Tag Archives: Tex-mex

Necesito mas cervezas

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My mom and I are learning Spanish courtesy of her boyfriend (although this phrase I learned from my good friend Cristina). But the title really has nothing to do with the post, beyond the fact that I like to cook and I like beer.

Once again it has been busy around here and, once again, I’ve been neglecting my blog. I am sorry readers and I wish that my blog didn’t suffer form my busy-ness. To make it up to you I am going to give you a nice long blog to catch you up on everything:

1) I think I mentioned a while back that my mom fell and broke her back the week after she helped me and The Boyfriend move into our apartment in New York. Well, her doctor did bone scans and they found lesions and the lesions are cancer. So we are in Atlanta where my mom’s doctors are and she is going to be starting IPT chemo later this week or early next week. She is going to be all right but we appreciate all healing thought and positivity sent towards her!

2) We were staying with a friend of my mom’s but things weren’t working out (apparently we are too loud and messy) so we moved into an extended-stay hotel. It’s a bit small but it’s closer to the clinic and less stressful than being at my mom’s friend’s place.

3) For the next few weeks my recipes might be fewer than usual and…simpler than usual since our kitchen looks like this:

 That’s our kitchen: just 2 burners, a microwave and a mini-fridge. There is no oven, very little counter space, and no kitchen appliances, fancy or otherwise.

Nope. It doesn’t look any bigger from a different angle.

For the next few weeks, everything I make will be made with 1 pot and/or 1 pan. And since our fridge is the size of a postage stamp:

I will be cooking less than usual. For instance, I am only cooking 1 or 2 dinners a week because we have to completely finish all leftovers before there is enough fridge space to house something else.  Did I mention that my mom has dietary restrictions? This means little to no sugar, wheat, gluten, dairy, pork, and red meat in my recipes for the next few weeks as I do my best to cook around her dietary restrictions.

Whew! Now that that’s covered I though that I’d catch you up on some old recipes (i.e. from 2-3 weeks ago) today and introduce more recent ones in the next post. These first three recipes are ones that I lost in the shuffle of everything that’s been going on lately, starting with

Tostadas. I love tostadas; honestly, I think it has more to do with the queso fresco and salsa than anything else. And maybe too it’s because of memories: the last 2 years in school a couple (Jessica and Carlos) came into one of the school’s lounge spaces on the weekends to make and sell food. Jessica is (I think) Columbian and Mexican and Carlos is Dominican and Mexican and they shared their life and their background through the food that they made: tacos, tostadas, rice and beans, empanadas, quesadillas, and arepas with guava and cheese. Jessica and Carlos have 3 kids and like a lot of people in this economy were looking for an extra source to supplement their income. I don’t know exactly how they happened upon the college kitchen but I am sure glad they did! Besides the fact that their food was always fresh, affordable, and available on the weekends, Jessica and Carlos are really nice, very intelligent people. They were always friendly and tolerant of the college environment and they took the time to get to know people. I have missed them since graduating, especially since I didn’t get a chance to say good-bye and get contact info from them. So I guess that’s what I think of when I eat tostadas: I think of college on the weekends (fun!) and the wonderful Jessica and Carlos. I do miss it all. Anyway, enough nostalgia—here’s the recipe:

Shrimp Tostadas

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 5 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 4 tbsp olive oil divided
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • ½ tsp or so each paprika, cayenne, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, oregano, pinch brown sugar, salt and pepper
  • Corn tortillas and Pam or other baking spray OR bag of tostadas

To top tostadas:

  • Chopped avocado
  • Best salsa ever
  • Queso fresco
  • Lettuce
  • Chopped tomato
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Greek yogurt

 Directions:

1) Mix 2 tbsp olive oil, vinegar, and all spices; add to a Ziploc bag with shrimp, onion, and chopped garlic. Let marinate for 1-2 hours in fridge.

2) When you’re ready to cook the shrimp, heat 2 tsp oil in pan over medium high heat.

3) Dump contents of bag into pan; cook 5-6 minute or until shrimp is cooked through.

4) While the shrimp is cooking, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with tinfoil.

5) Spray corn tortillas with Pam; cook for 5-10 minutes or until corn tortillas are crispy (skip this step if you bought a bag of tostadas).

6) To serve, put all toppings on the table. Assemble tostadas: spread Greek yogurt or sour cream on the crispy corn tortilla. Top with lettuce, shrimp, chopped tomato, cilantro, and avocado. Finish with crumbled queso fresco and salsa.

Good cheese is pretty crucial here. I recommend hitting up your local Mexican super market to find the authentic stuff: it tastes better and is less expensive than you’ll find at the grocery store. If you can’t find good queso fresco, mozzarella will work. I also recommend the Best Salsa or another spicy, restaurant-style salsa; Pace or Tostitos won’t do this recipe any favors.

Because I am such a creature  of habit (and because I don’t know another healthy side dish that compliments Mexican/Tex-Mex food) I made the corn and bean salad again. I am starting to think that my lack of side dish creativity is the reason we don’t eat Mexican/Tex-Mex as often as we’d like. The only other side dish I have run across that would complement a Mexican/Tex-Mex meal is Spanish rice and I just hate making another starch when there is already a starch element to the meal (tortillas). Anyone have a suggestion for a healthy side with moar veggies?

And we usually just bring all of the toppings to the table and build our tostadas there; it winds up being less messy in the long run.

***To vegitize this meal, replace the shrimp with whatever protein you’d rather be eating: tofu, tempeh, chick’n, etc.***

Next!

40 Clove Chicken is one that I have been jonesing to make for a while now. The allure of 40 cloves of garlic in a single recipe is pretty hard to pass up, too hard apparently because I decided to use up all of my garlic in one evening to make it. Was it worth it? You betcha! Surprisingly it wasn’t as intensely garlicky as I thought (and would have liked) it to be. But it was creamy and mildly spicy and very tender and we wound up eating all of the leftovers, which usually indicates a well-liked recipe in my house.

40 clove chicken

Adapted from a recipe at For the Love of Cooking

Ingredients:

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of any fat
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (or duck and/or bacon fat)
  • Italian seasoning, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper to taste
  • 40 cloves of garlic
  • 1 white onion, sliced
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 2/3 cups of chicken broth
  • ¼ cup milk

Directions:

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees; then start separating the cloves of garlic and peeling them.

2) Place trimmed and halved chicken breast in a large zip lock bag. If necessary, pound the chicken breasts flat with a mallet until ½ inch thick.

3) Season with salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, and Italian seasoning to taste.

4) Heat the olive oil (or bacon/duck fat) in a large skillet over medium high heat. In batches, sauté the chicken smooth side down first, until nicely browned, about 3 minutes; flip the breasts and cook for 45 seconds then remove to a baking dish.

5) Once all the chicken has been removed, add the garlic and the onions to the pot. Lower the heat and sauté for 3-4 minutes, turning often; add the chicken stock, making sure to scrape all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan.

6) Season with salt, pepper, cayenne, and Italian seasonings if needed. Pour sauce over the chicken in the baking dish; cover with a lid or tinfoil and bake for 20 minutes. Reserve pan—do not wash!

7) Once the chicken has baked, carefully remove the chicken, onion, and garlic cloves to a platter and cover with lid or aluminum foil to stay warm.

8) Place the sauce in the large skillet that you cooked the meat in. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and milk with a little bit of the sauce.

9) Once it’s thoroughly mixed, slowly whisk the flour mixture back into the rest of the sauce. Add the butter to the sauce, raise the heat and boil for 3 minutes or until it’s nice and thick. Taste and re-season if needed. Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve.

The dish had a mellow, roasted garlic flavor rather than the aggressive, spicy flavor that I was expecting of so many cloves. I think mushrooms, a bit of bacon, and some white wine could have really elevated even beyond what it was but as it stood, it was damn good.

***If you wanted to make this minus the animal product, I bet it would taste just as good over chick’n; adjust cooking times accordingly.***

I’m a big fan of trying new veggies, especially ever since a friend of mine gave me a good piece of advice regarding food that you didn’t like as a kid. He told me to never say you don’t like a food until you have cooked it yourself. I’ve discovered that a lot of food that I ruled out as a kid (fish, Brussel sprouts, cooked carrots) I actually really like when I cook it. This week I decided to see if I could reclaim asparagus! I added the lemon juice, feta, and vinegar last-minute because it turns out that I don’t much like asparagus. But feta and lemon juice can save just about any vegetable side dish: I’ve used it on bland green beans, wilted spinach, and overcooked Brussel sprouts and I’ve got to say that it works every time. If you like asparagus, feel free to leave out the feta and lemon juice; if you wish you liked asparagus, maybe you should add it…

Roasted asparagus

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch asparagus, washed and trimmed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, quartered
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp feta cheese
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2) Toss asparagus with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper.

3) Add asparagus to cookie sheet; bake 15-30 minutes or until roasted (asparagus should be soft but not mushy).

4) Toss asparagus with lemon juice and feta; drizzle with balsamic vinegar and serve.

So that’s all the recipes from before upheaval, now for the ones since. Now, I only had time to make a couple of recipes while we had a full kitchen at our disposal. I made an old favorite, cod and mashed potatoes with Indian-spiced carrots; that one never gets old for me. I have been wanting to make this for my mom for a while now and this seemed like the perfect occasion: it fit all of her dietary needs and is such a warm, homey meal. This made a TON of food and since our temporary host can’t eat black pepper (oops!), my mom and I ate on this all week.

My mom and I are at her clinic here in Atlanta Monday thru Friday from about 9am until 5pm. For breakfasts I have been mostly eating yogurt or fruit and my mom gets fed lunch and snacks at the clinic. Since I’m not a patient, I don’t so I had to think of some easy portable lunches for me. As usual, my thoughts turned to lunch wraps…

Wraps are easy to make, ahead of time or on the spot; they taste pretty good and can be really nutritionally balanced. With this wrap, I really wanted something that could be a hot lunch if I chose (the clinic has a toaster oven) and would be filling but still healthy.

Warm turkey-avocado wrap

Ingredients (for 2):

  • 2 tortillas or wraps
  • 1 avocado
  • 4 pieces turkey breast
  • 2 pieces sharp cheddar
  • Handful lettuce
  • 6 tomato slices
  • 6 cucumber slices
  • Handful shredded carrots
  • Sliced sweet onion
  • Instant dressing
  • Black pepper

Directions:

1) Start by mashing the avocado; spread half of the mash on each tortilla and sprinkle with black pepper.

2) Put 2 pieces of turkey on each wrap, right in the center, with the edge of the turkey about ½ inch away from the edge of the wrap.

3) Lay tomato slices down the center of the wrap right on top of the turkey; add blacked pepper and then cheese.

4) Put wraps into a preheated oven or toasted oven on broil for 3-5 minutes or until cheese melts.

5) Remove wraps from toaster oven and top with tomato slices, lettuce, and shredded carrots.

6) Squeeze some instant dressing over the veggies and roll up wrap like a burrito; enjoy!

***This would be just as good (and probably as filling) without the turkey, so vegetarians/vegans, feel free to omit the meat.***

The wraps generally aren’t enough for me to stay full for 9 hours so I have been packing a small side salad that I can eat a couple of hours after my wrap. I found this super simple recipe on Foodgawker (of course) and made a couple of mods to it and it is delicious!

Very green salad

Adapted from a recipe at Salad Pride

Ingredients (for 3-4 salads):

  • Handful green-leaf lettuce
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1 pear, chopped
  • 2 oz blue brie cheese, sliced
  • 4 tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • Instant Dressing

Directions:

1) Wash and dry lettuce before putting it in a bowl.

2) Add chopped avocado, pear, cheese, and pumpkin seeds to lettuce; top with 1-2 tbsp salad dressing.

***Veg-friendly as is!!***

I accidentally added the pear—I misread the recipe and thought it was listed as an ingredient so I bought two at the grocery store. I only learned that it’s not in the original recipe when I started typing up this post! It is a nice addition, if I do say so myself. I also like how the salad looks: very green. Sorry that there are no pictures of this! I’ll try to get a pic the next time I make it and add it to the blog.So I am going to wrap this up for today but I’ll leave you with a sneak peek at what is going to be in my next post: pictures and stories of the last burn I went to (including costume pieces!) and plans for the next one in 5 weeks; TV gossip (remember when I used to do that?); tales of food in Atlanta; updates on my mom and Greek food constructed in our tiny “kitchen.”

Until next time!

Chop suey and holy mole chili

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Chop suey and holy mole chili

Since we just finished the leftovers from last week, I’m (again) overdue for posting the recipes. So here they are! These aren’t veggie-friendly as they stand but look for the ***astericks*** under the recipe for swaps!

 First on the list, chop suey. Chop suey literally means “assorted pieces” and it’s a stir-fry dish often consisting of a few types of meat and/or seafood and veggies. Because of this, it is very easy to customize chop suey to your taste preference or dietary restrictions.

 Chop suey

Adapted from a recipe at Angsarap

Ingredients:

  • 3 baby bok choy, cleaned
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 12 pieces baby corn
  • ½ head of broccoli
  • 6 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 4 oz water chestnuts
  • 4 oz bamboo shoots
  • ¾ lb shelled shrimps
  • ½ lb pork belly, diced
  • 10 oz chicken breast
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 small red onion
  • ½ red pepper
  • 3 tsp cornstarch (dissolved in ¼ cup water)
  • ¾ cup chicken stock
  • salt, pepper
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2-3 tbsp sriracha hot sauce
  • 2-3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce

 Directions:

1) Start by chopping everything and grouping them accordingly:

  • Chop garlic and red onion; add to the same bowl and set aside (we’re going to call this Bowl #1, or B1for short).

  • Chop broccoli, baby corn (if desired), and mushroom; set aside in same bowl (B2).

  • Chop bok choy and red pepper and add to same bowl; add water chestnuts, carrots, and bamboo shoots to bowl as well (B3). Set aside.

  • Chop shrimp, pork belly, and chicken.

2) Heat up a wok to high heat; add oil and B1 and sauté for 5 minutes.

3) Add pork and chicken; stir fry for 2 minutes.

4) Add B2 and continue to stir fry for 2 minutes.

5) Add B3 and shrimp and keep stir-frying for 2 more minutes.

6) Add chicken stock, soy sauce, sriracha, fish sauce and dissolved cornstarch; bring to a rapid boil.

7) Turn stove to simmer; add sugar, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Simmer 5 minutes or until you’re satisfied with the look/smell/taste of the chop suey. Serve over jasmine rice.

***To make this recipe vegetarian friendly, simply omit the meat and substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth. You could use extra firm tofu in this recipe or faux chicken breast or you could just add more veggies to make up for the lack of meat. Easy peasy.***

I enjoyed a nice, cold Saranac pumpkin ale while I was making dinner. That is a nice thing about NY state: lots of local breweries.

The other recipe I made this week was chili. This one was significant because I have never made chili by myself. I have only made my mom’s chili recipe which is awesome (and given to her by an old lady in the supermarket) and I wanted to try something different. So I stumbled across this chili mole recipe using ground turkey and it sounded like something fit for folks with adventurous appetites.

 Holy Mole Turkey Chili

Adapted from a recipe at Gonna want seconds

 Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • Oregano, ground cumin, chili powder, red pepper flakes, salt, black pepper, cinnamon to taste
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 14 oz can whole tomatoes
  • 1 ½ cups beef stock
  • 4 oz tomato sauce
  • 14 oz cans small white beans, rinsed, drained
  • 6 oz mushrooms
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • Oregano, ground cumin, chili powder, red pepper flakes, salt, black pepper, cinnamon to taste
  • Optional Toppings
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Plain Greek yogurt
  • Chalula hot sauce

Directions:

1) Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onions; sauté until light brown and tender, about 10 minutes.

2) Add oregano and cumin; stir 1 minute. Increase heat to medium-high. Add turkey, mushrooms, and red pepper; stir until the turkey is no longer pink, breaking up with back of spoon.

3) Stir in chili powder, red pepper flakes, cocoa powder, salt, black pepper, brown sugar and cinnamon.

4) Add tomatoes with their juices, breaking up with back of spoon.

5) Mix in stock and tomato sauce; bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

6) Add beans to chili and simmer until flavors blend, about 10 minutes longer. For best results: refrigerate overnight; remove fat before warming over medium-low heat.

7) Ladle chili into bowls; add cilantro, a few drops of Chalula hot sauce, and a tablespoon of Greek yogurt to bowls.

***This is a super easy recipe to vegify: use veg-friendly ground-beef replacement instead of ground turkey and swap veg stock for beef stock. Bam! Done.***

Review:

This chili was really easy to make and it was a big hit. I wish the chocolate flavor would have been stronger but it was still delicious. I have never added sour cream to chili before (I was raised on a “cheddar cheese in our chili” family) so I was pleasantly surprised by how yummy it was. And by using Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, I saved myself the fat and the calories. Yay! I love cilantro so I was a big fan of adding it to the bowls (another first for me!).

And now I think I am finally caught up on all of the recipes! It might be a few days before I cook anything interesting: a friend of ours just moved in with us! We haven’t seen him in a while so we are doing a lot of catching up and hanging out and eating out. But I want to establish a more normal posting schedule so that readers can know for sure when I’ll have a new blog up. So that’s what I’m working on. Until next time!

Playing catch-up!

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I have gotten quite behind on posting and a lot of my recipes fell to the wayside, so today is catch-up day. There are a lot of recipes, so bear with me. For my vegetarian readers, I am trying to make this blog more vegetarian friendly so look for the stars (***) under each recipe for my recommended alterations to make the recipe veg-friendly. I have to admit, I haven’t cooked a ton of vegetarian food so please comment and add your suggestions for veg-friendly swaps.

And now…away we go!

During the last week, The Boyfriend and I bought ingredients to make Thai basil chicken. This recipe was great for a couple of reasons: The Boyfriend and I are notorious for not eating leftovers so the fact that this recipe made just enough for 2 was great. The only problem with that was that it was so delicious! We enjoyed it so much that we wound up making it three times in a week! This recipe was easy and quick and I could eat it again this week in a heartbeat.

Thai Basil Chicken Recipe
Adapted from a recipe at Gimme Some Oven

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp Sriracha hot sauce
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 10 oz boneless skinless chicken breast, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 ½ tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 big bunch basil leaves, stems removed and leaves chopped
  • 1-2 tsp dried mint
  • 2 dashes ground white pepper

Directions:

1) Heat a wok or a heavy skillet over medium high heat until very hot.

2) Add the oil and garlic and stir fry until the garlic is very fragrant, about 30 seconds.

3) Add the onion and Sriracha and continue stir-frying until the onions have wilted, about 5 minutes.

4) Add the chopped chicken and fry until the chicken is cooked, about 5-7 minutes.

5) Stir in the fish sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar and white pepper; continue cooking until most of the liquid is gone.

6) Add the basil and toss a couple of time until the leaves are wilted and bright green. Serve immediately.

We used regular basil and dried mint instead of Thai basil, partially because we found beautiful basil at the farmers’ market and partially because The Boyfriend and I both find Thai basil a bit too strong in flavor for our tastes.

Lovely green basil from the farmers’ market!

***I’m not sure what you could sub the chicken for here to make it tasty but still vegetarian friendly; maybe extra-firm tofu that’s been marinating in a teriyaki sauce? Or perhaps portobello cap that has been sliced?***

We served it with jasmine rice. We have been without a rice cooker for a few months now and because of that, we’ve been laying off of the rice.

Chicken over rice

But since I discovered a (nearly) foolproof way to make jasmine rice on the stove, we have been eating a ton of it.

Jasmine Rice

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup jasmine rice
  • 1 ½ cup water

Directions:

1) Rinse rice in a colander until water runs clear; drain.

2) Add rice and water to a pot; cover.

3) Cook on high until water starts to boil; turn down to simmer and cook covered and undisturbed for 15 minutes.

4) Move pot off of hot burner; let rest for 5 minutes. Uncover and fluff with fork.

After repeated rice-making-fails, this one is a winner. I think we have made it successfully 5 times in the last 10 days. Yay!

Ok, another recipe from last week: chili rellenos. Since our deep-fryer is currently empty, we decided to take the opportunity to healthify the recipe by grilling the peppers. I sort of hodge-podged together two different recipes and the result was a success. Let’s start with ranchero sauce:

Ranchero Sauce

Adapted from a recipe at Closet Cooking

Ingredients:

  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • ½ small onion (diced)
  • 4 cloves garlic (chopped)
  • ½ jalapeno (seeded and diced)
  • 1small handful cilantro (chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Puree the tomatoes, onion, garlic, jalapeno and cilantro in a food processor.
2. Heat the oil in a pan.
3. Add the tomato mixture, chicken broth and cumin and season with salt and pepper.
4. Bring to a boil and simmer until it thickens, about 10 minutes.

Healthier Grilled Chili Rellenos

Adapted from a recipe at Once Upon a Plate

Ingredients:

  • 4 good-sized poblano pepper
  • 4 oz good quality mozzarella cheese + a small handful shredded cheese
  • Olive oil
  • Toothpicks

Directions:

1) Wash poblanos.

2) Optional: roast poblano peppers in the oven at 400 degrees for 5-10 minutes or until lightly blackened. Place peppers in Ziploc bag and let sweat for 5 minutes; after sweating, carefully peel peppers.

3) Slice stem/cap almost all of the way off of the pepper; flip back stem/cap to remove seeds and membrane.

4) Cut mozzarella into 1 oz chunks that are the size of pepper and stuff cheese into pepper.

5) Secure stem/cap with toothpicks, 2-3 toothpicks per pepper.

6) Brush poblano peppers lightly with olive oil and cook on hot grill; cook 2-3 minutes per side for roasted pepper or 5-8 minutes per side for raw peppers.

7) Optional: Put peppers in a casserole dish; cover with ranchero sauce and shredded cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

This was really tasty. We cut a few corners on our recipe (we didn’t roast the peppers or bake them with the sauce and cheese) but we thought that the recipe would have been even tastier had we not cut any corners; I put both options in the recipe so you can choose your route.

Empty plate = happy tummy!

We served it with a redo of the corn and black bean salad from a few weeks ago and our beer margaritas.

For my lunch last week, I decided to make dumplings. Again, I cobbled together a few recipes and they came out pretty good.

Chicken Dumplings

Adapted from a recipe at Weekend Food Projects

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1 package dumpling wrappers

Directions:

1) Mix all the ingredients in medium bowl and refrigerate for one hour.

2) Use a teaspoon to measure the amount of mixture. Place the filling into the center of the dumpling wrapper and wrap or just seal.

To cook:

1) Place a non-stick pan on medium-high heat with two tablespoons of vegetable oil.

2) Place the dumplings in the pan in a single layer; cook dumplings until the bottoms are brown. Flip dumplings so that all sides get brown.

3) Add about 1/4 cup of water to the pan and cover the pan with a lid and let it cook for three to four minutes. Once the water has evaporated, your dumplings are done.

OR:

1) Steam dumplings in well-greased steamer for 5-6 minutes.

I found a great technique for folding dumplings on Fuss Free Cooking: there are step-by-step instructions with pictures! I still had to have The Boyfriend demonstrate the folding technique; he was really good at it! Mine all came out a little lumpy but his were really nice looking.

I folded one just intuitively

and then one where I used a fork to seal the edges

before I succumbed to the “normal” technique.

That’s mine in the front and The Boyfriend’s in the background. His is much more symmetrical than mine. Luckily they all cook up the same 🙂

Eventually we figured out where I was going wrong so my last two dumplings came out okay, haha.

We made so many!

I made a batch of about 50 of them and froze them in bags of five. If you steam them from frozen, add an extra minute or two to make sure that they are done.

***If you wanted to make these vegetarian, I bet you could sub crumbled TVP or chopped tofu (or even sweet potatoes, if you wanted to get creative) for the chicken; and if you added extra veggies and herbs to the filling (chopped carrots, fresh ginger, etc) they would be quite tasty. Hmm, maybe I’ll have to try that now…***

I also made some summer rolls and while they were good, the recipe wasn’t good enough to brag out. I do think that I rolled them nicely so I am going to photo-brag about that! Haha.

Bam! Pretty summer rolls.

They had cucumber, avocado, and crab-stick in them, in case you were curious.

***Replacing the crab stick with marinated tofu, sweet potaotes, or any number of veggies makes it veg-friendly!***

More recipes! The Boyfriend’s birthday was a while back so we had a small get-together at our house. I made some great party dips for the revelers and even though I don’t have any pictures (it was so hectic, sorry!) I wanted to post the recipes because they were really delicious.

Best fresh salsa

Adapted from a recipe at Kayotic

Ingredients:

  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 medium shallot
  • 1 medium roma tomato
  • About 10 slices of pickled jalapenos
  • 2 garlic clove
  • Handful of cilantro
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
  • Ground cumin
  • Salt
  • Pinch of sugar

Directions:

1) Coarsely chop shallot, garlic, and tomato; add to a food processor or mini chopper.
2) Add the salt, a pinch of sugar to cut the acidity of the tomatoes and the ground cumin.
3) Pour in the diced tomatoes; squeeze in the fresh lime juice and add the cilantro.
4) Blend until it reaches desired consistency.

The Boyfriend and I have made a lot of salsa but we have never found a recipe that stuck…until now! We are in LOVE with this recipe! The color was beautiful and the flavor was outstanding: spicy and fresh. The pinch of sugar did cut the acidity which was wonderful. I blended it until it had the consistency of restaurant salsa and it tasted as good as anything I’ve had in a restaurant (and better than some that I have had!).

When we were choosing dips to make, we wanted to keep costs low so we chose dips that could all be eaten with tortilla chips and that would complement each other. I wanted to make something with avocados that would keep longer than guacamole and when I stumbled upon this recipe, I decided to give it a try. It was pretty good: creamy and spiced and different. Mmm…

Hank’s Tomatillo-Avocado Dip

Adapted from a recipe by Hungry Texan

Ingredients:

  • 1 poblano pepper
  • ½ white onion
  • 1 large can tomatillos, drained
  • 1 Serrano pepper
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 4 Hess avocados
  • Juice from 2 limes

Directions:
1) Roast the poblano, onion, Serrano, and jalapeño in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes.

2) Peel the poblano, stem and de-seed the Serrano and jalapenos.

3) Add all of the ingredients to the food processor and run until smooth and creamy.

4) Season to taste with salt and a bit of garlic salt.

The last dip was the crowd-favorite for the day. Since this was the first year in a few that we didn’t do a seafood boil for The Boyfriend’s birthday, I decided to incorporate seafood in a dip. As is the theme for this post it seems, I combined a recipe for crab dip that I found online with an artichoke dip recipe that my college advisor used to bring into class. The result was a hit!

Creamy Stovetop Crab Dip

Adapted from a recipe at Annies Eats
Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ white onion, minced
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 12 oz. canned lump crab meat
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ½ cup light mayonnaise
  • 8 oz can water chestnuts, drained
  • 14 oz canned artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • ½ cup bread crumbs
  • ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp Sriracha
  • Paprika
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add the onion and sauté until tender, about 7 minutes.

2) Add the crab meat to the pan, including the juices in the can. Stir in the cream cheese, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, green onions, mayonnaise, Sriracha, water chestnuts and artichoke hearts; cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until all the ingredients are warmed through Season with salt and pepper.

3) Spoon mixture into a casserole dish and sprinkle paprika on top. Top mixture with breadcrumbs and pop in the oven for 7 minutes or until breadcrumbs are browned. Serve with warm bread or tortilla chips.

***You could just omit the crab here to make a vegetarian-friendly artichoke dip, if you like. Adding mushrooms to it would give it another nice texture, to replace the texture lost when the crab is removed.***

Ok, I think that wraps up this recipe roundup. I have more recipes from this week that I am going to try to get out in a timely manner so keep an eye here for that. I’m also joining our local grocery co-op tomorrow so I’ll have an update on that and what it is like to shop there!

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!