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Tina at Building a Family asks:

I’d love advice on how to cut down the traditional family thanksgiving dinner so it serves two without sacrificing the quality of the food. most one or two person thank giving recipes have turned out pretty pathetic taste wise. Reasonable amounts of left overs are acceptable but I don’t want to eat that dinner – no matter how fab for a month.

I am about to suggest something, Tina, that sort of makes me want to stab myself in the face. The reason I have this case of the stabbies is simple: I got this idea from Rachel Ray. Rachel Freaking Ray. You know how I feel about Ray Ray.

But here it is: just roast a turkey breast. Of course, if you are in to dark meat, you will miss out, but this seems like a perfect solution. It is smaller, yet still has skin to stuff herbs, some lemon zest, and butter under. There will still be some leftovers, but a manageable amount.

If you aren’t in to the turkey breast idea, how about cornish game hens? I know to many people that Thanksgiving means turkey, but truth be told, I feel like half the people I know don’t even like it. Buck tradition a little, roast everyone a hen, and be done with it.

As far as the other stuff goes, I say be brutal and make cuts as to what you are going to have for side dishes. For me, the mashed potatoes are always the first to find their way to the chopping block; I can eat those any time. But a Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce or cornbread stuffing? Unthinkable. Unclutter your table and make some tough choices.

Lastly, get out of the mindset that you need to make huge portions. Dice up and roast two sweet potatoes instead of making an elaborate casserole with 6. Make a quick stuffing with a few pieces of bread. Purchase a few rolls, loose, at the bakery instead of a whole package. Throw together a small, simple apple crisp with a crumble topping instead of a huge pie. It seems obvious, but us gluttonous Americans have a tendency to think more is more and we are not satisfied unless our bowls are overflowing. Simplify, simplify, simplify.

The next few weeks are going to be filled with Thanksgiving posts, so if you have questions pipe up.

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Obamover

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Irish Lebowski out did herself.

Do you see all this food? It was my bitch last night.

Also, there is no champagne left in France.  I drank it all.

My friend sassE has coined the term Obamover.

I have an Obamover of epic proportions.

Check me out at So Good today…and back to real business tomorrow.

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Exhale

Last night, I couldn’t find my voter registration card. Shocking, seeing as I have quite the complex filing system:

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For the first time this election cycle, I truly almost lost my mind.

The past few years I have grown increasingly disillusioned with politics. I sometimes feel disappointed with my lack of involvement this cycle, but its been a bit complicated for me, as I know it is for a lot of you. Sure, I gave some money, but 19-year-old Lemm would not be pleased with the 27-year-old woman who sits here now. She’d find her apathetic and a bit of a sell out, and maybe she is… Yet, when I couldn’t mind my card? And for about half an hour I thought there was a possibility I wouldn’t be able to vote? I was reminded that that 19-year-old girl still lives inside me, a girl who thinks maybe she can make a small difference.

I like that we don’t talk politics here, but just today I want to remind you to stand up and cast your ballot. Remember what is important to you and step inside that booth. Do it for you, do it for your family and friends, do it for that hidden, tiny slice of you that is still idealistic enough to think maybe, just maybe, you can help change the world.

Then go get some free stuff. Lord almighty, has this been a long election cycle and you deserve some treats.

Thanks to my wonderful friend EJ for compiling this list….

Starbucks: free tall coffee, all day

Ben and Jerry’s: free scoop, 5 – 8 PM

Krispy Kreme: free doughnut, all day

Chik Fil A: free chicken sandwich, all day

Books-a-Million: free cup of coffee, all day

California Tortilla: free taco, all day

Daily Grill: free appetizer, Happy Hour

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I am taking a play from the Shannon playbook and opening the site up for questions today.

Practically speaking, I am looking for Thanksgiving questions.  I have a huge series of posts in the works, but want to answer any questions you may have. Some I will probably answer on the spot today, while others will be folded in to posts at a later date. A bunch of you email me with questions, which I love, but maybe you could all help a woman out today…

Or, just ask me anything…what I had for breakfast? The reason I dyed my hair blond when I was 15? Why I am so scared of committment?  I don’t care…More than you even realize, your comments and questions help inspire posts.

I will take questions until 6 pm tomorrow (10/22) and announce the winner at the end of the week. DF can attest, I will not poison you.  Like last time I will tape the drawing so none of you think I am a cheating cheater.

Anyway, ask your questions.  Lurkers, show your faces!  Who doesn’t want to win baked goods from strangers on the internet? Come on, all the kids are doing it.

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Scary… Like Whoa

If you know me, or are a blog friend, or are not anything resembling a killer, please feel free to email me at culinarycouture (at) gmail (dot) com for the password on the post below. I have the right to refuse, though; I am finicky like that.

Also, please don’t forget to check me out at So Good today.

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Cheap Trick

Yesterday, I found myself watching numbers on the Dow plummet and silently wishing I knew anything about money.

Cindarella and I emailed back and forth, lamenting the state of the economy. “I am going to have to buy COVER GIRL”, I whined.

I am…not great with money. My bills are paid on time and in full, I sporadically throw some money in savings, and I have worked really hard to live without using a credit card. That, my friends, is about it. Budgets? What are those? I have no idea where my money goes, frankly. My economic philosophy goes something like this: I check my online account, see I have “x” amount of dollars until I get paid, and spend accordingly. Please feel free to add “money management”, alongside driving and tact, to the list of things in which I do not excel.

I am a very lucky girl. I know this. Though I may need to make some changes (for instance, figuring out what I spend my money on), I will never starve. I have a secure job and I am paid well. My bills will not pile up and tightening of the purse strings means buying more yellow beer and laying off the Nars.

Yet, that doesn’t mean we aren’t all feeling it…or will soon. (This the the point in this post where I ask everyone to refrain from political screeds, m’kay?) Looks like it time to revisit some recipes from the past; tried and true meals that are tasty and make a minimal dent in the wallet. Please feel free to mock my photos from the earlier days and poke fun at my unfocused writing. I was not always the Lemmonex you see today.

Here is Cooking on a Budget 101…

Breadline Beans: Beans are always cheap…and this one is also vegetarian and can be thrown together in about 20 minutes.

Frittata: Making a frittata is perfect as you can throw anything in there. Have a nub of cheese, some random vegetables festering in the crisper, and left over sausage from brunch the previous day? Use it all…

Pasta with Eggs and Asparagus: Pasta and eggs…you should always have those on hand. All you need to pick up is a bunch of asparagus.

Banana Bread Oatmeal: Oats are pennies and everyone always has some bananas around…this is a another way to use up those bananas that are looking a little black.

Chicken with Spicy Asian Black Bean Sauce: No special ingredients needed here; most stocked pantries have all these ingredients on hand and the final result is delicious.

Caramelized Onion and Gorgonzola Pizza: Pizza crust may be one of the most cost effective things to make; all you need is some flour, water, honey and a packet of yeast.  I topped this pizza with caramelized onions and gorgonzola, but you can use whatever you have on hand.

Pesto Pea Soup: A bag of frozen peas and premade pesto? Simple, cheap, easy.

Stuffed Red Peppers: The lack of meat keeps this recipe cheap (and healthy). Whatever pepper is on sale can be used and almost all the vegetables in this recipe can be swapped out for whatever you have on hand/what is priced the best.

Asian Chicken Burgers: Ground chicken, natch, and a bunch of other pantry staples come together to make a flavorful burger.

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On Notice

Last night, I went to the Ben Folds concert at DAR Constitution Hall. Yesterday was a bit of a rough day, a perfect storm one may say, where about 5 things came to a head. Individually, these things would have merely annoyed me, possibly solicited an eyeroll and quick gchat bitch session. Combined, though, these matters left me a bit surly. I spent the day reminding myself that things are looking up on the job front (I’ve been interviewing a ton) and, as an added bonus, I would be able to dance away all the frustration at the concert. I am really taking this new positive thinking thing out for a spin.

Oh, Ben. Ben, Ben, Ben. Why must you test me so? This concert was terrible, simply awful. EJ, my concert-going companion, says it far better than I could, but I have never been so offended or disappointed by a concert. This was, hands down, the worst show I have ever attended. He played just shy of 90 minutes, with the first 70 minutes spent playing music from his album that will not be released until next week. He played 4 songs EJ and I knew; 4 songs from a catalogue that has spanned close to two decades and has afforded him a pretty nice life. It was a slap in the face. Look, I understand self indulgence, truly, but this was too much. He didn’t engage the audience; in fact, he was almost petulant. He was lacking in charm or any sort of showmanship. About halfway through, I looked over at EJ and whispered, “If this were a date, I would be desperately texting you telling you to come up with some emergency”. What makes it worse is I feel my memories of former shows, previously recounted fondly, have been sullied. I would have much rather taken the $55 dollars I spent on that ticket and had a few bottles of wine with EJ; she respects me, my time, and my money. Also, she doesn’t sing songs about “bitches” with opinions and how they are nuts.

But, there is always an upside: I could be Spike Mendelsohn. Now, despite some personal reasons, I think Good Stuff is…pretty good stuff. The burgers are a gooey delight and the shakes are divine.  (Seriously, I still dream of that marshmallow shake.)  Spike’s presence has pissed some people off in DC.  He has had to deal with complaints about the inconsistent quality of his burgers, ridiculously long lines at his place, and a general disdain by some in the restaurant community for his fame-whoring and courting of reality TV. (Rumor has it that they are shooting a reality show in the restaurant starting soon.)  Well, looks like Spike is getting hit with a different kind of reality: Good Stuff has been cited with several serious health code violations, including storing beef in the ally outside of the restaurant.  Spike, you done and screwed up good.  I understand the hand washing thing–it happens and I am a realist–but meat in an ally?  You are already a walking target…don’t make it easy to pick on you.

Yes, I know taking solace in the pain of others isn’t exactly in the spirit of “positive thinking” but it sure helps me.  It could always be worse.  Poor Spike…kinda.

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