Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Holy Asparagus!

So I went a little crazy with the asparagus at the Farmer's Market and grossly overestimated how much I would need. I was left with the task of both finding a way to use a large amount of leftover asparagus before it went bad as well as making an original creation as we had eaten it just the night before. Though I am not really a big fan of "Cream of..." soups mostly due to the fact that they involve high fat, I was able to find a recipe for Aspargus Soup on Cooking Light's website that I just slightly modified. Be very careful with adding much salt here as its super easy to overuse. I served it with some lean steaks I got at Ralph's the day before. I marinated the steaks overnight in Worchestire sauce, seared, and then broiled.

ASPARAGUS SOUP
3 c. chopped asparagus (about 2 bunches)
2 c. fat-free chicken broth

1 bay leaf

2 tsp. crushed/minced garlic

2 c. non-fat milk

Dash of nutmeg
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 c. milk

2 tsp. butter
Dash of Pepper

Dash of lemon Juice

Combine asparagus, chicken broth, bay leaf, and garlic in a saucepan over medium-high heat, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 10 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Place asparagus mixture in food processor or blender, process until smooth (better to overdue it so you don't have chunks of asparagus). Add milk, pureed asparagus, and nutmeg to large saucepan, stirring until blended. While mixture warms on med-high heat as you are trying to bring it to a boil, mix the cornstarch with the additional cold milk. Once the soup mixture on the stove is boiling, add the cornstarch mix to the saucepan and stir, bringing heat back down to medium so it will simmer. Continue to stir as soup thickens to desired consistency. Add more cornstarch mix if you want a thicker soup (just be sure to mix the cornstarch with cold milk before adding directly to the hot mixture). Once soup is at desired consistency remove from heat. Add butter, pepper, and lemon juice.

Ryan Approved.

Green Chili Stew

After many requests from Ryan for me to attempt my mom's Green Chili Stew recipe, I finally succumbed to the pressure. Not that I didn't want to, but having never tried the dish, not only did I have no basis of comparison but, I was sure it would not live up to the hype. I called my mom and got the Kathy-version of the recipe which is very similar to mine (highly estimated quantities, if even that). When I get recipes from my mom I get agitated that she just cannot tell me how much of something she used, but then I realize just who I learned to cook from as I hear that same agitation from my friends when I try to explain what I made. Over time I learned to accept that its good not because you followed the recipe, but because you tried something slightly and/or highly original. When it results in success, it is that much more rewarding. However, I digress, back to the recipe. I made some modifications from the original recipe that are quite minor based on ingredients that I did or did not have. This is quite spicy, so if you aren't up for that, leave out the jalapenos.

KATHY'S GREEN CHILI STEW (with some Evan modifications)
2 lb. beef cubes for stew
2 tsp. crushed or minced garlic

Pepper to taste

1 can low fat/low sodium beef broth

1 big can green enchilada sauce

3 small cans diced green chilis

1 small can diced jalapenos

2 cans pinto beans

4 red potatoes, cut in bite size pieces

Brown the beef with a little olive oil (or Pam), garlic, and pepper. Put browned beef with all the following ingredients in a slow cooker. Set slow cooker on low for about 8 hours. *If you want the soup thicker and/or greener, use less or none of the beef broth. Use any salt very sparingly as the other ingredients are quite salty.

BOOK REVIEW - LOOK ME IN THE EYE

"Look Me in the Eye"
by John Elder Robinson
I finally finished "Look Me in the Eye", it took a bit longer than usual as I am attempting to read about 3 books at once these days. Overall, I enjoyed the book mildly. It provided quite an interesting insight into the life of a person with Asperger's and the very full and eclectic life of Robinson. The parts that stood out to me were instances when Robinson would reflect on his experiences and recognize how differently he would react in certain experiences, but all the time unknowing that he had any sort of condition that would make him the way he is. The book jumped from clinical to anecdotal far too often for me. I found the author would retell pieces of certain stories or previously mentioned details that were generally redundant almost as if the chapters were written as separate entities. The close of the book did not flow with the rest, as soon as Robinson started detailing his life as it is now it was like a race to the end. It was as if he had used up his allotment of pages for Act 1 & Act 2 of his life, Act 3 would need to be concluded rather quickly. I realize that I should take a lot of this with a major grain of salt given that the author of this book has Asperger's, and as noted in the book, proper sentence structure and communicative skills are not particularly honed by Aspergians. However, I am a non-Aspergian, and I would retain this book as a point of reference for those seeking further insight into the mind of an Aspergian and not particularly as an wholly engaging read.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Romantic Comedies. A Love, Hate Relationship.

I personally love romantic comedies. I love the melodramatic music, the slow-mo camera, the witty puns interjected between the serious moments that are meant to make us think about those things that are bigger than us.
sidebar: if you have not, please see "Moulin Rouge", as silly as it may seem. The movie somehow finds a way to provide satire against the romatic movie genre, while still engaging the audience in a superb love story.
Inevitably, a romantic movie will come to a happy resolution, specifically our hero and heroine find each other. But there's always such a complicated juxtaposition that occurs. In reality, sometimes two people are in the right place at the right time, and everything comes together. There doesn't have to be a struggle for power and/or a "finding of oneself" for a conclusion. Let's proclaim to these lovesick romantics to get over themselves and move on. Unfortunately, that doesn't really make for an interesting movie, so on with the drama and sass, I'll continue watching but please heed my warning. (and if you didn't grasp earlier in my commentary, valentine's day is a bunch of kablooey).

Friday, March 12, 2010

Sunday Proves to be a Success...almost

DISCLAIMER: The following is an old blog I never finished from a couple weekends ago. I'm far behind on my updates.

Having slept the majority of the weekend, my body's response the cold that I refused to admit I was getting, I woke up quite refreshed on Sunday with no illness to speak of. For several weekends I had tried with no success to make it to the farmer's market, but finally persistance (coupled with a previously made deal) paid off. The day earlier I joined Ryan on an impromtu and rather untimely trip to the City of Industry for a Magic Johnson signing. I wasn't even able to feign excitement, so instead I struck a deal. I am pretty sure the only reason Ryan agreed to join me at the Farmer's Market the next day was because he believed it would rain. Rain it did not, the sun greeted me the next morning as well as Mr. Sam-A-Ram licking my face at 7:30 AM. I very patiently waited in bed the next two hours waiting for Ryan to wake up. He was none too excited to learn of my weather updates, but he held up his end of the deal. However, my day adventure did not end up in disappointment such as the City of Industry extravaganza.
sidebar: after my visit, I contend that all trips to the City of Industry end in disappointment
The Studio City Farmer's Market was in fact a success. Ryan loved it and I was able to get all the fruits and veggies I was hoping for. We also came home with a few unexpected treats: White Truffle Oil, Spicy Bacon Jam, and homemade Beef Jerky.Once home from the Farmer's Market, I got busy with my Oscar meal plans. I had promised a variety of appetizers and I did not want to disappoint. Though we only had two guests coming that evening (Phil and Chance), my hostess apron was already on, so I proceeded with my initial meal plan. Ryan's only specific request of the night was for mini quiches, so I will share that recipe.

OSCAR MINI QUICHES:
1 Pre-Made Double Pie Crust
12 Eggs
3/4 c. Milk

1.5 c. Cheese

Chopped Ham

Chopped Broccoli (or any other veggies)

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray regular or mini muffin tin with Pam. Roll out pie crust and roll a little thinner than it already comes. Using a medium to large circle cookie cutter (I don't have one so I used the rim of a highball glass) cut circles out of the dough reserving any additional crust to re-roll and cut additional circles from. Shape circular dough cuts into each separate muffin section, shaping it so it forms a dough cup in the tin. Mix remaining ingrediants, and salt/pepper to taste, in a medium bowl. Ladle mixture into the doughed muffin tins filling each level with the rim of the dough. I sprinkled a little extra cheese on top of each of my mini quiches. Place in oven and bake for about 30 minutes. Check periodically, you can tell its done with a knife comes out clean and the crust is a golden brown.

And though normally while I cook, my audience is limited to Sam and Harley-girl, Ryan wasn't feeling very well after the Farmer's Market so he decided to join Sam in his regular spot in the entryway.

Friends and their Wonderful Achievements

Last weekend was all about reveling in the glow of our friends' honorary events. I can say with utmost certainty that the following two attributes apply so accurately to the two men I want to highlight today: hardworking and skilled.
On Friday we paid a visit to a small art opening that showcased the work of Simpson's artists' work outside of the show. Our very own Chance Raspberry is one of the featured artists and of course did not disappoint. He displayed stills featuring my, and soon to be everyone's, favorite twisted clown. I think my favorite moment of the night was when I overheard one of his former coworkers expressing shock at the fact that "sweet" Chance had this secret dark side....oh if she only knew.



Next up was Saturday evening, lucky for us Drew's ceremony had been moved to this weekend so we were able be there to support him. He has been shockingly absent from this blog since its commencement due to his rather rigorous schedule with work and training. It definitely has paid off however, and it was no surprise to me as I watched him receive his next armband (kind of like getting another belt in karate) as he moved up a level. All of this is happening just a month before his very first fight is happening the first week in April. As much as I absolutely hate to see him fight, not due to lack of ability whatsoever but more due to a protective instinct on my part, I am extremely excited for his fight to finally take place. Once its over I think he will have proved not just to the people in his life, but also to himself what a bit of determination and a hell of a lot of willpower can yield. And though he is doing this with just one good eye, as a co-founder of Patch Match™ I refuse to admit this into the competition, unless maybe I'm wearing a full body padded suit.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Salmon, hold the nuts.

As I am still catching up on a week's worth of extremely minor events, I came across pictures of a pretty lovely meal I made last week that had completely slipped my mind. Per Ry's request, which is how most of my meals come to fruition, we had salmon. To get my cooking juices flowing, no pun intended, I started checking out my favorite website (tastespotting.com) for some ideas. Most of the recipes included Soy Sauce and/or Hoisin. I really was not in the mood for an asian flavored dish, particularly not with the veggies I was making, so I decided to revise a recipe I saw and I think it turned out quite well.

HONEY PECAN SALMON:

Worchestire Sauce
Honey
1/4 c. crushed Pecans

Salmon filet

Cooking Spray

Preheat oven to 375. Coat glass baking dish with cooking spray and place salmon in dish. Cover with several dashes of worchestire to taste, basically enough to cover and/or marinate. Squeeze lines of honey on the coated salmon and kind of mix with the worchestire with your finger or a spoon. I let mine sit for about 15 mins. since we wanted to eat soon, but I think this would be even better if you let it marinate covered in the fridge for a few hours. Heat olive oil in a skillet pan to a medium-high heat. Once drops of water sizzle on the pan, place the salmon in the pan. Sear it on both sides for just about a minute each side. Place the salmon back in the baking dish and cover with crushed pecans, drizzles of some more honey, and salt to taste. Bake for about 12-14 mins. until desired doneness.

And on the side we had our favorite veggies, which is actually so simple that I almost wouldn't even think to post a recipe. However, I made this around Christmas-time with my family and my sister loved it, as was quite clear when I received a text message from her a few days later asking how to make it because she was craving it. That was quite the cooking ego boost I might say. Thinking back however, I believe credit is truly due to my man Tony Chachere, who has made many things I have cooked taste quite complex and utterly delicious with very little effort on my part.

BROCCOLI & CAULIFLOWER SAUTE:

1 bag Frozen mixed Broccoli & Cauliflower

OR

1/2 head of chopped Cauliflower
4-5 Broccoli Florets chopped

Spray Butter
Tony Chachere's Seasoning (or Cajun Spices, or Cayenne)

Spray saute pan with spray butter and heat to medium. Toss cauliflower and broccoli in pan. Sprinkle veggies with salt, pepper, and spicy seasoning of your choice to desired spiciness. Spray veggies with a little more spray butter (enough to coat a little) and sautee veggies for a while in the pan. I recommend cooking them until they start to brown a little. It makes the veggies kind of crunchy and in my opinion better (I will say from what I have read, critics would say I am well overcooking these types of veggies, but I think it tastes better).

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The SANTA BARBARA TOP TEN

Let me first apologize to the few that do read my blog for the delay in my updates. I have plenty of excuses, but none that really matter.

On to the long awaited Santa Barbara post. Though this took place now 2 weekends ago, I felt it deserved a post all its own, mostly because of the magnitude of pictures that were taken thanks to Ms. Brit and Michael & their fancy new camera. Since I could easily write a novel about the fun that we had on our mini-vacation, and since most would agree that I already do write novels in my posts and emails, I have decided to highlight My Top Ten Moments of the SB weekend (these are done in order of occurrence, not by ranking as it would be far too difficult to choose my favorites).

1. ARRIVALS IN THE RAIN FOLLOWED QUICKLY BY MASS CONSUMPTION OF WINE.

So the two other couples arrived much later in the evening Friday as Ryan & I were passed out on the couch. Though nothing could be done to wake my comatose boyfriend, I quickly found my second wind, perhaps the best alarm clock for me would be the sound of a wine bottle being uncorked. I don't fully remember everything we chatted about but there was discussion of wine tasting the next day. I believe our aspirations were far too great considering the last of us did not officially go to bed until 5 AM.

2. RYAN CREEPILY SLEEP WALKS, PROVIDES PREVIEW OF MOVIE TO BE WATCHED THIS WEEKEND.
So Ryan has this thing, he doesn't really sleep but rather comas. Some of the most extreme methods have been tested to wake him from his slumber, and so far only one has been successful, but I am not willing to do that every morning. Until this past weekend, I believe I was one of the few people who has witnessed his very creepy "awake sleep". During our wine-filled merriment in the dining room, we all catch movement finally from the comaed Ryan who is laying on the couch in the living room. He gets up and stands completely still, like he was walking, but someone just put his motion in pause (not unlike some moments in Paranormal Activity which we watched later in the weekend). He then walks to the doors leading to the backyard, fails at his attempts to determine how doors work, gives up and falls asleep on the door. This was pretty fantastic for all of us, and as soon as I have the video of this, it will be posted too.

3. GIANT FAMILY BREAKFAST DISPLAYS ANGELINA BALLERINA'S TALENT WITH EGGS.
I lived with Angelina Ballerina for about 6 months and I discovered that weekend in SB that she never had made me eggs. She has quite a skill and all were in awe of her delicious eggs.

4. POKER, POKER, AND MORE POKER.
The game started after breakfast on Saturday and continued for the rest of the day. We took several needed breaks, but managed to play poker for quite some time with no real winner. Despite several shifts in chip leaders, we ultimately called the game on Sunday as some participants had left and anty-ing up would be difficult.

5. PAT AND CHANCE REDISCOVER A LOVE FOR FROZEN SWEETS.
During one of our poker breaks, a group took a little field trip to the store. Upon their return I believe I witnessed the 6 year old versions of Chance and Pat as they shared their excitement over the treasures they had brought back. Let's just say, we did not fall short in supply of frozen dessert items and I learned just exactly what everyone would do for a Klondike bar.

6. NAP TIME TURNS INTO MOVIE DAY, I CONTEND THAT "THE MIST" STILL SUCKS.
In the early afternoon my excess wine drinking from the night before officially wreaked havoc on my body. I had used any reserves up to that point and realized that my systems were shutting down. Unfortunately, the place I decided to park myself was in the living room, where unbeknownst to me, one of the worst movies of all time was about to start. Unable to move, I endured the beginning, hoping that the few who were watching would come to the realization that I previously had, and decide to change the channel. As the movie progressed, more people began to filter into the living room. Our new room additions had seen this movie before and inexplicably enjoyed it thoroughly. Their advocacy inspired intrigue with those that were unaware of what "The Mist" was, and I was doomed to another loss of two hours of my life.

7. STEAKS FOR DINNER & GIRL TALK WITH WILL FOR DESSERT.
By dinner time I had slightly recharged my batteries, but nothing gets me going like cooking. Throughout the course of Saturday we had three new welcome houseguests: Chance, Nicole, and Will. So for dinner we grilled up steak, chicken, and veggies for the vegetarian(s). If you noticed that I imposed doubt on the fact that there was more than one vegetarian, I commend you for your keen eye. This is due to the fact that this weekend, Ms. Brit had decided she was in fact a vegetarian (Nicole however, is always a vegetarian). After dinner we talked about lady troubles with Will and I sure hope he appreciated my many questions.

8. MOVIES, MOVIES, AND MORE MOVIES.
I think we all did ourselves in on Friday night because Saturday evening was pretty tame. After several rounds of our "grab bag" to decide what movie would be watched, the winner was Angelina Ballerina's pick, "Boondock Saints". I actually completely passed out during the entirety of the movie, but I have seen it several times before, and its due a definite two thumbs up-zies. Once that movie ended we lost a couple movie watchers, but I woke up in time for a mini-marathon as we proceeded to view both "Paranormal Activity" and "Breaking Down".

9. SUNDAY PHOTO SHOOT.
Sunday morning brought another round of a giant group breakfast. I believe I wowed Ms. Brit with my skills in the kitchen as I turned a disastrous gravy into something quite good. Somehow our morning moved into the backyard, likely due to the fact that the sun was finally out and it was officially a beautiful day in SB. A few pictures turned into many more, and suddenly we had quite the photo session. I would love to share them all, but here are some of my favorites.

*Please enjoy the cheese.

10. ANGELINA BALLERINA & I DISPLAY HIDDEN GOLF TALENTS, WE ALL WISH WE COULD RETIRE.
By Sunday afternoon it was down to the last two couples, so we decided to go hit up the driving range and take advantage of the beautiful weather. Not only was I immensely impressed with Ry & Pat's serious skills with their clubs, but I think Angelina Ballerina and I got the hang of it pretty quickly and have some future golf lessons we need to take up to enhance our serious talents. Our driving range trip was made that much better upon the realization that we could bring beer down.

After quite a fun and relaxing weekend with many of the people in the world that I love, I will say that the weekend lived up to my expectations. Though it rained through much of the weekend, it didn't really matter. Ryan and I made the decision that we need to make all of our money now so we can enjoy every day like this, early retirement here we come.

RAZMCK STUDIO: OFFICIAL PLAYLIST

"DANGER" QUOTE OF THE DAY

"DANGER" QUOTE OF THE DAY
"I liked the new blog but I desperately want to know what Brittany is doing in that photo."

MY BABIES

MY BABIES

EYE CANDY

EYE CANDY
 
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