Thursday, February 17, 2011

a tired friend....

will be finding his peaceful and beautiful place soon. When I think of him I see his kind smile and his Dodger jacket.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

porky piggy - oh yeah!

Let me start of by saying that I am a meat lover. I can appreciate all the amazing vegetarian dishes out there, but for me sometimes a piece of meat is just what I want. This pork tenderloin dish is super simple and fast. I served it with a mushroom and garbanzo bean saute which was inspired by my friend Joy who taught me some great Indian cooking today. It was simply delicious.

Remember - always start with your favorite beverage and some great tunes.

1 - 2 lbs pork tenderloin (the package that I bought had two pieces)
3 cloves garlic - finely chop
drizzle of olive oil
3 tbs olive oil
salt and pepper

Place pork tenderloin on a baking sheet and remove any of the silver coating (if your tenderloin has some you will see it). Drizzle some olive oil over tenderloin and spread with garlic, salt and pepper. Put in your fridge for 1 1/2 to 2 hours - more if you have the time. Remove tenderloin from fridge and let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees and heat up a skillet add olive oil and sear tenderloin on all sides until nice and brown. Put back on baking sheet and stick in the oven for 6-8 minutes. DO NOT OVER BAKE it will be over done and dry (remember that you can always put it back in the oven to cook a bit more). Remove from oven and let rest.

1 tbs olive oil
1 small onion - chopped
1 container crimini or baby bella mushrooms - sliced
2 cloves garlic - finley chopped
1/4 tsp chili flakes
1/4 cup white wine (chardonnay)
1 15oz can garbanzo beans
1 cup tomato sauce
1 tbs chopped parsley

Using the same skillet that you seared the tenderloin heat olive oil on medium heat and saute onion and mushrooms for 5 minutes. (While this is happening, rinse garbanzo beans and heat in microwave for 4 minutes and set aside). Add garlic and chili flakes and continue to saute for another 2 minutes - add wine. The wine will help lift all the bits that the tenderloin left behind - this will add so much flavor to the mix. Add garbanzo beans and tomato sauce. Bring heat to low and let simmer for 5 minutes. Garnish with parsley. Remember to taste and season as you go.

For serving, cut tenderloin on the bias (at an angle) and put 4 slices on top of mushroom mix. Be sure to have your favorite mustard on hand.....some nice dijon is just fabulous. Enjoy.

Monday, February 14, 2011

i'm gonna get some today!

Chocolate that is. Valentine's Day is one of those days that you love or hate. It puts soooo much pressure on people and makes them crazzzy! I told my son (my little cupid messenger) that his dad better not get me flowers - he has done it in the past and all I could think of was all the pair of shoes I could have gotten with what he spent for a dozen roses. I am a no fuss, simple girl and all I need is something "Chocolate."

How is Valentine's Day celebrated around the world you ask.....well read on - love is universal.

Happy "Chocolate Day" to all.

Friday, February 11, 2011

how did I not know about this?

While blog surfing a few days ago I came across what I think may be one of my top favorite days of the year. I could not believe my eyes when I read this. No, no its not an illusion - there really is a movement for:

This is the brain child of these two ladies (here is an excerpt from their blog) - "Sara from Ms. Adventures in Italy and Michelle from Bleeding Espresso solemnly declare Saturday, February 5th “World Nutella Day 2011″ – a day to celebrate, to get creative with, and most importantly, to EAT Nutella" They have all the details on when and how to participate on their blogs. You can even host a nutella party at your home to this not the coolest thing ever! -

Well as you may have noticed I missed it, but on the bright side, I have all year to test recipes with nutella. And now that I know about this blessed day, I will be sure to celebrate it with all you good people next year! It will be so much fun.

Have a fun Friday and a great weekend.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

baked penne anyone.....veggie style.

I try to make dinner for my family every night and like everyone sometimes I get stumped. I always try and cover the three basic food groups in every meal. This dish has it all - sauteed mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, tofu and cheese. Super simple and very good.

Okay - here we go..... First get yourself your favorite beverage and put on some music -this is very important!

1 container of cremini mushrooms
2 tbs olive oil
1/2 chopped onion
2 cloves fine chopped garlic
2 cups chopped spinach (frozen is okay)

Heat up a skillet with olive oil. Make sure you use a nice size skillet so that you won't run out of room. I use a 5qt skillet. Slice mushrooms, add to olive oil and start to saute. When the mushrooms are half way done, add the onion and garlic and continue to cook until nice and brown. Heat and drain spinach and add to mixture. Bring your heat to low. Be sure to season and taste as you go.

1 14oz can of whole tomatoes - blended
1 tbs butter
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 block tofu
1/4 tsp chili flakes
1 lbs of penne pasta
8 oz of mozzarella cheese - grated
1/2 cup parmesan cheese - grated
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400. While mushroom/spinach mix is cooking, blend tomatoes. I usually buy whole tomatoes and blend them myself. I know it is an extra step, but its better than buying blended - trust me. I will explain in a future post...i promise. Anyway, add blended tomatoes, butter - mix and let simmer. In a bowl break up tofu and ricotta cheese add chili flakes and add to the mix. Bring your heat up to medium low and let simmer until sauce begins to thicken - be sure to season well with salt and pepper. At this point start to boil your pasta - follow package instructions. Boil it a little bit under al dente. While all of this is happening get your cheeses and casserole dish ready. Once pasta is done, drain it but do not rinse. Now you are ready to build. Lay penne on the bottom, one layer of mixture, one layer of mozzarella cheese, one layer of parmesan cheese and repeat (like lasagna). Be sure to end up with a cheese layer. Put in the oven for 25 minutes - because everything is already cooked, all you are doing is melting the cheese and letting it brown. If your cheese is not browning on the top, turn broiler on for the last 5 minutes. Tadaa!

If you have the time, double the recipe and build two. Bake one and freeze the other for another day.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I got my butt kicked by a Senior Citizen!

What? Yes I did. I have been going to a Yoga Class at the Walnut Senior Citizen Center OMG - it is great! My teacher's name is Maya and she is in her mid 70's. She is as flexible as a rubber band and as strong as an Ox. Maya has been teaching for a very, very long time and it shows. The class is made up of mostly Seniors and I must tell you that at times I stand out like a sore thumb with my crooked poses. The class is 2 hours long - yes....2 hours!!! I have been taking the class for five weeks now and am starting to feel my muscles getting stronger. I got a little too confident after the first couple of weeks because I was not very sore, but then came week four and week five - OUCH! I get very inspired by all the people around me. Anytime I feel that I can't do something all I have to do is look behind me and there is my mom striking a pose. She works very hard and is so amazing. Most of the time we look at Seniors and feel for them. They are getting old and seem so fragile, but not in this class - they are strong, flexible, invigorating and full of life. So kudos to all my classmates! I look forward to my next butt kicking.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

can't forget the rice

When I make caldo I have to make rice - it kinda goes hand in hand. Its one of those things that is so simple yet challenging. It has taken me a long time to feel comfortable to serve my rice to family and friends. My mom and mother-in-law have it down to a science. Their rice is always delicious, moist and soooo consistent. They are seasoned cooks - they don't measure anything. I on the other hand need measurements - it is my comfort zone. I make my rice in the same 3 quart Le Crueset for consistency. I measure out all my ingredients and most important I take my time - don't rush it.

Okay here it is -

2 tbs - oil ( I use canola or vegetable - olive oil burns too quickly in this application)
1 cup long grain
Heat oil and pour rice in and brown. It will take about 10 minutes using low heat. Stir rice occasionally and don't let it burn - take your time.

1 - 14oz can of peeled whole tomatoes
1/2 small onion
Blend tomatoes and onion until very smooth. You can do this while rice is browning or before you even start. Measure out 3/4 cup of sauce and store the rest. Once the rice is nice and brown pour the tomato sauce in. Be careful when combining as hot steam will rise. Let simmer for two minutes.
2 cups chicken broth
Add broth and raise heat to medium. At this point you need to season with salt. Make sure you season well as this is the only chance you have. When you season be sure to taste the liquid - don't be shy just be careful. Bring to a boil, cover and bring heat to low. Once rice has absorbed the liquid (this takes about 15 minutes depending on your cookware) turn heat off and let rest for 5 minutes covered.

That's it! After you have made it a several times, you will begin to get comfortable with the process. Buena Suerte! - Good Luck!

Monday, February 7, 2011

its time for some caldo

which is soup in spanish. well its a kind of soup. anyway, my little guy is sick and there is nothing like some good old, home made chicken soup to make him feel better. the caldo is super simple to make and very delish. caldo de pollo is chicken soup which is what i made. unlike like most recipes that call for sauteing the celery, onion and carrots first then add chicken stock, chicken etc... i make the broth first with the chicken that i will be using. i add a quarter onion and one bay leaf. once the chicken is almost cooked, i strain it and skim off any fat. if you cook the chicken too much, it will turn out hard and chewy. i chop and add whatever vegtables i have on hand - carrots, celery, cauliflower, potato, cabbage, broccoli, zucchini (use whatever is in your fridge), let it simmer for about 5 minutes and add the cooked chicken, season with salt and pepper add a squeeze of lemon, some sprigs of cilantro and turn it off. because i make my soup in a cast iron dutch oven, it continues to cook on its own. i must say its not as good as my mom's, but it is getting there.