Saturday, January 30, 2016

Chile Verde, January 30, 2016

I'd planned to make chile verde last night, but we ended up eating out after going to the movies, so I made it tonight. It's rich-tasting and spicy and very good over rice. I made corn and a salad to go alongside. This is one of my favorite dishes at good Mexican restaurants, but when not done well, I really dislike it. This version is great.

Chile Verde
1 tsp. oil
2 lb. boneless pork shoulder, fat trimmed, cut into 1" cubes
Salt & pepper
2 onions, chopped
1 jalapeño, minced
1/2 poblano pepper, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 c. chicken broth (I use the fat-free, lower sodium sort)
2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. coriander
24 oz. tomatillo salsa (or just canned tomatillos, if you can find them---I couldn't)
Lime wedges

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season pork with salt and pepper. Brown in oil. Remove to paper-towel-lined plate. In same pot, sauté onion, peppers, and garlic until tender, about 5 minutes. Add rest, including pork, but not including lime wedges. Bring to a boil. Cover and bake 1 1/2-2 hours. This will make your house smell fabulous. Serve over cooked rice with lime wedges to squeeze over each portion. Serves 6-8. 

Chili's, January 29, 2016

We usually celebrate our monthiversies with a dinner out each month on the 30th. However, Jeannene has been wanting to see the new Star Wars movie for ages. We'd talked about how feasible it would be to take our wee boy along with us, seeing as he mostly just sleeps and eats. So, last night, we decided to go see it. I had offered to stay home with the babe while she saw it, but she wanted to go as a family and have it be his first movie. So, we decked him out in the Jedi robe our friend, Marlene, made for him and gave him the light saber she made for him and took him, stroller and all, to the movies.

The movie was great & our dearie slept through most of it, awaking only to take a bottle. Since he was in good spirits, we decided to have our monthiversary dinner near the movie theater. So, we chose Chili's. We don't often go there because, somewhere along the way, Jeannene decided she doesn't like Chili's. However, every time we go, she ends up liking it. We had an order of perfect fried pickles to start, then I went on to the bacon ranch quesadilla and Jeannene had the Cajun chicken pasta. Since we each only had about half our meals, we'll have a nice lunch for tomorrow. We did have dessert, though, splitting some of the hot chocolate chip cookie that comes in a skillet.

Beef & Veggie Stir-Fry, January 28, 2016

Thursday night, Jeannene made a beautiful stir-fry with beef cubes, carrots, broccoli, water chestnuts, & snow peas. I made a pot of jasmine rice, with sesame oil stirred in before cooking, to go with it. Lovely supper!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

What I'm Cooking in February 2016

-Kidney bean soup, anadama bread, crudités with pomegranate relish, grapefruit compote in rosemary syrup
-Keema, lemon pilaf (43-6), labneh, salad
-Cajun catfish, fried potatoes, coleslaw, corn muffins
-Chili & other Super Bowl food
-Jambalaya, salad, fruit, king cake
-Turkey salad, green salad, rolls, fruit soup 
-Pork roast, baked acorn squash, broccoli
-Tamari ginger fish, rice, mala green beans
-Pea soup, hearty bread, pear slices
-Zuppa Toscana, yeast rolls, salad, molasses crinkles 
-Tiny fairy cookies
-Green bean salad with fennel & walnuts
-Apple delight
-Italian vegetable soup
-Chcoolate raspberry truffles

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Cheesesteak Sandwiches, January 27, 2016

I'm not typically very interested in making things like cheesesteak sandwiches, but I do like them every great now and again, so when I found a recipe in a Cat Cora cookbook (Cooking From The Hip), I decided to give them a try. My wife liked hers a great deal more than I liked mine. I guess I should always get them from cheesesteak places, with the ultra-thin meat. These were okay, to me, but not what I hope to eat when I eat cheesesteak. I am actually not posting Cat Cora's recipe because I deviated from it for the sandwiches and stuck to it exactly for the homemade provolone cheese sauce and the sauce was a complete disaster, refusing to thicken and tasting rather like paste. So, here's what I did. I served them with romaine salad, kettle chips, and lime jello with mango chunks.

Cheesesteak Sandwiches
1 green pepper, very thinly sliced
1 orange pepper, very thinly sliced
1 large onion, very thinly sliced
A big pinch of oregano
Salt & pepper
1 1/2 lb. steak, the best you can buy (My wife picked up Delmonicos for this), about an inch thick
4 nice hoagie rolls
Thinly-sliced mozzarella (luckily, we had a pack of pre-sliced in the fridge)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Heat a large skillet that's been coated with cooking spray (you can also use olive oil here). Sauté peppers until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add onion and sauté another several minutes. I like mine just starting to brown at the edges of the slices. Place veggies on a plate and keep warm in the oven. Re-spray the skillet or add more oil. Toss in the oregano, salt, & pepper, cooking for about 30 seconds. Add steaks and cook 5-7 minutes per side for medium rare to medium. Remove from the pan and allow to rest on a cutting board for 5-10 minutes. Slice thinly, then place on bottom halves of hoagie rolls. Top with peppers and onions. Lay a couple slices of cheese across each sandwich. Leaving them open-faced, broil until cheese has melted and buns have begin to brown. Serves 4. 

Baked Pork Chops, January 26, 2016

Last night, in keeping with her January comfort food theme, Jeannene made a really yummy dinner of seasoned baked pork chops (she used some kind of packet for the seasoning and it included a bag, so my clean-up was much easier), potatoes au gratin, and very wonderfully garlicky brussels sprouts. I added dessert to the meal, a really easy and good from-scratch mint chocolate cake. I'm not usually much of a baker and I definitely don't often make my cakes from scratch, but this was super simple. Warning, though---it was SUPER rich, requiring small portions and a mug of milk!

Mint Chocolate Cake
2 c. flour
2 c. sugar
1/4 c. cocoa
1 tsp. instant espresso powder (this brings out the chocolatey flavor)
1 c. butter
1 c. water
1 tsp. baking soda
2 eggs
1/2 c. buttermilk
2 tsp. vanilla
10 oz. bag mini peppermint patties (I like York)
Chocolate frosting (I used Duncan Hines' dark chocolate fudge)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix flour, sugar, cocoa, and coffee powder. Mix water and butter together and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add baking soda. Add flour mixture, then eggs, milk, and vanilla. Spoon into a greased, floured 13x9 pan. Bake half an hour, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Top with peppermint patties and bake another couple minutes. Gently spread evenly across the top of the cake. Allow to cool completely, then frost with the chocolate frosting of your choice. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Salsa Chicken Sauté, January 25, 2016

I was planning to serve the salsa chicken sauté I made last night with just some romaine salad and pear slices, but then my beautiful wife asked if it was going over rice. She loves rice and it sounded great to me, so I cooked up a pot of rice, too. Then, she asked, "Is there cheese on it?" She loves cheese more than she loves rice, so I got a bag of shredded Mexican blend cheese out of the fridge to go along side the sour cream and avocado chunks I'd already laid out to top our meal. This is a really quick and yummy meal.

Salsa Chicken Sauté
1 green pepper, very thinly sliced
1 red pepper, very thinly sliced
Olive oil or cooking spray
2 potatoes, cubed and cooked
3 c. cubed, cooked chicken
1 can corn, drained
1 can black beans, drained
32 oz. salsa (I like Newman's Own Medium)
Sour cream
Avocado chunks

Cook peppers in a very large skillet with either oil or cooking spray for a couple minutes. Add everything but the sour cream and avocado. Stir well. Cover and cook on medium-low heat 10-15 minutes, to heat through. Serve with avocado and sour cream, over rice if desired, with cheese, if desired. You can omit the chicken and just add more black beans, for a vegetarian or vegan (skip the sour cream and cheese) meal. 

Leo's, January 23, 2016

Saturday, we took our wee boy on his first trip to the Detroit Institute of Arts, with his birth mother and his 21-month-old brother. He slept through almost all of it, but he was there! He even got a DIA onesie and a board book featuring Matisse's art.

Afterward, we were pretty wiped out and Jeannene decided she'd like to get dinner at Leo's. She had a  bit of an ulterior motive---they're doing a drive to collect school supplies for teachers in the Detroit schools to have in their classrooms for kids whose families can't afford to buy them and we had picked up some things to drop off there.

We both ended up having breakfast for dinner: French toast, scrambled eggs, and bacon for Jeannene, sausage, egg, & cheese on a biscuit & hash browns for me. While I'm sorry there aren't more farm to table restaurants in our area, I do like the coney islands!

Mulefoot Gastropub, January 22, 2016

My darling wife asked me on a date last week. Our wee boy is still incredibly portable, so we were able to show him off at her plant and then go have dinner at the Mulefoot Gastropub in Imlay City. Mulefoot is a cool little farm to table place that specializes in pork---specifically, pork from the heirloom Mulefoot pig variety. They do pork beautifully, but one of the guys at the plant had mentioned that he was taking his wife out for beer and burgers, so we both had a hankering for a good cheeseburger. Luckily for us, Mulefoot also excels at those. We both ended up getting burgers. I subbed rosemary mashed potatoes for my fries, but they were terribly salty, so I ended up with delicious hand-cut french fries. Jeannene had truffle parmesan fries. The burgers were big enough that we each had half for our lunch on Sunday.

Jeannene almost always gets the smoked trout for her appetizer. I think, though, that they changed the menu. She ordered the roasted garlic, instead, which came in big, beautiful cloves with toast and other accoutrements. She was willing to be generous with her sharing, but I had a cup of scrumptious lentil soup. It was quite a bit smokier and earthier than mine, served in a lovely pottery cup with matching saucer. They have many of the dishes handmade by a guy one town over and they just complement the food perfectly.

I couldn't resist dessert, either. I've been hungry for ice cream and they were offering chocolate ice cream on raspberry French toast with gaufrettes and coffee. I'd not really thought about having potato chips on ice cream or ice cream on French toast, but it was a perfect flavor and texture combo. The portions were fairly dainty, too, so it wasn't overwhelming. I hope they have that on the menu again next time we go!

I can't wait for our bitty boy to be big enough to sample some of these flavors. But, for now, I am content to place him right on the table for our viewing pleasure while we eat. He tends to sleep through most of our outings and people are always amazed at how good he is, so we figure we'll enjoy that while it lasts! The day is coming when dinner out like that will definitely require a sitter!

Dinner with Friends, January 21, 2016

We'd been meaning to get together with our friends, Lisann and Laurel, for months now. Finally, last Thursday, we made it over there for dinner. We had wine and nibbles in their lovely, calm living room, attended by their two sweet pups, with an occasional orange kitty boy sighting. We noshed on splendid cheese, crackers, and a very tasty olive spread and talked up a storm. Dinner was a chicken pot pie with all kinds of lovely veggies in it, along with a beautiful salad and a loaf of bread from Zingerman's. That was all great, but dessert was a real showstopper, a stunning ginger pear cake. It was spicy and wonderful! I believe this is the right recipe---I'll know when I make it!

Swiss Steak, January 20, 2016

Jeannene's been on a real comfort food jag. When she mentioned that she was making Swiss steak, I was very excited. It was one of my favorite childhood foods. The version my grandmom made was a lot more tomato-infused than the version Jeannene learned at her house. Her folks preferred their Swiss steak with lots of brown gravy. The very tomatoey version is my favorite, but my wife's version is pretty fabulous, too. She served it with mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables---what a cozy meal for a winter night!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Lemon Rosemary Pork Tenderloin, January 19, 2016

I loved the ease and deliciousness of last night's dinner. I jumped off from Ina Garten's recipes from her Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics cookbook (which is excellent and beautiful) to make roasted pork tenderloin and a root veggie sauté, which I served along with a Dole chopped salad with pomegranate dressing. It was our first time to try that salad and it was very yummy! 

Lemon Rosemary Pork Tenderloin
Zest of 1 lemon
3/4 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons for me)
1/2 c. good olive oil
7 cloves garlic, minced
The leaves from one sprig of rosemary, minced
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 tsp. Dijon
2 tsp. salt
Several grinds of pepper
2-3 pork tenderloins (about 2.5-3 lb. total)

Mix everything but the pork in a gallon ziploc. Marinate at least 3 hours. Overnight is even better. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove pork from marinade and bake about half an hour, until cooked to 137 degrees in the thickest part (you can also grill it, which I imagine is even tastier). Wrap in foil and let stand 10 minutes before slicing on the diagonal. Serves 4-6. 

Root Veggie Sauté
2 tbsp. olive oil (you can use butter)
1 turnip, diced (about 1" pieces)
2 carrots, sliced about 1" thick
2 parsnips, quartered and sliced
1 largish potato, halved and sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
A good sprinkling of dried thyme (or a few sprigs of the fresh stuff)
A pinch of salt
A good grinding of pepper

Heat oil in skillet. Add rest and stir to coat with the olive oil. Cover and cook on low about 15 minutes, until tender. You can add any other sturdy veggies you like---beets, celery root, Brussels sprouts, rutabaga. Serves 4---or more, depending on what you add!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Glazed Roasted Chicken, January 18, 2016

Yesterday morning, before we headed out to the MLK Day celebration at the Henry Ford Museum, I began to marinate the chicken for our supper. It sat all day in a teriyaki-based marinade, then I roasted it when we arrived home. I served it with the curried rice recipe my mom passed along to me and some green beans. I am still missing my beloved steamer---I really do need to replace it---but I am finally managing boiled green beans that are not overly done (which makes me sad) and not overly crisp (which makes Jeannene sad). The curried rice was as tasty as my mom promised and the chicken was juicy and flavorful.

Glazed Roasted Chicken
1/2 c. teriyaki sauce
4 tbsp. orange juice
3 tbsp. sesame oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
3-lb. roasting chicken
Salt & pepper

Mix the first 4 together. Season chicken with salt & pepper. Place in shallow pan or gallon Ziploc with half the sauce. Marinate 8 hours or overnight. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Bake, breast-up, in a 13x9 baking dish. Bake 50 minutes, covering with foil after about half an hour. Pour the rest of the marinade over the chicken in the last 5 minutes of cooking. Serves 4. 

Curried Rice
3 tbsp. oil (you can use less)
1 small onion, chopped
1 tsp. curry powder
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 c. jasmine or basmati rice
2 c. stock (chicken or veggie works best)
Salt & pepper

Sauté onion in hot oil until translucent. Stir in curry and tomato paste. Add rice and stir to coat well. Add stock, bring to a boil, cover, and cook on low until rice is done, about 14 minutes. Serves 4-6. This would also be good with some cooked chicken or tofu thrown in, as a main course. 

Pasta with Meatballs and Rosa Sauce, January 17, 2016

On Sunday, we were busy celebrating a baptism and shopping for baby clothes and groceries, so we got home a little late for the roast chicken I had planned. Luckily, Jeannene was happy to cook and made the pasta in winter shapes she got in her stocking. She loves seasonal shaped pasta! She combined a marinara and an alfredo sauce and cooked up some Italian sausage meatballs she'd picked up at the grocery. We had a Caesar salad and some terrific 3-cheese semolina bread with it.

Uppity Book Women Potluck, January 16, 2016

Whenever the Uppity Book Women meet to discuss a book, we usually have a potluck supper, as well. This month's book was The Color of Water: a Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride. I had it in my head that I would make soul food and Jewish food, since McBride's mom was Jewish and soul food was mentioned several times. In particular, I thought I might make macaroni and cheese (his sister's specialty) and matzo ball soup (well, Jeannene was going to make that). However, things got busy and I didn't make it to the grocery. It was going to be a small crowd, so I decided just to make mac & cheese, which is always plenty of a meal for me. In fact, I had it for lunch today, with a Cara Cara orange on the side. I'd made my favorite version, just on the stovetop, and plenty of it! You can find the recipe here.

Sue was the only other attendee, so Jeannene whipped out leftover BBQ pork for sandwiches. It was the perfect accompaniment for our mac & cheese. Sue is a baker, and an excellent one, at that, so she decided to make a sour cream coffeecake. This was a tribute to the middle of the night conversations McBride had with his mom over coffeecake. It was delicious!

BBQ Sandwiches, January 15, 2016

Last week was a big crockpot week and I suspect the rest of the winter's going to go the same way. Friday, my dear wife threw a pork roast in the slow cooker with a bunch of sauce ingredients so we could have BBQ sandwiches for supper. While I am generally a little bit of a pulled pork purist (obviously not much of one, since I don't insist on "proper" cooking technique) and don't like the pre-sauced sort, it was pretty good---and she really made me happy by choosing tater tots to go with it, as well as shoe peg corn.

Salmon Cakes, January 14, 2016

I usually make salmon patties once a year, for my first day of Spring meal (along with asparagus and dilled new potatoes). However, I love them and found a different recipe for them---well, for salmon cakes, with potato in the mix. So, I decided to make some last night. Y'all, they just were no good---way too mushy. Maybe if I'd chilled them longer before cooking them or made them smaller, they would have turned out better, but I think I'll stick to my usual recipe, since we are both really pleased with it. I'll just make it more often. If you want to find my good recipe, you can go here. I served these with a really tasty cauliflower gratin and a Caesar salad.

Cauliflower Gratin
1 large cauliflower, cut into florets
3/4 c. each shredded cheddar and Gruyère (reduced fat is fine---I wouldn't use no fat)
Freshly ground nutmeg
2 1/2 tbsp. butter (you can lessen this amount by a bit)
1 shallot, minced
3 tbsp. flour
1 1/2 c. milk (skim is fine)
A splash of dry white wine
Salt & pepper
A handful of panko

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix cheeses together. Cook cauliflower about 5 minutes in boiling water, then drain. Place in a 2-quart casserole. Top with half the cheese. Grate nutmeg over the cheese. Cook the shallot in just a smidge of butter until it's tender. Add the rest of the butter. When the foam subsides, whisk in the flour and cook for a couple minutes, being careful not to burn it. Slowly whisk in the milk, a bit at a time, making sure to eliminate the lumps. Cook just until thickened, a couple more minutes. Add wine and cook another minute or two. Season with salt and pepper before pouring evenly over cauliflower. Top with the rest of the cheese, then the breadcrumbs. Bake 25-30 minutes. Serves 6. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

Chili Mac, January 13, 2016

My wife loves the meat department of any grocery store. She especially loves going to a real butcher. She found some beef ground, on the premises of a butcher shop on her way home from work, specifically for chili, with strands a bit thicker than usual. So, Wednesday night, she made chili mac for us---delicious! We seem to be on a real comfort food kick!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Chicken & Noodles, January 12, 2016

After having wonderful aromas permeating the house all day Monday, I got to have a repeat of the experience yesterday. I had signed up to take some food to friends who were recovering from surgery, in one case, and spending time with a new baby, in the other. So, I just made enough for us to have some of what I was delivering. It was a perfect night for chicken & noodles, all snowy and blowy and generally requiring comfort food. With our chicken and noodles, we had a green salad and peach slices.

Chicken & Noodles
1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cubed
Salt & pepper
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 lb egg noodles, cooked al dente

Put chicken in greased crockpot. Salt & pepper it. Top with soup, cover, & cook on low 6 hours or high 3 hours. Stir to break up any chicken pieces that have stuck together. Gently stir in noodles. If noodles are not freshly cooked & hot when added, cook another 1/2 hour on low to heat through. Serves 6. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

What We Ate Last Week, January 4-11

While the wee boy is snoozing, I thought I'd procrastinate on de-decking the halls a moment longer by playing catch-up here.

January 4-This would have been my granddaddy's 97th birthday. As I do every year on his birthday, I made his favorite birthday dinner, his mom's beefsteak pie. You can find the recipe here. I didn't make any peanut butter cookies this year, though. I served it with roasted green beans, mashed potatoes, and a green salad.

January 5-I went to a Moms' Night Out coloring party, so Jeannene fixed supper. When I got home, I had scrambled eggs, banana pecan chocolate chip pancakes, sausage, and bacon waiting for me. 

January 6-I didn't make my usual Cuban Nochebuena feast actually on Christmas Eve because our older boys were home and neither of them like Cuban food. Yeah, I don't get it, either. So, I made it last week, instead. I made puerco asado, black beans & rice, maduros, and avocado butter lettuce salad. You can find the recipes here.

January 7-Jeannene made soft tacos with Spanish rice.

January 8-Jeannene had gift cards for Olive Garden, so we went there for dinner. She had the stuffed chicken marsala and a beautiful Caesar salad she was nice enough to share. I got full from my bowl of Zuppa Toscana, which came to the table piping hot and with a nice, zingy amount of red pepper. So, my pasta came home to serve as lunches and dinner on the 9th. 

January 9-I was going to make gourmet grilled cheese and sherries tomato soup, but Jeannene had a terrible migraine and didn't feel like eating anything but toast. I decided it didn't make sense to make a pot of soup for just me when I had perfectly good leftover pasta and meatballs in the fridge, so I ate that. I did start the black bean soup for Sunday.

January 10-Our Red Tent Temple gathering was scheduled for Sunday night, but the roads were atrocious, so I encouraged the women who'd planned to come to spend time at home doing things to refill their wells, instead of braving the weather. Since I'd already made the black bean soup, I cooked up some rice and we ate it with the beans ladled over the top, with green salad to accompany. It was perfect for a snowy night! I'd modified the recipe from Crescent Dragonwagon's Downtown Black Bean Soup recipe in her marvelous Dairy Hollow House Cookbook. 

Black Bean Soup
2 quarts vegetable stock
2 c. water (I'd've used more stock, but didn't have it on hand)
3 bay leaves
1/4 c. olive oil
3 onions, chopped
1 large green pepper, chopped (I'd intended to use 2, but one I'd just bought was rotten inside---I would use 2 next time)
1 jalapeño, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. cumin

Bring stock and water to a boil with black beans and bay leaves. Turn down to low, cover, and simmer a couple hours. Sauté the rest in the olive oil until tender. Mix into the black beans and let cook until very tender and well-integrated, flavor-wise. Eat as soup with rolls or bread or serve over hot cooked rice. I like chopped onions on mine. My wife likes sour cream and shredded cheese. Serves 6-8. 

I also made some bar cookies Dragonwagon has dubbed "Fallen Angels," which are very similar to my almost-grandma's "Molly Bars." Dragonwagon suggests adding butterscotch chips, but I used salted caramel chips, instead. My wife thinks the bars are amazing!

Salty Angels
1 stick butter
1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
3 1/2 oz. shredded coconut
1 c. chopped pecans
1 c. salted caramel chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in oven in 13x9 pan. Add graham crumbs in an even layer. Pour milk evenly over top. Add coconut & pecans. Top with salted caramel chips. Press down a little. Bake 25 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting. Makes about 2 dozen. 

January 11- Jeannene made a delicious pot roast in the crockpot, surrounded by scrumptious carrots, onions, and potatoes. 

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Pork Chops & Sauerkraut, January 1, 2016

Every year, unless we're traveling, I make pork chops and sauerkraut for our New Year's Day dinner. Some years, I also make black-eyed peas. I know making greens is also a tradition, but I am not at all skilled at them. I've thought it might be nice, though, to do some greens of some sort, for good prosperity luck. So, I added my favorite kale salad to the menu. We had green beans and mashed potatoes, as well. I like to roast my green beans in a 500 degree oven for about 7 minutes, after tossing them with olive oil, salt, & pepper. For the pork chops, I pat them dry, season them with salt and pepper, and sear them in a hot skillet on both sides. Once they are seared, I top them with well-drained sauerkraut, turn the heat down to low, cover them, and let them cook for about an hour. Sometimes, I let them go a smidge longer and they become fall-apart tender. You can find my kale salad recipe here.

Happy New Year, everyone! May 2016 be delicious for all of us!