Monday, October 14, 2013

Happy Halloween!!

This post is so far over due, Halloween is here! This is literally my favorite holiday. Well besides Christmas. But Halloween is so much fun! I actually decorated for the holiday the last day of September. But am now just getting around to showing you some of my decor. 
Every year I throw a Halloween party. Last year was the first in awhile that I didn't only because I was moving back from LA to AZ. My sister was kind enough to pick up the slack for me. 
But this year my holiday party will return with a vengeance! 
Two years ago I decided I wanted to do a witch theme, I had already picked the theme for that years party (dio de los muertos) so the witch theme was sidelined until this this year. I'm pretty excited about it!
I am going to do a pot roast in honor of the with from Hansel and Gretel. Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty will be represented by a curly, green, blue cheese salad. The Evil Queen from Snow White will (of course) be bringing poison apples. There will be a showing from the witch Dr from The Princess and The Pea in the form of garlic lime chili chicken wings (my friends wouldn't eat frog legs). This is just a few of the tasty treats I'm going to whip up! 

Halloween isn't just my favorite holiday, it's my group's as well. Every year we carve pumpkins, visit one of the local farms for their Halloween festival, watch Hocus Pocus, Sleepy Hallow, Scream and order as many apple ciders and pumpkin lattes as we can. One of our longest standing traditions is to go on a Ghost Tour! One year we did a pilgrimage to Flagstaff and walked the streets in dark night, listening to the stories of the city's past. A few times, we've trekked to downtown Phoenix and heard all about the Hotel San Carlos. We've even been back east and walked the deserted streets of colonial Willismburg, straining to hear the infamous footsteps of Lady Anne as she ran from the Governor's party the night she died. We've stayed in haunted hotels, visited graveyards and walked the paths of civil wars battles. 
We are suckers for a good ghost story. 
Ironically, we will won't set foot inside a fake haunted house. Well, besides DisneyLand. 
By far, the best tour we have been on was in Jerome Arizona. 
First of all, the hotel we stayed was so sweet! 
It was my friend's birthday and along with fresh roses from someones garden during the turn down service, they gave us a homemade bunt cake and 2 bottles of champagne (since we were staying there 2 nights). 

Besides the hotel (which was haunted!) our weekend and ghost tour night had all the elements needed to make a truly terrifying adventure! 
Overcast, thunder, lightening. A light drizzle. 
We had dinner at a haunted hotel and made our way down the street to the tour. 
The air had a perfect chill. The sun sinking low behind the banks of dark, full clouds.  
It was as if God himself wanted us to have a fright! 

It was a great night, followed by cake and champagne in our rooms as we toasted our braveness.

This year we are percolating on what exactly will be the treat to tempt out adventuresome holiday spirit! 

Here's to my ragtag group of ghost tour friends! Happy halloween and many pumpkin spice lattes to you! 

Pumpkin Spice Latte

What you need:
Pumpkin Syrup
2 1/2 cups of water
1 tablespoon of ground nutmeg
3 cinnamon sticks or 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/2 inch piece fresh ginger or 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup of sugar
3 tablespoons canned pumpkin

Coffee per serving
4 ounces of espresso
4 ounces of milk (warmed and frothed)
2 to 3 tablespoons pumpkin syrup
whipped cream if desired

What you do:
To make the syrup combine spices and water in a medium sized sauce pan. Bring water to a boil, and then turn down the water with spices to simmer. Allow the spiced water to simmer for 20 minutes. Strain out spices by pouring the water through a coffee filter. You want the seasoned water to be free of the spices. Place water back into the pan and add sugar and pumpkin mix well. Simmer this for another 10 minutes. This will yield about 1 pint of pumpkin spice syrup. Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator.

To make the latte prepare 4 ounces of espresso or strong coffee. In a coffee cup place 2 to 3 tablespoons of pumpkin syrup, then add coffee. Gently pour the frothed milk over the coffee, and gentle stir. If desired top with whipped cream and a dash of ground nutmeg.

Author: CopyKat RecipesRecipe

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Brownies or a Boyfriend?

Code cracked. I am single because having brownies and watching Kill Bill while drinking margaritas at my house with my friends is infinitely more fun than going out. That's true folks, I am spending my Saturday night watching tv and eating brownies....and I have no shame in that. Sitting on the couch in yoga pants, hot brownie with greek fro-yo in one hand and my 3rd margarita in the other, 
I am reminded how much I love Kill Bill!
I mean, its the ultimate breakup movie! Look, I know its a Tarantino film and I know that its gory gory gory, 
but man is it good! I don't know how you handle breakups but I usually watch a movie over and over again when I'm going through one. I assign a film to the breakup. There was the guy I dated that I watched 'ZombieLand' over and over. Then there was 'Someone Like You'. Once I watched 'Hope Floats' over and over. Movies fix everything. They make everything better. The last breakup, I watched 'Sex and the City' over and over again. The tv series, not the movie. My favorite breakup movie of all time though, I will never assign. It's timeless, its classic, it works for everything. 
Kill Bill
Well...and Kill Bill 2. 

Look,art is open to interpretation. This I know. Its a Rorschach test into how we feel. What we see is a reflection of how we feel. In essence we project our thoughts, feelings and desires onto the piece of art we are looking at. So I know that my views might be a little tainted by current feelings. 
The poor bride. She was beaten, she was brutizlized, she was shot in the head, she was left for dead. She was raped in the hospital, she got her ass kicked, she got cut by a samuri sword, she was buried alive. 
Her best friends turned on her. 

And she kept coming. 

She never gave up. 

She kept going after Bill for what he did to her. 
Pure revenge driving her on. 
Uma Thurman is is incredibly beautiful and wonderfully insane with rage. Hence why women love it. 
Men can make us nuts. 
I'm sure as hell not going to go on a rampage, at most I'll cry into my pillow and run harder on the treadmill. 
But I can admire her anger and absolute drive for what she wants. Which just happens to be (well deserved) revenge.  

Look, I could wax poetic about this movie so much.  
This movie is the about your great, psychotic love. Everyone has/had one. The one that makes you crazy, 
You know what I always find amazing? Or funny I guess I could say. 
She finally got Bill. She chased him down through two movies and countless murders and she finally caught him. She walked in on him. And she found what she had been looking for. 
I find it incredibly sad. We try and we try. We hurt and we hurt. 
We act out and we do things to numb the pain. 
We try to make it go away and we try to make it end.
And when we finally get where we though we wanted to be, it was so different from what we had thought it should have been.

In the end. She kills Bill. She uses Pai Mei, the 
"Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique", which you quickly strike five pressure points around the heart with the fingertips, the victim takes five steps, the heart explodes and he/she falls dead. 
She does this to Bill and then he sits and just looks at her. 
Its in that moment when its too late, when Bill and she both know he is going to die that they both realize how far its actually gone. 
I'm sure Bill realized it when he shot her in the head.
At least I hope so but he is sociopathic bastard after all. 

Saturday Night Brownies
What you need:
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips (about 1 cup) or coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate 
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into 8 pieces 
2 large eggs, at room temperature 
1 cup granulated sugar 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
1/4 teaspoon fine salt 
1 cup all-purpose flour

What you do:
Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. 
Line an 8-by-8-inch metal baking pan with aluminum foil. 
Combine the chocolate and butter in a medium saucepan and cook over low heat, 
stirring frequently, until melted and smooth. 
Remove from the heat and let cool slightly, about 5 minutes. 
(Alternatively, melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds.) 
Combine the eggs, sugar, vanilla, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and stir with a rubber spatula until just evenly incorporated. 
Add the chocolate mixture and stir until evenly combined. 
Add the flour and fold in until just incorporated, about 20 strokes (no white streaks should remain). 
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, push it to the edges in an even layer, and smooth the top. 
Bake until a cake tester or skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. 
Remove to a wire rack and let the brownies cool for at least 20 minutes. 
To remove the brownies, grip the excess foil and pull it out of the baking pan. 
Transfer to a cutting board and cut the brownies into 2-inch square

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Chicken Cordon Bleu

It's throwback Thursday! 
Do you know what this means? That you do something from your past. Chicken Cordon Bleu was literally the first thing I learned to cook on my own. I mean besides simple stuff. 
I don't really cook for men.
I know! Shocking right?? 
If I cook for you, its a pretty big deal. Sadly, the few guys I have cooked for haven't realized this. Food is important, cooking is personal. I put a piece of myself in every dish I create. Some men just don't respect that. I've made a fancy dinner only to be canceled on mere hours before he was supposed to come over. I've made dinner for someone who made faces because he doesn't recognized an ingredient. I've cooked for someone who thought that I was a short order cook. I mean really?! It's no wonder I don't cook for guys. You just don't deserve it! Anyhow. This was the first time I cooked for someone and his roommate no less. 
True to what would become classic me cooking for men, it didn't go that well. He didn't even really seem to like what I made. Thank god I'm sort of a pain in the ass and resolved to rarely cook for men. I can count on one hand the number of times I put knife to board and butter to skillet to make food for men.

Shit, at least the chicken is good! This combines all things that I love. Meat and cheese. And bread. All you need is butter and life is good. Actually, the recipe below is simple Chicken Cordon Bleu. Even back then I was kind of fancy. I pounded the chicken out, heated some butter on the stove top and did a lite saute of the chicken on one side. I put all the cheese and ham on the sauteed side and rolled it up, raw side out. As you can see, once you master this little gem, there's a LOT of different ways you can make it! Enjoy!  

Chicken Cordon Bleu
What you need
 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
 1/4 teaspoon salt
 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
 6 slices Swiss cheese
 4 slices cooked ham
 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs

What you do
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). 
Coat a 7x11 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
Pound chicken breasts to 1/4 inch thickness.
Sprinkle each piece of chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. 
Place 1 cheese slice and 1 ham slice on top of each breast. 
Roll up each breast, and secure with a toothpick. 
Place in baking dish, and sprinkle chicken evenly with bread crumbs.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink. 
Remove from oven, and place 1/2 cheese slice on top of each breast. 
Return to oven for 3 to 5 minutes, or until cheese has melted. 
Remove toothpicks, and serve immediately.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Chopped Salad

Ah the single life. 
The hardest part about being now being single is my brain. I think my brain hates me. It likes to make me think of all sorts of crazy stuff. Usually at 2:30 in the morning. All sorts of random stuff too! 
You know what I'm talking about. 
"How much money is in my checking account?"
"When do I need to change my oil?"
"Have I DVR'd that (insert your favorite show)?"
"Did I set my alarm so I can get up in 2 hours and go to the gym before work?" 
"Do I have to go to the gym before work?" 
"OMG! What was that noise? Is that a monster?" 
"Should I just pack it in and buy 18 cats?"

 Ugh! That last one is the WORST! It's like the herpes of thought. Especially at 2am. You know what I'm talking about. Don't pretend like you don't. I love my life, I love my job and I don't mind being single. But at 2am when I think some monster is about to get me, it would nice to roll over and spoon someone. 

At least my dating life provides entertainment to all my friends. Its a series of hilarious dates in which I end the night just sipping the last of my wine and hoping that he will stop talking and just pay for dinner already! I mean nothing against those guys. I've been on a quite a few interesting dates in the last few weeks. They typically end with me thanking my foresight into getting wine before the date to drink once the date is over. This date is no exception. I am telling you this story a little bit out of order. This date actually came AFTER the next recipe that I am going to give you but I've been eating this salad non-stop and I have to share the love with you. My BFF made this salad for her parents then again for herself....and then again for herself. I understand this addiction, its a really good salad! 

I'm pretty careful when I meet a new person. I don't need you to know my last name or where I live. That's like 4th date stuff. You cant be too careful you know! Obviously, I've been watching a lot of 'Dates From Hell' on True Crime Tv. That shit will scare you. Whatever you do, don't watch it before a date. Now chopped salad guy I had actually already been on one date with. It could have been the wine or the fact that he fell all over himself to tell me how pretty I was (hey, I'm simple!) but I had an ok time. Not good enough to want to stay out past my bedtime but still good enough to agree to a second date at his favorite restaurant. I walk into the restaurant and Mr Not Wonderful is sitting at the bar drinking an ice tea. No hating there, it was a week night, I rarely drink vino on weeknights anymore. What can I say? I'm getting my girlish figure back! We navigated to a table where I had a full view of the stone pizza over. Hot, gooey, cheesy gourmet pizza by hot, gooey, cheesy gourmet pizza floated by us. 
My mouth watered. 
Regardless of my ambiguity of my date, I was excited by the thought of pizza. 
I looked at my menu and pondered my choices. 
Only to be stopped by words that chilled me to my bones, 
"Do you trust me?" 
He looked at me like a little bird, eyes blinking, waiting for my response. 
Do I trust him? 
I barely know him! I haven't told him my last name yet for god's sake and he's asking if I trust him?
My mind raced. My manners versus my tastebuds. 
This was a gourmet pizza place after all, surely he has a good order. And while he was far from being over weight, he wasn't going out on the beach in a speedo anytime soon. 
The man had to know how to eat well. 
I nodded and smiled, closed my menu and said 

The waitress came by. I waited with baited breath on what tempting pizza he was going to order for us. He had ,after all, said that the BLT pizza was his favorite. 
"We'll have the chopped salad." 
pause, me thinking there was more to come, this was dinner after all. 
"That's all, thank you."

That's it? A SPLIT chopped salad? 
I mean, I'm happy splitting something but a SALAD? While I had to sit and watch pizza pie after tempting pizza pie float past me on a cloud of garlic infused oil air? After I drove all the was to Scottsdale to meet you after a full day of work?  
This was dating purgatory. 

I don't really remember much after that. He talked, I pretended to listen. He talked more. I looked in vain at the door. 
Finally, the salad arrived. It was small, I had little hope of being satisfied. 
I'm not going to lie to you.....this was hands down the best salad I have ever had. It was so good, I almost licked the plate. In my defense, I was also really hungry. But this salad was GOOD! It's so addicting that you will give up chocolate for it. Ok, maybe not chocolate but it's still really good. It was almost worth being stuck on one of the most boring dates I have ever been on in my life. Seriously, like B-O-R-I-N-G.  
No chemistry at all.
When the check came, I didn't even make a courtesy offer. You ordered salad to split?  You pay the bill bud. And no, when you try to kiss me, you will get a hug.  
And yes, I will stop at Del Taco on the way home for chicken soft tacos. 

Luckily for you, I'm giving you this recipe! You don't have to go on a bad date to eat this nosh! 
And you can eat the whole thing if you want! 
Its honestly satisfying if your not on a date with Mr Salad. 

Seriously, this salad is the easiest thing you will ever make! The resturant version had turkey but I took it out of my version becuase well....sometimes you just have to get rid of the turkey to make something truly worthwhile....
(ohhh, see that? Its a pun! The guy's a turkey! Get it? Get it?) 

I know this doesn't look like much but have a lil' faith? M'kay??

Chopped Salad 
What you need: 
1 package any salami (I like peppered) 
1 package grape tomatoes 
1 package mozzarella cheese 
3 heads romaine lettuce 
4 lemons 
2 TBL Olive Oil (more to taste) 
Greek seasoning, I use Penzeys Greek seasoning. Its divine!! 

What you do:
Juice the lemons 
Add the Olive Oil 
Add Greek seasonings 
Put all of that in an empty water bottle (trust me) 
Shake that thing like you are doing a Richard Simmons video

*Yes, I know I didn't give a measurement. I do the Olive Oil and the seasoning to taste. Usually I use 1 TBL seasoning. 

Chop the hell out of the lettuce and the salami. 
When you cut the salami, stack all the rounds up on each other and cut into strips. 
Cut the tomatoes into halves or fourths depending on your preference 
Toss the lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, and salami 
Dress the salad with as much dressing as you would like. 
Have wine on the side. Wine makes everything better. 

Eat. Become addicted. Your welcome.