Some flavors need a warning label.

As Americans, we can expect a certain amount of warning for any sort of event that may occur during our day, significant or insignificant.  Examples?  Glad you asked!

Example 1: If you are ever going to receive a serious letter from the IRS, they (the IRS) will send you a “prep” letter, informing you that you will be receiving a letter from the IRS.

Example 2: You order Pizza Hut online.  Pizza Hut puts a nifty little tracker on your computer screen, notifying you exactly when the pizza delivery boy will be leaving for your house, so you can be sure to pause Star Trek: Voyager and be sure you have pants on.

Example 3: Perhaps the most pertinent example, if you’ve ever looked at the back of a can of mixed nuts, you’ll notice that it states an important warning: “CONTAINS NUTS”.  Just in case you happen to be an idiot.

Granted, the nut example is because of people having serious allergies, but my point still stands.  There are some things in the food world that need a damn warning label, lest they sneak up on me and try to trick me into eating them.  Case in point is Tones-brand “Vegetable Seasoning”.

I bought a little canister of this salt-free seasoning for obvious reasons.  I like vegetables, and I like seasoning.  The ingredients state that it contains dehydrated onion, dehydrated garlic, and…spices.  I hate it when spice containers say that.  It’s like grabbing into the Mystery Box of spices they didn’t know what else to do with.

So, I’m cooking up some veggies and reach for my new seasoning jar.  No sooner had I opened it when I realized that I had made a terrible mistake.  One of the “spices” alluded to on the back was…

Dill.

I can’t put into words how much I dislike dill.  I’ve never liked it and probably never will.  Thus, I’ve developed an irrational hatred for it.  I started cussing out the innocent little container, berating it for lying to me about its true nature, how it had smuggled it-that-shall-not-be-named into my home.

Dill needs a warning label.  Anything containing dill should have to advertise itself as such.  Same goes for coconut.  I personally love coconut, but people have very strong feelings about it.

There are just certain foods that people either love or hate, there is no middle ground.  Pineapple on a pizza, for example.  People either go nuts for it or despise it with every fiber of their being.  Same goes for black jelly beans, or the little brown chips in Chex Mix.

I’m beginning my List of Dangerous Flavors with dill, coconut, and star anise.  I’m working on a warning label.

Tasty chicken fajitas!

Finally, I cooked something to write about!

Fajitas are one of my favorite things to cook when company comes over for dinner.  Everyone can make their own and put as much or as little of each filling as they like.  Plus, it all cooks in one pan for fewer dishes!

Chicken Fajitas

  • 1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 large onion, sliced into strips
  • 3-4 bell peppers, sliced into strips
  • 1/4 C.  light olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp citrus juice
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp marjoram (or oregano)
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt

Extra stuffings: shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, black beans, salsa, rice

Thinking ahead bonus!
Another reason fajitas are great is that you can do a lot of the work ahead of time.  If you want to work ahead, slice up the chicken and veggies and store in separate, airtight containers in the fridge.  You could even store them in the freezer!  I would recommend double wrapping them with plastic wrap and tin foil to prevent freezer burn.  You can also mix up the marinade ahead of time, but don’t put in with the chicken for more than 1 hour.


Get out your biggest, deepest frying pan, cutting board(s), favorite cutting and slicing tools, measuring cups and spoons, and two large prep bowls.  If you use refrigerated tortillas, set them out on the counter now.

Using one of the prep bowls, mix up the olive oil, citrus juice (fresh lemon or lime juice works best), garlic and spices.  Use regular or light olive oil for this; there’s no reason to break out the good extra-virgin stuff when you’re just going to fry it up anyway!

Start with the chicken.  You’ll want to get it in the marinade while you’re cutting up the veggies.  Using your favorite chicken-dispatching utensil, slice up the chicken into fajita-sized strips.  Place the pieces into the marinade and stir to coat.

Using a different or cleaned-up cutting board, slice up the veggies.  Place them into the second prep bowl.

If you are planning on serving rice or beans, give yourself time to cook these before going any further.

Empty the chicken bowl into your gigantic pan.  Cook over medium-high heat, stirring often.  While it cooks, wash out the prep bowl with hot, soapy water. Cook the chicken just until it is no longer pink and breaks up easily with your cooking utensil.  Using tongs or a slotted spoon, place the cooked chicken into the clean prep bowl, leaving the juice in the pan.

Empty the veggie bowl into the pan and cook over medium-high heat just until the veggies are tender.  Return the chicken to the pan and stir well to combine.  If you want to heat your tortillas, do so now.  When everything is mixed and evenly heated, kill the heat and call in the hungry mob.

This also makes for delicious leftovers later!  You will be the envy of your break room, I promise.

Money-saving measures!
If bell peppers aren’t in season (read: expensive), try to find some that are reduced for quick sale at your grocery store.  If you can’t find any, try the freezer aisle.  There are bags of pre-sliced, frozen bell peppers available, sometimes marketed as a stir-fry mix.  These are usually less than $2. 

 

My love/hate relationship with powdered sugar.

~~~~~~~
It’s time.  I can’t hide it anymore.  I’m sorry, powdered sugar, but I have to get these feelings off of my chest.

I know we’ve had our fights, but I still love you.  I want to hear you call me “Confectioner”.  I want to be able to hold you, even with a black shirt on.  I love you, but you make it so hard to love you.  I just want you to know that.  No matter what I say or how often I threaten to throw you out, I’ll always come back to you.  Maybe when there’s a sale.
~~~~~~~

My tumultuous relationship with powdered sugar is well-documented.  I’ve sworn up and down on several occasions that I’m never going to buy a bag again, but I will always eventually break down when struck by a craving for puppy chow.  Puppy chow is really the main purpose of powdered sugar’s life.  It’s about the most delicious thing it can aspire to become part of.

It’s just so difficult to work with.  First of all, you never have enough in the cupboard when you need it.  Or, the portion you do have has taken on the smell of the baking soda box in the fridge.  If I put it in a container, I forget I have it until I’m looking for that particular container again.

Secondly, every time you dip in your measuring cup, POOF.  Like a mushroom laden with spores, the bag of powdered sugar coats you, your countertop, your floor, your cat, and possibly your car with a fine white dust.  Which you will never be able to entirely clean up.

Finally, the only thing it tastes good in is puppy chow.  People have tried for years to tell me that creaming butter or shortening with powdered sugar will make an excellent frosting.  I think they’re full of crap.  All I ever get is chalky-tasting butter.  That’s why the Lord gave us canned frosting and Cool Whip.

The sad thing is, as angry as powdered sugar makes me, I know I can never get away from it.  I’ll always think of puppy chow and the good times we had together, and I’ll go to the store and buy another bag, thinking, This time, it’ll be different.  I’ll remember to store it properly and I won’t get sugar all over everything.  And I’m always wrong.  I’m trapped in this vicious, powdery cycle and there’s nothing I can do to stop it.

The Wendy’s Caramel Frosty Shake wants to kill you.

Companies have a habit of using old tried-and-true, easily trademarked words to get you to try some new product.  See:  Star Wars.

Unwittingly laying the groundwork for your demise is a side effect of most fast-food options, but I felt somewhat duped by Wendys’ use of the word “Frosty”.   I was expecting something similar in taste, size, and price to a Frosty, but what I got was a regular looking  shake with caramel sauce and whipped cream on top.  But, it looked very pretty, and I had high expectations for it. I should have taken a picture of it, but the whipped cream was like a magnet for my face.

However, the taste wasn’t anything special, and I was also surprised that it cost $2.39 for a small 12 oz.  I didn’t even really want to finish it.

Then, I made the mistake of looking up the nutrition info.

Holy crap.

This little 12 oz shake has over 2.5 times as many calories as its 12 oz Frosty counterpart, not to mention fat, saturated fat, and trans fat.

Comparison!

Wendy’s Chocolate Frosty (120z) – $1.19
250 calories
6 g fat
4 g saturated fat
0 g trans fat
25 mg cholesterol
115 mg sodium
41 g carbs
35 g sugar
6 g protein

Wendy’s Caramel Frosty Shake (12 0z) – $2.39
680 calories
15 g fat
9 g saturated fat
0.5 trans fat
50 mg cholesterol
330 mg sodium
126 carbs
102 sugar
11 g protein

Analysis!

I reiterate: Holy crap.

So, you’re paying double the price for the same amount of icy cold delicious dairy-based product, but with major nutritional differences.  Don’t even think about ordering a large; it contains an insane 1,080 calories.

Then, there’s the comfort factor.  The original Frosty is like an old friend.  It’s always there for you, ready to cheer you up.  It says, “Go ahead and enjoy that treat, you deserve it.”  The Caramel Frosty Shake is like that bitchy girl from high school.  It wants to destroy you.  It wants you to feel guilty.  It wants to make you fat.  It wants to steal your boyfriend.  This is artificially-flavored psychological warfare, and I came ill-prepared.

I’ve found that if you want a rich, sugary, may-kill-you-someday dairy confection, the Arbys Jamocha Oreo Shake is a better buy.  It’s comparable in price and nutritional info to the Caramel Frosty Shake, but it’s 20 oz, as opposed to 12.  It’s big enough to share, and I recommend it.  It’s also way tastier.

So, that’s about it.  Watch out for manipulative dessert drinks in the future, no matter how much whipped cream they’re showing off.  You’ve been warned.

Testing out the Android app

Hooray! Now my phone can tell you about its adventures inside of my pocket.

Never trust a botanist when it comes to baking.

I was hoping to start off this blog with a nifty post about a wildly successful new recipe, but alas, my trust of botanists has ground my hope to dust.  Dust full of seeds.

What’s that, you say?  What happened?  Never fear, that’s what I have a blog for.

I acquired a big gallon-sized bag of red currants from my aunt while on a visit.  Their currant bush was being especially prolific this year, and I thought to myself, “Those look delicious!  I bet they would make great cobbler.”

Can you blame me? Those look delicious.

So, I picked them, cleaned out all the tiny stems and leaves and bad berries, started looking online for a base recipe to start with.  Since I’d never worked with currants before, I figured I should start there.

Enter…the botanist.

One of my good friends has a botany degree and is a very astute plant observer.  When I expressed that I was having a hard time finding currant recipes that weren’t jelly-based, he told me that currants are the same thing as gooseberries.  So, I changed my search to “gooseberry cobbler” and recipes sprang up like daisies.

I gathered the necessary ingredients, whipped up the cobbler and baked it.  My husband came home, asking about the delicious-smelling aroma.  I had to get ready to go to work, but I told him he could help himself once it had cooled.  Feeling very proud of myself, I headed off to work.

Later that night, my husband sends me an awkward text to inform me that the cobbler tasted good, but it was hard to eat for all the seeds.

Seeds?  What seeds?

I came home to see the evidence.  Apparently, each berry contained a seed about the size of a lemon seed.  My husband had dutifully consumed the cobbler while spitting out the seeds, but I was incredibly disappointed.

Only then did I realize that when my botanist friend said red currants and gooseberries were the same thing, he meant they were in the same genus.  Which is akin to saying that your 5’1″ ballet dancing sister is the same thing as your 250 lb linebacker brother.

Or that this...

...is the same as this.

Or the rare flying variety.

So, lesson learned I suppose.  It looks like currants are best suited to be cooked down into jelly.  Gooseberries have much smaller, edible seeds and are better suited for cobblers and pies.

Super awesome new blog!

Welcome to my super awesome happy blog!  Enjoy my fabulous adventures!