Nachos, Eventually

I watch Superbowl for the food. 

Since 1996, I have lived with a man who will watch anything so long as it's A) on TV and B) involves at least one ball. I have endured bonded with him over more rubgy, football, golf, billiards, cricket, futball, bowling, hockey, ping pong, Klootschieten, baseball, basketball, and Tour De France than any woman should ever be asked to. 

I'm not actually with that man today, or any other day anymore, but I'm still "watching" the Superbowl, because it's important. Why it's such a big deal I may never really get, but I appreciate it for what it means to us as, like, Americans or something? I don't know. Maybe it's the closest we can get to shoving gladiators into amphitheaters with lions and tigers and inmates, or maybe it's just because dudes get to be unapologetic dudes for one whole day. Whatever it is, it matters to us, and I support it.

From the kitchen. 

Today, actually, I am supporting it from the bar of a hotel in San Francisco while eating what can only be described as the worst mussels the world has ever known, or ever will know, and chasing them with chocolate everything while a woman who has amazing for 1992 hair screams at the bar TV like she has any clue what's happening on it aside from muscular men in latex and HD.

I actually look forward to making food for Superbowl Sunday every year because it gives me an excuse to hide in the kitchen and not have to watch 10 minutes of action! packed! excitement! crammed into four hours Superbowl is something of an event, and events are special, and special means I get to show people I love them, and I show people I love them with sauté pans, and that explains The State of My Hind Quarters. But this year I don't even get to make my grapes with onion dip because it's their dad's day to have them and I'm on a business trip. 

Not one to be bogged down with pesky details, I got my Superbowl food fix in, just a wee bit early. 

Gratuitous and totally unrelated product plug, simply because it's true aside: That gooey mess of a picture was taken on this damn HTC Windows 8 phone that against all my better judgement and hipster-reason I am coming to love. #Troop8X #HTC8 #shutup

I made those nachos the night my new babysitter was supposed to come over and learn the layout of my house and how to properly feed and water my precious whittle puppay, but she had to reschedule because uterus and so we were left alone, just the four of us, with a tray the size of the Strait of Gibraltar full of that nonsense.

Worse things have happened. 

And the whole entire point of this post was how to make a tray the size of the Strait of Gibraltar full of that nonsense but it takes me a while to get to the point because shut up. Here's the recipe:


  • Brush a few (let's say three) chicken breasts with olive oil, a bit of taco seasoning, and some Emeril's Essence Creole seasoning (or whatever spicy mix you like), bake them until they're just done and chop them up into not-sissy-sized cubes.
  • Take a really big serving tray, like, say, the one you serve your en-tire Christmas dinner on. Smear a whole bunch of heated refried beans onto the tray. 
  • Dump your favorite kind-of-thickish tortilla chips onto the tray, smooching them into the beans so they'll stand up a little bit (don't use those fancy super-thin white chips, they won't hold what's coming next) (for this, I usually use Mission tortilla chips) 
  • Sprinkle your not-sissy-sized chicken chunks all over the chips, making sure most fall in-between the chips.
  • Do the same with a mess-a black beans, rinsed and drained.
  • Pour your favorite chili verde over all of that (or half of that, if you have little kids who will keel you when they see that you've ruined nacho night with *flavour*
  • (If you through a pork butt in a crock pot with some water and big ol green chilis and some seasonings for about 8 hours, you will have your own chili verde. If you don't want to do all of that, Safeway makes a pretty decent chicken green chili which they sell in their fresh soup section near the deli.)
  • Dump all of the cheese on top.
  • Bake until you can't stand it anymore.
  • Eat. All by yourself. After the kids go to bed. No one is judging you.
  • Live long and prosper.

How Stella Got Her Mixing Bowl Back

When I was in 2nd grade, my music teacher took notice of my Fierce Lesbian Fingers ™ and told me that I might be a decent piano player if I took lessons. He started teaching me which keys played which notes, and explained the clefs to me. After a little while, he told me it was probably time to ask my mother to teach me more at home.

I came home from school that day and told my mother that my music teacher said I was born to play piano (which he did) and that he thought I should take lessons. My mother said, "You want to learn to play piano? Here -- play this." She handed me the sheet music for the theme to The Incredible Hulk circa 197something, and opened the piano for me. 

We actually had two pianos in our house for a while, and before you go thinking ooooo-la-laaaa, let me point out that both of them were ancient, out of tune, non-functioning player pianos handed down to us by our congregation, because white people give weird shit to the poor.

One year later, I could play the theme to The Incredible Hulk, and just about anything else I wanted to play. Watching me play piano was cringe-worthy, to be generous. My fingers were in all the wrong positions, I twisted my wrists around like I was playing drunk stripper Twister, but it sounded magnificent. I taught my little brother and sister how to play, too. We's each sit at a piano and play off of each other (add overpriced, under-poured martinis and we would have invented piano bars) (I also invented pore strips around this age) (true story). It was wonderful, and I loved every minute of it. I used it as an escape -- no one bothered me when I played, my mother was kind to me while I was playing, and even forgot herself enough to pass me the errant compliment when i got through a particularly challenging piece. I played almost day, and got, while not Julliard good, pretty damn hood-good. 

And then I moved to Colorado on January 9th, 1992, and never saw my mother, those pianos, or that house again. And I haven't been able to play the piano since. 

I can't explain it, I just lost the ability to do it. It doesn't work. I can barely muddle my way through the first of Dr Bruce Banner's sad, lonely steps into the unknown future before my fingers stutter and trip over themselves and my brain remembers, 'Hey wait. WE AREN'T DOING THIS ANYMORE'.

It's no one's fault; it just happened. And it happened again a whole lot of years later, but this time it was with baking. 

I used to bake a lot. Like, a lot-lot. I've been a hobbyist cook for many years, but one day I just woke up one day and thought, "Hmm, I'd like to make a Yule Log for my in-laws for Christmas." And in three days, and a whole lot of homemade buttercream later, I did. And there was much rejoicing. 

I baked avidly for years, and then one day it just stopped. I kind of stopped cooking, too, but when things got really gong show crazy with Soon-To-Be-Ex's drinking, I just lost the will to bake. It was no one's fault, really, I just didn't want to anymore, and when I tried it flopped, and that made me want to less, and so it goes. 

But I kind of felt the twinge come back this summer, while I was in California for seven weeks working and staying with baby god-daddy & co. I think I started to remember who I was during those weeks I was gone. That's one of the hardest parts of being the enabler in a co-dependent relationship -- we take on so much of the other person's shit that we don't have room for any of our own stuff. This is no one's fault but our own, and it's a hard habit to break. 

Seven weeks a few thousand miles away from one's co-dependent isn't the worst way to start breaking that habit. 

While I was at baby god-daddy's house, his wife and I talked a lot about what she bakes (the baked goods of the Gods, in case you were wondering where to find them) and what I used to bake, and you know, I kind of started getting the itch again. She'd bake cookies and we'd think up fun ideas for ice creams to go with them. We'd eat her favourite cupcakes and we'd talk about what other kinds of buttercreams would go with the cakes. I'd watch her mixing batters and I'd start missing the smell of flour. 

So I came home and started baking again. Turns out, I still gotz it. In fact, I gotz it, plus. These? Are cookies. I made them, and they aren't dead. 

Cookies are my life-long foe. I have never successfully baked a cookie, until now. Now I spend my nights dreaming up new variations on these little masterpieces. My kids are telling their new friends that their mom bakes the best cookies on Earth. I CANNOT BELIEVE THIS IS HAPPENING. I am going to have to order new business cards now, because it seems I am no longer a cookie assassin. 

I don't even know what this means for my future, but I do know that it's probably time to start posting weekly recipes again. It's been, what, years since I did that last? Yeah, we're bringing sexy back. 

Those cookies up there are Oatmeal Coffee cookies on the left, and cherry pistachio cookies in the middle. The cherry pistachio ones still need some tweaking, but I've got the oatmeal toffee ones down to a science. The recipe is based off this one from Hershey's website. Someone in my Houston Al-Anon group gave me that recipe, and I have been messing around with it for a few weeks. Here's how I altered it:

  • Use 1 cup less oats than recommended (so 2 cups total)
  • Use a little less sugar than they call for (so, like, 1 1/2 cups brown sugar - you'll have to find your comfortable sweetness level. I was going for less-sweet entirely)
  • Mix the wet ingredients and refrigerate the mixture overnight, then soften it slightly the next day, and finish the recipe
  • For sure use the coconut, since you're using less oats
  • Add 1/2 nuts. I used slivered almonds that I then chopped a little, so they'd be about the same size as the oats. 
  • Use PLAIN toffee bits, not the chocolate coated ones. They're harder to find. They are also worth it.


You Can't Have Everything...

Where would you put it?

I started a little recipe contest a few weeks ago, and a contest for free flower delivery a few days ago, and today is the day to announce the winners.

First, the recipe contest.  Wowzas, there were a lot of entries. Note to self: Don't start a diet right after you start a recipe contest.  Or do, if you are into torture.  I used that randomizer thing to pick 3 entries and came up with these, and then I made them.  Truth be told, I made lots of others, too, but we JUDGED these:

The meatloaf?  I honestly like the flavor of mine better, but here's the thing:  Mine takes hours. This one took about 5 minutes to prep, 30 to bake, and when I asked my kids over dinner whether they like that one or mine better, they said, "Dude, mom, totally this one."  That kicks ass.

The Burrito Pie?  Couldn't have been a better fit.  Did I ever tell you I can't make casserole?  I have no clue how to make one, no recipes for one, and nothing would fulfill my white picket fence suburban dream like the ability to bust out a nice casserole.  Also, a drug habit.  Bygones.  So I made it, and I ate it even though it has tortillas in it and therefore totally a diet cheat.  And I loved every single bite.

The danish?  Why the hell do you think I'm on a diet now, anyway?  I let 1of3 make it for our Thanksgiving dinner, we just subbed apple pie filling for the cherry since cherry anything is my short ticket to an early grave.  And then we made it again a few days later.  And again the next week.  And I dream about it, I really do.

But, I can only pick one winner, because, well, until I get a fucking job, I really can't run around buying a bunch of strangers presents.  As hard as it was to pick, I had to go with the Burrito Pie*.  I mean, look at it.

It was super easy, crazy freaking delicious, cheap ass all hell to make, and the kicker?  Every. Single. Person. in this house devoured it.  No one didn't like it, no one at all, not even the kid who looks like she's about to kill me.  And that almost never happens around here.

So, Cuz I'm the Mommy, send me your address so I can send you a gift (and maybe a hint as to what sort of kitchen thing you'd like to have), and Lisa and The Real Life Fairy Tale Princess, I have to at least mail you a mixtape or something, so send me yours, too, if you don't mind.

As to the flowers from Flora2000?  Well, you people ALL need lots and lots of flowers.  Except for Tanis; she needs to make her husband give husband lessons.  Here's how it worked: I picked one winner and I randomized one winner.  I wanted to pick Surfer Jay, because his comment made me about pee in my pants.
The most selfless thing I’ve ever done for my mother in law was to get her daughter knocked-up. I mean really knocked-right-up. Selfless indeed. After all, what mother-in-law wouldn’t want to become a grandmother?

Yes, dude, I know what you mean.  Someone did that to me, once, too.  *gigglegiggle*  I wanted to pick Kori, because god knows she could use them right now, but I had to go with Sophie at Inzaburbs.  Because, yeah, her husband is not even as smart as mine.
It’s simple. It’s me who deserves the flowers. Why?  Because (although he is, of course, perfect in every other way) my husband has never bought me flowers. Ever. He did bring me flowers once. He fished them out of the trash can at work because they “still had some life left in them”.

That's totally worse than finding half a worm in your apple.  That's just, uuuuugh.  Buy yourself something nice, honey.  Something not covered in coffee grinds and rotting broccoli.  The radomizer thing picked Hockeyman, who is a JERK who sent me a recipe for Key Lime Pie in the comments of the I'm On A Diet post.  He hates me, and he'd getting flowers.  He'd better send them to his wife.

Thanks to everyone who entered, and really, if you need a recipe for anything, take a look at that link sheet and dig through the comments.  There's some mind-numblingly good stuff in there.

In case you didn't win anything, I offer you this:

That is my daughter's room.  We spent hours the day before sorting through every Barbie shoe, every barrette, and putting 8 bazillion tiny little things in their proper drawers and cubbies.  The next morning, I woke up to that.  This.

See, I lost, too.  Badly.  Apparently, if you have everything, you can just throw it in my kid's room.

*Recipe after the jump.

This is one of those throw-together casseroles that tastes much better than a regular weekday supper should.

Burrito Pie

2 pounds ground beef or turkey (I use half of each so I don’t have to hear The Hubster bitch about it!)
1 onion, chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 2 oz. can black olives, sliced
1 4 oz. can diced green chili peppers
1 10 oz. can Rotel tomatoes with green chiles
1 16 oz. jar taco sauce
2 16 oz. cans refried beans
12 8-inch flour tortillas (I prefer The Hubster’s homemade ones, but White Wings brand has a pretty close replica)
9 ounces shredded Colby/Jack cheese (Um, this is totally an estimate. More is obviously better!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a large skillet over medium heat, saute the ground beef for 5 minutes. Add the onion and garlic, and saute for 5 more minutes. Drain any excess fat. Mix in the olives, green chile peppers, tomatoes with green chile peppers, taco sauce, and refried beans. Stir mixture thoroughly, reduce heat to low, and let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Spread a thin layer of the meat mixture in the bottom of a 4 quart casserole dish. Cover with a layer of tortillas followed by more meat mixture, then a layer of cheese. Repeat tortilla, meat, cheese pattern until all the tortillas are used, topping off with a layer of meat mixture and cheese. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until cheese is slightly brown and bubbly. Yield: 16 servings

Super Saturday Suppers the A Day Late and a Carbohydrate Short Edition

It's not Saturday, and it won't be Saturday all day today, but here I am posting a Super Saturday Supper recipe on top of a Weekly Winners post.  I have an excellent excuse...I re started a diet two weeks ago.

Do you know when you start that low-carb diet, how they tell you to lay off the booze for a while?  Do you know why?  It's not because booze is packed with sugar, it's because proteins do not absorb vodka as well as a bowl of pasta would, and if you decide to sit down with a good movie and a rather large glass full of your favorite cocktail, you probably won't remember much between your third slurp, the bird's eye view of your toilet, and your pillow.

However, being O+, I function much better in life if I drop the carbs.  Too bad I'd rather have mashed potatoes than oxygen.  Sucks to be me, yo.  But when I stepped on the scale two Sundays ago, a year and a half after rocking some very hot size 4 jeans and saw 160?  I decided to break up with Ding Dongs.

So, here I sit, down 10 pounds already, watching JFK on the tv (45 years already?  Dag) trying really hard to will myself out of a wicked hangover, and posting this a day late.  Maybe I should get to that already, huh?

Chicken Parmesan is my mostest favoritest dinner in the whole freaking world.  Not so totally compatible with a low carb diet, though, unless you tweak it a bit.  You dredge chicken breasts pounded thin (or sliced in half through the middle, I'm lazy) in eggs and flour.

Normally, you'd also dredge them through breadcrumbs, but I had to leave out the bread crumbs *sob* so I subbed them with grated parm (just the Kraft stuff), salt and pepper, and extra basil and oregano.

By the way, it's really nice to hide yourself little messages in your kitchen that will totally crack you up when you stumble on them later.

You fry those chicken breasts in a pan with hot olive oil until they are JUST done, no more than that.  After that, you load the chicken breasts into a 9X13 glass pan, pile them up with marinara and cheese (I use that 4 cheese Italian pre-grated blend, also lazy)

and bake them until the cheese is really melted and a little brown on top, maybe 10 minutes?  Since I'm on that stupid diet, I didn't make the pot of pasta I'd usually throw under the chicken before I served it, I just made green beans instead.  And you know what?

It kicked ASS.  See all Lotus' Weekly Winners here, and all the Super Saturday Suppers recipes here.

Rate The Hate the Lazarus Edition

In Canada, we have all the same holidays as in America (except MLK day), but sometimes they're just called something else.  We have Canada Day, you have 4th of July.  We have Victoria Day (wtf?), you have Memorial Day.  We have Christmas AND Boxing Day (woo hoo!) you have Christmas by itself (sucks to be you).  The big difference, though, is Thanksgiving.  Oh, we have it, too, we just have it at a reasonable time.  You have it 5 weeks before Christmas, we have it 2 1/2 months before.

This?  Rocks.  Our Thanksgiving is in 9 days.  See Mr Lady giggle with excitement.  Giggle Mr Lady, giggle.

It's been a while since I've done a Super Saturday Supper post, because I got lazy and boring when school started, that's why.  Back off, hoser.  But I am fully intent on resurrecting it next Saturday to post my annual Full Thanksgiving Menu With Recipes post that only takes me 30 minutes longer to type than the entire fucking menu took to cook.  So I have that going for me, which is nice.

However, a handful of people may recall that I attempted a little holiday recipe contest last October, which Mr The Retropolitan won with his painfully delicious Mexican Chili recipe.  I thought it might be fun to bring that back that back from the dead today, too.  Maybe make it an annual tradition or something.  And maybe I'll actually mail out the prize this time (sorry about that, Retro.  It's wrapped really pretty and still in my closet, though.  I swear I'll mail it; maybe for your birthday?)

So, just like last year, leave in the comments or post on your own blog your favorite holiday recipe.  I'm not looking for fancy, just yummy.  It could be Halloween punch, or an appetizer, or whatever.  My favorite recipe gets eaten and posted on my blog, and I'll go buy you an awesome kitcheny prize that I will probably wait an entire calendar year to mail to you, because I suck.

Feel free to steal this for your sidebar. Just take out the brackets.

[a href="]/2008/10/04/recipe-contest/" target="_blank["> img src="]" border="0" alt="Mr Lady's Holiday Recipe Contest[">/a]

Deadline: American Thanksgiving, whenever the hell that is.

Rules:  The best things come to those who cheat.