Monday, March 30, 2009

mexican-french fusion

i have been craving a buritto from chipotle, full of pico de gallo, guacamole & cheese.... but i have not been anywhere near chipolte for a while. so i decided to make myself a faux-chipotle-buritto, since i did have pico de gallo, avocados & cheese. i diced up two avocados and added a few grinds of pepper and a pinch of sea salt and proceeded to smash them up. next, i added a heaping spoonfull of the pico de gallo. then i realized that i have no tortillas. no problem though! i did have a bit of a mini-baguette leftover. so i cut a piece off and ripped out the insides then filled one side with the salsa, one side with the guacamole, and put a few bits of cheddar on.
not bad if i do say so myself!
tomorrow i will make a salad with some lettuce, the rest of the salsa & some guacamole.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Magical Pork

I have TWO good excuses for not posting in awhile. Excuse #1 is that a dastardly stomach bug derailed all cooking over the weekend and I am just now getting back on my culinary feet. Excuse #2 is that I have no camera and so I can't use any real photos like my Spoon with a Purpose Colleagues. However, a camera is in the mail, so expect real photos soon.

So, in the midst of Stomach Bug Gate 2009, I made Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Tacos from Real Simple. (I think Real Simple is a great resource for easy, healthy, fast meals and other ideas. I could spend DAYS on that website.) I slow-cooked the pork on Friday, got sick on Saturday, and avoided all things pork until Sunday night when I felt like I could handle it. But that's beside the point. The point is: Holy Good Tacos, Batman! (As Hubs would say.) For as little expense and effort as they demanded, they turned out super, duper delicious. All the ingredients combined to coat the pork shoulder in a mole-like flavor that was superb.

I'm sure the recipe is great if you follow it exactly, but I had some extra cole slaw mix I wanted to use, so I chopped up the cilantro, mixed it into the cole slaw mix, drizzled lime juice on it and put it on the tacos.

Pinche sabroso.

Monday, March 9, 2009

enjoying a brief moment of spring weather

this weekend we had some beautiful weather! well, depending on what you are used to.... anyway it was about 50* and kind of sunny. after a nice walk on the breakwater, we decided it was a perfect day for some outdoors cooking and dining. today there is a lot of snow again. :(
jake is a big fan of burgers, so that is what was on the menu.
my dad has a great burger recipe, but he was out of town so i had to ask my brother how to get started. i mixed just over 1 lb. of ground angus beef with the bottom 1/2 of a hamburger roll that i made into bread crumbs. to that i added one egg, a splash (maybe about 1/4 cup?) of milk, and a tablespoon or so of worcestershire sauce. (the recipe called for some italian-salad-dressing-mix, that stuff that comes in a packet and you mix with oil and vinegar, but i didn't have any)

i gently mixed up all the stuff and made it into 3 patties, compressing just enough to make it stick together. at that point, we realized that the outdoor grill was not going to work, so we used a grill pan. (which i unfortunately neglected to spray and we had some stickage!)

we also had some grilled zucchini and yellow squash, which must have come from somewhere else, because there is not anything growing 
here yet. but they were really good, wherever they came from.

in addition to the grilled food, we also had a 1/2 sour pickle from the 
deli, some chips and some magic hat #9 (which is one of the only beers 
that i like). we also had some unexpected guests - a couple of the neighborhood turkeys. at least the mean one was nowhere to be seen or we would have had to go inside, cause he chases people (and cars) and fights them off!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Fried Custard Squares and Patient Spouse.

As a working-from-home mother of a 5 month old, I have found that my cooking or baking opportunities come when one would least expect. For instance, my husband gets home around 6pm, and do I have dinner waiting on the table for him? no. Do I hand him the baby and get to work in the kitchen? nope. Normally the two of us will hem and haw about dinner options for an hour until he makes dinner while I prop my feet up... or I'll quickly dash out of the house (escape!!!) to pick up salads from Chipotle. This is the case at least 3 days out of the work-week. Sounds like I take it pretty easy, huh? Much to my husband's admonishment, that is not always the case. 

Somewhere around 9pm, when the baby is FINALLY asleep and we should have already completed our kitchen time, I get an urge to say, make the Chocolate Honey Torte I saw in a magazine while resting my feet earlier. And the GREATEST THING ABOUT THAT URGE... the thing that I have just recently come to realize, is that just by keeping a few staples about my kitchen, I can just about bake any recipe I want WHENEVER I want. It's amazing! Baking powder? Check! Chocolate chips? Check! almond extract? Check! Eggs, brown sugar and orange zest? Yessiree bob. 

Even better than being able to bake most recipes at any time, I've found that most recipes I want to bake don't even take that long... or at least they aren't supposed to. My husband Ryan and I are currently balancing two television series through our Netflix que - West Wing and the Wire. Most of my baking urges come when we've paused the DVD to say, check on the baby or run to the bathroom. In the back of my mind the urge for something sweet and fun has been building for the first 20 minutes of the show... and as soon as we hit that pause button and Ryan is otherwise occupied, I quietly toddle into the kitchen and quickly pull out and measure oats or chocolate or what have you. After about 5 minutes he'll call into the kitchen - "What are you doing?" and I'll say "Getting dessert!" Five or so more minutes will pass and he yells "What's taking so long? Get your butt back out here!" And I'll say "OK, I'm almost done!" At which time I'm normally starting up the electric mixer and he KNOWS he's in for the world's longest commercial break. 10-15 minutes later (after my moderately patient husband has resorted to expletives) and I'm pouring or scooping whatever it is in to it's prepared baking dish and popping it into the oven. At this point I saunter back into the livingroom, proud as can be and spend the next 5 minutes trying to get Ryan to stop playing "Fishing" or "Jelly Car" on his Iphone. Fifteen or so minutes later we have a homemade treat and finally get back to our DVD!

A couple of weeks ago one such nighttime recipe I whipped up was Tessa Kiros' Fried Custard Squares. Grace has previously cited Mrs. Kiros' book Apples for Jam, and all I can say is to expect much more AFJ experiments from this blog. Its a visually inviting book that seems so simplistic with ingredients you can't help but try it's recipes! I followed this recipe closely which is unusual for me. My only ingredient change was organic orange rind instead of lemon and everything came out delicious! I did not wait quite long enough for the custard to set so it was more like "Fried Custard Misshapes" but they sure were tasty. Once all the little suckers were fried up I decided they needed a fruity boost and made a quick berry sauce (frozen organic berries, a little water and a shake of sugar on the stove) to pour overtop of 2 or three of the squares and voila! It turned from a grab-em-while-they're-hot dessert to a bona fide serve-it-on-a-pretty-little-plate fork dessert. Its also easy to see how fun these in their original form would be as a traditional holiday snack for little kiddos - Tessa knows whats up.

Friday, March 6, 2009

not so healthy but pretty tasty dinner made with stuff we already had in the house!

jake REALLY likes to have things like quesadillas and nachos for dinner. so i indulged him and made some steak nachos for us, which were inspired by the steak nachos at our favorite restaurant, jalapenos

i made some very easy cheese sauce, similar to what i would make for welch rarebit or mac & cheese. (roux + your favorite shredded cheese) and then we spread it over chips and topped with crushed red pepper, some diced tomatoes (with the wet part taken out), and some sliced up little omaha steaks that my grandmother had given us. (jake said that he feels that having "good meat" was important, as he did not want to "bite down on gristle or fat"). i had planned to put some cilantro on top too, but it was not looking so good when i got it out of the fridge! next time i will probably make some pico de gallo rather than just use tomatoes, but it still came out tasty.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Capers and Parsley and Lemons, oh my!

Last night I made Chicken Cutlets with Parsley and Capers, from Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros. It's a nifty cookbook given to me for Christmas by Jennifer. It is described by its publisher as "a keepsake cookbook filled with savory recipes woven together by a rainbow of colors, memories, and lavish full-color photography." That is absolutely accurate!

This is a perfect mid-week recipe because it takes ten minutes and uses stuff you probably already have in your fridge. The tangy lemon juice mixes perfectly with the vinegar-y capers and the parsley smoothes everything out. I paired it with the most perfect roast potatoes I've ever made (according to Hubs), frozen spinach (which I have determined tastes better than fresh spinach and doesn't leave that film on the teeth) and leftover sauteed cauliflower (my other favorite recipe from Apples for Jam!)

Just in case you're wondering, here is how I made my perfect roasted potatoes. Cut medium-sized red taters into about sixths. Dump them in a big tupperware, drizzle with olive oil and house seasoning, put a top on the tupperware and shake like a polaroid picture. Then lay everything on a cookie sheet that's been sprayed with cooking spray. Cook at 450 degrees for about 30 minutes or until brown all over. They will be crispy and salty on the outside, totally soft and delicious on the inside. So easy a chimpanzee could do it.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Does your spoon have a purpose? Why not add direction to its little wooden life and publish your cooking and baking results on the internet for all the world to see? Watch as Sarah, Grace and I do just that by sharing recipes and resources as they are tested during our busy lives. Bon Appetit!