Monday, February 28, 2011

Wisdom Teeth.

As if it wasn't terrifying enough to see the dentist last week, I had to have a consultation with an oral surgeon today. My wisdom teeth are *gulp* getting extracted on Friday. All 4 of those bad boys have got to go, but one in particular is causing the most stress....
After the oral surgeon examined me, I was left alone in the exam room with a stack of paperwork to fill out. I scanned over the paperwork, initialed everywhere as indicated, sat patiently, got bored... 

I started reading the posters on the walls and the pamphlets on the counter describing the surgery.. It made me jittery. My palms started sweating after I read about how they extract an impacted wisdom tooth. I started impulsively doing things- I straightened out all the magazines, neatly stacked the pamphlets, washed my hands.. I realized I was acting crazy.

I opted to sit back down and compose myself. I decided to take advantage of this time alone; I would re-read my paperwork and make sure I thoroughly understood my pre-op instructions ...I ended up circling all the typos on their forms. There is no room for grammatical or spelling errors on a medical form informing me there is a rare chance I might suffer permanent nerve damage, a broken jaw, or die of cardiac arrest under anesthesia. I really hope they don't notice my corrections and ask me about them on Friday. I'll be mortified. I'm sure they've had other anxious patients, but who gets nervous and compulsively proof-reads?
On the bright side.. Someone told me they lost 20 pounds after they had their wisdom teeth removed- that'd be awesome.

Fish Tacos for Two.


Baja Sauce
  • 1/4 of a red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 2 T. diced onions
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 T. cilantro
  • 1/4 c. mayo
  • 1/4 c. sour cream
  • 2 t. vinegar
  • 1/4 t. black pepper
  • dash of cumin
  1. In a food processor or blender, puree the bell pepper, jalapeno, onions, and garlic until smooth. 
  2. In a small bowl, combine the mayo, sour cream, vinegar, pepper, and cumin. Stir in the pureed vegetable mix. Refrigerate at least 3 hours to allow flavors to combine.

Unfortunately, I do not have a food processor, nor do I have a blender. 
I blame this on the fact that I am unmarried. 
People don't BUY food processors or blenders for themselves... they register for them. 
Maybe one day... But until then- I use my handy little Cuisinart Mini-Prep. Lime Green. Totally cutesy. 
Smells like I'm burning out the motor EVERY time I use it. Eek.
It doesn't really 'puree' so I just hit 'chop' 'grind' 'chop' 'grind' over and over.

Mahi Strips
  • 1 large Mahi-Mahi Fillet, sliced about 1/3" - 1/2" thick
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1/4 cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 t. Fajita Seasoning
  1. Mix the fajita seasoning & flour together. Season the fillet slices with salt and pepper. Coat with fillets slices with the seasoned flour. 
  2. Heat a few tablespoons of canola oil in a medium pan. Once the pan is hot, cook the fish until golden-brown and cooked through. About 4 minutes per side
  3. Drain on paper towels


While cooking the fish, prep the condiments & heat the corn tortillas.
I served mine with:
Quick Pico (Diced Tomato, Scallions & Cilantro)
Shredded White Cheddar
Diced Avocado
Shredded Cabbage
Lime Wedges
& Baja Sauce

Beautiful Man. :)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday Lasagna

It seems like every time I have people over, I'm still slavin' away in the kitchen when they arrive because.. well, because I'm running late! I have poor time management skills in the kitchen, and that is a fact. So I'm opting for something I can make the day before: lasagna!
My lasagna is a weekend-long affair. I start the sauce Saturday morning because I like to let it simmer for at least 3 hours. I assemble the lasagna on Saturday afternoon, and throw it in the fridge until Sunday afternoon.

World's Best (& only recipe I've ever tried to make..) Lasagna
Feeds 8-10 people.


Saturday Morning
Meat-Sauce
  • 1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage
  • 1/2 pound hot Italian sausage
  • 3/4 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 large or 2 small yellow onion, minced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 6-10 cloves garlic, crushed 
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes or tomato puree [is there a difference?]
  • 1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2/3 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  1. Brown the Italian sausages (casings removed) and lean ground beef in a large pot. Drain the fat (leave about a tablespoon in the pot)- set the meat aside.
  2. Cook the onions in the pot you browned the meat. Once the onions are translucent, add the meat back into the pot, along with the garlic. 
  3. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and water. 
  4. Season with brown sugar, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, black pepper, and pepper flakes.
  5. Simmer, covered, for 2 hours. Taste the sauce- if it still has an acidic bite to it, stir in one more tablespoon of brown sugar.
  6. Stir in the fresh parsley and basil, simmer for another hour.



Saturday Afternoon
Assembling the Lasagna
  • Lasagna Noodles
  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • dash of nutmeg
  • 3/4 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Soak the lasagna noodles in hot tap water for 20-30 minutes. They won't be cooked, but they will become soft (they'll finish cooking in the oven).
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, parsley, egg, salt, and nutmeg.
  3. In a 9" x 13" dish (preferably a deep one!), spread 1 1/2 cups of the meat sauce. Arrange a layer of noodles over the meat sauce. Spread half of the ricotta cheese mixture over the noodles. Arrange a third of the mozzarella cheese over the ricotta, sprinkle with parmesan. Meat sauce..noodle... cheese.. Then..uh..Hmm.. I'm confusing myself typing this out. Let's just do this in list-form!!
Lasagna Layers
    • 1 1/2 cup meat sauce
    • lasagna noodles
    • 1/2 ricotta cheese mixture
    • 1/4 lb. mozzarella slices
    • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
    • 1 1/2 cup meat sauce
    • lasagna noodles
    • 1/2 ricotta cheese mixture
    • 1/4 lb. mozzarella slices
    • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
    • 1 1/2 cup meat sauce
    • lasagna noodles
    • 1 1/2 cup meat sauce
    • 1/4 lbs. mozzarella slices
    • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
Now cover this bad boy with aluminum foil, throw it in the fridge, and do all those dishes!

Sunday Afternoon
Remove the lasagna from the fridge about 3 hours before you plan on serving it. Bring it to room temperature on the counter for about an hour before you bake it, then plan on it taking longer in the oven then you expect, because that's how life goes

Sunday Evening
Baking the Lasagna.
Bake the covered lasagna in a 350 degree oven for 60-75 minutes.
Remove the foil, raise the oven temperature to 375, and bake for an additional 25 minutes (until the cheese looks beautiful!)
Remove the lasagna from the oven, and let it sit for 10 minutes before serving.

My Lasagna Tips:
  • I made the lasagna in a 9" x 13" pan because I was feeding 6 adults and 3 children, but normally I prefer to make it in two smaller pans (usually 8" or 9" square pans). It's especially convenient to make them in disposable pans, throw one in the freezer and have a pre-made meal for a weeknight (leave the frozen lasagna in the fridge overnight to thaw before baking). I think I prefer making them in two separate pans because.. well.. Did you see 'The Family Stone' with Sarah Jessica Parker? I worry about dropping the big pans. 
  • Before you cover the lasagna pans, lightly spray the foil with Pam or any other non-stick cooking spray. It'll prevent the cheese from sticking to the foil while it's baking, which will help keep the top of your lasagna beaaaautiful!
  • Don't over-sauce the lasagna! It's so tempting to put a thick layer of sauce on, but it'll make the lasagna borderline impossible to serve because the noodles will slip and slide all over the sauce, thus creating a big 'ol weird looking lasagna pile on your plate. There WILL be leftover sauce! A LOT of leftover sauce! You could make two giant lasagnas with the amount of sauce this recipe makes. Just throw it in some tupperware and use it later in the week, or freeze it for another use later.

Lazy Dessert.

Lemon Meringue Pie & Tiramisu just seemed too ambitious for tonight.
So I made...

Lazy Ice Cream Cake.
Ingredients:
  • 12 ice cream sandwiches, any flavor
  • Ice cream, any flavor- softened
  • Ice cream topping, such as caramel, hot fudge, strawberry, etc.
  • Whipped Topping
Line an 8" x 8" pan with saran wrap. Using half the sandwiches, make a single layer. 

Cover the ice cream sandwiches with softened ice cream- try to make an even layer. 
I used about 1/3 of a tub of Cookies 'n Cream.

Cover the ice cream with a thin layer of hot fudge. It looks... not beautiful.

Finish the layers off with the remaining ice cream sandwiches. 
Throw the pan in the fridge for about an hour so the ice cream can harden.

Once the ice cream has hardened, invert the pan onto the plate you'll serve it from.
"Frost" the cake with the whipped topping.

I tried to get fancy and made lines of caramel & chocolate sauce, then dragged a toothpick in alternating directions to create the design.
Return the cake to the freezer until ready to serve.

Easiest Dessert Ever.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Favorite Things.



Murad Mattifying Face Lotion
You will never be shiny again.


MAC Eyeshadows 
Nylon for highlighting
Vanilla or Naked Lunch for all-over
Tempting is my all-time favorite brown


Dior HydrAction Tinted Moisturizer
Light coverage. Moisturizing. Perfect


Aquaphor
Lip-balm.
Dry heel remedy.
I put it on scabs.
I'll use it on my cuticles.
It's a cure-all.


NARS Blush in Orgasm
Universally flattering.


Dr. Pepper LipSmackers
Because I'm mature.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Dijon.


Dijon mustard. What the heck am I doing with Dijon mustard in my fridge!? 
Decided to try to have a Dijon mustard-themed night. I know, it's just so exciting.

Honey-Dijon Grilled Porkchops.
Pear & Gorgonzola Salad w/ Balsamic Vinaigrette.
Roasted Asparagus.

Honey-Dijon Grilled Porkchops
  • 3 T. Honey
  • 2 T. Dijon Mustard*
  • 1 ½  t. white wine vinegar
  • Couple shakes of salt.
  • Several shakes of pepper.
  • Splash of Worcestershire
  • 2 lbs. Thin-cut boneless pork chops

  1. Whisk together the honey, Dijon mustard, vinegar, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire. 
  2. Marinate the pork, covered, for 30 minutes.
  3. Grill the porkchops until done over medium heat (4-5 minutes each side). I wish I could offer more advice on that, but I just handed them over to Michael and he took care of the grilling!
*I would have preferred to use a grainy mustard, but all I had on hand was a smooth dijon. Sometimes you just have to work with what you have!


Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • ¼ cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 T. White Wine Vinegar*
  • 1 T. Dijon Mustard
  • Salt & Pepper
  • ¼ t. Sugar
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
I threw together a mixed green salad with thin slices of bosc pears and gorgonzola cheese. Pear & Gorgonzola salads are one of my all-time favorites, and I think this is the perfect dressing for them.

*The balsamic vinegar I used is a really thick, sweet aged balsamic- I added a tablespoon of white wine vinegar to make the dressing a little more acidic- I don’t think this would be necessary if I had used a different balsamic. By the way, my balsamic vinegar (and a really delicious flavored olive oil that I absolutely love to use) came from a beautiful, unique little shop in Prescott, Olive U.


Asparagus

  • Arrange asparagus in a single-layer on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. 
  • Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle on some salt & pepper.
  • Roast at 400 degrees until tender. Approximately 10-15 minutes, less if the stalks are thin.


Totally delicious dinner. I wish I had leftovers!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Chicken Noodle Soup


After a traumatic day at the dentist (found out I have to have all my wisdom teeth extracted, sob.), I’ve decided to comfort myself. With food. How typical.
Costco makes, by far, the best chicken noodle soup in the entire world. If I can make this taste 1/10th as delicious as Costco does, I’ll consider it a success.
  • 2 lbs. Chicken Breasts (with skin & bone)
  • 4 quarts (16 cups) Water
  • 3 cubes Chicken Bouillon
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, whole
  • 4-5 Carrots, diced*
  • 4-5 Stalks of Celery (plus the leaves), diced*
  • 1 small Yellow Onion, diced
  • 1 t. Salt
  • 1 t. Turmeric
  • ½ t. Black Pepper
  • 1-2 T. Parsley (I used freeze-dried because I didn’t have any fresh parsley on hand)
  • ½ t. Dried Thyme (Didn’t have any thyme on hand so I sub’d Poultry Seasoning from World Market- consists of marjoram, sage, and rosemary)
  • 1 16-oz bag of frozen egg noodles

*I like my soup to have lots of big, chunky vegetables. Everything was a really large dice. Also, I didn’t have any on hand- but I usually like to throw in a few diced parsnips. Yum.

Bring the chicken, water, and bouillon cubes to a boil in a large pot. Reduce the heat and simmer for 35 minutes. I obsessively skimmed the top every 2 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the pot, and pull as much meat from the bones as you can. Continue to simmer the broth on low. I like to leave the chicken in larger pieces, but you could shred it if you prefer smaller pieces of chicken. Discard the skin.


Set the meat aside, and return the bones to the broth.  At this point, I also added ¼ of the onion, the ugly bits of the celery, and a carrot. I don’t know why- I think I just really wanted to have some color in that ugly pot of boiling chicken parts. Simmer the bones  and whole garlic cloves for 45-60 minutes.  Skim the surface to remove the fat.


Remove the bones, ugly bits of vegetables left over, and garlic cloves (if you can find them! Mine were elusive little shits.) Add in your chopped up celery, carrots, and onions! Also add your salt, spices & herbs. Stir to combine and simmer for 10 minutes.


Add the meat and noodles. Turn the heat up and cook for an additional 8-10 minutes, until the noodles are done.


If you’re like Michael- add a million smashed saltine crackers.

And if you’re like me- squirt in some Sriracha. And stage a giant unflattering bite for the camera.

Odontophobia: Fear of the Dentist

Is it normal to feel like you're going to fall over and die at the dentist? I always thought I was only unrealistically afraid of crickets. Now I'm realizing I also have a paralyzing fear of the dentist- which explains why I've put this off for NINE YEARS! Let's pray he doesn't pull all my teeth out and make me start over...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Rushcocks.

I've found "the one". It's gross how much I adore him.

That javelina he's sitting with? He killed it. 
Those moccasins he's wearing? We have matching pairs.
That magazine? It's Field & Stream.

He can fix anything, always offers to help with the dishes, is great with children, makes me laugh all.the.time, looks gorgeous in a plain white t-shirt, and has never burnt anything on the grill. He's a chocolate chip cookie connoisseur, one of the few twenty-somethings I know who is actually good with money, and uses a level & tape measure every time he hangs anything on the walls. Such a dream boat.

Please note his nose-hair trimmer among all my beauty products. Sigh.

He also... hates nuts, his truck smells like wet dog (we don't have a dog..) all the time, he's boycotting kale after trying it once, demands his back be scratched for, like, 18 hours of the day, doesn't make the bed, and splashes water all over the mirror every time he brushes his teeth and washes his face. I can always find his dirty socks in the living room; sometimes I swear he doesn't even knows where we keep our dirty clothes hamper? Even with his little quirks, he's the best S.O. of all time.

And don't let his manly-man exterior fool you. He's also a true romantic- he bought me a water cooler for Valentine's Day.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Oatmeal Cookies

Baking is therapeutic for me. After a rough day at school, it's pretty common for me to come straight home and bake something. Today was one of those days. You'd want to bake oatmeal cookies too if you had to study this all day. 
Yeah, that's the actual chart I was tested on today. Torture.


So, oatmeal cookies.. I think this is the most versatile, forgiving oatmeal cookie recipe of all time. Will they help me forget about the lab practical I think I failed earlier today? Probably not. But I'll find comfort in the extra calories getting deposited into my system.




Oatmeal Cookie Base
  • 1 stick [1/2 c.] unsalted butter, softened but still cool
  • 1/2 c. light brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 t. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 t. baking powder
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1 1/2 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together.
  3. Beat the butter until creamy.  Add the sugars and beat (by hand or on medium speed in a stand-up mixer) until light and fluffy (3-4 minutes). Add the egg and vanilla, mix until well-combined.
  4. Stir the dry ingredients into the butter mixture with either a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Stir in the oats.
  5. Using a rounded tablespoon, form the dough into 1-inch balls. Place them at least 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets.
  6. Bake for approx. 10 minutes. The edges should be browned, but the rest of the cookie will still look very light. Cool on the rack for two minutes before either moving to a wire rack, or just throwing the parchment paper & the cookies onto a cool surface (such as your countertop).
I added 3/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1/3 c. Heath toffee bits to my batter, along with the oats.


Other variations I've tried:
  • Oatmeal-Raisin:
    • 1/8 t. nutmeg, 1/4 t. cinnamon added to the flour mixture. 
    • 3/4 c. raisins stirred in with the oats.
  • Cranberry-Orange w/ White Chocolate Chip:
    • Substitute orange extract for the vanilla extract (or use 1 T. fresh orange zest)
    • 3/4 c. dried cranberries, 1/3 cup white chocolate chips stirred in with oats. 



Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Gym

I've been eating too many red vines. It's a problem. I bought the huge tub of them, and now the tub is almost gone- this is very worrisome to me.

So.. I joined a gym! I threw in the exclamation mark, but I didn't really mean it- I'm not excited.

When I signed up, I received 3 free personal training sessions. Sweeeet! [Or so I thought...] My personal trainer is 5'2'', 125 pounds. When I break that down- that's 115lbs of pure muscle, 5lbs of bone, and probably 5lbs of protein shakes and gatorade. This girl is unreal. She's a professional wrestler in her free time! Needless to say, I almost died during our first workout session. After she worked out my arms, I couldn't wash my hair for two days- that is not an exaggeration.

Tonight was training session #2. I can't help but laugh about my work-out tonight. God forbid we spare me the humiliation of being about as strong as a loaf of white bread in front of all these muscular men. The men all around me were doing this:
There was a lot of screaming, grunting, swearing, sweating, the sound of weights clashing against each other.. You know, gym stuff. Over-sized men galore.

The gym has a little walled-in area with mats, medicine balls, etc.. But did my trainer work me out in there? Nope. She carried a mat to the center of the weight-lifting area and instructed me on how to do... leg lifts.
Seriously!? Why do I have to do freakin' pilates next to all the free weights!? 

Happy Sigh.


So this is what dreams are made of... I have KitchenAid-envy.

Day One

I decided to start a blog. I want to exploit my personal life; Facebook is not enough.

I want to have a place of my own to vent, to celebrate, and to share (whether that be recipes or... feeeeeelings? who knows!). Quite frankly, I want to shout about my life from the rooftops- but I don't want people to read about it just because it pops up in their NewsFeed. No, I want for them to come here specifically to read about my life. Too narcissistic? I thought so, too.