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sizzlin’ fajitas

Connor is between semesters at school so he is home for a couple of weeks. On Sunday, I asked him to decide what we’d have for dinner and he didn’t hesitate – he requested fajitas.

fajita fixins

It’s been ages since I’ve made ‘em, so I went all out and cooked up not only traditional beef, but also shrimp and chicken. The best part about that… we had plenty of leftover beef and had tacos on Monday night. Yay for leftovers!

flap meat

Connor and I shopped at Food City for our meal. In our search for skirt steak, we happily stumbled upon flap meat. Flap meat can be difficult or next to impossible to find at standard grocery stores like Safeway, so when I come across it, I can’t help but get a little excited.

Flap meat comes from the bottom sirloin, and although it’s from a similar region as flank steak or skirt steak, it’s a different cut. The flap is not very tender, but it is well-marbled and very flavorful. It’s sometimes called flap steak or bavette and is an excellent meat for carne asada and fajitas.

If you can’t find flap, use either skirt or flank steak for this recipe.

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August 27, 2013   2 Comments

as requested by Peggy…

pita jungle

After not seeing each other for more than three weeks, Peggy and I just had to get together and go out for lunch this past Monday. That’s a long time to not see your BFF!

The day before, I called her to make our lunch plans. Coincidentally, she was having lunch at Pita Jungle, enjoying Coconut Curried Soup w/ Chickpeas, with her daughter, Natalie.

Peggy said, “Linda, I LOVE this soup! You have to taste it, figure out how to make it, and give me the recipe!”  I told her that if she didn’t mind going back to Pita Jungle the next day – I’d do my best.

Problem is, the Coconut Curried Soup with Chickpeas is not on the printed or online menus at Pita Jungle. This means there is no description of the soup for me take any of my cues from.

I’ve deciphered restaurant recipes many times before but there’s always been some sort of guide or reference, you know, a description of the dish – besides just the food itself. This was going to be more challenging than I had originally thought.

Monday, I ordered the soup. I ordered nothing else, I wanted all my focus to be on the flavors of that soup.  I tasted it and knew some of the ingredients for certain; obviously coconut milk, probably full fat. I’m going to use lite coconut milk for my recipe, feel free to use full fat if you’d rather.

There was most certainly red curry paste, garlic, and ginger … and possibly jalapeño as well.

pita jungle soup

Next, I spread the vegetables out on the rim of the bowl to see what I could see; I snapped this photo of it – let’s see… red bell pepper, tomato, poblano pepper, parsley, chickpeas, onion, and either orange bell pepper or carrot.  The orange-colored pieces were so small that neither Peggy nor I could decide which it was – so I’m going with orange bell pepper since I don’t care for carrots. I’m also adding diced mushrooms, just ’cause I want to.

soup vegetalbes

I’m posting the recipe this morning but I may come back and tweak it after Peggy gets over here and tries it.

Get over here, girl!

If tweaking is done, I’ll put any additions or changes in red print… stay tuned.

Peggy never did make it over to try the soup, but my boys and I decided it was too thick. Add another can of coconut milk or vegetable broth to thin it out to your liking. I used more coconut milk and then needed to add more curry paste as well.  I’ve made those changes in the recipe below.

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July 25, 2013   4 Comments

shrimp & squash couscous

logcabin

We are currently enjoying the good life the Log Mansion in Wisconsin with Jeff, Jen, and their boys. Prior to arriving here, we went from Toronto, Canada to Niagara Falls, New York to Rockton, Illinois.

falls pano

Neither Dave or I had been to the Falls before. We were blown away by their power and beauty!

maid of the mist

This is a recipe my mother-in-law and I made while we were visiting her in Illinois. She’d found it in Ladies Home Journal. I’ve made a couple changes to the original by using both green and yellow summer squash instead of just zucchini and by adding tomatoes, otherwise it is pretty much as written.

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July 17, 2013   4 Comments

“garbage” pasta

As I mentioned a few days ago, I make it my mission to clean out the fresh food in my refrigerator before we go out of town. The easiest way to do that in the winter is to make a soup and the easiest way the rest of the year is to make pasta. I call this “garbage” pasta, because I’ll put any and everything in it.

garbage pasta

This particular time, I had a partial box of cherry tomatoes plus fresh heirloom tomatoes from my garden. In addition there were partial bags of green beans and sugar snap peas. I always have garlic and onion on hand, so those always start the dish.

The first step is to get a big pot of water boiling. Add salt and blanch vegetables such as the green beans, sugar snap peas, asparagus, snow peas, carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower for a couple minutes. Use a slotted spoon or spider to remove them and have a big bowl of ice water ready to drop them into – to stop the cooking.

Once they’ve cooled down, drain and set aside.

icedbeans

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May 27, 2013   1 Comment

Crudités Mexican Flag for Cinco de Mayo

Are you hosting or attending a Cinco de Mayo party this weekend?

If so, I have the perfect thing for you to serve or bring.

Crudites Mexican Flag for Cinco de Mayo

Serve these flag inspired crudités with your favorite dip or salsa.

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May 2, 2013   2 Comments

Spinach, Chicken and Feta Spaghetti

Spinach, Chicken and Feta Spaghetti  recipe

On the last day of Les Gourmettes classes last week, Barb sent me home with a big box of spinach and a package of feta. Both would have gone bad in her refrigerator – since she would be eating out all weekend.

The following pasta recipe is what I created with it.

Waste not, want not.

cooking fresh spinach

It’s magical to watch a huge pile of fresh spinach wilt down …

cooked spinach

and down … to a little handful of cooked spinach …

add balsamic

… in only a couple minutes.

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April 29, 2013   No Comments

galette

IMG_6974

Galette is a French term that refers to a variety of flat round cakes, usually made with a flaky pastry dough.

Galettes can be sweet or savory. Although it is most common for galettes to be filled with fruits or chocolate and served for dessert, savory galettes are a satisfying meal on their own.

When making this galette, it is important to have the filling ingredients chilled or at room temperature. A hot filling will melt the butter in the dough before it hits the oven, preventing the crust from becoming flaky and crispy.

add thyme

One of the filling ingredients in this galette is an onion jam. I link you to that recipe in the list of ingredients.

I made a simpler version for this galette by eliminating the vinegar and raisins in that original onion jam recipe and instead adding a couple teaspoons of fresh thyme leaves. Either version will work wonderfully here.

Joanne Weir made a Mushroom and Blue Cheese Galette in cooking class at Les Gourmettes last week. It was fabulous! I was the lucky recipient of an extra round of dough for the crust. It is an outstanding dough. It is flaky and crispy and delicious. The recipe below is for Joanne’s dough and my filling.

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April 22, 2013   3 Comments

sitcom or reality

“Here’s a story of a lovely lady, who was …”

No, stop there! Not “bringing up three very lovely girls. All of them had hair of gold, like their mother, the youngest one in curls.”

music

Let’s try again..

“Here’s a story of a lovely lady, who is all about getting what she wants. She uses trickery and scams plus plans and schemes, and drives her youngest child insane.”

That could be the theme song for my own sitcom or reality show. Honestly, I drive poor Connor crazy with all my ideas. He desperately tries to resist, but somehow he can’t escape when I pull him into these plans, completely against his will and better judgement.

sitcomreality

I’m going to give you the recipe today first, and then if you feel like hearing the story behind it, feel free to read all about it, after the recipe.

waffled ingred

This is a fun way to make grilled cheese.

3 cheeses

Use whatever cheese or cheeses you like.

the stufings

Top the cheese with your favorite additional fillings, or no fillings at all.

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April 21, 2013   8 Comments

news and beans

I had every intention to post a new recipe yesterday. Instead I was glued to the television from the moment I awoke until well after President Obama’s news conference once the Boston Marathon bombing suspect was finally captured and taken into custody alive.

tweet

What an amazing job by the local, state, and federal authorities. What an outstanding job by the residents of Watertown, Boston, Cambridge, and Massachusetts! I pray that all those brave people deservedly slept soundly last night.

Additionally, I hope that as a result of all that hard work and dedication, that the broken bodies and hearts of all those in the Commonwealth, who were affected by the tragic events of the past week, were healed at least a tiny bit too.

God Bless America!

I did eventually cook something yesterday. In-between news reports and updates – I soaked beans. I cooked beans. I let beans cool and turned said beans into a salad.

Not until this very moment, as I type, do I remember that Boston’s nickname is Beantown. Here is a tasty Bean Salad for Boston and for the great state of Massachusetts.

beansandpoweder

On Thursday, I received the beans as a gift from Kim Howard, my cohort at Les Gourmettes. Kim was in San Francisco last week and she thoughtfully brought me back a bag of cranberry beans and a package of ground Espelette chile powder.

cranberrybeans

I’ve cooked with cranberry beans before, but I had never heard of the Espelette chile.

Espelette a town on the southern-most edge of France, on its border with Spain. The town is known for its dried red peppers, used whole or ground to a hot powder and used in the production of Bayonne ham. The peppers are designated as Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée and are hung to dry outside many of the houses and shops in the village during the summer. The plant, originally from Mexico was introduced into France from the New World during the 16th century.

I decided to use both of my gifts in this dish. It turned out perfectly delicious.

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April 20, 2013   No Comments

skinny puttanesca

Traditional Puttanesca sauce is made with chopped garlic and anchovies that are sautéed in olive oil. Chopped chili peppers, olives, capers, canned tomatoes, tomato paste and oregano are added along with salt and black pepper to taste. It is simmered for at least 30 to 40 minutes.

IMG_6746

My lighter fresher version is anchovy and olive oil free and uses fresh chopped tomatoes that are cooked briefly and tofu Shirataki noodles with zero calories and only 3 carbs per serving. The dish comes together in 15 to 20 minutes, depending on your chopping skills and speed.

I began making it at 5:45 and had it on the dinner plates by 6:00… taking the photos took another couple minutes… as always!

One last note, I forgot to add the olives. And, darn it, they were missed! I’ve added them to the recipe, so don’t forget them.

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April 9, 2013   2 Comments