Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Olympic Martini and The Outlaw Josey Wales

I apologize for being a bit spotty on my blog these last two weeks.  I'm on vacation and decided to give myself I bit of a break.  I'll be back with guns a blazing next week.  In fact, I'll watch High Plains Drifter and The Outlaw Josey Wales just to really get in the spirit of having my guns actually a blazing.  When I was a kid, I watched The Outlaw Josey Wales over and over again.  In fact, I perfected the tobacco spitting thing Clint Eastwood did  in that movie.  I would suck on chocolate and then spit it at homemade targets.  My mom caught me and I got in trouble.  She told me, "ladies don't spit chocolate at trees."  That pretty much ended my spitting...at least, spitting where I might get caught again.  I became a really good secret spitter.  Speaking of spitting,  did you know that the Texas Horned Lizard confuses and scares predators by surprise squirting a gross tasting blood excretion from the sinuses behind its eyes.  Doing this takes up like a quarter of the lizard's blood.  The lizard also eats over 200 ants per day.  I find useless knowledge to be quite useful when randomly dropped in everyday conversation.  I feel like it impresses and scares people.

Not to long ago, I posted a recipe for a Lemon Drop Martini (click here for recipe).  Since the Summer Oympics are in full-force, I think you should make that martini or your favorite martini or even champagne (said like Christopher Walken on SNL) and add some life-savers.  Any good homo knows that major events are just good excuses to be extra festive, totally themed and a way to throw out an above average amount of jazz hand gestures.  Enjoy.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

St Augustine and Pork Shank Osso Bucco

We really enjoyed our little trip to St Augustine, Florida.  Sure, it was extremely hot, but it is also July and air conditioning havens were all around.  One of the best things was the Wild Reserve.  It was mostly big cats.  You get to visit at feeding time.  They have a 600 pound tiger (not even the biggest of their cats) with food aggression issues.  Watching this tiger lunge toward its food bowl, hover over it, growl and show its teeth was amazing and scary, considering we were less than five feet away with just a chain-link fence between us.  We also really enjoyed the Castillo de San Marcos.  Construction on that fort started in 1672.  There was so much to see, it is likely we’ll have to go back to see it all…next time, we’ll just go back in the fall or winter.  While it is great to be able to get in the water at the beach, it is also pretty nice to wear a coat, sit on the beach and read.  It is a far trade for not sweating your face off with thousands of other tourists...come to think of it; there are fewer obnoxious tourists in the winter, too.  Winning.

We toured the Old Jail.  I can never put my face all the way in these circle cut-outs.  I can't help thinking of all the filth on the faces that came before me.

Old Drugstore.  Everything is called old in St Augustine...mostly because it is all old.  After all, it is America's Oldest City.

All 4' 11" of Ponce de Leon.  This picture was taken on the grounds of the Fountain of Youth.

This is Magnolia Avenue.  It is rated one of America's prettiest streets.  It really should be called Oak Avenue since those are Oak Trees instead of Magnolia Trees.

Hanging out at Castillo de San Marcos

This is the Old Senator.  So named because it is crooked and shady.  This live Oak tree is over 660 years old.

This is the former Ponce de Leon Hotel.  This hotel was built by the wealthy Henry Flagler.  It is now Flagler College.

One of the really memorable meals I had in St Augustine was at Red Frog & McToads Grub and Pub.  I tried their mini pork shank osso bucco (picture of dish is top left of webpage) and it was amazing!  I’m going to try to cook this at home and see if I get the same delicious results.

Berkshire Pork Osso Bucco Recipe
4-6 meaty slices of pork shank, cut 1.5 inches thick
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup carrots diced
1/3 cup onions diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock
Ground black pepper to taste
Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the shanks and brown on both sides. Remove the shanks from the Dutch oven. Reduce the heat to medium, and add the carrots, onions, celery and garlic. Cook and stir until the vegetables have softened-5 to 10 minutes. Add the wine, chicken stock, salt and black pepper. Add the shanks back to the stock and bring to a boil. Put the Dutch oven into the oven and cook the shanks for one to two hours, or until fork-tender.

Remove the Dutch oven from the oven and prepare the Gremolata.

2 tablespoons fresh flat-leafed parsley, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons lemon zest, grated

Check the shanks that they are fully cooked. Take the shanks out of the pot. Reduce the liquid in the Dutch Oven by half and add the gremolata, a classic Northern Italian seasoning. Return shanks to the pot.

Serve the Osso Bucco with risotto or polenta sprinkled with Romano cheese.  McToad’s served it with mashed potatoes and brown red-wine gravy.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Crescents - WTF and WOW Recipe Wednesday

Well...this seems perfectly safe.  I'm not sure why I hadn't thought of mailing myself places.  Imagine the delightful surprise when you mail yourself home for Christmas...naked.

I wanted so bad to be a combination of Wonder Woman and Han Solo when I was a kid.  I also wanted to travel to Fantasy Island on the Love Boat.  Now, I just wish I'd had my own snake babysitter.  I was denied the sweet embrace of a large constrictor.  FML.

Isn't this always the way.  Ironically, this very thing happened at my family's last Easter get-together and I forgot my camera.  FML...again.

This recipe is because college football will be starting in less than 40 days.  It is time to start thinking about game time appetizers.  It just is…

Buffalo Chicken Crescents

8 fully cooked fried chicken fingers
4 slices provolone cheese, cut in half
1 can crescent rolls
¾ cup buffalo wing sauce
¼ cup ranch dressing, plus additional for dipping

Preheat oven to 375.  Separate crescent rolls into 8 triangles.  Pour wing sauce and ¼ cup ranch dressing in a bowl.  Place one half slice of provolone cheese on top of crescent rolls.  Dunk chicken finger into wing sauce and place on top of cheese.  Roll up crescent and place on cookie sheet.  Repeat with remaining fingers and crescents.  Bake 18-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Monday, July 23, 2012

X-Wing Fighter Craft and Wizard Cupcakes

I made a few things last week.  Then I took some pictures of the things I made.  Now, I’m posting them on my blog.  Next, I’m going to add links so you can make this stuff, too.  Later.

Click Here for DirectionsTo save money, instead of a memory chip I just cut a craft stick to fit.

Click Here for Directions

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Baked Spinach & Artichoke Dip Poppers and Ramekin Chocolate Chip Cake

I’ve shared before my love of cooking things in ramekins.  Little tiny portions of food just appeal to me.  I find them almost as adorable as little tiny, perfectly-proportioned people called primordial dwarfs.  I’ve also mentioned on several occasions my affinity for dips.  I usually make too much dip and have some leftover.  I usually throw it out to avoid pulling the leftovers out of the fridge, sticking my face in it and eating it all in clear view of my neighbors.  With the recipe below, there is no need to throw it out…just create another appetizer in and eat in a smaller, more dignified portion. On our current diet, Tiffany and I get one cheat night per week.  I’m thinking these two dishes are what I might be making.

Ramekin Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

1 tbsp. butter, melted
1 tbsp. white sugar
1 tbsp. brown sugar
3 drops of vanilla
pinch of salt
1 egg yolk
1/4 c. flour
2 tbsp. chocolate chips

In a bowl, mix together the butter, sugars, vanilla, and egg yolk. Add in the flour and salt. Mix until combined. Add in the chocolate chips. Put the dough into a small microwaveable bowl, ramekin, or coffee cup. Microwave for 40-60 seconds or until the cookie looks done. Best served warm… Enjoy!


Baked Spinach & Artichoke Dip

1 14 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and finely chopped
1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese (regular or light – not fat free)
1/4 cup mayo
1/4-1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
1 garlic clove, finely crushed
salt & pepper
grated Parmesan or mozzarella, for sprinkling on top
Preheat oven to 350F.
Pulse the artichoke hearts and spinach with the sour cream or yogurt in a food processor until roughly chopped and blended. In a bowl, mash together the cream cheese, mayo, Parmesan cheese, garlic and salt and pepper; stir in the artichoke-spinach mixture and spread in a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese and bake until heated through and bubbly, about 25 minutes. Serve warm with tortilla chips or sliced soft, crusty baguette. Or refrigerate until firm to make dip poppers.

To make dip poppers: chill the baked and cooled dip overnight, or up to a few days. Heat a couple inches of canola oil in a pot set over medium-high heat and roll the chilled dip into walnut-sized balls. While your canola oil is heating in a heavy skillet or shallow pot (enough to come almost halfway up the side of the balls) beat an egg in a shallow bowl, and some Panko (crispy Japanese breadcrumbs) or dry breadcrumbs in another bowl and a bit of flour in a third.
When the oil is hot but not smoking (it should sizzle around a bit of bread dropped in), dredge the balls of dip first in flour, then in egg and Panko, and gently drop them a few at a time into the oil. (Don’t crowd the pan, or it will cool the oil down too much.) Cook until golden on one side, then flip and cook on the other. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate and serve warm.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

17 Year Anniversary

Wednesday my partner and I celebrated our 17 year anniversary.   During that time, we’ve been called a lot of not so nice things.  My personal favorites are, “a phase,” “an embarrassment” and “an abomination.”  People have also said our “lifestyle” is a choice or a preference.  I hope just the duration of time and the commitment we have to one another is enough to prove all that wrong, but I know that is still years down the road.  It is hard to understand that someone was just born the way they are and that is just that.  People have to explain in terms of making a choice or living in sin to justify differences.  Over the years, what I’ve discovered is this negativity actually helps fuel my positivity.  Everyone is entitled to their beliefs.  We just happen to live our lives together in a way we feel makes us right with the Universe.  We both have jobs in which we give back to the community.  We treat people the way we want to be treated.  We don’t judge others.  We try to be a positive force by maintaining good attitudes.  We respect and appreciate that people are different and that’s what makes us unique.  These are the choices that we make, while our lifestyle was not a choice, but a fact. 

Our plan is to keep doing our thing and living or lives openly and unashamedly.  One of the ways we plan to celebrate our anniversary (we celebrate for a few weeks) is by eating at chick-fil-a.  I’m pretty sure our money spends just as well as everyone else’s money.  I’m actually quite surprised that people are so shocked by chick-fil-a’s stance on same sex marriage…didn’t you always know that’s what they thought?  They can actually take the money we will spend on chicken for our anniversary and put it directly toward that agenda.  I’m totally comfortable with that because the bottom line is it won’t stop the progressive train that is changing people’s opinions about homosexuals.  At the end of the day, chick-fil-a will have served a meal to two lesbians who were celebrating 17 years of happiness, positivity and normalcy and all the money made on chicken sandwiches and donated to anti-human rights causes will never take that away.  The fact that we will eat there also makes us the bigger people…figuratively and literally.