Sunday, May 27, 2007


I have been planning my budget. As I am hoping to have a loan and take over the ownership of my house sometime this week, I have been trying to figure out the whole real life thing called BILLS. Basically, as long as I find a second job, I can still eat and have gas for my car. Great! Right?

Here is where my priorities come into play. Good food (i.e. not ramen, pizza rolls, hamburger helper) or television. Or more importantly, an occassional glass of wine, nice dinner, and in general keeping up my food snob habits.

Currently, I am choosing food over television. If I can actually make enough money to include the tv...well then that will be a nice addition. But it isn't a necessity.

So Friday night I stayed in, made a pizza, and watched a movie. And I had a couple beers. If I had not been saving money, I would've had some spaggheti with meatballs, Chianti, and movie. But I opted for cheese, turkey pep. and banana peppers pizza with Miller Lite. I am so responsible! And really craving that Chianti.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Buy the Chicken

If you are like me, you've looked at those roasted birds at the store and contemplated throwing them in your cart. For whatever reason, I always resisted. Since I began cooking for one, the individual birds have been the greatest purchase in my cart.

I pick it. (get about three meals worth)

I then put it into the crockpot on low for the day and gain about 10 cups of broth.

So three meals, about $2 a meal.
10 cups of broth, about $7 of boxed broth.

So I save $3 and a lot of time! And my broth is better than the box. And that chicken is damn good!

Here is my broth recipe:
one small onion
3 carrots
3 celery stalks
sprig of sage
sprig of thyme
dried herbs

Chop the vegetables in larger pieces, so they strain easily. Cover with water, about 10 cups.

Last night I took the chicken and made a curry simmer. I got this recipe off of

In the recipe, it calls for uncooked chicken. The roasted chicken got so tender and good, and I simmered it for about 20 minutes. Here is the recipe the way I used it, sans chicken. It made 2 servings.

1 onions, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 itty bitty bay leaf
1 cloves crushed garlic
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon white sugar
1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
1 pinch salt
1 T cup olive oil
water to cover
Fry the onions in olive oil until browned. Add the cinnamon and the bay leaf. Continue stirring and add the ginger, paprika, curry powder, sugar, salt, and garlic. Continue stirring for 2 minutes. Mixture will become much like a paste.
Add chicken pieces and tomato. Add enough water to just cover the chicken. Simmer until chicken is done, about 20 minutes.

I ate this chicken with brown rice, cooked in lime juice and water, and tossed with chopped cilantro.

Monday, May 21, 2007

YumYum gets under my skin.

More on the yum yum debacle.

Sure, mayo exists in Japanese cooking. Or at least as a nice swirly decoration on the greatest sushi roll ever.

If you people SAW what the woman across from me was DOING with the yum yum, you'd be horrified and tweaked as well. I'm talking POURING it over rice, vegetable, and meat. I have to think this is NOT what the gods of Japanese chefery (I made that word up. Suck it) intended as the usage of this condiment.

If they ("they" being Morimoto on Iron Chef when he defeated Bobby Flay) get pissy when someone jumps on a cutting board, I have to think they would throw a samurai sword at your head if the mayo was poured over so excessively.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Gengi...yum yum sauce, For serious!!??

Yum Yum Sauce=Mayonnaise and Sweet Mustard

Please tell me...what Japanese recipe books includes a recipe for such a sauce? None. That is the answer. ZIPPO!

So the fact that a Japanese Steakhouse, which yes, may be an oxymoron in itself, offers such a sauce is so incredibly condescending and insulting. You crazy Americans who think it is amazing, please realize, you are putting MAYONNAISE on your asian-esque food!

I would consider myself an expert on the House of Japan cuisine. It is something I have experienced multiple times (like, lots) and it has always been the same. Soup, good. Salad, good (sometimes two salads). Chicken and Steak, very good.

At Gengi, I got the same entree. The salad tasted fine; although I like the ginger dressing at HofJ a little better. The soup, tasted like straight up beef broth, which to me can have a bit of a rodent cage flavor. Like, it tastes like a gerbil cage smells. I had a couple slurps and was done. The steak was excellent. My dining companion had the scallops and they were just fine. The chicken was a little dry. Vegetables good. Bean sprouts, fine.

Interesting note: The servers have ear pieces like they are in the frickin' Secret Service. I imagine, "We are going to need some chicken and a steak...but this girl is a BITCH, so make sure it is a crappy piece of chicken." Of course I was not the bitch in this scenario. My chicken was fine!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Vaqueros doesn't Compare-Os.

In my quest to find the perfect all around Mexican food location here in central Ohio, here is what I have found:
Salsa: Senor Antonios
Queso: Senor Antonios
Bean Dip: Vaqueros. I have not had it a wee skewed.
Enchiladas: Chile Verde
Margarita: Senor Antonios...but it is EXPENSIVE/Chile Verde is good and reasonable!
Service: Chile Verde
Atmosphere and Cleanliness: Senor Antonios
Feeling that I will NOT get food poisoning: Chile Verde. (I have heard horror stories about Senor Antonios).

Vaqueros in Dublin Center was 'meh' to say the least. I ordered something different than I normally do to go along with my whole "try new things" thing. So I got the Yucatan Chicken, which had a large portion of vegetables and small portion of CRAPPY CRAPPY chicken. Like, chicken parts. With funny shapes and tendons running through them. I put it all to the side. And still did not eat all of my meal. Maybe they could put the shredded chicken in it next time?

There was salsa on the walls. And they sat us by the kitchen, where I could see servers pull of squares of toilet paper and blow their noses. Nice, huh?

I'll end it with that lovely visual.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

I'll take irresistable things that end in O, Alex.

The Daily DOUBLE!!

I'll bet my ability to grade essays and urge to spank people.

The answer: When consumed together, these two food items seem to be impossible to stop consuming.

What are Risotto and Prosecco!


(And the result: I couldn't stop eating this amazing risotto I made which included garlic, shallot and onion, as well as roasted chicken that I tossed in pesto before mixing into the saute pan. And an entire bottle of prosecco went bye-bye. Oh. And I wacked TJ in the ass when he was standing in the kitchen. And then just laughed. Yes, he knew I was drunk. I'm a delight! I'm sure at that moment he knew he was making a huge mistake...joke. Obviously.)

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Overthinking It

When you think as much as I do, it is so difficult to not think. Just put things in your mouth, just walk around the neighborhood, just watch tv. Everything is fairly planned out. Incredibly intentional. And moments that are unintentional, that are done with little thought, generally cause regret. "Why did I do that!" "Boy I wasted time there." "What a waste of money!"

Some people regret eating things, usually because of the quantity. Or the contents. I regret eating things that I really didn't want and the fact that there was something I wanted more. Or I could've had something even better. So I live in fear that what I am eating, isn't the absolute best choice. This is why I plan my dinner at 9am.

It has to do with what might spoil. What I could then use the next day. What would be good leftovers. What I might eat later in the week.

We were discussing OCD last night. It to me includes cleanliness, but I think I may be a little food OCD. Standing in front of a spread of appetizers and munchies at a party, I must scan the whole table, weigh the possibilities, feel the air for a breeze, check my taste buds, and then choose ever so carefully.
-That cheese is too big
-That chip will break in that dip...need a smaller chip.
-Brocolli floret is too big, carrot too boring, grape tomato too squishy
-That dip is cold now
-If I dip that stick-lookin-thing into that sauce, I'll want more sauce and that stick is too long. I can't double dip! I just met these people!
-In order to get to that piece of pineapple, I must move that large watermellon piece.
-This thing has too much dough, not enough filling
-Beer and Brownies?? I'm not ready for sweets.
-Pigs in a blanket? Really?
-Bowl Of Nuts...I call those "Poop Nuts". Just like the "Poop Mints" in the bowl at restaurants.

All of these thoughts, in the time it takes to wiggle my fingers as I'm trying to choose. Impressive. Insane.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Chile Verde: Spanish for Green Spicy Sauce

My dinner event last night included one of my most favorite things in the whole entire world. That would be MEXICAN food and margaritas! In the aftermath of my insane spring, there are multiple things I am thankful for. To repeat things: sleeping with the windows open, cooking whatever I want just for me, using onions willy-nilly, trying new restaurants and one of my most thankfullnessed things is EATING MEXICAN FOOD! Next week I'll get to blog about El Vaquero, but for now, I am blogging Chile Verde, a Mexican restaurant in a strip mall. And it has been there for a very long time.

Three of us ate and drank for 55 bucks. We had a beer and a pitcher of margaritas, as well as three entrees. The menu consisted of fairly standard fare. C.V. is known for their green sauce (Chile Verde) and it is very good, but some find it spicy. Me, notsomuch. One neat thing about their "Pick your combo" option--seen on most menus of this ethnic genre--on the menu is there are the usual: burrito, enchilada, chimichanga, and then there are chile relenos and crab cakes! One of my dining partners chose a crab cake, and she did not share a bite with me...shame!!!! It was a nice sized cake, looked good and crabby...but that is all I can say about that.

The second entree ordered was the grilled fajita burrito. It comes with a queso sauce, which is excellent. The beef is sliced and flavored, seemingly marinated, and very tender. Great choice and as this particular dining partner is known for announcing, "Now I have lunch for tomorrow" after most dining events, indeed there was enough for lunch the next day.

I chose two enchiladas. One shredded beef and one chicken. The chicken was cubed, not shredded, and seasoned with a tomato like substance. Beef was great and beefy. The green sauce was noticeable, but I would've preferred less cheese on top and more sauce. I wasn't in a rice mood, so I chose the sauteed vegetables which were outstanding! I really only order fajitas for those veggies, and here I got them along with the standard menu accompaniment of pinto beans (NOT refried beans).

It is the norm for complete and utter STUFFING at mexican restaurants. I tried not to STUFF myself, but I finished my whole meal nonetheless. This is by far one of my favorite restaurants for mexican fare in Columbus, and I can't wait to compare El Vaquero next week. Chile Verde, I can already say, has a much smaller menu, but like I said about La Tavola, it means they do everything right...or at least have a better chance to!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Claddaugh: Irish for Overpriced Salads

I went to Claddaugh last night with friends. I hate complaining about restaurants that I attend with friends because I don't want to be a negative nelly. And in no way is it a reflection on the company I dined with.

My complaints about Claddaugh?
grilled chicken in my salad was suspect
dressing pairing on the salad menu were bizarre-o

That's all. Their patio is nice, but bugs were amok (pronounced: a muck...I bet you didn't know that was the spelling of that word). Despite the bugs, there was the requisite old guy with three guys around him who in turn bought our whole table a round of drinks.

I giggle at myself, because I chose my salad based on the goat cheese. There was also sun-dried tomato and pine nuts. Here is the weirdness: Tarragon Mustard dressing. huh? What part of those ingredients makes you think a thick mustard dressing is appropriate? And the mustard was good with the creepy chicken, but didn't really match up with the goat and sun. I ordered a second dressing, because I am high maintenance like that, of maple vinegrette and it was much more suitable for this salad.

My advice...order an appetizer. Cheaper, although still overpriced, but the amount of food is sufficient.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Tips for the 'Ginners

As in BEginners.

1. pans/pots on the stove, hot and empty, for too long, will scorch, smoke, and ruin the pan/pot.
2. adding oil to a too hot pan/pot will cause a fire or splatter burns
3. mushrooms should be cooked in minimal liquids, or they taste weird. IF they carmelize and let go of their OWN juices, it tastes substantially better.
4. burnt garlic is G-ROSS. Sautee intelligently in enough oil, or often WITH something else to prevent burnt, bitter, barlic. (b's hee hee)
5. don't move your meat too much.
6. the more you cut into your meat, the more juices are lost and flavor goes buh-bye too.
7. the broiler is an excellent tool! It keeps the smoke and smell of using a grill pan to a minimum, as it is cooked within the stove.

Some things I learned recently:
1. Wooden cutting boards should be washed/submerged. Otherwise, getting them wet only in ONE part will cause the cracking and warping.
2. Indeed, Calphalon should NOT be put into the dishwasher. It ruins the calphalon coating, and then they DIE!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Food Plan!

Here is where I think I am going this week with my foods:
1. Meatballs from the freezer
2. Trader Joe's Pizza dough, fashioned into some sort of pizza. Maybe with chicken?
3. Happy Hour scheduled at Claddaugh Irish Pub.
4. Shrimp with Pesto Risotto
5. Fajitas!

Last night I tossed together a Tuna Orzo salad for my lunch. It looks beautiful! My goal this week is to use up some things in the freezer. So I grocery shopped last night, only buying a red onion, grape tomatoes, and basil. I used leftover orzo, a can of white tuna, red onion (about 1/4 of the onion, sliced), a handful of grape tomatoes, quartered, chopped red pepper, two large basil leaves (chiffonade), red wine vinegar and about 1 T of olive oil. I think it will be two servings. In the tupperware container, it looks even cooler, as I placed the serving atop a bed of baby spinach leaves.

Saturday, May 05, 2007


And no. It is not the name of the guy's house I stayed at last night. Jason's is a restaurant in Dublin, on High Street, near some other faves: Tuccis, Brazenhead, and now a La Chatelaine. It is a funky place, with an asian fare and an italian fare section on the menu. I have indeed tried some of the asian dishes, and they are excellent. Still have not ventured to the italian side. Although, last night we came close.

My dinner companion and I started with the Flirtini. And no, it was not the girliest drink on the menu. They had a whole section of what could be boat drinks. Even with a boat drink glass. Their Flirtini is made with Raspberry Vodka, not Chambord, so we were a bit surprised when it was not pink. We both looked at it a little suspiciously. I even smelled it first. In essence, it is Raspberry Stoli, Pineapple, and Champagne. Easily could put me under in 5 minutes flat if I didn't sip and ordered 5.

We followed the martini with an order of spinach dip with garlic toast points (not chips) and a bottle of Pouilly Fuse. We were splurging. The spinach dip was excellent, seemed a little lacking in the spinach, actually. But often, that would be preferred for people.

After the dip and the bottle, we moved onto a Margherita pizza, which was super fresh and great, and fried calamari. Calamari was prepared perfectly, dipping sauces were k-rappy. There was an aioli which was really more of a dijon mustard and dill sauce. The red sauce was a cocktail sauce. Weird. So we commented on the abundance of mustard and our server brought out a new dipping bowl, which still tasted like mustard. But she also brought a hoison barbecue, and it was much preferred! Kudos to her and the chef for noticing two people with excellent taste and recommending something new and even better. It probably helped that we ordered a SECOND bottle of wine. This time, it was a Pinot Noir from Oregon.

The wine prices here are not great. The Pouilly was $20 MORE(!!) than it was at Thom's in Grandview. And to think around the corner is Tuccis and that conglomerate who charge only $5 over retail. I can't imagine upcharging and surviving.

I also can't imagine drinking two bottles of wine again tonight and surviving. So since it is Cinco de Mayo, it will be margaritas bitches!

Friday, May 04, 2007

(La) Tavola on the River...

...the dirty river, that is indeed a little green. But from afar it could be called picturesque.

Actually, I never even ventured to look over the railing and see if the river was indeed in view. Next time, I will make a point to go check it out. Ambiance was awesome. Deck/Patio was busy. I can't believe I had never been out there before!

"Next time". That is what I like to call, "foreshadowing." From the usage of this foreshadowing it is implied that indeed the restaurant was a winner and deserving of a second visit. It helps that their new menu starts TODAY.

Their menu is one page, no back, separated into sections of (and this is my language, not theirs): Appetizers, Pizzas, First Course Pastas, Meal Like Pastas, and Proteins. There is a Tapas menu, which is quite small and seems to change daily. This Italian restaurant could freak out the plebians, as the choices are not lengthy, but honestly, that just means they can't skimp or half ass on something. I appreciate that. But it also raises the expectations.

As in my real life, I am attempting to have no expectations; I am uping the ante on the food life expectations. Oh they're high! For example, I think restaurants need to be doing a "bite" from the chef. Something not on the menu. Something to give you an idea of the kind of head a chef has. Where his allegiances lay. La Tavola's chef likes fennel and tomato based sauces. If I wanted to get this across, perhaps a bite sized brushcetta with a tomato and italian sausage bite would've gotten that across.

Onto the description of dinner:
We began with a large portion of the steamed mussels, in a tomato broth with the usual toasted bread accompaniment. The mussels were cooked perfectly; however, I am not really a tomato broth fan. It wasn't that the broth was poor, because it was good for dipping bread in. But the acidity just does something to the flavors of the mussel and it just isn't the same as a more butter based "broth". And this goes for any seafood, for me. Not sure what it is about my palatte that I just don't care for it. Before this mussel experience, I don't recall the last time I had mussels or especially mussels with tomato sauce, so I was wanting to try it again. There I go with the whole "try something new" thing.

Choosing an entree was difficult. As this winter was the Winter of Gnocchi, I've been wanting to try a gnocchi from a professional, to see where mine measures up. So I went with a Gnocchi dish, with a cream sauce featuring pancetta and artichokes. The dish was baked off, so it was bubbling, and if you recall my hot food thing (some might call it neurotic), I liked this a lot! Luckily, I had a dining partner that could help me finish this off. It was excellent, but as in most Italian places, a large portion. So how do my gnocchis compare? Lets just say I was giving myself little high fives in my head. Texture was dead on. And in the future, screw the ridges from a fork. If the Tavola chef doesn't roll his over something to give it grooves, I sure as hell am not either.

On the other side of the table (I love the mystery of "who is over there?"), the tortellini filled with pork and some other meat, was ordered. It had that tomato broth again, but with the meat filled torts, it worked. Here is where the fennel came out a bit too much for my taste. But it is my problem, really, as I can see how many would like it. The tortellinis were HUGE and obviously handmade, and I SO appreciate this and look forward to trying maybe a ravioli or other unique tortellini there in the future.

Dessert. Tiramisu. Dry. Sorry guys, it wasn't that great. I'm a fan of the lady fingers having an obvious soakage of coffee liqueur. This one didn't. And there was a lemon flavor there.

And onto the drinks! Madonna Montepulciano. Described as a dark cherry with spice, and it drank very much like a red Zinfandel. Which I love me some Red Zin, and I especially like it with Italian food. It drank smoothly, maybe too smoothly...but honestly, who says that? Too smoothly? "Oh yea, it went down perfectly, but I wish it hadn't so I didn't enjoy it so much." I hate that.

And if you go, Kali rocked. She was our server and was just all peppy and pleasant. And when I ordered, she said I was "so smart" and picked the best thing. Ha! I win!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Another Example of my Selfishness

Wonder why I do not take photos? Wish I had a picture of that Creamy Chicken weirdness? Wish you could see my skills in colorful creations and presentation? Oh I've got skills!

But I am more hungry and unwilling to delay my personal pleasure for your pretty picture desires.

Last night I made an awesome Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken Orzo. And it was purrty! There was red, green, browns (from balsalmic vinegar) and whites. It would've made an excellent photo. But I want my food hot; I want to eat all of my food; I take extreme pride in making the perfect amount without much measuring and the whole photo process takes up precious-get it while its hot-time.

Like I said, I'm a little crazy!

Here is the recipe from my dinner. I'm actually the author of this one.
Sun Dried Tomato Balsalmic Chicken Orzo
servings: 1 Kristy Sized Portion

1 6 ounce chicken breast
2 T balsalmic vinegar
1 large garlic clove (halved)
3 ounces sliced baby bella mushrooms
2T sliced sun dried tomatoes in oil
1 Trader Joes basil cube (frozen)
1/2 T butter
1 cup orzo
2.5 cups broth
1 cup fresh baby spinach

Cut chicken into bite sized pieces. Combine chicken, half minced garlic clove, and vinegar. Set aside.

Melt butter and saute other half of garlic, minced. Add orzo and toast. Add broth, boiling, stirring, until pasta is done. Remove orzo.

Coat pan as you like (olive oil, spray, whatever). Pour chicken and marinade into pan and cook. Add mushrooms. Add sun dried tomato. Add basil cube. When cooked, add orzo and combine. Add spinach and heat up, but try not to overwilt. Season with parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Creamy Chicken Bake...they're not kidding!!

This is Ca-Reamy. And I have discovered the word "creamy" could be never spoken again and I'd be happy with that.

In the future, I would: cut the first four ingredients in HALF. Up the chicken. And perhaps add a brocolli layer or something. I ate this with a side of brussel sprouts, and if you like dipping your veggies, the cream is good for that. The weird part: there is a cream layer, and a sauce layer. Sauce layer is like a chicken gravy.

Here is the recipe:
Chicken Bake from Cooking Light:
cup 1% low-fat cottage cheese
1/2 cup light cream cheese
1/2 cup nonfat sour cream
1/2 cup nonfat mayonnaise
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
2 tablespoons margarine
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup skim milk
1 (10 1/2-ounce) can low-salt chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Dash of garlic powder
6 cooked lasagna noodles
Vegetable cooking spray
3 cups diced cooked chicken breast
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon paprika

Combine first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl; beat at high speed of a mixer until well-blended. Stir in onion, bell pepper, and 1/4 cup parsley; set aside.

Melt the margarine in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour, and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly with a wire whisk. Gradually add milk and broth, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and cook 3 minutes or until thickened, stirring constantly. Stir in poultry seasoning, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Remove from heat; set sauce aside.

Arrange 3 noodles in bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray; top with half of cottage cheese mixture, half of chicken, and half of sauce. Repeat layers, ending with sauce.

Combine breadcrumbs, 2 tablespoons parsley, and paprika; sprinkle over casserole. Bake, uncovered, at 375° for 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

Yield: 8 servings

CALORIES 321(24% from fat); FAT 8.4g (sat 2.9g,mono 3.1g,poly 1.7g); PROTEIN 26.1g; CHOLESTEROL 50mg; CALCIUM 91mg; SODIUM 618mg; FIBER 1.4g; IRON 2.6mg; CARBOHYDRATE 33.2g