I haven’t written a blog in a couple of weeks because I’m feeling lazy and uninspired, yet also simultaneously busy (working, maintaining the household, maintaining a very high-maintenance cat, watching my niece and nephew after work here and there, basically maintaining everything but myself it seems…), and I’ve also been trying to take advantage of the warmer weather by walking more. The increased exercise doesn’t seem to helping my body much, unless I’m gaining serious muscle and am too blind to see it because I have body dysmorphia… but I’m pretty sure the scale doesn’t lie.
Can you tell I’m in a bad mood? Because I really am.
I feel like I only work and live to pay bills sometimes (all the time, actually), and only eat healthy and work out for my body to stay exactly the same and fluctuate wildly depending on that time of the month. Have I mentioned how awful it has been since going off birth control? I mean, we’re in the midst of the 6th mass extinction of flora and fauna and it’s caused entirely by humans, Notre Dame Cathedral burned down on Monday, there are starving children in Yemen, abused and abandoned animals wandering the streets, and dead whales washing up everywhere with plastic bags in their stomachs, but yeah…. I am still bitter about my insurance not covering Natazia (on top of all of the aforementioned issues… the Natazia is just the straw breaking this camel’s back, so to speak).
Like who the fuck gains weight when they go OFF birth control? Don’t most people gain when they go on it? Also, who knew that in addition to PMS bloating, you can also bloat during ovulation… so basically, I only look skinny about 3 days of the month now – and that’s the week my skin flares up with hormonal acne. I never really feel good about myself 100 percent anymore. I’m either bloated or broken out and both make me feel self-conscious and not like myself. By the time my cystic zits go back down, and are just red, flaky marks on my face, a whole month has gone by and then the cysts come right back again along with some added water retention.
It’s OK though… we’re all going to be dead someday, and probably sooner than later at the rate of global warming, pollution, and general discord among the nations…. so why should worry about my thigh gap and a couple of zits on my chin? I’ll tell you why – because it takes away from my worry about microplastics infiltrating the food chain and never being able to afford to have children thanks to astronomical rent prices and student loans… that’s why. I need to focus my anxieties and stress into something I can control… which is precisely why I’ve started carrying a tote bag to the grocery store to haul my groceries home so as to avoid plastic bags…
I was going to make chicken piccata tonight for my boyfriend, because at some point today I had more energy and felt like cooking something fancy, but after working all day, commuting, doing groceries on the way home, taking a bath, giving my cat a bath, and picking up the house, and now writing this blog, I am absolutely fucking exhausted, and ordered Chinese food instead.
It’s one of those days, and I seem to be having a lot of those days lately, despite trying to stay positive and take a pro-active approach to my life and wellness and happiness.
I have been trying to take it easier on the weekends (i.e. going to bed before 2am, not binge drinking, not making poor financial decisions when I’m binge drinking), which leaves me feeling slightly more mentally stable. I picked up my new glasses last week (fucking finally) and have knocked out all of my annual doctor’s visits, bi-annual dental cleaning, so at least I’m up to date as far as my health is concerned. I also started a new painting and made good progress for the few hours I’ve put into it so far:
In other news, while the world falls apart and I futilely attempt to lose the weight I’ve gained since January, I made the best meatballs I ever made (beef and mortadella), and also the best risotto I’ve ever made and that my boyfriend has ever eaten (his words, not mine).
I want to write out the recipe and ingredients but it’s going to have to wait because I’m physically, mentally and emotionally spent for today.
I’ll try to update this tomorrow to include a recipe… I’m falling asleep now.
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
Ah yes, the good ol’ American mall – a timeless institution! All of the stores a girl could ask for under one roof (listen – even if you’re extra fancy, there are malls with Chanel…); the smells of Auntie Anne’s Pretzels mixing with Yankee Candle, Bath & Body Works, the fragrance counter of Macy’s and the food court lulling you into a false sense that everything in the world is good and peaceful.
I have a sick obsession with malls – I think it’s because I grew up going to the mall every weekend with my mom, and now the mall is basically the one place left that makes me feel a sort of comforting wash of nostalgia when I set foot in one – it’s like stepping back to the safety and pleasantry of childhood. They’re always the same – which is what I really like the most I think. Regardless of whether they’re high-end or middle-brow, you always know what you’re getting. There will be a food court, several chain restaurants, an H&M, Journey’s shoes, Sephora, Abercrombie, and two big department stores. These days, a trip to the mall is a rare treat, since I live in NYC and do most of my shopping on line, or in person in brick-and-mortar stores around the city. I usually don’t even end up buying anything in the mall to be honest, but I like walking around sniffing candles, reminiscing about my college stint piercing ears at Claire’s, and of course, doing a walk-through of Hollister. How could I not?! I worked for Hollister for almost four years, so I like to walk through the store to relive my best memories while taking in the scent of SoCal…. it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. What can I say? Can’t go wrong with a pair of $25 boyfriend jeans…
Anyhow, sometimes it’s really nice to drive out of NYC and go spend a couple of hours at a mall upstate, or in Long Island or New Jersey just to GTFO of the rat race that is life in NYC. Escaping to a mall for a couple of hours is like stepping back to a time when life was simple, and all I cared about was weather my mom would by me that $60 sweater from Abercrombie or sparkly skirt from Limited Too. There is also something to be said for the comfort of chain restaurants. Living in NYC you have the best of the best and all of the variety in the world, but sometimes it’s just as satisfying to get Ruby Tuesday’s, or my new favorite: Zin Burger.
Anyhow… apart from malls, &$%28!, and cheese, one of my other favorite things is eggplant parmigiana. If I go to an Italian restaurant and eggplant parm is on the menu, you can be almost 98% certain that that is what I will be ordering. One of my very favorite eggplant parms in the city, is the one served at Fiat Cafe. If you’ve never been to Fiat Cafe in Nolita, you should go. It’s on Mott Street between Spring Street and Kenmare. The prices are really affordable, the food is amazing, the servers are always friendly, and its cozy. It’s not fine dining by any means, but for a cozy date night, or intimate dinner with a couple of friends or small family, it’s perfect. They also do brunch and lunch, though I’ve never been before 4pm.
Everything on the menu is fantastic. Their meatballs are honestly some of my favorite in the city, apart from D.O.C. Wine Bar, in Williamsburg. Honestly, my boyfriend and think the meatballs served at Fiat Cafe are not made in house and in fact, we believe they’re of the frozen, store-bought variety. I am not 100% certain, so don’t quote me on this – but they taste store bought, but like in the most delicious, fucking way you can dream of. It helps that the marinara they have is perfect.
Apart from the eggplant parm, which is a substantial size and dripping in hot mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, the layers of eggplant are super thin, and fried and then baked to perfection – it melts in your mouth. It is absolutely perfect, and I’m salivating just thinking of it. The hairs on my arms are standing straight up, because that shit is SO GOOD, it gives me goosebumps, the same way a good song or good cocktail would.
If I had to pick my favorite eggplant parm upstate, I’d say the Spot restaurant/diner in Binghamton has pretty excellent eggplant parm… or at least they used to… I haven’t been in like 10 years.
Ever since having Fiat Cafe eggplant parm about 6 years ago, I’ve been trying to recreate it when ever I make my own eggplant parm – and this weekend, I’d say I can pretty damn close.
The key, I’ve learned through trial and error, is to NOT use any bread crumbs at all, and to use substantial amount of oil when frying (deep-fry style) The eggplant is first dipped in beaten egg, and then instead of going into breadcrumbs, it just goes into a mixture of flour (Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and garlic powder) before going into the hot oil.
The marinara sauce is also important – if you’re not making your own, you’ll want to splurge on a good jar of sauce (Rao’s, Meatball Shop, or Victoria brands are all really good quality when going with store bought). You don’t want a sauce that is too sweet (which many brands are – I’m looking at you Classico and Newman’s Own…), or chunky.
It’s also important to cut the eggplant length-wise (long ways, instead of horizontally into rounds), and fairly thin (although, not TOO thin, otherwise you’ll be frying all night… and this is already a time consuming dish to make).
Two medium-sized eggplant, or one really large eggplant
3-4 eggs, well beaten in a bowl
3 cups of bleached baking flour
2 cups of finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (aka Paremsan cheese)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbs. granulated garlic or garlic powder
Finely chopped fresh basil
1 cup olive oil or vegetable oil, or a combination of the two
1 ball (8 oz.) fresh mozzarella, or 1 bag pre-shredded mozzarella
Homemade marinara or large jar (or two smaller jars) quality marinara sauce (feel free to spice it up with arrabiata sauce or any other variety within reason)
Wash and dry your eggplant(s) ans slice vertically (length-wise) into thin slices (1/4 an inch or 2cm, maybe? I don’t have a ruler on me…sorry)
Beat 3-4 eggs in a shallow bowl; beat well enough that you can’t differentiate between yoke and egg white – should be consistent
In a separate, shallow bowl or container, mix together the flour, 1 cup of finely grated Parmesan, 1 TBS. granulated garlic, and salt and pepper to taste (be generous)
Heat the oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit and set aside a shallow casserole dish or baking pan
Cover the bottom or a frying pan/large sauce pan with enough oil that the bottom is actually totally covered (this will be a lot… I didn’t say this was a healthy dish 😉 ) and turn to a medium-low heat
Next, you’ll dip the slices of eggplant one by one, first into the egg wash, and then lightly coat in flour
cook over medium-low heat about 1 minute on each side: the flour should brown ever so slightly – just a nice golden color
Be careful NOT TO BURN or get the oil too hot, otherwise everything in your house/kitchen/hair/clothes will smell like a deep-fryer (Believe me, I’ve been there…. makes for a terrible headache)
It’s a process you must finesse, cooking, turning, battering at the same time – obviously you cannot fit all of the eggplant slices in the pan at one time, so you’ll have to get the rhythm right (don’t worry… it takes time. Practice makes perfect)
You’ll want to either set the finished pieces of fried eggplant directly into the baking pan, if you have a good system down between frying, turning, and creating the layers within the pan, or, if you are not that skilled yet, just set aside all of the finished fried eggplant and then you will build the layers when you’re done!!!
After you have a layer of fried eggplant that covers the baking dish, you’ll top with an even mix of mozzarella slices and grated Parmesan, followed by a light layer of sauce
Once your sauce jar is half empty (if you’re using jarred sauce), add some water (enough to almost fill the jar again), and shake vigorously – most marinara out of the jar will be too thick by itself to create a moist and juicy eggplant parm – so adding water is a necessary step!
Keep layering until you’ve used up all of your fried eggplant layers (in my experience, you’ll end up with 3-4 layers of eggplant and subsequent toppings, depending on how thin you’ve sliced your eggplant)
Add a final topping-layer of marinara, cheese, and sprinkle with the chopped parsley and put into the oven
Bake for about 25-30 minutes until cheese has melted and is browning ever so slightly
Once the eggplant comes out of the oven, let it cool/sit on the counter for about 15 minutes – otherwise it will be too sloppy to serve
This is one of those dishes that almost tastes even better in the following days, so enjoy your leftovers… you should have plenty – unless you’re cooking for a family of four or more!
Oh, also, in other news – despite what negative things my family has to say, I can’t fucking wait for my kitten (Lord Simon Pier Tuna) to arrive. Mr. Peeper has been so hard up for a friend that he now waits by the door when he knows our neighbor across the hall is taking her dog out. He sits by our door and meows until we let him into the hall so he can go sniff and greet Quincy (the neighbor’s little dog)… that’s how much he wants a friend/brother. I pray he gets along with/likes another cat for a friend as much as he likes the neighbor’s dog. My poor boy.
OH . MY . GOD…
In other, other news – while I just had my back turned typing the above paragraph, I heard Peeper (speak of the Devil) licking something on the counter behind me, and turned around to find him licking olive oil out of the sauce pan I just readied to make Bolognese sauce… AWESOME. He’s probably going to shit his brains out now. Fabulous.
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?
FML… this is me, starting over, after I just wrote almost an entire blog and then accidentally deleted it and couldn’t recover it. This single action sums up my week in a nutshell.
I’m staying in tonight, and so happy with my decision to do so. I am mentally and physically exhausted and need a night of no-drinking, going to sleep before 1am, and some alone time with my thoughts. It was a long week (as every week spent working a corporate job seems to be), and I need some serious beauty sleep, as I am currently looking haggard AF. At the start of each work week, all I look forward to is making it to Friday again, with the intent that I will use the weekend to catch up on sleep and relax for once. That never actually happens though, since I also have to use the weekend to run errands, clean the house, and have a social life. Then I end up feeling as exhausted as ever by the time Monday morning rolls around again and like I need another weekend just to recover from the weekend. It’s truly a vicious cycle. I start to feel extremely unhealthy and ugly when I don’t take care of myself the way I should (i.e. drinking water, NOT drinking alcohol, getting more than 6 hours of sleep each night, etc.).
I drank way too much this week, ate really crappy, didn’t get enough sleep, and therefore needed this night of solitude as a means of repentance (not that I can undo the basket of sugar cookies I devoured, or the 6,000 calories in alcohol that went down my throat over the course of the week). I went over to a friend’s house on Wednesday night for dinner. We grilled squid skewers and skewers of baby potatoes. She also made a delightful beet and dill salad:
As is par for the course, I consumed excessive amounts of wine, and then some half-assed blueberry martinis I tried to make. I woke up on Thursday with only 3 hours of sleep under my belt and spent the day at my work desk wanting to die and eating sugar cookies in a futile attempt to feel normal again. Will I ever learn my lesson? Probably not, if I haven’t by now.
Last night, I had another friend over and also consumed more wine than I should have as well as more cheese than I should have in such close proximity to hitting the hay. I can’t consume alcohol or heavy food before bed, because my metabolism goes into overdrive and my core temperature skyrockets to the point that I wish I could crawl out of my own skin because of how hot I get. How is it that a person can be sleeping in just their underwear, with NO covers on, when it’s only 45 degrees outside, and still wake up boiling hot? It’s uncomfortable… I can tell you that much; and it greatly hindered my ability to get quality sleep last night, so I’ve been looking shitty all day.
I started this week with every intention of cooking and eating healthy, but that plan went down the toilet as soon as a tin of cookies arrived at my work desk, courtesy (cough *SABOTAGE* cough) of one of the service companies we use. That coupled with my alcohol intake and lack of sleep has me feeling rather unhealthy as I sit here typing this.
I started my week with a broiled salmon fillet, some mashed potatoes (<— not particularly healthy, but damn good), and steamed spinach and kale.
For the Salmon:
Start with one or two large salmon fillets; make sure there are no bones before cooking (skin on is fine, as it will come off when cooked)
Heat the over to 375 degrees
Generously oil a baking sheet with some olive oil and place the salmon fillets skin-side-down on the baking sheet
Drizzle and brush more olive oil onto the tops of the fillets and squeeze fresh lemon juice over them
Sprinkle generously with salt, pepper, and granulated garlic
Cut another lemon into round slices, and place a couple of slices on top of each fillet
Bake for 15 minutes (give or take depending on the size and thickness of the fillet
Serve with a wedge of fresh lemon and sprinkle with fresh parsley
For the Mashed Potatoes:
Start with a sack of yellow or white potatoes, or use 3-4 large Yukon or Idaho potatoes; potatoes should be scrubbed thoroughly and cut into halves or quarters depending on their size
Boil the potatoes in a large pot of salted water until they are penetrable with the tines of a fork (usually 20 minutes of boiling)
After the potatoes are cooked through, reserve about 1/3 of a cup of the potato water (you can ladle it out into a measuring cup if needed)
Drain the potatoes (apart from about 1/3 of a cup of the potato water which you will mash them in)
Add a generous amount of butter (I’d say about 2 TBS.), salt and pepper, and granulated garlic and give them a good mashing
If they are to dry (which they really shouldn’t be if you added enough butter and left in enough water), feel free to add some cream or even a dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche
Make sure you taste test them to see if they need more seasoning!
I can’t wait to wake up tomorrow feeling refreshed having slept for 10 hours straight. I want to go off on a political tangent right now about the state of the world, but no one needs that since we’re all inundated with tragic news 24/7 these days. I guess when times are bad and it seems the entire world is falling apart, we have to make changes and make a difference where we can, and that means starting with ourselves (queue Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror”). I’ve been trying to be more conscious of my plastic use as well as my use of palm oil products (hello Nutella …. looking at you). I can’t change the world or reverse climate change or animal extinction as a single person, but I can certainly do my part to help.
Another week has come and gone, and what a week it was! I saw Elton John perform Saturday night with my mom and sister at Barclay’s Center which was literally a dream come true. I am so happy I had the opportunity to see him on his farewell tour since I have wanted to see him since I was 12. I know what you’re thinking – what kind of weirdo, freak 12 year old is obsessed with Elton John? Me. That’s who.
I found an Elton John “Greatest Hits” cassette tape the summer that I was 12 in the upstairs bedroom of my Grandma’s house, and she said I could have it – which is what my grandma always said whenever I found something I liked or wanted in her house. The tape had belonged to my uncle Bill, who had passed away six years earlier due to complications of AIDS. I brought that tape home and listened to it front and back and on repeat all summer long. I memorized all of the lyrics to every song and found myself wanting to know more about the life of Elton John, since all of his songs seemed to be deeply personal and I, as a deeply emotional, 12 year old girl entering puberty, related to them on so many levels (or so I thought at the time…). Little did I know, I would end up relating much more once I had actually experienced real life…
I was never particularly close to my uncle Bill when he was alive since I was young and I didn’t see him that often. When he passed away, his life (and then subsequently his death) was kind of shrouded in mystery to me. He was an openly gay man and brought boyfriends home to my very-Catholic-grandmother’s house for holidays etc.. No one had an issue with how he lived his life, but no one ever really talked about why he died – in fact, I didn’t find out until I was much, much older. I do remember making him a ‘get well’ card when he was sick with a picture of Marilyn Monroe that I drew on it, which is pretty awesome in retrospect… he really loved that. I also remember a couple of times he took me grocery shopping with him when he went to the store for my grandma, and all of the ladies would coo over me and over him pushing me in the shopping cart, and he seemed to eat that shit right up. My memories of him are very few.
Anyhow, I digress. The point I am getting at, is that I finally felt some sort of connection to my uncle through this shared love of Elton John music. I was only 7 when he died, and grew up feeling like I really missed out on a relationship with him. As I’ve grown older and heard some of the stories relayed from other family members about my uncle’s love of partying and the practical jokes he liked to play on people, I’ve also realized that perhaps we have much more in common than just the mutual love of Elton John :p I think we would have gotten on quite well were he still alive.
It really does mean so much to me that my mom, who I’m pretty sure was quite concerned with the fact that her 12 year old daughter was obsessed with Elton John, bought me these tickets. I don’t think I can thank her enough or tell her how much it really means, but I will try regardless. The concert was a solid three hours of Elton John entertaining – singing, playing the piano, and talking to the audience about his music and his life. It was awesome. HE was AWESOME. Such a good singer and piano player, even in his 70s. He played ALL of my favorite songs (minus ‘Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word’), which really surprised me. I didn’t think he would play ‘Someone Saved My Life Tonight’ or ‘I Guess That’s Why They Call it The Blues.’ The concert was surreal.
I finally filed my taxes yesterday… all I can say is ‘someone please come put me out of my misery.’ It ended up being worse than I thought. I legit think I’m going to be destitute forever unless I start stripping or something. I really can’t catch a break in this life. I also had a severe case of cystitis last week, having not had it in like 4 years. I was sitting at work on Thursday morning when it started to feel like someone was beating my kidneys with a baseball bat. By the end of the day I knew I was totally f*cked for many more reasons which I won’t elaborate on here – let’s just say if you’ve ever had it, you know what I’m talking about. Brutal. I don’t know how I made it through the work day.
I’m back to normal now (as normal as I’ll ever be), and trying to figure out what to look forward to now that EJ concert is over. You know when something seems so far away, and then before you know it, it’s over? I’m the same way with vacations, parties, etc. – I just look forward to something for so long and put all of my stock into it, and then once it’s over, I’m so emo and empty inside. I remember my mom got tickets to this concert last February for my birthday, and I kept thinking “wow, that’s so far away!” Well, here we are, over a year later, and now it’s over. I guess I’ll just look forward to paying off my taxes and being poor now and hopefully getting shredded for summer. JK… but not really. What else????
I used to make these balls all the time and haven’t in a while. It’s honestly easier to just make fish, seafood, or pasta than it is to try to create a ‘meatball’ without meat. These balls are time consuming, but totally worth it if you have the time, or if you just cook the lentils in advance, so that they’re ready to make into ballz when the time comes! This dish is super healthy, super filling, packed with protein, and if you’re anything like me, will also make you super bloated for a solid two days (I love legumes… but my gastrointestinal tract begs to differ). Whatever… it’s choc full of fiber, delicious, and cruelty-free… it’s worth being bloated.
I made the same vodka sauce I made last week, since it’s a real hit in this house. You can find the recipe HERE by scrolling down. These balls also match well with any store-bought or homemade marinara, or pesto. I guarantee you that if you cook this dish for someone (whether they’re a vegetarian or not), they’re going to love these ballz and be very impressed.
INGREDIENTS (FOR THE BALLZ):
1 cup dry (uncooked), brown (“french”) lentils
3 cups vegetable stock (you can also use beef, but then it’s not really vegetarian)
1 cup chopped mushrooms (or carrots, if you’re in a pinch – which I was when I made these… mushrooms are better!)
1/3 finely chopped yellow or white onion
3 cloves finely minced garlic
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 Tbs. finely chopped parsley
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
salt and pepper to taste
4 Tbs. olive oil
***Sauce of your choice*** (tomato/marinara work best!)
***Pasta of your choice to serve with***
Cook the lentils in the vegetable stock until soft; this means cooking for 20 – 25 minutes at a rolling boil… taste test to make sure they’re soft and all liquid is absorbed.
While the lentils boil, in a large saucepan, add 1 Tbs. of olive oil, and cook the minced onions, garlic, and mushrooms (or carrots, if you went with carrots)… cook until onions are translucent and veggie is cooked through:
After the lentils are cooked and liquid has been absorbed, dump into a large mixing bowl and let cook until malleable (should be ready to handle in 5 minutes or so)
Mix the remainder of ingredients (apart from the olive oil – which you will use to fry the balls in) into the bowl with the lentils:
Mix all of the ingredients together thoroughly and by hand.
Heat the remaining olive oil (plus more as needed) in a large saucepan over low-medium heat.
Form the balls by hand, packing and rolling the mixture into golf-ball sized balls, and dropping into hot oil
Rotate the balls so as to lightly brown/crisp on all sides… these balls will fall apart if you simply plunk them into hot sauce, whereas balls made from actual meat will be fine to cook by submerging into boiling sauce, these will not.
Once balls are browned on all size, add into sauce, or set aside, and then top your finished pasta with the balls and sauce.
Here I am, yet again…. avoiding my taxes like the bubonic plague…. 😀 After I write this blog post, I’m really going to try to make myself finish them – no matter how devastating the outcome. Time to face reality….
I had a most relaxing day yesterday, as one is wont to do on a Sunday. I found a new wine bar that’s so amazing – they have way better pricing than most wine bars do ($9 – $13 a glass as opposed to the typical $13 – $18), a great tasting menu (I had a cheese plate), and the bar was super cozy with a real stone fireplace, which I was lucky enough to sit right in front of. Major score on my part. The place is called Black Mountain Wine House, and despite being about a 15 minute drive from my apartment, was totally worth it. If you live in Brooklyn, I highly suggest.
The fireplace in the wine bar was super hot and cozy and made me reflect on Panther Room (the side room of Output, which closed forever a couple of months ago). I used to love going to Panther room on a Sunday night when I had Monday off and getting all kinds of funked up and then sitting in front of their fireplace… it was so perfect in the winter. I will always hold a special place in my heart for Panther Room and all the good times I had there… I digress….
So nostalgic right now… ❤ (sigh)
Moving on. I have recently become obsessed with beets. I really love foods with earthy (aka ‘dirt’) flavors, hence my love of anything with truffles, mushrooms, super rank cheeses, and BEETS. Lately, I’ve been cooking them once every couple of weeks. They pair so well with goat cheese, and also sour cream and dill – you can use them in a hearty winter salad, or as a main in a thick-ass borscht.
This weekend, I prepared beets for a salad with (you guessed it) GOAT CHEESE. A match made in heaven – right up there with peanut butter and jelly. I know… I get it – beets aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. But this recipe is simple, healthy, and could honestly be made into a main meal if you want to add some hot lentils or quinoa to make the salad a main dish!
When you buy fresh beets, you’ll want to first trim off the beet greens (the leafy stems) as well as any root portion growing out the end of the beet. Next, while they’re raw, use a vegetable peeler and peel the beet all the way around. Give the beets a final rinse in cold water just to make sure any dirt is rinsed away (they are a root vegetable, after all). In order to ensure the beets cook faster and evenly (since a bunch of beets usually includes beets of differentiating sizes), quarter or cut them in half depending on their size.
Boil the beets in some salted water for about 20-25 minutes, at a rolling boil. Stab them with the tines of a fork to make sure they’re cooked through before removing from heat.
Baby spinach or baby kale pairs best with beets….beets are definitely not a good mix with romaine or iceburg lettuce (and lord knows I really actually prefer romaine to spinach or kale …). Then of course, the goat cheese is essential – any time you add cheese, nuts, beans or any sort of protein to a salad it becomes more than a salad… it becomes worthy of meal status… this is great if you’re trying to be healthy but also want to feel full.
I also threw in some pine nuts, which really complimented the beets, goat cheese and spinach. Cherry/grape tomatoes go well with just about anything (apart from blue cheese… the acids from the blue cheese and tomatoes do NOT mix… take my word), so I threw some of those in, and then drizzled with olive oil, balsamic vinegar reduction, and sprinkled with freshly ground salt and pepper.
In the past, I have found thinly-sliced, green apples really pair well with beets and goat cheese, as well as walnuts – but this is more of a summer salad to me. As I previously mentioned, you can very well make this salad into a meal by adding some cooked lentils or quinoa.
Now for the main attraction:
The vodka sauce – yet another example of bastardized Italian food. Vodka sauce is uniquely Italian-American… doesn’t exist in Italy, only in America. But if you’ve had it, you’ll know it’s fucking amazing:
INGREDIENTS (for the vodka sauce):
1 cup vodka (can be cheap vodka – the alcohol cooks out regardless)
1 large can crushed tomatoes (preferably San Marzano) (28 oz.)
1 tiny can tomato paste (6 oz.)
1/2 Spanish (yellow) onion, finely minced
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. butter
1 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano (aka Paremsan)
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp. dried oregano flakes
1 tsp. dried basil flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbs. finely chopped fresh parsley
DIRECTIONS (for the vodka sauce):
Heat the oil over low heat, and add in the minced onions – cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent and cooked through.
Add in the minced garlic AND the red pepper flakes. Cook another 2-3 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally and being careful not to burn garlic.
Add in the can of crushed tomatoes, stir and increase the heat to medium.
Add in the vodka and continue to stir for another minute.
Add in the can of tomato paste, and stir thoroughly.
Add in all of the seasonings (basil, oregano, sugar, salt, pepper)
Taste test the sauce to see if it needs more seasoning… add as necessary
Add in the heavy cream and reduce to low heat. Sauce should be a nice orange color after adding the cream
Add in the grated Parmesan cheese AND the chopped parsley, and stir until incorporated
Add in the butter (this can be optional – it gives the sauce an extra richness)
This sauce is perfect to serve as is with the pasta of your choice after completing the above steps.
If you want to make a heartier meal, go ahead and make the ballz too. In this case, I used turkey meat (recipe for vegetarian ballz coming up this week…).
INGREDIENTS (for Ballz):
One package (1.3 lbs) turkey meat (93% lean, 7% fat)
1 large egg
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesano
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. granulated garlic
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 and 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbs. mayonnaise
2 Tbs. chopped parsley
Dash of worcestershire sauce
*** more bread crumbs if too soft when you attempt to roll into ball
DIRECTIONS (for Ballz):
Add all ingredients listed above together in a large bowl, and mix thoroughly with your hands (yes, your hands… don’t be a pu$$y – a spoon isn’t gonna work)
Turn the pasta sauce to a medium heat – you’re going to cook the ballz directly in the sauce this time! (it keeps them so tender and moist)
Once all ingredients are mixed together, grab a chunk of the mixture at a time and roll into a small ball (or large, if that’s how you likey…. 😉 )
Drop the ballz as you make them into the hot vodka sauce
Keep making and dropping ballz into saucepan until you’ve used up all of the meat mixture
Stir EVER SO GENTLY with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, so as not to fuck your ballz up and massacre them (gently rotate them around the hot saucepan)
Cook on low-medium heat for 15-20 minutes
Serve finished ballz and sauce over pasta or polenta (or if you’re on a “diet,” without either)
Yeah… definitely not doing my taxes now. Oh well. I should just pull an Anthony Bourdain and not file my taxes for years … except unlike Anthony Bourdain (God rest his soul), I will never get rich and be able to pay them off in a major lump sum someday after neglecting them for 10 years running.
I’m a clumsy person by nature, I always have been and I always will be – drunk, sober, in-between… it doesn’t matter. At any given time, I have at least three (usually more) bruises on my body from running into shit or hitting myself on some object. My hands are usually covered in a splendid assortment of cat scratches, or burns from cooking. Spending so much time cooking, I’ve had several incidents involving knives to fingers, burns from the oven and boiling water, etc., but this week’s accident really took the cake. I was making an artichoke pasta using fresh artichokes, which are evidently hard AF, when I attempted to quarter them with a large knife. The knife slipped off the artichoke and came down on my fingernail – one of the worst pains I have ever felt. I was honestly scared to look as I thought I’d cut through to the bone. This is the second time I’ve ever had an injury involving a nail/toenail, and let me tell you – I totally know why they torture Prisoners of War by ripping their nails off now….
The pain doesn’t go away – my finger was THROBBING all night to the point that the pain kept waking me up out of my sleep, and the next day at work, it hurt to type at the keyboard. Naturally I was slammed with work that day and therefore wanted to die. My finger still hurts, although it isn’t pulsating now. The nail is basically cracked 3/4 of the way through from a horizontal angle starting at the cuticle… sexy, I know. What can I say? I’m not a kept woman or lady who lunches, and therefore I will never have the unblemished, manicured hands of my dreams. Unless someone wants to make me a kept woman or afford me the life of a lady who lunches… but even then, I am so clumsy and like cooking/doing crafts etc., so my hands would never actually be nice.
My clumsy streak continued when I stubbed my toes so hard a couple of nights later, that I thought I broke a toe. Luckily nothing was broken, I just chipped the nail polish and now have a bruise covering the top half of my foot #blessed
Anyhow, I feel like I’ve cooked such a random assortment of things over the last couple of weeks that I’ve neglected to share. Work was insane this past week, and I worked late three out of five nights, so my cooking was kept to a minimum until this weekend. I made these really awesome shrimp tostadas the week before last:
I cooked the shrimp in some minced garlic, smoked paprika, onion powder, cumin, salt, pepper, splash of hot sauce, and a splash of freshly squeezed lime juice. I also used purple (red) cabbage, which I now have a weird obsession with for some reason – it’s so much heartier and tastier than lettuce in salads, and so good for you vitamin wise. I made a sauce that I both tossed the chopped cabbage in and then put a dollop of over the shrimp once plated.
For the sauce, I used a dollop of sour cream, about 2 Tbs. of mayonnaise, fresh lime juice, smoked paprika, and a generous squirt of sriracha sauce (hey – I never said these were authentic Mexican tostadas…).
I made fresh guacamole to top it off (smashed avocados, diced cherry tomatoes, granulated garlic, cayenne pepper, fresh lime juice, and chopped cilantro), and then fried the corn tortillas in hot vegetable oil. Voila! A relatively fast meal to prepare, yet very impressive when plated, semi-healthy, and insanely delicious.
I had some free time on my hands the week before last, and got the urge to bake a cake on a random week night. Since I am avoiding do my taxes for now, among some other things I should really sit down and make myself do, I decided it seemed like a great idea to follow through with my desire to bake a cake. Big mistake – it took so long start to finish (this is why I hate baking).
I usually only bake when I have to (Christmas, special occasions, etc.), but I really don’t like the process of baking. Not only is it time consuming (batch in – batch out of cookies over the course of hours, waiting for shit to cool before frosting it, etc.), but the precision required is painful for me. I guess I don’t really like to follow instructions or something, but in baking you HAVE to follow directions to a fault, otherwise it goes horribly awry. Cooking is great, because as long as you know the basics (how to make a sauce, how long to cook things, what combinations of food and seasonings go together), you can improvise. There really isn’t much improvisation to be had in baking. Anyhow, I think I enjoy the decorative part of baking. Sometimes I just want to see pretty, pink-frosted cupcakes, or in this case, frost and decorate a cake. I decided to make a red velvet cake, and it turned out alright – nothing to write home about. The recipe I used called for buttermilk and red food dye. I have heard the best recipes call for mayonnaise (sounds gross, but keeps cake moist) and beet juice to dye the cake (but ain’t nobody got time for that on a Wednesday night). Next time, I guess I’ll go all out with the beet juice dye.
Enough about my failed cake though, onto the pasta recipe that was out-of-this world delicious and nearly cost me a finger:
I’m a real junkie for artichokes – fried artichokes, artichoke dip, artichokes on salad, pizza – anything artichoke. *** A WORD OF ADVICE*** fresh artichokes are a real bitch to clean, whittle down to the edible parts, and also take FOREVER to cook. You’ve been warned.
4 large, fresh artichoke heads
1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 cup dry white wine
4 cloves of finely minced garlic
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
4 Tbs. olive oil
3 Tbs. butter
Box of pasta – rigatoni or penne
Salt and pepper to taste
Peel the tough, outer leaves off of the artichokes and then trim the ends. You’ll basically end up with an artichoke that is 1/3 of the size of what you initially started with.
Using a small knife, shave/whittle the base of the artichoke (the point where the leaves were attached), so you see the white, tender part of the base.
Cut the artichokes into quarters – be careful… they’re hard to cut! :p
Place the artichokes in a pot of enough water that they are fully submerged, salt the water, and squeeze in the juice from a whole lemon
Bring the water to a low boil.
While the artichokes are boiling, put on a pot of heavily salted water for the pasta and bring to a high boil.
While you wait for the pasta water to come to a boil, heat the oil in a large saucepan over low-medium heat.
Add in the minced onion and cook about 6 minutes or until tender and translucent.
Add in the minced garlic and cook for another 3 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic.
Once the artichokes have been cooking for about 15 minutes in the hot water, drain them and add them into the saucepan with the garlic and onion.
Add in about half of the butter (1 and 1/2 Tbs) to the saucepan and increase the heat to medium, stirring the artichokes so they’re coated with the butter/oil and cooking evenly.
Salt and pepper the artichokes, squeeze in the juice of half a lemon, and then add the white wine – the heat should be high enough at this point that the wine makes a sizzling sound and steam comes off the pan when you add it in. Stir the artichokes frequently.
Add the pasta to the boiling water, and cook according to time listed on pasta box.
You’ll want to occasional taste-test the artichokes, to make sure they’ve become tender, and also see that you’ve seasoned appropriately (add more salt, pepper, or lemon as necessary – do keep in mind that Pecorino is a very salty cheese though, and will add a substantial amount of salty once added to the pasta).
Remove the artichoke saucepan from heat once they’re cooked through and tender.
Grate about 1 cup of the Pecorino Romano into a separate bowl
Once the pasta is cooked, drain the water and add the pasta into the artichoke saucepan, or add the contents of the artichoke saucepan into the pasta pot with the pasta (whichever pan/pot is more accommodating)
Add in the rest of the butter (another 1-2 Tbs.), the Pecorino cheese, and juice from another lemon
Stir everything together until the pasta is coated and all ingredients are evenly dispersed.
Serve hot and accompany with a glass of white wine… or two 😉
I’m so happy it is Sunday – I just wish every day was Sunday. The only day of the week geared specifically towards taking it easy, lounging around and consuming food in excess. Maybe I’ll get around to filing my taxes tonight – I know the outcome is going to be depressing, which is why I’ve been putting it off as long as possible. I wanted to attempt a food vlog this weekend, or at least set up a Twitch account – I’ll look into that later. I’m not the best at technology and have no video editing skills of which to speak, so I’ll see what I can do.
What a day… I can’t even begin to get into it, or I’ll never stop. Let’s just say – I’m over it…. over everything … on every possible level you can imagine.
I’m currently listing to Dolly Parton, which is another level of disgusting in itself, considering that I hate country music and recently learned that Dolly doesn’t even call or consider herself a feminist. I won’t go into that either. I’m not sure why some women think the label ‘feminist’ is a bad thing, especially in the year 2019. It simply means a person (man, woman, etc.) who wants equal rights for both men and women (and everyone in between). I guess the people who consider it a dirty term have never taken a women’s studies class in their life, and therefore associate the label with a “feminazi,” or a man-hating, non-armpit-shaving, bra-burning, lesbian straight out of 1968 (**not that that would be a bad thing to be, even if you were that person I just described…). I’m just saying – calling yourself a feminist doesn’t mean you hate men or that you shun makeup and heels in favor of cargo shorts and trips to Home Depot. It means you want equal pay, rights, and equal opportunities for all – regardless of sex, gender, or sexual orientation. I guess in Dolly’s case, even though she has a large gay fan-base, she also has to cater to her equally-as-large, republican, pro-Trump fan base too… sad.
Dolly – you really disappointed me on top of everything else that disappointed me today…
I had the shittiest dinner after the shittiest day – it was only fitting. I was so pissed off by the time I arrived home at 9pm, I had no appetite. I kind of love when that happens, but naturally I had to go and ruin it by drinking a glass of wine and it spurred my appetite into action. If I never drank alcohol, I’m pretty sure I would never be hungry. But, given my lifestyle, quitting wine isn’t really an option, unless I can take up MMA fighting or get a prescription for Klonopin…
When I finally got home, ravaged and miserable, I fed my poor little catty, who should have even three hours prior to my arrival time, and then took a bath with a generous glass of Malbec. I proceeded to electrocute my face with the NuFace, since I have been so exhausted these past few mornings that I’ve neglected to do so. When I came out of the bath, I could smell my neighbor’s cooking – and tonight it smelled like fried artichoke hearts and stuffed mushroom poppers. Suddenly, I was salivating. Instead of eating pasta at 11pm, I decided to be healthy and make a salad to satiate my unrelenting hunger:
I guess everything is sad today – because this is one of the saddest salads I’ve ever tried to make into a meal. No cheese, nuts, olives, avocados, or any sort of protein or healthy fat. The salad is mostly purple cabbage. At least the dressing is homemade and delicious – that’s the only thing this salad has going for it. Kind of like the only thing I have going for me is my cute cat.
It doesn’t really help that I also only average about 6 hours of sleep a night or less. The only time it seems like I get enough sleep is on the weekends (and only sometimes), when I can go to bed at 10pm and sleep until 9am. This happens maybe once a month now, since even weekends seem to be full of obligations and plans. I feel like I’m so haggard when I don’t sleep – I seriously feel I have aged about 6 years in the past 2.5 years given my lack of sleep.
Anyhow, enough about me and my anger and sleep deprivation. Yesterday, I made a delightful pasta with a creamy sauce made of pureed zucchini. I’m too fucking tired to write the recipe, but I’ll update tomorrow if I don’t work another 12 hour day…. JK, I’ll write it now… what’s another 20 minutes off my sleep time?
Box of penne, rigatoni, or fussili
4 Tbs. Olive Oil
2 Tbs. butter
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (plus more to sprinkle on top)
1/2 chicken stock
1/4 cup heavy cream
4 small, green zucchinis, chopped up into small chunks
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely minced
6 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 small carton of cherry or grape tomatoes, cut into halves
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
Fresh basil to garnish
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil (2 Tbs.) and butter over low heat
Add in the minced onion and cook for 5 minutes over low heat, until the onions are translucent and soft
Add in the minced garlic (about 4 cloves worth) and cook for another 3 minutes (as usual, be careful not to burn the garlic!)
Add in the chopped zucchini and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently
Continue to stir and cook until the zucchini is soft and fully cooked (taste test to make sure)
Remove the zucchini from the the heat
Place a large pot of heavily salted water on high heat and bring to a boil for the pasta
While the pasta water comes to a boil, add the contents of the zucchini saucepan into a blender
Add in about 1/2 cup chicken stock
Blend over high speed until mixture is thick and saucy – there shouldn’t be any large chunks
Return the mixture to the saucepan and turn to low heat
Add the pasta into the pot of boiling water and cook according to time on box
Add in the cream, salt, pepper, cayenne, dried basil and dried oregano as well as the Parmesan cheese and stir until all ingredients have combined into thick sauce
Add additional seasoning as necessary, depending on your tastes
Once pasta is done cooking, drain the water, and add the pasta into the sauce (or add the sauce into the pasta pot – whichever is more accommodating)
In a clean sauce pan, add in 2 Tbs. of olive oil over low heat
Add in another 2 cloves of minced garlic and cook for about 2 minutes
Add in the cherry tomatoes, season with a bit more salt and pepper and cook over low-medium heat for about 6 minutes
Add the tomatoes to the rest of the pasta/sauce once cooked through
Top with additional sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and fresh basil leaves
I wish I had a shot of adrenaline that would be dispensed into my arm when my alarm went off tomorrow morning. But sadly the best I could muster was setting up my coffee machine so all I have to do is hit a single button. Looks like 5 hours of sleep for me tonight…. cheers.