Tuesday, March 24, 2009


What's retro-dating, you ask? Imagine yourself dating someone, deciding that you aren't right for each other and breaking it off. More like a mutual thing instead of a going-all-crazy, destroying-each-other-in-a-reckless-kind-of-way thing. Later on, your paths cross again, and the idea of dating each other again is kind of like wearing a favorite worn sweatshirt. And even though you know that soon it'll be summer and t-shirt season, it's really comfy and you just can't help yourself. That's retro-dating. I've been there and it's fun while it lasts.

How the heck does this apply to a food blog?? Glad you asked. I had a long affair with Cooking Light magazine. It was a faithful, comfy companion. I loved opening the mailbox and checking out the new edition. I would bring it to work and at lunchtime go through it with a pen, circling all of the recipes that I was interested in. Then the silver started to flake away, as it does in many relationships. The recipes became complicated, with lots of ingredients, many of them expensive and hard to find. Our love became complex, as I didn't want to be left with a bunch of crappy ingredients that I would never use again, and I had no desire to spend hours cooking each night. Cooking Light delved into more adventurous dishes that I just didn't have the taste buds to try. Time spent pondering recipes was with less pen-circling now. After awhile, I broke it off.

Recently I found three of the Annual Review cookbooks that I got sucked into buying (2001, 2002 and 2004; respectively) and BAM! We're retro-dating. Sweet potato pancakes with maple-vanilla syrup, mmm! Strawberry-Lemon Syrup. Barbecued meatloaf, how are you? I know it's not going to last forever, but the memories are priceless. How I've missed you, Cooking Light. We'll live in the past, together, just for a little while.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Garden Time?!

Now that Spring is officially here (albeit only two or three days old) it's time to start thinking about the Garden. I'm thinking this way despite the still partially-frozen ground, as it doesn't hurt to be prepared.

I definitely want to expand this year, but I've learned a few lessons. For one thing, THIN OUT THE ZUCCHINI PLANTS. That puppy was a monster last year!! I've also decided not to grow green beans this year. Instead, I think I'll go with tomatoes, zucchini, cucumber and maybe peppers. Also, this year I'm going to grow an herb garden in a window box. I'm certainly going to plant some basil, as there's nothing as delicious-smelling (herb-wise) as the perfume of fresh basil. :) And now that I have a food processor, I'm anxious to try to make some fresh pesto that doesn't turn into a mess!

Anyone got some other suggestions for easy things to grow?

Ask the Cook, Part II

I haven't done any questions in a while, so here goes:

What are some of your favorite things to make, that you really don't get sick of making? Simple stuff that turns out delicious and like you made a whole lot of effort to pull off. Stuff like roast chicken, pasta dishes and brownies.

What's something you really hate to make? Egg salad. I can't stand the smell of the stuff, nevermind the taste. But it's one of Brian's favorites, so I make it sometimes and call it "My labor of love." :)

What are three things that are always in your fridge: 2% milk, American Cheese and probably two dozen eggs.

What condiment can you not live without? Probably ketcup, it's got so many uses. Or soy sauce. Don't make me choose!

Name a guilty pleasure in your kitchen: ice cream. I've tried to give it up or cut back a few times, but it's the only thing I just can't cut out. (Sweet ice cream....how I love thee)

Lastly, what pantry item do you stock up on the most? I always seem to have a bunch of half-empty boxes of pasta floating around. I've started dating the top of the box with a Sharpie when I open it so I'll use them in order. I think those dates are going to scare me sooner or later!

Friday, March 20, 2009

A Fried Mess

Tonight's menu was supposed to be a new recipe for chicken stuffed with goat cheese and garlic. It's Friday. By the time Friday rolls around every week the last thing I want to do is cook, so I don't know why I did this to myself. So instead of that, I convinced Hubby that we hadn't had fried chicken in a long time and that's what we should have. Score!!

I dipped chicken breasts in beaten egg and then breaded them, (one of my least favorite things, right up there with rolling meatballs) and I dropped it gently into the hot oil. Then I always scramble the leftover egg for Joey, who needs treats too! Discovering that my two saucepans were in the dishwasher (and I forgot to run it, so it smelled lovely) I needed to cook rice in the microwave. Tonight's veggie was opening a can of peas. After all, I was putting in the effort to make fried chicken, a fresh veggie was just too much work.

Perhaps I should have put some more effort into the chicken after all. First of all, I learned that large chicken breasts do not fry well, you have to cut them down a little so they'll get even exposure in the oil. The outside of the chicken got reaallll toasty, though not burned enough to become an entry for the Museum of Burnt Food! However, upon checking, the interior of the chicken was totally raw. As AB would say, "That's not Good Eats." Since I had already started the rice, I decided to throw it in the fridge for Sunday's dinner instead of letting it go to waste.

The night wasn't a total disappointment, though. We ended up ordering sushi rolls and splitting my fave Sesame Chicken and some Pineapple Fried Rice. I love all that stuff!

Now it's three hours later and I just had the sinking realization that the rice is still in the microwave. Oh well!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Calling All Substitutes

Ever stockpile one ingredient in the house that you'll never run out of it? In our house, that's typically oatmeal packets and breadcrumbs. And when I run out of either of those things it's like "Seriously? How can we be out??"

We had Chicken Scampi on Thursday night, and Brian was halfway through cutting up the chicken when we discovered the breadcrumb shortage. Hmmm.....how about substituting smashed-up Ritz crackers? It ended up working pretty well. Then I had taken out a package of ground turkey to thaw for Friday night's dinner. We ended up blowing it off and having leftovers, we're a bit lazy on Fridays. I was out shopping with my mother when I got the frantic text message: "How can I make turkey burgers when we don't have breadcrumbs?? Don't say crackers because we're out of Ritz crackers." And I'm betting the Teddy Grahams in the house probably wouldn't work either, huh? (yuck!)

Leave it to Brian to get innovative. The result was a tasty, spicy, delicious turkey burger. I was very glad this afternoon that there were leftover burger patties to put in the toaster oven for lunch. I had mine with spicy brown mustard and a little bit of red onion, and it was great!

"Necessity is the Mother of Innovation" Burgers

1.5 lb ground turkey
1 c. ground pretzels
1 tbsp Emeril Essence
1/4 c. shredded parmesan
2 tbsp shredded mozzarella
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 egg

Mix all ingredients well. Form into six patties. Cook in cast-iron skillet over medium heat for 15 minutes, turning every couple of minutes. Serve on toasted buns with brown mustard.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Ones that Get Away...

Ever have something out that you would never make at home?? Well, every time I go to a restaurant I try to pick things off the menu that I normally wouldn't make. I got to have two of those things this weekend: Chicken Marsala and Sushi. Not at the same time, of course.

Chicken Marsala is one of my favorite things on this planet. I've had it many different places, and some are better than others. I've never made it because I'm afraid of screwing it up and if I ended up making it really well I would want it all the time. So really, it's for self-preservation. Marsala wine sauce and mushrooms....oh it's so good. I know it's terrible for me. But sometimes I just don't care.

I absolutely LOVE sushi. I know that sushi is really popular now with lots of sushi restaurants springing up--but I loved it even before it became popular in the grocery store. One of Brian's and my favorite dinner stories was one night on Restaurant Row, pulling up a seat at the sushi bar and ordering platter after platter. Not knowing what exactly was IN all of those rolls but loving all of it. I would NEVER attempt sushi at home, because it's so good out. And I just can't get the quality of fish that the sushi places can get.

Now that I've mentioned it, I'm headed to eat the leftover Chicken Marsala from last night. And I'm really psyched up for it!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Blueberry, Blueberry

Will's been begging for blueberry muffins lately, but I was bored of the same ol' blueberry muffins from a mix. I had bought blueberries when they were "buy one, get two free" and froze them. The ones I defrosted last week were starting to look like they were thinking of crossing over to the dark side, so it was time for some action. Hence, the Individual Blueberry -Coconut Pound Cake Muffins. Brian loves anything with coconut, and they have lime zest as well. They're awesome!!!