Posted by: ThePseudotarian | April 4, 2011

Pasta Primavera with Ricotta Sage Cream Sauce

I love spring, don’t you? It’s such a welcome change after a cold winter, and this one was particularly bitter. I especially love it this year because of all the time and opportunity and space we have to enjoy the gorgeous weather. Last year, I was in love with my porch and that fluffy puppy sitting on it. This year, I’m pleased to say we’ve upgraded. So now instead of negotiating container gardens and hanging boxes, we’re trying to keep the full-grown beast-dog out of this:

She likes to dig …  =/

So this year we’re thinking more “big-picture.” What to plant? What do we eat a lot of? I’m all about some tomatoes, red peppers, red bliss potatoes, zucchini and beans. I picked up some adorable little strawberry plants a week or two ago, and now I want more! I think I’ll keep those in their boxes.

With this available space … what would YOU plant?

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Posted by: ThePseudotarian | March 22, 2011

Guacamole and la cucina!

Good morning!

I know I’ve been yapping my head off for months about the new house and the next kitchen. We’re almost in, I just have a million things to paint. I’m hoping that we’re in and functional by this Sunday so that we can start inviting good friends over on Sundays for HBO specials (and potentially dinner if I can convince everyone to eat my cooking) and cookouts and music-playing on Wednesdays.

Either way, I’m so excited for you to see the before and after of my apartment kitchen vs my new fancy kitchen.

Though, I don’t want to leave you without some yummy goodness, so here is a quick “recipe” for my favorite guacamole and a quick tip. Don’t judge people – work owns my life again! I don’t even have time to bold half the copy in this post like usual!

Guacamole

2 avocados
1/2 cup yellow corn
1/2 cup raw tomato, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Crushed red pepper flakes

salt

Scoop avocado from skins and place into a good-sized bowl and chop roughly with a knife into approximately 1-inch cubes. Add garlic to the bowl and mash the two lightly with a fork. You don’t want to turn these into mush, just break up the chunks a little bit. This is not a goopy guac’, it’s a loose, chunky, wants to get into your pants guac.

I’m sorry, I’m tired.

Stir in the corn and tomatoes along with salt and crushed red pepper flakes to taste. I recommend any kind of “scooping” chip, but hey – who am I to tell you what to do?

Also a quick tip:

I don’t like bacon. I don’t miss it, I don’t care about it, I didn’t eat it when I ate meat anyway. What I DO miss is the smoky flavor that comes from using it in other dishes. I believe I’ve found a WONDERFUL alternative …

Smoked Sun Dried Tomatoes.

Try them. Love them. Come back and thank me and give me your firstborn. Or a puppy. Your call.

Posted by: ThePseudotarian | March 10, 2011

Silky Smoky Tomato Herb Fettucini

EDIT: I reached the end of this blog post, re read and realized that I should give up trying to get this to make sense. Just so ya know, I already know that this post is weird. I’ve come to terms with it, and so should you. And thus this post should have been called, The Pseudotarian Gets an Attitude.

Can I make a confession? … Given my Mediterranean ancestry, it’s a bad one too.

I really don’t care for marinara/pomodoro sauce … or any thick tomato sauce really. I love tomatoes, and I’ll eat a big bowl of spaghetti if it’s served at dinner by family or a friend. But if I’m home alone or cooking for one, I will bypass pasta and red sauce 99% of the time.

While we’re confessing here, I also hate most olives. Holy hell I hope my biological mother and her side of the family do not read this.

I have theory, because in addition to my Mediterranean heritage (which is where my temper and gigantic head of curly black hair came from), I’m also half Irish (also accountable for my temper and black hair …).

Before I continue with my theory, please note that I make Italian and Sicilian food ALL THE TIME. However, I never make Irish food. Like never, never, never. I never bake soda bread, never had shepherd’s pie, I don’t eat meat other than fish and shellfish, and I avoid potatoes except occasional circumstances. I only eat colcannon if someone else makes it for me and I can’t stand potato pancakes.

My Irish ancestors …?

They… are … pissed.

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Posted by: ThePseudotarian | March 2, 2011

A simple sandwich

Ok, short post for a busy, busy week edition!

I don’t know about you, but when I have a craving for something … I am insatiable. For example, when I’m stressed out or really upset, or even just not feeling good, I want macaroni and cheese. Even salty fake macaroni and cheese. I just want gooey goodness in a bowl sprinkled with smoked paprika and crushed red pepper. Nothing gets between me and my awful mac and cheese habit (much to my scale’s chagrin – but I’m working on that! More on that next month).

Or the other day I was craving fish. I left my apartment at 10 pm just to find a filet of tilapia. I’m telling you, when I think I need something, it consumes my brain.

So why am I talking about intense, undeniable cravings in the context of “a simple sandwich?” Well, because for a week or so, all I’ve wanted out of life was, simply, the best sandwich ever.

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Posted by: ThePseudotarian | February 18, 2011

Enchiladas, cleaning out the pantry style

So I’m struggling with an internal debate right now. It’s a doozy …

Do I paint my kitchen right when we move in? OR … do I wait, and paint it when we’re less stressed about things like, say … how to fit the couch into the truck (by the way, it doesn’t).

This is not a matter of just painting some walls either, people. This is taking off ALL the cabinets, sanding, priming, painting. Painting the walls while the cabinets dry. Freaking out because I’m worried about the paint color. Crying. Making macaroni and cheese in the microwave because that’s what I do when I stress out.

I jest (mostly). I’m very much looking forward to painting, but I know the kitchen is going to be a big endeavor. That’s why I’m debating doing it when we move, or waiting. A big concern is that if we wait … I’ll just leave it in its sad, drab, olive-colored state for the next 10 years. Or however long we’re there.

I digress.

While we’re gearing up for gallons of paint and hundreds of trips back and forth between house and apartment, I’ve been trying to keep our pantry and food items manageable. This includes nixing that extra grocery trip for 10-lbs of potatoes because all I want is a bowl of porcini mushroom soup. It also includes attempting to eat as much of our stockpiled odds and ends as possible – pantry and fridge alike. So I’ve been trying to dig up recipes that use plenty of lentils, rice and beans, since I always have way too many bags of each in my pantry.

By the way, have I told you what I’m using for a “pantry” in my teeny tiny, awful apartment kitchen? A crappy old bookshelf.

Now, I hope you can see why thoughts of my beautiful, teal, soon-to-be kitchen have consumed my thoughts.

Ok, I’ll stop blabbering about my house. That I love.

Already.

Back to my pantry and my attempt to cook with it. Hey, it’s not an easy feat, people. I’ve been up to my ears in lentil soup lately, so I decided that I wanted to try something a bit different. Something a bit risky … something baked … and cheesy …

Enchiladas!

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Posted by: ThePseudotarian | February 15, 2011

Heidi Swanson’s Orzo Soup

Can you believe it’s February already? I absolutely cannot. It feels like just yesterday that I was driving down the highway to see my parents on Christmas morning. Regardless of my issues with time perception … it’s February and that seems so absurd to me.

We are just one month (ONE MONTH!) away from moving, so I feel like I should cram as many posts as possible into the next four weeks, because I doubt I will have time with all my planned painting and projects. Plus, the weather is starting to get warm and I see a lot of afternoons where I want to run home and walk the puppy instead of writing a blog post.

Additionally … my weird job (that I can only describe vaguely) is changing. That means a lot of training, and a lot less time to hop around the internet and write blog posts for you all to read.

Whew.

Sorry for that disjointed disclaimer for my possible lack of posts in the future. I DO want to keep this going, however, so I’m going to share one of my absolute favorite recipes of all time. Seriously! I make this recipe at least once a month, if not closer to once a week. I think you’ll find it’s a great way to … reset … after a particularly grueling week or a weekend of too much fun and celebration. For that reason, I often make this on Sunday. From it, I’m able to set the previous week and fun weekend behind me, and look ahead with clarity to what’s coming in the next seven days.

Oh, and it’s relatively inexpensive.

And healthy.

And variable.

It’s perfect with a sandwich and your favorite movie.

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Posted by: ThePseudotarian | February 4, 2011

Kale and Lentils and Fiber, OH MY!

I’ve fallen in love with kale recently. I’ve been hesitant about it for a while, because to me … kale was always that bushy, green, plastic-looking vegetable thing on the side of dinner plates that I schlepped to tables during my short career as a waitress in a steakhouse. After that, I’ve always been a bit hesitant to dive in to all the recipes I’ve bookmarked that feature kale. Massaged kale salad? Freaking terrifying.

However, I have not been deaf to all the health benefits associated with this tough, leafy green. Fiber and calcium as well as vitamins A, K and C. Plus, kale helps lower cholesterol levels and contains tons of antioxidants, anti-carcinogenic nutrients and anti-inflammatory nutrients. It’s really not hard to see that kale is incredibly, incredibly good for you.

But I was so scared of it! So tough and leafy. So reminiscent of my awful steakhouse job. So easy to use spinach instead.

Then the day came where this all changed. I was debating on which container of organic spinach to purchase, mostly on price. $4 vs $7, when I saw a big bag of chopped kale. Twice the amount of spinach, and half the price, and I decided I needed to stop being ridiculous and jump on the kale-wagon.

Since then, it’s been a torrid love affair. One that Matt is not as excited about, since he doesn’t exactly like kale in every dish.

Which is exactly what I’ve been doing.

I love it because not only is it full of great nutrients as I’ve already pointed out, but it also fills me up. When I eat a salad or soup chock full of this awesome leafy green, I don’t have any more desire to keep munching. Big perk … because I’m the ultimate 10-pm, makin’ a sandwich girl.

Lately, I’ve been going to town on some mac and cheese. It’s been cold, I’ve been stressed, and those yellow boxes of Velveeta are soooo easy. And so bad for me. Last night when I came home, I was craving fresh, clean and natural flavors. Something simple and filling, with a little guilty pleasure of (real) cheese.

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Posted by: ThePseudotarian | February 2, 2011

Winter Citrus Simmer Pot

Just a quick post today! I hope to try out a new recipe tonight, which I then hope to post tomorrow. However, Matt has had a rough week, so if he insists on slow-cooker lasagna … well, I just can’t say no to that man.

We’ve been distracted trying to get our apartment cleaned up and ::ahem:: acceptable to visiting eyes, since our pesky slumlord, er, landlord will be showing the place. Apparently whenever they damn well please, too. So, I hope they like 65 lbs of Border Collie, because she most certainly will like them. Adamantly.

Anyway, I wanted to share this quick idea with you, because I tried it last night with amazing, amazing results. Like I said, we’re trying to make our apartment look and feel nice for visitors, especially surprise visitors. One big chore was making the place smell nice. Let’s be honest, owning three cats and a dog can make our place smell a bit musty. We can’t open the windows because they’re painted shut (BIG frustration there), and also because it’s freezing outside. While perusing various home/garden/kitchen/craft blogs this week, I stumbled on an ingenious idea.

So ingenious, that I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t already thought of it.

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Posted by: ThePseudotarian | January 27, 2011

Slow Cooker Lasagna: A Love Affair

I know I said I was busy, and I know that I shouldn’t have time for posting TWO posts in one week. However, there’s a lull in my office and I’ve spent the past two weeks bookmarking hundreds of recipes from my new favorite site: TasteSpotting. I figured that if I had enough time to spend all day looking at mac and cheese recipes (yummm!), then I had enough time to resume posting on my poor neglected blog.

I also know I’ve been griping about my current food budget (HA! What food budget??), but I’ve started to adjust and learn to make some pretty good stuff with the meager means I have at the moment. And, if you haven’t noticed or if you live in the U.S. Virgin Islands (damn you!), it’s winter time. Winter means cold, cold weather. I work in a cold office, I live in a cold, drafty apartment building and drive a car with a wonky heating system. So I’m a cold lil otter, and when I’m cold … I want mac and cheese.

***Oh, and ATTENTION PSEUDOREADERS!!! I FINALLY learned what I was doing wrong with my goopy mac and cheese issues …

… so I’m totally able to make my own mac and cheese now. Stay tuned and be afraid!***

Anyway, so when I’m cold I almost always want mac and cheese. However, 99% of the time I eat mac and cheese other than homemade, I feel awful 10 minutes later and remind myself that this is why I gave up processed foods in the first place. Uggh. Unfortunately, sometimes you just need something warm and covered in sauce to get your blood moving when it’s 17 degrees outside.

Well, I do anyway.

So I’ve been bookmarking all kinds of comfort foods: casseroles, moussakas, panades, vegetable bakes, mac and cheese (I’m sorry people, I love it so much) and countless pasta combinations. Plus drinks, lots and lots of drinks, from mulled cider to an amazing dulce de leche liquor – which may or may not having something to do with the jar of dulce de leche sitting in my fridge. Keep your eye for THAT one, because it’s happening as soon as I get my hands on a bottle of vodka. One recipe really stood out while I was doing all this searching and drooling. Lasagna. Mostly because the only lasagnas I’ve ever had were from a bright orange box and burnt on the edge and frozen in the middle, at my university’s cafeteria or at the restaurant where I used to work (old, dry and full of suspect meat). Sub par to say the least.

Lasagna.

Sounds so delicious, but I’ve spent my whole life disappointed. I kept trying that stupid orange box, and I kept hating it. I didn’t go anywhere near my university’s version, and the restaurant version was always one of those that veteran servers warned me away from. So disappointing! I became determined to make my own. Except … it always sounds like a lot of work. A lot of precooking and parboiling. Oh and then it has to spend a million hours in the oven and by then I would have just crawled into a box of Velveeta and said, “Goodnight, moon.”

Enter the slow cooker. The beautiful machine that saved me from slaving over stock pots or turning down the heat on a stew every 20 minutes. Slow cooker … I love you.

And now I love you even more, because you brought this into my life …

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Posted by: ThePseudotarian | January 25, 2011

An apology, and a wonderful grain salad

Dear food blog,

I haven’t given up on you, I promise! But when I said things were busy in the Pseudohousehold … I wasn’t lying! Matt and I weren’t expecting to find a house so quickly, but we did. We close on March 15 and couldn’t be more thrilled. You should be excited too, since it has a wonderful kitchen, and I’ll be much less poor and able to buy good food again to experiment and cook delicious things.

It has a breakfast nook! Matt and I can’t wait to spend our evenings here, cooking and catching up on our day. I love how the fridge has it’s own compartment, so It’s not sticking out in the way.

We’ll be switching to electric appliances (unfortunately), but I love the extra counter space and the warmth. I can’t wait to start cooking here! So, you see why I’ve been so busy and so distracted, food blog. However, come March 15 when I have a real pantry and not a bookshelf, and full size oven, stove and fridge, we’ll be doing a lot more cooking together.

In the meantime, I want to finally share the recipe I made over the holidays. Our family celebrations can be kind of large, and many people have specific dietary needs and preferences. Matt’s brother and sister-in-law are vegans, our diet is plant-based, though we’re okay with eggs and dairy, our moms doesn’t like anything remotely spicey and his dad is meat and potatoes, through and through, and also a diabetic. So, sometimes it can be difficult to figure out what to cook. This recipe … was perfect. I found it in the archives on The Kitchn and did a bit of tweaking to make it suit my winter needs (and tight budget).

It reignited my love of pearl couscous and asparagus, and I discovered the special place in my heart where goat cheese now lives – figuratively of course, because otherwise that would be scary. For our holiday meal, we served the goat cheese on the side, making this vegan friendly. For the sake of price, season, ease and my own personal taste, I did alter the original a bit. And unfortunately, there were no Meyer lemons to be found …

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