December 8, 2005

 pesto shrimp & pasta

i invented a recipe last night that came out surprisingly well.

while boiling some low-carb penne pasta in a pot, i sauteed in a skillet some shrimp in olive oil. when the shrimp was heated through, i added a few spoons of pesto sauce and bit of fat-free half and half. i also tossed in some green peas.

after the pasta was cooked and drained i added it to the skillet with the shrimp & sauce, tossed it around, and topped it with parmesean cheese.


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November 13, 2005

 my weekend, in list form

1) i became an offcial makers mark ambassador
after running out of address labels i discovered that maker's mark will send free labels as part of their ambassador program. i filled out the online form and the package arrived on friday. it contained more than i expected.

not only did i receive several sheets of address labels, but a few sheets of stickers with which to seal envelopes closed, a dozen or so holiday greeting cards with envelopes, and an ambassador information packet. this packet informs me that my name will be engraved on a maker's mark barrel and i will be notified when it has fully aged... i can buy a bourbon from that very barrel if i like. i also have an invitation to tour the distillery and a bunch of other nifty stuff.

2) i made whipped sweet potatoes with cheese
i have never, ever liked sweet potatoes. the diet i've been on offers a lunchtime serving of sweet potatoes with cheese, though, and i thought i'd be brave and try it. (as a side note, i do make a point to periodically re-try foods that i think i don't like, just to be certain that i really don't like them.)

and i liked it. which made me realize that i'd only ever had sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows and brown sugar, and that's what i really didn't like. sweet vegetables. uck. but the savory sweet potatoes --creamy, cheesy, slightly garlicky-- were quite good.

so i tried to mimick the diet food i'd been eating by inventing a recipe for susan and jesse friday night. my sweet potatoes with cheese came out pretty well. i just baked several sweet potatoes for an hour or so, scooped the guts into a big bowl and added shredded gruyere and cheddar to taste. i also had some soft, roasted garlic that i dumped in there as well, along with a little chicken broth to make the texture smooth.

3) i tried felting
not only am i knitting up a storm these days, trying new stitches and knitting with double yarns, but this weekend i also tried my hand at felting.

100% wool yarn will turn to felt when subjected to hot water, lots of soap suds and some elbow grease. so i knit a large square with wool yarn, folded it in half and stitched up the sides, then dunked it in hot soapy water and scrubbed the hell out of it. that first experiment turned out pretty well, so i'm going to buy a zipper, sew it in the top opening and make a little change purse. or tampon case. or something like that.

4) i art walked
twice a year durham holds a downtown art walk and i try to attend each and every time. this year's tour seemed exceedingly large, so we didn't get to see everything we hoped to. but i did find a photograph of a rusty old iron doorknob by a fellow named "k brown" that i almost bought. it was gorgeous.

a good portion of the art in my house has come from art walks past, but sadly this year i was too broke to buy anything.

5) i ate butternut squash soup
mary makes the very best butternut squash soup in the universe. i got to watch her blend up a huge batch saturday night (and discovered that one of the secret ingredients is parsnips), and since i was there i got to sample the first bowl, too. total yum.

6) i mended
i hate mending clothes. today i finally pulled out a pile of things that needed attention, and buried within were winter clothes from last year. i had been neglecting those poor clothes for an entire year. lucky for me they were all ray's.

7) we saw laurie anderson
oh my gosh. laurie anderson performed at the carolina theatre sunday night and her show, entitled "the end of the moon", was absolutely captivating.

this show was based upon her two-year stint as the artist-in-residence at NASA. (she was the first artist-in-residence at NASA, and --as she deadpans-- was also the last.) the one-woman show is basically her "report" on her experience there. it is laden, of course, with her thoughts on space and time, but the work also incorporates wonderful anecdotes about her life in manhattan, 9/11, and her little rat terrier dog. the music she performs (as her own accompaniment) is haunting and spacey, and her voice --though she never sings-- is incredibly hypnotic. i could listen to her read a grocery list. she's amazing. hers was a show i'll remember for quite a long time. i'd love to see it again.

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October 18, 2005

 pork posole

in her newfound excitement over kale, lisa asked for my posole recipe.


2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced (more to taste)
7 cups chicken stock
2 1/2 cups canned hominy, drained
4 cups kale, chopped
4 cups pork shoulder, cubed, braised (or a good roast with a little fat on it)
4 cups tomatillos, blanched (blanched for this recipe is merely boiling the tomatillos 10-15 minutes.)
4 poblano chiles (or long green chiles), roasted, peeled
garnish - lime wedges, chopped red onion, cilantro, grated queso fresco (or medium cheddar)

1. in a large saucepan (or soup pot), heat oil and sautee pork until brown. add onions and sautee until translucent. add garlic and sautee an additional 2-3 minutes.

2. add stock, hominy and kale. reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes to an hour (longer for more tender pork.)

3. puree tomatillos and chiles in a blender. add mixture to stock and bring to a boil. reduce heat and continue to simmer until ready to serve.

4. season to taste. garnish with cheese, onions, lime wedges and lots of cilantro.

yield: 8 servings

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June 22, 2005

 cheesy squash thing

* lightly steam one small yellow squash (thickly sliced) and one small zucchini (ditto).

* drizzle a little olive oil in the bottom of a baking dish.

* place squash & zucchini slices flat in the bottom of the dish.

* sprinkle with marjoram, so that each slice has a light dusting.

* plop a few small dabs of pesto here and there.

* shake on tons of parmesean cheese.

* coat with a dusting of bread crumbs.

* shake on more paremesean cheese.

* bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, until cheesy topping is crisp.

serves 2. very yummy!

next time, actually, i think i might omit the steaming... the squash came out a little too soggy for my taste. maybe i just steamed it too much. i dunno. i may also consider making more of a sauce out of the pesto (adding cream, maybe) so that the flavor more easily spreads over the whole dish.

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May 1, 2005

 door painting

well, the ibook is back from the apple store. i have a new LCD and a new inverter (whatever that is). the display now stays continually bright, so the problem seems to be fixed.

by the way, if you ever have to take anything to the apple store for repair, please do yourself a favor and ask for zack. oh my god, he is amazing. a true genius. he stayed 2 hours after closing on saturday night to get my repair done. when he called me at close to 11pm he said i could come in before they opened on sunday to pick it up... "i'll be here... just knock on the door and get my attention... i'll let you in."

he went WAY above and beyond for me. he totally rocks.

so now that the computer is back i can detail some stuff about my weekend:

friday night:

i went to mary's first big art show. she makes earrings (slogan: "jewelry and more, to support my shoe habit.") and has often thought about trying to make money making earrings. i'm pretty sure she made some money this weekend at the MOMart show.

also saw the hitchhiker's movie, and had a good time laughing with the mcventrils, dick umbrage, spacegrrl and the mintys. excellent fun.


crappy weather. i had lots of home improvement plans, but the weather on saturday threw my schedule out of whack. i did what little i could (mostly just fixing the leg of a chair while mimo supervised), then i packed it in and made a nice dinner.

  • creamed spinach & mushrooms:
    1. take one box of frozen chopped spinach and thaw it in the microwave.

    2. while the spinach is thawing, chop about a half-package of mushrooms, a quarter of an onion and 1 clove of garlic, and sautee in a skillet with some butter.

    3. when the spinach is thawed, place it in several layers of paper towel and squeeze every last bit of moisture out of it.

    4. add to the skillet about half of a small container of cream cheese and about a 1/4 cup parmesean cheese.

    5. when the cheese starts to integrate with the mushroom/onion mixture, place the spinach into the skillet and move everything around until the spinach is totally coated in the cheesy mushroom stuff.

    6. season with salt and pepper and serve.


started work on the house around 10am; the sun is shining! finished sanding the back door, caulked the cracks. (we notice when it rains that the inside of the back door gets wet; i tried to patch whatever cracks in the wood i could find, and am going to prime and paint it in the hopes of more properly sealing the exterior from the elements.)

i also finally painted my front entryway:


i'm sure my neighbors think i'm crazy.

it's going to take me a while to get adjusted to the bright orange, but i think i like it. i still have some touch-up work to do (i want to put a bit of orange around each of the entryway windows), but after this particular project is done, i think i want to paint my shutters the same yellow as the entryway. what do you think? yes... i think yellow shutters are a must now. maybe. i don't know.

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February 14, 2005



it all came out well!

the chicken kiev was amazing. we fried it for a couple of minutes, then put it into the oven to finish... it was perfectly tender inside and perfectly crunchy outside. the chicken was wrapped around fresh rosemary and lemon butter and the flavor was excellent.

the rice was slightly disappointing... we could hardly taste the apple cider. the toasted walnuts were great, though.

and the hollandaise sauce came out perfectly --which was especially surprising given that neither of us had never used a double boiler before-- and complemented the veggies well (asparagus, parsnips, carrots, brussel sprouts, squash, zucchini).

not pictured is the pumpkin maple creme brulee, which was also fantastic. we still have 6 ramekins of custard with which to perfect our torching technique, though.

also not pictured is the phenomenal mess we made. i think we dirtied every dish in the house.

and yes, we sat down to eat just before 10pm. d'oh.

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January 24, 2005

 bacon potato gratin

* slice 2 or 3 russet potatoes verrry thin (like, 1/8"-1/16" thick)
* grate about a cup & a half of sharp cheddar cheese
* crumble 7 or 8 slices of cooked bacon
* mince 2 garlic cloves and about 1/4 cup yellow onion
* one cup chicken stock
* salt and pepper

* spray-oil a baking dish or casserole dish. (i used a pyrex baking dish that was about 7"x10".)
* layer the potatoes, cheese, bacon, and the garlic and onion mixture until the dish is full. finish with the cheese.
* pour the chicken stock over the top, and add some salt and pepper.
* cook at 350 degrees for about 60-75 minutes, covering the dish with foil for about half the time it's in the oven.

the thing that was so great about this was that the flavors were so well balanced. this wasn't too cheesy or too bacony. (though is that even possible?) the chicken stock added just enough liquid for the potatoes to cook without getting too soggy. the onions and garlic offset the sharpness of the cheese. it was perfect. we had it for dinner, as our main course, but it could have easily been a side dish, too.

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October 29, 2004

 pesto lemon butter tilapia

in a small bowl:
melt butter (i used about a quarter stick for 4 fish filets)
stir in one tablespoon of pesto.
stir in the juice of one lemon.

place tilapia filets on a foil-lined baking sheet and pour the sloppy mixture over them.
season with salt and pepper, then bake for about 15 minutes in 375 degree oven.

(this recipe probably sounds utterly simple, but given my current state of mind i'm glad i can feed myself at all.)

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August 28, 2004

 brussel sprouts

i've never been crazy about brussel sprouts. i've always had them boiled or steamed, which results in just too much intense, mushy yick for me.

but last night i learned a new way to prepare them:

cut the brussel sprouts in half and sauté them in butter and curry powder.


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August 18, 2004

 mexican chicken casserole

i made this last night. i just took stuff i had in my pantry and created the recipe out of my head. it turned out pretty well.

mexican chicken casserole

4 chicken breasts
1 can diced tomatoes
1 onion
1 can black beans
lots of cheese
1 cup uncooked rice
tortilla chips
mexican spices: cumin, cayenne, chili powder, taco seasoning

serves probably 4-6 hungry people


cook chicken breasts in a skillet with the chopped onion & can of tomatoes. add spices to taste and cook until chicken is just done through.

simultaneously start cooking the rice. add seasoning to taste. (some of the tomato juice would be good as the rice cooks... try this next time.)

when chicken breasts are done, remove them from the skillet and shred them. add the beans and cheese to the shredded chicken. (for cheese, i used 1/2 jar tostitos queso sauce and some leftover cheddar and colby-jack... this casserole could use even more cheese next time.)

mix the leftover tomato/onion glop from the skillet into the cooked rice, then add that to the chicken mixture.

pour the whole thing into a casserole dish and pop into a 375 oven for 15 minutes or so. top with crushed tortilla chips and bake a few minutes longer.

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December 5, 2003


brown 1 package beef (cubed stew meat) in 1 T oil.
chop 1 onion (thank you! :^) & 2 garlic cloves, then lightly sautee in pan after meat is removed.

into the crock-pot goes the meat, onions & garlic, along with:
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 can black beans
chili powder
cayenne pepper

cook on low for 6 hours.


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December 4, 2003

 the beef will keep

goodness, you guys are such helpful chefs!

when i say we go grocery shopping once a month, that of course is only half-true. we do the big shopping trip once a month, but we still have to run out to get fresh produce or milk every once in a while. the big trip is big, though. usually a couple hundred dollars. stocking up on cleaning products, canned goods, paper products, cereal, shampoo... stuff like that.

anyway, the beef-in-question will keep for a few more days. the chicken's time was up, though.

so i thought we'd make stir-fry with it tonight. but i decided last-minute [gasp!] to embrace the rut-busting mentality and try something new!

chicken with mushroom & wine sauce.

it actually sounds fancier than it is:

chicken breasts browned in a bit of olive oil.
throw in 2 cloves of smashed garlic.
add a can of cream of mushroom soup.
salt & pepper. (i like lots of fresh-ground pepper.)
toss in a cup or so of cut-up portabello mushrooms.
simmer for a few minutes. then add about 1/4 cup of red wine.

yum. the whole thing didn't take more than 15 minutes, which was a bonus.

so on to the beef:
thanks to sarah, i'm now thinking about using the beef for chili. but i have this weird hang-up about chili: i feel it should consist primarily of ground beef, not cubed stew beef. but i'm willing to overcome my fear, i suppose, for the sake of continued rut-busting.

i might be able to make a chili with ingredients i've already got in the house, too. but i still don't have any onion. hm.. black beans, beef, tomatoes, chili powder, cayenne. i wonder if i could go onion-less?

so i'm planning on throwing this chili into the crock-pot on friday morning before i go to this think-tank dealie hosted by namac, the center for the public domain and ibiblio. (personally i'm slightly terrified of anything called a "think-tank". so having hot chili waiting at home for me afterwards is going to be a damn fine reward for making it through the day.)

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