Thursday, April 30, 2009

Oklahoma Women Bloggers Meetup- HURRY!

Hey, if you’ve ever dreamed of being surrounded by 20-30 amazing blogging women AND if you also happen to be a blogging woman, you’re in luck. As a part of the national “Mom’s Day Out” celebration, a handful of some great okie women bloggers have organized a meet-up for us all to get together and hang and learn from one another. And eat, which is why I’m so there. The good news for me is that you don’t have to be a mom at all. Sweet. Your hostesses for the evening will be, Shannon, Christine, Natasha, Trisha,, and Courtney.

I know it’s late notice but you’ve got to RSVP by tomorrow if you’re going to attend!

When: May 7th at 6:30pm
Where: Hideaway Pizza on South Memorial
Why: Didn’t I just tell you???
How: $10.59 Go HERE for more info and to see a list of who’s gonna be there.
RSVP to melanie.nelson .

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mayhem in Miami...I mean, Mayville

Remember I told you I was assistant director for the next Miami Little Theatre play, “Mayhem in Mayville”? Huh? Well, I’m still the assistant, and now an actress in it, oh, and a stand in director since original director has now turned actor as of yesterday at 11:00 pm. Did I mention the play opens TOMORROW??!?!?! Mayhem in Mayville is a fast-paced, murder mystery where YOU have it in your power to determine whodunit. Seriously, you do!

Holy cow, directorship is tough work and I’ve only been a full-fledge one for less than 24 hours. Don’t let the craziness be in vain… come see our show, please. Pretty please. We’ll be ready. Yeah, totally. We’re totally ready. For real.

So, if you happen to be up thisaway, it opens on Thursday, April 30th at 7:30pm with shows on May 1st and 2nd at 7:30 and a matinee at 2:00 on Sunday, the 3rd. All performances are at the NEO Fine Arts Center…just look for the mad crowds and lines, of course. And, for two lucky people, if you respond IMMEDIATELY, I’ll give you free directions on how to get there. What? Sorry, I’ve got nothing to give but an evening of pure entertainment (and here’s hoping that the entertainment is all planned…)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Test Kitchen: Dijon Chicken

I decided to start a new test kitchen series where I will make recipes solely out of cookbooks I already own. You see, I have a vast library of cookbooks because I’m a sucker for food photography and anything food related. Plus, I’m pretty sure my mother-in-law buys them in bulk for my Christmas gifts. No complaints here….just a lack of utilization. No more book neglect from this foodie.
Well, I didn’t get off to a great start using said library…instead, I grabbed a magazine I had saved for some reason from 2002: The Better Homes and Gardens Special Publication for 100 Comfort Cooking Recipes. I probably saved it because that sticky roll was winking at me.

I haven’t exactly set the rules for this Test Kitchen business… I suppose I should have to follow a recipe exactly out of my stash but, rules are made to be broken. So, recipe 25 out of 100 was for Chicken with Pasta Primavera. It called for roast chicken and vegetables over thin spaghetti and all in this mustard sauce. The mustard sauce was appealing and I already had the ingredients on hand. Plus, I really like mustard. And, I really like Dijon. All those people staring into the mustard shop like it, too, but I'm not a dork like that. I drool from across the street.

Anyway, thus was born Dijon Chicken and I think it already has a devout following in my house (which is a testament to it’s yumness since I made it like a day ago.) Basically, I just smothered the chicken in the mustard sauce before roasting. That’s it. A no brainer!

Dijon Chicken ( Adapted from Chicken with Pasta Primavera- Better Homes and Gardens Special Publication, 2002)

Serves 2 ( assuming you eat 2 ½ chicken drumsticks a piece, I’ll probably make 6 next time…awkwardness, ya know?)

5 Chicken drumsticks with skin on
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard ( Pardon me, will you pass the Grey Poupon?)
1 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ tsp dried oregano, crushed
¼ tsp. celery salt
¼ tsp. dried thyme, crushed
A pinch of kosher salt (or, whatever, I just prefer my salt more coarse for this)
Fresh Ground Pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix mustard, oil, oregano, celery salt, and thyme together.
Smear it all over your chicken in a baking dish roomy enough for the legs not to be touching.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Bake for 30 minutes.

I like to broil mine for about 2-3 more minutes to get browned, but that’s because browned bits rock my world.

For a quick side, I made some roasted red potatoes which are a cinch. Just quarter some red potatoes into bite size wedges, coat with a bit of extra virgin olive oil, season to taste and bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. I seasoned with rosemary, salt, pepper, and smoked paprika (for a color boost…a trick I learned from Kay in the Netherlands.)

In the last 7ish minutes of baking time, I sautéed some asparagus in extra virgin olive oil salt and pepper in a frying pan. Put everything together and you have yourself instant comfort food pretty enough to even be company food! See, I saved that magazine for a reason, after all.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sushi Conspiracy

Everyone's been on our case lately about trying sushi. You see, we consider ourselves fairly adventurous with food but sushi just hasn't been on my list of things I aspire to try or even enjoy. Well, I do kinda wish I could magically like the stuff...I just don't want to put any effort into it. We had it once and were set for life.

Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure the sushi eaters of the world plot the demise of the non-sushi eating world. They even have quick one-liners to bring you down like, " I'm sure what you had wasn't very good, you really need to go to (insert name here)" or, "you maybe just don't know how to order, perhaps we should go togther ( this is so they can witness you in your misery.)" So, after the meetup with The Tulsa Digital Photography Group last week, we gave in....again... and met up with Tasha and the fam for another trial at Sushi Train in Tulsa.

To all with an affection for or affliliation with Sushi Train, please hear me out...I'm sure your sushi is grand. It was very pretty, fresh, and well-displayed.

It just doesn't get my juices flowing. Oh, and it made me feel a bit like my god-baby looked.

The kind staff at Sushi Train brought the kid some Chips Ahoy so he'd chill out...I sorta wanted to steal one but parents tend to frown on that sorta thing.

Either way, I had to bail. We promptly went to Jason's Deli and I got a good ol' baked potato with all the soft-serve I could eat. Lunch Rescue!

I've since relayed this tale to other sushi eating friends and you'll never guess what they said...

"Oh, well, where you really need to go is In the Raw. Next time you're going, give me a call and we can go together." And, since I'm working against a huge conspiracy here, you can almost guarantee that I'll be going. It's hopeless.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Frijoles Negros De Cubana

So, I have no idea if that actually says "Cuban Black Beans," but let's say for arguement's sake that it does. And let's also say that they're simple and delicious. And while we're at it, we can assume that they're authentic, too, right? Let's not go crazy, I guess.

How I arrived at this recipe was a bit of a see, we eat a lot of beans at this house and I'd grown up with a certain prejudice to black beans. My mom is a pinto loyalist to the core. Black beans were "Tex-Mex" and, as a rule, we don't do that stuff. Tijuana, yes. El Paso, no. So, I was feeling rather liberal and wanted to try these babies out. Granted, I didn't go Tex-Mex( which I'm happy to report, I've had and love) but I did stray far from the bean of my childhood.

Frijoles Negros ( Adapted from a five-star recipe on RecipeZaar found here!)

Serves 6

About 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 (10 ounce) cans black beans with juice (don't hate the cans.)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped ( sometimes, if I'm getting lazy, I use 2, 4 oz. cans of green chiles.)
4 cloves garlic, minced ( you know you wanna use the jar stuff...)
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar ( oh my gosh, use's amazing.)

1. Saute the pepper ( or chiles) and onion with the oil.
2. Add the garlic.
3. Add a bit of bean juice until everything gets soft.
4. Add the rest of the beans, all the spices, and simmer 30 minutes.
5. Add vinegar just before serving. Add a bunch. Then, add more. Yum.

We eat these over rice as a whole meal now...not the most gourmet thing I've ever done but sometimes it just hits the spot. I've made them as a side to roast chicken and I've actually made them on a camping trip, as well...they're so easy, especially if you pack the other ingredients already prepared. So, go try new things! Am I the only one with random food prejudices?

Monday, April 13, 2009

My Fave Four!

Well, well! I finally came through when I said I'd do something "next." Here are my fave four out of the hundreds of pics I took with the Tulsa Digital Photography Group!

I liked the tentacle things on this one and how they burst out. I call it "Burst."
This was an accident. I call it "Daisies in Black and White."

This reminds me of spiders which should work against it, but I still like it. Behold, "Berry Thing."

This little bee eluded me for twenty minutes. I finally got him. This is, "Bee."

Okay, less plants and more food, NEXT!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Tulsa Digital Photography Meetup Group

I don't pick up hitchhikers or stop when people are pulled over on the side of the road, but I sorta have a thing for meeting people online. In the age of connectivity, it's a bit odd that most or all of our socialization and touch points with humans happens in the space between our keyboard and their screen. Seriously, does anyone use the phone at work? I know I don't. So, when it comes to making flesh and blood friends, I tend to start with the net. For instance, my best friend Tasha of Tasha Does Tulsa???...yeah, we met on Facebook. No joke. She messaged me and said, "Hey, I'm an American Studies major, too! [Our mutual professor] says you're a very organized individual. Would you like to start an American Studies club with me?" I did. And, we did. Now, look where we are. I get behind the scenes access to all her Tulsa doing ( like this weekend at the Cherry Street Farmer's Market) AND I get her child in the case of her untimely death.

Anyway, since that particular online meeting worked out so well, I decided to try again. In case you haven't heard of it, is this cool new social networking site where you can organize and sponsor events based on anything that interests you. Type in your zipcode and away you go to meet others like you, ranging from people who get together to walk their pugs, to people who get together to read Eckhart Tolle. Seriously, if you like something, there are at least two others that would like to meet you. I met up with the Tulsa Digital Photography Group at Woodward Park on Saturday and it was awesome. They were so willing to help out a beginner and I learned a ton. For instance, I learned that I should always keep the neckstrap around my neck so I don't drop my camera ( which I threatened to do all day.) It's things like this you can't learn in a manual! Seriously, this group is rad. I will definitely be joining them for the next meetup. I'll post the fruits of my work next...

Thursday, April 9, 2009

"It's a Twista! It's a Twista!"

One of the many intrigues of Oklahoma to us "non-natives" is the existence of "meterologists." California has weather girls. Huge difference. Meterologists take their title seriously in this state, tracking any hint of percipitation or thunder in order to warn you at the exact moment your favorite contestant on American Idol is about to sing. It doesn't matter if the possibility of rotation is happening 100 miles south of you. They diligently perform their duties sparing no commercial break. I had grown to respect these meteorologists for a job well done. I mean, I assume their warnings help some people.

Tonight, they failed me.

ONE, I repeat, ONE warning flashed on our tv during America's Funniest Home Videos. That show comes on everyday and they repeat clips anyway. You can totally have at least two warnings, if you really wanted. But, no. One flash, and that was it. Good thing my cautious hubby was paying attention. Some serious rotation was headed straight for us and the lone warning didn't even have audio. I grabbed a quick pack of stuff I'm not willing to see fly away... my cats, my camera, my external hard drive, and my computer. Oh, and Aubrey. Then, we boogied over to our neighbor's house because they have a basement. Our cats love us.

By the time we got there ( within one minute) the sky had turned from light and mild to dark, rainy, and creepily balmy. I hate balmy. We went in and still, no warnings on the tv on any station. Oh, wait, here's some weather. Oh, wait, that's at the whole other side of the state. Wtf?
Our neighbors had a police scanner and we're literally listening to them saying, "sound the sirens now!," " roger that, confirm siren sounding!," "Rotation directly over Morgan Hills." Morgan Hills? That's a flippin half mile away. Still, no siren sounding. No radio coverage. No local news break-ins. So, while abundantly underwarned, we decided to use our own eyes.

Yes, we're those dummies standing in the yard when a tornado is going overhead. To be fair, there was no siren happening. There was even an amateur storm chaser parked at the stop sign right after I took this picture. However, it wasn't until it was past us ( to the right of this image) that the sirens started....about a minute later. That, friends, is a long-ass time to not be sounding a siren.

I got scared at that point and ran in, even though it was already past us. I missed a good photo op. Aubrey said he could see the full funnel tail. So, then I came out and I totally saw the sky rotating!

By the way, there's a reason storm chasers use video cameras. Still shots just don't cut it.

We went back inside when we couldn't see it anymore and, still, nothing on any channel. Finally, a station from Joplin, Missouri broke in, and, I kid you not about the events I am about to depict. The weather guy shrugged his shoulders and said, " I really don't know what's happening....this little thing here is moving this way...I think the warning will expire in (looks at his watch) a couple of minutes..." Those are direct quotes. And the crappy thing is, I have to give the dork props because at least he was doing something.

So, Oklahoma weather proved your point. We need you more than we need to know who died on [insert favorite show here.] Now get back to work!

HEY- Can you name the movie I quoted in the title? I bet you can.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

My One True Hate

Hey, Green Beans... You suck.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Chicken and Stuffing for Jen

Jennifer, my Colombian sister and bff from Cali, is a fairly high maintenance woman. She will settle for no less than the best. She’s a name brand junkie and she’ll probably laugh that I said “name brand” instead of “label.” She also gives me instant advice on anything I need to buy, from face moisturizer to under eye concealer…way cool. I like to remember that it was yours truly who first introduced the girl to makeup when we were in middle school, but hanging on to that fact has only become more and more lame over the years. Where she got the looks, I got the cooks. Sadly, my diva’s idea of cooking is very similar if not identical to re-heating.

She emailed me last Friday with a craving for her all-time favorite meal that my mom used to make us when we were little…chicken and stuffing. Delicious and incredibly simple, I’d forgotten that little miss high-class knows how to eat the good stuff. Chicken and stuffing is not company food. It’s not pretty. It’s practically all the same color. BUT, it’s “stick to your ribs” delicious and, if you swap out for low fat versions of all the ingredients, it won’t necessarily stick to your hips either!

So, it turns out, Jen is pretty easy to please. Of course, I’ve known that all along… 15 years of this and we’re still going strong.

For you, my love!

Chicken and Stuffing

2-4 chicken breasts ( basically, enough to fill a 9x 13 inch baking dish)
1 large can of cream of mushroom soup ( swap for 98% fat free for a good time.)
1 cup of sour cream ( or, light)
1 cup Stove top stuffing
1 cup hot water
Lawry’s season salt

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Place chicken in baking dish and season with Lawry’s season salt. Bake 15 minutes each side covered with foil.
3. Meanwhile, mix soup and sour cream together. Set aside.
4. Mix stuffing and cup of hot water together. Set aside.
5. Carefully remove chicken from oven and top with soup mixture. Smear it around so it blends with the chicken juices and everything is well covered in it.
6. Evenly sprinkle the stuffing on top of it all.
7. Cover with foil, bake 35 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 5-10 minutes, or until desired brownness of stuffing.

8. Devour with a side of mashed potatoes. Oh, and if you’re wondering if your eyes can still see color, garnish with parsley. Ta Da!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Cake Balls

I'm not a dessert kinda gal... partially because I can't bake and partially because I just don't have a sweet tooth. I'm made of more spice than sugar, I suppose. Anyway, I've been a total slacker lately at contributing to office birthday celebrations despite always eating my fair share. I figure it's time to give back. Office birthdays= dips or baked goods and I made dip two days ago ( I'm really making up here.) So, I venture into the world of baking, again.

I've been seeing cake balls popping up everywhere lately and I decided to try it out.

These were a lot more time consuming and messy than I planned. I still need to go scrub my kitchen. I think I've made up the effort now in office giving for the next two months. Plus, I lovingly fondled every ball, so that's gotta count for something.

I followed the recipe instructions found at The Pioneer Woman. And, even though they took longer than I planned, cake balls turned out to really be fool proof.

Here's what you do:

1 box of cake mix ( I used Devils Food) - Bake according to directions in a 9 x 13 pan

1 jar frosting ( I used cream cheese flavor)

Almond Bark ( I got two chocolate, one vanilla)

1. Once your cake is made, let it cool and then crumble it all up in a big bowl.
2. Mix in most of the jar of frosting until it makes a nice mush.
3. Shape into small balls. Pop in the fridge until cool and firm or in the freezer to save time.
4. Melt Almond Bark according to instructions.
5. Drop the balls one at a time into the Almond bark, spooning the meltyness over the ball. Scoop up in a spoon, tap on side of bowl to let the coating smooth out, and transfer to a wax sheet.
6. Decorate at will.
7. Refrigerate to help them set up before serving.
I used opposite colored Almond Bark to do some squiggles.

FACT: Not as easy as I thought that would be either. DECORATE FAIL! :

Anyway, I hope they're okay. I still haven't had one but I had to beat Aubrey to keep him from stealing them. He still managed to get five. So, I'm guessing they're good.