SheMANigans (aka the Rise and Fall of the Manwich)

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SheMANigans (aka the Rise and Fall of the Manwich)

Remember that food vacation that I mentioned in my last post? Well, this recipe is one that is leftover from that week so prepare yourself!

Being that we now have several pounds of sexy, saucy pork chillin’ in our fridge (ha!), it was time for another man foodventure.

The epic sandwich started with a regular sandwich. While The Boyfriend prefers to attack the massive pile of pork with only a fork as a weapon, I prefer to reinvent the pork leftovers and use the pork to inspire other dishes. In this case, I wanted a sandwich. When I checked my fridge for sammich ingredients, I was greeted by a plethora of greenery: an avocado, some cilantro, and limes. Can you see where this is going? Mmm. I also found a log of the tastiest mozzarella I have ever eaten and I added it to my hoarded pile of ingredients. When I captured the loaf of fresh sliced Italian bread, I knew that I had the makings of one hell of a sammich.

 Barbacoa Sammich

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices good quality bread
  • ¼ cup pork barbacoa
  • ½ avocado, sliced
  • A few slices of good quality mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • Pepper

Directions:

1) Toast the bread in a toaster; make sure that your pork is heated up and that the juices are drained off of it.

2) Mash up the avocado in a bowl; add lime juice and pepper to mashed avocado.

3) Spread barbacoa on one slice of bread; cover with sliced mozzarella; broil in oven until cheese melts.

4) While the bread is in the oven, spread mashed avocado on the other slice of bread. Top with chopped cilantro.

5) When cheese is melted, remove bread from oven. Combine the 2 slices of bread to make one glorious sandwich.

The Boyfriend and I washed down my sandwich with a Dr. Pepper. Tasty beverage, right? Well ours was alcoholic and didn’t contain any actual Dr. Pepper.

 Dr. Pepper

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz beer
  • 4 oz Coke
  • 1-1.5 oz Amaretto liqueur
  • Optional: 1-1.5 oz rum

Directions:

1) Pour beer and Coke into glass. Add other ingredients and drink.

OR

1) Pour beer and Coke into glass; add rum. Measure out Amaretto liqueur in shot glass; drop shot glass into glass and chug.

As you can see, The Boyfriend went the latter route; I settled for somewhere in the middle (dropping the shot glass into the mug but taking my time to drink it). I’m not usually a fan of Dr. Pepper but these were really delicious and once we added the rum, they had a bit of a kick.

While enjoying our sandwich and tasty beverage, we were joined by a helper cat–introducing Roy!

When we kicked him off of the counter, Roy decided that he should climb into our pantry to hang out and “supervise” our ingredients. Thanks kitty!

But kitties aside, this post isn’t about tasty beverages and delicious (but normal) sandwiches. This is about sheMANigans and manwiches! So how did we go from normal to absurd? Well…The day after making the barbacoa sandwich, The Boyfriend and I got hit by a one of our mad ideas (remember the Epic Dogs?) and we wanted to make epic sandwiches.

Our first effort was solid: we took the barbacoa sandwich and added garlic cheese toast and more pork products (because what isn’t made more epic and absurd by the addition of moar pork?). We call this:

The Super Sammy

Ingredients:

  • 1 barbacoa sandwich
  • 1 slice of bread
  • ½ oz mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 slices bacon
  • 2 pieces ham

Directions:

1) Start by making the barbacoa sandwich.

2) Next, make the garlic cheese bread: toast (in a toaster) the extra slice of bread. Mix butter and chopped garlic in a small bowl; spread on toasted bread. Add cheese to garlic bread and pop it in the oven to broil until cheese is melted.

3) While the cheese is melting, cook bacon. Remove bacon from pan and blot; drain some of the excess grease and heat ham slices in the pan.

4) Assemble sammich: stack ham and bacon slices on top of the top slice of the barbacoa sandwich. Top with garlic cheese toast.

Look at those colors; at that cheese!

This was a tasty sandwich and we fell all over ourselves proclaiming that it was among the tastiest we had ever eaten: juicy, garlicky, creamy; flavors that came together and were also distinct and different. Fantastic.

But then…when our good friend (and fellow NCF alum!) Lisa arrived the next day, we went on a total food vacation. And what better way to celebrate than by upping the sammich-ante and finishing the pork in one helluva sammich? We basically wanted to make 3 separate and distinct sandwiches that would be combined into a giant stack. We kept our original first layer (the barbacoa sandwich) but wanted to incorporate more pork into the second layer; that’s when we decided to make the second layer into an Italian sandwich with pepperoni, ham, capicola and garlic-cheese bread. For the third and final layer, we (obviously) needed bacon and we chose to use the bacon in a classic sandwich style: the club (or TBR: turkey, bacon, ranch). Thus, The Sandwich was born.

This sammich is what the Empire State Building is to tourists: exotic, breathtaking, and very, very tall. And I don’t have to tell you that it was delicious; in fact, it was good enough to stop your heart. No really, it might; it’s pretty bad for you. Do not attempt if you have a cardiovascular disease (or if you don’t want to have cardiovascular disease as a result of this sandwich). This is definitely

 One Hulluva Sammich

Ingredients

  • 4 slices good-quality sourdough bread
  • ¼ cup barbacoa
  • ½ avocado
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • ½ tbsp cilantro
  • 2 slices turkey
  • 2 slices bacon
  • 1 tbsp ranch dressing
  • 2 slices pepperoni
  • 2 slices ham
  • 2 slices capicola
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 oz mozzarella cheese

 Directions:

1) Start by prepping all of your ingredients:

  • Lightly toast 3 slices of bread
  • Chop garlic
  • Chop cilantro
  • Slice avocado

2) Spread barbacoa on the first slice of sourdough (we’ll call this S1); top with 1 oz sliced mozzarella.

3) Mash avocado; add lime juice and cilantro to mashed avocado. Spread avocado mixture on a second slice of sourdough bread (S2).

4) Mix butter and chopped garlic in bowl; spread over yet another slice of sourdough (we’ll call this piece S3); top S3 with remaining ounce of sliced mozzarella. Put S1 and S3 in oven set to broil until cheese melts; set aside.

5) Cook bacon in skillet; reserve about 1 tsp of bacon fat in skillet. Pan-fry capicola and ham in reserved bacon fat; set all fried meats aside and blot to remove excess grease.

6) Spread 1 tbsp ranch dressing on last slice of  toasted sourdough (S4).

7) Assemble the sandwich:

  • Place S1 (barbacoa/melted mozzarella) on cutting board; top with S2 (avocado mixture side down towards pork).

Add pepperoni, capicola, and ham to the top of S2; top with S3 (garlic-cheese bread side towards Italian meats).

Halve the cooked bacon; add turkey and cooked bacon to the top of S3; finish sandwich with S4 (ranch side down towards turkey and bacon).

8) Affix two large skewers through the midst of the sandwich and cut the sandwich in half (it’s the only way that you can attempt to eat it). Add pickle and a side of Miss Vickie’s jalapeno chips to the plate and enjoy! And then hibernate and revel in your food coma.

We made one and a half sandwiches so that we would each have half of a sandwich to devour.

Mini-sammich?

Layers!

Lisa, attacking her half sammich.

I can’t even begin to describe what these sandwiches tasted like, but for your sake, I’ll try. First of all, it was impossible to get a bite of all of the layers at once (at least until everything softened up after sitting for 20 or so minutes). The first bite for me was mostly bread and the barbacoa sandwich part: all pork and lime. We chose a locally-baked sourdough bread so every bread bite was moist and chewy, and the crusts were crunchy. When you can begin to bite into the second layer (my personal fave), you’re overwhelmed by the garlic and the ooey-gooey mozzarella that is melting all over the Italian meats. The capicola is salty and the edges are crispy from being pan-fried; the ham is thinner and not as fatty as the capicola; and the pepperoni is mildly spicy cutting through all of the salt, and adding a nice coolness (from being one of only 2 meats on the sandwich that wasn’t heated). The third layer is the least connective of the layers: it’s flavors are milder but stand apart. The crunchy, warm bacon is right at home on the sandwich, but the slightly sweet taste of the turkey plus the distinctly buttermilk flavor of the ranch dressing is a powerhouse of different flavors in this wondrously large sandwich.

This sandwich really is 3 distinct sandwiches under one roof; and that’s what really makes it awesome. Because with every bite you get a different combination of flavors: garlic and avocado; ranch and pepperoni; bacon and pulled pork. The combinations are virtually endless and eating this sandwich, you get to try most of them.

I called my blog Adventurous Appetite* because that’s what I have: a palate that craves new and different more often than comfortable and predictable. If you’re a “my food shouldn’t touch on my plate” person, this sandwich is not for you. If, on the other hand, you’re as likely to throw crushed pineapple as hot fudge on a sundae, then please: eat and be joyful! Or better yet, make your own crazy, outrageous food just because you can.

(Ok, so it’s really called AdventurouseAppetite. I only recently realized that I added a gratuitous ‘e’ to the end of ‘Adventurous’ in my blog name. Why? How? Well, in the spirit of AA–oh damn, didn’t realize that either when I named my blog–I’m going to just say that I did it because I could. Or maybe it was because I am a terrible typist…)

Even with all of the deliciousness before us, our stomachs were only so big. It wasn’t too long before we all conceded defeat.

Not even beer could help us finish the gargantuan meat stacks in front of us.

Throwing in the towel, our leftovers still covered the plate. Don’t worry–we wound up sharing (and finishing) the sandwich towers with friends later in the evening.

I think this pretty much concludes our sheMANigans for the last week. On the plate for the rest of this week? Dumplings, California summer rolls, Thai Basil chicken, seafood feast, and a duck! This week’s recipes are highly Asian-inspired after the discovery of a fantastic Asian supermarket in Albany. I am also (hopefully) going to get doing some layout tweaks because I am over the generic look. So if you like to code or have ever wanted to Wang Chung, stay tuned for this week’s adventures on AdventurouseAppetite!

PS photo cred to Lisa: she took all the pictures of One Hulluva Sammich and generously let me post them here. You can see more of her pictures as well as her own fabulous recipes at Smile Belly

Working on my mussels

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Working on my mussels

For the past few days, I have kind of been on an eating “vacation.” I had a friend visiting who was on vacation and it was easier to eat out than to cook; it was more fun to eat burgers and pizza than it was to watch my diet. But my friend left yesterday and although I will miss her, my diet is much improved now that I am cooking again. Today has been a pretty healthy day! I had Greek yogurt and blueberries for breakfast; a turkey wrap for lunch; and mussels for dinner. I am pretty proud of myself 🙂

Onto the healthy recipes!

Chipotle Turkey Wrap

Adapted from a recipe by College Girl Cooking

Ingredients:

  • 1 wrap

  • 1 wedge Laughing Cow Light Queso Fresco & Chipotle spreadable cheese

  • 4 pieces turkey
  • 1 handful green-leaf lettuce
  • 1 small handful matchstick carrots
  • ½ tbsp fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp hot sauce
  • Optional: drizzle of olive oil vinaigrette

Directions:

1)  Heat wrap in microwave for 15-30 seconds.

2) Spread Laughing Cow cheese on warmed wrap.

Add hot sauce on top of cheese.

3) Lay 4 pieces of turkey on wrap, overlapping; leave about ½” space between end of turkey and edge of wrap

.

4) Top with cilantro,

lettuce,

carrots, and drizzle with olive oil vinaigrette.

5) Fold the wrap like a burrito: start by rolling the edge closest to you over the filling (make sure this is tight!)

Fold in the right side

and then the left.

Cut in half and serve.

Notes/Review: I saw this recipe on College Girl Cooking (via Foodgawker) and I was attracted to it for a few reasons. The simplicity of it was, of course, very appealing but I was especially excited about trying it because I love the Laughing Cow spreadable cheeses. While my favorite is the original light cheese, I also liked the sundried tomato and I have been eying the queso fresco flavor. I’m also tired of salads for lunch so a salad wrap sounded tasty. And guess what? It was! I added the extra ingredients (hot sauce, cilantro, carrots) because I had them in the fridge and I wanted to add a little more spunk to the wrap. We chose Hot! Ocean Deck Rasta Sauce because it is smoky and garlicky and peppery. It went well with the chipotle cheese and the rest of the wrap. Avocado would have been an awesome addition (I might try that tomorrow!); red/green pepper or cucumber would also be nice. You really can customize the ingredients to your taste preferences; I recommend keeping the turkey/cheese/cilantro/hot sauce to keep the tasty flavor intact. Overall it was a really healthy lunch and very tasty! 4 stars

For dinner, The Boyfriend and I have been wanting to make mussels for a few days so we finally bought them and cooked them in a curry and lime broth.

Mussels with Coconut Curry Lime Sauce

Adapted from a recipe at Verses from my Kitchen

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 tbsp green curry paste
  • 1 can (14 ounce) coconut milk
  • 1 cup beer
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • Juice of one lime
  • ½ Serrano pepper, seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ginger, grated
  • 2 pounds mussels, washed/scrubbed/debearded
  • Small handful chopped cilantro

Directions:

1) Melt the butter in a large wok over medium heat; add in the shallots and garlic and cook for one minute.

2) Add in the curry paste and the thickened top half of the coconut milk and stir for another minute.

3) Pour in the rest of the coconut milk along with the beer, vinegar, lime juice, green chili and ginger. Bring to simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.

4) Add the mussels and increase heat until a low boil starts. Cover the pot and boil softly for about 8 minutes, or until all the mussels have opened up.

5) Place mussels in bowls and pour sauce over top. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro.

Notes on the mussels: Since The Boyfriend and I usually keep beer in the house, we swapped the wine in the recipe for the beer that we already have. I recommend using a lighter-colored beer; we just used an inexpensive beer from our local grocery store. The flavor of the beer is very apparent in the recipe so make sure you pick a beer that you enjoy. The original recipe did not specify a type of curry paste or a type of pepper; we hit up our local Asian food store to buy the curry paste. Please don’t buy name-brand, mainstream curry paste: the flavor is always weak, diluted, and not even close to authentic. The brand we normally buy is MAESRI; they sell a variety of types of curry paste and we’ve been able to find them in several Asian supercenters. We picked green curry because the ingredients sounded the closest to the flavors in this recipe; we bought the Serrano pepper for the same reason.

Mussels review: We gave this recipe a solid 4 stars. The broth was tasty and nicely accented by the cilantro; the spice level was appropriate; and the mussels themselves were soft and tender. We are going to freeze all of the leftover broth and make shrimp curry with it in a few weeks. Yum!

Curried Grilled Squash

Ingredients:

  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1 large yellow squash

Sauce:

  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • 1 tsp Badia curry powder
  • 1 tsp Spanish paprika
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional: ½ tsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

Directions:

1) Whisk all of the sauce ingredients (except lemon juice) together in a bowl until combined; set aside.

2) Wash zucchini and squash; halve both vegetables and slice into thin (1/8”) pieces.

3) Using a pastry brush and liberally brush both sides of every slice of squash and zucchini.

4) Grill veggies about 4 minutes per side.

5) Add lemon juice to veggies and serve.

Notes: If you are like me and don’t have a pastry brush, you can use your hands to spread the sauce on the veggies; it’s a little messy but it gets the job done. We did not put any brown sugar in the sauce and it was still tasty; I just thought that a little sweetness would have been given the sauce some nice depth.

Review: The squash was solidly good but not terribly exciting; for that reason, I gave it 3 stars (out of 5). I enjoyed the squash (and The Boyfriend ate it, which is great because he isn’t a squash fan) but I have made other squash recipes that I like better (remember Cannibalistic Squash? Now that is a “Wow!” squash recipe).

The Boyfriend and I shared a side salad and some tasted and buttered sourdough bread, in addition to the mussels and squash. Overall, we both gave the meal a solid 4 stars; I was quite happy with the balance of flavors and textures that this meal presented.

Ok so end-of-blog question time: what’s your favorite indulgent, so-bad-it’s-bad food?

Barbacoa? I hardly know ya!

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Barbacoa? I hardly know ya!

Today’s post is all about ease and I cannot think of an easier recipe than pork barbacoa (barbacoa is Mexican-style barbeque). Really, cooking anything in a crock pot pretty much guarantees minimal work on your part and this recipe in particular is way easy: it has less than 10 ingredients and only 2 of those ingredients require any prep work. So start this cookin’ in your crock pot before you head off to work and reap the benefits of sweet, spicy, succulent pork that will be waiting for you when you get home.

Pork Barbacoa
From a recipe adapted from Joelen’s Blogspot

Ingredients:

  • 5-6 pound pork roast
  • 5-8 cloves garlic
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 12 oz bottle Valentina hot sauce
  • 20 oz Coke
  • Water

Directions:

1) Chop the garlic cloves and slice the onion.

2) Place pork roast in a crock pot; add garlic and onion.

3) Add water halfway to crock pot to halfway cover roast. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

4) Drain water and add remaining ingredients. Cook 4-6 more hours on low.

5) Remove pork from crock pot and shred with forks (or fingers!)

This recipe is a favorite with The Boyfriend and I because of its simplicity and versatility. We made tacos with it for dinner tonight (tortillas, pork, avocado, lime juice, and cilantro) and we could make burritos with it (perhaps with cilantro rice, black beans, and pico de gallo?), nachos (with queso and cilantro and black olives), or sandwiches (with avocado, cilantro, and melted mozzarella). A 5-6 lb roast will feed two people for a full week so if you are okay with reinventing leftovers, this is an economical purchase. We buy the Valentina black label which is spicier than their red label sauce. If you’re not a fan of heat, go for the red label or switch the Valentina for another Mexican hot sauce that is too your liking.

The tacos we made: pork, cilantro, avocado, and lime juice. Yum!!
Yes, The Boyfriend is wearing swim goggles. We both have an aversion to onion fumes and when we found my old goggles (from my high school swim team!), we decided to implement them in the kitchen. FYI: they work supremely well.

This pork is going to pop-up in the next few blog posts so keep an eye out!

Vegetarian crispy potato tacos

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Vegetarian crispy potato tacos

I am trying to cook (and post) more vegetarian recipes; it is good for me and The Boyfriend to eat less meat and I’d also like to accommodate vegetarian readers. I think it is fair to expect at least 1 vegetarian (or vegetarian-friendly) recipe per week.

I’m sure you know (or can guess) that eating less meat is beneficial to you health but I didn’t know just how beneficial adopting one meat-free day a week could be! According to Greenjoyment, foregoing meat just one day a week can:

  • Reduce your consumption of saturated fat by 15 percent, lowering risk of diseases such as heart attacks, strokes and cancer.
  • Lower your body fat, help curb obesity, and, according to a recent study from Imperial College London, prevent long-term weight gain.
  •  If you are eating less meat, it stands to reason that you are eating more vegetables. And by eating veggies, fruits, grains, and legumes on a regular basis, it can:
  • Increase their disease-fighting benefits.
  • Help you lower your intake of saturated fat and total fat by increasing your intake of fiber, protein, zinc, iron and magnesium.

In addition to all of the wonderful health benefits, Meatless Mondays are also great for the planet! By not eating meat just once a week, you:

  • Reduce your carbon footprint!
  • Use less water! Livestock requires far more water than vegetables or grains (1,800-2,500 gallons of water go into a single pound of beef vs. 220 gallons of water per pound of tofu).
  • Reduce use of fossil fuels! On average, about 40 calories of fossil fuel energy go into every calorie of feed lot beef in the U.S, compared to the 2.2 calories of fossil fuel energy needed to produce one calorie of plant-based protein.
  • Reduce ammonia emission and carbon dioxide emissions since almost 2/3s of the human related ammonia emissions and 9% of human activity related carbon dioxide emissions are due to livestock.
  • Protect wildlife environment: 30% of the Earth’s land that used to be occupied by wildlife is now occupied by livestock.

So many benefits for such a small lifestyle change, right? Without further ado, the recipe:

 Crispy Potato Tacos

Adapted from a recipe at Shop, cook, make

Ingredients:

  • 3 Yukon-gold potatoes
  • ½ white onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil OR 1 tbsp olive oil + 1 tbsp bacon grease
  • 2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp Spanish paprika
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp Badia Complete Seasoning
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional: 1.5-2 oz tequila
  • Small tortillas
  • Toppings for tacos (avocado, more cilantro, tomatoes, lettuce, etc)

 Directions

1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2) Peel the potatoes and cut into small cubes.

3) Chop the pepper, onion and garlic; add to chopped potatoes in a bowl.

4) Add the oil(s) and all spices to bowl of ingredients; mix until potatoes/onions/peppers are all evenly covered in oil and spices.

5) Add cilantro and tequila (if using) to mixture; mix again.

6) Cook for 20-25 minutes; turn oven to broil and cook an additional 5-7 until brown and crispy.

So much tasty

Close-up on the crispy potato goodness

I created a toppings station with all of the extras for the tacos:

The Boyfriend added chopped pickled jalapeno and chopped avocado to his tacos; I added lettuce, tomato, and chopped avocado to mine. We also both used a little bit of cilantro, a twist of lemon, and Chalula hot sauce on the tacos. To keep these tacos healthy, neither of us used cheese or sour cream; however we both used a little bit of ranch dressing (well, I used about a teaspoon for both tacos; The Boyfriend used closer to a tablespoon). The combination of the Chalula with the ranch dressing was really great: spicy and creamy, over the smoky flavor and chewy texture of the potatoes. Yum!

The great thing about this dish (besides the flavor) is how versatile it is. These potatoes can be a side dish, served with a fried egg on top for breakfast, or used for a filling in tacos, burritos, or enchiladas. I know this wasn’t strictly vegetarian thanks to the addition of bacon grease but it’s an easy swap to make it friendly for the non-meat eaters. I added the bacon grease mostly because I had it lying around and I’ve been itching to use it for weeks; but if you’ve got it (and feel favorable towards bacon), I recommend it because it really adds a nice smokiness. I also highly recommend the tequila; it was a nice touch. Mmm…

This was The Boyfriend’s favorite recipe this week! Since he is a self-proclaimed carnivore, seeing him rave over the tacos was a pleasant surprise.

Although maybe the reason that The Boyfriend enjoyed this meal also had to do with the margaritas we made…

Beer-liscious Margaritas

For 2 margaritas

Ingredients:

  • 2 shots (3 oz) tequila
  • 2 oz triple sec
  • 2 oz lemon juice
  • 2 oz simple syrup
  • 6 oz beer
  • Salt, for rim

Directions:

1) Add all ingredients except beer to shake; add ice to shaker and shake until cold.

2) Salt the rim of two martini glasses; divide mixture equally between the two glasses.

3) Fill to the top with beer and enjoy!

Beautiful bubbles!

We may have had more than one a-piece, haha. They are just so darn tasty! We used the super economical (and relatively tasty) Genessee Cream Ale for the beer. I think Corona, Modelo or Dos Equis would have been better but Genessee worked out fine. Baxically you want a light beer that is complimented by lemon or lime. I also recommend making a lot of simple syrup ahead of time (equal parts sugar and boiling water) and just keeping it around for future use in cocktails or sweet tea.

I need some vegetarian recommendations; do you have a favorite vegetarian recipe you can share with me?

PS Did I mention that The Boyfriend brought me flowers? They really brightened my day and my dining room!

Amaretto days and Star Trek nights

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Amaretto days and Star Trek nights

So I’m just going to jump right into the recipes this time!

Amaretto Chicken

Adapted from a recipe at Lol Foodie

Ingredients:

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2-3 tbsp goat cheese, at room temperature
  • 3 thin slices of prosciutto
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 6 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 3 tbsp peanut oil
  • ¾ cup chicken stock
  • 1/8 cup Amaretto liqueur
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

1) Start by pounding out the chicken breasts. Place a breast in a large Ziploc bag; using a meat hammer (or regular hammer). Pound the chicken until it is very thin, about 1/8″ thick; repeat with other 2 chicken breasts.

2) Season both sides of your chicken with salt and pepper.

3) Spread each chicken breast half with a little less than 1 tbsp of the softened goat cheese. Top with 1 slice of the prosciutto.

4) Roll the chicken into a tight cylinder; tie with kitchen twine. Dredge each chicken “roll” in flour.

5) Melt 1 tbsp of butter over medium-high heat in a skillet (don’t use nonstick).

6) Add the mushrooms; cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove the mushrooms to a plate, and set aside.

7) Add the remaining butter and peanut oil to the skillet (still over medium-high). Once melted, add in the chicken rolls.

8) Cook for about 4 minutes on each side, turning 4 times, for a total of 16 minutes. Remove the chicken to the plate with mushrooms.

9) Add the chicken broth to the skillet; being careful about a flare-up, add the Amaretto.

10) Bring the sauce up to a boil, and stir/scrape to deglaze all the bits from the bottom of the pan. Simmer for 5 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced by a third.

11) Return the chicken and mushrooms to the skillet, turning to coat in the sauce and heating through.

No step-by-step pictures again—I’m sorry. But Lol Foodie has wonderful photos that accompany the recipe; if you need help, refer to the original recipe. And ok, yeah, I know this doesn’t sound too healthy: there is liqueur and goat cheese and prosciutto involved for goodness sake! I did modify a few things from the original recipe in the name of health: I decreased the amount of goat cheese (which I would usually frown upon); increased the amount of chicken in the equation (from half a breast to one whole breast per “roll”); and I traded some of the butter for olive oil. In addition, I limited myself to half of a “roll” with my large salad and side of carrots. In other words, it could have been a lot worse.

Did I mention that this was delicious? It was: the outside was so brown and crispy; the inside was moist chicken and creamy goat cheese and smoky, salty prosciutto.

Basil carrots

Adapted from a recipe by Jason and Shawnda

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb whole carrots
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • Optional: feta cheese

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2) Peel the carrots and halve lengthwise.

3) Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and basil.

4) Cover baking sheet with aluminum foil; spread carrots on the baking sheet and cover with more foil.

5) Roast for 40 minutes.

6) If desired, add feta cheese to top of carrots before serving.

These were tasty! I decided to roast them the way that I normally do rather than the method suggested in the original recipe. The recipe also suggested thyme, which I didn’t have, so I happily substituted the fresh basil I had on hand.

When I pulled the carrots out of the oven, I thought at first that I had burned them; the ends were black and slightly charred looking. I happily found out that the suspicious black pieces of carrot were just caramelized; they had a great chewy texture and a nice sweet and smoky flavor.

The next day (Sunday) was Star Trek night at our friends’ home; these friends started the weekly tradition and so every Sunday we travel to their house to watch, drink, and watch Captains Kirk, Picard, Sisko, Janeway and Archer traverse space and battle foes. I’ve never been a Trekkie but I’m finding that I enjoy Star Trek the more that I watch of it.

Anyway, I really wanted to bring something to our latest gathering because our friends are so nice to host us every week and they usually have snacks and booze for us. And that bring us to snacks! You might see a repeat of a few ingredients from other recipes I used this week and that’s because I like to use what I have in the fridge and cupboards as much as I can; that’s also why I have so many adaptations to recipes that I found online.

Roasted Garlic

Adapted from a recipe at Life’s Ambrosia

Ingredients:

  • 1 bulb (or head) garlic
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • Salt

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2) Cut ¼ inch off the top of the bulb of garlic to expose the cloves beneath; do not peel the garlic: you want to roast it in the skin.

3) Place bulb on a piece of aluminum foil; place butter on top of bulb, pour lemon juice over the garlic and sprinkle with salt.

4) Bring up all sides of aluminum foil and twist together to close.

5) Cook for 60 minutes or until garlic cloves are soft and golden in color. Allow to cool.

6) To eat, remove garlic cloves with a fork and spread on top of French bread or good crackers.

If you have never eaten roasted garlic, you are missing out. The flavor is milder, sweeter, and deeper than that of raw or sautéed garlic. It is fantastic with in pasta or on poultry or steak; it is just as great with a nice cheese on a great piece of bread. Seriously, make some now. You won’t regret it.

The next recipe comes from a novel. I recently finished ready Signora da Vinci by Robin Maxwell; the book is a fictionalized account of Leonardo da Vinci’s mother, Caterina. It is a really enthralling read and it is very well-written. In it, the character Caterina da Vinci often makes a compote that her aunt taught her to make. “Compote” is French for mixture but it seems to usually mean a mixture of either fruits or meats cooked on a low temperature for a long time; the result is that the meat or fruit breaks down and the flavors of the dish combine. This particular compote is made with olives and grapes and fresh herbs. Yes, I am aware of how unusual this combination sounds; The Boyfriend was quite vocal in his doubts as well, and to be honest I was a little unsure of how the flavors would combine. Well all of the doubts were for naught as the compote was delicious and well-received by everyone at Star Trek night.

Grape and Olive Compote

Adapted from a recipe by Robin Maxwell

Ingredients:

  • 1 jar Kalamata olives, pits removed
  • Equal amount red seedless grapes + 3 tbsp
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped herb (thyme, basil, or rosemary)

Directions:

1) Mix all ingredients in an ovenproof dish and bake uncovered for one hour at 350 degrees, turning the fruit every 15 minutes with a spoon to recoat them with the oil and vinegar.

2) Serve warm or cold with soft goat cheese on crusty bread or with crackers, or use as a side dish with fish or poultry.

My total snack spread wound up being goat cheese, a bulb of roasted garlic, the olive-grape compote, some slices of Muenster and Habanero cheddar cheeses, pan-fried prosciutto, and a loaf of sliced Italian bread. I’m big on bread and cheese so I was quite content with the finished product; and yes, this was my dinner for the evening, haha.

Ok, so end-of-blog question time: what is your favorite food/recipe to bring to a party?

Nostalgia circle

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Nostalgia circle

I’ve been a little sentimental this week, thinking of all of my friends (whom I miss very much) that live elsewhere. When I got to making the grocery list for the week, I was still in nostalgia-land and so I decided to make chicken adobo. This is a Filipino recipe that reminds me of a great friend—and great chef!—Alberto, who is from the Philippines. Alberto made pork adobo and brought it to share at a recent burn and it was fantastic. Since I can’t have Alberto here right now (boo! He is a great person and gives the best hugs) then at least I can have a taste of his home.

Chicken Adobo

PigPig’s Corner

 Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken thighs, skin on
  • ½ white onion, sliced
  • 5 garlic cloves, smashed and quartered
  • 1/8 cup vinegar (apple cider or white)
  • 1/8 cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 bay leaves, dried or fresh
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorn
  • 1 handful fresh basil, torn

Directions:

1. Heat up a bit of oil in a large pot. Brown chicken pieces on all sides. Leave aside for later use.

2. In the same pot, fry onions until softened and translucent, about 5-7 minutes.

3. Add garlic and fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

4. Add all the other ingredients (including chicken) to pot.

5. Bring to boil then reduce heat to simmer until sauce thickened, about 30-45 minutes.

6. Stir in basil and serve over rice.

The chicken was really tasty and beyond easy. It made enough for about 6 meals for us because The Boyfriend eats an entire thigh per meal and I eat about ½ a piece. When I told Alberto about making adobo, he gave some great advice for the leftovers:

“Shred the chicken while reducing the sauce (or add cornstarch + water) to thicken. Fry shredded chicken and top with thickened sauce. Great with rice and fried eggs or in a sandwich with slices of tomato.”

It sounds like a tasty way to eat up the leftover chicken; The Boyfriend and I will probably give it a try for lunch tomorrow.

I served the chicken with a great veggie stir-fry and jasmine rice.

For the stir-fry, I used carrots, broccoli, yellow cauliflower, green onion, and red pepper. It was a nice accompaniment to a yummy meal.

Yellow cauliflower: more nutritious regular cauliflower!  And our grocery store was out of the normal stuff. The Boyfriend said that he preferred the taste of the  yellow cauliflower actually, even though I thought they tasted the same.

I’m sorry that I have such random pictures lately. It’s just been difficult to coordinate prep work and cooking and cleaning with taking step-by-step photos. I’ll try to get better pictures in the coming weeks.

Yay Pepsi Throwback! Made with real sugar and tastes way better than regular canned Pepsi. Mmm!

I’m trying this new “end posts with a question” thing so tonight’s question: do you have any nostalgic food? Foods that you make or eat when you feel sentimental or food that makes you feel sentimental?

I’m trying this new “end posts with a question” thing so tonight’s question: do you have any nostalgic food? Foods that you make or eat when you feel sentimental or food that makes you feel sentimental?

Quick update and an easy recipe

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Update! My job interviews went well; that’s right interviews. I got a phone call that turned into a phone interview right after I got home from my first interviews. Fingers crossed that one of these turns into a full-time position for me!

In celebration of two successful interviews, The Boyfriend and I hit Home Depot again to pick up some curtain rods; tonight I will say good-bye to ugly bedroom blinds and a stupid closet door and hello to pretty bedroom curtains! Yay!

 Ugly blinds before

Pretty curtain after!

Space-wasting closet door before

Pretty new closet curtain after!

 Ok, quick recipe time! I bought some delicious blue cheese (mmm) at our local co-op and after nom-ing on a small snack of Miss Vickie’s jalapeno potato chips and blue cheese, I decided to make dinner. I had 2 goals for dinner tonight: I needed dinner to be easy and I also wanted to clean out the fridge of leftovers. Voila! Miracle chicken was born (I called it Miracle because it tasted too good to be so easy).

 Miracle Chicken  

Ingredients:

  • 1 chicken breast, seasoned and cooked
  • 4 oz mushrooms
  • ½ white onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 oz blue cheese
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp seasoned bread crumbs
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

 Directions:

1) Chop up the garlic and onion; wash and dry mushrooms.

2) Heat olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat; add garlic, onion, and mushrooms. Salt and pepper the mixture and sauté for 5-7 minutes.

3) Add balsamic vinegar to skillet and cook mushroom mixture for another minute or until brown and slightly crunchy; remove from skillet.

4) Butterfly cooked chicken breast; spoon mushroom mixture over the chicken breast. Top with blue cheese and breadcrumbs.

5) Broil chicken for 2-3 minutes or until cheese is melted and breadcrumbs are browned. Eat ½ of the portion and serve with a giant salad to assuage the guilt.

 No pictures, sorry; I ate it too fast! This was delicious. And decadent. And easy. And I didn’t feel that it was too bad for me since I only ate a small portion. If you’re nervous about blue cheese, I urge you to try it; yeah, it has a strong smell and is kind of gross if you think about the fact that it’s moldy but it’s also creamy and unctuous and it can really be the belle of the ball in a dish like this. I guess if you have a strong aversion to blue cheese, you could probably swap the blue for goat cheese, but I really recommend the blue.

‘K, that’s it for tonight. New tradition: Question of the Blog! Tonight’s question: what is your favorite cheese? I think I need to work on my question-asking skills…