armadillas


To the birds

(Allison stuck the cake topper onto his chest)

My best friend left us for Seattle. Left us for good. So he can go study Comparative Literature in a cozy grad program. We’re all excited for him, and perhaps just a tad bit jealous. Needles to say, we had to throw a little get together since Seattle is on the other side of the country. No more driving down the street to see each other!

Originally, the get together was supposed to be some sort of potluck, cookout thing. But it rained. And for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to try out a gnocchi recipe I had. Bad idea. The gnocchi didn’t exactly turn out, and it’s not really cookout food either, is it? But that’s okay. I managed to do something resourceful. See, the best friend decided to make quinoa salad.

I don’t know about you guys, but in my very good opinion the quinoa he brought into my home looked like a bag of birdseed. I was not excited, not at all. But I watched him cook it up. He roasted a red pepper to chop up into it and opened a can of beans. It now looked like fluffed up birdseed mixed with veggies. Poor guy! He didn’t make a sauce/dressing to go with it and that quinoa was one of the plainest things I’ve ever tasted. It wasn’t bad per say, but as bland as a econ book.

When I discovered the stuff sitting in my fridge the next day untouched, I decided something had to be done. It already had red peppers and limes, why not continue a southwest theme? Only problem was a lot of recipes I found called for lime and I had just used the last of my limes not too long ago. Same goes for my lemons. But I had some Greek yogurt. And some BBQ sauce.

I also had a couple tomatoes from the garden. I’m not that much of a gardener, but I encourage everyone to buy a tomato plant. Right now. Do it! So delicious and I’ve never been one to just bite into a tomato

A little more BBQ sauce and we were in business.  The quinoa was now reminiscent of a chopped BBQ salad I’d had at a couple restaurants. Not too shabby for something meant for birds…

I also made up some of these muffins because I had no idea they existed. Reese’s are my favorite candy, especially the holiday ones. Oh. baby!

Here’s to lasting friendships!


Bees knees

Like I said, the Alfredo deserved a post unto itself. It was creamy like I wanted. The peas added great color. And of course, the bacon provided a nice crunch and amazing flavor. Here’s to bacon!

But seriously, this was so easy to make and yet seemed like such a fancy meal. Perfect for someone’s special birthday dinner. Of course, it would have been even better if there had been shredded cheese on hand, but the stuff in that bottle/can thingy worked just fine…though, I am out of Parmesan now. Boo! Time to go to the market again

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of pasta (I used penne)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 cups Parmesan, preferably grated
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 package bacon
  • 1/2 bag frozen peas
  • Pepper to taste
  • Fresh basil

Cook up the bacon (chopped up)! Which in my opinion is the best part of the dish. I admit I have a problem…

Melt the butter in a large pot. Make sure it’s big enough to hold all your pasta later. In the meantime, boil your pasta in separate pot

Once your butter has melted down, add the cream. Oh, and keep in mind that we don’t want burnt up cream so keep your heat on medium to medium-low. Whatever you’re comfortable with

After only a couple minutes, it’s okay to add the cheese. Stir stir stir! Terrible picture if I do say so myself

Your cheese is getting all melty and your sauce is thickening up. Squeeze in the lemon juice! Mmmm

I’m not adding salt to mine, but I’m pretty generous with the pepper

Toss in the peas please. I bet broccoli would be great in this. Ooh, or some chopped up red peppers. Ideas…

It doesn’t take too long for your peas to warm up, just a few minutes. By now, your pasta should be done. Drain and dump in right into your Alfredo pot

Now for my favorite part. Add the bacon. How exciting!

Because the basil in your box garden is going crazy, sprinkle some on top

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

 

Ah, now that’s some good pasta. All is right in the world for a glorious moment with my fork in my mouth.

Tijuana


Crazy curls

Guess who just went grocery shopping for only 80 bucks! Uh huh, that’s right! Way to shop on a budget.

Also, check out my mini harvest. My garden  may not be doing so hot this year, but it sure is exciting to go out there and pick a few things from the yard

Also, yesterday my dad took me to a Puerto Rican restaurant called La Palmera. Funny story is we’ve been meaning to go for nearly ten years now. Better late than never I guess.  We ordered the Pollo Frito, which came with rice and beans. Oh, how I love Puerto Rican rice and beans. My dad gave me a recipe sent from a friend of his and I’m determined to master it. I also tried their beef and cheese empanadas, which was pretty good. Dad order me a pastel to take home and try to. I can’t say I was the biggest fan of the pastel, but it wasn’t too bad.

I wasn’t expecting actual fried chicken when the menu said pollo frito, but I probably should have. It was still pretty good. The beans weren’t too shabby either

I think my dad said you could eat the banana leaf wrapping, buuuuut I didn’t really care for it. Anyway, now that there’s food in the house, I’m going to have to get creative with some recipes these next couple weeks. I bought mostly meat. I love my veggies, but I LOVE my meat. Maybe I’ll become a butcher one day. Could you imagine it? I’ll call my shop Hot Chops and paint the sign bright pink! I’m sure it would be a hit.Tonight my friends are coming over and cooking some curry. I think I might pull some fish out for tomorrow. It’s been awhile since I’ve tried my hand at fish. I wish I had some mussels! I just discovered not too long ago how much I like mussels. Clams not so much…

 


Suren buried

Catastrophe! My tomato garden has been devastated by a flock of birds. I noticed it about a week ago and decided to put up a net to keep them out. But those little buggers are still getting in! It’s terrible. Practically my whole harvest has been ruined. Hopefully better luck next year. But my peppers sure are popping up. I didn’t think they were going to make it, but so far so good. I like peppers better than tomatoes anyway. Hmph! But this minor tragedy is not going to stop me from making up some calzones!

Mmm. One of my favorite things in the world is a calzone. I have fond memories of eating calzone. Back in high school I was pretty involved in theater (surprising, I know). After every show, we always went to Vincenzo’s for dinner because they were open late unlike all the other small-city restaurants in the area. It also might have had something to do with the fact that they had five dollar calzones. At least, that’s why I went anyway. Plus, my dad knew the owner (do Sicilians stick together, haha?). Oh, and they were big calzones. I mean, where can you find a decent calzone for only 5 bucks nowadays? Please let me know!

I may or may not have borrowed bits of this recipe from The Pioneer Woman. After all, she is sorta my cooking idol at the moment. Usually I prefer pepperoni and ham as a filling, with banana peppers thrown in every once in awhile. But this time I decided to use mild Italian sausage. I’m still partial to pepperoni, but the sausage wasn’t too bad. Use whatever fillings strike your fancy! This could easily be converted into a vegetarian meal. Just load up on the veggies. Mmmmm

I think we all know my feelings about dough. If you want to find a recipe to make yours from scratch, by all means go for it (and don’t forget to share!). But today I’m going to use dough from a box- just add water and let rise! If you like, you can also buy pre-formed dough. Whatever works best for you.

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion
  • 1 tbs garlic, minced
  • 1 lb ground Italian sausage
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning (or a blend of whatever you have on hand)
  • 12 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 tbs basil/parsley blend
  • 1 egg
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 recipe/box/store bought pizza dough

Don’t forget an extra egg to make an egg wash. If you’re making your dough from a box like me, follow the instructions. More likely than not, you’ll need to put the dough in an oiled bowl to rise. Be sure to cover!

Heat a skillet to medium heat and add the sausage. Dice an onion and throw that in along with some garlic. Don’t forget the garlic. I’m pretty sure I add garlic to everything. There’s no need for any added oil. The meat has enough fat in it not to burn

Once the meat is all nicely browned up and the onions translucent, add the Italian seasoning and the crushed red pepper flakes

Okay, let’s move on to the ricotta. You can’t have a calzone without ricotta…otherwise it’s a stromboli! In a medium bowl take all your cheeses and mix ’em up. I like the salty bite that Parmesan has, but you can up the mozzarella if you prefer

Now crack in your egg and add the remaining spices. Don’t be afraid to taste it. A little raw egg won’t kill you (hopefully…)

By now, your meat should be done. Drain any excess grease, pat dry with a paper towel, and toss into ricotta mixture

Looks yummy, right?! Actually, it doesn’t look appealing, but it sure does taste good! Time for assembly. Take your risen pizza dough and roll it out as thin as you can. I wanted to make two calzones instead of one big one, so I divided my dough in half

It looks like a heart! That one must be for the lover

Spoon filling onto dough

Fold dough over so that you have little crescent shapes. Trim around the edges and crimp. Or you can use a fork to seal it all together. Then beat and egg and brush it all over your little babies

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes depending

Yummmm

Tijuana