Snow Day 2: Slightly Lighter Tacos

December 10, 2018

Snow days do not bring out the healthy food choices in me.  They bring out the stretchy pants in me.  True confessions, I’m heavier than I’ve been in a while and not thrilled about it.  But even less thrilled about dieting.  I don’t do food sacrifices very well.  So, I’m trying to make some tiny choices, that are better, and hopefully slide ever so slowly back to better habits.  Yes, I know.  I’ve picked the worst possible time of the year to start this.  My other choice is to go for broke until January and see if I can make myself so sick of eating that a diet will be a blessed relief.  Stay tuned for the final decision.

But for tonight – tacos.  I love tacos.  I like fancy fish tacos.  I like swanky carne asada tacos.  But at my heart, I like tacos like we had when I was a kid.  Yep, it’s true.  I have a secret (less secret now) love for Old El Paso beef tacos with cheddar cheese and crunchy shells out of the box.  The heart wants what it wants.

So, tonight, an experiment.  A few little changes, with limited loss in taco satisfaction.  Here’s what I did. First, I used half ground beef and half ground turkey.  I’ve tried all ground turkey in the past and it doesn’t make the grade.  So, half and half to reduce some fat.  And the Old El Paso taco seasoning, but the low salt version.  Then, black beans so I could use less meat all together.  Beans are a good way to cut fat, but also to stretch meat a little further if you’re watching your pennies.  Regular cheddar, salsa and hot sauce.

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I gotta say, this works.  I did miss the crunch of the hard shells, but that’s easy to remedy.  For tonight I only had regular tortillas.  It might also work to mash the black beans and add the other stuff to the top, ala tostados.

There you have it.  It’s not rocket science for sure.  And it’s definitely not a diet.  But it is baby steps.  Once I get the baby steps down I’ll move on to even better choices.  And I’m totally giving myself credit for eating my lasagna soup for lunch without the mozzarella topping.

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Snow Day Lasagna Soup

December 9, 2018

It’s been too long!  I’ve done some cooking, some traveling, some eating out in the meantime.  But today is a snow day, which means kitchen time and binge-watching tv.  And, of course, taking video of the puppy’s first snow.  I love days like this!

An ad for something called “Instant Pot Lasagna Soup” came across my news feed last week.  I don’t have an Instant Pot.  I feel no need for one.  There was a link to a slow cooker version.  Getting closer.  But on a snow day, I don’t need a hands off solution.  I’m here.  I have time to stir.  And in this case, that’s the only difference between the slow cooker version and the stove top soup pot version.  The stirring.

How do you make a soup version of lasagna?  Basically, you make the goopy filling you’d make for a regular lasagna and add a bunch of liquid to it.  Soup.  The great thing about it is that the filling part can be anything you want. I used a combination of sausage, beef, and turkey in this one.  If you’d usually make a vegetarian lasagna, by all means, do that. Sub in veggie crumbles instead of the meat. This would be great with zucchini and mushrooms.  And what’s even better is that you don’t have to worry about whether it’s going to fall apart when you cut it.  It’s supposed to be soupy!

Now, let’s talk noodles.  Lots of options here too.  What kind of noodles?  I decided to use lasagna noodles broken into pieces.  You could use rotini or radiatore or baby shells, whatever.  You can cook them in the soup.  You can cook them ahead of time and add them to the pot.  You can cook them and portion them into individual bowls.  What you need to consider is your leftovers plan.  If you’re sure you won’t have leftovers, cook the noodles in the soup.  They’ll take on the flavor of the soup.  If you’re mostly sure you won’t have leftovers, but then again maybe, cook the noodles separately and add them to the pot. They’ll take on some of the soup liquid.  Beware that the noodles in the leftovers might be a little mushy.  If you’ve planned for leftovers, cook the noodles separately and put them in individual bowls.  You can either cook all the noodles you’ll need and just store them separately or you can cook fresh ones each time you have leftovers.

This stuff looks, tastes, and smells amazing.  Coming in from playing in the snow to this aroma is a gift.  Truly.  But I noticed that I didn’t have any vegetables.  And since I’m still not convinced that lettuce won’t jump up and kill me at any moment (Google romaine and e coli if you want more info on that), I decided to add some kale to the pot.  I got some end of season lacinato kale at the farmers’ market yesterday so I chopped and added most of the bunch to the pot.  If you’re going to add a hardy green to the pot, just make sure the soup is at a solid simmer.  You want the greens to cook, not just wilt.  If you’re using a softer leaf like spinach, a wilt will do just fine.

Hey now, you’re saying, the best part of a lasagna is the cheesy goodness!  Worry not.  You have a lot of options in the cheese department too.  You can add a dollop of ricotta to the bottom of each bowl before you ladle the soup in.  You can (and should) top each bowl with mozzarella and Parmesan.  Or both!  In this case I used SausageCraft Della Nonna sausage, which has some cheese mixed right into the sausage.  Yummmm.  If you want to make it extra special, use oven safe crocks so you can brown the mozzarella in the broiler before serving!

If you don’t have a lasagna recipe that you’re already using, feel free to follow this one.  This will make 4-6 servings.

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 C diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 lb each, italian sausage, ground beef, and ground turkey
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 1 can (14 oz) or pint jar peeled tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 C dry red wine (save the rest for dinner!)
  • 1-2 t dried oregano
  • 1-2 t dried basil
  • 2-3 C stock (vegetable or chicken)
  • 1 small bunch lacinato kale, stemmed and chopped

Here’s what you do:

  • In a medium pot, cook the pasta; set aside

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  • In a large, heavy pot, heat the oil until it shimmers
  • Add the onion and garlic
  • Cook until the onion is soft
  • Add the meat; cook until it’s browned

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  • Stir in the tomato paste

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  • Stir in the tomatoes, wine and spices

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At this point what you’ve got is lasagna filling.

  • Add the stock

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Now it’s soup!

  • Bring to a simmer
  • Cover the pot and cook 30-60 minutes
  • Increase the heat to achieve a low boil
  • Add the kale

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  • Reduce heat and simmer 15-20 minutes.
  • Add pasta to each bowl; ladle soup over the noodles
  • Add some mozzarella and parmesan

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How was it?

First, it’s exactly as advertised.  It’s lasagna in a bowl!  Nothing to complain about there.  I really like the broken lasagna noodles. My advice – leave the pieces big enough that you really notice them.  It’s much more like lasagna that way.  And as delightful as the mozzarella is, it sticks to the spoon as much as anything.  I don’t like having to scrape it off with my teeth. I might try the leftovers with just the parmesan.  Or maybe cubes of fresh mozzarella instead.

If you’re going to add a kale or chard, add some extra stock or water as well. The greens soak up a lot of liquid and you still want it to be like soup.  I really liked the kale addition though.  I’d definitely do that again.

I’m super happy with my meat choices.  The beef and turkey were very lean and the sausage added just enough fat to add amazing flavor and a silky texture to the broth.  So, not a lot of fat and I didn’t miss it.  But I think I’d be happy with a vegetarian version too.

All in all, the perfect snow day dinner!  All the food groups; warm and comfort-y;  and only a bowl to wash.  I might even have some in the morning after the snow shoveling!

Cincinnati Chili, Vegetarian Style

November 26, 2018

I’ve been on a vegetarian jag the last several days.  Well, except for the breakfast bacon.  Still, most of my cooking has been vegetarian.  It wouldn’t kill me to lose a little weight and my cholesterol probably needs some work, so it seems like a good idea to cut back on the meat protein.  And just maybe it adds a little balance to the sugar heavy holiday diet.

I’m not a huge fan of meat substitutes.  If part of my quest is about reducing processed food, then food flavored and processed to resemble something that it isn’t, has to be included in that.  So, no false chicken patties or tofurkey or fake bacon.  That said, veggie protein crumbles seem acceptable because they’re replacing a meat protein morethan they’re pretending to be one.  Maybe.  I sometimes use them instead of crumbled ground beef or turkey in foods that are mostly about the sauce – spaghetti sauce, lasagna, and chili.  If it makes you nervous to do a wholesale replacement, just replace half.

Cincinnati Chili is flat out winter comfort food.  If you’re not familiar, it’s a dark, cinnamon, allspice, chocolate, no-bean, slightly soupy chili served over noodles and topped with onions and cheese.  Just think about that for a moment.  Yum.  Skyline Chili is the most famous version that I know of, but you can’t get it in my part of the world so I make it from scratch.

This version is slightly darker and more bitter than other recipes I’ve made.  It calls for an ounce of unsweetened chocolate. Probably half that much would do.  But every recipe is all about the spices.  There’s not much else in it.  A few onions, tomatoes and crumbled beef or veggie crumbles.  When you have a recipe that succeeds or fails on the strength of dry spices, plan to cook it a long time. That’s the only way those spice flavors really develop.

Feel free to double this.  It freezes great!  And it’s important to have some comfort food on hand for those winter days that don’t go like you hoped.

Here’s what you need:

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  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 C finely diced onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1 T paprika
  • 3/4 t cumin
  • 1/2 t allspice
  • 3/4 t cinnamon
  • 1/8-1/4 t cayennne
  • 1/4 t cloves

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  • 1 lb Boca veggie crumbles
  • 3 T tomato paste
  • 1/2 C diced tomatoes

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  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 C water

  • 1 ounce unsweetened (Baker’s) chocolate, chopped
  • 1 T cider vinegar
  • 1 T Worcestershire sauce

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Whew.  That’s it.  Don’t be intimidated by the length of the list.  All the spices are ground and you likely have them in your house already.

Here’s what you do:

  • Heat the oil in a heavy pot
  • Add the onions and garlic, saute 5 minutes
  • Add all the ground spices
  • Stir and cook 1 minute
  • Add crumbles. Saute until they’re thawed and covered evenly in spices.
  • Stir in tomato sauce, tomatoes, bay leaf
  • Add 1 1/2 C water and simmer, uncovered, until slightly thickened
  • Stir in chocolate, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and cook until much of the water cooks out
  • Add salt to taste
  • Add another 1/2 C water and cook until much of the water cooks out
  • Repeat until the chili has cooked 1 1/2 – 2 hours.  Make sure the chili is a little soupy at the end.
  • Add more salt as needed
  • Serve over spaghetti and top with diced onions and grated cheddar

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Roasted Winter Vegetables with Herbed Buttermilk Dressing

November 25, 2018

As you might imagine, there’s been a fair amount of cooking post-Thanksgiving, but not a ton of time for writing.  A good many vegetarian options the last few days so stay tuned if that’s your thing, or if you’re looking for some ways to counteract the holiday binge.  I’ll work my way backwards from tonight’s dinner.

Once again Melissa Clark has supplied a fantastic, and completely attainable, dinner.  This one has limited dishes; requires limited skill; and comes with buttermilk dressing that you can use for lots of things!  She’s fast becoming my food bestie.  I love this cookbook so much that when my 8 month old puppy chewed up my still new copy of Dinner:  Changing the Game,  I ordered a new one in about 10 minutes without batting an eyelash.  Well, I might have reacted slightly more strongly to the puppy.  Still, no question that I can’t be without this cookbook!

This is as good a dinner as I’ve had in a while.  Even better if you consider the limited work it was for me!  The work is chopping and whisking.  That’s it.  Chop the vegetables and herbs and whisk the dressing.  I think you could use about any combination of winter vegetables, but keep the flavor balance in mind.  The original recipe calls for kale, butternut squash and potatoes.  I didn’t  have any kale, but I did have Brussels Sprouts so I used those instead.  Still a green element and the leaves got crispy.

Do include an orange squash – butternut, acorn, delicata, pumpkin.  That’s your sweet  and creamy element.  Don’t skip the potatoes.  I know potatoes have gotten a bad rap recently, but they’re the perfect delivery vehicle for this dressing.  They’re puffy on the inside and crisp on the outside.  So yummy.  Do include a hearty green – kale, collard, sprout.  The green, slightly bitter flavor is a wonderful counterpoint to the orange squash.  Use broccoli if you like that best.

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Don’t skimp on the pre-heating of the oven.  The high heat delivers the crispiness. I did the Brussels Sprouts alone first so I could get the loose leaves to crisp.  Then the butternut and potatoes on separate pans, but at the same time.  The length of cooking time depends on the size of the vegetables.  Mine were about an inch square so it took 20-25 minutes for the squash and 5 minutes longer for the potatoes.

I did add some pan seared chicken breast to my bowl for some protein.  I halved it horizontally to speed up the cooking.  If you’re buying your chicken at the grocery store, and most of use are, organic or not, the breasts are huge.  Honestly enough for 4 servings.  Halved horizontally, depending on the thickness you’re left with, you’re looking at 2-4 minutes per side.  Start with a smoking hot pan with a little olive oil in it.  Once you put the chicken in, DON”T MOVE IT!  You’ll tear it if you move it around a lot and that’s how you lose the juices.  When you start to flip it, if your pan was hot enough and you’ve left it long enough, it will flip without sticking to the pan.  It will also have a lovely brown sear to it.  Cook, at the same high heat, for the same amount of time, maybe plus a minute on the flip side.  Let it rest 5-6 minutes before you cut it.  You can assemble the rest of the meal while it’s resting.

While the chicken was resting I returned the sprouts to the oven with the other vegetables.  Oven off, but still hot.

Now, about the dressing.  The recipe is pretty loose.  It’s got buttermilk (1/3 C), yogurt (3 T), garlic (1 clove grated), lemon juice and salt to taste.  Beyond that, use whatever herbs and greens you like.  I used arugula, dill, and parsley.  Chop it fine.  I hate chopping herbs.  It takes me a long time and I inevitably catch a finger or fingernail under the knife in the process.  It’s much better when I use my mandolin.  No, not the instrument or the fancy slicer.  It’s a two-handled chopper with a curved blade.  You can just rock it back and forth over the pile of herbs and greens.  It’s not super sharp so they will bruise some in the process, but it doesn’t matter because you’re going to dump them in the dressing anyway.

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Spoon equal portions of the vegetables into a bowl. Dice the chicken and add 1/4 to the bowl.  Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of the dressing over each bowl.  Without the chicken, this would make a fantastic side for beef or pork.

If you want to keep this vegetarian, but want to add some protein, it would be fantastic with some warm white beans added!

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Farewell Fresh: Potato and Corn Chowder

November 17, 2018

It’s gotten cold here in Virginia.  And I worked pretty hard today – run this morning; housecleaning; and I braved the Kroger the Saturday before Thanksgiving.  There ought to be a badge for that!  But as usual, I bought the stuff I need to make Thanksgiving desserts, but no actual food.  Fortunately I had one more Hello Fresh meal!  Chowder was exactly the right thing for tonight.

There’s a fair amount of chopping in this one, and a fairly long cooking time, but it’s not hard.  The only challenge is adding the milk to the floury vegetables and getting a smooth base.  You’re making gravy here.  Just add a little milk.  Stir until it’s incorporated.  It’ll be thick and glumpy still.  Add a little more.  Stir it in.  There’s a cup of milk and I added it in 5 stages.  By the end it’s very soupy, but it doesn’t have any lumps!  And be sure you bring it all the way to a boil before you start to simmer.  It’s the boiling that helps thicken the chowder.

I simmered it for 12 minutes.  You want the potatoes to be tender, but not soft.  They need to hold their shape.  The corn is yellow and had very large kernels, almost as large as the potato pieces.  It adds a very nice hit of sweetness against the heat of the poblano.  Hello Fresh provided a medium cheddar, which was fine.  On my own I would have used extra sharp. I just like that extra tang.

What’s my favorite thing about this chowder?  The smoked paprika.  It’s a fantastic way to add to add some smoky, almost meaty, depth to a vegetarian dish.  Chowder often has bacon or ham to elevate a dish that’s otherwise mostly potatoes and milk.  No need here.  The smoked paprika does its job.

This is another recipe that makes way more than 2 people need for dinner.  I had a bowl and a half tonight and there are easily 2 and maybe 3 servings left in the pot.  Between this and the orzotto from yesterday (and Thanksgiving!), I’ve got lunch taken care of for the week!

My only word of caution – the poblano isn’t a very hot pepper, but it still stings if you get the juice on your fingers and touch your face.  I speak from experience.

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Hello Fresh “Orzotto”

November 16, 2018

This is meal 2 out of my gifted box – orzotto.  Risotto made with orzo instead of arborio rice.  Clever.

Honestly this is one of the more complicated recipes I’ve made from a Hello Fresh box.  It’s not too difficult, just a lot of cook, remove from pot, set aside.  Requires the stove top and the oven.  And they miss a little on the instructions.  Once you add the liquid (chicken stock concentrate, water and crushed tomatoes) to the orzo it says to bring it to a boil and stir occasionally.  It’s a pretty thick liquid and there’s not a ton of it.  The orzo starts to stick to the bottom of the pot pretty quickly.  I had to stir constantly and vigorously to keep it from sticking.  I also had to add about 1/2 C extra water to get the orzo to cook all the way to al dente.

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The topping is slightly strange.  Shredded mozzarella and panko.  You spread it over the top and put it under the boiler.  Because it’s bread crumbs and a fat you end up with a crust.  Lovely on casseroles, but odd on something that’s supposed to be risotto-esque.  I’d leave that off.  Maybe sprinkle the cheese on top of eat serving.  Leave the panko for another day.

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One more thing.  This is WAY more than 2 servings, as the pasta dishes often are.  To give you a sense, this is a 3 1/2 Q dutch oven.  It’s filled about 1/3 of the way, so nearly a quart of this stuff.  I’m not a small girl and portion control is one of my issues, still, I can’t imagine what Hello Fresh thinks is four servings of this!

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Overall, it’s a good dish. The italian seasoning is a little strong.  It calls for added butter  you don’t need.  What is up with these people and their extra butter?  The chicken sausage is very flavorful, which is good because grated zucchini has no taste at all.  The tomatoes have no salt.  The chicken stock must be low in salt.  Taste before you top and stir some salt in to taste.

Chicken and Rice Bowl from a Box

November 15, 2018

I’ve used a good many meal services – Blue Apron, Plated, Hello Fresh, Purple Carrot – but not in a long while.  I like meal planning and grocery shopping so I’m mostly not the target audience for these.  Still, I have plenty of days too full of other things to get much meal stuff done.  I was very fortunate this week.  The day I ran out of food and leftovers a friend texted to say she’d gotten two identical Hello Fresh boxes!  Lucky me!

If you’re considering starting a meal subscription there are lots of things to consider – price, menu, quality, portions, calories, packaging, choice, dietary preferences.  They all have their strengths and weaknesses.  Hello Fresh is good for family friendly selections and a nice variety of choices.  This box included a pasta with chicken sausage, corn and potato chowder, and tonight’s selection – chicken and rice bowls.  I have no way of knowing what the other options were for this week, but these are all things that interest me.

Here’s what I don’t like about meal services, any of them.  And you can lump online grocery orders in here too.  I don’t like other people selecting my produce.  No one else knows exactly how ripe the bananas should be.  If I’m planning guacamole for Friday I don’t want an already ripe avocado to arrive on Monday.  And if I decide to make salsa, but I get to the store and the tomatoes don’t look good, I change my  plan!

Here’s the selection of ingredients from the box for Pulled Chicken Rice Bowls:

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This is the tomato that Hello Fresh sent.  It has two problems.  First, they’ve sent one, small Roma tomato to make salsa for two people.  Really?  I’m not sure a bowl of unripe tomato, green onion, and lime juice can legitimately called salsa, but still.  Second, this is so far from ripe it’s embarrassing.  They’d have been better off to send a fully green one and have green tomato salsa.

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Either no one is paying attention as they pack these boxes or they figure close enough is close enough.  At about $10 per serving, I feel like the produce should be good.  Shame on you Hello Fresh.  Fortunately I had a container of grape tomatoes I could use instead.

Moving on.  I also used my own rice.  I had to make some for the dogs anyway, so I made a bunch.  The box had 1/2 C, so cooked you’d have about 1/2 C per person.  Probably enough.  The chicken provided is generous.  Once the chicken, peppers, and onions are all together there’s really enough for 3 servings, so the extra rice is going to come in handy.

Besides the produce, my other issue with this meal, and many meals from these services,  is the calories.  They add fat and calories where you don’t need them or get much out of them.  This meal prepared as instructed is 740 calories per serving.  Not horrible, but let’s take a look.  That’s 1480 calories total.  So, if you make 3 servings out of it you’re already down to 493 calories.  Even if you add extra rice to the third serving you’re under 600 calories.  Then, the recipe calls for 2 T of butter.  You don’t need it.  The rice is perfectly fine without butter and the chicken has plenty of flavor and smoothness from the stock concentrate.  A tablespoon of butter has 100 calories or so.  Gone.  Then there’s the sour cream.  They give you 4 tablespoons.  One tablespoon per bowl is enough.  They only give you 1 ounce of cheese per serving so I didn’t even bother with it.  That’s another 100 calories down.

So without really sacrificing anything, my bowl, even with some extra rice, is about 400 calories.  Much better!  Leaves me room for a beer with calories to spare!

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Fish Tacos, Southern Style

November 12, 2018

It’s dark and rainy and there are new episodes of the Great British Baking Show waiting for me.  That translates to about 15 minutes of interest in making dinner.  Fortunately these fish tacos only take about 15 minutes to make!

Fish tacos usually have halibut or cod – maybe fried, maybe grilled.  They’re often topped with shredded cabbage, queso fresco, lime juice and salsa.  And I love them that way.  But in this house they come with catfish and the cabbage comes in slaw form, as all good cabbages do.  Not much else to them.  Some Tony Chachere’s on the fish and some hot sauce on the top.  Corn tortillas.

Catfish is cheap.  And you don’t need big gorgeous filets.  You’re going to chop them into pieces anyway so if you can get catfish nuggets for half price, get those.  It takes about 1 filet for two tacos.  Once it’s cut up, put it in a bag with the seasoning.   I use Tony Chachere’s.  Shake.  You’re ready to go.

Cabbage is cheap too.  Even if you buy it shredded in a bag.  Not a kit, just the cabbage.  In my world, passed down from my MeMa to my mom to me, slaw has 4 ingredients:  cabbage, Duke’s mayonnaise, salt, and pepper.  Make the slaw ahead of time if you can.  If not, it takes less than 10 minutes.

Heat a little canola oil in a cast iron skillet.  When it starts to smoke add some of the catfish pieces.  Don’t crowd the pan.  You want them to cook quickly.  Turn them in 1-2 minutes, depending on how thick they are.  Cook them another minute. Remove from the pan and finish the rest of fish.

While the fish is cooking, heat the tortillas in the oven.

Pile some fish, slaw and hot sauce in a tortilla!  I had some cilantro and green onions left from the other night so I threw that in too.  SO GOOD!

I could eat these many more days than not.  The house does smell slightly of fish for the evening, but there’s minimal cleanup.  I’ve been known to eat these sans plate just standing over the sink. The lunch leftovers, if you have any leftovers, are pretty darn good too.

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Busy Week Breakfast Quiche

November 11, 2018

One more week before some much needed vacation!  And as all weeks before vacation are, this one is really busy.  So, I’m trying to set myself up for success by taking care of breakfast (and maybe a lunch or two) ahead of time.  I also had a little spinach, 2/3 box of sliced mushrooms, and some green onions to use up.  Quiches are perfect for using up the vegetable drawer leftovers.

I’ve made many quiches in the past.  They’re great to make ahead if you have guests coming in.  They freeze well.  They travel well.  They make very good gifts for hostesses, neighbors, and friends.  This is the first quiche I’ve made where you pre-bake the crust.  So, consider that optional I think.  I’m sure Paul Hollywood would disagree.  Maybe this blind bake will keep the crust crispy.

In any case, the base quiche recipe is something to keep in your back pocket, and know you can add pretty much anything to it.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 deep dish pie crust
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/4 C heavy cream

Beyond that I added about 6 ounces of grated extra sharp white cheddar, some sauteed sliced mushrooms, sliced green onions, chopped fresh spinach.

Here’s what you do:

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
  • Prick pie crust with a fork
  • Bake 10-12 minutes, until golden
  • Set aside
  • Reduce heat to 350 degrees
  • In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and cream

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  • Mix in cheese and vegetables

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  • Place pie crust on a baking sheet with sides
  • Pour filling into crust

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  • Bake 40-50 minutes until the center is set

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With the holidays coming up, knowing you have a few things done ahead of time is a nice feeling!

Half Marathon Weekend: Half Recipe of Coconut Beef

November 11, 2018

Yesterday, Saturday, I completed a half marathon.  Long runs make me crave two things:  iron and protein.  This usually finds me chowing down on a double cheese burger somewhere.  Yesterday, sadly, I missed lunch so I didn’t have it in me to plan dinner.  Many thanks to The Mill and their rib eye special!  Blowing off lunch means I’m still kind of catching up today.  And still craving beef.

The day after a Half usually also means a lot of rest.  That doesn’t really happen when you have a puppy.  So, I was up at the crack of dawn, walked my dogs and headed to the SPCA to get some shelter dogs out.  Not a lot of energy left for dinner.  God Bless the Crock-Pot!  Over the years I’ve found a lot of good recipes in Stephanie O’Dea’s Make It Fast, Cook It Slow.  This is another one!  I did my chopping, little as it was, this afternoon and threw everything in the Crock-Pot. When I got back from puppy class I put the insert in the cooker and set it to High.  Do other stuff for four hours and voila!

Here’s the rest of the good news.  I had 1/2 a can of coconut milk and 1/2 an onion left from a few days ago.  All of the spices I already had in the house so all I had to buy was one pound of stew meat!

Here’s what you need: (for half a recipe)

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  • 1 lb stew beef, cubed
  • 1/2 can (1 C) coconut milk
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/2 onion, cut into chunks
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 t brown sugar
  • 1/2 t cumin
  • 1/2 t curry powder
  • 1 T chopped cilantro stems
  • 1-2 t Thai chile sauce
  • salt

The original recipe calls for 1/2 t of ground coriander.  I didn’t have any, but I do have cilantro.  Cilantro stems are very flavorful and tender enough to use so I substituted those.

Here’s what you do:

  • dump everything in a small Crock-Pot
  • Cook on high 4 hours
  • Serve over rice

 

Adjust the amount of chile sauce to adjust the heat.  I thought this was just perfect, and I like hot, but not too hot.  You might also cut the beef in smaller cubes. It cooked just fine, but they were right on the edge of needing to be cut.  It makes sense to cut them small enough to be small bite-sized.

Easy, good and probably 2 meals of leftovers.  Perfect!