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Archive for May, 2012

Book Love

There is just something about a book.  This Modern Library collection belongs to my hubby.  He started the collection before we met, and it is one of the reasons I married him.  Not because I wanted the books, which I did, but because I thought it was so awesome that 1) he had a collection, and 2) it was a book collection!  I especially love the beauty of these Modern Library books – the lovely fading covers, the slightly yellowing pages, and the wonderful gold torchbearer emblems.  Look closely and you can see the torchbearer at the top of spines.  I ♥ books!

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This past weekend, my son’s college friend Scott was stopping over at our house on his long drive home.  While my son slept in, Scott sat at our kitchen counter as I cooked breakfast.  I was surprised that a 20 year old young man that I had met only a few times would want to sit with me while I cooked and my son slept.  I just smiled to myself as we chatted.  I would venture to guess that most 20 year old young men would find the nearest computer or iPhone to distract themselves with in this situation.  Then, he said, “You really know your way around a kitchen.”  I was tickled and curious.  He went on to say he liked to cook and described things he made for dinner.  I am still thinking about him today.  He and my son are college students with little time to cook but like to experiment and produce tasty meals.  This is a recipe for them.

It is an easy recipe that tastes like a complicated recipe.  The poblanos add a nice depth of flavor.  I wasn’t sure what poblanos looked like but asked the produce manager for help.  Turns out you need to look for poblanos or pasillas. They are the same thing.  They are large in size and mild in flavor.  Here is what they look like:

You cook the poblanos first to soften them and char them a little before adding the other ingredients.

Chicken Poblano Burritos  adapted from Bon Appetit

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 medium-size fresh poblano chiles,* seeded, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breast halves or cutlets, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick strips
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 cup red salsa (Casa Sanchez is good – located in the deli area of the grocery store)
  • 2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 6 burrito-size flour tortillas
  • 2 cups grated four-cheese Mexican blend cheese (about 8 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add poblano chiles; sauté until beginning to soften, about 7 minutes. Add chicken, cumin, and chili powder; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until chicken is almost cooked through, 7-10 minutes. Mix in salsa; cook 1 minute. Stir in corn; sauté until heated through, about 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat; cover to keep warm.

Working with 1 tortilla at a time, heat tortillas in a pan until beginning to soften and brown in spots, about 15 seconds per side. Spoon chicken mixture in strip down center of each tortilla; top with cheese and cilantro. Fold in sides of tortilla over filling; roll up, enclosing filling.

*Poblano chiles are often called pasillas; available at most grocery stores and Latin markets.

 

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When I was in my twenties, I worked my way through The Silver Palate cookbook.  And, wow, what a cookbook it was and is.  It is my favorite cookbook of all time. The recipes are outstanding, dependable and impressive when served to guests.

When I was in my thirties and had two little boys who grew into big boys, I experimented.  The boys might tell you I never made anything twice.  That is not entirely true.  There are a few things I made regularly, but the majority of the time I was trying new recipes.  Reading cookbooks, cooking magazines, and epicurious.com was my entertainment.  I was always on the hunt for the best recipes.  The best scone, the best blueberry muffin, the best chocolate chip cookie, the best brownie, the best roast chicken, the best Spanish rice, and the list goes on.  You name it, and I have probably tried it.  Many of these recipes have been complicated, and some have been easy.  Some have been disasters; some have been gems.

Now, in my forties (gasp!), I have finally gotten smart (or lazy, I am just not sure).  I have narrowed down my collection of “go-to” recipes.  Now, not only do they have to be the best, they have to be easy.  These are the recipes I return to again and again.  These are the recipes I want to share.

Here is one of the easiest desserts in the world:  ice cream pie!  And, it is sooo good.

Butter Pecan Ice Cream Pie with Caramel Topping  adapted from Bon Appetit

Ingredients

  • Prepared graham cracker crust
  • 1.5 quarts butter pecan ice cream, slightly softened
  • 1/4 cup pecans, toasted
  • Purchased caramel ice cream topping

Directions

Spoon ice cream into crust, packing firmly and mounding in center. Freeze pie until ice cream is firm, about 1 hour.

Drizzle some caramel topping over pie. Sprinkle with reserved chopped nuts. Serve pie immediately or cover and freeze up to 2 days.

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And now, if you would like to get really decadent, you can make homemade (and easy!) caramel sauce!

Easy Caramel Sauce   from the Pioneer Woman

Ingredients

  • 1 packed cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions

Mix the brown sugar, half-and-half, butter and salt in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook while whisking gently for 5 to 7 minutes, until it gets thicker. Add the vanilla and cook another minute to thicken further. Turn off the heat, cool slightly and pour the sauce into a jar. Refrigerate until cold.

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