Monday, August 15, 2011

Mini Lasagnas: Too Cute To Eat, Too Twee To Live

This week has been productive as fuck. We finally finished painting all of the downstairs walls (just the trim to do, now), Jeffrey a.k.a. My Hero got on a very tall ladder and did the 30 foot walls in the entry AND put together ikea shelves - which are two things I hate doing, so, round of applause for Jeffrey. Finally started hanging art, finally unpacked our books and board games. Ordered a dining room set. It's really feeling like a home, now.

Last night we cleaned ourselves up and took a break to go wish our friend Nestor a happy birthday and drink some whiskey and eat some cake. May I recommend Berkshire Mountain Distiller's bourbon? It is tasty and immensely drinkable. I have tried almost all of their gins, and like them very much. I am pretty sure they have a small distribution area but if you can get it, do.

Before we headed over there, I whipped together some Muffin Tin Lasagnas. I may never make a regular lasagna again! They are so easy and the cook in a fraction of the time. I couldn't get a decent picture of the ones I made, so I suggest clicking the link and oohing and ahhing. I'm into the idea of making a bunch of muffin tin mini casseroles and freezing them for school lunches.

I did manage to take a picture of my pretty Greek Salad.

Not my best post, but I may have had more than one glass of that bourbon last night. I promise something with an actual recipe, later.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Chicken Tostadas

You know what I love about Americanized Mexican food? It's all the same ten ingredients in different presentations. Take my Tostadas, for example; basically an open-faced taco.

This is a great meal for a busy weeknight. We needed something quick and filling before we went to the Britney Spears concert (it was awesome, don't judge) and these took about ten minutes to make and five minutes to eat.
Please enjoy the background of IKEA items that clutter my counter.

You can pick up pre-made tostadas like these (I find them in any grocery), or you can just fry your own corn tortillas. Then you pile on the fixings: meat, beans, sautee'd veggies, cheese, taco sauce, salsa, guac, you name it. Apollo Grill (aka my favorite) does one with goat cheese and sweet potato that is super good. Our filling, last night, was ground chicken with peppers and onions.

Ground Chicken for Tostadas and Tacos and Burritos and Stuff

1# Ground Chicken
1 red onion, diced
2 bell peppers, diced
2T chopped garlic
1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
2T seasoning*

Saute' onions, peppers, garlic until soft. Add chicken and seasoning, cook through. Add black beans, toss to heat.

*I am leaving this at the vague "seasoning" because in this case I used a Trader Joe's spice blend and not everyone has access to it. I used the South African Smoke blend, which upon closer inspection appears to be smoked paprika, sea salt, garlic, and basil. I also added about a teaspoon of ground cumin. You could go with a packet of taco seasoning and just make life easy, or just dump in whatever you've got hanging around in the chili department.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Slow Cooker Beef Curry/IKEA trip

That's right, I'm using my slow cooker in summer. What.

We've been through this before, I know. I lapse on my updates and I come back and ask for another chance. Come on baby, you know I love you. I just got a lot going on right now.

BOY do I have a lot going on right now. The last time I updated was March, and now it is August. In the past five months I have bought a house, been to the West Coast and back three times, decided to go back to school, and gotten engaged. It has been a beautiful, crazy year - and it is fixing to get busy. Not in like, the sexy way but like, augh where does the time go. I function better with a schedule, so I am looking forward to September. August is being spent doing projects and planning our Housewarming/Engagement party. I bought a turkey fryer. Shit is going to get real.

Yesterday, I dusted off the slow cooker because the kids had morning dentist appointments and then I had to go to IKEA and then I wanted to go to Crafty-Craft-Times and I knew that I wouldn't want to also cook dinner plus we had just had pizza. IKEA is my favorite, but it is also an hour and a half away - so we really have to make a day of it. We picked up all the staples from the food market (meatballs, almond cookies, caviar) and we like to buy at least one thing that we've never seen before or have never tried. This time, it was crab spread.

I'm a sucker for packaging. It's in a TUBE. Also, look at the crab. Look at him. Adorbs. According to the handy recipe cards that IKEA now supplies, this is eaten on rye flatbread with boiled egg. Sounds good to me! EDIT: It's frigging delicious, if you like that sort of thing.

Back to the slow-cooker. I skipped a month of our meat CSA share, because we were in California, so pickings are getting slim in the ol' deep freezer. I had a few pounds of stew beef, and I was afraid that stew or chili would be too heavy for muggy hot August. The curry came out nice and light and fresh-tasting. We ate it with couscous, which doesn't really require use of the stove because you just boil water and let it soak (and you can boil water in a microwave, if necessary).

Slow Cooker: Summer Beef Curry

2# stew beef
2 cans light coconut milk
2 tsp red curry paste
heaping tablespoon brown sugar
1 head of garlic, chopped
1 large red onion, diced
1/2# carrots, sliced
salt to taste

1 c chopped scallions
1 c chopped thai basil
chopped roasted peanuts

Brown stew beef and garlic in a hot skillet, then transfer to slow cooker. Add carrots, onion, and brown sugar. Stir curry paste into coconut milk before pouring over other ingredients. Cook on low for ten hours or high for six hours. Before serving, stir in basil and scallions. Serve over couscous or rice, with a sprinkle of chopped peanuts.

This comes out a little 'soupy' - easily thickened by adding a can of rinsed and drained garbanzo beans, or two diced potatoes at the beginning.