every summer CSA season starts again and inevitably my mom has tons of vegetables that need to be cooked. this led to the creation of a dish, which is more like a blueprint, that has become a tradition in the huizenga family – it’s called beans ‘n ‘greens ‘n rice.

simply put, you cook a bunch of vegetables you have lying around starting with the hardest ones that take longest to cook, throw in some beans, wilt in some greens at the last minute and serve the whole delicious mess over rice of some kind.

i try to decide in advance, based on the selection of veg, what family of spices/flavors i’ll be using – mexican, indian, thai/asian, american chili-style, etc…

so a couple nights ago i made a delicious faux-indian curry and a cucumber salad

i just love the creative part of cooking, especially when the flavors really come together 🙂

gotta go, richie made me breakfast!


Picture 075

Originally uploaded by barredowl2010

so the other day i did a huge amount of cooking because i had defrosted 5 lbs of ground beef and it had to be used.
i could have been smarter about it but whatever. i’m not perfect, big surprise.
anyway after i made an awesome tortilla taco casserole thing, and a big pile of taco meat on the side, i realized that i didn’t want to eat any of it!
does this ever happen to you? by the time you’re done planning, cooking and cleaning up after, you’re just not hungry anymore? It happens to me a lot and it’s really been killing my Thanksgivings for the last few years.
(although i should probably be thankful because it may be the only thing standing between me and the 300 lb mark. but maybe i do myself a disservice because i don’t think that i really have the binging impulse that many obese people have… on the other hand i am obese and its obviously because of something i’m doing…)

anyway i wanted French Toast. Usually when i want French Toast i have to wait until my next trip to a diner because we never have good bread for french toast in the house.
now that i have my own kitchen and i do all the grocery shopping, i could buy white bread or even texas toast bread all the time. but old habits die hard and i still just pick up something wheat-y with grains on the outside like my mom always insisted.
anyway i got lucky and we had some almost white “oat” bread so my french toast cravng could be sated immediately!
then i made a crucial misstep and decided to make stuffed french toast a la this everyday with rachael ray recipe (from her regular “recipes for kids” feature, i’m not too proud to make recipes designed for children!)

so here’s the thing, the recipe went fine, and it tasted pretty good BUT i just enjoyed the couple of plain slices i made with leftover egg mixture so much more!
i just find the cream cheese and jam “stuffing” to be intrusive to the purity of the golden soft creamy custardy bread which is the essence of french toast.

so the lesson was: sometimes simple or plain is better.



(my brtoher and my sist-erin-law are the key players, I was sound and camera crew, costume design and creative consultant)


first, a classic – pigs in blankets (crescent rolls from a can wrapped around nathan’s hot dogs – the new favorite hot dogs of the bear/owl household)

next, another classic – stuffed mushrooms (these were totally delish with hot pork sausage in the stuffing)

and bear’s crowning achievement for the evening – Fried Green Tomatoes!!!

they were REALLY damn good!

(oh yeah and then the next morning we had my version of one of my favorite measl… pancakes with strawberries!

Here are my notes from the latest ep:

(during the credits)
Aww, remember Manuel? Me, either…

What is this triumphant glorious march music they’re playing for the women? And Lisa donning her kerchief like it’s a helmet before she marches off to war? ha! the war against greasy hair!

finally, no more immunity!

oh they totally think they’re going to do Restaurant Wars! I feel kinda bad for them… and me… and all of us really since that would be way better than this wedding nonsense

early call – Lisa’s going down (turns out that was just wishful thinking)

OOOO! the relay race was the SHIT!

dude, monkfish is NARSTY lookin

Woohoo! Blaze!

If Nikki doesn’t know how to make mayo why is she doing it?

Supreming is HARD (although maybe they don’t think so considering they had a 10 year old doing it last week!)

What’s with Antonia’s red knife blade?

I don’t get the artichoke thing – they should have explained what they were supposed to do more clearly

turns out, monkfish filleting is pretty boring to watch

Dale is a good team player… until they LOSE!

honestly they could start every ep with a relay race and i’d be happy

HATE the wedding wars concept!!!

again – these are CHEFS! i don’t give two shits if they can cater! just like i don’t care if they can cook for a bland family palate on a budget!

(incidentally i saw a few eps from season 1 the other day and they were SO GOOD! the street food challenge was awesome, the Ted Allen dinner party, cooking for high rollers in Vegas…. that’s Chefing!)

Spike should shut up about how bride’s are all obsessive crazies… but i would have picked the groom too

P.S. I still don’t give a shit if any of them can do pastry!!!

If you know that you can’t execute crispy chicken in a catering/buffet setting then why are you letting Andrew try it, Antonia?

Hmm… following Nikki’s lead? not what I’d do team! Definitely switching my loser prediction to Nikki, sorry chica

HATE that they have to stay up all night just to create artificial drama – so stupid!

just a reminder – Lisa’s dirty and Dale is self-righteous

i’m bored

haha, everyone looks really ugly and old in the cheffesionals in this ep… bad skin, bad hair… turns out staying up all night may be good for the drama (although that’s debatable) but it’s awful for a visual medium like television! I do NOT want to see these people lookin all gross and then have to look at food and think about how it tastes!

ok people, chillax, its just one night, man up

the top chef kitchen has got to be in the Warehouse District/West Loop

Tom looks really good in this ep! (maybe its just in comparison to the ragtag chefs…)

(have you noticed how much time i’ve spent writing notes about how everyone look? says something about the ep dontcha think? take note producers! i didn’t even realize it until i started typing up these notes!)

i swear Gail has worn that dress in another ep in another season!

Wow, could they make it more obvious that the Groom’s team is going to lose? come ON!

LOVE the clearly overdubbed crunching noises when the judges are eating the bruschetta

Blaze rocks at that carving station!

oh the judges are disappointed with the not-crispy chicken? well Antonia knew the chicken would suck so why don’t you ask HER why they’re serving it?

hmm… the groom’s mom is named Mary Ann Marchetti (or something like that)…. I wonder…. YES this couple getting married who “own a restaurant” together – they OWN Galleria Marchetti!!! luck ducks! I would LOVE to have a wedding reception there! HOT!!!

Oh get over it, choosing the bride wasn’t SO courageous! big effing deal…

Hold the G**damn phone!


um… okay… no comment (i hope they have something really good over at Amuse-Biatch about that!)

Lisa is much more tolerable when she’s exhausted

well, you really can make butternut squash filling too sweet – i’ve had it before at excellent restaurants

I totally ❤ Spike! Damn, Dale!
I can’t believe Lisa didn’t get in on that!
either she’s just really tired or she just didn’t care because she knows she’s safe after making a really good cake

good idea Gail – Ego Wars – take note for next season producers!

OMG did you just se Spike’s purple-checked Keds?!!! HOT

Well I called it again – Ciao bella Nikki!

this is a lame camera-phone pic of a FABULOUS pasta dish i had at trattoria roma with Bear and his father a couple weekends ago – spaghetti, ham, peas, mushrooms, in a tomato cream sauce – YUM!
Bear had a really cool spinach and ricotta stuffed “Rolli” pasta dish
and Papa Bear had a really tasty chicken in a brandy cream sauce

For starters we had salads – i had my favorite caprese salad and i was stunned! where did they get such awesome tomatoes so early in the spring?!!
we also had the sampler appetizer platter which had really really good fried calamari, crisp and tender not a bit of chewiness, the grilled calamari was also really tasty and the mussels were outstanding!

We will definitely be returning!

Here are my belated notes on the most recent ep:

15 minutes?!!! damn

Art Smith gets a BIG what-EVER!

OK, Biesty is right, her fauxhawk is way better than Richard’s

Rice salad sounds good – makes sense, hot rice, crisp salad greens, yum

seafood pancakes – these are words that DO NOT go together well

really like Spike’s stuffed tomatoes

HATE Padma’s weird vesty thing
and is that a Seinfeld pirate shirt underneath?!

Richard says its a play on steak and tomatoes… um, to do a “play” on a theme doesn’t it have to be a traditional theme/combo? Steak & tomatoes? really?

Surprise, surprise, Dale & Richard in the top 3

I wish i could like Antonia but i just can’t – ever since she stabbed Valerie in the back, or threw her under the bus or whatever reality TV cliche you prefer…. i just don’t like her

HATE this challenge – i really really don’t care if these people can make a super-simple family meal on a tight budget! they’re professional chefs! who cares if they can cook for bland family palates on a budget?!!! i want to pay for excitement, for quality, not for chicken breasts!

HAHA! $10 at Whole Foods?!! HA! That is a JOKE! They must be getting a discount or something because SHIT! they don’t call it “Whole Paycheck” for nothin’

Dale is smart not to do chicken

cute kids, stupid hats

Spike’s kid WOULD be the one to get injured

Dale’s my fav

hmmm, fennel is risky…

Tom is pretty cute with the kids

Was that kid supreming a grapefruit?!! props kid, but that does not count as simple for the home cook, Chefs!

i will say that this is better than the fat camp challenge from season 2 because these kids know about cooking and food

Damn! Tom is seriously ADORABLE with these kids!

i’ve always liked cabbage

LOVE Spike, HATE capers
good call doin pasta though

Nikki done GOOD

oh bummer, Mark’s been getting the loser’s edit! and i just noticed!
(i am so good at predicting the losers of reality tv shows! maybe it’s my superpower!)

oh shut up about protein! people don’t really need that much and you get plenty in other ways – plus there are peanuts in it! one 3 oz serving of red meat has like half your daily protein so most people are totally overloading on protein anyway!

apples must have been on sale…

stephanie’s cous cous did seem weird

Antonia’s was bor-RING!

LOVE Richard – if he was into it i would take him home and make some babies – some little Blazes!

I suddenly LOVE Nikki and really really want her to win this!
her hair even looks normal in this ep
plus she actually made something reasonable and tasty – something a lame home cook like me could make!

maybe it’s my fennel prejudice but yuck yuck YUCK!

DAMN – why do i dislike Antonia so much? on a completely visceral level – when i see her i just think NO! Boo! Grrrrr….

Lisa is SO the new Tiffani (remember in the monkfish challenge when she was a total bitch about the kids palates and her total dismissal of their opinions?)

Stephanie is the new Casey

Tom has to say he likes Mark, but of course he is still going home so its pretty meaningless

i feel bad for Mark but he just couldn’t quite pull it together

previews: another wedding challenge – i bet they don’t use boxed cake mix!!! hehe…
OK, do they really HAVE to stay up all night? and if so, are they really going to bitch about it as much as the preview suggests? because that will be really annoying to watch. either pull an all-nighter and shut up about it, or snatch 5-6 hours of sleep and be pleasant!
there’s no whining in the kitchen! (at least there shouldn’t be!)