Friday, November 30, 2012

god help us all..... dammit.

It's here. The moment I knew would come, the day I secretly dread, yet am never quite prepared for.....

God help us all. 

Take cover. Run for the hills. Save the children. Batten down the hatches. SAVE YOURSELVES! Because there's nothing quite like a sick man....

Jack is a mover. And a talker. And a social being. So the fact that he's been sleeping and sick with no energy for going on 5 days has not done much for his disposition.

This is what we've become:

Me: Can I get you anything? Soup? Crackers?

Jack: You know what sounds good? Some of that damn jello in the fridge...

Me: Ok. 1 damn jello or 2? And would you like some damn coke to go with your damn jello?

Jack: That sounds damn good! Thank you, dammit.

....and this is what we do.

What's wrong with him? Both ears are badly infected (a feat I didn't think possible for an adult! This sounds like the diagnosis for my 2 year old nephew, not a grown man). And since he still has his wisdom teeth, his throat & neck are just a giant mess of red, angry, badness. And everything hurts.... hot, cold, room temperature, soft, hard -- doesn't matter. It all hurts.

The only thing that has helped this:
1 cup hot water (hot hot)
1 T honey
1 T apple cider vinegar
1 T lemon juice

Mix and get it down his throat one way or another.
But make no mistake.... a sick man is a sneaky man. Do not walk away before you watch him finish it completely... I learned that one the hard way.

Feel better already. Dammit.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Last Thanksgiving, I don't quite remember how, but we ended up with 3 turkeys. I have no idea why. So our resident turkey frier fried 2 of them (it's way quicker), and we brined, then smoked the third. All were WONDERFUL -- and amazingly enough, there were very few leftovers.

So I started doing searches for what to do with turkey leftovers -- because the idea of piling some of everything you had for Thanksgiving on a sandwich kinda makes me wanna hurl a little bit -- and I came across this: "Coconut-Lime Turkey and Rice Soup" from Kalyn's Kitchen.

*Quick side-note, if you have never tried anything from Kalyn's Kitchen, you're missing out! It's mostly South Beach diet recipes, but all that means is low-sugar, low-carb -- and really, who couldn't use less sugar and carbs!? Some of our FAVORITE recipes have come from here, so check her out!

But as I was saying..... this soup sounded amazingly similar to our favorite soup on the planet, Thom Kha! Thom Kha makes EVERYTHING better! Whenever we're sick, sad, grumpy, or just cold -- this is our go-to soup.

So, I modified Kalyn's recipe a bit to make it a little more Thai....

I started by making stock with all the turkey bones. I use mostly the same ingredients for all the stock I make, so it's the same as the corn stock (recipe here), just minus the corn & add turkey bones (duh). The only thing you do differently with stock made from meat is after straining, stick it in the freezer for 30-60 minutes (or leave it in the fridge over night) so the fat settles on top & hardens, then scrape it off. Ew. Nasty.

This is after about 5 hours of cooking (pretty gross looking, but tastes yummy)

So start with 6 cups of turkey stock (fat removed), and add garlic, lime juice, ginger slices, brown sugar, soy sauce & red pepper flakes and simmer on medium for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, wash mushrooms and slice into bite-sized pieces, and chop or shred turkey.

After 20 minutes, scoop out the garlic & ginger and throw away.
Add mushrooms, let simmer for about 5 minutes.
Add coconut milk, turkey & cilantro. (after you add the coconut milk, you can't let it boil any longer or the milk might curdle, so be sure to keep the fire on low)
Taste at this point and add cayenne, salt, pepper and/or more red pepper flakes as needed.
When the mushrooms are almost cooked, add green onions.


Turkey Thom Kha

(Chicken can be substituted if you don't have turkey - it's yummy too!)

6 cups turkey stock
6 T fresh-squeezed lime juice10 thin slices ginger root*
6-8 medium garlic cloves, sliced
3 T soy sauce
3 T brown sugar
2 cans coconut milk
2-3 cups leftover diced or shreded turkey (if you dice it, make it pretty small)
3 large portabello mushroom caps, sliced into bite sized pieces
2-3 T chopped cilantro (more if you like, but I'm not a huge cilantro fan)
1 green onion, sliced
Red pepper flakes (to taste)
Cayenne (to taste) -- don't judge me. Yes, I put it in everything!

• Add 6 cups of turkey stock (fat removed) to large pot along with garlic, lime juice, ginger slices, brown sugar, soy sauce & red pepper flakes and simmer on medium-high for about 20 minutes.

• Meanwhile, wash mushrooms and slice into bite-sized pieces, and chop or shred turkey.

• After 20 minutes, scoop out the garlic & ginger and throw away.
 Add mushrooms, let simmer for about 5 minutes.
 Add coconut milk, turkey & cilantro. (after you add the coconut milk, you can't let it boil any longer or the milk might curdle, so be sure to keep the fire on low)
 Taste at this point and add cayenne, salt, pepper and/or more red pepper flakes as needed.
 When the mushrooms are almost cooked, add green onions.


*Side note -- ginger isn't cheap! And most recipes only call for small amounts, yet you have to buy the whole root. Stick it in a ziplock bag in the freezer and just cut off pieces when you need them. It'll keep indefinitely!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Don't worry Martha, your job is safe...

So in an attempt to help me with my "homemade Christmas" mission, my mom & I made peppermint marshmallows tonight...

It....errr.....didn't quite turn out like the picture. It tastes great, but looks like I slaughtered something.

Oh well, guess I'll just have to keep drinking hot chocolate until these are gone and I can try again.....
Who knew marshmallows were that complicated!? (btw -- no recipe until I figure out how to make it not look like THAT again)

Don't worry Martha Stewart, your job is totally safe for now.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

how to fix your towels...

So, I've told you how to clean your microwave for real, I've told you how NOT to clean your oven, but now I'm going to tell you the best cleaning tip I've found on Pinterest so far....


Let's start out by saying this......Jack and I view certain things differently. He's a man. Men do things like..... never change out their shower towel. Ever. If I went out of town for a month, I would come home and find the same towel hanging on the shower bar (if it hadn't gotten up and walked away already).

Men also do things like.... clean up spilled beer on the dirty floor with a good bathroom towel that you will in the future use to dry your face. We have what we call "dog towels" for this. Lots of dog towels. And though they're used for everything from drying wet dogs, to wiping up spills, to wiping your feet when coming in the house, they ALWAYS smell somewhat like dog. Ew.

The dog towels, the kitchen dish towels, and the shower towels all end up having their own smell, and it's not always a good one. And then I found this on Pinterest: "How to Remove Mildew Smell from Towels" (which really should read "How to make your towels no longer smell like dog, beer, mildew, or just general skankyness"). Best. Tip. Ever.
My washer & dryer. They're red - that makes me happy.
And it's so simple.... Just throw the skanky offending towels in the washing machine with 2 cups of white vinegar (no detergent), and run on the HOTTEST water setting you have. (This makes me so thankful we have the "sanitary" setting on our washer.) When that's done, run the same towels through another cycle, this time with detergent (also on the hottest water setting). Then dry as usual.


Even if you think your towels smell fine, do this immediately!
Then thank me...
You're welcome.

Monday, November 19, 2012

take stock!

Now that fall is FINALLY here and it's getting colder (and wonderful), we've started craving soups, and crock pot goodness. There is just nothing like sitting in front of a fire on a cold night with some home made soup. With that said, when you make soup, if you're not using your own stock, you're doing it wrong. End of story.

I made soup for years with boxed broth or stock, and once I started making my own, I will never go back, and you won't either. Trust me on this.

We started last Thanksgiving with our leftover turkey bones. Then we slowly started saving chicken bones (we're big fans of grocery store rotisserie chickens on nights where there's just not enough time to cook). We save the fat scraps we trim off chicken before cooking it, beef trimmings & finally corn cobs when we have leftover corn. We keep them all in separately labeled bags in the freezer until we've collected enough of any one kind to make stock.

This week, in honor of my trying-to-eat-less-meat sister who said "Corn stock? That's a thing?", I made some corn & veggie stock.

We always have a big party every year for Jack's birthday, and this year, we had lots and lots of leftover corn. Corn for days. We were the Bubba Gumps of corn. We grilled it, steamed it, put it in salads, soups, creamed it....we ate A LOT of corn. But we scraped it all off the cobs and had all these great cobs just waiting to be stock! I froze them in ziplock baggies, just like the rest, and this weekend, they became STOCK YUMMINESS!

So I started with about 10 corn cobs (corn scraped off), 2 bay leaves & the biggest pot I had full of water.

Then I added all this goodness! Making stock is a great time to clean out the fridge. I use carrots & celery that are looking a little sketchy. Garlic that's sprouted. Whatever really.... In this batch I threw in a sweet onion, 2 carrots, 2 celery stalks, some fresh sage, thyme & oregano from the garden and one of the last of our cayennes.

This is it! Season with some salt & pepper, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and wait...... and wait........

This is it after about 3 hours. The only rule I have with stock, is that you keep adding water to it for the first few hours, but after that, you just let it reduce so it doesn't taste watery. So since I let this stock go for about 5 hours total, I stopped adding water after hour 3 and let it simmer down.

Finally, strain all the yummy goodness into a big bowl and let it cool off....

Package it, label it, and freeze it until the next soup calls for it (I use it in place of veggie or chicken stock). Typically, the darker the stock, the better! Means it's full of awesome. If it's too pale, let it cook longer next time.

And there you have it....corn stock.
It is a thing.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

cast iron love... & hate.

Originally, I'm from New Orleans. New Orleans is a wonderful city with so much culture, but ever since leaving, I've become painfully aware that though it's geographically pretty damn southern, in a lot of respects, it's not so southern at all.

Living in Atlanta for so many years, I've been trying to catch on to some of the wonderful southern traditions (I'm a big fan of tradition!). Jack's family has been in Georgia forever, and he tells me of grandmothers on both sides frying chicken, baking biscuits, cooking bacon.... and ALL of it involves cast iron.....and gravy. (groan)

Cast iron has always intimidated me. It's big. It's heavy. It's NOT DISHWASHER SAFE!

But we are lucky enough to have a friend that was looking for a home for her abundance of cast iron, so she gave us a variety of sizes and shapes all in different conditions. Some were beautifully seasoned and black and smooth, some were more like.... well.... this.

nightmare cast iron
So as most of you know, I have recently discovered that I'm not as bread impaired as I assumed. I found a recipe for wonderful fresh baked bread that even I can pull off. But I went digging through our collection to try to find a pot that would fit a half-recipe for this bread, and came across this guy. The wooden handle screwed right off (I was worried about it burning in the oven on such a high temperature), and left me with this rusty nightmare to deal with.

It's not difficult to season cast iron, it's just time consuming and takes a little work. I started with a brillo pad and scrubbed the hell out of it with some seriously hot water. I tried to smooth down any rough spots, and get as much rust off of it as possible.

Yep, that's a salsa jar of bacon grease. Not exactly what Paul Newman had in mind when I bought his salsa, I'm  sure.
Make sure it's throughly dry by putting it on the stove on low for a few minutes, then coat the whole thing with bacon grease. It's pretty nasty, I know. I've tried vegetable oil too, which can work fine, I just think the bacon grease works a tiny bit better (and doesn't run as much). 

Be sure to bake it upside down so that the grease/oil doesn't pool in the bottom (but put an old pan, or aluminum foil under it to catch any drips).

Fair warning.... this looks pretty, but smells AWFUL! WHEW!
Put the cast iron into a cold oven. Turn it to 350, and let it bake for at least an hour. Then turn the oven off and leave the cast iron in there while it cools. Overnight is a perfect time to do this.

Oooooooh..... purty!
It'll probably be a little sticky at this point, but you can't scrub it anymore. Those days are gone. 

There are a few schools of thought about daily cleaning of cast iron:
  • Some use a sponge with a little dishwashing soap. This is not the traditional way, and it's hard to build up the layer of seasoning when you're washing it away every time, but it's hard to clean cooking utensils without soap and still call it clean.
  • Some say that just wiping it out with a paper towel is enough. Well, my personal opinion is good for you if your cast iron is sooooo well-seasoned that this is an option! However, I'm still learning, and trust me, I've made some messes that were NOT wipe-out-able!
  • I prefer to use a sponge with super hot water and coarse salt (we keep 1 sponge for soap and 1 sponge for salt at our sink). Wet the pan good with the hot water, then pour in some salt and use that in conjunction with the sponge as a scrub and rinse well. 

When you're done, always ALWAYS put the pan on the stove on low heat for a few minutes to make sure it's dry, and then re-coat with grease/oil. 

This is the pot after 1 more round in the oven. It looks a tiny bit darker, but you really can't tell with the Instagram filter. :) hee hee hee. But you might have to do it a few times to really get a good coat.

I, however, am lacking in patience and I wanted bread. So after 2 rounds in the oven, I caved and used it. Patience is not my strong suit.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

my new favorite thing...

I have a confession to make.... I'm Greek.... and I hate olives.
No black ones, or green, or stuffed, or pickled, or on pizza, or in a salad, or on my sandwich, or baked in bread -- NEVER! No olives. None.


I know, I know. I get teased mercilessly on a regular basis. I've tried them all, and it's just not going to happen. Olives are evil, end of story.

My second (yet equally shameful) secret was that.... I'm from New Orleans, and I HATE spicy foods....

I don't know what happened, but in the past year, my use of cayenne in everything I cook has been on a serious rise. I don't know why, and I certainly can't explain it.... but I cannot get enough spicy foods! I crave them now. Very strange....

So this lead me to choose Skinny Taste's Spicy Black Bean Burgers as part of this week's menu (I made them yesterday, but froze them and haven't actually tried them yet, so that post is still to come). According to the recipe, the burgers are served with sliced avocado (SOLD!) and chipotle mayo. So in my attempt to prep for the week, I went ahead and made the chipotle mayo yesterday so I'd have 1 less thing to do the night we make the burgers.


Now, I know there are many of you out there who are mayo-phobic. Jack is one of these. You CANNOT tell him when mayo is in something, even though there are plenty of things he loves that contain mayo. To all of you who suffer from this affliction I say... GET OVER IT! When you add things to it, it changes! Just call it "aioli" and move on. This stuff is smoky and spicy and wonderful!

So I made a big batch of it and put it on sandwiches for lunch 2 days running now.

Chipotle Yum!

Roast beef & Provolone slider with Chipotle Aioli..... yes please! :)

No more boring sandwiches here!


3 Tbsp Mayo (I like Dukes, or Dukes light)
1/2 Tbsp Chipotle in adobo sauce

This is a rough estimate.... if you like it spicier, add more chipotle. If you prefer it less spicy, don't add as much. It's really a personal preference....and not really a recipe at all. :)


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Don't mess with the PINS!

I love Pinterest. We all know this....

But one of my biggest pet peeves is when an pin's caption claims it's something it's not. I guess I really should click through before repinning anything....but really, who has time for that?!

So the other day while I was looking for recipe ideas for the week, I came across 2 yummy crock-pot, comfort food, awesome-sounding recipes with pictures that were both drool-inducing.

This was Picture# 1:
Creamy Chicken and Noodles! Yum!!
This recipe was from a site called Going Jane (you can find the full recipe here).

This was Picture #2:

"Italian Chicken" (well, theoretically)
So both sound awesome! And similar and easy....right up my alley.

So I finally decide on the Italian chicken. I buy the ingredients listed in the Pin caption, get up this morning, click to the recipe to start cooking, and find this. "White Cheddar Chicken & Pasta". Well hell. That sounds AMAZING, but I don't have the ingredients, nor is it a crock pot recipe and I've got stuff to do today!!!

So why am I bitching and moaning about this? Because this is one of my biggest pet peeves....

It's just rude.
And more importantly, it screws up slackers like me who don't click through every single pin.

Anyway, enough bitching....I still had to do something for dinner, so I sorta kinda combined the 2 recipes and came up with the following:


1lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts (uncooked)
8oz. cream cheese (room temp. is easier)
1 packet Italian dressing seasoning
2 cans cream of chicken soup (I use the Campbells Healthy Request for the slightly less calories)
4 cups chicken stock (i ran out of chicken stock, so i actually used corn stock I had in the freezer)
8 oz egg noodles (uncooked)

It was so simple....combine all the ingredients except for the chicken & noodles. Either whisk or mix with a fork to try to combine everything as much as possible.

Add chicken (washed) and set crock pot to low for 8 hours.

After 7 hours (or longer if you're not ready to eat), take the chicken out and shred it and return it to the pot. I also used this time to taste it and add a little bit more seasoning -- a threw in a little pepper, garlic powder, cayenne (because I add cayenne to EVERYTHING now), basil & oregano.

Add the noodles and let cook for about 20 minutes or until done (don't let them go too long or they'll get mushy).

When it was done, I poured it into a casserole dish to try to keep the noodles from cooking any more and getting all mush.

Ok, so it's kind of a sucky picture, but it was cold-night comfort food yummy - and most importantly, it was EASY! Trust me on this one..... :)
Next time, when I have more time, I'm totally making that "White Cheddar Chicken & Pasta" because that sounded AWESOME too! :)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

best. gift. ever....

So, its been an incredibly long time since I've posted. I'm a slackass. I'm aware.

But today I spent my well-deserved breaks between cleaning and loads of laundry and dishes and cooking on Pinterest and I realized how much I've done and haven't posted about.

What can I say... guess I have some catching up to do.

Oh, and since last time, a friend gave me this dishtowel.....

As far as I'm of the best. gifts. ever. 

This is me most days.
He knows me so well! :)