Friday, November 21, 2008

Lazy Cook = French Everything!!

It was cold yesterday.. woke up to freezing drizzly yuck.... By the time I schlepped thru my day and made it home to The Hub, who returned from a business trip that afternoon, I was cold, cranky, and ready for a hot, substantial, comforting dinner... Enter the french dip and fries!

I had french bread in the freezer, so I grabbed some deli roast beef on the way home and heated it in some beef stock on the stove while the frozen french fries were cooking in the oven, and then layered the roast beef on pieces of french bread (french bread, french fries, french dip... See a pattern here, Oui?) with some white cheddar and let them get melty inside and crusty outside before serving them up with a heap of fries and the warmed beef stock for dipping...
Just what the culinary doctor ordered - and about 20 minutes after entering the casa, we were sitting down over piping hot dinner... Yay....

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Stolen Moments - Fried Dill Pickles

I admit it - I am a lover of pretty much ALL bar food... the more deep-fried, the better...
fried dill pickles, as far as I'm concerned, are tiny little bites of heaven waiting to dive into a vat of ranch dressing... I never really considered making them at home, and goodness knows I love a good "bar food at home" night plenty, so...
This looks like a great recipe from Cooks Like a Champion for some fried dill-pickle-y goodness...
And goodness knows I want some now...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sunday Dinner, Stacked pork Enchiladas

Sunday dinner is kind of tradition for us and another couple in the neighborhood... we haven't done it in a while, but in the past we would trade off going over to each other's houses for dinner on Sunday evenings - nothing formal about who made what or when, sometimes we'd skip a week or two - but if it worked out we would get together Sunday evening for a meal and kind of cap off the weekend in a nice way...
Last night they came over and I made stacked pork enchiladas and spanish rice...

I cooked pork stew meat in the slow cooker on low for 9 hours in a mixture of cumin, garlic, and chicken stock, then drained it out and shredded it:

I mixed monterey jack and sharp cheddar cheese into the shredded meat:

Starting with a layer of canola spray and then corn tortillas, I layered the filling with the Enchilada Sauce I made and froze last week (I did thin it out with some more chicken stock, and then thicken to the consistancy I wanted with corn starch slurry so it wouldn't be QUITE so spicy this time around.. ) I covered the top layer of Corn tortillas with the end of the sauce and more of the mixed cheeses and baked the casserole for 45 minutes at 350.
I served it with simple store brand spanish rice, my uber-tomato-y guacamole, sour cream, and chips and salsa... It was yummy - however my girlfriend and I agreed that with all the cheese and tortillas to balence it out, the hotter version of the sauce that The Hub and I ate on our pork chops last week probably wouldn't have seemed quite so hot... live and learn...
Sunday dinner with good friends really is a great way to squeeze out the last bit of weekend fun while relaxing and gearing up for the week ahead... I hope we do it again soon. :)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Lasagna Spaghetti...

I love a good lasagna.... So does The Hub.
Actually, his standard order at one of our local favorite eateries is the Lasagna Pizzetta - an individual pizza with lasagna fixings on top.

Building on that idea, I occasionally take all of the yummy lasagna filling ingredients and add them to some cooked spaghetti and stir it all up into a deliciously easy way to get the taste we love without all the assembly of homemade lasagna... Last night we had Spaghetti with maranara sauce, ricotta, mozzarella, and italian sausage...I mixed it all together and grated some parmesan over the top of it right in my (oven safe) dutch oven and stuck it under the broiler for a minute or two to get some bubbly brown cheese on top... I had leftover baby squash (The Hub skipped the veggies) and of course we had garlic bread...

All the yummieness of homemade Sunday lasagna, but in busy weeknight time!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Stolen Moments - tiny tacos

Last night was good old "Burgers and Frings" night... The Hub loves a local place that uses smoked cheddar on their burgers, so I have taken to using smoked cheeses on ours at home...
Last night was smoked Gouda and it certainly was Good-uha.. (ha ha).. A mix of easy-not-healthy frozen fries and onion rings completed the pub-at-home meal.... mmmmmm...

It isn't a recipe, just an idea - but how much fun is the tiny taco sampler featured in this entry of Design Sponge (Scroll past the cutie patootie tea towels). Those are genius for a party, although I have sworn that I won't do anything that even hints at a latin flavor for the holiday party.. (I did a Latin theme for my birthday party this year..)

They will have to go in the back of the idea folder tho - because they are way too cute and fun!!

Monday, November 10, 2008

WOO - Pork Chops EN Fuego!!

...So in my high school days, I worked in the kitchen at a fabulous family-owned mexican restaurant in my little home town (before it turned into a horrifying sprawling suburb).. really great Tex Mex has always been a favorite for my whole family, and since I am married to a transplanted Texan, I find plenty of reasons to whip up something south-of-the-boarder inspired pretty regularly..

I recently decided that I wanted to start making my own sauces, and bringing some of what I remember from my restaurant days back into my kitchen... So yesterday I decided to make enchilada sauce to serve over porkchops and rice... I found a recipe that seemed similar to what I remember making at the restaurant, and figured I would tweak it as needed when I was making it...
The recipe:

1 1/2 Tbls olive oil
1/4 cup flour

combine over heat to form a pale roux and then add:

1 small can chilies in adobo sauce, minced plus 1 teaspoon adobo sauce
1 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder...

Heat to a boil, drop to a simmer and allow roux to thicken sauce....


Sounds devine, right? So I whipped it up and poured it over two porkchops that I cooked in the slow cooker with some chicken stock and some adobo sauce from the can of chilies - and served it with some store bought spanish rice.

HOLY 5 ALARM PORK CHOP, BATMAN!!! That sauce was hotter than hellfire!! Don't get me wrong, it actually had amazing depth of flavor - but GD it stung like crazy! The Hub was loving it, but eating rice like crazy, and glistening like we were sitting on a porch in Houston in July!!

It made a good amount of sauce, so I froze the rest and when I thaw it I think I will add a bit more stock, and some cumin to up the smokey flavor and thin out the heat just a bit... this stuff was not for the faint of heart - but it was a GREAT starting point.

Mui Caliente!!

PS - We sent the evites for our holiday open house today, so I look forward to posting about menu ideas and decisions soon.. stay tuned!

Friday, November 7, 2008

stolen moments - Carmel Apple Cupcakes

The baker-girl of my group of fabulous friends has been feeling super-crummy this past week, and I hate the thought of her sunny-self being even a wee tiny bit uncomfy.. :(
In her honor, I give you this stolen moment from an Indie Fixx guest blogger.. Carmel Apple Cupcakes...
Perfect for fall, perfect to share with your girlfriends, perfect weekend baking project for puttering around the kitch...

Feel better soon, Auntie K - we all love you!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Self High-five - yummy Gyros

Made Gyros for dinner last night, and they turned out amazing!! The Hub kept saying "this is REALLY good" every few bites, and I will be incorporating this into the rotation of things we have once a month or so for sure!!

Midway thru dinner, The Hub said "did you take a picture of these?" (He seems to think they were blog-worthy) and looking down at our devoured dinners I was bummed that I had not...

To make them I used 3 pretty scrawny lamb shoulder chops, which I cut the bones out of and diced into cubes (about 3/4 inch square). I browned the cubes on all sides and sprinkled with salt, pepper, and oregano, then removed the skillet from the heat and covered while I sauteed a chopped green pepper (and some chopped white onion and fresh tomato in a small skillet, just for me)..
I heaped the meat and veggies on a big plate, squeezed some lemon juice over the meat, and served with a pile of warm pita bread and (since I forgot to grab the ingredients for Tzatziki ) a small bowl of ranch for The Hub to drizzle over his (I don't like sauce on my Gyros) - he seemed to really like the ranch, I would probably just use it next time too, and skip the added step of making sauce...

A few things that I think really made the difference between last night's dinner and other times I have made gyros:

-I really concentrated on not overcooking the meat - I just browned each side and then covered and let the leftover heat in the pan do the rest - so it was tender-as-could-be...
-I kept the seasoning simple... just the oregano with some S&P let the flavor of the meat come through - in the past I have used a mix of seasonings - but lamb has such a distinct flavor and we both enjoyed being able to taste it..
-Using shoulder chops and cutting the meat myself.. in the past I have used lamb stew meat, which could come from any part of the lamb - tough or tender, flavorful or bland... The shoulder meat was perfection!

With the addition of a big Greek Salad with plenty of feta and olives, this will be a Sunday dinner with friends in the not-too-distant future, I am sure... it would be easy to feed a crowd and it is sure to please everyone!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Back in the saddle...

Ok ok ok... Pickings have been a little slim around eatdrinkandbekeri lately - but only because action in the kitchen has been limited..
But I am back in a big way this week, kiddos, I promise!!

Last night I made lasagna pizza topped with ricotta, pepperoni and motzerella for dinner (I did use pilsbury pizza dough to make things easy, but who can resist a picture of the dough-boy anyway?)... The Hub is a big fan of a "Lasagna Pizzetta" from a local joint (or local chain now, I guess) called Pasquini's, so I figured it would be a hit... it was!! And the dough boy makes a pretty darn good pizza crust for that kind of dish - it was a bit bready, but for the weight of the toppings that actually worked out really well!!

Coming up this week:

Fish and Chips
Beef Tips
BBQ Chicken wraps

I promise to cook up a storm and get this place hoppin' again!!