1.24.2011

The team I'm rooting for is Team Party.

I badgered D. into letting me have my first-ever Super Bowl party. His 46" plasma screen television probably helped him make that decision. Counting kids and spouses, I've invited almost thirty people. Mostly local family, a couple girlfriends and their SOs, a couple co-workers... I even verbally invited my boss. Anyway, since sending the invitations three hours ago, I have one RSVP (my mom), and I expect maybe two more. I need more friends.

If the invites garner a mostly positive response, I'll serve chili, cornbread, spinach dip, potato skins and deviled eggs. Anything else I should add? Something sweet, perhaps. I also plan on having beer, wine, and gin.

I'm really excited about having a party, because I've always wanted my place to be "the place." It was hard to have my place be "the place" when my ex-fiancé had such a huge family and we were always going to everyone else's house for get-togethers. But now, dang it, people are going to come to mine, and they are going to have fun, because I say so.

I just love having parties, and I don't get a chance to do it very often. So far, in this house, I've had two: Mother's Day/my birthday and Thanksgiving. Mother's Day was with the ex of course, and we invited his family. We'd just bought the house and busted our bums finishing some of our projects before the party. I live near a big park, so we were able to walk to it with my nieces before dinner. Served a great lasagna, spinach salad, and crusty garlic bread. Chocolate cream pie and banana cream pie for dessert -- both from the Better Homes & Gardens cookbook. (Grrr. Every time I think about the fact that the ex took that cookbook with him makes me mad. It had my recipes for cream pies -- my favorite -- and fajitas. What does he even need it for? He'd eat condensed cream of chicken soup for every meal if he could.)

But regarding my excitement, D. is more cautious, saying he doesn't want me to get upset if no one shows up. I figure that as long as I have a couple of family members there and the Steelers are getting stomped, I'll be fine. I just don't want to end up with a pound of uneaten spinach dip, so I asked everyone to RSVP. With the amount of flaky friends and kind-of-friends-but-more-like-acquaintances I have, it's likely that not one of them shows up. Or maybe a good portion of them decide at the last minute, "Well... nothing better to do," and then I'm overwhelmed with a full house and not enough dip.

Anyway. Does anyone have any cool Super Bowl party stuff to share with me? Special food, games, drinks? Let me know!

(Some quick gossip -- one of my co-workers is a HUGE Ben Roethlisberger fan... went to college with him too. Well, she's out sick today. Wonder if she celebrated too hard last night?)

1.12.2011

If the cafeteria doesn't open soon, I'm going to get fussy.

The good thing about where I work is that we'll always be in business. Stents will always be in high demand (as long as McDonald's is open anyway), smokers with acid reflux will always need endoscopy procedures, women having babies will always need corrective devices for uterine trauma, and uses for catheters are endless when minimally-invasive surgery is a possibility.

Anyway, the  important good thing about where I work is that we have a cafeteria. The meals are subsidized, so it's like $3 for an entreé from the chef's line -- in that line, it's usually a "chicken/beef or fish" option, with two sides. Then there's a salad and soup bar ($2) that's open every day... the soups are made from scratch, and they're really good. Midwestern chili, cream of jalapeño, tomato basil bisque, Italian wedding, clam chowder... om nom nom... my favorite is the spiked tequila chicken. Once for a few months, all I did was have the salad bar stuff for lunch, and I lost a lot of weight (I gained some back when I realized my head looked too big for my body). There's also a deli area ($2), with a chef operating a panini press, and my favorite is The Godfather, which has like four different types of meat in it; and a grill ($2.50 I think), where you can choose between salmon, Angus beef, black bean burger, or chicken breast to make a grilled sandwich.

And then there's dessert ($1.50). My god.

I'm having trouble deciding what I want today. They post the menu on our company website every morning, and today one of the entreés is "Cajun Blackened Grilled Chicken Breast over Linguini Alfredo, offered w/ Cheddar Garlic Biscuits," with Hoosier-style green beans (just add ham and onion) and smashed red potatoes on the side. BUT the panini today is "Turkey, Apple Wood Smoked Bacon, Provolone Cheeses w/ Chipotle Mayo on Sour Dough Bread," which is neat because usually they have all kinds of weird stuff in their paninis, but this one is so normal and so yummy-sounding.

That was mostly on my mind when I was on the phone with my cousin earlier, and he said, "What's up your butt, coconut?" I didn't want to admit that I was in agony over trying to decide what to eat, because then he'd rub it in that he will be dining at McDonald's today, which is against the rules unless he's on the road for work. Which he is. /jealous

So the panini reminds me. I haven't had a chance to use the panini press feature of my new Cuisinart, but I've saved a couple of recipes for that. The equipment came with a recipe book, but I haven't scrutinized it yet. I did use the grill feature to make turkey burgers one night (which were amazing) and bratwurst another night. I was kind of short on time for the bratwurst, though. I didn't do awesome things with it, like cook them with vegetables or anything. They're what I call Philistine Brats, which are grilled until they're warm, then eaten in a hot dog bun. Go ahead. Make fun.

Tonight I'll be making salmon, which is nerve-wracking because my cousin hates seafood and I'm cautious about changing up something that he's only juuuust starting to try... but I would really like to make a remoulade sauce with it, and I don't know what herbs to bake the salmon with to make it jive well with the remoulade. The toppings in the Baked Salmon II recipe most decidedly do not jive with remoulade.

Finally, the only thing I'm going to say about my last entry, which stirred some debate on AllRecipes, is a big thank you to the snobs who bothered to type up really ignorant things (e.g., I'm a newbie, I'm insecure about my body, etc.), because you all helped my blog entry become insanely popular, and it's still on the front page. Hats off to you.

1.09.2011

Food poisoning = Sandra Lee ≠ Q

I was bored today while watching the Chiefs vs. Ravens, so I decided to try out a cooking show. I've never watched cooking shows; my main television interests usually include my teams from the NFL, "The Office," and bad reality shows. However, I've been in a "let's do something different!" mood this week, so I thought I'd watch a cooking show.

My option at the time was some Sandra Lee cooking-on-a-budget show. Within five minutes, I saw her handle raw fish AND cooked fish with the same utensil, place raw fish into a pan with food that does not require cooking, and handle a knife improperly. I am the most amateur cook around, but even I know to not taste that food.

Ever.

Who is she fucking to get herself a show?

For the record, I have four different cutting boards, I switch utensils constantly, and I wash my hands obsessively. I worked in food service for a long time, and I know about foodborne illness and cross contamination. If I cut something open to see if it's done, I throw those cutting utensils right into the dishwasher.

And I don't cook with my chest falling out of my shirt.

That's all.

1.06.2011

January is National Muffin Top Appreciation Month

My Cuisinart 5-in-1 Griddler arrived!!!! It's so pretty!!! It has so many functions!!!

Oh man, I think I actually jumped up and down with excitement at one point while taking it out of the box. Unfortunately, I'd already thrown together some jambalaya, so I couldn't use it that night. BUT LAST NIGHT. OHHH, LAST NIGHT: I made the best turkey burgers EVER.

Actually, I probably could've made better burgers from scratch, and I just saved a recipe for turkey burgers. The patties I used were store-brand and on sale. Yet the Griddler manages to take those lowly patties and turn them into the product of a turkey raised by... I don't know, someone important. Like Jesus. Yes. A turkey was raised by Jesus, and my cousin and I ate that turkey last night.

Last week, I tried my hand at baked ziti, and it came out well. We had it for dinner three times before it was finally gone. I was certainly proud of that. It's hard to go wrong with pasta and meat, though. And three dinners for two people, and all the ingredients cost about six bucks. I love it. Chase Bank probably does not love it, as I'm saving so much money on food that I'll be able to pay off my credit cards soon.

Anyway. D. and I are trying to concentrate on eating healthier, despite the word "Appreciation" in the title of this post. I've gained back the weight I lost during my break-up, which I guess isn't too bad, but then the holidays came along and force-fed me for like eleven days straight. All my work clothes were bought in late 2009, when I had disposable income and I was rail-thin. So now, my clothes are pretty tight, and at work I look more like a Hooter's girl impersonating a technical writer.

As for D... well, I think he looks normal, but he says he's gained weight. Right now I'd just consider him to be very huggable.

In other news, I'm thinking about a change in career/lifestyle/something. I'm even thinking about cutting off all my hair. And going back to school... should I get an M.A. in English Language & Linguistics (as an undergrad, that was basically my focus too)? Should I get something that would benefit me in my current job so that my company can foot 2/3s of the tuition? Should I get a new job?

I don't know why, I just feel a bit restless. Not with my living situation at all or my life at home, but perhaps with what I do during the day. Going to grad school would certainly affect everything -- my income, which affects cooking because of the inevitable grocery budget cut... my health, as I'll probably go back to eating Totino's Pizzas for $0.97 apiece and Cheese-It's dipped in ranch dressing... and instead of being a nerd about new recipes, I'll be a nerd over IPA symbols and the Great Vowel Shift. Just considering a lot right now, that's all. I won't go crazy trying to decide. (I swear.)