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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I want to thank you for the time that you spend here, and hope that you can find useful things here.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Savory Texas Meatloaf


Everybody has a recipe for meatloaf.  Many people aren't happy with theirs, but are stuck in a rut.  Consider giving this one a try - there are a few tasty differences that make it mighty good.  And even better, it makes plenty, so there's lots left over for meatloaf sandwiches the next day!

1 large onion, cut in small dice
1 carrot, cut in small dice
1 Poblano pepper, cut in small dice
3 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons pepper
5 teaspoons minced garlic

2 lbs. ground beef, 80/20
1 lb. ground pork
1 lb. ground lamb

1 cup breadcrumbs, unseasoned, fresh preferred
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup ketchup
3 eggs
1/2 cup (compressed) of finely chopped cilantro
1/2 cup chopped cooked bacon

1/2 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper


Combine the breadcrumbs and milk together to create a mush. Prepare the vegetables as directed above.

In a large skillet, add the first 5 ingredients and sauté until the vegetables soften.  When soft, add the garlic and stir in well, cooking 1 more minute.  Remove from stove and allow to cool.  Gather your defrosted meats - clockwise from left, beef, pork lamb:

In a large bowl, separate and scatter the meats evenly in the bowl.  You don't want to over-mix the meat mixture, as that will make your meatloaf tough.  Add in the cooled vegetables, milk /breadcrumb mush, ketchup, cilantro and the eggs.  Heat your oven to 350°.

Mix until all parts are evenly distributed and then let it rest.  Divide the mixture evenly between two loaf pans, taking care to make the center a little lower than the edges.  This will help to cut down on the tendency for cooked meatloaf to have a large center bulge.

Finally, scatter half of the bacon across the top of each loaf.  Now pop the loaf pans into your oven, and set the timer for 45 minutes.  Combine the last 4 ingredients into a Texas Tang sauce so that it will be ready for the next step.

After an hour, remove the loaf pans and set on a cooling rack, and remove the loafs from the pans.  Place the loafs on a larger rimmed pan, and divide the ketchup sauce evenly over the tops of the two loaves.  Below you see the loafs after having been sauced, and ready for the oven again.

 Below is an oblique shot, and you can make out how relatively flat the tops are.  This will help a lot with making meatloaf sandwiches later!

Pop them back in the oven for another 45 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 155°.  Don't overcook or it will start to dry out!  The jalapeño garnish is, of course, optional as are the Pintos-n-Pico on the side.

Monday, September 19, 2011


Help for those counting carbs - whether for weight or diabetes.

I try to avoid eating a lot of carbohydrates (except on special occasions), as they induce a pretty psychotic effect on my blood sugar. I do okay at dodging most of them, but the lowly flour tortilla has been my Achilles heel. I still eat them occasionally, but I need to do better. This brings us to the present.

After looking around a bit at the grocery store this past weekend, I came across this pair of offerings. Now, I've had low carb and wheat tortillas before, and to be blunt they were all pretty horrible - dry, stiff, pasty and coarse. It had been a while, so I thought I'd try again. Both of these offering were good enough that I'd even served them to company. They are both made from wheat flour, although only the Mission brand tortillas appear a little tan. The texture is wonderful, being soft and supple and not at all like cardboard. Compare these carb numbers to the flour tortillas in your pantry and see how all that fiber reduces the net effective carbohydrates in these guys..

Santa Fe 'Carb Chopper' 7" tortillas:
70 calories - 2.5g fat, 7g carbs, 3g fiber, 4g net effective carbs, 4g protein

Mission 'Carb Balance' 6" tortillas:
80 calories - 2g fat, 13g carbs, 10g fiber, 3g net effective carbs, 3g protein

These will cost you more than regular store brand tortillas, but the quality you'll taste is worth it. I still say that if you don't have to worry about carbohydrates, then seek out 'Mi Casa' tortillas, as they're about hte best sore brand torts I've found.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

DIY Meat, anyone?

On our last trip to Restaurant Depot, I was looking for something to replenish our dwindling beef supply at home. This trip, the nod went to to a whole untrimmed Inside Top Round. To quote from the the IMPS guide;
"This boneless item consists of the semimembranosus, sartorius, adductor, gracilis, and pectineus and is separated from the bottom round and knuckle through the natural seams. The iliopsoas may remain if firmly attached. All bones, cartilage, and exposed lymph glands shall be removed."
Here's what it looks like in a cryovac bag, on a full size 33" wide sheet pan. It's a big chunk of Choice grade Certified Angus Beef:
After removing the fat cap, I found that the clod was easily separated along the natural seams into a several large cuts and a few smaller trim pieces. Here is a shot of the large sections after reduction:

It's hard to tell from the picture, but there was a nice amount of intramuscular fat, so it should be fairly tender for such a typically lean piece of meat. I have already used some of the small trimmings in some carne asada, beef and some green chile and bean burritos. Very tender, very tasty, and can't wait to dive into some more!

Chicken Fricassée with Portobellos & Pasta


3 lb of mixed boneless skinless chicken breasts and thighs
2 qt chicken stock
2 bay leaves
½ t ground thyme
½ t rosemary leaves, finely chopped
1 tsp black peppercorns
¼ lb bacon, chopped
4 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
½ lb. button or chestnut mushrooms, trimmed and large ones halved
½ t rosemary leaves, finely chopped
12 oz. dry white wine
12 oz. double cream
1 ½ tbsp Dijon mustard
1 lb fresh rotini, tagliatelle or similar complex pasta
Handful of flat leaf parsley, leaves chopped
Olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

With a sharp knife, remove the excess fat from the thighs, cut them into large chunks, approximately 1" cubes.

Put the chicken stock, bay leaves, thyme and peppercorns in pan with a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and add the chicken thighs. Gently poach until the meat is tender. Remove chicken from the pan with a pair of tongs and let cool slightly. Strain the poaching stock and save 1 1/2 cups for later use.

Heat a large frying pan with a little olive oil. Season the breasts and add to the pan. When the meat is three quarters cooked, add the poached leg meat and cook for a few more minutes until golden brown.

Transfer the cooked chicken to a plate. Add the bacon and shallots to the pan with a little more olive oil, if necessary. Sauté for 3-4 minutes over medium heat until the shallots are translucent and the bacon is lightly browned. Stir in the mushrooms and rosemary and sauté for a few more minutes. Pour in the wine and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to deglaze. Let the liquid boil until reduced by half.

Add the previously set-aside stock and reduce again by half. Finally, pour in the cream and simmer for a few minutes until the sauce has thickened to a desired consistency. Stir in the mustard and season to taste. Add the browned chicken into the sauce to warm through.

Meanwhile, blanch the pasta in a pot of boiling, salted water for 1 ½ - 2 minutes until al dente. Drain the pasta and toss with the sauce to coat. Divide amongst warmed plates and arrange the chicken over the pasta. Garnish with a sprinkling of chopped parsley and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve immediately.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Stuffed Portobellos with Prosciutto-wrapped fresh Asparagus

• 2 Portobello mushrooms
• 1 T plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
• 6 oz. ground lamb
• 2 oz. Mexican chorizo
• 1/3 cup combined finely chopped onion & bell pepper
• 2 t minced garlic
• 1/3 cup combined bread crumbs & grated Parmesan cheese
• 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
• 1/2 t BBQ rub
• 1 egg, lightly beaten
• Balsamic vinegar, for drizzling

• 1 lb. fresh asparagus
• 1 Portobello, stemmed, gilled and cut into strips
• 2 slices thin Prosciutto de Parma
• kosher salt & fresh ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare the Portobello mushrooms by removing the stem and then gently scraping out the brown gills. Clean and finely mince stem; discard gill material. Rub each Portobello mushroom down with a bit of olive oil.

Lightly salt and pepper the lamb and cook in a small skillet until just browned. Remove to a bowl. Next, cook the chorizo until just cooked, say 4-5 minutes. Add the lamb back in, as well as the onion, bell pepper, garlic, and mushroom stems and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Transfer sausage-vegetable mixture to the bowl of a food processor. Add half of the breadcrumb/ cheese mixture, 1/2 the cilantro, the rub, and the remaining olive oil. Pulse until mixture is finely chopped and comes together slightly, about 30 seconds. Transfer the mixture back to your bowl, add the egg, and stir until well combined.

Divide the filling among the mushroom with 1/2 for each mushroom. Place the filled mushrooms on a baking sheet.. Divide the bread crumb/ cheese mixture evenly among the tops of the mushrooms. Bake until golden brown on top and the mushrooms are tender, about 15 to 18 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

While the above is cooling, snap the asparagus to length and cook along with mushroom strips on a plate in microwave for 45 seconds. Remove to counter, divide into 2 portions. Fold each slice of Prosciutto in half lengthwise. Wrap each bundle of asparagus and mushrooom strips in one slice of Prosciutto, season with salt and pepper, and place in a lightly oiled skillet over medium heat. As you see the edges of the Prosciutto start to turn, flup the asparagus bundles carefully to cook the other side. This may only take like 2 minutes per side.

Remove the asparagus to your plates, then add the stuffed mushrooms tot he plates. Garnish them with remaining tablespoon of cilantro, drizzle with olive oil and vinegar and serve warm or at room temperature.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Chevré Eggs with Portobellos

For the kickoff of Portobello mushroom week at Casa Gordita, the following breakfast. Quick and easy to prepare, tasty and filling to devour!

2 Portobello mushroom caps
2 eggs
2 T butter
2 oz chevré (goat cheese)
2 oz chopped bacon bits
kosher salt & fresh cracked pepper

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.

Remove the stems form the mushroom caps. Trim off stem ends and set aside. With a spoon, gently scrape off all of the brown gills from the underside of the mushroom caps. This is necessary on the Portobello because the gills will become a brown mess once the start to cook.

Once the butter is hot, place a mushroom cap in the butter gill side up. Cook until you see the edges just start to turn color, then turn over. Cook until tender. Repeat with other mushroom cap.

While you are cooking the caps, dice the reserved stems. Once the mushroom caps are done and plated, toss in the diced stems and cook int he butter until browned.

On top of each mushroom cap, I place an egg, sunny-side up. This is topped with the crumbled chevré and stem pieces. Pop under the broikler just long enough to melt the cheese, and add the bacon. Salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Breakfast Bites - 'Bacon and Eggs To Go'

Here's to a different, but very tasty take on the lowly egg. There are thousands of recipes out there for evening finger foods and hors d'oerves - but what about breakfast? If you don't want pastry, you're out of luck - until now. Try these little babies, they're almost like breakfast tacos without the taco!

12 eggs, hard boiled, prepared as in this post.
3 Tablespoons light canola or vegetable oil
4 Tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
2 Tablespoons sour cream
4 Tablespoons cooked and chopped: bacon bits, breakfast sausage or chorizo
salt & pepper
finely shredded mild cheddar cheese

Round up the reshaped eggs and a very sharp knife. Sure, you can make this recipe with round eggs, but they are less stable, and where's the fun in that?

Cut the above boiled eggs in half, around the largest diameter with a flat spot on each side. Remove the yolk form each half to a bowl. If you miss a little bit, it's not an issue.

Smash up the yolks and mix in the oil, water, onion powder and sour cream. Make sure this is well integrated. Once well-mixed, chop up and stir in the bacon bits.

Sample and adjust for salt and pepper to taste. Remove yolk mixture to quart sized zip bag.

Lightly warm the egg whites in microwave, and then warm the bag containing the yolk mixture. Snip off a small corner of the quart bag, turning the bag into a makeshift pastry bag. Use this new tool to pipe the yolk mixture into the waiting whites.

Lightly sprinkle the cheese over the eggs, and heat briefly in microwave until cheese just starts to melt. Serve immediately.

See... breakfast tacos without the taco!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Slenderize Your Eggs

Everyone has their favorite recipe for boiled/deviled eggs, but this isn't about that. This is about technique, not taste. What I find really annoying is that when you fill them, they get top heavy, and unless you want to put them into a fancy holder, the tendency is to for them to fall over.

Well, no more. If you add a few hours of resting time into your preparation planning, you can have very unusual yet stable eggs for your guests. What's fun is to see if anyone even notices...

one dozen eggs (at least a week old makes for better peeling)

Place the eggs into a pot and cover with cold water. Over high heat, bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and let lightly boil covered for 10 minutes. When time has elapsed, carry pot to sink and run cold water into pot to displace the hot water and cool the eggs.

Finally, I put the eggs into water and ice until cool. This not only cools them faster, but makes them easier to peel.

Peel the eggs carefully, removing all the shell but leaving the surface unblemished. Place the peeled eggs on a plate with a raised edge, so they don't skitter away. I leave them wet from the peeling process so that they can easily move around a bit.

Next, use a sturdy flat pan of some type or an inverted plate to cover the eggs. Weigh down the top plate with containers equaling 4-5 lbs. or so, placing them on top of the upper plate and checking to see that the weight is evenly distributed.

Over the space of a few hours, the matrix of the cooked egg whites will relax and allow the steady pressure to change the shape of the egg.

Give it 5 or 6 hours. Once you remove them from the fridge, they will be flat on both sides - just enough to keep them stable. Now when you prepare your eggs, deviled or otherwise, they will sit nicely and not roll or fall. Let everyone else figure out how you did it...