Tuesday, March 31, 2009
You know I love tacos in all forms...don't you? I never really thought about how often we actually eat taco-ish dishes. If we're in a hurry, we'll heat up some beans, add some chopped veggies and cheese or if I've made some sort of meat and have extra, I bag it up and use it as a filling...then heat up some tortillas, wrap and eat! Usually I'll make up a batch of taco seasoning and put it in a jar to sprinkle on ground beef or turkey. Sometimes I feel lazy and just buy a seasoning packet (low-sodium, no MSG). Yeah, I said it. Believe it or not, I am actually eating a couple of shredded beef, salsa & queso quesadilla soft tacos as I type this up. And in all honesty, if I want hubby to do the cooking, I end up with some for of Mexican food...but I'm not complaining, that's one of the reasons I married him (kidding! sort of.). I love to cook a pork butt or a chuck roast, shred it and package it up for other meals...and it's much easier for hubby. Especially if it's in the front of the fridge. Seriously, anything in the "second layer" may as well not even be there. Where is it? There's no meat in here. Sour cream...I don't see any. Usually it makes me laugh. I go in, pick up a container, grab what's behind it the meat, the sour cream and keep doing what I was doing. Sometimes it's not so humorous. Whatcha gonna do? On to this week's taco highlights...a joint effort. I cooked up some ground turkey, added taco seasoning and then we rolled them into flautas. Now, if you read my other flauta post, you'll notice that I like to roll up all of the flautas, secure them with toothpicks and then fry the whole batch; do it in steps. When hubby (should I call him mexichef?) makes flautas, he rolls a few, then gently lowers them into the oil (sans toothpick) and goes on to rolling a few more. Since we were making them together, we did it his way. I filled and rolled, and he lowered and fried. They turned out mighty tasty. Here's the process: Seasoned Turkey Flautas by girlichef & mexichef cook as you would any ground taco meat: ground turkey your favorite taco seasoning water Heat a stack of corn tortillas, wrapped in a clean kitchen towel, in the microwave for about 3 minutes, or until hot & pliable. Put cooked meat in a line across one edge of a tortilla and roll tight. Either secure with a toothpick, or pray it holds tight while you roll some more. In preheated vegetable oil (frying temp...hot!), carefully lower flautas and fry until golden all around, flipping after a minute or two. Remove to a paper towel lined plate until ready to serve. Serve with your favorite toppings. Some of my favorites are lime & salt cured cabbage, crema, queso fresco, avocado, salsa....I made a Chipotle Tomatillo Salsa this time. If you go back to my recipe for Salsa Verde, make it as stated, then add a couple of canned chipotle chiles w/ some of the adobo sauce, to taste, to the blender and voila! Some more of our taco adventures from the past week...all made by mexichef... the picture on the top right is flautas filled with a mixture of red potatoes, chorizo & salsa all mashed up together (this was killer!)....bottom left was black bean & chorizo tacos (yup, yum!). It was a good week for taco-ish foods.Be sure to head over to Tex-Mex Foodies to check out Gloria's Taco Tuesdays. One can never have too many tacos.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Karen at DomesticMuse is hosting a challenge called Everything Old is New Again; I love the idea of this challenge! My grandma has so many recipes tucked into her recipe box and I'm always asking her how do you make such-n-such, so this is a great opportunity to get down & dirty with some vintage recipes. I actually chose to update a recipe that grandma makes for almost every holiday. Green Salad or Lime Salad or Green Jello Salad are all names that it answers to. Truth...I've never really liked it. Everyone else seems to, though. I was inspired a while back by a recipe Joy the Baker posted. She used a jello salad much like my grandmas and turned it into a pie. I thought...I HAVE to try that with my grandma's Green Salad. I bookmarked the recipe and have thought on it ever since. When Karen's challenge surfaced, I figured it'd be the perfect time to give it a go. I did decide to update the recipe a bit...change it to something I would actually like to eat (sorry Gram). Have you ever seen the movie Waitress? Love it! In a nutshell, Kerry Russell's character is a pie maker...all kinds of pies for all kinds of reasons. One of the pies she makes is called Mermaid Marshmallow Pie...this is another inspiration for my creation.
I'm also gonna do double-duty here and make this my entry for this month's You Want Pies With That? The theme being Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous...you create and bake a pie with a rich & famous person in mind. Picking someone to attribute this to, taking the Everything Old is New Again theme into consideration as well...it's going to be....ah, I'll tell you at the end of the post! I want you to see it first!
Old Recipe- Grandma's Green Jello Salad
1 pkg. Lime Jello
1 pkg. Lime Jello
1 c. hot water
1/2 c. pineapple juice
1/2 pint whipped cream
1 (10 cent!!) small jar maraschino cherries, drained
1 small pkg. Philly cream cheese
1 can crushed pineapple, drained well
Dissolve jello in hot water and pineapple juice. Let cool until slightly set. Add cream cheese and fold in whipped cream, cherries, nuts and pineapple. Pour into mold and let set.
...and now, changed to make it "new again"....
Pink Cloud Pie
Graham Cracker Crust:
9 graham crackers
1/4 c. brown sugar
7-8 Tbs. melted butter
Place crackers in a large zipper bag. Crush to fine crumbs. Place in bowl and mix w/ brown sugar. Have your quality control people in place to check the texture of the graham crackers (um, that would be the munchkins). Drizzle in butter and mix. Press into pie pan. Bake in preheated 325°F oven for 10-15 minutes, or until golden. Let cool completely.
1 (3 oz) pkg raspberry jello
1 c. hot water
1/2 c. pineapple juice
1 c. heavy cream- whipped until stiff peaks
1 c. raspberries, fresh or frozen
8 oz. cream cheese or neufchatel, softened
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
1/2 can (20 oz. can) crushed pineapple, drained well
Dissolve jello in hot water. Stir in pineapple juice. Put in refrigerator until slightly set, about 1-1 1/2 hrs. Stir in cream cheese (I used stick blender). Fold in whipped cream. Add raspberries, nuts and crushed pineapple.
Mix all together gently. Pour into prepared graham cracker shell. Put in refrigerator until set, about one more hour.
2 c. heavy cream
1/4 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
juice from 1/2 c. crushed raspberries
pink mini-marshmallows (I picked them from a mixed bag)
Place all in bowl and whip until stiff peaks form. Blop it onto the chilled pie and spread gently. Top with pink mini-marshmallows.
Serve. Will keep wrapped in foil for a day or two...not sure, it hasn't been that long yet.
This was such a fun challenge...well, two fun challenges! Are you wondering which rich & famous person I'm dedicating this pie to? It's all pink and fluffy and girly, so it's got to be Anna Nicole Smith. I wasn't really a big fan of hers, but I know she idolized Marilyn Monroe (old) and went to Hollywood to remake herself (new), just as Norma Jean did. Anna Nicole loved pink and was often "riding on a cloud". Hers is a tragic story...sad, I think. But wouldn't she have loved this pie?
*Update 4/3/11--->I am sharing this post with:
Saturday, March 28, 2009
I wanted to take a minute to introduce some of you to BloggerAid. I know a lot of foodies out there are already involved in this wonderful group of bloggers, but for you...you out there...the ones that aren't familiar with it...here's a little overview and some links for you to follow. BloggerAids "vision is a world which provides for and protects the welfare and human dignity of all its people. A world in which all children can grow, learn and flourish, developing into healthy, active, caring members of society."
BloggerAid has teamed up with the World Food Programme (WFP) to fight hunger worldwide! Members of BloggerAid (from all over the world) have been developing original recipes, and are planning a cookbook with a tentative release toward the end of 2009. 100% profit from the sale of the cookbooks will go to the WFP to help aid in programs like School Meals. More focus areas within WFP are understanding vulnerability, nutrition, buying & delivering food, building strong communities, helping families & victims of HIV/AIDS and connecting small, low-income farmers with buyers. BloggerAid is a way for us to give back.
Here's a sneak peek at my entry for the cookbook- LENTIL BURGERS...
BloggerAid is also about creating new relationships. I have always loved learning about cultures through their food and customs...meeting fellow foodie bloggers is a great way for me to connect with people from parts of the world I may not otherwise meet. BloggerAid has started an exchange program of sorts named BloggerAid Best Friends Forever....and it is all about connecting with a blogger from another country...corresponding, sharing, forming new friendships. So many reasons to join BloggerAid...just pick one!
And since I'm talking about doing things that are good and giving, I wanted to remind everyone to VOTE EARTH! Turn out those lights tonight from 8:30 - 9:30 in the PM! I once told somebody I tried to leave a place better than I found it. They told me that was impossible. I beg to differ. I pick up trash when I see it blowing around. I plant trees, flowers and plants. I recycle, I reuse and I have a very small carbon footprint (really, I've taken the test). I want my children and their children and their children to have the opportunity to own land...to plant things on it...to see blue skies...to see starry skies...get my drift? So, if you Vote Earth like I do...flip that switch! It's only an hour.
Friday, March 27, 2009
I can't believe it's Friday already...and time for another installment of Tyler Florence Fridays. I picked a simple Tyler recipe this week. I've been feeling a bit run-down and sleepy for the past couple of days, but still wanted to spend a little time with Tyler in the kitchen. He says he "picked up this recipe at a restaurant in Valencia"...he ended up eating three bowls of them. They were a great little snack and would probably be good while sitting around drinking some wine or beer, too. Maybe I should have tried that. I'm sure I would have at least thought I felt better. Chickpeas Marinated in Olive Oil, Whole Cumin, and Chile from Tyler Florence Eat This Book p.105 (can you tell this is the only Tyler book I own?) serves 8 1 lb. dried chickpeas,picked through and rinsed 2 bay leaves salt & pepper 1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling juice of 1 lemon 1 tsp. whole cumin seeds, toasted (not ground) 1 Tbs. paprika 1 fresh Thai Bird Chile or other hot green chile, chopped Soak the chickpeas overnight in cold water to cover. Drain. Put the chickpeas and bay leaves in a large pot. Cover with cold water and put over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until chickpeas are tender, about 1 hour and 20 minutes. About halfway through cooking, season with salt and pepper. This gives the chickpeas time to soften so that the seasoning can penetrate. Check the water periodically and add more if necessary to keep the peas covered. Drain the chickpeas, discard the bay leaves, and transfer to a serving bowl. Add remaining ingredients and toss well. Season generously with salt and pepper and taste for lemon. Hit it with a drizzle of olive oil before serving. Tasty little morsels. Be sure to head on over to Tyler Florence Fridays to see what all of the other Tyler fans cooked up!
Thursday, March 26, 2009
I'm in love with these tomato & goat cheese tarts! This week's Barefoot Bloggers recipe was chosen by Anne of Anne Strawberry...and I'm gonna have to say that this is one of my favorite Ina recipes (that I've made) to date! Ina uses frozen puff pastry...hallelujiah...so when I was at the market to pick up a few ingredients, I figured I would pick up some sheets of it in the freezer section. WRONG! They were on sale this week (yay!), but they were all gone...waa, waaa, waaaa. On the other hand, they had the box with the individual (6) shells of puff pastry (also on sale), so I picked up a couple boxes of those. Basically, I ended up making mini-tarts. They were so perfect as little appetizers or to have a couple with a nice salad as a meal! I will make these again, in any size...often.
Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts
adapted from Back to Basics by Ina Garten
1 pkg puff pastry, defrosted
4 c. thinly sliced yellow onions
3 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
salt & pepper
3 Tbs dry white wine
2 tsp minced, fresh thyme leaves
4 Tbs freshly grated Parmesan cheese
4 oz garlic & herb goat cheese
1 large tomato, cut into 4 (1/4" thick) slices
3 Tbs julienned Basil leaves
2 oz Parmesan cheese, shaved w/ a vegetable peeler
Unfold sheet of puff pastry on lightly floured surface & roll lightly to an 11x11" square. Using a 6" wide round object as guide, cut 2 circles from each sheet or simply place the convenient, already formed mini shells on pan. Place on parchment lined sheet pan(s).
Preheat oven to 425° F par bake if using mini shells.
Heat 3 Tbs of olive oil in large skillet over medium to low heat and ad the onions and garlic. Saute for 15-20 minutes, stirring, until onions are limp and almost no moisture remains. Add 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, the wine & thyme and continue to cook until onions are caramelized. Remove from heat.
Using a sharp paring knife, score a 1/4" wide border around each pastry circle or use the pre-fab shells for minis, like I did. Prick the pastry inside the score lines with the tines of a fork and sprinkle a Tbs. of grated Parmesan on each round, staying inside scored border.
Evenly divide onion mixture over each circle. Now do the same w/ the goat cheese and tomatoes. Lightly brush each w/ olive oil Sprinkle w/ basil, salt and pepper. Scatter a few shards of Parmesan on each tart.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until pastry is golden brown. Serve hot or warm. I thought they were pretty good chilled, too!
Seriously...these were killer! You know that flakiness of the pastry and the sweetness of the caramelized onions with the melt-in-your-mouth, warm goat cheese...rich and addicting.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
I've said it before and I'll say it 'til the end of time...I am a bookworm. I love to read almost as much as I love to cook...maybe just as much, actually! To be fair to books, I have been reading longer than I've been cooking (by a few measly years), so I should definitely give books credit where credit is due! So, imagine if you will how thrilled I was to stumble across the group Cook the Books. Cook the Books is group of bloggers (I think mostly or all foodie bloggers, but since I'm not positive I won't confirm) who pick a book to read on a bi-monthly schedule, then cook something up...related to the book in some form...and blog about it! Brilliant. So I jumped on the bandwagon (let's call it a bookmobile in this instance) and rented this month's pick from the library. I think I'd actually started it before, but never finished it...so, here was my chance. The book du jour this time was Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain.
Ah, Tony (think he'd mind me calling him Tony??)...what can I say. He is a paradox. He's the kind of guy you love to hate...but also, you hate to love him. He's a food snob. Yet, he loves the salt of the earth people...and their food and their cooking. He has a loud mouth, but he knows when to shut it (okay, usually). If you haven't worked in a restaurant kitchen before, you may find yourself picking up your jaw after reading about the, shall we call them...antics, that go on behind the scenes. But for somebody who has done their time in the trenches...picked up those scalding saute pans bare-handed and kept on working...thrown jabs with the big guys...hoarded side towels, had their mise en place raided, worked all night...and the next day, too...worked side by side with some of the greatest misfits in town...I found myself laughing, nodding my head, reminiscing and actually identifying with parts of this book. Now, I am definitely not claiming to have seen or done all of the crazy things Mr. Bourdain has, but I could tell a few tales. Hmmm, maybe I will write it all down...you never know, right.
Communing with Tony made me want to make something a bit different than I make on a day to day basis. It's hard to think of him without thinking of his travels and mis-adventures. He makes me want to make something cringe-inducing...okay, I don't actually think he would cringe at what I decided to make, but I think some people would. Even though there's not really any reason to shy away from....Lengua. Tongue. In the U.S., most of us weren't raised to eat the offal. Offal is considered to be garbage or waste. I usually consider parts like kidney, liver, heart, tripe, sweetbreads, ears & snout to be offal. I'm pretty sure tongue would fit into that category, though. My husband loves tongue (why does this sentence make me think of Donna?)...but I have actually never prepared it at home. We usually order it in tacos if we're at the Taqueria. But, going along with the theme of this book, tongue also reminds me of a time while I was doing my culinary apprenticeship. I did my apprenticeship on the campus of a large University...this enabled me to see most, if not all facets of food service. Sometimes I worked in the dining halls or with catering, sometimes in the test kitchen, other times in the bakery or the support facility/prep/warehouse. You may think I'm leading up to some of my time spent in the Butcher shop. Reasonable assumption...but nope, I'm actually going to tell you about something that happened while I was logging in some time at the fine-dining restaurant.
I was very fortunate to do my apprenticeship in a place where we made everything from scratch. I squirmed my way through killing my first lobsters (they still move even after their tales are removed!), I butchered so many types of fish, broke down sides of beef, lamb and pig...even had a chance to see live eels come in one day! You seriously have to slam them on the head and then skin them! Bourdain tells the truth about this business....brutal, but true. But, I digress... One day there was a big, long beef tongue hanging in the cooler. This was the first time I'd ever seen the tongue separate from the cow. If you've ever been licked by a cow, you know how long their tongues are...but picture a tongue all by itself! So... it's the time of the day when we cook employee meal (or family meal). Usually the front of the house & the rest of the staff (the restaurant is in a hotel) doesn't know what the day's meal is until it's in the window. Well, this particular day it happened to be shredded beef tacos. Every one ate with gusto, a lot sent their compliments to the chef(s)...all went on with their shift. Not one of them was any the wiser...the shredded beef they had just devoured so readily was actually TONGUE! Seriously, tongue is tender and beefy tasting....and obviously, when mixed with a few seasonings can pass as some roasted "regular" beef. I didn't actually cook the tongue, as I was the lowly apprentice (which actually surprises me....seems like they'd have forced me, just to get a reaction), but I was in on the secret.
Since the book coaxed the memory of the, shall we call it... "tongue incident", not to mention the constant reminder from hubby at how much he wants me to make some...I decided to do the deed myself and make a dish with Beef Tongue. So, this is for Tony & my devoted hubby. I looked to Rick Bayless for guidance on preparing the tongue...I followed his technique and adapted one of his recipes. I also have to say that I debated for a long while about whether or not to post pictures of "the tongue." I decided on the ones that were least cringe-inducing. I wanted to share the technique...but wasn't sure what kind of reaction it would get. If you want to see more pictures of it, click here.
Lengua a la Veracruzana
adapted from the recipe by Rick Bayless from Authentic Mexican
~3 lb Beef Tongue
1 1/2 Tbs olive oil
1 1/2 Tbs vegetable oil
1 medium onion, sliced thin
1 can stewed tomatoes w/ Italian seasonings
1 can whole tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbs capers (plus more for garnish)
2 pickled jalapenos + 1 Tbs of pickling juice
1 1/2 tsp mixed dried herbs (marjoram, oregano, thyme)
2 Tbs chopped parsley (plus more for garnish)
3 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 c reserved tongue broth
salt, to taste
Soak the tongue in salted water for 3 hours, in refrigerator. Place tongue in large pot and cover with more cold, generously salted water. Add some onions, garlic & herbs (separate from ones listed above) to the pot. Bring to a boil, lower to simmer and cook for 3-4 hours, until tender.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Strain and degrease broth. Reserve 1 cup. Strip off the tongue's skin. Pull out any bones from the big end (if there are any) and cut off ~3/4 inch from that end. Cut off the fatty section along the bottom. Slice into 1/4" thick slices. Lay slices, overlapping in several rows in a baking dish.
Prepare the sauce: In a large skillet, heat oil over medium. Add onion and cook, stirring until golden. Add garlic and cook another minute or so, until soft. Add tomatoes and their juices. Simmer for ~5 minutes, pressing down on tomatoes to break up a bit. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for ~10 minutes, until cooked down a bit. Discard cinnamon stick and bay leaves.
Spoon sauce over prepared tongue. Put in preheated oven and cook for 20-30 minutes, until sauce is bubbly.Serve garnished with some more capers and parsley.I enjoyed making something that is out of the norm for me. And it really was delicious! I "hid" the tongue from the kiddos until it was not recognizable as a tongue anymore...but I didn't create another tongue incident (I couldn't...it's not like saying tuna is chicken...). I showed the pictures to my oldest and you should have heard the reaction..."OH MY GOSH....GROSS...NO WAY...TONGUE!...HOW CAN YOU EAT THAT!?...OH GOD...OHHHHH MOM!" and so on. Tee hee...it was like a dinner bell, drawing in the rest of the little ones, but I have yet to show them the photos. I'll definitely make it again. Someday.
I can't wait to see what the next book choice will be. If you'd like to hop on the "bookmobile" too, head on over to Cook the Books for more information. I finished early...still time to do a dish inspired by this book by Anthony Bourdain!
Monday, March 23, 2009
Every couple weeks or so, our family sits down to watch a (family friendly) movie together while eating dinner...usually with our food nestled precariously on our laps or the floor, sofa, etc. So, the food needs to be some sort of "finger food"...something easily held over our plates while our eyes are on the t.v. More times than not, it ends up being pizza (big surprise, right?). The other day I saw a post over at Spryte's Place...she made English Muffin Pizzas! Yum. I hadn't had these in so long. This is another one of those foods that my mom used to make us when we were kids. I don't know why I hadn't thought about them in all my years of being a parent...because they are so easy and seriously, people...kids love 'em. We've made out own "regular" pizzas...thin crust, oval-shaped crust, pan...we've gotten carry-out, we've had it delivered (you get my drift) and now, thanks to Spryte's unintentional memory jog, we will add English Muffin Pizza to our repertoire! Oh, you can do the same thing on bagels too!
These are quick and easy and made just the way YOU like them, so...gather up some toppings (great way to use up leftovers), preheat your oven, broiler or toaster oven and pop in a movie! We watched Bolt this week (in case you were wondering)...very cute.
English Muffin Pizzas
First step, toast your muffins. This helps keep them from getting soggy...adds crunch! Next, spoon on some pizza, spaghetti or tomato sauce (you choose). Next, add some cheese...the more the better (in this house, at least)! And now for the fun part...everybody chooses their own favorite toppings....personalize them! Kids can do all of these steps themselves (minus the toasting, depending on age).Next, I put them (on a foil-lined sheet tray) into the oven. This let me do a bunch (12) at once. Seriously, hubby probably could have eaten all 12 by himself...and my oldest maybe half...so I needed some high-volume action, here! Slide them into the oven or under the broiler (or in toaster oven for smaller quantities) until bubbly.
Okay, divide them up and eat them while watching your movie. Mess is minimal.
Thanks again for reminding me of these oldies but goodies, Spryte!
Sunday, March 22, 2009
I know it's actually been a couple of days since the first day of Spring now, but today I am really feeling it!! My daughter brought me the first of (surely many) my Crocus' to peek through the earth...instant smile :D I love being able to put fresh flowers in the house! So, the sun is shining, I have fresh flowers, all is well on the homestead....PLUS I received 3 awards (!!yay!!) from one of my favorite foodbloggers, Donna-FFW of My Tasty Treasures!! Many of you know Donna already, but if by some chance you've yet to find her blog which is chock-full of humor, gorgeous men and food, Food, FOOD... find your way there by clicking here or anytime by clicking her My Tasty Treasures button on the right side of my blog!
I have been blogging for about a month and a half now (really, that's it?)...and thanks to the great, GREAT community of foodie-bloggers out here, I have learned so much! It's really been about diving in head first and seeing if I can swim. Food has always been one of my passions...I love photography (and try the best I can with my run of the mill digital camera...love u camera)...and I love to learn! Seriously, I'm a perpetual student of the world; I NEVER want to lose my zest for learning and hope my heart and my mind are always open to what others have to offer.
With all my heart, I want to thank Donna...these awards mean so much to me! Now it's my turn to share the love. It almost pains me to have to "choose" people to pass these awards along to because every one of the food-bloggers I've come in contact with has inspired me in their own little way.
FRIENDS... comes with the following description to be added & passed along: "These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated.” It also says : "Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award."
Okay, only 8!? I want to try to space these awards out among everybody who has supported me. These 8 bloggers have encouraged me by leaving comments and/or offering to help me along the beginning stages of my journey, so far:
This award I'm going to pass along more people who have inspired me:
Please take the time to check out all of these great blogs at some point or another...you won't be disappointed!
"I love being alive and I will be the best man I possibly can. I will take love wherever I find it and offer it to everyone who will take it...seek knowledge from those wiser and teach those who wish to learn from me." -Duane Allman