Monday, January 30, 2012

Anne Burrell- Bucatini All'Amatriciana

Have you ever received a gift card, you get to the store and are so overwhelmed with all the possible ways to spend free money that you end up picking things that you normally wouldn't buy? This was me in Williams and Sonoma a couple days after Christmas. This was why I ended up coming home with super expensive cans of San Marzano tomatoes as well as other pantry items that I'm not sure what I'm going to do with. Lebanese Couscous anyone? For $14 dollars a bag? Geez! Thankfully, I came across a recipe in Anne Burrell's Cook Like A Rock Star that called for exactly 2 cans of the very tomatoes that were sitting so snobbily in my cupboard. Seriously, who spends that much money on tomatoes and couscous?

Bucatini All'Amatriciana uses ok I could not find this at the store. I used pancetta instead. Other than that, I followed the recipe exactly.

 My snobby (but so so delicious and might actually be worth the price) tomatoes and lots of diced onion.
Onions and pancetta....if only you could smell the wonderfulness of it.
My fancy new toy, a food mill. Do you have one? I can't wait to try making my own gnocchi.
Grinding up those pretty tomatoes and adding them to the pork and onion to make the sauce.
Finish it off with a little olive oil and enjoy.

Banana Crunch Muffins- It's been a rough couple weeks....

So, it's been a rough couple weeks and I haven't been able to do much blogging. In late December I found out I was pregnant, for the first time, and then shortly thereafter I found out it was an eptopic pregnancy. I'll spare you the details of what that is but you can google it for more info. So far, I've been able to avoid surgery and had a dose of a very powerful drug that has made me so tired and cranky that I haven't done much but sleep. Tonight however, I'm inspired. I miss cooking. I miss blogging. I miss reading and commenting. Well, there's a lot I miss right now and I'm hoping to find a little joy in recipes and writing until I'm physically and emotionally healed.
I'm going thru all the photos I have saved since before the pregnancy and thought what better place to start then with the muffins I made on a stormy cold morning when the only care I had was what to make for breakfast. 

Ina Garten is one of my very favorite cookbook authors. I've never had a recipe fail. I sat at my kitchen counter on a rainy weekend morning and flipped thru the breakfast section in several of her cookbooks. I settled on Banana Crunch Muffins since I had a few bananas ready for use.

A hot cup a chamomile tea and I'm ready for baking. I must share my mug with you since it's too cute. Every year we take a trip to Disneyland and each pick out a coffee mug. It's a fun tradition and an inexpensive souvenir.
Muffins hot from the oven. I chose to top them with coconut. It added a nice sweet crunch.
My muffin posing for you. I'm still learning about food styling. It's definitely not my forte but I'm trying.

If you're like me, you break pieces of your muffin off to eat in bite sized chunks. I'm not a civilized cut in half, spread with butter and daintily pick up to eat person.

I debated sharing my pregnancy story but I'm hoping that maybe someone will read this and feel a little less alone with her own struggle with miscarriage, infertility or other pregnancy issue. When I found out I was pregnant, the only thing I wasn't worried about was losing the baby so imagine my shock when the ultrasound showed an empty space where the baby should have been. Talking about it has really helped. Hearing other women tell their stories has really helped.  Finding comfort in the support of family and friends has kept me from being swallowed into that pit of sadness that seems to ready to suck me in. So if you read this and want to send me an e-mail or comment because you need a little support, I'm here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Black Bean Soup- Great to Pack for Lunch

Does anybody else run out of things to pack for lunch at work? I'm not really a sandwich person so I'm always hunting for recipes that make good leftovers. I've posted black bean soup before but I've since perfected the recipe. It keeps for several days in the fridge and reheats really well.

First saute over medium-high heat, one small onion diced and 2 minced cloves of garlic in approx 2 tsp of olive oil. Then add 2 cans of drained/rinsed black beans, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp ground coriander and 1 cup of your favorite salsa.

Then add 2-3 cups of water depending on how thick you like your soup. Bring to a bubble and then reduce to simmer for about 20 minutes. Taste your seasoning and add salt and pepper to your liking.

Then using your handy-dandy immersion blender (that you got for Christmas) or your blender, blend until pureed.

Add your favorite toppings. I like shredded cheese and avocado.

What do you usually pack for lunch? Or do you have a favorite take-out stop?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Meatless Monday- Tostadas

Happy Martin Luther King Day everyone! Did you get the day off? I enjoyed this lazy Monday very much. I didn't roll out of bed until noon and then I spent the rest of the day in the kitchen. And I may have watched Life As We Know It and It's Complicated again for the thousandth time. 
I love Meatless Monday. It forces me to be creative with our meals and it saves a few bucks. Mexican food is a favorite in our house so Meatless Monday meant tostadas this week.
Pardon the orangey/shadowey photo. I'm still trying to figure out my camera.

I bake corn tortillas sprayed on both sides with a little canola oil cooking spray at 400 deg until crispy. Then I top the crispy tortillas with vegetarian refried beans, shredded cheddar cheese, sliced black olives, diced  avocado, salsa and sour cream. Quick, simple and so delicious. You may even have time to whip up a margarita to toast your Meatless Monday success.

Do you participate in Meatless Monday? Or meatless any other day of the week?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Black Bean & Beef Enchilada Casserole

My husband is a huge casserole lover. I really don't understand it. I mean, I like a good casserole but it's not something I crave. For him, it's the ultimate comfort food. Whenever I ask him what he wants for dinner, the first thing he says is "casserole." So now, I'm hunting for casserole dishes. Especially since we're trying to save money and anything that provides leftovers is a welcome recipe in my kitchen.
I adapted this recipe from Sweet Treats and More.

I used 1 pound of organic grass-fed beef from Trader Joes instead of chicken. It has more fat than I prefer, but I'll take it since it's organic and still inexpensive. Also, I added 1 teaspoon each of chili powder and onion powder to the browned meat.

I opted to serve the sour cream on the side rather than in the casserole. I added a 3.8 oz can of sliced black olives. We love olives in this house.

I topped the casserole with 3 stalks of scallions (white and green parts) diced.

It was cheesy, saucy, beefy bean goodness. Perfect for leftovers at work the next day. Just make sure to reheat in a glass container. I found some cheap glass to-go containers on Amazon. Plastic in the microwave is not your friend.

Do you have any casseroles you can recommend?

Any budget meals that are still delicious?