Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Not Authentic

This is a major disclaimer for two reasons. First because I don't want anyone in middle America to mistakenly believe this is "Chinese food." Second because I would like to ward off the inevitable hate mail that is sure to ensue if I tried to pass this off as authentic. And this is as far from real Chinese food as you can get.

But I had a craving for fried rice and I've never made it before. I've made other actual honest to goodness authentic Chinese dishes before, but something about fried rice intimidates me. (In my defense, I would bet a million dollars that fried rice isn't an authentic Chinese dish to begin with, but I digress). So I took a short cut. A nonauthentic, cheater cheater pumpkin eater short cut. I bought packaged fried rice. (GASP - THE HORROR!) My only saving grace is my willingness to admit my secrets and not try to pass this off as anything more then it is - an easy weeknight meal that tastes good!

Cheater Pork Fried Rice
1 lb pork tenderloin, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 maui onion, diced
1 3/4 cup water
1 package fried rice
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 red pepper, thinly sliced

1) Cook pork in large skillet with olive oil over medium high heat until cooked through. Remove pork from pan.
2) Add onion to skillet and cook until softened.
3) Stir in water and fried rice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook covered 12 minutes.
4) Combine eggs and green onions. Pour over rice and cook 2 minutes covered.
5) Stir in red pepper and pork and cook until heated through.

Serves 4.
Each serving has:
Calories 358.1
Total Fat 13.5 g
Cholesterol 195.8 mg
Sodium 450.0 mg
Potassium 613.9 mg
Total Carbohydrate 16.2 g
Protein 36.9 g

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The wing's the thing

There's just something about chicken wings that makes them irresistible. Normally I prefer mine doused in spicy buffalo wing sauce and then dipped in creamy, tangy blue cheese - but really, I'm not all that picky. The variety of flavors that can be packed into these little numbers makes them a fun and easy meal. And I'm not the only one who thinks so as more and more "wing restaurants" pop up around us.

These were supposed to be both sweet and hot, but I was a little too conservative with the Franks red hot, so they came out more sweet then hot. Don't make the same mistake if you want a little kick with your wings. Even though they weren't spicy, these wings had us both licking our finger and Thatboy was very impressed with the fact that these were homemade and not storebought, which is always a compliment! (Side note - does anyone else notice the GAS RANGE the pan is sitting on? Love it.)

Sweet and Spicy Wings
1/2 Tbsp seasoned salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 lb "party pack" of chicken wings
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup orange marmalade
Franks Red Hot sauce to taste

1) In large ziplock bag combine salt, pepper, and chicken.
2) In large skillet cook butter and chicken over medium heat until throughly cooked, about 15-20 minutes. Remove to plate and keep warm.
3) In same skillet, bring marmalade and Franks red hot sauce to boil over high heat.
4) Return chicken to skillet, reduce heat to low and simmer, tossing to coat, 5 minutes or until heated through.

Serves 2.
Each serving has:
Calories 505.5
Total Fat 13.0 g
Cholesterol 131.3 mg
Sodium 272.2 mg
Potassium 429.1 mg
Total Carbohydrate 53.5 g
Protein 45.0 g

Monday, April 28, 2008

Review: Bath and Bodyworks Japanese Cherry Blossom Lotion

During the winter I use heavy duty boring lotion for my dry skin, so I love when spring comes along and I can use something lighter and yummier. For spring I love a light lotion with a sweet springy scent. Nothing too overpowering, and of course it still has to keep my skin soft......

What: Bath and Body Works Japanese Cherry Blossom Body Lotion
How Much: $9.50
Where to buy: Bath and Body Works
Review: I've been a Bath and Body Works fan since high school. What's not to like? Actually, you know what I don't like? Everytime I find a new favorite, they discontinue it. Bleh to them. Of course, that means I'm always discovering new scents and favorites. I like to pretend I don't like floral scents, but my favorite perfume is Marc Jacobs - a Gardenia scent. And now I can add another great floral. This one is very light and smells like a day in spring. Not a day in the garden with hundreds of flowers fighting for your attention. Not a summer day when the smell of flowers is sickeningly sweet. Instead its just a hint of "mmm what is the fresh scent?" And like every other BBW lotion, its intensely moisturizing without being heavy. Of course, now that I've told you all how much I love it, they're sure to pull this scent off the shelves and stick it with my juicy pear and ginger lime...

Sunday, April 27, 2008

It's Not Passover Anymore!

So now I can share with you some of the fantastic pre-moving food we've been eating. I'll combine it all in one post because frankly - it's not all that exciting, but it's kinda funny. These are the least recipe recipes in the world. I think Cara especially will get a big kick out of them.......based on recent conversations. A nickle to anyone who can guess what leftovers in the fridge and freezer I was trying to use up..... Note the gorgeous paper plates!

Quick Quesadillas
- Cook marinara sauce with onions and red peppers,
- Put on flour tortilla with shredded cheese and fold in half.
- Cook on stove top until golden brown on both sides.

Quick Cheese Dip
- Combine sour cream, taco seasoning, olives, shredded cheddar cheese, diced chiles, and chopped tomato.
- Heat in oven at 350 until cheese is melty and bubbly.

Quick Chicken and Veggie Fettuccine
- cook noodles until done
- grill chicken and cut into bite size pieces.
- Heat frozen mixed veggies.
- Combine all and toss with Alfredo sauce

Quick meatball sub
- heat meatballs and tomato sauce in saucepan until warmed through.
- Put on bun and top with shredded mozzarella and parmesean

Friday, April 25, 2008

Product Review: Johnson's 24 Hour Moisturizing Body Wash

There is a serious war that goes on in my household. It involves the shower. Actually, truth be told, there are quite a number of wars which involve the shower, which is a definite peril of marrying a man who is almost a foot taller than you. But this particular war is war of the body washes. I like my body washes SUPER moisturizing and creamy. Thatboy always has a problem with anything I pick. Either he thinks its too slimey, smells too girly, or doesn't lather enough. So I am constantly trying new products to see if they'll meet His Highness's approval. Now I'm sure you're all just thinking the easiest solution is 2 separate body washes. Hey! Do you think we're MADE of money? Does the bodywash fairy magically drop off products at your house? Actually, in all honestly, there's barely room in our shower for shampoo/conditioner/and 1 body wash container. If you want to wash your face, its helpful to shower as a team so one person can hold the container. And shaving can only be done with the door open and the shave gel on a counter almost within arms grasp. Seriously WHO designs bathrooms?

What: Johnson's Softwash 24 Hour Moisturizing Wash
How Much: $5.99
Where to buy: drugstores nation-wide
Review: Back to the drawing board. While the product is great in terms of creamy, non residuey, super lathery it has a serious drawback for each of us. Thatboy doesn't like the exfoliating beedies (which I swear to Gertrude he wouldn't know were there if it didn't say it on the package...but he's a little bit neurotic in that way). Personally, I CAN'T stand the smell. I kid you not, it makes me not want to shower. I have been reveling in my gym showers since purchasing this product and hoping Thatboy will use it up without me. I was trying to place the scent, and the closest I can get is baby vomit. Baby vomit that has been sitting out on a wash cloth for a couple hours in a warm room. It's like Johnson's tried to get the baby powder scent, but something went horribly, horribly awry.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Product Review: Dove Volumizing Conditioner

So growing up, I was very OCD about my clothes. Including the fact that everything had to match. Down to the underwear. I've gotten a million times better, and that extends to my hair. I used to NEED to have shampoo and conditioner that were the same brand. But now I just go for what works. Or what I have a coupon for......

What: Dove Volumizing Conditioner
How Much: $5.99
Where to buy: the supermarket
Review: The only problem with conditioner, is that I can't use it alone. It's hard to review because its always used in combination with shampoo. So let me tell you - this is cheap, it smells good, it makes my hair smell good, it makes my hair soft and it doesn't f-up all the hard work of my shampoo. Does it add to the shampoo? Maybe. But how would I know? I will tell you that the other morning I was VERY tired and I kept putting this on my poof and getting VERY annoyed that it wouldn't lather. However, before I noticed I was using the wrong product, I did notice it made my skin very soft too. So as far as I'm concerned this conditioner does everything a conditioner is supposed to do. And you can't beat the price. And the fact there are always coupons.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Product Review: Matrix Amplify Color XL Shampoo

I just want to start out with a super big shout out to my girls Haley and Katie. Thanks for the e-cards!!!! They both made me laugh and pumped me up.

In contrast to ubercool Haley and Katie, I had some pretty lame friends in high school. One of the things we would do was sit around and lunch and play "if you were a......" (I did preface this with the fact that they were pretty lame.) We played "if you were a dog, what kind of dog would you be?" (general consensus was that I would be a yorkie......), "if you were a character from Winnie the Pooh, which one would you be?" General consensus? I'd be Tigger. Because I'm bouncy bouncy bouncy bouncy fun fun fun fun fun. (Although in retrospect, it didn't take much with that group to be the "fun" one)

However, even though my personality might be bouncy, my hair never followed suit. Instead, if my hair were a character from Winnie the Pooh, it'd be Eeyore. Mopey, gloomy, and generally dejected. So like any good Tigger, I've tried to infuse a little bounce into my ole pal. I love love love my Matrix Full Body Texturizer, so I thought I'd try to build on that, starting with the first crucial hair step - my shampoo!

What: Matrix Amplify Color XL Shampoo
How Much: $16.50
Where to buy: any "beauty supply" store
Review: So right now there is color in my hair, but even if there wasn't I'm a huge fan of shampoos for color treated hair. I mean, its extra gentle and who doesn't want an extra gentle shampoo? And this one is volumizing too! I really have noticed a difference in my hair since I started using it. It claims to increase hair thickness and diameter and the scientist in me doesn't believe that actually happens, but my hair is noticeably fuller. I can also vouch that while the layering helps create bouncy bouncy bouncy hair, my hair still has volume even when I don't use the texturizing spray in addition to this faboo shampoo. I also love the way it smells. I forget until I get a whiff of Jon's head and think - oooooo someone washed his hair today!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I know I threatened no more food posts...

And honestly, I wasn't planning on participating in this month's Homegrown Gourmet, due to the lack of a kitchen, but tonight I got creative and it just happened to coincide with the Homegrown Gourmet theme AND was Passover friendly!

The plan for tonight's dinner was pretty simple. Sausage and veggies. Yeah. Sounds REALLY appetizing huh? And blog worthy?

And then when I was on my way home I had a brain flash of the redskin potatoes on top of our fridge. And remembered that Potato is the theme of Homegrown Gourmet. Sausage and potato is such a great comfort food for me. And then I started creating the entry more and more to make it truly "homegrown." I already had a head start with chorizo sausage. So why not make the dish entirely Southwestern? My only problem was how to cook it. A quick call home:

Me: Whatcha doing?
Jon: Packing.
Me: Okay, well have you packed the little pot that was in the sink?
Jon: Not yet.
Me: Okay, don't pack it.
Jon: okeeeeee....hey, I'm getting another call, can I call you back?
Me: Yeah, but don't pack the pyrex dish I took out of the dishwasher yesterday okay?
Jon: I packed that last night.
Me: What about the metal square pan?
Jon: Packed that last night too.
Me: Okay, don't pack ANYTHING else till I get home.

So he didn't. And I still didn't have anything to cook in. Until I remembered the pyrex bowl in the dishwasher. So out it came and I washed it by hand. Then I used it to make Southwestern Sausage Au Gratin.

Southwestern Sausage Au Gratin
4 red skin potaotes, sliced thinly
2 chorizo chicken sausages, casings removed
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded (I used a cabernet soaked cheddar from a local vineyard - which added a great color, and scared Jon into thinking he was eating raw meat - always a bonus)
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 Tbsp creama fresca
1/8 cup heavy cream

1) Preheat oven to 350. Heat pan over medium heat and cook crumbled sausage until browned.
2) Layer 1/2 potatoes. 1/2 sausage, 1/2 peppers, 1/2 cheeses and creama fresca.
3) Repeat layers of potatoes, sausage, peppers, and cheese.
4) Pour cream over top.
5) Cook for 45 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 4.
Each serving has:
Calories 187.9
Total Fat 12.1 g
Cholesterol 49.6 mg
Sodium 402.5 mg
Potassium 175.5 mg
Total Carbohydrate 7.9 g
Protein 12.1 g

The Catering Story

I was hoping to have pictures to go with this story, but I'll just have to share them with you when I get them.

We'll start at the beginning. Last month, Aline contacted me because she was throwing a baby shower for a friend and she wanted to know if I'd cater it. Because I seriously can't say no to a friend I said yes- and seriously how fun does that sound?

I recruited my partner in crime, Liz to help me. This girl is seriously amazing. Seriously. She's been my absolute rock the past couple of weeks and makes the most fantastic food ever. Besides that, she has separate cutting boards for "sweets" (like fruit) and "savories" (like onions). How could you not be madly in love. (I won't even get into the fact that she keeps buttercream frosting and sugar cookies in her freezer....just in case....)

We mapped out a brilliant menu that we didn't think would be very hard:
Chicken Satay with peanut sauce
Grilled shrimp skewers with pineapple salsa
Coconut rice
Roasted veggies
Fruit Salad
Spinach Salad in Wonton cups
Goat cheese, pesto, and sundried tomato torta
Banana Milk Shooters
Pineapple Passionfruit Punch
Cupcakes (Hi Hats and Chocolate with pink frosting)

The party started at 1, plan was to be there between 12 and 12:30 so we could set up the food before the guests arrived. We split up the prep work. By Saturday morning Liz had created GORGEOUS cupcakes, and I'd made the peanut sauce, won ton cups, salad dressing, and a couple tortas. Then came Saturday morning, a little play by play for you:

8:30 AM - I arrive at Liz's and bring in bags and bags and bags of groceries. We decide the first thing to do is marinate the chicken while we prepare everything else. I run down the street to drop off my car for an oil change.
*side note* When we got my car it came with free oil changes for life. The only problem is we don't live anywhere near the dealership. However, the dealership is literally .9 miles (ha!) away from Liz's place, so I figured I'd drop it off for an oil change and pick it up after the party.

9:30 AM - Liz comes to pick me up from the dealership since it took AN HOUR before they even took my car and the shuttle was showing no signs of being anywhere around. The coconut rice is already in the rice cookers bubbling away and the chicken is marinating.

10:30 AM - Veggies are chopped and roasted, fruit salad, pineapple salsa, banana milk all ready to go. We decide to assemble the salad, broil the shrimp, and make the punch at the party to keep everything as fresh as possible. That means, all we have left is to cook the chicken skewers! Easy peasy right?

11:30 AM - Chicken is still not cooked. No big deal, how much longer could it take right? We up the heat, rotate the skewers and pop them back in. At this point we load everything else up into the car.

12:30 PM - Chicken is now cooked, but a DISGUSTING shade of white. Really pale and gloopy. Like dead fingers reaching from the grave. Not appetizing. We call Aline and let her know we're running a little late. Change the oven to broil and look at each other. Liz gets the brilliant idea that we should pan fry the chicken skewers just a bit to get them nice and brown. Only problem? The skewers are a little too long for the pans. At this point we're both standing over her stove with hot oil everywhere trying to brown the chicken. At one point I tell her I hate us. She mentions numerous times that she's not too fond of the chicken. We're hot, we're cranky, and thank goodness we can't stop laughing at the ridiculousness of the situation or someone would have ended up with a skewer in their eye or hot oil on their arms (I am REALLY sorry about that Liz).

1:30 PM - Remember how the party started at 1? Well we're not there yet, but at least we're on our way. Finally. I'm still not sure if the chicken was actually browned or our eyes just willed us to believe it wasn't a sickly white. We only get lost once and make it to the party at 1:45 PM where we start assembling salad and punch and setting things on the table. Remember the grilled shrimp? Yeah never happened. Luckily there was enough chicken to feed 100 people, so I doubt the shrimp was missed, but still.... We're apologizing profusely the entire time, although no one seems to mind and everyone is raving about both the food and the presentation. (Liz confides in me on our way home that everyone was so hungry we probably could have fed them cardboard and they would have been happy. And honestly, cardboard takes a lot less time to prepare.......just a tip......)

2:30 PM - We're on our way home. We laugh the entire time and vow never to do this again. By the time we get back to her place, Liz decides this was really fun and I decide if I ever get into a jam I want Liz there with me. We vow that although we may not do this for others again, we're definitely going to help each other throw more parties. We both go home and take naps.

Things I learned from this experience:
1) Chicken Satay is the devil. Next time just serve chicken salad - or as Liz called our gloppy mess - Chicken Casserole.
2) If you were going to be President, make sure you have Liz as your running mate.
3) People will eat just about anything if you serve it with banana milk.
4) When in doubt, add garlic salt or white chocolate.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Product Review: Relastin

Okay, we now break from our usual program because really? Cooking this week is SO not happening. I do have some backlogged recipes and pictures, but seeing as how I can't have any good food this week, I think y'all should suffer with me.

Why is cooking not happening? Well first because I no longer have a pot or pan that doesn't reside in brown cardboard box sealed with packing tape. Second because it's Passover! That means for the next week there is no flour, wheat, oat, spelt, corn, beans, rice, pasta, soy, or anything derived from those items allowed. So unless y'all want a lot of recipes for "matzah topped with cheese" "baked potatoes" and "salad" it'd be a pretty boring week.

I will however give you a quick review of the weekend. It involved a TON of packing. Yeah it was real exciting. Although after me and Liz's first and last catering gig on Saturday, we didn't need any more excitement. Note to others: Chicken satay is the devil. The absolute devil.

So if we're not doing recipes this week, I'll go back to another favorite - product reviews. I take excellent care of my eyes, I'm very paranoid since I love being able to see. I extend occular care to the skin around my eyes, it's VERY sensitive skin, and since I wear eye makeup every day to work, I want to make sure I take care of it.

In general I pamper my eyes with Kiehls Abyssine eye cream. But I ran out earlier this year, and since I had a gift certificate to, I thought maybe I'd check to see whether "you get what you pay for." We've all heard of really expensive moisturizers and lotions and how they're supposed to be so much better for your skin. So I thought I'd check to see if that held true for eye cream. I had read about Relastin in a bunch of magazines and product blogs, and couldn't bear the thought of spending over twice what I usually spend on eyecream, but a gift certificate's not REAL money....

What: Relastin Eye Silk
How Much: $69.00
Where to buy: Relastin, Amazon
Review: I've been using this for about 3-4 months now, and I must say, I'm not impressed. I figured this was a good time in my life to test this out since I'm beginning to develop bags from lack of sleep. I mean, blues and purples are definitely my colors, but for some reason they're not that attractive under my eyes. Neither is the puffiness. Usually the Kiehls stuff keeps me looking fresh and rested - this Relastin? Not so much. And when I look tired? I feel even more tired. So I'm just as happy I only spent fake money on this stuff, since it's not so hot at making me feel so hot. However, I can say it makes my skin feel super silky and soft. So I guess if you want silky eyes, this is the way to go!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Another fun definition: Bruschetta

So there's a whole group of people that get their panties in a bunch over misuse of the word brushetta. I'm not one of them, but just in case you ever run across them in your day to day life I'll help you out a bit. Bruschetta does not refer to a bread topped with tomato/basil/oil mixture, but rather, just the grilled bread itself.

This has been a loooong week. I've been pulling a ton of all nighters lately(which aren't really all nighters, but any time I get less than 6 hours of sleep I call it an all nighter) and this week was no different. I seriously thought the week would never end! And since I've got my first catering gig tomorrow (I promise I'll go to bed soon Liz) my day didn't end when I got home from work. But such is the life. I like to look for the light at the end of the tunnel, so tonight on my 2 hour drive home I kept thinking "only 1 more week of this drive." I wish I had something more to look forward to like an end to long weeks, a break from work, a vacation, pretty much anything, but the last of the long drives will have to be what keeps me going for the next week. And my light at the end of the tunnel for tonight? Another Friday night snack. Mexican Bruschetta.

Mexican Bruschetta
1 baguette, sliced
olive oil
2 Tbsp lime juice
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can corn, drained
1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
1 tsp chopped jalepeno

1) Preheat broiler. Brush each slice of baguette with olive oil and place on baking pan under broiler. Broil 1-2 minutes each side, or until golden brown.
2) Combine remaining ingredients.
3) Top slices with bean/corn mixture.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Platinum Chef Roundup

I was really excited to see how many new participants this round of Platinum Chef turned out. It's always good to have fresh life and new interest, and the participants may have been new, but you'd never guess it from the skillful way they took the challenge and ran with it.

Jaime of Burnt Toast's first entry turned the classic steak and potatoes into a Platinum Chef masterpiece. She topped her steaks with a caper vinaigrette and served it alongside rosemary leek mashed potatoes. Now I admit to adding leeks to a lot of dishes, but I'd never added it to mashed potatoes. But after reading Jaime and her husband's rave reviews of these potatoes I can see that the addition makes perfect sense and am kicking myself for not trying it before.

I fear Meghan of Joy Through Cooking cursed my name throughout the challenge as she discovered a newfound hatred for capers. However she used the little buggers in two different recipes, an asparagus and caper soup and a caper tapenade. Well Meghan, we're even because I don't like asparagus! However, I'd be more than happy to take any leftover tapenade you have hanging about - looks fantastic!

Lynn from Lunch with Lynn used the ingredients to make a chicken with balsamic mushrooms and risotto. The risotto contained leeks, cream, and rosemary and she placed a lemon grilled chicken breast atop. Then came the mushrooms marinated with capers and balsamic vinaigrette. Not only does her dish sound delicious, but it also plates quite nicely!

Nicole from Art and Aioli almost killed herself in participating. Okay, that might be a little dramatic, but she did sacrifice her hand to the "hot pan" gods in preparation of her brunch - both of us thought we were being oh so original by making breakfast foods. Don't you hate when someone else comes up with your brilliant idea? Nicole made lemon rosemary scones and a leek omelette. Her omelette was filled with smoked salmon, dill cream, and capers. Salmon and capers? It's like she knows my family or something.

Nina of Nina's Kitchen used the ingredients that made even this non-fish lover drool. Her Grilled yellowfin tuna with Roasted leek risotto used a lemon-infused olive oil and a caper dressing. The lemon-infused olive oil peaked my interest, because I've been infusing olive oil with herbs and garlic, but never fruit! I can imagine it added brilliantly to the fish, and the colors just sing "spring."

Tpox of Proceed with Caution had every intention of submitting Tilapia in a parchment pouch which looked gorgeous, but didn't taste the way it looked. Instead of submitting in anyway and crossing her fingers that no one would make it, she went back to the drawing board and submitted a Creamy Chicken and Pasta. I adore creamy pasta with chicken and artichoke hearts, and the leeks seem like the perfect complement!

Our fearless leader, Cara from Cara's Cravings submitted a dish that made me wish I'd never opened her entry near my husband. Her Rosemary-Parmesan scallops in a tomato caper sauce over lemon leek "linguine" had him almost licking the screen. But really, can you blame him? It's colorful, its bright, it has Parmesan - and I never cease to be amazed by Cara's use of vegetables to replace pasta.

Dela had written down a recipe with every intention of entering this challenge, but time and perfectionism got the better of her. However, since I read her blog even when she's not promising to participate in Platinum Chef (I literally rewrote my original sentence to keep the alliteration), I noticed she posted a recipe with rosemary and leek and wanted to give her honorary mention. See what good sports we are here at Platinum Chef Challenge? Besides, I'm always looking for good potato recipes around Passover!

The day Dani posted her Platinum Challenge Entry, Jon and I had just finished watching an On-Demand episode of Every Day Italian where Giada helped her neighbor with a bake sale. In the episode, she made snowcones to sell at the bake sale after asking "who says you have to have baked goods at a bake sale?" Although it's pointless to argue with the television about how the name "bake sale" connotes baked goods, Jon and I both gave it our best shot. And then went out to buy popsicles. Although, after seeing Dani's entry, I should have just waited and made her lemon-rosemary granitas! Paired with her caper leek risotto, Dani's entry won me over hook line and sinker. Therefore I pass the torch of the next round to her, and request that she pass me one of her granitas! So everyone check out Make No Little Meals for the next installment of Platinum Chef!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Good Karma Train Just Keeps Rolling

So as you may or may not remember, one of my goals for the year was to be kinder and gentler and therefore increase my karma. It's obviously happening because good things keep happening to me. New job, new apartment, we finally get to move out of Orange County....

And more little surprises keep dropping from the sky. Like today for instance. I'm sitting in my big girl office, minding my own business when I get a page from the front desk letting me know opposing counsel from one of my cases is on the phone. I had sent him a VERY intimidating letter last week (okay not intimidating at all, basically a love note asking if they could please send us overdue responses) so I was all prepared for him to start arguing with me about deadlines and semantics. Instead he wants to tell me they're dismissing the case. I made him repeat himself just so I could be sure. Yup. They've decided not to pursue a case against our client. Yay!!!! Client is pleased as punch and bossman comes in to tell me how happy he is because we actually MADE money on this case. For those of you who don't know, I work in an area of law where we have a flat fee agreement with our clients and therefore, when we have long/lengthy/involved cases we far exceed the money the clients have agreed to pay. When we get rid of a case early, we haven't used up that flat fee and therefore make a profit. We hardly ever make any money - cases just don't get dismissed this early or easily.

In addition, I promised Haley I would do a pictureless blog about our fantabulous date last night. See as soon as dinner started I realized I'd forgotten my camera, but Haley made me promise I'd blog anyway. (someone's searching for her 15 minutes of fame....) So Haley and I met up "fashionably late" and went to the hottest new place for after work cocktails. The back patio of the Alumni Center of our law school. Haley was oh so trendy in her green and white top and I was equally as fetching in a camel cami with black cardigan. We grabbed our drinks of choice and stood back to check out the scene. We got to hear the birthstory of the daughter of "America's favorite professor" (in quotes because this refers to how he views himself) which took almost as long as the birth itself. It didn't take too long before we were joined by some of our favorites and we did a quick check to make sure everyone was still alive and suffering through their first year as grownups. Then we were herded into the alumni center for the LONGEST AWARD CEREMONY EVER. However, I do believe award ceremony might have been a misnomer, since it seems that half of the ceremony was spent explaining known facts, and the other half was spent patting themselves on the back. I may have missed something though since the microphone didn't carry to outer Tibet where we were sitting. We did engage in a charming war with the table beside us who insisted on trying to turn down the heating lamps every time we increased the flame. (It was exactly like that scene from Sleeping Beauty with the changing dress color). Haley and I quickly figured out that we could probably heat the room a little better if we closed the doors beside us that led outside. That helped a lot. After the ceremony, we tried to say goodbye to one of our mentors, but after waiting in line and getting cut in front of twice we called it a night and head off to our respective husbands. Not even a good night kiss. I'd say it was the worst date ever, but another one of my dates with Haley involved standing outside in the pouring rain while waiting to get into a concert where we sat on benches...of course, that date did end with her coming back to my hotel room....

And my final "Go Kate" of the day comes from Sarah who was kind enough to bestow another blogging award on this little piece of internet drivel. It's the "Blogging with a Purpose Award." I do have to admit I feel a little bad, because one of the things Sarah likes about this blog is the nutritional content, and the last couple entries left that out - no worries, it'll be back just as soon I finish the Platinum Chef Roundup.

And now I get to nominate 5 bloggers for the award!
1. Cara from Cara's Craving has discovered more ways to create vegetable noodles than anyone I know. I believe it started with spaghetti squash, but it has expanded to create amazingly rich pasta dishes with no pasta to be found. Healthy eating has never been easier.

2. Lauren from Catch Up with the Kutzs is someone I knew in real life before I began reading her blog (gasp). We're constantly trading places back and forth. She started law school before me, I got married before her, we moved to the area where they just bought a house, and now that they're their we're trying to get out as soon as possible. My husband, her husband, Lauren, and I all attended UCLA together - in fact, her hubs and my hubs were even in the same fraternity. It's such a small world isn't it?

3. Katie from Good Things Catered must have a hundred arms and sleep 15 minutes a day. I don't know how she's able to get half the things done that she does. I am constantly impressed by her. Yet her blog makes it all look so effortless.

4. Sarah from Chomping the Big Apple documents life in the big city, in a tiny kitchen. I have hope that in our new "half the size" kitchen I'll still be able to whip up fantastic dishes, just like Sarah does. She also is a great resource if you're looking to find some great NY restaurants! I know when I finally drag Jon there later this year/next year we're going to some of her new favorite haunts.

5. Bubbles from Coffee Bean, Cupcakes-N-Cats is a Southern Californian trapped in Tahoe. I don't think she means to, but her rants always make me smile since I'd trade places with her anyday. She misses Southern California and hates the snow. Meanwhile, I miss the snow and am not as impressed with Southern California as the rest of the world. Although, maybe when I stop having to sit in traffic 3-4 hours a day I'll feel a little different.

Award-winners, here's what you should do:
1. nominate 5 blogs which haven't had this award before
2. each of the blogs must have a purpose
3.the nominated blogs must make a link back to this page
4. the logo from the award must be put on their blog and it must link back to this blog!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A new event!

I feel a special loyalty to bloggers whose blogs I read. So when one (or two) of them decide to host a blogging event, I feel it is my duty to contribute. Partly because how sad would it be to throw a party and have no one show up? Not that that's a worry for Robin or Danielle. I'm sure they'll have no shortage of entries in their new blogging event: Recipe Remix.

The idea behind the event is to take classics and change them up a bit. Get it? Remix? They posted a list of six "staple dishes"

- Shepherd’s Pie

- Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup

- Baked Ziti

- Franks & Beans

- Tacos

- Meatloaf

The entrants then take "that dish to a different creative level."

As soon as I saw the list I knew I wanted to make the grilled cheese and tomato soup. It was one of my favorite meals growing up and I hadn't had it in ages. There were only 2 problems. 1) Jon hates grilled cheese and tomato soup. Sorry, I should clarify. He hates tomato soup. He loves grilled cheese.
2) This weekend when I planned to make it, the weather soared into the 90s. UGGGHHH. So not soup weather. I wanted something cool and something I didn't have to make in the oven that would heat up our entire apartment. But who ever heard of cold soup? And then I remembered. GAZPACHO!!!! Cold tomato soup. Perfect! I checked my fave cookbooks and sure enough, B&G came to my rescue once again. Once I decided on gazpacho I was literally dreaming of fresh tomatoes. I love tomatoes, I love the smell, I love the taste - it was almost unbearable not to take a big bite of my tomatoes before chopping them up.

To go with my Spanish summer soup, I wanted an equally Spanish grilled cheese. So why not add Spanish olives to my grilled cheese sandwich? Why not indeed. Now may be a good time to tell you we never had true grilled cheese sandwiches growing up - not that I ever knew that. See when I was growing up, my parents called healthy things by unhealthy names so I wouldn't know I was eating healthy. For instance, they convinced me that "cookies" were actually crackers up until I was in elementary school. To this day I still call frozen yogurt "ice cream." And "grilled cheese"? Well Jon informs me that what my family calls "grilled cheese" is actually known by the rest of the world as "toasted cheese."

Well as Shakespeare said, "What's in a name, it's the taste that matters" or something quite similar (because in reference to that quote my changing makes the scene a little racier). And the taste? While Jon wasn't a huge fan of the olives in his grilled cheese, he loved the Gazpacho. He complemented the flavors, the texture, the spice, he even had seconds! (Either I make amazing soups or my poor husband isn't getting enough food on a regular basis since this is the second time this week he went searching for seconds).

As for me, I liked the added tang the olives gave the sandwich, but I do love salty additions. And the Gazpacho? I can't think of a nicer treat to the end of a long hot April day.

4 cups roughly chopped tomatoes
1/2 medium English cucumber, roughly chopped (note - if you use a regular cuke, make sure you peel and seed it first)
1/2 cup onion, roughly chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, roughly chopped
1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 celery stalk, peeled and roughly chopped
4 cups of tomato juice (I used WAAAAAAY less - just one can)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
tabasco, salt, and pepper to taste

1) Combine tomatoes, cucumber, onion, pepper, carrot, and celery in medium bowl. Working in batches, pulse in food processor until mixture is combined and chunky. Transfer each batch to large bowl.
2) Add tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, tabasco, salt, and pepper to bowl and stir.
3) Cover and refrigerate 4 hours-overnight (I didn't read this step until it was too late so we put it in the fridge, took Ringo to the dogpark, came home and made the toasted cheese sandwich and then took it out of the fridge. It tasted great anyway. So there.)

Toasted Cheese with Olives
2 cups mexican blend grated cheese
1/2 cup pimento stuffed green olives, chopped
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup scallions, chopped
1/2 tsp tabasco sauce
alt and pepper
1 baguette, halved and slice in half

1) In medium bowl, combine cheese, olives, sour cream, scallion, and tabasco.
2) Season with salt and pepper and spread on baguette.
3) Toast sandwiches until cheese has melted.