Friday, October 30, 2009

Ode To Healthyca.

Often times I wouldnt put salads in the category of "cooking". Its really just having an eye for combining existing culinary elements. I live in San Francisco but my heart still yearns for all the lovely salads I ate while working at Warner Bros Records in Burbank. I am overwhelmed thinking of all my options! Mos! Healthyca! California Chicken Cafe! Oh My! Oh, my skinny minnie days.

After the gym I was determined to recreate one of my most ordered salads from Healthyca (a macrobiotic join in Noho) - "The Mediterranean Soy"with edamame, albacore tuna, grilled tofu, celery, grilled corn, tomatoes, carrots, garlic croutons, cucumber on bed of greens. I always ordered the lemon olive oil dressing....sigh...memories.

This makes me think of my old coworker Kathleen Philpott who worked with me at WBR, rest her soul. We shared that salad twice a week before she passed away. Memories.

I guess i forgot the corn and you know I despise celery....and carrots are kind of just filler :) so I added avacado! but I did throw some tuna and parsley and white wine vinegar (+mayo) to make the tuna topper.

Ingredients, Toss together!
1 Honey Sesame Baked Tofu (from Safeway).
1 Avocado
1 Can of Tuna (mixed with parsley & mayo & white wine vinegar)
Mixed Greens
Cold unshelled Edamame
Cucumber Shavings

Sigh. How I miss thee Healthyca!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hell Yeah I Made Butter


You're 9. Someone clothed in a bustle, a bonnet and old timey under garments offers you a "johnny cake" and asks you what a television is? It sounds like the devils work! No - you're not at church! You're in Hancock Shaker Village and people are pretending (more than pretending) they are from olden days. Its a place stuck in time for your educational pleasure, and for actors who cant make it in regional theatre.

After this you are off to the kitchen to churn butter. This weekend while cleaning out my refrigerator and it dawned on me - YOU CAN MAKE YOUR OWN BUTTER, FOOL. If only you can remember how Rebecca from Sunnybrook Farms said to do it...

Luckily, we have the Internet so I could easily look up this wonderfully simple creation we call: butter. But I couldnt just make butter so I raided my cabinets for anything stray I could concoct with and also use things just on the verge of throwing out - so I made Sour Cream and Chocolate Chip Muffins with Homemade Butter to bring into work on Monday.

FOR the record: I looked this shit up for the West Coast and I dont think it exists! Poor peeps with no Hancock Shaker Villages....must have been an East Coast thang.

For Muffins:

2 cups of flour
1 1/2 cups of sugar
2 eggs
1 cup of sour cream
1 cup of choco chips
1 stick unsalted butter at room temp
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Ingredients for Butter:
Heavy Whipping Cream
1 teaspoon salt

Step One: Preheat oven to 350. Put a metal mixing bowl in the freezer for later. In a bowl combine the butter and sugar with your electric mixer until light and fluffy and creamy. Slowly fold in the eggs and sour cream and vanilla and then mix until fully combined.

Step Two: Combine dry ingredients separately - then mix into the creamed mixture above, also adding the choco chips.

Step Three: Distribute batter evenly in muffin tins and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Step Four: Take out metal mixing bowl from freezer and pour in the heavy whipping cream and salt. Use electric mixer to mix non stop for about 20 minutes. It will be whippy, then start to get thick, then start to look like butter. Once its starts to separate into butter and butter milk, skim the butter out and shape into a ball - then refrigerate for 20 minutes. Serve cold.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Make New Friends, But Keep The Old...

Over the weekend we attended a going away party for the Joseph's who will be stealing their baby Julia from us and moving back to Wisconsin in 3 weeks. Waaaaaaaaa. *sniffle, tear*....

And while I am sad to see them go - I know its for the best. Also, I will have less competition on the cooking field, although I guess there's still Alex to contend with and he's the real deal. Curses!

Just kidding. Or not. Or maybe I am.

Anyway, for the BBQ I pulled together one of my standbys from growing up: Simple Spinach Dip. Actually if you wanted to you could EASILY pull this recipe from the back of the Knorr Veggie Soup Mix Packet, but - as simple and cheap and possibly WT as it is - this dip has NEVER failed me.

Simple Spinach Veggie Dip
1 Package Frozen Chopped Spinach, thawed.
8 oz Sour Cream
1/4 cup mayo
chopped green onions
1 packet Knorr Veggie Soup/dip mix
Step One: mix all ingredients.
Step Two: refrigerate for minimum 2 hours and up to overnight.

Hurry Up! While Fall Lasts....

After relocating to Los Angeles 4 years ago I had my doubts about ever really seeing fall again. I grew up with my grandfather giving hay rides, belly flops into leaf piles and hot apple cider donuts at Appleland. I thought that forever it would be part of my past, not my present. Luckily, after moving to San Francisco I have discovered - we have fall here! The leaves change (if you look close enough), people carve pumpkins and roast seeds - I am happy my Upstate New York childhood is NOT lost.

Also, being in San Fran almost a year and a few months now - I am now part of traditions! Weee! This is the 2nd year I attended the Malmantine Carving party in Daly City. This year I brought something that to me is quintessentially fall but the adult version of something favorite:

Roasted Butternut Squash, Basil and Garlic Pizza
2 Cups Cubed Butternut Squash
2 Small Balls Fresh Mozzarella Cheese
Fresh Basil
Fresh Garlic
3 teaspoons Cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg.
Salt & Pepper to taste
Pre made pizza dough (so what?)

Step One: Preheat the oven to 350. Toss the uncooked squash in olive oil, salt, pepper and cinnamon. Roast for 30 minutes or until crispy and cooked through. Once cooled, put in the food processor until pureed. Salt & Pepper again.

Step Two: Roll out dough, use the squash as a sauce then top with mozzarella, garlic and basil - cook for 20 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

For the record: my two favorite pumpkin carving are shown here! Erin's is the cyclops and Shawn's is the skull.

Friday, October 23, 2009


So this past Wednesday was out first meeting of the midnight society *cough ahem* sorry I mean Book Club. ( I just always loved the opening to Are You Afraid Of The Dark!) - and what a pleasant night it was. I just loved discussing books we loved, and why we loved them and what they meant to us when we were growing up. Nerd. Alert.

Anyway, we read (<------) The Art Of Racing In The Rain and while this book mostly appealed to the dog owners in the crowd, it was nice way to ease into a book club: simple and short. The theme to the night, seeing as the main character is a race car driver was White Trash! (Note: this was not NASCAR, but Formula 1 which some could argue isnt really WT).

Some of the more memorable dishes were:

*Lindsey made Mountain Dew & Dr. Pepper cupcakes!

*Natalie made puppy chow/rice crispie treats.

*Stephen brought bacon wrapped asparagus which wasnt exactly WT, but delicious.

*Jillian made (gross but addictive) hot dog weenies in grape jelly.

*Squirty cheese from a can was brought! Which is my FUCKING FAVORITE!

*...............and last but not least: Cindy made tuna casserole and daringly brought it over on her scooter.

English Muffins As A Time Machine.

So, I know what you're going to say - you dont need ME to tell you how to make an English Muffin pizza. Its pretty self explanatory - take some English muffins, slap on some sauce and grated cheese - pop em in the oves for 20 minutes and voila! You have the easiest meal in the history of eating.

No, what makes these novice concoctions so sweet is their history. My first bite on Wednesday night transported me back to my formative years: the 8th grade. Somewhere in the heart of goff middle school 15 years ago we learned how to "cook"in Home Economics. I use "cook" loosely as I think it was just combining existing canned products so you didnt die of starvation in an Apocalypse. Or at least you would die with a full belly of Tuna Salad. It occurred to me that the combination of sex education and "cooking" wasnt really about preparing us for adulthood, it was about preparing us for when our parents ditched us. Little Susie Rottencrotch's parents decided to take off to Mohegan Sun to bet their pension? No fear - your 14 year old knows how to pop on the Toaster Oven and screw with a condom. She'll be fine for at least 2 days, 3 nights without truly ruining her life. And if she does - blame the schools.

I sit here writing this blog and getting ever so increasingly wistful for that age. It truly has the distinction of something you can never go back to - you're financially ignorant about the world, your life is this little bubble of 5 or so people and the possibility of your 1st kiss is permeating and imminent. If you really wanted you could act like a teenager, or even relive your college years, but 11-15 - there's no going back to the dawn of your discoveries.

I feel compelled to reveal my 1st kiss was to Mike Slauson at the 8th Grade Dance. It was wet, and long and amatuer. Unlike the movies, it was neither awkward like a Michael Cera 1st kiss nor loving like a Leonardo DiCaprio 1st kiss. It was better than any cinematic embrace because it was the first little bubble coming to the surface of a boiling sexuality that has lasted me 27 years . Granted, we broke up 4 days later and it was onto the next crush ( was it Dan Leto? No he had 1 arm, it was Dan Lester. He was dirty and gross but my lord if he wasnt Jordan Catalano before Jordan Catalano existed...)

Even though you cant recreate the trauma of getting your period or getting expelled for taking a pen and breaking it and smearing it all over Don Feldmeyer's face on the bus to a field trip - there were about 100 other people who experienced it with me and would be ready to reminisce in a heartbeat. I am lucky to have almost the same friends 15 years later.

(ps. I kind of wish I knew the story of everyone's first kiss - post to me or the page if you so like).

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Stew = Full Body Cuddle.

Sunday was the perfect storm: hungover , movie on, overcast foggy San Francisco weather and the idea of a stew churning. Ever since my first bite of a Ground Beef Peasant Pie that morning - I was craving beef and warmth. I sent Shawn to the store with a few ideas and combined a few recipes for an Irish Stew to cook in my dutch oven while Away We Go was playing On Demand.

Stew is really like a full body cuddle, if you as me.

Guinness Irish Stew
1 1/2 pounds stew meat
2 strips of bacon
5 Russet Potatoes, cubed.
3 Carrots, sliced.
1 Onion, chopped.
6 Garlic Cloves, minced.
1/2 a Parsley Bunch
1 cup Dried Thyme
1 stick butter
1 Can Guinness
1/4 cup red wine
1/4 cup Worchestire sauce
2 tablespoons corn starch
Salt & Pepper

Step One: Season meat with salt and pepper. Turn on Dutch Oven over medium and add chopped up bacon until fat renders. Brown meat evenly, each side about 2 minutes. Add minced garlic.

Step Two: Meanwhile - heat a separate pan on medium and add stick of butter, onion and potato and corn starch. Cover - simmer for 2o minutes, tossing occasionally.

Step Three: Add parsley, thyme, red wine and Guinness to the dutch oven. Stir til combined.

Step Four: Add potato & onion mixture to dutch oven along with the carrots and the worchestire sauce.

Step Five: cover and simmer for 1 hour.

Step Six: uncover and simmer for 45 minutes - so some alc burns off.

Step Seven: cover again and simmer for 45 minutes.

Serve with bread and butter!

Heeerreeee FISHY fishy!

Forgive me once again for the blurriest photo possible. Most of you know I am a bad girlfriend and let a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup melt on the focus feature of Shawn's Cannon. (He dropped my phone in the toilet, so we're even) - so that accounts for the terrible pictures as of late.

Let me also put on record: I hate deboning fish and Whole Foods sells fish with bones it in. Boner.

The end.

As Usher would say "these are my confessions": First, I didnt cook my own brown rice, I took it already cooked for $1.50 from the whole foods hot bar. Secondly, my only regret was not cracking an egg on the rice while cooking it....I fucking LOVE eggs in fried rice.

Roasted Lemon, Sriracha & Garlic Salmon over Miso Cashew Fried Brown Rice
2 Salmon fillets
1 Onion, chopped
1 Lemon, quartered
Minced Garlic
1/2 cup cashews
Pre cooked Brown Rice
1 packet of red miso soup
4 teaspoons of Soy Sauce
Sesame Oil

Step One: Season the fillets with salt & pepper, then rub the minced garlic and sriracha over each side of the fillets and set aside. Squeeze some lemon juice onto them as well! About 8 minutes.

Step Two: Preheat the broiler on high. Heat a stainless steel pan over medium with olive oil and lemons then cook the fillets, without turning, but spoon juices over the fillet to keep moist.

Step Three: Turn a second pan on medium with olive oil and sesame oil - add onions and cook til softened. After, add already cooked brown rice, soy sauce, toss in cashews and miso soup packet. Fold in until combined.

Step Four: Transfer stainless steel pan to broiler to crisp fish - about 6 minutes.


Did You Miss Me?!

I havent been able to blog lately through a combination of working hard for my money at work, being busy with trips and parties, and dilly dallying online for our eventual Mexico trip in March. Waaa waaa, I know right? That being said I've been dying to blog about my trip to Portland! We went with my parents to this wonderful culinary city. I thought it was a good representation of the perfect Pacific Northwest city: slow, genuine and cold.

We also consumed possible 35000 calories each on this trip, so I will list the top 5 things we ate/did there:

1. Voodoo Donuts: Cereal Donut! This had always been a priority on this trip considering its been on every television show from the Food Network to the Travel Channel. I almost gave up due to tiredness of walking 10 miles in one day, but the fighter inside me told me no - keep going on your journey, you can do anything you put your mind to! And it was worth it. TOTALLY A+ material here. Of all the crazy donuts, my dad only ordered a Raspberry Jelly Donut. Oh dad!

2. Davis Street Tavern: TIE! Indian Lamb Burger & Cornmeal Crusted Fish Tacos!

and my oh my was David Street Tavern the shiz. In the Kugler family we have a tradition of

getting overtired, out of our element and seeking sustenance over snotty comments and apathy. Nothing has changed in 27 years. We still get to the point of crabbiness when we havent had something to fill our bellies and have to resort to Wendys over a 5 star meal - but this time we were lucky enough to literally wander into a normally over priced gourmet establishment and order from their reasonably priced pub menu. Shawn and my father ordered the mint chutney lamb burger with homemade raiti sauce, picked peppers and mint chutney and I ordered the cornmeal crusted fish tacos.

3. Portland City Grill. It wasnt so much the food or drink because we simply ord
ered Stella's on tap and catch the first part of the Yankee game but we did heed some friendly advice in taking a drink on the 30th floor of the Portland City Grill which had some truly amazing vistas of the city on a sunny day.

4. Along this running theme of starting out thinking you're doing one thing and then doing another by chance - we had driven to the other side of the river with plans to go to a highly rated foodie/tapas place but the wait was an hour and 45 minutes! It did dash some of my hopes for a Bourdain-ian experience but once I adjusted to my immediate future - we went across the street to the Russell Street Barbque. We had the absolute most amazing pork ribs I've had since Outer Banks in North Carolina! Also on the menu was the cream cheese/pimento dip. Delish!


5. And lastly.....but most importantly......was breakfast. The most important meal of the day and worth the wait on this blustering fall morning. When doing some yelping of the perfect place for our last morning Shawn said: "Southern food or Swedish food?" and we all took a second, puzzled - Swedish breakfast?! Wow. This was a must - Broder. I am just a sucker for visually stunning assortments of well cooked food and that was everything this place was about - a nosh here, a nosh there...

I ordered the Trout Hash & Eggs. Amaze-balls.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Chicken Wing Fling

Being from Upstate New York buffalo wings are almost a 6th food group. I prefer them medium, crispy and I love the two boners. Who doesnt love TWO boners, anyhow? *zing!*


Now that I have been welcomed into the the football sunday scene, my cravings for the little guys have been magnified two fold! Unfortunately, the only acceptable buffalo wings are at Kezars near Golden Gate park and I am never "in the neighborhood" anymore. I remembered some wings I used to love the Tequila Lime Wings at Bombers in Albany though and they seemed easy enough to replicate.

Last night was the showdown between the Packers & The Vikings and there was so much good food to be had. It was such a nail biter I am surprised anyone could eat with the tension in the air.

Tequila Lime Garlic Chicken Wings
2 Packs of "party" chicken wings
4 Tablespoons of Minced Garlic
1/4 cup tequila
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 cup lime juice,
4 cut up limes
3 tablespoons agave nectar
Salt & Pepper

Step One: Preheat oven to 350. Season chicken wings with Salt & Pepper and then arrange on a greased baking sheet. Cook for 30-40 minutes, turning once and until browned.

Step Two: Meanwhile whisk together remaining ingredients in a separate bowl for the marinade.

Step Three: Once cooled - toss the wings in the marinade and refrigerate until party time. Then throw them on the grill to reheat them until crispy!

Also, I have to give Natalie an honorable mention - she made the most delectable, decadent - forget what time zone you're they were so unbelievably delicious brownies! Watch out Tisha, someone is ready to take your throne!

Peep em:

Recipe here:

Monday, October 5, 2009

Hello Television!

Its been a wonderful few weeks of fall here in San Francisco. As we all know this lovely season provides Pumpkin Spice Lattes, Football Sundays, Bluegrass Festivals but also - all new episodes of our favorite television shows. After a very bland summer that forced me to join netflix again, I was ready for all my familiar friends to come back to my life. What I didnt expect was to make new friends. :) and isnt that what life is all about? Sigh. At first I thought - I am not a qualified television critic - but perhaps I am. What else should my 40 grand debt from Emerson College be worth? I say it buys me a pompous ego that allows me to comment on television. The Emerson Curse. the end.

I give you my Fall Superlatives....

Best Marketing Of A New Show: Glee!
Usually the worst kind of person in the world is a tease. Give us a taste and we cant think straight til we have the next fix. Terrible tramps. In television its a good thing! We waited all summer for this show to start and my how it has proved to be a tremendous powerhouse. Its funny, surprising, quick witted, many allusions to pop culture. Its all a girl can wish for!

Cons: They stole Jane Lynch from Party Down. The show's premise couldnt possibly last for more than 2 seasons. The main guy dude is like Chris Klein light and the main girl looks like she's descended directly from Idina Menzel. I dont like knockoffs.

1st Annual "Get Out Of My Face" Award: Entourage!

We've seen all you can do, cast of entourage. I dont need to see Vince grow old, I dont need to see Ari continue to be an agent or Lloyd keep being gay. This season alone had more boring plots than a minimalists cemetery *zing!* . Also, stop making people think women are bitches.

Let me remember you for your amazing 1st couple seasons and let Mr. Dillon continue on his comeback, not put him back where he came from by dragging this concept out to eternity.

Best Comeback: Ted Danson!
Remember when you first saw Kevin Nealon on Weeds? Or when Phil Hartman joined the cast of Newsradio? There are certain moments in time where you say - brava! Get this casting agent an Emmy! My friends, Bored To Death on HBO isnt going to last longer than this season as its just a vehicle for Jason Schwartzman to be Jason Schwartzman and for Zack Galifinakis to raise his profile - so while you can, check out Ted Danson's performance. Its smart, full filling and everything Sam Malone wasnt.

Best Returning Show of the Season: House!
Thank you for proving in your millionth season you still have the goods to make us question diseases and believe in characters. Thank you for believably getting your main character off of drugs and still making it edgy. Thank you for kicking off almost the whole last season of characters that didnt matter and giving us back the old cast.

................and thanks for a mental patient episode, it was like being able to watch One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest in 2009.

Best New Show: Community!
I predict this will be the new 30 Rock. I make that comparison in many ways. I predict it will have a rocky unnoticed 1st season and people will get into you next year and rent many dvds. I also predict Chevy Chase will emerge as an even cockier Alec Baldwin and steal the thunder of an underused comedian in the 90s whose turn on prime time tv will earn him roles in movies and then he will act like the major jerk he is and love him anyway.

The Sopranos Award: Mad Men!
I love you because you're like nothing else out there, you take chances and you have stuck to your mission statement with confidence and commitment. On the other hand you're boring me. I'll still watch, just like I did for every season of The Sopranos because I am not a Peggy and Pete Campbell and less Betty Draper. Use your supporting cast wisely and you will be rewarded.

The Award for Outstanding Excellence in The Field of Science: Fringe!
If you're not watching this show, you're missing out. If you are watching this show you know what I am talking about. I dont want to have to convince you if you're not into it but here are the pros:

Josh Jackson.
Josh Jackson.
Oh and awesome mythological and supernatural plot lines. Like Xfiles but better, just not as iconic. Less sexual tension, though.

Other Honorable Mentions:
Curb Your Enthusiasm: Worth the wait. Happy you're back and this time with heart. Larry David you had me at Seinfeld Reunion.

, you are the fluff in my fluffernutter. You'll never be Emmy Award winning or top notch but you do what you do well. Like Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy the dialogue alone is worth the 30 minutes + commercials.

Grey's Anatomy I had to downgrade you to online only. I'm sorry but my DVR did the choosing. If you can make it worthwhile, I'll trust you again to be watched on the silver screen. Until then, you're a Saturday morning treat while I kill time for Shawn to wake up.

Project Runway - I know you had a rocky transition to Lifetime and I am willing to call this season a mulligan. I am excited to see next season in real time and find a designer I can believe in. Also, stop treating LA like an urban city.

Top Chef - You can only have so many flaws, you're about food and failures. No amazing personalities this year but as usual, lets let the food speak for itself.

Brothers & Sisters - While I still watch you and you give me the waterworks when I PMS, nothing but habit is keeping me tuned in, but habits are wonderfully warm for a reason. Keep it coming, Sally - I''ll still tune in.

Intervention - I feel unshakable and complacent about drug habits now. I need another huge episode to rock my world. I am still on the edge of my seat.

The Forgotten: Yeah, I watched you because I love Missing Persons shows and now that Without a Trace is gone, you're the filler. I give you a D because I find it hard to believe that all the clues you happened on a REAL cop would have looked over. FAIL.

The Office: I cant give you up, but you're kind of obsolete now. If I give up on you its like admitting I should never have given INTO you in the first place. My allegiance is to Ricky Gervais and had the first 4 seasons not rivalled the real deal we wouldnt be here in the first place. Dont break up Jim and Pam just to keep the show going, rather - give us another reason - like Amy Ryan to keep tuning in. You're the Thursday institution we crave so keep it going.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Breakfast Bake Cake Lake Shake

As most of you know my Sundays are now filled with Football at the Micholics. Sometimes my attention span can waver from the Packers to Pancakes to People Magazine all within 1 hour. The trick to watching football on the West Coast is having to get up at 10am and get yourself a base so an 11am Coors Light doesn't seem TOO weird. (Side note: I am ready for the Packers/Vikings Monday night game because we'll finally be eating REAL food not breakfast!). My trouble has been finding foods that go with football at 10am. This week I made up this concoction I will call the:

Sausage Biscuit Egg Bake.

1 Pre-made biscuit tube from Supermarket.
8 Eggs.
1 package uncooked link sausages.
1 Onion, chopped.
2 Bell Peppers, chopped.
1 cup shredded cheese (I used colby, could chedda).

Step One: Cook Sausage links. I used my George Foreman. Once cooked, set aside and chop into bite sized pieces. Preheat your oven to 350.

Step Two: In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, sausage, the chopped onions and peppers and the cheese. Pour into a greased 13x9 glass baking dish.

Step Three: Bake for 20 minutes.

Step Four: Take out the half baked egg concoction and place unbaked biscuits into the mixture. Press down. Bake another 20 minutes or until golden brown!

Fried Fava Goodness.

I had this amazing idea that when we had our friends Kris and Darcy over to our house on Wednesday that I was going to make fava bean polenta cakes. It would have been a great idea if I didnt buy these beans at 1pm and learned there after they needed to soak overnight or up to 8 hours. Needless to say in a cry-ey whiny moment I decided to scratch them and determine their worth the next day.

To my brains surprise I realized exactly what I should do with them: Corn Nuts! The other day our friend Jillian said she wanted to make corn nuts so I thought hell! lets turn these favas into white trash nosh nation. (Side note: they were more crunch, hippie fest in the end.).

2 cups dried fava beans.
Vegetable Oil
Salt & Pepper

Step One: Soak beans overnight in water, allowing to cover.
Step Two: Shell.
Step Three: Fry in hot oil for 20 minutes.
Step Four: Soak in paper towels and allow to cool for an hour. Salt and Pepper.
Step Five: Salt & Pepper again.