Saturday, January 24, 2009

That Football Thingy

Ya know that upcoming Football Thingy? What is it? The Uber Bowl? The Pooper Bowl? AH! THE SUPER BOWL! That's it. Just super.

Well the thing is, the REAL thing of it - is that the Super Bowl always falls on my birthday weekend! How rude is that? Does the NFL just not care about the day I was born? I feel so insignificant - like a pea without a pod, a grain of sand without an hourglass, a pickle without a pregnancy, a Viagra email without a spam destination, a fax minus its cover sheet, a bank with no bailout money, a Cheney with no one to shoot at. STOP ME. Shut up self. Wow that was fun.

Anyway, LAST YEAR for my birthday we were thinking where-oh-where shall we go for this VERY significant day of my birth? Well, nowhere, Miss Coversheetless Fax, because the Super Bowl was right here in Phoenix. That's right! You want a flight in or out of Phoenix? Well good luck with your inner-private-jet because that's as close to the jet stream you're going to get! Uh huh. And noooo you can't go to Vegas because everyone there is there for the Superbowl too - so just forget it!

So THIS YEAR, we were again talking about where to go, what to do, and again, Vegas comes up because it's so very close - an hour's flight away. But alas, it seems there are no deals in Sin City over the BIG weekend. Do you now see my suffering? It's a first-world problem, I know, but still.

All I have to say is, it's a good thing I'm not big on celebrations - that I'm actually really low key about my birthday. You didn't pick up on that? Oh yeah. In reality, I'm just ho-hum about almost all traditional celebrations, but especially ones that are focused on me. I think it's others who feel like they have to make the day special. But really, a simple card will do. I'm easy that way.

This year, however, there will be a little twist to the weekend - Arizona is IN the Super Bowl! For the first time in, like, a thousand years! I think the last time they went, pterodactyls were still roaming the Mother Ship. This is what I hear. I'm not a big sportician, but I actually saw the playoff game and enjoyed it! What le heck? Who am I? It was a roller coaster though - a few times I thought I was going to blow a capillary and it was touch and go.

So I don't know...I'm kind of looking forward to the game next weekend. Who said that? I said that. If I was already in a grave - I'd be rolling over in it right now. But I'm not, so I can't. And that's a good thing actually because I don't like eating dirt. Instead, I'd rather eat this dip....

It is a real departure for this blog, but I'm going to post a NON-DESSERT recipe. I know, right! My grains of sugar are organizing a mutiny as we speak - the flour is going to throw itself at my faux-fur. It's a shocker. But for this upcoming chip-and-dip weekend...I give you this anomaly....

Mexican Artichoke Dip

I used to make this dip about 10 years ago, but had forgotten all about it until my sister recently asked me for the recipe. Since December, I've been making it again and - WOW - why did I ever stop making it? We like it with tortilla chips; and honestly, we've been "liking it" about every single weekend since I rediscovered it. So, I should actually say we love it. We can't get enough of it right now. It's a rather healthy little dip, and it's low fat and all - but with the quantities we're consuming, I'm just not sure it's healthy at all, but there you have it. Even better? It could not be easier to throw together.

1 c. light mayo (or, fat free)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 c. soft breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. hot pepper sauce
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 cans (14 oz. each) artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped
1 can (4 oz.) chopped green chilies
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, combine mayo, Parmesan, breadcrumbs, Worcestershire, hot pepper sauce and garlic powder. Gently fold in artichokes and green chilies. Spoon mixture into a casserole dish (or any oven-proof dish) coated with cooking spray. Cover and bake for 20 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips, pita wedges, melba rounds, or veggies. Makes about 4 cups. ENJOY!

Monday, January 12, 2009

I Thought I Was French

My ancestry is chock full of French-ness. And, I admit to being a bit of a francophile. There are no medications for it, so please don't slay me over it. Even worse, right now I'm reading "Marie Antoinette: The Journey" and cannot get enough of it. It's really an illness. I've been cussing in French for weeks now - and all of it sounds so much more delicious in French, really! I feel so delicate tossing out f-bombs in francaise. Mais bien sur!

With this book I'm reading, I find myself fantasizing about wearing all those poufy dresses and wigs and hats. And then I realize I'm wearing flannel pajama pants. I wonder if I'd have been a good duchess or countess. And then I remember that I cringe when someone says "Miss" or "Ma'am" to me. I dream of all those balls and social extravaganzas. And then I recall that I'm a total homebody; I practically need rocket fuel to propel my butt out of the house.

So, maybe it's not my era. But if I could choose a super-power? Puh-lease, hands down - time travel. Can you imagine? Oh swoon.

Well, with all this Frenchification and armchair time-traveling lately, I thought I might make something, well, French and, well, from another era. Duh. So hard to follow, no? Um, no.

What I decided upon, mon amies, was Calissons. What le heck are they, you ask? There are a few historical versions of their origin, but apparently this confectionery was introduced in 1473 for the wedding dinner of King Rene's second marriage. Later, during the 19th century, Calisson factories sprouted up and today, the capital of Calisson production is found in the Provence region.

Now, since I'm French and all - I thought mine would turn out just perfectly. You know, my French blood and everything. Makes sense to moi. Well, I don't think mine turned out quite right, despite all those French cells screaming through my bone marrow. I just don't get it.

But anyway, on the subject of time travel, what era would you blast yourself into, if you could?


I honestly can't recall from where I obtained this recipe - somewhere on the intertwined interwebs; usually, I print out a recipe and include the name of the creator. In this case, clearly my French blood interfered. Anyway, these taste a bit like Marzipan but with a nice hint of fruity flavor and, to me, a yummier slant of sweetness than Marzipan. The color of the nougat should actually be more homogeneous and smoother - mine appear a bit funky because there was still some skin on my sliced almonds and I'm not sure I ground them fine enough. Dang me. They are extremely easy to make and a nice little treat if you like almondy flavors with a hint of fruit. This is a translated recipe, so forgive the annoying measurements. It's not you, it's me.

6.3 oz. ground almonds
3 oz. powdered sugar
1.75 oz. apricot jam
1/4 tsp. almond extract
2 tsp. orange blossom flower water

For the icing: 1 egg white & 3/4 c. powdered sugar (and milk, if needed, to thin icing)

In a food processor, grind almonds as fine as possible. Add sugar and pulse until combined, just a few seconds. Add jam, extract, orange water and process until it forms a smooth paste - it may ball-up in the processor, indicating it's finished combining. It will be a sticky dough, but form it into a ball and place on a large piece of plastic wrap (the piece should be much bigger than the ball) - place another piece of wrap on top of the ball and then roll the dough out (rolling on top of the 2nd piece of wrap) until about 1/4 inch thick. Uncover and leave at room temperature for 1-2 hours or until the dough is not sticky to the touch.

If you have an almond-shaped cutter, use that as it is the traditional shape. If not, use a small round cutter and then use a knife to cut each circle in half. Alternatively, you could use a knife to hand-cut almond shapes. Place cut-outs on a baking sheet lined with parchment and refrigerate for about an hour or until the candies are firm.

For the icing, mix together the egg white and powdered sugar; if too thick, add a bit of milk. It should have the consistency of a thick syrup. Dip the top of each Calisson into the icing, letting the excess drip off, then place onto the parchment. Repeat with the remaining candies and then let them sit at room temperature overnight. ENJOY!