Saturday, January 21, 2012

And the 2012 word is.....

People who are way more serious about blogging than me - probably because they're much better at it - decided they'd all choose a word for 2012. Something that embodies a goal, something that speaks to a quality to develop.

I was specially invited - as an adult who can read and write in English - to participate. See if you can figure out my goal from the following:

a) I'm eating leftovers for dinner.
b) I went to Lowe's today and didn't buy one.single.thing.
c) Tomorrow should be the last day I have paint splatters on my nails.

Possibly, you were thinking along the lines of being a cheap-ass frugal as a worthy 2012 goal. And indeed it is, and it will probably be a by-product of my actual goal... which is to FINISH what I've started.

I'm surrounded by projects that range from too-started-to-pretend-it-isn't to done-except-for-the-last-15-minutes-that-would-make-the-already-invested-14-hours-really-be-worth-it. Is anyone nodding their head in agreement?

What does this "finishing" mean?
1. I have materials and I have plans. Those both need to make sweet, sweet love and become A Thing. For example - I have 4 Goodwill picture frames for prints I've purchased over the years. It's time these crazy kids got together, spray painted or whatever, and decided to hang out on my wall. Any wall. I'm not picky (much).

2. I throw out too much food - hence the leftovers as part of my sly teaser above. I need to FINISH what I cook. Good for the wallet, good for the earth. Sorry, but it's true - and in fact, it (curried chicken with brown rice) was delicious.

3. I'm REALLY looking forward to a time, probably not in the near future, but someday, when I can come home and not have a pile of Projects To Do all over the place, making me feel guilty and tired just by looking at them. Probably wishful thinking, but I can at least do better than I am now.

All that said, what - says the food blogger - is something I DID finish? Well a few things, actually, including a great end-table for our living room that gives much-needed storage, and this terrific frittata.

It was in Fitness magazine (which I finished reading all the way through, thank you) in September, 2010. And I finally got around to making it two weeks ago. Unlike other frittatas there are no potatoes, so it's a little more of a crustless quiche.

The best part is its adaptability. I try to get at least 10 different vegetables into our diet per week, so the asparagus here was perfect. I also added some sauteed country ham bits.

Variations to substitute for all the veggies:
Sundried tomatoes, spinach, and mushrooms (season with oregano). Mozzarella will work; personally, I love goat cheese with sundried tomatoes. Decadence!
Extra mushrooms (sauteed) and thyme (fresh if possible), maybe some smoked gouda
Corn, black beans, cumin (1/2 tsp, maybe?), cheddar or pepper jack instead of goat cheese, and a little hot sauce or chili powder

Kitchen Sink Frittata
Fitness magazine

6 eggs
6 egg whites
1 cup skim milk
1 cup sliced mushrooms
4 stalks asparagus, cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces on the diagona
2 cups arugula (or spinach)
2 ounces crumbled goat cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Whisk together eggs, egg whites, and skim milk.

Mist a 10- or 12-inch ovenproof skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Sautee mushrooms, asparagus, arugula (or spinach) until veggies are tender, about 5 minutes.

Pour egg mixture over the top - don't stir - and sprinkle with goat cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes until golden.

The Lettered Cottage

Monday, January 9, 2012

Choppin' Broccoli

Back in the 80s we entertained ourselves with hair spray, some fantastically happy dance music, VHS tapes, and this little Saturday Night Live snippet:

Because if you're going for a big recording contract, you'd better bring it with the broccoli, yo.

The past few months have been rough and I could use some happy dance music, or happy anything, right about now. [brings back of hand to forehead, sighs dramatically] So thank goodness a) we have a radio in the kitchen and b) I've suddenly remembered that the kitchen is more than "the place where I keep the bananas."

TWO NIGHTS IN A ROW we had a real dinner at home (and I had the third at Cutie's house). We faux-breaded trout and had - did you notice the foreshadowing? - roasted broccoli. The original intent was to try a fab-looking recipe for broccoli & sun-dried tomatoes, but I pulled off a trifecta of forgetting to get sun-dried tomatoes for three consecutive shopping trips. [blushes modestly].

Having established already that broccoli and tomatoes go together, and that Parmesan goes with both broccoli and tomatoes, and there was half a container of cherry tomatoes that had about 6 hours of usability left, I halved the tomatoes and threw them in. I'm going to call it 1 cup in the recipe but, really, any amount (or none at all) will work.

based on Ina Garten's Parmesan-Roasted Broccoli

2 or 3 heads of broccoli - 2 pounds-ish
2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
Salt & pepper
1/3 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese (yes, freshly grated. It is one of life's true and affordable pleasures to have fresh Parmesan and not the parmesan dust in the green can. Trust me.)
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
2. Cut the head(s) of broccoli into clusters of florets, leaving an inch or two of stalk attached.
3. Put the florets on a baking sheet large enough to hold the broccoli, garlic, and tomatoes in a single layer. Drizzle 1 TBSP vegetable or olive oil over the veggies & garlic - toss to coat all veggies [2 notes - first, I usually line the pan with aluminum foil for faster clean-up. Two, combining oil and veggies is easier in a smallish bowl than on a big baking sheet. It dirties another dish, but it does a much better job of coating the vegetables so that they don't burn.]
4. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
5. Roast for 20 - 25 minutes, until florets are crisp-tender. They will be a little browned.
6. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and toss veggies with Parmesan. A sprinkle & a stir, then again, then again helps distribute the Parmesan and keeps it from melting into clumps.

We had this with fish, but it would work well with chicken, pork roast or pork chops (especially if they have oregano), or pasta with red sauce. Enjoy!