Tag Archives: recipe

April Showers Bring … Steak!

2014-04-27 20.03.42

flat iron steak & seasoned onion rings

This morning, I had the pleasure of waking up to a roaring and rumbling thunder storm.  In my experience, there’s almost nothing quite as enjoyable as waking up to thunderstorm at 7:30 on a Sunday morning and simply laying in bed enjoying the sound of the thunder and the rain, especially since I didn’t have to be anywhere for the next few hours.  An additional joy of a nice spring thunder storm is the peaceful weather it leaves in its wake.  This weather just happens to be perfect for grilling out!

The thunderstorm passed and the day went on, and upon the arrival of dinner time I decided it necessary to grill a steak.  In my last post, I mentioned the purchase of a new house.  This house just happened to come with a brick charcoal grill in the back yard.  Now anyone who’s ever used a charcoal grill before knows that when you light up the coals, you can’t JUST grill one steak.  Unlike their gas counterparts, you cannot simply turn off a charcoal grill when you’re done with it, so you might as well utilize it while it’s hot.  So my one steak turned into a steak, some seasoned onion rings, and lemon pepper chicken.

2014-04-27 20.19.58

lemon pepper chicken

I’ve mentioned before that some for the food I prepare is pretty tasty, but tonight’s selection from the grill easily takes the cake.  At the risk of sounding full of myself, I can cook some very tasty food. Tonight, however, I blew my own expectations completely out of the water.  As I was eating what I’d just taken off the grill, I was so overwhelmed by the goodness of what I was tasting that I had to stop and raise my arms in the air as if I had just scored a touchdown.  I thought to myself, how is this so good – and then I thought of all of you.  You have to try this!  It was, simply put, amazing.  If you have a charcoal grill, light it up tonight and take these simple yet incredible recipes for a spin.  I promise you, you won’t regret it.

Oh, and invite your friends, neighbors, family, coworkers – whoever.  Upon tasting this, you will have an overwhelming urge to share your creation with everyone you know!  Yes, it’s that good.

2014-04-27 20.26.17

pure enjoyment

Happy grilling!

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Burritos! For Breakfast!

Every once in a while, on my way to work I’ll swing by McDonald’s and get a couple of their sausage burritos for breakfast. They’re small, but they’re only a buck. The only issue (well, one of the issues) is that while it seems like a simple burrito – just sausage, cheese, eggs & peppers, I don’t really know what all is in there. I’m guessing that there’s a pretty good amount preservatives and fat in there that wouldn’t be there if I were to make my own.

Breakfast-Burrito

I know I said a good burrito doesn’t need a plate, but for the sake of showing the burrito innards, I’ve used a plate.

This got me to thinking. What if I just made a bunch of my own burritos and froze them. Then I could just pop one into the microwave before I leave for work, and voila! Instant breakfast! And that’s what I did.

Instead of using pork sausage, which naturally has a high fat content, I used ground turkey. It’s surprising, ground turkey, when it’s browned, has almost the exact same texture as hamburger. It tastes a bit different, but not much. Plus it’s naturally something like 95% lean. With the ground turkey, I used eggs, onions, green peppers, jalapenos, and shredded mild cheddar. It took about an hour and a half to cook everything and fold and wrap the burritos, but it was worth it. Sixteen frozen breakfast burritos can last quite a long time.

On a side note, about year ago, I was eating at Taco Bell fairly regularly, and as I would wait for them to prepare my order, I would watch them speedily fold their burritos. From that consistent and regular observation, I was able reverse-engineer their burrito fold and copy it. This method – I call it the air-tight seven fold burrito – makes sure that everything that’s inside the burrito stays inside the burrito. I’ve found it to be very effective. I’ve illustrated it for you, so you too can fold burritos like a boss!

If this idea has you inspired to do the same, you can find the recipe on the recipes section of the blog.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Spaghetti Sauce Right Off The Vine

Here in Kansas, it is apparently tomato season. Let me be more specific. It is apparently freakishly high-yield tomato season. We’ve had about a month of arid, relatively hot weather, with almost no rain or precipitation of any kind. Everything was really dry. Those with gardens were having to fight with every hose they had to keep the things alive.

Fresh Tomatoes

Courtesy of The Corner of Awesome & Bombdiggity

That dry spell finally came to a close, and with a welcome deluge it rained for 3 days straight and since has rained on average one out of every three days. The result of this has been all the tomato plants that were fighting just to stay green have now starting producing tomatoes like they’re going out of style. It’s wonderful!! My friend’s garden, which only has three tomato plants, has produced enough tomatoes to feed 4 different families and me!

Here’s a little secret about tomatoes – well, it’s not really a secret, just something some of you might not be aware of. Tomatoes that you get in the store are not actually ripe. It’s true. Most of the tomatoes that you find in the grocery store are picked while they’re still green by illegal and often times enslaved immigrants and then shipped to their destinations. In route, the tomato container is saturated with a gas called ethylene, which causes the tomatoes to turn red. It doesn’t make them ripe, just red. That’s why most of the tomatoes you buy at the store taste like they’re not ripe. Because they’re not!

Garden-Fresh-SpaghettiAnyway, with home grown, delicious, ripe garden fresh tomatoes, recipe’s take on a whole new character and explode with flavor and color! With the tomatoes I received from Tomato Lady, I made up a batch of simple spaghetti sauce. Only 4 ingredients plus spices, but oh the flavor! Combine that with a plate of angel hair pasta, top with an avocado, and you’ve got a wonderful meal! If you’d like to try this for yourself, you can find the recipe in the recipes section of the blog.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Squashed Spaghetti

I’m down to the home stretch. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Only a few more days in this vegetable desert! But for now, I’m still here, and I’ve gotta eat. So I’m still trying to mix things up a bit. Though at this point, everything is starting to taste the same.

My mouth is watering as I think about what’s coming. My friend, whom I’m walking in this desert with, will be cooking cheesy chicken enchiladas to celebrate the end of our diet. You better believe I will thoroughly enjoy them! I can almost taste their melty gooey cheesy goodness right now! I will, for sure, include a recipe for my own cheesy enchiladas when I make some for myself. As absolutely delicious as they are, they are extremely simple to prepare. You can watch for that.

For now, seeing as how my culinary canon is still in effect, I’m going to attempt to recreate a staple of any family’s dinner menu – spaghetti. “But you can’t have pasta!” you might be screaming right now. And you’re absolutely right. This is why I’ll be utilizing the often overlooked spaghetti squash!

Spaghetti-SquashFor those of you who don’t know what this is, the spaghetti squash is an oddity of nature. When you slice this squash in half and bake it, the flesh of the spaghetti squash comes apart in strands, resembling spaghetti noodles, and it has a slight buttery flavor. It still has the texture of squash, but if you close your eyes and imagine real hard, it’s almost like eating real spaghetti. It’s a great spaghetti substitute for those who are vegans, alergic to gluten, folks on a low carb diet, or even for those looking for a healthy and light alternative to the high-calorie traditional spaghetti.

It’s good with a little butter and Parmesan or Romano cheese, and an Italian meat sauce. Since I can’t partake of any of that, I’ll have to settle for a tasty homemade marinara with mushrooms. And instead of meatballs, I’m cooking up some chopped zucchini and yellow squash. … O meat, how I miss you so!

SpaghettiSquashAs it turns out, this is one of the better meals I’ve prepared during this diet. I think it ranks up there with my quinoa lettuce wraps.

One of the guests at our Monday night group – the event for which I prepared this delicacy – told me that no one has ever convinced her to eat squash before (she’s not a fan apparently). She liked this dish though, which is surprising, seeing as how it’s made up almost entirely of squash. It just Goes to show you that with the right combination of flavors and textures, you can turn anything into a delicious meal! Though she did pick out all the mushrooms (apparently not a fan of those either)…

If you’d like to try your hand at this squashy spaghetti facsimile, you can find the recipe in the recipes section of the blog.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Art of Concocting

It’s one thing to be able to cook a great meal from a recipe on the side of a box, or even out of a cookbook, but it’s another thing entirely to whip up something delicious from the things you might have lying around your kitchen. In my opinion, if you desire to become a great cook, being good at the latter is a must. Becoming great in the kitchen requires a level competence in the fine art of concocting.

There are several different areas to pay attention to when learning how to concoct. The first, and most obvious aspect of concocting is paying attention to flavors – which flavors will play well or compliment others and which flavors won’t. But there’s more to it than that, as anyone who’s ever eaten a soggy pizza knows.

An often overlooked aspect of concocting is the issue of texture. Paying attention to the textures of different foods and what they’ll feel like together can sometimes separate a good dish from a great dish. If a concoction has great flavor, but has a boring texture, it loses something.  On the other hand, even a dish with a mediocre flavor  but a really interesting texture, can be a marvelous concoction!

And lastly there is the detail of visual presentation. Paying attention to color and shape – how your creation looks – can help your concoction be mouthwatering even before it meets any tastebuds. If something looks like mud, it’s less likely to be enjoyed to the fullness it may deserve. Even if something has dull flavor and a mediocre texture, if it’s presented well, the anticipation of the one to whom it’s served will play a part how the dished is ultimately perceived. Presentation is often viewed as an unnecessary detail, but it can greatly enhance the experience of any meal.

Nailing any one of these three parts of concoction-design can make for good food, but when all three are working well together, you have the makings of a fantastic meal!

That being said, when concocting, it’s important to realize going into it that what you create might not be your greatest creation ever. In fact, some of your first concoctions may likely be some of the worst things you’ve ever tasted. It’s ok. You’ve just learned what not to do.  Thomas Edison famously said that he never failed to make a working light bulb, he simply first had to figure out all the ways to not make a light bulb. Failing is how we learn.  Don’t get discouraged.  Believe me, I’ve definitely made some meals fit for the garbage can.

ConcoctionThis dish is my latest concoction. It has three distinct components and combines a total of 7 ingredients plus seasonings. I call it, … um … dinner! Ha!

What you’re looking at is sauteed yellow squash with black beans set on a base of coarsely mashed potatoes with sauteed onions, topped with a fresh marinara made from Roma tomatoes, mushrooms, and jalapeno. It’s not the most beautiful (I didn’t have anything to garnish it with), but it is very flavorful. The savory body of the potatoes & onions mixed with the slightly crisp texture of the yellow squash, flavored by the deliciously spicy goodness of the marinara will make your mouth dance for joy! If you’d like to know more about what it is, and even taste it for yourself, you can find the recipe over in the recipes section under Dinner Concoction #1.

. . .

By the way, if you’re unsure of your concocting abilities, stick to recipes for a while. Using recipes is a great way to learn how different foods behave on the stove and in the oven, and how different flavors mix with each other. If you pay attention to details such as these, you’ll be concocting in no time at all!

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Monday Night Quinoa

Every Monday night, my friend and I host a weekly dinner and discussion group. We meet at her house, and most of the time I cook dinner for everyone. It’s a fun time. We all gather around the kitchen and talk about life while I cook dinner, and then we get to enjoy a lovely meal together. There are a few of us that are there fairly consistently, and when you share a meal like that every week, you begin to know each other like family. I love it!

It’s one thing to walk through this veggie desert by myself, but when I’m cooking for other people as well, I feel a particular pressure to make something that everyone will enjoy, even if they’re not eating a vegatarian diet. So I did what I always do when I need to cook something that needs to be tasty and fun. I cooked something I’ve never cooked before. Not only that, I cooked with ingredients that I’ve never used before. It’s a risk, I suppose, but over the years I’ve become confident in my culinary gifting.

QuinoaLettuceWrapTonight, I cooked up some lettuce wraps, using quinoa as a base. Quinoa is a grain, similar to rice. But when it’s cooked, it has a texture similar to couscous. I’ve never cooked quinoa until tonight, and I’ve only eaten it a couple times. I don’t have a whole lot of experience with it. Fortunately, like rice, it’s pretty easy to work with. To be fair though, I didn’t actually prepare the quinoa. My friend, at whose house we host this dinner discussion group, prepared it in her steamer. So I can’t take all the credit.

Anyway, this is what I ended up with. It turned out very nicely.

It’s a quinoa lettuce wrap with tomatoes, carrots, fresh green chillies, red bell pepper, sweet red onions, black beans, peaches, lime and cilantro with fresh avocado. It was quite a cacophony of flavors. Oh, and it was topped with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. The vinegar mingling with the peaches, oh what flavor! Top it with some avocado and a slice of lime… Delicious! Plus, if you try you can make it look very pretty. Pretty is always a plus when it comes to food.

If this is something you’d like to try for yourself – I recommend it – you can find the recipe over on the recipe’s section of the blog. It was pretty simple to prepare.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

disappointment

I was not feeling particularly led to cook anything today. Not really. I already have a couple sets of leftovers from the few previous meals I’ve cooked – all of them delicious – and there really isn’t a need. There’s that, and there’s also the fact that I’m still making my way through my self-imposed fruit and vegetable desert. When you can’t cook what you really want, the desire to cook is somewhat diminished. But… I figured since this is still a budding little blog, it would be a good idea to do something. So I thought, what can I cook that requires the least effort, but will still be worth sharing with all of you.

ImageLong story short, I cooked up some black beans and rice with avocado & mushrooms. It was alright, but it wan’t great. I plated it and tried to make it look nice and pretty, and honestly, for as simple as it was, it tasted pretty good. But the reality is, when all you really want is a bowl of fruit loops & milk, a plate of black beans & rice really doesn’t do much. You know?

So I finish my meal and get on my computer to check email and I see that one of my fellow food bloggers has posted a new recipe. I like to see what other cooks in the bloggosphere are up to, so I checked it out. Given the disappointing experience with tonights dinner that I just recounted, this was a poor decision.

I click on the link to go to her blog, and she has posted a recipe – with pictures – of Red-Lobster-style cheddar biscuits! WITH PICTURES!! Oh my word! I thought my beans and rice didn’t measure up to fruit loops. Put it up against those lumps of baked cheesy goodness, I might as well be eating mud.

Anyway, now that I’ve really sold you on MY creation, if you’d like to try it out for yourself and draw your own conclusions, you can find the recipe in the recipe’s section of the blog.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,