Saturday, April 30, 2011

Dinner - Tostada Tacos

One of my favorite Mexican restaurants here in Milwaukee offers these delicious tostadas. The crunchy corn tortilla topped with beans, meat, salsa, and cheese always tastes fantastic and offers a delightful number of textures with each bite.

I have never thought to make tostadas, and to be completely honest, was not thinking about making them! I was hoping to find a way to cook corn tortillas so they wouldn't break when you bite into them, since I love corn tortillas but Matt doesn't due to the breakage. The tostadas happened quite by chance but they were really yummy, and a quick way to have a new spin on tacos.

To make the tostada shells (or crunchy corn tortillas), it is really quite easy! You can also season them to your liking, we used my new fave seasoning mix: Arizona Dreaming from Penzey's. We also added a sprinkling of sea salt.

I found a similar recipe somewhere on the internet, but I definitely failed to bookmark it. Here's the general idea:
-Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
-Place tortillas on a baking sheet. (we could fit 6 on ours so that's how many we used)
-Brush both sides of each tortilla with a bit of oil. (we used olive oil)
-Sprinkle top of each tortilla with your chosen seasoning and a light sprinkle of salt.
-Bake for 5 minutes, then flip tortillas over and bake an additional 5-6 minutes until tortillas are golden and crunchy.

We used our tostada shells to make simple tacos, however you can use whichever toppings you choose! The traditional restaurant-style tostada toppings usually start with refried beans, which are then topped with tomatoes, lettuce, queso fresco, and a dash of cilantro.

I hope you try this simple recipe, it is quick, easy, and adds good flavor to any toppings!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Lunch - Tuna Treats (the infamous...)

Yesterday, I decided to share one of my favorite childhood edibles with Matt. My mom purchased this cookbook called "Kinder Krunchies" from one of those Discovery Toys home shows in the 80s. I have to be totally honest, this is probably one of my favorite cookbooks, even though all the recipes are designed for 5 year olds!! It is filled with fantastic recipes, such as "Letter Pretzels", "Animal Crackers", "Good Granola", and "Riceburgers" (which sound excellent also...perhaps a future blog?!).

Our favorite recipe from this book was "Tuna Treats". I'll admit the name sounds horribly awful, like a special treat you'd make for your cat on his birthday or something. Making the treats is super simple, you mix a couple basic ingredients up, then spoon the mixture into a buttered muffin pan, top with cheese and a dab of butter, then bake for 15 minutes. Quick, cheap, and easy.

I was never a huge fan of tuna and to this day still am not (unless it is raw in sushi, weird I know.), but in Tuna Treats the tuna just tastes right. They are filled with delicious ingredients that somehow combine to become some super-powered lunch when they all come together. It's simple but man, do these treats taste good!!

If you're not a tuna fan, I am sure you can substitute that canned chicken, or maybe even that canned salmon. You can also change these up by using different vegetables and cheeses to your liking.

Matt actually made these for us, and he changed the ratio a bit, but they turned out delicious!! Here is the approximate ratio he used, along with an image of the original recipe from the cookbook. Enjoy! It's "Tops"!

Matt's Ratio (made 10 tuna treats aka lunch for 2):
-3 eggs
-2 cans tuna (the "regular" sized cans)
-2 slices bread, crumbled
-1/2 can sweet peas ("regular" sized can)

Mix these ingredients together and press into buttered muffin tins.

Sprinkle each cup with grated cheese (probably around 1 tablespoon?) and dot with butter.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
Eat! Tops!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Dinner - BBQ Chicken Bake

For tonight's dinner, the recipe comes from the Betty Crocker/Bisquick recipe cards magazine subscription. This dinner was really quick, easy and pretty tasty. It actually put me in mind of another recipe I made several years ago, which is similar in taste but is cooked in muffin cups.

You prepare a crust using Bisquick, then top with cheese, BBQ chicken, and bake in the oven for a bit over 20 minutes, topping with more cheese and cooking a few additional minutes. This is obviously not the most healthy recipe thanks to all of the delicious ingredients, but it was a decent quick meal. I do think that it could benefit from the addition of bacon.

We used the rest of our BBQ sauce from the Wild Turkey distillery for this dish, and using different sauce would slightly change the flavor. I could see this dish being made in another fashion, similar to the muffin cup variation I linked to above, using BBQ pulled pork instead of BBQ chicken. You could probably also alter it to be a taco bake by using chicken/beef mixed with salsa and topping with taco blend cheese, or to be an Italian bake by using Italian sausage mixed with marinara sauce and topping with mozzarella cheese.

Betty Crocker has provided the recipe on their website here, so if you'd like to try it out feel free!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Local Eats - Ono Kine Grindz

Today I had the pleasure of stopping at Ono Kine Grindz, a shop located in Wauwatosa (just west of Milwaukee). I'd been anxious to stop in, but the only time I am generally in Wauwatosa is for my haircut, and generally it is on a Tuesday, when the shop is closed! Well today I was in luck, having my appointment on a Wednesday!!

Ono Kine Grindz is entirely devoted to Hawaiian food, drink, treats, sauces, general cooking ingredients and clothing. They have loads of great things and it was hard for me to leave the shop with what I had in my basket, since I could have easily purchased half of the store!

The owners of the shop are super nice as well (I think their names are David and Guy?). I was offered a sample of their Kahlua pork, and my what a generous and delicious sample! The pork was fantastic and had a nice smokiness that really brought back memories of the Hawaiian luau I attended back in 2001. You can actually purchase their pork in a pouch, which is a great idea for a quick take-out dinner. I bought a portion like this, and I know Matt and I will enjoy it in a few days!

They had a great selection of Hawaiian teriyaki, bbq and hot sauces, and I picked up one of the teriyaki flavors-mango pineapple. They also carry lots of Hawaiian cooking ingredients (really "Pacific Rim" cooking ingredients, if you will) such as mochiko, rice vinegar, soy sauce, etc... It is a great place to stop for these as prices seemed reasonable!

Ono Kine Grindz also offers lunch plates, hot coffee and tea. I got one of the teas in the Maui Mango flavor, and it was quite good! They also carry many packaged Hawaiian goods, such as pancake mixes, Hawaiian Host macadamia products, and various varieties of Hawaiian coffees and teas. I was also impressed with their selections of rice and salts. They have several different varieties to choose from, and would be an excellent addition to any meal!

If you are in the Milwaukee area, love food or Hawaii (or both!) and are looking for a unique place to stop, Ono Kine Grindz is perfect!
The shop is located at: 7215 W. North Ave. Wauwatosa (414) 778-0727
You may wish to call regarding hours before visiting, although here is a link to their facebook page.

Monday, April 18, 2011

New Features test post!


Hey everybody! I don't have a new recipe for you, yet... but I have been adding new features to the blog that will hopefully help it get more popular!

Please disregard this message and look forward to a new recipe very soon!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Dinner - Spaghetti with Arugula and Walnuts

*For tonight's meal, I referenced my handy Silver Spoon: Pasta cookbook once again.

I'll admit it, of all the types of pasta, spaghetti is not really my favorite. It is so basic, kind of boring (even with spaghetti sauce!) and just doesn't have the same appeal as its pasta brethren.

I have been really into arugula since we made some delicious appetizers with it at Christmastime. If you know me at all, you know that I am not a huge leafy greens person. For some reason, arugula is one leafy green that doesn't bother me too much, so I thought this recipe would be worth a try.

This recipe showcases a nice way to simply dress up that basic spaghetti into something quite delicious and flavorful. It has a few different textures (thanks to the walnuts and arugula) that add a lot to the dish! Also, this is a very simple recipe and would be great as a side or main course, and it is light enough to be a great pasta dish as we move into summer. We served the pasta alongside some steaks which we seasoned with seasoned salt and Italian seasoning.

Spaghetti with Arugula and Walnuts

-3/4 cup walnuts
-1 garlic clove (we used 2 since we loooove garlic)
-1 bunch arugula, shredded (we used approximately 2 cups (loose)/1 cup (packed) arugula)
-4 tablespoons olive oil
-12 ounces spaghetti
-grated Parmesan for serving (we used Romano)
-salt and pepper

Blanch walnuts in boiling water to remove the skins (boil several minutes).
Chop garlic with half of the walnuts and put into a bowl. Add arugula and oil, season with salt and pepper, mix well.
Chop remaining walnuts.
Cook the spaghetti as directed until al dente.
Drain, add arugula mix and toss.
Plate the pasta, then top with remaining waluts and Parmesan.

Dinner - Angel Hair in Cream and Cheese Sauce

Recently, I decided to revisit a couple of my favorite cookbooks. The Silver Spoon, published by Phaidon Press, is a beautiful, epic cookbook that takes up a good chunk of space on your cookbook shelf. It is the English translation of Italy's cooking "bible", kind of the equivalent of our (American) Joy of Cooking.

I wanted the cookbook since the day I saw it. Its nearly $50 price tag put me off for a while, but I saved up some money and with the help of a great bookstore discount I decided to purchase it. The recipes included are nice and fairly simple. They stick with minimal ingredients (something I obviously LOVE), and they manage to take a simple meal and make it seem decadent, expensive, and extraordinary.

Then the Silver Spoon people did something awful a few years later. The decided to release an expanded pasta section of the book, titled The Silver Spoon: Pasta. A necessary addition to the Kiefer cookbook library... (For the record, they have also released a children's cookbook, The Silver Spoon for Children.)

Anyways, the Silver Spoon people have seriously inspired my cooking from the moment that cookbook has entered my house, and I decided to start making more recipes from both of their beautiful books.

The first of (hopefully) many meals from the cookbooks comes from the Pasta edition. This is a very basic recipe for a nice side dish (or main course) of angel hair with a tasty cream sauce. It is really simple to make, and I am sure you can adjust the cheese to your liking, so it is quite versatile as well. We served the dish alongside a small steak and some nice (frozen) garlic bread.

Angel Hair in Cream and Cheese Sauce

-3 tablespoons butter
-scant 1/2 cup heavy cream (we used heavy whipping cream)
-14 ounce package angel hair pasta
-3 ounces diced Gruyere cheese (we used 4 oz since that was the only pkg size available!)
-salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a bowl/pot set over a pot of simmering water (double-boiler style). Stir occasionally. Add cream and heat for a few minutes.
Cook the pasta in salted water to al dente and drain.
Pour cream mixture over drained pasta, add Gruyere and stir. Season with pepper and serve.
Simple and delicious!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Breakfast - Mix & Match Quick Bread: Banana Chocolate Chip

I was in the middle of reading my favorite new food magazine, the Food Network Magazine, when I found out about the awesome Mix & Match column. It is a column designated to putting forth a "ratio" (if you will) for a specific sort of food and how to vary it according to said ratio. In the Italian issue a couple months back, the topic was "pasta bakes", and in this issue (May 2011) the topic is "Quick Bread".

Now, you may recall my aversion to baking banana bread, and that I am somewhat cursed with making an awful loaf every, single time. Well, my friends, I believe that this recipe is the cure!!! The bread came out wonderfully moist, with a nice sugary-tasting crust, and just the right amount of banana flavor!! It was so good I even forgot to top it with the chocolate glaze as I intended.

And you can make not only banana bread, but pear bread, apple bread, carrot bread, and zucchini bread ALL FROM THE SAME RECIPE!!!! Yes. It is amazing. You can also vary your mix-ins and glazes so you can create approximately, (well probably) thousands of types of bread. (Yes, for you math nerds, I was thisclose to using the ! button and figuring out exactly how many combinations are possible.)

And lucky for all of you, Food Network Magazine is AWESOME and is actually posting all these Mix & Match recipes on their website!!! These people are great!!!
Please click here to view this GORGEOUS quick bread recipe in all its entirety!!!
If you are interested in others, I googled Food Network Magazine Mix & Match and a bunch of different ones came up, including: fruit crumble, chocolate bark, mac & cheese, and baked pasta.

Have fun and I'd love to see what you create with this recipe!! Trust me, it's totally a keeper!!

Dessert - Lightly Lemon Cupcakes

I was really in a big baking mood on Monday, so I decided to make a couple new (to me anyways!) baking recipes. We were having a little celebration at my Monday night hula class since the professional hula dancing girls in our class had completed their first show for the year! (Congrats to them, they rock!) I decided to bring a treat to share, and since I'd been wanting to try these cupcakes, they were it!

Let me just preface by saying that these turned out pretty good, and everyone seemed to like them (including Matt), but they were a bit different that I expected. The cake was denser than I thought it would be, and the frosting more akin to whipped cream. They were not bad cupcakes, but definitely not the best I have ever made.

I was a bit disappointed as well with how the cupcakes dried out a lot after only a day! We put them in the fridge due to the dairy content in the frosting...and boy, was that a bad idea.

Here's a link to the full recipe for cupcakes and frosting from the Betty Crocker website.
The recipe uses Bisquick, something I don't normally use to make cupcakes, so maybe that's why it wasn't my favorite. However, on the positive it was a very quick recipe to make. Also, the lemon flavor was pretty slight, not very in-your-face.

Well, let's talk about the "frosting" a bit, since I do think it was the high point of the cupcake. My problem was that it was more like whipped cream, and less of a frosting!! I guess I would use this to top something that would usually be topped with whipped cream.

To make the "frosting" (read: whipped cream), you need a couple things:
-1 pint (2 cups) heavy whipping cream
-1 box (4-serving size) lemon flavored instant pudding and pie filling mix
-1/4 cup milk (we used skim)

You first put the whipping cream in your blender with the whisk attachment. Set on medium speed and continue to whip until slightly thickened. Add the pudding mix and milk, then beat on high until stiff peaks form.

A simple whipped cream recipe, really! I think it would be really tasty with pistachio or chocolate pudding added instead of the lemon pudding. In my opinion, this "frosting" would be best as a topping for a pie or ice cream sundae.

I'd love to hear if you experiment with this recipe and how it turns out! I will likely try the frosting recipe again, probably with pistachio pudding, if I can figure out a good pie to "match" in flavor.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Dinner - Low-Cal Fettuccine Alfredo with Scallops

When I was home sick a couple months ago, my sweet husband brought a couple magazines to keep me company. One of these happened to be an issue of the Food Network Magazine. Not only that, but it was THE ITALIAN ISSUE. Talk about right up my alley.

The magazine covers everything from how to make a pasta bake out of any ingredients you have on hand, how to make a bruschetta-inspired martini, and even 50 uses for pesto. I am pretty certain I would like to try every recipe in this issue!!

One of the first recipes I dog-eared in the issue was for Low-Cal Fettuccine Alfredo. Normally, I could really pass on alfredo sauce. I've never been a huge fan of alfredo, and I generally opt for the more common and traditional red sauce. Something about this recipe caught my eye, so we decided to give it a go. I think it was the low-cal aspect, but really if you're going to eat fettuccine alfredo, do you really want to think about how bad it is for you??

We made the pasta sauce and the recipe was really quite easy and came together quickly. It was also quite nice to see that most of the ingredients were things we had on hand in our kitchen! We decided to pair the pasta with some of the small scallops we had in our freezer from another recipe. It was a great idea and the two really went together well!!

This recipe is a definite keeper and I know we will be eating it again very soon! It made enough for 4 servings, so we had leftovers the next night. Incredibly, it tasted even better the second day!! The sauce thickened and was really deliciously creamy.

Please visit the Food Network Kitchens website to view the recipe for this delicious dish!!

If you'd like to add scallops like we did, saute them in some oil and a little lemon juice until done. Just drain the juice away and add the scallops to your pot of alfredo-ed pasta! Enjoy!!