Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Playing Catch Up

Chicken Caesar Salad
Originally uploaded by snarkmeister
God, I know. It's been a while, right?

I made this yummy Chicken Caesar Salad for dinner last Thursday. Pretty standard - romaine, roasted chicken breast (boneless/skinless, roasted at 400 with olive oil, salt & pepper), cherry tomatoes, homemade croutons, and caesar dressing from scratch. Yes, with the anchovies. Mr Wonderful was hesitant about eating the anchovies, but he ultimately enjoyed it and said it was "right on the edge," meaning that the fishy taste was there, but not TOO strong. So that passed muster (or mustard, heh). I got the recipe from foodtv.com, from Barefoot Contessa's caesar salad with pancetta recipe.

I've made some other yummy stuff in the interim, but haven't taken pictures: a chicken wrap made with feta cheese, lettuce and cucumber strips, dressed with a mustard vinaigrette (we ate this on the way to Monterey), and an easier wrap with deli-sliced turkey, baby spinach, olives and Alouette garlic-herb cheese spread. Rugrat actually enjoyed this one, and it will probably go into the lunchbox rotation. I made some more fresh corn, since Raleys has the good local stuff at 4 ears for a dollar. And of course I've made tons of caprese salad, my summertime go-to meal.

I promise to get the camera out a little more often and document the meals better in the future. :-) This weekend I'm heading up to the mountains to go camping with Mr Wonderful, and I promise to take loads of pictures. I'm planning a white chicken chili for one night, and a campfire Bananas Foster dessert, so stay tuned!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Three things

Here's a meme I found on a random blog...

Three people/things that make me laugh: Mr Wonderful, Ren (from Ren & Stimpy), the episode of Coupling (BBCA) where Jeff shows up at the bar in the leather mask

Three things that scare me: heights, Rugrat's tendency to leap before he looks, random violence (because you just can't prepare for it)

Three things I love: family, friends, books

Three things I hate: cockroaches, scallops, traffic

Three things I don’t understand: why the country voted Bush into office for a second term, why anyone would want to keep homosexuals from having the legal right to get married, why so many people are ignorant and mean

Three things on my desk: computer, blood pressure machine, stack o' papers

Three things I want to do before I die:
take a cooking class in Tuscany, skydive (must conquer that fear of heights), write a bestselling novel

Three things I can do: cook, create a website content management system (CMS) from scratch, hula hoop with two hoops at the same time (for quite a while)

Three things I would like to learn: fluent Italian, string theory, how to design my own sweater knitting patterns

Three favorite foods: filet mignon (preferably swimming in butter, at Ruth's Chris Steak House), spicy hamachi roll, CHEEEEEEEESE

Three beverages I drink regularly: Dr Pepper, coffee, water

Three TV shows/Books I watched/read as a kid: Dukes of Hazzard, A Little Princess, the Nancy Drew series

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Blue belt!

Blue belt!
Originally uploaded by snarkmeister.
Rugrat got his blue belt in karate class yesterday. This is kind of a big deal; it's the last of the "beginner" belts. It's probably also the last belt he'll get for a while, as we haven't figured out if we're going to enroll him in karate out in WC yet or not, and if we are, where we'll take him.

Tequila-Lime Chicken

Tequila-lime chicken
Originally uploaded by snarkmeister
Tequila-lime chicken topped with salsa fresca, and accompanied by fresh chili-lime corn (cut from the cob) and a tossed green salad with avocado vinaigrette. I used my brand-new George Foreman grill, and I have to say, I was pretty disappointed. The chicken was cooked perfectly, but there were NO grill marks. What the heck?

Tequila-Lime Chicken with Salsa Fresca
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 c freshly squeezed lime juice, or limeade (I used a combination of both)
1 shot tequila
1 c chopped tomatoes
1/4 c diced onion
1/2 to 1 diced jalepeno (depending on how spicy you like it)
1/4 c cilantro, chopped
salt & pepper

Put the lime juice and tequila in a resealable bag. Season well with salt & pepper. Add the two chicken breasts and marinate for a couple of hours in the fridge (the longer, the better). Throw all the other ingredients together in a bowl, and season to taste with salt & pepper. Let it sit in the fridge while your chicken breasts marinate, so the flavors can blend.

Preheat your grill of choice to super-screaming-hot. Remove the breasts from marinade & discard the marinade. Grill just until the chicken is no longer pink in the center (time will depend on your grill - my new GF grill took about 10 minutes to grill three breasts; I had one plain one for Rugrat).

Fresh Chili-Lime Corn
2-3 ears of fresh sweet corn (depending on how big they are)
2 Tbsp butter
Juice of one lime
1/4-1/2 tsp chili powder

With a sharp knife, cut the kernels from the corn cob, and use the back of the knife to rub the milky juice from the cob (you'll see, there's a little bit of the kernels that gets left behind, and you can get some sweet yummy juice by scraping them). Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and throw all the corn in. Heat the corn through, maybe a couple of minutes. Just before serving, sprinkle with the chili powder and pour the lime juice over the corn. Just stir it up and enjoy! Best corn EVER.

Friday, June 8, 2007

This is MADE of awesome

Paris goes back to jail

Judge Sauer is a hero. A true bastion of logic and reason in the sea of insanity that is LA. Thank GOD someone is standing up to these stupid rich, spoiled brats who think they can get away with anything, any time it suits them.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Today's ringtones

"You sick little monkey!" and The Happy Happy Joy Joy Song, both from Ren & Stimpy (episode: Stimpy's Invention).

I am obviously having way too much fun with this.

Oops! My geek is showing.

This completely blows my mind. Awesome.

Even more awesome? The fact that Rugrat asked me this morning to explain the fourth dimension to him, and I showed him this website. (Yes, I already had it bookmarked. Because I am a total geek and this is the kind of shit that makes my cold little heart go pitter-pat.) WTF is an eight year old doing asking questions about the fourth dimension? Damn, my kid is smart.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Expand your horizons

Yesterday I discovered that there is something called a Foodie Blogroll, started by the lovely and talented Leftover Queen. The Foodie Blogroll is an ever-expanding list of food blogs: a great resource for new recipe ideas, and a nice way to drive a little more traffic to your own food blog. The blogroll is now on my site (see it in the lower-right). If you want to add your food blog to the list, pop on over to the LQ's Foodie Blogroll post and get the details.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Simple pleasures, geek style

I'm not a very complicated person. I generally like things simple and straightforward. But the last cell phone I got was the Razr, which at the time was pretty much top of the line. Generally I am of the opinion that, if it will make telephone calls, it's good enough for me. But in this case I made an exception. Why? Because I am smitten with the personalized ringtones. You know, where you set a different ringtone for each person in your address book so that you know the moment it rings who's calling.

But I wasn't content with the ringtones you can buy online. I absolutely had to have a ringtone with the Kim Possible theme song. Do you know how hard it is to find a Kim Possible ringtone? They don't exist. So I had to make one. I got an audio file - off a Disney soundtrack CD or something - and I downloaded some free software (Audacity) and cut the file down to the size I wanted, with the exact audio clip I wanted.

And then I went nuts. I was making ringtones for every person and occasion. And today, I made ringtones from the soundtrack of a DVD. Not the soundtrack like the music from the movie, the soundtrack meaning the actual WORDS SPOKEN during the film. I found this awesome software called DVD Audio Ripper, and after very little futzing around, I figured out how to get the audio track I wanted, and then I used Audacity to crop it. So now I have a couple of ringtones made from the Jimmy Neutron movie. (What? I LOVE cartoons. The best part about having a kid is that you get a fabulous excuse to watch cartoons.)

Technology is freaking awesome.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Maroon 5

On Sunday I bought the latest Maroon 5 CD, and I've got it on heavy rotation. I really like it, but it seems like most of the songs are heavily influenced by 80's pop. I'm not saying this is a bad thing. I really like 80's pop. But some of the songs are SO obviously inspired by another song or just a very distinctive sound. One song sounds like Prince, one sounds like the Police, another one like John Waite, and a fourth one sounds like Jellyfish. Just about every song on the album gives me that niggling feeling like I've heard it before, or at least something really, really similar. The Police one has a certain spot in the song that sounds so much like Message in a Bottle that I swear it's practically plagiarism. It's so blatant (to me anyway) that I wonder if maybe they did it on purpose. Like they specifically made songs that sounded like various 80's pop groups so that they could tap into the nostalgia factor for people in my age range. Or maybe it just sounds like 80's pop because it's all so very slick; the whole album is produced within an inch of its life.

I also got the older Shins CD, the one with New Slang on it. This is totally my new favorite band.

Roasted Cherry Chicken

Cherry Roasted Chicken
Originally uploaded by snarkmeister
Wow. This one was a winner - savory and sweet, all at the same time. I served it up with some blanched green beans (yay, farmer's market!) and panzanella, which D totally went nuts over. The unusual addition of cherries makes this a good choice for Sweetnicks' ARF/5-a-day roundup this week!

Roasted Cherry Chicken
2 chicken breasts, bone in & skin on
1/2 c pitted fresh cherries
1 Tbsp rosemary
1 clove garlic
1 Tbsp chopped parsley
Salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400°.

Chop up the cherries, rosemary, and garlic all together, kind of milling it with your knife until the cherry bits are pretty darn small (but still a wee bit chunky) and the garlic & rosemary goes all through it. Throw it in a small bowl, add a small amount of EVOO (maybe a teaspoon or so), the parsley and some kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper; mix well. Loosen the skin on the chicken and stuff the cherry mixture underneath the skin. Coat the skin with EVOO and sprinkle with more salt & pepper. Roast for about 40 minutes or until done. (I always use a thermometer that goes off when it reaches the desired temperature; this guarantees moist, juicy meat that is perfectly cooked. Every. Single. Time.)

Goat Cheese Toasts with Savory Cherry Jam

I got a bunch of cherries at the farmer's market ('tis the season), and I wanted to try something savory with them. Obviously there's loads of recipes for dessert with cherries, but I was looking for something a little different. So this is my first attempt at using the cherries in a savory dish, and it was OK, but a little heavy for the season. It needed something to lift it up a bit; when I made the chicken I threw some parsley in with the cherry mixture, and that brightened it up just enough. Although I just had an idea - orange juice! I'll bet that would be fabulous - next time I'll add a splash of OJ to the sauce during the cooking process. (I think the cherry jam/sauce would be fantastic over pork tenderloin as-is, especially in the fall -- but when are you going to find fresh cherries in the fall? Never, that's when.)

Goat Cheese Toasts with Savory Cherry Jam
Sourdough bread, sliced 1/2" thick
Chevre (fresh goat cheese)
1/2 c cherries, pitted & roughly chopped
1 tsp chopped rosemary
Splash of balsamic vinegar
Pinch of salt & pepper

Toast the bread slices in the oven or toaster oven until golden brown. While the bread is toasting up, throw the cherries, rosemary, vinegar and salt & pepper into a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the cherries are soft. At this point I used a stick blender to smooth it out a little, but I wouldn't advise doing this unless you are cooking at lot more of it at one time; I wound up with cherry splattered all over my kitchen. Instead, you could either chop up the cherries very finely at the beginning of the process, or you could use an actual blender to get the consistency you want. I wanted mine a bit chunky.

Spread the toasts with the chevre, then top with the cherry mixture.

"Greek" Chicken Salad

"Greek" chicken salad
Originally uploaded by snarkmeister
Light, healthy and very tasty. I'm not doing amounts for this one because you'll want to just adjust the amounts to your taste anyway.

"Greek" Chicken Salad
Romaine lettuce, torn or cut into bite-size pieces
Cherry tomatoes, quartered
Seedless (AKA European) cucumber, diced
Red onion, sliced or diced
Kalamata olives, roughly chopped
Feta cheese, crumbled or diced
Roasted skinless, boneless chicken breast, sliced into bite-size pieces (I used olive oil, salt & pepper, but you can use any herbs or seasonings you want on it - throw it in the oven at 400 until done, about 30 minutes)
Lemon vinaigrette (see below)

Toss it all together & eat! The chicken soaks up some of the vinaigrette if you throw it on the salad while it's still a little warm. That makes the chicken extra moist and tasty.

Lemon Vinaigrette
Juice of one lemon
Salt & pepper

Put the lemon juice in a small bowl, and add salt & pepper. Use more than you think you need; the vinaigrette will be used to season the entire salad. Slowly stream in EVOO while whisking fast; when you've got about a quarter cup of vinaigrette, you should be done.