killing time between meals

where talking about what's for dinner while you're at lunch is totally acceptable


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Home, Home on the Cooking Range

In case you haven’t already heard, The Pioneer Woman has gotten her own show on Food Network. Yee-haw! I have been a big fan of Ree Drummond’s blog and cookbook for awhile. Apparently I’m not the only one—the woman has 13 million people following her blog. And if her on screen personality is anything like her writing style, the whole rest of the world is gonna fall right in love with her too.

If you don’t have this cookbook, check it out. I tend to use it more in the winter because Ree serves up some very hearty meals to her cowboys & cowgirls. So far my favorite recipe is the lasagna—it is always a huge hit and bound to be a future post.

Anyway, I’ll be tuning in August 27 at 10:30. Will you?

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“The Next Food Network Star” neither next nor star. Discuss.

I love food. I love TV. But the combo on “The Next Food Network Star” is testing me. I don’t really trust it. Most of these people just want to be famous rather than be known for great food. Maybe mixing food and TV always breeds suspicion. I mean, it’s not like you can smell or taste the dishes yourself. Plus, Guy Fieri is the only winner of this show who has gone on to bigger and better things. (And while the sunglasses on the back of his head, man jewelry, and odd facial hair annoy me, I do like Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.) But here I am, setting my DVR for Sunday nights.

via Food Network

Season 7 (yes, seven) gives us an erratic model (who I truly thought was deaf when I heard her “accent”), a Vin Diesel (or is it The Rock? I get them confused) look-alike with a sweet center, an insecure Asian woman who is clearly the dark horse (dramatic irony?), and a fratastic (yet classically trained) muscleman who yelled at me to “STAY AWESOME!” What does that have to do with cooking? Anyway, as it stands, I’m pulling for the food blogger, Justin. He seems the most normal and maybe even witty.

Thank goodness radio host guy got the boot. If not, I think I would’ve had to draw a line in the sand. I suppose I’ll keep watching. I mean, I need something to tide me over until the next season of Top Chef.


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Perfect, Simple Spring Salad

I rarely used to make salad at home because I couldn’t seem to eat all the lettuce before it went bad. Grrr. But this simple salad is perfect since one head of lettuce only makes two salads. Woo hoo! No more money down the drain. Plus, it’s delicious as is (especially on nights like tonight when I am watching The Biggest Loser during dinner), or it’s an uncomplicated canvas to add your own flavor touches.

Perfect, Simple Spring Salad
Makes 1 salad

1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ lemon, juiced
Salt & fresh ground black pepper
1 small shallot, minced
½ container cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered depending on size
½ head Butter lettuce (aka Boston Bibb lettuce), chopped, rinsed & dried

  • In the bottom of a bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, and salt & pepper.
  • Prep shallot and tomatoes, adding each to olive oil mixture as completed. (You could even let this sit for a few minutes if you need to do something else while the shallot and tomatoes break down. Plus, the juice from the tomatoes adds a ton of sweet, acidic liquid to your dressing.)
  • Add lettuce, toss to coat, and enjoy!

Next time, I think I will:

  • Change nothing. Duh. It’s called “Perfect” for a reason. But you might want to add green onion, grilled shrimp, avocado, cheese, or any other lovely ingredient that floats your salad boat.


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Hi-Yah! You’ve been Chopped!

Thirty minutes to prepare a delicious, visually stunning entree with random ingredients you’ve never even heard of, much less cooked? Definitely not something on my to-do list. But, I’m glad they do it on Chopped. The result is some intense food entertainment, not to mention a few culinary learning opportunities along the way.

Last night started the 5-week all-star tournament of Chopped. The battle began with four favorites from last season’s The Next Food Network Star. I don’t feel the need to recap what happened on the show, because if you’re reading this post you probably already watched it. (And if you didn’t, you can find a recap on host Ted Allen’s blog here.

So, the point here is to find out more about those mystery basket ingredients. Researching this post, I found that Food Network has provided a trusty food encyclopedia.

Last night’s entree round was a doozy! Partridge, karela, fregola—oh my! I’ve heard of a partridge (in a pear tree). Never eaten one, but it’s poultry, so probably not cooking rocket science.

Fregola I hadn’t heard of, and it isn’t even in their food encyclopedia! What?! Wikipedia tells me it’s a type of pasta, similar to Israeli couscous. I like both of those things, so OK.

But karela? (Do you think the ingredients will be more outrageous in general since this is the all-star edition? I think that would be fair.) Here’s the gnarly-looking thing:

Anyway, karela (also not in the dang FN encyclopedia, but surely you can use that link for something) is

a tropical and subtropical vine of the family Cucurbitaceae, widely grown in Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean for its edible fruit, which is among the most bitter of all fruits.

(Thanks again, Wikipedia.)

So, what did I learn? If I see karela on a menu, I’m gonna order something else.

The next chapter of Chopped All-Stars airs Sunday at 8:00 pm and will feature four familiar Food Network chefs—Anne Burrell, Claire Robinson, Robert Irvine, and Duff Goldman. I’m pulling for the Ace of Cakes guy.


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Party of Five

And then there were five.

Which, in my opinion, is actually kind of a lot to be going to the finale in the Bahamas. But nobody asked me.

At any rate, Top Chef is my favorite reality TV show about food. I love the challenges. I (usually) love getting to know the contestants. I love the judges.

As this season of Top Chef Masters winds down, I am rooting for Hootie-Hoo Carla. I don’t know if she’s technically the best chef, but I just adore her personality. As well as her huge hair, eyes, and expressions.

I mean, look at her. How can you not love Carla?

During last night’s elimination challenge where contestants created a personal meal based on their heritage, Carla’s cute husband showed up to support her. I just loved him, too. He was beaming with so much pride over Carla and her food. And then he told everyone how they met on Match.com. They are too cutie-cute.

This is the guy she is yelling, “Hootie?!” to in the aisles at Whole Foods. And he is responding with a delightful “Hoo!”

My Top Chef predictions: Two people will be eliminated next week. Those two people should be Tiffany (because she doesn’t seem as skilled as the other chefs) and Mike (primarily because he annoys me—hey, if I can’t taste your food myself, I’m gonna base a lot of this on your personality). That will leave Carla, Richard, and Antonia as the final three chefs to battle it out.