Ropa Vieja

This isn’t as colorful as it would be if all the peppers and onions had not been pressure cooked with the meat from the beginning.  It’s an InstaPot dish adapted from this bon appetit recipe.  I used the rest of a big flat iron steak that I used for the beef and broccoli stir fry a few days ago.
Not that I have any experience with traditional Cuban cooking, but the black beans and the rice are considered to be a requirement for this dish.
I transferred it to the stovetop so I could reduce it, it was a bit thin because I had used a full quart of my canned stewed tomatoes because they were put up with quite a few peppers and onions.  The recipe calls for pimento stuffed olives but I didn’t have any on hand.  Should have sliced them in half, though.
I gave the ropa a full 60 minutes in the InstaPot, and then another 30 because my flat iron steak wasn’t yet ready to shred.

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Pork Belly with Pickled Mustard Greens

Most days we watch cooking shows while having lunch or dinner.  I DVR shows so I can skip the commercials during playback.  This dish caught my eye so I grabbed a notepad to scribble down the ingredients:

  • pork belly
  • brown sugar
  • mushroom soy sauce
  • black bean sauce
  • oyster sauce
  • sliced ginger root
  • chopped green onions
  • chopped white onion
  • minced garlic
  • fermented black beans
  • sesame oil
  • pickled mustard greens

There will be no measurements.  I used about 1-1/2 pounds of pork belly cut into one inch cubes and pretty much eye-balled the rest of it,  I started the video from the top and added the ingredients in the same order as the TV chef, a Jamaican with Chinese ancestry.  His answers, when prompted for amounts by the host, were either “this much” or “that much there”.

The chef was asked how long will this simmer on your stove-top, but I couldn’t make out his reply.  I think he said “till it’s done”.I was going to be making it in the Instapot pressure cooker so I set it for an hour.

The mustard green were added after the pork belly had cooked down.These came from the International Grocery, a store in a nearby college town.  I was pretty sure they would have them, but I looked in the canned veggie section to no avail.  I asked for help.  The store clerk went right to them, they are in sealed plastic bags, he mentioned that they were very sour and needed a good soaking with changes of water so I started the soak the first thing. I also picked up the mushroom soy sauce and the black bean ingredients while there.  Handy store!Chop the greens and add them to the pot after it cools down enough to open.  I also thickened this the same way as the chef – a slurry of corn starch.  When I make this again I will back off on the on the added water.

The TV show was “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives on the food network.  The info for the episode said it was from season 4, episode 6, first aired 09/05/08.  Alas, a search of the Food Network’s web page didn’t yield agreement, it says the the episode “A Taste of Everywhere” was from season 4, episode 7.  Clicking on that episode link was no help in finding the recipe.

A  Google search for recipes turned up numerous variations, most of them mentioned par-boiling the pork belly.  There wasn’t any mention of that on the show but it may have been edited out.  I went ahead and did it before cubing the belly:

Next time I’ll cube it first and boil it a little longer, that should reduce the fat a little in the end result.

Tidbits

DSC02956 (1600x1200)The in-laws gifted us these two fig tree cuttings and sent over a small bowl of figs from the tree they were cut from.  Tasty!  I hadn’t ever eaten a fresh fig before, my only exposure to figs of any sort was by way of those Newton cookies and the occasional holiday candied treat.  They didn’t provide too much info on them except to say they were Italian fig trees.  They say they will grow to six feet and bear fruit in the second year.  Any luck and we won’t kill them before that. DSC_1242 (1600x1060)This is my second try at baking slider buns and I think I’m on the right path.  Those black specks are bits of garlic that I flavored the melted butter with for the pre-bake brushing.  I didn’t worry about them when it went on but I should have known they were going to char in the oven.  It looks like one KA recipe will make 20 appropriately sized buns – 2-1/2 to 3 inches each.DSC_5429 (1600x1060)Bea was in the pot with the jalapenos when I looked out the window but by the time I had my camera in hand she was out of it and back into her usual spot.DSC_1245 (1600x1060)We had chicken enchiladas for dinner today, nothing special – tomatillo sauce, roasted poblanos, and Monterey jack.  I made the corn/black bean salad I’ve done before but new to the table is the hominy/sweet corn/red bean salad.  Both salads have onions and green peppers in a rice vinegar dressing.DSC_5424 (1600x1060)Bitsy is taking her turn in the catnip pot.  They are all just crazy for that stuff.

Summer Dinner Menu: Fajita Chicken and Vegetable Kabobs

Chicken kabobs

I thought we’d send summer out with a bang and do a spicy grilled mix and some fruit cobbler. I am a summer worshiper and I mourn its passing. Let’s have a moment of silen…okay, done now. Bring on the fall foods! It was cool enough today that I was actually thinking of soup. Chicken Tortilla Soup and Sweet Pepper Potato Soup (recipe coming up soon).

On the board tonight:

  1. Fajita Chicken & Vegetable Kabobs
  2. Black Beans
  3. Rice
  4. Fruit Cobbler

Fajita Chicken & Vegetable Kabobs

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, cut into large chunks
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tbsp fajita seasoning

bowl

In bowl, mix together 1 tbsp oil, garlic, salt, pepper, & 1 tbsp fajita seasoning, add chicken and toss, coating chicken well.

Cut all vegetables into large chunks (about 8 pieces each):

  • 1 small eggplant
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 large tomato
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp fajita seasoning
  • 1 cup fresh salsa

4 metal skewers and bowl

In bowl, combine vegetables with oil, vinegar, garlic, 1 tbsp fajita seasoning and toss gently to coat well. Assemble onto skewers with chicken, using tomato chunks as first and last item (keeps everything else in place).  Grill, turning frequently until chicken is cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes. Do not overcook.

Black beans

To liven up black beans, add a dash of lime juice, some chopped cilantro and a bit of cayenne or chili powder.

Fruit Cobbler

  • 4 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 16 oz fresh fruit (peaches, berries, apples or a combination, whatever is best available in your area)
  • 1 tbsp sugar

8X8 baking dish, bowl

In 350° oven, melt butter in baking dish. In bowl, sift together flour, ¼ cup sugar, baking powder & salt. Add milk & egg, whisk to form a smooth batter. Pour into baking dish (don’t stir butter in). Scatter fruit evenly over the top of the batter and sprinkle with 1 tbsp sugar. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes until fruit bubbles and batter is golden brown.

Shopping List:

  • 12 to 16 oz can black beans
  • 1 cup dry rice
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • fajita seasoning
  • 1 small eggplant
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 large tomato
  • 8 oz fresh salsa
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 oz milk
  • 1 egg
  • 16 oz fresh fruit (peaches, berries, apples or a combination, whatever is best available in your area)

Also: oil, crushed garlic, salt, pepper, red wine vinegar, baking powder



 

Full Dinner Menu: Black Bean Soup

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Mouthwatering Photo by JeffreyW

Believe it or not, they are forecasting snow by the end of the week. From 90 to snow in 4 days. Fall in Colorado. If it does snow it will be quick and brief I’m sure, then back to warm days and fall leaves. But cool weather means soup to me, so that is what I chose for this week’s menu.

This is a recipe from a restaurant in Ouray, CO that was in an old bank. They gave it to me 20 years ago on my honeymoon and I make it all the time. This was my first experience at having to change a recipe meant for 60 into one for 6-8. It’s spicy, so ease up on the cumin and chili powder if needed, you can always add more during the last 30 minutes if needed.

On the board tonight:

  1. Spicy Black Bean Soup
  2. French Bread
  3. Red Grape Salad
  4. Apple wedges & Cheese

Black Bean Soup

  • 4-14 oz cans black beans
  • 2 tsp to 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 ½ tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp to 1 tbsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp thyme
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 3 cubes beef bouillon
  • 1 tsp to 2 tsp cumin
  • 3 carrots, shredded
  • ½ onion, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 green pepper, minced
  • ½ cup dry red wine (opt)
  • 1 lb chopped smoked sausage
  • 12 cups water

Slow-cooker

Add all ingredients to slow-cooker and cook according to directions (usually 8-10 hours on low). Just before serving, take a potato masher or hand blender and blend/mash slightly to thicken

Red Grape Salad

  • ½ head red leaf lettuce, torn
  • 3 cups seedless red grapes, halved
  • 1 pear, peeled, cored and cubed
  • 4 oz shredded carrots
  • Poppy Seed dressing

Serving bowl

Toss ingredients together, chill and serve

Shopping List:

  • 4-14 oz cans black beans
  • 4 -6 carrots or equivalent shredded carrots
  • ½ onion
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 green pepper
  • 4 oz dry red wine (opt)
  • 1 lb smoked sausage
  • ½ head red leaf lettuce
  • 3 cups seedless red grapes
  • 1 pear
  • Poppy Seed dressing
  • French Bread
  • Apple wedges & Cheese

Also: salt, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, chili powder, beef bouillon, cumin, pepper

Originally posted December 2009

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Kitchen Fun

DSC_8900 (1600x1060)While we were at the store yesterday looking for cake ingredients we went ahead and bought some ground beef for a couple of quick burgers.  Hard to beat burgers grilled over a flame.  There was a fair amount of beef leftover so we bounced a few ideas around.  Mrs J mentioned sloppy joes and that sounded pretty good.  I went to the patio to grab some sweet peppers to go into the dish and brought in a few.  As I was breaking them down I thought it a waste to let those cute little peppers go unstuffed.DSC_8914 (1600x1060)Before long I had them filled with a mix of taco seasoned beef and nacho cheese sauce and topped with shredded cheddar and Monterey jack.  They went into a 350 oven for about 15 to 20 minutes.DSC_8916 (1600x1060)We had settled on a Nacho centered meal by this time what with the ground beef seasonings and cheeses already to hand.  We needed another dish to round out the menu, Mrs J suggested making more of the black bean and corn salsa:DSC_8925 (1600x1060)We have cherry tomatoes ripe again so they went in, as did 3 ears of sweet corn with the kernels shaved off the cob.  There are several varieties of peppers chopped up in there, a few green onions, a can of rinsed black beans, salt, black pepper, and a dash of lime juice in with a rice vinegar dressing.  It’s pretty good.DSC_8921 (1600x1060)Everything came together nicely on a platter.  I piled the chips on a toaster oven tray and sprinkled them with a good handful of the shredded cheeses and then popped it into the toaster oven under the broiler to melt the cheeses.  The whole pile slid right onto the platter and then I really piled on the extras:  the taco seasoned beef, some of that corn salsa, sliced jalapenos, nacho cheese sauce, sour cream, guacamole, New Mexico green chili salsa, more green onions, and a good grind of dried chili seasonings.

Enjoy!DSC_8923 (1600x1060)

Friday Recipe Exchange: Santa Fe Wraps and Enchiladas

DSC_8441 (1600x1060)

I live within walking distance of one of the best family owned Mexican restaurants around, they have some of my favorite green chile sauce ever, so I rarely go to all the trouble of making a Mexican style meal.

But JeffreyW is always making some yummy south of the border treat. He was burning up the blog with some great recipes this week, so I’m going to highlight those tonight. Then the featured recipe is a simple and tasty wrap I often make for a casual meal when I have company.

First up, JeffreyW makes some excellent Chimichurri that I can’t wait to try.

Chimichurri is a  green sauce used for grilled meat, originally from Argentina. It is based on finely-chopped parsley, minced garlic, olive oil, oregano, and white or red wine vinegar.

Photos and recipes here and here (he changes things up a bit the second time around).

Pictured above are JeffreyW’s Chicken Enchiladas, recipe and more photos here.

For a quick kid-friendly dinner, I make a fun and popular with the kids Burrito Pie, recipe here.

What’s cookin’ this weekend? Anything fresh from the garden making it to your table yet? Hit the comments and don’t forget to share some of your favorite recipes, you guys have been great at giving me new recipes to try.

The featured recipe tonight is one of my quick and easy meals that works great when I have a house full and I want a casual build-your-own main course.

Santa Fe Wraps

(There is a full dinner menu at this link).

  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 14 oz can black beans
  • 14 oz can red beans
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 lb sirloin, London broil, or flank steak thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 red pepper*
  • ½ yellow onion
  • 1 pkg. taco seasoning
  • 12 oz shredded Jack Cheese
  • 4-8 burrito size flour tortillas (maybe try a flavored style)

2 saucepans, skillet and 4 serving bowls

In saucepan, add rice, 2 cups water and bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes until all the water is absorbed. In other saucepan, add beans & heat on med-low until heated through. In 300° oven, place tortilla shells between two pieces of foil and warm. In skillet, heat oil, sauté onion & pepper add steak, cook 5 minutes, reduce heat & add tomatoes, taco seasoning and simmer an additional 5 minutes on medium. Put rice, beans, cheese and meat mixture in separate serving bowls, let everyone assemble their own wrap at the table.

*Go wild, use a couple of different colors for added flavor and a pretty presentation.

Also, please note my friend who lived in Santa Fe says it needs chopped green chiles to be authentic. So add as desired.

That’s it for this week….happy Friday the 13th.  – TaMara

 

Thursday Night Menu: Tropical Nights Edition

Had a little trouble deciding what to post tonight. We’ve been pretty busy at work and we are all a bit tired, when I asked the guys what I should post, ordering pizza instead of cooking won out.

I pulled three different menus before I decided on a little taste of Sanibel Island. I like the fresh flavors in this menu and I really enjoy tuna and swordfish.

The Butter Pecan Turtle Bars are as decadent as they sound, and a breeze to make.

On the board tonight:

  1. Fish Tacos
  2. Black Bean Tropical Salad
  3. Butter Pecan Turtle Bars

Fish Tacos

  • 1 large mango, peeled & chopped
  • ½ large tomato, chopped
  • 1 small cucumber, chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, chopped
  • 2 tbsp limejuice
  • 8 taco size flour tortillas
  • 1 lb halibut, swordfish or tuna, 1” thick
  • ½ tsp Jamaican jerk seasoning
  • 2 cups shredded lettuce

bowl, foil, platter

Combine mango, tomato, cucumber, cilantro, green onion, jalapeno in bowl. Toss with 1 tbsp limejuice and set aside.  Wrap tortillas in foil and warm in the oven or on the grill (keep away from coals) Drizzle remaining limejuice over fish, sprinkle with jerk and grill or broil for 5 to 9 minutes, until fish flakes easily. Cut fish into chunks, fill each tortilla with 1/8 of the fish, fruit mixture and lettuce. Serves 4

Black Bean Tropical Salad

  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1 avocado, cubed*
  • 1 to 2 jalapeños
  • ½ large tomato, chopped
  • ½ head red leaf lettuce, washed
  • 14 oz can black beans, drained

serving bowl

Seed & slice peppers & jalapenos. Add everything to serving bowl and toss with dressing.

*easiest way to slice an avocado is to cut in half, remove pit, cut cubes with a knife, then scoop out.

Dressing:

  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp limejuice
  • ¼ cup light olive oil
  • ¼ tsp crushed garlic

In jar or mixing cup, mix all ingredients together well.

Butter Pecan Turtle Bars

  • 2 cups unbleached flour
  • ¾ cup brown sugar, packed
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cups pecan halves

Topping:

  • ½ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 12 oz milk chocolate chips

well oiled 9×13 baking dish, bowl, saucepan

Combine flour, brown sugar and 1/2 cup butter; blend until crumbly. Pat mixture firmly onto bottom of pan. Sprinkle pecan halves over the unbaked crust.

Topping: In small saucepan, combine brown sugar & butter. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture begins to boil. Boil for one minute, stirring constantly. Drizzle caramel over pecans and crust. Bake at 350° for 18-20 minutes or until caramel layer is bubbly and crust is light brown. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with chocolate chips. Spread chips evenly as they melt. Cool completely before cutting.

Shopping List:

  • 1 large mango
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 small cucumber
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 3 green onions
  • 3 jalapeños
  • 8 taco size flour tortillas
  • 1 lb halibut, swordfish or tuna, 1” thick
  • 1 head red lettuce
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1 avocado
  • 14 oz can black beans, drained
  • 2 cups unbleached flour
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 1 ½ cups pecan halves
  • 12 oz milk chocolate chips

Also: lemon juice, limejuice, Jamaican jerk seasoning, light olive oil, crushed garlic

Copyright 2014 What’s 4 Dinner Solutions Cookbook: Summer Edition