Saturday, July 07, 2007

Top Chef Recipe 1

Here it is...the first completion of Top Chef. Thank you for voting this week, and remember, next Thursday is a whole other round! Start thinking about ingredients you would like me to include in the polls-just be sure I can buy it in a grocery store.

Ingredients:



Sausage: 2 sweet, 2 hot
Penne Pasta: 1/2 lb
Red Peppers: 2
Yellow Onion: 1
Garlic: 4 Cloves
Basil: 2 big bunches ~20 leaves
Olive Oil: 1/4 C.
White Wine: 1/2 C.
Goat Cheese: 4 oz
Pine Nuts: 2 T.
S&P To Taste

Method:


1 . Grill Sausage while fire roasting peppers until blackened.

2. Place blackened peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to allow them to sweat. Boil salted water for pasta. 3. Peel black skin off of peppers. Seed and stem, and place in a blender. Cook pasta and drain when done, approximately 8 minutes until al dente. 4. Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until they just begin to caramelize. Pour into blender. Add basil, wine, S&P. Blend until liquefied. Slowly add enough oil to thicken. Test for seasoning and adjust as needed. (No photo because I forgot!!)

5. Cut grilled sausage on a bias. Set aside. 6. (Check pasta!) Grind or chop pignoli nuts. Roll cheese into a log shape using parchment paper and roll into nuts. Heat a non-stick saute pan with a covering of olive oil-Medium High.


7. Cut 1/4 inch thick medallions from nutty cheese. Fry quickly on both sides until cheese is golden brown and melty.

8. Toss cooked pasta, sauce and sausage in the pan. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Place each serving in a pasta bowl and top with 3-5 medallions of cheese each. Garnish with basil and enjoy!



Verdict:


This was NOT bad at all...at first I was thinking that I would try some sort of cheese sauce. But the thought of goat cheese macaroni kind of skeeved me out-and I like goat cheese!

I then thought about the other ingredients and what I could do with them individually. Raw peppers or sauteed peppers wouldn't do-and I didn't want to have a standard "Sausage & Peppers" dish. So, I roasted the peppers and made a red pepper pesto sauce.

Good news-it's lowfat! (Until you add the sausage-but you could use turkey sausage)

Because I fire roasted the peppers, I went with grilled sausage. The whole summertime grilling theme really appealed to me, and it just seemed like the right thing to do. But now...the goat cheese!

We once made a salad in class with these medallions, only the crust was made of walnuts. Well, I don't much like walnuts, and thought of other nuts I could use. To me, the natural choice was Pine Nuts. Why? Because they are an ingredient in pesto! So, I tied the nuts into the sauce (which did NOT have pine nuts in it) and fried the cheese to make it soft and melty.

The flavor combinations here are bold. Fresh roasted peppers are strong as it is, but mellowing them out with the freshness of the basil really seemed to help. And the little bit of wine I added rounded the flavor, I think. *Note, if you don't want to add wine, use chicken stock instead!

Overall, I think this dish is a winner. I would make it for company and am looking forward to my leftovers! If you make this, be sure to take a bite of pasta, sausage and cheese all at once-it's yummy!

*Also, I'd love to hear about it if you make this dish...email me and I'll post your experience in a separate post.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Shake Your Money Maker

You know, I've been thinking a lot about how to make money in creative ways lately, hence, the PPP ads that we've all discussed. In the past couple of months I've sold some items such as a bed, pet carrying cases and an old cell phone.

And now, I've also sold books online.

I have a TON of books, most of which I will never read again. A while back I sold a box of books online and got about $40 for them. Well, the time has come and I did it again. $45 to be exact, and this site pays for all of the shipping.

Their site is not as accepting of books as my old one, but like I said, the shipping is paid for, and that's a huge deal. All you do is go to the website, punch in the ISBN codes and see if they'll buy it. If so, they tell you how much they'll pay and you accept.

Then you ship off all of your gently used books, and in a few weeks (media mail is slow) they'll either send you a check or deposit it right into your PayPal account.

It is a little sad to me to see books that I love being sold for so little. But I know that this company re-sells them to people who will love them too, and that gives me some comfort.

And also, the money pays the bills! If you are interested in knowing which site I go through, leave a message in comments (with your email address if I don't have it already) and I'll send it you the link...

Purple Versus Green

***Scroll down for the ingredient results***

Imagine not being able to say what religion you believe in. Or that you don't believe in any religion.

Imagine a place where expressing your opinion about marriage, divorce, abortion or the death penalty was illegal, and where people were intolerant of anyone who's view differed from theirs.

That place would suck, wouldn't it?

I live in America and have been lucky (hardly seems like a powerful enough word) enough to never know what it is like to have to hide what I believe in for fear of being shot or thrown in jail. And, being that I am an American, one can, and should assume that what is written here are written in an American tone of voice.

Do people disagree sometimes? Sure. Am I sometimes wrong? Yes. But never-ever-has anyone ever disrespected me here or harassed me because of what I believe.

And I am saddened that there are people out there that would do that. To anyone.

What makes this world beautiful is that opinions are shared, discussed and yes, sometimes debated. But that is okay. In fact, it is what makes it so beautiful. Passionate people talking about passionate topics.

Intelligently.

Deeply.

Respectfully.

I will never understand why one human being would hurt another human being-either physically or verbally-simply because their views differ. It is incomprehensible to me, really, how, for example only, a Catholic could hurt a Muslim or a purple person could hate a green one.

Today, and everyday, I ask that you take the time to appreciate the freedoms that you have to hold and express your own opinions and to respect the fact that your neighbor also has that same right. You don't have to agree. You can even debate.

But always, always...respect.

Top Chef Ingredient Results

Good morning everyone! Here are this weeks ingredient results. (As of midnight last night-sorry to those of you who voted after that)

Sausage


Red & Yellow Peppers


Pasta


Goat Cheese
And it will be a dinner...after work I'm off to the store to get my ingredients! Stay tuned on Sunday for the results.




Thursday, July 05, 2007

Top Chef: Week 1

Greg and I often have conversations about the show Top Chef and how contestants are given certain ingredients and are told to just create something. Though I think I could do this, I am not as confident as I think I should be. I am creative, yes, but often times I rely on recipes and then modify them as my intuition deems necessary.

Well, I've decided to start a Top Chef Type Poll here each week. It will consist of random ingredients and a style of dining. You, dear readers, will vote on which items I will buy, and I will, in turn, create something from it and post the recipe.

This could be fun. But...I need participation. My goal is to have this be a Thursday game and on Friday or Saturday when I am off, I will create and post...what do you think?

Do you think I can do it? Will you stump me? Will the food taste good!?!?

And, by all means, if you have a specific ingredient you would like featured one week, please leave me a comment or email me....so, without further ado...




Now...



And then...



Now...



Last...

Enter Sandman

Please scroll down for today's Top Chef edition


Dear Mr. Sandman (You Mutha Fuckin’ Bastard),

Hello. Let me introduce myself. My name is Maggie Moo and I’d like to talk 2 U. I would like to know why you have stopped visiting me. Was it something I said? Do you not like me sheets?

Do my pajamas offend you?

I am very confused, Mr. Sandman, because you are supposed to “Bring me a dream”. Every night I close my eyes, say my prayers like a good girl, and wait.

And wait.

And…wait. And every night I am disappointed because you skip my house and leave me tossing and turning, sleepless and tired dropping only when the sun starts to rise.

Is it that you run out of magic sand before you get to my street? Perhaps you can plan ahead of time from now on. I’d be willing to barter some of that magic dust of yours for….let’s say, chocolate chip cookies. Or lemon tarts. Or whatever little sand-throwing gnome-like men eat.

I’m in. I’m game. Just bring me that magic sand.

Lull me to sleep. Make a friggin sandcastle in my eyes. I don’t care. Load ‘em up…I can take it. Pretend like it’s a day at the beach.

But please….enter Sandman.

Your friends and loyal supporter,

Maggie Moo

PS. If you choose to ignore this request, I will have the Boogie Man kick your ass.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Why I Write Ads

I know that some of you are upset at the fact that I have been writing ads for people who pay me to post them here.

I'm sorry. The reasoning is simple. I need money.

Being that I work 2 jobs and go to school, my time is already strapped. There is no more room for me to squeeze in another job, but lots of bills that need to be paid. The only solution I can see (besides selling blood-do they do that anymore?) is by participating in PayPerPost.

Really, if you haven't yet looked into it, I highly suggest you do. No, this is not an ad. I will ALWAYS tell you when it is a paid ad before the post, and I will label it PayPerPost.

But seriously. I've made almost $130 since the 22nd. And I could have easily made more if I stayed by my computer more often and checked for opportunities on a regular basis. And each ad takes me only about 5 minutes to write.

If you are interested, click on the button in my sidebar and take a look. You're not selling out. You're being smart, taking an opportunity while it is there, making money easily and quickly.

But for those of you who hate that I'm doing it, again, I'm sorry. I promise it won't be this way forever. I just need to catch up and to be able to breath again...please keep visiting! I love ya all!

Movie Night

Tuesday night after lots of housework I decided to take myself to the movies. I ordered tickets online and hopped into the shower, changed into comfy clothes and set out on my way.

I brought a book with me because it is sometimes awkward just sitting there alone, and I've seen most of the "Which actress starred in..." trivia they play prior to the previews. I knew it would be crowded (which is why I ordered my ticket online) but I didn't expect it to be MOBBED.

It was.

I was very much looking forward to breezing in, getting my ticket and popcorn and sitting down for a good 15 minutes before previews. Instead, I waited in line at the concession stand for well over 25 minutes while an incompetent boy kept walking away from his station for God knows what reason.

I really wanted popcorn though. So I waited.

By the time I finally got into the theater, the previews were almost over, and most of the ideal seats were already taken. Luckily, I am only one person, and so I was still able to get a middle seat fairly high up in the theater.

So, what did I go see? Ratatouille!! And I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed it.



It was very cute and mildly funny. Of course I enjoyed it because it was mostly set in a kitchen and was about having a passion for cooking-even if it was a rat...

I won't tell you about the movie itself because I don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't yet seen it, but I will say that being someone who notices little things and who finds joy in the stupidest things, one of my favorite scenes involved a rat doing "jazz hands".

Most people won't even see it. But I was cracking up.

The only other thing I will say is that the main human character, Linguine reminds me of Ross Gheller.

It was weird.

Anyway...go see Ratatouille-it is a great movie and most of the characters wear checked pants.

8)

4th of July

Happy 4th of July everyone...I'm a little late on these wishes, I know. I had to work all day though, so I think you can forgive me, no?

Not to whine, but:

1. I need a massage. My lower back is killing me and it's in just the right location that I can't rub it myself.

2. I would like some ice cream. I have none. And no one is open. It's the 4th of freakin' July. I should have ice cream.

3. I am sad I get no fireworks again this year. It's the 4th of freakin' July. I should have fireworks.

4. If I can't have fireworks and ice cream, I should at least have beer or wine. I have neither.

I did get to have a hot dog today though. And I've painted my nails red because I'm off from school until Monday.

So, you know, it's not ALL bad. ;)

I hope you all had a wonderful day!!!

Diamonds & Summertime

Sean and I dated for 6 years. Our anniversary was July 21st, and every summer our families went on vacation to the very same place at the very same time. As we grew closer, we planned one romantic evening during this week to celebrate alone, away from our friends and family.

One year, I made Sean a mix tape of all of the songs that reminded me of our relationship. I dressed up pretty and put on his favorite perfume and packed a bag before we went to dinner. The bag included: Candles, a blanket and a boom box.

The resort we vacationed at was on the Connecticut River. After dinner, we walked hand in had down the hill, placed the blanket in the sand and set up the candles. I took out the boom box and handed him his gift-the tape. As we sat listening to the music, he took a small black box out of his pocket and put it on my stomach. (We were laying down)

Immediately I panicked and thought of engagement rings. We talked about getting married when we got older, but I could not imagine having to tell my parents that I was engaged in high school.

Slowly, I opened the box and found not this:


But a beautiful ring with a pink stone and small diamonds on the side. It was perfect, and unique, and I knew he must have searched long and hard for it. I threw my arms around him and thanked him after putting it on my left ring finger.

That night is still one of my favorite Sean memories. There are many, as he was a very good boyfriend. But summertime was always a special time for us, and celebrating our anniversary that year was perfect.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Wordless Wednesday



Hells Kitchen

People often ask me if I watch Hells Kitchen. My answer usually "No-I'm in school on Monday nights." That usually leads to said people giving me a blow by blow description of what went on during the previous night's episode.

So I feel like I do watch the show.

And, to be fair, I have seen it a few times, during days off from school, or on days we get home early. Since I have vacation from school this week, I was able to view 2 episodes of Hells Kitchen.

And I have to say-I don't really like it.

Sure, the concept is great-a small time chef rises to the top and receives a restaurant of their own in a great location, such as Vegas. But who ARE these people? Are they qualified? Why would a few months on a TV show qualify them to run a kitchen?

It wouldn't.

If there is one thing I've learned from being in culinary school and working in the industry so far, it's that no matter how much I think I know, I always end up learning that I don't know JACK. If someone were to come up to me today and hand me a restaurant, I would have to decline. I simply would not know what to do with it.

Sure, some of the chefs are experienced-there is Rock, an Executive Chef and I believe 2 other Sous Chefs. But the rest are pastry chefs, nannies and a line cook.

I'm sorry, but they would need a little bit more help running that restaurant than a lot of other chefs. And I'm not discounting what they do for a living-but restaurant work is very different than even catering. I learned that in my 6 months at the restaurant in Hartford. And for some, it simply is NOT an easy transition.

Also what I dislike about the show:

A diner walked up to the kitchen and was appalled by Ramsay yelling at her. Hello?!?! Do you not WATCH the show? Do you not KNOW what he's like? Seriously. I would not walk within 10 feet of that kitchen if I were a guest.

I do not think Chef should have called her a giraffe, though it's funny, it is not in the spirit of service. Though he is a well known and highly decorated chef, he seems to have forgotten that the customer is ultimately the one who pays his check, and why he has a job at all. His yelling at the contestants? I could care less about that.

That little red headed girl has a mop on her head. And she is NEVER once yelled at for keeping it down. Hellooooo??!?! She's in a KITCHEN. Not only should they have hats on, but seriously, tell the broad to pull her hair back like the rest of the girls. Why is this not an issue?

Also-one of the guys keeps under cooking the Risotto. Yet, he's always on the Risotto station. Why, after one day on that station does he not know how to cook risotto? Why does he constantly keep messing it up? IT'S THE SAME THING YOU COOKED BEFORE!!!! And no one mentions this to him. That's not very realistic.

Many people suggest that I go on this show. Now way in HELL-pun intended-would I ever do this. Not only do I not want to run a restaurant, but I wouldn't be able to shut up. I'd have to tell the pushy little red head to get her shit together and to pull her hair back, and I'd have to tell the Sous Chef guy who can't cook risotto that he's an idiot.

Of course, I'd do it in a nice way. 8) After all, I'm known for my positive attitude in the kitchen. LOL...

So, I'm sorry to disappoint all of you who want me to love this show-I just can't. It doesn't seem very realistic to me, and very blatant things are overlooked...I am curious to know who wins though, and so I will keep tabs.

Romance For Everyone

I think it is every girls dream to find true love-to be wined and dined and to experience honest to goodness romance . In today's busy world, meeting people seems much harder than it used to be. Many of us turn to online dating as a solution.

Not only does it allow you to screen your potential suitors, but it also allows you look at your own pace. This takes the initial stress of finding someone new. I have tried many online dating sights in the past, but have found that Eharmony is the safest, easiest way to connect with possible suitors.

When I first started, however, I was completely overwhelmed-what should I write on my profile? When is too soon to answer their request for communication and is it okay to talk to more than one man at a time? These are a few of many complex questions I would have loved to have answers to before signing up.

Now thanks to Romance For Everyone you can. This is a comprehensive website that answers many of the burning questions you may have about online dating. There are even specifics for Men and Women on Eharmony!

If you are lucky enough to already have a significant other, there are links to Love Letters, and also ideas for creating Romance!

Overall, Romance For Everyone is a high quality, easy to understand and navigate site that answers tough questions for anyone looking for love. I highly recommend you take a few minutes to browse through every link.

And I guarantee, if you stop by the Romantic Love Letters links, chances are you will not have to worry about a relationship breakup.

Toosdae ?'s

Hello my wonderful readers! I hope that this day finds each of you in good spirits and ready to answer these questions....for all of my American readers, have a safe and wonderful 4th of July tomorrow! For everyone else, you should take the day off anyway, just because it's summer.


1. What is the most exotic or rare food that you have ever eaten? Where were you and did you like it?


2. Did you have an imaginary friend when you were little? If so, what was their name and when did you realize they were truly imaginary?


3. Do you have any summertime traditions? If so, what are they and how long have you been doing it?



1. The most exotic or rare food that I have ever eaten would have to be sweetbreads-the thymus gland of a cow. It was sauteed with a butter sauce over it, and it was quite tasty. We had them in school.


2. I did have an imaginary friend when I was little. Her name was Mia. (Mee-a) I think I always knew she was imaginary, but she gave me comfort when I was lonely and pretending she was there made me feel better.


3. Yes. I do, and it's called my birthday. I've been celebrating it for 30 years and hope to have many more. ;)

Monday, July 02, 2007

Operation Watch TV

Or something like that...

I'm off from school this week, and boy am I excited! So much so that I've planned out what I'm going to watch this entire week. Of course, I'm not sure I'll make them all, but I've got a plan:

Monday:

Hell's Kitchen! Both the 8pm and the 9pm showing so I can make up what I haven't seen.

10PM: Anthony Bordain's "No Reservations" on the Travel Channel

Tuesday:

I get to listen LIVE to THE MO SHOW, cause I'm a FoMo. I might even get to call in. ;)
7PM: Red Sox vs Devil Rays
10PM: Toggle between Sox game and 48 Hour Mystery

Wednesday:

I work all day. I might get home in time to watch fireworks on the TV. This will be the 3rd year without fireworks. It makes me sad. Also, I do NOT get Bravo. This is where Top Chef is on.

Thursday:

7PM: Sox game
8PM: Big Brother/Sox
10:30: Ace of Cakes

Friday:
Not sure. I may take myself to the movies. But I don't like going to the movies on a Friday night alone. So I might wait until Saturday afternoon...

Manic Monday: Independence


It was just a cup of coffee. And maybe sometimes a bagel. Or a muffin. But definitely the coffee. And I didn't realize how much I enjoyed going to get it every morning until the day I was no longer allowed to.

Out of desperation, loneliness and the unwavering belief that I deserved a fairytale ending, I let him move in. I knew it was not the right thing to do, and I knew that he was pushing me faster than I wanted to go.

But he said he loved me, and he treated me nice. And he made me feel like I was worth it again.

And so, one Saturday morning I picked him up on the curb outside of the room he no longer rented, and invited him into my life on a more permanent basis.

At first, everything was fine. Him being there was a rare treat-like a vacation or a birthday surprise. He made me breakfast before work, called me to say hello during the day and when I got home, dinner would be on the table.

And then he started looking for a job. It was decided that he would drive me to work each day until he saved enough money to buy his own car. When I asked him to stop at the coffee shop, he scoffed and kept on driving.

"You don't need that-you're heavy enough."

That was the first slap I ever felt from him. Sadly, it was not the last.

Over the next year I'd be mentally abused, blackmailed, threatened and yes, even beat up. I was not allow to see friends, talk to family or buy myself anything new.

Even though it was my money. My house. My pride.

He wanted everything-and he was determined to make me give it to him.

And though I knew that it was happening, I had no way of stopping it.

My Independence was being taken away from me. My home, my freedom, my opinions-my laughter. And yet, every law protected him.

Unless I was willing to plow through him while he blocked the doorways, or was brave enough to take the phone that he ripped out of the wall away from him, I could not call the police. And when I later did, they told me I could evict him-a process that took over 30 days.

From the very moment his fist first touched me jaw (while driving me to work one day, simply because I changed the radio station) I vowed to get away from him.

I didn't know how, I didn't know when. But I knew that somehow, I would.

And the only reason I am here today, to tell this story, is because I was strong enough to do it.



Sunday, July 01, 2007

What's Cookin? Fried Rice!

Or...Flied Lice...and no, it doesn't take 10 minute...this is a recipe I've promised my friend Callie Ann for quite some time now-I'm sorry that it took me so long, my silly Brat. ;)

Fried rice will always be better when cooked in a Wok. However, if you don't have a wok, using a very hot saute pan will work in a pinch...

Pork Fried Rice

Serves 4


Pork Tenderloin, cut into cubes 3/4 Lb.
Hoisin Sauce 2 T.
Soy Sauce 1 T.
Ginger, grated 1 T.
Garlic, minced 2 T.
Sesame Oil 2 T.
Scallions, sliced 5
Carrot, shredded 1
Peas, frozen 1 Box
White Rice, cooked, chilled 2 C.
Eggs 2

Method:
1. Toss Pork with 1 T. Hoisin Sauce, 1 t. Soy Sauce, Ginger, and 2 t. Garlic. Heat heavy saute pan with 1 t. oil. Cook pork with spices until done, about 2 minutes. Remove from pan.
2. Add remaining oil to pan. Heat over medium high heat. Add remaining Hoisin and Soy Sauces, remaining garlic, and Green Onions. Cook 3 minutes.
3. Add Carrots, Peas & Rice. Cook until warmed through, about 2 minutes.
4. Add the eggs to the rice to scramble. Add pork back into mixture and toss until well combined.
5. Taste for seasoning. You may like more soy sauce-add a little bit at a time until desired flavor is achieved.
6. Serve warm-enjoy!