Sunday, June 27, 2010

palm goodbye... and chicken en papillote

I bought the Blackberry Bold, and not because I needed it. My green eyes got the better of me and I caved. I have blue eyes, but you know what I mean...

I know Tom Cruise is a (insert descriptive phrase), but knowing he does his own stunts made me want to see Knight and Day. I guess this is why he hasn't stopped talking about it. Still, if you like a movie for the escape, this one goes to Boston, Seville and Salzburg, so it's fun.

The next day I saw Grown Ups. The theatre was packed and the movie was predictably abysmal. I can't even give them props for shooting a scene in Woodman's because (brace yourself) they ordered hamburgers. I miss that place.

I made Chicken in Parchment (chicken en papillote) today . . . it took 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven and it was extra healthy:

• 1 skinless, boneless chicken breast half
• 2 tablespoons lemon juice
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1 cup sliced mushrooms
• 1/4 cup scallions
• 1 teaspoon minced garlic
• 1/2 cup chopped tomato
• 1 cup chopped fresh spinach
• parchment paper

Tear a 20x12-inch piece of parchment paper; fold in half crosswise and crease. Open up again. On half of one parchment sheet, arrange chicken and all the ingredients on top. To make packet, fold parchment paper over chicken and vegetables. Crimp and fold edges to seal; twist corners. Place packet on a pie plate and bake in a 400° oven for about 20 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. (To test, carefully open the packets and peek.) Serve immediately.

Not your Boy Scout's foil dinner, all I'm saying. It was yummy.

At the same time I was eating my healthy Sunday dinner this was in the oven. And this was already on the cake plate, but in the form of small individual cakes. Contradictions in life...

Next on my kitchen "to do" list resides here. I made these at Christmas with apples and, um . . . fantastic. Now that I've found those bottled cherries at Trader Joe's I'm in.

Next up? "More is better..."

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Techno envy . . . I have it

I frequently have techno-envy. It isn't flattering and it doesn't make me feel good about myself. You have a toy, a new gadget, and it does something cool, even if I don't "need" that cool something it does . . . techno-envy. We have the same gadget but yours is upgraded? Serious techno-envy. It's problematic, because new things come out every day . . . and sometimes it's almost painful. The odd thing about it is new technology frustrates me. Just ask my spouse. He has often gifted me with something he just knew I felt that techno-envy about . . .and by the end of the day I've been close to tears and ready to toss it out the window. Not exaggerating (for emphasis.) And whatever you do, don't try to help me with it. DO NOT.

Sometimes being married to me is funny.

I guess marketing is all about torturing us on purpose. That pine furniture you hated? Give it away and buy that new black furniture that's in all the design magazines. Wait a few months . . . suddenly, pine is everywhere. In between the black furniture craze and the pine comeback, well, white furniture was all the rage. Need a new washer and dryer? Go out and buy the latest and greatest, go right ahead. The following week they make one that sings to you when your laundry is done. Purge your house of all color because every design blog in the world is all about beige - consider it insurance that Pottery Barn is about to change their entire focus and become all about yellow, green, red, florals! Whatever.

Back to technology...

Sadly (because I'm not cool), the reasons I crave technology have much more to do with being organized (a control freak) and less to do with having the newest coolest application. When I recently discovered I could buy the Nevada Rules of Civil Procedure for an iPhone I seriously almost wet my pants. People. This is how I make my living. The idea that I could carry that information around with me and have it at my fingertips almost made my head explode. But alas, I don't have an iPhone.

Remember the Palm Pilot? Loved mine. Now THAT was everything I ever wanted. I could put in all eight kids' birthdays, their spouses' birthdays, grandchildren birthdays . . . and actually set them to recur. To infinity. This meant if I met an unfortunate (at least to me) death my spouse could pick up my phone and know when everyone was born. Yes, I think this way, and (huge surprise) my spouse does not. Also, he does not know when everyone was born. See? I have a purpose.

I digress.

After the Palm Pilot came the Treo. Oh how I loved that phone. AND, hello Palm software on my cell phone. Now you are my planner and my phone. SCORE. Birthdays SAFE (in case of death.) Bishop's birthdays, Seminary students' birthdays, Time Out for Women dates. Grocery lists. And reminders. Can't even go there. Reminders! Thirteen months later (during a trip to Hawaii) that phone bit the dust. Off to the AT&T store we went to get the latest and greatest Palm had to offer. Because I'm brand loyal. That's how I roll (Bridget taught me that.) And here's the kicker. Get home, hotsync with my Outlook, everything is back. Every phone number, mailing address, email address, blog address and, yes, every birthday - right back at my fingertips. Infinity at my fingertips. And anyone else's fingertips (if I happen to turn up dead.)

Now what? My spouse is joining the rest of the world and buying that new iPhone. I can't take it. Suddenly it doesn't matter that my phone of choice does what I need it to do. Yes, it lets me write myself notes in the middle of the night, check. And then that note pops up on my office computer the next day, check. Suddenly, I have an overwhelming urge to be cool. iPhone cool.

Guess what? That iPhone doesn't do what I need it to do. Please advise.

P.S. I really want an iPad.

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Saturday, June 19, 2010

retro things and miscellaneous stuff...

Seven crowns. Seven new crowns. That's what I woke up with yesterday morning. They're not on my head, although sometimes an anesthesia haze can fool you. Done. Behind me.

No segue...

Seminary kids were outraged by my confession that I'd never seen Up. A few boys made me promise . . . so I made good on the promise, put my aversion to animation aside and I watched. Five minutes into the movie I looked at my spouse and said, "WHAT kind of movie is this?" I persevered and I'm so happy I did. Thank you, boys, for insisting. You were right. Your grape soda pins will soon be delivered.

No segue...

For about a year now I've been searching for (and buying) old mercury Christmas ornaments. Interesting glass ornaments like Kugel ornaments (silver picture) and some Kurt Adler glass Santa ornaments. It all started with last year's Christmas tree. I decorated it with brand spanking new Pottery Barn ornaments I bought the year before on clearance. I hated it. The new (and rather large) ornament collection looked rustic and interesting, but once on the tree it looked boring and not even close to Christmas-ey. I took them down, completely dismantled the tree and brought out some old glass ornaments. My tree ended up looking old fashioned and vintage like, complete with unwrapped, pretty, red and white candy canes . . . I fell in love with it. Since then I've slowly added to the collection of glass and mercury ornaments, including some of those vintage "indent" ornaments I remember from my childhood, and even some of those Shiny Brite ornaments. The collection is building. I like.

No segue...

You know those tricks you sometimes play on yourself . . . like setting your alarm 15 minutes before you have to get up just so you wake up knowing you don't have to get up for 15 minutes? You do this, right? This year we are going to the beach for vacation. On July 31st. Now it's the middle of June and vacation seems close because, after all, we're going in July. Tell me you get it.

No segue...

Today I'm making two of these, attending an open house for a former Seminary student (home from a mission in Connecticut) and meeting up with family for a Fathers' Day celebration at Settebello. In between, while working on those mundane Saturday tasks, I'll be watching Smash His Camera. What are you doing?

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

standing in your parents' shoes and a few other things...

One of the interesting things about getting older (there are so many) is recognizing you are still learning stuff about things you thought were behind you. Like parenting (not that it's ever really behind you). Even when your kids are grown up and gone, you watch people around you and you learn and it's just so interesting, yes? But then, isn't that what life is all about . . . learning as you go and suddenly finding yourself in someone elses' shoes? And then you get it. You understand. Usually you're standing in your parents' shoes. Lesson.

Speaking about parenting, a couple of weeks ago my Dad tried to give me $5,000. For the dentist. At lunch. It was sweet and it amused me (after tearing up), and then I remembered. I'm 54. I need to pay my own dentist bills. It's time. He also handed me a fortune from a cookie he opened on one of our regular Tuesday lunches. It said, "You will be called upon to help a friend." I'm saving it. He still wants to do everything he can for me. Lesson.

A couple of weeks ago I was bawling in Rachel's Kitchen. See paragraph two. Also, just to add to the mix . . . steroids are the devil. I know it looks as if there was no segue there, but there was. They make you cry. And worse. Recognizing there are people who regularly have to take that devil of a medication makes me count my ever loving blessings. I am not exaggerating for emphasis.

No segue...

Yesterday I had 12 rolls of Christmas wrapping paper delivered to the house. Yes, they were 90% off (and beautiful) and I only paid a dollar for each roll . . . but I'll be dead before I use all that wrapping paper. I am not sure what I was thinking. Also, my spouse look confused.

No segue...

I hate to jinx myself, but my final dentist appointment is Thursday. Once again, they are knocking me out. It seems they really want to spend no "awake time" with me whatsoever and, frankly, I don't blame them. I'm really not fun when I'm there. This time they prescribed drugs for the TWO DAYS BEFORE, if that's any clue. They don't want to even spend unsedated time with me for the 15 minutes I remain Patti when I get there. Whatever.

No segue...

When your Bishop calls you on a Thursday night at close to 10 o'clock and starts out the conversation with: "Patti, please forgive me for what I'm about to ask you to do . . . ", well, suddenly, being asked to speak in Church just isn't that big of a deal. Even if the topic happens to be modesty.

No segue...

There's a Kid Rock song I love, much to my husband's dismay. It gets stuck in my head and I can't stop thinking about it. Or singing it. I love it. And yes, I'm appropriately embarrassed.

No segue...

I was bored in Iron Man (even though I liked Gwyneth's clothes) but it was our FHE . . . I really had to stay in the theatre. Another time I compromised about seeing some scary movie and we happened to be at Rave in Town Square. Awesome digital theatres there. When the heart palpitations became unmanageable I just excused myself and went to Sephora. Was that wrong? This time I thought it'd be rude to excuse myself because, after all, it was Monday night. But oh I was tempted. I should mention we were the only ones in the theatre.

No segue (or is there) . . .

Fathers' Day is approaching and I'm thinking about things my Dad has taught me. Once I came home from Lynne Wholey's house and pronounced her parents weird . . . all because her Dad came home from the office and didn't kiss her Mom. My Dad said, "Everyone is weird except for you and me, Patti, and I'm not too sure about you." I like to repeat that when I see someone making the same mistake I did, or sometimes, just to lighten the conversation. There's a lot of wisdom in that one little sentence.

My favorite gift from my Dad ever was what he taught me about work ethic. It turned out to be the most valuable gift he ever gave me, too. His example of hard work was right there for us to see, whether in his job or volunteering at the parish bingo games. In more than 35 years of working at IBM I saw my Dad call in sick ONE day, with the exception of a few days he needed to be at home following a surgical procedure on his knee. He gave that to me and I am forever indebted to him.

For the record, I'm glad he's around for so many reasons, but this week because we were able to have lunch and laugh ourselves silly about a conversation I regularly had with my Mother - just to bait her and make her laugh uncontrollably. I would set her up every time (about once a year)and she would just forget we ever had that conversation before. Or would she?

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Fathers and Sons

A couple of boys I love are in this new video...

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Roy's Pineapple Upside Down Cake

We opted out of any luau when we were in Hawaii, but I managed to find out what all the fuss was about when it came to a Hawaiian Pineapple Upside Down Cake, and not the ones I'd had before. It's a true Hawaiian classic composed of a moist yellow cake topped with caramelized pineapple. In Hawaii it's often served with coconut ice cream. Awesome.

Chef Roy's recipe is an update on the Hawaiian classic. They serve it moments out of the oven, piping hot and so delicious. This is Chef Roy's recipe. You really need to use the 4 oz. ramekin/mold to be successful with this recipe. It's worth it.

7 ounces butter
1/2 cup plus 2-1/2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
4 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
7 ounces milk
2 pounds fresh pineapple, cut in 2-inch strips, 1/4-inch thick


1-1/4 pounds butter
1 pound (2-1/4 cups) brown sugar

Spray 18 4-ounce molds with cooking oil spray.

To make sauce: Heat butter and sugar over medium heat and bring to boil, stirring so sugar doesn't burn. Pour 2 tablespoons into each mold; chill 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To make batter: Cream butter and sugars. Beat in eggs.

Sift together flour, salt and baking powder. Add mixture gradually to creamed mixture and beat until incorporated. Fold in milk and vanilla.

Arrange pineapple slices over glaze in molds. Top with 1/4 cup batter. Bake 17 to 18 minutes.

Turn molds over on plates and unmold cakes. Serve hot.

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Blondie Bars

2 sticks (8 oz) butter, melted
1 lb. light brown sugar (about 2 1/4 cups)
3 extra-large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 cups chocolate chips (use milk, dark, white, whatever...)
chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix sugar, eggs, vanilla with a spoon. Add flour, baking powder, salt, and stir until combined. Add chocolate chips, and pecans if you like.

Bake in a 15x10x2 inch pan for 20-30 minutes or in two 9x9x2 inch pans for 25 minutes. You can also use a 13x9 inch pan and cook for 25-35 minutes. Killer.

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Rao's Meatballs

You've heard me talk about Rao's before. Best meatball I've ever had. What follows is their very own recipe.

For what it's worth, I once took a series of cooking classes at Wolfgang Puck's Chinois at the Forum Shops(I miss that restaurant) - the Chef suggested a meatball wasn't a meatball unless it was a blend of ground meats. I think I believe him now.

1 pound ground lean beef
½ pound ground veal
½ pound ground pork
2 large eggs
1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1½ tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
½ small garlic clove, peeled and minced
2 cups bread crumbs
2 cups lukewarm water
Salt & pepper to taste
1 cup Rao’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Combine beef, veal, and pork in a large bowl. Add eggs, cheese, parsley, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Using your hands, blend ingredients together.

Blend bread crumbs into meat mixture. Slowly add water,1 cup at a time, until the mixture is quite moist.

Shape the meat mixture into balls (2½ to 3 inch balls).

Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan. When oil is very hot but not smoking, fry meatballs in batches. When bottom half of meatball is very brown and slightly crisp turn and cook top half. Remove from heat and drain on paper towels.

Lower cooked meatballs into simmering Marinara Sauce and cook for 15 minutes. Serve over pasta or on their own. Makes about 28 meatballs.

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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Raspberries in Puff Pastry by Wolfgang Puck

Puff pastry is my friend. Pepperidge Farm in the frozen section is the greatest - it's versatile and buttery. I like Trader Joe's version, too, but it's typically only around during the holidays. Pepperidge Farm also makes the patty shells and these are so fun to fill. Wolfgang likes to make desserts with puff pastry. I do, too. Read what he says:

"Once all the components are ready - and they can be prepared earlier in the day - it is a simple matter to put them together. The puff pastry squares, called feuilletées, can also be used to make other desserts - with various fruits, ice cream and sweet sauces."

1/2 lb. puff pastry
1 egg with 1 tablespoon of water, lightly beaten, for egg wash
1 cup heavy cream, whipped
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1/2 cup raspberries, per serving

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Roll out puff pastry to a rectangle slightly larger than 6 by 9 inches, 3/8 inch thick. Cut pastry into six 3-by-3-inch squares. Place them on a baking sheet and brush with egg wash, being careful not to let it drip onto the baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes; then lower the heat to 350°, and bake 20 minutes longer.

While the pastry is baking, whisk together in a mixing bowl the whipped cream and vanilla. Chill until needed.

Remove feuilletées from the oven, cool on a wire rack. Then slice them in half horizontally. Place the bottom half of each one on a dessert plate and spread with a large dollop of whipped cream mixture. Arrange the berries on the whipped cream and top with the remaining half of the feuilletée.

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