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Archive for March, 2009

As you know, I don’t do TMI Thursdays.  They really aren’t my thing.  This being said, something happened to me this week that LiLu convinced me I had to share. She has had some food stuff kicking around so it seemed the perfect opportunity to swap blogs for a day.  Head on over to her place and check it out…a very special TMI for you from me with love.  Mom, seriously, please skip this one.  If you look, you only have yourself to blame.

Also, I leave town tomorrow to go visit my boo, bettyjoan.  I have lined up some smart, funny, incredibly good looking men to fill in for me while I am gone.  I figured we needed some testosterone up in this piece.  They are good guys so please be nice to them in my absence.  Well, unless they use emoticons…you have free reign to burn them at the stake if they commit such an offense here. –Lexa

What up, kiddos? Most of you probably know me around this block, as I am Lemmonex’s lesbian e-lover bffie and biggest fan, LiLu from Livit, Luvit. Well, we decided we’d pull a Freaky Thursday on y’all, and try posting in each other’s styles for a day. Ready, beetches? Cause heeeeere we go…

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We all have our “go-to stories”. The ones we’ve told time and time again, but never seem to get old… (at least to us). This here is one that all my friends (bear with me) have undoubtedly heard before, but I’ve wanted to share it on my blog for quite some time now, as it represents one of the proudest moments of my very young (and stupid) life.

I was in high school and working my ass off at the local TGIFriday’s. It was my first job, and I’d worked my way up quickly from hostess to server (a promotion that required 18 years of age and approximately 45 working brain cells). The restaurant was in a mall, a mall in the SUBURBS with a MOVIE THEATRE. It was Christmas time, and Shit. Was. Insane. We were constantly on a three-hour wait and everyone was in a horrible mood, staff and customers alike.

One particularly grueling Saturday afternoon, my two-top got sat with an enormous, red-faced, pissy redneck woman and her chubbalicious good-for-nothing preteen son. These greedy little pigs spared no expense; he got a milkshake, they shared an appetizer sampler, got full entrees, and painstakingly deliberated over the dessert menu before deciding on the Brownie Fudge Sundae.

Now, even when I don’t like a customer, I’ve never given them anything less than decent service. I did my job; I was attentive, I refilled drinks, their food was on time and their orders were correct. I brought the bill quickly, as I was anxious to flip the table and make another few bucks. Their check was $32.19 (remember, this was a TGIFs in 2002).

A few minutes later, I walked over to the empty table and looked down. $33 was lying on top of the bill, and the patrons were nowhere to be seen.

“You have GOT to be freaking KIDDING ME,” I hissed venomously, and something happened. I just snapped. Too many doubles during the holidays had finally caught up with me, and I decided this bitch was NOT getting away with it. I ran out the side door into the mall, and scanned furiously for their fat asses. There, across the way, I saw them waddling into Linens ‘N Things. I hiked up my suspenders, adjusted my cowboy hat, and ran after them, pieces o’ flair and all.

“EXCUSE ME,” I tapped her on the shoulder and she whirled around, her squinty eyes startled by my red and white stripes.

“Um… yes?” she stammered, clearly taken aback.

“Hi there,” I smiled sweetly. “I was just wondering if everything was okay with your service today?”

“Uh, yes… yes, it was fine,” she glanced nervously at her oompa loompa son, but he was in a sugar coma and wouldn’t be coming to anyone’s rescue.

“Oh, really? That’s surprising,” I cooed, loudly enough for the small crowd gathering to hear… “Because you DIDN’T LEAVE A TIP.”

“Welllll, I’m unemployed right now,” she said, starting to back away from the crazy TGIFriday’s server covered in sarcastic buttons.

“OH,” I said, the ‘sweet’ quickly melting out of my voice, “THAT’S REALLY FUNNY. BECAUSE ACTUALLY, THIS IS MY JOB!!!”

“I’m- I’m sorry,” she mumbled as she turned to get the hell away from me.

“SO NEXT TIME, WHY DON’T YOU SKIP THE DESSERT AND LEAVE ME THE FIVE BUCKS??? Or better yet, there’s an Arby’s in the food court. Why don’t you shit on them instead???”

She was almost running at this point, but she heard me. Morally satisfied, I returned to the restaurant a new woman, and finished my shift with the ease of someone who knew that a tiny slice of justice has been served that day.

Much like this story, chicken parmigiana is a dish that I have always considered a classic, a favorite of mine. A couple weeks ago, when I’d taken a mental health day and B (the bf, for the newbies) had slaved away at work all day, I wanted to have a delicious dinner waiting for him when he got home. And what could be better than this Italian classic?

Like Lemmonex, I like to use healthy substitutions when possible, (while keeping the food delicious). So this recipe has been tweaked a little to include whole wheat noodles, eggbeaters, etc… but trust me when I say it was still DELICIOUS. See?
Like a favorite story, this dish will never disappoint.

parm

Easy Chicken Parmagiana

Slightly Adapted from ezinearticles.com

Ingredients:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
Salt
Pepper
1/4 cup flour (whole wheat if you’d like; I seasoned mine with an Italian herb blend)
1 to 2 Tablespoons margarine
1 to 2 Tablespoons olive oil
1-1/2 cups tomato sauce (add spices to taste)
4 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
6 to 8 ounces of mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

You will need to cook the chicken breasts before assembling the casserole. This can be done ahead of time if you choose. For example, cook the chicken in the morning and then put the parmigiana together in the evening. Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of the chicken breasts, then dip both sides of the breasts in the 1/4 cup of seasoned flour to coat the meat. In a heavy skillet, heat the margarine and olive oil on medium heat. Place the coated chicken breasts in the sizzling skillet. Sauté for 4 minutes and then flip the breasts. Sauté for another 5 minutes to finish cooking. Chicken will be firm to the touch and lightly browned on both sides.

To assemble the chicken casserole, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and oil the bottom of a 13 x 9 baking pan. Spoon about 1/2 cup of tomato sauce evenly over the bottom of the pan and arrange chicken breasts in the sauce. Sprinkle 4 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese over the breasts and then spoon the rest of the tomato sauce over the chicken. Arrange the sliced mozzarella cheese over the whole casserole and sprinkle with 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese.

Cover the pan with foil and bake for about 20 to 30 minutes until everything is heated through and a little bubbly.  Garnish with fresh basil.

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Beyonce has Sasha Fierce. Mariah Carey has Mimi. Janet Jackson has Damito Jo. Me? I have Tawny Kitean.

The nickname was bestowed upon me about four years ago. I had consumed far too much infused vodka at a party thrown by a coworker. We’d reached the point in the evening where the 80s mix was in full effect. I danced to “White Wedding”, “Billie Jean” and “Walking on Sunshine”. I dreamed of a simpler time adorned with slap bracelet and puffy paint “Save the Whales” t-shirts.

Then it came on. “Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake blared through the speakers. David Coverdale’s simple but heartfelt lyrics released a flood of emotions. I know what it is like to be a drifter, David! I walk alone. Yes, I am indeed just another heart in need of rescue.

My feelings took hold of me and the only thing I could do was dance, dance like there was no tomorrow. I swayed back and forth, swung my hips to and fro. Then, I dropped to the floor. There was writhing. There was humping. There were some things that will remain between me and that floor. Only G-d can judge us and our love!

To this day my friend Bitchy McSnarkster always inquires if the beautiful Tawny Kitean is coming out to play when we get together.  Tawny always brings it so I cannot blame him.

You know, I still I don’t have the answers. What is love’s sweet charity? What’s wrong with wasting time? But I am actually capable of making up my mind about something. This banana bread may be the best freaking banana bread you will ever make. There, I said it. Don’t make me writhe atop a sports car to make my point but I will if I have to; it is that good. It is Irish Lebowski’s family recipe and good lord it is some good stuff. It is moist and super flavorful and takes about three minutes to make. I cheat and just mash the bananas really well and then mix everything by hand; by all means use a hand mixer of you feel so inclined though. I know there is nothing earth shattering or difficult at all about banana bread but with stuff this simple it really comes down to finding the right recipe.  Here, I found your recipe.

You can thank me later…perhaps with an interpretive dance to your favorite jam of 1987?

dscn1126
Banana Bread

Lebowski Family Recipe

3-4 ripe bananas (when bananas get too brown, I will throw them in the freezer…defrost them and use them for things such as this banana bread or a smoothie)
1 C sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 C flour
1 T vanilla
1/4 C melted butter
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease or butter loaf pan.
Mash bananas. Add egg, vanilla, and melted butter to bananas and mix with electric mixer. Add sugar and mix, then add dry ingredients and mix. Pour into loaf pan and bake for 1 hour.
*Note that depending on how moist your batter is (how many bananas you used, how big they were, etc.) you may need to cook for more or less than an hour. Bread is done when center top is fully cooked and no longer mushy to the touch.

**Instead of one large loaf, you can make 3 mini loaves. Reduce cooking time to 30-40 minutes.

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Ya Done Me Dirty

I had two main functions at my old job: telling people “NO” and being a hardass. Luckily I excel at both these things so I was pretty freaking kickass in my position. The one downside to this job: A lot of people didn’t like me. This came with the terrritory so most of the time I was accepting of the vitriol. I probably would have hated me sometimes too, but that is what I was there for. I was the muscle. (I hear you laughing, but seriously, you have not lived until I have told you to go piss up a rope.)

When I was at this job I had a list. This handwritten list was THE LIST. It was a small list, for in my heart I am a forgiving, kind and compassionate soul, but it contained the names of the men and women that repeatedly called me sweetheart, who tried to buy me off, attempted to rat me out to my boss when they didn’t like what I had to say, and who manipulated situations to suit their agendas. I took my job seriously and never blackballed anyone–that wouldn’t be ethical–but I referred to the list every time I was asked for a favor. They all come crawling back, I assure you.  This iron fist denied many a favor.

Well, Fireflies if there ever was a list you belonged on, it is THE LIST. You have done me wrong in so many ways, I should barely waste any more time on you, but here is a quick peek:

  • We sat there for 10 minutes before we were approached by our server.creativephotographycoolfoodfunfunnybreakfast-dba00ef7e91a044b5e541de617655698_h
  • Said server was either hungover, drunk, or perhaps even both.
  • As the server couldn’t “find” mugs so we drank our coffee out of paper cups the whole meal.
  • We had to mix our own mimosas. We were brought a glass of juice, a mini bottle of champagne, and an empty wine glass for this. With five women at the table drinking mimosas, this meant no less than 15 beverage containers on the table at all times. This doesn’t even take in to account waters and coffee cups.
  • I ordered the omelette–my second choice–because the prospect of a side hashed browns excited me. I love hash browns, crispy wonderful patties of shredded potatoes. Guess what came? Potato cubes….those are homefries, kids. Time to reprint those menus, Fireflies.
  • The center of one of my friend’s eggs was not poached and runny as she requested, but hard and green.
  • And that omlette I ordered? Rubbery, overcooked and greasy.
  • Did I mention our waitress was awful? It begs repeating. I know we had a whole lot of nerve asking for things such as tea and straws.
  • And finally, I think I could have solved the crises in the Middle East in the time it took us to get our check.

If it was not for the excellent company, this experience would have been a complete and utter wash. Fireflies, seriously, get your act together. You are on my list.

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Sunshine Day

This weekend I was that girl. You know her and you have probably smirked at her. Hell, I have even thrown a few well deserved nasty glances in her direction.

I dressed blissfully, shamelessly and highly inappropriately for this time of the year. I may have skipped a time or two; this is how freaking happy I was to feel the warmth. Gone were the tights and my bare legs saw the first glimmer of sunlight. I gleefully tucked away the knee high boots for open toe stilettos and flip flops. Not a tear was shed when I pushed my winter coat and mittens to the back of the closet to make room for my trench coats and swing jackets.

I know it is too soon, though. This optimism is premature and soon enough I will me searching for my scarf. I am getting far too ahead of myself, but I cannot help it. I am ready. This body wants to feel sunlight.

I will be sad when the cold returns, but there is an upside. I cannot believe I am going to say this but a final snap of cold weather would bring one good thing: a final opportunity for soup.  If you have spent enough time here you have probably picked up on my penchant for soups, stews and chilis.  They are easy, cheap and generally healthy; what more does a girl need? I made this one a few weeks back for a quick and easy dinner with a friend.  The potatoes make it hearty without tons of fat and the leeks add a really nice flavor.  We were all surprised at how great this tasted since it only took about 30 minutes to pull together and had minimal ingredients.  Served with a salad, it was a perfect week day dinner (and the leftovers made for great lunches.)

So while it would make me sad to hide my sandals again, I could definitely live with eating this one more time.

dscn1094


Golden Potato Leek Soup
Adapted from Cooking Light

1 tablespoon butter
3 cups thinly sliced leek (about 3 medium)
6 cups cubed peeled Yukon gold potato (about 2 1/4 pounds)
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 (14-ounce) cans organic vegetable broth (such as Swanson Certified Organic)
2 thyme sprigs
1/3 cup lo fat whipping cream (I used ff half and half)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

To prepare soup, melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add leek; cook 10 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally (do not brown).

Add potatoes, water, salt, broth, and 2 thyme sprigs. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes or until potatoes are very tender.

Remove pan from heat; discard thyme sprigs. Partially mash potatoes with a potato masher; stir in cream. Used a blender or an immersion blender to further puree soup for a creamier texture. Sprinkle with black pepper.

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…in Paradise

I once said, in all seriousness, that I could never date someone who didn’t own a television. “What would we talk about?”, I asked.

As I have grown older I have come to recognize that was a narrow minded and limiting statement. I would like to amend it: I could never date someone who didn’t own a TV or love burgers.

With that in mind, here is some burger love to carry you in to the weekend. I am taking tomorrow off; so many burgers, so little time.

mcgangbang

The Only Threeway You Will Find Me Partaking In

1. Behold the McGangBang: the most repulsively beautiful creature these brown eyes have ever seen. At 3 am, many thoughts have crossed my mind. What was that last thing I drank? Who is this guy? Should I order a Double Cheeseburger or a McChicken sandwich? When you figure out the first two questions, please give me a call, but I do have an answer to the last question. A girl really can have it all.

2. If you have been to Matchbox, you know what the 3-6-9 on the menu means; it is the number of miniburgers you can get in an order. Those suckers are juicy, flavorful, and topped with some of the best pickles I have ever had. The fantastically salty and thin parmesan onion straws that accompany these little treats are just icing on the cake. Since tomorrow is 3-6-09, stop by the restaurant and pay that dollar amount for your order depending on the number of burgers…$3/$6/$9. Yes, you read that right…it is a dollar per burger. Get your butt there; I know I will be… (Thanks to Amanda at Metrocurean for the tip off.)

3. Most importantly, I leave for Atlanta next Friday to visit my dear bettyjoan. I will be packing my running shoes as the plan is to eat all weekend. Well, eat and hold bettyjoan…perhaps even stroke her hair.  I have one main item on my agenda for the weekend: I must go to Vortex and sample the double bypass burger.  For those of you who don’t know or care about silly things such as your “health” the double bypass is made with two fried eggs, four slices of American cheese, and five slices of bacon, with two grilled cheese sandwiches replacing the buns. My questions are many: How much of this burger can I actually eat? Will this even taste good?  Will I even be able to find room for the tots that accompany this?  What kind of beer should accompany this delicacy?

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About a year ago I stopped reading the online chats hosted by Tom Sietsema, the Washington Post’s dining critic. It was not the repetitive questions or Sietsema’s predictable answers that killed my love affair with him, but the incessant whining of the chatters. Everyone always had something to bitch about; there were complaints about waits (shocking, you show up to a restaurant on a Saturday night and have to wait?!), noise (people do talk in restaurants, ya know) and the audacity some diners had to actually have children (and we aren’t talking about complaints about unruly children in fine dining establishments, we are talking ‘how dare anyone ever bring any sort of little person in to any establishment where I eat’). What miffed me the most, however, was how  everyone always seemed to be demanding free stuff; people wanted a free round of drinks or a comped dessert because they didn’t like everything they had ordered or because the window had a draft or because they disagreed with the light fixtures.

But–there is always a but–I do have one huge complaint about restaurants and I am turning to you. I need to know if I am whining.  I don’t think restaurants take food allergies nearly serious enough.

Some background: I was at Co Co Sala recently with my friend Bawstin. The meal was…medicore. The crab cakes were subpar, the tuna tartar was middling and the service was unremarkable. I will say the bananas foster was pretty damn delicious and I was enchanted by the wafer cookies that accompanied our petit fours, but there ain’t enough cookies to make up for the fact that the ice cream was so hard I used a knife to cut it and our mint mouse was loose and weak in mint flavor. The atmosphere was cozy and I could tell they were going for a romantic vibe, but I found the waitstaff dressed in red to be a bit of overkill; I get it, folks.

Bawstin is severely allergic to nuts. In the ten years I have known him I have witnessed these reactions twice and they are terrifying. It is instantaneous and the last time it happened I found myself chasing after an ambulance that had him inside. He is incredibly conscientious about making sure servers know of his allergy.  He politely told our server at Co Co Sala before we ordered to please make sure all our dishes were nut free.  When we ordered he once again reminded her of his allergy.  When she dropped our food he took a look at our portabella flatbread and asked again “And you checked about the nuts right?”  She said she would “make sure” and came back to the table a few minutes later and informed us that, in fact, there were nuts in the flatbread.  We were glad he hadn’t eaten the dish but somewhat stunned that after being so careful the waitress had neglected to check.

Now, I do believe you dine at your own risk.  I also know that excessive modification to menu items can kill the creativity of the chef and can just be down right annoying.  This being said, I think the restaurant failed here.  Bawstin’s allergy can be fatal and this is something I don’t think an establishment should take lightly.  What are your thoughts? Am I being unreasonable?  What should we expect from dining establishments when it comes to food allergies?  I would love to hear your opinions on this.

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Baller, Shot Caller

I have probably seen the movie “Jackass” about 10 times. I own way more Lil’ Wayne and T.I. than is socially acceptable for a grown woman. I can watch “$240 Worth of Pudding” (thanks for the tip off, Hammer) and laugh hysterically while other people roll their eyes.  I slap asses often and with inappropriate zeal.

All and all I can be shockingly immature…well, at least until the bathroom humor begins. You know how I feel about that.

So I have to tell you that I am itching to make a big balls joke here…but I won’t. It would not be very lady like.

There isn’t really anything funny about big balls anyway. Am I right ladies and 11% of the men?

Now there is nothing wrong with big balls per se, but sometimes they can be overwhelming.  This weekend I decided to try a new matzo balls soup recipe.  My old recipe was pretty perfect but I was itching to try a recipe that didn’t call for seltzer.  I never have seltzer around and it always seems a waste when I purchase it.  I loved how this recipe came out; whipping the whites and the yolks of the eggs separately as does the use of the baking soda. But there is the rub; the baking soda really makes these matzo balls puff up.  They almost doubled in size when I cooked them.  Now, they still tasted good but they were some overwhelmingly large balls.  Make sure to keep them pretty small–about ping pong ball sized–when making them.  Despite the overwhelmingly large balls this was some seriously good soup.  Salty and flavorful and hearty, I could eat it every day.

Big balls happen…I will hope for better luck next time.

dscn1124

Matzo Ball Soup

Inspired from Food Fashionista

Matzo Balls
4 eggs, separated
1 tablespoon shmaltz (chicken fat) — you can sub in vegetable oil
1 cup unsalted matzoh meal
1/2 teapsoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Soup
5 cups chicken stock/broth
1 cup shredded cooked chicken
1/2 cup finely diced celery
1/2 cup finely diced onion
Salt to taste

Beat egg whites in a bowl until fluffy (not stiff, just fluffy) and beat egg yolks and shmaltz in a separate bowl. Add yolk mixture to whites and stir well. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Place mixture in refrigerator for an hour.

Form about 2 dozen balls and drop in to salted boiling water. Cook for about 40 minutes.

While matzo balls cook, add all soup ingredients to a large pot and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cover.
Yields about 20 matzoh balls.

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She’s So Lucky

A few summers back I was out with a few friends. I was wearing a floatier halter top, not typically my style, but it was the summer after I lost all the weight and I was trying to embrace the new me…or whatever. Who the hell knows why I chose this top as I felt supremely uncomfortable wearing it, but I suspect it had something to do with how awesome it made my cleavage look and the fact that the tag had a “S” on it. I am fairly predictable.

l-and-l1The evening ended with me staggering around the streets of Adam’s Morgan with my friend Cindarella and a few other folks. This was probably the most boozy period of my life; I was fresh out of a relationship that crashed and burned with a spectacular brightness and I still hadn’t figured out how much liquor my new, smaller body could actually handle. I could have made Betty Ford blush with the amount of beer I was consuming on the regular and while I wish my staggering was merely a metaphor sadly it was not. I could barely stand up, but a much more sober Cindarella stood by my side, told me I looked pretty in my shirt, talked smack about my ex and generally watched after me.

As we crossed 18th Street, a crowd of clearly strung out riff raff had congregated around the McDonald’s. One man, unshowered and barely coherent, looked at me and screamed “You shouldn’t be drinking when you are pregnant.”

I lost it.  This man had touched on a deep insecurity when I was already in a vulnerable place. I absolutely came unhinged on that corner. Crying in public probably ranks just above eating coconut and just below dating a blond on the list of things I aim not to do, so you know it had to be bad. Cindarella yelled at the guy but largely tended to me; she hugged me tight and got me in the nearest cab, fully knowing I could never bounce back from that. The evening was a wash.

Little did I know that after I left Cindarella chased that man down, fixing to give him a piece of her mind. He was nowhere to be found and this is probably for the best.  Cindarella is a force and not to be messed with but even I was surprised to hear she chased a CRACKHEAD IN TO AN ALLY for me. Of course when I heard this story I immediately thought about how afterschool special it would have been had she been shanked in that ally. (Kids, this will happen to you if you move in to the big city…) Praise Allah that I have somewhat cleaned up my act, that I haven’t cried in public since, that I have largely forgotten about the guy.  I also trashed the shirt.  Still, I can’t help and think of that story and still smile to this day. Screw “Chicken Soup for the Soul”; I had someone way better to turn to when the chips were down.

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(Chicken stock is super easy to make and can be adapted to what you have on hand. Just throw some root vegetables in a pot with some chicken backs and necks, or in this instance a chicken carcass. All the measurements here are guesses; I promise you cannot screw this up.)

dscn1121

Chicken Stock

1 chicken carcass (I threw the left over carcass from the last chicken I roasted in the freezer and pulled it out for this purpose)

water

2 carrots, roughly chopped (I threw in a big handful of baby carrots instead)

3 celery stalks, roughly chopped

1 onion, quartered

Handful of flat leaf parsley

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon peppercorns (or a teaspoon ground pepper)

2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)

Put chicken in large stock pot and cover with water. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for about 3 hours. Strain through a mesh strainer and skim off fat. Freeze or use within 5 days.

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