June 19, 2013

Roasted Red Pepper and Feta Spread: Orange IS the New Pink

Side note: you know you're getting old and out of touch when only two of your thirty-eight female students can accurately identify quotes from Legally Blonde.

Now then. This palate-pleasing blend of Mediterranean flavors can be a lot of things: a dip, filling for a phyllo creation, a sandwich spread, a flavor boost for quinoa or rice, etc. There's one thing it can't be: any easier to make.

Roasted Red Pepper and Feta Spread

In a food processor, combine 1 1/2 cups of feta (preferably real Greek sheep's milk feta), 1/3 cup of roasted red peppers, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of fresh minced garlic, and fresh ground black pepper to taste.

Blend until the mixture is smooth and forms a paste-like consistency. If it's too thin, add a bit more feta. Too thick--more olive oil.

Serve this roasted red pepper and feta spread on or in whatever you want, or do what I did: prepare two crackers' worth, eat them, and then stand in the kitchen eating spoonfuls of the stuff until you run out the phone rings.

June 13, 2013

On the Occasion of My Five-Year College Reunion, or, The Hot Mess

In college, it's fairly common to become a hot mess. Whether you're partying or not, you likely struggle to manage your time, your laundry, your homework, your eating habits, and your budget. Add in hygiene, both personal and domestic, for boys.

You sign up for an 8:30 a.m. class that will satisfy three different distribution requirements and promise yourself you'll make it. And you just don't. You don't even have a hangover--you've just been up until 3:00 a.m., watching reruns of Roseanne with your roommate and building a fort. And because it's a small liberal arts college, professors actually take attendance and factor it into your grade. So when you do finally start dragging yourself to class with a vat of coffee and a to-go cereal, the girl seated next to you who was on Teen Jeopardy and has attended every class all semester looks at you like you might be contagious. You are a Hot Mess.


And then there's the partying. Pitchers on a Wednesday night feel very reasonable. A sheet of plywood and two sawhorses find their way into your living room. Food you buy at the grocery store on a whim rots in the mini-fridge while you take recovery egg-and-cheeses to the face at the snack bar attached to the dining hall. Your funnel grows mold and you still use it. You are a Hot Mess.


But here's the secret: the Hot Mess doesn't end when you graduate. You might sit in your chair on graduation day, sweating Yuengling into your polyester gown and thinking about how good it will feel to be an adult and do adult things like making kale chips or going to the farmers market, but the Hot Mess is not over.


No adult is actually an adult. They are all roughly 22 in mind, no matter what they are in body. They do stupid things late at night and then drag themselves into work at 8:00 a.m. because the paycheck or the job satisfaction or the competitive streak is a better motivator than the frowning professor's attendance sheet. They are hot messes, only now they can hide it a little better.

So, on the occasion of my five-year college reunion, here's to The Hot Mess. I'm not going, but I've designed a burrito bowl to eat in memory of the days before rent checks, regular car maintenance, and lawn care were a part of my life.

Rice, black beans, fresh corn, avocado, roasted sweet potato, jalapeno, cilantro, and salsa. Make yourself one when you're recovering from your five-year, your ten-year, your thirty-year reunion, and let your Hot Mess flag fly.

June 11, 2013

Taciturn Tuesdays: Kentucky Lemonade

This is the Summer of Bourbon. And Kentucky Lemonade is the star.

Two jiggers, as Granny would say, of bourbon (we're drinking Knob Creek). Three tablespoons real maple syrup. Two tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice. Lemon wedge for garnish.

Find some wicker, some sunlight, some sand, and some salt water. And enjoy.

June 08, 2013

Pleasant Peasant: Horiatiki Salad All Summer Long

It's humid. You're hot. Turning on the stove feels offensive and inappropriate. And it is.

So what do you do for dinner? Embrace your inner peasant and make a Horiatiki Salad (Horiatiki means "peasant," or "peasant-like," just so we're clear). It's ridiculously easy and fast, and is crunchy enough to satisfy that inner craving for chips that, let's be honest, we all carry around with us.

Horiatiki Salad

  •  One cucumber, chopped
  • One red pepper, chopped
  • One cup of kalamata olives
  • One cup of crumbled feta (use sheep's milk feta--it's worth it)
  • One tomato or one cup of cherry tomatoes, chopped
Combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl, and toss with high quality olive oil and a dash of red wine vinegar. Full disclosure: I omitted the raw onions that are traditionally included in a Horiatiki Salad. Sorry, not sorry.

The good thing is that, given the season, these ingredients will shine on their own. No need to douse them in dressing or worry about grainy tomatoes--enjoy your produce while you can!

May 15, 2013

Healthy "Chips and Dip" Won't Ruin Your Bikini Body

The weather is nice. You want to take a bowl of chips and dip and sit on a chaise longue somewhere and eat and eat and maybe drink some cold Sauvignon Blanc. But then you also want to hit the beach pretty soon.

What to do? Make "chips and dip" with fruit and yogurt and mow down without having a panic attack and trying on all your bathing suits in front of the mirror while the dog watches you, perplexed. No, I have never done this.

I know--it's not really chips and dip. This is the type of thing moms pull on their kids all the time, expecting the kids to be psyched. And the kids make a pouty face and remember how great it is at Billy's house where a Dorito fountain flows from the cupboards and there are orange "cheese" fingerprints all over the remote. But it's still pretty satisfying, and it's a hell of a lot better for you if you need a snack while you lounge.