Mexican Beef Stew

We still had some stew meat from when we bought 1/4 of a cow from Larry’s sister.  Larry wanted me to make chili with it, but I wasn’t in the mood for chili.  So I compromised and made a Mexican beef stew instead.  It was similar to chili, but not as thick.  My sauce for the chili was a spicy Mexican adobo sauce.  It was full of flavor and just hit the spot.

Adobo is both a cooking style and a dish.  It is both Spanish and Filipino in origin.  Before the Spanish voyaged to the new world and the Pacific, they were making dishes and preserving meats that were similar to the Filipino adobo style, which was done with vinegar and salt.  When the Spaniards went to the Philippines, they made adaptations and combined what they were already doing with the Filipino methods, to create what is now known as adobo.  The first record of an adobo dish was in 1613, from the Spaniard Pedro de San Buenadventura.   The Filipinos had been preserving meats like this for centuries, long before the arrival of the Spaniards, though there were no written records of these methods.

The Filipino method of adobo-style cooking was to preserve meats in a combination of vinegar and salts.  The Spanish introduced foods from the new world, such as tomatoes, garlic, onions, chilies, peppers, herbs and spices.  In the Mexican-style adobos, chilies are the main focus, usually including 3 or more different types of chilies in the mixture.  An adobo can be a dry rub or it can be made into a paste or a sauce.   I have to say, I am not well versed in the Filipino style of cooking, but I am very familiar with the Spanish and the Mexican ways of cooking, and do so quite often.  My adobo beef stew was cooked Mexican style, a la Jeanne.  I served it over a combination of rice and corn, along side  some sauteed zucchini, crookneck, onions and garlic.  To finish it off, I added a smooth pinot noir, making everything just perfect.  The smooth fruity flavor combinations of the pinot noir were a perfect combination for the spiciness of the stew.

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Mexican Adobo Beef and Mushroom Stew

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2 lbs beef, cut into cubes

salt & pepper to taste

3-5 chipotle chilies, with sauce, minced fine

1 TBSP garlic

olive oil

1 shallot, chopped fine or sliced very thin

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

2 cups chicken broth

1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced – use any combination or variety of mushrooms you like

2 tsp sugar

1 TBSP dried oregano

1 TBSP spiced cocoa powder

2 tsp Mexican chocolate

2 cups baked beans – optional

chopped cilantro and/or parsley for garnish

 

Coat the meat with salt and pepper and brown it in the olive oil.

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While the meat is cooking, make your adobo paste, by mixing all the spices, peppers, and vinegar together.  I had some leftover baked beans that I added as well, but this is optional.  It gave the stew a more hearty quality, plus it used up my leftovers.  Once everything is combined well, add the sliced mushrooms and combine thoroughly once again.

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When the meat is completely browned, add it to the mixture and combine well.  Then pour the contents into a slow cooker.  Pour the chicken broth over the mixture and mix everything together thoroughly.

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Cook the stew at a medium temperature for about 2- 2 1/2 hours, or until the meat is tender.  When the stew is done, serve over rice or potatoes.  !Desfruitas!

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The Stadium Game at the Air Force Academy – The Av’s vs The Kings

Hockey is BIG in our house.  Larry is a huge hockey fan, and he still plays too.  We go to a lot of Avalanche games.  We proudly support the burgundy and blue rainbow.  Normally we go to the games at the Pepsi Center, home of the Av’s, but this time, the Av’s were playing an outside game at the Air Force Academy, down in Colorado Springs.  We had never been there before.  It was a beautiful stadium.  It was also nice to support our Air Force and to see all the love they got and so deserve.

Colorado Springs is about 1 1/2  hours south of us. It is usually a nice pleasant drive.  There is a lot of construction on the freeway at the moment, so the drive down took us a little longer than it normally would, but that’s OK.  We didn’t mind.  It was still a pleasant drive.  We stopped for lunch at Red Robin first, then picked up our friends Brian and Peter so we all could carpool together.

The drive down to the Springs.

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The Air Force Academy.  It was such a beautiful sight and a gorgeous location.

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Before the game started, there were some fun fan appreciation things to see.  You can’t see all our signatures on our jerseys, but we each have about 50.  We are loyal Av’s fans.  The Oscar Meyer Weinermobile and the Planter’s Peanutmobile were both on hand so we had to pose with them.

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Peter photo bombing us.

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And the real stars of the game, our Fly Boys, our American heroes.

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After all the fan appreciation activities, it was time to head down to the rink.

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As you can see, we were all bundled up.  It was pretty darn cold, and only got colder as the night fell.  We all had heavy jackets, gloves, hats, AND blankets and we were still cold.  My feet were blocks of ice..

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Let the game begin.  The good guys – The Colorado Avalanche

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The bad guys – The L.A. Kings.  It was a good game, but the bad guys won, 3-1.

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This was SOOOOOOOO cool!!  A skydiver landing in the stadium carrying the flag all the way.  Sorry for the poor quality.  He was jumping out of a plane and was probably about 1000 feet up at this point.  God bless the USA!  May this flag forever wave.

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Another adventure after the game was finding our car.  We searched the parking lot for about 20-30 minutes before finally finding our car.   Once we found it, we sat motionless for at least another 30 minutes before being able to inch our way out of the parking lot.  We left the house about 12:30 PM and did not get home until about midnight.  It was a long, but fun day, even if our boys in burgundy and blue lost.

 

 

 

 

 

A Valentine’s Dinner

I hope you all had a very good Valentine’s Day with the one or ones you love.  We tend to stay home and celebrate at home rather than go out and do the traditional Valentine celebrations.  I don’t buy or get flowers on Valentine’s Day because my birthday is literally just the week before and the flowers are 1/2 the price if I get them on the 7th rather than on the 14th.  I don’t need chocolates, I am already way too fat as it is.  And I can cook just about everything we would get in a restaurant, and usually better.  So, we stay home and I cook something special for us here at home.  Or sweetheart meal was Moroccan spiced roasted chicken over couscous and roasted vegetables.  It was warm and exotic, with a slightly spicy accent, that was loaded with deliciousness.    Because this was a tomato and spiced sauce, I served it with a smooth red which made them perfect dinner companions.

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Moroccan Spiced Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

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1 chicken cut into parts, or  4 Cornish game hens cut in 1/2

1 1/2 TBSP salt

2 TBSP garlic

1/4 honey

1/4 cup lemon juice

2-3 TBSP olive oil

2 TBSP paprika

4 tsp cumin

2 tsp ginger

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 TBSP za’taar – optional

1 tsp black pepper

2 zucchini, sliced

1 yellow squash or crookneck, sliced

1 parsnip, peeled and sliced

1 onion, medium dice

1 red or orange bell pepper, medium dice

4 medium tomatoes, medium dice – I used heirlooms this time.  I just love heirloom tomatoes.

1 can chicken broth

2 TBSP each, fresh mint, fresh parsley, and fresh cilantro, chopped fine

 

Preheat the oven to 425*F.

Line a deep roasting pan with aluminum foil.

Mix all the spices, honey, lemon juice and olive oil together.  Toss the vegetables in with the spice mixture, then remove them from the sauce and spread them evenly over the bottom of the roasting pan.

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Coat the chicken with the sauce and place the chicken pieces over the vegetables and pour the remaining sauce over the chicken and vegetables.  Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and place in the oven to roast for one hour.  Remove the foil covering, and baste the chicken with the liquid.  Place the pan back into the oven, uncovered, and continue to roast for another 30 minutes or until the chicken is browned and the vegetables are tender.  Baste again as needed.

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While the chicken is cooking during the 2nd phase, cook some couscous and heat up either some naan bread or pitas.  When the chicken is done, serve it over the couscous and top with the vegetables and juice.  Garnish with the chopped herbs.  The end result …. pure heaven.  The chicken is so moist and tender and the vegetables just melt in your mouth.  This is one sweetheart of a meal to share with all those you love.

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Happy Valentine’s Day

February 14 is the designated day of love around the world, and has been since the Middle Ages.  Valentine’s Day has its roots as far back as the Ancient Romans, with their Lupercalia festival, which was a fertility festival that celebrated the coming of Spring.  There were fertility rites and men and women were paired together through a type of lottery.  All this changed though at the end of the 5th century BC, when Pope Gelasius replaced the pagan fertility festival with the Christian version of St. Valentine’s Day and Feast, which was always held around the middle of February.

Who was St. Valentine and why is he celebrated by lovers around the world?  Well, no one really knows.  There are different theories of who St. Valentine really was, since there were a quite few priests with similar names and various backgrounds at that time.  The most romantic theory of who Valentine was and why he is celebrated for and by lovers is that he was a Catholic priest who served in the 3rd century BC.  During this time, Claudius II was the Emperor of the Ancient Romans, and he believed that young single men made better soldiers and warriors than married men, so he outlawed it for young men to get married.  Valentine was against this ruling and secretly married young lovers anyway, despite the Emperor’s decree.  Eventually, Claudius found out what Valentine was doing and sentenced him to death.  Sadly, all the other Valentines and variations of that name, were sentenced to death by Claudius II as well, only making the namesake and the reasons behind the canonization of Valentine even more mysterious.

Valentine greetings have been around ever since, and were very popular among young lovers as far back as the Middle Ages, although the written verses were not popular until the 17th or 18th century.  So wherever you are, celebrate the day of love with all those you hold dear.  Today is the day of love.  How you celebrate is as individual as you are.  Make it special, no matter how you celebrate your love or who you celebrate with.

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Here are some fun ways I like to share the love.

With my fur babies.

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With friends and family and of course WINE.

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Kissing a scuba diver, especially when he is my scuba diver.

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However you celebrate, and whomever you celebrate with, Happy Valentine’s Day.

Southern Fried Chicken and the Fixin’s – Part 2

The fixin’s are just as much a part of what makes a meal as the mains are.  The fixin’s I served with my fried chicken were baked beans Baked Beans for the BBQ and some roasted parsnips and carrots.   Everything went together very well to make for a complete Southern meal.  YUM, YUM!

Parnsips are root vegetables and are in the same family as all other root vegetables, like yams, beets, turnips, carrots, rutabagas, onions, garlic, daikon, radishes, ginger, jicama and Jerusalem artichokes.  They are called root vegetables because they grow underground and get their nutrients from the soil.  Parsnips look like white carrots, and though they are similar and are cousins, they are from different families.  Carrots are sweet, and are often eaten raw, whereas parsnips are spicy, with a flavor that is reminiscent of both cinnamon and nutmeg.   Parsnips are not really eaten raw, though I suppose they can be, as long as you are prepared for a very strong spicy flavor and chewy texture.

Parsnips are often used either with carrots or potatoes, but can often be used interchangeably with either carrots or potatoes as well.   I mixed my parsnips with carrots, pearl onions, garlic and herbs then roasted them to perfection.

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Herb Roasted Parsnips and Carrots

1 large parsnip, peeled and cut Asian style or at an angle

2 carrots, peeled and cut Asian style

1 tsp each fresh thyme, fresh oregano and rosemary, chopped fine

salt & pepper to taste

1 TBSP garlic

1/2 cup peeled pearl onions

1/4 cup water

2 TBSP butter

olive oil

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Preheat the oven to 325* F.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Mix all the ingredients together, except the water, then pour out on the the foil in a single layer.  Add the water, pouring it evenly over the vegetables.  Cut the butter and randomly place on top of the vegetables.  Then cover tightly with another piece of aluminum foil.

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Bake for about 30 minutes, then remove the foil and let set for about 5 minutes before serving.  All these flavors combined makes for one DELICIOUS meal.  Sweet, with just a hint of spice and everything is very nice.

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Southern Fried Chicken and the Fixin’s – Part 1

My mother was a horrible cook.  She hated cooking and burned almost everything she ever tried to cook, with one exception.  She could really make good fried chicken.  After all, she grew up on good fried chicken.  She was from Southeast Texas.  I rarely make fried chicken, although I certainly know how, but why when I can get some very tasty fried chicken from Safeway.   Larry decided he wanted me to make some fried chicken instead of buying this time around, so he bought some drumsticks, and drumsticks only.  Why he only bought drumsticks is beyond me, but that’s what he bought.  That’s one reason why he is RARELY allowed to do the shopping.  There are plenty more, but ll save those for another time.  🙂

The South is famous for its fried chicken, so I wanted to make some Southern “fixin’s” to go with the chicken as well.  All in all, it was a pretty easy menu to make, especially since I had some baked beans in the freezer that I pulled out and added to the meal.  All I really cooked was the chicken and the vegetables.  For the baked beans, I just added some more sauce and reheated them in the oven.  Easy-peasy. Baked Beans for the BBQ  NO, my beans had not been in the freezer for all this time.   I made a new batch, but this was the recipe I used.  I served it with a dry white blend, because it was chicken, but any type of wine would work very well with this meal.

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Southern Fried Chicken

This recipe is enough for 12 pieces of chicken.

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The Wet Soak for the Chicken

 

3 cups butter milk – I use the dry buttermilk mixed with milk

2 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

 

Mix everything together and soak your chicken pieces for about 4 hours in the refrigerator before coating and frying.  Rotate the chicken a few times to make sure the pieces are completely saturated with the liquid mixture.  When the chicken is ready to coat, make your dredging mixture and coat the chicken thoroughly before frying.

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Dredging Mixture

3 cups flour

1/2 cup cornstarch

1 TBSP salt

1 TBSP paprika

2 tsp onion powder or dried onion

2 tsp dry roasted garlic

1 tsp each dried oregano, basil,

1 tsp white pepper

1 tsp cayenne pepper

vegetable oil for frying – about 3/4 of a quart

 

Mix all the ingredients together thoroughly and add the chicken pieces.  Make sure to completely coat the chicken pieces.

Heat the oil in either a deep skillet or a deep fryer to 350* F.  Slowly and carefully add the chicken pieces to the hot oil.  Do not over crowd the chicken.  You may have to cook  it in batches if you do not have a large enough skillet or deep fryer.  If you are frying the chicken in a skillet, cook it for about 14 minutes, rotating it about every 2 minutes to ensure it cooks evenly and does not burn.  If you are using a deep fryer, make sure it is completely covered by the hot oil and cook for about 8-10 minutes.  Under cooked chicken is not a good thing, and can make you very sick, so make sure the chicken is completely cooked, and the internal temperature is 165* F before eating.

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Once the chicken is completely cooked, remove it from the hot oil and place it on a plate with a paper towel to absorb the grease.  Let it set for about 10 minutes before enjoying it.

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How to Build a Pita

Pita breads are traditional Arabic and Middle Eastern flatbreads that have been around for about 14,500 years.  They have been around since the Stone Age, and were originally created by the Natufian people from the land that is now known as Jordan.  They are simple leavened breads and the basic ingredients are flour, salt, yeast and water.  There are two types of pita breads.  The first one is the pocket style pita, which is formed by laying a thin piece of dough on a convex sheet on an open flame.  The dough inflates because of the high heat, creating two layers of dough, and thus creating a pocket.  When the dough is cooked and is cooled, the dough deflates.  These are the pitas that are used for sandwiches, gyros and falafels.  The second type of pita is the thicker Greek style.  These are used to make chips out of and are also used for spooning dips or sauces.  Pitas can also be used as substitutes for eating utensils when none are available.

The leftovers were piling up in my fridge and we were running out of space and storage containiers, so it was time to clean out the fridge and use up some of those leftovers.  Usually Larry takes them in to work for his lunch, but sometimes, they start to pile up.  So you know what that means … it was time for the Queen to pay a visit.   We used up all kinds of good things and totally repurposed them from how they were originally cooked.  I had some leftover steak and some leftover Spanish pepper and parsley sauce that were just perfect for pitas.  I added some lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, and voila, pitas were made.

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I mixed the Spanish pepper and parsley sauce with some mayonnaise for my spread for the pitas, and sliced the steak very thin.  With a little lettuce,  some sliced tomatoes and redo onions, I had everything I needed to make a great tasting pita sandwich.  All that was left to do was to heat everything up and build my pita.

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Since I was using up leftovers and cleaning out the fridge, why not use up more stuff.  I had a some leftover couscous that was a perfect accompaniment to the meal, but it still just wasn’t enough.  It needed something else too.  I added the rest of my shrimp and corn bisque too.  No Grilling Today!  That completed the meal, especially since there was not enough to make it a meal on its own.

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From just a bunch of random leftovers, I created a yummy, healthy meal.  I also freed up some space in my refrigerator, which will allow me to create … more leftovers.  🙂