Goodbye summer. You won’t be missed.

Want to know a secret? I really don’t like summer. Some might say I hate it. THERE. You got it out of me. The only part I like about it is the sun. But I hate the heat, the mosquitoes, and the fact that I have to make up excuses when people ask me to go swimming because I have a weird phobia of drowning. No, I’m not scared of water, I’m scared of drowning. I’ll be totally fine just hanging out in water but then BAM I start to worry if I’m going to hit my head and drown. It’s a totally irrational fear that doesn’t even quite make sense to me, so please don’t ask me to explain it. But since two days ago was the official start of autumn, I can rest easy :)

I’ve got to say, fall is definitely my favorite season. Ever. Not that there are many seasons to choose from… I love it because it just feels….weird, you know? *Just agree with me*. It’s the perfect time to watch scary movies. I mean, who gets creeped out in spring when there are cute little bunnies hopping around?! So I’m watching Ghost Adventures in full force right now. In case you cared, Ghost Adventures is the most amazingly stupid show ever. But I love it. It’s about three guys who go around to haunted places and try to talk to ghosts. Emphases on the guy part. Here’s a sample dialogue that could easily go along with every episode:

Bro, what is that?
Woah, I dunno man.
DDDUUUDDDEEE something just moved!
Dude, I’m gonna be totally dramatic about this random piece of wood that belonged to a person who might be a ghost now.
Man, I feel like really weird right now, ya know? Like cold and stuff and just like…dude.
Bro, listen to this sound I just recorded that may or may not be a ghost, but I’m going to say it is for the sake of the show so just play along, dude.

Yeah, that show is amazing. Definitely melts my brain cells, but it’s amazing.

I also love the food that goes along with fall.  When I say “autumn” what’s the first food that comes to mind? Pretzels? Because that’s what I think of. Not pumpkins, not squash, not the gross strawberry-flavored hard candies you get in your trick-or-treat bags that are probably from last Christmas. Pretzels. I’m not sure why, but it’s true. Have you noticed by now I’m a bit odd?

I was so tempted to not put up the pictures I took when I made pretzels the other day. But because I love you all so much, I’m going to show you them. Just a warning-just like you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can’t judge a blogger by her pictures of a food failure. These definitely aren’t my best pictures…at all.

Oh and what’s your favorite season? I feel like us sharing our favorite times of the year would be a great bonding moment., right?

Let me first start off by saying that homemade pretzels are so much more work than you ever imagined. They’re totally delicious, but I’m not exaggerating when I say they take hours. Before you start these, PLEASE make sure you have copious amounts of sanity and patience. I will not be held accountable for any mental breakdown you may suffer as a result of making them. That being said, who wants to make some pretzels?! :)

To get this show on the road, you’ll need to dissolve the yeast and sugar in warm water. I didn’t take a picture of this because, frankly, it looked like puke. But don’t let that discourage you! Things do get better. Slightly. Then they get worse again.

Then combine the flour and salt to the watery yeast/sugar mixture. Mix it until it looks as attractive as mine does.

Once it’s combined, put it on a flat surface (in my case, a gorgeous green thing I found in a cabinet) and knead. FOR 8 WHOLE MINUTES. I kind of glossed over that part when I first read through the recipe. One thing I learned while making this was that it takes exactly 8 minutes of kneading for your arms to start talking and beg you to stop. It was kind of creepy…

Stick the dough in a greased bowl, turn over and cover just to let it rise for 40 minutes. Yes, 40. Four-Dee.  At this time I suggest calling a friend, going for a run or curing cancer. Actually, you might be able to do all three of those in the time it takes for this to rise.

Luckily, the next step involves punching down the dough. Which is exactly what you will want to do. Remember, take your anger out on the inanimate object, not fellow humans. Cover the dough, and let it sit another 5 minutes.

Divide your dough into 12 parts. Roll each piece of dough out into a long thin rope. If you ever figure out how to form it into a normal pretzel shape, please let me know. Oh and please don’t look at my pretzel on the top left. We had some…creative differences. It wanted to look like the Green Lantern symbol but I said NO! You’re not allowed to go against the flow. Once they were all done cooking, I ate that one first.

Angrily stomp down the stairs to your basement and dig up your Dutch oven. Don’t get me wrong, I love my (it’s actually my mom’s, but I claim it as my own. Whacha) Dutch oven. But there’s no room to keep it in the kitchen so we keep it in the darkest most hard to reach place in the basement. Fun times. Pour your water and baking soda into the pot and wait for it to boil. More waiting. If you have already cured cancer, you can move on to helping to attain world peace or roaming the world in search for unicorns while you wait for the water to boil. No worries, you’ll have plenty of time.

Once the water is *finally* boiling, drop each pretzel into the scalding hot water and let them cook for 15 seconds on each side. This is the quickest part of the recipe and once you’re all done, you’ll wonder why you waited 5 hours for the water to boil for THAT. Grrr.

Once all the pretzels are out of the water, place them on a baking sheet coated with butter and cornmeal. Why? No clue. Then brush them with egg.

Cook at 425 for 12 minutes. Yes. Twelve. Stinkin’. Minutes. So much effort into something that not only will produce only 12 pretzels, but in the end only takes 12 minutes to cook. I’m really starting to hate the number 12…

See that white thing up there? Yeah, that’s egg. When brushing the pretzels with egg, make sure to spill lots of it everywhere. That way you’ll not only get pretzels, but you’ll have made scrambled eggs too! Oh happy day.

And there you have it folks. Deformed pretzels that took 2.8562 billion years to make! On the plus side, they are really good. But that’s about the only positive thing they’ve got going for them.

Thanks to the lady over at Gastronomyblog.com for letting me use her pretzel recipe. If you want the full recipe, click here. I’m too lazy to post it.

 

Thanks again to the lovely Tia over at Holding the Future Hostage for submitting a recipe to Stalker Sunday. She’s the best. Seriously.

Frosted Peanut Butter Bars


1/3 cup shortening
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup milk

Frosting:
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup shortening
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/3 to 1/2 cup milk
Topping:
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp. shortening

1. In a large bowl, cream the shortening, peanut butter, and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.  Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beating well after each addition.

2. Transfer to a greased 15-in x 10-in x 1-in. baking pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 16-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted rear the center comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.

3. For frosting, in a small bowl, cream the peanut butter, shortening, and confectioners’ sugar until light and fluffy.  Gradually beat in enough milk to achieve spreading consistency.  Frost bars.

4. In a microwave, melt chocolate chips and shortening; stir until smooth.  Drizzle over frosting.  Store in the refrigerator.

Join me in Stalker Sunday :)

How to participate? Glad you asked. Even though I mention how to in every other Stalker Sunday post. Short term memory loss, much?
1) Take a picture of food you made off of a blog/website.
2) Send it to me at thespoonatic(at)gmail(dot)com including the name of the concoction you made and the name of the place you got the recipe from.
3) Eat the food you make. Duh?

September 20, 2011. The day of many wondrous new albums.

Tomorrow is going to be a good day for me. I can feel it in me bones. Eh, not really. That was a total lie. But, even without using my psychic skeletal powers, I do know that Tuesday is going to be great. Why? Because three new albums from three of my favorite artist on the planet are coming out. That’s why. Who are these much loved singers? I’m glad you asked.

First off, probably my favorite singer/celebrity/person outside my family and other than Christian Bale ever. Demi Lovato. This is her 3rd album and if it’s anything like the other 2, it’s going to be fantastic. I feel sorry for this girl. She’s been through a lot this past year and she has a pretty crazy family…always a bad combo. She released one of the songs off this album a few weeks ago and it’s supermegaawesomefantasticlyepic. And yes, that is a word.

The second one is Time Travel by Christofer Drew’s group Never Shout Never. I was a huge Chris Drew fan back when he all of his songs were acoustic and he went by NeverShoutNever! I even painted the lyrics to one of his old songs on my wall. But then he decided to become a “rock band”, got a bunch of band members and changed his name to Chris Drew and the Shout. Kind of like Selena Gomez and the Scene, or Nick Jonas and the Administration. And equally as stupid. No offense. I’m just saying what I know you all are thinking. But I am still excited about this CD, since he went (sort of) back to his roots with the sound of his songs and the band name. If only he’d get rid of the other 3 dumb members of the group, he’d make me happy, whether he knew it or not…sorry. NSN reference. *ehem* Moving along…

And finally Storm, by Celtic Thunder. I’ve loved Celtic Thunder since they first started almost 5 years ago. This wonderful group has brought many friends into my life. Actually last July I was talking with a girl and things were getting awkward because we had nothing in common. Then I learned she liked Celtic Thunder. BAM. Instant friendship. But back to the album cover, I have no idea who picked out their outfits, and whoever it was needs to be kicked out of humanity. And also I’m not really sure what Storm is. I’m pretty sure that it’s kind of like a show and they’re all characters. *cough* STUPID *cough* But I’ve been waiting for this CD to come out since they first announced it a year ago. In that time, Celtic Thunder changed and my two favorite people left the group. Paul Byrom (2nd guy on the right) left to go do whatever it is Paul does, and Damian McGinty (first dude on the left) is now on the show Glee. And now they have 2 new guys. That I hate. So, I guess I have mixed feelings about this album…but I might buy it, since I have all six of their other CDs…

And that’s my excitement in a nutshell.

Oh and to get you guys participated in the little one-sided-conversation-with-myself-I-call-Spoonlighting, what’s your favorite album? Or singer? Or song? Leave your answer in the comment area, if you wish. Or just say your answer out loud to yourself, nod your head, and get on with your life.

Gyro of the day, saved my life, saved my life.


I finally made gyros. May I have a round of applause, please?

I’ve been trying to make these dumb things for months now. Actually the Greek Meatballs I made back in July were supposed to be gyros. And then the other day when I made the pita bread (which is finally gone now) I forgot to defrost meat, therefore no gyros. But I made them last night and now I can cross that off my bucket list. Not that it was ever on my bucket list. Actually, I don’t even have a bucket list. Well. This is awkward. Quick change of subject. Sooooo, did you see that sky today? Talk about dark and stormy.

First off, I must warn you that these are cheater gyros. I didn’t use lamb, or even use thinly sliced pieces of meat like you’re supposed to. I used ground beef. Bad Picco. So un-Greek, I know. But I’m Italian, so yeah. Because that argument is so valid.

See that motley crew pictured above? Those were the only things I put into the ground beef. How can so few ingredients make something taste so good? No clue. But all I know was after reading there was only oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper in it, I was like ba-da-ba-ba-ba I’m loving it.

After adding the spices to your ground beef, step back and admire the grossness.

Form the ground beef mixture into little pattie-type things. Cook until no loner pink in the center. Which, if you’re anything like me, never happens. I really hate cooking meat, in case you cared.

Yum.


While the meat is cooking, or after the meat is done, start on your tzatziki sauce. I have a bit of a liking for Greek yogurt these days. I always forget to get it, but it’s tasty. A little different, but it’s still pretty good.

Cut up about 1/4 of a seeded cucumber using your Wusthof knife. Oh you don’t have a Wusthof? No worries. I do. And I’d be honored to tell you just how amazing it is anytime. I’m actually going to start referring to dates as BW and AW- Before Wusthof and After Wusthof. As in “I was born in 16 BW.” I’m hilarious, I know.

Combine the Greek yogurt, cucumber and a little salt.

Slice the meatballs and serve on bread, along with the tzatziki sauce and some tomatoes and lettuce, if you want. Which you should want. Who doesn’t like tomatoes?! Lame people, that’s who. I love tomatoes and frown upon people who don’t have the creepy obsession with them like I do.

Thanks to Amy (again) over at Momadvice.com for letting me use one of her recipes.

Gyros

Tzatziki sauce

1 (8 ounce) container plain yogurt
1/3 cup chopped seeded cucumber
1/4 teaspoon salt

Filling

1 lb lean ground beef (or you can use ground turkey)
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper

4 pita breads
3 cups shredded lettuce
large tomato, chopped

Directions:

In a bowl, combine the ingredients for the tzatziki sauce. Cover and refrigerate. In separate bowl, combine ground beef and seasonings. Mix well. Shape into patties. Cook, covered, over medium to high heat for 10 to 12 minutes or until meat is no longer pink. Cut patties into thin slices. Stuff into pitas. Add lettuce, tomato, and onion. Serve with tzatziki sauce. Yum.

Muchas gracias (look at me, being bi-lingual) to Tia over at Holding The Future Hostage for submitting her Sopapilla recipe for Stalker Sunday. This girl is hilarious, so go look at her blog :) See? I told you guys it was free advertising.
Sopapillas

1 cup warm water
3 tsp. yeast
4 T. sugar
1 cup milk
2 tsp. salt
4 tsp. baking powder
4 cups flour
Dissolve first 3 ingredients together, add milk, salt, baking powder and flour; mix and knead.  Let stand about 30 minutes.  Roll out, cut, and fry in hot oil.

Join me in Stalker Sunday :)

How to participate? Glad you asked. Even though I mention how to in every other Stalker Sunday post. Short term memory loss, much?
1) Take a picture of food you made off of a blog/website.
2) Send it to me at thespoonatic(at)gmail(dot)com including the name of the concoction you made and the name of the place you got the recipe from.
3) Eat the food you make. Duh?

Wake me up when September ends

It’s a Friday night and I’m sitting by myself. Doing nothing interesting at all. Actually, I’m babysitting while my parents are out at dinner, having 10 times the social life I could ever wish to have. To make things even better, it’s been overcast and cold the past few days. And do you know when you have to deal with someone, and afterwards you want to go douse a hornet nest in gasoline and set it on fire? Yeah, I’ve put up with a few of those people lately. So what do I do when there’s a general theme of blah surrounding everything? Make food. Problem solved. Instant happiness.

I still haven’t gotten to use up the pita bread I made a few days ago. I was going to make gyros today, but that plan obviously fell through. But seriously, what are you supposed to do with 9 pieces of pita bread?! No chickpeas, so hummus was out of the question. What to do, what to do? So after a bit of googling I stumbled upon a grilled apple and brie sandwich. Delicious? Disgusting? Filled with magical dwarfs?! I’ll give you a hint: there were no dwarfs. Sad, I know.

This sandwich could really go either way. If you like brie, then you could hypothetically like this. But if you don’t like brie, don’t even bother, you uncultured person. Only joking. I refuse to eat mushrooms. We all have our weird food phobias.

Three basic ingredients. Bread, apple and brie. That would be a cool band name…bread apple and brie. BAB. Once I learn how to play guitar, I’m forming a band. Coming to a city near you.

But anyway, to make this I cut up about a quarter of an apple and took off the skin, so I wouldn’t choke and die on my sandwich. How pathetic is that? I can see it now on my gravestone. Piccola Italiana. Age 16. Died choking on an apple. Epic life fail.

Cut up some brie. Om nom nom. I have a bit of a weakness for brie, which is funny because I really hate cheese. True story. Brie, goat cheese and mozzarella are about the only cheeses I can tolerate. Moral of the story? For Christmas, please don’t get me any cheese. I prefer Converse.

Stick the bread in a buttered skillet and add the cheese and apples. The whole kitchen/place of food preparation will stink like brie and bread. No worries. It’ll taste wayyyy better than it smells.

Then place on a plate and eat.

I was taking a risk with this. Mainly because I was supposed to be doing school when I was making this, thus treading on thin ice with my mother…*ehem*…BUT also because brie and apples on a sandwich? Ohhh, how daring am I? But it turned out well. Not something I’d eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and midnight snack but I’d definitely eat it again.

But my question to you lovelys, what’s the weirdest food you’ve eaten? This definitely isn’t the weirdest food I’ve ever eaten. The weirdest thing I’ve ever eaten was probably escargot. In case you cared.

Gahhh, I’ve just spent almost an hour on this dumb post. Best. Friday night. Ever. I hope you’ve all had a more exciting Friday than me. Although it’s not hard to top…

It’s all Greek to me

Welcome to Stalker Sunday. I know, you’re thinking “Stalker Sunday? On a Tuesday?! What’s weirder than that?!” Gerard Butler doing a scary good job at singing in Phantom of the Opera. That’s way weirder, believe me.

My grandma sent a picture of her peach flan for my Stalker Sunday…thing… so ta-da:

Looked pretty fantastic to me. Thanks Mimi :)

I spent a majority of my day sitting in a chair at the orthodontist’s. And by majority I mean only an hour. But that’s still about 60 minutes longer than I wanted to be there. In that lovely hour of fun not only did I get fitted for an extremely attractive mouth guard, but I got some weird spring coils put around my braces. So now it looks like I have a robot in my mouth. Fun stuff, huh?

Needless to say I wasn’t really in the mood to chew. So after much surfing of food blogs, Greek Lemon Chicken Soup appeared. I don’t even remember how I found it. I think it found me. We were meant to be together, obviously. I’m going to hire Taylor Swift to write some cheesy song about us. Get excited.

This soup was wonderful. It was light and…tangy? I’m sorry. My vocabulary is pretty limited. Unless you want me to start using PSAT vocab words. But I’m not sure grandiloquent or vacuous would be a good adjective to use here…hmmm…?

But wait, there’s more. Not only did I make soup I made pita bread too! Who’s impressed? You are? Lovely. Bonus cool points for you.

Let’s start off with the soup, shall we???

Cut up carrots. Blah blah blah. Let’s forget about the carrots for a second. See that knife in the background? That, my friends, might be the most wonderful inanimate object to come into my life. It’s a 6″ Wusthof knife that I got from Grandma Peach Flan for my birthday. Nope, I didn’t get a car. Or a phone (I’m still working on that one…). Or social skills. For my 16th birthday I got a knife. And I was thrilled. Weird? Yes. But that knife slices food like nobody’s business. Or bizness, if you’re feeling ghetto.

Next, put some olive oil in a pot and add the carrots. This picture looks much like the one above it, but minus the knife :( I miss it already.

Yay! There’s the knife! Cut up a lemon and juice it. Please take the time to make sure you have a paper cut on your hand. I know I did.

Oh, and now would also be a good time to remember you don’t own a juicer to juice the lemons in. While grumbling, take a strainer and place it over a cup and juice the stupid lemons. Although, after a long day at the orthodontist, the monster cup displayed my emotions to a T. And yes, there’s the knife again. I feel like this is turning into a game of Where’s Waldo? It’s official. The knife shall now be dubbed Waldo. Waldo the Wusthof. Classic.

Pour the lemon juice along with some chicken stock into the pot. I didn’t get a picture of this step because, frankly, it looked like a big pot of gross.

See what I mean? The lighting was also getting on my nerves, so I’ll let the lights take the blame for me. Stick a store-bought (thank you, Schnucks…) rotisserie chicken into the pot of chicken stock/lemon juice/carrot stuff.

In a separate pot, boil water and cook orzo pasta. Or, to make it gluten free like I did, use small gluten free pasta. I used shells but the sky’s the limit. Ok not literally. There really aren’t many gluten free pastas out there…

After letting the chicken simmer in the pot for a bit, take it out, dice it, and set it aside.

To thicken up the soup, you’re going to have to use the secret ingredient: kryptonite. Good luck finding it. Kidding. The secret ingredient is egg yolks. Take out a little broth and stick it in a bowl. Slowly add 3 egg yolks to the mixture and whisk your heart out. This is so your soup doesn’t turn into Greek Lemon Scrambled Egg Soup. That could be *possibly* tasty, but not what we’re going for here. Once whisked, add the yolk mixture and chicken back into the pot.

Heat through and serve. And then devour.

And now a word from our sponsor-Pita Bread.

I was amazed at how easy pita bread is to make. It’s basically put the ingredients in a bread machine, let the machine kneed it, roll it out, bake it, the end.

But to go into a little more detail, combine all the ingredients in the bread machine and set the machine on the dough setting.

Divide the dough up into 10 parts.

Roll each ball of dough into a 6″ circle. Kind of like my 6″ knife, but…not.

Bake at 500 degrees for 3 minutes, flip and cook for another 3-4 minutes. And voilà.

Two Greek foods today. Bam. I felt so cultured.

Many thanks to Amy over at momadvice.com for letting me steal borrow her recipe.

Join me in Stalker Sunday :)

How to participate? Glad you asked. Even though I mention how to in every other Stalker Sunday post. Short term memory loss, much?
1) Take a picture of food you made off of a blog/website.
2) Send it to me at thespoonatic(at)gmail(dot)com including the name of the concoction you made and the name of the place you got the recipe from.
3) Eat the food you make. Duh?


Greek Lemon Chicken Soup

8 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

4 carrots, chopped

Salt & Pepper

1 cup cooked orzo pasta (or gluten free pasta)

Diced, cooked chicken meat (from a rotisserie chicken)

Lemon slices for garnish

3 egg yolks

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add noodles and cook until tender. Drain, and rinse under cool running water. Meanwhile, in  a large saucepan or Dutch oven, saute the carrots in two tablespoons of olive oil for 5 minutes.  Heat up broth and fresh lemon juice and bring it to a simmer. Gently add your rotisserie chicken and put a lid on your pot.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 15 minutes.  Pull out your chicken and set aside to dice.  Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks until light in color. Gradually add some of the hot soup to the egg yolks, stirring constantly. Return the egg mixture to the soup pot and heat through. Add the pasta and chicken. Ladle hot soup into bowls and garnish with lemon slices.

Pita Bread (for the Bread Machine)

1 1/3 cup water
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups bread flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons yeast

Put ingredients into the bread machine in order listed. Run the dough cycle on your machine. When the bread machine beeps, pull the dough out of the bread machine and divide the dough into ten pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece into a six inch circle. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 500 degrees for three minutes. Using a spatula, flip the pitas and cook for another three to four minutes on the flip side. As in “see you on the flip side”. Get it? Yeah, never mind…