Saturday, September 08, 2007

Zoe Relaxin'

Last week I was worried that Zoe was not getting used to me like she should be, and was sad because she still hid for most of the day. I couldn't get her to come out unless I picked her up and brought her to the couch-and she hates to be picked up.

After getting sound advice from the kitty expert, I went home determined to make Zoe love me. I got on the floor of my bedroom and talked to her for a while (she was under my bed) and the went about my business. A little while later, I talked to her too, and just kept on doing it. When she finally came out, I told her that I loved her and that she was safe here and that as long as I had a home, she would too.

Some people say that cats don't understand what you say, but I'm telling you...Zoe understood. Almost immediatly she relaxed and started to cuddle. She came out of hiding more and even started jumping up on the sofa when I was there. The major turning point was when she jumped on my chest when I was reading and layed down and purred.

Now, I can't get her to leave me alone! (ha ha ha) She's my little shadow, and I love it. And when she's not shadowing me, she's realaxing out in the open, in places she normally wouldn't go:

Zoe on my bed, on top of my brand new WHITE Breast Cancer Walk Shirt! (Have you donated yet?)

Keeping Guard while Mommy Blogs
She must have super sensitive eyes though, because I can't ever get a shot with them open!! Her eyes are green, and they are lovely.

~Thank you MoMo, for all of your help!

Photo Hunters: Music

For more Photo Hunters, click HERE
This is my niece Rye Bread when she was about 3 years old (She's 5 now, YIKES) playing with Papa's (grandfather) guitar...

Friday, September 07, 2007

Stats

Ha!

The latest search engine results on my stats show that someone found me by typing:

MEN INTIMIDATED BY feisty women

I love that feisty women is in lower case letters, almost as if the poor boy is ashamed of it...

Top Chef Ingredient Results


The results are in, thank you everyone for voting! Please hold your applause until the end...
*
This weeks winners are:
*
With 39.3% of the vote: Pork Chops!
*
With 40% of the vote: Peaches!
*
With 33.3% of the vote: Couscous!
*
With a whopping 48.1% of the vote: Spinach!
(Who let Popeye vote?)
*
Remember that this week's recipe will not be posted until next weeks voting session...more time hopefully means a better recipe. 8)

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Any Apples?

The way cool Frigga from Any Apples sent over some interview questions to me and I've been procrastinating. But...she procrastinated too, so this makes us even, right Frigga? ;) Her questions were really good and some hard to answer, but I did my best. Check 'em out below. And, if you have time, go on over and say hello. She's a cool chick...

1. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was a kid (like in elementary school) I used to play school and I was always the teacher. This was fun until my "students" (usually my little sister or my cousins) would act up, I reconsidered. For as long as I can remember, I always wanted to cook, though my naming the occupation didn't come until high school.

2. Why do you blog?
I started this blog because a cute boy I was dating had one and I was curious. It ended up that I was pretty good at it and people started visiting and I was sucked in! (Yes, I'm a total comment/stat whore.) Now I blog to blow off steam, relax, and write though I've cut down on that lately. (It'll pick up again now that school's out.) Blogging has extended my network of friends and has given me a tremendous amount of support. Without that, I am certain I wouldn't have kept blogging.

3. Okay Single Girl - what are you looking for in a man?
Ah, the ever growing question that everyone seems to ask now that I'm "in my 30's"...
*Someone who loves me back. This seems to be a reoccurring problem I have, and I really would like that to change.
*I love a guy who is an adult but looks and primarily acts like they are still in college (minus the beer pong/keg stands) but can "clean up" for a nice dinner and a glass of wine.
*A sense of humor is a MUST. If they don't make me laugh, they're outta here!
*They have to be taller than I am and having nice lips helps. Kissing=very important.
*It's also important that they not be afraid to be partners with a strong, driven female because though I sometimes fall apart, I'm basically pretty independent and know what I want.
*That being said, he has to be sensitive and caring and willing to talk things out and who's not afraid to jump in, even if it's scary.
*A little sense of adventure is good but not crizazy. Think spontaneous drive to Vermont to see the leaves and not a spontaneous trip to run with the bulls.
*Remembers little things & uses them to show me he loves me and cares.
*Kind to other & willing to hold doors for people

Oh, and if they wear they're baseball hats backwards, I'm totally in. 8)
And don't worry, Claire made sure I had authority to write the above requirements.

4. What's your most embarrassing or horrifying date story?
I don't really have an embarrassing date story, and the one I'm going to tell isn't really even horrifying. I guess I'm lucky in that regard. However, I went on a blind date with a guy who I'd talked to on the phone a few times. He seemed nice enough, but I was worried that we might not have a lot to talk about. I decided to try it anyway, because not everyone likes the phone.

Before we met he told me that if he liked me, he was going to kiss me for sure. I thought that was weird and true to my "Maggie can't be flirted with" nature, I panicked and made a joke. I also told him that I would shake his hand if I didn't want him to kiss me.

The date was horrible. I got there and he had slicked back greasy hair, big fat disgusting lips (that still make me cringe today) and he dressed horribly. I knew there was NO WAY eva that I was gonna kiss that man. The conversation was horrible. I'd ask a question and get either rambles that had nothing to do with what I asked or one word answers. He had no questions for me. I excused myself and went to the bathroom. When I came back his eyes lit up and he said, "Oh! I have a question!!!"

Excited at the prospect of maybe having a little convo, I asked what it was. He proudly asked, with a huge, lippy smile, "What's your favorite color?"

Yeah. So the date ended and he knew that I didn't want a kiss by my body language. He put out his hand to shake and I pulled my hand away saying:

"There was no soap in the bathroom....you don't want to touch these hands!"

And I walked away, never to talk to him again. The end.

5. What's the hardest thing you've ever had to do?
Wow. This question is Tough. There are so many to choose from, though looking back, they all seem so minor. Because I have to choose one, I would have to say that the hardest thing I've ever had to do return home to live alone after moving out to get away from an abusive boyfriend. Most of you know the story already, so I won't go into detail, but basically I woke up knowing I wouldn't return until the police made him leave. (It is my house, he didn't even pay rent) He was court ordered to leave and he came to the house and trashed EVERYTHING. He'd broken in before to get me back too. However, I knew that I had to take my house back and just a day later I walked back into my dirty, broken house shaking with the fear of him coming back to kill me.

I slept with the lights on, a maglight and a knife under my pillow and got a cell phone. I got an alarm the following week. It's just recently that I am able to sleep with my window open and the alarm off.

*Phew* I'm tuckered out! I had to curb a few of these answers because they were getting wicked long...I hope you enjoyed reading them. Thank you Frigga, that was FUN!

Lunchtime Notes

I had a BLT today for lunch. It's amazing to me how in our quest for "gourmet" food we forget about the simplest pleasures like a good BLT. It's been a long time, my crunchy sandwich friend-I've missed you.

After lunch I went to the bathroom and realized I had my underwear on backwards! That explains the major wedgie I've had all morning...it just goes to show you that you should never get dressed in the dark, especially when you are running late...

Top Chef



Hi everyone! It's Thursday and you know what that means! TOP CHEF!! Now, you noticed that I did not post last week's recipe. There are a couple of reasons for that:

1. My cell phone charger broke and therefore my phone is dead. Therefore, I can not email myself the picture I took of the food. *UPDATE*I found my car charger...
2. I am going to begin posting the recipes on Thursdays. This will give me more time to plan, shop and cook.
However, I've recovered the picture and placed the recipe below...check it out after you VOTE!




Then...


And don't forget...


And what's life without a little randomivity?





Now...for last week's recipe: Remember: Mushrooms, Rice, Cheese & Peppers won...


Grilled Portobello Mushrooms w/ Wild Rice Stuffing & Roasted Pepper Vinaigrette

Mushrooms:
Portobello Mushroom Caps 4
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

Stuffing:
Wild Rice 1 1/2 C.
Chicken Stock According to Rice Directions
Salt
Olive Oil 2 T.
Yellow Onion 1, Fine Chopped
Garlic 2 Cloves, Minced
Rosemary, Fresh 2 T. Chopped
Flat Leaf Parsley 1/4 C. Chopped Fine

Vinaigrette:
Green Chili Peppers, Roasted 5 Fine Chopped
Red Onion 1/2 Chopped
Roasted Garlic 8 Cloves, smashed
Sherry Vinegar 1/4 C.
Honey 1 T.
Dijon Mustard 1 T.
Olive Oil 1/2 C.
Salt & Pepper TT

Method:
1. Prepare Rice by following package directions substituting Chicken Stock for water.
2. In olive oil, saute onion and garlic until translucent. Add this and rosemary to the rice. Check for seasoning. Add salt & pepper to taste.
3. When rice is done, add parsley and mix well.

Prepare Vinaigrette
4. Combine all ingredients except for oil. Once combined, slowly whisk in oil in a steady stream to create an emulsion. Set aside. For a completely smooth dressing, you can opt to do this in a blender by pulsing the mixture first and then adding the oil.

Grill Mushrooms:
5. Brush both sides of mushrooms with oil and season with salt and pepper.
6. Grill shrooms on both sides until cooked through, about 10 minutes.
7. Spoon rice mixture into mushroom caps. Drizzle with vinaigrette and serve.

*You may have noticed that I've eliminated the cheese. In my test recipe, I added a smoked gouda because I thought that the roasted chilis would go nicely with it. Well, I found that smoked gouda does not really melt well. See the picture above-it's the little orangey cubes on the rice. It did not taste good at all.

The rest of the recipe is great. I would make this vinaigrette for other uses too-a nice salad or perhaps to drizzle over meat. If you must have cheese, I think maybe a sprinkle of Monterrey jack would go well as a finisher after you stuff the shrooms. Otherwise, this recipe is fine the way it is.

The only gripe about the food this week: No one liked wild rice. Had I known that, I would have used a different kind!

Thursday Thirteen: Culinary Tips

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Thirteen Culinary Tips 4 People Who Didn't Go 2 Culinary School




1. Always use a sharp knife. A dull knife is the most dangerous tool in your kitchen because you have to add extra pressure to cut your food. Extra pressure means a greater possibility for you to slip and cut yourself. And I can say from experience, cutting yourself with a dull, dirty knife is NOT fun.


2. Hold the knife properly. In the picture below, the thumb and index finger grip the blade just above the handle. This gives you a solid grip and better control of your cutting.


Use your other hand to hold and guide the food. Use curled fingers to protect your finger tips, and don't forget to tuck in your thumb! (Also another lesson I learned fast!)

3. Use salt when cooking, and add it WHILE your food is cooking, not AFTER it is done. This seems like common sense, but it is not common at all. Adding salt (or any seasoning for that matter) during the cooking process allows the flavors to marry and meld, increasing the intensity of flavor.


4. When baking a pie with crust: ALWAYS refrigerate the crust for at least 30 minutes (an hour is better) prior to filling and baking it. This will (1) prevent your crust from shrinking away from the pan and (2) help prevent a soggy bottom.


5. Pie fillings that are placed in a dough type crust should ALWAYS been room temperature or cold when they go into the shell. Otherwise, you will melt the butter or shortening in the dough, aid in making a soggy bottom and perhaps even make the filling greasy. Ick.


6. Mise en Place means "Everything in its place" and is one of the most important steps in cooking or baking anything. Round up all of your ingredients and organize them on your bench (counter) so that they are all in front of you when you need them. Liquids should be measured, veggies should be chopped and seasonings should be portioned prior to heating the pan. An organized chef is a successful chef.


7. Many people have asked me how you can grill a large piece of meat or fry chicken without burning it but getting it cooked properly. The secret, my friends is to finish your meat in the oven! Just because it's a grilled or fried meat does not mean you need to completely cook it using those methods. Begin the process traditionally and once you have good color on the outside of the meat or crust, transfer it to the oven! The results are perfectly cooked meat but no burn marks. And please, DON'T BOIL YOUR MEAT OR CHICKEN FIRST. Ick. Double Ick. Talk about taking all of the flavor out.

8. Want good color on your chicken or pork chops? Try dredging them in a light coating of flour prior to sauteing them off. (Season the meat first with salt and pepper) Drag the meat through the flour and shake off the excess. Put it presentation side down first and don't touch it until it's golden brown. The result is pretty and yummy without a "batter or crust" on the meat.


9. When whipping egg whites, be sure they are at least room temperature and the mixer and bowl is also room temperature. For even better results, whip them over a warm pan of water. Warm whites yield better formation.


10. When whipping cream however, place your bowl and mixer in the fridge prior to whipping and make sure the cream is COLD.


11. Mashed potatoes: Don't over mix them! Have you ever eaten mashed potatoes that could have been used as wallpaper paste? Chances are, the cook whipped them so much the starch in the potatoes got stronger. Be gentle with your potatoes! Mash them (or better yet, rice them) and add the cream and butter gingerly, just until combined. Then leave them alone!


12. If you like fresh ground pepper but don't have a pepper mill, try placing a handful of peppercorns on a cutting board and use a big metal spoon or small pan to crack them by using a rocking motion. This is how we were made to crack pepper in school. You have my permission to cheat though, by putting the peppery balls into a ziplock back first to prevent them from flying around.


13. Roasted garlic is a fantastic thing and them smell of it alone can make you drunk with food love. (Yeah, I said it) It is one of the easiest things to do! First, cut off the top of the bulb and place it on tin foil. Drizzle it with a tiny bit of olive oil. You can add salt & pepper if you want, but I usually don't because I like it au natural. Wrap it up and put it in a 350 degree oven for about 1 hour. Allow it to cool and squeeze out that garlicy goodness!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Randomivity

*Acting like a crazy person running in the pool can be very freeing.

*I'm glad my dad wasn't there.

*Yes, I really have a Ukulele, so what of it?

*Trying to learn to play the Uke when the instructions are for right handers is hard if you are left handed.

*26 hours is nothing if you get to see the smile on the face of a friend.

*Tiny Margaritas-it's an exclusive group, but we're willing to take nominations.

*Making progress with your new kitty is heartwarming and rewarding. (She sat on my lap!)
Zoe sees something
Zoe, catching a bug


*I think she's declawed. They told me she wasn't but her front paws seem very soft. (She won't let me touch them yet)

*Sometimes going without a tradition makes me antsy.

*Hearing that just because you mess up once in a while doesn't mean you aren't good at what you do what what I needed after 2 baking mishaps.

*September means a Red Sox game, cooler weather, leaves changing, sweatshirts, un-birthday's, meeting old friends and going on a business trip. It should be a stellar month.

Wordless Wednesday

Team Empress Bee


Click the button above to donate


I know that it's supposed to be Wordless Wednesday, but sometimes, you just need words...Empress Bee is a dear friend of mine and in October, I will be walking in the Making Strides for Breast Cancer fundraiser in her honor.

Originally, I set a goal of $500 but hit that within a few days, thanks to a bunch of wonderful bloggers, family and friends, and a bake sale I conducted at work. So...I've upped my goal to $1000. As Bee mentioned on her blog, we all easily get over 100 visitors a day, and if everyone donates $5-imagine how much money we could raise for this horrible disease...

If you have not already done so, please consider donating to my walk in honor of Ms. Bee. Every little bit helps and it would be greatly appreciated! (Just click the ribbon above-c'mon, you know you wanna)


And also, if you are as competitive as I am think about this: I am currently in second place for bringing in the most amount of money by 1 individual so far out of the whole Hartford walk...help me get to #1!!!! I've earned $700 with the off-line donations I've gotten so far...can I make it to $1k????

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Tiny Margaritas

***SCROLL DOWN FOR TOOSDAE ?'S***
I wasn't going to post this because I thought she'd kill me for showing a picture...but she posted one on her blog, so I'd say that makes it ok, right? Right...
There we are, the Tiny Margaritas, still smiling after 4 1/2 hours of conversation! Yes, I had the pleasure of meeting a fellow blogger and my friend Linda, from Are We There Yet? and I had a GREAT time.

Once we discovered that both of us lived in CT, we immediately began saying, "We have to get together". But with her work schedule and my school schedule we just could not find the time. Luckily, that changed! We met about half way in between at a little Mexican Restaurant that's been there for years.

I remembered the food being good, but sadly, that was before I knew what good food really was! Now, it wasn't horrible, but they did use ground beef for their tacos, my taco shell disintegrated and the re-fried beans could have been re-fried again.

And the margaritas? Tiny. (Hence the nickname that I've taken upon myself to call Linda and I)

Linda said in her post that I am one of the nicest people she's met in a long time. Well, to that I say thank you, of course, but also, it is easy to be so nice to someone who is...SO NICE!

Linda has said of herself that she has a "hard crusty shell" but I disagree. She's got smiling eyes and a kind heart, and anyone who looks at her can figure that out within a minute of talking to her.

I love me a sarcastic chick who can talk about politics, music and dispatchers along with love, family and food without skipping a beat. It was absolutely wonderful to meet in person-to see her hands and her mannerisms and to hear her laugh in person.

I love her so much, I feel comfortable saying, "Linda, you were a pain in my ass."

;)

Toosdae ?'s

Happy Toosdae everyone! Sorry for my lack of blogging this weekend, especially yesterday. I was baking from 10:30 am until about 8:30 pm for my bake sale at work. Also, I did cook for Top Chef but don't have the pictures ready yet. Hopefully later on today I'll be able to compile it. Take a minute to answer the questions below-you KNOW it makes me smile!

1. Pie a la mode-what kind of pie is it for you and where is the ice cream placed? (On top of the pie or on the plate next to it?)

2. If you were a four course meal, what would you be?
Soup:
Salad:
Entree:
Dessert:

3. Finish this sentence: Together they would ______.

1. Blueberry Pie with ice cream on top.

2. Soup: Lobster Bisque Salad: Watercress salad with Sherry Vinaigrette Entree: Individual Beef Wellington (made w/ blue cheese instead of fois gras) Dessert: Lemon Meringue Tart.

3. Together they would prove that love really is the answer.