Tuesday, June 19, 2012

IMPORTANT NEWS!!!

After a lot of deliberation, a lot of procrastination, pestering my friends for advice, and then more deliberation, Half-Baked Housewife is getting a new name, a new look, and a new home. 

________________________________________

half-baked

  [haf-beykt, hahf-]  Show IPA
adjective
1.
insufficiently cooked.
2.
not completed; insufficiently planned or prepared: a half-baked proposal for tax reform.
3.
lacking mature judgment or experience; unrealistic.

________________________________________


I chose the original name to reflect my, um, laissez-fare approach to housekeeping. And for some reason, I totally underestimated how many people would assume it was a stoner reference. For the record: I don't smoke. This isn't a pot blog. And the only thing hidden in my brownies are Oreo cookies.

Seriously, though, I found that some people were shying away from cross-promotions because of the name. As someone who wears ripped pajamas to take the trash out to the curb, I was surprised that I actually gave a crap about what people thought -- but I do. So it's changing.

From today on, you can find all the HBH recipes -- and lots of new ones -- at Mom on a Wire.


I love the new name because it ties together the crazy balancing act of having two toddlers and running two businesses from home, while still trying to feed my family something semi-healthy every night and maybe occasionally attempt one of the 120923710293 projects I've pinned on Pinterest. 

There are also a lot of book reviews on the new site, because I've inexplicably decided I need to read more.

While I won't be updating this site, I'm leaving it up -- there are hundreds of pins linking to it on Pinterest, and dead links just bum me out. You have no idea how giddy I get when someone pins one of my recipes, so as a thank-you, the adobo pulled pork and all its friends will live on :)

One last favor: Can you like my new page on Facebook? Okay, now we're officially besties.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

RECIPE: Mexican Pulled Pork in the Slow Cooker

I think it's pretty well-documented that I'm addicted to pulled pork. So, without further ado, here's another way to make pulled pork! This time it's Mexican -- just in time for Cinco de Mayo if, like me, you're probably going to spend Cinco de Mayo eating nachos on the couch while watching Tosh reruns.

By the way, this recipe was a uniting force after this weekend's sweet potato war. Hubby and I both agreed that this recipe was a winner: "One of your best of all time," he declared.


You'll need:

  • 1 lb. boneless pork loin
  • 1/8 cup lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp Goya Salsita (or any green chile sauce)
  • 1 tsp Mrs. Dash's fiesta lime seasoning*
  • 1 tsp Papa Joe's salt
  • 1 tsp ground cilantro
  • 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes


Throw it all in the slow cooker. Cook on LOW for 8 hours. Shred it up and enjoy! I served it with a mix of corn, black beans, and fresh avocado with a few shakes of chili powder and Papa Joe's mixed in. Feliz Cinco! :)

* SUBSTITUTE: a few heavy shakes each of chili pepper, paprika, cumin and cayenne
** SUBSTITUTE: a few heavy shakes each of sea salt, ground black pepper, and garlic powder

Monday, April 30, 2012

RECIPE: Sweet Potato with Ham, Black Beans, Pineapple, and Swiss Chard Cheese Sauce (Jeez, is that title long enough?!)

"A house divided against itself cannot stand." -- Abe Lincoln 

Maybe Abe was talking about Swiss chard? Because the leafy green turned out to be extremely divisive at the dinner table last night. By which I mean I loved it, and hubby hated it.

It started with a LivingSocial deal for Suburban Organics. Basically, Suburban Organics will ship fresh organic fruits and veggies to your door. I have trouble resisting group buys to begin with, and I love getting mail, and I love eating, and I love when things are marketed as organic or local or free trade or any other feel-good words. So hellz yeah I was getting this deal.

My box arrived a few days ago, and it contained some old faves (avocado! bananas! a medium-sized grapefruit!) but it also contained Swiss chard, which I couldn't have picked out of a veggie lineup. I posted a plea for recipes on my Facebook page. Suburban Organics was cool enough to link me to a few recipes on their site, but their recipes were a bit too...well, straight-up chard. As a chard virgin, I felt more comfortable mixing the chard with a bunch of other ingredients.

Enter Brianne at Cupcakes and Kale Chips, a.k.a. my aforementioned former foodie roommate. She sent me a very complicated recipe for Mexican sweet potatoes. I dumbed it down big-time and added ham (I needed the bone for split pea soup this week). And it was nothing short of amazeballs.


Except hubby heartily disagrees with me. His exact quote was, "Eww, what's that smell?" followed by several affirmations that it tasted as bad as it smelled, and finally, the helpful suggestion, "Don't ever cook chard again."

Me? I LOVED IT. So tasty. There were, like 17 unique and delicious flavors going on in my mouth, and it was still delicious. Imagine throwing a party and inviting your work friends, your college friends, your gardening-club friends, and your Civil War reenactment friends and everyone miraculously gets along.

Anyway. You have to be your own judge, but I thought it was awesome. (P.S. I was also directed to this tasty-looking recipe at Smitten Kitchen, but went with the Mexican recipe because I had already eaten half a brick of havarti and figured an au gratin might not be the best idea for dinner. But I'm putting it in the mental database -- clearly, for a night hubby's not home!)

You'll need:

  • sweet potatoes (I made three)
  • Swiss chard (I used four big leaves or stalks or whatever they're called)
  • olive oil
  • Papa Joe's salt
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 15-oz. can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 cup canned pineapple chunks, drained
  • 1 tsp ground cilantro
  • 1 cup diced ham


STEP 1: Stab the sweet potatoes with a fork a few times, and cook them in the microwave on HIGH for about 10 minutes.

STEP 2: Rub some olive oil on a pan. Chop up the Swiss chard (I found a helpful tutorial here) and heat it in a pan with the garlic and a few shakes of Papa Joe's salt (or a mix of sea salt and black pepper).

STEP 3: In a bowl, mix the red pepper, black beans, pineapple, chili powder, cumin, cilantro, ham, and and lime juice.


STEP 4: The chard should be pretty soft now. Add the cheese and milk to the pan until melted, then puree the whole shebang in a food processor.

(No, seriously, this is the dumbed-down version! I am telling you, my friend is nuts in the kitchen.)

STEP 5: Cut open a sweet potato, scoop in some salsa, and pour a little bit of the cheesy chard sauce on top.

STEP 6: Ignore husband who clearly has no taste buds.

STEP 7: Steal hubby's rejected cheesy chard sauce and mix it into your eggs the next morning. OM NOM NOM all over again.


Thanks for the recipe, Brianne!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

RECIPE: S'mores Pops!

I'm feeling snackish today. Maybe it's because the last of the Easter candy finally ran out. I could literally eat a baker's dozen of these s'mores pops right now. (But I won't. Really. I won't.)

You may remember my recipe for portable s'mores from a little while ago, which was inspired by my love of campfire food and my fear of forest fires. These s'mores pops are inspired by both of the above, plus:

  • my annoyance with hauling my butt all the way to Joann Fabrics for melting chocolate every time I want to make something chocolate-covered;
  • several unsuccessful attempts at making cake pops. In fairness to myself, "unsuccessful" is a bit too harsh. I mean, no matter how fugly they were, they were still chocolate-dipped cupcakes. But they weren't adorable like cake pops are supposed to be;
  • a surplus of popsicle sticks;
  • an unexplainable competitive streak which made me determined to bring the cutest dessert of anyone at our most recent family gathering, nyah nyah nyah.



To get past the melting chocolate problem, I used my husband's oil trick from our recent chocolate-covered pretzel cookoff. See step 3.

You'll need:

  • a bag of marshmallows
  • a bag of chocolate chips (I used the Nestle minis)
  • about eight whole graham crackers
  • popsicle sticks
  • 2 tsp. vegetable oil
  • wax paper

STEP 1: Crush the graham crackers in a bowl.

STEP 2: Put a sheet of wax paper on a cutting board or plate.

STEP 3: Put the chocolate chips in a bowl and microwave on 50% power for 30 seconds. Stir, then microwave on 50% power for 15 seconds. Stir. Repeat in 15-second intervals until the chocolate starts to melt. Mix in 2 light teaspoons of vegetable oil and stir vigorously* until all the chocolate is still thick and goopy, but completely melted.

STEP 4: Hold a marshmallow by the edge and dip into the chocolate, followed by the crushed graham crackers. Lay the marshmallow "clean"-side down on a sheet of wax paper. Keep going until all the marshmallows are coated.

STEP 5: Put the marshmallows in the fridge for 15-20 minutes to set the chocolate.

STEP 6: Take the marshmallows back out and poke 'em with the popsicle sticks.

STEP 7: Do your cute little presentation thing, to really drive home to point of how awesome you are. I got these glass jars at Target for $5 and wrapped them with cheapo ribbon from Joann Fabrics -- clearly I can't escape that store even when I try.

Enjoy!

* Kind of a favorite word of mine right now.



This recipe was featured on...
my foodgawker gallery
Perfect timing...I'm adding this recipe to the S'mores Week Roundup at CookiesAndCups.com!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

RECIPE: Baked Barbecue Tofu

Tofu is a weird food. The words "bean curd" freak me out, to be honest. I mean...is it curdled soy milk? I don't actually know the answer, and I've never Googled it because I don't want to know. Just in case I'm right.

The first time I tried tofu was at a Whole Foods near my old office. They had chipotle-lime tofu in the salad bar, and compared with the rest of the lunch options at Whole Paycheck, tofu had one distinct advantage -- the salad bar charges by the pounds, and tofu doesn't weigh much. I mean, a pound of tofu is the size of a brick. (Unlike tomatoes and watermelons, which are pretty much the biggest salad bar rip-offs ever.)

But then I tried to make tofu at home, and to say it didn't go well would be an understatement. I bought a lump of tofu, chopped it up, threw it into a pan with some seasoning, and after about 20 minutes I had a pan full of what looked like spicy curdled milk. So, I resigned myself to the fact that Whole Foods was working black magic on their tofu and I'd have to keep paying them $5.99 a pound to do so.

I waited four whole years before trying again. Luckily, in the interim, someone had tipped me off to the secret of slicing the tofu into 1/2"-thick slabs and pressing it between several layers of paper towels to absorb all the moisture. Once I had that little trick in my wheelhouse, it was a whole different story.

Until now, we've mainly been sautéing tofu in a teriyaki sauce. But then I came across a few recipes for oven-roasted tofu and figured I'd give it a try -- mainly because the cook time was only 25 minutes, and I was working on taxes all day and had forgotten to cook anything. I went with a barbecue theme because, well, those were the ingredients I had in stock.

Verdict: Delicious and so much easier than sautéing!


You'll need:
  • 1 lb. extra firm tofu
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • a few shakes of Frank's Red Hot

STEP 1: Mix everything but the tofu in a bowl and stir vigorously. Once you add the tofu, you're going to need to be gentle, so now is the time to get your aggression out with the whisk.

STEP 2: After drying out the tofu per the instructions above*, toss it (gently! did I mention gently?) in the bowl with the sauce.

STEP 3: Line a baking sheet with tin foil, non-shiny side up, and spread the tofu out in an even, single layer.

STEP 4: Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes or until edges start to look golden-brown.

That's it! I served it with a broccoli-cauliflower Steamfresh packet and Alexia sweet potato waffle fries. Yum! Perfect summer meal (since it's apparently already summer here in the Northeast).


* I slaved over a bright computer all night** writing this post for you! Read the paragraphs!
** Okay, I was primarily wasting time on Facebook. And yes, I just footnoted a footnote. That has to be some sort of new literary device -- can we name it after me?


This recipe was featured on....



Sunday, April 15, 2012

RECIPE: Slow Cooker Spicy Adobo Pulled Pork

So, if you're following along, you know that I've basically spent the past week torturing my family's palates with spicy foods (well, except for the less-adventurous toddler, who's been eating a lot of rigatoni and apple slices). This was the last installment of my self-proclaimed Spicy Food Week. It definitely has a kick, which you can mellow out by using less adobo sauce*.


You'll need:

  • 1-2 lbs. pork
  • 1 can chicken broth
  • 1 can of Goya chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin

Throw everything into the slow cooker and stir it around a bit. I plucked the peppers out after stirring, because I hate the soggy texture of canned peppers -- but pluck them out after you stir, because otherwise you'll waste a lot of sauce. (The chicken broth sort of "rinses" the sauce off the pepper. That's the best way I can explain it.) Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

I served it with a sliced avocado and Goya rice with pigeon peas**, but it would be the perfect meat for burritos, quesadillas, enchiladas, fajitas, or taco night***.


*This tip has been brought to you by Chef Obvious.


** One of those boxed mixes. I don't know what pigeon peas are, and I certainly don't cook with them of my own accord.


*** Have I forgotten any delicious uses for tortillas?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

RECIPE: Spicy Buffalo Chicken Dip

I know, buffalo chicken dip recipes are a dime a dozen. But this one is particularly simple, spicy, semi-healthy, and super-delicious...if I do say so myself. And I do. I'll put my money where my mouth is on this dip. Or actually, I'll put this dip where my mouth is, repeatedly, until the bowl is empty.

I think I got a little lost in that metaphor. And I made myself hungry.

Anyway, check out this bowl o' yum!


You'll need:
  • (3) 5-oz. cans of shredded chicken*
  • 4 oz. Philadelphia cream cheese**
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup Frank's Red Hot
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
Mix it all in a bowl and microwave it for a minute or two, or put it in the oven at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Let it set for a minute or two before you start dipping. I like red peppers for dipping.***

* Or 2 cups of the real thing, but the canned stuff is shredded so nicely and I just don't have the patience.
** Well, any cream cheese will do, but I have to represent my home turf.
*** Not true. I like nachos. But let's pretend.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

RECIPE: Quick Chicken Curry with Spinach Chole

If you've ever made Indian food, you know it's a laborious, hours-long epicurean journey of chopping and rubbing and overnight-marinating and simmering and slow-cooking and hunting down approximately 1,937 ingredients you can't pronounce.

That's why I usually end up buying the Trader Joe's Indian packets. I mean, $2 and 90 seconds in the microwave, and you have tofu and veggies in a creamy curry. And it's delicious. For real, why would I try to compete with that?

Here's why: Because I bought some plain Chobani yogurt a few weeks ago, and my husband ate it before I had the chance to use it. So I bought some more, and he ate it again, and I was like, "Dude, I bought that for a recipe!"and he was like, "Oh really? Because it's been in the fridge for a few fortnights*" so I vowed to use yogurt in a recipe ASAP to prove I had a plan all along.

So I decided to come up with a chicken curry recipe that's actually semi-easy. Is it as good as real chicken tikka masala? No. But it also doesn't take longer to prepare than an actual plane ride to India, so at least I win on that front.


What you'll need...

FOR THE MARINADE:
  • 1-2 lbs. chicken
  • 6 oz. Chobani plain yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp garlic
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp Papa Joe's salt (a mix of sea salt, pepper, and garlic power)


FOR THE SAUCE:
  • 2 tsp ground cumin (yeah, more cumin)
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp Papa Joe's salt (yeah, more salt)
  • 8 oz. tomato sauce
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp ground cilantro
  • 1 tsp Coffeemate Simply Sweet Cream


Combine the marinade stuff in a large ziploc bag or bowl and let it sit in the fridge for an hour or two or three. When you're ready to eat, saute the chicken and marinade in one pan until it's cooked through, and simmer the sauce in another pot for 20 minutes. Mix them together.

For the spinach chole, I just bought a box of chole and added in 1/2 cup of spinach. I can't handle the time commitment of soaking beans, and I'll never out-chole a packaged chole anyway.

બોન ખોરાક
If that's not Gujarati for bon appetit, you can blame Google.


* I'm paraphrasing. He would never say "fortnight."

Monday, April 9, 2012

Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Recipe (a.k.a. Alligator Bites)

My brother-in-law Mike and I are basically polar opposites, but we share one very important belief:

BACON MAKES EVERYTHING BETTER.

I mean, when you see the words "bacon-wrapped" in a recipe, you know it's a guaranteed win, right?

Anyway. Mike served these at a party last month, and I stole the recipe and have pretty much found every possible excuse to make them. The recipe is short and simple, but it also presents several opportunities to burn yourself, so don't skim over the disclaimers in your rush to consume bacon.


You'll need:
  • one pack of bacon (I like the new Oscar Meyer Selects nitrate- and nitrite-free kind!)
  • a bunch of fresh jalapenos (Short and fat work best. I think I used eight in the above photo.)
  • 4 oz. cream cheese (I like Philadelphia cream cheese!)
  • 1 Tbsp. Old Bay seasoning

STEP 1: Slice the stems off the jalapenos, cut them lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds and meaty stuff. 

STEP 2: In a bowl, mix the cream cheese and Old Bay. Scoop the cheese mix into the hollowed-out jalapenos. 

STEP 3: Wrap each jalapeno with a slice of uncooked bacon and secure it with a toothpick.

STEP 4: Place a metal grate (I used the one from the toaster oven) over a baking pan or a casserole dish. Lay the wrapped jalapenos on the grate, and cook at 400 degrees until the bacon browns to your liking. You can also grill them -- that's how Mike made them, but I'm too lazy and pyrophobic to cook outside.


DISCLAIMERS!!!!
  • When you're chopping fresh jalapenos, you might want to wear gloves, especially if you're using an extra-spicy variety. Don't touch your eyes. Be careful if you have asthma. The best idea is to trick someone else into doing this part of the job. It sucks! 
  • If you ignore the above disclaimer and end up with jalapeno burn-juice on your hands, wash with dishwashing soap, then soak your hands in lemon juice for a few seconds (make sure you get the lemon juice under your nails, too!), then once more with the dish soap. Lick your finger as a test before touching your eyes.
  • DO NOT use a cookie sheet under the grate! The bacon fat will drip down through the grate, so use a fairly deep dish or baking pan (like a brownie pan) to keep the fat from burning your hands or turning your oven into a box of fire.
  • Control yourself when it comes out of the oven. The cheese is hot lava for the first minute or two.
As long as you follow these guidelines, you'll enjoy injury-free deliciousness.

P.S. If you like gardening, jalapenos are ridiculously easy to grow! 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

And this is why I don't like the Fray.

I'm sorry. I know I'm supposed to like the Fray. Everyone likes the Fray.

But I just don't.

{courtesy of Facebook}

My hatred for the Fray started out as a casual dislike. I wasn't a huge fan of "Over My Head (Cable Car)." I didn't loathe it, but I didn't love it. I just casually disliked it. But then "How to Save a Life" played on an episode of Grey's Anatomy, and suddenly that song was on every radio station at once. I don't know if you're familiar with New York radio, but for being the biggest city in the world* and an epicenter of pop culture, their radio stations suck big-time. There's one acceptable pop station, which plays the same three songs on a loop. Then you have zero rock stations, one or two decent hip-hop stations, and the adult contemporary station you listen to when you can't possibly hear Selena Gomez one more time without stabbing your ears out.

So anyway, "How to Save a Life" was the stab-your-ears-out song of the moment at a time when I was commuting 60 miles each way on the New Jersey Turnpike, which meant that on a heavy traffic day, I could easily hear the song eight or nine times on my way to work. I still have an angry Pavlovian reaction when I hear the monotone, "Step one, you say we need to talk..."

Which might explain why this video of The Fray butchering the National Anthem made me instantly hostile.


I'm sorry, but this is not your cover song. It's the Star-Spangled freaking Banner! You sing it nice, and you get the words right**.  You don't need to breathe new life into it. We all know it's a kinda boring song with hard words to remember, but it's the national anthem, which means it's not your song to fix. More important artists have sung it without "re-inventing" it -- stop being so cool. And by the way, "Some sort of window to your right / Where he goes left and you stay right"? Worst line ever. There are like fifty words that rhyme with "right." Use one of them.

ARRGGGGHHHHHH.

 Did I mention the angry Pavlovian reaction?


* Right? I didn't fact-check this. Could be Tokyo.

** Ahem, Christina Aguilera. I mean, come on, I know the words by heart and I've never gotten paid to sing it!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

How to Rescue Almost-Ruined Chocolate Covered Pretzels

Originally, this post was going to be called "How to Make Chocolate Covered Pretzels" for the benefit of anyone who, like me, doesn't have the crafty gene and needs to be handheld through the process the first time. (And yes, I'm calling it a craft. You can't buy sugar and flour at Joann Fabrics, but you can buy melting chocolates! Hence it's a craft.)

I was making chocolate covered pretzels for a friend's Easter Egg Hunt. Things started out okay. I put the chocolate in the microwave for a minute on 50% power.



I kept popping it back in for 20-second intervals at 50% power until it got nice and melted.



Or so I thought. While I was microwaving, I was also telling some long-winded story to my husband and I apparently overshot the melting process a little, because when I tried to dip my pretzels, they turned into delicious-but-fugly chocolate globs.



Now, here's where my hubby and I went in different directions. I wanted to take the easy way out; he is an engineer. So we present you with two options for rescuing chocolate covered pretzels when you get distracted and accidentally overcook the chocolate a little bit.

OPTION A: JUST GO WITH IT

Crush the pretzels and dump them in the bowl of goopy chocolate until you have a pleasing pretzel-to-chocolate ratio.


Scoop one-inch balls of pretzel mush out of the bowl and let it set on wax paper. Done! Wasn't that easy?



But my husband doesn't do easy. So he decided to go with....


OPTION B: THE CHEMISTRY EXPERIMENT

Add vegetable oil to your chocolate, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, until it hits a consistency that seems conducive to dipping and evenly coating pretzels. For my husband, this ended up being around 2 teaspoons. Then dip and set as usual.

[EDIT: Okay, hubby wants me to alert you to two things. First, the interweb warns that you should never add more than a tablespoon! And second, even with only two teaspoons, it took a lot of stirring to get it to cooperate. This is why I stand by my pretzel clusters!)



He would want me to point out how much nicer his look than mine. But I would like to point out that I sabotaged him by making him test out his scientific theory using peppermint chips, and everyone was a little scared of the mint pretzels. Even though they were delicious, much like Snyder's York Peppermint Pretzel Dips, which are the best thing since sliced bread and I don't know why they're not in stock anywhere! But I digress.

Anyway, both methods work very well in their own way, so don't abandon ship if your melting chocolate isn't cooperating! And I'm happy to report that all the pretzels played very nicely together on a party tray.


The End.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

EASY-PEASY RECIPE: Honey-Soy Chicken

Secret recipes are a big pet peeve of mine. I hate when someone tells you a recipe, and you try to recreate it, and it so obvious that they've conveniently "forgotten" a key ingredient. It's like they're thinking, "If they know how to make my oatmeal cookies, what reason will they have to invite me to parties?!"

I have no secrets in the kitchen. Which is why I was a little peeved when I pulled this recipe from my Pinterest board today and noticed something was....a little off. Looks delicious, right? But what are the red things? The recipe doesn't call for anything red. What are you trying to do to me?!

As it turns out, I didn't have enough soy sauce so I had to tweak it a bit anyway.

Secret recipe for the veggies: Bag of Steamfresh Asian Medley.

You'll need:

  • 1 lb. of boneless chicken strips
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • three shakes of cilantro flakes

Stir everything but the chicken in a bowl, then mix in the chicken. Funny story, I went to throw the chicken wrapper away and when I came back, I couldn't find my fork anywhere. It was gone. Gone! My husband always complains because I use, like, 42 pieces of silverware to make a single meal, but it's because I'm always misplacing the stuff I'm working with. As you can see from this photo, the fork was nowhere to be found.


Yeah. So anyway, stir it all around, let it hang out in the marinade for a few minutes, and then cook over low heat in a skillet.


I know, that picture really isn't helpful in any way. I'm pretty sure you already know how to put chicken in a skillet. I wasn't worried that you might stack all the chicken into a giant chicken-tower in the middle, or anything like that. It's just that once I get into picture-taking mode, I can't be stopped.

You'll notice there's no cilantro in the skillet. That's because I forgot it. So, it's up to you whether you add it to the marinade, or add it to the skillet. That's not a secret -- that's just good old-fashioned forgetfulness. (Wait, where did I put my fork?)

P.S. Bringing this dish to the linky party at Countertop Confections. What's a linky party? Beats me. But darned if I'm not going to show up!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

EASY-PEASY RECIPE: Tagine-Style Chickpeas with Couscous

Lately I've been recycling a few of my favorite recipes, which is a nice, euphemistic way of saying I've been stuck in a recipe rut. So when my husband forwarded me a tagine recipe from his boss, I was like, "Awesome!"

Okay, not really. I was like, "What the hell is a tagine? It calls for dates...what are dates?" Dates are one of those things I'd heard of but never knew exactly what they were. But armed with information from a few helpful readers, I set off on an epic quest to find dates.

Except it was 75 degrees that day, so when I failed to find them at the closest grocery store, I abandoned my quest (a.k.a. a trip to Whole Foods) and went to the park with the boys instead. So I decided to use raisins* as a substitute for now. (I think figs would make a bangin' substitute, too.)


I modified the original recipe to an unrecognizable degree because it was way complicated -- a lot of steps, a lot of stove-vigilance, a lot of unfamiliar ingredients. So this is my super-simple version.

You'll need:
  • one box of plain couscous
  • 15 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cans of chickpeas
  • 1 cup raisins, dates, figs, or dried apricots
  • 1 tsp. ground cilantro
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. coriander
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1/8 cup water

Saute everything but the tomatoes and water in a little bit of olive oil, until the chickpeas start to look a little more cooked. Then add the tomatoes and water, and simmer for 5-10 minutes.

In a separate pot, cook the couscous according to the package instructions. I use instant couscous because it takes 10 minutes max, and I sprinkled a little salt and pepper in the water while it was setting.

Scoop it on and enjoy!


* Even though I hate raisins. Seriously, can someone explain their appeal? It takes nine years to chew them and even longer to wash the sticky residue off your hands. They're like a natural alternative to industrial-strength wood glue. Still, I took one for the team.

Friday, March 2, 2012

How to Fake Your Way to Being a Facebook Foodie Mom

I literally just spent 10 minutes giggling at this magical little section of Nickelodeon's nickmom site. It almost -- almost -- makes me forgive them for bringing Max & Ruby into our household.

My personal fave was the most recent post, the Foodie Mom. Quick -- go read it and come back.

...riiiiight!? I think everyone has one or two or five of them in our social circle. And, um, I'm definitely NOT that mom in my circle.

Look! I made pastries!

My friend Brianne is one of those moms. Hopefully she's not offended by me putting her on shout. After all, her foodie-ness made her an excellent college roommate to have -- we were probably the only people on campus using our liter of Smirnoff to make penne alla vodka. Nowadays she runs her own little corner of the blogosphere called Cupcakes and Kale Chips, where she shares recipes like "parmesan balsamic-caramelized onion smashed potatoes." (I didn't make that up.) Most of her meals have, like, seven unique side dishes. Meanwhile, I pat myself on the back if I don't screw up beef stew. (Side dish?! I don't know, heat up one of those Steamfresh bags. What do I look like, a diner?)

As a result, her Facebook updates are usually along the lines of, "Just made the boys a filet mignon with a red wine reduction and a side of braised cauliflower...now onto the honey-glazed pecan tartlets!" (I'm talking out of my ass here, so apologies if those aren't real food terms.) I usually read these posts while my kids are eating Goldfish crackers out of a Tupperware bowl. Look, I try to feed my kids healthy food as often as possible, but sometimes it's 12:15 and they're melting down and only McCain smiley-face fries will placate them.

So I figured I'd come up with a helpful little guide for making your Facebook food posts sound more impressive than they are. With a little bit of clever wording, you too can be a Facebook foodie!

  1. Skip the brand names. Cheerios become "toasted oats," Eggos become "buttermilk waffles," and Pizza Rolls become "mini-strombolis." 
  2. List ingredients. Add oomph by rattling off the (pronounceable) ingredients from the label. Today we'll be having pasta with tomato puree, cheddar, and paprika extract...or, y'know, Spaghetti-O's.
  3. Don't forget the details. Here's where it all comes together. Did you serve PBJ and potato chips? Or did you serve roasted peanut spread with grape jam on whole-grain bread with a side of thin-sliced potatoes fried in soybean oil?
See how easy? 


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Live Blogging the Oscars Even Though I've Only Seen One or Two Movies This Year

As far as I can remember, the only Oscar-nominated movie I've seen ths year was Bridesmaids. Well, I also saw The Social Network, but that was nominated last year, or maybe the year before.

So naturally I feel obligated to live blog and offer my extremely educated opinions. Mostly because if I just sit and watch, I'll die of boredom. I'll probably take a long ice cream break, shower during the lifetime achievement crap, and fall asleep at 10:05. Here goes.


The Oscar I usually watch.

The Oscar I'm watching tonight. Decidedly less informed about this one.
8:37 p.m.
Martin Scorcese's daughter (I'm assuming that's his daughter?) looks as enthralled as I am.

8:43
I honestly thought Hugo was animated. (My husband just said, "We can be in Mordor by sundown!" Because he looks like Ian McKellan?) (The guy from Hugo...not my husband.)

8:47
I was more excited about the Ellen commercials tonight than the show itself. I can go to bed now. Just kidding! I haven't even had ice cream yet.

8:52
Why are we retrospect-ing already? The show's been on for 20 minutes.
I appreciate the irony in J-Lo saying a woman's dress should be loose enough to show she's a lady. She looks like boobs in Saran wrap. And I can see 50% of her butt cheek.

9:00
Are we reminiscing about our first movie? Mine was Follow that Bird. Starring Big Bird. He gave a convincing performance.

9:05
Seriously? My two year old is awake? Go back to sleep!

9:06
I miss Sandra Bullock's face. I mean that literally -- I miss the face she had last year.

9:11
I freakin' love Melissa McCarthy. I hope everyone voted for her.
Oh. Nope.

9:13
Okay, now I love Octavia Spencer too.

9:20
Let me just say this is a 100% accurate portrayal of focus groups.

9:22
Tina Fey and Bradley Cooper! Girl crush and boy crush!

9:25
"Let's get out of here, we're editors" will probably stand as my favorite acceptance speech of the night.

9:26
"Hugo." "No, HU-go." I just threw up in my mouth.

9:30
Snack time. Why aren't Reese's Eggs available year-round?

9:36
Cirque du Soleil = awesome. OMG IS THAT GIRL SPINNING ON ONE ARM EVEN KIDDING? Insane.

9:42
Nominees for Best Documentary: Hmm? Huh? What? And Who?

9:46
My husband is officially asleep. That pretty much cuts the number of people paying attention to my obnoxious commentary in half.

9:58
Okay, so I just took a Words With Friends break....did I miss anything? I'm guessing no.

10:09
Mind-reading bit = not funny at all. Brad Pitt has a lot of kids! Martin Scorcese directs movies! Ha ha ha haaaa I should go to sleep.

10:12
It's Lightning McQueen!
It's Lightning McQueen!
It's Lightning McQueen!
It's Lightning McQueen!

10:25
I'm losing interest. Even Angelina can't save me now.

10:53
Just spent 25 minutes on Pinterest. Looks like the show has stayed mostly boring.

10:56
Governers Awards? I'm going back to Pinterest.

11:11
Make a wish! I wish I were asleep.

11:20
Jean Dujardin is a handsome man.

11:29
Yay Meryl Streep. I'm going to sleep. <-- That's poetry.
Sorry, Best Picture. I'm trying to care enough! But I don't.

Friday, February 24, 2012

SLOW COOKER RECIPE: Honey-Balsamic Pulled Pork

Why am I sitting here at 10:22 at night, eating pulled pork? Because this pulled pork was awesome. So awesome that I....

Forewent?? Is that really the past tense of forego?

Okay then. I forewent my usual cookie dough ice cream for a second helping of cold, leftover pork. Yeah. This is serious. I'm not sure I can choose a winner between this and my reigning favorite pulled pork recipes (cuban pork and mesquite pulled pork a.k.a. "porkgasm") but it's definitely on the podium somewhere.

My inspiration was a recipe for sliders I found here, but with a few substitutions and some major simplification.


You'll need:
  • 1-2 lbs. pork
  • 1/2 cup broth (I used beef broth)
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. ground mustard
  • 1 T. minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. Papa Joe's salt

No prep work needed, just dump it all in the crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

And then sneak into the kitchen later and have some as a bedtime snack. Trust me.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

EASY PEASY RECIPE: Turkey-Vegetable Meatballs with Spaghetti Squash

I'm attempting to lose the last of my baby weight, since my baby is almost, um, two years old. So I'm trying to ease up on the carbs. But easing up on carbs makes me think about carbs, which makes me crave carbs, which makes me want to stuff my face with a giant plate of spaghetti and meatballs.


Nope, I didn't cheat. That's not spaghetti, and the meatballs are stuffed with spinach, mushrooms, and carrots. Hold on while I pat myself on the back! By the way, this is one of those recipes that sounds obnoxious and braggy but is actually really easy. Five or 10 minutes to prep, 25 minutes to bake.

You'll need:
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup grated romano
  • 2 Tbsp. garlic
  • 1 cup spinach (frozen, thawed)
  • 5-10 baby carrots (chopped)
  • 5-6 white mushrooms (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs


Chop the veggies to smithereens. I swear by my chopper from Pampered Chef. 


Mix everything in a bowl and squish it up good.


Doesn't that just LOOK virtuous?

Rub olive oil on the bottom of a casserole dish, and roll the meat sludge into 2" balls.


Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes or until the meatballs start turning slightly golden-brown.

I should have taken a photo of the spaghetti squash, but I was too busy scalding my fingertips on it. But it's easy. Stab some holes in it, throw it in the microwave for 10 minutes, wait a few minutes for it to turn from molten lava back into a vegetable again, slice it in half, scrape out the seeds, and then just start scraping out the "spaghetti." I topped it with Classico Spicy Red Pepper tomato sauce.

Does it taste like spaghetti? Not at all! But at least my eyeballs think we're eating spaghetti, and I can twirl it on my fork, so that's something. Plus, I snuck five vegetables (well, four vegetables and a fruit, for the tomato nerds) into one meal. I'm like that girl who wrote the book about sneaking spinach into her kids' brownies -- except, you know, not famous or wealthy.


Shared this recipe on Real Food Wednesday at Kelly the Kitchen Kop.
And thanks to Brianne at Cupcakes and Kale Chips for pointing me towards RFW!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

EASY-PEASY RECIPE: 20-Minute Chili (And It's Healthy!)

Hi! Sorry for the lapse in blogging, but I just got back from a lovely and relaxing four-week sabbatical in Paris.

bonjour je suis vraiment à paris c'est fromage!
Okay, that's a lie.

I've just been super busy and fell way behind on the updates. And then once I was a week behind, nothing seemed interesting enough after all the anticipation! (What's that, you say? You weren't waiting on the edge of your seat for another blog post? Shhh! Don't tell me that!) And then the longer I waited, the more interesting I felt I needed to be upon my return.

But today I decided -- screw being interesting! I'm just going to jump back in and post a recipe for chili!

I already have a recipe on here for slow-cooker chili, but tonight I got a hankerin' for chili* at about 4:47 p.m. So, I had to make do. This recipe is totally diet-friendly, by the way, which is important because I've spent the past week eating Slutty Brownies after almost every meal. It's been a bad scene.

This chili can be ready, start to finish, in 20 minutes.

You'll need:

  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 2 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp. paprika
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle blend
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 10-oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 8-oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
  • 2 cups beans (I used a mix of black and kidney)
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt and pepper (I used Papa Joe's salt as usual)
  • 1 tsp. onion powder

In a big sauce pot, cook the ground turkey in some olive oil. Once it's brown, add all the other stuff and simmer for 15 minutes. That's it. C'est tout, c'est finit. Wasn't that easy?



Okay. More updates, more often. I promise.

* Did you know this is the gerund form of the word hanker? I could also say, "I hanker for chili." I think I'm going to start using that.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

CRAFTY STUFF: I made a patchwork quilt. Don't judge me.

Okay, I know this is way beyond my normal level of craftiness, which is zero. (If you don't believe me, click the "crafts" tab. I think I'm up to a whopping two posts.)



But I had to do something to save my favorite pajamas! Let me explain. In 2008, I went to Disney World. I'm a total Disney freak, it was my 16th visit, it was Christmas, and I was six months preggo with my older son, Danger. So I was pretty much as happy as I could get, despite the fact that 14 hours a day of Disney magic made my cankles look like legit water buffalo hooves.

Anyway, I bought a pair of awesome pajama pants while I was there. I loved the fabric -- hot pink, day-glo orange, lime green, turquoise, red, and black. It was borderline vaudeville and borderline tacky, and I wore them almost every night (and some days) for about two years, until they finally ripped. Hubby suggested it was finally time to get rid of them. I'm pretty sure I heard joy in his voice -- I think these pants were his Leg Lamp. "I am never throwing these out!" I proclaimed. "I will make them into a quilt!"

Cue one year later and the pants were still sitting on a shelf in my office. "Can we throw these out now?" hubby asked. We were in the middle of a 365 project in which we threw out one item a day, so I had to get going on the quilt or the pants would be tossed.

The only problem was I had never made a quilt before. But between a vague recollection of seventh grade Home Ec, a helpful Joann's Fabrics employee (who patiently fielded questions like, "what's batting?" and "how do you put all the layers together?"), and occasionally checking Pinterest to make sure I wasn't screwing up royally, I managed to cobble it together. Here's a basic patchwork quilt tutorial, if you can call it that. I won't use any technical terms because I don't know them.

STEP 1: Pick out a crap ton of fabric. If you're not familiar with fabric, it's usually 54" wide -- you order the length you need in yards. I bought two yards for the back of the quilt, plus a cumulative 2-3 yards for the front of the quilt. Err on the high side for the front, since you'll lose a lot of square inches while sewing. I got a full yard of polka-dot blue for the front, 1/2 yard of orange, 1/2 yard of lime, 1/2 yard of hot pink, and had about 1/2 yard after I cut up my pants. The cotton and flannel fabrics are usually cheapest, which is good when you need a lot of yardage and there's a distinct chance you're going to ruin everything and/or give up.

STEP 2: Cut fabric into 6-inch squares. My quilt is about 4' x 5', which required 96 squares. (Save some for the trim -- a little over half a yard.)

STEP 3: Make a map. This is nerdy, but it was a huge help. I didn't want to have three big squares of lime next to each other, or to get halfway through the quilt and realize I'd run out of Mickey squares.


STEP 4: Lay the first two squares front-to-front and sew the right edge. Set your sewing machine to go in a straight line, pretty tight stitch. I don't know what the settings are actually called, but I do know that my one-year-old, Dash, changed them every single time I walked away from the sewing machine for more than three seconds. 


STEP 5: Keep repeating step 4 (front-to-front, sew right edge) until you have a full line of fabric squares:


STEP 6: Roll it up and stick a label on it so you know which line it is on your map. Not vital, but it'll save you a lot of time and brainpower later.


STEP 7: Do the above steps for each line in your quilt-map.


STEP 8: Take line 1 and line 2 and lay them face-up on the floor. Flip line 2 over so it's facedown on line 1, and sew the bottom edge. I forgot to take a photo of this step, but it's probably fairly intuitive. If it makes your fabric squares start to look like a real patchwork quilt, you did it right! (If this makes no sense at all, do a Pinterest search, and godspeed.)

STEP 9: Once you have the full patchwork portion of the quilt sewn together, you can cut your trim pieces.   First, you'll need two pieces that are 6" wide (or whatever looks good to you) x (the length of your quilt).

STEP 10: Lay the trim facedown against the left edge of your patchwork, and sew the left edge. Then do the same thing on the right side of your patchwork, sewing the right edge. For reasons unknown, I took three photos of this step.




STEP 11: Cut another two pieces of trim -- this time, 6" wide x (the width of your quilt). It's important to save this cutting until now, so you know how wide your quilt is after the left and right trim pieces are added. Unless you're a master quilter and really good at measuring, in which case, why are you reading this tutorial? I told you I don't know what I'm doing!

STEP 12: Sew the trim on the top and bottom, the same way you did on the left and right. Now you have a finished front piece!

STEP 13: Cut the back piece of fabric to the same size as the front.

STEP 14: Go buy some batting. (If you already have batting, because you knew you'd need it way back in the title when I said the word "quilt," then you're a step ahead of me.) Cut the batting to the same size as the front and back of the quilt.

STEP 15: Make a quilt sandwich. Front side (face up), batting, back side (face down). Oh -- if you want to "sign" the quilt, now's the time to do it, before you close it up. 

STEP 16: Pin the edges together. If you want to tack the quilt, you can do that now. Basically, just take embroidery thread, and at various points in the patchwork, loop the needle through all three layers of fabric and back, and tie it in place. This just keeps the binding from bunching up when you wash it. There are other, more complicated ways to do this, but I didn't try any of them. 

STEP 17: Bind the edges. Okay, this step could probably use its own tutorial, but if you buy pre-made binding, it's actually fairly intuitive and easy. Ask the people at Joann's -- they're really nice. Just fold the binding under at the corners for clean edges.


...and there you go! A quilt you can brag about for generations to come. And a great way to rescue your favorite pajamas, baby clothes, old shirts, etc.

I'm exhausted.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Smores Fun, Part 2: Portable Smores

I love smores. Campfires? Not so much. I have a wicked case of pyrophobia. Just lighting a candle at home requires serious strategy and vigilance -- Will I be home the rest of the day? There's no chance of me leaving the candle unattended, as the label explicitly warns against? OMG, did an ember just fly off when I blew it out? I'd better go look for it.... So a forest fire is my personal equivalent of a 25-foot python or a hairy spider the size of your fist. Which makes camping difficult, because I have to stay up all night making sure our fun smores-fest isn't going to burn down the Pine Barrens.

I guess my point is, these smores are much easier. And less messy. And they last for days and travel well in a Ziploc bag. All good things!



You'll need:

  • jumbo marshmallows
  • melting chocolates (I got them at Michael's)
  • graham crackers
  • wax paper (preferably...but a cookie sheet would work)

STEP 1: Crush one sleeve of graham crackers. I put them in a plastic baggie and used the flat side of a meat tenderizer. Ideally, stop when they look like tiny graham cracker crumbles, but before they turn into powder (but powder's okay, too). Pour the crushed grahams into a small bowl.

STEP 2: Melt the chocolate using the instructions on the bag. Don't overcook it or it'll turn into a weird crystallized lump of crap -- I speak from experience.

STEP 3: Hold a jumbo marshmallow by the rim and dip the top part in the chocolate, then roll it in the graham crumbs. Place the un-chocolate-ified side on the wax paper and let dry. Repeat until you run out of chocolate or graham crackers. Test them often along the way. You're not checking for anything in particular -- you're just, you know, being a responsible cook.


These were a HUGE hit at Christmas. Because really. They're fantastic.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Smores Fun, Part 1: Smores Pseudo-Martini

The other night, my hubby was like, "Make me a nightcap!" Then he went back to chewing on his pipe and reading through his monocle. Or maybe not. His actual request was, "You should make me a fancy drink and then blog about it" -- always keeping the idea mill running :)

So here's what I came up with, despite that fact that my bartending experience is limited. (This is an understatement. I only have a 70% success rate working a bottle opener, let alone preparing actual drinks.) I was going to call this a "smores martini," but I think a martini has to have vermouth...? Whatever. It's a delicious smores-inspired beverage served in a martini glass.

You'll need:

  • 1 oz. tasty vodka (chocolate, vanilla, marshmallow)
  • 1 oz. Baileys Irish Cream
  • chocolate syrup
  • 1 oz. half and half
  • 1 oz. milk
  • graham crackers and marshmallows (for garnish) (I just like saying "for garnish")


Obliterate the graham crackers. Rim the glass with the cracker crumbs. You can use milk or icing to make it stick.


Squeeze some chocolate syrup into the bottom of the glass.


Mix the beverage-y stuff in a shaker (or in your gym water bottle, whatevs) and pour into a martini glass. Dress it up nice with some marshmallows on a skewer et voila*, you have a smores martini that's not really a martini.


Cheers!

* No idea if I used that correctly.