Sunday, March 29, 2009

Update: My Recipe Book

Back when I first started this blog, I wrote about my relentless recipe collecting and a little thing I like to call My Book (pronounced Mah BOOOk; this is important, so get it right!). Last week I realized that I had been neglecting my recipe cataloguing—the stack of recipes ripped from magazines and printed from the internet started to take over a section of the kitchen counter—so I got out my tape and scissors and got to work.

My Book has now grown into three: the original is now for main courses and sides; one notebook holds recipes of appetizers, soups and salads; another is for desserts and sweets alone. I have a peculiar feeling of accomplishment that my recipe collection is growing so rapidly. I know that this is probably not something to be proud of. Most likely this is an early warning sign that I will one day end up with some compulsive hoarding illness, surrounded my many cats and volumes of recipes.

And yet, I am proud. I just hope I don’t end up on Intervention or some surreal BBC documentary.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Flip-Flop with Meatballs

Something about that title is setting off a signal on my inappropriate radar, but I like it nonetheless.
ANYwho. Let me explain what it really means, because it’s not as dirty as it sounds. You see, my mother loves the type of recipe that lets you prepare several meals at once, or get a head-start for another meal later in the week. I'm sure it’s a favorite concept of most busy parents and workaholics around the country, because it just makes life easier. I am neither a workaholic (yet!) nor a parent (let’s give it 10 years or so), but I’m a huge fan of making my life easier. Le sigh.

I’ve decided to dub these meals flip-flop recipes, because:
A. I’m silly.
B. I think everything is 10 times better with a catchy name.
C. Alliteration rocks.

So, the first flip-flop recipes I’ve come up with are based on meatballs! Begin by making the first recipe for the meatballs. It’s quick and easy to follow, so you can do this on a busy weeknight. Cook half of the meatballs for classic spaghetti and meatballs, and save and freeze the other half to make the second recipe (also weeknight-friendly) later that week or the next!

Reduced-Fat Meatballs

Recipe from Working Mother magazine

1 slice of bread, torn into very small pieces
1/3 cup low-fat milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 Tablespoons finely grated Parmesan
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 pound ground lean beef or dark meat turkey
2 cups tomato sauce
½ pound pasta
Mushrooms or other vegetables optional

Place bread, milk, egg, onion, parsley, Parmesan, salt and pepper in a bowl, and let sit 10 minutes or until the milk is soaked into the bread. Stir gently. Add ground meat and mix well with clean hands, but do not squeeze. Form about 40 one-inch meatballs. Set half to the side, and place the other half in a medium-large saucepan with the tomato sauce. Cover and simmer on low heat 25 minutes, shaking gently every 7 minutes to rotate the meatballs. Do not stir or you’ll end up with meat sauce. Add any mushrooms or vegetables after about 15 minutes and let cook until soft. As your meatballs cook, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to directions. While you're waiting on your pasta and meatballs to finish, place the other 20 meatballs in a freezer-safe container, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Transfer to freezer. When meatballs are frozen solid, about 1½ hours, cover container or transfer them to a plastic freezer bag for easier storage. Now go back to your pasta. Drain. Serve meatball sauce over pasta, with Parmesan sprinkled on the top. Add a salad or vegetable on the side for a complete meal!

Makes about 40 meatballs including frozen ones. The 20 meatballs you cook serves 4-6.
Hearty Meatball Spinach Soup

I have a strong suspicion this recipe came from the back of a cracker box. I can’t remember, but it’s really good despite its humble beginnings (and inferior looks)!

20 pre-made meatballs, no need to thaw
Vegetable oil
¾ cup onion
2 cloves garlic
2 cans (14 oz each) reduced sodium beef broth
1 can (14.5 oz) stewed tomatoes, undrained
1 package (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, well drained
2 teaspoons dried oregano
Saltine crackers, optional

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat; then stir in onion and garlic and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until onion is translucent and tender. Spread meatballs around the pan, and let cook for about 5 minutes, then carefully turn meatballs and let the other side cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add broth, tomatoes with their liquid, spinach and oregano; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through. Serve with saltine crackers.

Makes about 4-5 large servings.

Feel free to share your own flip-flop recipes in the comments! I’m always looking for new ones to try!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

ZOMG!!1! Girl Scout Cookies!

The pictures on these boxes haven't changed since I was selling them twelve years ago...Someone needs a makeover? That was my exact reaction this Saturday when I saw a group of Girl Scouts dressed in their tacky little Brownie vests selling cookies. While my mature boyfriend was getting his taxes done at one of those little tax-people booths, I was reverting back to childhood and panting over the thought of Thin Mints--my all-time favorite.

Needless to say, I bought four boxes.

(Well, Jon bought me four boxes, because I never have any cash.)

But it was a Girl Scout Cookie miracle, because I thought I wouldn’t get any this year. My mom works in an elementary school, so she usually has a ton of students to buy from, which therefore secures my annual box. But this year—this anomaly of a year—no one asked my mother to buy any cookies. I didn’t think I would find any on my own. But I did!

I feel like an adult now that I’ve bought my own cookies. It wasn’t that long ago that my sister and I were wearing our own tacky green sashes covered in patches, delivering cookies in our little red wagon to the neighbors. We were fanatical about our cookie selling, and ended up peddling hundreds of boxes every year. One year, we sold about 600 between the two of us. Look, if you don’t believe me, check out this picture of us organizing our stock in our living room.

I love my cranky Kirby.

Clearly my Girl Scout Cookie love will never die.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Craft and Cake: my heart goes thump.

Unfortunately, the first time I heard about Craft magazine was in an article about its last print issue. As I was wandering around the magazine section of a bookstore last month, I decided to pick up the last issue. It had Amy Sedaris on the cover and I’m a sucker for a Sedaris, so…

The issue takes on parties—what cake to bake, what to stock in your bar and how to put together invitations, decorations and a groovy playlist. I was pleased to find an excerpt from Amy’s book, I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence, because she’s not a typical party host or homemaker. What I mean is, her cakes turn out looking more like mine than say, Betty Crocker’s, and for this, I love her.

Of course, I would be ecstatic if I could decorate a perfect, polished cake, but I know if I make this cake I’ll have a guaranteed conversation-starter. And more time to actually enjoy my party. So, here’s the cake recipe (with commentary from Amy) from the magazine and a photo of the finished mess.

1. Make an angel food cake from a box.
Take your 10” angel food cake and place it on a plate.
This is the only boxed cake I ever make, because to me it tastes just like a homemade one and you don’t have to deal with egg whites. Egg whites intimidate me (for some people it’s phyllo), but either way, the best part of making an angel food cake is that you get to hang it upside down on a wine bottle for an hour, and you can still do that with a boxed angel food cake.

2. Slice the top.
Slice the entire top from the cake, about 1½“ down. Lift off the top and put it somewhere else.

3. Make a tunnel.
Make a tunnel and scoop out the angel food cake.
Now there is a wall; it will look similar to a Jell-O ring mold. Take the angel food cake that you scooped out and put it on another plate.

4. Fill the tunnel.
Completely fill the cavity with either the chilled whipped filling (see recipe below) or with an ice cream of your choice.

5. Replace the top.
Put the top of the cake back on.

6. Fill the top hole.
I like to use the cake left over from the tunnel and stuff it in the center hole.

7. Cover the Cake.
Completely Slather the sides and top with whipped cream.

*Tip: You can optionally include 1/2 c of toasted almonds in the cake cavity and then sprinkle the outside with 1/3c of shaved toasted almonds.

8. Make a decorating tool.
Scoop frosting into a plastic bag, and twist the top tight. Cut the tip off the plastic bag.

9. Decorate the cake.
Squeeze the bag carefully so the frosting comes out, and decorate the top of your cake how you like.
Repeat steps 8 and 9 with different colors of frosting for an elegant, layered look.

10. Enjoy!
Cut the cake and scoop it onto a plate.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Blogger is being dumb

For some reason my posts aren't showing up when I visit my blog using Internet Explorer, but I have no problem viewing them with a Firefox browser. So, if you think everything looks a little wonky, that's is.

Since I've been using Firefox for the last couple of months, I wasn't aware of the problem until yesterday. But when I started investigating, I found that a lot of Blogspot-hosted blogs have been losing posts since about two weeks ago. They're mysteriously disappearing. I think this is a case for Nancy Drew.

Anywho, I hope you guys can use Firefox to read my blog until I figure out how to fix this! You can download it for free here.

Update (March 4): I think I was able to fix everything (yay!), so you should be able to see all of my recent posts ("A Cautionary Tale," "Fortune Cookie Time!" and "Spring Has NOT Sprung") on Internet Explorer now. Please let me know if you start seeing blank posts with only a title again. Thanks!!

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Cautionary Tale

If you happen to be an internet addict like me, then you’ve probably already heard about the newest hit blog making rounds on the internet (in the last week I’ve seen stories in at least five different publications and websites).

This is why you’re fat showcases pictures of disgusting, yet glorious (to some) concoctions that could clog the healthiest of arteries and add instantaneous pounds the thinnest backside. I must admit…I kind of love it, and I kind of hate it.

For instance, my sweet tooth and inner 8-year-old are telling me that the candy pizza is the stuff of dreams.

And my love of donuts in well documented, so I obviously wouldn’t turn away this “Behemoth Glazed Donut.”

But then I can’t visit the site without finding something that makes me gag. Like this:

A giant burger sandwiched between two bacon pizzas. (FYI, bacon and corn dogs/hot dogs and burgers are featured frequently on the blog. Hmmm…I wonder why?)
And I’m not sure why anyone would want to defile a delicious Krispy Kreme donut like this:

Yes, that’s a Sloppy Joe on a Krispy Kreme. For shame!

So, if you’re a glutton (heh.) for guilt and heart-attack inducing food, then perhaps this site is for you. But if you decide to try any of these fine dishes at home, please don’t tell me about it. I don’t think I could handle it.

Fortune Cookie Time!

I haven’t posted a fortune in a while, so I thought today should be the day. So here you are—a little wisdom from the bowels of our favorite cardboard cracker cookie!

“The best way to navigate through life is to give up all of our controls.”

While you’re pondering that, let me just say that I’ve given up control in my kitchen for the evening. I’m letting the slow cooker do all the work. And I concur with the fortune; this might just be the best way to navigate through dinner, if not life in general.