Thursday, November 21, 2013

Oh GEEE.. Bulgogi!!!

I first discovered Bulgogi back in the late 90's and fell in love. It is Korean-style marinade used on different kinds of meats which are then barbecued on high heat. The result is carmalized goodness of meat literally falling off the bone. I snagged the recipe and have used it so many times, the recipe card has become quite worn.

We like to marinate flap meat or skirt steak in this delicious goodness for two or three hours during the summer, then toss it on the grill. Chop up the meat, add some cilantro and throw it in tortillas.. its summer heaven!

However, it is November and grilling season is over for us. (We are not quite ready to move our grill to the porch like many of our friends do). But..the craving for the taste of Bulgogi cannot be contained. So... I decided to go on a limb and try the fusion route.

2 pounds of ground beef replaced the steak. I browned the beef first, then added the marinade. A little chicken stock was tossed in so the meat would not go dry.  Left it alone to simmer for a bit while final prep was made- tortillas, chopped tomatoes and some delicious kale. The final result.. Bulgogi tacos!!!

Nestled in was a little chicken stock infused rice and it was a YUMMY dinner indeed!!!

Never be afraid to think outside the box, try something new and always incorporate your favorites!!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Just Chill Chili...

What you might not know about me is I don't like beans. Nope, nada.. don't care for them. I will eat green beans we grow in our garden each year.. RAW. Cooked beans? Refried beans? No thank you.. not this girl.  So when it gets chilly in the PNW, and my heart starts turning towards making a crock pot of chili, you can bet your spice I make chili with no BEANS

Ahh, yes. Here it is. My chili is pretty darn simple. Cook up some ground beef- a pound or so- a little Italian sausage- another pound or so- and then throw it in the crock pot with some diced white onion. For liquid, I tend to change my mind from time to time but my tried and true favorite is a large can of crushed tomatoes, a can or two of tomato sauce and perhaps some water- but only if I'm feeling saucy.

Spices? Eh. Depends on my mood. This time, I used a little black pepper, some smoked paprika (no real amounts.. I'm a dash and pinch kind of girl) and, of course, a little chili powder. After a few hits and misses, I tend to add less spice at first and taste it along the way, just to see if it needs more. Once its in, you can't go back and since I have OVER spiced chili before to the point it was inedible, I tend to be more cautious.

Serving? Well, you can see by the picture my family's go to favorite is chili over rice.  A little cheddar (OK, a ton of cheddar) and some chopped green onion is all it takes.

Simmering, loving and heating up the house with good scents. Crock it on high for a couple of hours or if you have the time, over low for many hours. You can't go wrong! Bring it, fall!!!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Smashin' Taters with Spam

Yes, it is true. I love Spam. I'm a Spam eatin' gal and I've transformed my whole family into believers too.

Spam Spam Spam Spam
Monty Python reference aside, sliced thin and pan fried until lightly brown, cooked Spam is wonderful.  So, when I decided to re-create a popular smashed potato recipe, it only made sense to use cooked spam instead of cooked bacon. (Plus, I didn't have any bacon and zero motivation to leave the house to get some).

The concept was simple. I boiled four russet potatoes for about 20 minutes, then my plan was to slice them and smash them on a cookie sheet into potato-like pancakes.  Um, yeah.  That WAS the plan. It did not happen.  They were still too firm and refused to smash.

Not to be daunted, I decided my best bet for salvaging something for my family to eat was to slice the whole potato in half, then lay them cut side down on a cutting board. I then cut them into rounds, making sure a piece of potato skin was attached to each slice. Flip them over, then smash them slightly with the back of a fork.

From here, lay them on a cookie sheet.  Drizzle them with olive oil, shake on a little salt and pepper. For just over the top goodness, I then added some shredded cheese and of course.. a piece of cooked Spam or two on top of each mound.  450 degrees for 20 minutes.. and then....

Happiness on a plate

Salty, delicious.. and darn good with a scoop of sour cream.

Now go enjoy your Spam...

Thursday, October 17, 2013

TADA! Enchiladas....sorta....

Having grown up in Southern California,  I ate a lot of local Mexican food and really grew to appreciate all the different flavors.

When we moved to the Pacific Northwest, we were hard pressed to find a good local place like we used to have so much access to.  So, every now and again, I'll make us something that reminds us a little of our SoCal roots.

I have made rolled enchiladas for my family in the past and repeatedly, they seem to enjoy this casserole version better. Essentially, its an enchilada stack of sauce, tortillas, meat, veggies, cheese and repeat.  For this dish, I used chicken. Cooked ground beef would work as well. I chose not to soak the meat in the sauce before prepping- this is certainly an option but remember.. more sauce, more heat. Ole!

Herdez Pasilla Chile Cooking Sauce

 First step- add some sauce to the bottom of a deep casserole dish.  I had the priviledge to work with Herdez products this past spring and they are really wonderful. This is the Pasilla Chile Cooking Sauce and it adds a real smokey, not too spicy, heat to the dish.

Like Lasagna, only with tortillas. Using small corn tortillas, I covered the bottom of the pan, overlapping to make room for a total of six. Then I covered those with a layer of pre-cooked, diced chicken, a layer of diced white onion and then final a mixture of cheddar cheese.

Can you see the goodness coming together? After the cheese, I poured on more sauce and repeated the layers.  I ended up with a layer of tortillas which I poured the rest of the sauce over and let it soak in for about 15 minutes. Once the soaking process was done, I covered it and put the casserole in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes. I uncovered it and since the sauce tended to dry up a bit, I layered more cheese on top, then poured some Herdez salsa verde on top.  Back into the oven for 15 minutes uncovered and...

Voila! It may not be authentic to any particular standard but it sure was good! The verde salsa at the end was key as it gave it some extra moisture and a great flavor profile.

My cooking style has always been sort of from the hip- use what you have and compromise where you need to. And considering there was but one tiny square of this left after dinner (our 12 year old even had seconds) for my husband to squirrel away for work the next day, I'd say there is something to be said about sometimes just winging it..


Monday, October 14, 2013

Of Sausage and Fries...

Aaaah, Fall.  It starts to get chilly outside, the trees started dropping their leaves and it is time to start making comfort food again.

Who am I kidding? I make lasagna in the middle of summer just because it tastes so darn good.  Fall is fun because its fall. The seasons are changing and it does seem to make more sense to eat meals with a little more.. shall we say.. HEFT to them.

As a cooking ambassador for, I was thrilled to take part in the Johnsonville Sausage and Ore-Ida Potatoes assignments for this month.

First up.. .Johnsonville Sausage with bowties and pesto cream.  This was absolutely delicious. With fresh chopped tomatoes and creamy basil with parmesan, the family was  (don't mind the pun here..) 'wolfing' it down. Seriously, my son told me later this was a new favorite and I had to promise to make it again.  Recipe courtesy of Johnsonville and on Allrecipes:

Ok, who doesn't love french fries? Who doesn't love potatoes, period? Working on the Ore-Ida recipes is a no brainer for me. I could eat these without any of the fancy pretense. But, they look pretty cool next to the organic dog in a bun..

Thanks to #jvillekitchens and #allstarsjville.

October has been delicious so far.. and more to come!!