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Archive for February, 2009

My Way

One of the best things in this world is when you manage to convince people you are doing them a favor but in actuality this kindness comes from a place of self interest.

“Your legs look so pretty in heels” really means “Those freaking Uggs were searing my corneas and if I had to look at them for one more moment I might have vomitted”.

Or when I say “You should totally go on a date with him; he seems like a great guy!” what I am really getting at is “If I have to entertain your sorry, pathetic ass for another Friday night I may shoot myself.”

And “Let me make us all dinner before we go out” is my special way of saying “You need some food in your system because I sure as hell am not going to be the one to hold your hair back in about 4 hours.”

Really, it is all about me.

Last Friday, before the blogger happy hour, I had Maxie and Deutlich over and I told them I would treat them to some food while we threw back. Now , I did want to feed the girls–this is what a gracious host does and at my core I am a nurture caretaker–but I would being lying if I was trying to lay a good foundation for them. They seemed ready for a good time– a very good time– and I didn’t want any nonsense on my hands.

The happy hour that night was a blast even if Arjewtino picked the worst spot in the place and I spent the sum of the evening freezing in my teeny, tiny dress. (I know some of you might be thinking, “She should have dressed more appropriately” to which I counter “Clearly, we have not met”.) I want to thank all of you for coming out and I am sorry if I was not entirely on top of my game. My brain was frozen. It was a pleasure meeting all of you…really.

This is the dinner I made for the lovely ladies before me and my breasts braved the arctic chill of Marvin. Aren’t you just a little but jealous? Hell, I made it and I think I deserve a slap on the ass for this one. I pasted a recipe below from Emeril that is perfect to work from; it does reflect most of the changes I made. I am going to say it; I think this adapted recipe is better than Emeril’s. I, perhaps, kicked it up a notch? I added basil to the recipe (the original didn’t call for it), messed with the proportions and removed a lot of the liquid. I like a thicker, heartier sauce and I see no need for beef broth in this so I took it out. I didn’t really measure anything–from the carrots, to the wine, down to the garlic–but that is the perfect thing about this recipe…it is pretty fool proof. Before anyone asks…no, there is no way to “lighten this up”. I just don’t think it would be anywhere near as good with ground turkey or soy crumbles or without the bacon. Yes, I said it…I think the bacon makes a big difference here; it adds a depth of flavor and a smokiness that is essential. Just eat a salad the next day, hop on the treadmill, and do your best to embrace the temporary jiggle this will add to your wiggle. It is worth it. This was kick ass good and I can not encourage you more to try this for yourself; you, your guests and God him/herself will be so happy.

So, yes, we were full, happy and no one puked. It was a win for everyone.

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Classic Bolognese

Adapted from Emeril Lagasse

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 ounces bacon or pancetta, diced (I just used four strips)
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
3/4 cup diced carrots
3/4 cup diced celery
1 tablespoon minced garlic (a couple cloves)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1.5 pounds ground beef
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup red wine
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can crushed tomatoes and their juice
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can tomato sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream ( I used fat free half and half)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Pasta…I like fettucine…

Directions

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring, until browned and the fat is rendered, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the onions, carrots and celery and cook, stirring, until soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, salt, pepper, bay leaves, thyme, oregano, basil, cinnamon, and nutmeg and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the beef and cook, stirring, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring, to deglaze the pan and remove any browned bits sticking to the bottom of the pan, and until half of the liquid is evaporated, about 2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and their juices, the tomato sauce, and sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, to keep the sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pan, until the sauce is thickened and flavorful, about 1 1/2 hours. Add the cream and butter stir well, and simmer for 2 minutes. Discard the bay leaves and adjust the seasoning, to taste. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm until ready to serve.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and return the water to a low boil. Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent the noodles from sticking, until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain in a colander.

Add the pasta to the sauce, tossing to coat. Add 1/2 cup of the cheese and toss to blend. Divide among pasta bowls and serve with the cheese passed tableside.

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Please, please tell me (if you know me in real life) that I don’t always scratch my head like that. I really hope it is some sort of nervous tick I developed for about 3 seconds. God, that is unattractive.

Fret not, I will be posting a (really great) recipe tomorrow. This was supposed to go up tomorrow hence the “have a great weekend”, but some technical difficulties are holding things up. Sorry for two softballs in a row, but I think Jesus is smiting me. I had several “I am an atheist” conversations yesterday…on Ash Wednesday. Look, you ask me what I am giving up for Lent and I am gonna give you the what what.

And you are right…I am wearing my gym clothes.  Nothing is too good for you guys.  You know you love a woman in a sports bra.

*The song in the background is “Lovelight” by Robbie Williams.

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Estrogen Explosion

The lovely brookem asked me to guest post for her while she is out of town.  I jumped at the chance to write something without the safety net of a recipe or a restaurant review.

As I am a deep individual, I decided to write my post about makeup.  Men, I can hearing you running away; its cool.  Sure, it isn’t really pushing myself, but sometimes girls just want to have fun.

Go check it out. Thanks to brookem for asking me and you all for visiting.

Back to our regularly scheduled programming tomorrow.

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Burn Out

dscn0564The Oscars are over and I know the world was talking about it yesterday but it is only today that I can summon the personal strength and inner courage to discuss it.

I cannot believe Mickey Rourke lost to Sean Penn.  Look, I know Mr. Rourke should just be happy to finally have work again, that he should be basking in his critical acclaim.  Also, as my friend Waspy Wasperson astutely observed on Sunday night, he already had a comeback a few years back with “Sin City”…but pointing that out kinda of ruins the Comeback Kid element of “The Wrestler”.  I was wicked pissed, though. I really thought “Milk” was a disappointment.  Sure, Penn was decent, but he couldn’t touch Rourke with a ten foot pole. I promised Irish Lebowski and Waspy that I wouldn’t burn their apartment down if he lost, but I did manage to knock my soda over in protest.

There was some good, happy, fuzzy feelings during the Oscars despite the Academy’s attempts to break me. Some of these feeling can even be attributed to the show, not the full box of Tagalongs in front of me as I sat on the couch. I loved Marisa Tomei’s whole look.  I found Tina Fey smoking hot in that silver dress; I am glad she finally tried another color other than black and also proved, once again that funny women can also be sexy as hell.  I was charmed by a few of the acceptance speeches.  Even though I found the opening montage a bit much, I could not help but smile every time Wolverine came on screen.

dscn0570The one thing I didn’t really “get” was the “Pineapple Express” spoof for the comedy package.  Though I can admit I chuckled a bit, I just really did not like the movie.  I mean, sure, it is not the epically bad “Milk Money“, but I just was not entertained.  The last scene seemed to last an eternity and the humor just didn’t resonate with me.  They weren’t lovable losers, they were just…losers. Why didn’t I get this?  We all know I can have the humor of a  14-year-old boy.  Is it because I don’t smoke/like pot?   Seriously, someone try to make me get this movie in a way that doesn’t end with me smoking a joint.  (A doobie? A roach? What are you kids calling it?)

The only thing I “get” about pot is it gives you an excuse to eat some really crappy/delicious foods.  I have a friend who would pick all the marshmallows out of a box of Lucky Charms when high.  This is something I can get behind but I don’t think I need to partake in illicit substances to eat total garbage.  I mean, I made a cake in a mug in the microwave, people.  Oh, yeah…and I liked it.  I would never serve this to guests or even eat this on the regular, but this was way better than it had any business being.  It was moist and the chocolate flavor was pretty decent.  I made this when I had a friend over and we happily smothered it in whipped cream and berries and had at it.

Yes, I know this is wrong, but so is “Pineapple Express”.  We all have our vices.  Leave me alone.

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Burnout Cake
From Dizzy Dee

4 Tablespoons cake flour
4 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons cocoa
1 Egg
3 Tablespoons milk
3 Tablespoons oil
1 Mug

Instructions:

Mix flour, sugar and cocoa in the mug. Crack in egg and add milk and oil. Microwave for three minutes. Let set and pop out of mug.

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On Clarity

As we get older we find ways to cope with those things–and those people–that have hurt us. Self-effacing jokes are made, drunken outings are planned and memories are pushed down to a dingy and dank places in our hearts that we rarely visit. Of course the pain never goes away, but we cope. You know it shapes who you are and, hell, if you prescribe the the “Eat, Pray, Love” view of the world, you even begin to believe they make you a better person.

These scabs, though…we do our damdest to not pick at them. While physical scars may make for a good party trick or impress our dates, the emotional wounds are best hidden. Ripping them open and revisiting the initial hurt is not a place we should return. It may itch and look disgusting but we do our best to leave it alone, let it heal in peace.  Of course we may have weak moments where we pull at the edges, but it is best let be.

Of course, we cannot control the actions of others.  Outside elements are always the wildcard in these situations. Sometimes something or someone will remind you of the hurt and all the pain comes rushing back. We see it isn’t quite healed; the injury is still there.  More times than not it is the initial perpertrator of the damage, coming back for one last word, desperately trying to get under your skin once again.

But we have a choice.  We’ve been there, we know what it feels like.  The past hurt serves as an armour, an alarm bell to avoid the danger.  Sure, phantom pains are felt but we are smarter, wiser.  Scars may be hot on a bicep, a face, a chest, but they ain’t so good looking on our hearts.  We know it, we’ve learned it, and we walk away now that we can see things clearer after the initial dizzying haze.

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Carrots, full of vitamin E, are great for your eyesight and have the added bonus of tasting really great when roasted. This is barely a recipe at all. Just mix together a few tablespoons of olive oil and a few tablespoons of honey. Toss some carrots with the oil mixture and a pinch of salt and some pepper. Roast at 450 degrees for about an hour. When they come out of the oven sprinkle with more salt. I used a pink Himalyan salt to finish things off and I really think it made a world of difference. These carrots are sweet and homey and serve as a perfect side to chicken or beef.

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On Expectations

On Monday I met Shannon for lunch. We kvetched about life, liberty and our personal pursuits of happiness over our meals at the always reliable Teaism. I told her to save some room because we had to stop at the Red Velvet Cupcakery in the name of research. Do you know how many cupcakes I have selflessly eaten for you guys? I’d have the body of Alessandra Ambrosio if it weren’t for you.

Truth be told, I had zero expectations of the cupcakery. My friend Bitchy McSnarkster had recommended it to me, but he is a red velvet fiend; his praise was already suspect in my mind. I ordered the Peanut Butter Cup, a chocolate cake studded with chocolate chips and topped with salted peanut butter frosting. I was pleasantly surprised by my cupcake; the cakegallery_kangaroo was rich without being overly dense and the frosting was intensely peanut buttery without being overbearing. As I am a saltaholic, I really adored the flakes of sea salt atop my treat. Shannon went with the Devil’s food, a chocolate-buttermilk cupcake with a bittersweet chocolate ganache. I was impressed with the light airiness of her cake and the creaminess of the ganache. The cupcakes are the perfect size; not too much, but enough to leave you satisfied. My only complaint was it was ice cold in the shop; don’t eat there unless you want to nosh your treat through chattering teeth.

After our cupcakes, Shan and I did some shopping. As we stimulated the economy we discussed important topics such as the meaning of a reoccurring dream I have been having lately and her teenage years in Woodbridge. She is the best kind of shopping buddy; entertaining, patient and totally willing to tell you when a dress makes you look like a kangaroo. She is the peanut butter to my jelly, the gin to my tonic, the roofie to my frat party; we just go together. And guess what? A year ago I didn’t even know her. It is all thanks to this here blog. So come out to the happy hour tonight, meet some new friends and maybe even find a new friend who loves cupcakes just as much as you and will always tell you when you resemble a marsupial.

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The Mouth

I don’t really know where the mouth came from truth be told.

As a kid we were not allowed to watch anything our parents’ believed could corrupt our young minds; “Three’s Company”, “90210” and “Beavis and Butthead” were banned in my house.  I think I have heard my mother swear twice my whole life.

Now I do remember the first time I said a naughty word.  I was in the woods, sitting on a monstrous rock, with my childhood best friend, Jennie.  (Isn’t every girl’s childhood best friend Jennie?)  We were 8-years-old and about an acre away from my house.  I wanted to be absolutely certain no one heard us.  Holding hands we both uttered the word “shit” and giggled.

It has gotten progressively worse over the years.  Readers and real life friends have witnessed my dirty verbal gems.  At times I don’t even know where they come from…I am beginning to think I am just inherently depraved.  At work I can hold it together, but in my day to day life I find it getting harder.  It is just a habit, like moisturizing or worrying about Britney Spears’ mental stability.  I do my best to respect my mother but I hear the phrase “Alexandra! Language!” with more and more frequency. She calls me Alexandra when she means business. The other day the “f word” slipped out when I was around my 6-year-old cousin.  He didn’t hear me, but I was really disappointed.  I try to be the best version of myself around him.

I’ve decided I am going to make an effort to be better.  While I do think the taboo regarding swearing is a bit ridiculous, I think I could benefit from using my words more.  I mean, I am not an idiot.  Not every sentence needs to make a sailor cringe.  This being said, a perfectly placed naughty word? Divine.

For instance, this chicken was fucking good.  Seriously. Fucking. Good.  Now I have made some roasted chicken in my day and this is hands down one of the best.  A friend of mine loves to make chicken breasts with lemon curd and I got the idea that I should roast a whole chicken using the same method.  Lo and behold, Cooking Light had beat me to the idea.  I have pasted their recipe below but I was really laid back about the whole thing.  I rinsed the chicken, patted it dry and stuffed a bunch of garlic, herbs, salt and pepper under the skin.  I threw a few lemons halves in the pan and stuffed a handful of herbs and a lemon half in the cavity.  After piercing the chicken a few times, I slathered the whole bird with some lemon curd. While it cooked I basted it several times.  After removing it from the oven, I made sure to let the bird sit for 15 minutes before carving.  This is an essential step for moist meat. What I love about this recipe is it does not require lubing up the chicken with fatty oil or butter; all the moisture comes from the tangy lemon curd.

I mean, doesn’t it look pretty fucking good?

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Roasted Chicken with Lemon Curd
Adapted from Cooking Light

1 (3 1/2-pound) chicken
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 garlic cloves, crushed
Cooking spray
1/2 cup Lemon Curd
3 large lemons, halved
Fresh rosemary sprigs (optional)

Preparation

Preheat oven to 450°.

Remove and discard giblets and neck from chicken. Rinse chicken with cold water; pat dry. Trim excess fat. Starting at neck cavity, loosen skin from breast and drumsticks by inserting fingers, gently pushing between skin and meat.

Combine the rosemary and the next 4 ingredients (rosemary through garlic). Rub mixture under loosened skin, and rub over breast and drumsticks. Lift wing tips up and over back; tuck under chicken.

Place the chicken, breast side up, on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Pierce the skin several times with a meat fork. Insert a meat thermometer into the meaty part of thigh, making sure not to touch bone; brush chicken with Lemon Curd. Arrange lemons around chicken. (Note: I stuck half a lemon and some thyme sprigs, salt, and pepper in the cavity.) Bake at 450° for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350° (do not remove chicken from oven), and bake for an additional 1 hour or until thermometer registers 180°. (Cover the chicken loosely with foil if it gets too brown.) Remove the chicken from the oven. Cover the chicken loosely with foil, and let stand for 10 minutes. Discard skin. Serve with lemon halves, and garnish with rosemary, if desired.

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