Wednesday, October 28, 2009
This morning, pre-coffee, I took a call from an incredibly irate customer. He was irate through no fault of my own, or fault of the company I work with. I took his tirade silently. My head was screaming "YOU IDIOT, let him have it!!!", but my mouth couldn't form the words. After listening to him rant for a while, I eventually told him to call someone else.
Had I had coffee at that point, I wouldn't have sat there silently.
I wish I could say that was the low point of my day. It went downhill from there. As my day increasingly got worse, my mood also declined. Eventually coworkers were warning other coworkers that I was on a rampage and that they should stay out of my path.
After this day was FINALLY over, I went to my sister's house. I am typing this as I am babysitting. Those of you about to chastise me for blogging whilst babysitting, my niece is sound asleep and I am sitting beside a baby monitor. (The boy child is out with his parents)
Speaking of the boy child, when I got to my sister's house he ran up to me, yelled my name, and gave me a big hug. As far as I know he had never said my actual whole name before, just variations of shortened versions of it. I would have to put that moment as the day's high.
(yeah yeah...I'm a sap)
My sister has been harassing me this week to blog about the dinner that she had made last Thursday for me. She made spaghetti squash with a red pasta sauce and chicken. I found it really tasty. I had never had spaghetti squash before, and it was a great healthy alternative to spaghetti noodles. I should have taken a picture, but I was too busy eating it to do so.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
The gym can be good for my mood. Sometimes if I am in a bad mood, I go to the gym, I work out harder and I leave feeling good. Sometimes though people bother me enough that I end up leaving more angry then when I came in.
I have several gym pet peeves. Like people who don't wipe off the machines after they use them. While most people think that it's really gross, and maybe even think it's inconsiderate (which it is), I take it to a new level. I feel as though they think they are so much better than everyone. As if their sweat isn't as disgusting as the rest of us peons. Or they have time to work out for thirty or forty minutes, but taking fifteen seconds to wipe down the machine? They're too busy and important. There was a pregnant girl who I saw a few weeks in a row who never wiped down her machine. I nearly followed her once to remind her that just because she's pregnant doesn't exclude her from cleaning up after herself. (I'm a people person)
I also get bothered by people who don't dress gym appropriate. I have seen people workout in jeans. Last week I saw a guy in cargo shorts and a polo shirt. For heaven's sake, don't you own a pair of gym shorts? Or sweatpants?
The thing that bothers me the most though, is people who use the cardio machine right beside the one I'm using when the whole row is empty. I need space! (especially if it's some old creepy weirdo)
I got home from the gym and after I cleaned up, I started making cheeseburgers. To make the patties I mix an egg, package of ground beef (about a pound), and panko bread crumbs. If you have never used panko you should start. They are far superior to regular breadcrumbs, and can be found in the oriental section of the grocery store.
Divide the mix into 4. Shape into hamburger patties, and form a well in the middle. They should look similar to bird's nests, not donuts. Fill the well with grated cheddar cheese and chopped, cooked, bacon. Push the sides of the well in so you are left with what looks like hamburger patties.
Now people are expecting a boring tasting burger and when they bite into it SURPRISE! there's cheese and bacon.
Set a pan on the stove on med-high and pour in some oil. (Or use the bacon fat from when you made the bacon for the burgers). Brown one side of the burgers for a couple minutes, flip, and brown the other side. If the burgers start to burn before being cooked through, you can always put the pan into the oven at 350 F so they will finish by baking.
I topped mine with sauteed onions and my favorite mushrooms from Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
I am a burger master!
Monday, October 26, 2009
Welcome to Monday everyone. For some reason today I am actually in a good mood. This is very rare for a Monday. Usually I am still homicidal after my first coffee, and finally become half personable around 11 am or so.
Not today. I have too much to be happy about in my life. One of them being a friend of mine is coming from out-of-province to spend the weekend with me. I love having guests for the weekend, especially ones that I don't get to see for long periods of time.
I don't have a food post today, last night I had leftover carbonara for dinner. Also uncharacteristic of me, since I don't like to eat leftovers for dinner.
Which brings me to... what makes you happy? Bonus if it's food related but feel free to mention anything.
My list includes:
-Brooklyn, my dog. (The one pictured above)
-A song that I love playing on the radio
-Getting my hair done
-Seeing my niece and nephew
-Making a recipe that came from my mom
Saturday, October 24, 2009
In a day and age where everyone is concerned about what they eat, and the rules of staying skinny.. here is someone who still enjoys eating. How many of us enjoy what we eat completely? I know I feel guilty about some of my meals sometimes. Can we truly enjoy our meal if every bite causes us to count our calorie intake?
Nigella is on the cover of the current Chatelaine. In an interview they ask her "Did you read about the recent study that showed most women in the U.K. would prefer to have your hourglass figure?" she answers with "Yes, and I don't want to sound ungrateful, but I don't believe it. All women want to be thin, and I think they have such unrealistic views about how thin they want to be. I'm prepared to believe men like my figure, because I don't believe straight men like thin women."
First of all, I agree with her. I think that women who look at her find her sexy and think they wish they had her curves. Deep down though, those same women are swearing off red meat and putting hours in at the gym to look the exact opposite of Nigella.
I don't believe that straight men like thin women, but I will say that a real man likes a real woman. Whether that woman is naturally curvy or naturally thin. A woman who is obsessed with changing herself... not so attractive.
However I do love that she said straight men don't like thin women.
And since we're on the subject of sexy...
They are just cookies in the shape of a gingerbread man and icing piped to make them look like skeletons. Super cute!!
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Cashier- did you find everything ok?
Me- yes I did thanks
Cashier- I see you rented two movies last night
Cashier- and you're getting 3 more today?
Me- don't judge me
Ok. That really didn't happen out loud so much as I imagined that's what she was thinking.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
I am a noisy person. Not just noise that I create by talking, or singing in some cases, but I need noise at almost all times. When I get home from work, I turn on the TV. Not to watch, but to have something on in the background. (I usually put it on the Food Network). I play music all day at work. What kind of music? Usually classic rock or 90's music. I'm not really a fan of any of the Top 40 that gets played these days. It's not really music so much as it's computer generated sound. The only time I don't have noise in the background is when I am reading. (And for those of you who haven't noticed, all my post titles are actually song titles as well).
My favorite meal is steak and lobster. My favorite thing to chop is onions, although sometimes I get carried away and end up bleeding. My favorite song is Patience by Guns N' Roses. Actually it's one of my favorite songs, there are many songs that could be labelled as my favorite. My favorite color is red. My kitchen is red. I have a red stand mixer, with a matching blender and immersion blender. My favorite dessert is creme brulee. My favorite time is 1:23 am. My favorite day is my birthday, which is strange because...
One of my biggest fears is aging. Not so much the part where I get older, but the part where I will look older. Since I was sixteen I have been using anti-aging skin care. I moisturize like a fiend as well. I use anti-wrinkle eye cream, lotions with elastin, and most importantly sunscreen. The fastest way to age your face is to tan it. Even in the winter I use sunscreen on my face. (My face moisturizer and my foundation both have SPF 15).
Yesterday I made an offhand comment to someone I have known for a while about how old I am. He replied "You're only 25? I thought you were older". Kill me now. If I look older than my 25, how am I going to look at 35??? At this point I was considering it might be time to look into a face lift.
I sometimes curse being born a woman. Men have it so easy. Before bed they brush their teeth and that's it. (At least I'm hoping they do). I have a 15 minute routine involving make up remover, cleanser, moisturizer... And how about getting ready to go out somewhere? Wash, dry, product-ify, and straighten my hair. Then apply my face. This takes a long time. (And costs a small fortune since I'm addicted to MAC). If I was a guy I would shave my head, and I could be out the door in 5 minutes. Not to mention they age like scotch and get better in time. (Not that I know what aged scotch tastes like, I'm just using the reference).
Speaking of men who age beautifully... Bruce Willis. In a moment of derangement on the weekend I went into WalMart (I know, I know... I hate them), and picked up a couple cheap DVDs starring Bruce Willis. And then made it Bruce Willis week at my place and am watching Bruce Willis movies all week.
You're welcome ladies.
Back to my depression from yesterday's aging comment. I didn't need to take any sort of pill to make myself feel better, because I discovered that butter and Bruce Willis will do the trick. For dinner I turned to the ultimate in comfort food... Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
So this post isn't too long, I will put the recipe in the comments section. The gist of this dish is beef sauteed in butter and oil, and then served in a sauce made from cream, butter and my new addiction; mushrooms sauteed in butter. I tell you, try these mushrooms and you will be making them all the time. I love them, and up until about 3 weeks ago you couldn't pay me enough to eat a mushroom.
Another thing about me. I'm incredibly scatterbrained. Last night while I was in the midst of finishing off the beef, I was making rice as a side. When it came time to cover the rice, I couldn't find the pot lid anywhere. I knew I had one... I looked in my dishwasher, in the pantry, in my bedroom, by the computer, the kitchen table and the oven drawer. I had no idea where I had left the stupid thing. I gave up and covered the pot with a lid that didn't fit. After I finished plating the meal, I opened the cupboard door to grab a drinking glass, and lo and behold there sat the pot lid. In a cupboard where I keep plates, bowls and glasses, not pots.
Yes, life with me can be crazy... but it's never boring.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
I had read the package wrong regarding the puff pastry, so instead of bringing it to my sisters place for supper, I put the filling in the fridge to use the next day. Life happened, and I was unable to eat the pot pie on Friday, so I put it in the freezer.
Fast forward to today. I pulled the pot pie out of the freezer this morning and left it in the fridge. When I got home from work I pulled the puff pastry out of the freezer. After two hours (as per the instructions) instead of having thawed puff pastry I had still-frozen puff pastry. As per the same instructions, I put the puff pastry in the microwave for two minutes.
Thank you instructions. #1) it should have been thawed after two hours at room temp, it was frozen solid still
#2) It said for fast defrost, microwave for 2-4 minutes.
Even after only microwaving for the lowest time recommended, I had been left with an oily, messy, doughy ball of goop. There is no way that mess was salvageable.
Brings me to the following advice. If you are going to be in the habit of trying new recipes, and working with unfamiliar ingredients... stock up on some easy backup foods like:
- frozen pizza
- dried pasta & canned sauces
- taco kits (store ground beef in the freezer)
- hamburger helper (same as above)
- canned soup
Sure, none of these things are impressive, but if you have spent a half hour/hour whatever on making a dish that somehow was ruined... you will appreciate having these simple backups ready to in only a short time. (And it sure beats trying to make something out of whatever is lying around the pantry)
A long time ago, years in fact, my sister bought me a brulee set which included a kitchen torch. I had never used the kitchen torch, mainly because I couldn't figure out how to work it. My friend showed me how this weekend (THANK YOU) and now I can brulee. Which is great since creme brulee is my favorite dessert of all time.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Everyday Food is made by Martha Stewart. However, unlike Martha Stewart's recipes, the EF features recipes that are easy to prepare. (There will be no need for cursing Martha the entire time you are making dinner)
The recipes in each issue will be made from ingredients that are in season at the time of the issue's release. For instance, recipes calling for fresh tomatoes will not be printed in January's issue when the tomatoes are not at their best.
All the ingredients are easy to find. (Except for canned chipotles in adobo sauce. I'm beginning to think this "everyday" ingredient is mythical).
I have never made a recipe from EF that hasn't been delicious. And I am always asked for the recipe when I make an EF dish for company. I bought my first issue on a whim about 3 years ago, and since then I have bought every single issue. Do yourself a favor and the next time you are at the grocery store pick up an Everyday Food.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
This is what happens when you drop a pepper grinder full of white peppercorns.
I wish I could say things like this rarely happen to me, but in reality they happen all the time. What makes it more interesting is the race to clean up all the peppercorns before the dog starts to eat them.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
I had decided to make Bifteck Saute Marchand de Vins, or Pan-Broiled Steak with Red Wine Sauce. To go with the steak I was going to make sauteed mushrooms and rice. (Crazy enough, MtAoFC contains recipes for rice).
I realized this was low in vegetable content. So to go with my very French meal I made Greek Salad. In honor of me renting and currently watching My Life in Ruins. (And if anyone has seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding, you might remember this hilarious part "He don't eat no meat? It's ok... I make lamb")
Ok.. Greek Salad. Easy as can be. Cut up a cucumber, a red pepper, a tomato (I used Roma), half a red onion, and a garlic clove. Add some dried basil, extra virgin olive oil, and the juice of half to a whole lemon. And some salt and pepper. You could toss in some olives too, but I don't because I hate them. (Sorry Grandma... strongly dislike them). Of course, no Greek Salad would be complete without feta cheese. And a lot of it. Let this all sit for about a half hour so all the veggies and cheese really pick up the flavor of the lemon and basil.
The steak... I love love love New York Strips. I look for the ones with fat along the side, but not so much in the middle, it's easy then to cut the fat off, and you get a lot of tasty meat. In a skillet, heat up a bit of butter and some oil. The butter is for taste, the oil is to keep it from burning too quick.
For medium rare, which is the correct way to have a steak, saute each side for 3 minutes. NEVER EVER flip the steak too soon. When it hits the hot pan the meat sticks to it, until it caramelizes a little bit and lifts off the pan.
When the 6 minutes are up, remove the steak and place it under foil for 5 minutes so it can rest. Do yourself a favor people, when you cook meat let it REST. If you cut into it right away, all the juices will run out. Let it rest, and the juices redistribute themselves into the meat.
Now drain the fat out of the pan, and add some butter to it. Saute a minced shallot, and then add half a cup of wine. I used red, but you can use white. Let it reduce until it's thick and syrupy. Remove from heat and stir in about 4 tablespoons of butter. Not all at once... add them in small pats.
Earlier on today I wasn't really feeling the rice. Or potatoes, it having been Thanksgiving and all. Since I was making everything with butter already... ravioli with a brown butter and sage sauce it was. However, I do not live near a magical grocery store. Like the ones on TV. Where you can go to a store and get any kind of pasta, or fresh seafood, or hard to find produce. So instead of ravioli I bought tortellini. And instead of remembering to buy sage, I forgot it.
Brown butter sauce is really easy. You melt butter in a pan. Until it turns brown. Hard I know. However, once it turns a golden to amber brown it needs to be removed from the heat. You do not want black butter sauce. Gross.
My favorite part about tonight's meal was the mushrooms. Ok that's not true... my favorite part was the steak. There is nothing better in this world, than a hunk of red meat.
Back to the mushrooms. Up until a week ago I hated mushrooms. I had even tried them three times.
I have a rule, in which everything must be tried three times as it just might have been the preparation that you didn't like, not the actual ingredient.
The trick to making these amazing mushrooms is to get the butter in the pan very hot. The butter is hot when it melts, foams, and the foam subsides a bit. Then place the quartered mushrooms in the hot butter. DO NOT CROWD THE MUSHROOMS! If they are crowded they sweat and steam and become disgusting chewy gross things. If they have room to breathe, they will brown and caramelize and the texture is amazing.
Plus since mushrooms absorb everything they taste like meaty butter. So good.
I tossed the mushrooms into the brown butter for the pasta and mixed it in with the pasta. Then I served the steak with the wine sauce on top.
Now I apologize for my terrible picture taking. Please believe that the food tasted really really
good, and it appears that I have to practice making it look more appetizing in photos...
Monday, October 12, 2009
Then we got lost while trying to find our way back. This kind of stuff happens to me all the time.
It can. The recipe can be found here:
This is what I did a bit differently. I used 7 slices of bacon, rather than the chunk bacon. I also browned the bacon, not just for 2 or 3 minutes. That gave off enough fat that I didn’t need oil to brown the meat.
My grocery store also didn’t have pearl onions, fresh or frozen. And I hate using canned veggies. So there was no pearl onions in mine.
The finished product was AMAZING. (I served it on top of buttered egg noddles) I have made good beef stews, and I have made good BBs before. This took the cake. It was heaven on a plate. I don’t even like mushrooms, but even the mushrooms were tasty buttery morsels.
Now I know some people might think after a meal this good, who needs dessert? I do.
I followed the BB with Baked Alaska. I have never even tasted Baked Alaska before, but I decided to make it. The recipe (courtesy of Everyday Food). Actually I need to stop here for a moment. Anybody who enjoys cooking, or wants to be a better cook, or is tired of cooking the same thing week in and week out, should start buying the Everyday Food magazine. Every recipe is simple, with easy to find ingredients, and the outcome is always delicious. I haven’t missed an issue since I bought my first one 3 years ago.
Individual Baked Alaska… This is not the official recipe.. this is the recipe in my words
You need: 3 egg whites, pinch of salt, half a cup of sugar, 4 slices of pound cake, and ice cream
1) cut the slices of pound cake so they fit into four ramekins. (I used Angel Food Cake since I couldn’t find pound cake)
2) scoop about half a cup of ice cream on top of the cake.
3) beat the egg whites with the pinch of salt until it forms soft peaks
4) gradually add the sugar and beat until it’s glossy and forms stiff peaks
5) top the ice cream with the meringue, and set in the freezer for at least one hour. (up to 1 day)
6) preheat oven to 450 F. Remove the ramekins from the freezer and place on a baking sheet. Let stand for 10 minutes.
7) place the baking sheet in the oven for 2-4 minutes, until the meringue is lightly browned. (mine took 2 minutes)
Also very very good. The meal was wonderful. I had excellent company, whose mom had recommended the wine used in the BB, a red Chilean wine by GratoNegro.
The results can be disastrous at times. They can also turn out to be so so so good. My passion is food. After a long day at the office, cooking dinner is not a chore to me. Turning everyday ingredients into a meal is so satisfying. I could talk about it forever.
Most of the people I know, do not share this same passion. I can see their eyes glaze over as I run on and on. So here I am. Sharing my passion with whoever chooses to read this…