Saturday, January 19, 2008

George is born again

OK. Let's see what kind of rude comments this one generates on You Tube.
Here is a video of George escaping from a duffle bag.
He went into the bag on his own.
Then manfriend zipped it up.
Of course I had to record it for posterity.
Am I am bad cat mom? Maybe.
But the cat doesn't seem to mind the games we play.
Heck, he really seems to like all the attention.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I feel like chicken tonight, like chicken tonight

An update on the table: It was delivered during my weekend and I got it all set up.

Turns out the chairs were already assembled. That was so nice.

All I had to do was put the table together and flip it upright and put the chairs around it.

Assembly meant attaching the legs, which had two bolts each, with a couple washers and the nuts. The set even came with the appropriate little wrench.

Now, I got it all together and should have waited for manfriend to get here to help me flip it over, but I have no patience.

I really wanted to see how it looks in my house.

So I used brute force and lifted the whole thing up and over.

Yes, I know it was not the smartest thing. No, I did not hurt myself.

It looks sooooooooooooooo nice in there! I dressed it up with a crystal bowl full of lemons from my tree.

Even manfriend, when he came over for dinner, said how well it fit in with the rest of my stuff.

Of course he also said I now need a couch upgrade. But that will have to wait.
The cats have mostly ignored it so far. I hope this trend continues. George did have to check out the underside of the table to make sure I did a good job with assembly. And later Aspen was playing musical chairs. But I think it will be OK and they will not do too much damage.
The table is set up at full extension right now, which is 83". I am leaving it that way until after the party. I also have stamping at my house this weekend and with nine of us, we will need the space.
Without the leaf it will be about 60" and seat six easily.
I decided I needed to make a nice dinner to properly christen the new dining set.

So I made a mixed green salad with creamy dill and caper dressing served in a parmesan basket.

Basically this meant a bag of nice mixed baby lettuces and using the leftover crab cake dressing as salad dressing. Hey, it was good. Why waste it?

I made the little parmesan baskets by sprinkling shredded parmesan into a nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Once the cheese was golden on the bottom and started to firm up, I flipped it, cooked side up, onto the bottom of a drinking glass and formed the basket.
I put the tossed salad into the basket and added some tomato chunks.
For the dinner, I was going to make chicken piccata. I like the lemon and caper sauce of a piccata. But I have made that several times and decided to try something a bit different.

So I went with chicken pomodoro.

Here is what I did:

2 chicken breast steaks (4 breast steaks would work with this, too. But I only needed the two.)
salt and pepper
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup vodka
1 cup vegetable broth (chicken will work, I just happened to have veggie)
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 cup chopped tomatoes (I used romanitas and cut them into about 1/2 inch chunks)
4 tbsp. cream
1/3 cup chopped chives
Heat oil in a large sautee pan.
Pound chicken down a bit to flatten it.
(I did not make this cutlet-flat. I just wanted an even depth to the pieces for even cooking.)
Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
Cook chicken on medium-high heat until browned, then flip it and brown other side.
I let the chicken cook covered on low heat until it was done. Sorry, I forgot to time this part.
Remove the chicken and set aside.

Combine vodka, broth and lemon juice.
Away from heat, add the liquid to the pan and deglaze it.
Put the pan back over a high heat and let it reduce by about a third. The alcohol will cook away.
Gently stir in tomatoes and cream.
Add chicken back into the sauce and give it a couple minutes to reheat.
Add chives.

I served the chicken and sauce over some spaghetti rigate, which is a spaghetti with some grooves in it so the sauce has something to cling to.
This was a fairly thin sauce, which I like sometimes. It was pretty light even with the cream. Overall, I think the amount of cream was pretty small for the amount of sauce. Plus I made extra sauce and pasta to have for leftover.
I served simple steamed green beans on the side.

This was a very nice presentation and would be another great dinner party dish.
It is even pretty easy for every day.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Hey, whatever works

Before heading out for errands and lunch yesterday, I had my manfriend help me drag my old dining table and three remaining (rickety) chairs out into the driveway.
It was a bit on the low-class side, I know.

We were gone for about three hours.

As we turned into my neighborhood, I asked "How much you wanna bet that table is gone?"

He said something to the effect of "It's not like someone can just put that in the car. It might not be gone yet."

We had speculated earlier in the day that maybe part of it would be gone. Like maybe the table would be gone, but the chairs would still be there or vice versa.

When we got home...

Gone. All of it.
Which is pretty good considering I live on a very quiet street in a very quiet neighborhood.

Now I have this old desk in my garage. Maybe if I drag that out into my driveway next weekend...

Manfriend said there is going to be someone driving by my house every Sunday looking to see what I have left in the driveway.

So how would you go about getting rid of stuff like that? I put the desk on craigslist and got no hits. I put the desk and the table on a company classifieds listing and got no hits.

The driveway really seems to work.

I love crab cakes!

Yesterday was filled with running around town. I had to go to the bank and there were some other places I wanted to go.

Manfriend decided to go with me, but he did not want to go to the bank since I did not know how long it would take.

So I dropped him at the bookstore on my way and then came back for him a bit later. We planned to do some more errands and then get a late lunch.

Now I cannot, C-A-N-N-O-T go into a bookstore without gravitating toward the cookbook section. And darn those sneaky bookstore people, they rearranged the place since I had been in there last. But I found those cookbooks.

And of course I bought. Three.

I got "Everyday Italian" by Giada De Laurentiis. For a skinny chick, she does have some great recipes. I got "Tangy, Tart, Hot and Sweet" by Padma Lakshmi. It sounded like there would be some big-flavor recipes in there and I figured I would give another skinny chick the benefit of the doubt when it comes to being able to cook.

But the one that really caught my eye was "I Love Crab Cakes: 50 Recipes for an American Classic."

Yes. I do love crab cakes, too. And so does manfriend.

After the bookstore, we went a couple other places then decided to grab a beer, get some appetizers and watch a bit of the Cowboys-Giants game.

After that we came home and I was looking through that crab cake book. I was not at all hungry, but I knew later on I would want something for dinner, though probably not a whole meal.

I quickly checked my fridge and pantry. I had almost everything I needed to make my own, simple version of crab cakes.

I thought about making one from the book, but I want to really look at those and decide on one and take the proper time to make them.

So after a quick inventory, I went to the store. I needed to get milk anyway for my tea, so it wasn't like I was making a trip just for crab cake fixings.

Plus, turns out I had all the stuff I needed except an ear of corn.

Yes, for those of you who know me, I put corn in them. My aversion to corn is pretty much just for the canned and frozen stuff. And I don't like it in soups.

But in the crab cakes, it gives a nice crunch and a bit of sweetness to use the fresh, white corn.

I even had the good, crab claw meat in my fridge. I had bought it over the holidays planning on a deviled crab or crab cakes anyway and the date on it was good until March. Sweet.

So, my simplified crab cakes, with no measurements because I eyeball everything:

Crab meat
bread crumbs
lemon juice
red chili paste
red onion
white corn (raw, cut off the ear)
dash of sea salt

I mixed it all up together, formed the cakes and cooked them over medium-high heat until crispy and browned. (I had enough to put five of the cakes into the freezer for later.)

The sauce was a splash of Chardonnay, a squeeze of mayo, lemon juice from 1/4 of a lemon, one garlic clove, about a tablespoon of capers and some more of the dried dill. I gave that a couple spins with my hand blender until it was smooth. It came out creamy and tangy and the capers were sort of a "hmm... what is that...?" ingredient. Yum.

Now some of the recipes in the book are far more complicated than that. But that won't stop me from trying them. And when I do, I will try to remember to post them here.

Oh yeah, I also made a baked pear with vanilla ice cream to share with the manfriend.

I took a really ripe pear (I had one of the red varieties, not sure which, any will do), cut it into quarters and scooped out the core. Then I cut it into eighths.

I placed the slices into a glass baking dish, dotted them with butter, poured on a couple tablespoons of dark rum, sprinkled on a scant amount of brown sugar then some cinnamon and baked at 400 degrees until it was all warm and bubbly.

I served the slices with a scoop of good vanilla ice cream.

This is one of my favorite, easy desserts. It's even good without the ice cream.