Tag Archives: cooking

true blood

If you’re a fan of the True Blood HBO series, I know what you were doing last night–watching the season premiere. And I also know you can’t wait for the next episode. But maybe there is something to hold you over…how about a True Blood cookbook? Check out what’s on the market.
True Blood: Eats, Drinks, and Bites from Bon Temps

True Blood Drinks and Bites

weathering the storm

Monday Hurricane Sandy hit New York State, and I said goodbye to my internet, and house phone, and cable television, and electricity and cell phone service until today, Thursday. How did we weather the storm? Pretty well, actually, although it was mega-stressful and I’m pretty sure I gained a few pounds. Running the generator a few hours here and there during the day kept the food in the fridge good, and our gas stove meant we could cook even when the generator wasn’t running.

PumpkincoffeeUsing up what we had in the house was kind of fun. We converted some beef leftovers and a can of beer we had here into a French Dip for lunch one day. And then turned the leftover juice from that into French Onion Soup, smothered in cheese with a hunk of bread. Chili leftovers became Chili Cheese Dogs with Sauerkraut another day. We picked up some corned beef and the remaining sauerkraut and cheese became a Reuben.

Leftover coffee from the morning became a tasty gourmet treat in the afternoon when I rimmed the mug with cinnamon and sugar, added Vanilla Stevia, Pumpkin Spice booze, lots of whipped cream and a cinnamon stick and I celebrated Halloween yesterday by drinking my own invented Pumpkin Spice Coffee.

Yes, the storm was stressful. We had some tree damage. The generator didn’t work perfectly. I had to drive to town once on Tuesday to work in the parking lot of the bank because I needed the WiFi. And again I had to get in the car and go in search of signal last night to download edits from my editor that I could see in my inbox but couldn’t work on through the iPad. But all in all, we weathered Sandy well, and ate pretty damn well too.

pioneer cooking

wineNot to infringe upon the Pioneer Woman’s copyright or anything, but I was in power outage hell for about 17 hours, starting last night about dinner time and lasting straight through past breakfast today, and although I’m sure I had more conveniences than the early settlers, it sure as hell felt like pioneer cooking.

My brand new, super Viking coffee maker didn’t help me today as I was standing with a candle in the dark kitchen at 4:45 am lighting the propane burner to boil water for tea, I can tell you that. My kingdom for a French press! But alas, I don’t own one, so tea it was for me until the power came back.

Though all in all–when I wasn’t worried that the thousands of dollars of salt water and tropical fish in our 4 tanks were going to expire without their filters/heaters running, when I wasn’t calculating exactly how much longer we could go without refrigeration before I had to toss everything in the 2 freezers and one fridge, when I wasn’t thinking that I really needed to take a shower but there was barely enough water left in the pipes to both brush my teeth and make the tea since we have a well–I really wasn’t doing too badly.

With the gas stovetop, I was fine to cook a whole bunch of things. Last night I had a pot of homemade chicken soup on when the power left us. I had a package of stew chunks defrosting for today (though really, everything was defrosting now, wasn’t it?) and I could have made Beef Stroganoff without the electric as well. And the chicken breast I had in the fridge could have easily been thrown into a skillet or cooked on my stovetop cast iron griddle.

No I didn’t have the microwave, or the electric oven, or the coffeemaker, but without the stress and worry, the candlelight and rangetop cooking over gas really wouldn’t have been so bad…but that’s only because I was smart last year and sprung for the iPad with the 3G connection because along with the lights, went the internet, and on my release day for Flanked, no less!

So armed with a glass of wine and my iPad 3G, I was able to sit in the dark and at least keep up with the happenings on Twitter and Facebook and stalk my best seller rank on Amazon.com.

All right, maybe it wasn’t so much like the pioneers after all…

Cat Johnson

red hot & blue chicken salad

Red Hot & Blue Chicken Salad

A Red Hot & Blue Signature Recipe:

I’m no chef but I do pride myself on my creative uses of leftovers, which is how this dinner came about. Hot wing sauce and blue cheese dressing makes this a great way to use up leftover chicken with all the satisfaction of eating hot wings. You get all the good stuff you’d get in a bar if you ordered chicken wings–the blue cheese dressing, the carrot and celery for dipping, and of course the tasty hot chicken wings, all on top of lettuce so you can pretend you’re being healthy! AND as I’m sitting there deciding what to name my recipe, it hit me. Red Hot and Blue–just like the name of my book series. It’s not often I can be both a promo ho and a foodie at the same time… okay, maybe more often than you’d think. But in any case, try this with 4th of July leftover chicken. Quick, easy and you’ll never notice you’re eating leftovers!

1 cup leftover cooked chicken, sliced to bite sized pieces

1 Tb Butter

2 Tb Hot Sauce (such as Crystal or Frank’s Red Hot)

Lettuce

Carrots, chopped

Celery, chopped

Blue Cheese dressing

Buffalo Hot Wing ChickenIn saucepan melt butter and add hot sauce. When blended, add chicken and heat just until warm.

With the remaining ingredients, assemble your salad (in either individual serving bowls for each person or one large bowl for serving family style). Place warm chicken pieces on top and serve immediately.

Note: You can add other salad ingredients if you’d like. I usually like to keep it purely chicken-wing themed, but tonight I had a cut tomato I needed to use up so that’s in there too.

Cat

sexy dieting?

I know being on a diet doesn’t sound sexy at all, but let me try to sway your opinion.

First, and most obvious, I know I will personally feel a lot more sexy once I take off these 10 pounds of winter/holiday weight I somehow mysteriously put on. Jeans that are snug to cup the booty are one thing, but jeans that are too snug because you gained weight are quite another. So there’s that, but there’s also this…when I’m on a serious diet I actually eat well. It sounds very strange but it’s true. When I’m not on a diet, I don’t take care of myself. I’ll eat last night’s dinner leftovers of spicy fried Chinese dumplings for breakfast while I’m checking my emails. For lunch I’ve been known to eat a handful of nuts, also while at the computer working. But when I’m consciously on a diet trying to lose weight, I eat like a princess. I food shop. I cook. I sit at a table. I plan menus. I make homemade soup and eat green salads with tasty and creative homemade dressings. Total turnaround.

Yes, being on a diet is a lot more work, and more money, and more time, with shopping for the fresh ingredients rather than scouring the old cans in the closet looking for whatever is the least amount of work. But eating right, and on a plate at a table, almost makes me feel like I’m out at a restaurant, out on a date.

That’s why I’m not too worried that as of March 1st, I am part of Romance Biggest Winners 2. It’s a weight loss competition comprised of romance readers and authors placed on teams to support each other to lose whatever amount of weight they want/need to over the next 6 months. Some of the girls are blogging their experience and I thought I might pop in here with an update or a recipe once in awhile. It’s a nice concept to have us band together in teams, since both reading and writing can be very solitary occupations.

Today, I’d thought I’d include the instructions for my new favorite quick healthy food, Arugula Salad. When I used to try to eat Arugula as if it was regular lettuce, I hated it. It tasted a bit like grass clippings when I tried to use it instead of Romaine Hearts in a salad with dressing. Then I saw a recipe on ABC’s The Chew for Arugula and tried it, and it made all the difference in the world.

Maybe the strong flavor of the Arugula needs the tartness and the acidity of the lemons. I don’t know, but my mouth waters just thinking about this salad. Give it a try. It’s so green and fresh tasting, I feel healthier just from eating it.

ARUGULA SALAD

Put a generous couple of handfuls of fresh Arugula in a bowl. Drizzle with about 2 tablespoons good quality Olive Oil. Squeeze in the fresh juice of one half a lemon. Sprinkle with coarse salt (Kosher or Sea Salt, I hate using fine salt on food) and fresh ground pepper. If I have grape tomatoes I’ll add a handful of those. That’s it. Perfect with a steak, or a crab cake for a light lunch or dinner.

Enjoy!

Cat

my favorite things: peppermint holiday coffee

It’s no secret I don’t like getting dressed in the morning. Hell, plenty of days I don’t get changed out of PJs at all. So all thoseCandyCanescommercials on TV that show the seasonal holiday coffee drinks with lots of whipped cream being enjoyed by happy people are pretty annoying because I’m not getting dressed and driving half an hour to the nearest Starbucks or McDonalds (who is apparently trying to compete with Starbucks for the gourmet coffee market).

Necessity is the mother of invention as they say. I wanted that tasty-looking peppermint coffee and I wanted it NOW! So I made one. I’d bought a box of candy canes a week or two ago to spruce up my kitchen Christmas decor and I happened to have a can of ready whip in the fridge. I had coffee, and the fixings I enjoy daily (Splenda and Cremora–I know, don’t judge, that’s how I like it). So I stuck a candy cane in my morning coffee, I shot it with a squirt of whipped cream (just for the visual of course…) and VIOLA! I was a happy girl sipping my peppermint coffee for no more money, and not many more calories than my usually morning brew cost me, and, this is key, I didn’t have to even go out in the cold to get it! My pajama-covered ass went no farther than my own kitchen with the heated tile floor so toasty on my happy feet.Peppermint Coffee

Since I have a new book release I’m promoting, another novel for my series I’m writing, and two other stories I’m plotting, coffee and not having to leave the house are both key components of my writer’s day, but I figure everyone can use this recipe. I’m picturing a holiday party, New Year’s Eve in particular, where the hostess can set up a large coffee urn, cups, sugar and cream, all as normal BUT add a bunch of candy canes, and a bunch of cinnamon sticks as stirrers, with some whipped cream guests can make their own special gourmet coffees.

Enjoy!

Cat

cooking, writing…same thing.

5684769_s copySo I’m cooking again. Not that I ever totally stopped but I sure avoided it. I love to cook when I’m inspired, and I hate it when I’m not. Hmmm that sounds a lot like writing. Exactly the same, actually. So last month I was inspired while writing A COWBOY FOR CHRISTMAS–first by the tighter that tight deadline imposed to get it edited and released before Christmas (a deadline I not only made, but I finished 10 days early!) But there is a price to pay, and I think I drained my well of creativity a bit, so while I eek out a few hundred words here, a thousand words there, on my currently WiP (Work in Prograss) FLANKED (Studs in Spurs, Book 5), I wait for the well to fill back up, and I cook.

I read my iPad app FLIPBOARD for food inspiration, and I get inspiration from Eat Something Sexy’s very own Amy Reiley (who FYI has a new cookbook release coming out next month!).

Anyway, I’ve recently made Spiced Rosemary Nuts (William-Sonoma), so easy and so impressive and tasty. I brought them to both a Friday Night Dinner with Friends as well as to a holiday party housewarming and they were a hit both places. I’m going to try Amy’s Hot Honey Nuts recipe from the monthly aphrodisiac newsletter that just came out a few days ago for tonight’s Friday Night Dinner with Friends.

The other night I made Roasted Carrot Soup (Food 52). It came out really tasty but more importantly I’m thinking something that colorful HAS to be good for you too. And yesterday, while watching that new foodie show on ABC, The Chew, I was inspired to–this is big so get ready–change out of my pajamas, go to the food store, and buy the ingredients for the Swiss Steak with Arugula Salad they made on the show. Anyone who knows me at all knows how huge it is. I rarely leave the house (or change out of PJs) unless it’s absolutely necessary, such as the horse is totally out of feed and is threatening to break out of the paddock and storm the house.

So yeah, I’m procrastinating writing right now (I even vacuumed in an effort to kill time) but I’ll get back to it, one word at a time. And in the meantime, I’ll keep my eye on the inspirational blogs of Food 52, William Sonoma, and our own Eat Something Sexy and hope the creativity spills over from the kitchen to the laptop.

Cat

got bundt?

There’s something missing in my life. I’ve known it’s missing for quite some time now. Decades actually. But I’ve never gone out and corrected the situation and now I’m feeling the need.

Perhaps it’s the $4.05 a gallon gas price I saw posted today that is making me nostaligic for simpler times but I think, after 20 1/2 years of marriage and 21 years of home ownership, I am going to buy my first bundt cake pan.

What brought this on? Well I was watching ABC World News with Diane Sawyer tonight (while checking Twitter and Facebook, investigating the rumor that my library has eBooks for loan, cleaning up some files on my computer and talking on the phone) and one story actually broke through my multi-tasking and caught my attention and I actually stopped all else and watched it.

It was a piece for an apparently recurring feature (that I’ve never noticed before) called the “Made in America: All Stars” series. Maybe I noticed it now because recently I saw a segment on another show where they went into a typical American household and removed everything that wasn’t made in America. There was nothing left. Not even the daughter’s American Girl Doll (which fyi is made in China). The show replaced nearly everything in the house with American-made products, but it wasn’t easy locating some items and I believe they couldn’t find baseballs made in this country–ironic, huh?

So perhaps that’s why this news story about Nordic Ware, a 65-year old, family-owned company in Minneapolis who has been making bundt pans since grandma and grandpa began in 1946, caught my ear. They didn’t  turn a profit for 10 years but they kept at it and the reporter said business has never been better than it is right now (sales are up 30% from last year). They attribute it to the poor economy. People can’t afford to go out so they are staying home and baking bundts? Perhaps. But I venture to say that maybe we’re all just looking to recapture what we perceive were simpler times.

They do say it takes 3 times hearing something for it to stick. So maybe between the Kiss My Bundt cookbook I’ve seen right here on the Eat Something Sexy site, and the poor family with the house emptied of all non-American products, now this Made in America bundt pan company was a case of “third times a charm”. Or maybe I just like cake. Who knows?

Cat

too many cooks in the kitchen

Yes it has become an expression and perhaps lost some of its meaning but Saturday night at our first Cooking through the Decades dinner with friends there truly were too many cooks in the kitchen, as evidenced by the vast and varied menu.

As I mentioned last post my friends and I, who gather weekly to share a meal, decided to add some flair to the get-togethers by creating a themed menu around periods in history. Though I hope we can skip out of order later and do a Colonial meal, as well as a Southern Civil War Era one, we began with the first decade of the 1900s. The menu choices were to be inspired by our personal heritages since that period in US history was the age of immigration and we chose Ellis Island as our theme.

So we had German, Irish, Italian, Jewish and Polish all represented in various mixes among us and here is the menu we served; once you read it you will see what I mean about the too many cooks because there was much too much food and way too many carbs, but perhaps that is my 21st Century sensibilities talking.

Drinks: German Beer, Italian Wine

Appetizers: Polish Kielbassa & German Knockwurst served with German Pretzels in a honey mustard dipping sauce. Italian Pizza Rustica, Irish Dubliner Cheese with crackers, Italian Olives

First Course: Jewish Matzoh Ball Soup

Main Course: Irish Shepards Pie, Tossed Green Salad w/ Italian Vinaigrette

Desserts: Jewish Chocolate & Raspberry-filled Rugalah, German Almond Pastry Puffs, Apple Kugel, and Raspberry Tart, and 2 boxes of assorted purchased Italian bakery cookies.

That doesn’t include the hot wings and fried chicken cutlets we also served to the children because they turned their noses up at our fare. So you can imagine the kitchen, every square inch covered in food. If you were one of the 3 people who actually logged in to our live streaming web broadcast you don’t have to imagine!

Anyway, we are going to do this again in spite of the “are you insane?” look I got from my husband last week when he heard it was a “themed dinner”. It will probably be in 2 weeks we’ll do the second decade of the 19th century, the theme being World War I. This time I am hoping we plan a tighter, more contained and less random menu. I have some of my cookbooks and old magazines out looking for popular drinks of the period and researching what foods were rationed because of the war. A book I discovered on my shelves, Vintage Cocktails: Authentic Recipes and Illustrations from 1920-1960,says that in 1914 “As World War I rages, the Martini is America’s number-one cocktail, known throughout the world as the symbol of all things civilized.”

So there you go. Perhaps I’ll pack an overnight bag for this one since we might be drinking martinis. You may want to tune in to the live streaming broadcast.

cooking through the decades

So you already know my friends a) like to cook, b) like to eat and c) are a little bit crazy. I think the next grand scheme, which will begin tomorrow night, is proof of all three. You see I was away and left them to their own devices for one week with nothing to do and a few bottles of wine, and ‘cooking through the decades’ was born.

What is this of which I speak? They decided to each week choose a different decade and plan a meal around the food popular during that time period, and somehow it morphed to also include the drinks of the period and the clothing. I personally think our friend Grace simply wanted an excuse to dress up, but whatever, it’s happening.

Tomorrow we begin with the turn of the century. The age of immigration in this great country of ours when the huddled masses poured through Ellis Island carrying with them their meager belongings, whatever name the overworked immigration official bestowed upon them, and the foods native to their homeland.

This project has taken on a life of its own and tomorrow I’ll be cooking and I suppose looking for some sort of babushka to wear. We’re hoping to get a live cam up and running in the coming weeks so fans can join us for our weekly culinary travels through time. Hell, if nothing else, it should be entertaining!