Monday, March 31, 2008

red bean and squash soup

it's been a dreary weekend here in greensboro, overcast clouds with spurts of rain and drizzle. of course, the weatherman didn't predict anything close to this. surprised? me neither. to top things off, delana was not only having to work but she was having to open which meant a 3:30 wake up call. looks like mother nature felt our pain and decided to share it with the rest of the city. i got up with her and stayed up, flipping through the new april issue of gourmet and channel surfing till i decided to watch the last episode of top chef that i had recorded a few nights earlier but failed to watch.

once i had gotten through that and had breakfast, i started thinking about what i could cook to help kill some time. i sat down and once more flipped through my new gourmet, not really finding anything in there that i wanted to take on either due to lack of ingredients or equipment since the issue was centered around italy's different pasta dishes according to region. i then went into the bedroom and grabbed some older issues of bon appetit and other gourmet's as well as a williams sonoma and cooking light cookbook. i looked through the recipe indexes of what i had grabbed, still no inspiration. i decided to take a break and throw some laundry in and make a dash to the store.that's where i found discovery was completely unexpected and unintentional, i wasn't looking for it. i didn't even know what it was. what is this it i speak of? butternut squash.
normally, i only buy butternut squash when i know i'm going to fix beans. the squash helps thicken the sauce from the beans and gives it a nice depth of flavor. i learned that from my mother. this time i hadn't planned on making beans but the more i thought about it, the better it sounded. however, i knew i didn't want rice which is what i normally have when i fix beans. it just wasn't a rice and beans kind of day. i wanted something a little richer, something to not only fill me but warm me. what to use in place of rice? ahah! sausage. i had some sundried tomato and basil chicken sausage that had originally been intended to go with pasta? but this sounded better. the great thing about this dish is that it's one of those things that you can make hours- even a day- earlier to have for later and you only have to dirty one pot, yes one. plus it makes for great leftovers. granted, there weren't any leftovers this time but take my word because i've had enough leftover beans to know that they taste just as good if not better the next day. this experience comes with living in a part puerto rican household.

Red Bean and Squash Soup with Italian-Style Sausage

  • 1 tbs of olive oil
  • 2 Italian Style Sausage Links- ( i imagine Andouille sausage would be just as good), sliced into about 1" pieces
  • 2.5 c of diced butternut squash
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • cracked black pepper
  • Splash of red wine
  • 1/8 tsp of crushed red pepper - (less if you are using a spicy sausage)
  • 2 c of cooked light red kidney beans (i used canned and rinsed them)
  • 2.5 tbs of tomate paste
  • 2.5 c of water or chicken stock

Heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepan or dutch oven. Once oil begins to shimmer, add sliced sausage and allow to brown on each side- should take 2-3 minutes. Remove sausage and add diced butternut squash. If necessary, add more oil to prevent squash from sticking.

Once the squash has browned on both sides, remove and add onion and minced garlic.Season with crushed red pepper,salt and cracked pepper and allow onion to soften, about 5-6 minutes. Proceed to add a splash of red wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up any stuck on bits. Once done add beans,tomato paste and water. Bring mixture to boil and then allow to simmer for about 15 minutes. If you find that the soup has gotten too thick while simmering, feel free to add more water or stock. This can be served with a good crusty bread and nice big, salad of mixed greens.

Question: What's your favorite rainy day, comfort food staple?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

good things come in 3's...

that's the conclusion i've come to based on my last post and the one i'm about to make. yesterday i shared my recipe for three c blondies and tonight i'm going to share with you my recipe for a 3-vegetable roasted lasagna. it's different, i know. i'm sure you're used to just having the traditional meat and cheese stuffed kind, packed with cheese. there's nothing wrong with that kind. if you're lucky, you've found a place or recipe that balances those 3 things perfectly. me, i have not which is why i wanted to try something different.

lasagna isn't something i have often just because it can leave you feeling a little overstuffed and wondering why you indulged on something that wasn't really quite that good. my usual source of lasagna was this pizzeria back on staten island and it was ok but they're calzones are better. on staten island? it's called mama rosario's. get the sausage and pepper calzone. it's good stuff. i've had it from other places too of course but i haven't really ever been that impressed with it to make it the main thing i would order from a menu. i'm obviously making it sound like im not a huge fan of lasagna so why would i bother trying to make it? becasue of this: The Kitchen Sink's Layer by Layer Lasagna. how could i not be inspired? plus vegetables, carbs, and protein all rolled into one bubbly plate of goodness? sounds like my kind of balanced plate.

i bet you can't guess what 3 vegetables i went with? zucchini, squash, and mushrooms! how'd you know? you're smart but we both knew that. this combination isn't definitive though, you can go with whatever vegetables you have on hand or whatever vegetable you've been craving. i went with these 3 just because i had a gallon sized ziploc bag stuffed with mushrooms and the zucchini and squash were affordable and i was suffering from low funds syndrome. i'm sure some out there can relate. now that i've given you a little background, i'll go ahead on to the method...

start with your vegetables: i used 2 small zucchini's and 1 veyr large squash and about a cup of mushrooms, all sliced, drizzled with some olive oil and seasoned with just a simple mix of salt and measurements just to your taste & toss to ensure that they're all coated evenly. spread them out onto a foil lined cookie sheet, maybe 2 cookie sheets. roast them at about 400 degrees for 30 minutes? maybe less, maybe more depending on your oven.

next: sauce. i made my basic marinara using a 28 oz can of diced tomatoes, 1 whole onion( finely diced), 2 cloves of garlic ( minced), riesling (1/4 cup), dried basil and parsley ( 2 tsp each), crushed red pepper and the essential salt and pepper.

once those 2 parts were done, i made a part ricotta & part cottage cheese ( 1 cup each) mix= with shredded mozzarella and parmesan, a sprinkle of salt and pepper and you're done. i know you're wondering why cottage cheese? it sounds weird but it's good, adds a little more chunkyness and flavor to the filling. okay your components are done and time to assemble.

1st layer : sauce.
2nd layer: lasagna noodles. some say to pre-boil these, some say not to. i say not to.
3rd layer: ricotta and cottage cheese filling.
4th layer: squash, zucchini, mushrooms.
5th layer: sliced fresh mozzarella.

6th layer: go back to the beginning and continue till your casserole dish says basta! no more! really though you want to end with a layer of sauce and mozzarella. pop in the oven, 400 degrees, 40 minutes or until your cheese has reached your desired level of bubbliness. while cooking, maybe throw together a salad or just fix yourself some garlic bread. baguette, oil, clove of garlic. drizzle the bread with a little oil and rub the garlic over the bread and pop it in the oven during the last 5 minutes of cooking. enjoy!

Monday, March 24, 2008

three C blondies

this past weekend i had planned on toying around in the kitchen. yet again, i wanted to try something new. i've been flipping through new and old issues of bon appetit, cooking light, and gourmet. i had thought i might try and make some type of tart with a fruity filling? it sounded good but once the weekend actually came, i realized i didn't want anything fussy. tarts are fussy. they're pretty and tasty i'm sure but they're fussy. nay to the fussy. i'm sure i will soon take on the tart challenge. just wasn't happening this weekend. this weekend i took on the blondie challege.

sunday morning i got online and hit up up my usual food blog hangouts- tastespotting, 101 cookbooks,smitten kitchen, and our kitchen sink. browsing through smitten kitchen, i came across a recipe that sounded perfect. far from fussy, short on ingredients, and sweet. yay. what was this recipe you ask? blondies.

i had everything i would need for deb's basic recipe and a couple of extras that i thought would go perfectly. those extras would be what makes these three c brownies. c- chocolate chips, c-cherry preserves, c - coconut flakes. all perfectly good on their own, great when combined. now i've made blondies once before but they were very unsatisfactory and originated from a cooking light recipe. they were bland and dense and just not good at all. these however i was happy with. i did make a few modifications with the ingredients to help make this more my own and to help cut back just a smidge on the guilt factor of them. not a huge smidge though, which is why they're cut so small. less guilt, more brownies. smart cookie. or blondie. want to see the original recipe? check it out: Smitten's Blondies. want my recipe? well here you go:

  • 4 tbs butter & 3 tbs margarine(smart balance light for me), melted
  • 1 tbs apple butter
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 1 egg - i used an egg substitute
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract & 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 3 tbs ea. of coconut flakes & chocolate chips & cherry preserves
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Grease an 8 x 8 pan.
  3. Mix butters with brown sugar and beat until smooth. Once smooth, add in egg and extracts.
  4. Combine flour, cocoa powder and salt then stir into sugar mixture.
  5. Fold in your 3 c's and pour into your baking pan. Pop it into your heated oven and put a glass to chill in the fridge. At about 20-22 minutes, take the chilled glass out and pour yourself some milk and once done take out your blondies. You can either let them cool or just go ahead and cut a piece to have with your cold milk. if you're like me, patience is not something you possess a great deal of. pass me that milk...

Thursday, March 20, 2008

layers aren't just for clothes...

they can be for cake too.

this past weekend while some were getting ready for st.patty's day, delana and i were getting ready for cake. a cake that she was going to be making in honor of her dad's birthday. he had requested a yellow cake with chocolate frosting and threw in that it would be nice to have a three layer cake, a first for him. when he said this, he probably wasn't expecting to have that changed much less have an extra layer thrown in there. surprises. they're a wonderful thing.especially when they involve butter and chocolate.

the cake making process began on friday afternoon and was relatively simple. i think it only took about an hour before everything was mixed, poured, baked, and out the oven. pretty good when you have to double a recipe and only have two cake pans to work with. the frosting for the cake probably took a little over an hour just because it needs an hour to cool before you can use it. let me forewarn you, the frosting taste dangerously close to a melted hershey's milk chocolate bar so try and refrain from finger dipping unless you're prepared to eat it sans the cake. can we say chocolate hangover? bring it on.

saturday night: time to break into this four layered monster.

after singing happy birthday and blowing out the candles, we - delana, her dad, her mom and myself-each got a slice with a spoonful of light vanilla ice cream. yes, light. we like to keep things balanced here remember? ice cream was good. the cake was great. definitely rich but it's supposed to be. it says so in the title, "rich and tender yellow cake". no lie.
delana said she felt it was a little dry but then again she's never satisfied. always trying to improve, and that is not something i can condemn her for. i enjoyed the cake. it was a splurge. a splurge i ate very slowly and enjoyed thoroughly.

Rich and Tender Yellow Layer Cake
Taken from Baking Illustrated
Makes two 9-inch cakes

large eggs , room temperature
1/2 cup
whole milk , room temperature
2 teaspoons
vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons
baking powder
3/4 teaspoon
table salt
1/2 pound
unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened, each stick cut into 8 pieces

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease two 9-by-1 1/2-inch cake pans with vegetable shortening and cover pan bottoms with rounds of parchment paper or wax paper. Grease parchment rounds, dust cake pans with flour, and tap out excess.

2. Beat eggs, milk, and vanilla with fork in small bowl; measure out 1 cup of this mixture and set aside. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment; mix on lowest speed to blend, about 30 seconds. With mixer still running at lowest speed, add butter one piece at a time; mix until butter and flour begin to clump together and look sandy and pebbly, with pieces about the size of peas, 30 to 40 seconds after all butter is added. Add reserved 1 cup of egg mixture and mix at lowest speed until incorporated, 5 to 10 seconds. Increase speed to medium-high (setting 6 on KitchenAid) and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add remaining egg mixture (about 1/2 cup) in slow steady stream, about 30 seconds. Stop mixer and thoroughly scrape sides and bottom of bowl. Beat on medium-high until thoroughly combined and batter looks slightly curdled, about 15 seconds longer. (To mix using hand mixer, whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in large bowl. Add butter pieces and cut into the flour mixture with a pastry blender. Add reserved 1 cup of egg mixture; beat with hand mixer at lowest speed until incorporated, 20 to 30 seconds. Increase speed to high, add remaining egg mixture, and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Stop mixer and thoroughly scrape sides and bottom of bowl. Beat at high speed 15 seconds longer.)

3. Divide batter equally between prepared cake pans; spread to sides of pan and smooth with rubber spatula. Bake until cake tops are light golden and skewer inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. (Cakes may mound slightly but will level when cooled.) Cool on rack 10 minutes. Run a knife around pan perimeter to loosen. Invert cake onto large plate, peel off parchment, and re-invert onto lightly greased rack. Cool completely before icing.

Creamy Milk Chocolate Frosting
Makes about 2 cups

1/2 cup heavy cream
table salt
1 tablespoon light corn syrup (or dark)
10 ounces
milk chocolate , chopped
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
8 tablespoons
unsalted butter (1 stick), cold, cut into 8 pieces

Heat cream, salt, and corn syrup in microwave-safe measuring cup on high until simmering, about 1 minute, or bring to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Place chocolate in workbowl of food processor fitted with steel blade. With machine running, gradually add hot cream mixture through feed tube; process 1 minute after cream has been added. Stop machine; add confectioners´ sugar to workbowl and process to combine, about 30 seconds. With machine running, add butter through feed tube one piece at a time; process until incorporated and smooth, about 20 seconds longer. Transfer frosting to medium bowl and cool at room temperature, stirring frequently, until thick and spreadable, about 1 hour.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

dusting off the cobwebs....

and back from a whirlwind weekend. well, maybe not a whirlwind weekend but a busy one. one birthday and one work day. bleh i say to work. that's another reason i haven't been keeping up with this as much as i'd like to. when you're off for 2 days things can pile up and then when a fellow co-worker has the week off and you have to help with their stuff...yeah. like i said, it's been busy. to add onto all this i was going through one of those "nothing sounds good/anything sounds good" phases. sound familiar? you're just completely uninspired, and nothing sounds good? things look good on paper but they're just not what you want at that moment? that was my weekend. i wanted something good but it was just a matter of figuring out what that something was. it didn't come to me till monday which i guess better late than never. still though, it's just frustrating. fortunately, it's temporary and i am back and ready to get busy with this once again.
i'll be updating within the next 2 days with my first attempt at a homemade, all from scratch chicken pot pie from an old issue of Food and Wine magazine. that was sunday's caper. i didn't get to eat very much of it but the few bites i did have were quite yummy but more of that later.
i'll also be recounting my mostly successful attempt at mushroom and provolone stuffed chicken breasts- they're not as easy as they look but ooh they are definitely as good as they look. this was the end of my "nothing sounds good phase." it only took about half an hour of exchanging potential dinner ideas with my girlfriend which went a little like "how about barbecue chicken? no. sloppy joes? ehh, no thanks. hot dogs? no. french fries? pass. roast potatoes? sounds good. with what? i dont know." i'm sure you wish you were there.
exhausted by chicken? me too. how bout some lasagna stuffed with roasted zucchini,squash and mushrooms? sounds good, i though so too. who popped that little doozy in my head? our kitchen sink at wordpress. awesome blog with awesome pictures and very approachable recipes. go there, read, be inspired. get hungry.
still not what you're looking for? well shoot, how about you skip dinner and go right to dessert with a milk chocolatey four layer yellow cake. this was friday night's caper. not mine though, delana's. she dons the title of baker. she likes science. she likes food. it works. her motivation? it was her papa's birthday and he had mentioned a 3 layer cake and she wanted to push the envelope with an extra layer. the envelope was pushed and the cake was scrumptious. be warned though- you'll have to do a lot more than push an envelope to burn off a slice. maybe 2 envelopes. i won't burden you with calorie fears though, it's cake and it was a celebration. celebrate and eat. enjoy.
unfortunately, you're going to have to wait to see all our food capers so i'm sorry but i promise- PINKY PROMISE- that you'll be able to have or at least see all that i've listed before the weekend.
care to share what you've been mixing, beating, stirring, baking, cooking up in the kitchen?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

when the moon hits the sky like a big pizza pie...

that's amore. according to some oldies song anyways. for me, it means it's times
to make some pizza. no, i don't mean make a call to order some pizza but time to take out your flour and pizza stone and get ready for some good eating. that's what i did this past weekend. now it's your turn?

i started out with Elise from Simply Recipes recipe for pizza dough as a base and made a few modifications of my own. The last time I made pizza I also made extra of my spiked marinara sauce and put it in the freezer for later use. this pizza was going to be it's " later use." i had also been to the store that day and picked up some fresh white and cremini mushrooms, bell peppers, basil - yes basil, onions, and fresh mozzarella. i was lucky enough to find the basil at our local farmer's market for a $1.50 which was exciting because i've been looking for the hard to find green since valentine's day with no luck. the price was also a steal because even when it is in season, good luck finding it for under $3. one more reason to love the farmer's market. my finds at the store plus some leftover roasted red pepper and pepperoni would be my choice of toppings for this occasion. feel free to go with whatever you have though. hungry for meat? throw in some salami, ground beef, sausage, prosciutto, rotisserie chicken, ham. whatever you want. me? im a little more of a traditionalist and wasn't real hungry for meat this time. you say you're a traditionalist too? try this then...

Pizza Dough

adapted from Simply Recipes

Makes enough dough for two 10-12 inch pizzas

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (105°F-115°F) - [[ i cut this in half to 5 oz water ]]
  • 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) of active dry yeast (check the expiration date on the package) [[ i used 1 1/8 t sp]]
  • 31/2 cups bread flour (can use all-purpose but bread flour will give you a crisper crust) [[ i used 1 3/4 c of all-purpose flour ]]
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil [[ i used 1 tbsp ]]
  • 2 teaspoons salt [[1 tsp ]]
  • 1 teaspoon sugar [[ 1/2 tsp ]]
  • i added 1 tsp dried parlsey also to the dough, thus the green specks.

1 In the large bowl of a heavy duty electric mixer (such as a Kitchen Aid), add the warm water. Sprinkle on the yeast and let sit for 5 minutes until the yeast is dissolved. Stir to dissolve completely if needed at the end of 5 minutes.

2 Attach a mixing paddle to the mixer. Mix in the olive oil, flour, salt and sugar on low speed for about a minute. Remove the mixing paddle and replace with a dough hook. Knead using the mixer and dough hook, on low to medium speed, until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. If you don't have a mixer, you can mix and knead by hand.

3 Place ball of dough in a bowl that has been coated lightly with olive oil. Turn the dough around in the bowl so that it gets coated with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap. Let sit in a warm place (75-85°F) until it doubles in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. If you don't have a warm spot in the house you can heat the oven to 150 degrees, and then turn off the oven. Place the bowl of dough in this warmed oven to rise.

At this point, if you want to make ahead, you can freeze the dough in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

Preparing the pizza:

1.Place a pizza stone on a rack in the lower third of your oven. Preheat the oven to 450°F for at least 30 minutes, preferably an hour.

2 Remove the plastic cover from the dough and punch the dough down so it deflates a bit. Divide the dough in half. Form two round balls of dough. Place each in its own bowl, cover with plastic and let sit for 10 minutes.

3 Prepare your desired toppings.

4 Working one ball of dough at a time, take one ball of dough and flatten it with your hands on a slightly floured work surface. Starting at the center and working outwards, use your fingertips to press the dough to 1/2-inch thick. Turn and stretch the dough until it will not stretch further. Let the dough relax 5 minutes and then continue to stretch it until it reaches the desired diameter - 10 to 12 inches. Use your palm to flatten the edge of the dough where it is thicker. You can pinch the very edges if you want to form a lip

5 Brush the top of the dough with olive oil (to prevent it from getting soggy from the toppings). Use your finger tips to press down and make dents along the surface of the dough to prevent bubbling. Let rest another 5 minutes. Repeat with the second ball of dough.

6 Lightly sprinkle your pizza peel (or flat baking sheet) with corn meal. Transfer one prepared flattened dough to the pizza peel. If the dough has lost its shape in the transfer, lightly shape it to the desired dimensions.

7 Spoon on the tomato sauce, sprinkle with cheese, and place your desired toppings on the pizza.

8 Sprinkle some cornmeal on the baking stone in the oven (watch your hands, the oven is hot!). Gently shake the peel to see if the dough will easily slide, if not, gently lift up the edges of the pizza and add a bit more cornmeal. Slide the pizza off of the peel and on to the baking stone in the oven. Bake pizza one at a time until the crust is browned and the cheese is golden, about 10-15 minutes. If you want, toward the end of the cooking time you can sprinkle on a little more cheese.

We like to start by spreading about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of sauce over the dough then sometimes sprinkling some crushed red pepper or dried parsley and our vegetables. With our selection of toppings this past weekend our layers started out with:

  • marinara sauce
  • basil
  • sliced green bell pepper
  • roasted red pepper
  • sliced red onion
  • sliced white and cremini mushrooms
  • pepperoni
  • shredded mozzarella

Monday, March 10, 2008

heidi swanson's mega scones

Friday I found myself itching to try something new, I wanted to do a little experimentation in the kitchen. i had spent some time during the earlier part of the week just browsing through the countless number of food blogs out there and decided that I wanted to try and make something different, I wanted to try my hand at baking. i'm not a baker, i've tried but my list of successes is quite short. in my browsing, i came across heidi swanson's recipe, over at 101 cookbooks,for these raspberry mega scones that not only looked quite good but also quite do-able and that's what i wanted. the recipe wasn't fussy and the amount of ingredients needed was minimal. perfect. i went with her recipe as a base and made just a few modificiations to suit what i had on hand. Here's my version:


  • 2 c unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 tbs free baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter (2 oz), chilled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 5 oz whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 3 oz or 6 tbs cherry preserves

What to do:

start by pre-heating your oven to 375 and lining a cookie sheet with either some parchment paper or a silpat if you have one. if you go with the parchment paper, spray it with some non-stick spray to ensure that the scone doesn't stick to it and possibly tear or break.that's it for the prep work, onto the baking part.

combine your dry ingredients- the flour, baking powder and salt- in a large bowl or the bowl of a food processor. cut your butter into the mix using a pastry blender or take the old fashioned path and use 2 knives. if you have your food processor handy, then just pulse the butter into the mix until it starts to look like small pebbles as shown in one of the picture's above. time for the sugar and a little more pulse action. pulse,pulse. done. onto the milk, lemon zest and vanilla extract. pulse,pulse,pulse. your mixture's coming alive. exciting isn't it? once your done pulsing, take your semi-living mix and lay it onto your lined cooking sheet. i went with heidi's instructions and rolled it out into a 9" square that was 1/2" thick. simple enough. time to dress up the mix with a preserve of your choice. like i said, i went with chunky cherry preserves. i'd bet apricot would be good, even blackberry and quite possibly mango. just go with whatever sounds good to you, mix and match if you wish. when finished, bring the left side over to the middle and then repeat with the right side. at this point, you can either do an egg wash, or brush it with some melted butter and sprinkle it with some sugar,i would try raw or even brown. i just brushed it with some butter this time but i'll definitely try adding the sugar next time.

time for the oven. how long before you can have a piece? 18 minutes. mmmm.

once out, you can wrap it and it'll last i'd say 3 days. you can have it for breakfast or even dessert. heat it up and top if off with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. if you take this route, you can maybe heat some more of the preserves and drizzle it over the ice cream. good stuff i think. enjoy.

  • question: what do you think your choice preserve(s) would be?
  • what other additions would you make to this recipe?
  • favorite breakfast treat?
  • favorite pastry?
  • favorite all around indulgence?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

inquisitive nature

for anyone who may be reading out there, i'm looking to get a little feedback. i'm wondering a couple things, and im hoping maybe someone can answer or increase my wonder
What are some of your favorite dishes to prepare?
What do you like people to prepare for you?
What's the best thing you've ever had from a restaurant?
What's the best meal you've ever had period?
If you had to eat one thing as your final meal, what would it be?
Leave me some comments, help me feel a little less inquisitive and maybe a little less lonely? thank you bunches and bunches.

chicken tacos

whenever i'm starving and in need of something that i can have ready to go in less than 30 minutes, i make tacos. they're quick, easy, and satisfying. i can't think of a better combination especially when you're getting home later than you planned on and your stomach's yelling at you because you were supposed to have fed it all ready. shame on you. now, time to silence those thunderous groans and get cooking. You can set out any sides you may like to have with your tacos- I tend to set out some sour cream,diced tomatoes, prepared salsa, and shredded lettuce.
  • 4 tortillas or hard taco shells( if preparing a dinner for 2 or if you're especially hungry)
  • 1 lb chicken breasts/thighs/tenders- diced, stripped or ground. whatever your preference. In this recipe, i went with chicken tenders ground at home in the food processor.
  • 2 tsp oil - corn, vegetable or olive. doesn't matter here.
  • 1/2 red pepper and 1/2 green pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • 1/4 tsp each of coriander, cumin, and chipotle chile powder - this will be for the peppers.
  • 1 tsp of sazon - this is a spice blend found in the ethnic aisles of your local grocery store. you can use it to add color and a little exta flavor to just about any dish including rice, chicken,soups and stews. i use it when im making chicken stew and the traditional "arroz con pollo."
  • salt and pepper to taste

  1. Start by heating a large skillet over medium heat. Add the peppers and onions into a medium bowl and season with the cumin,coriander,sazon and chile powder plus a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss to distribute the seasoning evenly.
  2. Add the seasoned trio to the skillet plus the minced garlic, being sure it' spread in an even layer. Allow to cook untouched for about 4 minutes then stir to allow the other side to brown. I like to have a little fun at this point by getting an oven mitt and grabbing the skillet handle and pulling the mix towards me. It's like the peppers and onions are doing a somersault off the skillet.

  3. While you're waiting for the peppers to brown, season the chicken using the same amounts of the cumin,coriander, and chile powder that you used to season the peppers as well as salt and pepper. Also, if you'e having tortillas you can go ahead and set either a large skillet or griddle pan to heat over medium heat.

  4. Once the vegetables have done their first somersault, go ahead and add the chicken. After about 3 minutes, time for another somersault. It will also be time to deglaze the pan with a little bit of water to scrape up some of those bits that may have stuck. Allow this to cook for about 6-10 minutes depending on what kind of meat you chose to use.\

  5. Heating the torillas: Add either some olive oil or butter to your skillet and place the tortilla inside. Once the tortilla starts to inflate, it's ready to be flipped. Let the second side cook for about 1 minute to a minute and a half more.


When it comes to assembly, I say to each his own. I like to spread some of the filling down the middle of my tortilla then add the shredded cheese so that it melts followd by some lettuce, sour cream, salsa and the diced tomatoes. Wrap it up and take a HUGE bite.

If you want a little something more than plain,diced tomatoes here's a quick recipe for a spicy Pico De Gallo:

  • 1 roma tomato, diced
  • 2 tbs diced red onion
  • 1 Jalapeno, Minced.
  • 1.5 tbs Jose Cuervo Tequila
  • Chopped Cilantro

Combine first 4 ingredients. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and top off with chopped cilantro. Not spicy enough? Add some crushed red pepper flakes for extra heat.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

pimiento cheese

until i came to north carolina or "north cackalackee" as it's called by the people who are from here, i had never ever ever heard of pimento cheese. i had heard of pimiento which is just spanish for pepper and of course i had heard of cheese but never the 2 words paired together. i knew the 2 tasted good but i never how good they could taste when combined with a little bit of mayonnaise. here's my take on the southern treat, slightly scaled down with the use of light mayonnaise and 2% shredded cheese.

  • 3/4 c light mayonnaise - i'd recommend hellman's
  • 2c shredded cheddar cheese- i used Kraft 2% but Cracker Barrel's 2% is also quite good if you're looking to keep this light.
  • 1/4 jar of roasted red peppers, minced
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • generous grinds of black pepper

in a large bowl, mix all your ingredients and stir to combine. can be served immediately or stored covered in the refrigerator. Serve as a dip or use as a spread on your favorite sandwich or burger.

looking to compare recipes? here are some links for more ideas:

HomeSick Texan

I like To Cook

Monday, March 3, 2008

spanish style white rice

white rice = comfort food at it's best. for me anyways. growing up in a part puerto-rican household meant rice was a staple that we were bound to have at least 3 times a week and i was not one to complain. i remember there were saturday's that i spent at my aunt's house waiting for my dad to get out of work mid afternoon and she would be getting an early start on dinner and if she had been fixing rice, i'd be leaving with a small bowl of it to eat on the way home. we only lived about 5 blocks away. yes, i was in love with rice. how could i not be? it's simple, easy to fix and oh so yummy. i do feel though that no one fixes white rice like my mom. whenever mondays rolled around and i knew she'd be home, that would be what i would ask her to fix for dinner. last night i decided to re-create those monday nights.

1 tsp of vegetable oil
1/2 tsp of minced garlic
1/2 tsp of salt
1 c of rice
1.5 c of water

1.coat the bottom of a small saucepan with 1 tsp of oil and then add the garlic and saute over medium heat until lightly browned.
2. add the 1/2 tsp of salt and rice and toast your rice, about 1 minute.
3. pour in the 1.5 c of water and bring to a bubbling boil.
4. once the rice reaches it's boiling point, give it a stir and turn your heat down to a low simmer. place a towel or sheet of foil and lid over the rice and let it do it's thing for about 15-20 minutes.
when ready to serve, fluff with a fork and dig in. when you get to the bottom of the pan there should be a thin, crispy layer called the "raspa," arguably the best part. DON'T throw it away. break it and eat it as is.

sorry there's no picture to go with this but last night delana and i were so hungry we didn't think to take any pictures. next time i fix some rice, which i'm sure will be in the near future, i'll be sure to update this with an actual snapshot.

what's your favorite comfort food?

Foodie Blog Roll