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    Easy (No Cooking!) Ice Cream Recipes

    As a New Yorker purchasing a novelty kitchen item like an ice cream maker isn’t the wisest move. But I had been diagnosed with cancer and said to hell with it. It wasn’t on my “bucket list” (is making homemade ice cream on anyone’s bucket list?), but I *had* always wanted my own ice cream machine. Everything is trash and we all die anyway and none of this really matters, so I’m gonna make some damn ice cream. (It was a great summer. /sarcasm) 
     
    After some online research, I got a Cuisinart 1.5 Quart Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream Maker in white, thought they do make other fun colors. I quickly realized that many ice cream recipes call for cooking. What? No. No, no, no, no, no, no, no. I just want to make sweet creamy stuff and freeze it and eat it all in one sitting. 

    So I found the *perfect* no-cook recipe for vanilla, chocolate chip, cookies & cream, mint, coconut and other concoctions. It’s dangerously easy to make with 4 simple ingredients. Not chocolate, though. Don’t fret! I found a great chocolate recipe also included below. But first the super easy adaptable one from All Recipes billed as a Mint Chocolate Chip, but it can easily be adapted to any flavor combo you want. 

    It takes less than 3 minutes to mix up the following in a bowl then dump into your machine. That’s it. Like I said, dangerously easy…

    * I’ve mixed and matched extracts up to about 2 to 2.5 teaspoons. Coconut vanilla, coffee and raspberry, you name it. Chocolate is really the only thing I couldn’t make work with this. Cookies and Cream made with crushed up Oreos is probably the best version ever. It’s shamefully good.

    For chocolate…I tried a few until I finally landed on *the one*. No cooking at all and a damn fine creamy chocolate flavor. 

    Get a bowl. Stir together the sugar and cocoa. Add the egg yolks and blend with a mixer. Add cream a little at a time, beating as you go. Put the mix in the refrigerator while you grate the chocolate chips in blender or food processor or whatever, until fine. Stir into cream mixture. Use your ice cream maker to freeze it and let it ripen about 8 hours or more. You can eat it earlier…it’s just better after time.

    If you have any qualms about raw eggs, then skip this recipe but the eggs make it so much creamier and richer. 

    That’s it! The hardest part is finding a spot to store the machine when not in use. Well that and not eating gallons of ice cream every day. But I have made a delicious low fat, sugar free frozen yogurt and a sorbet, so there are healthier options, too. So get yourself a machine or ask your Santa to deliver one to you this Christmas. You’re welcome!!!

  • Recipes

    Jalapeno Lime Cilantro Marinade

    I found this recipe for a tasty jalapeño lime cilantro marinade but can’t find the source. Saving here for future use. Good for 4 chicken breasts. Ingredients:

    • 2 limes, juice and zest or 1/4 cup lime juice
    • 1 tablespoon – ¼ cup olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
    • 1 clove garlic, grated
    • 1 jalapeno, finely diced (optional)
  • Food & Drink,  Recipes

    HOMEMADE PINKBERRY FROZEN YOGURT

    Yields: 4 servings
    INGREDIENTS
    For the frozen yogurt:
    • 3 cups non-fat or reduced-fat Greek yogurt
    • 1 cup skim milk
    • 1/3 cup sugar
    • 2 Tbsp lemon juice (from 1/2 a lemon)
    For serving:
    • assorted chopped fresh fruit (or your favorite froyo toppings)
    INSTRUCTIONS
    1. Freeze the bowl of your ice cream maker according to manufacturer instructions.
    2. Whisk all frozen yogurt ingredients together in a large bowl. Pour into the bowl of your ice cream maker and churn until frozen. (This takes about 15 minutes in mine.)
    3. Scoop immediately for soft-serve (delicious!) or store in a covered container in the freezer. My preference is to place in the freezer for 30-60 minutes before serving to harden the yogurt up just a bit and ensure that it doesn’t melt immediately. Top with fresh fruit and enjoy!
  • Food & Drink,  Recipes

    Skinny Mint Chocolate Milkshakes

     

    Thick & creamy mint chocolate milkshakes without all the calories and fat. Only 5 simple ingredients! Add chocolate protein powder and/or a handful of spinach if you like…so many ways to tweak it.

    Ingredients for 2 servings:

    • 1 large frozen very ripe bananas, peeled & sliced
    • 2 heaping Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 1/2 cup skim milk
    • 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
    • 1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract

    Directions:

    1. Make sure you have a strong, powerful blender that will blend up the frozen banana.
    2. Add all of the ingredients to the blender, in the order listed, and blend until thick, creamy, and smooth – about 3 minutes.

    Additional Notes:

    1. The milk can be any milk you like: skim, 1%, 2%, almond, soy, coconut.
    2. The yogurt can be any yogurt you like: vanilla Greek yogurt, plain Greek yogurt, plain yogurt, vanilla yogurt. Non-fat or low fat. Same for milk, of course.
    3. Add more milk to thin it out. You can always add more peppermint extract and/or cocoa powder for a stronger minty and/or chocolate taste.
  • Food & Drink,  Recipes

    Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Smoothie

    I’ve been making this single-serving of a crazy flavorful, low-fat, high protein smoothie for myself and double it if Christian is home.

    Ingredients:

    • 1/2 banana, peeled, sliced, and frozen
    • 1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder (I sometimes skip this and just make it PB&B.)
    • 1/2 cup non-fat, plain Greek Yogurt
    • 1/2 cup skim milk
    • 1 Tablespoon Splenda, honey, maple syrup, or agave…whatever sweetener you like. (I actually stopped adding Splenda as an overripe banana is plenty sweet for us.)
    • 1 Tablespoon peanut butter (Any kind you like but we prefer all natural, i.e., the only ingredient listed is peanuts.)

    Directions:

    1. Make sure you have a strong, powerful blender that will blend up the frozen banana.
    2. Put all of the ingredients into the blender, in the order listed, and blend on high until thick and smooth.
    3. Drizzle glass with 1 teaspoon of chocolate syrup (optional) and enjoy!

    Additional Notes:

    If you prefer a less sweet smoothie, you can leave out the honey. Add more peanut butter for a stronger peanut butter taste. Add more milk to make the smoothie thinner, if desired. Add 1 cup of your favorite greens for added nutrition. So many ways to play around with this simple smoothie!

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    Baked Tilapia in a Lemon Butter Caper Sauce

    I’ve never been much of a fish eater (except that one time in college!) but lately I’ve been eating more fish tacos, tuna, catfish and tilapia than all my years of life combined. Note, they’re all mild flavored fish. I still can’t stand the smell and taste of fishy fish and tilapia is about as mild as they come. IMG_2396

    This recipe serves two and takes 20 minutes, tops, from the fridge to your belly.

    INGREDIENTS:
    2 tilapia fillets
    2 tablespoons melted butter (I use Land O Lakes Light Butter for an even healthier dish)
    2 tablespoons lemon juice
    Garlic salt
    Capers
    Oregano

    DIRECTIONS:
    – Place tilapia in an ungreased baking pan. I line my pan with foil to avoid cleanup.
    – Combine the butter & lemon juice and pour over the fillets. Sprinkle with capers, oregano and garlic salt to taste. Throw on minced garlic or powder if you want more garlic flavor.
    – Bake uncovered at 425° for 10-15 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork. I always go for the full 15 minutes because I don’t want to see the fish again anytime soon, ifyaknowwhatImean.

    Bam. That’s it. Seriously. That’s it.

    In this photo, I’ve paired it with roasted asparagus, onions and cherry tomatoes drizzled with lemon juice and a dusting of parmesan cheese. Ignore the pink, flowery plate. They were left by the previous owners and we never bothered buying dishes of our own.

  • Christian Finnegan,  Family & Life,  Food & Drink,  Uncategorized

    Sugar is the Devil & I’m Possessed!

    Time for an exorcism! Christian and I are five days into a two week detox from the devilish temptation of all things sweet. Happily, it hasn’t been too hard. This is much in part because eight years ago we adopted a pretty much sugar free, non/low-fat, whole grain life following the South Beach Diet. Christian lost 80 pounds and has kept it off for all these years.

    I hesitated even mentioning the SBD because it seems like a fad. But really it’s just the normal way all of us should eat and live. The only “fad” part is Phase 1, the toughest part, which lasts two weeks. This PDF, South Beach Diet Food List, lays it out. Really, two weeks of a life is a blip. Buck up, buttercup.

    This last year (or two?) he and I have gotten lazy. Him due to injuries and me due to visiting all the hotel bars and restaurants this great nation has to offer while on tour. I blame you, Wisconsin! If I were still exercising regularly, it wouldn’t be too much of an issue but travel + me = sloth. The promise of sleeping with blackout curtains in a strange bed and day drinking in a new city never motivates me to pack running shoes.

    The fact that this detox is so much easier this time around tells me we’re not as addicted to bad food. Eight years ago there was a lot of cursing, raised voices and irrational anger. Back then we used to eat pizza and pasta made from white flour, full fat dairy and tons of sugar laden drinks and desserts.

    So far, I’ve had zero cravings and one headache. Christian has craved a beer — normal, since his “office” has a bar and free drinks– and he’s had a few brain farts. For example, I asked him to grab a roll of paper towels. He froze. He started toward the hall closet then froze again. He couldn’t remember where we kept them. We keep them in the same place we’ve always kept them in this apartment we’ve lived in for NINE years.

    Funny & scary what bad food does to our brains. Which brings me to my point: If you are looking to change your eating habits, I’d recommend following this plan. I’m not paid to say so, but Christian should seriously be their spokesperson. So call us, South Beach Diet marketing team!

  • All Blog Entries,  Recipes

    Mediterranean Orzo Salad

    Ingredients:
    ½ lb orzo
    3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    6 oz pitted & sliced kalamata olives
    4 oz diced sundried tomatoes (dry or jarred)
    8 oz cubed or crumbled feta
    2 oz toasted pine nuts
    handful of fresh diced parsley
    salt + pepper to taste

    Bring water to a boil, enough to cook your orzo pasta.  Meanwhile, slice your kalamata olives in half, cube your feta, and dice your sundried tomatoes.  Toast your pine nuts in the oven for a few minutes at 375 degrees, it enhances their flavor.  Chop a small handful of parsley, and set all aside.

    Cook your orzo according to the directions on the box, strain, and place in a bowl.  Immediately pour the EVOO over the orzo to keep it from sticking, then stir it all around.  Add the feta, kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes, pine nuts and parsley on top.  Toss the ingredients together, then add freshly cracked black pepper and salt to taste.  Chill for an hour, serves 6 to 8 people.

  • All Blog Entries,  Food & Drink,  Recipes

    Edible and Audible Jambalaya

    Jambalaya and Crawfish Pie and Fillet Gumbo! Ahhh, Hank Williams, Jr. and a pot o’ jambalaya are making me happy tonight. When folks think of jambalaya and other Cajun delights, they don’t usually think of some girl in the sticks of Texas. But before we moved into the shed on Boars Head we rented a house along a bayou in Houston.

    Many an afternoon was spent trawling the bayou in search of crawdads. You wouldn’t have caught me *eating* one back then, but who doesn’t love to pull up a net and see a good catch o’ the day? We could sell those suckers, too! Throw in a pitcher of fresh Kool-Aid & crawdad stands could yield a pretty penny.

    Thanks to this recipe from the Food Network, I was able to enjoy a taste of home. It’s an easy and yummy recipe with just a little bit of kick. Swap out white rice for whole grain without sacrificing a lot of taste and you’ve got a healthier dish. Throw in some more cajun seasoning and/or Tobasco sauce for a little extra spice.

    This yields a lot at 2.5 pounds of meat plus all the fixings. The site said 4 servings but I don’t know what kind of monster chained in the basement they’re feeding. I’d say this should yield about 8 bowls.

    1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
    1/2 pound andouille sausage, diced
    1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
    1 medium onion, choppedJambalaya 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
    1 stalk celery, chopped
    1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
    2 teaspoons dried oregano
    2 teaspoons Cajun or Creole seasoning
    1 teaspoon hot sauce
    2 bay leaves
    1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

    For later:
    1 pound frozen peeled and cooked shrimp, thawed

    And even later:
    2 cups cooked rice

    Directions
    Throw everything except the shrimp and rice in a slow cooker. Cook on LOW for 7 hours or on HIGH for 3 hours. Stir in the thawed shrimp, cover and cook until the shrimp is heated through. That should only be about 5 minutes, but I cooked for another hour because I once got food poisoning from shrimp. Once. Discard bay leaves and spoon mixture over cooked rice.

    Bon appétit, mon chérie!

  • All Blog Entries,  Food & Drink,  PR & Marketing,  Recipes

    Zipzicle Review & Give-Away

    Here at the Crews-Finnegan abode, we’re a mostly sugar-free household, so I’m always on the lookout for ways to make snacks that also satisfy the sweet tooth. Entrez le Zipzicle!

    These nifty little plastic pouches can be used to make healthy, all natural, sugar free ice pops & other frozen treats. But let’s be honest, the way I found out about them was for boozing. My niece (Technically, my ex-niece-in-law but who’s counting and how annoying is that to type out?) posted on Facebook about how she was enjoying some potent margarita ice pops. I babysat this chick and she’s having all the fun? Nuh uh. This will not stand.

    I decided to make my own. But how? A quick Google search led me to find Zipzicles. I can make my own boozy ice pops AND healthy snacks? Sign me up! I can’t even stand how clever they are.

    Margarita PopsI’ve actually tried making healthy, non-boozy popsicles before using plastic popsicle makers but they always crack (see photo of my 3rd & final popsicle making contraption below), take up cabinet space & the pops themselves are too big. I’m usually sick of eating it before I’m 1/2 way done & waste a lot. So, I was excited to have another way to make all the recipes I have saved in my kitchen drawer. The Zipzicle site has a short list of recipes to try, too, but a simple search for popsicle recipes yields a ton more.

    So far, I’ve made & enjoyed frozen margaritas (interesting that they didn’t freeze 100%…I guess tequila has a different freeze point?) and tangy blueberry pops, both pictured below and both worthy of making again.

    Next up we’re going to make Orange Dreamzicles, Strawberry Shortcake Greek Yogurt pops, and Fudgesicles. Lord knows we’ve eaten our way through enough store-bought Fudgesicles to make a hut made of leftover sticks.

    The only improvement I would make to the design is to have a tad more plastic above the zip so our fat fingers can open them a little easier. That’s nitpicking, though, because they are nifty little suckers. Best part? After eating half of the tangy blueberry pop, I was done. Rather than have to pitch the rest, I simply zipped it back up and put in the freezer to eat later. I was able to rinse out and reuse all the Zipzicles twice now, so the $2.99 price for 12 packets ends up going a long way.

    The kind folks at Zipzicle are giving away a package of 12 to three lucky winners! Enter to win below. I know you’ll love them, too!

    P.S. No compensation was received for this post. I received a complimentary package of Zipzicles for my review and they are providing the three packages for the giveaway.

    A Rafflecopter giveaway

     

     

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    Spicy Brown Mustard

    Soaking SeedsSoaking Seeds

    To make mustard, all you REALLY need is mustard seeds and vinegar. Who knew?

    Soak overnight in non-reactive, airtight container at room temperature. Pictured at right, you can see how the seeds are at the bottom and much of the vinegar is pooled on top. Then, after a day, how the vinegar is almost entirely soaked up by the seeds.

    • 1 cup white wine vinegar
    • 3/4 cup brown mustard seeds

    Put your seeds and vinegar into a blender and pulse till blended. Anything else is optional. I added:

    • 2 tablespoons dry white wine (or water if you’re teetotaler or whatever they call it)
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
    • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
    Let your blended mustard age another day or two for best results. The recipe as above filled a 16 0z Bell Jar.
    For spicier mustard, adding horseradish is an option. For less spicy mustard, go with a lighter color mustard seed.

    Ready to Blend Mustard!

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    BananAppétit

    This is yummy follow up to my easy, peasy, chocolate covered fruit recipe. Behold the frozen chocolate covered banana & peanut butter sandwiches with able assistance by Paquita, the butter knife-licking Chihuahua.

    *For the chocolate, melt 1/4 cup of dark chocolate with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. For detailed instructions, click here.

    Ingredients Kitchen Assistant Sammiches BananAppétit

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    Roasted Avocado & Couscous Salad

    While Christian hobnobs in LA (go see him perform!), I’m rounding out the last week of my month at the Rock House. Without the option of hundreds of restaurants and take-out menus all within a few blocks, I’ve had to seek out new things to cook for myself. I can only enjoy my Chicken Tortilla Soup so many times before it starts to feel like water torture. So, this is what I cooked up today.

    INGREDIENTS:
    1 AvocadoIngredients
    1/4 cup couscous +  1/2 tspn olive oil
    1/8 of a red onion or one shallot, finely chopped
    1/3 cup water
    Mixed salad greens, how much is up to you

    DRESSING INGREDIENTS
    Juice of 1 small lemon
    1/2 tbsp olive oil

    1. Pre-heat the oven to 400. Peel and deseed (? Is that a thing? A word? Sounds naughty in a biblical sense.) the avocado and cut into quarters. Place them in a greased pan. (I spray with Pam, but whatever. You get it.) Sprinkle with salt and pepper. I went nuts on the pepper and will probably use more next time. I also used some garlic salt.
    2. Roast the avocado for about 15 minutes. You want them to look a little bit golden-brown around the edges. While they’re roasting….
    3. Throw some mixed greens into a bowl.
    4. Juice your lemon into a little ramekin or bowl or whatever you’ve got and then stir in the 1/2 tbsp of olive oil. That’s your dressing.
    5. Bring the 1/3 cup of water to boil. Once it’s boiling, add the couscous, 1/2 tsp olive oil, and red onion; cover and remove from heat. Let it sit 5 minutes before fluffing with a  fork.
    6. Pour yourself a glass of wine and set your table.
    7. Dump the couscous and red onion mixture on top of the greens. Add the roasted avocado and drizzle with lemon-olive oil dressing.

    Eat your heart out and remember to thank me later!

    This was one serving and a very healthy size for a girl. I ate almost 2 hours ago and am still stuffed. I could’ve done with a little less couscous for sure. On a hungrier stomach, sure. If you’re cooking for you and a dude (or, if you’re a dude, you and a chick), then double the portions and give him a bit more. That’s what I plan on doing when I see Christian next.

    I also plan on trying it with quinoa instead of couscous at some point. Great option if you’re the gluten-free type. And I might throw in some grape tomatoes if they’re handy.

    Roasted Avocado & Couscous Salad

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    Easy Monte Cristo Sandwich a/k/a Hot Ham & Swiss

    Throughout my entire high school career, the only consistent meal I ate was school lunch. Rather than pay for the three-course meal that differed each day, I stuck with the cheaper choice offered at a sort of satellite take-out counter.

    “One hot ham & cheese sandwich & a peanut butter wafer, please.”

    Every. Single. Day.

    The only time I wavered was because my pocketbook deemed it so that I could only have one or the other.

    Now that I’m a grown up*, my taste buds have matured**. To make it a little more interesting for my adult palate, I made an easy twist on the plain old (processed) ham & (processed “yellow”) cheese sandwich.

    INGREDIENTS FOR TWO:
    1/3 of a sheet of Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry (Ahem. Where’s my %, dudes. I’m still pimping ya!)
    Deli ham of your choosing
    Genuine fresh Swiss cheese
    Dijon or other spicy mustard
    One egg, lightly beaten (optional)

    DIRECTIONS:
    1) Pre-heat the oven to 400°
    2) Roll out 1/3 of a sheet of puff pastry on to a lightly floured surface into a 12″ square then cut it in half.
    3) Add a few slices of deli ham & swiss on each square of dough & smear it with dijon/spicy mustard.
    4) Fold over your dough to make a sealed sandwich.
    5) Coat with an egg wash if you like your dough looking brown and done. I’m cheap, so I save the egg unless I’m trying to show off for comp’ny
    6) Bake for 20 minutes at 400°
    7) Cut each sandwich in half and serve with cornichon pickles & an ice cold lager, because that’s what I like and I assume you’re inviting me over for lunch.

    For a sweet twist on this savory recipe, skip the mustard and serve with maple syrup and a dusting of confectioner’s sugar.

    *Still sucking syrup out of the bottle like it’s my mama’s teat & eating olives & pickles from the jar. I fear this will not change. Grown ups don’t do these things, do they?
    **Matured=died. They’re dead. It takes habanero peppers drenched in wasabi make me taste anything.

  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life,  Food & Drink,  Recipes,  Rock House

    Sugar & Spice & Everything Nice Cream

    Sopaipillas & FlagIn high school, I studied Spanish for two years under the tutelage of Mrs. Spooner. One assignment required us to make a Mexican dish of our choosing. I elected sopapillas because, A) I loved them, and B) I knew I could get them at Pancho’s at their freakishly cheap “all you care to eat” buffet. After chowing down, I could simply raise the Mexican flag at my table, request additional sopaipillas from my server, stuff  them in my purse, repeat a few more times and still be home in time for Moonlighting.

    “What’s a sopaipilla?” some of you might be wondering. It’s deep-fried pastry that can be used in all sorts of dishes, but is primarily served as a dessert served in the shape of a puffed up little pillow and served with honey. We would tear off a corner, pour a little honey in the hole, swirl it around and mmm, mmm, GOOD!

    I have never seen them anywhere in the Midwest or Northeast (though I’m sure I’ll hear from someone telling me where they serve them around these parts). The one time I did order them from a menu at a New York restaurant, they were not sopaipillas. They were hard & crunchy like cinnamon pita chips. That was my first and last attempt since 1991.

    Now that we have the Rock House, I’ve enjoyed cooking, baking, making, trying all sorts of things. So when I came across this sopaipilla recipe in In Style magazine, I clipped it. It’s been sitting in a drawer ever since. I mean, it looks delicious. But it also looks like a messy hassle. Look at the list of ingredients and all those steps in the instructions. Frying, too? Messy & bad for me and…ah, forget it.

    Fast forward to today when I came across the recipe stuck in a drawer. “Hey, wait a second? Isn’t a sopaipilla basically just puffed pastry?!”

    PUFFED PASTRY! AKA my new BFF and answer to all the world’s ills. Since discovering it a few months ago (Like I’m Chris Columbus or something. Heh. You’re welcome for The Americas, BTW!), I’ve used it for pot pies, egg soufflés, desserts, tarts, pizzas, you name it. If it came in queen-sized sheets, I would sleep with it like a down comforter. That’s how versatile and easy it is. How easy? I’M GONNA EAT IT LIKE A SOPAIPILLA!

    If you don’t make your own dough, this is the hardest part: Bake the puff pastry, drizzle it with honey. DONE! Screw you Bobby Flay & your stupid, messy recipe!

    Now, technically, that’s all a sopaipilla is, but I fancied it up a bit because when you get old the things that excited you when you were young only make you feel hopeless and empty and search for meaning in life. So I spiced it up a bit with sugar & cinnamon (which is how many folks eat their fritters & sopaipillas anyway. This was my first time.)

    Sugar & Spice

    INGREDIENTS:
    1/3 of one sheet of Pepperidge Farm’s Puff Pastry Sheet (they owe me a % of profits based on how much I’ve been pimping them out!)
    1/4 cup sugar
    1 tspn ground cinnamon
    Honey
    Vanilla or Caramel Ice Cream (Because screw it. WHY NOT?! It’s my mom’s birthday! {Or whatever excuse you need to justify this delicious decision.})

    Heat the oven to 400°F.  Cut the pastry sheet into 4 squares & bake for 15 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown.

    Place the sugar and cinnamon into a paper or plastic baggy and shake to combine.

    Add the hot pastries to the bag and shake until coated with the sugar mixture. Drizzle the pastries with the honey or, if you have a squeeze bottle of honey, let the diners tear off a corner and squeeze away themselves. Serve yourself first, though, because they’re best hot and you deserve the best.

    Add a dollop of ice cream to the plate and you have what I call Sugar & Spice and everything Nice Cream.

    Dunking in Sugar & Spice Waiting for Pastry Bon Appetit!

  • All Blog Entries,  Food & Drink,  Recipes

    Strawberry Napoleon

    I discovered puff pastry! In search of a lighter, flakier and less processed pre-made dough for my Panera knock-off soufflés, I came across Pepperidge Farm’s puffed pastry sheets. So easy, so light and the come in two frozen sheets folded into three (so six total), so I can thaw just one sheet and not have to use a whole can of crescent roll dough.

    Anyway, the photo of a dessert on the box caught my eye. The recipe for the image –a “Strawberry Napoleon”– was included on the side. I never used to pay attention to those but, really, wouldn’t the manufacturer know what recipes work best for their product? Seems logical, so I decided to try out the delicious looking pastry. I’ve made it five times now and have modified the directions to a simple, user-friendly, amateur-like-me version below.

    Best part: When I use sugar free Jell-O & sugar free Cool Whip & skim milk, it’s really not even bad for me and satisfies a lot of cravings.

    Here’s the result, inside (L) and out (R) and the recipe with instructions:

    IMG_0599 Strawberry Napoleon

    INGREDIENTS:
    1/2 of a 17.3-ounce package Pepperidge Farm® Puff Pastry Sheets (1 sheet)
    1 pkg. vanilla instant pudding mix
    1 cup milk
    1 cup heavy cream, whipped or 2 cups thawed frozen whipped topping
    1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen sliced strawberries (or blueberries, or both, or whatever. Go nuts! Or, actually, go fruity!)
    A couple of squares of dark chocolate or Hershey’s Syrup [Optional]
    Powdered sugar [Optional]

    PASTRY DIRECTIONS:
    Heat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet. [I actually line one with foil that I spray lightly with Pam.]

    Take one of the sealed packs of pastry sheets from the freezer and let them defrost at room temperature for a minute or two. Basically, it’s one big sheet that’s been tri-folded and you want to crack it into three sheets at their natural fold.

    Place the pastry strips onto the prepared baking sheets and let them defrost for about 20 minutes while your oven is heating up. I usually flip them once or twice.

    Bake for 15 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown. Remove the pastries from the baking sheets and let cool on wire racks for 10 minutes.

    Split the pastries into 2 layers, making 6 layers in all.

    FILLING DIRECTIONS:
    Prepare the pudding mix with 1 cup milk in a large bowl. [Don’t use two cups like the pudding package directions say! I use sugar free instant Jell-O.] Fold in the heavy or whipped cream which ever you chose*. Cover and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

    *For vanilla pudding, I gotta say –in spite of the fat & calories– heavy cream is probably what I’ll do next time. I used sugar free Cool Whip and it was just too meh. No flavor at all. Maybe a drop of vanilla extract would help?

    I’ve used chocolate pudding as filling once and used the sugar free Cool Whip in that instance and it was like a light mousse. It was enough flavor for me so I doubt I’ll try the fattier, heavy cream version.

    Spread the filling into 1/2 of the split pastries, then pile on your strawberries and top with the other half of the split pastries.

    Optional: Drizzle some melted dark chocolate or some Hershey’s syrup & sprinkle with some powdered sugar. This is easy and makes it look fancy but I’m not sure it adds much to the taste.

    That’s it!

    Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate up to 4 hours.

    NOTE: I’ve been pre-preparing the pudding mix and baking only 1/3 of the pastry since it’s just me or sometimes me & Christian. To make the full recipe is a dang lot of dessert. I save the rest of the pudding mix in a sealed container & make a warm pastry with fresh fruit whenever to mood strikes. Like now. When I typed this. YUMMMM. My keyboard is sticky now!

    For easier slicing, refrigerate the Napoleons for a least 1 hour and use a wet serrated knife.

    If you want the Pepperidge Farm version which includes icing made of confectioners’ sugar & stacking into two layers, check it out here. I tried the layers and it looked like a 2-yr-old snuck in before the party and tried a sampling of each and every piece. A huge mess. As for the icing, I’ve made it. It adds nothing to the flavor, IMO. Maybe I’m not good at making icing, but it’s not worth the calories or sugar for me. So I left it off of my ingredient’s list up top.

  • All Blog Entries,  Food & Drink,  Recipes

    Pickled Pepper Relish

    Found this yummy recipe via Oprah. It’s from Megan Johnson, chef at Casellula Cheese & Wine Café in NYC.

    • Relish2 cups Pepperoncini peppers
    • 1 cup cornichon pickles
    • 1 small shallot, chopped
    • 1 tsp. red chili flakes
    • 1 tbsp. crisp white wine
    • Salt and pepper to taste

    Throw all ingredients in a food processor and pulse / grind / chop / whatever till it’s the desired consistency. It has some KICK and was amazing on our burgers. I can’t stop thinking about it, so it’s a good thing I’ve got about a cup & a half left!

     

  • All Blog Entries,  Food & Drink,  Recipes

    Extremely Thin Crust Pizza

    My friend Jenn taught me that a tortilla makes for a great pizza crust. Using a multi-grain wrap makes it an even better choice. Using Pizzeria Uno’s cheap and healthy Mediterranean thin crust pizza as inspiration, I concocted this quick and easy dinner with tomato sauce, baby spinach, feta, Greek olives, and halved grape tomatoes.

    UPDATED:
    So some pals wanted more instruction. Okay, so put on more baby spinach than you think necessary…even more than you see below. It shrinks dramatically when cooked.

    Yes, you can add onions and capers or anything else your heart desires. The cook time doesn’t really change.

    I baked mine at 425 degrees for about 25 – 30 minutes. I wanted the tortilla crispy and the toppings hot. I ate it once after only about 15 minutes because I was starving & in a hurry. The tortilla was still very flexible so I was able to make it into a wrap. It was okay, but I prefer the crispy tortilla.

    You can’t really go wrong unless you burn it which won’t happen if you’re paying attention. Set a timer if you’re prone to zoning out.

    20130210-180432.jpg

  • All Blog Entries,  Food & Drink,  Recipes

    Mexican Pasta Salad Recipe

    Christian’s not into most vegetables, so I was looking for a side dish and found this one for Mexican Pasta Salad. We’re fans of anything with jalapeños, lime juice and cilantro so we gave it a shot and loved it. We ate it with grilled pork chops and a green salad covered in our homemade Ginger Carrot Dressing. Delicious! The next day we added some grilled chicken to the leftover pasta which made for a filling lunch.

    Ingredients 
    One box of spiral pasta (I use whole grain pasta)
    2 cups frozen corn (or 2 ears of corn on cob)
    2 jalapenos seeded and diced
    2 scallions chopped
    2 limes juiced
    olive oil (to coat pasta)
    1/4 cup Cilantro, chopped
    1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
    salt and pepper to taste

    Instructions
    — Boil the pasta per directions on the box, drain and drizzle olive oil over the cooked pasta so it doesn’t stick together.

    –While the pasta is boiling, roast the corn, jalapenos and scallion in a pan on medium heat with a tablespoon oil. Stir and cook until corn is golden. You’ll need a lid, because the corn pops! Fun!

    — Add to large bowl: pasta, corn, jalapenos, scallions, beans, cilantro and juice of limes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

    *Next time I’m going to add some halved grape cherry tomatoes and an extra jalapeño.

     

  • All Blog Entries,  Food & Drink

    Virtual Recipe Box

    Some of you may have noticed I blogged a lot of recipes on over the last week. This isn’t a sign that I’m aiming to be a food blogger or Susie Homemaker. I’m just trying to compile our favorite recipes into one easy-to-access place. We’ve bookmarked, emailed, and searched for recipes but then when we want to make them again we have to check five places, or can’t remember how we modified it or are in the grocery store with only our cell phones.

    For easy recall, I’ve created a virtual recipe box to bookmark: http://kambricrews.com/category/food-drink/recipes

    More to come, like the Mexican pasta salad we made as a side dish for last night’s dinner and had as leftover for lunch today. Muy delicioso!

  • All Blog Entries,  Food & Drink,  Recipes

    Quinoa & Black Bean Salad Recipe

    Quinoa SaladServed hot or cold, this vegetarian salad is packed with protein and flavor:

    Ingredients:
    1 teaspoon vegetable oil
    1 onion, chopped
    3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
    3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
    1 1/2 cups chicken (or vegetable) broth
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    salt and pepper to taste
    1 cup frozen corn kernels (optional…I’ve done with, with celery instead and without altogether)
    2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
    1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

    Directions:
    Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic, and saute until lightly browned.

    Mix quinoa into the saucepan and cover with chicken broth. Season with cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes.

    Stir frozen corn into the saucepan, and continue to simmer about 5 minutes until heated through. Mix in the black beans and cilantro.

    Chow down on its own or as a side dish. Yummmmmmy!

  • All Blog Entries,  Food & Drink,  Recipes

    A Chicken & Dumpling Recipe So Easy…

    How easy it?

    So easy even your 5-year-old could do it. For the busiest of bees or if you want to introduce cooking to your young ‘en or anyone with a fear of cooking, this is the recipe. It’s foolproof, easier than pie and mmm, mmm good!

    IMG_0420

    You just need a crockpot and the following ingredients:

    1.5 lbs boneless/skinless chicken breast (is there any other kind?)
    2 cans Cream of Chicken Soup (no water, just the regular condensed soup)
    1 can chicken broth
    2 cups frozen carrots/peas*
    1 onion diced
    2 tablespoons of butter
    1 can of Pillsbury biscuits

    Place the chicken, butter, soup, broth and onion in a slow cooker. Cover, and cook for 5 to 6 hours on Low. Then, about 90 minutes before serving, place the torn biscuit dough in the slow cooker. I dunk them and then about 45 minutes into cooking the dough, I dunk and stir them again. So, total cook time about 6.5 to 7.5 hours. If you don’t want to wait that long then, I’d cook it for about 3.5 hours on high then another hour or so for the dough.

    Serve in a bowl on a cold winter’s day and let this stick-to-your-ribs meal warm you from the inside out!

    *Optional, but definitely don’t bother with celery. I didn’t think it added to the flavor or texture and only watered down the meal.

  • All Blog Entries,  Food & Drink,  Recipes

    Ginger Carrot Dressing Recipe

    For lunch today, I finally worked up the nerve to try out my food processor that I bought specifically to make Ginger Carrot Dressing. It was delicious and easy. Honestly, if I had known cooking was so easy, I may have tried it years ago.

    I used this recipe found on Epicurious.com:

    • 1/2 lb carrots (3 medium), coarsely chopped
    • 1/4 cup chopped peeled fresh ginger
    • 1/4 cup chopped shallots
    • 1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
    • 1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
    • 1/8 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
    • 1/4 cup water

    Pulse carrots in a food processor until finely ground (almost puréed). Add chopped ginger, chopped shallots, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and salt and pulse until ginger and shallots are minced. With motor running, add vegetable oil in a slow stream. (I have never done this. I don’t even know that I can because my machine’s safety function requires the lid to be on and locked.)

    Add 1/4 cup water and blend until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Thin dressing with additional water if desired.

    Makes about 2 cups that will last up to about two weeks in the fridge.

    UPDATE: I’ve made this twice since this original post. Christian thinks it could use a little more “kick” or “tang”. Vinegar perhaps? I’ll tinker with it. That said, we’re in our 40s and our tastebuds have been burnt off to worthless nubs. The recipe is perfect as-is, he’s just looking for a boost. Perhaps we’ve had a bit too much in too short a time and he’s growing bored. Is this a reflection of our marriage? Should I seek counseling or just add more vinegar? Hmmm.

  • All Blog Entries,  Food & Drink,  Recipes

    Chicken Pot Pie Filling

    I made some yummy and easy chicken pot pies using my Chicago Metallic Pie Mold. For pie crust, I got a box of Jiffy & followed the instructions. I rolled out the dough and using the plastic mold, I cut out four sections to fill the pan wells and four for the tops.

    For the filling, here’s the recipe I used/tweaked. Note that this made enough filling for about 7 to 8 pies. So, next time I make it, I’ll probably cut the portions in half.

    Ingredients: 
    1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast cubed
    2 cups frozen carrots and green peas
    1/2 cup sliced celery
    1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
    3 springs thyme
    1/3 cup flour
    1/3 cup butter
    1/3 cup onion, chopped
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon black pepper
    1 3/4 cups chicken broth
    2/3 cup milk

    Instructions:

    Pre-heat oven to 425.

    Add chicken, carrots, peas & celery in a pot & fill with enough water to cover. Boil for 15 minutes, drain & set aside.

    In a separate saucepan, cook onions in butter until translucent. Add in flour, salt, pepper, garlic and thyme. Carefully stir in chicken broth and milk. Let mix simmer on med-low heat until thick. Remove from heat.

    Pour the chicken mix into pan wells then top with the hot, creamy mixture. Cover with top pie crust and seal edges.

    Bake for 25-30 minutes until filling is bubbly and tops are golden brown. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

  • All Blog Entries,  Food & Drink,  Recipes

    Panera Egg Souffle Knock Off


    For two years in a row, Christian (new comedy special debuts 4.15.14!) and I haven’t swapped gifts in the traditional sense. But last year he did get me a rolling pin and this year the Chicago Metallic Pie Mold I’d been dreaming of. (Update: that pie mold is no longer sold, but here’s a link to a set of 4 individual pans.)

    If you’d told the 20-something-year-old me I would’ve wanted these as gifts, I would’ve beaten you with said rolling pin and made a nice meat pie out of your innards to bake in my new pan. Lo! How times have changed.

    In a recent post, I talked of my latest obsession is how to recreate Panera Bread’s yummy egg soufflés while at our cabin, since there is no Panera within a hundred miles or so.

    I found a few knock-off recipes online and pulled the basic common elements and made my own. I’ve made ham & asiago, goat cheese & spinach, sausage and cheddar, and cheese blends with and without onions & jalapeños. They were all amazing!  Since Christian doesn’t like eggs, I made a few with just sausage, onion and cheese for a hearty meat pie.

    Ingredients
    1 8-ounce tube Pillsbury Crescent Roll Dough (I suppose you could make your own dough. Go for it!)
    7 eggs, 1 reserved*
    4 tbsp of half & half (or  2 tbsp heavy cream & 2 tbsp of milk or half & half…really just 4 tbsp of whatever milk/cream concoction you want or have on hand.)
    3/4 cup of shredded cheese (any flavor / mix of flavors you like)
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup of diced ham, sausage, or bacon or whatever meat or veggies** your little heart desires.

    UPDATE: I’ve used Pepperidge Farm’s puff pastry sheets for dough and like it much more. A little lighter & flakier and uses less dough for each pie.

    Directions
    — Preheat oven to 375F.  or 400F if you’re using puff pastry

    — Unroll the crescent dough but do not separate the pairs of triangles. Instead, pinch along the perforated seam so the 2 triangles become a square of dough. So you’ll wind up with four (4) squares. Roll out each square of dough a couple of times to make a 6″ x 6″-ish square. (For puff pastry, 1/3 of a sheet rolled out & cut in half makes two pies.)

    — I spray the pan with non-stick spray and put one square of dough in each compartment.

    — Mix 6 eggs, milk, and heavy cream in a microwavable bowl. Egg yolks should be completely broken and mixed in. Add shredded cheese and salt and mix again.

    Filling the dough

    — Microwave the egg mixture in 30 second increments on high, stirring after each increment until you have a sort of solid, slightly runny scrambled egg mixture. (About 4 times-ish in a 1,000-watt microwave.)

    Basically you’re cooking the eggs just enough so the dough at the bottom will cook, and the dough at the sides and top won’t fall in.

    — Stir in your meat or veggies. For veggies, I sauté them a bit before adding.

    Ready to bake!

    — Fill each pie with your mix.

    — Fold dough over the egg mixture.

    * Optional – Break and whisk the remaining egg and brush over dough before popping it into the oven. This makes the dough brown to shiny, golden color. Pretty and makes it look “done”, but totally not necessary. So if you wanna save an egg and aren’t trying to impress anyone, feel free to skip this. I’ve included photos of what the difference looks like below.

    — Bake for about 20 minutes (15 for puff pastry) and then it’s bon appetit time!

    **I made a spinach and goat cheese soufflé and added both ingredients after the microwave process.

    Pictured from L to R:
    Puff pastry after baking with no egg wash,
    Crescent rolls with egg wash (egg soufflés in top pans and chicken pot pies in lower ones),
    Christian enjoys his sausage, onion and cheese concoction, and
    A cross section of his meat pie. Heh.

    Puff Pastry   

  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life,  Food & Drink,  Rock House

    Happiness Is…

    During Spring 2011, our first at the Rock House, I worried to Christian:

    “I think something’s wrong with me. I find myself staring into the woods for long spells. I’m not even thinking of anything…just staring at birds, squirrels, trees, leaves, nothing. For hours.”

    “You know what that’s called?” He asked.

    I stared blankly at him.

    “Happiness.”

    Rock House in Winter

    Hmph. Interesting.

    I guess I would draw the old “Happiness Is…” naked cartoon characters here in this photo.

    For multiple reasons, we usually travel over the Christmas holiday. In fact, we had just returned from an amazing trip to Peru when we signed the papers on January 4th, 2011, to purchase our little cabin in the woods. But for our first Christmas as homeowners, we wanted to spend it in no other place. We got a tree, made sugar cookies from scratch, and played tons of Scrabble and Monopoly. It was perfectly peaceful and simple.

    The year 2012 proved to be exhausting –in a good way– for both of us. Between my book tour and Christian’s TV and stand up work, we found ourselves traveling more than staying home. So, again, we wanted nothing more than a couple of weeks in the woods at our Rock House. We were so lazy, we didn’t even put up a tree (we did hang fresh pine garland, stockings and some twinkle lights) or swap gifts.

    Instead, we bought this mini pie pan (two egg soufflés and two chicken pot pies I baked are pictured at left) and stocked up on a bunch of new games like Mystery Rummy (Jack the Ripper), BlokusMr. Jack in New YorkCarcassonneMexican Train dominoesLost Cities and new jigsaw puzzles.

    Are we humbugs? Not really. It’s just that every morning waking up in the Rock House –no matter what the season– is like Christmas morning. There is a feeling of lightness here. The freedom to do nothing. I don’t have to be anywhere. I don’t want to be anywhere. This is it.

    Since we’d no place to go, I sang, “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!”

    Three was the magic number it seems. I enjoyed three snowfalls for 12+ inches of snow, three jigsaw puzzles, three seasons of Cheers, season three of “The Wire”, and three books (The Other Wes Moore, Hands of My Father, Just Kids).

    Over a week of being disconnected (I didn’t post a thing on Facebook, didn’t read the news & contemplated closing my Twitter account) and not being able to come up with a single goal for 2013, I finally updated my status to say, “Stick a fork in me.”

    I’m done. I have nothing to look forward to, to work towards, to want or need. Will this feeling change? Probably. But until then, I’m left to wonder how and why I tried so hard at anything.

    So perhaps the cartoon should read:

    “Happiness is…

    a terrible thing for ambition.”

  • All Blog Entries,  Food & Drink,  Travel

    Happy Madison

    Beefeaters and company. Not a euphemism. Holy mother of god, you guys. I need to buy a pair of stretchy XXL pants and move to Madison, Wisconsin already. Every meal is a gastronomical orgasm! I even ate a pickled turkey gizzard, y’all! It look like the wrinkly vagina from a cadaver, but I’ve eaten tripe so figured this couldn’t taste much worse. It wasn’t. It tasted like dark meat. Who knew?
    [Picture at right: Beefeaters and company. Not a euphemism.]

    My first day in town began with breakfast (cheese & sausage quiche & Wisconsin Amber from Capital Brewery) at Marigold Kitchen. Afterward I took my shuttle driver’s advice to use the Wisconsin State Capitol as a shortcut to get to my destination, the Wisconsin Veterans Museum. I breezed in and wandered the halls.  “Huh,” I thought. “Haven’t they heard of terrorism and mass murderers? Where’s my full body cavity search? I demand to be delayed and felt up by a stranger! Someone touch me in the name of security!”

    Governor Scott Walker

    As I meandered aimlessly, I heard a voice echoing but couldn’t make out the words in the cacophonous stone and marble building. It sounded like someone giving a speech, so I followed the disembodied voice’s direction until I found the source. A man in full marine dress blues was speaking in the rotunda to an audience filled with others in military dress uniforms. I did what anyone should do: I acted like I was invited, grabbed a program and took a seat. As it happens, it was a ceremony in honor of Veterans Day and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was the keynote speaker.

    It’s not often one finds themselves inches away from a state leader, and stranger still that never once did I go through any security checkpoint. Given how hated the Governor of Wisconsin is in Madison (and the whole state?), I found this doubly surprising. I guess with all the soldiers around us, he was purportedly safe.

    The governor gave a thoughtful speech in honor of the Wisconsin veterans that have served this country. “163,” he noted. “The number of Wisconsin men and women who paid the ultimate price in service of their country since 9/11/01.” We had a moment of silence, which made me start crying. If you’re not choking back a lump in your throat during any moment of silence I have to wonder how silent are you being, really? Shut out everything and think –truly think– about what the men and women before us have done to give us the liberty and justice we have come to expect. Like I said: Lump in throat.

    I watched as First Sergeant Timothy LaSage was honored and Larry Stanczyk was awarded a Purple Heart for injuries sustained during the Vietnam War on July 11, 1969. Then as the crowd dispersed, I took photos, shook the Governor’s hand (his real hand! What if I were a spy?! Don’t spies go to Wisconsin? How about UNION spies?!) and left for my original destination: the Veteran’s Museum. How apropos.

    After the museum, I enjoyed a pint of Hopalicious by Ale Asylum at  The Coopers Tavern where I flirted with my bartender, a Jeffrey Dahmer doppelgänger. I always thought Dahmer was kinda cute, but I guess no guy would take it as a compliment so I kept that part to myself. After settling the tab, I visited the Wisconsin Historical Museum. It was okay. I was a little tired at this point and museums start to be a bit of a drag when you’re by yourself. Sharing a learning experience is part of the fun. I was surprised at just how many inventions and pop culture things got their start in Wisconsin. That’s all I took away from that. Oh, and there’s a huge section on Native American stuff which is in every museum ever so I kind of skimmed that and now I have more White Guilt than before.

    After that, I shopped along State Street where I stocked up on postcards and nerdy writing/journaling stuff (!) at Anthology (bummed I was missing their free workshop the next day where they planned to make these fun travel/adventure folder thingies. Yes, that’s exactly what they called them.) & dark chocolate covered cherries & salted caramel (!!) at Kilwins. I finished my jam-packed day with an organic burger (!!!) at Graze where I met Christian Finnegan‘s buddy from his NYU days. More amazing farm-to-table culinary delights, friendly people, affordable prices and lovely experience had me trying to figure out how to move to Madison without ruining Christian’s career.

    Then, as I waited for my hotel shuttle, I saw this sidewalk sign (see left) for a jeweler and thought, “Gross, Madison. You almost had me but this is really gross.” I wish I’d had my Sharpie with me, dagnabbit.

    The next day was not as packed since I had to perform that night as part of the Wisconsin Book Festival. It started out with breakfast at The Old Fashioned. I’d heard they were good for fried cheese curds and more than one person said they’d de-friend me if I didn’t try them while in Madison. I ordered ham and eggs with a side of fried curds and a bloody mary to start. There was so much food in my drink, I wasn’t sure I’d have room to eat much else.

    But then my plate arrived, and I vowed to get fat in the name of GOD and AMERICA. Wow, wow, wow! I was only three bites into my meal when I decided that I would eat here again before I left for NYC which meant within the next 18 hours or forever hold my peace.

    Cheese curd needs to work on its PR/marketing image. Curd sounds repulsive. I eat cottage cheese but “curd” makes me think of discharge from an infection. In reality, fried cheese curd is like miniature mozzarella sticks only made with better, different kinds of cheese. They’re pictured on the lower portion of my plate in the photo at right.

    Around this time is when I befriended an ex-Marine (’73-’76) named Peter who was celebrating the Marine’s 237th birthday by drinking a gallon of Beefeaters. He was recovering from prostate cancer, on his way to visit his daughter, bought me a bloody mary and introduced me to turkey gizzard (again, not a euphemism).

    After we parted, I wrote a bunch of postcards and wandered the largest farmer’s market in America where I loaded up on fresh, homemade jerky which was the only thing I could expect to stuff in my suitcase that wouldn’t reek, rot or take up too much room.

    I got to the hotel and posted the above photo of my eggs & ham touching off an Internet storm (okay, a slight breeze) of people warning me that being fat is not good and to change my dieting habits. Ummm… SCUH-ROO YOU! A little tipsy from my two bloody marys I made a video about how you should not be fat because that, apparently, is the worst thing you can be EVER. Here it is:


    Don’t Be Fat!

    I napped, sobered up, showered & dressed for my main event: a 45 minute presentation at the Rotunda Room of the Overture Center. If I may bitch a little (more), I was pretty annoyed at the onset. I got to the venue to meet with tech early per instructions since I was going to have a slideshow. The Overture Center’s cafe was closed even though there were three shows going on, my books weren’t available for sale at the “book store” and they didn’t even have it on the list. ($@#%^*& !!!!!!!!!!???????)

    I was also directed to the wrong floor, so was annoyed, hot and winded after running up and down three flights of stairs when I finally found the Rotunda Room where the tech person wasn’t there. So I said F this and went outside to literally and figuratively cool off. I spotted a bar across the street and downed a glass of Pinot Grigio and headed back to muscle through what I was now expecting to be a huge waste of time.

    Thank whatshisface I was wrong. Tech showed up (I was totally fine to go without the slides, but nice that it worked out), a few minutes before showtime a man from the book selling company showed up with books that they promised to add to the pop-up store for the remainder of the festival, and there was a huge, SRO crowd. The event itself went swimmingly though I do think my being overheated and annoyed affected me. I’d give myself a B-minus.

    The best part for me was meeting Facebook-turned-in-real-life friends Stu Gilkison & his wife Jessica. They graciously treated me to a post-show drink & snacks (again, the food here is crazy good. A simple appetizer of stuffed olives had my eyes rolling in the back of my head.), and even gave me a ride back to my hotel. As we walked to their car, we passed Coopers Tavern where they are regulars. Luckily, the Dahmer doppelgänger was tending bar. They agreed: total twinsies.

    Bonus:  We made a pit stop to view Holiday Fantasy of Lights, a cheesy, drive-through Christmas display. Sure, I suppose it’s a “fantasy” if what you dream of includes five minutes of looking at a Lite Brite. The world needs to legalize marijuana before this can be considered entertainment. Priorities, people!

    If you turn your radio dial to a pre-set AM station, there’s holiday music to accompany your “tour”. The fact that it was only November 11th and Thanksgiving was over two weeks away kind of made the whole thing surreal. Seriously America, it’s okay if you enjoy Thanksgiving first. Everybody just RELAX for a GODDAMNED MINUTE!

    And though I snark, it was fun. A wee bit too much fun, in fact. The next morning I was hurting but happy dreaming of a white Christmas. As I packed, I got weepy (again) at the thought of leaving. (Why can’t I live everywhere and do everything?) I mean, I cried watching a clip from Saturday Night Live as Anne Hathaway & the SNL cast sang a parody of “One Day More”. Seriously.

    Farewell, fair Madison. Till we meet again…
      

      

      

  • All Blog Entries,  Food & Drink,  Random,  Rock House

    “P” is for “Possibilities”

    Since my book tour and promotion is coming to an end, I’ve been a little bored and wondering what I should do next with my life. I’ve been a publicist, producer, paralegal, paraprofessional, promoter…so obviously something that starts with “P”. But I’ve also been a writer, blogger, actress, teller, data entry clerk, vice president of a bank’s commercial collection department and a secretary. Basically, I’m up for anything and keeping myself open to possibilities which, hey, that starts with “P”!

    For a brief moment, I thought, “I should take a cooking class!” Then I remembered I’m not a Meryl Streep character. If anything, I’m more like Diane Keaton in Baby Boom minus the baby. (Hmmm….maybe I should adopt or inherit a kid?! Okay, someone take away the bottle, because clearly I’m drunk for even thinking that.)

    But as the daughter of a carpenter and having dwelled in the woods, I have more intuition and practical skills than Ms. Keaton did in that movie. My only bonehead mistake thus far is flashing an old man my “flower” and not holding one nostril as I attempted a farmer’s sneeze yesterday as I stacked my wood pile. This resulted in a jellyfish like blob that dangled from my nose which I wiped off with the sleeve of a sweatshirt. No worries, it was Christian’s so I was fine with that. (Hey, Christian, you might want to wash it before you throw it on again.)

    Meanwhile, I am enjoying cooking at the cabin. Time in the woods means I must plan and cook meals for myself since takeout isn’t an option and restaurants are pretty far and expensive. Plus, I have a lovely kitchen that I’m getting to know how to use. My crockpot has been a good friend (1 pot for cooking + cleaning = brilliant!) and grilling in nice weather has been equally delightful. But after two years, I’m starting to spread my hot glued Martha Stewart wings and try new recipes.

    My latest obsession is how to recreate Panera Bread’s yummy egg soufflés since there is no Panera within a hundred miles or so. I found a few knock-off recipes online but the problem is how to cook them. So now I’m salivating over this Chicago Metallic Pie Mold. I can make the Panera soufflés, chicken pot pie, individual dessert pies and who knows what else?!

    Add to my Christmas wish list along with a wood stove steamer. It took me three winters to discover that I could add moisture to the air by heating a pot of water on the stove. I threw in a few cinnamon sticks for aroma and now want to make tea with the cinnamon water. I don’t even drink tea but that’s what this place does to me! It makes me open to “P”ossibilities!

  • All Blog Entries,  Food & Drink,  Recipes

    Holy Guacamole!

    I made some out of this world guacamole using a recipe I found online and tweaked a bit. It’s so, so good I wanted you to have it. Hey, why not pair it with my Chicken Tortilla Soup!

    • 3 avocados
    • 1 lime, juiced
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
    • 1/2 medium red onion, diced
    • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced. But I actually use the equivalent of one small Jalapeño pepper from a jar because my hillbilly grocer never has fresh japs.
    • 1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
    • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
    • 1 teaspoon of minced garlic (or one clove if you’re mincing it yourself, which I don’t know why you’d do that!)

    In a large bowl place the peeled, seeded and scooped avocado and lime juice. Toss to coat. Drain, and reserve the lime juice, after all of the avocados have been coated. Using a potato masher add the salt, cumin, and cayenne and mash. Then, fold in the onions, jalapeno, tomatoes, cilantro, and garlic. Add 1 tablespoon of the reserved lime juice. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour and then serve. Enyoy!

     

  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life,  Food & Drink,  Rock House

    Thanksgiving 2012

    Without friends and family, Thanksgiving is just a fancy, fattening dinner with an inhumane amount of cleanup. So I’m thankful to have shared the holiday weekend with Christian and his stepbrother & sister-in-law at our Rock House. As y’all know, I’m not much of a cook but hot damn! I have yet to mess up a turkey. I cooked my fourth one (Ever! In my whole life!) and it was the best one to date. So juicy, so perfectly browned, so delicious! Christian got a fancy electric knife and surgically removed every possible ounce of meat with the precision of a serial killer. (Turn on!) Monopoly, charades, antiquing and a lot of food and drink equaled a sublime time. I hope your Thanksgiving was equally fun and relaxing.
    Billy Ray Cyrus & Kambri on Set
    We returned to NYC today to a full DVR. So the episode of  Are We There Yet? in which I appeared as a featured extra was bumped off the playlist because of 8 million recordings of Too Cute.*  My stepsister in Fort Worth happened to catch it live which is how I discovered it was on in the first place. Hopefully it will re-air some time, because you wouldn’t want to miss me staring into the back of Billy Ray Cyrus‘ perfectly coiffed head, would you? You would? Fine! Oh wait! What’s this? A still photo of the very scene? Lucky you.

    Walking Dead, Survivor, Dexter, 30 Rock & I Love the 1880s (the new History Channel Show that Christian is on) survived the Too Cute massacre so my dance card is full tonight. Especially after you add the eleven — ELEVEN — seasons of Cheers that are streaming on Netflix. I watched Season 1 over the long weekend and laughed out loud and harder than I have at anything in a very long time. I love me a good set-up / punch.

    So, I’ll see you after some zombies attack a pregnant woman, an 80s child star masterminds a coups, and Dexter and his sister do it. Yeah…it. You know, the usual.**

    ~Kambri

    *One guess as to who scheduled that series?

    **Now I know why I’m loving Cheers: It’s simplicity is refreshing.

  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life,  Food & Drink,  Recipes

    Forget Spinach! Try Watergate Salad!

    You’re thinking, “It’s Thanksgiving eve, shops have run out of Twinkies and the eBay price gouging has me down. What’s a girl to do?”

    Or, maybe you’re wondering, “What can I fill my plate with that has the word salad in it but isn’t salad because GROSS? Who wants healthy stuff on Thanksgiving?!”

    Never fear! Watergate Salad is here!

    It’s a salad and a dessert. It’s green but sweet. And it has all the nutrients you’ll miss after suffering from Twinkie Shock Syndrome.

    Hifalutin types probably think any dessert with main ingredients of Cool Whip or Jell-O is low class. And they’d be right. But they’d also be missing out on the glory that is Watergate Salad. It’s so easy to make, I assigned it as a task for Christian nine years ago on our first Thanksgiving. (Read that blog entry here. The fluffy, white-looking stuff on our plate is the salad. In real life, it’s mint green. I’ll add a new photo of mine when I make it in the morning.)

    He didn’t own a bowl back then so, yeah, it was like telling a ring bearer to go count the number of flowers in a church during a wedding to make him feel important and keep him out of the way. (Sorry, Christian. It’s time I told you the truth.)

    Okay, back to the “salad”. Here’s what you need:

    1 8oz crushed pineapple
    1 box instant pistachio pudding
    1 cup miniature marshmallows
    1 cup chopped pecans
    1 9oz cool whip

    Here’s what you do:

    Mix pineapple and pudding mix first then stir in other ingredients. Let it set in the fridge until you’re ready to stuff your face. It gets better with age, so if you have the time make it a day or two in advance. Put down the remote and make it already!

    Bone apatitty!

  • All Blog Entries,  Food & Drink,  NYC

    Home on the Grange

    In my last post, I mentioned the rooftop farm across the street from us. It’s worth mentioning again because it’s so incredibly resourceful. The operation is run by Brooklyn Grange and the Long Island City, Queens  location is its flagship farm. Produce is harvested six floors up on top of the Standard Motor Products building, which houses the namesake American car parts manufacturerJim Henson Studios, and Coffeed, the new restaurant which uses the produce to prepare the items on its menu. The Grange’s produce is also sold at farmer’s markets and pop-ups and to restaurants.

    Check out where to find Brooklyn Grange products here and check out the video below for some wonderful photos of the operation.

     

  • All Blog Entries,  Food & Drink,  Recipes

    Frozen Chocolate Treats

    You guys. Seriously. Try this. Here’s whatcha wanna do:

    Get some fruit. Freeze it. Dunk it in some melted chocolate & coconut oil. Lick off all the chocolate that has “accidentally” dripped everywhere. “Clean” the chocolate covered dish with your index finger. Lick. Repeat.

    Okay, for real, here are the uber-simple instructions:

    — Stick a plate of fruit (sliced if needed like in the case of kiwis, bananas and such) in the freezer for an hour.
    — Melt 1 bar of dark chocolate and a tbsp of coconut oil. (For the dark chocolate bar, use Hershey’s or Cadbury or the like. I’ve tried fancy stuff like Jacques Torres with yucky results. A larger 3.5 oz bar is perfect. Save a square or four to pop in your mouth while working and it’ll still be fine.)
    — Once melted and blended, let it cool to room temperature. (I never have patience for this with fine results. That said, there’s always a surplus of oil at top and chocolate at bottom, so maybe I should wait next time.)
    — Plunk the frozen fruit in the melted mixture using a popsicle stick, toothpick or, in the case of my raspberries, a skewer.

    Because the fruit is frozen & the plate chilled, the chocolate will dry quickly so it’s not even that messy and it’s MMM…MMM….GOOOOOOD!

    Refrigerate or re-freeze the final product. I prefer them chilled in the fridge rather than frozen solid because, ouch, my teeth!

    *For larger servings, keep this ratio: 1 tablespoon coconut oil for every 1/4 cup dark chocolate. Also, if you’re not a coco-nut (heh) use a refined coconut oil. Also, I use sugar free chocolate because sugar is the devil.

    All in all, it’s a quick, easy, affordable, delicious, healthy treat. Basically, you’re gonna want to invite me to your parties so I can treat you to some chocolate covered fruits.

  • All Blog Entries,  Food & Drink,  Recipes

    Easy Chili

    Not wanting to make a trip into town for supplies, I made chili with stuff I had around the cabin. Writing it down for future use as it was super easy and MMM, MMM GOOD!

    * 1 pound of ground beef or turkey
    * 3/4 cup diced red onion
    * 4 heaping tablespoons of Mrs. Renfro’s Green Salsa
    * 2 teaspoons of chili powder
    * 1.5 teaspoons cumin
    * 1 jalapeño diced (I chopped up a heaping tablespoon of canned, sliced ones because I didn’t have a fresh jap.)
    * 1 green bell pepper diced
    * 1 can beans drained (We had a can of red kidney beans which is optional, of course, as is everything else.)
    * 1 & a 1/2 tomatoes (just what I had…mix and match with diced tomatoes and tomato sauce based on what’s in the cupboard.)
    * 22 oz of tomato sauce (I had a 14 oz and 8 oz can in the cupboard so used what I had)
    * 8 oz water (I filled the empty 8 oz can of tomato sauce but didn’t need to.)

    Brown the ground beef in a pan then add to the crockpot with the other ingredients. I actually sautéed the onion & green pepper with the beef because I thought we’d be eating it in about 2 hours. Ended up cooking it on high for about 4 hours.

    Topped it off with shredded cheddar cheese, a dollop of sour cream and some crushed tortilla chips. Delicious and easy and cheap!

  • All Blog Entries,  Food & Drink,  Recipes

    Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe

    Tortilla soupOkay, I found my Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe mentioned in my blog entry that will improve your sex life, make you lose weight & become rich & famous*.

    2 large chicken breasts (1 lb or slightly more)
    1.5 cans of chicken broth
    1 fresh jalapeno sliced or 2 heaping tablespoons of Mrs. Renfro’s** jalapeños
    2 chili peppers diced (I never can find fresh chili peppers in the store so either skip this or throw in a few extra jap slices)
    3/4 cups of diced red onion
    2 extra large tomatoes diced OR two 15 oz cans of diced tomatoes
    2 garlic cloves minced (or 1/4 teaspoon if from a jar)
    2 tablespoons cilantro minced (Dang, I love cilantro. My tablespoons are heaping!)
    1 tablespoon chili powder
    2 teaspoons cumin
    2 teaspoons pepper
    1 teaspoon salt
    2 teaspoons tobasco

    Put chicken in bottom of crock pot and pour in all the other ingredients.

    For super tender chicken that shreds easily, cook on low for 8 hours. If you don’t have the time, cook 4 hours on high.

    Garnish = tortilla chips, sour cream, shredded cheese and sliced avocado.

    Hold on to your wig, otherwise it will be blown back by how yummy this is.

    Kambri
    *Results may vary. If these things don’t happen to you after eating this recipe, then it’s probably your own fault.
    **She’s was a counselor at my high school in TX and Mrs. Renfro’s salsa & jalapeños are delicious! COOL!

  • All Blog Entries,  Food & Drink,  Rock House

    Martha Stewart Crawled Into My Ear & Laid Eggs

    And they hatched into tiny little Martha spiders that have taken over my body. This Crewsfly I’ve meta-morphed into is quite a handy little worker bee.

    Just a few dishes I have made lately include red beans & rice with sausage that could compete in cook-off, meatloaf & mash potatoes that would blow your WIG back, chicken tortilla soup* that tastes like you’re in #$&*! Mexico minus the sun and sand of course, and caramel apples that make your mouth water like a slobbery infant.

    In addition to various home projects like painting and hanging shelves, I’m awaiting my order of supplies to make homemade soap and have a yummy recipe for a brown sugar scrub that I might “accidentally” eat in the shower.
    Are you sitting down? Good, because check it out, I have even taken to sewing.


    We have a kitchen “island” which is actually an antique gas stove that is inoperable and missing a door creating an unsightly, gaping hole. So, I bought a gingham checked shirt at the thrift store for $3 and turned it into a little curtain. Check out the before and after by rolling over the image. If I had a machine & more cloth, I would have done it differently but let’s not get crazy here. You don’t live in a barn because your trailer got repo’d and not have to sew a few things by hand — hemming skirts, patching up holes and trying to make things last or look halfway decent like Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink. I can sew. I just don’t. My hand job is perfectly fine serving both a function & adding a fun little kick to the island.


    Since I don’t have a machine, I just got a little emergency travel sewing kit from the hardware store. It was standard, containing a couple of needles and small spools of thread and that thing. You know the bendy little silver metal thing with the face on it. I stared at it curiously as I have in the past wondering what function it served. My first instinct was to look it up on the internet — which shows you just how long it has been since I last sewed: THE INTERNET DIDN’T EXIST. So I Google “sewing kit silver thing with the face on it” and got this answer.

    It’s a needle threader! All these years I’ve been painstakingly threading needles while the face on the silver thing was staring at me. How had my mother never shown me this when she was teaching me to sew? I guess she was too busy teaching other basic things like don’t steal, take candy from strangers, or tell people she smoked marijuana. There are some lessons I guess parents never get to. But that’s why we have the internet, to answer plaguing questions that your mother didn’t tell you. Like what is a clove of garlic or the silver thing with a face on it and is it normal for women have hair on their nipples?


    *Trust me, you want my recipe. I just need to find the paper I wrote it on so I can transcribe it. So, pray that I do locate it, because, like using a needle threader, it will change your LIFE.
  • All Blog Entries,  Food & Drink,  Rock House

    Things Cooking Chili Taught Me

    I’m at the cabin and cooked my 2nd crock pot dish. This time a chili recipe I got from my cousin Shari’s blog (see yesterday’s “I’m Your Night Plower” entry). A few things I learned in the process:

    (1) I could rake in the big bucks on “Supermarket Sweep”. I picked up everything on my list in order without needing to double back in a store that I’ve never stepped foot in before. Although I’ve never purchased things like cans of chopped tomatoes, cloves of garlic and fresh bay leaves, I instinctively knew where to find them.

    (2) Cloves aren’t just for smoking. The list called for two cloves of garlic. Check. It also called for three whole cloves. Cloves of what? I went in figuring my cousin Shari would know since she has seven children. You don’t keep seven humans alive without knowing such things. Sure enough, along with all the other spices, there was a bottle of whole cloves. Whole cloves are actually pretty small. They look like a really thick, brown, harder pistil of a flower.
    (3) A clove of garlic is just one piece of the entire bulb. So, I put in too much garlic because I thought the bulb of garlic was a clove. I didn’t put THAT much extra in, though, because peeling the pieces of garlic was annoying. And chopping them up made my eyes water and my hands still smell like an old Italian.
    (4) I want a garlic press. That’s something I never imagined me saying. I still want a jigsaw before a garlic press, but still: I want a garlic press so I never have to deal with mincing garlic by hand.
    (5) I follow the rules. The lines were long with people whose carts looked like they were cooking for the Octomom. I had about 25 or more things and they had express lines for 5, 10 and 15 items or less. I just couldn’t bring myself to get in the 15 or less line, even after seeing a guy with much more than I had do it. I simply can’t bear the idea that I’m the “some jerk”when a person with only 15 items gets in line behind me, has to wait and tells their waiting friend or family, “Some jerk got in line with like 30 things in the 15 or less line!” While my dad and I always remark about how much alike we are, this is definitely where we differ. No way would he wait in a regular line behind carts filled to the rim. No. Way.

    Side note: I lost my list which I had written on official White House Situation Room note paper that I snagged during a private tour of, well, the Situation Room in the White House. I like that some hillbilly is going to find my list and think that a real White House employee, with such extraordinary stress and job responsibility, is writing down a chili recipe and shopping list instead of, you know, helping keep America safe.

    Kambri
    Chili in a cabin surrounded by snowcapped woods is just about as Norman Rockwell picture perfect as life can get.

  • All Blog Entries,  Anipals,  Food & Drink,  Rock House

    I’m Your Night Plower

    I woke up today with a mission: get paint, groceries to make my cousin Shari’s chili, and end my day at the cabin painting said cabin and eating said chili. I left the apartment, dragging a ticked off Chihuahua through the snow behind me while carrying 100 pounds of STUFF in a temperature more frigid than Gwyneth Paltrow.

    The alley cats that live in my private car lot shot me concerned looks and slinked away, low backs, shifty eyes. I smelled like danger. I was THAT flummoxed. Car cleared of snow, warmed and loaded, I set off. Never have I tried to find a spot and parallel park after yet another snowstorm (including the 10 years I lived in Ohio), and I’ve only driven a handful of times in ten years. I quickly realized I had a better chance at finding Bin Laden than a place to park near the paint store on Steinway Street. I had left an hour later than I hoped, Paquita was whining, and I just felt FAT all bundled up in winter gear trying to program the GPS and check for blind spots…like I was someone who couldn’t bend over and tie their own shoe. Also, I realized I dumped all my change in a collection jar at home which meant I couldn’t feed the muni-meter.

    “This is NOT cool. NOT cool, Universe! I just wanna RELAX! How do people LIVE in this city! No wonder I’m trying to get out!” I may have even screamed a nonsensical, “AGGHERRERHHHHH!!!”

    Ask and you shall receive!

    A spot miraculously appeared, the new muni-meters take credit cards but as I fished through my wallet a woman gave me her unexpired meter receipt with FORTY-FIVE minutes left on it. I went inside, got my paint and supplies and met zero traffic out of Manhattan. No, you were not slipped a roofie. I did, in fact, type that I had ZERO traffic out of Manhattan. I got to the Shop Rite in Monticello, pulled up my cousin’s blog for the ingredients and found everything I needed in a jiffy. IN and OUT in 30 minutes on a Saturday.

    I get to the cabin and DOH! The driveway wasn’t plowed! I thought we had already made automatic arrangements with our plow dude, but no. There is NO place to park as an alternative and, sure I could stay at a hotel but who wants to blow money on that and have groceries go to waste? A lot of freaking out and frantic phone calls later –The groceries! The dog! Where will I go? What will I do? — I started driving around and saw a truck w/a plow attachment parked in front of a convenience store. I parked,
    went inside and found a dude who looked like he might drive a plow (read: filthy, reflective coat, missing teeth and buying two packs of cigarettes).

    My radar was spot on: it was his plow and it turns out he’s my neighbor. In less than ten minutes, he cleared a place for the Thunder Nugget, and I took down his info and gave him all the cash I had. (Don’t worry, if you know me, I carry little to no cash.) But now I’m worried that he knows I’m in the woods alone. So, while chopping up garlic, I had fantasies of stabbing him in the neck with the butcher knife and splashing him with the simmering crock pot full of chili.

    But for now, I’m here. In the cabin with my Chihuahua, paint and chili. Just when I think I want to stay holed up and write a sequel to the Unibomber’s Manifesto, the path is cleared.

    Kambri
    Just in case: His name is Rich and he lives in a yellow house just up the road from me and I have his cell number programmed in my phone.

  • Christian Finnegan,  Food & Drink,  Rock House

    Domestic Adventures: Le Pot de Crock

    On January 4th, Christian and I bought our first home together: a little one bedroom cottage in Sullivan County, about a two hour drive from NYC. Perched upon two giant boulders on a nearly four acre wooded lot, the “Rock House” is a perfect retreat for us to escape the noise of the city. (View the photo set on Flickr.)

    We have room to roam and a chance to try things we haven’t been able to while in the concrete jungle. One of those things for me is using the kitchen for anything other than popping popcorn in the microwave. After seeing so many friends and family posting on Facebook about crock pots and delicious meals they were eating, I wondered what the big deal is.

    I asked folks about crock pots and received TONS of advice. Apparently all you have to do is throw a bunch of stuff in a pot, let it sit there slow cooking for a while and voila! Wait? That’s it? What’s the catch? THERE IS NO CATCH? How can this BE?!?!

    So other people –nearly everyone I know– love and enjoy crock pots and never told me about this magical machine designed to make meals while barely lifting a finger. What other secrets are they keeping from me? Granted, I use my oven for storage and, if I cook, it involves boxing great George Foreman. But in that case don’t I, more than anyone, need suggestions on kitchen domesticity? Come on, people, help a girl out here.

    I got the pot pictured because it was the only one at Bed, Bath & Beyond and at only $30, figured it was worth a try. Today marks my first attempt at making a meal: a pot roast or boneless chuck or whatever you want to call it.

    To keep my personality balanced, I listened to Metallica’s “Kill ‘Em All” while chopping up the vegetables. I also used a power drill several times today.

    Lest you get too excited, note that I had to look up how much a stalk of celery was. I mean I *know* what a stalk of celery is. When I was at the grocery store I grabbed a bagged bunch of celery and thought I’ll use a stalk for the roast and the rest I can munch on and grabbed some flavored dip / spread thing. But when it came time to looking at the ingredients/directions, I found myself asking “Wait! What IS a stalk of celery?” One stem or is the whole bunch a stalk? So I looked it up. The fact that the answer existed online is of some comfort (hey, other people wondered, too) but it is a reminder to me that like dancing, and drawing, cooking just does not come naturally to me.

    Kambri
    I forgot to look at what time it started cooking, so now I’m just guessing that it has about 5 hours to go. No delicious aromas yet, unless you count the Yankee Candle Sugar Cookie candle that’s burning.

  • All Blog Entries,  Food & Drink,  Recipes

    Pudding Pop!


    Pudding Pop!
    Originally uploaded by kambricrews

    My spontaneous purchase of popsicle makers resulted in this yummy treat. Sugar free chocolate pudding pops made with 1% milk and chopped up chunks of bananas and strawberries = DELICIOUSNESS WITHOUT GUILT!

    -Kambri
    An all AC/DC station for free on iTunes radio? Well, hello, Utopia.

  • All Blog Entries,  Food & Drink,  NYC

    I Just Wanted Coffee. Is That Too Much to Ask?

    This morning I went to my normal Sunday deli, my regular deli being closed on the Seventh Day. Back home, I settled into my leather recliner, newspaper in one hand, homemade Deaf Hope coffee mug filled to the brim in the other. The coffee had more half & half than I would like, but whatever. Then I tasted it. Blech. The cream was sour. So I dumped the coffee and waited an hour and a half for the corner cafe to open up.

    Cafe el Maya is a new little mom and pop operation and serve up delicious tacos and burritos. They’ve been advertising breakfast and I loved the idea of supporting them. I was the only customer so sat down at a big table and requested a cup of coffee with a little half and half. What I got was a bowl of half and half with a splash of coffee. I *wish* I were exaggerating. I was a little embarrassed to ask for it to be fixed — I try not to be a high maintenance customer, especially in a little shop like this, but I am a regular and, well, I was jonesing for java. It took three tries but finally I got a steaming cup of delicious coffee while I waited for my ham, cheese and onion omelette. What came out was a plate of thin, fried egg thing with no ham, no cheese, no onions and two slices of dry white toast. No butter or jam. After the frustrating coffee exchange, I just didn’t have it in me to send it back and *hope* they’d get it right. I was so hungry and in need of coffee that I felt exceptionally angry and helpless that I couldn’t just get a simple, no frills order.

    I finished my coffee, left the plate of food untouched except for the one bite I took to see if maybe there was ham, cheese & onion hidden in the eggs that I just couldn’t see, paid the $5 bill and walked to Panera. At least there, I knew I could get coffee.

    I just missed Panera’s breakfast so wasn’t able to get an egg souffle but no matter, there were tons of other tasty choices. There was plenty of coffee, served however I liked, reasonably priced and served quickly. Panera was packed full of happy looking people, laughing, chatting or using the free WiFi. As much as I hate the homogenization of America and my little area of Astoria, Queens, I was thanking God for this chain restaurant for getting everything right. And it seemed like every other person in Astoria had already figured it out. I suppose that’s why chains exist and take over the quaint towns of the nation, but it makes me sad. I will never give Cafe el Maya another chance except for the 2:00 AM $2 chicken taco. They do get those right. Or do they? It could be that I’m just too drunk to care.

    I’m a sell out. A sated, full, caffeinated sell out.

    Kambri
    Going to Subway for lunch and Applebees for dinner and Regal Cinemas for my entertainment.

  • All Blog Entries,  Food & Drink,  NYC,  PR & Marketing,  Running,  Tex in the City

    Work & Working Out

    The past few weeks I’ve been lax about going the the gym, opting instead for burgers & beer & friends. But today I went and ran a 10K in 68.52 minutes. It felt GREAT! I know it should be a priority for me but when work calls, running is the first thing that gets shoved to the side.

    And work has been running me ragged. One thing I’m excited about is further movement on the “Life’s Tough. Laugh More.” ad campaign I developed three years ago. It’s finally seeing more action than just the sole TV commercial that aired last year. (Click here to watch. I wrote, directed & appeared in it, but wish we had a 30 second spot instead of the 60 sec. spots Time Warner gave us). I was able to get an amazing deal on as at a PRIME location in the NYC subway system (the N/R/W stops at the corner of 49th & 7th Avenue) and in the mall at South Street Seaport. So I got photographer/designer guru Kirill to shoot some spots with  Scott Ramsey (my BFF & Tex in the City partner) and Ophira Eisenberg. I have two more shoots up my sleeve but since we’ll have a FOUR month presence, I have some time to work those out.  Facebook users can check out a few of the behind the scenes shots taken at the shoot here on our Fan Page. I can’t wait to see what hoodlum New Yorkers draw on their faces! HA!

    Then there’s the upcoming Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival for which I am helping publicize. All the famous celeb chefs have sold out their shows, of course, so I’m working to help bring attention to Alicia Silverstone‘s demonstration. She is coming to Comix Oct 10th to showcase recipes from her first cookbook “The Kind Diet.”  Tickets & info here: http://tinyurl.com/nt3kyu
    I’m still plugging away on my book (I’m in the midst of doing an annotated scene list so my editor can wrap his head around the whole thing), we had a road trip to Boston for a wedding, my mom is coming for a visit in October as is an old high school friend and Tex in the City is resuming its First Friday Roundups beginning September 4th. Phew! My head spins. Now you see why it’s so easy to beg off the gym. But man I do feel better, less stressed and happier when I’m at my fittest. I’m not 20 any more so it’s easy for fatigue and bad eating habits to show up on my face and butt.

    Sometimes I wish I could check myself into “rehab” so I’ll take care of myself. There’s got to be a better way!
  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life,  Food & Drink,  Writing

    I’m on Sabbatical!

    Sort of. In my line of work, I can never really be on vacation or MIA. I’ll definitely try to pare down my emailing and what not because I haven’t taken a single vacation since Paris last Christmas. Sigh.

    There is lots to catch up on around the house like selling or donating my big armoire. It’s beautiful but I’ve had it for 8 years and it’s quite bulky by NYC apartment standards. Plus we really need a new TV. Sure, we want a new flat screen, but we actually need one. Our old tube TV is fading. A flat screen would look beautiful against our exposed brick wall that is nearly fully covered by my giant armoire. So, yeah, we’re looking forward to purging.

    I also need to renew my passport, finish writing out the 250 Comix holiday cards, drop of my laptop for repair, transfer some old home videos to DVD and stuff like that that simply haven’t gotten my attention due to the insanity that was 2008. I also went grocery shopping for the first time in about 5 months. I’m a pretty healthy eater by nature, but not when I’m out in restaurants. I definitely like my greasy bar food. I figure if I’m home for the next two weeks, I might as well try to re-calibrate my bad eating habits that have spiraled out of control lately. (This may come as a shock but pints of Ben & Jerry’s NY Super Fudge Chunk at midnight really aren’t necessary.)

    Finally, I’d really like to finish (or come very close to finishing) the first draft of my memoir. I’m one-third of the way through without much concentrated effort. I think if I can spend the next two weeks consistently writing for days in a row, I could bang that sucker out. I truly expect to at least get another one-third on paper. Any more than that would be amazing.

    It’s an awful lot to expect out of two weeks off, especially during the holidays.  But if I can get at least half of what I want done done, it will have been a success. To help me stay on track, I’m keeping a daily diary of everything from what I eat and drink, to how much time I’m writing, watching television (Thankfully Survivor & Dexter have ended. Knock out The Biggest Loser & How I Met Your Mother and we’re in business.), and on the internet.

    Kambri
    If only the cursed internet would break down for a few days. Do I really need to look up the ingredients in lip balm that make it “addictive” or famous comic book villains?  No. But tell that to me when I really am curious about the answers.

  • All Blog Entries,  Food & Drink,  Recipes,  Tex in the City

    First Friday Roundup

    Howdy, y’all! We’re expecting such a big crowd for the First Friday Roundup hosted by Tex in the City that I had to move it up into the main bar! Nice!  From 6:30 – 8:00 we’ll be serving free Sauza Hernitos Pomegranate Margaritas & the famous Rope Burn shot created by Serena Bass (click here or on the photo for the recipe from Serena’s cook book). After 8:00, the Pom margaritas will only be $5!
    Rope Burn Recipe
    There are other cheap drink specials, $4 draft beer, delicious food at a discount and down home hospitality will greet you at the door! We’ll sell raffle tickets for great prizes and the proceeds will go to a Texas theater student in need.

    FRIDAY, OCTOBER 3RD — FIRST FRIDAY ROUNDUP
    6:30 – 9:00
    Comix
    353 W 14th Street
    212.524.2500

    If you haven’t RSVPd, please do so ASAP by emailing me at kc@texinthecity.com

    Kambri

  • All Blog Entries,  Christian Finnegan,  Family & Life,  Food & Drink,  NYC

    Weather & Windfalls

    With only three days left till wedded bliss, things are running smoothly if not a little jam-packed with all of Christian’s CD stuff.

    The weather report looks promising with mid-80 temperatures and sunny skies. I don’t care if it rains on Saturday but I will be sorely disappointed if Sunday is a bust for Coney Island and Christian’s first pitch for the Brooklyn Cyclones for which he is ill prepared. Just where should one practice pitching when one does not own a ball or a glove or a yard? His finger was wrenched last Tuesday, too. It healed almost completely within two days but he’s been treating it with kid gloves hoping to get it back to 100% in time to throw. This could be awe-ful-some.

    I also cashed in an offer from Serednipity 3 that Christian got in his gift bag back when he appeared on Last Call with Carson Daly. It was supposed to give him a free Golden Opulence Sundae. Valued at $1,000, it is the most expensive dessert in the world. Turns out that offer was a Valentine’s Day promotion so the publicist is giving us and two out-of-town wedding guests free lunch instead. That’s even better in my book but don’t tell the publicist that.

    Oh! In other “windfalls” news, you know those news reports about unclaimed funds that are just floating out in the universe that eventually revert to the State? Well, I have some! $1,098 to be more specific. What a nice little surprise. I read and re-read the letter a dozen times sure that it was a scam but it’s not. Who knows what $1,100 will buy? I got a free laptop not long ago, don’t need clothes or books or electronics or anything really. I guess I’ll invest it barring any brilliant ideas on how to blow money I didn’t even know I had.

    Kambri
    Spa treatments? More classes at NYU? A weekend getaway?

  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life,  Food & Drink

    Happy New Year’s Day!

    We had a great dinner at Mexican Radio — a bit overpriced, but “that’s SoHo for you” — then an even better time at a party in a very lovely Midtown apartment. I didn’t have to worry about a hangover, but even at this age, I still always worry about all the stupid things I must have said. The next morning I usually try to rehash all conversations and wonder at which point did things turn awkward and was it my fault. Probably.

    Then I got knocked down and dragged by a cab who refused us service to Astoria. So I worried about that instead.

    Kambri
    Alive, but bruised.

  • All Blog Entries,  Food & Drink,  NYC,  Tex in the City,  Theater

    Weekend Update

    Since I’ve been working on a re-design of my website (as I hinted at during my funk the last two months), I’ve been too busy to write anything interesting. Instead I’ll just bullet point some things:

    (1) The 4: Your Consideration Art Series event was well-attended considering the time of year. We had about the same size crowd as the first one, but this time, everyone who attended received two free tickets to see 42nd Street on January 22nd. Nice. The Belt Theatre is a neat space and the people there are top notch.

    (2) Addicted, Mark Lundholm‘s one man show, was great. Greater still were the free tickets and being able to spread the wealth to all my friends. I’m still in love with the Zipper Theatre. I would love to put on a big show there. One day, one day.

    (3) Somebody should take my credit card away.

    (4) I’m in the midst of another little home improvement project. I am high from staining a drop leaf table and waiting for it to dry before I polyurethane it. Christian is on his way over to help me mount it to the wall before we eat dinner and watch the Survivor finale. It will be so nice to have a table on which to eat. Now I just need some placemats and napkins and a hanging light and . . . see #3 above.

    (5) I was in Williamsburg for Cofounder’s fundraiser and became very annoyed by two grungy little hippie types. They were dancing big and drawing undeserved attention to themselves and they smelled like shit. I wanted to tell them, “You know what? You’re not making a statement, you just stink and look like an asshole.” Everyone else there was great and the music of The Izzys and Dufus was terrific. I would see the former again definitely and the latter if they ditched their smelly, megalomaniac of a keyboardist.

    (6) If you’re ever in the Garmet District or go to Madison Square Garden for anything and need a quiet, quaint little restaurant, I highly recommend Napoli Trattoria. There doesn’t seem to be much info on the web about this little place, so their secret isn’t out. It’s extremely affordable and the service was very attentive without being annoying. Their cuisine is listed as “pizza”, but it has a full italian menu.

    Okay, time to hang up that table.

    Kambri
    Busy, busy beaver.

  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life,  Food & Drink

    Happy Thanksgiving – Part Trois!

    Christian successfully “made” Watergate Salad and brought it over proudly in a borrowed bowl. I immediately took a big bite and found it to be perfectly delicious. “Good,” he said, “because I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to melt down the marshmallows or, you know, smush them…” What a cutie . . . in fact, so cute I smeared it all over him and added turkey and gravy and had myself a big, giant feast before kicking his butt in Monopoly for the umpteenth time. I’m so very thankful!

    Seriously, I can’t think of a more perfect dinner. I’ve never tasted meat that moist and juicy – – and I cooked it. Do you realize how crazy that is?!? Unbelievable. The next day we gnawed on leftovers and it was STILL juicy and moist — THAT’S how good it was. Since you’ll now be taking your meat cooking advice from a pro like me, I’ll give you a meat cooking hint: slow and steady wins the race.

    Kambri
    Eat that, Emeril Whatsyourface.