Sunday, June 28, 2015

Barbacoa Tacos

We were on vacation last week, a short week at the North Shore. This meant a lot of meals out. I knew that I needed to make a meal plan of good, homemade food for the week.

I chose this first meal because it needed a few hours to braise and Sundays are good for that- it's usually a stay-at-home and relax day around here.



The beef roast was braised in a fragrant mixture of chipotle peppers, oregano, cumin, garlic, lime juice, broth, onions and a few other things. It came together easily and then I let it simmer for 3 hours. The house smelled great!


The meat is done and ready to be shredded.


And back in the sauce for a quick warmup.


I thought of my Grandma Loreto as I warmed up tortillas for dinner. I told James that one of my favorite memories is eating her fresh (flour) tortillas with mantequilla (butter). Mmmmm. He didn't believe me that it is heavenly- he needs some convincing. Challenge accepted!

Anyway, there was quite a bit of heat in this meal. I would cut the chipotle peppers from 4 to 3, maybe 2. We also talked about using "taco stand" size tortillas and doubling them up. The liquid from the beef and added lime juice squeezes made for tacos that fell apart. With the smaller tortillas there would be less guilt about eating four tortillas for two tacos? Well, it's a thought.

We are definitely making this again! It would be a great meal for guests since you're really just assembling at the last minute. We served this with fresh corn on the cob.

Click here for the stolen recipe for Barbacoa Tacos.


Thursday, January 1, 2015

Christmas Cookies 2014

I love Christmas cookies. I like that I get to be in charge of them every year (for both sides of the family) and I like making something new each year.

I asked my family for their requests. I received these: almond crack candy, Mexican wedding cakes, peanut butter blossoms with dark chocolate kisses, and chocolate peppermint crackles. Yay! The chocolate chip peppermint crackles were new to me, and I added Cinnamon Sugar cut-outs to round it out.


These didn't make it to the Christmas platters but I made gingerbread cake balls for a work holiday potluck. They were a hit!


A picture of my handy chocolate melter. I never thought it would get so much use. Melting chocolate for strawberries, for candy melts, cake balls, and now making my own body butter/creams (a later recipe?)


Back to cookies.

The Chocolate Chip Peppermint Crackle cookies were better than I expected. They had crushed peppermint candies inside the dough, tasted brownie-like, and then were topped with a piece of peppermint candy to make them pretty. I was so glad these made it on the platter!

The peanut blossoms are a pretty standard cookie but my Jimmy said these tasted better than usual. It's that love ingredient, you know! And the dark chocolate kisses were a great choice. Good job, Richie!



The Mexican Wedding Cake cookies. Can you believe that I didn't even try these? They are made with pecans. I'm okay with pecans but the peanut butter blossoms and almondy candy called my name so much more.



I really, really enjoyed making royal icing this year. I had this plan of making gnome cookies for over a month. I wanted to try an easier technique using royal icing and it worked so well! I made one huge batch of royal icing and then separated it into a few bowls for different colors. I only made one consistency of royal icing- thin enough to spread but thick enough to stay put. I used this woman's blog for her technique.

Here's Frosty the Snowman, complete with a flower on his hat! These were fun but required a lot of patience. The colors needed to be piped one color at a time, so they didn't run together. I'd wait 15-20 minutes and then go back to the cookie with another color or to add a detail on top of a color. They were worth it. I think they were darn near perfect.


One gnome as Santa!


The gnomes were the most fun. I knew my sister would love them :) I was even able to add the tiny eyeballs once I became familiar with the consistency of the royal icing. Delicate work.


The cookies dried overnight but I still took care that they wouldn't smear. I kept recalling my Thanksgiving cookie fiasco so I made sure the covered pan had plenty of room above each cookie and then I carried the tray on my lap during the car ride. They made it!


Yay for cookies!


Click here for the stolen recipe for Gingerbread Cake.

Click here for the stolen recipe for Cinnamon Sugar Cut-out Cookies.

Click here for the stolen recipe for Hershey's Peanut Butter Blossoms.

Click here for the stolen recipe for Mexican Wedding Cake Cookies (or Snowball Cookies).

Click here for the stolen recipe for Chocolate Chip Peppermint Crunch Crackle Cookies.

There is no shared recipe for the Almond Crack Candy. Sorry!


Soft Pretzel Nuggets with Spicy Cheese Dipping Sauce

App. App. Friends coming over for NYE. I was on the hunt for a challenge. I decided to try making pretzels since I had time on my hands and they looked surprisingly easy.

I think they turned out swell!


The yeasted dough needed to rise for about an hour.


Some quick sections, rolling, slicing and then they were ready for a quick baking soda/water bath.



They really didn't look too appetizing as they went into the oven...


But I was so glad to see them golden and pretty!


The pretzels right out of the oven were the best but I knew they'd still be delicious for later in the day. They were! They were chewy and flavorful. Our guests were happy too.

A cheese dip was included in BEB's blog entry so of course I made that. It was spicy, smoky, and delicious.



We just feasted on the leftovers during the Gophers football game. Yay for a good snack! (P.S. I didn't really watch football...)


Click here for the stolen recipe for Soft Pretzel Nuggets with Spicy Cheese Dipping Sauce.



Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Caramel Pork Ribs and Scalloped Potatoes with Blue Cheese and Roasted Garlic

I made my husband very happy. He said, "this is the best meal we've had in a long time!" That's a compliment, not an insult to the other things I've been cooking. I knew what he meant :)

I received two cookbooks for Christmas. This recipe is from my boyfriend's, I mean David Lebovitz. He never fails me.
The recipes both take longer than average so it was perfect for one of my winter break days. Or maybe a lazy Sunday in the future. The caramel pork ribs start with a nice carmelized sugar, and then a quick douse in beer and bourbon. Mmmmmm. Throw in a few more ingredients and the ribs and then slow roasted for 2+ hours.

I was worried, even though the recipe said to expect this, when the sugar seized up and hardened with the addition of the beer. It ended up fine, of course, just like my boyfriend said. Our house smelled delicious. Who needs bottled BBQ sauce?!

The scalloped potatoes start with some roasted garlic, so that needed to smell up the house for 45 minutes. And then some cream, some mandolined potatoes, and all that layered with chives and crumbled blue cheese. Baked in the oven for a bit more than an hour, alongside the ribs.





P.S. to my friend Katy. I used Rush River beer. I didn't know which kind of beer DL meant in his recipe so I chose a beer that I wouldn't mind drinking after I used just 3/4 cup of a bottle :) IPA it was and I got to support my Bakko brewers!


Here's the top picture again but with no filters. I take the quickest pictures at our dinner table even though I know I should take pictures with better light. I hate to ruin the dinner mood and brighten up the whole joint. I also get embarassed that I take food pictures sometimes. I think Jim knows me by now though :)




We couldn't get over the sauces, on both foods. The sweet caramel with a hint of ginger. Mmmmmmm. And the blue cheese creamy goodness!


I think my little sis would say this entire dinner was "slap yo momma" good. I know I should have included a vegetable too but it was a busy day here with three 8 year olds running around (play date) and then with all the extra steps with two new recipes.


My little sis also provided the wine for this meal. I looked up BBQ ribs and wine and Google suggested a syrah. Yup, had that! Wine is good food. I felt so grown up today.




Click here for the stolen recipe for David Lebovitz's Caramel Pork Ribs. This blog has awesome pictures of the caramelized sugar, the beer addition, etc.


Click here for the stolen recipe for David Lebovitz's Scalloped Potatoes with Blue Cheese and Roasted Garlic.



Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sesame Chicken Potstickers

I can't remember if I've ever made potstickers. Well, I should have a long time ago. My husband seriously chowed on these. He said these are "very, very good" but he's also regaining his appetite after being sick.

The ground chicken mixture with mushrooms was very "m" (moist, people) and very flavorful due to the soy sauce, ginger, and sesame oil. I'm super glad I doubled this recipe to freeze the extras!


We enjoyed this with the Crunchy Asian Slaw I've made before.


A little close-up of all the "m" action going on!


The recipe said to freeze the extras in a single layer overnight and then transfer to a ziplock bag.

My assembly/technique needs to be refined, but I got the job done. And I'll have a happy husband when I pull these out of the freezer sometime soon!


Ps I made plain old chicken potstickers for my son. He ate them well enough. It was no trouble to save a few tablespoons of ground chicken to make them. They also were good for taste testing. I was doubtful that they would cook through with only 2-3 minutes per side but they did!


Click here for the stolen recipe for Sesame Chicken Potstickers.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Chunky Pecan Pie Bars

I haven't kept up with my blogging and recipes. I keep saying I feel like I've lost my baking mojo.

For this recipe I was inspired by a challenge. The principal at my school had his birthday on Wednesday. The office staff decided to bring treats on Friday to celebrate. I asked him what he really, really, really likes because I wanted to make something new. Pecan pie. Uh....

I wasn't looking forward to pie crust. I knew I wouldn't even attempt it. So I decided to google "pecan pie" and "Brown Eyed Baker"- my favorite blogger. I knew she'd have some kind of recipe! Bars! A very simple recipe too!


This is a very simple crust to make. A stick of softened butta, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and 1 1/2 cups flour. Combine until crumbly and then press into a 13x9 pan! Easy! Bake for 10-15 minutes.

The filling is just as easy... Whip up some eggs, corn syrup, vanilla, sugar, and melted butter. Stir in chocolate chunks and chopped pecans.

Bake! Cool! Done!

A few of my coworkers said these bars were amazing. I totally trust their opinion. I did taste a bit of these bars but not too much. I don't really care for pecans. Weird huh? But my whole pan of bars disappeared so I know they were enjoyed. And the birthday guy told me they were "yummy". Oh good!

I would make these again for pecan pie fans :)

Click here for the stolen recipe for Chunky Pecan Pie Bars.


Stay tuned. I have quite a few new recipes that I just never posted!


Monday, August 18, 2014

Crockpot Asian Pork with Mushrooms

Good job, Self, for planning a crockpot meal on my first day back to work. Better yet my wonderful husband did all the prep work in the morning and it was cooking away when I got home! Nothing is better than coming home and smelling dinner prepping!


Well, okay, it gets better when your husband remembers there is a bottle of wine in the fridge and he pours you a glass. Ahhhhhh!


I've made this recipe once before but I guess I did not blog it.

We used a pork tenderloin instead of a roast. No reason, it's just what I bought at Costco. I think it should not cook for the entire 8 hours then, and my husband wisely saw this and set it to warm early. He seared up the pork this morning, mixed up the spices and ingredients and let it bubble.

There's a sweet spiciness to this, with a bit of ginger. I didn't ask if he added more ginger than the recipe states (I usually do to any recipe) but I think he did.

So delicious flavors, easy to make, and even better if someone else cooks it!

P.s. The recipe states that you can prep this the night before, searing and all, and then just turn it on in the morning! See recipe directions.

Click here for the stolen recipe for Crock Pot Asian Pork with Mushrooms.


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Crab Cakes with Ginger and Lime, with Triple Pork Fried Rice

The rice is from yesterday's meal but I was happy to have it to round out tonight's meal. My husband is crazy for anything ginger so I immediately bookmarked (or pinned) the crab cake recipe when I saw it.

Crab cakes are kind of indulgent for my summer budget and then I had to have a nice wine to with it, so this meal was an unexpected yayyyyyy! (Rosè wine not pictured.)


Yesterday I posted this pretty picture to Instagram and titled it "Bacon is pretty."

It was a lot of bacon but my husband digs it. He actually is drawn to the smell of bacon cooking...he comes into the kitchen to nibble it and I usually scold him.

The Triple Fried Rice called for bacon, ham, and chopped pork chops. I had canadian bacon so I called that close enough to ham.

The finished fried rice. Everything was cooked in small amounts of bacon grease. Yum.


I also posted this picture of the dirty dishes. I watched an interesting video yesterday about the lost art of cooking. So many Americans don't take the time to cook and instead rely on easy, processed foods. The average amount of cook time is 15-20 minutes, mainly to boil water or reheat proceeded food. That uses about a pot and very few other dishes, so the average time for dish washing is four minutes.

I'm kinda proud to tell you that my husband spends about 15 minutes doing the many dishes that I dirty- cutting boards, prep bowls, food processor parts, multiple pots and pans, etc.

Poor Jim!


I mixed the lump crab meat, cilantro, grated ginger, panko breadcrumbs, lime zest, green onions, mayo, and hot sauce about an hour before I wanted to sauté them.


I showed my son that these are made just like his beloved chicken sandwiches- dipping in flour, egg, and panko, but with crab. No go. He tried a bite and liked the crunch but not the crab. More for us?

One or two minutes per side in a bit of olive oil and butter and they were done!

We really enjoyed these. I could probably add a bit more ginger and hot sauce to kick these up a notch in flavor.


Click here for the stolen recipe for Crab Cakes with Ginger and Lime.

Click here for the stolen recipe for Triple Pork Fried Rice.


Monday, June 16, 2014

Chocolate Mousse

I made this mousse for Father's Day. I liked that I had all the ingredients in my fridge and pantry. One should always have bittersweet chocolate- you just never know when it will come in handy!


I'd never made mousse before but my sister Ana had success with a recipe and when I looked it up I had all the ingredients, the steps seemed easy enough and I had the four hours to chill it before we'd eat it.

The mousse is incredibly rich and delicious. It had a deep chocolate and coffee taste, and even the splash of dark rum could be tasted. My little one said that it tasted like chocolate frosting. I agreed but thought of the chocolate Swiss meringue frosting that I've made before- whipped, shiny, and delicious.

So I would definitely make this again but I would give smaller portions. None of us finished our small cups of mousse. It was a lot of chocolate!

Ahhhh! I just went to look for the recipe link and just realized that the suggested servings for this recipe is 6-8 portions. No wonder it seemd like so much- I portioned it for four! Also, the recipe is Julia Child's Perfect Chocolate Mousse! I found it on David Lebovitz's website and since he's one of my favorite chefs/bloggers I trusted the recipe.

Click here for the stolen recipe for Julia Child's Perfect Chocolate Mousse.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Bars

I pretended it was really spring and almost summer as I made this flavor combo. My Jim loves his strawberry rhubarb pies in the summer, so I hoped these bars would hit the spot.

I made a few small mistakes with the first try.


The first try I didn't press the crumb mixture firmly into the pan. I dumped it in and scooted it to the edges, pressing slightly. This made for crumbly bars. They tasted great and we ate most of them but they sure weren't neat. The bottom crust never really came together.

My other mistake was that I used foil to line the pan. The foil stuck horribly to the bars. I may have ingested tiny bits of the foil that just didn't come off. Oh well.

So this second try I hope the bars are much better. They are headed to my work for a friend's 40th birthday surprise!

So I did firmly press the oat mixture into the bottom of the pan. I also used parchment paper to line the pan, and I can tell already that they will cut much easier.

Yay! Great for breakfast or dessert!

Click here for the stolen recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Bars.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

"Hotdish" and Blackberry Chèvre Salad

Actually, I don't like the word hotdish. I prefer casserole. It's kind of like my inner struggle with "supper" versus dinner. I prefer dinner. I think I'm resistant to being completely Minnesotan. I have California roots!


I'm done with the Pioneer Woman. I still follow her blog and I bookmarked this recipe. I bought all the ingredients but didn't end up making it last week. My broccoli was on the verge of expiring so I pulled out the recipe for tonight's dinner. I read through the reviews and saw many people proclaim this casserole bland and fussy. I proceeded knowing I should add salt and love to make it right.

I say I'm done because I haven't had much luck with her recipes lately.

So this Broccoli Wild Rice Casserole was okay. Just okay. It happens. It was a lot of chopping and prep, so it's not worth a repeat performance.


There is a layer of wild rice, blanched broccoli, cooked chicken (my addition), and then a homemade cream of mushroom type sauce (with a pound of diced mushrooms, some carrots and celery). Oh, and then a layer of panko crumbs tossed with butter.


OMG. We have TONS left. I was going to half the recipe, I really was, but I had so much broccoli to use. I did add chicken so I did reduce the amount of rice and broccoli, just slightly. I worried about another ingredient soaking up the sauce so that was my adjustment.


Truly, the star of the meal was the Blackberry Chèvre Salad. I am in love with goat cheese. I couldn't find honey chèvre at my local grocery store so I used plain goat cheese drizzled with honey. I toasted the pecans in butter and spices, and I blended some fresh blackberries with red wine vinegar, honey, olive oil, and S&P.


F@$% yeah! I'm really glad I liked this because this is the start of our week of salads. Side salads and main dish salads. It just feels right.

Click here for the stolen recipe for Wild Rice Broccoli Casserole.

Click here for the stolen recipe for Blackberry Chèvre Salad.