Subscription Boxes: Food Edition

I’m replacing Friday Five this week with Friday ALL OF THE THINGS!  I should probably pick a day to do this in the future, but whatever.  That’s tomorrow’s problem.

A few months back I discovered the magic that is subscription boxes: monthly packages of goodness and fun delivered right do your door.  They’re great because of two key reasons:

1. Mail. I have never met someone that could say honestly “man, I hate getting things in the mail”, bills excluded.
2. Surprises.  Because it’s one thing to get something in the mail that you specifically ordered and knew exactly what it was– it might be exciting, but it’s not as exciting as a box of SURPRISE.

Okay so having established that subscription boxes are great.  Moving on.  I started out with beauty subscriptions, thinking (oh so stupidly) that they were the only kind; I was an Ipsy subscriber and an occasional Cravebox-getter (back before they changed their entire format, egads).  And they were both pretty cool.  But after a while I realized I wasn’t really using much out of the Ipsy bags on a regular basis (aside from the actual bags, which I use always because they’re such a perfect size) and the aforementioned Cravebox re-formatting happened.

So my time as a box subscriber ended– until, that is, I discovered something great last month.

Apparently, subscription boxes aren’t just for things that make you pretty anymore.

April marks my first trial month with two food subscription boxes: Goodies Co. and Love With Food, which gives you stomach-food and heart-food all in one by donating a meal to a hungry kiddo for every box purchased.  (I know, right?)

Anyway.  Now that I actually have both boxes in hand, I thought I’d post my thoughts on both.

(Don’t mind the photos of open packages.  I was hungry.)

Love With Food

LWF 4/13

Got this one first, on the 17th.  Paid the monthly price of $12 ($10 for the box plus $2 for shipping) and by “paid” I mean “used a coupon code to get the first box free”.

So, yeah, I didn’t actually do that “helping the hungry” thing, but I’m still subscribed for next month.  I am helping!  Just not yet.  The contents fall into the “good” category– things that are all-natural, vegan, gluten-free, GMO-free, blah de blah.  (Generally, shit I do not otherwise give a single fuck about.)  But I’m not holding that against LWF; as I’ve said before, I don’t have so much a beef with things being gluten free/vegan/whatever, it’s really just when they try to make me feel bad about not eating solely gluten free/vegan/whatever food.

I like meat, hi.  And that’s okay.

Mini-rant over; on to the box!

Cocomels Coconut Milk Caramels by JJ’s Sweets

LWF 4/13: Cocomels

I’m not a huge caramel fan so this was kind of an ‘ehhh’ for me.  But that’s because I’m not huge into caramel more than it’s because they weren’t any good. They were good, as far as soft candies that aren’t a flavor I like are concerned.  Nice and chewy, very smooth; good amount of wrapper-cling, which is always a good sign when you’re eating something you want to get caught in every single one of your teeth.

Lemony Lover Olives by Oloves

LWF 4/13: Oloves

I like olives!  I also like lemons.  I haven’t had a chance to bust these bad boys open yet (I’m waiting for a salad, I think) but if you do that math, you can guess that these will be pretty well-received.

Salty Pepper Sunflower Seed Snacks by Somersault Snacks

LWF 4/13: Somersaults

I. AM. IN. LOVE. Um, I kind of want to eat these forever.  And when I went to look at their website and found you can get a snack pack of 2 oz. bags of all the flavors, delivered monthly– clever move, boys.  They’re like a perfect texture, and they taste kind of nutty and wonderful.  They’re apparently packed with fiber and protein, which are two things I really like.  Plus they’re like the size of your thumbnail, and I am a lover of small things.  See also:

Gluten-Free Itty Bitty Butter Popped Sorghum by Mini Pops

LWF 4/13: MiniPops

Literally popcorn’s baby cousin.  The baby cousin that everyone talks about for being so great, when really they’re not much different from grown-up-popcorn.  But they’re small.  And they’re cute.  And look how precious.

That basically describes my experience with these suckers.  They’re good, though.  Maybe not mindblowing enough to make me buy them normally, but still enjoyable.

Organic Fennel Pollen by Pollen Ranch

LWF 4/13: Fennel Pollen

I don’t even know what this is and to be perfectly honest, I haven’t had a chance to use it yet.  I’m probably going to spice some pork with it and we’ll see how that goes.  Smells real good, though.

Smoky Chili & Lime Roasted Chickpea Snacks by The Good Bean

LWF 4/13: Good Bean

Hi, chickpeas, have I mentioned that you’re one of my favorites?  Because you’re one of my favorites.  When you’re dry roasted and mingling with chili powder and lime, I like you even more.

These guys were tasty, but putting them in a bag is really just a convenience thing; I’m one of those ‘I WILL MAKE EVERYTHING’ people, and the only reason I haven’t roasted my own chickpeas up until now was out of sheer laziness.  I’ll make sure we get like a trillion cans this week so I can do everything with them, just to make up for it.

Creamy Buffalo Ranch Dip by Buff Lo Dip

LWF 4/13: Buff Lo Dip

I’m planning on mixing this into my next batch of pimento cheese to see if I like it any better.  We’ll see.

It’s..creamy, slightly blue cheese flavored buffalo dip product thing.  I shrug.

Goodies Company

Can we talk about that box lining for a minute?

Can we talk about that box lining for a minute?

Came in on Wednesday, and my mom has been wondering what it is every hour since.  (Hyperbole, mama.)  Don’t even care that its run by Walmart.  I did a little bit of Googling and apparently there are some people out there saying ‘well they’re just proving Love With Food is awesome and PS, it’s awesomeer’– yes, sure, whatever.  I’m not one for internet wars.  The box is $7, and while it doesn’t seem to put on as many airs about it as Love With Food does (sorry) the products are still largely of the artisan/gluten-free/vegan/all natural variety.

Green Giant – Sweet Potato Multigrain Chips

GC 4/13: Sweet Potato

A solid chip.  More sweet potato-ey flavor than sea salt-y flavor, which I think I liked because hey, I like sweet potatoes.  Texture is halfway between a chip and a corn chip.  I’d eat them if they were in front of me, and I’d probably pick them over a normal potato chip in the store, but I’ve kind of backed off from chips lately so it’s all a little moot.

Frontier Snacks – Pecan Cherry Cinnamon Bites

GC 4/13: Frontier Snacks

My test bite was mostly a piece of pecan, which may have influenced what I thought JUST a hair.  (Because pecans, oh my god pecans.)  But they are pretty tasty.  Cherry flavor was light in the aforementioned test bite (it was a crumb, I’ll be honest; I didn’t want to eat the whole thing JUST to get the post out) and the cinnamon was a nice background compliment.

Help me, I sound like a wine taster.

Celsius – Sparkling Cola

GC 4/13: Celsius

Hadn’t tried this at press time.  Their site says it’s super great before a workout– helps you burn more calories, or something?  Whatever.  I’m trying it today before I hit the gym, largely because I think having something with substance in my stomach rather than my usual large dose of water might do me good.

True Bar – Apricot Almond Bar

GC 4/13: True Bar

The chai flavor hits you before the almond and the apricot have a chance to, and once they catch up it’s not too bad– but for those first few seconds it’s really an overpowering experience.  Good texture for a granola bar, very dried-fruit with nuts stuck in (yes, that is what I like in a granola bar these days do not judge me).

Angie’s Popcorn – Sweet & Salty Kettlecorn

GC 4/13: Angie's Kettlecorn

Kettlecorn.  -shrug-  No better or worse than any other kettlecorn in the world.  There was a piece stuck in the back of my throat for the better part of a half hour, though, which was slightly pesky.

Zone Perfect – Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bar

GC 4/13: Zone

Um, this tasted like a chocolate chip Pop Tart.  A chocolate chip Pop Tart with fewer calories and actual nutritional value.  That is the highest compliment someone can give anything, ever.

PLUS: Naked Wines $50 Voucher

GC 4/13: Naked Wines

YES. Hello, wine that is maybe better than the wine I buy normally.  I was less excited when I got onto the website and found out you had to buy six bottles to place an order, so we’ll see what I actually wind up with (cheapskate, party of one), but this was still pretty cool.

Also, Things I Learned: blogging while the largely-useless-kid in the office is sitting behind you staring agape out the window…really hard.

The Roundup

Would I buy some of these?  Sure.  The Somersaults and the Frontier Snacks would definitely make it into my shopping cart without too much trouble, and I’d be willing to try the True Bar in a flavor that wasn’t so..chai.  The Zone bar would make it if I were planning on not being able to eat real food for a while (how perfect would that have been when I was still in school and finals were still a thing?) and a few of the others might find themselves in my future if they were on sale, maybe.

Overwhelming success?  No.  But tasty experience?  Definitely.  I’m excited to see what next month brings, and then we’ll see where I want to go from there!

Interested in subscribing?  Let me know and I’ll get you a referral code; that way we both get points (for both services!) that can be redeemed for more goodies later.  

(Also, anyone who wants to go in on six bottles of wine…you know where to find me.)

Tuesday Things: Basically, I Suck.

Look who took an impromptu blog break!

Last week was a crazy one, and what (as usual) had to suffer?  The blog (sorry!)  A lot happened.  Have some highlights:

1. I had a birthday.  It was pretty cool.  There was cake:

It was made of Oreos, ice cream, and godliness.

It was made of Oreos, ice cream, and godliness.  And I’m pretty sure that’s a wine glass of beer to its right.

I am now twenty-two, and not an ounce wiser.  Here’s hoping for next year!

2. People I Like Bought Me Cookbooks.  Apparently 22 is the cookbook birthday.

(It maybe helps if you asked them to get you all of those cookbooks.)

Because I totally don’t like gloating about them:

LOOK

LOOK

AT

AT

MY

MY

COOKBOOKS

COOKBOOKS

I think I’m going to have to start doing bake-the-books, just so I use them all and don’t feel bad about it.

I think all y’all can get on board with that one.

3. I worked a lot.  That part kind of sucked and I’m pretty sure you don’t want to hear about it, so I’ll just sum up: we’ve been busy for no damn reason and it’s made me generally a tired crab when I get off.  Probably the biggest contributor in the ‘Bee isn’t posting’ plague that I’m hoping is finally over.

In the also-ran category: lots of crafting (curtains, two skirts, light mending, and drafting for a new apron that has pockets that actually function as pockets rather than very cute but entirely useless half-circles of gingham), light car-breakage (mostly a false alarm! Frank is pretty fine) and some day-to-day boring.

Now I just have to really, really work on the not-being-so-terrible-at-time thing.  I do have something really fun planned for this week’s FF, and I’m itching to dive into the DIY cookbook for this weekend’s How To that might just make everyone die a little happier.

Maybe.

Friday Five: April 12th

HAPPY FRIDAY!

HAPPY FRIDAY!

Remember when I did the five food trends I didn’t get and promised I’d get to five that I think are pretty great?

Guess what we’re doing today.

1. “Beer as an Ingredient”

DRINK MORE BEER

I’m sorry, was this not already a thing that everyone acknowledged should happen, always?  Beer is like one of the best things to cook with, ever.  End-of.  Braises, stews and slow-cooks, they all benefit from the addition of beer.  Chicken is best when beer roasted, and most meats don’t suffer.  Hell, if even cake is made better by the addition of beer, that is a sign.

Rule of thumb: if a recipe says to add wine, add the same amount of beer and drink whatever’s left over.  You’ll be a happy camper.

2. Bourbon

I promise you I’m not an alcoholic.  But on the coattails of the overwhelming Southern-food-love that’s been sweeping since the end of last year, I was real excited to find bourbon making food trend lists!  I’m mostly a beer girl, but if I have to pick a liquor I’m picking whiskey and if I’m picking my whiskey, I’m picking bourbon.

I love it by itself, but cooking with bourbon is a good second-best.  It lends itself to all of the above things that beer does, and then goes the extra mile and makes so many sweet things great, too.

And, you know.  The drinking.  That’s pretty good too.

3. BREAKFAST ❤

It is a truth universally acknowledged that breakfast is the best meal, ever.  That’s why brunch was invented, because people couldn’t get enough of how awesome breakfast was and they wanted an excuse to eat it more than once in the same day (citation needed).  Breakfast is God’s gift to consumables.  You can eat all of my favorite things at breakfast, and the ones that you can’t eat at breakfast?  Whatever.  I can live without them.

(Besides: name one.)

I’m eight different kinds of excited that breakfast is getting its day in the sun.

And yes, there are eight different kinds of excited.

4. Artisan Bread

As much as I hate slapping the word ‘artisan’ on anything and calling it a day, I actually really do like artisan breads– because artisan breads are really just fancy breads with nice flavors and generally better grains.  So if succumbing to the vile ‘artisan’ trend in this instance means being able to have delicious bread all day every day (even when I don’t have the time to make it myself), then I think that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.

Sigh.

5. Veg Trends: Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts

MORE OF THESE IN MY MOUTH, PLEASE.  I have an unhealthy love of both of these vegetables, no matter how much that love may have been overshadowed in the past month by my newfound ardor for celery.  I’m one of those weird people who liked brussels sprouts when they were a kid, so I’ve pretty much always been pro-sprout.  And cauliflower?  Who in their right mind could not love cauliflower?

And that concludes my Friday Five, known for the day as “Bee gushes about things she likes that she is glad other people appreciate”.  Now it’s your turn: what food trends are you into this year– and which could you leave behind?

Weeknight Dinner: Parmesan Chicken and Mad Sprouts, Y’all

Mama and I were working on the shopping list for this week and she jotted tonight’s dinner down as “chicken Parmesan .  I had to make her cross it out; don’t want anyone getting the wrong idea about what it is we’re having for dinner.

(I can’t explain how much my sister/papabear love chicken parm.  Every time someone suggests it they both ask what it actually entails to clarify, too, which– it just doesn’t compute to me.  But they’re both huge fans.)

Nope.  Parm chicken =/= chicken parm.

See?

See?

I guess the concept’s pretty much the same, though.  They’re like..dish cousins.  Like Who, What, When, Where, Why, and their cousin How.

(That was totally a thing when I was in first grade.  Thanks for the memories and the excellent fun playing with words, Mrs Shyer.)

The recipe itself is actually pretty straightforward; I’m sharing more for the breading tips, which are numerous per usual.

Y’all should know how I feel about breading by now.  If you missed it, I’ll catch you up: breading is one of my favorite things.

There is no such thing as loving mise en place too much, honest

There is no such thing as loving mise en place too much, honest

Just a quick rundown of everything you see here, and then we’ll get started: chicken (probably a given), flour, panko (or the breadcrumbs of your choice), Parmesan cheese and/or whatever it is you’d like to mix in with the breading.

Also eggs.  Eggs are pretty important.

1. Prep your Breading

This is easy.  Dump out about 2 cups of breadcrumbs into a bowl and wait for me to blow your mind with the next instruction:

mix it with your flavoring.

Crazy.

Crazy.

I’m using Parmesan cheese and some various green spices (oregano and parsley, plus a little salt and pepper).  Shake the bowl around a little bit; it’s a proven fact that shaking a bowl is the most effective AND the most fun way to mix dry ingredients.  Whisking be damned.

2. Make an Assembly Line

My mom asked if I really needed to use this many pie plates.  ALWAYS, mama.

My mom asked if I really needed to use this many pie plates. ALWAYS, mama.

And be fussy about how you do it; I can’t sell that point enough.  I used to look at this whole setup and think “yeah, that makes sense, but who wants to put that much effort into their breading?”

The answer is you.  You do.

And you do want to use pie plates; the high sides keep things from sloshing over, and the wide surface area lets you make sure everything gets covered.

3. Bread

Just to head y’all off with another tip: you do want to use tongs for every step after flour.  Otherwise your hands will be a disgusting mess and you will hate everything and/or get lots of egg in your breading and vice versa.

First, drop your chicken in the flour and flip to coat.

Parm Chicken - floured

This gives the chicken a protective crust to keep the moisture in, and also gives the egg and breading something to stick to that isn’t slippery bird goo.

Next, into the egg.

Parm Chicken - egged

..so that the breading will have something to stick to that isn’t dry floury bird.

And finally, into the breading.

..because it’s delicious.  Did you need an explanation?

Parm Chicken - broiled

And from there you just cook as planned.  These puppies got baked and finished with a broil for crust color, but do what you like.  It probably wouldn’t hold up to a deep fry so well, but a pan fry would hold it nicely.  And like my frying steps, it’s easily adapted to other meat products and/or foodstuffs.  Eggplant is the one that comes to mind, but I’m sure you could use it on a whole host of things.

This special weekday edition of how-to brought to you by the fact that dinner was otherwise too basic to post a recipe!  I’ll make up for it over the weekend, I promise.

Tuesday Things: Goals for April, Blog and Otherwise

See? April’s the prettiest. Duh.

Short and sweet; I’m in a crunch for time with catching up on a few general life things and leftover projects.  But I wanted to get my toes in the blogosphere per my Tuesday habit.

And so you don’t forget about me.  That would be unfortunate.

Blog Goals

  • Get back to a more regular posting schedule– 3 per week as an absolute bottom line.
  • Make time to pre-write!  The past two weekends have made this seriously impossible but I need to make it more of a priority.
  • Mingle more!  I feel like a blog island; commenting on other peoples’ wonderful content should be more of a priority for me.  But again, time– so I just need to prioritize it.
  • Uh, maybe finish changing my layout, since I started…and never did anything else after that.  Whoops.

Food Goals

  • Try and make at least three very new things this month!  My dad already suggested cookie cups, and I’m planning on doing puppy chow, but I want to bust out of the box even more.  I’m chewing on the idea of finally trying to tackle croissants, but that depends on the weather we get stuck with.  Any suggestions?
  • Time meals better!  That is something I forever suck at, much as I hate to admit it (even after the twenty million times my mama pointed it out to me while I was timing arroz con pollo improperly, because that seems to be my perpetual downfall) but it’s definitely something that will help with the content-for-posting thing, if I’m not mental with the prep while I’m thinking that I should be taking snaps of said prep.

Life Goals

  • Reorganize my Pinterest boards!  This is something that’s been bounced from to-do list to to-do list for weeks, but I need to really do it.  I feel like my life will thank me.
  • Work on being a skin color other than pasty.  I can do that.  I can totally do that.

Simple Spring Southern..Sustenance

I couldn’t think of a good word for “lunch” that started with an S.

Humble food for humble people.

Humble food for humble people.

It’s starting to warm up, which means my tongue is daydreaming about all kinds of things.  Fruit, mostly; peach season can’t come soon enough.  Sun tea makes pretty frequent appearances in my tongue’s daydreams; so does corn on the cob and watermelon and ribs.

Today I figured it was nice enough to stick my toe into the waters of things-I-want-to-eat-in-the-summer.  In celebration, lunch was a quick and easy bowl of grits and fruit and nuts and just…deliciousness in general.

Grits - prepare

I haven’t had grits in a really long time; not since we went to North Carolina, probably, and that was when I was nine.  But I loove them.  I love the grainy texture and the starchy stickiness; it’s like the less refined but equally humble-wonderful cousin of oatmeal.

(I know it makes more sense to say ‘it’s the less refined but equally humble-wonderful cousin of polenta’ but let’s face it, the food community has decided to de-humble polenta in recent years.  Polenta is out of the humble-grain running, here.)

They’re also super easy to make.  3/4 of a cup of boiling water plus 1/4 cup of grits and about a minute of my life got me a nice, fluffy looking lunch.

Okay, so they look pretty sad on their own but don't judge them until you've eaten them!

Okay, so they look pretty sad on their own but don’t judge them until you’ve eaten them.

Of course, grits on their own are only as good as what you put into them.  Screw that butter and sugar and cheese nonsense, though; it’s still April, which still means my tongue is in full berry-mode.

Think I went to heavy with the mixins?

Think I went to heavy with the mixins?

Think again.  Mixing makes it all better.

Think again. Mixing makes it all better.

There you have it; quick and easy Sunday lunch, from my humble kitchen to yours.  Go out, enjoy the day, and make yourself something that makes you feel good, why don’t you?

Or at least curl up with a book that you won’t realize is completely appropriately themed to your lunch until you crack the cover.

The back blurb reviews say it's a peach,  I am beside myself.

The back blurb reviews say it’s a peach, I am beside myself.

 

PS: don’t mind the blog renovations too much; they’ll be finished before too long.  Cute new layout, though, isn’t it?

Friday Five: April 5th

HAPPY FRIDAY!

HAPPY FRIDAY!

So, let’s be real: I’ve kind of sucked this week when it comes to making contributions to the blogosphere.  It’s not because I don’t love you guys (because I love you guys a whole lot!); it’s not because I didn’t plan (oooh, did I plan); and it’s not because I got side tracked with easier distractions (puhleze, AC3 has been sitting on my game shelf since December.  I just don’t have enough time).

What happened was a result of two things: firstly, my epic fail and ensuing injury left the middle finger of my left hand wrapped in masking tape until about Tuesday, which made it seriously hard to type.  I was reduced to hunt-and-peck, where I hunted all of the letters but still managed to only peck “r”.  But after my redneck dressing was cleared to be removed, things…

..well.  Things just got real busy.  So I thought I’d take this week’s Friday Five to tell you about them (because some of them were kind of neat!) and leave you with very non-empty promises to be back next week in full force with all of the recipes.

1. I got halfway cleared for an ambulance ride-along!

..in this fat bastard. I probably shouldn’t call it that to anyone’s face, though.

The ambulances my sister works on are really, really hard up for volunteers, and I’m…curiously, very tentatively entertaining the idea.  Very, very tentatively.  But concretely enough to take the bloodborne/airborne pathogens class (Monday night) and get CPR certification (tomorrow) so that I can ride along in the rig with her for a day and hope something gory happens.

And then hope I don’t puke.  But if I do, now I’ll know what to do about it.

2. We got chicks!

They're so sweet. I can't even.

They’re so sweet. I can’t even.

We used to be better about keeping chickens at my house, because fresh eggs rock.  But after a rash of brutal slaughters-by-coyote (that ended with me making friends with a dead shecoyote that I decided to name Bob (don’t ask, I was an odd ten year old)) we gave it a rest for about ten years.

The chick-draught is finally over!  We have three little chirping darlings in the kitchen right now; since I’m the only one who cares enough to name them and be clever, they’re called Violet, Sunny, and SheKlaus.

I’m hoping their lives go better than those of the Baudelaires, though.

3. I joined a book club!

Well.  Technically I joined a few weeks ago, but the book club met, which was great.  The girls all seem really sweet so far, and I’m so excited to have somewhere I can read and just be silly with actual people my age for an hour every now and again.  I got home and my mom was like “did you make any friends?”

I am not the speed-friender, mama.  An hour is a little short.  But I made contacts with ladyfolk, so at least there’s that.

Plus, the book suggestions.  They are so far off from my norm, but I’m loving them so far.  My to-read list just like doubled.

4. I cooked, honest!

I don’t have pictures of any of it, or instructions or thoughts or all those nifty things you get when I post something in long-form.  But what I do have are some recipes, so I’ll share those with you since I’m in suck-mode right now and it’s the best I can do.

  • Chicken with Kalamata Olives and Artichokes – Food Network Mag March 2013.  I can’t find the recipe to share, but if you have the mag try it!  Either use a little less liquid, though, or reduce it down a bit more; ours was a little too sloppy for us.
  • Chicken and Broccoli adapted off of this recipe with cauliflower fried rice – so good!  The chicken cooked to the perfect texture; I’m not sure if that’s due to the quick marinade or the cornstarch, but either way it was so perfectly reminiscent of takeout and  couldn’t believe it.  

5. I planned for next week!  

I hate (we’re talking a special level of hate here, the kind generally reserved for Subarus) that I’ve been so bad about posting this past two weeks, and I’m going to make every effort I have to turn that around.  I have a plan for next week, posts to write over the weekend, and things to do to fill the week after!  Kind of a crummy start for April, but there’s nowhere to go but up?

Something like that.

Enjoy your Friday, everyone!  Doing anything special to revel in the nice(ish) weather?

(For me?  Sitting outside in shorts reading Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand.  I can’t wait.)

Weekend Fail and March Wrap-Up

Happy 31st!  Another month gone.

I never really miss March.  It’s not my favorite month, and most of the time I just see it as something standing in the way of April– which just so happens to BE my favorite month!

April is superb.  The weather generally rocks, stuff starts to turn green, I get to eat cake…

Not too old, though.

April is pretty much the shit.  Other months don’t have nothin’ on April.

But before I get too carried away with myself about how awesome next month is going to be, I’m going to give a really quick round up on this one!  Starting with this weekend, and how it turned into the hugest failure of a weekend ever.

The post I planned for Saturday: how to make the best pie crust, ever.  Running on the success of last week’s fried chicken how-to, I wanted to teach y’all some more skills!  And it was all going really well.  The pie crust looked gorgeous before it went into the oven…

…but I’m not even going to show you the pictures, because a new “fail-safe trick” (I call bullshit) led to the most weirdly shrunken pie crust in the history of pie.   My mom had to save this weekend’s planned pie adventures with a second crust, which means now we have two pies.

We do not need two pies.  Anyone want a pie?  We have one to spare.  It might have a weird crust, though.

Following the massive pie failure, I decided to start rounding up my craft projects for the weekend– starting with the re-pocketing of a pair of cutoffs.

That ended even worse; do not even ask me how but I broke the sewing machine needle with my hand.  And we don’t have a spare, so I have three quarters of one pocket done and my shorts are currently more useless than they were before.

Failure. And pain.

Failure. And pain.  Nice colored pants, though.

So yeah, this weekend didn’t pan out so well.  I did manage to make a pastry cookie thing with the leftover pie crust and that tastes pretty much like a cinnamon roll, which rocks, but other than that..nope.

Now for the March Wrap Up part of today’s post, as promised!

Big one here is that Peaches and Praline was born.  I think that’s the star of the show in itself.  But if stats are more your speed, here’s some of those:

Most Viewed Posts

The greens just want to assert their awesome presence, don't mind them.

Chicken Cacciatore – published March 12th

 

 

 

 

How's that for a slice of fried gold?

How to: Make the Best Fried Chicken Ever – published March 23rd

 

 

 

 

I spy with my little eye...yellow Oreos?  They're spring; my mom isn't keen on the mint, so I went half-and-half.

Mint Oreo Brownies with Thomas Keller – published March 9th

 

 

 

 

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The winner is cacciatore again, with 14.  The runners up:

arroz con pollo: served

Weeknight Dinners: Arroz con Pollo – published March 6th (12)

 

 

 

 

Easiest cake ever. Also the least pretty.

Party of One: Mug Cake – published March 24th (11)

 

 

 

 

2 for 5 at CVS!

Friday Five: March 15th – published March 14th (11)

 

 

 

 

Thanks for a great month– and I promise, next month will be even better!  Y’all have been wonderful with comments and support, and I’m excited to see how things have grown when the April wrap up rolls around.

Happy Easter– and don’t forget to say “rabbit rabbit” when you wake up!  (Old kid-superstitions die hard.)

Friday Five: March 29th

HAPPY FRIDAY!

HAPPY FRIDAY!

Okay, how sad is this: there aren’t five things that rocked my week hard enough for me to write about them.

Yeah.  It was sad.

I’m saving the two pretty damn awesome things that DID enter my life this week for next week’s Friday Five, so we don’t risk this happening again, but I have a twist for this week and it calls for audience participation!  So I guess that’s a win, in a weird way.

Welcome, then, to the Inverse Friday Five– five things that kept me puzzled this week (or ever) as far as the food community is concerned.  These are five Real Big Trends in the food world right now that I..have just completely missed the ‘why’ of, and I’m hoping that in posting them I can get some sweet and gentle reader to explain their mystique to me.

Or something?

Let’s count ’em down!

1. Matcha powder

from Tumblr.

When I was in high school I hosted a Japanese exchange student (shoutout to Keiko!) and she made us green tea from matcha powder.  This is coming from somebody who likes green tea, but I have to tell you that it was one of the most disgusting things I have ever had the misfortune to drink.  Blech.  I can’t– it was just not good.

We still have the rest of the matcha powder sitting in a cabinet somewhere, should anyone decide they want to repeat that unfortunate experience (unlikely, we all had the same reaction) but the fact that I keep seeing recipes with matcha powder everywhere got me thinking about it.  What’s the fascination?  It’s a pretty color, but so is gasoline. And I still don’t want to drink it.  Or put it in my cookies.  Or my anything.

2. Artisan salt

from the great Google, origi. Sur La Table.

The first time I saw the words ‘artisan salt’ in a blog post, I honestly sat their reading the same line about twenty times to make sure I wasn’t crazy.  It’s salt.  There is no need to get fancy with it.

3. Chia seeds

from Tumblr.

Chias are a pet, thanks.  What do chia seeds even do?  Because I”m really lost on this one.

4. Taking Pictures of your Oatmeal/Other Healthy Breakfast Product

Case in point: this was tagged ‘yum’. I..what?

More of a foodie trend rather than a food trend, but bear with me.  And bear with the fact that I’ve done this once or twice- but I did it for photochallenges.  I.E. when the prompt was “chip”, I snapped my cottage cheese because I negate the health value of cottage cheese daily by adding chocolate chips.  And then I tagged it for the photochallenge!  I didn’t tag it foodporn.  Because that’s not foodporn.  Breakfast foodporn is a stack of waffles layered with bacon, with a mini ice-cream-scoop of butter and like six tablespoons of syrup on top.

Not your quinoa porridge.  Your quinoa porridge doesn’t have nearly enough bourbon maple syrup on it.

5. Smoothies as Vegetable Replacements

from Tumblr.

I’m not attacking smoothies, here, just to be clear!  Smoothies are in general delicious and wonderful and if they get people to eat (drink?) more fruits and vegetables then I’m all for them.  This is actually more of a rage against the guys I work with and people like them.

The guys I work with talk about Being Healthy and ways you can protect your body against crazy shit.  Mostly this boils down to Jason talking about how much of this shit he takes in a day, but the other day they were talking about how you can cram a bunch of healthy shit into a smoothie and it’s wonderful.

Which is true.  On both counts.

What makes me want to smash my head against a wall is that I have seen these boys eat.  They live on fast food and soda and energy drinks, so drinking a smoothie isn’t really going to hurt them– but it’s completely negated by the rest of the shit they subject their bodies to.  I just want to jump up and shout “if you just ate even a little bit better–” but I don’t, because I know they won’t listen to me.

Sigh.  Sorry that last one became a rant.

Anyway.  Anyone care to drop in and explain these guys to me?  I’d love to hear feedback, especially on the less ranty items (again, sorry!).

Stay tuned next week for actual favorites– and then in upcoming weeks, I’ll go through five food trends I’m pretty stoked about for this year!

Postscript: RIP, Richard Griffiths.  

Everything Meatloaf

Ever wonder what a Scotch egg would taste like if you deconstructed it and made it in a loaf pan?

I didn’t. But I imagine it would be something like this.

Meatloaf - full

Glamorous?  No.  Delicious?  Yes. Exactly the thing to do to get my crappo day out of my head?  Also yes.  Any dish where you have to squish meat around will instantly make you feel better, I guarantee it.  It’s like playing with meaty, delicious Play Dough, but riskier to eat off your fingers when you’re done.

(Not that that stops me.)

Bottom line is: this meatloaf has too much protein, and I am totally fine with it.  Because it’s also delicious.  And I sort of want to eat it for breakfast, actually.  Is that weird?

In my defense...it looks completely like breakfast.

In my defense…it looks completely like breakfast.

This is the result of three-person collaboration, which is sort of unheard of in my house these days.  I suggested meatloaf; my dad suggested we add sausage (because he always suggests we add sausage); my mom suggested we add hard boiled eggs.  I was skeptical, but she assured me that it was a Thing and we should give it a shot. So we did.

Meatloaf - veg

Things started off pretty normal; veg got chopped and lightly sauted with some spice.  From there it met the meat and got another good spicing, plus some breadcrumbs to bind it.  And then the mixing happened.

Meatloaf - premix

Hands down, this is my favorite part, probably for the same sort of reasons I like kneading bread so much.  It’s just– things gooshing through your hands, I don’t know.  It’s a stress reliever.

Anyway, moving right along: into the pan we go, with a decent glob of meat pressed down into the sides.

Technical term.

Technical term.

Then a layer of hot Italian sausage; pre-cooked, squeezed for grease, and sliced lengthwise.  Another glob of meat goes down on top of this, and you might want to press it out in your hands before you slap it down– pressing it out directly in the pan works, but you risk pushing the sausage out to the edges of the pan as opposed to the center area (which is where you want it).

Meatloaf - snausages

Repeat sausage step with eggs.  It helps to make a little well for the eggs in the layer of meat underneath them.

Meatloaf - eggiwegs

Top with the last of your meat and you’re good to go.

I got you craving meatloaf, didn’t I?  Here, have a recipe.

Everything Meatloaf

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 hot Italian sausage links
  • 2 hard boiled eggs
  • 1 stalk of celery, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper
  • 1 tablespoon (divided) ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon (divided) kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon parsley

Cooking Directions

  1. Start your preliminary prep: boil the eggs and cut each in half; cook the sausage links and slice, lengthwise.
  2. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute the mushrooms, celery, onion, and garlic with half the black pepper and half the salt.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef with the vegetables, remaining spices, Worcestershire sauce, and breadcrumbs.
  4. Press a little more than a third of the beef mixture into a lightly greased loaf pan. Add the sausage, then press half of the remaining beef on top.
  5. Repeat with the egg halves.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for an hour. Remove from oven and drain out any accumulated grease; serve immediately after.