Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Not trying for an easy way out

Um, so, I really need to be in bed (super tired and have slept quite poorly the past few days), but after working on a paper due first thing in the morning - I need to relax and calm down before sleep is even a possibility. I'm saying all this to apologize for any hiccups in writing this post.

I wanted to make something easy that the girls would like. Don't mistaken this for thinking I had an easy day. I wouldn't call cleaning hardwood floors on my hands and knees, whilst my bum still hurts from Saturday, fun. I also wouldn't call running around cleaning the bathroom, clearing some counter top and table top clutter, washing dishes enjoyable either. I had so much to do and such little time on my hands. All I had in the refrigerator that was already cooked was curry, and the girls have been protesting the consumption of that.

Well, both girls like tofu (especially baked tofu, but I don't have any of that on hand) and both love pasta. So, I decided to make a dish involving both. But, I wanted it to be something I could appreciate. Blandness was not an option.

Perhaps I went for some sort of Asian fusion. I'm not sure why fusion sort of dishes are popular in chef circles, because sometimes I think it ends up being, well, not true to any culture. I think of the "Chinese restaurants" I've been too, and most of them don't serve authentic Chinese food. A lot of people I know believe authentic Chinese food can be sweet and sour. Blah, blah, blah. Anyways, everything I put into the dish is Asian, except the swirly pasta.


I'm so tired, I can't write much longer and I have no ideas for any titles. If you have any suggestions let me know.

  • pasta
  • 2 packages of tofu
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • sesame oil
  • sea salt
  • soy sauce

I cooked the pasta separately. In a pan, I caramelized the red onion (I didn't use any sugar). Then dropped in the tofu and the cooked pasta (cooked al dente). Followed by some sesame oil, sea salt and a bit of soy sauce (careful with the soy sauce on 2 counts - making the dish too dark and too salty).

The smell of the sesame oil was intoxicating; smelled so very good.


Oh, and in the flurry hurry I was in today, I accidentally slammed the door on my middle right finger. OUCH!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Strawberries, oh how I love you

Warning: no recipes will be provided in this post. This is the blog where I spend the most space talking about food, so I wanted to carry on about my favorite fruit. Now that I have that off my chest, here we go.


Our entire family loves, loves, loves strawberries. Strawberries have been my favorite since a young child. I remember my dad growing strawberries, and figuring out how to guard them in such a way that other critters didn't steal them first was always a magical feat difficult to accomplish.

Since having my own family, we've somehow, for the most part, saved these sweet temptations for our children. Finding acceptable strawberries at stores has been nearly impossible. In my experience, store purchased strawberries are usually unacceptable on one of two (or both) grounds. One, they aren't really sweet (they appear red on the outside, but they're still pretty white on the inside). Two, they have a chemical residue taste to them, even after washing. Guess those pesticides want to stay.

But, I've found one place that sells mouthwatering, sweet, delectable strawberries. I try to buy them only when in season. Sunflower Farmer's Market, I love you.

Look at these babies. Who can resist?

Certainly not me. I mean look at them! Two and a quarter for each of the girls and two and a half for me.

Red all the way to the heart of the strawberry. So, so, drippingly (I'm making up my own word here) sah-weet.

Here's an experiment for you to try: compare and contrast store purchased strawberries that are white towards the center and ones that are red all the way to the center. What's the difference in taste? Report back when the assignment is completed.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hot and Sour Soup becomes Porridge


Lily's Hot and Sour Soup Porridge

I am an avid soup fan, but not of the sort, like salads, that leave me hungry moments after consumption. Soups of the sort that function as meals, now that is a charmer. I also have a more sensitive stomach. I haven't been diagnosed with IBS or anything like that, but oftentimes heating leftovers in the microwave is insufficient for my temperamental stomach. The old fashion way is gentler - the stove. Combine that with one of my favorite starches: riceeeeeee. I love you, rice.

Cooked the rice by rice cooker and then dumped the aforementioned (cooked) rice into a pot.

Added hot and sour soup I had cooked previously. For a recipe of my infamous soup, go here.

In my mind, pure deliciousness. But it was missing a teeny little something. The processed, artificial, complete with preservatives ingredients that turns my healthy food into badness.

Preserved vegetables. But it adds a little something to the tasty food. . .

Curry - moving away from paste and doing the real stuff


Potato Curry

I had been using curry paste to make my curry dishes, which looked something like this, but I decided I need to step away from that and find my own way and my own creation.

Felt, actually, smelled, quite nice. Initially. Then I decided it wasn't really all that spicy. Even with 3-4 tbs of the curry powder. Then what's below, the cayenne pepper, did me in - including all the confidence I had in this dish:

But, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let be back up.

Here's my recipe, which shall receive tweaking in the future. . .

  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, diced (but, I love, love, love garlic)
  • 4-5 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • sea salt
  • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper (in hind sight, should have been at most 1 tsp)
  • 12-14 red potatoes, cut into squares
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into slivers and then halfed
  • milk, whole and 1 1/2%

I cooked the potatoes on their own. When tender, they're ready; set them aside. In a pan, I caramelized the red onion, without adding any brown sugar; I used some olive oil and on low heat cooked them until they were golden. Then I added the garlic and red bell peppers and let the red bell peppers cook for a few minutes. After that, I added the potatoes to the mixture and added enough milk to barely cover everything. I used a combination of whole milk and 1 1/2% milk. I used a local dairy company that delivers milk right up to my front stoop (and it's merely 24-48 hours from cow to door step) and they carry something that is right between 1% and 2% milk. In go the spices. First I added the curry.

Since it is a curry dish, I thought that ought to be the first to spread its wings onto the food.

Next, some ground cumin.

Into the mix it went.

Then I added sea salt, but I have no pictures to show. Mix well and let simmer (allowing the spices to soak into everything).

My upstairs smelled like the exquisite scent of an Indian restaurant, and all seemed well. I tried the dish (this was before the cayenne pepper), and it didn't seem all that spicy. So, I splurged a bit on cayenne pepper, 1 tbsp worth, and didn't think it was that big a deal. . . until I tasted it. Innocence at first, and then I was on fire. Not just my tongue, my whole face had been assaulted.

Alright, alright, do keep in mind, I am not one of those persons who is highly tolerant of spicy foods. I appreciate spiciness, but I'm not one of those die-hard put hot sauce on everything sort of gals. In vain attempt to fix the problem, I kept skimming the red parts of the soup furiously off the top, hoping, hoping I could temper it somewhat. Even added more milk (note: milk, over anything water based is good for tempering spicy-hot stuff). I threw my arms up (not literally), gave up, and felt like a failure (literally).


My husband came home and had some of my new creation, not over a bed of rice but with flour tortillas, and he said he preferred this versions to what I made in the past. That was definitely news to me, especially after the cayenne pepper attack.

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Better Guacamole Recipe, one to KEEP

I made guacamole less than a week ago. It was a hit. My husband discovered that it was not only good in tacos or tasty with tortilla chips, but he added it to his breakfast fare (breakfast sausage stir-fried with eggs, with shredded cheese on top, lately, served on top of flour tortillas). He was sad when the guacamole was gone.

So, I made it again today. Even better. Oh my goodness, to die for. We each had three flour tortillas filled with the chicken breast, red onion, and red peppers stir fry, shredded cheese, and guacamole on top. Had to restrain ourselves from having more. Better of the two versions of guacamole. I'm not sure why it tasted so different to me. Only one ingredient was different this time. I used 1 fresh serrano chile, in place of the cayenne pepper. Oh, and the proportions or amount of some of the ingredients were different. The red onion half I used had also sat in the refrigerator since the last time I made guacamole. Here's what I did today:
  • 2 Haas avocados - halfed, seeded, & peeled
  • 1 lemon - juiced
  • 1/2 tsp kosher fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 fresh serrano chile minced (stem and seeds discarded)
  • 1/2 red onion - diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic - minced
  • 2 cluster tomatoes - diced
  • part of a red pepper

Let the peeled, seeded avocados bathe or bask in the lemon juice (I really must not let the seeds accidentally fall onto the avocados). Then pour some of the lemon juice into a small bowl and set it aside. Add the sea salt, cumin, and serrano chile; and crush the avocados with a potato masher (if the avocados are quite ripe, not much mashing is necessary). Pour the lemon juice back into the mixture, and fold in the garlic, onion, red pepper, and tomatoes. Let the guacamole sit at room temperature of an hour and it's ready to serve.


So good, so good, so good. I predict that the guacamole will be gone before the end of the night.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Chicken Tacos with Freshly Made Guacamole

Chicken Tacos with Freshly Made Guacamole

After my photo essay on the guacamole I made today, the photographs I'm offering on the dinner I made for my family sparse by comparison. Some of the ingredients are not pictured below, such as the chicken breast or olive oil or sea salt.


Served this delicious food on flour tortillas. Along with some salsa and some shredded cheese.

My husband felt like it was the best tasting guacamole he's ever had. Also? When we had tacos, he helped himself to two huge tacos (much more filling than what you see in the top picture). Then he had seconds. Had a third helping. Going back for fourths crossed his mind, but he stopped. Guess it was a good meal.



I got a lot of my inspiration for this recipe from the food network, go here for the original recipe or where my recipe differs.

  • 4 Hass avocados - halfed, seeded, & peeled
  • 1 lemon - juiced
  • 1/2 tsp kosher fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 red onion - diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic - minced
  • 4 cluster tomatoes - diced
  • part of a red pepper

Let the peeled, seeded avocados bathe or bask in the lemon juice (I wasn't smart enough to take the seeds out ahead of time and had to fish them out as I was juicing the avocados). Then pour some of the lemon juice into a small bowl and set it aside. Crush the avocados with a potato masher and add the sea salt, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Fold in the garlic, onion, red pepper, and tomatoes; and pour the lemon juice back into the mixture. Let the guacamole sit at room temperature of an hour and it's ready to serve.

* * * * * *

Recently, I ran across Ree Drummond's blog, and I've taken quite a shining to her method of sharing recipes. She includes loads of pictures, from the ingredients to the process of making whatever; it's almost like watching a video.

So, here goes the unabridged version of the guacamole I made today:


4 ripe Haas avocados

I used four slivers of this lovely red pepper. So, this, too, is needed:

A lemon for it's tangy juice is needed. Unfortunately, my lemon had been sitting on the counter so long that the skin was very tired (translate: withered, hard, and dry).

Sea salt. Love me some sea salt.

Cumin. Good for so many tasty dishes. Yeah, uh huh.

Cayenne pepper. I didn't start using this ingredient in my cooking until more recently. Fire-y little thing.

Garlic. I love, love, love garlic; I thought instead of one clove, two cloves would be better.

Red onions (as opposed to other types of onions - white, sweet, yellow) have been my latest thing. Half of one of these babies.

Cluster tomatoes. They were on sale, and the advertisement boasted "red when picked." Who can beat that? I don't grow my own tomatoes; so that's not an option at this point.

The process, the making of the guacamole:

First, I cut up some red bell peppers like so:

But then I wanted it diced, so I cut it into even smaller pieces:

Diced up half a red onion. Why is it called a red onion when it looks purple?

Quick and easy way to mince garlic. A garlic press. I love Pampered Chef's garlic press (disclaimer: I am not being paid cash or given prizes to endorse their product).

Diced tomatoes. Looks somewhat similar to the diced red bell peppers, eh?

These wonderful avocados were ripe enough to slide the seed out and use my fingers to peel the skin off without any difficulty.

Then I halfed the lemon and squeezed the juice over the avocados. Flipped them over and juiced them some more. Like I said, I wasn't clever enough to remove the seeds from the lemon before squeezing; so I had to go seed fishing.

After the avocados bathed in the lemon juice, I poured a fair amount of the it into another (smaller) bowl and set the bowl of lemon juice aside.

May the mashing of the avocados commence. Thank you for help, Potato Peeler.


Mash, mash.

Mash, mash, mush.

Forgot to add the condiments before I started mashing.

The sea salt.

The cumin.

Cayenne pepper. If you look closely, I had already added it, before I took a photograph. So, this spoonful of cayenne is just for looksies.

Ah, the red peppers, tomatoes, garlic, and onions.

The process of folding in the peppers, tomatoes, garlic, and onion.

The aforementioned four added ingredients fully folded inwards.

A bit of mixing help from my younger child.

And then it sat for an hour on the counter top.