March 27th, 2008 | No Comments »

The last two mornings I have been enjoying my new favorite breakfast for the gal on the go- a spinach smoothie.

It looks totally icky. Jeff says it is a cross between that slime on Nickelodeon and the scene in the movie Gremlins where the little green monster blows up in the microwave.

I know, it looks grody, but it is surprisingly good. The health benefits are obvious, another serving of veggies in drinkable form, but you’re also supposed to start craving green leafys like LOTS more if you drink this smoothie. Now there are many recipes out there, but I just modified mine to suit my tastes (and what I had on hand.) In my handy-dandy magic bullet blender (I just LOVE my Magic Bullet) I combine the following: ice, orange juice, a blob of nonfat yogurt (any flavor will do), a handful of spinach, 1/2 banana (strawberries would probably also be nice) and some flax seed. Churn until about this consistency:

I know, still gross. But it is tasty, I swear!

Last night I made a wonderful Smoky Refried Bean Soup, a recipe from  Fat Free Vegan Kitchen. Again, not a vegan here, I probably could be happily vegetarian, but I loves me some cheese. (And we put some cheese as a garnish on this soup, sorry, had to be done.)  The soup itself was both easy and wonderful. I love refried beans, particularly my grandmother’s- and never the canned ones- but in this recipe, canned refried beans really make the texture of this soup deliciously velvety and the fire-roasted tomatoes… mmmmmmmmm. I give it two enthusiastic thumbs up and plan to make this soup again.

As for the smoothie, I’ll continue to do that too, until I turn green or something.

Posted in Cooking
February 14th, 2008 | No Comments »

Happy Valentine’s day and all, but dude, it is farking cold outside. So I make soups to cope with not being able to feel my appendages. Or really this one would be more aptly named a “stoup” because it is thick and hearty- and this recipe is 100% MY creation (so if it offends your sensitive palette, please feel free to keep that information all to yourself…)

Jeff loves the soup at our local favorite Mexican place. Like, he gets a sniffle and wants the soup. He then oohs and aaahs his way through a bowl of this soup and wants it at least once a week. I agree, it is very good, but seriously, it’s just soup- with flavors, which are to me, all easily identifiable. The chicken broth, shredded chicken, onions, rice, tomatoes, chili powder, fresh cilantro, lime juice and avocados. I was convinced I could do this one.

And I totally  did.

In favor of using the crock pot whenever possible, this is a crock-pot friendly recipe (YAY!)- the crock pot is essential to achieve that shredded chicken that has been slow cooked all day thang.

Mexican Restaurant Chicken and Rice Stoup

Combine the following in a crock pot and turn to “low” all day long:

1 very large frozen split Chicken Breast, 1 large can crushed tomatoes, 1 small white onion chopped, 1 can chicken broth, 1/2 lime freshly squozen lime juice, 2 TBS-ish (or just a LOT) of chili powder, ground red pepper (to taste) 1 cube chicken buillon, 1 1/2 cups water (Later you will have to fish out the chicken breast, shred the chicken and remove the bones and return all meat to the pot, but it is well worth the effort.)

When you get home:

Make about two servings of rice (I used brown rice), slice the remaining lime, dice an avocado, and coarsely chop a bunch of fresh cilantro. When you are ready to eat, turn off the crock pot and stir in the cilantro. Serve soup over rice, garnish with chunked avocado and some more lime juice.

I served this stoup with some cheese quesadillas made with sharp cheddar and whole wheat tortillas. Mmmmmmm. Tasty.

Alas, I don’t take photos of my cooking, they are never very pretty or interesting, but I do have a favorite picture of mine, a happy man, a monster burrito and coincidentally at the very same restaurant that inspired this recipe!

Stay tuned to see why this photo is particularly special today of all days!

Posted in Cooking
February 11th, 2008 | 1 Comment »

For Carnivores Only!

Sometimes I’m completely uninspired in the kitchen, and sometimes I just want to make something easy and ‘man-pleasing.’ This recipe is my Auntie Kathryn’s and it rocks.

If you like Brunswick Stew but don’t want to spend a million years preparing all the meats (yes I said “meats” plural) this is the recipe for you. Also good to have on hand for the eventual but unlikely snowstorm because it is comprised of all canned items.

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Posted in Cooking
January 24th, 2008 | 3 Comments »

Post’s Blueberry Morning changed their recipe and for months I have been struggling to find a cereal that Jeff will eat, the key ingredients being dried blueberries and the ‘perfect’ flake combination that isn’t too puffed and isn’t too grainy (?!) I didn’t really know what he is talking about either, but I’ve been knocking myself out buying cereals that might tempt him. “Honey, how is THIS one? No?” Ok back to the drawing board.

Jeff has two cereals that he likes right now, one is Peanutbutter Cap’n Crunch (which doesn’t count obviously because it is all sugar and What are you, seven? Not to mention, ew.) and the other is a praline granola I purchased at Trader Joe’s on a whim (for ME) which isn’t exactly right around the corner. So I had to get creative because lord knows the man would starve without me, or worse, increase his weekly bacon intake..

I made some homemade granola last night based on this recipe for Apple Flax Granola at one of my favorite cooking blogs, Vegan Yum Yum. I’m not a vegan, but I like to cook and I love eating as many vegetables as I can- and I’m inspired by vegetarian and vegan recipes with the use of unique ingredients that add nutrition to your meals. I had to make some minor alterations, of course. First I subbed dried blueberries for the currants (because we weren’t so sure what currants were and if they are in the raisin family I would lose Jeff, not to mention the previously stated blueberry prerequisite.) Also, since he has a tad of a sweet tooth I wanted to ‘enhance’ the sweetness of this cereal without adding any real ‘sugar.’ So I added sesame seeds and a small spoonful of molasses and increased the baking time so it would be very crunchy.

We achieved success! I am very happy with the results and the man is happily munching on yogurt, granola and fresh fruit for breakfast (two points for me and the great battle of nutrition!) But there are already some downsides, now I have to MAKE him his freakin’ cereal. Good thing I made a bunch, we should be good for at least a week or so, depending on how much he really likes it.

Posted in Cooking
November 13th, 2007 | 1 Comment »

Imagine it surrounded by blue jello and you have the finished project. It is two sheet cakes stacked (then frozen) then carved in the general shape of a naval aircraft carrier. (the most expensive part of this cake were the airplanes- but they were absolutely necessary for the success of the piece and they came with the bonus blue sky backdrop.) The tower is made from two mini-loafs, frozen then cut (a very important step) and then iced with pretzels stuck in for the antennae. All in all, it was a very cool cake to make and pretty tasty (so I’ve heard) so I think it to be a success. I do believe I may have peaked in my short career as a hobbyist/amateur cake chef. I don’t think I can out do this one, so I’m going to retire for a bit- maybe focus on pies. If you want to see REAL culinary talent, please check out my friend Jen at sugarchef.com. (Hi Jen!) She is a south-Floridian now and I haven’t seen her in ages, but she remains a pastry chef and artist that has impeccable taste and talent, and I love her dearly!

Also, I finished my Le Slouch last night (helloooo- free pattern over at Knit and Tonic!) Actually, it started as a Christmas gift, hence the no progress photos so as to not spoil the surprise, but then I remembered how last year, I made all these cute beaded fingerless mitts and never a pair for myself (sniff sniff) so I decided to keep her.

Besides, I had to retool the gauge a tad (I was using a finer yarn than the pattern called for.) And I swatched. Ok, I semi-swatched so it is a hair bigger than it could be, but it is a slouchy beret and I love it. Crap, don’t ask me to recall the yarn. I bought it at Hobby Lobby a month or so ago. I actually think it is actually a baby yarn, but it is cool with this little white and pink wrap around the black, made the seed stitch really ‘pop.’ Yes, probably asscrylic, but it is soft and I don’t care. I do have an affinity for black and pink together, so this was meant to be my hat. (See how I justify being so far behind on the holiday knitting and keeping an FO for myself?) I’m not going to sweat it, really.

Tah!

October 25th, 2007 | 1 Comment »

So, first- I finished Sheldon and I used a retro yarn color palette (and the yarn itself is probably ‘vintage’ since it was once a friend of mine’s Grandma’s Stash.)

He is far from perfect, and might be a tad over stuffed, but he is a cute little f*@&er! I added a little turtle ‘smirk’ to cover a minor flaw and now I love him even more! (He is to be a gifty for a special friend this Christmas!)

Next up, I cooked dinner last night. And not just any dinner, I was inspired by this recipe in the recent Southern Living- Corn Waffles and Cajun Shrimp and Vegetables and I made up my own “Spazz” version with what I had already in stock. And OH-MY-GOD everyone should make their cornbread in waffle irons, seriously, it is like all crust (like this brilliant brownie pan that I covet, covet, covet.) Anyhoo, I took no photos because I was too busy making an Apple Pie. I’ve been thinking about pie for weeks- maybe months. I dunno, just cuz. And I got to talking to my Mom yesterday about wanting to make a pie (crust from scratch and everything) and that Sarah Lee or whomever in the frozen food section just wasn’t going to cut it. So I did. I Googled “Apple Pie” and came up with this recipe.

This is me in full on pie mode- which was then served a la mode- so that is a good thing.

P.S. and by the way- God Bless the Cuisinart with dough blade. Moo-moo watched my every move. I suppose in her own way she was ‘helping.’ My pie wasn’t as pretty as the one in the photo online, but it was mighty tasty.

Yes, that is an mmm-mmm good Campbell’s soup bowl. Because hot pie and Häagen-Dazs could get sloppy on a plate, you know? We ate pie and watched my new favorite show, Pushing Daisies. If you don’t watch it- you must- it is one of the best things on TV right now (other than Heroes) and it comes on at 8 PM on Wednesdays.

And now for a work-in-progress. I teased that I was actually making a corset to go with a yet-to-be-revealed Halloween costume, and yes, I am indeed making one. Jeff doesn’t understand how it is going to hold anything up without boning, but it isn’t really a structural garment, it is more like a really wide belt. Can you handle it?

Now, it only looks like a big, ribbed, square, I swear. In actuality it is an ultra-sexxy corset fit for a queen. Hmmmm. I think the super-sexiness must come with the crochet border, right? Nothing sexier than crochet. I’m almost finished really and not worried at all. Nope. I’m sure I’ll find the time tonight- er- no, maybe tomorrow, um, wait going to this concert, ok, then on Saturday, the day of the party, sure thing, I don’t have anything else to do that day, no problemo.

All you SAFF-heads, have a rip-roarin’ good time and please, please, bring your schwag to the next meetin’ so I can ooh and aaah and rub my face on your fiber. You don’t mind, right? My face is normally pretty clean.

September 27th, 2007 | 5 Comments »

I don’t know why I do it to myself- I don’t even really enjoy eating cake all that much- but I feel the need to bake for people’s monumental occasions that celebrate their birth (i.e. birthdays.) Sick and sad as it seems- some folks apparently like this tradition and I may have just screwed the pooch on this one as, it seems, the birthdays keep on coming and I’m having to outdo myself time and time again. (but seriously, will it ever be better than the great Pirate Cake collaboration 2007? I think not.) In this particular instance, I made a birthday cake in the shape of a purse for Rachel’s 30th birthday from a recipe I found here.

Totally cute idea. I followed the instructions exactly (well, a minor strawberry cake mix substitution) but almost exactly. I got this late Friday night:

Now, I must interject that as I made it, Jeff was expressing his concerns from a basic construction standpoint. But I wanted to follow the directions. And for him to shut up. (Not necessarily in that order.) I should have listened to Mr. Erector-Set (tee-hee- erector) because at 6:30 AM on Saturday morning, I had this:

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September 13th, 2007 | 2 Comments »

Yesterday I called Jeff and told him to throw some frozen chicken in the crock pot and pour some cream ‘o something on the top- we were having chicken and rice for dinner and I thought a head start would be nice. Now, my man is very smart, but intelligence and spending time in the kitchen with momma and grandmomma aren’t the same thing. This is his first time being exposed to some basic Crockpot cooking, and I’m more than happy to help him through it- he’ll be a pro in no time- nothing like just turning the thing ‘on’ and being done with dinner.

He did say to me “What if there isn’t any Cream of Mushroom Soup in the cabinet?”

(Snigger) Well, honey, in the south, there just always is.

His instructions were to turn the crock pot to low, thunk in the chicken and pour on soup, and no, don’t stir it.

I forgot one minor detail. Do you see it?

How about now?

I neglected to tell him to take the paper off of the back of the boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Oops.

It was still delicious, and we had a good laugh. A very good laugh. A very, very good laugh. There were some tears and knee slapping and I had to call my mom.

I sure do love my mayun- he keeps me entertained.

Posted in Cooking, Food, Personal
July 20th, 2007 | No Comments »

For my birthday I received the Silver Palate Cookbook from my boss. She knows how much I enjoy cooking and with her impeccable taste selected the most perfect book on the planet. This place, the Silver Palate, is apparently very well known for amazing catering and the like.

I haven’t been much for turning the oven or stove on since it is summer, so I selected the “Summer Pasta” as my first crack at the book. It is a no-cook pasta sauce that calls for fresh tomatoes (and thanks to my mom, I had some to supplement my one) fresh basil from my herb garden, garlic, olive oil, and chunks of brie. You let the linguine gently ‘heat’ the sauce and thus release all the flavors.

I made the man’s favorite salad (not much on the vegetable count which is probably why he likes it) but it has field greens, bleu cheese, mandarin oranges, dried cranberries, toasted almonds, crunchy Chinese noodles and balsamic vinaigrette.

Yes, we had lots of cheese at dinner last night. No- I didn’t take a single photograph! But it was as beautiful a dish as it was good. I’m thinking it will be tasty leftover tonight, although I’m not sure how I will recreate the “gently heated” aspect again. Once again, I inadvertently planned an entirely vegetarian meal. (My poor, poor man.) I think I must have the tendency to eat this way from time to time and particularly in the summer.

Anyhoo, I highly recommend this cookbook to anyone who likes to cook or read about cooking. The margins of the pages are peppered with interesting tips on nurturing your creative side, such as, how to inspire yourself to play with unique flavor combinations in your cooking, technical tips like how to deglaze a pan- mingled with quotes about the joy of food and suggested event menus (I like the “nuptial brunch” that commences with figs and prociutto, mmmmmm.)

Posted in books, Cooking
July 6th, 2007 | 4 Comments »

Yay! The Pirate Cake is completed in time for the party tonight for Captain Jack‘s 30th birthday! The idea all started when I purchased my castle bunt pan back in April. I wanted to make something so badly, but just didn’t have the particular occasion. So the seed was planted and the idea flourished and I thought that a Lord of the Rings cake would rock. Unfortunately, Target, Toys R’ Us and Wal-Mart thought differently.

But we did manage to find pirates. DR-Boy said- hey- we can make a castle and a beach and then some WATER in order to justify the use of pirates! It sounded like a good idea to me, and so began our great “collaboration”.

Now when a control-freak and a perfectionist put their heads together, not everything comes out sweet. Actually, we are lucky we didn’t kill each other in some icing-coated massacre.

So we begin. I had my initial concerns, this frightened me:

That is a LOT of crevices for cake junk to get stuck in.

Luckily I purchased this:

And a Joy it was, indeed. The cake came out slicker than snot (if you will excuse the expression.)

So I made a bunt and sheet cake. I was finished baking. Ready to decorate. That is when Psycho Perfectionist (also known as Delayed Reaction Boy) swooped in to say that it wouldn’t be big enough do do land, sea AND castle. After much heated discussion, this happened.

Damn skippy. YOU think it isn’t big enough, YOU bake the next cake. (Um, he was right, by the way, about MANY things in this collaboration, but so was I, not that I keep track of that kind of thing. Oh, P.S. and by the way, I am a bit of a control freak, I CAN share but don’t like to, sue me!)

Moving on, he carefully shaped the terrain

I mixed the icing colors for land and sea

The Twizzler Cracken was introduced

Golden Oreo Crumb Beach (One of the things I was right about, but I’m not keeping score or anything.)

Castle dusted with powder sugar and supporting icing “bushes”

Fruit Roll-Up Flags

Voila! (Aerial View)

Yes, the pirates on the boat seem slightly smaller than the ones on land, but that is only because they are oh so very far away. They are WAY out on the ocean. Yes they are. Shut up.

The palm trees are cookie sticks, pretzels, icing and fruit roll-ups. Notice the mini goldfish surfing the waves. This cake is really awesome. No, I have no idea how we will transport the thing, I’m thinking a glass or two of wine so that I will be bold enough to balance it on my lap for transport and less likely to freak out. This sucker is pretty big.

Go here to see all the progress photos of the creation of Captain Jack’s Pirate Cake for his big 30th Birthday!

Trips to the Grocery Store: Four

Money Spent: Some

Moments Spent Planning the Demise of One’s Boyfriend: Too many to count.

Look on the Birthday Boy’s Face: Priceless.

Have a good weekend!