Monday, November 28, 2011


Ravings: The problem with long weekends, or any kind of vacation, is that it tends to suck the motivation completely out of me. The motivation to do my actual job that is. I’m totally motivated to go home and cook something or even do something crafty. I’ve secretly been plotting a total rearrangement of my kitchen, although I’m pretty sure this will send Jason and CJ over the edge since I’m constantly yelling at them about putting stuff away in the wrong place. But ideas about where to put the vanilla extract are swirling around in my head, so that every time my phones rings I’m irritated that someone is going to expect me to focus on something before I even reach toward the receiver. It’s only 11:38. AM! And like three people have called me for help so far. I am totally over this. I think it is completely unfair to expect people to return to work on Monday morning, knowing that they have to work a full 40 hour week after having had 5 days off. It’s entirely too much to ask of someone.

Cravings: I am really trying to get organized with the cooking blog. Trying, but currently failing, because I took pictures of our Thanksgiving meal, but forgot to email them to myself. I will get them posted, but I just want everyone to be aware of how completely unorganized about this I am. It’s sad, really. And I can’t even blame my post-holiday slump because I have been at home for 5 days. No excuses at all, other than I suck at life.

Having said that I purchased an app yesterday to help me keep my recipes organized. Because I mostly cook by pulling crap out of the cupboards, it is nearly impossible to recreate a meal once we’ve consumed it. I can figure out the basics, but the subtle nuances are lost forever…..Until now. At least that’s my plan, but we all know how successful I am at that so far. So keep your fingers crossed, but don’t hold your breath. I refuse to be responsible for anyone passing out while waiting for me to get organized.

Remember Jason’s weird aversion to all things fish? It’s weird because he loves to fish. When we visit Florida, he will spend all day, and night, on the pier if I let him.

He even cleans and filets the fish.

But he won’t eat it. My mom, step-dad, grandma, and I all enjoyed the fish that I made for dinner the evening after he caught them. Jason had chicken. However, he loves oysters! He’s obsessed with them really. He talks about them almost daily, and would probably eat them at every meal if we could afford it. Get this: He thinks most fish is disgusting because it tastes “fishy” but his favorite way to eat oysters is straight out of the ocean. Catch it, pop it open and eat it. Why you ask? He likes the warm salty taste. I know. He’s a walking contradiction!

He also loves them steamed, so I got a dozen for Thanksgiving. It ended up being just the two of us, so I thought it would be nice. He loved them! And he prepared them, so bonus for me! Basically, he just steamed them in a shallow pan for about 5-6 minutes, popped them open, and served them with cocktail sauce, clarified butter, and malt vinegar. He did add a bit more horseradish to the cocktail sauce. He instructed me that you have to dip in the proper order or they won’t taste as good. I know, I know, but I married him anyway! So you put the oyster on your fork, did in the vinegar, then the butter, then the cocktail sauce. Surprisingly, they were incredibly delicious!

And then I was responsible for the rest of the meal… This doesn’t surprise you, right? Me either. Here’s our menu:

Braised Short Ribs over parmesan risotto
Roasted brussel sprouts
Cranberry Sauce

Braised Short Ribs

1 lb short ribs, cut into sections
½ onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic
1 packaged sliced mushrooms
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
¼ cup red wine
½ cup beef broth
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 pods star anise

Brown the beef in a stock pot, then add the onion until it becomes soft and translucent. Add the garlic and the mushrooms and cook for another minute or so, then add the rest of the ingredients. Cover and let it cook at a very low heat, just below a simmer, for 2-3 hours. You can also do this in the crock pot and cook it at medium heat for several hours. The meat will be super tender when it’s done.

Parmesan Risotto

2 T butter
1 cup Arborio rice
½ cup white wine
2+ cups chicken stock
Large handful of grated parmesan cheese

Sauté on medium heat the rice in 1 T butter until the rice becomes translucent. This will take several minutes, but keep stirring because you don’t want it to burn. Then add ½ cup white wine and let it cook until absorbed, stirring frequently. In the meantime, warm up the stock in the microwave for a minute or two. It just needs to be warm. Continue to add the stock ½ cup at a time, stirring until absorbed before adding more until the rice is thoroughly cooked. Then add 1 T butter and the parmesan cheese, stir until the cheese is melted and the rice is creamy. Serve immediately.

Roasted brussel sprouts

4 slices bacon
1 lb fresh brussel sprouts
½ sweet onion
1 T olive oil
1 T balsamic vinegar

Heat oven to 350. Cover sheet pan with aluminum foil and lay 3 pieces of bacon out, not touching. Cook in oven until crispy. Take them out and sent on a paper towel to drain. Preheat broiler. Cut stems off brussel sprouts and cut them in half. Add them to a broiler safe pan. Then chop the onion and add it to the pan. Add olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Toss to coat. Cook the under the broiler, stirring a few times for about 15 minutes until the brussel sprouts are cooked and the edges crispy. Crumble the bacon and add it to the pan to re-warm right before serving.

Cranberry sauce

Juice and zest of one orange
1 shot spiced rum
¼ cup water
½ cup sugar
1 bag fresh cranberries

Combine first 4 ingredients in a saucepan, bring to a simmer melting sugar. Add cranberries and cook over low heat about 30 minutes until the cranberries are soft. Stir occasionally. Take off heat and let cool. Jason likes it cool, so we let it completely cool off but you can serve it warm.

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