The Cheesecake Addiction

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Archive for the category “Dinner”

BBQ in Chiberia

Well hello there, friends!

It is like Celebrity Fit Club over here at Chez Morrell/Dunn-Rankin. CDR and I are trying to get ourselves in shape and so have been working out daily and watching what we eat. The majority of my extended family are on a similar path, so for cousin Mikey’s birthday, I made some low-calorie cupcakes.

TWO INGREDIENT CUPCAKES.

Yup. You read right.

All you need is a box of cake mix and 15oz can of pureed pumpkin. THAT IS ALL YOU NEED, FOR SERIOUS.

Spice Cake mix with Pumpkin.

Spice Cake mix with Pumpkin.

Put 'em together.

Put ’em together.

Mix and bake.

For a glaze for these yummy pumpkin spice cupcakes, mix 1/2 cup powdered sugar with the juice of 1 lemon.

Just about 120 calories in these bad boys.

Just about 120 calories in these bad boys.

Now, if you live in Chicago, or the mid-west for that matter, you know how flippin’ cold it has been. We awoke to a cozy -11 degrees this morning, and CDR suggested we do something BBQ themed to warm our bones. I was totally down, and we made sure to do an intense to work out before dinner.

We picked up a sirloin tip roast and did something mighty fine to it.

We rubbed it down with a Carolina style BBQ rub.

We rubbed it down with a Carolina style BBQ rub.

Drop it in the pan, which has about 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in it. Pop it in the oven at 375 for 20 minutes, then cover it, and let it cook at 225 for 3 hours.

Drop it in the pan, which has about 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in it. Pop it in the oven at 375 for 20 minutes, then cover it, and let it cook at 225 for 3 hours.

We also made roasted potatoes, and a broccoli slaw with a lemon-dijon vinaigrette. See:

Buttery potato goodness.

Buttery potato goodness.

Broccoli slaw with pecans and scallions.

Broccoli slaw with pecans and scallions.

And when the timer goes off…

Remove this baby from the oven. Let it rest, while you add tomato paste, garlic, brown sugar and molasses to that juice to make a yummy sauce.

Remove this baby from the oven. Let it rest, while you add tomato paste, garlic, brown sugar and molasses to that juice to make a yummy sauce.

Get your plate ready…

IMG_1607And then garnish with a healthy helping (about 4 oz) of delicious BBQ roast.

Do your thang, Chiberia, and I'll do mine.

Do your thang, Chiberia, and I’ll do mine.

And that’s dinner.

Stay tuned for the Weekly Cocktail tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

Slow Cooker Chili + Cornbread Lovin’

Well.

The Polar Vortex is hitting this foodie pretty hard and today has been one big “Don’t Cry” challenge. I’m mildly coping, which of course means I went ahead and bought that dark chocolate, soy Turtle Mocha with whip cream from Caribou Coffee. It ain’t no Mocha Coconut Frap (or mock-cocos), but hey. There’s a frickin POLAR VORTEX.

Snow, why you gotta be so pretty but SO COLD.

Ok, ok. I digress. Ya’ll need to hear about this slow cooker chili.

Dontcha just wanna warm up with a bowl of this?

Dontcha just wanna warm up with a bowl of this?

In a crock pot, put:

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 chopped onion

2 chopped garlic cloves

1 can kidney beans

1 can white beans (any kind, really)

1 can fire roasted tomatoes with green chilies.

Salt, pepper, paprika, granulated garlic, cayenne, and chipotle pepper all to taste (get creative!)

Set the crockpot on high, and let this all simmer together for an hour.

After an hour, turn the crockpot to low, and add in about 3 cups of stock. We used homemade beef stock, and you can use that or chicken stock. OR, go vegetarian, and use water or vegetable stock. OOOHH, or mushroom stock. How yummy would that be?!?!?!

Let cook for several hours.

In the meantime, you’re going to want to make some cornbread (obviously) to go with it. I just used the Trader Joe’s cornbread mix and added the egg, milk, and oil according to the package directions. BUT, I also added, two chopped scallions, 1/2 chopped jalapeño, and 1/3 cup of shredded cheddar cheese (SHARP, please!).

Mix and Bake!

Mix and Bake!

Fill muffin tins, and cook about 18 minutes. Oooh, yeah.

When it’s time for dinner, load up your bowl of chili.IMG_1533

And grab a corn muffin.

Sweet and Spicy perfection!

Sweet and Spicy perfection!

And stuff your face.

Note: The chili, especially if you use water or veggie stock is high in protein and low in fat (but add avocado on top for the GOOD fats)–a great option for a New Year’s Resolution recipe.

Grilled Cheese Panini

I don’t care who you are, where you come from, or how you old you are. There is always something magical about waking up in the morning to something like this:

*This is actually from the woods, not our bedroom window, BUT STILL>

*This is actually from the woods, not our bedroom window, BUT STILL>

And in December! Not two weeks from Christmas!

So, go on your Winter Wonderland hike.IMG_1282

IMG_1283

And then come home, because you have a grilled cheese panini and tomato soup to make.

But not before you play with your new, special toy.

But not before you play with your new, special toy.

And begin working on your three bevies for the evening.

And begin working on your three bevies for the evening.

A wintry day, tomato soup,  and a grilled cheese is a very nostalgic combo for us lovebirds. Two years ago, when we were in the early stages of our relationship, I might have blurted out “I LOVE YOU,” after seeing him put some blue cheese into the soup he was making me. Don’t worry, guys. I quickly recovered. Smooth as ever. Yeah.

So, we got out our panini press (that’s one thing we won’t have to register for down the line), and CDR set to work on those sannies. We brushed the italian bread with some olive oil, and topped it caprese-style: Mozzarella, fresh basil, tomatoes, and a drizzle of balsamic. And obvi, you’re gonna need some parmesan to go on top.

Look at those GARGANTUAN basil leaves!

Look at those GARGANTUAN basil leaves!

Cover the sandwich with the second piece of bread and brush the top with some olive oil. Then, you’re gonna want to put it on the panini press olive-oiled bread side down and now brush the top facing bread with oil. Press.IMG_1290

IMG_1292

While these babies got warm and gooey, I just heated up some good ol’ Trader J’s creamy tomato soup. We added freshly chopped basil to the soup, because really, if you AREN’T adding fresh basil to your tomato soup, I’m not really sure what you’re doing.

YUMMY!

YUMMY!

Gooey, grilled cheese panini!

Gooey, grilled cheese panini!

Serve.

Oh, and FOR SURE, plop down in front of ELF.

"The best way to spread Christmas cheer is by singing loud for all to hear!"

“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is by singing loud for all to hear!”

On a cold winter’s night…

On a cold winter’s night, I just HAD to make roast beef. It snowed the whole day, and I was filled with CHRISTMAS SPIRIT.

Yay!

So, I dropped CDR off at his show, and assured him that when he returned, the house would smell magical, roasty, toasty, and beefy.

Then I joyously drove through the snow storm to Trader Joe’s to get a roast, a wreath, and a few other groceries….well Trader Joe’s didn’t have a roast, so I drove to two other stores until finally lucking out at Jewel (for you West Coasters—it’s Albertson’s).

So, I put all the veggies (onions, carrots, tomatoes, mushrooms, and OF COURSE potatoes) in the bottom of the roasting rack.

And so begins my winter love fest with butter potatoes!

And so begins my winter love fest with buttery potatoes!

And here’s where I goofed a little…D’OH! I wanted to make a brown sugar, smokey rub for the roast but I totally added way too much cayenne, so the rub was a little over spicy. I cooled it down by drizzling the top of the roast with honey.

Mmm, yummy!

Mmm, yummy!

Before popping it in the oven, add in some good ol' Two Buck Chuck and some water.

Before popping it in the oven, add in some good ol’ Two Buck Chuck and some water.

Pop it in the oven at 450, for about 2 hours or until internal temperature reaches 125 for rare, 130 for medium rare, 135 for medium. DO NOT TAKE THIS TO WELL DONE!

The wine and water mixed with the veggies creates a delicious sauce and gravy. But see, the problem with this particular sauce was that the rub made the sauce so spicy and there was really no turning back. What CDR suggested was that we make a compound butter. I mixed the gravy with a few tablespoons of butter (and OBVIOUSLY some fresh rosemary). We used this to spread on the yummy, rare steak, bread and veggies.

Carve it!

Carve it!

Get your veggies!

Get your veggies!

Serve!

Serve!

And demolish! It was so yummy, and while the veggies had a kick to them, the spice really didn’t overwhelm the meat.

We ate and drank wine, and plopped down for a cozy viewing of The Polar Express—arguably the most magical movie ever. EVER.

And then of course, we went for a walk in the winter wonderland!

Patty Melts. ‘Nuff Said.

So last night I decided that I needed to make a cheesecake. I needed to re-work the recipe and adjust the cooking time and the results were ok…not the greatest cheesecake I ever made, but pretty good. Once I perfect it, I’ll re-post the recipe on the cheesecake page, but the world isn’t ready yet.

For dinner, our plan was to make patty melts, and when we got home we saw that our bread had grown some mold…and a very grouchy CDR had to stifle tears. A bit of quick thinking, I figured out that we could use the Everything bagels we had on hand and CDR quickly recovered. Besides…just picture a patty melt on an everything bagel. It just begs to be served on an American Flag and eaten on the 4th of July or in the spirit of patriotism.

I set to work by first forming the patties. I mixed a little salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar into the meat for added flavor and then formed them into thin patties (for quicker cooking and bagel fitting).Image 8

Next I thinly chopped some red onion and poblano peppers (from the garden) and lightly carmelized them. And sliced some tomatoes.Image 7Image 10

I got my cast iron skillet hot and ready by melting about 3 tablespoons of butter.

When it was all nice and sizzle-y I dropped the patties in and meanwhile lightly toasted the bagels.Image 11

The patties cooked for about 3 minutes a side and then I removed them to build the bagel burger melt. We have muenster cheese, patty, tomato, carmelized peppers and onions, more cheese and ketchup and mayo. While this happened, CDR kindly (in what I’m sure was an effort to make up for his grouchiness earlier) removed the grease from the pan and put it back on the heat.

Carefully, I put each bagel burger patty melt into the skillet to get melty. This will not melt down the same way a normal patty melt would, but it’ll still get pretty damn good. Also…if you’re feeling bold and daring…flip it.

Try not to drool.

Try not to drool.

And then eat it. With a beer. Because this is America.

I ARE AMERICA AND SO CAN YOU!

I ARE AMERICA AND SO CAN YOU!

So my birthday has come and gone, and while it makes me sad because it marks the ending of summer, it also makes me a little giddy. Because my other favorite part of the year is only four months and four days away!

Christmas Bells will soon be ringing and I. Can’t. Fucking. Wait.

CHRISTMAS!!!!!

Mahi-Mahi Wraps and My Birthday

Ok. Wow. As I typed “my birthday” just now (up there ^) I realized that I didn’t have cake on my birthday…or the celebration before. I didn’t blow out any candles. Shoot. CDR, get on that! I’m mildly debilitated with sadness over this fact.

I’ll get back to my birthday wish in a second. First, I’ll tell you about the extraordinary food I’ve made/eaten these last few days. We have to rewind to Saturday.

On Saturday evening, after yet another car melt-down, CDR and I found ourselves in Trader Joe’s trying to figure out what we wanted for dinner. He was thinking maybe fish tacos and I was thinking maybe Indian food. So we compromised. Mahi-Mahi wraps with a curried mayo and ginger chutney.

Oh. My. God.

First, we sliced the fillets of fish into long strip chunks (yes, the technical term) and coated them with some turmeric, coriander, cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper.Image 1

We cooked them on a flat top grill with some red onions.Image 2

And sliced up some tomatoes.Image

Then we built our beautiful wraps. On the bottom, we spread curried mayo (mayo with curry powder, cayenne pepper, salt, and lime juice) and some jarred ginger chutney (found at Trader Joe’s). Top with fish, carmelized onions, and fresh tomatoes and ALWAYS when it comes to fish, add a little lime or lemon juice on top.Image 3

It’s so pretty, right? And sooo tasty!

The next morning, we had some left over fish and being the resident Jew of Reason, I suggested that rather than the smoked trout we had from Trader Joe’s, we put the left over mahi-mahi on a bagel with some cream cheese and the works.Image 4

Mmm, good. An onion or everything bagel is key here. It goes bagel, cream cheese, fish, tomato, red onion, capers, LIME OR LEMON JUICE, and topped with some dressed arugula.

Later that night my parents took us out to one of my favorite places, Quartino. It’s a delicious wine bar with small, delicious plates. CDR and I stayed up until midnight, because I will ALWAYS be that person that LOVES her birthday. I love my birthday.

On Monday, Birthday Morning, CDR surprised me with a yummy breakfast.Image 5

French toast with raspberry cream (he mashed raspberries with cream cheese).

It was an awesome start to the morning, and then I went off to the office meeting where about five colleagues came up to me asking where CDR and I had those delicious looking mahi-mahi wraps.  Delighted, I told them we made them.

CDR, it might be time to make ourselves a little demo tape for the Foodnetwork. Right? I mean, we’re totally an awesome duo.

That’s all for now, guys. Hope you have a good one!

P.S. CDR just informed me that he’ll make cake and candles happen tonight. Yep. We’re awesome.

Cauliflower Curry, Cry Eye, and No Drama

“Geoff!” I exclaimed as I came into his office on Wednesday for callbacks for How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. I’ve been on a six month theatrical hiatus and I am ready to come back. “I came up with our joke this summer.”

Geoff smiled, chuckled, put his pen down and said, “Okay, Anna. What is our joke this summer?”

“Well, you know how last summer was super dramatic?” Geoff guffawed in agreement. And then lowering my voice I said, “You know that ‘No Homo’ joke?” He nodded, understanding. “This summer we say ‘No Drama.’ For example, “Ugh, the set is on fire. No Drama.”

And so “No Drama” is our joke, mantra, and motto for this summer. We will not be consumed by our own drama because ain’t nobody got time for that.

It was on Wednesday that I finally began work on my book Cry Eye Fatigue Syndrome: A post grad look at life, toddlers, theater, and baking through the pain. I am exceedingly excited for this project because it will be hilarious and super therapeutic–having FINALLY gotten in touch with my rage. You can look forward to anecdotes, recipes, personal essays, and annotated previous blog entries. I promise you a raucous, rip-roaring good time.

An unedited excerpt from draft one of prologue:

“Cry Eye Fatigue Syndrome is a phrase I coined last year, during what I would say was one of the worst summers ever. CEFS is a serious condition that occurs when you have cried so many stupid tears over something so fucked up and inherently stupid, that your eyes swell up in exhausted puffiness, mascara drips down your face, and then there are no more tears—just exhausted, tired, insane laughter. CEFS is curable only by late nights with friends at Baker’s Square, chocolate, girl talk, and time. When not handled with extreme caution, CEFS can be dangerous and even deadly.”

And so the journey begins.

Anyhoozle. For the past week now, CDR and I have been battling a head-cold. Last night I took some Nyquil and it seriously has effed my shit my up. Seriously. I’m face down in my cubicle, typing this through a series of sophisticated blinks on the keyboard. Someone send help. Go home, NyQuil. You have made me drunk.

Yesterday, we needed to eat something warm, comforting, and hot enough to drain our stuffy brains through our swollen noses. I made Cauliflower curry.

I picked up this recipe when I was a nanny a few months ago. This is best served with some garlic naan bread (found frozen at Trader Joe’s). All you need is a head of cauliflower, chopped into little florets, two diced green peppers, one half of a white or yellow onion, diced. Also, cumin, coriander, turmeric, cayenne, and garam masala. Ooh. And salt. The spices are to taste, but I usually start with 1/8 tsp of cayenne, 1/4 tsp cumin, coriander, and salt, and 1/2 tsp turmeric and garam masala…and then continue to add as you like.

Cauliflower, Peppers, and Onions.

Cauliflower, Peppers, and Onions.

Warm, Colorful Spices!

Warm, Colorful Spices!

Coat the bottom of a pan with vegetable or canola oil (about 3 TBL should do it), and turn it on to medium-high heat. Sprinkle in the spices (except the salt), and toast for a bit. Then add peppers and onions and a little bit of salt to draw out moisture.

Toasty Spices.

Toasty Spices.

Peppers, Onions, Hot Saute OH MY!

Peppers, Onions, Hot Saute OH MY!

Then add the cauliflower. And a little bit more seasoning if needed. Stir and cover, and cook over low heat. This should take about twenty minutes. You want the cauliflower to get really soft. Stir every couple minutes and you got dinner.

Add the Cauliflower!

Add the Cauliflower!

Be sure to brush some melted butter over that garlic naan. Nommers.

Dinner.

Dinner.

Alright kiddos, that does it for me over here at The Cheesecake Addiction. Love, Hugs, and No Drama.

 

 

 

Real Estate, New Apartment, Menu Planning, and Seafood Tacos

Well hi there! And again, OH MY GOD SO MUCH HAPPENED.

CDR and I have moved into our new apartment and we have an adorable kitchen with stupid high cabinets, great counter space, and a dance floor.

I got a job at Weichert, Realtors-Nickel Group–a firm in Oak Park and I am open for business. The site is still under construction and will soon include a DIY Blog, but take a look here and I don’t know…maybe call me? I need clients (buyers, renters, and sellers!).

Ok, so two huge new things. Both have meant that CDR and I have to live pretty tightly. My new income is commission based, so I’m living off of savings and a little bit of support from my parents. Pretty tight living, but good living. To keep costs down, we’ve been planning our menus a week in advance. I teased him about this, for his meticulous planning, but really–it saves a ton of money. Other money savers: Buying a whole chicken, butchering it yourself, and then making your own stock. Seriously, guys. Chicken is so expensive. You probably will save between$3-$6 just buying it whole, and then butchering it yourself. And you’ll save $3-$4 dollars by making your own stock and you’ll get twice as much. Just throw the back bone and gizzards into a pot or slow cooker with herbs, lemon, garlic, onions, veggies (really whatever you want) and cover with water. Simmer in a pot for an hour, or slow cook as long as you want, strain and jar it up. Keep in the fridge for a week or store it in the freezer for a couple months. Totally worth it. I’ve found that my favorite stock was made with a sliced lemon, a bunch of fresh cilantro, and a couple cloves of unpeeled garlic (salt and pepper to taste). Yep. That’s it. And you’ve saved about $10 total. Do this once a week and each month you’ll have enough wings to do a “wing night” for two. 🙂

Do the same with leftover veggies and make vegetable stock.

OK. Food time. Before we moved and on a night when the weather was particularly awesome and we were feeling close to our SoCal roots, we decided that seafood tacos with a chipotle sauce were the only way to go. SO, we went to Whole Foods and bought some calamari and shrimp. We let them marinate for about 15 minutes in some lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.marinatingseafood

And meanwhile, CDR made the chipotle sauce. Pretty sure it’s just mayo mixed with a bit of dijon and some adobo sauce from a can of chipotles. And maybe some lime juice and cider vinegar.

Fancy.

Fancy.

Then we skewered the seafood and grilled it (I, as always, was in charge of the grilling–because, you, know…I’m a grillin’ machine).grillintime

Holler!

Holler!

We created our taco assembly line.

Red onion, tomato, cilantro, avocado, limes, seafood, and corn tortillas

Red onion, tomato, cilantro, avocado, limes, seafood, and corn tortillas

And assembled some bad-ass SoCal tacos. Drizzle with fresh lime juice and chipotle sauce. Serve with beans and rice and you got yourself the best damn tacos ever!

These babies fell from Heaven and right into my tum tum!

These babies fell from Heaven and right into my tum tum!

Ok, actually, the shrimp was a little weird. But I’m very particular about my shrimp. I think it was slightly under-done or something, but the calamari was perfect. The trouble is that when you’re skewering shrimp, it curls up. And usually, a curled shrimp is the way to tell doneness, but if it starts out curly it’s all a timing thing. But typically 3 minutes on one side and 2-3 on the other is pretty good for shrimp.

So yeah. Seafood tacos. A win.

Thanks for stopping by, and don’t forget to tell your friends I’m a fancy realtor in Chicago now. 🙂

Love and Foodie Hugs.

So this is Christmas…Again.

annaxmaseveOne year and one day ago I posted this. A post with the same title and lessons similar to the ones I learned this year. I wrote:
” 1.If you lose yourself, don’t hate yourself. You’ll put the pieces back together.
2. If you feel caged, just jump. Do it. Feeling a weight on your heart isn’t worth it.
3. When you are sad, don’t listen to Melissa Etheridge.
4. If you are bursting at the seams, don’t hold it in. Scream, laugh, cry or do whatever you have to do. As Marilyn said, “If you can’t handle me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best.”
5. Sometimes, it’s okay to sleep in. The world can wait.
So this year, I’ve decided is my year of pushing my boundaries. I will take more risks and allow myself to be more vulnerable. I will heal and cleanse my mind and body and nourish them with joy. I will let loose. I do not need to be so tightly wound. I will go to bed late and dammit! I will dance on a table this year.”

So, I have two days to dance on a table. I’ll come back to that in a second…erm, a paragraph. If you read often, you know what a rough ride the past six months have been. And I know. You’re tired of hearing it. But isn’t the new year the time to be pensive and reflective? Of everything mentioned above, I did it all…except the table thing. I took risks, allowed myself to be vulnerable, I healed and cleansed, felt extreme joy, and you know…I did let loose. A year ago, my anxieties would have kept me home rather than going on an awesome (yes, I said awesome) trip to Canada or to Beach State Park when I was aching for clarity. The past month has been easier on the heart and body–stepping away from theater helped a lot. I am less tired and much more capable of handling the ridiculous ” you’re happy now” photos that Facebook throws at me. Bring it on!

Before I tell you about my delicious Christmas roast, please humor me a few more sentences. While I will remember this year for the lessons I learned, I think I’ll remember this year more for the…well…the snapshot memories. If I could choose a lesson that accurately depicts the whole year, I’d say it is: Cherish it. Cherish the pain, the joy, the breaths, the friends, the theater, the laughter, the love. Cherish Chris, Miriam, Wendy, Geoff, Gabby, Emily, Paul, and the countless others that got me through. Cherish the sun tan from that one terrible pier-side day that STILL won’t fade. I’ll remember always Canada, graduation, Rent (oh, I’ll never forget Rent). Some Nights reminds me of excruciating summer nights and Katy Perry reminds me of Paul car dancing.

When all is said and done, have you said everything there is to say? Do the people in your life know exactly how you feel about them? Has everything been made right on your part? I am not sure I can say much in the way of accomplishments this year–but I can answer “yes” to those questions. And that’s good enough for now.

So thanks guys. Now, forChristmas Eve this year, I made another standing rib roast. I coated it with the help of a smokey, peppery brown sugar rub (made by the awesome CDR). Cooked it fat side up, searing at 500 for twenty minutes, and then continued cooking for two hours at 350 until medium rare. The flavor was unbelievable. Incredible BBQ taste. Delicious bark and tender, juicy meat. Soo good.

COAT it with the rub! Mm, mmm, good!

COAT it with the rub! Mm, mmm, good!

Out of this world!

Out of this world!

As an appetizer, I also made Brie en Croute. My standard recipe. Just bake Brie and a honey, rosemary, cranberry mixture in puff pastry until golden brown.

put honey mixture in the center.

put honey mixture in the center.

wrap pastry around it.

wrap pastry around it.

Serve!

Serve!

And of course I made a cheesecake. And honestly, it was the best one I ever made. Extra creamy, crumbly crust. Outstanding and hats off to myself. Yay.

‘And a Merry Christmas to your family.’

Fancy Fish and Cookies

Hey guys!

I’m kind of in a hurry to clean my room for the cleaning lady tomorrow (oh come on, we all know that chestnut) SO, I’ll try to make this as brief as possible–with little heart-felt yammerings.

Yammerings: This week I started my new job as a nanny, and it was a little rough, but mostly pretty great. The paycheck was nice too. Still looking to fill five more hours of childcare and/or personal assistant work on Thursdays…so please feel free to hit me up (I know, not so heartfelt). I had a wonderful girl’s lunch with Gabs and Em on Thursday and it was exactlt what all of us needed. Two whole hours of laughter. And yesterday, I saw A Christmas Carol and Paul was my date for the evening. He even accompanied me for late night tacos. Thanks, bud. A little bit each day, I feel like I’m a little less on the crazy train. A little bit. Please note that as I say this, I have six GIANT sheets of blank paper strewn about my room that I have to turn into backdrops for the Christmas pageant. There’s a million canvases and articles of clothing thrown around and between me and the computer screen I have: a toiletry bag, a Victoria’s Secret perfume box, a journal, Nine Kinds of Naked, two pill bottles (left over from the pneumonia), an inhaler, sheet music, a notebook, an old mp3 player, insurance papers, a necklace, a hair clip, Pier 1 reed diffuser fragrance, and about $8.50 in change (dimes and pennies). So. A while still on the crazy train.

BUT. On Friday night, I decided that I would make CDR a fancy date-night dinner. I decided that the menu would be grilled salmon, orzo-stuffed tomatoes, and a kale, spinach, and red pepper saute. All in all, pretty fantabulous. We paired it with a delightful pinot grigio (but keep in mind that with salmon, you could really go either way–white or red) and enjoyed ourselves on a makeshift indoor picnic blanket.

Oooh la la, que bueno!

Oooh la la, que bueno!

To make these dreamy little balls of heaven (pretend I came up with something better to say), you simply hollow out tomatoes and sprinkle them with a little S&P. Reserve the liquid from the tomatoes, because you can use it to cook the orzo (or rice, or cous cous, or whatever). In a small saucepan, toast two tabelspoons of butter, 1 sliced shallot, and 1 clove of garlic. When the butter has melted, add 1 1/2 cups of orzo and lightly toast. Pour in the tomato liquid and chicken stock and cook orzo until done (about 8 min). Make a breadcrumb topping by combining breadcrumbs and a variety of herbs (I used parsley, basil, and rosemary) with salt, pepper, and olive oil (HINT: also add some parm. I was out of cheese, so I couldn’t do that part). When the orzo is done, stir in half of the breadcrumb mixture and fill the tomatoes (you’ll have orzo left over for later). Sprinkle the tops of the ‘maters with the rest of the bread crumb mixture, drizzle with a little bit more olive oil, and throw them under a low broiler for a few minutes. Delish, is really all that I can say.

It didn't even taste healthy!

It didn’t even taste healthy!

For the kale and spinach mixture, first chop a shallot and a clove of garlic and bring it to temperature with a bit of olive oil and butter (1 1/2 TBL total). Also, if you’d like (and I liked) add 1/2 tsp of red chili flake. Then add 1 sliced red bell pepper at saute 2 min. Add one bunch of kale and one bunch of spinach (this stuff wilts down to almost nothing, so if you’re cooking for more than 2, be sure account for that), and saute until it wilts, but still has a bit of a bite to it. Sprinkle in a dash of nutmeg, too. It brings out the flavor of greens.Now, for this salmon–I went a little outside my fish comfort zone. Usually, I just like to drizzle with a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper it and be done with it, because I like to keep the fish as pure and as simple as possible. BUT, I thought, what the hell? Make it herbacious, right? So, about ten minutes before I threw it on the grill, I slathered it with some honey mustard, basil, parsley, rosemary, salt, pepper, and a little bit of lemon juice. Slathered may not be the right word…because I definitely just lightly coated it. Threw it on the grill 4 min a side (I took it a little far. 3 min a side would have been better) The flavor was unbelievable and the skin was crispy.

Look how yumy!!

Look how yumy!!

This has CDR's stamp of approval!

This has CDR’s stamp of approval!

Now, with Friday night’s successful dinner, I thought I’d make fancy Christmas cookies on Saturday morning. They really aren’t that fancy. They’re sugar cookies with some chopped rosemary. Couldn’t be easier. Everyone has their own favorite sugar cookie recipe, so just use that and add about 1 tablespoon of chopped FRESH rosemary, and it gives your cookies a wonderful pine, Christmas flavor.

I wish YOU a Merry Christmas!

I wish YOU a Merry Christmas!

So maybe this year we give Santa a little sophistication and leave him some nice rosemary-sugar cookies. They’re delectable, and quite perfect for those of us that want to feel a little grown-up this Christmas.

Make enough for reindeer!

Make enough for reindeer!

Ciao, guys. I have a room to clean.

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