Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Cookie FAIL

Sigh.  Gluten-free baking is, so far, WAY harder than I thought it would be.

I learned at Thanksgiving that if I want sweet treats somewhere, I'd better bring them myself or I'm gonna be screwed.  Sure, at Thanksgiving, we had my crepe cake, but that was about my only option.  So I figured for Christmas, I'd try some gluten-free cookies.

Like these.  DO NOT MAKE THIS RECIPE.  I seriously think it is missing ingredients or something, because as written, it totally did not work.  I've been wanting to try that recipe for awhile - sounds good on the surface, right??


It has to be missing ingredients, because when you mix it up as written, it is beyond crumbly.

I also tried another recipe that used chickpea flour.

Aaaaaand in both those recipes, I thought I grabbed my chickpea flour. 

Nope... .grabbed the masa harina (corn flour).  And I didn't figure it out until both doughs were made.  So I just sai "F(#@((#&# IT" and went with it.

And both batches of cookies were awful.  So awful, I tried the chickpea flour-chocolate-cashew cookies again with the right flour.

They were still awful.  I think in both recipes, it was the cornstarch.  It does not do good things in a cookie.

I shoulda just made the stinkin' crepe cake again.  Or bought cookies at the store.

I figure I have until Easter to find some recipes that DO work.  The big challenge is also trying to find recipes that do not use almond flour, since the hubby's cousin has nut allergies and it's nice to be able to make something he can have, too.

But he was not lucky on Christmas... all I had to bring was buckeyes (can't go wrong with just peanut butter, powdered sugar and chocolate chips).

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Yeah... it's still been quiet around here.

If you ever want to turn into a cranky hermit, get yourself a wheat or gluten allergy.  It works wonders.

Made it thru Thanksgiving... even though I quizzed the hubby about the mother-in-law's "stuffing practices" with her turkey and he assured me she cooked it outside the bird... yep, we arrived at their house just in time to see my mother in law pulling stuffing out of the bird.  I didn't have a horrible reaction from it, but I knew it'd mean one night of turkey and absolutely no leftovers for me.

Yep.  When you have problems with wheat, it can be to the point where if you eat turkey that comes from a bird that was stuffed, you can have a reaction.

Luckily, we're just having ham and Polish sausage for Xmas.

In the upcoming days though, I will be doing some gluten-free baking of cookies and other delights for the holidays.  I can't go another holiday without having at least two desert options, lol.

But one of the kickers of that seems to be that a lot of gluten-free cookie recipes use almond flour.  Not really an option, since we also have a nut allergy in the extended family.  It just makes things extra fun!  Lots of internet recipe searching has been happening around here.

But, to try and be useful and actually add some information to the interwebs, I am going to throw out a few tips for those out there who, like my own family, may be very new to this whole "no wheat" thing and a bit worried when it comes to the holiday season:

  • Be patient.  You are most likely to get quizzed on products, preparation details and other stuff.  It's not that we don't trust you, we know from experience that there are some products you won't trust unless you know all the brands/ingredients involved.
  • We love you for trying.
  • Things to avoid: Soy sauce (yep, that has wheat in it usually - find a gluten-free brand or use the Japanese sauce Tamari which is basically the same thing), anything that lists "natural flavors" in the labeling as those often contain wheat (those are the things that are killers to me), and if you're really going for it and trying to rely on things like cornmeal and oats -please read labels.  A lot of those products are processed in facilities that also process wheat and YES, that can be a problem.
  • Make it simple.  Really... dumb down your dishes.  Rather than the green bean casserole (yep, those condensed soups usually contain wheat) - steam some fresh beans and toss them with some browned butter - delicious. 
  • Don't be afraid to ask.  Trust me, we are more than happy to help you.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Oh yeah... my blog!

Yes... it's been quiet.  The wheat-free continues to bite, big time.

I actually did really good on our trip to Vegas... the only two incidents I had with wheat were one that was my own fault, and one that means I'll never get a grab&go salad from Burke in the Box again.  Our first meal we went to Hash House A Gogo and I *know* I'd seen on some food/travel thing that they cooked their chicken breasts to-order in a pan and not in the communal frier, so I thought I'd be OK with their potatoes.

We walked back to the hotel, and the hubby flipped on the Travel channel just as we watched the - at the Strip location - throw a chicken breast into the shared frier on an episode of Man vs. Food.


The Salad Incident made me angrier... sure, there was a sign that mentioned "shared equipment" at the Burke in the Box at the airport on the way home, and I checked ALL off the packaged salads and NONE of them appeared to have croutons in them or listed in the contents... so I got a salad.  Aaaaand then 3/4 of the way through the salad while I was on the plane, I found a flippin' crouton that managed to stay on the bottom even when I picked through it to just check and cause enough cross-contamination when I shook it up.  Yay.

Otherwise... Vegas was good.  Didn't leave all our money there, the weather was nice, and the bestest thing of all was that I couldn't even take my work laptop with me since it was getting upgraded to Windows 7 while I was on vacation.

This week (of course) starts the prep of Turkey Day items... which this year also means my attempt at a gluten-free cornbread stuffing (it's just not Turkey Day without stuffing) and an attempt to do some wheat-free crepes for a crepe cake (crepes layered with whipped cream).  Other than that, it's the same old cranberry sauce, beans and sweet potatoes that I usually bring to my mother-in-law's.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Well, that wasn't so bad

So... today was Un-Birthday (belated) party for my sister in law.

Um... she walked in wearing a sparkly thing (very cute) in her hair.  Obviously someone blew the surprise (or she just knows how to interrogate her children, ;D).

My bro was doing it at a restaurant, with one set menu for everything.  I originally told him, "don't inlclude me in the food count - I'll need to have them make me something without any bread or pasta" (it was an Italian place... Luigi's House).  They do their food family-style for parties... which basically means wheat would be touching pretty much everything.  Yay.

He asked, they said they'd be able to accommodate me food-wise.

They brought the appetizers out, bruchetta and pizza, so I was out of luck on those.  No biggie.  A waiter came by to ask me how "sensitive" my allergy to wheat was and he at first obviously thought I was being a bit of a tool about it all and I might have gotten a bit huffy trying to confirm that no, I was not being picky and I couldn't have ANYTHING that involved flour, bread or pasta or anything like that - but they did a stellar job.

They made me a chopped salad without the pasta - I was even beyond impressed that they left off the blue cheese, which can cause reactions in people with celiac but I think I can still, ha, stomach.  When they brought out the main dishes, rather than the breaded lemon chicken and chicken parm, they gave me grilled chicken in a lemon sauce and grilled chicken w/tomato sauce and mozz.  Nothing to do about the pasta - but they did give me a nice side of steamed broccoli.

And I planned ahead for desert... some wonderful gluten-free Outrageous Brownies (with Bob's Red Mill GF Baking Flour.... with a pound of butter and two pounds of chocolate in there, no one noticed any "off" flavor from weird flours) that I made ahead of time came with.  And were enjoyed even by the people who can eat wheat.

I understand how "picky eaters" can be a challenge at restaurants and that it gives a bad image to those who really have issues, but I am glad to at least know of one place where when it is made clear, they go above and beyond.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I hate food.

Yeah.... it's been quiet on the blog.

That might be because me & food are not in a very good place right now.  It is a very odd thing to deal with the fact that wheat had such a bad effect on me.  And it's just everywhere.

Not there, though!!  Apparently one of the local pizza biggies - Lou Malnati's - does a "gluten free" (wheat free is the important bit for me) pizza.  Basically... their deep-dish sausage pizza contains the sausage as one big disk.  Someone was real smart and figured out they could use that as the "crust", and then put the toppings on that.  And it is just like eating a slice of their regular stuff, sans crust.

At least when we come back from Vegas (going at the beginning of November to celebrate the hubby's big 4-0 birthday) I'll know I can order up a couple of personal pizzas (with crust for him) for us for dinner.

Our area Whole Paycheck (Foods) has a cooking class next weekend on "gluten free cooking."  After much inner debate... I'm going to skip it.  I've pretty much already figured out most stuff I need to know on my own, and this particular Whole Paycheck tends to be frequented by a lot of rich 2nd wives from the affluent 'burbs around these parts... and there is a very high chance I might get violent around someone who is doing this as a "lifestyle choice" and not because they HAVE to.  Because when they cheat or mess up, there are no consequences.  There are when I mess up (and not cheat... have no desire to cheat and make myself feel miserable). 

I used to love food.  I especially loved food prepared by other people for me.  Now I almost dread Friday night and ordering out and trying to figure out what I can eat that won't leave me hurting the next day.

Hopefully the kitchen mojo will come back soon and it'll be less of the totally bland food I've been doing lately (most things are so plain they are totally boring).  Anything on a bun or bread I usually eat "naked" pretty much because although Udi's does make a pretty decent gluten-free bread, it's expensive and I am cheap.  If I'm gonna use it... it better be worth it.

This also means I am spending more time actually in the kitchen - I gotta do my own breakfasts (usually an egg) and lunch for every day.  It's not like it is easy to just pick up something wheat-free if I don't plan ahead (although I am increasing the stockpile in my desk with things like Minute Rice, canned oil-packed tuna, jars of beans, etc.).

I might be doing some full-out meatballs with wheat-free pasta and red sauce and - gasp! - some french bread for me next weekend because I have discovered that a local area bakery - Deerfields - does GF french bread and I did pick some up,  but again.... $5 for two mini loaves - I want to do it justice.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

I highly recommend NOT getting a wheat allergy

GOD this sucks.

I hate being grouped in with all the trendy people jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon.  You do it because it is trendy.  I do it because if I don't, the damned skin rash on my hands will come back and I don't like waking up at 3AM just to itch my fingers.  And my issue is not gluten (thank God, I'd be even unhappier if I had to give up beer right now) is just wheat.

I'm not missing the bread all too much, and I have discovered that some non-wheat pasta is OK.

I've learned that Rice Crispys make a very nice breadcrumb-like coating.

I've learned I'll react to french fries that are cooked in the same oil as onion rings, pizza puffs and other things with flour.

I've learned I can't trust that the chicken rice soup and the spanish rice served in the cafeteria in our building at work apparently have flour in them.  Yay.

I've learned I can't eat any traditional condensed soup, even when used as part of a recipe.

I've learned that when offered the choice between gluten-free frozen pizza and a slab of cardboard... eat the cardboard.

Did you know Taco Bell uses wheat in both their taco shells AND their beef?

Did you know most fast food chicken - even in non-fried form - contains wheat and/or gluten?

"No wheat" is also a problem when you're headed off to a party - no pasta, no bread, no pizza, no fried chicken, no crackers... which is some pretty unfortunate karmic payback on me, since I usually try to even make stuff that is vegetarian-friendly when I'm bringing food to a party where I know there will be vegetarians.

Grocery shopping is taking twice as long now, since I have to read product labels on half the things I buy.

On the plus side... I've lost ten pounds in the past month.  It's pretty easy to do when you're afraid of eating anything that doesn't come with a product label.  And yes, I do mean afraid.  I don't want that painful rash back.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


August was an interesting month around here.

There was all the hand pain.  The very, very bad hand pain.

Then the itching started. The kind of itching that would wake up up at 3am to scratch it, on my fingers.

Along with many very easy dinners that didn't require much knife skills, I decided that one thing I should do was cut down on all the fluffy white carbs.  I did a lot of whole-wheat tortila wraps for lunches.

And my hands got a little better.

Then I figured Hey... if I'm already going the high-fiber bread product route, I might as well take a go at the South Beach diet.

One week without any wheat flour and my hands were vastly improved.  Then I ate white fluffy bread again, and the pain, itching and lovely skin rash broke out.

I went to see the doc.  His conclusion?  Lay off the wheat and apply some prescription cream to the hands.

So... apparently, I am off wheat for awhile.

And did you know wheat is in EVERYTHING???

Seriously... it is.  As I am finding out.

But I have learned some things.

A mixture of one part cornstarch to two parts rice flour gives you a very nice thickener for white sauce, very close to wheat flour.  Those are scallops in a very mish-mashed "Scallops Newburg" that I threw together one night.

And I love socca/farinata.  I just learned that one tonight.

It's basically a chickpea flour flatbread.  The stores I shop at have *very* good selection of Indian foods, so chickpea flour was easy to find and cheap as all get-out.  I finally tried a recipe for it tonight in hopes I would have something remotely bread-like to wrap around a grilled brat.  I mixed it up when I got home and let it sit until I was ready to throw it into the oven.

I think a mixture of less water (thicker) would be nice if I want something pankcake-like in texture.  More water will give a thinner batter and should turn out crispier.  But in any case... the fluffier bits were as good as the crispy bits in this stuff.  I look forward to making it again in the future.

In any case... I am off wheat and I have turned into one of those annoying people who reads the ingredient list on EVERYTHING for the time being.  Even the couple of slip-ups I have made have convinced me that right now, no way, no how do I want anything wheat.  I'm really hoping this is not as far gone as full-out celiac disease (the trendy diagnosis right now - people who cannot have ANYTHING with gluten in it) and more an intolerance brought on by a toxicity from just eating too damned much fluffy white stuff.  Because I was.  But I also do NOT want to never again be able to enjoy a loaf of no-knead bread or a burger on a bun.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Kitchen Things You Didn't Know Existed Until A Few Moments Ago But You Cannot Live Without

So... I've been watching old Julia Child on the new "Cooking Channel" (which is a lot like Food Network was when it started... they actually show COOKING SHOWS).

Today was an episode All About Eve... no wait, that's not right.... All About Breakfast.  That sounds better!

While going through the instructions on how to poach eggs, Julia showed an egg poacher much like the one pictured above.


I love poached eggs.  I'd rather poach an egg than fry an egg (because I always overcook them when I fry).  It's easy to do, but boy, going freeform I'm known to get some funky shaped eggs.  The only bad thing about poaching eggs is trying to get them in nice shapes.

My mission for next weekend... hit the foodservice supply place nearby to see if they have them.  It looks like Crate & Barrel might carry them also... but I'd rather check the foodservice place since I wanna get like six of them.


Friday, July 30, 2010

Three Minute Gourmet

Do "gourmet" recipes scare the beejebus out of you?

Unwilling to spend a ton of money on all the kitchen gadgets that you need to do all the fancy-pants stuff?

Only have a few precious minutes to get something on the table?

Is your comfort level of cooking pretty much pressing buttons?

You'll love Blender Hollandaise.

Cut up a stick of butter.  Put that in a microwaveable container.  I like my glass measuring cup.  Nuke that for 30 seconds.

Meanwhile, separate 3 eggs and dump the yolks in your blender.  I also like to add a blob of dijon mustard.  A few drops of fresh lemon juice is nice, too.

Stir your butter, then nuke for another 30 seconds.

Take the butter out of the microwave.  Take that little middle insert thingy off the top of the blender, and then start the blender on high.  SLOWLY pour the melted butter through the hole in the top of the blender while you let the blender run.

In 60 seconds or less, you'll have Hollandaise that is far better than you'll ever find at a buffet or most restaurants. 

I love the "light hollandaise" I usually make (it's a lightened version, uses flour to thicken the sauce with a LOT less butter) but sometimes it's just a pain to think about making it.  Never the case with blender hollandaise.  Easy and very hard to mess up.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Crazy old Southern recipes that actually work

Peach Cobbler.

It's one of those recipes that you look at and wonder how in the world it work (and how someone came up with the instructions) - but it works.  And it is super easy and so tasty.

I had some peaches to use up... I actually found a nearby farmer's market over the weekend that was semi-decent, and I bought some peaches.  I had to use them up.  What better way than some peach cobbler??

You start your oven.  You throw a stick of butter in a pan and toss that in the oven so the buter can melt.

 Meanwhile, you cook some sliced peaches (I don't bother to peel) with some sugar and water....

 Then it is batter mixing time.  And it is an odd batter.


Add milk and mix....

Take the pan out of the oven and the craziness begins.....

Pour the batter OVER the butter...

Pour the peaches OVER the batter....

And then you just look at it for a minute and go "WTF have I just done?  This is never going to work."

But... it does...

The batter bubbles up thru and around the peaches, and it's just wonderful.

Add some vanilla ice cream and let the happiness begin.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010



Yeah... it's been pretty quiet around here.  I have been in a cooking rut.

Lots of the "same ole, same ole" recipes being done.  Partly because regular work has been swamped and a couple of projects for my old old company popped up after we got back from Vegas and I've been busy (but busy is good), but I really haven't seen anything in WEEKS that has had me going "wow, I need to try that!".

For example... the recent cover recipe from one of the food mags I get.. Cooking Light.


I mean.... REALLY?

This used to be a pretty good magazine with some actual innovative recipes.  Now, we get shredded store-bought chicken piled on to store-bought tostadas.  Thank GOD they finally managed to work out the instructions on how to do THAT.  Because I just wouldn't have been able to figure that out without their help.

I love cookbooks, I love recipes.  I am totally in love with all the recent America's Test Kitchen "extra" issue-thingies I've been finding at the store that are nice compilations of recipes (usually mostly of recipes I've already tried).  Magazines have been a big FAIL lately.  And the last cookbook I bought, I just haven't gotten that into.

Hopefully I'll break outta the funk soon.  Hang in there, folks.

Monday, June 14, 2010

A Blessedly Uneventful Vegas Trip

So... the last Vegas trip.

Trip to the airport was pretty standard... bumpy flight, though.  Oh, and I've totally given up on the United "snack box" options they sell on the planes.  They keep slightly changing them around and taking away the good stuff.

The ride from the airport to the Flamingo... our cab driver was a HOOT.  It was non-stop, old-time jokes the entire way (some more than insulting, but hey, oldies are goodies sometimes). The man was tipped generously for the entertainment.  We checked the bags and then headed over to the new Hash House A GoGo at the Imperial Palace.

The wait wasn't too terrible (but the whole weekend was pretty dead).  I pretty much knew I had to try the chicken & waffles, and the hubby ordered their basic breakfast combo that included a pancake.

And what a pancake!

My chicken and waffles was equally stunning....

After the food, we headed back to the Flamingo and gambled a bit, and then waited for check-in.  After the last trip where we were trapped in our room for two days expelling all food from our bodies, we apparently lost our Platinum status so we had to stand in line with the rest of the schmucks for check in.  And for some reason, the lines were LONG every time we went past, so we had to wait it out.

The was one clerk that was training someone new, and the hubby spent the time in line going "Please, not the one training the new girl...." so of course, we got that clerk.  Who explained the process to the new girl and although the hubby had a twenty very visibly in hand, the clerk didn't even ask us about any type of upgrade to the room (usually they ask if you want strip side for blah blah more a night) and just handed us keys.  Um, Flamingo... are we on your shit list??

Went to find the room... 27th floor, facing the pool area.  Oh well.  With the shape that horrible Donnie & Marie clingly thing on the front of the hotel is in, those windows are probably dirty as heck.

Hung out in the room for a little, and then decided to go check out City Center and get some Pinks for dinner.

City Center was a "meh" for me.  It really is like they had whoever did the decor in the place watch Oceans 13 and said "Make it look like THAT".  Checked out the menu for the Todd English PUB place... mildly interesting.  Although the hubby was deeply offended at the idea of cheese on a grilled bologna sandwich.

Dinner at Pinks... we got what we got last time... a Strip Dog for the man (two dogs, chili, guac, cheese and other fixings) and a Showgirl Dog for me (saurkraut, tomatoes, bacon and sour cream on a single dog) and tried their onion rings....

At least this time I got smart and used the little tray the hot dog is in to try and eat.... I just kinda shoved the dog over the edge to take a bite rather than pick up the hotdog.  Worked okay.  The hubby resorted to a knife & fork about halfway thru his dog.  And the onion rings were darned good.

Gambling at the Flamingo was actually good to me on Thursday... playing video poker, the machines seemed to be very kind with 4 and 5 of a kinds on Dueces Wild, and even a few Royal flushes with deuces.  For the first time EVER at the Flamingo, the machines were playing like the WinPoker software I've used to learn how I should be playing.  It was kinda nice.

On Friday, we decided to head over to the sports book at the Palazzo in an attempt to try and catch the Sox/Cubs game after we had no success trying to find a channel that had the Blackhawks victory celebration that was happening in Chicago (I swear... it wasn't on our TV even though an old lady from Minnesota who was also staying at the Flamingo was telling us about it later that day).  The whole town was pretty World Cup mad, but before we left the hotel room I even said "It's only ONE game on at a time... they can't have EVERY screen on the World Cup."

Oh yeah.  Yes they can.

We did find one team that had some of the baseball pre-game, but we couldn't find a single person working there who would either stop as they passed us or would come over when we tried to gesture to them to figure out if we could just have a seat or what... sorry, Emeril... we wanted to eat there but we don't like places where you have to try that hard to spend your money.  We left.

Walked around the Fashion Show mall for a little, and at the sports store we actually caught the guy unpacking the world champs Blackhawks shirts... the hubby bought one.

Head back to the shops at Ceasars and went to the little La Cantina or whatever it is Mexican place, and settled for watching the World Cup while I checked for Sox updates on my phone.  We got the "salsa flight" and the hubby had their tacos al pastor (VERY good) and I had a tequila grilled chicken salad (also very yummy).

Oh yeah... the picture of my salad was one that was lost because the SD card on my phone freaked out.  Thanks to the lovely Art Plus Digital Photo Recovery tool I was able to get most of them back.  Yay!

After that, we headed back to the room to watch the end of the Sox/Cubs game.  I was quite amused when the ad on the thing behind the banner rolled to "Visit Las Vegas".  I am easily amused.

After that, some more gambling before we figured out we were "mildly hungry".  We toyed with the idea of going back to the Todd English place, but neither of us wanted to walk that far.  So, we decided to try the new Burger Joint at the Flamingo.  Same place as the last tapas place and I think an old Italian place... right near the enterance to the Wildlife habitat.

We split an order of potato skins (tres good) and their slider trio.

(Slider Trip picture half deleted by my phone... grrrr....)

Good service, food was decent enough, and they currently have a special for a $2 burger and fries after midnight (which would be AWESOME if you were looking for something to soak up some booze).  We'll visit that place again.  Even if they can no longer afford the hostesses with the fake boobs that were always outside the tapas place.

More night time gambling... again, was doing not horribly at the video poker machines.  We did eventually retire to the outside bar to people watch and have some cheap beers ($2 drafts).

And we even got to see a couple of cops in ACTION!

Saturday we did the usual room service breakfast thing....

.... and then more gambling.  On Saturday the video poker machines turned on me... no longer reliable for a bit of play off $20... they started sucking in my money like I was paying the air conditioning bill.

For dinner... it was off to our "romantic" dinner spot.... Fatburger.  Hey, we had it after we got married, and we never made it there on our last trip, so we were overdue.

I got a medium burger, the hubby got a large, and we split some chili cheese fries...

Always good.

After that, it was back to the hotel to do the prelim packup before heading back down to the casino for the last round of gambling.

And lord... did the poker machines NOT like me at that point.  And it doesn't help that the video poker area on a Saturday is always overrun by people waiting for seats in the poker room that just sit at a machine and put in $20 when they want a drink.

So.. I headed over to the slots near the Total Rewards desk, and tried out the space Monopoly game.

And promptly got two bonuses in a row and was up to $100.  Awesome!  And man, the bonus stuff was fun.

After that, I sat at one of the video poker machines in the area, and found it to be MUCH kinder (even though the payouts were worse).  Sat and played until the hubby came to fetch me.  And then I made him have a go at the Monopoly machine and he also came out a winner.

Packed up, went to sleep, woke up the next morning and headed back to the airport.

Oh, at the airport I did pick up a chicken wrap from Burke In The Box to eat on the plane... not horrible, but not enough chicken for my tastes.  And although it was $9, that is what they charge for the food on planes now.

Flight back was uneventful.

All considered... a good trip.  Not the most profitable (we did leave money there, but we didn't come back broke) and not the fanciest... but having an uneventful trip was still kinda nice.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Happy... Day after Memorial Day???

Hope everyone had a nice Memorial Day weekend... it was exciting around here - I actually got a new cell phone!  Yay!

I've badly needed one for about the last six months since my phone (a flip phone) started placing random calls while it was CLOSED and it was just unable to hold a charge for more than 24 hours.  Not very helpful features.

And I'm trying really hard to ignore the fact that my brother-in-law called the model of phone the "old people phone" when we were looking at phones.  Hey... I like big buttons.  Sue me.

The weekend was filled with pizza, burgers and sausages.  Oh, and plenty of playing with my phone, since there is so much more to play with.  I can't wait until later this week when my MicroSD card and data cable for the phone arrive.   I'm such a tenchno geek.

Today it was back to the real world, which meant a release deadline at work (when isn't there one?) and cooking dinner.

And since my ulta-lazy-try-to-ease-back-in-non-sloth-mode plan was chicken sandwiches for dinner... I was unhappy to find out the hubby had a chicken sandwich for lunch. 

Bring on a recipe I was planning on trying later in the week... Sweet & Sour Pork with Pineapple.

You slice a pork tenderloin in 1/4 inch slices, cook for a minute and a half per side. 

I had some leftover cooked onions and peppers from brats on the grill yesterday, so I used those.  The original recipe calls for red pepper.  That would be nice too.

The key is the sauce... closest to take-out I've ever had.

6 T rice vinegar
6 T pineapple juice (use the reserved liquid from a can of pineapple chunks)
6 T sugar
3 T ketchup
3 T soy sauce
1 T cornstarch
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T grated fresh ginger (I used grated whole dried ginger since I forgot to buy ginger at the store)

Put the pork in the pan, dump in the sauce, cook until thick.


Even if the hubby - who ALWAYS orders the battered version of sweet & sour pork - turns up his nose and goes "ewww" just because it looks like stir fry.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Helllloooooo... internet!

Well, crap. It's been quiet around here, hasn't it??

Blame it on all the TV season finales, a buttload of work to do at work, an overheating laptop and a broken cooling fan (not the same as the fan IN the laptop, it's an external thing), trying to get workouts in, and life in general.  Oh, and having one too many brewskies on Saturday night and catching the little tribute to Ronnie James Dio that they did on VH1 Classic and crying my eyes out for about fifteen minutes.

(Long story somewhat shorter.... my friend knew the guys in one of his opening bands when he was swinging thru Chicago many years ago, and I basically got recruited to hang out with them all for the day since I had a car and one of the guys in the band wanted to go visit his grandparent's graves, which were in the city.  While soundchecks were going on, Ronnie noticed us lingering around and called us over to talk to him, and the man was a true gentleman in the way you don't see anymore.  Talking to the chicks hanging with his opening band very respectfully - we ended up chatting about religion and school - I was still in college at the time - and the man could not have been nicer or more well spoken.  Why is it always the good ones that go too early?  The world is a sadder place without him in it)
Oh, and the past few days it's been in my head to get this over-ten-year-old-piece-of-technology working again.....

That, my friends, is the Sharp Mobilon Tripad Handheld PC.  I bought it back in 199-mumblemumble and it just never got used like I intended.  All I remember is that I had busted the screen on my laptop (actually... my dad did... he stepped on it... in his defense I probably shouldn't have had it on the floor of my bedroom...) and this was a cheap replacement as basically a word processor.

It's spent many a year shoved in my closet.  And it's been too long.

When I first saw the iPad... my first thought was "Hey.... I had one of those back in '99!   And it was better.. it had a keyboard!" 

I still love the design of it.. you can flip it to be a tablet or it kinda has it's own stand and keyboard for real typing.  It's got an expansion slot that I never used for anything.  I found out I can probably get a version of Mobipocket to work on it.  Mobipocket AND a basic Word?  Sign me up.  That's mostly what I need anyway.

So... on to the cooking...

Tonight was Chiles Rellenos Casserole.  A million versions of it are out there, this one was pretty basic.  Now, the hubby and I love chiles rellenos.  I've made them quite a few times.  But it is a pain in the BLEEP with all the roasting and stuffing and coating and cooking, and it never turns out quite right.  I thought the casserole form might be a smidge easier.

Pretty basic... I went with some shimp...

Load on the roasted chiles and cheese....

Over the top of it all goes an egg/flour mixture....

And halfway thru baking, I topped it with some canned chopped tomatoes....

And... done!

I do not know why, but I kinda thought it would be cheesy goodness on the bottom and eggy/bready topping on top, when it actually was more eggy thru the whole thing.  Still tasty though.  Yummy on it's own, equally tasty when slapped on a tortilla.

I liked it.

The hubby was grumbly because he's been eating Mexican food off the lunch truck that swings by his work all week (hey... did someone hold a gun to your head to make you eat burritos all week???  I don't think so).

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Welcome back, internet!!!!

Cable & internet out one night.

Cable modem dies another night.

(Why, oh why, did the networking equipment company I worked for not do any cable modems??  I have routers and switches and modems and gateways and probably an ADSL product or two laying around, but I'm screwed when it comes to the cable modems)

And of course, you can just go pick up a cable modem at one of their stores.... which all close at 6pm.

Not very useful.  And even more useful when you've got two people who are getting slammed at work and are lucky to even leave the office by 6pm.

But... today the hubby escaped work early and picked up a new modem.  When I first got home I was really more interested in looking at the casing and trying to figure out if I could decide which vendor it really comes from (bit-o-truth for you out there... no matter what the name on your wireless router, there are really only about 3 or 4 places in China that come up with the basic designs, and then they're slightly re-worked by the company whose name appears on the outside) than listening to the hubby.  Who'd been trying to get the modem working for an hour before he called customer service.... which had him on hold for 45 minutes.

While he fumed and waited... I hopped on one of the unsecured wireless connections around here and did a quick search for the program that wouldn't download (I could go on about DNS servers... but I know I'd bore you).  Then plugged - with a wire - the laptop into the router that is connected - with a wire - to the modem.


We has internet.

I do not know WHY... STILL... the first thing they do not tell you to do in instructions or while you're waiting on the customer service line, is to set up a blasted wire connection.  I know, life is fun without wires.  But sometimes, when you want something to work, you need a bleedin' wire.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Oh frittatas... where have you been all my life??

We love eggs for dinner.  Fried, in omlete form, scrambled, poached... you name it.

But for some unknown reason, the frittata has always scared me.

I suppose I've always imagined that no matter what, it'd end up glued/burned to the bottom of the pan and dinner would be a failure.

But last week... I tried one for the first time. A lovely Leek and Asparagus frittata since I had leeks and asparagus (and mushrooms, which the recipe calls for, and potatoes, which the recipe doesn't call for, and some Chilean cheese, which the recipe doesn't specifically call for).

While the recipe was already in progress I will admit that I freaked... I was using a pan that is "stick resistant" and not "non-stick" and I was convinced it would be a disaster. 

So pretty!!

And tasty. 

And how did it come out of my merely "stick-resistant" Calphalon anodized pan??  (My buddie That Word Guy turned me on to this pan... seriously... so worth it.  It's like the "crack" of this product line... they sell it cheap and get you hooked.  And if you add it to your basket in Amazon and just keep an eye on them, they can get as low as $30-$40 bucks and it is SO worth it)


Yeah... didn't stick to the bottom because really, the whole point of a fittata is that the eggs cook to the "brown" stage, where they should release from the pan anyway.

I liked it so much, I tried it agiain tonight... a purely veggie affair of some "ancient red" peppers (when I see an ingredient I've never even heard of at the grocery store... I must buy...) and shallots with the egg....

This one was also lovely.  Even if it stuck a little bit.

And it paired up nicely with some lovely slabs of browned Spam....

That's just the Spam, people.  No flour or coating needed... the Spam will get all brown and crispy and good on its own.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Recipes that SHOULD be redone

Yeah... it's been quiet around here. Lots of work at work, lots of work at my side gig, and trying to get in enough reading time to finish Gail Carriger's "Changeless" and Jim Butcher's "Changes"... and hey... I just realized those titles are similar... both were extremely good reads even if I did have to wait two extra days for the hubby to finish his copy of "Changes" so we could discuss.... but anyway... meals around here have been easy or repeats for the past two weeks, but hopefully I'm getting back into the swing.... so... back to your not-so-regularly scheduled program....

So... I've been a subsciber to Cooking Light magazine since about 2001, I think.

You subscribe to any recipe magazine that long, and you will start to notice that they repeat things.

Cooking Light always apparently needs to repeat/revisit things I wouldn't had touched in the first place. And apparently, they don't bother with recipes that they probably should give another go.

Enter, Meatballs and Peppers.

I was looking for something to do with ground beef. I actually mixed up and baked off the meatballs last night, since my ground beef was nearing the end of the usability period. Threw the cooked meatballs in the fridge, and when I got home I just whipped them out, and then heated them up with the brother and the peppers.

Um.... my... that picture is a little blurry. Sorry about that.


It was easy to do with the already cooked meatballs, and then I finished with some white balsamic vinegar rather than the white wine vinegar.

Very tasty.

And something that changed my world.....


I love polenta. The hubby hates it. So it's really only ever worth making a single serving of it, and it can just be a smidge of a pain for "just one person" even when that person is me.

Cup of water, 3 tablespoons polenta, a pat of butter, then 3 minutes in the microwave followed by a sprinkle of cheese and a little more salt and pepper.... ohmyword. I can do this?!?! Like... seriously..... I can take leftover meatballs with me to work tomorrow, and then just microwave up my own polenta, fresh???

Happy me. Happy, polenta-filled-tummy me.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!!!!

Is everyone else out there as full of Easter food as I am??
There was much to celebrate this year... after last year, knowing layoffs were looming and having a week of furlough before the holiday, I threw myself into food prep for Easter and went nutso... so far as to make my own pierogies.
Yeah, not this year.
While there is much to celebrate, like being employeed again and having a beautiful new sink......
(ain't it purty?? The first pan I washed in it made me so excited I had to run upstairs to the computer room to tell the hubby "IT'S SO AWESOME!" I mean, seriously... I knew a 6 inch sink was seriously lacking, but I had no idea that two more inches of sink would make such a HUGE difference. It's nice to not get my whole shirtfront wet when I try to wash a pot)
... back to the story....
... this year, I'm just burned out. Don't know if it's all the work (had some extra stuff pop up in the part-time contracting job also) or what, but my whole attitude about Easter this year was "meh".
We were already committed to bringing the cheesecake that has been taking up freezer space since around Valentine's Day (someone at the hubby's work has a kid that uses them for fundraising, and while they are pretty darned good cheesecakes, that's a lot of freezer space to sacrifice!). I did want to make a Gingerbread cake from some little Cook's Illustrated special issue thingy that I bought since the hubby wanted to try that. Other than that, I was pretty content to not worry about bringing much - especially since my brother in law and his family weren't going to be eating with us this year.
But, well... sometime during the last week I got a craving for good ole Knorr spinach dip in the big old Hawaian bread bowl. Easy enough to make and bring.

Oh, and I know that my favorite part of spinach dip is the water chestnuts, so I figured I'd double up on the water chestnuts that I added. The verdict? I loved it and everyone else was "oh... this is sooooo good!"
Double water chestnuts.... good thing.
Can't find an online (free) source for the gingerbread cake. It was in a "Best of 2010" or "Best for 2010" issue thingy. I did make the decision to ditch my silicone bakeware and went and bought a real bundt pan to make it. Worked like a charm.

Hubby loved the cake, everyone else said they liked it also. If it gets made again, I might cut back on the ginger in the glaze since it crossed just over into the "too much for me" category. But all said... still good.
And now, for the late-night munching... it's frozen pizza time since the hubby walked into the kitchen and said "I want something that is not eggs or tuna or ham or polish sausage". Bring on the frozen pizza, baby.
Which does leave me in a pickle for dinner on Tuesday since the new Jim Butcher novel comes out that day and we'll each have our noses into our own copies of that book during the evening, I wager. I figured frozen pizza would be A) quick and B) easy to eat while reading. Hmmm.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Randomosity: Why I Love My Hubby, IUOF, The "To-Try" List and the New Addition!

Jumble of a post ahead. Deal.

Why I love the hubby... as much as he is NOT a foodie, at least I no longer get looks when the time at night is this.....

... and I have a pot of Potato Leek soup on the stove.....

... and rather than giving me odd looks, he just goes "Oh, potato leek soup. That smells good."

Other randomosity....

Why is it, even when I follow a recipe to the letter, I still get watery scalloped potatoes? It is just one thing I cannot get right.

"IUOF" and the "To-Try" List....
Ok... a group I've known online for ages has a bunch of little phrases/abbreviations that we use... one is IUOF. Inappropriate Use Of Fruit. For recipes where the addition of fruit is really just kinda a big "ew" to some people. I discovered a new one... IUO Olives. I went to the cafe in our building yesterday, and they had "Roasted Tomato Soup" on the menu.
Yeah. I thought tomatoes, maybe a little cream, and all would be good.
Not so.
It had OLIVES in it. GREEN olives. Now, I love me some black olives. Green olives are wonderful in the bottom of a martini glass, and OK in moderation. In soup?? YUCK. I ended up tossing it all. Just way gross.
Which brings us to.....
The To-Try list.
I know it's not uncommon at least among my friends to have loads and lists of recipes that you want to try, but never get around to. I also have that. One of those has been Creamy Tomato-Balsamic Soup. Been wanting to try it since 2005 and it has not yet happened. But it got stuck in my head recently, and I made a batch tonight. I have to say, easy enough to make, and I just whizzed it in the food processor and didn't bother straining the solids... but tres yum....

Yeah, it might be prettier if it didn't have the seeds in it, but it was still very yummy.

And last..... The New Addition!!
It's been something I've been wanting to do for years... it took some talking to get the hubby to go for it... but I'd like to introduce you to....
Our future sink!!!

Yes, I am totally over excited about a new sink.

I swore, shortly after I was into the layoff period from my last job, that our sink was GOING to be replaced when I was back working. And considering I started working right before the Turkey Day and Xmas holidays, I consider this to be pretty quick timing.
We went to Home Depot a couple weeks ago and looked over the options, I liked the Kohler Double Staccato sink that is pictured above. Other than the shape, which should allow for larger pots, I am totally excited that it is a whole EIGHT INCHES deep. Our current sink is the cheap-ass builders model that went into the place when it was built... six inches deep. And any lady wil tell you... sometimes those numbers do matter, and six is not enough.
Also got a new faucet and garbage disposal. Yay!!!
The plan is that the hubby is taking Friday off of work to work on the installation. I'm glad, because I will not be home for any of it and will happily sit in bliss at work while it happens. If all goes perfectly, it should be done on Friday. I figure worst case... it gets finished on Saturday.

And I will be a happy, happy hausfrau.