armadillas


Oh, Costa Rica

Today was one of those rainy days. I live on the east coast and tropical depression Beryl (is that what it’s called) made its presence known. The sky was grey, rain pattered against my window nonstop, and my yard was flooded. Obviously, I decided it was a good idea to stay in. But my day was far from dreary. There are so many wonderful things you can do on a rainy day. For example, you can snuggle in bed with that book you’ve been meaning to finish for over a month now. Or you can curl up on the couch and watch a new movie from Redbox. Best of all, you can take a nice hot shower and then spend the rest of the afternoon walking around the house naked. Rainy days are rad!

(A market in Heredia)

What is my favorite part of rainy days, you ask? Stick-to-your-ribs food! You know what I’m talking about. The kind of food that speaks to your soul. Like chili. Like banana french toast. Like baked ziti. Like arroz con pollo- that’s rice with chicken for those of you unfamiliar. Ah, arroz con pollo! What a relationship the two of us have. You see, a couple years ago I spent part of my summer studying abroad in Costa Rica. Though I had the opportunity to experience some pretty tasty dishes (had the best fish I’ve ever tried), it would be a lie to say that my meals were varied. If I never see gallo pinto again as long as I shall live…I will die most satisfied. Arroz con pollo was a rather prominent guest in my diet that month as well. For the longest time, I’ll admit, I was pretty keen on leaving arroz con pollo in Costa Rica where it belongs. But all this rain today has reminded me of that summer down down south in Central America (June is part of their wet season- it rained every afternoon like clockwork) and arroz con pollo tugged a little on my heart strings

(This is gallo pinto with toast, fruit, and coffee)

Now, the recipe I’m about to share is not authentic arroz con pollo. It’s an easy concoction I whipped up with ingredients I already had on hand. I’m not above using substitutions and taking shortcuts. It makes things a little more interesting!

(My mamatica served some bomb guacamole on the side of her arroz con pollo!)

Ingredients:

  • Skinless, boneless chicken tenderloins
  • Mojo marinade
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 Green bell pepper
  • 1 Red bell pepper
  • 1 Onion
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 pks Sazon
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked rice
  • 1 can diced/crushed tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf

Marinate chicken in Mojo. This step isn’t really necessary. If you like, you can just season your chicken with salt and pepper. But this entry is about using what you have on hand and I just so happened to have some unused mojo in my fridge. So I popped that bad boy open!

Meanwhile, chop bell peppers, onion, and garlic. I cheat and use pre-minced garlic. Saves me a little time and my hands don’t smell for days. Try not to slice your thumb off, which is exactly what I tried to do. Fortunately, I was not successful and a band-aid saved the day

Drizzle olive oil into a deep pan, preferably a dutch oven of sorts, set on medium-high. Toss in your chopped veggies and garlic and listen to them sing! Cook until everything starts to soften

Then add salt, pepper, and the 2 packages of Sazon (which can be found in the International or Mexican aisle of your local grocery store). This is what it looks like

Now add the marinaded chicken, cubed into bite size pieces. If you like, you can precook the chicken and shred it into the pot

Once the chicken looks about halfway cooked, add the can of tomatoes. At this point, you can also add the bay leaf

Pour in the wine and let bubble for a few minutes. Next, add the chicken broth. Bring to a roiling boil. Now add the rice

Finally, turn heat to low. Cover your pot and leave it alone for 25-30 minutes. Now, I know you’re going to be tempted to check on your little pot of gold, but it’s best if you don’t. This is because once you open that lid, you’re going to be tempted to stir everything together. That would be bad. That would be very bad. Stirring will not give you good arroz con pollo. It will give you sticky arroz con pollo- that’s sticky rice with chicken…not quite what we’re going for here. So, step away from the pot, head toward the living room, and watch the latest episode of Girls. Have a glass of some leftover wine while you’re at it!

See?! And you doubted me. Well, go ahead. You can give it a little stir now. Then scoop yourself a bowl and continue your afternoon HBO marathon. Bring on the next rainy day (probably tomorrow)!

Pura Vida!

Tijuana


Memorial Breakfast

I love breakfast for dinner. I love breakfast for lunch. Heck, I love breakfast for breakfast. Unfortunately, I’m one of those people prone to skipping early morning meals (I’m much too fond of that extra 15 minutes of sleep tsk tsk) so it’s a rare treat when I actually wake up, head to the kitchen, and crack open some eggs. Sometimes I even get inspired to whip up a pancake batter. But I have a secret. I am the worst pancake cook ever. I almost always ALWAYS burn them up. I think I get so excited about having pancakes that I keep turning up the heat (a no-no!) until it’s too late. Then I forget to learn my lesson and never turn the heat back down to its rightful position to cook perfect pancakes. This, folks, is why I invested in a waffle iron. It does the dirty work for me and I can focus on the bacon. Mmm. But today I wanted to give pancakes another go.

Since it’s Memorial weekend (and Sunday to boot), I figured today would be just the day to have a little breakfast in bed. Sort of. I don’t have any of those cute trays that you see on Mother’s Day commercials, but I believe in good old innovation. That’s what side tables are for. Am I right or am I right?

In my very good opinion, there’s no such thing as a good breakfast without bacon (or at least sausage if bacon can’t be found). I don’t know when my love for bacon emerged. I remember my first taste of crab legs. I remember my first taste of asparagus. I remember the first time I realized that coleslaw was an undiscovered delicacy! But I do not remember when bacon and I became lovers. I suppose it just always was and will always be. The reason I love bacon so much (you know, besides the fact that it tastes oh so good) is because you can pretty much add bacon to anything and improve it. Let’s make a list!

  • Bacon just on it’s own
  • Bacon crusted mac n cheese
  • Bacon flavored cupcakes (don’t knock it…)
  • Bacon wrapped asparagus
  • Bacon bits for salad
  • Nut and bacon brittle
  • Bacon dipped in chocolate

The list goes on and on and on and then on some more. Bacon also happens to shine quite divinely alongside some eggs. You see those eggs right there? Those are sunny side up eggs. I’ve never eaten them before which means I surely have never cooked them before. But there’s a first time for everything. I’ve never been much of a yolk person truth be told. My childhood was filled with fried egg white sandwiches thanks to my mom. That’s how she liked her eggs so that’s how I liked my eggs (I was quite the picky eater as a child- shocker, I know!). But now I’m more experimental and since today I wanted a semi-luxurious breakfast, sunny side up seemed like a good start.

Since I was frying up some bacon anyway… I went for it and cooked the eggs up in some of the leftover grease as opposed to butter. I guess this week is my glutton week, huh? We can start exercising again on Tuesday. And eating more fruits and veggies (there’s a zucchini in the fridge with my name on it). No worries! I decided to eat mine on toast with some cheese

As you can see, someone else decided to plop theirs onto a pancake. To each their own, to each their own

You know, the eggs really weren’t that bad. Not as runny and gooey as I imagined. Of course, my eyes were closed for each bite. Baby steps, okay? I didn’t burn the pancakes either! The syrup someone sent my way probably had something to do with the melt in your mouth taste, though. It was good, thanks! Overall, I’m pleased to say it was a very satisfying breakfast, and the milk was ice cold the way I like it.

Sunny side up eggs:

This was a lot easier than I expected. Warm up a non-stick skillet. I kept mine on medium-low since I tend to burn things. Also, the key here is slow cooking. Trust me on this one. I used a little bacon grease in my pan, but butter or a few tablespoons of canola/olive oil would do just fine. Once the grease is warm (not super super hot mind you) crack your egg into the skillet. I’ve heard that it takes practice not to break the yolk, but you’ll be fine. Mine didn’t break. I have confidence that yours won’t either. And that’s all she wrote! Let the egg and grease get to know one another, allowing the egg white  to firm up a bit. Once the whites start turning white, gently spoon the hot grease over the eggs and cook until they reach a consistency you’re comfortable eating. I cooked mine a little longer than necessary, but I have yolkphobia. I said baby steps!

As for the pancakes, I’ll share a recipe once I manage to perfect one. Did I mention pancakes aren’t exactly my forte?

Tijuana


Chai Town

Do you know what I’m craving? Some good ol’ chai. I know, I know. Maybe I shouldn’t be thinking about a nice warm, cozy cup of chai. It’s summer for goodness sake! It must be 80 degrees outside, 90 inside (we’re playing conservative and haven’t kicked the air-conditioner  on yet) and the humidity is playing havoc with my hair. I suppose I could whip up a soothing glass of iced chai. I much prefer my chai iced anyway. But that just will not do right now. You see, I don’t think it’s the chai at all that I’m craving. I think what I’m really missing right now is the crisp, cool weather that won’t be back again until October. That is, if we don’t have another mild winter (I really need to move to a place where it snows on the regular)! I’m pretty much melting here as I type, longing for cooler temps which would make drinking a hot cup of chai most appropriate. With a slice of spice cake. How about roasted marshmallows over a roaring fire in the den? I’m a December baby. Winter is in my blood folks.

Ah, this was a wonderful fall day. Look at the nice mule

Fortunately, I know the perfect remedy for my sudden autumn nostalgia that won’t involve pouring scalding liquid down my esophagus on this late May day. Cookies! Oh, and I’m not saying just any cookie. No ma’am, I’m talking chai cookies! Mmm won’t that be nice with a frosty glass pitcher of milk. I can taste it already.

Of course, it seems there aren’t very many cookie recipes out there that include chai concentrate. Pumpkin cookies with chai icing, yes. It just so happens that I’m plum out of pumpkin…and I really want some yummy chai please. So we’ll just have to cross our fingers and create our own recipe, thank you kindly.

No problem (or so she says…dun dun duuuuuuun)! So, some ingredients, yes? Dos tazas de harina, un huevo grande, una cuchardita de vainilla…Oh wait! Got Spanish on the brain, haha.

Ingredients en anglais:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp allspice (for autumn’s sake!)
  • 1 stick buttuh (to clarify, that is butter in a husky southern drawl)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp chai concentrate (I might have accidentally spilled a few extra tablespoons in there)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees please. Mix together flour, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and baking soda in one bowl. Cream together sugar and room temperature buttuh in another bowl. Then add egg, vanilla, chai concentrate, and if you’re anything like me, extra chai concentrate.

Now you can add the dry mixture to the wet mixture. Taste as you please before covering your bowl and popping it in the fridge for a bit. Go ahead and relax while you fantasize about your cookies just crying to be baked up.

Two minutes later

Five minutes later

Eleven minutes later

 How long before 30 minutes again…?

Seventeen minutes later

Twenty-five minutes is plenty of time! Some chocolate chips fell into my batter.

Spoon spoonfuls of cookie dough onto a cookie sheet (I understand if you end up eating a quarter of the batter. It happens to the best of us. It’s okay). Bake for 12 minutes or until the cookie looks like it might be done. Let cool and repeat!

Now, since this was the first time I ever made this recipe there is, of course, room for improvement. But my friends all seemed to like these little babies so we’ll file them away in my recipe book. Next time I think I might cut out the sugar and double the brown sugar. You know, just to play around a bit.

Enjoy!

Tijuana


Cow Tongue

No, this entry isn’t really about cow tongues. I’m not entirely sure that I’d be inclined to try a cow tongue, or any type of tongue for that matter. But today I did notice that I have a slight obsession with tongues. Well, with my own tongue at least. There I was sitting at my computer perusing Facebook for a decent profile pic (is that what it’s called?) to post here, when a pattern in my poses began to emerge. It seems I have a ferocious tendency of poking my tongue out…especially when within close proximity to food. Rather than chuck this up as some weird, freaky habit, I’ve concluded that it is indeed a survival mechanism. I just haven’t figured out what kind of survival mechanism yet…

Look! Here I am sticking my tongue out before making Chicken Fried Steak

Yup, and that’s me holding a turkey. With my tongue out. Needless to say, I know how to keep a dinner party classy

Anyway…besides my tongue obsession, I’ve also recently become obsessed with The Pioneer Woman. I  want her life! Live out in the country? YES! Live on a working ranch? YES! Husband that wears chaps? YES PLEASE! Oh oh pick me, pick me! Wouldn’t that be just divine? (insert longing sigh here). I haven’t been following her blog for very long (didn’t even know she was famous and had her own Foodnetwork show until about a week ago), but I’ve already tested out a few of her recipes. I think the appropriate term might be Pioneer Goddess. Her food is m mm mmm! Tonight I was inspired to make a slightly tweaked version of Marlboro Man’s Second Favorite Sandwich. It just might be my #1

You must please forgive the quality of my photos. My poor camera suffered a tragic accident some time ago and has yet to be replaced. Now I’m left with only the lowly quality of my trustworthy cameraphone. We make do, my friends, we make do!

Alrighty! Let’s start with some ingredients:

  • Chicken breasts, boneless and skinless (mine were also already thin sliced)
  • Lemon Pepper Seasoning (I used Mrs. Dash)
  • Baaaaacooooooooooon (that would be bacon)
  • Colby Jack Cheese (but any cheese of your liking would do, I’m sure)
  • Lemon juice (because I really really love lemon)
  • Pepper (to create our own pepper bacon since all I had was unpepper bacon)
  • Sandwich buns (I bet kaiser rolls would work out better)
  • Basil (I just happened to have some on hand)
  • (Maybe this entry should have been titled “parenthesis”)

(The basil and pepper are not pictured. Oops!)

Cook up the bacon on med-low! My chicken was still slightly frozen, so I had to give it a little bath while the bacon was sizzling away. And yes, I did add my own pepper

Sizzle sizzle sizzle sizzle

Originally, I was only going to cook half the pack…but the temptation to snack was too strong. Measures had to be taken and future breakfasts had to be sacrificed for the greater good of my taste buds. Look! You can kinda see the pepper

This is my dash-ified chicken and leftover bacon grease (hmmm, perhaps breakfast can be saved with biscuits and gravy? Nah, I don’t think so). I didn’t  pound my chicken flat because, frankly, I was a little lazy. Plus my breasts were already thin sliced. That counts, right? Note to self, invest in some wax paper

Pop chicken into slightly bacon-greased pan. I also added lemon juice here. Then some more later. And maybe even a touch more at the end. I’m telling you, I’m a lemon addict!

Can you smell it? Your kitchen has been transformed into heaven. Between the bacon and lemon pepper, I’m not sure which one smells more heavenly. When the time is right, flip chicken over and begin layering with bacon. What a marvelous idea!

Now add cheese and cover until everything is nice and bubbly. I swear my mouth is watering.

Isn’t that the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen? Patience, fellow foodies, almost done!

Assembly time! I tore up some of my basil and put it on my bottom bun.

Like lemon, basil is another great love of mine so I might have sprinkled some more on top, too

Oh, baby! You need to stop whatever it is you’re doing right now and go cook this up. It is the bees knees. The corn was pretty good, too. Nice and fresh!

Thank you Pioneer Woman! Gee, I want her cookbook soooo bad. I really love her step-by-step recipe guides. If only all cookbooks were so helpful, not to mention colorful. Now let’s talk about blogging for a second. I don’t think I like my theme very much. The color is nice and bright, but the page is so narrow. I’ll work on it folks. Just give me time.

Yay for first entry!

Tijuana