Tag Archives: food

Dear Fat

Dear Fat,

I’m sure, by now, you understand that I meant it when I said we were done.  I know you’re probably feeling a little out of sorts because we’ve been so close for so long.  I can truly say that I’ve never known anyone to stick as close to me as you’ve been, but while I’ve seen our friendship grow, I’ve also noticed other things.

Remember that time in Junior High- with the ice cream cup?  That was when we first became really well acquainted.  You were so sweet.  Form then on, what started off as a simple sundae turned into daily lunches.

And High School!  Oh how our friendship grew.  I started wondering if you were really bad for me then because my pants size grew, too, but every time I was ready and determined to call it quits, you reminded me of why I fell for you.  You’ve always had that kind of hold on me.  Even when- and I know you’ll be jealous hearing this, but I’ve got to say it- I cheated on you with Volleyball, Track, and a pretty healthy lifestyle, I still couldn’t let you go completely.  I think you knew deep down, though, because you seemed to hold on tighter to me, too.

We could’ve been happy together, you and me.

And then you had to go and ruin it by bringing ’round your friends and family.

The first sign our friendship was nearing its end was when I got pregnant with Camo.  I don’t know why you thought it would be a good idea to introduce your pregnant, hormonal companion to all the other lipids in your life, but that was the first moment I caught a glimpse of the real you.  Pants that used to fit nicely over my hips now struggled to make it past my knees; my cheeks took on a chipmunk-ish appearance; and my once smooth thighs now showed dimples.

What had I don’t that you felt the need to abuse me so?

I vowed then and there that I would distance myself from you, and -while I didn’t shut you out completely- I was content in the fact that our friendship didn’t blossom further.

It didn’t, that is, until I met your cousins lard and pork fat.  Sneaky move, bringing them in to meet me.  They seduced me with Mexican food and teased me with Paula Dean cookbooks.

Suddenly, our friendship was closer than ever.

I know, from our history, that our relationship has been on again/off again, so maybe you think this is just a phase- lots of people go through fads; maybe you think I’ll become an Atkins fanatic.

Let me assure you, this will not happen.  It CAN NOT.

Please don’t be sad.  Its not you- its me.  You’ve stuck by me through thick and thicker; I’m just feeling the need to see who I am without you.

So, this is goodbye.  Please don’t try to look for me- its no use trying to get me back.  Honestly, chances are, you might not recognize me in a couple of months anyways.

I want you to know, I still love you deeply.  You’ll probably always have a place in my heart.  I want the best for you, though, so if you find yourself feeling lonely, please don’t hesitate to make new friendships.  You won’t hurt my feelings.

In fact, I was JUST watching TV the other day and I noticed how many actresses could really use a friend like you.  TELL me that having a Hollywood bud wouldn’t just make your year.

So, that’s it.  I’ll miss you.  Have a great life- I’ll see you in the tabloids!

(Sorry- if you don’t get this pic, you need to watch Dr. Who more.)

~Amber

 

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Tasty Tuesday: Bow Tie Sausage Skillet

I’m a sucker for pasta.  Its kinda amazing, and if you give me half a chance I could probably give you a few reasons why pasta could be the answer to world peace.

Don’t believe me?

Ask yourself this- have you ever seen anybody ANGRILY eating pasta?

Yeah.  I thought not.

So, needless to say, sites like Pinterest help feed my addiction- literally.  Search for “pasta” and you’ll pinning for hours.  I found a version of this and I knew it was something I had to try out on my family.  I messed with it a little to suit what my family likes, and voila!

Ingredients

2-3 cups bow tie pasta
About a lb of sausage (you can use sausage links, too, if you can’t find bulk sausage- just take them out of their casings)
1 bell pepper, sliced
1 onion, diced
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more- my family can take spicy, so I actually added closer to 3/4 tsp)
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 dashes salt
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 can cut tomatoes (14.5 ounces)
2 tablespoons cut fresh parsley (or 2 teaspoons dried parsley)
About 2 cups of shredded mozzarella
About a cup of ricotta
parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS:

Boil the bow tie pasta until it’s al dente.

Heat a large skillet on medium heat and add the sausage. Cook till its in med. sized crumbles. If you’re using links, you can save time by squeezing out 1 in. pieces out of the links into the pan.

If you’re using turkey sausage or something low fat, you might want to add a bit of olive oil to add moisture.  Yes, you WANT fat in this dish.

As the sausage is cooking, add the onions and bell peppers.  Oh, and I also added about 2 cloves of minced garlic.  If you like garlic, feel free to add it in.  If not, don’t.

Then, add the red pepper flakes, and the pepper.

Add the oregano, and salt. Gently stir all of the ingredients in the skillet together.

Then, add the cut tomatoes and water.

Stir all of the ingredients together.

Add just 1 tablespoon of the parsley; reserve the other tablespoon for garnish.

Add the drained al dente pasta, and gently stir the ingredients together.

Add ricotta to the pan. Mix in a bit to help it melt.

Add mozzarella on top of the ingredients.

Sprinkle the parmesan cheese on top.

Cover the skillet with a lid and let simmer until the mozzarella cheese is melted (about 5 minutes).

Lastly, garnish with parsley.

Serve hot right out of the skillet.

Enjoy!  Let me know what you think!

Tasty Tuesday: Kahlua Chocolate Cheesecake

So, last Tasty Tuesday I told you I’d share 2 of my versions of favorite dishes from one of my FAVORITE restaurants- The Cheesecake Factory.  If you still haven’t made that dish I gave you, well, that’s a bloody shame.  Its good.  Its REAL good.  As I type, I’ve got leftovers from the batch I made yesterday, and – although I had it for lunch- I’m contemplating having it for dinner.

But, that’s not what this week’s Tasty Tuesday is about.

THIS week, I’m going to share with you happiness.

THIS week, I’m going to share with you a good day in creamy, goodness-y (yes, its a word) form.

THIS week, I’m going to share my recipe for my version of their Kahlua Cocoa Coffee Cheesecake.

Like every other time, like I said, I searched the internet for a fabulous homemade rip off version to help quiet my craving, but after trying a couple of these poor excuses for replacements, I came up with my own.  That’s right- its all mine.  Pretty proud of myself, if I may say.

Now all I have to do is remind myself that just because I CAN make this fantabulous version at home whenever I want, I shouldn’t.  My taste buds thank me, but my waistline is NOT on speaking terms with me at the current moment.

Sooooo… you ready?  Good.  Here’s the recipe:

 

Kahlua Chocolate Cheesecake

Crust
10 chocolate graham cracker rectangles, broken up and pulverized… what?  Too harsh?
5 tbsp. butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp instant coffee granules
Cheesecake
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup Kahlua or 1/4 cup coffee-flavored liqueur
2 tablespoons butter
2 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
Directions:
Before beginning, let the eggs, cream cheese, and sour cream come to room temp for around 4 hours.  This is VERY important.  Do NOT skip this.
Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
Prepare chocolate crumb crust and press firmly into a nine-inch springform pan.  I like to use a straight edged measuring cup to really pack the crust down and help with pacing down the sides- something that can be kind of difficult to do normally.  Bake for 5-7 minutes.  You’ll be able to smell when its ready, but if not, don’t let it go over 7 minutes.  Set it aside to cool.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the chocolate with the Kahlua and butter; stir until smooth.  Try not to eat just that.  You’ll need it all for the cheesecake.  Now set it aside.
Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the room temp cream cheese with the sugar and salt at med./low speed until smooth and fluffy (about 2 minutes).  You can do this using just a really good hand mixer, but I like my stand mixer best.  It takes less time and less work.  It CAN be done without a stand mixer, though, so you have that option.
Next, beat in the flour on LOW, followed by the eggs- one at a time, and mix only until each egg is fully incorporated.  Scrape the bowl and add in the sour cream.  Once again, only mix until its fully incorporated.  Gradually blend in chocolate mixture.
Pour into prepared crust and bake for 35 minutes or until filling is barely set in center.
Turn off heat and let stand in oven for 15 minutes with door open; then take out of oven and let stand at room temperature for one hour. Refrigerate several hours or overnight.
Garnish with a spoon.  Ok, maybe some whipped cream and chocolate shavings would be nice.  A chocolate ganache would probably be pretty tasty, too, but I never got that far.  I dove into it the moment I was able.
Enjoy!  Let me know what you think!

Tasty Tuesday: “Evelyn’s” favorite pasta

We don’t go out that often.

Apparently, trying to offer up your kids as payment for a meal at restaurants is frowned upon and looked at as “wrong” and “poor parenting”.

Anyways, when we DO go out, one of my FAVORITE places to go is The Cheesecake Factory.  If you’ve never been there, I pity you- but never fear!  For the next two ‘Tasty Tuesdays’, I’m going to share MY recipes for two of my favorite dishes there.  Its one of my favorite things to do- figure out a way to make my favorite meals or items from favorite restaurants at home.  Even better is when Corey and I can work together to make the dish- bonus!

Anyways, on one of mine and Corey’s date nights, I tried a dish at The Cheesecake Factory (Evelyn’s Favorite Pasta) without even really knowing I had ordered a vegetarian meal.  Maybe not a big deal to some of you, but if you’ve learned ANYthing about me, you should know that I am NOT a vegetarian.  I’m actually under the mindset that God gave the world pigs JUST so I could have bacon.

This is all beside the point, though.  It wasn’t until I was gushing to the hubs about how yummy the leftovers were going to be, that my hunny said,”Yeah, maybe, but I need meat in my meals.”  I hadn’t even realized this was sans meat- it was THAT good.

So, I wrote down the ingredients and decided to wing it.  I think it came out pretty fabulous, if I DO say so myself.

The following is Amber’s Fantabulous Pasta.  I’m allowed to change the name since I’m not TECHNICALLY copying it.  I’m sure they did some sort of C.F. magic to make it a tad bit better.

1 can of NON marinated artichoke hearts

1 small bag of pine nuts, roasted

1 large eggplant, cubed and roasted on a sheet til soft

1 red bellpepper, roasted and cut into strips

1 small bag of sundried tomatoes, chopped

1 med. bag of broccoli florets, steamed

a container of Kalamata olives, halved

a few cloves of garlic, minced

a med. bag of penne pasta, cooked to your preference

Toss it all together with some olive oil, salt, pepper, fresh Rosemary, and oregano.  And don’t even THINK about digging in til you’ve added parmesean.

And, if you’re stomping your foot and saying,”Nope.  Not gonna happen.  No meat?  No way.”  Well, just add some meat.  Chicken would probably be pretty yummy in this.  I don’t think you’ll need it, though.

Oooo- roasted mushrooms would be AMAZING, too!

Now eat up.  You can thank me once your mouth isn’t full.

And, FYI- the leftovers of this dish were just as good.

***Tiny tip: If you’re wondering about the whole “roasting thing”, here are some pointers***

For the eggplant:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut the eggplant in half and then slice a diamond pattern in the flesh.  Sprinkle salt over both sides and try to get salt in the sliced pattern (about 1 1/2 tsp. total).  Set the halves aside for about 30 minutes to draw out all the moisture. While you’re waiting, line a baking sheet with parchment or foil.  When the time is up, gently squeeze out the moisture and pat the sides dry.  Brush the sides with olive oil (about 2 tsp. total), place on the baking sheet flash side down, and roast for about an hour.  You’ll know its ready when the eggplant has kind of collapsed and the bottoms of the sides have turned a deep caramel color.  Once they’re cool, scoop out the flesh.  It should come out diced and ready to go.

For the roasted bellpepper:  Peel it as much as possible with a veggie peeler, scrape out the insides, and cut it into 1/4-1/2 strips.  Toss with olive oil and roast with the eggplant on a separate baking sheet.  It should only take about 30-50 minutes to reach the right tenderness.

For the pine nuts:  Roast your pine nuts on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes, shaking halfway through. You can also toast them on top of the stove in a heavy skillet, stirring often until they turn golden.

Tasty Tuesday- Refried Beans

As I said last week after giving you the AMAZING Chilie Verde recipe, if you want a TRULY fantastic fiesta, you need to finish it off with sides- rice, tortillas, salsa… and refried beans.

Most of you probably just pictured THIS

and do I blame you?  No.  Honestly, canned is good in a pinch.  I remember catering my friend’s son’s 2nd birthday and after spending a LONG time making fresh refried beans, Camo picked up the tray the wrong way and the whole thing dumped out.  Making more was out of the question.  Luckily, my friend is forgiving and she sent her hubby to go buy some beans.

I learned something from that experience- use a cookie sheet under flimsy trays of heavy beans.  I was embarrassed, but, like I said, canned came through when I needed it.

However, if you have the time, the difference is HUGE and you’ll be happy.  Trust me.

Refried Beans

2 cups dried pinto beans, soaked overnight w/ water to cover by about 2 in. (if you forget this step, you can do a quick soak by covering the beans with HOT water, letting it come to a rapid boil for 2 minutes, removing it from the heat, and letting it sit for about 1 hour.  When its doen, empty the water, rinse, and follow the recipe as usual.)

1 bay leaf

3/4 c bacon fat or lard

2 c yellow onions, chopped

1 1/2 tbsp garlic, minced

1 1/2 tbsp seeded and minced jalapeno

1 1/2 tbsp chili powder

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cayenne

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp coriander

salt to taste

Combine beans, bay leaf, and enough water to cover by 1-2 inches.  Bring to a boil and then reduce it to a simmer UNCOVERED (unless you like to clean your stove up.  Just sayin’), stirring occasionally until  the beans are tender.  Very tender.  Maybe you like your pasta to be al dente, but generally, refried beans don’t have any bite.  Anyways, this could take anywhere from 1 1/2 -2 1/2 hours (maybe even longer if you only did the quick soak).  Add water as necessary to keep the beans covered.  When the beans are nice and soft, mash ’em up with a tator masher.  Remove the pot from the heat.

In a med. skillet, heat the bacon fat/lard over med./ hi heat.  Add the onions and cook about 4-6 minutes.  Add the remaining ingredients and cook 1 minute.  Add to the beans and stir to combine.

Cook about 15-20 minutes more over med. heat, adding a little water as necessary to keep the beans from drying out.  Taste it to see if you need to add salt.  If not, you’re done.

These are so tasty you might just decide its a meal by itself.  If you’re having a hard time justifying that, just ask me and I’ll be happy to help you find a way.

Add some cheese, maybe some scallions- yum.  Use for your Mexican fiesta as a side dish, or use it to top a tostada shell (they sell ’em in the Mexican aisle in the market).  Add some thinly chopped lettuce, tomato, and cheese and you’ve got a quick dinner- and I should know- I did this a few nights in a row when we were swamped with things to do around here.

Next week, I’ll give you a great recipe for Spanish rice.  The recipe is from my late grampa-in-law who said it was over 100 years old.  If THAT’S not enough to get you to come back, well, its also a WONDERFUL addition to the Chili Verde meal.

Yeah- that’s what I thought.  I’ll see you next week. 🙂

Tasty Tuesday- Dump Cake

Ok, so I know the name doesn’t sound great, lol, but this stuff is SO good.  I don’t even know if it can be qualified as a ‘cake’, but taste it and you won’t really care.

I figured that -with tomorrow being the 4th of July- almost everyone will be having some sort of bbq fun, and this dessert is the perfect accompaniment to anything.  I wish I could take credit for this, but I actually got it from my MIL, and SHE got it off a box of Betty Crocker or Pillsbury or something.

Wherever it originally came from, though, it doesn’t matter.  Its one of the easiest desserts EVER- you can ever put your little Natural Disasters to work making it while you do other things… like kick back with your feet up, cold beverage in hand.

Dump Cake

1 can (21 oz) cherry pie filling

1 can (8 oz) crushed pineapple, undrained

1 pkg yellow cake mix

1 cube butter, melted

Heat oven to 350.

Spread filling and pineapple in an ungreased 13×9 pan.  Stir cake mix and butter together in a separate bowl until crumbly.

Sprinkle evenly over fruit mixture.

Bake 35-40 minutes (until top is light brown).

Serve with Cool Whip or whipped cream or just by itself.  Its REALLY good.  I mean, really.  You’ll be happy, and so will all the other people at the bbq.

 

Tasty Tuesday: Chili Verde

Have I MENTIONED that I love food?

I mean, really, I do.  I love to cook it; I love to look at it; love to read about it… *sigh*

Wow.  I sound HIGHLY unbalanced.

I swear I’m not salivating as I write this.

Well, much.

Anyways, one of my favorite things to make for the citizens of Boystown is Chilie Verde.  What KIND usually depends on the best price I find on the meat when I’m shopping.  Sometimes its a boneless pork butt or picnic roast; sometimes its chuck (the kind of cut you’d use for pot roast); and sometimes its a few boneless/skinless chicken breasts.  It just depends, but whatever I use, its always tasty and gives AMAZING leftovers.

But, enough talking- let’s get to cooking, shall we?

Chili Verde

Sauce

4 onions, diced

1/2 cup chopped garlic

2 Serrano chilies, diced

1 jalapeno, diced

15-20 Anaheim chilies, roasted and seeded, peels removed as much as possible (if you don’t have any on hand, I’ll post a tip at the end of this for how to do it at home)

12-15 tomatillos (outer skins removed and given a good rinse), roasted

5 tbsp. garlic powder

1 tsp pepper

1 tbsp cumin

1 tbsp oregano

1 tsp coriander

2 tsp salt (I like to use 2 tsp of chicken bouillon- it adds a little bit more flavor for me 🙂 )

Remove seeds and as much of the skins of the peppers as possible.  Puree w/ tomatillos and place the mixture into a large pot.  If you’re one of those lucky ducks with a Vitamixer, I’m extremely jealous, and you MIGHT not even have to worry about getting all the skins off- considering a Vitamixer could puree a penny into a delicious -slightly metallic- smoothie.

Ok, maybe not.  But the peels, yes.  Let me know if you do.

In a med. saucepan over med. heat, add 1/2 cup olive oil.  Stir in onion, garlic, Serrano and jalapeno chilies.  Cook until soft.  Puree and add to the large pot.

Add garlic powder, pepper, oregano, coriander, and salt (or bouillon) to the large pot.  Stir well and simmer for 10 minutes.  Cool and separate into 2 cup amounts (zip lock freezer bags work awesome).  Freeze them until you feel it calling to you to use it.  I give it a week.  Maybe 2.

OR…

You can use one of those 2 cup portions to make yummy nummy Chili Verde for your family.  This is my choice.

Chili Verde Pork/Chicken/Beef

2 cups Chili Verde sauce

1/2 cup Olive Oil (+1/2 cup)

5 lbs trimmed pork shoulder/pork picnic roast/boneless,skinless chicken breasts/or trimmed chuck roast (whatever is the best price) (and, yes, it makes A LOT- I’ll post a recipe later for using some of those leftovers ;-D )

1 qt chicken broth

1/2 corn flour (masa)

Cover a large pot with 1/2 c olive oil.  When it gets hot enough (read: the oil starts to look shimmer-y), place the meat in.  Sear over med. heat til well browned on all sides.

Deglaze the pan with the broth, scraping the bottom to get the brown bits off.

Add chili verde sauce, turn heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

Now, from here you can stick it in the oven and cook at 350 for a couple of hours (or till it shreds easily), but I usually like to use the crock pot.  I live in an apartment and the oven isn’t always the greatest to use (especially during the Summer).  If you use the crockpot, just put the whole mixture in and cook on LOW for around 8 hours.  The last half hour, mix that 1/2 cup olive oil you had left and that masa to make a slurry.  Mix all of THAT into the crockpot.  It’ll help to thicken everything.

Oh, you can also do all this on the stove top, too: bring everything up to a boil and reduce to a slight simmer. Cook for 2-3 hours uncovered or until the pork pulls apart easily.

Serve this yummy-ness with refried beans and Spanish rice to have a great Mexican fiesta.  And if you don’t have any great recipes for either of those, then stay tuned- I do.  One of them is over 100 years old and is DELISH.

***As promised, here’s a tip for making your own roasted chilies.  There are SOME markets out there that will do all the work for you and give it to you in a bag, all ready to use, but they also charge you for that service.  Why pay when its SO easy?  Not to mention, fresh ALWAYS beats out.  Period.

So, what you want to do is take your peppers (and tomatillos you’ve taken the skins off of, if you’re making the sauce), put them on a cookie sheet and coat it all with olive oil.  Roast in a 350 oven until soft.  If need be (if they aren’t getting soft or you’ve noticed they aren’t peeling easily), you can roast them directly on the oven rack, but make sure to place the cookie sheet below to catch the oil and juices as they drip or your oven will smoke.

Once everything is soft, place the peppers into a plastic bag to steam.  (5 minutes should work, but you can basically let them til you’re ready to peel them.)***