Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Spinach Tomato Orzo Soup

What is it with me and easy meals? I'm still trying to do the whole "no meat day" every week, so I was excited to see this recipe in my favorite site. It is really similar to a tortellini soup I've made before. While this is a really good quick meal, I think I'll stick with my tortellini soup (recipe soon to come!). (Btw, this makes a ton of soup! If I ever make this again, I'll definitely half this recipe.) 

Spinach Tomato Orzo Soup adapted from
Olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
½ lb fresh spinach
1 – 15 oz can diced Italian tomatoes (with oregano and basil)
1 lb orzo pasta
8 cups of chicken stock
4 cups of water

Preheat a large soup pot. Drizzle with olive oil. Add onions and saute until tender. Add garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add canned tomatoes, spinach, chicken stock, and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium.

Add orzo and cook for 10 minutes, or until orzo is tender. 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

This year, we are about 600 miles away from home. What does that mean? It means that we're only about 10 hours away. What it really means is that my husband and I are on our own for the holidays...for the first time! We moved here only two months ago (seems a lot longer), so money's a little tight, especially for it being the holidays. We mostly decided not to go home because we thought it would supposedly snowed last year the week before Christmas...and since we have never driven in snow, we didn't want to risk our lives. Well, it didn't snow. It wasn't even really that cold! Oh well. But we are definitely going next year! So I'm calling dibs on my sister's bed and on my brother's spare room!  

We didn't really do much this weekend. I do not like large crowds, it's a little phobia of mine! And I do not like holiday crowds. No matter what type of deals there are, you will not see me waiting in line or fighting crazy people for something I could buy any time of the year...even if it twice as much...or even on line! No thank you! What we did do was drink lots of coffee and hot chocolate! Calories don't count during Christmas!!!! We also made popcorn! Not the fancy kind you pop in them there microwaves (I have a little redneck in me)...we made popcorn without a popper, on our stove!!! 

I worked in a movie theater in high school, so I've made a crap ton of popcorn on a fancy machine...I even have the scar to prove it (cleaning it was also a bitch!). The only reason I loved working at the movies was because I could eat all the popcorn I wanted! Delicious buttery popcorn! I can never get tired of it. Never ever! So, we usually buy a box or two of microwave popcorn every other time we go to the grocery store because my husband is addicted! It gets expensive...and very unhealthy! So we decided to stop...cold popcorn. This broke my heart, and my stomach. No megusta

So the only "healthier" and cheaper alternative would be using an air popper. Well, I already have too many gadgets, and I couldn't fit another gadget anywhere. So we figured why not make popcorn the good old fashion way and use a pan! So we did!!! It may not be soooo healthy, but it is healthier than buttered popcorn, and cheaper than microwave popcorn. So how did our first experience making popcorn go? I shall tell you.

It was very easy! I did go a little overboard adding a shit ton of kernels to the pan! It was pretty cool watching the kernels pop! Now let me tell you what happened once we thought they were done popping...the pan we used is a bit heavy, and since I have dainty muscles, I had my husband remove the lid while I poured the popcorn in our bowl. Well, as soon as he lifts the lid a little, kernels and popcorn start shooting out at us...going everywhere!...all over the counter and floor, inside the burners, under the dishwasher and the island! It was hilarious! Who would have thought hot popcorn kernels would hurt! The pictures don't do it justice.

 So overall, our Christmas Eve wasn't too bad. We had freshly made popcorn (which really was delicious!) and watching the Dog marathon (don't judge me. Yes, he's a nasty looking human being...but I just love the show!) and cuddled on the couch under our very warm blanket! (My hubby didn't even really complain much even though I did! My left ovary has been hurting, I think I'm dying!...but that's a whole different story.)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Bacon-Wrapped Jalapenos

The bacon looks raw, but it so wasn't!
 I'm still learning how to use my cool camera...
and trying to take pics at night isn't really working!

I had seen these little suckers around the interwebs for a while, but was a bit hesitant to try them (cream cheese and jalapenos didn't really sound too appetizing)...but when I saw them on The Pioneer Woman, I figured they must not be too bad. I've tried recipes from Ree's site, and I have not been disappointed...especially them having bacon!!! who doesn't love bacon?! I gave them a shot. I first made them on a cookout this past summer, using my siblings as guinea pigs! My sister, a hater of all things "cheese" liked them...until we told her it was cream cheese! That's when her mind took over and told her not to eat more because it was "cheese". But my sister-in-law and my husband devoured them! These are absolutely delicious.

The very first time I try new recipes, I follow them else would I know if I like it or not, or if I need to make adjustments for the future. Anyway, I found that this is way too much cream cheese, at least for me! So I knew that I needed to reduce the amount of cream cheese I put in each jalapeno half. I also sprinkled some black pepper on them. I absolutely love black pepper, just ask my husband! 

So for these, I don't really follow the "recipe". I just wing it depending on how many jalapenos I'm using. Especially with the cream cheese...I just add as much as I think is enough for me!

So, If you're wanting the original recipe, you can find it here. They are worth trying!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Mexican Tortilla Soup

This is one of my absolute favorite soups to make! Not only is it easy and fast to put together, it is also so very tasty!! I was a bit skeptical at first, seeing that it isn't really a "Mexican" dish, but I still tried it...and automatically fell in love with it. The aroma is to die for! Even my picky brother had some once (minus the veggies) and said it was good!
Mexican Tortilla Soup adapted from From The Galley serves 4-6

1 Tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 onions, chopped
½ bell pepper, green
1 jalapeno chili pepper, diced
2 chicken breasts, skinless
3 tomatoes, chopped
2 tsps cumin
4 cups chicken stock
1 can of corn
1 Tbsp tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, sauté the onion, garlic, chili pepper, and bell pepper with olive oil until soft.

Add the chicken breasts, tomatoes, cumin, and stock, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. When the chicken breasts are cooked through (about 15 minutes) remove from the pot and shred (use two forks to pull apart meat).

Return the shredded chicken to the pot along with the corn and tomato paste and simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

*We eat this with tortilla chips, and sometimes sprinkle some shredded cheese on it!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Pizza Margherita

So, my husband and I have been trying to cut back on eating out...and I think we have been pretty successful so far. And by so far, I mean the last 2 weeks or so! 

Being in a new town (actually, new state!), we got carried away with trying all the things! It's not like we didn't eat out before we moved...I think we actually ate out a lot more before, being that we had my family there to eat out with! Our "home town" didn't have much to offer other than your usual chain gets pretty boring. But as soon as we got here, we really got carried away trying all the new restaurants in the area. We are only 45 mins South East from DC, so there are many restaurants to choose from. We've gone to many here, some in Alexandria, and plenty in DC!

But it gets to be a bit expensive, and makes your clothes shrink! So we decided that we would try to keep from eating out as often. And like I said, we've been pretty successful! We didn't completely stop going out all together, we just cut back. (Tuan's friend was in town, so we HAD to go out for drinks...and you can't drink on an empty stomach! Lol! And we also have to find the right Chinese restaurant in the area!) From what I can remember, we only ate out 3 times the last 2 weeks. So that's pretty good for us. 

But even when we don't eat out, we'd get a little carried away when we cook at home. We'd eat like there's no tomorrow! There would hardly be any leftovers. But that has completely changed....our freezer is stocked with plenty of meals! There's plenty of leftovers for Tuan to take to work, and plenty to freeze for later.                                                             
We are prepared for the apocalypse!
Anyway...this week I was tired of meat. And that's hard to say because I used to not be able to get full without having meat. I HAD to have meat in every meal! It's a Mexican thing! So I wanted something easy to make, very light, and very tasty. We've been making this pizza often since we found this recipe! I used to not be a fan of tomatoes...not raw, not in chunks in my pasta sauce, not even ketchup! But lately I have been enjoying it, except for raw...I don't think I'll ever eat it raw (unless it's in a fresh salsa!). I absolutely love this pizza, it is very filling. And what I really love is that it doesn't leave me feeling stuffed, bloated, or even give me acid reflux or heart burn! 
Foil lined baking sheet! Call me lazy,
but it makes it easier to clean up!

4 servings

1 ½ teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 can (13.8-ounces) refrigerated pizza crust dough
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
8 ounces fresh mozzarella packed in water
3 roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In a small bowl, stir together oil and garlic; set aside. Lightly spray baking sheet with nonstick vegetable cooking spray. Unroll dough and place on baking sheet. Press out dough to 13x9-inch rectangle. Bake in oven about 7 minutes or until crust begins to brown. Brush with garlic oil over crust, leaving a 1-inch border. Top with 2 tablespoons of the chopped basil, the mozzarella, and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Return to oven; bake for 8-10 minutes more. Top with remaining 2 tablespoons basil and serve hot.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Peppermint Bark

All I can say is yum! Who doesn't like peppermint bark?! And it is super easy to make. All you need is chocolate and candy canes...actually, white chocolate, milk chocolate, and candy canes. I'm not a fan of dark chocolate, which is something most bark "recipes" call for, so I use milk chocolate. I've read that you can't taste the difference once between milk chocolate and dark chocolate once it's combined with other ingredients, but I can taste the difference. Maybe it's in my mind, but there is definitely a distinct taste, and I do not like it! Anyway, use whatever chocolate you want.

I prefer peppermint bark that are in cute little shapes! So what I do is line a baking sheet with wax paper, place the cookie cutters on the wax paper and then place the entire thing in the freezer while I prepare the rest of the stuff. I then take the wrapper off the candy canes and crush them with a food processor (or inside a ziploc bag with a rolling pin). I like to separate the bigger chunks of the candy cane from the powdery parts, so I use a sifter for that. Then you place the milk chocolate in a piping bag (or ziploc bag) and microwave it in 10 second increments (so that it doesn't burn...burnt chocolate is no good!) kneading it as you go. Then you just pipe it inside the cutters. At this point, I like to sprinkle them with the candy cane powder, just to give it more of the peppermint flavor. After that, I place the tray back in the freezer while I melt the white chocolate (same way as the milk chocolate). After it's melted, I just pipe again inside the cutters and then sprinkle them with the crushed candy canes. After that, I place the tray inside the freezer again for a couple of minutes. After they set up, just push them out of the cutters (sometimes they try to stick to the tray, if so just take a toothpick and wedge it between the chocolate and the cutter, it'll separate easily then). Voila, that's it. simple as that!
*I prefer using Ghirardelli chocolate chips...the higher the quality of chocolate, the better it tastes!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


I’ve been craving pozole for a while now. Correction, I’ve been craving my mom’s pozole! And being that we live only 9 hours away from my parents, I can’t really have any of her pozole any time soon. She spends hours making it from scratch!! I’m not a big fan of spending hours slaving over the stove for a pot of pozole, no matter how delicious it ends up being. I mean, she goes to the Mexican store and buys the pork with bone and stuff…that just grosses me out! I don’t like dealing with stuff like that! But I know that the bone is what gives it it’s awesome flavor!

So when I came across this recipe, I was excited to see the few ingredients it required, and how little cook time it needed. I wasn’t expecting this to taste anything like home made pozole, being that it does require canned broth and tomatoes, but I figured it would come close to it. Boy was I wrong! It tastes nothing like the pozole I grew up eating at home, not even close! Don’t get me wrong, it is a very good recipe, very tasty, but it is not anywhere near authentic pozole. I know that not every recipe will be the same…but I’ve had pozole at many parties (and you know us Mexicans love to party and eat pozole!) and they all taste pretty much the same. I guess I now have to suck it up and make it from scratch!

I think napkins are the only Mexican thing I own! And I only have 2!

2 Tbsp corn or canola oil
1 lb pork tenderloin, cut into ½-inch dice
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1½ Tbsp chili powder
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp dried oregano
3 cups (24 fl oz) chicken stock/broth
1 can (14.5oz) diced fire-roasted tomatoes, with juice
1 can (15oz) white hominy, rinsed and drained
1 jalapeño chili, seeded and diced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Avocado slices, for garnish
Sliced green (spring) onions, white and green parts, for garnish
Lime wedges and warm tortillas for serving

In a soup pot over medium heat, heat the oil. Working in batches if necessary to avoid crowding the pan, add the pork and sauté until opaque on all sides but not browned, about 3 minutes per batch. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to the meat to a bowl and set aside.

Add the onion to the pot and sauté until softened, 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and oregano and cook, stirring to blend the spices evenly, for about 1 minute longer. Add the stock, tomatoes, hominy, jalapeño, and sautéed pork with any juices, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat.

Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the pork is cooked through, about 15 minutes. If desired, test a piece of pork to ensure that it is fully cooked before serving.

To serve, ladle the soup into warmed bowls and garnish with the avocado slices and green onions. Serve with the lime wedges and warm tortillas alongside. Or, serve with toasted tortilla strips.

*I have never had pozole with avocado slices…I’ve never even heard of eating it with pozole, and I wasn’t about to try it now (besides, avocados are so expensive!). And we normally eat pozole with tortilla chips, not tortillas…but that’s just us. As far as garnishes, we just use chopped onion, freshly squeezed limes (or as we call it, limon!), Mexican oregano blend (I’m not a big fan of this), and shredded cabbage (not a fan either). 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cutie pie!

I have the absolutely cutest niece in the entire world! Her name is Evey! When it comes to attire, she is a very girly girl...and girly girls HAVE to wear cute little hair bows!!! Since I'm home all day, I figured why not make her some little hair clips. I hope she loves them as much as I do!!! I also hope it helps keep her hair out of her face!

These little polka dot ones will definitely match her little shirt I got her! And it has plenty of pink dots, her favorite color! And I figured I'd throw in some green, since it's her mommies favorite color.

Anyway! Let me tell you about my precious little niece!She is ever so cute!

She loved that she was "shining"! 
Also shinning is my pretty little sister. :D

She is a polite little girl (not all of the time, of course, she is a child)...but she is definitely very well mannered when she is over at our place. 
Yeah, I gave her cookies and chocolate milk...and let her watch movies! :D
She was so excited that she got to drink out of a big girl cup and eat out of a big girl plate! (I'm not a big fan of plastic dinnerware, unless it's summer and we're eating outside!)

She is also fancy!
...pinky up! 
She had many questions about turtles!

 And she is also a very silly girl! That girl has such an imagination, and that imagination sometimes creates some very funny moments! Sometimes I think these guys rub off on her and make her ruin my pictures!
She's also going to be a big sister!!!! My nephew will be here sometime in March. He's going to be super fly! I can't wait for Junior to be here :D He's going to be so loved and so spoiled! Maybe just as much as we love and spoil Evey! :D

UPDATE: I have been searching everywhere for the post tutorial that I used and finally found it! Awesome and easy instructions!!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Baked Ravioli

Since I have a number of cook books that have gone unused, I figured this blog would help me start trying some of them. I started with something simple to make. Tuan wanted lasagna, but I am too intimidated by it, so I figured the Baked Ravioli would be close enough; and since we're trying to do at least one vegetarian meal a week, this was the perfect recipe. Let me tell you, this was a very delicious and filling meal! at least for me it was.

Baked Ravioli from Food Everyday: Great Food Fast
serves 4-6

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
   coarse salt
   fresh ground pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme or oregano
1 can (28 oz) whole tomatoes
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
2 lbs ravioli
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup grated parmesan

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and season with salt and pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the thyme/oregano and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, breaking up the tomatoes with a spoon, until the sauce is thickened and reduced to about 51/2 cups, 20 to 25 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, cook the ravioli in a large pot of boiling salted water just until they float to the top (the pasta will continue to cook in the oven). Drain the pasta; return to the post.

3. Toss the sauce with the pasta. Pour the pasta into a large gratin dish or 9-by-13-inch baking dish, and sprinkle with the cheeses. Bake until golden, 20-25 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.

**I did make some slight changes. I never use fresh garlic because I never use it all up before it goes bad, and it ends up being a waste of i buy a bottle of pre-minced is so much more convenient and I can never taste a difference. I also use regular salt and ground pepper (so much cheaper, and I always have those on hand). For this recipe I used the dried oregano, maybe next time I'll use Italian blend. And as far as the ravioli, I used spinach and cheese filled. Unfortunately I was impatient with the sauce, so mine ended up very watery, but it didn't affect the taste at all!

Friday, December 2, 2011

It's About Time!

After years of "lurking" through hundreds of blogs, and because of my husband's insistence, I finally decided to man up and create my own! I never had the courage to do it because new things scare the crap out me (ask my husband, he knows!). 

I am a creature of habit. A creature afraid of failure, disappointment, and embarrassment. The funny thing is that I am not afraid of failing, disappointing, or embarrassing anyone...I am afraid of failing, disappointing, and embarrassing myself! I am my own worst critic. Nothing I do is ever good enough for me. Why? I don't know why. But what I do know is that all of that is about to change. I have put on my big girl panties and decided that enough is enough. I will try new things, fail at them every now and then...but I will not be hard on myself anymore!

I have a collection of recipes that I haven't "gotten around to trying" and many cook books collecting dust. I was scared of having to spend all this money on ingredients and invest all this time on new recipes, just to end up with a mediocre dish that I wouldn't eat. But I won't know that until I try it!

I also have a pretty cool camera that doesn't get as much use as it should. I'm scared of taking crappy pictures with such a fancy shmancy camera, but I guess I can't improve if I don't use it. Who would have thought! Time to snap away and learn to use it!

I guess I should thank my husband for encouraging this :D Without his encouraging words, I'd just be sitting here reading other people's posts and begging my brother and sister to update their blogs :D I know, I'm lame! But I have nothing else to do since I'm a housewife! (<--- I am not unemployed because that would mean I want to work and am actively searching for work, which I'm not! I needed time off!) I'll eventually find a job, but not right now! My job right now is to try new noms with my my husband, and make plenty of goodies for his new work buddies!