The following recipe was handed down to me from my mother, who claimed it was a cake created by the Watergate Hotel. I hope it’s true. It would be nice to think that place is known for something other than a gigantic political scandal. (And incidentally, in the course of doing research for this post, I found out that you can still stay in the scandal room, and even have drinks with the original arresting officers, for the bargain price of $2500 a night. Imagine.)
Watergate cake is my favorite cake of all time. It’s fluffy and flavorful, and comes out a surprising light green. I recently made it for my husband’s birthday, so I thought I’d share the recipe with you. It’s super easy. It makes a double layer cake, and I like to use fluffy, white frosting on it, but that’s up to you. It’s actually such a flavorful cake that it doesn’t really need frosting.
1 package white cake mix
1 package pistachio instant pudding mix
¾ cup oil
½ cup of finely chopped nuts (optional)
1 cup club soda (NO SUBSTITUTE)
Mix everything together and pour evenly into two buttered cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Frost when cool if the spirit moves you.
Sometimes I’ll come across a recipe with ingredients that have absolutely no right to be mixed together. It’s hard to believe that anyone would combine these things, and that the result would come out even remotely edible. These recipes often intrigue me, because they sound so awful that if anyone has taken the time to embarrass themselves like this, there must be something to it. The following is one of those recipes.
I came across this dish while binge watching season one of Queer Eye. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. But it was pretty, and weird enough to be worth trying. And it turns out that I LOVE it. Trust me. Try it. You’ll be amazed, and your friends will be, too, because even though it takes very little effort, it looks and tastes like it comes from a Michelin star restaurant.
1 Pink Grapefruit
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 pinch kosher salt
Cut the avocado in half, then cut the halves into half inch slices. Cut both ends off the grapefruit, and then slice off the rest of the skin so the fruit is totally exposed. Peel the fruit sections from the surrounding skin. (The goal is to only have the pretty pink fruit parts). Hold back the two most mangled sections of the grapefruit for juice for the dressing. Arrange the fruit and avocado together in a bowl. (The color contrasts are beautiful!)
Squeeze the grapefruit juice from two leftover sections into a bowl. Add 1 tbsp Dijon mustard, and a pinch of kosher salt. Mix together. This mixture constitutes 1/3 of the dressing. Now add twice as much olive oil. Mix together, and drizzle over the salad.
I know. Weird. But trust me. Try it! And tell me what you think!
Yup, I still hate to cook, but it’s necessary for survival. One thing I do like to do, however, is go to farmers’ markets. I like to go with an open mind and be inspired by what’s available. I do believe in eating local, organic, and in season.
The other day we went to my favorite farmers’ market and we saw some of the most amazing chilies. That was all it took, really. I said, “Oooh, don’t we have some sausage in the fridge?”
So we bought a bunch of chilies of various colors, and one nice big onion, and away we went.
As per usual with my lazy recipes, you decide the amounts of each ingredient based on your taste. For this one we used Field Roast brand Apple and Sage Vegan Sausage, but you can use any type of sausage that you want. Hot or mild, vegan or non, according to your preference. After that it’s simple.
Slice the chilies and make sure the seeds are all removed. Slice the onions. Place these ingredients in an aluminum foil wrapper, along with the sausage and some butter. Season to taste.
Place them on the grill, and flip it every ten minutes or so. When it starts smelling good, check to see if the veggies are cooked to your liking. The sausage, if pre-cooked like ours was, just needs to get hot and mingle its flavor with the veggies.
Yes, I still hate to cook, as a general rule. It’s not one of my first choices for a pastime. But it’s necessary for survival. And I must admit that I’m finding it a lot more fun now that I have someone in my life to cook with. We’ve formed a sort of we’re-in-this-together mentality about food prep that turns it into less of a chore and more of an opportunity to spend time together.
One of the things we prepare on a regular basis is the most amazing salad. It has such a variety of flavors and textures that it’s always an eating adventure. And while I usually avoid preparing meals with more than five ingredients, once these salads become a habit, they can be thrown together rather quickly.
This salad is even more satisfying when the produce comes from your garden or from a local farmer’s market. Fresh. Delicious. Worth the effort.
As per usual with my recipes, the amount of each ingredient is entirely up to you.
Barb and Cris’ Super Salad
Greens (Anything but iceberg. Walk on the wild side!)
Heirloom Tomatoes (anything less, and you’re cheating yourself.)
Garlic Snapes (Much more subtle than garlic, but only available if you grow them yourself.)
Radishes (I skip those.)
Chunks of Cheese
Nutritional Yeast (Cris skips this.)
Dressing (I prefer Ranch, myself.)
Parmesan Cheese (because you can never have too much cheese.)
If you’re making this a major meal, you can add chicken, turkey, salmon, tuna, etc.
Add or delete ingredients according to your taste. Mix all together,and enjoy, preferably outside. Nature adds flavor!
Isn’t it strange to watch a movie that you absolutely adored at another time in your life, only to discover that now you find it creepy? Sadly, I’ve had that experience on more than one occasion. It makes me wonder who I used to be, and why I used to think the way I did.
For example, as a kid, I absolutely adored Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. But now there are a couple scenes that give me the willies. The first is Chu Chi Face, in which the Baroness Bomburst is clad in a bustier, and strikes sexy poses as she and the Baron pretend to be all lovey-dovey, when they actually despise each other. In fact, while she seems to be sexually wooing him, he’s attempting to kill her. Soft porn, anyone? The second is the Child Catcher number, in which he baits children with candy only to then abduct them.
And then, of course, there’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Three words: The Tunnel Scene. It’s a combination of a sick acid trip and a disturbing poem. It’s downright twisted. Willy Wonka was clearly a warped individual overall. I would not leave my child in a room alone with him. Factory inheritance be damned.
Later, when I was older and should have known better, I got taken in by the movie Grease. In which Sandy, a sweet, clean-cut girl, is groomed into thinking that the only way she can get her guy (who, incidentally, is a not-very-bright thug wannabe, as played by cult member John Travolta), is by transforming herself into a frizzy-haired, spandex-wearing, overly-made-up, cigarette-smoking, high-heeled temptress. “You’re the One that I Want.” Great message for the girls of the world. “Feel your way,” indeed.
I know that my earlier acceptance of certain scenes were a product of the times in which I was living, but jeez…
True confessions: I’m such a lazy cook that I don’t even have the patience to cook a hamburger properly. I usually break it up into smaller pieces and cook it that way, which makes it hard to put it on a bun. So somewhere along the line I decided to get “all fancy” and add other stuff.
So here’s my latest lazy recipe, which rarely takes more than 10 minutes. As per usual, quantities are entirely up to you.
Burger and Olive Oil
Any vegetables you happen to have, fresh, frozen, or canned.
If you’re really hungry, also add cheese or beans or eggs or rice or pasta.
Cook the burger in a little olive oil, medium heat. I add onion and garlic, too, but it’s not required. Season it however you like. Just make sure everything is fully cooked. Some people drain some of the grease at this point. I happen to be a greasy girl, so usually it stays. Then add… well… whatever floats your boat, and cook it however long you want.
Could there possibly be a recipe easier than this? I mean, seriously. I usually don’t even set off the smoke alarm with this one. (Usually.)
What I love most about this recipe is that it never comes out the same way twice, because I’m usually relying on whatever leftovers I happen to have in the fridge. (And as a single person, I tend to have a lot of leftovers.)
There are some ingredients that are required, of course, and as per usual with most of my lazy recipes, amounts are up to you:
Shredded Cheese (I like Monterrey Jack, but I’ve also used Cheddar or Mozzarella.)
Cream Cheese (Not required, but highly recommended. It makes it smoother.)
Seasonings such as Salt, Pepper, Garlic, Cilantro, or whatever else suits your fancy.
Cooked leftovers such as: Pork, Beef, Hamburger, Fish, Chicken, Scrambled Eggs, Rice, Sautéed Onions, or Black Beans.
Other odds and ends such as Spinach, Olives, or Tofu, I’ve even been known to add Nuts or Apple slices. Basically, if it sounds like it would be good, give it a try.
Then it’s just a matter of putting your tortilla in a lightly sprayed nonstick pan over medium heat, mixing all the other ingredients together, putting a reasonable amount on the tortilla, and covering it with another tortilla. Heat about 2 minutes on each side.
Done. Simple! You’ll be home and eating before the engine even cools down on your car.
If you feel like getting fancy, serve with guacamole, salsa, sour cream, salad, or soup on the side.
About once a year, something will come over me and I’ll buy a can of sardines and eat them in one sitting. I don’t particularly like sardines. I don’t dislike them, either. It’s just that they remind me of my grandmother.
When I was little, not yet of school age, my mother would drop me off at my grandmother’s house before she went to work. She was in her 70’s. I wonder how she coped with caring for a small child day after day.
I do remember walking to the grocery store with her. I also remember being bored silly much of the time. And I remember her feeding me sardines, good Danish grandmother that she was.
It’s funny how food can transport you to another time and place. This is not the only nostalgia food that I eat. I’ve written before about my sister’s apple pie. And my recipe box is overflowing with recipes that my mother used to make. Mangoes transport me back to Mexico, and stroop wafels send me back to Holland.
When I was sick, my mother would give me ginger ale and ritz crackers. In the winter, since I was allergic to hot chocolate, she’d heat me up some apple cider and drop in a cinnamon stick. I’m old enough to remember a time when people still ate local foods only in season, so when the occasional orange would cross my path in Connecticut, it was an event. And as I’ve written before, I have a particular fondness for ice cream trucks.
Food does not just sustain us. It comforts us. It helps us maintain traditions. It defines families. It allows you to time travel. I’m adding sardines to my grocery list even as I write this.
This is the second recipe in my series for those of us who are lazy chefs. Check out recipe 1 here.
I enjoy making bread salad in the summer. It’s filling, and yet somehow still feels light and fresh to me. And preparing it does not heat up your kitchen in any way.
You’ll notice that I don’t include any quantities. That’s because, like most salads, it’s “to taste”. Feel free to modify it, of course. If your experiment works out, share it with us in the comments section!
Mediterranean Bread Salad
Quality bakery bread (I use French or Italian, usually.)
Heirloom Tomatoes (If you’ve only eaten those bland red things they call tomatoes these days, and haven’t splurged on heirlooms, you haven’t lived.)
Break the bread into bite-sized chunks, crust and all. Cut up the tomatoes, and add all the other ingredients in a bowl, then toss with olive oil as your dressing. Simple!
Note: Bread salad does not do well as leftovers, as the bread will get soggy, so only make the amount you will eat in one sitting. I usually get double everything (or leave half of everything), for day two. Because it’s that good.