Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Inspiration.

I've been lacking inspiration lately, at least when it comes to Wallycado. I don't know if it's been my "summer vacation" attitude lately, or if I've spent too many weekends at Grand Lake, but I just can't find the inspiration or motivation to write anything lately.


What do you do to cure your inspiration blues?


I usually turn to books and baking, but even those haven't been working lately. What is it about summer that just makes you feel sloth-like and brainless? I haven't even been able to make it through two chapters of a book if it's not some mindless chick lit. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but you know what I mean.


So here I am. Slightly embarrassed by how neglectful I've been of my little blog. I love my blog. It brings me joy, even if no one reads it. And it's become something I look forward to doing. Well, it was something I looked forward to doing. At this point in my summer, I'm way more interested in going to the lake, dining alfresco with my girlfriends, sitting in coffee shops, pool parties, play dates with my niece and nephew, watching Lost DVD's with boyfriend, and pretty much doing anything and everything other than look at a computer. I guess that's a good thing though. Computers, and the Internet specifically, tend to be life-suckers and time-wasters so I guess I should be thankful for the much needed breaks.


Anyway, I did manage to make an awesome dinner for my family last week. They're always giving me a hard time about cooking for boyfriend and never for them, so I thought I'd go all out and make one of their favorite meals a-la-Annie. It's my version of a recipe I found in Real Simple a couple of years ago. Like most recipes, I started out following it exactly, but have since altered a few things here and there to make it mine. It's called Southern Indian Chicken Curry, but I usually just call it Chicken Curry with Peaches. And if you think you're not a curry fan, try this anyway. There's actually not any curry in it, just a blend of spices that is probably curry-ish. Boyfriend isn't big on curry or spice (weird, I know) but he is a fan of this dish. Of course he claims to like everything I make so maybe he's just being nice....




Southern Indian Chicken Curry. Or Chicken Curry with Peaches. Or just Chicken Curry. Or "That Curry stuff Annie makes." It's been called that a time or two.

Ingredients:
4-5 Tbls. corn oil (I usually use olive oil or Smart Balance oil, because that's what I have on hand.)
2 medium red onions, thinly sliced
2-3 small jalapenos (depending on how much spice you like), seeded and finely diced
2-4 cloves of garlic (depending on size), finely chopped
1 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, thinly sliced or finely chopped
4-5 Tbls. lemon juice, from the juice of 2 large lemons
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
1/2 tsp. + 1-2 dashes cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. + 1-2 dashes coriander
1/2 tsp. + 1-2 dashes ground cumin
1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 ripe yellow peaches roughly chopped, OR 1 bag frozen peaches
1/2 - 1/3 c. canned unsweetened coconut milk (you can find this in the Indian/Asian food aisle, or near the drink mixers) NOTE: don't get low-fat or fat-free. The consistency is just not the same.

Directions:
I learned from experience that the best thing to do is to prep all ingredients first. So thinly slice those onions and set aside. Seed and finely chop the jalapenos, garlic and ginger and set aside together. Cut up the chicken; set aside. Chop the peaches, or just open the frozen bag. You'll save TONS of time by doing this all before hand, and you won't be as frazzled later. Being frazzled while cooking is not awesome.
Next, head 2 T. oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions to skillet and saute for 5 minutes, then add the jalapenos, garlic, ginger and 4 T. lemon juice and cook for 5 minutes more. Remove from skillet and transfer to plate.
Add 2 more T. oil to skillet and raise heat to medium-high. Add the chicken and stir-fry until golden, about 8-10 minutes. If it takes longer, don't fret. Just cook it until it's lightly browned. Add the spices and stir fry for about 2 more minutes. Add the peaches, onion mixture, and a 1/2 c. water and simmer for about 8 mins. I usually lower the heat at this point to about medium, but that's just me.
Stir in the coconut milk and simmer for 2 more minutes. Start with 1/2 cup and add more if needed. It should be thick and creamy, but not soupy. Add more lemon juice if needed.
Serve with hot rice and pita bread. I also like to serve with a dollop of plain yogurt, it helps cut the heat in case it's a bit spicy.


(sorry my pics sort of suck...but my family was watching me take photos and it was making me nervous!)

This is a seriously delicious meal, so please try it today!

grace....in the little things.
1. Having a (free!) personal trainer for a step-dad. He's whipping me into shape!
2. Getting to enjoy a traditional Indian wedding, and wear a traditional outfit! I'll post pics sometime.
3. Rainy days in July.
4. Getting paid to make cupcakes.
5. Red Pin bowling with my family.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Mag Hag

I tend to treat book stores like libraries. I go in, walk around aimlessly for way too long, picking up books and magazines along the way. Then I settle in a chair, or corner of the coffee shop, and copy recipes, take notes from reference books, and sometimes read a chapter or two of the latest best seller and then I just get up and leave it all there for someone else to put away. I don't think that's exactly what they had in mind when these places opened, but it's always worked for me, so I see no problem in it.





Occasionally I purchase a book or two. Today I came home with this handful of magazines. Cosmopolitan for my fashion and love advice, and because it's a guilty pleasure of mine. You love it too, just admit it. Then we have Real Simple, Gourmet and Bon Appetit for my foody pleasure. I love reading magazines that have anything to do with food. Or crafts. Not that I'm very crafty, but sometimes reading a crafty magazine like Real Simple or Martha Stewart makes me feel crafty, so it's almost the same as being crafty, right? Right. Anyway, I'm looking for some inspiration in the kitchen department lately and these magazines should do the trick. I'll keep you updated on any good finds. Or not. I tend to sort of "forget" about my little blog here, so I might completely forget I even told you about this. Haven't I mentioned my memory loss before?

I also picked up my weekly copy of the Oklahoma Gazette. This week's issue features their annual "Best of OKC" poll, which is a survey for the best food, drink, arts, entertainment, services and people in OKC. I think the nominees for this years survey are some of the best yet. I've already voted twice, and I think you should too! Vote for the Norman Music Festival, vote for the deadCENTER, vote for La Baguette, vote for Lauren Corbyn Interiors. Or vote for whoever tickles your fancy. All the nominees deserve some recognition for all the hard work they put into what they do. So go pick up a copy and exercise your right to vote!

I'm now off to ogle and drool over Bake it Pretty.

.g.R.a.C.e.
1. Computer-free days.
2. Grand Lake for the 3rd weekend in a row.
3. TastyKitchen.com look me up and be my friend! User name: Wallycado. Duh.
4. Cooler weather. "Cooler" meaning anything UNDER 100 degrees.
5. Passion Pit.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Birthday worthy cupcakes.

Do you all know Joy the Baker? If you don't, you should get to know her. Her blog is everything I hope my blog to be, except mine will always be a little more Wallycado-ish. She's funny, and cool, and a pretty rad chick in general. No, I don't know her in real life, but I imagine we'd be fast friends.

A few weeks ago my best friend, Meesh, threw a birthday party for her fiance Mr. B. When I offered to make cupcakes for the occasion, Meesh gladly let me take control of the dessert as long as whatever I made had chocolate. Mr. B loves him some chocolate.


I have a few chocolate cake/cupcake recipes in my arsenal, but I've yet to find my favorite. And since I was making these for someone who is very important to my best friend, and myself, I decided I had to make the best chocolate cupcake recipe I could get my hand on. So I went to Joy the Baker for guidance. And boy did she deliver. Here's her recipe for both the cupcakes and icing.



In fact, I don't think I'll be trying out any other chocolate cake recipes. I've found the winner. It has all that is good in this world; cocoa powder, sour cream, coffee. There's even Ovaltine in the icing. I've never really been a chocolate on chocolate kind of gal, but these cupcakes totally changed my mind. Just remind me next time to use a different piping tip. My icing sort of looks like little piles of poo atop my chocolaty cupcakes.



Because it was a party, I decided to dig out my giant cupcake pan . If you click on the link, you'll see what a giant cupcake is supposed to look like. I clearly didn't achieve that look, but I still think mine was pretty festive. Especially when you put 27 candles on it. Meesh and I decided that it was very Christmas on Mars-y. Wayne Coyne would approve. (I hope!)




Mr. B definitely approved, which is all that mattered.

Make these chocolate on chocolate cupcakes for 4th of July. Or for you next birthday party. Or even just because it's Thursday and you need some chocolate. They are so so worth it.

Grace.
1. Two new cds : Wilco (the album), and Iron and Wine: Around the Well
2. Spending 4th of July at Grand Lake for the 27th summer of my life! I'm so excited I might pee my pants!
3. My brother coming home just to go to the lake.
4. Greek salads from N D's Foods. Actually, anything from N D's Foods...
5. New green flip flops.