Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Simple Salsa


Some food traditions are more celebrated in our home than others. I personally can't wait for St. Patty’s day but my kids don't share my enthusiasm. They tolerate it to say the least. But Taco Tuesday is one they live for. My kids look forward to it! They remind me to make salsa. Heaven forbid I don't make salsa! My kids have become salsa snobs of sorts.

Salsa is easy enough to make. It’s cheap and you can make it your own. It stores for over a week if my family doesn’t eat it all the day I make it!! Now, I don’t like all salsas. In fact, I don’t like many salsas. I don’t like them very chunky. I don’t like them vinegary. Ewww!! I like my salsa simple with simple ingredients. But the great thing about salsa is that you can change it up! Everyone of my friends have a salsa recipe! Some roast the peppers, some add chilis that are hotter than hell, and some add canned chilis. And each one of them will tell you that their salsa recipe is the best! But give this a try!

Simple Salsa
1 can (29 oz) whole peeled tomatoes, drained
1 can (29 oz) diced tomatoes, drained
½ yellow onion chopped
Two gloves garlic chopped
One cup cilantro leaves
3 jalapeno diced
Juice of one lime
1 tsp kosher salt

I like to get my cutting board and my food processor pretty close together.
Dump the chopped onion.

Garlic

Cilantro...let's talk cilantro! I'm a bit a freak about cilantro. Most just shave it off the stems but I pull the leaves off the stems. I don't like the stems.

Cilantro is one of those herbs you either love or hate, but I figure is one leaf away from being related to the Shamrock so it's OK! If it's a bit too strong for you, start with a 1/4 of what I call for and add more if you can tolerate it.

Now the Jalapenos. Chop up 2 of the 3 jalapenos, seeds and all. Don’t worry, if this red head can handle it, you can too! Reserve the third jalapeno. Blame The Fireman! He likes the texture of being able to bite into it. If it scares you, dump it into the pot now.

lime juice (notice in the picture, it is missing! My tree is bare this week! Too many cervesas with lime last week!)
and the drained can of whole tomatoes. DO NOT ADD THE DICED TOMATOES!!

Now pulse until mixed

Personally, this is how I like my salsa!

but the Fireman and The Tortured Teenager…they like a little more texture. Whatever! So I add the third jalapeno, chopped finely and the can of drained diced tomatoes.

I cant keep my hands out of it to take pictures. You don’t mind, right?

We like these chips the best! They are local! Wish they would give me some to share with y'all (hint hint)

How do you like your salsa? Chunky, or smooth? Hot or Mild?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Green Beans


Skimming through my Facebook this morning, one of my friends had replaced her default picture with one of Joan Crawford’s crazy moments from “Mommy Dearest!” I love that movie! And not because my mom was totally her! But because it makes me feel like I am not THAT crazy of a parent! “NO WIRE HANGERS!!!”

Being that this IS a food blog, is safe to say that I must bring up the scene when the daughter is forced to stay at the table to finish her food. I was raised in a “Clean Plate Club” home! Meaning, you did NOT get up from the table until you ate everything on your plate. And it was very unfair considering my father was the one to dish me up most of time. The portions were big for an adult man and I don’t know how I managed to do it. Well, yes I do! There were many nights that the dog was fed my vegetables!

Now, we know that it is unhealthy to expect a child to finish everything on their plate. It promotes unhealthy eating habits and obesity. But we also need to get our kids to eat healthy foods rather anything with crap listed as the first ingredient. I am lucky that my kids will eat 80% of the vegetables I serve. I am even luckier that if I buy fruit, it will be eaten before it spoils. Now, that is not to say that if you put a bag of chips on the counter that the kids wont demolish them like they have never been fed! But they do choose healthy foods when I provide them in the house.

I asked my kids why they eat vegetables for me! It’s a reasonable question in a time when parents are begging kids to eat them. My son said that I put “stuff in em!” Ok, fair enough! I do dress them up…


Sautéed Green Beans

1 bag prepared green beans (saves you the time)
2 pieces of bacon
Salt and pepper
¼ cup Sunflower kernels

Cut uncooked bacon into bite size pieces and sauté to a golden brown. Do not remove from pan. Do not drain drippings. (Hey, it’s why the kids eat them!)
Add green beans to the bacon and add salt and pepper. Sauté until green beans are fork tender.
Add Sunflower kernels and serve!

So...were you a part of the "Clean Plate Club?"

Monday, March 29, 2010

Brown Sugar Cayenne Pork Chops


Brown Sugar Cayenne Pork Chops

I've never seen men get so excited over four little words. PORK!! I say Bacon and the men in my house practically run me over to get to the kitchen. In fact, one family BBQ, we were having burgers. I surprised the families with bacon on the Fixings Bar. Two pounds of extra thick sliced bacon for twelve hamburgers. I think one little boy ate an entire pound. (Sorry to his mother who was not present) I had one of the dads even ask if I could cook up more bacon! 

Bacon and any sort of pork sausage product is an easy win. Ribs, are a definitely a winner. But pork chops...they can be ho hum. Sorry Pork! But they are just boring!

Now I have prepared them just about every way, chicken fry with gravy, breaded with bread crumbs, smothered with onions and bell peppers, slow cooked with a mushroom sauce, brined, grilled and even bbq'ed! (all these are another blog entirely)

I love marinating meats. But there is an art to it. You don't want to over do it. If you add too much acidity and leave it too long you can in a sense cook the meat and end up with a tough piece of meat. And that's not the purpose of marinating. Usually it's to tenderize a cheap cut of meat and to inject flavor. 

Now I had every intention of BBQ’ing these chops after they marinated. Spring days like today beg for BBQ’ing. And these chops are begging for a little oak smoke. Just careful not to overcook them. Pork chops are not forgiving. Overcook it and you will end up with thick meat you can hardly chew through. Mine never made it to the BBQ. I’m afraid The Fireman and I lounged outside a little too long and fell asleep. Sad but true. It was faster for me to toss them in a pan then it would be to wait to the Grill Master to get the grill ready.

Brown Sugar Cayenne Pork Chops

2 Cloves of Garlic minced
4 TB Canola Oil
2 TB Brown Sugar
2 TB Kosher Salt
2 tsp Sweet Paprika
½ tsp fresh ground Pepper
½ tsp Cayenne Pepper

4 Pork Chops (I only had three-I don’t like leftovers and the Butcher didn’t have a special on bone in chops so mine are thick Lion Chops)

In a bowl mix all the ingredients (except the pork chops) into a paste. Place the chops on a tray and cover chops with paste on both side. Cover and refrigerate up to 3 hours.

Grill or cook over Medium high heat five minutes each side. Cover and cook for an addition 5 minutes or until cooked to desired doneness.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Pizza


Last night, my daughter was dodging leftovers. She used every excuse in her excuse book. Ultimately, she was craving pizza. And not delivery which would have made it easy but my home made pizza. It's very easy to make but not something you start at 5:30 with the hopes of eating at 6:00. In the end, she found something else to eat. I ate the leftovers alone. But that is another blog entry entirely...

I have written about pizza before. I was the reluctant dough maker. But this recipe is easy enough for me so I recommend it for anyone timid with making dough. There is no fussy steps. It's as basic as it gets. In fact, I wish I had of learned it when the kids were little. It would have become a tradition the way Taco Tuesdays have.

My favorite toppings are the ones that are usually on hand. Caramelized onions, garlic, cheese, Greek olives and artichoke hearts. The Ballplayer likes extra sauce and very little cheese and then he usually wipes off the little cheese I do put on. The Tortured Teenager is the complete opposite with pile high cheese and spare the veggies. The Fireman just wants pizza!! And maybe a beer. Pretty simple!!

I like my sauce simple. You could buy a jar but this is pretty easy. You could double it and feed the kids spaghetti the next night. I like recipes that you can get double the bang out of. Again, another blog entry..

Pizza Sauce
In a pan with 1 TB of olive oil over med low heat sweat 1/4 onion and 1 clove of garlic that you've crushed. Careful not to burn the garlic. Once the onion is translucent add one can (29 oz) of tomato puree. Now, I usually add whatever tomato product I have on hand. Sometimes it's whole tomatoes. The brats don't like that as much and I end up tossing it in the blender. But, I aim to please. Now add 1 TB of Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper to taste. If the tomatoes are tart, add a pinch of sugar. Just let it simmer for 20 minutes. Try to resist grabbing some French bread from last night and dipping it in the pot. You really do need it for the pizza!!

Pizza dough
3 3/4 c. all-purpose
2 1/2 Tb. fast-acting yeast (2 packets)
3/4 ts. salt
1 ts. sugar
1 1/3 c. room temperature (about 72 degrees) water
olive oil for the pans
This recipe is literally a toss it all in the bowl and mix it up!

See! I just dumped all the dry ingredients into the bowl!
But if those directions are too simple...In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, yeast, salt, and sugar. Add the water and, using a wooden spoon, mix until blended, about a minute. It might be a bit stiffer than other pizza dough’s you’ve made.

Once you add the water, as you see, if looks like its not enough but trust me! It is!
Then the next part of the recipe is a little different. I kneaded the dough first in the bowl until it comes together

and then on the counter top remembering a famous French Chef that stated that the extra flour makes the dough tough. No extra flour was necessary.

Next, I placed the dough into a greased bowl and covered it with a towel to double, about 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 500. Oil two 13×18 baking sheets. Use a bowl scraper or rubber spatula to scrape the bowl and separatethe dough into two equal pieces and place the dough onto the oiled pans.
Starting at one end, gently pull and stretch dough across the surface of the pan, and use your hands to press it evenly out to the edges. Pinch any holes together. Repeat with the second piece. I find that the dough won't stick to your fingers because of the olive oil that you greased the pan with. So you won't need any four to dust with.



I like to copy pizzas that you would buy at restaurants. California Pizza Kitchen's Buffalo Chicken is on the menu tonight. I have some Buffalo Chicken in the freezer and blue cheese. We'll see how close to the craving we can get!

Now you could get really fancy here and do individual pizzas but I just do two large pizzas and split them. As you see, One side is heavy on cheese and the other is extra light on cheese.

I find it is best to put the meat on top of the cheese.





What's your favorite topping?










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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Some of my recipes I inherited from my Grandmother. Some, I learned in my husband's grandmother's kitchen. Some I learned online and I hated until I made them my own. And then, there are those good ole' standbys that have been written on the back of some old piece of paper handed down from neighbor to neighbor. But the recipe that gets the most praise from my kids happens to be a recipe that I am sure my grandmother took off a box of Bisquick. No joke! It's genius! When I grocery shop, my kids are even smart enough to save two bananas hoping I will let them rot just for banana bread. I keep chocolate chips in the freezer just for the occasion. Not for cookies! Just for Banana Bread! No nasty nuts in this bread!

Somehow my kids managed to run out of the house while I was making this today. They had no idea, and I am sitting here totally tempted. I have to cut into it! Right? I mean...you wanna see it, right?

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

2 large ripe smashed bananas
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk
3 TB oil
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
2 2/3 cups Original Bisquick
1/2 cup chocolate chips

mix first six ingredients in a large bowl, add Bisquick and then chocolate chips. Put into a Greased loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Fireman's Favorite Sandwich



Firemen are known for cooking well. I wish somebody would have told me that when I married The Fireman. I’m afraid he is not the best cook. Or he has me fooled. I imagine him cooking gourmet meals at work. Most departments cook as a crew. The Fireman has been on companies that cook together and fend for themselves. I think behind every good fireman cook is a wife that cooks at home. For my hubby, he doesn’t cook very often at home. He does BBQ and has become quite the grill master but he isn’t one to take over in the kitchen. I have been trying to give him some recipes to cook at the department. Some are not so healthy but oh so good. Fireman work hard. They work out hard. These men are in shape. Most are a little anal about what they put in their mouths. I’m not sure everyone at the department would eat this recipe until they smelt it. The Fireman like strong meals with bold flavors and this sandwich has all of that. You could pair it with a salad to clear your conscience but it is better paired with a beer off duty!

Now I got this recipe originally from Ree Drummond’s website Pioneer Woman. She is amazing! And if the thought of hot fireman are not enough for you, she has hot cowboys are her website! I have changed this recipe up. The first time I made it, The Fireman loved it but said it was missing something. So I made it again, adding cheese, but still he said it was missing something. So after a couple more runs at it, he had proclaimed "it's Perfect!" If you want to try her original recipe go to this website and give it a try. She has lovely named her version Marlboro Man’s favorite Sandwich. So after all the changes, I think it is only safe to call my The Fireman’s Favorite Sandwich. Hope you enjoy either version.

THE FIREMAN’S FAVORITE SANDWICH

8 cube steaks cut into strips
2 onions halved and sliced
Lawry’s Seasoning Salt
Freshly cracked Pepper
Crushed Red Pepper
1 stick of butter (real butter because butters better)
Worcestershire Sauce
Tabasco Sauce
Mayo
Muenster cheese
6 French Rolls split (Francisco's are our favorite)

In a skillet melt 1 TB butter and brown all the onions. Sprinkle Crushed Red Pepper over the onions. Don’t be scared. They don’t bite!

My family likes them dark brown. While they are browning, Slice the cube steaks into strips.


Put the onions into a bowl and guard them for life. I’m not kidding! This is a real problem in my house. Grilled or burnt onions as they are called in my house are highly addictive! Do not let them have one!

Now put all the meat into the skillet. I don’t add any more butter or oil. Season with the Lawry’s Seasoning Salt, generously and Fresh cracked pepper. I mean a lot! Go crazy with that pepper! Make sure you cook both sides!

Once the meat is cooked, add back in the onions and 4 TB of Butter. I know its a lot but do it!! And add ½ to ¾ cup of Worcestershire sauce. Honestly I don’t even measure. I just pour until it creates a gravy!

Now shake about ten shakes of the Tabasco! You can do it, it's not going to be spicy, I promise! Give it a taste and see it you want it spicier. This is when The Fireman starts getting frozen glasses out of the freezer for beer and grabs a spoon to make sure ‘his’ sauce is spicy enough! Ok another two shakes of Tabasco and it's perfect!

Now if it is just us two, I butter the rolls and grill them on a pan, but chances are that the brats are home so I turn the broiler on. I know that you already used a ton of butter but a little more wont kill you. Butter the rolls just a little and stick them under the broiler to get crisp. It makes all the difference. We have done it without the butter and butter is better!

So your diet is blown, so don’t get all scared at this point! On one side, a smidge of mayo. Now on the other side pile the steak and tons of sauce! Next, take some Muenster cheese and top it on top of the steak. If I was doing it to please, I would put the steak side back in the oven to melt the cheese, but The Fireman has his hand out and he is like the dog, licking his chops! "GIVE IT TO ME!!!!"

Even the dog is praying she will get some in her bowl! Ha!! Daddy ain’t gonna share!!!
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