Real Food for Real Life

Friday, October 29, 2010

A new twist on a Cuban favorite...

Picadillo con Frijoles Negros, Arroz Amarillo, y Aguacate
Pasta de Picadillo
One of my favorite, and oh so easy Cuban dishes is Picadillo...think of it like a Latin American sloppy joe or meat sauce, and it can be used as is, or as a filling for empanadas or chiles rellanos.  Normally we have this with white or yellow (saffron) rice, black beans, and avocado, but we had just had rice the night before, and while I was desiring the salty and sweet flavors of the dish, I felt like mixing things up a bit, so I tossed it with a whole wheat farfalle (bow tie pasta, Christopher's favorite shape)...no rice or beans, and the avocado was on the salad served on the side.  Either way you make it, this is an easy and wonderfully tasty dish that you should really try...

Picadillo

1 lb. lean ground beef (I use turkey)
1 tbs. olive oil
1 med. onion, chopped fine
1 med. green bell pepper, chopped fine (I've made it without too)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup raisins
coarse salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 6oz. can tomato paste
2 cups beef broth
1/2 heaping cup small Spanish olives, halved (pimento stuffed or not)

Cook the onion and bell pepper in the olive oil over medium high heat until softened and just starting to turn golden; add the garlic and cook another minute or two.  Add the ground meat and brown it, breaking it up into small bits.  Add the remaining ingredients, except the olives, mix well, reduce heat and simmer for a half hour or so...it will be nice and thick...taste it for seasoning and stir in the olive halves.  If you really like a salty bit, you can stir in a few tablespoons of drained capers.  Use in what ever manner you wish and say yum.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The soup time of year...

Minestrone
 The chill in the air signals that it is time to start making soup...I know, I know, there are all kinds of warm weather, usually chilled, soups, but to me, soup belongs to fall and winter, and as much as I may try to like the "summer" soups, they just don't do much for me.  I have made this minestrone recipe for years and it is most certainly a family favorite...make it a meal with some crusty bread and a salad (and pat yourself on the back for a job well done)...

Minestrone
adapted from Williams Sonoma Soups

1 med. onion, diced
1 tbs. olive oil
2 cloves garlic. minced (2 tsp.)
1 large carrot, diced small
1/4 small cabbage, sliced thin
1 med. zucchini, diced small
coarse salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
1 bay leaf
1 tbs, sugar
1 15oz. can diced tomatoes
6 cups beef (or vegetable) broth
1 15oz. can cannellini or great northern beans
1/2 cup elbow macaroni or small shells (I used whole wheat)
3 tbs. balsamic vinegar
Parmesan cheese, shredded, for serving

Sweat the onion in the oil over medium heat until softened; stir in the garlic, cabbage, zucchini, and seasonings, cook for a few minutes more.  Add the undrained tomatoes and broth, bring to a boil, cover and reduced the heat to simmer for 20 minutes.  Add the pasta and beans (drain if you wish, I don't), bring to a boil, and cook uncovered just until the pasta is cooked al dente.  Stir in the balsamic vinegar and top each bowl with a sprinkling of shredded Parmesan.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Cook once, eat a bunch...

Slow Roasted Pork with Pan Gravy, Hush puppies, and Mixed Veg
 Boneless pork loin is one of my favorite sale items...this lean meat is infinitely versatile, and at $1.99 a pound ($1.77 the following week), one of the more economical protein choices available.  Normally I will cut the loin up into several portions...a small roast, some nice chops, and chunk up the ends...but this time around I roasted the whole thing on a Sunday and then made different meals from the already roasted pork throughout the following week...what a great time saver!  This meat was so tender and flavorful; and while I used a smokey and slightly spicy rub here, the possibilities are endless, just use a generous amount of whatever herbs and spices you like for the rub and then follow the roasting guidelines (you will not be disappointed)...

Slow Roasted Pork Loin

 I whole pork loin (however large you like)
a very generous amount of herbs and spices, use whatever sounds good, I used the same dry rub I had used on my pork spareribs, but added some cayenne.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Rub the pork loin all over with whatever herbs and spices sound delish to you at the moment, just make sure you use a lot; if you have the chance to do this the night before and refrigerate, all the better.  Place the loin, fat side up, in a roasting pan pour a cup of chicken stock into the bottom of the pan, and roast for 10 minutes; reduce the heat to 250 degrees F and roast 20-25 minutes per pound, or until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees.  Remove to a cutting board, cover with foil, and let rest at least 10 minutes before serving.

While the loin was resting I placed the roasting pan over two burners on my stove, and over medium high heat, deglazed the pan with some more chicken stock.  I poured this into a small saucepan, brought it to a boil and thickened it with a cornstarch slurry.  I used this as a sauce over the delicious, tender pork slices...it had an almost BBQ flavor that was very nice with the pork and the hush puppies I had on the side.

One of our favorite uses of the leftovers was to make "pulled pork"...I just shredded some up, topped it with our favorite bottled BBQ sauce (Jack Daniel's Original No. 7), and served it on soft buns...umm, umm, good...

Friday, October 22, 2010

My second product review...

Well, what is it...
It's a 4-pack of Cholula Hot Sauce!!
Let's see...we have Original, Chili Garlic, Chipotle, and Chili Lime...



 I love this unexpected perk of food blogging...being asked to cook with and write about food products, things I love to do anyway.  It does, however, mean that I need to get back to some original and creative cooking...I've still been cooking, but mostly from my quick and easy repertoire...this calls for some recipe creating (and I still have seven bottles of Jarritos waiting in the pantry too!!)...

Funny...there seem to be more peanuts than BEFORE I took out the bottles...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The end of summer...

The last of Christopher's tomatoes...



 The end of summer...its enough to make me cry...soon enough it will be cold and miserable here (at least for me).  This October has been full of crazy weather, high 80's on some days, followed by low 60's, and some of the nights have been in THE THIRTIES...but, this is Ohio and we really can't expect to be consistent...

With the unpredictable weather, Christopher and I harvested the last of our container crops last week.  I pickled more jalapeƱos, dried herbs, and have been cooking with the bell peppers...but that last basket of cheery red tomatoes?  Tomato Pie!!  This simple pie is one of my favorite treats of summer and a fitting way to end the summer tomatoes.  Give this a try if you have any (good) tomatoes lying around and try to make summer last just a bit longer...

Tomato Pie

2 lbs. ripe tomatoes (summer tomatoes are the best)
2 tbs, cornstarch
1 prepared pie crust (purchased or homemade)
1 cup light mayo
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese shreds (I used 2%)
a big handful fresh basil (we grew this too)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Cut the tomatoes into smallish chunks, no need to peel, if there is a lot of the wet, seedy pulp, go ahead and let that fall out; let the tomato rest in a bowl while you prepare the crust, basil, and mayo.  Prepare the crust in a pie plate, sprinkle a handful of the cheese on the bottom and set aside; mix the mayo and the remaining cheese; julienne the basil.  In this time some liquid has accumulated around the tomato chunks...pour that off and toss the pieces with the cornstarch.

Layer 1/2 of the tomatoes in the pie plate, sprinkle on 1/2 of the basil, and drop a bit less than 1/2 of the mayo-cheese mixture in tiny spoonfuls across the top.  Take your fingertips and spread out the mayo a bit for better coverage.  repeat the layer with the remaining ingredients.  Place the prepared pie on a cookie sheet to catch any drips and bake for 10 minutes.  reduce the heat to 350 and bake for an additional 40-45 minutes, or until the juices are bubbly and thick, and the mayo-cheese topping is nicely browned.  Remove from the oven and let rest at least 20 minutes before serving.  Best warm or at room temperature.  This is a wonderful light lunch or dinner served with a green salad, or it makes a great breakfast all on its own...I should know, I ate this for the rest of the week.
Tomato Pie Perfection...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Now that's better...

Jersey Breakfast

Long time no read 8-(   This whole school thing has left me thinking that there just are not enough hours in the day, but after this past week (don't ask), I feel the need to spend some time here...so let's see if I can pick up where i left off (and maybe bank a few posts too)...

After our experiment with The Lipitor Special, I still had better than half of the Taylor Pork Roll left, and not being one to waste anything (not intentionally, anyway), I decided to make the Jersey Breakfast sandwich mentioned in the Wiki post I had read to find out what the blasted thing was in the first place. 
 
I sliced the roll thin, no more than 1/4", slit the edges to keep it from curling, and browned it nicely on both sides.  The pork roll actually crisped up nicely and had a taste (somewhat) reminiscent of bacon.  I layered this on toasted English muffins with fried eggs (no runny yolks) and the remaining white American cheese, which wasn't so bad on its own without the offending Miracle Whip.  These weren't too bad, and while I won't be in a hurry to buy the pork roll again, this was truly the better way to prepare it...and hey, if its on sale, I might just buy it again just to make these...


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