Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Meddlesome Moth, and the French in Texas

The boys at Meddlesome Moth

Greg and I paid a long-overdue visit to Fort Worth to see his family. We had a great time, promised to visit more often, and discovered some pretty happening spots in Dallas.  

After a full day of play with the 2 1/2 year old and the 5 year old granddaughters (more exhausting than an extended workout but more fun), we met up with the Partridge clan (Greg's sister and family) at a place called Meddlesome Moth which has all these amazing rotating beers on tap from the far reaches of the globe, and totally delish food. This place is located in a former tile display showroom in the Design District with over 50 kinds of flooring and interesting stained glass windows. No recession happening here. I opted for a Czech something-I-cannot-possibly-pronounce.

Then, we headed over to Toulouse Cafe and Bar. Ahh, a little bit of French Bruxelles right in Texas, complete with the prerequisite French cafe chairs, murals and framed posters and yes, bone marrow on the menu. And some of the most perfectly made frites I've had on this side of the pond, accompanied by homemade aioli that served as a perfect foil for the frites through its tang of champagne vinegar. Note to self: begin working out at least two hours a day, three times a day...

Tile mural a la Toulouse

'Green Room' mussels - with jalapeno, shiitakes, champagne and garlic

Sunday morning was the traditional 'Wafflemania' at the Masons (Greg's daughter and our granddaughters) with a side of light sabre play to work up an appetite for breakfast. Nadia is so conditioned to Wafflemania that she'll ask her mom about it incessantly, making sure she pronounces 'waffle' just like Donkey does in Shrek. That little habit was created of course by Papa (Greg) - shocker.

The obligatory light sabre duel
All good weekends must come to an end, and so we headed back to Houston, a few pounds heavier and more tired but happy. This is a busy and ambitious week, and so I'm off to the races!
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Friday, January 27, 2012

What's for dinner? Breakfast.

The most recent group get-together carried a theme of 'breakfast for dinner.' Confession: breakfast stuff is okay but for me, lots of it falls into the make-your-stomach-ache sweet category which subsequently sends you into a food coma, searching for the nearest corner to curl up and hibernate until further notice. 

No, it's not fancy. But it tastes delish.
So, I did what any self-respecting savory foodie would do - made a chile cheese casserole. It was an amalgamation of a couple of recipes and I used the oh-so-careful measuring method (yeah that looks about right - throw it in here) and had some doubts when it was cooking. But, the group all said it was awesome and there was only a petit-four sized bite left.

I put this in a 9x13 baking dish. You can also do a smaller version for a smaller gathering, reducing everything proportionately.

Chile and Cheese Casserole

1 (5 or 6 oz.) can evaporated milk
6 eggs
About 6-7 large Poblano chiles, roasted & peeled

About 4-5 cloves of garlic, roasted in their skins in foil with olive oil
1 small can diced green chiles 
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper
2 tbsp. flour or corn starch
1-2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, grated
1-2 cups sharp Cheddar cheese, grated

About 3/4 cup jarred chipotle enchilada sauce 

To make it:

The poblanos are easy to peel after they've cooled and steamed a bit
1. Put Poblanos on large baking sheet so they don't touch. Spray with non-stick spray. Place in preheated 375 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes until they blister, begin to get dark brown and fill the kitchen with a nice smell. Take them out and let them cool before peeling.

2. About 15-20 minutes after you have started the Poblanos, put your cloves of garlic in a little foil packet, drizzle with just enough olive oil to make them a little shiny, close the packet and put it in the oven. Your nose and ears will tell you when it's done between the wonderful wafting garlic smell and distinctive bubbling sound in the packet.

These were small cloves so I used a lot
3. Now, cut your Poblanos into little strips (discarding the seeds), about 1/2 inch wide by 1 to 1 1/2 inches long. Remove roasted garlic from skins and chop. Add to this bowl. Mix in the green chiles from the can.

4. In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, evaporated milk, baking powder, salt, pepper and flour or corn starch. I used an electric hand mixer.

5. Use non-stick spray to coat the 9x13 pan, then place half the chilies in the pan and cover with half the cheeses. Add another layer of chilies, then another layer of cheese. Pour egg mixture on top. 

Side view of the melty goodness
6. Bake 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven until it begins to turn golden, then remove and drizzle the enchilada sauce in a nice zig-zag pattern. Put back in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove and let it firm up prior to serving. This is good hot, or just warm. 
Serves up to 12 depending on how much people take!

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

To iPhone or Not To iPhone

...that is the question! If Shakespeare were living today, this may have been a dichotomy for him as well.

Technology Squared!
So yesterday, I too was seduced by the iPhone. I am quite sure that I heard the song of the siren when I walked into the Sprint store. If you have read Homer's "Odyssey", then you know that the Sirens sing a song so irresistible that none can hear it and escape. Alas, I am now trapped! Sucked into the iPhone culture and destined to a life that condemns those who would carry another type of smart device that does not start with a lower case "i". I can no longer look at a cloud in the sky and call it by that name because the only cloud of value is the iCloud. A virtual place where magic happens and apps are born.

It is truly insidious as this new technology begins to take over one's life. It forces me to write in the third person because this surely cannot be happening to me? Was life really less complicated and less busy for me just 24 hours ago? Aren't I more productive? Is it now impossible for me to tap out a text message because I have been enabled by a woman named Siri who will do this for me and even ask me politely to confirm and validate her work? Do I no longer need a map nor even any conscious knowledge of where I am in the entire time and space continuum. May I forever quit remembering useless trivia like where I live, or what is on my schedule and when, or the mathematical constant known as Pi, or where to locate a recipe to bake a pie? Have I become so enabled and efficient that I will have more knowledge even as I become less wise from an atrophy to my brain? Will my ADHD and OCD tenancies be aided and improved in a world where technology makes my very own intelligence artificial?

Had Shakespeare had an iPhone perhaps he would have faced a similar conundrum so profound as to write Hamlet as a comedy; leaving the tragedy to those who would succumb to the 2nd greatest temptation in history involving an apple. One thing I do know for sure, he could have gotten Siri to get him the definition for "soliloquy" in less than 30 seconds...'tis noble indeed!
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Friday, January 13, 2012

The Deconstructed Beanie Burger

Last night, I decided to use some ingredients that were in the kitchen while sneaking in some healthy eats. 

 Enter the deconstructed spicy black bean burgers with purple potato oven fries!

Deconstructed beanie burger
This is super easy - for the burgers do this:
- Carmelize onions in a pan with cooking spray and set aside
- Heat up a tortilla to act as the 'base' for each burger (just heat on each side until golden and bubbly)
- Now, heat the spicy black bean veggie burgers from Morningstar Farms - when you flip the burgers, put just a tablespoon or two of mozzarella on each and cover the pan to melt them
- Create your 'deconstruction' on the plate - tortilla, burger with cheese and onion, tomato slices, Romaine lettuce and a jalapeno dill pickle spear (I stuck a toothpick in the middle to stack it nicely)
- Serve with your fave condiment if you like (I do a bit of EVOO mayo with Sriracha and salt/pepper/onion powder/garlic powder)
- Optional - sprinkle with a modest amount of decadent salt, such as alderwood smoked sea salt (those are the funny specks in this pic - love my different salts!)

Purple potato oven 'fries'
For added enjoyment, try your hand at oven 'fried' purple potatoes. As Greg can attest, I've been very keen on these potatoes because their texture is lovely, they naturally lower blood pressure and they are kind of alien looking (and therefore cool). 

Slice your potatoes and throw in a bowl; drizzle with olive oil and salt/pepper/garlic powder/paprika/cayenne powder (whatever you like; experiment a bit). Throw onto a large round pizza stone which has been preheated in a 400 degree oven. Bake for about 35 minutes - watch it carefully so that the potatoes are nicely crisp on the outside but not burned. These look better in real life than they do in the photo, FYI....

Totally YUM! 

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

When the hamster jumps off the wheel ...

... does the wheel keep spinning?

I've spent the past few years much as a hamster runs like mad on a wheel. And like a hammie, I'd sometimes get ahead of myself and trip, or fall a bit behind and get flung off the fast-moving wheel. 

Hamsters have an irresistible desire and need to jump on the wheel and run, run, run. They don't question why - they just keep running. And that's what I was doing. Moving in place, and lacking a sense of purpose - maybe I was just afraid to stop moving at top speed.

So now, I need to train myself to focus on good things in life, like eating better...

Exploring my creative side...

Hanging out...

...and just chilling for a bit. 

The wheel is going nowhere. 

And I'll take it for a spin again soon. 

But this time around, I'll do it with purpose, greater meaning and joy!

And maybe, just maybe, I'll get somewhere. 

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Sunday, January 1, 2012

Bad News, Good News, Rinse, Repeat...

Earlier today, our car broke down with what appears to be a blown radiator hose (let's hope that is all) while we were traveling back to Houston after our holiday visit to upstate NY.

Bad News: Blown hose has left no coolant in the radiator

Good News: It happened 8 miles east of Meridian, MS 

Bad News: It happened 8 miles east of Meridian, MS 

Good News: We made it to a Drury Inn that is dog friendly, with free wi-fi and free breakfast 

Bad News: There are no repair shops open today and possibly tomorrow 

Good News: We can walk next door to Buffalo Wild Wings 

Bad News: I told Brooke I would cut back on wings starting January 1 

Good News: I did not state what year I would start cutting back on wings 

Bad News: Brooke's understanding of the wings agreement may not sync with mine 

Good News: She is fair minded especially due to the automobile crisis 

Bad News: The CFT (Crisis Fairness Theory) has not been previously tested 

Good News: I am a skilled negotiator 

Bad News: Brooke is a more highly skilled negotiator 

Good News: At least I will have wing-fueled happiness 

Bad News: If Brooke isn't happy, there isn't a wing in the world that is worth it... 

Good News: This is only a temporary set-back 

Bad News: Temporary has a broad interpretation range 

Good News:  There are far worse things than being in Meridian, MS within walking distance of Bdubs

We are safe, we did not burn up the motor and we definitely will not starve anytime soon!  Happy New Year to all and our wishes to everyone is for a joyful and prosperous 2012.
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