I haven't posted much in a long while; I've been kind of busy, but that's just a sorry excuse for not trying hard enough. I made this blog to inspire me, to create more, and not get dragged into a rut of routine. I loathe routine.
Routine is the trestle to death.
I'm in making a winter resolution to write more. Post more. Take more pictures. Sing more. Laugh more. Live more. Tell my wife that I love her. Grab life by the balls and take it with me wherever I go. I'm feeling inspired and I don't want this feeling to go away.
To the both of you that read this, I suggest that you do the same.
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They're at Jack in the Box. Maybe you forgot them when you were dunking a Hella-Peño Munchie Meal down your neck last night.
4 bell peppers (red or yellow)
1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups chicken broth or water
¾ lb ground turkey
1 cup yellow onion, chopped
1-2 carrots, fine dice
1 14oz can of tomato sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder
⅓ cup chopped parsley
1 cup crumbled feta cheese, plus extra for topping
½ tsp salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut bell peppers in half lengthwise, removing seeds and ribs. Place in a large backing pan, drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, then place into the oven until slightly tender, about 10-15 minutes.
Place quinoa in a sauce pan with 2 cups liquid (broth or water) and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until all the liquid is absorbed (10-15 minutes). Set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat in a large saute pan and add onions and carrots. Cook until tender, about 3-5 minutes then add in turkey meat breaking it up with a spoon as it cooks. Once turkey is cooked through stir in tomato sauce, spices, cooked quinoa, parsley and 1 cup feta.
Place stuffing into slightly cooked peppers (removing any liquid that has accumulated in the pepper beforehand), then sprinkle tops with the extra feta.
Place back in the oven and bake for 25-35 minutes, or until cooked through and slightly brown on top.
"Tired of serving the same donuts your guests they've had before, now your guests think you're such a bore. And it's never any fun when you try and share just one. No Problem.
Step into the Big Top Donut Shop. The fast, fresh, and easy way to make delicious donuts that are as big as you head... Sure everyone loves donuts, especially when they are 25 times bigger!"
It is not a joke. There is also Big Top Cupcake and Big Top Cookie too.
Flamin' Hot Cheetos have been one of my favorite snacks ever since they came out. When they upped the ante with Chile y Limon Hot Cheetos (that's Lime and Chile for you gringos), I didn't think snacks could get any better. But when I tried Takis for the first time, I knew I was in 7-11 heaven.
The funny thing is, I don't eat snacks. I don't really eat chips much or pretzels or candy bars. It's not that I'm above it, I just don't eat snacks much. I'm not a snacker.
But I've been on the Takis kick for about a year now. I often find myself eating them for breakfast, with a cup of coffee, with chopsticks at my desk so that I don't get neon red dust on everything.
If you haven't tried Takis yet, you are missing out. If you haven't tried Chile Y Limon Hot Cheetos, you are missing out. If you haven't tried eating your Flamin Hot Cheetos or Takis with chopsticks, you are missing out.
And just when I thought Takis couldn't get any more fetch... a friend sent me this!
I finally got around to gathering up all the photos from our trip to Garmany and France last year. The best part? Dragging an 18 month old around of course! Thanks to Ned and Mona for hosting, they were most gracious.
Dried seaweed and algae as snacks. Low in calories, low in carbs, heaps of vitamins and minerals. And don't forget about iodine, which is going to make its big comeback this year. Since no one is eating iodized table salt and everyone has gone Kosher salt, goiter is going to rear its ugly head and the only thing that's going to save us is kelp chips.
Kale is still hot. Kale chips with truffle salt. Kale, chopped fine, makes a divine intervention into otherwise plain white rice. Kale juice is the next logical step because it takes so much masticating to consume it.
Almond butter is coming back. I just re-upped at the health food store with the "grind-your-own" machine. Peanuts kill. Almonds are one of the more civilized nuts. Throw a tablespoon in your kale smoothie - not kidding.
Chia remains on its warpath. Like a platoon of Incan warriors marching up the coast, chia continues to work its way into the parlance of the water cooler. This superfood is not only beginning to dethrone Flaxseed as the big Omega 3 champ, but it is dipping its mitts into baked goods too as a fat substitute.
Hempseed is seeing another renaissance. Not since Bill Clinton didn't inhale have I seen as many hemp products on the shelves of Main Street. It is also high in Omega 3, protein, fiber, and tastes great. Tastes like the '60's as I'm told.
Being the cheapskate that I am, I loaded up on dried beans at the health food store the other day. Pinto, black, fava, and just for kicks I grabbed two kinds that I've never worked with before: mung and adzuki. I've been making curry with lentils for so long and calling it Dhal that I didn't even realize Dhal could be made with mung beans.
I discovered a recipe over at Lisa's Kitchen for Creamy Mung Dal Curry while Googleing "what do I do with mung beans?" and thank the lard, because her recipe sounds fantastic. I made a variation and even though this is quite different from Lisa's I used hers as a base.
Once you plan ahead enough to soak the mung beans the night before, this comes together pretty easily. There is another hour or so of cook time, but there isn't much meddling. If you don't use butter, like I did, it can be vegan.
- 1 pound of cauliflower, washed and chopped into 2 inch sized pieces
- 1 cup mung beans, soaked in water overnight
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/2 teaspoon powered ginger
- 1 can tomatoes
- 1 can of coconut milk
- 1 can tomato paste
- juice of 1 lemon
- salt & pepper to taste
Pre-heat the oven to 400. Toss the cauliflower with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Place in the oven and roast until the edges of the florettes brown, about 30 minutes.
The technique is a straight-foward curry. In a large pot over medium-high heat, bloom the spices in about 2 tablespoons of oil stirring often. I used 1 tablespoon each of butter and olive oil but you can use anything you like. Have the tomato paste ready and once things start to smoke, about 4 minutes in, dump the paste in and stir like crazy.
Cook the paste for a few minutes, stirring continuously and add the can of tomatoes and the coconut milk once the paste starts to stick to the pot. Add the beans and enough water to cover them, if necessary.
Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook until the beans are soft, 40-65 minutes. When the cauliflower is roasted, stir them into the mung beans.
Once the mung beans are soft, serve over Coconut Saffron Basmati Rice, wrap in tortillas for Awesome Dhal Burritos, or serve in lettuce wraps. Top with a dollop of yogurt and curl up to a bad comedy.
I guess we were the perfect people to receive such a gift as we cooked it right up and saved the ham bone for further use. I was craving a home cooked comforting soup the other night and got this going on the stove.
I used pinto beans because we had a giant bag of them sitting around but it would also be great with cannellini beans or navy beans. This is the perfect soup on a cold winter evening. Enjoy!
Ham Bone and Pinto Bean Soup
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, coarsly chopped
- 1 can chopped tomatoes
- 1 ham bone with some ham left on it
- 10 cups water or chicken broth (or combination)
- ½ teaspoon herbs de provence
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cups dried pinto beans, sorted and soaked overnight
In a large pot, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil on medium heat and add onion, celery and carrots. Saute until vegetables soften, about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and chopped tomatoes. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Add ham bone, water/broth, herbs de provence, and bay leaf.
Bring liquid up to a boil then lower heat and let simmer for 1 hour. Stir in beans and cook for an additional 2 hours. Remove ham bone and pull off any remaining meat. Chop the meat into desired size and add back into the soup.
Check soup for seasonings and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.
Optional garnishes: Top soup bowls with grated Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of olive oil or pass around some of your favorite hot sauce.
Turkey, strawberry jam, and cream cheese? I first heard of the Elena Ruz in the sandwich issue of Saveur Magazine (April 2011). My gut reaction was, "gross," but my cranium was intrigued. My thoughts went to Habana, the sand between my toes and the crisp smell of coconut-scented suntan lotion in the air. It must be good.
I never knew about how many amazing Cuban sandwiches there were until I read this thread on Chow. Many of their sandiches are also rolled up and called bocaditos. They seem to have much of the same custom as the British with tea, only the Cubans do it with coffee.
The Elena Ruz itself has it roots in some conflicting and varied histories. One such story is that was invented by Babe Rush's wife while he was playing baseball in Cuba. She asked a waiter at the Hotel Nacional in Havana to prepare her a sandwich that her grandmother used to make.
Another origin revolves around a once popular restaurant in Habana called El Carmelo, located in the area of Vedado at Twenty-third and G Streets. Some people it was an American patron who frequented the during the years of 1945 and 1948. The rumor was that Elena's last name was Rush, and was thus pronounced Ruz.
I think the most interesting history revolves around a young Cuban socialite named Elena Ruz Valdez-Faulli, a relative of Fidel and Raul Castro (whose mother's maiden name, they claim, is Ruz). The real Elena Ruz is 101 year young, alive and well and living in, you guessed it, Miami - or according to this article, Costa Rica.
In any case, the meaty-sweety combination makes this delicious all day long: it could be a hearty breakfast, a light lunch, an afternoon snack, dinner I suppose, or a late night treat. What it would would be especially adept at would be soaking up Thanksgiving leftovers.
Here is the recipe from Saveur:
- 1 Cuban roll or brioche bun
- 2 tbsp. cream cheese, softened
- 3 oz. sliced turkey breast
- 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
Split roll, spread cream cheese on bottom half, and top with turkey. Spread jam on top half of roll and close sandwich. Heat butter in a 10″ skillet over medium heat; cook sandwich, weighing down with a cast-iron skillet and turning once, until golden brown and heated through, 3–4 minutes. Cut in half, and serve hot.
By all accounts the sandwich is done in a panini-style, and some have the crusts cut off. Sometimes I don't feel like dragging our panini press out (sometimes, like ever) and so here is my more approachable, everyday adaptation:
Take 1 English Muffin, split and toast it. Spread your Cream Cheese on thick, like a bagel in NY. Add a large dollop of Strawberry jam. Fold 2-3 slices of Turkey on top. Enjoy!
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I love hot sauces. Mexican, Asian, Southern, thick, thin, red, green, brown. I'm not picky. I love them all. Los Angeles' own Sriracha Thai-style hot sauce is one of my personal favorites. It has a white rooster and green screwcap on a backdrop of bright red deliciousness that is recognizable from 50 yards away. For those who have some difficulty pronouncing Sriracha, they just call it Rooster-sauce.
A Louisiana-style hot sauce is also always a staple in our house. Usually these are watery, vinegary, and often have a backbone of paprika and black pepper notes. Tobasco took the Louisiana-style to the moon and back. Even celebrity chefs like Jaques Pepin use it; like advocating the addition of a squirt or two into his French onion soup.
I'm not a big fan of Tobasco. Although I'll sprinkle it, I feel like it lacks much flavor. Maybe I'm just too used to it. Maybe your average bottle at the diner has been sitting next to the sugar, salt, and maple syrup for 6 or 7 years. In any case, for Louisiana I prefer Crystal and Red Rooster.
I decided to put Sriracha and Red Rooster into a Title Bout, pitting them in a no holds barred battle of the heat...
In the first corner with the little green cap, hailing from Los Angeles, at 31 years of age and weighing 17 ounces, fighting in a Muay Thai style, from Huy Fong Foods, SRIRACHA!!!
In the second corner with the bright yellow shirt, from New Iberia Louisiana, 83 years young and weighing 12 ounces, fighting in a Southern Preying Mantis style and from Bruce's Foods, RED ROOSTER!!!
Trader Joe's Toaster Oven Gorditas
Both levels of heat were appropriate and necessary, the Gorditas are pretty bland on their own. Although neither sauce was anything like a Mexican picante sauce, they both worked well. The dry corn pupusa-like shells absorbed the sauces almost completely.
The Result: A Draw!
Both were good and I couldn't eat these things without hot sauce.
Deep Dish Pizza
We opted for a layer of spicy Giardiniera on this and it was a load hotter than either of us expected. My face and neck sweated profusely as I pounded out this battle but I prevailed in determining a winner. I can't say I entered the fight without prejudice, I fully expected Red Rooster to win. I have been putting Louisiana hot sauces on my pizza since before I learned how to use a fork.
The Result: Sriracha!
I liked the strategic placement the squirt bottle top provided and how the thicker Sriracha stayed where it was placed. It also has a little sweetness which may have given me that extra edge against the heat to continue judging.
Tin Roof Sundae
Oh no he didn't! Oh yes he did! This half gallon of Tin Roof Sundae kept taunting me every time I went into the freezer, haranguing me, challenging me. Well, with great power comes great responsibility and I couldn't let anyone down in case they were looking for a hot sauce comparison with ice cream.
The Result: Sriracha!
Again, I came in with prejudice. I thought the garlic in Sriracha would make it an unbearable mix with the fudge swirls but when I hit a peanut, it reminded me of Pad Thai. The Red Rooster has no distant cousins on tin roofs.
This was a tough decision. I wonder if I did this battle with Taco Night 10 times what the end result would be. The sharp vinegary-ness of Red Rooster was strong and held its own against the seasoning of the ground beef.
The Result: Sriracha!
Again, both sauces worked well but it was the smart-bomb delivery system that comes from the magic green squirt top. I was able to place the exact amount on each bite right where I wanted it to hit my tongue. This was a close, hard-fought battle.
Eggs, cheese, English Muffins - a staple around here. Having a good hot sauce makes a good thing wonderful and this was another fight I was especially interested in the outcome. The paprika and black pepper notes in the Red Rooster aided their cause well, the garlic and catsup-y consistency of Sriracha benefited their camp.
The Result: Sriracha!
I think it came down to our American association of eggs with catsup. Sriracha is like catsup's bigger, more worldly older brother that spent time abroad and came back kissing women on the cheek and saying things like, "Ciao."
This battle was in Sriracha's back yard. We had some Pad Thai and some Eggplant in Green Curry. The squirt bottle top was playing in the Thai fighter's favor but the piquant acidity of the Red Rooster put up a solid defence.
The Result: Red Rooster!
Well, if you bet on Sriracha winning this one, you lost. I'm not exactly sure what it was that I liked so much in the Red Rooster; maybe it added some flavors that were not already present in the Thai dishes that gave it a little more depth. Who knows?
Chicken Tacos and Homemade Black Beans
This was another close one. The Red Rooster had an early lead, that Sriracha closed in on. Both faired well. Although either would suffice in lieu of a real Mexican hot sauce, I would have much rather had some Tapatio, Pico Pica, or Valentina (mmm, Valentina).
The Result: Sriracha!
In the end, it came down to delivery again. With a finger-food, like a taco, precise delivery is the key to success.
Stouffer's Frozen Lasagne
The Stouffer's product is a good one as is, and especially with some homemade garlic bread and a salad - but it could still use a little pick me up. I tend to touch this up with a dash of hot sauce so this was another result I was curious about.
The Result: Sriracha!
Again I thought Red Rooster would take the cake, again I was made a fool. The garlic melded well with the Italian fare. That little green squirt top is like a flavor laser, it goes right where you want it.
The Final Countdown: Sriracha wins with a 6-1-1 record. I didn't think it would be the landslide that it was. I love my Louisiana-style hot sauce and I especially love Red Rooster. There are always 4-6 hot sauces in the rotation at any given point in our fridge. It's not as if I am going to put Sriracha on everything and it does surprise me a bit that it won so many close battles. It is one heck of a condiment however, and there's good reason why Huy Fong Foods is now building a brand new $40 million, 655,000 square foot facility to keep up with demand.
Long live sauces with roosters on them!