Sunday, September 30, 2007

Tex-Mex Breakfast Tacos

There was a little leftover beef from the enchiladas so I used it to make breakfast tacos this morning:

I reheated the beef in a skillet and then added the eggs. While they were cooking I charred some corn tortillas over the gas flame. I put some of the egg mixture topped with leftover salsa in each tortilla and breakfast was served.
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It's been awhile since I took any good photos of our cat. For starters, I can only take his picture during the day when I can use natural light because he looks like he's possessed if I use the flash. Then there's the issue of once he sees the camera he jumps up from the cute position he was sitting in and comes running over to me for a petting session. Makes it kind of hard to take a decent photo, not to mention capture his adorable poses. After missing a great picture of him on the huge chair in our bedroom I managed to take this one of him:

... as he was trying to get me to scratch his chin. After snapping a dozen photos where he turned his head at the last second I let him go off and do his thing and then followed him. Luckily he stopped in the upstairs hall in front of the window where there was plenty of sunlight:

I wish he would stand still long enough for me to get some good photos but he's finicky like that. Shocking for a cat, I know.
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Tex-Mex Beef Enchiladas

Last night I made the same Tex-Mex Beef Enchiladas that I made for Cinco de Mayo:

... but as you can see from my plate, they didn't hold together like they did last time:

They still tasted fantastic but, as SP has told me countless times, he isn't a fan of corn tortillas. I need to find a good recipe for enchiladas using flour tortillas, if one even exists.
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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Pizza Friday

I don't know about the rest of you, but this past week was one of the longest of my life. For some reason every day felt like Friday and it was a serious struggle to get up and go to work. By the time the real Friday rolled around I was more than ready. After a lackluster lunch I was having a serious craving for chicken wings so I asked SP to pick up a pack as a pre-pizza snack:

... and they were delectable, as always. We do love chicken wings and that spicy, tangy Frank's hot sauce. The pizza, on the other hand, was not delectable. Sometimes experimenting can reap great rewards (like last week's pizza with pesto and leftover chicken parm) but this week's experiment went awry:

It certainly looked tasty, but the end result wasn't very good. I made a pesto using some spinach my mom gave me from their veggie box and it really overwhelmed the pizza. I put all of it on (first mistake, the pizza was drowning in it), and you couldn't taste any of the tomato sauce or other ingredients. There were some slow-cooked onions in there too, as well as some slice of fresh tomato. Lesson learned - sometimes keeping things simple is the best plan.
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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Neapolitan Mac & Cheese

SP and I were watching Lidia's Italy over the weekend and we saw her make a dish called Neapolitan Mac & Cheese. Everything about it looked good - the bacon, the onions, the garlic all cooked with pasta and potatoes with provolone cheese tossed in at the end. While I was cooking it smelled fantastic in the kitchen, the prep was easy and the final product looked quite enticing:

That is until I took my first bite. I'd only had provolone as a single slice on a sandwich so I had no idea how strong it was. Yowzer! I took a few bites trying to pick out the tomato, onion, bacon and potatoes but it was no use - the taste of the provolone overwhelmed everything else. SP could tell I didn't like it, which is a shame because he absolutely loved it. Then again, he's a fan of strong cheeses.

So this was my dinner instead:

SP, the loving husband that he is, ran out to Chik-Fil-A for me once he realized I wasn't a fan of the pasta.

Mmmm....nuggets. And sweet-n-sour sauce. And waffle fries. Yum!
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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Smothered Pork Chops

When my plans for Thai food with friends fell through at the last minute I needed to come up with a quick dinner idea. Some people on a cooking board I frequent recommended Tyler Florence's recipe for Smothered Pork Chops and since bone-in chops were on sale at the supermarket this week it seemed like the perfect solution.

It was recommended I serve the chops with mashed potatoes to sop up all the yummy gravy (and potatoes were on sale - how fortuitous). I also steamed a few heads of broccoli and dinner was served.

One of the things I liked about this recipe was that the chops were coated in a seasoned flour mixture, which gave them a nice crispy exterior. I seasoned the flour with salt, pepper, cayenne and garlic powder. We don't keep onion powder on hand so I finely diced half an onion and cooked it in the pan before making the gravy. Because of the cayenne in the flour the gravy has just the slightest hint of heat, which SP and I agreed was a very welcome addition. I also skipped the buttermilk, opting instead for plain old milk. It worked out fine, but I'm sure it would add a nice tang to the gravy.

I mashed the potatoes with more of my Plugra butter. They were absolutely delicious. Overall a fantastic, satisfying meal.
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Monday, September 24, 2007

Pasta and Garlic Bread

Monday is here again and we've got another meal of pasta with sauce and garlic bread. As I've mentioned before we get spoils from my parents CSA vegetable box and at this point in the season they're getting a ton of sauce tomatoes. SP made another batch of sauce, adding some leftover green pepper and onion he diced for another recipe last week as well as some fresh oregano that came in the box.

We had the other half of the baguette we used last week:

... slathered with butter, garlic and parsley. Maybe one day soon we'll indulge and have garlic bread with cheese like I used to make. That stuff is insanely good.
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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Dinner with the Parents

My parents invited us over for dinner and I actually remembered to bring my camera along! My stepgrandmother was there, along with some old family friends. We noshed on some nicoise olives on the deck while we nursed gin and tonics:

My stepfather wanted the meal to be a bunch of little dishes (like tapas) so we had a corn, avocado and tomato salad he came up with after enjoying the one I make:

My contribution was my Thai pineapple rice:

... made with basmati, chunks of pineapple, jalapeno, soy sauce, onion and cilantro. Our friends brought a cast iron skillet full of crispy roasted potatoes:

We also had delectable crab cakes:

... a nice piece of flaky grilled salmon served with a dill mayonnaise:

... chunks of rare tuna in a soy marinade:

... and shrimp in anchovy butter, an homage to a restaurant my family enjoys:

My plate, clockwise from the top - a piece of crab cake, roasted potatoes, a chunk of tuna, shrimp, salmon, Thai pineapple rice and corn salad:

My stepgrandmother brought a huge fruit salad to finish off the meal:

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Breakfast Sandwich

I needed something quick and easy this morning so I made an old favorite:

... the breakfast sandwich. I cooked one piece of bacon and layered it on a toasted, buttered English muffin with a thick slice of tomato and a fried egg seasoned with salt and pepper.
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Last Hurrah

Last weekend, when a jacket was a necessary accessory in the mornings and evenings, when we slept with the windows open and it so cold we shivered, we decided we'd go apple picking with friends this weekend. I had a whole fall menu planned. We were excited. Then the temperature rose steadily all week and by Saturday it was humid and approaching 90. Not exactly apple picking weather. Instead Saturday found us eating hot dogs, hamburgers and potato salad in a last hurrah send-off to summer.

Our friends C & D came over and we embarked on a long afternoon and evening of food and fun. While the chicken wings baked in the oven:

... we scarfed down some chips and salsa. We cooked the wings for only 45 minutes this time and they were perfect - juicy and moist with enough crackle in the skin to make them extra tasty. I made up a plate of iceburg lettuce, thick slices of ripe tomato and thinly sliced onion for the burgers:

... and finished up my All-American potato salad:

My plate with some potato salad and my perfectly dressed burger:

... with lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo, ketchup and melted cheddar cheese. I knew when I was forming the patties that these burgers were going to be sensational. The meat felt buttery in my hands. I seasoned it with Worcestershire sauce, grated onion, salt and pepper. D wolfed down his burger before I'd even finished taking my photos and proclaimed it the best burger he'd ever had. After stuffing ourselves silly with food we took a long walk around the neighborhood and then settled in to watch a movie. Halfway through the movie started skipping, which provided the perfect opportunity for cake:

... a decadent triple chocolate lover's dream that C & D brought for dessert. It was rich but not overwhelmingly so and a perfect end to a great dinner.
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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Pizza Friday

We enjoyed the chicken parm so much I decided to put some of the leftovers on Friday's pizza:

... which turned out to be a brilliant idea. SP made his usual sauce, which went down first, followed by some of the chicken cut into large chunks, a few overly ripe tomatoes cut into wedges and dollops of pesto I made earlier in the week.

The flavors all worked incredibly well together. I think we'll have to experiment more with chicken as a topping.
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Chicken Parm

Thursday night SP made chicken parm for dinner. This is the first time we've had this dish at home because I thought I hated chicken parm. It all stemmed from my college days when they had chicken parm on Sundays, the worst day to eat in the cafeteria. That was the night they served the dregs since hardly anyone was on campus. Picture gloppy breading, overcooked chicken and a sickly sweet tomato sauce. Yuck! SP has always said he makes a mean chicken parm so he set out to convince me it could be tasty.

He also used up some of our half boxes of pasta as a side dish and I made the garlic bread. The chicken itself was moist and flavorful, with a nice crispy breading and just enough cheese to make it interesting. And the sauce had a slight kick and rich tomato flavor:

This is the chicken after he fried it but before it was transformed into chicken parm. I love the deep brown color:

And my usual garlic bread, with plenty of garlic, butter and parsley:

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Beefed Up Biscuits

I dug this one out of the "haven't-made-since-last-year" file when SP said we had some ground beef that needed to be used up.

I love this recipe because the filling is so versatile (we're already thinking of things we can add to it to make it more of a complete meal) and the cheddar biscuits are just so darn tasty.

Since I enjoyed the last salad I made so much I threw together another one for myself:

... using iceburg lettuce, tomato, cucumber, more of those tasty olives and scallions dressed simply with red wine vinegar and oil.
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Beef Stir Fry

I knew this was going to happen. This is why I hate improv cooking. I can never remember exactly what I did so recreating a dish becomes next to impossible. On Tuesday I tried making a beef stir fry like the one I made recently and while this was pretty good, it was nowhere near as good as the original version.

I tried to follow the "directions" I'd posted the last time but it still tasted different. And SP said the beef wasn't very "beefy." I will say that while I love the texture of blade steak, this batch had a lot of tough sinewy running all through it instead of just down the middle. I think next time I'd call ahead and see if they can cut me a nice steak. Either that or we'll have to look into an alternative cut.

I also didn't like the brown rice with stir fry. I know it's healthier but I just can't get into brown rice. It didn't help that the rice was sticky and clumped together. I much prefer basmati.
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Monday, September 17, 2007

Pasta and Sauce

SP had some work to do today so we decided to put off grocery shopping until tomorrow. That meant we needed to come up with something for dinner using things we already had on hand. We got a few last of the summer tomatoes from my parents so he decided to whip up a quick sauce, which we had over thin spaghetti:

We will never understand why people use jarred sauce when making your own is so simple and tastes so much better. Even making the sauce from fresh tomatoes took less than an hour and the taste was sensational.

I made a quick salad using lettuce, cucumber, shallots and tomato from the veggie box: well as some pimento-stuffed olives I found in the fridge. The olives added a salty bite that went really well with the simple red wine vinegar dressing I threw together.

SP was cleaning out the pantry today and he found a package of ready-mix bread we got from someone for Christmas. It was roasted garlic and olive-flavored:

... and while it tasted fine, I only had half a piece because it just wasn't worth the stomach space.
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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Another Hearty Breakfast

We had plans to go out to dinner with friends last night so SP asked for a hearty breakfast to last us through the afternoon. Besides our usual sausage patties:

...I made omelettes using some chopped up mushroom stems, finely diced shallot and a few slices of Monterey Jack cheese. Once it was done I topped them with some diced tomato and a sprinkling of parsley (scallion would have worked better but we were out):

I also cooked my breakfast potatoes with some diced onion:

I left the skins on for more texture and the added vitamins, which we obviously needed thanks to that spoonful of sour cream I added to mine. Once the potatoes were done I mixed them with some chopped parsley.

This was a huge breakfast and I couldn't finish it all, a rarity for me. Everything was delicious, though. Now that fall seems to be fast approaching I think I'm going to start experimenting with things like pumpkin pancakes or waffles for hearty breakfasts. I feel the need to change things up a bit.
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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Pizza Friday

We knew this week's pizza was going to be amazing while it was still cooking in the oven because the smell was just fantastic.

We topped the pizza with the thickest pizza sauce SP has ever made, thinly sliced mushrooms, pepperoni and one tomato sliced thin. The fresh tomato slices really added an extra depth of flavor to the overall pizza.

If anyone who reads this has any suggestions for new pizza toppings, we're all ears. We're getting a little tired of the same old same old so if you have an idea please leave me a comment.
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Foodie Blogroll

The other day I was checking out a few new food blogs when I came across a link to The Foodie Blogroll, a huge listing of food blogs created and maintained by The Leftover Queen. What a great idea! I signed up earlier this week and am now an official member.

If you're interested in joining just follow this link: Foodie Blogroll. The requirements are pretty easy to meet:

Requirement to be on the Foodie Blogroll:

1) You must display the blogroll some place on your blog where I can find it. Once a month I will try to go through the blogroll and delete the blogs from the blogroll that aren’t displaying it. The reason for this requirement is that to meet our goal of promoting food related blogs on the Internet we need to link to each other. It drives up your Google rank (your blog could potentially be on the first or second page of Google’s search results when someone is searching for information that is contained on your blog) and your Technorati rank.

2) You must have a food related blog (at least 80 % of posts are food related)

3) The blog must be at least 1 month old with at least 5 posts.
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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

TV Dinner

Rachael Ray's recipe for a Salisbury steak TV dinner with mashed potatoes and creamed spinach is one of SP's favorite cold-weather meals. Now that the weather is changing it seemed like the perfect thing to make.

One of the things we really love is the bits of onion in the patties and the rich mushrooms gravy:

I had a few chives that my parents gave us awhile back so I snipped them into the mashed potatoes:

We really love the creamed spinach with just a touch of cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper:

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