Saturday, May 7, 2011

Goodbye California

Tomorrow I leave California and head for Wyoming. What a difference, huh?

San Elijo, California

I have done this many many times before. Somehow, it never gets easier. I always find it a little stressful packing (even though I have a system and I can do it in a very short amount of time!) It still hurts my heart to say goodbye to my Mom and my Brother. There's also that anxiety that comes with the unknown.
However, it's still exciting!

South Coast Winery
 Temecula, CA

I'm getting older now and it's starting to feel like soon, nothing will be the same. I've never been a fan of California...maybe I won't be coming back? This could very well be the last night I sleep in this room and wake up to share a coffee pot with my Mom. There's got to be a time where this stops. I know I can't always come back to this same little bedroom and hang out unemployed before jumping off to another adventure. Maybe this really is the time.
But who knows?

Huntington Beach, CA

So, this time feels a little different and I keep catching myself saying goodbye to California. You know, taking an extra look at the scenery, driving down memory lane and thinking, "this will be my last time down this road." Blah Blah Blah, that whole thing.
Like I said, I'm not Cali's biggest fan so I find joy in this. But, I will miss my childhood here and the friendships and...the known.

Hollywood, CA

However little I may like it, this State has been pretty good to me. It provided me with a wonderful childhood, it was the backdrop for many of my "firsts", and this is home. I find it amusing to think of the millions of people in the world who would give their left arm to live in California. Yes, California has beautiful weather, lots of days are spent at the beach, the most delicious Mexican food, celebrities, the best produce, fine wine, and flip-flops. But it's also home to many brown mountains, horrible traffic, immigration problems, some really questionable soccer moms, and earth quakes. Among other unfavorable things.  I won't miss it, but I will miss what happened here.

Some girlfriends and I...with Afroman

I suppose I'm really growing up. And I don't like it.

Here's what I'll miss most....
Mom, Me, little Brother
Los Angeles Angels game
Easter 2011
Anaheim, CA

Goodbye California!...
Hello Wyoming!

Thursday, April 28, 2011


The first thing I think of when someone says Wyoming is a little joke a fellow Chef once told me. We were talking about moving to different states and he mentioned that he thought people should be deported to Wyoming. He went on to say, "nobody goes there anyway, it's empty!" I am not sure why that stuck in my mind. It's not a very funny joke, it didn't pertain to me in the slightest, but I never forgot it.

It's no secret that I have a reputation for dropping everything and leaving. I usually go on an adventure, to a place I never saw before and work for a bit. It's my way of traveling and making enough money to come back home. It works for me and I don't regret my actions one bit. Right now, coming out of a sabbatical, I have nothing to drop. I'm at home with Mom, I have no job, not a dime to my name and there's no boy hooked to my hip. I'm leaving again, but this time I'm not  dropping anything. Feels great!

A few months ago, before I went to Las Vegas, I found a website that specializes in seasonal employment on ranches, resorts, camps, etc. You pick the state you wish to adventure to and they show you the places that are hiring and you can apply online right there. Looking at the pictures and reading the short paragraphs about the different destinations, a place in Wyoming caught my eye. The tiny picture was beautiful. It was a sunset photo of mountains, green grass, trees, a small river and horses. The description painted a picture of a family-owned ranch in Jackson Hole. It's a high-class dude ranch, basically. Families go there and stay in the beautiful lodge, where everything is included. Mountain cuisine, horseback riding, fishing, rafting, rodeo, skeet shooting, nightly cookouts and more. I fell in the love with the idea immediately. I applied and was contacted by the manager for the Pastry Chef position. I accepted, but shortly after I was offered a better opportunity (better for my resume, anyway) in Las Vegas. I took that instead but when it didn't work out for long, I wished I had chosen the Ranch. I emailed them as soon as I returned home and hoped for another position. Two days ago they got back to me, offering me another position and I appreciatively accepted.

Yupp, I'm headed to Wyoming. Very soon! I leave next Sunday and I'm not even stressed. I feel so excited to let go of my worries, breathe fresh air, work hard and meet the kind people who offered my two jobs. I have no idea what my future holds in Wyoming. It's the unknown and I love it!

Fried Salami and Egg Sandwich

I absolutely love discovering something I've missed out on my whole life. It's exciting and new and sometimes it angers me a bit. I get so thrilled about food finds, it's ridiculous.

So, there's a new-ish restaurant in town. It's been there for a couple months, nobody really knows about it yet and it seems as if they have some regulars. It's called Manhattan Deli. It's located in an old Ruby's Diner, so it still has bright red booths and white walls. The menu is huge. They were going for the old-school New York deli feel that you usually only see in...well, New York. If you have been to NYC or if you have ever watched Food TV, you know what I am talking about. Big huge sandwiches, matzo soup, liverwurst, hot dogs, cheesecake, etc. This place totally nailed it. Right when you sit down, they bring out complimentary pickles that are made in-house. They are awesome. Last few times I have been there, I got the pastrami and pepper-beef combo sandwich. It comes with a side and I fancy their German-style potato salad. They also have old-fashioned mustard on the tables...perfect.

The other day I suggested my Dad take me there for our weekly lunch. He had never been and he loves meat, so we couldn't go wrong. I wanted something different. Scanning the menu for a good 10 minutes, I found the jackpot... #88 (or something) Fried Salami and Egg on Rye. I couldn't believe my eyes! I wondered, is this a thing? Do people know about this? Have I been missing out on a traditional sandwich while in some kind of bubble? I was sold, had to try it. After all, a huge piece of real estate on my heart is occupied by eggs and Bologna. I knew I would love this.

Sure enough, it was to die for! Thick cut, real salami fried with scrambled eggs. As if I couldn't eat that by itself, they put it on fresh rye bread with tomato and lettuce. Their sandwiches are huge, just like the New York ones, so I took off the lettuce. It wasn't looking like it wanted to be eaten anyway. I put a whole buncha their real mustard and devoured it. I loved it so much, I thought about it all day long. Still wondering if this was something other people already know about.

Sure enough, it's a real thing. People have been enjoying it for quite some time and I am the girl in the bubble that missed out until now. I have some catching up to do, I think I'll have another....very, very soon :)

Water for Elephants Part 2

A few weeks ago I posted about finishing reading Water for Elephants.
After I was done, I handed off the book to my Mom and she was mesmerized with it just like I was. She's quick, she read it in two days!! The movie was coming out later that week, so we made plans to go see it during the day and we both were super stoked. I anxiously awaited for the day to come, as if the circus was coming to town (ha ha.) I woke up that Friday feeling like a kid on Christmas. I missed reading about Jacob and Marlena and I couldn't wait to get my fix.

I don't see a lot of movies in theaters these days. It costs $9 a ticket for a matinee!! That is outrageous! Last time I went to the show (like, 5 months ago) I went with a date. He got a small popcorn and a small drink and it cost him $12!! Can you believe that!? I certainly can't!
Anyway, I avoid going to the movies sometimes because of the price. It's not like it's 100 bucks, but it's almost as if I am protesting.
When I don't go for a while, I forget how much I love it. I love the smell of popcorn, the silly vests the employee's still wear, the colorful posters and carpet. I even love the preiviews! I get excited by how loud the movies and music are and my favorite part, forgetting everything else for that time frame. I'm a movie-lover already, but going to a show makes it extra special.

Anyhow, we saw Water for Elephants after weeks of anticipation and it was wonderful. I had a feeling that the movie was going to be made to feel old or vintage. Instead, it looked like it was happening now. Does that make sense? I'm not sure. I just find myself wishing that I was in the 1930's most of the time. The movie made me feel like I was and like it wasn't so out of reach.

I thought that Robert and Reese were perfect for playing Jacob and Marlena. I can't imagine anyone else doing it. The thing I love about reading books is using my imagination, because I have a great one. I can imagine the characters so well it seems real in my mind. Reese and Robert were exactly what I saw when I read the book. However, August was different. When I was reading, I pictured him to be tall and more dashing. I thought he had dark hair and mustache. I also pictures him wearing more striking, vibrant clothing. I remember when I first saw the preview, I was a little upset how the cast August. Don't get me wrong, the actor played him very well, just the look of him threw me off a bit.

Other than that, I was completely delighted by the film. I loved every minute of it. Movies based on books always skip out on the details. I suppose it's because they run out of time. But I remember the story like it was my own, so I didn't miss tid bits. Rather, I felt I was keeping some secrets and that was okay with me.

I highly recommend the book and the film. I also recommend that you read the book first, then see the movie. I'm sad it is over. I almost wish the "Twilight saga" was the "Elephant saga." I need more Water for Elephants!

Bad Blogger

I have been a bad, bad blogger! I originally set out with  goal of three posts a week. I also wanted to move onto one or more posts every day. But it's really hard to find motivation to post when you only have one follower! ;)

I mean, I know my family reads my posts and my stats show I have some traffic, but I can't help but wonder who I'm talking to when I write. Enough with the excuses, I say. Time to get back into the swing of it. I have a few posts that will follow this one, as I have some catching up to do. I also have some very exiting news coming up!!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

ABC's of ME

I got this from my favorite blog Carrots N' Cake And I thought it would be fun since I'm fairly new at this.

A. Age: 22
B. Bed size: Queen
C. Chore you hate: I love cleaning! I guess if I had to least favorite is toilets.
D. Dogs: Love em' but hate the mess.
E. Essential start to your day: Coffee, breakfast and an hour or two in my rocking chair hangin' out.
F. Favorite color: Blue
G. Gold or silver: Silver looks better on my olive-ish skin.
H. Height: 5'4
I. Instruments you play: I can play one song on the guitar. I wish I could do it well. I also want to learn how to play the harmonica.

J. Job title: Pastry Chef, Gypsy, Dreamer
K. Kids: Can't wait!
L. Live: In a very boring, materialistic, industrial town in Southern California.
M. Mom's name: Kim

N. Nicknames: Mal, Missy, Mowie Wowie
O. Overnight hospital stays: Quite a few! I am building a very large library for my medical records ;)
P. Pet Peeve: When my Mother doesn't answer her phone. And being late.
Q. Quote from a movie: "I'm your huckleberry"
R. Right or left handed: Right
S. Siblings: One Brother, 3 half-Sisters. I'm the oldest :)

T. Time you wake up: 5:30am
U. Underwear: Thongs or commando.
V. Vegetables you dislike: I love all vegetables! The only food in the whole world I won't eat is stinky cheese. And I wish I liked it! 
W. What makes you run late: Nothing. I hate being late. I won't be late.
X. X-Rays you've had: Too many to even remember!
Y. Yummy food you make: Lot's of stuff! My favorite is cookies. I make some mean fried chicken too.
Z. Zoo-favorite animal: Koala Bear!

Monday, April 4, 2011

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For Ice Cream!

Yesterday was the 119th Anniversary of the first documented Ice Cream Sundae. Once I found out, there was no stopping me. I was going to have a sundae before the day ended. No doubt about it. I let my Mom know about my new favorite day of the year and she was along for the ride.

When I think of an Ice Cream Sundae, I think traditional American dessert. I picture the pretty glass and of course, the classic combination. It must be a vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, whipped cream, chopped nuts and a cherry to top it off. That is the sundae and that's what it should be. We went to a cute little diner down the road. That diner has everything a place that serves ice cream sundaes should have. Big plastic booths, a juke box, an old lady that makes pie, retro candy, pictures of vintage cars, walls of soda pop and all that jazz. It was perfect for the occasion!

They had a few versions of sundaes on the menu. One was a brownie sundae, one was a turtle sundae with caramel, and the other was the classic. I wanted the good ole' original. Boy, was it a sight to see! I wish I would have brought my camera. In a big tall glass there was hot fudge, two scoops of old fashioned vanilla ice cream, more hot fudge, a huge mound of whipped cream, chopped nuts and a cherry. Oh, and somewhere in there, there was more hot fudge. Yeah, it was totally spilling over the sides and onto the plate the glass set on. I managed to scrap all that up too.

This has to be my new favorite "holiday"! Any excuse to eat ice cream is good enough for me! Until next year... Not that I'll go a whole year without ice cream. Who do you think I am!?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Water for Elephants

I just finished reading Water for Elephants, written by Sara Gruen. By far, the best book I have ever read.

I'll level with ya, I haven't read too many books in my day, but I have read enough. My imagination has always been a force to be reckoned with. Ever since I can remember, I have been day dreaming, pretending and coming up with insane ideas. All of which get be into trouble, but make my life what it is. So, I lean towards stories like these. I like anything from the 1920's to the early 1940's. This book is based on a boy who runs away and joins a traveling circus in the 1930's following his parent's death and then falls in love with a married woman on the show.

I really fancy love stories. But it's a bittersweet kind of thing. The love of my life passed away three years ago. Naturally, people in love leaves my heart and my mind a little saddened. But I truly relate to the old love stories. Most people don't like them because they say it's an "unreal" fantasy. I beg to differ.
I've been in love like the kind you see in movies and read in books. I've felt the pain, faced the hurt that hard times bring, I've worried the same worries and acted a fool for the sake of being with that one person. I've even heard the same romantic words and have been on the receiving end of the most passionate love one could ever imagine. These fantasies do happen and I'm living proof. So really, I relate to these kind of love stories more than I do a true story written in today's time. And I feel sorry for those that aren't on the same page.

This book caused me to take a liking in vintage circus. After the first page I realized I just found something new to research and maybe even collect. I've been looking at strange and wonderful photo's of 1920's and 1930's circus acts, reading about side shows and fantasizing about joining the circus. Yes, my imagination is so profound that reading this book literally makes me want to join the circus. My Mom said she wouldn't be surprised if I did. I wouldn't either.

Since I lost my loved one, I've kissed my fair share of frogs. I haven't decided if I'll ever love again or if I  was already given my one chance at true love. However, reading this book gave me hope. I have a feeling I'm not the only one on earth that believes in that sort of thing. I haven't found anyone close to the leading man in Water for Elephants, but I think I'll wait around for it. In the meantime, I'll put my passion to good use. Currently, I fall in love with things like movies, men that are no longer living, chocolate, dreams, antiques and books. That will do for now.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Peanut Butter Granola Bars

Of all the things I've baked and created, I have yet to do my own granola bars, which are a staple in our house. My Mom likes them for breakfast and my Brother likes them for a snack. They kept asking me to try it out, so yesterday I finally gave it ago. The recipe follows, but it was my first time making any time of granola bar. Also, I made up the recipe off of the top of my head. I liked how they turned out though!

For the bars:
2 Cups raw rolled oats
1 1/2 Cups whole wheat flour
1/2 Cup Sugar in the raw
1/4 Cup granulated sugar
1 Cup creamy peanut butter (crunchy would be good too, you could also add more)
1 Cup roasted peanuts (any nut will do)
1/4 Cup flax seeds (optional)
2 Eggs
1/2 Cup vegetable oil
Splash of vanilla extract
Splash of almond extract
Pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and make sure they are well combined. Use your hands and get dirty if you must! Put into a greased pan and bake at 350 for about 25-30 minutes. Let cool completely before you cut.

I even wrapped them individually so we could take them and go!

The best part is that these bars can act as many things.
It's perfectly good to crumble one up and pour milk over it. That's better than store-bought cereal. Also, you can crumble over fruit and yogurt for a parfait (my favorite way). You could even use as a topping for a sundae or your morning oatmeal. Whatever! It's all good! :)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

California Style Portuguese Soup

Californians have a reputation of living a healthy lifestyle. There's an abundance of healthy restaurants, farmer's markets, health food stores and just about every family keeps nutrition in mind when cooking at home. Nearly everyone plays a sport. If they don't, they belong to a gym. The housing track sidewalks are filled with people jogging with their dogs, running with their loved ones or riding bikes. In my town alone, I think there's about 7 or 8 gyms and all of them are packed.

This just goes to show you that people are a product of their environment. California has the best weather, lots of sandy beaches, or gorgeous scenery elsewhere and some of the best produce in the world. I often try to leave California. Sometimes I might even claim that I hate it. However, I am glad that it gave me one of my most favorite characteristics...The will and desire to live healthfully.

That being said, we eat the same foods everyone else does, there's just a lot of substitutions going on. My dinner tonight was a classic example of that. Portuguese Kale Soup (I'm not sure of the actual name) is usually made with kale, cabbage, linguica and potatoes. That sounds healthy enough, doesn't it?
Nope. Not for California. I took out the potatoes, because Hollywood-lovers don't do carbs. Then, I switched the Linguica for Chorizo, because there is a large Mexican influence on our cuisine here. I took it one step further, to do my health-nut friends a solid, and used SOY chorizo. I'm a meat doubt about it. But, the soy chorizo from Trader Joe's is an exception. It tastes just as good and maybe even better in this soup! I topped it off with Avocado because they are everywhere around here! I mean, everywhere! Plus, we had a run of good weather the last couple weeks and it created some really yummy ones.

For the Soup:
12 oz. soy chorizo (use regular if you please)
1/2 head cabbage
1 bunch kale
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 white onion
About 2 cups of chicken or veg stock
About 3 cups of water
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

Heat up a soup pot and add some olive oil. Once it's hot, add the onions and cook until they are transparent. Then, add the chorizo and garlic. Next, add the kale and cabbage. Top it off with the chicken stock and enough water just to cover. Bring it up to a boil. Then, bring the heat down and simmer until the vegetables are cooked to your liking. Season with salt and pepper at the end. Top it off with avocado.

That's it! How simple is that? One cutting board and one pot. Barely any mess and hardly any time! Yeah, it's super duper healthy, but it tastes like it's BAD! I promise ;)


Here he is!
The new member of the family...BIGGIE :)
He's a lab/mix... aka the cutest mutt I've ever seen!

My little brother has been dying for a dog ever since my parents divorce. I live in a 3 bedroom condo with him and my Mom. We didn't think a pup was possible because we don't have a yard. We have been here for a year now and we decided to rent for another year. I'm home a lot and my Mom only works 3 days a week so, what the heck! As long as we are comfortable here, we can make sure a dog has a good life here too.
My Brother wanted to rescue a dog (so did I after I found what they do to them) so we started searching as soon as we made the decision. I took to Craigslist because I knew there were also families on there that could no longer afford their dogs and they would end up in a shelter anyway. I found Biggie a few days later and picked him up while my Brother was still in school. When he walked in the door, a furry friend was standing in his way. He was so exited! I haven't seen him that happy in a really long time. It was the best feeling! And having Biggie in our house brings lots of joy!

No Pudge Fudge Brownies

The bright pink box caught my eye at Henry's Market the other day and I have made it for dessert every night since.
Fat free, all natural brownie mix that only calls for fat free yogurt to be added. As if that isn't good enough, you also have the option to microwave some of the mix, instead of baking a whole batch!
Yup, combine a little mix and a little yogurt and pop it in the microwave for only a minute. That's right. In under two minutes you can have yourself a delicious, guilt-free, chocolate-craver-saver dessert!
This morning I spotted the box again at Albertson's, so I'm pretty sure it's easy to find. I noticed they have mint and coffee flavors too. I bought the original, but I totally added a big scoop of Peanut Butter on top...whoops!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Beef & Broccoli...Sweet & Sour Style

Growing up, we had the same thing for dinner every week. One night we would have spaghetti, one night was macaroni & cheese, tacos, pizza and maybe a short list of other cheap eats. My parents were young and trying to make it and those were our options. There was a large shopping center located right behind our neighborhood. To eat, they had Del Taco, a deli/cafe, a Mexican fast food place, Sizzler and a Chinese food place. As you can tell, our options were limited to dine out as well. Not every week, but once in a while my Mom would go get Chinese take out for us. I have loved broccoli since I was in the womb, so Beef & Broccoli is what I got.
I loved it. It made me feel grown up for some reason. It was different than the norm and I always considered it a special treat.
Today my Mom had the idea that she wanted me to make Beef & Broccoli, but with green beans for my little brother (they both hate "the little trees"). I got so exited! The memory of that yummy classic totally slipped my mind! I was in and went to the store to get the goods. I decided to make it with sweet & sour glaze, just to spice it up a little and I had to make due with what I had in the pantry.

For the Sweet & Sour:
1/2 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
3T Brown Sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
3T soy sauce
3T thai chili paste
2T flour (I ran out of corn starch)
Whisk to combine.

You can use whichever cut of beef you fancy, just chop it into bite sized pieces. Brown the meat in sesame oil, when both sides are browned but the meat is not cooked through, add the sweet & sour glaze. Cook until sauce is thickened. I steamed the broccoli first, then added it to the sauce and beef at the end. Yum!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Brand New Addiction

It's been a while since I found something I can't live without. My last post was about California Lifestyle bread, that might be the last thing too. I have been on a major budget lately, as I don't get paid for being on sabbatical. So, I eat whatever is available at my house. Amy's Kitchen makes soups, frozen dinners and pizzas, among other things. All of their products are natural and most of their customers have some sort of food allergy or special diet. Their products can be found at Henry's, other health food stores and I recently found them at Super Target. I have tried on of their frozen dinners before, when I was doing the Gluten-free thing. They make many GF dishes and I fancy the tamales with beans and rice. Normally, I wouldn't go for something you pop in a microwave, but their dinners are surprisingly tasty. At Super Target I spotted a few cans of soup with their logo. I had seen them before but never tried it. The price is heftier than Campbell's, but for good reason. First, I tried the split-pea. It was delicious, gluten free and low in fat. I usually like split-pea with chunks of pork, but this wasn't that and I didn't mind. The other can I bought was Chunky Tomato Bisque. I had it yesterday and I was in love. It's sweet and savory and absolutely perfect. The chunks of tomatoes taste like they were picked from my garden yesterday. I loved it so much I went and bought another can last night and had it for breakfast this morning. I smell an addiction coming on...

Here's the link. They have a pretty nifty website too!

Friday, March 25, 2011

One of my layers is a healthy one...

First of all, let me tell you an important fact. I AM 22 YEARS OLD. If you don't catch my drift already, I'll continue. I am at that stinkin' age where a female is in the middle of finding herself. This time in our life seems to last the longest, as far as I know. I've been (I don't think I'm alone in this) lost since the ago of oh, say 17 or 18. I may have started young, but I was in a very grown up relationship and I've always been ahead of my time.
Since then, I've been searching and searching. For what? Don't know! It's just what we women do, especially women with a mind as imaginative as mine. I guess you can say I've gone through a few phases and I have always taken the time to explore each one. It may be ugly sometimes, but I know that when I'm on the other side of this fence I'll be better for it.
I am beginning to see a pattern. Maybe this is the part where things get good. I am starting to understand what I like and where I might be headed. I still don't know what I want though, so don't get too exited. After much speculation, curious day dreams, tribulations in foreign places and so on, I have figured out that I am a "balance" person. I need balance in my life.
Peace of mind has always been a top priority. When something bad happens, I always have to even it out with something that makes me feel good. When something irritates me, I always smooth it out with whatever has a "calming" affect on me at the time. I am the happiest when aspects of my life are split up in equal (well, some things rank higher than others) parts.
I'll get to the point now.
As far as my health and wellness habits go, this is where I need the most balance. Especially when it comes to my diet. I am very health conscious these days, due to a few years of ill health. Once I saw that healthy eating cured me of many problems, I was hooked. It also did wonders for my body and metabolism. However, I have always needed food for my soul. I have to find a place in my belly for food that makes me feel good. That might be a creature of my sentimental side, not sure.
So, I have been forced to find the gray area in between the health world and the tasty world. Good thing I paid a pretty penny to learn how to cook properly and a variety of different foods, or else I might be screwed. You will see this balance clearly as I post more recipes. Some days I eat all healthy, some days I eat all tasty and some days it's a mixture of both. I just might be the secret to a long, healthy and happy life. Never know.

I attached a link to Mahler's Wholesale Bakery. They make a high protein and low carb bread, called California Lifestyle. It's mostly made up of soy and flax. It holds 10g of protein and just 6g of carbohydrates in each piece! It's my favorite product to recommend to carb-loving health nuts who want to cut it out. I have been buying it for over 1 year now and I swear by it. I know it's good for me, it's a perfect replacement for processed bread, it keeps me "regular" and I can do everything with it! My best advice would be to try it in your french toast recipe. Since the bread is not as dense as white-flour based breads, it acts like a super sponge. It will soak up the batter and makes for an incredibly rich dish. Always use Peanut Butter instead of butter, because I say so. Of course, top it off with pure maple syrup with a very high percentage of maple or sugar free syrup. It just might be a carb-counter's dream!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Asian Meatballs, Veg and Rice Noodles

This is a perfect first recipe post. It really gives me a chance to show you my cooking style. I practice free-spirited, whimsical ways....In life and in the kitchen. I don't particularly like following recipes and although I like to create them, I hardly ever write them down. I want to add what I want to add, right when I think I should add it. I want to follow my heart, my stomach and taste buds. I also don't like math. That might be a reason.
My point is that I am a very true believer in doing exactly what you want, when you want. I have a mind of my own and I do things with passion instead of thought. Dinner will be good because you made it good. Not because you followed a recipe perfectly. I love to encourage people to be their own person in the kitchen. Take your basic skills, the ingredients you have available and go to town.
As I start putting up more posts and recipes, you'll get the hang of how I do things. You might see "spoon fulls" instead of "tablespoons" or "handfuls" could be new to you. I was classically trained in a very prestigious culinary school, but why bother with the boring stuff? Just go with the flow. I hope it brings you as much happiness as it brings me!
The recipe for this bowl of goodness follows. I only used things I had in the fridge already. We are on a tight budget and our taste buds never know it! I only had saltine crackers available (old-school meatball style) but you can use penko bread crumbs if you have it on hand. You can also add other finely chopped vegetables to the meatballs. Carrots would be good, I think. I used beef, you can use whatever you like.
No eggs? No problem! We used the rest of the eggs this morning for breakfast, so I had to do without them for a meatball-binder. You can also use any other kind of Asian noodle, like soba, or even rice would do the trick. And vegetables? All veggies would be good! Load em' in!

"Asian" Meatballs:
16 oz. (or so) of lean ground beef
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
6 or 7 saltine crackers, crushed
Salt & Pepper
1 spoonful of Thai chili paste (optional, if you don't like it hot)
A handful of chopped cilantro
Sesame oil or olive oil

In a large saute pan, heat up some oil.
Once the oils hot, toss in the meatballs and brown on one side. Flip em' over to brown the other side. Once you've flipped the meatballs and they are browned on both sides, pour in a little soy sauce. The pan will sizzle...cover it with a lid for a minute or two. This will help them cook through.

Next, you throw in the veggies...
Put the meatballs on one side of the pan and turn down the heat. Put your prepared veggies on the other side of the pan and put the lid back on. Cook for a minute, open it up and stir them a bit and finish cooking...only about another minute or so, it's best if they are still a little crunchy.
Take everything out of the pan and cover to keep warm while you cook the noodles.

For the Noodles, I used dry thin rice noodles. You can use as much as you want, they are good cold the next day too. Just follow the packaged directions.
Once they are done and drained, throw them in the same pan and add butter. Maybe a little more soy sauce too. Once the butter is melted and all the noodles are good and sauced, it's time to plate it all up!

Big bowl, noodles, veg, meatballs and a slice of lime.
I topped mine with some more Thai chili paste. Heaven!

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! And I hope you put your own twist on it!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Kiss Me...I'm Irish!

When people ask where I'm from or what I am, I usually reply "American".
I was born and raised in America, as were my Parents and Grandparents. I'm a very prideful American to boot. I love the USA and everything it stands for. However, part of Lady Liberty's beauty is diversity and the American dream. We all know that everyone here comes from somewhere out there.
So I am American, but I am also a mixture of other things.
There's some Native American in me, maybe some German and I know for sure that there's a lot of Irish. Don't ask me about "the luck of the Irish" though, because I sure as hell didn't get any of that.
 In fact, I don't know anything about being Irish. All I know is that they like their meat, their "biscuits", their fresh produce and beer. Sounds good to me.

St. Patrick's Day in Ireland is a national holiday, unlike here. It usually involves family, a feast, maybe a festival and definitely mass. But us Americans, we have our own traditions for this day and I love them just the same. Corned Beef & Cabbage it is! Green beer, green clothes and a lot of pinching. Really, it's just another day to celebrate here in America. We love finding ways to justify a party and I like to cook for the occasion. Cheers! To another day of food, drinking, family and friends!

I bought the corned beef pre-brined from Henry's Market. I liked the brine but it was especially fatty. Instead of boiling the cabbage the traditional way, I roasted it along with the organic onions and carrots. Just a little olive oil, salt and pepper was all it took. I topped it off with my take on another Irish classic, parsley cream sauce. We didn't have cream, so following the theme of this post, I did it the American way. MAYO, a little lemon juice/zest and chopped parsley. Perfect!

Happy St. Paddy's everyone!