Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Little Advice, or, Some Recipes

Since I have been the hostess with the mostest for the entire summer (which I declare is not over until the temperature drops down to 70, max), I thought it might be a good idea to share some of my recipes.

These definitely fall under the quick-and-easy category, and for a very good reason. It's not that I am afraid of difficult cooking, on the contrary, I love it. What I don't love is difficult cooking and the responsibility of an interesting conversation.

One of the things I've learned this season is that when hosting guests without the aid of servants or live music, the co-critical issues of entertaining the guests and feeding them tend to jumble up in one big trainwreck about, oh, 7 minutes after they walk in the door.

That's just enough time for them to take off their coats, be handed and glass of wine, admire the living room and then attempt to chat with me while I issue the final touches on our meal.

Talking and cooking is a skill I do not posses. Goodbye, Food Network Star fantasy.

This first recipe is great for an appetizer, a sandwich platter or a just quick lunch for yo'self.

Buffalo Chicken Quesadilla


  • buffalo chicken lunchmeat (I've used Boar's Head, Stop & Shop and Stew Leonard's brands, all. My favorite is Stew Leonard's because it has more of a kick than the others. You can ask for a sample at the deli counter to compare brands.)
  • blue cheese crumbles

  • tortillas

  • arugula

  • Tabasco, Frank's Red Hot, or other similar pepper sauce

  • butter (optional)

On one tortilla* put 2-3 slices of the lunchmeat, followed by a liberal sprinkle of blue cheese crumbles and an even layer of arugula. I like to make sure it's really consistent across the tortilla so that every bite will yield similar impact. Close it up with a second tortilla on the top.

Now, if you have a panini grill you really don't need the butter. Just put the quesadilla on the hot grill making sure none of the arugula falls out, close the lid and wait a few minutes until you hear sizzling or think it's probably done.

If you don't have a panini grill, you still don't really *need* the butter, but let's be real: it's delicious. Melt a small dab of butter in a hot skillet. Swirl it around to evenly coat the bottom of the skillet and then plop the quesadilla on. Press it as it cooks, to help the blue cheese adhere to the top. When the bottom is golden brown and it seems like it's warm most of the way through, flip and finish cooking.

Serve hot. If you want to get all fancy you can garnish with a salad out of celery leaves, olive oil, salt and pepper.

*Did you know that tortillas have and inside and outside? My Mom told me the most blistery side is the inside. If I'm wrong, blame her.

This second recipes I've used over and over. It's extremely easy, but the Campari provides a POW! of sophistication. It works wonderfully as an appetizer to keep people entertained while you frantically finish icing the 12 layer cake and french braiding your hair at the same time. Alternatively, ditch the cake and serve this as a summery, low-cal dessert.

The only tricky thing about this recipe is decided how to serve it, an issue I address below.

Campari and Watermelon


  • watermelon
  • campari
  • toothpicks

Basic Instructions:

Cut up the watermelon any way that suits you and yields consistent sized bites. Classic watermelon balls are easy and pretty, but I've also done stacked cubes kinda like a rubik's cube. To do that, cut the watermelon in 3 inch cubes first, then while holding it together, cut the cube in thirds vertically in a cross hatch and horizontally.

Put either one rubik's cube or about a cup of the fruit on a salad plate, along with a tiny bowl or shot glass of Campari. To eat, spear a piece of the fruit with a toothpick, dip it in the Campari and pop it in your mouth.

Serving Variations:

For a centrally located serve-yourself situation, you have three options.

For a big group, either you need a pretty big container to hold the watermelon with the campari poured over it, or you need a whole bunch of little bowls with individual servings meted out, all grouped together for people to grab off the table. Or, you could have the big bowl of watermelon and a little pitcher of the campari next to it, with little bowls for people to serve themselves by pouring a little campari over their own watermelon.

I don't really recommend the large container because all the liquor will settle at the bottom the flavor won't be consistent throughout.

One thing I've done is put individual bites into pretty shot glasses on a big platter. It gave it a more "drink" and less "appetizer" feel, but it still looked cool.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Grand Experiment

My parents provided many luxuries to my siblings and myself during our respective childhoods, but for some reason they rarely involved going to a retail store and making a purchase.

Family vacation to Europe? No problem!

Season tickets to the opera AND the symphony year after year? Sure!

Private education? Of course!

T-shirt from The Gap? Well...I heard there's a really big garage sale over on Kirby Lane. We can see what they have.

HC recently informed me that formless, oversized sweaters decorated with woodland creatures are "hipster" and therefore cool. I think that's just tragic. Why? WHY? Why wasn't it cool when I was wearing it?! Why was I forever traumatized by high-waisted jeans when the world declared that plumber-butt was the new cleavage? Why was the exposed midriff considered sexy when I was too young to wear it, considered outdated when I was old enough, and is coming back only after I've had my first baby? Why is it that when my legs could have been straight off the pages of Holocaust Chic*, JNCO wide leg jeans were *the thing* to wear. I'm not talking about just wide leg jeans here. I'm talking about double-wide. No, forget double-wide, you could fit the whole dang trailer park in one of those legs. Some of them had cuffs with a 26 inch circumference. Then, the year after I get out of college with some jiggle in my wiggle, skinny jeans pop up out of nowhere...and they just won't die.

The point is, I'm proud to say I've fully recovered from my awkward teenage years (well, sometimes), and while I wouldn't go so far as to say that I'm well dressed, now it's just because I'm lazy and not because my parents are evil and never want me to have any friends.

One thing that hasn't worn off though, is the thrifting. It won't stop. Garage sales, tag sales, yard sales, thrift stores, second hand, Goodwill, call them what you will, I'm ahead of you. I reached an all new level today when I arrived at a stranger's house to pick up a Craigslist item, only to discover that it was three houses down from another stranger's house where I had picked up a Craigslist item two weeks ago. I'm still not sure if that's cool or creepy.

In my defense, I do try really hard not to purchase things we don't actually need. I've snagged some incredible finds. I'll brag about them some other time, but let me just say it's amazing what's out there for less than a dollar.

Even with the trying really hard though, I've begun to notice a few extra things piling up. I have a weakness for cool stuff from the 1950s and 60s and I just can't help but rationalize my way home with them. A totally awesome retro stroller, some adorable vintage sewing patterns. I'll never use these things. But could I sell them?

Lets. Just. See.


I'm opening an etsy shop!

HC has already helped me out by taking some awesome photos and we'll be going live in no time. I bet a wooden nickle** that I have the cutest model in all the land. All I'm waiting for now is an inspired name. Any suggestions are welcome!

*too soon?

**I don't have a wooden nickel, but you won't find a cuter model anyway.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I Like That Felicity

...is old enough to get stuck under her crib. Twice. In ten minutes.

...looks like a little T-Rex because she just learned how to walk and holds her arms all curled up for balance.

...now uses "what happens if I sit on it?" as a way to analyze objects old and new. The experiment involves carefully placing [it] on the floor, standing up, turning her back to [it] and then slowly backing up with diaper end out, and collapsing. Alarm clocks, as it turns out, break. Paper doesn't.

...can be distracted from slamming her fat hand on my keyboard by the question, "Where is your otter?!" only if you say it like he might be on fire.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Pet Peeve.

Deep in the throes of interior un-decorating, I cast my eye toward the internet for distraction, inspiration, salvation, procrastination.

Then I hit this:

I've seen this over and over. Yeah, I get it. The color palette is chic and peaceful. It gives a vibe of literacy, implies wisdom.

To state the obvious: why would you read the stupid book if you can't even tell what it is?

What does it say that you want the "feel" of books without the...you know...words?

When you walk into this room, you'll think "Oh, this person likes reading".