Monday, November 30, 2009

Spreading the Love Tuesday!

Once in a while, you stumble across a post that's just too good not to share. This one had me laughing the whole way through. Don't read this post in a library, because you will get kicked out...she's that witty.

Go See Goldfish!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Screw the Turkey

This blogging stuff is kind of cool. I get to bitch to a much wider audience. It's very cathartic.

Another cool thing about blogging? Sometimes my bitching actually gets me the one thing I hardly ever get any more: my own way.

Yeah, that's right folks. KitchyWitchy got her own way! She won! Three cheers and a herky for TKW!

You might remember a little rant I posted a while back about Thanksgiving dinner. Well, my parents read the rant, took pity on me, and absolved me of my duty of cooking the beige dinner. My mother is cooking the beige dinner the day after Thanksgiving, so I don't have to look at it. She's rather awesome like that.

My generous parents told me that I could cook whatever I wanted on Turkey Day and assured me that they'd be happy to eat it. Talk about something to be thankful for!

I almost foamed at the mouth with excitement. I piled my cookbooks and magazines up like the Leaning Tower of Pisa and riffled pages wildly, looking for the perfect recipes for my feast.

I decided to go with my original idea of Ultimate Asian Feast; ever since I wrote the words Dan-Dan Noodles, I've been battling a severe jones for the stuff. I just hoped daddy wouldn't weep into them.

The Menu:
Shrimp Pot Stickers
Spicy Edamame
Slanted Door Beef
Dan Dan Noodles
Stir Fried Asparagus with Wild Mushrooms
Jen's Dessert

We had our lovely neighbors, the K Family over for dinner, and Jen generously offered to bring dessert, so at least I knew I could focus on the non-baking part of the feast.

Gavin's First Asian Pear!

The day before, I'd done most of the heavy prep work. I learned a swift little lesson. Asian Feast=Chopping the Shit Outta Way Too Much Stuff.

Still, I was hopeful that the delectable outcome would erase the pain of the Day of Endless Chopping, and for the most part, I was satisfied.

Thanksgiving morning, I realized that everything on the menu required some kind of special sauce. Crap. I started whisking and putting everything into little bowls...and then got completely distracted by my girls' antics...and then came back to the kitchen 10 minutes later and realized I couldn't remember which bowl of sauce belonged with which dish.

So I got to consume things like fish sauce at 10am in the morning in order to sort things out. Yeah.

**I must say, however, that the distraction was totally worth it. Hubs had put the 70's station on the Sirius radio, and watching my girls FLIP OUT over Shaun Cassidy's rendition of "Hey, Deanie" was one of the best parts of my day.

TKW may have even busted a move to that little ditty herself.

Future President of the Shaun Cassidy Fan Club

Hubs was quite distressed by the lameness of our musical taste, but was later put at ease when Miss D. heard the opening riff to Smoke on the Water and deemed Deep Purple "awesome." There may be hope for her yet.

I am going to save the Disaster of the Dan-Dan Noodles for another post, but I will share with you the Prom Queen Dish of the night. By far, everyone went apeshit over the Shrimp Pot Stickers. Totally worth the trip to Chopping Hell.

Hello, Delicious!

Ginger-Shrimp Pot Stickers with Spicy Dipping Sauce

adapted from Cooking Light Magazine, March 2008
makes 24

Pot Stickers:

3/4 cup shredded napa cabbage
1/3 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup matchstick-cut carrots
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon dark toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 oz. cooked peeled small shrimp
dash of Sriracha hot sauce
24 wonton wrappers
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 cup water, divided

Dipping Sauce:
1/3 cup boiling water
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons chile paste with garlic (like sambal oelek or Sriracha)
1/2 teaspoon sugar

The original directions say to combine the first 10 ingredients in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. I don't like the texture of pot stickers with filling made like this. Sooooo, I finely and meticulously chopped up all of the ingredients by hand. STILL worth it.

Working with 1 wonton wrapper at a time (cover remaining wrappers with a damp towel to prevent drying), spoon about 1 1/2 tablespoons shrimp mixture into the center of each wrapper. Moisten edges of wrapper with water; bring 2 opposite corners to center, pinching points to seal. Pinch 4 edges together to seal. Place pot stickers on a large baking sheet sprinkled with cornstarch.

**I was lucky enough to have many sous chefs around who wanted to make pot stickers! Mama, who'd never made a pot sticker in her life, was by far the best at pinching them into the proper shape. Who knew?

This Lady has MAD Dumpling Skills!

Heat a tablespoon canola oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 12 pot stickers to pan; cook 2 minutes or until bottoms are golden brown. Slowly add 1/2 cup water to pan; cover and cook 4 minutes. Uncover and cook 1-3 minutes more or until liquid evaporates.

Repeat procedure with remaining 1 tablespoon oil, 12 pot stickers and 1/2 cup water.

To prepare sauce, combine the boiling water with next 5 ingredients in a small bowl, whisking to combine.

We had a terrific day, despite those damned Dan-Dan Noodles. I haven't thrown in the white flag, however. I'm gonna spend this next year perfecting the recipe, and I refuse to admit defeat.

Watch out, Dan-Dan Noodles. I'm coming for you.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Once upon a time, in a hard and snowy landscape, there was a girl who owned an audacious green hat. Her mother and father had tried to talk her out of the hat; it was brazen, impractical. But the girl needed the hat, and had a habit of being so stubborn and so mean that, in the end, her parents were no match for her.

Every afternoon, after the lunch boxes were shut and the tables wiped down, a little war waged on a North Dakota playground. Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School, red brick and mortar, sported a fabulous hill just right of the playground. And every day after lunch, that hill was the grammar-school version of Braveheart, I kid you not.

I think a lot of kids played King of the Hill when they were young. But, truly, King of the Hill in North Dakota was not far from Survivor:Antarctica. Good Luck trying to fight your way to the top of a snowy peak against strapping Swedes, Norwegians, Danes. Those Angelic looking cretins, with their white-blond-hair and sky-blue eyes and chapped lips and stocky, impenetrable bodies...well, let's just say that some scrawny-legged European hybrid was no match for them.

Every day, the little girl in the green hat would stumble and claw her way up the hill and every day, she got knocked to the ground, mouth bitter with dirt and snow and defeat. Hill: 246. Little Girl: 0.

She'd trudge home, slumped with defeat, sulk over her snack and complain to her mother about how unfair it was, how cruel. How much would it cost the cretins, just once, to let her stand at the top of that hill?

"Not everyone gets to be the winner," her mother said.

One day, on a frigid winter afternoon, a man decided to surprise his wife and come home for lunch. He put on his heavy coat and scarf, cringing as he opened the door. He hurried to his car, feet already halfway frozen, cursing the wind and the ice that slowed his progress.

He drove home slowly, wary of ice patches, and as he passed Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School, he noticed the playground was empty. It was too miserable a day for even seasoned North Dakota Scandinavians.

But as he drove, a flash of color caught his eye. There, on top of a lonely hill, stood a small figure. Standing tall, right there at the top, frozen half to death. But smiling all the same. Green pom-pommed hat waving in the wind.

This is not my story. I've always wished that it was.

This story belongs to someone far more ferocious than I. Happy Birthday, sis.

Friday, November 27, 2009

And now it's all about retail...update!

Virtual retail, that is. Because I'd rather have a colonoscopy AND French kiss Carrot Top than enter a store today. I'm all about Internet Shopping, where the shipping is free and the assholes can't talk to you.

I'm sending you to ScaryMommy today because she has the cutest aprons, kitchen gadgets and treats for the kids. I bought Miss D. an adorable retro-cherry-patterned apron to match the one I already own, and she is so excited to wear it. She even told me that when her apron arrived, she wanted us to make apple strudel (I know, I know! I'm fucked, right?) together.

So while I am Googling "apple strudel recipes"...go visit ScaryMommy. Because really, time spent in the kitchen, rolling dough and giggling and making messes and memories with your kids? It's what life is all about.


Forgot to tell you that I'm guest blogging over at The Split Pea today so come check us out! I love Eralda's blog and I bet you will, too!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Ina Garten's Company Pot Roast

I think my daddy wants to kiss the member of Barefoot Bloggers who picked the 2nd recipe for November, Ina's Company Pot Roast. You can find the recipe here.

My daddy looooooves him da pot roast. He loves him da gravy even more...and Mama doesn't make gravy anymore. Because, let's face it, gravy for 2 just isn't gonna happen. If you're going to trouble with gravy, there'd better be a crowd in your kitchen.

When I first read that Company Pot Roast was on the agenda for November, I knew exactly who to invite for dinner. Hint: German with chocolate brown peepers. Loves the Windy City. The Original "Wallet Man."

The girls and I came down with colds early in the week, which worried me. I won't let Mama come over if we have colds; a bad cold can land Miss Mama-One-Lung in the hospital faster than you can say "achoo."

But I also worried about daddy; every time I called the house, Mama said, "Your father is so excited about this weekend and his pot roast dinner!" I hated to disappoint him; after all, the Original Wallet Man put up with a lot of mischief and handouts raising my sister and me. A man willing to endure that kind of hardship deserves his roast.

I never much liked pot roast dinner, which we had at least once a month when I was a kid (because daddy loved it so). Pot roast is just kinda stringy and...I dunno...a vehicle for gravy? And I loathed cooked carrots, which always rode shotgun with pot roast at our house.

I actually cooked the roast a day ahead, because pot roast, like any braised dish, improves if made in advance. I also like to make braised dishes ahead because, after refrigeration, it's easy to remove any and all fat from the sauce...bonus for the backside!!

I only deviated from Ina's recipe in one area; instead of pureeing half of the sauce mixture as instructed, I pureed the whole shebang. I don't *do* chunky gravy.

My guys were watching football while Mama and I puttered in the kitchen (and yes I did wipe down the entire house with Clorox before she came), and when I called daddy into the kitchen to do his duty as "Official Tester of the Gravy," he practically wagged his tail. He deemed it perfect. And I agreed. That is some tasty dunkin' sauce, people!

The roast was incredibly tender and un-stringy. Probably the moist-est (okay, that word is kinda gross, isn't it? Moist.) roast I've ever eaten. And I jettisoned the cooked carrots, thankfully. I ate a small portion, pigged out on potatoes (Carb Queen Reigns Again) and happily packed up the leftovers for transport. Because we know who this meal really was for.

ps: Why no picture, you ask? Because pot roast, while delicious, is not beautiful to behold. It looks like turd on a plate with vomit on it. Hungry now?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Wordless Wednesday--As If!

As if I could shut my mouth for one freaking minute...Happy Thanksgiving to you and those you love most. And I'll say it again. My cup runneth over.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Family Recipe: Creamed Potatoes

Some of you may have noticed that I talk a lot about my maternal grandmother, Gramma Rhetta but fail to mention my other grandmother, Helen. There are some good reasons for this.

~ Grandma Helen died when I was fairly young, so my memories of her are limited.
~ Grandma Helen was a fairly good cook, but whenever she visited, she never set foot in the kitchen, which is where I hung out most of the time.
~ Grandma Helen did not approve of Donny Osmond, which, in my childhood opinion, made her dubious of character.
~ Grandma Helen did things that, in my mind, were boring, like playing cards. And sitting.
~ Grandma Helen didn't much like me. And it was sorta obvious.

It's rather painful, not to be liked by your own grandma. And it wasn't even my fault. I didn't do anything beastly like kick her in the shins or pull down her girdle or put soap in the glass she soaked her teeth in (I did do this last one, however, to my paternal grandfather. I ain't no angel).

What did I do then, to deserve such a cold fate? I had the unfortunate luck to look exactly like my mother. Who Grandma Helen happened to vigorously dislike.

Now really, inheriting big blue eyes and blonde hair and skinny little legs isn't a horrible thing. I quite like those things about me, in truth. But I looked far too much like Mama for Grandma Helen's liking.

She much preferred my sister, who resembled my father's side of the family, with her brown hair and her hazel eyes and her short legs. Plus, my sister liked to do boring things like play cards and sit.

Don't feel too sorry for me though, the feeling was sort of mutual.

Not many of Grandma Helen's recipes made it to my Mama's recipe box. Not that she didn't turn out some tasty things--it's just that most of her recipes were incredibly time consuming. Like the vegetable beef soup that had to simmer all day long before deemed good enough to serve.

In fact, Mama tells a story about requesting (and subsequently receiving) the recipe for Grandma Helen's legendary Angel Food Cake. Mama opened the envelope, scanned the recipe card, saw the instructions sift the flour ten times and promptly ripped the recipe in half and tossed it in the garbage can.

Who's got the time to sift flour ten freaking times?

However, one recipe Mama did serve was grandma Helen's Creamed Potatoes. It was one of the few recipes that everyone in our entire family liked, so I ate them a lot growing up. And, like a lot of old family recipes, it doesn't even exist. At least in real recipe form. Grandma Helen taught Mama to make that recipe by feel, and I never learned, so I don't make them.

At least I didn't used to.

I had the pleasure of having my parents for Sunday dinner the other day, and Mama generously showed me how to make Creamed Potatoes.

Which may not be a good thing, because Creamed Potatoes are so delicious and so rich that I probably should skip the eating step and apply them directly to my backside.

But boy, they're good. So whip them up for a special occasion, or when you need comfort in a bowl. And then go run 4 freaking miles or something.

Creamed Potatoes
serves 6-ish

5 yukon gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons gravy flour, such as Wondra
2/3 to 1 cup whole milk
Salt and pepper to taste
chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional)

Cover the cubed potatoes with cold water, adding about 1/2 inch extra water above the potatoes. Add a generous tablespoon of salt. Bring the water to a rolling boil; turn down to a simmer. Cook until potatoes are just done (a fork can pierce them) about 5-8 minutes.

Pour off all but about 1/3 cup of the cooking liquid. Put potatoes and water back on the heat, add the butter and stir until melted. Gradually add in flour, stirring to incorporate lumps. Add the milk in two batches, increasing the amount of milk if the mixture seems too thick. Add a generous grinding of pepper and taste for salt, adding if necessary. Top with parsley, if desired.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Because you mean the world

I baked again this week. Last week was Lemon Bars, this week was homemade gingerbread. And NO, I haven't turned into a Stepford Wife.

So why did I bake--something I admit I'm not good at--two weeks in a row?

Because I've never met Anissa, but the outpouring of love and concern from the blogosphere has made me realize that I wish I had. And it made me realize what I have.

Because my husband offered to take on Miss D.'s Native-American-Diorama-Project-From-Hell and leave me out of it.

Because my parents are coming for a leisurely Sunday lunch and helping me decorate the house for Christmas, a task I don't enjoy. (Yeah that's me Ebeneezer, crusty old geezer, pinch-penny squeezer...Scrooge!)

Because we can totally get behind an idea like crazy hair/crazy dress day.

Because I spent hours researching freaking hamsters because Miss D. wants only that one thing for Christmas.

Because of course I'm going to have to buy two hamsters, because the girls will fight over the Lone Hamster. But hamsters tend to eat each other, so I'm kinda screwed.

Because my cup runneth over.

Gingerbread Cake
adapted from Fine Cooking
serves 8-12

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
3 large eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1 3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
1 cup root beer, preferably and artisanal brand

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350. Coat an 8-inch square cake pan with the butter and lightly dust with granulated sugar.

In a small bowl, stir the oil, molasses and eggs until combined. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and salt.

In a small pot, bring the brown sugar and root beer to a boil. Meanwhile, add the molasses mixture to the flour and stir to combine. Add the hot root beer mixture and quickly beat until combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes.

Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack until warm, about 40 minutes.

Dust with powdered sugar and serve with whipped cream, if desired.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Pomegranate-Rosemary Fizz

My Darling Husband,

Please accept this cocktail as reparation for today's little accident. And by "little accident," I mean: yes, there was one.

But you love your wife, right? Every clumsy, witchy inch of her...true?

Ah, good. Because I broke something. Something you're just a leeeeeeeetle bit attached to.

Something that cannot (gulp) be replaced.

But I totally didn't mean to do it and I'll try to be more careful in the future and...

Sweetie? Have a couple more of these. You'll feel better. I know I will.

Your doting and clumsy wife,
ps: At least I meet you at the door with
cocktails when I fuck up.

Pomegranate-Rosemary Fizz
based on a recipe in Cooking Light Magazine

1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary

4 tablespoons POM pomegranate juice
1 bottle prosecco
4 lime wedges

In a small saucepan, heat water and sugar to a boil. Remove from heat, add rosemary sprigs and let steep for 30 minutes. Remove rosemary.

In each champagne glass, place 1 tablespoon of the rosemary sugar syrup, 1 tablespoon of the POM, and squeeze lime over. Fill to rim with prosecco. Stir. Slug down.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Family Recipe: Russian Spice Tea

Dear Glen Campbell,

Sorry dude, I hate to break it to you, but you were not the first love of my life. I used to think it was so, but my Mama recently reminded me of the Dave Golley Phenomenon. Sorry, Rhinestone are relegated to second-fiddle status on the Crush-O-Meter.


ps: But the song Rhinestone Cowboy still totally rocks.


Miss D. is in the second grade and she's had the same (God, can I even say the word?) boyfriend for almost a year now. He's a sweet kid with very good manners--he even pulls her chair out for her every morning before she sets her minxy butt in it for the day.

And this boyfriend wasn't even her first. Miss D. was workin' her femme fatale in Kindergarten. The girl is stone-cold boy-crazy, and it makes my sphincter clench.

I was bitching on the phone to my mother the other day about Miss D.'s excessive interest in the opposite sex; I mean, this girl might rival Gramma Rhetta in the arena of Feminine Wiles. It makes me seriously nervous.

I mean, I didn't even get kissed until the 8th grade, and after that fleeting second of excitement, I had to wait a long time (as in, 2 freaking years) before the excitement of kiss #2.

"What is wrong with that child?" I complained to Mama. "She loves boys--just looooooves 'em. It's not natural. Boys should still have cooties at her age."

"D. never went through the Boys Have Cooties Phase," my mother pointed out. "She was flirting with the opposite sex at 3 months old."

"Well, it's not normal and I'm planning on bolting her windows shut. I was not like that. She gets it from your side, Mama, I swear."

"Oh, I don't know...I do recall a certain young lady who worshipped Dave Golley..."

ARGH. Mothers. Always throwing crap back in your face.


There wasn't much to do in North Dakota in the early seventies; more important, there wasn't much to do in North Dakota in the wintertime, especially if you were poor.

Which is why my father thought it was a brilliant idea to get season tickets (for the cheapest seats possible) for the University of North Dakota hockey team. Go Fighting Sioux! And I'll tell you why those tickets were so cheap--the Sioux weren't real good at the time.

God, those games were boring. Plus, I don't know where the UND athletic funds went, but I can assure you that they didn't go towards heating that stadium. It was colder than a witch's tit in there. I think it's almost fair to say that it was just as cold inside as outside.

There's only so much hot Dr. Pepper (I know, gross! But that's what they served!) a 5 year old girl can drink before she gets antsy. I tried throwing popcorn in the air and catching it in my mouth....Mama squelched that little activity with one look. I tried to juggle my mittens, but my hands just got cold. I made paper airplanes out of the game roster, but I knew Mama would kill me if I threw one, so what's the fun in that?

I was b-o-r-e-d. Bored. So I decided to take radical action and actually watch the game. And lo and behold, some strapping young forward burst down the length of the rink, whacked that puck and BAM! Right in the net. The crowd went wild!

The hockey forward smirked, shrugged non-chalantly, and took off his helmet, displaying the most riotous mane of red hair I'd ever seen. And....cue the ringing of the bells, ladies and gentlemen...this 5 year old was smitten.

From that day on, I stalked Dave Golley. I'd park my pre-K ass right over the penalty box, waving and shouting, "Dave! Dave! Hey, hiya, Dave! Hi Dave Golley!" at the top of my lungs. And no matter how hard he tried to ignore me, I did not go away. I have no idea what my little brain found so enchanting about a pimply kid sporting an orange afro, but he floated my boat.

A few seasons later, Dave Golley was gone, and I was back to juggling my mittens. At least Mama had learned that the hot Dr. Pepper gave me the runs, so she carried a big Thermos of my favorite winter beverage.

The technical term for this was "Russian Spiced Tea" but in our family, we just called it Spice Tea. Mama made it for me every time I got sick or was butt-ass cold. I still remember the month I had pneumonia (for the first time); I think Spice Tea kept me alive, because I didn't want food for weeks. It was a warm saucer of sweet comfort in a cold and lonely landscape.

Russian Spiced Tea
makes a big jar of mix

1 (18-ounce) jar Tang (orange flavor)
1 cup sugar
1 cup Lipton instant tea (unsweetened)
1 package dry, pre-sweetened lemonade
2 teaspoons ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Mix all ingredients in a large jar and store in a cool, dry place. To serve, add 2 teaspoons of the tea mix to a mug and pour in boiling water. Stir.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Veggie Enchiladas

*** We regret to inform you that the accompanying picture has been confiscated by the Shitty Photo Police. There's some wonky lighting coming in at Chez T. this time of the year; this dish deserves better than your standard TKW crap photo. Sincerely, The Management. ***

Okay, people, let's talk comfort food! I could go on and on for days about comfort food, and how sometimes we just need it, and how sometimes you just need to eat it IN your bed, even if that's a little icky, and how your choice of comfort food says a lot about you...but I won't bore you with the details.

I will, however, share with you my Top 5 Go-To Comfort Foods and hope you will do so as well in the comments section. I love hearing what people eat...I'm a freak like that.

Now any of you readers who've been around here a while know my #1 comfort food (and yes, it's shameful), but here's the rest of the list:

TKW's 5 Go-To Comfort Foods

5. A bowl of Mama's Creamed Potatoes (recipe forthcoming)
4. The grilled cheese sandwich of my youth: sturdy white bread, Velveeta cheese (I know, I know!) and lots of butter.
3. Chicken a'la King on rice (not potatoes, not toast, not those patty shell thingy' must be rice)
2. A rather runny poached egg on toast, cut up and mixed together so everything is salty and a little gummy and just slightly crunchy from the toast.
1. An enormous bowl of Uncle Ben's Converted Rice, buttered and salted to death. This is the one I need to eat in bed.

A quick scan of this list proves several things:

~I am Carb Queen!!!! Me lovva da carbs. Alas, da carbs don'ta lovva my ass.
~Much to my husband's horror, when the chips are down, I love creamy food.
~I am wicked lucky to have low blood pressure, because I think I need to install a personal salt lick in my home.

My husband's list involves (like most people on Lipitor) lots of fried food. But his #1 comfort food, being a Texas-raised boy, is enchiladas.

But not the mild, sour-cream covered jobbers you see so many recipes for; sour cream is hubby's Waterloo.

My boy likes spicy, non-creamy, enchiladas....the rolled kind, not the casserole-type enchiladas that are layered like a lasagna.

Which happen to be a pain in the ass to make, so he rarely gets them.

However, when I, The Cookbook Whore, caved and bought the new Gourmet cookbook a couple of weeks ago, I saw a recipe that just screamed HUBS! Well, with one small teeensy deviation. So I put on my big-girl apron and made a batch, using some roasted Hatch chiles I'd scored at the Farmer's Market.


These were smoky and spicy and cheesy and absolute heaven. And unlike many things, totally worth the effort. And yes, that effort took about 2 hours, but once in a while, you gotta spoil the ones you love.

Vegetable Enchiladas with Creamy Poblano Sauce
serves 4-6

For Sauce:

3 poblano chiles, roasted and peeled
1/2 cup chopped white onion
1 large garlic clove
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 1/4 cups water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, preferably corn oil
1 cup Mexican crema or creme fraiche***

For Filling:

3 tablespoons vegetable oil, preferably corn oil
1 cup chopped white onion
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups corn kernels (from 2-3) or 1 (10-ounce) package frozen corn
1 pound zucchini (3 medium) cut into 1/3-inch dice
1 (14-to-15-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice, drained, juice reserved, and chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons chopped jalapeno chile, including seeds, or to taste

For Enchiladas:

3 tablespoons vegetable oil, preferably corn oil
12 (6-to-7-inch) corn tortillas
1/4 pound Monterey Jack cheese, coarsely grated (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons Mexican crema or creme fraiche
2 tablespoons water

Make the Sauce: Open roasted chiles and spread flat; discard seeds and stems and cut out ribs. Coarsely chop chiles. Combine chiles, garlic, onion, salt and water in a blender and puree until smooth.

Heat oil in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Carefully add sauce (it will spatter) and cook, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened, about 8 minutes. Stir in crema and remove from heat. **Because hubs is leery of creamy food, I only stirred in 1/4 cup creme fraiche. Worked fine.

Make the Filling: Heat the oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until hot but not smoking. Add onion, garlic and salt and cook, stirring, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in corn and zucchini and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 8 minutes. Add tomatoes with juice, cilantro, and jalapeno and cook, uncovered, over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Transfer filling to a large bowl to cool.

Make the Enchiladas: Put a rack in upper third of oven and preheat oven to 450. Lightly oil a 13-by-9-inch baking pan or flameproof baking dish. Line a baking sheet with paper towels.

Reheat sauce over moderately high heat or until warm, if necessary, and transfer to a shallow bowl or pie plate. Add oil to a cleaned 10-inch skillet and heat over moderate heat until hot but not smoking. Add 1 tortilla and cook, turning once with tongs, until softened, 4 to 6 seconds. Transfer to paper-towel-lined baking sheet and blot each side. Repeat procedure with remaining tortillas, stacking them once blotted.

Dip 1 tortilla in warm sauce, turning it with your fingers to coat both sides, and transfer to baking dish. Spoon about 1/3 cup filling down middle of tortilla and roll up to enclose filling. Push enchilada to one long side of baking dish; you will be forming 2 rows of 6 enchiladas each. Make more enchiladas in the same manner, arranging them tightly side by side in dish.

Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas and sprinkle with cheese. Stir together crema and water with a fork in a cup and drizzle over top (I omitted this step).

Bake enchiladas, uncovered, until hot and bubbling, about 15 minutes. If desired, brown under broiler 2 to 3 inches from heat, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

I served these with black beans and rice, and boy, were they good. This is definitely a "weekend" recipe--it's not quick, by any stretch. But spicy, gooey and delicious--I mean it!

**Veg Heads (Nap, Kim, Sarah, Jen--this means you!): This recipe is totally Thanksgiving-worthy.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Miss You Cookies

Hubs took the girls to Houston this weekend; his family lives there and the girls had a lovely visit. And I got a little break from the day-to-day grind of being Mommy, which was, admittedly, welcome.

I can't remember the last time I was home alone in my house for more than a couple of hours. I mean, there was Harryboy underfoot--an utter nuisance--and Awesome Stepkid R. was here Saturday and Sunday, but it was pretty darn quiet within these walls.

I tried to be busy; I took a friend out for a birthday lunch, went shopping (someplace other than Target!) with my mom, had MADE plans to do dinner/movie in Denver...but then the snow hit. Trapped, yet again, in my home, due to Mother Nature. However, this time I was not snowed in with small children. It was crazy quiet. I did not cook a meal. I drank wine in peace and did not have to be the Pusher of the Potty.

Still, once Sunday afternoon wore on and it started getting dusky, I missed my clan. I missed their runny noses and their demands for the perfect snack and the shrieks of hilarity.

So I rolled up my sleeves and went into the kitchen--even though I'd declared the kitchen "Off-Limits" for the weekend--and baked up something to let my little Freakshow Circus that I'd missed them.

Modified Lemon Bars (adapted from Gramma Rhetta's Lemon Bars)

1/2 cup cold butter
1 cup flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar

3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
dash salt

Powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350. Line a greased 8x8 inch square pan with heavy duty foil or parchment, leaving excess hanging over edges. Grease foil or parchment (generously!).

Combine butter, flour and powdered sugar to create coarse crumbs. Press firmly into the bottom of pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly golden.

Combine sugar, eggs, lemon juice, lemon zest, flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Whisk until well combined.

Pour filling over crust, return to oven and bake 25-30 minutes or until set. Cool for 15-20 minutes, then use foil/parchment overhang to lift bars out of pan. Remove foil/parchment. Freeze uncut slab of bars for 10-15 minutes, then slice into individual bars. Dust with powdered sugar.

I am happy to say that my house is noisy once again. And I have two little minxes with powdered sugar mustaches. Life is good.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Thanksgiving Food Sucks: A Rant

I am tired of Thanksgiving. I know, it's not even here yet; we still have almost two weeks to go, but I'm over it already. I was over it in October, actually, when all of my food magazines came with pictures of turkeys on the front.

Thanksgiving is the dullest holiday on Earth. I know, I know, I am a terrible person. Thanksgiving is supposed to be about gratitude, and spending time with those dearest to your heart, and realizing how blessed you are. But when Thanksgiving actually dawns, it's about slaving for an entire day to produce a meal that's devoured in 30 minutes and takes 3 times that long to clean up.

Fun? Not so much.

Plus, I don't even like Thanksgiving food. I'm serious. If I spent the day slaving over, say, shrimp dumplings and kung pao chicken and sesame snow peas and dan dan noodles, I'd be all over that. But no. I'm stuck with traditional Thanksgiving dinner, which is--admit it--a beige meal.

And no, I can't just serve my dream Asian Feast for Thanksgiving dinner. Because my father, bless his rigid German heart, would cry in his dan dan noodles if I did that. My father lives for Thanksgiving food. You can't make your daddy cry on Thanksgiving.

A couple of times, in the folly of my youth, I tried to shake up the Thanksgiving menu a little bit. One year, I scratched the creamed pearl onions and made sauteed broccolini and shiitakes. Another year, I jettisoned the waldorf salad in favor of tomatoes Provencal.

And guess what happened? My father ate with gusto, proclaimed the dinner The Best He'd Ever Eaten, gave me a huge hug...and the next day, begged my poor mother to cook the REAL dinner. Which she did. Cursing me every step of the way, although she won't admit it.

So once again, we are eating the beige Thanksgiving dinner that's been served since I was crawling on North Dakota linoleum:

-Herb Roasted Turkey: is it just me, but even if you injected old Tom Turkey with an herb infusion, he'd still taste like...umm, a blank canvas? Turkey is a vehicle for gravy. Period.

-Cranberry Relish: homemade, not canned, but still fucking inedible. Cranberries suck. Unless they are infused with sugar and baked in buttery streusel for coffecake. We even spike our cranberry relish with Grand Marnier, which should help (because booze improves everything!), but nope. Still gross.

-Stuffing: WTF is up with people eating soggy bread? Admit it, people! Stuffing is just that: soggy bread. Am I the only person on the planet who would rather eat lima beans than the crap people call stuffing? My mom even makes a crispy version, which everyone loves, except me. Crispy stuffing+gravy=soggy freaking bread!

-Waldorf Salad: ewwww. Mayonnaise and fruit. Seven shades of wrong.

-Creamed Pearl Onions: yes, there's some Yankee at our table, gratis of my grandfather. He had to have these foul little bulbs, bathed in cream and cheese, every year. And now my father loves them. They slip and slide all over the plate, taunting your fork, and later, after consumption, turn your intestines into Chernobyl. Two hours after creamed onion consumption, you are hazardous waste.

-Mashed Potatoes and Gravy: the only edible part of the meal. Gimme a plate of just that, and I'm okey-dokey.

-Clover-leaf rolls: Gee, we don't have enough carbs on the table? Apply directly to my thighs, why don't you?

-Pie: Only suitable for breakfast. The next day. Who really wants pie after that ass-busting meal, anyways? Plus, crust is nasty.

I'm sorry. I'm a crank and a killjoy, so I'll shut up now. I'm ready to suck it up and cook this slop...gimme a few glasses of wine and I'll be fine. And when it's all said and done, I'll be the first one to express my gratitude. That it's over. For 364 blessed days.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ina's Creme Brulee

Barefoot Bloggers is starting November out right! It's never a bad thing to start with dessert, right? I didn't think you'd disagree.

I adore creme brulee. Doesn't everyone? Well, except for freaks like my husband who have deep suspicion of anything creamy.

It's comforting, it's simple, it's slightly warm and pudding-like, it's rich...yeah, did I mention that to you? Well, let me mention it again--this dessert is rich.

But once in a while, a girl's gotta splurge, and this is a lovely way to do it.

Ina Garten's Creme Brulee
serves 5-6

1 extra-large egg, at room temperature
4 egg yolks, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon sugar per ramekin for topping
3 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange liqueur (recommended: Grand Marnier)

Preheat the oven to 300.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the egg, egg yolks, and 1/2 cup sugar together on low speed until just combined. Meanwhile, scald the cream in a small saucepan until it's very hot to the touch but not boiled. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the cream to the eggs. Add the vanilla and orange liqueur and pour into 6 to 8-ounce ramekins until almost full.

Place the ramekins in a baking pan and carefully pour boiling water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until the custards are set when gently shaken. Remove the custards from the water bath, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until firm.

To serve, spread 1 tablespoon sugar evenly on the top of each ramekin and heat with a kitchen blowtorch* until the sugar caramelizes evenly.

Allow to sit at room temperature for a minute until the caramelized sugar hardens.

* What? You don't have a kitchen blowtorch lying around? Me neither. In fact, I'm pretty sure that me + kitchen blowtorch = bad idea. I had every intention of jettisoning the blowtorch and just popping the sugar-topped custards under the broiler for a minute or two.

But then I happened to be at a business dinner the day before I was going to make this recipe, and I was yammering on and on about the ridiculousness that is a kitchen blowtorch.

"Seriously?" I said. "Why on earth would someone buy a blowtorch for their kitchen needs? What kind of person owns a kitchen blowtorch?"

"I own one," said the very lovely, very charming woman sitting next to me. Who happens to be the wife of the senior partner of my husband's group.

That's me folks. I am smooth.

Luckily, she isn't one to hold a grudge. She even offered to lend Miss Motormouth her kitchen blowtorch.

Luckily, Awesome Stepkid R. was in the house this weekend. Rather than use my Parkinson's hands (and risk setting the kitchen ablaze), I begged him to torch my brulees.

And yeah, I was an annoying worrywart and hovered the entire time. Which made him nuts.

Verdict: This recipe rocks. It's easy to make, it's delicious, it's sexy looking. In fact, Awesome Stepkid R. and I decided that this is the perfect ending for The Love Food Meal.

I mean, how impressive is it to watch a man take a torch to dessert? Awesome.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

It ain't pretty, but it be good!

I had a friend in college who, when we decided to splurge (read: cut philosophy class...shhhh) and eat lunch at a nearby deli, always ordered the chicken or tuna salad. Which made me shiver and struggle with my gag reflex.

Allow me to explain. I spent several summers in high school working for a catering company. This was just one in an entire litany of shitty summer jobs I had growing up.

This catering company was owned by a Joan Rivers lookalike who shrieked at the help and cared about one thing: Money. Bottom Line? The Shrieker's frugality led to some rather dodgy business practices.

Working there, I learned a lot about just how long a mayonnaise-based salad can sit in a restaurant refrigerator and still be deemed "Okay to serve." You don't wanna know. Trust me.

Since then, I have been very, very careful to never eat anyone else's chicken or tuna salad. I have acute meat/mayo paranoia. When it comes to chicken or tuna salad, I adopt the creed: Trust No One.

The only bummer about this? Chicken salad done right is delicious! Like any mayonnaise-based salad, it isn't pretty to look at, but boy, if it's fresh and good ingredients are involved, it's hard to want anything else for lunch.

The other day I succumbed to my pesky Cookbook Addiction and added another one to the canon. I purchased Gourmet's new Cookbook, Gourmet Today.

That thing is so big that it's a freaking weapon. But it has some truly delicious-sounding recipes in it, and it made me upset all over again that Conde Nast is shutting the door on Gourmet Magazine.

But at least I have several Gourmet cookbooks, and I decided to attempt their Chicken Salad recipe as my maiden voyage into this new tome.

Chicken Salad with Grapes and Walnuts

serves 4
from the Gourmet Today Cookbook

1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders
1 3/4 cup chicken stock (homemade or store bought reduced-sodium broth)
1/3 cup plain yogurt (I used Greek-style)
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 cup seedless grapes, halved crosswise
1 cup (about 3 1/2 ounces) coarsely chopped walnuts (I toasted mine, first)
3 tablespoons drained capers, chopped*
Freshly ground black pepper

Toss chicken with 2 teaspoons salt.

Bring stock and 5 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add chicken and cook, uncovered, at a bare simmer; stirring occasionally, until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Drain and cool, then tear into 1 inch chunks.

Stir together yogurt, mayonnaise, and mustard in a large bowl.

Stir chicken, grapes, walnuts and capers into the dressing, then season with salt and pepper to taste.

* You ever tried to chop capers? It's freaking impossible! How do you chop small, round-shaped little pebbles of brine? I did my best--as should you. Just giggle at the futility of it all and proceed.

Verdict: Delicious! This is a very retro-style chicken salad, but boy, it's good. I served it to Mama for lunch. She left my house with the recipe and made it the next day for her friend Janet. And Janet demanded the recipe.

Two days, two different lunch guests, two demands for the recipe. It's that good. Invite your Mama to lunch. And serve her this. You won't be sorry.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

White Trash Motherlode: Too Sweet

As I slowly work my way through some of the recipes in the White Trash Motherlode Book, I'm coming to some realizations:

~ It's mainly a book of casseroles and sweets. Really.
~ And the few salads that are in there? A lot of them are sweet.
~ Can you really call a dish made with jello, ginger ale and marshmallows a salad?

Apparently you can call ginger ale and marshmallows a salad, because there are a frightening number of "salad" recipes in The Book that contain the ingredients listed above.

Apparently, the necessary and essential pantry items in a North Dakota kitchen in 1970 were as follows: jello, Miracle Whip salad dressing, condensed cream of ________ soup, maraschino cherries, chow mein noodles and canned green beans.

Oh, and sugar. How could I forget sugar? Sugar appears in damn near everything in The Book, even savory dishes.

I'm surprised any one who lived in North Dakota in the late 60's/early 70's had teeth.

I was leafing through the book the other day and came upon a recipe so incredibly audacious that I had to share it.

Need a little something to add zip to that bar cookie recipe? I suppose you could add nuts. Or maybe some chocolate chips. Or maybe a handful or two of dried fruit. Some coconut, if you're feeling downright racy.

Nah, screw that. Let's get this bar cookie AMPLIFIED! Let's add...sticky, neon-hued nuggets of pure sugar deliciousness, shall we? Awesome!

Gumdrop Diamonds

1 cup tiny gumdrops, sliced
2 cups sifted enriched flour
4 eggs
1 tablespoon cold water
2 cups light-brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cups chopped pecans
Sifted confectioner's sugar

Toss the gumdrops into 1/4 cup of the flour. Beat eggs with water; add brown sugar and beat until fluffy. Sift together remaining flour, salt, and sugar; stir into egg mixture. Add nuts and gumdrops. Spread in a greased 15 1/2 x 10 1/2 x 1 in. jelly roll pan. Bake at 325 for 35 minutes. When cool, cut into diamonds or squares. Roll in confectioner's sugar, if desired.

Oh yeah, I think we totally need to roll these suckers in sugar after baking, don't you?

Holy Smokes. Pass the dental floss, wouldja?

Than again, we do have all of those leftover Dots from Halloween...

Friday, November 6, 2009

Food Phobias: Yeasty Beastys

I have issues with yeast. You can read more about my issues with food here.

But this post is about yeast in particular. Yeast frightens me. It is alive! And high maintenance! And can explode! Which it has, several times, on the rare occasion that I've been brave enough to bake.

What could possibly make me, a bona-fide Yeast-o-phobe, break out those little packets?

Three full days spent snowed in with small children.

Now doesn't that above sentence strike complete terror into your heart?

I don't know how Mama stayed sane during those North Dakota winters, because after just ONE full day of "snowed in with small children," I was stark-raving mad.

There aren't enough cocktails and episodes of Spongebob on the planet to get me through 3 days of "snowed in with small children."

I totally understand now why some animals eat their young.

Instead of noshing on them, however, I decided to put their busy little fingers to work kneading dough and shaping it into pretzel form.

~And yes, I am going to get that child a haircut soon. And yes, that is a hideously messy table littered with art supplies in the background. Three full days with small children killed my house. Killed it.

Whole Wheat Pretzels
makes about 1 dozen
recipe from My A to Z Recipe Box by Hilary Shevlin Karmilowicz

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 packet of yeast
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 cups whole wheat flour
Coarse salt, sesame seeds or cinnamon sugar (we picked the latter)

In a large bowl, mix together the all-purpose flour, salt and yeast. Mix well.

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the milk, brown sugar and cooking oil. Heat until warm but not hot!

Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture and beat with an electric mixer for 3 minutes. Add the whole wheat flour and mix well. Mixture will be slightly sticky.

Shape the dough into a ball. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel, and let the dough rise in a warm, dry place for 1 1/2 hours.*

Heat the oven to 475. Punch the dough down. Cover it again and let it rest for ten minutes.

Pull off handfuls of the dough and roll them into long snake-like ropes. This takes concentration, folks!!

Twist the ropes into any shape you like. I was the only person who opted for the traditional shape.

Place each pretzel on a greased baking sheet.

Brush each pretzel with melted butter and sprinkle with salt, sesame seed or cinnamon sugar.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden. Serve with melted butter for dipping and (if you pick the sweet option)extra cinnamon sugar on the side.

* A smart mommy would not announce the Making Pretzel Activity until after this step. Trust this dumb mommy, who did not do that, and then had to hear, "Is it done yet? Is it done yet?" every 10 minutes for an hour and a half.

We managed to pick up an extra kid or two by the time the shaping step came around...yeah, that's what other housebound neighbors do when their kids are making them nuts...they send them to my house. So *I* can contemplate beating the shit out of them.

Actually, they were very excited and very well-behaved during the Making Pretzel Activity. And they got quite creative with their shapes!

I was afraid that my dough wouldn't rise, because I got my milk a little too warmish, but for once, yeast behaved. Maybe yeast took pity on me for once, because I was obviously desperate.

The girls scarfed the pretzels down and had a blast playing with the dough. And Stark-Raving-Mad-Mommy got to feel kind of like SuperHero Mommy for an afternoon. And those afternoons are few and far between.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A New Drink for Sniffles Season: The Thoddy

You know that theory that nothing will survive a nuclear blast except for the cockroach?

Well, whoever came up with that theory never met my husband, because he will survive too. He has an immune system made of titanium, I swear. He never gets sick. In fact, I think they need to create a new SuperHero in the guise of my hubs--Never fear, mortals! ImmuneSystem Man is on his way!

This is good news in many ways: 1) One of my kids is always either outright sick or incubating the next sickness 2) I always catch whatever disease passes through the house at any given moment and 3) Someone has to run this sinking ship.

The bad news? On the extremely rare occasion that ImmuneSystem Man does get sick, he's a total pain in the ass.

It's not that he's a baby, exactly; it's just that the dude is so rarely ill that he walks around in a fog of disbelief and misery. If he could get away with sucking his thumb, he would.

The other day, hubs got sick. With a cold and respiratory bug--and I knew it was a doozy because he was sick for THREE whole days. This man is never down for over 24 hours. N-ever.

And as luck would have it, he was needed at work, so he slogged through several days of misery and came home looking like Dead Man Walking.

I tried faux pho, I tried tea with honey and lemon, I tried spicy green chile. Dude was still miserable.

Growing up, my grandfather always swore by the Hot Toddy...most good Irish drunks did.

Hubs needed sleep and relief, so I created my own version. He drank it down, said it tasted delicious, felt better within 5 minutes and then promptly konked out for 12 hours straight.

Pretty impressive, right? When he woke the next morning, he felt a little better and told me that I should publish the recipe for my concoction on my blog. "That thing is too good not to share," he said. "It's genius. You should market it," he said. He told me I should call it the "Thoddy"...

Which brings me to the one leeeeeetle problem about this whole deal.

The reason he called it the "Thoddy" is because I basically spiked his TheraFlu. Which doctors don't really recommend a person do. You know, that whole *risk of liver damage by mixing alcohol and acetaminophen* garbage.

But once in a while, when the chips are really down, we here at Chez T believe in totally Fucking With the Rules.

And this thing works like a dream. You will be blissed out within 10 minutes. Guaranteed.

Just make sure you have someone responsible around to watch your kiddos, because you are gonna be immobile for a while after one of these pups. And, like the Theraflu folks say: do not consume 3 or more alcoholic drinks a day while using this product...but you won't need 3 drinks. One of these suckers does the Job.

The Thoddy
serves one sad-sack husband

1 packet Nighttime Severe Cold & Cough Theraflu (Honey Lemon, Chamomile and White Tea flavor)
1 jigger spiced rum, such as Captain Morgan's
1 jigger pineapple orange juice
6 oz. water

Combine the water and pineapple juice in a microwaveable mug. Zap 1 minute or until hot. Stir in rum and Theraflu packet. Pour down gullet. Bliss Out.

**Warning and Disclaimer: the author of this blog is totally not a doctor and totally not responsible if you become addicted to this healing cup of goodness. Your liver is your responsibility.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Meatless Monday: Poblano and Mushroom Tacos

I must admit, I don't know that many vegetarians. My trainer at the gym, Kim, is, and an Indian couple we know in town are, but that's about it. My dear bloggy friend Nap is, too, and because I adore Kim and Nap so much, and because it's good for us, the T house is committed to Vegging Out a little more often.

I saw this recipe in the November 2009 issue of Bon Appetit magazine and knew it was for us (and Nap, and Kim). This recipe is ideal because 1) it's in the Fast, Easy, Fresh section of the magazine, and Nap and Kim are busy gals, and 2) at 258 calories and 3 grams of fiber per taco, these aren't going to send my health-conscious friends running for their "fat pants shelf" in the closet any time soon.

And don't lie--you ALL have a "fat pants shelf" know you do. Don't even think of denying it.

Poblano and Mushroom Tacos
Makes 4
from Bon Appetit Magazine

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 fresh poblano chile, halved, seeded, thinly sliced into long strips
1/2 small red onion, sliced
3 ounces crimini(baby bella) mushrooms, thinly sliced (about 1 1/4 cups)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 corn tortillas
4 thin slices Monterey Jack cheese
chopped fresh cilantro
crumbled feta or Cojita cheese
Assorted toppings (such as shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, and hot sauce or salsa)

Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add poblano chile, red onion and mushrooms; saute mixture until brown, about 5 minutes. Mix in ground cumin. Season to taste with salt. Transfer mixture to medium bowl.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add tortillas in a single layer, draping up the sides of skillet to fit. Divide mushroom mixture among tortillas, mounding on only 1 side. Place slice of Monterey Jack cheese atop filling in each tortilla. Fold plain tortilla halves over filling and press firmly. Cook until tortillas are brown, about 1 minute per side. Transfer tacos to plates. Open tacos; sprinkle with chopped cilantro, crumbled feta or Cojita cheese, and toppings.

Verdict: Both hubs and I liked these a lot! The poblanos lend a smoky heat (as does the cumin) and the mushrooms add a meatiness. We did add extra hot sauce and, after the first bite, slices of avocado--an addition I highly recommend! This is a weeknight winner.

Also, if you've invested in a really good non-stick pan, you can reduce the oil to 1 tablespoon, total. Use 1/2 tablespoon for the filling and then use the remaining oil on the tortillas--just BRUSH the oil on each tortilla using a cooking brush and cook in the same manner! Viola! One less day without fat pants!