Archive for the ‘recipes’ Category

I’ve tried different carnita-like dishes including the Taco Bell Cantina Tacos, the Del Taco carnitas, carnitas from a local pub and even had the pleasure of enjoying some very authentic carnitas prepared in an actual Mexican restaurant (me and my friend were the only non-Latinas there). I used to not enjoy corn tortillas very much and thusly, I didn’t really care for the carnitas I had tried at Del Taco – but luckily I was lucky enough to try those more authentic well-prepared ones which really got me into the whole cilantro, lime and corn tortilla combo. And also, corn tortillas supposedly don’t have gluten so it really helps me reduce the amount of gluten my body has to deal with.

I was happy to see that my boyfriend had brought back everything that I had asked for in order to prepare these carnitas. The picture of my carnita is very sloppy – this was because I had already eaten two carnitas by the time I found the camera and by then I was tired, full, had very little chicken left, and didn’t bother chopping the cilantro much.

Materials:

  • A fresh lime
  • Fresh cilantro  
  • Chicken, beef or whatever kind of meat you like
  • Salt
  • Chili pepper
  • Garlic
  • Onions

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  1. First of all, decide whether or not you’re going to barbecue (delish!) or cook the meat in the kitchen (stove, oven…)
  2. If you’re going to barbecue it, you really don’t have to do much to the meat in my opinion other than rub it a bit with chili pepper, lime juice and mix it in with chopped garlic.
  3. If you’re going to prepare the chicken in the kitchen, feel free to add whatever seasoning you enjoy. I like to use ginger powder and when I’m really in a hurry, onion and garlic powder.
  4. Toast a few corn tortillas. I don’t use two like you usually see because that makes it to heavy in my opinion but if you like to use two for one carnita that’s pretty much the norm.
  5. Cut the meat into small chunks and mix it in with freshly chopped cilantro, diced onions, a few squeezes of lime, and a dash of salt. Place it on the tortilla. You can also add chili powder and whatever else you would like to add. You can also add the raw onions and cilantro after adding the chicken and then go ahead and squeeze the lime on top of that. I usually do that instead because it’s faster.
  6. I like to add extra condiments like shredded cheese or sour cream. I also added a bit of freshly prepared salsa (well, not really fresh since the tomatoes were canned!).
  7. Fold it and enjoy!

 

The salsa recipe itself is really simple and tastes a lot better than the canned stuff. Since my boyfriend bought the cilantro on sale and ended up bringing back about a garden and a half worth of the stuff, I had to make salsa so it didn’t come to waste. Unfortunately, I still have a lot of cilantro still left…

Just chop up fresh cilantro along with raw onions, add to either a can of diced tomatoes or dice four fresh ones, add some lime juice and whatever seasonings you like depending on how spicy you like it. I added a bit of onion, garlic and ginger powder as well as chili powder and crushed pepper – and a secret dash of that hot sauce with the rooster on it (yes, I know what people call it).

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I was making coleslaw and still had a half a cabbage head left so I thought I would make a hot dish with it. I had already made Korean cuisine-inspired pork cabbage wraps, so I wanted to make something different, in this case, a soupy faux-curry dish. It didn’t exactly start out as a curry-ish dish, but instead I wanted to make a basic cabbage and beef stew. I was going to make dumplings with it, but instead I ended up toasting up a flour tortilla and eating some of it with some cream cheese, and fire sauce from Taco Bell. It reminded me a bit of a dish an Indian woman had prepared me and the tortilla is actually an acceptable substitute for naan bread when you just can’t get a hold of any or don’t feel like baking your own. I had a few servings of the stew this way, then I put it in the fridge to eat the next day. Since I didn’t want to eat the same thing again, I decided to turn it into a pseudo curry, which actually works quite well especially because the cabbage at this point had become almost part of the soup.

Note: If you want to reduce the calories from fat, you can allow this dish to cool in the pot, let the meat fat solidify and scoop it up with a spoon. Or you can render the fat from the meat beforehand by frying it up in a pan and draining it (you can save the fat for other dishes). You may also eat this dish with dumplings or rice.

What you will need…

  • A pound of ground beef (or whatever protein you would like).
  • 1 onion and 2 cloves of garlic.
  • Herbs, spices, curry mix (I like to try different herb combinations, in this case I used thyme, rosemary, chili and a curry powder mix).
  • Half a head of cabbage.
  • Two medium sized potatoes.
  • Sour cream or yogurt.
  • A tablespoon of vinegar (caper vinegar can be used).

How to prepare…

  1. Slice the cabbage into strips and chop the onions and garlic.
  2. Add to a slow cooker (or pot) with the ground beef.
  3. Add enough water to cover 3/4 of the contents in the pot.
  4. Add the curry mix (and whatever other herbs you want) to taste.
  5. Add the vinegar and slow cook for at least two hours. The longer it cooks the softer the ingredients become — it depends on your texture preference.
  6. Dish out, top with sour cream or yogurt, garnish with chives, capers or even roasted nuts.
  7. Enjoy!

Tip: This dish also works well with with a toasted flour tortilla, or if you have it, naan bread. If you are going to use a tortilla, the best kind for a soupy dish like this is a tortilla that is a bit chewy like Guerrero. I like to toast them up where they’re a bit crunchy and puffed up.

Note: I may not post as many reviews/recipes this week because I’m working on two animation projects, though hopefully will be finished by Tuesday. Thanks to everyone who has been keeping up with my blog. I hit 100 views in one day yesterday which I didn’t expect, so thank you to The Impulsive Buy for linking me on one of their pages!

I’ve recently really been craving pizza, and since I really don’t have the cash to be ordering pizza I have been finding other ways of getting my fill. I’ve been preparing a lot of burrito/taco dishes lately and am usually left with a good amount of left over taco meat so I decided to use the left overs to prepare a basic taco pizza. Also, we purchased a heck of a lot of bread the last time we went shopping and I had to use our last loaf of French bread before it became moldy and inedible. These two recipes are so easy and quick that you’ll be enjoying a delicious pizza in no time!

Taco pizza sans extra toppings.

For the taco pizza you will need…

  • A frozen cheese pizza (I found that the Great Value frozen pizzas, or even the Wal-Mart fresh ones work well).
  • Ground beef (half a pound should do).
  • Chili, garlic, salt, and onion powder (or a packet of your favorite Mexican powder flavoring mix).
  • Onions (optional).
  • Garlic (optional).
  • Sour cream.
  • Your favorite hot sauce (Cholula or even Taco Bell’s fire sauce work great).
  • Shredded lettuce, sliced black olives, and any other condiments you may want to add.

How to prepare…

  1. If you’re going to add onions and garlic, chop them up.
  2. Place ground beef in a heated pan with a very thin layer of oil.
  3. Fry up the meat while stirring until most of the fat has melted, then drain it (you can save the grease to make a base for soups or sauces if you wish, but use it within the next day or so or it will start to smell weird).
  4. Add the onions and garlic.
  5. Add the seasoning and mix well. Cook until the onions have become clear and the garlic has become a bit softer.
  6. Place your frozen pizza on a sheet of aluminum foil (you may want to use some Pam on the foil depending on the pizza).
  7. Spread the taco meat evenly.
  8. Place the pizza in a preheated oven according to the box’s instructions. Usually the time mentioned on the box is enough to cook the pizza thoroughly even with this topping, but you can always leave the pizza in a bit longer as long as the crust isn’t turning too dark. If you think it needs more time, you can always place aluminum foil on top of the pizza to avoid further burning.
  9. Add dollops of sour cream and whatever other taco toppings you want.
  10. Slice and enjoy!

    French bread sliced in half.

What you will need for the french bread pizza…

  • A loaf of french bread.
  • Either canned tomato sauce, or diced tomatoes, or even fresh tomatoes.
  • Your favorite cheese/s.
  • Olive oil, garlic salt, onion powder, and favorite herbs such as basil and thyme.
  • Your favorite pizza toppings.

How to make…


After adding tomatoes.

  1. Slice the loaf of bread in half length-wise.
  2. Add the tomatoes. It’s up to you how much.
  3. Lightly douse it with olive oil and sprinkle the seasoning.
  4. Sprinkle the cheese on top (as thickly as you like just beware that the more toppings you have the longer it will take for them to cook).
  5. Add whatever toppings you like, such as capers, ham, pineapple, grilled chicken or beef.
  6. Place in the oven at about 350 degrees.
  7. Let it bake for about 15 minutes. The best way to avoid burning it is to keep an eye on it, or if you really don’t trust yourself, you can place aluminum foil on top after about 5 minutes into baking to prevent the bread from burning.
  8. Let it cool a bit and enjoy!

Before baking.

After baking (turkey, capers, not covered with aluminum foil when baked).

After baking (pepperoncini, covered with aluminum when baked).

I initially wanted to make a tomato sauce dish with the lamb chop I recently bought, but instead decided I would experiment a bit and try something different. I have been wanting to prepare a Stroganoff dish in a while so I decided I might as well make it with lamb since I had the basic ingredients needed for the sauce. And considering I had just purchased three artichokes the day before I decided to cook those as well and enjoy one or two as a side-dish. This isn’t the prettiest dish but I really enjoyed the end result. The sauce tastes a bit like sauerkraut and compliments the richness of the lamb quite well. One thing I would be careful of is the fact that once you top your lamb chop with the sauce, it is a bit hard to see where the bones are underneath. I don’t bother trimming or slicing my artichokes in half when I cook them because I’ve eaten them this way all of my life and it takes no preparation. You may dip the artichoke in mayo, butter, or a mixture of olive oil, vinegar and salt. There are several other dips you can make as well such as mustard sauces.

Tip: You can cook all of your artichokes at once and just refrigerate what’s left over. Artichokes are just as good cold as they are hot, in fact, they’re also quite delicious uncooked!

Lamb chop

What you will need…

  • One or two lamb chops (depending on their size).
  • One onion and a few cloves of garlic.
  • Some sort of fat, such as butter, or meat drippings (you can also collect the lamb drippings and use those).
  • Sour cream (about 5 teaspoons).
  • Some olive oil.
  • Mustard (one and a half teaspoons).
  • Horseradish (about half a teaspoon or more depending on your tastes).
  • Salt, chili or paprika powder and rosemary to taste.

    Chopped onions and garlic

How to make it…

  1. Rub the lamb chop with the herbs and spices. Sprinkle some salt on top as well.
  2. Chop the onion and garlic and place in a pan with a thin layer of olive oil.
  3. Place the lamb chop either in the oven (you can cook the an artichoke wrapped in aluminum foil at the same time) or cook it in a pan. I like my lamb to be cooked medium with a crust on both sides. I cooked mine at 400 degrees and just kept checking it to see when it was cooked the way I like it.
  4. Fry up the onions and garlic on medium heat until they turn transparent and then add about two teaspoons of butter (or meat drippings).
  5. Let the onions and garlic caramelize.
  6. Once the onions have shrunk and have turned a light brown, add the sour cream, mustard and horseradish.
  7. Mix well and allow to simmer on medium-low until the sauce is hot.
  8. Once the lamb chop is ready, place it in a place, then place some of the onion Stroganoff sauce on top.
  9. Enjoy with the side of artichoke!

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We finally did some grocery shopping and I’m very excited to finally have ingredients again to cook. I was getting tired of trying to make different pasta dishes with whatever weird stuff I could find. I have never purchased a whole chicken before, mostly because I thought they would be too expensive, but I found out that one chicken cost less than one little Cornish hen, and sure, the hen may have been healthier if it had been raised properly, but I doubt it. In fact, the two taste exactly the same when prepared this way.

What you will need…

Chicken Cacciatora.

  • A whole chicken.
  • Onions.
  • Garlic.
  • Canned or fresh cubed tomatoes.
  • Capers.
  • Olive oil.
  • Parmesan cheese.
  • Salt.
  • Bacon.
  • Thyme and rosemary.

How to make it…

  1. Chop the garlic and place it in a pan with a teaspoon of olive oil. Allow it to brown a bit.
  2. Add the onions and let them cook until transparent.
  3. Chop the bacon and add that as well.
  4. Keep stirring until the bacon cooks for a few minutes and add in the herbs.
  5. Take a third of the onion mix and stuff it inside the chicken. Place a couple of capers under the skin.
  6. Place the chicken in a big pot, dump in a large can of diced tomatoes, or chop up 4 tomatoes and add two cups of water.
  7. Add a teaspoon of salt and a couple of more pinches of rosemary and thyme as you see fit.
  8. Turn on the heat to medium and add a teaspoon of capers (or more, if you like) and half the jar of the capers’ vinegar.
  9. Wait for the sauce to begin to boil around the chicken and then turn it to low and cover.
  10. After an hour, flip the chicken around. You may want to baste the chicken with the sauce every 15 minutes to allow it to absorb the flavors.
  11. Let it slow cook for a few hours. The longer you cook it, the more tender and blended the flavors become.
  12. Place some of the chicken on a plate along with some of the tomatoes and sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan.
  13. Eat up!

Tip: You can always brown the chicken with your preferred method before slow cooking it. Remember that you can always place the left overs in a slow cooker or back in a pot to reheat. The best thing about slow cooking is that you don’t really need to pay much attention to it especially if you use a slow cooker! Just dig in when you’re hungry.

Since we didn’t do any grocery shopping until today, yesterday and the day before I had to come up with something that my boyfriend would enjoy once again with what little we had left in the apartment. Technically we could have survived another couple of days if not a month with what we had, but I guess he would have gotten a bit tired of eating pasta. The second dish was my attempt at making something that would look like mac-and cheese without using cheese (since we were out).

Pasta all’Aglio

What you will need…

Pasta all'aglio olio e pepperoncino

  • Spaghetti (I usually go for the thinnest).
  • Garlic.
  • Crushed chili pepper.
  • Olive oil.
  • Rosemary.
  • Thyme (my mom usually would use fresh parsley but this is all I had).
  • Salt.

How to make it…

  1. Chop the garlic (two cloves should do) and place in pan with olive oil.
  2. Cook on medium-low heat until the garlic is crispy and brown on the edges. Don’t burn.
  3. Add the herbs in the oil as well and turn the heat off. Add two pinches of salt and the chili pepper.
  4. Boil up the spaghetti (mixing often to prevent sticking) for the amount of time mentioned on the box.
  5. Drain the pasta and place in pan with oil.
  6. Mix well and taste to make sure it is salted enough.
  7. Place some in a dish and enjoy!

Tip: This is a very simple dish that only takes minutes and requires very little preparation. If you wish you can cook up some vegetables separately and even add some bacon to mix in!

Creamy Tomato Garlicky Pasta

Creamy Tomato Garlicky Pasta

What you will need…

  • Penne.
  • Garlic.
  • Crushed chili pepper.
  • Onion.
  • Salt.
  • Vegetable tomato juice such as V8.
  • Heavy whipping cream.
  • Thyme.
  • Rosemary.
  • Butter.

How to make…

  1. Boil the penne according to the instructions (with a pinch of salt).
  2. Fry up the garlic and the onions as explained in the above recipe but replace olive oil with butter. Also add the herbs.
  3. Add a cup of V8 and a cup of cream.
  4. Add the chili pepper and let it simmer for 20 minutes on low. To speed up the process you can mix two teaspoons of corn starch with cold water and melt it thoroughly then place in the sauce to help thicken.
  5. Once the sauce is as thick as you like, mix in the pasta. You can add Parmesan cheese too add a nice cheesy touch to it.
  6. Dish it out and enjoy!

Tip: Remember, you can always add whatever extras you want. I used minimal ingredients because we were completely out of food, but this dish would be great if you added broccoli and even Brussels sprouts or bacon to the onions and garlic.

Close up of the soup.

I know, another polenta dish, and really, I had grown tired of eating polenta. But you see, we ran out of food and only had a few things left in the kitchen, so I decided to try and cook something up and see if I could make anything that was edible. So I decided to take whatever I had in the fridge and cupboard to see what would come out. I was actually amazed that I had enough ingredients to make something I actually wanted seconds of. The only problem is, this stuff is way too filling for me!

What you will need…

  • About 3/4 of a cup of some kind of fatty meat drippings such as ground beef or lamb.
  • An onion.
  • A clove of garlic.
  • Thyme.
  • Vegetable juice, like V8.
  • Rosemary.
  • Olive oil.
  • Corn starch.
  • Salt.
  • Heavy whipping cream.
  • Spinach.
  • Your favorite cheese.

How to prepare…

  1. Chop the onion and garlic.
  2. Dribble a bit of olive oil into a pot and turn up the heat to medium-low.
  3. Place the onions and garlic in the pot and allow the onion to turn a bit transparent while browning the garlic.
  4. Add thyme, rosemary and salt to taste.
  5. Add the fatty drippings into the pot and turn it down to low. Let it simmer for 15 minutes while stirring occasionally.
  6. Cook further if the onions need more time to caramelize. They should be turning brown and shrinking a bit (you may shorten the cooking time if needed but it won’t be as flavorful).
  7. Add about 2 cups of v8 to the pot together with 1 cup of cream. You can add more cream if you like it to be creamier, but it will make it heavier also.
  8. Add the spinach.
  9. Mix two teaspoons of corn starch into a cup with cold water and make sure to work the lumps out.
  10. Slowly add the corn starch mixture into the pot while stirring to avoid creating lumps.
  11. Keep stirring for 8 more minutes to allow the corn starch to thicken.
  12. Scoop up some polenta and place it into the middle of the bowl.
  13. Pour as much soup as you like on top of the polenta and place the cheese of your choice on top of that.
  14. いっただきます! (Ittadakimasu– Bon Appetit!)

Tip: If you want to try slow cooking the soup over several hours on low, or even in a slow cooker, you will get a deeper and more blended flavor. You can always add meat to the dish if you would like. Instead of adding the drippings, you could use half a pound of 15% fat ground beef.

Top view of the soup.


Boiled polenta with grilled lamb, salt pork tomato sauce, and brie.

I really love lamb, and I really love polenta. So I decided I’d make a dish out of it. First I started buying those weird pre-made polenta things which had an odd consistency and didn’t have much flavor. Then I finally found polenta meal hidden in the baking isle at Save Mart. So this is the result.

Note: I don’t really use measurements myself because then I can’t customize my meals to my tastes. You should always make the dish to your specifications. Some people like saltier food, some like blander food, and others like spicier food. The easiest way to cook is to keep tasting your food and invent as you go along.

Substitutions: You may substitute the lamb for steak or any other red meat. You can also substitute the salt pork for your favorite bacon. If you like, you can use some milk in the polenta, or even some butter, or olive oil. If you really like you could make a ratatouille-like tomato sauce. The more vegetables, the better! If you really can’t find polenta, you can use the kind of corn meal you use to make corn bread. It is a little finer but it does make for a creamier dish.

You will need…

  • Polenta.
  • Canned tomatoes (crushed or whole if you wish).
  • Salt pork.
  • Capers (if you want).
  • Two lamb chops.
  • Onions.
  • Garlic.
  • Cheese of your choice.
  • Any combination of thyme, rosemary, basil, and pepper.
  • Olive oil.
  • Salt.
  • Bell peppers.

How to prepare…

The polenta.

It is easier to prepare this dish if you prepare the polenta before hand. I usually cook everything at once because it doesn’t take nearly as long, but if you’re not used to cooking multiple items that need constant attention then I suggest you don’t try it yet.

  1. Pour water into a preferably non-stick pot. It is up to you how much you want to make. I usually make as much as I can and refrigerate the left overs to fry another day.
  2. Put the pot on the stove. Do not turn the heat on yet.
  3. Pour the polenta into the pot. I don’t measure how much, but usually try to keep it to 3/4 of the amount of water in the pot. Remember that you can always add water to the polenta if it needs further cooking or is still too hard.
  4. Set your heat on medium and begin to stir right about the time it begins to boil.
  5. Put a couple of pinches of salt in.
  6. Keep stirring.
  7. You may add herbs or dried tomatoes to the mix if you wish.
  8. Keep tasting the polenta to see if it has reached a desired consistency. It should be creamy though it will have some firmer bits in it. It usually takes around 30-45 minutes. Keep cooking it and adding water until it is as creamy as you like. Remember that if you add more water to keep cooking it until it is mostly evaporated and the polenta has an almost putty-like consistency.
  9. Once the polenta is the way you like it, turn off theheat and leave it uncovered (if you want it to firm up) or cover it up (to keep it softer).

The sauce and lamb.

  1. Chop the onions, garlic and bell peppers and cut the salt pork into cubes.
  2. Put enough olive oil in the pan to thinly cover the bottom.
  3. Turn the heat on medium and allow the oil to heat up.
  4. Dump the vegetables into the pan and allow them to cook until the onions begin to turn transparent and the garlic begins to brown. Do not burn the garlic.
  5. Dump the herbs in and saute` a bit longer and then dump the salt pork in and cook it up until it browns a bit.
  6. Open the canned tomatoes and pour it in the pan quickly being careful not to make the oil splatter.
  7. Put as many capers as you like. I also like to pour some of the caper vinegar in the mix.
  8. Wait until the tomato sauce begins to bubble and turn the temperature down to medium low.
  9. Cover with a lid and allow it to slow cook for 30 minutes or so.
  10. While the tomato sauce is cooking, fire up the grill and put your lamb chops on it. It is up to you how well done you want the lamb chops to be. If you don’t want to grill the lamb you can always cook them in the tomato sauce. This will make the sauce a bit more fatty but it will definitely give it a nice flavor.
  11. Add salt to taste making sure to periodically taste the sauce to prevent over-salting. You may also add more herbs if you wish.

Tip: Don’t worry about making too much polenta, you can always either fry it up, or bake it. Also, be careful when salting this dish because salt pork itself will do a good job of salting it. DO NOT over-salt the polenta. An insipid polenta with a salty sauce is better than having it the other way around. I made the mistake of over-salting the polenta and ended up having to put it back in the pot and add more polenta, cooking it longer.

How to put it together…

  1. First take a ladle and scoop up as much polenta as you like into a dish.
  2. Then place the lamb chop/s on the dish and then ladle the tomato sauce on top of both making sure to get a good amount of vegetables and salt pork on top.
  3. Add your favorite cheese on top.
  4. Bon Appetit!

Tip: Not that I’ve tried it, but it may be possible to cook polenta in a rice cooker. It works with quinoa, so why not with polenta!?

This is a type of dessert I’ve enjoyed my whole life. It was definitely the number one treat me and my brother, and even my dad would ask my mom to prepare, usually for breakfast. I’ve never craved something so much as these cheesy, chewy, crunchy, fried honey covered delights!

You will need…

  • Won-ton skins of whatever size or thickness you prefer.
  • Your favorite cheese (I would recommend either a dry mozzarella, Monterrey jack, or even cheddar — brie or cream cheese would be good too).
  • A bit of water.
  • Your favorite honey.

How to prepare…

  1. If you’re using a harder cheese such as Monterrey jack, shred a good amount into a bowl. If you’re using a soft cheese like brie make sure to remove the skin.
  2. Lay down a won-ton skin on a clean plate and dip your finger in the water. Then carefully wipe the edges of the won-ton to soften them.
  3. Put the cheese inside the skin. Make sure you don’t put too much otherwise it will ooze out. The best way to master this is to keep making them until they come out perfectly.
  4. Close it up by folding it in half and press down on the edges. To seal it in completely you should make little folds. There are several different techniques for this. Here is a good example on how to do it.
  5. Heat up a pan with about a quarter of an inch of oil in it.
  6. Once the oil is hot (you can test it by dropping a small piece of won-ton skin in the oil to see if it bubbles) drop the cheese things in the oil.
  7. Once they puff up you can look underneath to see if they’re golden brown. If not, let it fry a bit longer. Then flip it over and let the other side fry.
  8. Place them in a plate with paper towels to soak up the extra grease.
  9. After a few minutes place in another dish and pour honey on top. The cheese things need to be hot enough to melt the honey.
  10. Enjoy!