Sunday, December 26, 2010

Mama's Tostones (Plantains)

The holidays conjure up all sorts of memories of family meals. I write a lot about my Granny's recipes. But today, my mom and I had the pleasure of making one of her mother's specialties, Mama's Tostones.

Mama was from the Dominican Republic, so in addition to Granny's amazing Italian food, I had the luxury of experiencing "Island Food" as I grew up.

Many of you have probably enjoyed traditional Fried Plantains, which are sweet. Tostones are a salty version of plantains. Plantains are high in Fiber, Potassium and Vitamin A and C. And they're delicious. To make Tostones:

1. Slice into the skin without hitting the meat with your knife. Slice it lengthwise in a few spots so you can peel the skin off.

2. Cut the plantains into 1 inch chunks.

3. Heat Canola oil in a frying pan.

4. Lightly brown both sides of the plantain chunks.

5. Put the browned chunks on a paper bag. (I know that sounds weird. Just go with it.)

6. When the plantains cool, put another paper bag over the pieces and press down hard on each slice until it's as flat as you can make it.

NOTE: It's important to use paper bags because paper towels shred.

7. Put the flattened Tostones back in the frying pan. Brown them again.

8. Place the Tostones on a plate covered with a paper towel (so the oil drains). Salt them immediately.
NOTE: By salting immediately, the salt sticks to the oil on the plantains.

9. Enjoy the Tostones by themselves or dip them in guacamole for an extra treat!

What family foods do you love?


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Pan Roasted Rib Eye Steak with Onions and Mushrooms

Have I mentioned how important it is to stock up when meat is on sale? I just bought a delicious bone-in ribeye steak for $5.68. Its normal price is about $16. So by simply keeping an eye on your store's weekly sales, you can save a bundle.

Anyway, let's get to the meat. Ribeye steaks are fatty. Now, don't freak out and bail on the blog. Fat = Flavor! And one ribeye, when it happens to be on sale, is not going to kill you. In fact, it will delight you. And even more delightful, it only takes a few minutes to make. I like mine with mushrooms and onions. If that sounds good to you, pan roast yourself a ribeye steak with onions and mushrooms like this:

1. Slice up an onion and an equal amount if mushrooms.

2. Heat a metal handled frying pan on your stove on medium high. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

3. Pour enough olive oil in the pan to cover the bottom. (Probably about two circles around the pan.)

4. When the oil is hot, add your mushrooms and onions. Lightly brown them. (About five minutes.) Add salt and pepper.

5. Remove them from the pan and set aside.

6. Next salt and pepper your steak. Then add it to the pan. Sear one side. It should take about four minutes.

7. When the downside is gorgeously browned, flip it over. If you have rosemary or another favorite woody herb, sprinkle some on top.

8. Pour the mushrooms and onions over the steak and put the pan in the oven for about five minutes for medium.


10. Plate the food. Let the steak rest for five minutes before cutting into it.


This is my favorite steak because it's flavorful and I get to gnaw on the bone. What's your favorite kind of steak? Why?


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Holla! Peno Mac and Cheese

Why settle for boring mac and cheese when you can kick it up with some jalapenos? That's right, add a little zing to an old fave like this:

1. Boil water on the stove. Add noodles and cook per the package directions. I'm a big fan of mini shells because they cradle gobs of cheesy goodness. But any noodle will work.

2. Drain the pasta. Put in it a bowl.

3. Add shredded cheddar cheese to the bowl. Use about three cups for a pound of mac and cheese. Set one cup of cheese aside for topping.

4. Chop a jalapeno or two and add them to the bowl.

5. Squirt about three tablespoons of brown mustard into the mix. (Yes, it sounds weird, but trust me, the mustard adds a great zing to the mac.)

6. Pour heavy cream over the noodles until they're pretty well saturated. (About a pint.)

7. Mix it all up.

8. Put the mac and cheese mixture in a greased baking dish.

9. Sprinkle the remaining cheddar over the top.

10. Bake at 425 for 25 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

How easy is that? And just wait until you taste how delicious it is. You're going to want it eat all the time. (But you probably shouldn't. Just sayin'.)


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Beef and Lentil Soup

I'm kookoo for soup! Lately, I've been making big batches and then freezing them in one serving containers. That way, I can take them to work with me and eat the soup for lunch. It saves me money and also gves me peace of mind because I know exactly what's in the food I'm eating.

This week I indulged in lots of delicious Beef and Lentil soup. It's easy to cook and super filling. Make it like this:

1. Buy a package of stew meat. Then cut the meat into smaller pieces. You could make this a seriously chunky soup if you'd like but I prefer smaller bites of meat on this one.

2. Salt and pepper the beef.

3. Heat a big pot on the stove over medium high heat. Add about two tablespoons of olive oil. (That's about twice around the pot.)

4. When the oil is hot, brown the meat.

5. After it's brown on all sides, put the meat on a plate and set it aside.

6. Add a little more oil to the pot. Add diced carrots, celery and onion.

7. After about 6 or 7 minutes, when the veggies are semi-soft, add a couple cloves of chopped garlic. Make sure the garlic doesn't brown. Brown garlic tastes BAD.

8. Put the meat back in the pot. Add a can of diced tomatoes. (You can use a 15oz or 28oz. Depends on your love for tomatoes.)

9. Add a box of beef broth and some fresh thyme. Stir.

10. Let the soup simmer over medium heat, covered, for an hour.

11. Add lentils. About a cup will do.

12. Cover the pot and let the soup cook another hour or until lentils are soft.

And that's it! It's as delicious as it looks and the meat will fall apart in your mouth. Enjoy!

What other soups would you like to learn how to make?


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Suzie's Spicy Chicken Soup

Eddie, the cook at a restaurant I used to work at, made the most delicious spicy chicken soup. I'm talkin' make your nose run from the jalapenos spicy. So warm it could chase the chill out of any winter day.

I've been craving it lately, so I created my own less spicy version. After all, I wanted normal people to be able to enjoy it too. So here's my version of Spicy Chicken Soup:

1. Chop onions, celery and carrots into chunks that are about equal in size. You can go big or small - whatever you like.

2. Heat a large pot over medium high heat on the stove top.

3. Cover the hot pot's bottom with olive oil. (About two tablespoons or two spins around the pot.)

4. When it's hot, drop the veggies in. Let them soften about 7 minutes. If they start to brown, turn the heat down.

5. Meanwhile, peel and chop three garlic cloves and a jalapeno. Chop more if you're feeling extra spicy.

6. Add them to the pot. Let them soften just about two minutes. Not too long. You don't want your garlic to brown. Stir.

7. Add salt and pepper.

8. Next, add a skinned (Eat the delicious skin first!) cooked chicken to the pot. You can buy one already cooked at the supermarket or roast one yourself.

9. Fill the pot with enough water to cover the chicken. Stir.

10. Cover the pot and let it simmer for about an hour.

11. With tongs, scrape the chicken from the bones. Then discard the bones.

12. Taste the broth. If it's not chicken-y enough for you, add a bullion cube.

13. Keep simmering until the chicken becomes shredded and chunky.

14. Chop lots of fresh parsley. Add it to the soup.

If you want to kick up the spice, add more jalapeno and of course, salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy this spicy twist on a classic! So...what soup do you crave?