloric damage.) I used dried sage instead of fresh, because though I am a huge proponent of fresh herbs, one teaspoon is not enough for me to buy a packet if I don’t have any use for it in the future. Along with some peas, a healthier meal cannot be had.

And it comes with a healthy heap of comfort.

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Chicken Thighs with Apples and Garlic

Adapted from Cooking Light

Ingredients

5 cups chopped peeled Braeburn apple (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage or 1/2 teaspoon dry sage
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
Cooking spray
8 chicken thighs (about 2 pounds), boneless and skinned
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Chopped parsley (optional)

Preheat oven to 475°.Combine first 5 ingredients. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt; toss well to coat. Spread apple mixture on a jelly roll pan coated with cooking spray.Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper, and arrange on top of the apple mixture. Bake at 475° for 25 minutes or until chicken is done and apple is tender. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm.Partially mash apple mixture with a potato masher, and serve with chicken. Sprinkle with parsley, if desired.

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Folks, if I were a lesser person, I would be using this space right now to publicly humiliate someone, a grade A douchebag who was almost castrated by yours truly this weekend. But, I am better than that and a true believer in karma. Every douchebag gets his day…

Weekends like this remind me that I am one lucky gal, with friends who I could not love more. This Valentine’s Day, I choose to spend the day with my girl friends; the people who really love me.

So, friends of the internet, where should we go? Today, I turn to you for help. Give me something to look forward to…

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On Kindness

I spent the summer of 2005 in a catatonic heap, defeated and broken. I was homeless after a shitty breakup and reeling from the brute force of the emotional blow. I spent the better part of a month willing myself to my lunch break so I could go cry in the bathroom. The 5th floor bathroom of the Hart Senate building was stained in my tears.

Through all this misery, my friend, the Divine Miss O, stood there and rubbed my back and patiently reassured me it would be ok. We were already growing close before Summer Hellfest 2005, but this time in my life solidified our friendship. She was always kind, never condescending, patient even in my moments of utter ridiculousness, and steadfastly compassionate. I don’t think I can ever fully explain how much faith she restored in me that summer. I remember one morning sobbing in to a fritatta her equally awesome husband had lovingly prepared for me; I don’t know how they didn’t smack me silly with a hot frying pan. It was all a bit dramatic, but very real to me at the time.

This weekend I went to visit both of the Os and their new baby, DarlingO. If you heard a humming in your ear this Saturday, it was the buzz of my uterus. Folks, I believe I ovulated as she peacefully slept on my chest. A more beautiful baby has never been born, nor are there many babies in world as lucky as her; her parents are the best of the best. My one hope for her is to know how good she got it right from the start.

Never one to go empty handed, I brought these chipotle pork meatballs for the lovely little family to enjoy. They both love spice and bacon, so, really there was not much of a question when I saw this recipe. The original recipe calls for two cans of chilis, but unless you are a masochist, I would advise against it. These were pretty spicy with just one can in the sauce. I upped the garlic levels and reduced the beef stock for a thicker sauce. If you don’t have a food processor, dice the bacon really fine and it will be just as good, though a bit chunkier. The Os tell me these were great on rolls with swiss cheese; I think that is a genius idea.

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Chipotle Pork Meatballs

Adapted from Simply Recipes

3 slices bacon in 1-inch pieces
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 large eggs
1/2 cup bread crumbs
Salt
1 ¼ pounds ground pork
1/2 cup (loosely packed) coarsely chopped mint leaves, more for garnish
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (preferably fire-roasted), drained of all but ¼ cup juice
1 can chipotle chilies in adobo, stemmed, seeded and sauce reserved
1 teaspoon dried oregano
About 1 cup beef

1 Heat oven to 450 degrees. In a food processor, combine bacon and 1 garlic clove. Process until finely chopped. Add eggs, bread crumbs and 1 teaspoon salt. Pulse several times to combine thoroughly, then add pork and mint. Pulse a few more times until well combined but not a paste. Remove meat from processor.
2 With wet hands, form meat into about 16 plum-size balls and space them out in a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Bake until lightly browned, about 15 minutes.
3 While meatballs bake, combine tomatoes, ¼ cup tomato juice, chipotles, 1 to 2 tablespoons chipotle sauce, oregano, remaining garlic cloves (cut in half) and ½ teaspoon salt in a blender or food processor. Process to a smooth purée.
4 When meatballs are ready, spoon off rendered fat from baking dish, then pour tomato mixture on top, covering meatballs evenly. Bake until sauce has thickened somewhat, 15 to 20 minutes.
5 Heat broth in a small saucepan. Divide meatballs among four dinner plates, leaving sauce behind. Stir enough broth into sauce to give it a spoonable consistency. Taste and season with salt, if necessary. Spoon sauce over meatballs, decorate with extra mint leaves, if you wish, and serve.Serves four.

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I have a new love in my life. He is so…smooth and shiny…big and powerful…I have never felt a love this intense. My love is so true, it damn near makes a miracle.

I bought a MacBook. He performs like a real man.

Of course, I am waiting until this weekend to fully set it up. Sunshine has graciously offered to do all the file transfers and installation for the price of one meal. I obliged, even if it does mean cooking vegetarian on one of the most important days of my life.

Did I mention I bought a new camera, too? The anticipation is nearly killing me.

To celebrate a new love, a girl must make some cake. And this cake? This cake…oh this cake. It is everything a woman could ask for and more. The cake had a nice crumb and and intense butter flavor and the frosting is essentially a melted chocolate bar. Aunt LifeSaver bought me a full blown cake decorating kit and “The Cake Bible” for Christmas, one of my favorite foodie gifts this year. This virgin foray in to higher end cakes was a smashing success.

But I could never love this cake as much as the new man in my life…

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All-Occasion Downy Yellow Butter Cake

From “The Cake Bible” by Rose Levy Beranbaum

6 large egg yolks
1 cup milk
2 1/4 teaspoons vanilla (use pure or paste…not a time to skimp)
3 cups sifted cake flour (use all purpose if you cannot find cake flour)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon + teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (must be softened)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl lightly combine the yolks, 1/4 cup milk, and vanilla.

In a large mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds to blend. Add the butter and the remaining 3/4 cup milk. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed (high speed if using a hand mixer) and beat for 1 1/2 minutes to aerate and develop the cake’s structure. Scrape down the sides. Gradually add the egg mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Scrape down the sides.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surface with a spatula. The pans will be about 1/2 full. Bake 25 to 35 minutes or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center. The cakes should start to shrink from the sides of the pans only after removal from the oven.

Let the cakes cool in the pan on racks for 10 minutes. Loosen the sides with a small metal spatula and invert onto greased wire racks.

Milk Chocolate Buttercream

1 pound milk chocolate

1/2 pound bittersweet chocolate

12 ounces unsalted butter, softened

Put chocolate chips/chunks/smashed bits of chocolate into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave at 15 second intervals, taking it out to stir every time. Remove before fully melted, allowing residual heat to melt the chips. Using a hand beater, beatin butter until smooth and blended.

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Cheled-ewww….

I just stumbled across this.

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There are really no words.

I’ll throw this one out to the crowd: under what circumstances would your drink this?

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Like just about every other snarky blogger, I am generally adverse to the concept of the new year’s resolution. If one feels a need to make changes, they should make them when the need for change arises. So, I guess the point of this is to tell you how superior I am to all you weaklings that made resolutions. I am absolutely perfect and there is nothing I need to change…

Um…yes. That’s it.

Really, I just want to do a little virtual jig and savor a moment of triumph. A few months back, I posted a vow to waste less food. The fact that I have actually managed to do this pleases me to no end. Sure, a few leftovers have been pitched, but I have gotten worlds better. Those half onions have been used, partially emptied cans of stock have been incorporated into recipes and improvised meals have been thrown together with various odds and ends. Hooray for small triumphs! I take them where I can.

This recipe is a perfect example of this vow in action. I had a few overly ripe bananas hanging around as well as a quart of milk in the fridge I knew I would never finish before it spoiled. Some searches yielded this banana bread oatmeal recipe, a much healthier and original option than the banana bread I was about to concede to making. The nuts in the recipe create a great texture and the milk adds nutrients and flavor that water, the usual liquid in oatmeal, cannot. I received some vanilla paste for Christmas I have been itching to use and this recipe called for it; something as simple and homey as oatmeal deserves such pure flavor.

And yes…that is a Le Creuset dutch oven that my oatmeal is cooking in. Aunt LifeSaver read about my desire for one and handed an extra off to me. (Yes, she had more than one…) Seriously people, this pot is just one reason out of 7,836 why she is the best.aunt.ever. I like to think this new addition to my kitchen is just a little bit of karmic payback for my changed ways.

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Banana Bread Oatmeal

Adapted from Cooks Recipes

3 cups fat-free milk
3 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I eyeballed–go for more if you are a cinnamon person)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (eyeballed)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups Quaker® Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
2 medium-size ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped toasted pecans

In medium saucepan, bring milk, brown sugar, spices and salt to a gentle boil (watch carefully); stir in oats. Return to a boil; reduce heat to medium. Cook 1 minute for quick oats, 5 minutes for old fashioned oats, or until most of liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally.Remove oatmeal from heat. Stir in mashed bananas and pecans. Spoon oatmeal into six cereal bowls. Top with yogurt, sliced bananas and pecan halves, if desired.

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