Sunday, September 14, 2014

Breakfast Burrito

I haven't had the cooking bug in a while, but it's now finally starting to come back to me.  So instead of a Monster and piece of toast for breakfast, I decided to make something a bit more substantial and savory.  I present to you the Breakfast Burrito.

I love eggs in the morning, but I'm often too lazy or too much in a rush to cook them.  This morning I'm lounging around and decided to take advantage of the extra time.  I've also been in the cupboard diet as of late, and had some extra wild rice from a few days ago and a can of vegetarian chili; thus, the burrito idea was born.

On the stove I got everything ready while I raided the fridge for any other ingredients.  Cold cuts from yesterday's lunch gave me some tasty ham and white American cheese to add to the burrito.  Let me pause and say, I don't know what it is about white American, but it's just so damn good.   Back to the stove.

You may remember from previous posts that I don't have an extensive array of cooking ware. As you can see I don't have any lids for my frying pans. But, another frying pan on top does the trick.

With the cheese melted, I throw the rice and chili on top of the eggs and add a little Frank's red hot. Because I literally put that shit on everything.

And there you have it, the Poor Man's Breakfast Burrito. Better than anything you'll get at McDonald's, and a perfect precursor for a rigorous workout.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Disco Fries Chili

I've thought about naming this creation "Jersey Chili," a nod to the often off-menu item from our world famous diners here in the Garden State.

It started off with a chili recipe I found and used for Super Bowl a few weeks ago.  It came out so well, and was relatively inexpensive, that I've made two more pots of it since.

Last night I was down to the last of my current chili batch, and I had an idea.  I had some Burger King fries leftover from lunch (was going to use them for hash browns and eggs...that post will be coming shortly), but I decided to use them here.  I love french fries in things -- growing up, there was a place down the road that put french fries on their cheesesteaks and it was heaven.  Now, fast food fries do tend to go stale pretty fast, but throw them into a dry frying pan and you can toast them back to life. Never throw fries away again!

So, back to the chili...  I warmed up my last bowlful in a small sauce pan on the stove while I toasted up the fries.  When the chili was heated through, I put it in a bowl and covered it while I got everything else ready.  

I happened to have some gravy powder packets on hand from my birthday party -- stuffing balls with gravy dipping sauce -- so I mixed that up in the sauce pan and continued toasting the fries.  In the meantime I got out the sour cream and cheddar cheese from the fridge.  There was just enough sour cream left for a nice dollop on top of the chili.

Fries were done, they went on top...

Then time for gravy...

Finally, the cheese.  Now, typically disco fries are covered with shredded mozzarella.  I know this might be controversial, but this IS Poor Man's Cupboard, and we do need to improvise with what we have on hand.  And what I had on hand was the last of a package of shredded cheddar, so on it went.

Thirty to forty-five seconds under the broiler (make sure to can burn quickly), and we had perfection (with a parsley garnish).

The deep, rich taste of the chili, the melted cheddar, the crunchy fries smothered with gravy, the cool surprise of the sour cream -- this is is a bowl with complex flavored and textures that will absolutely delight you...especially before an impending storm.

And for dessert...

Monday, August 26, 2013

Quick update: Tomatoes and Radishes

Just a quick little update:

First of all, for the cherry tomatoes -- pruning off all those sucker leaves was TOTALLY the right thing to do.  All of a sudden, I have a dozen or so more cherry tomatoes blooming.  This has actually been really invigorating and has gotten me excited again about this garden.  Fingers-crossed on the strawberries (all suggestions welcome).

Also, the radishes are coming in nicely.  This picture is from after I pruned a bunch of radish shoots...and let me tell you, I might just grow shoots and not even wait for radish bulbs.  The radish shoots/greens taste just like radishes, and I've been using them in salads.  Seriously, these took just about a week and are so much more satisfying!

Hopefully I will have some more good news soon!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Long-Overdue Garden Update (It's not pretty)

I'm not going to rule this experiment a complete failure.  It certainly had it's challenges -- cat litter jugs as garden pots, growing on a fifth floor fire escape, a relentless heat wave.  I think it turned out the best it could have, although I wish I had yielded more fruit.

Let me break it down.


Yep, this one went down for the count.  I guess the whole thing started with the heat wave -- it started yellowing, and I had to bring it inside.  It seemed like it was doing ok, but it took a turn for the worse and there was no saving it.

One thing I have to mention is that this plant had a bunch of great looking leaves and two green tomatoes on it for the longest time (I think I commented on this in previous posts).  I did a little bit of research, and found that Miracle Grow (which I had used a couple times) is full of nitrogen, which is great for leaf growth.  However, tomatoes need phosphates, and I ended up going to Home Depot for a separate tomato plant food.  Once I added that in and stopped using the Miracle Grow, the tomato turned red in a matter of days.

Unfortunately, I was only able to eat one of the tomatoes.  The other one was attacked by a mysterious creature.

To this day, I have no idea what ate the second tomato.  And, I almost don't want to know what monster crawled up a fifth floor fire escape.  Anyway, sads.


Sort of a blurry picture, but you can see the cherry tomatoes are doing pretty well.  This picture is from a couple weeks ago -- since then, Carl and I had a nice salad (although we basically used all the fruit).  Here's another picture from last week:

It's still very green, and a couple more tomatoes popped up.  As I was doing research about yielding more fruit, it occurred to me that maybe on the fifth floor there aren't enough bugs to help pollinate the tomato flowers.  I tried to help it along by using a small wet paint brush (a suggestion from one of the sites).  Also I did some research about pruning, and I took some time this morning to clip some of the "sucker" leaves.
There are a bunch of new flowers towards the top of the plant, so I'm hopeful that I'll get a second crop out of this plant.  Will be monitoring this for sure.


These plants are actually doing pretty well.  They've been the best producers all summer.  Unfortunately Blogger is being weird and won't let me bring in a picture here, but you can see them in some of the pictures above.



These were the most fickle of all the plants I started this summer.  Super sensitive to heat -- I had to bring them into the house constantly.  They only yielded a couple snow peas at a time.  I loved the idea of this, but it took up a lot of my time.  I wasn't so upset at losing these plants.


Ok, you can see these in the pic above, in the white jug.  I'm not entirely sure what kind of peppers these are, my friend Lynn's parents gave them to me.  They look great -- but they haven't grown more than 6 inches in the last two months that I've had them.  I've been watering them, but I haven't done too much research about care.  Since the snow peas died, and now that I think I have the cherry tomatoes under control, I might focus more attention on these.

I've started over with these.  They didn't really do well to start - again, I think because of the heat wave - but I have a packet of seeds that I've barely used and I decided to plant some on Friday.  You can see I already have some growth -- what I like is that radishes have a full germination of 22 days, so it really doesn't take a whole lot of effort.  I'll keep you updated on these.

I have no idea what's going on with these.  The leaves look great, and I  even had some flowers (I posted a pic a few posts ago).  But they really haven't progressed.  Again, I blame the heat wave, although I need to do a little research about these.  I know that they are late bloomers, and recently I've had a lot of new growth on these.  No new flowers though.  Ugh.

* * * * *

So, that's about it.  A few dead plants, some consistent herbs, and some staggering tomatoes, peppers and strawberries.  Summer's not over, and we're getting some great weather these days.  I'll be keeping an eye on all of these, and hopefully will have an update again soon!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Faux Wood Chandelier

Or, actually, wood faux chandelier.  Real wood.  Faux chandelier.  Well, composite's not solid pine or anything.  Still real.

So, I was home watching Open House on NBC one Sunday morning - not a huge fan of the show, feel like it really interrupts my Sunday morning news gathering.  But what caught my eye was a segment on Sabrina Soto's (from HGTV) NYC apartment, and she had this awesome faux chandelier in her bedroom.

I did some research, and I actually found a replica on Etsy for like $60.  Well, those of you who know me know that it pains me to spend even $60 on a good pair of jeans (seriously, where can I find a good pair of jeans for $20??), so there's no way in hell I was going to buy this on Etsy.

Since I wasn't about to buy this on Etsy (actually, there is very little that I'd buy on Etsy that I wouldn't make myself - thoughts on this?), I decided to do a little materials-browsing at Michaels and see if I could create my own wood faux chandelier.

And I was in luck -- I found these frames that were on clearance, and had a great shape to them that I thought I could deconstruct and put together in a nice arrangement.  The big frames were $1.99 each, and the small frames were $.29!!  I love a good clearance sale.  (I ended up using just the two large frames, and one small frame.)

I took a bit of time to figure out the construction on this - and honestly, if I wasn't such an impatient person, I probably could have spent more time to make a solid structure.  Basically I relied on the strength of Elmers WoodGlue Max.  Gotta say, pretty strong...

I used the two big frames and deconstructed them using my Swiss Army knife.  The first piece was not so easy to cut out, but after I had a template it was easy to score and break apart the rest of the pieces -- I did some pretty deep scoring, and left the rest to some sand paper to smooth it out.

The bottom half of the chandelier was easy to glue to the dowel connecting it all.  The top half was a little tricky, and included the use of some butterfly clips and stray yarn (separate project, in the works).  Eventually I got all the pieces glued together, and it was time for some paint.

The paint I chose was some leftover Behr Paint-and-Primer-in-One.  I don't recommend this paint, it went on spotty and required multiple coats, despite the fact that its name seems time-saving.  Eventually I got it done, and I'm pretty pleased with the results.


Again, I could have taken my time and thought more about the construction, but overall I'm pretty pleased considering this project cost me $4.29 and some leftover paint.

(Btw, got that bed-set on sale from Macy's for $99 - great apartment-warming present from my mom!)

What do you think?  What sorts of DIY house projects have you done?

Also guys - don't forget to like my Facebook page!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Presto Pesto

Is there anything better than basil?  My bsail plant is doing really well, and some of its leaves were getting pretty big.  I haven't needed basil for anything I've cooked lately, but I knew I had to prune the leaves to keep encouraging new growth.  So, off with the leaves...but how do I not let them go to waste?

I looked in my cupboard and saw I had one small clove of garlic left, and I decided to make a pesto.  I chopped up the garlic, washed and julienned the basil leaves and tossed them both in my mortar and pestle.  No pine nuts, so I substituted those leftover almonds again - they've been coming in quite handy.  A little salt, pepper, and drizzle of oil, and I was off to work.

That plant looks pretty great, huh?  And that was after pruning.  I know I'm going to have to trim it again in a few days.

Using the mortar and pestle, it took 7 minutes or so to grind everything up into a paste.  It's more work, but I wasn't making enough to be able to use the food processor.  And using the mortar and pestle made me feel a little old school.  ;)

So now with the pesto made, I had to find a way to store it for future use.  I've seen my mom use the ice-cube tray technique before, and I thought it would be a great way to store the pesto in individual portions.  I lined the tray with some plastic wrap and scooped in the pesto.

So there you go.  Homemade pesto, with some substitutions, and I didn't need anything from the grocery store.  I love that part!  This little garden is really starting to pay off!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Tin-Can Lantern

This little birdie says CHEAP-CHEAP, CHEAP-CHEAP.

I've been wanting to add a little chic to the Cupboard.  Simple project, slightly time consuming, and great use of the chick pea cans I've been collecting from making all that hummus!  Seriously, at $.89 a can, this project has Poor Man's Cupboard written all over it.  Couple of tips:

Use graph paper to make your template.  This makes it so much easier to make it even.  I measured the can and then cut out a piece of graph paper to fit.  Then I divided the graph paper into two panels: a left panel and a right panel.

I found my template online, and drew half of the image onto the right panel of the graph paper.  Then  I folded the paper in half, traced the image on the back side of the left panel, then opened up the paper and traced the copy onto the front side of the left panel.

Now I had a perfectly even template, I just needed to punch the holes.  I taped the template to the can and started punching away.  I had a test can to try different methods, and the end I used a wood boring bit, the kind with the sharp point.  It was easy to hold, and easy to be accurate with my punches.  

Not going to lie, this was a time consuming process.  I didn't even bother with the corner florets on my template...the birds and the center vine probably took me about an hour to punch out, mostly because I was taking my time and trying to be as accurate as possible.

In the end though, it's pretty satisfying.  I have the template, and I plan on making at least one more to make a pair.  I might choose a less complicated template and make a second pair of these.

I have a coffee tin, too; although I don't make that much coffee at home, and it's still half full.  But I thought it might be fun to make an outdoor citronella candle out of.

Also, I saw one suggestion online to pour water into the cans and freeze, so that you don't dent the can when you're punching the holes.  I tried this with my first test can -- and as I was punching the holes and holding the can, the ice started melting and seeping through the holes, and the paper got wet and was hard to handle.  I think as long as you take your time, you can skip this step and just be careful with the can.  Mine came out totally fine without the ice.