Thursday, June 11, 2009

Current Entertainment

Has most entertainment just gone down the tubes? I've been away from civilization for a while, but it hasn't been that long.

We rented No Country for Old Men. Sometimes it's good to go in to a movie not knowing anything about it. For example, I thought this was a western movie. It is not. It was scary with no music and hours long. But Tommy Lee Jones is funny.

Then we heard Joss Whedon singing on NPR. Apparently he has this online mini-show, Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog. It's worth watching mostly because it requires no commitment (45 minutes) and everyone likes Neil Patrick Harris (and evidently I like actors with three names). But Mr. Whedon, you are a man of significant success and many talents. Signing is not one of them.

I really wanted to see Star Trek in IMAX but it wasn't meant to be. But I was really, really excited to see it. The series kind of fizzled with me after the Next Generation, and my experience with the original series was pretty limited to a couple movies, guest appearances, and a long-gone display that used to reside under the planetarium before the remodel. It was such a good movie that I could forgive some of the original storyline changes. Some of them. I even hope they make more. So go spend some money on it!

Normally we stick to the Office and 10 Items or Less, but we gave the pilot episode of Glee a try 'cause our regulars are on hiatus. First: yes, that really is an eerily accurate depiction of high school. By the adults. The kids are over-dramatized and strangely balanced in diversity. Second: I've been out of high school just shy of 10 years. They've been good years. Don't particularly need to relive it.

Guess I'm just left with watching the last five minutes of the Lakers games.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Marble Spice Picnic Cake

My new office does birthdays a la the Office: once a month. Since this was my first potluck there, I wanted to make something extra special.

I've had this recipe and a new pan for a little while and the stars had finally aligned. For the record, this was my first cake made entirely from scratch! And no, I did not bring an entirely untested recipe in to the office. I skimmed a little of the batters and made a mini-cake for us to have for dessert.

The spice cake half is basically gingerbread cake. This would be great for Christmas!

The smooth looking outside is from the cake release. Next time I'd double the recipe since pans must have been half-sized in the 1930s! Also, I'd use egg whites. This probably would have made it fluffier, and maybe people would have liked it better.

I followed the directions exactly (I lied, I didn't sift the flour. I used pre-sifted all purpose flour and I don't have a sifter anyway). I also frosted it with some pre-made Betty Crocker whipped vanilla frosting because I was short on time and don't really like seven minute frosting, personally. It would have gone great with coffee, but my little cake was competing against a chocolate full sheet cake, and apparently people don't really bring sweets but rather savories like cole slaw, veggie/fruit trays, egg casseroles. Fine! I brought the leftovers home. :)

Crab Cakes

I have no idea where I got this recipe, but the more I think about it I think my mom gave it to me. Therefore my instructions are basically as detailed as I usually cook; that's to say, I use the "about right" method. These are so expensive in restaurants, and it's really too bad. They're not at all expensive or difficult to make at home.

First, warm up the oven. 400 degrees should be about right.

Then, start the sauce:

  • 3 tbs butter
  • 3 tbs flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • salt & pepper
Bring these to a boil for just a few minutes. Add the flour slowly and you won't get big doughy clumps. My instructions say to let it cool, but really you can go on ahead if you're hungry. This mix is good to know anyway - you can add some garlic or other spices and ta da! Alfredo sauce.

Then, make the mix for the patties:
  • 1.5 cups bread or cracker crumbs
  • 2 cups crab
  • 1.5 tbs lemon juice
What are those icky green things in the mix? Those are onions. I'm really in to green onions lately.

Next, grease up a baking sheet. And I mean grease. These will stick like no tomorrow, and the cooking spray will just barely fry the outside.

Throw them in the oven for about 10 minutes (no, I don't care where the rack is), flip them over, and cook them another 10.

Being the obsessive calorie counter I am, I submitted my recipe to SparkRecipes. This is why I don't use my own recipes and why I don't give them out. They're 40% measurements, 50% in my head, and 10% made up on the spot.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Chicken Parmesan

I like SparkRecipes so much that I even have them mailed to me. Daily. (And I collect points for getting them so there's a little ulterior motive). Normally they're not something I'm interested in, but when I saw easy and relatively healthy chicken parmesan ... that one got saved. We're talking about 400 calories versus 1,090. Ew.

To start, I didn't have any Italian bread crumbs and was not about to run out and buy some. But I did have bread, and an awesome food processor, and "pizza spice." As far as I can tell, "pizza spice" is basil with a little bit of oregano. It came with the awesome magnetic spice rack I got for Christmas, so your guess is as good as mine. One touch of the pulse button and voila! Instant Italian bread crumbs.

I didn't squish my chicken and the coating process was a little messy. Nor did I cook it in butter; I used olive oil spray. I actually kind of missed reading the cook-in-butter part.

This pan is too small, Goldilocks.

It took a little longer to cook because I didn't flatten out the chicken. Had I read the comments I would have baked it, but really cooking on the stove was just the same.

No daintily spread mozzarella on top for me. Full on slices on top, and underneath rainbow rotini. And a Chilean white wine to go with Bottleshock, the movie you can't escape when wine tasting in California. And rather cute, if you're in to wine.

Usually even my worst cooking comes out at the very least edible. In general it's good, if not pretty. However, when your husband mentions it more than once in the same week, you know that was something good.