Saturday, August 30, 2008

TV season premiere time

Upcoming Fall premieres I’ll be watching (also known as the period of time I have no life)

Mon., Sept. 1
PRISON BREAK, FOX, 8pm – 2 hours of Michael and Link. Self-explanatory.
GOSSIP GIRL, CW, 8pm – Thank God Cox DVR can record 2 shows at once! This once guilty pleasure has become a show that I look forward to watching each week. With that said, if I was of the age to have a teenage daughter, you had better believe she would NEVER be allowed to watch this show. The drama, drugs, sex and expensive designer clothes are too much for me to handle at times let alone a teenager.

Tue., Sept. 2
Sorry to say, but I will not be watching the new 90210 unless there is someone out there who has a really serious argument as to why I should. Argue away. Plus, I wasn't allowed to watch the original 90210 (see above Gossip Girl explanation to understand why my parents kept me from the show).

Wed., Sept. 3
, CW, 8pm – it’s Tyra time! And in keeping with the current national conventions, the first episode is noted as being called Model Inauguration. Oh the laughter to be had, I can’t wait!

Fri., Sept. 5
Stand Up to Cancer
8pm – an entire hour dedicated to Cancer on all 3 major broadcast networks (and E! television). I do applaud this huge collaborative effort - and have walked in cancer fundraisers before - I want to know when we will see celebrities standing up for the diabetes? You know the incurable disease that has increased 45% since 1987 and has become the fifth-deadliest disease that affecting 23.6 million people in the U.S. It’s hard enough to get networks to run a 20 second PSA about diabetes let alone an entire hour. Guess diabetes won’t be the vogue disease until it gets a celebrity spokesman like Lance Armstrong to speak out and give away Livestrong bracelets. (A personal side rant... now back to our regularly scheduled blog topic.)

Sun., Sept. 7
Not exactly a season premiere, but it is time for some FOOTBALL! NFL action kicks off today. If it’s Sunday, you can find me at Last Call, Nick’s or other various sports bars enjoying a cold one and cheering for my 49’ers!

Tue., Sept. 9
, ABC, 8pm – (while not exactly a season premiere) my roommate and I started watching this show over the summer. It’s not a show I have to watch immediately when I get home, but one to keep on the DVR for a day that isn’t going so great. The laugh factor on this show is off the charts. Even on the gloomiest of days, watching contestants cross the “big-red-balls” FRINGE, FOX, 8pm – the pilot sounds intriguing, so I'll give it whirl. It has to be better than 90210. J.J. Abrams is the man behind the curtain of this show and he's done such a britlliant job with LOST, it's more than worth a peak. As an added bonus, the wonderful Lance Reddick (who played Cedric Daniels on The Wire) is on the cast, which might make up for the casting of Dawson's Creek alumnus Joshua Jackson.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Monday night meals

I went to Seattle on vacation in April and, as with every trip taken there, I had to stop at the famous Pike Place Market. During this trip my aunt and I noticed a new booth that carried a wide variety of flavored, dried pastas; high-end balsamic vinegar; and various dipping sauces and marinades. We both purchased Lemon Ginger fettuccine and my aunt also bought a tri-colored, fruit-flavored macaroni.

When I returned to San Diego I was still intrigued by this company, Pappadrelle’s, and wondered if they sold any where other than Pike Place. Sure enough, their Web site ( listed a new booth at the Sunday Hillcrest farmer’s market – which just happened to be right down the street from my house. A shot time ago I went to the market and sure enough, there was the pasta booth. This time I bought the Mild Spice Red Pepper fettuccine.

One of the most exciting aspects of purchasing Pappardelle’s pasta is that each one comes with a recipe card specific for each flavor. As I learned while making the lemon-ginger fettuccine, the items they list on the recipe aren’t always easy to find, so there is some adlibbing necessary.

Here is how it went
The Pappardelle’s recipe asks for chicken breasts marinated in soy sauce and liquid smoke. Although some food Web sites suggested looking in the marinade isle or near the bbq sauce, after three stores I came up empty handed on the Liquid Smoke Seasoning. My substitute – rotisserie chicken. Since I bought an entire pound of the pasta and was just cooking for myself, I had to halve the recipe. I used three bell peppers and one medium-size jalapeno (CAUTION: if you don’t like spicy food, use maybe half of a jalapeno, or a REALLY small one). I made the first half of the pasta a week prior and thought it was lacking in the vegetable department, so decided to also add a small zucchini, cut in half moons. All in all this go-round on the pasta was good, even if it was a little spicy. I even have enough leftovers to last for a few lunches this week at work.

Oh yeah, and this meal was eaten in front of the TV while watching, and don't laugh, What a Girl Wants with Amanda Bynes -- major guilty pleasure, don't judge.

Recipe: **
Leftover stability: ***

On TV: **

Smoked Chicken & Roasted Red Pepper With Mild Spice Red Pepper Pasta
1 lb. Pappardelle’s Mild Spice Red Pepper Pasta
2 tablespoons Liquid Smoke Seasoning
¼ cup soy sauce
4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
5 red bell peppers*
1 jalapeno pepper for mildly spicy*, 2 for hot
2 cloves garlic*, minced
1 cup chicken stock
½ cup cilantro, chopped
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Mix Liquid Smoke and soy sauce for marinade. Place chicken in marinade and refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 8 hours. Grill, broil or sauté chicken until medium rare. Slice into thin, bite-sized strips and reserve.
2. Roast red bell peppers and jalapeno until skins char. Sweat charred peppers in large bowl tightly sealed with plastic wrap. Peel off and discard skins when peppers are cool enough to handle. Slice open peppers and remove seeds. Make sure to reserve juices.
3. Puree roasted peppers and juices with garlic and chicken stock in blender. Pour this sauce in large skillet or wok. Add reserved chicken and simmer. Keep warm on lowest possible heat for 10 minutes to allow flavors to blend. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
4. Meanwhile, cook pasta in 6-8 quarts of rapidly boiling salted water until al dente (about 8-10 minutes). Drain and add directly to sauce. Toss gently, add cilantro. Allow to heat through. Serve immediately. If desired, sprinkle freshly grated Parmesan on top.

Serves 6

-Or-Skip step 2, use Pappardelle’s Fire Roasted Red Pepper Pesto for “*” items.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Chocolate covered bacon, oh my!

It's not really a secret to many that I have a deep affection for bacon. Yes, that's right, the other white meat. I have often given the argument that bacon can make any sandwich better (and while I haven't tried it yet, I do think it could still make PB&J better). I offer anyone to challenge me with a sandwich that it would not make better.

With that being said, I made this argument one day at work while designing A1. The news editor Lora thought it was hilarious and while Christmas shopping this past year even found me a magnet, which is up at my desk, that says, "Bacon: It makes everything better." Quite possibly one of the best presents I've ever received (I'm easy to please). Now Lora holds the tradition of passing along Web sites with crazy bacon ideas. A few weeks ago she hit the jackpot and forwarded me the Breakfast of Champions Web site. I thought I was in heaven!

I immediately decided I could not pass up the opportunity to make my very own chocolate bacon. So Memorial Day weekend I got a package of bacon and a bag of Ghirardelli chocolate chips and went to work. I knew the bacon had to be very crispy before being dipped so I baked it in the oven at 400 deg for about 18 minutes. Once all the bacon had cooled I melted the chocolate in a double boiler and then dipped the bacon. After finishing I put the covered bacon into the freezer to harden the chocolate. From there it was chocolate covered bacon goodness!

I thought the treat, while very odd at first, was delicious. At first, the chocolate melted in my mouth and then the bacon aftertaste hit me with a high note. Something so good had to be shared, so I packed up what I didn't eat and brought it to work with me.

The reactions to this culinary experiment were quite varied. People mostly looked at me with disbelief repeating, "Chocolate bacon? Really?" Some ran quickly away from me, others reached into the Tupperware with trepid hands and the remainder couldn't run to me fast enough to try it. It was the talk of the newsroom for most of the afternoon. Seeing people's reaction made the effort of this culinary experiment quite worth it.

After the Tupperware was empty, there was talk of how chocolate covered bacon could be the next big thing in the fair circuit this year. A friend even suggested we try dark chocolate and maybe add a dash of cayenne pepper for a little bite. One even went so far as to dub the treat "chocobacon." I don't know, maybe we could be on to a good thing here.