Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My Heart Belongs to a Roni

A pepperoni roll, that is.  When my mother told me we were moving to Bridgeport, West Virginia in the 8th grade, I was devastated.  I thought everyone in WV was toothless, wore overalls, straw hats and had pigs for pets.  I was wrong.  Although I kid you not, the first day of school there was one guy wearing a straw hat with overalls.  West Virginia is a beautiful place with beautiful people.  Some of my best friends in this entire world are from West by God, Almost Heaven Virginia.  Sure you have families like the Whites.  But every state does.

West Virginia is its own state.  Most people don't know that.  They think West Virginia is actually Western Virginia.  It's not.  People from West Virginia HATE when you don't know it is its own state.  Get it straight or you might find yourself toothless.

There are also a lot of Italians in West Virginia.  I think half of my class had a last name that ended in an O.  Caputo, Oliverio, Dinaldo, Pecarro, you get the point.  Every year they have an Italian festival (also known as the Tally Rally, the Wop Hop and/or the Dago Shenago) in Clarksburg, WV.  Your mouth will meet some of the best Italian food here. 

Another beautiful thing that comes from WV...Pepperoni Rolls.  They are made in many different ways.  Some with stick pepperoni, some with sliced.  Some have cheese, some don't.  But there is no denying that they are AMAZING when they have the addition of some Oliverio peppers stuffed inside.  I wanted nothing more than some Oliverio peppers when I made these babies.

Here's What You Need:   
Pizza Dough
Pepperoni (stick or sliced...I prefer sliced)
Cheese (any kind, but I used mozzarella string cheese)

Here's What You Do:
Take the Pizza Dough out of the can (GASP!!!  I know I should have made these puppies from scratch, but I was being lazy).  Cut dough into squares (about 5"x5").  Top each square with about 3-5 slices of pepperoni a half of a piece of the string cheese and roll it up, sealing all ends so the cheese doesn't bubble out. 

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until browned in a 425 degree oven.  Let cool....this step is very important or you'll get cheese burns on your face...trust me.  Eat up.

I made a few adjustments and added some fresh spinach to some...hey, it made me feel a little more healthy.  And I know, I know, these are not how they are originally made.  The best roni rolls come from scratch.  But when a girl finds herself outside of West Virginia with no convenience store in town selling pepperoni rolls, you have to get clever...and fast.  And this is how I did it.

Almost Heaven...West Virginia.  And Pepperoni Rolls.  

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Food and Straight Jackets

 Photo from google images

We all do it.  Eat strange things or have a strange way of eating certain foods.  Some people have to dip their sausage in syrup.  Others like to dip their french fries in mayonnaise.  Some of these things make people cringe they are so odd.  But that's what's so wonderful about food.  Everyone has different tastes.  And different combinations of foods can make a person really happy or really freaked out.

Here are a few things I do that might get me thrown into a home for food weirdos.

1.  I have to have an ice cube in my milk.  Warm milk makes me want to puke.  Sorry.  I can't tell you how many comments I get about this quirky habit of mine.  "You put ICE CUBES in your milk?????"  As if it's really THAT strange.  I put ice in my water, tea, soda, coffee, etc., why the hell is milk so strange?

2.  When I eat a Kit-Kat, I remove all four sides of chocolate with my teeth first.  Then, starting at the top of the Kit-Kat, I remove layer, after layer of the wafers until it's done.

3.  I have my fear of other people's salads.  For more on that, go here.

4.  Sometimes when I chew gum, I split the piece in my mouth, so that each side gets to chew gum at once.  I've always been a fan of sharing.  Sharing with myself is no different. 

5.  If my mashed potatoes don't have gravy, I prefer to eat them mixed with corn, butter and salt and pepper.  Something about this combination is just heavenly to me.

6.  I like to peel the skin off my garlic by hand.  I know it's easier to smash it and then just rip off the skin, but I don't like to do it this way.  I like to do it my way.  So the next time we're cooking in my kitchen and I'm taking forever with the garlic...shut the hell up and deal with it.

7.  I feel extremely victorious when I peel an orange in one long peel, without it ripping.  I find Clementine's to be the easiest to accomplish this feat.

8.  When my sister and I were little girls, we used to dip white bread into A-1 sauce for a snack.  I used to also love peanut butter, mustard and pickle sandwiches.

9.  I am a serial dipper.  I love to dip food into sauces.  Blue cheese dressing, Italian dressing, Louisiana hot sauce, Sriracha, homemade honey mustard sauce...you name it.  And yes, I love french fries dipped in chocolate milkshakes.

10.  If something has ridges...say a Ruffle...I will eat each ridge individually.  Keeps me from eating 100 chips in one setting too...this one has an upside.

11.  I do minor surgery on my meat before I eat it.  Mostly chicken.  I don't mind biting into gristle on a steak, but biting into something odd in a piece of chicken has been known to make me gag into my napkin.  At the table.  Fancy restaurants and all.

12.  I hate cheesecake.  It tastes like the smell of puke to me.  This one also has an upside, an upside for my ass.

13.  I prefer to wash down popcorn with a glass of chocolate milk.  Great combination of flavors.

14.  I used to dip pretzel rods in milk before eating them.  Yummmmy.

You know you have them too.  What are they?? 


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Grilled Nutella-Nana-Butter Sandwich

When you're starving, you'll come up with the best of foods.  I've been religiously eating Ramen noodles so that I can afford Christmas gifts this year.  (Ya'll better be thankful if you receive one because my stomach and my taste buds surely are suffering).  
The roomie bought some Nutella the other day and I found a banana in my freezer.  So I decided to make a grilled Nutella-Nana-Butter Sandwich (love that name by the way...don't you dare steal it).  Nutella, Banana, Peanut Butter sandwich.  And it was the most delicious thing I've eaten this week.  

Butter two sides of your bread.  Top one slice (the non buttered side) with peanut butter, Nutella and then banana slices. 

Top it with the butter side up piece of bread.  Add it to a hot skillet, brown on both sides, cut in half and go to town on the gooey goodness.

Add a little powdered sugar and it would be a most delectable dessert or brunch sandwich.  Don't forget to serve with napkins.  Lots of them.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Memphis Must

 Birds Net Egg Roll at Saigon Le, Memphis, TN

I love stumbling upon interesting foods.  Foods that you have to work with first to eat.  There is a great little Vietnamese restaurant in Memphis called Saigon Le.  And they have this fun, and delicious appetizer called a Birds Net Egg Roll.  For years, I thought it was called the Birds NEST Egg Roll.  But either I am a total idiot, or they have a misprint on their menu, because it clearly says Birds NET (and, I distinctly listened to her repeat it back to us as birds net.  So I guess that makes me a total idiot).  

Anyways, it's an egg roll filled with pork and shrimp and probably cabbage, carrot and other goodness, and then it looks to be wrapped in some sort of noodle and fried.  I could be totally wrong here.  There may be a sweet technique to making a batter turn out this way, but I'm gonna stick to my guns and say this is some kind of noodle.  The browned, beautiful little nets arrive at your table (6-8 of them) atop a bed of romaine lettuce, mint and cilantro leaves.  It's served with a little bowl of fish sauce for dipping.   

The best way to eat them, in my opinion, is to lay a piece of romaine down on your plate, top it with a birds net, squeeze on a line of Sriracha, top that with a few mint and a few cilantro leaves, roll it up in the lettuce, dip it in the fish sauce and chow down.

If you live in Memphis and have never eaten it (I lived here for a good 4 years without discovering it), TRY IT.  If you are visiting Memphis and are looking for some good grub, GO THERE.  And if you don't ever plan to come to Memphis, YOU'RE AN IDIOT AND ARE MISSING OUT! 

Friday, December 09, 2011

Run for your Life

My sweet FREE kicks from Nike.  Ugly as sin, but like pillows on your feet!

I hate cardio.  I hate not being able to breathe.  Who doesn't, well maybe David Blaine.  But I hate being overheated, sweaty, out of breath, red-faced, and in pain.  And when I see die-hard marathon runners, I want to offer them large quantities of cheeseburgers.  They just look like that picture of the human body with no skin, just muscles.  And it kinda freaks me out.    

I ran competitively.  In elementary school.  Yes, I said elementary school.  In the 6th grade we did this HUGE presidential race with other schools in our district.  And I had a lot of fun that day.  I ran the 440 relay and threw a discus.  I loved the 440.  Something about the technique of grabbing that baton and running like you're being chased by a pack of wolves is exhilarating.  We got 4th place and it was my first and only ribbon ever won in a sporting event.

I also hate team sports.  I hate being the one on the team that lets everyone down.  I'd rather let myself down a million times over than let someone else down.  So I stick to sports where I'm in competition with myself, and beating the other people's scores within the individual competition is just icing on the cake.  Like disc golf.  I'm trying to beat my own score.  But in essence, it's nice to beat the scores of the other people you're playing with.  However, if I suck that day, I'm not hurting anyone but myself.

I started running again in say, 2004.  My beautiful friend Cassie and I decided to start walking.  We'd walk and then pick out a landmark and run to it.  Sprinting between walks.  And damn, did we end up looking GOOD that Summer!

So I recently started doing that again.  And damn it, if it doesn't feel good.  After a good sprint/walk session, I look in the mirror and can see color in my face.  I have a glow.  I feel great.  My lungs, that are exposed to lots of carbon monoxide on a daily basis (yes, I'm a smoker), thank me.  My heart plays a funky beat.  And my attitude....oh my attitude improves greatly.  I become a positive thinker.  I find the girl that is a confident, smart, capable, person. I lose her sometimes.  I wish she'd just stay put. 

What does this have to do with a kitchen you might say??
And my answer...get off your ass and exercise. Because you'll feel less guilty eating a gallon of ice cream afterwards.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Will Blog for Money

Will Blog For Money

I moved to Memphis in 2002.  I tried to get a job for months with no luck.  They say it's easier to know someone when you're on the job hunt.  Well, I knew a handful of people.  None of whom helped to get me a job.  So I decided, what the hell, I'll move on and get my masters degree in journalism.  (Don't judge if I don't have perfect grammar or write complete sentences...they didn't teach us that in school....I promise).  So I went to the University of Memphis, got me a fancy schmancy piece of paper, with a pretty high GPA I might add and tried to THEN find a job in Memphis.  I did manage to get a part-time job in a great little advertising agency where I learned a lot of things.  Media buying, marketing budgeting, advertising planning, and project management, among them.  

Currently, I bartend for my money (though not NEARLY enough).  Bartending can be like stripper money at times.  And it's hard to leave a fast-paced, busy-as-hell, fun job where you can make a weeks worth of pay in 5 hours to go sit in a cubicle for 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week, pretending to work, while really being bored off your ass, facebooking, having to follow rule, after rule, after rule.  

The other main reason I do it...I suck at job interviews.  Seriously.  I have been known to say some of the most outlandish things on interviews because my nerves get the better of me.  Take for instance, my interview for a marketing position at Gold Strike Casino.  Here's the short of it:

Gold Strike interviewer - "Jessica you look SOOOO young.  Our security guards are probably going to ask for identification each and every time you show up for work.  What are we going to do about that?"

Yours Truly - "Well....you haven't seen me naked....YET."

Yes, I a.) said "you haven't seen me naked" on a job interview, and then immediately b.) said YET!  As if to imply that at the work Christmas party they could definitely count on me shedding my Christmas sweater! GEEZ!  My foot couldn't get any further down my throat.  And no, I didn't get the job. 

Soooo.... back to the point.  If you know anyone that is looking for a smart-ass, dirty-mouthed, fun-loving, blog writer, who rants on and on about nonsense, and sucks at job interviews and will NOT actually get naked at the Christmas work party (unless lots of tequila is involved) send them my way so I can continue to write my blog and have fun in life and not have a real job where I'm handcuffed to a desk.  Or if you just have suggestions on how I can make some money writing this blog, send them my way.

Now call your friends and hook a bitch up (preferably those of you in Australia, Greece, Spain or Brazil).  Get Busy.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011


Photo from Nadia G's Press Kit

My blog is not related in any way, shape or form to Nadia G's Bitchin' Kitchen show.  I didn't steal the name from her, I have no desire to be her, and I wish to not be compared to her. 

I gave Nadia's show a try.  I even kinda liked it at first.  But after watching one episode, where she overly acts like a bad ass with a really annoying accent while cooking in 4 inch stilettos, I became annoyed to no end.  She wears too much makeup, too much jewelry and too much nail polish.  I wish she'd just cook and not talk.   

I'm not buying your hard ass character, Nadia...me and you...playground...3pm...I'll kick your ass.  Be sure to wear your stilettos. 

Friday, December 02, 2011

Burgh, Burgh, Burgh...Burgh is the word!

Maybe the prettiest city I've ever laid eyes on! ~ Photo by my amazing sister, Leigh Skaggs.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The City of Bridges.  The Steel City.  Home of the 6-time Superbowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers, 3-time Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins, and the 5-time World Series Champion Pittsburgh Pirates (not to mention 2 pre-World Series wins), though the last time has been since 1979...so come on Pirates, get your shit together.  You know you're from Pittsburgh if you know what a Yinzer, a gumband, a buggy and a jaggerbush are.  My place of birth.  

Fortunately, we still have family living in the good ol' Burgh.  So we get to occasionally (though not enough) go up for a visit and hit up all our old stomping grounds.  Many of them food stomping grounds.  I mean let's be honest, there are no two things more nostalgic than food and music.  Ok, at least in my mind.  I hear a song or smell food and I'm taken back to a different place in time.  I can remember who I was with and what I was wearing most times, and that's a large feat for me, seeing as how I have NO long term memory whatsoever.  

But back to Pittsburgh.  There's no way in my lifetime I will eat my way through the various foods of this city.  But I have come to know many places that I must hit up each time I visit, and am learning that there are in fact a few, that I don't need to hit up anymore, because the others are just on a different level.  And yes, I am going to catch major hell from my family and friends loyal to the Burgh for this one, so read on if you dare.
Here are some places we went on our trip up for Thanksgiving.

First stop, straight off the airplane, I kid you not...Mike & Tony's.  Home of the best damn gyro you will ever wrap your lips around.  I don't know what it is, I will never be able to explain it, but it's THE best.  Others claim to have the best gyro in town, but they are liars.  And they should be arrested for such bullshit claims.

  mmmm...Mike & Tony's

After getting full of Mike & Tony's, we usually head to the Strip District.  No, this is not a titty bar neighborhood.  This is a strip of land that is home to many specialty shops and local business owners selling anything from flowers, jewelry and food to Pittsburgh sports teams garb.  There is a little gem of a place here called the Pennsylvania Macaroni Company.  They have more cheese than Kim Kardashian's ass.  More bread than Warren Buffett.  If you need a cheese for the perfect fondue party, they got you covered.  If you ate a cheese somewhere and are desperate to find it, they will find it for you.  And not only will they find it, they will let you try BIG HUGE chunks of their cheese UNTIL you find it.  I'm talking chunks that would cost $3 at the grocery store.  They take good care of their people.  And you'll be called "dear heart" throughout your whole experience by the woman in charge.  And who doesn't want to be called dear heart while sampling some of the best cheeses in the world??

  Cheese, glorious cheese!!!! (Pennsylvania Macaroni Company)

Next, we found ourselves at the Breadworks.  They have any bread imaginable.  And it's fresh.  And it's delicious.  And they have salt sticks, which is a roll with caraway seeds, topped with kosher salt.  And I'm a stickler for bread.  And salt.  So I was in heaven eating this little sucker.

Bread...my favorite thing on Earth. (Breadworks)

The next day, more family had arrived for the Thanksgiving festivities.  First stop...The Original.  It's a hot dog shop in the University of Pittsburgh area.  A small order of fries can feed 3 people.  We got a medium for 6 and were satisfied.  Ok, everyone but my brother-in-law but he's like Homer Simpson.  These fries are delicious.  And they come with cheese sauce and gravy.  And you dip them in the cheese, then the gravy and then you drool all over yourself.  So get extra napkins.  People who don't frequent this place always mess up and get a large fry for 2 people.  A large fry at the O can probably feed the entire homeless population in Pittsburgh.  So make sure you have a big enough stomach to handle the large.  The bathrooms at the O are also an original.  Because they are scary.  Very Scary.  But don't let that keep you from going.  You have to experience the bathrooms to have the full experience of the O.

The Original - or if you're a local, the "O".

Next stop...Mike & Tony's of course.  But some of our crew wanted to hit up Primanti Brothers.  Me being one of them.  It had been well over 7 years since I had a Primanti sandwich.  A sandwich topped with whatever meat and cheese you choose, coleslaw and french fries.  It's a Pittsburgh favorite.  It's a Pittsburgh legend.  But in my opinion, it's not the best thing Pittsburgh has to offer food-wise.  If you've never had one, by all means, try one.  But just know, there are MUCH better places for food out there.  Like Wholey's fish sandwich in the Strip District.  Get one of these, you won't be disappointed.  I will say that my cousin swears by the Deluxe Double Egg and Cheese Primanti.  He claims it will change your life...so maybe I'm just ordering wrong.  He's born and bred and still lives in the Burgh, so I trust his opinion.

 Pastrami Primanti

There are so many great foods in this city I didn't touch on.  Like the Roethlis-burger at Peppi's (wear elastic waist pants for this one).  Obviously I can't touch on all the delicious food offerings in Pittsburgh.  Many of them I have yet to discover.  And this blog would be so long you'd be bored by now (you better not be bored by now).  But these are the go-to's for our family when we visit.  We'd be lost without them.  Our experience in the Burgh would be incomplete without them.  We'd weigh a lot less without them, too.  GO STEELERS!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bitch OUT da kitchen

I'm sorry loyal blog readers (shout out to my loving Germans and Ukrainians who read my blog more than my fellow Americans this week).  I haven't exactly been myself lately.  Oh, I've been a bitch, BALEE-DAT.  I just haven't been in the kitchen.  And when I'm not in the kitchen, my bitchy side flies off the charts.  So sorry to anyone who was injured as a result of my absence in the kitchen.  And to those of you who HAVE been subjected to the wrath of bitch, I love you.  Especially those of you who still talk to me.  And to those that don't, I didn't need you anyway.

See, I am no longer in MY kitchen.  I HAVE a kitchen.  But it's not MINE.  And that's a hard pill to swallow when you are as obsessed with your own kitchen as I once was.  But maybe this is a good thing.  Maybe realizing how much I need my own kitchen to be sane again will light the fire I need under my ass to make that a possibility.  I'll surely keep you posted, as I KNOW you are sitting on the edge of your seats.

So I will be blogging more about my food experiences for a little bit.  Don't worry, I will still be cooking here and there.  Just not as often.  So hang in there and enjoy my food experiences throughout my travels in my own city, as well as in other places.   

I hope you all still read regularly, because looking at the hits my blog gets makes me smile and smiling is much needed.  So smile.  Right now.  Are you smiling?  Just do it.  See...didn't that feel awesome?  Stay tuned...

Friday, November 11, 2011

Chili Weather

It's that time of year again.  Time to break out the jeans, hoodies, scarves and toboggans (and no, I don't mean sled, I mean hat, so don't give me a dirty look when I ask why you're not wearing a toboggan).  Time for football, hockey, fire pits...but more importantly, time for warming foods.  Soups, stews, hot chocolate, and chili.  Yes, chili. 

We can debate forever about how to make chili.  Some use beans, some don't.  Some use ground beef, some use chunks of beef.  But no matter how you make it, the fact is, chili is delicious in any way, shape or form.  You got your Texas chili, your Cincinnati chili, you can serve your chili over spaghetti, with oyster crackers or with Fritos.  Do what you want with your chili.  This is my blog and so this is my chili.

Here's What You Do:
Notice I do not have a "Here's What You Need" section...because I just make it.  I throw a bunch of stuff in a pot and I taste it and add to it, and taste it and add to it, until it's JUST RIGHT.

Take a pound of ground beef and brown it in a big pot, then drain it.  Add in a diced onion, medium sized will do and cook until soft.  Add in about 3 cloves of minced garlic and cook until fragrant.  Never brown garlic.  It makes everything bitter.  Add your ground beef back into the pot.  Open a can of Hunt's tomatoes, diced and add them in.  Open a can of Hunt's tomato sauce (I could drink this shit) add it to the pot.  Open a can of kidney beans (rinse them off first, their juice makes you gassy, and unless you're in a farting contest, you don't want to have gas with your delicious bowl of chili).  Add in about a tablespoon of garlic powder, a teaspoon of oregano, a teaspoon of chili powder, and teaspoon of cayenne, a dash of Sriracha, because I'm a Sriracha slut, about a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of pepper, and a few sprinkles of cumin (I don't LOVE cumin, so I only add a touch).  Now stir this all together and simmer for about 20 minutes on low heat.  Taste it, add in what you like, I usually end up adding in more salt and garlic powder.

Once you get it tasting like heaven and cooked to your consistency (if you like thicker chili, simmer at a higher heat), put your chili in a bowl, top with cheese, sliced scallions and a dollop of sour cream.  I eat mine with tortilla chips, like it's a dip.  Eat up.  And don't let people tell you your chili isn't authentic.  Chili is one of those meals like jambalaya.  You put in it what you have on hand.  It's never wrong.  As long as it tastes good to you, you're good to go.  Screw the haters. 

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Presto! Pesto

I used to not be a pesto fan.  I don't know why.  I love everything that goes into pesto, individually.  But for some reason, when all of those ingredients got mixed together, it was just too overpowering for my palate.  But that has changed.  I love all different kinds of pesto now.  I would make a collard green pesto if I thought it would be good.  And hell, it might be.  And hell, I might just try it. 

Here's another quicky dinner that tastes like you just ordered in from a fancy restaurant.  And it's EASY to make.

Here's What You Need: 
Chicken Breasts (however many you need to feed your people)
Pasta (whatever kind you like...I'm a long noodley pasta gal)
1 package of Basil or about a cup and a half
3 cloves of garlic
1/3 cup of Parmesan
1/4 cup of Pine Nuts (I toast mine in a hot skillet until they are slightly browned for a little extra flavor)
1/2 cup of Olive Oil (or more until you reach a pesto consistency that you like...I like mine on the runny side)
Salt & Pepper
Seasoning for your chicken (I used garlic powder, salt, pepper, and a little cayenne)

Here's What You Do:
Season your chicken on both sides.  Cook in a saute pan on medium heat with a little olive oil until finished, usually takes about 5-7 minutes per side.  Set chicken aside and cover with aluminum foil to keep it warm.  Cook pasta according to the directions on the box and how many people you are feeding.  In a food processor (if you don't own one, get one...it will make your life so much easier) add in basil and garlic and drizzle in a little olive oil to get things going and to make sure everything is getting chopped up.  Add in your pine nuts and the rest of your oil.  Blend until smooth.  Add in your Parmesan and blend some more.  If you need to add in more olive oil at this point, do so.  Now taste it, add salt and pepper if necessary.

Drain your pasta and add it back to the pot.  Add in a good helping of your pesto and mix this all around until your pasta is totally coated.  Plate your pasta, top with your sliced chicken and enjoy an easy, gourmet dinner that only took about 15 minutes to make.

This pesto recipe will make about a cup of pesto.  You can put pesto on anything. So now you have many options for future dinners/lunches, hell, it's good on eggs, so lets just say "meals".

You're welcome.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Everything Bagels 101

Bakers around the world, take note.  An everything bagel has sesame, caraway and poppy seeds, onion, garlic, and salt.  A bagel with garlic, onion and poppy seeds is NOT an everything bagel.  You should be arrested for even attempting to label yours an everything bagel.  That's false advertising.  I can't tell you how often I am disappointed when I buy an everything bagel and everything that is SUPPOSED to be on it, is NOT.  If you're everything doesn't have everything, it's nothing.

This little concoction was inspired by my cousin Emily.  And Em, anytime you want to guest blog, feel free!  She was telling me about this bagel sandwich she used to make when she worked at a deli.  It was an EVERYTHING bagel (and she's blood, so I'm sure she knows a good everything bagel), topped with (if I remember correctly) vegetable cream cheese, cheese, cucumber, tomato and sprouts.

Well Em, after I talked to you, I couldn't stop thinking about this delicious sandwich.  I'm a total sucker for Everything bagels and veggie cream cheese. In fact, one of my most favorite sandwiches of all times is an Everything bagel with veggie cream cheese, roast beef and red onion (thanks to my sister for this delicious concoction).  It's to die for.  Anyways, back to Emily's sandwich.  I swear, I went and bought all the things I needed.  I picked out local, ripe tomatoes, the perfect cucumber and the freshest carton of sprouts I could get my hands on.  But I couldn't find a fucking everything bagel in the city of Memphis to save my life.  They were all imposters.  So a few days passed, while I racked my brain on where to get an everything bagel, short of ordering them online from NYC.  Then I remembered a place in Memphis that has some pretty darn good bagels.  And though they are in East Memphis, one must sacrifice for an everything bagel, so I headed to City East

But by the time I remembered where the good bagels in Memphis were, all of my hand selected produce had gone bad.  So I grabbed some Swiss cheese, a cucumber, and an avocado.  I passed on the tomato because I couldn't get a local one and I prayed my sprouts were still good.  They weren't.  And by the way, when sprouts go bad...they go REALLY bad.  They leave a brownish, gooey, watery mess in the bottom of their little carton that will make you want to quiver in disgust.

So instead, I went with what I had.  Toasted my bagel.  Topped both sides with veggie cream cheese.  Added Swiss cheese, sliced cucumber and sliced avocado salted and peppered it and ate that shit so fast I don't even remember what it tasted like.  But it was good.  It was EVERYTHING I needed at that moment. EVERYTHING!  Don't be an imposter.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Poach This

This is one of my most favorite breakfasts.  It's not normal that I make breakfast.  I usually wake up craving lunch, because I normally wake up at 11.  But the older I get, the less I sleep.  It's not cool at all.  So you youngsters better enjoy every Z you get. 

My step-mom inspired this dish.  She is another awesome cook in my life.  She makes the best, juiciest Thanksgiving turkey in the world.  And Chicken and Broccoli Casserole.  And Cream Puff Dessert.  She's an awesome cook.  It's therapeutic for her too.  I'm grateful to be surrounded by so many great cooks. 

Every time I'm in Pittsburgh we have poached eggs on toast and bacon.  I had no bacon and was going for a healthy start to my day, so I went with Arugula Salad with lemon vinaigrette and polenta with Parmesan.

Poached Eggs:
Poached eggs aren't hard.  I don't know why people get the impression that you have to have some kitchen gadget to poach an egg.  You don't.  All you need in a deep skillet, filled with water.  Put your skillet with water on the stove, bring it JUST to a boil (don't have a major boil going, the definition of poaching is to cook eggs or fish in hot liquid just below the boiling point) and then swirl your water around with a spoon.  As the water is swirling, break your egg into it.  The swirling will keep the egg from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Now, cook your egg until your yolk is how you like it.  The best way to know is to stick your finger in it.  Ok, be careful.  Don't stick your finger INTO it, but feel the top of your yolk.  I like mine just slightly runny.  So that the yolk oozes out onto my toast.  So when it feels like it's starting to get hard, but not totally hard, it's done to my liking.  Usually takes about 3 minutes.  Take the egg out with a slotted spoon to drain the water from it and then give it a little pat down with a paper towel to get any excess water off it.  Who wants a wet egg?  The thought makes me ill.   

I didn't have the patience to make my own (though it's not hard, just time consuming), so I bought some, cut it into slices and pan fried it in olive oil with some salt and pepper.  When it's warmed and slightly browned, grate some Parmesan cheese over it.

Get some delicious wheat bread.  Slice it, toast it, butter it GENEROUSLY.  Nothing better than butter puddles in your bread holes.  Come on, I had to make up for my lack of bacon.  And if you know me, you know I'm not a health freak.  Top it with your salt and peppered poached egg.  Add your polenta to your plate.  Plop some arugula onto your plate dressed with lemon vinaigrette and you're set. 

Thanks Sue for the inspiration.  I miss your cooking more than you know!   

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Unexpected Seaweed Salad Cleanse

I wish I could take credit for this salad...but I can't. Can't even remember the restaurant name. 

I'm not a cleanse kinda gal.  I hate depriving myself of food.  And if you've ever seen me starved, you know I can become an evil bitch.  I will bite your head off for making any stupid moves.  So steer clear of me when I'm hungry.  But the cleanse I'm about to speak of, was one I was not expecting.  So I dare you to read on...
The first time I tried seaweed salad, I didn't like it.  I wasn't a fan of the texture.  It reminded me of eating rubber bands.  Slightly slimy rubber bands.  Just weird.  So when I went to California, I decided to give it another try.  You know what?  I liked it this time.  I told you, keep trying things you think you hate, you might find that you eventually appreciate it for what it's worth.  I used to hate scallops, now I love them.  I used to love shrimp, now I can take or leave them.  Your taste buds change.  Don't be a pussy.  Try new things.

Anyways, back to this seaweed salad.  I normally go for the salad with the ginger dressing, because I really just want to lick all the ginger dressing off the lettuce.  But my dear old friend Cassie insisted that I revisit the seaweed salad, so in non-pussy-like fashion, I did.  And I am happy I did, because I ate the whole thing.  I could have ordered two in fact.  It was that good. 

But afterward there was a rumble.  A rumble deep within my soul that could have been mistaken for a large monster living inside of me.  Cassie lives about 1.5 hours from San Fran.  In a lovely little place called Monte Rio.  So about 5 minutes into our trip to her lovely cabin nestled in the beautiful redwoods, I asked Cassie, "Is your stomach doing what my stomach is doing??"  But no, she seemed fine.  Then came the cold sweats and the paleness.  I was going to die (die being a more pleasant term for crap my pants - I know...hot, right?).  "Um Cass, can we stop at a bathroom??"  That's when I looked over at her...and noticed her cold sweats and paleness.  We then started making plans on what we were going to do next.  "There's two gas stations at this next exit...You take the first one and then we'll go across the street and I'll go in the second one," Cassie plotted!

I think I saw about 4 bathrooms in that 1.5 hour time span.  Lovely bathrooms in California, by the way.  So if you're looking for a way to lose a quicky 5 pounds...I suggest seaweed salad.  And if you're on a hot date...I suggest avoiding the seaweed salad at all costs! 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Roll 'Em Up, Then Eat 'Em Up

Anytime I'm feeling under the weather, I think comfort food.  My body feels like crap.  I wish I was dead.  And the only thing that will make me feel better is diving into a plate of some good old fashioned poor food.  Yesterday, my craving was Polish stuffed cabbage rolls, or Golabki (pronounced ga-WUMP-kee).  I can't remember the first time I ate stuffed cabbage rolls.  I want to say it was somewhere in Pittsburgh.  That place is crawling with Pollacks...and THANK GOD!!!  Ya'll know how to make a meal that makes a girl feel MUCH better.  Here's how I made mine:

What You Need:
1 head of green cabbage
1 1/2 cups of cooked rice (read the directions on the back of your rice to get 1 1/2 cups cooked.  I used Minute Rice because I was sick and had no time to make 25 minute rice...don't judge)
1 lb. of ground beef (use the fattening stuff....ok fine...you don't HAVE to, but I did...fat makes me feel better)
1/2 onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 good tablespoon of sriracha (if you've never had it, you're missing out on life)
1 can of tomato sauce (I use Hunt's...it's salty and delicious.  I could drink it...I actually did)
Salt & Pepper
2 tablespoons of butter (You can substitute olive oil,  if you wanna be healthy, but I wanted BUTTAH) and when I'm sick...I get what I want.

Here's What To Do:
Cook your rice, season it with salt and pepper and add in some butter for a little love.  Cook your cabbage in boiling water for about 10 minutes, until the leaves easily pull off, you will have to cut off the core to do this, so keep that in mind.  Saute your onion and garlic in a tablespoon of butter until soft and season with salt and pepper.  Get out a large bowl.  Add in your ground beef, uncooked, to the bowl.  Add in your rice and onion and garlic.  Salt and pepper AGAIN.  Yes, I realize this seems like a lot of salt and peppering, but when you eat it, you will understand why you take this step with every layer you cook.  Add in the sriracha.  Now unpeel the first few layers of your cabbage off and throw it away.  These pieces are usually pretty dirty and disheveled.  Now take off the next 8 or 10 leaves.  There will be a thick vein in each piece.  Cut this out in a v-shape, because this will make them easier to roll up.

Next, stuff those babies full of your delicious meat mixture:

Roll up both sides, then roll it up like a baby burrito and place into a baking dish that has a few splashes of tomato sauce on the bottom so they don't stick.  Do all of your cabbage rolls like this and them pour the rest of your tomato sauce on top.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 for about 2 hours.

I didn't eat my cabbage rolls just yet.  I let them cool and them put them in the fridge, because food like this ALWAYS tastes better the next day.  But my roommate came home and couldn't keep her grubby hands outta them (I kid, I kid, she very nicely asked me if she could try them because she couldn't get over how good they smelled).  So I graciously gave her the first taste and she told me they were one of the best things she's eaten in a LONG, LONG time.  Made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  And they will do the same to you.  So make 'em, bitches!

If I offended any Pollacks in the writing of this blog, I sincerely apologize.  And will make it up to you by feeding you delicious stuffed cabbage rolls.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Shout out to Dad

This post goes out to my dear ol' Daddy!  The man who taught me to try everything once.  The man who subjected us as small children to the movie JAWS the day before taking us to the ocean for the first time.  The man who pushed us, kicking and screaming, because he knew there was nothing to really fear, into the ocean that next day, while my sister and I feared being eaten by a 10 foot shark with a hunger for human blood.

The man who scoffed at us while we shivered when presented with our first roller coaster, promising we would love it once we tried it.  The man who has always been right about these things.  I do love roller coasters.  I play in the ocean like a girl who grew up in California.  (Don't read any further mom) I will jump off a 50 foot cliff without even batting an eye.  I have swung off of 60 foot bridges that drunk guys have tied me to (it was college, mom...I know you're still reading).  I have little fear when it comes to trying new things.  And yes, that may be a bad thing.  But, knock on wood, I haven't gotten hurt yet.  And every time I scream, "I wanna do THAT again!"

He's also the man who taught me to try all food once.  I have eaten the craziest of foods just because I have to, for my own peace of mind.  And yes, I have gagged, thrown up, wanted to die after doing so, but I tried.  I mean what have you got to lose??  You don't like it???  Who can't handle that??  I've tried many things I'm not thrilled about.  And the more I try them, the more I appreciate them.  You wanna know one of the tastiest things on Earth???  Deep fried shrimp eyes.  They taste like bacon.  Don't believe me??  TRY IT!

I guess my reason for this post is to a.) thank my dad for giving me the confidence to try new things, no matter how afraid or unwilling I may be, because who knows, that might just be the thing that you were made to do, and b.) to tell all you wussy people to JUST DO IT.  More than likely you aren't going to die.  You only live once people.  You know what I have learned from being afraid to try new things???  I have learned how disappointed in myself I become when I let an opportunity pass without giving it a try.  Believe it or not, life is short.  And when I'm 70, I don't want to say, "Man, I really wish I had done that."  I'd rather say, "Man, I did that once and I kicked its ass."

So when opportunity knocks...for crying out loud, answer the freakin' door.  And if someone tells you to taste something new...for Christ's sake, open your freakin' mouth. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Don't be a Sauce-ist

Gotta feed the kids before soccer practice?  Poker:30 at the casino?  Feeding a friend before their work shift?  Need some quick grub before a night out of drinking?  I got your gourmet back.  Angel Hair with red clam sauce.  Basically, Linguine with clam sauce ORRRRR...with whatever you have in your cabinet, but I regularly have Angel Hair pasta.  Not a big fan of tubed pasta.  Call me a tube-ist, I don't care.

Some people treat Linguine with clam sauce like they treat clam chowder.  They will eat only one, NOT the other.  I like to call these people sauce-ists.  You got your red chowder and your white chowder.  Manhattan Clam Chowder is the tomato based Chowder and then you got your New England Clam Chowder, the creamy one.  I personally like both.  I would snuggle up with either on a cold day.  And then there's tomato-y Linguine with clam sauce and there's non-tomato-y (yes that's a word) Linguine with clam sauce.  Which I again, personally like both.  If you present either dish to me, I will kiss you on the mouth.  You rock for simply feeding me something yummy.

So I had a particular night where I had to make food in a jam, and I frantically opened my pantry, my cabinets and my fridge and decided upon Angel Hair with Clam Sauce.  Ok, now here's me being a hypocrite. Because I'm a HUGE fan of fresh food.  And I think fresh food is THE tastiest of foods.  But here's me being a realist.  Sometimes we just don't have the freshest ingredients and we don't have the time to go grab some.  And sometimes you're broke and canned clams are cheaper for you than fresh clams.  I PREFER fresh clams.  Who doesn't?  But sometimes, you have to sacrifice fresh, for cheap.  As long as most of your other ingredients are fresh, you will be much happier with the outcome...so don't sweat the pricey stuff.  Here's my recipe for quicky Angel Hair with RED Clam Sauce.  If you are a sauce-ist, you can stop reading now. 

Here's What You Need:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper (or more if you like.  Or less if you're a heat wuss)
1 cup chicken stock (You could use seafood stock or vegetable stock, but I had chicken on hand b/c I make my own)
2 cups diced tomatoes
1 can of chopped clams
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound linguine, cooked to al dente
2 tablespoons of chopped flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
Parmesan Cheese
Crusty Bread (just plan to eat crusty bread with everything...I do.)

Here's What You Do:
Cook your pasta.  Heat the oil in a medium stockpot over high heat. Add garlic and cook for a minute. Add crushed red pepper and cook for a few seconds.  Add the tomatoes and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Simmer until it reduces by half, about 3-5 minutes.  Add the clams, just until heated through. 

If you are using fresh clams, add them in, cover them for about 3 minutes, until they all crack open their lovely little shells, as if to say, "EAT ME".  If they don't open, toss 'em, or plan to spend the rest of the night hugging your toilet.  Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the cooked pasta, parsley and basil until combined.

Plate in bowls.  Sprinkle the top of each serving of pasta with Parmesan.  Some people don't like to mix seafood and cheese.  I call these people cheesists.  I would cut off my right arm before turning down a piece of cheese.  I am a tube-ist...remember.  Serve with crusty bread, because you are NOT going to want to let the juices go to waste.  One of the easiest, most gourmet-ish dishes you can make in 20 minutes or less.  Don't be a sauce-ist.  Try it.   

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sleeper Soup

Sometimes you fall in love with a dish that not everyone likes.  It's hard to convince others around you to eat something that makes you feel all warm and cozy, but may not have very enticing ingredients.  My warm and cozy, I'm-gonna-make-this-because-I'm-all-alone dish is Lentil Soup.  I know.  Sounds boring as hell, huh?  I mean, what in the world is a lentil?  Well, basically it's a seed.  And who the hell wants seed soup?  Well....me, that's who.  And this soup, and I use that term lightly, because it's not very brothy.  It's more packed full of goodness than most soups.  But this soup is amazing.  And I can't remember where I got the recipe, believe me, I've searched high and low to find it so that it's not all off the top of my head, but I can't find it anywhere.  Because no one wants it.  But you know what?  All those people are idiots, because it's freakin' good.  Trust me.  I wouldn't waste my time writing to you about this for no reason.  I like you.  I really do.  So eat this.  And I hope my measurements are right.  Let me know if I'm WAY off and I'll adjust (do that any time, actually).

Here's What You Need: (this recipe is for one....one with a VERY BIG appetite)
3 slices of bacon, diced into small cubes
2 carrots, diced into small cubes
1 stalk of celery, diced into small cubes (do you see a trend forming??)
1/2 of a small onion, yep, you guessed it, diced into small cubes
1 cup of brown lentils
2-3 cups of chicken stock (yes, I am going to refer you to my chicken stock recipe, because it effin rocks)
1 teaspoon of freshly chopped thyme
1 teaspoon of freshly chopped parsley
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Parmesan Cheese
Salt & Pepper

Here's What You Do:
Cook your bacon in a medium pot until crisp.  Reserve on paper towels, but save about 1 tablespoon of bacon grease in your pot, it adds more flavor to this dish.  Add your olive oil to the pot and cook the onion, celery and carrots until they are just tender.  Add salt and pepper to your veggies.  Season EVERY layer of the food you cook, a sprinkle of salt and a few cracks of pepper is what I do.  Once your veggies are starting to become tender, add in your lentils.  Stir them all around to coat everyone in their delicious oil bath.  Add in the chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Once it reaches boiling point, lower your heat to a simmer and cover for about 25-30 minutes. 

To be quite honest, I remember the recipe I got this from had a MUCH shorter cooking time and it was BULLCRAP.  Because I remember testing my lentils and they tasted like the button off a shirt.  You will know when they are done because they will have a slight pop to them, but they will be creamy on the inside.  Mine usually take about 25-30 minutes to get this way.  Once they taste delicious and creamy to you, uncover the pot and add in your thyme and add back in 1/2 of your bacon.  Cook for another 15 minutes, to reduce the amount of liquid you have.

Now you're ready to put that sloppy mess of delicious into a bowl.  Top it with the rest of your bacon, parsley and Parmesan, and indulge.  No one will really come swarming because it's lentil soup for Christ's sake.  Only YOU will know that you are eating an amazing soup with layer after layer of flavor.  Hey, PS....I KNOW it's Summer time.  So what.  I never claimed to be the most topical or reasonable person in the kitchen.  There's a little tag at the top of your screen called a BOOKMARK.  Bookmark it if you can't do soup in the Summer.  But do try it.  You will be surprisingly pleased with the results.  I am every time I make it. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Girl with a Grill

Something about this picture makes me wanna scratch my balls and hock a loogey across the yard.  Obviously I don't have balls to scratch, but I can hock a loogey like the best of them.

I love grilling food. Grilled food is the greatest tasting food.  And not to offend you gas grillers, but charcoal is the only way to go.  It's just got so much more flavor.  People were always surprised when they'd come to my house and see that I was in charge of the grill.  As if women can't man a grill.  If you tell me I can't do something because I'm a girl, I will prove you wrong in a heartbeat.  And grilling I can do.  And I can do it well.  You need 10 steaks, each cooked differently?  Well, why didn't you just say so??  I gotchu!  Don't let grilling scare you girls, it's not just for the boys and it's kinda hot to see a woman behind a grill.  At least I think so!   

Here's What You Need:
Leg of lamb, trimmed of fat and cubed
10 cloves of garlic, minced (or more...the more the merrier)
2 tablespoons of chopped rosemary
2 tablespoons of chopped thyme
1/8 cup of olive oil
1/8 cup of red wine
salt & pepper
kebab skewers, soaked for 20 minutes in water if they are wooden so that they don't burn on the grill (or if you're schmancy pantsy, use rosemary sprigs as your skewers...adds more flavor and flavor is GOOD)
Pita bread, warmed
Tzatziki sauce

Here's What You Do:
In a ziplock back, combine lamb, garlic, rosemary, thyme, olive oil and red wine.  Marinate overnight.  If you don't have time to marinate that long, at least give it 5 hours.  When you are ready to eat, light your grill.  I use a charcoal chimney starter so that I don't have to use lighter fluid anymore.  It makes your food taste like chemicals, and who the hell wants that?  Once your charcoal is ready, salt and pepper your lamb kebabs and thread them onto your skewers.  Cook over medium high heat for about 4 minutes per side. Take them off when they are cooked to about medium or medium rare.  Here's a great way to determine the done-ness without cutting into the meat and draining it of all its juices.  Serve with warmed pita and tzatziki sauce.

You can use this marinade with chicken kebabs and veggie kebabs too.  It's good on just about anything.  I made these kebabs at a house party once and there were literally 10 people crammed into my small kitchen, ripping meat off of skewers with their teeth like cavemen, grunting and moaning about how great it was.  So try it at your next party.  It's nice to see your friends turn into animals.  It's even nicer to hear them rave about how awesome your food tastes!   

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Summer Sandwich (Nothing like Summer Teeth)

There's nothing like fresh produce. For me, eating a fresh tomato might be one of the most sensual moments in time. First, there's that beautiful color.  A red so vibrant it will turn your head and stop you dead in your tracks.  Next, there's the smell, which I'm finding very hard to describe.  If your tomato doesn't smell like a tomato, it's not going to taste like a tomato either.  Then there's the way it feels in your hand.  It's soft, it fits like it was made to be held and loved.  It begs you to rub it against your cheek.  It's ever so slightly tender, and heavy, from the secret it's keeping on the inside.  And then you cut into it and its juices go oozing out everywhere...over the sides of the cutting board and onto the counter.  Then, THEN....you pop a slice into your mouth.  And that's when it's all over.  It tastes REAL.  It tastes RIPE.  It's juicy.  It's got more flavor that you know what to do with.  It's instant mouth party. You probably need to sit down at this point because the taste is so wonderful, you are getting a little light-headed.

Here's a delicious sandwich I make when I have a really fresh, ripe tomato:

Here's What You Need: 
Crusty bread
Drizzle of Olive Oil
1 Clove of Garlic, halved
Hummus - Enough to smear on your bread
Ripe Tomato, sliced
Cucumber, sliced
Salt & Pepper

Here's What You Do:
Drizzle your sliced bread with olive oil.  Place it in the oven or toaster oven at 400 degrees for 8 minutes.  When it's toasty, rub it with the fresh clove of garlic.  The heat from the bread will melt the garlic and leave it's delicious goodness behind.  Next, smear both slices of bread with hummus.  Top hummus with tomato and cucumber and salt and pepper your veggies.  Top that with your other slice of bread.

Take a bite.  You have just arrived in sandwich heaven.  Take off your shoes and stay awhile.  

Monday, August 08, 2011

Tuna & Arugula Pasta - Quick & Healthy

I am obsessed with tuna.  I could eat it every day.  I know, I know, there are health risks.  Mercury levels. Blah, Blah, Blah.  But you can't do anything in the world anymore without health risks, so I'm not going to get my panties in a bunch over it.  I love tuna.  I love it raw.  I love it slightly seared.  I love it in tuna salad (if I am the maker of said tuna salad, or know the maker of said tuna salad), I love it in pasta, casseroles, on rice, etc.

I love it in Nicoise salad (which I will have to post sometime...mmmm). Nicoise salad. That's French.  Don't go into a restaurant ordering the Nee-coy-say salad.  You will get laughed at.  I promise.  I've seen it happen.  Not to your face.  But behind your back.  Waiters will go in the back and repeat your ignorant request for a Nee-coy-say salad and the chefs will all giggle and call you an idiot behind your back.  It's quite humorous.  But seriously...it's nee-SWAHZ.  Just for future reference.

You get my point though.  Tuna.  It's good.  It's excellent fresh.  But I am newly addicted to canned tuna in oil.  This kind:
It's good stuff.  Not that cat food look-a-like tuna I used to buy.  This is real tuna.  And it's delicious.  Here's a quick, cheap, easy, healthy and filling dinner for you.

Here's What You Need:
1 can of Bumblebee Tonno in Olive Oil (you can use the cat food stuff if you want, it just won't taste as good)
1 heaping handful (yes, this is a legit measurement) of arugula
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp crushed red pepper
3 tablespoons of olive oil
Salt & Pepper

Here's What You Do: 
Cook your pasta according to the box.  I like angel hair.  In a medium pan, saute olive oil, crushed red pepper and garlic.  Don't burn the garlic.  Throw in your drained tuna (you don't HAVE to drain it if it's in olive oil, because it will just add more flavor).  Get everything stirred around and heated up, should take about 3 minutes, add salt and pepper if you like.  Once your pasta is cooked, add it to the pan with the tuna.  Throw in your arugula and stir until it wilts.  Mix it all together and eat it.

Add Parmesan if you want.  Or black olives.  Or whatever you think would go well.  Red onion would be good.  It's not rocket science.  It's cooking.  It's fun.  Don't forget it.  And don't say Nee-coy-say salad anymore.  You have been officially warned.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Plate-Licking Piccata

It's rare that I lick my plate after eating.  Yes we all say, "Wow, that was so good I wanna lick the plate," but most of us don't really do that.  But you will, if you make this. And it's quick.  And it doesn't have to be fattening.

Here's What You Need:
Chicken Breasts (pounded very thin)
Flour (for dredging)
Salt & Pepper
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
1/2 cup of chicken stock (use homemade...it's what really makes you wanna lick the plate)
2 tablespoons of olive oil (that's a guess, I just coat the bottom of my pan with it)
1 tablespoon of butter (that's not a guess.  I really only use 1 tbsp. of butter)
2 tablespoons of capers (again, if you love em, use more)
2 tablespoons of parsley

Here's What You Do:
Pound out your chicken breast, so that it's very thin.  Or you can butterfly it, if you have a really sweet knife and a desire to lose a finger.  But I've already been to the ER for a sliced finger.  It's no fun and it's not cheap.  Plus, pounding the crap out of something is a great stress reliever.

Once you have thin pieces of chicken (I had 4 thin pieces) salt and pepper both sides of your chicken.  Place a saute pan on the stove and add in olive oil at medium heat.  Let the oil heat up while you dredge your chicken lightly in the flour, shaking off any excess.  Once your oil is hot enough (I like to splash a little bit of water in my pan.  If it sizzles like crazy, you're ready to go) add in your chicken and cook about 3 minutes per side until both sides are nice and crunchy looking brown.  That should be the color of a Crayola crayon.  Crunchy Brown.  Crayola - if you're looking to rename crayons, I'm your girl.

Once your chicken is browned and cooked, set it aside on a paper towel, to drain off any excess oil.  Now, what you have is a pan with yummy browned bits in the bottom of it.  Add lemon juice and chicken broth and bring to a boil, scraping your pan with a wooden utensil to incorporate all the flavor from your pan.  Once the liquid begins to boil, bring it down to a simmer for about 5-8 minutes, to reduce and thicken your sauce.  Add in your capers and parsley.  Taste it.  Add in salt or pepper if you need to, but your capers will add a good salty flavor, so be sure to taste it before just seasoning all willy nilly-like.  And right before you serve it, add in a tablespoon of butter and stir it until melted.

Plate your chicken.  I served mine over arugula dressed with a little olive oil and salt and pepper.  Add the sauce over the top.  Eat your chicken.  And I dare you to let that juice go to waste.  So lick your plate.  Don't be ashamed.  No one's watching.  You worked hard (not really) on that sauce.  Enjoy it.  Bottle it.  Use it as cologne, or lip gloss.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Chef Crush

Anthony Bourdain might be one of the sexiest men alive.  He's a kitchen God.  He's my ultimate chef crush.  He's 6'4" (I like 'em tall).  He's got a mouth like a sailor.  He allowed himself to go naturally gray...no Just For Men Gel for this dude.  He CAN believe it's not butter.  He's a realist.  He writes how he talks.  Gives it to ya straight.  He'll try anything once.  He knows a good knife is probably the only utensil you truly need in a kitchen.  He hates garlic presses.  He won't eat mussels in a restaurant, unless he knows the chef personally.  I can't confirm this, but I bet you won't find a plastic lemon in his kitchen.  And I guarantee he'd love my Food Faux Pas blog.  Hell, he might have already read it (ok, so maybe I'm not a realist ALL the time)! 

I say "I love you" and "I'm sorry" with food...I bet he does too.  We both like a good party.  He's a Cancer, I'm a Scorpio, we're a match made in astrological heaven.  He can't stand Rachel Ray or Sandra Lee, I smell what he's steppin' in.  We both love peasant food, though I might have some difficulty diving into a bowl full of bull balls or pig brains, but hell...I'll try anything once.  He's got that "bad boy" thing about him.  You know...the type of guy you flock to and then run screaming from?  He's smart, mysterious, cocky, pierced, tattooed, has done drugs, and wears leather and cowboy boots! 

I just finished his Kitchen Confidential book.  I loved it.  If you haven't read it, you should check it out.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

When Doody Calls

 Google Images Picture

This is an article I wrote for a local newspaper.  They wouldn't print it.  Their loss.

They’re family members, our best friends.  They eat as well as we do, are pampered more than we pamper ourselves and are often dressed better.  They’re our pets, and with each pet comes responsibility.  However, no matter how loving the owner, it seems that one very important pet priority gets overlooked.

We’ve all experienced it at one time or another.  It starts as a familiar, but offensive odor that leads to a mad search to quickly find, and remedy the situation.  And it almost always turns out to be our biggest nightmare.  A shoe, carpet, floorboard, a bare foot, suddenly covered in your neighbors’ dog Fluffy’s metabolized dinner of lamb and rice.

Before having the inevitable fight with your friendly neighbor about cleaning up after their pets, arm yourself with some reasons why it’s necessary to clean up after our animals and offer some helpful tips on eliminating waste.

The Environmental Factor:
When it rains, pet waste and the bacteria that inhabit it, are transported to our storm drains that lead to our lakes and rivers, making swimming and other recreational activities unsafe.  A common mistake that people make with pet waste is that they think it’s a good fertilizer.  “This is not true and the reason is that almost all dog food is meat based and is not the same thing as cow manure or some other type of fertilizers which are vegetative,” said Lee Bowling of On Doody, a local pet waste removal service.

The Health Concerns:
Harmful parasites are transmitted through dog feces, including hookworms and roundworms, which can lead to serious illness in your pet, as well as in humans.  Additionally, pet waste attracts other unwanted pests, including rats, which are a whole different nuisance.  If dogs could pick up after themselves, they probably would.  But since they can’t, it’s your responsibility to keep their living space clean so they can live happy, healthy lives.

The Community Aspect:
There’s nothing worse than sitting down to an outside summer meal of grilled burgers and fresh corn, only to lose your appetite when an eastern wind, wafting the all-too-familiar smell of an unkempt  yard two doors down, blows through.  Try to be considerate of the people in your neighborhood who spend a lot of time making their homes a place where they can kick back and relax.  Also, take into consideration how hard our community works to keep up the appearance of the Cooper Young historical district.

It’s the Law:
According to the Memphis City Code of Ordinance, section 5-63, it is unlawful for cat (yes, this pertains to you too) and dog owners to “fail to promptly remove and dispose of, in a sanitary manner, feces left by a dog or cat being handled by that person on property, public or private, other than the premises of the owner or handler of such dog or cat.”  You could face charges up to $50 for not being a responsible pet owner.

There are many devices on the market today designed for easy clean up.  You need only to take a trip to the local Petco for an array of disposal choices.

For the environmentally conscious dog walker, they offer biodegradable plastic bags that allow you to safely and sanitarily pick up Fido’s no-no’s and dispose of them in the trash.

If you’re the squeamish pet owner that shudders at the thought of feeling the warmth of Spot’s whatnot’s through a plastic bag, there is a jaw-like device with a long handle that grasps onto waste for quick removal.  Petco supplies the device for both grass and hard surfaces.

If you’re a pet owner on a budget, use an old-fashioned garbage bag or supermarket bag, stick your hand in it, grab the waste, invert the bag, tie it up and throw it away in the trash.

And for you busy pet owners, spend a few extra bucks each week to have someone else clean up after your pets.  Memphis’ own On Doody, a pet waste removal service in Memphis, TN, is happy to come clean up Lucky’s yuckies at a reasonable price.  They currently service many customers in the Cooper-Young district, and are pros at freeing your backyard of waste in an environmentally friendly manner.

And finally, don’t be embarrassed to pick up poop; it’s a crappy job, butt somebody has to do it, and since your pets can’t, that somebody is you.  Your neighbors and other passerby’s will appreciate your responsibility as a pet owner and the stance you have taken to keep the community beautiful.