Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I Guess It's A Noodles Kind of Week

Have you ever gotten that email with a giant pdf attachment chock full of a dillion "secret" chain restaurant recipes? Completely bored at work one day once my replacement was off to the races, I printed out a bunch of them including California Pizza Kitchen's Chicken Tequila Fettuccine.

And I'm glad I did. Maybe now I'll go back and try to make Hooter's Chicken Wings and Planet Hollywood's Thai Somethingorother one day.


1 lb dry (or 2 lbs fresh) spinach fettuccine
1 1/4 pound chicken breast, diced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro reserved for garnish
2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
2 tablespoons minced jalapeno pepper (seeds and veins removed)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter (reserve tablespoon for saute )
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons gold tequila
2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lime juice
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 medium yellow bell pepper thinly sliced
1/2 medium green bell pepper, thinly sliced


1. Cook pasta.

2. Cook 1/3 cup cilantro, garlic and jalapeno in 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes.

3. Add stock, tequila and lime juice. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook until reduced to a paste like consistency; set aside.

4. Pour soy sauce over diced chicken; set aside for 5 minutes.

5. Meanwhile cook onion and peppers, stirring occasionally, with remaining butter over medium heat. When the vegetables have become limp, add chicken and soy sauce; toss and add reserved tequila/lime paste and cream.

6. Bring the sauce to a boil; boil until chicken is cooked through and sauce is thick (about 3 minutes).

7. Toss with drained spinach fettuccine and reserved cilantro.

Our chicken didn't cook through in 3 minutes. And what sauce thickens in three minutes!? Maybe over crazy professional kitchen equipment. Not mine. We probably cooked it closer to 20 minutes.

And I don't think my heavy cream was actually heavy cream. I really need to get in the habit of looking up the German for my cooking ingredients before I go to the store.

tequila chicken fettuccine

Whatever, it was delicious. So good, I forgot to take a picture of the plate with bread until I was like halfway done.

tequila chicken fettuccine

Monday, June 28, 2010

What's For Dinner June 28, 2010

I was flipping through one of Nigella Lawson's cookbooks the other day and stopped short at her recipe for linguini with garlic oil and pancetta. It's not often that a recipe with a whopping four ingredients grabs me, but this one sounded like a knockout.

So, I hopped the train to the markthalle in Stuttgart again to pick up pancetta. (Just have to add that I can't think or say markthalle without an immediate mental HOLLA!. Because I'm pretty hood like that.) While there, I spotted beautiful salad greens strewn with flowers and just had to pick some up, too.



This recipe is SO easy. Click through for the entirety, but it can be summed up in about two sentences. Dice the pancetta and throw it and the rinds into an oven dish with a few tablespoons of garlic infused olive oil. Let those crisp up at 500° F (260° C) while the linguini cooks. Throw it all together and cut some parsley over the noodles. Finito. Ok, that was three sentences. Easy, no?

nigella's linguini with garlic oil and pancetta

We whisked together some basil infused olive oil with balsamic vinegar and DONE.


Ahhh it was so good.

I also spotted some fresh, handmade Turkish Delight (lokum, here) and had to have that. Everybody else did too. Before dinner. Before I even took my picture. It was so soft and fresh and really I can't blame them.

lokum (turkish delight)

My Just Rewards

After our month of accommodation in the hotel upon arriving in Germany, we find ourselves flush with reward points. I was shopping the reward web site and found a number of gift cards I might indulge in.

First up, Crate and Barrel. I'm still trying to figure out if they ship to APO addresses and if C&B cards can also be used at CB2. But, in the meantime, I've visions of lovely decorative wares dancing in my head.

I don't think I have that many reward points.  But, a girl can dream...

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Weekly Links - June 26, 2010

Some things I liked out there on the Internet this week. There would be more but the weather has been lovely and I've barely found myself in front of the computer.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Deutschland wins!

We still haven't hooked up any tv, but we always know when Germany is playing, when Germany scores and most clearly when Germany wins. I captured about 45 seconds of a celebration that lasted that many minutes.

Last time Germany won, I assumed these people were all on their ways home from watching the game at biergartens or with friends. Last night, I watched my neighbor run outside, get in his car, honk his way out the driveway and down the street then return to his garage and go back into his house about five minutes later. Now I wonder how many of the people in these cars are driving just to celebrate!

You can't really see the guys standing down the street waving their flags or hear them honking their vuvuzelas or singing the Deutschland song. But they're there. And I didn't capture any of the people sitting on their car windows, Dukes of Hazzard style, waving their full size Deutschland flags as they go down the road. But they're out there as well.

It's a really good time when Deutschland wins.

Schloss Ludwigsburg

Just a few pictures I snapped when we visited Schloss Ludwigsburg. I took a bunch inside as well. Going back through them, I really only find myself drawn to the outside shots that also catch the old car show on display that day.

Schloss Ludwigsburg and old campers

Schloss Ludwigsburg and old buses

Schloss Ludwigsburg garten

Saturday, June 19, 2010

What's For Dinner June 19, 2010

We've been getting a-MAZ-ing canteloupes from the fruit and veggie man lately, which - according to the Internets - seem to be either charentais variety canteloupes or European canteloupes. Nobody seems to be able to agree which of the two come with the distinctive green ribbing and the spidery canteloupe skin we're used to in America. Whichever of the two these melons are, they are delicious. And pretty.

Nathans Badass European Trip 505Source: flickr

But, we've had a heck of a time tracking down decent prosciutto! Trying to figure out what it's called here is hard enough. And, everything we've guessed on and thought might be prosciutto either wasn't or was just not good prosciutto.

So, we decided to hop the train toward Stuttgart and hit the Markthalle. I would say the kids love riding the train as much as I do, but they spend more time with their noses glued to the windows, so maybe they win.

view from the s-bahn

I'd heard the Markthalle has some Italian vendors with great meats and cheeses, and it seemed like a good place to hunt down actual prosciutto. I was once again too intimidated to get pictures (I need to get over that!), but someone else is braver than I.

Stuttgart, Germany Markthalle

Stuttgart, Germany Markthalle
Source: flickr

Isn't that huge!? On a Saturday, it was also very crowded and the kids were a little edgy in there. I think I'll have to go back on a weekday while they're in school/summer camp and really examine the offerings. For today, we picked up some wonderful prosciutto, peppered salami and parmigiano-reggiano. We drizzled some balsamic vinegar over the parmigiano-reggiano; paired the prosciutto with the indeterminately named melons; mixed up our favorite salad of olive tomatos, cucumbers, feta cheese, olive oil and vinegar and slathered some creamy garlic butter on fresh baked (German style) baguettes. YUM!


Friday, June 18, 2010

France, Part Fini

I'm dragging out the last of the pictures from our little trip to France. Going back through it all is making me yearn for more travel in the near future!

A former hotel neighbor told me about Germanwings airline recently and their insanely cool Blind Booking feature. You choose from categories like "Culture" or "Nature and Hiking", enter your dates, pay €19.99 and SURPRISE! you're off to some place of their choosing... The Man asked €19.99!? Do they crash a lot!?. I haven't heard of a ton of commuter flight crashes in Europe, so I figure we're good and I can't wait to check it out! Yay for summer and school being out!

For now, back to France...

The family we stayed with took us walking around the neighboring town of Pau.

An even more amazing view of the Pyrenees, beautiful architecture, a Sephora and a castle with ties to Napoleon, Marie Antoinette and Henry IV kept my head spinning for most of the morning.

Pau, France

Pau, France

Chateau de Pau

Chateau de Pau

Pau, France
Doesn't this look like it launched straight out of Mary Poppins!?

Forget the legs, real bloggers cook up the whole frog.

And whole bears and whole snails.

french toast

french toast
Slightly less recognizable once cooked. Still fun.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

France, Part Trois (Also, my first medieval village and cathedral)

After spending the night in a small motel (that we made our reservation and checked in to via a slightly more complicated sibling of the good old ATM), we were back on the road for another 5 hours of driving. Of course, it took us 8 hours, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Utterly tired of the car and of speeding past beautiful countryside and dillions of illustrated signs touting all the incredible landmarks we were missing, we decided to take a break and stop at the next cool thing we spotted. That happened to be an amazing little walled off village replete with ancient cathedral named Saint Bertrand de Comminges.

Now, this is the kind of thing that sucks and rocks about no longer having my iPhone operational. With it, I would have been buried in Wikipedia entries and web sites learning all kinds of things about what we were looking at. Without it, I just sightsaw and took pictures and found myself very in the moment.

And what a moment! With an amazing view of the Pyrenees, and older than old all around us, it was a beautiful experience.

I was really looking forward to viewing history, and well...really old stuff in Europe. But, I'm still blown away by just how old this stuff is! This little village was originally founded in 72 BC. I mean WHAT!? After several hundred years of doing whatever people did in 72 BC and thereafter, the area was razed and lay deserted for about 500 years. Then, in 1083, the cathedral and most of the walled in village was built and has just stood around chilling ever since. That's more than a thousand years! It boggles the mind. And now here we are cruising around, buying soap and wooden swords and just generally being boggled.

On the way out, we passed through a small tunnel of sorts that The Man was veeery nervous about pulling The Rabbit through. But, we fit! He said get out and take a picture of this! And I said I can't open my door!. Ha ha ha, thank goodness we had a tiny little car before we moved here.

St. Bertrand de Commingues, Midi-Pyrenees, France
Spain! On the other side of those mountains! El NiƱo was stoked!

St. Bertrand de Commingues, Midi-Pyrenees, France
The view on the approach.

St. Bertrand de Commingues, Midi-Pyrenees, France

St Bertrand de Commingues, Midi-Pyrenees, France

St Bertrand de Commingues, Midi-Pyrenees, France

St Bertrand de Commingues, Midi-Pyrenees, France

Reviewing Julie and Julia

I'm reading Julie & Juliaright now and everybody loves it. The front cover informs me that the Philadelphia Inquirer, Entertainment Weekly and USA Today proclaim it "irresistible", "hilarious" and "delightful". Meryl Streep and Amy Adams made a major motion picture out of it. Everybody also loves this. And them.

But. I can't stand it. Julie is beyond self-deprecating to the point of self-loathing. She's bitter. She's always in a foul mood. She hates everything and everybody including the people she ostensibly doesn't hate. Reading the book puts me in a sour mood. Every time I pick it up. Yet, I keep reading solely because I'm interested in her perspective on blogging. But, bleh. I just finished a chapter and now I want to throw myself at the nearest unsuspecting bystander and eviscerate them with a cynical and caustic tongue.

I've been reading a lot lately and I thought it would be fun to review some of the books I've really enjoyed.  Yet this foul mood of a book has plunged me into a foul review of a foul blog post and totally fouled up my book review idea. EeaaaYYYHHHH FOUL!

So, uh, I say don't bother. But, what do I know? Everybody else loves it. Have any of you read it?

UPDATED: Eh, maybe it's not that bad. It's been a little while since I picked it up and everything seems a little rosier and I guess it can't be that bad!!?! Can it...?

Monday, June 14, 2010

France, Part Deux (with potty humor)

After a whole day of driving, we stopped for dinner. Somehow, we ended up at an American 50's style diner (!!?!?) but, I guess that's what happens when you don't plan your route out and rely on your GPS to find the closest restaurant when it's 8:00 at night and the kids are starving and it's called something promisingly Frenchy sounding and you just hope for the best. It was delicious, though. And, as much as they were trying, the food really wasn't American. At all. So, it all worked out.

Digion France
And this greeted us right across the street.

Digion, France
And the kids frolicked on their first French playground. Not nearly as hazardous as its German counterparts, but still fun.

While this isn't exactly dinner conversation, I just have to go there. You've heard of the holes in the ground found liberally sprinkled about Europe, masquerading as bathrooms? Well, welcome to France. There, a not insignificant portion of rest areas don't even have holes in the ground. Discovering peeing people dotting the perimeter of this particular rest stop (our first, sans toilette), we were reasonably sure that this was the thing to do. So, the boys peed on French bushes. Cheeseball peed on French grass and also on her pants leg. Camping is an acquired skill. I held out for a hole in the ground.

Rest Stop, Somewhere in France

Rest Stop, Somewhere in France
Even the bathrooms are beautiful in France.

France, Part Un

We're back from France! Ok, we've been back for a wee while now. With The Man on leave, old friends arriving and one last haul from Ikea coming in, life has gotten in the way of blogging life. How inconvenient.

We had a very lovely time in France. We stayed with family friends in the south of France (The South of France...?) and mostly just ate, drank and relaxed. Good times wherever you are, but somehow even more awesome given the location.

It's funny because I don't really think of myself as speaking French. Yet, the moment we crossed the border into France, both The Man and I felt an immediate, subtle (and unexpected) relief as we moved in to Less Foreign Territory. We can understand the words on the signs! I can read and comprehend the directions on my parking ticket! Conversations involve more words than pantomimes! Even when I don't know the meaning of the word, I know how it sounds out loud! I didn't even realize how foreign Germany still felt to me, until I was in another foreign country. Which is very funny to me.

Anyhow, France. The family that we stayed with had the most lovely house, in which pool the kiddos spent most of the holiday splashing water out of. The family members spoke varying degrees of English and Spanish along with, of course, the French. Mom spoke no English and was the epitome of Hostess with The Mostess. Think impeccable food, multiple courses and every whim or need anticipated and met. I was surprised at my ability to converse in French, SO many (NOT THAT MANY!) years after college studies. Mostly, I can speak like a fairly decent three year old. So long as everyone talks to me like I'm three, I'm right in there. It's such a beautiful language and I miss it - it makes me want to pick back up with the studies, after I learn the German of course.

But, enough with the words. I'm going to break the trip into a few posts, so it isn't too terribly long and overwrought with pictures and also because I'm lazy.

We aimed the GPS for Strasbourg, France, which is right over the border. Funny enough, my Dad was watching a tennis tournament there a few weeks ago and told me hey, you could just pop right over there!. To which I said, what!? France is far away!. Turns out it's an hour away. I'm an hour away from France. OMG how does life get better than this!?

Anyhow, Strasbourg is a beautiful city. We spent a short time wandering around before the need to Make Some Headway on the long drive to the southern edge of the country overcame us.

Strasbourg, France
I consciously packed super cute outfits, with no boring fallbacks to weasel into and I still felt horrifically underdressed in France. French women have got themselves some style.

Strasbourg, France

Strasbourg, France

Strasbourg, France

Strassbourg, France
Of course, the kids stuck to the basics. Carousels are always fun, no matter what country you find yourself in.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

A Twinkle Toes Is Born

Cheeseball started ballet today. As with most things, the outfit and accessories were her hook.

Thrilled to wear her ballet accoutrement with purpose, she couldn't believe her luck once surrounded by little girls (!), who spoke English (!) and a giant mirror that she was encouraged to watch herself in (!).

Really, I don't think it gets much better than this.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Got ya covered, netbook.

As much as I try to juggle various projects like pretty much all other knitters, stitchers and generally crafty types do, it's just not my style. I like continuity. I like beginnings, middles and ends. I like finishing things.

So, this is what I've been working on the past week or so.

knitted netbook cover

It's a cover for our wee teeny netbook! And finished just in time to pop it in the overnight bag and head off to France for a few days.

It didn't come out exactly the way I pictured it in my head. But, I only dropped one stitch and it's the biggest thing I've made with nothing but the picture in my own head to go by. And I'm pretty happy with it!