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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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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.

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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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Acting Out

Once an idea is in my head it is there…100%. Until I act on it, it haunts my every waking moment.

Take, for instance, my nose stud. The idea crept in my head the summer I was working at the ranch. I spent much time weighing the pros and cons of such a piercing, but finally landed staunchly in the pro column. It is a part of me; I can barely remember a time without it, but good Lord if I haven’t had a few issues with it.

Employers have asked me to take it out.

My mom, though she has come around, was none too pleased about it.

It has been accidentally ripped out more than once.

Despite these things, it is an obsession that I am glad I acquiesced to. I mean if nothing else it taught me to stand up the the bossman, yes? It has brought some life lessons to me.  Anything worthwhile in life may bring you a bit of grief, but you have to follow your instincts.

The idea of goulash crept in to my head about two weeks ago and I was not able to shake it. Seriously, every day I thought about making it…it was an illness.  The thing is, while it was pretty simple to make, it caused some grief.  This has a lot of onions that need to be finely chopped.  Now, I don’t mind, but that is a lot of crying, let me tell you.  At the end of the day, though? So, so worth it.  I implore you to make this a day ahead so the flavors can meld together, but this was homey and comforting and super flavorful.  I was a bit disappointed I could not find sweet paprika, but the regular worked just fine.  I followed this recipe pretty loyally as I had never made goulash before; luckily I knew I could trust Deb over at Smitten Kitchen.  I cut this recipe in half and still had a ton of food.  This would be great for a dinner party with lots of red wine.

So yes, a bit of a pain, but a perfect obsession.

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Goulash

From Smitten Kitchen

5 slices bacon, chopped
3 pounds boneless chuck, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 medium onions (about 1 1/2 pounds), chopped fine
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons paprika (preferably Hungarian sweet*)
1 1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
1/4 cup tomato paste
5 cups beef broth
1 to 5 cups water or beer (use the former to make a stew, the latter to make a soup–I added one cup)
1 teaspoon salt
2 red bell peppers, chopped fine

In an 8-quart heavy kettle cook bacon over moderate heat, stirring, until crisp and transfer with a slotted spoon to a large bowl. In fat remaining in kettle brown chuck in small batches over high heat, transferring it as browned with slotted spoon to bowl.

Reduce heat to moderate and add oil. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring, until golden. Stir in paprika, caraway seeds, and flour and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Whisk in vinegar and tomato paste and cook, whisking, 1 minute. (Mixture will be very thick.) Stir in broth, water, salt, bell peppers, bacon, and chuck and bring to a boil, stirring. Simmer soup, covered, stirring occasionally, 60 to 75 minutes.

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Please Please Me

“I am surprised you are making this”, was bettyjoan‘s response when I sent her this recipe. She knows how I feel about bacon.

The thing was, I wasn’t so surprised.

Underneath it all, I am a people pleaser. I am a nurture-caretaker…I just want to make people happy. Someone once called me a “cooker with a heart of gold”.

Sure, the gold is a little tarnished. And yes, sometimes I will tell you exactly what is wrong with you…but I want to see you happy! How are you supposed to be happy if you have no idea what a moron you are? I am providing a service here, kids.

It is not uncommon for people to tell me I make them nervous or they were scared of me when they first met me. This happens very regularly, in fact. It confounds me. I don’t know how to do anything other than speak my mind, loudly, but I am merely saying what most of you are thinking. I may dart a pointed remark on in your direction. I will probably make fun of you if you deserve it. I will not pause for a second if I think a plain old “Go fuck yourself” is in order.

Yet, I will also tell you how incredibly amazing I think you are. The compliments, always sincere, hop off my tongue. I will bake for your party and help you move. On a regular basis, I put my dignity on the line if I think it will cheer a friend up. I have done interpretive dances of Beach Boy songs in an effort to coax a laugh.

So, really, as loud and tough and brash as I can be, I want to make you happy. So, I share this with you:

I made bacon biscuits and I loved them.

I originally set out to make them because I knew they would be a hit. You people and your bacon…you are insane. That being said, I thought these would bring some smiles at the potluck I attended a few weeks back. I just didn’t expect that I would be one of the people smiling.

These were spectacularly, mind numbingly awesome. Attendees of the potluck emailed me for the recipe, singing their praises. My friend Wise One said she thinks this is the perfect thing to make a man…I will let y’all be the judge of that. I am decidedly not a man and I had to fight the urge to pop these babies like candy. They were salty and a slightly tangy from the buttermilk. The chives and cheese paired perfectly and look how cute they are! I used a mini biscuit cutter and, well hell’s bells, I just want to pinch these biscuits on the cheeks they are so damn adorable. Fret not….these can just be cut in to wedges as well, making them more scone like. Making biscuits/scones is easy but always impressive. Show up with these in tow and you will have folks drooling.

Finally, I can see why bacon is so popular. Do I still think the hype is too much? Of course…but I hope this small concession makes you happy.
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Bacon Cheddar Chive Biscuits
Slightly Adapted from Cave Cibum

3 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 stick butter, cut into small pieces
about 5 ounces of cheddar, grated (I used low fat)
1/4 cup chopped chives (about half the packet)
8 slices center cut bacon, chopped and cooked crisp
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 400°.

Combine dry ingredients (flour through cayenne). Add in butter and work with your hands to combine – press butter between your fingers to form thin sheets. Add cheese, green onions, and buttermilk, and mix together. Add bacon and egg and mix until all the ingredients are incorporated.

Turn dough out onto a flat surface and knead a few times to smooth out the dough. Form dough into a ball, then flatten into a 1/2-inch thick disk. You can make little mini biscuits like me or you can cut the disk into wedges. Spread wedges across a parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving a little room around them. Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until the bottom of the scones start to brown and the cheese in the scone begins to turn golden. Best served warm.

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