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Ropa Vieja recipe (with my revisions)

March 26, 2011 Leave a comment

Ropa Vieja over Jasmine Rice with a side of Charro Beans

Howdy. It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, but it’s been a busy time with work and traveling and what not. Today I decided to make Ropa Vieja, a Cuban beef dish that translates to “old clothes”. Very tasty. Originally, I used a recipe from the Goya website, but this time around I did some modifications that worked wonderfully.

Now, this dish does take a couple of hours to prepare and cook, but it’s worth it.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs beef skirt steak, sliced fairly thin (the original called for flank steak, but that’s way more expensive. It’s a good substitution)
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • Goya “Adobo with Pepper
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 green pepper, finely chopped
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 jar Goya “Sofrito
  • 2 big cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 can (8oz) tomato sauce
  • 1 packet Goya “Sazón with Coriander and Annatto
  • 1 packet Goya “Beef Bouillion
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 cup Spanish “Manzanilla” olives stuffed with pimiento, drained (may want to use less, according to taste)
  • 1 small jar capers, drained (may want to use less, according to taste)

Directions (modified by me):

  1. Heat up olive oil in large heavy-bottomed pot. Cut up meat in 1-2 inch pieces, season with Adobo, and divide up in two batches. You don’t want to add all the meat at one time because that much meat won’t distribute the heat properly. For both batches, cook meat for 5 minutes on on each side on medium heat. Place cooked meat on a plate and keep the heat going in the pot.
  2. Add green bell peppers and onion to the pot and cook up for 10 minutes.
  3. Add garlic, water, tomato sauce, Sofrito and black pepper to the onion and pepper mixture. Let cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add powdered beef bouillion and Sazon into the pot and then add the meat back in. Let cook for 45 minutes.
  5. Slice up olives and drain. Add them and the capers to the pot. Let cook for 1 – 1.5 hours (I just let it go for 1 hour).
  6. Shred up beef in the pot and turn off the heat.
  7. Serve over cooked rice… Jasmine works wonderfully. I also cooked up a batch of Crockpot Charro Beans. Yum!

And that’s all she wrote. So tasty and flavorful. My husband loved it and so did I 🙂

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!

Recipe: Caldo de Res (Tex-Mex style vegetable beef soup)

December 5, 2010 Leave a comment

This soup is definitely a favorite when the weather turns chilly. The great thing about it is is contains many different types of vegetables, and is broth based, not cream based. That means less fat and calories without sacrificing flavor, and that’s a plus.

To start with, you need a couple pounds of either beef oxtails or beef shank with the bone. Heck, even stew meat will work if you don’t have either:

Beef shank

Some stores carry a package that contains:

  • 2 carrots,
  • a potato,
  • a wedge of green cabbage,
  • a green zucchini squash (yellow summer squash is good too)
  • a yellow onion, and
  • 2 stalks of celery.

I liked this because it was way cheaper to buy this than buy bunches of this and that. Those (along with corn on the cob) make up the vegetable base of this dish.You will also need:

  • 3 cups of beef broth
  • Seasonings (salt, pepper, and garlic powder are cool)
  • 1 TB of cooking oil (canola or vegetable work well)
  • 1 TB of flour
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • (optional) – 3 TB of Knorr Caldo de Tomate powder. My husband loves this stuff, so I added it in for experimental purposes. If you’re looking for it at your local grocer, this is what it looks like:

Knorr Caldo de Tomate (powdered tomato bouillion)

Let’s begin:

  1. Chop up the meat, leaving some on the bones. Place the pieces in a big Ziploc bag with the flour, and shake it up. In a stockpot, heat up some oil, chop up the onion, and saute for a few minutes. Add the meat, salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and cook until browned.
  2. Add the beef broth and water until the liquid level is about 1/2 inch above the meat. Let cook on medium-low for about an hour until the meat is tender.
  3. Chop up the vegetables, and add everything except the cabbage (don’t want to overcook it). Let cook until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Add the cabbage, and let cook for another 10 – 15 minutes.

The finished result:

Homemade Caldo de Res, or Vegetable Beef Soup

This makes about 6 servings. My family likes to cook up some Spanish rice as a side to this. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and get some corn tortillas ready. Now you can rock and roll on a cold winter day.

Meatloaf and Roasted Potatoes

August 29, 2010 Leave a comment

Grad school is about to start again in a couple of days, so it’s very likely I won’t have as many opportunities to cook new and interesting things. So, I decided to use this weekend as a way of getting all my cooking joneses out for a bit.

I was watching Ina Garten’s show The Barefoot Contessa yesterday and it inspired me to make a traditional meal for dinnertime. Who doesn’t like meat and potatoes, right? On the bill is Ina’s Meatloaf and my own version of roasted potatoes.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 3 cups chopped yellow onions (3 onions)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup canned chicken stock or broth
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 1/2 pounds ground chuck (81 percent lean)
  • 1/2 cup plain dry bread crumbs (recommended: Progresso)
  • 2 extra-large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup ketchup (recommended: Heinz)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a medium saute pan. Add the onions, thyme, salt, and pepper and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent but not brown. Off the heat, add the Worcestershire sauce, chicken stock, and tomato paste. Allow to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, combine the ground chuck, onion mixture, bread crumbs, and eggs, and mix lightly with a fork. Don’t mash or the meat loaf will be dense. Shape the mixture into a rectangular loaf on a sheet pan covered with parchment paper. Spread the ketchup evenly on top. Bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, until the internal temperature is 160 degrees F and the meat loaf is cooked through. (A pan of hot water in the oven, under the meat loaf, will keep the top from cracking.) Serve hot.

The raw state:

Meatloaf before going in the oven

I would probably suggest chopping the onions a lot finer than I did for this recipe. It was very tender and juicy, and I think having the pan of hot water on the rack underneath the meatloaf makes the difference. I also think that it’s big enough for 8 – 10 servings, not six as she suggested. More servings = less calories, after all 🙂

For the roasted vegetables I chopped up a russet potato, sweet potato, and some onion, added a TB of olive oil and kosher salt and pepper, then combined it all together. Onto a cookie sheet sprayed with Pam for an hour at 400 degrees, and they come out moist and tender. Roasted corn on the cob complimented the meal very well.

Meatloaf with potatoes and corn

Spousal unit was pleased, I was pleased, life is good 😀

Quesadilla Casserole Recipe

August 9, 2010 Leave a comment

Quesadilla Casserole

When I’m at the grocery store, I like to look around for new products on display. Oftentimes, grocery stores will put out new items at reduced prices to see how popular they will become. Sunday, I went grocery shopping with my husband Erik and came across this:

McCormick Recipe Inspirations Quesadilla Casserole spice packet

It’s a pretty neat idea, in that you don’t have to buy each individual spice, they all come in the packet for the recipe. If you can’t find it, that’s ok. I’ll post the spice list 🙂

In a word, this was excellent. I’d have another piece, but then I’d hate myself later on. Modify ingredients if you like.

Ingredients (serves 8):

  • 1 lb ground beef (I used lean Angus because it was on sale)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cans (8 fl oz each) tomato sauce
  • 1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (8 3/4 oz.) whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 can (4 1/2 oz.) chopped green chiles, undrained (I used mild because I don’t like it to be too spicy)
  • 6 flour tortillas (8-inch)
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (Monterey Jack is awesome)
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (optional: I didn’t use them)

Directions:

  1. Brown beef and onion in large skillet on medium-high heat; drain. Add tomato sauce, beans, corn, and green chiles; mix well. Stir in all of the spices except Red Pepper. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer 5 minutes.  Add Red Pepper flakes if desired.
  2. Spread 1/2 cup of the beef mixture on bottom of 13x8x2–inch baking dish sprayed with no-stick cooking spray. Top with 3 of the tortillas, overlapping as needed. Layer with 1/2 of the remaining beef mixture and 1/2 of the cheese. Repeat with remaining tortillas, beef mixture, and cheese.
  3. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven 15 minutes or until heated through. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
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