Sunday, May 29, 2011

Cookish: What's for dinner?

Spinach and mushroom quiche

1 pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed and liquid squeezed out
1/2 pkg (4 oz) mushrooms, chopped
2 cloves garlic
5 eggs
1 cup milk (I used 1/3 heavy cream and 2/3 skim milk, because I needed to use up the heavy cream, but use what you have)
1/2 cup-1 cup mozzarella cheese (or shredded cheese of your choice)
parmesean cheese, for sprinkling on top
1 pie crust.
You'll need these
And this.

Blind bake your pie crust at 375 for about 20 minutes.
This picture should be rotated the other way. It is a pie crust filled with pie weights for blind baking. (I use dried black beans as pie weights--just don't try to cook them after!)

While this is baking, saute the mushrooms and garlic, adding the defrosted spinach when the mushrooms are nearly done. Season with salt and pepper.
Saute it up!

Mix up 5 eggs and milk.
Can't make quiche without breaking eggs.
Add cheese to egg and milk mixture.

Remove crust from oven. Add mushrooms and spinach.

Pour eggs on top. Sprinkle with parm.
Turn oven down to 350 and return quiche to oven.

Bake about 30 minutes or until center is set; Eat up!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Bookish Review: The Wise Man's Fear

The Wise Man's Fear is the sequel to the awesome The Name of the Wind and picks up the story exactly where the last one left off. Kvothe continues to tell his life story to the Chronicler and Bast continues to worry that his master has forgotten who he truly is. If anything, this one is even more of a page-turner than the first. We get more of Kvothe's adventures at the University, but even more exciting is when he leaves the University for a while after being brought up on charges of violating the Iron Law (he is acquitted, but he needs some time for the memory to fade if he is going to be assigned a tuition he can actually pay). He leaves town in the hopes of gaining the patronage of the Maer, a very powerful and rich man. He performs many important services for the Maer, gaining some important knowledge along the way, and even enters the Fae and learns of fairies and learns the secrets of Ademic mercenaries. He does return to the University, where everyone thought him dead, newly equipped to pay his tuition, but not with everything he'd hoped to gain. We see again the weakness of the present-day Kvothe in comparison to who he used to be, but the story is not yet over, so how it all came to pass is still a mystery. I was fortunate enough to read the two stories back-to-back, which was wonderful, but also terrible. Because now I have to wait a year for the end of the story. Which isn't that long to wait for a new book from a beloved author, all things considered, and it would be longer, except that it is already written. Still...grrr.

Read these books!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cookish: What's for dinner?

Kraft was kind enough to send me a coupon for a free container of their new Philly Cooking Creme, made with Philadelphia cream cheese. I purchased the garlic version and modified one of the suggested recipes that came with it.

Philly Cooking Creme Pot Pie
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup chopped carrots (about 2 small carrots)
1/2 pkg (4 oz) mushrooms, chopped
black pepper
red pepper flakes
1 pkg Philly garlic cooking creme
1 refrigerated pie crust

Pre-heat oven to 400. Saute the carrots and mushrooms in oil in a medium skillet until mushrooms are cooked and carrots are softened. Season with pepper and red pepper flakes. Set aside. Saute the chicken until nearly cooked through add the peas, corn, carrots, and mushrooms and cook until warmed through. Add Philly cooking creme. Pour into a pie pan and cover with pie crust, fluting the edges and cutting a few vents in the middle. Bake for about 25 minutes.

Verdict: The flavor was actually really good--garlicky and well-seasoned. Do Not add salt--it doesn't need it, honestly. The cooking creme has enough. My problem is that it thickens up a lot, and the cream cheese really coats your tongue--so it tastes great, but I would like the sauce to be a little looser and creamier--not as thick. I think next time I might try to thin it with a little water or milk. It is easy and tasty, though!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Bookish Review: The Name of the wind

I picked up The Name of the Wind at a conference where the author was signing after someone recommended the book to me. Patrick Rothfuss weaves an elaborate fantasy world complete with fictional languages, magical creatures, mythology, and demons. In this world, some learned men know the true names of things, and can call them to do their bidding (hence the title). The book focuses on an innkeeper, who is no ordinary innkeeper, but a fabled hero in hiding. When the Chronicler arrives looking for the true story of the hero's exploits, he agrees to tell the tale. The person who recommended the book to me warned that it takes a while to really get into it, and I think she was correct, but once Kvothe, the main character, gets to the University, things really start to pick up, and the story is pretty compelling. Of course it is a nod to the power of words, which I always find enjoyable, and there's some magic thrown in as well (though it is a science-y magic). The second book in the series (I'm not sure if this is meant to be a trilogy or a series) is available, and I will be reading it next because I really want to know what happens! A good read for fantasy fans.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

UnCookish: Snacktime

Jell-O sent me a coupon for a free package of the new Temptations by Jell-O, which is the new Jell-O they are marketing as being just for adults. (Have you seen the commercials where parents terrorize their children so the kids won't eat their Jell-O?) I went for the Double Chocolate flavor, of course! Three pudding cups come in a package, and the flavor I tried consists of about 2/3 dark chocolate pudding topped by 1/3 of a lighter chocolate "mousse" on top. The pudding cups do make a tasty snack, but I think I'd rather have a regular pudding cup--I'm not the hugest fan of the texture of the "mousse" on top. There are other flavors as well, which I think consist of pudding on the bottom and gelatin on top. That didn't appeal to me, but I can give the chocolate flavor a thumbs up, if you're looking for a little twist to your usual pudding cup.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Cookish: What's for lunch?

How do you feel about eggs?

I love eggs. I didn't always, but now I do. They are so cheap, easy to cook, and versatile--what's not to love? Oh, and they're delicious. And good for you. Eat some eggs.

I always have eggs on hand, so when I am at a loss for lunch, I make egg salad. Simple. Tasty. Maybe not the healthiest lunch, but at least you're getting some protein. Pack some fruit, too--you'll be fine.

Do you know how to boil an egg? You've got to master that to make egg salad. Here's what you do:
Take as many eggs as you want to boil. Even if you're only making egg salad for yourself, you want at least two. Put in a pot that will just accommodate as many eggs as you have to boil in one layer. The smaller the better, so they don't have to bump around too much. Cover the eggs with cold water. Put the eggs on the stove and cover. Turn to high. When the pot comes to a boil, turn off the burner, and leave the eggs, covered, for 10 minutes. When the time is up, pour off the hot water and run cold water over the eggs until they cool. This will make them easier to peel. Bam! You've got boiled eggs, with no gray-green ring.

Now that you've got boiled eggs, it's time to make egg salad. You need:
Boiled eggs
mustard (sometimes I use Dijon, sometimes I use Creole, sometimes I use Durkee's)
garlic powder

I use an egg slicer when I'm making egg salad--slice one way, then the other. You can also chop by hand. All the other ingredients are to taste. You want to make sure you add enough mayo to completely moisten the eggs and get a nice consistency. How to serve? I like to eat it just with crackers (Triscuits), but it's also mighty tasty on a sandwich of toasted whole wheat bread, with some lettuce.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bookish Review: Sunshine

This book was recommended by my friend S. It reminded me a bit of the series upon which True Blood is based, but I enjoyed it more. It's set in a world where vampires, witches, were-animals, and other mystical creatures are real, and humans are fighting for survival against the dark creatures, particularly vampires. Rae (aka Sunshine) is abducted by vampires, and manages to escape alive--which never happens. In the process, she makes a tentative friendship with a vampire--which also never happens. The vampires aren't likely to let her go easily, and the ppolice in charge of keeping the vampires in check aren't either--since no one escapes vampires and Sunshine did, they want her help. Rae just wants to make cinnamon rolls.

The book is enjoyable and funny. There's not much sex in it, but a few sexual situations (parennts of vampire-loving teens, just wanted you to be aware). The book is clearly a set=up for a series. Vampire fiction fans should enjoy this one.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Cookish: What's for dinner?

Several years ago, my dear friend the Free Market Mommy made portobello sandwiches for dinner one night when I was visiting--so delish! And very easy. So, I'm going to give a general outline of how to create your own.

portobello mushrooms (1 per person)
cheese slices (1 per mushroom. I recommend provolone)
olive or veg oil
bread or buns (I used multigrain toast, but they're also tasty on hamburger buns)
mustard (I used creole, but you can use your favorite)
salt and pepper

What to do.

Use a spoon to remove the stems and gills from the portobellos. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat, with enough oil to coat the bottom. (Or use a grill pan, ora real grill, or a George Foreman grill--you get the idea.) Cook the mushrooms for a few minutes per side, seasoning with salt and pepper once they are cooked (the salt will draw out a lot of juices, so they will cook faster if you salt them after cooking instead of before). Once they're about ready, top each with a slice of cheese (the provolone works well because the slices are round, like the mushrooms) and heat until melted. (You can cover the pan to speed the melting.) If you're using sandwich bread, toast it. spread one slice with mayo & mustard, top with a lettuce leaf, and your cheesy 'shroom. Top with the other slice of bread, cut it in half, and enjoy your sammie!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Bookish Review: The Memory Keeper's Daughter

I had heard a lot about The Memory Keeper's Daughter (maybe you have, too?) before reading it, but it was again a situation where I had beard a lot of positive buzz, but I didn't really know what the book was about.

The book is well-written, but it is a tough read--it focuses on how a lie and a secret can poison a marriage and destroy lives. Not exactly a light read, but it does have a hopeful ending, so hang in there.

Dr. David Henry tells his young wife that their son is born healthy (true), but that his twin sister died shortly after birth ( a lie). When the baby girl was born, he recognizes that she had Down's Syndrome and orders his nurse to take her to an institution. The nurse absconds with the baby instead, unable to leave the baby at the institution. His wife drops into a depression, and he lies to her for the rest of their lives together, eventually poisoning the marriage so completely that they get a divorce.

The book is an interesting examination of what secrets and lies (under the guise of "protecting" someone) can do to a relationship, as well as a look at how people with Down Syndrome were treated in the 1960s-1980s.