Tuesday, May 25, 2010

There’s something special about grilled cheese

Today's FoodBuzz Daily special is the Cuisinart Electric Skillet CSK-150 so lets talk about something you could make in this. The first thing that popped into my head was Grilled Cheese, it’s one of those comfort foods that just makes you go.. Ahh. Warm gooey cheese, toasty crusty bread.. Mmm.

I’m a little unorthodox in the way I make my grilled cheese.. I’m not straight up yellow American cheese. And Please, please do not give me a square of pasteurized processed pre-wrapped cheese. Give me some good cheese, either sliced fresh from the deli or from a chunk at home, but it’s gotta be fresh. I like Muenster mixed with a little American.

As for the bread.. I’m not picky as long as it toasts up well.

Oh.. One more thing.. Do NOT put oil in the pan or on the skillet because then you have grease soaked bread.. And there’s nothing good about that.

You can add a tomato, that’s always good, then it gets warm and the flavor really comes out, add a slice or 2 or turkey and you’ve got it made.

Here’s the breakdown of how I make a Grilled cheese sandwich.

Get your pan ready, bit enough for 2 sandwiches, because someone will come along and steal that sandwich when you’re not looking.

Preheat your pan on low heat because you don’t want to burn the bread

Spread mayonnaise on the outside of 1 slice, not a thin layer either.. You’ll see where I’m going with this in a second.
Take the second slice of bread and put it on top of the first side, so there’s a mayo sandwich and press them together good so that you get mayo on both pieces of bread.

Put a little mayo on the inside for the cheese to stick to

Layer on the cheese and tomato (and turkey if you’re going there too) & sprinkle in a little black pepper

now carefully peel apart the 2 slices of bread and place the bread mayo side down into the hot pan or skillet and you’ll hear it sizzle

put the second slice of bread on top, mayo side up and cook for a few minutes until the bottom is toasted & carefully flip & toast on the other side until it’s just the way you like it and the cheese is all gooey and melted inside.. And do not cover this no matter what because you’ll wind up with soggy bread.

Now, if you want you can just have your sandwich. My kid likes it with a side of chunky home made tomato soup

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Cupcakes at Rosie's

The cupcake from Rosie's bakery on Covert avenue in Floral park was So good that I had to be nice and share with my cousin who's 6 months pregnant and works 2 floors down from me. She texted me when she got into her office because I had left it for her when I came in earlier.. and her response was that the cupcake was unbelievable. Yup.. damn right it was.. the best moistest cupcake that I've ever gotten from a bakery.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Something really out of the ordinary happened this morning.

Extraordinary really.

I went to the new Italian bakery on my way in to the office that has the most exceptional cappuccino (I’ve finally broken free of my bad bad Dunkin Donuts Caramel Latté habit) and saw they had cupcakes. I wanted one.. I’ve seen the past few days they’ve had them of different varieties but stopped myself. I’ve never gotten a truly good cupcake from a bakery, let alone an Italian bakery since they put so much love into the specialty pastries what made me think the cupcakes would be more than just for show?

Today’s variety was Red Velvet and carrot cupcakes. I stood there admiring them while the girl made my cappuccino and finally decided to get a carrot one (who cares that it was 8am? Carrot is a vegetable, cream cheese is dairy, the cupcakes have eggs.. Anyway, lol) I got to my car, put the coffee in the cup holder and sat the cupcake in the bag on the seat next to me and made my way to the office.

Now, today is one of those days in my office when it’s just good to be here (so far, so good) The Witch is out so it’s peaceful and no screaming cussing wild woman walking around getting paid to do diddly.. But I digress, as I said the day is still young and there is still the possibility of the neurotic one to come in (sigh). The pleasures of getting here early is that there’s nobody to judge what you’re eating (I have the fat free sugar free low cal chemical laden mafia boss in my office also)

I sat down at my desk, turned on the computer and opened the bag with my little cupcake in it.. And at first it looked like any cupcake from a display case... that is until I took the first bite and O.M.G I was in heaven. It was moist and flavorful and Wow! This is totally NOT what I expected at.all. It was absolutely yummy and delicious and wow! Wow wow wow!! So now knowing that I can get a quality cupcake at Rosie’s has made my day. (Shoot, I was going to link to Rosie’s bakery, but they aren’t even listed yet since they just opened 2 weeks ago. I’ll update when it’s available though).

Monday, May 17, 2010

Times are tough, I get it... really.

I’ve worked in my office for 5 years, I didn’t get a raise for almost 3 ½.. As a matter of fact, Nobody did. My boss would say we don’t have any money coming in and yadda yadda... and yes, I do understand that. I work for Plaintiff’s attorneys, so unless we’re settling cases and winning trials we’re paying out to get medical records and reports, filing documents with the court and all that fun stuff. I kinda let it go, thinking that we’d get raises when the 2 attorneys that gave notice in February left (because hey, we would have more $$$$ every month, right?) But no, another attorney left.. And nope.. They hired 2 new guys and still no mention of any pay raises for any of us.

But in the 3 years since I haven’t gotten a raise: my rent’s gone up, I got a car, and not to mention the Kid I have to feed, clothe and provide for without any help from anyone (I am his ONLY parent). When it got to the point where I was like ok, ya know what, I just can’t do it anymore like this I had to step up and ask Big Bad Mr. G for a raise and what he gave me was not nearly what I had hoped for or even close to what I really needed. And No, I’m not being greedy here.. It has been 3+ years and I HAVE to move. You can read about my living situation here. I can’t exactly tell this guy it’s not enough, because in all honesty it's something. I need to Keep my job and I like my job but I’m not above going out to look for another one, even though right now I know that my boss needs me here (there have been a lot of changes and I’m one of the only people here who really knows what file belongs to what attorney not to mention the absurd computer illiteracy of the older guys here)

The fact of the matter is though that if I want to get a nice, 2 bedroom apartment and not have to worry so much about money, I need around another $300 a month. This is New York, rent’s not cheap and I don’t live in a high class area either, I’m just determined to keep the kid in the same school. I refuse to rent someone’s basement ever again and I’m not going in without a lease (which are the 2 biggest mistakes I made when I moved to the hell that I’m in now even though it hasn’t always been like this, they were pretty nice and left me alone for the first year)

I’m not above asking for a little help from my friends here on the interwebs either.. Some PR or some something online to make a few extra $$ legit. Maybe I can find something my sister who just had a baby can do too. Times are tough, trust me, I know it. Getting a second job isn’t totally out of the question if push comes to shove but I already do 40+ hours a week here and I try to spend as much time with my kid as I can.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Hummus experiment

OK, maybe it wasn't so much of an experiment as it was a learning experience. I grabbed some little Sabra hummus snack packs while i was grocery shopping one day, I hadn't had hummus in ages and they were $1, so it was worth trying a few different flavors out and something handy to toss into my bag to snack on at work. Roasted red pepper by far was my favorite, the roasted garlic one tasted like paste to me but the kid liked it.

Over the past few weeks I've tried a few different hummus brands and I've made my own which was pretty darn good too. But as far as the store bought varieties go, Sabra is the best, it's got good flavor and doesn't go overboard in the spice department. I've tried both Tribe and Athenos Hummus brands and both in my opinion were not that good. Athenos was particularly bad as soon as I took the first taste all I tasted was cumin, and that's all I tasted. Tribe was also heavily spiced but with a mixture that I wasn't particularly pleased with.

Yeah, it's easier to make it yourself.. but sometimes you've just gotta have it now.. or, if you happen to know my kid, it's already open as soon as he's sitting down in the car, lol.

Sabra's the store bought winner hands down in my book though.

Monday, May 10, 2010

I ran out of breadcrumbs while making dinner

...and no, I didn’t freak out or run to 7-Eleven to get some either.. I used up the rest of the pretzels we got to snack on while doing laundry the other day. I whirred them up in the mini prep and finished up the rest of the chicken that was marinating in the fridge.. And OH YEAH BABY!! Thanks to chopped for the idea.. Because I don’t think I would have tried this otherwise I honestly don’t think I would have ever considered using crushed pretzels in place of breadcrumbs, but I’m sure glad I did.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

You marinated the chicken in WHAT?

Last night my kid walked into the kitchen while I was making dinner, he opens the fridge to get the milk and says to me "um, mom.. I think the chicken is bad" I look at him like WTF are you talking about and say.. uh, no, it's fine, it's marinating. "In What?" he says. Ranch dressing is my response and he just looks at me like I'm some freak and says whatever, gets his glass of milk he came into the kitchen for and goes back to whatever he was doing before he freaked out about the chicken.

So yeah.. I wanted something different. I've been using creamy dressings for a while as a coating on chicken for breading to stick to so I figured that letting it hang out for a while and then breading it would make it even more awesome. I was right. That chicken was freakin' Awesome! I'm trying really hard to eat right and "be good" so I took some stale Italian bread and whirred it in the mini prep with a little Italian seasoning and made my own breadcrumbs (no extra salt) and I baked the chicken. It came out full of flavor and OMG it was so moist and so good I could eat it every night.

Don't believe me? Then try it for yourself.

5-6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/2 cup ranch or creamy Cesar dressing (regular or low fat)
1 cup breadcrumbs + 2 Tbs cornmeal (extra crunch!)

Put chicken and dressing in a ziplock bag and toss in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (overnight is even better)

Preheat oven to 375°

bread chicken and place on parchment covered cookie sheet

Bake 25-30 minutes

yea, that's it.

I served the chicken last night with a side of roasted broccoli sprinkled with lemon juice and Parmesan cheese and it was absolutely delicious.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Lulu’s Italian-American Bakery, Fresh Meadows, NY

Lulu’s Italian-American Bakery, Fresh Meadows, NY

Hot Damn! Lulu’s is one of the best bake shops around hands down.

I happened by a car show at one of the local high schools on my way to the grocery store on Sunday and they had some stands and whatnot and I saw cupcakes.. So naturally I had to just stop and see what the deal was and I was excited for 2 main reasons: 1. The cupcakes were not left out in the open for flies and bees to buzz around and land on (FYI, if your food is left out in the open, uncovered, you will not get any business from me) they were in a small display case and 2. all the cookies and other goodies were lovingly wrapped in little baggies tied with ribbon with a sticker from the shop on them.

The Kid got an Oreo cupcake and I got 2 (HUGE) rainbow cookies in a little plastic bag That cupcake never had a chance.. By the time we got to the car and the kid sat down that cupcake was devoured, followed by “Mom, that was the best cupcake you’ve ever bought!” I had a little more restrain, and waited until we got home to have one of the cookies.. And Holy Cow.. Wow, absolutely amazingly unbelievable, hands down the absolute moistest rainbow cookies that I’ve ever had in my life. They were sooo good. I still have one in the fridge.. At least, I think it’s still there unless the kid got his grubby little hands on it and didn’t tell me. Shoot, now I’m gonna have to go and check when I get home. Everything was $2 which was awesome.. Which also means that I will definitely have to find my way over to Lulu’s one of these days no matter what kind of hike it is for me to get there. I would drive 2 hours just to get some of those rainbow cookies!

***I just realized that their web site isn't quite up and running yet.. I'll be sure to let y'all know when it does though :o)