Thursday, October 29, 2009

Taquito Casserole

My dad got this recipe from somewhere...perhaps the back of a box of taquitos. Anyway, it's a great recipe and lately I've made it a few times.

1 box of unthawed taquitos (you need about 30)
28 oz can refried beans
20 oz can enchilada sauce
4 oz can chopped olives
4 oz can chopped green chiles
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 cups of shredded cheese

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

First, chop the green onions. Use the white and green parts. I love this photo. I love green onions! Hey, win-win!

Put the refried beans, green onions, olives, and green chiles into a microwave-safe bowl. Stir everything up so it's all happy together. Microwave for about 3-4 minutes, stirring halfway through.

Meanwhile, spray a 9x13 casserole pan with nonstick cooking spray. Lay down some taquitos.

Drizzle about half of the enchilada sauce over the taquitos.

Put half of the refried bean mixture over the taquitos.

Spread half of the cheese over the refried beans.

Repeat layers! Cover with foil and cook for about 50-60 minutes, or until hot. Cover with remaining cheese and put back into the oven until the cheese is melted.

This is pure comfort food. It's like enchiladas without all that pesky rolling! Add salsa, sour cream, and guacamole for a religious experience.

Taquito casserole is so great. Aside from the cooking, it really doesn't take much active time at all. You can use the taquitos that are corn or flour tortillas. I like both.

And now my stomach is grumbling. Maybe there are some leftovers still left in the refrigerator...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Let's Kick It Up a Notch!

Foodbuzz sent me a terrific package filled with goodies from Emeril's product line.

The package contained chicken broth, Emeril's Essence, Emeril's Chicken Rub, and a horseradish mustard. I immediately got inspiration from the mustard.

Kicked Up Honey Mustard Shrimp

Shrimp (I think this is the 3 pound bag from Costco)
4 Tbsp. Honey
4 Tbsp. Mustard
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

The star of this dish is Emeril's Kicked Up Horseradish Mustard!

Add the ingredients into a bowl. Here's a photo of the mustard outside of the bottle. It looks (and tastes!) amazingly great!

Whisk the ingredients together until they are all incorporated.

Put the shrimp and marinade into a zip top bag and let marinate for about 30 minutes. You can marinate it longer if you'd like.

Put the shrimp on skewers to prep for the BBQ.

BBQ the shrimp until they are pink and cooked throughout. This doesn't take very long, maybe 4-5 minutes.

Serve the shrimp. These did not last long at all. Everyone at our party adored them!

Since I received this package I have been using Emeril's Essence for a lot of things, most notably steak and (separately) scrambled eggs. It's delicious! I definitely recommend his products. I hadn't ever bought them before but you can bet that now they're in rotation in my kitchen.

Great Blog

I just wanted to recommend a great blog Joel F. Brown. I came across this guy on LiveJournal through his posts in the Food Porn community. His writing is pretty good, in a stream of consciousness way. It makes me think Jack Kerouac went to Paris to learn how to cook French cuisine. It's not for the weak of stomach or heart, though. And it's not for those who are offended by expletives since he uses those liberally.

Anyway, check it out!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Indian Food Night

Last night we had a great dinner with friends. A lot of this food I picked up from the market but I made some toor daal from a recipe I got from a friend. But first...the market food!

Samosas from the salad bar area of Central Market. These were delicious!

Naan from Trader Joe's.

Daal palak, also from Central Market. It was so good and a bit spicy.

And here's the daal I made! It was a hit! It was also health, as the only oil I used was less than a tablespoon. Here is the recipe, as written by my friend Payal:

Toor Dal (found at Indian grocery stores)
2 1/2 tsp Paprika
3 tsp Cumin-coriander powder
3/4 tsp turmeric
Juice of one lemon (can substitute with lemon juice from store)
7 tsp sugar
green chilli (optional)
a small piece ginger (optional)
salt (according to taste)

Also need separately:
3 tsp vegetable oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp fenugreek seeds

Soak the lentils (toor dal) over night if possible or at least 4 hours. Then boil it until its completely soft or put it into a pressure cooker for 3 whistles. Then add some water and whip it until its blended. Now put the pan on a stove and put the whipped dal in there. Add all the spices up to salt. Once the dal is boiling, in a second small pan, heat up oil. Add black mustard seeds and heat until they sizzle. Add fenugreek seeds and heat some more. Add the mixture to the dal. Stir it up and add more water if needed. Let it boil for 30 minutes or until it reaches a desired consistency. Eat with rice.

I used equal amounts of coriander and cumin. I also could not find black mustard seeds so I used brown. Speaking of spices, a good tip is that if you happen to have a store near you that sells them in bulk it's much cheaper to get them from that section. This is especially true if it's a spice for a recipe that you do not use very often.

Oh, a couple of other amendments I made: I did not use the chili and for the garlic, I had some from a jar (oh, the humanity!) and I put in about a teaspoon. I'm not sure if the consistency I made was correct but it was so delicious. The consistency was a bit like mashed potatoes but it went very well with the rice (brown basmati) and the naan.

I loved making food with friends! It was fantastic.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Wine Review

Back in late April, some friends and I went to Yakima for their annual Spring Barrel Opening. One of the wineries we visited was Plaza Socievole Winery. I fell in love with their white wines, which is interesting because I usually don't like white wine all that much. I tasted, then bought, a bottle of their 2007 Harmony.

From their website:
This beautiful blend of 75% Viognier and 25% Roussanne. This wine showcases the magnificent terroir of the Horse Heaven Hills AVA. Fresh aromas of peaches and pineapple intermingle flawlessly with the French oak. The subtle oak accents give this wine a fun yet sophisticated complex mouth feel. "A touch of class in a glass".

I adore both Viognier and Roussanne so putting two together is amazingly delicious. It's complex and smooth. It's a delightful summer drinking wine. This winery definitely deserves a look from everyone. I also bought some Riesling of theirs that I'll have to review soon.

Anyway, I'm not a sophisticated wine reviewer but I know what I like. This white is not too dry for me to want a glass of water afterward nor is it sweet. I wouldn't even label it "semi-dry". I would just say it's good drinkin'. It's crisp and accessible.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sausage Stroganoff

If you've read my blog for any length of time you must know by now that in our house, sausage is king. We love sausage in pretty much any shape or form. So, when I decided to do a stroganoff today for dinner it shouldn't surprise you all that much that it was sausage that I reached for, instead of lean ground beef or ground turkey. I don't have step-by-step photos, alas, because I was preoccupied with taking photos of my preschooler parading around in my high heels (yes! really!), but I do have an end result photo. This dish isn't all that healthy but it is comfort food at its finest. And after a rough couple of weeks (I've just been really swamped both at home and work), I needed some major comfort food.

Sausage Stroganoff
16 oz. egg noodles, cooked per package instructions
1 pound Italian sausages, casings removed
3/4 cup diced onion
2 4 oz. cans mushrooms, drained
1 cup light sour cream
Splash of wine (I used Riesling)

Spray a nonstick pan with cooking spray. Add the onions and sausages. Break up the sausages into chunks. Cook the onions and sausages until the meat is cooked thoroughly. Add the mushrooms and sour cream. Stir. Add the egg noodles to the pan, followed by a splash of white wine, if necessary. I added this because the noodles were a bit on the dry side. You can sprinkle with parsley, if you like. This would actually make it taste pretty good, I think!

Et voila!

It tasted really good. My middle child had three - count em, THREE! - servings. He loved it. As I said, sausage is well loved in my house.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Homemade BBQ Brisket

I apologize for the length of time in between updates. I've been really busy with work and I had an out-of-town (indeed, out-of-country!) visitor for a few days. I'm definitely not complaining about the visitor; I'm just explaining my absence! Well, part of my absence. I can't blame it all on her. ;)

Anyway, yesterday I was at the grocery store surfing for meat as I am wont to do. A nearly 6 pound brisket caught my eye. I thought, "I wonder how dad's rib recipe would be on brisket?" The answer? Fabulous!

You can look at the link above if you want step-by-step on how to make the spice rub and the sauce. I didn't take photos of that.

I really feel like I got a good deal on this meat. Around $10 for almost 6 pounds of brisket? Yay!

There was a lot of fat to trim off this baby. I left some on for flavor but I did trim quite a bit off.

I adore my Canon... Here is the spice rub!

Sprinkle it on the brisket.

Rub it on both sides and all around that bad boy.

Put a rack on a cookie sheet. Then, put the brisket on the rack. You will have already preheated your oven to 250-degrees. Cover the pan and meat with foil and seal tightly. Cook in the oven for 4 hours. No peeking!

About two hours in, start making the sauce. Again, for instructions, see the link for my dad's rib recipe. The only difference is that I sautéed the onions until they were mostly soft and let the sauce simmer for an hour and a half or so. It thickened nicely!

After 4 hours, pull the brisket out of the oven.

You can either broil it or you can grill it. I chose to fire up the grill for the summer season in order to cook this brisket.

We flipped it about 4 times (so, the sauce was cooked on indirect heat a total of two times per side).

Spread that saucy goodness all over that meat!

Carefully remove it to a plate or cutting board to rest for a few minutes.

Doesn't it look glorious?!

Thinly slice it. If you have leftover sauce, you can pour it on.

We served it with caesar salad, potato salad, and King's Hawaiian rolls. It was the best dinner we've had in a long time. Delicious!

This was well worth the 5+ hours of cooking time. Granted, most of that time is inactive time but you still have to be around the house. The meat was moist and falling apart. The sauce is slightly spicy but sooooooo good!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Wine of the Week: Rowland Cellars 1999 Syrah

I have three places where I store wine. The first is a wine cooler (refrigerator) in the kitchen. In it is where I store the wines that I most care about. The second place is in a real refrigerator in our shop. This is where I store the white wines that need to be refrigerated prior to drinking. Finally, I also store wines in our walk-in closet. It is very cool in this closet and although its temperature does vary it is probably the most consistent place temperature-wise in the whole house. I have stored some wines in our walk-in closet for a couple of years. Sometimes it is with trepidation that I open a bottle that has been stored in the closet for some time. I just never know if I am going to get a quality wine from there.

Tonight we decided that opening (at least) a bottle per week would be a prudent idea. I already had a lot of wine to begin with so my adventure with the girls last week only added to the predicament of too much wine, if there is such a thing! It is going to be a fun endeavor, to be sure. In that spirit we opened a Rowland Cellars 1999 Red Triangle Syrah.

1999 was a pretty good year for Syrahs so I was a bit excited for this bottle. We opened it, poured it in the glasses, and opted to let it breathe for a bit. At first on the nose Mr. Mary Cooks got blueberry while I got cherry. Mr. Mary Cooks doesn't think that it comes out of the bottle very well but once it has breathed for some time (about an hour) it is very nice. When I had my first glass it seemed really smooth and mellow. After it breathed for an hour it was more of a characteristic Syrah with a good amount of tannins and flavor. This one definitely has the taste of oak but it is not obnoxious (not that I think oak is obnoxious).

The price point on this bottle seems to be about $26. I am positive that I did not pay that much for this bottle but I may have paid $14-20 for it. I am fairly sure I got it in a close-out cart from the awesome store, Central Market. I wish I had bought two bottles instead of one but it's always a crap shoot, it seems, in these situations.

Anyway, this is delightful and I adore it.

I know I should be more technical with my tasting notes and I will learn, in time, the right "buzzwords" to say but for now I will stick to "yes, I liked it" or "no, this is crap". Ha!

Mother's Cookies Circus Animals Review

One of the benefits of being a Foodbuzz Featured Publisher is that you occasionally get to try new foods.

A few months ago, Mother's Cookies folded and their beloved cookies gradually started disappearing from store shelves. One of these casualties happened to be the Circus Animal cookies. I have loved these cookies since I was a child so I was a bit disheartened to hear this news. Soon, however, we heard that Kellogg's had purchased the recipes and rights to these Circus Animal cookies (I am unclear about other types of Mother's Cookies recipes). Foodbuzz sent an email out to their Featured Publishers to see who would want to sample the cookies. I, of course, jumped at the chance!

On Friday, I received a package:

There was a note of explanation and promotion from Foodbuzz:

The first thing I noticed was the packaging. It was more foil-based than plastic-based. It was flimsier than Mother's Cookies packaging. This is not necessarily a bad thing; it's just an observation.

At first glance, the cookies did look similar to how they have always looked.

Ah ha! But I had an ace up my sleeve... I had a package of the Halloween Mother's Cookies Circus Animal cookies in my pantry! True, the "best by" date was sometime in March but, hey, they were unopened so I figured they'd be a good comparison. I wasn't saving them specifically for this moment; they just happened to not get consumed yet.

Let's compare ingredients and nutrition information, shall we?

First, the original ingredients:

Now, for the new ingredients (Kellogg's forgot the eggs!):

Minor differences, to be sure. The same goes for nutrition information. First, the original:

Now, the new nutrition information:

I believe this next photo sums it up. The new cookie is on the left and the original is on the right.

Reactions from the family.

First, Mr. Mary Cooks:
The frosting seemed thicker on the new cookies but the cookie seemed thinner and harder/crunchier. Not good. The frosting on the new cookie seemed more artificial, if that's possible. I've never been a really big fan of Circus Animals but it took the new cookies to make me realize the old ones were animal crackers with frosting. The new ones are like the plastic sushi you see on display; it looks delicious but you really wouldn't want to eat it.

Now, the middle child (boy, age 9):
The new are worse. The old are better. The old are the best ones because they have just the right amount of sprinkles and cracker and frosting on them.

The teenager (boy, age 18):
I like the old ones. I like how they're thicker, they're not as crumbly. The new ones seem kind of crumbly. I like the flavor of the old ones. It tastes like they changed something.

The preschooler (girl, age 3):
Mary Cooks: Did you like the old cookies or the new cookies?
Girl: Blank stare.
Mary Cooks: Did you like the orange cookies or the pink cookies?
Girl: The pink ones?
Mary Cooks: Why?
Girl: Because they're pink. I love pink!

Mary Cooks:
The new version does indeed seem more artificially flavored. There's a weird aftertaste and coating that happened to the roof of my mouth after eating the new version. They also seem to taste sweeter than the old version. Definitely overly sweet. Ugh.

Verdict? I think I'll pretend they are no longer, sadly. Sorry, Kellogg's. I'll still buy your products but I won't be buying Circus Animals any longer.