It’s National Taco Day

And of course we’re celebrating.

I’ve marinated a skirt steak since noon this morning with all kinds of sensory ingredients. Also put together a little guacomole appetizer after work that consisted
Plus salt and pepper to taste. That kept us full until our fajitas were ready. I took the marinated skirt steak out of the fridge to get to room temperature. of advocados, tomatoes, red onion, cilantro, lime juice and jalapenos.


Stephanie’s Skirt Steak Marinade

  • The juice of an orange
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Paprika
  • Cumin
  • Olive Oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Onion powder
  • 1 shallot
  • Soy Sauce
  • Sea Salt
  • Pepper

You really don’t have to cook a thin steak like this very long, I just did it on the cast iron skillet and probably let it sear on each side for about 2 and a half

minutes each. But again, you can feel the steak to see if it’s to your liking (cooked-wise).

Ours turned out to be a perfect purple color, which is exactly what I was going for (see below).

Hope everyone else enjoyed this taco day to it’s fullest (or your fullest : )

Advertisements

Ideas are like pizza dough, made to be tossed around.

I’m not going to lie, we are pizza lovers…

I wish I would have taken a photo this dough rise. It was humongous! Neal made the pizza dough from scratch and let it sit while we went to get the rest of the ingredients. I saved a chicken thigh from last night and we cooked that down and incorporated it into this dish. Along with many other wonderful flavors.

Neal used whole plum tomatoes, onions, garlic, lots of spices and simmered that until the dough was ready. Then he took the sauce and put it in the food processor to make the mixture more of a sauce. I personally don’t do this with my pizza sauce, but I don’t use the plum tomatoes either. It all depends on how long you cook it for, the longer, the more the sauce has time to break down. We added the chicken, onions, mushrooms, red bell pepper, mozzarella and kalmata olives.

Those beautiful black olives really add an unforgettable flavor to the pizza, if you like them, I would encourage you to add them in for a special treat!

Oh and of course, I always like to add a little health to the situation. So I made a salad, and I’m telling you – never buy dressing again! It’s too simple to make on your own! For this dressing I added balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil. And that’s it!! Whisk that all up together and you’ve got yourself a dressing.

 

Slow Cooker Sunday

I decided early today that I wanted to cook Chicken Cacciatore for dinner tonight.

Yes, let’ just say it’s been a good day for food for us. The recipe I looked at used a whole chicken, but I’m honestly a little scared of taking the whole chicken apart (but I WILL learn and post about it I promise!). So I bought chicken thighs and coated them in flour and Cajun-Italian seasonings, browned them over the stove and threw them in the crock pot with all the other ingredients.

I love cooking in crock pots because the slow cook renders the meat so juicy and tender.  About an hour before the meal was ready, I thought the sauce could be thicker.  So, I spooned it into a dutch oven and let it simmer until we were ready to eat.

I was going to boil some pasta for the starch, but Neal had other plans. He decided to make the pasta from scratch.  It’s actually really simple to make your own pasta. Who knew? All you do is take flour, eggs, and salt. That’s it. You mix those ingredients together, let the dough sit for a bit and then roll it out very thin. Cut the dough into very thin strips and hang them until your ready to cook.

By the way, this turned out great.  Try it for yourself!

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken, about 5 to 6 pounds, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 cup flour
  • Creole seasoning, recipe follows
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions
  • Salt
  • Crushed red pepper
  • 1 pound shiitake mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes, peeled and seeded
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup chiffonade basil
  • 1/2 pound cooked fettuccine or spaghetti (tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper)
  • 4 ounces grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley leaves

Breakfast of Champions

Eggs benedict is such a treat!

And it’s also Neal and I’s breakfast of choise these days so I was delighted to see Neal in the kitchen this morning cracking this out. Like always, it was delish! But how could it not be? Poached egg, bacon, english muffin, hollandaise sauce with a side of home fries!

We splurged a little as we have been running a lot lately; I ran 12 miles this morning (though it should have been more). The thing I always struggle with in making this meal is the hollandaise sauce. But Neal knows how to do it just right.  The ingredients are simple, but keeping the correct consistency is always a bit tricky.  He melted the butter and added the lemon juice and egg yolks to a bowl. To that he put in a pinch of salt and cayenne for a little kick and stirred on over a pot of simmering water for approximately 5-10 minutes. This acted as a double boiler which heats the emulsion perfectly to create a thick sauce. Here’s a tip I didn’t know. Neal removed the pan from the heat occasionally to keep the mixture from cooking too quickly.

Here’s a direction break down:

1. Put the egg yolks in the pan and beat them with a wire whisk for a minute or two until they are slightly thickened.

2. Beat in the lemon juice, water, salt, and pepper until they are well combined.

3. Place the pan over low heat (or use a double boiler) and stir the mixture with the wire whisk until it becomes smooth, creamy, and thicker. You’ve now created the initial emulsion.

4. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the remaining cold butter slowly. (This stops the cooking process.) When the sauce is as thick as heavy cream, you may beat in the butter by half tablespoons. It takes about 5 minutes to create the final emulsion.

5. Serve at once—or keep the sauce warm by setting it over a pan of lukewarm water. Hollandaise is served warm, not hot.

Water you talking about?

I’ve heard that you’re supposed to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day, but who’s keeping count? At work, I”ll keep a 1 liter water bottle at my desk and try to refill once  day.  I’m personally not a water person, as in, I don’t drink a lot of water unless it has a flavor in it. It’s only after a workout that my body craves water, no matter what the taste (not non-taste).  I love the little crystal lite packets you find at that store and am constantly putting them in my water so that I do get my daily dose of water.  

How do you get your fill?

Ce n’est pas une baguette

Just kidding, it is. A few nights ago, Neal made french bread. And I can’t get enough of it. Not only did we have two baguettes, but with some of the leftover bread, we made petit crustinis too!  Bread is Neal’s specialty. 

He bought a baguette bread pan, that as you can see has little holes in it to help the bread cook correctly in the oven.

Neal also boils water on the stove and puts it into a large baking pan underneath the bread while they cook. He says that the steam comes up from the pan makes the bread crusty.

This one really makes a weekend out of bread making. I’m pretty sure Neal started at 9am Sunday morning on this bundle of love and worked it all through the day, at least three beatings, until it was ready to bake. The more you knead your bread, the more air pockets it has. This is what I’ve learned, at least. I’ll have to make my own again soon; my last attempt did not rise as I much as I had wanted it to, but I learned to add a bit more yeast and knead the dough harder. Will share with you soon.

The Sweet Life

As a kid, I used to eat a lot of sweets. Like a LOT. It seems like I ate so many sweets back then that I just don’t crave them anymore. It’s like hearing your favorite song over and over again until you just sick of it and never want to hear it again! Okay, it’s not completely like that.  Every now and then I’ll indulge in something chocolaty.

For example, check out this cake batter and sprinkle bark. This would be a really cute and delicious dessert for a birthday party. I stumbled upon this idea here and thought it looked too good not to share.

Supposedly it’s a quick and easy! I’m going to have to give it a try sometime soon.

Cake Batter & Sprinkle Bark         {click to print}

Ingredients

6 ounces (180 grams) high quality dark or extra dark chocolate, chopped 

12 ounces (360 grams) high quality white chocolate, chopped 

3 teaspoons white cake mix

sprinkles of choice (I used classic jimmies, non-pareils, and my favourite Wilton gold edible star sprinkles)

Method

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

2. Chop chocolate.

3. Melt dark chocolate either in the microwave or a double boiler. If using microwave, place chopped chocolate in a microwave-safe container (I use a Pyrex glass measuring cup), and heat for 20 second intervals, stirring each time with a silicone spatula. Be careful not to burn the chocolate–when there are just a few small bits left unmelted, you can simply continue to stir until it is completely smooth.

4. Pour melted dark chocolate onto your parchment/mat and spread (with a small offset spatula for ease) until desired thickness is achieved. Freeze for 20 minutes to set.

5. Melt your white chocolate. Whisk in cake mix slowly, stirring well until smooth. Let it sit for approximately 3 minutes (or at least until it slightly thickens).

6. Remove pan with set chocolate from the freezer and pour white chocolate on top, repeating the same spreading technique as you did with the dark chocolate. Toss sprinkles on right away. Freeze for 20 more minutes.

7. Once set, break or cut into pieces. Store in the refrigerator.

8. Try not to beat yourself up when you repeatedly sneak and snack on pieces every time you open the refrigerator for something else.

9. Enjoy!

Blog at WordPress.com.