Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Gingerbread House

Christmas is the season for ridiculous decor (putting a tree inside your house) and ridiculous food .
I am combining the two to create a Holiday Icon- The gingerbread house. This began as a very exciting prospect. Slap some cookies together and then go to town decorating....well, let me crush your candy canes- it is not that easy.

After looking online I realized that the only way to do this was to create a model. Ok, no big deal, this is why we store 60 lbs. of cardboard in the basement. I grabbed a couple of pizza boxes and beer cases and started going to town. My dreams were big. Maybe a replica of the Hayes Presidential Museum or the MOMA....At the very least a 2 story plantation house. I started cutting and taping together...

This is where I gave up. I'm sure I could have spent a couple of days doing this and making it something really special but it is hard to avoid the excitement of building it out of actual cookie and remain patient enough to perfect the angles of the chimney...

Now it was time for baking. I made a couple batches of gingerbread and threw them in the refrigerator. A few hours later it was time to roll, literally.
That damn dough was so stiff I actually bruised my palms. How in the hell can you bruise your palms!!!
After rolling it out you place the cardboard patterns on top and cut them out with a pizza cutter. 15 minutes later you have your building materials.

I whipped up some royal icing and started "glueing" my house together. Everything was going perfectly until I attempted to place the rooftops. I left the room for a second and came back to find the entire house fallen and one of my rooftops shattered!

I cried a little but eventually baked the rooftops a little thicker, waited longer for the icing to dry and finally found success. I am awesome!

now on to decorating...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Halloween Recipes

This years halloween buffet had some great successes and some absolute failures. Enjoy.

Goblin Eyes

This simple treat is one of the most disturbing. Simply buy a can of lychee fruit in syrup. Fill pit hole in each fruit with some raspberry jam and then place blueberry in the hole for a pupil.

Brittle Bones

2/3 cups sugar
pinch of salt
3 egg whites (at room temp)
large pinch of cream of tartar
1/2teaspoon of vanilla extract

preheat oven to 200

Beat egg white with cream of tartar in a mixer until soft peaks form
add sugar & salt slowly beating until stiff peaks form and meringue is shiny
add vanilla and beat just until blended
fill a pastry bad or sandwich bag with the tip cut off
form bones on baking sheets lined with parchment paper
bake for about an hour and then turn off the heat and leave the bones int he over for a few hours until they are very hard.
I stored mine in tupperware for about 5 days. I think you can keep them for at least a week in an airtight container.
Next year I think I am going to sandwich them together and fill them with a marrow like substance.

Witch Fingers

1 cup Butter, softened
1 cup Icing sugar (powdered sugar)
1 Egg
1 tsp Almond extract
1 tsp Vanilla
2 2/3 cups Flour
1 tsp Baking powder
1 tsp Salt
3/4 cup Almonds, whole blanched

beat together butter, sugar, egg, almond extract and vanilla. Beat in flour, baking powder, and salt. Refrigerate dough for about a half hour so it is not melty when you try to form the fingers.
Use about a teaspoon of dough for each finger...This is all about trial and error. Form what you think looks like a finger. Make a couple of knuckles. Press the almond onto the top to make the fingernail. Then use a small knife to make slits in the knuckles to add detail.
Bake at 325 for 20 minutes.
You can add blood or dirt if you want but after making about 5 dozen fingers I was done.

baked maggot cocoon

This is just baked Brie. I cut a large round into 3 parts and wrapped each in puff pastry. Use the scraps to make decorations ont he top. Brush with an egg wash and bake at 350 for about a half hour.


In March I ordered a brain mold that was on sale. I forgot that I had it until about a day before the party. I went back and forth on what to put in it and finally decided on a shrimp paste because it would actually look like brain matter. It was gross!! I don't mean it looked gross I mean it tasted absolutely disgusting! No one ate it, which sucks because the shrimp were the most expensive part of the halloween buffet but I can not blame anyone. It was truly horrible. Next year, cheese ball.

Vampire Repellant

Roast some garlic and serve with crusty bread to keep away the bloodsuckers.

Bat Wings

you would think chicken wings would not be a good party food but these went fast. Serve them with your favorite hot sauce for dipping to cut back on the mess. Make sure you have lots of napkins.

Spider Cider

There is not much of a recipe for Spider cider... it changes each year depending on what liquor I have sitting around. The key is to use spiced rum as the main liquor. Mix about 3 parts cider to 1 part liquor of choice. Throw in some cloves, cinnamon sticks and star anise. Add spiders to the batch and serve.
As the night goes on feel free to mix it up. I think at the end of the night we had gin, vodka and whiskey in this...

Next year will have an even more bountiful display as I am beginning my planning now!

Monday, November 3, 2008


Like many people who refuse to act their age, I am obsessed with Halloween. It enters my thoughts sometime in July and steadily takes over for all of October. This year my thoughts were shared with this election but I was able to get it together and get my Halloween on.
Halloween Decor can be cheesy or creepy and in this house we like to lean towards creepy. I guess leaning is an understatement. Most serial killers would feel at home in our house. If you only knew Sean and I through our Halloween parties you would fear for your life and the mental stability of our friends. Here are some examples of this years decor.... enjoy.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Conclusion of the Quest

Upon arriving in New Orleans I met my group at Daisy Dukes, a cafe near our hotel, for some Gumbo. Little did I know that that was the last authentic New Orleans food I would have for quite some time.
After eating middle of the road gumbo we headed to the Voodoo Fest venue and set up camp for the weekend. The Fuse dome would be my home for 14 hours a day for the next 4 days.
I scoured the festival food for a muffaletta thinking I could at least get a low rent version while stuck there each day...no luck.
Every night after leaving, my co-worker Angie and I would search for any place still selling Muffalettas at midnight. This proved to be much harder than we imagined as finding any food in this town after midnight was a task. The only hope we had were post midnight runs to Burbon street to watch groups of 21-yea-old girls make out, flash their boobs and then hurl bright red hurricane puke into ever corner of Pat O'Brians. After not eating all day and spending 14 hours working this was not the scene I was looking for. It got so bad that we actually walked into a 24 hour Arby's next to our hotel because the hunger pains were preventing us from walking any further. As we looked upon the shaved pressed meat sandwiches we both looked at each other and ran out faster than you could say "show your tits!"
With no chance of finding the Muffaletta, we aimlesslly walked until coming upon Cafe Du Monde. Their famous bignettes would have to do. A fried ball of dough mounded with powdered sugar. When I say mounded I really mean it. These pastries had enough sugar to throw you into a diabetic coma on the spot. These were good but the magic was lost on our defeated minds and bodies. We sat in bed that night wired on sugar and looking like we had engaged in a good old fashioned baby powder fight.

Eventually we reached Sunday with no sign of a Muffaletta anywhere. Maybe it was all a dream, Italian meat fairies dancing in our heads. Maybe there was a vast conspiracy to hide them from me. Maybe it was a sign of something bigger, something I could not understand nor would want to... I decided that one Muffaletta would have to do. I had a free day on Monday and would get up early, see the city, find my Muffaletta and go home happy. This was the plan. This would work. Glory would be mine.
As I loaded the conversion van with equipment Sunday night, the thought a full day to find the Muffaletta raced through my mind. As I was dreaming of the olive salad and packing a road case into the van I slipped...my pants got caught on the door of the van... I fell out of the van landing on my back while my foot remained stuck....with a violent swing my foot snapped back and smashed on the bumper. I laid there stunned and in pain until Angie ripped my pants to free me. OUCH!
I stood up and instantly knew it... "I just broke my fucking foot!" Seriously. This is not happening to me. I have one day in this swamp and I needed to get out and enjoy it with my Muffaletta. What has poor Jenny done to deserve this?

I spent the night in the hotel feeling destroyed and icing my foot. Maybe I would be able to walk...maybe I wasn't really hurt...maybe I should find religion and pray.... there was nothing I could tell myself to make this better. I still ordered a wake up call for 9am in the hopes I would be better.
Well, I wasn't better but I did decided- who cares, I work from home. I can easily do more damage but I don't really need to get around... So I got up and left, limping like Kevin Spacey in the Usual Suspects. People stared but I didn't care. I would walk to Central Grocery, get my Muffaletta and then go back and ice my foot until the pain numbed.
As I was a block away I began to salivate. I couldn't believe with all the hurdles I was finally going to get my Muffaletta, just hours before leaving New Orleans. Soon I would be sitting at a small table by myself, enjoying this Muffaletta in solitude. A perfect ending!


Central grocery is closed on Monday. I sat on the curb in front of the store, foot throbbing in pain holding back tears. I could not believe this. I stared quietly as others approached the store to see it closed but wanted to yell, "You do not deserve to be angry! I have been trying to get here for days. I have a broken foot and a righteous heart!"
In my angry meditation something sparked in my mind. I remember reading an article about a place near central grocery that had perhaps a better Muffaletta..
At this time Angie showed up to help me get home. I pleaded with her to help me find anywhere that sold a Muffaletta. She casually says, "This place has one." Without realizing it we were sitting right in front of Franks, a small restaurant with a history of great Muffalettas. This is the place that I read about. I quickly sat down ordered my Muffaletta and sat waiting quietly to finish this day! Finally, I was getting my prize.

It was just okay.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Quest for the Muffaletta

Today I am headed on a last minute business trip to New Orleans and I couldn’t be more excited. Well, it would be much better if I were going for vacation and able to take my husband instead of missing his
birthday to spend time with my weirdo company. I am sitting in the Atlanta airport right now waiting for my connections and I think it's the perfect time to declare my quest.

New Orleans- The Quest for the Muffaletta

New Orleans is a mecca for great food! Though I am excited for jambalaya, gator meat, crawfish and bigniettes, there is one food that has been on my mind for years. The Muffaletta!

As a sandwich lover this has been a dream of mine for some time. The Muffaletta is simply a round loaf filled with Sicilian meats and cheeses and topped with an olive salad. There is no reasonable explanation for my fascination, but it resides in my core. Right next to where my soul should be.

The combination of history and rareness has peaked my curiosity. Outside of New Orleans these sandwiches are nearly impossible to find. So, I have 4 days to eat as many Muffalettas as possible. Normally this would be easy but as I will be working 14-hour days we will see….

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fart Salad

You may think something called fart salad would be a novelty or some kind of weird food that tastes like farts. But you'd be wrong. Fart salad is perhaps one of my most versatile dishes. It is a simple bean salad that can be served with any meal or as a snack. Whenever I have this salad it is pretty much all I eat for two days until it's gone. And it couldn't be easier to make.

So you may be asking, why is it called fart salad? Well, we all know beans are the magical fruit with the tooting and such. For some reason I find this combination of beans, peas and corn just takes it to a whole new level. I have a fridge full of fart salad right now and since I started writing this blog I've farted four times. And these are not little, quiet farts. They are loud and explosive. On it's own, it won't make smelly farts, but this guarantee doesn't stand if you consume other foods with it. It takes about six hours for the farts to really reach their peak and if you continue to eat the salad you will have a steady stream throughout the day and night.

Just think of the uses for this! You could add a little extra to your Walter the Farting Dog Halloween costume, impress your friends with a fart signaled power hour, or simply get a seat to yourself on the bus. All I ask is that you please use this recipe responsibly. Oh, and it tastes really good too.

1 lb bag frozen peas
2 cans whole kernel corn
1 can chick peas (garbanzo beans)
1 can black beans
1/4 cup minced red onion
salt & pepper

balsamic vinaigrette
2 cloves garlic chopped
handful of basil leaves
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
about 1 cup olive oil (more or less depending on taste)
salt & pepper

1. Dump peas and minced red onion in a large bowl
2. Drain and rinse beans and corn and add to bowl
3. In a blender or food processor blend garlic, basil and vinegar
4. Slowly drizzle in olive oil until you get the flavor and consistency you want. The thicker the better for this salad (that means more oil)
5. pour dressing over beans and mix
6. salt and pepper to taste
7. eat and fart.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Keep It Simple

Turkey Burgers

In my quest for the perfect turkey burger I decided to play around last night. Turkey burgers are often too dry so I attempt to improve them with whatever I have on hand. Last night’s attempt will possibly go down as the most sorry and sad attempt to date.

I wanted to class them up. I bought some nice rolls from the bakery and sautéed some onions and mushrooms for toppings. Everything was looking good until I started to make the actual turkey burgers.

I began with 1.5 lb of ground organic turkey. I have tons of basil from my garden so I chopped up a handful of leaves and threw them in. I also had some left over roasted garlic in the fridge and figured it couldn't hurt. So that made its way in too. While grabbing the garlic I saw half a shallot that was going to be bad in a day. I minced that up. I still hadn’t addressed my dryness problem so I finely chopped some mushrooms and in they went. One egg as a binding agent. Salt and pepper.

As I was making the burgers I found them entirely too wet (from the egg). I searched for cracker meal or bread crumbs to help. I knew I had some but I couldn’t find it. I looked everywhere I could think they might be. No luck. I did find some tortilla chips. Could tortilla chips work with my Italian flavors? Why not? I crushed them up and threw them in. This was the downfall of the burgers.

I toasted the buns, threw on some onions and mushrooms, a little mayo....

NOPE. This did not work! I knew it was bad when Sean took his first bite and said, "this is 'different'". This was possibly the second worst meal I have made this year, after the italian/thai fiasco a few months ago. But I don't discuss that.

My conclusion is that when it comes to any kind of burger, be it beef, bison or turkey, it is best to keep it simple. Add a good amount of salt and pepper and don't overcook. You will be much better off than adding everything you have laying around.

On a scale of Palin to Obama, I give these a Mccain. Which is somewhere in the middle but definitely towards the bottom.

Horrible Turkey Burgers
1.5 lb. organic ground turkey
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tbsp. roasted garlic
1/2 shallot finely minced
5 large white mushrooms chopped fine
1 large egg slightly beaten
1 handful crushed tortilla chips
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all in a bowl, make patties and cook till done. No need to bother trying to gussy them up- you can't hide the fact that these suck.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The First Step....

Step one is admitting you are a housewife....

It has been almost a year since I left New York to begin creating my nest in Pittsburgh. Though children are still a distant thought, the idea of owning a home and enjoying more space than our one-bedroom, mouse-infested apartment in Queens was tempting enough to inspire a move to Pittsburgh.

I had to quit my well paid and very enjoyable job upon leaving New York. I had to, but that's not how it happened. They offered to let me work from home. I thought this would only last a few months. But as I am narrowing in on one year I realize this position could be as permanent as when I reported to an office each day like the rest of you suckers.

Working from home is the best deal anyone could ask for, but it does get fairly dull staring at a computer all day. Your mind wanders, your urge to watch soap operas increases and your motivation to get out of your pajamas and take a shower fades.

From January to early spring a typical day in my life looked a bit like this:
* Wake up at 8:59, exactly one minute before I was to report "in" for work
* Pull my laptop onto the bed and pull the covers back over me
* Sleep for 30-45 minutes more
* Browse Perezhilton, WWTDD, check my e-mail, facebook, myspace, humane society website to see if they have any cute new dogs.
* Send IM to my boss to show him I am a committed employee 
* Get out of Bed
* Make coffee and eat some food, probably lunch as it should be around 1:00 by this point
* Take work calls, write work e-mails, send out bills  while watching Gilmore Girls repeats
* Fight off the temptation to drink whiskey
* Take a Power Nap
* Figure out what time my bosses will be leaving work and figure out what could possibly   happen between then and now and try to avoid that.
* Fight off temptation to smoke weed.
* Browse Perezhilton, WWTDD, check my e-mail, facebook, myspace and the humane society
* Brush my teeth
* Send IM to boss thus proving my commitment

Please notice that I have not listed 'shower'. This could go on for days at a time. I may even wear the same clothes all day then to bed and the next day. I would only change when I knew Sean would be coming home and would notice. I realized this was not me. I was fading into my furniture. I needed to get off my ass and start doing something during the day. The problem is I can't leave my house because I need to be available when needed for work. 

It started slowly. I increased the frequency of fancy homemade dinners. I painted a few rooms. I bought a set of vintage aprons. Then one day, I woke up and thought, What the hell, let's do this thing!

So I decided to become a serious housewife. Well, kind of. I decided to take on all parts of being a housewife I found enjoyable and ignore the parts I don't. So please, don't expect my house to be clean or my sheets to be ironed. That kind of thing doesn't happen here. Maybe that's something for the future, but for now I do what interests me, what is fun, and what entertains others.

This blog will be full of ideas for entertaining, recipe successes and failures, party ideas and random "housewifey" tips. There will also be restaurant reviews, cool things to do and ideas on wasting time. And I am getting paid for this! My job takes about 2 hours a day on average to complete so whatever else I find myself doing during that 9 hour day, you will find here. So while you're sitting in your office pretending to work; read up. Learn a few tips. Avoid a few pitfalls. Because no one knows when they might unexpectedly find themselves becoming a housewife.