Tuesday, September 30, 2008

On Behalf of Fat Girls Everywhere...

When I was in college we read an article called, "Unpacking the White Knapsack," and it was about all of the aspects "white" Americans take for granted. In it, she makes a list of various assumptions white, upper middle class, heterosexual Americans can make. Some of them are...

"I am never asked to speak for all people of my racial group."
"I can choose bandages in "flesh" color and have them more or less match my skin."
"I can expect figurative language and imagery in all of the arts to testify to my experience of race."

This is what went through my mind today while standing outside of the drama room listening to 20 teenagers repeatedly sing the same bars from "Thoroughly Modern Millie" as my crazy coworker paid me what she thoroughly felt was a compliment.

So... I was walking back to my classroom, minding my own business, when a my crazy coworker made the ever so obvious statement, "You're still here?" Because I am tired, I will update this story later with several tangents about previous encounters I've had with this woman.

"It makes me so happy to see you and (insert name of other colleague here)." I was thoroughly confused, because I don't know her very well, but I have almost nothing in common with this other colleague, and I am very rarely in the same room with her.

"My husband has this daughter who is very fat," she began, "and he is worried that she will never amount to anything." Okay, I am thinking...

"But you have a job, and are successful and are getting married. You found a man who loves you, so there is hope for her, too." This is the point where my jaw drops. Am I really having this conversation? Did she really just tell me that she has hope for her fat step daughter because I am a successful individual? Perhaps I misunderstood. That's a big NO folks. I understood perfectly.

She continues... "You are such a good role model for these twiggy girls. They need to interact with people who are different from them and realize there is more to life than being skinny." Hmm. This is the point, I think, where I might have teared up, if I had enough respect for this woman to care about what she was saying..." She must have noticed the expression on my face, though, because then she launched into a five minute diatribe about how this is a compliment. After all, her favorite aunt probably weighed 600 hundred pounds, and she was the neatest woman ever. She kept telling me not to be offended. I finally just walked away. How does a person respond to that?

First of all, who walks up to a person and says that??? Second of all, I might be a little overweight, but not debilitating so, and I have certainly, in my life, overcome adversity FAR greater than finding a man who loves me for my wit, charm, intelligence and beauty.

So with that, I speak on behalf of all of the fat girls out there...
You are capable of being educated, professional, successful adults.
Men (Or women... I don't judge) will find you attractive for your beauty, inside and out.
Busybody coworkers will find ways, subtle or not, to point out your imperfections, despite the fact that they are at least two pants sizes overweight themselves, are married, and have the same job you do...


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Chicken Caesar Squares

Chicken Caesar Squares

2 cups cooked chicken breast, cubed
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons Caesar dressing (I use Newman's Own Creamy Caesar)
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 teaspoon minced garlic
t teaspoon lemon juice
1 8 oz. can crescent rolls

Heat oven to 375F. In a medium sized bowl, mix all filling ingredients until well combined.

Unroll dough. Separate into 4 rectangles. Press perforations together to make four rectangles. Press to be about 4 x 6 inches. Add 1/4 of filling to each rectangle, and gently fold edges over the filling. Seal well. Place on a cookie sheet.

Bake for 16-21 minutes or until golden brown.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

My Recent Baking Endeavours

I have done a bit of baking in the last month, and I will share those recipes now. The freezer is getting to be slim pickens, which is good, but now I just have a bunch of really odd stuff that requires advanced planning to make sure I have the fresh ingredients necessary. On the top shelf (the meat shelf), I still have 4 (2 person) servings of boneless skinless chicken breast, and about that many pork tenderloin chops, a pork tenderloin, 3 nice NY strip steaks, a slab of ribs, some Italian Sausage, at least 2 pounds of hamburger, a whole chicken, a brisket, another eye of round roast (very pretty, but not as yummy as other cuts of beef), some Italian sausage...

I also still have at least 3 different types of pasta, one of which is squash ravioli and one is some sort of fancy brie ravioli. These are those niche items I need to prepare for in order to serve well. For instance, the brie ravioli would be great with a nice green salad, some crusty bread and perhaps a mushroom sauce, but I have to plan ahead to have any of those ingredients. I still have at least all of one enormous package of pierogies. I still have some salmon, cod (Brad's contribution, a frozen pizza, the Costco chicken pot pie, a bag of Mongolian Beef that Brad found to be "okay," a bag of scallops, some shrimp, frozen veggies and random meals I've frozen for Brad's lunch, as well as a lasagna I made last time I made lasagna. So, I started this escapade on July1, and now, 2 1/2 months later, I still have not purchased anything but fresh fruits and veggies, dairy and produce. Well, and a couple of maintenance items, like mayo and soy sauce, but only because I was out and needed it... I wasn't stock piling.

The Pantry is still full too. I am pathetic. I will not be able to grocery shop until Christmas at the rate I am going.

Tonight I made "Death By Chocolate," which frankly, sounds like a great way to die. I used a cake mix, a box of pudding, a jar of hot fudge, and an open bag of toffee chips. I eliminated major supplies with this one!

Death By Chocolate
1 chocolate cake mix (I used Betty Crocker Milk Chocolate, because that is what I had...)
1 jar hot fudge
6 Heath or Score bars, chopped
1 large package vanilla pudding
1 1/2 cups 2% milk
1 16 oz. container cool whip
1 chocolate bar

Prepare cake mix using package directions. Bake in a 13 x 9 inch pan. (Sometimes, if I am feeling spunky, I substitute 1/2 of the water for Kahlua) Allow to cool completely, then slice into very small pieces (like 1 inch squares).

Mix pudding and milk. Stir well, and let sit 5 minutes to set. Add all but 1 1/2 cups of the cool whip to the pudding and mix well. Heat hot fudge until it is drizzleable.

In a pretty glass bowl, put down a layer of cake. Drizzle 1/3 of the hot fudge on top of the cake. Sprinkle 1/3 of the crushed candy on top. Add 1/3 of the pudding mixture. Add another layer of cake, a little less than half of the remaining mixture. Drizzle the rest of the hot fudge on top of the cake, then sprinkle the remaining candy pieces. Spread the remaining pudding mixture on top of the candy pieces. Make a final layer of cake on top of the pudding mixture. Top with the reserved cool whip. Decorate the top of the dessert with shavings from the chocolate bar.

Make one day in advance. It takes about a day for everything to meld together and taste like more than just the individual parts.

This is really really yummy, and very impressive despite the easy preparation. Also, it used multiple pantry ingredient, so it is a red banner recipe!

Recently, I also made some cookies, which I am going to call Nuts about Cookies, because I made up the recipe entirely by myself, and therefore can call it whatever I want. I made these because Brad called at 8 pm and requested a treat to take to work the next day. Bringing in treats increases his street cred at work, so I like to help with that.

Nuts About Cookies
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups mixed nuts, coarsely chopped
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Mix together butter and sugars until thoroughly combined. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well. Stir in baking soda and flour. Add nuts and chocolate chips. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake about 10 minutes, or until edges are golden brown and center is set. Remove from sheet immediately and allow to cool on racks.

Awhile ago, I had bananas going bad, so I made chocolate banana bread.

Chocolate Banana Bread
1/2 cup margarine, softened
1/2 cup applesauce
1 cup white sugar
4 eggs
6 bananas, mashed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup lite sour cream
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease two 9x5 inch loaf pans.

In a large bowl, cream together margarine, applesauce, sugar and eggs. Stir in bananas and vanilla. Sift in flour, baking soda and cocoa; mix well. Blend in sour cream and chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake in preheated oven for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of a loaf comes out clean.

This was very yummy, and a bit different than the usual banana bread. I made two loafs and froze one. It still tasted delectable out of the freezer!

Friday, September 12, 2008

How do you spell success?

So, if everyone else thought the dinner was good, but I didn't care for it, was it a successful meal? Brad is sick, and he requested comfort food. Comfort food for him is apparently Salisbury Steak, though when I need comfort I turn to crab Rangoon. I knew when he requested it that I wasn't going to love it. I figured I'd like it enough to eat it for a meal. I was wrong. I am not a picky eater. Ask anyone. There are a handful of things I would choose not to eat if given the choice, but can if someone puts it in front of me and says, "here's dinner." I figured it'd be like that, but no. The last few bites were hard to get down.

Brad, however, who has a decent palate, thought it was delicious and exactly what he remembered his grandmother making. In case you want to test it out... (Ringing Endorsement, eh... Well, it wasn't poorly made. I just didn't care for it.)

Salisbury Steak
1 pound lean ground beef
1 egg
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 pound baby portabello mushrooms, sliced
2 small onions, finely chopped
3 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons flour
1 (14 oz.) can beef broth
2 beef bullion cubes
1 1/4 cup milk

Combine ground beef, egg, garlic, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning in a bowl. Mix well. Make into 4 patties, about 1/2 inch thick. Cook in a skillet for about 3 minutes on each side. Remove from skillet.

In the same skillet, on medium heat, melt butter. Add mushrooms and onions and saute until onions are translucent and mushrooms release their juice. Add flour and stir until well incorporated. Add beef broth, milk and bullion cubes. Cook on medium for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until mixture thickens. Add patties back into sauce. Cover will sauce. Turn heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

I served tonight's... experience... with fresh green beans made in a Ziploc Steamer bag and egg noodles.

I used up the egg noodles from the pantry, and a pound of ground beef from the freezer.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Mushroom White Cheddar Soup

It rained and rained and rained and rained and rained on Thursday. I love soup, so I took this opporunity to make my first batch of the cool season. I served it with Crescent Rolls (the kind in the tube - baked per the package directions.

Mushroom White Cheddar Soup
1 tablespoon butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 pounds fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 tablespoon Penzey's Shallot Pepper Seasoning
2 (14 oz.) cans chicken broth
3 cups 2% milk
3 cups sharp white cheddar cheese

On medium high heat, melt butter in large pot. Add garlic and onion and saute until soft and translucent. Add mushrooms, and saute until they release their juices, stirring periodically. Add flour, black pepper, seasoned salt and Shallot Pepper Seasoning and stir until incorporated. Add chicken broth, and stir well. When soup begins to thicken, pour in milk, and stir well. Turn heat to medium. Add cheese and stir until cheese is melted. Season with additional salt and pepper , if desired. Yummo!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Tuesday and Wednesday

School has begun and I am officially lazy in the kitchen. It is important to note that I am also lazy in the posting, so even when I DO cook, it takes me a while to actually share this information. I didn't fall asleep last night until 2:30, and I woke up around 6:30 (which is the time I should leave my house!) My classroom is a trailer, which is less than beneficial for several reasons. 1. God does not like trailers. If ever there were a tornado, my students and I would not make it to the building. We would be carried off in a twister, and if we are lucky, we might land in colorful land complete with flying monkeys and little people singing about lollipops. More likely, though, we'd land somewhere really inconvenient, like the middle of the highway, or the river. 2. On days like today when it rains ALL DAY LONG, I get wet a lot. My hair has yet to dry today. I left for school with wet hair (see aforementioned note regarding oversleeping). I walked through the rain from my car to my trailer. Then, I had to open the door for my students between classes. Then, I had to lug a box full of recently copied materials, as well as 50 copies of The Scarlet Letter through the rain. Then, I had to open the door for my students between classes. Then, I had to walk in the rain to lunch. Then, I had to open the door for my students between classes. Then, I had to open the door for my students between classes. Then, I had to walk into the building to distribute various pieces of paper to various offices. Then, I walked to my car. Then I walked from my car. My hair is still wet. I smell like mildew. I had a good day. No, really I did. Just a bad hair day...

Last night for supper, I used up supplies. In fact, all I did was use supplies. I made an Asian Gourmet (from Aldi) box of yellow curry rice. I added about 1/3 of a bag of frozen peas to the rice. I sauteed some chicken breast with onions in a little bit of oil, and then added a Trader Joe's bottle of Yellow Thai Curry sauce. It was delcious, and nutritious. AND... It used up freezer and pantry supplies.

Tuesday night, I made some sort of port reduction with mushrooms sauce for beef. It was pretty yummy, but I would've done it differently if I had it to do over again. I served it with some fresh sugar snap peas, and a box of rice pilaf (from the cupboard).

Beef with Shitaaki Mushrooms and Port Wine Reduction

Beef (I used two large NY strip steaks I had defrosted and needed to use)

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped.
2 cups shitaaki mushrooms, sliced
1 can beef broth
1 bottle mid grade Port
2 Tablespoons seedless raspberry jam
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

Heat olive oil in a large pan. Saute onion and garlic until soft and translucent. Add Bottle of port, and boil on medium for 30 minutes. Add beef broth, jam, Worcestershire sauce and mushrooms and boil for an additional 30 minutes. Sauce should be reduced significantly.

Meanwhile, cook the steaks on the grill or under the broiler to desired doneness. Serve the warm sauce over the beef.