Mexican food can be fussy, you know

Green chile posole with black beans

D wants to know why hominy is always squeaky.  Good question.

D wants to know why hominy is always squeaky. Good question.

French food has a reputation for being very complicated, difficult, and time-consuming to cook.  But I’d like you, dear reader, to compare this recipe linked above to a recipe for Potage Parmentier.  Which one would you pick for a weekday?  This recipe has no fewer than 15 ingredients, not counting the salt and pepper and the cheese on top.  You have to chop a lot of them.  The “active time” of 10 minutes on this recipe is nonsense.  It’s more like 20-30 minutes of prep before it gets cooked for 45 minutes.  Looking back, the most complicated dish I’ve ever made was chicken mole.  So I think that Mexican food deserves a little bit of the fussy reputation that French food gets.  It’s not all beef tacos.

Ah, but how does the soup taste?  Delicious.  The parsley, cilantro, and spinach make for a green and fresh soup. We had this as an appetizer before our New Year’s Eve dinner.  It served as an appetizer/first course/salad.  I also think that the allspice made this one special.  It gave the soup a spicy earthiness.  It’s certainly spicy, but not too hot.  It’s like an excellent salsa verde, but deeper and richer.  If you’ve got the time to make something like this, I recommend it.

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Vegetable-Bean Soup

Finally some soup that supplies leftovers!

Vegetable-Bean Soup

And the obligatory grilled cheese!

And the obligatory grilled cheese!

I made this soup when we had our first truly cold (meaning below zero) snap of the winter.  It was nice and hearty and full of vegetables when I started to overload a bit on holiday sweets.  The best thing about it (or maybe the worst?) was that it tasted better a few days later.  Unfortunately, by that point there was only one bowl left.  I only made one substitution and that was to use chicken stock instead of vegetable.  I’m sure it would be quite tasty with vegetable, but I tend to enjoy the richness of chicken broth in most things.

Since we are coming into the New Year, I think you should all make this as a healthy start!  You’ll feel good about yourself and your waistline and you’ll also feel good because it is so tasty.

Broccoli-Cheddar Quiche

December 2011, pg. 45 & 46

Quiche Whole

Broccoli-Cheddar Quiche Recipe

This was a great breakfast-for-dinner recipe! I love breakfast foods and I don’t eat eggs and pancakes enough, so I love the opportunity to have them for dinner.

I made the pie crust using Everyday Food’s November 2008 recipe.
Basic Pie Crust

*I used it for the Maple Nut Tart I baked last month so I knew at least the crust of the quiche would be a success.  I made the crust in the morning and threw it in the refrigerator until it was time to start dinner.

I must admit I eyeballed the broccoli and cheese measurements.  I bet there was a little more of each item than the recipe called for.  But really who can turn their nose up to more broccoli and cheese.  I baked the quiche for 45 minutes and the center appeared to be set, so I took it out and let it cool.

It was a perfect night to eat the quiche for dinner because P was on-call and I wasn’t sure what time he would be getting home but it would most likely be after 8 p.m.  I probably wouldn’t be able to wait and eat with P, since my body starts to shut down if I don’t eat dinner by 7:45.  I would eat the quiche warm and P would just eat the quiche cold (or warm it up in the microwave).  P ended up getting home just as I was finishing my salad, so we were able to eat our main course together.

The cooked quiche looked and smelled amazing before and after we cut it.  The center seemed a little underdone to me, so I cooked my portion in the microwave for 45 seconds. P, took no issues with the doneness and ate it as is.  It was delicious!  The texture of was amazingly smooth and creamy, reminding me of a quiche I had in a nice French restaurant for brunch a few years back.  The broccoli was tender and there weren’t too many onions.  The quiche was a success and I bet the other variations would be just as good!

Quiche Piece

Snore-tellini

Cheese tortellini with broccoli, tomatoes, and garlic

zzzzzzzzzzzzz

zzzzzzzzzzzzz

This is another “Take Five” recipe and the five are:*

  • 3 T unsalted butter
  • 2 lb broccoli cut into florets
  • 4 thinly sliced garlic cloves
  • 1 1/2 lb frozen cheese tortellini
  • 3 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced

Sigh.  Here we have yet one more Everyday Food recipe for pasta with no sauce.  It’s not offensive.  It’s just not terribly interesting.  It’s just cheese tortellini with tomato bits, broccoli, and a little garlic action.  But what it lacks in interest, it makes up for in being super easy to make.  Sauté the garlic and the broccoli in the butter.  Boil the tortellini.  Toss the pasta with the garlic, broccoli, and tomatoes.  Something about reserved pasta water (over it).

*All recipe information adapted from Everyday Food issue #47 p. 140 November 2007 (not that you couldn’t have figured out how to make this from the picture.  I mean, really)

Pin it to win it

Slow-Cooked Tex-Mex Chicken and Beans

Penne with Creamy Pumpkin Sauce

I ❤ Pinterest.  I ❤ it so much that I’m willing to use stupid emoti-hearts to express myself.  I don’t even know why I love it sometimes.  Sometimes I think it’s just relaxing to look through pretty pictures and drink wine.  That’s probably it.  It’s also interesting to see what people get into.  It teaches me things about my fellow humans that I never knew.  Ladies love nail art.  A lot.  Everyone thinks they have a recipe that tastes just like a Frosty (it doesn’t.  stop lying).  Chex mix is more popular than I thought.  Muddy buddies (puppy chow, white trash, etc. etc.) is apparently just the most versatile thing in the world.  Red Velvet puppy chow.  Nutella puppy chow.  Nutella, there’s another Pinterest thing.  There are two things that are arguably the biggest of all.  You’re probably already thinking it, Pinterest fan: crock pot recipes and pumpkin.  Seeing lots of nodding.  I made these two recipes and thought, “Man.  This is straight out of Pinterest.”  So paint your nails to look like candy canes, grab some Chex Mix, and find out why…

Tex mex chicken and beans is your classic Pinterest slow cooker dump recipe.  There’s very little prep.  I didn’t have bell pepper and I’ve had bell peppers get weird in a slow cooker, so I put in the other 1/2 of a 28 oz can of whole tomatoes, cut up with scissors.  Those were from the huevos rancheros recipe in October.  Plus, my chipotles in adobo came from the freezer.  You never use a whole can, so I freeze the peppers with adobe in ice cube trays, one pepper per whole, lined with plastic wrap.  Once they are frozen, you can just slide them out wrap and all and put them in a freezer bag.  It takes maybe 2 minutes on defrost to bring them back to life.  I also added some more dried pinto beans because I was scared that the stuff wasn’t reaching halfway up the side of the crock, and the instructions on the crockpot are pretty explicit about that.  Other than that, it was just a matter of letting it heat up.  Super easy.  Very very good.

slow cookin', swayin' to the music, slow cookin', just me and Everyday Food

slow cookin’, swayin’ to the music, slow cookin’, just me and Everyday Food

The penne with pumpkin sauce recipe hits the other Pinterest high note: pumpkin.  But it does it in a more sophisticated way.  It’s not cloying and sweet.  The white wine vinegar cuts a lot of the sweetness.  I will say that you should believe the recipe when it says to salt it generously, the canned pumpkin needs salt.  Also, frying rosemary is a total mess, and it is stressful trying to pick little pieces out of hot oil with a slotted spoon.  Luckily, it adds some flavor and crunch along with the stress.  I made a separate serving for J without the rosemary and red pepper flakes.  He liked it well enough.

Not pictured: nails that look like jack o' lanterns

Not pictured: nails that look like jack o’ lanterns

Nothing Says November Like… Acorn Squash

That’s right!  We are officially onto blogging about November!  And it’s still November!  This is a major accomplishment.  Be proud, be very proud.  We did this for you.  We want you to hear about glorious Christmas cookies and Holiday feasts in a timely manner.  You are welcome!

And now I am going to tell you all about acorn squash.  Acorn squash was the In Season highlight for the issue we chose, November 2007, no. 47.  I may have previously mentioned that I have a half bushel of acorn squash in my coat-closet-turned-pantry so this issue was an obvious selection for us.  The good news is that the rest of the issue is pretty awesome as well.

I started with Garlic-Crusted Pork Loin with Mashed Acorn Squash. I couldn’t find the recipe online so if you have the magazine, you can find it on pg. 34.

No, that is not a pork loin… It's another freakishly large pork chop.

No, that is not a pork loin… It’s another freakishly large pork chop.

So here’s the gist if you don’t have the magazine.

Ingredients:

Olive oil

4 garlic cloves

Pork loin roast (about 1 3/4 lbs) or as you see in the picture above a couple of decent sized pork chops

2 acorn squash

1/4 cup sour cream (the recipe calls for reduced-fat, but I try to go for the real thing where dairy is concerned unless it’s milk)

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

The idea in the original recipe is to cook everything at the same time in a 450 deg. oven.  Since I was using pork chops I assumed they wouldn’t take quite as long to cook because they aren’t as thick so I actually used to pans.  Prep the squash by cutting them in half lengthwise and scooping out the seeds (if you are a fan of roasted pumpkin seeds you can use these the same way).  Prep the meat by finely chopping the garlic.  If you have a garlic press, it makes this job much easier. Once the garlic is well chopped, sprinkle it with coarse salt and smear it with the side of a chefs knife until it forms a paste.  Then smear that paste along with some olive oil, salt and pepper on whatever meat you choose.  If you are doing the loin put that in the center of a baking sheet and arrange the squash cut side down around it.  Pop that into the oven for 35 to 40 minutes.

Since I did chops I started those on the stove on a medium heat while I put the squash in the oven.  After getting some color on both sides of the chop I added that to the oven as well and used a meat thermometer to make sure it was cooked through.  I timed it so the pork went in the oven when there was about 20 minutes left on the squash and the timing worked out pretty well that they both came out at the same time.

Once the squash is out you scoop it into a bowl with the sour cream and brown sugar and mash it all up.  Then you are ready to go!

This was an incredibly flavorful meal.  The garlic rub was incredible.  I am definitely going to use that method again.  The mashed acorn squash was subtle but really delicious as well.  I was thrilled with how these went together and I was so satisfied by the end of the meal.

I also made the Acorn Squash Bisque.

And of course, served it with grilled cheese!

And of course, served it with grilled cheese!

This was not only really simple, but so so so so so (imagine about 5 more so’s) good!  It’s like liquid autumn.  It tastes incredible.  The thyme goes so well with the squash.  It is also rich but not so rich that you can’t easily have seconds.  I highly recommend this one to anyone with a blender or food processor!

The only squash recipe that I wasn’t thrilled with was the Chili-Roasted Acorn Squash. When I say “wasn’t thrilled”, I mean “wasn’t blown away by”.  This recipe was still good, just not my style as much as the other two.

IMG_0826

The magazine claims that once the skin is roasted it becomes “soft and tasty”.  It does become soft.  And yes, it was edible.  I think “tasty” was a bit of a reach.  I didn’t love it.  There wasn’t much flavor overall, but it was faintly bitter.  Also the texture of the skin was a little annoying.  It wasn’t pleasant to chew through.  Unfortunately, since the squash was cut so small, it was difficult/messy to eat if you didn’t want to eat the skin.  It meant pealing each little piece before eating.  Not worth the effort.  I think if I want to achieve this flavor in the future, I would just leave the pieces as halves or quarters and scoop the flesh out of the skin as I went rather than take the time to cut into small pieces.

Now G is going to tell you about Wild Rice Stuffed Squash!

Yeah, I am!  G here, and here is my beautiful friend:

You can't tell me that doesn't look like November

You can’t tell me that doesn’t look like November

As the recipe is written, this is a vegetarian main dish.  But….you know me, I had to substitute.  In fact, there are a couple substitutions with this recipe.  The first is the wild rice mix.  I know what they meant.  They meant one of those boxed mixes with some brown rice, some white, some wild.  The recipe says this mixture will all cook together in 25 minutes on the stove.  Well, I only found this at the store:

insert rice gone wild joke here

insert rice gone wild joke here

That’s Minnesota “wild” rice.  Just the long, black grains.  The bag said it would take just under an hour to cook on the stove.  Shoot.  I had waited until there was about 25 minutes left for the squash to roast in the oven before starting the rice.  No time to wait for this stuff to cook.  So I followed the microwave directions and cooked my “wild” rice in 1 cup low sodium chicken broth and 1/2 cup water.  It took roughly a half hour to cook that way.  That’s yet another substitution.  I cooked the rice in a broth and water mixture because I wanted to add more flavor.

On to the bigger substitution.  I added a 1/2 lb ground turkey, browned, to the stuffing.  I browned it in the skillet immediately after the “shallot” (I substituted red onion…shoot!  That’s another substitution!), garlic, and sage were done sautéing.  I also added grated parmesan cheese to the top of the heap and browned it all together in a 350 degree oven for five minutes at the very end of cooking to bring the flavors together and the melt cheese.  I still think the stuffing flavor could have oozed down into the squash a little more.  The next time I make this, would undercook the squash a little and let it finish cooking with the stuffing inside it.  I think this recipe was more like squash with the side dish heaped inside than something truly stuffed.

One more substitution: I used dried cranberries instead of dried cherries.  Why?  Because I’m cheap and craisins are delicious.

This winds up being a very filling and delicious recipe, but I have a hard time imagining it without the turkey.  It really adds a lot.  Perfectly appropriate for a main dish once you make these changes.  I think otherwise it’s a side dish.  Sorry vegetarians!

Oh, and if you’re at all curious whether this is appropriate for a baby, I made one of the squash halves just for J.  I omitted the wild rice and the cranberries because they both seemed like potential choking hazards.  He really enjoyed this one.

J's is the top left

J’s is the top left

 

canned beets to the rescue!

Pasta with beets and blue cheese

Sweet, salty, pasta.  hitting all the high notes here

Sweet, salty, pasta. hitting all the high notes here

This is a delicious recipe.  If you like blue cheese and you’re even on the fence about beets, then this is a good one.  I’d also like to add that this is one of the first foods we fed J after we switched over from feeding him “baby” food to just giving him whatever we eat in smaller pieces with less seasoning.  He liked it!  Best. Baby. Ever.

One quick note about the beets: This recipe has you roasting your own.  That takes forever.  Unless you have a garden or there was an amazing sale on beets, just do yourself a favor and buy canned ones.  Here’s how forgiving this recipe is, it says you can use canned whole beets.  I used canned sliced beets from Aldi (I need a keyboard shortcut for how often I type “Aldi”), and it was 100% fine.  No, canned beets do not have the freshness or depth of flavor that roasted ones do.  But if it’s between no beets and canned beets…advantage canned.  

Huevos and another cocktail!

Huevos rancheros

Fiestaware = FTWare

Fiestaware = FTWare

This is a dangerous recipe.  Why?  Because it’s super good and it makes a ton of food that you know won’t be good leftover.  I’d be stupid not to eat 5 eggs by myself, right?  oof.  If you split this meal between two people, you will eat too much.  Guaranteed.

Sure, I can eat 5 eggs...

Sure, I can eat 5 eggs…

Let’s take a look at the recipe.  The sauce itself is delicious and easy.  You puree canned tomatoes, a jalapeno, some onion, and some garlic in the blender, then heat it for a while.  Super easy.  Makes me think I should be putting rancheros sauce on everything.  I do have one small bone to pick here.  The recipe calls for a 14.5 oz can of whole tomatoes.  I have never in my life seen a 14.5 oz can of whole tomatoes.  Whole tomatoes only come in the big cans.  Maybe if you’re buying the fancy, fire-roasted tomatoes, they come in smaller cans, but not for me.  So I used 1/2 of a big can.  Lucky for me, the tex mex chicken and beans in an upcoming November issue (stay tuned) could use 1/2 a can of tomatoes.  You are blending them, so I have a hard time seeing why a 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes wouldn’t do just fine.  Anyhoo, here’s the sauce:

sauce rancheros

sauce rancheros

The whole thing is built on an oven-toasted tortilla.  Mine got a little tough.  Perhaps I overcooked it?  I think maybe a plain unbaked tortilla would be just fine.  For toppings we had avocado, Jack cheese, chopped cilantro, and homemade yogurt instead of sour cream.  That’s a move from my childhood.  We never had sour cream.  My mom always put out non-fat yogurt instead.  It’s all well and good until she puts out the vanilla flavored yogurt.  Vanilla refried beans!  Yum!

They do look a little brown...

They do look a little brown…

The D cocktail recommendation for this meal is the La Paloma.  It’s Squirt and tequila.  Sound like a poor woman’s margarita with bubbles?  It is.  What’s wrong with that?

La Paloma, which is Spanish for....the Paloma

La Paloma, which is Spanish for….the Paloma

Tortilla and Black Bean Pie

I didn’t have terribly high expectations when I saw the recipe for Tortilla and Black Bean Pie. But I figured it has cheese and black beans and corn so how bad could it be really?!

I didn't trim the tortillas as suggested in the recipe and look how pretty they bake up on the edges!

I didn’t trim the tortillas as suggested in the recipe and look how pretty they bake up on the edges!

I think even if my expectations had been much higher, I would have been pleased with the outcome.  Somehow when the beans and tortillas and cheese bake together they make an incredibly satisfying texture.  And since I already knew the flavor would be decent because of the beans and cheese, the total package was awesome.

The sweetness of the corn was perfect with the savoriness of the black beans and garlic and cumin.  I don’t love a lot of spicy heat in my food so I replaced the jalapeño with green chiles and their flavor complimented the overall recipe very well.  I served it with a dollop of sour cream.

We both went back for seconds!

We both went back for seconds!

I WILL be making this again.

Rosemary Smells Like Christmas!!!

Baked Shells with Winter Squash

Image

First of all, this recipe made me realize that I either have not done much cooking with fresh rosemary (I swear I have used it before but I don’t remember it ever being so fragrant!) or else the rosemary I’ve been cooking with has just been really under par.  My kitchen smelled like Christmas from the instant I started chopping that rosemary.  It was so fragrant that I was a little nervous that if I used the amount stated in the recipe it would totally overpower the dish.

I took a leap of faith and threw it all in.  It was not a mistake.  It tasted so lovely with the caramelized onions and parmesan.  It was really comforting but at the same time I didn’t feel bad about going for seconds because it wasn’t overly cheesy or fattening.

I made just a couple of adjustments from the recipe.  I used cavatappi pasta because I love it’s twirly-ness (I did this with the Mac and Three Cheeses last month too).  I also didn’t bother with the bread crumbs on top.  The dish was good enough on its own so it really didn’t need it.  If I had been serving it for guests I might have used the crumbs because they do make it look a little more fancy.

I would definitely recommend this dish to everyone! So good and hearty!