Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Week in Review

THIS has been a crazy week.  I'm killing a few minutes prior to taking over an obscene amount of meat for grilling at a friend's Boys' Night Shit Show, so let's discuss.

Sunday:  Mothers' Day French Soiree at my house.  The highlights include a massive souffle fail that was totally my fault because I got distracted, using the word "fuckilicious" at dinner and then being told, "I never thought Mothers' Day would be like this."

Sample Batch
How it turned out...
Monday:  Rather uneventful or perhaps I just have memory loss.  Worked in the morning, did some writing in the afternoon.

Tuesday:  Celebrated a friend's election victory in what used to be a super-divey bar.  Introduced some random kid who was born in the 90's and clearly on at least two substances to Deb ((my mother)) as my long-term skateboard park managing boyfriend.  She only bought it for a couple of minutes, but still some funny stuff.  There is a hilarious picture which I am sadly not in possession of where he and I are posing together and his arm is hovering over my shoulder because he was afraid I'd drive a stiletto through his jugular if he touched me.

Wednesday:  Massive blondification.  Like, really, really fothermucking blonde.  Followed that up by decorating the campaign winner's yard and learning the true value of silly string.  Lesson of the day:  If you drop the roll of crepe paper behind a rose bush, don't climb in there to get it.  Especially not in a skirt.  Ow.  I would post a picture but his name is all over it and I'm POSITIVE the last thing he wants is Google leading anyone to this nonsense.

Thursday:  Made dinner and accidentally overserved Joy.  Discovered that even if you drop something on the bottom of the oven, it is totally within the rules to scape it back into the dish and eat it.  That evening, learned I had gotten a steady writing job!  Poured Joy more wine to celebrate.  ((It's a freelance gig where they are asking people to produce several articles a day...  I won't be paying cash for a Rolex any time soon because of it, but...  It. Is. Awesome.))

Friday:  Had a FANTASTIC day getting Partner in Crime tattoos.  Also, had the pleasure of eight people walking into the tattoo shop while your friend here was in quite the state of undress.  Those pictures are probably on the Internet elsewhere.  Later, hung out with a bunch of girlfriends where we stayed up late and told each other lies.  FUN.

Saturday:  Got ready for the Boys' Night party by seasoning up an unreasonable amount of meat products.  Learned that the organic dog treats and Slobberloaf are going to become fixtures in a retail store downtown.  Did more happy dances.

And there you have it.  Oh right.  I'm supposed to be writing recipes.  Here's what I'm making for breakfast tomorrow...

Unnamed Deliciousness:
1 cup Greek yogurt ((with whey restirred in))
4 tablespoons of honey
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 avocado, mashed

What you do:  Mix all of the above together.  Apply to hair, coating from root to tip.  Wrap in a damp towel that you have microwaved for 60 seconds.  Sit in the sun for 30 minutes while wearing SPF a million.  Rinse thoroughly.  

See?  Recipes and hair tips.  I really am full-service.  Gotta run...

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Spinach Salad with Apricots and Kiwi Vinaigrette, PIC's, and Taste Testers

I am totally, completely, and utterly ((and probably a few other superlatives)) one of those people that once I get an idea in my head, I can't shake it.  That probably explains a lot of things, right?  I'm in that frame of mind on a couple of projects right now.  I really don't know what the hell I did with myself "before."  I honestly cannot fathom what I was doing with my time other than completely wasting it.  I'll give you an update once it crystallizes a little more.  Which will probably be by tomorrow.  Or maybe before I finish writing this post.  We shall see.


Today I threw together a quick salad and came up with a new vinaigrette which turned out much better than I expected.  A spinach salad topped with apricots and kiwi with a kiwi vinaigrette.

What you need for two servings:

One bunch of spinach, thoroughly washed and chopped
6 apricots, sliced into quarters
4 kiwis, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons EVOO
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Black pepper

What to do:

Assemble the salad with the spinach, all of the apricots, and two of the kiwis.

Using your blender, throw in the other two kiwis, the olive oil, and the vinegar.  Pulse it several times to combine.  Add a few cracks of black pepper and sample.  Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and that's it!

Obviously, there are tons of things you could add to this salad:  grilled chicken, shrimp, almonds, dried cranberries, candied walnuts maybe.  Whatever strikes your fancy.  Some people might prefer to strain the seeds out of the dressing... I thought they were good and added some nice texture.  Again, up to you.

I couldn't begin to tell you when the last time was I had apricots.  My rough guess is somewhere in the 80's.  So, so good.

Nutritional info:  Superstar.  Approximately 200 calories and 4 grams of fat as shown here.


I'm making dinner for a friend tonight.  I was digging through my email folder entitled "Recipes" and came across something I saved entitled "Lick Your Plate Italian Piccata."  I don't think I made it before, but I could be wrong.  Doing that with some rice, a caesar salad, fresh bread, and more souffles.  Yes, I know it is rough being one of my guinea pigs.  Tough job.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Margarita Chicken, Reorganizing, and Mischief

I'm back.  Well, I didn't really go anywhere, but regardless, I'm back.  After a long day on my feet on Sunday cooking for the Mothers' Day French Ambition Tour and a repeat of that Monday morning, I declared Monday afternoon/evening a work-free zone.  All I did during that 12 hours was finish two freelance projects, research what we are referring to as the World Domination Project ((evil laugh here,)) and have a text conversation about absolutely nothing which required in excess of 50 sent messages.  Time well spent.  

The seemingly never-ending political campaign ended last night with the victory toasted with Roger Clyne's Mexican Moonshine.  ((Only four people were being actively babysat after said toast, so that's a decent ratio.))  It got me thinking...  we should make tequila lime chicken.  Alas, my plans were slightly thrown off course when I discovered I didn't actually have tequila ((which if you have seen my bar that should lead to a major, "What? The? Fuck?"))  SkinnyGirl Margaritas to the rescue.

SkinnyGirl Margarita Chicken

What you need:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup of my personal hero Bethenny Frankel's SkinnyGirl Margarita
1/2 cup of orange juice
1 huge squeeze of lime
Dashes of the following: sea salt, chili pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, dried parsley, and black pepper

What to do:

Place the chicken breasts in a glass bowl, stab it repeatedly with a fork ((you can mutter your ex's name, your boss's name, or whoever's name while you do this for free therapy points,)) and then dump everything else in.  Mix it around a little of that the meat is covered with a little bit of everything.  Cover with some form of cling wrap and refrigerate for at least a half an hour, but as long as overnight.  

When you are ready to eat, preheat your grill on at maximum heat.  When it is really fracking hot, throw the breasts on the grill and let them sear on BLAST ((a real setting, remember?)) for one minute on each side.  Reduce the heat to a nice medium and let cook for approximately 4-5 minutes on each side.  Do not flip them a million times!  After the searing, once is seriously enough.  Over-flipping is what dries them out.  Stop it.  Also, no re-marinating!  Once it is on the grill, it is marinated enough.  Adding more marinade just increases your contamination risk.  Feel free to sprinkle on more spices if you like though.  That's allowed.

Grilling times will vary based on how hot your medium is and how big your breasts are.  Ahem.  ((I can't help myself.  Every single time.  I'm such a child.))  Test them with a meat thermometer ((I never do this, I like to live dangerously)) or slice into the thickest part of one to check for doneness.

This is delicioso as is, or you can top it with a little bit of shredded Mexican cheese, some diced avocado, tomato and/or chopped cilantro.  I'm doing pinto beans on the side, but black beans or even refried beans ((if you hate your waistline)) would be good additions.  

Nutritional Info:  For a 4 ounce serving of chicken, approximately 230 calories and 5 or so grams of fat.  Win!


This is probably of interest to almost no one, but I recently reorganized my kitchen and it has reduced my aggravation about a gzillion percent.  Now keep in mind, I cook every day, frequently for more than a couple of hours and twice a week or so, in 8 hour spurts.  However, if you are frustrated with never being able to find the spices you want or if you can't reach the olive oil you use 4 times a week, move it!  It seems like a chore, but really, it only takes a couple of minutes.  The things you use the most need to be in your reach.  Make your life easier!


Lately a lot of people have been asking for quick, light recipes.  I aim to serve, so stay tuned!  


I'm off to get re-blondified and then create a little mischief...  

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Lemon Risotto, Mother's Day Menu, and All at Once

I discovered today that my kitchen is sufficiently organized that if I put a bar stool in the center, I can reach everything without standing up.  No, this is not pure laziness; this is my lower back being in total, absolute, complete revolt.  Oddly, I have full range of motion while sitting, so I can actually dry dishes and put them into the lower cabinets; twist around behind me to grab something from over the microwave; etc.  Just don't ask me to stand up for more than about 4 out of 10 consecutive minutes.  Awesome, huh?  It's getting better.  ((Fingers crossed.))


I'm taking a little break from the Mother's Day Feast preparation...  Tonight's menu includes ((did I write this last night?  Can't remember....)) chicken breasts stuffed with proscuitto and mozzarella with an orange buerre blanc, lemon risotto, roasted green beans, caprese salad, French bread with a special French butter, and Grand Marnier souffles with a blackberry/orange reduction.

A quick aside before we get to the risotto recipe.  People ask me constantly how to pull off doing numerous things with a relatively high degree of difficulty all at once.  The key is to be able to tell what you can reheat and what you can't.  Also, what you can do ahead and what you can't.  For example, because I didn't know what I was doing, I made the blackberry reduction last night.  It was experimental and so if it didn't turn out, I still had time to go back to my original plan of creme anglaise.  Obviously, the blackberry sauce can be reheated at a low heat without changing it.  The caprese salad will be better after several hours in the fridge.  The chicken can be stuffed ahead of time and kept in the fridge until ready to bake.  Veggies can almost always be prechopped and seasoned.  The risotto can be rewarmed in the oven with another little splash of chicken broth and some more butter.  The souffles?  Notsomuch.  It spreads out the "work" ((or the fun, if you are me)) and takes the stress out of something surprising you by not working out.

ANYWAY, lemon risotto.  I might have eaten a bite of this that I spilled off the floor.  If you either know me in real life or "know" me through this site, you understand I am a carbaholic.  I'm not sure I have met a carb or a starch that I didn't like.  This is still rich and creamy and carbalicious, but is spring-y-er with the lemon.  Yes, that's a word.

Risotto does NOT photograph well, but this site isn't about pretty pictures.  Those are just a very occasional benefit.  This is about the food and how to turn someone who can't make Mac and Cheese from a box into someone that can pull off a dinner party.  So there.

Adapted from Bon Appetit

What you need:

Makes 6 first-course or 4 main-course servings.

6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large shallots, chopped
2 cups arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 teaspoons grated lemon peel

What to do:

Here's the thing with risotto.  It's not like regular rice where you just dump the water in and let it go wild.  You actually have to work with it to get it to release and turn into something awesome.  It is kind of a little work, but it is totally worth it.

You are going to have two pots going.  Start by heating up the chicken broth in a large stock pot.  Once it starts simmering, turn the heat down.

Melt 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with the olive oil in a second heavy, large saucepan over medium heat. Add the diced shallots and saute until tender.  This will take about 5 minutes.  Don't burn them!

Add the rice into the pan with the shallots and stir for 1 minute. Then add the wine ((after taking a swig from the bottle)) and stir until evaporated.  It will take about 30 seconds. ((No, the wine will not result in one of those big flame thingies like you see on TV.))

Here is the part that gets a little long.  You are going to add your hot chicken broth to the pan slowly.  Start with about a cup.  Only once that is basically absorbed can you start adding the rest of the broth 1/2 cup at a time.  You HAVE to keep stirring it.  Not constantly, constantly, but pretty damn often.  Keep it up until all the broth is absorbed and the rice is creamy and tender, about 35 minutes.

Finally, stir in the cheese and remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Once the butter and cheese are melted, stir in the parsley, lemon juice, and lemon peel. For the love of carbs and Gaga don't get lemon seeds in there.  Use cheesecloth if  you must because they are REALLY fucking hard to distinguish from the rice and that shit is hot as you are digging around in there.  ((No, I didn't do that THREE TIMES, why do you ask?))  Season the risotto with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl and serve.


Nutritional Info:  Holiday calories don't count.  This is really fracking high.  Probably 400 for a small serving.


All right.  Time to get all Martha Stewart ((minus that prison part)) and decorate the table and maybe sneak another bite of risotto.