Slightly Cheaper Than Therapy

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Seriously? June 10, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — slightlycheaperthantherapy @ 4:01 pm

Umm…yeah.  I just now realized that all of my pictures are wonky.  Apparently Shutterfly (boo! hiss!) isn’t too keen on letting you link your pictures.  So until I can get all my photos transferred and relinked, we’re just going to have to make friends with the fuzziness.  I mean the recipes are what you really want, right?  Right?  (I know.  I miss the drool-inducing images too.) 

But I am on the case!  Hopefully I’ll have the most recent entries fixed by the end of the week. 

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I can’t talk. May 15, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — slightlycheaperthantherapy @ 3:38 pm

Well…not literally.  My voice is fine.  But apparently I can’t string together coherent sentences these days.  I’ve been writing weird stuff like “for safe measure” when I should say “for good measure”, or “he’s an obama support” instead of “supporter”.  The modifiers are being mixed all OVER the place and, in general, I sound a bit dumb.  So as a white girl who appreciates good grammar and proper sentence structure, I reserve the right to skip the witty story this time and get right to the good stuff.

The Hubby oohed and aahhed over these two Giada recipes like no one’s business.  But it’s Giada, so honestly I wasn’t that surprised.  But what did surprise me is how much I, the woman who balks at plain jane chicken breast, enjoyed the roasted chicken.  It was fantastic as is, and I imagine it would great chopped up and thrown on a salad.  Maybe even the Fish Daddies Salad.

Roasted Chicken with Balsamic Vinaigrette
Giada de Laurentiis

1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
1/4 c. dijon mustard
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 c. olive oil
Chicken, cut into 6 pieces (I’m not fond of chopping up carcasses, so I used 4 large and in charge chicken breasts)
1T chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp. grated lemon zest

In a 13x9x2″ baking dish whisk the vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper to blend.  Whisk in the oil.  Add the chicken pieces and turn to coat.  Cover and refrigerate, turning the chicken pieces occasionally, for at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.

Preheat the oven to 400F.  Roast the chicken uncovered until just cooked through, about 45 minutes.  Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a serving platter.  Carefully pour the cooking liquid into a small, heavy saucepan and spoon off the excess oil from atop the cooking liquid.  Boil until the liquid reduces by about half and thickens slightly, about 8 minutes.

Pour the sauce over the chicken.  Sprinkle the parsley and lemon zest over the chicken and serve. 

If the chicken gets too dark too quickly, cover it with foil, taking the foil off for the last 10 minutes of roasting.

 

Sandwich A la “a wonderful, magical animal” May 6, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — slightlycheaperthantherapy @ 4:19 pm

WARNING:  The following post may cause severe artery blockage.  Read (and then cook) at your own risk!

When I was a wee one, I used to spend the night with my Mammaw about 2 or 3 times a month.  And every morning that I woke up in her house I was treated to all kinds of yummy breakfast fixins’.  (That’s country talk for “all the trimmings”) I was always amazed at how she would pull out all the stops–biscuits, gravy, eggs, sausage, bacon, jelly, jam, toast–for little ol’ me.  Sometimes Papa would join us if he wasn’t working out in the garden or helping one of the farmers bale hay.  But mostly it was just us two gorging ourselves on a greasy country breakfast.  And while I really loved my Mammaw’s biscuits with brown gravy (the ONLY brown gravy, IMO, that’s worth eating) and eggs, my absolute favorite thing to have for breakfast was rather simple:  The Bacon Sandwich (yes, I know you’re all shocked.  Try to not to gape too much).  It consisted of fresh white bread, crispy bacon and a gallon of Miracle Whip.  Top it off with a glass of chocolate milk and it is pure heaven.

Fast forward 20 some-odd years to when The Hubby and I started dating.   We were talking about the holidays and traditions and such and I told him that on Christmas morning we almost always had Bacon Sandwiches for breakfast.  It was easy to make, so that meant we got to the presents faster.  His eyes were practically incandescent.  He then proceeded to tell me how is last serious girlfriend had ridiculed him for “eating like a 12 year old,” which included his beloved Bacon Sandwich.  For the entire length of their relationship, he hadn’t been able to eat one in front of her without catching some flack.  But now he had a woman who cherished the same fatty breakfast.  I think, if I had to pinpoint an exact moment, that was when The Hubby fell in serious moony-eyed luuurve with me.  Aaahh, the powers of The Pig.

Now…I didn’t tell you all that to bring you a recipe for my favorite breakfast sandwich.  That would be kinda silly.  But what I do have is a dinner-time twist on this classic.  It’s not an improvement, mind you, because The Bacon Sandwich is perfection in and of itself.  But…should you want something a little more…nutritious…or substantial, maybe, this sandwich I concocted fits the bill.  It was inspired by recipes that my lovely Nesties Jennifer and Tiffany gave me.  I had made Tiffany’s salmon recipe for dinner, but it seemed to need a little something to spice it up.  Then I remembered the salmon BLT recipe from Jennifer, and I thought, “Bacon!  That’s what this needs!”  So for lunch the next day I threw together the Bacon Pesto Salmon Sandwich.  In the words of The Pioneer Woman, I think I died a thousand deaths after taking that first bite.

Bacon Pesto Salmon Sandwich

1 T of pesto (recipe below)
1 T of mayonnaise (the real stuff, not Miracle Whip)
1/4 c. of pecan breadcrumbs (I had a pecan breadcrum mixture from Central Market on hand, so I used that.  If you don’t have access to a CM, just toast some finely chopped pecan pieces and throw them in with some plain breadcrums.)
3T of parmesan cheese
2 4-6 oz. salmon filets
4-6 slices of bacon
4 slices of whole grain bread
2 T of mayonnaise
2 slices of swiss cheese (I had some super yummy Kerrygold Dubliner Cheese which is similar to swiss, but a bit nuttier and maybe a bit sweeter.  Definitely check it out if you can get your hands on some.)
Lettuce
Tomato (I didn’t use either of these because I really didn’t think it needed it.  But some of you might like this addition.)

Fry or microwave the bacon and set aside.  Mix pesto and mayo in a small bowl and set aside.  If you like a lot of sauce (like The Hubby), use 2 tablespoons of each.  Mix breadcrumbs and parm in another bowl and set aside.  Cook salmon under the broiler until it’s about 3/4 of the way done.  Remove from the oven and spread the mayo pesto mixture on top of each filet.  Then sprinkle with breadcrumb mixture.  Put fish back in oven and broil until lightly brown.  This will not take long, so watch it closely. 

(This is what it will look like if you decide you want to have Tiffany’s original pesto salmon recipe.)

Toast the slices of bread, and while they’re toasting top the salmon filets with cheese and put them in a hot oven (NOT broiler) to melt the cheese.  Spread remaining tablespoons of mayo on the bread and add salmon and bacon.  DELICIOUS!

Pesto
From Epicurious.com

3 large garlic cloves
1/2 cup pine nuts
2 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano, coarsely grated (2/3 cup)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 cups loosely packed fresh basil
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

With food processor running, drop in garlic and finely chop. Stop motor and add nuts, cheese, salt, pepper, and basil, then process until finely chopped. With motor running, add oil, blending until incorporated.

 

Veggie Heaven April 29, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — slightlycheaperthantherapy @ 9:15 pm

During my junior year of college school I went through this psychotic phase where I actually craved vegetables.  I’m not sure how I ended up with such virtuous cravings, but I suspect it had something to do with me wanting to keep my svelt, post-wisdom teeth extraction, post-co-dependent relationship depression (yes, I was dumped the weekend after painful dental surgery) figure.  Regardless, somehow I ended up with a love of veggies.  I remember walking too and from class thinking, “man…I wish I had some asparagus.  Oh! Oh! Or maybe some broccoli…yeah…that’s what I want.”  See.  I told you I was nuts. 

As is wont to happen with all positive “vices, ” somewhere along the way my veggie cravings were derailed.  Most probably by a hot bowl of queso and a margarita.  Or three.  However, if I had the inclination to reignite my passionate love of veggies this dish just might do the trick.  It’s a Jamie Oliver recipe that The Pioneer Woman tweaked, and Y’ALL it is fantastic.  I took it to a book club meeting and everyone oohed and ahhed over it like it was a hot bowl of queso and a margarita.  Well…almost.  But seriously, truly, if your “diet” needs a kick in the pants, this dish will get you happily back on the straight and narrow. 

 Asian Noodle Salad
adapted from Jamie Oliver


SALAD INGREDIENTS:
1 package linguine noodles, cooked, rinsed, and cooled (I used 1 lb.)
1/2 to 1 head sliced Napa cabbage
1/2 to 1 head sliced purple cabbage
1/2 to 1 bag baby spinach
1 orange bell pepper, sliced thin
1 small bag bean sprouts
3 sliced scallions
LOTS of chopped cilantro-up to one bunch
1 can whole cashews, lightly toasted in skillet (I didn’t have any cashews, but I will definitely add them next time)
(Use whatever veggies you like, too. I don’t think you can add too many to this dish.)

DRESSING:
Juice of 1 large lime
8 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sesame oil
6 tablespoons soy sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons fresh ginger, chopped
2 cloves chopped garlic
2 hot peppers or jalapenos, chopped ( I used 1 seeded serrano pepper)
More chopped cilantro-LOTS

Toss salad ingredients. Whisk together dressing ingredients and pour over salad. Mix with tongs or hands and serve on platter.  Dressing keeps up to three days before serving, WITHOUT cilantro.

*I ate the book club leftovers the next day for lunch and the salad was still super yummy.  Not a slimy vegetable in sight!

**A coworker of mine added some grilled shrimp to make it more of a main dish salad and got rave reviews. 

 

Saturday Nights, Sunday Mornings April 11, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — slightlycheaperthantherapy @ 8:59 pm

About two and a half weeks ago, when I was almost out of my anti-writing funk, I had planned out the most clever foodie post ever.  See it was going to marry my two loves–food and music, and…and!! the timing was going to be perfect.  I was going to post it the day the new Counting Crows album hit the shelves.  But then…the funk held on for a bit longer and I just kept putting it off.  I’d almost given up on it until I popped in the new disc this morning and I remembered why I was so stoked about this blog idea in the first place. 

See, the thing is, I love Counting Crows.  I can say without an ounce of exaggeration that there isn’t one thing on this planet (aside from The Hubby) that makes me happier than their music.  It is my solace and my kick in the ass.  My inspiration and co-conspirator in melancholy.  It satiates me while still keeping me searching for more.  

Since I’ve all but abandoned my personal blog, I had to figure out a way to talk about the highlight of my spring here, and the title of the disc, Saturday Nights, Sunday Mornings, provided me with the idea.  If you’re ever in Austin (on say a Saturday night…) you must visit Trudy’s for a Mexican Martini.  It’s really more of a margarita with some martini-esq ingredients, but no matter.  They are mind-blowing (in more ways that one, which is why you’re only allowed 2 per visit).  Since you all obviously can’t get here at once to enjoy a Trudy’s rita-tini (though our traffic gurus would argue a good amount of you are trying), I’ll give you my second favorite rita ever:  the Chili’s Presidente Margarita.  These (which can be found all over the place) were a staple in our Saturday night party circuit during college, and lucky me got her little ol’ hands on the recipe.  There’s no limit on these puppies so drink up! :o)  But do be responsible enough to pass the keys to a DD before the night’s end because you’ll need the help home. 

Then, on Sunday morning (or mid-afternoon) when you wake up wishing to god you’d never even heard of Jose Quervo, get yourself a big fat breakfast taco. Like queso they’re an institution in Austin, so you can order them at damn near any restaurant in town.  But the best part about BTs is their incredibly medicinal, anti-hangover properties.  Grease and bread in handy to-go packaging.  It flat out cannot be beat.  Anyway, my favorite version is the migas breakfast taco.  It’s super simple to make, even when you’re feeling lousy.  And they are so, so good, even folks outside your house will come over looking to see what in the heck smells so good.  See:

So there you have it.  My foodie tribute to Saturday Nights, Sunday Mornings.  Now go buy the disc, drinks some margaritas while giving it a spin and then wolf down some breakfast tacos the next morning.  It will be a perfect weekend.  Promise :o)

Presidente Margaritas

1-1.5 oz. of Sauza Commemerativo Tequila (I’m a pansy these days so I just use 1 oz.)
1/2 oz. of Cointreau
1/2 oz. of Presidente Brandy
3 oz. of sweet & sour mix
A splash of Rose’s lime juice

Combine in a shaker, add ice and shake well.  Serve in a salted glass.

Migas Tacos

2 tablespoons of butter (the real stuff guys.  please, no margarine!!)
1/4 of a sweet white onion, finely chopped
1 small tomato, coarsely chopped
1 – 2 seeded jalapenos (again…pansy that I am, I go with just 1)
3 large eggs
crushed tortilla chips (add as many or as little as you like.  I like lots. )
1/4 c. mexican blend shredded cheese
3 taco-sized flour tortillas, heated

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat.  Add onions and sautee until translucent.  Do NOT carmelize.  Add tomatoes, jalapeno and crushed tortilla chips and sautee a bit longer until slightly soft.  Becareful not to burn the chips.  (If you’re worried about the onions cooking too much, add the tomatoes and jalapeno when the onions are about halfway cooked.)  Mix in the eggs and cook till softly scrambled.  Remove from heat and stir in cheese until it’s completely melted.  Divide egg mixture into thirds and top tortillas.  Roll up and serve with queso (yes, more cheese!) and salsa.  If you’re into Hair of the Dog, a bloody mary would go well with this, too.

 

I’m back!! April 2, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — slightlycheaperthantherapy @ 4:15 pm

 

Has it really been almost a whole month since my last post?  Oh man am I embarrassed.  I’ve been telling myself for, well, I guess almost 4 weeks, “Oh it hasn’t been that long…a week, maybe two at most, since I last posted.”  Geez.

 The thing is, and you can probably tell by how a tend to drone on and on about something, I really like to write.  I even went to a smarty pants conference at the University of Nebraska one summer to make me a better writer.  But sometimes I just don’t want to do it.  Something in me crosses its arms, stamps its foot and says, “Nope.  Not gonna do it.”  And I don’t.  Till I start to feel like something’s missing and then I remember, “oh yeah…I haven’t written in awhile.  I should really get back to that…” 

So here I am after an abrupt writing hiatus and I hope that I haven’t lost all 5 readers that I’d worked so hard to earn.  If 2 of you are left I’ll be tickled.  :o)  And to make amends I’m bringing you a delicious and (!!) easy recipe.  This one comes from the grand chefs at Bon Appetit. (Yes, I promise it’s easy.  I wouldn’t lie to you!)  The Hubby is on the fence about this one, but I dig it.  I was really, really, really hoping that it would turn out something like Chipotle’s carnitas, but sadly it didn’t reach those mythical heights.  But!! It’s a darn good second.  Especially with some cheese and avocado.  Oh and some salsa that I have good reason to believe is the EXACT recipe from a well known restaurant.  I think it’s called Billy’s…or Silly’s….or maybe it’s really Dilly’s…something like that.

Slow-Cooked Carnitas Tacos

2 lbs. of boneless country-style pork ribs or pork shoulder (All I could get my hands on was bone-in shoulder, so I went with 2.75 lbs.) cut into 1.5″ pieces*
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground black pepper
2 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
1/2 large onion, cut into 4 pieces
1 avocado, halved, pitted, sliced
fresh cilantro sprigs
Corn tortillas**

Toss pork in the bowl of a slow cooker with salt, black pepper, and dried oregano to coat.  Place onion pieces atop pork.  Cover slow cooker and cook pork on low setting until meat is very tender and falling apart.  About 6 hours.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer pork to cutting board.  Discard onion pieces.  Using fingers, shred pork.  Transfer carnitas to a platter and place avocado slices, cilantro and any other veggies alongside it.  Serve with tortillas.

*Okay so I totally missed the “cut into 1.5″ pieces” direction until about 5 seconds ago when I typed up the recipe.  I just threw the whole piece of meat in and let it do its thing.  Maybe cutting it up would help it reach the greatness of the Chipotle carnitas. 

**I like flour tortillas, so I used those. 

Billy’s/Dilly’s/Silly’s Salsa


(What can I say?  Red soup doesn’t photograph well with my point-n-click.) 

1 can of Rotel
1 14.5-oz. can of peeled whole tomatoes, plus the juice
1/4 c. diced onion
3/4 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. sugar

Dump all the ingredients into your food processor and blend until it reaches the consistency you like.  For The Hubby, that would be one step above soup.  Chill and serve.

 

From the archives March 9, 2008

Filed under: Seafood — slightlycheaperthantherapy @ 4:51 am

 

Right after I graduated college, I worked for a law firm where I was one of the youngest employees by far.  Most of the time I half-way listened to the lunch room conversation while I flipped through magazines or read a book.  But one day they were discussing the new (at the time) movie Super Size Me.  Intrigued by the concept of the film, I decided to join in.  Now, I don’t remember anything that I said, but I do remember quite clearly what one of my co-irkers said:  “Every day in high school I ate McDonald’s for breakfast and sometimes lunch, too, and look at me.  I’m fine.”   No one had much of a comeback to this because from the looks of it she was, with the exception of about 20 extra pounds.  And none of us were super models so we kept that obvious fact to ourselves.  But, I kid you not, no less than 7 days later Ms. Fast Food Is Fine had to have an emergency surgery to remove her gallbladder.  Call it coincidence if you will, but I think sometimes the gods can’t resist an opportunity to make you eat your words. 

And recently I got to feast on my own annoying statements.  Until around the first of the year, I was one of those annoying people who used to unabashedly boast, “Oh I never get sick!”  Then I was hit with two nasty colds/viruses–one right before new years and one last week.  For awhile I’ve been pretending that parading around my good health didn’t jinx me.  Instead I blamed my illnesses on kids, contaminated airplane air, being run down from too much travel, pushing myself by exercising while on vacation (the thanks I get for trying to stay healthy!  see if I do that again…), etc.  Now I know it was Karma smiting me as she sometimes does when I get too high and mighty.  Kinda like Ms. Fast Food is Fine.

So…that’s a really long way of explaining why I haven’t been cooking (or posting) much lately.  But I do have a delightful fish recipe that I’ve been meaning to share for some time.  It’s super simple, very tasty and (as it hails from the terrific cooks at Cooking Light), it’s quite good for you too.  Just be sure to use smoked paprika, because it really does make the dish.  My local gourmet market (Central Market) has a fantastic bulk spice section where I can buy as much or as little of a spice as I want.  And recipes like this one are what make CM invaluable to me.  Because really, what would I do with a full ounce of smoked paprika?   Anyway, search out a similar place in your neck of the woods, get some smoky paprika and give this dish a try.

P.S.–I did make the polenta too, but because I wasn’t paying attention it got all lumpy.  And if there’s anything that doesn’t photograph well it’s lumpy polenta.  But it sure tasted good.  A great accompaniment to the smoky fish.

Grilled Tilapia with Smoked Paprika & Parmesan Polenta

 

Polenta:
4 cups fat-free milk
1 cup quick-cooking polenta
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (1 1/2 ounces) grated Parmesan cheese

Fish:
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 (6-ounce) tilapia fillets
Cooking spray
Preparation
To prepare polenta, bring milk to a boil in a medium saucepan; gradually add polenta, stirring constantly with a whisk. Reduce heat, and cook 5 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly; stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt. Remove from heat. Stir in cheese; cover and keep warm.
To prepare the fish, heat a large nonstick grill pan over medium-high heat. Combine oil, paprika, garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper in a bowl, stirring well. Rub fish evenly with oil mixture. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add fish to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness.