What a gorgeous day~ the sunshine and brightness of the new leaves and green green grass inspire me to put some creativity into my cooking.
Whenever I’m talking to people about my passion for cooking and putting some fun into the kitchen, I always ask “What are you hungry for? What are you craving?” I love a new culinary challenge- be it an ingredient I haven’t used, food from an area of the world I haven’t tried, or a technique I haven’t mastered.
Do you ever scratch your head while standing in front of the fridge (or on your way home from work, or two minutes before dinnertime) and ask yourself, “what am I going to make today?” — well, me too.
That’s why I love a week like this where there are lots of themes to play with!
1. Cinco de Mayo… the perfect excuse for great Mexican cuisine.
I riffed on this recipe from Cooking Light, but instead of using enchilada sauce I used my own pico de gallo for a fresher (tomatoes, garlic, cilantro and lime juice) and less smoky (chili powder and cumin) taste.
I was so pleased with the sprouted wheat tortillas that I used for burritos a couple of weeks ago, that I bought and used them again for this recipe. Someday I’ll have to try making those from scratch… anyone out there done that?
I served the enchiladas with green onions, squash, and peppers that I tossed in a bit of olive oil and roasted for 30 minutes at 500 degrees until they were soft and a bit browned. These lend some beautiful color to the dish and filled me right up!
A little cheese goes a long way with these enchiladas… they are very healthy and satiated my craving for some of my favorite food, melted cheese.
2. Kentucky Derby- Burgoo Stew
Another riff from Cooking Light- it’s so fun to experiment with a base recipe!
I was curious about the origins of this stew, so looked it up in Wikipedia. Apparently this stew is traditional in Kentucky; that it often is called “Roadkill” stew because of the variety of meats it may contain (trust me, this version includes only Wedge-coop sourced meat!); is a part of celebrations or special events; and when people are hosting events in their homes people often bring the ingredients for the stew so it’s kind of like a pot luck stew.
This stew uses the same 5 basic steps as a soup would: Aromatics in this case is the meat. I sauteed the cubed meat in batches until it was nicely browned/Caramelized on each side. I deglazed the pan with turkey broth (instead of the beef broth called for in the recipe), then added back the meat and the Supporting cast of veggies: okra, corn, onion, green bell pepper, carrot, garlic, cubed potato, and lima beans. To finish the soup, I added some flavor and Spice: worcestershire for depth; canned diced tomatoes and cider vinegar for acid; brown sugar for a bit of sweetness; and thyme and parsley for flavor.
The stew is full of great veggies and meat, and leaves a nice taste on the tongue. It’s always fun to use some ingredients that rarely cross my mind: okra and lima beans would not normally show up on my grocery list. They lent a fun texture and color to the stew.
3. And just for fun, Italian sandwiches – the story of reuse in my kitchen
To fete my friend Amy as she graduated to Doctorhood, I decided to make homemade pizza at her gathering last Friday. I loaded up on Italian cured meats (think salami, prosciutto), toppings (fresh tomatoes, garlic, basil, olive muffaletta, and many more).
The perfect way to use the leftovers was to whip up some no-knead Ciabatta and craft some Italian sandwiches. I’d highly recommend this bread recipe (I made it with much less salt than called for- a great way to reduce sodium in your diet is to make your own bread, as commercially produced bread is a huge source of sodium in our diets).
The rest of the sandwich was a combination of creativity and fridge surfing. I made a simple, non-dairy pesto out of carrot greens and used that as the sauce on one half of the bread; and homemade pizza sauce on the other side. In the middle, you’ll find some crisped prosciutto, muffaletta/olives, grilled eggplant, and some mozzarella cheese.
I toasted the whole sandwiches in the oven until the cheese melted and cut them on the bias to serve. I plated them on a couple pieces of boston bib lettuce. It’s a pretty presentation and they taste absolutely fantastic too!