Monday, October 31, 2016

Yuca Fritters

Happy Halloween! I wish I had a spookier, more on-theme post for you today, but if you need a dose of me getting carried away with Halloween, you could revisit my Harry Potter Double Potions post. Or, you could head over to my other blog to read about my fun Harry Potter festival experience in Philadelphia last weekend. HP is my jam, y'all.

Despite the lack of holiday spirit, I still really like today's post. Remember the mashed yuca I shared last week? Well, I used the leftovers to make some awesome fritters which were insanely easy to make. It's literally just two ingredients and it's easy to make as few or as many as you like.
Ingredients:
mashed yuca
oil for frying

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Spicy Black Beans

I make rice and beans all the time. But I've never made black beans using dried beans; it's always been canned. Canned beans are so easy because they're fast and put dinner on the table in under an hour, which makes them the perfect weeknight shortcut.

Admittedly, canned beans can be a bit mushy and overly salty, which is something I can forgive when my stomach is rumbling. But when I have the time on weekends, I like to use dried beans. I hadn't done anything with my black bean recipe thus far because even with canned beans, it's so good. But, I figured it was time I do them justice. Honestly, the difference was pretty incredible. Yes, it took loads more time, but I have a feeling that this winter, I'll be doing a lot more simmering and a little less can-opening.

This recipe is essentially the same as my regular black beans recipe, with an added spice or two and the added step of soaking dried beans. Because the beans are simmered in the spices, they really soak up all of the flavor and it's really delicious; seriously though, so good.
Ingredients [serves 4]:
1 cup dried black beans
1 tablespoon baking soda
2 oz. salt pork, diced
1 teaspoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ onion, diced
½ bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, sliced
2 cups chicken stock
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chopped oregano
½ teaspoon dried coriander
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon red wine vinegar
salt & pepper to taste

Monday, October 24, 2016

Mashed Yuca

We've really been loving yuca in our house lately. They're a perfect substitute for potatoes and they're extra convenient since I buy them already peeled and frozen. It's such a handy ingredient to have stored in the freezer, especially since we don't really buy potatoes that much anymore (since my sister discovered they make her ill).

A few weeks ago, I made some grilled ribs and wasn't sure of what to do for sides. I ended up making a small batch of truffle cheddar mac & cheese, green beans, and salad. But because there was only a small pan of pasta, I decided we needed more carbs so I turned to the trusty yuca in the freezer and made some mash. It's literally the same as regular mashed potatoes except it's yuca. And, I decided to throw in some cream cheese because why not?
Ingredients [serves 6]:
1½ lbs. yuca (peeled)
½ cup milk
2 cloves garlic, smashed
¼ cup butter
4 oz. cream cheese
salt & pepper

Friday, October 21, 2016

Apple Picking 2016

We went apple picking this past weekend at Riamede Farm. Because this autumn has been unseasonably warm (case in point: it's been in the 80s this week) I assumed that there would be apples ready to pick right through November. Unfortunately, that assumption was incorrect and the majority of the trees had been picked clean.
Fortunately, we still managed to score some really delicious apples (we got a bunch of fuji and cortland) and I plan on baking a pie; maybe this weekend.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Grilled Jerk Chicken Wings

I love making crispy hot wings. Wait, that's a lie. I like eating crispy hot wings. But making them's quite a chore. You've got to get a big vat of shortening splattering hot and the smell permeates the entire house and there's loads of splatter to clean up afterwards, even if you've used a pan splatter guard. So, when we bought a big value pack of wings, I fried up half of them and put the rest in the freezer. A couple weeks later, I defrosted them and decided I was way too lazy to do another fry up.

I didn't want to do regular barbecue wings because we'd just had some barbecue drumsticks the week before. Then, I realized this was a perfect opportunity to use another habanero pepper from the garden. I made a jerk marinade with the flavors I remembered and recognized from a meal I enjoyed in the Caribbean, and it turned out quite good.
Ingredients [serves 4]:
1½ lbs. chicken wings
½ onion
2 scallions
3 cloves garlic
1 habanero pepper
1 orange, juiced
3 sprigs cilantro
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon brown sugar
½ teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon cumin

*Normally, jerk seasoning has some heat in it, like cayenne, but because there's a habanero pepper in here, I omitted that added layer of heat. If you like a lot of heat, throw in an extra habanero or add some cayenne to your jerk seasoning. If you're sensitive to spicy foods, I would suggest omitting the habanero and adding in a little cayenne.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Swedish Meatballs

Eat your heart out, Ikea! Just kidding, these meatballs were inspired by Ikea actually; my aim was to recreate my beloved meatballs but just make them a little less salty. They're certainly more expensive (and free of horsemeat, harhar) but they're fresher, which is a plus.

I thought about putting a spin on these meatballs by making them spicy or something, but then I decided that I really wanted the classic $2 treat that I gorge on every time I shop at Ikea. So, with that in mind, I grabbed a bunch of ingredients out of the pantry, bought a couple of packs of ground meat, and set to it. And you know what? These turned out pretty delicious. They weren't exactly like Ikea's but they were possibly better, mostly just because they were less salty and my salt-intolerant family and I really needed that.
Ingredients:
meatballs
¼ cup finely grated onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
¼ cup cream
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground mustard
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 egg
1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. ground pork
1 tablespoon butter

gravy
2 tablespoons pan drippings
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup beef broth
splash cream
¼ cup sour cream

Monday, October 10, 2016

New Cookbooks

Recently, I found a bag under my desk that had a few books we'd bought at the Philly AIDS Thrift last year and had completely forgotten about. Among those books were two cute (and crazy cheap) cookbooks that I was excited to add to our small collection. And then, I went ahead and bought the Bob's Burgers Burger Book for two reasons: burgers are one of my favorite foods and Bob's Burgers is one of my favorite shows. So, I figured this would be a good time to share my tiny cookbook collection.

Admittedly, I'm not that big on cookbooks. I prefer to make dishes up on my own and experiment if I'm cooking something new - which is usually inspired by something delicious I've eaten at a restaurant - or I stick to what I grew up eating.
Some of these were gifts and some were bought on our own, but I mostly like looking at these as a way to kill time and have fun. I haven't made many recipes from these. And I didn't want to share everything, but I picked a few that I thought were special to share.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Spicy Chorizo Jambalaya

I've discussed my intense cravings here before, but in case you forgot, let me explain my weird appetite to you. Sometimes, my brain will get fixated on something and I have a hard time concentrating on anything else until I sort out the obsession. So, sometime in July, I got hit hard with a craving for jambalaya. It happened when I was researching new ideas for cooking Italian sausage. Pinterest, for whatever reason, showed me a big pan of jambalaya. That evening, I went home and made sausage and pepper sandwiches (yeah, not really a new way of using Italian sausage but it was still delicious and I added hot cherry peppers so it was bomb) which was satisfying, but I really wanted jambalaya.

I couldn't stop thinking about it so when we did our next week's grocery shopping, I bought a pack of chorizo (without casings) with the intention of making jambalaya. Now, I'm not keen on standing by a stove when it's summery and hot. I'd rather stand by a grill. But, on this particular day, it was raining so hard that there were flash flood warnings popping up on my phone every two minutes. Since grilling was out of the question, I took this as a prime opportunity to quell my jambalaya craving. By the way, the mini monsoon is also why this photo diary was shot in artificial light. It was so dark outside with the ominous clouds and sideways rain. I saved this post for a few months so I could share it when it was more weather appropriate; and now I'm excited to make this again now that the weather is cooler and I don't mind standing by the stove anymore.

I didn't go the classic route of jambalaya, which usually involves seafood of some kind and sometimes chicken. Instead, I went for a chorizo version and added heat with jalapeno and a custom cajun seasoning. It turned out really delicious and when both my sister and I had leftovers the next day, we reported back to say that our respective coworkers were jealous because it smelled so good. But that's not to say I wouldn't consider adding in some crawfish for the next batch.
Ingredients [serves 4 to 6]:
jambalaya
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bell pepper, diced
½ onion, diced
2 celery ribs, diced
1 jalapeno, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. chorizo
2 tablespoons cajun seasoning (see below)
1½ cups long grain rice
1 cup canned tomatoes
1 cup chicken stock
1 scallion, chopped
handful grape tomatoes, halved

cajun seasoning
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
*I don't like adding salt to my seasoning mixes. I think salt should be added on its own so that you can control the amount added. That way, you're not like, "Oh, I want more cajun seasoning" and pour a bunch in and then end up with an overly salty mess.

Monday, October 3, 2016

What I Ate for Dinner (3)

Now that the weather is cooler, making dinner is much more enjoyable.
The best part is that it's still grilling season so I can get the best of both worlds.
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