Friday, July 31, 2009

Margarita Chicken Lettuce Wraps

These are the ingredients for delicious chicken (except maybe fresh cilantro would be 1000 times better): cilantro, tequila and margarita mix. I found this recipe for Margarita Chicken and for some reason thought it would be great in lettuce wraps.

I had looked up recipes for lettuce wraps and, people, every recipe had like 40 ingredients, 38 of which I didn't already have. So I had this idea to make Tex Mex lettuce wraps, with margarita chicken and pico de gallo. Friends, a quick Google search will tell you that I didn't invent the Tex Mex spin on lettuce wraps. 

I decided to cut the chicken into small pieces before cooking it...which is a really weird experience, especially when you add it to margarita mix and tequila. Mmmmm...anyone want a chicken margarita?

I refrigerated this concoction for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, I whipped together some pico de gallo (once Sean came back from the grocery store when I realized I didn't have any tomatoes): red onions, tomatoes, garlic, lime juice, salt and pepper. Of course, I realized I had a real lime right after I used the bottled juice.

Having never cooked with tequila before, I was in for quite a surprise when the alcohol started bubbling and carmelizing. I stood over the skillet saying to Sean, "Umm...what is happening?" But my instincts kicked in and I just added more of the marinade, which made it carmelize deliciously.

Check it out! Margarita chicken lettuce wraps! I kinda wish I'd had cheese and I definitely wish I had been prepared with a better side than chips and salsa, but it was still a different and tasty meal. 

SIDE NOTE: If you, like Sean, can't stand tequila, you may not want to try this. I figured it wouldn't matter that he doesn't like tequila, but um....carmelized tequila tasted pretty strong. My bad!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Mojo Pork Chops

If this entry had a subhead, it would read, "Who names this stuff, anyway?" Usually the coy names of recipes don't bother me, but "Mojo" pork? That's pretty corny.

So, I'm gonna call it what it is: Citrus Spice Pork Chops. Above, you can see the marinade: orange peel, fresh-squeezed orange and grapefruit juice, white wine vinegar, olive oil, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper. You can find the recipe here.

We followed the recipe's instruction to use bone-in pork chops, even though I hate cutting around bones. It's my own cross to bear.

And then I made the "mojo" sauce, which is orange juice, grapefruit juice, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. What makes this mojo sauce, seriously? Aside from the garlic, it wasn't that different from the marinade, so I'm not really sure what gives it its mojo-restoring powers.

I fried the chop until they were slightly browned on each side, brushing the pork with mojo sauce as I went. 

And, per Sean's request, we had the chops with chicken-flavored rice. The pork was good and flavorful, but for some reason, all I tasted was cumin. Next time, I may try marinating longer to get more of that citrus action. 

A word: How come my food never looks like the picture? In the picture, the pork chop was much browner, much spicier looking. Mine is....gray. It still tasted good, but it stresses me out when my meal doesn't look like it should. Anyone else bug out over that?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wedding Inspiration: Yellow Balloons

I'm swooning for the pictures of Josie and Adam's wedding on Brooklyn Bride. So classy, yet simple. I love, love the balloons. I know they're cliche at this point, but as a devotee of "The Red Balloon," I think they may have to be an integral part of my decor.
The bride's dress was bought on eBay. We should all be so lucky!

Mad Men Yourself

Looking for a good distraction from work? My entire office just got sucked into Mad Men Yourself, a web site where you can make your own little '60s-inspired cartoon self. That's me up there, the Jackie O doppelganger.

Side note: Mad Men is my most favorite show, maybe ever. It's the show I waited for all my life: packed with style, wit, history, sex. It's fabulous. If you're interested in watching, you have a couple weeks to get caught up before the show starts up again on August 16.

James Nares

Cruising around the internets this morning I was reminded of how much I like the work of James Nares. His oil paintings seem deceptively easy; I love the movement and the way the bends of the curves look like chiffon. Very rich, a little messy, a little smooth. I'd love to have one on my wall.
Just a little eye candy for Hump Day.
{found on ffffound.}

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Steak, not quite well done

I decided I was finally ready to try my hand at making steak. I prefer most meats grilled, but since our apartment and its balcony can't accomodate a grill and since I am still without a Foreman or Cuisinart grill, I'd been avoiding it.

I decided to make a broiled flank steak and prepared the marinade, which I found on Epicurious, the night before. It had chopped shallots, 2 tablespoons of red wine, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the juice of half a lemon, thyme and pepper.

For the wine, we used a Cote de Rhone blend that Sean's parents brought for us.

Mmmmm. Steak.

When I got home last night, I set about immediately making the food. I was weak with hunger, as always, and didn't pay attention much to timing or anything else. I popped the steak in the oven to broil, and even though I prefer my asparagus roasted, I decided to make it on the stovetop. Friends....this works fine if you take it out when it's tender. It doesn't work fine if you forget about it and take it out many minutes later. It was so soft, the pieces flopped and curled. Ugh.

And of course, I overcooked the steak. Medium rare always makes me a little anxious, so I tried to cook just a little bit longer. I failed. It was done and ended up getting cold before I served it because I can never remember to tent it with foil.

So I served up my floppy asparagus and my cold, done flank steak (which wasn't sliced quite right, but that's not totally Sean's fault since I didn't show him what it's supposed to look like) and realized I had left my bread heating up in the oven too long.

So we had burnt bread...almost like croutons. SIGH.

But you know what? It was still a good dinner, at the end of the day. It felt good to be eating what grown-ups eat. It felt like a meal our grandparents would make, and the flavoring of the marinade was delicious. I can only imagine what it would have been like if cooked properly!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Fettucine Alfredo: A forbidden love

I'd like to call this photo "My Undoing." I really, really wish I could pretend to care about calories and being healthy and grains and being a good person. I really do. And I'm better than I used to be. But when I come home starving, faint from hunger, the only thing I ever want is fettucine alfredo. I want that comforting, warm, full feeling that only thick, slippery strands of pasta doused with butter and cream and cheese can provide. 

So that said, don't judge. I'm still growing up; in 10 years this blog may be exclusively about eggplant.

In case you didn't know, alfredo sauce is stupid easy. I'm not saying mine was perfection, but it's so easy I can't believe they sell it in a jar. (Plus that jar alfredo tastes like some weird creamy Italian dressing to me.) 

Here's what you do: melt 2 tablespoons of butter, then add 1 cup of whipping cream, pepper and salt.

Bring to a boil. It will look like a science experiment gone wrong. It will look like a monster, bubbling from the depths. But it's okay. Let it thicken, then take it off the heat and stir in 1/2 cup of grated parmesan.

A word on that parmesan action: make sure to declump your parmesan BEFORE doing this. I did not, and I had big lumps of parmesan clinging to my pasta. 

Top with parsley! Ta-da! Fettucine alfredo for half the cost of a trip to Olive Garden!

That said, mine was a little salty for my taste and probably could have used more cream and less cheese. But it still tasted good, even if my pasta was a little too al dente. I would recommend making it home over buying the bottled stuff; whipping cream comes in such small containers, it's cheaper to buy that than buy a ready-made jar. Plus, it takes about the same amount of time it takes to make the pasta, so it's not like the jar stuff saves you any precious time. 

Watermelon Feta salad

Packing lunch is very difficult when you've grown up. You're conscious of people seeing your food in the communal fridge; you're conscious of people judging if you bring a bunch of fatty, unhealthy food. You want to save money, but you don't want to eat the same thing every day. Peanut butter and jelly just don't cut it like they once did, am I right?

So when I saw this recipe for a Watermelon and Feta salad on the Food Network's site, I thought, "What the hey, let's try it."

OMG, you guys. Watermelon and feta go together so perfectly, like roast beef and cheddar or chocolate and mint or Peaches and Herb. The salad was so easy to make, I'm not even going to link to the recipe because it's seriously two sentences:
  1. Toss together arugula (or in my case, baby spinach), watermelon chunks, feta, red onion and if you want, olives. 
  2. Drizzle with homemade vinaigrette of one part white wine vinegar to three parts olive oil, with pepper and salt. 
HANDY TIP: If you have the kind of job that, like mine, involves getting up in people's faces and asking them questions, you may want to pack some gum to negate that red onion. I was full of stank at a meeting I covered the other day and also full of regret for not anticipating that effect.

Dinosaur print by Jason Polan

If you know me at all, you know that I need this print by Jason Polan, titled "Dinosaurs at the American Museum of Natural History." I spent a lot of time in the dinosaur exhibit there as a child; one of my most treasured possessions was my stegosaurus washcloth! 

This is a bit classier, but still childlike. Love it.

Print available in three sizes, $50, $500 and $2000 at 20x200.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Blossom Dearie, I hardly knew ye

I recently heard a Fresh Air interview with Blossom Dearie, who died in February. She was a jazz chanteuse with a little girl's voice (and name!) and was adorable

While searching for more information about this person who's life I completely missed, I came across this little ditty, which I'm pretty sure is my new jam. In case you're at work and can't listen to it, read the lyrics here.

Undomesticated, indeed

This has been a week of domestic disasters at the Kennedy Compound, hence the sporatic posting. Between working long hours, entertaining, attending birthday parties, getting sucked into stupid Twilight books, I've sort of fallen off the wagon of neatness. Does that ever happen to you guys?

Here's the evidence of why this week, I'm just undomesticated. Not even pretending to be.
  • For the first time in my life, I ruined the laundry. We had so many loads and so much stuff going on, that I forgot a load and left it in the washer. It was a load of whites and once they got through the dryer, I was horrified to discover blue spots on nearly everything in the load. There wasn't anything blue in the entire load, so my only guess is that the blue dye in the detergent congealed and manifested itself into ugly splotches. And the worst part is, that happened on Sunday and I've been so exhausted all week I haven't gotten to fixing it yet. Does anyone have a suggestion? Should I hit it with some Spray-N-Wash?
  • Sean broke my mirror and there are still tiny little microscopic bits of glass in the carpet that only I can see.
  • I dropped my cell phone in the toilet. I carried it in there so that the alarm wouldn't bother Sean and after washing my face, I reached for the towel and SPLAT! the cell phone plopped into the water. I started screaming "DISASTERS! OH NO! NO NO NO!" but it was too late. The damage was done. The screen literally turned white. I only got a replacement phone today, so for half the week, I was incommunicado.
  • Last night I got home and was so hungry, I figured I'd have a snack of popcorn before I made dinner. I ate way too much, though, and by dinner time I wasn't hungry, which meant by midnight, I was starving and had a hunger headache. FAIL.
  • I still have laundry waiting to be folded. From Sunday. Oy.
  • I have to get my hair cut desperately. I also have to get my car inspected. Dreading that...

Needless to say, I haven't been productive this week anywhere but work. I'm so exhausted when I get home, faint from hunger and sitting in traffic for an hour, that all I want to do is sit and read. How do the rest of you have the get up-and-go to exercise? I am in awe, friends.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Amy Atlas Candy Bar

Sunday Suppers posted this sneak peek image from their upcoming Moroccan-inspired dinner. It's a Moroccan Candy Bar by the famed candy bar artiste Amy Atlas and it is, in a word, redonkulous.

Like, it took my breath away. Like, I have to see one of her candy bars in person before I die. Could one of you hire her, please?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Alphabet Drawers

Why, oh why, is all the cool stuff sold in the UK?
This amazing, chest-high, alphabet dresser is from Kent and London.
How fabulous would this be in a nursery? Or a newspaper office? Or a library? Too amazing, that's the answer.

{found via Oh Joy!}

Monday, July 20, 2009

Chicken Scallopine

I wanted to make some different type of chicken and I came across a recipe for chicken scallopine. It sounded alright, so I figured I'd give it a shot. 

Guess what, dudes? It's breaded chicken. Simple as that. But that's no problem, it's still delish, because it's full of things I shouldn't eat. 

So I beat the chicken with a meat mallet — always fun.

And I made this ying-yang egg/milk mixture (don't worry, it later was mixed properly). 

And I set up my dredging station: flour, egg ying-yang, bread crumbs with romano cheese.

And I sauteed that chicken! In butter! And olive oil! I'm surprised I survived this fat-filled food.

And I burned the outside, because that's who I am. But the recipe did have a very good tip: serve with lemon wedges. Holy crap, that lemon wedge made that chicken infinity awesome. I do, however, hope running becomes more enticing to me if I insist on eating more butter-fried, breaded chicken.

Wino Wednesday: Red Varietals

Two things: Yes, it has been many days since Wednesday. I just had an INSANE week, so sitting down to do this entry has taken some time.

Second of all, the pictures are too dark because I can't work Sean's camera for shit in low-light situations. We'll get there someday. 

So Miranda hosted Wino Wednesday this week and had delicious goodies — bake brie, cherries, chocolate, meatballs and caprese skewers!

Mmmmmmm! And so pretty, too.

Miranda passes out notecards so that Jennifer (and the rest of us) can document our wine thoughts. 

We had:
  • Steak House Wine: A dry Cabernet Sauvignon with a nice finish, apparently perfect with steak. 
  • Menage a Trois: Our unanimous favorite; a blend of cabernet, merlot and zinfandel. It was fruity, but soft with a touch of vanilla. A little sweet, but perfectly so. 
  • Banfi Bell'agio Chianti: I brought this one; I'm a fan of Chianti with red-sauced pasta dishes, especially lasagna and ravioli. It's a very light yet spicy Chianti, enough flavor to balance with meat but not heavy at all. 
  • Stonehedge Reserve Merlot: To be completely honest, I didn't write anything about this on my card. Not sure what happened there, but the description says "cherry berry plummy" flavors, which sounds good, right?
  • Thom Clarke Milton Park Shiraz: I learned two things: shiraz and syrah? Same thing (what the what?!) Also, good shiraz comes from Australia, Italy and California. Good thing this spicy shiraz comes from the Outback!
  • Zen of Zin: A delicious red zinfandel with a smoky, oaky taste and a bit of a burn at the end (but in a good way!). 
  • Trinity Oaks Pinot Noir: Light, fruity yet spicy wine – a little heavier than normal. 
  • Nero d'Avola: a mild, almost effervescent red varietal from Sicily. Very, very good.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon: A tangy start but a smooth finish. We learned that cabs have more tannins. Lookatme, I'm so fancy!
  • Cline Zinfandel: So I'm not totally positive this is the one we had, but it sounds close. It was oaky and had notes of chocolate — very rich. 
Ashleigh and Lauren discuss wine intelligently before the eight or so glasses went straight to our heads.

I unfortunately forgot these ladies names, but they were a lovely, sassy mother-daughter pair full of fun stories!

Erica educates us; without her, we'd be ordering syrahs and saying we don't like shiraz. 

AND she makes wedding cakes! She brought this one for us to try a new fondant recipe...I'm such an underachiever. 

Next time, we're doing a meet-up at Lubo in Virginia Beach on Friday, July 31. If you're interested in coming, let me know!