French Fridays with Dorie – Crab & Grapefruit Salad

Crab & Grapefruit salad….hmmmmmm… I’m still with you guys, I swear. These are just things I would not have thought to put together, that’s for sure. I LOVE crab. LOVE IT! But grapefruit, we’re kind of frenemies at best. I love citrus, so I should like it. I love the smell of it in lotions, soaps, etc. But when it comes to eating it? Not so much. In fact, before this I don’t think I’ve ever actually eaten straight-up grapefruit. Isn’t that weird? I am 27 years old and I’ve never cut up a grapefruit and eaten it. Growing up my family stuck to the kid-friendly fruits like apples, bananas, strawberries and grapes. We never really bought any other ones. So as an adult who feels the need to try things before dismissing them, I had a little trepidation about this one but I was willing.

Every time I watch Barefoot Contessa and she makes something with seafood I cringe because she literally walks down the street and runs into fresh crab or lobster or whatever the hell other magic she cooks up there in the Hamptons. Seriously, she leads a charmed life. I know she is a real person with real problems and all that biznazz but I don’t care. I’m with Liz Lemon on this – Ina Garten’s life is beautiful and idyllic and something to be envied. The end. Alas, I am not in her position in life, either monetarily or geographically so I bought a can of crab that was next to the tuna and sardines in the grocery store. It cost me $2.67. Oh yeah, I’m a baller!

I didn’t really take any making of photos since it didn’t really involve much besides chopping up some things and throwing them in a bowl. Not very compelling stuff. Also I was kind of in a whirlwind. I got home a little before six, did the dishes, threw together this Tuscan White Bean soup (yum!)

and I also decided to give Irish Soda Bread another go so I got that in the oven too. All before 7:00! Tootle toot! Dave was coming over so I would have someone to appreciate the salad with (Tristan was all “I don’t LIKE grapefruit”) and to watch the new Muppets movie with us so I felt some pressure to impress. I made half a batch of the bread and threw in some shredded Monterrey Jack cheese that had almost outstayed its welcome in the overstuffed cheese drawer. I liked this one much better than my ill-fated first attempt. Savory trumps sweet for me. That almost never happens!

But back to the salad – it was delightful! D-frickin-lightful! Even Tristan ate it and I don’t think he was pity-eating like he does sometimes when he doesn’t want to make me feel bad. I think draining the grapefruit for about an hour really helped tone down the tartness. Dorie said to do it for a few hours but I just didn’t have the time. I also omitted the cucumber because unless it’s in tzatziki, I’m not interested. That’s another thing I like the smell of but not the actual food. Weird. I didn’t put in the chili or the Tabasco either but I found a pretty perfect avocado at the grocery store so I used the Bon Idee and sprinkled that on the top before I did the mint. It was seriously yummy. I would totally make this again. I would even do the spicy stuff, I just knew that Tristan was already being a sport because of the grapefruit and I didn’t want to push it. Plus I used spicy Italian sausage in the soup so we were already getting heat from somewhere. I feel it’s necessary to state how much I LOVE the glasses I served this little salad in. Admittedly they weren’t the perfect receptacle because they’re so tall but I love using them in fits of fanciness. They were a wedding gift from my cousin and his wife Emily (let’s get serious, Emily bought these. Jens has probably never seen the inside of an Anthropologie store) and they are one of my favorite things.

Next week is asparagus with bacon bits and I’m also feeling a little “eh” about that one. I’m only just learning to like asparagus but the bacon bits part is making me lean in the yes direction. Let’s end on another picture of that beautiful, fresh little salad in my favorite glasses. It really was delicious!

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Hunger Games 2.0

I went to see Hunger Games again last night with my husband and a friend and guess what! I changed my mind! I liked it a lot more the second time. I think I was just too hyped up to see it this last weekend and was kind of expecting too much. Also, I know it sounds stupid, but we sat way too close to the screen the first time and it made a lot of the action scenes really hard to watch because of the film style. Last night we sat pretty far back and it was a much better way to see it. I want to take back what I said about Katniss being a cold fish in the movie. Jennifer Lawrence is just a really subtle actress and after I got over there not being that many scenes between her and Peeta and really paid attention to her performance, you can totally see the mixed feelings and play of emotions her character is going through. I think she was perfect for the part. I even like Peeta a little more this go around though I still think his head is kind of shaped like a Lego Man and having his hair slicked back does nothing for him. He needs those bangs people!.

Both Tristan and Dave had never read the books before and they asked me not to tell them anything about the story beforehand and they both really liked it. I was all pumped for them to ask me questions after the movie and really flex my Hunger Games knowledge muscle but they didn’t really have any. Apparently you can figure out what’s going on without reading the book. Who knew? I’m never in that position because I pretty much have ALWAYS read the book. That’s just how I roll. So I wanted to post this just in case other people felt like I did when they saw it the first time. We had some free movie passes to use up (thanks Mama!) so I didn’t feel too weird about seeing this one twice in the theater in the same week. If you felt kind of let-down the first time, maybe give it another try. If not in the theater, then when it comes out on DVD. If I can change my mind, so can you! ūüôā

 

Recipe Round-up & Hunger Games thoughts

Not the best pic, but this is a really yummy & easy dinner that I learned how to make from my mom’s friend Caroline. It’s called Creamy Basil Chicken and you should most definitely make it as soon as you can get some fresh basil from your garden. I actually picked some sage and used it in my dinner tonight. That’s crazy! CRAZY! It’s March 25th in Wisconsin and I picked an herb from my garden and cooked with it. Thanks global warming!

Ingredients for 4 Servings

2 TBSP butter
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
4 large boneless skinless  chicken breasts, tenderized
1/4 tsp each salt, pepper, Italian seasoning
1 cup cream  (I sometimes use more if it reduces too much)
2 large tomato, coarsely chopped or a pint of grape or cherry tomatoes halved
1 Р1 1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced  (optional)
1/4 cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped

shredded Parmesan cheese to your taste

Instructions

In a large non-stick skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat until sizzling.  Saute garlic and onion.   Reduce heat to medium.  Salt, pepper and Italian season the chicken breast.  Add the chicken to the skillet; cook 8 Р12 minutes or until the juices are clear.  Remove from skillet and set aside.  Add cream to skillet stirring frequently.  Stir in tomatoes, optional mushrooms and basil.  Return chicken to skillet and cook 4 -5 minutes or until heated through.  Garnish with additional basil leaves if desired and shredded Parmesan cheese.  Serve over rice, noodles or vegetables. But seriously, who would serve this over veggies when you can have pasta?

This is by far the best mac & cheese I’ve ever made and I’ve made a lot of them, trust me. I found it in a borrowed issue of Food & Wine magazine while laying on the beach at Devil’s Lake and it is actually the reason I started my subscription. It’s that good. Make it the next time you feel really indulgent and need some cheese!

Okay, last pasta I promise! This Creamy Garlic Pasta is so simple and really flavorful! It’s great on it’s own for picky eaters but I’ve added lots of things to it, like diced tomatoes or grilled chicken breasts. I also like to garnish most of my pasta with chopped fresh parsley or chopped scallions. Things usually need a little green pop of color in my opinion.

Lest you think I was going to get healthy or something, I’m going to round this out with with a cupcake!

So these were super easy! I made them for my sister and brother-in-law when we went over to meet their new baby. You can use any kind of cupcake & frosting you want, then just separate a bunch of Oreos saving the un-iced sides for use in something else (or just eating them, whatevs) put two Oreos on each cupcake, then stick a brown M & M on each Oreo and a yellow M & M in between for the beak. Voila! I know this idea has been everywhere but it is so easy and so cute I just couldn’t help but share.

Okay now I will venture into Hunger Games territory. I went to see it last night and frankly, my hopes were pretty high. My sister-in-law and my cousin both saw it and said very positive things, but I don’t know if I was just expecting too much or if the story was too fresh for me because I re-read the books this last week but it left me a bit flat. It just seemed like the emotional content was so low. I didn’t really feel anything for the characters like I did in the book. The film style was a lot of show and not a lot of tell and for me, that didn’t work. I know it would have been hokey to have a Katniss voice-over throughout the whole thing but I felt like we needed to know what was going on inside her a lot more. In the book there are so many meanings behind her actions and there are so many mixed emotions and it made for such a rich story. In the movie, she just felt like kind of a cold fish. And I don’t think that this was the actress’s fault at all. In fact, I really liked her in the part, I just needed something more. **SPOILER ALERT** The most pivotal scene between Peeta & Katniss in the book is when he basically saves her from starving to death and though they alluded to it a few times in the movie they never delved into why it was so important and how it gave Katniss the hope and the inspiration to live. If there had been a scene where she told someone about it and why it was important to her I think I might feel differently about the whole thing. Is that weird?

Another thing that really bothered me was how anesthetized the games themselves were. I mean I know they needed a PG-13 rating to get the majority of the market but it was just so clean compared to the book. That makes me sound as if I love guts and gore but it’s supposed to be barbaric and terrible and the fact that Katniss and Peeta survive is a miracle because they both sustained pretty major injuries in the book. In the movie the injuries are pretty tame and are really easily taken care of. I could nit-pick more but honestly I think I’m going to see it again to really finalize my opinion. There were things I did like – Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, Elizabeth Banks as Effie, the cool, modern look of the Cornucopia, etc. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it. Yet. Who knows, I’ve been known to change my mind.

What did everybody else think? Don’t be afraid to disagree with me, like I said, I want to love it!