Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Day One in Vegas.....

And the overwhelming thought is....

DUDE... Trader Vic's.... CLOSED???

Sammy Hagar goes and ruins another good thing. (Like Van Halen)

SOOO beyond bummed. I've been looking forward to duck tacos for MONTHS.

Monday, December 28, 2009

It's the most wonderful time of the year....

I like the holidays.... I really do.

But the past few years, I find myself liking them much more when they're OVER.

Maybe it's because it seems like I always start jobs in the fourth quarter (and even in November and December) and the added stress of learning the ropes at a new place plus the holiday just makes it worse... maybe I'm getting cranky(er) in my old age... who knows. But yeah, this year, I was Very Happy Indeed to make it to Dec. 26th and claim a holiday for myself, Do Nothing Day.

Putting up the tree is a stress. And I never really finished, since our $3 Ikea star we've had for ten years broke, and I gave up on any idea of trying to search for a new one (and I also had to tell my mother, MANY TIMES, that no, I did not want her to go out and look for one for me since I've been looking for a real, adult, star tree topper for ten years and *I* haven't been able to find one I like). Christmas cards are a stress. I'm known by different names by my family & the Man's family, so just signing each card is an excercise in "wait... what do they know me as?" and there are always the addresses you KNOW you wrote down but cannot find (thatwordguy... um... yeah... sorry, that is what happened to your card this year...).

By about the 23rd, I gave up. If it wasn't bought or done, it wasn't getting done.

It was a good Christmas though... good gifts given, good gifts recieved, and holiday cheer all around.

My usual "munchie fest" on Christmas for the mom unit and the parent in law's was a no-stresser. Yet another year of How To Impress Your Mother and Mother-In-Law By Unwrapping Cheese....

I put my cheeses out a few hours before anyone was set to arrive... gotta let them come to room temp...

I did go a little nuts with the variety. This is what happens when I am standing in front of the cheese section at Trader Joe's and they have a TON of French cheese I've never even tried (but at least I learned I looooove Port Salut).

Did the usual reuben dip thing that we all love... cream cheese, saurkraut, Carl Buddig corned beef and thousand island, melted in my little slow cooker until melty-good...

Did some meatbals in the "jar of chili sauce/jar of grape jelly" sauce, since those are also a hit....

Need something sweet?? Mini creme puffs from Sam's Club....

And a drumrool... she unwraps the cheese and sets out crackers....

Also had some salami and proscuitto, olives, veggies and dip....

Oh, and the Beef Salami Stick that we got from the hubby's boss. Still have the turkey stick and a couple of small cheese balls to attack, but we'll get around to it.
And after all that... it's back to work, and then....
On Wednesday I'll be in Vegas.
Even if all the rules are still up in the air about airport security right now (and since we were the first people through security at the United terminal at O'Hare after the "no liquid" thing - ah, the infamous incident of "How Many TSA People Does It Take To Determine If Granola Bars Are a Liquid or a Solid" (and apparently, it's five TSA people, and at that point in time they WERE a liquid since they had filling...) ) it shouldn't be too bad. I was thinking about actually packing the laptop (my own one, not the work one) in the checked luggage, but I'm turning into a chickenshit about it. Even though I already know how to replace the screen if it gets broken (not that I want the expense... but....)
Ok. Now it's time to finish watching the Bears game to see if we can at least mess up the Vikings, even if we can't win the games that would mean anything to US.....

Thursday, December 17, 2009

What's in a name??

My given name is Victoria.

As a kid, I went by "Vickie".

I went back to the full "Victoria" when I went to college because I was just too tired of people misspelling my name in every way imaginable (Vicky, Vikki, got a few Vickey's, and my favorite, a H-E-L-E-N once... long story).

There is only one way to spell Victoria.

Or at least one would think.

A few jobs back, I was lucky enough to be working at a place where I reported to not one but two bosses. One of whom got it in his head during the interview that my name was "Veronica". And from that point on, for two years, I was called "Veronica... (insert swear word here)... I know... Victoria" at that job. Until I left.

And it's happening again.

One person we have to work with at the new place, someone who is not actually part of our company, somehow got it in her head that my name is Veronica. So today, ALL DAY, in every email back and forth between us and her, she called me Veronica. We corrected her. More than once. But still... Veronica.

Looks like I'm destined to go through this again....

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Gift Potatoes

Oddest thing happened last Friday.

The hubby came home from work (I beat him home) carrying a sack of potatoes.

Turns out, one of their vendors or something-or-other gave potatoes as a Christmas gift this year. So on Friday, a potato truck rolled up outside their office, and everyone's eyes went alight with childish glee as they accepted a sack of potatoes (or, at least, I assume that is kinda how it went).

The hubby has one of those jobs that is kinda old-school and they are always getting tons of office gifts around the holidays from vendors and other companies they work with and stuff (a favorite always being the guy who brings in a Box of Booze Bottles and lets everyone pick among them... for years we always got a wonderful box of Christmas wrapping papper and matching bows, almost every year the hubby comes home at some point in late December with a two-pound log of liver sausage, we've gotten chocolate and caviar, etc., etc.). Most I have ever gotten was at one place I worked where they gave out a turkey to everyone at Thanksgiving and Christmas. And sadly, a rather small turkey that really couldn't feed more than a few people, so I always gave it to my dad so he could fry it.

At least they are "local" potatoes... actually from up on the other side of the cheddar curtain (aka Wisconsin).

And I thought it was odd back in '05 when a new produce mart opened over here, and although I refused a free case of bananas, they slipped one into my cart anyway when I wasn't looking while they bagged my groceries (I was actually kinda pissed... I had to haul that case up three flights of stairs to the then-apartment, and when you only have two people in the house, it's hard to go through a case of bananas. Thankfully, I always work with software engineers, and software engineers will gladly eat anything that is labeled "FREE FOOD" without question and I got to unload some of them at work).

I didn't cook on Friday, but on Saturday while I was running around trying to cram in Christmas shopping with all my usual Saturday errands, I picked up a roasted chicken at Sam's Club, with the intention of serving that for dinner.

And some of our gift potatoes.

But, don't gift potatoes really deserve slightly better treatment than just being thrown in the oven to be baked??

Bring on the Garlic Mashed Potatoes.

I didn't follow the recipe exactly (surprise!) since I wasn't making that huge of an amount of potatoes for just the two of us, and I didn't have half & half on hand. But I do keep heavy cream on hand. I guessed about a cup of heavy cream, and a half cup of water. And I only used the original 4 tablespoons of butter to cook the garlic, and didn't bother with more at the end. Trust me, they didn't need it.

Garlic, cooking away in butter....

Then you add the cream and water, and bring that to a simmer....

Add your potatoes, and back to simmer...

And then you cover, and cook for 25 to 30 minutes.
About halfway through, I was totally concerned that it was too much liquid. I mean... just look!!

I tried to think of ways to skim off some of the liquid, but it really wasn't going to work. So, I just said a prayer to the cooking gods and grabbed my potato masher, and hoped for the best.

One thing I *love* about America's Test Kitchen recipes is that as odd as they sometimes seem... they really do work. I had some faith in this recipe - I think they're the ones that got me doing my sweet potatoes in pretty much the same way, cook them in a little liquid rather than boil them - but I was still doubtful. But I must admit, they whipped up into some damned fine mashed taters.

Not runny, absolutely wonderful with the cream and butter. Sure, you do still have to dirt up a strainer to wash the starch off the potatoes before you start, but it's just so much easier to cook them all in one pot like this.
So thank you, vendor, for the gift potatoes. They were wonderful.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Oh how very mistaken he is.....

So... today is Xmas decorating day.

Which means that the hubby lugged the tree up from the basement, but I put it together (and have the scratches to proove it) and am in the process of decorating.

Sadly, the three-dollar star I bought from Ikea years ago has busted. I have another tree topper too, but it kept falling over when I tried to put it on (and no matter what the man thinks... he missed his chance since I will *not* have him "trying it again when the tree is done". So you can break ornaments when the darned thing falls off like I know it will????)

As a joke, I mentioned I *could* use another tree topper I have.... an angel in a leopard dress with black wings (bought as a gag gift). And the hubby says "Oh, not on MY tree!"

Excuse me.

Your tree?

Are you the one who picked it out? Did you even have an urge to go with me when I went to pick it out (yes, I did ask)? Are you the one who has decorated our shared Christmas tree for the past ten years? Have you even put a single ornament on our tree in ten years?? Are you the one who carefully packs everything away every year???

I think not.

This is MY tree. Mine mine mine.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Gourmet Night

(and for this post.... it should be properly called gore-MET)

Yep. That i s chicken nuggets, boxed mac & cheese, and at least some spinach and shallots as the veg. Only because the only proper veg I had in the fridge was some "going south" baby spinach.
This is what happens when you're still trying to get used to the "working" schedule again, stoopid traffic and getting back in to some kind of a workout schedule.
It's one thing to be a foodie. It's another thing to be a foodie who is a women that is married to a man who is NOT a foodie. Anyone who is the primary cook for their house will admit that sometimes, as much as you may not care what you cook, you're fine as long as the other people in the house are good with it.
And my 30-going-on-12 hubby???
"Dude... chicken nuggets and mac & cheese?!?! Is this a special occassion?"
Works for him, works for me.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Remains of the Bird

Hope everyone out there in cyber-land had a good Turkey Day!!!

It was a usual year around here. Well, other than the youngest nephew who was still suffering from the H1N1 "live" vaccine that he got... poor lil' guy was so miserable he pretty much slept through the whole day except for the absolutely heartwrenching minutes before they left, where in his three-year old voice he just kept saying "Daddy... hurt!" while he dealt with being miserable. They don't think it's actually H1N1 at this point, but the poor little guy is obviously still sick enough to be miserable. :(

Anyway... cooking duties for me this year... I actually took it "light".....

Clockwise from the top right, that is a artichoke/white bean spread (Giada recipe), pecan pie, green beans in browned butter and spanikopita. Wasn't totally planning the spanikopita, but I had phyllo dough in my fridge and spinach to use up.

Oh, and say hello to the roasted brussels sprouts and mashed sweet potatoes that were hanging out in the oven keeping warm.

Food was all good at the mother in laws, company was good, and a good time was had.

Oh.... and the Artichoke and Bean Crostini were actually pretty good... filling though. I did NOT need to make a double recipe of this - those things are FILLING. I snacked on a couple before we went over to the in-laws. I did crumble my prosciutto and mixed it in with everything since I just brought the toasts and the artichoke-bean spread so people couple glop it on themselves.

Was I actually stupid enough to travel outside among the shopping masses on Friday?

Sadly, yes.

My first ever experience out among the black Friday shoppers was a few years back when I was up in Wisconsin visitig my aunt over the holiday, and frankly, when you're in the middle of Wisconsin, there isn't much else to do. And since I was apparently not thinking straight when I was packing, there were some things I really needed (oh, like bras... how I forgot to pack them is beyond me, since as I discovered it's not always easy to find the sizes I need). It was not the most fun experience of my life.

But, there were some sales I wanted to take advantage of. I was lucky though... the place I wanted to hit the most was Staples. SUCH the hotbead for Black Friday activity. I swear, there were four people in the store when I got there. I really really needed to get a wireless mouse for my laptop, I kinda wanted to get a pair of speakers for my desktop PC, and the "I might just get them if they still have them" item was an 8 gig Micro SD card to use with the new MP3 player.

So, of course, they didn't have the mouse I was looking for, or the speakers. At least with the speakers, they didn't have the "sale" ones left, but they had another set of speakers that was $20. Fine by me. The mouse? Um, yeah. The one I wanted was like $13, and they were also supposed to have a $10 or $11 one. No $13 one, no cheaper one either. Now, if they'd have had another model on sale for like $20, I would have happily walked out of there and called it a day. But no... the rest of them were all full-priced $40-$50 models. No thank you.

And the memory card? They had RACKS of them. Silly me... I thought they'd be one of the first things to go. But I guess a lot of parents must not be hip on what a great stocking-stuffer an 8 gig micro card can be for the cell-phone and device-mad kids. Oh well.

But, at least for lunch, I had leftovers on hand for a very nice lunch of a turkey hot brown... turkey on toast, covered with a cheese sauce and some leftover crisped prosciutto.....

Tres yum.
No dinner cooking on Friday night. Hey, it's a holiday weekend.

And on Saturday... what do you make when you're getting kind of sick of turkey??

Seafood lasagna!!

Always a hit around here. And this time I was actually smart enough to look at my copy of the recipe, especially the part where I added a note to myself that REALLY VICTORIA, LISTEN TO THE INSTRUCTIONS AND BAKE IT UNCOVERED, because it turned out wonderfully. And I usually use it as an excuse to use up cheap frozen seafood, like salad shrimp, snow crab and bay scallops.

Today, since it was rainy out and football was on, I also decided to hit the dreaded Kohl's. Would NOT step foot in there Friday or Saturday, but one of the straps on my purse busted so I needed a new one. And they tend to have the best selection. Mind you, most of the selection is butt ugly, but they do have some good ones mixed in.
I tend to be pretty plain about my day-to-day purse... I'm all for a fun evening bag, but give me something sturdy, basic and black for my every day purse. And I was surprised to actually find exactly what I wanted. Even in real leather.
Then was on to the fun task of changing out the purse. And who doesn't love that scene from the Breakfast Club when Ally Sheedy when she dumps out the contents of her purse???

USB drives, nail files, various lip balms, various cold medicines and acid reducer meds, tire pressure guage, various tools, and a total of 12 lighters. Heh.

That project done, I went on to two others.... finding the Christmas cards I bought after the holidays last year (they were luckily in the first Xmas box I looked in) and doing some massive re-organization of my MP3 player, which took longer and I'm still working on. I have yet to totally figure out how the heck Windows Media Player decides to sync or not sync based on your playlist, but I'll get it figured out. Someday.
Dinnertime? How about some turkey chili...

Since I am of the mind that you can't have enough turkey aroud Turkey day, I actually threw a turkey breast in the crockpot on Thanksgiving so we'd have additional leftovers. Because everyone needs more than once chance to live the "turkey + mayo + white bread" sandwich over the course of the weekend. And leftover turkey come Sunday is a very, very nice thing to have.
And I did learn, the hard way, that one should NOT "guess" at the number of jalapenos to use... yeah, I roasted some poblanos and jalapenos and added four jalapenos... which had this stuff at nuclear levels. But thanks to that, I did also learn that a peeled potato in there to help draw out some spice is good, as is a sprinkle of baking soda. At least it went from "OH MY GOD WHAT KIND OF GUATEMALEN INSANITY PEPPER DID YOU USE IN THIS?!?!?" to "the spice builds up on you hot" thing where you could finish a bowl.
And that is the last of the turkey.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Just another Thursday.....

So.... the new job is going well, despite all the stinkin' construction traffic around the office. At least I have learned that being stuck in traffic is a good time to do important things like rate all the songs on your MP3 player and catch up with Ebooks on my Palm. Productivity, people!

Oh, although I have also learned that the Sansa Fuze MP3 players are NOT a good choice with and old Compaq laptop. Problems with power to the USB ports and I just can't get the thing to work correctly on my laptop. So I can sync my Palm on my laptop and NOT my desktop, and I can transfer files to my MP3 player on my desktop, but not my laptop. I suppose in the scheme of the world, it makes sense somehow.

So... today.... I was looking at the Outlook calender at work, and I totally realized it was one of my favorite days of the year.....

Happy Beajolais Nouveau Day, 2009!!


What to serve with the fine wine??

Well, today the oven also got fixed (YAY!!!!) so I obviously had to use it when I got home. Scotch eggs, anyone??

That is sausage wrapped around a hard boiled egg, that is given a flour-egg-toasted panko coating and thrown in the oven for 30 minutes at 400 degrees.

I think the oven performed beautifully. Thank you, Abt oven repair dude!!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Technology Weekend!!

Well it's all "Welcome to 2001" over here.... I finally bought a standalone MP3 player. I was looking at the SanDisk Sansa Fuze for awhile, since the 'puter really just kinda treats it like a removable drive and it's not all "sync" driven or anything. I'm pretty happy with it so far. It wasn't "plug & play" on either my desktop or my laptop (more on that in a second) but it was easy enough to get it installed anyway. (Edit to add... sadly, it can be sync-driven. Or at least it was on my laptop, where it promptly over-wrote everything I had on there, including all the songs I already had on my micro SD card. Le sigh....)

Price on it was also good... and even better, I got to use the hubby's poker winnings to buy it. Some of the guys in his shop play when it's slow... and last week he actually got to use a line he's been wanting to use for twenty years.... "Well, it looks like I just have a pair of twos.... and another pair of twos....." He was excited. And I was happy my gadget was paid for.

Of course, now I realize how badly I need to organize some of my MP3s.... a task for the future.

There was also much excitement.... got a "used" laptop screen (basically the whole front cover) for my laptop, and I switched out my old, non-working one. It was actually easy enough to do, and I now happily have my laptop downstairs on the couch, next to me, where it belongs. Life is good again.

Further proof that life is good? We've booked our next trip to Vegas. New Year's Eve, baby!! Always wanted to do it, and the way the holiday falls this year, the hubby can actually fly out of town (not tied down by "first of the year" inventory) and they're not making him fly to another plant to oversee... so it looks like we'll be spending New Year's Eve watching the insanity that is NYE in Vegas from our hotel room.

New job continues to be good... still learning the ropes, but getting to jump in on projects since we have deadlines looming.

Oh, and oven repair dude is coming on Thursday. I cannot wait.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What a difference a week makes.....

So.... had my interview last Monday morning.

Had an offer from them Monday night.

Formally accepted it Tuesday.

Started work on Thursday.

And thanks to road construction, the drive home from work is taking twice as long as it should. Joy.

Oh, and apparently my stove decided to stop working, just in time for Turkey Day. Burners work fine, broiler works fine, but the oven won't come up to temp. Yay.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!!!

(A scan from the CUTEST HALLOWEEN CARD EVER! that my cousin - and lurker around these parts - sent to me this year)

Hope everyone is having or had a safe & happy Halloween. I'm listening to my Halloween-ish tunes (bring on the Ministry and Murderdolls!) and enjoying my Saturday. Especially the part where I was trying to get my grocery shopping done before trick or treat time around here started and they were playing "Season of the Witch" as one of the 'holiday selections' of music at the grocery store. Yes, I was singing along. And yes, people were looking at me. And no, I don't care!

Cooking has been especially lame around here lately.... been fighting a nasty case of heartburn which has meant a lot of BLAH food. Nuttin' worth clouding up the internet with, trust me.

I am, however, very excited since I've got an interview on Monday. Sounds like a good position and a good company, but it's long-term contracting (5-6 months) at this point... but right now that is better than nuttin.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A whole new torture...


It was bad enough when we knew our March Vegas trip was probably going to be the only one this year since the layoffs at my work were a'coming.

It was also not fun to suffer through the summer months getting mailers from Harrahs DAILY with every single offer they could throw at us.

Now, we've got casino hosts calling. I CANNOT TAKE THIS!!

Thanks to the use of the father-in-law's airline miles, we could easily fly cheap.

We could stay one of several places for free.

It's just that whole "gambling money and food money" that we'd have to worry about. And sadly, cheap eats are no longer easy to find on the Strip.


I cannot wait to be employed again. The first three-day weekend we can manage, we are SO going to fly out to Vegas on a Friday night and come back that Monday (assuming I won't even get vacation days to take right when I start... I'm never going to be one of those lucky folks who is someplace long enough to earn more than the minimum of vacation days.....)

Monday, October 19, 2009

I've lost my mojo!

There are some days, and apparently some weeks, where I should just stay the heck out of the kitchen.

Last week was one of those weeks.

I blame it partly on the cold that the hubby decided to bring home from work. When he walked in the door on Wednesday night and immediately said "I have a cold!" my questions about the nature of the cold weren't totally made out of some wifely duty.... I knew if he had a cold, I'd also have it in 24 hours or less. Heck... I catch the colds going around his office that he doesn't catch. It's the way of life around here.

Cooking Disaster Numero Uno was an attempt at pizza. I'd bought a whole wheat crust dough from Trader Joe's, since I've been wanting to try it for awhile. I figured I'd cut up some meatballs that I'd defrosted for Sunday's dinner, and use those on the pizza.

I thought 350 degrees sounded a little low for a pizza.

It was. It took for-ev-ah until the edges of the crust were even slighty brown. And then I couldn't even get it off the Silpat.

At first, I couldn't even dislodge it from the Silpat. Apparently, I found something that can stick to a Silpat in my kitchen. Then, I decided to scrape off the sauce/cheese toppings to figure out why, after about 25 minutes, there were still problems.

Yeah.... raw dough in the center? PROBLEM!

(I ended up having canned soup for lunch)

That same dinner (the day the hubby came home and said he was sick) I'd planned to do some baked chicken fingers. Food Network recipe. And boy, did this one flop to.

Overcooked, barely brown, mushy chicken, anyone???

(at least I'd already heated up some canned chicken soup for the hubby for dinner. I ended up having canned chicken soup, too. I knew I was coming down with a cold when I found myself putting the pepper grinder in the fridge. My mind plays tricks on me like that when I have a cold.)

The final nail in the coffin was yesterday. Alton Brown's rib recipe. Made it dozens of times, always worked flawlessly. I was thinking of throwing them in the crockpot to cook, but I didn't.

I should have.

They did look pretty....

However, they were the toughest damned ribs I've ever had in my life. For some reason, they just turned out horribly, even though I did the same things I do every time I make them. I really, honestly, don't even know how I screwed that one up.
At least the cornbread was tasty.

Hopefully, the cooking mojo will return shortly. I'm getting REAL tired of canned soup for dinner.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Technology 3, Hausfrau 1

Technology is really, really not my friend these past few months.

First the Tivo.

Then my laptop backlight (which I have yet to have fixed).

Then yesterday, the audio jack and speaker on my Palm decided to stop working. Now, I will admit, I can be a bit of a klutz with it and it must have just taken one thunk too many, but it was just sitting there when it decided to stop working. No sound thru headphones, and when I disconnect the headphones, no sound through the speaker.

And I know I remember hearing that Palm wasn't developing any more handheld PDAs for the time being while they focus on the Pri and the whole cellular phone thing... but how did I miss that they've pretty much sold out all their "new" stock and I'm gonna be up shit creek without a boat when my PDA goes *poof* or I decide I want to upgrade??? Because I don't want a Pri or anything like it... me likes my PDA as a device not connected at all to my phone, thankyouverymuch.


At least one good thing... there is one book I've been trying to find at brick & mortar stores for a couple months and I haven't found it anywhere in like a 20-mile radius, and it's also been hard to get from the library. So, I decided to go for the Ebook. I'm a big fan of the Ebook lately, it's easy to tranfer PDFs to my handy little Palm and read away. But noooooo.... apparently now at the PDFs have digital protection on them with Adobe's "Digital Edition" so I had to spend a good, oh, five minutes trying to figure out how to make it an unsecured file so I could have it as a regular PDF and not a "can only be opened by this special program on your computer hahahahaha" file. Because I don't want to read it on my PC. I want to read it on my Palm.

I like PDFs... I really do. But apparently, unlike Adobe, I realize the fact that the words "digital protection" are really only just words... as fast as you can figure out how to try and put it all under your control, some other talented person across the globe is going to figure out how to crack it. It's like communism... it might be a sort of nice idea in theory, but it just don't work in the real world. I'm more than willing to pay for PDFs, but I still want to be able to use them like a book. That means not tied to my PC and desk chair, but portable. I'm wondering if the publishing industry is trying to play the same game the music industry tried to play... Total Digital Soverignty over stuff just ain't going to happen. Just like I used to tape songs off the radio and make copies of tapes for friends, I get some of my music without going to a record store and paying for it, but I still also will happily pay out for music that I do like (I've always been amazed at how artists know so little about the breakdown of costs for things like CD... if you walked up to a band and gave them a dollar, that is more than they usually make off their cut for a CD... I spent waaaaay too much time learning the music biz back when I was thinking of going into it....).

And I guess this will also play out as technology and I go another round... currently looking at MP3 players (I was really unhappy with the 1 gig limit on my Palm, anyway) that are NOT iPods. I really just want something that can shuffle, manage a couple playlists, and not try to tackle my entire digital music collection (which is at about 16 gi) - just the stuff I want to transfer over depending on my mood. Currently eyeing the SanDisk Sansa players, but we'll see. I did try to look them over at Best Buy this morning, but the way the "display" models are bolted down, I couldn't get a good look at the thing, and the way the sales dudes were hovering over me, I just wanted to make a break for it. I also fear a fistfight breaking out if I have some sales dude who really wants to try and talk all "iPod" to me. I already belong to the Tivo cult... I don't need to join the iPod cult. The Tivo cult might get jealous.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Chili Cheese Omelet

Now, I will admit that I am a suck for anything with the "chili and cheese" combo.
Until our first trip to Las Vegsas, I didn't think that extended to eggs.
We were wandering around the mall in the then-Alladin hotel, looking for something to eat. We decided to stop at Cheeseburger since we were in that "my natural clock says its lunchtime in the midwest but it's breakfast time out here" state of mind and didn't know which one we wanted, and this place had both.
I recall being torn between a Cheeseburger or pancakes, when both the hubby (well, not then - it was two days later when we visted the smarmiest chapel in Vegas to get hitched) saw the omelet section of the menu... and a chili cheese omelet. We both ordered one, and waited with discussion on how it was either going to be the worst thing ever or the best thing ever.
Best thing, for sure.
Since then, I have made them at home on occassion, using leftover stockpiles of chili. It's also nice because I can make one big huge "family-style" omelet and just cut off a section for me and let the hubby eat the rest.
I do, however, need to get myself a new skillet, since the thing was a BLEEEEP to try and get out of the pan.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Crunchy Baked Pork Chops

I love me some Shake N'Bake, so obviously, when America's Test Kitchen did a thing with some Crunchy Baked Pork Chops, it caught my eye. I love me a good pork chop.

The recipe calls for a quick brine....

And then you use fresh bread in the food processor to make some breadcrumbs. And as long as I'm grinding the bread in there, why not the shallot and garlic, too??

Then, you bake them to toast them up a little bit. And this is where I had problems... the first batch of crumbs I did as directed for the time indicated, and the outter edges of the pan burned and the middle was still a soggy mess. So, I quickly whirlled up a new batch of crumbs, garlic and shallot, and kept a better eye on them. They still didn't turn out as evenly brown as I wanted, but at least they weren't burned.

Time to flour....

Then coat in the eggy/mustardy/flour mixture...

Then the crumbs.... (neat little lesson I learned there... if you roast them on foil and let them cool on the foil, you can be a total lazy slob and also use that as the container for coating the chops, and cut down on the dishes you need to clean....)

Happy pork chops, into the oven....

And happy pork chops, out of the oven.....

Overall, it really wasn't too much work (other than having to do the crumbs twice) and the result was indeed some good, crispy pork chops. Mine might have been a bit thick (the hubby sees the slightest bit of pink in pork and he'll whine that I'm trying to poison him) but they did turn out pretty good. Better than Shake N Bake, and almost as easy.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I Can't Believe He Ate The Whole Thing

So.... was watching one of the new shows on Food Network, "5 Ingredient Fix", and there was an interesting recipe for Dry Rubbed BBQ Chicken on recently. I'm still on the fence about this show.... I want to find the host kind of annoying, but I can't. And I really wish it wasn't all tied to a "5 ingredient" idea, since it seems like a lot of the recipes would be even better if they included a couple more things.

But anyway... the chicken brine interested me. So I wanted to try it. And I did.

Now... it's not a secret that the husband unit really, really doesn't like chicken. And I understand that, since my very dear mother in law (who can roast a turkey like nobody's business) used to think that boiled chicken was something perfectly acceptable to serve for dinner. I never understood how the hubby could hate chicken until the time I went over to his folk's house right after work back when we were dating (he was living at home, and I worked about five minutes away) and his mom actually made boiled chicken for dinner. And it was pretty gross. I think we ended up going to Wendy's at like 8 PM.

But, at least I understand why the hubby can groan when the words "dinner" and "chicken" are used together. So I'm always looking for ways to try and make chicken tasty. And brines usually do that.

I couldn't do the peach/onion relish that was done on the show, since my peaches went modly on me. D'oh.

But the chicken was faaaaaabulous. And I could not believe it when my husband actually ate the entire chicken breast. That never happens.

And yes, that is "blue box" mac & cheese on the side. Usually when I do chicken, he'll pick at the chicken and load up on the mac & cheese. If I'd have known he'd like the chicken that much, I would have made mashed potatoes.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Lesson in Fridge Cleaning Madness

So, last week a 'net buddy of mine (the infamous Killie... a nickname you can apparently quite easily pick up when you're name is Kim and you live in Illinois) mentioned she was using some ground beef to make Simple Bolognese for dinner. Who isn't looking for a good way to use some cheap ground beef??

I was also interested in giving the recipe a go after I had two good deals at the deli counter on Saturday.....


Those would be nice end bits or "overages" that were cut from the deli meats. And I figured throwing some extra Italian-looking cold cuts into the sauce couldn't be a bad thing.
I was also, very much, looking forward to opening a bottle of wine on Sunday to use some in the sauce, and then enjoy a nice couple of glasses of wine with dinner. Hey, a girl's gotta have some fun.
Sauce base is onions, carrot and celery....

Throw in your ground beef....

(I feel like I should have "ta-DAH!" music for their introduction to the sauce....) Then dump in the chopped meat ends....

One can of crushed tomatoes and one can of dice tomatoes.....


And then it got whacky. My tomato plants took a decidedly bad turn last month, and I figured I'd dump in the last of my few remaining, sad, tomatoes.

And then I looked around the kitchen and found a pint of cherry tomatoes that was about to go south. So, I halved those and dumped them in. That was the start of the madness.

And although this is supposed to be a "quick" sauce, I actually let mine simmer for a few hours. Hey, it was a Sunday. And the less rushing around dinner time, the better.
About a half hour to go until dinner, I was actually reading the reviews on the FN site and some people mentioned adding mushrooms.
Hey... I had mushrooms to use up, too!

Granted, I wish I would have sauteed them, but it still turned out okay.

Mmmmm..... pretty sauce. And good, too. A nice change from meatballs or Sunday gravy. And not a jar of Prego in sight.

Although, I did learn the hard way that it's a bad idea to give me the mircoplane and a wedge of parmesan cheese after I've already had two REALLY BIG glasses of wine......

D'oh. Oh well. Sometimes you gotta suffer in the kitchen.