Thursday, February 26, 2009

Barbie - FAIL

I’ve always been a big fan of Barbie.

She's a snappy dresser, works lots of interesting jobs and clearly has staying power and longevity.

In fact, I used to live just a few miles from the Barbie Hall of Fame. (Super neato.)

I don’t understand why folks get all in a tizzy and says that she’s a bad example for young girls. Please, people. My girl (and boy too) knows what’s real and what’s not. They know that real dogs don’t talk (Hi, Martha), real birds aren't neon yellow and 8 feet tall and real babies don’t really look one single bit like Cabbage Patch Kids. She knows that it’s all pretend and that most of the fun toys are a bit cartoon-y and exaggerated and fun. And she’s three. She gets it. (Granted this is mostly because I take the time to explain it to her…) She knows that not all females are tall and skinny, like her aunt and great aunt and other females but not like me.

I always figured that I’d get my wonderful Bunny girl her first Barbie and we would giggle and play fun role-playing games, and dress her up and dress her down... It would be great fun.

Then this happened:


(Can you see it o.k.? I took this crappy pic with my phone...)

Let me introduce you to the "Totally Stylin' Tattoos" Barbie.

The box says: Over 40 easy, no mess tattoos to design and decorate Barbie doll's fashions. Customize the fashions and apply the fun temporary tattoos on you too.

REALLY?

Full disclosure: I have tattoos. And I'm looking forward to getting more. But I don’t want my daughter to have them NOW. Or want them NOW.


And here’s my wonderful old friend Barbie rockin’ a tat.

So, why am I upset about this? It's not like they also include a "totally stylin' tattoo machine" with vibrating needles and lots of "totally stylin' tattoo ink." It seems that they're just riding that fake tattoo bandwagon. And sure, I can explain to Bunny that it's all fun and games and that most teenagers don't have tats... I think she'll get it... But...

It’s just not right.

I almost broke down in tears right in the middle of Target. Those memories that I was so looking forward to making with Bunny are dashed.

So, folks that make Barbie, I’m afraid you get a big FAIL.

Not cool.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Whatcha' Cookin' Wednesday - "Pizza Dough"

I've had many lives. Actress, dancer, singer, sports therapist, restaurant manager, t-shirt painter, property manager, spa promoter, bartender, digital printing sales shark, PR maven, writer, reporter, mom... and many more. (Butcher, baker, candlestickmaker...) One short-lived life was creating specialized, gourmet, organic pizzas to order. I set up shop in a large kitchen that had two ovens and three refrigerators. I bought flour in 25 lb. bags. I only used fresh, regional ingredients. No preservatives. I made a killing for three whole months. It was so dang fun and easy that I almost hated to take people's money for doing it.

Almost. (Heh.)

An undeniable truth: Making pizza is a great way to get people together. Who doesn't like to create their own perfect, custom pie, eaten too-hot right from the oven?


Making pizza with my fabulous nephews... Mangia, mangia! (Christmas eve - 2007)



Showing off our pre-topped rounds...


YUMMERS.

Pizza is awesome dinner party food and kids LOVE it. Don't get that gummy, fake-tasting stuff from the chain down the street. Make your own.


SIX INGREDIENTS.

TEN MINUTES PREP TIME.

FREEZES WELL.

Now you have no excuses.

PIZZA DOUGH

Ingredients:
(yields two small rounds)



5 c. all-purpose, unbleached white or wheat flour (don’t go near the bleached and enriched crap)
½ t. salt
½ ground pepper
¼ c. oil
1 packet of yeast (you can also use cake yeast)
1 ½ c. warm water

Combine dry ingredients and whisk together. In separate bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Make well in center of dry ingredients and pour water/yeast mixture in center of well. Add oil. Mix all ingredients together by hand until a ball forms. (You may need to add more water if too dry.) Knead dough on floured surface until it’s silky and smooth, about 5-7 minutes. Place dough ball in bowl and cover. Let rise in a draft-free area for one hour. Punch dough down and knead lightly. Stretch into desired size.

Add toppings and bake at 400 for 10-15 minutes for small rounds and 15-20 minutes for large rounds.

Tips:
-Never roll dough, Instead stretch to desired size, leaving slight lip around edge. (Rolling will eliminate the lip. The lip is good.)


-Brush a little olive oil on edges once pizza is topped. This will ensure that the crust browns evenly and you won't risk overcooking it.

-Use bread flour instead of all-purpose flour if you like your crust a little lighter and less chewy.

-If you like a softer crust try letting the dough rest after forming into rounds, wait about 15 minutes before adding the toppings. This will allow the dough to rise a little more so you’ll get a fuller, more doughy crust.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Technicolor Tuesday - Pizza!

It should come as no surprise that we make our own pizza. In fact, a fave Christmas time tradition is making homemade pizzas with my twin nephews, while blasting music, talking with weird Italian-esque accents and generally goofing off. The pizzas are always the best we make all year. We call the kitchen (wherever we are...Miami, Atlanta...) "Giovanni's", complete with signage made by artsy G'ma and all... Fun, fun, fun.

I hope next year our kiddos will get into the act.


J with whole wheat pizzas topped Danger Dad's tomato sauce, spinach and mozzarella...

S is not so hot on the picture-taking... More interested in the eating part...


Just before they were popped in the oven... (The pizzas, not the kiddos...)

I would have included an "after" pic but the fruits of our labor were scarfed down pretty quick. I'll post the dough recipe tomorrow... It's so easy it'll make you cry.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Whatcha' Cookin' Wednesday - "Chipotle Mayo"

I’m a big fan of the “zing.”

I like to wear red shoes (zing!), I love a saucy joke (zing!), I love to surprise people (zing!) and I like my food spicy (zing!).

Chipotle Mayo is the “zing” of my fridge.



I always keep a jar at the ready to zing up a dish. It’s fabulous in tuna salad, egg salad, deviled eggs, on sandwiches and in tilapia tacos. When you need some gastronomic “zing”, reach for the Chipotle Mayo.


CHIPOTLE MAYO


Ingredients:


- 1 cup mayo (I use Duke’s and only Duke’s. Give it a try and you’ll understand why. DO NOT use Miracle Whip. Yuck. It’s not thick enough and it tastes horrible. Use REAL mayo.)
- 2 cloves of fresh garlic
- 3-5 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (you can find this in the “Latin” area of your market, use more if you like more heat)
- 2 Tblsp. lime juice
- ½ t. kosher salt
- 1 Tblsp. olive oil

Combine all ingredients in blender or Cuisinart and blend until very creamy. Keeps in fridge up to 2-3 months. (Maybe longer but mine never lasts too long...)

Friday, February 13, 2009

New Art

This sums it all up rather nicely, I think:




Thank you, Edgewood Target.



Now I smile even wider everytime I come downstairs to the kitchen.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Whatcha' Cookin' Wednesday - "Jamie's AMAZING Ceasar Dressing"

A few culinary/kitchen musts:

- Always keep a bottle of chilled champagne in your fridge.
- Master at least one dish and declare it your signature meal.
- Decant all wines that cost under $7./bottle.
- Kosher salt. ('nuf said.)

and finally....

- Know how to make a really good homemade salad dressing.

Enter... Jamie's AMAZING Ceasar Dressing. He just calls it his "Ceasar Dressing" but I think that's like calling a AFC-certified Westminster Champion a mutt. So I added the "amazing. " Because it is. He brought this, along with Dekalb Farmer's Market croutons (the best) and some lovely, crunchy romaine, to my 40th birthday dinner last year. Somehow it never made it to the table - it got pushed to the back of the fridge and we found it the next day. After tasting it we were SO glad that we didn't have to share.

I usually double this recipe since it's pretty much the only dressing we use. It also makes a great chicken marinade. It's NOT low-cal. NOT AT ALL. But totally worth it.

Jamie's AMAZING Ceasar Dressing

Ingredients:

1 C. Extra Virgin olive oil

Juice of 1-3 lemons (sometimes I use limes)

4-12 peeled garlic cloves (depends on how much your Sig. O. will let you get away with)

1 Tblsp. Dijon mustard

1 Tblsp. Worcestshire sauce

3 Tblsp. anchovie paste or 3-6 anchovy filets (I use an entire tin, sans the oil, when I double the recipe)

1 tsp. cayenne pepper

2 Tblsp. mayo

½ C. Romano, grated

½ C. Parmesan, grated

Salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients EXCEPT olive oil in blender or Cuisinart. Blend WELL. Add the olive olive VERY slowly so it emulsifies into a smooth, creamy dressing.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Technicolor Tuesday - Mr. MarkerHands

My little man thought his digits needed some embellishment.

Meet Mr. MarkerHands:







And, yes, every single tip of every single digit was the color of each cap worn. Washable markers, my @ss.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Whatcha Cookin' "Friday?" - Strata

I hereby dub today "Forgetful Friday." This week has been fabulously busy. Lots of good stuff going on but alas, I just plumb forgot to post a recipe on Wednesday.

(Will my five readers leave me forever?!?! Hope not...)

Tell me what's better than bread, cheese and eggs. Not much.

I give you Strata. A yummy bread, egg, cheese casserole that you can make on a moment's notice or even the night before for a fabulous breakfast in the a.m. You can tweak this recipe to add or delete meat, add or delete veggies and on and on and on... The possibilites are endless.

Strata
(Serves 6-8)

1 loaf French bread, cubed (either by hand or with a knife)

2 packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1.5 lbs. cheese, grated (we use cheddar or mozzarella or a mixture, you can use any cheese that melts well.)
14 large eggs
2.5 cups milk
salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons dry mustard (optional, but adds a nice little bite)

Grease a 9-x-13-inch baking dish. Make a single layer of bread cubes in the bottom of the baking dish. Cover the bread evenly with the spinach. Then add half of the cheese. Top with another layer of bread cubes.

In a medium-size mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and seasonings. Pour over the layers evenly, making sure that all of the top layer of bread is moistened. At this point, you have two options: refrigerate it overnight or bake for 1 hour (350 degree preheated oven).

Take a peek at it after about 50 minutes. It shouldn't be ready to pull until its puffed up a bit and just starting to get golden brown (you don't want it too brown).

Test by inserting a knife in the center - it should come out clean. While it is cooling, top with the remaining cheese and allow it to melt by itself. (You might need to return it for just a minute to the oven to finish melting.)


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

"Technicolor Tuesday" Debuts - Danger Dad

I thought it might be sort of fun to start a weekly photo feature but somehow I feel I need some sort of snazzy title in order to kick it off.

I am lame. I'm certain my grand total of 5 readers (Hello readers in India!) do not give a collective crap if this new blog feature has a snazzy title.

Anyhoodle, I thought I might call it "Kodak Moment Monday." Or maybe "Film for Friday", although I haven't used actual film in at least 6 years, maybe more. "Photo Friday" might be a little too obvious and simple but it could get the job done. Then there's "Technicolor Tuesday." Not great but works the best.

So, without further adieu... Some pics...



Why we call Danger Dad Danger Dad:












His idea of taking the kids out to play? Take them to the nearest construction site and let them play on the equipment. These pics were sent from his phone. Apparently hard hats are optional.