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For Christmas one of my friends got me a subscription to Everyday Food.  She had been raving about this magazine and how great it was.  I had also seen the show on PBS.  Yeah I thought they had good recipes and it was by Martha so it had be decent.  I have been completely surprised by how much I have used and enjoyed this magazine.  I have a bunch of cookbooks by the Barefoot Contessa and Giada De Laurentiis that I use once in a while.  I also use some of the America’s Test Kitchen booklets and online resources like TheKitchn.  Since getting the first two Everday Foods I have tried 4 of the recipes and been completely impressed.  The recipes are easy to follow, delicious, and fast.  I eat a lot of vegetarian food to keep by grocery budget down and I like make ahead freezer friendly food; Everyday Food has delivered on each of these.

From the January/February Issue 79 I have tried:

  • Sweet-and-Sour Chicken with Green Beans – I substituted extra firm tofu for chicken and used a bag of frozen vegetables.  Basically I just used the sauce they suggested and served over rice.  The rice and sauce ingredients were in the pantry so I spent around 5 bucks at the store.  This made 4 HUGE servings.  Loved it.
  • Chocolate Ricotta Mousse – I love jello pudding but I know it probably has no nutritional value and is made with high fructose corn syrup and other crap.  This was a much superior alternative to pudding.  Again most of the ingredients were in my pantry so only had to buy the ricotta cheese.  Made 4 huge servings and next time I will split it up into 6.  I put some of the mousse into little to go containers so I could pack it in my lunch.  Awesome.
  • Shrimp Pot Stickers with sriracha-ginger dipping sauce – This was a splurge since I added shrimp.  The recipe says it makes 36 but I think I made at least 40.  This is a great freeze ahead recipe, you can just grab a couple and fry them up so easily.  This is something I would not normally attempt and I was surprised by how well they turned out.

From the March Issue 80 I have tried:

  • Tomato Soup with Bacon Grilled Cheese – Great recipe for just one person.  Again mostly pantry ingredients; it was a great way to use up some shredded cheese I had leftover.  I had to buy a can of tomatoes ($0.77!) and bacon.  I did pick up some concentrated pesto in a tube, and it might become my new favorite pantry item.  It is refrigerated so it keeps well and tastes amazing.  I think it adds a nice hint of fresh basil and nuttiness.  I could add it to any pasta dish and homemade pasta sauce for more depth of flavor.  I hate buying fresh basil out of season because it is so dang expensive.

I went to go see the Detroit Derby Girls Friday night down at the Cobo Arena.  Since I am new in town I joined Meetup.com to try and meet some new friends.  Spending 6 hours on a trip to Detroit with people you have never met is kind of a crapshoot.

I have always wanted to check out the roller derby because it seems pretty cool.  Girls with tattoos and great derby names kicking ass and having fun.  The night included two match ups between Detroit teams.  The matches are both an hour long; the lower ranked teams go first and the higher ranked teams go second.  If I had to do it over again I would have just gone for the second match.  Tickets were $15, which I thought was pretty reasonable for the whole evening.  Before each match they play a little video to explain the way derby works and there are announcers for the matches.  It is pretty family friendly with kids games during halftime.  I would go back to check out the travel teams, since they are more competitive.  On March 5th there is a match between the Detroit DDG Travel Allstars and the Chicago Windy City Roller All-Stars.  Of course I would have to cheer for Chicago, my home town.

I took the new camera along with my Zoom Lens EF-S 55-250mm.  Since I have no idea how to do anything manually I tried out the Sports mode and No flash mode.  The no flash mode seemed to work out better because the sports mode photos were too dark.  Here are a couple of my favorite shots.

This was the first weekend I had to myselft after quitting my part time job.  It was filled with all of my favorite things: homemade food, crafting, knitting and watching Harry Potter.  Yes, I am still single, why do you ask?

Saturday I hit up Michael’s and dropped way too much money on supplies to make valentines.  I was inspired by the Sushi Card over at Paper, Plate, and Plane.  I am still a novice crafter so my cards are much simpler and I wanted to make a ton of them.  I found some cards and envelopes in the clearance section, stocked on some cardstock, and picked up a trimmer by my girl Martha.  I set up a little assembly line and used my heavy school books to help everything dry flat.  Now I know why people use the expensive double sided tape; no crinkly paper when it dries and you save a ton of time waiting for everything to dry.

Here are the results:

I made 16 of them to give to my coworkers, family, and friends.  The only thing is that the envelopes are square so I will have to get extra postage on them.  Next weekend I have plans to go to the roller derby; and I am hoping to bring along my camera and get some action shots.

  1. Candy Cane Hat by Penney Kolb from Handknit Holidays.
  2. Flo the Elephant by Franklin Habit.
  3. Anastasia Socks by Pepperknit.

One of my guilty pleasures is browsing the aisles at Michael’s, or any craft store.  I can always find a million things I “need” and tons of project ideas.  Last night I got home from a very boring day of meetings and decided I just had to start a new craft project.  What was the new obsession?  EMBOSSED GIFT TAGS!!!!  NOW!!!!  Money was no object.  Unfortunately for my bank account Martha Stewart has come out with a new line of crafting supplies, complete with Martha Stewart prices.  Sidenote: I love Martha, I love that she crocheted a frickin poncho in PRISON!  I also love that she is buddies with Conan O’Brien and Snoop Dogg.

Anyways about 100 bucks later I walked away with enough craft supplies to make 3 gift tags.  I got a Martha Stewart embossing gun, some Martha Stewart ink, alphabet stamps, embossing powder, and cardstock.  If possible I would have taken home the whole aisle of Martha stuff.  Now you know how I spent my Saturday night… I too will be an old spinster like my girl Martha at this rate.  But unlike her I will be broke!

When I first moved to Chicago in 2008 I started working in Albany Park for a fantastic community health center.  Albany Park is a very interesting community made up of Middle Eastern and Hispanic immigrants.  On one corner I got my eyebrows threaded, on another I could buy hot homemade tortillas, and across the street was Al-Khymieh Restaurant.  Al-Khymieh had the best lentil soup which was served with warm pita bread and it only cost a few dollars.  I have tried multiple times to recreate this soup at home and failed horribly.  Finally I found a recipe at AllRecipes.com that looked promising.  I tweaked the recipe a bit and made it my own.  Here is the result:

  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, smooshed through a garlic press
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • dash of Madras Curry Powder
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • salt and pepper

In a large, heavy pot bring lentils and chicken broth to a low boil.  Cover and let boil for 20 minutes.  In a skillet heat olive oil and saute carrots, onion, and garlic for a few minutes.  Mix carrots, onion and garlic into the lentils.  Add the cumin, cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Add the lemon juice and serve.  I found that I did not care for a lot of lemon juice so I would add it in increments to your liking.  This soup is hearty and a little spicy, perfect for a cold winter day.  I had it with a wheat bagel but you could serve it with pitas.

Scenes from Christmas 2010:

Gingerbread with Royal Icing thanks to Martha Stewart.