Street Tacos and Pico de Gallo

Homemade Street Tacos

Last weekend I attended the very first “Taco Fest” in Reno.  I found some amazing fish tacos that I really liked.  The downside was that it was $3 per taco, and I’m talking traditional street taco size that is eaten in a few bites.  So pretty much I was spending 75c-$1 per bite.  Anyone who knows me will realize that is not my style.  So of course I decided I need to try my hand at making my own street tacos.  Now I will say that the meat will take some time to perfect, and I’ll likely utilize my Instant Pot as I did this time.  That way I can have street tacos in December.  Hah!

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Dutch Babies // Updated

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The name is weird to me, but I know Stephanie has made these in the past and they are well liked in her house. David told me last night that breakfast today was on me as he and the girls made breakfast yesterday morning. So I considered making waffles, but decided that’s too much mess. We had just had pancakes. Sophia loves crepes but I suck at them. Then I remembered the Dutch Babies I’d never actually had. Since you can make it in the blender it seemed like the perfect mostly mess-free breakfast option.

I am a big fan of using home milled flour whenever possible because it’s whole grain, freshly milled, and WAY cheaper than buying unbleached flour from the bulk bins at Winco. I get my wheat berries in bulk at Winco as well, so the price is really good. For this though, I may have to turn to my unbleached flour that I keep on hand for feeding my sourdough starter. It apparently makes a big difference, which I’m hoping will turn David around on not really loving this.

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Coconut Shampoo Bars

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For Christmas this year I decided that I wanted to make things for my friends and family instead of buying things and hoping they would like them.  Now don’t get me wrong I will never turn down wine, chocolate, or any geek paraphernalia (I do have Star Trek shirts and sweats on my Amazon wish list after all).  I’ve made lip balms and hand creams a number of times and everyones loved them.  What I have not made yet is soap or solid lotion bars, so I figured this was a good opportunity to try my hand at making them!

I have to admit that the idea of working with lye is a big part of why I’d never made soap before today.  And before you go any further please read this – Lye Safety Guide by Soap Queen – It is important that the proper measures be taken when handling a caustic material.  David is insisting I get a vinyl apron, better gloves, and full face shield before I go any further with my soap making.  That is what living with someone who is currently majoring in bio-chem is like.  😛

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Shredded Beef Tacos

In the last few weeks we’ve had dinner over at a friends house a couple of times. Specifically the person who was my best friend in middle school. We’ve known each other for somewhere around 20 years. A really long time when you’re 32. Crockpot cooking seems like it might be a staple since her husband does freelance video work, and she’s currently a producer at a local TV station and will soon to be a 911 operator in training! The last dinner was shredded chipotle pork tacos, but she fried the corn tortillas and sprinkled them with the powdered parmesan like a local taco stand does.

It. is. amazing.

David typically doesn’t eat pork out of personal preference, so I got a nice looking chuck roast on sale last week. Now it’s insanely easy, but I did manage to mess it up, but I’ll explain that after the fact in the form of a “Do as I say, not as I do” type warning. Also my friend used the Dr. Pepper method for her pork. Being a total lush as of late, I used beer. Okay and we don’t drink soda typically. David got an amazing coffee stout that I divided in half for the 2 roasts I got (one went into the freezer to be used next week).

Gingham Apron // Shredded Beef Tacos

Shredded Beef Tacos

1 Beef chuck roast, about 2-3 pounds
1 Bottle of beer, a good dark stout is best
3 Chipotle peppers and adobo from container

Corn tortillas
Oil
Powdered parmesan cheese
Shredded cheddar cheese
Chopped romaine lettuce
Black olives
Refried Beans
Sour cream

Place the roast into the crockpot.

Use toothpicks to secure the 3 chipotle peppers to the roast

Pour beer over the chipotle adorned roast.

Cook on high for 6+ hours, or until the roast shreds easily.

After the meat is shredded use a frying pan to heat enough oil to generously coat the bottom of the pan. Place a tortilla in the pan and place a few tablespoons of shredded meat on one half of the tortilla, quickly fold the taco in half before it start to crisp up. Let the taco get golden and crunchy on both sides before moving it to a tray with a towel to absorb excess oil. Sprinkle with parmesan, and keep making delicious tacos! Add cheese, lettuce, refried beans, black olives, sour cream, or more chipotles if you’re deranged (or David).

I can have 3 folded tacos in my medium frying pan with no issues at one time, because doing one at a time would be painfully long.

As I promised … a warning … Do NOT use the whole can of chipotles. That’s like 8-10 chipotles too many, and it makes the sauce almost unusable. The girls in no way appreciated the spice level of the sauce, so the taco meat was a little drier than it should have been. David managed to make my fuck up tolerable by adding some tomato sauce. That guy is always saving my ass in the kitchen. 😛

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Homemade Skyline Chili Recipe

I lived just outside of Cincinnati when I was little. My first real concert was at Riverfront Stadium. Yes, it was New Kids on the Block. I was like 9 or 10. Which frankly scares the crap out of me since Nola is the exact same age, but I digress. I distinctly remember Ollie’s Trolley from visiting my dad at work downtown, but honestly I don’t remember Skyline. Horrible to admit, I know. Somehow in the past few years David has come to like the only variety available to us here in Nevada… cans. Specifically 8 cans for $60. That’s $7.50 a can! O_O

By the time you’ve fed 4 people that devour Skyline Chili you’ve used 2 cans. That’s $15 and you’ve not even gotten the spaghetti, onions, or shredded cheese. I have most of the ingredients on hand at all times already. There is one big change I’ve made to the recipe I found, and that is the type of meat I use. Ground turkey has become more of a staple around here and so that’s what I used. I don’t think it made that much of a difference in taste, and visually you can’t tell either. It still gets consumed at break neck speeds here.

Skyline

Skyline Chili from Tornado Ali @ Food.com – Slight changes by me. 😉

1.25 lbs ground turkey (Jennie-O packs are 1.25 pounds)
2 cups chopped onion
4 cups beef broth
15 ounces tomato sauce
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
3 Tbsp cocoa
2 tsps instant minced garlic
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (I omit this, kids and all)
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 bay leaf

1 package spaghetti noodles

Toppings
Onion, finely chopped
Cheddar cheese, finely shredded

Chop 2 cups of onions. I usually use an entire onion and call it good.

In a large pan, I use my enamel dutch oven, cook turkey meat. Brown if at all possible, and do *not* drain. Add onion an cook a few minutes longer.

While turkey is cooking measure all dry ingredients into a bowl. I use Better Than Bullion for the beef broth, and add the vinegar and Worcestershire sauce to that.

Add all remaining ingredients to cooked meat and tender onions. Let simmer until sauce has reduced quite a bit. It can take 60 to 90 minutes. I do use 3/4 of a pound LESS meat than what the original recipe states, so the liquid has to cook down more, but it turned out quite good. David really likes how the sauce cooks down and there is more flavor.

Once the chili is nearly done simmering down, get your spaghetti cooked.

Top spaghetti with a scoop of chili, then top the chili with the finely chopped onions, then top the onions with finely shredded cheese. This my friends is what is called a “4-way”. Sophia prefers the “3-way” since she does not like raw onions (she somehow fails to realize there are onions IN the meat… don’t tell her). I know you can get beans with it, but frankly that just seems sacrilegious.

Try not to become too addicted.

I know that for some spaghetti and chili might seem weird. Okay, chili with cocoa powder might be really weird too, but it’s awesome. It’s not always a dish that is loved instantly. It’s taken Sophia two years to get to the point where she enjoys eating, and is still kind of ambivalent if I try to pretend I don’t want to make Skyline for dinner. Nola … well, she’ll go into near hysterics at the notion of making something else. At least it’s something everyone will eat without complaint I suppose. 😛

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Roasted Chickpeas

We like chickpeas in this house. Curry and hummus are the two standard methods of consumption. I’d had roasted chickpeas come across my Pinterest a time or two and thought nothing of it.  After soaking and cooking up a batch for curry a few nights ago I decided to extras would make a good test batch.

Aside from the fact that I think I let them go in the oven a little too long (15 minutes longer than I say in the directions), they were really good. My advice would be to play around with the seasonings! I bet curry would be lovely.

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Roasted Chickpeas

1-2 cups chickpeas, cooked
1-2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Seasonings – All to taste
Salt
Pepper
Smoked Paprika

Heat oven to 425° F.

Combine the olive oil and chickpeas in a Ziploc bag and shake to evenly coat chickpeas with. Add some salt, pepper, and smoked paprika then shake again to coat the chickpeas with seasoning. Dump the contents of the Ziploc bag onto a cookie sheet lined with tinfoil. Make sure the chickpeas are in a single layer to ensure even cooking.

Bake for 15 minutes then shake the pan to move the chickpeas around, bake for 15 more minutes.

Allow to cool as not to burn your tongue (like I did).

Enjoy!

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Peanut Butter

It’s not really a thrilling topic, but since I need to keep in the habit of posting here it is…

Sophia hates it.

Nola loves it.

David likes crunchy, hates creamy.

I like creamy, and dislike crunchy.

David also likes Skippy brand whereas I like natural kinds. You know, the ones that separate and you have to nearly lose an arm trying to stir the oil back in… David hates having to do that every time he wants peanut butter. I also don’t enjoy having to do so for the girls all the time either.

Amazingly, when I put peanuts from Costco into my Vitamix I get this…

Peanut Butter

This time it came out with some bits still in it, but not as big as chunky PB. There is no need for the fridge, and it won’t separate! The tin of peanuts is $6-$7 and I get about 2 jars worth (I don’t fill up my jar to the top). There’s nothing hydrogenated in it either, which is why David was willing to do without his beloved Skippy. 🙂

Hopefully tomorrow I’ll have some more 2014 in 2014 numbers to post. I keep losing track of the number of items when I go on purging binges. I’ve had to make some estimates, but I low-ball it just to be on the safe side. I can already tell a difference in the areas I’ve worked on and organize, and I’m really really liking it! 😀

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Homemade Almond Butter

I’ve heard of all sorts of people making homemade butters – peanut, cashew, sunflower, coconut, and almond. I finally decided to give almond butter a try since I’ve been successful twice now at making almond milk from scratch (which I *still* need to photograph and post). How hard could making almond butter be, right?

Well, after pausing the movie that my sick kid was watching – because I have amazing timing and all – it took a solid 20 minutes of thinking I was going to kill the food processor. There were a few stops to scrape down almond chunks. I stopped a few more times because I just *knew* that a second more and it would give up the ghost. But in the end…

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I had almond butter!!

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Ricotta

Due to some milk that needed to be used up like right.this.second, and a small container of heavy whipping cream also camped out in my fridge I decided it was time to make ricotta. I may also be making spinach lasagna tomorrow for dinner, and I thought it would be a good idea. Homemade is (almost) always better than store bought after all. So make ricotta I did.

Then I had to go to Trader Joe’s after I got Sophia from school as I needed to get a flower assortment for flower arranging in her class (Montessori is awesome, and I will surely make a post on that sometime in the near future). While I was there I decided to get some whole milk and fresh lemons to try another batch of ricotta. I see a problem forming here. After getting Nola from school we had to go to Target to procure cotton balls for a diorama she needs to do. While there I got buttermilk and more heavy whipping cream. See the problem yet?

We got home and instead of starting dinner… I made another variation of ricotta. (I did eventually get dinner made, no worries.)

Ricotta

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Menu Board

Pinterest strikes again. I saw Stephanie pin a menu board, and the description made me think “meh”, but at one point I finally clicked on it. The shopping list description was not really accurate at all from what I can tell, which was why I was not really interested. I have list making OCD. I don’t need help in that department. At all. I will stalk the stores a few days prior to grocery shopping to ensure I have the right prices, and then I make a spreadsheet.

I do have one problem though. Sticking to a menu plan. I manage to stick to it for a few days, and if I can get a week of actually following my menu plan I’d be shocked. Part of my problem is that I have my menu on my computer in a – prepare to be shocked – spreadsheet. David doesn’t creep around on here to find my menu plan. I’m glad he doesn’t because I don’t need him rolling his eyes at my always open SimCity Social window. 😛

Holy organization batman!

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