Shaken not stirred...martini porkchops

If you hadn't noticed, a lot of the recipe I post have to do with what I have on hand.  With money tight, I try not to go out and have to buy extras.  I say this, but Piggy2 has the habit of stocking up, and I should say Squirrel instead of Piggy2.  So sometimes my recipes will be items, that not everyone will have on hand.  I'm assuming today's recipe is one such thing.  I'm making it, because I have a full bottle of vermouth lying around and am not big on martinis, so I found this recipe to use up the excess.

2 (1 to 1 1/2-inch thick) pork chops
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 red onion, minced
1/2 to 3/4 cup vermouth

Loosely wrap the pork chops in plastic wrap.
With a meat mallet, pound pork chops until they are a 1/4".
Remove plastic wrap and sprinkle the pork chops with coarse salt and some pepper.
On high heat, heat olive oil in a large skillet.  Sear pork chops until brown on both sides, about 3 minutes each.  Reduce heat and cook about 6 more minutes (depending on thickness of chop) until meal is cooked through.
Remove from pork chops from pan and drain off excess fat.
Return the pan to heat, adding the minced onions.  Cook until soft.
Next, add the vermouth, scraping up all the browny bits from the bottom of the pan.
Let simmer for 1 or 2 minutes, reducing slightly.
Serve the pork chops on a warm platter with the sauce drizzled over top.

Stay hungry my friend!

Christina's Salad

While on a camping outing one summer, my friend Christina kept talking about this salad that she made.  So, while I was trying to get more greens in my diet, I thought I would give it a try. 

Mixed baby greens lettuce
Diced Roma tomatoes
Crumbled blue cheese
Caramelized pecans (halved)

Melt butter in the pan first over medium heat.
Add nuts and stir around to give them a good coating of butter...stir constantly so they don't burn.
Drain off any excess butter
Sprinkle brown sugar over nuts and stir... add a little at a time continually stirring until nuts have a good coating of sugar.
Continue to cook and stir until brown sugar and butter melt together and form a somewhat thick coating over the nuts.  The tricky part is when to stop cooking. There unfortunately is a fine line between finished and burnt.  Stop if it starts to smell like it is burning (usually if you start to smell that, then it is already too late) but hopefully you can tell when they are done before that happens.  If they are undercooked then the sugar stays grainy.
Dressing is the key, but raspberry is the only one that brings this salad together.

Stay hungry my friend!

Whiskey Tri-Tip

Instead of just cooking up a plain tri-tip, I needed a new recipe.  Looking on my favorite site, the Food Network, I found just the thing.  Usually when I cook, I try not to have to leave the house, so this worked out almost perfect.  I only had to substitute one thing.

In case you need to know general recipe substitutes.


2 1/2 pounds tri-tip steak
2 tablespoons prime rib seasoning salt 
1 cup whiskey (I had some Jack Daniel's lying around)
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (substitute white vinegar 1:1)


Rinse steak and pat dry.
Cover and pat tri-tip with the seasoning salt .
Put in a large resealable container pour in whiskey and vinegar to coat meat.
Marinate in refrigerator for 1 to 3 hours (since this is the first time trying this recipe, I only marinated for 1 hour)

For the Oven:
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Remove steak from refrigerator, let come to room temperature.
Remove the meat from the marinade. Discard the marinade. Place the tri-tip, fat-side up, on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Roast for 30 minutes, then begin checking the internal temperature on an instant-read thermometer: for medium-rare, 135 to 140 degrees F and 140 to 145 degrees F for medium.
Let stand 5 to 10 minutes before slicing.

You can also cook this on the grill.  Remove the meat from the marinade. Discard the marinade. 
Heat the grill.  Place the steak on a hot oiled grill and cook 30 to 35 minutes per side for medium or until internal temperature reaches 145 to 150 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer.
Serve while still warm.

Stay hungry my friend!

Chilled Asparagus Soup

When I made this recipe for the first time, I was a bit reluctant.  Blending and pulverizing vegetables was never a big appeal to meal, I like my veggies whole, but this recipe made me change my mind. 

2 lbs fresh asparagus
4 tbs olive oil
1 1/2 cup sliced red onions
3 tbs all-purpose flour
6 1/4 cups of chicken stock or water
1 whole jar of Cacique Crema Mexicana
salt and pepper to taste

1. Cut the top 2 1/2 inches off the asparagus spears and blanch the tips in boiling water for 5 to 6 minutes until just tender. Drain thoroughly.  Cut each tip into 2 or 2 pieces, set aside.

2.  Time the ends of all the stalks, removing any brown or woody parts.  Chop the stalks into 1/2 inch pieces.

3.  Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepans (a this pan will burn onions, scallions or leeks).  Add the sliced leeks, scallions or onions and cook over low heat for 5 to 8 minutes until soft but not brown.  Stir in the chopped asparagus stalks, cover and cook for 6 to 8 minutes longer until the stalks are tender.

4.  Add the flour and stir well to blend.  Cook for 3 to 4 minutes uncovered, stirring occasionally.

5.  Add the stock or water.  Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.  Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

6.  Puree the soup in a food processor or food mill (I used a blender and it worked just fine, just be careful when mixing hot liquids, mix slowly).  If necessary, strain in the asparagus tips, most of the cream or  yogurt and the herbs.  Chill before serving.  Garnish each bowl with a a swirl of cream or yogurt.

Stay hungry my friend!

How to build a twitter audience

I love getting into discussions about Twitter.  It's usually with someone who is new to social media and they have no clue what they are doing on Twitter, but know they have to be there.  They tweet a few times, follow a ton of people then abandon the site when they haven't acheived global domination.  I am from the camp of following back when someone follows me. 

Here is my collection of "how to build a twitter audience" culled from a variety of sources and sites:
  1. Tweet stuff of value that’s worth sharing. 
  2. Start with people you know and know you already.   Make sure you put your @ wherever you engage. 
  3. Check in to companion sites like (free app) to see how your tweets are affecting the twitterverse.
  4. Find out who has retweeted you.  Think about it, these are people who find some value in your tweets, and also share it with their audiences. 
  5. Follow everyone who follows them. Ideally start with the people who retweet you the most, because their audiences will have heard about you the most. 
  6. Don't forget about Step 1. 
Other things to think of:
Show the twitterverse who you are. Be sure to upload a picture, a link and include a bio.
Don't talk about yourself.  That gets kinda boring after awhile.
Don't just converse.  I don't quite understand this one, but data shows users with lots of followers respond much less frequently. 
Identify yourself as an Autority.  Again data shows that accounts that use the word "guru" tend to have 100 more followers than the average Twitter account.
Don't be negative. This includes sadness, agression, negative emotions and feelings and morbid comments (though that might work if that's your brand)

A new beginning

“Blame nobody, expect nothing, do something.”

This is the signature that is included in each and everyone of my emails. In the beginning I took it to heart and it was a great thing to inspire me everytime I wrote an email. But now I've become jaded by it and I don't think I actually notice it anymore.
At the beginning of this new year, a new decade in this new millenium, I started out by doing what everyone does on January 1st, I started to contemplate my ritual of yearly resolutions.

Stove-top Pork Chops Florentine

I only used this recipe as a guideline as I was looking for a recipe for porkchops and I happen to have other similar stuff around that I had to use up (a can of crushed tomatoes and some fresh spinach).   So the recipe below is essentially mine, since I did nothing like the original.  

2 boneless pork chops, 3/4-inch thick
1 can of crushed tomatoes
1 cup of fresh spinach
1/2 cup of freshly grated pecorino
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon of no-salt herb mixture
1/4 teaspoon taragon
1 tablespoon of garlic

Place tomatoes into the skillet to warm, add herbs, garlic and spinach to boil.
Return the pork chops to the skillet and reduce the heat to low.  I kept adding water so the tomatoes wouldn't burn.
Cover and cook until the chops are cooked through, about 30 minutes.
Sprinkle with the cheese.

Stay hungry my friend!

Two-tie Sling

If you're on your way to a picnic and need a way to carry your bottle, try this quick tutorial:

Visit Betz White's site for the tutorial

Stay thirsty my friend!

Entertaining Appetizers

So many appetizers, so little time.  Today I'm offering a variety of apps, from a meat to nutella, which don't always mix, but I make what I like to eat.

Quick Liver Pate


1 pound braunschweiger* liver sausage
1/2 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

In a bowl, mix together the sausage, cream cheese.
Add garlic, chili powder and Worcestershire sauce until well blended.
Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until firm.

*Braunschweiger (BROWN-shwi-ger) Named for the German town of Braunschweig, this smoked liver sausage enriched with eggs and milk is the most famous of the liverwursts. It's soft enough to be spreadable and is usually served at room temperature.

Chocolate-Hazelnut Ravioli


16 wonton wrappers
1 egg, beaten to blend
1 cup of Nutella*
Vegetable oil, for frying
16 fresh mint leaves
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
Granulated sugar, for dredging

Lay wonton wrapper flat, brush edges of wrapper lightly with egg.
Spoon 1 tablespoon of Nutella into the center of the wrapper.
Fold the wrapper diagonally in half, pressing the edges of the wrapper to seal.
Place on a baking sheet covered in plastic wrap.
Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.
Add enough oil to a heavy large frying pan to reach a depth of 2 inches.

Carefully add ravioli to the hot oil and cook until they are golden brown. Work in small quantities.
Remove from oil and place on a paper towel lined surface to drain.
If serving same day, place in preheated oven to keep warm.

I made the day before. I only fried the raviolis, allowed them to cool, then covered and put them in the refrigerator overnight.
Before serving, place them on a baking sheet and rewarm in a preheated 375 degrees F oven just until they are heated through, about 7 minutes.

To garnish, spray one side of mint lightly with nonstick spray, then dredge in sugar, coat lightly and place on each ravioli.
*Nutella is a delicious chocolate-hazelnut spread

Crab Salad in Crisp Wonton Cups

For the Wonton Cups:
Cooking spray
18 wonton wrappers
2 teaspoons oil
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray mini-muffin tins with cooking spray.

Brush wonton wrappers with oil and gently press each wrapper into the muffin tin and arrange so it forms a cup shape. It's ok if the wrapper sticks outside of the cup.
Sprinkle with salt and bake for 8 to 10 minutes until brown and crisp.

For the dressing:
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons olive oil
Whisk together the zest, lime juice, salt, pepper, and pepper flakes.

Add the oil and whisk until well combined.

For the salad:
1/2 pound lump crabmeat, picked over
1 stalk celery, finely diced
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onions
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Place crabmeat, celery, onion and cilantro in a bowl and mix.
Add dressing and toss to combine. Fill each cup with the crab salad and serve.

Consumer Electronics Show 2011

To properly experience this photo, you need to pull out your red and blue 3D glasses that you've stashed away in the junk drawer. Or if you've gone to see a 3D movie lately like I did, you may have a pair of those sitting around as well!

This was taken at the annual Consumer Electronics Show at the Nvidia booth.  Everywhere you looked at the show, everyone had a 3D television.  Forget revelling at the thinness of the some of these models, this was overshadowed by the visual effects that could be created with 3D.   Prior to this, I was not a fan of this new technology.  This was evident when I made the mistake of going to see the waste of money pukefest that Jackass 3D was, were I felt the only good use of 3D was at the end with the confetti cannons.  But after taking the photo and looking at it on the huge monitor, I was sold.  I now want a to shoot in 3D.  My only problem is that I'd have to make my videos a little more dynamic, than me just sitting there telling you the word of the day.  That would be a sad waste of this brilliant technology.

Aside from televisions, there were 35 varieties of tablets, so I may just hold off getting that Apple iPad.  Especially if I can get a case like the Etch-a-sketch, or get to play video game "ol' school"-like by using your iPad as the game monitor!

I have been looking for a new camera since the holidays.  One particular one I was looking at is the Samsung Duel-View Cameras.  But that all changed when I got to the Samsung booth, I can't even tell you about all their wonderfulness.  What sold me on them, was the option to connect one of the model to you Samsung Galaxy and control your camera from there.  But then I thought, darnit, now I need a Galaxy too!

Sony Bloggie PM5K

While at CES, my goal was to find the next camera I would purchase,  and boy was there a lot of those.  I am a huge fan of the Bloggie PM5K because of the 270 degree movable lens.  I liked it because when you first start vlogging, you're usually having to film a few takes because you are either cutting off the top half of your head in the video frame, or all you can see is your mouth and neck.  
Bloggie Duo

There are three new Bloggie MP4 cameras that debut at CES 2011: the Bloggie, Bloggie Duo (see photo below, it's the pink one), and Bloggie 3D. All of which will be available, I was told, in April or May, are definitely a slick upgrade.

One change from my model to the new one, is that the memory is now internal, which kinda hampers how much and how long you can shoot for.

Another company that I really didn't pay attention to before was Casio.  But with it's release of the Tryx, I may have to reconsider. 
The concept behind the Casio Tryx is a compact camera that can be held and manipulated in different ways for different shooting situations and the frame itself can be a kind of tripod.

You'll have to stay tuned to see which model I'll end up, as I am always changing my mind.  One thing I do know, is my next camera will have HD.

To find more reviews of camcorders from CES 2011, visit Digital Camera Reviews .

Coolest cookbook

I'm always looking for interesting recipes to make, and I was drawn in to this one by the photo on the cover, Fiddle head salad.  It brought back memories of when I was little and would go into the bush and pick the curled up plant. 

Once home, my grandmother would perform her magic and these strange leafy greens.  I'm not sure how she made them, but they ended up pickled at the end of the day and I could  easily finish off a jar by myself.

This book is definately on my wish list now.  Check out the National Museum of the American Indian for more information.

The Mitsitam Cafe Cookbook
Recipes from the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI)
By Richard Hetzler

“Mitsitam” means “let’s eat” in the Piscataway and Delaware languages the restaurants.   The museum’s Mitsitam Native Foods CafĂ© enhances the museum experience by providing visitors the opportunity to enjoy the indigenous cuisines of the Americas and to explore the history of Native foods.  The Mitsitam Cafe is located at NMAI Washington.

Stuffed cupcakes

Feeling a tad bit adventurous, as well as wanting to make something more than just plain cupcakes, I found a recipe for "stuffed" cupcakes.  Don't make the mistake I did, by thinking this will be a mystery dollup of goodness in the center of your cupcake.  I followed the directions, but my filling ended up a bit watery and when I added it to my cupcake batter, it didn't ooze into the middle, but rather sat on top of the chocolate base.  So I grabbed a toothpick and swirled around the cream cheese to try and incorporate it in the cupcake itself.  Even though it wasn't the gooey goodness I was expecting, it did make a normally dry boxed mix creamier.

I needed to be quick, so I did not make the cupcakes from scratch, but used a box mix.  Here are the directions to make the filling.

4 ounces cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a bowl, mix room temperature cream the cream cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla and blend. Do not over mix, you'll know you have if you're filling is watery, something we DON'T want.

After you have your cupcake papers 2/3 filled, drop a heaping teaspoon of the filling into the center of each.

Bake cupcakes according to directions.
Cool and frost!

Stay hungry my friend!

How to revive champagne?

I don't think I've ever had to do, but if it's on YouTube, it must be true, right? Check out this Howto video to learn how to revive champagne.

Stay thirsty my friend!

Sopes. Yes, I know how to spell. Sopes=Masa Boats

Seeing these pre-made dough dishes, I thought for sure there would be recipes abound online.  But finding anything related to sopes took some time.  Once I did find the recipes, they gave me a new perspective on these intriguing Mexican ingredients.  I never thought of it, but they are just like tortillas, you can fill them with your ingredient of choice.  Sopes are a delicious and easy alternatives to your boring old tortilla.

1 lb of ground beef
1 can (15 oz) black beans
2 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes
2 tbsp of minced garlic
Shredded Mexican blend cheese
Tomatillo sauce
Olive oil

In a large pan, brown ground beef, season with salt and pepper.  Remove beef from pan and set aside.  In the same pan place garlic, black beans and diced tomatoes.   Cook for 5 minutes and add cooked ground beef, reduce heat to keep warm.  Heat 2 tbsp of oil and place sopes in pan.  Take a handful of shredded cheese and place on top of sopes.  Let cheese melt.  Top with tomatillo sauce and meat and bean mixture and eat!  Sopes are best eaten when they are just out of the pan with the masa still hot and crispy.

I used pre-made sopes, so I'll include some links on how to make them if you feel so inclined (I may do that next time).