A long, long time ago, my husband, who at the time was just my boyfriend, decided to cook me dinner. It was very thoughtful of him, right?
I came over to his apartment after work. He was hard at work in the kitchen. I could tell he was frazzled (the kitchen isn’t his area of expertise). Then, I surveyed the stove….
(Just want to say to my husband, I love you, and I’m sorry for what I am going to describe next.)
There was a bubbling pot of gummy, overcooked rotini, an open bag of frozen California blend veggies strewn about the counter, and a jar of scary looking alfredo sauce simmering away in a pot. I watched as he scooped up the veggies and threw them into the sauce, shoving the bag from the frozen veggies quickly into the garbage so I wouldn’t see it. Then, as he drained the pasta, little bits of noodle clung to the inside of the pot and strainer.
Seeing him doing all of this, for me, should have made me so happy and thankful that he wanted to save me the effort and time of cooking after a long day at wherever I was working and hating at that moment.
Instead, I said “Really?” I made a face of disgust, and then said a line which now lives in infamy in our relationship. “Let me guess; frozen vegetables, a jar of alfredo sauce, frozen garlic bread?” Then I started laughing at him. Words were exchanged and he stormed out of the kitchen with his plate of monochromatic gelatinous gooey pasta. I am not proud of this moment at all. Maybe I’m a robot. Maybe I’m no good at showing genuine, appreciative emotion.
I don’t know what I expected from him. He has his limitations, but is certainly not incompetent in the kitchen. It’s not like he is going to whip up a huge pot of homemade meat sauce or make noodles from scratch, or even attempt to buy and cook a fresh vegetable. He lived with another guy at the time. They were both bachelors and I’m pretty sure they did most of their grocery shopping at 7-Eleven.
The worst part is now, he doesn’t ever want to cook for me again. Can’t really say I blame him…So, today’s recipe is an easy bachelor spin on that date night meal. It is my chance to cook with him and have a tiny bit of redemption.
1 Box of Butoni Tontellini
1 Small Jar of Marinated Artichoke Hearts, drained
1 Box of Frozen Spinach*
½ a Pint of Cherry Tomatoes cut in half
1 Clove of Garlic
The Zest and Juice of a Lemon
1 TSP Salt
1 TSP Pepper
1 TBSP Grated Parmesan Cheese
2 TBSP Olive Oil
½ Cup Salted Pasta Water
*Personally, I would use a cup and a half of fresh spinach instead of frozen, because it looks nicer, but this recipe is for the ever-veggie-frightened bachelor, so I went with frozen.
Place the defrosted spinach on a paper towel and squeeze the paper towel around the spinach until all the liquid is drained. Add the dry spinach, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, pepper, garlic, parmesan cheese, and olive oil to a food processor. Pulse until a thick sauce is formed.
If you don’t have a food processor, just chop the dry spinach and finely dice or grate the garlic. Add that to the pan with the salt, pepper, lemon juice, lemon zest, parmesan cheese, and pasta water. It won’t be pesto but it will still be good.
In a large sauce pan over medium heat, cook the tomatoes and artichokes until the artichokes brown a little and the skin of the tomatoes starts to wrinkle.
Scoop the pesto into the large sauce pan that has the cooked tomatoes and artichokes. Add the salty pasta water. Simmer for a few minutes to bring all the flavors together.
Bring 4 quarts of salted water to a boil Add in the tortellini and cook for 7 minutes. Drain the noodles. Add them to the large pan with the pesto, tomatoes, and artichokes. Stir the sauce around until all noodles are evenly coated.
Top with cheese or parsley and serve your date a lovely and cheap home cooked meal.
We’ll see how this romantic dinner at home goes tonight after my husband reads this.
The most annoying sound in the world has got to be my alarm clock’s ring. No matter what time it goes off, I loathe it all the same. I used to be one of those people that got up on the first ring. I would even try and beat the alarm clock and turn it off before it went off, just so I didn’t have to hear the ring (Ambitious right)?
Then I moved in with my husband and it all went to hell because of his addiction to the snooze button. And since I am a sucker for good old fashioned peer pressure, I am now guilty of this addiction too. (We hit the snooze button at least four times before we actually get out of bed, our neighbors must really love that.)
Since we moved in together, I have gained several bad habits or addictions, thanks to him. For example, I never really liked spicy food, now I can not get enough of it. In fact, on our honeymoon I ate a habañero pepper and didn’t even notice I ate it until I made my husband try it and he pretty much started to cry. (Not going to lie, I am kind of proud of this accomplishment.)
I also never ate chicken wings until this year. Crazy right? I never really liked the mess factor involved in eating them.
But since that was my husband’s go-to bar or take-out food of choice in his bachelor days, it has now become one of my favorite things to have as an appetizer when we dine out.
Unfortunately, wings really aren’t that good for you. (Even though the combination of frying them and then drenching them in butter laced vinegary goodness is what makes them so tasty.)
Luckily, once again, I have taken on my husband’s challenge to reinvent one of his favorite bachelor foods into something easy, healthier, and “bacheloretteized.”
Ingredients for Pulled Chicken (feeds six)
1 Light Beer (I used a can of Miller Lite).
1 Cup of Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Sauce
1 TSP Garlic Powder
1 TSP Salt
1 TSP Pepper
1 TSP Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1 lb of Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
Note: Since most bachelors do not have a slow cooker, you can also combine all the ingredients in a large pot. Bring it to a simmer, and let cook for an hour with the lid off and still get the same results as using a slow cooker.
Seriously, it is this easy: Put everything in a crock pot and cook it on low for eight hours. When the chicken is done, remove it and let it rest for a few minutes.
Using two forks, shred the chicken breasts. Add them back to the sauce. Scoop out a healthy portion and pile it on any kind of hearty bun.
Ta-da! Just call me your chicken wing-ed fairy godmother!
Ingredients for Simple Blue Cheese Dressing
½ Cup of Blue Cheese Crumbles
1 Cup of Sour Cream
¼ TSP Salt
¼ TSP Pepper
¼ Cup of Milk
1 TBSP Fresh Chives, finely chopped
Crumble the blue cheese. Add the salt, pepper, and chives to the sour cream. Mix well. Add in the milk slowly, mixing continually until you get the consistency you desire.
Every man (and most women) I know has beer and hot sauce in their fridge at all times.
So, just go to the store, buy chicken, buns, blue cheese, sour cream, and chives (because I know most bachelors don’t have those handy at all times) and an hour (or eight if you are a fancy chef kind of bachelor with a slow cooker) later you have enough pulled buffalo chicken to avoid buying wings for weeks!
When I first started dating my husband, seven years ago, I was amazed and disgusted by the foods he and his college housemates would eat.
Looking around their kitchen, you could tell they were a bunch of bachelors. Cans of tuna stacked on two different shelves, many boxes of Easy-Mac, cans of chili, canned Chef Boyardee, every condiment known to mankind in their refrigerator, and boxes and bags of fast food strewn about the kitchen table. You would then look over to the living room area and be guaranteed to see somebody napping after they pulled a Martin Spurlock and tried to eat everything on the McDonald’s dollar value meal.
Their constant line-up of salt packed, processed, or take-out foods used to bother me to no end, because I would think “Don’t you know how easy it is to cook this and make it healthier with non-processed ingredients?”
I guess comparing life as a bachelorette versus life as a bachelor is really like comparing apples to oranges. In my all girl apartment we made dinner every night. We would even have “family dinners” with our two neighboring apartments.
We would cook homemade meat sauce and meatballs, vegetable stir fry, chicken and veggies, and the lists go on and on. We would also have an easy side dish of steamed vegetables or a salad with every dinner.
We all shopped cheap, we shopped smart, and cooked quickly because we had parties and nasty keg beer to get to which, (after schoolwork) was way more important than standing over a stove for five hours cooking.
Bachelors eat what they eat without much thought or planning behind it. They don’t want to cook for a very long time for the same reasons as bachelorettes (plus the fact that they don’t want to clean up afterwards). If they just put a little more thought into it (sigh, isn’t that how it is with most things concerning men ladies?), they could have a good semi-healthy meal.
Before I came into the picture, my husband was basically eating the meals he ate when he was six years old because he wouldn’t eat anything green and clearly did not know how to cook for himself. You would think his palate would have matured from the age of six, but to this day, his favorite thing in the whole world to cook and eat is Kraft Macaroni and Cheese mixed with sliced hot dogs.
So, enter the challenge. My husband has challenged me to take some of the well known bachelor staples and “bachelorettize” them into something better! (Little does he know that I am going to be using him as my guinea pig to gauge if real life bachelors could accomplish this recipe.)
And it all starts with my twist on macaroni and cheese with hot dogs!
Ingredients (makes enough for one large casserole)
4 Smoked Andouille Chicken Sausage Links
1 Box of Multigrain Elbow Noodles
3 Slices of Bacon
3 Cups of Smoked Cheddar Cheese, shredded
3 Cups of Gouda Cheese, shredded
1 ½ Cup Heavy Cream
1 Cider Beer
2 Sprigs of Thyme
1 TSP Salt
1 TSP Pepper
½ TSP Garlic, grated
1 TBSP Bacon Grease
2 Cups of Bread Crumbs
Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the box of elbow noodles. Boil noodles for 6 minutes on high heat. When the noodles are al dente, remove from the heat, and drain.
In a large sauce pot, bring the heavy cream and cider beer to a simmer. Add in the thyme, slat, pepper, and garlic. Simmer for twenty minutes on medium/low, until all the thyme leaves wilt off into the liquid. Remove the sprigs of thyme. Then add in thegoudaand smoked cheddar. Reduce the heat to low/warm and cook until the cheese melts into a liquid form.
The sausages I bought were fully cooked. So, if you really wanted to be a bachelor about this, you could just cut them into fourths length-wise, then into ½ an inch size pieces and throw them right into the cheese mixture. But, since I am who I am, I grilled the sausage halves for about ten minutes just to get some nice crispy grill marks on them before I cut them and added them to the cheese sauce.
While the sausage is grilling, add the three strips of bacon to a pan and cook until crisp. Let the bacon cool for about five minutes before adding it to the breadcrumbs. To make the breadcrumbs, I took three stale pieces of sourdough bread and pulsed them in the food processor until they were small crumbs. When the bacon has cooled, give it a rough chop and add it along with the TBSP of bacon grease to the food processor. Give it a good whirl until the bacon is broken up into similar sizes as the breadcrumbs.
After you add the chicken sausage to the cheese sauce toss the cooked noodles into the pot and mix. At this point, once again, if you want to be a true bachelor, you can stop and eat and just skip the breadcrumb step (which is what my husband did).
Since it was my challenge to “bachelorettize” the food, I kept going. In my humble opinion, a macaroni and cheese is not a macaroni and cheese without the crunchy topping. Just sayin’.
Add the macaroni, cheese, and sausage mixture to a large buttered pyrex dish or large buttered oven-safe casserole dish. Add an even layer of the bacon breadcrumbs to the top of the macaroni and cheese and sausage mixture. Bake the macaroni and cheese at 350 degrees for 20 minutes until the top is golden brown and crunchy.
Let the mac rest for about fifteen minutes before serving. Scoop out a health portion and top with a little chopped parsley or chives for color.
If my husband can make this so can you!!! It is an easy twist on a bachelor classic and it even has the approval of somebody that used to live off mac n cheese and hot dogs….. Well, I guess that isn’t saying much.
Trust me. Just make it, eat it, and like it, okay?
In writing about sandwiches all week, I realized their was an underlying issue that went hand in hand with sandwiches for me, which was comfort. This week was about comfort for me.
Whether it is a warm sandwich on a cold day, a pair of non-age-appropriate Ugg boots, the touch of my Mom’s old beaten up blue robe, ratty sweatpants, a good oldies jam, a Bruce Springsteen song, or cheese, cheese, and more cheese….
Or a classy cocktail that reminds you of a good friend’s comforting voice, while she is traveling the world and swigging Dom Perignon (you can tell I have never drank this because I definitely had to google how to spell it) from expensive Four Season’s balconies, and makes you feel like she isn’t that far away anymore.
Whatever it is that brings you comfort, embrace it and enjoy it.
Ingredients (makes 2)
2/3 Cup Frangelico
1/3 Cup Pinnacle Whipped Vodka
Chocolate Syrup and Sea Salt (for the rims of the glasses)
Make sure your liquors are stored in the freezer the night before serving to ensure they are chilled. Pour the Fangelico and vodka into a large shaker. Shake it like a Polaroid picture!
Dip the rims of your glasses in chocolate syrup then in the sea salt.
Pour and serve.
Happy Hour Friday everybody!
Thanks for making it through a month of blogging with me!
Today, in honor of national sandwich day, I said I wasn’t going to do a lot of personal writing. I was just going to let the sandwich speak for itself. Oh, well.
There is an issue I have been wrestling with for quite some time now.
Recently, I went to the homecoming game of the high school where my husband teaches. I looked around at the high school aged girls and noticed (don’t make it creepy), every single one of them was wearing Ugg boots and skinny jeans.
This brought to mind a moral dilemma. As a 27 year old married woman, am I too old to wear Ugg Boots?
Now, men do not understand Ugg boots. They think that they are the dumbest looking things ever made. I don’t blame them for judging on the way things look…. It’s just their nature.
If you have the luxury of owning a pair, you know they are like walking on a cloud and on cold fall/winter days, they keep your feet so warm and toasty.
My Uggs have been through many a snow storm and terrible tucked in sweatpants incidents, so they are really looking weathered these days.
They kind of remind me of this blue robe my mom had when I was younger. This thing was so beat up and covered in barf and spit up stains, but it was loved.
We used to think it had magical powers. Whenever we were sick, my mom would have that old blue robe on, and give us a hug. We would nestle our heads into that old robe or touch its softness with our hands, and feel ten times better.
No matter how nasty that robe looked, my mom still wore it because it was comforting for us and comfortable for her. As a matter of fact, I believe she still has that robe in her closet.
My most favorite comfort outfit is my black yoga pants tucked into my Ugg boots topped with my old college sorority barn dance sweat shirt and an old black knit hat. I guess I shouldn’t care so much what people think (even though I do look like Justin Bieber’s androgynous older sibling), and just take comfort in my clothing.
This sandwich is my ode to the Ugg boot. Le Croque Madame. The Crunchy Lady. It is so easy to make, really isn’t the best thing for you, and really isn’t all that pretty, but it tastes so warm and comforting.
Kind of like eating an Ugg? (Seriously, I don’t know where I come up with this stuff?)
Ingredients (makes 2 sandwiches)
1 (store-bought) RoastedTurkeyBreast*
A Good loaf of Sourdough Bread, cut into four thick slices
2 TBSP of Butter
2 TBSP Spicy Mustard
½ Cup White Wine
2 Cups Shredded Swiss Cheese (Gruyere will do as well).
1 TSP Chopped Fresh Parsley
1 TSP Salt
1 TSP Pepper
*You can roast your own turkey breast, but seriously, who has the time. And, unfortunately, every day is not Thanksgiving. The traditional Croque Madame recipe calls for sliced ham, so use it or don’t use it. Either way it is damn good.
To make the sauce you will need a small sauce pan. Heat the wine to a simmer over medium/low heat. Allow some of the alcohol to cook out for two minutes. Add in the cheese, salt, and pepper. Cook the sauce until the cheese melts into a thick gooey sauce. Add in the parsley, stir, remove from heat, and cover with a lid.
Cut a hole out of two slices of sourdough. (That hole is where the egg is going to go). Spread each side of the slice of bread with a thin layer of butter, this includes the non-holey slice as well.
In a medium skillet or on a griddle, toast each side of the bread for about five minutes, until golden.
When you flip the slices of bread with the hole in it, crack an egg right into that hole. Cook the egg as you like it. I like my eggs a little runny.
When the egg has cooked to your liking, remove it from the heat. Build your sandwich. Bottom slice of toasted sourdough with spicy mustard on it, roasted turkey breast, swiss cheese wine sauce, then top it off with the egg-in-a-hole slice of sourdough.
Cut the sandwich in half so the egg yolk joins with the cheese sauce in a perfect messy union.
Seriously, did this comparison between Ugg boots and Le Croque Madame make sense? I don’t know.
But, I guess if you’re still reading and now drooling over this sandwich, I must have done something right.