Thursday, November 26, 2009

Waiting Until The Last Minute

'Tis Thanksgiving. And I'm in danger of losing my foodie cred because I'm not racing around with a turkey baster in one hand and the second of 8 sticks of butter in the other.

A variety of issues and events are keeping me out of the kitchen this year. I'm not entirely happy about it, but as long as Sweetie and I are healthy and together for the holiday, the rest is just details.

If you're looking for a spot of color among the table to break up the tan turkey and white potatoes and creamy green bean casserole, this is terrific. It's even healthy, and it can be thrown together at the last minute (which this is).

Cranberry Applesauce
Serves 4

Four peeled, cored, chopped apples - good saucing apples include Fuji, Golden Delicious,
1/4 cup of fresh or frozen cranberries
3/4 cup of water or apple juice (about a small juice box)
1/4 cup of sugar - start with 2 tablespoons, and add more if necessary. Alternative sweeteners (agave, Equal, etc.) can be used instead, just sweeten to taste.
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Cover and cook over medium heat 15 - 20 minutes, or until apples are soft and cranberries have released juice. Allow to cool - during cooling, taste to check sweetness and add sugar (by the tablespoon) if necessary.

When cool, puree with in a blender or with a stick/immersion blender. For chunky sauce, simply mash with a fork.

This recipe can be easily doubled or tripled if you're hosting a large crowd.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Big Reveal!

Remember the Goodwill projects? Here they are in their sorry "before" condition.

THE VASES - $1.50 each, photographed here in the designated "spray paint area" of the yard. And the $3 chair. Is there any finer indication of quality craftsmanship than duct tape?

Because spray paint is magic, the vases all match. Because Michael's prints 40% off coupons, there is fallish stuff in the vases. The black & white photo on the wall is one I did years ago, and the bronze baby booties were my grandfather's.

The desk chair... oy! I wouldn't touch the original seat with bare hands. I gloved-up and got rid of the duct tape, original hardware, and that god-awful seat. After cleaning up the frame (Method wood cleaner is amazing stuff), I gave it a few good coats with Krylon spray paint in Khaki. Then I picked up a fabric remnant and some batting and went nutty with the staple gun for the seat. The photo above is in our dining room, and not the guest room where it will live. We were having dinner guests and needed the extra chair.
I'm not 100% sold on the seat fabric - I'm still debating about the accent colors in the guest room, so it may change. Next up I think I'm going to paint the guest room bookcase from its current black to the same Khaki to match. It'll be the third color in 18 years for that bookcase, what a trooper!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Little Different Tailgate

I'm making this up, of course. I've never been to a tailgate in my life, mostly because neither my childhood gymnastic meets nor my oldest niece's soccer games seem to have tailgating parties attached.

But beer and football go together, from what I understand. Much like beer and baseball - I've never cared for beer (and me in a sorority, back in the day!). Yet whenever I go to a Braves game, beer it is.

A little late for Oktoberfest, but this Lemon-Lager Chicken recipe was just wonderful. My beloved Trader Joe's has non-beer people like me covered by selling single bottles for $1 - $2. I mean, we like the recipe but we don't six-pack-in-the-fridge-for-months like it, you know? I made this last weekend when I was a Tasmanian Devil of a house project - recovering chairs, moving around the decor, you name it. Fortunately this is EASY - dump the marinade ingredients in a ziploc or glass dish with a cover, give it a little time with the chicken, and cook. Done.

If you don't have grilling weather just pop these under the broiler. We sauteed broccolini and garlic as a side dish, which was terrific. Some roasted butternut squash or sweet potatoes would be a good choice, too. The leftovers were great tossed in a spinach salad.

Lemon-Larger Chicken
Cooking Light, 2005

1 cup lager (such as Budweiser)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (pricey - I used bottled)
3 TBSP soy sauce
1 1/2 TBSP olive oil
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
2 tsp chopped fresh oregano
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper (seriously? Who measures freshly ground pepper? Four or five twists of the pepper grinder - close enough)
2 tsp honey
1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce (2 shakes if you don't want to dirty the measuring spoon)
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 6-ounce boneless skinless breast halves

Combine all ingredients except chicken in a large (1 gallon) ziploc bag, or glass/ceramic dish with a cover. Blend. Add chicken. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.

Remove chicken from bag and discard marinade. Grill or broil, approximately 5 minutes per side.

Friday, November 6, 2009

What's In Store

What does "November" mean? For starters, it means that the Christmas displays in the stores are looking tired and dusty after being up for the past 3 months.

For another, people start to reminisce about the year that isn't finished yet. Something about a crispness in the air makes people nostalgic for two weeks ago.

And of course, the predictions for 2010 start rolling in. - and I love the name of that site and can't believe I just found it - has released their foodie predictions for 2010.

"More creative snacky things" - YAY! I adore snacky things! 2010 sounds fantabulous already. [settles happily into sofa]

"Sharing is the key" - yeah, Sweetie. Slide a li'l of the cheesey dip and other snacky-treats right here. That's the ticket.

"People are looking for edibles they can trust" - um, is this new? Not in this house, it isn't.

"Fried chicken is the new pork belly" - the hell? Will people trade in fried chicken futures on the stock market (or whatever)?

Oh, good heavens - I just read the description under this little factoid and it used the words "undercooked pork fat." Let's go back to "creative snacky things", shall we?

"Putting in good additives instead of taking out nasty ones" - new healthy benefits to cocktails? You have my attention.

Buzzwords for 2010: Neapolitan pizza (oooohhh, yes!). Lamb riblets (are they small lamb ribs? Small lambs?). Made-to-order ice cream (they already sell "dark chocolate with more chocolate," don't they?). Backyard and rooftop beehives (intentionally? Are the bees plotting against us?). Chefs turned butchers (if you really want a big sharp knife in your hand, best to direct that energy toward being a butcher).

Hmmm.... made-to-order ice cream....