Thursday, July 31, 2008

My New Favorite Sandwich

Tonight was sandwich night. Which means neither MIL nor I felt like cooking, so it was up to Hubby to provide sustenance. Everyone besides me opted for bread, meat, cheese, and optional mustard, hastily slapped together and devoured over a paper towel.

Me? I had to go and get all "complicated" by adding sliced pepperoncini and Trader Joe's Aioli Garlic Mustard Sauce to my prosciutto, soppressata and provolone sandwich. And then flattened and toasted, panini-esque. And I used a plate.

Served with a Nathan's pickle spear and wasabi chips. But I ate one wasabi chip and then gave the rest to Hubby 'cause they're nasty. But Nathan's pickles are the bomb.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Slow Roasted Tomatoes

I think I may be the last one on the planet to try slow roasted tomatoes. I found recipes here (Kalyn's Kitchen), here (A Veggie Venture), here (Kitchen Parade), here (The Perfect Pantry), here (The Wednesday Chef), and here (Stephencooks). I've been reading about them on various blogs for at least a year. And I never tried them until now.

And I'm kicking myself for losing that year.

It's freakin' tomato candy. It's like the best tomato sauce you ever had. It's a whole summer's worth of tomatoes in one bite. Even with Romas from the grocery store. I can't even imagine what these would be like with tomatoes fresh from my garden. I think my head may explode.

Yeah, make these. Yes, turn on your oven, even if it's hot and nasty outside. It's only 200 degrees, you won't even feel it. I know it's for 6 hours. Doesn't matter. It's worth it.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Baby Potatoes!

Remember my post from way back when about the sprouting monsters in my cabinet? OK, probably not, but...

I planted a potato sprout. The greens grew to about a foot high, then started dying. I pulled the plant out of the dirt today, and look what I got!

That dish is 3.5" across, which puts the babiest baby at 1/2" at its longest.

What should I do with them? I'm thinking roasting with just olive oil and salt, so I can get a full appreciation of what they really taste like.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Coconut Ice Cream

This is by far the easiest ice cream recipe ever. No eggs. No heavy cream. Just open a couple cans. And it's delicious!

I wanted to make ice cream, but didn't want to go to the store for whole milk and heavy cream. I also didn't want to deal with cooking the eggy custardy thing and waiting for it to chill forever.

So I found this recipe for Coconut Ice Cream from Clotilde and Chocolate & Zucchini, and gave it a shot. I used about 1/3 cup of unsweetened dried grated coconut, and 2/3 cup of sweetened dried coconut shreds, because that's what I had. I also was out of vanilla, and had no rum, so I used a capful or so of rum extract. And I cut the sugar to 1/2 cup since some of my coconut was sweetened.

After fighting with my ice cream maker to get the paddle-mixer to stay put, I was rewarded with a tasty coconut ice cream. It's a little grainy, not perfectly creamy like "real" ice cream, but I don't think that's a bad thing. Definitely a keeper.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Spaghetti and Mussels

OK, I'm sure everyone has tried (or at least heard of) linguine and clams. I make a pretty good version with garlic, white wine, clam juice, canned clams and parsley. (Note to husband: curly parsley is a garnish that no one eats, flat Italian parsley is for cooking.)

But have you ever tried spaghetti and mussels? Same premise as linguine and clams, but I used canned mussels from Trader Joe's instead of clams, and spaghetti instead of linguine because it was leftover in the fridge.

I won't be buying canned mussels again, because the texture was something I really didn't appreciate. I don't know whatever possessed me to buy them in the first place, I should have known they'd be all mushy and weird.

But it still tasted good. Can't wait to try it with real mussels.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Bacon Wrapped Pineapple and Cream Cheese Stuffed Chiles

Geez could I have a longer title?

I saw Pioneer Woman's post on how to cut up a pineapple, and was immediately tempted by the picture of stuffed jalapeños. I ran to my garden and picked the 3 biggest jalapeños from my garden, which were still awfully small. And I picked a bunch of serranos.

The chiles were cut in half and seeded, then stuffed with cream cheese. Do you know how difficult it is to stuff a chile that's only 1/2 inch long?

The chiles were topped with a small piece of pineapple, then wrapped in a small strip of bacon. I baked them on a rack over a foil-lined pan (to catch the grease, you know, 'cause bacon fires suck) for about 20 minutes at 375.

Did I mention what a pain in the ass this is when your chiles are tiny?

But you know what? Absolutely worth it. They were gone in 5 minutes.

Awesome Product Alert - Roth Kase Buttermilk Blue

So it turns out I'm now allergic to blue cheese. I bought a beautiful wedge of Roth Käse Buttermilk Blue, and had a bit on a cracker.

Instant itchiness all over my mouth. And, get this, I'm not allergic to penicillin.

But, like with avocado, I'm still going to eat blue cheese, in moderation. Especially this Roth Käse, because it's tangy, creamy, and utterly delicious - and only $11/lb at my local grocery store. (You can buy a whole 6lb wheel direct from the manufacturer for $7.43/lb. A 50% markup for a small cut isn't bad!)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Roasted Chiles

Here's a pic of "roasted" Anaheims that I forgot was in my camera:

I say "roasted", because they were cooked in a dry non-stick skillet on the stovetop until charred. Then thrown in a plastic bag for a bit, skins peeled, seeds mostly removed, and cut into strips. Normally I use my little Weber grill to get that nice smoky flavor, but it was hot and humid and gross outside, and there was no way I was going to stand over glowing coals for 45 minutes.

They went into chili verde, made with pork ribs this time instead of diced boneless chops. I think it was better with the rib bones - more fat, but more flavor from the collagen and marrow.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Spaghetti with Tomatoes and Basil

I finally cooked something! And...wait for it........I took pictures! OK, not very good ones, but whatever.

My yellow grape tomato plant graciously decided to give me enough ripe tomatoes all at once to make a pasta dish. I also had 2 golf-ball-sized ones from my Early Girl plant, which is starting to yellow. :-(

I bought some basil ($2 for a plastic package, but I can't grow my own to save my life) and some zucchini on my way home.

I cut the tomatoes in half while a minced clove of garlic sauteed in olive oil, threw the tomatoes into the pan, and simmered on low heat while the pasta cooked. I drained the pasta, saving some of the water, then added the pasta to the skillet on top of the tomatoes along with the water. Added some shredded basil, tossed around a bit, then served with parmesan cheese and hot chili flakes.

For the zucchini, I sauteed them in olive oil with garlic powder, paprika, s&p, until slightly browned but still a little crunchy.

Nice and simple, and the whole thing was done in the time it took the water to boil and the pasta to cook.

And, while I love pork in all its delectable forms, this meal was thankfully pork-free.

Since this is pasta and it was definitely presto, I'm submitting it to Presto Pasta Nights created by Ruth at Once Upon a Feast. This week it's being hosted by Katie at Thyme for Cooking.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tasty Deliciousness for Dinner

Once again, no pictures, sorry. But with 4 adults and 4 children, taking a picture really wasn't an option. Well, it was, but it wouldn't have been pretty.

Let me set the scene: I smelled something beautiful before I even opened the front door. Wondering what tasty treats were on offer, I opened the door, and stepped inside. I was immediately hit with the fragrance of garlic. Mmm...

Then I detected the unmistakable smell of pork. Ribs? Chops? I couldn't tell.

But wait, there's something else. Smells of the sea. Shrimp?

I make it to the kitchen, and finally see tonight's offerings:
  • Thin breaded fried pork chops
  • Shrimp sauteed in garlic and butter
  • Pork ribs braised in a tomato-based sauce with green pepper, ginger, and a ton of black pepper
  • White rice
  • Green salad with tomatoes, radish, green onion, avocado, and a secret seasoning (I suspect Accent)
  • Homemade red chili sauce
  • Plus leftover Israeli couscous salad with tomatoes and cucumber
  • and chili-lime pistachios that I made yesterday
All eight of us (8!) ate well, and there are still leftovers for tomorrow's lunches. And I wasn't allowed to do dishes or help clean up, but was instead instructed to sit on the porch and relax with a glass of wine. Who am I to argue?

Right now, it's good to live in my house.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Vietnamese Lemongrass Chili Sauce

I bookmarked Wandering Chopsticks' recipe for Tuong Ot Xa, or Lemongrass Chili Sauce, back when she first posted it. My serranos are extremely proliferative this year, and, at WC's suggestion, I used them for the sauce.

I started by mincing lemongrass, then finely chopping it, almost pureeing, in my spice grinder. Same with onion and garlic. Same with the fresh serranos, and the dried chilis de arbol (seeds removed).

(That's a bowl of ground-up chilis. Sorry for the blurriness and overexposure. Oh, and here's a tip - don't stick your face right over the grinder when you take the lid off.)

Saute it all up in a bunch of oil (I used mostly canola with a smidge of peanut), throw in your sugar, salt, fish sauce, and Sriracha, and let simmer for 10 minutes.

My conclusion?

Either WC has an extremely high tolerance for pain, or I used some damn-hot chilis! However, it's soooo tasty. I can't wait to put it on absolutely everything.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

My 4th Chunky of 2008

I committed myself to reading 4 chunky books this year (chunky being defined as at least 450 pages) by signing up for the Chunkster Challenge, hosted by Dana.

My 4th chunky of the year is A Fortress of Grey Ice by J.V. Jones. Yay, I finished a challenge!

I've read some of Jones's other books - the Book of Words trilogy, and A Cavern of Black Ice - it's good fantasy fiction - a little magic, a few monsters, a medieval feel, plotlines that don't get all tangled up in themselves.

This one's as good as the others I've read, good enough for me to bookmark the 3rd book in this series for when it comes out in paperback.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Quesadilla from Leftovers

or, How Hunger and Blogging Don't Mix

I was absolutely starving when I got home from work today. The quickest way to eat something tasty was to make a quesadilla out of the leftovers from taco night.

Oh, taco night...let's back up a minute:

Sunday night we had friends over. MIL made tacos, rice and beans. Sounds boring, right? Not so! She seasoned & cooked ground beef, adding a shredded potato to keep it thick (who knew?). Then she fried corn tortillas in oil about halfway, drained them, stuffed with a little meat, then fried the rest of the way. I thought frying the 2nd time with the meat would result in greasy-nasty beef, but it didn't. Trays of tacos were served with green onion, tomato, cilantro & onion, and shredded cheese (and homemade chili, of course). Spanish rice and pinto beans for sides. It made for a pleasant Sunday evening with friends, slightly dampened by the fact that we all got tired early 'cause we ate too much.

Now, back to the present:

Of course, there were leftovers, 'cause MIL cooks for an army, even if there's no army present. So tonight's quesadilla went as follows:

  1. Spread beans, ground beef, and cheese on one half of a flour tortilla.
  2. Toast in a skillet until crunchy on the outside and melty-gooey on the inside. (Geez, I sound like a Taco Bell commercial, sorry.)
  3. Remove from skillet, open quesadilla, add tomatoes, green onions, and chili sauce, close quesadilla.
  4. Eat.
  5. Remember to take a picture only after the plate is empty.
But it's ok, I'm sure there'll be a "next time", hopefully one in which I remember to take a picture.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Lemon Ice Cream

What do you do when you have a lemon tree overloaded with lemons, and you also happen to have half a pint of heavy cream in your fridge?

You make lemon ice cream!

This was my first attempt at a custard-based ice cream, using this recipe from the Barefoot Kitchen Witch, and it was everything I hoped it would be. I am newly enamored with both my lemon tree and my ice cream maker.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Baraze Cookies

I saw this recipe on Cave Cibum yesterday, and just had to make them, given that I had mahlab in my pantry.

They're so good! Nutty and buttery. My kind of cookie.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


MIL made tostadas last night. We make these all the time, but for some reason, hers are better.

Brown some ground beef and onions, seasoned with garlic powder and salt.

Open a can of refried beans, add some butter, milk and chili powder, and heat up.

Shred lettuce and cheese, chop tomatoes and green onions. I usually also have chopped black olives and cilantro.

Fry some corn tortillas in oil.

Assemble your tostada - spread on some beans, then some meat, some cheese, and veggies of your choice. Top with your favorite hot sauce. Eat. Repeat.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Food & Wine, August 2008

Once again, my list of yummy-looking recipes that I'll probably never make from Food & Wine:

Pickled Farm-Stand Tomatoes with Jalapeños - I might actually make this - the phrase "plenty of crusty bread to sop up the ginger-and-cumin-scented tomato juices" made me salivate.

Honey-Tomato Bruschetta with Ricotta - although I think honey in the cooked tomatoes and on top of the bruschetta is a bit much...

Grilled Marrow Bones with Rosemary-Lemon Brushetta - but with marrow bones at $3-4 / lb, subtracting the weight of the bones probably makes it at least $20/lb for the marrow....yikes. But I guess if you treat it like a really good quality butter or cheese, $20/lb isn't too bad.

Kind of a short, boring issue this month. If you don't subscribe, I wouldn't bother with it at the newsstand. (Does anyone shop at a newsstand any more?)

And my favorite quote from this month's issue: Chris Cosentino says "Someone once told me marrow is like God's butter."

Another Kitchen Injury

Hubby and MIL both wanted banana muffins, so I made these Banana Crumb Muffins. Tasty!

However, when reaching into the oven to retrieve my stupidly floppy silicone muffin trays, my arm hit the top of the oven.

I've never had a burn like this before, with untouched skin inside and outside of a ring-shaped burn. Then there's the redness surrounding the ring, which couldn't have touched the oven, it was probably just from close proximity to blazing hot oven walls.

I think I could start a separate blog just to chronicle my injuries.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

An Overabundance of Serranos


My 6 serrano plants have more chiles on them than I can use.

What do I do?

Can I can them? Freeze them?

Mince them and hide them in zucchini bread?

Any suggestions are welcome!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Shawarma and a Job

Tonight's dinner was chicken and lamb shawarma from Pita's Mediterranean Grill in San Marcos. I love this place. The meat is always seasoned perfectly, and I could live off their hummus and garlic sauce. They don't have a website, but here's a Chowhound review that I completely agree with.

But the highlight of the day? MIL got a job! The second day she was here, we drove her around to show her the town - she saw the hospital and said "I want to work there." We applied online, they called 2 days later, the interview was today, and she's hired!

I think this calls for a sushi splurge this weekend.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Mystery Dinner and a Plea

This is what I was greeted with when I came home this evening.

Mystery Plate #1: Thin Breaded Fried Pork Chops

Mystery Plate #2: Potatoes Au Gratin

Mystery Plate #3: Fideos

Chops were thin and fried, so you could eat the fatty parts without that nasty congealy fat texture. Yum. Potatoes were from a box, but MIL doctored them up somehow. Yum again. Fideos weren't what I'm used to, they were more soupy and not spicy. But yum.

So this brings me to my plea: Can someone in North County San Diego please offer my MIL a job? She's a registered CNA and specializes in restorative care for the elderly. If she doesn't find gainful employment soon, we're all going to weigh 300 lbs.

My Mother-In-Law Cleaned my Fridge

I can't find a thing. But I love it.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Another Non-Food Post

I like this picture of Bad Kitty. She almost doesn't look like a cat.

Sunday, July 6, 2008


Thanks to my OCD, I collected a bunch of bannock recipes recently. Not the Scottish oat-based ones, but the American (?) flour-based. I wasn't sure if I'd try any of them, but you can't have too many recipes on your hard drive, right?

Well, tonight (while I had access to my kitchen, MIL was reading in her room), I had the urge to bake something, since it had finally cooled down a little. Knowing that milk is always the first thing to spoil in my house, I used the handy-dandy search feature in Windows Explorer, and searched for "milk". Bannock showed up at the top of the list.

This recipe was from everybody likes sandwiches.

These were different from the norm, as the dough was baked on a cookie sheet instead of fried. I used sesame seeds instead of flax seeds, based on the contents of my pantry. I think my cookie sheet was smaller, as they looked to be about double the thickness of ELS's. They were so good! Crunchy outside, slightly chewy inside, nice nuttiness from the seeds. Great with red chile jelly.

I've got 5 more recipes in queue - this may be the start of a bannock bonanza...

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Not Much Cooking... me anyway.

MIL has been doing all the cooking lately, and I just can't seem to get in the habit of photographing other people's cooking.

Last night we had home-made taquitos. She boiled a flank steak for over an hour until it was extremely tender, mixed it with sauteed onions and tomatoes, rolled that in corn tortillas, then shallow-fried, served with her homemade green chili sauce (HOT!) and guacamole.

Tonight we had adobo. Chicken marinated in pickling spice, then simmered in vinegar, soy sauce and tomato sauce, served over rice with a salad on the side.

For tomorrow, she's talking about chiles rellenos.

I'm spoiled. I love that for the past week I haven't had to think about cooking after working all day. But at the same time, I kind of want my kitchen back. I find myself sneaking in to make a batch of granola bars while she's napping. And I made a yogurt dressing today for a salad that I swear we're going to eat tomorrow, no matter what she cooks.

Did I mention she mopped my floor? I love this woman.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Do We Really Need Another One?

With the temporary shutdown of Tastespotting, 3 sites quickly filled the gap - Food Gawker, Food Porn Daily, and Recipe Muncher.

I personally prefer Food Porn Daily, because of Rachel's commentary.

Food Gawker is good, close to the old Tastespotting.

Recipe Muncher has some RSS feed problems, e.g. I got "New York Style Cheesecake - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" in my reader 27 times in 24 hours. Also, sometimes there are coding problems and you don't see the pic, just a bunch of HTML in your reader, and a 404 when you click thru, e.g. Singapore Style Mee Siam from this morning.

But now there's another one, Photograzing, run by Serious Eats.

And, as you probably know, Tastespotting is back.

I'm thoroughly overloaded. My reader now has 149 unread entries from FG, FPD, RM and TS, accumulated over only 18 hours.

Will I subscribe to Photograzing too? Probably not...

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Puppy Post

My chihuahua, Chula, with her favorite toy, a miniature tennis ball. For size perspective, those are 13" tiles.