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Recipe: The lazy girl’s version of Baja Fish Tacos

January 30, 2011 Leave a comment

When the options of eating out (too lazy) and making something from scratch (too lazy combined with being tired from studying all day) are just not options, sometimes short cuts can be used. The caveat to this is that the short cut has to keep the deliciousness going.

I’d been promising my husband I would make Fish Tacos, but hadn’t delivered. So today, I decided to try my shortcut idea since I was also craving them. Normally I’d get them at my favorite joint (La Jaiba in McAllen, home of my favorite phrase, “Jaiba Nice Day”), but again, remember what I said about laziness. Full effect, no doubt.

Online I found more than a few recipes for one of the most important parts of a good fish taco… the sauce. Some folks like it spicy with peppers, others like it tangy. I like tangy. Observe the assembled ingredients for my favorite version:

Baja Fish Taco Sauce Ingredients:

  • 6 oz Greek Yogurt (I used one that was nonfat, and it worked out great)

 

Yoplait Greek Yogurt… in the perfect size.
  • 1/2 cup light mayo… Kraft’s Reduced Fat Mayonnaise with Olive Oil is my recommendation:

Kraft Reduced Fat Mayo with Olive Oil

  • 1 lime, cut in half
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
  • 1 TB minced cilantro

 

Baja Fish Taco Sauce Seasonings

Instructions:

Pretty easy… combine all the ingredients in a bowl, add the juice of the lime, and set in the fridge for an hour to allow the flavors to combine.

 

It looks "blah" but tastes "yeah!"

Ah, so about the shortcut… I decided this time not to go nuts with breading and working with fish. Enter my favorite alternative:

 

Use the oven for these... not the microwave!

One of my favorite things about these tacos is the addition of cheese. I love cheese. My tip: don’t get the shredded stuff, get the brick and shred it up. Such a big difference in taste and texture:

 

Monterey Jack cheese rules the world

So… bake the fish according to instructions. When you’re done, assemble the taco and get your sides ready (Cilantro Rice works very well along with frozen mixed vegetables). Corn tortillas are my preference, and I like a little avocado for topping. Overall, this is a light, flavorful meal that’s easy on the budget and big on taste.

And the end result… drum roll please…

 

Baja Fish Tacos... very tasty.

 

Game review: The Sims 3 (for PC)

January 18, 2011 Leave a comment

The Sims 3

In previous years I’ve attempted to figure out the appeal of The Sims. Ok, so they’re little people you control into having conversations and dancing and what not, right? It’s a little more than that, and highly addicting.

My experiences with gaming have had its ups and downs. Up with Rock Band, Tomb Raider, Tetris and Halo, down with pretty much anything else. In face, my husband Erik has tried numerous times to get me to play TF2 with him, but I just don’t see the appeal of running up and down the same places shooting folks in interesting ways. That’s just a personal preference, ya know?

Over the winter break, I thought about starting up a game that I could have the ability to just pick up for a few minutes here and there, save, and then come back to it later. Plus, it has to build to something and continue to do so. If you’re going to spend 50 bucks on a game, you want to be consistently entertained, right? That’s usually my criteria.

My husband suggested buying The Sims 3 while out shopping, urging me to give it a chance. I thought it over, and said ok cool. But if it sucks, you owe me fiddy bucks!

It does not suck.

You start out by creating your Sim. In addition to the physical characteristics that can be tweaked, there are personality characteristics that you can adjust. If you want your Sim to be Polite Patty, you can customize it that way. One of my earliest incarnations was a kleptomaniac. That was interesting, because she’d do this evil laugh for no reason and want to scare people and knock over trashcans.

Your Sim needs money, so you can get them a job around town. My latest Sim is a cop. She wears the uniform and brings home the patrol car every day, and catches the bad guys to get promotions. It seems like that makes her the happiest as far as careers go, so I’m just going with it. Also, you can either make your Sim immortal and allow them to age and die (become a ghost). One day you’ll be young, then have a birthday party, then turn gray and hunched over the next day. It’s all very tragic. I don’t want my Sim to die!

When your Sim is at home, you have to do chores, just like real life. Appliances break, toilets need cleaning, you have to keep things spic and span or your Sim will be unhappy. However, there are times when they get bitchy and refuse to clean. If you got the Simoleons, hire a cleaning person. My guy is named Mike and he comes in to clean when I’m out at work sometimes. Otherwise my Sim would live in a pigsty. I’d have to call Hoarders on her, no lie.

Overall, it’s a fun game. I like going in, playing for a half hour, then going and doing something else. To me, that’s a big part of the appeal. I also like that it’s not a game you need other people to play in. It’s just you and your Sim, and your goal of making him or her happy.

Categories: Gaming

Brined Roasted Chicken Recipe… a combination of things to make it delicious

January 16, 2011 4 comments

Brined Roasted Chicken... so tasty.

The last few Thanksgivings I have been using a brine to give the bird more flavor. Never tried it on chicken, though. Most people do the reverse with the chicken first, but I tend to do things backwards. So, I found a simple brine online that worked wonderfully to begin my ultimate roast chicken experiment.

Brine recipe:

  • 1 gallon of water
  • 3/4 cup kosher salt
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Stir it up in a stockpot and put Mr. Chicken in without the liver and gizzards. Leave in for 4 hours or more in the fridge. The idea is the longer you leave the bird in the brine, the stronger the flavor. This time around I got lazy and left it in for 24 hours.

In addition to the bird, I added some vegetables to roast along with the chicken. Chopped up onion, fennel, and carrots, drizzled with olive oil and salt and pepper, and the bird sat up on top going into the oven. 1.5 hours at 425 degrees. The chicken is done when the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh:

 

Roasted chicken before picture

 

Fennel, carrots, and onions... mighty tasty 🙂

 

Corn ready to be roasted in the oven for 30 minutes... love it.

Cover chicken for 20 minutes with foil to let it "rest" when it's done.

All Done!

 

In the words of the great Hank Hill:

Indeed… it was so juicy and tasty. Brining is such a wonderful thing 🙂

Movie review and a SOTD: John Woo’s The Killer (spoilers)

January 10, 2011 Leave a comment

When one thinks of a typical Hong Kong action flick, the name John Woo comes to mind as the godfather of all that and then some. I’ve seen a few of his flicks before (Face/Off and and Broken Arrow come to mind), but never been privy to the stuff he cut his teeth on.

Overall, I found the movie interesting in the types of over the top symbolism used. Some examples:

  • Doves, doves, doves everywhere
  • a church with candles all over… signifying what, peace, a fresh start, that everyone has good in them even assassins?
  • the kid having a moment with Chow Yun Fat’s character Ah John… the moment went wayyyyy too long in this reader’s opinion.

One of the overriding themes in this movie is the concept of brotherhood and friendship, and how you back your mates up even in the face of doom. Much is made of the friendship between Ah John and his handler, the two detectives, and finally Ah John and the cop bent on taking him dead or alive.

I didn’t like how weak the one female character was portrayed. Weak, and whiny. I hate seeing that. Not that females have to be kicking major ass round the clock, but give her some usefulness other than squeaking and being eye candy. Weak sauce.

Action is crazy in this movie. Guns, guns, guns, lots of bullet wounds, random Triad gang bangers flying through windows and over cars. What’s not to love, right?

If you’re looking for action with lots o balls, check it out.

Jen’s SOTD (The Melvins’ Hooch because it’s Monday and Mondays require angry songs)

And so being in that same spirit in the 12 hours since watching the movie, this song fits the bill nicely:

Categories: Movies, Music

Sometimes one has to admit to an addiction…

January 6, 2011 2 comments

Hi, my name is Jen, and I think I am addicted to Turbo Jam and Turbo Fire workouts. That is all.

 

I should buy stock in BeachBody.

Categories: Health and Fitness

Recipe: Enchiladas. The ways to make them are endless

January 6, 2011 2 comments

An example. Kinda look like El Pato enchiladas "tan tan!"

As requested, here is my post on enchiladas. Hope you enjoy 🙂

There are a few schools of thought to making these delicious works of gooey wondrousness:

  1. They can only be made using ground beef, chicken, or cheese. I have had them with carne guisado, molé, and hell, even potatoes. In other words, the filling is entirely up to you and your taste.
  2. You have to make the filling from scratch. Sure, you can roast a chicken in the oven, but that takes a while. Why not go get an original recipe rotisserie chicken from the supermarket, chop that sucker up, and use that? Ideas are forming, I can tell 🙂
  3. One can only use “authentic” cheeses. Queso fresco is something I can eat oodles of. But I’ve used Gruyere before, and it was exquisite. The trick to this is simply, if the cheese melts well, use it. Back in the day, my mother used to cut up cubes of Velveeta and use that for the filling and topping. I’m not advocating it, I’m just telling the story as it happened.
  4. Enchilada sauce is the only way to go. Not even. Try sauteeing some onion, throw in stewed tomatoes and seasoning, and let it all break down and cook for a while. Another Mom story: She would use Wolf brand chili (no beans) as the sauce with the aforementioned Velveeta cheese. Let’s just say I didn’t exactly go that route, but hey, if it floats your boat, try it. It’s not BAD tasting at all… why won’t you believe me???

For now, we’ll go with the notion that you want to use Enchilada sauce. McCormick’s has a good one in powder form that you can find at your local supermarket. All it requires is water and some tomato sauce, and let cook for five minutes. If all you can find is the canned stuff, hey, that’s ok. Sometimes one has to experiment to find the right combination for deliciousness.

Fiesta Seasoning (based in Texas) also has an Enchilada sauce powder I like to use (check it out, they even have a recipe on their site). Follow the instructions on the bottle and it’ll make some tasty sauce.

A good typical combination is shredding up a brick of Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheeses. Those will yield good, melty results.

So the basic way of making these bad boys:

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of corn tortillas (fresh from the tortilleria or the supermarket, it doesn’t matter)
  • Grated cheese – I really don’t like pre-shredded cheese because it seems like it’s too dry. Get a couple of bricks and grate them up. Big difference in taste.
  • Canola or Vegetable Oil
  • Enchilada Sauce – what kind is up to you.
  • Some sort of stuffing – ground beef, shredded chicken, fajíta, cheese, whatever’s clever.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a rectangle cake pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Get a frying pan and put enough oil to cover the bottom. Set it at about medium heat. It shouldn’t take long to heat up.
  3. Get your sauce, cooked stuffing (no raw meat here, people) and cheese ready. I like to put them in seperate containers and arrange things like a factory line. Makes things easier.
  4. Put some of the sauce in the  cake pan and sort of coat the bottom lightly. This will prevent the tortillas from sticking during the baking process.
  5. This bit is important… you will need a pair of tongs and hopefully don’t mind some burnt fingertips. Get a tortilla and put it in the oil. After 5 seconds, use the tongs to flip to the other side. Take tortilla out of the oil and let it rest on a paper towel-covered plate. This should blot out a lot of the oil. If you’re hardcore, get some of the stuffing and put it down the middle of the tortilla, then roll it up and take the pain of the burned fingertips. That’s how they do it in the old country!
  6. Put the rolled up stuffed tortilla seam side down in the pan and make a row until you’ve gotten as many as you wanted.
  7. Top with sauce and cheese. Cover pan with foil and put in the oven to bake for 20-30 minutes.

An example of how most folks line them up.

Now, some folks don’t use the oil if they’re using freshly made warm tortillas. I tend to think if you don’t use oil to fry them up, they will break apart very quickly. It’s up to you how you want to do it.

Try these sides to compliment the enchiladas. After this meal, you’re going to want to go out and get an accordion and a sombrero and go sing your songs of heartbreak and love to the customers at the local cantina. ARRRIIIIIBBBBBAAAAAA!

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