Showing posts with label excellent ethnic food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label excellent ethnic food. Show all posts

Monday, June 17, 2013

three r's

Letters are big in my house right now. We talk about the sounds they make, we draw them on magnadoodles and chalkboards, we spot them on signs during road trips. The alphabet is everywhere these days thanks to my little man. His favorite game is to try to figure out what letter a word starts with. We play this a lot at meals as we sit down and eat together. He especially loves when a meal has lots of the same letter. Breakfast of blueberry waffles with a side of blackberries and bananas - bonkers in his book.  Even his baby sister tries to get in on the game, although she thinks every letter is an E or an O. Bless her heart, she'll get it one day. Anyway, this dish contains some of our family's favorite r's - rigatoni, ricotta, and red sauce.

Here is the list of what you need to make this ridiculously good and really easy dish:
1lb of rigatoni
16oz of ricotta
3 cups of mozzarella
1 large jar of red sauce
1/2 cup of parmesan
fresh italain herbs
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil pasta til aldente, about eight minutes. Drain. Find an oven safe skillet with deep sides. Place pasta in skillet. Toss with ricotta. Add in red sauce. (Note if you like your pasta a bit more saucy add in more at this time.) Heat over a low flame. Stir in two cups of mozzarella until melted. Stir in fresh herbs. I added finely chopped basil, parsley and oregano from my garden. Top with remaining mozzarella and parmesan. Remove from heat and place in oven. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes until dish bubbles. Scoop out hefty portions and serve with more parmesan and fresh herbs if desired.

It is really really good. Sorry couldn't resist just a couple more r's...

Friday, May 17, 2013

home improvements

Because we live in a hundred year old bungalow, we are constantly making home improvements. Sometimes its just painting the dining room the perfect shade of blue (even if it takes five different shades to get that right), other times its more mundane tasks like re-calking the tub. It seems like there is always something that needs fixing up a bit, even though we love our little home just as it is.

The same thing recently happened when I made these tacos. Taco night is a staple in many American households, and ours is no exception. We make many versions - meat, black bean, soy, chicken, fish, and even fried avocado - but beyond just variety it turns out there is always room for improvement on a classic.

So after seeing innumerable versions of oven baked tacos on pinterest I decided to use the general technique and make my own. As usual I prepared my own fresh toppings that the carnivore hates (lettuce, tomato, sour cream, and the like), and I prepared the fillings for each set of tacos in separate pans (soy crumbles for me / real ground beef for him). You can see how I do this here.

But then I took a couple extra steps. I preheated the oven to 375 degrees. Grabbed a couple oven safe dishes. Lined them with blue and yellow taco shells. And filled them with the taco meat (or "meat" in my case). Then I smothered them in shredded jack cheese. I baked them for about 15 minutes total. I topped mine with all my goodies and left the carnivore's plain.

And guess what? They were amazing. The filling was warm and gooey. The shells were crispy. But best of all - especially if you have toddlers in the house - they didn't fall apart! Who knew this was the secret to a perfect taco? And it was just a little improvement. If only it were as easy to change a lighting fixture or stain a deck.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

cultural crossroads

My husband has a mixed heritage. He has some French blood, some Irish, and some Italian. But his stomach I assure you is 100% Italian. If we had it every night he would be fine. I feel the same way about southern food. Is it fried? Then I'm in. This recipe is the best of both of our culinary worlds. I get to fry things up in my cast iron skillet, and my carnivore gets his Italian food fix. Not to mention it is super easy.

You will need the following (to satisfy both carnivores and vegetarians):

3 chicken breasts
1 eggplant
2 eggs
3/4 cup of seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup of grated parmesan
1 tblsp of italian seasoning
salt & pepper
1.5 jars of red sauce
4 tblsp of olive oil
2 cups of shredded mozzarella
1 box of spaghetti

Start salted water to boil for pasta and cook spaghetti according to directions. Next skin and slice an eggplant. Salt and pepper both eggplant slices and chicken breasts. Get out two deep skillets - preferably cast iron. Add  2 tblsp olive oil to each. Heat on medium flame. Beat eggs in a shallow dish. Combine Bread crumbs, parm, and seasonings in a similar dish. Start with eggplant. Dip in egg, then breadcrumb mixture, then add to pan. Repeat with chicken and place in separate skillet. Brown on both sides. Add red sauce to each skillet. Top each breast or eggplant slice with mozzarella. Cover and let cheese melt. Drain pasta and toss with oil. Salt and pepper as desired. Serve eggplant or chicken over pasta. Top with more grated parmesan if desired.

Like many things that combine cultures in a culinary fashion, the result was amazing. Both this southern belle and my Italian stallion (yes that is a Rocky reference for my Philly guy) left the table stuffed. Everyone can get behind that.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

good sense

When I cook for the carnivore I obviously can't taste the food, so I have to rely on my other senses. I listen for the sizzle of the steak in the pan. I look at the browned skin on the chicken thighs. I feel the thick cut of the bacon. And finally, there is my sense of smell, which I used in this recipe. When I made these crockpot carnitas, my whole house smelled like a Mexican restaurant. I knew before the meat hit my man's lips that this recipe was going to be a repeat in out house.

Now, I should start out by saying that as my carnivore hubs pointed out to me, carnitas is traditionally made with pork. This recipe, which I found on this great blog - eat, live, run - called for beef and that is what I used. If you want to substitute pork I think you could. In fact, the original recipe called for flank steak, but I could only find a flat iron. I made a few other adjustments too. Here is what you will need to make this marvelous Mexican dish as I did:

1.5 lbs flat iron steak
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 small white onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red chili pepper, seeded, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Start by mixing the spices together in a small bowl. Then rub the mixture generously over the meat. Place the steak in the crockpot. Cover with the chopped onions and peppers (ours came from either our backyard or our CSA). Turn the heat on low and cook for eight hours. Shred the meat in the pot with two forks. How easy is that?

Serve on your favorite type of tortilla - flour, corn, or even whole wheat. I was lucky to get my carnivore to eat the peppers that had marinated in the meat juice all day, and that was only because he grew some of them. But, if you have a less veggie averse meat eater you can top your tacos with avocado, cilantro, salsa and lime juice.

You can almost taste it now just reading this, right?

menu ideas:
Since I didn't have to worry about the carnivore's main dish after I put it in the slow cooker after breakfast, I made my own soy crumble tacos. Mine were complete with avocados, tomatoes, and all the fixins. We also had grilled corn in the husks and seasoned black beans.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

viva la mexico

Maybe its the fact that it is finally warming up or  that my son was born on Cinco de Mayo, but I find myself day dreaming more and more lately about making a trip back to Mexico. The carnivore and I were married there several years ago. A mariachi band and margaritas - the whole shebang. We promised all our guest we'd have a reunion in five years. Time is almost up and what can I say? These kids, they are the most rewarding and adorable time and money suck you can imagine. As such, all I am planning these days is a Cat in the Hat themed bday bash for the little man who will turn two in a few days. That doesn't mean I don't let my mind wander to warm beaches and cold beers. Oh, and the best guacamole on this planet. And they will bring it right to you beach chair for just a few pesos.

In my opinion avocado is the most perfect food. I am happy to report my kids feel the same way - even if my husband doesn't. I fell in love with it in law school. I was on a trip to Tanzania and this amazing cafe served it simply halved, coated in olive oil and kosher salt. It is hard to improve upon that, but let me try. Introducing my fried avocado tacos inspired from this recipe the carnivore sent me.

To make your own you will need:
1 large avocado
1 cup of flour, and a bit more for dredging
1 cup of beer
1/2 tsp of baking powder
vegetable oil
salt, pepper, and other seasonings of your choosing (I added chili lime hot sauce)
sour cream
fresh cilantro
lettuce, tomato, etc. for topping
lime wedges

Start by preheating 1/2 inch or so of oil in a cast iron skillet. (It is ready when a drop of batter bubbles in it.) Mix together flour, beer, baking powder and seasonings. Slice the avocado. Dredge slices in a bit of flour and then dip in batter. Fry in oil, about two minutes on each side. They will turn golden. Place them on a plate of paper towels to remove an excess oil. Place a few fried pieces in a tortilla with toppings of your choosing, like lettuce and tomato. I added a cilantro sour cream, using fresh herbs from our own garden. I also squeezed a few fresh lime wedges over top before eating.

They weren't as good as a trip to Mexico, but they were dang close. My BFF and bridesmaid Jen even made some after she heard about them. See, it is kinda like I'm like we are all back there together, right?

menu ideas:
The night I made these I used the remaining batter to make fish tacos for my carnivore. We also enjoyed corn on the cob and seasoned black beans.

Monday, April 2, 2012

bowled over

The last two times my carnivore and I have cooked for dinner guests, we have gotten rave reviews about our brown rice. Really, brown rice. I know to many people there is nothing more bland or unexciting out there, but we have lucked onto a good brand that we buy in bulk. We also have invested in a good rice cooker. One that has its own brown rice setting. It makes the fluffiest rice and you can set a timer. Win, win. But even if buttered brown rice as side isn't your thing, I have a main dish idea that will bowl you over.

Start with brown rice. Once cooked, toss it with salt and freshly chopped cilantro. Then pile this mixture into two bowls. Top each with shredded cheddar and corn. On the carnivore's bowl add in grilled and shredded chicken that has been seasoned with lime juice and cayenne pepper. In the vegetarian bowl add in seasoned black beans, diced green bell pepper, and creamy avocado. I also like to top mine with a dollop of sour cream. Finally, squeeze a fresh lime slice over the bowl and add in any more salt and pepper to taste.

Filling and flavorful, this isn't you basic brown rice in a bowl.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

fiesta salad

Last month our baby omnivore turned one. Since he was born on Cinco de Mayo we had a Mexican fiesta. We had everything from mariachi rubber duckies for the little ones to hand squeezed margaritas for the big people. It was a blast. And whther it was taking swings at the pinata or swigs of Negro Modelo, young and old alike had a good time. We even got everyone in a sombrero for some fantastic photo ops.

I also had lots of good food, of course. There was fresh guacamole, lime and cilantro chicken drummies, several kinds of quesadillas - from grilled flank steak to sauteed veggies, and Mexican chocolate cupcakes (dark chocolate with cinnamon) from our favorite local bakery. But one of the best menu items in my opinion, was this fiesta salad.

You will need the following:
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 bag of frozen corn, steamed
1/4 of a red onion diced
3-4 green onions, chopped
1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
3-4 medium radishes, cleaned and sliced
the juice from one lime
several sprigs of fresh cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

Simply toss the ingredients in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let set over night. Stir again before serving and top with more cilantro. I have tons in my herb garden. I also got the green onions and radishes from my CSA bag that week. The are optional, but I think they add a bit of festive color to the salad.

The guests gobbled the salad up. And the baby and I enjoyed the leftovers, the little that remained. Party on!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

fajitas for two

After years of coming up with dinners for the two of us, I have a few go-to ideas that are quick and satisfying. Some of these ideas came from our favorite places to eat out. Like many carnivore and veggie couples when we first started dating, the simplest answer to how to make dinner was to have someone else do it for us. He could order his massive amounts of animal protein and I could get all the fresh vegetables a girl could desire. Unfortunately, this led to bigger waistlines and smaller checking accounts.

But take, fajitas as an example. We both love, love, love Mexican food. And though he mostly orders the carnitas while I stick with the vegetable chimichanga when we are out these days, it was plain as day that this sizzling menu item was easily adaptable for both our palates. Here's how I do it at home:

I start by gathering all of the "extras". I put out some sour cream, shredded cheese, pico de gallo, lime wedges, and slices of avocado. Along with some warmed fajitas these fixins make all the difference. I then get out two large skillets. In his I heat up slices of chicken and/or steak with half a packet of fajita seasonings and some vegetable oil, possibly even a bit of diced yellow onion too. In my skillet I saute every color of bell pepper you can imagine with sliced and seeded tomatoes and onion. Occasionally, I will add in mushrooms too. These beauties all go in with the rest of the seasoning pack and some more vegetable oil. Once the meat is done and the veggies are soft, we load up our tortillas. Served with refried pinto beans and Mexican rice, we are both stuffed in no time.

Got any restaurant inspired favorites at your house? Can they be made for both meat eaters and vegetarians? Let me know below.

Friday, February 11, 2011

speedy gonzalas

If you are a parent you understand that time is a precious commodity. After baby comes, you find yourself asking what on earth you used to do with all that free time you had. Now there is bath time, play time, dinner time, but never any free time.  As such my midday meals are now more than ever an exercise in time management. I need to get the most out of a minimal effort. Enter my super speedy quesadilla.

For this recipe you will need to have the following items on hand:
Corn tortillas
1 can of black beans
1/4 red onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp of cumin
shredded cheddar cheese
salt, pepper, oil
avocado or chorizo to garnish - optional

Start by heating the onion and garlic in a small sauce pan with a bit of oil on medium high heat. Then open your can of black beans and drain the liquid. Add them to the pot. Stir in the cumin and salt and pepper to taste. Let this bubble away. Next get out the corn tortillas (not flour, just won't have that same crunch). Place them in a small frying pan with oil over medium heat. I like vegetable for this, but anything will do. Then heat one corn tortilla on both sides till soft. Set aside on a plate. Repeat with a second tortilla. Add a handful of cheddar to this tortilla. Next spoon on a generous portion of the black bean mixture. Add a bit more cheese. Top with the tortilla you had set aside. Let the cheese melt a bit and then flip. After a minute remove from the heat. Serve with a smashed avocado (for the vegetarians in your life) or a couple of slices of cooked chorizo (for your meatheads) on top. Drizzle a bit more oil over the whole plate and sprinkle with more salt and pepper.

Warm, protein packed, crunchy and melty all at the same time, these quick quesadillas are amazing. Also, once you have the black been mixture made you can save the reserves and it will be even easier the rest of the week. And we all know, that time is of the essence, so faster is better. You might even have time to eat it - who knows!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

pulling a rabbit out of your hat

I had a roommate in law school that was from Italy. His mother did everything (and I mean everything) for him, including cook. He thought anything that happened in the kitchen was magic. The poor boy lived on cup of noodle unless I fed him. And anytime I made dinner, you woulda thought I was David Copperfield. Now when I make ramen noodles I think of him and his meager noodle cups. And while the carnivore may not be as enthralled with my cooking abilities, he does like this dish.

Start with two packages of ramen noodles. Throw out the seasoning packs - yuck! Boil the noodles in water until they float to the top. In the meantime, get out two skillets or woks. In one saute chicken tenders and snow peas. In the other cook mixed frozen veggies and extra firm tofu that the liquid has been thoroughly removed. I like to use a mix of Asian flavors including sesame oil, soy sauce, teriyaki marinade, and chili paste. Feel free to experiment here with your own concoction. Once everything is ready, pile up the ramen in two large bowls. Top with the respective stir fries and enjoy.

Look, it might not be magic, but you won't believe how good it is (and how easy too).

Monday, October 11, 2010

going native

The carnivore has a rule about imported beers. He only drinks beers that natives drink. Confused? Let me explain. There is never any Corona in our house. We got married in Mexico and have visited there several times. Never once have we seen a Mexican drinking a Corona. Thus, in our house we partake of Pacifico and Sol. These two beers that we discovered on our many trips to the Mayan Riviera are fantastic to sip on a humid summer night (or Fall here since the temps are staying ridiculously high). They transport me back to our adventures there almost instantly.
So, it is no wonder that when I made mini-tacos (the kind you also find in Mexico) the other night, I decided to drown the carnivore's chicken in Pacifico. To make this marvelous Mexican marinade you need only take three medium sized chicken breasts and place them in a large plastic storage bag with 3/4 a bottle of Pacifico. Feel free to swig the rest yourself - you don't want to be wasteful after all. Then add in a tbsp of kosher salt, the juice of one small lime, and 3 tbsp of fresh chopped cilantro. Swish the mixture around and coat the chicken. Place in the fridge and let it soak for at least 1 hour. Then remove and grill it. Slice the chicken and place on a warm tortilla (flour or corn) along with some shredded cheese (pepper jack would be a nice choice) and a lime wedge for juicing at the end.
And, while the carnivore scarfed down several of these chick-a-dees, I had guacamole tacos. You can find my gauc recipe here. (Think it is hard to cook for different diets? What's easier than having him grill his main dish and throwing mine in the food processor?) We both enjoyed spicy black beans and cilantro infused rice.  Sliced watermelon made a nice dessert. Oh, and of course we had a few Pacificos. 

Friday, August 13, 2010

my thai

The carnivore and I both love Thai food. Unfortunately, I am not the greatest Asian food chef. Sure I can do a quick stir fry. And I have even managed to make a sesame recipe that tastes like take out, but that's about it.  Needless to say my adventures in Thai food are normally relegated to eating out.

However, when I stumbled upon a simple Thai recipe at Worth the Whisk I thought I would give it a go. Click here for the original recipe. Of course, I had to do a bit of adjusting to make it friendly for both me and the carnivore.

I started by using veggie broth instead of chicken both. (This is key meat eaters!) So, I made the broth with 3/4 cup of veggie broth, 1/4 cup rice vinegar, 2 tbsp. soy sauce, 1 tbsp. minced fresh ginger, 1 tbsp. minced garlic, 1/4 tsp. hot chili flakes, and a few chopped green onions. At the same time I boiled the pasta in one pot. Then, using two skillets, I fried up some chicken and tofu separately in sesame oil. Once everything was ready I piled the linguine in two bowls, topped one with chicken and one with tofu. I then poured the some of the broth over each. Finally, I topped the bowls with a bit of fresh cilantro, lime juice from 1/4 of a lime and lots peanuts.

While this might not be much to look at it was so good we wanted to slurp up every last drop! Even better the second day once all the flavors had mixed together. Not that I am going to stop eating out at Thai restaurants, but now at least I can make my Thai too.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

yin and yang

Wikipedia says that yin and yang is a concept in Chinese philosophy that "is used to describe how seemingly disjunct or opposing forces are interconnected and interdependent." I think that pretty much sums up me and the carnivore. We are very different in many ways. I am vertically challenged and he is often the tallest person in a crowded room. I am a cat person; he is a dog person (we have both). I am a neat freak, and he is a little messy. I am a vegetarian, and he is, well, a carnivore. But we are the best of friends. And that is why we make such an effort to make our meals work.

It isn't really as hard as it seems. Like the other night when we had stir-fry. If you are new to a mixed diet family, this is a good option. Start by making a big batch of sticky jasmine rice in your rice cooker. (If you don't have a rice cooker - get one!) Then heat some snow peas with a bit of butter and salt in a sauce pan. Next set up two skillets. Add a bit of sesame oil to each. In one put all kinds of veggies (I used carrots, broccoli, and a variety of mushrooms, but sprouts and firm tofu work well too). In the other pan put you meat (this night I used organic chicken breast I cut into bite sized pieces). While each skillet sizzles add in Asian flavors with teriyaki marinade, soy sauce, and chili paste (optional - I like my stuff spicy, but the carnivore doesn't). They even make stir-fry seasoning packets that can boost up the meal a bit if you wish. Saute until the chicken is done and the veggies are warm. Then pile your plates up!

It is just that easy. Each of us got a tasty meal (and I even snuck something green on the carnivore's plate), but neither of us gave up what we like best. Yin and yang in action.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

modern mexican

I love Mexican food. I could eat it every meal of everyday. I mean, what's not to like about guacamole, fajitas, rice and beans. And of course, there is all that cheese. However, since the carnivore is more in love with Italian food than Mexican, I try to keep it interesting by mixing up the basics - even something as simple as taco night.

First, Mexican nights in my house always start with bubbly melted queso thanks to my heated chip and dip tray. But, this night I switched things up by serving the queso with organic blue corn tortilla chips. These are not only a nice change of pace, but they also pack in more protein, more antioxidants, and more nutritional value like many other purple foods.

And speaking of queso, I also decided to forgo the regular shredded cheese that you usually find in your dairy case and went straight for the real thing which I then shredded myself. I used this to top both of our tacos, adding calcium to each and leaving out all of the processed additives.

The carnivore's tacos were made with organic chicken that was sauteed in a little oil and chipotle sauce. Mine contained slices of red and orange peppers, which have been abundant at our farmer's market lately, that I cooked in a similar manner. Both of use used organic taco shells. In the end, we both enjoyed our modern Mexican night and felt good about what we had put into our bodies.

Got ways to mix-up classic Mexican meals? Let me know by leaving a comment below. I am always looking for new ways to cook my favorite foods.

menu ideas:
I served these tacos with with mashed refried black beans. You can find the recipe here - just substitute organic black beans for pinto. I also boiled two cobs of corn from the farmer's market- one white and one yellow. After they were cooked I shaved the kernels from the cob and tossed them in organic butter. These sides added both vitamin B and fiber, not to mention more wholesome goodness.

Monday, June 15, 2009

breakfast nachos

As we were wrapping up our trip in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, the carnivore introduced me and our friends to yet another amazing restaurant that had found in the guide books or message boards or wherever he keeps finding these places. It was a little off the beaten path, but worth the walk. It has a long name, but we ended up just calling it the monkey place...
We went to the monkey place for breakfast (but it is open for other meals). We all started with drinks. A couple of my friends ordered fresh fruit drinks, but the ones that ordered the banana milkshakes won the taste test hands down. (Go figure - it is the monkey place, after all.)But, my coffee was good and came in the cutest little terracotta set.
The menu was extensive. Our group ordered everything from salad to crepes. It all looked yummy and fresh. And, several of the dishes came with super salty black beans.But, I think I ordered the best dish. It was something called chilaquiles. I can only really describe it as breakfast nachos, really good breakfast nachos. There was a layer of sauce that the menu said was made of red and green tomatoes and xcatic chili. This was topped with handmade tortilla chips, which was then topped with a creamy coriander sauce with onions. Finally, two eggs sunny side up and a couple of slices of avocado.
It was nothing short of amazing! It still has my head spinning of ways I can make nachos for breakfast now that I am back home...

Friday, June 12, 2009

when in mexico eat thai food

One of the reasons the carnivore and I love Playa Del Carmen so much is that it has really great Mexican food (which I could eat everyday and not get tired of) and since there are many Italian ex-pats here, there is also really good Italian food (the carnivores favorite food). But, there are also many other types of ethnic offerings. We like the Mayan food offered at Yaxche and even had our rehearsal dinner there. There are even Lebanese places and and Sushi bars. This time the carnivore and I decided to try another one of our favorite foods - Thai. We found a great little place called Babes.
It was decorated with lots of pin-up girl paraphenalia. No wonder it caught the carnivore's eye...
The carnivore order a few beers but I started the meal with what I can only describe as the world's biggest mango daquari.We then ordered some yummy apps. The carnivore had cicken satay and I had refreshing vegetarian spring rolls. And, as the menu stated - they were very fresh.For dinner the carnivore ordered the deep fried thai shrimp. I ordered the same thing in tofu form, but as the waitress informed me, "We are a Thai restaruant, but sometimes we are Mexican. We are out of tofu today." I was a little amused and a little bummed, but I ordered the veggie Pad Thai. The carnivore devoured his and mine was fine - just a tad sweet. I think I was still lusting for tofu.All in all it was excellent and fresh. The atmosphere was also fun. Plus, the next day, the carnivore stopped and got my some tofu while I was working from the beach. And, it was worth the wait. So, when in Mexico, eat some Thai food. You won't be dissapointed.

Friday, June 5, 2009

what to feed any picky eater

So, I have a pretty adventurous palate. I'll try anything once. The carnivore, on the other hand, has the palate of a five year old. Seriously, he is the pickiest eater I have ever met. (When we go over to other people's house for dinner I am always worried my dear hubby won't be able to find anything to eat - I never even think about the fact that there might not be any vegetarian options.) Thus, I sometimes end up making meals at home that are very kid friendly, despite the fact that we don't have any kids. Quesadilla night is just one example.

Since this is a food that requires flipping, it is a night that the carnivore helps out (he also does pancakes, grilled cheese sandwiches, and anything on the grill outside). Per usual, we each have our own ideas about what makes good quesadilla filling. This night I had sliced porcini mushrooms and green onions. The carnivore had grilled steak strips. Of course, we both had cheese - the most important ingredient! I also topped mine with fresh slices of avocado and salsa. The carnivore had none of that.

The main point is though, that if you have ten people over with ten different tastes you can make a meal that will please each of them - whether they are vegetarians or meat eaters or just picky eaters in general. Plus, it is a quick meal too.

So, what is you favorite quesadilla filling? I would love to hear some new ideas. The carnivore might not try them - but I will!

menu ideas:
We like to have either cilantro flavored rice or freshly grilled corn (maybe with some cilantro and lime) with our quesadillas. We usually also have a side of black beans to add in a little more protein.

Friday, May 29, 2009

open sesame

Here's the deal. I make don't make Asian food that often. Not because I don't love it, but because it is never as good as takeout. And, picking up that phone and dialing is just so easy...

But, I came across a recipe for restaurant style sesame chicken, which you can find here on recipezaar. I was doubtful, but I thought I would give it a try. I made the chicken as directed. I altered the recipe and made tofu for myself. I am still no expert on tofu, and in the future I will remove more of the excess moisture, but it work fine enough.

It was really all about the sauce, which was as proclaimed as good as what you get in a restaurant. I would suggest cutting the recipe in half though. It was more than enough for both of our dishes and left overs (which we almost didn't have because the carnivore wanted to eat the whole batch). Also, I used vegetable broth instead of chicken broth so that it would be safe for both of us to eat. The carnivore had no clue.

So, if you are adventurous enough to make your own Asian food, I highly recommend you try this recipe out. Whether you make it with chicken or with tofu, the plates will be clean!

menu ideas:
I served our sesame chicken and tofu with buttered white rice (but brown would work too) and steamed snow peas. You could also start with a couple of spring rolls. They would be great dipped in the left over sauce.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

a new goal - the burrito mile

The carnivore and I have taken up jogging. (Note I didn't say running. We aren't there yet.) It seems as though all of our friends have decided to race in one form or another, so on the bandwagon we jump. (We are heading to the beach in a few weeks anyway, so it can't hurt.) We started small. We decided to train for a .5k after seeing one on a travel channel show on about a buffalo wing festival. No, you didn't read that wrong - there is a decimal point there. I am happy to report we have surpassed our goal.

Looking for a new challenge, I happened across this website. In the burrito mile, you down a burrito and then run a mile. While we have made it over a mile now in our jogs, I am not sure we could eat a burrito and then do it. But, in preparation I thought I would make burritos nonetheless. (Not that I need an excuse to eat Mexican food.) As usual the carnivore and I have different takes on what makes a good burrito.

We start with the same base - flour tortillas heat briefly and cilantro rice. To make the rice I simply make some Uncle Ben's and then add in finely chopped cilantro from my herb garden with a little kosher salt. The carnivore then adds some form of grilled meat to his burrito, usually chicken, but sometimes steak. I add in avocados for my protein. We each like shredded cheese and beans. I always have black beans and refried pinto beans on hand. We both like each and alternate between the two. I also top mine with a little pico de gallo and red onion. The options are many but not overwhelming to prepare.

These burritos, depending on how you choose to put yours together, pack in lots of nutrients. The avocado gives you lots of vitamin B, the chicken furnishes lean protein, the beans bestows great fiber, the cheese provides calcium, the red onion dispenses chromium, the pico has vitamin C, and the tortilla and rice give you energizing carbs. Sounds like a good diet for a runner, right? Baby steps...

menu ideas:

These burritos are big and filling enough to serve alone. You can start with chips and salsa or cheese dip (because there is always room for more cheese). If you feel like you need something green on your plate, a small side salad will do.
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