Thursday, September 25, 2008

Crispity, Crunchitty...

I bet you thought I was going to say Chocolatey as in the Cocoa Puffs ad. Sorry to disappoint you, but this post is about pizza. We'll talk about Sonny later. I like pizza. There was a time when I loved pizza and couldn't get enough of it. I didn't discriminate either. As I entered my 20s, I became a little more discerning (not to the point of snobbery). I just happened to attain a certain awareness of what constituted a good slice for me. While I used to love the buttery (I know greasy) richness of Pizza Hut's pan pizza, it took away from the sauce which had a good tomato flavor and wasn't too sweet. Domino's had a great crust for their hand tossed pizzas. Their toppings were fresh. The sauce was just so-so. Back in the day in Richmond, we loved the 2 fer deals at Little Caesars. Yeah, I said it. LC had great toppings. If we could have melded the three chains together, we'd have had perfect pizza.

Fifteen years later, my tastes have changed considerably. I don't want a dough so thick that I should have ordered a pretzel. And that's what you get at a lot of places. I think good pizza is about balance. The crust shouldn't be so thick that I need an extra set of dentures to chew threw it nor so thin that is drowns beneath the sauce. My preference is a cracker thin crust that shatters upon that first bite with a spicy, garlicky tomato sauce and a thin layer of cheese. Other toppings are fine, but those three elements are are the benchmark of a good pizza. So far Papa John's has the crust down. They just need to tweak the sauce a little.

What's your pizza prefrence? Have your tastes changed over the years? Or are you surprise of suprises one of those people who doesn't care for pizza at all? Inquiring minds want to know.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

No Dinner Makes AJ An Unhappy Girl!

Yes, it's true. Tonight, there will be no dinner for me. I have a meeting to go to that will destroy any hope of enjoying the gastronomic delights that TY and I might prepare for dinner. Those Asian inspired wings would have been good alongside some green beans sauteed in garlic butter. I can smell it now. No, my pleasures will be put on hold until tomorrow. In the meantime, what is a girl to do? I mean I can't willfully skip a meal. That would make me cranky. That's not a good idea as I am hot enough as it is over this meeting. Should I head over to 7-11 where the hot dogs and other items look like they've been petrifying since 1976? Should I much on saltines and swig Pepsi like I was waiting on the dock for a fish to bite? I think my best plan of action is to eat one of the frozen dinners that's in the freezer at work. That won't make less angry, but it will somewhat fill my tummy. And that's what it's all about.

Does lack of nourishment affect your mood? How? Share, we'll compare notes.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Long Time Coming

A few months ago, I tried a project from Bakerella's website. It was red velvet cake balls. Well, they looked so cute. How could I resist? Every place I looked, people were raving about them. Well, I have pictures of my foray into the world of cake balls. At the top is the before photo, one naked cake ball. At the bottom, is one fudgy cakeball enrobed in white chocolate. Visit Bakerella's site and try it for yourself.

Pay It Forward

I'll be sending a package to Greg, Lan, and Rene. I will be making up my packages this weekend as I have some shopping to do. I hope to do this again so keep checking in. In the meantime, perform your own random act of kindness. You never know who you might bring a smile to.

Prior Planning Prevents Poor Projects

I am not much of a planner. I freely admit that. I am a 'fly by the seat of my pants' kind of girl. I can't help. Something in my DNA prevents me from sticking to the rules. On the other hand, I hate wasting food. And that has happened more times than I'd like to count. In our current economic state I can't afford to throw out meat or vegetables that have gone bad. Okay, I also think it is morally wrong to waste food when there are so many out there starving or barely getting by on fast food and other junk. What does this have to do with planning? I'm getting to that.

TY and I went to Safeway on Sunday where I spent way more than I should have. This led me to think that I really needed to make a menu for the week. We had lots of fruits and veggies that we needed to use. More often than I'd like to admit, they usually rot. So, we came up with the following menu is no particular order.

Beefy Nacho Casserole-slow cooked beef, cheese, tortilla chips (leftover beef for tacos or sandwiches)

Cheese Tortellini w/Italian sausage sauce & steamed veggies

NY Strip Steak w/Mashed Potatoes & Cauliflower Bake

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Asian Style Chicken Wings w/Sauteed Green Beans

I know you usually make a menu then you go to the grocery store. I like this way better. I got to see what they had that looked good or was on sale (steaks were 50% off in the clearance bin). I'm glad we did the menu. We've got a variety. There is something for every taste and we'll have leftovers at least once this week.

Are you a planner? Or do you wait for the last minute? Will you make something special or do you not care as long as it's edible? Take a look at what you have and think about making a menu. You don't have to strictly stick to it. Look at is a preparedness plan. Let me know what you're doing. I may be able to incorporate a thing or two into my life.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Tag-I'm It! Thanks A Lot, Greg!!!

The rule is to answer the questions with the FIRST word or phrase that comes to mind.

1. Cell phone? Whose
2. Your significant other? Yes
3. Your hair? Brown
4. Your mother? Loved
6. Your favorite thing? Sugar (haven't you been reading)
7. Your dream last night? Technicolor
8. Your favorite drink? Macallan
9. Your dream/goal? Comedian
10. The room your in? Office
11. Your hobby? Cooking
12. Your fear? Being buried alive
13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? North Carolina
14. What you're not? Patient
15. Muffins? Hot
16. One of your wish list items? Debt-free
17. Where you grew up? VA
18. The last thing you did? Blog Post
19. What are you wearing? Clothes
20. Favorite gadget? Hyundai
21. Your pets? None
22. Your computer? No
23. Your mood? Restless
24. Missing someone? Parents
25. Your car? Sonata
26. Something you're not wearing? Perfume
27. Favorite store? Whole Foods
28. Like someone? Maybe
29. Your favorite color? Blue
30. When is the last time you laughed? This morning.

My Mailbox Runneth Over

I know what you're wondering what a mailbox has to do with cooking. It's simple. I received two great food related packages in the mail this weekend. One was from Lan over at Angry Asian Creations and the other came from Greg, The Oatmeal Cookie Man. From Lan, I received the cutest package containing a beautiful card w/a handwritten message, handmade soap, a crocheted bookmark, and three types of ramen. I can't wait to try them. The card is going into my scrapbook. I think the bookmark will go in there as well as it is very pretty. I picked up Greg's box this morning. I made myself late for work. Was it worth it? You bet. Inside the package was a container filled to the brim with his Coffee Cake Cookies. These tasty gems are worth making and sharing with your friends. Be careful though these are really good you might find yourself hording them and locking them away for yourself. I will post pictures of these edible and non-edible delights soon.

I received my gift from Lan as she was paying forward someone else's kindness. She asked that I do the same in return. If you're reading this post, I will send out care packages to the first three people who make a comment to this post. I just ask that you pay it forward.

Have you performed any random acts of kindness recently? It could be something as simple as opening a door for someone with a heavy load. What acts of food kindness do you perform? Do you prepare meals for a grieving family or new parents? Are you the neighbor who heads over with fresh muffins or cookies when a new neighbor moves in? If not, give it a try and see if it doesn't brighten someone's day.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Most Important Meal of the Day

From a few of my posts, you'd think that would be lunch. While lunch is an important meal, I like to begin each day with breakfast. It started in childhood and just seems to be one of those habits that I will not break. My mom used to fix TY and I a hot breakfast everyday before taking us to meet the school bus. And with two kids with two different tastes, she made what each of us wanted. I didn't know how good I had it. I always appreciated it, but the significance of it eluded me until recently. She wanted to send us off properly fed and if that meant making oatmeal for her baby girl and scrambled eggs for her big girl then that's what she did. She didn't have time for any tantrums or not feeding us. I'm not going to lie. I like cold cereal and the more sugar the better, but there's something about a hot breakfast made with love to reallly get your day going.

So, now that I'm a working woman, how do I start my day you ask? Is it a drive through getting whatever hockey and grease bomb that's served cheaply? Or a cup of overpriced liquid fruit iced up and full of sugar? Okay, on occasion I do indulge in a greasy biscuit from the Evil Clown or down a power smoothie from one of the many purveyors near campus. For my money and my health though, I go with a breakfast classic, OATMEAL. You can't beat it for cost or nutrition. It is amenable to a variety of add-ins and flavorings. My favorite is to make a banana walnut cookie. I use sliced banana, walnut pieces, brown sugar, and cinnamon. It's simple and delicious.

What kickstarts your day? Or do you function on black coffee? Do you prefer a lumberjack breakfast or something small like yogurt and a piece of fruit? Well, however you start your day, don't forget to share it with me. It might be something new for me to try.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


I think that we have already established that I have a sweet tooth. I'm thinking that I might need a support group for my problem. Hi! My name is AJ and I'm addicted to sugar. And I'm a little picky about my sugar delivery system. I know that sodas, juice drinks, lemonade and limeade are generally sugar laden substances, but this just doesn't cut it. I need something I can sink my teeth into. I like cookies, cakes, candy-bars, drops, pieces as long as it's sweet, brownies and pie. And yes, there's a pecking order. I prefer cake with lots of rich buttercream frosting followed by brownies, cookies then candy bars, pieces, well you get the picture. What's wrong with pie you say? Nothing is wrong with pie. I will definitely eat pie. But I'm even pickier about pie. I like cream pies, meringue pies, chess pies, nut pies, custard pies, but not fruit pies. I generally see fruit as a sweet treat unto itself. Of course, there's that whole texture thing. I like my apples to be crunchy and my pears, too. No cherries or berries should ever go into my pie or be used for cake filling. It's overwhelming. And you make a mess.

There is one fruit that I don't mind having baked in a crust. As I hang my head in shame, this is a simple indulgence that I know you'll tease me about. I Love Fig Newtons! If you get a fresh box, they are irresistible with their double whammy of an ever so moist filling and a not too sweet cookie. Those things are like Lays, you can't eat just one or two or twelve. I mean you open a box and the next thing you know it's empty. I try not to buy them, but that damn CVS had the snack boxes on sale for a buck a piece this week. I had no willpower. I bought two. The first box lasted 18 hours before I couldn't take it anymore and tore into it. Do you think I can make it til the end of the week before box two is only a distant memory?

Do you have a sweet tooth? Is there a dessert or treat that calls your name like a siren luring sailors to crash on the shore? Or are you one of those people who doesn't care for sweets at all? Would love to hear from you!

Monday, September 15, 2008

An Orphan No Longer!

I've been adopted. Yes, I know how old I am. Yes, yes, I had parents. It's not that kind of adoption. Kristen over at Dine and Dish hosted an Adopt-a-Blogger event. Since my blog is less than six months old, I thought it would be great to have a mentor. I know that my blog is basically for me, but on the off chance that my friends or a few strangers slide in here why not make it the best it can be? It can't hurt to have a second or forty-second opinion. Can it?

Anywhoo, I heard from Mrs L. at Pages, Pucks, and Pantry. I look forward to corresponding with her and learning more about the food blogging community. I am sure that she'll be able to teach me a few things. I hope that I can do the same in return.

Will she be Lewis to my Clark? Abbott to Costello? A serious yin to my comical yang? It remains to be seen. Please stay tuned to find out what happens when a woman with a West Coast vibe meets up with a girl loaded with East Coast charm.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

It's All Greek to Me

Or at least I wish it was. I have been hankering for a taste of the Greek life. I love the flavors of the Mediterranean. Lemon, mint, oregano are some of the stars. I love a really fresh olive oil. I've only had a few dishes in my life and I want to try more. However, there don't seem to be many offerings in the DC area. Or none that my acquaintances care to share info on. Help! If you know of any good places, please let a girl know. Also, let me know what I should try. Any offerings of squid, well, let's just say I'm not gonna eat it. Most other things are fair game.

What ethnic food do you have a taste for? What flavors do you like? I mean if I can't travel the world for real at least I can take a spin via food. I'm gonna find me an Armenian pizza one of these days. What's your world cuisine pleasure?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

And Don't It Feel Good!

Okay, so I'm not walking on sunshine. Anyone that grew up in the 80s will get the reference. You might be asking what has me in such a good mood though. I didn't have to cook last night. One of our friends works for Famous Dave's. He sent ribs and chicken w/TJ for our supper. TJ fixed roasted potato wedges to go with. She followed that with fresh baked chocolate chip cookes. Some days it just doesn't get any better than this. Some of my favorite things for dinner and I didn't have to prepare it. Woo-hoo!!!! The fuzzy little monster inside was doing one helluva happy dance.

How do you feel when someone else takes over the kitchen? Are you happy? Sad? Annoyed? Grateful? And what do you like to eat when someone else is cooking? Do you find yourself comparing their style to yours?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

But I'm Hungry Now!

Have you ever had that feeling?? There's nothing done and you're hungry. There's a little dude inside that looks like that Honeycomb monster in the commercials. Well, that's how I feel when I get home most nights. The main problem is I'm the cook. Dinner can't done any faster than I make it. Having said that, you'd think that I'd have a fridge or freezer full of quick meals. I'd have something fast to appease the beastie within. Nope, much to my dismay, I have things that need to be prepared fresh. There's rarely a frozen hot dog or pizza in sight. Generally, there are no chips or anything like that in the house either. MJ and TY are the obvious snack fiends. I am too lazy to go to the trouble of getting the snacks down. What does a hungry girl in my position do then? I eat fruit and/or cheese. Generally, we have one or the other on hand. I also like pepperoni or pickles. One of these days I am just going to prepare an antipasti platter so that I can enjoy a little something when I get home. Who knows, it might wind up as dinner.

What do you do when hunger strikes and you have nothing prepared? Do you have a snack stash? Would you walk to a local eatery? Are you a chip person or will fruit or veggies satisfy your urges? Let me know. I might add it to my aresenal.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Let the Flames Begin!!

Okay, I should have written this on Monday. But I was too busy basking in the glow of a warm fire. Wait, I wasn't basking in the glow. I was standing over a hot grill. And boy, did it feel good! I have been cooking on the grill for about 20 years. My dad made his own grill out of a 55 gallon oil drum in a welding class he took in community college. You should have seen my mom's face when he brought that thing home. We'd never seen anything like it. We were used to those little teeny things that might have held 8 burgers and 4 hot dogs. This thing could easily handle 40 burgers at least. My fondest memory was the weekend he smoked a whole pork shoulder. It took hours. The smell of the meat roasting was intoxicating. The taste was even better. I got to use the grill when my parents moved to this area and I lived back home in southern VA. My friends and I used to plan our own cookouts. Those were some good times.

Living in a condo sure puts a damper on that. So, Monday, DH and I took our food on the road. His mother has a good size back yard and not one, but two grills. Okay, the charcoal one is hers and the gas one belongs to my SIL. I grilled hot dogs (Dietz & Watson) and hamburgers (frozen Bubba burgers), bone-in ribeyes, Italian sausage, asparagus and mushrooms. The food was was awesome. I only wish I would put some chicken on there. Oh well, maybe next time. Since I wasn't in my own kitchen, I wanted to keep things simple. I brought my own seasoning and take home containers (she said I could). I like McCormick's Montreal Steak Seasoning. It's a good all in one blend that is really tasty on beef and veggies. They also have a chicken blend. That's pretty good, too. I'm glad that I got to use my MIL's grill. We had enough leftovers to last the week and there was no arguing over what to have for dinner or anything. Everyone had choices.

Do you like to cook out? Are you a charcoal person or a gas person? What kind of seasoning do you use? Are you a fan of beef or pork? And is chicken just for wimps? What non-meat items find their way onto the grill? Let me know what you like. Maybe I'll try it next time. Yes, there'll be a next time. MJ and I left some charcoal and some beef behind.