Monthly Archives: June 2010

Funky little funghi quesadillas

The supporting star award at my Bras, Booze & Bites party goes to these guys.

Mini mushroom, cilantro & goat cheese quesadillas. So simple, so delicious and so adorable. I love anything “mini.” Mini to me says, “please, eat more of me because I’m small and I don’t count.” What’s not to love about that?

If you’d like to create  these bite-size treats for your next party, here’s what you’ll need:

1 10 count package of taco-sized tortillas

3 Tablespoons butter (divided)

2 cloves garlic minced

2 cartons of diced button mushrooms

1 cup of cilantro leaves

1 small log of goat cheese

2 cups of Monterrey jack

Salt & pepper to taste

To assemble them:

Preheat oven to 400.

Take a cup and press 2-3 circles into your tortillas. Then trace with a knife to cut out the mini tortillas. If you are clever, figure out what to do with the scraps of tortilla. I was thinking maybe a casserole  or something, but sadly, mine just went in the trash.

Chop the sliced mushrooms roughly. I used a chopper, but made sure I didn’t get the pieces too small. You want a bit of texture to the quesadillas.

Chop the cilantro leaves.

Heat 1  Tablespoon of butter in the pan and add the garlic. Heat until frangrant then add the mushroom bits and cilantro.

Cook until tender and just browned.

Salt and pepper to taste. Turn off heat.

Mix in the goat cheese until well combined and then transfer to a mixing bowl and combine with the jack cheese.

Melt the remaining butter (You probably won’t use it all. I didn’t.) Spray a large baking sheet with no-stick spray. Place a batch of the mini tortillas on the baking sheet (spaced out.)  Take a spoonfull (smallish) of the mushroom cheese mix and place in tortillas and fold over, pressing to secure. Be careful not to over-fill. Or they will ooze too much.

Brush the tops of them with butter.

Bake for 3-4 minutes, or until golden brown and then flip. You can brush the other side with butter too, but I was in a hurry and didn’t. Cook on other side for about 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown.

This made about 30 mini quesadillas.  I had to cook them in 3 batches.

You might want to have a fly swatter handy to slap your guests’ hands because they are going to start grabbing these fast once they taste them.

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Bras, Bites & Booze Party

Almost every girl has to wear one for the majority of her waking life.

But why is it so hard to get a bra that fits right, looks cute and feels great on?

My talented friend Anne Quade of Décolletage by Anne offered to share some of her wisdom about the perfect fit with my girlfriends. I can’t resist an excuse for a party. Especially a girly party with potential for alliteration in the name.

I’ve known Anne since the 2nd grade. In 5-7 grade we had the unfortunate pleasure of being the worst two ballerinas ever together. Despite our lack of natural talent, we gave it a good go for a few years of lessons.

And Anne will tell you that if you get a few drinks in me, I will bust out some old moves. But only if you are really lucky.

Luckily, Anne has found her true talent as a seamstress. She’s a bit of a Super Mom. She makes her own diapers, baby clothes, bras and clothing.

I’m still waiting to find my natural talent…uh…..is this thing on? Anybras…

Despite threats from our male friends to hide out in my bushes with cameras, the party was on!

And I was pretty excited when the first two party guests showed up – Marie (above) & Monique (left.)

These ladies were ready to party on down. And so were we.

Before we dug into the pressing matter at hand, we dug into some bites.

On the menu: mini mushroom, cilantro  & goat cheese quesadillas , little bites caprese salad, rosemary flatbread, carrot sticks,  roasted garlic humus and chips & salsa.

I also had red and white wine for the guests.

Anne opened the floor by asking the guests what they hate about wearing a bra.

It didn’t take long for my friends to open up:

– Straps falling down

– “Popping out” of the cup

– “Headlights”

– Underwire discomfort

-Fat rolls on your side from the bra pushing into you

Ladies, you get the drift. Bras kind of suck.

Lucky for us, Anne had solutions to all of our woes. In fact, she knew what we were going to say in advance and designed her bras to combat each and every complaint.

Isn’t she smart?

Then, she offered free fittings. And I mean real fittings. Not the generic quick (pink) tape measure fitting you get at Victoria’s Secret. There was some serious fittingage going on in my kitchen.

Anne had created a bra in every size known to man so that each girl could try on the proper fit. It was beyond impressive. The try-on bras were plain cotton, but see, once Anne gets a good fit, she creates a bra to a girl’s liking.

For the party, Anne offered a fantastic discount to anyone who wanted to order one.

Then we sat around and laughed about girly things while taking turns with the fittings.

DD Girl was more than happy to replace our weekly  Thursday evening Fire & Wine night with B, B & B.

I had to share with everyone that when I was little I thought boobs grew in like Barbie’s — stiff, connected, perky and perfect.

Stupid Barbie and her perfect little figure  for misguiding our body image expectations.

In fact, just for that, I made sure there were a few of her kind hanging around to hear what real women have to go through.

She didn’t seem too fazed.

Screw her.

Gertie gets it.

In fact, she couldn’t resist being one of the girls for the evening.

Even though the party guests have gone (to the best of my knowledge….although, that DD Girl is pretty sneaky. She might be hanging around…) and the booze & bites have long been put away, you can still bring the party home with you!

Anne has offered to extend her party discount of 20% off a custom bra to the readers of Queen of Quirky!

I feel so special.

So, to take advantage of this special offer (it expires July 31) simply enter the voucher QUEENOFQUIRKY.

I kind of feel bad because Anne is giving you this nice discount and  I personally have nothing to offer….

There’s always that ballet dance.

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Not the bee’s knees

I have a 100% legitimate excuse for not doing laundry in the past 24 hours…

My basement is infested with bees.

And not just happy little bumblebees.

Giant, swarming, we-want-to-eat-you-and-your-little-dog-too bees.

I kind of want to march downstairs and tell that Queen Bee, “Hey missy. Watch yourself. There is only one Queen in this quirky household.”

But then I would run screaming up the stairs, so I fear my threats would seem a little idle.

Instead I think I’ll go the route of, “Oh Mr. Landlord……”

It’s one of those moments where I think, wow. I’m glad I’ve been a slightly hot  mess for the past 10 years and I still rent.

 Photo courtesy of Kodo_85 via Photobucket

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Breaking news: A baby Stephanie!

Silly reader!

Not me, the other Stephanie.

The one in the middle.

Technically, the third Stephanie (on the other end) is also days away from having her first baby.

The Stephanie in blue is not.

Back to the middle Stephanie. And her beautiful baby.

I just had to share this because it’s really, really special to me for several reasons. It’s just what happens when your best friend has a baby…

First, I’ve known Stephanie since right when she started dating her now husband and new daddy, Chris.

They are about two of my favorite people ever.

Stephanie has proceeded down an aisle twice in her life for me.

That’s one more time than a good friend should have to do that, but she’s just that awesome.

She’s also been there for me in my roughest hour(s.)

Stephanie and her husband were in Vegas when Mr. Quirky and I got engaged.

They are fantastic people who deserve nothing but the best in life, including a beautiful daughter.

Their daughter weighed 7 pounds, 12 ounces. They named her Claire. And will probably call her Claire Bear frequently.

I think Claire is going to love her quirky pseudo aunt in Kansas City.

And when she gets older, I will tell her all the some of the wild  things her mama and I got to do together when we were name sharing, apartment sharing, fun-loving young women working at a newspaper in Rocky Mount, NC.

I will also advise her to love life like her mama, work hard and be responsible (most of the time)  like her mama, manage her finances like her mama, be a wonderful friend like her mama and pick a good man who can cook like her daddy.

With these two as parents, this kid has it made.

I’m loving little Claire already from afar.

Photo copyright 2010, Rob Ostermaier

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Pants in the pool, sunburn, and a stuffed but still i-phone-less Mr. Quirky

I have about four posts lined up to write this week, including  a follow-up post to this conversation with DD Girl. It’s kind of awesome.

But while you are waiting, I wanted to share a few highlights from the quirky weekend.

I really needed a weekend after the Vegas trip, a full week, including planning and hosting a party on Thursday night on top of a catch-up week at work.

Luckily it was Roomie’s birthday and celebrations were held at at our old (er, my old) pool Friday night.

There was grilling, drinking, swimming, cannon balling and pants in the pool.

That’s right. I said pants in the pool. You must say this to the tune of “Pants on the Ground.”  (Warning: excessive repeating of this at a pool party could result in severe agitation of fellow attendees.)

Anypants, Roomie’s boyfriend came to a pool party in 90 degree weather wearing pants. (He claims  they were appropriate because they were cool pants, but the grief must still be given.)  After dinner, a few beers and a mandatory 20 minute waiting period (safety first) we all got in the pool.

Ok, so we didn’t wait 20 minutes after we ate. Sorry moms. We still wear our seatbelts though.

But not Mr. Pants. He stood on the sidelines like it was the adult swim.

Finally, we egged him on to get in, pants and all. (Insisting that the pants stayed on.)

Then I entertained annoyed everyone with my “Pants in the Pool” rendition. It was maybe funny the first three times.

The next day, Roomie and I decided to spend more time at the pool still in proper swimming attire, of course. This time the sun was still shining, and per my usual, I was armed with my bag o’ sunscreen and floppy hat.

Now, I’m not sure how this happened, but I still managed to get some burnage. Mr. Quirky was very confused about this because I didn’t get even the tiniest burn in Vegas. And isn’t the sun more powerful the farther south you go?

I am chalking it up to the fact that I did not have a big fruity drink in hand to protect me from the evil sun.

Drinking+ bag o’ sunscreen= no sunburn. Not drinking + bag o’ sunscreen = sunburn. Like that math? (Warning: I did very poorly in math as a student, so I probably wouldn’t rely on this formula.)

While I was soaking up sun, Mr. Quirky was soaking up barbecue sauce.

He judged one of Kansas City’s big barbecue contests this weekend.

That meant he got to eat meat for about four hours.

When he got home, he said he had lots of  little piggy’s, chickens and moo cows in his belly. And his belly was done for.

So what did I do? I whisked him off to dinner with my family.

Because that’s what sensitive wives  do after their husbands have just spent the past afternoon stuffing their faces with lots o’ meat. “Let’s go to dinner, honey! ” (This is typically the kind of wife who who washes her husband’s  i-phone.)

And no, poor Mr. Quirky did not get his new i-phone yet. He is hoping they get more this week. And if they don’t, I may have to build one for him.

Luckily, he has a phone for work that can be used in an emergency.

And by emergency, I mean the cutest nephew in the world is on your lap.

After dinner, Mr. Quirky and I went to see Toy Story III. It was adorable.

And sentimental.

And it made me miss my childhood toys.

How could I ever have been so cruel as to grow too old to play with them?

Good thing I had Sunday to lie around doing nothing, so there was plenty of time to get over my toy abuse guilt.

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What happens in Vegas, gets shared on this blog

Vegas.

A play land for adults.

And these two like to have a lot of fun.

Let’s rehash, shall we?

Note: some things do/should stay in Vegas and will not be shared.

There was a lot of dining going on. Because we like to dine. And Vegas has restaurants.

And we like Vegas for that reason. But even Vegas needs to learn its limits….

These nachos were out of control.

I wanted to hug them, inhale them, get them out of my face and never see them again. In that order.

(Source of obnoxious yet delicious nachos: Blondies Sports Bar, the Mile High Shops.)

Also, I have to call Mr. Quirky out for wincing at the spicy level of his bloody mary.

Silly boy. 🙂

Anywho, when we weren’t eating, we were gambling.

Not anything too obnoxious, just a little fun.

Or a BIG little fun.

For the entire series of the giant lever pull, check out this slide show.

And when we weren’t gambling, we were cocktailing.

Ok, so maybe we did some of that while gambling.

We found this ice bar in Mandalay Bay. Instead of paying to freeze, we paid for a vodka shot in a frozen shot glass.

That’s always fun.

You know what seemed like a good idea after that shot?

<==== (the roller coaster.)

Whee!

And after that, I couldn’t resist doing this.

Then we returned to the scene of the crime.

The exact spot Mr Quirky asked me to marry him.

No one asked me to marry them this time, but a guy did try to sell us bottled water. I guess when you are married, you just get water.

After a full night of walking the strip, our evening was completed by making new friends at the bar at our hotel.

They were much cooler than the guy (forever here out dubbed “That Guy”) we met our first night at Paris.

He had been to the Anthony Cools hypnotism show.  That Guy walked up to where we were throwing money away, I mean playing video poker.

He told us the show was vulgar & filthy. (And we both kind of wanted to see it after that.) And then he walked away mid-sentence, leaving his ticket next to Mr. Quirky.

The next day, we were minding our own business in the casino at The Flamingo (where we stayed) and suddenly, Mr. Quirky goes, “there’s That Guy!”

I’m not going to lie.

We chased him through the casino in an effort to snap a picture of him.

He hopped on the escalator and I followed him. Mr. Quirky ran down the stairs to get to the bottom before we did and shoot this picture.

In a perfect universe, we’d see him over and over again and take random pictures of us with him in the background.

But alas, the world isn’t perfect and we never saw him again.

Maybe next time, Vegas.

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My buddy cooked dinner for me

I really liked Rick Moonen on the 2nd season of Top Chef Masters. I loved the way he took himself seriously without taking himself too seriously. He joked a lot, but made fun of himself as much as he made fun of others.  He seems like a guy you could have a glass of wine with and discuss sustainable seafood.

Sidenote: I just watched Food Inc. and they didn’t talk about seafood. So, I’m not quite sure what sustainable seafood is, or why it is important.

(Because I get all my foodie info from documentaries.)

What I think I know: the fishies I ate were happy fishies and that when they died, the environment was not impacted. What I know: they were delicious. So, if sustainable seafood = happy, environmentally friendly fishes that are delicious, then I’m in.

Back to Rick & I. Now that I’m on the up and up on sustainable seafood, I’m pretty sure that we could be buddies. Especially because his menu only had three instances of red meat — this is my kind of chef! (But I get that. My husband loves red meat  and is allergic to shellfish and so if there wasn’t any on the menu, I probably wouldn’t have been able to sweet talk him into going to RM Seafood.)

But I, on the other hand could have eaten everything else on the menu. And maybe now that Rick is going to be my buddy, I’ll get a chance to someday.

Since ordering everything on the menu wasn’t in the cards (oy vay, enough with cards for a while, Vegas.) I had to make my selections. It was really hard, people. But at the same time, it was pretty much a no brainer.

Decision number one: pass up the raw bar. Why? Husband can’t enjoy it, and I just don’t believe oysters should be enjoyed alone. (Ladies, anyone want to go back with me?)

Decision number two: despite hot temperatures in Vegas, soup over salad.

If your buddy only had one shot to cook for you, then you better go with what he’s known for. This was Rick’s White  Clam Chowder, and let me explain…

Simply delectable. The first thing that hits your tongue is the tang of the dill, and then in each creamy bite, you get substantial chunks of briny clams (I love a sandy bite now and then) and al dente potatoes that pop in your mouth. The dill lingers on taunting you to lick the bowl clean. Of course, I wouldn’t want to embarrass Rick that way. So I just forced my spoon to reach new depths of cleaning a bowl.

Then I let one of Rick’s staff take it away. (Incidentally, our waitress’s name was Stephanie. See, Rick knows good people to hire in his restaurant…) I’m pretty sure the only reason I relinquished my bowl  is I knew what was coming next…

Hand made cavatelli  with morel mushrooms,blue crab, meyer lemon.

Let’s talk about sustainable seafood again…

A happy fish makes a happy Stephanie.

So, what was awesome about this dish? Pretty much everything.

It’s one of those dishes that sticks in your mind for days.  You want more, but you can’t have more. I would have a very hard time returning to RM Seafood and not ordering this again. But, I know Rick would encourage me to try something else. Maybe he’d just bring me another little taste of…

The cavatelli itself is almost gnochi like. Only it’s not,  because each pasta is like a little mini cup for the creamy lemon sauce, which dances in your mouth as you alternate between the savory crab and the rich morels.

I had never had a morel before, so I knew I would order this before I even got to RM Seafood.

Thank you, Rick.

Oh yes, and I was there with Mr. Quirky. Almost got a little carried away. Mr. Quirky did not have a starter. He just went straight for the gold…

The beef filet with crème fraîche whipped potatoes and red wine reduction.

He said, “It was a very good steak. Not the best, but very good.” He also thought it must have been a very happy cow. A happy cow makes a happy Mr. Quirky.

I think it’s hard to be the best at steak when you are focused on seafood. So, we cut Rick a little slack.

I tasted the wine reduction sauce on the potatoes and it was the perfect combination of creamy, savory and sweet.

See, how happy it made Mr. Quirky?

You know what else Mr. Quirky loves?

A game.

And this is the final reason why I think Rick would not only be my buddy, but he’d love Mr. Quirky too. Only a very fun spirited chef would think to take his dessert and make a tasting game out of it.If you can guess the flavor of 16 sorbets and ice creams, it’s free!

Food should be fun.

And Rick gets that, it’s obvious.

This game was a blast. I don’t want to give away too much, in case you are thinking of dropping by anytime soon. We got nine right, which isn’t bad.

Some of the flavors that stumped us were garlic, milk and buttermilk. (Stephanie told us that milk stumps a lot of people!)

I was pretty proud that I picked the pretzel ice cream, and came close but confused Thai Tea for Chai Tea.

This was among my favorite dining experiences ever.  And while I know that Rick was most likely not even in Vegas that night, I’m relishing in the fact that he had a lot to do with my meal.

Rick, let me know when you want us to come back. We’re a lot of fun!

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Queen of Quirky: not the coolest kid at the Vegas pool scene

You can take the Queen out of Kansas City, but you can’t take the Quirky out of the Queen.

Even when I try to be kind of cool, I fail.

Take my first day in Vegas.  It was 3 p.m. and I decided to hit the pool with my laptop and work for a while. I had heard the Hard Rock Hotel had a happening pool.

But if you are the QoQ, you can’t just “show up at the pool and wait for the magic to happen.” You have to prepare for these kinds of things. Namely sun.

So there I was, lugging around my laptop bag (a pool accessory not likely to show up on the Glamor Magazine “Do List.” ) which I had stuffed with my bag o’ sunscreen, room key, iphone and work papers.

My bag o’ sunscreen contains SPF 30, SPF 55 (age correction) SPF 20 chapstick,  SPF 30 oil free face and an assortment of rubber bands. It is super awesome.  Because nothing looks sexier than thick white sunscreen that barely soaks into your skin because it’s so dense.

Luckily, it was a weekday so there were a few spots. I pulled up a chair and went to work…

slathering on my oodles of sunscreen.

But then I realized that I had found a seat in the shade. Seeing as I had gone to all that effort to slather on sunscreen, I decided to move.

I found a nice spot in close enough proximity to dip my toes in the water while keeping an eye on my stuff.

I sat down and felt the chair give.

A lot more than it should.

Good grief. Four days off the Weight Watchers and I’m already breaking chairs? (I heard that WW was illegal in Vegas, so decided not to take my chances getting caught on a diet in the city of sin…)

Turns out the chair was already ripped. (And if you don’t believe that, please keep your opinions to yourself. )

After a short while I realized the pool crowd was starting to shift. The 20’s group had had enough sun and was going upstairs to do whatever it is they do before they do whatever cool things in the night. The 30’s plus crowd was starting to  show up.

A nice couple sat down next to me. I was immediately endeared to the wife who said she envisioned after 30 minutes in the sun, she would be tan and skinny for dinner. Because isn’t that what happens at the pool?

I loved that philosophy. (And may steal it later.)

We laughed about my chair. And my bag ‘o sunscreen. And we discussed food.

Oh how we love food.

Food can make  two strangers the closest of friends in an instant. Speaking of new friends, my new friends gave me the most marvelous tip. RM Seafood at the Mandalay Place inside Mandalay Bay.  You know, Rick Moonen from Top Chef Masters?!

I totally spaced that his restaurant is in Vegas, so I was stoked to hear that it was not only there, but that it was highly recommended by my new fellow foodies.

And that, my friends, is how not to do the Las Vegas pool scene.  But, it is how to meet cool people and find fantastic food.

Look for more about Vegas in the coming days…

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My winningest moments of late

<=== W. Stands for Winner. And I’m a real one.

Especially lately.

In fact, after you read about my winningest moments, I’m pretty sure you will be so jealous that you aren’t me, that you may stop reading this blog.

All together.

I’m prepared for that. It’s a risk I take in sharing.

Winning moment #1 – After a few glasses of wine at Fire & Wine night last week, the dishes and trash from our delicious brined chicken legs and mushroom risotto just didn’t seem all that important to clean up. Mr. Quirky (God love him – a statement I will make so often during this post, we should abbreviate it. GLH. ) removed food debris and stacked dishes for me .

The next morning as I was getting out of the shower, I heard an odd crunching noise. Thinking it could just be Gertie pacing around the bed deciding if she should jump in, I went into the bedroom. Gertie?

From downstairs, I heard her familiar collar jingle. Gertie is never downstairs in the morning alone. That was not a good sign.

She came running upstairs, after hearing my call.

Crunching on the remains of a chicken leg bone.

It was left in easy reach of doggy’s nose.

I went hysterical. Chicken bones can splinter and  kill dogs.

Mr. Quirky woke up and said, “Don’t worry. I’ll take her to my parents’ for the day. My mom can keep an eye on her.” (GLH.)

(Update: she is fine. She has had some, um, interesting poops, but it seems the chicken bone did not do any damage.)

Winning Moment #2

I was a little behind on the laundry.

And I had to rewash a load I left in the washer for a few too many days. (Stank.)

Mr. Quirky wanted to know if there were any clean socks in the house.*

Uh….

The next day, he asked again.

Uh…… (Followed by some excuses as to why I hadn’t done laundry.)

The third day he asked again because you know, he really didn’t want to wear another dirty pair of socks again.

(GLH.)

*Note- Mr. Q is happy to do laundry, but I insist because I’m a girl and I have many items of clothing that I don’t dry. It’s way too complicated to keep Mr. Q up-to-date on which items those are. So I do laundry in our household. Or rather, I don’t do laundry. I remain in a constant state of catch up on laundry in our household.

Winning moment #3

I farted at a party.

And not just an SBD fart I could walk away from.

A loud, while I was talking, there was no denying it was me fart.

I’m glad my friends like me so much.

Winning moment #4,5 &6 –

Last night, I left my cell phone at DD Girl’s boyfriend’s house. We had been there farting and celebrating his birthday with friends. (Ok, I was farting. See Winning moment #3.)

I discovered this when I went to look for my phone knowing Mr. Quirky had gone to Chipotle to pick up some lunch (GLH). I knew he might have questions about my very picky order. He’s pretty fantastic about delivering my picky food orders (GLH). But it was gone.

I went into a tailspin of panic. Where was it? When had I last seen it? Did my huge purse eat it? I dumped the contents of my purse out. No phone.

Crud.

Meanwhile, sure enough, Mr. Quirky was trying to call me. (Did I want chicken or the veggies in my bowl?)

I greeted him at the back door.

“My phone is missing.” “Why didn’t you answer your phone?”

We said these things at the same time. Then he searched my purse (“it never hurts to look again,” he told me) my car and our house. (GLH)

Luckily, a text to DD Girl from Mr. Quirky’s phone located my phone and all was well.

Thank goodness because I couldn’t imagine life without my precious i-phone.

“Do I have any clean socks yet?” Mr. Quirky asked as we were getting ready to run a few errands later on.

“Do you really need to wear socks to Game Stop and ice cream?” (I had stopped making excuses and just started redirecting blame.)

“I guess not,” he sulked. (GLH)

After a post-ice cream nap, I decided I should finally do some laundry. Mr. Quirky was in the shower, and I noticed his shorts were on the floor. Remembering that he was sweating pretty bad following the wiffle ball game at the farting birthday party last night, I thought he might appreciate me washing his shorts.

So, I threw them in my basket and headed downstairs.

It dawned on me briefly that turning on the washer might impact his shower, but I figured he was close to being done. (I’m awfully considerate, aren’t I?)

“Hey, did you take those shorts on the floor?” he asked when he got out of the shower.

“Yup!”

“Did you get the receipts out of the pocket?”

“Uh…”

And a few seconds later.

“Was my phone in the pocket?!!!!”

Clunk. (That was the sound of my heart hitting the floor.)

Sure enough, the phone was taking a spin in the machine.

There were many tears shed.

Mr. Quirky told me not to cry. It was just a phone. (GLH)

I cried some more.

And then I felt so guilty that I finished all the laundry and even haphazardly folded his underwear, socks and shirts on top of his dresser.

Because nothing says “honey, I’m sorry I washed your i-phone”  like a pile of haphazardly folded undies.

Especially when you post a picture of it on your blog.

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Fire & Wine: On a diet, but not diet food

I’m so over diet food.

Ok, sure I just wolfed down a burrito made of meatless meat, but I didn’t consider it “cooking.” It was just something I ate for dinner so that I could justify the tater tots I stole off my friend, Jimmy’s plate at lunch. But when it comes to food and real cooking, I don’t think you have to sacrifice to eat well. And I decided to prove it this week.

When I saw Elise at Simply Recipes Sea Scallops with Asparagus Sauce, I knew it would be the perfect Fire & Wine on-a-diet meal. Served with crusty whole wheat bread and a fresh  salad, it satisfied every craving — creamy, rich, decadent, crunchy, savory and tangy (salad dressing with fresh lemon.)

But the key to this dish is finding good scallops. Now here in the Midwest, that’s easier said than done. But I knew I could count on my friends at Hen House Market to find some good ones.

So I tweeted http://twitter.com/henhousemarket and within a few hours, I was deciding between U10 (10 scallops per pound) and U12 (12scallops per pound.) I went with the larger variety, because larger is always better.

[Insert “That’s What She Said” joke here.]

But seriously, just look at these scallops.

Another secret: my fabulous cast iron skillet. Getting it hot enough to create a crunchy sear gave these even more texture and body.

(Wow, that burrito I just ate seems really lame right now.)

I’m sorry, but I just had to throw in another picture of the scallops.

So the final secret is not crowding the pan. I cooked these in two batches and we each had three (and trust me, that was plenty.)

We had an extra special guest this week, so there were four of us total.

Now, I will admit, the asparagus sauce is very….green.

I think as a culture we are a little leery of green mushy foods.

But I know that anything Elise makes can’t be anything short of awesome.  But I did add a clove of garlic to it, because I love garlic and I just thought it would enhance the sauce.

I also subtracted a tablespoon of butter. So we could have a glass of wine with it. (duh.)

But that sauce was fantastic. And the crusty bread was put to use as a vessel for the sauce. All in all, a fantastic meal. Special thanks to DD Girl for footing the bill this time. She decided Fire & Wine would be her treat. I think it was a wise investment…

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