Sunday, April 18, 2010

Late Friday night

Well a tad tired today. Wii golf game must I say more? What is wrong with two older adults who stay up past bedtime and play a video game? So I was to sleep at one a.m. Good grief get a grip woman!

Dinner last night was one of my hubby's favorites. It is a recipe I created when I want to throw a roast quickly in the slow cooker. I slow cook pork then shred for crispy fried pork tacos. This is only one of the ways I make pork taco's but it is certainly flavorful and very simple.
So here is what I do.
use one pork boneless shoulder roast the size depends on how many taco's you want. These types of pork roasts are usually tied to keep them together so just leave the string on while cooking.
Last night our roast was very small as it was cut from a larger roast that I had purchased previously and cut in half and then froze. So you can use anything from a pound or so to two and half pounds.
Take your roast and rinse and pat with paper towel. Salt and pepper all sides of the roast. Then sprinkle with onion powder and garlic powder. Pour about a third of a cup of apple cider or apple juice into the slow cooker add the meat. Then sprinkle lightly with fresh thyme and lay two sprigs of fresh rosemary over the roast. Put on the lid and slow cook for about five/six hours until the roast is fork tender and ready to fall apart. Then put the roast in a flat bottomed bowl and with two forks shred the meat for tacos and spoon some of the drippings over the meat,set to the side while you fry the taco shells. You can then just zap a moment in the microwave to heat the meat before serving.
Frying the corn tortilla's is a secret that I will share, I learned this from my hubby. Put some canola oil in the bottom of a large skillet. Turn the heat to high and keep it there, when you put the end of a wooden spoon into the oil and it sizzles it is time to put a tortilla in your pan. Put in flat to moisten and then quickly using tongs fold over the tortilla and hold for a second or two. Then you add another tortilla to the skillet and repeat. Turn your tortilla's one time make them crispy light brown so they will be chewy crispy when they go into your mouth. Here is the trick have a plate lined with paper towels or parchment paper I prefer the parchment myself. Take out a tortilla and place on the paper to drain, immediately sprinkle with canned Parmesan cheese. This absorbs the grease and gives the tortilla's a really unique taste, continue until all the tortilla's you want are fried and sprinkled with the Parmesan. Keep fried ones warm under a piece of foil while you are frying them.
when all are done, put your heated shredded pork in first then add grated cheese of your choice, chopped tomatoes, chopped sweet onion,chopped iceberg lettuce and top with sour cream, salsa or taco sauce and sprinkle with chopped cilantro. These are amazing taco's.
I served these with organic canned black beans. I drain the beans and put them in a microwave safe dish and sprinkle the top of them with cheese and a little cumin. After heated serve with chopped onions, sour cream and again throw on some cilantro if you like.
Your meal is simple and very filling, depending of course on how many tacos you eat. My guy makes a platter full.
Here is the complete list of what you need for this dinner.

one pork roast from one and half to two and half pounds depending on many you are serving.
1/3 cup of apple cider
salt and pepper
onion and garlic powder for sprinkling on roast
two sprigs of fresh rosemary(can used dried not as flavorful)
fresh thyme( you can use dried not as flavorful)
corn tortillas for frying we like the white corn
canola oil
canned Parmesan cheese
sweet onion
iceberg lettuce
shredded cheese either jack, cheddar or a combo of both
taco sauce or salsa
sour cream
canned organic black beans
If there are left overs you can make taco bowls. Put some beans in the bottom of a deep individual bowl and top with a layer of pork and cheese and heat in the micro. then add the chopped onion, tomatoes, cilantro, lettuce and sauces. Grab a fork and dig in. Yumo!

Well it is another grand day here in Eugene Oregon. Hubby is out weeding the front area already.
He knows how I feel about weeding, not at the top of my list for loving life. I will clean the deck later and our patio furniture. As I mentioned in yesterday's blog we are moving our grill around to the deck. So that will happen today also. We will play games later at the patio table and perhaps have some white wine spritzers as we listen to the roar of neighbors mowers. Then we will grill.
Well time to marinate steak so must sign off.
Have a wonderful day.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

shrimp and rice

Well last nights dinner was quite delicious.
Of course I did tweak the recipe just a tad. Hubby liked it very much and he is not big on shrimp in his rice. This meal was so easy to prepare and it took less than twenty minutes.

1tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves of garlic minced
2 teaspoons cajun seasoning.(this I changed as I did not have Cajun seasoning on hand so I substituted Tony's Creole seasoning, added some red pepper flakes and black pepper(we like it spicy).
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails intact
4 plum tomatoes chopped
2 bunches of scallions chopped
3 cups cooked white rice
1/4 cup chicken broth or water
3 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
lemon wedges for serving
This recipe serves four, I cut it in half for the two of us.

Heat butter and olive oil in large skillet over med heat add garlic and stir about a minute until fragrant. Sprinkle the cleaned shrimp with the creole, pepper flakes and black pepper or cajun seasoning and add to the skillet. Cook until curled about a minute or so. Remove the shrimp from skillet.
Add the tomatoes and scallions to the skillet stirring about a minute or two. Add the rice and the 1/4 cup of chicken broth or water, add the shrimp back in, cover and cook until rice is heated through and the shrimp are opaque about three minutes or so. Sprinkle the parsley over the top and serve with lemon wedges. This is a really pretty dish with the red tomatoes and the green scallions, white rice and pink shrimp.
I served with roasted asparagus. I just clean and snap the asparagus where it easily breaks. I dried the asparagus pieces with a paper towel, put them on a parchment lined baking sheet, sprinkled them with kosher salt and pepper and drizzled extra virgin olive oil over them. Bake in oven at 375 degree's for about fifteen minutes.
So your entire meal is basically finished in twenty minutes cooking time.
So I know you will appreicate this one when you come home running through the door at the end of the day, kicking off your shoes, pulling off your bra and reaching for a glass of wine. You can say, oh yes, knowing this dinner is on the table before your first glass of wine is finished!

Well today is amazing here in the valley. Woke to bright sun breaking through early morning clouds. When I opened the front door and reached for the paper the air was so clean and fresh, like laundry brought in from the line.
My walk this morning will be lovely. The cherry and apple trees are now in full bloom so the street is a mass of pink and white. I do have tree pollen allergies but who can stay inside on a day like this?

We must get our big grill out of the garage this weekend. That is it's home in winter. We are anxious for our first grill which will be Sunday weather premitting. I have purchased a flat iron steak, a fave of ours as it is reasonable and so juciy and flavorful if prepared correctly.

Well that is all for today as the day is slip-slidding away and I need to be outdoors.

Friday, April 16, 2010


Well how funny is this? Zo's kitchen last night was not a happening place. We had leftovers reheated. So it was swiss steak and mashed potatoes for another dinner.
Actually we like leftovers that involve a sauce. Seems all just melds together for more layers of flavor. So I had a night off so to speak.
It is another typical spring morning in Eugene, Oregon. Partly cloudy but I do see the sun edging through the clouds occasionally. It is mild out and hopefully by this afternoon we will have some sunny skies. This time of year who knows what will happen. Like they say in Oregon in spring, wait five minutes and it will change. I have seen it go from thundering rain to sun in a matter of minutes and sometimes it does both at the same time. Spring showers are powerful though usually short lived. The tempature can drop by degree's in minutes. It is all quite exciting really, just be prepared.
Yesterday afternoon I did get outdoors a bit. It was pleasant. I always browse through my cooking magazines when sitting outside. I must have thousands of recipes clipped from the pages of magazines. I need to get a handle on that a bit. I have been trying to keep them organized but what a chore. I have too many places to search for a recipe that I know I have somewhere..............but where?
I must run errands today. Hubby will be home around four or so, we may have an early dinner.
I am going to make Cajun shrimp with rice and roasted asparagus with lemon and garlic. I have a nice bottle of Washington sate Pinot Gris that should be just perfect. The recipe for the shrimp is one I have not tried before, so we will see it could be a keeper or loser. Regardless you will hear the results tomorrow.
This morning I must walk. I skipped yesterday. I am pretty structured about my walking but sometimes like a naughty child I just do not do it.
Where we live I walk a block or so I am on a country paved road. To one side are neighborhoods to the other there are sheep( with lambs now, to sweet) and tree farms. So the diversion is nice. We have a lot of crows in the area due to the nut trees. Thet fly overhead looking like witches capes at Halloween with their black wings a flapping. I usually walk about forty-five minutes as that is my loop. So I best throw on those walking shoes and get our the door and on with my day.
Till tomorrow,

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Let's get acquainted with swiss steak

Well it's me Zo. Yes my name is Zo though derived from Zora. What kid would ever want to be named Zora? What was my mother thinking?
Anyhow this blog will basically be about me cooking dinners in my kitchen at night for my husband and myself.
I did not go to culinary school nor have I had any cooking lessons of any kind other than what my mother tried to teach me. I say tried as anyone who knew me when I was young also knew that when she slipped on her apron I was out the door. My apron hung next to hers but it was always clean. I did not want to spend time in the kitchen...........SO BORING. I preferred catching frogs while wading in the pond with my shoes on no less, not a fave of my Mom's believe me. I loved sitting in the apple tree in the back yard reading books and jumping in the hay piles in the barn. So what did I learn in those formative years about the preparation of food? Absolutely NOTHING!
Well I am now a cook of some standing with family and friends. It took years but I learned to love everything about the process of cooking.
I like to make out my weekly menu on Monday and shop for my ingredients on Tuesday, that squares me away for the week.
So I have a great adventure every evening in my kitchen. Me, myself and I. Oh sometimes I do get hubby to participate. We are in each others way for the most part but have a gay old time regardless.
Last nights menu was my version of an old fave, swiss steak. Actually I think of it as a bowl of heaven. Mashed potatoes with sour cream, butter and garlic are topped with a serving of tender sirloin steak that has slowly simmered in a deep rich,red sauce for hours. Just add some crusty bread for dipping up the extra sauce and no more be said, except OMG. My recipe will follow.
It was a nice day yesterday so hubby and I sat outdoors with our faces to the sun. We live in the pacific northwest so experiencing the warmth after the chill of a wet winter is so appreciated.
Well as the day progressed and the sun continued to shine we thought perhaps a little wine would be in order.It was nearing time for dinner prep so it all worked. I love sipping wine while cooking it relaxes me and makes my creative juices flow.
I starting by slicing my meat through the middle making several steaks about a quarter inch thick out of the one steak. Just like you would do making a cutlet. Then the meat is salted and peppered and dredged in flour and fried in olive oil till browned on both sides. Remove the meat from pot and in the drippings add chopped onion, chopped anaheim pepper and three cloves of garlic minced. Saute till the onions are translucent. Do not use high heat as the garlic will burn and that is nasty. Next add the canned tomatoes noted in the recipe, the tomato sauce, the wine, ketchup, balsamic vinegar the meat and the rest of the ingredients. Cover with a lid and simmer for approximately two and half hours. I use my big red heavy pot with a lid.
Now at this point I am through with the preparation for a while. So I can attend to the kitchen mess and set our little bar for this evening. Sometimes we dine at the dinning table, the nook table or I hate to say at the large square cocktail table in the front of the telly. Not a good thing but most times we save that for pizza and such.
I have an assortment of interesting dishware as I like to mix and match. I like to use my two deep medium size red bowls for this dish. Two small plates that I like make good bread plates they were find at a thrift store and unique. I normally use my Grandma's old sterling silverware, reminds me of her and keeps her close in my heart. I even put the silverware in the dishwasher, it does not harm it. Red and blue plaid napkins, a red candle and red wine to go with and we are set.
Now there is time to relax with my hubby and watch the news or whatever while dinner simmers away. No worries.
About a half hour before the swiss steak is done, peel your potatoes and chunk them cover with water to boil. I add two cloves of garlic at this time to the potatoes. This way the garlic cooks right along with the potatoes and becomes mild. Just be careful not to dump the garlic into the sink when you drain your potatoes. Then mash the spuds with a dollop of sour cream and a good size wad of butter add salt and pepper to taste. Do not add milk to the potatoes, keeping the ingredients simple makes the potatoes thick and creamy.
That is basically it. A meal that you can throw together in a pot or two and be visiting your guests while all simmers away.
Here are the ingredients for simmered swiss steak:
one and half pounds approximately of sirloin steak or sirloin petite steak.
four for dredging
three cloves of garlic
salt and pepper
1 14oz.of mexican style stewed tomatoes
1 14oz.of italian style stewed tomatoes
1 small can of tomato sauce
1 quarter cup red wine (a cabernet or red zin works well)
chicken broth if needed to extend sauce to cover meat while simmering
one half anaheim pepper seeded and chopped
one half small onion chopped
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
a healthy squirt of ketchup
1 teaspoon of paprika
the last ten minutes of cooking turn the heat up a little and take the lid off the pot to reduce the sauce somewhat.
Well that is it for today.
I know what I am fixing tonight and you will read about it on tomorrows blog.