Tuesday, August 31, 2010

After Hours Pasta


Need a quick and easy recipe?  Look no further than After Hours Pasta, you can put this dish together with things just sitting in your fridge or shelf. 


 
1 lb penne pasta

6 ounces fat-free Italian dressing

1 large ripe, but firm tomato

1 medium green pepper

2 ribs celery

1 medium carrot

5 small green onions

3 ounces thinly sliced pancetta or bacon



Cook pasta according to package instructions, drain, and while still hot, pour Italian dressing over, toss lightly and set aside for pasta to absorb dressing. Chop vegetables and bacon and toss with pasta. Chill and serve.

Goes great with Red Zinfandel, a good one is Bonny Doon’s Cardinal Zin. It has a rich, chocolate-cherry flavor that is smooth and satisfying.



Cheers!
Michele

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Mistakes and Regrets

So I was watching Access Hollywood or TMZ (I can't remember, I just know it was mindless and that I had about a 20 minute time slot where I could watch something other than Fox or Wheel of Fortune (which I love but it plays awfully loud in my parents' home), because my dad had stepped away from the television--some of you may know that we are living with my parents until the escrow on our new house closes. Anyway digression over...) and this story comes on about the Miss Universe Pageant and how one of the contestants (I think it was Miss Phillipines who was picked to win) was asked what is the biggest mistake she'd ever made was. Her response to this was basically that she had never really made any mistakes and well you can only imagine how the media jumped all over that the following day. I sort of laughed at it and was like, "Come on. Of course you're perfect. Long legs, clear skin, no grey hairs or fne lines (YET) and definitely no cellulite." Whatever! Anyway, after my dialogue with the TV screen a.k.a. Miss Phillipines, I started thinking about that question. It's kind of an unfair question on the spot, don't you think? I mean, okay--everyone makes mistakes. Umm--would that be the ones I made in the last hour, today, last week, last year. I'm thinking I have so many I can't even process them that quickly on the spot. No way.

In fact, while driving into work today I started by breaking down my mistakes by decades and then I asked myself if mistakes were the same as regrets. I don't think so. Mistakes are kind of like accidents, right? Like when you have a fender bender (raising my hand here) or you buy generic brand macaroni n' cheese and not Kraft (let me tell you BIG mistake when you have a 9 year old who so knows the difference), or when you schedule a lunch with someone and then forget it and go the following day (that one was just plain stupidity). Or how about the night in college when one too many kamakazi shots were had and you wind up on your best guy friend's couch balling your eyes out because your boyfriend cheated on you, and then your bff holds your hair back while you barf in his toilet (he's still one of my best friends)--is that one a mistake or regret? I'm going with regret as my friend has a great memory.

And, I have a multitude of those from college days alone; regrets that is. Like when I called my room mate's parents to let them know that she was spiraling because she had a drug addiction (which I stupidly didn't realize until I found her drugs stashed in my underwear drawer one night when her boyfriend was coming over and she didn't want him to go searching through her things. Long, sad story but true). Anyway, that one back fired on me big time. She moved out (which was good) but I was stuck for the rent in the middle of my junior year (lucky I had a good job). But to top it off, I was accused of stealing her clothes and her parents refused to believe me. There are many, many college days mistakes and regrets. I might be able to write an entire book on those.

I don't even want to get into the mistakes you make as a parent--from infancy into aldulthood. Pretty much make those all day, every day and my kids have convinced me I'm not that smart. It seems as though every year past 13 they become far more intelligent and I become dumber, thus making mistakes right and left. I believe that this reverts back when they are about 25 when they will realize those mistakes I was making in their opinion, was really called "parenting," and that I wasn't that stupid afterall. I'm hoping anyway.

I may not be a perfect beauty queen, but damn it does appear I am human. I'll take the latter. Who needs all that pressure of perfection?

How about you? What is/was your biggest mistake/regret?

Cheers,
Michele

Monday, August 23, 2010

Inspiration

Everyone needs a little inspiration, so here is one of the many great recipes from my Wine Lover's Mystery series!


Goat Cheese and Apple-Smoked Bacon Tart




Tart Dough: 9-inch tart pan

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ Teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons cold sweet butter cut into small pieces

1 ½ tablespoons solid vegetable shortening

2 ½ to 3 tablespoons ice water

In a bowl combine flour, salt, butter, and shortening. Quickly work ingredients together with fingers until evenly ,ixed. Add 2 ½ tablespoons of water and gently work into the dough until it comes together. Form into a ball and let rest, covered in plastic wrap, in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface into a circle about 1/8 inch thick. Place into tart pan, trim the edges leaving a 1 inch margin so that you can fold it under, and crimp edges.

Bake at 425°, using buttered foil and beans or pie weights to keep the crust from risin. Bake 8-10 minutes until the edges are set and slightly brown.

Filling:

1 teaspoon cookin oil

5ounces diced apple-smoked bacon

3cups sliced red onion

1 tablespoon fresh choppe thyme

1 whole egg

1 yolk

6 ounces Chevre-style goat cheese

1 Pinch nutmeg

1 pinch salt

1 cup half and half

Cook bacon in 1 teaspoon oil until most of the fat has been rendered. Pour off excess fat and add onions. Cook slowly until soft and translucent, add thyme.

Mix eggs with goat cheese, nutmeg, and salt until it has a smooth consistency. Add half-and-half slowly as to prevent lumps, until it is all incorporated.

Spread bacon and onion mixture evenly throughout the tart. Pour on the goat cheese mixture and bake in 350° until custard is set, about 35-40 minutes. Let cool to room temperature before serving.

This tart goes good with Grgich Hills Chardonnay.  Cheers!  Michele

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I Need a Name for My Next Victim

So I have finally started breathing new energy into my writing career. Yes--I have been in a slump. I'll admit it. Life became insanely stressful and busy over this past year and instead of my usual 3 books a year, I have not written a manuscript for a year. Gulp--I said it--well sort of (I wrote it). Lucky for me, I did have some new books released into the world, (Patron and Happy Hour) but now it's time to get back to business.

My problem as a writer has always been that I have a bazillion ideas running through my head at any given time, and I want to write them ALL right at that moment. That becomes overwhelming because let's face it, it's an impossible task. Then, I lose my focus in the haze of overwhelm and I top it off with outside stress from just plain old life, and then all I want to do is go spend time with my horses because 1. they don't talk back., 2. they are very forgiving souls, 3. they don't judge. In other words, they are perfect for stress relief.

However, I simply can't spend all day, everyday with my four legged children. Well, I can't do that anyway because I have my day job to attend to, which is also one of the reasons I have put writing on the back burner. But, honestly I am an unhappy individual when not writing. Knowing that has meant that it is time to get back to work and write another book. I am recommitting myself as a writer to the next book, and here are the first two lines (a little sneak preview):

You know how happy endings are reserved for fairy tales and some unscrupulous massage parlors? Yeah well, Nikki Sands was starting to think this old adage might actually be true.

Now, I don't have the name of my murder victim just yet, so I thought I'd run a little contest: "I need a name contest." Here is what I can tell you about the victim: She's a nun. She's Italian. She's about 60 years old. If you have a name you'd like me to consider, post it here in the comment section. If I pick the name you come up with, I will obviously use that name for the victim in the book, credit you for it, and send you a copy of A Toast to Murder.

I figure it'll take me about a week to get to the murder scene, so I guess what that means is the contest closes a week from today. (next Weds).

Thanks and have a great day!

Cheers,
Michele