Overdue recipe post

24 March 2007

So I hosted Shabbat dinner over a week ago, and promised to post recipes. Let’s see what I can remember…

Appetizers:
*Stuffed mushrooms. I looked at some recipes and ultimately came up with my own. (See below.)
*Hummus.
*Giardiniera (store-bought)

Main Course:
*Roasted tomato salad. (Notes: I skipped the first step of peeling the tomatoes; skipped the garnish; and used dried basil rather than fresh.)
*Mashed potatoes (instant, ’cause I’m wimpy like that).
*Green salad.
*Ribeye steak with the best marinade ever. (Notes: I used ordinary brown sugar, and simply broiled the steaks for about 5 minutes per side, since I don’t have a grill.)

Dessert:
*Chocolate amaretto cake, which started from a recipe I found online but was adapted somewhat. (See below.)

Oh, and on Thursday night, as part of my effort to use up some things before Pesach, I baked a loaf of “Spice Bread.” It started with this recipe, which I basically destroyed. My version is below.

Stuffed Mushrooms
3 pints white mushrooms (I would have preferred bigger mushrooms – mini-portabellas or something – but couldn’t find them)
1/2 c chicken or vegetable broth
1 shallot, minced
1 to 2 T. minced garlic
1 to 2 t. fat-free mayo
1 c. cooked and cooled long-grain rice (I used half of a Near East rice box)
dried basil
saffron (the original recipe called for tarragon, which I didn’t have, but I did have some leftover saffron)
2 t. olive oil
paprika

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Remove the stems from the mushrooms and chop the stems finely. In a nonstick frying pan over high heat, bring the broth to a boil. And the shallot, garlic, and mushroom stems. Cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine everything from the frying pan, rice, mayo, and saffron.
  4. Wipe out the frying pan with a paper towel. Add the olive oil and mushroom caps; saute 20-30 seconds. [Note: next time I’d skip this step entirely, and just spray the baking sheet with olive oil spray.]
  5. Arrange caps, open end up, on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Mound rice mixture into each cap. Bake until mushrooms are tender but still hold their shape, about 10 minutes.
  6. To serve, dust each cap lightly with paprika. (Or, forget this step until the mushrooms have been devoured, as I did.)

Serves 8.

Chocolate Amaretto Cake
1/2 c margerine
2 oz semi-sweet chocolate
2 eggs (or 1/2 c eggbeaters), well-beaten
3/4 c sugar
1/2 c flour
1/4 c amaretto liqueur

  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. Grease an 8×8 pan or a 9-inch round pan (or an 8×11 pan, like I did, and end up wiht cake that’s about 1 cm thick!).
  3. Melt margerine and chocolate in microwave for 45 seconds; stir until completely melted; set aside to cool.
  4. Stir eggs into cooled chocolate mixture. Add sugar and flour, mix well.
  5. Pour into prepared pan and bake 35 minutes. Cake will still be soft. Cool cake.
  6. Poke holes all over surface of cake with a fork; pour amaretto over top of cake. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Since my cake was so flat, I cut into individual servings, plated it, and served each with a scoop of pareve chocolate Rice Dream (non-dairy “ice cream”).

Bastardized Spice Bread
2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp Italian seasonings
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 c eggbeaters
1 c honey
1 c skim milk

Standard quick bread instructions:
Mix dry together in large bowl; mix wet together in small bowl; mix wet into dry. Stir until completely blended.

My batter was way too liquid-y, so I added another cup of flour. It was still pretty goopy, but I was afraid to add any more flour.

Put into non-stick or sprayed (small) loaf pan and bake at 375 F for 50 min…or until the middle bounces back when lightly pressed down.

Mine is good, but a bit runny (under-cooked?) in the middle.

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Achievements

24 March 2007

My job is stultifying. My brain has been atrophying since pretty much day one of this job, which was 31 October 2005. I more-or-less ran the same model every day for my first seven or eight months, then had an informal review with my boss where he explained that he thought I was underperforming because I was bored, and I allowed that yes, running the same model every day for seven or eight months was not what I considered interesting. He implied that he would try to get me more involved in more interesting things, which translated to…I spent the next eight or so months playing with the same four or five spreadsheets. Then I had my annual review, in which my boss expressed surprise that I was still not particularly motivated. We agreed that perhaps my skills (and interests) would be best-suited to a position elsewhere within the company. Slowly, slowly, though…wouldn’t want to rush these things, of course. I finally met with my boss’s boss and had a great discussion with him about my strengths, my interests, my work style, my goals, etc. My boss, in the meantime, had put me on a project that calls for interaction with a woman who does work I’m quite interested in, and the two of us were scheduled to attend a meeting in Texas with folks from various sister companies owned by our parent company, next Tuesday (fly out Monday, fly back Tuesday night).

My boss’s boss (B.) pulled me onto a project of his, for which I attended a meeting on Friday. He and another senior executive type decided the next step for this project was for them to go meet with someone in…Texas. I would have called in for that meeting, but when B. remembered that I would be in Texas anyway, he said, “If I can schedule this meeting for Wednesday morning, would you mind staying over an extra night in Texas so you can come to the meeting in person?” I thought about it for, oh, a nanosecond, and acquiesced. He had his admin assistant revise my flight and hotel arrangements. Things are finally looking up at work, and I am grateful.

And this trip to Texas is also a chance to meet the only person who reads this blog whom I have never met in person. Stacey, I’m looking forward to it.

Today my Young Adults group had a Shabbat lunch at shul. We invited everyone to join us at one of the minyans in the shul, which the Rabbi who’s involved with our group was leading. I found out that my ex was scheduled to read Torah (as was I), though he was not on the RSVP list for the lunch. I meant to e-mail him to ask him if he’d at long last return my college sweatshirt, but I didn’t get a chance.

Well. He did, in fact, show up at shul. I know that at least once or twice in the last few months, he’s been assigned to leyn (read Torah) and simply not shown up, so I was glad he didn’t flake this time. After services, he came up to me and said, “Hi. I haven’t seen you in a long time.” “Yes, that’s true.” He asked how I was, told me that work has been one crisis after another, and that in fact he was going to have to rush out to work as soon as we were finished talking. He said I looked good, and I thanked him. Before I could even ask him about getting my sweatshirt back, he said, “Y’know, I think I have your sweater in my car.” (I have noticed that every time we have discussed this, he calls it a sweater. I think he honestly doesn’t know the difference between a sweater and a sweatshirt. California boys…) He agreed to drop it off at the Security desk for me, so that I could pick it up after lunch. And then we said good-bye, and that was that.

He actually did follow through and drop off the sweatshirt. It was filthy, which was definitely not the case the last time I saw it. I did laundry today and it’s still dirty, so I will have to treat it with Spray & Wash and try again. But now, perhaps, that chapter is finally, fully, completely closed.


Just like starting over

19 March 2007

It’s spring, at least in sunny Southern California. This past weekend, walking to and from shul, was the first time this year that I was aware of the scent of flowers. It’s like a rebirth, I suppose. Fitting, in so many ways.

I’m proud of myself. I’ve taken some chances, and although things haven’t worked out the way I would have liked in every case, I have learned some important things about myself. And I have realized — and really started to internalize — that I do, in fact, deserve to be with someone who loves me and cherishes me as much as I love and cherish him. So that’s progress.

It’s been a crazy busy couple of weeks. Friday 9 March I left for DC to see a dear friend and attend the AIPAC Policy Conference, which was amazing. (I just ordered Michael Oren‘s new book, because he was such an incredible speaker.) Got back last Tuesday night, and spent the next couple of days cooking, baking, and cleaning. Friday night I had half a dozen people over for dinner (recipes to come in a later post) in honor of a friend from New York who stayed with me over Shabbat. She left Sunday morning. Then I pulled on a sparkly dress that I don’t know if I’ve worn more than once — for my sister’s wedding in 1996 — and went to a friend’s wedding. And there I met a guy who lives in Northern California who said before he left, “I’d love to ask you out, but you live here, and I live there.” I pointed out that “here” and “there” weren’t so far apart, and noted that he had, in fact, managed to come down to LA for the weekend. He was surprised to realize this, but I think I’ve convinced him that thanks to Southwest, it’s not so daunting a prospect. We’ll see.