Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Judging A Soap by Its Cover

I'm a firm believer in the merit of judging stuff by it's graphic art. I've picked books this way my entire life, and I've only been burned once ("Scar Lover" - a terrible book by Harry Crews....but that may have had something to do with his friend Sean Penn recommending the book on the cover as well.*)
*This was before I realized Sean Penn was an idiot - I'll get to that some other time.

So, although I have not actually used any of these products, their graphic art is making me extremely happy, which is why I'm sharing them with you. They are all from the Pittsfield, MA based company BlueQ.

The "Plain & Thimble" beauty kit [top] uses 50's era references, and color cues not unlike my own banner (which shows they've got good taste).

The "Miso Pretty" line, while, um....stereotypically "exotic", makes me laugh (because, sometimes unabashed quasi-racist plays on words are funny).
"Miso Pretty" lip balm.

"Miso Pretty" beauty kit.

I'm probably the only person in the world that finds the artwork for "La-La Land" scary...but it creeps me out. In a good way.

Their "Lookin' Good for Jesus" and "Total Bitch" lines are a little sardonic even for me, but I do like this "Vinnie's" Vinyl Tampon Case.

They have many more lines and products (all reasonably priced and gift-y). Check them out, and if you happen to order something send me a review.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Chicken Apple Cheddar Empanadas

This is the kind of recipe I reserve for Sunday dinner.I need one whole day to recuperate from a week of work/ school/ running kids around/ chore catch-up before I can tackle an hours-long cooking session.

The great thing about frozen puff pastry is that you look fancy, but you really didn’t do anything that was tricky. Plus, kids DIE for puff pastry. For some reason it’s like a treat even when filled with three food groups.

2 medium chicken breasts cooked (grill, bake or sautee)
1 egg
1 package frozen puff pastry (contains 2 sheets)
2 diced granny smith apples*
1 diced red apple*
*(if you or your kids have a problem with cooked apple skins, peel first)
¼ cup minced red onion (optional/ can also substitute 3 minced garlic cloves)
1 ½ cups shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
2 Tb butter
Salt/ Pepper
1 Tb lemon juice
Roll of parchment (optional)
Let puff pastry thaw (20-40 minutes. Preheat oven to 375.
Sautee chopped apples and onions in butter until onions are cooked and apples are just soft. Dice the chicken breast. Toss diced chicken, apples, onions and shredded cheddar in a bowl with salt and pepper to taste and a squeeze of lemon juice. Set aside on the counter to cool.
Place first puff pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface and roll out to about twice the size that it started out. Puff pastry is not like pie or pizza dough – you can’t lump it together and re-roll, or patch, so roll carefully.
Use a glass to cut out circles. Use your geometry skills and maximize the surface area (remember – you can’t collect the scraps at the end and re-roll – the pastry won’t “puff” the same). Try to get 12 circles, each 2.5 inches in diameter. You can give the kids the scraps to make weirdly shaped pastries or haphazardly filled versions. Mine always insist on making a “just cheese” version. Repeat with second sheet.
Traditionally empanadas are half moon shaped (you fill one side and fold over) but this filling is a little chunkier, and you need a certain ratio of the ingredients in each empanada to get the correct flavor, so I’m using one circle on top and one on bottom.
Place a heap of filling in the center of each circle (leaving ¼ inch pastry around the edge showing). Use your finger or a pastry brush to wet the edge with warm water and top with second circle. Crimp edge with a fork.
Place empanadas on a parchment covered baking sheet. I use parchment for everything, for guaranteed non-sticking and easy clean up. I especially like how puff pastry bakes on it. If you’re not using parchment, place on ungreased cookie sheet.
They’re going to puff up twice their size, so leave 3 inches between each on the pan.
Whisk the egg with a tablespoon of water (this is an “egg wash”, which makes puff pastry golden and shiny) and brush the tops of each empanada.
Bake for 15 minutes at 375, or until golden (in Colorado it takes twice as long). Let cool ten minutes, then serve with sour cream and Dijon (or any mustard or dipping sauce you like). These make good appetizers/ finger party food, but you can serve with a salad as a main dish as well.
Makes 12.