Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I'm a CopyCat - Swordfish with Fennel

Yesterday my niece Stephanie posted a photo of her dinner of swordfish with a topping that included fennel. I love swordfish, but it's not always readily available, and it is often out of my budget. As I was driving down 64 anyway today, on my way home from visiting my mom, I popped in to Trader Joe's as they always have frozen swordfish steaks and they are not too dear. Not cheap either, sadly, but they do seem to be fresh and of good quality.

To copy Steph, I also grabbed some fennel for the very first time. Until today, I had neither cooked it nor even tasted it, though I knew it to be licorice-flavored. I chopped up a bulb and tasted a raw piece and I do not think I shall be eating it raw. Way too strong a licorice flavor for my tastes. Anyway, I sauteed an onion and a fat clove of garlic in olive oil, then added the chopped fennel, a chopped tomato, some fresh basil chiffonade, a palmful of chopped kalamata olives and a big spoonful of capers, plus salt and pepper.

Cooked with all these other ingredients, the fennel completely mellowed out and was only left with a very faint licorice flavor (a good thing in my book). It was a lovely topping for a nice dense piece of fish. 

I totally cheated with the side vegetables and used a frozen mix, but it was a pretty good one, with lots of asparagus.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Chicken Wing Sunday and Meatless Monday

At the end of a long day that included me overdosing on caffeine and aimless chatter, I wanted something comforting. Chicken wings comfort me. Especially grilled wings slathered in sticky sweet spicy barbecue sauce. Add to that a creamy mashed sweet potato and a pile of scalloped corn first sauteed in a bit of bacon grease. Yes, those things were comforting.

For Meatless Monday I wanted the meal to center around asparagus and cremini mushrooms. I was originally thinking of a panini of some sort as I had found a loaf of pumpernickel on sale. However, once I got home I found a bag of mushroom tortellini and that became an option. Offering the Boy the choice, he of course picked the pasta. (He informed me a couple weeks ago that he would always pick the pasta, almost no matter the choice. Crazy.) So the option being pasta, I sauteed the sliced mushrooms, asparagus, and onion in olive oil until all the items were cooked through. Then I added some evaporated milk (didn't happen to have half and half or cream on hand) and parmesan cheese and let the liquid reduce until I was ready to add the cooked tortellini to the pan.

In the meantime I finely chopped a fat clove of garlic, diced a whole, medium tomato and made a chiffonade out of little stack of fresh basil leaves. I had already thinly sliced some pumpernickel, brushed it with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and garlic and then put it under the broiler until crisp. Put both components together for pumpernickel bruschetta. Mmmmmmm, hello raw garlic. Guess you're staying overnight, garlic breath.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Shrimp stir-fry with sweet chili sauce

Stir-fry dishes and soups are the best way to use up odds and ends in the refrigerator and freezer and since it's too hot for soup...

If I had my little way I'd eat peaches everyday/Sun soakin' bulges in the shade - Peach summer cake

I'm kind of a dolt. I bought some ripe peaches yesterday and wanted to make a cake or a cobbler or something with them but I could decide what. I did a bunch of web searches and finally settled on a recipe I found on Chowhound (a site that I generally dislike, but I'll get to that in a minute), here. I made the batter, added the fruit, washed the dishes, baked the cake and took it out of the oven. It wasn't until I was walking out of the kitchen after it was done that it dawned on me I had made the EXACT same recipe as the summer strawberry cake. I mean exactly. Both of them even said they were adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe. D'oh! I must say that the Smitten Kitchen blog made the recipe seem more prissy and fussy than it really is which is possibly why I didn't recognize it as the same on Chowhound immediately. Regardless of the source of the recipe (and I firmly expect to someday stumble across the original Martha recipe and not recognize it yet again), I think I will like the peach version better.
As for Chowhound, I really don't know that much about it, except that the recipes I've stumbled across are always in (or linked in) the forum boards portion of the website. I'm not sure that there are recipes elsewhere or not. The forums are full of chatty discourse among people who clearly spend a LOT of time there with one another. There's nothing inherently wrong with that, of course, but it reminds me of nothing less than the blathering on adult sex chat sites. (If you have read back in the archives of this blog, you might know that I once spent a fair amount of time on one of those. Take my word for it, there's a lot less sex being chatted than you might imagine.) I suppose that all internet forums about anything eventually descend into the morass of a couple queen bees and king rats holding court with their minions kissing their asses at every opportunity. And you can guess that I want nothing to do with that nonsense. I get the same squicky feeling when I happen upon one of the myriad crafty/cooky/decoratory blogs run by a housewife with 2+ adorable children and hundreds of followers (and no less than five badges proclaiming them part of this or that network or best of the ladyblogs or 'click here to kiss my ass') who exclaim that every word the blogger has written is pure manna from the gods. "Oh my GOD, your cupcakes with multicolored spinkles are the CUTEST THINGS I HAVE EVER SEEN! You are so inspiring!" Oh, fuck me.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

And then he stood in the check-out line/Approximately 3 hours/"This is cold w ar!" shouted a clerk/"This is Russian hell!" shouted a jerk - Bacon and egg cupcakes

"Cupcakes" is a bit of a misnomer in this recipe as there is no batter and nothing remotely sweet. They aren't even made in cupcake papers, though they are supposed to be baked in a jumbo muffin tin. So, Bacon and Egg Muffins would be a better name, I think, though that is still not quite hitting it.

A friend posted these on Facebook the other day and they were irresistible as I love all the components (only three of them, actually) and I will take any excuse to eat eggs at any time of the day. The Boy isn't big on breakfasts that deviate from his decades long juice-cereal-banana-whilst-reading-the-paper routine so these beauties had to be for dinner.

Unfortunately, in the thrill of buying bacon and biscuits I totally forgot that I don't own a jumbo muffin pan to bake these in so I had to improvise with rings of heavy duty foil on a cookie sheet. There was a teeny bit of egg leakage, but otherwise it worked fine.

Make these; they are delicious.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Dunk my heart in a vat of lard/it's getting all crispy and it's gettin' all hard/Deep fried love, come on give me the grease -

There are things I have purposefully not learned to make, mostly because I don't want it to be [relatively] easy to produce things I probably shouldn't eat very often anyway. Another barrier down today as I took the leap and made chicken fried steak. It's not a difficult dish; more just a pain in the ass to get things timed correctly.

I took round steak out of the freezer with no clear plan, so I did an ingredients search on Allrecipes.com and all I could see were various recipes for chicken fried steak. And so it was written. And so it was. (This was the basic recipe I used, for Steak Fingers.) Of course, there had to be mashed potatoes (and I will cop to making the instant variety because the Boy prefers them), and milk gravy. For good measure, I threw in a salad made from arugula, Boston lettuce, tomato and fried onions.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

White chalk, written on red brick/Our love, told in a heart/It's there, drawn in the playground/Love, kiss, hate or adore - Smoked sausage and lentils

I had to get dinner together in a hurry today as the Boy was planning on heading out early to see Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt at the Fox. First I got a little steak out of the freezer, but soon enough that didn't seem like a good idea and I thought of the beef smoked sausage still in the freezer and of the lentils in the pantry. I love lentils. When I was vegetarian I ate what seemed like a ton of lentils; they are delicious and filling and super easy and quick to cook. Today's had dried minced onions (to lazy to slice up a fresh onion), sliced carrots, garlic, beef bullion, salt and pepper and some time to cook. Oh, and sliced beef smoked sausage as well.

And a salad, as usual.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Always, no sometimes, think it's me, but you know I know when it's a dream/I think I know I mean a 'Yes' but it's all wrong, that is I think I disagree - Deconstructed hummus, strawberry salad and strawberry pie

I went to the grocery store today with no clear idea of dinner for a meatless Monday. I saw some great looking strawberries, though, and was put in mind of a big green salad juicy with strawberries and nuts and cheese. But what else? I bought a poblano pepper with thoughts of roasting it over the gas flame, and some Vidalia onions for caramelizing. Beyond that, I didn't have a clue.

I ended up making a salad of lettuce from my friend Allison's garden, arugula and a red frisee, along with lots of strawberries, walnuts, french fried onions and gorgonzola cheese. As I'm currently obsessed with honey mustard dressing, that's what I used. It all worked together quite well.

I started caramelizing onions early in the afternoon (and unfortunately got a little more brown on them than I would have liked), roasted the pepper and got it all peeled and seeded. I thought I would add garbanzo beans and make a sort of deconstructed hummus. I splashed in a bit more olive oil, some garlic, the juice from a lemon and a spoonful of tahini. It turned out surprisingly good. The beans themselves got rather creamy inside and the onions were pleasantly sweet with a bit of crunch.
Since I had those strawberries, I needed to make a dessert, even though I had told myself that desserts should be verboten for a while. I told myself, but apparently I wasn't listening as I found myself preparing pie. I didn't want to cook anything so I bought a graham cracker crust, instant pudding and whipped topping. I made the pudding as directed for pie (which only means less milk than usual) and put 2/3 of it in the bottom of the pie crust. Then I diced up about 2/3 of a pound of strawberries, dashed in a couple packets of sweetener (I know it was a little late to cut sugar, but it's something) and then mixed with about 3/4 of the whipped topping. After spreading that evenly on top of the pudding, I used the rest of the plain whipped topping to cover the pie. It came out of the pan a little messy, but the flavor combinations were good.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Dancing screaming itching squealing fevered/Feeling hot hot hot - G&W jalapeno bratwurst

Sometimes simple is all right and last night I certainly didn't feel like any complicated cooking maneuvers. I've been thinking about the jalapeno brats I bought at G&W Sausage and it seemed like a good idea to thaw them out. I waited too long to start cooking so I was pressed to think of a quick side dish and pasta salad seemed a good idea. Keeping it as simple as possible, I prepared about 8 oz. of large shells in my beloved Pasta Boat, adding a handful each of frozen snap peas and sliced bell pepper in the last 3 minutes of cooking. After draining and rinsing the pasta in cold water (and doing it a second time to cool it all down) I simply splashed in some honey mustard dressing and a bit of grated cheddar. It was serviceable, if a bit boring.

I grilled the bratwurst and they looked absolutely lovely after browning. Sadly, the hotness of these brats was just too much for me. All I could taste was hot and very little brat flavor. I think, in general, I do not like hot sausages; I am not a fan of andouille either. The Boy thought they were tops though and he usually turns nose up a bit at the mention of jalapenos. But, I will be sticking with the garlicky, paprika-y Hungarian brats as far as G&W is concerned.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday I Have Thrifting on My Mind

I was home early from work, the Boy was off work, the rain had stopped. We had a couple of errands to take care of and then it seemed natural to run to St. Vincent de Paul for a bit of rummaging through the thrift.

They have this fabulous bin at the front of the store full of purses for 25 cents each. I'm crazy for thrift store purses, particularly at a price which barely computes as costing anything at all. I'm even more crazy lately for '70s/'80s clutches.
All of the wall art is currently 50% off, which made this photograph of Union Station marked at $3 a serious bargain.
How about a Lefton crazy eyed cat planter?
If you doubt the crazy eyes...
Once I knew the origins/make of this planter. Now I cannot recall. Can anyone help me?
I recently coveted the wooden vessel collection of some anonymous online entity. I am on my way to acquiring my own. I love this rustic bowl (and the MCM spreader in it).
Boomer likes the bowl too. Fits her perfectly.
Foxy Brown thought Boomer might be a tasty meal.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Take a chance with me/Poured out in wine/Chance to run away/Take a breath - Greek chicken and tabouli

I've had a gorgeous bouquet of mint decorating the kitchen table all week (thanks, Rene!) just waiting for me to make some tabouli. Today was the day, finally. It's a pretty simple recipe: cracked wheat soaked in hot water; chopped cucumber, tomato, green onion, parsley and mint; and a dressing made of fresh lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper. It's a fresh, light salad perfect for summer.

To go with the tabouli I thought grilled chicken would be good. I marinated a couple of bone-in breasts (I do not particularly like boneless chicken breasts - too tasteless) in more fresh lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, oregano, garlic and salt and pepper. Even only marinating for a couple of hours put a lot of flavor into the finished chicken; it was charmingly lemon and herb infused.

And because I had to inject some trash into the meal, there were tater tots. So sue me.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Pad Thai!

I'm not sure what put it into my mind to make pad thai, but I had leftover pork, some deep fried tofu chunks, and some frozen shrimp. Plus I had purchased some rice noodles at Jay's the day before so I was in pretty good shape, ingredient wise.

I did an internet search for recipes and perused a few, thus learning the basic ingredients and cooking techniques for the dish (which, frankly, I should intimately know judging from the stack of takeout containers from King and I, each having held pad thai). First and foremost, most recipes gave instruction on getting the sauce made and waiting standby for use. While I should have had tamarind paste, I substituted white wine vinegar (I will definitely get some tamarind paste for the future), added an equal amount of fish sauce (pppppeeeeee U!), a hunk of palm sugar, some rooster sauce and lime juice. One recipe (at least) suggested heating the suace on the stove, and boy did that help the fish sauce to disperse its delightfully fetid odor throughout the house. In the meantime I cooked my noodles (I hadn't bought exactly the right noodles for pad thai, but the rice vermicelli worked fine) and rinsed and drained them.

All the recipes declared a smoking hot wok necessary and the strips of tofu I tossed in the pan (with some oil) sizzled accordingly. Then, slices of leftover pork and a few shrimp were added along with a bit of the fish sauce mixture and a handful of snow peas. Once that liquid was almost absorbed I added two beaten eggs to the wok, after moving the meat aside. I let the eggs scramble thoroughly before stirring them in and adding the noodles and the rest of the sauce. I incorporated the meat and sauce throughout the noodles and kept the heat high. At nearly the end of cooking I added a big handful of bean sprouts and chopped garlic chives. After dishing the pad thai out, I garnished each of our servings with a generous sprinkle of crushed peanuts.

It wasn't King and I, but it was a reasonable facsimile and the Boy was very pleased.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Meatless Monday - Tofu red curry

It was another beautiful day with much lower temperatures so when I came across cheap pickling cucumbers at Jay International today, I thought I'd do another batch of dill pickles the proper way, with the water bath processing and all. They seem to have worked fine, but next I want to pickle some other vegetables, like green beans or okra.

Since it was Monday, I got the ingredients for a nice vegetarian Thai red curry. That spicy, coconut milk sauce is my favorite curry flavor of all the curries. In today's I put fried tofu puffs, onions, orange bell pepper, baby bok choy, green beans and some bean sprouts. So good over rice.

Weekend Wrap Up

After a week of impossible, horrible, soul-crushing hot weather a magical thunderstorm rolled in Friday night and brought delightfully cool temperatures with it. On Friday night, in the midst of the storm, it was time for bed and the Boy did not feel like doing his nightly duty of taking Foxy Brown for a short walk, so I volunteered for the job. It's always a risk taking her out during a storm since she is very afraid of thunder and lightning, but I knew she had to pee so I took the chance. I hesitated slightly as I had spent the evening in just a shirt and underpants (in my defense, the shirt is long and pretty much covers my ass) and didn't feel like putting on anything else. Considering it was 11:30pm and pouring down rain, I took the chance. What do I care if someone sees my underwear clad tush? Foxy trotted along, unwilling to stop, so I did get soaked but the lower temperature was invigorating. I was cold and loving it so many days of heat and sweat.

Saturday wasn't exactly cool, but there was a good amount of cloud cover and it never got much above the mid-80s. I spent the afternoon running around, buying pottery glaze and vegetables. For a late dinner, I warmed up the leftover grilled chicken thighs, roasted some gorgeous little Yukon gold potatoes and made a salad of cucumber, tomato and onion with my version of Hendrickson's dressing. If you see Southern Illinois tomatoes for sale, buy some! They smell and taste like actual tomatoes!
I also bought some pickling cucumbers and made two jars of a quick, improvised spicy-sweet dill pickle. I used equal parts white vinegar and water, sugar, turmeric, cayenne pepper, garlic, black mustard seeds, salt and a little bit of fresh dill. I took a little taste today -- they were not quite ready -- and they seemed like they were well on their way to goodness. I will work on the recipe and actually can another batch rather than just make a refrigerator version.
Sunday dawned wonderfully cool and all I could think of was baking. My friend Rene had posted a recipe for a summer strawberry cake several days ago and while it was tempting there was no way I was turning on the oven in our no-central-air house. So today was the day! While I was at it, and buying strawberries, I wanted to make more strawberry preserves and can them properly. And while making my grocery list in the morning, I finally remembered to add heavy cream so I could make a batch of butter. As long as I was making butter, and the oven was going to be on, I decided to make a loaf of bread, baked in the Dutch oven to give it a nice crust.

The strawberry cake is a fairly easy recipe, apparently adapted from one by Martha Stewart. This version appeared on the blog Smitten Kitchen. Make a batter, cover it with halved strawberries, sprinkle with sugar, bake. The cake, before baking:
And the cake when done:
While the cake was baking (it takes an hour at a low heat to get the strawberries all gooey), I started the preserves. Two pounds of strawberries, hulled and cut into chunks were tossed in a heavy large saucepan with 1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice and four cups of sugar. Slowly bring it to a boil and then let it go for about 10-15 minutes. Between the smell of the cake baking and the aroma of the preserves, my stomach was growling in anticipation of strawberry goodness. The berries cooking:
In the canner (okay, really just a large pot with a round rack in the bottom, waiting for the water to boil:
And all sealed and ready for the pantry shelf:
At the Memorial Day barbecue thrown by my sister Carol, my nephew Chris brought a container of 40% heavy cream to make into butter.  I've been wanting to do that for ages, but I never seemed to remember when I was at the grocery store. It seemed to take a lot of shaking effort on his part and I lost a little interest...at least until I remembered again on Sunday to buy the stuff. I let the cream sit out for about an hour or so in the warm kitchen before I poured it all into a jar and started shaking. For the first few minutes (really, probably less than five minutes) it sloshed around like you'd expect but then suddenly I couldn't really feel the liquid jostling around so I stopped to take a peek. And there was butter!
It really kind of was like magic! I shook it a bit more after this stage, just to make sure I had collected all the fat out of the liquid. The next step involves draining and rinsing the butter. You have to get rid of all the milky liquid to avoid the butter going rancid quickly. I rinsed it in the jar a few times with cold tap water, but then attempted to get the butter into a [way too small] piece of cheesecloth. That was kind of a disaster because at this point in the butter's life, it is still rather soft (particularly in warm weather) and it kind of sticks to the cheesecloth. After that somewhat failed experiment I opted to squoosh the butter into a ceramic dish and repeatedly stir in and then drain off cold tap water. At some point in the process, I stirred in some kosher salt (I like butter to be a bit salty), but that's up to your own personal tastes.
Try this at least once. It's really delicious.

As long as I was making butter and turning the oven on, it seemed to follow that I should make a loaf of bread. Expert bakers will be appalled at my bread making methods. Generally I measure nothing and today was no exception. Here's my bread recipe: Put some warm water in a big bowl to proof the yeast (along with a little glug of sugar for the yeast to eat) and then dump some flour in after the yeast proofs. I happened to have a glob of very melted butter handy so I put that in along with perhaps a teaspoon of salt and some more water. Mix it up, turn out onto a floured surface and knead for several minutes. Like this:
Put a little oil in a bowl, plop the dough in and let it rise till it's about doubled. Punch it down and knead again for a few minutes, then back into the bowl for a second rise. About 30 minutes before you are ready to bake, put a heavy Dutch oven (including the lid) into a hot (400F) oven to heat up. When you're ready to bake the loaf, gather up the ball of dough, toss a palmful of corn meal into the pot and set the dough atop the corn meal. Whether this does anything or not, I'm not sure, but I generally run a bit of water on the inside part of the lid (be very careful as it's really hot and will steam up) precisely to put some steam into the pot to help the bread. Now I will confess that I'm not sure exactly what this does, but I know it's supposed to be a good thing.
 Bake for about 30 minutes or so (I swear I'm not being obtuse - I really don't remember how long - somehow I just know when it's done...). About 10 minutes or so before the bread should be done, take the lid off the pot and let the bread get a nice golden brown. Again, be very careful as things are very hot! This method makes a nice crusty loaf.
And it goes really well with freshly made butter (add some strawberry preserves and you have my breakfast).
My friend Rene also inspired the evening's cocktail as she offered bunches of mint. I didn't want to drink rum so I made vodka-based mojitos, but I think they suffered a bit without the rum flavor. At any rate, they were refreshing.
Dinner was grilled pork boneless country ribs and buttered noodles with leftover tomato and cucumber salad.
And of course strawberry cake for dessert.

Now I'm contemplating making more pickles and two different Asian-inspired dishes for dinner...

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Dressed up like a million-dollar trooper/Tryin' hard to look like Gary Cooper (super duper)/Come let's mix where Rockefellers walk with sticks or umbrellas in their mitts - Taco Thursday

It's still too hot to live, particularly without central air, but we can't eat takeaway every night. Tacos seemed like  a good idea - minimal cooking and lots of vegetables, easy peasy. Still, I nearly burned up just cooking the ground beef. Tomorrow I'm going to have to think of something cold to eat maybe.
The Boy bought extra large hard taco shells (yeah yeah, not authentic, but I love the crunch...perhaps we should do tostadas instead) and held a lot of filling. Yay!
I suppose I've set it up that we can only have tacos on days of the week that start with a "t"...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Eat beef, eat beef it's a mighty good food/It's a grade A meal when I'm in the mood - Sirloin with caramelized pears and gorgonzola, Indian-spiced okra

Beef! Finally, beef! I went to the grocery store today on my way home from work and encountered a lovely sirloin steak, my favorite cut. Inspired by my great-niece Kyrie, who had posted a photo of her porterhouse steak with pear and bleu cheese, I bought a nice ripe red pear and some gorgonzola (I prefer the salty tang of gorgonzola to the moldier taste of bleu). When I was strolling through the produce department I spied the fresh okra and remembered this recipe.

The okra was very good, though, like most of the commenters on the recipe, I should have doubled the spices. The flavors were rather subtle, but they worked really well with the okra. I didn't realize that okra was a vegetable eaten in India; they call it bhindi. I like that name better. The only way I veered from the recipe as written is that I added about a half cup of water to pan about 10 minutes before the bhindis were done.

For the steak, I seasoned and grilled as usual. In the meantime I sliced the pear and caramelized it in a pan with a little butter. I added a little pink salt and some pepper just to make sure it was properly savory. Once the steak was done I piled a some pear on each serving and sprinkled with the crumbled gorgonzola. The combination of steak and pepper and sweet pear and cheese was very delicious.

Alongside I also steamed a couple of potatoes and chopped them up with a bit of butter, salt and pepper.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Meatless Monday - I didn't succumb to the lure of beef

Even though various friends and family on Facebook kept discussing cuts of beef today, sorely tempting me to the dark side, an afternoon spent with my hands in real clay for the first time didn't really leave me much time to plan anything complicated for dinner anyway. So I went simple. Jarred marinara with peas over penne rigate and a spinach salad with the leftover grilled vegetables from yesterday.

I'm thinking there shall be beef tomorrow.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Grilled cod and vegetables

I managed to avoid cooking most of the weekend, but Sunday night is Sunday dinner so I had to think of something that wouldn't kill me with heat in the midst of all this horribly hot weather. So, cooking on the grill was the only option, of course.

Cod, seasoned with lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper, was cooked on thick foil over direct flames. It was okay but there was a slightly bitter taste that I couldn't identify. I sprinkled them with some fresh dill just before serving but it didn't really have any flavor. Alongside, in the grill basket, I seared eggplant slices, zucchini, onion and asparagus. They were all seasoned with oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and this peppery mustard blend (another of the superb Durkee grill seasonings). And finally, corn on the cob, husked and set directly on the grill to cook.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Sometimes junk is the only answer

I usually have a very clear idea of what I want to make for dinner, but sometimes I am completely adrift and all sorts of things cross my mind. Add to it an offer from the Boy to do a grocery store run on his way home and then I'm somewhat forced to make any requests before he leaves work.

Today's first idea was sausages (little breakfast ones from G&W) and some kind of potatoes and salad. Then suddenly tater tots got into my head (and honestly, I don't know why; I didn't grow up with them and I'm not a huge fan) and I was thinking of sausages and a tater tots casserole thing, complete with a can of some Campbell's cream soup. Then I was reminded on Facebook by my niece, Kate, of chili cheese tater tots and then I knew: Totchos! Yes, nachos made with tots instead of chips. Not a healthy meal, but a mighty tasty one.

I baked the tots first, according to directions. Meanwhile I heated a can of chili, and also melted a hunk of Velveeta with some salsa. I poured the chili over the tots, then the melted cheese, and topped it off when some shredded lettuce and chopped tomato (see, not completely unhealthy!).

Tomorrow, perhaps a salad...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Your face just won't leave me alone/Pictures of matchstick men and you/Images of matchstick men and you/Alls I ever see is them and you - Dinner from Target

Last fall we bought a new mattress set (embarrassingly enough, the first one I'd ever purchased; I'd slept on a rather ancient hand-me-down for years and years). Since mattresses are now so big, none of our old sheets fit and I had to get a couple new sets. Because the weather was getting cooler (and I was feeling budget-conscious) I bought cotton jersey sheet sets. And they were a revelation; soft and stretchy and so comfy, like getting a warm hug from the bed. Then the nighttime temperature topped out in the 80s last night and suddenly those sheets felt like a cloying, suffocating straitjacket.

Unable to bear the idea of sleeping on those hideous sheets again (I will love you again in the fall, sheets, I promise!), I headed to Target to get some nice, regular cotton replacement sheets. Sheets successfully found, I headed over to the grocery department, just because. I suddenly got a huge craving for tuna melts and got a big can of tuna for dinner. A loaf of bread, some microwave brown rice, and a can of baked beans later and dinner at Target was done. Except then I passed a display of some microwave molten caramel cakes. Then dinner at Target was done.

So the verdict: tuna melts were good, brown rice was a little weird, I always love canned baked beans, and the microwave cakes were sweet but really rather bland (what did I expect for two bucks?).