Bold Flavors, Soft Tacos

It always pays to have a plan. My goal? Make sure the kids eat vegetables intentionally or not, and bribe my son's friend who is staying with us through food. So I set my plan in motion weeks ago asking for a list of his faves. I got back a string of ingredients and a nod toward junk food. Ingredient suggestions in hand I planned the menu for the week. I don't always make a menu, but when I do, food production feels less like a chore. (Admittedly grocery shopping Sunday night wasn't all that…except for the company 🙂

Tonight – crowd pleasing soft tacos! I can't tell you exactly what was said, enough to say there were no leftovers.

Mea culpa. I bought a taco seasoning pouch. Confession. I was too paranoid to use it. Two ingredients I didn't recognize and we were already fighting a potential allergy in the house.

As an alternative, I offer this super simple any night of the week supper.

Ingredients

1 1/4 lbs lean ground beef, or turkey

1/2 large onion chopped

1 teaspoon Veg oil

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

Sprinkle cayenne

1 tablespoon cornmeal

10 oz. can tomatoes with chiles, mild

Salt

Pepper

Soften chopped onion in oil in large skillet. Salt & pepper. Add ground beef, cooking the pink out of it and breaking up chunks. Season with chili powder, cumin, cayenne. Stir 1-2 minutes. Add cornmeal and mix. Add tomatoes & chiles. Cook 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

The fixins: shredded cheese, salsa, lettuce, pickled jalapeños, whole whet tortillas (cover stack with damp paper towel and zap 30-45 seconds in microwave)

Make it your own with your best toppings – guacamole? Sour cream?

Enjoy – B

 

Brownie “Homework”

It's still winter…excuse number one.

Contractors have finally started to bandaid the damage from my girl Sandy (as in hurricane) and the dog has been vocally enjoying their company. That, combined with whatever they're doing on the roof- Excuse number two.

As for number three…ladies, need I be specific?!

And that's why today is brownie day. KingArthurFlour.com has one of my favorite all time brownie recipes. It is ridiculously easy. Seriously, skip the box since this takes about the same time, tastes a heck of a lot better and uses REAL butter.

I hope the rest of the pan makes it until after school, but considering excuse number three…

A cautionary note: Don't over bake! Good hot or cold. Enjoy-B

 

No Hassle Hasslebacks

 

Hey there, I'll keep it short and sweet. These potatoes are called Hasselback after their origination in a Swedish hotel.

You can get more elaborate, but olive oil, salt and russets are perfect just like this. Part of our roast chicken Sunday night dinner…and not a potato was left over.

Peel and cut potatoes in half lengthwise. Use chopsticks to avoid cutting through the potatoes when you're making the “fans”.

I roasted in a 375 convection oven.

More delicious crunch per bite – B

Btw – There's a difference between potatoes & fries…potatoes are good for you, even better with the skin.

 

It’s A Wrap Chicken

I wanted to make my guy a romantic dinner for two. Turns out it was more like twelve, what with the pile of kids in the basement for movie night (thank you Trader Joe's frozen pizza!), but we try.

Anyway I've been thinking about making this chicken for a bit. I can't exactly tell you what the taste testers said, but it was a compliment, starting with a g-rated version of an expletive and ending with “good”. I can tell you it wasn't love that made the dish so tasty – it was fat.

This recipe is something of a preview, so please forgive the relative directions. It was too tasty not to share. You will need toothpicks or twine to hold these chicken rolls of goodness together.

3 chicken filets, about 1 1/2 pounds

3 slices prosciutto

2 ounces gruyere or other sharp cheese grated, divided in thirds

6 asparagus (9 if small), peeled if woody

1 shallot, chopped

1 pint cherry tomatoes

1/2 leftover white wine (i know what you're thinking and yes, even I sometimes have leftover wine)

2/3 cup chicken stock

Some thyme, and some time

2-3 tablespoons butter divided

1 tablespoons olive oil

Salt

Pepper

Preheat oven to 375. Pound the chicken into cutlets between 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Layer proscuitto, sprinkle cheese, top with 2-3 asparagus. Roll tightly and secure with toothpicks or twine. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat large oven proof skillet on stove, add olive oil and half the butter. Sear the pretty side of the chicken. Flip when brown, then put in oven for 20 minutes (check temp to make sure it's cooked through).

Remove chicken and cover with foil. Add shallots and thyme to pan over medium heat. Sprinkle a little salt. Cook 2-3 minutes until soft. Add wine and reduce to almost syrup. Add cherry tomatoes, cooking at least 5 minutes until they've popped. Pour in chicken stock, bring to boil. Turn off, swirl in butter. Adjust seasonings.

Slice chicken, serve with sauce over rice.

You will not regret this – B

 

Unemployment Pasta

Here's what happens when lifestyle radio hosts have no radio job – they cook…I mean, I cook.

Here's the beauty of this pasta. It's cheap, it's easy, and you can make it in the middle of the day. Also meat free, fiber rich, heart healthy and vitamin C centric. Mostly this pasta with sugar snap peas and feta tastes darn good and is assembled in about 15 minutes.

Ingredients:

No more than 8 ounces of pasta (that's only 1/2 bag!)

1 bag sugar snap peas, strings removed from spine if tough

1 shallot, 2 if small, or another onion like veg chopped fine

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt

Pepper if desired

1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

**fresh herbs would probably be a great addition if you have them, mint in particular

Get salted pasta water started. When you add pasta to the water, heat large skillet on medium heat. Add olive oil to the pan. When it's hot, add shallot and a sprinkle of salt, cook 2-3 minutes, but dont let it burn. stir and/or lower heat if necessary. Add sugar snap peas. Toss for a minute or two, then add 1/4 cup of water from pasta pot. Slap a lid on it for 3-5 minutes, depending on desired tenderness. Save 1/2 cup more of pasta water. Drain pasta and add to skillet. Add enough pasta water to make “sauce”. Combine feta.

Serve, eat, enjoy the privilege of the under employed – B

*Note: you need not have a change in job status to make this pasta.It is an equal opportunity recipe that has a wide variety of socio-economic appeal.

 

Chicken Kabobs

About a million years ago, when I was a whole different person who cooked a lot less but loved to eat, I met my best friend in Turkey. Back then we specialized in confounding parents and traveling as far away as possible. I can't remember why we even picked Turkey except neither of us had been and that was probably as good a reason as any.

What we discovered of course had been experienced for millennia by other travelers. After the sites and history and unbelievable scenery, this was a land of great food! Spices and dried fruit, coffee strong enough to support a Popsicle stick, and apple tea offered as a courtesy in every store. East and west were represented equally (I distinctly remember a phenomenal Chinese dinner in a hotel restaurant!)

But what impressed us most, in every city we explored, was the deliciousness of the chicken kabobs (ok, I'll admit the wide variety of spellings,”kebop” for example, also made us laugh daily. I told you – provincial.) We ate it right up to departure day, digging into the chicken and rice pilaf without utensils on the drive to the airport. I believe we may have been that restaurants's first take away experience!

Nothing tickles the fancy as much as meat on a stick, which is what my kids call it. Seasoning is based on taste – Asian flavors, Middle East, BBQ. Do what you like. In this version, I offer a mashup, but if you want to try it, marinating in yoghurt makes the chicken really tender, plus it's self basting, making the flavors stick like glue.

Ingredients:

1 pound skinless boneless chicken in bite sized pieces – I use thighs for insurance against over-cooking and extra flavor

Small container plain Greek yoghurt

3 cloves garlic minced or smashed through a press

3 scallions chopped

1/4 teaspoon salt

A healthy amount of pepper

Veggie oil for the pan

Mix everything but the oil and let those bad boys marinate all day, or at least a few hours. Even 20 minutes on the counter! Soak 4 sticks for 15 minutes in water. Preheat oven to 375. Thread 5-6 pieces of chicken on each stick. I cheated my way around the grilling (February, pouring). Heat a large oven proof skillet on stove. Coat bottom with oil. Add chicken. When brown, flip and put in oven. Should cook within 20. Throw on the broiler for extra color.

In season, it's great on the grill, but yoghurt can make it stick so make sure the grill is super seasoned.

A squeeze of fresh lemon would have been good, but I was out. Anyway, my daughter told me I always say that.

Sorry for the nostalgic story, enjoy the chicken – B

 

Kale Caesar-ish

Love love love Caesar salad! It's something about the tart and the rich and the salty goodness. I make a version in my mini food processor, mostly to disguise the anchovy so I don't get feedback.

I apologize for the ballpark recipe. I've never measured this one (Caesar recipes are so personal!). Plus I'm lazy. Also, I don't use the raw egg, but you can if you want. Or toss the whole salad with a little finely grated hard boiled egg.

1 anchovy (from oil, or rinse the salted kind)

1 garlic clove

Juice of one lemon

A tablespoon or so of white vinegar

Teaspoon-ish Dijon mustard

A couple tablespoons grated Italian cheese

Dash of Worcester if you have it and remember

Olive oil

Salt

Pepper

Blend garlic, then add everything but the olive oil. Whiz. Add enough oil to double the volume. Whiz again, add salt & pepper. Adjust oil and seasonings to taste. Toss with kale or another hardy green.

Add croutons and more cheese. Or pile on crostini – EZ app!

Enjoy-B