Thursday, January 14, 2016

Mexican Fiesta Feast

Now pay attention because I’m old and grouchy and my favorite TV show starts in 10 minutes. So here’s what I made last night:

Mexican Fiesta Feast 

And here’s how I made it. But first ... The back story for this recipe:

• Invented out of desperation. 
• Found leftover hard tacos in cupboard.
• Not much else on hand. 
• Wanted to use can of refried beans before use-by date.
• No better ideas.

And so I threw this dish together. It was great! I’d love to say that the whole family went nuts over this, pleading: Wow, Mom! I want more!” but I’d be lying. Since our fish Frankie met his Maker (see Sad Funereal Note), Ron and I have been rattling around the house alone. 

The truth is, Ron doesnt call me ‘Mom.’ If he did, hed soon regret the error of his ways. We’re also not quite alone ... Our bodyguards and the Anonymous Taste-Testing Panel are here to keep us company and open the mountains of fan mail (a job that was formerly Frankie’s)As regular readers know, the panel gives each recipe a thumbs up or thumbs down. Really bad recipes get the finger. That aside, my bodyguard would pummel Rons bodyguard if Ron ever called me ‘Mom.’ 

Anonymous Taste-Testing Panel 

Mexican Fiesta Feast:

3-to-6 hard tacos
One 14-oz. (398 mL) can tomato sauce 
Few drops chipotle sauce, as desired
One 14-oz. (398 mL) can refried beans
Canned or bottled jalapēno peppers, as needed
1/4 lb. (125 g) ground beef, as needed 
1 small onion, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 c. (125 mL) cheddar or jack cheese, grated
Sour cream, for garnish

Preheat oven to 325 deg. F.  In large, shallow, oven-proof dish, coat tacos with tomato sauce. Set aside until tacos soften, about 40 min. Gently break up tacos, being careful not to mash (see Who Cares? Note). Sprinkle with chipotle sauce and dot with refried beans, spreading beans evenly over taco mixture. Scramble-fry beef with onions, seasoning to taste. Spoon beef over beans. Heap with grated cheese, as desired (see Knuckle-Rap Note). Bake 35-to-40 min., or until cheese melts and mixture is heated through. Top with sour cream as desired. Serves 2.

Note: I served this dish with white rice. I felt too tired and too lazy to do anything special with the rice and Ron knew I’d bean him if he complained (I told you I was grouchy!). If you want to do something out of the ordinary, try my quick-and-easy recipe for Spanish Rice. It’s indexed under “Spanish” and also under “Side Dish: Rice”.

Who Cares? Note: I sure don’t. Mash the tacos, if you want. I had to say “being careful not to mash ...” because it’s typical “recipe-ese,” and someone could be reading. Like you. And me. And Ron, of course, who never knows when there’s going to be a test.

Knuckle-Rap Note: Take it easy on the cheese, will ya? What you do is what you do, but 1/2 c. (125 mL) of grated aged cheddar contains 220 calories. 

Sad Funereal Note: Frankie can’t be replaced, so don’t try mailing me any lonely, orphaned fishes because I’ll only send them back. To read about Frankie’s exciting little life and his brief career as a mobster, see the Index under “Frankie.”  

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Dinner Party Series: A Casual Brunch

If youre new to this blog, check out my Dinner Party Series in the Index. Every now and then, I remember to take photos of our efforts in the kitchen as we entertain. This simple brunch of French toast and fruit highlights how color can perk up any table.

So wheres the French toast? With a houseful of guests over the holiday season, I wasnt about to photograph it or the juice, the bacon, the sausages, or the steaming cups of tea and coffee (Would you pause just a second and smile as you pretend to eat that bacon? Whoops! No flash! Lets try that shot again ...”) And again ... and again ... and again. 

If youve never made gourmet French toast, youll find three new takes on this old favorite at: 

If all you want is the basic yum!, check this super-simple recipe at: 

or try the easy French Christmas Croissants I made a couple of weeks ago: 

As for color? Never be afraid to use it - and use it liberally! Keep it in mind as you cook and serve, and everything will taste better than it already does.

Sitting at the kitchen table lends a casual feeling.

This couldn't be faster: Section 1/2 an orange
per person, layering with fresh berries. 

A tiny table needs a tiny centerpiece. These
snippets of red kalanchoe blooms were ideal!