Creative ideas

So we go to Costco every couple months and stock up on the basics. Our past few visits we have been looking for these chips that Jim’s mom tried at his sister Lauren’s house, but we have been unlucky. However, with this trip we ended up finding them. 🙂 We decided to get a bag for ourselves since we had been looking for them for so long. These chips are awesome and you should definitely try them if you can get your hands on them.

IMG_1843

 

You may be wondering why I keep going on about these chips and it is because they were the inspiration for our next meal. Of course we went to Costco and bought a bunch of stuff, but not much that we could actually use to make a meal. This forced us to be creative. Jim had a wonderful idea of using the chips as a breading for our chicken breasts (I know, who actually thinks like this?). It sounded like a great idea so we put the chips in the food process and got started.

IMG_1845 IMG_1846

 

This by itself seems a little boring so we decided to make a black bean sauce. The resort we used to work at in Arizona has a great black bean dip that Jim loves so much I got the recipe from the chefs. Much to my surprise they told me it is just canned black beans, sour cream, and salsa. So we threw all of that into food processor and had a great sauce and we had enough leftover to eat as a dip later.

IMG_1844

 

Of course we also needed a side dish, we had rice and broccoli so I took to Pinterest and got some ideas. I decided to go with this recipe, http://mommasmuffins.blogspot.com/2013/07/baked-cheddar-broccoli-rice-cups.html , because I have been a little obsessed with the muffin tin lately. We didn’t have any shredded cheese, but we had a bunch of provolone sandwich cheese left over so I cute that up using scissors. Yes I know this may sound a little odd, but kitchen scissors are very useful sometimes, try using them if you ever need small bacon pieces. Luckily it was a pretty easy recipe that required few tools because Jim was using most of the kitchen. For some reason when I mixed all of the ingredients together it seemed really soupy.

IMG_1847

 

However, I decided to go with it since the egg should help it thicken up with it is cooked. While putting it in the muffin tin I tried to make sure that each section had a good amount of sauce.

IMG_1848

 

Here is what they looked like when they came out of the oven:

IMG_1849

 

As you can see I saved some of the provolone and put it on top. I did this at the very end of the cooking and turned off the oven and left the tin in there so it would just melt on top. If you do it when the oven is still on the cheese will get crispy, which isn’t something we normally like. Here is what the final product looks like:

IMG_1850

 

 

As a whole it was a great meal. However, there are a few changes we would like to make. This frequently happens when you randomly put items together. In the future, we will pound the chicken to make it more tender and to increase the chip to chicken ratio. We still need to work on the ratios of the ingredients in the black bean dip, but that just comes with time. The broccoli rice muffins had good flavor, but they were definitely missing something. I will probably add garlic and herbs next time and something to fix the consistency. I will post about it on my next attempt.

Chorizo and Egg Tacos

 

 

Sorry it has been a while since I have posted anything. I guess starting a new job and a blog at the same time is hard to maintain. However,this cooking experience is one of the main reasons I started this blog because it was Jim and I being creative with what we had.Jim and I are kind of obsessed with breakfast foods,but we rarely like to eat much in the morning so we end up eating breakfast for dinner more than most. Each of you should try it sometime. Traditional breakfast foods can be great and quick. This food adventure all began with a tube of chorizo that we randomly decided to buy at the grocery store. Image

Chorizo can be intimidating if you do not have much experience with it, but it is amazing. Chorizo is commonly used in Mexican cooking and is something I learning more about. One thing to keep in mind when cooking with chorizo is the greasiness. If you would like to limit the grease you can par-cook the chorizo and drain off some of the grease. 

 Image

 

 

 

 

 

So we start most of our recipes with sauteed onions. Jim prefers red onion, but I am working on getting him to branch out after reading an article on the flavor advantages of using the correct onions. If you would like to learn more about onions and which ones to use this website: http://onions-usa.org/all-about-onions/colors-sizes-seasons-and-flavors is very useful.

Image

 

So this picture may not be necessary, but since this is the first time I am writing about a meal that did not involve a recipe. I have always loved potatoes, but I hadn’t cooked with them much until I met Jim. I am not sure if it is his Irish heritage or he just loves potatoes, but I think we have potatoes involved with at least three meals throughout the week.What I like most about potatoes is versatility and ease. If you are looking for a new quick side dish try this: http://whatsgabycooking.com/parmesan-roasted-potatoes/#.UnxV6fmsim4

Image

 

We put the raw potato in the pan with the sauteed onion,  salt, and pepper with two tablespoons of oil and crisped them. You can cook the potatoes to your liking.

 

Image

 

 

This is what ours looked like. We wanted them to be a little brown and soft enough to put a fork in. 

 

 

 

ImageImage

 

Then we added the chorizo. I always think chorizo looks a little funny and at this stage the grease kind of creeps me out, but I know that once we mix the eggs in it will be perfect. 

 

ImageImage

 

The eggs completely soak up all that flavor. It is kind of like cooking eggs in the same pan as your bacon grease, which if you have not tried I highly recommend. However, if there is a ton of grease remember to drain some off our your eggs will have a weird consistency. 

 

Image

 

Then we added bell pepper. Jim did this later because he wanted the bell pepper to maintain its own flavor and not be overwhelmed by the chorizo, 

 

Image

 

Of course we added cheese. 🙂 I am pretty sure that we add cheese to 90% of our food. This time we used grated queso quesadilla, which we had left over from a prior meal.   

 

Image

 

We covered it to melt the cheese and we were done. We decided to serve them taco style on soft tortillas. This meal was great and the flavors blended perfectly. 

Pork Chops au Poivre and Cheesy Spaghetti Squash Casserole

I do intend on posting more frequently, but we have been working almost every day. Working so much has made me extremely excited about having a good home-cooked meal. Until recently, I did not like pork chops and whenever I did eat one I would COVER it in ketchup. However, after trying a couple different ways of cooking it I am starting to love it.

I have definitely hopped on the spaghetti squash bandwagon and I got a great one from the farmer’s market. I took more pictures of the spaghetti squash process than I will in the future because I know many people are unfamiliar with it. As I usually do, I made a few alterations to the original recipe (http://detoxinista.com/2013/02/cheesy-spaghetti-squash-casserole/) The original recipe calls for goat cheddar, which I could not find in the store. I probably could have gone to a specialty health food store, but I was feeling somewhat lazy. I also used all of my cheddar on the last recipe so I used some mozzarella that I had on hand, which changed the appearance, but not the taste. I also added two extra cloves of garlic because as you will see Jim and I agree that there is never too much garlic. I also used sour cream instead of Greek yogurt because when I have used Greek yogurt in similar recipes it created a weird taste.

IMG_1784

For those of you that are unfamiliar with spaghetti squash here are the steps to cooking it:

  1. cut in half lengthwise
  2. remove the seeds like you would from a pumpkin, but be careful not to remove too much of the squash
  3. place the squash in a large dish ( I use a 9×13 inch casserole dish) with the inside of the squash down with about an inch of water
  4. microwave for 15-20 minutes (you can soften it in the oven, but I like to save time with the microwave since it doesn’t affect texture or taste)

IMG_1785

Once the squash is soft take a fork and strip the squash down. If you reach a point where it is too hard you can re-microwave and continue. You can scrap the squash out until you reach the hard outside.

IMG_1786IMG_1787

Once the squash is ready, I just mixed all the ingredients in a bowl and placed it in a casserole dish. I do not top the dish in cheese until the end because Jim and I do not like the texture it makes the cheese. Once the casserole was finished, I left it in the oven on warm. I planned it this way because I knew the pork chops needed to stay warm while I made the sauce.

IMG_1789 IMG_1791

On to the pork chops, when I found the recipe (http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/pork_chops_au_poivre.html) I decided to look up what au Poivre means so I could learn new cooking concepts. I found out it means with pepper. This made me laugh because it is so simple. However, this knowledge was useful because I knew not to skimp on the pepper. With Jim’s suggestion, I pounded out the pork chops so they would properly fry. Therefore, I covered the pork chops in pepper and dredged them in flour.
IMG_1790 IMG_1792

The next part was left to Jim because he has an amazing ability to fry meat. I can do it as well, but for some reason it never turns out as good. The recipe only calls for two tablespoons of oil, but as Jim says “people are crazy to think they can properly fry with only a few tablespoons of oil” Once he was done we poured all of the oil into a jar except for the two tablespoons so the sauce has the proper consistency.  However, I think we left a little too much oil so I added a little cornstarch to fix it. Therefore, here is the final product:

IMG_1793

 

Both of these turned out amazingly! This sauce is one of the best things I have ever made and now I want to put it on everything. The pork chops were perfectly tender. The spaghetti squash was really good as well, but I may work on tweaking it to gain more flavor. 🙂

 

First Post: Steak and Butternut Squash

How to start my first post is something that has created a great amount of thought on my behalf. However, there is no sense in procrastinating  so  let’s begin. Tonight Jim and I grilled some steak and make this cheesy, bacon, butternut squash recipe http://www.kraftrecipes.com/recipes/butternut-squash-au-gratin-126691.aspx. Since grilled steak is simple, we will ignore most of that process. However, the butternut squash recipe was new and a VERY good.

With this blog, I intend on documenting most steps of our cooking process. However, this being my first time and the fact that I completely forgot to take pictures along the way this post is more limited than future ones (hopefully).

As you will notice, I am on a bit of a squash kick. Since moving to the Chicago area, I have become obsessed with farmers markets. Growing up, my Mother and Grandmother grew many of their own vegetables, but living in Arizona I did not have access to these wonderful gems.

Tonight’s recipe started with a butternut squash I purchased from the local farmers market. Since this squash was much larger than the typical butternut squash, I doubled most of the recipe and used a 9x13inch pan instead of an 8×8. I used only one regular sized Vidalia onion, added garlic, and of course more bacon. I attempt to be a little more healthy, but who can deny bacon J. As for the garlic, I used the garlic grater Jim and I purchased a few months ago from the Scottsdale culinary festival. I have displayed the tool below and it is extremely useful. I suggest if you ever see one you should buy it instantly. The blue thing is useful for removing garlic peels and the brush helps remove the garlic from the grater.

Image

In large part, the recipe went according to plan, except for the onion cheese sauce. Since the onions are sautéed in bacon grease the sauce ended up being a very unique brown looking thing. However, with one small taste we ignored the looks altogether. In addition, the butternut squash tenderized in the boiling water much more quickly than anticipated. Even with a few surprises the recipe turned out amazingly. I do suggest that you try it.

Even though I did not take many pictures here are the few I did take:

  • Prior to entering the oven:

Image

  • Leaving the oven:

Image

  • On the plate:

Image