Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Interesting links for the week

I've spent a lot of time the last few weeks researching home school curriculum and options. It seems like such a big decision with so many options. And, then, of course, reality hits, and I realize that this sweet little boy is only 5 years old, we have many years ahead of us, and if something isn't working, we can always change. Doesn't stop me from obsessing, but it does keep it in perspective.

As does my Dennis the Menace son. Yesterday morning, he pulled up freshly planted flowers in the backyard. Cause "Mac like it". Well, of course, he does. ~anyway~

Luckily for me, when I get tired of obsessing over curriculum or sticking to a two year old like white on rice, well, then I get to browse around the internets and find cool stuff. Like this.

My friend Dawn over at Dishing with Dawndi had a great post this week about bloggers she enjoys reading. (I love reading what Dawn has to say, too!) Head over there and check out what she is thinking about.

Emily at Chatting at the sky always speaks to my soul. I love what she has to say about when you feel behind and the expectations we put on ourselves.

My friend Chas at Heritage Acre Homestead posted this recipe that looks so good. And, amazingly, crescent rolls in a can are dairy free. I think these will be okay without the cheese. If they turn out, they just might solve my never-ending, I don't know what to serve a picky, no eggs, little boy in the morning, problem.

And, finally, Lynn at Lynn's Kitchen Adventures links to lots and lots of staycation ideas. Perfect for a long hot summer.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Potato kale enchiladas

I love enchiladas. So good! I especially like plain cheese enchiladas from our local Mexican place. The sauce is sooo good, the cheese melty, and they always hit the spot. But...with no dairy, it makes it a little harder to eat enchiladas! So, I remembered an old recipe from Veganomicon that I made once for a vegan relative. They were tasty, but a lot of trouble. The filling was what was great about them, though. Hearty and filling, even without the cheese. And, as kale season draws to a close, a perfect choice.

I topped these with an equally old recipe from Cooking Light, for tomato almond mole. It's a really great sauce that goes together quickly (win!).

And, my potato kale enchiladas were born. I was lazy and just layered these, casserole style. My homemade enchiladas always end up a big, tasty, mushy mess, so sometimes, I just go with it instead of doing the work of rolling them. But, rolling works, too. Whatever you have the patience for.

Potato Kale Enchiladas
adapted from Veganomicon
1 pound waxy potatoes
1 bunch kale washed, trimmed and chopped finely
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup vegetable broth or water
3 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 cup toasted pepitas
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 – 14 corn tortillas
Enchilada Sauce (recipe follows)

Prepare the filling: Peel and dice the potatoes, then boil them until tender. Drain and set aside. Cook the oil and minced garlic over low-medium heat, stirring occasionally until the garlic is slightly browned. Add the kale, sprinke with salt and raise the heat to medium stirring constantly to cover the kale with oil and garlic.

Partially cover the pot to steam the kale until it has wilted – 4 to 6 minutes. Remove the lid and mix in the potatoes, vegetable stock, lime juice, pumpkin seeds and salt. Use the back of a wooden spoon to mash some of the potatoes. Cook for another 3 – 4 minutes.

To assemble, place a ladle full of sauce on bottom of 9x13 pan. Add a layer of torn corn tortillas, followed by a layer of potato kale filling. Top with another layer of corn tortillas, and top entire casserole with the enchilada sauce.

Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Garnish with cilantro and white onion rings.

Enchilada Sauce
adapted from Cooking Light, October 2002
1/2 c roasted almonds
1/2 tsp vegetable oil
2 dried Anaheim chiles -- stemmed, seeded, and chopped
1 c chopped onion
1 clove garlic
1 chipotle chile canned in adobo -- chopped
1 1/2 c fire roasted crushed tomatoes -- such as Muir Glen
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cloves
2 6-inch corn tortillas -- torn into pieces
14 1/2 oz chicken or vegetable broth (I used better than bouillon chicken)
1 tbsp white wine vinegar

Place almonds in food processor and process until smooth (about 2 1/2 minutes) scraping side of bowl once. Set aside.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high. Add Anaheim chiles; saute 1 minute or until softened. Add onion and garlic and saute 4 minutes or until onion is lightly browned.

Add chipotle, tomatoes, sugar, spices, tortilla pieces, and broth to the pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Spoon the mixture into a food processor and process until smooth. Return mixture to pan; stir in almond butter and vinegar; cook 1 minute.

I'm linked to the summer link party at Rhoda's, as well as Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam today.

Beauty and Bedlam

Monday, May 23, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

This has been a Monday already! Luckily for me, the Tomato King has a four day weekend coming up, which means an extra set of hands, and (probably more importantly) an extra brain to stay one step ahead of three very curious little boys. Yay for holidays!

Friday--brunswick stew, bread
Saturday--hot dogs (lunch), burritos with chipotle pork, sweet potatoes, collards (supper)
Sunday--tacos with chorizo, potatoes, and eggs (lunch), taco salad (supper)
Monday--curried chickpeas, rice, Indian style eggplant
Tuesday--chicken and rice, salad, chard
Wednesday--fend for yourself! Mama has a shellfish cooking class.
Thursday--burritos with skirt steak, pintos, Mexican rice, and tomatillo chipotle salsa

As always, I'm linked to Orgjunkie's MealPlanMonday. Check it out for lots and lots of meal planning ideas.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Strawberry picking

We went strawberry picking for the second time this year last week. Will has never been fond of strawberries, but well, there aren't many foods that don't come in boxes and bags that get him excited. We carry on anyway. The other two boys LOVE strawberries. We picked two days ago, and I have less than a cup of berries left out of a gallon. No fancy desserts, no jam, nothing but straight strawberry snacking. I am amazed by how much food our family can put away! It's crazy and fun and a little bit awe-inspiring, too.

I forgot my camera for this trip (thank you for the pictures, Mom!), so I wasn't behind the lens. Which means that there is actual proof that I was along for the fun.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fancy date night

We like to mix it up a little bit on Saturday nights. Sometimes we do take-out, sometimes we eat our favorite fast food, sometimes we cook an old favorite, and sometimes, I like to try something new. So, last week, when I was browsing the grocery store, these baby octupus jumped out at me as something new to try. No, really, they did look really fresh and good, and the price was right for something new ($2.99/lb).

If I'm making something new, I usually wait until after bedtime to start cooking, and Mike will come into the kitchen with me and share drinks while I'm cooking. It's not quite him cooking with me, but it's as close as we are likely to get (lol), and it's fun.

I searched the internets, and it seems that they are best either slowly braised or cooked quickly with a sear or grilling. I went for the quick cooking. And, because we love everything better as tacos, I went with a Mexican spin on the flavors.

Since we were going Mexican style, we started the night with virgin margaritas, which is a fancy way to say limeade with a salted rim, but, hey, whatever works, right? One glass is a little darker than the other, because I tend to make flavored simple syrups to mix with seltzer, and I like my drink sweeter than Mike's. The simple syrup (rather than making a pitcher) allows you to customize like that. Fancy.

This is a great picture of the octupus, but alas, after this, my camera battery died, and I have no more. At least I got this one.

These were quick sauteed in a skillet, then mixed with garlic, lime juice, and cilantro. We ate them on corn tortillas, topped with chopped white onion, cilantro, a squeeze of lime, and this killer homemade jalapeno hot sauce from Rick Bayless. So good (really! I'm not just saying that).

Have you cooked something new lately?? What's holding you back? The grocery store is full of great ideas, and if you've got a willing person to share it with, something new can be a lot of fun.

Thanks for peeking into our at-home date night another week!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Stuffed peppers

For my family, the change of seasons always brings with it new challenges. Kids act crazy, schedules change, and it seems impossible to find time for blogging and other quiet tasks.

And, then, inexplicably, things seem to fall into place (or perhaps it is the eye of the storm!). Still, it's hard to make time for the things that I like in the day in and day out. Ah, life.

And speaking of life. Sometimes, my international market has random great deals. Like bell peppers, 6 for $1.19. I got 18, planning to freeze them, and we ate them all, in a mere 2 weeks time. Guess I had missed peppers since last summer! This was my stove top variation on stuffed peppers. It's hot already, so I avoid the oven as much as possible.

This recipe starts with ground beef and onions, of course. Even if I don't know what to cook, that's how I start. It always turns into something.

A can of diced tomatoes. I'm out of home-canned tomatoes, so Hunt's will have to do until summer. This is the lazy version, with onions, celery, and bell pepper added. Makes life easier.

Leftover rice. I had made this extra on purpose, thinking we'd have fried rice, but stuffed peppers sounded better.

I steamed the peppers for a few minutes until they were tender. Maybe 5 minutes? Not long.

I had no tomato sauce in the house, so I whisked together some tomato paste and water to make the sauce for the peppers.

Stuffed the peppers with the ground beef/rice/tomato mixture, then placed them in the skillet with the tomato paste mixture. I topped the peppers with a little of the gravy/sauce. And, yes, one of the peppers is pepper-less. My husband isn't a huge fan of bell peppers, so he ate one stuffed pepper and one pepper-less pile of stuffing. Whatever works.

I just covered these and simmered for about 15 minutes, until everything was heating through.

They turned out great! I was so pleased to find an oven favorite that translates to the stove-top. Yay for a cooler kitchen!

I'm linked to Tasty Tuesday over at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam today.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Salsa Chicken

This meal didn't start out to become this. But, as I realized that I was out of this and that and the other, it morphed into something delicious. Inspired (a little) by my brother's beloved salsa chicken (recipe: Pace+chicken+oven), this turned into an easy, stove top meal that everyone liked.

What's not to love? Tomatoes, black beans, and corn, all cooked with chicken cutlets. I served this pasta alongside, but it'd be great with rice, rolled into a tortilla, or served over some greens (we've got greens going gang-busters right now, so I have greens on the brain). Whatever you choose, it's a great keeper of a recipe. Try it soon!

Black Bean Salsa Chicken
2 cups black beans
1 cup frozen whole kernel corn (fresh is better, but do what you have to do)
1 onion, diced
1-3 jalapenos, diced, seeded if desired
2 cloves garlic
cilantro to taste (I use about 1/2 a bunch)
1-14 oz can diced fire roasted tomatoes
2 tsp cumin
chicken cutlets (I use boneless skinless breasts, cut into thirds with a sharp knife and a steady hand), however many you need to feed the family
oil for sauteing (I'm a canola kind of girl)

Heat oil in a deep skillet until shimmering. Add cutlets, season with salt and pepper, and pan-fry until almost done, about 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove from pan to a plate and keep warm.

Add onion and jalapeno to skillet and allow to cook briefly. Add garlic, beans, corn, tomatoes, and cilantro, and bring to a simmer. Season to taste with salt (if needed) and pepper. Add cumin. Slide cutlets back into mixture and allow to heat through. Enjoy!

I'm linked to Tasty Tuesday over at Beauty and Bedlam. Every week, great ideas, lots of inspiration, plus pretty pictures. What could be better?