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Archive for the ‘comfort food’ Category

When my friend B picked up the phone yesterday, I was my usual charming self and greeted him with , “I was about to totally lose my shit if you didn’t pick up the god damn phone.” Clearly, I hate hyperbole.

I’d been trying to reach him for days and though we had texted and the such in the interim, I had some very important things I needed to discuss with him. He is one of those annoying people who hates VM so I have promised to only leave him a message if I really, truly need him. (Conversely, I hate it when people don’t leave VMs so he has agreed to humor me and always leave one. See how well our friendship works?) Something along the lines of I have fallen in a well or I am thinking about cutting my hair again are acceptable reasons to send a mayday VM. My most recent spiral was not VM worthy…even I knew this.  Yet, I was still anxious to hear the voice of reason; a special reasoning that can only come from someone you have known for almost 20 years.  The boy has me down.

You see, I am worried about my sex drive.  Thank Christ it is still there, but my appetite has been completely screwy and I have my concerns.  See, the two constant things in my whole life have been food and sex…and an equal fervor for both.  Now that my desire for food has been waning, I fear my libido may be next…and then the world will stop spinning on it’s axis.  I started lamenting as such when I finally got B on the phone.

“I don’t really know what I want food wise and I am scared sex is next.  What the hell will I do?”

“Lex…I don’t think this is really a concern with you.”

“Um, has food ever been a concern before?”

“Hm, well.  Seriously though, I think you are ok.”

“Well, today I thought of the only thing I really had any desire to eat and I made it.  I don’t care if it is awful for me…something must be done to save myself.”

“Ok, what?”

“Um, crepes like my Memere used to make…and I stuffed them with brown sugar and drowned them in syrup just like her.  It is what I wanted.  I need to save myself.”

“So healthy kid food, huh?  Jesus, Lex….you’re insane.”

I love you too, B…

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Crepes

Adapted slightly from Simple Comfort Food

2 large eggs

1/3 cup of water

1 cup of milk

1 cup of all purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

2 tbsp of unsalted butter, melted for coating the crepe pan
In a blender, mix all ingredients. The mix will be very smooth and super thin. Preheat crepe pan (or fry pan) over meium heat and add butter to pan. Cook on each side for about 2 minutes and flip.

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My friend Bitchy called me the other day all worked in a lather.  Long story short, he had found out that a few of his friends had partaken in some somewhat questionable behavior and he was getting pretty screwed.

“Lexa”, he said, “you and I have done some seriously messed up shit, but this takes the cake”.

“Well, I like to think we hurt ourselves, not others.  This is…beyond”.

“I know! We have manners in our path of destruction!”

No indivduals are hurt in the wake of our emotional carnage.

I got to tell you, I blazed a bit of a path of destruction yesterday.  After on and off napping, hulu watching and internet browsing, I finally dragged myself out of bed at 2 pm.  For someone who rarely rests and can never sleep in, this was glorious…but also felt completely wrong.  I was also ravenous but nothing seemed appealing.  I tore apart the apartment, nibbling, but never settling on anything.  Seriously, my appetite is ten times of messed up lately.  It as if I barely know myself.  If I stop showing off my cleavage in the near future, someone please intervene; I have clearly lost my mind.

I poked around all afternoon, barely eating.  The rain had me convinced it was one of the last times this year I could justify cranking the oven and making some comfort food.  When my roommate emerged from her room coughing and stuffed up, I finally landed on making some baked ziti for us; the ultimate in comfort foods.

Now, this is nothing special.  It, perhaps, might even fall in to the category of one of the more messed up things to come out of my kitchen, but hey, it isn’t hurting anyone. The sauce is from a jar (gasp!) and I actually cheated and used fusilli, not ziti (double gasp!).  Now while I would never serve this at a dinner party, it did the trick.  The roomie loved it, I actually ate some dinner and it made the apartment smell awesome.  It is pasta smothered in 4 kinds of cheese; this ain’t rocket science kids, but it works.  It makes a ton of food, and in my opinion, the leftovers are even better than the first day.

I went to bed stuffed, finally eating my first real meal of the day.  It may have hurt me, but I promise, you don’t have to do the same.

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Baked Ziti

1 TBSP olive oil

1/2 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

2 Italian sausages (I used turkey sausage), out of their casing

1 pound lean beef

2 tsp Italian seasoning (or a mix of oregano and basil)

Salt and pepper

Box of pasta (I used mini fusilli)

1 jar pasta sauce (I like Classico)

1 cup ricotta cheese

1/3 cup parmesan cheese

1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed

Pam/nonstick cooking spray

8 slices provolone cheese

Preheat oven to 400. Start boiling large pot of salted water for pasta. Add pasta when water is ready. Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook for about 3 minutes. Add meat, salt, pepper and seasoning and cook until browned. Skim off fat and add pasta and sauce. Add in parmesan, ricotta and mozzarella cheese. Spray a large pan with cooking speay and pour in pasta mixture. Cook for 20 minutes, open oven and top pasta with provolone cheese. Bake for additional 5 minutes and let sit for about 5 minutes before eating.

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Grown Up

The other night I finally got around to watching “American Teen“. In this compelling documentary, the typical archetypes are presented; the geek, the jock, the hearthrob, the outsider and the queen bee. There wasn’t anything all the different about these kids; they were living in a small town, all doing their best to find their little spot in the world.

As I watched, I couldn’t help but cringe and bury my face in my hands on more than one occasion. The geek was awkward, cursed with a case of raw and angry acne, and painfully resigned to his dorky existence. The jock was crumbling under the pressure from his father to get a scholarship. The queen bee was lashing out–cruelly and viciously–in an attempt to hide some serious pain. The heartthrob was desperately trying to grow as a person, but kept on getting sucked back in to his clique. And the outcast was pretty awesome, but was just suffocating in a small, narrow minded town.

Despite the texting and instant messaging, it was pretty similar to everyone’s high school existence. The thing was, watching it, I was reminded how freaking real that all was. I wished I could tell them “It will get better.” “It won’t always be like this.” “You are cute and I promise your skin will clear.” “Once you leave this town you will see how rad you are.” “Let me show you how to fill out a FAFSA; don’t join the damned Army.”

It is still the same.  Will it ever change, those high school years?  I doubt it, but it was good to be reminded that with time and maturity, it does get better.

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(Sure, potato salad.  I hear ya; not culinary amazingness, but you know you have a zillion BBQs to go to this summer and you will have to bring something.  This is a healthier, more grown up version of the potato salad your mom used to make.  Gone is the mayo and in comes the yogurt.  It is tangy and full of crunch and way more interesting than that stuff with relish in it.  Make sure to liberally salt the water before cooking the potatoes.  And see? While I think bacon is way overused, it does add a depth here.  I am not the anti-Christ, I just think bacon has it’s place…and it is in this.)

Grown Up Potato Salad

6 lbs baby red potatoes, cubed

8 strips turkey bacon, chopped

1 medium red onion, diced

5 stalks celery, diced

1 –17.6 oz. container Fage Fat Free yogurt, filtered through a coffee filter over a mesh colander

3 TBSP dijon mustard

1.5 TBSP cider vinegar

Salt and pepper

Cube potatoes and add to a large pot of cold water. Liberally salt water (about 3 tablespoons of salt) and bring water to boil. While potatoes boil, place yogurt in coffee filter inside sieve over a bowl. Chop bacon and cook until done over medium heat. Drain on paper towel when done. Chop onions and celery. In a medium bowl, mix together yogurt, mustard and vinegar. When potatoes are cooked, drain them and rise with cold water for about a minute. Mix together yogurt mixture, bacon, celery, onions, and potatoes. Liberally salt and pepper.

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Waste Not

I was home sick from work yesterday. Even during a sick day, between naps and trying to watch Tropic Thunder, I laid in bed thinking of all the things I needed to do. (Side note: Thoughts on Tropic Thunder?  I am conflicted.  The whole “full retard” bit was genius but I could have done without some of the subplots.  I mean really? Alpa Chino is gay and in love with Lance Bass? Jesus.)

But anyway, the trash was overflowing but putting on pants to take it out seemed too much an effort.

My room, after one of those weeks that happens to all of us, was trashed. I mean, it looked like an oversexed member of a boy band on a coke bender had tried to exorcise his personal demons within the confines of my four walls.

It is no secret that I’m “go go go” all the time and sick days are no different. I ended up tidying a bit, making dinner and slapping on pants to take out the trash. I really should have remained in bed, but that’s how I do. I hate wasting time and sometimes it is my undoing; I never feel totally rested and I always feel like there is more I could be doing.

At least these compulsion to not waste is channeled in to other things.  Take, for instance, these croutons.  I know, I know, a recipe for croutons.  This is some thrilling stuff. Yet, this is a really simple way to put use to a half finished loaf of bread.  Just cut the bread in cubes, dry it out and toss with some staples from the pantry.  As an added bonus, they taste a hell of a lot better than those croutons from the box.

Hey, you can even compromise….make them sans pants.

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Croutons

3/4 loaf bread, cubed and dried (either left out over night or dried in an oven for about 30 minutes)

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1.5 teaspoons onion powder

1/2 teaspoon dried parsley

Salt and pepper

Heat oil over medium heat and add bread cubes. Toss and cook for about 3 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and cook for about 3 more minutes. Cool and serve.

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Call and Answer

Recently I was discussing my reading habits with a friend, namely that I don’t have many. I consider myself informed; I listen to NPR and hit on news websites, but a book? Magazines? I go through fits and starts. I will ravenously devour them for short periods and then abandon them completely. I have too many blogs to read, too much cooking to do and too much life to live. Oh, and yes, passing out in various gutters really eats away at the time as well. The books always get cut in my attempt to manage my overburdened schedule.

Of course, I had to find out through Twitter yesterday (Thanks Jessica!) that I had been named one of the top websites in DC by Washingtonian. The irony is not lost on me.

As a creature that lives her life online, I fervently searched online for the link. It was no where to be found, so I had to do it the old fashioned way: buy the print copy. There it was…a short paragraph on page 50. Sweet sassy molasses. Who knew? Oh, right. You people who read.

The power of blogging has already been celebrated this week and stated far more eloquently than I ever could say it. It shocks me that a girl comprised of equal parts raging narcissism and crippling self doubt could scream in to a well and get folks to yell back, but I’m humbled.

Also, I am pretty bemused. Culinary Couture was listed in the category of the area’s best drinking and dining blogs and below I have presented you with a recipe that uses quick grits. Washingtonian? Are you sure? This is a pretty egregious sin against Southern cuisine, but it works. This whole dish was some uncharted territory for this Northern girl, but I made it happen, my way. I am still trying to figure it all out, cobble together the pieces of my life as I stand over the stove and stare in to my navel. Thanks for coming along for the ride and yelling back at me when I scream in to the well.

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(I made these with bettyjoan during my trip to Atlanta and despite the use of quick grits, this turned awesome. The shrimp was simple and fresh and the grits were rib stickingly good. I used some smoked sausage for this, but yes, you bacon freaks, use it if you must. Even my beloved bettyjoan, a true Southern girl, gave this the thumbs up. Hop over to her place and check out what she made for desert.)

Shrimp and Grits

Loosely adapted from Cooking Light

Shrimp

1 pound peeled and deveined jumbo shrimp

Juice from one lemon

1 teaspoon Tabsasco sauce (or to taste)

Pinch kosher salt

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1 smoked sausage or 3 slices bacon, chopped finely

2 cloves garlic, minced

5 green onions (I used 3 green onions and a leek)

Pinch salt

Pepper

In large bowl, mix shrimp, lemon juice, Tabsco and salt. Let sit while you heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. When oil is heated add sausage or bacon. Cook for about 4 minutes and then add onions and garlic. Cook for about 2 minutes (just to soften onions). Add shrimp mixture and cook for about 6 minutes (shrimp should be pink). Salt and pepper and serve over cheese grits.

Cheese Grits

3 cups chicken stock (or water)

3/4 cup quick grits

3/4 cup grated sharp cheese

2 tablespoons butter

Pinch salt

Boil broth and add grits. Stir for about 3 minutes, until thickened. Remove from heat. Add cheese, butter and salt. Serve immediately.



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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…

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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.

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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?

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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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