Monthly Archives: September 2010

New Recipe: Spaghetti Squash with Spinach, Sausage, and Tomato Sauce

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Yo homeskillets! It’s Friday Eve! I am so ridiculously happy about this, for multiple reasons. The first being that it puts me one day closer to my much anticipated trip to Pittsburgh, the second and third being that it has been a reeaaaly long week (extra vowels and everything.) I’m very ready for the weekend. So I know that I usually do “Things I Love Thursday” an well…Thursday, but this week we’re talking food; squash specifically.

Squash, in all it’s varieties, is one of my favorite things about fall. I get way more excited than is probably normal when all the speckled, flecked, smooth, bumpy, gnarled, and multicolored squash start popping up in the local grocery stores. BFFMandy and I have been talking about having spaghetti squash for a few weeks so I finally got down to business and cooked up a batch.

Squashes ready for the oven (Please excuse the stained cookie sheet).
Out of the Oven and Out of the shell  
This dish was super simple and easy to make. The longest part was the forty-five minutes it took to roast the squash. 
Spaghetti Squash with Spinach
This recipe is adapted from here
Ingredients
1 small spaghetti squashes (or 1/2 of a larger one, whatever look best/freshest at your grocery store)
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper, to taste
1/2 pound Italian sausage
1 bunch spinach (I used about 3/4 of a bag of fresh spinach)
1/2 cup of tomato sauce ( I used my favorite jarred sauce for time and ease, but use whatever you like)
Directions
1.) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2.) Cut squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and soft stringy center part. Place squash halves, cut side down, on a lightly greased cookie sheet. 
3.) Bake squash till done; a knife inserted into the squash should insert and remove easily with no resistance. Roughly 45 minutes to an hour. 
4.) Use a fork to scrape the squash into a bowl. Toss with Parmesan and fresh ground black pepper. 
5.) Meanwhile, cook sausage in a large skillet until no longer pink. Add the spinach and cook until wilted. Finish with tomato sauce and heat through. 
6.) Top squash with sausage mixture, garnish with extra Parmesan. 
This recipe makes about two servings; I’m taking the extras for lunch tomorrow (cause BFFMandy doesn’t eat sausage.)

Smiles. =)

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The Best Burger in Tampa Bay: Why I Love Five Guys

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Perhaps a better title for this post would be “The Best Burger in Tampa so far”, obviously I haven’t tried every burger in Tampa. I’m all for supporting the little guy, the independently run, the mom & pop, but honestly non of those places comes close to this burger. At least not in University/New Tampa area. I will throw out a disclaimer and say yes this is a chain/franchise and the experiences at each location are going to be different, but of the two that I have been to, the one on Fowler near USF and the one on Bruce B Downs in New Tampa, consistently turn out fresh, great tasting food, and have friendly well informed staff.
The number one reason to choose Five Guys when you need a burger fix is the…the burger. (Did you really expect anything else?) Five Guys burgers are hand packed and formed everyday from fresh ground beef. The burgers here miss that mass produced fast food chain burger feel and hit the backyard homemade family picnic feel. The burgers are always cooked to well done (restaurant policy) but I’ve never had one that wasn’t still juicy and tender.
The second thing to love about Five Guys is the toppings. The menu is limited to burgers, fries, and hot dogs; but somehow the options definitely aren’t lacking. There are something like 15 topping choices here ranging from the standard ketchup, mustard (yuck!), and pickles to the unusual jalapenos, BBQ sauce, and sauteed onions.I get cheese, pickles, and extra ketchup.

Burger!  

The other big highlight is the french fries. Cut fresh and double fried in peanut oil these fries are almost always piping hot. They come over flowing from a Styrofoam cup into the bottom of a paper bag; the same bag you pick your burgers up in (efficient). Add a little salt or Cajun spice, shake the bag to mix and you’re in french fry heaven.
Obviously there are things that could be improved on, they could toast the buns for one. That would minimize sogginess and disintegration (for those people who are topping crazy). Mostly this is my biggest gripe/only complaint. I like that the burgers are simple (or are as simple as you make them). While I like an Angus burger with mushrooms, onions, and arugula as much as the next girl sometimes I just want simple. Cheeseburger in Paradise…or at least in Tampa.
Smiles. =)

A surprise gift from my Grandmother!

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So I was all set to Talk about why I think Five Guys has the best burger in Tampa. I was formulating my reasons and I even e-mail my crappy camera phone pictures to myself so that I could compress/resize them (cause who knew that the pictures from a tiny cellphone camera are actually GINORMOUS).
That was the plan until I got home tonight and checked the mail.I’m checking the mail way more religiously than usual this week because I’m waiting for a delivery from Coldwater Creek. So the keys for the parcel container were in my mailbox today and I was all sorts of excited (umm…hello most perfect jeans ever, please fit when you arrive.) It wasn’t my Coldwater Creek delivery, but it was a package from my grandmother/Grammy Morgan; my mom’s mom.
I got the package home and started opening it. I finally made it through all the tape and found a latch hook mat. See Below…

I called my mom, perplexed. According to MommaBear this is something I picked out as a young child. Not sure what I’m going to do with it yet, but I’m glad she sent it to me. I’m very excited that I’ll get to thank her in person on Sunday evening.

Smiles. =)

A Productive Sunday

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So all the things I told you I didn’t do yesterday, I did today. I did the laundry, vacuumed and mopped the floors, did dishes and cleaned the kitchen, cleaned/straightened up all the excess papers downstairs, had lunch with BFFMandy, dropped off a load of clothes at Goodwill, went to Barnes & Noble, got groceries/pharmacy items at Target, and started planning what I want to take to Pittsburgh. All in all I’d call today a success.

Tomorrow: Why Five Guys Burgers are the best in Tampa.
Side Note: I will be in Pittsburgh a week from today. So excited for vacation.

Smiles. =)

Another Saturday

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I had big plans for today. My goals included finishing my new slow cooker cookbook, going to Wal-Mart and Whole Foods, dropping things off at Goodwill, and doing general spring cleaning at home (though I’m not sure it can be called spring cleaning in the fall). To bad very little of this actually happened. I did make it to Wal-Mart, but I was feeling kind of clammy and ill by the time I left. I haven’t really gotten back to feeling up to par yet. I did manage to clear out some of the stuff on my DVR instead, I guess this means double chores/errands tomorrow.

Night. =).

On Food and Blogging

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Honest Moment #1: I LOVE food; and cooking, and eating, and baking, and basically anything that puts me in a kitchen.
My extended family is large and loud and very Italian-American; at least on the side that bolstered my love of food. I remember standing on a dining room chair to help my mother make lasagna from still warm noodles or roll peanut butter filling into balls for Christmas candy. That has carried over to an obsession with cookbooks and cupcakes and kitchen experiments that sometimes go horribly awry (yes, I’m referring to you Cabbage Debacle of 2009).
 
Honest Moment #2: I wanted to blog about food before I even thought about start this blog.
Months ago I talked with my Mom about wanting to blog about food. Work had been particularly rough and cooking/baking relaxes me. Mom didn’t quite get why I would want to spend my free time doing this. I was also worried and afraid. I am not a chef or any kind of a gourmet anything. I’m a home cook and one that is still learning at that. Do I know how to cook? Yes, but I’m not making kimchi or kefta or anything 8500 words in the name of the dish. I’m working on learning and sharpening basic kitchen skills; why on earth would anyone want to read what I have to say about food and cooking? So I let the idea go…
Then, over the summer I decided to start working on “The List.” The one I made in college of all the things I want to do before I die. So I started this blog; about my life and my friends and things I love. Thus far I haven’t talked about food much, the one post about cupcakes I made. That’s actually been quite hard; partially because I’m feeling domestic lately and I’m wanting to spend all my extra time in the kitchen or reading cookbooks and partially it’s because food and eating is such a large part of my life. I’ve been saying for a while I’m having trouble finding my voice and my point of view and I think it’s because I’ve been doing my best not to talk about the new pizza place near USF or the new cookbook I got today. So I’m going to stop avoiding it and embrace it.

Honest Moment #3: I still hate doing dishes.
The general equation of my kitchen time goes something like this: Idea(Mom+Google)= Eight loads of dishes or some equal awful and larger amount. Like potentially the entire contents of my silverware drawer or all my spatulas and slotted spoons. Sometimes this is enough to make me hesitate, but I usually charge forward anyway. That’s why there are dishwashers, right?

Here’s what BFFMandy and I had earlier this week (that was fan-fab-tab-ulous leftovers tonight):




It Chicken Cacciatore! My Mom always calls this Hunter’s Stew or Hunter’s Chicken. I made this in the Crockpot and it was pretty much the easiest thing on the face of the planet.

So here’s what you need:
Chicken
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Onions
Green Bell Peppers, seeded
Tomatoes
Garlic Salt

And here’s what you do:
Get some chicken (with the bones in and the skin on). You can use whatever you want or already have. For this I use a whole chicken that they cut up for me at Target.

Salt and Pepper your chicken on both sides.  
– Coat the bottom of a non-stick skillet with Olive Oil, again whatever you have is fine.
Brown the chicken on both sides and place in a lightly (and I mean super super lightly nonstick sprayed Crockpot crock. It’s supposed to be non-stick anyway, but tomatoes can be a pain to clean if they stick…we’ll get to that.)
Roughly chop all the Onions, Green Bell Peppers, and Tomatoes. This should be a fairly rough chop; you want the vegetables to stand up to the long cooking time and not cook away or into mush. You can also add other vegetable like carrots or mushrooms if you have them. There are purposefully no specific amounts for this recipe because you can shrink or grow it very easily by adding an additional chicken breast or extra vegetables. Use what you need to fill your Crockpot. For reference I used two medium onions, two medium bell peppers, and six small-ish tomatoes; just because I like the tomatoes best.
Place the vegetables over the chicken and sprinkle with Garlic Salt. Just use a little, the flavors will condense some during cooking and you can always add additional salt, pepper, or whatever other Italian spices you like at the end.
Place the lid on your Crockpot and cook on low for 7 to 9 hours (I started mine at 7:30AM before I left for work and BFFMandy said it was done when she got home at 5:00PM.) Check it at the low end of the cooking time it you can, if the chicken’s done you’re ready to eat. You can serve the chicken pieces whole or shred the chicken. We served it over long spaghetti and it was fabulous. 

So that bring me to the end of my first post about food. I’m not sure yet that this will be a “food blog” but I will definitely have more blogs about food.

Smiles. =)

Things I Love Thursday: TV Edition

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I am a very lazy blogger. I really ought to start planning ahead, but until then I’ll just keep winging it. I didn’t have anything planned for this week’s “Things I Love Thursday”, but since today is the day of a zillion Fall TV premieres I figured a TV edition. So without further ado

My Top 10 Favorite TV Shows:
10. The Big Bang Theory. Hilarious. I love Sheldon.
9.The Vampire Diaries. Do not mock. It’s totally better than Twilight. It’s twisty and complex and angsty and I love it. Oh and Ian Somerhalder is all sorts of smoldery hot.
8. Castle. The mystery of the week is always more intersting than usual Law and Order type stuff and the chemistry between Castle and Beckett is just electric. Also Castle gets my vote for the world’s best TV dad.
7. Criminal Minds. It feeds my procedural drama addiction.
6. NCIS. I love law/cop/procedural dramas.
5. How I Met Your Mother. NPH and it’s crazy funny. Enough said.
4. Bones. The dynamic between Brennan and Booth is fantastic and the mystery of the week plotlines are more darn interesting.
3. Glee. I love this show. It’s funny, dramatic, a little preachy, and the music is fantastic.
2. Grey’s Anatomy. Oh soapy medical drama. I super stoked for the new season and the fall out from the season finale shoot-out. Side Note: Anyone else think Meredith looked a little like a cross between Mother Nature and Elvira at Christina’s wedding tonight?
1. Lost. I love Lost; like ridiculously a lot, like the season finally is still on my DVR and I don’t plan on deleting it. EVER. So I’m very sad that it won’t be back this season. I’m hoping that The Event will fill my sci-fi/mystery show need, but It will not replace my love for Lost

There are also a few new shows I might try and watch:
Lonestar
Mike & Molly
My Generation
Raising Hope
The Event

That’s all for this week’s “Things I Love Thursday.” Goodnight.
Smiles. =) 

Today is the first day of Fall; That’s not what this post is about.

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I am exhausted today.I don’t think I’ve been fully awake all day long; like literally from the minute I had to physically/mentally drag myself out of bed until now as am about to crawl back in. I partially attribute this to lack of sleep, but the larger issue is that I’ve been much more sedentary than usual (which is saying a lot, because I’m not entirely active to begin with). I can’t wait to get this boot off; I’m not saying I’ll all of the sudden enjoy exercising, but I’m seriously more likely to follow through with walking/jogging/going to the gym.
Smiles. =).