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Monthly Archives: October 2010

(pun)pkin pi

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So, I was greatly surprised to arrive at my Inbox today…and find out that I won Carly‘s Great Blogger Pumpkin Carving Contest!  Apparently, my love of the pun helped me a bit 🙂  Here’s my (pun)pkin if you haven’t seen it already:

There were some really great entries, too—you should check them out! It’s been a busy weekend, but here’s a preview of what I did:

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“remember that time ross said, ‘squatternut bosh’?”

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Hahaha…I love Friends.  What about you?  It’s probably one of my very favorite shows—it’s so quotable!

Last night, Jen called me up to see Roomie Reagan and I would like to come over for dinner.  Her suggestion:  Rachel’s recently posted recipe for Butternut Squash Pizza.

We took a few short cuts with pre-cut (frozen) butternut squash and pre-made dough from Whole Foods (which Jen so generously picked up).  Have you ever tried to cut up a b-nut squash?  Let me just tell you, it is a bitch to do.

Jen rolled out the dough with some cornmeal on the bottom, and we pre-baked it a little bit before going to town.  Instead of blobbing the ricotta, she spread it out over the length of the dough.

DSC05068Another shortcut:  Jen caramelized the onions instead of roasting them before we got to her place.  Look at that gorgeous color!

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There were green beans with dill on the side:

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A lovely before shot:

DSC05069 Aaaaaand a pre “get-in-my-belly” shot:

DSC05071 Verdict:  Yummy!  We sprinkled basil and thyme over the ricotta, and tossed some minced garlic in the mix as well.  I think that this would have been uh-maz-ing with a swirl or two of pesto.  Jen mentioned that could probably add a little chopped spinach, too.

What’s your favorite unconventional pizza recipe?  I make a mean Mexican pizza that I’ll have to post soon

***Note:  I entered Carly’s Great Blogger Pumpkin Carving Contest!  I was going to say you should, too…but it looks like today is the last day 😦  That’s what I get for entering/getting on the bandwagon so late!  Check out her blog and some of the other pumpkin entries in the comments.

beats the socks off the blue box

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So, I’m really bummed that I didn’t get to participate in Rachel’s first challenge in Project Tasteless 😦 I was pumped about it on Wednesday, but being in Jacksonville for homecoming all weekend (and shopping for homecoming outfit changes on Thursday) really cut my time short. I got back in town around 930 on Sunday night, shortly before entries were due…and I realized I still lacked an apron. Fail. Oh well—there’s always next time! To make up for it, I have a really fabulous recipe that I would have liked to have cooked naked. It was amazing; I can imagine how much the lack of clothing would have contributed.

I used to hate macaroni and cheese. Like, really hate. It grossed me out…melted cheese? Or worse, powdered cheese and hot milk? Gross. Whenever my mom would make box mac ‘n cheese for my sister, I would turn up my nose. My mom responded by leaving some salty elbows out of the pot before she added the “cheese” for me to in turn cover with Parmesan.

Don’t hate; it was good.

Side note: I also just started eating butter (on ANYthing—I never even buttered toast or potatoes) and black pepper in the last 5 years or so.  You can imagine how bland my life was.

Back to the mac.

So, I went a very long time without eating macaroni and cheese. One day, I think it was at my old job, we had a catered lunch with homemade macaroni and cheese. We’re talking chewy noodles, protruding up and out of a sea of lava hot, bubbly cheese, nice and brown, crusting around the edges. I had a scoop and never turned back.

Since then, I have gotten to the point where I can eat the box kind (I usually mix in more shredded cheese, various seasonings, and then broil it in the oven till the cheese is crispy on top). But why do that when I can make it myself?

I made my first homemade mac, complete with roux and homemade breadcrumbs, last Thanksgiving. It was packed with squash, broccoli, and shredded carrots. Sooo good. This past week, I decided to try my hand at another veggie-infused mac, something more in line with the season.

Enter Brown Butter Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese from Broke-Ass Gourmet.

You heard me right—pumpkin. (It’s what’s for dinner.)

I made a few modifications to Gabi’s original recipe, mainly so I could use what I had on hand. Turns out, all I had to do was buy the cheese! Jonathan and I opted for some fancy cheese at V. Richard’s market.

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Love this place! Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s so fun. They offer local products (like Fudge Farm pork and Yellow Moon Cheese from Wright Dairy), and they’ll sharpen knives for you as well. (Check the website for days/times.) They also have a café you can dine at, which I’ve wanted to try.

DSC04857Oh, my.  Chocolate butter cream.  Look at the ingredients!  I wanted to take this home and eat it with a spoon.

I’ve bought a few bottles of wine from V. Richard’s, but this was a first for cheese. I wasn’t certain of how much I’d need (recipe calls for half a cup), so I just asked for half a pound. This was what we purchased:

DSC04891 There was so much to choose from, and not only were we not exactly sure what kind to get but we also didn’t want to spend an arm and/or leg on our purchase. This turned out to be pretty satisfactory. It was creamy, not too sharp and all-around tasty.

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After some sampling, I grated up about 1/2 cup.

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To begin, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cook the pasta noodles (we used rotini) as directed. Keep an eye on them—you don’t want them to overcook and be gummy. (Been there, done that.)

Next, heat the butter in a large pot.

DSC04878 You’re supposed to wait for it to brown, but since I didn’t have any real butter (just Blue Bonnet), it didn’t quite do this. Next time, I’ll for sure pick up the real thing. After it had heated through, I sprinkled in the flour (I used whole wheat because I had it on hand). Whisk in the flour. (It’ll be really crumbly).

Slowly add the milk, then the pumpkin and shredded cheese. It will be really creamy and smooth.

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Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

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Once the sauce is well mixed and all melted together, add the drained pasta, turning to coat completely. Transfer your pasta to a glass baking dish, top with 2 tbsp (approximately, I think I may have used more?).

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Pop the whole thing in the oven for about 20 minutes.   It will be hot, bubbly, and melty—perfect.

DSC04897 DSC04898 I served this with some (canned) reduced-sodium mix greens and cast-iron skillet cornbread.

DSC04903 The latter was a little dry…maybe I should have tossed some pumpkin in?!?

I cannot sing the praises of Broke-Ass Gourmet enough; I’ve gotten some real keepers from Gabi without having to spend too much on ingredients. I remember when I realized, hey, I may not always have box mixes for various things on hand, but I almost always have all the ingredients for brownies, or cookies, or (as you can see) mac and cheese!

When did you learn to cook (if you cook)? Does it seem more or less convenient to you? I love cooking dinner for myself, family and friends. It’s also a great way to blow off steam!

let’s play dress up

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It’s that time again:  Halloween.  Or, if you’re a girl, Whore-o-ween.  I feel like Miranda in Sex and the City:  “There are only two choices for women:  witch, or sexy kitten.”  There’s a great commercial on the radio right now for Callie’s  Love Stuff (an adult “bookstore” in town) that advertise their selection of costumes:  “Be a sexy nurse, a French maid, or the office tramp.”  Yes, sign me up, please.

I had a few ideas for what I wanted to do for Halloween, but now, as the time dwindles away, I’m just not sure how to execute.  I’ve gone the sexy route just once, my junior year of college when I first moved to Jacksonville.

100_1820I was supposed to be a pirate, but I looked more like a pirate hooker.  Or the St. Pauli girl.  (I had fishnets on just south of that picture crop.)  Note:  I thought my friend Mel looked great as Meg from Family Guy—I made those glasses out of pipe cleaners!

The next year, I went in something slightly warmer:  a giant fleece fried egg.

n156801213_30286093_7087 My mom helped me construct that out of poly fill, fleece, and an old pillow case.  My friend Toni was a pig.  (Actually, not just any pig—the Cooter Brown’s pig!)

Fast-forward about two years and almost 50 pounds, and I wasn’t really interested in anything sexy.  I decided on something that would be cute and mirror my fluffy feelings…but make it a positive.

n156803730_31122264_4695 Enter the bath loofah!  One of my favorite costumes thus far, I think.  Jonathan looks like schoolboy…but he was actually supposed to be Angus Young from AC/DC.

Last year, Jonathan and I opted for a sickeningly sweet couple costume.  Of course, you know we had to put our own spin on it.

37557_563952898279_156803730_32286308_649750_n The hottest power couple EVAR:  Joan Holloway and Roger Sterling from Mad Men.  I even made us title credits 🙂  (They have our characters’ names and then say, “as played by Summer M. Hunt and Jonathan E. Dorough” respectively.)

Another one of my favorite parts of Halloween is dressing up for the Rocky Horror Masquerade Ball.  I have a fantastic homemade Magenta costume that I try to perfect each year.

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Oh, wow…I looked ROUGH.  But Erin (first picture) and Matt looked great.  He’s such a fantastic drag queen.  He calls himself “Tobanga.”  (What can I say?  We loved Boy Meets World growing up.)

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Aaaaaand close up.

Last year’s was a little better.

16147_645747110475_2414955_37352614_6959392_n That’s Joy, Amal, Jen and me.

And just me:

l236427622 Basically I just get to dress up like a slut for Rocky and forego the whole process on Halloween.

Are you dressing up this year?  Have you ever been a part of a couples’ costume?  And you HAVE to have seen Rocky Horror….right?  RIGHT?!?!

lemme butter your biscuit

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Oh would you please?

As I mentioned earlier, I put a might tasty biscuit in my mouth last Saturday.  It’s been floating around my head, the idea of a pumpkin biscuit.  So I decided to finally execute my plan.  Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup canned pure pumpkin
  • 1/4-1/3 cup almond milk, original unsweetened (you can use any kind you like; this is what I had on hand)
  • 1/4 stick butter, melted (I used Blue Bonnet light, again, what I had)
  • pumpkin pie spice

First, blend (or vigorously stir) your pumpkin, milk and butter.  It will look gorgeous.

DSC04782 Yeah…my butter wasn’t quite melted.  What can I say?  I’m impulsive.

Can you see what’s in the background?

DSC04783 Boo-yah!  I bought myself a giant-ass jug of Pumpkin Spice creamer.  I’m in love…

Back to my biscuits!  Combine your dry ingredients.

DSC04786 Well, they aren’t combined in this picture, but you get the idea.  (It’s not shown here, either, but add a generous sprinkle of your pumpkin pie spice.)  Carefully add the wet ingredients to the flour and such.

DSC04787 If it’s a little too thin, you can add some milk.  I made these as drop biscuits, just scooping out blobs onto a greased cookie sheet, shaping them like I wanted.

DSC04790 This made about 6 regular biscuits and two slightly smaller ones.  Bake for about ten minutes or so…or until done.  (I never really time things.)

These ROCKED!  They had a nice crust, but were still fluffy on the inside.  I split them, drizzled a little on the bottom half, and devoured them with a turkey sausage patty.  On the side, J made a 2-egg omelet-type thing with a little pepper jack.

DSC04801 You should make these this weekend.  Or tonight.

Who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner?!

What other sorts of pumpkin recipes have you tried so far?  I came across Pumpkin Enchiladas on Kat’s blog today, and I can’t wait to work ‘em in next week.

in my mouth: it’s fall, y’all!

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Phew!  It’s been a while since I’ve done a wrap-up of what I ate over the weekend.  And granted, I know it’s Thursday, but you know what?  I’m going to own the fact that I want to write about it all, even several days later.  I’m sorry I’m not sorry.

Anyway, Friday:  I made the most delicious roasted vegetable sandwich with some zucchini, squash and mushrooms that were hanging out in my fridge.  I sliced the squash up diagonally and marinated them in balsamic, along with some baby bella mushrooms, for about 30 minutes.  I let George take care of the rest, grilling them until they were nice and hot and displaying grill marks, branded like a tattooed teen girl fresh from Panama City on Spring Break.

Can I just take a moment to sing the praises of my GF grill?  Honestly.  I was given this one a while back, used but free, and I used it all the time.  Love it.

Ok.

I spread pesto on each side of a HFCS-free sandwich thin, sprinkling feta on one half.  Into the toaster oven they went.  Once the feta was melted, I layered the veggies on one half, topped with the other, and slapped it back onto the grill to mash it all together.

DSC04743 On the side, I sauteed some fresh green beans with dill and a sprinkling of Parm.  Super good.

After dinner, I met up with some friends over at Speakeasy  for $2 beers.

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You know I’m on that.

I had a tasty local brew—Good People Brown Ale—and maybe a few others.  Hey, when the company is good, the taps are flowing and the prices are right, I just can’t help it!

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That’s me and J (obv), Reagan and Antonio, and Dennis and Reagan (again).

I love all the crap on the walls at Speakeasy:

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On Saturday, I got the chance to experiment with a recipe that’s been in my head for a while:  Pumpkin Biscuits!

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I served them with some turkey sausage and syrup, and part of a cheese omelet-ish on the side. And of course, some coffee in my San Diego Starbucks mug.  (Pssst….you know that’s Pumpkin Spice creamer tingeing my coffee a delicate caramel color!)

No worries, I will share the recipe.  They were so easy, especially since I made them as drop biscuits.  They were fluffy and light, like biscuits, but with the flavor of pumpkin bread.  Hella good.

I headed to Craig’s Saturday afternoon to catch the Auburn game.  We rocked it!  A huge win over Arkansas gave Auburn a boost in the rankings.  There are no words to describe my excitement for the LSU game this weekend.

We snacked on leftover chili for dinner, and I was craving a little something sweet.

DSC04810 So I made myself an ice cream cone with Publix Pumpkin Pie ice cream!  It was so good, nice and spicy with crust chunks and swirls of cream.  Perfection 🙂

On Sunday, Jonathan made me this rockin’ egg sandwich with turkey and cheese.  I smeared some yellow mustard on the bun for good measure.

DSC04812 I had to rush home to get ready for Jen’s birthday, as I was responsible for cupcakes.  I used this recipe from Megan.

DSC04835 More on this recipe later as well!

Well, there you have it:  mouth treats for the past weekend.  I have tons of new recipes to share with you all, and I can’t wait to get caught up.  I’m heading home to my college town for homecoming this coming weekend, so much fun is sure to be had.  What tasty things have you put in YOUR mouth this week??

thick and meaty

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When most people think about chili, they picture stick-to-your-rib meat stews with chunks of tomatoes, hearty beans and smoky flavor.  While I love this sort of chili (reminds me of home), it’s not my favorite.

For the past several years, we’ve a had chili get-together when the weather even barely hints that it’s time to slip on a warmer coat or an extra layer.  It started when I first moved to Birmingham.  Every year for the first three chili nights, I’d have a vegetarian to cook for and would make a big pot of some of the tastiest meatless chili.  Chock-full of all kinds of beans, peppers, onions and even carrots, it was just as filling and satisfying.

This sort of opened me opened me up to different chili varieties.  We decided to have a combination chili night/pumpkin carving, and I wanted to do something different.  I had no vegetarians to cater to, and with two other meat dishes due to be present, I settled on a creamy white chili from Eat, Live, Run.  I’d only tried two others in my lifetime, and I was anxious to try a new recipe.

I started by placing a few chicken breasts in the slow cooker, covering them with chicken broth, seasonings, garlic and green chilies.  Craig added the onion later the next day so they would cook down some.  A few hours before serving, I removed the chicken from the pot and shredded it, then mixed it back in, also added about three cans of white beans.  It smelled AMAZING.  Right before our guests arrived, I added the reduced-fat sour cream and half-and-half.

I stretched the recipe a little, not completely doubling it.  One problem I encountered:  too much broth.  I think I could have fixed that by either skimming some off in the morning after the chicken cooked overnight, or by adding a can of pureed beans.  Or maybe even some potatoes?!

To go with all the soups, I made some Pumpkin Poblano Muffins, a recipe from one of my very favorite websites, Broke-Ass Gourmet.  The recipe is fairly simple, and the only change I make is to use whole-wheat flour.

Start with a poblano pepper.  I always slice mine in half, then quarters, and remove the seeds and membrane.  From there, I slice it into strips and then into a nice dice.  WARNING:  Make sure your hands are very well washed—I burned the shit of the inside of my nose and the corner of my eye.  It hurt like a bitch.  Mix the wet and dry ingredients separately, then combine them, and lastly, fold in the pepper.  I made about 12 muffins with this recipe.

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And then the finished product:

DSC04711Back to the chili.  We had traditional meat chili (Jen’s Grampa’s special recipe):

DSC04717(Please, someone tell me how to make chili look photogenic.)

Then there was spicier meat chili with beans (thank you, Craig and Jonathan):

DSC04716And then finally, the white chili.  Pardon me, but I just have my prepared bowl picture:

DSC04712It was awesome!  The flavors were all so perfect together.  Again, the only complaint was that it was too watery.  Eh, can’t win ‘em all.

Let’s get down to the sweet pumpkin carving magic that was made on Craig’s back porch.  In attendance were Jen, Jason, Nadria, friend Emily, me, Jonathan, Reagan and Craig (the last three did not carve…LAME!).

I had two pumpkins:  a normal-sized one and this little guy that I had specific plans for.

DSC04720Jason spent some time crafting this lovely owl:

DSC04734 HOO!  HOO!

Uh, I just told you who, it was Jason who carved it.

Nadria worked long and hard (TWSS) on this masterpiece:

DSC04740 And Emily made this charming little vampire kitty:

DSC04739 (I had one that made the pumpkin look better, but this gave Emily some face light, so, it wins.)

Jen finished her sassy pumpkin fairly quickly.

DSC04719 DSC04728 Super cute!  Girl AND pumpkin 🙂

And as for my pumpkins?

DSC04726 I made a lackluster iPumpkinPod, and then my personal favorite:

pumpkinpi Pumpkin pi!

Last year, I made this incredibly complicated sun design, and we took a picture…which Jonathan promptly lost track of.  The year before, it was a candy corn, and before that, one of my favorites:  Alfred Hitchcock.

n156803730_30713311_6939 I loved the way this picture turned out.

Do you carve pumpkins for Halloween?  Do you go for scary or fun?  One of the best parts about carving:  seeds!  We roasted several.  More later!