Monday, October 31, 2011

Evil Emeril's Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting


So, look.

I know this isn't the best photo of a cupcake, ever.

I made this cupcake on Friday and since then it's been in a container, nestled in close with its cupcake brothers and sisters. That doesn't make it any less delicious, though.

Here's the story of how these came about.

I went to Nothing Bundt Cakes for a Pumpkin Spice bundt to give to friends who just had a baby. By the way, have you been to Nothing Bundt Cakes? It's all bundts! Of all different sizes. And they happen to taste like crack.

So anyway, the pumpkin spice bundt was to die for, and ever since I tasted it, I wanted more. So when I saw Emeril's recipe in the November issue of Everyday Food, I knew I must make it. And so I did. And it ... is so ... good. Emeril ain't messing around.

Makes 24 at 292 calories per cupcake

Ingredients for Cupcakes (frosting recipe below)


  • ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Cooking Directions

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat 24 standard muffin cups with cooking spray or line with paper liners. In a medium bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree, buttermilk, and vanilla. In another medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and pumpkin pie spice. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium high until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down bowl as needed. With mixer on low, beat in flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions pumpkin mixture, until combined.

    Spoon 1/4 cup batter into each muffin cup. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. Let cupcakes cool in pans on wire racks, 15 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pans and let cool completely on racks, 10 minutes. (Store cupcakes in airtight containers, up to 2 days.) To serve, spread frosting onto cooled cupcakes.

    Cream Cheese Frosting

    In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat 12 ounces cream cheese and 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, both room temperature, until smooth, about 4 minutes. With mixer on low, beat in 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted, and 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract until smooth and fluffy, 5 minutes. Thin with 1 to 2 tablespoons whole milk if necessary. (Refrigerate in an airtight container, up to 1 day; bring to room temperature before using). Makes 3 cups.

     

    Friday, October 28, 2011

    Paper Culture Winner!

    Thanks to everyone who entered! You guys all had a really good chance of winning because there were only 15 entrants, hahaha...

    Just FYI to anyone who was concerned that their comment didn't show up -- don't worry, I got it. Intense Debate and Blogger sometimes act like little bitches, but all of the comments are emailed to me. Additionally, when Intense Debate stops working, there is still a log of comments on the Intense Debate site.

    Enough of that boring shit. 

    The winner is ...

    Vanessa from The Voyage of V!

    I love Vanessa's blog. She always has the most beautiful photos. I'll email you the voucher code, V!

    (BTW I had taped a video of me choosing the winner to ensure fairness, but I couldn't make audio sync with video, which is one of my hugest peeves ever. I refuse to post anything that's not synced. Sorry dudes!)





    Thursday, October 27, 2011

    Food flops!

    So you know how every now and then I post recipes that turn out well?

    It used to be that I'd just post any new recipe I'd tried to the blog, regardless of how it turned out. And then I decided: If something tastes crappy, I just won't post it. A novel idea, no?

    So then I was thinking about that some more, and decided: How about when a recipe is a flop, I combine it with other recipes that are flops and post their photos on the blog? That idea amused me, and as we all know, it's obviously all about what amuses me.

    This may be the making of a new feature! We'll just have to see how many crappy recipes I try.

    So here are a few flops ...

    This one was something I called "Erin Surprise." Actually, any time I'm basically throwing food together in a mad scientist kind of way, I call that Erin Surprise. My mom used to do this and we called it "Mommy Surprise." Her results were similar to mine. Sometimes they were awesome, and sometimes not so much.

    I'll tell you what happened with this dish. The story goes: I made this dish once and it turned out AWESOME. It's got ground beef, bell pepper, basil, tomato paste, and some other junk I don't remember. So I figured: Super! I made an awesome thing. I will make it again and post it to the blog! And then I made it again and it tasted like poop. Good story, right?


    This dish should have been good, in theory. It contains several things I enjoy: Salmon, potatoes, kalamata olives. But I pretty much hated it, and my husband really hated it. It was an Everyday Food recipe called "Salmon and Potatoes in Tomato Sauce," from the October 2011 edition. I think I've decided that salmon needs to sort of stand alone on a plate, maybe with a sauce, but not mixed into a weird jumble like this.

    And then there was the coup de grace.


    Just looking at all these delivious veggies, I was really excited. So bright, crispy, and vibrant.


    Look how sad they are now. This was a green vegetable curry that turned out limp and lacking in flavor. Baby bok choy has many good uses, but this was a big bastardization of bok choy. I wondered if maybe it turned out so poorly because I don't own a proper wok, and too much water from the vegetables diluted the curry flavor. It's a possibility, but I'm not going to try this recipe again.

    That's all for now! I'll be trying a couple new recipes this week so it remains to be seen if they will be fabulous or floppy.

    Wednesday, October 26, 2011

    Crazy Cat People - The Christmas Edition.

    I got a couple of really irresistible offers in the mail recently.

    The first was an offer for a FREE Cat Snow Globe Ornament! I need only pay $2.95 shipping and service, with no obligation to purchase anything else. Let's take a look!

    This must be from my friend, Helen! Look, she left me a sticky note! She's right. These would look perfect on my tree!

    Here's another ornament. It comes in a FREE keepsake, custom-made box! This one says, "Cats are people too!" So true.


    Who could resist? These are ornaments from the esteemed Danbury Mint! They are intricately sculpted and hand painted! My free Cat Snow Globe Ornament is a $14.95 value! I can cancel at any time!

    So, look, let get realsies for a second. We all know these offers are tailor-made to trick the elderly, right? That is the precise reason why I still receive the magazines TV Guide, Biblical Archaeology, and Working Mother more than three years after my grandmother-in-law passed away. She probably paid for five lifetimes of subscriptions to each. This kind of stuff drives me batshit crazy.


    This is deceptive. *fist shake*


    Breathe .....

    Ok. This next offer isn't trying to pull any punches, it would seem. It's from the American Humane Association, the name of which is a little bit ... tricky. Because you might mistake it for the Humane Society. It calls itself "The nation's voice for the protection of children and animals." Whoever thought up that sentence should be flogged by an English professor. Specifically the chain-smoking, Diet Dr. Pepper-drinking one I had at state. I looked the Association up on the internet and their purpose and organization are fuzzy, to be kind.

    In any case, the AHA wants you to buy Christmas cards. They're not going to send them to you for free; you're going to pay $25 for 25 cards.


     Here are a few samples.


     And some more samples.


    Here's the only one I might consider buying. The thing is, if I'm going to send out a Christmas card with a cat on it, it should have MY cats on it. Or it should be REALLY funny. (Although I do send one pair of friends the same Christmas card every year, and it does have a picture of a cat on it. It's a long story. (What's up Catprick!?))

    Now, even though you ARE paying for these cards, you do still get free stuff! Oh, joy!

     Free address labels!?!?!?!?


     AND free decorative holiday seals!??!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! Stupendous.

    *sigh*

    I'm feeling a bit sad about humanity right now. I think I'll have some wine.

    Tuesday, October 25, 2011

    Butternut Squash with Shrimp

    It's fall, and thus time for gourds and such, as they say.

    Cooking with squash can be a pain in the ass, dudes. They're often hard to cut into, and then there're the seeds. Oh god, the seeds. Not to mention the rind. And then you've got to cook it until the cows come home because that's just what it takes. So it's not often that I'm going to buy a butternut squash and go to all the trouble of peeling, seeding, and cooking that mofo.

    But this soup is kind of worth it.

    It's a butternut squash soup. With SHRIMP.

    So yeah, basically this soup is twice as annoying as it has any right to be, because if you buy raw shrimp that hasn't been peeled and deveined yet, you're going to spend a good half hour doing that before you do anything else. Which is disgusting and annoying. And believe me, I looked for the peeled and deveined stuff, but it wasn't out there.

    ANYWAY.

     Here are the much-labored-over peeled and deveined shrimp, cooking in some butter. Yum. Butter.

    Then you take your shrimps out.


    Admire your handiwork. I did.


     Then you throw in some more butter, onion, and sage and cook that for a while.


    Then you throw in your squash, broth, and cayenne pepper. A little goes a long way with cayenne, yeesh!

    After this has cooked for a while, the recipe (an Everyday Food recipe, BTW. ALSO - did you see Martha's daughter on the Today Show? Sweet criminy that woman is out of her mind.) wants you to put half this concoction in a blender. That is utter dumbassedness. Just take your immersion blender and put it in the pot and blend as much as you want. Frankly, I don't like a lot of squash chunks in my soup, so I blended most of it. It was the bomb. Oh, you throw some sour cream in there as some point, too.

    And then you throw your shrimp back in, make sure it has enough salt, and then ... 


     Yummy.

    It's really good. Now, if we're measuring by my husband's standards, he's not a huge fan of butternut squash in general, so he's not going to be the best judge of this recipe. BUT he did throw some tobasco sauce in his and he liked that quite a bit. I think this recipe would go well with some garlic bread and chardonnay. I also think you could leave the shrimp out and it'd be a very serviceable butternut squash soup.

    Now here's something shocking: The recipe is up on the Everyday Food site. So you can just click here to get it! Warning -- as of this moment the picture accompanying the recipe is wrong. It's showing some weird salmon concoction. But the recipe and directions are correct. Enjoy!





    Monday, October 24, 2011

    Paper Culture giveaway (and general fawning over Paper Culture)

    I've been remiss, guys. I met Paper Culture co-founder Christopher Wu at BlogHer, and he gave me a $50 voucher for a giveaway on my blog. That was early August, and here were are in late October and the voucher expires next month and aaaaaaaaaaaaccccckkkk.

    So anyway. I loved Paper Culture the minute I set my eyes on its products. They make absolutely gorgeous cards for whatever occasion you want -- holidays, invitations, announcements -- and the kicker is that the cards and envelopes are all made of 100% post-consumer recycled materials, and the company plants a tree in your honor every time you place an order.

    I actually just ordered a mess of baby shower invitations for my sister's upcoming shower, and yes I paid for them and yes they are fabulous. And they arrived in the mail super-fast.

    My sister's invite. There are so many adorable designs to choose from. 

    Here are some cards I picked up at BlogHer.

    This voucher card just shows all the possibilities -- Christmas cards, birthday invitations, save-the-dates, birth announcements, etc.



     Love this quote: "I lived to write, and wrote to live."



     You're welcome.



     Holiday-ish.








    All of the cards are on 130 lb paper and I can vouch for their quality.

    So the giveaway goes like this: I am going to give one lucky person a $50 voucher code to use on whatever you want from Paper Culture. Isn't that rad?

    What you should do: Leave a comment telling me what you did over the weekend. I like to live vicariously through others. One entry per person. No more entries after midnight Thursday, October 27, 2011 (Pacific time). I'll announce the winner on Friday!








    Wednesday, October 19, 2011

    Crazy Cat People - The Guest Edition

    Since I started this feature a scant three weeks ago, I've received a few photos of crazy cat things from interested contributors. So I figured, Heck! Let's have a Contributor's Edition.

    So for starters we have the Crazy Cat Lady action figure. When I saw this, I didn't believe it was a real thing. Oh, but it is. It's available for $9.45 from Amazon!

    Here is the product description:

    "Every town has a Crazy Cat Lady. She's the one who lives in a tiny house full of feral felines. This 5-1/4" (13.3 cm) tall, hard vinyl Crazy Cat Lady Action Figure has a wild look in her eye and comes with six cats.
    How many cats do you have? The Crazy Cat Lady Action figure has six to start out with, which is a little low if you ask me. She reminds me a little of an old witch that I was married to once. Warning Chocking Hazard! Contains small parts, not for children under 3."

    There is nothing I can say to make that description funnier, misspelling and all. Thank you, Aaron, for this one.

    *sigh*

    What can I say about this particular crazy cat thing, other than:

    FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, PEOPLE.

    This is also, unfortunately, readily available for purchase for $9.07 from Amazon. Here's more info from Amazon:

    Review

    “Intensely cute…”—Publishers Weekly

    “Quirky and the projects are super easy.”—
    OregonLive.com
    “It caught our attention.”—
    The Huffington Post

    Product Description

    Got fur balls?

    Are your favorite sweaters covered with cat hair? Do you love to make quirky and one-of-a-kind crafting projects? If so, then it’s time to throw away your lint roller and curl up with your kitty!
    Crafting with Cat Hair shows readers how to transform stray clumps of fur into soft and adorable handicrafts. From kitty tote bags and finger puppets to fluffy cat toys, picture frames, and more, these projects are cat-friendly, eco-friendly, and require no special equipment or training. You can make most of these projects in under an hour—with a little help, of course, from your feline friends!



    So I have to admit ... I am a little intrigued with the idea of making finger puppets out of the copious craploads of fur my cats shed. Except the idea kind of makes me want to barf. Not surprisingly, the author of this book lives in Japan and has two popular cat blogs that I will not promote here because 1) They're written in Japanese and 2) CAT-FUR FINGER PUPPETS. NO.

    Thank you, Katie, for that submission!



    Now this ... I know for certain this exists. This is almost definitely a photo taken from Parade Magazine or something similar. Maybe the coupon catalog that comes in the mail with the Pennysaver. Some crazy cat lady somewhere is looking at that and thinking: That yellow and flowered cat statue would look so delightful in my curio cabinet.

    By the way -- curio cabinets? Are for dedicated fans of certain things, or people who win lots of awards (maybe at cat shows!). I do not currently own a curio cabinet.

    Now, I've considered buying a cat statue or two in my time -- and I may own a cat statue or two -- but this one ... this one is actually kind of creepy.

    Thank you, Kelly, for this one!





    Monday, October 17, 2011

    Best new thing ever


    I often cook using recipes from magazines or books, because I'm not exactly original or naturally gifted in the kitchen. Normally I just put whatever recipe I'm using on top of the microwave or somewhere on the counter where I can find space. I can say with 100% certainty that every cookbook and cooking magazine I own is stained with the fruits of my labor. I don't have a problem with that, necessarily, but it doesn't keep the reading material in the best condition.

    Cue the most awesome cookbook holder ever invented.



    This thing can hold anything from a sheet of paper to a very thick book. It's got a cherrywood base with rubber bumpers on the bottom for grip. 


    And an acrylic cover to keep spatter of your cookbook! Here's one of my tiny Everyday Food magazines. I make that sweet-pepper rice with sausage recipe about once a month.


    Here's my paperback Betty Crocker cookbook, with the back acrylic panel adjusted one notch. 


     Betty Crocker is so informative.


    The Pioneer Woman cookbook, which is a hardback. I haven't made these twice-baked potatoes but you can bet your bippy I'm going to.



    Thing of beauty. 


     My Babycakes cookbook, open to the gluten-free, vegan donut recipe I have yet to try.

    Another awesome feature of this cookbook holder: It folds down and lies flat. 


    Perfection. So simple, and yet so effective.

    Nobody paid me to write this. I got it for my birthday and I'm over the moon about it. If you want one, it's called the Clear Solutions Jumbo Cookbook Holder. I think it makes a great gift for the chef in your life. I bought mine on Amazon.

    Friday, October 14, 2011

    Clap Clap Clap Clap Clap Clap! Accent Vlog!

    Have you guys heard of these newfangled accent vlogs that are making the rounds on the interwebs? I think I am really late to this party. But I'm here! Hello! I'm ready to perform, director!

    Here's the deal-io. You speak and then your viewers/listeners/readers are supposed to respond by telling you if you have an accent. I already know I sound like a complete ding-dong. I'm from California but I believe I occasionally sound like I'm from Canada or Texas. I accept myself the way I am. I also accept my double chin.

    More background on the origins of my "accent:" I've lived in California for almost my whole life, other than about a year as a baby in Oregon, and a very short stint in Florida on an internship. I got the hell out of Florida as fast as I could. Don't get me started about Florida. Anyway, my mom is born and raised in California. My dad grew up in the South and then moved to Bakersfield, CA, which is essentially an extension of the South. I have relatives from Bakersfield with thicker accents than my relatives from San Antonio, TX. I also lived in Sonora, CA, for a few years, which is sort of like living in Arkansas, if you consider the numerous toothless hicks and confederate flag tattoos. Maybe I talk like them now; like how Madonna thought she could have an English accent for a while.

    Couple of notes before I post the accent vlog!

    1) I am a ghost until about 8 seconds in.

    2) This is my first and only take. My cats again interrupt this vlog. Enjoy!

    3) Ginger's vlog can be seen here.

    4) The "clacker" blog can be read here (you have to watch the video to understand).






    Now that you've watched, you're obligated to say whether you think I have an accent or not! I know. Titillating stuff.

    And now, you are also obligated to do an accent vlog, too. Heh. Here are the steps: 

    Say the following words:

    Aunt, route, wash, oil, theatre, iron, salmon, caramel, fire, water, sure, data, ruin, crayon, toilet, New Orleans, pecan, both, again, probably, spitting image, Alabama, lawyer, coupon, mayonnaise, syrup, pajamas, caught

    Answer these questions:

    What is it called when you throw toilet paper on a house?
    What is the bug that curls into a ball when you touch it?
    What is the bubbly carbonated drink called?
    What do you call gym shoes?
    What do you say to address a group of people?
    What do you call the kind of spider that has an oval-shaped body and extremely long legs?
    What do you call your grandparents?
    What do you call the wheeled contraption in which you carry groceries at the supermarket?
    What do you call it when rain falls while the sun is shining?
    What is the thing you use to change the TV channel?

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011

    Crazy Cat People - the figurine edition

    The offer I received in the mail recently for a free Crystal Cat Figurine reminds me of an offer I got from a spam-telemarketer who serial-dialed me no fewer than 30 times last week.

    The telemarketer had a really awesome offer. She was gonna send me a $200 gift certificate to Wal-Mart, and all I had to do was give her my credit card number so she could charge me $3.95 shipping and handling to get the gift certificate to me. What a great deal! Since I just fell off the turnip truck, I obviously gave her my credit card information.

    Not.

    There were three problems with this telemarketing scam. The first was that I effing hate Wal-Mart. The second was that it doesn't cost $3.95 to send someone a gift certificate. The third was that THIS PERSON WANTED TO ROB ME BLIND.

    Anyway, I'm sure the Crystal Cat Figurine people don't want to rob me blind. I'm being genuinely un-sarcastic here; I really think the Crystal Cat Figurine people just want me to pay $2.95 shipping and handling, so they can send me my free Crystal Cat Figurine, which is worth $14.95, and is, of course, super awesome.

     What's not to love about these adorable Crystal Cat Figurines?


    I'm sure my own cats would not knock them off my free Wooden Collector's Display (it's true! Keep reading!) and break them into four quadrillion pieces.

    Here's how this "deal" works. They send you your free Crystal Cat Figurine and free Wooden Collector's Display (it's true!!) .... and then .... and then!!! They predictably keep sending you Crystal Cat Figurines! Which you are then expected to pay for, you silly maroon.


    Which means you will have then paid $59.80 for five ugly -- I mean, beautiful! -- Crystal Cat Figurines and a disgusting wooden box. Plus shipping and handling, of course!!


    There is the Wooden Collector's Display! Oh, geez. What an awesome deal. If I redeem my credit voucher, I can start my collection today! I have no further obligation to acquire any future Crystal Cat Figurines! I may never get this opportunity again! (They stress that last one in every single piece of junk mail I get.) I only have 14 days to respond before they send my adorable Crystal Cat Figurine to some other insane Cat Lady!!

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011

    That means I'm working

    I watched "The Shining" over the weekend.

    It's one of few horror movies that stands the test of time and remains truly creep-tastic to this day. There're lots of reasons for this. For starters, it's a Stephen King novel. Then, Jack Nicholson plays the lead, and he's simply genius in it. And lastly, this is a Stanley Kubrick film and he is known for obsessing over the most minute details and doing upwards of thirty or forty takes per scene. He would subject actors to whatever conditions he felt would make them perform better, and thus instructed the crew on the film to treat Shelley Duvall like crap for the entire time so she would feel hopeless and then portray exactly that emotion.

    If you haven't seen the movie, stop reading this and go watch it and then come back. This post contains a couple spoilers.

    So, there's this brilliant scene, when Jack's writing his book, which many of us know is just the sentence, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy," over and over and over again. Interesting fact: Kubrick hired a typist to type this sentence over and over and he recorded it for the movie to make sure it sounded like this sentence was being authentically typed.

    Anyway, it's a scene I think any writer can relate to. I'll put the dialogue below in case you're somewhere that you shouldn't be watching video. Enjoy! P.S. Some of the language is NSFW.




    Wendy: Hi hon! How's it going?

    Jack: Fine.

    Wendy: Get a lot written today?

    Jack: Yes.

    Wendy: Hey. Weather forecast said it's gonna snow tonight.

    Jack: What do you want me to do about it?

    Wendy: Aw, come on, hon. Don't be so grouchy.

    Jack: I'm not being grouchy. I just want to finish my work.

    Wendy: Ok. I understand. I'll come back later with a couple of sandwiches for you, and maybe you'll let me read something then.

    Jack: Wendy. Let me explain something to you. Whenever you come in here and interrupt me, you're breaking my concentration. You're distracting me. And it will then take me time to get back to where I was. You understand?

    Wendy: Yes.

    Jack: Fine. Now, we're gonna make a new rule. Whenever I'm in here, and you hear me typing, or whether you don't hear me typing or whatever the fuck you hear me doing in here, when I'm in here that means that I'm working. That means don't come in. Do you think you can handle that?

    Wendy: Yeah.

    Jack: Fine. Why don't you start right now and get the fuck out of here?

    Wendy: Ok.

    Monday, October 10, 2011

    Noodle-less lasagna

    All you really need to know about this dish is the following:

    My husband hates zucchini. This dish uses zucchini instead of noodles. And my husband loves this dish.

    I could not have been more surprised. But if you make this and taste it, you will totally get it. It doesn't taste like you're using zucchini instead of noodles. It tastes like a really delicious lasagna. And it has the benefit of being lower-calorie than regular lasagna, because you're not using pasta and there's less cheese in it; and it's also gluten-free. Just add this to my hallelujah-I'm-so-happy-my-husband-likes-this repertoire.

    Now, shhhhhhh. Nobody tell my husband this recipe title has the word "lamb" in it. He loves lamb and I do not, so I used beef instead. Still uber delicious. This is an Everyday Food recipe (shocking, I know), and you can't tell from the picture but each serving only has 316 calories (!!!!!!). Add a side salad and you have yourself a downright healthy meal.



    Ingredients! Olive oil, zucchini, onion, garlic, ground beef, tomato paste, tomatoes, oregano, ricotta, and parmesan.

    Word to the wise: I think you can use one fewer zucchini than this recipe calls for, unless you've got midget zucchini. Also, I think this recipe takes a bit longer than is indicated -- I'd give yourself an hour and twenty minutes to put this together, especially if you're drinking wine while you're making it.

    You don't use mozzarella in this recipe, and it turns out fabulous in spite of that. It's moist and wonderful. The flavors meld together in such a way that my husband remarked that this would be a good way to get a kid who doesn't like vegetables to eat some vegetables. Because it doesn't taste like vegetables, good sir.





    I am so going to make this over and over again this fall and winter. It definitely falls into the category of comfort meals.

    Once again, since this recipe is from the October issue, it's not on the web site yet, so I'll just type it in below ... happy eating!


    Zucchini, Tomato, and Lamb Lasagna
    serves 6 at 316 calories per serving. Word to the wise: my husband and I each ate two servings. Oops.

    Ingredients

    - 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for baking sheets
    - 5 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/4 inch slices (I found I needed only 4)
    - coarse salt and ground pepper
    - 1 yellow onion, diced small
    - 2 garlic cloves (recipe didn't say what to do with these but I sliced them)
    - 1 1/4 pounds ground lamb or beef
    - 1 tablespoon tomato paste
    - 2 large tomatoes, diced large
    - 1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves
    - 10 ounces part-skim ricotta (1 cup)
    - 1/2 ounce Parmesan, grated (2 tablespoons)

    Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Brush two rimmed baking sheets with oil. Divide zucchini between sheets; arrange in a single layer, turning once to coat. Season with salt and pepper; roast until softened, 15 minutes.

    2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion and cook until softened, 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add lamb and cook, breaking up meat with a spoon until browned, 6 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer lamb to paper towels to drain and pour off fat from skillet. Return lamb to skillet; add tomato paste, tomatoes, and oregano. Stir to combine. Cook until tomato liquid is almost evaporated, 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

    3. Reduce oven to 400 degrees. Spoon half the lamb mixture into an 8 inch square baking dish. Top with half the zucchini slices, overlapping to fit. Repeat layering with remaining lamb mixture and zucchini. Spread ricotta over top; sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake until sauce is bubbling and cheese is browned in spots, 20 to 30 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.




    Thursday, October 06, 2011

    The Commissioner

    So I would write a long, drooling, ecstatic, fawning post about how my husband was the officiant at our good friends' wedding on Saturday, but I won't. He likes to be anonymous in the blogosphere; I therefore never type his name or post his photo here.

    So I will just tell you this very short story about how, 10 minutes before we were supposed to leave for the wedding, my husband's brand new pants broke. Not the whole pants -- just two of the back belt loops. This made blood run out of my eyeballs and steam blow out of my butt. I bet you thought I would say "ears."

    I vow that the employees at the Schmens Schwearhouse shall pay. Oh, they shall pay.

    I had to sew those mothertruckers back together so that The Commissioner could wear his new suit. And I had only the wrong colors of thread, not to mention a real and frightening lack of know-how when it comes to sewing anything onto anything. The Commissioner would probably have been better off if I'd decided to use a stapler.

    In any case, I got those bastards sewn on, and we got to the wedding and when The Commissioner officiated that shit, everyone fell on their faces because they couldn't believe how freaking awesome it was. And The Commissioner smiled beatifically and waved like the pope and dropped his mic like Chris Rock. Just kidding -- there was no mic.

    And then he danced in his broken pants. Sober. And the pants held together. He is my hero. I pretty much love that guy.

    Wednesday, October 05, 2011

    Crazy Cat People

    It's time for the second installment of Crazy Cat People!

    You remember last week's cat flag?

    So, this week let's look at the additional available cat flags.

     It's Leprechaun Cat with his pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!!


     It's Uncle Sam Cat against a patriotic background of American flags and fireworks!! (There's last week's grumpy Santa Cat to the left of Uncle Sam Cat)


    Just in time for Fall -- it's Pilgrim Cat hanging out with some gourds!!

    Tempting, cat-crap purveyors. Verrrry tempting.