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Archive for March, 2009

Short Break

I am taking the rest of the week off.

Please take a few minutes to tell the people in your life how much you love them today.

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Hey food people, this is Chris and if you think this post is funny or you just want to compliment me on my shirt, you can normally find me at Surviving Myself.

Lexa asked me to guest blog here today and I consider it quite the honor, so in order to uphold her love of sharing all things food with you, I have decided to share two of my most famous recipes today. Now I must warn you, what follows is not for amateurs. I am a professional and have spent years perfecting these, so make no mistake about it, should you try and replicate them, you will fail at least 37 times before you get it just right.

I know that sounds depressing, but life is difficult my friends, just ask the guy in WHAM! who wasn’t George Michael.

Without further ado, I present to you, Chris’ Recipes Of Brilliant Fun Good Time Happy:

Grilled Cheesegrilled-cheese

1. Get wasted at a bar.
2. Yell at someone (a friend or someone you don’t know) about something that doesn’t really matter, like how tight you prefer your shoelaces to be.
3. Stumble home.
4. Turn on Sportscenter. Yell at TV and/or pet.
5. Put butter on two pieces of bread, with cheese in between.
6. Place on heated skillet.
7. Avoid passing out while waiting for it to finish by drunk texting your friends that they suck.
8. Eat grilled cheese.
Pasta with Special Red Sauce

1. Search entire apartment for something better.
2. Curse yourself for being lazy and not going grocery shopping.
3. Boil water in a pot.
4. Add pasta even if it’s spilled out into the cabinet, it is still Okay.
5. Pull jar of Prego out of cabinet.
6. Laugh about “Prego Lego” joke you make in your head.
7. Drain pasta and yell when it burns your face, then pour sauce onto pasta.
8. Eat Pasta with Special Red Sauce.
I know that right now you’re shaking your head and thinking that you cannot possibly make these items, but I believe in you. I know that you can and I challenge you to try.

Oh, and I should add to make sure you call and apologize after Step #7 in the first one, otherwise you won’t have many friends left to share these culinary delights with.

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Hi everyone, I’m Brian from over at The Life of Brian.   Lexa is away this weekend and she honored me by asking if I would guest blog for her today.  Naturally, I accepted and hopefully I can lend a masculine touch over here today. I hope you enjoy, but  if you don’t, flame away.  She’ll be back Tuesday….

Although it may not feel like it this morning, spring is nearly upon us. Soon we’ll shed our winter coats and mittens in favor of shorts, sundresses and flip flops.  We’ll rediscover the outdoor patios of our favorite watering holes and remember the simple pleasure of enjoying a light brunch outside.  Winter will be a distant memory very very soon.

One of my favorite things about spring, besides all that stuff listed above, is the first cookout of the season.  I’m not talking about the makeshift, wanna-be, middle-of-the-winter-but-it-warmed-up-to-50-today sorta BBQ.  No ma’am, I’m talking about a full blown it’s-been-over-70-degrees-all-week-and-now-it’s-Saturday-so-let’s-BBQ-bitches! kinda BBQ.

Good friends, cold beers, chips and salsa, potato salad, corn on the cob, and of course…   cheeseburgers on the grill.  What could be better right? (OK, so I can think of a few things that would be better, but this is a family blog here)

I love cheeseburgers with all my heart and soul.   No, I’m not talking some fake-ass cheeseburgers that come out of a freezer case.  I’m talking about beautifully hand sculpted mounds of sizzling ground beef, loaded with great toppings.   So here’s my favorite version of the glorious cheeseburger:

Beautiful  Cheeseburgers (makes about 8 1/4lb cheeseburgers)

Ingredients

For the patties

-2lbs of ground beef (I prefer having the butcher grind it for me, but regular ground chuck will do here. No more than 85% lean though)

-2tbsp worcestershire sauce

-2tsp onion powder

-2tsp kosher salt

-2tsp celery salt

-1 egg

-2tbsp of butter, finely diced

Instructions

Combine all the ingredients into a large bowl and mix thoroughly.  Roll into pool ball sized mounds and form into patties about 1 inch thick.  Place on a platter and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Then remove from the fridge and bring to room temperature in a cool, dry place (takes about 30-45 minutes).

During this time, crack open a beer and get that outdoor grill heated up.  After pre-heating for about 20 minutes, lay the patties on the grill and sear on both sides for about 3-4 minutes each. You want a nice  brown crust on both sides of the patty, but you want to to burn it.  Once seared, move to the top rack of the grille (or, in lieu of a top rack, you can make a basket out of aluminum foil and place the burgers in there).  Turn the heat down to medium, or in the case of a charcoal grill, transfer the patties to a cooler portion of the grille surface.   Place your choice of cheese (more on that below) and finish on the top rack for about 3-5 minutes depending on the temperature you like.  Serve on a toasted bun immediately.
The Bun
Ah yes, the bun.  The tie that binds this whole package together.   There will sometimes be ways to cut corners while making burgers, this should never be one of them.   I know that paying $5 for package of buns seems like a lot when there are plenty of $2 packs of buns in the bread isle.  But trust me when I tell you it can make all the difference the world for your little bundles of burger joy.  That cow worked died so you could have a tasty cheeseburger, don’t dishonor it by sticking it in a cheap ass bun.

If you’re so inclined, I also recommened toasting the bun with a little bit of butter too.  It gives it a little bit of crispness and really brings out the flavor of that beautiful piece of bread.

Toppings
People’s choice of toppings vary greatly and can range anywhere from simple ketchup and mustard to bone marrow and foie gras.  Here are the toppings I like to offer when I make my burgers:

-Sauteed red onions

-Sherried and grilled mushrooms

-Sun kissed tomato slices (normal slices of tomato,  sprinkled with salt and sugar and slow cooked in an 200 degree oven for 35 minutes to bring out the tomato flavor

-Romaine lettuce

-Tangy burger sauce (1 part sriracha, 2 parts mayonnaise, dash of lemon juice, dash of salt)

Or, just go crazy with your own.   I try all kinds of stuff on burgers and have found lots of fun ways to jazz it up.

The Cheese
A perfect burger cheese should be melty and creamy, without turning oily or greasy.  American is fine, but try other cheeses like some nice cave aged cheddar, muenster or even Monterrey jack.

Once you have all your pieces together, assemble and enjoy with an ice cold brew or, if you’re not the drinking type, a cold mug of root beer.  Now,  if only I could find my flip flops…

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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…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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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