Archive for the ‘Ramblings’ Category

Well, Lost is Over.

Monday, May 24th, 2010

I’m pretty happy, actually, with the finale. I enjoyed it, and I thought they wrapped things up pretty well.

My friend Cara (who has her own fashion blog, if you’re so inclined) came over to celebrate The End. We undertook the massive re-watch together last summer and have made watching Lost a weekly event pretty much ever since, so it was only fitting that we finish it together.

She did an awesome job with the Dharma-tizing of our snacks. You can check out her handiwork below.

that's Dharma wine, beers, and sodas, Dharma Initiative tortilla chips with Dharma salsa, guacamole dip, and salsa con queso dip.

She also printed us boarding passes for Oceanic 815, along with all those awesome poster-prints. We couldn’t resist playing the numbers in the lottery. But more about the food.

I contributed some Dharma Initiative-iced cookies, the “Fish Biscuit” goldfish crackers, and “Black & White Rocks” (i.e. chocolate/yogurt covered raisins). And of course, John Locke orange-slice-smile props.

You’d think that was more than enough food for two people, even though it’s mostly snacks, but no. I also made Donkey Wheel Pasta Salad, which is pretty much just this Pepperoni Parmesan Pasta Salad, which you’ve seen before. I used mini wagon wheel noodles to give it that extra Lost-y touch, but otherwise, it was the same.

Then, in honor of Mr. Smoke Monster himself, I made Lil’ Smokey’s in a blanket, with Smokey cheddar cheese. Yum! (Super-Quick Recipe: Cut crescent roll dough pieces into quarters. Wrap each sliver around a Lil’ Smokey and a small slice of cheese. Bake according to the crescent roll package directions. Enjoy!)

So that was our Lost menu. We had a blast celebrating the series, but I’m not going to lie: I’m going to miss it. What in the world am I going to watch all summer?

What’s for dinner?

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

As I’ve mentioned before, we make a point of planning our meals out a week in advance. I thought it might be fun to share what our meals are going to be for the week. I also wanted an excuse to post today so I could say:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO LEAH! (known around here as Test Subject #2)

Anyway, now that that’s out of the way, here’s what we have planned for this week:

  • (Meatless) Monday: Quesadillas with Fajita Veggies (Made with Chihuahua cheese, which makes the best quesadillas!)
  • Tuesday: Beef Posole Stew, from the Weight Watchers “Slow Cook-It!” Cookbook, over Alton Brown’s Baked Brown Rice
  • Wednesday: Apricot-Glazed Chicken, from the Weight Watchers “Now & Later” Cookbook, with Toasted Pine Nut Couscous
  • Thursday: Chicken Cubano Panini, from the Weight Watchers “Now & Later” Cookbook, with a side of Roasted Potatoes. I’m also trying a new healthy carrot cake recipe for Leah’s birthday!
  • Friday: Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta Casserole, seen here. I kind of can’t wait for this one–I’ve only made it the one time, but it was very good.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter Food Preview

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Don’t mind me, I’m just going to geek out for a bit about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a new theme park opening in June at Universal Studios, Orlando. I’m a potter fan, and have been keeping an eye on some of the plans for the park. I’ve often been underwhelmed by the news reports–what was being touted as a whole theme park is really just a world in the existing Islands of Adventure park, and they opted to build Hogwarts over an existing medieval castle ride. It seems like most of the Harry Potter themed attractions are just re-brandings of the existing rides in the area.

That being said, I’ve started to get a bit more excited about the shops and restaurants the more I hear. Universal really does seem to be offering the chance to immerse yourself in the world of Harry Potter, and I think that could be really fun. Especially for kids. I thought it might be kind of fun to take a look at what kinds of foods Universal plans to offer. From the official website:

Three Broomsticks in a rustic tavern where visitors to Hogsmeade can come to share a pint of Butterbeer or pumpkin juice and dine on hearty fare. In this restaurant you can choose from such entries as the “Great Feast Platter,” fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, Cornish pasty, turkey legs & fresh vegetables. Children’s menu items include chicken, macaroni & cheese, fish and chips, and chicken fingers, each served with grapes and applesauce. Dessert choices include apple pie, strawberry and peanut butter ice cream, and chocolate trifle. At the rear of the Three Broomsticks tavern is the Hog’s Head pub. Here the family can enjoy Butterbeer, pumpkin juice, and other beverages while adults sample the pub’s selection of domestic and imported beers, specialty drinks, wine, spirits, and mixed drinks.

Recently, one of my favorite Harry Potter news sites, The Leaky Cauldron, posted a review of the food that’s going to be available at the Harry Potter themed restaurant. You can read the full review here, if you’re interested. I was excited to hear about a few things being done right.

  1. The Butterbeer recipes were tested by J.K. Rowling herself, and she chose the version that will be sold at the parks.
  2. Everything seems crazy-faithful to the books. The strawberry and peanut butter ice cream is taken from a tiny cameo appearance in book 2. That’s how much thought they’ve put into it. From the reviews at The Leaky Cauldron, it sounds like everything is lifted straight from the books, which is awesome.
  3. Pumpkin juice will be bottled and sold (not Butterbeer, though. Boo!).
  4. The food’s at the THREE BROOMSTICKS, duh. That’s cool.
  5. So is the Hog’s Head pub in the back.

It sounds like Universal is putting a lot of care into recreating the Harry Potter world. And honestly, I think they can handle the job, having been to Universal Studies and having seen things like the crazy flora surrounding the Jurassic Park area. Wikipedia says the attraction covers six acres of land and contains 353 palm trees of eleven species, 300 bamboo plants of six varieties, and 7,441 shrubs, plants, and flowers of seventy six species. I don’t know about all those plants, but I know that it FEELS like you’ve just been dumped into Jurassic Park. The food is just one small piece of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but if they put this much care into just the concessions, I think it really bodes well for the whole area.

And as Melissa of the Leaky Cauldron pointed out: “Just think…we haven’t even been to Honeydukes yet.”

P.S. Melissa Anelli of the Leaky Cauldron wrote an awesome book about Harry Potter fans called “Harry: A History.” If you’re interested in Harry Potter, or even just the story of how the crazed fan-base grew online, you should check it out. If you like Harry Potter AND are a part of some online HP community, you pretty much don’t have a choice. Get the book.

Meatless Mondays?

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

We are not vegetarians around here. If you’re a regular reader, you know that I don’t even like most vegetables that much.

Despite that, I’ve been intrigued by the idea of including a day of meatless meals in our weekly menu. Even a slight reduction int he amount of meat you eat is supposed to make a difference in the average American’s health, and will make a positive impact on the environment as well. There’s a whole “Meatless Monday,” movement going on (you can read more at www.meatlessmonday.com).

In his book In Defense of Food, Michael Pollen advised America to  “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” He has since cited Meatless Monday as a way to reach this goal. In April 2009 Pollan expressed the need for Americans to reduce meat consumption during an interview on The Oprah Winfrey Show: “even one meatless day a week—a Meatless Monday, which is what we do in our household—if everybody in America did that, that would be the equivalent of taking 20 million mid-size sedans off the road.”

That’s all well and good, but I grew up in America, and for me (and my husband) a dinner plate has a piece of meat, a side dish, and [hopefully] a vegetable. We’ve been eating healthier for about 6 months now, and have been doing well at it, but our menus do tend to follow that format. We’re on board with the Meatless Monday concept, for sure, but I’m having trouble coming up with meatless meals for picky eaters.

Here’s why:

1) We don’t like meat substitutes. No tofu, no boca burgers. They’re not good, and may not be good for you.

2) We’re not huge vegetable eaters, and the veggies we do like don’t tend to be liked by both of us. I like mushrooms, but not David. He’ll eat peppers all day long, but I pick around them. Etc.

3) We’re still trying to eat healthy here! I’m following Weight Watchers, and most of the satisfying meatless things I can think of are swimming in butter, cheese, and cream. Fettuccine Alfredo, anyone?

So I feel a little stuck. Anyone have ideas for substantial, tasty meatless menus? A couple of carnivores could use your help.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 25th, 2009

No real post today, just Christmas wishes to you and yours. Merry Christmas!

Make a Whisk is One Year Old!

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

Believe it or not, I’ve been doing this for a whole year. Make A Whisk recently celebrated its one year anniversary. Or birthday. Or blogiversary. Whatever you want to call it–last December, snowed into my apartment, I decided to pull the trigger on this blog idea I had. My husband had done the behind the scenes work, and my co-workers had contributed a name. All I needed was some content. I headed to the kitchen to bake Christmas cookies, started taking pictures, and I was off!

For the longest time, I posted nearly every day. I haven’t been posing as often lately, but I’d like to get back into the daily posts now that work has slowed down some. I’ve got a whole slew of recipes I’m ready to share. In the meantime, though, here are some of my favorite posts from the past year. If you haven’t tried some of these recipes, you absolutely should. They’re fantastic.

From December: Coq Au Vin. It felt fancy to make, and was incredibly delicious. From my favorite cookbook of the past year, the Barefoot Contessa’s Back to Basics.

From January: Cognac Cream Macaroni & Cheese. Mac and Cheese is decadent by design,  but this recipe was extraordinarly rich and creamy. Adapted from the first Top Chef Cookbook. (I hope to get the sequel for Christmas this year!)

From February: For our Valentine’s Day meal, I recreated the dinner that David and I had a Wildfire the night we got engaged. New York Strip Steaks with a Blue Cheese Butter Crust. Yum!

From March: I first tried my hand at a little treat called Cake Pops! They were the first, but not the last.

From April: Fried Macaroni & Cheese. Because Mac & Cheese needs to be portable. And crunchy sea salt is awesome.

From May: Little Debbie Style Oatmeal Cream Pies. For my sister, Liza!

From June: Double-crusted Key Lime Pie. One of David’s all-time favorites.

From July: Pastitso (Greek Lasagna).

From August: Cream Cheese Pound Cake. (So good! Bakerella never lets me down!)

From September: Seasoned Oyster Crackers. Ridiculously easy to make, but tasty, and a reminder of a wonderful party to celebrate Paw-Paw.

From October: Camembert Stuffed Pork Burgers, for a contest in the Red Eye to meet Top Chef Stephanie Izard. Which lead to…

From November: Dinner Party with Stephanie Izard! Great food, great time. And when was the last time YOU watched Top Chef with a Top Chef?

* * *

So all in all, it’s been a great year. I’m excited to still be blogging, have had a lot of good times and good food. I’m looking forward to sharing more pictures, recipes, and stories in the coming year.

What was your favorite Make a Whisk post from the past year?

Happy Birthday to David!

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

I must really love my husband.

Because it is his birthday, and because he bought three of these on Sunday, I’m making his favorite cake ever tonight.

coconuts1

Even for an Alton Brown recipe, this cake is pretty labor intensive. I learned a bit from last time though, and have broken the tasks up over the past few days. Monday night we drained, baked, cracked, peeled, and shredded the coconuts. Last night, I made the coconut milk and coconut cream for the cake, and baked both cakes. Tonight, they’ll be cut into four layers, drenched with coconut water, and I’ll be making the frosting that holds the whole thing together. Stay tuned for pictures and the full recipe. In the meantime, you can check out how Alton does it. It’s a lot of work, but I have to grudgingly admit: it’s kind of worth it. This cake is amazing!

I haven’t made my own coconut extract yet, but due to an unfortunate incident with Leah not knowing that we were saving that measuring cup full of dirty [coconut] water, I have a ton of extra coconut around. I might try to make a batch for next time.

Anyway, assuming that all goes according to plan, I’ll be back here with pictures of the finished product soon. In the meantime, let’s all wish David a happy birthday! :)

Dinner Party at Stephanie Izard’s House

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

As you might remember, a couple of weeks ago, I entered a contest that the RedEye was running called Virtual Kitchen Stadium. The idea was that Stephanie Izard, winner of Top Chef Chicago, would pick three random-ish ingredients, each participant would create a dish, and then she would judge the dishes based on the pictures and recipes. You can read more about my entry here.

I didn’t win. That’s the bad news.

The good news is, Stephanie Izard is so sweet and awesome that she decided to invite everyone who participated in the contest over to her place for a pot-luck dinner party!

me

David and I went last week, and had an awesome time. There was a ton of great food, and lots of fun conversation. We met some very interesting people, in addition to Stephanie herself. We got to try a bunch of new dishes, including, for me, brussels sprouts. (They were good! What is the world coming to?!). After all of the food, and there was LOTS, we all crowded in around Stephanie’s new TV to watch that night’s Top Chef.

It was a little weird, watching Top Chef with an actual Top Chef, but a lot of fun. Stephanie was really nice, friendly, warm, and just plain normal. We had a great time.

If you want to see more pictures, you can check out the RedEye gallery here.

Stephanie also blogged a little bit about the night at her own website/blog, here.

What’s for Dinner?

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

Tonight, we had pecan-crusted chicken and boring from-a-box scalloped potatoes. The chicken was good–I used corn meal instead of bread crumbs, because I forgot that we were out of bread crumbs, but it worked beautifully. I also used this awesome honey mustard that we picked up at Fox & Obel’s the last time we were there.  I’ve had it several times, it’s great as a spread on sandwiches or a dip for pretzels, but it also makes an awesome pecan-crusted chicken.

51355-md

While I made dinner, Leah and I were talking about side dishes. I definitely feel like I’m in a side dish rut. I feel like we never used to eat “from-a-box” sides, and I seem to be relying on them more and more lately.

What are your favorite side dishes?

Virtual Kitchen Stadium with Stephanie Izard, Round 2

Monday, October 19th, 2009

Today’s blog post is already up…over at the Chicago Redeye blog.

I entered a contest to try and incorporate ground pork, camembert cheese, and haricots vert into the tastiest dish. I don’t know if I’ll win, but the dish I made sure was tasty. We ate it two days in a row and it even got David eating green beans! There’s a picture below, but be sure to check out the post on the Redeye blog, and feel free to leave your comments over there. Maybe you can sway Stephanie towards my dish. 😉

VK2 salad burger 2

Check the recipe out here.