Monday, January 31, 2011

Reunited and it feels so good!

You may have noticed a very absent someone on the blog lately. A very absent Christine that is.

I mean, at one point I did consider renaming the blog "The Adventures of Jess and Christine....oh and I ate something."  No worries friends, this friend til the end is still in my life, even if life did get in the way for a little while. Changes in job schedules, fitness goals, living situations and love can do that sometimes, but true friends will always reunite eventually. And just like the song says, it does feel so good.

A few other things that work really well together?

Sweet potatoes and spices (salt, black pepper, garlic and cayenne pepper to be exact.)

Ground chicken and black beans. Roasted green chilies and pepper jack cheese.

If you need a little reunion, in your kitchen or otherwise, follow my lead:

Combine 1lb ground chicken with one drained can of black beans, plus salt, pepper, cumin and chili powder. These burgers were very soft, and I had to sear them in a hot pan before finishing them off on the grill and adding the above mentioned chilies and cheese.

Served with the "sweet potato fries" and Steiner and I's beloved Duchess.

Topped with creamy avocado, tender spring greens and juicy tomato.  I highly recommend this comboniation.

Christine provided dessert, via Fresh Market.

Pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and a ginger sugar cookie. Yet another reunion I support 110%.

Love to all,
the, "I love a good reunion" gal, Jess

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Breakfast of Champions!

No really, it is. A perfect mix of protein, carbs and fats, rights? What was that? Oh, I'm supposed to have more protein than carbohydrates and fats? Oppsie. I just could not resist the siren call of that cupcake. (More details on the lovely pumpkin baby soon!) At least this meal was packing 100% happiness!

Speaking of champions, let's meet a few locals. And I'm guessing these strong, talented women don't eat jumbo cupcakes for breakfast, regardless if the sugar bomb comes with a side of scrambled eggs.
Last night my Mom and I attended the annual Gator Gymnastics "Link to Pink" event. As the UF ladies battled against the UNC Wolfpack and PSU Nittany Lions, all the proceeds from the match went to support women battling breast cancer. A win-win night, especially for the victorious Gators!

This was my favorite beam routine from the night. I am in complete awe.

A few other great shots from the night.

 I took all these images from the nosebleed seats with my point and shoot, so I'm pretty pleased. I really want to take Rosie P, equipped with a zoom lens (my D-SLR) with me next time, but I was unsure of the "press" restrictions at the event.

I can't wait to attend more gymnastics meets and with a mere 4 dollar admission, it's great, affordable night out! I'll flip for that any time!

Love to all,
~the "cupcakes might not the breakfast of champions, but they sure are tasty!" gal, Jess

Monday, January 24, 2011

Soup's Up: Mexican Chicken Style

There is nothing like a bowl of hot soup on a nippy winter night. (who the heck am I kidding? I love soup even when it's 97 degrees outside!) Add some Mexican spices to the brew and I guarantee you a warm and cozy evening.

I basically followed this Cooking Light Mexican-Hominy Soup recipe, but made it my own with a few subs and swaps.  

In my variation: hominy = corn, plus a bunch of green peppers, and some sliced avocado as a topper.

Saute the veggies until tender, then simmer, simmer, simmer with the chicken stock.

This soup was very simply seasoned, just black pepper, but I amped things up with the toppings.

The addition of avocado, radish and fresh squeezed lime juice added a nice brightness to this soup.

In spite of how tasty this turned out, I got tired of the leftovers really quickly (as in before the three meal rule). I just don't think I'm a broth kind of soup gal.  I prefer blended veggie soups that have a thick and creamy, velvet texture or a hearty, chunky chili. Hey, a soup lover has to be honest! 

Love to all,
~the soupaholic, with a Mexican flare, gal, Jess

Saturday, January 22, 2011

And I said....

....what about breakfast at Tiffany's? dinner at Stephannie's?
Oh yes, I think we both kinda liked it know she'll cook how we like it!

Meet Stephanie:
(again....she pops up on the blog every now and then) 
Oh, and Sky, my favorite Chihuahua. 

She is one of my best friends from undergrad and I'm very lucky that she is attending vet school at UF. While we both have crazy, hectic schedules, we always make time for each other, even if it means making plans months in advance or at the last second!

So, I wasn't surprised when she called me on a Sunday night to see if I was free to attend a dinner party at her house early that week. As in Monday-early. See, Steph had just purchased new table settings, plates, and flatware and simply had to use them. ASAP. Count me in!

 Pretty, right?

Monday night 6 lovely ladies (all from vet school, sans me!) snuggled in around a beautifully set table, and ignoring the herd of doggies and kitties keeping our feet warm, to indulge in classic comfort food.

Spaghetti, turkey meatballs, made from scratch sauce and garlic toast. Plus unpictured Cesar salad. Classic, satisfying and perfect for a fun Monday night in!

Plus homemade cookies from the vet gals and a bottle of chocolate red wine, contributed on a whim by yours truly.  The cookies were divine. The wine was.....interesting? Confusing? Very sweet. More like chocolate milk on crack than an after dinner drink in my opinion, but not a bad experiment for 10 bucks!

 One kitty I can't ignore:

Jazzy, the munchkin. This sweet little low rider has legs that are only about 1.5 inches long! Such a cool kitty. And luckily she doesn't mind just rubbing my legs, since any closer and I turn into a snotty, blotchy, sneezing post midnight Cinderella. Love you, L.R!

Thanks again for a great dinner, Steph! Love you, crazy cat (and dog!) lady.

Love to all,
~the "I love impromptu dinner party nights" gal, Jess

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Let's Get Trashed!

I'm really excited to introduce a new "series" on my blog today. As a single gal, who loves to cook, but whose only roommate is a 100lb mutski, I produce far too much food. I have a serious over-cooking problem. I blame it on my Italian/Texan heritage (don't even get me started on the Irish over-drinking issues.)  Regardless of the root of my issues, I don't need more tissues, I need more Tupperware!

Here lies the problem, I can only handle eating a meal a maximum of three times. That giant dog I referenced above? Pretty much the best fed dog in Florida. And I might have the highest grocery bill of any single gal in Florida. I'm not exactly proud of either fact.

In the interest of keeping my dog slim and my wallet fat I present to you my newest brewhaha: Loving the Leftovers.

Remember these pretty babies? Tasty as they were, and were again, and well, I just couldn't look at another roasted zucchini chunk after a week in the fridge.

 No worries. I'll hide it in a pile of romaine....and tomato, and onion and pepper and egg, a dollop of mayo, oh and a fishstick too! Toto, I don't think we are in boring roasted veggie land anymore!

Without any further ado, (or bad movie jokes) I give you to, the infamous Trashcan Salad.

This salad is the perfect way to use up any leftover starches and cooked vegetables in your fridge, so bring on the rice, pasta or any other veggie combo. I have been making Trashcan Salad for years, ever since I was inspired by the Rice Salad by Antonia of Top Chef Season 4. In the Uncle Ben's Instant Rice Quickfire she made a salad of rice, greens and cherry tomatoes, dressed with mayonnaise. Rice and mayo and greens? Amen. Of course Antonia topped her salad with skirt steak....I had fish sticks, it's a wash, ya dig?

I call round one of Leftover Lovin' a serious success with a side of garlic toast!

How do you deal with never ending leftovers?

Love to all,
~the "even leftovers taste good when you are trashed" gal, Jess

Monday, January 17, 2011

Thank You, Hay-soos!

Any nighttime adventure that ends on a quest for amazing, decant and perfect Columbia Burgers is certainly worthy of praise to the Sweet Baby Jesus.

Let's set the scene: After a long but successful day playing 50's housewives at my bestie Jenna's Wedding Shower and then a lovely family dinner we were all ready to change out of our 50's garb.  The two options? PJ's or "going out" clothes. Enter multiple text messages from some friends already stationed at one of our favorite bars and the decision was made.

(Yes, this is a tease...full recap to come soon-ish)

This girl (and the rest of the crew) hustled into jeans, heels, and cute sweaters before hitting up our beloved Winter Park hangout, Wine Room. Fast forward several hours of sipping, swirling and sniffing delicious varieties of wine and laughing with friends, both old and new, over a raunchy round of fuck, chuck or marry and suddenly it was closing time.

Closing time and the car was loaded with hungry, hungry hippos some ravenous guys and gals.  A type of hunger was roaming that would only be satisfied by street cart cuisine. After a 10 minute drive of pure hilarity courtesy of our wonderful friend Panda, we arrived at the corner where Columbia Burger usually dwells only to find an arepa stand instead. oh NO! Another kind patron informed us that C.B. had moved around the corner and soon we were in luck.

There truly aren't words, but I'll try anyways. First off this monster is the "single." Um, yeah. But don't you worry friends, I put away this bad boy loaded with lettuce, tomatoes, pineapple sauce, ketchup, cheese and chips. Yes, good ol' Lay's style potato chips on my burger. I simply eat what I'm served. And what I was served was damn amazing.

Plus a stack of sauces. I think I died and went to heaven, seriously.  The winner of these three is the unassuming middle man. Garlic sauce, the perfect topping. Needless to say the verde sauce (a blend of mildish chilies) and the "pink sauce" (that's literally what it's called, which is just a mix of mayo and ketchup) got ignored after one taste of the garlic. Le sigh [insert appropriate Colombian phrase of happiness here].

Love to all,
~the "I'm ok with the fact that my 2am snack is sometimes the best thing I eat all day and yes, I will praise the Lord over it" gal, Jess

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Pretty Is.... pretty does roasted veggies.

This is my idea of a fashion shoot.


And after 45 minute interlude with the oven, this mix of multicolored baby potatoes and some diced zucchini these veggies still rock my world.

Just like Javier Bardem, somethings only get sexier with "age."

Served with a sweet and spicy mayonnaise (a simple mix of Dukes, sriracha and raspberry jam).

Love to all,
~the, "love me, love my roasted veggies" girl, Jess

 PS. Speaking of out of control vegetables, check out this crazy onion. It's like I have a garden in my produced basket, and it's fantastic!

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Top 5 Reasons Gville Needs a P.F. Chang's, according to The Semi-Abnormal Gal

I know, I know...I don't usually tout the qualities of a chain restaurant, quite the opposite actually.  That being said, I do really enjoy P.F. Chang's for a few reasons (5 actually, if you didn't catch that in the title!) and I'm getting sick of bribing people to go there with me when I'm in Orlando/Tampa/WPB, because honestly, beyond the 5 items I'm about to list, well, it's just Americanized Chinese Food, with a continual 25 minute wait for a table, no matter the location to you go to. (hello run on sentence! Help me grammar Nazis!)

And with that cheerful intro, let's do this thing.

#1 Who doesn't love two giant stone horses welcoming you at the doorway?

#2 While there may be a wait for a table, the bar is usually promising for grabbing an empty seat, and a quick drink. Such as this lovely "Szechwan Mary" complete with a salt and pepper rim. Yum.

#3 The most satisfying won-ton soup I've ever had. Hello mushrooms, spinach and water chestnuts. Oh and did I mention it's served family style? Yes, my friends for the meager price of $5 you can have serving after service of hot, tasty soup. Oh, or just share it, like it was intended...sharing, right, I'm an only child.

#4 Ma Po Tofu. My favorite tofu, hands down....even if it gives me a tummy ache sometimes (I'm discovering I have a slight soy intolerance, which luckily is only annoying at this point). Crispy on the outside, melt in your mouth soft and oozy on the inside (they use silken tofu and fry it!) all tossed up in a spicy sauce and served on a bed of broccoli.  Oh and this massive meal (I get 3 servings out if it), served with brown rice, is only eight bucks! Yes, I can get a dinner, lunch and a 2nd dinner for under 10 dollars. Love it. I need more of this tofu in my life, upset stomach be damned!

#5 I love any restaurant that promises me that all my dreams will come true, in bed. Thank you P.F. Chang's, thank you.

So there you have it folks, the short list, albeit a rather convincing one, of why I need a P.F. Chang's should open locally.

Do you have any "restaurant" needs?

Love to all,
~the "yes, I have specific tofu needs" gal, Jess