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Ginger Syrup

April 24, 2012

A hankering for mojitos came upon me suddenly the other day so I raced to the store to whip up some ginger syrup. That’s right, ginger mojitos!

Ginger syrup can be used for all types of cocktails – mint juleps, mojitos, margaritas and so forth. Mix it with a little vodka, soda and a splash of your favorite fruit juice. Make a mocktail by way of sparkling water and ice.

The cool thing about making syrup is that you can use this technique with any sort of flavor/ingredient – rosemary, mint, ginger, lemon, etc. Or, simply make simple syrup with water and sugar.

Get creative, y’all.  Spice up your life.

Ginger Syrup

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Ginger-Syrup-355518

  • 1/4 pound ginger, peeled and thinly sliced (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water

Bring ginger, sugar, and water to a simmer in a small heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved, then gently simmer, uncovered, 30 minutes.

Strain through a sieve and reserve ginger for another use (see cooks’ note, below), then cool to room temperature.

How to Save Money and Calories

March 29, 2012

Raise your hand if you think it should be socially acceptable to inject coffee into your veins and walk around trailing an IV.

Jump in the air sporting croquet whites if you once told a barista your name was Donna Martin just so they would call out “Donna Martin” upon giving you a latte.

Raise two hands while wearing a wedding dress (unshowered) if you wish you had a free, lifetime supply of Starbucks at your beck and call.

Don’t be sad when you realize 99% of America does not have free Starbucks at their beck and call. Never fear! Entertaining by Evie is here!

A few years ago while working for the man, I met a friend and we started Caffeine Club. I am a lifetime member. The weekly coffee indulgence typically fell on a Friday after Thursday HH (Happy Hour). After doing the math of ordering a weekly $4 caramel/pumpkin/gingerbread/vanilla latte, I realized that is roughly $208 per year to be a lifetime member of Caffeine Club. If I live to be 100 (hello, Smucker’s on the Today Show), I will have spent approximately $17,000 in my lifetime. Yes, I subtracted 15 years. If there was coffee in my bottle, we might have another issue.

To my point as we’re not statisticians around these parts nor could we do that math without a calculator, here is a coffee order that will save you a WHOLE dollar and a bounty of calories regardless of how many times you frequent Starbucks. Plus, the best part of all, it tastes just like a latte.

Grande Caramel Coffee

 I will warn you. The barista may give you a funny look followed by “You mean coffee with a shot of caramel?”

To which you reply, “Yes, please” while thinking to yourself “Yes, Captain Obvious, inject it into my veins now” meanwhile tying the top of your arm off to expose said veins to the barista.

Instead, you refrain and you give the barista a smile friendlier than Barney the Dinosaur because the caramel-y goodness is given to you within seconds. You’re a pro now. You’re ordering coffee and they give it to you immediately. No waiting. No WHOLE EXTRA DOLLAR. No remorse over the calories.

Caffeine bliss without wheeling an IV behind you.

Sheer genius.

Happy Thursday, y’all.

Three-Pea Chicken Salad

March 27, 2012
I literally just finished making and devouring this chicken salad and I couldn’t wait to tell you about it! This salad requires exclamation points!
Over-used exclamation points typically make me shudder.
SERIOUSLY! The people at Bon Appetit really know what they are doing! I AM SHOUTING!
And, I never joke about over-used capitalization and exclamation points.
You should make this salad for your next picnic.
Now.
Lay on a blanket in your backyard.
Drink Prosecco.
Suck on some sweet, brilliantly red strawberries.
Make out with your man/woman friend.
Smell the roses.
Eat this chicken salad.
It’s light, lemony, crunchy, healthy and full of rainbows, butterflies and cupcakes. It’s everything you want in a salad sans heavy dressings and calories. It is worthy of punchy punctuation!

Three Pea Chicken Salad 

Adapted from Bon Appetit, April 2012
http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/quick-recipes/2012/04/three-pea-chicken-salad
  • 3 tablespoons minced taragon (I did not use fresh.)
  • 2 large shallots, 1 halved, 1 minced (I would use less; the shallots were over-powering.)
  • 2 garlic cloves, 1 smashed, 1 minced
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken tenderloins
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 pound sugar snap peas, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup snow peas, chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest plus 1 tablespoon (or more) fresh lemon juice
  •  Toasted whole grain bread

Poach the chicken by placing taragon (2 tablespoons), halved shallot, smashed garlic, and chicken in a medium saucepan. Add water to cover by 1 inch and season with salt and pepper. Bring water to a boil; remove pan from heat, cover, and let stand until chicken is just cooked through, 15–25 minutes, depending on size of chicken breasts. Transfer chicken to a plate and let cool. Shred or dice chicken.

Meanwhile, whisk yogurt, oil, minced shallot, and minced garlic in a small bowl. Season dressing with salt and pepper.

Combine all peas in a medium bowl. BA suggests to string and slither the peas. I didn’t have time patience for that so I just chopped the peas except the frozen English peas.

Add chicken, dressing, minced tarragon, chives, lemon zest, and 1 Tbsp. lemon juice; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and additional lemon juice, if desired. The shallots are a bit over-powering so just add more lemon if needed.

Serve spooned over toasted bread and/or lettuce.

Things to Do in Steamboat Springs

March 23, 2012

Steamboat Springs is a hop, skip and a jump from Charlotte, NC. Hop on a Delta flight to Atlanta. Skip over to Hayden, CO after downing a free beverage thanks to a pleasant flight attendant. Jump on a $50 shuttle (round trip) to The Lodge. While you’re there, do the following:

1. In lieu of a Christmas tree, dress up a dead deer carcass. They wouldn’t let us haul a Christmas tree on the free shuttle around town so had to make do with what we had. What we had was Bucky and Bucky had us.

2. Rent your skis from Black Tie Ski Rentals . The name is trickery as they don’t actually wear black ties, but they do come to your place of stay to fit you in boots, skis, poles, helmets, knee pads, elbow pads, mouth guards, shin guards, bullet proof vests, etc.

Pretend you're Picabo Street in the condo while wearing helmet, goggles and down coat.

3. Take a lesson at the Steamboat Ski & Snowboard School. Whether you are Lindsay Vonn or DunceSki MacGee, the instructors will give you the confidence you need to tackle that black diamond bunny slope.

Look at her go, boys! She is single.

4. Partake in Après Ski. Nearly every bar offers Happy Hour specials from 4 pm to 7 pm plus live music. After a long day of ripping up the slopes, a cold one goes down like Sade’s smooth operator. We hit up Slopeside Grill, The Truffle Pig and the Gondola Pub & Grill.

5. Go to the Tug Boat. Take the next day off. Stay out late. Wear Santa Hats. Dance with the band.

Pretend you are pirating a tugboat with your sistARGGHH-in-law

"The jolliest bunch of a-holes this side of the nut house." - Clark W Griswold

Yes, we are related.

6. Ski down the mountain with your poles on your head like they are antennas because you are easily entertained.

Watch out for creepers mocking you and thus, ruining a perfectly legitimate Facebook profile photo.

7. Take a picture of your ‘Puter Hub. Accidentally, chop off his head in the photo since you can’t balance on skis and take a photo at the same time.

Try again but watch out for the 1980s snow plower behind you!

8. Ski down Tomahawk. It’s like riding a caterpillar. If caterpillars were big enough to ride. Ski down Vagabond while singing the Metallica lyrics, “Nomad, Vagabond, call me what you will.” Whatever those lyrics mean. Don’t walk up Vagabond in your ski boots because you’re too chicken to go down it. I repeat, do. not. attempt. walking. up. Vagabond. You may wet your ski pants in embarrassment.

Ski down Giggle Gulch while bursting out the most hysterical cackle you can muster out of your lungs. Make sure your lungs hurt from said cackle. Make it loud. Be proud. Let the people stare. Let them wonder, “Is she OK?” It’s Steamboat after all.

What happens at the Boat, stays at the Boat.

Except if you post it on the Internet.

Pancetta Wrapped Pork Tenderloin

March 22, 2012
DSC_0919
Dinner parties are the new color blocking in food. At my age, people don’t typically host dinner parties. We may go over to someone’s house to “grill out” where we drink from red solo cups and eat charred burgers off of paper plates but no one ever sets a table, brings out the fine china, plans a menu and so forth. The ‘Puter Hub and I have been married for almost five years now, and we have used our fine china and crystal a whopping two times. I made excuses. “Well, we will save it when we host Christmas or Thanksgiving for our families one day” or “We don’t have a big enough table” or “Our house isn’t big enough” or “What if the dinner goes up in flames?” or “What if the dinner tastes so awful that my friends have to gnaw off their limbs because I have starved them to the point of no return?”  … I think you get it.
Then, I had an epiphany. Lightening struck. Thunder roared. The clouds broke, and the light shined upon my head. There might not be a “one day.”
What’s the old Thomas Jefferson adage? “Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.” Gosh, that TJ! Such a babe. If I was in college in 1762, we totally would have made out. At a bar.
I have a thing for smart men. See: ‘Puter Hub.
Back to the dinner party. This roasted pork is your perfect staple. Ask each of your friends to contribute a side dish and wine. Provide wine in case someone forgets. Never run out of wine. Make a dessert because you like to bake or purchase a dessert because bakeries are better at baking. Rent a table if needed. Borrow a card table. Don a cazh outfit to make your guests feel more relaxed. Talk about the fact that there are people who actually make whoopee to horses to make them feel even more relaxed. Set the table. Use the fine china. Break out the crystal. Have a good time. Your friends aren’t going to light you on fire if the dinner tastes horrid. You can always drink your dinner. (See: Thomas Jefferson making out with twenty-something at college bar.)

Ask your friends to take shots out of 1760 cordial glasses. Snap a pic.

Invite their four-legged friends to add a dash of chaos.

Show them pictures of your sister on a boat cross-eyed when all else fails.

Pancetta Wrapped Pork Tenderloin

Adapted from Giada’s Family Dinners
Notes: Giada says to use a pork roast, but I am not sure of the difference between a roast and a tenderloin. The first time I made this, I used two pork tenderloins and tied them together. The second time, I used three, where I tied two and left the other one by its lonesome. Yes, he was a third wheel, but he was OK with it. 
With the pancetta, the first time I had rectangular slices and the second time I had round slices. Each of them worked out just fine. 
  • 8 large garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 (3 1/2 to 4-pound) tied boneless pork tenderloin
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced pancetta
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine

Blend the garlic, rosemary, thyme, and oil in a small food processor, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally, until the garlic is minced.

Sprinkle the pork roast generously with salt and pepper. Arrange the pancetta slices on a work surface, overlapping slightly and forming a rectangle. Spread half of the garlic mixture over 1 side of the pork and between the 2 loins that meet in the center of the tied pork roast. Place the pork, garlic mixture side down, in the center of the pancetta rectangle. Spread the remaining garlic mixture over the remaining pork. Wrap the pancetta slices around the pork. Place the pork in a roasting pan. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Pour 1/2 cup of broth and 1/2 cup of wine into the roasting pan. Add more broth and wine to the pan juices every 20 minutes. Roast the pork until a meat thermometer inserted into the center registers 145 degrees F for medium-rare, about 1 hour. Transfer the pork to a cutting board. Tent with aluminum foil and let stand for 10 minutes. Pour the pan drippings into a glass measuring cup and spoon off any fat that rises to the top.

Using a large sharp carving knife, cut the pork into 1/4-inch-thick slices and serve with the pan juices.

Taco Fiesta for Two

March 20, 2012

What do you get when you combine a pound of ground turkey, celery, orange pepper, chopped onion, two tortillas and two hard taco shells?

A taco face! That’s what you get.

This is how I use ingredients in my fridge so I do not have to take another trip to the trenches of the nether world grocery store. First, I make a taco face with the ingredients while laughing out loud at myself. Then, I take the meat I have in the freezer, add as many vegetables I have on hand, stir in some sort of seasoning and it’s an instant taco fiesta for two, margaritas included. Olé!

Tip: If you’re cooking for just one or two people, you can freeze tortilla shells (soft ones are easier to freeze and defrost) so I almost always have a few tortillas in the freezer. This is not rocket science. This is just a dumb brilliant recipe I concocted so I could avoid a trip to the depths of hell supermarket.

Ok, I will stop with the strikethrough feature. Isn’t it genius though? I can totally say what’s on my mind without having to apologize for it. I’m also easily entertained. I’m the type of person who makes faces out of tortilla shells.

On a separate note, I finally took the plunge and upgraded my WordPress account. It was difficult to actually have to pay money being unemployed and all, but then I received an email from one of my two readers that said, “Love following the blog.”

Thanks for following two readers! You keep me truckin’. You make my cloudy days turn bright. You put the color in my rainbow. You’re the icing on my cupcake. You put the bang in my chitty chitty bang bang.

Ohh, now we’re talking dirty.

Buenos dias, mis amigos.

Tacos

  • 1/2 cup of chopped celery, onion and pepper, each
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning

Heat one tablespoon of olive oil. Add chopped celery, onions and pepper to skillet. Saute for about 5-6 minutes. Add turkey burger. Simmer until chopped and browned, another 8-9 minutes. Add taco seasoning and stir. Serve atop of tortilla and/or taco shells. Top with cheese.

Yes, that’s a margarita in the background. Yes, the highball is supposed to be crooked.

Southwestern Chili

February 28, 2012

Nothing tastes better than a warm bowl of succulent meats and savory vegetables marinated for hours in a tomato broth. Chili was our go-to dish for the debut of our new kitchen back in October. While this gathering was months ago, it is still a bit brisk outside which warrants sharing this big bowl of meaty goodness.

I  tripled the portions to accommodate the number of dinner guests, and like appetizers at a Wagner wedding, the chili expired in a matter of seconds. The crowd went wild. After dousing me with a whole cooler of Gatorade, they hoisted me up on their shoulders chanting “Evie! Evie! Evie!”

The chili was that ah-mazing.

Southwestern Slow Cooker Chili

Adapted from: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/slow-cooker-turkey-chili-10000001924777/ 

  • 1 1/4 pounds lean ground turkey and hot Italian turkey sausage
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 (1.25-oz.) envelope chili seasoning mix
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 (28-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (15-oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (8-oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Toppings: chopped cilantro, Greek yogurt and shredded cheese

Cook first 4 ingredients in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring often, 8 minutes or until turkey crumbles and is no longer pink. Spoon mixture into a 5 1/2-qt. slow cooker; stir in corn and next 6 ingredients until well blended. Cover and cook on LOW 6 hours. Serve with desired toppings.

Wear rain gear in the case that your taste testers douse you in a cooler of Gatorade.

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