Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Possible Hiatus?

This plate, it is empty. Take it as a metaphor?
Life got in the way, folks, sorry about that. Going through a breakup currently (meaning one less kitchen I have to work with... among other things) AND my play opens next week. So even though I have recipes all photographed, the effort it takes to write them out, upload, and tie together with some witty overlying theme is just too much for me right now.

Jack is the only man I need anyway.
So I'm going to say I'll be taking an unofficial hiatus until my play closes July 17th (if you live in the Western Mass area and want to see it I'll give you the details!). Who knows, if I have some free time in between maybe I'll post a thing or two, but due to said break-up I'm trying to keep myself as busy as possible so that I don't fall into post-breakup-depression as I tend to do in these situations. Surrounding myself with friends and distracting myself with comedic literature seems to be my current plan of attack--as I've escaped to Boston twice already and bought Chelsea Handler's entire written works on Amazon.

The best food picture my crappy camera ever took... may it rest in peace.
The fact that I'm the opposite of a stress-eater doesn't help with the recipe development either. I tend to have to force myself to eat when sad rather than scarf down a pint of good ol' Ben and Jerry. When I do nibble on something, it's rabbit food at best. Not sure which is worse.

I can make macarons--therefore, I can conquer anything.
Anyways, don't worry about me, we've all been there and we all come out even better than before. I say that here because as I've said before, this blog is a happy place that I'd like to fill with positive energy--obviously I'm human and have spent the better part of the last week in a tear-soaked pile on my bedroom floor. I've been reading this article on "The Goddess of Never Not Broken" just about every day and it does help. If you've ever been through a breakup, it's worth a read. But in my heart and mind I know that things will get better, it wasn't meant to be, and soon I'll be happily cooking away and blogging merrily and being my usual smiley self.

Stick with me, my small collection of loyal readers, I'll be back. And maybe, just maybe I'll be even better than before.
Not sure why I chose to end with the ugly macaron...

Monday, June 20, 2011

Belated Father's Day...

So it was a pretty sucky weekend overall, with Friday being the exception because I got to escape to Boston for the day, yaaay! I feel that Boston trips need to be far more frequent, as I miss that city with everything that's in me. And if I visit this particular friend again, we're GOING to go to Redbones, since she lives immediately next door and I love that place. LEMONADE IN MASON JARS. So amazing.

Some potential scary life changes may or may not be rearing their ugly head, and the notion of this sent me into a sad place for the remainder of the weekend. The fact that I no longer have my Dad around kind of made Sunday especially hard, what with all the other things also cropping up.

But hey, didn't I say this blog was to be a happy place? I shall not harp on these things here. Y'alls know that I'm blogging a little less now due to lack of camera, so bear with me if said "life changes" end up resulting in once-a-week blog posts rather than the twice I'm trying to do, or the three times I did before that.

Also, quite sorry if I lag on commenting. I pride myself in being a loyal commenter, but lately I can't do as much as I'd like.

Back to Father's Day: I love my stepdad to pieces, and though I miss my Dad I'm sure that he'd be happy to know me and my brother are being taken care of. I hope my stepdad had a good father's day, even if it was a little bittersweet for my family. He seemed to like his gift though, which makes me happy!

A few months back I made a recipe tribute to my Dad. Check it out if you wanna. I was hoping to re-create his famous baked beans for Father's Day, but I just ran out of time. Another day, and I will attempt this great feat. It was truly his specialty.

Anyway, all you with Dads: I hope you gave them a lovely time on Father's Day. Be lucky yours wasn't plucked from you as soon as mine was--and my heart goes out to those of you who weren't lucky enough to even get the 19 years with your fathers that I got with mine. It wasn't nearly enough time, but I'm happy to have had it.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Summer Salsa


I'm getting into the whole why-buy-it-if-you-can-make-it-yourself thing. Salsa seemed easy enough, so I used this recipe from Fun and Fearless in Beantown. It's sooo simple, and sooo delicious! Is there anything better than fresh salsa? Nope. Extra points for the homemade tortilla chips (tortillas, cooking spray, salt, bake at 400 degrees for ten minutes, BAM! chips.)


True, I can appreciate a good canned version accompanied by microwaved tortilla chips with cheese, but that's a craving of a different sort. I picture eating this on a sunny back porch, mid-afternoon, perhaps with a mild cocktail. I used two jalapenos and kind of wished I'd used 3, I like a good spicy salsa!

Homemade Summer Salsa
(Slightly adapted from Fun and Fearless in Beantown)

  • 3 small tomatoes
  • 1 white onion
  • 1/4 cup frozen corn (or fresh if you're fancy)
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 jalapenos
  • 1 tbs lime juice
  • 1 tbs cilantro


-Place tomatoes, onion, jalapenos, corn, and garlic on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Broil, checking regularly to turn veggies and check for desired done-ness. The veggies are done when they are slightly blistered and wrinkly.


(corn will probably finish first, then the garlic, and the rest at about the same time. Less than ten mins)

-Put half the veggies (except the corn!) in food processor with the lime juice. Puree until well blended. Add second half of veggies and pulse until chunky.


-Stir in cilantro and corn. Chill for at least a half hour to let flavors blend.


-Serve with chips!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Tortilla Soup


Was totally unaware that girlichef had a Tortilla Soup Search going on when I made this from her recipe... Which means I was probably heavily sidetracked by the gorgeous photos and my thirst for a creamy, chickeny, spicy soup since she stated so right on the recipe.


Don't think this counts in her competition since it's basically an exact replica of her recipe, albeit a little chunkier and with lower quality photos. But it really was delicious and sooo worth making!


In other news: I experienced Northampton Restaurant Week three times last week and am throwing together a post about it soon. If your town/nearby city does a Restaurant Week, by all means do try it! It's a great way to try out some of the fancier restaurants at a reasonable price, and since it's three courses you can nibble a bit of a few different things! Just remember to tip your servers a little bit better on these nights, being a former restaurant worker myself I know how frustrating it is when "specials" take a chunk out of your tips for the night (example: if a three course meal should have been $50, and Restaurant Week gives you the $20 deal for it, the server loses more than half their expected tip--you all tip 20% right??). When you make less than $3/hr, that hurts.


I also got to visit NYC yesterday, and though I took pictures of the foods I enjoyed there, I really didn't try hard to find anything good. I was at the mercy of The Day Trip, so quick n' easy won out over fancy n' delicious. Next time I hope to stay for longer than a day, and actually seek out something better than Whole Foods Sushi and NYC Street Hotdog... both of which were sadly disappointing. Pig n' Whistle Pub near Times Square was actually pretty good though!

Anyways. Do try this Tortilla Soup. Us in the Northeast know that it's been pretty roller-coaster-ish when it comes to weather this "summer"--it's a pretty chilly day out today!

Creamy Tortilla Soup
(recipe from Girlichef)
  • olive oil
  • 1 medium sized onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, diced
  • 2 jalapenos, seeds removed from one, stem from both
  • 4 corn tortillas, ripped into small pieces
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. turmeric 
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes with chilies 
  • 1 large can chicken broth or stock (the Juice-Can-Sized kind)
  • 2 cup. cooked chicken, chopped or shredded
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
-Dry-roast corn in a skillet until small black blisters form. Set aside.

-Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a deep, heavy pot over medium heat; sauté onions and garlic for 3 minutes, or until softened and just beginning to color. 


Add tortillas, chiles, and spices and sauté for another few minutes, stirring constantly, until fragrant. Pour in tomatoes w/ their juices and the chicken broth/stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let bubble gently for 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool for a few minutes. 

-Purée in batches in a blender. I left one batch un-blended, since I love a good chunky soup.

Add chicken and corn and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer for ~5 minutes or until it has thickened up a bit. Turn off heat and stir in cream and cheese. Season to taste with salt.


-For garnish: Cut a corn tortilla into strips and fry in vegetable oil until crispy.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Quick and Easy Summer Sangria

When your borrowed camera runs out of battery,
borrow an iPhone!
I had plans for tonight. Big plans. I was fully intent on coming home, cleaning my room, showering, doing my fake spray tan thingie (no melanoma for this lady, I get my tan from a bottle I order on HSN), doing my nails, and going to bed.


It's about two hours before I actually am supposed to get sleepy. But tonight I had the fortune of going to Northampton Restaurant Week with my mom and now I'm in a food coma. I am so incredibly lazy, you have no idea. There is a pile of clothes I put on my bed last night before heading to Boyfriend's house, and they are still there, waiting to be put away. I even pushed them to the side of my bed so I could sit on it. I've been sitting for two hours.


MY LAZINESS KNOWS NO BOUNDS.

I'm hoping to squeeze one or two more trips to downtown to partake in Restaurant Week, and I'll probably be throwing a post together reviewing it. I'm no food critic by any means, most of the time I won't even say if I dislike something.

Anyways, the abundance of lazy is probably the product of a busy week. Work, Play Practice, Sleep. I was very grateful for the night off from practice tonight, but aside from stuffing my face I've really accomplished nothing. I feel bad I haven't been posting, or doing my usual blog commenting. I'm just plain pooped. I even had a handful of recipes all ready to go, waiting to be posted, and I couldn't even find the time to hit "publish"! I feel bad that my room looks like a war zone...

Boyfriend and his friend decided to help me with the photography.

Saturday I'm in NYC for the day... anybody have any suggestions on where I should get lunch? I can count the number of times I've been to the city on one hand, so I'm really not familiar with it...

Oh, right, recipe: Sangria. I love it. It's the ultimate party punch--cheap, yet classy, and absolutely delish. All you need is some cheeeeap red wine (extra points for Charles Shaw kind, he wins. Always.), a random fruity liquor, a random fruity soda and a bunch of fruit. I'm known for my white Sangria, but for some reason I was craving a red this time. Next time I'll make my Peach and Raspberry White Sangria that my friends have been begging me to divulge the secrets of for years, but for now here's a simple red.


Red Party Sangria
(all measurements are estimated--play around and find your ideal combo!)

  • 1-2 bottles sweet red wine (using "red table wine" here, but I do honestly believe Charles Shaw Cab Sauv is the ideal wine for just about anything, Sangria in particular)
  • 1/4 cup fruity liquor (I used blackberry brandy here, which is a lot more traditional for Sangria than the flavored Smirnoff I usually opt for)
  • 1 orange, halved and one half sliced into wheels
  • 2 limes, one sliced into wheels
  • 1 green apple, cut into cubes
  • 5 large ripe strawberries, sliced
  • 2 cups fruit juice (I used pineapple juice)
  • Citrus soda (I used Diet Polar Dry Orange, but you could use Orangina or even Sprite)




-Pour wine into a pitcher. Squeeze juice of non-wheeled fruit halves into pitcher. Stir well, then add sliced fruit and liquor. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight. Serve with ice, topped with citrus soda and fruit wheels for garnish.

New books!



My old friends at the Lisa Ekus Group have been reading my blog and sent me some lovely new books! I'm sooo excited! Thanks guys, I can't wait to try out some of the recipes :)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Fish Tacos -- FINALLY


I finally did it! Ever since joining the cooking blogosphere I'd been itching to try fish tacos. Sure, I'd seen them on menus in Mexican restaurants, but the idea just did not sound palatable to me. FISH, in TACOS? I was picturing fishy bits, ground-beef style, seasoned like Taco Bell and wrapped in a tortilla. I pictured squishy, fishy, and the occasional innuendo male friends used to throw around in high school and think themselves very clever indeed. I did not picture this:


--or the many other gorgeous pictures I saw on my various favorite cooking blogs. Perhaps I was not giving fish tacos the chance they truly deserved. Slowly but surely, I built up my courage and tried this recipe from WeareNotMartha.com
They're right, this sauce cannot be beat. And with a quick broccoli slaw (made from memory from a recipe on a blog that is totally escaping me right now--if it's yours please send me the link!) and a dash of guac, these were pretty damn good. Next time around, I plan on seasoning the flour with cumin and chile powder, just to give it a bit more of a spicy, taco-ish kick. The garlic and onion salt didn't pack quite enough of a punch.

Crispy Fish Tacos with Broccoli Slaw
(from wearenotmartha.com)

Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise

  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
 
  • 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
 


Tacos:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
 
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
 
  • 1 tsp onion powder
 
  • 1 tsp freshly ground white pepper
 
  • 1 lb. tilapia fillets, cut into chunks
  • 
2 large eggs, beaten
 
  • 3 cups panko bread crumbs
 
  • 3 cups vegetable oil, for frying

  • corn tortillas


Slaw:

  • 4 cups broccoli slaw
  • 2 tbs lime juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro


-Combine ingredients for the sauce, set aside. Combine ingredients for the slaw, set aside. Refrigerate both while making the tacos.


-Combine flour, garlic salt, and onion powder in a bag. Shake to combine. Put fish chunks in bag and shake until well-coated. Dunk each fish chunk in egg wash, then roll in panko.


-Heat oil over medium-high heat, then fry the fish until brown and crispy (WANM suggest 3 mins per side, I feel like it took me more like 5).


-Assemble the tacos!--tortilla, fish, slaw, sauce, guac.


These were pretty good. I'll be attempting a spicier version later in the summer most likely. Possibly a grilled one if I ever get off my butt and start that diet I've been meaning to, heh...