Saturday, July 30, 2011

Things I Eat

So I clearly haven't had much time or resources for cooking. But, as always, be patient, because I'll finagle some recipe to post soon.

In the meantime, I've obviously been eating things. And taking random pictures of my food while fighting looks of "what the hell is she taking a picture of?" and thought I'd share then with you!

During this trip to Fenway Park I decided to *gasp!* forgo the Fenway Frank for a steak and cheese. Total, this lovely little meal of sandwich, fries, and beer was about $20. Why mediocre baseball food is so very pricey is beyond me, but it was satisfying enough. What's even more satisfying--the Sox won! :)

Whenever I try a new fancy restaurant, I get the creme brulee to finish the meal. I absolutely looove the crunchy sugar atop a creamy custard--I tend to stay away from heavy chocolate desserts after a huge meal, just my preference. This is a Kahlua creme brulee from one of my old favorite "fancy" restaurants in Western Mass: The Whatley Inn. Enjoyed after a huge and amazing meal celebrating my Nana's 75th Birthday. It was lacking the crunch of a traditional creme brulee, which was disappointing, but as a whole it was a lovely, tasty little dessert.

My friend John made some amazingly rustic homemade pizza with his new pizza stone. The dough and sauce are homemade. He even kneaded in some herbs into the dough (basil I think, possibly others), which was amazing. We had a few slices in his kitchen before packing up the rest to snack on while we took an impromptu drive three hours away to see a Grateful Dead cover band at 8pm one night mid-week. Definitely a fun trip--I love random adventures! I accompanied it with some orange-pineapple juice with seltzer.

This amazing little cupcake is a Pina Colada choice from one of my absolute favorite Boston stops: Sweet. A sweet vanilla cupcake filled with pineapple and topped with coconut buttercream. I paired it with a Stewart's Key Lime to fully get the island feel. I devoured it in a total of ten seconds and went on to my second favorite flavor there, a carrot cake cupcake with cream cheese buttercream.

And, though I have no picture of it, I thought I should share my experience with trying duck for the first time. In short: it was awesome! Thanks to one of those silly group purchasing sites, I was able to snag a gift card for 50% off my new favorite local fancy-food place, Eclipse. I decided that since the duck breast was their specialty, I couldn't properly experience the restaurant until I tried it. And what a good idea that was! I was a little leery of the statement that the duck is cooked "medium rare" since I'm used to chicken being so throughly cooked (I actually asked if they could "just cook it regular medium?" like the true impostor foodie that I am) as to avoid sketchy things. But as I soon discovered, duck is nothing like chicken. It was so tender, juicy, and full of flavor. I kept saying it tasted like the most delicious steak, though I think that's more of a consistency thing. It was a seriously satisfying meal and there was no bit of ducky left on that plate when I was finished. If you live in Western Mass and have yet to check out Eclipse, you're truly missing out.

So there you have it folks, a rundown of the fun things I've been seeing and eating. I had many more, and about five more that were just sushi alone, but somehow they were deleted from my camera.

Recipes soon, I promise!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Showin' the Love


Soo I FINALLY updated that "Links" tab up there! The links posted are blogs that I love dearly and visit on a daily basis. I was inspired to write it up when I realized that Maris had me linked on her page--I was quite honored! So I thought I'd return the favor and post my faves.


Also, if anyone has any suggestions for awesome cooking blogs, please leave a comment! I'm always on the lookout for new and interesting blogs to follow and potential new blogger friends :) Extra points if they're 20-somethings blogs, since, well, I'm a 20-something! hehe.


Also, if you have me linked and I haven't been diligent enough with my analytics to figure it out, please leave a comment and let me know. Odds are, I'll link ya back :)


Also made a side bar with my most popular posts and posts that I like in particular. Check it out!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

New Friends and Summer Risotto


All photos taken on my very-much-not-an-iphone-phone camera. I've more or less decided that the new camera will have to wait until I have a deeper savings. I'm squirreling away to get my own place so that might take priority. Or I'll cave and impulse-buy the camera. Who knows...

So last week I borrowed an old friend's kitchen, this week I borrowed a new friend's kitchen.


The day I started my first post-college-career-job I shared an office with the only other early-20-something employed there. Turns out, not only was he also brand new and fresh out of college, we pretty much became instant friends--despite the fact we're polar opposites.

They moved him to another office to be close to his department, but considering my office is adjacent to the only color copier in the company, he passes through often.

It certainly wouldn't be quite as interesting to work there without him.


I've been meaning to try this recipe ever since I saw it on We Are Not Martha. It just seems like the perfect summer dish. Since my friend is a he-man who refuses to eat anything sans meat, grilled chicken was also added.

Risotto is notoriously difficult--or so Top Chef tells me. This made me extremely paranoid and I went from thinking it was too watery before adding the veggies to thinking it was not watery enough after adding the veggies. I remember Padma and Tom sending a Top Chef Master home because his risotto didn't spread. Guess I would have to pack up my knives and leave if I was competing.

Still tasted dang good though.



Lemony Summer Risotto
(From We Are Not Martha with only minor edits)

Forgot to take a These Are The Ingredients photo, here's
a Messy Chopping photo instead

  • 4-5 C vegetable broth
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 C arborio rice
  • 1/2 C dy white wine
  • Zest of 1 lemon

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 small bunch asparagus, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

  • 1 small zucchini, chopped

  • 1 small summer squash, chopped
  • 1 tsp dill
  • 1 1/2 C corn (fresh or frozen. If frozen, defrosted)

  • 1 bunch basil

  • Juice of 1 lemon

  • 1/2 C parmesan
  • dash of white pepper


Bring the vegetable broth to a boil in a saucepan, then lower to a simmer. In a separate medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook about 3 minutes, until onions are transparent.


Add the rice and cook for about 2 minutes, then add wine and stir until the rice absorbs the wine. Add the lemon zest.

Add 1 cup of the warmed vegetable broth to the rice. Stir and let the rice absorb the stock. Quote directly from We Are Not Martha: "While I don’t believe you have to stir like a crazy person like some risotto lovers will have you believe, I do think you should check on the pot every couple minutes and give it a good stir, so the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot." I did stir like a crazy person through most of this, and some rice still stuck to the bottom. So some sort of happy medium I think is best.

Once the broth is absorbed, add the rest of the broth a cup at a time, allowing the rice to absorb the liquid before adding more. The rice should be tender but not goopy.


Meanwhile, warm the olive oil and add the veggies. Sprinkle with dill and pepper. Cook until tender.


When your risotto is done, add the corn, basil, lemon juice, parm, asparagus and zucchini.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sticking to the Don't Be Depressed Diet -- Sloppy Joes!

No recipe yet folks, hang in there. Potential new recipe happening tomorrow if all goes according to plan though. Anyway.


So it was an emotionally charged day in the land of Breakupsville. Had another difficult conversation, unfriended him from my Facebook. Phone deleting will come next, probably once I get my stuff back. I found myself hiding my tear-swollen eyes behind my bug-eye sunglasses and ferociously reading the third Chelsea Handler to get my spirits up (I have now completed My Horizontal Life and Are You There God, It's Me Chelsea since becoming single--wonder if she'd be pleased to know she helping me get over my breakup by being absolutely hilarious? Probably not, she's kind of a biatch...) and trying to keep my phone very far away. Kind of failed at that actually.

As per usual, the appetite went away. I had reserved myself to a night of moping and falling asleep with an empty belly. One step closer to revenge body, right?

No. Sloppy joes were for dinner. And if any of you have been around since my wicked early posts, you'll know that sloppy joes are one of my ultimate comfort foods. I decided to start watching The Big C and eat some food. Some delicious food.

The Big C is a really amazing show I am finding, as I am already 1.5 episodes in. Inspirational and all that. If your life sucks, FIX IT. And hey, things could always be worse. I'm lucky that the only thing I'm mending is a broken heart.

Oh here's some pictures of me posing with my sloppy joe whilst wearing a pouty face. I forget that not all of the internet is MySpace and that I am not 14 anymore sometimes. I think that's okay though.

Edit: Request for sloppy joe recipe? Haha... Manwich sauce + ground beef + buttered and toasted hamburg roll = taaa-dahhh! I never said it was a GOURMET sloppy joe...

Also, found this piece I wrote the last time I was in singletown. It's dated and it's corny as all hell (I like my breakup post here better), but it sill rings true in a lot of cases.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Classy Water



I've never been much of a water drinker. I know it's good for me. I know it's healthy and possibly promotes weight loss and is pretty much the only way to quell a hangover.

But something that tastes like nothing never really appealed to me. Bring on the juice and soda and coffee and flavor please.

But I may have been turned. And all it took was a few slices of cuke and lemon.

Seriously guys, this is my summer drink now. Throw some slices in a water bottle, top with ice, then refill throughout the day. Refreshing and delish. The sour lemon and cool, crisp cucumber give the water a delightful punch of flavor that really helps beat the heat. The slices will give flavor through at least five refills--at least that's how many times I refilled yesterday.
And it looks dang classy too, doesn't it?


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Old Friends and Good Food -- Chicken Cacciatore




I often feel lonely in Western Massachusetts. It's not because I don't have friends, I do, but I have very busy friends. Somehow my boyfriend became my entire social life, and his friends became my friends, and now that I'm newly single'd I keep getting that lonely feeling creeping up on me. I'm learning to be by myself and it's rough. Once the play is over it'll be even rougher, since I won't have something to do every night.


However, to avoid the lonely feeling I'm really trying my best to reconnect with old friends in the area. Last night I met up with my friend John, who happens to be my oldest friend (since preschool, wow!). The plan was to have an impromptu dinner party with an Italian theme and have good food, wine, and conversation with whoever wanted to attend.

See, the problem with "impromptu" and "busy friends" is that a dinner party with little notice doesn't have a great attendance.

Or, any really. It was just us two.

Roasted veggies, also by John

But two food lovers in a lovely kitchen with a kick-ass camera (borrowed from his mom) is always a good time. John always made cakes in high school on anyone's birthday--yellow butter cake with chocolate icing was always a favorite. I remember one time he sculpted a duck out of buckeye ingredients for a friend's birthday but his grandfather ate the head off it before he could give it to her.

John's herbed foccacia
We did end up meeting some friends downtown after. We'll definitely be doing the dinner party thing again in the future, but hopefully with better planning and more friends to share our culinary talents with. Possibly with a different theme--perhaps Sandwiches or Tacos so I can use some of the great new cookbooks Lisa sent me!

Cacciatore was all me though ;)
About this dish: Adapted from my friend's blog The Skinny Guinea, which I really wish he'd update more, or ever since the last post was four years ago, because this guy knows his stuff. I cooked this ALL. THE. TIME. in college. It's a great one-skillet dish, and tastes so dang classy. And the fact that it only takes 1/4 cup of wine leaves you the rest of the bottle to share with friends :)

Lazy Chicken Cacciatore
(Adapted slightly from The Skinny Guinea)
  • 2 Skinless, Boneless Chicken Breasts

  • 3 Large Cloves of Garlic

  • 3 Stalks of Green Onion (or 1/2 Yellow Onion)
  • 
1 Small can of Diced Tomatoes or about two cups freshly chopped
  • 
1/2 Yellow Pepper
  • 1 cup baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 Handful of Fresh Italian Parsley

  • 1/2 cup sour cream (you can sub for plain yogurt but I like the thickness of the sour cream)
  • 1 box pasta of your choosing (spiral or penne is the way to go, I think)
  • 
Olive Oil
  • 1 small handful of Sun Dried Tomatoes

  • 1 tsp of Capers
  • 
1/4 cup of white wine



-Prepare the pasta according to package and prep your veggies, open the tomatoes, open the wine.


-

Heat up the olive oil in a large pan on medium high and add the green onions. Once they are translucent, add the garlic.* 

When the garlic is just starting to change color, add the sun-dried tomatoes.

 Let the sun-dried tomatoes start to soften, then add the peppers and mushrooms.

-Stir frequently. When the garlic is golden brown, add the tomatoes. 

Let the tomatoes simmer for a minute or two and add the white wine when everything is hot again. Let the water cook off for a few minutes.

When there's little water left, push all the vegetables to the outside of the pan, leaving an empty hole in the center. Add your raw chicken to that space.


-Stir the chicken in its own little center until all the pieces are cooked on the outside. Add the capers and parsley and mix everything together. Let this simmer for a few more minutes until the chicken has fully cooked. Change to low heat and mix in the sour cream.** Serve over pasta!


*ok, so EVERY TIME I use green over yellow, adding them at this point means that by the end I will have brown onions. So when I remember, I won't add them until later on so that they keep their color and crispness. If using yellow, I add them first as per the recipe. Why I care so much about the onions when they are my least favorite food I cannot explain.


**So the sour cream is the one thing I forgot here. I compromised by pouring in just a little milk, and adding a cornstarch and water mixture little by little until the sauce thickened. This worked pretty well and probably shaved off a calorie or two.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Break-Up Meal -- Eating What Ya Wanna


Whenever I go through a particularly Earth-shattering breakup, I find comfort in two things: I will get skinny. And I will get artistic.

Occasionally the artistic photo shoot.
The Break-Up Meal is not something I've ever been friendly with. You see, I'm not one of those girls who chugs down Ben & Jerry's when depressed. Quite the opposite in fact. Generally, you can find me in a puddle on my bedroom floor, my phone thrown across the room in an effort to avoid making poor texting choices that I'll actually end up making anyway, laptop nearby as I try not to Facebook all over the place. Crying until I'm dry and hyperventilating. All in all, not a pretty sight. The stress of convincing myself that I have gone through an emotional amputation not unlike losing my own leg leaves me very little time to eat. The very thought of food makes my stomach turn, and any fresh fruits and veggies I manage to choke down--the only thing I ever can stomach at this time--threaten to revisit me. In the meantime I write emotionally charged short stories and the occasional terrible poem or modern art piece.

It's summer.

This can last for weeks. I go over every last detail in my mind, what I could have done differently, where did it all go wrong, why I wasn't good enough, why I couldn't fix it all.

However, this time, at about week 1.5 I got terribly sick of feeling sorry for myself. This had nothing to do with me, this had everything to do with someone who decided he cared more about himself than me.

Guess what? I'm pretty effing awesome. I have a college degree and a job I love. I am artistic, I am talented, and I can cook better than most people my age. I can sing and act. I have traveled the world. I am intelligent. I have nearly perfect grammar. I. Can. Write. I have lost my father, the most important person in my life, way sooner than I should have. And though I'm never the prettiest girl in the room, I can certainly hold my own and scramble around with my flat iron and makeup and a flattering dress and think, "dang, I look good tonight." I CAN WEAR LEGGINGS AS PANTS--though I would never, ever. I promise. I am a great friend and an even better girlfriend. I put my whole heart into all my relationships, I don't put myself first, and you know what? That's not a weakness in my eyes. It's a strength, it shows I care. Emotion is not weakness, it means I actually feel something. And someday, someone is going to appreciate that and not walk all over me and push me to my breaking point. My breaking up point. Whatever.
I'll be okay.

Sometimes crying on the floor until you can't take it anymore, when your body and mind just let go of everything else--sometimes that is the most exhilarating thing in the world. Submission to a feeling, an utter release of emotion. This is when you can pick up the pieces and make your life exactly what you want it to be, with nothing and no one holding you back. (Read: The Goddess of Never Not Broken)

I'd rather be that helpless puddle than an emotionless statue. I'd rather have my eyes cry uncontrollably than have them be cold and unfeeling. I'd rather be me: flawed and caring too much, than you: standing there blank while I fall apart in front of you. I have loved and lost like so many before me, I have felt that loss with every part of me, and I am better for it. Each and every time.

Sir, you are missing out, and I hope you come to realize that. You will realize that. I stood up for myself and told you what I needed and you refused to even consider factoring me into your life. It's easier to throw me away than to take on any sort of effort on your part. And yes, I got weak a day or two into my decision and tried to un-do the ending, but I now know I did the right thing. Someone who is so unwilling to even try, give the simplest amount of effort to fix a few very simple things after two years of sharing so much together must have the emotional capacity of a crawfish and that's not something I deserve. I give my whole heart, I deserve the same in return. No compromises.

No thank you.

Anyway.


I pulled myself up from the floor. The weight I lose in a breakup should not comfort me. It should just be sad. I did not run from the fridge, nor did I run to it. I was going to eat what I wanted to eat, when I wanted to eat it, and I was going to fix my heart my own damn self. I got a D'Angelos Lobster Roll every day for lunch. I had vanilla soft serve with cherry dip twice. I had some lovely gourmet salads. Many, many Dove chocolates. A few glasses of wine. A hurricane served in a bucket followed by karaoke. Two pulled pork sandwiches. Sushi. Brie and Turkey on a ciabatta at an art museum. Ice water with sliced cucumber that felt damn classy. I started when I was hungry and stopped when I was full. I kept myself too busy to think about the hurt, and when I had time to think I could see it a bit more clearly.

Here is what I think: I've been hurt, and it sucks, but those two years were worth it despite the horrible ending. It was a learning and growing experience, it was my first long term relationship as an "adult" and I had so many amazing experiences. We saw so much together, shared so much, but he was never "the one" and I knew that deep down it would end someday. I just didn't think it would be now, and I sometimes hoped he would prove me wrong in the end. You can't make someone love you more than they're able, or after they've already reserved themselves to not, and it was time to say goodbye. Now, it is time to move on. And eat some food.

Hurricane in a bucket. Sometimes these are necessary.
Tomorrow, I will go shopping, and I will buy a dress and shoes that I can totally rock. And I will eat whatever I damn well please. I will dust off my gym membership too, because that's only wise.

French toast on French bread, c'est parfait.
Tonight, I made BBQ chicken nachos for dinner. I will likely have ice cream for dessert. Vanilla topped with honey mango butter and a dash of chocolate. Because I'm awesome. And I deserve it.


Delicious.


Break-Up Food Nachos
  • 2 chicken tenders, smothered in BBQ sauce and grilled until cooked through, cut into chunks or shredded
  • Handful of small, circular tortilla chips
  • Handful of Mexican cheese blend
  • 1/4 cup salsa (I used Newman's Own black bean and corn)
  • Spoonful of BBQ sauce
  • Dollop of sour cream

-On a small plate, arrange nachos, chicken bits, salsa, bbq sauce, and cheese into desired formation. Microwave for 30 seconds or until cheese is melted. Top with sour cream. Eat, laugh, and enjoy.

----

*note* This isn't about eating too much, or starving yourself, or any kind of support of emotional eating/not eating. It was basically me realizing that me starving myself was because my subconscious didn't think I deserved to get what I want. I kept all portions reasonable and didn't overdo it. A good rule to go by: start when you're hungry, finish when you're full, regardless of how much is left on your plate.