Sunday, February 8, 2009

Recipe catch up

We finally had somewhat of a winter thaw, yay! In the upper midwest, that means you can finally see the parking lots under the snow, and in the early morning hours you can listen for the glacier like cracking sounds of icicles falling off the tops of buildings and plummeting to the ground a few stories below. it his 45 degrees today! heat wave!

so, plenty of hearty easy to make dishes that provide plenty of leftovers to make the rest of the office jealous. (I don't know about you, but i nearly always take dinner leftovers to work for lunch, and i love it when people ask what restaurant my food came from)

Easy Red Beans & Rice
Might not be authentic, but's it's easy, tasty, and healthy.

one onion, diced
olive ol
1 tbsp minced garlic
3/4 cup uncooked rice
can of diced tomatoes
1 1/4 cup water
1 can red beans
1/2 tsp cumin
pinch of hot pepper flakes or chili powder
salt to taste
1/2 tsp cilantro

fry onion in oil till soft. Stir in garlic and rice, and cook, stirring, about a minute, until rice turns translucent. Stir in tomatoes and beans. Add in all other ingredients except the cilantro. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, 20-30 minutes or until rice is tender. Stir occasionally, adding more water if it starts to stick or burn. a few minutes before serving, stir in cilantro.

I make a lot of beany dishes, cuz I loves me some beans. but i know plenty of people who aren't into beans. they're into maybe, pasta. and bacon. so this one's for you.

Chicken Carbonara
(again, might not be all that authentic, but is easy, tasty, and somewhat healthy)
1 pound boneless chicken, diced
1/2 lb bacon
1 lb spaghetti
1/2 cup shredded or grated parmesan cheese
2 eggs
1/3 cup half and half
salt & pepper
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 heaping cup frozen peas, thawed

in one bowl, mix cheese, eggs, half & half, salt & pepper. In a second bowl, mix wine, broth, and lemon juice. Start boiling some water for the pasta. fry bacon in skillet till crispy, frying in multiple batches if you need to. sautee chicken peices in bacon fat until fully cooked. Deglaze the pan with the wine/broth mixture, and remove from the heat. Is your water boiling yet? toss the spaghetti in. While the pasta is cooking, the chicken can sit in the skillet for a few minutes. Chop the bacon, and that can go in the cooling skillet too. When pasta is done, drain and rinse, and pour into a very large serving dish. pour the egg/cheese mixture on top, and very quickly stir, to cook, but not scramble the eggs. stir in the peas, and all the meat and sauce in the skillet.

although it might get a little hectic while you're cooking, this dish is easily made with affordable pantry items. and the leftovers the next day? divinely awesome!

Not a ton in book news, only one recent review published:
Jim Hines' The Stepsister Scheme, a good book for teenagers, because adults most likely will find the whole thing terribly cliche.

The recent pile of library books includes:
Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma - good read, but more detail than I'm really interested in. I can see why my fellow foodies went nuts over this book, but honestly, for me, it's just OK. i'm about half way through it, and it will probably go back to the library unfinished.

Gordy Slack's The Battle Over the Meaning of Everything - Erin Brockovich meets Church and State. Really, I expected this book to be boring. Who really wants to read 200 pages about a Pennsylvania court case involving a small town school board who wanted to teach intelligent design along side evolution versus a handful of angry parents? seriously, who cares about these peoples backgrounds, where their I.D. textbooks came from, and who paid for the lawyers? I care. and you should too. for a "boring" court case book, Gordy Slack kept it short, witty, educational, and utterly fascinating. I read this book in two days. for non-fiction, that's a record for me.

I've been buying books like crazy lately, plenty of good sales and friends of the library book days. new books to my collection include:
Went to a "Friends of the LIbrary" booksale today, all paperbacks three for a dollar unless otherwise marked. 35 cents a book? I more than that in late fines every month. picked up:

The Davinci Code, by Dan Brown
Blue Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
The Eighth Day, by John Case
The Broker, by John Grisham
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (a beautiful gold leaf edition!)
The Bean Trees, by Barbara Kingsolver
Animal Dreams, by Barbara Kingsolver
Titan, by John Varley
Night Watch, by Sergei Lukyanenko

that's enough to keep even me busy for a while. Did I mention i got another library card? now i've got 4. is that sad, or cool?

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