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FL Heat

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Everything posted by FL Heat

  1. I can take this to ANY casual gathering (I live in Florida now), and there's always someone who hasn't had this and who gets to hear all about Ro-Tel. I do mine in a crockpot, though. And love it even more with plain ol' corn tortillas rather than chips. Like the tortillas & queso we'd get when. . ..intoxicated & needing nourishment at Taco Cabana in college. We grill chicken wings. . .salt, pepper, canola oil, grill them, then toss in buffalo sauce. . . .and Nullo, we do a similar jalapeno popper. . . .except we leave them cut in half, put a piece of blue cheese in each jalapeno boat, and wrap the bacon around. There's also enough women at our gatherings that I don't hesitate to put out a plate with some unusual fruits & cheeses. It gets eaten, and no one loses a finger to the menfolk's forks & toothpicks. Diana
  2. The very first time I had Indian food (at an Indian restaurant, with the oh-so-handsome Indian man whose parents ran the place), the same thing happened (he wasn't my first boyfriend, just my first head-over-heels-he's-the-cutest-thing-EVER crush in college). And I still associate the fragrance (which I thought was amazing when I walked in and horrific when I walked out) of Indian restaurants with those feelings. We can be pathetic together. Diana
  3. Favorites around here . . .artichoke hearts, tomatoes, scallions, a little salt & pepper; black beans, feta cheese, green onions, tomatoes, lime juice, olive oil, salt & pepper; feta cheese, cucumbers, tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, oregano, salt & pepper; blue cheese, tomatoes, olive oil; cucumbers, tomatoes, sour cream, fresh dill, lemon juice. Also popular is chili or soup. . .make large batches, freeze in the disposable containers, thaws in the AM, heats in the microwave at lunch. Chili's our favorite, but a vegetable soup is wonderful, too. I buy different flavors of wraps and put different cheeses, meats, and vegetables in there. Tops on the boyfriend's list is tomato, cucumber (do you see a trend?), lettuce, turkey, and any smoked cheese with spicy mustard on a spinach wrap. Diana
  4. My dad puts celery seed on sliced tomatoes, then puts the tomatoes in a green salad. I like to use it in tuna salad (the boyfriend doesn't like celery, but doesn't seem to mind the celery seed) and ground up with salt & pepper for sprinkling on chicken. Or mixed with butter that I rub on chicken before roasting. I cleaned out my spices as part of the kitchen remodel. If I couldn't remember the last time I used it, I threw it away. Savory's tasty in pot pies. As fifi mentioned, fennel seed is just great in anything you want to taste Italian-y. I used it in an apple/ground chicken/walnut stuffing for pork chops, too. I thought it smelled nice next to the apple, so I figured it'd taste okay, too. . .and it did. Diana
  5. For Thanksgiving I made an appetizer that involves puff pastry, mini-muffin tins, cranberry sauce, and brie cheese. They're good warm from the oven, and perfectly tolerable room temp. Basically. . .cut puff pastry in 2-inch squares, push it down in the mini-muffin thingies; drop a dollop of cranberry sauce and a piece of brie into it. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes or until the edges are golden. If you make a cranberry sauce to serve alongside it, that'd be nice, too. . most people like cranberry sauce, right? I like cranberry sauce. Diana
  6. FL Heat

    inexpensive recipes

    The 59 or 69 cents/lb whole chickens are at our meat market (a 40 minute drive, but worth it for the quality & prices), the 79 cents/lb are at the grocery store right now (a 5 minute drive). At the grocery store, they were frozen and varied from miniscule to are-you-sure-that-isn't-a-turkey size. A tool I recently found that's helped a lot is that Publix has their weekly circulars online. . .you plug in your zip code and see the flyer for your store. Short ribs are $2.19/lb this week; since I'd never tried making them before (but wanted to after reading the "Braisin' Hussy" thread), it seemed like a good time to buy them. So I'll probably go tomorrow and buy a couple more packages for the freezer, since last night's were wonderful--and required the purchase of ONLY the ribs, as I had everything else I needed already in the pantry. And that's where the thriftiness lies. . .if it's a genuinely good deal and you'll really use the product, stocking up on it (if it can be stored long-term) when it's on sale and knowing who charges what (89 cents/lb for oranges at the grocery store or 10 for $1 at the farmer's market; while asparagus costs $2.99/lb both places) saves more money in the long run. I really think we could eat for 2 weeks just off what's in the freezer--when I bake bread, I make 1 extra loaf and put it in the freezer for the weeks I don't have time, for example. When the brand of organic vegetable stock I like is on sale, I don't hesistate to grab 3 or 4 boxes, since I know it'll get used. Why, no, I don't obsess about shopping and prices, why do you ask? Diana
  7. FL Heat

    inexpensive recipes

    Roast chicken. Whole chickens vary from 59 cents/lb to 79 cents/lb. Looks beautiful. Tastes wonderful. Goes perfectly with anything from the farmer's market. Chili. Tortilla soup. Chicken fried steak (cube steak is ALWAYS cheap, if you live in a part of the country that carries it). Fajitas (skirt steak is cheap). Pork satay skewers (we use country ribs for that, since you have to cube the meat anyway). Frittatas. This is hard to answer! I cook on a pretty tight budget, but we eat like kings. I shop at the farmer's market, too, and base the meals around that, the grocery store sales, and the meat market specials. If something we like is on sale, we get extra and freeze it. Diana
  8. FL Heat

    Beaujolais Nouveau

    I just wanted to say that I picked up a bottle of the Michel Picard based on what everyone has said in this thread--I'm just starting to learn about wines, I enjoy the sweeter whites (because, well, I just do), and while I don't LOVE it, it's pleasant. . .like happy grape juice. I appreciate the honesty & knowledge of everyone who posted, it made buying this particular bottle less angst-ridden than most other times. Diana
  9. Mom: Tennesse Dad: Texas Boyfriend's mom: Illinois, with a German mother Boyfriend's dad: Pennsylvania, with a German mother I HAD to make a pumpkin pie for him and made a key lime pie because we had visitors from out of Florida with us. But growing up, we always had pecan pie and a lemon meringue, with a chocolate icebox pie on the years the Grandma from Tennessee was with us. Diana
  10. I started a new medication that's making me a little bit queasy (for the short term). The foods I'm familiar with eating for an upset tummy--saltines, bananas--aren't SouthBeachy. Any suggestions for low-processed things? Diana
  11. I have to prod for feedback from the boyfriend--he was from a big family and a no-nonsense mom & stepmom, so food in front of him is consumed. "How is it?" I ask, and get one of several responses: "It's good, I'm just tired tonight." (It's okay, but not better than hot wings) "It's really, really good." (It's really, really good) "What's in <item> that makes it taste so funny?" (I'm eating this because I love you, please don't make it again) He thinks the weirdest thing is when people will say (of my food), "It looks great!" and instead of saying "thanks", I say, "I hope you like it." (Well, I don't care nearly as much how it looks as how it tastes!) When we're out, "This is good" translates to "We could do this better at home." "Different" means "not nearly what I was hoping for"; and "even <name hidden to protect the guilty> could make this better" (with the name being that of someone we know who's a really awful cook). Variations include: "I might have liked this when I was a bachelor" (to the boyfriend, this means edible but not up to his current standards); "I'd make this at home if I thought you'd like it" (usually said by me of something I REALLY like that's done well at a restaurant that I know he won't eat--weird vegetables, chutneys, fish dishes). Dad's got a good one: "It's good, but it's no cheese enchilada." Diana
  12. The table placement I like because, yeah, it's out of the way. And secluded, in a way, more intimate. A chair pushed in shouldn't hinder movement too much (in my mind's eye), and if anything, it'll be a great place to set things as you're going in & out. Plus, if a good amount of prep work is being done and you or the wife want to sit while doing it, you're still IN the kitchen. I don't know if it's feasible in your plans, but our ultimate goal is to build a true "nook" extension on the house. Two benches, with storage underneath, and a table in between them. Nothing else, just windows on the three walls. Seats 4 comfortably, 6 in a pinch, 7 if we bring in an extra chair. We do have the benefit of living in Florida, so most of our entertaining is outdoors, and having seating indoors isn't a top priority, so my view is a little skewed :) About the sink. . .if it's deep, and something's heavy, us shorties have a heck of a time lifting--we just don't have the force someone up higher does. My kinesiology teacher would be SO embarrassed by that explanation. But she won't be bending from the waist. . .she'll be reaching in and lifting with only shoulder power. I'm a sturdy gal, but the 12 inch cast iron being rinsed in the sink we have now (9 inches deep?) is hecka hard for me to handle. The oils & vinegar are set upright, vinegars on the left side of the cabinet, oils on the right. A few have to lay down, those are in the middle, kinda keeping everything separated. I'm a wee bit compulsive about things (I'm a divider user at the grocery store!), so I just kept fiddling with the height of the shelf above it until it was high enough for most of the bottles to slide under and low enough for me to still reach things. We're actually building a case for the room outside the kitchen (a mud room) to hold things like. . .the old blender I can't convince him to get rid of, the coffeemaker I know we need to keep but never use, and other "things". Is there a similar compromise you could reach for things like the breadmaker & the fondue pot? Or a place you could put a shelf (up out of the way) to display them on? Diana
  13. The first floorplan pkenna did is almost immediately what popped into my head as far as placement of the dining table goes. We're a two-person household as well, so HAVING a table is important; having a great table to entertain at? Eh, our friends like us enough that they'll put up with being a little squished. A thought (I'm 5'2" as well). . .when we remodeled, the boyfriend dropped the outlets on the wall down a couple of inches so that I could reach them without climbing across the countertops. We emphasized the undercounter space as much as we could so that I wouldn't have to reach up for very much, and when the upper cabinets themselves were installed, they dropped them about an inch lower than is standard, so now I can reach right to the bottom shelf of those cabinets without stretching. Regarding the deep sink. . .if the wife is short, a super-deep sink is NOT going to be much fun for her. As for clutter--quite honestly, once I had a place for everything and everything in its place, clutter virtually disappeared. Cleaning wasn't an issue, since putting something back no longer required moving 18 other items. And since it's working so darn well for us, I'll chime in with the rustic charm (?) that pegboard brings to a workspace. Our kitchen is similar in size to yours, but a different layout, which alleviates the galley dilemma. Ours is an "L", with the long part of the L being a workspace over the dishwasher (left of sink), sink, and workspace (right of sink). The short part of the L is a stove and a pantry. We moved the fridge off the linoleum (KITCHEN STARTS HERE!) area that we're currently ripping up (who puts linoleum over hardwood???) and re-established the kitchen boundaries, making it a "U" instead of an "L". Pegboard, left side of sink. All prep here is for baking & mixing. Pegboard, right side of sink. If I reach up from the cutting board, I have all my oils & vinegar on the bottom shelf of the upper cabinet. The corner cabinet holds all kinds of papers (plastic wrap, plastic bags, parchment paper, foil) and the tupperware containers (there's a lazy susan in there to make it easier). The large corner upper cabinet holds mixing bowls & large serving dishes. Diana
  14. I'm not sure if you're in the same boat we were in, but we made three lists. . .the things I dearly WANTED (in some cases, the expensive things, in other case, not), what I'd settle with if there was no other alternative (ie, a dishwasher that worked), and a compromise list. . .like the features from the expensive dishwasher that I thought would be the most beneficial. I was really surprised at the quality things I could get that weren't a "BUY OUR BRAND" advertising blitz name. And in shopping around, with lots of footwork, we found (for example) a Maytag dealer who let a floor model dishwasher go for much less than it orginally cost. The scratch & dent Sears store "French door" fridge for $800 instead of the $1400. Plus the cost of appliance paint for touch-ups. I think my point was that if you shop around in your area (like what works in Florida might not work there!) and write down names, prices, places, and basically go into every purchase armed to the teeth with whatever information you can find ("I read in Consumer Reports that this sink scratches easily. . . ."), you'll end up with much better things that you'll probably be a lot happier with. And I'm with fifi. Scrimping & saving at every opportunity leads to the chance to splurge some where you want it. . .I picked a less expensive cabinet front so that I could get the roll-out drawers in the pantry & the lazy susan in the corner piece. Good luck! Diana
  15. Tuna & bean salad has become one of my favorite throw-together things to eat. Mine's not so pretty as yours, though. . . . Wonderful blog :) Thanks for sharing your days with us! Diana
  16. FL Heat

    Dinner! 2004

    Thanks for the nice words about the CFS. Did my heart good to eat it, even more good to make it. And those meatballs. . .yum, wow, I wanted to reach right into the monitor and grab one. Diana
  17. FL Heat


    I bought one large chunk, cut it into smaller pieces, put each smaller piece into a small bag, all the small bags into one large bag labelled "pancetta", put the whole mess in the freezer, and pull out small bits as I need them for cooking. I've used it for cooking green beans, in sauces, on pizza, and in soups, and no one's gotten sick yet! Diana
  18. We bought inexpensive plastic dropcloths and put them on the floor, threw them over the furniture, whatever. Left them down until the drips dried so we could re-use them. . .the only BAD drip was when my ponytail ended up in the touch-up paint. Diana
  19. Our ceilings are "popcorned". We chose to use a thick roller and good-quality paint. By "popcorned" I mean it looks as though someone thought stucco would be nice--no, wait, popcorn--no, stucco!--no, popcorn!, and finally decided after the last layer of popcorn to call it a day. If it's really really textured, a thick roller (and a little more paint than you think you'll need, as the thick rollers soak up half a gallon at a time, it seems like) and a handle should do the trick. And you won't have to cover as much as you would with a sprayer. That's just me, though. I'm cheap :) And all for figuring out ways I can do it without anyone else's help. Diana
  20. FL Heat

    Dinner! 2004

    Chicken fried steak with cream gravy and roasted sweet potatoes. I was feeling homesick for Texas. Diana
  21. One 1-cup Pyrex one 2-cup Pyrex one 1-cup plunger like Alton Brown uses ("That's SO NEAT!" I yelled during a show where he used it with honey. . . .and three weeks later, they appeared at the door. Seriously, this boyfriend is sticking around) 1 two-cup plunger 2 sets of plastic measuring cups(but I hate one of them) 2 sets of plastic measuring spoons And each one belongs in a designated spot, and I get real grumpy when they get used and not put back in the "right" place. Diana
  22. The floor looks great! I was trying to convince a certain someone we should use a similar plan to cover some nasty "wood-pattern" linoleum in our ENTRYWAY (why the entryway?? WHY??), but he said he can't picture how it would look. . . .aha! Now he will be able to! Thank you much! If you have a Lowe's as well as a Home Depot, check the prices on cabinetry at Lowe's. We got better quality for a bit less money that way. Diana
  23. Fresh pico de gallo-- tomatoes, cilantro, onion, jalapeno Corn tortilla, rubbed with a lime wedge, sprinkled with salt Tangerine off the neighbor's tree, warm from the sun, juice going everywhere Fresh mangoes As already noted--fresh tomatoes, still warm, eaten like an apple What a fantastic way to start my day, thinking about those kinds of foods! Diana
  24. We'll be smoking the larger turkey and doing a smaller one in the oven (we have friends from all walks of life, and my parents, coming this year, so I don't want to disappoint anyone hoping for a "regular" turkey). After reading nessa's post, though, we will indeed have smoked turkey gravy. Hadn't even crossed my mind, but it's genius! And after reading Susan in FL's foodblog, I think I'll add some sort of grouper dish to the menu, to make it "Florida". Diana
  25. Mmmmmm....fried grouper sandwich. . .in weather like this, oh wow, what a GREAT day y'all must have had! I, uh, need to add grouper to my shopping list now. Thank you! Diana
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