Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mango-Pineapple Salsa

Wow. Um. Bad week. Really. For several of my friends. I'm gonna take my slip off the stairs, and go say that was child's play and fun compared to what my friends are going thru this week.

I promised I would put up the salsa recipe, so here it is.

Mango-Pineapple Salsa

1 mango, cut up
1/2 pineapple, peeled and cut up (core it if you REALLY wanna)
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped fine
2 jalapenos, chopped REALLY fine (to taste, aka if 2 is too much, don't use that much!)
1/2 large onion, chopped fine
juice of 1 or 2 limes
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped fine, seeded if you must
pinch of salt, if you want

Chop it up, mix it up. It's not hard, and it's not rocket science.


Substitute habenero pepper for the jalepeno.
I prefer RED onion, but there wasn't any to be had, so I used yellow onion.
The basic idea is to have a colorful, flavorful salsa there for you to eat.

I apologize for the abruptness of this one, but life is showing me that LIFE is important, and I need to go do some actual LIVING.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Homemade Pico de Gallo

Ok, so, yeah. I had a hankerin' for pico and mango salsa. I'll put the mango salsa recipe up tomorrow, after I make it. But here's this one.

Pico de Gallo, BRAT's WAY

1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
5 Roma tomatoes, small dice
1/2 white onion, small dice
1 jalapeno, seeded, VERY small dice
1 tsp salt
1 green bell pepper, small dice
juice of one lime

Chop it all up, mix it all up. Done. Serve with whatever you want. Tonight we are having shrimp, cheese and pico quesadillas.

Comment from City Girl: "This is kind of addictive."

Variations, and what I was GONNA do

Ok, so, I wanted RED onion and RED bell pepper. I highly suggest those. The store didn't have any of either when I went on either of the days I went. Bad store. This wasn't very "hot" at all. The jalapeno wasn't terribly laden with heat. And yes, I did de-seed and de-vein it. You could leave the veins in for some more heat. You can remove the seeds of the tomatoes if you wish. For some visual differences, try using heirloom tomatoes.

This is most excellent fresh, and you don't get that "overcooked" flavor you can get with canned (jarred) pico de gallo. It's easy as heck to do make, and is tasty as well as a fun way to sneak a serving of veggies in to some kids!

Shrimp Quesadillas

14 oz bag of 110 - 140 ct shrimp
flour tortillas
shredded cheese
that homemade pico de gallo up there
some kind of pan lubrication aka fat (butter, coconut oil, olive oil, etc.)

Get every thing all set out, so that you can grab the bits you want quickly. There are two ways to do the quesadillas. The 1 tortilla method or the 2 tortilla method.

1 Tortilla Method
1. Put about 1.5 tsp of fat in the pan. Let it melt/heat up. Lay your tortilla in the pan, then flip it over (not strictly necessary, but tasty).
2. Put shrimp on 1/2 of the tortilla. Sprinkle cheese over shrimp, and pico over cheese.
3. Carefully, fold over the other half of the tortilla and cook until the bottom is nice and golden brown.
4. Carefully flip the tortilla on to it's uncooked side, and cook it till THAT side is golden brown.
5. Place on plate, slice into two or three wedges, enjoy. You can put more pico on top if you wish!

2 Tortilla Method

1. Put about 1.5 tsp of fat in the pan. Let it melt/heat up. Lay your tortilla in the pan, then flip it over (not strictly necessary, but tasty).
2. Put shrimp on tortilla. Sprinkle cheese over shrimp, and pico over cheese.
3. Carefully, place another tortilla on top and cook until the bottom one is nice and golden brown.
4. Carefully flip the tortillas on to the uncooked side, and cook it till THAT side is golden brown.
5. Place on plate, slice into six wedges, enjoy. You can put more pico on top if you wish!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Grilled Beef, Jicama and Apple Salad

Tonight I made a recipe out of Ellie Krieger's cookbook So Easy. I made a couple of changes due to availability and stuff that I had on hand. Here's my version.


1.5 lbs of beef steak (choose cut according to your budget)
Salt & Pepper

1/4 cup [lime]lemon juice
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 TBSP sugar

1 large jicama (~1.5lbs)
3 Granny Smith Apples
[1/2 cup cilantro leaves]
[2 tsp lime zest]
[1 medium jalapeno, seeded and chopped finely]
3 tablespoons chopped roasted peanuts.

1. Season the steak, grill for 3 to 4 minutes on each side shooting for medium-rare, or until cooked for your family's preferences. Let rest while you do the rest.
2. In a medium bowl, mix the lime juice, vinegar and sugar together.
3. In a food processor, shred the jicama and apples. Add the shredded jicama and apples to the juice-vinegar mixture. Add the cilantro, jalapeno and zest, and mix all.
4. Slice the steak across the grain into thin 1/4" slices.
5. Mound about 1 1/2 cups of salad on plate, top with 1/4 of the steak, garnish with some cilantro leaves and peanuts.

****What I did differently. The ingredients in [] I didn't have. So I didn't use them. What I did have was lemon juice. I also chopped up 1/2 a large red onion, sauteed that lightly, chopped some green olives and artichoke hearts and layered those over the beef.

****What went wrong. I asked the kids to get out the food processor and the shredder plate. What I didn't check was how they had it set up. So, the jicama ended up more as pulp, as the knife was in the bottom, and the shredder plate was slice side up. My fault, I should have checked it.

****Next time? Shred, not pulp the jicama. This really did need the color of the red onion to be more attractive on the plate. I think that whatever other colorful veggies you have on hand would be great. Carrots, thinly sliced bell peppers, cherry tomatoes. I used the olives and artichoke hearts as a salty counterpoint to the acid and sweetness of the jicama and apples.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Kid's Cook, Part Deux

First, let me apologize for the last couple of weeks. A gymnastics accident for City Girl followed by the birth of a goat baby that needs to be bottle-fed has left me scatterbrained for the last couple of weeks.

Second, the kids' second plan and execute meal was assigned for last weekend. The parameters were healthy and tasty. They made use of my Christmas presents. Ellie Krieger's cookbooks.


Spring Rolls
White Bean Dip and homemade bread
Tuscan Chicken and Roast Vegetables
Raspberry Fool

I'll edit in the recipes as soon as I get back home, to the cookbook.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Kids Cook.

I homeschool my kids. I made an assignment. Each kid was to plan a menu, develop the shopping list and execute the meal. City Girl is 16, loves to eat nummy food, and loves the farm critters. When they end up on her plate. Farm Girl is 11, loves to eat, and doesn't mind large cows up close and personal.

City Girl's Menu

Spinach Artichoke Dip with Homemade Bread
Bratwurst with Fresh Tomato, Basil and Garlic over Pasta
Cheesecake with Mixed Berry Sauce

Links are to the original recipes.
Here's what we did different, and what we thought should be changed.
Spinach Artichoke Dip. We used homemade bread to dip with (we use the Artisan in 5 base recipe). She used the whole 33 ounce jar of artichoke hearts (I bought them at Sam's). They needed to be in the oven a bit longer to start browning the cheese on top. Almost everything should be a finer chop which may fix the issue of graininess. Otherwise, I think the other option is to use more mayo or cream cheese. We're gonna play around with different recipes.

Brats and Pasta Folks, we hate tomato sauces. (At least, my hubby and I do). The recipe was executed perfectly. Presentation (I shoulda took pics) was awesome. She needs a little work on her chiffonade, but hey, first time for doing it. We used dried herbs as we don't have any available fresh at the moment (except the basil). We used spaghetti instead of angel hair, as it was cheaper. (Any pasta will work). We just used plain Johnsonville brats. She over cooked the brats a bit (hubby doesn't mind). I wanted to like it, I really did. But I really don't like tomato sauces. However, she did it well, and she and Farm Girl really liked it.

Cheesecake We had 2 graham cracker pie crusts on hand. The recipe filled both of them. Make sure you use the bain marie method to cook cheesecake. The crusts got a bit overcooked, which may also have been because the thickness of the cheesecake was a lot less than it would normally be. It tasted great.

Berry Sauce The original was supposed to be strawberries. The strawberries at the store were either moldy or not fully ripe. Off to freezer section we went. So, I had originally requested raspberry sauce, and she couldn't find a recipe that was what she wanted, and the strawberry fit her requirements. I saw the bag of mixed berries, and we made the change right there. Bought some blackberry jam to pump the flavor a bit, and OMG, what a nummy treat. Use this on ice cream, cheesecake, a spoon or whatever.

Farm Girl's Menu

Stuffed Mushrooms
Shepherd's Pie

Stuffed Mushrooms. We used plain button mushrooms for these, and there was not enough space in the caps for the filling. Next time, we'll use bigger mushrooms. Maybe even Portobellos. They were tasty. We didn't measure the seasoning (used Italian seasoning, not thyme) and didn't use nutmeg. We just kinda mixed everything up (including the 'shroom stems). Totally used the recipe as a guideline for ingredients rather than an actual recipe.

Shepherd's Pie Alright, I'll be honest here. We used the recipe as a guideline for the shopping list. Here's what we did.

5 lbs ground pork
3 - 4 lbs red potatoes
2 lbs frozen green beans
1/2 large red onion, diced small
1 lb frozen corn kernels
2 small (8oz) cans tomato sauce
1 pound carrots, sliced
Italian seasoning, salt, pepper to taste
6 oz Asiago cheese, grated
as much garlic as you want
about 1/2 cup cream
4 TBSP butter

1. Peel potatoes, dice small (~1/4" to ~3/8" dice, they cook faster). Put in salted water, let come to a boil, and simmer until fork tender.
2. Raise and butcher 1 pig. While potatoes are boiling, grind about 5 pounds of pork. Or, just grab 5 lbs from the meat section of the store. Your choice. Mine's tasty. Takes a bit of space and time, though.
3. Drain potatoes, and put back in pan. Mash them with the cream, butter and 4oz of the Asiago. And as much garlic as you like. Salt and pepper to taste.
4. Brown the pork. Salt, pepper and Italian seasoning to taste. Add garlic if you like.
5. In a LARGE bowl, put the meat, frozen veggies, tomato sauce and onion. Mix like the dickens. I suggest starting with the meat and mixing with each individual vegetable, but that's just me. Check seasoning. Yes. Again.
6. Foil or otherwise ensure easier clean up in your large roasting pan. I mean the turkey roaster. There's a HUGE amount of food here. That's by design.
7. Pour meat mixture into pan. Top with potato mixture. Sprinkle remaining Asiago cheese on top. Put it in a 350 degree oven (or whatever, really, it's not fussy) for about 30 minutes or until the cheese and potatoes start to become that lovely goldeny brown color. Yes, the veggies will be crisp. You don't like that? Cook 'em till they are dead before you add them to the meat. They will be hot. I promise.
8. Serve with the other 1/2 of last night's cheesecake as dessert. What? You didn't have cheesecake last night? I'm sorry. My bad. What WERE you thinking?


Well, I've given some examples of how we change things up by providing you the original recipes. Why did I make so dadgummed much Shepherd's Pie? (Cottage Pie for you purists out there. Damn you, Gordon Ramsey.) Because although its easy, it's tedious. And it makes GREAT planned leftovers. You don't want to throw so much in one huge pan? Fine, use a few smaller ones. They may fit in your freezer easier. And we don't actually mind eating the same thing for several days in a row. And we have a crazy ass schedule where we aren't home until 9pm several days of the week (Ok, that's CITY girl's fault. But we love her, so we'll forgive her.) And either way, SHE and her DAD don't get home till then the rest of the week. So, if it just has to get warmed up...BONUS.

Ok, I think I've bent your eyeballs enough today. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

My Take on Curry Sauce

It's not authentic by any means. Well, it's got all authentic ingredients, and it is totally YUMMY. (Well, we think so.) This is one time that I don't substitute brands for the main ingredient.

1 TBSP your oil of choice
1 TBSP (more or less, to taste) MAE PLOY brand Curry Paste (Yellow, Green, Red, Mussaman, Penang..you choose)
1 can coconut milk
Fish Sauce
Rice Vinegar

Heat oil in a 1 qt saucepan (use what you got, that happens to be what I use). When hot, add curry paste. Saute until fragrant. If the kids can smell it in the living room, it's good. That's about 20 feet away, in our case.

Add small amount, maybe 1/4 of the can of coconut milk. Stir until smooth and bubbly. Add in 1/4 can increments until entire can is incorporated.

Add fish sauce and vinegar. The fish sauce is the Thai equivalent of salt/soy sauce. It's EASY to add more. Impossible to take out if you add to much. The vinegar gives a little wake-up to the taste buds. I add about 1/2 TBSP of each, but seriously, start with 1 tsp and work your way up.


Really, that's not enough?

To make this more authentic, add lemongrass, shrimp paste, some galangal and or ginger. Changing which curry paste you use will make a huge difference in the taste of the resulting sauce.

I personally do NOT use Massuman, Penang or Yellow curry pastes. This is because of a food allergy. Yellow curry for absolute certain has the offensive ingredient. I'm 90% certain the other two, do as well. I like breathing. Said ingredient interrupts the breathing cycle. Namely, the breathing in part.

What do I do with this stuff?

Fix your favorite sausage, rice or spaghetti, and veggie. Top with sauce.
Top ANY roast meat.
Spicy smashered taters.
"Spicy Wice" That's 3 year old-ese for Spice Rice. My youngest LOVES hot stuff.
Wing sauce

We love the stuff, and generally can't get enough.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Pizza, My Way

One of our favorite things is pizza. People look at me strangely when I say I make ours from the crust up. Adjust it to fit your family's needs and likes/dislikes.


~1/4 recipe of the Artisan Bread base recipe
~1/2 cup of mayonnaise
3 to 4 cloves garlic
1 to 1 1/2 TBSP Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix (I buy this in the bulk container)
~1 to 1 1/2 lbs of meat(s) of choice
Assorted vegetables
Shredded cheese (tailor this to match the meat/veggies, but Mozzarella always works in a pinch)

pre-step 1: About an hour or up to several hours before hand, mix the mayonnaise with the Ranch Dressing Mix and the minced garlic (shove it through a press). Cover and let the flavors meld.
1. Roll out the dough into a round shape (or whatever shape your flat baking pan is). I use 15" AND 13" pizza stones by Pampered Chef. It's what I have! Put a little cornmeal on the stone to help prevent sticking (if your stone isn't well seasoned yet).
2. Put the crust in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes. This basically starts the cooking process, and makes sure that you don't have a soggy crust.
3. Meanwhile, prepare your toppings. I have used cooked chicken breast, homemade italian meatballs (tiny), bell peppers of all colors, broccoli, onion, olives...you name it.
4. Get the crust out of the oven. Spread the mayo mix on the crust, top with the meat, then the veggies. Cover with cheese. Put it all back in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until the chesse is melty and starting to brown a bit.
5. Remove from oven, slice it up, and prepare to welcome the adoring accolades of your family. Really. They will RAVE about this to everyone. I know. I've been there.


What...I didn't give you enough leeway?

Chocolate pizza: Use a chocolate sauce as the "base" sauce, add in flavorings, top with fruit and coconut. It's done when the coconut is starting to get toasty goldeny brown.

Sauces: We use the garlic Mayo sauce because tomato sauce hurts our stomachs. Regular Ranch dressing works in a pinch. But go a head and doctor up some tomato sauce with Italian seasoning and Rosemary for a more traditional Pizza sauce.

Enjoy your Pizza!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Quick...What Is IT?

My family is so damn helpful sometimes. The let me know what they want to eat, and when they want to eat it. They are especially good at this when I ask them what they might like to eat for the next week or so. You feel the sarcasm dripping off these last three sentences, don't you? I thought you might.

So, gee, Mom...what's for dinner? HELLIFIKNOW! But they still expect to get food...So, going through the pantry, here's what I came up with

Spaghetti and sausage with Curry Sauce

20 ounce package of sausage, your choice of flavor. (Just so happened that I had a package of Johnsonville 4 Cheese Italian)
1 can coconut milk
1 TBSP Green Curry Paste
2 tsp Rice Vinegar
2 tsp Fish Sauce (what, you don't have this stuff on hand???? Calm down, keep reading!)
1 TBSP or so oil of choice (Yes, Byn, coconut oil is an EXCELLENT choice here!)
Pasta (however much and whatever kind you want to feed your group)

1. Start cooking the pasta. Boil water, add salt, add the pasta, cook to al dente...that's the usual way of it.
2. When the water starts boiling start cooking the sausages. Nice and brown on all sides. Turn off heat when fully cooked.
3. At the same time IN A DIFFERENT PAN, heat the oil. Add the curry paste when the oil is hot, stirring pretty well constantly. Saute until your husband in the very back of the house can smell it...or about three to four minutes. Lower the heat!
4. Shake that coconut milk before you open it. Add about 1/4 of the can to the curry paste. Stir it well until it starts bubbling. Add another 1/4 can. Stir. Add the rest. Stir. Add in the vinegar and fish sauce.
5. Drain pasta. Slice the sausage thinly.
6. To serve: place pasta on plate, add sausage, top with curry sauce.

Variations and Explanations

Fish sauce is used in Thai cooking in place of salt. I'll spare you the details of how it's made. Rice vinegar is the acid agent I use to put that "zing" in my Asian sauces. You can substitute soy sauce or regular salt (but I wouldn't, Fish sauce is cheap.) And you can use any light colored vinegar. Be sure to start out slow and add more if needed. You can add more, but you can't take it out if you put too much in.

Sausage: There are SO many options here. Cheesy brats, chicken sausage, pork sausage, ACTUAL REAL Chorizo, beef sausage....

Pasta: whole wheat, spaghetti, rotini, shells, bow-tie,

Instead of pasta: rice, mashed potatoes

I highly recommend serving with green beans, or broccoli. YUM.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Stores are Out of Food...

Damn, a whole week late. Guess I'll grab this one today, and figure out what to throw at you guys tomorrow. Sorry, I'm snowbaked, and the animals have been top priority with this crazy weather.

With the blizzard(s) that have smacked Oklahoma in the last two weeks, the store shelves are bare of certain staples. Like milk and eggs and butter. And for the love of dawg: BREAD.....what? There was plenty of the GOOD bread in the bakery, and plenty of bread making ingredients, but that horrible white "just past dough" bread had flown off into the wilds.

Yes, I have a distinct bias against what is laughingly sold in our grocery stores as bread. If you use it to sop up the juice from your roast, it turns into a slimy disgusting mess. For the love of all that is GOOD, peaple, make bread. It's easy, it takes very little time, and it's SO much better.

But, Brat, you have to do all that kneading. And that hurts my wrists (shoulders, little finger). BAH, I say, BAH! The book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day has forever changed that. The basic recipe has been posted on-line in several locations, and I'll post my version here. Let me just say, that if my twelve year old can master this bread, so can you.

Basic Recipe

3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast (buy it by the pound folks. really)
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
6 1/2 cups of flour (UNBLEACHED all purpose) Notice, I did NOT say to sift this.

a little cornmeal
2 cups hot water

1. Mix the yeast into the water and add the salt. Use a REALLY BIG bowl. Like Huge.
2. Scoop the flour into your measuring cup using a spoon, and use a knife to level off the top. Add flour cup by cup into the water, and mix it. You may or may not need to use that last 1/2 cup or so. The dough will be much wetter than you are used to. This is fine. By now, you have invested, at most, ten minutes. Or if you are REALLY smart...make the kids do it.
3. Cover the bread and let it sit there and do its thing for a couple of hours. At this point, you can make a loaf, or you can cover it with a lid and put it in the fridge. I'll assume you want to make something now.
4. Flour up your hands. Spread some flour on the top of the bowl of dough, and scoop out the bread. Here's a video that shows how it's done. Form your loaf, and let it sit for 30 to 40 minutes. (Sprinkling cornmeal on the surface where you are resting your loaf is a good idea, but flour will work in a pinch.)
5. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 500F, with your pizza stone inside (middle). And the pan that your water will go into (lower).
6. Slash the top of your loaf artfully. I have not has sticking problems, but I use a regular knife, not a serrated one. Flour the top of the loaf a bit if you are using a serrated knife. Gently move the bread from the board you had it on, into the oven onto your pizza stone (that is on the middle of the oven). Pour the hot water into the pan (sacrifice a cheap roasting pan to the bread gods. Really, it makes that much of a difference).
7. Bake at 450F for 30 to 45 minutes depending on the size loaf you are making, and the composition of said loaf.
8. Remove from oven, allow to cool, slice with a serrated knife (yep, trust me, it's MUCH easier), serve with dinner. Oh, who are we kidding here...if homemade bread survives in your house longer than 5 minutes when made one loaf at a time, you are obviously single. Or at least not attached to the crew I am. The bread usually doesn't have time to get from oven to cutting board before the vultures are circling and ready to drop and devour the entire loaf in 2 minutes.

This bread is crunchy with a great texture, and it makes the whole house smell AWESOME!


I know, I know. This is what you were waiting for. Right? I can hear them now. But BRAT, bread loaves are great, but you can't make hamburger buns, flat bread, garlic sticks (insert your random choice here) at home. Wanna bet?

With the basic recipe, we have made buns for our pulled pork sammiches, flat bread, garlic sticks, rolls, pizza dough and badness knows what else. In the books, there are a LOT more recipes. I don't use them...because I don't own the books. Hey, single income here. The book budget is overrun with home school books.

You don't like white bread. Or don't want to eat it for whatever your reasoning is. Fine, no problem, they wrote Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Me, I just substitute in some whole wheat flour for some of the white flour. If you are making whole wheat bread (no white flour), you probably need some wheat gluten to help it rise.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Oatmeal, My Way

Sorry this late, but I was sick on Friday

Oatmeal. It's a great way to start your day. Warms you up, high fiber, healthy. Boring. WAIT.....It doesn't have to be.

All those high sugar oatmeal packets can be made at home for a fraction of the cost, and without all the sugar.

The recipe on the back of the oatmeal can says: 1/2 c oatmeal, 1 cup water, and some sugar. No. No. No. and NO!

Oatmeal, Unboring

1/2 cup oatmeal
1 cup milk, almond milk, soy milk or another milk substitute (TRUST ME!)
1/4 cup dried fruit
1/4 cup flaked coconut (unsweetened is healthier, if you have sweetened, you don't need any other sweetner)
1 - 3 tsp of your favorite sweetening agent

Here's how I do it. In a small pan on put the milk and the oatmeal. Warm up and cook until it is the consistency YOU like. I like mine somewhat runny, not thick enough to stand a spoon in. Pour into your bowl, add the fruit, coconut, and sweetener if needed. Stir it up, and enjoy a nice warm breakfast.

I have used raisins, dried cranberries, and blueberries. I like the coconut, you don't have to use it, if you don't want to. Like I said, I don't need to use any kid of sweetener if I use coconut.