Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thankful ... Roasted Poblanos Stuffed with Pork Chili Verde

I am thankful.
Dinner. Come to mama.
I am thankful to have a loving and wonderful family. Mom. Dad & Margie-Mom. Amy, Randy & little Ruby. Alexis, Lyn & baby boy on the way.

I am thankful for the abundance of amazing friends in my life. The ones who make me laugh until I pee my pants, who pour me another glass of wine when I've probably already had one too many, who give me a hug when they know I need one, who let me find my own way along this road. Thank you for being a part of my life and my journey. I love you.

I am thankful to be spending Thanksgiving week in Colorado with my sister-friends and their family. My goal was to relax ... to really really relax.  It has been a busy semester working full time and taking 3 classes, while trying to maintain some sort of exercise routine, seeing family and friends, and find a moment now and then to breathe ... and to be.

When in Colorado, we eat, we shop and we drink. And we repeat.  This time, I brought my apron because we planned to cook, bake, eat and drink. Eat. And drink.

Roasted Poblanos Stuffed with Pork Chili Verde
Fixin' for corn casserole and poblanos stuffed with deliciousness.
1 Tablespoon of canola oil
3 lbs. of pork shoulder or butt
1 medium brown onion
5 cloves of garlic
16 ozs tomatillo salsa
3 Tablespoons of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 Tablespoon of cumin
1 Tablespoon of coriander
3 cups low sodium, gluten free chicken broth
15.5 ozs of pinto beans
Juice of 1 lime
Salt & pepper

6 poblano peppers
1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
3 Tablespoons of chopped cilantro
2 Tablespoons of chopped red onion
1 Tablespoon of chopped jalapeno
1/2 avocado diced
Sour cream

1. To prepare the chili, trim any excess fat from the pork and cut into 2 inch cubes, sprinkle with salt and pepper, chop onion and garlic and set aside. Heat oil in a dutch oven and brown the meat on all sides, then remove from pan and drain oil.  Add onion and garlic and cook until softened.
2. In a large Pyrex measuring cup, mix together tomatillo salsa, chopped chipotle peppers, chicken broth, cumin and coriander and add to dutch oven, stir and add back in pork.
3. Heat oven to 300°.  Bring chili mixture to a boil on the stovetop and then transfer the oven.
4. Cook chili in oven for 2 - 2 1/2 hours, remove from oven then increase oven temperature to 350°.
5. Meanwhile, prepare poblano peppers to roast and chop the toppings.
6. If you are fortunate enough to have a second oven, then turn it to broil and place peppers on a large baking sheet and put in oven, brown peppers on all sides.  When all sides are brown, remove from the oven and put in a plastic bag to steam - this will make it easier to peel the skin. Leave peppers in the bag until they are cool enough to handle.  Remove from bag and peel skins, make an incision from the top to the bottom, remove the stem, ribs and seeds and lie flat.
7.  When pork is done, remove from oven and let cool for 10-15 minutes, then using two forks shred meat. Add shredded meat back to dutch oven, add pinto beans and the juice of one lime.  Reheat over medium heat for 10 minutes.
8. Put a hearty 1/2 cup of chili in the middle of the poblano pepper, sprinkle with cheese and use a toothpick to close the pepper. 
9. Place stuffed peppers in a baking dish and heat in the oven for 15 minutes or the cheese bubbles, melts and browns a little.
10. Plate up a pepper, top with some creamy things, and dish up some corn casserole. Enjoy!

My sister-friend Tane and me.  XO

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Love Me Some Frittata & Slab City

#7. Write more.

Number 7 on my New Year's resolution list is to write more.  This past spring, I wrote.  I wrote very passionately about my food philosophy and metabolism for Human Physiology class, and I wrote about personality, emotion, social issues and a variety of other topics for Psychology class. However, I have not written one thing for this blog since January.

Time flies.

The semester is over, and for the first time in 5 years, I am not teaching an exercise class, I am not taking an academic class, nor do I have a second job, therefore I have time to write and more importantly to play ...

I love a good road trip, so when asked if I wanted to check out Slab City, the infamous off-the-grid-spot, naturally I said YES!
Salvation Mountain
Salvation Mountain is the first stop along the road to Slab City and is Leonard Knight's tribute to love is everywhere.  While walking through Salvation Mountain, we met a man who works in nearby Niland and he shared with us the highlights of "The Slabs" - the gardens of East Jesus, weekend concerts at The Range amphitheater, and the natural hot springs.  
Entrance to East Jesus' art garden

As we walked through the entrance to the East Jesus art garden, we met Frank, the "curator." He gave us a tour of the garden, sharing the story of how each sculpture was created and how East Jesus operates.  I was impressed and inspired by the powerful messages of the sculptures, but also by the sleek set up of the place.  They had several sleeping quarters for artists in residence and friends - cozy old trailers, partially sunken buses, and converted shipping containers.  Since we didn't have a "reservation," we camped nearby in one of their tent style spots and spent the weekend with the residents and visitors of East Jesus.  EJ runs on solar and wind power and a storage container with a/c and large batteries to store excess power and they have a FULL kitchen.  That is right folks.  If you wanted to bake bread or churn some ice cream you could. EJ also had Wifi.  While I happily left my cell phone off in the car, the residents of EJ were on Facebook getting the news on the happenings of "The Slab." The philosophy of EJ is to contribute to the camp by either tapping into your creativity and make something to display in the garden, or to help improve the living quarters by building more shade structures or planting more vegetables in the food garden, for example.  As we left on Sunday, Frank standing tall at 6'7" leaned way down to give this 4'12" inch girl a hug goodbye.  I held on tight and thanked him as I left Slab City feeling very alive.
Tire Wooly Mammoth
Everyone loves frittatas-eggy, fluffy yumminess and they are super easy to make and versatile.  All you need is a few eggs or liquid eggs or egg whites, some milk, heavy cream, water, any kind of cheese, meat or no meat, assortment of diced vegetables, salt and pepper, and a deep pie dish and you're set. 

I made mini frittatas using a muffin tin to take to Slab City.  These little bite size gems were made with pancetta, garlic, parsley and Parmesan cheese.  Frank, the "curator" and professional chef, said pretty tasty although they could use a little bit more garlic.  

Favorite Everyday Frittata
6 eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack/Guyere cheese from Trader Joe's
1/2 cup diced/chopped Canadian bacon or deli ham
Salt and pepper

1. Using a whisk, beat 6 eggs until yolks are broken and eggs are frothy, then add liquid and whisk again.
2. If you desire, add cheese, meat and diced vegetables, s/p, and whisk again.
3. Pour into a greased deep pie dish and bake in a 350° until browned at the edges and the middle is "set," approximately 20 minutes.
Mini frittatas with egg whites, spinach, garlic, and Parmesan cheese.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Cauliflower Pizza Crust & Sara's Schmortieth Birthday

What you say?  Cauliflower pizza crust?  Umm, yes.  And it is fantastic.  After celebrating Sara's Schmortieth birthday with burgers, beers and tatter tots at the Station Tavern, cupcakes, pizza, and more beer from Basic, I was a wreck.  Too much gluten in one wonderful weekend.

Too much gluten on top of too many other BIG things going on that I had "a" moment. You know, one of those moments where you ask yourself, "Self, what the hell are you doing?"

First and foremost, I realized that I must stop abusing my body.  I must stop eating and drinking (damn that is the hard one because I really like beer) things that have gluten. And secondly, change means growing and facing new challenges. This is all good. It is ok to be scared. Just take one day at a time.

While pursing Pinterest, I came across a recipe for cauliflower pizza crust on Eat.Drink.Smile. Beth is a genius.  While this is not the kind of New York-style pizza you can fold in half and eat, this is the kind you eat with a knife and fork. It is GOOD. And I mean that good.

Cauliflower crust out of the oven.

Cauliflower Pizza Crust
from Eat.Drink.Smile

1 cup cooked, riced cauliflower
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 garlic clove, chopped
Extra virgin olive oil

1. Remove stems and leaves from 1 large head of cauliflower and chops florets into chunks.  Put cauliflower in a food processor and pulse until it looks like a grain.  Dump cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 8 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 450° and spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray.  In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup of cooked cauliflower, egg, mozzarella, garlic and oregano.  Save remaining cauliflower for ... perhaps a dip for Super Bowl party.

3. Transfer mixture to cookie sheet and using your hands, press cauliflower mixture into a ~9" round or something resembling a circle, drizzle EVOO over the top to get that golden color.

4.  Bake for 15 minutes then remove from oven.  Top with your favorite sauce, toppings and cheese.  Place pizza under the broiler until the cheese is melted.

5.  Super important:  Cook your toppings before adding to the crust.
Hipstamatic print of  Cauliflower crust pizza.
On my pizza I sauteed up some mushroom, onions, spinach and threw in some leftover homemade turkey sausage.  I had to restrain myself from eating the whole pie.  It was GOOD!
Sara is the coolest chick I know.  She rolls fancy with a capital F.  And she rolls with dirt under her fingernails because she is an archaeologist.  She has one of the coolest husbands, the Doctor Professor and definitely one of the coolest kids I've ever met, Miss E. Even her parents, little brother and his family, and late Bumpa are cool.  And I'm lucky because she is one my best friends.

Sara lets me wander on my road, she lets me get lost every once in awhile and finds me when I need to be found, her family is my family, she inspires me every day with her love, generosity, and ultimate coolness.  Love you girl, Happy 40th!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

2012 The Year Ahead & Gluten-Free Lemon and Cranberry Scones

I like lists.  I have lists of books to read, movies to see, stacks and stacks of recipes to try, exercises to do in the morning, hikes to take, far off places to visit, and ....

I don't often refer back to them other than to occasionally cross off one or two that I may have finished.  However, this list is different.  This is my life list.  Or at least the many things that I want to do, accomplish, embrace and become this year.

1. Be authentic. Be me.
2. No doormats here. Practice loving assertiveness.
3. Love with all my heart and without expectations.
4. Slow down. Tell stories. Express myself.
5. Ask more why questions.
6. Be kind even in the face of unkindness.
7. Write more.
8. Dream. Set goals. Live.
9. Practice acceptance.
10. Go somewhere that inspires me for my 40th.
11. Love, honor and nurture my body.  Practice health in all the realms.
12. Let go.
13. Continue to push myself outside of my comfort zone.
14. Cook and bake more.
15. Embrace my creativeness (or serious lack thereof).
16. Learn to play guitar.
17. Go back to school with purpose and gusto.
18. In ceramics class, create more and perhaps socialize less.
19. Take more pictures.  Capture moments.
20. It is always my choice.
21. Learn to ride the waves.
22. "...be willing to let go of the life we have planned ... to have the life that is waiting for us."
23. Embrace the present.
24. Be brave.
25. Run trails. Hike more.
26. Practice yoga.
27. Meditate.
28. See Gary Allan, Eric Church and Lady A in concert.
29. See more sunrises.
30. Go camping every month.
31. Run the LJ 1/2 marathon...for the 2nd time.
32. Believe in hope.

Working on #14 first, I made scones to take to ceramic class on Saturday.  As I tasted one, I realized that I should have two different gluten-free flour mixes.  One for sweet things and another for savory things.  My current gluten-free flour mix worked well in the Black & Tan Brownies (see previous post) because of the rich, dark chocolate flavors.  However, the gluten-free flour mix did not work as well for the light, citrus notes of the scones.  So it is back to the drawing board.

Scones ready for the oven.

Lemon and Cranberry Scones
from Smitten Kitchen

1 1/2 Tablespoons lemon zest
2 1/4 cups gluten-free flour mix (see previous post for my g-f whole grain mix)
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups dried cranberries
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 cup heavy cream

1. Preheat oven to 400° and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a food processor, pulse together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt, butter and zest until the mixture resembles a coarse meal, then transfer to a bowl.
3. In a small bowl, whisk egg and yolk together, then stir in cream.  Add egg mixture and dried cranberries to flour mixture and stir until just combined.
4. On a piece of floured wax paper, pat dough into 1 inch thick and 8 inch round.  Then with a small juice glass dipped in flour, cut out 2 inch rounds and place 1 inch apart on baking sheet.  Bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly golden.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Black & Tan Brownies for Tami's 40th

Tomorrow is a big day.  My good friend Tami turns 4-0!  Happy Birthday to you!

My amazing and beautiful friend Tami
Her birthday falls during the time of year where many of us (myself included) are taking stock of our life and making lists.  I've come across several of those "lists" the last couple of days.  One of them speaks of friendships.  Keep people in your life who truly love you, motivate you, encourage you, enhance you, and make you happy.  For me, Tami is one of those people.  A keeper.

Friends and brownies.
Tami somehow knows when to call me and really ask, "Hey, how are you?" as she listens intently to me as I go on and on ... oh and on about this and that.  I hear her on the other end of the line ... smiling and I feel my shoulders relax and whatever was my "on" for the moment becomes insignificant and we share a good laugh.

To you my dear friend, I hope this 40th year is a special and wonderful year for you.  You are a treasure and I hold our friendship close to my heart.

Black and Tan Brownies
Modified from Cooking Light, March 2010

Tan Brownies
6 Tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4.5 ozs. gluten-free flour mix (I followed Gluten-Free Girl & the Chef's whole grain flour mix ratio and used * see below)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Black Brownies
3 ozs. unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
4 Tablespoons butter
1 cup of granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup Guinness Stout
4.5 ozs. gluten-free flour mix
1/4 teaspoon salt
Good looking ingredients: beer and chocolate.
1.  Preheat oven to 350° and lightly spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.
2. Start with making the tan brownies by placing the softened butter and brown sugar in a small mixing bowl, beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.
3. Beat in eggs, one at a time then stir in vanilla.
4. Add dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and salt) and beat until combined, fold in pecans.
5. Pour tan brownie mix into pan and bake for 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
6.  While tan brownies are baking, start making the black brownies by melting chocolate and butter in a small microwave safe bowl.
7. Add granulated sugar and stir to combine.
8. Add eggs, vanilla and Guinness and stir with a whisk to combine.
9. Add flour and salt, stir to combine.
10. Pour black brownie mixture over tan brownies and bake for an additional 25 minutes or so.
11.  Cool in pan on a wire rack then cut into squares.
Black & Tan Brownies.
* AB's Whole Grain Flour Mix
300 grams each of quinoa flour, amaranth flour, and brown rice flour
150 grams each of potato starch and tapioca  flour

1.  Set large plastic container on a kitchen scale and hit tare, then add first flour until scale reaches 300g, then start adding the second flour until the scale reaches 600g, you're following me right?
2.  Seal and shake to combine flours.
A little Guinness left over for me.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sweet Potato Gnocchi and Thanksgiving Week Hikes

I am thankful and very very full.  I spent the last 10 days hanging out with family and terrific friends and ate way too much good food.  

My Thanksgiving week began with a camping trip to Joshua Tree National Park.  Something about being in nature makes me hungry.  On my night to cook, we made marinated flank steak, rosemary garlic red potatoes, Brussels sprouts and apple salad, black beans and cocktails.  I brought a homemade German chocolate birthday cake because I believe everybody should have cake and beer in honor of their day! 
After climbing, we walked the Barker Dam Nature Trail.
The dam was constructed by early cattle ranchers in the 1900s.
On Thanksgiving Day I went for an early hike up Iron Mountain before heading over to my sister's for the feast.  This was my sister and her girlfriend's first time hosting Thanksgiving and as first timers do,  they planned for an over-abundance of food.  I filled half my plate with salad and thought I was being healthy, that was until dessert was served ... pumpkin pie and chocolate peanut butter squares.
Iron Mountain peak looking southeast.
Sierra Madre, or as Sara calls it "Mayberry," is a picturesque town near Pasadena and is the starting point for the Mt. Wilson trail which was established in April 1864.  The summit is 5,715 feet in elevation and a mere 7.0 miles from the trailhead.  Every spring Sierra Madre sponsors a trail race to the summit.  I think I'm in for that.  On a lovely Saturday morning, The Doctor Professor, the Mrs., Baby Emma, Jack Jack, Joe Frazier and myself set out for the first post appropriately named First Water. Afterwards, we lunched at Casa del Rey where I sucked down two margaritas and an afternoon nap ensued shortly thereafter.
First Water - Mt. Wilson
Sweet potato gnocchi to ward off Monday
morning blues.
 Sweet Potato Gnocchi

I am feeling a little melancholy and thought making a comfort food dish would help ease me into tomorrow.  

2 large sweet potatoes
1 1/2  to 2 cups gluten-free flour ( I used a mix of brown rice and quinoa flours)
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, divided
pinch of cinnamon
salt and pepper
2-3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 tablespoon organic maple syrup (I use Trader Joe's Grade B)
3-4 fresh sage leaves, chiffonade (big fancy word meaning to cut into thin strips)

Sweet potato gnocchi
1.  Bake the sweet potatoes in a 450° oven for 40 minutes.  Allow potatoes to cool completely before handling.
2.  In a large bowl use a hand-held potato masher  (a forks works just as well), mash the sweet potatoes until they are smooth.
3.  Then add the egg, parmesan cheese, cinnamon and salt/pepper  and about 1 1/2 cups of flour and mix with a spoon.  Once mixed well, knead until dough forms.  Then gradually add more flour until the dough is not sticky and can be rolled out.
4.  Using your hands divide the dough into four equal section and roll each section into a long thin strand (think rope diameter), then cut strands 1/2 inch pieces or pillows and with a fork from the top of pillow, press or roll down and away to form the classic gnocchi look.
5.  In a large pot bring water to a boil and gently add gnocchi.  Cook until they float to the top, approximately 5 minutes.  Remove with a mesh strainer and serve with maple syrup sage butter.
6.  While gnocchi is cooking, melt 2-3 tablespoons of unsalted butter is a saute pan.  Once the butter has melted, add maple syrup, sage and a bit of fresh ground pepper and pour over gnocchi and top with parmesan cheese.

To freeze the uncooked gnocchi, place "pillows" on a parchment lined baking sheet and place in the freezer.  Once gnocchi is frozen, transfer to plastic bag.  To cook frozen gnocchi follow the same cooking instructions above.

Sadly I cannot take credit for this beautiful dish or picture
but I imagine this is what mine would look like.  - Gourmet

Friday, November 4, 2011

Homemade Mozzarella and Da' Club

Me: Cheese Dick and Lady Julie, I'm ready to make more cheese, what about y'all? A blue perhaps?

Fred: CheeseBeeoch, I've been a little late replying, sorry. Was dealing with a raging cold all weekend and otha shee-ot.  I'm down to make some cheese m'lady.  Blue cheese would be rad.  I have some gouda doses in the freezer too.  No recipe, tho. CheeseDickie

CheeseDickie: yo yo YO CB, I've been in touch with the owner of Alesmith (he be makin cheese too) who told me about these foo-s.  I think we should branch out and make our own damn club just so we name our members.  String-cheese, Cheese-whiz, Queso-what?, etc. Then have meetings at different brewpubs-wine joints every month and sample our damn sheet-ot.  We gonna need a name and t-shirts. Cheese Dick out.

CheeseBeeoch:  Love it!  Our own club!! Let's do it!!  I'm already thinking that my Friday nights are cheese making nights since I'm a singleton. ... Re: Beer Week ... let's get something on the books so y'all can get a sitter, etc.  xoxoxo Cheese Beeoch out.

CD: Alright! Well we're going to need a name fo' Shawna fo' Da Club.  At some point we're going to need a Louise to join the club so that we can also have a Cheese Louise.  I see the names as being a driving force, if not the very reason, for Da Club.  #2 is cheese. #3 is beverage. ... I think we should plan our meetings to correspond with one of the thousands of beer and wine events going on each month ... if the tasks grow too large I will have to change my name to Big Cheese Dick and take on a Little Dick as as assistant.  Right now we only have a Dick and Bitch, so let's get crackin'. CD

CB: I'm peeing my pants right now. ... Re: Beer Week, my vote is for PPOB on Friday.  

Shawna: CD & CB, Friday night we could do the PP one and then Urge [later on..].  Cheesy Pleasy

CD: Cheese Dick and Baby Swiss are down with PPOB on Friday night.  What time are you making like toilet paper (& rolling out).  We were thinking about hitting it early 5:30pm or whatever ... easy cheesy .... I'm going to bring a lil' slice of homemade parm and my gray-ta to supplement that pizza pie. CD
Insalata caprese with homemade mozzarella and home grown basil.
My first venture into cheese making with Fred (aka Cheese Dick) was this easy 30 minute mozzarella, which is the perfect mate to home grown basil and tomatoes.  We convened on a summer Sunday afternoon and in no time had made not only mozzarella, but a sharp cheddar that would need to age a few months before we could taste it.
Fred aka Cheese Dick cutting the curd.
Curds after draining the whey.
"Processing" the mozzarella.
Quick 30 Minute Mozzarella
by The Greening of Gavin

1 gallon and a splash (4 litres) of whole milk 
1 1/2 teaspoon citric acid
1/4 teaspoon de-ionized salt (if you can find cheese salt - use that)
1/4 teaspoon rennet (where to buy cheese supplies in San Diego)
1 1/2 cup bottled water 

Stainless stock or soup pot
Microwave safe bowl
Slotted spoon

Step by step instructions here.

The original recipe and steps with pictures from Ricki Carroll here.

I encourage you to read Gavin's post and review both sets of instructions before beginning. Not because this is a difficult recipe or takes a long time to make, but because between the two of us - Cheese Dick and Cheese Bitch - we were a bit excited and our steps got out of sync a little bit.  The mozzarella still tasted better than anything store bought.

Me and "Cheese Dick" goofing around.
Best summer foods.