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Let’s pretend that I never left.

It’s winter, and I’m in my annual “try not to stuff my face” mode. Every January and February, the fear of bikini season kids in, and for a few fleeting moments I get ultra-motivated to exercise well and eat healthy food. That works in St. Louis, with there generally being nothing much else to do in January and February, and lasts me all the way until Fish Fry Season, when the siren song of jack salmon lures me to church basements and sides of canned green beans.

Problem is, I need salt. I’m not a normal female: chocolate I can leave well enough alone. But, I absolutely crave salty snacks and salty foods of all kinds. I headed over to Emily and Rusty’s house this past Sunday, to drink a bottle of wine, eat food, and watch the Grammys. Emily introduced me to Kale Chips, easy enough to make, full of good vitamins (I think), and plenty salty for me.

Kale Chips
(courtesy of Emily, courtesy of her sister, courtesy of ?)



Olive Oil

Salt (kosher, I’d say)

Pre-heat the oven on broil mode. Like you’re preparing a salad, tear off pieces of the fresh kale into a large boil. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with sea salt. Toss. Spread on a cookie sheet, and pop them in the oven. Don’t let them burn, but if you do, do like Emily did and throw them out and start over.

Cook until just crisp.

Eat. If possible, eat while ridiculing a Justin Bieber and Usher duo.


Why are they so darn delicious?

My favorite brand of all time (unavailable in the Midwest, and introduced to me by my Pennsylvania grandparents) is Grandma Utz, in the brown bag. Heaven, if heaven were salty and crunchy and cooked in LARD.

I know I’ve been on a long hiatus, brought about by my life getting much busier these days (always a good thing!) because of people and travel. I think I’ll be posting more frequently, although my grand visions for deep and insightful food-related posts, serious restaurant reviews, and witty commentary on daily meals might be left a little unfulfilled. But isn’t that how life goes most of the time, anyways?

Now if you’ll please excuse me, I have a large bag of Mystic Kettle Cooked Potato Chips stashed away in the bottom drawer of my filing cabinet that’s calling my name. I’ll be back after I eat half the bag in one sitting.

Burrito, chicken, black beans, mild, both, lettuce.

Take out, please.

Then (and this never gets old):

Look at my burrito baby!

(said while miming rocking motions, holding the foil-wrapped hunk of deliciousness)

Ash Wednesday, no meat.
Rice, beans, mac-n-cheese, fish sticks.
Thinking about steak.

Not a bad combination, right?

I’m a fan of impromptu dinner parties. My mom was the queen of them–many a weekday night saw her “adding more water to the soup” and a few more places set at the already full table if friends stopped in on their way to somewhere. Actually, a few children who were frequent attendees announced to their mothers that our house was their “favorite fast food restaurant” in town. Ironic, considering mom’s meals were always made-from-scratch, and her menus weren’t always classic American fare (Nana’s Slovakian Halupkis, anyone?).

Last week I turned my apartment into my own “fast food restaurant” for my roommate and good friend. I ran home after a good post-work gym session, and had a great meal whipped up in about 20 minutes (or as long as it took the pasta water pot to boil). The shrimp scampi was simple and very easy, I bought a nice baguette the day before and popped that in the oven to warm it up, and roasted some asparagus.

The asparagus was very easy…easy enough to not even warrant its own recipe. Just toss together some garlic, olive oil, fresh ground black pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes, drizzle over the spears arranged on a cookie sheet, throw a few kalamata olives on top (a little drizzle of the olive juice is never bad, either) and roast at a high temperature.

This meal is even better accompanied with that tall glass of deliciousness, Jude Law (we watched Alfie while eating).

Shrimp Scampi with Angel Hair Past (adapted a bit from my favorite cookbook ever, The New Best Recipe, by the editors of Cooks Illustrated)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

shrimp (the cookbook calls for 2 pounds of uncooked shrimp, but I bought a bag of the smallish, already-cooked frozen ones, and that was OK for an inexpensive, weeknight meal)

6 tablespoons butter (the recipe calls for 3 tablespoons, but if you are serving with pasta, you need more juice)

4 medium garlic cloves, pressed

2 tablespoons lemon juice (use fresh! better!)

1 tablespoon dry vermouth

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

pinch cayenne pepper

Salt and fresh ground black pepper

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large saucepan, then throw in half the shrimp and cook quickly. If you are using raw shrimp, cook only about 2 minutes. If you are using already-cooked shrimp, defrost beforehand and keep them in the pan long enough to warm them up. You don’t want to overcook them. Transfer the cooked shrimp to a holding dish and put aside.

Return the saute pan to the heat, and melt half the butter. When the foaming subsides, add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds (never, ever, EVER overcook or burn garlic. You’ll regret it when you have little bits of burnt bitterness). Take off of heat, stir in lemon juice and vermouth. Whisk in the remaining butter, parsley and cayenne, add salt and pepper to taste. Throw in the shrimp, toss with angel hair pasta, and serve!

Pretty, yes? Almost as delicious as Jude.

Nothing says “welcome to adulthood” like purchasing your very own crock pot. Last January I was trudging through the snow, going to classes and college bars in South Bend, Indiana, and now I am wheeling carts around Target buying kitchen appliances that makes meals for families of 4-5.

I’m excited to put it to work, especially now that St. Louis has decided to get cold/snowy/icy/sleety, but I don’t have any good recipes. A college friend volunteered a french dip beef recipe (I’m glad to know I’m not the only 23-year-old-turned-seasoned-housewife) but I’d appreciate any additional ideas.