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October 2008 Archives

Happy Halloween

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I was going to do a different post today, but it got bumped cause it is Halloween and all. Here are come cute little candies Mandi and I made last night and brought into work this morning. We also have more at home to bring to a party at Amy's tonight! Monday I will have some food and pics from that party. A few notes about the treats seen below. First off, this is most likely the only time you will see a recipe on here from Aunt Sandy. I don't hate on her like the rest of the internet, but at the same time I don't watch her(except to laugh at the tablescapes) and wouldn't make any of her food. That being said, she had a really neat idea for chocolate covered pretzel spiders Mandi and I just couldn't pass up. At the complete other end of the spectrum, the ghost idea is from Heidi at 101cookbooks. I honestly feel really bad nabbing an idea from her ubernatural arsenal and then dumping corn syrup all over it, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do as the phrase goes. If you ever read this Heidi, please forgive me! Also is it cool that we are on a first name basis?





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Pizza Week Plus - Wallpapers

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New round of wallpapers for ya! Some of these are pizza, but others are not. I thought this would be a good way to cap off the pizza posts so you can have some commemorative keepsakes. As always, a few tips. If you have dual monitors, remember to set it to 'tile'. Also, if you are new to the site, click the wallpaper tab on the left to see the older wallpapers. Comment and let me know if you are using any of these. Tomorrow it's back to business as usual! No more pizza!





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Pizza Week Plus - Leftovers

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Leftover pizza ravioli are a fairly new addition to our pizza making tradition that I am sure will be around for awhile because this meal was awesome. We took all of the leftover pizza toppings and stuck them into pasta dough and used the leftover sauce to eat them with. I can't take any credit, this was all Mandi's idea and I can't thank her enough cause it was really great.





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Pizza Week Plus - The Morning After

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Whew. Pizza week was fun. And now it's over. But as always, I have a few leftovers. What do you eat on the morning after a pizza party? The morning after a pizza party, I am always craving pizza! Why? Well because I didn't get enough last night. I was too busy being a host, firing an oven, mixing drinks, and keeping things under control to be able to actually stop and enjoy the pizza. The next morning I get to casually cook a breakfast pizza or two and eat them all. I am not going back out and throwing logs into the fire; I cook these in my oven. I have a few bricks leftover from the pizza oven building that fit nicely on my normal oven's top rack. These work as a pizza stone (if not better). I preheat my oven to 550 and wait about an hour for the bricks to be ready.





Pizza Week - Day 5: Party Pics

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"It's so hot. Burn your mouth.
Scar tissue. Make you go "ow!"
Cheese must cool and congeal.
Slice with a coke is a no joke meal.
It's a quick bite that can't be beat.
It's a pie chart that you can eat.
It's a done deal if you don't delete,
so bust the calories with the pizza beat.
No oregano bits in your pretty little smile.
Not even garlic bread. No Chi-town style."
-mc chris

If you haven't clicked on any of the links for the songs, please at least check out this one! Anyway, today is sort of unfocused. I have a bunch of random pictures from pizza parties we have had over the years that I wanted to post as a thanks to everyone we have had over and a cap to pizza week. Don't be sad about the end of pizza though, there will be leftovers next week starting Tuesday when I get back from Boston





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Pizza Week! - Day 4: Brick Oven

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"This was a Pizza Hut
Now it's all covered with daisies
you got it, you got it

And as things fell apart
Nobody paid much attention
-Talking Heads

Prepare yourself, I have a lot of pictures today, and you better look at every single one! I normally like to max out my posts at about 35 to 40 pics, but today I couldn't discriminate. I'm just so happy about my new oven! Honestly, if you have the space, you could easily make one too! It was just me and two of my friends who built this and none of us have any masonry experience. It cost me a little over 400 dollars (in Bermuda where everything costs more) and only took us a total of about 10 hours. The three of us got together after work once a week and worked for about 2 hours each time. About 5 weeks later it was completed. Honestly my two friends did most of the manual labor; I was the brains of the operation. I took lessons from my Grandfather who taught me a long time ago how to be a good foreman. Here are the pictures of the whole process. There's not much else to tell you other than that the end result is totally worth it. I would have liked to add insulation to the outsides, but I couldn't find the stuff in Bermuda and was also running out of money so I decided to just leave it. Because of this, it doesn't stay hot for almost 24 hours on only one firing like many brick ovens do. Had I insulated it, it would have taken a lot more money, and way more time.





Pizza Week! - Day 3: Grill-Oven

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"I'm hungry yeah
I said I'm starving yeah
I want some Pizza,
Coke and ice cream popcorn."
- No Doubt

Ahhhh memories... the old Webber grill pizza oven. I loved this thing. When I first moved to Bermuda, it didn't take me long to notice the lack of good pizza. Here, there are only two restaurants where you can get a semi-decent slice, but they are both sit-down, kind of expensive, and far from consistent. There is also one delivery place but their pizza quality ranks just below Domino's, and their price is about four times that of Domino's. Mandi and I quickly realized that if we wanted decent pizza, we would have to make it ourselves at home! So on that fateful day about one and a half years ago we embarked on a pizza-making journey and have been traveling down that road on our quest for pizza perfection ever since.





Pizza Week! - Day 2: Toppings

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"Where'd the cheese go? I don't know." -Ween

Our pizza repertoire continues to grow with each party we hold. It seems like at each go-around either me or Mandi will have a genius idea of something new we want to put onto a pizza. Here is a list of what we have so far. Just to clarify, every pizza on here except the last two use tomato sauce and the Italian blend cheese. Just because I don't mention it in the ingredient list doesn't mean it isn't there.

Two side notes: First, incase you are wondering about the two different kitchens in the pictures, these photos were taken over many pizza parties which spanned a move to our new apartment. And second, if you noticed that everything seems even messier than usual in the shots... don't judge us. I mean come on these are pizza PARTIES of course they get a little messy!






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Pizza Week! - Day 1: Dough and Sauce

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"I love the dough, more than you know. Gotta let it show, I love the dough." - Notorious B.I.G.


The big day has finally arrived... it's time to talk pizza! Mandi and I have really come to take a lot of pride in our pizza and so I wanted this post to be absolutely perfect. This has been in the works for quite some time. For months we've been gathering together pictures, subjecting our friends to countless pizza parties. When finally putting it all together I made the decision to do a full week rather than just trying to conquer it all in one post. Why? Well, I'd like to think that I have a lot to share with you guys about pizza. Trying to squeeze it all into just one post would be way too overwhelming and I'm sure that both you and I would probably lose focus pretty quickly. Now without further adieu, here it is, PIZZA WEEK! This week will be bigger than shark week, fashion week, and even best week ever! Today starts with the spotlight on dough and sauce. Please come back to read each installment of pizza week because I believe that this info is great and everyone can learn something useful from the casual pizza enjoyer, to even the most hard core pizzaiolo.



Servin MC's on a platter like a Baked Alaskan

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I wanted to do this recipe after the Beastie Boys post because that is one of the funnier food lines by them, and also because of the Adrock / Sara Moulton connection. Unfortunately, I should have tried Pannenkoeken instead because Mandi and I found out we aren't the biggest meringue fans. I thought I was eating an egg white omelet filled with ice cream and brownies. However, the idea was pretty awesome and I think I will revisit this recipe down the line with some neat altercations I thought of. I'm not marking this as a failure, because it came out how it was supposed to, we just don't like meringue all that much. If you flavored the meringue more heavily, or if you just like it plain, this dish was surprisingly easy and would be impressive at a dinner party. Most of it is do ahead except for whipping the egg whites which is easy. Even the brownie recipe was simple and the whole mess only cost about 10 bucks.




Beastie Boys - Foodies!?!?

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I've been a huge fan of the Beastie Boys my whole life, but never realized what big foodies they were until now! I had this idea last week and have spent a lot of time on it. I didn't foresee how much effort it would be finding all of these references and tallying them. I have now made the tally about 5 times and I am pretty happy with the totals. Before we start, let me tell you the rules I went by.

1. Brass monkey is sometimes a dance, but mostly a mixed drink. I only counted it as the drink.

2. I didn't count the generic "drinking", but any mention of beer or liquor was counted.

3. Things like the word juice for money or the word melon for someone's head don't count.

4. Fat Morton Jelly Roll is a musician, not a food.

Anyways, here I present to you my quest to collect every Beastie food reference, catalogue them by rapper, and discern who the biggest foodie is, and who the biggest drinker is. If you just want the results, scroll way down to the bottom. But if you are a fan of the boys, scroll through the lyrics and I am sure you will be laughing like I was the whole time I was making this. Normal food references are in black, while booze references are in blue. My comments are in italics, and there are links sprinkled all throughout. Some sites that helped me a lot were here, and here

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Guest Post: Beef Stew

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I'm working hard on tomorrow's post(do you like the Beastie Boys?), Friday's post, and all of next week's posts (do you like pizza?) so don't have anything to show you guys today! I was just going to skip a day, but as always the design team pulled through and sent me some pics of a meal they made last week! You know the deal. From now on it is not me talking, it's Kim. Unless you see italics, then that's me.

When it starts to get chilly, I start craving stew. I had a great beef stew last year at a little Irish pub, where they topped it with a puff pastry round. You break through the puff and all the flaky goodness crumbles into the stew making it a little thicker. It's like having a roll that is already dipped. When the temperatures here in New England dropped below 35 degrees, I decided to try to make it on my own. Unfortunately, when I actually had time to make it, it was the warmest weekend in October. No matter, it was still freakin' delicious... and now I have a freezer full of stew just waiting for me.





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FRANK-IN-BURGER!!!

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I was asleep the other night and woke up in a cold sweat. FRANKINBURGER!!!! This creature came to me in a dream and demanded to be made a reality. FRANKINBURGER!!! When asked the age-old question, the decision every man must make at a BBQ, there is a new answer. FRANKINBURGER!!!!! I really did come up with this in the middle of the night, but the next day I googled burgerdog and I did find that someone had already made one. Oh well, it's still a fun post. And it came out pretty good. Mandi was a disbeliever, but upon first bite she changed her mind. This tastes EXACTLY how you would think. Like taking a bite of a bacon cheeseburger, and a hot dog at the same time. FRANKINBURGER!!!!!! It's a hot dog dressed up like a burger for Halloween! FRANKINBURGER!!!!





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Brussel-Squash Mac and Cheese

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This wasn't very good, but I'm not calling it a failure. That's because the flavor combinations were great, but the final product was a bit dry and could have been much improved. I wanted to make a mac and cheese with fall flavors, and my mind went right to brussel sprouts and squash. I wanted to brown these veggies first so the mac wouldn't be a big mushy mess. My favorite way to eat brussel sprouts is the way heidi cooks them. I could eat a bunch of them like that as an after work snack or even as a popcorn alternative watching a movie (Realllly??? Yes!). I decided to start with this recipe, but crank the heat up so that they would brown but barely cook. That way in the oven they wouldn't overcook and still have some of that yummy brussel crunch. P.S. I'm marking this as vegetarian because you could easily make it with olive oil instead of bacon and bacon fat.





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Sweet Potato Chips

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We were both home on a rainy day scrounging around the kitchen for something to eat. Mandi found some turkey and decided to make turkey melts. "If only we had some chips" she kept saying. "Why don't you go out and get some chips" she finally said to me. Wasn't the point of all this to not go out in the rain? To not gear up in the whole pants and jacket wetsuit and drive the scooter in the pouring rain to the nearest store? I looked around and found a leftover sweet potato from our sushi experiments and decided to whip up some chips.  Sweet potato chips are all the rage these days popping up in stores everywhere. I don't like them that much, but these were another story. It took no time and was really delicious!




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Sushi Extravaganza: Part 2

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I want to talk more about the raw fish thing today. If you didn't see part 1, its here. Anyways, you would think in Bermuda that fresh fish would be plentiful, but in reality you only have 2 options. The grocery stores where most stuff is flown in and/or frozen and thawed, or from a dude on the side of the road with a cooler. The problem with the side of the road guys, is that they aren't there every day. It seems to me that every time I feel like eating fish I don't see them in their normal places. When I have other dinner plans, I pass 4 or 5 guys on the way home from work. The other problem with these fish guys is that I have personally heard from a source close to one of these guys that they occasionally fly in fish and pass them off as their own! So it isn't fully trustable. Today we are using raw tuna and raw salmon. The tuna is flash frozen to a certain degree that kills bacteria. It isn't as nice as fresh fish, but I can trust it. The salmon is fresh and local from the gourmet store here (a rare occurrence) that posts what is flown in and what is local. The fish dudes there are friendly with me and very honest about the day things are caught so I trust that as well. The purpose of this previous paragraph is really just to say trust where you get your fish! I have friends that often make sushi and have never had a problem, but don't take the decision lightly, have a trusted source.





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Sushi Extravaganza: Part 1

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I sort of wanted to make sushi for awhile, but hesitated for 2 main reasons. For one, I thought it would be kinda hard and not really turn out as good as it is in restaurants. The second reason was that I was worried about raw fish at home. I have cooked with "sushi grade tuna" before and I seared it, so I knew that stuff was pretty good but for some reason I still had reservations. Finally the opportunity came along and I couldn't be happier with how things turned out. It wasn't all that hard to do, and the taste was amazing. Far better then most places on the island. One way to judge how much we liked it was that normally at a restaurant we drench the rolls in soy sauce and wasabi. I found myself barely dipping these rolls into the sauce because the taste alone was just so great. Today I am going to show you the set-up, and the first roll. Tomorrow will be the 4 other awesome rolls we made!




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Fresh Olive Pasta with Scallops

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I had a heavy lunch yesterday, so I knew I wanted something lighter for dinner. Mandi and I started bouncing around ideas towards the end of the work day. I sort of wanted pasta, but lighter, so I wanted to make it. Also didn't want cheese so I thought it would be a good excuse to use seafood. Then I came up with the idea: wouldn't it be cool to have a black colored pasta to contrast with the white scallops? We hoped we could get squid ink at the store to color the pasta because generally that's what people use to make black pasta. At the store there was no such luck. The butcher/fish mongers response was actually to laugh and say "oh you guys, always coming up with some crazy request". We brainstormed for a bit. What if we put spinach and tomato paste, that might turn it black? We sort of decided that it would actually turn it a gross brownish. What about food coloring? I said. Mandi shot me a look. She HATES food coloring except for in cake frosting. She cried when she found out the flecks of different colored rice in Indian rice was made with food coloring. She didn't leave the house for a week when she learned the truth about red velvet cake. Suddenly it came to me. Black olives. The cool thing was that the flavor matched the flavor profiles we were going for with this dish. We grabbed the olives and headed to the checkout.





Shredded Pork Enchiladas

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I like enchiladas. Thursday nights is usually tacos for Mandi and I, but occasionally we veer into other tex/mex/southwest foods instead. Last Thursday we did enchiladas for the premier of The Office. I realized I never posted enchiladas here, so here it is! We must have been in a baking/layering/casserole type mood cause we made lasagna a few days later.





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Soft Pretzels

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Today's post kills 2 birds with one pretzel. The soft pretzel is here to herald in the first day of October (Oktoberfest), and to welcome the beginning of the division series in baseball. I think pretzels represent both of those things pretty well. To elaborate more on the pretzel, I have asked Mandi for a paragraph:

I've always been rather proud of my Philadelphia food heritage. You've read my slice. You've seen my cheesesteak post. if there is one thing Philly knows, it's food. In my opinion the two foods they do the absolute best are the cheesesteak and the soft pretzel. I could live on soft pretzels. Happily. The pretzel cart in the airport is the first place i run when i land home. There's absolutely nothing that makes me happier then a hot, fresh soft pretzel straight from one of their many pretzel factories first thing on a crisp Philadelphia morning. Recently I was home for a week visiting the family. I'd Estimate I had about three pretzels per day during that week. It was wonderful. Upon my return to this lovely island my body began to go through a soft pretzel withdrawal. I realized it was time to do something that Dan and I have been talking about ever since we saw Alton brown's on good eats. It was finally time to make soft pretzels.

Go Phillies!

-Mandoline




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