Posts filed under ‘Slaved over a hot stove’

Pretty packages

I just made turkey meatloaf with salsa and red bell peppers, and I figured I’d take a moment to write a post while it’s in the oven. The whole apartment smells amazing. Twenty-seven more minutes!

This is what I come home to almost every day.

The cats hear my car when I pull up, and they stand at the door waiting for me like dogs. Of course, many times, I walk in the door and find them lying in the exact same positions I left them in eight hours earlier.

Tomorrow is my mom’s birthday. Happy (early) birthday, Mom!

My parents live about four hours away, so my sister, Alex and I are meeting them tomorrow at a halfway spot for a long lunch. I wrapped her gifts tonight with paper that I hand-stamped. Both gifts are complete surprises, so I hope she likes them. I think she will. I know her style pretty well.

Sunday evening, Alex and I are having some friends over for a small dinner party. The weather has been just beautiful, so we should be able to spend the evening out in the courtyard. I always mean to take pictures at these sorts of gatherings, but once things get going, I completely forget about my camera.


December 7, 2007 at 7:28 pm 2 comments

Barbeque in the courtyard

Alex and I hosted our first dinner party/barbeque for about 20 friends on Saturday evening, and it went off without a hitch.

I was planning on taking all sorts of photos during the party, hoping to post them here. I managed to take a few “before” pictures…

…but once people started showing up, I got so busy with a million other things that my camera got put to the side.  

Everyone seemed to have a good time, and my two biggest fears — rain and not enough food — were quickly quelled. It rained in the afternoon and cleared up in plenty of time for the party, and Alex and I will be eating leftover spinach and Portobello mushroom frittata, turkey meatballs, veggie pasta salad and grilled red potatoes for a week. We don’t mind at all.

Many of our guests brought bottles of wine, which we appreciated very much. It was a lovely evening with great friends, food and conversation, the rain stayed away, and the cats didn’t get out. My only complaint is that I didn’t take enough pictures, and that can’t possibly even count as a real complaint. Who could ask for more?

Thank you to everyone who graced us with your presence on Saturday, and a special thank you to Kristen, Megan, Candice and Peter for helping the evening go so smoothly!

July 30, 2007 at 11:42 am Leave a comment

The world’s tiniest oven (or “You cooked THOSE in THAT?!”)

This is my oven.


I do all my cooking here, from dinner for just me and Alex, to the party we’re hosting for 20 people this upcoming weekend. Sometimes I have to giggle when I look at it and realize just how tiny it is, but the fact is, it gets the job done. Nestled in my tiny kitchen, it doesn’t look so out of place.

Up until a few years ago, I had no interest in cooking. I boiled pasta on my stovetop, heated up frozen pizza in my oven and used the microwave a little too often. Other than that, my kitchen rarely got much use. I ate out a lot.

Then one day, tired and bored of eating sandwiches and microwave meals, I started cooking a little bit here and there. My friend gave me a relatively simple jambalaya recipe, and when it turned out well the first time, I started inviting people over for dinner and making it for them.

Then I found a fantastic turkey burger recipe online, and I realized it wasn’t very hard to chop onions, measure spices, and mix it all together. In fact, it was…well…fun!

Then something truly magical happened. I started to see the art in cooking. The beauty of mixing things together which — on their own — may not seem very special, but when combined in just the right way, create an amazing texture, a delicious flavor, a beautiful color.

It’s almost like quilting. Choosing just the right amount of just the right ingredient (yellow fabric or red? Thyme or parsley?) to create the perfect final product. And what a feeling of pride and accomplishment to spend time creating something that turns out just as you imagined!

I have fallen in love with cooking.

So on that note, here is a delicious recipe for roasted new potatoes that I’ve been making a lot recently. I’m going to alter the recipe slightly so that we can grill them for our party this weekend, but the overall flavor will be the same.

To serve six, you will need…

2 1/4 pounds of new potatoes (quartered)
3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, minced (or 1.5 teaspoons of pre-minced garlic in a jar)
3/4 teaspoons of dried rosemary
3/4 teaspoons of dried thyme
3/4 teaspoons of salt
1/4 teaspoons of pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a plastic bag or a bowl with a lid, and shake to coat. Spray a 9″x13″ pan with cooking spray and pour potato mixture into the pan in a single layer. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until potatoes are tender and slightly browned.

I suggest stirring the potatoes with a wooden spoon or spatula after they’ve been in the oven for about 15 minutes so that they cook evenly and don’t stick to the pan. 

The potatoes turn out just a little crispy on the outside, and tender on the inside. They’re quite flavorful without being overwhelmingly seasoned. Enjoy!

July 25, 2007 at 10:49 am Leave a comment

Baked tilapia with coconut breading

For dinner tonight, I made a recipe that can be used with just about every mild fish. I made it with tilapia this evening, but I’ve also had success with whiting and salmon.

You will need:

1 pound of mild fish (skin removed)
3/4 cup of sweetened coconut flakes
3/4 cup of plain breadcrumbs
2 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine coconut flakes and breadcrumbs in a bowl.


Dip each fillet first in the beaten eggs, and next in the coconut mixture. Place on greased (I prefer to use cooking spray) baking dish or cookie sheet, and sprinkle the extra coconut mixture over the fillets. Flavor with salt and pepper to taste.


Cook for 10 to 15 minutes in a 350-degree oven. Keep in mind that cooking times will change depending on what type of fish you use.

The coconut breading will crisp up just a little bit, with the coconut adding a subtle sweetness to the fish. It’s a simple recipe, but it’s quite delicious.


July 18, 2007 at 8:15 pm 1 comment

A cup of tea on a rainy evening

As long as I don’t have to drive in it, I love the rain.


A rainy evening calls for a hot cup of tea, some candles, and a kitty or two nearby. So after driving through a big storm on my way home from work, I’m now safely home, kitty in lap, and I’ve poured myself some tea. But what makes me even happier than the tea itself is the beautiful cup and saucer that it’s served in.

About two months before my last birthday, I dragged Alex to one of my favorite antique shops where I found a set of vintage hand-painted Red Wing dinnerware. The pattern, called Lute Song, was produced in the late 1950s. I mentioned to Alex that I thought the dinnerware was beautiful, and then we left, and I forgot about it.


But he didn’t. He surprised me with the entire set — eight plates, eights cups and saucers, a serving dish and bowl, a sugar bowl, and a creamer — on my 30th birthday. I’m a lucky girl! Even though we use them regularly, I still get excited every time I eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich off one of the hand-painted plates, or pour some coffee into a cup.

I love thinking that someone bought this set brand new in 1958. Maybe a husband even bought it for his wife as a birthday gift. Perhaps a family used the dinnerware for years and years until the kids moved out of the house and the set ended up packed away in the attic. The plates, the sugar bowl, the cups have a story, even though I may never know what it is.

July 16, 2007 at 7:10 pm Leave a comment

If mud and rust had a love child, it would be called Rustoleum

I know you’ve been perched tensely at the edge of your seat awaiting an update on the metal patio chairs, so….today is your lucky day! Official patio chair update!

Today, Alex sanded off all the excess paint and rust from the chairs, and we took them to the alleyway to spray them with Rustoleum, which is a muddy rust-colored primer. Damn, that stuff is ugly. I almost feel like we took a step back aesthetically, although I know it’s a completely necessary part of a project like this.

Here’s a picture to remind you of what they originally looked like:

And here is a photo of what they look like now:

This experience has taught me that the only thing uglier than a white rusty chair with ripped, faded cushions is a cushionless chair that I’ve intentionally painted to look exactly like mud, if mud was capable of rusting. But these are works in progress, and I can’t wait to see what they look like after we’ve painted them powder blue.

No, kiwi green.

No, cherry red.

No, sunflower yellow.

As you can see, I haven’t decided yet. And don’t even get me started on what fabric I’m going to use to reupholster the cushions. The journey continues!

I’d like to take a moment to thank my sister, Kristen, for inviting us over for a delicious dinner this evening. She made chicken in a creamy cheddar cheese sauce, served on a bed of rice, and the rain cooled the Tampa air off just enough for us to eat outside comfortably. 

We chatted about Roald Dahl novels, fireworks, my upcoming barbecue, the man I think Kristen will marry someday even though she completely disagrees, and Gary Larson’s “The Far Side.” It was a lovely evening.

July 4, 2007 at 10:59 pm 2 comments

Macaroni with Gorgonzola

I’d like to share a recipe that I made for the second time tonight. My sister came over for dinner, and because she does not consider herself to be an adventurous diner, I like to cook meals for her that are slightly different than what she would normally choose for herself.

Tonight, I made macaroni with Gorgonzola, a recipe that I found in Cooking Light magazine a year or so ago. It’s a wonderful combination of bell peppers, Granny Smith apples, pecans and arugula, served warm and topped with a sprinkling of Gorgonzola cheese.

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You’ll notice the ingredients (below) call for two red bell peppers, but I made it with one orange and one yellow pepper instead, since the selection of red at the local market left much to be desired.

Of course, Quinn helped me cook, because who doesn’t need a fur-shedding, opposable-thumb-lacking creature helping her in the kitchen?

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Here’s the recipe. If you ever decide to make it yourself, please let me know how it turns out!

Macaroni with Gorgonzola (originally from Cooking Light magazine)

16 ounces whole wheat pasta
2 cups diced red bell pepper (about 2 medium)
2 cups diced Granny Smith apple (about 2 medium)
6 tablespoons chopped* pecans, toasted (*I prefer them crushed)
2/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream
2 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
4 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1.5 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup (4 ounces) crumbled Gorgonzola cheese

Cook pasta according to directions. Drain. Add bell pepper, apple and toasted pecans. Combine sour cream, mayonnaise, vinegar and salt. Stir until blended. Pour over macaroni mixture, tossing to coat. Stir in arugula, and sprinkle with cheese.

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June 28, 2007 at 2:40 am Leave a comment

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