Archive for February, 2009

15th February
2009
written by Steph
Braised Balsamic Chicken

Braised Balsamic Chicken (served with brown rice & oven-roasted asparagus)

Holy moley, is this ever delicious, and the pictures don't do it justice.  Seriously, I think the simplicity of the individual ingredients involved belie just how frikkin’ good the final product is, because man oh man is this one ever good.  And quick to put together, too (no joke, this took all of 20 minutes to cook, if that)!  And appropriate for people on a tighter budget, because nothing all that fancy is needed, and in fact, not all that many ingredients are needed.  Oh, and it’s also healthy… And just so we’re clear: YUMMY.  I need to stop talking about it and just tell you how to go ahead and make it because it is so good and you don’t want to spend any more of your life without having tasted this chicken.  Let’s get to it! Ingredients (we’ll say for two, but you could probably add way more chicken, because we had a fair share of left-over veggies) •    2 skinless and deboned chicken breasts (we buy these mutant gargantuan (but organic!) chicken breasts at Sam’s club, so I just used one of these whoppers and cut it into 2 portions after the fact) •    ½ white onion, thinly sliced (not diced!) •    ½ red pepper, thinly sliced •    2 tbsp olive oil (or thereabouts, I never measure oil…) •    salt and pepper •    garlic salt* (this is for seasoning the chicken breast; feel free to use whatever you like to use → I actually used some garlic and herb seasoning I have) •    ¼ cup of balsamic vinegar •    1 can of diced tomatoes (I used a fire-roasted variety that I love because it gives them some extra flavor) •    1 tsp dried basil •    1 tsp dried oregano •    1 tsp dried rosemary •    ½ tsp dried thyme •    2 tbsp brown sugar •    fresh mozzarella cheese, or any other cheese you want for garnish (option) (more…)
13th February
2009
written by Steph
More like "Year of the Crazy Lady"

More like "Year of the Crazy Lady"

It should come as no surprise that Tony & I are huge dog people (in that we love dogs, not that we are part dog.  See this Demetri Martin clip for clarification.).  Because of this love, we tend to watch a lot of movies that feature dogs, and coo along adoringly when those adorable little canine scamps turn up onscreen.  Through this movie-watching exercise, I’ve come to believe that movie makers exploit our love of dogs, namely by making some truly horrendous films that ostensibly revolve around dogs or the love of same.  I mean, for every My Dog Skip, you have a Must Love Dogs, or a Beverley Hills Chihuahua, or even a, you guessed it, Year of the Dog.  [For the record, Tony & I have not seen Beverley Hills Chihuahua, nor do we have any plans to do so]  These are some bad movies, people, so be forewarned and avoid them if you either: a) love dogs; b) love movies; or c) love yourself. (more…)
12th February
2009
written by Steph

In honor of February being Black History month, I decided to read my first Toni Morrison novel.  I knew very little about her or her writing going into this, as the most salient trivia I had catalogued on her was that she had been featured multiple times in Oprah’s book club.  Let’s not hold that against her though, as she’s also been awarded the Nobel prize for Literature.  Also, I’m secure enough in my reading habits to admit that the real reason I picked this up at the used bookstore is because President Obama named it as one of his favorite books.  Ostensibly Beloved is Morrison’s best known book, but since Obama picked this one, so too did I.  What is it about all these O named people and their huge sway on reading habits? (more…)
11th February
2009
written by Steph
Steph's Take on Taryn's Jamie Oliver Parsnip Pasta

Steph's Take on Taryn's Jamie Oliver Parsnip Pasta

OK, here’s the thing: my friend Taryn has two Jamie O. pasta dishes that feature pretty prominently in her “cooking for company” repertoire.  The thing is, I think that over the years, I’ve slowly begun to amalgamate these two dishes, so that I’m no longer sure which ingredients belong in each dish independently.  Instead, I just chuck a bunch of things into a pan and call it a night.  A delicious night, but one that might differ significantly from what you’d get if Taryn were cooking.  So really, I guess this is Steph’s Take on Taryn’s Jamie Oliver Parsnip Pasta… But fear not!  Taryn is likely to comment on this post and point out all the ways in which I’m steering you wrong.  For what it’s worth, however, the way I made this dish was perfectly delicious so you could follow my directions and still be successful! So, parsnips in pasta.  You’ve probably never thought to do that, right?  Well, you really should try it because it’s really quite yummy.  Also, as is my M.O. when it comes to cooking, this recipe comes together really quickly, and is perfect for a weeknight meal. Ingredients (for 2 generous portions) •    2 – 3 Italian sausages, casings removed •    1 – 2 parsnips, peeled and thinly shaved •    6+ mushrooms, thinly sliced •    1 tbsp olive oil •    2 tbsp butter •    salt & pepper •    good quality flat “tangly” pasta (e.g., fettuccine or tagliatelle) •    grated parmesan or romano cheese, for garnish •    sprigs of parsley, for garnish (optional) (more…)
10th February
2009
written by Tony
Fist pump!

Fist pump!

I have been putting this review off. Not because I didn’t like the book and not because I am lazy (though I am). Mostly because I just can’t figure out how I feel about this damn book. I also can’t decide whether Kunzru is a well-disguised good writer or a patently oblivious semi-talented writer. Having never read any other Kunzru, much of this may be speculation. A little background before I begin the formal review: this is a member of the Tournament of Books reading list. A list that has been tirelessly wearing Steph down with clunkers and boat anchors. Early on Steph asked me if I wanted to weigh in on any of the ToB picks, and I arbitrarily decided to give this one a shot. As time went on (and I plowed through the works of Oscar Wilde) and Steph read more of the ToB selections I became nervous. The other books on the list were really terrible, and the normally respectable ToB benchmark was being called into question (by Steph). Had I made a Mistake (yes, a capital “M” mistake)? (more…)
9th February
2009
written by Steph
Shrimp with Snow Peas

Shrimp with Snow Peas

The title of this post is not technically  a misnomer, but it might be a bit misleading, as there is more to it than just shrimp and snow peas.  I often view the stirfry as a great means for cleaning out my crisper and using up veggies.  I figured, why use just snow peas when I also had some green pepper and mushrooms as well?  This meal is fantastic to prepare during the week, as the element of the dish requiring the most time was definitely the rice.  The rest of it came together in about 5 minutes!  And if you have a rice cooker that has a timer, as I do, then the cooking of the rice is not only a no brainer, but is also a non-issue.  For this dish, I essentially followed Rasa Malaysia’s recipe for Shrimp with Snow Peas (including her tips on getting crunchy shrimp!), but tweaked it a little bit.   Apart from adding in extra veg, I also doubled the sauce, while also adding a bit of hoisin sauce to it for extra flavor. Ingredients
  • 1/2 pound shrimp [I have no idea if I used this much; I used about 12 large shrimp]
  • 3 oz snow peas [Again, I just added in about 3 large handfuls and called it a day]
  • some canned straw/button mushrooms [I used fresh button mushrooms (about 6), chopped into quarters]
  • 2 teaspoons cooking oil [I used olive oil]
  • 1 green pepper, sliced into medium-sized chunks
  • ½ white onion chopped into chunks
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic [I use the stuff out of a jar because I am lazy]
Sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 8 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch
  • 2 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine (shaoxing or rice wine)
  • 2 dashes white pepper powder [I used black pepper]
  • 1 tablespoon of hoisin sauce
(more…)
7th February
2009
written by Steph
Aren't we cute?

Aren't we cute?

Earlier this week I celebrated my 26th birthday.  I’ve been so busy with work stuff lately that I have to admit this birthday kind of snuck up on me.  It felt like pretty much any other day (maybe this is what happens when your birthday happens mid-week?), which might having something to do with the fact that for the past year or so, Tony & I have tried to mark each birthday with a nice little vacation get-away.  Last year we went to the Smokey Mountains and rented a really nice cabin for a long weekend, which was really lovely and relaxing.  This year, however, we decided to forgo that option since we were just up in the mountains over Christmas.  Instead, we decided to stay in Nashville and Tony did all that he could to make sure my birthday was in fact a special day.  I’m happy to report that it was! (more…)
6th February
2009
written by Steph
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Chilly Pheese Steaks

Or as I inevitably wind up calling them “Chilly Pheese Steaks”!  However you say it, I’ve been craving one for the past 2 weeks or so.  This is how I know I could never really be a vegetarian, as every so often I just get wildly intense cravings for red meat. I’ll admit that I cheated a little bit on this meal, using leftover fajita steak from a meal out at our erstwhile favorite Mexican restaurant rather than cooking the meat myself.  I had the best of intentions as I purchased a package of tenderized round steak at Publix the last time we went shopping.  But when I took it out of the fridge too cook (after just two days in the fridge) it didn’t look quite right.  It was a dark purple color that made us a feel a bit uncomfortable and we ultimately decided not to risk cooking meat that had potentially gone off.  So I used leftover steak instead.  C’est la vie.  The one bonus, it definitely cut down on the cooking time (though not massively, since this dish really takes all of 20 minutes to assemble). (more…)
5th February
2009
written by Steph

I’ve decided to take a temporary hiatus from reading my way through the books on this year’s Tournament of Books list.  Right now I’ve read a quarter of the entrants (read: four books), and while I thought half of these books were ok, I haven’t exactly thought any of them were stellar, and some of them were definitely not my cuppa tea.  In the end, I want my reading experience to be an enjoyable one, and if restricting my book choices to a list isn’t proving to be profitable, I’d rather cut my losses and try something else.  Part of my decision has been influenced by the fact that many of the ToB books I’ve requested at my local library still have a rather lengthy list, so I have no choice but to move on to different reading material for the time being.  So far the books I’ve sampled from the list haven’t instilled me with the kind of confidence to rush out and buy any of the other books on the list, so until the books are available to me at no fiscal cost whatsoever, I’m going to read through my lengthy TBR pile (which has increased in length yet again, due to McKay’s... it's supplanted shoe buying, which is a huge deal for me).  I’m not swearing off the ToB books forever, mind you, but I might cleanse my literary palate for a while before venturing back to them.  In the end, I might prefer to wait and see which books at least win their first round before picking up any more, as I think I’ve spent enough time with some of the loser books… (more…)
4th February
2009
written by Steph
To read makes our speaking English good!

Click for an up close & personal view of these beauties!

Just imagine this post's title sung to you by dancing hot dogs and bags of popcorn... At this point, I don’t think I really need to admit to all of you that I have a ridiculous book-buying habit.  I mean, that’s kind of old news.  Plus, it’s not like any of my fellow book lovers out there are going to judge me (harshly) for this kind of addictive behavior… right?  It’s not like it’s hurting anyone! For what it’s worth, I have instituted a policy that I am no longer allowed to go to McKay’s unless I’m bringing books/dvds/games to trade in for store credit.  So while I continue to accumulate books, I’m also forcing myself to get rid of books that I didn’t like all that much rather than just being a clutterbug.  And this new policy has also lightened the impact on my wallet, since on our last two trips I haven’t had to pay using “real” money for any of our purchases. Anyway, let’s get onto the loot!  This time we came away with 16 books, which came to a grand total of $33 (store credit).  Our most expensive book was, I think, $5, and our cheapest book came in at $1 (several books fell into this category). After the jump, in-depth analyses of the various columns and the books constituting them! (more…)
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