Sunday, December 27, 2009

From my mobile phone...


Monday, December 21, 2009

Pinchin Pennies

How often does the average person go out to eat?  including take out, socializing, etc?  I seem to go in waves...eating out for days in a row and then feeling middle class guilt and cooking at home.  So, today I ventured into the recesses of my freezer and fridge and made up a dee-lish meal.  Pan cooked salmon with chili raspberry sauce, organic green chard with EVOO and garlic, and potato slices par-fried in butter and garlic.  See the madness below:

Love salmon cooked a bit under. Costco salmon is so good! Dont mind the camera phone pic quality...use your mind's eye and smellivision.  Sauce is from Fresh and Easy...yum. 

Perfect winter potatoes.  Take some meaty taters, slice about 1/2 inch thick length wise and fry in shallow oil about 10 minutes each side.  Toss in garlic and butter after you have cooked the first side and add S&P.  Trust me, you wanna make this sometime.  I have a feeling that they will also tolerate a reheat much better than french fries since they are not supposed to be as crunchy as french fries or other tater versions.  Pair away. 

I have only in this past year have become hip to the goodness of organic chard.  I usually buy the green or swiss variety...not yet bored of it to try the red or rainbow variety.  So far, it has worked fabulously in chowder, with marinara and meatballs, quiche, as a side item, etc.  Today, it married well with garlic bits and EVOO.  Go easy on the salt since this green tends to suck up salty juices.  I guess you could give it the collard green treatment and dash it with hot sauce, but I frankly didnt feel the need in this case.  Stands on its own merit...simple but good ingredients. 

Last but not the least...this was a sandwich I made a few nights ago.  Take very crusty sourdough bread, delis swiss, your fave meat filler and a nice hot pan.  Again, my recipes rely on simple but fresh ingredients and a few minutes in the kitchen.  Not rocket science...gosh dont you hate when people say that?  I would pair it with a bowl of soup or a nice salad with some bite for contrast. 

So I am going to end my entry with this.  What ruins your day?  What makes your day?  Is it the simple things that can make or break your day?  How quickly does YOUR internal switch get flipped?  By the by, thanks. 

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Off Hiatus

Its been longer than I planned to be away.  The past month has of course seen ups and downs, departures, not so many arrivals, rainy weather, stormy moods, windy emotions.  Food has of course been epicenter with the 1-2x week rearing of an old demon from the past. 

What is my baseline?  Is it to be happy what percentage of the time?  Is it to cry x times a month?  Is it to have such and such amount of anxiety and obsessive thoughts?  Is it to get my feelings hurt a certain percentage of the time?  How can I be a good wife, friend, employee, family member, and one day a parent when I dont even know myself so well?  I dont even know to what degree I love myself and where survival just takes over.  How much is your support system supposed to be there for you?  How much money are you supposed to make or give to others?  How much tv is too much to watch?  How many times a day is it normal to urinate in one day?  Is it wrong to spank your kids? 

My most recent food craving: Banh Mi aka Vietnamese Sandwich.  My fave local place is a family run store off ECB.  The one i get is the ham am combo sandwich.  It contains head cheese, ham, pate, meatloaf, pickled turnips and carrots, and cilantro with this surreal mayo/ buttery spread.  I used to get it with jalopenos but my old age cannot tolerate the burn on my insides.  Still miss the spice at times but I dont want to ruin the splendor of the sandwich if the heat becomes too much.  I should ask for a mild pepper...HA.  their bread is always crusty and soft at the same time.  See the sandwich bliss below. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Looking on the bright side

So I am constantly reminded indirectly that people should always look for the positive in life.  That it is somehow unacceptable to be negative or project frustration outside of one's body.  I want to do it but it seems to irk the cosmic balance in the world.  When I do my positive self talk, something even worse seems to follow minutes later, worse than the thing that caused me pause initially.  Maybe someone out there can shed some light.  Maybe I should get hypnotised?

Anyways.  So I went to Puerto Nuevo in Mexico over the weekend.  I had forgotten how fun it was to travel to another culture.  Needless to say, their economy has been drastically affected by the drug lords war and killings subsequent.  Nothing drives this point home as much as having restaurant staff chase your card down the street and beg you to eat at their place.  Dont even get me started on the willingly homeless who collect government benefits in the US. 

Doesnt it look picture-pretty?  This was the view from our restaurant balcony.  No beach access however.  Romantic place with mariachi floating by periodically.  Too bad I didnt get to enjoy with hubby. 

Outside the restaurant, we ran into a few fishermen who had come to sell their bounty to the restaurant kitchen.  What you see is Black Sea Bass of the monster variety.  From afar, it resembled seals.  I am not even kidding.  It was almost the length of the older Toyota pickup truck bed.  As a non fisherman, I was still impressed by the haul.  I could have eaten for a year or two on this meat alone. 

This is the amousse bouche.  I may have spelled that wrong btw.  It is a warm shot of lobster creme.  We first thought it was sauce for eating with our main dish later.  I saved the day by asking in my high school level spanish.  Yes, you can call me a hero.  I did enjoy the shot.  Savory, creamy and a bit fishy.  Yummers. 

Tortilla soup.  It was either this or salad, but seeing as how much of a weenie I was about not consuming water or uncooked produce from this area...  Soup was decent but not spectacular. 

This was my dish.  It was the clear winner of the night.  Shrimp stuffed with crab and cheese, wrapped in bacon and then baked off.  Crispy and soft on the inside.  Cheesy but not too heavy at all.  Rice, beans, and mashed potatoes were just there.  I was surprised to see the use of chayote in the veggie blend.  Too bad I was already getting full after chips, lobster shot and tortilla soup...

Medium size lobster.  I dont know why but plain lobster isnt all that titillating for me.  This with rice, beans and soup or salad was 23 bux.  To me, not that great a deal.  Moving on.

My friend ordered this turf and surf combo.  Pretty tender meat and guacamole was fresh (but a little bland).  It came with a medium lobster as well.  Why oh why didnt I love lobster?  I would have had a smorgasbord this day.

This was the order of my other friend.  Shrimp scampi.  I didnt get to taste because it went pretty quickly.  The fish was disappointingly mahi mahi only, especially after seeing the gigantic sea bass that seemed to swim in the waters so freely.  Do you see the garlickly bits in the olive oil?  Doesnt it look rather nice?  The mahi mahi was decent but nothing life changing for me.  Geeesh I sound like a buzz kill.  I honestly dont remember loving anything except my shrimp though...

A cheesy end to this post.  For some reason, my camera kept putting a blue tint on any picture I tried to take of the ocean.  See the way the light hits the water?  I want to come back.  With my husband later on.  Enjoy. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Holiday Anxiety Season

Does anyone else get the nerves around holiday time?  One of my character flaws is over thinking and over analyzing everything.  Holidays bring about anxiety to the fullest--pressure to see family, buy the perfect gift, put in enough days at work, too much impulse shopping, entertaining on a budget, etc.  Plus this holiday season will be one spent without my new hubs due to him being out of town.  SIGH.  Any suggestions on how to not run away screaming for two months???  Dont get me wrong.  I dont want to be negative so that is where that kind of talk will end for today.  On to the food....

In the past week, I believe I cooked dinner for friends twice.  First night was Greek.  Homemade falafels, mixed greens salad with lots of feta, tzatsiki sauce from scratch, and cous cous with garlic, parsley and olive oil.  Yummy.  I even converted a confirmed meat and potatoes man to eat this veggie fave.  Woo hoo.  Take a look-sie:

The thing I love about cous cous is that it is so easy to make, you can throw just about any ingredients into it and make it a meal, can be eaten cold or warm, etc.  I could go on and on but I wont. 

The thing that is great about my salad is that I now have a quick and easy salad dressing out of 3.5 ingredients- balsamic, high quality dijon mustard, olive oil, and pepper.  I can share the only have to ask. 

I forgot to mention in my intro paragraph this amazing appetizer that you must must try.  Super simple to make I promise.  Grill an eggplant and cut into chunks--try to have the purple skin on each piece that you plan to put on the stick.  Cube a nice brie into the same size as the eggplant.  Alternate on the stick, arrange on a nice contrast plate, and drizzle with S&P, balsamic, and olive oil.  Thank me later. 

The pics of the falafel, pita bread and sauce didnt come out so will just have to imagine it.  The falafel was nice because it had a nice spiciness and was perfectly fried aka not dried out. 

The next dinner with pals turned out to be Halloween.  I may or may not have been irrationally fearful of opening my door to strangers at night on a constant basis.  I had to lure my friends over with food bribes to help me get through the night.  Pathetic really.  The menu?  Crispy tacos, lemon cilantro garlic rice, organic refried beans and chicken enchilada soup from scratch.  My tacos are practically legendary if I do say so myself.  Super simple--but you have to use good ingredients! Dont cheap out on the cheese...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Fortnight's Update

Starting the post with some bam for your face! This is my take on a chile verde burrito I had at this really good taco shop.  Lean pork loin cubed and simmered in salsa verde on low.  Brown rice.  Leftover taco shop refried beans.  Toot toot! My fave part?  The pan fried potatoes and cilantro.  Yummo. 

I havent blogged in a few days but for very good reason.  Major issues with my home secuirty system needing adjustment, vamping and monitoring.  Seems to have been fixed but whooo-eeee.  Major drams.  Thank goodness for good friends who came to help a sister out.  I still miss my hubby horribly and to compound matters, the phone lines have been down where he is on his business trip.  I just have to keep reminding myself to stay busy and regular. 

Things at work are crazy.  With the economy changing, the upper-ups at work are busy keeping us in a state of frenzy--will we be able to keep our job?  If so, what more will we be expected to add to our collective work plates?  Common sense says, be grateful you have a job.  Be grateful you are paid.  Be grateful dangit.  So I will try to focus on the positive.

Food craving today: potatoes (already handled)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Bipolar moreover

The day started off messy and morose.  At one point, I found myself almost crying in my office for 2.5 seconds.  Maybe it was the nightmares last night.  Maybe it was not being able to talk to hubby enough in the past few days.  Maybe it was the weather.  Maybe I pissed off someone in the karmic retribution.  Whatever.  The day went on....and my mood did brighten eventually.  Enough to bake another loaf of bake another loaf of my now famous banana chocolate chip bread, kale bacon tomoato and parmesan non-frittata, and fixed myself a steak dinner with mixed green salad w/ tomato vinegrette and balsamic olive oil side pasta. 

This time I sprinkled extra chocolate chips on top of the loaf before putting it in the oven.  Noone ever quibbled over a couple extra chips did they?

I used day old french bread as the crust base for this egg breakfast/ lunch/ dinner beauty.  Then I sauteed bacon and mushrooms together for some juiciness and salty goodness.  Kale had to be cooked separately to get some bitter out and to wilt a bit.  Combine it all with some egg, layers of parmesan cheese and top with tomato chunks.  Enjoy this great way to use up leftover anythings. 

To be honest, the steak could have been seasoned better...or at least marinated at all.  I took the lazy girl way out and cooked it in the pan.  Egaads... I know.  The dressing on the mixed greens salad is a lovely tomato vinegrette with feta cheese, cucumber bits and carrots.  Even the pasta dish was a leftover special.  Leftover pasta from the other night, mixed with a dash of balsamic, EVOO, salt, pepper and some butter.  Microwave and stir.  Toss in some parmesan shreds and revel in its simple yumminess. 

So my lovelies- there may be a chance that I am channeling my need for a companion into a new habit.  As long as I am learning new things and occasionally sharing with others, I can readily justify the gluttony.  Plus it tops randomly crying or constantly shopping/ spending money.
Food craving today-- meat!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Bartering in 2009

In the days where all you can do is close your eyes, cover your face with your hands and sigh, something can still come along and brighten your day.  Today, that something was knowing the happiness I would give my friends by cooking a 3 course meal for them in my home in exchange for the happiness they would give me in exchange for bagging up some lawn debris in my backyard.  It really doesnt take much sometimes.  Truly.

Today's menu? Eggplant stacks on top of whole wheat pasta, bacon wrapped asparagus, crusty bread of the whole grain variety, salad on a stick and topped off with chocolate chip banana bread. 

This came out super good.  It helped to throw the dish under the broiler for the last few minutes to crisp up the pork.  Also, somehow therapeutic to roll the strips around the stalks. 

For my first time making this, it came out pretty damn good.  Edges came out crusty, inside super moist.  My intentional design on the top of the bread was from cutting diagonal slices off the extra banana and alternating them on the top of the bread mixture. 

Kinda blurry but the whitish area is where the decorative slices of banana almost melted but not quite.  Put in a few extra chocolate chip morsels can never have too much morsels.  Dang I kinda wish I hadnt sent the extra bananas home with my guests so that I could have baked another one this weekend!

When I make this again, I'm going to play around with the components a bit.  Nonetheless, it might be a good idea for making kids eat veggies, make salad a party friendly menu item, etc.  Dressing was the store ranch version from one of the organic markets du jour.  Dressing was definitely not my fave in the least. 

So with these pictures, I am flitting off to bed.  If you are reading this out there, feel free to drop a line, emoticon, sound wave, something?  Food crave for the day: carne asada fries. 

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Grocery overload

My accountant is going to be sorely disappointed in me.  Something happens when I start seeing food shows, magazines, store ads, etc.  I get very grandiose and have an urgent need to buy massive quantities of ingredients for meals that will most likely be for one plus lefties.  I somehow spent my grocery money for the next 2 weeks in 1 hour today.  Moving grocery/ menu plans for the week:
- Kale and White Bean soup with potatoes and corn (adapted from Food Network magazine)
- Eggplant Stacks (from Costco), canapes, salad on a stick, and homemade banana bread with chocolate chips
- Falafel gyros with my rough and tough tsaziki sauce
- Quiche with mushrooms, parmesan, and kale (maybe salmon as well)
- Steak with onion rings and asparagus

Pics to come on the various meals after they come to fruition.  Did I really do NOTHING at all today?  The only good news I got today was that my Wii Fit age is 35--not bad considering that I'm only a few years younger than that in real life. 

Food craving for the day: banana chocolate chip bread.  Yummers.

Does anyone else read Postsecret every Sunday?  It really is a phenomenal idea.  I am crediting their website with this image below that was just so touching. 

Saturday, October 17, 2009

First Blood

I've stopped growing.  Not in the physical sense, but more in the way someone should as a natural consequnce of trying new things and meeting new people.  Sure, I just got married.  Sure, I bought my first house earlier this year.  Sure, I have a stable job.  BUT I dont feel passionate about anything.  Within the midst of all this apathy, I find myself having to deal with my stagnancy...alone.  Husband just left to be stationed for a year 13 hours away. 

So now- he has been gone for 6 days.  In that time, I feel like I have to relearn how to do things on my own again.  First time taking the trash out in over 3 years...gosh, that sounds more pathetic now that I see it on type than it did in my own head.  First time to use the steam mop and sweep my hardwood floors.  First time to cook exactly for one person.  First time to set the security alarm at night--even had to call the alarm company to ask if I did it right. You get the point.

In my zeal to thrive in my newly found state, God must have wanted to show me the cosmic humor in this situation.  My first time running by myself since my single glory days?  My dog refused to run after 40 paces, got completely muddy and tracked it into my car, and thereby added another to-do list item.  Burglar alarm went off during my workday and the local sheriff had to meet me at home to make sure there were no intruders--alarm is new as is the motion detector ADT insisted I needed. 

Another thing I fnd myself having to relearn?  How to be in social situations as a party of one. It sounds retarded to a point but you never realize how much you can become a half person in the midst of a relationship. Happy and safe, but only half a unit.  I recently flaked on a social engagement outside my house yesterday because of some unexplainable fear.  I have promised myself that I am going to go to the bday dinner I was invited to tonight.  Frenemies be damned...I will still go. 

So it begins, the newly new moi.  Updates to come shortly.

FYI- Every post will end with a nod to my current food crave.  Today? Pho