Milk | Parsley, Sage and Sweet

Peanut Butter Brown Sugar and/or Double Chocolate Overnight Oatmeal, plus the KA Mixer Winner, and Part 13A

June 9, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Posted in Breakfast, Fruit, Giveaway, Healthy, Jams/Jellies, Lunch | 47 Comments
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I don’t usually go for fads, trends or follow rules when it comes to food.  In fact, I don’t abide by any rules when it comes to food.  I’ve been known to bake pumpkin pies in June, and I know some people may argue this, but there is NO discernible difference between using fresh roasted pumpkin puree and canned.  I’ve tested it many times over the years..and no one..I mean NO ONE, could tell the difference between the pumpkin pie using canned pumpkin and the pumpkin pie using fresh pumpkin.  As long as the canned pumpkin is pure, with no additives, it’s fine.

There..I said it, and I didn’t want to wait until Fall to say it.

By the way, did you know most canned pumpkin puree is actually Butternut or Hubbard squash. or a variety of squash, not named pumpkin?  Yes, this includes the one that starts with L.

Back to trends and fads in the food blogosphere.  I have seen overnight oats all over the place for months now.  Normally, I’d steer clear, because, again, I’m not a trendy person and I don’t blog for traffic.  However, I need quick breakfasts because I don’t eat breakfast anywhere near as much as I should, and I’m sick of cheerios, toast or smoothies, when I do.

After seeing Barbara’s (of Barbara Bakesovernight oatmeal with berries, I decided I really needed to give this a shot.  I also decided to blog it because I didn’t bake or cook anything for the KA Stand Mixer winner announcement, and Part 13…ummm…13A.  I don’t like putting up posts without something tasty and visual in them.

This is a food blog..well, food journal, you know.

That said, no pretty jars for these overnight oats, since you will be using up the peanut butter at the bottom and around the sides of an almost empty peanut butter jar, so everything goes into the almost empty peanut butter jar.  If you want to make it look nice for serving to someone(s), spoon it into pretty glasses or bowls..like I did for photos.  BUT, off of my blog, it’s getting eaten straight from the jar, then bye-bye jar – into the recycle bin!

This is not a completely healthy version, but if you want to add protein powder, flax, chia seed. hemp, swamp goo, motor oil..or whatever, go ahead – no rules.

Well, there is one rule, but it’s a general rule to get the right consistency..and that rule is 1 part oats to 2 parts liquid, plus extras of your choice.  If you want it thicker, add more oats.

Here’s my version.

Overnight Refrigerator Peanut Butter – Brown Sugar Oatmeal with Jelly or Chocolate
About 2 servings
1 almost empty jar of peanut butter (about 1/4 cup peanut butter left in jar)
1/2 cup old-fashioned or quick cooking oats (I tried both and preferred the quick oats, but if you like more ‘chew’, choose the old-fashioned oats)
2  to 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/2 cup whole milk or any milk you prefer (skim, soy, rice, almond etc)
1/2 cup vanilla bean Greek yogurt or 1/2 cup heavy cream steeped with vanilla bean scrapings and pod (pod removed after steeping, of course)
fruit or jam/jelly/preserves of your choice and/or chocolate chips, chunks (optional)..I even added chocolate ganache to the bottom of one glass.  No rules!  You can go healthy or decadent, or both!

DIRECTIONS:
1.  Dump the oats in the almost empty peanut butter jar.  Sprinkle the dark brown sugar evenly on top of the oats.  Stir together the milk and yogurt or steeped cream, then pour on top of the oats and dark brown sugar.  If you’re adding chocolate chips or chunks, add now. Put the cover back on the peanut butter jar, tightly, and shake it vigorously.  You’ll be stirring it come morning, so this is just a preliminary ‘shake’ to get the oats soaked and dissolve the brown sugar.

2.  Put the covered jar in the fridge overnight,  The next morning, open up the jar and stir it all together, digging the peanut butter up from the bottom and around the sides.  Stir in fruit if you like – raspberries would be great, or swirl your favorite jam, jelly or preserves into it.   If you prefer your oatmeal warm, give it a nuke in the microwave for a minute or two.  Grab a spoon and dig in!  Throw out the jar when you’re done..my favorite part next to eating it.

Note - I stirred extra peanut butter into the oats after they soaked overnight, only because I’m a peanut butter freak.  It doesn’t need extra, but it doesn’t hurt if you’re a freak too.  Also, I topped it off with some fresh, whipped cream and chocolate.  If you want it topped, but healthier, use Greek yogurt.

Double Chocolate Overnight Oatmeal
1/2 cup old-fashioned or quick cooking oats (I tried both and preferred the quick oats, but if you like more ‘chew’, choose the old-fashioned oats)
1 to 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar (taste)
1 cup whole milk or any milk you prefer (skim, soy, rice, almond etc)
1 tablespoon dark cocoa
1/4 cup chopped chocolate

DIRECTIONS:
1. Stir together milk and cocoa powder until uniform.

2.In an empty jar..like a mason jar, dump in oats, dark brown sugar, chocolate milk and chopped chocolate. Shake the jar vigorously and set in fridge overnight.

3. Eat right out of jar. I like to microwave it for a few seconds to melt some of the chopped chocolate. Enjoy!

————————————–

Now to Part 13A (Yes, 13A, I’m determined to get this memoir finished in 14 parts, so I’m cheating) of Bad Boy First Love.  If you’re just tuning in, Part One is HERE, Part Two is HERE , Part Three is HERE, Part Four is HERE, Part Five is HERE, Part Six is HERE, Part Seven is HERE, Part 8 is HERE, Part 9 is HERE,  Part Ten is HERE, Part 11 is HERE, and Part 12 is HERE.

The month I had left with him before the two-week separation was so much fun,  things about it still make me laugh to this day.  For one, I finally saw him drunk.  It was 4th of July, and a bunch of his friends got together in an empty parking lot to party and shoot off fireworks.  I brought one of my friends, who was now completely ensconced in a full-fledged friendship with J and one of his brothers, the grunge guy, one I call P.

Empty parking lots were a big thing in his town, no matter how small or large the gathering. They even had different nicknames for each one.

For instance, “Meet me at The Barber Pole” meant the parking lot across the street from a barber shop with a spinning pole in front.  I soon knew each lot, via the nickname for it, very well.

I’d already gotten to know his friends and family well.  One of my friends and I spent most of that summer hanging out with J and one of his brothers, whether or not Dreamboat was around.

I can’t believe I put tis photo up.  Yeah, I know what it looks like.

He had two younger brothers, one a year older than me, one a year younger than me, and they looked nothing like him. Dreamboat was the golden boy – his looks coming from his Mother, who was of German descent.  His father was a sweet, Italian man, and his brothers were dark-haired and brown-eyed like him.

They looked nothing like each other, either.  The one who was older than me was about the same height as Dreamboat, but that height came with a slouch and a generous helping of grunge movement chic.  He had a faint ‘stache of soft hair on his upper lip because he wasn’t old enough or hairy enough to grow a full one yet.  The brother younger than me was shorter than the both of them and had a head of thicker, slightly curly hair.  He was a metrosexual..rarely a hair out-of-place and always dressed well – the scent of Giorgio Armani wafting from his pores.

They looked up to Dreamboat in a way that was kind of rare in sibling dynamics, at least in my world.  They adored and respected him, but at the same time – feared him as you would a parent if you did something wrong.

They called me ‘sistah-in-law’. It was cute.

SO, that night, Dreamboat got drunk – super drunk. thoroughly shnockered.

He had a very cool and calm disposition, never raised his voice to me, never out of control in any way, shape or form – BUT, on this 4th of July, once blitzed, he was all over the place, and it was fun…I couldn’t help but enjoy my pickled Dreamboat.

He was always affectionate publicly (PDA!), he didn’t care what people thought, but because he was drunk, he was almost slobbering me, hanging all over me like a dead weight.  I could barely converse with anyone.  I was laughing, but relieved when he pulled me away from the crowd to talk in a wooded area off to the side.  He pushed me up against a tree..kissed me for a few minutes, then leaned back a bit, just looking at me.  A very serious look came over his face, and although he was 10 sheets to the wind, he sounded completely sober when he said this..

“I don’t want you to leave me, please don’t go.”

I reassured him instantly..”It’s only two weeks, baby..we’ll have the last three weeks of August togeth…”  He interrupted me..

“No, I don’t want you to go to Boston.  I mean, I want you to go to college..but locally.”

Huh?

I didn’t know how to respond because I had thought about that myself.  It was too late, though.. I’d already changed colleges to be closer to him, and everything was paid for and set.

Double Chocolate Overnight Oatmeal (with melty shards of chopped chocolate)

Double Chocolate Oatmeal with melting chocolate shards 

He nestled his face in between my shoulder and neck, and mumbled into my collarbone..

“I can’t stand the thought of not seeing you for months at a time.”

He was like a child – so vulnerable, I’d never seen him like this before. I wanted to hold him forever, keep him safe…soothe his heart.

I stroked his hair (god, I loved his hair) and whispered, “But you can come visit me anytime you want, and..”

He cut me off again…

“No, you’ll meet other guys..rich college guys, you won’t want me anymore.”

Was he kidding?  That would NEVER happen..I loved him with every inch of my body, heart and soul.  I could NEVER be with anyone else.  I told him this, but not in those exact words..body, heart and soul is too poetic – I don’t talk like that..

“I don’t want anyone else, baby..I can’t even fathom it.”

That was better.

He hugged me tight, but I could tell he still didn’t feel good about it.

We remained that way for a while, his face buried in my neck, squeezing me to him so tight, at some points I couldn’t breathe.  After about 15 minutes, the bark of the tree was starting to scrape my back.  I tried to wiggle into another position, but then felt pain.  The damn bark had scratched me since I was wearing a white sun dress with straps in the back.  I could feel the blood starting to ooze.

He was too wasted to tend to my latest injury, so I let him know what happened and suggested we go back to the parking lot.  He tried to tend to it, feeling awful, but instead we went back to his house with J, his brother, and my friend.  His parents had left for the shore with his other brother earlier that day..so after my friend patched me up, she took my car home, and I spent the night because he wanted me to.  He was out like a light in minutes.

While I watched him sleep…I tried to think of a way to tell my father I was going to change schools again..apply to NYU.  I couldn’t bear to be away from him for months at a time either.

Well..it didn’t work.

“NO, you’re going to school in Boston, and that’s it! ” my father shouted angrily when I tried to reason with him, “But, Dad, you went to NYU.”

He left the room.

OKAY..no Plan B here, this was sticking like super glue and no amount of arguing or begging was going to get me anywhere.

Dreamboat remembered what he said by the tree..it wasn’t 100% alcohol related, he really meant it, but in the light of day, minus the alcohol, he knew that was something he couldn’t ask of me.  He apologized, but I could see in his eyes that he was hoping I would tell him I’d stay.

A little over 2 weeks of more wonderful with him, later, he left for the shore, and I left for Florida with my friends and family.  The night before, I cried, but we would see each other in 2 weeks, so this wasn’t the end – yet.

I have to admit, I had a blast in Florida.  We hung out a lot with some guys (just friends) that my raven haired friend and I had met during X-Mas break of my junior year, who lived in a condo owned by one of their parents, year round.  Lots of partying, lots of cruising, lots of beach, and lots of climbing the fence and swimming in the condo pool at 3 or 4 am.  But, I still couldn’t wait to get home and start packing for the shore and my last 3 weeks with Dreamboat.  We spoke on the phone a few times, but we were always interrupted by my friend wanting to talk to his brother.

Creamy Peanut Butter Oatmeal Over Soft Chocolate Ganache

When we finally got home, packed up, and left for the shore the next day, around early evening, I couldn’t contain my excitement.  I drove so fast, my friends finally convinced me to let one of them drive the rest of the way.  They were right, I was too keyed up and anxious to see him.  As soon as we got there, around 8 pm, I fixed myself up and practically ran to the pier.  The one friend who accompanied me could barely keep up, and bitched about it plenty.

I was in a zone, and that zone was him..and only him..I had to see him, smell him, touch him, feel his lips and body against mine again.  He was my oxygen, my drug, the love of my life.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Overnight Oatmeal made right in the Peanut Butter Jar!With Cocoa Nibs

That summer he was working on the most popular ride on the pier, second to the roller coaster, called The Enterprise.  This was a ride that started spinning horizontally, then lifted up slowly, until it was spinning round and round and you were upside down, a non-stop loop – one Dreamboat took me on the summer before that I hated because I don’t like being upside-down, unless my head is hanging off the edge of a bed, where it’s safe.  It also scared the crap out of me.  I felt like I was going to fall out, regardless of the closed car and how tight he held me from behind.

Gravity and I don’t mesh.

Naturally, there was not only a huge line for this the ride, but a throng of girls trying to get his attention.  As I approached the platform, he was running from car to car closing them shut.   He looked amazing, his hair was lightened and streaked by the sun, his lightly tanned skin accentuating his beautiful blue eyes.  New ‘summer muscles’ were accentuated, from working on the ride.

Suddenly I felt like I did the summer before, insecure, scared, nervous..worried he wouldn’t want me anymore.  We had been inseparable all year-long – in our own little world back in North Jersey, and now he was the ‘rock star’ again, but on a much bigger and more popular stage than the previous summers.

I tentatively stepped up on the first step of the platform, away from the line.  He saw me and came jogging over..grabbing my hand and pulling me the rest of the way up..hugging me, lifting me in his arms, then kissing me long and slow.  I heard a collective groan and a few curses from the girls as we put on our little show.

When we broke for a moment, he took my hand and walked me over to the booth so he could start the ride, and then we embraced outside the booth and kissed more, little sweet nothings and ‘I love you’s’ peppering the moment.  He was just as happy and excited as I was – the moment was perfect.  All of my worries disappeared -  just as fast as they had reappeared. I was bursting with joy, inside and out..I loved him so much it hurt.

He took both of my hands in his, and stood back..looking at me..his dazzling smile melting me to goo as usual.

“Wow, look at that tan, my beautiful girl.”  He said, and had still not had his eyes checked.

As usual, I morphed back into that shy, nervous 15-year old, again.  My voice was weird..

“You look awesome too, baby.” I whispered because I was positive I might squeak.

He kissed both of my hands in his.  This was getting even better.

THEN…

“Baby, there’s something I need to take care of tonight in Bricktown (a town about a half hour from his shore house).  I promised Andy (his friend from Part 4, with the nice girlfriend), I can’t get out of it.” He said, momentarily looking over my shoulder, which bothered me.

A slight chill came over me…all the warmth and happiness draining as I tried to register what he just said.  We hadn’t seen each other in a little over two weeks..what the f%^k??

He saw the look in my eyes and pulled me to him..kissing my cheek and squeezing me tight.  He pressed his lips against my ear and explained that there were some people giving Andy’s brother trouble and they needed to take care of it.  He didn’t want to bring me, it could be dangerous.

I couldn’t help it, the disappointment was so fierce, and the fear of him getting hurt, so chilling, that my eyes started to well up.

Dammit!

Remember how I told you nothing ever rattled him?  Well..there was a negative side to that.  When I became emotional or feisty, he treated it like it was no big deal and there was no reason for me to get so agitated, almost amused by my reactions.  It had happened a few times during my senior year of high school, but now it was more painful than ever.

For some reason, I couldn’t help thinking that all the girls watching him hug and kiss me were thinking how lucky I was and probably wished they were in my place, but little did they know..he was blowing me off..or at least that’s how I felt.

I started to pull away from him but he kept pulling me back.  The people on the ride were getting a bonus round of upside-down.

He took my face in his hands..looked deep into my eyes, trying to be serious since he knew his nonchalant reactions to my being upset with him, bugged me to end.

“If I get back early enough, I’ll come by and get you, ok ?  It’s no big deal, baby..we have lots of nights together after tonight”

He kissed me a dozen more times, but I didn’t feel any one of them.  How could he blow me off for some tough guy shit when we hadn’t seen each other in weeks?  Maybe there was a girl there he liked?

On top of soft chocolate ganache

 For the first time in our relationship, I opened the vault to my anger, and let it fly..

“Why can’t you stop being such a tough guy?  Why do you always have to be a f%^%ing hero?  Why do you always have to put your life in danger??” I said, a little too loudly.

I pulled away from him and walked away fast.  I knew the girls watching us were happy as pigs in shit now that it didn’t look good between us.

When I reached my friend, I grabbed her and pulled her with me.  Suddenly I heard a girl in the swarm of Dreamboat lust say to her friend..”Go over and talk to him, I think I saw him look at you!”

I stopped dead in my tracks and turned to see two relatively attractive girls continuing to plot their move on him.  I saw nothing but hot, blazing red.  I took a step toward them..

“Don’t even think about it!” I shouted, icily.

They both looked at me with surprise, as did my friend…totally shocked at what came out of my mouth.  One of the girls decided to pour fuel into my already raging fire;

“I don’t see a ring on your finger.”

That was it..I was in NO MOOD..

“No, but you will see one around your eye if you even try to get with him!”

OMG, what had come over me?  I was going completely Jersey on these girls.  This was a first.  I think some of Dreamboat’s friend’s girlfriends had rubbed off on me.

My friend yanked me away..as the girls continued to yell obscenities.  She had to pull pretty hard to get me to move..I was ready to rumble.  I was hurting and seething at the same time.

Once we got off the pier and onto the boardwalk..I started to cry…sob uncontrollably.  She consoled me as we walked back to the apartment, reminding me that I was PMSing, so I was probably overreacting.  Plus, he was not afraid of anything and strong, she reasoned, so if anything, the other party would be hurting.

It didn’t matter, I told her..strong and not afraid do not trump a knife or gun.

J and his brother, P, were waiting out in front when we got back to the complex..since our other friend’s boyfriend had driven up an hour after we did, and they didn’t want to disturb them.

My friend told them what happened as I rubbed my puffy eyes.  His brother hugged me…

“Awww, Sis, (short for sistah-in law), he’s crazy about you, trust me…there is something he needs to do.” P said, trying to assuage the situation.

Yeah..like his brother, who adored and feared him, would tell me the truth if he was in fact lying to me.  But it wasn’t just that..it was the worry I now had to endure.  What if he got hurt?  What if he was killed??  What if he hooked up with another girl???  Yeah, the latter seemed to worry me the most. Jealousy was eating me alive.

His brother then announced that their Mom had made her killer lasagna, so why not go back to his house and have some, so we could leave our other friend and her boyfriend alone for a while?  Of course my friend, who loved to eat and never gained weight, jumped at the offer.  I felt sick, but went anyway.  Great..I’ll be at his shore house……without him.

When we got there, his Mom was only too happy to feed us..well, them, since I couldn’t eat, I was too upset.  She also tried to soothe my worries…telling me she doubted there was anyone else he wanted more than me and she’d never seen him like this with a girl.

Her blue eyes, Dreamboat’s eyes, sparkled as she sipped some wine. and enjoyed having a daughter to talk to – she stroked my hair in a motherly fashion….

“I’m tellin’ ya…I’ve seen dozens of girls come and go, yaw the first one he’s evah fell hard faw,” she said, as she gave me a half hug, then tried to force feed me lasagna.

It helped, but I still couldn’t shake that icky feeling.  I couldn’t tell her about his ‘taking care of Andy’s brother’ deal, which was scaring me more and more as the clock ticked away.  There was no need to make her worry too.

Swirled with raspberry jam

She suggested we stay the night.  Since his father only came up for long weekends, due to work, she insisted my friend and I sleep in their bed and she would sleep on the couch.  She was in a good mood.. excited because they were going to Atlantic City that coming weekend.

After hanging out for a while, watching movies and playing some board games (as I desperately hoped he would suddenly walk through the door, the later it got), we finally went to bed around 2 am.

Surprisingly, sleep came fast.  In what seemed like minutes, I was jolted awake from my deep slumber, as if someone had dumped a pitcher of ice-cold water on my head.  I heard the backdoor creak open.  He was just getting home..it was almost 5 am.

Part 13B coming soon.

Now to the winner of the KitchenAid Professional 600 Series 6-Quart Stand Mixer!  I really wish I could give everyone who entered one of these mixers.  I promise, there will be more great giveaways coming soon!  Thank you all for entering!

The Random Number Generator decided that Candace, who’s comment is #224, is the winner!

Congratulations, Candace! I will be sending you an email so you can choose a color and give me your mailing info.  As soon as I get it, it will be sent out to you ASAP.  If there is no response from you within 48 hours, another winner will be chosen.

One more thing – I’d like to thank Bonnie, of Bonnie Banters, for nominating me for a Food Stories Award!  Again, I’m incredibly flattered!  Since I was nominated late last month, and have already passed on 5 nominations…I’ll throw in another random fact about me.

When I was a child..having had the luxury of seeing several Broadway shows, and listening to my father’s collection of Broadway soundtracks..I decided I wanted to be a Broadway singer.  I used to stand on my front door step and belt out tunes like Tomorrow, Memory, One etc.  There was one small problem, I couldn’t sing.  My poor neighbors.

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Extremely Creamy Stovetop Sriracha Macaroni and Cheese for SRC

June 4, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Posted in Asian, Dinner, Lunch, Pasta | 61 Comments
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I know, three posts in a little over week.  Every three days, I’ve had a post up.  It feels like an assembly line of mediocrity (the Ego Lights haven’t been throwing me a cookie or two as of late).  That said, I like to let each post I put up marinate a little before putting up a new one, so that’s part of the reason why I don’t post a few times a week, but, in this case.. I had a lot of catching up to do.

Extremely Creamy Stovetop Sriracha Macaroni and Cheese
It won’t remain this way because I need a break for a few days.  It probably takes me like 8 hours to get a post up because without natural light, each photo needs a lot of post processing, not to mention, I shoot hundreds of photos to increase my chances of getting a few that make it past auditions.  Then I need to go over them with whoever is in the mood to help me sift through identical photos with a fine-toothed comb, and find one that looks just a little better than the others, namely, my masculine counterpart.

“OK, which one out of these 40 photos, that are almost identical, looks the sharpest?  Which one really showcases the food the best?”

“Lisa, they all look the same, seriously”

“NO, the piece of chive, all the way to the left, in back, in that one, isn’t as sharp as the piece of chive in this one!  Can’t you see that??”

That, in itself, is a two-hour ordeal.


Then, writing the post – I don’t think I have to elaborate on that.  When I’m adding one of my BBFL memoirs, add another day, or week, plus an hour or two, to the 8 – unless I hit the deep zone.  The deep zone is where I sort of astral-project myself back to those teen and young adult years, and I’m reliving it – in it,  as I type it.  As you would expect, I prefer to write about it in that zone.  It’s a zone I cannot be broken out of until I’m finished.  Hard to hit that zone very often with work and life in the way - hence the stories being weeks apart most of the time.

It’s funny, for someone who is still using free wordpress.com with the same theme I chose in 2008, and the same ugly header I’ve also used from the start, I’m sure picky about every other detail, huh?

I will be self-hosting and redesigning my blog at some point, but for now, I’m kind of comfy in my old, worn jammies.

Of course you can make it without the Sriracha.  It’s delicious either way.

Speaking of comfy, For this month’s Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned the blog Quick and Easy, Cheap and Healthy.  I think every word in that title is the antithesis of my blog.  BUT, I loved her blog, especially a section called ‘Better Than The Box’ which basically means your favorite boxed foods like JELL-O or cookies, made from scratch. Once I saw this Mac ‘n Cheese, it was all over for me.  Comfort food at it’s best.

At first, I was eyeing these sweet potato peel fries, in her Food Waste Fridays post (love all the cool ideas, sections, and tips she has) using the flesh of the sweet potato to make her sweet potato rice pudding, from one of her Secret Recipe Club assignments. A great way to use the whole sweet potato – BUT, again, once I saw the Stovetop Mac ‘n Cheese – it was love at first sight, and you can’t ignore love at first sight, even if it is only food and food probably won’t be sending you flowers or spooning you in bed.  However, you will be spooning it…. into your mouth – or forking, whatever.

One thing that caught my eye was the use of honey mustard in lieu of dijon or regular mustard, which is usually the norm.  I call this the ‘secret’ ingredient that really makes it pop.  An underlying bit of sweetness that doesn’t affect the macaroni cheese flavor you’re used to, but makes you ponder it;

“Hmmm..what is it that’s making this taste even better?”

Not to mention, this is one creamy Mac n’ Cheese (I call it better than Boston Market, K or Annie’s O mac ‘n cheese)..and so quick to make, I doubt any of you who try it will go back to the boxed version as much as you usually do..the one we’ve all grown up eating at some point – although it stopped tasting like cheese a long time ago, at least for me.

I call the boxed versions yellow or orange macaroni snackies.  No discernible flavor, but somehow, it still elicits the occasional craving.

Seriously, do any of you taste cheese in the K or Annie box of Mac N’ Cheese?  I just taste a weird, artificial flavor that isn’t cheesy, yet, sometimes, in a pinch..I need to eat it…I don’t know why.

Of course I doctor it up with Sriracha and a handful of whatever real cheese I have on hand. I always have a box of Annie’s O or K on hand.  It’s like a strange macaroni OCD,  if I don’t have the purple or blue boxes in my cupboard, my cupboard seems naked.  Now that I’ve discovered this recipe..I may be able to part with it forever – but then again, as mentioned, I don’t consider it macaroni and cheese, just a yellow or orange macaroni snack.

Extremely Creamy Stovetop Sriracha Mac and Cheese

I highly recommend you try this, especially if you’re a fan of the purple or blue boxed yellow or orange macaroni snack or the Boston Market version.  Add to it, if you like.  Bacon is always phenomenal, as well as chicken, peas, ham, diced, hot peppers, etc..would be.  Be daring, try a little minced ghost pepper in it!  A little less heat, you say?  How about a bit of habanero?  A lot less?  Serrano, chipotle, jalapeno etc..?  As you can tell, I like a good kick to my Mac N’ Cheese.

I added Sriracha Sauce – love the stuff.  You get cheesy, spicy heat, and that little ‘thing’ from honey mustard that makes you go ‘Hmmmm’ and then ‘Mmmmm’.  Oh, I also added an extra cup of cheese to the sauce.  That’s ok, right? ;D

I love hot and spicy food ..which is kind of weird since I couldn’t handle hot and spicy anything until my late 20′s.  Before that, I remember ordering nachos, at Mexican Restaurants, on many occasions.  My key phrase was “No jalapenos, please”.  They added them anyway, and I’d have to pick them out one by one, because I didn’t want to send it back and risk a lugie in my guacamole.  I think they enjoyed effin’ with me, or they were just hard of hearing.  Now I ask for extra jalapenos, and barely get any.

Extremely Creamy Stovetop Sriracha Mac and Cheese

When you have a few moments, check out Quick and Easy, Cheap and Healthy.  So many inexpensive, healthy alternatives to the fatty stuff we all love…plus ways to not waste food via making a treat with what you’d usually throw out, and much more!

By the way..I’m making THIS chicken salad from her blog. next – with a few twists.

Extremely Creamy Stovetop Sriracha Macaroni and Cheese
Adapted from Quick and Easy, Cheap and Healthy, who adapted it from Taste of Home, with my revisions
About 4 servings 

1/2 lb small sturdy pasta (such as Macaroni, Rotini or the like) I used Rotelli, which is larger
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon honey mustard
1/4 cup Sriracha Sauce (more or less, depending on how spicy you like it)
A large pinch of kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
3 cups really good mild, medium, or sharp shredded cheddar cheese (or a combination of your favorite cheeses) Try 4 cups, if you want it even cheesier!  I did…and helloooo, I’m hooked forever.

DIRECTIONS:
1. Prepare pasta according to package directions – a little on the al dente side. While it’s boiling, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle the flour over the butter, and stir and cook until it’s well blended (this is your roux).

2. Cook the butter and flour, still stirring, about a minute or so, to make sure the flour is thoroughly cooked and there’s no raw flour taste.

3. Combine the milk, cream and chicken broth in a liquid measuring cup, and slowly pour into the flour mixture, stirring all the while to combine it thoroughly. Continue stirring mixture until it is smooth and well blended. Stir until bubbles start to appear, this is when it will start to thicken, and it can take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes until the sauce has thickened to the right consistency (think Elmer’s Glue, but a little looser – if you drag a finger across the back of a spoon dipped in the sauce, and the line stays crisp and clear – it should be ready).

4. Stir in the black pepper, kosher salt, Sriracha, and honey mustard. Remove from heat and stir in the shredded cheese. Keep stirring until the cheese is thoroughly melted, and you have a creamy sauce. Taste and season the sauce more if it needs it.

5. Drain the  pasta and put back into the pot you cooked it in.  Pour the sauce over the pasta and stir together until the pasta is thoroughly coated. Cover with the lid of the saucepan and allow it to sit for a few minutes to absorb the sauce.  Serve in bowls topped with some chopped parsley or chives, a little more black pepper and pass the Sriracha for those who want more.

Click on the little blue frog below to see what the other SRC Group A bloggers made from their blog assignments.



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Raspberry Egg Cream and Bad Boy First Love Part 8

March 24, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Posted in Beverages, Dessert, Fruit, Healthy | 50 Comments
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Have you ever tried an Egg Cream?  I’m guessing most of you have if you live in the Northeast, but those who have not, and possibly have not even heard of one, I’ll start by saying it has neither eggs nor cream in it.  The best way to describe one would be an ice cream soda minus the ice cream.  Believe it or not, this is not a bad thing, it’s a really good thing, because it’s much lower in calories and fat, although I don’t think that was the original intent when it was first created.

Since this post is Part 8 of Bad Boy First Love, I’m going to send you HERE to read about it.  They did a great job tracing it’s history and describing it, along with a recipe for an authentic chocolate egg cream.

Raspberry Syrup Egg CreamI made two egg creams, one to taste and one for photos then taste.  Of course I forgot to stir the one for photos while pouring the seltzer.  It should be creamy and uniform, not mottled like that, although it does look kind of cool.

Here’s the difference between mine and that one.  Remember that awesome, vibrant pink, fresh raspberry buttercream, made using a raspberry reduction syrup I filled a Valentine’s cake with in February? The raspberry reduction syrup is exactly like chocolate syrup in texture and viscosity, so I could not stop thinking about how well it might work if I used some of that syrup to make a Raspberry Egg Cream.  The only change I made to the original syrup recipe was the addition of sugar, since there’s nothing else that’s sweet in an egg cream.

It worked, except for the fact that I forgot to stir the milk/raspberry syrup combination as I poured in the seltzer, so the mottled look you see in some of the photos is because of that.  The key to a perfect egg cream is rapid stirring as you pour the seltzer.  I’d planned this one for a while and I forgot the most important part – go figure!

I did cheat a little and added a bit of light whipped cream and shaved chocolate on top - but trust me, it doesn’t need it, it was mainly for photos.

Finally, before I get to Part 8, the first time I ever had an egg cream was not when we lived in the city..it was when we first moved to the town I grew up in NJ.  One of my first new friends was a brilliant girl, a brilliant girl who looked 9 years old, but had the maturity and intelligence of someone much older.  I loved going to her house after school because there was always something new and exciting to experience – her mind was a kaleidoscope of creativity and adventure.

Well, one of the ‘adventures’ was something we shouldn’t have done.  Her mother worked so we were on our own until 6pm.  That gave us plenty of time to do this something we shouldn’t do – walk 3 miles to another town, a dangerous part of that town no less, where she wanted me to try the ‘best egg cream ever’.  This ‘best egg cream ever’ lived in a small luncheonette/candy store with an old-fashioned soda fountain counter with swivel stools, and it WAS the best egg cream I ever had, even though it was my first.  It remains the best to this day, and I thank W for introducing me to the egg cream.

By the way, our egg cream venture became a regular trek when I went to her house after school, and we never got caught.

Now to Bad Boy First Love Part 8.  I kind of had a hard time posting this one, for various reasons, but after much thought, it felt ok.  If you’re just tuning in; Part One is HERE, Part Two is HERE , Part Three is HERE, Part Four is HERE, Part Five is HERE, Part Six is HERE and Part Seven is HERE.

No way was I tossing my cookies all over the boardwalk.  The last thing I needed was to be known as the ‘throw-up girl’ for the rest of my vacation, I wanted to go back to the luxury pad immediately.

I started to turn to leave, but my friends tried to convince me otherwise..

“Lisa, don’t jump to conclusions, maybe it’s his sister, or a relative – chill out!” one friend said, but I wasn’t buying it.

If she was actually his sister, he must come from a really close family.  I had yet to see a sister touching and looking at her brother like she wanted to Rumba with him.  Maybe they still took baths together?

I was already moving, my stomach was in knots – I needed to be somewhere private to untie and eject those knots if need be.  Then I felt two warm hands on my arms, gently pulling me back and turning me around.  It was him.

“Whoa – where are you going?  Are you okay?” He asked, looking concerned, which, although it was hard to believe, made him even hotter.

“I saw you with that blonde girl, and I thought she might be your girlfriend, so I didn’t want to get in the way” I said as I felt my eyes well up a tiny bit.  *Don’t cry, Don’t cry, Don’t cry – think of something funny*

He rubbed the side of my arm to comfort me.  DAMN, this was not the time to tingle and shiver.  Well..at least it took the urge to cry away.

“Why would I ask you to meet me after work if she was my girlfriend?” he asked with a confused look in those killer baby blues.

Then the words I needed to hear..

“I wanna be with you, Lisa.”

I loved that he added ‘Lisa’ at the end, it somehow sealed the deal..made it true.

“I hooked up with her a few times back in July..I stopped it, she wasn’t for me, but she keeps coming around every so often, I can’t tell her where she can and can’t be.” He reasoned.

No, but you can stop talking to her every time she hangs around waiting for you to get off of work.

I desperately wanted to blurt that out, but I had no right to.  I disappeared on him last summer and he had every right to handle it any way he wanted – not that I liked being my own voice of reason.

Raspberry Syrup Egg Cream
“Oh, okay, as long as she’s not waiting for you at the car.” I said, trying to be funny.

UGH, why did I say that?

He laughed, his smile sending cascades of ripples through my entire body..goosebumps were popping all over the place.  I inadvertently smacked at them like mosquitoes.

“You get bit?” He asked

“Sort of”  I responded. *By the love bug* I thought.

“Let’s go, silly” he said with a touch of humor, but an underlying tenderness that turned my guts into hot, molten lava.  I said goodbye to my friends and off we went..walking close together, but no hand holding or touching yet.  It had been a year of nothingness, I guess it needed to be worked up to.

He took my hand in his and smiled.  Ooops..guess I was wrong!  I LOVED being wrong – I wanted to be wrong for the rest of my life!

It was like we were never separated for a year – we just sort of continued where we left off, and it felt incredible, it felt right, it felt like every holiday, birthday and a huge lotto win rolled into one.

He started talking about how he never thought he’d see me again and how he nearly busted the DJ booth door when he pushed it open to come to me at the ride. I loved how he wasn’t afraid to open up like that.

I just looked at him adoringly as we walked and talked.  Well, he talked. I was in such a stupor, I could barely converse outside of..

“Uh, huh.”

“Yeah.”

“I know, me too.”

I was pathetically smitten.

When we approached the parking lot behind the Casino Pier arcade, there she was, the navy blue Beetle, shining like a hansom cab waiting to whisk us away – as long as she didn’t go all Christine on my ass.

He opened the passenger door for me.  I was still in a drunken love stupor, but suddenly a horrid thought busted through all the goo.  What if this was all a dream and I was going to wake up at home in my bedroom soon, like I did SO many times when he made appearances in my dreams during my awful junior year?

I had to make sure, nip it in the bud now.

I turned toward him and tentatively moved closer..wrapping my arms around his waist, but not yet resting my head, chin or cheek anywhere for a complete hug because I was worried he would think I was weird .  ‘Please let him hug me back’ I chanted inwardly and repeatedly.

He fell right into it, pulling me tight to him and wrapping me up in his arms. ‘Whew! Thank You!

A huge wave of relief washed over me – I felt so insanely happy, I could combust into a million rainbows, sprinkles and unicorns at any second, but at the same time, warm and safe.  He pressed his mouth to my ear and whispered..

“I thought you were a ghost, I thought I had imagined it all.”

You know that feeling when someone whispers right into your ear?  That really cool tickle, tingly feeling?  Multiply that by 20.  I wanted to jump out of my skin – in a good way.

I hugged him tighter, the side of my face now pressed into his upper chest, then back up a little to his neck..my eyes closed, just taking all of him in,  I dug my fingers into his lower back, then gripped the back waistband of his shorts.  If I was waking up from a dream any time soon, he was coming with me! A colossal wedgie wasn’t of concern.

Soon I was burying my face deeper into his neck, inhaling him.  No chicken soup here, just 100% Dreamboat and his amazing scent wasn’t going away.  I wondered what kind of soap he used?  Shampoo?  Cologne?  Whatever they were, I wanted to buy cases of them so I could smell ‘him’ when we weren’t together. If the TV show, Hoarders, existed back then, they would have had a field day with me.  I was already planning on never washing my t-shirt again because it was going to smell like him.


I continued to hug him tight. I wanted to kiss him SO bad, but it had been a year, it needed to be worked up to.

Geez. could this guy read my mind or what? He backed up a bit and took my face in my hands.  He stared into my eyes for a few seconds..

Here it comes, I’ve waited a year for this.

..then slowly laid one soft kiss on my lips. Wrong again!  Oh, being wrong was the ultimate jackpot that evening!  For a moment, I wondered if we should hit Atlantic City with this streak of ‘wrong’ I was on.

After that sweet kiss, I actually had to step back a bit and take a deep breath.  My body and soul were in some serious flames and it was almost too much to handle.  He caressed my cheek, then opened the door again so I could get in.  The cup holder was still there.  I couldn’t help smiling and I mentioned it to him.

“I dunno, was hoping keeping it up would bring you back, and it did,” He said as he turned the key in the ignition.  The radio instantly blared the opening to Stairway to Heaven, the song of our first kiss ever.  Fate, I thought.

OK, back to planning our wedding.

He asked me where I wanted to go and I told him it didn’t matter, as long as I was with him.  Yep, I actually said it this time.  Amazing how brazen I’d become in one year.  The truth is, there was no need to play it cool, the feeling was mutual, and after a year of missing him, crying over him, I wanted to express as many feelings as I had the guts to.

He leaned over, kissed me on the cheek and said, “You’re so sweet.”

You make me that way.  Now kiss me more!

No, I didn’t say that.

He stopped at a liquor store and picked up some beers, little nips, in case I wanted one, plus a few bottles of lemonade since the stand with the lemonade I dumped all over his lap the year before was already closed.  I hadn’t even asked, he just remembered with a wink and a nod to the cup holder.  There was no way I was going to open one in the car tonight.  No hot moments cooled off this time.  Well, it didn’t really matter since we were headed to a beautiful, moonlit, starry, beach in Seaside Park, the one we’d been to the year before.

Holy mackerel, I couldn’t believe I was with him again!  What were the chances?  I’d never felt so happy and alive in my life. I instantly bottled up that feeling up for future daydreaming, then actually pinched my arm next to the passenger door just to make sure again that this wasn’t a dream.

We stopped at a red light.  He looked over at me, breaking my magnificent moment of realization, and brushed my hair with the side of his hand..

“I like your hair like that.” He said.

HUH?

WRONG again.  Oh, the money I could make him tonight if we hit Atlantic City.  Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to be alone with him, but just imagining him at a Blackjack table, the stacks of chips in his favor, with me standing on the other side of the red velvet rope (because I wasn’t legal), signaling him to take another card so he’d do the opposite and stay, was kind of fun.

Looks like there’d be one less blow dryer and outlet needed at the penthouse. 20-30 minutes had just been deducted from my ‘get ready’ time.

When we got to the beach, he opened the trunk and started taking out all of our ‘romantic’ necessities.  A big blanket, the cooler with the nips and lemonade, and a small radio – boombox like contraptionThere was a gravelly area we had to walk over to get to the beach, so I took the blanket from him and started walking through it.  The sky was loaded with stars.  It was so beautiful that I couldn’t help looking up at them as I walked, I wanted to soak up every detail of this night and keep it in my vault forever.  Twinkle twinkle little star..how I wonder…

Suddenly I was flat on my face. My sneaker had caught on some gravel and with my other foot, I tripped over that foot, landing face down, the gravel scraping hard against one of my knees.  Thankfully, the blanket had stopped the gravel from scraping my face off and possibly breaking my nose or knocking out a tooth. I wondered if he’d still kiss me with a gaping hole?  The odds were probably not in my favor.

I remained like that for a few seconds because I was beyond mortified.  How do you explain tripping over your own feet?  He’d never marry a klutz! I took a deep breath and slowly righted myself, sitting up with my legs splayed, surveying the damage.

I really hope he didn’t see me land like that. OMG.

I didn’t even care about the pain as the blood started to seep out because I had just ruined what was turning out to be the best.night.of.my.life.  I was also embarrassed as hell, more embarrassed than I’d ever been in my life, even more so than the time I called the color turquoise ‘turkey’ when painting a mural on local TV in elementary school. He came running over as I sat in the gravel..a sad sight to behold.


“Are you ok?”  He asked as he sat down to inspect my knee.

NO, I’m mortified!

“I’m fine, just a little stumble.” I said, trying to quell my shaky voice, saturated with embarrassment.

He looked closer at my knee under the one of the tall lights lining the gravelly area.

“It looks like you just skinned it”,  he said, but gently pressed around it to make sure I didn’t feel any other pain.  Even if there was pain, the sheer embarrassment was like a double pump of morphine.  I was blushing again, but not in a good way.

Then came my stupidest question ever.  I need a freakin’ muzzle at times.

“Do you have any hydrogen peroxide and ointment?”

He just looked at me and smiled.

You see, that’s how my father always tended to my boo-boo’s when I was a child.  He’d pour on the hydrogen peroxide – let it foam, then rub on some kind of anti-bacterial healing ointment like neosporin, on it, then cover it with a band-aid and a kiss. As a teen, I fixed my own boo-boo’s using the same method (and I still do to this day), minus the kiss.

RIGHT, I’m sure he kept a well-stocked first-aid kit in his car.  Then again, he might have to get one if he wanted to stay with me - la klutz extraordinaire. A splinter, a bloody hangnail, and a skinned knee so far.  Was that chunk of meteorite to the head coming?  At this rate, I’d be a walking, talking mass of scabs come the end of this vacation.

He wrapped one arm around my waist and one under my knees, and lifted me up effortlessly. He was going to carry me. I was so glad the only thing I’d eaten all day, due to nerves about seeing him again, was one slice of pizza.  I felt lighter than ever, which was rare considering the way I usually I eat.

Best.night.of.my.life. back on.

“You don’t need ointment, you’ve got the best medicine right in front of you..miles and miles of it.” he said, as he walked us to the beach.

“Where?” I asked, sounding stupid again.

He gestured straight ahead…”The Atlantic Ocean -  It’s just some scrapes, so the salt water will clean it out and start to heal it.”

Hmmm, this was from a guy who duct taped together a gaping knife wound in his leg and left it at that.

“Aren’t there creepy, crawly bacteria things in the ocean?” I asked. then immediately wished I could take it back.  OMG, shut up!! I thought.  Everything that was coming out of my mouth was stupid.

He laughed, “Looks like you have a pretty good immune system and it’s not a large, open wound, it’ll be fine.” He responded, with the confidence of a real MD.

Dr. Dreamboat?  My parents would be overjoyed.

He was awesome.  “No, it’s ok, I trust you”, I whispered as I melted in his arms while he carried me.  To think, a little over 8 hours earlier I was learning he was back working on the pier and now I was in his arms, my legs swinging, arms around his strong shoulders, smelling his hair and neck…dying, in a good way.  I felt no pain at all.  Even the blood dripping down my leg didn’t take away from this moment.

Dripping, bloody knee love, how Goth.  Now we just needed thick black eyeliner, tears and The Cure.

He pulled my sneakers off my dangling feet and dropped them on the crumpled blanket he placed down by the dunes – then his own, using a foot for each, all without dropping me.  He was so damn strong.

When we got to the edge of the water, he put me down gently, then got down on one knee to operate.

“This is gonna sting, sweetheart” he said as he stuck his hands in the tides of ocean water washing over our feet.

Oh, I loved when he called me that – he was so self-assured, so mature.

He started gathering up water in his cupped hands to clean it and wash the blood off.  It stung like crazy, but my passion for him was so intense, it diluted the pain  Even if some ocean microbe stuck to my skinned knee and moved in, at least I’d die a happy woman.

The way he continued to tend to my knee was so gentle that the JELLO legs kicked in, and I almost keeled over  (just what I needed, another face plant).  When he was done, I decided maybe I should walk into the ocean up to my knees since it was low tide, to really make sure it was cleaned out.

He walked in with me, holding me around the waist.  We got far enough that a small wave washed over my knee.  Then he turned me toward him, the moon shining like a spotlight on us.  Everything was glistening, silvery and neon blue, as he pulled me close and started to kiss me – soft, then passionate, a years worth of longing and desire in that kiss.  It was the hottest kiss I had ever had in my life. He could have done anything to me or with me at that moment, and I would have happily acquiesced. I was putty with him, a sure thing, easier than apple pie.

As my legs jellied, I could feel a Here to Eternity moment, night version, coming on.  With my luck, a school of jellyfish would wash over us..stinging only me.  Then he’d have to pee on me.  No, I’m not a freak, that was what you were supposed to do back then to take away the sting and pain, if you didn’t have fresh, hot water, vinegar or baking soda on hand, and I could pretty much guarantee he didn’t have any of those in his glove compartment.

SO, that would have been one hell of romance killer.  Well, at least he could say he marked his territory.

I needed to stop these silly thoughts and just enjoy his amazing lips, his amazing hands running up and down my back and through my hair, his amazing smell, his amazing everything.

Yeah, this guy was pretty freakin’ amazing!

I can’t remember how long we kissed, but when I felt a wave hit my thighs, it broke the spell a bit. I knew maybe we needed to get out of the ocean.  Of course, he said exactly that the moment I thought it.

We walked slowly back to the blanket, his arm around my shoulder and neck, my arm around his waist.  He kept me so close to him and that’s exactly what I wanted.  When I settled onto the blanket, he went to get the cooler and radio boombox thingamahjig.

Just like the summer before, I’d never felt as alive as I did with him.  Everything was in technicolor blue and silver, the sand creamy white.  Every sense was dialed up to 100, the smell of the air being the best briny perfume in the world, and the warm breeze brushing my skin like soft fingers.  The stars were a mass of glitter and I could see every twinkle clearly.  He returned and immediately turned the radio boombox to that classic rock station he loved.  Even music was better with him.  Songs I didn’t like were amazing with him.  He held up a lemonade and a nip.  I chose the nip  because even beer tasted good with him.  My senses were exposed nerves, but all pleasure – no pain.


Before settling down, he kissed my knee.  Okayyy, if he doesn’t propose, I will..maybe even tonight.

We laid down on our sides facing each other, his hand resting on my waist as I told him the whole story about the night we left.  I sipped more of the nip, finishing it, then asking for another.  I was too excited, nervous and emotional, I needed this liquid relaxant badly.  He ran his hand back and forth from my waist, over my hips down my leg, tracing me, as I continued to tell him the story. Now I understood why cats purred when you stroked their backs.

“Your legs are so smooth.” he whispered sexily.

I KNEW shaving my legs with 10 minutes to go as a smart idea.  Hmm, I was actually right about something that night.  Forget Atlantic City, the streak had just ended, but I was still loaded with chips, for keeps.

He told me his story, how he thought I may have fallen asleep the next night when he came to get me..but then knew something was really off when I didn’t stop by the pier the next night, and again, no me when he came by after work.

“I stopped by before work the next day, after the second night I didn’t see you.  I could see the house was empty. so I asked some guy next door.  He said he didn’t even remember seeing anyone staying there.” He said softly, while he played with my hair.

I recalled the people next door had left earlier that day, so this guy and his family probably moved in after we left.  I told him that.

“Well, that’s why I thought you might have been a ghost, I thought I was going crazy.” He said with a slight chuckle.

I couldn’t take it..I stuck my beer in the sand and pressed myself against him, hugging him as tight as I could. I didn’t even care how he took it.  That was the first time I had ever heard him sound vulnerable.  Wait, this was technically our fourth date, a year between dates three and four , there were loads of sides of him I hadn’t experienced yet.  I couldn’t wait for more.

We continued to discuss, in soft voices, our year apart.  We both couldn’t stop thinking about each other throughout the year.

I couldn’t believe this beautiful, strong, sexy, amazing guy couldn’t get me out of his mind either.  I almost wanted to ask if he propped pillows up on his window sill and cried like I did.  Glad I didn’t.

THEN…

“I kept thinking..Wow, if she isn’t a ghost, she’s graduating high school and probably going to her prom. I wonder what lucky guy is taking her?”

Shit..I’d forgotten that I added a year and a half to my age so he wouldn’t think I was too young.   He thought I was a high school grad and now was NOT the time to tell him the truth. This was already the best night of my life.  I wanted it to stay that way.

I didn’t answer him because I didn’t want to lie to him anymore.  I pressed my lips against his and soon we were back to the steamy kissing that took place in the ocean.  I needed at least this night with him before I dropped the bomb.

Part 9 coming soon!

Now to the Winner of the $50 Visa card and Peanut Butter!  Random.Org chose…

Susan Smith, who loves Peanut Butter on an English Muffin for Breakfast.  Congrats, Susan, you will be receiving an email ASAP.  If I don’t hear back from Susan within 48 hours, another winner will be chosen, so stay tuned!

Raspberry Egg Cream
Recipe adapted from What’s Cooking America via Bonni Lee Brown, with my revisions and a different technique
Yields: One Egg Cream
About a scant 1/2 cup cold whole milk*
bottled seltzer
2 to 3 tablespoons raspberry syrup (recipe follows)

* skim or low fat milk doesn’t as foam well.

Fresh Raspberry Reduction Syrup
Adapted from Making Life Delicious

Makes enough syrup for about 4 egg creams
24 ounces fresh raspberries
3/4 cup sugar

DIRECTIONS:
1. Make Fresh Raspberry Reduction Syrup.  In a medium to large saucepan, cook down the raspberries with sugar until they’ve broken down and released their juices..they will be floating in their own liquid – super saucy. If you use frozen, this will take longer. Strain cooked down, sweetened raspberries in a fine meshed sieve into a bowl, pressing down on them to get every bit of liquid out. You should have about 1 cup raspberry juice. Place this back in a clean saucepan, and cook down until reduced to 1/2 cup. It should be thick – like chocolate syrup, and will be dark blood red. Set aside until completely cool.

2. Make Egg Cream. Pour the whole milk into a tall soda fountain like glass (about 16 oz). Stir in 2 tablespoons of raspberry syrup until uniform.  IMPORTANT PART – keep stirring the raspberry syrup – milk mixture, rapidly, as you pour in the seltzer. A perfect egg cream should have 1 to 2 inches of foam on top. Add an extra tablespoon of raspberry syrup, if not sweet enough.

Optional – Top with a little whipped cream, raspberries and chocolate, but it’s really not needed.  Stick in a straw and enjoy!

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Berries and Buttermilk Puddings and my First GIVEAWAY!

February 3, 2010 at 10:56 am | Posted in Dessert, Giveaway, Puddings | 57 Comments
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You know, I’ve had this blog going for almost 2 years, and I have yet to present a giveaway.  I feel left out, I feel cheap, I feel like the kid in the lunchroom with the sandwich that will no one will trade for.  OK, that’s overreacting to the 100th degree.  Let’s just say that I have tons and tons of goodies, most of which I’ll never use, that I’d like to share with you all.

Well, I’ll get to that part after I touch on these luscious, decadent buttermilk puddings with a strawberry-red wine sauce, and fresh, succulent berries.  The pudding sounds really fattening, doesn’t it?  I mean, some perceive buttermilk to be loaded with butter – it’s not.   It’s the sour liquid that remains after the butterfat has been removed from whole milk or cream by churning when making butter.  However, most commercial buttermilk is now produced by other means, mainly cultured –  aka cow’s milk with lactic acid bacteria added to it.

Alright enough with the scientific mishmash.  This pudding tastes like cheesecake – I mean it, creamy, rich cheesecake pudding, but again..it’s not..it’s actually low in fat, and even lower if you use low fat milk!  I had half a quart of buttermilk left from some muffins I made (coming soon) and I’m so bad when it comes to buttermilk – a certified buttermilk ‘waster’.  I buy it for one recipe (yes, I know, milk plus lemon juice or vinegar, but sometimes I feel like using something that is what it is..lol), then it sits in the back of my fridge until it becomes it’s own life form..bacteria babies multiplying like bunny rabbits, then starting their own families, and so on and so forth.

When I dare to look, it’s actually moving and chunky - one sniff and well, I don’t think I need to elaborate.  Down the drain it goes..with a good shower of steaming hot water to melt the chunky parts.  Have I grossed anyone out yet?  It wasn’t my intention, but if you ask anyone who knows me, I’m not one to hold back when it comes to saying what’s on my mind..chunky bits or not.

                   Darn shiny glasses and fake lighting – couldn’t avoid the glare.

With that said, this time I wasn’t going to waste the damn buttermilk.  I surfed to epicurious.com, typed in buttermilk, and this was the first recipe that came up.  Usually, I need to sift for a while, but nope, this was right up my alley, especially after all the rich holiday food still clogging every artery, organ, pore etc.  I was not disappointed – you have to try these, and it’s truly, truly nowhere near as fattening as it tastes.  INDULGE!

Now to the fun part – my GIVEAWAY – YAY!  I’m starting slow, as I don’t want to overdo it since it’s my first one, and I’m NOT Pioneer Woman (obviously).  This isn’t stuff sent to me by a company because they want a product plug (not that there’s anything wrong with that) to a bagillion readers, (Kitchen Aid Mixers!  She gives away Kitchen Aid mixers to her readers – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg!), this is from my humble, little kitchen, just something I want to give away because, well, friends and family give me a lot of food and kitchen related stuff as gifts, and as mentioned above, I’ll never use it all…so who better to pass it on to than my fellow food fanatics?

To put it simply, most of my giveaways will be akin to you coming over and while we chat, eat, cook/bake, play Twister, whatever, I keep piling stuff on you

“Here, take this, you’ll love it!”. ..”Oh, look, 10 different kinds of flavored oils, 9 of which I’ll never use..take them..please!”.

Granted, everything is brand spanking new..I’m not one of those types.   I once worked with a woman who actually saved half a sub sandwich she didn’t eat (2 days old), a little nibble off the corner, and brought it into work to pawn off on someone because she didn’t like to wate food.  If Wordpress had a disgusted/WTH?? emoticon, you’d see it right HERE.  That was the look on all of our faces when she decided we were no different than her dog.

OK, onto the haul.  I have enough panko breadcrumbs to bread enough food to feed almost all of Manhattan..seriously – SO, one, lucky reader..please take these!  Oh, here’s the cool part..they’re flavored panko, fusion panko!  We’ve got South West panko, Garlic panko, and Teriyaki panko..a three pack - NO mustard or plain.  Just leave a comment and I’ll use that random integer thingamahjig to choose a winner.  The winner will be announced one week from today.  By the way, this is not just limited to the USA..I will ship anywhere in the world.  Fair is fair, and whatever number comes up is where it goes!

Berries and Buttermilk Puddings
Gourmet Magazine via Epicrurious.com

For buttermilk puddings:
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 cup whole milk, divided
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
6 tablespoons sugar
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk

For sauce:
1/4 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoon sugar
1 (3-inch) strip lemon zest
1 (3-inch) strip orange zest
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
1 cup quartered strawberries
2 cups mixed berries

Equipment: 4 (6-to 8-ounce) bowls or wide glasses

DIRECTIONS FOR PUDDINGS:
1. Sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup milk in a small bowl and let soften 1 minute.

2. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into a small heavy saucepan and add pod. Add remaining 3/4 cup milk and sugar and bring just to a boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat. Add gelatin mixture to hot milk mixture, stirring until dissolved. Quick- chill in an ice bath, stirring occasionally, until cold but not thickened, about 5 minutes.

3. Stir in buttermilk, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a large glass measure, discarding solids. Pour into bowls and chill until set, at least 8 hours.

DIRECTIONS FOR SAUCE:
1. Bring wine, water, sugar, zests, and bay leaf to a boil in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved, then boil until reduced to about 1/3 cup, about 10 minutes.

2. Add strawberries and simmer 5 minutes. Discard zests and bay leaf, then purée strawberry mixture in a blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids). Force through clean fine-mesh sieve and discard solids.

3. Chill sauce, stirring occasionally, until cold, about 1 hour.

To serve:
Spoon sauce over puddings and top with remaining berries.


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Eating my Curds and Ditching the Whey

May 4, 2009 at 11:12 am | Posted in Appetizers, Lunch | 55 Comments
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Last Friday, I was babysitting my amazing and adorable 10-month old nephew.  I love this kid like crazy, so I look forward to being able spend time with him, especially since I have all the time in the world at this juncture!  Naturally, the best part of being with him is cuddling him, playing with him, and hell, the diaper changes are no big whoop at all because nothing ‘baby Zach’ is gross to me.  One game he really loves I call ‘Bouncy Bouncy Boo Boo’.  I lie on my back and lift him up and down – bringing him all the way to my face so we touch noses, then all the way back up so he can ‘fly’.

While we do this, I repeat “BOUNCY BOUNCY BOO BOO” sporadically, in a silly voice, which makes him laugh hysterically.  His sweet and goofy laughter just fills my heart and makes it impossible not to smile so wide that my cheeks hurt.  Well, he got into such a fit of laughter during Bouncy Bouncy Boo Boo last Friday, that when I brought him back down to touch noses, my gaping grin so wide that you could probably see my wisdom teeth from a mile away, he suddenly dropped his head full force – right onto my right front tooth – PAIN plus a CRACKY like noise, then numbness.  It felt like an anvil had crashed through my roof and onto that tooth.

3168_70646684204_588779204_1684626_6286219_n                                               My sis and baby boulder head

Of course, my first concern was him, but he was fine, still laughing – the babe has one hard head!  After checking his head, looking into his eyes, panicking briefly, I afforded myself a nano-second to examine my tooth.  A little blood, and boy did it hurt, but of most concern, after him, was the fact that it felt a little loose.  OH NO!  *stereotype alert* Is it time to pack me off to Appalachia with a case of pork rinds and a banjo??

ingredients1

Just my luck, my dentist wasn’t going to be back in the office until Wednesday for evening hours, but I was told that if it’s only slight mobility, the tooth will tighten up on it’s own within a few days to a week - just stay away from hard foods like apples, hard pretzels etc.  Well, it has tightened up a little, and the pain has subsided, but it still feels weird, so I’m setting up an appointment for Tuesday or Wednesday, just to be safe.

ricotta1

ricotta2

Because of this, I’ve been existing on soup for the past week. I don’t want to take ANY chance of a chunk of even soft fruit in yogurt jostling that tooth. What a perfect time to try homemade ricotta cheese!  It’s soft, no biting down..no gaping hole smile.

Technically, this isn’t how ricotta cheese is made, but it tastes exactly like (but better) the ricotta cheese we’re all used to and it IS ricotta cheese. Ricotta (meaning recooked) is usually made out of whey, the liquid separated out from the curds when cheese is made, like mozzarella, and recooked.  In this recipe, you’re using the whole milk plus acid to make the ricotta and discarding the whey (although you can use it in homemade breads, or other preparations which I can’t conjure up at this moment).  This is the perfect time to ask, Can anyone think of any good uses for the liquid whey outside of watering the garden?  I have this weird thing about waste!).

Not only is this easy, with just 4 ingredients and a super rapid cooking time, but the results are well worth it.  You’ll never want to eat store bought again, although it does take quite a bit of milk – as in 8 cups of milk plus 1 cup of cream for a yield of about 1 1/2 to 2 cups ricotta,  OK, maybe you shouldn’t completely rule out store bought, but trust me – this is WELL worth tackling every so often, and the fresh, creamy result is to die for.  BTW, it didn’t jostle my tooth, so I may not have to relocate after all.  This is a good thing *stereotype alert #2* as demanding that someone bend over and “squeal like a pig!!” is not something I ever aspired to do, not even in a kinky way.

IMG_0338_edited                                      MY ‘soft’ dinner – with honey and black pepper

Finally, there is another reason I made this, but you’ll have to stay tuned to find out *don’t you hate when people do that?*  I know I’ve said this before and not come through (I accidentally deleted the photos of what I did with the all dark chocolate Valentino *I paired it with spiced, Frangelico poached pears, hazelnuts and creme fraiche*- and the supposedly soon coming post on the A-Rod deal), but this time it’s for real – I SUUUHWEAR!

Homemade Ricotta Cheese  pilfered from Brooklyn Farmouse

img_0382_edited-copy                                   

Equipment Needed:
-Sieve
-Cheesecloth
-Large Mixing Bowl

INGREDIENTS:
8 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt (more or less to taste)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

DIRECTIONS:
1. Line a large strainer or sieve with cheesecloth and place the strainer over a large bowl.

2. In a large pot or saucepan, bring the milk, cream, and salt to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally to keep milk mixture from scorching.

3. Add all the lemon juice, reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring gently once or twice, for 2 minutes. The mixture will curdle immediately.

4. Pour the mixture into the cheesecloth lined strainer and let drain for an hour or two.  Discard the liquid whey (Can be used in bread baking!) and refrigerate the ricotta or use immediately.  If you want it really dry, wrap it back up with the cheesecloth, leave it in the strainer over the bowl, weight it down with something heavy, and refrigerate overnight.

Makes about 1 1/2 to 2 cups fresh ricotta.


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