In A Word: Adorable!

Friday, August 28, 2009

I love books. And not in a nerdy way. Well, a nerdy way. But I have supercute Prada eyeglasses, so that totally takes away from the nerdiness, no?

Penguin is recovering many of their classics (Wuthering Heights, Great Expectations, Sense & Sensibility, etc.) in original art and selling them! The above picture are books recovered in cloth with a matte-foil design, while Pride and Prejudice here has an original illustration from artist Ruben Toledo (who works with Vogue and Harper's Bazaar).

These would be so cute on a floating bookshelf with some funky bookends. However, I also recommend actually reading them. Have you ever been with a bunch of nerds who start whipping out lines from Wuthering Heights while laughing amongst themselves, and you sit there having zero clue what they're talking about?

I hate that.

Don't Eat This Meal If You're Bloated.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Because this dinner won't help you at. all.

But, hey, if you're rockin' the flatter tummy side of things, whip this up! I'm not sure how I befriended so many damn vegetarians (you know, besides the fact that I have a wonderfully, magnetic personality and all. Not bitchy whatsoever. Not I.), but I've made it my life's work to try and please them.

I figured out with this recipe, however, that I'm not so sure I'm a huge wild rice fan. It's so....earthy. And....wild. And while I like to say that I have a wild side (what? I do! It's right there under my pearls and argyle!), the wild side of rice isn't winning me over. I'd make this again with just the orzo, or possibly turn it into a risotto dish.

Oh, by the way, I totally doubled the butter. If you're shocked, you don't know me well.

Wild Rice and Orzo Pilaf With Mushrooms and Pecans
courtesy of Rachael Ray

1/2 cup wild rice
1/2 lb orzo pasta
2 Tb butter
1/2 lb cremini mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
2 Tb chopped, fresh sage
1 cup frozen peas, thawed

1. Cook wild rice according to package directions, transfer to large bowl. Meanwhile, in a pot of boiling, salted water, cook orzo until al dente and drain. Add to wild rice.

2. In large skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add the pecans and sage and cook until nuts are toasted and mushrooms are tender. Stir in peas and chickpeas. Add vegetable mixture to orzo mixture and season with salt.

Well, Check US Out!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Design*Sponge higlighted my very own Sacramento! It looks like they called upon someone named Lisa to expertly give the run down of things to see, places to go and crud to eat in our little big city.

Although, I'm going to have to disagree in a few areas.

1. Babycakes Bakery - only go there if you like your cupcakes dry and crumbly. I'm guessing you like yours moist.

2. Inn at Parkside - customer service goes here to DIE. Die, I say.

3. Tex Wasabi's - quite possibly the most nauseating "food" I've had in a while.

All in all, though, quite a list, and it even has some places I haven't yet been!

Barefoot Bloggers: White Pizza with Arugula and Mango Banana Daiquiris

Friday, August 14, 2009

I'm pretty sure Barefoot Bloggers is going to force me to try things I normally wouldn't (precisely why I joined), because there is no way in hey-ell I would have attempted this pizza otherwise. I HATE making pizzas. It's not that they're difficult. It's that I really, a whole lotta-like, love pizza when it's ordered and shows up on my doorstep. Was this pizza worth it? It was worth trying. It's a healthy alternative to the Meat Lovers situation you find yourself in on a Friday evening, chasing with beer.

Thing is...I like the cheesy, greasy fattiness of chasing cheesy, greasy pizza with beer.

But if you want to lighten things up a bit, I say go for it.* I followed the recipe mostly, but I diverged at some points to throw in some Faith Flair. I tried to get Kim, Tina and Tim to give me their honest opinions - they said they liked it, so I'm going to just have to trust that they weren't feeding me a line.

P.S. The daiquiris were FABULOUS.

*Here's what I don't recommend: staying up until 1:43am afterward, watching an incredibly freaky movie and then lying on a hard sidewalk waiting for a meteor shower to show itself. Just my two cents.

White Pizza with Arugula
adapted from Ina Garten's Back to Basics

For the dough:
1 1/4 cups warm (100 to 110) water
2 packages dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey
Good olive oil
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
Kosher salt
4 cloves garlic, sliced
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

For the topping:
3 cups grated Italian fontina cheese (8 ounces)
1 1/2 cups grated fresh mozzarella cheese (7 ounces)
11 ounces creamy goat cheese

Grape tomatoes (I used mini-heirloom), halved

For the vinaigrette:
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces baby arugula
1 lemon, sliced

Mix the dough.

Combine the water, yeast, honey and 3 tablespoons of olive oil in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. When the yeast is dissolved, add 3 cups of flour, then 2 teaspoons salt, and mix on medium-low speed. While mixing, add up to 1 more cup of flour, or just enough to make a soft dough. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until smooth, sprinkling it with the flour as necessary to keep it from sticking to the bowl.

Knead by hand.

When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured board and knead it by hand a dozen times. It should be smooth and elastic.

Let it rise.

Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl and turn it to cover it lightly with oil. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Make garlic oil.

Place 1/2 cup of olive oil, the garlic, thyme and red pepper flakes in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook for 10 minutes, making sure the garlic doesn't burn. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

Dump the dough onto a board . Place the dough on sheet pans lined with parchment paper and cover them with a damp towel. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

Stretch the dough.

Press and stretch dough into a large circle and place sheet pan lined with parchment paper. (If you've chilled the dough, take it out of the refrigerator approximately 30 minutes ahead to let it come to room temperature.)

Top the dough.

Brush the pizzas with the garlic oil, and sprinkle each one liberally with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the pizzas evenly with fontina, mozzarella and goat cheese. Drizzle each pizza with 1 tablespoon more of the garlic oil and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the crusts are crisp and the cheeses begin to brown.

Make the vinaigrette.

Meanwhile, whisk together 1/2 cup of olive oil, the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

Add the greens.

When the pizzas are done, place the arugula in a large bowl and toss with just enough lemon vinaigrette to moisten. Place a large bunch of arugula on each pizza and a slice of lemon and serve immediately.

Mango Banana Daiquiris
from Ina Garten

2 cups chopped ripe mango (1 to 2 mangos, peeled and seeded)
1 ripe banana, chopped
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (4 limes)
1/4 cup sugar syrup*
1 1/4 cups dark rum
Mango slices, for serving

Place the mango, banana, lime juice, sugar syrup, and rum in a blender and process until smooth. Add 2 cups of ice and process again until smooth and thick. Serve ice-cold in highball glasses with the mango slices.

*To make simple syrup, heat 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a small saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Chill.

Happy Birthday, Klaster

Friday, August 7, 2009

This month (roughly - he's an SPCA Special), my little baby turns four years old.

Klaster, thank you for being my best buddy. Thanks for cuddling up when I've cried, decided to randomly nap at odd hours, and been incredibly hungover. Thank you for not freaking out when I belt out Beyonce's "Halo" at the top of my lungs in the shower. Thanks for picking me as your favorite. Thanks for crying at Papa's door when I left you there for the weekend. Thank you for having a really quite adorable underbite that turns into a smile when I say, "Treat?". Thanks for growling at strange noises because you like to pretend you're big enough to protect me. Thanks for pooping in overgrown shrubs and bushes so I don't have to actually pick it up (no one knows it's there!).

Most of all, thanks for picking Papa and me back in 2006 after I saw your picture and fell in love at first sight. Happy birthday, my sweet boy.

*picture courtest of Away to Wag


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I Pray to Gouda is going to go a bit more...random. Oh, I will still bow down to the cheese gods, but there are other things to life besides food!

Grilled Ratatouille - Or So She Calls It. has changed for me. In a good way. Some people may look at this change as bad, or depressing, but those are generally people who don't know me very well. Those who do now see me as a happier, sunshiny-er, driven person. I'm just minus a spouse. Has life been perfect for the past six months as I've ridden this ride? Naturally, no. Am I headed toward more of life's adventures? Most definitely, yes.

That put me at a cooking crossroads. My previous cooking escapades involved another person I was experimenting with, creating for and sharing with. And when things ended, so did my zest for cooking.

Then I woke up and realized I have WAY too many friends to not bring back this hobby that had previously brought me so much joy, accomplishment and a sense of self-worth. WTF was I thinking? Being surrounded by friendship, food and wine is pretty much my most favorite thing. Ever. So hop back on the ride with me as I now show them what I've got.

Last night, my neighbors, Kim and Luna came over for a deeeelicious dinner of roasted veggies and chicken over couscous with pita wedges I toasted and served with goat cheese. I adapted this from Rachael Ray, who tried to call it ratatouille. I think Rachael Ray is full of poop on this one and has never had the real stuff in France.

Roasted "Ratatouille" over CousCous
adapted from Everyday Rachael Ray

3 large tomatoes, halved crosswise
2 bell peppers, quartered
2 zucchini, thickly sliced lengthwise
1 eggplant, thickly sliced lengthwise
1 onion, thickly sliced crosswise
1 head garlic, halved crosswise
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Cut veggies into wedges (leave garlic cloves whole) and toss with olive oil and salt and pepper and roast for 25 minutes.
2. After roasting, toss veggies with red wine vinegar and additional salt and pepper.

I served the veggies over couscous and tossed in pre-cooked chicken strips. I then cut pitas into wedges and baked them in the preheated oven for 10 minutes and served with a soft chevre.