Thursday, April 2, 2009

Happy Birthday To Thee

Today is my beloved's day of being birthed into the world. Now, this is not just any ordinary birthday. Oh nay. Tony requires an entire birthday month. Yeah, and I'M the high maintenance one in the relationship. Uh huh. The build-up starts usually around mid-March - I'm reminded, in no uncertain terms, that his birthday month is coming up. Ohmagod, really? I would have otherwise forgotten! What would a girl do without those reminders? I mean, you know how us girls are so forgetful of taking care of business. Umm hmm.

To My Dear and Loving Husband (riffing on Anne Bradstreet here) - Happy Birthmonth To You, darling.

For this momentous occasion, I thought I'd just toss out a few Reasons I Love Thee:

*You never get bent out shape about anything - you fully realize that is my job and appreciate how good I am at it

*You call mascara "eyeshadow" - I dunno, there is just something rather adorable about this

*You're willing to answer the same question over and over and over: do you like this piece of string? You do? Are you sure? What do you like about it? And you're totally sure you like it? You wouldn't just say you like it? So you really like it? Okay. Eight hours later: you really did like it?

*You accept all my neuroses, pffffft, not that I have any though

*You love that frickin' Chipotle as much as I do

*You understand my almost freakish love of animals and love that about me

*You set bugs free from our house, if I ask you to

*You stay clear of my obsession with white dishes and little, useless trays

*You tolerate my ridiculous obsession with our dogs' health and nutrition

*You don't judge if I stay in my pajama pants all weekend

*You believe me when I say my wingspan is 7 feet

Lastly, you are the very kind of person which I wish the rest of the human race would strive to be.

What's for dinner? Well, of course your favorite - Red Velvet Cake. What else? Let the Birthmonth begin...

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Yes, No, Maybe

Yes, I am alive.
No, I wasn't abducted by aliens yet again.
Maybe I should explore blogging from space...but then I'd have to figure out how to get there, plus I think my hair would suck in space.

Yes, I am still baking.
No, I haven't made anything new in the last 3 weeks - I'm stuck on repeat.
Maybe I should ban myself
for 6 months from all old recipes and ban myself from procrastination; though I think I'll wait on that last part.

Yes, I still think of my blog every single, solitary day.
No, I do not think this wretched lack of inspiration is permanent
Maybe I shoudn't use single and solitary together - isn't that redundant and unnecessary? Isn't using both redundant and unnecessary also redundant and unnecessary?

Yes, I can't stop thinking of those muffins.
No, I don't regret introducing them to you - despite the several "I'm now in rehab, bitch!" emails.
Maybe I should start baking with iceberg lettuce as the base of all dishes. Or, anchovies.

Yes, at least I'm still twittering.
No, that is not something I do by myself, alone, in the closet, while wearing a blue wig.
Maybe I should wear a blue wig and live in a closet, but how would my natural hair breathe?

Yes, I have a most severe case of blogstipation.
No, I'm not aware of any medication for it, including Senna Tea.
Maybe I should make Grandma Iny's Prune Cake, hoping that maybe it will give me blogarrhea.

Yes, I really will try to post more often.
No, I do NOT like the bottom of my feet touched, EVER; although I do like the smell of feta and don't feel I'm eating cheese made of feet.
Maybe I shouldn't write everything that just pops into my head...


Missing you all! And yes, I do promise that NO, I will never write a yes, no, maybe post again, unless...well...maybe I shouldn't promise anything except -- I promise to never go exactly the speed limit and I will probably never use margarine to shave my legs. There, I commit.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I Am Now In The Muffin Loop

I am so sick.

Of myself.

Do you know what I mean? I'm just fed up TO HERE with me. I feel boring, uninspired, whiny, ridiculous, apathetic, and just TOTALLY BLEH. I feel like white bread looks. Just meh. Seriously, I wish someone could just reach through this screen right now and slap me, wake me up. Or, bring me pills.

Is it a stage or something? Or am I seriously just this meh bleh eh meh? I look at my camera and shrug and go meh. I look at my stacks of cookbooks and think about what I could whip up with those babies and I go meh. I look at my dogs who want to go for a walk and I go meh bark bark meh. I look at my phone and think about all the peeps I could call for a chat and I go meh. It's just meh meh meh meh meh. Oh my god, someone pull my head out of my ass before I whine us all to death. What a snore I am!

I was just going to write "I can't seem to get hooked into anything lately!" - and I realized it wasn't quite true because you know what I thought of? Yep. Food. I don't feel meh when I think about sushi or good food or a blow-my-lid-off dessert. I get all squirrely and excited. So there you go - I thought of a non-meh thing. Gawd, let's throw a party. Throw back a shot of whisky. Run around the block naked, screaming "I LOVE SOUP" - just for the hell of it. See, now that would be exciting, wouldn't it? Or at least arresting, literally.

You know, I didn't have any real idea of what this ramble was going to be about but it actually came full circle for me, considering the recipe I'm going to toss out here. I was feeling meh and bleh a few weeks back - it was a Sunday morning and I decided to dig through my recipes to see what My Royal Boringness might throw together. Well, I came across a recipe I'd been meaning to make for MONTHS - it was from my dear friend, Joan, who comments here and she sent it to me ages ago. Why I waited so long, I cannot tell you. Just sheer idiocy.

Let me just ask you this: have you ever had a muffin melt in your mouth? No? WELL IT IS SO NOT MEH OR BLEH. So, if you've been feeling meh or bleh - I swear on my future grave you MUST make these muffins. MUST. Do it this weekend and don't look back. Swear to me now, NOW!

French Breakfast Muffins

I never knew a muffin could be so exciting. So simple, yet so exciting. Am I alone in this lack of knowledge? Does everyone else on the planet know the awesomeness of a dang muffin, but forgot to fully inform me? Whatever the case, these are incredible and I really mean it. I don't know why they're "French" and I don't care; I don't why they're called "Breakfast" because a person really should eat them all day long, as far as I can tell. I just tilted my head back in ecstasy because I just had a little muffin flashback. Well, better than an acid flashback, I suppose. Anyway, eat these warm - when warm, they pretty much just melt in your mouth and it's heavenly. You will have leftover melted butter and cinnamon sugar but FEAR NOT! Just tear off little pieces of muffin, dip in butter, then in cinnamon sugar, place in mouth and then think "Thank you, Ann's friend Joan, thank you". That's all.

1/3 c. butter, melted
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg (preferably room temperature)
1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 c. milk

Topping (option: cut topping in half*)
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter, melted
1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a medium-large bowl, sift together all dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients and stir just until combined, but still a bit lumpy. Do NOT overmix; overmixing will ruin the texture of the finished muffins. Also? Don't overmix the batter. Finally, don't overmix. Scoop batter into muffin tins that have sprayed with cooking spray. Using a large ice cream scoop, I got 8 medium-large muffins out of this batter; I think you could get 10-12 muffins by distributing the batter a little less generously. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until they just start to turn a bit golden at the edges.

For the topping, mix sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Place melted butter in another small bowl. Dip the warm muffins in melted butter (you can dip just the top, but it's even tastier to dip the whole muffin!), then dip/roll the muffin in cinnamon sugar. *May have left-over topping; the extra topping can be used for dipping, while eating the muffins (oh my). Another option is to cut the topping ingredients in half. CONSUME, ENJOY, GO CRAZY!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

That Football Thingy

Ya know that upcoming Football Thingy? What is it? The Uber Bowl? The Pooper Bowl? AH! THE SUPER BOWL! That's it. Just super.

Well the thing is, the REAL thing of it - is that the Super Bowl always falls on my birthday weekend! How rude is that? Does the NFL just not care about the day I was born? I feel so insignificant - like a pea without a pod, a grain of sand without an hourglass, a pickle without a pregnancy, a Viagra email without a spam destination, a fax minus its cover sheet, a bank with no bailout money, a Cheney with no one to shoot at. STOP ME. Shut up self. Wow that was fun.

Anyway, LAST YEAR for my birthday we were thinking where-oh-where shall we go for this VERY significant day of my birth? Well, nowhere, Miss Coversheetless Fax, because the Super Bowl was right here in Phoenix. That's right! You want a flight in or out of Phoenix? Well good luck with your inner-private-jet because that's as close to the jet stream you're going to get! Uh huh. And noooo you can't go to Vegas because everyone there is there for the Superbowl too - so just forget it!

So THIS YEAR, we were again talking about where to go, what to do, and again, Vegas comes up because it's so very close - an hour's flight away. But alas, it seems there are no deals in Sin City over the BIG weekend. Do you now see my suffering? It's a first-world problem, I know, but still.

All I have to say is, it's a good thing I'm not big on celebrations - that I'm actually really low key about my birthday. You didn't pick up on that? Oh yeah. In reality, I'm just ho-hum about almost all traditional celebrations, but especially ones that are focused on me. I think it's others who feel like they have to make the day special. But really, a simple card will do. I'm easy that way.

This year, however, there will be a little twist to the weekend - Arizona is IN the Super Bowl! For the first time in, like, a thousand years! I think the last time they went, pterodactyls were still roaming the Mother Ship. This is what I hear. I'm not a big sportician, but I actually saw the playoff game and enjoyed it! What le heck? Who am I? It was a roller coaster though - a few times I thought I was going to blow a capillary and it was touch and go.

So I don't know...I'm kind of looking forward to the game next weekend. Who said that? I said that. If I was already in a grave - I'd be rolling over in it right now. But I'm not, so I can't. And that's a good thing actually because I don't like eating dirt. Instead, I'd rather eat this dip....

It is a real departure for this blog, but I'm going to post a NON-DESSERT recipe. I know, right! My grains of sugar are organizing a mutiny as we speak - the flour is going to throw itself at my faux-fur. It's a shocker. But for this upcoming chip-and-dip weekend...I give you this anomaly....

Mexican Artichoke Dip

I used to make this dip about 10 years ago, but had forgotten all about it until my sister recently asked me for the recipe. Since December, I've been making it again and - WOW - why did I ever stop making it? We like it with tortilla chips; and honestly, we've been "liking it" about every single weekend since I rediscovered it. So, I should actually say we love it. We can't get enough of it right now. It's a rather healthy little dip, and it's low fat and all - but with the quantities we're consuming, I'm just not sure it's healthy at all, but there you have it. Even better? It could not be easier to throw together.

1 c. light mayo (or, fat free)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 c. soft breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. hot pepper sauce
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 cans (14 oz. each) artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped
1 can (4 oz.) chopped green chilies
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, combine mayo, Parmesan, breadcrumbs, Worcestershire, hot pepper sauce and garlic powder. Gently fold in artichokes and green chilies. Spoon mixture into a casserole dish (or any oven-proof dish) coated with cooking spray. Cover and bake for 20 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips, pita wedges, melba rounds, or veggies. Makes about 4 cups. ENJOY!

Monday, January 12, 2009

I Thought I Was French

My ancestry is chock full of French-ness. And, I admit to being a bit of a francophile. There are no medications for it, so please don't slay me over it. Even worse, right now I'm reading "Marie Antoinette: The Journey" and cannot get enough of it. It's really an illness. I've been cussing in French for weeks now - and all of it sounds so much more delicious in French, really! I feel so delicate tossing out f-bombs in francaise. Mais bien sur!

With this book I'm reading, I find myself fantasizing about wearing all those poufy dresses and wigs and hats. And then I realize I'm wearing flannel pajama pants. I wonder if I'd have been a good duchess or countess. And then I remember that I cringe when someone says "Miss" or "Ma'am" to me. I dream of all those balls and social extravaganzas. And then I recall that I'm a total homebody; I practically need rocket fuel to propel my butt out of the house.

So, maybe it's not my era. But if I could choose a super-power? Puh-lease, hands down - time travel. Can you imagine? Oh swoon.

Well, with all this Frenchification and armchair time-traveling lately, I thought I might make something, well, French and, well, from another era. Duh. So hard to follow, no? Um, no.

What I decided upon, mon amies, was Calissons. What le heck are they, you ask? There are a few historical versions of their origin, but apparently this confectionery was introduced in 1473 for the wedding dinner of King Rene's second marriage. Later, during the 19th century, Calisson factories sprouted up and today, the capital of Calisson production is found in the Provence region.

Now, since I'm French and all - I thought mine would turn out just perfectly. You know, my French blood and everything. Makes sense to moi. Well, I don't think mine turned out quite right, despite all those French cells screaming through my bone marrow. I just don't get it.

But anyway, on the subject of time travel, what era would you blast yourself into, if you could?


I honestly can't recall from where I obtained this recipe - somewhere on the intertwined interwebs; usually, I print out a recipe and include the name of the creator. In this case, clearly my French blood interfered. Anyway, these taste a bit like Marzipan but with a nice hint of fruity flavor and, to me, a yummier slant of sweetness than Marzipan. The color of the nougat should actually be more homogeneous and smoother - mine appear a bit funky because there was still some skin on my sliced almonds and I'm not sure I ground them fine enough. Dang me. They are extremely easy to make and a nice little treat if you like almondy flavors with a hint of fruit. This is a translated recipe, so forgive the annoying measurements. It's not you, it's me.

6.3 oz. ground almonds
3 oz. powdered sugar
1.75 oz. apricot jam
1/4 tsp. almond extract
2 tsp. orange blossom flower water

For the icing: 1 egg white & 3/4 c. powdered sugar (and milk, if needed, to thin icing)

In a food processor, grind almonds as fine as possible. Add sugar and pulse until combined, just a few seconds. Add jam, extract, orange water and process until it forms a smooth paste - it may ball-up in the processor, indicating it's finished combining. It will be a sticky dough, but form it into a ball and place on a large piece of plastic wrap (the piece should be much bigger than the ball) - place another piece of wrap on top of the ball and then roll the dough out (rolling on top of the 2nd piece of wrap) until about 1/4 inch thick. Uncover and leave at room temperature for 1-2 hours or until the dough is not sticky to the touch.

If you have an almond-shaped cutter, use that as it is the traditional shape. If not, use a small round cutter and then use a knife to cut each circle in half. Alternatively, you could use a knife to hand-cut almond shapes. Place cut-outs on a baking sheet lined with parchment and refrigerate for about an hour or until the candies are firm.

For the icing, mix together the egg white and powdered sugar; if too thick, add a bit of milk. It should have the consistency of a thick syrup. Dip the top of each Calisson into the icing, letting the excess drip off, then place onto the parchment. Repeat with the remaining candies and then let them sit at room temperature overnight. ENJOY!