Friday, July 31, 2009

What just happened?

I have a follower, a real follower, for the first time. Upon finding this out recently (30-45 minutes ago), I spent the last 31-46 minutes simply amazed and befuddled.

Having a follower makes me think:
  1. I need to get my crap together so I post more regularly
  2. I need to get my crap together so I actually give the info I was planning to give (meal plans immediately comes to mind)
  3. I need to go back through my posts and update things like I said I was going to
  4. most of all, that I should confess something I've been "hiding"

In regard to #2, in case I hadn't mentioned it with wonder (or at all) previously -- how do Bloggers keep up with what they said in previous posts? I can't ever remember what I posted but stick to a rule-of-thumb: I will try not to post something unless I hadn't posted it previously. Certainly there is exception to that...I'll blog a post of something I've made earlier but have made changes to. That makes it new, right? Isn't that really what I went into this blogging business for, to keep track of changes I make to recipes? So Rodney and I eat a wider variety of foods so we can become healthier people? Keep track of food costs and waste? Ok, so what if those weren't my real reasons. Of course I ultimately wanted to become a world-renowned blogger! How else could I work in my pajamas and eventually rake in enough cash to buy an electron microscope for my apartment? All anonymously, of course.

Back to the point. Thought #4.

My confession: I post-date my posts. It sucks, I know. It defies all GXP requirements which I've been essentially trained to adhere to no matter the circumstances. Post-dating is wrong, illegal, immoral, simply a heinous crime against nature. And yet I do it here. In this corner of my little universe. Maybe this is me defying authority, going against the natural grain of orderly society.

Or more realistically, I'm super lazy and it's convenient to simply rely on the time-stamp of food images I've taken so I remember what new recipe I had tried and was planning to blog about in the first place. My post-dating allows me the ability to avoid skipping a precious post.

So there you have it. My blood. My sweat. My tears. My confession. My rationale. Love it or leave it.

And by the way:

Welcome, Follower #1. If you are wondering if it's you I'm addressing, let me assure you that yes, you are the one. And for you, I'll keep this post real-time. Realizing full-well this may goof you up in regards to keeping up-to-date with my posts.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Indiana Joe's Tater Salad

This image does not do this salad any justice!! I wish you could see it!

Our good neighbor, Indiana Joe, gave us a portion of his batch of potato salad a couple weeks ago in a mayo jar (hurray for Indiana Joe for reusing!). I ate the majority of it straight out of the jar with a fork while standing in the kitchen after finding it in the 'fridge. Rodney did get a few bites.

Well, being an extremely good neighbor, Indiana Joe returned one of our dishes full of more potato salad!! This time, I managed to take a photo before devouring it.

I have to hand it to Indiana Joe: he manages to prepare the potatoes so they aren't mealy or hard and the salad has a good ratio of crunchy-to-creamy. Previously, Rodney and I had agreed during our potato salad discussions that potato salads usually have too much crunchy crap (which requires time spent picking) or they are too creamy. Or they are pickle-y. Or dill-y. Or just plain weird. Indiana Joe has potato salad down!

I told Indiana Joe that he shouldn't be shy about sharing the recipe. As soon as I get, I'll try that recipe and believe me, you'll know all about it (details depending on Indiana Joe's permission, of course).

We're so lucky to have totally bitchin' neighbors! I should include a label for totally bitchin' neighbors. As a matter of fact, I will.

We ate this with some Spice Rubbed Chicken and salad.

I've included a link to a newsletter where Indiana Joe, potato salad extraordinaire, writes about his two-wheeled escapades including his in-and-out-of-death experiences.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Racheros Vegetable Stew

Rancheros Vegetable Stew and garlic bread.

Ever a sucker for pretty food, I just had to try this. As the original photo in a Cooking Pleasures magazine was so beautiful and multi-colored, there were no doubts in my mind that Rodney and I wouldn't be able to get enough of this stuff. So I doubled the recipe.

Here's the recipe, pretty much in it's original form. Click the link if you don't believe me.

Rancheros Vegetable Stew

2 tsp olive oil
1 c chopped onion
1 c diced red bell pepper
1 c sliced zucchini
1 (4 1/2-oz.) can chopped green chiles
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp ground cumin
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 ear corn, kernels removed
1 (15 1/2-oz.) can dark red kidney beans, drained, rinsed
1/4 c reduced-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c chopped fresh cilantro
1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper
Dash hot pepper sauce

Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Add onion; cook, stirring frequently, 2 to 4 minutes or until softened.

Add bell pepper and zucchini; cook and stir 2 minutes.

Add chiles, garlic and cumin; cook and stir 1 minute.

Add tomatoes, corn, beans, broth and salt; bring to a simmer.

Cover; reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 3 to 4 minutes or until vegetables are just tender.

Stir in cilantro, pepper and hot sauce.

Ain't it so purty?

I doubled everything except the green chiles (to avoid Rodney-gastro-attack later). Including the ground cumin, which was the downfall of this recipe. Objectively, the ratio of spice to vegetables was probably spot-on. However, cumin has most definitely been ruined for us since that wacky Cumin Chicken recipe a while ago. Rodney now calls anything with cumin in it "dirt casserole".

Rodney and I both ate a portion of the stew, but the rest, unfortunately, was fed to the worms. IF I should make this again, I will replace the cumin with something Italian-y, like oregano and fresh basil. I bet that would be bitchin'! And I will definitely keep the zucchini slices on the thick side (1/4-3/8" or so) like I did this time. I cannot tolerate mushy vegetables!

Price run-down:
  1. chopped onion =$0.26
  2. diced red bell pepper = $1.29
  3. sliced zucchini = $1.01
  4. green chiles = $0.89
  5. tomatoes = $1.45
  6. corn = $1.18
  7. kidney beans = $0.79
  8. chicken broth = $0.50
  9. cilantro = $0.39
Total: $7.76.

This is a rough estimate. The onion, pepper, zucchini, tomato, corn, and cilantro was enough for a double batch or more. I guess you should just figure that if prices of vegetables are comparable, this won't cost you any more than $8 to make a single or double batch of this stew. If you roll with the fresh basil idea, it might cost you $10. Really what I'm saying is it'll cost between $5-10, depending on whether you do a single or double batch and whether you use fresh greens.

Not much of a help, am I?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Mediterranean Summer Shrimp Salad

Pasta, greens and shrimp are actually tasty together.

An older addition of Cooking Pleasures magazine offered this recipe and I don't know why I didn't try it sooner. Probably because pasta and lettuce, to me, don't sound like they go well together. Salad consisting of a bunch of greens, yes. Salad consisting of a bunch of pasta, yes. Salad consisting of greens AND pasta, no. What's dumb is that I've probably had it before and adored it, but due to brain cell damage cannot recall it.

Since I've been trying to incorporate new foods into our diet, primarily side dishes, salad repertoire has naturally come into light. This one was a plus simply because we have a tendency to buy greens and let them get wilted and dried out, making fantastic worm, rather than human, food.

The only thing I didn't have to make this was capers. I've come across quite a few recipes that call for them and because they sound so "fancy" have avoided them (and the recipes). No longer! I bought capers!

Believe it or not, but this fancy jar of capers was about $3 at Stater Bros., found in the olive and other condiment aisle.

Oh, and I didn't have rotini, which the original recipe called for. I used what I thought would look pretty from my collection of pastas (purchased in a bulk pack from Costco). And because of Rod-steaks stomach intolerance to green peppers, I used red. Just click the link already.

Mediterranean Summer Shrimp Salad

2 oz. (2/3 cup) cellentani
8 oz. shelled, deveined uncooked medium shrimp
1/2 c grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 c chopped red bell pepper
3 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp capers
1 1/2 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 c packed mixed salad greens

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting any salt or fat. Add shrimp during last 3 minutes of cooking; cook until shrimp turn pink.

Be sure to use pasta (brand and style) you've cooked before so you can achieve pasta al dente while cooking the shrimp to completion yet not over-doing it. As this was the first time I cooked this type of pasta, I wound up having to fish the shrimp out of the pasta water as the pasta was not to completion when the shrimp was.

Drain; place under cold running water to cool. Drain well.

If you use tubular pasta, toss frequently as water has a tendency to reside in the interior of the tubes.

Meanwhile, combine all remaining ingredients except greens in medium bowl. Add pasta and shrimp; toss gently to blend well.
If I was in a major hurry, I'd have eaten this as it looked so good! Screw the greens!

Serve over greens.

While Rodney didn't particularly care for this (he was still stuck in the "pasta and greens?" mentality), I LOVED it. Crisp lettuces, dense pasta, shrimp, basil...I was in heaven! So much so that I even remembered to bring leftovers to work for lunch.

I suspect the cost of this is between $10-15 or about $4-5 for each of three servings.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Cole Slaw -- minus carrots

I decided to make cole slaw to go with the remaining sirloin thawed in the refrigerator.

After happily preparing my cabbage, I dug around in the 'fridge for the carrots. I found them, grabbed 'em up, and immediately dropped them. They were MOLDY! Whoever heard of moldy carrots? Usually, they grow their roots and greens, but aren't what I'd consider gross.

So, I made the cole slaw minus carrots.

It tasted ok, but was not at all what Rodney and I considered visually appealing. Anyone who says visuals have nothing to do with food consumption is a fool who will immediately recant any such saying upon an eyeful of this:

Yep, that's the slaw after completion. You want a big helping, don't you? Didn't think so.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Taco Salad by Better Homes and Gardens

Mmm, taco salad!

We have taco salad regularly. Usually we simply do the brown-ground-beef-add-taco-seasoning-and-water-cook-water-down method stated on the back of taco mix packages, then assemble a salad including the beef.

This time, we were steppin' out in Taco Salad Style per BHG. Click the link for the real way to go, which includes how to make tortilla bowls. Otherwise, you'll be doin' what I did:

1 lb. ground beef
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 15-oz can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 8-oz jar taco sauce
3/4 c frozen whole kernel corn
6 c chopped iceburg and romaine lettuces
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 c thinly sliced green onions
1 avocado, pitted, peeled and chopped
1 14-oz can small black olives
3/4 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
A bunch of tortilla chips

In a medium saucepan cook ground beef and garlic until beef is brown.

Drain off fat. Stir in kidney beans, taco sauce, and corn. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare lettuces, tomatoes, green onions, cheese, avocado, olives, and dump some chips in a bowl.

Serve a la carte.

Rodney's first question after assembling his salad was, "Should I use dressing?" I told him the dressing was essentially in the meat, so he proceeded without question.

I thought the dressing was a little bit too sweet. I usually use salsa for dressing on taco salad and in comparison to salsa, the taco sauce was very sweet and a little bit on the too-plentiful side even though the meat was doubled from the original recipe.

Neither of us thought this would be a no-go in the future, yet neither of us were chomping at the bit for me to replicate this exactly. I'll probably cut the taco sauce by 4 oz. in the future. It will reduce the likelihood of my saying "ooh this is too wet and sweet", while affording Rodney the opportunity to drown his salad in Catalina like he typically prefers.

  • ground beef = $2.99
  • kidney beans = $0.79
  • taco sauce = $0.99
  • leaf, iceberg lettuce = $0.99
  • tomatoes = $1
  • green onions= $0.39
  • avocado = $1
This meal cost us $8.15 for items we had to buy. If I were to include items previously purchased and "in the pantry", it'd probably be $10.15. Regardless it gave three servings, each between $2.72-3.38 a serving.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Menu aka food plan 071109

The last time I made a meal plan and grocery list was back in June. I made the plan, shopped for the items on the list and didn't even address what happened.

Well, here's the second ever official plan. I fell off the planning wagon when Mom got into town and stayed off until after she left recently. This post is me climbing back into the saddle and, hopefully, sticking to it.

Sunday: Taco Salad
Monday: Spaghetti with garlic bread
Tuesday: Leftovers?
Wednesday: Kalbi with rice and kimchi
Thursday: Lemon Chicken with sweet potatoes and asparagus
Friday: Chicken tacos with guacamole

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Laventina's Big Cheese Pizza

Laventina's I love you so...

It's been a while since we picked up a nice pizza. And it's been a long while since we had Laventina's. We went with our usual pepperoni, ham, mushroom, onion, and black olive pie.

About $17 OTD including toke. Certainly worth every single penny.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Smoky Barbecued Chicken

Smoky Barbecued Chicken, steamed asparagus and buttered baked yam.

I planned on making some of the usual oven-baked BBQ chicken, but it turned out we didn't have any chili sauce. After some Cooking Pleasures magazine investigation, I found a recipe for BBQ chicken which called for ingredients we had. We don't have a grill so I followed the recipe until the cooking part, where I diverted to the usual oven bake.

Smoky Barbecued Chicken

5 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp molasses
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
1/4 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 whole chicken, cut up
2 tbsp vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Crush fennel with mortar and pestle or by placing them in a heavy plastic bag and pounding them with a meat mallet. Or do like I did and put them in a gallon Ziploc and beat the crap out of them with a rolling pin.

Combine all ingredients except chicken and oil in the maybe not-so-heavy plastic bag you pounded your fennel seeds in.

Add chicken, close bag; smoosh the bag around to coat chicken well. If while smooshing, you see the bag has tiny fennel-pounding-induced holes from which marinade is leaking, put the bag in a bowl and refrigerate 2 to 6 hours, flipping bag occasionally.

Place chicken on foil-lined 15x10x1 baking pan and bake for 35-45 minutes (or until meat thermometer says it's 170°F), turning once or twice.

This stuff wasn't too bad. It sure was sticky! I can see now that I should've done it in the broiler. Regardless, Rodney and I both enjoyed it and will be sure to try it again.  Outside of marinating time, the chicken took about an hour to prepare.

  • whole chicken: $0.77/lb = $3.47