We received a free week (3 meals) of meals from Blue Apron as a Christmas gift from my brother and sister-in-law and I was excited to receive our first delivery to our doorstep yesterday. It’s pretty simple, you start by signing up for an account in which you specify your plan type (2-person, family), dietary profile (i.e. vegetarian, pescetarian, omnivore), you pick the day of the week that works best for you to receive deliveries, and you select the 3 recipes/meals you’d prefer for that week. They ship everything you need to make the meals and the printed recipes to follow. Last night, we cooked our first Blue Apron meal and it was a success! We made this salad, with a few alterations of our own to suit our tastes; we substituted Parmesan cheese for the blue cheese and used a French vinaigrette dressing in place of the creamy one it came with the ingredients for. At first, I was worried it wouldn’t be filling enough for dinner, but the portion size was more than enough and with the bread and potatoes it came with it was just right. I’m really excited to try some new things – we often eat out or order in and when we do cook it is often the same things, so it’s nice to not only cook more at home, but also get out of our cooking rut and try something new. I’m looking forward to another new recipe and a home cooked meal tonight!
Our Christmas cards (another Ryan Molloy original!) are in the mail and, short of treating myself to a glass of soy eggnog, I am ready…bring on the Christmas! I’ve got a whole box of holiday movies ready to be watched; here’s a few of my favorites…
- National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – There’s no shortage of hilarious scenes, like…”Hallelujah! Holy shit! Where’s the Tylenol?“
- Meet Me in St. Louis – This gets me every time… (and the scene in The Family Stone too)
- Love Actually – Hugh Grant dancing!
- Elf – “You sit on a throne of lies.”
Thinking of doing some holiday baking?
- Chocolate Peppermint Marshmallows
- Candy Cane Peppermint and White Chocolate Swirl Cake
- These all look good!
- Christmas Morning Muffins
Wishing you and yours the happiest of holidays!
We pulled all the onions from our garden, cleaned them up, and put them in a basket to use in cooking; I really love the color of these onion skins too – aren’t they lovely? And we found this pretty, gold-rimmed glass at an estate sale last week and I thought it looked quite nice filled with these dark red alstroemeria.
Speaking of cooking, Ryan used up most all of our garden tomatoes making a green zebra gazpacho (he used a version of this recipe, with a combination of green zebra and granny smith tomatoes we grew) and our garden peppers making hot sauce – yum, I’m looking forward to enjoying all of this!
Not only do we have some yummy chili to look forward to for dinner tonight, we also made some fresh guacamole, turkey avocado guacamole sandwiches for lunch, and a skillet cookie cake which we followed this recipe for. It’s been a good day to stay busy cooking up delicious eats in the kitchen; Ryan is outside right now shoveling our sidewalks and driveway again and the snow is still piling up.
It’s a very snowy Super Bowl Sunday and nothing goes better with being “snowed-in” and watching people talk about deflated balls, Katy Perry, and occasionally puppies than a nice comforting bowl of chili.
- 2 red bell peppers, roasted then diced
- 1 poblano pepper, roasted then diced
- 1 small white onion, roasted then diced
- 1 large jalapeño, roasted then minced
- 3 cloves of garlic minced
- 2 28oz cans of crushed tomatoes
- 1 can of red beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil (we used a chipotle infused oil)
- 2 tbsp dark chili powder
- 1 1/2 tbsp smoked chili powder
- 1/2 tsp chipotle powder
- 1 tbsp molé spice
- 1 heaping tbsp (about 1-2 tbsp) of good chocolate shaved
- salt to taste
Heat an oven to 350. Slice the onion into large slices. Put the onions and peppers in a large roasting pan/dish, then coat with some olive oil. Place into the oven to roast. Roast them until the peppers start to brown/blacken. Flip them occasionally to make sure they roast evenly. Set aside to cool. Once cooled peel the skins of the peppers, deseed, and dice. Dice the onion as well.
Heat a large pot to medium heat. Add the oil into the pot, let heat up then add the garlic. Cook until it starts to brown. Add the onion and peppers. Cook for about another minute. Add the chili powders and chocolate. Cook until everything is well incorporated. Add the the tomatoes. Bring to a boil then lower heat to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes (or more). Add the beans and cook for another 5 minutes. Salt to taste. Serve to your liking. We’ve got a bag of Fritos ready to go for some Frito pie.
We decided to make some soup to warm us up from the cold weather that finally arrived. So I made a spin on a classic, spaghetti-os. It is a simple roasted tomato & red pepper soup with circle shaped pasta, anelli, added to it.
- 1 package of anelli pasta (or any other circle shaped pasta)
- tomatoes on the vine (about 24 small/medium sized ones)
- 6 red bell peppers
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 5 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup red wine + a little more to splash in later
- a heaping tablespoon dried oregano
- a heaping tablespoon of course ground black pepper
- enough olive oil for roasting the red peppers and tomatoes and cooking the onion and garlic
- salt to taste
Roast the tomatoes and red peppers, lightly coated with olive oil, in an oven at 350° for about 35-45 minutes or until they start to blacken here and there. Set aside to cool. Once cooled enough to the touch core the tomatoes and cut the stems and deseed the red peppers. Cut the red peppers into strips (if your blender is powerful enough no need to do this). Put the tomatoes and red peppers in a blender and puree. Add some olive oil to a large soup pot over medium heat. Sweat the onions and garlic, about five minutes. Add the red wine and bring to a boil. Cook until the red wine reduces. Once reduced add the tomato and red pepper puree. Add the oregano, pepper, and a few extra splashes of red wine. Simmer for at least 10 minutes to get the flavors to mix. Salt to your taste preference. You can puree the soup again at this point, or just let the onions and other ingredients add a bit of texture to it. I’m lazy so I just left it as is.
In a separate container cook the pasta according to the directions. Once cooked you can add it directly to the soup. The pasta will soak up some moisture in the soup when stored, so if you can’t eat it all when you make it I recommend coating the pasta in some olive oil with a sprinkle of sea salt, storing it separately, and just add the pasta to the soup before serving. “The greatest invention since the napkin.”
We enjoyed a lovely New Year’s Eve with friends and followed it with a full day of house cleaning and a delicious dinner of pan-fried yellow lake perch, rosemary cornbread, roasted potatoes, and black-eyed peas (we used this recipe as a guide, but Ryan gave it his own spin). Here’s hoping that the new year brings us all plenty of good luck!
Several years ago one Christmas my Dad suggested making French toast with panettone, Italian for bread with stuff in it. While we had never thought to try that it made perfect sense. The panettone is light and fluffy like challah and a bit similar to raisin bread with stuff inside making it the perfect combination of the two types of bread I most commonly use to make french toast. Since then each year we make sure to get a loaf of panettone and make French toast. My French toast recipe is probably the combination of several other recipes online but it works pretty well.
- 1 loaf of panettone
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- butter for cooking (about 1 tsp)
- powdered sugar for dusting
Slice the panettone in thick slices, about 1/2-inch thick or more. Mix the eggs, milk, cinnamon, and extract together in a wide bowl. Heat up a skillet, pan, or griddle over medium heat. To check the heat toss some water on it, when it dances and sizzles in the pan it is ready. Melt some of the butter in the griddle (I do this each time before I add a new slice of toast). Dip a slice of panettone in the batter make sure to coat both sides. Place on griddle to cook. Cook each side until golden brown. Plate and dust with powdered sugar.
Growing up in El Paso I was always able to count on one thing being there to eat, tamales. While my family didn’t make a tradition of making them each year, we always received them as a gift from family and friends. Many of my friends’ families would spend Christmas eve, or the days before, making tamales for post-midnight mass celebrations. Having stayed in Michigan this year Val and I decided to bring a little tradition into our home and make our own tamales.
We’ve made tamales before, and for the most part followed this basic recipe for the masa. The only difference this time around is I used 2 cups of veggie stock, real butter, and I nixed the green chile powder. For the fillings we made three different varieties: chipotle sweet potato; corn, peppers, and cheese; and faux-acoa (vegetarian barbacoa).
Chipotle sweet potato filling
- 1 tsp (or a little more) chipotle infused olive oil
- 1 medium to large sweet potato diced (into pieces 1/2-inch or smaller)
- 1/2 red onion diced
- 1/2 tsp chipotle powder
- 1 heaping tsp dried thyme
- 1 heaping tsp dried mexican oregano
- 2 tbsp canned chipotles in adobo sauce
Par-boil, or quick cook in the microwave, the sweet potato. Heat a skillet to medium heat. Add the olive oil and heat up. Add the red onions and cook until translucent. Add the par-boiled sweet potatoes, chipotle powder, thyme, and oregano. Cook until potatoes begin to brown. Salt to your taste preference. Set aside. Puree the canned chipotles, you can use either a food processor or just chop into a puree. Set that aside as well. When making the tamales place a large spoonful of the sweet potato mixture in the masa then drizzle or spread some of the chipotle puree on top. Wrap the tamale.
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1/2 red onion diced
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 package of chorizo seitan (we use Uptons) diced
- 1 package of Rick Bayless’ Red Chile Barbacoa sauce (or make your own sauce)
I was a bit lazy on this one because the task of making 3 different fillings plus the tamales was a bit daunting. But none the less it worked quite well. Heat up a skillet to medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until translucent. Add the chorizo seitan and cook for another minute or two, until the seitan heats up. Add about three quarters of a package of the barbacoa sauce and let cook for about 5 to 10 minutes. I didn’t add a full package because I didn’t want the mix to be to wet when putting it into the tamale. Add a large spoonful of the filling on top of the masa and wrap the tamale.
Chiles, cheese, and corn filling
- 2 poblano chiles
- 1 can of corn
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tsp green chile powder
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup shredded queso asedero (Queso Chihuahua or Monterey Jack will work too)
Roast the poblano peppers using whatever method you wish. I roasted them in the skillet over medium heat until they browned. Once browned, place into a paper bag for about 30-minutes or longer. Remove from the bag, remove the skins, stem, and deseed them. Dice them and set aside. Drain and rinse the corn. Heat a skillet to medium. Once hot add the butter, corn, and green chile powder. Cook until corn starts to brown. Add the chiles. Set aside. When making the tamales place some cheese and some of the chile and corn mixture into the tamale and wrap it up.
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1/3 red onion diced
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 5 medium tomatoes on the vine (cored and deseeded, cut into slices)
- 1 heaping tsp new mexico red chile powder
- 1 large roasted jalapeño minced
- 1/2 cup cilantro leaves (rinsed)
Pan roast the jalapeño and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until the onions sweat. Add the red chile powder and cook for an additional minute or so. Add the slices of tomatoes and cook until they either start to brown or fall apart. Put tomato mixture into a food processor. Blend into a sauce like consistency. Add the minced jalapeño. Chop up the cilantro to a size that you like and add into the mixture. Set aside to serve on top of the tamales.
Steam the tamales for an hour. Set aside and let cool for a minute or two. Unwrap and enjoy.
- eggs (we used 6 for this batch – makes 12 deviled eggs)
- 2 tablespoons of capers (rinsed and dried)
- 2 slices of bacon (cooked to a crisp, we were lazy and made microwavable bacon)
- 1/2 teaspoon dried “special thyme” blend (our “special thyme” blend is a mix of mother of thyme, orange thyme, and lemon thyme)
- 3/4 to 1 teaspoon green peppercorn dijon mustard
- olive oil (1 teaspoon or more, 1/2 a teaspoon or so is for the egg mixture)
- 1/2+ teaspoon hungarian sweet paprika
- smoked paprika (enough to sprinkle on top of eggs)
- tarragon leaves
Heat up a small pan to medium heat, add olive oil to it, heat up olive oil. Add the capers, they will sizzle and pop. Cook them for about 30 seconds to a minute. (If you didn’t use microwave bacon you could probably use the bacon grease to cook them in). Set the capers aside to cool.
Prepare the eggs as you normally would, boil them (I boil mine for 10 minutes), cut them in half, dump out the yolks. In a bowl mix the yolks, thyme blend, and mustard. Mash them with a fork, as you mash them drizzle in some olive oil until they get to a consistency you like (you can also use something like canola oil). Add salt to taste (keeping in mind bacon and capers will add some saltiness). Scoop the mixture into the egg whites. Top with capers, bacon, a sprinkle of smoked paprika, and a leaf or two of tarragon.
It must have worked, because when she tried one she declared, “You just Top Chef’d that s*#t!”