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Saturday, September 3, 2011

Last few posts

The mail lady accidentally delivered a neighbor's Latina magazine. It was 115 out when I got it, so I was going to wait until it was cooler to walk it over. I looked at the cover and saw "Cream Cheese Flan" and knew I had to read the recipes. I've shared them with you, and I will be giving my neighbor her magazine later today.

Arroz con chorizo

1/4 c olive oil
1 lbs Spanish chorizo, casing removed, cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 large onion, diced
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 c tomato sauce
1 bay leaf
2 c long-grain white rice
1 tsp Bijol
1/4 c dry white wine
3 1/2 c chicken stock
Hot sauce, optional
Salt and pepper

In large saucepan, heat olive oil over med heat. Add chorizo and saute 3 to 5 minutes, until edges are lightly browned. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic, and cook until onion is translucent (5 to 7 minutes). Add tomato sauce and bay leaf and cook 5 minutes. Add rice and stir well. Add Bijol, dry white wine and stock, and bring mixture to boil. Cook, uncovered, 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low, fluff with fork, cover and cook until rice is tender (17 to 20 minutes). Add hot sauce, salt and pepper to taste.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Ana's Advice: Another option is just making a sofrito (onion, pepper, garlic, 1/2 c tomato sauce), chorizo and a packet of yellow rice mix (reduce stock accordingly). You can throw the bay leaf in to make it look more homemade!

Cream cheese flan

1 c sugar, divided
4 large whole eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 can (14 oz) condensed milk
1 can (14 oz) evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
8 oz whole cream cheese at room temp
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In a small saucepan, heat 1/2 c of the sugar over medium-low heat until it turns light caramel color (about 15 to 20 minutes), and pour into foil loaf pan.
Combine remaining ingredients thoroughly in blender and pour evenly into loaf pan.
Fill large rectangular baking pan halfway with water. Carefully place flan pan into water pan, and place on center rack of oven. Bake until center of custard is set (about 45 minutes). Let cool to room temp.
Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.
Before serving, run knife around edges and invert onto plate. May be eaten plain or topped with guava marmalade, dulce de leche, or dulce de coco (all are available in Hispanic section of most supermarkets).
Makes 6 servings.

Ana's Advice: The great thing about the foil loaf pan is that you can pull it apart on the sides. I've had many cakes not unmold correctly, but I've never had it happen to a flan.

Cuban-style sugar cookies

1 c vegetable shortening (like Crisco)
1 c sugar, more for garnish
3 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp lemon zest, grated (optional)
1/2 tsp salt

In a large bowl, combine shortening and sugar. Gradually add flour until firm, but not flaky. Mix well. Stir in lemon zest.
Place dough in plastic wrap and form into 2 1/2-inch wide cylinder. Wrap plastic around dough and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350.
Cut dough into 1/2-inch slices and place on greased baking sheet. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. After taking cookies out of oven, immediately sprinkle with additional sugar.

Makes 3 dozen cookies.

Ana's Advice: I've made these for Christmas with different colors of sugar, and they look nice too. They're also great for topping with guava or dulce de leche.

NOTE: I'd probably use butter instead of Crisco.

Cuban Shepherd's Pie

Mashed Potatoes
3 lbs deli mashed potatoes (not instant)

1/4 c olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
1 small green bell pepper, diced
1 lbs ground sirloin or ground round
1/2 c dry white wine
1 c tomato sauce
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground oregano
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 c raisins, optional
1/4 c pimento-stuffed olives, roughly chopped
2 tbsp capers
1/2 c Parmesan cheese, grated

In frying pan, heat half of oil over med-high heat. Add garlic, onion, and bell pepper. Saute 5 to 7 minutes. All pan to return to med-high head, then add beef. Saute until thoroughly cooked (10 to 15 minutes), breaking up large chunks. Drain excess liquid.
Add white wine, tomato sauce, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper and remaining olive oil. Reduce heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes. Stirring occasionally. Add raisins, olives, and capers. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Layer half of mashed potatoes evenly on bottom of large, oiled ovenproof casserole dish. Cover with picadillo. Top with remaining potatoes, sprinkle cheese evenly over top. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until top of casserole turns golden brown.
Makes 6 servings.

Ana's advice: There are many things you can omit, such as the raisins, olives, or capers, if you don't like them.

NOTE: If you're going to make the picadillo, make the mashed potatoes too. Deli mashed potatoes in this will be fine, I'm sure, but homemade will be SO much better, especially if they're garlic. Just a suggestion.

Brie and Guava en Croute

1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury crescent rolls
1 round (8-10 oz) Brie cheese
1/2 c guava preserve
1 egg, beaten
Crackers, for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Roll dough into rectangular sheet (ignore perforations). Cut 1-inch strip off longer ends. Carefully place Brie in center of dough and pour preserves on top. Fold shorter edges over Brie, then two longer edges. Press to seal. Brush top of pastry with egg. Bake pastry 15 to 20 minutes on greased baking sheet until dough is golden and flaky. Remove from oven. Let rest 10 minutes before cutting. Serve with crackers.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Ana's advice: I've used the red pepper jelly with this and it's awesome too. You can use any kind of preserve.

NOTE: I don't normally eat Pillsbury products, I'm not testing this recipe, I just thought it sounded good, sans Pillsbury product.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Cold avocado soup

It's been awhile since I blogged. Life has been hectic and I lost my cooking mojo for awhile. There was a lot of stuff from Fresh & Easy that was heat and eat, or cook and eat. Very little thought behind what I was cooking. I hate when I get like that! Anyway, I was in a soup mood today and I found a recipe for quinoa and corn soup. I got corn in my bountiful basket, so I need to use it, but I have to soak the quinoa in stock or water overnight so it'll sprout (whether or not it'll ACTUALLY sprout in stock will remain to be seen. I vote no.) I was looking around and remembered reading about cold avocado soup in Debbie Macomber's book Hannah's List. It sounded interesting, so I googled it and one of the first results that came up was an Emeril recipe.

Now, if there's one person I love from the Food Network, it's Emeril, and technically he's no longer on FN. His recipes always turn out for me, which is more than I can say for some (Paula Deen, you disappoint me.) I read the recipe and I was practically drooling at the end, so I rushed out and got the things necessary for it (and toilet paper which was the real catalyst for the shopping trip. I figured while I was at the store, I'd pick up stuff to make something fun.) Here is the recipe:

3 large, ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup minced scallions
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro, plus 6 sprigs
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup corn kernels
1/2 teaspoon cumin


In batches in a food processor, puree the avocados, chicken stock, scallions, lemon juice, cilantro, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and the cayenne. Pour into a soup tureen or large pitcher and stir in the heavy cream just before serving. In a small skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the corn kernels, cumin, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cook until fragrant and golden brown, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and garnish each serving of soup with 2 tablespoons of the toasted corn and 1 sprig of cilantro.

I followed the recipe pretty closely, but because I was going to be serving it to my kids, I decided to use 1/4 tsp of cayenne. I served it with chips and salsa. The flavor was great, it was like the best guacamole ever, but I had to add to it to change it up. We added a few spoonfuls of salsa, some steamed white rice, it all helped. The winning combo for my kids was a few spoonfuls of salsa and various amounts of rice (more rice for my youngest, less rice for my oldest.) Here's a picture of it before I added the salsa and rice:

Definitely give this recipe a try. If you do a variation on it, let me know, I'm very interested to hear of all the ways you can make this soup. I think next time I'll put a clove or 2 of garlic in it (2 max, raw garlic is very strong tasting!)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Nearly 5 months

Nearly 5 months have gone by since my last blog post and a lot has happened. We bought a house, and moved into it. It was a short sale that we got a very good deal on. We decided to get a single story house because we didn't want to have to deal with insane electricity bills come summer, and I have to say that I'm very happy with our house.

I've been thinking about a turn of phrase that people say lately. "Easy to please." Some people say it like it's something to be ashamed of, but I can't think of any reason why that would be a bad thing (unless EVERYTHING pleases you.) When my husband and I first married I was making him a batch of chocolate chip cookies to take with him on the plane for a business trip. We didn't have an electric mixer and he had the brilliant idea of having me use a blender. I looked at him like he was crazy (rightfully so!) and showed him it didn't work. He thought I broke the VitaMix and I cleaned out the blender, then mixed the cookies by hand. When he came home from his trip he said he had a gift for me and pulled out a hand mixer. I was so touched, it was a really thoughtful gift. Someone told me that it was a crap gift, why was I so happy with it, and I couldn't figure out why they would say those things. I didn't expect the gift and I surely didn't think it was crap. Regardless of how much money said mixer cost, he thought of me while he was on his trip and saw something that he knew I wanted, and needed. I still have that mixer today.

I hear stories of women that are completely hard to please and I feel bad for their marriages. Now, hear me out, I'm not saying that I'm so above them, or that they're stupid, I just think their attitudes are poor. It seems like their husbands can do nothing right and I can't imagine that would be a happy marriage. Some women are so focused on the physical things their spouses bring to the table that they overlook the emotional things their spouses bring, or that their spouses have feelings at all. I know a woman who hates her husband, has given him permission to have an affair because she's not having sex with him, but she won't divorce him because she doesn't want to lose her house (and at the same time she tries to get uppity with me and lecture me about marriage. It would be amusing if it weren't so damn sad.) Awhile back she was upset because he didn't ask her how a doctors appointment went when she thought she had cancer. She didn't, but she spent more time than she should have stewing about the fact that her husband hadn't asked how the appointment went. Perhaps her husband emotionally checked out of the marriage when he was told that he could have an affair? Perhaps he was giving her space to cope with the news that he assumed was bad because she didn't dance through the door singing, "It's NEGATIVE!" (Which is TOTALLY something I would do.) I'm not sure how, or if it's even possible, for her to get back to a good marriage with her husband, but thinking of her, and the way that she speaks about her husband, makes me so glad that my husband is who he is.