Tuesday, November 22, 2011

some favorites, and a synopsis

I was at the market today picking up two rib-eyes and some broccoli. We recently bought some amazing steak knives. My preference: wide, steel blades, but light-weight. So, to celebrate, I bought some protein (also because we've been pretty carb heavy as of late). Anyway, I was at the market and it hit me. How in the world did our moms feed us every single day? Being kids, we probably complained. A lot. We probably didn't want to eat leftovers so how did our moms come up with something new everyday? That was nutritious and that we actually ... well ... ate. Unfathomable.

This post is dedicated to two things.

One: the things our moms made that we loved.

First: runny, sunny-side up eggs with soy sauce (some black or white pepper) and toast. My mom used to make a whole pan of these Sunday morning and my family would just sit around the table and dip our bread in the whole mess.

Perfect. Oh, and soy sauce recommendation: Maggi. But make sure it says that it's from France. It's only the best if it's from France.

Then, last night, it was cold and I decided to serve my new hubby a side of cozy: his mom's homemade macaroni and cheese.

2 1/4 cups of elbow macaroni
3/4 teaspoons salt
4 1/2 teaspoons margarine
3 tablespoons flour
as much ground black pepper as you like
3 cups of 2% milk
3 cups sharp cheddar cheese
as much paprika as you like

Cook the elbow macaroni in boiling salted water till tender; drain.

While the pasta is cooking, cube the cheese. In saucepan, melt the margarine; blend in the flour, salt, and ground black pepper. Add the milk; cook and stir until thick and bubbly (this will take some time). Add the sharp cheddar cheese a little bit at a time and stir till melted. Mix cheese sauce with macaroni and pour mixture into casserole dish. Sprinkle the top with as much paprika as you like.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or till heated through. Makes 6 servings.

You can eat it as is, or sprinkle the top with oregano and powdered garlic (then it sorta tastes Italian).

It's a great macaroni and cheese recipe for beginners, but for some reason, it's not as creamy and silky as I would like. It's ... grainy. I think it's the fact that I used real cheese because the other night, when I made nacho cheese sauce from artificial American cheese, it was smooth. Weird. I haven't figured it out yet, but I will.

Two: Synopsis

I have never written a synopsis before writing a book. But then, my friend Jodi Meadows did it (and wrote a heckuva book). And now, my other friend, Authoress, did it. So I tried. And it took like ... weeks ... but, today, I finally finished it. And you know what? I think you should try it. Because it feels like I've already finished. I mean, I know I didn't, and that I have a looooooong way to go, but it's kinda neat. I look at the synopsis and I know where the story is going. Don't get me wrong. I don't have everything figured out, but this ... knowing where the story is going is kind of a rush. I feel all organized and ... ready. Ready for this Mt. Everest. I don't think I've ever been this prepared before. Maybe writing a synopsis means I'll survive this manuscript and actually *gasp* FINISH IT.

So go forth! Make some eggs, some macaroni and cheese, and write a synopsis.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

It's already Thanksgiving at my house!

Thanksgiving is only a week-ish away, but I couldn't wait. I needed Thanksgiving leftovers, now. So when I discovered that our favorite local market, Trader Joe's, was selling half, fully-roasted turkeys, I jumped on it:

Hello, I-don't-have-to-cook-you-beautiful,

I don't know what you like to do with leftovers (do share), but I like to make sandwiches. Usually, I use white bread (think: Wonder Bread, ie the fluffy, soft, white kind you used to eat when you were a kid), but I had a loaf of wheat that I wanted to use up. When I use white, I don't toast it, but lightly toasting the wheat bread makes it taste better, IMO.

This is how I like to build my sandwich:

* lots of mayo smeared on the bread
* a mix of dark and white meat drenched in hot turkey gravy
* a thin layer of hot mashed potatoes with a dollop of cold cranberry sauce

Don't worry about making it nice and neat. A sandwich like this always ends up falling deliciously apart anyway. See? Not the prettiest picture, but trust me, it was so good, I almost died happy eating 3 sandwiches. And bottomless mimosas (70% champagne, 30% OJ with pulp)!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A winner: chicken [parmesan] for dinner

I fried chicken for the first time ever. I did not start an oil fire. Hubby had 2.5 helpings. We have enough leftovers so I don't have to cook tonight.

Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner!

Chicken Parmesan
* the original recipe teaches you how to make a tomato sauce from scratch, but I decided to take the easy route and use jarred sauce (I like Ragu's Roasted Garlic sauce. I always add onions, more garlic, and wine. Lately, I've also added a bit more oregano and Italian seasoning to spice it up!)

4 chicken breast cutlets (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds total)
2 eggs
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, sliced

Preheat oven to 400°F. Working one at a time, place a chicken cutlet between two layers of wax paper (or plastic wrap). With a meat pounder, pound the chicken pieces to flatten them to an even thickness - between 1/4 - 1/2 inch. (If you don't have a meat pounder, you can use a rubber mallet, an empty wine bottle, or a heavy rolling pin.) Salt the chicken pieces well.

In a shallow bowl (large enough to dredge the cutlets), mix together the breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, and pinch of salt. In separate shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs.

Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium-high heat. The oil should be shimmering, not smoking. Dredge the chicken pieces 1 piece at a time first in the egg mixture, then in the breadcrumbs. Then lay the pieces in the hot sauté pan. Turn the heat to medium, then gently fry the cutlets until they are golden brown, about 3-4 minutes per side.

Spread enough tomato sauce to thickly coat the bottom of 9x13 casserole pan or baking dish. Once the cutlets are browned on both sides, arrange them on top of the tomato sauce in the baking dish. Place sauce over each of the cutlets. Sprinkle the tops with sliced basil. Then top the cutlets with slices of mozzarella and the remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese.

Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes, or until the mozzarella begins to brown.

Serves 4.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Work is going to make me fat

Egg salad sandwich with truffles on an egg brioche (with cucumbers), sliced baguette, chorizo, clams, and mussels, and a side of roasted brussel sprouts. That was my lunch.