The Royal Wedding

When I woke up yesterday at 5 AM PST the Royal Wedding was already over. I DVRed it, though, and I was planning to watch it in its entirety over the weekend. Despite my plans, as soon as I turned off the alarm on my iPhone yesterday morning I eagerly pulled up the MSNBC website to see if they had any photos. That was the first time I saw Kate Middleton’s wedding gown. She looked absolutely gorgeous. I was afraid that because she was marrying an heir to the British throne that she’d fall victim to an over-the-top dress design that would completely swallow her up (like Diana did, honestly). But the sleek, sophisticated, Grace Kelly-esque gown that she chose was spectacular. I loved everything about it. Her tiara borrowed from the Queen and beautifully simple veil were perfect too. (Does anyone know why she carried such a small bouquet, though? I looked at photos from the wedding of another one of the Queen’s grandsons, Peter Philips, and the bride’s bouquet was enormous! Personal preference, I guess?) I recorded something like 12 hours of royal wedding coverage on BBC America yesterday and Dan and I watched the highlights of the arrivals, ceremony, recessionals, and balcony appearance of the newlyweds (fast forwarding through most of it). There were still hours of coverage left when we turned off the TV late last night to go to bed, but I’d seen everything I wanted to. I couldn’t help but smile through most of it because it seemed like such a joyous occasion. The bride and groom looked radiantly happy, sneaking glances and smiling at each at each other throughout the ceremony. I just couldn’t stop admiring Kate’s wedding gown, though. But Kate didn’t look better than me on my wedding day, did she? Just kidding – of course she did!

Second old recipe

Slow cooker chicken curry, take 2. Last fall when Dan was out of town I attempted to make chicken curry in my Crockpot for the first time using a variation of this recipe from A Year of Slow Cooking who I adore. (This recipe is also in her first cookbook, Make It Fast, Cook It Slow, which I own.) Even though I swapped other vegetables in for the eggplant and sweet potato, I left the sauce portion of the recipe unchanged. It smelled absolutely delicious while it was cooking, but I was disheartened when the result was incredibly disappointing. I couldn’t believe how bland the curry sauce was. I have a feeling my spices were getting a little long in the tooth at that point (especially my curry powder), so that was probably the reason my first slow cooker chicken curry turned out so badly. Since then I’ve invested in some new curry powder and other spices (although I need to break down and spend a small fortune at Penzys to get the best results) so I probably need to give that recipe another try. But until then, here is the result of my second attempt at slow cooker chicken curry. This picture next to this recipe in the copy of Slow Cooker Revolution I got from the library looked so beautiful that I had to give it a try. Unfortunately the dish I ended up with was completely different than the one in the picture. I couldn’t get the chicken breasts out of the Crockpot with breaking them because they were thin-sliced so I just shredded them and dumped the chicken back into the slow cooker. I’m sure that made the result saucier than intended, which may or may not have been a good thing. This chicken tasted all right, but not good enough for a repeat performance. I froze the leftovers because I didn’t want to waste them, but I think Dan and I are going to have to be pretty desperate before we break open that particular tupperware. Anyway, here is the recipe in case anyone wants to try their own version. I’ll let you know when I make the recipe from A Year of Slow Cooking again.

INGREDIENTS:
2 c diced onions
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ground ginger
4 tsp curry powder
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 c low-sodium chicken broth
3 Tbsp Minute tapioca
6 thin-sliced boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
1/2 c raisins
1/2 c sliced almonds, toasted

DIRECTIONS:
1) In a bowl, microwave onions, garlic, ginger, curry powder, oil, and tomato paste, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened, about 5 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker.
2) Stir broth and tapioca into the slow cooker. Season chicken with salt and pepper and nestle it into the slow cooker, turning to coat with the curry sauce. Cover and cook until chicken is tender, about 3 hours on high.
3) With two forks, shred the chicken into bite size pieces and return to the slow cooker. Gently stir in raisins and let sit (on the warm setting) until heated through, about 10 minutes. Serve on a bed of brown rice with almonds sprinkled on top. Enjoy!

Based on Curried Chicken Breasts from Slow Cooker Revolution.

Chez Melange

Last night Dan and I went to Chez Melange, a local restaurant in Redondo Beach that was hosting a guest chef for a charity dinner. Dan works with the chef’s wife so we ate at the table with his family and close friends. It was a boisterous affair that lasted more than three hours, but the food was excellent. I posted a picture of my delicious main course yesterday – now here is a complete menu of what Dan and I were served. Yum.

First Course
Salmon Quenelle Delicately Poached and Served with Shaved Asparagus and Mediterranean Orzo in a Rich Salmon Saffron Broth (yeah, Dan ate my serving of this one)

Second Course
Roasted Baby Red, Yellow, and Candied Striped Beets Salad, Fennel, Burrata Cheese, Candied Maple Pecans, Mixed Baby Greens, Sunflower, and Onion Sprouts, Kalamata Infused Olive Oil, and Pomegranate Balsamic Vinaigrette (this was absolutely delicious)

Main Course
My choice: Toasted Pine Nut and Panko Encrusted Chicken Breast in Golden Coconut Curry Sauce with Mango Pineapple Salsa (insanely good)
Dan’s choice: Hawaiian Butterfish Braised in a White Wine Tarragon Cream Reduction Garnished with Western Bay Scallops, Chopped Fresh Tomato, and Diced Mushrooms, and Finished Under the Broiler with Decadent Hollandaise Glacage (Dan really liked this)

Dessert
My choice: Old Fashioned, Down-Home Butterscotch Meringue Tart, Sprinkled with an Almond Toffee Crunch (not that great actually)
Dan’s choice: Bananas Foster Chocolate Bread Pudding with Salted Caramel Ice Cream (really good, much better than mine)

Simple end to a crazy day

Work was nuts today. By 2 PM I was literally banging my head against a wall out of frustration. Because I know I’ll be working a lot of extra hours next week I left a little early today to go home and clear my head. So far I’ve spent my evening cooking a small dinner for myself and baking a batch of brownies. Dinner turned out well (a new variation on macaroni and cheese that I’ll write about later), but I haven’t tried the brownies yet so I don’t know how they taste. The certainly smell good, though. I’ve been wanting to try this recipe for Fat Witch brownies for a long time so today I finally broke down and made them. I’ll let you know how they are when they’ve cooled down enough to cut. I was planning to go to a weekly gathering of food trucks in Signal Hill for dinner tonight, but the event was cancelled. It’s too bad because I really wanted to get a sausage from the Grindhaus LA truck. I keep wanting to use these evenings where I’ve got the house to myself to do some serious writing, but I find that I’m just not motivated when I sit down at my computer. I have a long list of topics in mind, but they seem boring and tedious when my fingers hit the keyboard. I really want to post something other than recipes on my webpage (although I’ve got several of them ready to publish), but I haven’t been able to write more than a couple of sentences on any other subject recently. It doesn’t help that my laptop crashed on Friday and I lost the Word file where I kept most of my half-written posts. I either need inspiration to strike or I need to get off my butt and do something exciting so that I’ll have a new topic to write about. Dan and I are going out to dinner tomorrow night (a local restaurant is hosting a guest chef) so that might be just what I need. For now it’s getting late so I’m going to get ready for bed. Sorry for this short and extremely uninteresting post. I really am trying to do better.

Twenty-second new recipe – Happy Easter!

Moroccan Beef Chili with Chickpeas and Raisins. I didn’t get any farther than the name of this recipe in the copy of Slow Cooker Revolution I got from the library before I knew I had to make it. Since I will have the house to myself tomorrow night I was originally planning to make this recipe then, but I decided make this for our Easter dinner/Laker game fare instead. It was definitely less stressful than making a slow cooker meal on a weeknight! Before I go into how much it sucked watching the Lakers lose Game 4 against the Hornets tonight, I’d like to say that the chili turned out magnificently. This recipe has become an instant favorite of mine and I know I’ll be making it often. Dan had two bowls so I know he liked it too. The chickpeas (which I ignorantly didn’t know were the same thing as garbanzo beans until yesterday), provided great texture and the raisins added a sweet element to the chili that set it apart. But it’s the spice combination that makes this recipe nearly perfect. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it. You really must try this recipe. Unfortunately the Laker game outcome wasn’t as great as the food. I gave up watching a few minutes before the end because the Lakers were playing so badly. I’m scared that they’re not going to survive this series, but I’m going to try to not stress about that until the next game on Tuesday night. Happy Easter everyone!

INGREDIENTS:
1 slice white sandwich bread, quartered (I used half of an onion roll left over from sloppy joes on Thursday)
2 Tbsp whole milk
1 lb lean ground beef
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 c diced onion (the onions I buy are HUGE so I just used 1/2 of a sweet onion and 1/4 of a white onion)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
2 tsp smoked paprika (the recipe called for sweet paprika, but I didn’t have any)
2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes (I used my favorite variety with roasted garlic)
1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 Tbsp soy sauce (I used low sodium)
1 Tbsp packed brown sugar
1/2 cup raisins
Zest of one lime
Juice of one lime

DIRECTIONS:
1) Mash bread and milk into a pasta in a large bowl using a fork. Mix in ground beef, salt, and pepper using your hands.
2) In a skillet, cook onions, garlic, tomato paste, paprika, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, and cayenne in oil over medium to medium-high heat until vegetables are soft and slightly browned, 8-10 minutes. Stir in beef mixture and cook, breaking up any large pieces, until meat is no longer pink. Stir in tomato sauce, scraping up any browned bits. Transfer skillet contents to the slow cooker.
3) Add diced tomatoes (undrained), chickpeas, soy sauce, and brown sugar to the slow cooker and stir to combine. Cover and cook on high for about 3 hours, or until the beef is tender.
4) Let chili settle for 5 minutes, then remove any fat from the surface using a large spoon and break up any remaining large pieces of beef. Stir in raisins and let sit until heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in lime zest and juice, and serve. Enjoy!

Based on Moroccan Beef Chili with Chickpeas and Raisins from Slow Cooker Revolution.

Belated post – Just another Friday night

This is the post I was working on last night when my laptop crashed. I’ve spent most of the afternoon resuscitating it, with only a small degree of success, but at least for the moment it’s functional and virus-free. Now if only I could access any of my personal files. Serious, they seem to have just vanished. I know that’s probably really what happened, because iTunes can still play my movies and TV shows, but the folders where those files should reside look like they’re empty. Very confusing. I’ll probably have to take my laptop to Geek Squad or something to see if they can figure out what the problem is. Until then, I didn’t want to waste this post from yesterday, even though it’s short and relatively boring. It’s easier than writing something new!

Welcome to another Friday night in the Feller household. Dan and I just finished watching Game 3 of the Lakers vs. Hornets playoff series and it was a spectacular victory for Los Angeles. That was fun. The Lakers have won two playoff games in a row now so let’s hope that momentum keeps them going for a while. I couldn’t decide between pasta and pizza for dinner tonight so I made both. I figured, why choose if I don’t have to? Since I didn’t want to go to the grocery store after work today I had to improvise by using leftover onion rolls as crusts for mini pizzas. Not too bad, actually! The pasta course consisted of an old package of dried tortellini from the back of the cupboard (which turned out to be really good) tossed with my old standby of olive oil, butter, sauteed garlic, and fresh basil. I’m proud of what I put together without a trip to the store, even if it was all Italian. Dan and I didn’t go to our usual ballroom dance lesson tonight because we got a call from the studio to inform us that our instructor went home sick. We’ll probably reschedule for early next week, assuming he’s feeling better. So besides the Laker game it’s been a quiet evening at home tonight. I kind of wish more was going on so I would have something else to write about. Not a whole lot is going on in my life these days. I keep thinking of subjects for posts when I’m at work, but when I get home and sit down at my laptop I can’t seem to get the words to flow onto the page, so to speak. Maybe I’ll do better this weekend.

Laptop fail

My laptop crashed while I was typing up today’s post and the solution is not forthcoming. I’m afraid this short blurb written on my WordPress app on my iPhone will have to suffice for tonight. So excuse me while I try to expunge the virus that is screwing up my computer right now.

Twenty-first new recipe

Who doesn’t love sloppy joes? When I was a kid a can of Manwich sloppy joe sauce and a pound of ground beef could be put together for a quick and easy dinner. However, now that I’m an old married woman I figure it couldn’t be too difficult to make sloppy joes from scratch. Well, kinda from scratch. I started with this recipe from Indigo’s Sugar Spectrum because it looked simple and I already had most of the ingredients in my kitchen. In fact, I only had to buy some ground beef and onion rolls, which made for a cheap weeknight dinner for Dan and me. I can’t speak for Dan because he didn’t tell me if he liked these, but I am a big fan of the sloppy joes I made tonight. The brown sugar made them a little sweet, but for something that went from ingredients to table in about thirty minutes I thought they were excellent. Dan did eat all of the leftover filling with some tortilla chips so maybe he did approve, even if he didn’t come right out and say so. I think this is a great recipe that is easily customizable for your tastes. I have a feeling I’ll be making these again.

INGREDIENTS:
1 lb lean ground beef
1/2 c chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp prepared yellow mustard
1 c ketchup
1 Tbsp packed brown sugar
1 tsp cider vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:
In a medium skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef, onion, and garlic; drain off liquids. Stir in the garlic powder, mustard, ketchup, brown sugar, and vinegar; mix thoroughly. Reduce heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes to allow flavors to mingle. Season with salt and pepper. Place meat on your favorite bread – I used onion rolls. Enjoy!

Based on Indigo’s Sugar Spectrum’s Sweet Sloppy Joes.