Things I Like to Eat (...and Other Nonsense)

4.15.2014

Miss Kitty.

When I was 19, I went with my friend Jessy for a weekend visit to her dad's house. He lived about 3 hours south-east in an area of southern California I'd never been to. When we got to Paul and Jan's house, we were greeted by a cat with a fluffy grey mane. She didn't have a name because nobody knew who she belonged to. The story was that one day, the cat came in through the doggy door and none of the dogs did anything about her. Jan was a little nutty and said that the cat would talk to her and tell her stories. The whole thing was pretty comical. And seeing how I've always loved cats, and this cat had no home, it was like we were destined for each other.



Over the span of the two days that we were there, I fell in love with the cat and decided I would keep her. Jessy and I went to a local pet store, we bought a carrier, and the three of us headed home. At the time, I was kind of like a live-in nanny and I'm sure the woman I lied with was probably like "Wtf" when I brought a cat home. Thankfully, she was totally okay with my impromptu plan and the cat stayed.



About a year or so later, during the summer, I moved out of the of family house and into a fraternity house at UCLA. I took the cat, Miss Kitty, with me. Not too long after our move, Miss Kitty went missing. I remember sitting on the disgusting couch in my dorm room, crying on the phone to my mom about how Miss Kitty probably got lost and how she didn't know the area, etc. I felt awful. I walked all around Westwood, looking under cars, calling her name like a crazy person. I ended up finding that damn cat sitting in some girl's apartment window, nice and cozy as I was sopping wet from the rain.

You better believe I knocked on their door and got my cat back.



As time went on, my life took me here and there. When I went back to college, I moved into a dorm where there were no pets allowed. I went backpacking across Europe. I got married. All the while, Miss Kitty stayed with my mom. Mom was always home and they kept each other company. And every time I'd visit, I'd get my Kitty fix. She was always game for dressing up. And she loved talking. Like, nonstop back-and-forth meow sessions. Always full of zest, she was one of those cats that would come barreling down the stairs meowing left and right as soon as she heard someone enter the front door. And her thing as of the last few years was to rub her face on the phone whenever mom was on it. Being on the other end of many of these phone conversations, it sounded like phone was being massaged by a jackhammer. Miss Kitty was always purring. And always trying to get into some unsuspecting person's lap so she could inconspicuously make herself at home.



Look at those magnificent fluffs in motion


Recently, Miss Kitty starting getting sick. Mom had been mentioning the idea of "taking her in." Neither one of us wanted to do it, but we both knew the time was coming. She tried to prolong the inevitable as much as she could. Like when Miss Kitty stopped eating and mom kept her nibbling on baby food. Even though her body was shutting down, we didn't want to let her go.

Today, Miss Kitty passed away.

It's a hard thing to accept when a family pet is no longer there. All evening, there's been a lump in my throat the size of a golf ball. And my face keeps crumpling into a mess of snots and tears. I didn't think I would be so upset considering we hadn't been very close lately. But I think that's actually why I feel so bad. Miss Kitty had turned into a garage-cat over the past several months and I hardly spent any time with her. The last few times I was at mom's house, I didn't even make an effort to see her.

I feel guilty and wish I could go back in time. It's hard knowing I didn't get to say goodbye. And I didn't appreciate my last visit with her. And I didn't get to tell her how sweet she was.

In the end, she passed while being held in mom's arms. I can't think of a better way to go.

I love you Miss Kitty.





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4.14.2014

Recipe: Chicken Tortilla Soup

Yesterday morning, I woke up craving chicken tortilla soup. I'd never made it before, but I'd been thinking about it for a while.

I looked around at a few recipes and settled on one that seemed easy and had pictures that looked good. Which, if you read my blog regularly, is how I always make my best decisions.



Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

Ingredients

1 lb shredded chicken
1 (15 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes, mashed and chopped
1 (10 oz) can enchilada sauce
3/4 large onion, chopped
1 (4 oz) can chopped green chile peppers
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans chicken broth
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 bay leaves
1 (10 oz) package frozen corn
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
7 corn tortillas
vegetable oil

Directions

1. Place all ingredients, from chicken to cilantro, in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hrs. It doesn't get much easier than that.



2. To make tortilla crisps: slice tortillas into strips. Fry in oil. Sprinkle with salt. Warning: these little guys can go from floppy to charred in no time, so make sure to keep an eye on them.



3. Serve with lime wedges, chopped avocado, cilantro, sour cream, cotija cheese, or whatever else strikes your fancy. 



This recipe gets a thumbs up from me, Eric, and my mom. And Mom usually has no problem telling me when my recipes suck. The only thing I'd try next time is to either use low-sodium broth or omit the salt. The soup was already plenty savory and I think the salt could be removed without affecting the overall flavor.


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4.04.2014

Restaurant Review: Lucky's

A few months back, we were watching a show on the Food Network called The Best Thing I Ever Ate. Chef Cat Cora named Lucky's as her favorite dining spot for a strip steak and both Eric and I drooled over our TV. It was a little lot out of our price range, so I really wasn't expecting to go there any time soon.

Not to mention, it's in Montecito.

For those of you not familiar with the area, you probably have no idea what that is or that Oprah lives there or that it's definitely not a place for commoners like me.


Lucky's is located right on the main strip in Montecito. We lucked out with street parking directly across from the restaurant and it was free because it was after 6pm.

We started off with a cocktail. Eric ordered an Old Fashioned and I ordered the Blueberri Patch:
"Stoli Blueberri, Sweet & Sour and a Secret Splash. Served chilled and up with a sugar rim. An Ezra Atwill original."


I ordered the petit filet mignon. It was juicy and tender and came with grill marks that I don't even think were made with a marker. This place is way better than Sizzler!, I thought to myself. I asked for it medium and it was cooked to perfection- slightly blackened on the outside, pink through the middle. With just two saws of the knife, slices of meat were practically falling off. The steaks come with a sauce of your choice- I went with the peppercorn, based on our server's advise (who, by the way, was extremely helpful and friendly). It looked like a brown gravy and the flavor was rich and very buttery. There were whole peppercorns in it, but it definitely didn't have an overly peppery flavor.



Eric ordered the Bone-In New York, Delmonico. It was easily a larger cut than mine and, according to our server, had more marbling throughout. I tried a bite and it seemed pretty similar to the filet, but with a little more consistency.



For our sides, we went with a baked potato and the hashed browns with Gruyere cheese. The baked potato was topped with Cheddar and bacon and included a side of sour cream. The hash with Gruyere... A gooey, carboloaded treat.

Both potato versions were decadent and rich and you can't go wrong with either. But if you're going to splurge, do the Gruyere.


Worth noting: the steaks do not come with any sides. When you order a hunk of meat, you'll get a hunk of meat and that's it. I thought that was a little disappointing. Maybe that's just how fancy people eat. Fancy people hate side dishes.


If you're in the area and looking for a nice, quaint restaurant that oozes Santa Barbara style, head to Lucky's. Even if it's just for a drink, it's more than worth it.

(Thank you, Eric, for the best birthday dinner ever.)


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4.02.2014

My Birthday: 34

I turned 34 yesterday and I have to say, it doesn't feel much different from 33. Except that now, I expect to start receiving AARP mags and Boniva coupons in the mail.



The festivities began a little early when we had Pearl for the previous weekend. On a strong recommendation from a friend (Hi Miss), we took a little drive up the coast and had lunch at Padaro Beach Grill. It was a beautiful day and everyone and their mom was there. Literally. Eric's mom and dad met us there.




It was a burger day all around and we took our time catching up on each other's stories.




Later that night, Eric, Pearl, and I went to see a local production of Willy Wonka. It was a little hokey, but I think that's pretty much par for the course. Pearl LOVED it and it provided some family time while also inspiring Pearl's creativity. A win-win, if you ask me.

As you can see, it was a packed house.



On my actual birthday, I was surprised with some low-key decorations at work...



And office cupcakes...



And a doctor's appt.

Womp-womp.

But at least I was able to snag a good-looking recipe.



Last night, Eric took me out to a surprise dinner at a nice restaurant we'd never been to before. More on that to come...

All in all, my birthday was great. And best of all, I received a surprise gift straight out of my SkyMall dreams: The Ostrich Pillow.


34 is looking strong, my friends.



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4.01.2014

34 Years of Being Me.

Today is my birthday.



I'll post a more in-depth post later. For now, just know that the chances of me looking like the picture above are slim to none and the chances of me looking like the picture below are 100% guaranteed.



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3.18.2014

New Things or Something-Something-Blog-Title

As if being 1/2 real Catholic and 1/2 fake Jew wasn't enough of a guilt trip, Facebook just sent me a text reminding me that I haven't posted anything recently, basically asking what I'm doing with my life. 

LOTS OF IMPORTANT THINGS, OKAY FACEBOOK???

And by important things, I'm actually kind of leaning more towards not important things. Like watching The Bachelor. Did you watch it this season? I think I'm the only woman on the planet who's not smoking bachelor crack and hating all over his Venezuelan ass (Is that where he's from? I don't even know.). Nobody and their mom should have been surprised that JP was a party hard Bachelor4Life; he wreaked of it when he was on the previous season. Except all the dumb stay-at-home-moms drooled all over him and called the producer hotline nonstop trying to get him in the hot seat. Anyway, on the final episode when Chris Harrison kept asking the same damn question over and over again like he had Tourette's and JP was like "I'm not telling her I love her" I was like "GOOD. You stay strong, JP. If homie don't love her and homie don't want to marry her, homie don't play that." Even if the whole thing was a farce and they split up like a day after the show ended, whatever. The whole thing is a shitshow anyway.

"Hola muchachas, let's make besos."

Did you watch the HBO series, True Detective, featuring the devilishly handsome Matthew McConaughey and the devilishly ugly Woody Harrelson? Eric and I watched every episode, feverishly studying the clues and the behind-the-scenes interview to solve the mystery on our own. In the end, it totally fell flat and everything that you expected to happen, happened. (Eric disagrees with me on this and thinks the ending was fantastic.)

BABE ALERT. And then there's Woody H. too.

Speaking of Facebook, it's really been showcasing all of my acquaintances worst, most annoying habits lately, making me question why I even associate with these people. I'm probably just being hateful, but probably not actually. The philosophical posts that have a facade about being about nothing at all but are really more like giant red "I'm crazy" flags are the best/worst. Like when girls post inspirational shit about if you love a woman, you treat her right and buy her a truck and feed her dog and blah blah blah. Which is basically a one-way message obviously directed straight to their significant other who has apparently mistreated them recently. 

Dumb.

As for annoying things going on in my own life, that's much less interesting. Life has been good, which makes for unfunny blog post business. For now, I'll continue to eat my Fruit Loops and Cheetos for dinner and post politically-incorrect-but-funny internet things.


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2.18.2014

Recipe: White Velvet Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream Frosting

Last week, there was a Valentine's Day bake-off at work and I was drawing a blank on what to bring. I knew that I wanted to try something from scratch- i.e. no box cake. After a few minutes of Googling around, I found a recipe for White Velvet Cupcakes and matched it up with a recipe for Strawberry Buttercream Frosting.

The directions called for using the blessed Kitchenaid mixer- which by the way, I've had for six years and have managed to never use because I feel like it's the fanciest thing I'll ever own and therefore need to preserve it for as long as possible.

Long story short, the ingredients were all items I had here at home, the directions were easy to follow, and unfortunately I did not win the $20 Target gift card at work. (Cinna-Mon-Amour won; cinnamon + cream cheese? Please. It wasn't even a fair battle). But! I did get second place votes and someone asked me for my recipe, so at least there's that.

Yesterday was my mom's birthday and I made her the same cupcake/frosting combo. The directions were even easier the second time around and with the amendments I made below, yielded a more balanced flavor.

I feel like I'm ready to open my own bakery.



White Velvet Cupcakes

Adapted from this recipe at Fifteen Spatulas

Cupcake Ingredients

3 large egg whites
10 tbsp milk (sounds weird, I know)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups sifted all purpose flour MINUS 4 TBSP
1 cup sugar
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 stick salted butter between 65 and 75 degrees (or on the coolish side)
(Frosting recipe below photos)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350F (176C).

2. In a small bowl, whisk egg whites, 3 tbsp of milk, and vanilla until combined. It will smell and look like horchata.



3. In a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt on low for 30 seconds. Add the butter and the rest of the milk and mix on low until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 90 seconds.



4. With the mixer on medium low speed, slowly add half of the egg mixture and beat for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides and repeat with the remainder of egg mixture. It will be thick, like pancake batter.



5. Pour into lined cupcake pan; fill to approximately half full. Bake for approximately 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove cupcakes to a wire rack to cool.



6. Once cupcakes have cooled, top with frosting and enjoy!




UPDATE: My mom, niece, Eric, and I all loved them. It was noted that the frosting was the best part. My brother-in-law thought they were muffins. I'm not sure what that says about my baking/presentation skills.

Strawberry Buttercream Frosting

Frosting Ingredients

1 basket of strawberries, sliced
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
2 sticks of salted butter
4.5 cups confectioner's sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp milk (optional)

Directions

1. In a small saucepan, combine strawberries, water, and granulated sugar and bring to a boil over medium low heat. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and blend until smooth. Chill for 20 minutes or store for future use.

2. Cream butter and 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar, then add 1 tbsp of the strawberry syrup. Repeat until all of the sugar and 7 tbsp of the strawberry syrup have been added. Add vanilla and beat on high for about 20 seconds.

3. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add milk, starting with 1 tbsp at a time. (Both times that I made the frosting, I didn't need milk at all.)

4. Use immediately or refrigerate up to three days. To bring frosting back to life after refrigeration, allow to reach room temperature, then beat on low until smooth.

Note: My frosting didn't turn out very pink. In fact, it's on the pale side. If you want a more pinky effect, I'd suggest adding a drop of red food coloring.



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2.13.2014

Recipe: Raspberry Coconut Layer Bars

The other day, I walked by the kitchen at work and saw these raspberry beauties out on the counter, just begging me to eat them. Not wanting everyone at work to know how well I can tie on the old feedbag, I looked disinterested and nonchalantly grabbed one on my way to my desk, like "Oh hey. What's this. Sure, I'll take one. I guess."



It was the so freaking good, it took everything in me to not go back and eat the whole plate.

After casually inhaling two more, I complimented my coworker Jill on her handywork and basically begged for the recipe.

Hopefully, it's not a secret family treasure because I'm totally sharing it right now with the whole, wide world (and by world, I really just mean my mom and two friends in Casper, WY).


Raspberry Coconut Layer Bars

Ingredients

1 2/3 graham cracker crumbs
1 stick melted butter
7 oz sweetened flaked coconut
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup raspberry jam (roughly 3/4 of the jar, if you don't feel like measuring)
1/2 cup chopped, toasted walnuts

Directions

Preheat oven to 350.

1. Mix together graham cracker crumbs and butter. Press into a compact crust in a 9x13 baking dish.




2. Spread coconut evenly over crust.




3. Pour condensed milk evenly over coconut.




4. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges turn golden.




5. Let cool, then evenly spread jam over everything. (It will seem like there's not enough, but there is.)




6. Chill 3 - 4 hours. Top with toasted walnuts; you may want to use more than 1/2 cup. As you can see in the photos, it's on the sparse side.




7. Cut into squares/ rectangles and serve!


I made these for our Super Bowl party and they were a fucking hit. Not to mention, they were super easy to make. Anything that's easy to throw together and makes me look like I know what I'm doing in the kitchen gets a thumbs up in my book. Five chins all around!


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