Sunday, November 14, 2010

To Tweak or Not to Tweak....

MOOD: hot chocolate & A Fine Frenzy - One Cell in the Sea

Really? Awake at 6am on a SUNDAY MORNING? After staying up until 1am after my hour nap at 4pm? Mark it down friends, as this is, indeed, a rare occurrence and dare I say...against all that is proper and right in the world. I a NOT a morning person, although I secretly desire to be one. I want to drink hot chocolate (coffee is for baking in my world) and do smart things like grown-ups do in the wee hours of the morning. I also desire smaller calves and to love running, to stop being salty with my last overtly selfish ex, and have an anonymous donor pay off my bills because I am a nice person...but you can't always get what you want.

When I get really pumped with a new idea, my mind becomes consumed with researching and implementing ideas. So, I woke up with visions of sugar plums dancing in my head for future blogs well before anyone should be awake on a lazy Sunday morning. Well, maybe Kate ( would be up for a crisp run, but no one else. Ok, maybe my busy-bee-sweeter-than-honey habitually industrious momma is up. For me, however, my day should not legally begin before 10am. After conventional means of getting back to sleep failed, I got my crusty-eyed foul-breathed naked self out of bed in hopes of purging this food for thought down the blog toilet. Can I bottle this up and save it for the impending writer's/cook's block?

Last week, after my decision to start my catering business, I decided it was time to start cooking all the recipes that I have been collecting for over a decade but have never cooked. A previous year's resolution to satisfy my intense need for organization was to put all these recipes in a tabbed binder and surprisingly, despite my defiance against wishful and rarely realized intentions, I actually did it. The second resolution was to cook one new recipe a week. Big surprise, didn't happen. My new venture has changed that lack of dedication to these masochistic tendencies. Of the times I have cooked new recipes, I have been sorely disappointed and either trash it or tweak it.

Ergo, spinach and brie-topped artichoke hearts from Simple recipe, takes no time to prep but costly to prepare for the result. The recipe calls for frozen artichoke hearts (which run just under $5 for an 8oz box), spinach (the least expensive ingredient with some lemon pepper), and brie (at least $7 for a wheel). I am a huge fan of MOST things mini and held high expectations for this little take on a spinach and artichoke dip. Sadly, it was reminiscent of a Boca Raton Early Bird special. I would suggest using jarred marinated artichoke (or fresh if you have the time and energy) hearts and a stronger cheese as well as garlic in the spinach mixture. Most of them were thrown away and I am unable to offer any redeeming words about the recipe except that it was easy breezy to prepare. Now, I do have a killer recipe for spinach-artichoke dip that never disappoints!

Other menu items that evening: Dijon-Wine-Marinated Roast, Garlic Cream Cheese and Cheddar Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Carrots & New Potatoes (yes, 2 kinds of potatoes - was using up the last of the bag for our Vegan guest), Steamed Green Beans, Mixed Greens (with feta, carrots, red pepper, and green apples) with Homemade Balsamic Dressing, and French Bread with Garlic Compound Butter. I will start out by saying that red meat and I are not the best of friends; I almost always do a less than stellar job cooking it. Good thing I eat it no more than once a month. One friend told me slow is the way to go, so I decided to cook the rump roast for a longer period of time after searing it to seal in the juices. Hours passed and the house was filled with the aroma of cooking bloody flesh and garlic, convincing my senses that it would be drool worthy. My friend Tony came over to watch football(eeew) before my guests arrived and, thankfully, was able to help doctor the tender but well done meat by adding more broth to the drippings and soaking the meat in this wetness, then making a gravy to help mask any dryness that was not successfully disguised by his attempts. My mashed potatoes (affectionately referred to as death potatoes) are embellished with cream cheese and a huge crowd pleaser (bring your dairy pills, that's all I'm sayin'). I recently enhanced them with garlic compound butter but found that idea may have been a one-trick pony - it may have been TOO much. There, I said it. Sometimes, you can over-complicate a good thing. Carrots were al dente whereas I prefer them soft, roasted potatoes were fine, green beans were crisp. In the midst of the meat emergency, the garlic bread decided to take a visit south and become Cajun. It was banished to the front porch for the duration of the evening. Highlight of the dinner was Kate's caboose of super light and much too delish Chocolate Mousse with Cayenne Whipped Cream (idea: cayenne sour cream stuffed new potatoes). We laughed about how we've seen mousse spelled moose on a restaurant specials board. Much to my dismay, two dishes of the mousse were left behind and I had to put them out of their misery over the following days. What a shame.


  1. Oh, my favorite foodie, you need to put a picture of your beautiful face on your profile!

    P.S. My moooooooose was NOT the highlight; your potatoes are pretty freaking fantastic and you know it!


    I thought the bread outside was a door mat when I first went out there. :)

  2. Picture forthcoming. Laptop doesn't have the right program, blah, blah, blah.
    P.S. Gotta give props to the mousse!