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I’m Pretty Sure You Don’t Have to be Jewish to Make This.

Story time.

I used to sublet 1 bedroom of a 2-bedroom apartment for $200 a month from a young couple and their 2 cats.  Yes, I considered the cats landlords too, since they had more control over the main living areas than me.

The girl who lived there also happened to be one of my good friends from back in high school and was, during the time I lived with her, also my boss where I fixed and sold watches (one of the best jobs ever).

*One of these days I will throw together a timeline of my youth for you, since it’s all very confusing.

I’m still not sure what happened.

Anyway.

One night I came home from work and my old high school friend/landlord/boss was out somewhere, but her boyfriend (with whom I also got along splendidly) was home entertaining some male friends.  You know, sitting around, drinkin’ beers, watchin’ sports.

That sort of thing.

Katie!” he yelled, when I came in the door.  “You have to try this salsa.  It’s awesome!”

Since I felt famished from the long day of cleaning dirt, wiry hairs and a wax-like substance I still can’t identify out of the stretch bands of old mens’ watches, salsa sounded like just the thing I needed.  A cool, refreshing, chunky bite of salsa.  I took a huge scoop on a tortilla chip and shoved the whole thing in my mouth.

I didn’t notice the anticipatory stares of the guys in the room.

I didn’t notice the exchanged looks and the sly grins.

All I could focus on was the enticing salsa, the salty chip, maybe following it up with a swig of cold beer, and Oh my GOD it tastes like burning!!!

It turns out that the jar of “salsa” was really a mixture of various chopped chile peppers and spices that could only have been concocted by the Devil himself.

I don’t really feel as though I’m exaggerating on this.

Prior to the incident that will henceforth be known as the Time I Was Tricked Into Swallowing Salsa That Wasn’t Really Salsa But Satan’s Fury Preserved In A Jar, I was fairly ambivalent towards spicy foods.  They sounded exotic and exciting, but I hadn’t really grown up with them and never really gave myself the opportunity for experimentation.

But after the Time I Was Tricked Into Swallowing Salsa That Wasn’t Really Salsa But Satan’s Fury Preserved In A Jar, I pretty much decided that spicy foods were no fun at all and why would you want to eat something that physically hurts?

About 8 years later, I found myself not only working on a chile pepper farm in Costa Rica that grows some of the hottest peppers known to man, but I was also making hot sauce.

Chile Pepper Farm.  That is not me in the photo.


Blending Chile Town Hot Sauce

Hot sauce making is dangerous work.

It was from this experience that I started to lose some of my previous misconceptions about adding heat to food.  And although my tolerance is still fairly low, I find myself trying new recipes that require some spice.

Enter the Southwest Chipotle Brisket Tacos I made the other day.

The original recipe can be found here.

I was terrified the spice in these would be too much for me and I would end up wasting a perfectly beautiful (and not inexpensive) cut of meat, but the result was a very nicely seasoned, tender brisket with a slight kick.  The good news is that if you like <i>more</i> kick, you could easily add hotter spices to the pot, or you could garnish the tacos with your favorite flavor of hot sauce.

(By the way, if you’re dying to try the sauce I talk about so much, it’s not available yet in the U.S.  But, you can become a fan on Facebook and they have trivia every Tuesday and you could win yourself a bottle!  I realize this sounds like an infomercial, but I really do love the stuff.)

There are quite a few ingredients in this, but aside from browning the outside of the brisket before you start the slow cooking process, the only real step is throwing everything in the crock pot and turning it on.

Not too shabby,  huh?

To make this, you will need:

  • 3 lb. beef brisket (mine was more like 4 1/2 lbs, but I didn’t need to adjust the amounts of everything else)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder (If you like these spicy, you can use the extra hot Mexican style chili powder)
  • 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes (and the liquids)
  • 2 chipotles in adobo (These come in a small can in the Hispanic section of my grocery store.  Gaby says you can freeze the rest for other recipes, but if you like things extra spicy, throw in a few more.)
  • 1/4 cup molasses

This is a horrible family photo.  It was early in the morning and I couldn’t get everyone to stand still, hence the blur.  The water kept wandering out of the shot, the paprika was camera-shy, I’m pretty sure the onions are having marital problems, and I chopped off the top of the veggie oil’s head.  We just weren’t having a good morning.


This is the brisket.  She was a little… ahem… hefty to fit in the family photo, so we gave her an individual shot.  As you can see, this one came pre-packaged, but if you’re lucky enough to live somewhere with a butcher shop (where the employees don’t smoke inside the store (I’m totally NOT kidding about this), you might be able to get one cut to your specifications.  Four and a half pounds is a LOT of meat.  But the leftovers are delish.

1.  In a very large skillet or dutch oven, heat the 4 tbsp vegetable oil over high heat.  Don’t get nervous (like me) about turning up the heat – it’s supposed to be hot!  Season both sides of your hunk ‘o beef with a bunch of salt and pepper, and then plop it down into the hot pan.  Brown each side for about 4 minutes, and be careful when flipping it – that hot oil tends to spatter!

While the meat is browning, it’s a good time to mince up your garlic and slice your onions to prepare for the next step.

I gave her a nice dip in hot oil… She barely fit in that tub, but we made it work.

Is it weirding you out that I’m describing the food as though it were people?  Because I can stop.  I probably won’t, but I can.

2.  Stick the brisket in the crock pot, then add all of your other ingredients.  Simple, no?

Mmmm… delicious spices.


Molasses.  I’m not sure what purpose this serves, but it sure looks cool.

3.  Mix everything together, making sure the meat is covered with the liquids.  Then just cover and turn the crock pot on low, and walk away for about 10  hours!  (I got started on this a little later than I had intended, so I turned the heat up to high after about 7 hours, let it cook that way for an hour and a half, then put it back on low for another half hour.  I took it out after 9 hours of cooking, and it was still tender and delicious).

Seriously, though.  It smells so good after about an hour, you’re going to want to open that lid.  Don’t do it! Just let it cook.


4.  When she’s ready, remove the brisket from the pot and place her on a cutting board or large plate.  It matters not that she looks kind of funky.  Her tantalizing smell and the way she just falls apart between two forks is more than enough to make up for it.

And, once again, my finished product pictures are awful.

I don’t know what it is about tacos and wraps, but I just can’t photograph ‘em.  So, check out Gaby’s post on her blog if you’d like to see a fantastic photo of the finished product.

Gaby recommends serving these with guacamole (it cuts the spice) and Mexican cheese.  I *gasp* nixed the cheese (the flavor of these is already good enough), but did make this avocado dip of yore to put on top.

Yum, yummy, yum yum yum.

You can pretty much garnish these however you want.  But make them.  The ingredients can be a bit pricey, but this will make a lot of meals.

Enjoy!

Indulge.

Back in what I like to call the “Golden Days,” when I could eat and eat and eat and never gain an ounce of body fat, back before I discovered wine and beer and the accompanying traces of cellulite that inevitably appear if I don’t pay a visit to Jillian within 24 hours of consumption, back when my butt stayed firm of its own accord, and back before the elves started forgetting to oil my joints at night – particularly in my left knee – which makes me feel like the oldest 28-year-old I know, I liked to bake.

A lot.

I rarely cooked, but boy did I bake.  Cookies and cakes and brownies and bars… I felt comfortable baking because everything was precise.  As long as I followed the directions, it was hard to mess up.  And even when I did mess up, I could eat the mess and it was still tasty, if not pretty.

But now that I’m old enough to consume the empty calories found in alcohol, I try to limit my baking to events and special occasions, because let’s face it – I don’t need the extra calories tempting me while I’m in the house all day long.

Then I stumbled upon this recipe.  This perfectly enticing, decadent, chocolaty recipe for double fudge Irish cream cookies that combines baking with alcohol – and not in a miniscule way – and I just had to make them on St. Patrick’s Day.

Because if a day when I’m allowed to pinch people if they aren’t wearing my favorite color isn’t a special occasion, I don’t know what is.

And I realized today that while I’ve been sitting on this recipe (and the extra layer of fat it’s undoubtedly formed on my derrière) for the past couple of weeks, I’m doing myself a disservice.

Because if I have to be fat from making and consuming ridiculously delicious desserts, so should you.

By the way, my photos of the finished product are horrible because I was too busy actually eating the cookies to worry about taking decent pictures.  Luckily, Jessica at How Sweet it Is took some amazing photos of her own recipe, and she might give you some healthy recipes and fitness tips to make up for her irresponsible posting of these muy rico delicacies.

The good news is, I bet you can eat just one – they are super rich.

To make them, you will need:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 2/3 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee powder
  • 8 tablespoons Bailey’s Irish Cream
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

1.  Cream the softened butter, eggs and vanilla with a wooden spoon until fluffy.  I’m pretty adamant about the wooden spoon thing.  Sure, you could pull out your fancy, schmancy industrial mixer, but we’re making cookies, people.  Cookies should be made like our mothers and grandmothers made ‘em.

With love and good old-fashioned elbow grease.

Except not real elbow grease, because that would be gross.

And who has greasy elbows, anyway?  If anything, mine tend to get quite dry.  If I’m not careful, I’ll end up with “ashy elbows” ala Tyra Banks and I don’t know anyone who wants to look like her.

2.  Add the Bailey’s and mix it in, one tablespoon at a time.

Now.  If you’re a dough-eater like me, you might think this tastes a little… strong.  But stick with me, here.  The taste of Bailey’s gets much subtler after the cookies bake.

And yes, I know eating dough with raw egg is bad.  But it’s bad in such a good way, you know?

3.  Add the flour, cocoa powder, instant coffee (I crumbled mine up in the package a bit first), baking soda, and salt to the bowl.

Mix everything (again, with a wooden spoon – it’s imperative) until combined.

Be careful with the cocoa powder if you’re an enthusiastic mixer, like me.  It’s a bitch to get out of clothes.  Especially white shorts.  Seriously?  Who cooks in white shorts?

4.  Fold in the white and milk chocolate chips, then cover the bowl and refrigerate the dough for 4-6 hours (I actually refrigerated overnight, and it was still fairly sticky to work with).

5.  When you’re ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350-degrees F.  Use your hands to roll the dough into balls.  I like my balls fairly big (tee-hee).  Bake the balls on an ungreased baking sheet for 8-10 minutes.  Since my balls were fairly big (tee-hee), my first batch came out slightly under-baked.

I thought that was perfectly fine.

These cookies are moist, with almost a creamy, buttery center, ultra rich and decadent.

Jessica recommends eating these with a glass of Bailey’s, but the richness for me almost requires a glass of cold milk.

Indulgence doesn’t get much better than this.

The Man Behind the Curtain

This really isn’t intended to be a self-deprecating post.  Not at all.

And no, it’s not about Justin.

The intention is to show you that even though I always claim to not be perfect, I really. am. NOT. perfect.

So today I’m pulling back the velvet curtain I’ve draped in front of the not-so-attractive aspects of our home to reveal the trembling, scatterbrained, decrepit old man who’s desperately been trying to pose as a Cosmopolitan cover girl for the past 4 years.

And the truth shall set me free.

For example, remember that garden we planted last year?  Well I might have hinted at one point that I thought it was infested with termites.

Then I discovered over the winter while meandering around the yard (okay, I was picking up doggie doo) that yes, it most definitely was infested with termites.

Garden Bed Termite Damage

FAIL.  The seedy little buggers were smart enough to destroy the back of the raised bed where it couldn’t easily be noticed.

And remember that landscape bed we “made over” in the front of the house?  Yeah… well 2 different plant species later, the mulch still looks decent and is relatively weed-free, but the bed is also live plant free, and that’s just not right:


FAIL.  I’m telling you, I can’t keep plants alive to save my life.  Someone HELP me!

Here’s the porch railing that desperately needs to be painted:

FAIL.  We seem to have forgotten that things that don’t necessarily start out as problems in a “fixer-upper” can still turn into problems if you’re remiss in regular upkeep.

And here’s the drywall patches we messed up in the living room:

MAJOR FAIL.  That was one of the first projects we did in this place, and let’s just say our naivety shows.  In fact, the entire color scheme of that room is jacked.  It’s getting re-painted this summer.  With FLAT paint – not high gloss.

Oh yes, and the carpet in the hallway still looks like this:

Old Carpet

Only a little worse.

Oh, and this reminds me, the trim still needs painting, too.

Anyway.  My point here is not just to show you how disgustingly negligent we are when it comes to our house, but to admit just how difficult it can be to finish projects, maintain regular upkeep, clean, repair, and still find time to live in and enjoy the space.

It’s not fun pulling back this curtain to reveal all of our blunders and admit that maybe we were in over our heads a little bit when we bought a “fixer upper.”  It’s not fun to admit that we don’t have it together like so many other home owners (and bloggers) with their perfect green grass and crisp front porches and hole-less floors.  It’s not fun to admit that maybe I’m just not cut out for the ‘burbs.

Or maybe the ‘burbs weren’t cut out for me.

And this is where my particular brand of Domestiphobia comes into play.

I want to have a nice home, where I don’t have to feel embarrassed about holes in the carpet or cobwebs on the front porch or missing shoe molding in the laundry room.  But at the same time, I don’t really care.  Not that much.  I know these things need to get done, but my priorities for my limited attention span tend to get focused elsewhere.

Like food.

Or travel.

Or writing.

Or photography.

Or wine.

So I’ve decided I need to set weekly goals, so I can ensure that these little projects that add up to one big headache eventually get done.  I’ll announce this coming week’s goal on Monday.

Because a home shouldn’t be the source of constant headaches, you know?  It should be a place full of sunshine and warmth.

And ethereal coffee.

A place where you can kick up your shoe-riddled feet, sip your vodka-laced lemonade, and honestly attest that life is, in fact, really really good.

In the spirit of sharing, are there any projects – home-related or otherwise – that you’ve been putting off because it just doesn’t interest you?  Sometimes saying typing it out loud can help, because putting something in writing makes it a lot harder to ignore.

Lovin’ Marines and Coq au Vin

I just learned that the Marines are in town, apparently conducting their annual spring artillery training.  Which, incidentally, would explain why the ground is tremoring in this fault-free zone, my house is shaking out of sheer fright, and outside it sounds like “thunder” when there is no storm.

Gotta love living near a military installation.

Lately, with all the noisy aircraft flyovers, it feels like I’m living next to a major international airport without the convenience of… you know… living next to a major international airport.

But I have to admit – the planes are pretty sweet.  Sometimes they make for some fairly amazing backyard barbecue shows.

Unfortunately, I have yet to see something like this raining down over my backyard (they usually manage to hit the drop zones):

I have no idea from where this photo originated.  It’s very likely that it belongs to a local photographer, so if it’s yours and you want credit (understandably) or want me to remove it, please let me know.

Anyway.  This post isn’t going where I’d planned.

It’s just that those explosions are so distracting!  It’s like the handicapper ear buds George had to wear in the short story Harrison Bergeron, by Kurt Vonnegut.  They periodically make loud noises so George, who was smarter than your average bear, couldn’t concentrate, thereby making his thought process more on par with his simple-minded wife, Hazel.  And every time a loud noise went off in George’s ear, Hazel would see him wince and say, Boy, that one was a doozy, wasn’t it?

Aaaaaand I’ve distracted myself again.

What I really wanted to show you was what I made for dinner the other night.  Because I know you care.  And because I gave you a little teaser at the end of yesterday’s post:

Now, I’m not gonna lie.  There’s a bit of work involved in this one.  But it’s not hard.  It’s just work.  Work of the chopping, browning, and simmering variety.

Work I don’t tend to mind.

And I have to say, this is the recipe that you tuck away for special occasions or when you really want to impress someone.  Especially if that someone has a Y chromosome and a bunch of testosterone floating around where logic and reason would normally reside.  (Ha! I’m kidding.  You know I love you, boys.  Almost as much as I love my girls.  It’s the chromosome thing.)

The recipe is Coq au Vin – with an Italian twist.

Don’t let the fancy name scare you – it’s just chicken (well, literally rooster, but we’re gonna go ahead with chicken) and wine.  The Italian twist comes from the sausage.  Because you know I can’t just use chicken and leave well enough alone.  I like my greasy meats.

The genius original recipe can be found right here.

You could serve this over rice, pasta, or even mashed potatoes, but I chose a bit of a unique route.  Since the recipe isn’t exactly healthy, I decided to make faux mashed potatoes out of cauliflower, which I’ve done before with much success.  (Thanks Tracy for the fantastic recipe!) Of course it’s not quite the same as real mashed potatoes, but with a hefty helping of Coq au Vin alla Italiana over the top, who the hell cares?

Here’s what you need to make it the way I did (I cut the amount of chicken in half, but kept everything else pretty much the same):

  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs (this might even taste better with bone-in meat, but I didn’t want to deal with it)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 (4 oz.) links sweet Italian sausage, sliced (I actually had to use mild Italian sausage because my po-dunk grocery store didn’t have the sweet stuff.  I think the sweet stuff would’ve been better.)
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 1/2 lb. fresh mushrooms, sliced (I used more like 3/4 lb. because I bought them in bulk. I looove me some mushrooms.  And I knew I’d have plenty of sauce since I used less chicken.)
  • 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can whole, peeled tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste
Coq au Vin ingredients

Whew.  That’s a LOT of stuff, I know.  But it also makes a LOT of food.

1.  Heat the 1 tbsp. of vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  (I use my enameled cast iron dutch oven for this, because it allows me to make everything in one, single pot.  But if you don’t have one of these, that’s okay!  Just use a regular frying pan for this first part.  You’ll just have more pots to clean – sucka!)

While your pan is heating up, mix the flour and poultry seasoning together in a shallow dish.  (I like to use a pie pan.  Don’t ask me why.)

2.  Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture, then throw about half of your minced garlic into your preheated skillet and add the chicken to brown for a couple of minutes on each side.  Keep in mind that you’re not trying to cook the chicken, here – there will be plenty of time for that soon enough.

3.  Meanwhile, wash and chop your onion, mushrooms, and carrots.  (And you don’t have to peel your carrots, but I do.  I think they’re…I don’t know…nicer that way.  You know, as opposed to mean, dirty carrots.)

4.  When the chicken is browned, throw in your sliced sausage links and stir ‘em around.  Let that cook for another few minutes.

5.  Add the carrots, onion, mushrooms, rosemary, and the rest of the garlic to the mix and stir everything together.

6.  Finally, add the wine and can of tomatoes (including liquids).

Notice the smell.  Oh, the smell.  It’s times like these I wish they had scratch ‘n sniff computer screens.

Stick a lid on your pot, turn the heat down to low, and let everything simmer and come together in a veritable orgy of deliciousness for about 25 minutes.  Then season with some salt and pepper (don’t forget to taste it!) and let it simmer for another 10 minutes or so.  The chicken will be nice and soft, the veggies will be cooked, and everything will smell oh, so delicious.

*Note: My sauce was still a little thin for my taste, so I added a tablespoon of corn starch to 1/4 cup of cold water and stirred it into the pot to thicken things up a bit.

7.  Serve alone in a bowl, or over cauliflower “potatoes,” regular mashed potatoes, brown rice… whatever floats your boat.

And if you have any of that red wine left, be sure to drink that, too.  Because, if anything goes with coq au vin, it’s… vin.


“Gee – I could tell that one was a doozy,” said Hazel.

“You can say that again,” said George.

“Gee -” said Hazel, “I could tell that one was a doozy.”

-from Harrison Bergeron

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.

How to Make $7.88 Per Year

Today I did something that scared me.

Not something that scared me a little (like opening a tube of refrigerated biscuit dough), but scared me a lot (like hand-serving a select portion of my insides on a platter to Hannibal Lecter and, for some inexplicable reason, finding myself hoping he likes it).

I wrote something and submitted it to an online publication.

Well that’s not a big deal.  You do that practically every day on this blog.

True, but I can write whatever I want on this blog.  There are virtually no restrictions except for the ones I place on myself.  And the people who read this are not under any delusions that I’m an “actual” writer – I’m just a girl with a blog.

Well I checked out the link and it looks like anyone can submit to that site.  Just like anyone can write a blog.  That shouldn’t be scary.

Theoretically, no.  It shouldn’t.  But this is the first step of a process through which I am trying to gain viable freelance writing connections and start building a portfolio.  I’m trying to get them to like me.  (And they will even more if you read my posting and hit “save” – you might need to sign in to the site to do so.)

Haven’t you ever been the new person at a job and you’ve had to head to the break room for lunch on your first day, frozen Lean Cuisine clasped in your nervous little hand, wondering how the hell you’re going to break the ice with these people?

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That’s a little what this feels like.

The editors at Trazzler are going to judge me based on 124 words over which I agonized for over an hour.  (Wow, it kind of sucked to admit that.)

What lit this fire under your ass?  We thought you were happy with this blog and your renewed passion for serving people food and alcoholic beverages?

I do love the blog.  And I’ll choose to ignore the food comment.  But honestly?  This stemmed from a surprising little email I received with the subject line:

Demand Media, Inc. sent you $7.88 USD.”

And I was all, Who sent me $7.88?  In U.S. dollars, no less?  And how do I get them to send me more?

Turns out I finally got a payout from Ehow.com for an article I wrote… I don’t know… about a year and a half ago.

But did the tiny payout deter me?  Heck no.  Turns out this is exactly what I needed to realize there is just a slight possibility that I could actually get paid for something I write.  I’ve just never tried, because I’ve never known where to start.

Turns out you start by writing.

So that’s what I’m doing.

I know there will be rejections.  I know there will be failures.  But in the end, I’d rather have the feeling that I failed after trying than failing without trying at all.

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.

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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!”

-latenightbaconman

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.”

-ShanonSharp

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.”

-BaconMan

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…

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