Wednesday, May 23, 2012

It must be soup week

I'm having one of those weeks.  One of those weeks where I'm really just trying to hang in there until it's over. 

Although next week promises to be difficult, this week is difficult squared.  Between work, a sick baby, the upcoming wedding, and some general misfortune I'm beyond running on empty.  K1 asked if I had time to set and relax at all and I told her I might be able to in 2 days.

After a night of disturbed sleep I didn't even have the time to use the restroom between the time I left the house until I returned around 5:40pm.  Which isn't good for me.  Although, it could have been worse.  I forgot my tea and water bottle at home, so didn't have anything to eat or drink during that time period either.

Days like today I just want to collapse when I get home, except inevitably days like today I'm precluded from relaxing because there's still work to be done when I get home.

Days like today calls for a simple meal ready to pull out of the fridge and throw on the table.  Because actually making a meal is just too much effort. And since we're still under the weather, soup it is!

This was supposed to be chicken noodle soup.  (Cure what ails you), but we didn't have any noodles.  (Told you it's been one of those weeks).  We did have some gnocchi - which is one of my favorite pastas anyway. 

 Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup
2 cups cooked chicken, chopped  (I like to use whatever leftovers I have for this)
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups milk
1 stalk celery, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 carrot, shredded
1/2 onion, chopped
1 cup spinach, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
sprig thyme
salt and pepper   
8 oz egg noodles 

  1. Heat oil in a pot over medium heat.  Saute the onion, celery, garlic, carrot  until onion is translucent.
  2. Add chicken, chicken broth, milk, salt and pepper to taste, and thyme.  Bring to a boil.
     gnocchi. Gently boil for 4 minutes, then turn down to a simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the egg noodles and bring back to a boil.  Boil for 4 minutes, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Add spinach and cook for another 1-2 minutes until spinach is wilted.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Chip off the old block

It's been a crazy day here.  It started when Thatbaby decided to wake up at 5:40 instead of his typical, later wakeup.  Which always throws us into a tizzy as we pass him back and forth while attempting to get ready for work.  This was compounded today by the fact that I had a hearing in court early, so had to get out of the house an hour earlier than I usually do.

Work was crazy from the moment I stepped into the courthouse, to the moment I left the rest of them in a tizzy an hour later than I was planning.  And I would have stayed amidst the craziness later, except some baby had to go see the doctor.  Thatbaby kicked that fever to the curb last week.  He was healthy all weekend.  And Sunday night he decided being healthy was for the birds.  He was up all night congested and stuffy.  In his nose, his throat, and his eyes.  And because his eyes kept getting more and more goopy, we brought him in to the doctor tonight.  Guess what baby has pink eye?  

Between the doctor's visit and the pharmacy we didn't get home till 8:30, which meant dinner was grabbed on the way home so we could eat quickly and get sick-o ready for bed.  Good thing I have some old posts just waiting to go.

This soup was made a couple weeks ago, back when Thatbaby was healthy.  But I thought it would be fitting to post now.  Especially since Thatboy and I are both battling colds.  We're eating a lot of soup. 

Thatbaby "helped" me make this one.  He was in one of his fussy "play with me!!!!!" moods as I was cooking it, so I scooped him up as I transferred the vegetables from the cutting board to the pot.  Normally I'll hand him a spoon or spatula to play with, but this time, before I could hand something over, he took matters into his own hand.  He grabbed a handful of kale and it went right in his mouth.  He loved it.  He went back for seconds.  Guess we know he's really mine.

I love soups with kale.  And I love soups with sausage.  This has both.  Soups are fantastic for using up vegetables that are past their prime. For me, that was some celery and carrots that were starting to be less than crisp.  You can feel free to use whatever is in your fridge that you're looking to get rid of.

Portuguese Sausage Soup
1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni
3Tbsp olive oil
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes with green chiles
2 cups chicken broth
2  cans cannelini beans
1 can kidney beans
1 bunch of kale
1 stick of Portuguese sausage chopped
  1. Prepare macaroni according to package directions, drain. 
  2. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a pot.  Saute carrots, celery, sausage, and onion until onion is translucent.
  3. Add tomatoes with liquid, broth, pepper and 4-5 cups water. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  4. Drain beans.In small bowl, mash 1 can white beans with fork.
  5. Add the mashed beans, whole beans, macaroni, and kale to the soup.  Heat through.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Going Through A Phase

It started simply enough.  Now that Thatbaby is eating the same food as Thatboy and I, I want to make sure that what he's eating is healthy.  Or at least not crap.  I got the brilliant idea to make my own bread for him.  So I could keep an eye on the preservatives and give him something fresh from the hearth.

The problem is, it's been a while since I've made bread.  I forgot how much I love making bread.  I LOVE making bread.  I love the feel of the dough, the smell of the yeast, the joy of punching it down, its warm goodness straight from the oven.

They say it takes very little for an addict to relapse.  It's true.  I started innocently enough.   "I'll just make a loaf of white bread."  That's all it took.  I've been making bread ever since.  Making it faster than we can eat it. 

To be fair, Thatboy says I can't really call it white bread.  We don't have white flour in the house.  I traded it out for white whole wheat flour long ago.  Normally, it doesn't raise an eyebrow, but apparently when I set down a loaf of bread and call it "white bread" I've crossed some kind of line. 

So I won't all this white bread, I'll call it the gateway bread.  And you can expect to see many more bread recipes rolling through this way.

Not Quite White Bread (adapted from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
2 Tbsp shortening
2 1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
1 cup hot milk
1 pkg yeast
6 cups white whole wheat flour
  1. Mix the shortening, salt, and sugar in a large bowl, add the hot milk and 1 cup hot water, and let cool to lukewarm.  
  2. In a small bowl or cup mix the yeast with 1/4 cup warm water and let it stand for 5 minutes to dissolve.  
  3. Add the dissolved yeast and 3 cups of the flour to the first mixture and beat until well blended.  
  4. Add 2 more cups of flour, mix, and turn out onto a lightly floured board. Knead for a minute or two and then let rest for 10 minutes.  
  5. Adding just enough of the remaining flour so that the dough is not sticky, resume kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic.  Put the dough in a large, greased bowl, cover, and let rise n a warm spot until double in bulk.  
  6. Punch down and shape into two loaves.  Place in greased loaf pans, cover, and let double in bulk again.  
  7. Preheat oven to 425.  Bake bread for 15 minutes, reduce heat to 375 and bake for 30 minutes more.  Remove from pan and cool on racks.

Friday, May 18, 2012

I'm sensing a theme...

Some families have a weekly meal plan that goes something like this:  Monday - Mexican, Tuesday - Chicken, Wednesday - breakfast for dinner, Thursday - pasta, etc. etc. etc.  Not us.  I'm all over the map when I menu plan.  Nothing stays the same from week to week.

Except there's no such thing as always and never.  And recently I've found I've been following a kind of pattern over the past few weeks.  Nothing as blatant as Mexican Monday, but something Mexican has found its way onto our menu every week.  Same with chicken burgers.  Not to long ago I mentioned I wasn't a huge fan of chicken burgers - but those chicken parmesan burgers were so good, I've been a little hooked.

I've been looking around for some other twists on the usual chicken burgers to see if I like them as well.  I do.  This one especially.  This could be my favorite chicken burger of all times.  I know, that may not mean much since I don't have a huge population to choose from, but I'm working on that. 

I think part of the allure of this burger is that there is so much yummy goodness tucked in with the chicken - olives, feta, tomatoes - some of my favorite thing rolled up with chicken and topped with a tangy yogurt sauce.  I'm a pretty big fan of yogurt sauce too, so that definitely helps.

Greek Chicken Burgers (from Bakin And Eggs)
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon olive oil
Squeeze of lemon juice (maybe 1 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
1 pound ground chicken
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup baby spinach, chopped
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup kalamata olives, chopped
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley (or 1 -2 tablespoons fresh)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
A few cranks of freshly ground pepper

  1. Whisk together yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, and parsley. 
  2.  Combine the ground chicken, egg, spinach, tomatoes, olives, feta, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
  3. Form the chicken mixture into 4 patties.
  4. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add a little oil and burgers. Cook about 6-8 minutes per side.
  5. Serve on toasted, buttered buns with sauce, lettuce and tomato. Top with extra feta if desired.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Because spinach isn't really a meal

Lest you think we survive on green leafy vegetables, I figured I'd share with you the rest of the meal.  Especially since dinner tonight isn't going to be blog-worthy as it was eaten pretty late.  Thatbaby is feeling better during the day, but the past 2 nights we've been fighting a bedtime battle.

Our usual sweet and easy boy has been fighting sleep like it's his job.  And letting out the most awful, pathetic cries.  So much so that I brought him in to the doctor today to verify there was nothing horribly wrong with him.  There wasn't.  Dr. R just thinks he might be uncomfortable because he doesn't feel well.  Which doesn't  change the fact that we weren't eating dinner tonight until 9pm.

Soooo anyway, back to the steak.  This was one of those, "hmmmm I wonder if this would work" kind of meals.  I usually make my sauces by deglazing the pan with wine.  This sauce has wine, but it also has the addition of something sweet - jam.  You can use whatever jam you'd like, I used guava jam  (because we had it!)

Tropical Steak
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp cumin
1 sprig oregano
1 sirloin steak
1/4 cup guava jam
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tbsp white wine 

  1. Whisk the olive oil, the vinegar, cumin, oregano, and 1/2 tsp salt in a resealable plastic bag. Add the steak, turning to coat it and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Combine the jam, garlic, and 1/3 cup of water in a small saucepan over medium heat.  
  3. Once the jam has melted, add 1 Tbsp olive oil, wine, and salt to taste.
  4. Simmer for 2 minutes and then let cool before drizzling over the steak.
  5. Remove the steak from the fridge 30 minutes before cooking.  Preheat the grill or the grill pan.
  6. Grill the steak 4-5 minutes per side for medium rare.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Poor Baby

Welp, it only took us 7.5 months, but we have our first sick baby alert. 

Yesterday I got the call as I was on my way into work - Thatbaby was running a fever and I needed to go pick him up.  When I got there he was asleep in his crib.  I scooped up his hot little body and brought him home.  We spent the day cuddled up on the couch.  He was just sleepy for most of the day, but when he was awake he was his usual chipper self.    When we called the after-hours nurse last night after his fever spiked she asked "is that him squealing and playing in the background?"  It was.  We didn't need to bring him in.

Instead we took turns going in to work today so one of us could stay home with our sick boy.  His fever seemed to have broken last night, but then started trending upwards this morning before heading back down to normal again.  We're playing it safe and doing split duty tomorrow too.

One of the signs that Thatbaby wasn't feeling up to snuff was that he turned his head at his usual food favorites.  He was still eating fine from his main food source - me.  But the watermelon and butter noodles went untouched.  Today it was clear he was feeling better when he was back to gnawing on bread and shoving spinach in his mouth by the handfuls.

Spinach, that dark, green, leafy, magic vegetable which I can only imagine is chock full of the kinds of things that a sick baby needs to get well again.  And as a special treat, I stirred some cheese into this one - because we all know how much I love cheese.  Almost as much as I love spinach.  But only a fraction of the amount I love that sick little boy of mine.

Cheesy Spinach
10 oz frozen spinach
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp onion, chopped
1/2 can evaporated milk
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp celery salt
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

  1. Cook spinach according to directions on package. Drain and reserve liquid. 
  2. Melt butter in a pan over low heat.
  3. Add the flour, stirring until a paste forms and bubbles.
  4. Add onions and sauté 3-5 minutes or until translucent. 
  5. Add evaporated milk, spinach liquid and Worcestershire sauce slowly, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Cook mixture until smooth and thick, stirring constantly. 
  6. Add pepper, celery salt, garlic salt, and cheese.  Stir until melted.
  7. Stir in the spinach.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Safety First

As much as I hate to share, this weekend was not all about me.  Thatboy had a work event for most of the day Saturday.  Which gave Thatbaby and I time to run all of our errands so I wouldn't have anything keeping me from my Mother's Day fun.

Since we were running all over San Diego anyway, we decided to stop by Thatboy's event and say hi.  This weekend he was working with the police department in his area with their safety fair. 

There were some celebrity appearances.  Thatbaby was starstruck.

And there were representatives from several law enforcement agencies.  Thatbaby got deputized by the FBI, the police, and the fire department.  He got to sit in an FBI surveillance van and get up close and personal with a firetruck. 

But his run-in with the paddy wagon was perhaps my favorite vehicle of the day.

We didn't get to stay for lunch, there was too much to do, but the smell of fresh tacos permeated the air.  Which gave me an idea for dinner.  Tacos it was!  We do a lot of chicken tacos round these parts, so I thought I would change it up a bit.  Whenever I'm looking for a way to treat pork, Bridget is my go-to source.  Somehow she just gets it.  And this recipe is no different.  The pastor tacos round these parts usually use lamb, but pork is an excellent and easy make at home solution.  And pretty much anything with the addition of pineapple is A-OK in my book!

Tacos al Pastor (From The Way The Cookie Crumbles)
1 pineapple, peeled, cut crosswise into ½-inch-thick rounds
1/2 onion
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
1/4 cup guajillo chile powder
3 garlic cloves, halved
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 large or 2 small chipotle chiles and 1 to 2 teaspoons adobo from canned chipotle chiles in adobo
2½-to 3-pounds boneless pork loin, cut into ½-inch slices

1. Puree 2 of the pineapple slices.  Pour into a bowl and refrigerate that and the remaining pineapple. 
2. Coarsely chop the onion half and place in a blender with the orange juice, vinegar, chile powder, garlic, salt, oregano, cumin, and chipotle chiles; puree marinade until smooth.
3. Place the sliced pork in a large resealable plastic bag. Add the marinade and the seal the bag, releasing excess air. Chill at least 4 hours and up to 1 day. About half an hour before the grill is ready, add the reserved pineapple juice to the marinating meat.
4. Heat a grill to medium-high heat. Grill the pineapple slices until warm and slightly charred, 4 to 6 minutes per side.
5. Grill the pork, with some marinade still clinging to it, until it’s slightly charred and cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes per side.
6. Transfer the pineapple and pork to a work surface; chop pineapple into ½-inch cubes, discarding cores.
7. Chop (or shred) the pork. Transfer the pork and pineapple to a platter or serving bowl; toss to combine.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Momma Momma

To all the moms out there - I hope you had a fabulous weekend! I hope you got to do exactly what you wanted - whether that means you spent time with or without your family.

For my first mother's day we went all out.  Or, should I say Thatboy went all out.  It started on Friday with a Mother's Day picnic at Thatbaby's daycare.  Nothing better than watching your child light up when they see your face.

And then on Sunday, Thatboy took the baby and sent me away.  While the boys went for a hike, Thatmom and I headed to the The Spa.  Thatboy had set up the whole day for us.  We had manicures and pedicures, lunch by the pool, and spent time napping and reading in the sun.  And Thatboy also arranged for a little treat for each of us.

 When we got home, I was greeted by another little token of appreciation from my boys.  Turns out, they did a little more than hiking.

And then we headed to dinner with the whole family.  I loved everything about the day, but there was one thing that I had asked for.  One thing I didn't have that I really wanted.  A picture of me, Thatbaby, and Thatmom.

And since it was my special day,  I'm using it as an opportunity to share one of my favorite dishes with you, chili!  (I know, you're shocked.) 

Black Bean Chili
2 cans black beans, drained
1 can diced tomatoes with green chiles
1 diced chipotle chili pepper in adobo sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb ground beef
1 red onion, diced
1 tbsp chili powder
1 1/2 tbsp ancho chile powder
1/4 tsp chipotle chile powder
2 1/2 tsp cumin
2 cups beef broth
2 tbsp tomato paste

  1. In a Dutch oven, heat half of the olive oil and brown the ground beef.  Remove beef from the dutch oven.
  2. Add the remaining olive oil to the dutch oven and saute the onions until they are translucent. 
  3. Add the chili powders and cumin and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds). 
  4. Add beef stock, browned ground beef, beans, diced tomatoes, chipotle chile pepper and tomato paste.  Simmer over low heat, uncovered, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Sunday Supper

I mentioned it yesterday, but last weekend I decided it was time to revive the age old tradition of "Sunday Supper."  (But only for one week, since this week we'll be going out to celebrate what a fantastic mom I am.)

I decided to go for the classic, roast chicken and veggies.  There's just something about being home long enough during the day to roast a chicken for dinner.  There's little that can beat it.  Of course, I have a soft spot for roast chicken in general. I just adore it.   It's just so easy, and so flavorful!

But variation isn't my strong suit in roast chicken.  Normally I just coat it with some fat (either oil or butter) and some herbs and let the oven take over.  Occasionally I throw some aromatics in the cavity when I'm feeling spicy.  Which is why this recipe was appealing to me.  It's simple, uses some of my favorite aromatics (citrus) and leaves you with a great flavorful gravy. 

And the best thing about making a roast chicken on a Sunday is that you have leftovers for during the week!  Stay tuned for the soup I made with ours.

Garlic and Citrus Chicken (From Giada De Laurentiis)
1 whole roasting chicken
Salt and pepper
1 orange, quartered
1 lemon, quartered
1 head garlic, halved crosswise, plus 3 garlic cloves, chopped
28 oz chicken broth
1/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil 
  1. Preheat to 400. Pat the chicken dry and sprinkle the cavity with salt and pepper. 
  2. Stuff the cavity with the orange, lemon, and garlic halves. 
  3. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Place the chicken, on the rack in a roasting pan. Roast the chicken for 1 hour, basting occasionally. 
  4. Whisk the orange juice, lemon juice, oil, and chopped garlic in a medium bowl to blend. Brush some of the juice mixture over the chicken, after it has baked 1 hour. Continue roasting the about 45 minutes longer, basting the chicken with the juice mixture. Transfer the chicken to a platter. Tent with foil while making the sauce.
  5. Place the same roasting pan over medium-low heat. Whisk in any remaining broth and simmer until the sauce is reduced to 1 cup, stirring often, about 3 minutes.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Egg Puffs

Sometimes I get frustrated with Thatboy.  Mostly when he takes his firm grasp of the obvious, and states it as though it was a bad thing.

Like these gougeres.  I've made gougeres before.  I thought they went over well.  I remember liking them.  At least liking them enough that when I decided to pull out all the stops for a fancy Sunday dinner I made sure to include them on the menu.  I love the light puffiness.  They way they taste like little clouds.  Even better - cheesy little clouds!

Thatboy however, took one bite and paused.  "They taste....eggy." 

"That's probably because they're little more than eggs and flour.  They're basically egg puffs."


And with that, there was a whole lot more of these egg puffs for Thatbaby and I.  He enjoyed them just as much as I do.  Even if they are eggy.

 Salt-and-Pepper Gougeres Adapted from Sunset December 2003 as seen on Elizabeth's Edible Experience
                                                          1/2 cup (1/4 lb.) butter, cut into chunks
                                                          1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
                                                          6 large eggs, beaten to blend
                                                          1 1/4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
                                                          1 1/2 teaspoons fresh-ground pepper
                                                          Coarse sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 400.  Bring 1 1/2 cups water and the butter to a full rolling boil in a large pot over medium high heat.
2. Remove from heat, add flour all at once, and stir until mixture is a smooth, thick paste with no lumps.
3. Add the beaten eggs, a quarter at a time, stirring vigorously after each addition until dough is no longer slippery.
4.  Stir in cheese and pepper.
5.  Drop dough on sheets in slightly rounded tablespoon-size portions.
6. Sprinkle each mound with a few grains of coarse sea salt.  Bake for 30 minutes.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Who Lives in a Pineapple Under the Sea?

Sponge Bob Square Pants!

Everyone knows all about that cute little sea animal who is best friends with an starfish and a squid.  He works for a crab at the undersea version of McDonalds where instead of serving hamburgers, they serve crabby patties.

The crabby patty brings in fishes by the schools, all addicted to Mr. Crab's secret recipe.  One resident of Bikini Bottom in particular is hot to get his hands on the recipe.

Well, don't let Plankton know, but I've figured out the secret.  I'm sure you've seen all those "Top Secret Recipe" books promising your favorites from well known restaurants.  When the restaurants refuse to give up their secrets, often the test kitchen cooks can create a reasonable facsimile.

My own kitchen has been hard at work trying to figure this one out.  It seems easy enough - it's really just a crab cake on a bun.  But the problem is, most crabcakes are a conglomeration of mayo and crab which is less than appetizing to me.  My favorite crab cake is one that it pretty much just crab with a light breading to hold it together.  So that's what I did here.

Thatboy topped his with some sriracha, but I don't need the extra spice. 
 Crabby Patties
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 cup panko
1 chopped green onion
salt and pepper
2 snowcrab clusters
1 Tbsp canola oil
2 rolls
8 thin cucumber slices
1/2 avocado, thinly sliced 

  1. Combine egg, 1/4 cup panko, onion, salt, pepper, and crabmeat. 
  2. Shape into 2 patties. Sprinkle remaining crumbs into shallow dish and dip patties into crumbs.
  3. Heat oil in a skillet and fry patties for 10 minutes, flipping halfway. 
  4. Cut rolls in half and toast. 
  5.  Layer cucumber, patties, then avocado on half of the rolls, then sandwich with tops.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Roasted and Covered

It should come as now small surprise that we like roasted veggies in this house.  There are several reasons that go beyond how tasty they are.

Like how easy they are to make.  Most of the time if I'm cooking something in the oven, it just makes sense to throw a tray of vegetables in their too.

Sometimes I do this even when I'm not going to be using them with that meal.  Thatbaby loves to snack on roasted veggies, so having some on hand is an easy addition to any of his meals.

But it also means that on nights when I'm not using the oven (like, say, when I'm serving quesadillas) I still can have some roasted vegetable goodness.

Roasted vegetables work just as well cold as they do hot.  In fact, one of my favorite potato salad recipes uses cooked, roasted vegetables, tossed in a creamy dressing.

This cold roasted veggie salad expounds on that - adding some cooked green beans and beets into the mix.  Each brings a different kind of sweetness to the salad, tempered by a tangy sour cream dressing.

 Cold Roasted Veggie Salad
1/2 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp dry mustard
cayenne pepper
1 cup roasted beets
1 cup roasted green beans
1 cup roasted new potatoes
  1. Combine the sour cream, vinegar, sugar, mustard, and a dash of cayenne.  Blend well.
  2. Toss the dressing with the beets, beans, and potatoes.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Siete de Mayo!

I'll be honest with you.  I don't speak Spanish.  I had to ask Thatboy for help entitling this post.  He doesn't really speak Spanish either - with the exception of  a rudimentary high school education.  But at least he can count.

Which is important when you miss the 5th of May.  Or at least miss posting a recipe for it.  Because in truth, we didn't miss it at all. 

Saturday I headed up to LA County for NotMya's bridal shower.  I dragged the boys halfway up with me.  They stayed with Thatmom while I partied with the girls.  Then I came home and we all headed out for a fiesta.  Margaritas, tequila, fajitas, chips, guacamole - we had it all.

But you don't get to enjoy that.  No one gets fat listening to what other people eat.  And Cinco de Mayo is all about the food - like any good holiday. 

So quesadillas at home it is!  This is not your typical quesadilla.  It is so far from Mexican that it makes my Fake-xican look authentic.  But it, as Thatboy says, surprisingly good!

I can't even remember where I first saw this - it's been all over the interwebs.  On so many blogs I read.  But everytime I saw it, I thought - I need to try that!  It has all the makings of some of my favorite things - quesadilla, bbq, and pineapple.  Put them together and it's just as delicious as it sounds.

So happy belated Cinco de Mayo!  Or  Feliz Cinco de Mayo*!

 Grilled Chicken & Pineapple Quesadillas (From The Pioneer Woman)
8 whole Flour Tortillas
Butter Or Margarine
2 cups crushed pineapple
3 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
Salt And Pepper, to taste
3 cups Monterey Jack Cheese, Grated
1 whole Jalapeno, Sliced
3 Tablespoons Barbecue Sauce

  1. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and Cajun spice.
  2. Drizzle olive oil on a grill pan and grill on both sides until done, brushing with barbecue sauce. Set aside and slice into very thin slices. 
  3. Warm griddle over medium heat and put sizzling butter or margarine in the pan. Slightly warm and toast tortillas on both sides, then remove from griddle and set aside.
  4. Sprinkle half of the tortillas with grated Monterey Jack. 
  5. Arrange chicken slices, pineapple, and jalapeno slices. Sprinkle on cilantro. 
  6. Drizzle extra barbecue sauce over the top. 
  7. Place a tortilla on top. Place back in the skillet and cook until the cheese is melted.
  8. Cut each quesadilla into six wedges.

*Disclaimer - neither of us are sure if this is the correct translation.

Friday, May 04, 2012


My boss held an orange in his hand, examining it.  "I don't like naval oranges,"  he informed me after a pause.  He told me stories of growing up in Orange County and having "orange fights" with his friends.  "You'd take a bite from the orange to open it up and then throw it.  The juice would explode all over the person."

I looked at him for a minute.  "Why would you waste a perfectly good orange?" 

I told him of my love for Cara Cara oranges.  He's never had, so I'm going to bring him in some on Monday.  And then I came home and decided that all this talk of Cara Caras and oranges was making me hungry.

Fruit salad with dinner was definitely called for.  They say you can't compare apples and oranges, but you can certainly combine them.  Add a couple of bananas in the mix and I can't think of a more classic fruit salad.

 Apple, Banana, and Cara Cara Salad
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp paprika
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup canola oil
poppy seeds
1 apple, sliced
1 cara cara orange, sliced
1 banana, sliced
  1. Combine the mustard, sugar, paprika, and lemon juice in an electric mixer.
  2. Slowly add the canola oil while the mixer is on.   Beat until thickened.
  3. Add the poppy seeds and mix to combine.
  4. Combine the sliced apple, orange, and banana.  Toss with the dressing.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

A Successful Chicken Burger

I promised you more chicken recipes... and I always keep a promise.

I had some leftover ground chicken and needed a good recipe to use it up.  In general, I'm not a huge fan of chicken burgers.  I feel like they have a funny taste that turkey burgers or regular burgers just don't share.

I love chicken parmesan, so this chicken parmesan burgers sounded really interesting to me.  Heck, I'm willing to try anything once.  (Except fish.  I'm pretty convinced I'm not interested in fish even without trying every kind out there.)

I was taking double the chance here.  First with the whole chicken burger thing, but also - have you ever made chicken parmesean with ground chicken?  Me neither. 

This came together really easily though.  Even easier than I thought it would be given that I completely forgot to toast the bread.  And then I forgot to slice the bread for the sandwich part.  I got a little over eager about using these rolls I had picked up.  No harm, no foul.

No matter what you may deviate from, or mess up on, there is one thing I must insist on.  It's something I always insist on - make sure you're using fresh mozzarella.  The fresher the better!  (I'm such a snob when it comes to cheese!)

 Turkey (or Chicken) Parmesan Burgers (From the March 2010 issue of Bon Appetit, as seen on Oishii)

10 1/2-inch-thick slices French bread (4 inches in diameter); 8 slices toasted, 2 slices (crust removed) diced
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons minced fresh basil, divided, plus 12 large basil leaves
3/4 cup purchased marinara sauce
3/4 lb. ground chicken (white meat) or ground turkey
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon grated onion
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces whole-milk mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
4 large radicchio leaves
  1. In a food processer, pulse diced bread and Parmesan to form fine crumbs. 
  2. Transfer to pie dish; mix in 2 tablespoons minced basil.
  3. Mix marinara and 2 tablespoons basil in small saucepan. Transfer 1 1/2 tablespoons sauce to large bowl. 
  4. Add chicken, 1/2 tablespoon oil, onion, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. 
  5. Sprinkle with pepper; blend. Shape into four 1/2-inch-thick patties; coat with crumbs. 
  6. Heat sauce over low heat.
  7. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook patties until bottoms are crusty, 4 minutes. 
  8. Turn patties over; top with cheese. Cook 3 minutes. Cover; cook until cooked through and cheese is melted, about 1 minute.
  9. Assemble burgers with bread, radicchio, basil leaves, and warm marinara.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Cheesy Chicken

Okay, so no more aspics - but you are probably going to be seeing a lot of chicken lately.  No specific reason, I just find that I fall back on chicken as a form of comfort food.

We always have some breasts in the freezer, it's easy to cook, and for the most part, everyone likes chicken.  Which is not to say that chicken has to be boring.  It is such a blank canvas that even if you have chicken for dinner every night, you don't have to have the same dish twice.

So this chicken dish?  It's very different than the Hawaiian chicken sandwich.  It's lacking fruit and sweetness, and substituting in a savory mix of chicken and artichoke.  Spinach artichoke dip is one of my favorite kinds of dips and this is only missing one element.  (An element that could very easily be added - and probably will the next time around.)

This chicken dish just screams comfort - the cheese is so warm and creamy, and cheese itself just makes me feel at home.  The artichokes seem so springy, but the rest of the dish almost reminds you that winter is still practically at your doorstep.  Perfect for these days that can't quite seem to decide what month they're in.

Artichoke Crusted Chicken (adapted from Sugarlaws)
2 chicken breasts, pounded thin
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup greek yogurt
1/4 cup artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/3 cup grated white cheddar cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 400.  Heat olive oil in a pan over medium high heat.  Sauté the chicken breast for about 8-10 minutes, flipping once, or until the juices run clear when pierced with a fork.  Set aside.
  2. Mix together the yogurt, artichoke hearts and cheddar cheese.  
  3. Spread the mixture over the sauteed chicken breasts.  Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbling.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Pineapple Pandamonium

"I'm really loving the salads we're having with dinners lately."

That's what Thatboy told me the other night.  And it's true.  I've been getting a little creative with our salads and dressings.

With the leftover pineapple from the Hawaiian Chicken Sandwich, I decided to make a tropical fruit salad.  Some pineapple, some mango, some coconut - all in a sweet pineapple dressing.

Serve this with something easy - like rice and chicken to jazz up the meal.  Or use it to complement something like tacos or terriyaki.  I warn you that it is VERY sweet - which makes it a very nice dessert too.  (Even though Thatboy thinks fruit isn't a real dessert.)

It also works well for breakfast, mixed in with yogurt or cottage cheese.  Fruit is ever so versatile.

Tropical Fruit Salad
1/2 cup of honey
2 Tbsp crushed pineapple
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup pineapple chunks
1/2 avocado, sliced
 1/3 cup mango slices
2 Tbsp grated coconut
  1. Combine honey, pineapple, and lemon juice in a jar.  Put lid on and shake, shake, shake, senora.  Add as much salt as you'd like and refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. Combine pineapple, avocado, mango, and coconut.
  3. Dress with dressing when ready to serve.