Thursday, February 26, 2009

Spring Has NOT Sprung

I walked outside today and a strange thing happened—I didn’t feel like the wind was going to rip right through me and freeze my insides.

This, I believe, is a good thing. Perhaps some people like frozen insides; I prefer mine slathered in sunblock with a hint of a tan. But it’s also a little sad, because in a few days February will be over. March will march on in and take over, leading us out of our winter caves towards spring. More importantly, chili—winter’s official food—will take a backseat to more summer-friendly fare. Everyone will start shedding their chili cravings like they shed their cable-knit sweaters.

So, I suggest that we all take advantage of these last few February days (and maybe some of the March days too?), and get our chili on.
The following recipe I found on a fellow food blogger’s site, after having some serious cravings for a green chili, or Chili Verde, I tried while visiting my dad in Colorado. The pork and tomatillo base is a great change from the traditional beef and tomato, but you still get that familiar chili torso warming.
Also: The grocery store near my apartment in New York has a great selection of produce and ethnic foods, so I was able to find the chiles and tomatillos pretty easily. But every store is different, so you may have to go to a Mexican/Spanish foods store to find some things. However, when I was in Arkansas, I checked at the Kroger in Hot Springs, and they had a better selection of tomatillos and chiles than my store ever has. I was quite surprised…So, like I said, it really just depends.
Chili Verde
Adapted from Meathenge

When to cook: on a weekend or a leisurely day, when you’re not rushing to get dinner on the table.

1½-2 lbs pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 poblano chiles, charred, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
2-3 lbs fresh tomatillos, husks removed
1-2 cans of chicken broth
1 large white onion, chopped
6 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon sea salt
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon cumin
Monterey Jack Cheese or Goat Cheese (both taste fabulous with this)
The original recipe suggests that you char the skins of the poblano peppers for maximum flavor potential. I suggest you do this, even though I couldn’t. The only open flame I could find was by lighting a candle, and that wasn’t very efficient. After you char the peppers, set in a paper or cloth sack for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, de-husk the tomatillos and wash. Pat dry and put in a roaster pan. Broil in oven until a bit blackened. Check every few minutes so you don’t burn them completely. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet. Cube up pork shoulder into approximately 1-inch cubes, and brown in pan. Add the minced garlic towards the end of the meat’s cooking cycle, and set aside when finished. Then sauté the chopped onions and put meat back in skillet. Turn heat to low setting. When the tomatillos are blackened and collapsed (they should be fairly squishy and juices should be running out of them), put them in a food processor or blender and chop up a little; then add to meat. At this point the pork, onions, tomatillos and juice from roasting pan should all be in the skillet, simmering on a very low heat. If you charred the poblanos, remove from bag and use a butter knife to scrape off the charred skin. Then chop up the chiles and jalapeno (be sure to remove the seeds), and throw them in the skillet. Add in the cumin, salt and pepper. Then add broth. Depending on how long you’re going to simmer the chili, you may or may not need to use both cans of broth. If you only want to simmer for about an hour, then don’t use two cans, but if you plan on letting it sit for a while, add both. Cover with a lid and let simmer for one or two hours. Serve with chopped fresh cilantro and cheese on top and with a warm tortilla on the side.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Peace Offering

I’ve been a neglectful blogger, I know!

(In my defense, it has been a crazy week.)

Anywho, I have a peace offering for my neglect—yummy, yummy Oreo-filled truffles. Last week, my baking buddy, Lindsey, invited me to come over and help her make these little Oreo chocolates as a Valentine’s surprise for her boyfriend. I couldn’t refuse.

Be warned though, these truffles are absolutely addictive. And the following recipe makes a lot of them…and after you’ve downed all 30 while watching an America’s Next Top Model marathon on VH1 (Hey, it happens!), don't say I didn't give you fair warning.

Oreo Truffles
Recipe adapted from RecipeZaar, although credit goes to my Aunt Carolyn, who introduced me to the Oreo Truffle at our family Christmas party this year.

1 package regular size Oreo cookies, very crushed
1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1 package white almond bark (we used regular white chocolate chips, since we only used the white chocolate for drizzling)
1 or 2 packages chocolate almond bark (we used both semi-sweet and German chocolate baking chocolate bars instead)

Using a blender or hand-held mixer, mix Oreos and cream cheese together. This might take a while if you’re using a hand-held mixer. Keep blending until there are no Oreo chunks and you have a smooth consistency. Roll into Walnut size balls and place on a cookie sheet. Chill in the fridge for an hour, or sit in the freezer for about 10 minutes if you’re in a hurry. Melt chocolate according to chocolate instructions. Stick a toothpick into an Oreo ball and dip it in the melted chocolate. Place on sheet of wax paper. You can dip all balls into the regular chocolate or you can dip half in chocolate and half in white chocolate. (We chose to dip all in regular chocolate and drizzle with white chocolate.) After all are dipped, drizzle with remaining chocolate and white chocolate. If you want to decorate with sprinkles, be sure to do it before the chocolate dries and hardens. Devour.

Makes approximately 30-35 candies.

And just because these things turned out so cute and Lindsey took such good pictures, here are some more images to enjoy! P.S. Those giant heart sprinkles were L's idea and they really just made the truffles that much more awesome!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A few words about Valentine’s Day, because obviously, I’m an expert on this crap.

I’m a sucker for Valentine’s Day. I know it’s annoying and completely commercialized, but…I do love chocolate truffles and conversation hearts, so what can I do?

My approach to Valentine’s Day has always been to be cheesy and go all out. The trick is to not take yourself too seriously. For example, for our first Valentine’s Day together, I convinced Jon that we should write each other corny, ridiculous poems. We didn’t buy any gifts, we just dusted off our dormant “Roses are red” skills. And the poems were funny, heartfelt and sweet. To me, that’s the point of the day.

That, and candy.

We took care of the candy part last year. For some reason, we were sharing a brainwave and bought the same thing for one another—a heart-shaped box of chocolates.

With all the chocolate taken out.

In place of the chocolate we both bought the other’s favorite candies and filled the spaces. Mine was full of Sour Patch Kids, Snowcaps and bite-size Twizzlers, and his was packed with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Circus Peanuts. I thought it was perfect—thoughtful, personalized and tasty.

Because ladies and gents, if there’s anything you can learn from Valentine’s Day, learn this: the way to about 99 percent of the population’s collective heart is through food.

(Or, a gift certificate for a pedicure and full-body massage. Ahem. Just sayin’.)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

What you might come home to if you’re dating the Hamburgler.

I saw this hamburger bed on Jezebel last week, and I just had to share it with my fellow foodies! If I were still somewhere between the ages of 5 and 15, I would probably be begging my mother for this. (Besides, she still owes me for giving away our PeeWee’s Playhouse chair-Chairy-at a garage sale.) Although, considering I never got one of those race car beds or a FAIRY PRINCESS CASTLE BED, I’m assuming that my rational mother would also deny me the luxury of sleeping nestled between a sesame seed bun and a slice of American cheese, my head supported by a succulent pickle.

P.S. I may or may not be hyperventilating over the castle beds in that link. The hand-painted ones, specifically. Le sigh.

Monday, February 9, 2009

T.V. Dinners, and Not the Kind You Microwave

I was trolling around on the internet the other day, as I tend to do about 90 percent of the time and I found a fun article on It’s slideshow of some of the most popular restaurants, diners and bars ever on prime time. Cheers, Friends’ Central Perk, Monk’s Diner on Seinfeld and Moe’s Tavern from The Simpsons were all featured. A good list, sure, but I felt like I could add to it since my viewing habits don’t include any of those shows. Here’s what I came up with (with help from Lucy and Liz!):

Luke’s Diner from Gilmore Girls. There is still a gaping hole in my heart from the cancellation of that show. If Stars Hollow actually existed, I would take a road trip and get some of Luke’s infamous coffee. And in true GG style, I might just order everything else on the menu to go and veg out during an obscure movie marathon. Seriously, Lorelai and Rory could EAT.

The Hub from That 70’s Show. Jon and I are on a That 70s Show kick. We’re Netflixing them all, currently on Season 2 out of…oh…8. Anyway, hanging out at The Hub and witnessing some crazy Hyde and Fez hijinks would be fun. Yes, yes.

The Max from Saved By the Bell. Kirby and I used to watch these reruns every day after we got home from school. Oddly enough, I don’t remember much about the show, except the entire theme song. And that they always hung out at the really awesome diner after school. Oh, and that feisty Lisa Turtle was SO much cooler than Kelly Kapowski.

Honker Burger from Doug. When I was a kid Nickelodeon had some of the best (and weirdest) cartoons (Ren and Stimpy? CatDog? The Angry Beavers? ROCKO’S MODERN LIFE???? Weird stuff). In this one, sixth grader Doug Funnie and his friends Patti Mayonnaise and Skeeter Valentine hung out at the Honker Burger. Plus, there are all kinds of random food references in the show. Doug’s dog is named Porkchop and his favorite band is The Beets, famous for their hit song, “Killer Tofu.” And who can forget Quailman?

And that’s all I/we could think of. Feel free to add your favorite T.V. restaurants, diners or bars in the comments!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Restoring My Faith in…Everything

There is a thing in this world that is good and holy.
And chicken-y and creamy and pie crusty.
It is all of these things and it is called…

[must be said with a booming, God-like voice for full effect]

Liz came over a few weeks ago for a sleepover! And even though I’m pretty sure she was just using me for my central heating and my cat, I love her company so much that I choose to ignore those things. So, of course we cooked— we made a DELICIOUS chicken pot pie. I would make this once a week if I wasn’t so curious about trying new recipes. It is seriously that good.
Chicken Pot Pie

Recipe adapted from

Allow for about an hour to make this, especially if you’re a slow chopper like me

1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cubed
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup frozen green peas
½ cup sliced celery
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1¾ cups chicken broth (you can either buy this or use leftover water from boiling the chicken. You might add a bouillon cube while the water is boiling to give it more flavor.)
2/3 cup milk
2 (9 inch) unbaked pie crusts

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a saucepan, combine chicken, carrots, peas and celery. Add water to cover and boil for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, drain and set aside. In the saucepan over medium heat, cook onions in butter until soft and translucent. Stir in flour, salt and pepper. Slowly stir in chicken broth and milk. Simmer over medium-low heat and stir often until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and set aside. Place the chicken mixture in bottom pie crust. Slowly pour hot liquid mixture over. If you’re like me, you’ve probably run out of room and there’s nowhere to pour the mixture by now. It will seep down slowly, but you might have to find (or make) some holes in the chicken mixture and spoon it in. When you’ve forced in as much liquid mixture as possible, cover with top crust, seal edges and cut away excess dough. Make several small slits in the top to allow steam to escape. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool for ten minutes before serving.

Monday, February 2, 2009

A Bloody Battle

Walking into the kitchen is like walking into a cage match for me. I have no doubt that I will come out battered (cake battered or otherwise), bruised, diced and fried.

I started fighting back last week. I bought a meat tenderizer. Yes, my dear little meat hammer. And I must report that I walked away from cooking that meal with zero injuries (which was nice since I was cooking for guests and didn’t want to resort to busting out the Hello Kitty Band-Aids). I didn’t even whack my thumb with the meat hammer, like some scene out of a wacky-go-lucky sitcom or an episode of the Three Stooges.

So here’s my theory. You’ve got to show the dinner who is boss. Maintaining authority at all times is the key. And sometimes taking a meat mallet to the chicken breasts does the trick. (Put plastic wrap over the chicken first, or else you’ll get splattered. Not technically an injury, but still not fun.)

As a side-note, sometimes retaliations happen. For example, you go into the kitchen unprepared for the battle of cooking dinner. You merely want to core an apple. So, you get out your nifty little apple corer—the kind that cuts the apple into slices at the same time it cuts out the core—and prepare your apple snack. And while you’re trying quite unsuccessfully to pry the leftover core from your nifty apple corer, you slice your finger. You may just find yourself looking at the meat hammer in the sink and thinking to yourself, “Karma.”