Category Archives: Entrees

Cheesy Peasy Couscous

Today was just one of those days.  One of those days when you feel a headache starting off as soon as you wake up, when class seems to take twice as long as normal, when the erratic driver in front of you on the drive home makes you want to cry rather than laugh, when you come home needing a simple and quick comfort food.

Just one of those days.

I needed the ultimate comfort food–one that contains the dairy trifecta: milk, cheese, and butter.  And because dairy does not equal “unhealthy”, you can use all three of those in some delicious moderation and eat comfort food that can still make you feel good.  ‘Cause on days like these, guilt is the last thing you need on your plate.

Cheesy Peasy Couscous (Printable Recipe Card)

  • 1 T butter
  • 1 1/2 C broth (I used one chicken bouillon cube and 1 1/2 C water)
  • 1 C frozen peas, defrosted and drained
  • 1 1/2 C dry couscous
  • 2 T whole-wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 C skim milk
  • 1/2 C Gruyère cheese (or other cheese)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 t smoked paprika

Preheat the broiler.  Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the peas and the broth (or bouillon and water). 

Bring the whole mixture to a boil and take off the heat.  Pour in the dried couscous and cover with a lid or plate, and let it sit for fifteen minutes until it absorbs all the broth and gets nice and fluffy.  Place the couscous into a casserole dish and get ready for the cheesy magic.

While you are waiting, make the cheese sauce.  In a saucepan over medium heat, stir together the flour, milk, and cheese until a nice, smooth, thick sauce forms–it should only take a few minutes.  Pour the sauce over the couscous mixture and mix it in.

Lookin’ good!  Add a bit of salt and shake the smoked paprika over the top.  Smooth the mixture out, and place under the broiler until a nice golden brown crust forms, about 5-10 minutes.

That’s it!  Salt and pepper your serving to taste and eat right away.  It’s kind of like a cross between mac and cheese and a casserole.  I bet this would be even better with pearled couscous, ’cause it’d be even closer in texture to standard macaroni. 

Fritz walked in as I was taking pictures of the finished product, and he was super excited to see this–he grew up with a lot more casserole-type dishes than I did, and he loves seein’ them come out of the oven.  Spoon it all into a big dish, and let that comfort just roll over ya.

It’s okay if you want to add a little extra smoked paprika.  I’m going to need to join Smoked Paprika Anonymous if things keep heading in this direction.

I also did a little work in the garden a few days ago and harvested a bunch of lavender.  Since it seemed like a waste to hang them up to dry in the closet (far away from my eyes and nose), I put a few stems each into a bunch of glass jars and let them dry as a centerpiece for the table.  They looked beautiful, smelled great, and only took a few days to dry.  Now I just have to figure out what I want to make with them–lavender eye pillows? Lavender salt?  Lavender ice cream? 

So many ideas, so little time!

Have you ever made anything with dried lavender?  Any ideas for me?

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Rotini with Sausage and Escarole

Wow.  It is finally Thursday night.

I have a busy day planned tomorrow (mostly errands, laundry, gym, and studying), but for tonight–it feels so good to be done with one more week of this summer session.  It has been very rough going to the same three classes all week for waaay too many hours at a time.  This weekend is going to go by too fast.  I’m already dreading going back.

Exciting stuff happened in CSA box number 3–see for yourself:

We had just run out of onions, so it was perfect timing.  Fritz also hates cilantro with a burning passion, but I see a lot of salsa and other Mexican delights for myself in the near future.

It was also my first time having escarole.  I took one bite fresh out of the box and spit it out–so bitter!  Though some people eat it uncooked in salads, I will not be that type of person.  Cooked, on the other hand, it was fine–and this pasta dish I found online turned out so much better than I expected!

Rotini with Sausage and Escarole  (original recipe here; serves 6-8)

  • 1 box whole-wheat pasta (mine was 14 oz)
  • 1 t olive oil
  • 2 onions, or one onion and the green tops in my case, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 lb sweet Italian sausage
  • big bunch escarole, torn into small pieces (about 6 C)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • parmesan cheese to garnish
  • red pepper flakes to taste

Cook the whole-wheat pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside, reserving 1 C of the cooking water.

Meanwhile, saute the onions, bell pepper, and garlic in the olive oil until soft, about five minutes.  Remove the casings from the sausage and add, breaking apart and cooking through until crumbly.

Combine the sausage mixture with the pasta in a large pan, adding the escarole and reserved cooking water.  Cover for a minute or two until the escarole begins to wilt, then stir it into the noodles and continue to cook until the escarole is tender.

Season with salt and pepper to taste, then top with parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes.

Fritz and I both LOVED this pasta dish.  I definitely wasn’t expecting it to turn into a crowd favorite, since I just quickly grabbed the recipe off the internet and tossed it together.  But it was seriously good.  Flavorful and super-satisfying (but still packed with my CSA veggies!).

Fritz called this “a gourmet Hamburger Helper, but better”, which you can only realize is a compliment when it’s taken into consideration that Fritz would eat only HH every day for the rest of his life, scorning all fruits and vegetables and eventually dying from scurvy and/or malnutrition.

I consider it the highest of all compliments, really.

Fritz’s parents are coming to visit this weekend for Father’s day, and I’m so excited to see them!  I keep thinking up elaborate meals to make, and then realizing it’ll be more fun to just grill and hang out and not spend all of our time around a hot oven in our small kitchen.  Have a good night!

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Green Apple Chicken Salad Sandwiches

I forgot all about this recipe until very recently.  It’s nothing too exciting; in fact, it’s the perfect example of “you can’t go wrong with the classics” and “less is more”.

My love for chicken salad sandwiches started when I was in middle school–there was a small cafe that opened in my hometown within walking distance of campus.  My friend Meghan actually worked there for a while, and we used to absolutely rave about their chicken salad, which were best when served on toasted bagels.  The best part about the salad was that it was studded with pieces of tangy and sweet green apple.

I’ve adapted this recipe over the years, and yesterday’s version was by far the best.  And that was a happy accident.

Fritz grilled some chicken for us yesterday, and we had three breasts all frozen together.  I told him to defrost all three, grill one, and I’d use two of them the next day for chicken salad.  He thought I meant he should grill all three of them, and when he coated them in a thin layer of BBQ sauce, I thought the resulting chicken salad might be a little too weird.

Wrong.

It was so good!  The smoky BBQ sauce was only a pretty thin layer on the chicken, and it actually worked perfectly for this recipe–you could hardly taste it, but what you could was a perfect addition to the basic chicken salad taste.

Green Apple Chicken Salad Sandwiches (this makes enough for four hearty sandwiches, but you could easily multiply this recipe!)

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1-2 T of your favorite BBQ sauce (we used a mesquite flavor)
  • 1/2 tart green apple (such as Granny Smith)
  • 1/3-1/4 C mayonnaise
  • salt and pepper to taste

It doesn’t take a genius to make most recipes–this one included.

Grill the chicken over high heat, coating once with a thin layer of BBQ sauce.  If you a BBQ sauce lover, then you can add more, but I really would suggest going light.  You want to taste the actual chicken in this salad.

Once it’s cooled (I usually use leftover chicken, so this is an even easier summer recipe), cut into small chunks–about 1/2″ big or a tad bit smaller.  Dice the apple (I like the apple pieces to be about the same size as the chicken, but you can go smaller if you want less crunch and more homogeneity in every bite) and mix.

Stir in the mayonnaise, going a spoonful at a time.  I normally hate mayonnaise, but this recipe really does it for me.  As long as I wash my hands 100 times after eating it (is there anything worse than the smell of mayonnaise on your hands?).  However, the last thing you want to do is add too much mayonnaise, ’cause you can’t take it back.

Season with salt and pepper–we actually didn’t have to add any to this particular recipe, but sometimes I add a generous sprinkle of black pepper and a small amount of salt; it does depend on how salty your mayonnaise is, though!

Serve on toasted sesame buns, or bagels, or even plain white bread.

To each his own, you know.  Although I personally feel the bread needs to be toasted for appropriate enjoyment.

Fritz said this was the best version of this recipe I’ve made, and I credit the BBQ sauce incident.  Well done, Fritz.

I also made this salad for some friends of ours lately, and they also liked it.  It’s perfect for a hot summer day (hello heat wave this week!) when you can’t even contemplate turning on the oven, or if you have some leftover chicken you need to use up.

I also make a turkey/cranberry version after Thanksgiving.  Instead of apples, sometimes I use green grapes.  Try anything!

We served it with edamame.  Isn’t it so fun to eat edamame out of the pods?  Sometimes I buy it already shelled, and it’s just not as satisfying.  Too bad, ’cause it’s more expensive in the pods.

We pick up our CSA box in a few hours!  I can’t wait–looks like I can expect to see red boston lettuce, a lettuce mix, arugala, baby spinach, garlic scrapes, swiss chard, and red beets.  Heavy on the lettuce, but that’s expected this early in the season, and perfect since I’ve been having a green monster every morning and going through spinach super fast!

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Refrigerator Review: Spinach and Pasta Frittata

When a woman leaves her husband alone in their apartment for a week while she goes to visit her parents, several things will appear to be true upon her return:

  1. The kitchen table, counter, and stove top will have clearly not been wiped down since she left;
  2. Her cat will have apparently contracted some kind of UTI or bladder issue, and will now be lingering piteously around the cat box;
  3. The vet bill for said cat will cost $192; and
  4. The refrigerator will be full of half-finished man foods that need to be used ASAP or they will go terribly, terribly bad.

Despite ridiculous vet bills (wish I could just give him some cranberry juice and leave it at that) and leftovers I’m not sure what to do with (a lot of cooked spaghetti, 1/2 lb of uncooked ground turkey, and wilty spinach), it’s really nice to be home.  So when the opportunity came to cook Fritz a nice meal while impressing him with my ability to turn what he calls “an empty fridge” into something delicious, I jumped on it.  I want to be a leftover magician.

Hello, frittata.

Spinach and Pasta Frittata

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 T butter
  • 1/2 lb ground turkey (you could also use chicken, beef, sausage, whatever)
  • 1/2 t smoked paprika (alright, I’m obsessed)
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2 handfuls spinach (1/2 C cooked spinach)
  • 1/2 lb-3/4 lb cooked whole-wheat spaghetti
  • 5-7 eggs, depending on how much pasta you have
  • 1/3 C skim milk
  • 1/2 C grated cheddar cheese

I didn’t take an “ingredients shot” this time, because, let’s be honest–it’s really difficult to make a pile of leftovers look appealing.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Melt the butter in an oven-safe pan (we are gonna cook the entire frittata in this pan) over medium heat and saute the onion until soft and translucent.  Add the ground turkey and cook thoroughly, then flavor it with the salt and paprika.

Next, toss in two handfuls of spinach and stir in until they are wilted.  Add the spaghetti on top, and combine.

Crack the eggs into a separate bowl, and add the milk and cheese.

Whisk until light, and pour over the top of the spaghetti mixture.

Bake in the oven on the medium rack until the eggs no longer look runny, and the edges are brown and crispy, about fifteen minutes.  I also turned on the broiler for the last few minutes to get a nice, browned top–it’s always nice to have a little crunch!

This came out really nicely.  The best thing about a frittata like this is that you can literally make it however you want–add different vegetables, meat, spices, sauces, whatever!  It’s perfect for a leftovers dinner or even a leftovers breakfast.

The smoked paprika also gave it a nice smoky flavor that I now want to eat in everything.  I’m obsessed.  I can’t stop.

Fritz took one look and said, “that looks gourmet!”.  He also said that it didn’t taste “leftover” at all.

Success.

Henry, who has been traumatized from his visit to the vet, has taken refuge in a pile of cardboard by the door waiting to be recycled.  I spotted him by the tail–poor baby.

We also just watched the movie Funny People, which I actually liked a lot despite its large quantity of genital-based humor.  Adam Sandler is so nice to watch when he is playing a serious character, and I thought it ended up being quite moving and thought-provoking.  Anyone else out there enjoy that movie?

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Grilled Trout with Lemon, Tarragon & Garlic Mayonnaise

We made this for dinner yesterday, and I would have to call it an absolute success.  Not only did Dad have an extra excuse to go fishing (I requested fish earlier in the week when we went kayaking), but the flavors worked out beautifully.

I didn’t want to do anything too crazy, because it was hot outside and I didn’t want to spend all day inside cooking.  I asked Dad how he normally prepares the fish, and he said that sometimes he coats in a bit of mayonnaise and grills it.

Now, I’m not a huge fan of mayonnaise.  Ever.  But I thought that flavored with some herbs and citrus, then used to protect and baste the fish in flavor while it’s grilled over high heat might be a different story.  And I was right.  No mayonnaise taste detectable–especially since we didn’t eat the skin of this particular fish.

Lemon, Tarragon, & Garlic Mayonnaise

  • 1/3 C mayonnaise
  • 1 T fresh tarragon, finely minced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 T lemon zest

Combine all the above ingredients in a small bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.  Reserve your newly naked lemon to squeeze over the top of the fish.

Grilled Trout with Herby Mayonnaise

  • 4 trout, cleaned and prepared
  • lemon, tarragon, & garlic mayonnaise
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • lemon wedges

First, take pictures of fish in the manner that makes it most alarming to your blog readers.  Then laugh because it looks like they are singing the Hallelujah Chorus (all together now–Haaaaallelujah!).

I’m sorry.

Off with their heads!  Dad gave me a nice lesson in cleaning fish–you never know when you might need to prepare your own dinner from the basics.  I actually remembered most of the steps from when I watched him do it as a kid, but he gave me some extra tips.

Next, turn on the grill to high heat (Dad estimates it was around 300 degrees) and let it warm up.  Next, coat the fish in a nice layer of the herby mayonnaise–most of it is going to drip off as it cooks, so you don’t want to be too stingy with it.  If you want to toss some lemon, garlic, or tarragon inside the fish before you get going, I’d be okay with that. 

Let the fish turn a nice, gorgeous, crispy brown.  The flesh should turn white when it is fully cooked and easily flake with a fork.

It’s better for fish to be flaky than for people.

Drizzle with some lemon left over from the mayonnaise zesting–the sharp citrus really takes the fish to the next level.

We served this with pasta salad and the sangria from yesterday–a very light and fresh summer meal!  Just watch out for those fish bones as you are eating.

So weird that I used to hate fish as a kid, ’cause now I love it.  It’s amazing how much our palates change and mature as we grow up. Speaking of growing up, the whole family trooped over to watch Jordi’s third karate lesson–she’s decided to take up a new hobby, and she got promoted from a regular white belt (novice) to a first-class white belt something-or-other (still a novice).  Now her white belt has a black stripe on the end.  Pretty exciting stuff.

Isn’t she so beautiful?  They grow up so fast!

This morning I went to breakfast with Mom and Dad at Stella’s, a popular Betty Boop-themed diner.  It was fun, and it made me reminisce about earlier times.  More importantly, it’s right around the corner from the Antique Exchange.  Oh, yes.  I was so excited!

And then it was closed.  Alas–maybe tomorrow.

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Seafood Paella

Okay, I’ll be the first to admit.  This isn’t exactly a paella–but if it looks like a paella, smells like a paella…

But due to circumstances beyond my control, this ended up somewhat like a pseudo-paella.  Those circumstances include:

  1. I didn’t have the right kind of rice, so I used brown rice which is delicious, healthy, and takes a million times longer to cook.
  2. Paella already takes a million years to make, and 1,000,000 x 1,000,000 is a really long time to wait.
  3. We were all very hungry.
  4. I also didn’t have a paella pan, and the one I used was too large in diameter for the burner underneath it (uneven cooking), but the only one large enough to contain all the ingredients.

Alas.  Such is life.  Also, it was still delicious, so I’m willing to call it a success.  I’ve also learned a lot about making paella and I think my next one will be much better!

Seafood Paella (original recipe here from Annie’s Eats)

  • 1/4 C + 1 t extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 tomatoes, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced, and 4 whole cloves
  • 1 1/2 t smoked paprika (first time trying this–yum!!)
  • 1 C clam juice
  • 1 1/2 lbs mussels
  • 12 jumbo shrimp, peeled with shells reserved
  • 1 lb scallops
  • 2 C rice–supposed to be “Spanish Bomba” rice, but I used long grain brown rice
  • Salt to taste

There should also be saffron involved, but we didn’t have any and there wasn’t any at the grocery store.  If you want the original recipe, check it out at Annie Eats, but here’s what we came up with.

First make the broth–if you want this to be a quicker recipe, you could use a previously make seafood broth, or even chicken broth in a pinch.  Heat the shrimp shells in a saucepan over medium-high heat for a few minutes until they turn pink.  Add a handful of mussels (I used 10-12) and five C of hot water.  Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer for ten minutes.  Strain through a sieve and add the clam juice–that’s your broth!

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pan (preferably a “paella pan”, whatever that is).  When hot (you’ll see it “shimmer”) toss in the diced tomatoes and onion.  Let it cook up for a bit, then add the garlic, smoked paprika, and salt (I used about a 1/4 t).  Turn the heat down low, and let it simmer and thicken until it becomes a nice dark color, and very thick.  Add the rice and stir it around for a minute.  Spread the rice mixture out in an even layer throughout the pan, and gently ladle the broth over the top, trying to maintain the even layer of rice.

Now, if you are making a real, grownup paella, you don’t want to stir the rice again!  You want it to develop a nice, thick, carmelized crust on the bottom.  If you are working on a time crunch and it’s easier to just stir everything in at the very end, I won’t judge you.  You just probably shouldn’t call this a paella.  But sometimes life happens!

Bring the rice/broth mixture to a vigorous simmer.  It’s also important that the heat be distributed pretty evenly, bubbling all the way to the edges so you can get that nice even bottom crust.

I didn’t get that.  Do you still love me?

Once the rice has absorbed most of the liquid, layer the remaining mussels on the top and cook for a few more minutes–they should be opening up.  Any mussels that don’t open up by the end should be chucked.  After two minutes, add the shrimp, pressing them into the rice.  Check the rice at the bottom (is it carmelizing?) by scraping at it with a spatula–you should have a nice crusty resistance, and the rice on top should be fully cooked.  If the broth evaporates too fast, just add a bit of water or loosely tent with foil.

Heat the last t of olive oil in a small pan, and quickly sear the scallops.  Toss them on top of the whole mixture and serve.  Season with salt to taste (and I topped with a dash of smoked paprika–it’s so delicious!  Why did I wait so long to discover it?).

Despite the fact that this didn’t turn out exactly how I hoped it would, the taste was still really good.  I love seafood, and mostly have scallops and shrimp when I come home to see my parents, ’cause they usually have some in the freezer just waiting for me.

I also discovered that I love mussels today!  I wasn’t sure if the mussel taste would be overpowering, but I had no issues with it whatsoever.  It also went quite nicely with the white wine Mom picked out for us.

Since it is Memorial Day weekend, I welcomed summer by reading an entire book (the majority of it outside in the sun), going kayaking with Dad, and having a nice long after-dinner neighborhood walk with Mom and the giant wolfhound.  All in all, a perfectly relaxing day.  Not sure of our plans for tomorrow, but hopefully it will begin with me sleeping in all the way until at least 10:00–and then possibly making a red, white, and blue confection?  We’ll see what I find.

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Thai Noodles with Bok Choy

Today started off horrid and rainy, as usual.  Bummer.

But it ended up being a great day!  I treated probably the most adorable child you have ever seen (he had cerebral palsy) with a few of my friends for my case studies week, and it was such a great experience.  He was so motivated, and we got to watch him feed himself yogurt at home for the first time (and show his mom!).  Even though it would have been incredibly frustrating to probably any other seven-year-old (he only managed to eat about a tablespoon of it, with the rest all over his face, arms, leg, chair, floor…etc), he was able to push through his physical limitations and be super excited anytime a drop of it actually made it inside his mouth.

It was very inspiring, to say the least.  A nice reminder that I probably should not get so annoyed just because it’s been raining nonstop for the past few weeks.  At least I can not only feed myself dinner, but plan it, go shopping for it, and make it all by myself.

So here’s a lovely dinner for all of you people to make.  Just remember to be grateful for every bite you take on your own, okay?

It’s a deal.

Thai Noodles with Bok Choy (adapted from Hot Sour Salty Sweet: A Culinary Journey Through Southeast
Asia)

  • 1 lb wide dried rice noodles
  • 3 T vegetable oil
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/2 lb chicken breast, thinly sliced
  • 1 t sugar
  • 1 lb bok choy, rinsed and sliced lengthwise into thin spears
  • 1 T miso paste
  • 1 1/2 T soy sauce
  • 1 T Thai fish sauce
  • 2 T cider or rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2 C mild broth (I used 1/2 C chicken broth with 1 C added water)
  • 1 T cornstarch, dissolved in 3 T water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

This is a great dish, and despite the rather long ingredient list, it’s very quick and easy to make.  Because the cooking moves fast, have the ingredients all prepared and ready to be tossed into the pot at a moment’s notice.  Start by soaking the dried noodles in warm water for 15 minutes, then drain them.

Heat a wok (I use a flat-bottomed GreenPan wok, which I love) and add 1 T of the vegetable oil.  When it is hot, add half the rice noodles and fry for 2 minutes, pressing them against the hot sides of the wok.  Once finished, divide them among the plates (this recipe serves four).  Add a second T of olive oil, and fry the second batch of noodles, dividing them on to the plates when finished.

Toss in the last T of vegetable oil, and when hot, add the minced garlic and saute for a few seconds, then add the chicken.  Cook until the meat has all changed color.

Add the bok choy, pressing the leaves against the sides of the hot pan until they turn bright green and wilt.  Admire.

Lastly, add the miso, vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce, and broth.  Stir it around until the sauce begins to combine, then add the cornstarch and water mixture.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and allow it to simmer for a few minutes until the sauce is thickened and the bok choy is tender–it should only take about five minutes.

Divide the bok choy and chicken among the plates, and ladle extra gravy over the top.

Serious yum.  This can be served with a hot chile-vinegar on the side to heat things up a bit, if you like (which I obviously do).

This dinner is really satisfying, and for once, not too fishy.  Actually, not fishy at all–just “deliciously Asian”, as Fritz says.  Definitely an Southeast Asian comfort food that I am certain we will be making again.

And for those of you scared of Thai food, Fritz isn’t a huge fan of strong Thai flavors, but he really loved this dinner.  He ate a giant bowl of leftovers in the car while driving on the way to see Thor the day after.  Which is kind of scary, if you think about it.  Noodles aren’t really the most portable of foods for those of us planning on eating while driving (which you should never do, of course).

I don’t have class until eleven tomorrow!  Is that something to be grateful for, or what?

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Open-Faced Tacos

I have a fun dinner plan for you–open-faced tacos!

 

It was quite a hit at the homestead, I’ll tell you.

Well, it would have been, except that Fritz was a little crabby because it was 81 degrees inside (too hot) due to our temperature-unregulatable apartment, and I dropped a butter knife in between the wall and the floorboard heaters and I made Fritz try to extricate it (this is all underneath the table) while I was attempting to photograph dinner.  Without allowing him to move the said table.

So, needless to say, he was a bit of a downer during the actual consumption of dinner, but once he settled down and contemplated what he had actually eaten, he was pretty excited.  Especially because he gets to have it for lunch again tomorrow.

Now, I’m just going to give you the general idea, not really a recipe.  But here are the ingredients we used:

Open-Faced Tacos

  • 6 small corn tortillas
  • 3/4 lb ground turkey
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1/4 t garlic, minced
  • 1 t dried cilantro
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Toppings:

  • Refried beans
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Avocado slices
  • Plain Greek yogurt
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Spinach, thinly sliced

Bake the corn tortillas in an oven (350 degrees) until crisp. 

Meanwhile, cook the ground turkey over medium heat and add the spices–but feel free to deviate and use whatever floats your boat.  Add some salsa if you want!

To assemble the tacos the way we did, spread the refried beans over the tortilla and add the meat and a sprinkle of cheese over the top.  Broil in the oven for a few minutes until the cheese is browned.

Now–go to town with your toppings.

Seriously.

Do whatever you want.

Enjoy!  These had a nice crunch and were fun to eat in an open-faced form.

I bought myself a present today!  I love cookbooks, but don’t have very many that are healthy, and lately I’ve been using the internet more and more to find recipes I want to try–that’s annoying because then my computer is in the middle of the table (and it has a very short battery life, so it needs to be plugged in) and plus..it’s just not as cute as a cookbook.  I leafed through this book in the store and saw so many recipes that I want to try so I just up and bought it!  Yay!

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Happy Easter! Baked Ham

Happy Easter!

Hopefully you scored one of these this morning:

That’s right–my parents still give me an Easter basket.  I actually got it yesterday, and to my everlasting joy and surprise my “basket” was actually a colander that I admired earlier in the week.  How parents manage to do those things, I’ll never know.

Well, hopefully I’ll know someday.  But I have a few years to study their talents before I have to worry about it.

My Easter basket got put to use immediately–and it’s even cuter holding grapes than fake grass and eggs.

To continue the Easter celebration, I decided to make a traditional baked ham.  Nothing like the smell of baking ham with maple. cloves, and orange to celebrate what feels like the first real day of spring (it was sunny and warm outside all day!).

I learned two things today–1) buy a shank cut of ham, it’s easier to cut later and 2) “water added” ham contains less water (ie. more flavor) than a “water and ham product”.

Easter Baked Ham

  • 1 ready-to-cook ham (between 6-10 pounds)–it can be smoked or not, and spiral cut or not–your choice

The Glaze

  • 1/8 C brown sugar
  • 1/8 C maple syrup
  • 1/4 t ground cloves
  • zest and juice of a small orange (I used a mandarin orange)

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.  Place the ham flat side down (or fat side up) in a baking dish and add 1/4 C water to the bottom of the pan.  Cover tightly with foil and place in the oven on the middle to low rack.

Bake until the ham reaches 100 degrees in the middle (about 20 minutes per pound).  While it’s baking, put together the glaze by mixing the above ingredients.

Once the ham is ready, remove from the oven and turn up the heat to 350 degrees.  Cut off the skin (if there is any) and score the fat underneath in a diamond pattern.  Spread the glaze over the top and return to the oven for another 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of the ham.  Every ten minutes, baste the ham again with the glaze.

Remove from the oven, cover with foil, and let the ham rest for about 20 minutes, until the internal temperature is at least 160 degrees.

Serve right away!  We ate it with roasted asparagus and curried millet.  Quite a feast(er) dinner.

The orange is really perfect in this recipe–not too strong and not unnoticeable.  We also have enough ham to last us about 200 years (most of it is now in the freezer).

In the 10 minutes it took to write this post, the weather went from bright and sunny to dark and ominous–looks like it might storm!  Perfect timing since we want to see Water for Elephants tonight. 

What did you have for Easter dinner?

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Shredded Pork Tacos (Crock Pot)

Good mornin’ sunshines!

I was coming down with a cold the past few days, but I’m feeling a lot better today–with the morning off, fig and walnut bars baking in the oven, and a trip to the gym after class, I think today should be a good day.

Here’s a recipe for a basic crockpot shredded pork–I toned down the flavor a bit so that it would be a versatile base for pretty much any meal.  First we made tacos, the next day was quesadillas, then we added some BBQ sauce for pulled pork sandwiches.  I ended up freezing half of it so that next week I can take a day off from cookin’, too.

I love when I get to do that.

Basic Shredded Pork

  • 1 pork loin roast
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1 T dried cilantro (use less if you have fresh!)
  • sprinkle of Cajun seasoning (optional–I always like to add a little spice to my life)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 C water

Season the roast with salt and pepper, than rub on the chili powder and dried cilantro, finishing with some hot spices (cayenne pepper, white pepper, etc.) if you want a kick to it.  Turn your crock pot on low and spray with canola oil.

Lay down the garlic and onion on the bottom of the crock pot and place the roast on top.  Pour the water over the top and cover.

When it’s cooked through, take two forks and pull apart the roast until it’s fully shredded.  Depending on what you are using the pork for, you can add whatever flavors you want–but it will be tasty enough to stand on its own at this point!

We made tacos–with corn tortillas, plain greek yogurt in lieu of sour cream, a bit of cheddar cheese, lettuce, and some freshly made salsa.

They were good, but became even more delicious when we quickly fried up the tortillas in a bit of canola oil to make them into hard tacos.  You can also bake the corn tortillas up as chips to make nachos or open-face hard tacos.

If you have waaay too much pork to imagine what to do with, stick some in a ziplock freezer bag and put it away for next week.

I don’t know about you, but I think it’s time for a Henry update, don’t you?

I was watching Cold Mountain as I blogged this because Eber and Fritz were aghast that I hadn’t seen it yet.  What a great cast!  I’m not by any means a movie critic, but this was a fantastic movie–I laughed, I cried, I cried…again.

Fig and walnut bars will cheer me up!

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