Cure For What Ails You

February 24, 2008

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My relationship with grapefruit has been a bit contentious lately. Sure, it’s there for me day in and day out when I supreme it into ruby red wedges that perk up my morning yogurt. But it utterly failed me when I dusted off our ice cream maker on one of the shortest days of the year in hopes of a bright-as-the-summer-solstice sorbet. I quickly rectified the sorbet debacle with a foofy brunch salad that involved champagne vinegar, fennel and, of course, grapefruit. And it was fine and all. But, little did I know, all along, all I really had to do was add booze.

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Yes, these grapefruit margaritas—perfectly tart, tangy and tequila-y—were just the showcase for the most on-again/off-again citrus fruit of my winter. And they transformed what might have been a quiet February Friday night in into a fiesta. Good thing, because our Saturday night concert plans—tickets to which involved much Craigslist finagling and transportation to which involved a CTA bus ride across town—were canceled “due to illness,” according to a flier taped to the venue’s front door. Perhaps the band wasn’t getting its daily intake of Vitamin C. Might I suggest that these grapefruit cocktails would be just the remedy?

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

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Senior Moments

February 23, 2008

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Lately, I seem to find myself saying “You know you’re old when …” quite a bit. Take this week, for instance. We had an inordinately full weeknight social schedule. Between our Monday night dinner party, Thursday night Family Dinner and a concert on Tuesday, it was quite a week. To top if off, we had reservations on Friday at a new restaurant in our neighborhood and another concert slated for Saturday night. Apparently, we forgot to consult the month (it’s February, after all, and all I want to do is hibernate next to a blazing fire at home) and our age when we made all these plans.

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We probably wouldn’t have batted an eyelash at a rigorous life of leisure such as the one I’ve just detailed back in college or in the months that followed. But, these days, it was just too much. So, we canceled last night’s reservations and planned a dinner in. A fiesta in, I should say.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

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When I originally proclaimed Wednesday night to be “leftovers night!” I feared that Kevin would revolt. We had a lot of Leftovers Nights when I was growing up and they were usually met with reactions that ranged from mild groans of dissatisfaction to downright tantrums of refusal (those were the nights that Ali or I (why couldn’t we ever coordinate, I wonder, because it would have been a lot more fun together) would remain at the table until we ate two/three/four more bites. We’d be there for hours, in some cases. Funny, I have absolutely no recollection of how those stand-offs resolved themselves. Did I really eat the bites? Did my mom cave? I’ll have to ask her.

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Anyway, back in 2008, it turned out that Kevin was thrilled with the idea. He was delighted to heap a stack of leftover pizza slices next to a dollop of refrigerated-for-two-days risotto. He was more than happy to nestle in a few forkfuls of Monday’s chicken cacciatore (the clear winner among the leftovers, by the way). And, quite expectedly, he had no problem capping the whole thing off with a remaining wedge of chocolate almond torte.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

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Big news, folks. Those muffins you see up there? The craggley, rustic, scrumptious looking ones? Well, I made them. I mean, obviously, I made them. But I really made these. As in, I invented them. Sure, I’ve created other recipes, but they’ve all fallen squarely in the a-little-of-this, a-little-of-that category. Soup, salads, salsas. That kind of thing. But I’ve never created a recipe for a baked good before. So, I’m a teensy, weensy bit proud of myself.

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The idea of these muffins was born from a couple other recipes you’ve seen on this site. I wanted to draw on the flavors of the baked oatmeal I made over Christmas. And, since I made the whole wheat oatmeal pancakes, I’ve been excited to try the soak-the-oats-in-buttermilk trick in other formats. I looked in all my usual spots for a potential recipe but any that even came close to fitting the bill involved boatloads of butter and crates of sugar. That not being my style, I decided to blaze a new trail.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

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Chocolate Almond Torte

February 20, 2008

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Last fall, when one of my friends got engaged, I knew that we had to celebrate immediately. And, because it was an impossibly warm day in October, I figured we should make use of our deck for the festivities. (Good thing, because as it turned out, it was the last time we were up there before the winter hammer lowered.) Since it was a very spur-of-the- moment gala, we decided to do go simple: champagne (obviously) and dessert. The only problem was that I had about an hour to pull the whole thing together. So, I did the unthinkable.

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That’s right, when we were out buying countless bottles of bubbly, I nabbed the pre-made flourless chocolate torte sitting nearest the wine aisle at the store. It went against everything I believe in (read: everything I live and breathe to do; namely: cook and bake, etc etc). But I popped that sucker out of it’s complicated plastic container, plunked some berries down on top and called it a party.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

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