Welcome to my F-ing life!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Where have I been?

There's a leak behind the dishwasher.

 See the water and mold? Yeah...

Apparently, it's been leaking for quite some time. It finally got bad enough for us to realize that there was a leak. Of course, this happens not only on a weekend, but on July 4th weekend...when plumbers charge extra to simply answer their phone. Then there's a charge to get in their truck. Oh, and the charge to come to your house on the weekend...

I am a firm believer that services such as plumbing, phone, medical care, electric, food - you know, those things you need on a daily basis? - be available 24/7 to the masses for the same amount of money 24/7.  I don't think it's fair that certain industries are able to charge more just because it's a Saturday, Sunday or holiday. Even if it's 2 a.m. on a Tuesday, charging more should not be allowed.

But that's the way it is. Unfair? Yes. Can I change it? Nope.

Being the Sherlock that you are, I am sure you have deduced at this point that my lack of mouthwatering posts must have to do with our lack of kitchen amenities. No sink + no dishwasher = no cooking because we have no way to wash the pots and pans. So much fun. It's almost been a month now without a kitchen. I never was a huge fan a fast food before, but now, I really despise the fast food industry.

There was a week in July that we were saved from the grease pits of hell as far as eating goes - we took a week long cruise (courtesy of my uber-generous Mom...) aboard the newly christened Norwegian Epic. I will be making several posts all about that adventure with lots of pictures (food and otherwise) over the next few days.

I have also been having a love affair. Yes, it's true. I can't hide it any longer and I am so in love that I want to shout it from the rooftops...Netflix's Instant Streaming and I are hot-n-heavy. I hope Blockbuster doesn't find out about us....

Being unemployed, unable to find a J.O.B. and having no kitchen leaves me with quite a bit of time available, you know? So I am catching up on all those television series that I meant to watch but never had the time to or couldn't afford to purchase. It's really cool, but I wish Netflix would offer a tad more variety to the stuff you can watch instantly online.

I ended up watching the whole two seasons of Dead Like Me.

A quirky and sharp witted dark comedy. I absolutely loved it. I am also a huge fan of Mandy Patinkin, so I was sure going in that I would probably like it . It's a story about a girl named George who is killed by a toilet seat (you have to see it...) and she becomes a Reaper. These Reapers must collect the souls of people about to die right before it happens. Unfortunately, this only lasted two seasons on Showtime. They did do a follow up movie to wrap the series up, but the movie was completely lacking the humor and edge that was prevailed in the series. And Mandy Patinkin wasn't in it.

Then I sailed into Pushing Daisies, which was just okay. 

If anyone were to ask my opinion. I would have to say that the series might have lasted longer had they featured Kristin Chenoweth more. I liked watching her and the two Aunts, Lily and Vivian, played by Swoosie Kurtz and Ellen Greene. I really didn't care much for the two lead characters. The plot revolves around Ned, a pie maker who has the power to touch a dead person and bring them back to life.  But there's always a catch, right? Right! This catch means that touching the person a second time sends them right back to deadsville; if he neglects to touch them within the first 60 seconds of being reanimated, someone else will drop dead to take their place. So Ned brings back his childhood crush, can't touch her ever again, and has to kiss her through plastic wrap...yeah. Chenoweth, Kurtz and Green make it worth watching...trust me.

Party Down was a half hour comedy series on Starz that lasted two seasons.  

Very funny. I had heard really good things about it, so I gave it a shot and loved it. Hollywood wannabes bide their time working at a  catering company and each episode is one of the gigs. The team leader Ron, played by Ken Marino, embodies at minimum half of the bosses I have ever had. (I loved him in the CW series, Reaper, too! Alas, that's another great show that got the axe.) Jane Lynch is fantastic (first season only) in this!! Definitely worth watching, just not around the kiddies...

I just finished up all three seasons of Veronica Mars

I watched this because it was done by the same writer/director of Party Down. I was hesitant watching at first because it was described as a kind of rehash 90210 - high school hi-jinks, drunken beach bunnies and lots of required teen angst moments. So I was prepared to muddle through an episode, maybe two, before giving up. Not so, young Jedi. This series was well written and sarcastically brilliant. Yeah, I could have done without the high school stuff, but what could I do? I enjoyed the stories and mysteries, and really liked some of the characters. Francis Capra was exceptional as Eli 'Weevil' Navarro, Enrico Colantoni (Keith Mars, Veronica's Dad) was the dad everyone wishes they could have. Kristen Bell was pretty good, too. Of course they ended season 3 on a cliffhanger note, assuming they would be picked up for another season. Now there's talk of a wrap-up movie.

So that's my July, folks. Hopefully, the kitchen will be back to its regularly scheduled cooking within the next week so that I may bring you some food porn. Cross your fingers!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Adventures With Vinka's Cat - Day Eleven

Yeah, I took the last two days off (holiday weekend and all) from blogging and updating everyone on Vinka's cat. As a gesture of apology for keeping the world out of the loop for the last two days, I offer the following joke, lame though this joke may be, but humor nevertheless...

 "SO not funny....I will have my revenge!"

Days Remaining: 12

Retro 80's Movies Reviewed by The Drama Queen: U.H.F.

Hi there! Drama Queen here.  In an effort to better understand my 80's obsessed (and forever quoting!) parents, I thought it might be fun to spend a chunk of my summer watching some of their favorite movies from the 80's. Not only do I get to spend some quality fun time with them (and contrary to popular teenage attitudes, I actually do like to spend time with them, because my parents are...what's the 80's phrase? Oh yeah...Totally Awesome!), but I also get to witness some good and bad 80's movies and see first hand where some of the things Mom and Dad constantly say/quote actually come from...

Today, we travel to the wonderful world of 1989 amidst the offices and hallways of Channel U62...

U.H.F. (1989)

There are only three words to sum up this hilarious movie:

Weird. Al. Yankovic.


Weird Al proves himself the king of skit, spoof and everything in between. I grew up to a ton of Yankovic material...DVD's of The Weird Al Show, all of his song parodies, and I even got to see him live in concert rocking out with his trusty accordion! We even made a video for Papa Bear's 40th birthday to Weird Al's song, Albuquerque (it's his favorite Weird Al song - the video was awesome, by the way). I am well versed in Weird Al-dom. My parents didn't raise no fool...

The fact that he had made a movie completely blew my teenage mind! Don't get me wrong - I adore the man! It's just that when Mom told me that he pretty much owned the movie, I was shocked. Movie? Bring it on! All in all, I loved the film. It is guaranteed to make anyone laugh until the tears come! The character of George Newman was, of course, my favorite character. Being the comedic genius Weird Al is, how could he not play my favorite character?

This scene is just pure hilarity! It's what they should show under the definition of hilarity in the dictionary...  Yes, this shows cruelty to animals. And yes, I am very against that...in real life. But c'mon...flying poodles? Epic much?!

I "got" most, if not all of the 80's references in the movie too. And who wants to drink from the fire hose??? I do! I do! Did I mention the both my parents have a Spatula City tee shirt?? Yeah, they're kinda cool like that.

Drama Queen Rating:  4

Wicked Chef says:
Quintessential family movie. Our family, anyway. And yes - we do actually have Spatula City tee shirts. U.H.F. is slapstick, goofball comedy at its finest 97 minutes. So many great scenes, so many fantastic quotes, and best of all, Weird Al.  We beyond-love Weird Al. This is the only thing that I like Michael Richards or Fran Drescher in. When life gets too serious, it's time to watch this movie. In the wise words of George Newman: You gotta grab life by the lips and yank as hard as you can! 

So here is a crazy good recipe for a crazy good movie!!

"Porktater" Cheese Sliders

1 package of soft dinner rolls
1 small bag of frozen shredded hash browns
Spicy brown mustard (optional)
16-20 slices of your favorite cheese
8-10 thin pork cutlets, cut in half (should give you 16-20 "mini" cutlets)
Flour, seasoned with salt, pepper and cayenne (for dredging)
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup hot sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter

Prepare the hash browns according to package directions.

While the hash browns are cooking:  Melt the butter into the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. While that is working its magic, add the hot sauce to the bowl with the beaten egg. The seasoned flour for dredging should be in another separate bowl, but I'm sure you figured that out already.

Dip the cutlets into the egg mixture, then dredge in flour. Place cutlets in pan and cook about 3-4 minutes per side.  Cook in batches if necessary. Remove cutlets and keep warm.

To assemble your Porktater Cheese Sliders:  Cut each dinner roll in half horizontally to serve as the bun. On top of the bottom half of the roll, spread mustard if using and top with a mini cutlet. Top the cutlet with hash browns to cover. Top hash browns with your favorite cheese. I used American, but not because it's my favorite...it's what I had on hand. In this concoction, it wasn't half bad.  Top the slider with the top part of the roll and you're all set for your Porktater experience.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Sweet Chili Lime Wings and Bok Choy & Radish Stir Fry

Wings are an easy weeknight dinner, not to mention that I can cook the wings earlier in the day and warm them up for saucing later when everybody's hungry. And no one sees me sneak a cold wing or seven while waiting for said dinner time...

Normally I bake my wings, not fry them.  I do this for two reasons:

(1) Frying is not particularly healthy for you...yes, fried tastes better and yields a way, way tastier texture on the wings, but baking (if done right) can come pretty darned close. Not exact, but close.

(2) Deep frying frightens me. One day, I will blow something up by accident. Once I tried to deep fry fish nuggets in my trusty cast iron dutch oven and I either burned them or they didn't cook completely.  Deep frying is an art that I am still working to master.  I am much more comfortable skillet-frying my way into dinner.  Yet, I will continue to face my fear of frying in more than 2 inches of oil without whimpering in the corner.

I decided to fry the wings this time and face my fear of frying. It worked out pretty well. The texture was just about perfect and not too greasy.

I decided to experiment with a new sauce this time too. We always have the standard buffalo wing sauce, although the brand may vary from time to time.  We have tried (and liked):

* Crystal Hot Sauce and (melted) butter
* Budweiser Wing Sauce (even though I hate their beer other than American Ale)
* Crystal Wing Sauce

This time, however, I wanted to veer away from the traditional buffalo sauce and try something different.  I knew going into this that I was forbidden from making a strictly asian-type of sauce (i.e., using soy sauce in any way, shape or form) because the probability of Papa Bear eating them or liking them would drop below a 30% chance. He has issues with soy sauce that I shall save for another time...

I wanted sweet and spicy instead of just rip-your-tongue-out spicy. I decided on a maple syrup/chili sauce/lime sauce.  It was a little too sweet for Papa Bear and Crazy Artist, but everyone else thought it was pretty darned good. If you give it a try, let me know what you think.

Instead of the standard celery and carrot sticks with dressing, I decided to mix it up and do a quick stir fry with some bok choy and radish.  I cooked until just warm and slightly tender, but it still had a nice crunch to it. I also threw in a little shallot and lemon pepper for some zing.

All in all, this was really enjoyable.  Wings are always on our dinner rotation, and I think the sauce and stir fry side will be too...

Chili Lime Wings

3 pounds whole chicken wings
1 cup real maple syrup (not pancake syrup!)
1 cup chili sauce
2 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp dijon mustard
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp chili powder
Oil for frying

Cut the wings into three sections and discard the wing tips. In a deep skillet or dutch oven, heat oil to 375.  While the oil is heating, combine flour, salt, paprika, pepper and chili powder in a large ziplock bag and shake to combine. Add wings a few at a time and shake to coat.

Fry wings in batches for 8-12 minutes or until no longer pink, turning once. Drain on paper towels. You can stop at this point if you choose. You can refrigerate the wings until you're almost ready to eat; just heat your oven to 375 and heat the wings on a single layer on a baking sheet for 15-20 minutes. If you can't wait for wing-y goodness, continue to the next step.

In a medium saucepan, combine maple syrup, chili sauce, lime juice and mustard and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook until liquid has reduced to about 1 cup.  Transfer hot wings to a big bowl; add sauce mixture and toss to coat. Eat immediately or serve to your family...

Bok Choy & Radish Stir Fry

2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 head of Bok Choy
15-20 radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 shallot, thinly sliced
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp lemon pepper seasoning

Cut off root end of bok choy; you can use this as a garnish (as I did) if it looks particularly pretty.  If not, discard the root end. Cut leaves from stalks and cut into one inch slices. Cut stalks into one inch pieces.

In a large skillet, melt butter with oil over medium high heat.  When butter is melted, add bok choy and cook for 5 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Add the radishes, shallot, salt and lemon pepper. Cook and stir for about 3-4 minutes or until heated through.

Adventures With Vinka's Cat - Day Eight

"I will let you survive today if you can answer a riddle..."

"If you don't pay your exorcist, do you get repossessed?"

Days Remaining: 13

Adventures With Vinka's Cat - Day Seven

 "Oh, crap...here they come again..."

"Hello Kitty!!!"
"Here, Kitty Kitty..."
"What a pretty kitty...c'mere?!?!"

"Back off, humans...lest I eat your souls for dinner!"

Days Remaining:  14

Friday, July 2, 2010

Blondies with Brown Sugar Frosting - Little Lawyer's Sweet Tooth

This summer, Little Lawyer wants to perfect her dessert making technique instead of her sleeping until noon technique, or her eating chicken nuggets and pop tarts until she blows up technique. She originally wanted to hone her infamous "I'm SOOOO Bored!!!" summer battle cry, but I quickly suggested the 'make desserts yourself every week over summer break' thing before she could think of something worse.

She picks what she wants to make. She makes 'em. We eat 'em.  Deliciousness ensues.

This time, she chose Blondies with a frosting. How awesome is that?!?! These turned out wonderful with just the right amount of contrast with a drier blondie and a sweet, creamy brown sugar frosting.

Cream the butter and sugar together until oh-so-fluffy.

Then blend in the brown sugar, eggs and vanilla.

Gradually add the flour a little at a time until it's all in there.

Add the baking powder and salt.

Spread batter evenly into an ungreased 13x9 baking dish.

Bake for 18-20 minutes and remove to cool completely.

For the frosting, melt brown sugar and butter in a small saucepan. Cook on low for about 2 minutes, stirring all the while.

When all melted together, stir in the half-n-half and let it come to a rolling boil.  

Remove from the heat and gradually stir in the powdered sugar until incorporated.

Add vanilla and mix well until spreadable and smooth.  You can add a smidge or two more of half-n-half if the mixture is too thick. 

Spread frosting over cooled blondies. Sprinkle with your choice of nuts - I had chopped pecans on hand.

Cut into squares and enjoy!

Blondies with Brown Sugar Frosting

For Blondies:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder

For Frosting:
1/3 cup butter
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
3 tbsp half-n-half
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Heat oven to 350.  In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together.  Beat in the brown sugar, vanilla and eggs until light and fluffy.  Gradually add flour, baking powder and salt.  Spread mixture evenly into an ungreased 13x9 pan.  Bake 18-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool completely.

In saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar over low heat, stirring constantly for about 2 minutes.  Stir in half-n-half and cook until mixture comes to a rolling boil.  Remove from heat and gradually whisk in the powdered sugar, mixing well after each addition. Whisk in vanilla and stir until smooth and spreadable.

Spread frosting over blondies. If using nuts, sprinkle the frosting immediately after spreading while still warm. Cut blondies into squares for serving (or hide the pan from your family and keep these babies all to yourself!)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Adventures With Vinka's Cat - Day Six

 "Why do you people insist on coming back here?"

"Get the MEOW outta here and don't come back!
That is, unless of course, you bring me an offering..."

Days Remaining:  15

Adventures With Vinka's Cat - Day Five

"Na Na Boo Boo! You can't catch me!!!"

(She 'evil laughed' so hard, she threw her sweet face out of the shot...)

Days Remaining:  16