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I like to move it, move it

September 14, 2010 Leave a comment

When you make recipes of the sort I’ve been posting on this blog, you have to find new and creative ways to burn off the calories so the waistline doesn’t expand. For me, that could include running, yoga, cardio classes, and my all time favorite, the Turbo Jam series.

If you’ve never seen it, here’s a good video with excerpts of routines from Cardio Party Mix 1 and 2 and Punch, Kick, and Jam.

Turbo Jam is fun way to get the heart pumping; it’s got great choreography is mixed with dancey music and you have the option to step things up or keep things low impact. Lots of punches, kicks, jumping, and abdominal work. By the end I’m always sweating and feeling great. Awesome for those days when I really don’t want to leave the house again to drive over to the gym. Pop in any of the DVDs, and get to sweatin’. Two thumbs up!

I found out the other day that training to become an instructor in the studio version of this class will be held in my area in November. It’s definitely something to ponder for the next two months 🙂

Categories: Health and Fitness

Puerco Pibil… it was worth it

September 11, 2010 2 comments

Cochinita pibil (also known as puerco pibil) is a traditional Mexican slow-roasted pork dish from the Yucatán Península. Preparation of traditional cochinita or puerco pibil involves marinating the meat in strongly acidic citrus juice, coloring it with annatto seed, and roasting the meat while it is wrapped in banana leaves.

When I have the time and the energy, I like to try recipes that take a little extra effort. Sure, buying spices in powder or paste form is quicker and easier, but where’s the fun in that? Traditionally, one can use what’s known as a “molcajete” (pronounced molca-he-te) in grinding up spices into powder form. Here’s a picture of one (very similar to a mortar and pestle but seasoned from years of use):

Traditional molcajete, used to grind up spices

Unfortunately, I do not have a molcajete in the house, so I went a more conventional route – I used a small coffee grinder. Worked just as well, let me tell you 🙂

The hardest part of the preparation was actually locating the spices used in this dish. It wasn’t so bad finding peppercorns, allspice, cloves, and cumin seeds, but the annatto seeds were scarce. Annatto seeds (also known as achiote) give dishes a nice red color. They don’t really provide much flavor, just asthetics.

I went to two major grocery stores and two mom and pop shops. It wasn’t until I hit the last mom and pop shop where I scored the annatto seeds. It’s like gold to me as a result.

Spices!

Spices pulverized into powder... cool coloring

The traditional recipe calls for peppers… most people use habaneros for that extreme kick. I’m not a pepper person, so I left it out. Chop them up and use them if you like the fi-yah. Since no peppers were in evidence, I gave it another kind of kick; a splash of tequila in the mix. Just a splash is needed, so one of those little itty bitty bottles served on airplanes did the trick:

No Don Julio? Patron will suffice 🙂

Ok, enough chit-chat; here is the recipe I followed:

Ingredients:

  • 5 tbsp annatto seeds (also known as achiote seeds)
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp peppercorns
  • 8 allspice
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 2 tbsp salt (kosher salt works well)
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • juice of 5 lemons
  • banana leaves (to layer in the pan)
  • splash of tequila (for that little extra something)
  • Pork butt (also known as Boston butt), 5 lbs cut into 2 inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar

Directions:

  1. Use a coffee grinder to grind up the spices into a fine powder. It’ll take a little time because the cloves look like little twigs. In a blender, add orange juice, lemon juice, ground spices, tequila and garlic cloves and blend for a minute or two.
  2. Put the cut up pork and the mixture from the blender into a freezer bag and let the mixture coat the meat.
  3. Put a layer of banana leaves in a cake pan, add the pork, and then put another layer of banana leaves. Cover with aluminum foil.
  4. Pop into the oven at 325 degrees for four hours. Seriously, four hours is what it takes when using banana leaves. It’s worth it, trust me.

Puerco Pibil spiced up and ready for the oven

And 4 hours later… the verdict is in. Very tasty and tender. My husband loved it and I did too. I’m glad I tried it.

Puerco Pibil and Fideo... gooooood stuff

Believe it or not, Robert Rodriguez (director of El Mariachi, Desperado, and Machete) inspired me to make this. I caught his “10 minute Cooking School” series and he demonstrated his version of this dish. Excellent stuff.

Chocolate cupcakes and peanut butter icing

September 11, 2010 Leave a comment

Another Ina Garten masterpiece (at least my husband and I think so). I got this recipe here:

I.loved.these.cupcakes. That is all.

Ingredients

  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons brewed coffee
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup good cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Kathleen’s Peanut Butter Icing, recipe follows
  • Chopped salted peanuts, to decorate, optional

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and 2 sugars on high speed until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. Lower the speed to medium, add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla and mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, and coffee. In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. On low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and the flour mixture alternately in thirds to the mixer bowl, beginning with the buttermilk mixture and ending with the flour mixture. Mix only until blended. Fold the batter with a rubber spatula to be sure it’s completely blended.

Divide the batter among the cupcake pans (1 rounded standard ice cream scoop per cup is the right amount). Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, remove from the pans, and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Frost each cupcake with Peanut Butter Icing and sprinkle with chopped peanuts, if desired.

Kathleen’s Peanut Butter Icing:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream

Place the confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as you work. Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.

The end result:

Chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter icing... heavenly

Categories: Desserts recipes

Chicken Piccata… the short short version

September 8, 2010 Leave a comment

Chicken Piccata - quick, fast, and easy

This is a down and dirty version of the old favorite. I happened to look in the freezer and saw three sad boneless chicken breasts hanging out in a bag. Upon investigating further in the cupboard, the discovery was made of the exact ingredients to make this tonight. Resplendent, no emergency trip to the grocery store! (I’ve been cursed with a head cold for the past five days and don’t really want to venture out. Also, did you catch the King of the Hill reference? Classic episode).

Ingredients:

  • Olive Oil
  • Boneless skinless chicken breasts (3 will make six servings)
  • flour (for dredging)
  • bread crumbs (I used the Italian variety tonight)
  • 2 eggs (beaten and put in a bowl)

Directions:

  1. If you’ve never made Chicken Parmesan or Piccata from scratch, here is the reason why 3 will make 6 servings… you have to pound the bejeezus out of the breasts. I use a rolling pin. Put a chicken breast either between two sheets of parchment paper, a freezer bag, or plastic wrap. Once in, get to pounding until the breast is maybe 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Slice it in half.
  2. Heat up a frying pan with the olive oil.
  3. While oil is heating, dredge one of the pieces of chicken in the flour, then in the egg, then coat with the breadcrumbs.
  4. Place in pan and let cook 4 minutes per side. It’s quick because the chicken is very thin.
  5. Enjoy when done.

Some folks like making a sauce made from butter and lemon juice for the piccata; others prefer a marinara based sauce. There’s really no wrong way to go here, just depends on your preference. Erik likes it in a sandwich (weirdo).

Pair with a nice salad and you’re set 😀

Movie review: Machete

September 5, 2010 Leave a comment

(Click the “Watch on Youtube” link)

“Machete don’t text”.

Ok, from the start, if you are looking for a serious, romantic, or teenybopper movie to watch, this ain’t it. If you don’t mind cartoonish violence, entrails, and severed heads, then step right on in.

Machete is played by Danny Trejo, a character actor of few words. He’s joined by a cast including Robert De Niro as a crooked politician hell bent on creating an electrified border wall, Jeff Fahey as a mysterious man of bad connections, and Steven Seagal as a very bad representation of a narco. Plenty of eye candy in the casting of Michelle Rodriguez, Jessica Alba, and Lindsay Lohan. Plus some nurses with machine guns, so there’s something for everybody.

In the case of Rodriguez, she’s a badass as usual. Pretty sympathetic character, which is unusual for me to see. Even thought she could kick my ass ten ways to Sunday, I think she’s cool. Lohan doesn’t really do much other than show off her boobs, but that’ll appeal to the young horny males obviously. Alba I could have done without. What about casting Salma Hayek instead… Erik and I both agreed that that would have been much better. And I still don’t know how she managed to stay upright in the stilettos she favored in just about every scene.

Trejo isn’t really meant to be a leading man, and it’s pretty obvious in his acting. He seems nervous in some scenes, not so in others.

Watch for Cheech Marin in a cameo that’s pretty interesting. It’s always good to see Cheech.

Overall, I liked this movie. It’s a straight up Grindhouse popcorn flick with boobs, guns, and violent bloody endings for a lot of characters. Plus, it puts an interesting spin on the immigration debate from both sides. It’s pretty obvious what Robert Rodriguez’s standpoint is on immigration reform, and I’m glad that it comes through loud and clear in this film. What’s also obvious is he had fun with this one.

It’s a Texas movie with a Texas-sized cast. De Niro is hamming it up from beginning to end, and it’s cool to see him not taking himself so seriously. Seagal needs to go back and re-learn his Spanish because it sucked. Horrible accent through and through.

Rated R for a good reason. Kids shouldn’t watch this because I’d say it’s just as violent as Planet Terror. Unfortunately, I saw a mother bring her toddler into the theatre, and that’s just all sorts of wrong. But that’s a blog for another time.

Categories: Movies

Cats… they’re just funny

September 2, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s been a long few days. First week of school, and the sleep schedule is just a tad off. Takes time to adjust to a new schedule I guess.

I will have to say that waking up with a large purring feline taking up most of my pillow real estate and sniffing my hair is quite interesting. I think she likes the shampoo because it smells like mint and cats LOOOOOVE them some mint. She’s funny that way, loves being with her humans, but only on her terms. Otherwise you can find her in her secret lair, otherwise known as the master bedroom closet. This is where we put a box on its side and threw in some old clothes. It’s her nest, I guess.

Here are some more funny cat videos that brightened my day. The thing about cats is they’re fricking hilarious even though they’re not even aware of it about 99.9% of the time.

Enjoy.

Categories: Critters
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