Mostly about food, this blog is just a place for me to throw things that are of interest to me. I appreciate you taking the time to stop by an look around. This represents just some of the stops on the various pathways that this amateur home cook finds himself.

You may find that these foods tend toward protein and away from carbohydrates - this is due to diabetic issues, so I try to only sparingly use carbs, and good ones at that. Of course, sometimes I forget....

Feel free to drop me a line with any suggestions or just to let me know what you think. Thanks!

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Enchiladas Montadas, Verde y Colorado, en estilo de Nueva Mexico

That's "New Mexico style Red and Green Stacked Enchiladas" for you gringos! This will feed 2-4 people, depending on hunger and side dishes. It's very filling - no pun intended.

Some comida from New Mexico. I know there's a girl in Austin that misses this yummy stuff, so this one's for you, Jana Po!

This is the New Mexico variation complete with over easy egg. íSalud!

6 Hatch green peppers - seeded, stemmed and roasted, skin removed
(you can use 2 4oz cans if you must)
8 oz. shredded queso quesadilla - goes in green stack
6 oz (or 1/2 small jar) of nopalitos (cactus cut in small strips), rinsed WELL and drained
2 chicken breasts or 4 thighs - boneless & skinless, trimmed of fat (thighs taste better!)

red chile sauce
(I was in a hurry so used enchilada sauce)
8 oz. shredded cheddar - goes in red stack
1 lb ground beef

8 corn tortillas
2 eggs
2 Tbsp cilantro, minced

Place peppers in food processor and whiz it until a chunky sauce ensues. If it is a too little thick, blend some more, and even add a little water, but do not completely puree.

Put red enchilada sauce in a small saucepan over medium low heat. If it is too thin, the authentic way is to add a little corn meal for a thickening agent.

Bring 1 quart of water to boil in a medium saucepan. Crumble the ground meat into the boiling ware, and boil until cooked, which will only be a few minutes. Remove from heat, let cool a bit and strain out water, reserving one cup.

Add taco seasoning to ground beef (or use your own favorite seasonings), stirring in well. Add back water as needed to make the meat mixture a good consistency. Once well mixed, add a fourth of the meat mixture to the red sauce, and set the rest aside.

Season the chicken with salt, pepper and garlic. Cook in an un-oiled skillet until browned, then flip and repeat with other side. You can also of course grill it outside if you like. Once the chicken is cooked, let cool and shred the meat. Set aside.

All of the above can be done a day in advance.

Next, we'll prepare the tortillas. Heat a scant quarter-inch of cooking oil in a skillet over medium heat. Slide a corn tortilla into the oil and leave just long enough to see small bumps start to rise on it, then remove it with tongs and drain on paper towels. Repeat for the seven remaining tortillas. This will make them both softer and tougher against tearing.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Time to build the stacks. I made these on the same platter, but it may be easier to do it on two separate plates. We'll do the green one first. Ladle a little bit of the sauce on the plate and then lay down a tortilla. On this goes about a fourth of the queso quesadilla cheese and about a third of the nopalitos, and about a third of the shredded chicken. Repeat these steps two more times, so that you have 3 layers. Finally, top with a tortilla and the rest of the same cheese.

Next, we will do the same for the other enchilada. First, take about 20% of the seasoned beef and mix it in with the red chili sauce. Now, repeat the steps above with the cheddar cheese, the meat-enhanced red chili sauce and the remaining seasoned beef. Top with the last tortilla and the remaining cheddar cheese.

Slide these babies into the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes - you want everything melted but not starting to brown. you're just gonna have to watch them. You can do them under a low broiler as well, but you can't do ANYTHING else but watch them, that works really fast.

Once out of the oven, it's time for the "montada" part of the dish, so top each stack with a nice over-easy egg. This will break and run down through the enchilada, adding both great flavor and texture to the dish. I finished off the dish with minced cilantro, both for color and because I like the taste.

You can also use shredded lettuce and chopped tomato, pico de gallo, olives, or other garnish. Here is a picture of the enchiladas having been cut:

And here is a closeup showing the layers and fillings:

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Hot Roast Beef Delight

I was cruising through the freezer the other day as part of my loss prevention program. I'm tired of not knowing what's in there and losing track of stuff. So, I came across an eye of round roast that was about 2 lbs worth. This is a more challenging cut of meat than most, because there is so little fat that it will very easily end up tough when cooked. What to do?

Open-faced Roast Beef Sammies!

2 lb. eye of round
2 lg. onion
2 pk. McCormick brown gravy mix (yes, I got lazy)
8 slices thick dark bread

Remove your roast and remove all exterior silver skin and visible fat. It should look something like this. Notice the obvious grain - we will be cutting across this later.

Heat the oven to 275°. In a heavy Dutch oven, brown the eye of round well on all sides. Place the Dutch oven in the preheated oven and cover. Cook until internal temperature gets to 125° - start checking after 30-40 minutes (depends on the meat temperature at the start).

Remove meat from Dutch oven and let cool. Our next goal is to slice it across the grain and very thin - 1/16" or less. I accomplished this by freezing the roast, and when almost completely frozen, I loaded it into the slicer. I know that not everyone has one, so you might have to carefully do this by hand. If so, you won't want it frozen!

Here's a shot of the finished product. You can see how the carryover heat ended up cooking the roast to a perfect medium rare. All sliced:

Now, prepare the gravy as directed, in a medium to large pan. Reduce heat to just below a simmer, and mix in all the sliced roast beef, stirring to coat well. Keep this on a medium low heat for now.

While this is heating, peel and then slice the onions into 1/4" slices. Separate the onions into rings, and place in a large covered skillet with a little water. Cook until they become translucent and start to caramelize. Turn down burner and keep warm.

Now it's time to put it all together. Add a little of the gravy on top of the bread, then pile on the sweet caramelized onions. Top this with a nice pile of the roast beef, and finish with a little garnish. Repeat this for the other 3 sandwiches and devour.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Spooky's Scallion Chicken

Okay, Spooky tossed me up a challenge for a low-fat healthy meal by asking, "You don't post anything in the way of heart friendly, diabetic food do you? Stupid question, but I had to ask." Well Dave, here you go, but don't be scared - that tiny bit of bacon won't kill ya!

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 boneless skinless chicken thighs
4 scallions
4 strips of bacon (yeah, I know, but it isn't much)
unbleached brown / wild rice
1 head of broccoli
previously made pico de gallo
low sodium soy sauce*
Maggi Sazon seasoning*
a few common seasonings from your cupboard*

*use your own discretion and supplies


Remove all fat and silver skin from the chicken, then clean the chicken pieces under running water and dry. Trim both of the ends off of the scallions, then cut them into about 5" pieces.

Lay out each breast, and trim off the triangular pointy tail and fat round end of the breast, leaving a thick and vaguely rectangular piece of chicken. Cut that piece in half lengthwise.

This effort brings us to here - scallions top, breasts left, thighs right:

Next, butterfly each piece lengthwise, cutting almost but not quite all the way through so that it opens up like a book. Next lay one piece of each end of the scallion in the vee of the breast:

Next, trim a thigh piece and cut two long thick strips out of each thigh. These strips you will lay on top of the scallions thereby surrounding them with chicken. This neat little chicken bundle you will wrap snugly in a spiral with a strip of bacon, securing the ends with toothpicks. Repeat this for all half-breast pieces, and lay them in a vessel that you can use for marinade:

The seasonings for this are pretty much up to you and defined by your taste and what you have on hand. I used EVOO, low-sodium soy and Maggi sauces along with coarse ground pepper and a dash of Montreal steak seasoning. Thinking back, I should have added ginger, but oh well. Try what you like but don't overwhelm the meat with strong flavors.

You could cook these in any number of ways, the only critical items being not to burn the bacon and to make sure the chicken is cooked to a a safe temperature. Or this trip, I took them out of the marinade and cooked them under a low broiler, turning as necessary to get a nice exterior. I checked the inside temps with my Thermapen, and it still needed a little heat, so 60 seconds in the microwave made it perfect. I can't wait to try this over a nice hardwood fire on the grill!

I prepared the rice as normal, but also stirred some pico de gallo into the cooked rice, to add visual appeal, extra veggies, and a nice additional flavor. In addition, I trimmed the broccoli florets from the head and steamed them to retain color and flavor, Instead of butter or cheese, I seasoned it with a light sprinkle of Tony Chachere's Cajun seasoning and a dusting of paprika. Here's a final look at the plate, with the chicken cut open for you to see. You can see the scallion in the middle, and easily differentiate the darker thigh meat form the lighter breast meat in the cross-section. What was a nice bonus was that the chicken picked upa hint of the scallion flavor during cooking, too.

Everything got good reviews from the esteemed panel of critics!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Taco Triple Threat

Another excursion through the fridge. It's amazing what you can produce with a few raw materials! Anyway, it produced a rare mammal-free dinner that was pretty tasty.

Random Stuff:
6 corn tortillas
tartar sauce
leftover red bell pepper
Panko bread crumbs
frozen shrimp
leftover raw fish
chicken thigh meat

Putting it together:
I breaded the fish, shrimp and chicken pieces and lightly fried them. Off to a good start!

Then I took the tortillas fro a little swim in the oil, just to lightly fry them too. I let them drain in these handy little racks.

Getting closer to done, and I'm getting hungrier. I made some guacamole from the avocados, and tossed together the home-made tartar sauce. Next came shredded lettuce and julienned red pepper.

Time to get it all together: I laid outthe tortillas, applied a nice schmear of guacamole, and a layer of red peppers. On to p of this went the fried goodies - shrimp, fish and chicken, each in it's own taco. I topped this with the tartar sauces and a little lettuce, followed by salt and pepper to taste.

It turned out to be a nice filling meal, and quite a change from the ordinary. Muy yummy!