Archives for category: The main event

Dearest readers I must apologize…I have been seriously distracted lately. Like “posting once a week…maybe” kind of distracted. And for that, I am super sorry. Life has decided to dish up a big batch of crazy/awesome/not so awesome but necessary events recently and as a result I have become a bad, bad little blogger.

And what has me so out of the blogging loop you ask?

Well, I can’t tell you about all of it…yet, but to start there’s the whole “to get an apartment or to not get an apartment” debate.

By the way, you know you’ve found a winner when a tenant approaches you and, upon learning that you’re checking out the building’s vacancy, says “but you look like normal people!”

Yeah…not exactly what I wanted to hear.

I’ve also been spending a lot of time in Seattle recently, which has resulted in a ton of splendid adventures. Those that rank within a PG-13 rating may appear here in the near future so stay tuned!

But all that aside, I am here today to share a little somethin’ somethin’ with you about our dear friend the asparagus.

Because nothing says “I’m sorry” like a tender bunch of farm fresh produce!  Read the rest of this entry »

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I have this really bad habit of going into a store for one thing and coming out with about ten others minus the one thing I intended to get in the first place.

Case in point: my recent trip to Cost Plus World Market .

I went with the intention of buying yellow pillows for the apartment I don’t quite have yet. Instead I found organic jasmine tea pearls, Italian blood orange spritzer, a chili-lime dark chocolate bar, one teeny-tiny tin of saffron, baggies of lavender and hot curry powder and a pot of blood orange marmalade.

Needless to say I’m a serious sucker for budget friendly treats.

I may have failed at “mission: buy yellow pillows,” but I succeeded in finding the one pivotal ingredient needed to make a dish I have been cooing over since I discovered it in the NYT dining section this past February. Read the rest of this entry »

Alright kids, this is the final Florida post from my recent Marco Island adventure. 

I know, I know. Sad day.

But look on the bright side! Now we get to move on to happy spring things like farmer’s markets and asparagus and sunshine! Okay, we might have to take a “rain check” on the sunshine ~ it is April in Washington after all. (Get it? Rain check? Ha! I kill me). I digress. Back to the beach we go…

P.S. props go to my padre for the stellar post title!

So, my last day of sun-soaked goodness happened to also be Easter Sunday. And what better way to celebrate than a crazy huge, food coma inducing meal! Okay, yeah I guess you could go to church (and don’t worry I did ~ on the beach even). But for now, let’s just stick to food. 

And so I present to you an Easter feast, courtesy of my loud and proud extended Italian family.  Read the rest of this entry »

Friends, we are gathered here today to celebrate a miraculous event. On Saturday March 20, of the year 2010 Adria Marie (last name omitted to protect the innocent), sister to the writer whose words you are reading at this very moment…COOKED.

Yes, you read that right – my sister, the Princess of the pre-packaged meal, the Duchess of Dinner’s Ready busted out those squeaky clean Pampered Chef mixing bowls and whipped up her very own main course entrée. From scratch! And it wasn’t just any dinner either. It was ratatouille potpie courtesy of our friends at The New York Times.

Read the rest of this entry »

If you’re just joining the chat, we’re discussing what to do with a big bag of leftover pignoli. This is part 2 of a 3 part post so please, head on over to post 1 if you’re currently thinking to yourself, “what in the world is a pignoli?” Then come back and have some pasta!

There’s not much that can stop a mother/daughter duo in the kitchen. It’s a bit like Iron Chef actually, both of us bustling about chopping one minute, sauteing the next. Lord help the poor soul who gets in our way. Both the boyfriend and Dad know that when Mom and Britt are cooking, they just need to sit quiet and drink their Blue Moon. Oh and set the table – that’s their job.

Read the rest of this entry »

Oh Canada! You stupendous Winter Olympic hoster you. Last Friday I watched your opening ceremony after a splendid meal of barbecued chili steak and was so smitten I wanted to run around and begin every sentence with “Ay.” Seriously, go find that guy who produced your spectacle infused extravaganza and make him a big batch of cookies; he deserves it.

So yes, barbecued chili steak chicken. It should be noted that when preparing mom’s old recipes it is wise to consult the “mom” in question first. Case in point: the recipe’s recommendation to use beef chuck steak. I should have realized something was amiss when my friendly neighborhood butcher gave me “that look.” It’s the look that says “Have you ever actually cooked steak? Do you even know what part of the cow you’re asking for?”

I received a second dose of “that look” when mom found my moo meat in the fridge the next day. She has since informed me that this recipe must have been added to ye old recipe box back when she and my father were “living on the cheap” as she puts it. Long story short, I decided to toss the steak in the freezer and buy a few chicken breasts instead. Looks like it’s the bronze medal for you this time chuck steak.

In the event your mom isn’t around to make you buy the right kind of meat, you can always wash dinner down with another chuck of the $3-buck variety. It goes surprisingly well with an Olympic opening ceremony and makes that three-hour parade of countries fly right by!

~Brittni

Barbecued chili steak or chicken
Be aware, this isn’t your ordinary barbecued chicken/steak recipe. Thanks to the inclusion of chili powder and vinegar this marinade escalates to a level of pure “zing.” It’s the kind of dish that makes your eyes pop open out of surprise. There is a lot of sugar in the sauce due to the ketchup factor, so make sure to get as much of the marinade off as possible before grilling. Otherwise, you will have a very dirty little grill.

You will need:
½ cup vinegar
½ cup ketchup
2 tbsp. cooking oil
2 tbsp. finely chopped onion
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
3 pounds steak or chicken breast

Directions:

Heat your grill to medium-low

Combine first seven ingredients to make your zesty marinade. Reserve ½ cup.

Place your meat in a shallow dish and coat with said marinade. Let stand 3 hours at room temperature or overnight in the fridge. Turn meat several times.

Remove steak/chicken and pat dry. Don’t throw out the marinade! You’ll want to use it while grillin’.

Grill 10 minutes or so on each side for chicken and 12 minutes or so for steak, brushing occasionally with the reserved marinade. (Honestly, the grilling depends on how thick your meat is. My chicken breasts were monster size and took a good 15 minutes on each side.)

Transfer meat to a pretty platter and cover with ½ cup reserved marinade.

Yield ~ 6 servings

Three-bean salad
This would make a great hot summer day salad, especially if you are attending a swanky barbecue. You make it the night before, which also adds to the simple party factor. No day-of cooking for you missy! Just pop it into a colorful piece of tupperware and go!

You will need:
1 can green beans
1 can kidney beans
1 can garbanzo beans
1 green pepper, chopped
1/2 cup red onions, shaved thin and chopped
1 small jar of diced pimento peppers
1 cup sugar
1 cup vinegar
1/2 cup oil
1 tsp. salt

Directions:

Add the first six ingredients to a large bowl and give it a stir.

Heat the sugar, vinegar, oil and salt until they boil. Pour over bowl of bean and veggie goodies.

Toss about and cover. Let stand over night in the fridge.

Yield ~ About 8 cups of summer

Lesson #1: Heed smudged recipe cards with extreme caution! Water droplets seem to enjoy erasing key elements, such as the first digit in the number of lasagna noodles needed to feed four people.

Lesson #2: If at first you don’t succeed…unravel those dang noodles and start again!

Lesson #3: Lasagna may not be the best thing to eat when you’re feeling down. Try something light, like a lemon soufflé instead.

As you can see, last night was quite eventful. First, I misread the recipe, thinking it called for 2 lasagna noodles. Yes I know now that lasagna noodles aren’t that big, but at the time I was a young, naïve little noodle novice. I assumed they would grow larger while boiling. This is where lesson #1 comes in to play. Unbeknownst to me, a rogue water drop decided to land right where an important number happened to be written. Any guesses as to the magic numeral? No? Well, it was a 1 meaning my recipe required not 2 but 12 lasagna noodles! Luckily, my water hadn’t reached a boil yet.

Once the appropriate number of noodles reached al dente status, I moved on to the filling. Things were going well…until I ran out of my ricotta/spinach mixture after 6 noodles. This is the moment where I said a few bad words after realizing another smudge had erased another important bit of information: I needed 1 and 1/3 cups ricotta cheese, not just 1/3 cup. What does water have against the number one? And furthermore, what does water have against me?!

I, however, was not in the mood to be defeated by a recipe from Sunset Magazine circa 1980something. This girl does not take a near failed attempt lying down! (Cue Lesson #2) So what did I do? Well, I unraveled all my prepared lasagna swirls, scraped the filling back into the bowl, added the additional cup of ricotta and filled the (not nice words) back up.

There!

I should probably add that prior to discovering my lack of ricotta cheese; I received a call from my local community theatre saying there was no part for me in the production I had auditioned for. I’ll admit it, I was disappointed. (Enter stage left, Lesson #3)

But rally forth I did and into the oven the lasagna swirls went, covered in mom’s homemade tomato sauce, which quite accurately matched the color of my mood.

Honestly, I was more upset with how I was reacting than anything else. I’ve been not cast several times before and lived to tell the tale! And I know how difficult it can be breaking into a small, community theatre. Maybe it was the water drop fiasco but for some reason I was wound as tight as my lasagna was swirled.

Thank the Lord I didn’t forget to set the oven timer.

In the end, the lasagna swirls were lovely and today I am feeling fine. I’d like to say it’s because I’m a well-rounded young lady, but in all honesty it’s probably because someone brought a dozen doughnuts into the break room this afternoon.

Lesson #4: In the event of not so happy news…eat a maple bar.

~Brittni

Lasagna swirls
This is a great alternative to your average lasagna and involves much less work. Plus it’s swirly! Homemade tomato sauce is best, but a big jar of Classico will do you just fine. Maybe if you’re lucky, I’ll toss my mom’s sauce recipe up here someday…

You will need:
12 uncooked lasagna noodles
1 package frozen, chopped spinach, thawed, with extra moisture squeezed out
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/3 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 tsp. each of salt and pepper
3 cups tomato sauce

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.

Cook noodles according to package. Rinse and lay on foil sheets to prevent sticking.

Mix together spinach, 3/4 cup Parmesan, ricotta, salt and pepper.

Spread about 1/3 cup cheese mixture along entire length of each noodle. Roll noodles up individually and stand on end in a greased 7-8 inch round casserole dish (make sure it’s at least 2 1/2 inches deep).

Top with tomato sauce and toss in the oven for 30 minutes or until hot. (Jab a fork in the center of a swirl to test the temp. If it’s still cool, add a few more minutes).

Yield ~ 12 swirls