Dart Date Night

DireMole and I have added another resolution to the start of our year… Dart Date Night! Dire came up with the idea the other week when he kicked my ass (faster than usual) over a game of darts and beers.

Over a year ago when we lived separately, we used to play regularly at a bar across the street from my condo. Most of the time when Fitz came to visit we ended up at that bar for dinner and drinks. I had never played darts before, so he taught me and we had a lot of fun. I ‘m completely unpredictable. When I try for a target,  I typically miss the board. When I don’t try, I hit a bullseye. The more drinks I have, I hit my peak… but there’s a magic number of beers that I just get sloppy. Dire has always been patient with me or maybe he’s humored by my “skills”. Either way, it’s a fun hobby that we used to do.

When I moved in with him, we realized that our favorite dart-bar wasn’t as accessible. So we purchased a dart board, a set of darts, and a protective border for the wall (due to my high miss rate) for our condo. It looks official. But now we hardly ever play.

So to reinstate our hobby and improve our skills,  we plan on having a Dart Date Night once a week. Maybe go pro one day in a team league??? Of course our team name will be Champions of the Human Race. Tonight will be our first Dart Date Night and I’m looking forward to being schooled.

 

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Christmas Gift Inspiration

Today I was inspired by a DIY gift idea that I can give my coworkers. It seems like every other day we have another social event… holiday potluck, ugly sweater lunch party, secret Santa week, company Christmas party, holiday happy hour, and so forth. I just hope I can show a sliver of appreciation for all the non-stop bullshit I’ve had to avoid.

So to show my appreciation, I plan on wrapping up gently used food items to share with the bozos at work. Since DireMole and I are going out-of-town for an extended holiday break and I don’t want our food to go to waste, this is the perfect solution!

And of course I expect a similar reaction from my colleagues as the kids in this video. They seem to have similar mentalities and maturity-levels.

Here you go Anna, you can have my half eaten tomato salsa. And for you Tony, you get this tortilla that I found in the back of my fridge! Craig gets the egg! Better put that puppy in the fridge unless you want it to go bad. Of course I would wrap the gifts in festive paper or gift bags to put forth that extra effort. You’re so very welcome! …and Happy Holidays!

 

 

Depressed Dinner

Over the past year I have decided to work my way through recipes that I have saved online for nearly 10 years…pre-Pinterest. It’s been a fun adventure AND I feel like my cooking techniques have improved. Some recipes are excellent, and if that’s the case, then they earn a spot in my 3-ringed binder and become a resident in our permanent recipe collection. If they suck, then its straight to the recycling bin and removed from my virtual folder, forever. Each week I pick out a handful of new recipes that utilize seasonal ingredients or ingredients that I can reuse for another recipe. DireMole  reviews my selections and approves if he will eat the culinary creation or not.

o-FIGS-facebookA  few weeks ago we went through this process and agreed to bake a turkey breast  stuffed with spinach and bacon. To take it up a notch, the turkey is topped with a fig and port wine sauce. By all means, this should have been an awesome dinner. How can you go wrong with figs, bacon and wine?? We had a few potatoes on hand so we whipped up mashed potatoes for the side.

Dire and I followed the directions and removed the turkey bones, flattened it out, and then rolled that turkey breast like we were a bunch of Chipotle superstars. We browned the sides and let the turkey bake while the figs simmered. It was teamwork at it’s finest, especially for a Monday night. I served dinner and arranged the food on the plate to make anyone question if I was really a 5-star chef in disguise.  Dire picked a movie so we could relax on the sofa with our fancy-pants meal.  We savored our first taste of the stuffed turkey… and my verdict? It sucked. A waste of time, flavor and ingredients. I was really excited to try this meal and it fell below expectations. However, my meat-rolling skills are worth mentioning, so I guess that’s good. Poor figs, they really deserved a better fate.

Grandma-ChefThis is still a really fun project (working through recipes) but it has its ups and downs. I’d like to think that I’m working on curating a family recipe/cookbook and one day I will pass my “tried-and-true” recipes as a coveted trophy to the most deserving family member. I want to be that grandma one day. The one that OWNs the best family dishes.

Pooping-spree

IMG_3262Jalapeno Rubes, the PirateGoat, picked up the poop bug this weekend. And over the past two days I have cleaned our home (non-stop) to get rid of the liquid sharts. The good news?? It hasn’t hit the bed. The bad news? Everything smells like a concoction of  disinfectant and diarrhea.

Poor pup. Her stomach is rumbling and she seems very uncomfortable. DireMole has been on walking and trash duty, even at early morning hours. And I’ve played poop-janitor. It’s been a shitty situation for everyone.

I wish there was a step-by-step guide on how to remove diarrhea from carpeted areas and successfully survive a pooping-spree. Maybe this is my calling?

Current strategy:

  1. Grab handfuls of plastic bags and a trash bag.
  2. Light a few candles to set the mood.
  3. Turn on some “happy music” (My current choice- Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs) and pretend like you haven’t succumbed to dog poop.
  4. Put on your game face!
  5. Kneel over, turn head away from poop like you are giving blood, and scoop up as much diarrhea as possible into a plastic bag.
  6. Dump that nasty bag into the trash bag.
  7. Use pet rug cleaner and saturate the stain.
  8. Bring out the heavy reinforcements with a steam cleaner and spray a 1-foot radius around poop stain(s). Suck that shit up!
  9. Take a deep breath and admire your bravery.
  10. Let dry and then sprinkle vacuum powder all over previously infected area.
  11. Let stand and then vacuum to remove stink.
  12. Air-out rug by either taking it outside or letting  fresh air into the house.
  13. Pat yourself on the back because you just schooled that dog poop.

Well, maybe this isn’t a best method for cleaning squirts. But we are surviving the pooping- spree day-by-day.

Baked Oatmeal Casserole

What is this amazing-ness?? Oh, it’s what I like to call Baked Oatmeal Casserole and its perfect for weekend breakfasts, using up almost-expired fruit/nuts, and great for leftovers as breakfast-on-the-go. DireMole love’s him some oatmeal, but sometimes it gets boring. So here’s my tip for making oatmeal exciting again! It’s even better as leftovers.

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This weekend I used two bananas, a peach, and some leftover pecans for this dish. Here’s what you need to get started:

  •  1 Cup Rolled Oats
  • 1 Cup Steel Cut Oats
  • 1/2 Cup Nuts (pecans, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts)
  • 1/2 Cup Dried Fruit (I typically use cranberries or raisins)
  • 1/4 Cup Maple Syrup or Honey
  • Ground Cinnamon (for taste)
  • Sea Salt (for taste)
  • 1 Cup Vanilla SoyMilk
  • 1 Cup Milk (heavier the milk, the creamier the oatmeal)
  • Vanilla Extract (for taste)
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 or 2 Ripe Bananas
  • Other fruit about to go to waste (I typically use peaches, strawberries, blueberries, or apples)

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Butter the casserole dish, I recommend using a smaller dish to get a denser casserole.

In one bowl mix the dry ingredients: oats, nuts, dried fruit, cinnamon and salt.

In another bowl mix the wet ingredients: Honey/ Maple Syrup, Milk, Egg, and Vanilla.

Slice the bananas into pieces and line the bottom of the casserole dish with the sliced bananas. This is pretty imperative for impressing your foodie friends! Make sure you get it right!  I vary the thickness of my slices just because I get bored.

Dump the Dry Bowl and spread evenly on top of layered bananas.

Dump the Wet Bowl slowly, and evenly over the Dry Bowl ingredients.

Slice fresh fruit (in this example I used peaches) then scatter remaining nuts (I used pecans) and sliced fresh fruit on top.

Bake for 40 mins. until bubbly and golden. IMG_3213

If you aren’t watching calories, drizzle melted butter and honey/maple syrup on top. Enjoy! I didn’t do it, but you could, and that would be really awesome for you. IMG_3215

 

LevelUp:+1 Making Oatmeal More Exciting and Tasty, +1 For Even Better Leftovers, +1 Using Ripe Bananas for Something Else Besides Bread and Pancakes, +1 Point for Culinary Masterpieces, +1 Point for Re-purposing Leftovers

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Who Can Resist Pie?

Here’s another LevelUp for you… Keep frozen dough on hand! I love to cook but sometimes DireMole and I can’t eat all the left overs before they spoil. Or sometimes the meal was decent, but it could have been better… and what makes any meal taste better? Wrapping it in crispy, buttery, doughy and flaky crust!!

I keep whole wheat pie crusts on hand to make breakfast Quiche with leftover ingredients or leftover dinner.

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees20140723-141948-51588578.jpg
  2. Bake frozen crust for 15 mins until bubbly and almost golden
  3. Dump leftovers in a bowl
  4. Add 4-6 eggs (depending on the size of your pie pan)
  5. Add cheese (whatever you got on hand) to please!
  6. Mix that mess up
  7. Dump the egg and leftover mixture into pie crust and top with more cheese
  8. Bake at 375 degrees for approx 45mins, until the pie looks like an egg bubble

Typical Leftovers for Quiche:

  • Leftover fixings from fajita/taco – night
  • Leftover chili because it’s so good but you are sick of eating sludge
  • Leftover  veggies that don’t look like they can make it another day without being used…(onions, tomatoes, garlic, peas, herbs, cauliflower, asparagus, broccoli, spinach, squash, potatoes, etc…)
  • BACON! Not sure why you would have this leftover, but if you do…chuck it in! (Cooked)

Besides pie crusts, sometimes I have flaky pastry dough or phyllo (filo) dough leftover from another recipe. Instead of letting the dough freeze to death crystals, I make snacks or food-on-the-go for DireMole and myself. For example, the other night I made a healthy Indian curry. But I had 3-4 servings leftover and frankly, dinner tasted “just ok”. So I used flaky pastry dough leftovers to make handheld chicken curry pies (or baked empanadas). Maybe I can trick DireMole into thinking he isn’t eating leftovers disguised in pie-form??

Baked Food Pockets from Leftovers

  1. Defrost frozen pastry or phyllo dough according to package
  2. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
  3. Take leftovers and mix in a bowl. You may need to cut leftover meat and veggies into smaller bites.
  4. Sprinkle flour on a dry surface
  5. Roll out dough
  6. Use a small bowl or cookie cutter to make pie crusts
  7. Place dough cut outs on baking sheet – make sure you have an even amount!
  8. Spoon leftover filling on top of half of the dough cut-outs
  9. Place a dough cut-out on top of filling
  10. Crimp edges and make lil’ food pockets of yummyness!
  11. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 mins. for each side of the food pockets (= 20 mins. total)

Typical Leftovers for Food Pockets:

  • Leftover fixings from fajita/taco – night
  • Leftover Thanksgiving! Turkey… cranberry sauce…gravy…stuffing and potato casseroles (sweet or regular) You name it- chuck it in!
  • Leftover chili for your own empanada creation
  • Leftover curry to make your own samosas
  • Cheese
  • Make sure you add only cooked ingredients
  • You may need a little sauce so they don’t dry out!

If those ideas don’t tempt you… just make a leftover-inspired pizza. You can pick up pre-made pizza dough at a bakery, Whole Foods, or your local grocer. I usually go for the whole wheat option. Just add sauce, cheese, leftovers, and about-to-parish produce. I usually cut a few herbs from the garden to jazz it up!

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Rummage around the kitchen for random leftovers and cut them up!
  3. Sprinkle flour on a dry surface
  4. Roll-out dough
  5. Place dough on pizza stone or cookie sheet
  6. Use a spoon to press dough and form pizza crust
  7. Bake for 5 mins.
  8. Remove dough from oven
  9. Splash dough with sauce
  10. Add cheese
  11. Add toppings while being creative to make designs with your food. (It’s like when you were a kid and your parents didn’t want you to play with your food. Now, YOU CAN!)
  12. Place back into oven for 15-20 mins. Or until it looks amazing and you are drooling at the sight of it.

 

LevelUp: +1 Point for Culinary Masterpieces, +1 Point for Re-purposing Leftovers, +1 Point for learning to Keep Dough Stocked in Freezer

Homebrew Treats for Four-Legged Creatures

DireMole and I talked about homebrewing for over a year. Finally, we got around to making our first batch after it took us months to gather all the equipment and “jerry-rig” our kitchen to brew. It was an all-day affair of playing “meth-lab” while drinking tasty craft beer and spilling water all over the place. The floor never looked so clean!

We had 12 lbs of spent grain leftover and I didn’t see the need to throw all of it out…therefore, I decided to use the leftovers to share with our furry-friend, JalapenoRubes.

This is my second batch of treats and our PirateGoat loves to devour them when she is rewarded for good behavior… therefore, we give most of them away. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 Cup Flour

1/2 Cup Peanut Butter (I used chunky)

1 Egg

2 Cups Spent Grain

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Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Dump all ingredients in a bowl then mix that shit up until it becomes a thick, heavy blob.20140629-100541-36341544.jpg

Sprinkle some flour on the counter and place the blob on top of the flour.

Use a rolling-pin or another tool (let your imagination run wild) to flatten the blob. Sprinkle more flour on the dough if the dough is too sticky.20140629-100542-36342774.jpg

If you are extra crafty, use  festive cookie cutters to make the treats. If you don’t have a cookie cutter, use a knife and cut-out bars or whatever shape you wish.

Bake the treats at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes. Turn the heat down to 225 degrees and bake for an additional hour to dry them out.20140629-100545-36345292.jpg

Let the treats cool. Then, place them into a cookie jar or package them into baggies to share with your doggie friends.

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Level Up: +1 Point for Sharing,+1 Point for Culinary Masterpieces, +1 Point for Screwing Around with Cookie Cutters, +1 Point for Happy Dog, +1 Point for Re-purposing Brewing Ingredients