Monday, October 15, 2012 Cadbury Screme Egg Chili



Back by popular demand - my clevage and chili \m/

Here's the basic recipe

2 jalapeno peppers
3 cloves garlic
1 onion

Rough chop them all, sweat them in olive oil in a dutch oven on the stove top.

Add spices - this is all according to your taste. And you'll need to reseason again later.

Chili, cumin, paprika, allspice, cinnamon, oragano, salt, pepper, cayenne.

1 pound ground turkey.

Throw the meat in the dutch oven and break it up as best you can while it cooks. Then add...

about 4 Tablespoons of tomato paste
3 cups of chicken stock
1 Cadbury Screme Egg

Cover and toss it in the oven at 250 for 2-3 hours. Check it every once in a while to be sure the moisture doesn't disappear and you can reseason at your will.

Close to the end add 1/2 cup of partly cooked macaroni (it'll finish cooking in the chili and soak up any extra moisture. Throw in some cubes of cheese and let them melt before serving...with fried bread.

And check out Hardline!

-HH

Friday, August 24, 2012 Stamford Baked Beans - the recipe

I had a vision of these a while back, but I've been so busy this month writing my 31 Plays in 31 Days (which you can follow on my other blog) I haven't had a chance to bring these into existence until yesterday.

Here they are - Stamford Baked Beans

Please feel free to share, make them in your world class restaurant, your hot dog joint, your food truck. Just be sure to give me, The Headbanging Hostess, credit - or I will write plays about what a jerk you are for the rest of eternity :)

Ha! Okay, here goes.

_________________________________________________


Stamford Baked Beans

1 1/2 cups dry beans (available in bulk at Fairway)
  -Black Turtle Beans
  -Adzuki Beans
  -Cannellini Beans
  -Pinto Beans
  -Red Kidney Beans

Soak the beans overnight then cook on the stove in the same water for two hours, replace water as needed.

For the Sauce...

1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup maple syrup (from the Stamford Museum and Nature Center if possible, if not then from CT)
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon chipotle
1/8 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch each of Ajwain seeds, smoked paprika, nutmeg, cayenne, allspice, cloves, ginger.

Combine in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer.

Also...

1 8oz. package of duck bacon
1 vidalia onion, diced

Cook bacon in pan only enough to render some fat, put aside. Cook onion in duck fat.

Combine beans, sauce and onion in a casserole dish or dutch oven, cover with bacon (and lid) and cook at 200-250 for at least 6 hours. Keep checking it, you may need to add more water, that's okay.


For pizza crust - take a 9 ounce portion of dough, stretch it out with your hands as best you can and then place on an oiled pizza pan. Push the dough out to the edges using your knuckles and/or fingertips. Coat with olive oil, dust with salt and bake at 450-500 for 10-15 minutes until desired doneness.

The pizza crust makes the perfect vessel for bringing the sweet and spicy beans to your mouth. Tonight, I put them on hot dogs :)

In my humble opinion, I have done a fantastic job creating a dish that represents my hometown. And don't forget to check out Stamford Baked Beans the play \m/

-HH

Thursday, August 2, 2012 Stamford Domination is MINE!!! \m/

Big thanks, huge ups, and high fives all around - Hey Stamford has declared my Twitter feed one of 31 to follow in Stamford. I'm in good company - OmNomCT, CT Bites, Bar Q...all the big names :) Oh, and also the Downtown Special Services District...and, I guess, you can say, there's a little beef between them and me. Tiny beef. Like veal. Or cow abortion. No need to go into details...but let's just say I'm not a fan of Alive at Five, which is their big event every summer. I used to love it - years ago when it was cool and relaxed and a good time; when it was free to go and you could bring a picnic and walk around with drinks that you could get from the bars to-go... Now you have to pay to get in, you have to buy their beer...actually I don't even know anymore because I haven't been in years. What began as a gift to the citizens of Stamford has become yet another way to make a ton of money - citizens be damned. Actually, I'm pretty sure it's mostly out of towners... Anyhoo... My big problem? No local music. They're all "national acts" that no one's heard of... well, no one old enough to drink has heard of...

So yesterday, when I began the 31 plays in 31 days project, which you can follow on my new blog, my first play was inspired by someone from the DSSD telling Pink Missile they were "too metal" for Alive at Five. True story.

I'm ashamed of my town for this.

Civic pride? I'm not feelin' it.

I'd rather go see the K.T. Murphy marching band than the latest reality TV singer. But I guess I'm alone in that. Or outnumbered.

Gee, that's never happened before...

And, anyway, it's well established that I'd rather stay home and eat my own cooking than go out and take my chances. I'm an old lady. Almost 40!

But I will embrace this distinction and challenge myself to keep up with the ol'twitter, and blogs, and Facebook...
Thank you, Hey Stamford! You rock!

-HH

PS - Alternative Control is also a kick-ass twitter feed \m/

Sunday, July 29, 2012 Perfecting a Peck of Pickle Biscuits

The other day I was trying to take a nap, but I couldn't get the idea of pickle biscuits out of my mind. So here they are. Not overly pickley in taste - but just a nice hint of it. I'm sure you could vary the type and amount of pickle to your liking.

The idea was somewhat born of the cucumber muffins I've been baking. I mean, if you can put a cucumber in a muffin why not a pickle in a biscuit? This is, thus far, the only recipe I've thought of that I couldn't find a recipe for on Google. But, never fear, my Slammin' Drop Biscuits recipe was ready to be altered. Here goes.

Pickle Biscuits

1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
---------------------------------
1/2 stick melted butter (cooled)
---------------------------------
3/4 cup equalish parts of well chopped pickle and sour cream
(Not very exact, I know. Know this, the sour cream is needed for the science of the recipe to work)

Mix your dry ingredients in a bowl.

Melt your butter and let it cool.

Put your pickles in the food processor or mini chopper and add the sour cream - blend until it looks like this...


Then add your cooled butter to the pickle/sour cream mix. The butter should clump up, this is how the recipe works.



Then you add the wet to the dry and mix until it is just incorporated - do not over mix! Then put clumps of dough on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake at 475 for 8-10 minutes. I got 5 biscuits out of this recipe.

We had them with kielbasa, peppers and onions - quite tasty if I do say so myself. Rock on! \m/


-HH

Saturday, June 16, 2012 Cucumber Chocolate Chip Muffins?

Yes. And they're good, too.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch each of cardamom and rosemary
...and for some reason here's a huge space...
____________________________________
1 egg, beaten
3/8 cup of milk
1/3 cup of bacon grease (you can use any fat you want. We had bacon last night so I saved the fat in the pan for muffins. That's the way my brain works sometimes.)
____________________________________

1 cup of grated cucumber (seeded and peeled then squeezed dry)
____________________________________

1/4 cup of chocolate chips

So, remember what the lines are for? Those indicate your mixing pattern. Mix all the dry ingredients in a big bowl. Mix the wet ingredients (minus the cucumber) in a separate bowl. Add wet to dry and stir a few times. Do not let it fully come together just yet, just a few strokes for now. Then add the cucumber in clumps and then stir a few more strokes. Then fold in the chocolate chips just as the batter all comes together. You don't want to over mix your muffins. Horrible, unspeakable things happen to muffins when you over mix them. Things like tunneling, when there's a big tunnel of air baked into the structure of the muffin - oh, the humanity!

Scoop into a lined cupcake pan - makes 12 muffins. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes and enjoy!

-HH

Friday, May 11, 2012 Melt Mobile Rocks Downtown Stamford

I finally got my medium-sized ass down to Melt Mobile today. Of course I forgot to take pictures, I'm one hell of a reviewer, huh?

Right off the bat - this is super cool for Stamford. I don't know how these chicks managed to swing their spot but it's a real nice location and it's easy to get to. I parked on the 3rd level of the mall (Greyrock and Main) and walked through the "Shoppes at Old Main," where there's no fucking shops, and there it was. As I walked up to the truck one of the girls started gushing about my puppy Apollo, telling me he's the cutest dog she's ever seen. As a matter of fact she's right, Apollo is the cutest puppy anyone will ever see. He, of course, isn't too fond of trucks (or recycling bins) so my husband walked him around the park (skillfully avoiding a pit bull puppy) and I ordered. One Caprese (fresh mozzarella, prosciutto di Parma, fire roasted peppers, Roma tomatoes and pesto aioli on calamata olive bread) and one Mademoiselle (here I go again, the ever competent reviewer. Not sure of the ingredients and I can't find it on the FB Page - gruyere, brie, prosciutto, arugula and currant jelly on pecan bread...something like that). The two sandwiches and a water came to 17 bucks, not bad, and it took about 7-8 minutes for them to come out.

We hopped back in the car and went to Cummings Park to eat. Don't do that with a puppy, broken glass everywhere. Anyway...

The Mademoiselle was the first one I tried, and back before Bobby Flay put his stamp on Melt Mobile's menu this was the one I HAD to have. It's a beautiful sandwich with a perfect buttery grilled crunch, but the first bite didn't do it for me. I'm not sure any of the other bites did, either. I liked the arugula, but I think the salty meat took over and didn't quite work with the bread choice. And the cheese was lost. I did get one good bite that must have had a glob of jelly and that really brought home a wild game flavor for some reason - that was good. But I'm not sure if this sandwich works for me. Maybe my mouth got confused, that's always a possibility.

Now the Caprese - ho, ho HO! That mother fucker is one damn good grilled cheese sammich! One bite of that and I was moaning with pleasure in the middle of Cummings Park. That's kinda funny, go back and read that again...moaning with pleasure in CUMMINGS park. Okay, back to the sammich - the roasted peppers...oh, the roasted peppers. Oh, oh, OH! They were amazeballs (as the kids say) the tomato the perfect temperature, the olive bread, oh, the olive bread. Oh, oh, OH! I was moaning with pleasure in Cummings Park, I tells you. Amazeballs.

So that's that. Def check out Melt Mobile. Not only are they great for Stamford but they're great for your tummy. Even though I wasn't a fan of the Mademoiselle I am a fan of these lovely young ladies and their business. Two-Tits Up for Melt Mobile! I will be going back (probably without the puppy) to try the dessert melts :) Mmm... Dessert melts... Oh, oh, OH!



-HH

P.S. - This is possibly the most fun I've ever had writing a review. I had a great afternoon with my hubby, my puppy and Melt Mobile. What else can I say? Go, go, GO!

Thursday, May 10, 2012 Kudos to Fairway

If you follow my Facebook page you'll know I have been on and off the fence about Fairway in recent weeks. Where I live, in Stamford, we've only got one real neighborhood supermarket - Grade A/Shop Rite. We have been going there since we moved here over 10 years ago. There are good and bad things about Grade A. The good? Well, they always have a ton of cashiers working, you rarely have to wait long to get checked out. They also don't use pink slime in their beef, another good. I can walk there, that's good. And... well, maybe that's it. The bad about Grade A? Dishonesty in the prices. When something scans at the wrong price you're supposed to get it for free...not the case at Grade A unless you start yelling. My husband figured that out. According to state law there should be a sign telling customers about this law...but theirs is missing. My gut tells me the FILTHY RICH family that owns it likes to take advantage of the clientele - lots of immigrants, WIC folks and people who just may not know what their rights are. And there's always a stray woman from Shippan (the FILTHY RICH section of the town) in her fur coat and Mercedes wandering among the WIC folks at the top of the month with their carts full of crap...that they load into an Escalade... Yeah, not a fun place to shop.

So Fairway opened last year some time...it's only a few minutes further away than Grade A. At first it seemed like a great store, then as time went on it seemed the prices snuck up. I don't know. I have trouble processing the prices of things sometimes. It hasn't quite taken the place of Grade A in my life. What's good about Fairway? Number one - The liquor store is RIGHT THERE! If you plan your parking spot right you can walk out of the store, into the liquor store and out to your car without any hassle. Fairway, of course, has a fancier selection than Grade A - you can buy British candy, any kind of cheese you can imagine, they have a thousand or so types of olive oil (some of them horrendously bitter, you can taste them all) and they have house made peanut butter. That is my current addiction.

They also have Wallaby yogurt, which I have learned to love. They have neat flavors like maple and pear. So when I drop my husband and Apollo off at the beach for a walk I rush down to Fairway and fill my basket with peanut butter, Wallaby yogurt and whatever else strikes my fancy. Imagine my surprise when I went in this week to discover the price on my yogurt had risen 20 cents! And was on sale 10 cents off! This immediately got my goat, so to speak. I actually ripped the sale sticker off the display to check the price. I was floored. Over twenty cents. Silly, I guess. But I had rationalised my trip with this yogurt. I was paying 75 cents a piece at Grade A for La Yogurt - 79 cents for organic yogurt at Fairway seemed like a good idea. But when it was 99 or 89 - suddenly I felt I was being played. And when I found I still had the receipts to prove the price difference I fired off an angry e-mail to Fairway. And I mentioned the cashiers there suck. They do. If there's any reason not to raise the minimum wage in Connecticut it's them. Slow as hell, they talk too much to the baggers...it's just not the right way to end the Fairway shopping experience.

Well, kudos to Fairway! They e-mailed me regarding the pricing - it seems I paid 79 cents during a special promotion, the usual price is 99 cents and the 89 cents was the on sale price. I give big props to anyone who answers my snotty e-mails. LOL. I'll admit it, I get snotty when I'm pissed. But the guy who answered me was very professional and he said he'd forward the e-mail to the store manager and that the problem with the cashiers was unacceptable. Truth be told I'd still pay the higher price for the yogurt, it's that good. And the peanut butter is my addiction, so I have no choice but to go to Fairway at least once a week.

So, what's the moral of this story? Speak up, I guess.

-HH

Friday, May 4, 2012 If You Haven't Noticed...

...I haven't been too focused on the blog. It's been months since I made a dinner party video and, quite frankly, I've lost some of my passion for food. Some of this can be blamed on my diet (still only 10 pounds gone), more this can be blamed on my puppy Apollo and the rest can be blamed on my being a playwright. The good news is I have a fantastic full-length play called Showers of Happiness. I'm currently working on the third draft. It takes place at a baby shower and, of course, food is a big part of the structure. For some reason all my full-lengths have food as a big part of the focus. I also recently became a member of a theatre workshop (Theatre Artists Workshop, to be exact) and I'm looking forward to the possibilities that brings. So, I'm back in the theatre world. I apologize, but that's gonna split my attention.

Yesterday was the National Day of Reason and I watched last year's video. I was appalled at how much I don't look like me from a year ago...at least I don't feel I look that good. So I went on a walk to the beach - I'm determined to get myself back into some sort of shape. This summer I'll be taking an actual fitness class! So I will keep you updated on my progress. I have 6 months before I turn 40. I'd like to be in good shape for the big day.

In other news, you can see me in Season 2 of Scenes from the Movies. Filmmaker Mike Field was kind enough to plug me in a great article on Milford Patch. The Alternative Control crew (me included) mentioned Mike when we did our radio interview last month. I love how we've all come together from different fields of entertainment (music, theatre, film). I dunno, I just think it's super cool.

As always you can check out my articles and others on Alternative Control. We've got a great thing going - people writing up thier musical influences. TWO mentions for Sugarland. Gotta love a metal blog with a taste for country. I did apply to sing with Jennifer Nettles on Duets (Pixie encouraged me) but I didn't get a call. That's fine, because I don't want to leave my baby :)

So the hiatus kinda continues. But rest assured, my creative talents are still going to good use. Plays are food for the soul. Especially my plays. LOL. I tend to think they're all brilliant. I wrote a short one the other day called The Tale of Yield and Tire - mark my words, that play is going places. As is Showers of Happiness. So stick with me, folks. The entertainment is gonna keep coming - in many forms. Some edible, some just mouthwatering.

-HH

Monday, April 23, 2012 Is It Ethical To Eat Meat? - My New York Times Essay Contest Submission

So the New York Times put out a call for essays on the subject of the ethics of eating meat. I, of course, jumped at the chance to make my case in a humorous yet slighty intelligent manner. My mother was once published by the Times. It looks like I will have to wait for that honor - I was not one of the six finalists. But here it is anyway. Enjoy \m/

Why is it ethical to eat meat? Well, you wouldn’t want to let it go to waste, would you? Waste is a sin and that makes wasting meat unethical. Why waste a perfectly good complete protein? I mean, you could combine some incomplete proteins, like rice and beans, for complementary proteins, but if the meat is already sitting there going to waste… I mean, what are you going to do with the meat, just throw it out so it rots in some landfill? You can’t compost it. Are you going to bury it? Like a proper burial in a cemetery? That’s kind of a waste of space, don’t you think? I suppose you could put it in the freezer but that’s kind of a waste of space, too. You could keep a ton of uneaten rice and beans there, instead.


Actually, you know who might be interested in eating some of those rice and beans? Some of those heritage breeds that are going extinct because of the rise of commercial farming; I bet they’d love some rice and beans and maybe that spot of land you were going to bury them in to live on. It’s quite a shame, the loss of the family homestead. Maybe people have become so far removed from food production they’ve forgotten how important domesticated animals are to agriculture and to our survival as a species. Not only do they provide meat, they provide the power to plow the fields and the nitrogen to fuel them. Pigs root, chickens scratch; every animal on the farm has a job, and most of them roast up nicely. And even Hunter/Gatherer societies ate meat; I’ve never heard of Gatherer/Gatherer societies, have you?


Gee, if every community committed to saving just one heritage breed we could save them all, asses to turkeys. How hard can it be? Get a few Narragansett turkeys or Midget Whites and throw them in a coop. Let them lay some eggs and sit on them (the turkeys, not you) and then let the things grow up for a bit. Once they reach a certain age you’ll have to check them for the breed standard. You don’t want to breed sub-par turkeys. The ones that don’t live up to the standard of the breed that your community is trying to preserve you cull. Cull is a nice way to say kill – or you could give them away as pets, not to be bred. But let’s say someone in your community wants a nice turkey dinner for some special occasion. They contact the butcher, the butcher contacts you, you both decide who will do the dirty work and for what price the butchered turkey will sell, the family gets their turkey dinner and money has exchanged hands – leaving you and the butcher able to feed your families. And someone gets a turkey feather tuffet to sit and eat their rice and beans on.


Yes, I skimmed over the killing part a bit. It’s not pleasant, but unpleasant doesn’t automatically mean unethical. Over thousands of years man has learned how to utilize every part of the animal he killed, to not let any of it go to waste. They even made pink slime somewhat edible. (Don’t worry, man will find another use for pink slime; scented candles, automobile fuel, something like that.) And rice and beans will never go out of style. But here we are with dozens of breeds of domesticated farm animals who may go extinct if we don’t make an effort to save them. And, yes, that also means eating their meat.

Sunday, April 22, 2012 Sophisticated Sunday Morning Cookies

I don't mean to infer that this particular Sunday morning is sophisticated. In fact it's 2:00 in the afternoon and I'm wearing wet sweats because I just washed my dog. The cookie, that's the sophisticated one. I had a little fun with my Kitchen Sink cookie recipe and replaced the butter with olive oil. I was out of baking soda so I used baking powder and changed the sugar from brown to white (remember the acid?)and I seasoned them with rosemary and lemon zest.

Here goes - (measurements are BY WEIGHT, get a postal scale)

4 oz olive oil
7 oz white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
-------------------
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 heaping Tablespoon of sour cream
-------------------
6 oz AP flour
1/8 teaspoon powdered rosemary
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
5 oz oats
1 Tablespoon milled flax seed
-------------------
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
zest of 1/2 a lemon

So the lines, again, are indicating your mixing. You don't even need a mixer for these, a rubber spatula will do. Mix the first three, then add the second three, then add the dry ingredients (that have been whisked together.) When the batter is almost all the way mixed add the chips and zest - this helps prevent over mixing. I used an ice cream scoop to portion the dough onto cookie trays - I got 17 cookies out of it. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.

These are really DDelicious. The rosemary isn't overpowering but it is present as you bite into the cookies crunchy exterior. The lemon is barely detectable, yet it helps the cookie come together in your mouth. If you eat them warm the dripping chocolate chips will remind you of old school cookie commercials but these are like no cookie you've ever had. Seriously good. Try them.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012 Update - Cafe Oo La La


Who remembers last August when a 92 year old guy drove into Cafe Oo La La? Remember the exciting investigative report by yours truly? Well, it looks like they installed a safety barrier to prevent the cars in the handicapped spaces from ending up inside the restaurant. Stellar work, Stamford. I'm proud.

-HH

Sunday, March 25, 2012 The Exciting Life of a Food Blogger

Being the Headbanging Hostess has brought a great amount of joy into my life. Along with my usual dinner parties with friends I have, indeed, expanded my circle of friends over the past two years to include some of Fairfield County's finest people. I like to refer to them as Fairfield County's Heavy Metal Elite, but they're more than that. In fact, it was that fateful e-mail to Arcane Malevolence that directly led to my participation in Saturday night's bachelorette party for the future Mrs. Ax-Shredding-DeVaney.

When the bachelorette was being planned I suggested Zaza Gastrobar in downtown Stamford. Good, central location, great food - what more could you ask for? Someone in the party called a few days ahead for a reservation but they told us they didn't take reservations but we could wait at the bar if we needed to. Well, when a member of our party tried to get us a table for 8 the hostess actually said "no" and that only 4 tables for 4 were available. So we ate at Remo's. And, while my Country Salad was good, it wasn't Lobster Polenta.

I was bummed, I'll admit it. And slightly pissed that I'd made a recommendation and it had failed me. I e-mailed them the next morning and I'm happy to say they actually e-mailed me back. So they get points for that. The hostess claimed she gave us a 2.5 hour wait time (which was not the case.) They also stated they're not meant to be a restaurant for big parties. So that's that. If we had been told that when we called for the reservation we would have made other plans. Maybe this is more of a miscommunication rather than flat-out bad customer service, but according to the other Google reviews I read it seems to be a recurring problem. The food there is really good - if you get to eat it. I'll leave it at that.

This is similar to our Darien Unsocial visit. It leaves me wondering what I should or could be doing different.

It plays into a new "drama/debate" regarding us lowly food bloggers vs. the real professional food writers. Ugh. Apparently CT Magazine has an article in their April issue putting food bloggers down - we're not trained, we're not pros, blah, blah, bullshit. OmNomCT had a very well written reply. Mine may not be so nice.

First of all, get off your high horse. It's 2012 - everyone has the ability to write and self-publish anything they want to on the web. We're still (pretty much) a free country. If we suck as writers or food critics people won't read us, it's as simple as that. And training? What is that about? I've been eating for 39 years! And, yes, as a matter of fact I have worked in the industry and I do have culinary training under my belt. But - here's the kicker - before anything else I'm an entertainer. I came to this after living decades of my life upon the stage. I've written plays that have been performed across the country. Theatre, like writing, is about communication. People getting together to share a communal experience...kinda like EATING! Pardon me, my inner drama queen is coming out. No one should make sweeping generalizations about other "groups" of people, it's unfair - unless it's for comic affect, of course.

I went to a Connecticut Press Club luncheon at about a year ago about food writing. The panel was very esteemed, all from serious food publications, and they talked to us about the business. One woman, who had been a food writer for longer than most of us have been alive, went over the proper "etiquette" for food writers, which included calling ahead and letting them know you were coming, calling the chef after with questions and really trying hard not to give a negative review because people's livelihoods depended on your words. I can understand that, and you have advertisers to answer to, as well. But, for me, I think it's silly to call up a restaurant and say "Hi! I'm the Headbanging Hostess and I'm coming to your restaurant tonight." And besides the silly factor, I want to be treated as a regular customer. The only way to give an honest (yet entertaining) review is to experience it the way your reader will - as just another customer. Believe me, I've considered getting a button that says "food blogger" as well. When my table goes unnoticed for 13 minutes I feel I should have warned them as I head home to my computer. After that unsocial experience I seriously considered at least tagging Zaza and letting them know we were coming. I honestly forgot to do it, and it may not have mattered.

Once again, it's 2012. I expect restaurants to be connected. Take Station Eats. They're pretty savvy guys, they know exactly how to use social media. They always follow up a post or a tag with a thank you and they're just so nice and down to earth that you want to spend your money there. That's the mark of a fantastic business.

So, what the hell am I going on about. I don't know, at this point I've lost track of my thought process.

Things I know -

- Zaza is not for large parties.
- People always like to think they're superior to other people.
- Station Eats = Good

Things I'm not sure about -

- Calling ahead to let restaurants know the Headbanging Hostess is coming?
- If I see someone walking towards me dressed as a clown can I assume they're a clown?
- Do people take me seriously?

-HH

Wednesday, March 14, 2012 Brie Cheesecake with a Girl Scout Cookie Crust


I took one for the team this year and bought one box each of the new Girl Scout Cookies. The Savannah Smiles are simply stupendous. Crisp and tart with a melt in your mouth powdered sugar finish. The cranberry ones, Thank U Berry Much, were okay. Maybe I should have waited a day after the lemon one before trying one of these. A good cookie but it lacks the pizazz you would expect from a cookie containing a tart cranberry treat. And it could have used more of them. The tiny bits barely made an impact.

But, I wanted to make something using the cookies. All hopes of a savory dish like last year's Samoas Shrimp were quickly dashed. Neither cookie seemed right for what I had in mind - a cranberry crumble topped Shepard's pie and a lemon crusted chicken or fish. Both were way too sweet, what was I thinking? So my mind went to cheesecake.


Brie Cheesecake

1/2 pound of triple creme brie, softened and rind removed

1/2 pound of cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup vanilla sugar (plain sugar is fine, add vanilla extract after the egg)

1 egg

Mix cheeses and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Add egg and mix until smooth.




Girl Scout Cookie Crust

8 Thank U Berry Much cookies

4 Savannah Smiles cookies

3 Tablespoons of melted butter


Put cookies in food processor and blend until they're crumbs. Add melted butter and mix. Put nine liners in a cupcake pan and fill each cup with two and a half teaspoons of cookie mixture. Press down into the bottoms of the cups with your fingers.



Using an ice cream scoop fill each cup with cheesecake mixture. I used two scoops per cupcake.

Bake in a hot water bath (I used a roasting pan) at 350 for approximately 25 minutes.



Chill before eating (which I didn't do - I ate it lukewarm and it was DDelicious \m/)

The cookies are actually the star here - the cranberry and lemon flavors dance around your tongue as you consume every creamy, sweet, earthy, smooth, somewhat savory bite of the brie cheesecake. Okay, maybe the cheesecake is the star. It has a real nice finish that doesn't leave an overly sweet "I'm going into a diabetic coma because this dessert was pure sugar" feeling in your mouth.

Try these - that's all I'm going to say. Thanks Girl Scouts! You Rock \m/

-HH

Tuesday, March 13, 2012 The Food Review That Never Was or Unsocial Darien

It was my plan to experience Darien Social tonight. I read their OmNomCT preview (OOPS, and earlier version of this post said review - it was a preveiw), I studied the menu while salivating on my keyboard. I knew I wanted shrimp and grits. But, alas, it was not meant to be.

Thirteen minutes we sat at our table with no service. I know this because we stopped at CVS to pick up a prescription on the way in - it was time stamped 4:50. By the time we left after being ignored for so long it was 5:05. So that's actually 15 minutes, but let's assume 2 minutes were spent walking the 50 feet between CVS and the restaurant and finding a hostess to seat us.

You read that right. We had to find the hostess to seat us. In fact, there's a sign when you go in the front door that directs you to walk to the back, wave to the chef on your way, and find a hostess. When we found her she didn't have menus so we stood there while she went into the main dining room to get them. Then she sat us near the window by the bar. Not sure why - we passed a bunch of empty tables and booths on the way. "These are my favorite tables" she said. So there we sat...for 13 minutes. We read the menu, my husband got up to look at the vodka selection and he was unnoticed by the staff. He sat back down, we waited, nobody brought us water, he expressed his displeasure, still no one acknowledged us, we waited a few more minutes and that was it. We were out of there.

On the way out my husband turned to the busboy and told him why we were leaving and he just said “oh.”

Oh?

So we went to The Goose one block down. We told them what happened and they were very nice to us. They even brought us water. The restaurant was practically empty but we still got great service. Crazy, huh? The beet and goat cheese salad just plain rocked. Red and yellow beets with baby spinach leaves dressed in passion fruit dressing (passion fruit or pomegranate, but I think it’s passion fruit) with beautifully crisp fried goat cheese patties that really should come with everything in life. Dentist with beautifully crisp fried goat cheese patties? I’m there! DMV with goat cheese? Sign me up. I might even consider a stint in the Middle East if crisp fried goat cheese was in the mess hall. Love that salad, have I made the point?

Halfway through our meal the other couple in the restaurant started having a fight. They were raising their voices, him more then her, and totally oblivious to the fact that they were in public. At that point my husband and I just busted out laughing. For the first time in two weeks we get one hour out of the house to enjoy ourselves without the puppy and this is what happens. You just gotta laugh. Or you’ll go nuts.

So the Goose wins! And Swizzles because we hit it on the way home. Fruity pebbles on plain yogurt rock! Ha. That’s punny. \m/

-HH

UPDATE - A comment to the Darien Social Facebook page was deleted. And an email sent to them through their website has gone unanswered. So that's that.

Thursday, March 8, 2012 For Shame...

I like to rant about what we feed our children in school. And by our children I mean your children because I don't have any human kids. In fact, I also like to rant about what you feed your children at home because, frankly, home cooking seems to be a lost art and the people who suffer that loss are the kids. Yeah, yeah, I know you can't cook every meal from scratch. But you know you need to do better. But that's not what this post is about.

Have you heard about the 7 million pounds of "pink slime" the feds are buying to feed your kids? You can't make this shit up. Here we are with a First Lady who claims to care about what you and your kids eat and the government is buying inedible, ammonia treated garbage to feed your kids! Talk about a reason to home school!

Now, I think it's kinda funny. I read a lot of articles about food and school lunch programs. It seems when the point of an article is to improve the nutritional value of the school lunch the writer highlights the lack of vegetables, lack of color (everything is a deep fried beige) and the reliance on processed, canned and otherwise unappetizing food.

But when the purpose of the article is to expand the school lunch program to include breakfast, and even dinner, then the writer will stress the importance of good nutrition and claim the school is providing proper nutrition for children who otherwise wouldn't get fed at home.

Um. Which one is it?

Never mind the fact that people who can't feed their children really shouldn't have had them in the first place. That opens up a can of worms that'll keep everyone arguing 'till the cows come home. The cows being the fat children who are fed crappy food at school and never go play outside. Either school lunch is good or it's not. And I think, if the feds are considering buying 7 million pounds of pink slime to feed the kids, it's not good. It's not good at all.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. And I'll keep saying it until someone fucking listens. Make lunch part of the curriculum! There's no reason every school can't have a garden. There's no reason every school can't have a compost heap. Aquaculture! Combining hydroponics and agriculture to grow veggies using fish.

Aquaponic greenhouse yields food for business: wtnh.com

If that isn't the coolest thing around I don't know what is. Can you imagine the powerful effect of seeing science at work and putting it into your belly? You can teach history through food. The possibilities are endless. Without food we have nothing! It's time we acknowledged that and passed it onto our children. And by our children I mean your children.

-HH

Sign the petition to get the pink slime off the spork.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012 I'm Back and There's Less of Me \m/

At my last weigh in I was down 10 pounds since starting my diet. That was about a week ago. Since getting this adorable puppy 2 1/2 weeks ago I haven't had much "me time." Yes, even weighing myself in the morning can prove to be an issue. So can showering, going to the bathroom by myself and (of course) cooking.

I've made a few batches of my Kitchen Sink Cookies. They're a great way to sneak a little more fiber (and some chocolate) into my diet. Yesterday's batch had Pretzel M&M's! Nummy.

But, to continue on my high fiber diet that has me shedding the pounds with little effort, I'm eating Smart Taste pasta, whole grain toast with peanut butter, Kashi cereal, yogurt and one meal a day. That one meal always has veggies, sometimes brown rice or barley. Sometimes it's vegetarian and sometimes there's chicken, pork, beef or fish. Sometimes I'll eat cheese, but that's a real treat. My diet has drastically changed from 6 months ago. Three years ago I ate like this all the time. And when I'm ready I'll be getting those clothes out of storage and wearing them. 15 more pounds to reach my old "I'm an actress" weight of 105.

Wish me luck.

I have managed to treat myself a few times. The first week Apollo was here my neighbor puppy sat so we could get some time to ourselves. Off we went to Zaza Gastrobar in downtown Stamford which OmNomCT had raved about. Reading their review I just had to have that lobster polenta, and the rest of the menu looked equally good. I wish I could say I took pictures, but I had relaxation on the mind that night. The restaurant is just beautiful - my color scheme with black and red. The chandeliers alone are worth the trip. The place is pretty hip, something I try to stay away from usually. I can't stand when people go somewhere to be seen. And it's not just restaurants, it's outdoor Shakespeare, too. But that's just me and I'm strange. The music at Zaza was horrendous and too loud, another sign of the tragically hip, but no one is perfect and I expected the food would be the music for my ears. It was.

We started off with the smoked mozzerela plate - served with olives, roasted peppers, grilled eggplant and prochuitto it was the perfect way to start the meal. They have a nice selection of fresh mozz as well, I'll have to try another one one my next visit. The lobster polenta was more amazing than I expected. It's what the lobster mac-n-cheese at Gray Goose in Southport wants to be. (Talk about people wanting to be seen. I actually saw a guy in kakis and a blue blazer with the gold buttons. The atmosphere was annoying and the food was nothing to write about. So I'll stop,) Zaza actually delivers on taste. My other dish, roasted beets with fennel, was simple stupendous. I expected the lobster polenta to rock, but this dish with it's perfectly roasted beets smothered in gorgonzola, walnuts and balsamic was - To. Die. For. I can see myself stopping by on a hot summer day after walking downtown to get a plate of beets to cool my soul. Two Tits Up for Zaza Gastobar.

Speaking of hot summer days Station Eats has opened up their Stamford location. Along with the usual DDelicious Station Eats fare they have ALCOHOLIC MILKSHAKES! Somehow they knew that the only way I can drink alcohol is when it's mixed with ice cream. I'll be stopping in for a shake and stumbling back to the Cove on numerous occasions this summer. If you happen to be driving by please don't run me over.

And last but not least, last night I went to Rico's. Ahhh AHHH! Rico's is located in a section of Stamford that most people don't go to. I'll leave out any mention of bad neighborhoods (or will I?) and focus on the food. (Since they're opening a new restaurant in Newfield Green you won't have to worry about your safety.) The Selleck Street location was empty - but the numerous delivery vehicles in the parking lot told the story. These guys have made a killing doing what Colony doesn't do. Ha! Gotta love the American entrepreneurial spirit - especially when it comes with fan-fucking-tastic pizza. Service was horrendously slow - considering we were the only people in the place. The waiter was a nice young man who was extremely polite, a rarity in Stamford, but it took at least 45 minutes for our pizzas to come out. Worth the wait? Absolutely. These guys execute the trademark pie a thousand times better than the original. Thin crispy crust, the right amount of crisped up cheese on the rim, the sauce is seasoned perfectly. I'm eating a cold slice right now for breakfast and I couldn't be happier. Two Tits Up for Rico's.

And now, to wrap up this lengthy post, a video of my boy :)



-HH

Tuesday, February 21, 2012 Hi, Atus! Nice to meet you!

Between my diet and my new puppy I have completely lost all interest in food. Yesterday I ate one taco for dinner and was stuffed. This is good for my waistline, bad for my blog.

So what's going to happen to the Headbanging Hostess? I have no idea. Apollo has been home for 4 days - we are sleep deprived, unable to tend to our own personal hygiene and the house looks like a bomb dropped on it. It was so clean...

I just finished reading a book called The Believing Brain. Keep an eye on Alternative Control for my review. I'm already itching to go to the library for a new book. I'm hoping to replace eating with reading and expanding my brain power instead of my ass.

I have a full-length play to finish writing. I also have a play in production now in Fairfield. And I have this puppy to raise.

So let's call it a hiatus. I'll be back - in a new form (both physically and mentally) until then... Rock on!

-HH

Thursday, February 16, 2012 Kitchen Sink Cookies


The other day I made oatmeal raisin cookies with almost no oatmeal and absolutely no raisins. Neat, huh? This is one of the joys of having gone to culinary school. Understanding recipes and how they work allows you the freedom of changing them around, if need be, and you won't end up with an inedible product.

Professional baking recipes are done by weight, not volume. Nothing about cups in a professional recipe. At different times of the year that cup of flour is going to have different weights, never mind how densely you pack the cup. If you weigh the ingredients you'll end up with a more consistent cookie (or pie crust, cake, bread, etc.)

So here we go. This is basically the recipe. I'll explain the science as best I can, including viable substitutions. You'll notice some of the smaller amounts (baking soda, cinnamon) are in teaspoons. Not everyone has a scale that can measure such small amounts. For the larger amounts a postal scale does the trick. It's worth the investment if you're going to be baking a lot.

Kitchen Sink Cookie Formula

4 oz Butter
7 oz brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
-----------------------
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon sour cream
-----------------------
6 oz AP flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
5 oz oats
1 Tablespoon milled flax seed
-----------------------
4 oz raisins


Okay, so let's first talk about those lines. Those indicate your mixing pattern. The first ingredients are creamed together in a blender - keep mixing until it looks like a uniform cream. Starting off with room temperature butter is key.

Add your egg and mix it in until the mixture is again uniform. Add your vanilla and sour cream and mix in.

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl before adding to the dry ingredients. Once it is all combined add the raisins.

Bake at 350 until done, this depends on the size of your cookie. Mine were slightly less than the size of my palm and they took 20-25 minutes.


Now! Onto the fun stuff and the science - they go hand in hand.

The butter is obviously the fat in the recipe. You can substitute apple sauce for butter if you're watching your calories. You can do half and half and get the taste of butter and half of the fat. The pectin in the apple sauce also helps keep your cookies together. And you can always substitute another fat - shortening, oil, bacon fat. Go ahead.

Brown sugar is what we call an acid (along with maple syrup, honey). The molasses in the sugar reacts with the baking soda to provide a little lift in your cookie. If you don't have brown sugar you can do half white sugar and half molasses, maple syrup or honey. If you were to use plain white sugar you'd need to use baking powder, which contains an added acid. And you'd need to use more of it - one teaspoon of soda is roughly equal to three teaspoons of powder. But why bother? Brown sugar gives the cookies a fantastic taste.

Sour cream is another acid (as is buttermilk, yogurt) that will react with the baking soda. I've started replacing milk in recipes with sour cream. I made corn bread with sour cream... Mmm, mmm, mmm. That'll have to be a future post.

As for the oats in the recipe, that's where I came up short. I used what little oats I had in combination with the crumbs from the bottom of my Kashi cereals to make up the 4 oz. I crushed the cereal a little just to break up any big chunks. You can use steel cut oats, cereal, granola. Have a little fun.

And the raisins...the raisins that I didn't have. I used chocolate chunks from a hot chocolate kit, sliced almonds and pecans. Hence the kitchen sink reference. Go nuts with this one, no pun intended. Dried fruit, chips, nuts, bacon! Just try it!


If you follow the ratios and principles of the recipe you're almost guaranteed not to fail. I say almost because we all make mistakes - and even if you screw it up the ingredients only cost a couple bucks.

So go ahead and try it! What's the worst thing that can happen?

-HH

Thursday, February 9, 2012 Holier Than Thou Vegetarians and the People They Drive Crazy (i.e. Me)


I wrote this sometime last week and wasn't sure if I should post it. It's a little angry and I don't want to offend my friends that are vegan. But today, I saw this image on good old Facbook. It's a German man who was married to a Jewish woman and had spent two years in Hitler's Camps for marrying her. He is refusing to saulte Hitler. Someone commented "That's how I feel being a vegan. I see everyone saluting the animal holocaust but I refuse." So, this post is for you buddy.

I just read this article by some guy in England I’ve never even heard of and my blood is boiling. Why? Because he’s up there on his pedestal preaching about how superior he is because he doesn’t eat meat.

Bully for you, dude.

Look, I know people need to read this stuff. I know it helps to educate people and to get a dialogue going and it helps to change people’s minds. But your plan for the future is flawed. What happens to all the animals when we stop eating them? Are we going to keep purebred flocks, herds and gaggles of umpteen varieties of heritage livestock to keep their history alive for future generations? Or do we just let them all die; all these chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks, cows, pigs, rabbits and sheep that people have bred over hundreds if not thousands of years. Ever heard of a feather bed? That’s what people slept on before the Bob-o-Pedic. Feathers were a blissful by-product of Sunday dinner. They didn’t go to waste, they were used! Cow hides made leather for saddles and shoes. Pig skins made Superbowl Sunday possible.

Interdependence. Fantastic word, isn’t it? Animals depending on a farmer to feed them, the farmer growing the food to feed them (and himself) in soil fertilized by (you guessed it) the animals - of course the animals are also bred for their young, their milk, their eggs and eventually killed for dinner, but that’s the circle of life! Certainly not the wheel of fortune, but that’s what people have done to animals for thousands of years. That's partly why we're still here.

When you do a google search on the “absurdity of veganism” this lovely little article is one of the first to pop up. Simply delightful in its absurdity, it makes me laugh and cringe and yell at the monitor all at once. This fellow seems to think we can take all the animals that will be out of jobs and put them in reservations where they will not be allowed to breed until they eventually die out because we don’t need them anyway. What a fabulous example of stewardship. Really, I can see why he thinks he’s so superior to the rest of us. Because he’s out of his fucking mind!

*Disclaimer – I feel it’s necessary for me to say that I do have vegetarian and vegan friends. I also have black friends, but I don’t think there’s any overlap. My point is I don’t have a problem with vegetarianism or veganism; I have a problem with folks who think they are better than me because of what they don’t eat. Especially when their ideals are fundamentally flawed – if you’re going to ignore the history of agriculture and the “circle of life” because it’s unpleasant then you’re not making a considered argument.


People have been eating animals since the dawn of time. They’ve also been using up every last bit, preventing any bit of that animal from going to waste. Shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, make-up; medicines, medical supplies, medical research; anti-freeze, plastics, rubber; instrument strings! Do vegans not listen to music? Wash? Go to the hospital when they’re sick? Drive a car to get there?

Do I even need to get into the fertilization of the fields? Would you not eat that carrot if it were grown in cow poop?

Can we eat less animals? Of course! Do we need to treat them better? Abso-friggin-lutely. No doubt our food system is broken, out of whack. Personally I’d like to see it all taken out of the hands of multi-national corporations and put back in the hands of the family farmer. Everyone should have a homestead. But I’m not insane enough to think that will ever happen, not to that extreme. Well, maybe when the cows on the reservations all die…

-HH

Wednesday, February 1, 2012 One Month and Seven Pounds, Gone

The muffin top is almost gone, seven pounds are gone, I look pretty damn good if I do say so myself. What's my secret? I don't have a secret. If you've been reading my blog you'd know, I'M JUST EATING HEALTHY!

It's not called "healthy eating" to annoy you, it actually healthy.

High fiber, whole grain, fruits, veggies - these foods have replaced candy, ice cream, junk, fried food, bacon, big hunks of meat and cheese. I've eaten one slice of pizza since the New Year and quite frankly it stunk. When your body grows accustomed to real good food it won't be happy when you fill it with crap.

Do you know how it feels to walk uphill carrying your groceries and not be out of breath? I do!

Unless you've been living under a rock since the 1980's you really have no excuse for not knowing how to eat healthy. Me too, I'm just as guilty. I joyfully spent two years learning how to cook and eat. But I made a conscious choice to do so. I knew I was gaining weight. I knew I wasn't feeling as healthy as I used to - but I didn't care. I have no one to blame but myself. I ate all my food with a side of apathy. Bad on me, yo.

But one month into this, I am fueled by my success. I even went out and bought a new shirt, size small.

Is it strict? Yes. Can it be done? Yes. Is it worth it? YES!

This week I've eaten chili, roasted chicken, corn bread stuffing...and it's only Thursday. I've also eaten a few bowls of Kashi, some fruit, high fiber pasta salad and frozen Whips yogurt. The longer you stick with it the easier it gets.

Stay tuned, my weight has no where to go but down!

-HH

Wednesday, January 25, 2012 Getting Ready For Apollo!


This past weekend we braved the snow to meet our puppy Apollo for the first time. At 4 weeks old he is a tiny little thing! He and his sister Star are just the sweetest little things I've ever encountered.

Long story shortened, the breeder was Nutmeg's breeder - our dearly departed bunny. When he died I contacted her looking for another bunny, but as time went on we realized no bunny could replace our Nutmeg. Apparently my follow-up e-mail expressing our love for Nutmeg, and our desire to get a puppy that was somewhat related to him, won the breeder over and (because we were previous customers) we were moved to the top of the list. So, yes, Nutmeg is still dictating our lives from beyond the grave - or beyond the ash box.

Apollo is the god of music, poetry and healing (among many other things) and once the name popped into my head it was hard to think of another. I know, it's a big name for a little dog, but I know he will grow into it. I have big plans for this little puppy. I'd love for him to be a therapy dog. That's my wish. I just think it would be great to spread the love and bring smiles to the faces of folks in nursing homes. But the most important therapy will be healing us. And we're ready!

We've moved around our living room furniture to make room for him to play. We're overhauling the entire house, cleaning and organizing every bit making it "puppy-proof."


And, as you can see, Apollo already has a bunch of toys and such thanks to his aunts and uncles :) It seems we've got a bit of a brown and blue color scheme going. We bought a brown and blue baby blanket and slept with it so he could get our scent. And I've already picked out a nice brown and light blue spotted chair for kids that will fit right in with the rest of my living room.

Oh yeah. My brain is infected.

By the way, notice the stars on the collar? For his sister Star.

Infected I tells ya.

-HH

Tuesday, January 24, 2012 Diet Update - Three Weeks In


Five pounds of me are gone. Bye, bye! I stood on the scale three times trying to get it to tell me I've lost six pounds, but five it is. Not bad for just over three weeks on my diet.

People keep asking me what my weight-loss goal is, and while I'd love to be back at my fighting weight of 105, I'll settle for 110. It's more about clothes fitting me, getting my flat tummy back and being able to look down and see certain parts of my body... You know how it is.

I've been doing the high fiber thing. Some of the products that are helping me in my quest are...

Pepperidge Farm Whole Grain Oatmeal Bread - throw a slice in the toaster and smear it with some natural peanut butter (no added sugars!) or some apple butter (also no added sugars) and it fills me up pretty well and gives me the sweetness I'm craving.

Ronzoni Smart Taste Pasta - I've plugged this stuff on numerous occasions. Love it! Tastes just like regular pasta but with five grams of fiber in every two ounce serving. We had some friends over for a roast duck/chicken dinner and you can bet the leftovers found themselves in a tasty pasta salad brimming with chopped veggies like carrots and celery and peppers, even a few chopped gourmet olives. The trick with pasta salad is keeping the dressing light. Use olive oil, of course, but don't drown it. You can blend some olive oil with red wine vinegar and chopped onion in a mini-blender with some salt, pepper and fresh herbs to make a nice dressing that'll keep your salad moist without all the crap from commercial dressings.

Kashi - Kashi, kashi, kashi. GoLean, baby, they ain't lying. Their cereals can have as much as ten grams of fiber in a serving. Mixing it with yogurt makes a nice crunchy/sweet snack reminiscent of my skinny days. They even make granola bars with four grams of fiber!

I'm getting back into the eating habits of my skinny days, that's what it is. Back then I was fueled by my desire to be a famous actress, now I just want to see my gig.

My metabolism isn't what it used to be, so I've pretty much cut out the candy, sweets, junk food and ice cream I used to be able to get away with eating. I'm not going to say I don't miss it, sometimes at night I crave caramel and/or Cheetos, but I'm able to fight off the urge because I already feel the benefits of eating right. I'm not winded when I walk uphill, I don't feel big folds of fat in my back when I'm doin' the peaceful warrior, I LOOK GOOD! Eating like this isn't completely foreign to me, I guess I have that advantage.



And, of course, once a day I have a really good meal. I'm seriously piling the veggies on my plate. As I learned months ago, 50% of your plate should be fruits and veggies. Last nights beef roast dinner was cooked with red skinned and sweet potatoes flavored with apples and onions and accompanied by cauliflower and brussle sprouts roasted with red peppers and duck stock. Does that sound like diet food?
-HH

Monday, January 23, 2012 The Little Miss Project Book

Who remembers my Little Miss Project video? It's hard to believe it's been a year since Sugarland chose to share my video with their fans and my YouTube views blew up into the thousands.

The creator of the original Little Miss Project video, Erica Jean Bjork, has now compiled the Little Miss Project Book and I am proud to say I have a recipe included in the book taking up two shiny full color pages. Please order a copy of the book for your coffee table. Five dollars from every purchase goes to one of Sugarland's favorite charities.

Check out the Little Miss Project blog post for a nice preview of the book.

And, on a somewhat unrelated note, sign up for my classes at Trumbull Continuing Education - Dinner for Two and Dinner Parties Made Easy.

Big thanks to everyone for supporting me these past few years and making accomplishments like these possible.

-HH

Wednesday, January 18, 2012 Celebrity Morality or "Oh, Myth?"

By now you've heard the earth shattering news, Paula Dean has type 2 diabetes.

If you click on the red words above you'll be brought to a well thought out article by a diabetes professional. If your interested in what I think about the subject, read on.

Every person who has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in the past three years (since Paula Dean's diagnosis) AND has watched an episode of Paula Dean on the Food Network, or has watched any other show on the Food Network (which exists due to the efforts of Paula Dean,) has the right to sue Paula Dean for damages due to her ongoing conspiracy to keep silent the truth about the connection between her cooking and her ailing health!

Why, you ask? Because this is America, we're sue happy. Am I serious? I'm the Headbanging Hostess, you tell me how serious I am. If I may quote Pink Missile front man Danny Acedo, "This is serious!"

You know I'm being serious when I quote Pink Missile front man Danny Acedo.

I'm a student of the Howard Stern School of Celebrity. You tell your audience the truth, all the time, no matter how painful.

At the very least she's done her audience a disservice, for three years. But to "come out" when the deal with the pharmaceutical company is already set in stone? Krikey, I want to take a shower! It just feels wrong, smarmy, dirty, dishonest, greedy and a bunch of other shower-worthy skeevy descriptors.

Granted, my most popular posts are "How to Make Cake Balls on Pretzel Sticks" and "Cadbury Creme Eggs Baked in a Biscuit." But I've also been quite candid about my weight struggle. Tasty tempered with reality. And krikey again, I only influence 30 or so people (maybe more according to Klout, not quite sure I understand that site still.) Caring about your audience means not lying to them. And, yes, even a lie of omission is still a lie.

Already Paula Dean is being unclear in her statements to the press regarding the relationship between diet and diabetes. Triple krikey. Tell yourself the truth woman! You ate yourself into disrepair! And as a food professional/entertainer you have a duty to your fellow man. There's an unspoken contract - you give us information and we adore you. But by keeping the diagnosis from us, and continuing to feed the public a steady diet of butter, sugar and what-have-you you have been dishonest and disingenuous.

Now, of course, anyone with half a brain cell knows the kind of food Paula Dean showcases isn't health food. But not everyone knows about the link between an unhealthy diet and diabetes. And someone with that kind of influence; given the opportunity every time she stepped in front of a camera to educate her audience about a health issue that both she herself and millions of Americans were suffering with; given that opportunity she said nothing. For three years.

It's sad. And outrageous.

I'm curious to see what happens next. Will she change her shows? Her eating? Her lifestyle? Or will she continue to do what she does and just control her diabetes with the drugs she's selling. Yick, I need to take a shower.

-HH

Friday, January 13, 2012 Black Bean and Barley Lettuce Wraps


Mmm... This DDelicious dinner was made without any additional fat! No oil was used in the cooking process, instead I opted for a flavorful veggie stock that I whipped up during the day. Black beans with peppers and onions, barley with mushrooms, a little cheddar cheese, an little cilantro. It was almost like Chipotle but I didn't have to leave the house, and this had a little more fiber.

The barley I cooked in the stock - 1 1/4 cups stock and 1/2 cup rinsed barley. I cooked the sliced mushrooms in a pan with some more stock, transferring the barley to the pan when it was almost done cooking and adding more stock as needed.

In another pan I simmered the chopped peppers, onions and garlic in a little more stock and then added a small can of black beans. The whole can, black bean sludge and all. Let that cook until the onions are clear, let the other one cook until the barley is done.

Lettuce cups are pretty self-explanatory. Make sure you wash them, that's my advice.

My husband added a little sour cream and hot sauce to his. I realized as I was plating that I hadn't used any additional spices, but they weren't really needed on my end. I loved the flavor of the cilantro and the black beans, the texture of the lettuce and the barley. These were quite good! And I ate four of them without any guilt. Lots of fiber, beans are a good source of protein and fiber. I added very little cheese to mine - I felt good about the whole meal!

Stay tuned for more of my "diet recipes" - they're tasty!

-HH

Thursday, January 12, 2012 Diet Update - Two Weeks In


Since it was couple days before New Year's that I began my diet I have reached the two week mark. Two weeks of eating "right," eating "healthy," and I might add not eating "boring."

Sure, there's nothing too exciting about high fiber cereal. Mixing it with half a container of yogurt makes it slightly exciting, and finishing the yogurt later makes me feel as if I've cheated the system. I've been writing down everything I've eaten at the end of the day, almost more of a memory exercise than a food diary. Every entry had something along the lines of...

High fiber cereal
PB on whole grain toast
Apple Butter on whole grain toast
cheese stick (Weight Watchers cheese. It's not fantastic, but it's a small snack)
Apple
Banana
yogurt

A few times, like yesterday, we had a nice late lunch/early dinner that was large enough to keep us full well into the evening. Yesterday's purple cabbage, kielbasa and perogies wasn't exactly diet food, but I did what I could to keep the fat down. First I boiled the kielbasa for about 1/2 an hour. This takes out some of the fat, but I also cooked the perogies in the same water - they didn't absorb all the fat, maybe not even the flavor. I did save myself the trouble of having to boil another pot of water. The purple cabbage was sliced thin by my husband and cooked in water and red wine vinegar - it could have cooked a little longer, but I like it crunchy. The kielbasa we finished up quick outside on the grill, it just gives it a nice flavor and crunch.

I've also been putting in the exercise effort. When I can't go walk at the beach (which is like always because the cold wind freezes my inner ear) I'll try to do some yoga at home. Just 1/2 an hour of whatever moves I remember from my hour long sessions at the Y. My heart rate really does go up, I'm not flexible so it could be a fear of falling over that gets my heart racing, but whatever it is I sure hope it's burning some calories! I can feel I'm getting stronger, and I can feel my muscles getting a workout, so I've gotta be doing something right.

And in the end? Let's call it 3 pounds. It's very hard to tell. I stand on the scale with one foot and my hand on the towel rack, ever so slowly lifting my weight onto the scale, trying not to jostle the numbers up, down and around. It's an old scale, older than some of my friends probably, that never quite zeros out right. You can start at zero, get on and get off and it's at 3 - know what I'm saying? But my goal is 2 pounds a month, so three pounds in two weeks ain't bad!

Do I feel better? Yes. Do I look better? Not sure. Am I starving myself? Not at all. Sure, sometimes it takes super human strength to fight off the munchies, but I'm doing it! Not eating for two hours before bedtime (which is 8:00 because I'm asleep by 10:00) hasn't always been easy, but it has surely relieved me of the nightmares that have been plaguing me. Thank goodness.

How's your diet going?

-HH

Sunday, January 8, 2012 Parents of Picky Pipsqueaks Prepare for a Pummeling, Please

It all started innocently enough. A friend posted on Facebook, asking for easy dinner ideas for picky eaters. I wanted to help, I started racking my brain for kid-friendly foods. Seeing as I'm a "baby-free expert" I came up blank.

I suggested the crock pot, I had a few other semi-lame suggestions. There were a number of suggestions from real-life working moms. Some of them seemed okay, some of them... There's no way to finish that sentence politely. I was flabbergasted. Disgusted is a strong word but I'm going to use it anyway. One recipe that I would never disclose called for a cup of soy sauce. A CUP! That's 5 days worth of sodium if you're under 40 years of age, 8 days if you're over. That is mad crazy, yo!

A number of recipes called for jarred sauce, something that is not allowed in our house as my husband is Italian. But other than those pureed tomatoes the suggestions were surprisingly void of veggies. Void of variety - pasta, meat, tomato sauce. Pasta, meat tomato sauce. Pasta, meat, tomato sauce, cheese. One recipe called for canned pineapple, and then there was the cup-o-soy sauce. But every recipe involved some "convenience food" - jarred salsa, packets of taco seasoning. Nothing personal.

I mean that, nothing personal...but you're robbing your kids. Nutritionally speaking you're doing them a disservice. A colorful, diet rich in grains, plant materials and various sources of proteins is healthy for our bodies. And you're robbing them of texture, variety and the spices of life. By not introducing them to the wide variety of foods the world has to offer you're possibly condemning them to a life of chicken nuggets and french fries. We all know a person like that, with only a handful of foods in their comfort zone. If those five foods are pasta, ground beef, cheese, tomato sauce and canned pineapple that person is looking at a pretty unhealthy life.

When I was a kid (yeah, I know. F when you were a kid, Miss Headbanging Child-Free Expert.) When I was a kid I ate whatever my parents ate. The idea of making a separate meal for me never entered the house. Even when I was a baby, I ate what they ate, they just put it in the blender. Pigs ears, sardines, squid, smoked bacon fat, smelts, little neck clams, wild boar - I ate all of those things as a kid. It never occurred to me not to eat them. I did draw the line at tongue, I remember that. And I ate liver until I found out no one else did. But that's the key right there. People do what they can get away with. Yes, even kids. Especially kids. They're constantly testing their limits, and yours! They're kids, that's their job. But it's your job as a parent to see that they get their nutritional needs met and that you expose them to the world through it's bounty.

Food is history. You can follow ingredients and spices around the globe for a peek into our past. It's an opportunity to learn about humanity. It sustains us, nourishes us, fuels us through our day and into the next. Food is nostalgia, memories. A familiar taste can bring comfort, quiet and bliss. Food is love. Sitting and sharing a meal with family is an immeasurable, priceless experience. There will come a time when they're all grown and gone, when getting together for the holidays isn't easy or even an option.

And where do you want them to be? Opening a jar of sauce?

I'm being harsh, I know.

Tough shit.

America's children are obese! Unhealthy! Big fat tubs of lard! Pasta, meat, sauce and cheese? Are you kidding me? Hey, it's not my fault. I'm not a parent. I'm not the one who signed up for the humungo responsibility, YOU ARE! Step up! Put some steamed veggies on that plate, some brown rice. Salmon, green beans, whole grain bread, sauteed spinach, summer squash - you may have to expose your kids to a different food 10-15 times before they try it, but SO WHAT? No kid presented with a balanced meal night after night has ever starved to death.

What you feed your kid tonight will stay with them for the rest of their lives. How's that for a profound scare tactic? But it's true, both nutritionally and emotionally. Growing bodies need trace amounts of every vitamin and mineral. Eating the rainbow is the best way to do that. Vitamin supplements usually come out in the same pill form they went in as. And emotionally speaking, our brains bond flavors with memories. When I taste liver I'm back in my high-chair. When I eat steamed little necks I'm in my backyard, showing my friends how to pull the icky black part off so you can dip the clam in the hot water and then the butter and slurp it all up in all it's buttery-salty-sweet yumminess. I wonder if they go back to my yard when they taste steamers today?

Do you see what I'm saying? Kids are people. These memories are the things that make life worth living. You can't deny them that. When they're 40 they'll thank you for making them try lamb or quinoa or chitlins as a child. I promise. But you have to do your part. You signed up for it. You wouldn't introduce them to only 5 letters of the alphabet, would you?

-HH

Kettle Corn in the Dutch Oven


How do I love thee? Let me count the ways... Of course, I'm talking to both my dutch oven and my kettle corn.

When carnival season arrives it's the kettle corn that drives me out of the house and into the general public. I love the sweet and salty. I can eat a whole large bag, the size of a first grader, within a day or two.

With my New Year's diet in full swing I needed to abandon microwave popcorn. It's cancer anyway, why expose myself to all that crap when I have the tools to make my own awesome popcorn.

The dutch oven.

Heavy lid, heavy bottom, heavy all around. This isn't the popcorn making from my youth, burning kernels and shaking pots on electric stove tops. I barely have to move it, I probably don't have to move it at all but I burn a few more calories in the prep and I don't feel so bad eating the entire bowl.

I followed Rachael Ray's recipe for the most part. I halved the amount of sugar so it was...

1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
1/8 cup white sugar
salt sprinkled over the top <-- That I did not measure

Put the pot on the stove at 7 1/2 (electric stove.) Put in the oil, the popcorn, put the lid back on. When the oil starts to sizzle sprinkle the sugar in there and put the lid back on. Then you just wait for it to pop, pop, pop. I haven't been too good at judging when it's done, it seems I have a lot of leftover kernels. But I'm pretty sure that's not the end of the world. The whole two pound bag only cost me $1.50, so wasting money is not an issue.

YUMMY!!!

I am thrilled at the prospect of never having to go to another sub-par street fair for a taste of kettle corn. Never again will I be forced to hang with the commoners in order to experience the salty sweetness. Thank goodness.

I can see lots of experimenting on this front. Colored sugar, candy flavors... And popcorn is a whole grain so I'm not totally blowing my diet. YAY!

How do you rock your popcorn?

-HH

Friday, January 6, 2012 Roast Leg Of Lamb Dinner


I've been promising my friend Marc a roast leg of lamb dinner for a while. Last night I delivered. Of course, I forgot to take pictures of the final product, so you're looking at a raw piece of meat.

My husband picked up the ingredients of the way home. First he went to Fairway where the lamb cost 130 bucks! Then he went to Grade A where it was 45 bucks. I know, I know, good meat costs more, but 130 bucks was way out of our budget. Maybe I need to start raising lamb out on the porch.

He also got a bunch of baby potatoes and a handful of big carrots along with rosemary and garlic. Everything I needed to make lamb...for the first time.

I've never liked lamb, but at a friends wedding this year I went for it during the cocktail hour and I LOVED IT! It was roasted to perfection, almost bacon like in it's crispy-fattyness. Reminiscent of my childhood holidays spent at "The Hungarian's" eating what he'd shot. DDelicious.

To make this lamb I started off by removing all the netting keeping it together. I gently rinsed it in the sink and flipped it over onto a cutting board. I made numerous incisions in the underside with a boning knife and stuffed the holes with garlic and rosemary sprigs. In a 6 pound roast I made 6 well spaced incisions. I carefully arranged the peeled (yet whole) carrots in the center of a roasting pan along with about half an onion sliced into 4 pieces and a few more rosemary sprigs. I put the potatoes around the edge and placed the lamb right on top of the carrot/onion bed. I dusted it all with sea salt, pepper and powdered rosemary and put it in the oven at 450 for 15 minutes. Then I turned it down to 325 for the remainder of the cooking time, approximately 1 1/2 hours.

For rare lamb the internal temperature should be 145, 160 for medium rare. Meat can be taken out of the oven 5 degrees before the intended temp, carry-over heat will keep the temperature going up even after it's out of the oven. When I checked the temp the first time it was barely at 130, the second time (15 minutes later) it quickly soared to the 160 mark. I quickly took it out of the oven to rest. The veggies I put on the platter and covered them up to help retain the heat.

While the meat rested I put the finishing touches on some gravy. Veggie stock, rosemary, small amounts of apple butter and the pan drippings deglazed with a spot of Pinot. It was a nice, rich sauce. Beautiful color with a deep, caramelized flavor.

My husband carved the lamb. I was afraid it was overdone, but no one complained. Maybe they were just being polite. I thought it tasted amazing. It wasn't pink, it wasn't tough. It had a real nice flavor, texture. Actually, I'm not sure why I didn't like lamb before. It was real good, yo!

Dessert was one of my fabulous concoctions. Semi-cheesecake, semi-pumpkin pie bruleeish... 1 cup pumpkin pureed with 2 eggs, 1/4 cup sugar, vanilla bean, cinnamon, nutmeg and two generous spoonfuls of ricotta. Shame on me for not measuring, but whatever the ratios it turned out just scrumptious.

A very nice dinner. I think this year will include many more of these small dinners for four. And I'll document them better, maybe even make a video :)

Rock on! \m/

-HH