Monday, November 22, 2010

Apricot vinaigrette

I decided I wanted a salad to go with supper tonight, but I wasn't thrilled about any of the bottled dressings in my refrigerator, so I decided to make my own.  It's so easy to make dressing that I really don't know why I ever buy any pre-made at the store.  You can vary the type of jam and vinegar used to make different flavors.  First, let's start with the ingredients:

I need to first apologize for the image quality.  I am taking these pictures with my phone right now, and the lighting isn't very good, but you will get the idea.

This recipe makes enough for one large salad or two side salads, depending on the amount of dressing you like.

Apricot vinaigrette

 1 teaspoon Apricot jam (I use the 1/3rd less sugar because I think normal jam is too sweet)
2 teaspoons Apple cider vinegar
3 teaspoons Olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

I mix this up right in the bowl before I put the salad in.  Then, when I toss the salad everything gets combined. put jam in bowl and add vinegar. Whisk until combined.  Add olive oil, whisk.  Add salt and pepper to taste, whisk.  That's it!  Super easy and delicious.  This is what it looks like when it's finished.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cast Iron Cooking

I love cast iron.  It gets super hot.  It's lovely for putting a nice crispy brown crust on potatoes, and I could use it to kill zombies in a pinch.  I'm currently baking some potatoes for lunch (post on this later), and seasoning a new cast iron piece.  This has inspired me to post my rules for cast iron.

Rule #1: Buy used!  I only have four pieces of cast iron cook-ware, but I am constantly scanning thrift stores for new finds.  Seriously, what is anyone going to do to hurt cast iron?  I found a beautiful Le Creuset 10-inch round grill pan (which they do not make anymore) in a Goodwill for $30.  Even if the piece has a little rust on it, it can be cleaned up with a little steel wool and elbow grease.

Rule #2 (Actually more of a myth): Cast iron is not difficult to clean.  Two of my pieces were given to me by my mother.  She hates cast iron because she thinks it's too heavy and difficult to clean.  Here is how you clean a cast iron pan: Simply wipe out the mess after use with a paper towel or sponge.  That's it, really.  If the mess is really terrible, or you cooked gravy in your pan and didn't clean it for a few days (not that I would ever do this.  Heh) then you can put some water in the pan and boil out all the stuck on bits.  Pour the water out, and wipe dry with a paper towel.  Then put a thin layer of oil on the pan.  The oil will help to season the pan and give it a non-stick finish.  This will also protect against rust.

Rule #3:  Season your pan.  This is a very important step in cast iron cooking, and oh so easy.  To season my pan I wait until I will have the oven on for baking potatoes or a roast.  Then I coat my pan with a layer of Crisco.  You may want to use gloves for this unless you want to be picking Crisco out of your rings for hours afterwards.  I put the pan in the oven and let it bake.  I leave the pan in after the other items are done baking. I let it cool with the oven.  When the pan is cool, I pour out the excess Crisco, and and wipe the pan clean.

I hope if you were intimidated by cast iron, you give it a try now.  My newest cast iron piece?  A corn muffin tray in the shape of ears of corn.  I'll be experimenting with corn muffins soon, and will post a recipe when it is perfected.  Next post: lunches.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Drinking and The Room

I am attending a midnight showing of The Room.  If you don't know anything about this movie then check out the trailer here:  I've been wanting to see this movie for awhile now, and I thought a movie this special deserves a very special drink.  Someone must have come across the extremely important question of what to drink while watching the room?  Alas, my internet search came up dry.  I found many drinking games for the movie, but I needed a drink.  Upon inspecting clips from a movie, I found a part when the main characters appear to be mixing vodka and wine.  I am not doing this, but we will be drinking red wine during the movie.  During the epic "Lisa, you are tearing me apart," sequence, we will do a shot of vodka.  I feel that my quest for the perfect drink is now complete.  I hope I've helped someone with the search.

Monday, July 26, 2010

It's been awhile

I just realized that it has been almost three months since I've posted anything.  I'm not sure that I have any readers at all, so my lack of posting may not matter, but I think it's the principle of the thing.  I'm not going to make any promises about posting more frequently.  I will try, but it seems like every blog I read that promises to post will not be heard from for months.

I've been busy cooking, eating, and doing blog-worthy things.  I also received two adorable vintage aprons from Etsy that I will post eventually.  I've settled into a nice summer routine of reading, watching movies, cooking, and cleaning every once in awhile.  I've been thinking about veganism, dreading going back to school as a teacher, wishing to go back to school as a student, and just living.  Above is a picture of a Rick Bayless recipe that I made for his twitter contest.  This was the food from week one.  I didn't win, but I am very happy with the pictures and it is something I will make again.  The week 2 winners will be posted sometime today, so I will try to post my pictures here tomorrow.  If you are reading this and don't know about the contest there are still two weeks left.  You can get details from

For now no promises, but I'll see you soon.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Healthier eating

I woke up this morning feeling terrible.  I proceeded to eat an unhealthy (but delicious) breakfast of biscuits and gravy.  At lunch I was still feeling awful, and I ate leftovers from dinner a few nights back.  They were restaurant leftovers of steak with sukiyaki sauce, rice, and veggies.  Not terrible food, but not exactly healthy either.  I have decided I need to eat better.  I've been slacking off lately because of stress.  I'll just throw something quick together that tastes good.  Tonight was the turning point.  After feeling miserable all day I made myself a portabella mushroom sandwich.  I had cucumbers, tomatoes, and fresh strawberries on the side.  I am feeling a little better.  I hope this continues.  Following is not really a recipe, but just instructions for the sandwich.  Use any type of bread you like.  I had some oat bread, which is too gummy, but I'm trying to use up the loaf.

Clean mushroom.  Sometimes I cut out the gills, but tonight I just rubbed the entire mushroom with a damp paper towel.  Detach stem and slice into small pieces.  Place a few teaspoons of olive oil in a frying pan and heat until warm.  Add mushroom gills up.  Drizzle a small amount of oil over gills.  At this point I cover the pan so everything doesn't splatter.  After a minute or two flip mushroom and add mushroom pieces.  I sprinkle in a little Bragg's Amino or soy sauce at this point.  Go sparingly here because too much will make the mushroom salty.  Cook for another minute then remove from heat and let sit.  One of the most important things about cooking a mushroom is to let it rest for a minute.  If you immediately place it on the sandwich you will lose all the juice in the first bite.  It's too hot to eat now anyway, so let it rest!  Place on sandwich and enjoy.

I had mustard, tomato, avocado, and lots of pickles on my sandwich.  I also cut it in half, so it's easier to eat.  The picture didn't turn out very well, but it gives an idea.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Pizza night

My fiancée and I made pizza Friday night, which is something we used to do, but haven't lately because we've been out of town so much.  It's a fun activity we can do together, and the final product is always amazing.  Right now I'm using Jiffy pizza crust that just needs hot water.  I'm going to experiment with a yeast crust from scratch once I have more time.  We are also using canned sauce for convenience, but I plan on canning a homemade pizza sauce this summer when my tomatoes are growing.  I will post recipes for both the crust and the sauce once I have them perfected.  Our pizza toppings were: fresh mozzarella, pepperoni, green and black olives, red pepper, red onion, and tomato.  I also made a Stromboli-type pizza roll with the same fillings.  The roll tasted great, but looked awful, so no pictures of that.

I finally feel like i'm getting things together enough to cook exciting dishes, so I plan on posting more frequently.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

No cooking and big decisions

I haven't been cooking anything noteworthy lately which is why I've not posted any recipes lately.  I have some exciting yet stressful things happening right now, which I will share when they are confirmed.  I've been so busy that I've had breakfast burritos the last 2 nights for supper, and I actually had to eat school lunch today because I had no leftovers to pack.  The lack of home cooked meals is starting to take its toll on me.  I find that I eat a lot more if I don't sit down to an actual meal.  It's a psychological thing I know, but I just don't feel satisfied if I don't have a full meal.  Right now I am craving a pizza, but it would take an hour to drive into town and back, and I don't have the items to make my own.  I will probably raid the pantry soon and see what I can come up with.  Tomorrow I will make a real meal.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Spicy asparagus pasta.

It's been awhile since I have posted, but I have a new recipe.  This is extremely simple, but tasty.  I plan on posting more about clothes, but because of my strict budget right now it's food, food, food.  Please note that most of my recipes are extremely flexible, feel free to add or subtract whatever you want.

On a side note, yes,  I use a lot of garlic, but if garlic is cooked slowly and added at the beginning of a dish it is a lot milder and sweet.  Give it a try.  My mother swears she hates garlic, but she happily eats my food.  Also, in the Spicy asparagus pasta the garlic is left whole, so it's easy to pick out.

This method is great, and I use it with a lot of different veggie combinations.  Right now my asparagus is going crazy, and I'm trying to keep up with it.

The first picture is of the asparagus and tomatoes, the second is the finished pasta.  The pasta picture isn't great, but it gives you an idea.

Spicy Asparagus Pasta

1 bunch asparagus cut into bit sized pieces
6 to 10 cloves garlic, peeled
4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 tomato chopped
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (more or less depending on the amount of heat you like)
8 oz linguine
fresh Parmesan (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Fill pot with water and boil for pasta.  Make sure to add salt to your water.  It should be as salty as the sea.  This is really the only chance you have to impart flavor to your pasta, so do it!  Add olive oil and garlic to skillet.  Heat on low.  Turn garlic with tongs every few minutes.  You want garlic to be a nice golden brown, but do not let it burn or it will become bitter.  This takes about 7 minutes.  After garlic is golden brown turn up heat to medium and add asparagus to garlic oil.  Add a few sprinkles of salt and pepper and the red pepper flakes. By this point your pasta water should be ready.  Follow instructions for cooking pasta.  Do not overcook pasta.   Cook asparagus until tender about 3 to 5 minutes while the pasta is cooking.  Add tomatoes to asparagus.  Cook down another 2 minutes.  Drain pasta and toss in garlic, oil, and asparagus.  Serve immediately.  If you want to add cheese now would be the time.  This is so delicious I don't think the cheese is needed.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


I've been feeling drained and overwhelmed lately.  A lot of that might have to do with the fact I've been out of town during the past 3 weekends and I have 2 more busy weekends coming up.  My job demands that I do a lot of work after work, and I just haven't been motivated.  When I came home tonight from yet another busy weekend I sat outside on my porch and just looked around.  It was beautiful.  My garden was freshly tilled by my parents this weekend, my asparagus and rhubarb are growing, and my trees are blooming.  My house is a disaster, and I am far behind at work, but I did get my herbs planted tonight.  I will get caught up.  Spring is a time a renewal, and I need to be renewed.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Just a quick post about the asparagus in my garden.  I checked yesterday and nothing had come up yet.  This morning I have a bucket full.  I will be eating asparagus every day for weeks soon because it produces so much. I love this time of year.  My rhubarb will be up soon.  Now, what should I make?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Quick Spaghetti Squash and Tomato Sauce

Last week between work and work I had about 2 hours, and I wanted something homemade.  I had baked a spaghetti squash a few days before, so the lovely pasta like insides were waiting for me in the refrigerator.  I tossed together a quick tomato sauce and enjoyed.  The whole thing came together in less than 15 minutes.

 For those of you who have never baked a spaghetti squash (you should), all I did was poke a few holes in the squash with a knife and then stuck it in the oven at 350 degrees for one hour.  After an hour I turned the oven off, but left the squash in for another hour.  Then I took the squash out of the oven, cut it in half, and used a fork to scoop out the insides.  I put the "pasta" in plastic containers and kept it in the refrigerator until I was ready to use it.   Spaghetti squash is a great pasta alternative.  It makes me feel like I'm doing something a little healthy.  I plan on growing these squash in the garden this year, so I'll be having lots of healthy "pasta."

Quick Tomato Sauce and Spaghetti Squash

1 Tablespoon Olive oil
1 onion chopped
1 red bell pepper chopped
3 cloves garlic minced
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
30 oz can crushed tomatoes (use chopped or whole tomatoes for a chunkier sauce.  I use whatever is on hand)
15 oz can artichoke hearts drained and roughly chopped

Heat olive oil in large pan.  Sauté onions, red bell pepper, and garlic for 3 to 5 minutes until onions and and peppers are soft.  Add red pepper flakes and stir in veggies and oil.  Add tomato sauce and cook until sauce is warmed through.  Add artichoke hearts (you could add olives here if you want as well).  Toss in spaghetti squash.  Heat through and serve.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Impulse Eating

I was really hungry when I got home from work tonight, but I don't keep a lot of convenience or quick foods in the house, and I only had an hour and a half before I needed to leave for my second job.  I grabbed some chips and salsa and threw a spaghetti squash in the oven to bake, so I could have it with some marinara after work.  During work I sat and fantasized (yes, this is the accurate word) about supper.  I needed to stop by the grocery store and knew I was in trouble.  Me + Starving + Grocery store = huge bill and lots of crap.

I surprised myself!  I limited myself to only impulse buys in the produce aisle.  I picked up some jicama to dip in guacamole (recipe later), and some beautiful red peppers.  I needed frozen strawberries for smoothies, and I also picked up a bag of frozen mixed fruit.  I am snacking on the mixed fruit now, and it is fantastic.  It was also on sale, so I got 3lbs. of fruit for under $3.  My last impulse buy was Bocca "Chicken" patties.  I forgot how good these were.  I know they're processed and not the best thing for me to eat, but it's better than the nachos I was making almost nightly because I needed something fast.

I came home and instead of using the squash I had a Bocca sandwich and some fruit.  I feel good because even though it was not the meal I was planning, it still wasn't bad.

3 bean salad

As I stated in my previous post, I was exhausted when I can home last night, and I needed to make something that would last most of the week for lunch.  I also had some veggies in the fridge that were looking a little past their prime, so I decided on 3-bean salad.  Please note the following recipe can take a lot of substitutions, if you have different beans or veggies add those.  If you like different spices or vinegars use them.  I found some sun-dried tomato oil on sale last week, so I used that.  Normally I would use olive oil.  This salad comes together very quickly, and gets better overnight. I will take a large portion of it for lunch with an orange.  It's very filling.

Three Bean Salad

15 oz can Garbanzo beans
15 oz can Pinto beans
15 oz can Dark Red Kidney beans
1 head broccoli florets, chopped into bite sized pieces
1 green bell pepper, chopped into bite sized pieces
1/3 cup oil (I recommend olive or canola)
1/4 cup plus 3 Tablespoons vinegar (I used white, but cider can be used)
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried basil (I use fresh if I can, but was out today)
1 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed cumin

Drain and rinse beans and put them in large bowl.  Add chopped vegetables with the beans.  In a separate bowl mix oil, vinegar, sugar, red pepper, basil, oregano, and cumin until well combined.  Taste and adjust seasoning according to preference.  Pour over bean mixture and gently toss.  Serve.  Keep leftovers refrigerated.

The picture is not the best because I snapped it right before leaving for work this morning, but it gives you an idea.  Happy eating.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Quick post before bed

I was in Chicago this weekend, and it was amazing!  I'm from a very small town, so it's always difficult for me not to walk around staring at the tall buildings with my mouth ajar.  I ate at Topalobampo Friday night.  Rick Bayless was sitting at the table diagonally from me, and I wanted to stare, but I kept myself under control.  I felt it would be tacky to take pictures during the meal, so unfortunately I have non to share.  My fiance and I shared the Trio, Trio, Trio which is three different ceviches.  This was my first ceviche experience, and it was not disappointing. It's kind of a like a sushi salsa.   I continued my meal with the Alaskan black cod with black beans and chorizo.  If you are in Chicago you should check it out.  Great atmosphere, great service, amazing food.

We had a few other culinary adventures, and I ate way too much.  My body is not used to digesting as much meat as I ate this weekend.  I will be making a 3 bean salad tonight before I head off to bed.  It should last me all week for lunches.  I will post pictures and the recipe tomorrow.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Picky Eaters

I've been thinking about the food I bring to work a lot.  This may have been sparked by my leftover sushi and the looks of both awe and disgust it received.  Why are people so afraid to try something new?  Barring food allergies, what is the worst that could happen?  You eat something you don't like, so you spit it out.  Why not try the food?  It may be something you really enjoy, but would never know.  I've never been a picky eater, and the foods I eat have often been looked upon with suspicion.  Come to think of it, some of the clothes I wear have been looked upon with suspicion too, so I guess the food fits.

I pack mostly healthy and quick lunches.  I may make enough pasta one night to last a few days.  I plan ahead.  No, I don't have children who take up my time, but I would think children would be even more cause to plan meals.  Sauteing some garlic in olive oil and tossing in penne, tomatoes, and olives is not rocket science.  It's not even strange food.  It's simple; it's delicious, and it's not processed.  It's not "normal" by today's standards.  "Normal" is T.V. dinners and Twinkies.  I'll stick with my strange lunches and the stares to go along with it.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

First Post and Bargain Hunting

I've been wanting to have a place to talk about food and cooking for awhile now.  Finally, it occurred to me to start a blog.  The problem was the name.  What could I name this that would be original and describe my personality and cooking style.  Then it hit me...burlesque.  Burlesque performers made fun of serious subjects in an "undignified manner," and sometimes without their clothes.  I cook in an old style, making most dishes from scratch.  My microwave broke six months ago, and I feel no need to replace it.  I like to have fun in the kitchen.  I dance, I sing, sometimes I'm in my underwear, but I turn out very good products.  Cooking is something that has always come naturally to me.  I'm always amazing during lunch where microwaved T.V. dinners are the norm, and my homemade meals are looked at with awe.  I'm tired of people thinking that cooking is such a chore, something to dread at the end of the day, something that takes hours.

I'm not sure if anyone will read this or if it will simply be a creative outlet for my thoughts and cooking experiments.  I hope if anyone is reading this they will take it in the spirit in which it is intended.  I love being in the kitchen, I love having boobs, and I think lingerie is empowering.  I wear ruffly things and cook because it makes me happy.  I don't do it to fit into any kind of preconceived gender role.  Enough with the rambling; on with the cooking.

I love food and I love new dishes.  I especially love new dishes at a bargain.  I was in the local Goodwill today searching for something fabulous and vintage to wear, maybe some aprons or a dress.  My clothing search was disappointing, but before leaving I decided to check out the housewares.  I am always on the lookout for a cast iron grill pan.  I didn't find my grill pan, but I noticed some cute china saucers and plates with a rose pattern.  They look like something my grandma would've had, and I'm a sucker for vintage patterns.  It was $10 for the entire set.  Arriving at home I thought I would check out the manufacturer and  brand.  Turns out I bought $350 worth of dishes!  I am euphoric with my deal.  I can't wait to use these.  Now if I can only find a $10 china cabinet.