Tag Archive for onions

New nacho strategy

I like nachos and cheese fries as much as the next guy, but I’ve never liked the clean-up part.  The other day I had the idea to heat up my chips in the toaster oven on parchment paper, transfer that to a plate, and then just throw the paper away when I’m done.  This eliminated:

  • Messy toaster oven pan
  • Metallic taste at times from aforementioned pan
  • Messy plate

I also gained toasted chips instead of room-temp chips or the slightly soggy chips from microwaving.  You could do the same in a conventional oven, but toaster ovens work more quickly.  The paper also allows you to pick up the entire “nacho” without scraping/scooping them out/off and effectively ruining your initial topping distribution.

As far as toppings go, I say the sky is the limit.  I try not to get too hung up on meat vs meatless, but I do hang my hat on a classy plate of nachos containing both melted, gooey cheese and shredded cheese.  Here are a few pictures of the latest nacho forays.  Ingredients include:

  • Chips
  • Pinto beans
  • Ground beef
  • Homemade nacho cheese
  • Shredded sharp cheddar
  • Diced onions
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Sour cream
  • Cilantro
  • Dried hatch
  • Dried habanero
  • Black olives

1404989_721802646343_1066075273_o1399143_724083740013_1390000_o1403624_724083745003_1752473359_o1397519_724083809873_1000880800_o1399002_724083834823_1894713346_o

Triple Decker Tomato-Onion-Grilled Cheese

A triple decker sandwich is generally defined as a sandwich containing three slices, or decks, of bread.  Some would argue a three-slice sandwich is only double-decked, but that’s just like their opinion, man.  This type of sandwich is always a good option when you want to have extra ingredients on the inside but are worried about the sandwich being too thick or flimsy for flipping.  This method reduces the amount of toppings in between the bread slices while maximizing the surface area for cheese to bond the bread and toppings together.

Ingredients:

  • Three slices whole wheat bread
  • Unsalted butter
  • Colby Jack cheese
  • American cheese
  • Sliced onion
  • Sliced tomato

Preparation:

Prepare your ingredients, slice your cheese and butter your bread.  One on my slices had a hole in the middle already so that automatically became my middle slice.  I like to preheat my pan to help the cooking process.  I also put my Colby Jack on the bottom half because I’m going to cook the bottom section longer than the top and this cheese will take longer to melt than the American.

IngredientsLayer 1Layer 2Cooking

The Flip:

Getting this kind of sandwich flipped over, or any grilled cheese for that matter, can be a bit tricky.  You need to turn it over quickly with spilling the sandwich’s contents as well as make sure your bread layers don’t become misaligned creating a leaning tower of cheesy bread.  Here are a few tips.

  • Pre-heat your pan to decrease total cooking time
  • Make sure your bottom bread layer is “set” and the cheese has melted before flipping
  • Slow-cooking longer is always a better idea than high heat for a quick meal
  • If your sandwich is in danger of falling apart, lift up your sandwich with a spatula, place the pan upside-down on top of your sandwich, and then flip the entire thing over in a controlled manner while holding firmly with pan and spatula

That’s how I easily got to this

imageimage

Now the only thing left to do is cook through your bottom layer and eat.  I often prefer ketchup with mine.  I call it the poor man’s tomato soup.

imageimageimage

P.S. – If you’re looking for a good beverage to pair with this sandwich, I highly suggest some Dr Pepper with fresh lime, or lime juice.

 

Last night’s cheese fries

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb frozen crinkle cut fries
  • Roughly 4 oz shredded colby jack cheese
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • Garlic powder
  • Oregano
  • Black pepper
  • Yellow mustard
  • Ketchup

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425 and spread out fries on a cookie sheet/pan.
  2. After oven is heated cook fries for 10min.
  3. Add onions to top of fries and cook for an additional 12min.
  4. Add shredded cheese to top of fries and cook for an additional 3min.
  5. Remove fries from oven.  Add garlic, pepper and oregano to taste.
  6. Top with mustard and ketchup.

Usually I’d post a picture, but I was just way too hungry to stop and smell the flower.  How do you like to make your cheese fries?  What sauces or seasonings do you prefer?

Farfalle with kale

Yesterday I decided to use up some of our fresh produce from the farm stand and settled on a pasta dish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 box farfalle white wheat (extra fiber) pasta
  • About 3lbs of fresh kale
  • 2 large broccoli stalks
  • 1 cup fresh peas
  • 1 large onion diced
  • About 10 cloves garlic (use your judgement here)
  • About 3-4T olive oil
  • Two jars of sauce
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Oregano
  • Basil

Directions:

  1. In my large, wok-like frying pan I put the olive oil, onion and garlic into the pan with some salt, pepper, oregano and basil on medium heat.  While that started cooking, I roughly chopped my kale and added that to the wok, covered and started sweating down those leaves.  I then started prepping the broccoli, added that to the wok, and shelled my peas, occasionally stirring up my vegetables.
  2. After the kale had reduced down to something manageable I dropped the heat to low, added two jars of sauce, some more oregano and basil to taste, the peas and covered.  I started my pasta water boiling at this point and let the sauce-veggie mixture warm together as I cooked the pasta.
  3. Once the pasta had cooked about 11 min, according to the box instructions, I drained and immediately mixed in with pasta.  I served this on plates with some grated parmesan and whole wheat garlic bread on the side.

Hot sauce

I like spicy food.  My wife thinks I’ve burned the heat receptors off my tongue because I have no reasonable gauge for how spicy things are.  A few years ago my buddy Bill sent me a recipe for basic hot sauce and since then I’ve altered it a bit.

Jalapeño Hot Sauce Recipe

  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 20 fresh jalapeño chiles, sliced
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup onion, minced

Directions

  1. In a medium glass or enamel lined sauce pan over high heat, combine oil, peppers, garlic, onion and salt; saute for 4 minutes. Add the water and cook for 20 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool to room temperature.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a food processor and puree until smooth. With the processor running, slowly add the vinegar.
  3. Pour into a sterilized jar with a tight lid. This sauce will keep for 6 months when stored in the refrigerator.

Recipe Source – http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Jalapeno-Hot-Sauce/Detail.aspx

Here’s what I made the other day…

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 6 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 25 habaneros, sliced
  • 10 serranos, sliced
  • 5 “spicy red chiles” (I think they were Fresnos)
  • Oregano (maybe 4T or 5T)
  • Cumin (about 3T)
  • 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
  • 3 cups water

Directions:

  1. Combine the oil, salt, garlic, onions and chiles in a saucepan.  Add oregano and cumin for taste. Sauté the chiles for 5min or so to soften up.
  2. Add the water and bring to a boil, then simmer for 20min.
  3. After the mixture cools, pour into a blender and liquefy.  Slowly add the vinegar while blending.
  4. Soak a tortilla chip and give it a whirl.

Like I said before, I’m not the guy to ask if something is hot or not.  This sauce leaves my mouth tingling for a good eight minutes, but has some great flavor.  When I’ve made this in the past, it tends to get hotter the longer it sits.  I’m sure Alton Brown knows the chemical reasons behind it.  If this cocktail of hotness is too much, feel free to substitute any other chiles.  My main goal in a hot sauce is to have something that tastes good.  If your hot sauce tastes awful, it’ll ruin your food and that’s not good eats.

Great guacamole recipe

With avocados back in season I’ve been making guacamole often.  I used to wonder why people I know went Coo-Coo-for-Cocoa-Puffs over the stuff, but now that I’m making my own it totally makes sense.  With food like this I always find a decent recipe as a base and then eventually branch out a little on my own.  And when it comes to recipes, you can rarely go wrong with the Food Network legend Alton Brown.

AltonBrown_bowling

Alton Brown – yes, he’s bowling with a cabbage!

A college buddy of mine turned me onto Good Eats, which still hasn’t been widely released on DVD, around 2003 or 2004.  Up until that point my opinion of the Food Network was not good.  Most of the stuff I had seen seemed quite boring and the food was so complicated – stuff I never saw myself actually trying to prepare.  Alton Brown changed all of that for me.

Guacamole

Ingredients:

  • 3 Haas avocados, halved, seeded and peeled
  • 1 lime, juiced (about 2T if you buy lime juice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (sea salt works)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1T chopped cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

Directions:

In a large bowl place the scooped avocado pulp and lime juice, toss to coat. Drain, and reserve the lime juice, after all of the avocados have been coated. Using a potato masher add the salt, cumin, and cayenne and mash. Then, fold in the onions, jalapeno, tomatoes, cilantro, and garlic. Add 1 tablespoon of the reserved lime juice. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour and then serve.

Recipe source – http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/guacamole-recipe/index.html

Like I said before, I always start with something reputable and go from there.  I don’t often have jalapenos around so I just added some more cayenne for kick.  The last batch I made had slightly more than double cumin, cayenne, cilantro and garlic.  I love onions so I put about double or more in there.  Once I had no lime juice and substituted lemon juice without any noticeable taste difference.  I’ve used different types of tomatoes and they all taste good.  Roma are smaller and easier to create smaller pieces if that matters – I always leave the seeds in there.  I’ve also eaten immediately instead of waiting an hour.  Letting it sit definitely helps all the flavors to seep together, but it still tastes great.

Spicy Breakfast Sandwich

Spicy Breakfast Sandwich

Scrambled eggs with cayenne and chopped onions added as filling to a grilled cheese sandwich

 

 

 

Ingredients:

  • Two slices of whole wheat bread
  • Four slices of Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar
  • Two eggs
  • Chopped onions (optional)
  • Cayenne pepper (optional
  • Unsalted butter

Directions:

  1. Scramble your eggs to taste
    1. I sauteed some onions and added the cayenne to spice things up

      Spicy Breakfast Sandwich 1

      Rough scramble – I dropped the eggs into the hot pan with the sauteed onions and while they’re frying I mixed them up with a wooden spoon

  2. Butter your bread and slice your cheese
  3. You can use the same pan for the eggs and cheese, you’ll just need to temporarily move the finished eggs to a plate/bowl while you build your sandwich
  4. Place one piece of buttered toast in the pan with the cheeseSpicy Breakfast Sandwich 2
  5. Add the scrambled eggs on top of the cheese
    1. TIP: Sometimes you need cheese on both sides of the “sandwich” to help keep the insides together.  I didn’t do that with this sandwich  but I took extra care when flipping the sandwich to keep everything together.
    2. I also added some extra cayenne on top (optional)

      Spicy Breakfast Sandwich 3

      Ok, I realize this may look like an insane amount of cayenne. Feel free to substitute any “spice” you prefer. Even black pepper would work well here.

  6. Cover with the other slice of bread and cook on medium heat until the bottom bread is firm and golden brown, and then flip to cook the other sideSpicy Breakfast Sandwich 6

Steak-Vegetable soup

As it gets closer to moving time I’ve been trying to find ways to use up things in the freezer.  A while back Liz and I were taking advantage of Angel Food Ministries in our area to get some cheap eats.  During one of these purchases we received four steaks.  I put two of them in the fridge and last night decided to make a soup.

Making soup may sound hard, but many of them start out the same way – heat up some oil and start cooking your onions, garlic and other “tough” ingredients.  Then you just throw some stuff in and let it cook down.  Right before I started cooking I had the idea to include the meat.  Here’s how it all went down…

Step 1: I put a medium-large pot on the stove and large pan on the stove.  I put some olive oil into both.  Next I chopped up 1/2 of a large onion dumping that and garlic into the pot.  I also added some salt, pepper, and oregano.

Step 2: I grabbed the thawed steaks from the fridge, salted and peppered them, and put them in the pan to cook.

Step 3: I chopped up 4 stalks of celery, then I peeled and chopped a large russet potato.  I added these and some water to the pot.

Step 4: I put some savory seasoning on to both sides of the steaks and made sure they were cooking well.  When they got to be about medium, I took them out, cubed them, and put em back into the pan.

Step 5: I added green beans, broccoli, corn, and lima beans to the pot.

Step 6: Some people like to do red wine reductions on things.  I’m not that big into wine so I went with option b – worcestershire sauce.  I put a good amount into the pan with the meat, lowered the heat and scraped all that “flavor” off the bottom of the pan.

Step 7: I stirred up the pot making sure everything was mixed well, then added the meat and sauce.

Step 8: I let everything cook down in my soup for about 25 min.

Step 9: I cubed up about 8oz of velveeta and dropped it into the pot, then replaced the lid for another 15 min or so.

Step 10: Eat it.  I added some ketchup to my bowl to give the soup a slight hint of tomato taste.  It turned out pretty well.

Spicy Mac n Cheese

Last night I was craving some nachos so I cut up some lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and olives, browned hamburger, and made some nacho cheese.  Now the term “nacho cheese” can mean many things.  Some people just love that nasty, thick yellow stuff that comes in a can.  It has its place, but it’s not that good in the grand scheme of things.  Some people like it spicy, others mild.  The one thing to remember is no matter what your opinion is of processed cheese, it certainly melts well and is consistent.

I don’t have exact recipes for many things I regularly prepare.  I say this because I don’t really have measurements for some things.  I just add a little until it looks or tastes right.  Here’s what I did for my nacho cheese last night.

  • 1 box Velveeta
  • 2 cans Rotel
  • dried, minced garlic
  • ground coriander
  • chili powder
  • dried ground habanero
  • dried ground hatch
  • dried ground cayenne
  • oregano
  • crushed red peppers
  • Phoenix Death Sauce

This makes a pretty decent pot of cheese.  If you leave the water in with the rotel, it thins the cheese out a bit and it doesn’t congeal into a block of “velveeta” again after it has cooled.  The “death sauce” added a little liquid as well.  Whenever  I have left over cheese I often combine it with something else.  This afternoon I added it to some mac n cheese.  Here’s what I threw together today.

  • 1 double-box of Kraft Mac n cheese
  • 3 tsp butter
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • @ 1 cup nacho cheese (I’m guesstimating here)
  • 1 can tuna packed in water
  • small handful of chopped onions.

It turned out pretty well.  Just enough spice for me.  What do you do with your left overs?  One of the first ways I started experimenting with food was to modify mac n cheese and hamburger helper meals.

Burrito: Back to the basics

A long time ago and in a land far away, I started cooking things for myself.  It started off with scrambled eggs when I was 4 or 5 and just kind off took of from there.  Eventually I started making burritos.  Before I started cooking my own mega batches of pinto beans, I used to use beans from a can but eventually quit using them almost altogether.  Liz doesn’t understand why I’ve loathed them so much.  It’s just hard to eat them after you’ve made the same thing yourself.

As I’m trying to get back on my feet, I decided I wanted a burrito.  So here’s a simple burrito recipe if you want to try something new.

Ingredients:

  • Two cans refried beans. (You can substitute pintos, black, etc)
  • 1lb ground hamburger
  • 6-8 flour tortillas (burrito size)
    Optional:
  • 1 onion
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic
  • Oregano
  • Cumin or Coriander
  • Cheese (cheddar or monterrey jack work well)
  • Sliced black olives
  • Tomatoes

Prepare the meat:
The first thing you want to do is brown your hamburger.  I like to add onions to almost everything.  Fresh are best, but the dried kind work too.  I chopped up my medium onion and got it cooking in a pan with a pad of butter while I defrosted my hamburger in the microwave.  Once my onions had softened up I put in the hamburger and added a little salt, pepper, dried minced garlic, oregano and ground coriander.  All these spices are optional.  I’d be careful of them (with the exception of salt and pepper) until you know what you’re doing and how much you like.  There’s not much worse than a seriously over spiced dish.  From here you just cook your hamburger down like you’d normally do.  Break it up into small chunks so you can divide and conquer, and make sure there are no pink parts left.  After this is done drain or spoon out the grease.

Mix the burrito ingredients together:
Now you’ll add your beans and your meat together.  You can combine them in a separate pan if you like, or add the beans to your meat.  Just make sure your pan is big enough.  One thing to be careful of is stirring this mixture together.  At first it’ll be a bit like water and oil.  If you’re not careful, you’ll be sloshing beans and meat all over your stove.  Just take it easy and be patient.  You’ll have a nice mixture in a few minutes.  After everything is mixed, let this simmer for 10 minutes or so.  You can put a lid on it if you want, just don’t turn the heat up too high and walk away or it’ll start bubbling and splattering.

Click to see more

Building your burritos:
Once you get your tortillas out of the fridge the first thing you need to do is warm them up a little.  This is a very important step because cold tortillas will tear.  If you’ve ever gone to a burrito place, they usually steam/warm their tortillas in some sort of way.  I like to put mine in the microwave for 30-45 seconds.  Now take one tortilla and place it in one hand.  With the other hand fill the tortillas about 1/3 with your meat/bean mixture.  Now it’s time to fold.  You’ll put the bottom half up a little, then wrap the left and right sides around.  Some like to fold all four side in to seal the burrito.  I think this is slightly more advanced because it’s almost too easy to over-fill your burrito.  If you just do three sides, any extra can just ooze out the end.  Check out the two graphics I pulled off the web to illustrate.  If you click them, you’ll see more images and instructions.  The one above is for the three-side fold I described.  The one below shows you how to do a four-side fold.

Click to see more

As you’re folding your burritos, you can put them on a cookie sheet to pop into the oven at 350F for about 15-20min.  You’re mainly looking to melt the cheese and crisp up the tortillas a bit.  If you don’t want to eat them now I’d suggest wrapping them in foil or plastic wrap, or put them in a sealing container for later.

You probably noticed I added a slice of cheddar to mine.  You can really use any kind of cheese you want.  Monterrey jack is pretty close to some of the mexican cheeses you might see in ingredient lists.  Feel free to add whatever you want.  That’s the beauty of a burrito.

So there are my burritos.  I added some olives and tomatoes.  What do you like on yours?  Would you use a different filling?  Chicken?  Steak?  Vegetarian?