Archive for December, 2010

Couldn’t Resist Those Adult Beverages?

Photo: IKONIX Studio

So, you and Capt. Morgan engaged in a sorrow-drowning affair?

Not the best heart-healing approach perhaps, but there are ways to settle the sloshing and muffle the morning-after throbbing.

Part of the reason your head feels like it’s stuffed with fluff after a night of extreme imbibing is that you’re dehydrated. Yup. There are other factors involved, but who cares about science at a time like this?

You need Hangover Helpers. STAT.

Many old wives’ tales offer hangover remedies. Some scientifically sound. Some, well, maybe not. But why not give ’em a try?

Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. We’re not talking about drinking more alcohol, which is a diuretic. We’re talking water, straight up. Hoist one tall glass of water for every adult beverage you consume. Best to consume during party time, but it also helps just before you stumble into bed with that lampshade on your head. Or slurp it down as soon as you’re able to peel your eyes open the morning after. Or knock back some soothing tea laced with ginger. You get a two-fer when you sip ginger tea: Ginger chases away nausea, and the tea helps with that hydration.

Consume ample asparagus. Apparently young asparagus shoots and leaves whomp up the effect of enzymes in your body that break down alcohol. (Asparagus has leaves?) Anyway, the research—in Korea—was done on drunken rats who were given asparagus extract, but still.

Gobble carb-laden foods. This may be a fabled cure, but it works for us. Carbs seem to soak up a lot of whatever’s sloshing around in your stomach. You also could try the mnemonic BRAT treatment suggested for people with, um, gastrointestinal distress. BRAT stands for Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast.

Lindsey swears by her hangover cure-all: Fried Rice with Portuguese Sausage.

Fried Rice with Portuguese Sausage

2 Tbsp. oil (divided)

1 small onion, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

1 large jalapeno pepper, finely chopped (remove hot, hot, hot seeds and veins first)

3 cloves garlic, minced

12 oz. Portuguese sausage (linguica), Andouille, or Polish sausage, coarsely chopped

3 cups cooked rice (leftover…or cooked rice in a pouch)

2 tsp. hoisin sauce

1 Tbsp. soy sauce or fish sauce

Sriracha or hot sauce, optional

4 green onions, sliced

1. Heat 1 Tbsp. of the oil over medium-high heat in a wok or deep skillet. Add onion, carrot, and jalapeno. Cook and stir for 3 to 4 minutes or until onion softens. Add garlic, stirring for about 30 secons. Add sausage slice; cook and stir for 3 minutes more.

2. If needed, add remaining oil. Stir in rice, hoisin, and soy sauce. Cook and stir for 1 to 2 minutes more or until rice is heated through. Taste. If desired, splash in Sriracha. Sprinkle with green onions.

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2010. Done.

To sum up 2010:

1. First full year as a freelancer without COBRA. Cost of health insurance is stunning. The treadmill and I are new best friends.

2. Published Heartbreak Recovery Kitchen cookbook including tales of comeback from trauma and recipes that make you forget your woes. Celebration party with recipes from the book: Easy Frozen Lemonade Margaritas, Tropical Sangria, Korean Barbecued Beef, Asian Shrimp Noodles, Poblano Pepper Slaw, Walnut-Studded Dark Chocolate Brownies…

3. Summoned friends to sop up water in basement after a monsoon night in Iowa. Papa Murphy’s Pizza.

4. Bought shampoo and conditioner for the first time in 1 year after using up my supply of hotel sample-size bottles.

5. During a no-income spell over the summer, I survived for 2 weeks on $7 (and zucchini, see #6, below). Amazing how many meals can be made from 1 whole chicken (which I had in my freezer). I splurged for a pound of carrots and celery to finish off the carcass in a batch o’ soup. Then went on a chicken moratorium.

6. My zucchini crop was HUGE. Little friends Claire and Bren, right, show off one that took off when my back was turned. Double Dark Chocolate Zucchini Bread.

7. Kitchen floor damaged after roof leak crept between walls and spread moisture beneath old vinyl flooring. New flooring. Roof repair. Martini time.

8. Baked up a storm for the holidays. Then my oven died 4 nights before my holiday party. Ho ho noooooo. New oven installed in the St. Nick of time. Short ribs with gremolata. Garlic mashed potatoes w/ celery root. Good friends.

9. Winter weather prohibited Christmas eve gathering with family. Just me, Jimmy Stewart, and an egg salad sandwich.

10. Christmas Day. Weather cooperated.  Cooking extravaganza with Lindsey. Ahhh. Joy. Roast ham. Cranberry chutney (wow). Roasted parsnips, onions, carrots, sweet potatoes.

11. End of year meeting with my financial advisor. Ouch. Chocolate ice cream with hot fudge sauce.

12. Thankful for friends and family…and the comfort of the kitchen. It may be time to make a batch of Change-Your-Fortune Cookies from Heartbreak Recovery Kitchen.

13. Farewell 2010. Stop stalking me!

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Dark Chocolate and Almond Toffee Crisps

Who knew saltine crackers could save the day?

I keep a stash of those crisp little squares—perforated with perfect little holes—for emergencies. A bowl of tomato soup is naked without saltines.

But the most ingenious use of saltines is in making Chocolate Almond Toffee Crisps.
I’ve been making it for years from a recipe that was handed to me scribbled on a piece of notepaper. I’ve tweaked it a bit to include dark chocolate and sliced almonds. (But you’ll probably find something similar all over the Web.)
Imagine the combo: Dark chocolate, buttery caramel, a titch of saltiness…and slivers of toasted almonds (you can substitute the nut of your choice). Crunch. Munch. Moan (in an ecstatic way).
My friend Sally just requested the recipe, reminding me it’s time to revisit it.
It’s one of my go-to last-minute treats for entertaining…You can have a batch ready for nibbling in 15 to 20 minutes.
And no one suspects there are saltine crackers involved.
Dark Chocolate and Almond Toffee Crisps

40 saltine crackers (1 sleeve)
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips and/or chopped bittersweet chocolate
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a jelly roll pan (10x15x1) or rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper (or foil). Line the crackers in a single layer on the parchment paper in pan.
2. In a saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture boils. Let it bubble for 3 minutes, without stirring. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Immediately pour mixture over crackers. Bake for 5 minutes.
3. Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over top; let stand for 5 minutes, then spread melted chips evenly over all. Top with sliced almonds. Cool completely, then cut or break toffee into pieces.

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