Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Frustration!

The frustration continues. So, I totally meant to write last Thursday, but as you may know I didn't. I didn't because I was frustrated and confused and all aflutter. You see, I went to my interview Thursday afternoon and I was fine. I was calm, cool and confident. I got into the interview and they asked questions and I answered and all was going well. Then just as the interview was wrapping up, they said “And now we need a writing sample. We'll give you 30 minutes to write a one to two minute congratulatory speech on the opening of the new Kia plant in Georgia”. Wah?! To put this in perspective, a one minute speech is about a typed page worth of words. I also know absolutely nothing about Kia. If I had a couple hours, I could probably have whipped up a killer speech about whatever they wanted (clearly I like to write) but 30 minutes isn't even enough time to type out 2 pages worth of material let alone research something that you know nothing about. Well, I researched a little online and came up with some interesting facts about Kia and the new plant they built (they are the only plant in North America to put wood floors on the production line, which is apparently easier on the workers). I had just enough time to write about 2 paragraphs and they came and said time's up. The sentences were disjointed and not cohesive, there was no flow whatsoever, and I hadn't even put any sort of closing on the speech. I was sweating bullets. I know I can write (although it's been a long time since I've written any type of formal speech). I know I can research, and I know that measly handful of sentences was not my best work; it wasn't even mediocre. So, when I got home Thursday night I was in no mood to write or really do much of anything. I spent this whole weekend kicking myself. Ok, so I spent the whole weekend kicking myself minus the time that I partying hardy at a bachelorette party, and that was only because I was too drunk to do so. The kicking recommenced Sunday morning with the added bonus of also getting to kick myself for drinking so much the night before.

Fast forward to yesterday... I got a call. They want to see me again Wednesday because the Consul General wants to ask a few more questions. Arg! How much longer can they string this along? The job is supposed to start this coming Monday. I suppose at least it isn't a no, but I'm not entirely sure what this means. My sister thinks it's so they can offer me the job in person (best case scenario). I think it's because they are waffling between candidates and want to ask more questions (most likely scenario). Of course, they could have been bored and decided to make a game of torturing me (worst case scenario). Meh!

So, needless to say, all I have been able to think about for the past several days has been this job. Clearly I will be thinking about it for a few more days. But... in the meantime you can make my newest recipe: Ranch Chicken. The guys liked it so much that they ran out (over 12lbs of chicken for 24 people).

Ranch Chicken
Serves 6

6 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
2 packets of Ranch Salad Dressing Mix
2 cups Milk
2 cups Low Fat or Fat Free Plain Yogurt
2 medium Tomatoes, sliced
12 slices of Bacon
1 cup Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese

Mix together the dressing mix, milk and yogurt. Flatten chicken breasts between two sheets of waxed paper until chicken breasts are an even thickness. Pour over the chicken and refrigerate for 1-3 hours.
Remove chicken and shake off any extra dressing. Broil for approximately 7 minutes per side or until chicken is cooked through. Top each breast with a couple slices of tomato, a couple slices of bacon and a small handful of cheese. Return to the broiler and broil until cheese melts, 2-3 minutes.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

All We Ever Get is Gruel

I hope you guys had a pleasant labor day weekend. Ours was alright. We decided to make a trip up to Helen, Georgia to “tube the 'hootch” (the Chattahoochee River). We went the very first weekend in June and had a ton of fun. We had fun when we went this time too, but the fun was slightly marred by the serious traffic jam on the way up there. The only way in to town is by a two lane highway that winds through the “mountains” (having seen the Alps, the Rocky Mountains and the Grand Tetons, I refuse to call the large hills in North Georgia mountains) and it was jam packed with tourists. I was afraid that the river would be bumper to bumper inner tubes, but for as much traffic as was heading into Helen, there were surprisingly few people on the river. I think it's because the temperature that day was under 90 degrees. In fact, it barely hit 80 in Helen, and people in the south do not get in the water unless it's above 90 otherwise it's “too cold”. The water level was a lot lower than it was in June and the river was almost unrecognizable. The June river was ice cold, fast and deep; the September river was warm, shallow and slow. We went around the rocks rather than over them (somewhat less terrifying). All in all it was a beautiful day and a lovely chilly night. Now I'm back at work and it's hot and muggy again with no reprieve in sight.

Because a week can't go by at the frat without some sort of drama, there's been some on-going drama at the frat. It all started at the end of my first week. Knowing how forget full and disorganized the guys are, I reminded them several times to get the paperwork in to the people that pay me so they would be sure to send a check this past Friday. Friday came and there was no check. Shocking! Needless to say, I was livid. Then, because apparently I wasn't angry enough, they said they had a new way they wanted to serve lunch. I guess they'd been having problems with people on half meal plans eating when they weren't supposed too and people taking more than they were supposed to; all of which led to some people not getting their meals and going hungry. Of course, who knew what meals the people on half meal plan were supposed to eat and weren't supposed to eat because they hadn't signed up for them yet and the steward hadn't gotten me the numbers. I had a number of problems with this. To begin with, it's more work for me (they told me this Friday right after they told me I was getting paid). Then, it is impossible to keep stuff warm once it's been portioned out. So unless people get there at 10:30am when I put the meals out, everyone will be getting cold food. Third, there are certain dishes that are impossible to portion out because it depends on the person's taste. For example, I'm going to have sub sandwiches for lunch tomorrow. I know that there are some people that don't like ham and there are some people that don't like turkey and some people that like both. I also don't know how each person likes their sandwich. Normally, I set out plates of meat and cheese and dishes with all the different condiments and veggies. The same goes for pizza or chips; do I put fruit and veggies on each plate. What if the person doesn't like fruit or veggies? I've considered getting a bunch of cheap dog dishes, writing each person's name on them and then just slopping food in. Perhaps I should just serve gruel. No one would steal that and it wouldn't matter if it was hot or cold because it's disgusting either way.

Side note: My big interview is tomorrow. So, I would request that if you could pray/ keep your fingers crossed/ do a “get Kristy a job at the consulate” rain dance; I would appreciate it. I would really like a job that actually pays me and doesn't force me to serve gruel in dog dishes. Thanks!

P.S. I'll be posting a recipe tomorrow. I made it for the guys tonight and want to make sure they ate it and I didn't kill them or anything ;-)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

She's Baaaack!

So I'm back at the frat. I don't want to be back at the frat. I really dislike that I'm back at the frat. It isn't better. It's actually worse. There's no internet. What am I supposed to do with my time if I can't look up mindless drivel and play Wordworm? Of course, there's already been drama. They couldn't decide when I started, and then they couldn't decide how often I was working. And of course they didn't know how many people were eating when (and they still don't), and they weren't terribly sure what the budget was. Oy... welcome back to work, right? The good news is, it might not be forever. I have an interview next week. Woot! But, I don't have the job in the bag yet. I'm only hoping... praying... wishing... crossing fingers, toes, eyes, the beams from my nuclear ghost-catching backpacks, etc. I would totally ask all of you to put in a good word for me at my (hopefully) future place of employment, but then I realized that you read my blog and probably think I'm insane. So, that might not be a good idea.

I did find something out about the boys; there are guys at the frat that like vegetables. They will actually take large helpings of all things green. I knew they existed! I'm even fairly sure they aren't just figments of my imagination. While hiding in the lounge (the kitchen gets to be over 100 in the summer, requiring me to find someplace cool) a couple guys came in and they actually requested that I cook more veggies like broccoli. Of course one of them also requested that I cook less pork. Eh, less pork is not a very viable option as the guys won't eat fish and there's only so much you can do with just chicken and beef on my budget. The new steward also informed me that the guys requested that I make mac and cheese once a week. They are going to get really sick of it really fast. Or maybe they won't, but I'm pretty sure I'll get sick of making it. Homemade mac and cheese is somewhat labor intensive; it requires a lot of steps. I also tend to burn myself on the cheese sauce pot every time I make it.

I've decided to make a change to the way I do the blog. It simply isn't feasible to put up a new recipe every day. So, I'll probably put up a recipe once or twice a week. I haven't decided if I'll still put up thoughts every day. I'm not sure you want to hear me babel that often. I'll have to think about it.

Torture: (v) 1. To inflict pain 2. To cause anguish 3. To sit in a room with a fresh out of the oven apple cobbler and vanilla ice cream in the freezer but not be allowed to eat it.

I made apple crisp today. If it tastes half as good as it smells than it turned out divine. I didn't really have a recipe for it (as per usual) so when I got groceries I just kinda grabbed what I thought I might need. I used to make apple crisp back in the long long ago when I worked at a grocery store deli in high school. I remembered making large trays of it using apple pie filling and making a sort of crumb crust on top. Well, I haven't been able to find any industrial-sized cans of apple pie filling and the little ones are expensive. So I decided to go ahead and make it from scratch. Yeah, I've lost my marbles, I know. It really didn't end up being all that hard to make. Sure, peeling 8-10 lbs of apples wasn't particularly fun, but I used a one of those little utensils that cores and slices the apple which cut the steps down considerable. The end result was a gooey apple filling with a lovely cinnamon-y crunchy top. (Ok... Ok, so I stole a bite...) Lucky for you I wrote down the ingredients I used and the amounts, so you can make it too.

Apple Crisp
Serves... probably about 8

For the Filling:
8 medium Granny Smith Apples, about 2 lbs
1/8 cup Lemon Juice
2 TBS Flour
½ cup Brown Sugar
½ tsp Cinnamon
½ tsp Allspice
¼ tsp Ginger
¼ tsp Nutmeg
¼ tsp Salt
½ cup Butter

For the Topping:
½ cup Flour
1 cup Brown Sugar
1 cup Rolled Oats
1 tsp Cinnamon
½ tsp Nutmeg
½ cup Butter

Preheat the oven to 375. Grease a 9x13 pan. Peel, core and slice apples. Do not slice the apples too thin or they will disintegrate; slice the apples into 12ths or 16ths. In a small mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg and salt. Mix lemon juice and sugar mix with apples until they are well coated. Spread the apples evenly over the pan. Cut the butter into small pieces and dot the apples with it.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, oats, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cut the butter into small chunks and add to the oat mixture. Using your hands (or a pastry cutter), cut the butter into the mixture until it resembles small crumbs. Sprinkle crumbs evenly over apples. Bake for 15 minutes then turn the temperature down to 350 and back for another 30 minutes. Crust should be golden brown and the apples should be soft. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Life Happens

Ok, so I know I promised you an oven baked fish recipe and a lower calorie mac and cheese recipe. Here’s what happened, it didn’t happen. Friday, the day I had planned to make these delicacies, was A. much to hot for extended oven baking and B. Tyler was supposed to be home at 6pm and he was, but then there was catastrophic failure at work and he had to go back in. So, we had pigs in a blanket because they were fast and didn’t require extended oven usage. Then this weekend was super busy, and it really didn’t happen. What can I say, life happens.

Oh by the way, a shout out to all mothers… Happy Mother’s Day! I would especially like to thank my mother. If you want to know where my love for cooking and creativity in the kitchen comes from, it is most definitely from my mother.

Speaking of life happens, I’m still out of work. Bah humbug. My parents are redoing their kitchen and wanted to repaint… basically the whole house. The problem, dad decided he really didn’t want to paint it himself. So, he asked me if I wanted to paint for a little extra cash. Ok… I’m not sure if I ever mentioned that I do not paint for a living and have never painted for a living. As a matter of fact, I’ve only ever had a few major home décor painting projects and I’ve never painted crown molding (eek, a ladder!). Perhaps I should also mention that my dad is a paint perfectionist. (Perhaps being a second generation in the paint industry has something to do with it). So to say that I was a little nervous getting started today is an understatement. While I don’t mind painting, I think I’d like a real job. Preferably not one an hour an a half away (the commute to my parent’s). Not that I'm not grateful to my excellent parents for enabling me to pay the rent... I'm just fairly sure that I want a real job at a desk not on top of a tall ladder painting crown molding.

The good news is I did come up with a new recipe this weekend. I made some Chicken Fajita Quesadillas. They turned out fabulous. I made them in the oven, which I think is an ingenious way to make quesadillas especially when you want to make several. They crisp up nicely and you only have to turn them once so there’s no worry about everything falling out. There’s also no need to get a silly quesadilla machine. Serve these with a little sour cream, guacamole and a margarita.

Chicken Fajita Quesadillas
Serves 4

1 lb Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast, cut into thin strips
3 cups Shredded Mexican Blend Cheese, divided
8-10 6-inch Tortillas
1 cup Bell Pepper (any color or a mix of colors) cut into strips
1 cup Onion, cut into thin strips
1 medium Tomato, cut into thin wedges
Fajita Mix (use store bought or you can make your own with the recipe below)
Vegetable Oil
Cooking Spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large skillet, heat 1 tbs of oil over medium-high heat. Add the peppers and onions and sauté until onion is tender. Remove the vegetables from skillet and add a little extra oil. Brown chicken until cooked through. Add vegetables back into the pan along with the fajita mix and 3 tbs of water. Add in tomato wedges and simmer, uncovered for 3-5 minutes or until water is mostly evaporated. Spray the one side of each of the tortillas with cooking spray and arrange half of them, sprayed side down, on a greased cookie sheet. Using half of the cheese, spread equal amounts of cheese on each of the tortillas. Arrange a layer of chicken and vegetables on each tortilla (try to keep the layers as flat as possible to make for easier handling). Sprinkle the remaining cheese on the top of the chicken and vegetables and top with the remaining tortillas, sprayed side up. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes, turning once halfway through.

Fajita Seasoning Mix
Note: I never seem to have a packet of taco or fajita seasoning on hand when I want it. But with the help of a little internet research, I found that I usually have all the ingredients I need for a good seasoning mix already in my cupboard, plus then I can control how spicy or salty the mix is.
This mix is the equivalent of one spice packet… seasons one pound of meat


1 ½ tsp Chili Powder (I used Chipotle Chili Powder for a smoky kick)
1 tsp Salt
½ tsp Ground Cumin
¼ tsp Onion Powder
½ tsp Garlic Powder
¼ tsp Black Pepper
A pinch of Ground Cayenne Pepper (Optional)
1 tbs Cornstarch

Mix ingredients together and use as you would a packet of fajita seasoning

Thursday, May 6, 2010

This Is The Blog That Doesn't End...

So, things are going to change a little here at Adventures in Gourmand Cooking. Yesterday was my last day working at the fraternity for the semester, and I’m not due back until late August (if I choose to go back). So, for the summer, it’ll be just you and me, and possibly all of Newton County, Georgia. My darling hubby, the web guy at The Covington News and offered me up to be the “food blogger” for their website. His department recently doubled (as in there was one and now there are two), and this new lady has worked for several larger publications and wanted to put into practice at The Covington News what had worked for some of the larger publications. Namely, several different blogs that would appeal to different ages and interest groups. Sadly, the position wouldn’t be paid… exactly. The food would be paid for, so we have the potential of getting one to two meals for free a week. I’m perfectly alright with that. The part that makes me nervous is they want to go high tech with it. Tyler’s boss wanted to have video of me cooking. Ummm, that might be the worst idea ever. First, we have a small, rather ugly kitchen. The countertops are probably as old as my grandparents and the washer and dryer are right next to the stove. Plus I have no desire to be on video. I would have to dress nicely and wear make up. At home I usually cook in oversized pajama pants, one of Tyler’s t-shirts and puppy slippers. Also, I’m a messy cook, and there could be no do-overs. I wouldn’t mind photos, you can crop and edit things out of photos. You can stage photos so you can’t see the laundry basket full of underpants and socks. I don’t have to be in the photos. I can still wear puppy slippers. I would also have to scour the local Goodwill and Salvation army to find some interesting dishes to use in the photographs. Well, the idea has me nervous, but it has potential.

For final frat boys news until next fall:
I made homemade cinnamon rolls for the guys Wednesday. I used the recipe from ThePioneerWoman.com. Mmmm… these cinnamon rolls really are the best. They take a little time to make, but are well worth the wait. The minute I walked in the door on Wednesday, I was accosted by a frat boy, “Cinnamon rolls!?”. That was all he could say. I think he was worried he wouldn’t be able to get one before he had to take some evil GA Tech final. He started talking about analyzing cinnamon rolls in some sort of unheard of mathematic way. I think he may have lost his mind somewhere between over studying for his final and anticipation of cinnamon rolls. Shortly thereafter another frat boy came in and demanded to know when they would be done. I was up to my elbows in dough and flour and threatened to throw wads of dough at him. When I did start putting out the pans, the boys came trickling down. I saw two boys take a couple of forks and one whole pan of cinnamon rolls and head back upstairs. The poor sausage patties I put out were sadly ignored. There’s something about pan after pan of warm fragrant cinnamon rolls that just makes a tray of sausage patties seem a little pathetic. I had brought some of my own ingredients and had made some dough specifically for Tyler and I. Last time I made cinnamon rolls for the guys, Tyler was upset that I didn’t make any for us, so this time I wasn’t going to make that mistake.

An update on the landlord situation: Our old landlord finally got us our check. In the end, Tyler had to go and get it. I wasn’t able to do it because I had to take the bus to work and wouldn’t be able to get back (as we’re down to one car for the moment). He (Tyler) wasn’t particularly happy about this arrangement; he hates confrontation of any sort and has some sort of phobia of landlords. I would imagine if I had gone, I would have said something nasty as a parting thought because, while I don’t like conflict, if you get me riled up enough it takes me a while to settle down. So, perhaps it’s all for the best that Tyler went.

I am making Spicy Breaded Baked Fish for tomorrow and Lower Fat Mac and Cheese tomorrow, so I will give you those recipes (and possibly pictures) tomorrow.

I'm going to go have a cinnamon roll and some milk.

P.S. Can you guess what song I referenced in this post's title?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

UPDATE

Lunch: Chicken Quesadillas, Chips and Salsa
Dinner: Chicken Parmesan, Spaghetti and Salad

UPDATE: So, when I arrived at my old landlord’s office yesterday just before 3:30pm, he wasn’t there. Apparently he goes home every day between 2 and 3. Urgh! He said he would call us and let us know when he was available. Well, there’s no way I could leave work early today (I have cinnamon rolls to prep), and I certainly wouldn’t be able to make it from downtown Atlanta all the way out to Conyers (where his office is located) at the drop of a hat. So, poor Tyler had to wake up early and take me to the bus. I must admit, I really don’t feel that bad for Tyler. He completely balked at the idea of having to wake up early, and I had to kindly point out that not only was this a one time deal, but that I have to get up that early every morning (and he’s always poking fun at me because I want to go to bed before 11pm). I hate only having one car.

In other news, the frat boys have run amuck. Apparently the stress of finals and the upcoming, relative freedom of summer has made them take leave of what little brains and civility they had. They completely cleaned out the fridge over the weekend, and by cleaned I mean ate everything they could find like a bunch of Hoover vacuums. So, if they’re short on chicken quesadillas today because those buttheads ate the tortillas and cheese (again with the cheese!), then I really don’t care. I’m feeling a bit of the end of semester lassez-faire as well. They want to eat the cheese and tortillas? Ok, I’ll put out a big bowl of canned chicken with taco seasoning and call it lunch. They also took an entire gallon of whole milk that was needed for cinnamon rolls. I sent the steward a quick e-mail letting him know I would be unable to make cinnamon rolls because we had no milk. Unsurprisingly, he went out and bought a gallon of milk right away. Ahh the power of cinnamon rolls! In order to discourage any further thieving, I left a note on the whiteboard: “Dear Lodge Inhabitants, If you remove or “borrow” any of the following ingredients, it will result in my being unable to make cinnamon rolls for tomorrow: sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, cinnamon, flour, butter, milk, maple and vanilla” Hopefully, that will deter them. I’m serious about not making cinnamon rolls if any of it’s missing, even if they only wanted a glass of milk.

Today’s recipe is oven-baked chicken parmesan. Tyler’s favorite “Italian” dish is chicken parmesan. I would bet anyone any amount of money that, no matter what Italian restaurant we go to, so long as they have chicken parmesan on the menu, that’s what he’s ordering. I wanted to make it for the guys, sautéing it in oil on the stove would take waaay to long. So I came up with this version. I adapted the coating from my chicken cordon bleu recipe. Dipping the chicken in butter and then in the breading makes the bread crumbs turn crispy (rather than soggy) in the oven. As a plus, because this recipe is done in the oven (rather than on the stove, dripping with oil) it’s also a little healthier. (Note: I said healthier, not calorie free, it still has butter and parmesan cheese). I used chicken tenders, but you can use chicken breasts. If you are using chicken breasts, I would pound them a little to make them thinner so the breading doesn’t burn while you’re waiting for the chicken to get done. This is also an excellent breading recipe for fish (you’ll have to adjust the time though).

Oven Baked Parmesan Cheese
Serves 6

1 ½ lbs Chicken Tenders
1 1/4 cups Bread Crumbs
1 ¼ cups Parmesan
2 ½ tbs Italian Seasoning
2 tsp Garlic Powder
1 cup Butter or Margarine, melted
Salt and Pepper to taste (you’ll only need a little salt because the cheese is salty)

Preheat oven to 350; lightly spray a shallow baking pan (or cookie sheet with sides) with cooking spray. Combine bread crumbs, parmesan, italian seasoning, garlic powder and salt and pepper in a small bowl. Dip chicken in butter and shake off excess. Roll chicken in bread crumb mixture being sure to thoroughly coat with bread crumbs and place on pan in a single layer. Bake for approx 20 minutes turning midway through. Serve with spaghetti and marinara sauce.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Lessons Learned

Lunch: Cheesy Pigs In A Blanket and Chips
Dinner: Brunswick Stew and Garlic Cheddar Biscuits

I hate getting duped, and I really hate that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when someone you believed to be a generally nice person turns out to be a complete scumbag. And boy did both happen in abundance this weekend. I may have mentioned that we moved… right? Well, I’m not sure if I mentioned that our lease was not up on the old house. It is not technically up until the end of this month. We were alright with that. We figured we would give the landlord plenty of time (60 days notice) to find someone else, and that we would have plenty of time to move our stuff (and save money by not renting a moving van). Well, he had a few people go through the house and a relative of our neighbors decided to rent the house. The landlord called us Thursday afternoon and asked if we could get the rest of our stuff out by the 1st of May. Ok… no problem. Friday night while loading up our stuff at the old house, the new tenants stopped over to look at some things around the house. While they were looking at things we chatted, and they mentioned that they had already signed the lease and it went into effect on the first. Well, Tyler and I thought that was excellent because it should have meant that we would not owe any rent for May and that we should be getting back our deposit. We called the landlord Saturday morning… he informed us we would not be getting back anything because we broke the lease…

What?!

I tried to argue that we didn’t break the lease, that I’d never told him we had any intention of breaking the lease, and that I had specifically said that we would see the lease through until the end of this month. I even pointed out that he had the place rented already (and had a lease signed that went into effect before our lease was up). He started to talk in circles about how I hadn’t given him any notice and whether or not he had a new tenant was none of my concern, but that I broke the lease and would not be receiving any of our $800. I was completely flabbergasted. The man went from what I thought was a nice old man to a completely sketchy jerk. He was actually laughing! I hung up on him and called my dad. I love my dad; he’s a great guy. He always seems to know what to do when I get into a situation where I’m in over my head (or if I can’t get the weed eater started). In true protective father style, dad wanted to get on the phone with this guy. I gave him the number and a little while later, I got a call back. “Kid, I think you’re hosed. This guy is a real jerk” (although I think dad might have used a moniker a little stronger than jerk). After much conversation and much enraged pacing, we decided that this was most likely going to have to go to small claims court and that it would be a toss-up as to whether or not I would win. The problem, this guy wanted to fight dirty. He accused us of not keeping up the yard, of not telling him about our pets, of giving him no notice before moving etc etc. All of which were not true, but hard to prove. It would have been an enormous case of he-said/she-said. Though, in my mind, the cold hard facts were he broke the lease by signing a new lease that started a month before ours ended and he had not given us the required (by law) 30 days notice nor did he have anything from us stating an intention to leave early.

Well, just about the time that Tyler and I were getting all fired up to take this guy’s butt to court (ok, maybe more me than Tyler), the guy called my dad back. I guess he realized that this could end very badly for him. While Tyler and I stood to lose a possible $800, he could lose much more. He’s a real estate agent. His career could be hurt by losing a case in court like this not to mention the potential of having his name dragged in the mud. Hey, there are advantages to having a husband who works at the local newspaper. He said he would be willing to offer us $400 in exchange for a letter stating that we forfeited the rest of the deposit because we “broke the lease”. Well, here’s the classic double or nothing scenario, or as Tyler called it, the Cash Cab choice. We could either walk with $400 or we could go to court and get either $800 or nothing. I really didn’t want to have to deal with the anger and the pain in the butt it would be to taking this jerk to court, and Tyler decided some money in hand was better than none and a uncontrollably angry wife (a potential outcome). Here’s the catch, I have to hand deliver the letter. Which means that this afternoon, I’m going to have to be face to face with this (insert expletive here). I’m terrified he’s going to bully me or go back on his word and say there was no such arrangement or what have you. I couldn’t sleep last night and my stomach has been all in knots today. I can deal with confrontation, but I don’t like it. I’m not a nasty person and I don’t like dealing with nasty people, and I most certainly don’t like the way nasty people make me want to act.

Oh… and if all that weren’t enough for one weekend, our car decided to overheat. So now we have to get it fixed. All I have to say is, I better win the lottery next weekend (or at the very least land a really good job this week). That’s about the only thing that can make up for the horrible weekend I had. So to recap, lessons learned for this weekend: 1. always always get everything in writing, even if it seems silly and trivial. 2. people that seem nice, even if they give you cookies for Christmas, might be really nasty jerks. and 3. my dad is great (and plays a mean saxaphone)

P.S. I promise I’ll post a recipe tomorrow, I’m just a little to keyed up to do it today.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Shredded

Lunch: Shredded Beef Sandwiches and Chips
Dinner: Pulled Pork Tacos, Rice and Corn
Dessert: Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Bah! The grocery thieves strike again! There is no cheese left for tacos tonight… literally no cheese. They stole the last of it last night. Oh well, I don’t feel bad. I’m fairly sure the brothers will ferret out who these cheese weasels are and make them pay. Luckily the pulled pork turned out excellent, so it doesn’t really need cheese. I would be perfectly happy to sit there and eat it with tortillas… although if I were to serve it to guests, I would serve it with queso fresco, fresh cilantro, black beans and lime wedges, but that’s just me. Mmmm… sounds good. Apparently it smelled really good, because the brothers kept coming down and commenting on how delicious it smelled. I love comments like that. I rewarded one of the boys with a bite of the pork (I was shredding it at the time).

I didn’t realize, but today was unintentionally shredded meat day. I made shredded beef sandwiches for lunch and there was shredded pork tacos for dinner. Oops! I generally try to keep things mixed up, but sometimes it’s all I can do just to keep from having chicken for lunch and for dinner. The shredded beef sandwiches I made for lunch were a bit of an experiment. I have seen other recipes for shredded beef, but I wanted something simple with a little kick. I really like how it turned out. They are excellent served on toasted buns with swiss or provolone cheese and the sauce on the side to dip it.


Shredded Beef Sandwiches
Serves 10

4-5 lb Beef Roast
4 cups Beef Broth
2 tsp oregano
1 tbs Hot Sauce (optional)
1 bay leaf
Salt and Pepper

Salt and Pepper the roast and put it in the crockpot. Mix together the beef broth, oregano, hot sauce and bay leaf and pour over the roast. Cover and cook on high for 6 hours. Remove the roast and siphon as much fat as possible from the liquid *. Shred the beef with two forks.

* If you’re making this ahead of time (like I did) leave the roast whole and put the roast and the liquid in the fridge. Then when you’re ready to warm it up, you can remove the hardened fat with a spoon and then shred the beef.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Twilight Zone

Lunch: Bacon Mac and Cheese and Pineapple Tidbits
Dinner: Swiss Steak with Peppers, Rice and Salad

Today feels a little like a Twilight Zone episode. I know it's supposed to be a Tuesday in late April, but I feel like it's a Saturday in late October, early November. Here's why:
1.I had to get groceries yesterday (something I generally do on Fridays)
2.Tyler had to work late last night (something he usually only does on Fridays)
3.It's chilly, windy and gray outside like it would be in late October/ early November
4.We moved into a creepy house and I'm already planning on how to decorate it for Halloween

Of course, it also feels a bit like the 4th of July should be next week because for the last several years, we've moved at the end of June and last year we had a 4th of July party (our old back yard was a prime fireworks shooting space). Well, we just moved and are talking about having a party in a few weeks. My family let me know that a party was pretty much mandatory. My family does not mess around when it comes to parties and any event that might need celebrating is generally celebrated. Oh, and Tyler and I (the designated party throwers of our group of friends) haven't had a party in a while.

Steak with Peppers
20 servings

24 Round Steaks, ½ inch thick
1 can (6lb 6oz) Crushed Tomatoes
6 Green Bell Peppers, sliced into thin strips
2 Onions, sliced into thin strips
¼ cup Worcestershire Sauce
4 cups Beef Broth
2 tbs Ground Black Pepper
8 cloves Garlic, minced

Mix together the Worcestershire sauce, crushed tomatoes, beef broth, ground black pepper, and minced garlic. Put round steaks, pepper and onions in crock pot; pour tomato mixture over steak and peppers. Cook over high heat for 6 hours or low heat for 8 hours. Serve over rice or mashed potatoes.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Our House is a Very Very Odd House

Dear friends and readers, I’m blogging today beacause: a. I probably won’t be able to blog tomorrow (more on that later) b. my husband and his friends are blowing each other up in our living room and it’s loud and rather boring for those not blowing each other up and c. I decided to give myself a day off from packing/ unpacking/ moving/ cleaning and enjoy the lovely day.

So the reason I won’t be blogging tomorrow (most likely, unless something crazy happens, of which there is a strong likelihood) is that I have to get groceries, all of the groceries. I was all set and ready to get groceries Friday, but they neglected to mention the frat house would be “closing” at 10am Friday for initiation of the pledges this weekend. I’m not sure what secret things they needed to do between 11am and 2pm on a Friday afternoon and what it had to do with the kitchen but I didn’t want to ask. (It’s supposed to be secret, right? It’s not like they’d tell me even if I did ask.) Well, I wasn’t particularly happy about having to get groceries Monday because that always makes Monday’s extra stressful. Grocery shopping can take awhile and I’m rarely back before 2 let alone have the groceries unloaded and ready to cook. Grrr..

In other news, I decided to take today off. I’m tired and have been packing/ unpacking/ cleaning/ moving nonstop for some time now. Today will be the first day in a while that I’ve just relaxed. I thought it might be fun to show you some of the oddities we found in our new house. DISCLAIMER: We are still in the process of moving in, so please do not judge any stacks of boxes, undecorated walls, etc. Also, I am not exactly design inclined when it comes to interior decorating (nor do I have the budget to be) so please… don’t judge.

This is our house… Hi House! (I told it was rather homely on the outside)



This is our mail box… please note the fact that there is no gate anywhere near the mail box. We have to walk all the way around the yard to get the mail. (Big Mail Fail!)



This is the cute porch light cover on our front porch. Please note: that is not our house number. Why is there a porch light cover with a house number that is not even close to ours, I do not know.



This is the seesaw. Would you like to come and play seesaw at our house? It’s a fun ride, you just have to have your tetanus shots up to date and sign a disclaimer.



This is the cat I found in the cupboard (looks remarkably like our cat George…)



This is the enormous dog rug I found in the guest bedroom.



This is the really weird, very stained old sink. I think it was put in before indoor plumbing was invented. Look at the faucet… it’s off center and does not belong with this sink and there are no holes for another faucet.



And here’s our tiny little bathroom. Why yes, that is a window in the shower. Very convenient when you want to flash the neighbors from the privacy of your own home.



These are some of the weird gang signs drawn in the guest bedroom closet. Awesome.



This is the doorframe for that closet. Please notice that someone tried to screw/nail it shut several times. Apparently they didn’t want anyone to know about the gang signs in the closet.



These are the very creepy stairs up to our very creepy attic. Please note the really creepy lace curtains hanging in the middle of the room for no apparent reason other than to be really creepy.



And finally this is a picture of our creepy attic with the really creepy children’s rocking chair and various things. With the wall decor and the multitude of toys including some scary old dolls (not pictured) we have reason to believe this may have, at one time, been a children’s play area. The question is, who would do that to their child?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Help! Lasagna Has Taken Over My Kitchen

Lunch: Ham and Turkey Sub Sandwiches, Chips and Carrot Sticks
Dinner: Beef Lasagna, Salad, and Garlic Toast
Dessert: Chocolate Cake w/ Vanilla Frosting and Yellow Cake w/ Chocolate Frosting

Ok… so this will be a short post today. I’m dead beat. Tired is making and frosting 6 cakes. Really tired is making homemade lasagna and cake. Dead exhausted is making 6 cakes and over 60 pounds of homemade lasagna. Yup, that’s right, over 60 pounds. Just getting out the ingredients is enough to make you tired. So what does 60 lbs of lasagna look like? I wish I had brought my camera… it was an awesome sight. The lasagna was in 4 deep pans that were a little larger than 12 x 24 and each weighed over 15 pounds. So what goes into 60 pounds of lasagna? Here’s a clue:

15 pounds of Hamburger Meat
8 pounds Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
8 pounds Ricotta Cheese
13 pounds Prepared Spaghetti Sauce
6 ½ pounds Crushed Tomatoes
6 ½ pounds Tomato Sauce
5 pounds Lasagna Noodles

That doesn’t include the eggs, the seasonings, the onions, the tomato paste, the garlic etc etc.

All that and 6, yes count them 6 cakes. I made 3 chocolate and 3 yellow cakes. My arms are tired from stirring. I burnt my fingers and my back hurts from lifting the pot of boiling noodles. All this was after making lunch and while making salad and garlic toast… for 40. All that and one of the frat boys walked in and had the nerve to say, “I hope that lasagna is good” as if there was any question that it wouldn’t be good. I asked if he liked my spaghetti… he said he couldn’t remember my making spaghetti. Oy! Seriously? I probably make spaghetti or at the very least spaghetti sauce at least once every other week. Sometimes I don’t know why I exert myself. Perhaps I should have made something easy. Something where I wouldn’t burn my fingers and strain my back. Something that would at least leave me time enough to eat lunch and dink around on the internet for a couple hours.

But you have to admit, 60 pounds of lasagna is a pretty awesome feat. Do you think I can put that on my resume under a list of accomplishments?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Hooray Home Depot Guy!

Lunch: Turkey Nachos (boy I’m sneaky, I didn’t tell them it was turkey)
Dinner: Italian Chicken and Sausage Soup

Oy, it has been a hectic week already! Is this week over yet? Cooking for 40+ requires soo much more work. It also makes it more difficult in that I only have 1 oven. There is only so much space which means that things have to be cooked in stages, and it is likely that something is going to cool down or dry out. The lovely roasts I made last night ended up a little dry because I had to make them hours in advance in order to make the roasted potatoes. I should have made gravy, but I didn’t think about it. Today I made my Italian chicken and sausage soup for the guys and Tyler was completely jealous. He loves Italian chicken and sausage soup. The problem is our stove is currently non operative. Mom and dad graciously donated their stove to us because the one that came with our rental house was old and icky. The landlord was also kind enough to run in a gas line for us. The problem is getting it all connected. We went out to get a new gas line (as you’re supposed to do) but the connections didn’t match. The kit only has one male/male connector and we needed two. I went to every hardware store in town trying to find one that A. knew what I was talking about and B. had the piece. I really didn’t think this was rocket science. Here’s how the conversation went at Ace Hardware:
I brought in the kit with the piece I needed and showed it to a person in the department and said “I need another one of these”.
Ace Guy: “You need a male/female one?”
Me: “No, I need this exact one. Male/Male” I show it to him.
Ace Guy: “Hmmm… well let’s see what we can put together for you”
He then tried to put together some sort of contraption with all sorts of expensive connectors, and it still wasn’t what I was looking for.
Ace Guy: “Well, you know, I think you should have everything you need in that kit. You shouldn’t need another one”
Argh!
Then I went back to Home Depot. The first time I was there I couldn’t find a person to talk to. Then Tyler went. Then I went back again. You see they have only one type of connector for gas lines. Unfortunately, it’s the wrong size. Why would you have a gas connector that doesn’t fit the lines you sell? It makes no sense. Well, the final time I went I found a gentleman in the plumbing area. He helped me look for a minute, and then he pulled down one of the kits, “You just need this part right here, right?”
Me: “Yes!”
Home depot guy then ripped open the package, took out the part and handed it to us. He said we could look at every hardware store in Atlanta and we probably weren’t going to find it and he wasn’t going to make us buy a whole new kit for a $2 connector. So, I would just like to say, in a public forum, thank you home depot guy you restored my faith in humanity. It’s good to know not everyone out there is a soulless boob like the people at ATT&T (more on that tomorrow, the anger is still too fresh).

The moral of the story is, we currently have a non operative stove and I don’t like eating fast food. We’re definitely putting the old crock pot to good use. Tomorrow I’m going to try making Italian chicken soup in the crock pot for Tyler. I’ll have to let you know how that turns out. Last night we made mock beef burgundy. I generally hate any sort of recipe that has mock in the title… so we’re going to christen this recipe “Faux Beef Burgundy”. Faux sounds so much better than mock. Someday I’ll tell you about Mock Yummy Good Surprise. This recipe is great if you just want to throw stuff in a pot and forget about it. That’s all you do; you dump the ingredients together and forget about it until you get home and smell the wonderfulness. It is excellent served over egg noodles or mashed potatoes (while they are nowhere near as good as real mashed potatoes, if you use the Oreida steam and mash variety you can get dinner on the table 10 minutes after you get home.)

Faux Beef Burgandy
Serves 6

1 ½ lbs Beef Stew Meat
1 can Beef Consommé
1 can Condensed Cream of Golden Mushroom Soup
1 packet Onion Soup Mix
1 soup can worth of Dry Red Wine
1 jar Button Mushrooms, drained

Put stew meat and mushrooms in crock pot. Mix together the onion soup mix, the beef consommé, the golden mushroom soup and the dry red wine; pour over beef and mushrooms. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

Monday, April 19, 2010

I'm Sorry

Lunch: BLT’s and Chips
Dinner: Chili and Cornbread

I would like to apologize in advance if I end up being spotty on the posts this week. If you want to hear the excuses, here they are: We’re in the middle of moving… still, so my nights are a little tied up. This week is initiation week at the frat house which means I have to cook for all the pledges and brothers… we’re talking double what I normally fix… so I might be a little busier than normal. I do promise to try and post this week. I certainly have plenty to say. But, I guess you already knew that. Hmm… perhaps I should apologize for that as well. Well… I’m sorry I’m such an opinionated loudmouth, but then again, if I weren’t, I probably wouldn’t be a blogger so… I guess it all works out. I would also like to apologize for my blatant over use of ellipses; I do love them so.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I would like to say that I hate moving. I really really really hate moving, and when I win the lottery, I’m not going move anything ever again. I’m even going to get a special assistant just to bring the groceries into the house. So… here’s hoping that I win the lottery tomorrow or Wednesday ($143 million and $252 million respectively). I’ll let you know if I do because then I can afford to start having giveaways here… (ellipse!)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Yesterday, or How I Lost My Butt

Lunch: Cheesy Pigs in a Blanket and Chips
Dinner: Hungarian Goulash, Egg Noodles and Mixed Veggies

The last 24 hours have been very hectic. After I left work yesterday afternoon, I got a call from my landlord. You see, I’ve been trying to get in touch with my landlord for the past 2 weeks to try and tell him that we were planning on moving out. But he never called me back… We found out from our neighbors that he was in the hospital, but is out now and is all better. Well, the neighbors told him yesterday that we were planning to move apparently because I got a call from him. I’ve come to believe you have to be a strange sort of person to be a landlord. All the landlords I’ve ever had have been strange. The current and the new one are no exceptions. Anyway, the landlord informed me that he had someone interested in buying the house, but they wanted to do it before the end of the month (homebuyer credit) and so they needed to come look at the house tomorrow (as in today, Wednesday). What! EEEK! Let me tell you a little secret about myself, I’m messy. Now let me tell you a little secret about my husband, he’s messy. We’re both messy, disorganized people (except for when I’m at work, strangely I can keep a million things straight and my desk neat at work… when I come home, well that’s another story). To make matters worse, we haven’t really been home to clean. And if all that weren’t bad enough, we’re in the middle of trying to pack all of our belongings. Last time we moved, I was out of work and had time to keep the house clean and organize and pack things neatly. This time, we’re both working and just sort of packing and hauling as we go with no sense of organization. Our house looked something like a war zone, complete with orange Georgia clay foot prints all over the carpet from our dog. A note on Georgia clay and white carpets: they don’t mix, thank God our new house has wood floors! When he told me they had to see it today, I could have cried. Instead, I called Tyler and we spent the next 5 hours working our butts off. The house is immaculate. I rented a carpet cleaner and steamed the Georgia clay out of the carpets. We threw all of the messy disorganization that was our closets into boxes; heaven help us when it comes to unpacking time. The downside is, I’m fairly sure I have no butt now because it sure is sore when I sit down. The upside is, now we won’t have to worry about cleaning after we move… we’ve done most of the work already.

Because we were up so late cleaning last night, I decided to sleep in an extra hour and drive to work rather than take the bus. Boy am I glad I did, the bus I normally take was sitting broken down on the side of the road. Hooray for avoiding bus drama by sleeping in!

When I got to work this morning, the kitchen smelled like gas. In fact, the whole basement smelled like gas. It was time to get drastic. I e-mail/ texted all of the top dogs and let them know that either the stove needed to be fixed by 2pm or I was going home and staying there until the stove was fixed. Well, apparently they had a technician out last night to fix it. He said the lines were clogged and needed to be cleaned and the pilot lights were out. Well, he cleaned the lines and all, but did not relight the pilot lights for the broiler… so the kitchen filled with gas. Luckily, no one exploded. We shut off the gas to the broiler because the broiler is nasty and broken and it makes no sense for those pilot lights to be on.

Now dinner is almost done, I’m just waiting on the egg noodles to finish. Tonight I’m making Hungarian goulash for the guys. I love goulash. I especially love goulash from the Bohemian Café in Omaha. I decided that goulash would be perfect for the guys because it’s meat slow simmered in a tomato based sauce served over noodles. It’s very man foodish. It does require one special and sometime hard to find ingredient: Hungarian style paprika. It is important that you don’t use just any old paprika. Hungarian style paprika is different, it’s sweeter and less bitter. It isn’t that expensive, it just may be difficult to find at a small grocery store.

Hungarian Goulash
serves 25

10 lbs Beef Stew Meat
12 medium Carrots, roughly chopped
4 medium Onions, cut into thin strips
1 head of Garlic, minced
7 cans Tomato Paste
3 cans Tomato Sauce
½ cup Hungarian Paprika (sweet, not hot)
1 tbs Salt
1 tbs Carraway Seed
1 ½ tbs Pepper
6 Bay Leaves
12 Green Bell Peppers, cut into thin strips
Vegetable oil

Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet. Brown beef on all sides. Drain and add beef and remaining ingredients except for the green bell pepper into a crock pot. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Turn the crock pot to high and add peppers; cook for 30 minutes. Serve over egg noodles.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

CHEF SMASH!

Lunch: Sloppy Joes, Chips, Carrots and Dip
Dinner: Pork Chops with Stuffing and Salad

Argh! I am so frustrated right now! The stove is still broken… they told me they were getting it fixed today. Well as of my writing this post (at 4pm) no one has been here to fix it. I had to try to make sloppy joes on it and it nearly took my eyebrows off. Luckily I had just finished the sloppy joes, but as I was about to turn off the stove, the gas flared and I was very glad I was wearing my headscarf… I am not happy! To make matters worse, the guys are stealing again. They ate the pepperoni that was to be for Thursday’s French bread pizza. Well… they’ve angered the chef! I will not be replacing the pepperoni. They can just have cheese pizzas. And if the stove isn’t fixed tomorrow, they won’t be having anything. I like having hair and eyebrows and not having 3rd degree burns on my face and/or hands.

Today’s recipe is for yellow rice. It’s also called saffron rice, but, as saffron is the world’s most expensive spice, we’re not using saffron and so I call it yellow rice. I like yellow rice; it’s very aromatic but has a mild flavor.

Yellow Rice
Serves 25

9 cups of Long Grain Rice
1 ½ tbs Tumeric
1 ½ tbs Cumin
½ tsp Cinnamon
½ tsp Ground Cayenne Pepper
10 cups Chicken Broth
8 cups Water

In a small nonstick skillet over medium heat, stir together spices. Continue stirring until spices become aromatic, approximately 1 minute. Remove spices from heat. Add spices, rice, chicken broth and water to a large pot with a lid. Heat over high heat until boiling, then cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until rice is done.

Monday, April 12, 2010

KaBoom!

Lunch: Hot Ham and Cheese Sandwiches, Chips and Pineapple Tidbits
Dinner: Jerked Chicken, Yellow Rice and Veggies

Disaster is temporarily averted. I did not blow up. You may feel free to breathe out a sigh of relief now. In case you’re wondering what I’m talking about, there could have very nearly been a disaster today. I was working in the kitchen as usual (read: dinking around on the internet) when I started to get a terrible headache. I went outside for a little air, and upon returning, noticed the kitchen smelled like gas. I checked all of the knobs on the stove to be sure they were in the proper off position; they were. I asked a passing frat boy if he thought the kitchens smelled like gas, and he confirmed it. I had to get in touch with the higher ups and let them know. They came down and started sniffing around, determined it was one of the stove burners leaking and then shut off the main gas line. Ok… well that makes it hard to cook. So I waited awhile for them to get in contact with someone… then the time for me to start cooking came and went. By the time 3 o’clock rolled around, I was beginning to wonder if I shouldn’t just go home. I called the president of the fraternity to determine what was being done. He said they weren’t going to be able to get anyone out there until tomorrow. So, he lit the offending burner and turned it on low. Eeft! I was terrified the whole thing would blow. I let them know that in no uncertain terms would I cook like that again tomorrow. They had to get it fixed, pronto. It’s just too dangerous otherwise. The kitchen is poorly ventilated. What would have happened if I hadn’t discovered it till tomorrow and then went to light the stove…? I say again, eeft!

I really must apologize for my spotty posting of late. I’m in the middle of trying to get our house cleaned, packed and moved. So unless I can get my post done on the bus, then I’m not going to get a post out that night. It isn’t always possible to get a post done on the bus either. Frequently, I’ll have large seat mates who take up more than their own seat so I can’t put my computer on my lap, or the person in front of me will lean their seat back so far they’re practically in my lap (the commuter buses are like greyhound buses). Once, I even had a seat mate that kept falling asleep on me.

If I ever do find a real job (like Pinocchio, he wanted to be a real boy… well, I want to have a real job), I think I know what I’m going to re-name my blog… “Cooking by the Seat of Your Pants” Do you like it? I think it’s a rather apt description of my cooking style. I have a tendency to just throw myself into it and see how it goes. I never follow recipes exactly. I might research different recipes, trying to find one that describes what I’m trying to achieve or to give me ideas on the general method or cook times, but I always end up changing it as I’m going. I frequently, especially at home, just dive into my cupboards to see what will go with what. Although, I’ve become rather accustomed to doing that at work too when the guys thieve my ingredients and I have to make on the fly substitutions. This week I decided to make jerk chicken for the guys. I had a couple jars of jerk seasoning blend leftover from a previous recipe and decided that I would just get some chicken and figure something out. Well, it wouldn’t work just to sprinkle the seasoning on the thighs and legs I got. The skin would be tasty, but the meat would be bland. Well… I served pineapple for lunch, and I always pour the juice off canned pineapple and save it. (I love the juice from a can of pineapple, my siblings and I used to fight over who got to drink the juice when we had canned pineapple at home). But there was only about 3 cups of pineapple juice… not really enough, I needed something else… To the fridge! Hmm… Leftover orange juice from Friday’s lunch? Ok! Mayo… no Mustard…. no… Pickles, probably not. Ah ha! Soy sauce. Pineapple juice and soy sauce make a great base for teriyaki marinade. Asian food has a lot of the same blending of sweet and hot that Jamaican cuisine is known for. We’ll use that! Voila, add in the orange juice and jerk seasoning and you have a respectable marinade. Maybe not authentic, but we’re not necessarily going for authentic; we’re going for tasty. The minute I blended it together I knew we had a winner. And that my friends is a brief glimpse into how I cook.

What was in the Fridge Jerk Chicken
serves 24

48 Chicken Legs and/or Thighs
3 cups Pineapple Juice
3 cups Orange Juice
1/3 cup Soy Sauce
2 bottles Jerk Seasoning Blend

Blend the orange juice, pineapple juice, soy sauce and jerk seasoning together. Pour over chicken legs and thighs. Cover and marinate at least 4 hours or overnight (overnight is better).

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a shallow oven proof casserole or roasting pan. Place chicken, skin side up in casserole; discard marinade. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until internal temperature reads 165 degrees. Skin may blacken a little.

(You can use a homemade jerk seasoning blend, there are plenty of recipes out there. Use about 1/3 to ½ cup or seasoning blend for this recipe)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Countdown

Lunch: Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup
Dinner: Pot Roast, Roasted Potatoes and Veggies

So the count down begins for both the end of the semester and for Tyler and I to move. I hate moving; I hate packing; I hate unpacking. Since I started college (way back in 2003), I’ve moved at least once a year. I really hate it. However, we’re renters. With every house we’ve rented there’s always a catch, something that we’ve disliked. Something we’re sure we’ll find an improvement upon in the next house. When you’re a renter, you can’t improve a house, not in any real sense. If you have leaky windows and doors, you’re not going to make an investment in fixing them. If you need a fenced-in yard and you don’t have one, you’re not going try to put one up. And if your living room is oddly shaped and only has 1 power outlet which is nowhere near the cable outlet, you’re definitely not going to rewire the house (a. we don’t know how b. we’re not going to pay someone to do it). Then there’s always the idea that there’s something better, something cheaper out there. Towards the end of your lease you start to wonder if the perfect house (for the perfect price, at the perfect location) isn’t out there and you’re just about to miss it. Well, our new house is far from perfect. In fact, on the outside it’s downright ugly and the kitchen and bathroom are ugly too. However, it’s nearly $300 cheaper and it’s in town (not 20 minutes outside of town in the sticks like our current house). It also has a fenced in yard, a ton of storage space, pretty wood floors, and nicely sized rooms. Did I mention that’s it’s nearly $300 cheaper and not out in the boonies? We’re also fairly sure it’s haunted. It looks like it should be haunted. The attic stairs are narrow, dark and super creepy and when we first looked at the house there was a creepy, broken child’s rocking chair in the attic. I love it. I love creepy old houses. I tried to get Tyler to talk the people from the Gaithers Plantation (which is down the road from where we currently live) to let us stay there overnight. Tyler was out there covering a story about it for the newspaper for Halloween (my birthday). It’s supposed to be really haunted. He didn’t ask; I think he was afraid.

The other major news is, it’s nearly the end of the semester, which means I’m nearly out of a job. The guys don’t keep a cook for the summer (which is silly as there are still plenty of guys living there). So during all of my down time at work I’ve been sending out my resume and researching job opportunities. Any one want to hire me? I’m a hard worker and have an excellent office/ administrative background. I’ll bring you cookies… Please? Applying for jobs is so stressful and somewhat disheartening. You see a job you want to apply for. You spend a good amount of time tweaking your resume and cover letter so it’s just perfect. You try to make it say all those things that are simply impossible to convey on paper, but that are key to getting the position: that you’re a motivated, hard worker, that you’re organized and good at time management, that you’re professional and courteous, that you’re smart and a quick learner, that just because you’ve never worked in that specific industry or with that specific computer program doesn’t mean you won’t be able to understand and get it right away, that you are absolutely sure that within mere weeks of being hired, you will become an indispensable, integral part of their team, and you’ll bake them cookies. Then you send it out like a little bird from the nest, and wait for a response to come flying back to you. But… it doesn’t. You begin to wonder, “Did they get it? Is it lost out there somewhere in cyberspace? Is it sitting at the bottom of thousands of other resumes, never to see the light of day? Did they use it to spit their gum into or to wipe up some spilled coffee?”. The waiting is terrible, and 99.9% of the time, you won’t hear a word from them. The first week, you’re excited about all the opportunities and are optomistic. By the third week, you’re despondent. I know you’re not supposed to take it personally, but it’s terribly hard not to. Couldn’t they at least send out a quick form e-mail letting us poor applicants know that they’ve actually received our resume and when to give up hope (as in, thanks, but no thanks). After almost 2 years of job hunting (off and on), I’m not sure which is worse, rejection by simply not ever saying anything or straight out rejection (we’ve met you and we’re not interested). No, maybe the worst is, “Thanks, but you’re over qualified”. Umm… but my bills aren’t. Meh.

Sorry to be so “dark”, but I hate job hunting. It makes me grumpy. So does crashing into a MARTA bus, as the bus I’m currently riding on nearly did. I also don’t like when recipes don’t turn out. Ok, it isn’t so much that the recipe didn’t turn out as the meat I purchased was really gristly. The recipe actually worked rather well (and is ridiculously simple). There were even a few boys who came poking their noses around wondering what the wonderful smell was. So, it smelled good and tasted good… the meat was just gristly. So, here is a wonderful recipe for super simple pot roast try not to use gristly meat. I’m giving you this recipe per roast… it’s just easier that way. Just multiply it by the number of roasts you’re going to make.

Super Simple Pot Roast
Serves 6

3 lbs Boneless Beef Roast (I used chuck roast)
2 packets Onion Soup Mix
¾ cup Water
¾ cup Ketchup

Preheat oven to 275. Mix ketchup, onion soup mix and water together. Place roast in a deep oven proof pan. Pour ketchup mixture over roast and cover tightly with foil. Bake for 3-4 hours or until roast is tender. You can serve the sauce from the bottom of the pan on top of the roast.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Mehh

Lunch: Corn Dogs, Chips and Carrot Sticks
Dinner: Hamburgers, Corn and Macaroni Salad

Blech… I’m miserably sick right now. I’m not sure if it’s allergies or a really nasty cold. But whatever it is trying to make my face explode and there is a solid layer of snot between me and rational thought. Seriously my head is so stuffed and fuzzy that when people talk to me all I hear is “mwah wah wah wah” like in the Peanuts (you know, when the adults talked…). The cold medicine hasn’t helped either. Pseudophed makes me feel all jittery while the others make me feel languid. Mostly I just want to sleep and eat carrot sticks (I seem to have lost my appetite for anything other than carrot sticks today). Hmm.. fuzzy head, twitchy and likes carrots, I think I’m turning into a rabbit.

It’s a good thing I had already planned easy meals for today. Complexity is really beyond me today. In honor of the summer-like weather we’re having today, I’m serving some very summery dishes. I even thought briefly about making the hamburgers on the grill, but I realized that was a silly idea. I don’t want to stand outside in the nearly 90 degree weather in direct sunlight battling with a cantankerous old grill. So I’m doing the burgers on the griddle, but hey, that’s how most fast food places cook’em. It’s not like I’m making fancy hamburgers or anything, they’re just the cheap frozen hamburger patties… Eh, that means the guys get 2... They’re gourmands… quantity over quality right?

The macaroni salad I’m making is a family favorite. It is as synonymous with summer for my family as swimming pools or sunburns. It is an excellent accompaniment to any sort of grilled item, bbq chicken, hamburgers, ribs.. you name it. Best of all, it’s very simple to make. It only has 6 ingredients, and is best when made ahead of time and refrigerated over night or at least a couple of hours. One word of warning, the recipe calls for Miracle Whip and there can be no substitute. Do not try to use mayonnaise or the store brand of “dressing”, I promise you it will not turn out.

Mom’s Macaroni Salad
Serves 25

4 lbs Macaroni Noodles, cooked, drained and cooled
4 cups Miracle Whip
2 cups White Vinegar
1 cup Sugar
4 cups Cucumber, peeled and chopped
2 med Onions, finely chopped

Mix Miracle Whip, vinegar and sugar with a whisk until smooth. Pour over macaroni noodles and stir. Mix in onion and cucumber and cover. Refrigerate overnight or at least a few hours.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

How to Quit in Greek

Lunch: Cheesy Pigs-in-a-Blanket and Chips
Dinner: Chili and Cornbread
Dessert: Chocolate Chip and Walnut Cookies

Happy April Fool’s Day! I like pulling pranks on people. For Christmas one year, we gave my brother a 6 pack of beer. He was really confused until he saw that 2 of the beers were full of money. He wanted to know 2 things: how to get the money out of the bottles and what did I do with all the beer that was in the bottles. I just realized last night that today was April 1st, and was racking my brain to think of some great joke I could play on the boys. I mean, you would think the possibilities would be endless as a chef. I researched food related pranks online and the ones I found were either gross and enough to get me fired (ex-lax in anything is a bad idea) or too time-consuming and too expensive. Making what looks like and entire meal out of nothing but candy seems funny, but do you have any idea how long that would take? Painstakingly hand rolling green beans out of Now and Laters… for 20 people? No thanks. I even called my grandpa, the king of all pranksters, and he couldn’t think of anything on the spot. He did have a funny story about a farting stuffed gorilla. (My grandpa has a thing for monkeys and for fart machines).

I love the French tradition for April fool’s day. The call it poisson d’Avril, or April fish. You take paper fish and tape them to other people’s backs so they don’t notice. Then they go around all day looking like a fool with a paper fish taped to their back. I am extraordinarily good at taping things to people’s backs without them realizing. In high school we went to a French immersion retreat that just happened to fall over April fool’s day weekend. Needless to say our rag tag group of Francophiles fished the heck out of the other schools. Enough so that the other schools present ganged up and tried to get us back. We were wise to their ways… Hee hee hee. It still gives me a chuckle.

Anyway, the question still came down to what to do to the guys… I couldn’t find a remote controlled fart machine like my mom suggested. So I decided to put out a tray of dog kibble complete with a decoration of dog biscuits. As the lunch trays are generally covered, the guys wouldn’t know anything was amiss until they got their plate, filled it with chips and such and then lifted the lid for the main dish…. and it was dog food. I had the real food in the kitchen. The first frat boy down was very astute and started laughing and came into the kitchen wanting to know where I hid the real food. The second guy was clearly not awake (he was still in his bath robe) he opened the lid, stuck the spoon in the kibble, and then set his plate down to go fill his cup with ice. He walked back out and just looked at the dog food. It was about that time that I popped out and said “Happy April Fool’s Day!”. I let him know the real food was in the kitchen. I don’t think he quite got it. Some of the guys were confused (and thereby fooled), but most of the guys caught on pretty quick and thought it was funny. But the best response was from a couple of the guys who thought I was seriously putting out dog food either because I was ticked off and decided to get back at them or that I was fed up with all the crap they’d given me and quit in grand fashion by feeding them dog food. Seriously? Who would quit that way? Well, at least I know in the future that a tray of dog food equals two week’s notice in Greek (get it?).

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sorry I'm a Lazy Butt

Lunch: Bacon Mac and Cheese and Canned Pineapple
Dinner: Russian Chicken, Buttered Noodles and Green Beans

Ok, so I’ve been very bad of late and haven‘t posted for a while… But in my defense it was spring break. Can you forgive me?

No? Oh well, can’t please everybody.

The weather is lovely again and everything is in bloom which means that I’m getting no sleep at night because both my hubby and my dog have allergies which cause them to snore. Yes, that’s right. My dog has seasonal allergies; we give him benedryl. We give him lots of benedryl. He gets 4 wrapped up in a piece of cheese every night (so he won’t spit them out). I feel bad drugging him like that, afterall, 2 knock me out for the night and I’m groggy the next day. I guess it’s just further proof that my dog is, in reality, a horse. Too bad you can’t put breath-right strips on a dog…

The warm weather is bringing more than just sneezing fits… it brings out the exhibitionist frat boys. On the way to the bus yesterday I saw a shirtless frat boy. Ok, I saw lots of shirtless frat boys, but this one caught my eye because he was swinging a large sledge hammer. (In case you’re wondering, no he was not a part of the frat I cook for, thank goodness). Swinging a large sledge hammer, shirtless, in your front yard is strange enough, but even stranger… he was using it to beat the poo out of a large tire. He would swing the hammer, the tire would bounce and then he’d hit it again with the hammer. Over and over. I’m not entirely sure what his motivation was. Perhaps the tire angered him? I mean, despite the fact that he was clearly swinging that hammer with all his might, it didn’t do anything to the tire. The tire just bounced a little and remained intact and unharmed. There were also several of his brothers sitting out in the yard watching him. Maybe he lost a bet… The strangeness of frat boys will never cease to amaze me.

I’m not making any new recipes this week for the guys, just a bunch of tried and true ones that you already have the recipes for. I decided that I couldn’t be bothered last week to research new recipes and come up with a whole new meal plan and grocery list. So I went with the easy stuff, what I knew worked. Call me lazy, but hey, it was spring break. So this week I’ll be giving you some of the recipes I tried out last week for Tyler and I. These will be more family-friendly sizes. The one I’m giving you today is a modification on a recipe I found in one of my cookbooks. The recipe was for lemon-thyme chicken, but I didn’t have any boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I had some boneless pork chops. I was originally going to make braised pork chops… but those took too long. The recipe definitely needed modification anyway. It called for too much lemon. You wouldn’t want a really lemony sauce for pork chops. so this sauce is lovely with just a hint of lemon. The best part… it’s low fat and it takes next to no time to make. Pair it with some brown rice or barley and a salad and voila a delicious, healthy dinner on your table in under 30 minutes. Just call me Rachel Ray (without the weird voice… and I never say yum-o or EVOO)

Skillet Pork Chops with Lemon Thyme Pan Sauce
serves 4

4 Boneless Loin Chops, ½ inch thick
3 tbs Flour
½ tsp Salt
¼ tsp Pepper
½ tsp Garlic Powder
A pinch of Cayenne Pepper (just a little kick)
2 tsp Olive Oil (EVOO… just kidding, you should cook with regular olive oil and save the “EVOO” for salads and dressings)
1 tbs Butter
½ tsp dried Thyme
1 cup Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1 tbs Lemon Juice

Combine flour, salt, pepper and garlic powder in a small dish. Remove 5 tsp of mixture and set aside. Coat both sides of the pork chops with the flour mixture. In a non-stick skillet, heat olive oil. Cook the pork chops in oil for 6-8 minutes on each side, turning once. Remove pork chops and cover.

In the same pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add thyme and the flour mixture that was set-aside. Stir it with a whisk to get rid of any lumps. Allow the flour mixture to cook for a minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add chicken broth and lemon juice, stirring constantly and scraping up browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring mixture to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes or until thickened. Serve over pork chops.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Tyler is soo Totally Lame

Proof that my hubby is totally lame: He apparently has a debilitating fear of landlords. He claims that talking to landlords on the phone gives him mini panic attacks and I’m better at it any way. At least those were his excuses as to why I should try to haggle with our new potential landlord to bring down the price of the rent he’s charging. This from a guy who works in journalism. I thought journalists were supposed to be good at talking to people and getting information and all that? Well, I argued that he’s “much better at cleaning our really messy bedroom” than I am and going into our really messy bedroom gives me mini panic attacks. So, he said he’d clean the bedroom if I talked to the landlord. Well I talked to him; I even got him to lower the rent by $50, and yet our bedroom remains dirty. I think I totally got gypped. Sorry, that might not be totally P.C., I think I got totally screwed. He didn’t even clean the bathroom this weekend and I helped him clean the living (both of which are his responsibilities). Hmm… perhaps the Playstation should have remained broken… Maybe I should pull a page out of my dad’s book and put it up until all his chores are done.

The first official day of spring was this past Saturday, and it was beautiful. It was sunny and blue skies all day long with a balmy 75 degrees. Today it was a not exactly balmy 48 degrees and gray and rainy. Bleh. It’s supposed to be beautiful again tomorrow though. With all this week off, I was really looking forward to taking the dog on long walk everyday. Instead I hid inside and flipped back and forth between Star Trek, The Next Generation and Anthony Bourdain. Woot. At least it was a perfect day to try out my new recipe. I have several recipes I’m looking to try this week and one of them was potato soup. I love rich creamy potato soup, but it’s so calorie laden… Well, I came up with this lighter version which is perfect for a damp rainy night. To make it real loaded baked potato soup (and a little healthier) I added some cooked, cut-up broccoli florets to mine as well as the cheese and bacon. But, it definitely stands well on it’s own and would be good paired with a salad. (No, Tyler didn’t eat any broccoli with his).

Loaded Baked Potato Soup
serves 4

3 lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and cubed
½ a large Onion, chopped
3 cloves Garlic, minced
3 cups Chicken Broth (approximate)
½ cup Fat Free Sour Cream
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to Taste
½ lb Turkey Bacon, cooked and crumbled
Shredded Cheddar Cheese, Chopped Chives, Cooked Broccoli Florets as Toppings

Heat a little olive oil over medium heat in the bottom of a large soup pot. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently until onions are soft and translucent. Add garlic and cook for another minute or 2. Turn the heat up to medium high and add in cubed potatoes. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add in just enough chicken broth to barely cover the potatoes and bring to a boil. Cover and lower the heat and allow to simmer until potatoes are fork tender, approximately 15-20 minutes.

Remove the pot from heat. Mash the cooked potatoes lightly with a potato masher. Remove approximately half of the potato chunks and set aside. Using a blender or an immersion blender, blend the remaining potato mixture until smooth, add back in the chunks. Stir in the sour cream. Serve hot with shredded cheese, crumbled bacon and your favorite toppings.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Busy Week

Sooo… I’m sorry it’s been a couple days since I’ve posted. It’s been a very busy couple days.

To start, the concert was excellent. Our seats were so-so but I can’t complain too much because they were free. Michael Franti was very entertaining and very energetic. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a grown man bounce for an hour straight. John Mayer is an excellent guitar player, but I don’t really understand why people find him all that attractive. He makes the strangest faces when singing; he looked like he was in pain. We wouldn’t have been able to tell what kind of faces he made from our seats, but they had an enormous screen behind him that would do close-ups on his face. All I can say is eeefft. There was also a teenage boy in front of us who was there with his mom. You’d think the kid was at a heavy metal concert instead of John Mayer. He was standing up and head-banging… to Heartbreak Warfare. Yeah… not normal. But all in all it was a very good night.

Tyler almost lost a very dear friend this week. It was touch and go for a while, but it appears his dearest friend has made a recovery and will pull through. This friend, of course, is his PS3. While in the middle of killing Nazi zombies, it just stopped. It gave a feeble hum and then blinked the yellow light of death. Tyler was frantic. He spent the better part of last week researching possible problems and solutions on the internet. The PS3 apparently has problems with overheating. When it overheats, it can cause the solder on the hard drive to melt and the hard drive to pull away from whatever it was connected to. Sony will fix the problem… for $150 plus shipping and handling. Oh and they will get it back to you within only 90 days. The thought of being without his friend for 90 days caused Tyler to do something drastic, he decided to try and fix it himself. There are, apparently, detailed videos on just how to do this on you tube. But, Tyler isn’t exactly handy… When something breaks he asks me to come and take a look at it (because I know anything about riding lawn mowers…). When I told my dad about Tyler’s plans, he offered to help. So Tyler and I headed up to mom and dad’s this weekend and they attempted to fix it. There was much sweating and stressing and talk of needing to imbibe to help with the nerves. I guess it was a very precise and delicate procedure requiring the removal of many screws. In the end, they fixed it and all seems to be back to normal. Tyler celebrated by having his friend come over with his PS3 and they set two TVs up in the living room so they could kill zombies together.

This coming week is spring break, and I am off for a week. While the thought of sleeping in and not having to deal with traffic is nice, I really hate not having anything constructive to do. Sure there are things I can do around the house, but it isn’t quite the same. I think it stems from all the time I spent unemployed after Tyler and I got married. It also doesn’t help that I’m waiting to hear about an application I put in. Keep your fingers crossed for me. As if waiting on an application weren’t enough, we’re also waiting to hear about this house we want to rent. As much as I hate packing and moving, I love changing stuff around and redecorating. I’m having daydreams about how I would position furniture and decorate. (I never said I was normal).

I do have a recipe for you. I’m going to do my best to keep recipes coming this week, mostly because there’s a whole bunch that I want to try while I’m at home and have time. I came up with this recipe because enchiladas are tasty and delicious but take waaay to much time to roll (esp. when you’re making them in bulk) and they just end up falling apart when you pull them out of the pan anyway. So I thought… why not make it in layers like a Mexican lasagna, and why not add frozen corn and black beans because you have some stray frozen corn and black beans. The result was a cheesy delicious and filing concoction that I will most definitely be making again, not just for the guys but at home as well. I would like to try it with chicken or perhaps some ground turkey.

Mexican Lasagna
Serves 25

7 lbs Ground Beef
3 cans Black Beans, drained and rinsed
3 ½ cups Frozen Corn
8-10 cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese
4 ½ cups Water
3 tbs Chili Powder
1 1/2 tbs Dried Oregano Leaves
1 tbs Ground Cumin
5 cans Diced Chilies
8 cloves Garlic, minced
120 oz Tomato Sauce
24-30 Corn Tortillas, 6 inches in diameter
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Brown ground beef and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat and season with salt and pepper; drain. Add frozen corn and black beans. Meanwhile in a large sauce pan, combine the tomato sauce, water, chili powder, cumin, diced chilies salt and pepper. Cover and heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Spoon a small amount of sauce in the bottom of 2 baking pans. Top with a layer of corn tortillas, overlapping slightly. Top tortillas with a layer of ground beef, another layer of sauce and a layer of cheese. Repeat. Top with a final layer of tortillas, sauce and the remaining cheese. Heat, uncovered for 20 minutes or until sauce is hot and bubbly and the cheese is melty and beginning to brown. Serve with sour cream.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Luck o' the Irish

Lunch: Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup
Dinner: Beef and Beef Irish Stew and Bread

After yesterday’s bread debacle, today has seemed like a breeze. Perhaps I have the luck of the Irish with me. (I did wear green, the fear of being pinched at the frat house was too great) I got here, made sandwiches and soup, threw together some stew and cut up the bread I got from Wal-mart this morning. So far there have been no major mishaps, snafus or concerns. Right now I’m just sitting around waiting for the stew to be done enough for me to leave it on warm for the next several hours. In fact I should be done and on the road by around 2:30. That’s a record for me. Of course, I don’t usually start dinner until 2 most days because I don’t want it to end up soggy or gross from sitting in a warming oven for 3 hours. But tonight’s dinner is stew and bread. I’m fairly sure it won’t hurt the stew (or the bread) to sit around for awhile.

I was planning on making cookies today if there was going to be time. While I do happen to have plenty of time, I find I’m rather short on eggs. Apparently the guys have gotten into the milk, the eggs and the mozzarella cheese. I guess they were hungry for omelets last night? I don’t really mind not having to make cookies (it gives me time to write this), but I know there are going to be some very disappointed guys this week. They get very up in arms over desserts. I have a feeling someone will be tarred, feathered and run out of town tonight when it’s discovered that there will be no cookies this week. I hope they take pictures.

Beef and Beer Irish Stew
Serves 25

12 lbs Stew Meat
15 Carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
8-10 lbs Potatoes, roughly chopped
2 med Onions, roughly chopped
24 oz Tomato Paste
8 cloves Garlic, Crushed
2 quarts Beef Stock
4 ½ cups Dark Beer (Guinness or Amber Bock)
1 tbs Thyme
Salt
Pepper
1 cup Flour
Vegetable Oil

Preheat oven to 300. On the stove, heat oil in a large dutch oven. Mix salt and pepper with flour and dust the stew meat. Brown the stew meat on all sides in the hot oil. You may need to do this in 2 batches. Remove meat and add onion, garlic and tomato paste. Sauté onions until tender, about 5 minutes. Add beer and scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Return the meat to the dutch oven and stir in the beef stock, potatoes and carrots. Cover tightly and bake for 2 to 3 hours or until meat is tender. Serve with rye bread (or soda bread, if you dare).

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Irish Soda Bread Fail

Lunch: Beef Nachos
Dinner: Brats, Baked Beans and Salad

Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day, and I’m excited. I don’t know why, I just love St. Patrick’s Day. I even spent one in Boston once, of course I was under age and it was cold so we just stayed in my friend’s dorm room and played drinking games (with legally obtained orange juice ;-) wink wink), but hey, I was in Boston on St. Patrick‘s Day. Tomorrow, I’ll be going to a John Mayer Concert. It’s been a while since I attended a “real” concert or at least one where I know who the band is and am familiar with most of their songs. I’d like to go to more concerts, but they’re so darned expensive. The only reason we’re even going to this one is because I humiliated myself on the radio to win free tickets (although, I do believe I had a hilarious Oprah impersonation if I do say so myself). Because the concert is so late (it doesn’t start until 8pm) I’ll be taking Thursday morning off. I’m a little nervous about how that is going to go down. I approved it through the steward and the VP, and told them I would have something they could just throw out and help themselves. But that’s the problem… the guys are, by nature, greedy little piggies sometimes. If you put something out where they have to help themselves the first few will load up on all the good stuff and by the time 12:30-1 comes around, there’s nothing left but the rejects. Because of this I have to be careful to set out either an enormous amount so much so that they can’t possibly eat it all (and then they do anyway) or I have to give them a very defined serving size. Well, I can’t exactly tell them they can have 2 slices of cheese and 4 slices of meat; I won’t be there and I’m not going to count meat slices. I can just see the first guy coming up to the counter and plopping an inch high stack of ham on his sandwich and walking off. Then later some poor hungry guy just getting out of classes goes to make a sandwich and finds that all that’s left is lettuce and tomato slices. I wonder if I portion out the meat in serving sizes between waxed paper like they do at Subway if that will work… hmmm…

Today I will be attempting to make Irish soda bread. I’m making it for tomorrow, but because I’m hoping to skip out early I’m going to attempt the bread today. Making bread is rather terrifying, and yeast just gives me the heebee jeebies (it looks like germs plus it’s alive and smells weird). Of course, Irish soda bread doesn’t require yeast, but I’m still afraid I’ll end up with hard flat disks full of raisins. I’ve never had Irish soda bread before, but it has raisins and caraway in it which seems like a very odd combination. However, I think the raisins will go nicely with the beef and Guinness stew I’m making. No, I’m not making corned beef and cabbage because a. corned beef is not actually Irish and I’m going for a little more authenticity b. corned beef is expensive and c. while I happen to love it, corned beef and cabbage is an acquired taste and I’m not sure the frat boys will appreciate it. Ok, so it’s really more reasons b and c, but corned beef isn’t an authentic Irish dish; it became popular with Irish immigrants in America because it was cheap (back then). Besides, the guys will probably be roaring drunk tomorrow and it’s all too easy to throw around pieces of potato corned beef. It’s much harder to throw stew, not that they won’t try.


*** Hours Later***

So… I won’t be serving Irish soda bread to the guys tomorrow. I made the mistake of following the recipe. I should have gone with my instinct. I made 4 loaves of bread that was both bland and way to caraway-ie at the same time. The recipe didn’t even call for salt. I knew that was a mistake. I’ve forgotten to put salt in bread before to rather nasty results, but I thought perhaps they left the salt out because of some it would have some negative effect on the bread… I should have known better. I also thought that 3 tablespoons of caraway for small loaves of bread seemed a little overkill. Sigh, all that work for nothing. Now I’m going to have to get something to replace the icky bread which means a grocery store stop in the morning. Meh, getting up early is totally lame, especially when I know I’m going to be up way past my bedtime tomorrow night. Woe is me! (ok… that may have been a little melodramatic). So, I was planning on giving you the recipe for Irish Soda Bread, but I really don’t think you want it. Perhaps you know a better one or can find a better one out there and can share it with me. Eh, every chef has those little fail moments, even me.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Cheese Incident, Part Deux

Lunch: Corn Dogs, Tater Tots and Fresh Veggies
Dinner: Chicken Stir Fry and Rice

So, did you all survive the time change? I did, but just barely. I remembered to set my alarm clock forward an hour and then promptly forgot to set the alarm. So I woke up this morning to the cat licking me (weird in and of itself because the cat never licks) only to find that if I hurried, I would still miss the bus and had just enough time to drive to work. Bah humbug! Oh well, I suppose it isn’t all bad as now I can go check out the new Goodwill by my sister’s. I’m a Goodwill junkie. I love shopping there especially when it’s in the swanky part of town because then I’m more likely to find good books. George (the cat) deserves a treat though, he’s saved me from many a morning disaster by waking me up. Good Mr. Kitty! Although, he frequently is guilty of aiding and abetting my lateness by being cute and cuddly in the mornings. Bad Mr. Kitty! (I honestly think he does it on purpose. He snuggles up close and purrs just at the moment when I know I can’t hit the snooze anymore and have to get up. How does he know?)

So… the cheese incident has come (hopefully) to a close. I received a letter of apology from each of the two perpetrators. I honestly wasn’t expecting such a courtesy. It ticked me off a bit when I found it mostly because I don’t like to be accused of mishandling the funds when I’m working so hard to be frugal and still create an appealing and diverse menu. After blowing off a little steam, I realized it was actually really funny. Who, other than a crunchy granola vegan, honestly complains about too much cheese? If I ever decide to do stand up comedy, you can bet this will be a part of my act. Perhaps I should thank them for being such a wonderful target of interest and ridicule for my blog (and imaginary future comedy career). I do like that the steward actually did something. It seems kind of novel to have someone effectual who is on your side (and not talking smack behind your back). Good Mr. Steward! It certainly does make my job here a little brighter.

Speaking of a little brighter, do you think I’m too dark? My dad (who has already let me know I will be receiving no letter of apology for this) thinks this blog is too dark. I’m not entirely sure what he means by this. I tried to get him to explain what he means by “dark” but he really couldn’t. Ok, sure I do have a rather sarcastic sense of humor, I’ll admit to that. (But, where could I have gotten that from DAD? Cough cough mumble mumble mumble) I’m not advocating the clubbing of baby seals nor am I (at least I think I’m not) woe-is-me-everything-is-horrible emo. I don’t do bright and bubbly. But, just a week ago he was posting on Facebook how funny he thought this blog is. Perhaps he’s just getting senile in his old age… (How’s that for dark?)

Here’s my latest whiteboard creation…



Thought you might like to know.

The following recipe is one I whipped up for an impromptu St. Patrick’s Day family get-together this past Saturday. I wanted to make something sugar free that was still tasty and St. Patrick’s Day themed as well as being relatively quick and easy to whip up. Not a small order. So, this is what I came up with. Sure, there are more sophisticated desserts out there, but this fit the what I was going for, and turned out tasty. (Although I did have to make a minor change from the one I actually made. Apparently, sugar-free cool whip doesn’t like to be mixed with Bailey’s).

Irish Cream Chocolate Trifle
serves 8

Sugar Free Angel Food Cake
1 small packet Sugar Free Instant Chocolate Pudding
4 cups Sugar Free Cool Whip, thawed
1/3 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream
1 ½ cup Skim Milk
Dark Chocolate Shavings or curls

Mix the pudding and the milk together and whip with a whisk for 2 minutes or until the pudding thickens. Fold in 1 cup of cool whip. Cut cake into thin slices. Dip half the slices into the Bailey’s so that the cake soaks up some of the liquid but doesn’t become too soggy. Arrange the slices on the bottom of a trifle bowl. Layer half of the chocolate pudding and half of the remaining whip cream over the cake. Repeat with remaining cake slices, pudding and whip cream. Top with dark chocolate shavings or curls. Cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.