Sunday Somethings

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Hello, Sunday.

How’s it going out there friends? It’s been a beautiful weekend in my neighborhood, though admittedly I haven’t been out and about too much to enjoy it.  Will try to do better today before this week’s freeze commences. 

I’ve finally managed to catch up on my life and “I’m busy” hasn’t been in my vocabulary for really, the last week. Progress is being made on the balance front.  I hope you, too, have found time to put your feet up.  If not, I wish that for you this week.

Lots of somethings for your consideration, so without further ado:

No, Mom, I’m not angry. I’ve been accused of this for years from my elders, so I’m happy to learn that bitch resting face is real (though, I don’t think I have it, but I’m pretty sure The Big Buddha did).

“I had no idea that drinking eight beverages a week could result in a baby. I always thought, somehow, that there were other activities involved.”  A hilarious commentary on the CDC’s offensive public service announcement

Amidst the Zika epidemic, a real-life look at life with microcephaly.

As we all ready for the Super Bowl, a heart-crushing look at the game not remembered.

Related: The Super Bowl Five have attended every single Super Bowl.  BFFs 4-Ev-R.

Still related:  The cutest commercial (so far).

During emergency C-section, this baby got lost. And then found.  Sneaky little tyke!

Adventure, or horror? I think I’ll take a pass on these travel destinations.

More teachers making a difference.

Doggy bags are just so American. Not so popular in France.

And finally, How you doin’?  Hilarious Tinder pick up lines.

Have a good week!

Written while mentally preparing for chili-making.

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A Mardi Gras Potluck

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Last year on a whim, I decided to organize a Cinco de Mayo potluck at work.  In an effort to make sure we had enough of the foods that we needed to make it epic, a few of us created a sign-up sheet that covered all the bases, and had enough options for those of us that cook, and those of us that just want to run to the store and grab something.  The end result was a gut-busting success.  So successful in fact, that our office potluck has become somewhat of a quarterly tradition, and each time, everyone goes so above and beyond expectations that we’re all left eager for more.

A few weeks ago, we decided to have a Mardi Gras potluck to kick off the new year and welcome some new staff members into the mix. The Potluck Party People and I came up with a very comprehensive menu of goodies and I figured that I’d share it, and hopefully either inspire you to do the same, or help you in planning your own Fat Tuesday bash.

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We’re building an epic potluck, so hearty foods for sustenance:  

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Green Curry Chicken Wings

green curry chicken wings

Rumor has it that there’s some sort of football game on Sunday?  

Oh yes, January (or in this case February) Thanksgiving.  Bring on the food!

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I’m a bit sad to admit that I don’t yet have Super Bowl plans this year. No one I know, including myself, really seems to care.  Once the exhaustion of fantasy season is over (reminder: I won my league because I’m awesome-I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to brag about this again), and my beloved Bills are out for the year, I find myself not much invested. Sad, but true.

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Hot and Sour Salmon Noodle Bowl

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When sitting down with the calendar the other day, I realized that there are like, seven food holidays crammed into two weeks time:  the Super Bowl, Chinese New Year, Mardi Gras and Valentine’s Day. Okay that’s four, but still an overwhelming amount, and not enough time in between to give all proper due, so I’m going to pick and choose a little bit.

Chinese New Year sort of caught me off guard, but it just so happened that my kitchen returned to China for a brief second for this hot and sour salmon noodle bowl.  I always forget about salmon because…well, I must be the only person not counting her omega 3 intake, but I got some in my magic box of ingredients last week and turned it into what you see here. Just so happens that I’m using it to nod to Chinese New Year, which falls on Monday.  There are a few traditional dishes that people make to mark the holiday: dumplings, fish, long noodles, nian go.  I guess I’ve got two off of that list with this dish, so lo and behold, it works!

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Sunday Somethings

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Hello, Sunday.

Well dudes and dudettes, January’s over.  Gone in the blink of an eye, it seems. Did your resolutions make it?

The year of balance is going well for me, and this weekend has been the best example:  good food, a much overdo catching up with my favorite people with enough time leftover to continue the binge I started earlier this week.  A little cooking, but no slaving over the stove.  Plus, it’s easy to have good vibes when the days start getting longer, and the weather does not necessitate layers upon layers.  2016, you’re looking pretty good.

I hope yours is going just as well.

(If not, the pictured scones may help.  Recipe + raspberries)

The new, the news. What’s in the news? Well, here are some somethings:

A sign of the times.  The IOC’s new rules for transgender athletes.  Interesting read.

Talk about putting your foot in your mouth. Off with his head?  The governor of Maine seems to think that’s a good idea.  Seems like he has a lot of them*.

Covered up.  Italy covered up its famous statues for Iranian president’s visit.  I thought it was a nice gesture.  Others, not so much.

Is magic really real? J.K. Rowling sure is convincing us it’s possible by announcing three new wizarding schools.  Pick me, pick me!

Related:  I got my Harry Potter coloring book this week. Because there are no limits to how cool I can be.

Science, ya’ll.  Drinking champagne may help prevent Alzheimer’s.  Sounds good to me, cheers!

Real life dating confessions.  It sucks to be out there, so best to have a sense of humor about it!

Advice to your younger self. Good advice for any age.

Turning off the falls. Niagara Falls is getting a makeover, and being shut off.  What?  This is super weird to me, but Mom actually remembers when it happened the first time.  The magic of engineering.

There are not words to describe how horrible the Flint water crisis is. I went to high school there. Did I ever tell you that?  Maddening that anyone could let this happen.

All the chocolate.  You’re welcome.

And finally, your weekly  dose of cuteness.  You’re welcome some more.

*not.

Have a good week!

Written over a cuppa and a scone.  

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Chai Tea

Chai tea

I’m happy to report that after approximately 3 weeks of feeling less than stellar, I think the cold-that-won’t-end is saying its last goodbye.  And to it I say, good riddance.

The silver lining of all of this is that I finally got around to the Downton Abbey binge I’ve been planning for the past three years. Eight plus couch hours a night will do that.  I’m not all the way through yet, so please no spoilers (though, I do know some)!

Despite the length of the stay of the aforementioned cold, I didn’t resort to my traditional sick foods:  baked custard, chicken soup- but rather ate all that you’ve been seeing here, because nothing says “I don’t feel well like steak frites.”  Alternatively, I was in scrounge mode. You know it.  The “do I seriously have to make myself food right now? Screw that- I’m eating frozen broccoli, leftover steak and cheese and crackers for dinner.”  Yes, it happened one night.  Just like that.  

The one thing that I did have a hankering for was tea. Remember how I’m a little bit wanna-be-British inside?  But am also a little bit Southeast Asian? Well, the two combine wonderfully in this perfect chai tea.

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Tea.  Soothes all ails, yah?  Growing up, my family did actually have regularly daily tea time, though without the pomp and circumstance, and with a poolside view.  While we were all mostly loyal to the black tea, milk and sugar please, once in a while we’d ask Mom for “Indian tea” and she obliged- a creamy, sweet tea laced with spices that our little minds could not yet fathom. If I close my eyes, I can still smell it on the stovetop, filling the kitchen with its fragrant odor. 

Years later “Indian tea,” aka chai tea became all the rage and can now be found everywhere, but to me, Mom did it first (though clearly, not before the entire Indian subcontinent).

Dreaming of the chai in all its glory, I lazily popped a chai tea bag into a mug and nuked it…only to get the most lackluster tea! Gross.

Dammit, Mom, why is yours always the best?

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Cannoli Granola Breakfast Bowl

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I’ve kind of been sucking at breakfast lately. It’s my favorite meal of the day and I just can’t get inspired.  I was pretty stuck on smoothies all summer long but-news flash– it’s averaging 20 degrees these days, and frozen blueberries aren’t going to do it.  Oatmeal, my usual winter staple, has been met by my stomach with a lackluster response as of late and I haven’t often had the forethought to make something like the brown bread or English muffins freezer ready.  I’ve honestly been at a huge loss.

Then, after a delicious dinner at Gene & Georgetti’s for restaurant week and after one bite of tiramisu, I was struck with a craving for all things Italian which, if you know me, is hella weird.  Still, I couldn’t shake the feeling and figured I’d do my best to turn one of my favorite Italian desserts, the cannoli, into something I can eat for breakfast on the reg, or at least until it is once again smoothie season and I came up with a Cannoli Granola Breakfast Bowl.

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Auntie Betty used to make cannolis every Christmas, and since the Buddhas have been holiday-ing without the extended family, I haven’t had one in years.  Well, a good one.  I rarely ever buy them out because I know they’ll never be as good as Auntie Betty’s, and rather than get mad about it, I live a cannoli-free life.  I’m not even going to pretend that this bowl of goodness is any sort of adaptation of that, but figured I’d share with you my cannoli history.

Auntie Betty’s made her cannoli shells from scratch, and stuffed them with a mixture of sweetened ricotta.  Half were filled with that weird fruit-cake-dried-fruit mix (no thanks) and the other half were plain.  Each had green or red dyed coconut on each end to keep them festive.  Other variations I’ve had boast chocolate chips, citrus, almonds or pistachios. They really are very versatile.

I turned all these wonderful cannoli flavors into a granola, and with some ricotta and yogurt, turned that into a breakfast bowl. 

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Chicken Tacos with Tequila Caramelized Onions

chicken tacos with tequila caramelized onions and chimichurri gremolata

So here we are, day 18 of the-cold-that-will-not-end.  I think it’s getting to the almost gone point, but it’s that point that is also the worst point with the nose and the head and the snottyness.  Thankfully for all, I’ve been holed up in my house for the worst times because  I continue to be a baby about it.  I can’t help it- when I get sick, the weakness and Sadness inside come to the forefront and all I can do is wallow in my tissues until it passes and Joy is again in charge of headquarters. 

But enough about that, it’s Taco Tuesday so let’s jump on board. I forgot for a hot second that I loved tacos because I haven’t made them much lately, a staple in the summer months, but then I went to California and had duck tacos and fish tacos and my love was renewed and here we are today.

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The inspiration for this comes from an unusual source.  Licorice was kind enough to gift me a free week of Hello Fresh, a prepped-meal delivery service where they send you all the ingredients to make 3 different meals, and all you have to do is prepare them. I like the idea, but honestly it doesn’t seem like it’s really for me- I enjoy grocery shopping and meal planning far too much. However, I wasn’t going to turn down a free box of food and so when it arrived on my doorstep last Thursday I was all about giving it a chance. As I looked through the recipes and ingredients, I decided that I was going to make…none of the suggested meals. Instead, I remixed them to come up with at least three completely new dishes.  There was nothing wrong with the suggestions- everything indeed sounded delicious.  But it was almost like a big puzzle, my subconscious screaming “YOU WILL NOT BE CONSTRAINED BY THIS BOX!” and my eagerness to come up with something new no doubt signals a pathological need to control absolutely everything that happens in my kitchen.

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Sunday Somethings

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Hello, Sunday.

Yes, that’s supposed to be me. No, it does not really look like me.  Yes, I downloaded an app pointedly earmarked for “teens.”  And yes, I painstakingly spent more time than I will admit trying to get it to look like me.  I just wanted to give you all an indication of my productivity level so far this weekend. 

How was yours?  

I’ll admit that I am a little jealous of all you out East. I do  love a good snow storm when it’s not causing me to miss flights or hindering my driving. I like knowing Mother Nature is taking care of me by giving me a day when I have no where to go and nothing to do.  However, I do know that the reality of this in my life is…not so idyllic.  Because in Chicago, we man up and don’t let snow storms keep us inside. That means that despite the 2 feet of snow that may fall, I’ll still have to go to work and do all those real world things, and the snow would just be a messy nuisnace.  But once in a while, it’s not, and I’m sort of wishing that perfect winter day upon myself, especially as I get over from the cold that shall never end.  So enjoy it, East Coast.  And use it well.

This week.  What happened this week? It sort of went by in a blur for me, partly because I spent the first half of it California dreaming.  Still, this is what I managed to get out of it.  Some really thought provoking stuff…this is not. I’ll do better next week:  

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Steak Frites

Steak Frites

So I’m pretty good at planning what I’m going to make for you, even if I’m not so good at the making it more than 2 days ahead of what you see here.  Today, we have this: steak frites.    You know what did not make the cut on the list of 15+ things to “make soon”?  Steak frites.  What happened was that I went to the grocery starving on Wednesday after work and saw that steak was on sale, thought, “ooh steak!”, got home and went “hmm…steak. Steak…” and now we have steak frites. It’s okay because in the whole scheme of food impulse buys, it could be worse.

Like the piece of cake that I also impulse bought and was sub-par.  I don’t win them all.

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You can tell that I don’t make steak much. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I made steak. That’s probably due to the fact that IMO, steak, to be done right, must be cooked on a grill, and enjoyed outside on a patio somewhere, served alongside a baked potato and a fresh salad.  That’s my “I grew up in Florida and that’s how we eat steak” snobbery. And while I do have a grill, let’s be real, I won’t be using it anytime soon.  But now I had this steak, and therefore concessions would have to be made.

Then I remembered steak frites, a dish that can be found in any French or Belgian bistro- the kind of place tucked into a corner on a somewhat lit street- and taste perfect every single time, and I figured that was the answer to my impulsivity.  I mean I love fries and never need an excuse to make them.

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