Chile Verde

WP_20140928_19_29_42_Pro Last night I made a version of my chili verde, I say version because how I make it really depends on what I have on hand.  Last night I didn’t use any tomatillos, which I know is customary, but hey, that’s how I roll.  Rather, I used some of the Hatch chiles I had in the freezer, and it worked great.  This is one of those recipes I change up quite often and every time it works.

For the Recipe:

Canola oil for browning the pork, about 2 tbsp.

1 pork picnic roast, bone in (mine was about 5 lbs, which was the average size at the store), cut into chunks (save the bone)

salt and pepper for seasoning the pork

4 c. chicken stock (some will be used to make the “green chile sauce” in the blender

1 bunch cilantro, trim the ends of the stalk (cut just enough to get rid of the bad parts, you want the stalks) and reserve 1/4 of the bunch for serving

6 hatch chiles, roasted and peeled (you could easily sub another chile of your choice)

6 garlic cloves

2 tbsp. coriander powder

1 1/2 tbsp. cumin powder

2 onion, one chopped the other quartered (this will go into a blender so if you need to cut smaller to accommodate do so)

1 red pepper, quartered

2 tsp. dried thyme

1 tsp. dried oregano 2 tsp. smoked paprika

1 tbsp. garlic powder (not garlic salt)

salt and pepper to taste

Monterey cheese, grated, optional

green onions, optional avocado, optional

In a large fry pan heat oil to brown the meat (if you do not have a pan big enough for all of it at once do this in batches).  Once the oil has heated add the pork and brown on all sides.  While you are browning the meat, if you are a multi-tasker, you can make the green chile part… in a blender add the cilantro (minus the 1/4 for serving), Hatch chiles, garlic, coriander powder, cumin powder, the quartered onion, red pepper, thyme, oregano, paprika, and enough chicken stock to get your blender to mix this all together (I used about a cup).  Blend until everything is nicely pureed, of course you can leave it a little more chunky if you so choose.  Set this aside while you finish browning your meat.  Once the meat has all been browned add the chicken stock to the pan to deglaze and get all the brown goodness off the bottom of the pan.  Next turn the heat down to medium, add the bone from the roast and about half of your green chile mixture, I don’t add it all at once so I can control the heat level of the end product.  Depending on which chiles you use will make the heat level vary (be sure to do a little taste test so you know).  My Hatch chiles were nice and spicy so mine had a good kick to it.  Add the garlic powder and let cook for about 20 minutes then give it a taste.  This is when you want to add in the rest (or part, depending on taste) of your green chile mix as well as salt and pepper and any of the other spices you might want more of, to taste.  Let cook for another  1 1/2 hours so it cooks down and the meat gets a nice green chile taste. WP_20140928_19_47_33_Pro I served this on a tortilla, topped with Monterey cheese, cilantro, green onion and avocado.

Homemade Beef Stock

You know when you read a recipe and it calls for some type of stock and it says to use homemade if possible, well there’s a reason for that.  Homemade is without a doubt so much better than even the best store bought stocks.  They of course will work in a pinch, I’ve used them myself, however, I do predominantly use homemade.  It’s very little work for a lot of return, which to me is a good thing.  Basically, you throw some bones, meat, vegetables, herbs and spices in a big pot with some water and cook if for a long time.  That’s it…  Well, I guess I should also add that sometimes I do like to roast the bones first and then simmer them, it will add a richer flavor, but if you choose not to do this you will still get some amazing stock.  I will even use the carcass of a rotisserie chicken I’ve bought at Costco.

Today both twinadoes are coming down with colds and are really in no mood to do a lot of running around so it’s a stay at home kind of day.  This morning I went out and bought some beef bones to make some stock, I might as well be productive while I’m laying around with the sickos.  Later I will do some pork stock for my ramen noodle soup, that recipe will come a little later…

I use a 20 quart stock pot so you might need to adjust the amounts to suit the size of pot you are using.

For the Recipe:

8 lbs. beef bones (I use both the marrow bones as well as the knuckles.

3 onions, quartered

5 carrots, cut into thirds

5 celery stalks, cut into thirds

1/2 bunch of parsley

10 garlic cloves

4 bay leaves

1 1/2 tbsp. peppercorns

2 sprigs of thyme (or a couple teaspoons dried)

2 tsp. coriander seeds

2 tsp. fennel seeds

2 tsp. mustard seeds

1 tsp. cumin seeds

1 tbsp. salt

enough water to cover all the ingredients

Heat oven 400 degrees F.

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In a roasting pan place half of the bones, season with salt and pepper, half of the carrots, half of the onions, and half of the garlic.  Roast for 60 minutes.

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In a large stock pot place the remaining ingredients and cover with water and cook over low.

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Once the bones have roasted for an hour add everything to the stock pot then deglaze the pan with water (you could also use red wine if you wanted) and add that to the stock pot.  Bring to a slow boil and cook for 4 hours.

When the stock is done strain and discard all the solids.  Skim off any of the froth and de-fat.  If you are not using it right away you can freeze if for a few months to use at a later date.

Enjoy!!

 

 

Spicy Beef and Radish Soup

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Today was such a fall day, windy, wet with just a little peek of sun.  Perfect soup weather in my opinion, and since I’m the one that was thinking up dinner that’s what we had.  I’ve had spicy beef soup at restaurants before, and I love it.  Sometimes you get a restaurant that is a little heavy on the spicy part, which my hubs loves, but I’m a little bit more of a wimp.  So to solve this at home I made some chili oil that would add extra heat for those that wanted it but still being able to keep the pot of soup at a decent level for the rest of us.

This version is a bit quicker than the way most restaurants do it, but I really didn’t have the time to make the homemade beef stock from scratch nor did I have the chili paste on hand.  Even with those omissions all the flavors from the spices really make this a delicious soup.  Next time I’ll get some marrow bones to make a more intense broth.  Also, I should note that I added the shitake mushrooms and kombu to add to the flavor of the store bought broth, if you make your own you could omit those.

For the Recipe:

4 c. beef stock, if you have homemade definitely use it

3 c. water

4 inch piece of ginger sliced

10 garlic cloves (if you are not a huge fan of garlic you can reduce)

3 star anise

1 tbsp. Sichuan peppercorns

1 tbsp. white peppercorns (you can substitute black)

1 tbsp. red pepper powder (more if you want it to be spicier)

2 cinnamon sticks (do not substitute powdered cinnamon)

2 tsp. fennel seeds

2 onions, quartered

3 bay leaves

5 inch piece of kombu (dried kelp)

8 dried shitake mushrooms

2 lbs chuck roast, or brisket, or flank steak, cut into bite size chunks

4 baby bok choy (or any other Asian green you like)

2 1/2 cups Korean radish or daikon, cut into chunks

8 oz. noodles, you can use bean thread, Japanese ramen style (my favorite) or any other noodle of choice, cooked according to package

For Garnish:

cilantro, chopped

green onions/scallions, chopped

bean sprouts (I’m the only one that likes these in the soup at my house)

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In a pot large enough to hold on the ingredients heat up the broth, water, ginger, garlic, star anise, both peppercorns, red pepper powder, cinnamon sticks, fennel seeds, onions bay leaves, kombu, and mushrooms.  Simmer all ingredients for one hour.  Strain out the liquid, discard all solids, and put back on the stove.  Add the meat and simmer (not boil) another 1 1/2 hours, until the meat is nice and tender.  While the meat is cooking you can cut up your vegetables, also check the cooking instructions on your choice of noodles so you can make sure they are done when the soup is for quick serving.  About 10 minutes before the meat is done add the radish, depending on how large you cut the chunks will depend on cooking time, usually about 10-12 minutes (but they are quite forgiving if you go a little over…).  The bok choy will only take a few minutes, I like to put the stalks in first and the green tops a few minutes later.  Place some noodles in a bowl, add a good amount of the meat and vegetables then ladle broth over the top.  Finish off with the garnish.  Enjoy!!

 

Rhode Island, The Second Time….

Last year it was a miracle I even made it to Rhode Island.  I had forgotten my ID at home and was let on (barely) the plane using only my bankcard with picture.  This year I brought two ID’s just to be sure.  This year I was ready, had everything in order and was pretty confident I was going to a great flight without any issues.  Besides, this time it wasn’t just me I was bringing Thing 2 as well.

My hubs and Thing 1 took me to the airport, walked me to security and stayed until I got on the other side.  Later I told Sip’n Dip that I don’t think anyone was 100% confident that I would make it to Rhode Island, maybe only 85-90%.  And with good cause….

After I made it through security I texted my hubs and said we were good, I was through.  So off he went and Thing 2 and I trudged forward on our adventure.  But wait, who’s that man yelling my name running after me?  Seriously?  I got through, no alarms, no pulling me aside, nothing, I was good!!!  So I stopped, really didn’t want to get tasered and hot tied in front of the kid, to see what he wanted.  Apparently I had forgotten my boarding passes and ID in one of the security buckets.  Are. You. Kidding. Me.  Oh no, not kidding.  Part of me was going to keep this little bit to myself, but no, I texted my hubs as well as posted it to my personal Facebook.  I’m honest like that.

Thankfully, the rest of the way was pretty uneventful, pleasant in fact.  I was so excited to see Sip’n Dip and to get out of the airport.  So off we went to grab my bags.  I said “keep your eye out for two black bags”.  First bag, got it, second bag, well….  So we are standing there watching the same bags go around the carousel, and none of them mine.  Finally the carousel stops and they announce that all bags from my flight have been unloaded and that if you did not get your bag to go see the customer service desk.  There are a few bags still sitting there that Sip’n Dip tells me to make sure aren’t mine.  I told her none of them were black but go look just to amuse her.  But wait, there is this gray bag that has been going around and around that now I’m right on looks strangely familiar.  Why does it look familiar?  Because it’s mine!!!  I totally forgot I had taken one black and one gray.  The eye roll I received from Sip’n Dip was hilarious.  She looks at me and says, in her very strong accent, “we couldah been outta heaya twenty minutes ahgo”.  I burst into laughter, grabbed my bag and tried to keep some composure as I walked out of the airport.

And that my friends is why nobody will ever bet the farm that I will 100% make it to my destination when I take an airplane.

Traveling With Half of the Twinado

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This week Thing 2 and I have been in Rhode Island visiting Sip’n Dip and her family. This was the first time taking Thing 2 on a plane, her brother did not accompany us on this adventure because I knew that was asking for trouble, Thing 1 on a plane for 6 hours….  I was fairly confidant that Thing 2 would be able to handle the hours of sitting in a seat with nothing else but her Kindle, tablet, headphones, paper and crayons, and of course tons of snacks.

My little lovey listens fairly well, but when you are in an airport trying to get through security lines, keep all your stuff together and do it as quickly as possible to avoid any meltdowns you have to plan ahead.  For one, I only brought the essentials, no huge carry on that I would need to stuff in an already packed overhead storage bin then again get down (those bins are not meant for us shorties).  Rather, I brought a large purse that fit everything wonderfully.  An extra plastic bag was added after Thing 2 saw that big row of candy in the little store right next to our gate, but that wasn’t a biggie.  More importantly was the peace and ease all the little extras made possible.

The other key to the success of the flights, getting her settled and comfortable as quickly as possible.  Once on the plane and at our row I put all our stuff on my seat, got her buckled in and adjusted, then I was able to get myself buckled and ready for our little journey.  I knew too much jostling and moving of my little potential tantrum thrower was not a good thing, so all this had been thought out ahead of time.  I had already endured the “oh crap, please don’t let them be sitting next to me” looks and I was throwing back my “screw you, I am going to show you!!”  And I did.

I’ve seen those flustered parents dragging the kid along, both with the looks of “this sucks” written all over their faces.  I on the other hand proudly walked through the airport with my little flyer giddy and high on sugar.  I’m confident she can do it again, that this wasn’t just a fluke, but I will again plan ahead and be ready.  On the flight back home Thing 2 had picked out a little dinosaur backpack that was the perfect size for her to carry her own snacks.  This will be used again.

We had a short layover, which at first made me a tad nervous.  How would Thing 2 handle getting off one plane and pretty much jumping immediately onto another.  Thankfully, our plane was a few minutes early so we had time to use the restroom (the thought of having to take her into the restroom on the plane did not appeal to me), attempt to get a snack

WP_20140917_13_18_58_Pro  as well as have a little fun on the moving walkway.  I say attempt because mom of the year here dropped her little hot dog as I was handing it to her.  And considering it took them 15 minutes to make that one I knew we didn’t have time to order another $14 hotdog.  Solution?  More candy of course… Yes, that mom of the year crown I wear shines so bright it’s could blind you.  Later Sip’n Dip who had been following my Facebook updates said she was freaking out that I was stopping for a little lunch, she thought for sure I would miss the plane.  Granted we were one of the last ones on, but we certainly didn’t miss our flight.

So overall this was a successful first flight for my little mini me.  Am I as confident of such success flying with Thing 1?  No.  Plain. and. Simple.  His maiden flight will not be to the other side of the country, maybe to the next state.

 

Scallops in Miso Broth with Soba Noodles

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Last night I wanted something a little lighter for dinner since we’ve had some heavy meals as of late and I also wanted something easy.  The store had some nice scallops on sale and that inspired me to make scallops in a miso broth.  This could easily be served with rice, but I didn’t feel like waiting for the rice to be finished and soba noodles take all of about 4 minutes, so the choice was easy.  Plus, my daughter was asking for noodles, win/win in my opinion.

You could easily substitute shrimp for the scallops if you wanted.  Also, the vegetables could be changed as well.  I love dishes like this that you can customize to fit your tastes and what you have on hand.

For the Recipe:

3 c. chicken stock (preferably homemade)

4 tbsp. white miso paste

2″ nub of ginger, julienned, to really give it a ginger punch save about 1/4 to add right at the end (if this is too much ginger you can definitely reduce)

1 lb. sea scallops

1 carrot, sliced thin

3 baby bok choi bunches, sliced

1/4 cabbage head, sliced thin

4 green onions, cut into 1/2″ pieces

8 oz package of soba noodles (you could also use bean thread), cooked according to package directions

Start the water for the soba noodles.  You can cook these while you make the scallops.  In a saucepan large enough to hold all ingredients add the chicken stock, ginger (minus what you save for the end if you choose), and miso paste.  Stir well and bring to a simmer.  Add the scallops and carrots, cook for about 4 minutes covered.  Next add the bok choi and cabbage and cook an additional 2 minutes.

To serve, I put some noodles in a bowl, place some scallops and vegetables on top then add broth.

Enjoy!!

When The Backyard Just Isn’t Enough

When I was a kid my backyard was my playground.  Yes, we would venture out to areas close by to visit with friends and explore but we weren’t always going to every park, play center, splash pad, etc… in a fifty mile radius of my home.  Today, it is so much different.  Being part of a few mom groups I’ve quickly come to realize there’s this belief that if you are not out visiting all of the above mentioned (plus a few more I haven’t) everyday, if not a few in one day, then you are denying your children a good life.  One of the groups I’m in, but no longer really participate, had this feeling of competition regarding the kids’ activities.  I would listen to them say “oh well he’s in this, that, and that, and that…etc…”.  Then the other moms would respond with their list, hoping to one up the other.  I was always amazed. Don’t get me wrong, I love for my kids to get out of the house and experience parks, zoos, their favorite “jump jump” place, but I also don’t think I need to have them off and running as soon as they get up to go from place to place to keep them entertained.  Now that we are in an apartment I do need to get out of here more often out of necessity.  There’s no backyard for them to play.  Thankfully, there is a nice grassy area that is a great substitute for a backyard that they use to kick their soccer ball and just run around.  I like for them to use their imagination and have to work a little, so to speak, for their fun.  Building things out of rocks, playing in the dirt and mud, making forts in the middle of a bunch of bushes and plants, to me that is as important as taking them to the endless entertainment centers. WP_20140910_10_23_21_Pro Yesterday I took the kids to a new “jump jump” place and they had a blast.  What’s not to love, a bunch of trampolines you get to go completely crazy and run with a pack of same age kids.  It’s nice for me when there’s another mom that is fun to chat with while the kids play, and thankfully that was the case yesterday.  But that’s not always the case.  I’ve said before that I’m not a competitive mom and really don’t get along with that type.  I don’t want to feel like I have to get approval from a bunch of women by showing my exceptional parenting skills, which I have I just don’t feel the need to advertise (yes that was meant as a joke).

When we get a backyard again my kids will spend time playing there.  That’s not to say we will stop going to all the fun places, but they won’t be the necessity and I won’t be trying to cram in as many places in one day that is humanly possible.  There will be a happy balance, kids will be happy and mama will be happy.  My kids will appreciate the fun extras rather than expect them.