Showing posts with label marvelous main dishes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label marvelous main dishes. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

having your mushroom and eating it too

Sometimes when my carnivore and I go out to eat (which is rare with two toddlers) I see things on the menu that aren't vegetarian, but that I kinda wish I could have. Sure sometimes they will substitute this or that, but it isn't right there on the menu. What if you don't eat meat but that mushroom swiss burger sounds good? Well, you can do what I do - go home and recreate your own version.

You will need:
2 tblsp olive oil
1/2 small red onion, sliced
1 clove of garlic, diced
1 large portabella mushroom cap
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 slices of swiss cheese
a few sprigs of fresh thyme (optional)

Place one tablespoon of the oil in a skillet and heat over a medium flame. Add in garlic and onion. Place the mushroom in the pan and drizzle with remaining oil. Season with salt and pepper. Let onions caramelize and mushroom soften, about five minutes. Top the mushroom with cheese slices. Scoop onions onto of cheese and let it melt slightly. Remove from skillet and garnish with fresh thyme.

The meaty mushroom is just as filling as a big burger. Paired with the creamy swiss cheese, caramelized onions, and woodsy thyme each bite is delicious. Maybe some one should put it on their menu. Until then I will stay at home and have my mushroom swiss burger and eat it too!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

csa on a stick

When my CSA comes each week its like a little celebration. It reminds me of when I was little and I got to go to the fair. Rides, funnel cakes, carnival games - it was fun at every turn. And all the food on a stick. Candied apples, foot long corn dogs - you name it the food was fun too. So when my CSA came this past week, I decided to recreate the feeling in a way...a fresher and more healthy way...but still on a stick!

You need the following:
1-2 spring onions
2-3 summer squash
several cherry tomatoes
2 tblsp of olive oil
fresh herbs like basil and oregano
salt and pepper, to taste

Soak your kabob sticks in water for at least twenty minutes. Preheat the grill to medium heat. Slice the onions and squash. Place in a large ziplock bag with the tomatoes. Chop the fresh herbs and add them in. Finally pour in the oil. Seal the bag and toss til well coated. Add in salt and pepper and toss again. Let marinate at least an hour. Skewer veggies and place on grill. Cook for about eight minutes, turning every 2-3 minutes.

menu ideas:
I had these grilled veggies along with brown rice and green beans. The hubs grilled his own shrimp kabobs at the same time.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

peak of perfection

I love summer foods. Sweet corn, fresh okra, and juicy blackberries. In my opinion food doesn't get better than this. But above all things, when tomatoes hit their peak, it is my favorite time of year. I toss them in salads. I put them on sandwiches. I ate them straight with a bit of salt. I simply love a perfectly ripe local tomato. And this equally simple tart is a wonderful way to enjoy them.

You will need these ingredients:
1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
1/2 a large tomato, sliced
a handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
1 small head of green cauliflower
1/3 cup of crumbled goat cheese
several sprigs of fresh thyme

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prep a large baking sheet with non-stick spray. Roll out the dough into a 1/4 inch thick rectangle. Use flour as needed to keep dough from sticking to working surface and rolling pin. Top pastry with tomatoes, cauliflower, and cheese. Bake for 20 minutes until crust is golden. Top with fresh thyme and serve while warm.

It is like the peak of summer served on a sheet of flaky dough. You can't beat that. Perfection!

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...

Sunday, June 2, 2013

pizza party

I am probably the most adven-turous eater in my family. That means a couple of things -1) when I see a new recipe for a swiss chard gratin and get excited, I'm probably going to be on my own, 2) when I try to convince my family that grilled brussel sprouts are amazing, I'm gonna get silent stares, and 3) occasionally, I have to cave and give them pizza.

That doesn't mean, however, I have to eat fattening fast food pizza or order a cookie cutter "veggie lover" pie. I can give my carnivore his pepperoni pizza, make the kids one covered in multicolored olives (their favorite), and still give myself a special treat. Take this pizza, for example. It has whole wheat dough, a pesto base, and is topped with artichokes, sundried tomatoes, and fresh arugula from my me at least.

You will need:
1 ball of whole wheat pizza dough
1/2 cup of pesto
2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup of marinated artichoke hearts
1/4 cup of sundried tomatoes in oil
1 cup of fresh arugula

Roll out the pizza dough and place on a stone. Smear pesto all over. I used my collard green pesto, but a regular basil one will do. Cover the pie in cheese. Top with artichokes and tomatoes. Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Remove from oven and scatter arugula on top. Slice and serve with fresh parmesan if desired.

It was like a little pizza party in my belly! And the carnivore and kiddos were equally excited with their pies. Happy foodie, happy family!

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.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

sage advice

I have been the recipient of some good advice in my life. My father in particular has told me a few truism that stick with me to this day. While he made his oyster cornbread dressing at Thanksgiving he would remind me that he had been making this same recipe for years, and "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." While he stood watch over ribs doused in his homemade bbq sauce at the Fourth of July, he would pontificate that "father time takes care of just about anything." And while cleaning coolers of freshly caught fish that he would later fry in yellow cornmeal, he would tell me that "a meal didn't have to be fancy to be special." And while he passed down his rustic cooking style and his taste for food grown in the yard, he also has left me with a guidebook for my life.

I hope to do the same for my kids. They are always underfoot while I am whipping up my latest creation in the kitchen. We taste the goodies from the CSA and peruse the cookbook library for ideas. And we talk about life (as much as you can with toddlers). Just the other day my son grabbed a long red spring onion from our CSA bag and took several big bites - to my surprise. And we talked about how important it was to try new things. Then we made this purple sage and spring onion tart together.

To make your own gather these ingredients:
1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
1 small hot house tomato
several spring onions, red and white
1/2 cup of fresh herbed goat cheese
salt and pepper, to taste
fresh purple sage

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out pastry and place on greased cookie sheet. Slice tomatoes thinly. Slice onions and leave in small rings. Put vegetables in tart. Sprinkle generously with goat cheese. Add salt and pepper. Cook for 15-20 minutes until edges are golden. Coarsely chop sage and smother tart with it. Serve warm.

And just a little it with your loved ones, because it is important to sit down to meals together.

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.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

making it up as we go

Parenting books, blogs, and magazines have lots of helpful tips and tricks. On everything from potty training to temper tantrums they have lists from experts on how to handle any situation. What should you pack to take to the beach, how should you address body image with your daughter, what to feed a picky eater, and so on. But if we are all to be honest, most of it we have to make it up as we go. When my son is screaming in the store, I may offer him a banana from the produce section and grab another so I can pay for his impromptu snack. If my daughter insists on wearing her rain coat on a sunny day, I just let it slide. There are no hard and fast rules on this parenting thing.

Cooking can be the same way. I have some tried and true recipes that I have memorized by heart. I have others I am dying to try from my newest cookbooks. But on some nights, I just look in the pantry and make it up as I go. That's exactly what I did with this rice and beans dish.

You will need to following (to make this dish for both vegheads and carnivores):

2 cups of organic brown rice
1 can of chili beans in sauce
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1/4 large yellow onion, diced
1 tblsp of olive oil
salt & pepper
1 package of Italian sausage
1 package of soy sausage

Cook brown rice in rice cooker. Heat oil in large deep skillet. Add in onion and peppers. Cook til tender. Add in beans with sauce. In the meantime, cook the real and fake sausages in the own skillets. Once the rice is done add it to the mixture with the beans and veggies. Stir until well combined. Add salt and pepper as needed. Serve in large bowls and top with slices of sausage.

Turns out the improvised dish was a hit with everyone (well, the carnivore balked a bit at all the peppers). Sometimes you just have to make it up as you go.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

fire and ice

We sadly picked up our last bag of CSA goodies last week at our local botanical garden farmers' market. Somehow every week that we have gone the weather has been beautiful. I strap the kids in my double stroller, a gadget that has truly changed my life, and we stroll along from booth to booth, grab our CSA, get a few extras from other farmers, and then take a walk through the gardens. Luckily we are members and can still visit the garden, but I will miss my weekly influx of fresh local food. My son will miss the weekly Italian ice. Even when the days grew colder, he insisted our first stop be for "ice cream."

I have never understood people who could eat cold things when it was cold outside. As soon as the air gets brisk and leaves are crunching under my feet, I am all about pots of chili and mugs of cider. That doesn't however, stop me from enlisting my husband to venture out into the cold to grill. Lucky for me, like many men, my carnivore is always ready to light a fire.

Not too long ago we whipped up some kabobs. The carnivore, of course, had a selection of meats on a stick. I, wanting something meaty too, opted for mushrooms. All I did was toss cleaned baby bellas in a large ziplock bag with a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, and some fresh basil (which is still growing in my herb garden despite the cold snap). I then skewered and the carnivore grilled them for about eight minutes. I covered them with fresh feta crumbles, a few grape tomatoes, and more basil. It made for a wonderful main course alongside brown rice and green beans. 

It may have been cold outside, but these warm morsels filled me up. Of course, there is always room for dessert...Ice cream for dessert, anyone?

Sunday, October 7, 2012


I have got to get a hold of my husband's netflix password. It is getting out of control in my house. My DVD player has been super hero this, werewolf versus zombie that for over a month now, and I just can't take it anymore. I am in dire need of a chick flick. And, this used to be a department I could count on the hubs for. While he always preferred the explosive non-thinking movies to my more artsy films, we could usually settle on some romantic comedy and both be happy. But not lately. This chickadee has been living in uber-boy movieland and it has got to end soon!

Of course, my carnivore sometimes feels like this about our dinners. While I am all about trying grilled artichokes or orzo with asparagus, he just wants a man meal every now and again. I knew he was in that kind of a funk when he requested my chili on a day where the temps reached the nineties. And, that's okay. When he wants a fried pork chop or a grilled steak, I just make sure my main dish is something new I have been wanting to try - like this chick pea dish. I found it on pinterest (see the original here) and stock piled the ingredients for just such an occasion.

To make your own gather the following:
1 19oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 10oz. frozen package of spinach, thawed and drained
1 small can of diced tomatoes
1/2 large yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp cumin
dash of hot red pepper flakes
salt & pepper
olive oil
1 tbsp of red wine vinegar

In a large skillet, heat the onion and garlic in olive oil until soft and translucent. Add in the chickpeas and tomatoes. Stir in the spinach. Add in the cumin, hot pepper, salt and pepper.  Simmer for ten minutes. Add in vinegar and serve warm.

What can I say? This chickpea dish left this chick happy (even if I had to suffer through another round of vampire games, or whatever his latest movie choice was after dinner).

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.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

all up in my grill

The end of summer is nearing. No more swim diapers or splash parks for my family. Sad, I know. Even sadder, in my opinion, we are coming to the end of summer foods. Before we know it there will be no more juicy cantaloupe chins or strawberry stained shirts. And then there is tomatoes. Thanks to my garden and my CSA, we have enjoyed so many varieties of tomatoes in so many ways this years. Well...I say we...I mean me and the kids. Not so much the carnivore. But the beauty of how our family makes meals work is that I still get to enjoy summer's finest fruit while he enjoys his favorite foods, i.e. any meat on the grill. What can I say? That man loves to grill.

Take this recipe, for example. While he heated up a steak over an open flame, he also helped me cook these grilled tomatoes. I found the idea on a great Italian blog which you should check out here. I wasn't too exact with the recipe, but this is generally what you need:

Several small tomatoes (I used romas and mr. stripeys), halved
1/2 cup or so of grated parmesan cheese
enough olive oil to coat the cheese
freshly chopped herbs (I used basil and oregano)
a dash or two of garlic powder
kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper

Start by cutting the tomatoes in half and then mixing together all the ingredients in a small bowl. Spray your grill. Then over a low heat place the tomatoes cut side down on the grill for about three minutes. Turn the tomatoes over and top with the cheese mixture. Grill for another two to three minutes. Serve warm.

Summer may be fading, but the taste of these sweet grilled tomatoes will linger in my memory for months to come.

menu ideas:
These grilled guys would make a great side dish at your next cookout. I had these as my main dish along side creamy pasta and sauteed zuchini. Like I said before, the carnivore had a steak with the same sides.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Remember when Sean Combs became Puff Daddy and then he was Puffy. Or maybe it was the other way around. And then he was P.Diddy or some craziness. It devolved from there I'm sure. I guess we have Prince to thank for all of this. I bring this up for two reasons - (1) I just heard Snoop Dogg is trying to change his name to Snoop Lion after a life changing trip to Jamaica. Not happening. He can clean up his songs and his image all he wants, but he still resembles a dobberman pincher. (2) This recipe has puff pastry and it also made me think of Puffy, or whatever his name is now.

Sorry for the the digression, but now to the food. This gorgeous dish is thanks to the over abundance of tomatoes in my house this time of year. My carnivore won't eat them unless they are in ketchup or marinara form, but he will grown them - lots of them. That combined with the numerous heirloom varieties I get in my CSA mean I have to come up with lots of ways to use tomatoes. And this dish couldn't be easier.

To make your own tomato puff you will need the following:
1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
flour for dusting
several small tomatoes
fresh goat cheese, about half a small log
5-6 fresh basil leaves
a drizzle of olive oil
fresh cracked pepper and kosher salt

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Roll out the pasty to form a long rectangle. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray and place the the dough on. Slice the tomatoes and layer them on the pastry. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with goat cheese crumbles. Bake for 15-20 minutes until pastry puff and gets golden brown. Once ready, chiffonade the basil leaves and put on top. Slice and serve warm.

This dish is sinfully good and simply stunning. It is my favorite puffy of any kind, whatever you call it.

menu ideas:
This would make a beautiful starter at a dinner party. I had this as my main course along side sauteed green beans and buttered brown rice. The carnivore had grilled chicken with the same sides.

Monday, June 18, 2012

substitute teacher

Remember when you were in school and you came to class only to find a substitute teacher. This meant generally one of two things, depending on the substitute. Either the push over substitute showed up and you were going to get away with playing poker til the bell rang or the strict one was there and you were going to be filling out several worksheets your teacher left behind. I recall one substitute to this day who fell into the later category. He was an impeccably dressed African-American man with a shaved head. He looked like he spent his time outside of the classroom in the gym bench pressing freshmen boys. We called him Mr. Q and did anything he said. We were better behaved when he was in the class than when our regular teacher was there. 

I say all this to point out that no matter what the circumstances, the substitute is never the same as the real thing. This is also true for meat substitutes. A veggie burger can be amazing, but it doesn't taste like a real one. They will never make fake bacon that is just like real pork. However, this isn't always a bad thing. For example, when I am making my carnivore a steak dinner I have to find something to substitute in its place on my plate (even if we share the same sides). Recently, I found a replacement that was outstanding - just like Mr. Q. 

These overstuffed mushroom caps were filling and spicy. I ran across the Pioneer Woman's recipe on pinterest and you can find it here. They were creamy and meaty all at once. Who needs a steak? Okay, some people do...and if you are one of them (like my carnivore) that's fine. I realize these are only a substitute for you meat eaters, but sometimes, that's a good thing.

P.S. These would make an amazing appetizer at you next party.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

peas and thank you

I like to get my family to eat their green veggies and like them too. I realize this sounds near impossible in many households, but especially if you live with a carnivore like mine. With the recipe I am gonna share with you today not only did that happen, but I got the ever allsuive "thank you for dinner" after it was all said and done. And did I mention there are two green veggies in this dish? My secret - a simple creamy alfredo sauce.

 To make your own gather the following:
1 chicken breast
1 portabella mushroom
2 tblsp of olive oil
salt & pepper
garlic powder
cheese and spinach tortellini
1/2 cup of butter
3/4 cup of heavy cream
1/2 cup of grated parmesan
1 can of English peas, drained

Heat up 1 tblsp of oil in two different pans. Season the chicken and the mushroom with the salt, pepper and garlic powder. Heat the chicken in one pan over medium heat until the juices run clear. Heat the mushroom in the other pan until soft. At the same time, boil the pasta about ten minutes. Meanwhile, combine the butter, cream and parmesan in a small sauce pot. Add in salt and pepper to taste. Stir occasionally. Turn the chicken and mushroom as needed. When the pasta is done, drain and toss with creamy sauce. Add in peas and toss again. Dish out generous portions into in large bowls. Tops with chicken or mushrooms (or both).

Then watch your green veggie averse family gobble it up. You might even get a "Can I have some more please?" No need to thank me.

Friday, May 25, 2012

thigh master

There are a few drawbacks to living in a mixed diet family - the time and thought that has to go into meals, the occasional making an extra dish so one of us his a main course that makes them happy, etc. But, when I think about it these issues are probably things every household encounters really.

Of course, there is also the fact that I, the main cook in the house, can't taste test my carnivore's food. I am no master chef by any stretch of the imagination - far from it. Over the years, after some lets say less than enthusiastic responses from my hubby, I have learned one general rule of thumb to pleasing his palate - buy good meat and don't mess with it too much. This seems to work every time.

That's how I knew when I saw this recipe on Everybody Likes Sandwiches (taken from Bon Appetit) that it would be a hit. It is so simple and I can get really good organic thighs from Whole Foods. Plus, it cooks in just thirty-five minutes - which leaves me plenty of time to make my own main course.

Gather the following:
1 Tblsp vegetable oil
4 organic skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 475F. Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a a cast iron skillet over high heat. Add the chicken skin side down and cook for 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook for 12 more minutes skin side down, rotating and rearranging chicken to evenly distribute the heat until the fat renders and skin is golden brown. Move skillet to the oven and cook for 13 more minutes, still skin-side down. Turn over the chicken and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to a plate and let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.

How easy is that? And my carnivore raves about it every time I make it. It is nice to know I've mastered at least one meat dish.

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.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

real simple

Sometimes I look at recipes and I get a bit over-
whelmed. Too many steps, too many ingredients, too much time - with two young kids I just can't get past the pretty picture. Looks nice, but it won't be on our plates any time soon. Luckily, really simple food can be really delicious too. Take this spaghetti, for example. Just a few ingredients and yet the flavor is spectacular.

To make your own, you will need the following:
1 box of thin whole wheat spaghetti
1 lemon
1/2 cup of finely grated parmesan & more for topping (not from a green can)
2 sprigs of fresh oregano (we grow herbs in containers on our deck)
several leaves of fresh parsley (also homegrown)
2 tblsp of olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Boil the pasta for about eight minutes in salted water. Drain and return to the pot. Toss with oil, salt and pepper. Squeeze in the juice of half the lemon and toss again. Add in the parmesan and stir once more. Chop the herbs coarsely and add them in last. Serve immediately. Top more parmesan and garnish with thin slices of the rest of the lemon.

Easy, uncomplicated, and satisfying. Now that's real simple. 

menu ideas:
This dish is great as a side. It can also star as the main attraction easily. Simply add grilled chicken or sausage to the carnivore's bowl of pasta, and to the vegetarian's dish toss in olives and sundried tomatoes.

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.
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