Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Chili Verde

Tonight's Menu
  • chili verde
  • tortilla chips
Here's what I tend to do when I want to cook something, especially something soup/stew-like, that I've never cooked before: I google a gazillion recipes for it, and then I wing it. That's what happened tonight, when I suddenly decided that pork + peppers would be a little slice of heaven on a chilly day.

First I diced up some pork (about 1.5 lbs. boneless loin chops, because that's what I had) and browned it. Then I tossed a chopped onion and about 4 cloves of minced garlic in the pan and sweated them out a bit. Then I dumped in enough vegetable broth (canned) to cover the meat and let it simmer.

While the meat was getting tender, I tossed a bunch of tomatillos, a couple of anaheim peppers, and a poblano pepper with a little EVOO and roasted them in the oven for about 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees F. I seeded the peppers and removed the stems and then dumped the whole shebang into the food processor.

Then I added the tomatillo/pepper puree to the simmering meat/onions/broth, along with some oregano, cilantro, cumin, salt and pepper and let it simmer away until it had thickened up a bit.

Then DH came home and informed me that he does not like verde sauce. Uh, okay. So he had leftover shrimp from God knows how long ago instead. The girl had a peanut butter sandwich because GOD FORBID she should ever eat soup that didn't come out of a can.

The boy and I devoured a couple of bowls each of this stuff (no meat for him, sour cream on top for me). It was absolutely delicious.

Monday, January 29, 2007


No real menu tonight; we just had tacos. I put out bowls of seasoned ground beef, shredded cheese, lettuce, tomato, sour cream and various salsas and hot sauces and everybody made their own.

The Boy: meat only. Usually he has lettuce too, and sometimes hot sauce, but not tonight for some reason.

The Girl: cheese and sour cream only.

DH: meat, cheese, sour cream, lettuce.

Me: meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, hot sauce.

I'm the only one who likes tomato on my tacos. I don't know why I bother cutting one up.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

And now for something completely different

Tonight's Menu
  • shrimp scampi with spaghetti squash
  • leftover crusty multigrain bread
  • leftover crisp green salad
I used this recipe for tonight's dinner, which was WAY yummy. I used fresh shrimp instead of frozen, and I cooked my spaghetti squash in the oven instead of the microwave because it does a better job of caramelizing the sugars and thus bringing out the flavor of the squash.

I am a big fan of spaghetti squash but I don't cook it very often because DH doesn't like squash. You can cook it in the microwave but all that does is steam it, and I like it roasted. As mentioned above, this caramelizes the sugars in the squash and just oomphs up the flavor a bit. I had DH cut it in half lengthwise (because I'm too damn wimpy to do it myself), then put it cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Stick it in the oven for about 30 minutes at 375 degrees F (more or less, depending on the size of the squash). Scoop out the seeds and the center pulp, then use a fork to shred the flesh into strings. It's a nice, healthful alternative to pasta and really does have a great flavor.

This particular recipe (linked above) was really good, with the butter and olive oil and whatnot. Even DH liked it, and he HATES squash of all kinds!

Oh, and Vinho Verde is the PERFECT accompaniment to this dish. Just so you know.

Friday, January 26, 2007

A cook-in!

Because it's winter, and too cold to cook OUT, silly!

Tonight's Menu
  • oven-smoked beef brisket
  • cornbread from scratch
  • Ranch beans from a can
  • coleslaw from scratch
No, I don't have an indoor smoker, more's the pity. What I did was rub the brisket with a bunch of spices and crap (brown sugar, chili powder, garlic powder, dry mustard, Jane's Krazy salt and freshly ground pepper) as usual. It was a small brisket and I didn't want to put it in my giant roasting pan, but I don't have a rack for my small pan, so instead I wadded up some tinfoil and stuck that in the bottom of the pan, the put the brisket on top. I added a bit of water to the pan and splashed in a few drops of liquid smoke (the mesquite variety), then covered the pan and cooked it 3-4 hours on about 200 degrees F. It got really tender and yummy and had a nice smoky flavor.

Brisket is really cheap down here and aside from the fat pad (which I leave on during cooking to keep the meat moist) it's solid meat. If you cook it "low and slow" it comes out really tender and can be sliced or shredded. Some people sauce theirs but I prefer a dry rub. Yum!

Thursday, January 25, 2007


Tonight's Menu
  • spaghetti marinara
  • crusty whole-grain bread
  • fresh green salad
My local grocery store has started replacing a lot of name-brand stuff with their own generic version, and this pisses me off like you would not believe. Sure, I buy the store brand occasionally and SOME of it is identical to the name brand stuff, but not all, and I hate having my choices taken away like that.

However, they also offer some of their own stuff that has no equal in name brands, as far as I know. Like they have this line of frozen "artisan" breads that is really, really good. I buy the big whole-grain one, which is very rustic and crusty and full of seeds and bits of stuff, and I LOVE it. You just thaw it for 15 minutes, then bake it for another 15 and it's delicious. Instead of spreading it with butter or margarine, we've been dipping it in EVOO with a little parmesan and freshly ground pepper.


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Steak and potatoes

Tonight's Menu
  • NY strip steaks on the grill pan
  • roasted assorted mushrooms
  • tiny red potatoes, parboiled then chuffed up in a hot pan with butter
  • the last of the leftover big-ass salad
Tonight's dinner was freakin' AWESOME. If I do say so myself.

Okay, first the steaks: I minced a garlic clove and bashed it up (actually the boy child did; he's been helping me make dinner for the past week) with some EVOO in the mortar & pestle, then set it aside to steep while the steaks came to room temperature. I rubbed the steaks with the garlicky oil goodness, sprinkled with kosher salt & freshly ground pepper, and seared them off in a screaming hot grill pan for maybe 3-4 minutes per side (these were approximately 1.5-inch steaks, not the super-thin ones I usually get). I put them on a warmed plate and covered them with foil for maybe 5 minutes to make sure they weren't too bloody for DH. They were a perfect medium rare with a nice crust -- DELICIOUS!

For the mushrooms, they had this nice assortment of various fresh 'shrooms (shiitakes, oysters, chanterelles, etc.) for stir fry at the store. I just cleaned them up a bit, tossed them in a baking pan with some EVOO, salt & pepper and roasted them at 450 degrees F for maybe 20 to 25 minutes, stirring every now and then. They had a nice earthy flavor that really complimented the meat.

I made the potatoes the same way as always, and we ate up the last of the salad. I washed it all down with a couple of glasses of pinot.

SO yummy, y'all.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Porky goodness

Tonight's Menu
  • spiced pork tenderloin
  • leftover quinoa
  • leftover big-ass salad
Hey, y'all! DH and I washed down tonight's dinner with a few Mexican Martinis so if this doesn't make sense, that's why!


I make this pork tenderloin all the time but I don't know if I've ever shared the recipe. It originally came from Taste of Home's Quick Cooking magazine, so a big thank you goes out to Nicole Pickett of Oro Valley, Arizona. Thanks, Nicole! This is way yummy and my family loves it!

What you do is take a pork tenderloin and whomp it in a pan. Then you take 2 Tbs. brown sugar, 2 Tbs. Dijon mustard, 1 tsp. paprika and 1/2 tsp. ground ginger and mix those all up. Spread half of it over the pork tenderloin, stick it in the oven at 450 degrees F for 15 minutes, then spread the other half of the glaze mixture over and stick it back in the oven for another 15-20 minutes or until cooked to whateverthehell temperature you're supposed to cook pork. Let it rest and then slice it on up. The original recipe includes a pineapple salsa but I don't love it (canned pineapple? um, no) so I don't make that part of the recipe very often.

The tenderloin on its own, though, is FABULOUS.

Woo! I think maybe I've had tee many martoonis!

Sunday, January 21, 2007


Tonight's Menu
  • rainbow trout fillets sauteed in EVOO
  • baked salmon fillets
  • quinoa
  • big-ass salad
Yeah, I made two different fishes. DH likes trout and I like both, and I wanted to make enough that the kids could try both or either (the boy tried both; the girl passed).

I made the trout the same way I always do -- sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, saute in EVOO for a couple of minutes per side (skin side first, then flip). The salmon was brushed with a bit of EVOO, sprinkled with Jane's Krazy salt and garlic pepper, and baked (skin side down) at 450 degrees F for about 12-13 minutes (you want about 10 minutes per inch of thickness at that temperature).

I washed mine down with some Vinho Verde. It was sunny and in the low 60s today for the first time in FOREVER, so it was a good day for something nice and light.

Of course, it's supposed to be rainy and cold again all week so I may be busting out the soups and stews again after this.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Chili redux

Tonight's Menu
  • frito pie!
What? We had to use up all that chili somehow.

For those of you unfamiliar with this delicacy, you put a layer of Fritos in a bowl, dump on some chili, and then add shredded cheese and sliced green onions (optional). I like to heat the chili before assembling it, but DH likes to layer the Fritos with cold chili and then stick the whole thing in the microwave so the Fritos go soft. For me the crunchy Fritos layered with the soft chili is part of the appeal, but whatev.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Soup's on!

So hey, everyone! Sorry to disappear (again! I know!) on you like that. We've had some crappy weather lately and so I have been busy making soup!

Let's see... last week I made Portuguese Soup, this week I made Loaded Potato Soup, and just tonight I made chili for what I think is the first time ever!

My mom makes an awesome and very Yankee-fied chili that is similar to Cincinnati style but with kidney beans and without spaghetti. I have never tried to make it, though, and DH is allergic to beans. I've used the Wick Fowler's mixes for meat-based chili in the past, but this is the first time I've ever made it from scratch!

Anyhoo, what I did was cut about 2 lbs. of beef (I honestly can't remember what cut I used -- it was a cheap, heavily marbled roast of some sort) into a small dice and brown it in a big pot. Then I tossed in a chopped sweet yellow onion and three big cloves of garlic (minced). Once the meat was brown and the onions had sweated out a bit, I dumped in an assload of chili powder, some cumin, a little oregano and some salt. Then I added a big can of crushed tomatoes and a bottle of beer (Abita Turbodog, yo). I brought it to a boil and then let it simmer, uncovered, for about 2 hours before serving it with cornbread and some shredded cheese and sliced green onions on the side.

It was pretty good but a little too tomatoey and not nearly spicy enough for my taste. If I had it to do over, I'd use a bunch of dried chili peppers or maybe mix in some chipotles in adobo or something. It just wasn't peppery enough, you know? It was tasty, though!

I'm getting a little sick of soup so tomorrow will be something ... not soup-like. Stay tuned!

Friday, January 12, 2007

My entire house smells like garlic

Tonight's Menu
  • chicken thighs, slow-roasted with garlic and lemon
  • tiny red potatoes, parboiled then chuffed up in a hot pan with butter
  • leftover gigantic salad
I made this chicken dish back in August and have been craving it like mad. It smells soooo good when it's cooking and it's incredibly yummy.

Finally got around to making potatoes tonight!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A quickie

Tonight's Menu
  • thin-cut NY strip steaks
  • gigantic salad
Tonight's dinner was a hasty affair. I had intended to make some sort of potatoey thing, but got involved in a project around 5-ish and completely lost track of time. The kids' bedtime schedule requires us to eat by 7 at the latest, which left no time for cooking root veggies, so I decided folks could have sliced bread if they absolutely needed a carb to go with their steak and salad.

The steaks were brought to room temperature, brushed with a teeny bit of EVOO, sprinkled with salt (kosher) and pepper (freshly ground), then seared off quickly on my new IKEA grill pan. Very fast, very yummy.

I really like these thin-cut steaks my supermarket has been carrying -- they have strips and ribeyes, both. I love steak but I don't always want a huge slab of it, y'know? These cook faster than a hamburger and are so much yummier!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Yet more pork

Tonight's Menu
  • oven-barbecued pork spareribs
  • Ranch beans (from a can! I know!)
  • coleslaw (from scratch! really!)
  • sliced tomatoes
Okay, so here's what happened: I made the coleslaw yesterday, intending to serve it with the hamburgers we had for dinner, and then totally forgot I even made it and so failed to put it out. (Instead we had loaded burgers with pickles and blue corn tortilla chips. If you must know.)

And I KNOW I just made pork spareribs for New Year's Day but they had MORE at the store today and I love them so. This time I rubbed them with a mixture of brown sugar, dry mustard, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, Jane's Krazy salt and freshly ground pepper, put them on a rack in a roasting pan, added a little water to the pan, covered it tightly with foil and cooked them at 225 degrees F for about 2.5 hours. Then I cranked the heat up to 400, uncovered the pan, slathered the ribs with barbecue sauce (from a bottle, because I'm lazy) and cooked them for another half hour. They were falling-apart tender and SO yummy.

I loves me some pork ribs, y'all.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Another lazy dinner

Tonight's Menu
  • pork tamales
  • steamed texmati rice
  • leftover big-ass salad
The tamales were pre-packaged; I just heated them in the microwave. The rice was steamed in the microwave. The salad was left-over.


But it was good!

Thursday, January 04, 2007


Tonight's Menu
  • cold boiled shrimp
  • packaged garlic-butter rice
  • big-ass salad
Okay, so we were finally getting sick of pork and sauerkraut. I had bought some shrimp a while back when they were on sale and stuck them in the freezer, so tonight I just thawed and boiled them (with Crab Boil)(er, and I didn't actually BOIL them, I just brought the water/seasonings to a boil and dunked the shrimp in until they curled, then took them right out so they wouldn't get overcooked), then put them on ice. The rice was from a mix (Uncle Ben's, maybe?) and of course we had our usual big-ass salad.

Boring, but easy. And most importantly: NOT pork or sauerkraut!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

Tonight's Menu
  • pork spare ribs with sauerkraut
  • mashed potatoes
  • sauteed baby spinach with blackeyed peas and bacon
So hey, everyone! Happy New Year!

In my family of origin we always ate pork and sauerkraut on New Year's Day. I don't know why, we just DID. Every single person in my family, on both sides. I'm relatively certain they all still do.

I usually do a pork loin with sauerkraut in the crockpot, but this year I got a wild hair and made SPARE RIBS with sauerkraut in the crockpot! I know! Crazy! All I did was cut the spare ribs into slabs of 3-4 ribs each, salt and pepper them, brown them off in a skillet, then stack them in the crockpot (making Xes with them as I went). I drained a jar of sauerkraut and kind of dumped it on top, poking it down in the spaces between the ribs, then sprinkled a little brown sugar on top. Cook on low for 9-10 hours and Bob's your uncle. WAY yummy, too!

The mashed potatoes? FROZEN ORE-IDA. The boy child ate about four helpings.

Now we come to the Texas portion of the meal. Down here, they are all about the blackeyed peas and greens on New Year's Day. I dunno why, something to do with money or good luck or something. I don't question it. I just DO IT. Because you HAVE TO.

So anyway, what I did there was to chop up a couple of slices of bacon and brown them off, toss in some (rinsed, drained) canned blackeyed peas, then add two packages of fresh baby spinach and let it wilt down, tossing it constantly to work the un-wilted leaves to the bottom. You need to do this in a big pan, but it'll cook down to almost nothing. When the spinach was wilted to my satisfaction, I stirred in some red wine vinegar and a bit of sugar, then seasoned with salt and pepper. Delicious!

So. What did YOU have for dinner tonight? Any traditional foods for good luck in the new year?