I was a bit tired and in a rather foul mood when I wrote yesterday’s blog – I’m still in a foul mood (when am I not?), but I’m feeling slightly better about life today. Having a glass of vino and preparing to make the chicken piccata that I intended to make yesterday…
If you’ve never seen the clip from ‘Beavis and Butthead Do America’ where Beavis goes insane on an airplane and screams “piccata for my bung-hole,” please do both of us a favor and go watch it now.
I felt ugly all day today in my button up shirt and slacks (typical) so I came home and put on the tightest black dress I own and proceeded to pour a glass of wine for some inspiration before I commence on the meal I’m about to make. I don’t feel like myself when I’m at work wearing a shirt buttoned up to my thyroid.
Anyhow, here is the recipe for my shrimp risotto… I recommend making this dish if you really want to blow someone’s taste buds. My boyfriend is from Venice and said it’s the best risotto he’s ever had – better than any restaurant. That’s like the best compliment someone could give me other than telling me they like my writing or art work.
1 lb. of raw shrimp (frozen or fresh – as long as they haven’t been cooked yet!)
1 box (32 oz.) of seafood stock
2 cups of uncooked Arborio rice
1 1/2 cup of white wine (any will do as long as it’s not too sweet)
5 cloves of garlic, finely minced
a few sprigs of fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup half and half (light cream)
4 Tbs. butter
3 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 tsp of ground nutmeg
1 tsp of granulated onion or onion powder
1 bay leaf (dried or fresh)
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
fresh parsley to garnish
If the shrimp are frozen, thaw them under warm, running water in a strainer
Whether or not shrimp are fresh or frozen, peel them and then cut them into halves or thirds depending on size, and set aside in a bowl
In a large wok or deep saucepan, heat the olive oil over low heat and add in the minced garlic
Cook garlic over very low heat (being careful not to burn it) for about 1-2 minutes
Add in the rice (yes – the secret to good risotto is slightly cooking the dry rice in the olive oil for a couple of minutes without liquid… I don’t know why, but it adds a depth of flavor)
Continue to stir and cook the rice over a low heat until it’s completely covered in the oil and begins to become ever-so-translucent in color
Raise the heat to medium and add in the white wine (I like to turn up the heat of the burner before adding the wine so that it makes that nice ‘SSSSSsssssss!!!’ sound when it his the hot pan)
Risotto is a dish that has to be stirred pretty much continuously – you can’t really step away from more than 30 seconds, so START STIRRING BIOTCH… and don’t stop!
As the liquid is absorbed by the rice, add in roughly 1 cup of seafood stock at a time, and keep gently stirring until it’s been absorbed
After you’ve added the first cup of seafood and the rice is moist, add in the bay leaf, chopped thyme, and other seasonings (onion powder, basil, oregano, nutmeg, salt and pepper)
Keep adding cup after cup of stock, until you’ve used up the entire contents of the box of stock… by this point, rice should be pretty tender, but neither dry nor too saturated in liquid
Add in the half and half (or cream) and continue to stir
Stir in the grated Parmesan cheese
Add in the raw shrimp and gently stir
Continue cooking over low heat, until shrimp turn orange (this means they’re cooked through!)
Add in the butter and turn off the heat… stir until butter is melted and incorporated thoroughly
Add more salt/pepper to desired taste (if necessary)
Remove the bay leaf, and serve on a plate – garnish with fresh parsley and voila!
OK – I’m going to make chicken PICCATA PICCATA! now (hopefully you’ve watched the Beavis clip so you get it). Chicken piccata will be in my next post …. hopefully it doesn’t take me two weeks to write :p
If you’re looking to cook and/or eat the ultimate comfort food, you’ve come to the right place. I don’t know what I would even call this dish – I guess it’s along the lines of a ‘white’ lasagna, but also kind of like a high-end casserole. It combines potatoes (scalloped potatoes, to be specific), 3 different kinds of cheese (goat, mozzarella, and Parmesan), a rich, bechamel sauce, lasagna noodles, zucchini, and prosciutto… how can you possibly go wrong with that combo of ingredients???
I was feeling inspired to make something decadent, and considering that I follow more food blogs than I do people on Instagram (I also follow more animals than I do people, since I hate most people, but that’s a topic for another day), I found plenty of ideas. Most of the food blogs I follow are Italian food blogs, based in and/or around Naples, Rome, Sicily, Puglia, etc.. I also follow a number of what I refer to as ‘gluttony blogs’ (think “pizza stuffed with fried mozzarella, topped with french fries” or like, ‘fried chicken, on top of burger, sandwiched between two soft pretzels, and dripping in cheese’ – I’m sick… I know). Anyhow, I was inspired by the fact that so many of the Italian dishes I see on my IG feed seem to combine potatoes with pasta, or multiple starches and/or carbs in the same dish, which isn’t something I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself.
I don’t think most of these dishes are “traditional Italian” cuisine, per se (although ‘pasta e patate’ is), but DAMN… do they always look enticing when I’m hungry and scrolling down! I’ve seen pizza topped with potatoes, pasta with potatoes, and more pizzas with white sauce than those with typical red sauce. Being the fat bastard I am, and a lover of all of the ingredients I ended up using in this dish on their own, I decided to combine all of them into this masterpiece. I’ll get to the recipe in a bit….
One of life’s greatest quandaries seems to be why the grass always greener on the other side. Lately, my work schedule has been the opposite of my boyfriend’s and half of my friends (since many also work in the hospitality industry). It’s been so awful, that it makes me miss working retail … working retail AT Hollister, if you can believe it. I know… I know what you’re thinking – but hear me out first. You know how shit always seems so bad and awful when you’re actually living it, and then years down the road you look back on that time in your life, and it doesn’t really seem so bad at all in retrospect? Like, yesterday’s problems (the ones I had at 26) were few and far between, considering the problems I have now at the advanced age of 31. The biggest problem I had then was trying to get the fuck out of retail…. and making enough to pay rent since my salary was substantially lower. But in retrospect, the past seems like good times now.
That’s how I’ve been feeling lately. I think maybe it’s the pressure of being in my 30s now, when I have to actually have the future weighing more heavily on my shoulders than I did at 26-28. It takes a while for it to sink in that you’re not going to be young and carefree forever (not that I was EVER carefree, but I certainly wasn’t considering the heavier subjects in life, like if I want to married, whether or not I want to have a kid(s) someday, or saving for retirement, or where I would and would not be willing to relocate based on ageing parents, where my family lives, etc.).
I’m not saying I would ever want to go back to working retail, but there were some very good benefits to be had working in retail management which I was too blind to see or even appreciate at the time.
I could switch my shifts with other managers and usually requested Sunday and Monday’s off, or Mondays and Tuesdays, which was great, since the store closed early on Sunday and I could still do dinner with my boyfriend or go out and party on a Sunday night. I miss those days, since now my window to imbibe is limited only to Friday and Saturday nights when everyone else in the world is out doing the same. You can’t trade shifts working corporate, when everyone works the same damn shift.
I miss having random week days off. It was nice to be one of the few people who had the ability to do their personal shopping, groceries and run errands on days when the majority of people are working, since you have everything to yourself and a calm exists that just isn’t there on the weekend. I also miss (now that the weather is warming up), the ability to grab a glass of wine at 3pm when the sun is out and no one else is there.
I miss having more than one day a week off with my boyfriend. Right now, our only day off together is Sunday, so it’s become sort of a sacred day and I don’t want to make plans with anyone else on Sunday – unless it’s like a party or group dinner or something. When I worked retail, I usually found there was a random weekday I’d have off that would match up with one friend or my boyfriend.
I miss being physically active, moving around, walking, hauling cages of clothes, doing floor sets, folding and doing manual labor – I even miss interacting with customers and helping people. Back then, I didn’t even have to consider how much I was walking in a day, or do push-ups, since my daily work was a workout in itself. Sitting still is awful. I also get bored when every day is the same and I’m not continually meeting new people or training new hires, or interviewing.
That sweet, sweet employee discount.
New Merchandise always felt like Christmas morning – ripping into those boxes and seeing the new clothing before anyone else and trying on/setting aside all of the shit I was about to buy for 50% off…
These things said, I don’t miss working every holiday (Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Memorial Day, July Fourth), working on Saturday mornings after going out on a Friday night, and dealing with awful customers or, even worse, dealing with awful district managers or fellow managers.
These thoughts have been floating around my mind all week. I secretly think I just miss the sense of camaraderie I felt then, since I actually worked with with people I built close friendships with outside of work, and we would talk about our lives and work place drama in the stockroom and while closing down the store each night. It was nice to have people to leave work with and grab Dunkin’Donuts with, and ride the subway back to Brooklyn with each night. I don’t have that now and I’m pretty sure I never will if I keep working corporate.
1/2 box of cooked lasagna noodles (you won’t need a full box)
3 large potatoes; washed and sliced into thin rounds
1/2 white or yellow onion, finely minced
3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
3 TBS. butter
3 TBS. olive oil
1/3 cup flour
3 cups whole milk
1 log of goat cheese (I believe it’s like 4 ounces)
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp. fresh thyme
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 lb. of thinly sliced prosciutto
3-4 green zucchini, cut into thin slices, length-wise
1 ball fresh mozzarella
Bring heavily salted water to a boil in a large pot and pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
Cook the lasagna noodles, drain, rinse with cold water, add some olive oil to prevent them from sticking to each other, and set aside
Peel and chop the potatoes, and place the slices in a bowl of cold, salted water (this prevents discoloring)
Slice the zucchini and set aside
Next, you will make the bechamel sauce. Heat the butter and a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan/wok over low heat
Add in the minced onions, stirring occasionally until onions are translucent and yellow (about 5 min)
Add in the minced garlic and cook another two minutes
Add in the flour and stir to create a roux (this is the base for your sauce, and the step that makes it thicken while remaining clump-free)
Next, add in the milk, and continue to stir constantly using a wooden spoon, or whisk
The liquid should thicken rather quickly
Now, add in the goat cheese, continuing to stir until fully melted and incorporated
Add in the salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, nutmeg, and some fresh thyme
Taste test, and add more seasonings if necessary…. remove from heat.
chop the ball of mozzarella or peel apart into thin slices
Now for the fun part – it’s time to assemble the lasagna!
Once the lasagna is assembled, place it into the oven and bake at 400 for 50 minutes to an hour… the cheese should be browning on top and the sauce bubbling around the edges of the dish when you turn the oven off.
Let the dish cool for at LEAST 10 minutes, before cutting and serving
Before we get into the food talk, I have to have a brief rant (actually, two, brief rants): I’m getting a second cat, and apparently no one in my family supports that decision. I’m not sure why, considering I’m a more responsible pet owner than anyone else I’ve EVER known. I’m under the impression that they think that I’m going to become a cat lady or something. Like, that’s NEVER gonna happen, guys. First off, I’m far too vain and concerned with outward appearances to ever let myself go (i.e. becoming morbidly obese with bad teeth and wearing purple tracksuits) and/or to walk around smelling like cat piss whilst wearing a sweatshirt that’s embroidered with cats.
Secondly, I would never become a cat hoarder, nor would I ever even consider owning more than two cats, MAX, at any given time – not even if I had a huge house and a yard and it was an actual possibility. I don’t think I’ve exhibited any “cat lady” signs that should make them worry that that’s the road I’m headed down either. My apartment is fucking immaculately clean, I have plenty of friends with whom I socialize with on a weekly basis, and I am in a long-term, stable relationship. Like WTF? I’ve also been lectured: “what about when you have real kids? What if your kid is allergic, or you don’t have time for the pets?” To this I say (1) Every other degenerate parent I know that already had pets when they had a baby seemed to make it work, (2) I would probably give away a kid that I’ve only had for two weeks before a pet that I’ve had for 5 years, and (3) my cat is already more high maintenance than a bald baby who sleeps 18 hours a day will ever be, so I’d still have plenty of time to care for him (them).
I am also the best cat-parent I know. Like, honestly, who else spends two hours a day brushing their cat, pampering him and playing with him – even on the nights I come home dog tired from working late? One of the major reasons I’m getting a second cat is because I want Mr. Peeper to have a friend and playmate to keep him company during the afternoon. Not that I’m not home EVERY.SINGLE.NIGHT and make it a point to stay home when I can on weekends just to be with him. Most cat owners I know think that because they have cats and not dogs, they can leave their cat(s) unattended for an entire weekend or longer. I have neverleft my cat alone for more than a 12-hour stretch and I never would, because I think that’s being a negligent pet owner. I’m so fired up right now…. You’d think I just told them I’d eloped with a carnie I had known for only 24-hours in Vegas ,or like, quit my job and was moving to Puerto Rico with a circus worker.
It’s also not like I’m having a kid anytime soon (or possibly ever, at this rate), so why not get a second pet?! Anyhow, this is Simón Pier Tuna… a.k.a TUNA:
Sorry everyone, I have to keep ranting, because it’s MY FOOD blog, and I’ll rant about whatever I want, even if it’s non-food related.
ANOTHER RANT (*VERY WOMANLY RANT AHEAD* – You’ve been warned if you’re a guy):
I love being a woman, mainly because I like wearing makeup and heels without judgment, and also because I can’t imagine myself being a man. Despite all of the advantages of being a woman (who am I kidding – WHAT advantages? Discrimination in the workplace? The expectation that you’ll handle all of the domestic duties on top of full-time work? LOL), there are also many disadvantages. There are times when being a woman sucks. Also, the state of healthcare and coverage in this country sucks hard on any-given-day. The United States is essentially the only developed nation WITHOUT universal healthcare… and that blows exponentially. Like, even with insurance, the healthcare in this country SUCKS. I already have an extremely high deductible given my annual salary – my deductible is 4.6% of my annual salary. For those of you in countries with universal healthcare, a ‘deductible’ is the amount of money you must pay out-of-pocket before insurance even kicks in to cover any percentage at all of your medical bills… yeah, it’s confusing. It took me until this year to fully understand how deductibles actually work (or, should I say, DON’T work).
Anyhow, when my insurance switched over to my new job in January, the birth control I have been on for the last 8 years of my life was no longer covered. It had been 100% covered (FREE) with my last insurance. In my opinion, all birth control should be free – it’s preventative care and could save insurance companies tons of money in the long run. Anyhow, I digress…. with my new insurance, for the SAME birth control medication, I would end up having to pay $500 out of pocket every 3 months. Guys, this is the cost of my medication WITH INSURANCE. WTF? ! It took me three different birth controls to find one that actually met my needs and didn’t completely fuck my body up when I started taking this pill 8 years ago. I tried three other pills before I ended up with this one, and each one had terrible effects ranging from weight-gain, Dolly Parton-sized breasts, nausea, headaches, etc.. I know this sounds like some “Alice in Wonderland” magic mushroom shit (one makes you tall, one makes you small), but I’m serious. This is the only one that worked for me, without terrible effects.
I called my doctor as soon as I found out my normal medication wasn’t covered, and decided tried another one that WAS fully covered by my new insurance, which the doctor assured me was similar, and I gained 5 lbs. on the 3 days I was on it, and cried over everything for no reason. At that point, I just threw all three months work of it away and said ‘f*ck it.’ I am too old to deal with this shizzle. I have no intent of having a kid either, if anyone is wondering. I’m just also not dealing with unnecessary weight gain and mood swings at this point in my life.
I just can’t keep playing Goldilocks and trying to find the perfect size chair or the right temperature porridge at this age, you know? I knew what actually worked for my body, and it’s been taken away due to America’s fabulous healthcare coverage. Anyhow, I was feeling confident and happy in my decision to be rid of hormonal contraceptives, since I know that they aren’t that great for you in the long run. Now, my skin is going haywire and I’m like psychotic. I’m breaking out all over my body – my chest, my back, my jawline, my neck… like WTF?! Is there no winning in this world?! Also, I’ve been way more emotional in the last two months than I have been in the last 8 years. I am not OK with this. I don’t know what else to do except to ride it out or order the only other pill that has the same ingredients my old one did, which is only available in Europe.
Anyhow. I’m done bitching.
I made some awesome vegan, ‘meatless’ ballz for a potluck work party I had this week. We have a couple of vegans/vegetarians in the office, so I figured I would just make something everyone could enjoy instead of making both vegan and meat.
2 cups of cooked quinoa (white, red, mixed, any color quinoa is good)
2 cans of black beans
1/2 white or yellow onion, finely diced
4 cloves of garlic, finely diced
1 small can of tomato paste
1 cup Mozzarella-vegan (soy-based) ‘cheese’ (can’t really call this shiz cheese …)
2 Tbs. soy sauce
3 Tbs. Olive oil
1 Tbs. freshly chopped parsley
1 Tbs. freshly chopped basil
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
4 cups vegetable stock
Salt/pepper/granulated garlic to taste
THIS FIRST STEP YOU CAN DO A DAY OR TWO IN ADVANCE:
Cook 1 cup dried quinoa in about 3 cups vegetable stock – add more stock or water as necessary, until all water is gone and quinoa is cooked through, and light and fluffy
Once the quinoa is cooked, set aside to cool or until ready to use
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Drain and rinse the 2 cans of black beans and lay out onto a baking sheet to dry and go into the over
Put the tray of beans into the oven for approximately 20 minutes, until they are dry and begin to crack on the outside
While the beans are in the over, chop your onion, garlic, and fresh herbs
In a small saucepan, saute the onion and garlic over low heat, until cooked-through (add the onion first and cook until translucent, and then the garlic last and cook for another couple of minutes) – set aside once cooked.
In a blender, pulse the fake mozzarella cheese until it is crumbly
Next, add in the dried black beans into the blender along with the olive oil, and pulse until crumbly
Dump this mixture into a large mixing bowl
Add in your cooked onion/garlic mixture
Add in the cooked quinoa
Add in the seasonings (chopped basil, chopped parsley, salt/pepper, dried pepper flakes, dried oregano, granulated garlic, soy sauce)
Add in 3-4 Tbs. of the tomato paste
Mix everything together with your hands
Roll the mixture into golf-ball sized balls once it is the right consistency and flavor
Place the balls on a baking sheet or in an oven-safe dish to bake; cook for 30 minutes or so
You may have to rotate the balls half-way through cooking, to ensure even cooking on all sides
Serve with your favorite tomato sauce, alone, or over pasta!
After I slaved away making these balls, I worked a 10 hour day and came home to make myself some ratchet ramen:
Once again I basically haven’t slept all week. Today I let my alarm go off at 8 minute intervals over the course of 1.5 hours…. who does that? For the amount of time I continued to have interrupted sleep, I could have just re-set the alarm another hour out and gotten some solid sleep.
I cannot wait to sleep this weekend. What’s new? Oh well… what do you expect from a future cat lady?