Monday, October 31, 2011

Menu: Oct 24-30

For all of you who like to celebrate Halloween: Happy Halloween. My husband and I are more in the non-celebratory mood. We haven't gotten dressed up (I will wear black and orange but not a costume), we haven't decorated... pretty much since we got married. We did dress my son up as a farmer boy last year (turned out super cute!), but as he has a cold this year we're not going to do it. We will be handing out candy in our new neighborhood if anybody feels daring enough to come knock on our door. I have a pumpkin I'm setting outside so people will at least think I'm a bit into it. Want to know what I'm doing tonight? I'm putting together a table... that's right - no more card table for us! We've upgraded and it just arrived! 

I made Ratatouille yesterday. It was my first time making it and I can honestly say I would make it every month except for one thing. Hubby doesn't really like squash. He doesn't like the way the squash squeaks in his teeth (I'm not sure when that happens, I don't remember it squeaking...), and he thinks the taste is nothing to brag about. However he will eat it. I just choose not to force the issue very often. This time I let him try it and had some leftovers waiting just in case. He actually ate his fill of Ratatouille. It is now something I get to make about once a year... I decided after making it that it was NOT something to make for just me. There was way too much stuff in that pot for one person to tackle alone! 
I actually really enjoyed all our meals this past week, except Tuesday's - but that is another story entirely.

Now on to the menu:
Monday: Chicken Stuffed Peppers (Leftovers but will still be in the poll - oh and did I mention that the sauce has chocolate in it?)

Tuesday: I honestly did not eat dinner this night... Had a busy day and just didn't get time for it!

Wednesday: Vegetable Frittata (I omitted the peas, added a small diced sweet potato, omitted the basil and added fresh parsley. I also topped it (after it was done) with some cheddar cheese then broiled until melted.

Thursday: Ate out
Friday: Creamy Cauliflower Soup and stuffing (from a box)
Saturday: Thai Peanut Noodle Salad (I used pork instead of chicken and it worked great!)
Sunday: Ratatouille

Vote for the recipe you want to see next Thursday. Chinese Chicken Salad won last week's poll and will be posted on Thursday. I'm excited to share it with you all!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Quinoa with Roasted Peppers & Caramelized Onions

For those of you who have never heard of Quinoa, you don't know what you are missing! You may be asking, 'what is quinoa' or 'where can I find quinoa'? First, quinoa is a seed that is about the same size as couscous. It comes from South America (around Peru) and has been cultivated there for centuries. The special thing about quinoa is that is has a high protein content and it contains a complete protein (very rare in plants.) Quinoa is prepared much like rice (in fact I used my rice cooker to cook the quinoa before combining it with all the flavors. 

Now on to where to find it. When I first heard about quinoa, the only place I could find it was Whole Foods... which was a problem since it was literally hours away! Now I can find it in my local area - which is great since there are only about 10,000 people in my whole county! Each store is different, however I would look in with the grains or with the dry beans, rice and where couscous is located. If all else fails, you can always order it online (I know sells it, but I am sure there are other places that you can find it through as well.)
Quinoa with Roasted Peppers & Caramelized Onions
Recipe adapted from Bobby Flay on FoodNetwork
Roasted Pepper strips:
First, cook quinoa according to package directions (or however you've found works best, as I mentioned above - I cooked mine in my rice cooker.)
While the quinoa is cooking, roast 3 Anaheim peppers. To roast, simply place under broiler for about 5 minutes on each side (or until they get a bit blackened.) Remove to either a paper bag or a freezer bag (please do NOT use plastic storage bags as they can melt.) Let rest for a few minutes.
Once rested, remove to a cutting board.
Cut off the top of the pepper.
Cut down the middle of the pepper.
Then open the pepper up.
Remove the seeds.
These last few seeds are easiest to just pick off with your hand or rinse off under the tap.
Next, remove the skin of the pepper.
Letting it rest in the paper bag or the freezer bag helps the skin to loosen.
Next, cut into strips.
Set aside.
Caramelized Onion:
You'll need 1/3 cup chicken or vegetable broth - set aside.
You'll also need olive oil,
and butter. It doesn't really matter what brand you use, unless you find one that you like better - then by all means use it.
You need 2 Tbsp butter,
2 Tbsp (or 1/8 cup) olive oil. Place the oils in a saucepan and melt the butter.
You'll also need 1 large or 2 medium yellow onions cut into slices.  Toss them in with the oils, cook over medium heat.
Cook until the onion is translucent. Then add the broth.
Continue cooking until the broth reduces and they start to caramelize.
When they are carmelized, remove from heat and set aside.

Now to put it all together...
You'll need 2 Tbsp more butter...
and 1 Tbsp more Olive oil. You probably could omit this all together if you would like. I will next time I make it.
Next, you'll need Soy Sauce.
1 Tbsp of it.
I got these ready when I was doing the measuring for the caramelized onions, but if you are doing it at different times, go ahead and throw these into a pan.
Over low heat, melt the butter.
You'll also need some fresh parsley - the flat leaf (Italian) parsley.
Coarsely chop 1/4 cup of it. Interesting thing I learned about parsley - it loses much of its flavor when it is dried... so try to avoid it.
Once the butter is melted, toss in the quinoa.
Add the parsley
(and yes my camera was having issues on the color with this... I can't wait until I have a DSLR instead of my point and shoot!)
Next toss in about 1/4 cup of the caramelized onion and the pepper strips - cut into smaller pieces.
Mix it all together and place into/onto serving dishes.
Top with Caramelized onion.
Then the roasted pepper strips.
You could garnish with some fresh parsley if desired.

Original Recipe (I only made 1-2 changes)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Menu: Oct 17-23

I feel like I've been perpetually a day behind lately... perhaps it was because yesterday I decided to make finger food for my husband's work (there are only about 10 people who work in his office) instead of doing what I normally do Monday mornings. Now I definitely am one day behind! 

Today I just wanted to give an update on my 30 for 30... So far I haven't done any of the first 10 - but I wanted to send out a plea - I really do want to send letters to my blog readers but I need YOU to help me. Please email me at crystalscozykitchen (at) gmail (dot) com so I can send you a handwritten letter and a handwritten recipe card (who knows, I may also send a dozen cookies too!)
I've made one hand-painted sign now... This is for my son's room. I painted his name in the large blank space.
I've definitely left 20 comments, but I'm still trying to get in the habit of not just reading posts, but actually commenting - because who doesn't love comments!  Unpacked 23 boxes - check! I've given away 8 cupcakes (plus some mini ones, but I'm not counting those!) I've made at least 3 different types of cookies, and given away one batch. I feel that I could be doing better, but I still think I'm doing okay considering we just moved!

Now on to the menu: 

Monday: Beef Fajitas
Tuesday: Beef Fajitas

Wednesday: Chinese Chicken Salad
Thursday: Chinese Chicken Salad

Friday: Ate Out
Saturday: Chicken Stuffed Peppers w/Mole Sauce
Sunday: Roast (plain and simple cooked in the slow cooker.)

Vote for the recipe that you want to see next Thursday.  This week I'll be posting Quinoa w/Onions & Pepper which won last week's poll.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Chili Rubbed Sirloin Steak

This steak I bought on "Manager's Special"  - which is a fancy way of saying they marked it down to sell before the sell by date. I promptly brought it home and stuck it in the freezer. (There were actually 3 steaks I think, but I only used one when I cooked this.) It has always been hard for me to buy beef from the store... why? because I grew up getting beef from a ranch that was 2.5 miles from my house. It also didn't hurt that my grandparents owned the ranch and my parents only had to pay butchering costs! I also knew that the cows were treated right - my grandparents cared about their cows. It wasn't organic because they would give their cows antibiotics when they needed them (ie. when a calf had pneumonia.) The cows are pasture fed though, and I love that. Its just old fashioned ranching (the land has been in the family for 4 generations). I'm going to eventually be buying from the ranch (still in the family now that my grandparents are both deceased), but for now it's store bought stuff (until we save enough to buy the cow - at a reduced price I'm sure ;), and pay the butcher!)

Back to this steak... it turned out great and I am excited to share this recipe with you!
 Chili Rubbed Sirloin Steak
First, you'll need spices for the rub - 1 tsp of Garlic Powder and 2 tsp of Chili Powder. You'll also want to add about 1 tsp salt (not pictured.)
1/4 tsp of Black Pepper and 1/4 tsp of Ground Cumin.
You'll also need 1/4 tsp of Smoked Paprika. If you're feeling adventurous, go ahead and add 1/2 tsp of it. If using regular paprika definitely go with 1/2 tsp. But seriously the smoked makes a HUGE difference. (I just started using it this year and LOVE it.)
Mix them all together in a bowl or small container.
My son decided to help me, so I let him stir the spices...
You'll also need a steak (bet you couldn't have guessed that one!)
And Olive Oil.
Trim the excess fat off the steak.
Pour about 2 tsp Olive Oil over one side of the steak,
then rub it all over so it is coated.
Flip the steak over,
add 2 more tsp olive oil,
and rub it all over.
Sprinkle with half of the spices.
Rub them in (ps, my camera doesn't like the color of paprika it always messes up the coloring and I can't get it right!)
Flip it back over and top with remaining spice mixture.
Rub it in.
Place on a cookie sheet or double broiler pan. Broil about 4 inches from heat at about 450 degrees (or on high if you can't set the broiler temp) for 5 min on each side if you want Medium-Rare or about 9-10 minutes on each side for Well Done. I did about 8 minutes and it was Medium-Well (closer to well than medium!)
Remove from oven and let rest for 5-10 minutes (helps seal in juices.)
Slice on angle at desired thickness.