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Getting a little R&R

Rest and Relaxation?  Definitely not.  Not after my browser decided to eat my post and I had to start all. Over.

Nope, this “R&R” stands for Rant and Recipe.  Because that’s what I’m sharing today.  Feel free to skip on down to the recipe (it’s really good) if you don’t want to read the rant.  I won’t mind.  Promise.

A fellow blogger and online friend Dennis, creator of Musings on Life and Love, called me out on something in my “Defining Domestiphobia” post the other day.  He basically pointed out that I sure do a lot of cooking (and home renovations, and crafty projects) for someone who’s a self-professed Domestiphobe.

And, if you didn’t read my post extremely carefully, you might be wondering the same thing:  Why all the cooking if I’m Domestiphobic?  It seems kind of counterintuitive.  And you (and Dennis) would be right.

It’s not what you would expect.

But here’s where I feel like I need to explain a little something about myself.  I don’t like to be told that I can’t do something – that there’s a particular goal or challenge or achievement that’s beyond my reach.  Cliché as it sounds, it’s just a fact.

Don’t get me wrong – I know my limits.  I know I’m not going to ever play for the WNBA or become a famous singer.  There’s a difference between natural talent and learned skills.  It’s the same reason I know I will never cook at a Michelin star restaurant.  I’m just not that good.

Like I’ve said before, I’m a follow-specific-instructions-and-hope-everything-comes-out-edible kind of girl.  And I certainly don’t create the recipes myself.

But I like cooking.  So I cook.  Simple as that.  I used to be afraid of it, then it became a challenge, and then I started enjoying it.  And if you’re still wondering how that can be possible for a Domestiphobe, the reality is that it falls in with my goals quite nicely:

1.  Cooking helps me “tie together the things I’m fortunate enough to have” (family, nice kitchen, drive to learn) “…with the things I’m crazy enough to want” (new skills, variety in my life, experience new foods).

2.  Not only is cooking a valuable skill to have, it expands my knowledge of world cuisine.  While I’d love to taste ethnic foods by traveling all over the world eventually, cooking at home makes it so I don’t have to wait.

3.  Cooking is therapeutic.  Instead of going home from my old job, ordering takeout, and plopping my ass in front of the television, I chose a recipe before I left work, picked the ingredients up from the store on the way home, poured myself a glass of wine and turned on the tube or the tunes, made the dinner, and then plopped my ass in front of the television.  I still unwind this way at the end of many days, even though I no longer have the 9-5.  I even do this when Justin’s out traversing the world with the military.  I do it for me.

4. I like food.  I like to know what’s in my food.  I’d like it to be relatively healthy.  And, when it’s not (which is quite frequent), at least I can control the amount of additives, preservatives, hormones, steroids, etc. that are going into the individual ingredients.  If I’m eating something that I know is going to congeal in my arteries, I at least what to be able to pronounce what’s congealing in my arteries.

So, with that long-winded introduction, I have a recipe for you today.  It’s one of my favorites EVER. Spinach Feta Quiche.

I know quiche sounds fancy if you’ve never made it before, but it’s just a savory (aka. not sweet) pie with some fillings and egg thrown in.  Even those of you who say you can’t cook (I’m talking to you, IWOM) can make this quiche.

It will definitely impress any people you whom you try making it.

Unless they don’t like cheese, sautéed mushrooms, or spinach.  In which case, you’re probably better off without them.  (The people, not the mushrooms.)

The original recipe is here. I change the seasonings a bit and use fresh mushrooms instead of canned, but otherwise it’s not too different. You will need:

  • 1/2 cup butter (I know… but butter is good for the soul.)
  • 3-5 cloves garlic, chopped (The recipe calls for 3, but you know how I feel about garlic: go big, or go home.)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 (10 oz.) package frozen spinach, thawed and drained (I cut a slit in the plastic and microwave it for a couple of minutes until soft, then I squeeze the plastic bag to drain all of the liquids.)
  • 1 container fresh mushrooms, washed and sliced (The recipe calls for a 4.5 oz. can of mushrooms, but why would you do that when you could have the aroma of fresh mushrooms sautéing in butter floating around your house?)
  • 1 (6 oz) package herb and garlic feta (I can never find this, so I buy plain feta and throw in some Italian seasonings)
  • Italian seasonings (optional)
  • 8 oz. shredded Cheddar cheese (The recipe calls for the pre-shredded stuff, but I prefer to buy a block and shred it myself.)
  • 1 (9 inch) deep, unbaked frozen pie crust
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

1.  Preheat your oven to 375-degrees F.

2.  Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Sauté the garlic and onion in the melted butter for a couple of minutes.  Add the sliced mushrooms (if you’re using fresh mushrooms) and sauté for 3-5 more minutes, until the onions are soft.

At this point, your house will be filled with one of the best aromas you could possibly create. Take a step back, enjoy a sip of your wine (or beverage of choice), and bask in it for a minute.

This is why you try to cook.  You can’t buy this smell.

3.  Stir in the spinach, mushrooms (if you’re using canned mushrooms), feta cheese, and just 1/2 cup of the Cheddar cheese (don’t worry – you’ll use the rest soon).  Also add whatever seasonings you plan on using.

This last time, I used these:

4.  Spoon the spinach mixture into your frozen pie crust.

5.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the 4 eggs and 1 cup of milk.  You can use a fork if you don’t have a whisk.  Season with salt and pepper.  Pour as much of the egg mixture into the pie shell as you can, moving the spinach filling around with a fork to create “holes” where the egg mixture can seep in.  You probably won’t have room for all of the egg mixture, so just pour in as much as you possibly can.

6.  Now.  This is the only difficult part of the entire recipe (unless you decided to make your own pie crust for some crazy reason).  VERY carefully, transfer the quiche to the oven.  It’s a little nerve-wracking because it’s flimsy, and liquidy, and very near spilling all over your floor or the inside of your oven, but you can do this.  I have faith.

7.  Bake it for 15 minutes so it starts to set up.  Then take it out and add the rest of the Cheddar cheese.

It seems like a lot of cheese.  That’s because it is a lot of cheese.  And it’s delicious.

8.  Bake for an additional 35-40 minutes until you can insert a toothpick or knife into the center and it comes out clean.  Then let it stand for 10  minutes (if you can stand it) before cutting and serving!

*If the crust or the cheese starts to burn while it’s baking but the center still isn’t cooked, just cover the top with foil until it finishes cooking.

The cheddar forms a soft “crust” on top of the quiche, which is absolutely outstanding.  I didn’t take a picture of my piece that night because it somehow ended up in my stomach before I could pick up the camera, but I did get a shot the next day:

It’s excellent re-heated, and it’s one of my all-time favorite dinners.  Or lunches.  Or breakfasts.

It doesn’t really matter when you eat it, just as long as you eat it.

Fish, Rice, and Little Gold Men

There are many things I could talk about this morning.

Like how Anne Hathaway’s first dress at the Oscars is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen.  Ever.

Or how while Scarlett Johansson’s dress was pretty, she looked like she hadn’t washed her hair in 6 days.

Although my male friends will attest to the fact that it’s Scarlett Johansson.  It doesn’t even matter if she has hair.  Because, you know – she has boobs.  To which I replied, Yes, but her Oscar dress didn’t even show off her boobs!  I mean, whenever I go 6 days without washing my hair, I have to practically show nip to make up for it.

That shut them up.  (Thanks Jeff and Mark.)

Or how I admittedly have a girl crush on Mila Kunis.

Mila, will you be my friend?

Or how James Franco looked like he did one too many bong hits between bits.

But the thing is, I’m not a fashionista.  I don’t really know what’s hot or not.

I’m the girl who owned about 6 shirts and 2 pairs of pants that I rotated wearing to work, hoping no one would notice but not really caring if they did.

Because while I enjoy looking nice, there are other things I’d rather spend my money on.

Like travel.

And sushi.

Speaking of sushi, my post from last week generated a couple of comments and questions, and I wanted to come clean about the source of my sushi knowledge.  It’s only fair.

In my humble little opinion, a website called Sushi Day is the primary source for anyone who wants to try making sushi at home.  The site’s owner, Allison, says that while she’s not a professional sushi chef, she “loves making sushi in her free time.”  Umm, yeah.  I’d say.

The girl is amazing.  Her photography is stunning.  And her sushi concoctions are out of this world.

South Wedge Roll from  Beautiful photo by Allison Day.

She covers everything – From how to make the sushi rice (it’s not just plain rice, people!), to how to make delicious eel sauce to drizzle over the top of your rolls (it’s simpler than you’d think!), to tons of inspiring recipes, like the South Wedge Roll and the Bling Bling Roll.

She even shows step-by-step photos on how to roll and cut your sushi.  In fact, the only thing she hasn’t been able to help me with is figuring out how to get the roll tight enough and my knife sharp enough to cut the rolls without the pieces falling apart.

But like anything else, that’s just gonna take practice.

What?  We might have to make and eat sushi every week for the next month until I get this right or we use up all of my expensive sushi-grade tuna?

Damn.  It’s a rough life.

*I did not follow proper blog etiquette and ask Allison permission to use her photo prior to posting this, since I didn’t know until this morning that this is what I wanted to write about. So Allison, when you see all the links to your site from my site and come over here to check it out, just let me know if you want me to take down the photo.  I’d be sad, but I’d do it.  Thanks!

My Big Fat Greek Wrap

I was hesitant about sharing this recipe today because while it’s certainly good, I think it could be improved.

(Well technically any recipe could be improved, but I like to post things I love and wouldn’t really change much.)

It’s called Pork Souvlaki and can be found here, but I just like to call ’em Greek Wraps.  You know, to keep it simple.  The pork in this recipe is cubed and skewered and roasted in the oven.  Now, I might not have been crazy about it because I bought pork chops; however, I think this would’ve been really tasty (and worked better for the wraps) if it had been shredded, pulled pork.  But that’s just me.

The flavor of these babies is fantastic.  Because of my “Life ADD,” I’m always experimenting with different ethnic flavors.  And I think Greek flavors might be among my favorites – oils, olives, and feta cheese.  What’s not to love?

Speaking of olives, there aren’t any in this recipe.  But maybe there should be.  Because olives, in my humble little opinion, are one of the best. foods. ever.  Green, black, kalamata… mmmm.  I love them so much that when I was little, I used to ask Santa for cans of black olives for Christmas.

You say crazy, I say practical.

Now back to your regularly scheduled program.  These wraps are pretty simple.  Just cook your meat, prepare your veggies, warm your flat bread, and assemble!

You will need:

  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. dry dill
  • 1 tsp. dry oregano
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. boneless pork, cubed
  • Flat bread
  • Vegetable accoutrements (optional – I used red bell peppers and cucumbers)
  • Feta cheese (optional, but why wouldn’t you use it?  It’s cheese.)
  • Tzatziki (optional, but highly recommended – this is a Greek yogurt/cucumber dip.  I found mine in the deli section at Wal-Mart.)

1.  Combine the first 6 ingredients to create the marinade for your pork.  Or is it a rub?  It’s kinda wet, kinda dry.  A marirub?  Rubamade?

This doesn’t look like a lot of wet/dry marirub, but it will cover the pound of pork quite nicely.

2.  Cube the pork (again, I used chops, but please educate me, those of you who know your meats, about what kind of cut might have worked better for this) cover the pieces with your rubbinade.

Just mix it with your hands if you like the feeling of squishiness between your fingers…


Cover the meat and let it marinade in the fridge for at least 2 hours (but as with any marinade, letting it sit overnight would be even better!).

3.  When the meat is ready, preheat your oven to 350-degrees F.  Stick the meat tightly on some wood skewers, place them on a foil-lined pan, and let them bake for 30-40 minutes.  (If I make it this way again, I will probably increase the oven temperature to 400 for the last 10 minutes or so to get the pork crispier on the outside.)

4.  Meanwhile, chop up your chosen vegetable accoutrements and sauté them in a little oil.  If you have a double-oven, these would be phenomenal roasted in a pan at 400-degrees.

5.  Just before your pork is ready, start heating the flat bread on the stove in a pan over low heat.  Get your other garnishes (feta and tzatziki) ready as well.

Tzatziki is the perfect accompaniment to these wraps.

And if you have to eat some of it with pita chips while your pork is cooking, I won’t judge you.

6.  When everything’s ready, set it up assembly-line style.

Just assemble the wrap to your liking!

Don’t forget the tzatziki.  Tzatziki makes the world go ’round.  (Or at least it makes my world go ’round.)

Or you could put a little Windex on it.

JUST KIDDING.  Do NOT put Windex on your wraps.  Windex should not, under any circumstances, be ingested.  But can you name that movie?  (The title of this post might be a slight giveaway.)

The flavors in this are wonderful. If you try these and figure out a more satisfying (less chewy) way to cook the meat, please let me know!


Soooooo apparently my crack at relationship analysis was a flop, because no one commented.  At all.  And I know you read it, because I can see the numbers.  It’s like magic.

Maybe no one wanted to tackle such a difficult question?

Maybe you were afraid I’d tear you to shreds with my lioness prowess if you dared counter my opinion?


Anyway.  I guess this means I need to stick to recipes and travel and backsplashes and embarrassing stories and not-so-embarrassing stories.

Because it’s not what I know – it’s how convincingly I act like I know what I don’t really know.  You know?

But if there’s one thing I really do know, it’s that almost nothing will make your house smell better on a cold winter day than a baking loaf of banana bread.  Except maybe Snickerdoodle flavored hot cocoa.  But that’s more of an in-your-nose type of smell – not a makes-you-want-to-lick-the-walls-in-your-kitchen-because-the-snozzberries-taste-like-snozzberries type of smell.

But the banana bread?  It makes me want to lick the walls.

Banana Bread

Is that weird?

Banana bread is not something I never really set out to make.  It’s just what happens when we neglect to eat our bananas and they start to get all brown and nasty looking, and then we really don’t want to eat ’em.  So they either go to the dogs, or to the bread.  Those dark, mushy, horrible-looking bananas are perfect for banana bread.

I actually mixed a bunch of recipes together to come up with this one.  The nice thing about these dense bread loaves is there is definitely room to play when it comes to flavor.  Think you might not want it as sweet?  Cut back on the sugar.  Think you want it spicier?  Add more cinnamon and nutmeg.  Want it richer?  Add chocolate chips.  Want it to have that disgusting texture that happens when you add nuts to something that should be smooth?  Add nuts.

Anyway, my point is that you don’t need to make it exactly this way just because I made it this way.

Even though you should make it my way, because my way is best.

Just sayin’.

Here’s what I used:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 mashed bananas
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

If you’ve never made a loaf of dense bread like this, I’m telling you there’s really nothing much easier.

1.  Start by preheating your oven to 350-degrees F.  Grease and flour a 9×5″ loaf pan.  You might be able to use that nonstick spray stuff, but when it comes to baking, I usually prefer good old-fashioned Crisco and flour.

Just use a paper towel to spread the Crisco around the bottom and sides of the pan…

…Then plop a spoonful of flour into the pan…

…And then shake and rotate the pan around (preferably over a trash can) until the flour coats the whole thing.  Just dump out the excess flour when the pan’s fully coated.

Your grandma would be so proud!  Except for the fingerprints you left in the grease.  Grandma wouldn’t leave fingerprints in the grease.

Moving on…

2.  Grab your really brown, overripe bananas and mash ’em up with a fork.

This should be fairly easy if your bananas are at the optimal level of ripeness.

2.  In a separate bowl, cream together the 1/2 cup of softened butter, the 1/2 cup of white sugar, and 1/2 cup of brown sugar.

3.  Move the mixture to the side of the bowl, and add the 2 eggs.

Beat the eggs with a fork.

Mix the eggs in with the butter/sugar mixture.

Booyah!  I just saved YOU from another dirty bowl.

4.  Stir in the vanilla and mashed bananas.

5.  In a separate bowl, mix together the 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg.

6.  Add the flour mixture to the banana mixture, and fold it in just enough until everything is moistened.  You don’t need to overwork it at this point.

7.  Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan, pop it in the oven for around an hour, and let the heavenly smells commence.

About 50 minutes into the cooking time, the top started to look a little dark even though the center was still undercooked.  This happens because my oven sucks.  If your oven sucks too, just cover the loaf loosely with foil and commence with the baking.

You’ll know it’s finished when you insert a toothpick in the center and no bread boogers stick to it when you pull it back out.

8.  When she’s done, pull the loaf out of the oven and let her cool for a minute or two before you remove her from the pan.  (I suddenly have this inexplicable feeling that my loaf is a girl.)

Let her pose for a couple of pictures.

You know she wants it.

Banana Bread

Before she cools down too much, run a knife along the edge to loosen her up and then tip her out onto a cooling rack or plate.

If you’re lucky, you can slice and eat while it’s still warm.

Immediately spread with a little butter or margarine so it gets nice and melty…

Oh my.

Ooh baby.

You know I can’t resist your sexy dance of seduction…

Until next bite, my friend.

Until next bite.

Tips From the Pros: How to Satiate Those Late-Night Cravings

EDIT:  It has been brought to my attention that it might not be easy to pick up on my intended sarcastic tone in the following post.  Therefore, this is your notice that if there were such a thing as a “sarcasm font,” this post would surely be written with it.  Thank you.

Just when I thought I was in a heap of trouble and started to become desperate because I’ve finally, officially, gotten sick and tired of trying to figure out what to make for dinner night after night*, the ultimate foodie guru Rachael Ray has come to my rescue.

*Note:  It’s not the physical act of cooking I can no longer stand – it’s the pouring over recipes online looking for something new and interesting and not eight-five thousand calories and doesn’t contain crazy-expensive ingredients and doesn’t make more than enough to feed 8 people and why isn’t there a cookbook out there called, Katie, This is the Cookbook You Need.  Buy Me and You Will Never Have to Search for Another Recipe Again?

So last night I got home late.  With this new job at the bar, I’ve gotten used to feeling awake as though I’ve drunk 3 cups of coffee in the middle of the night; the ghostly darkened roads with blinking lights devoid of traffic; and the dark, quiet house where even the dogs don’t want to wake up to greet me.

But what I can’t, for the life of me, seem to adjust to is the feeling that I am absolutely starving at 2 o’clock in the morning.  I might eat dinner at 4 to get to the bar by 5, and then, before I know it, 9 hours have passed and I’ve barely had time to take a few sips of water, let alone snag some bar food from the kitchen.

So.  All I have to say is, thank God for Rachel Ray.  She has seriously saved me with this recipe:

Late Night Bacon.

Photo source

Now, I realize it sounds a bit complicated, but bear with me.  You will need 8 slices of bacon, 4 sheets of paper towel, and a microwave-safe plate.  Oh, and a microwave.  Place 2 of the paper towels on the plate, and place the bacon on top of that.  Do not, for the love of all that is holy, let your bacon slices overlap.

Now here’s where it gets tricky:  You will need to take the remaining 2 sheets of paper towel and place them over the bacon.  Then place the plate in the microwave on high for 4-6 minutes.

Like I said, it’s a bit complicated, but I’m so thankful to have access to someone like Rachel Ray on the Food Network website to walk me through it.  I mean… microwaving bacon instead of pan-frying?  Genius.  Because we all know I shouldn’t be messing with the stove at 2 a.m.  And writing this high-calorie recipe specifically to be consumed late at night?  When my metabolism is probably at its all-time lowest?  Well.  I feel like she wrote it just for me.

And here are some of my favorite reviews from the site, because it’s always helpful to learn from the mistakes of others:

“The recipe didn’t say anything about removing my hand from the bacon, so I ended up microwaving my hand with the bacon and paper towels. I passed out twice from the pain, but once I awoke, the bacon, the paper towels and my hand had all melded into one yumm-o baconey flavored blob, which really was crispy and delicious. I’ve got one hand left, and oh yeah, I’m making this again tonight!”


Wow, thanks for the tip, latenightbaconman!  I probably would’ve done the same thing – I mean, I need my directions to be explicit – so thanks for saving me the headache.  I mean handache.

“Hey Ray Ray! I loved the recipe, but thought it needed something to be a late night meal. Could you please post your recipe for toast? I’d like a recipe for a glass of milk as well, but I don’t think I could do all that in one night.”


Oh, Shanon.  I feel  your pain.  I do.  I mean, it’s late night bacon.  Who has the energy to make an entire glass of milk?  Hopefully Ray Ray will respond with a solution to this problem, pronto.

“Personally, I think this recipe could be improved by the addition of a bit more bacon and a bit less paper towel. The taste of the towel was pretty good with all that bacon grease on it, but the texture was *awful*. I’ve tried this preparation a few times for my guests, and they always leave the towels behind. Sometimes slightly gnawed, but it’s clear they don’t enjoy them.”


Ooh, nice suggestion, BaconMan.  I can really see how reducing the amount of paper towel might improve the overall flavor of this recipe.  Or maybe you could try what yet another reviewer suggested and marinade the sheets in Pam first?  It’s worth a shot…

Photo source

Chicken Salsa Biscuit Things

As I sit here drinking a cerveza, thinking about what to write on this thing that some people are actually reading, and contemplating life in general, I’m starting to think I was too harsh in my assessment of drunk-in-public people from last night.  I mean… if someone wants to hit on me regardless of whether I can understand what he’s saying between hiccups and slurs (something about my ponytail and my nice smile, but that’s all I could make out)… or if someone wants to literally attack my manager and rip her shirt because she thinks she’s hitting on her boyfriend… or if someone wants to vomit all over the floor in the ladies’ restroom… who am I to judge?

*One of those 3 things has not happened (yet) at my place of employment – anyone care to guess which one?

I mean, if you’re someone who’s never done something remotely stupid or regrettable in your life, then I probably don’t know you.  Because you probably don’t exist.

And while there are surely many negative aspects of getting stupidly drunk, one of the inarguable positives is that you gain the uncanny ability to eat the crappiest of foods completely guilt-free.

Which brings me to my recipe for tonight.  A recipe that, coincidentally, I’ve never made or eaten while intoxicated.  Which proves I’m horrible at segues.  But it is one of those things you might look at and think, Umm, no.  I will not be making that for dinner.  Ever.  It’s juvenile and you can eat it with your fingers and for crying out loud, what IS it with you and those damn tubes of biscuits that scare the panties off me when they pop open??!!?

But the thing is, sometimes we need food like this.  Sometimes we crave it.  Something simple and fun and tastes really really great with a beer.  Or a soda.  Or a big glass of milk.

I used to make these for my favorite guy friends and they went down quicker than Courtney Love when courted with Heart Shaped Box.

I call them Chicken Salsa Biscuit Things.  And the original recipe is found here.  They’re basically like homemade hot pockets, but So. Much. Better.  And you can customize them any way you want.  Like more filling?  Add some mushrooms, or shrimp, or bell peppers.  Like more flavor?  Add some cilantro, minced garlic, or red pepper flakes.  Like more heat?  Add your favorite hot sauce.  The sky’s the limit!

But here’s what you need to make ’em my way, usually in their most basic form (I like to keep it simple):

  • 3 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (I actually usually only use 2 if they’re pretty big)
  • 1 chopped onion (I actually skip this sometimes when I’m feeling particularly lazy… I use a chunky salsa to make up for it)
  • 1 cup salsa (I use Pace mild thick ‘n chunky – or something along those lines)
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (I try to freshly grate cheese to avoid all the extra additives and preservatives and gunk they put in the pre-shredded stuff in the bag, but again, this is a lazy recipe.  Sometimes I do what I gotta do.  And the recipe uses refrigerated biscuit dough – who are we kidding?)
  • 1 (12 oz.) can refrigerated biscuit dough  (NOT the flaky stuff – just regular, original biscuits.  Or the buttermilk kind.  Whatever floats your boat.)

1.  Preheat your oven to 350-degrees F.  Set your tube of biscuits on the counter (I find they’re a bit easier to work with if they’re less chilly).

2.  Start off by boiling some chicken.  Just get a pot of water boiling, add your chicken breasts, and cook them for around 15-20 minutes until they’re no longer pink and the juices run clear.  When they’re done cooking, remove them to a plate and shred them with a couple of forks – or a fork and a knife, depending on how dangerous you feel.

*My little photo disclaimer still stands – I am still sans my favorite lens AND Photoshop, so I’m doing the best I can.  Please don’t judge me by these images.  Thank you.

Shredded Chicken

3.  If you’re using an onion, dice it and sauté it in a sauce pan until it’s soft.  The recipe doesn’t say this, but you’ll probably want to use a little butter or oil.  Like I said before, I tend to skip the onion since I use a chunky salsa.  Add your cup of salsa to the pan and let it heat up for a minute or two.  Then add the 2 cups of shredded cheese and let it kinda sorta melt.  I usually remove the pan from the heat just before adding the cheese.  It’s okay if it doesn’t melt all the way because you’ll be cooking these babies in the oven.  Finally, add the shredded chicken.

Chunky salsa.  Mmmm.

Stir, stir, stir.

Add shredded chicken.

4.  Open that crazy tube of biscuits (why are they so scary???) and flatten them out with your fingers on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Fill them with your chicken/salsa mixture and fold up the biscuits to form these nice little pockets.

Flatten dough.

Fill biscuit.

Fold dough.

5.  Bake at 350 until the biscuits are golden and cooked.  Pay attention because in my oven, these often take less time.

I’ll have you know that these have a tendency to pop open while they bake.  And if they happen to pop open on you, it in no way means you are an inferior human being.

They are warm and cheesy and delicious.

And they happen to be excellent to grab for quick lunches or to gobble down in the back kitchen before you go wait tables at  your favorite local pub.

Just sayin’.


Bustin’ Out the Chops

In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been avoiding the use of photos in my posts for quite a while now.  The reasons are painful and twofold:

1.  My favorite lens is still busted.  I don’t feel justified in sending it in to have it fixed until I have an actual job.

2.  Since my computer broke when I went to Miami, I haven’t yet reloaded Photoshop onto it.  My kitchen tends to be pretty dark when I cook (and has a weird mixture of recessed and under-cabinet lighting, which makes the photos look a little strange.  I like to use Photoshop to fix the color.

But today?  Screw it.  I need some pictures in my life.  It’s been far too long.  So PLEASE ignore the strange colors.

I managed to find some photos of a recipe I made awhile back when we had guests from out-of-town.  I’m sure they thought I was a complete nut, cooking away in the kitchen and pausing every few minutes to take a picture.  Because, you know – I’m that good.

I tend to freak out a little when I have to make something for other people.  Why?  Because I have this annoying habit of screwing up in the kitchen.  A LOT.  But I’m usually good about laughing at myself when that happens, and Justin will eat just about anything.  It’s a little different, however, when you have other people – other hungry people – depending on you for their sustenance as well.

So I made my “fall-back” company recipe that always goes over well if I have non-vegetarian guests.  It’s actually my mom’s recipe, and I love how old-school it is.

Baby, it’s PORK CHOP TIME!

First, you’ll need a big ol’ one of these:

(Like I said before, please ignore the odd color of these photos.  It’s the crazy lighting in my kitchen and lack of Photoshop.)

Wow.  Is anyone getting turned on?

No?  It’s just me?


This is a pork loin.  So technically I made pork loin, not pork chops – but this recipe works just as well with about 4 chops.

And actually, I’m not positive if this is one loin split lengthwise into 2, or if this is 2 skinny loins.  Hey, I just buy the meat and cook it.  I don’t claim to be an expert.

So you see how it’s split lengthwise down the middle?  Just chop each of these strips up into little pork medallions.  They end up all small and adorable, and they cook much quicker this way than larger pork chops.

Pork Loin Medallions

Here’s what else you need:

  • 2 c. (about 3 slices) of bread, ripped into small cubes
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped onion (or the equivalent of dry minced onion)
  • 1/4 tsp. poultry seasoning
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 2 Tbsp. melted butter
  • 1/3 c. Marsala wine (this is usually found in the grocery aisle with all of the cooking wines/vinegars)
  • 1 (10 3/4 oz.) can of cream of mushroom soup

1.  Go ahead and get your oven preheated to 350-degrees F.

2.  Put some type of large skillet on the stove over medium-high heat, and grease it with a piece of fat from your pork.

3.  When the skillet is good and sizzlin’, brown the medallions for a couple a minutes on each side.  (Do this in batches if you can’t fit them all at once.)  Once they’re browned, place them in a single layer in a shallow casserole dish.

*I actually should’ve had my skillet a bit hotter – you want the meat to be more brown than gray, and it should sear fairly quickly.  You don’t want these to cook through on the stove because  you’ll be baking them in the oven.

4.  In a small bowl, combine the 2 cups of soft bread cubes, 2 tablespoons of onion, 1/4 teaspoon of poultry seasoning, 2 tablespoons of water, and 2 tablespoons of melted butter.  Smush this stuffing-like substance together with your fingers, and press it firmly onto the tops of the pork medallions.

5.  Combine the 1/3 cup of Marsala wine with the can of cream of mushroom soup, and spoon the mixture over each of the medallions.

6.  Then just pop ’em in the oven for 30 minutes to an hour.  I know – what a pain that I can’t give you an exact cooking time!  But it really depends entirely on the thickness of your meat and the heat of your oven.  I have a meat thermometer and cooked them until the thermometer said they were hot enough.

I actually thought I over cooked them because the temperature was quite a bit higher when I checked after about 40 minutes, but the beauty of these little loins is that they stayed nice and tender.  They turned a pretty, golden-brown and still tasted delicious.

Though they weren’t quite this golden.  Again, Photoshop, how I miss you.

Now, because I’m a complete dope and self-admitted domestiphobe, I totally forgot about sides until the last-minute.  Luckily I found a couple of recipes that were really easy to put together.

I served it with lemon pepper green beans and mushrooms with a soy sauce glaze.

Let me just say – I could eat these mushrooms every day for the rest of my life and not get sick of them.  Oh, and they’re sooo easy to make.  This whole dinner was crazy-easy to make.  And judging from the fact that we didn’t have any leftovers, I’m thinking it was a hit.


Glass and Muffins. But Not at the Same Time.

So.  Yesterday I decided to temporarily give up my recently adopted hermit lifestyle (a lifestyle against which I would normally naturally rebel, but the recent and unusually frigid temperatures for this time of year have allowed me to adapt to it quite nicely) and brave the cold to make the hour-plus drive to Raleigh.

But Katie, why would you risk letting the perfect indent your ass has worked so hard to carve out for itself in the couch fill back in during your absence?

Well, the trip is something I’ve been putting off for quite some time.  Near the end of our stay in Costa Rica, I dropped my favorite camera lens (and I only have 2 lenses) in one, horrifyingly painful moment.  Onto a cement floor.  And in a battle of brute strength between plastic and cement, you can guess which one wins.

The glass itself didn’t break, but there was some clear damage done to the body where it mounts to my camera.  I’ve been putting off having it examined by professionals for fear of hearing the worst possible news – that my lens, my little therapeutic amulet of creativity, had officially bitten the dust.

I’ve taken most of my favorite pictures with that lens.

The answer, my friend… Is spittle in the wind….

So yesterday I grudgingly put on a long sleeve shirt (shudder) and a coat (double-shudder), climbed into the Tracker, and floored it all the way to Peace Camera in Raleigh.

I have to say that this place was the coolest little camera shop.  It was packed full of books, beautiful equipment, accessories, and cameras from old timey-times.  I probably would have thoroughly enjoyed it if I hadn’t just handed my precious baby off to some surly looking guy who took her into the “back room” to take a look at the damage – not without first shooting me a pitying and reprehensible look over the top of his glasses after I told him how she met her fate with the cement floor.  You know, the kind of look a mother gives her toddler when she asks him in the middle of a department store if he pooped his pants and he says, “No,” but he, she, and everyone else in a 15-foot radius knows it ain’t true.

That look.  It stings.

The next 20 minutes felt like I was waiting for a friend to come out of surgery.  I mean, it wasn’t like the time I had to wait for my sister to have a tumor removed from her pituitary gland.  Not like that.  That involved my heart clawing its way up my esophagus and sitting at the back of my throat for a few hours, just waiting to expel itself from my mouth and scurry across the waiting room floor of the hospital should it hear the worst possible news.

No, this wasn’t like waiting for a super close friend or relative, but a good acquaintance, nonetheless.  Someone I liked and who had thus far changed my life for the better.

I’ll cut the drama short by telling you the news wasn’t good.  He was able to fix it so it mounted to the camera, but the autofocus just won’t respond.  It’s like her legs are there, everything’s attached, but they just. won’t. move.  So I’ll need to send her into Nikon and pay what will likely amount to half the cost of the lens in order to get her back in full-on working condition.  And even if I do eventually get a job and send her in for the necessary repairs, I’m worried she’ll never be the same again.

So this morning I needed some comfort food.  Something to lift my spirits.  And in my experience, warm muffins on a cold winter morning are the perfect remedy for this little ache I have in my belly – an ache not only caused by the news of the near-irreparable damage I did to my lens, but also likely derived from the fact that almost all of my electronic equipment as of late has decided to give me one big fat middle finger.

I’m seriously about ready to chuck it all and move to an off-the-grid cabin in the middle of the jungle.  But then I probably wouldn’t be able to make muffins.  And these were good.

I didn’t take pictures of the process because – let’s face it – I was in a craptastic mood this morning and didn’t want to be reminded of the fact that it will likely be a long time before I can take any food pictures with my favorite lens again.  But they smelled so dang good by the time they were done that I had to snap a few.

The recipe can be found here (this girl is brilliant when it comes to making healthy food that also happens to taste good), and the only thing I changed was that I used golden raisins instead of regular raisins.  And here’s the thing about raisins – they taste good, but what is with that texture??  I’m not sure how I felt about the wrinkly little squishy things in my muffins.  But the good news is that you could leave ’em out if you’re not sure either.  The muffins would, however, be delicious with chocolate chips.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin (Raisin) Muffins

You will need:

  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 c. white flour
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. cloves
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 c. canned pumpkin (not pie filling – just plain pumpkin)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 c. water
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. raisins (optional)


1.  Preheat your oven to 350-degrees F and spray a 12 cup  muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.

2.  In a medium bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (first 9 ingredients).

3.  In a small bowl, stir together the wet ingredients (last 5 ingredients).

4.  Very gently stir the wet ingredients in with the dry, just until everything is moist.  (Erin will hate me for using that word, moist. It disturbs her.)  The point is to not over-work the batter.

5.  Spoon the batter evenly into 12 greased muffin cups.  Then bake at 350-degrees F for 22-25 minutes (or in my crazy-hot oven, 20 minutes at 345-degrees).  They’re done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Raisin Muffins

6.  Let them cool for about 10 minutes in the pan, then dump them out onto a wire rack.

Oh my.  These made my kitchen smell like Christmas and hugs.  It didn’t even matter that I was the only one eating them this morning – they were pure comfort in the convenient form of little round muffins.  And they’re fairly healthy, so I didn’t even feel bad that I ate 6 of them.


Okay!  Don’t give me the look the mom gives the poopy pants kid!  I only ate 2.

So far.

I Tart You.

Sometimes being part of the military means you can’t always visit family for the holidays.  But it also means you have family wherever you happen to be.  Thus, we celebrate Thanksgiving with other military families almost every year.  We can gather with friends, fry up a couple of turkeys, and everyone contributes one or two dishes.  It certainly beats cooking every part of the meal, and it’s definitely better than our Pizza Hut Easter tradition.


My contribution this year was a combination of 2 recipes:  Pecan Pie Tarts and Whiskey Maple Cream Sauce.  The tarts were delicious and bite-sized, and they tasted even better with this rich, creamy sauce drizzled over the top.

Since the sauce is supposed to be chilled, I started with that and made it the night before.

You will need:

  • 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream
  • 5 tablespoons of pure maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons of light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon of whiskey

Easy peasy!

1.  In a sauce pan over medium-low heat, combine the first 3 ingredients and stir them constantly for about 20 minutes.  The mixture will bubble and thicken.

Whiskey Maple Cream Sauce

2.  Remove from heat, add the whiskey, and then put the pot back on the heat for another 5 minutes or so.

3.  Put in the fridge overnight to chill and thicken.  Doesn’t get much easier than that!

Now for the Pecan Pie Tarts.  I doubled the original recipe and used a bit more cream cheese than called for because I wanted to use the entire brick.

To make about 40 tarts the way I did, you will need:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups chopped pecans

1.  Beat together the softened cream cheese and butter until creamy.  Then add the flour and salt, and mix until it forms a dough.  I used my hands for this part.

Cover the dough and chill in the fridge for about an hour.

2.  While the dough is chilling, mix the eggs, dark brown sugar, melted butter and vanilla extract together in a bowl.

I cannot tell you how much I miss my broken low-light camera lens right now.

3.  Chop up the pecans (even smaller if they came pre-chopped), and mix those in as well.

4.  Now comes the fun part.  Okay, it’s tedious.  Very, very tedious.  But it’s worth it, I promise!  Preheat your oven to 325-degrees F.  Grease 2 mini muffin tins (this will make about 40 tarts) and press the dough into the bottoms and sides of the greased cups.  Then fill each one with the pecan mixture to just below the edge (these will rise a bit, so don’t fill right to the brim).

5.  Then bake these puppies at 325-degrees for 25-30 minutes.  Cool them in the pan on a wire rack, and then pop them on out.  They should come out fairly easily if you greased the pan well.  When you’re ready to serve them, drizzle them with some of the chilled whiskey cream sauce.

Wow.  This sauce puts these things way over the top on level of divine, splurging deliciousness.  WowWowWow.

Now I realize this is decidedly Thanksgiving-y-ish food, but I could definitely see this whiskey cream sauce making a comeback around Christmas.  Even if I have to pour it over my sugar cookies.  Even if I just have to drink a bowl of it for breakfast.

Would that be bad?

Or bad in a good way?

Tuscan Soup for the Soul

You may have heard that I recently lost the contents of my hard drive and have effectively been working my way through bottles of red wine at a fairly alarming pace.


Okay… I actually did lose the contents of my hard drive.  Which sucked.  And I am going through bottles of red wine at an impressive pace.  But that’s not unusual.  In fact, I think I’m handling the loss remarkably well.  It’s like I’m on the losing end of a one-sided breakup, and I have to work my way through the stages of grief.  Plus, the red wine therapy contains loads of antioxidants, so it’s really a win-win situation.

First, I was in denial.  What?  You’re leaving me?  Yeah right.  I’ll call your bluff.  Go ahead and leave.  See what it’s like to spend a night alone.  You’ll be back.

Once the shock wore off, the pain arrived.  In waves.  I might’ve cried a little.  You’re really gone?  You just took all my pictures and left?  I miss your smell.  My world is so EMPTY without you in it.

But once I realized how ridiculous it was to cry over a piece of electronic equipment, I got angry.  Very, very angry.  I blasted the angry chick music.  I paid for YOU.  You owed me at least the courtesy of a WARNING before you went off and took EVERYTHING I LOVE away from me.

And I might’ve bargained a little.  Okay, okay, I’ll tell you what.  Just give me back my pictures, and I promise I won’t put you in the freezer again.  Just a FEW of my pictures at least?  Or maybe a page of my writing?  Anything?  Just give me something and all this torture can stop for both of us.  Give me just one picture of a monkey in a tree and I’ll give you a nice, warm bed in the TRASH CAN WHERE YOU BELONG. (I wasn’t quite over the anger stage at that point.)

And now I’m entering the stage of reflection.  I’m only just realizing the magnitude of my loss, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say it hurts a little.  A lot.  And nothing you can say will make me feel better.  It’s just gone.

It’s times like these when I do what any normal woman does for comfort and support.  I’m turning to food.  The air is starting to turn brisk and the skies a little more gray.  Warm, chunky comfort food is the only cure-all – the only thing that will bring forth a warm, chunky Katie.

And since I just made chili this season, I started perusing the web for some more options.  Sausage.  Anything with sausage.  And I found this.

Spicy Tuscan Soup.

Spicy Tuscan Soup

And like any war-whithered woman post-breakup, I had to have some.  Now.

Here’s what I needed to make it:

  • You Oughta Know by Alanis Morissette blasting background music
  • 1 pound Spicy Breakfast Sausage (I use Jimmy Dean’s Hot sausage)
  • 1 whole Medium Red Onion, diced
  • 2-3 slices Bacon, diced (I used 3 slices.  If you need me to explain why, then you really don’t know me like I thought you did.)
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 3 whole Medium Potatoes
  • 1 quart Warm Water
  • 3 cubes Chicken Bouillon
  • ¼ bunch Kale, roughly chopped (I have never used kale before, either.  Don’t be scared.  And I actually have another recipe I’m going to try for the remaining kale from the bunch.)
  • ½ cups Heavy Cream  (This is breakup food, remember! Go with the good stuff.)
  • Salt And Pepper to taste

1.  Get your sausage cooking in a pot on the stove.  Once it’s brown, use a slotted spoon to remove it from the pot and set it aside.  If there’s a lot of excess grease left in the pot, dump  most of that out and dispose.  (Whatever you do, do not dangle your hard drive by its USB cord over the pot of hot grease and threaten to drop it if it doesn’t surrender your pictures immediately.  People will think you are crazy.)

Brown sausage

2.  While the sausage is cooking, dice up the red onion, 3 slices of bacon and 3 cloves of garlic.  And SING that angry chick music.  Just don’t close your eyes – that’s not a good idea when you’re holding a sharp knife.  Add the onion and bacon to the (now empty) sausage pot over medium-high heat.  When the onions are cooked (translucent), add the garlic and cook for about another minute.

3.  While the onions are cooking, scrub your potatoes (you can peel them too if you’d like, but tater skins don’t bother me so I left them on).  Cut them lengthwise and then chop them into 1/4″ slices.  You can cut them even smaller if it floats your boat.

Sliced Potatoes

4.  Then add the quart of warm water to the pot with the onions.  See all those yummy brown bits on the bottom?  Adding the water will “deglaze” the pot and get all that tastiness worked back up into the soup.  And if you’ve lost all of your pictures from Costa Rica, you need those brown bits.  Also add the 3 bouillon cubes and the sliced potatoes to the pot.  Let everything simmer for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are soft-ish, but not quite fully cooked.

5.  Finally, add the sausage, chopped kale, 1/2 cup of heavy cream, and salt and pepper to taste.  It NEEDS salt and pepper.  Don’t skip this.  Just dip your special tasting spoon on in and don’t stop tasting until you get it the way you like it.  Even if you have to taste and taste and taste.  Let cook for another 5 minutes until the potatoes are soft and the kale has wilted.

Done!  Now eat it.

This hit the spot.  You know, that place on the inside of my upper thighs?  That spot.  And my love handles.  But it’s no big deal, because it’s almost winter and I’m getting over a loss.  I know this soup won’t bring my hard drive back, but it helped bring me to a place of peace and acceptance.

And the wine didn’t hurt, either.