You're in My Vacation Home Kitchen. Yeah, I'm wearing a driver's cap with Mickey Mouse ears. Jealous?
As if fate needed to remind me that there is balance in life, I was lucky enough to spend a week in sunny Florida … followed by a week with a cold once I was back home. This added up to two weeks without much time in the kitchen.
While in Florida, we rented a vacation home, complete with a hot tub, pool, and, of course, a large kitchen. Funny how your favorite room in the house is no longer where you want to spend your time once you can see a hot tub out the window, though. So we instead relied on easy meals and my favorite pizza place in Orlando, Giordano’s, for Chicago-style stuffed pizzas with spinach, broccoli, garlic and olives. Yum. Let’s go back right now.
The week following paradise was spent in the middle of a snowstorm back in Minneapolis, fighting off colds. When I’m ill, I immediately want lots of fresh fruit. And I drink an unreasonable amount of mint tea. After that, though, all signs of my normal eating habits are dead to me, as I can barely muster the energy to make it to the grocery store, much less cook. Continue reading →
I’ve had a craving lately that I couldn’t quite pin down. Then I realized: I want to eat spring.
Months of climbing through snow and missing quality time with the sun made me want to cook dishes that would trick me into believing it was springtime. If not all of me, then at least my tongue, and that’s a part of my body I try never to anger.
So I ran to the store without much of a plan and wound up with a new recipe: my Fresh Herb and Grain Salad. The fresh flavors come through in each bite, along with a great nutty texture, thanks to the mix of quinoa, farro and bulgur wheat. To add an extra bit of happiness and sunshine to the mix, I suggest eating this while riding a unicorn across a rainbow. Should unicorns have gone extinct by the time you read this, substitute a chariot led by puppy dogs and leprechauns.
As this was an eat-as-you-go kind of recipe, I just kept throwing in more dill and parsley until I was happy. Try the three grains out as a base for your own salad, then experiment with it and let me know if you like other herb combinations as well. The herbs are where almost all of your flavor is coming from, so be generous. I also tried this salad as a warm side dish, and it worked well. Just don’t cool the grains after you’ve cooked them if you’re going for that, then serve the leftovers as a cold salad later on.
Fresh Herb and Grain Salad
1 C quinoa
1 C bulgur wheat
1 C farro
4 oz. clover sprouts (or alfalfa sprouts)
3 T olive oil
1/2 bulb of fennel
handful of fresh dill
4 oz. fresh parsley
Salt and pepper, to taste
Prepare the quinoa, bulgur wheat and farro. I use a rice cooker for my quinoa, then rinse the farro and cook it in boiling water for about 15-20 minutes, throwing in the bulgur wheat about halfway through.
Meanwhile, juice both of the lemons and whisk with the olive oil. Mince the fennel bulb and finely chop the herbs and sprouts. Combine herbs and sprouts with lemon dressing.
Drain and cool the grains, then mix all ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with parsley.
Those enchiladas were delicious. And they were easy. But I still had some oopsies along the way. And so, in the grand tradition of that one other time I offered you my leftovers, today I give you my enchilada leftovers — the things that didn’t make the cut.
Mistakes are part of what make cooking fun. Enjoy mine.
Hello, friends. It’s Fat Tuesday. Let’s get fat together by eating a generous portion of delicious Mexican melting cheese.
Today I made my Layered Potato and Spinach Enchiladas for you. Why layered, rather than rolled? To cram in as much food as possible into a single baking dish. More food means more cheese. More cheese means more happy. Unless you’re lactose intolerant, in which case our definitions of true happiness likely differ a great deal. I’m a healthy eater, but, dude, I like cheese.
OK, I have a trick to make this not fattening at all, but you’ll have to watch the entire video to learn the six steps involved in getting there.
Layered Potato and Spinach Enchiladas
Layered Potato and Spinach Enchiladas
2 lbs. red, fingerling or purple potatoes (or a whimsical combination)
20 oz. fresh spinach or 2 10 oz. packages of frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 can of black beans
1 can of corn
half an onion, diced
1 T olive oil or vegetable oil
chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (optional)
serrano pepper (optional)
18 corn tortillas
2 10 oz. cans of enchilada sauce (I grab a 28 oz. can just to play it safe)
Boil the potatoes, whole and unpeeled, about 25 minutes.
Heat the oil and sauté the onions until glistening, about two minutes. Add the spinach and, if fresh, toss with tongs until wilted.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Chop one chipotle pepper and add to spinach mixture, as well as some of the adobo sauce. Slice the serrano pepper and add as well. Stir. If you’re feeling brave, add one more chipotle pepper. If you’re trying to impress someone with your heat tolerance, add the whole can. I will miss you.
Coat the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish with enchilada sauce. Layer six tortillas evenly. Coat lightly with more enchilada sauce.
Drain the potatoes and cool slightly. Either cut into 1-inch cubes or just break them up with a spatula. Throw them in a mixing bowl. Add the black beans, corn, cumin and chili powder. Stir well.
Add the potato mixture to the baking dish. Smash it in. We need room for a lot of food. Add cheese. Be generous.
Check your Tequila Fresca. Are you 1/3 of the way through? Try to keep up.
Add six more tortillas. Coat lightly with enchilada sauce. Layer the spinach mixture evenly on top. Smash it down. Add more cheese. Yes, be generous again.
We’re going into the later layer. Is your Tequila Fresca 2/3 gone? Go on. Catch up.
Add the last six tortillas. Tuck them into the dish if necessary. Coat with enchilada sauce. Don’t let any part of the tortillas remain exposed. Add the rest of the cheese. If you have extra cheese, reward yourself with nacho.
Cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil. Bake for another 10 minutes, ensuring cheese has had appropriate time to melt and hug other ingredients. Now you’ve got 40 minutes. Make more Tequila Fresca. Make more nacho. But only one at a time! You don’t want to fill up.
Let the enchiladas cool about 10 minutes. Slice into 8 pieces, equally are according to how much you enjoy the company of those you are serving. Garnish with sour cream and green onions. Serve with Tequila Fresca.
Cory and Carrie from Midwest Gluten Free sent this my way after giving my Tequila Fresca idea a shot.
Say, there’s a reason you get top billing in the name of this blog. I think you’re great. What you’re wearing today makes you look really good, too. What you wore last Wednesday wasn’t so hot, but the fact that I can tell you these things just shows what great friends we’ve become.
If you have, I want to hear about it. And I’d love to see it, too. I was overjoyed to receive this photo from Cory and Carrie, who run Midwest Gluten Free, a great resource for anyone with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Cory and Carrie started the site after learning their daughter has celiac disease.
Cory and Carrie gave my Tequila Fresca idea a shot, and then discovered something they said was even closer to the taste of an actual margarita. They subbed Peach Fresca with some sugar-free packets of lime margarita drink mix from Target, and were very pleased with the results.
If Cory and Carrie have already discovered a new take on Tequila Fresca, imagine what we can all do if we work together. That’s right — we are going to save the world. And we’ll need some cocktail ideas before we take that on.
Last night, I made Layered Potato and Spinach Enchiladas. And I filmed it all. Just for you.
Now, I don’t have the video ready to go yet, but I do have another offering for you. In the grand tradition of using tortilla chips as vehicles to eat all of the ingredients as you cook a Mexican dish, I give you this — my top-secret recipe for making nacho.
That’s right. Nacho. Singular.
Earlier this week, I gave you my leftovers. Think of this as an appetizer, before those enchiladas are ready for you.
Fun Fact: It’s really hard to look like a normal person in the randomly assigned screenshot YouTube assigns. Please enjoy how strange I look. I do it all for you.
Fun Fact 2: Want to stay in touch? Use the e-mail sign-up form on the right to get an update every time I publish a new post.
Butternut Squash and Asparagus with Rigatoni in a Ricotta Cream Sauce
I wanted to show you how to make my layered vegetable enchiladas last night. I couldn’t. I couldn’t because our fridge is packed so full that I could not fit another thing in it, much less the ingredients I needed to make the dish.
I’ve been cooking faster than we can eat lately, despite hosting two dinner parties in a row this weekend. I cook, and shop at Costco, as if I’m a caterer, regardless of how many people I’m serving. I admit it. I have a problem. I say, if you’re going to have a problem, make it a delicious one. Like cooking too many meals. And whisky!
So, in an effort to make room in the fridge, we had leftover spinach and goat cheese tarts from one of the dinner parties, and a dish I made up last week with what I happened to have. It turned into rigatoni tossed with butternut squash and asparagus in a ricotta cream sauce.
I’m having a lot of fun cooking for you. But most of my fun moments are the ones nobody will see — the oopsies that get cut out of the final videos. But then it occurred to me … why not share my leftovers with you, too? So, today, I give you the leftovers — what was edited out of my first few videos, and a few things you haven’t seen yet.
Cooking should be fun. Mistakes happen. I’m also a grown man staying up late at night talking to a camera on a tripod in his kitchen in the name of documenting his cooking. Odds were pretty good that my conversations with the camera wouldn’t always make sense.