Sunday, January 28, 2024

Glowing, Showing You the Way

Stewed Pork Tacos
I had a five pack of tiny boneless pork medallions.  I only buy meat in these cuts for convenience. They're great to have around to cut up and be used in a soup or quick fried and thaw quickly.  In this case, they were cubed for stew meat. Leftover hot sauce, chicken stock, peppers, onions and garlic was used to get this pork nice and soft and infused with all the flavor. I toasted spices in the pan beforehand for the first layer.  The corn tortillas got a shmeer of oil and toasted in the oven with a bit of cheese. The cheese allows the taco to fold very easily but also stops the tort from getting soggy.
My mind has opened up in recent years to using homespun fillings in my tacos now that I have a great formula.  Also, in that same mental space I always believed there were just two types of tacos.  The store bought, hard-shell kind your friend's mom would make for taco night and the real deal, soft tacos served to me in a styrofoam container with carne and lime from a real Mexican.  Now I see that almost everything can taste wonderful with a hug from a crisp corn tortilla.  And by the way, Duh!  How can I be so slow to realize such obvious truths?

My unwillingness to waste these giant packages of corn tortillas helped me to experiment with fillings and stop being such a traditionalist.  Tacos of course are only one use. Cutting them up and frying them for a crispy topping in soups is quick and easy.  Using them for migas or chilaquiles with egg is awesome.  One more idea is to use them raw to thicken soup.  They magically dissolve in the broth. 

I've Got To Admit It's Getting Better

Brown Butter Blondies

Eggs over toast

Several coworkers were out with various bugs and I made brown butter blondies to help them feel better.  People that love sweets are easier to please, although as usual, Brooklyn is a tough crowd.  Two people said they were dry, but not in a bad way. That might have made me mad or sad previously, but now I am much better at accepting them for who they are,   I actually loved the blondies because they weren't overly sweet and they did chew like a brownie.  The brown butter adds a touch of sophistication to these simple treats.   

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Once You Get Started

Baked Breaded Shrimp

Sometimes a simple toasted buttered white rice is heavenly and I hope I remember how I achieved this one because I find myself making it different each time.  I do however recall getting the idea to bread the shrimp and bake them in order to make them more substantial.  I did achieve a nice crunch (thanks!) while not over cooking the delicate shrimp.  I commend Mary's site for giving you the tools to create your own preparation.  She laid out the basic prep and that's all we usually need to get us off the ground.  I definitely suggest seasoning the shrimp before dipping in well-seasoned Panko crumbs.  Something happens during baking, meaning, the flavors mellow quite a bit.  To the recipe I added cayenne, Parmesan, red pepper flakes, garlic and smoked Paprika along with salt and pepper. 

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

You're Just What I Needed

Nachos get a bad rap but I've found myself turning to them for a nice light dinner when I want more than a snack but not the whole dinner fiasco.  You control the toppings and amount of, so the sky's the limit.  On this night, protein, avocado, tomatoes, cilantro, green onions and not as much cheese was enough to satiate and satisfy.  They get your stomach excited for a fun time but don't screw it up.  Of course you could add corn, roasted peppers, and beans to make them even heartier.  Or, on another type of night you might load them up with cheese, sour cream and extra salsa, refried beans.  But they are great like this, simply dressed. 

Sunday, January 21, 2024

But You Can't Tell How Hot 'Til You Try

Mock Shake n Bake Chicken
This dish is one that I've done on many occasions and never disappoints.  I've learned a few things that keep making it better.  For one, to bake the bone in thighs on a higher heat for a shorter amount of time.  425 for 25 minutes in my oven works well.  I soak them for 15 minutes in heavily salted water if there is no time to marinate in yogurt.  This keeps the meat very tender.  I dip in egg, then heavily seasoned flour and Panko crumbs.  I like smoked paprika, oregano, garlic and onion powder as well as lots of black pepper and of course plenty of salt. Adding Parmesan to that mix steps it up a notch.  
I served it with a cheesy polenta topped with spinach, mushrooms, bacon and shaved Brussels Sprouts.  
I remember when almost every recipe called for baking at 350 degrees, and for decades.  Now, more and more the heat is going up and we're roasting our potatoes and sheet pan vegetables at way higher temps.  My tiny Barbie oven doesn't do well and will often smoke up and get all fussy, so I have to be careful.  It's like trying to get your 1970's AMC Pacer to 90mph.  It's not a good idea. 

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Love is a Burning Thing

Herby Griddle Eggs

Herby Griddle Eggs - Wanting to use the same pan for the entire breakfast, I used my cast iron griddle pan for potatoes, bacon and finally herby eggs with cilantro, yogurt, salt and pepper and threw them on the hot grill.  They set instantly, so you have to act fast like you're a short order cook in a diner, with your flat spatula samurai skills.  Moving quickly to fold over once, add the cheese and then fold again.  This is a brilliant way to do a diner omelet!  And the speed of cooking works to keep everything hot and ready to serve.
Because breakfast must be served piping hot and that means every element, especially the eggs should finish cooking just as you're setting down the plate.  

Thursday, January 18, 2024

It Appears to be a Long Time

Deniz Lunch Special

Looking back at all the take out, I think January was a little tough this year.  There was not a tragedy, death or health issue and we had one of the mildest winters I can remember.  There were exciting positive things happening too but yet, it was hard to get going and feel motivated.  January is certainly the Monday of months normally so maybe it's not good to read into it too much.  With the real struggles we're witnessing people all around endure, it's selfish to dwell on these nuanced feelings.  But who am I if not someone who notices these slight distinctions?  

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Break It To Me Gently

The first snow in two years.  It barely stuck but did feel like needles on the face riding home that night.

Breakfast in bed that morning to stave off the winter blues and blahs. There is magic in buttered toast and poached eggs.  Some foods communicate love to your stomach in the language it can understand. Sometimes you need to break a few eggs to get your stomach out of the house.   

Thursday, January 11, 2024

I'm Giving You the Best That I Got

Pizza Slice dinner
I was feeling ill but did manage to make a nice split pea soup with the leftover ham bone for lunch earlier. Unfortunately, I had no such energy for dinner, thus the pizza slices.

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

The Battle of Evermore

Pineapple Salsa
I must have eaten from Freddy's Taco truck at least 6 times this month.  To feel less guilty, I prepared a homemade element to fortify the meals, like this pineapple salsa. My body was fighting a bug in this new familiar way that takes it down hard in the eyes, the throat, energy and muscle aches.  In other words, when I fight a flu bug or cold now (post COVID times), my body goes into overdrive when defending itself almost to the extreme and that brings on old symptoms, like shortness of breath, muscle spasms and eye pain.  The great thing is that I usually don't get the actual bug but instead exhaust my body fighting it off.  This makes me wonder if the amount of SARS virus that stays in your system continues to fight for dominance over other incoming diseases.  Or perhaps your body defense system experiences a PTSD type of trauma when faced with an invasion. 

Saturday, January 6, 2024

You're the Bone Machine

Southwest Turkey Soup
Basically, this is a lazy girl's Tortilla Soup, made with leftover Christmas turkey bird and the extra vegetables I needed to use up.  In a way, it's better than chicken because the flavors complement each other so well.  It's best to make your own chips but store bought with a broth this good, is more than okay.
Boiling the carcass to get all the rich broth and extra meat off the bones takes no effort.  Throw it in a large pot with cold water and then all the ugly bits you did not use, like the celery base, carrot bottoms and tops, a whole garlic bulb, onion, peppercorns and bay leaves.  Leave it simmer until all the flavors have released, then drain for an awesome broth base.  Bring the stock back to a boil and add corn, red potatoes, shredded turkey, cilantro and/or dill, a can of diced tomatoes, jalapeno, onion, carrot, a squeeze of lime and top with cheese, sour cream and corn chips.  If you had zucchini that would be great in this.  Also adding a little rice is nice.