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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Sage, Mushroom and Sausage Stuffing!

I make the BEST stuffing ever. Well, I make the best turkey, mashed potatoes as well. But today I am sharing my favorite stuffing recipe.

Remember I didn't grow up celebrating Thanksgiving so I came upon it late. I don't have old family recipes. Everything I learned about cooking Thanksgiving has been from TV cooking shows. I watched, I took notes then cooked.

I used to use Stove Top Stuffing. Now there is nothing wrong with Stove Top stuffing and I like it but there is nothing like homemade stuffing. I never tried to make until I saw somebody on the Food Network do it. It might have been Rachel Ray, Bobby Flay or Tyler Florence. I honestly can't remember. It was at least 15 years ago when I tried making stuffing for the first time.The thing I learned from watching the Food Network was that it wasn't that difficult to make your own stuffing. And my willy-nilly recipe is as easy as it gets.

First I saute some sausage. Any good pork sausage will do and if you want to be healthy, use turkey sausage. If you want to get really crazy, add bacon. Then I take onions, shallots and celery and add them to the sausage and soften. Once they are soft, I then take a little Vermouth to deglaze the pan. You can also use white wine or red wine. Then I add salt, pepper and poultry seasoning to taste.

Then I take some chopped mushrooms and add them to the pan. Now I used 4 different types this time but if I can find more varieties, I add them. Saute everything together. I also add some butter as well. I then add some fresh sage and thyme and let it cook for a while.

I like using sourdough bread for my stuffing because it has a distinctive taste. But any bread will do. Ciabatta tastes really good too. Using different types of bread will also give you a good flavor. This year, I did sourdough and butter rolls. Anyway, I cut the bread into cubes and dump into a large bowl.

I then add a box of broth to the mixture on the stove, then I taste it to see if it needs more seasoning. I adjust the flavors then I dump it all into the bowl with the bread and mix it up real well. Now if it is too dry you can add more broth and/or vermouth. That's it. How easy peasy is that?

I stuff my bird so the stuffing will pick up some turkey juices. This year, I actually had and extra pan of stuffing that I cooked outside of the bird. To make it tastier, you can add some of the turkey juices to stuffing cooked outside.

It was so delicious and easy. Unless I am in a tremendous hurry, I always make my own stuffing. It's just one of those things that is delicious and not so much work that you can't make it yourself.

Buen Provecho!

Remember, to pop on over to Latina on a Mission and check out all of my other friends yummy Sabroso Saturday recipes! Delish!!!




Monday, November 22, 2010

WOO! I finally made tortillas!

I have been itching to make tortillas for months. I have never ever made tortillas pero se metio a mi cabeza (got into my head) to do it. And once it gets in my head, I have to do it.

Luckily, I had an opportunity to review a few cookware items from Cooking.com on my other blog, The Art of Random Willynillyness. (Make sure to go over on Wednesday and read my review!!) I had a hard time deciding what to review because there were too many choices but in the end, I decided on a tortilla press and comal (griddle) because I wanted to make tortillas. So it all worked out!

When I received my goodies, I was in hog heaven. I have never ever made tortillas in my life so I knew it would be an adventure. The first time I tried it was a disaster. I used Maseca Instant Masa. I read the instructions on the bag and it seemed easy enough. Masa, water and salt. I mixed them and it was messy. Now the recipe said to make dough balls and then use the press to make the tortilla. It didn't work. I knew I shouldn't have followed the recipe.

I was able to make one tortilla and then I gave up. It was just too frustrating because I had no idea what went wrong. I tweeted for some help and got it from my online friends. The best advice I got was to let the dough rest although the recipe didn't say that. So the next time I tried to make tortillas, I went all willy-nilly and did it my way.

I didn't follow the recipe. I made some adjustments like using warm water instead of regular water. I also added a little bit of vegetable oil to the mixture to keep it moist and make it not stick to the comal. I had no idea if that would work, but I did it anyway. Then I let the dough rest. This time it worked! I was able to make 4 decent tortillas.

Now, by no means were they pretty. They were a little off and demented but then again I am not the freaking Barefoot Contessa so it worked for me. I happened to have some Mexican chorizo in the fridge so I made some gallos for myself. Note: Gallos in a pure translation means roosters but in Costa Rica we call anything dumped into a tortilla a gallito!

So there you have it. I think if I continue practicing making tortillas, I will get so much better. I even tried making them without the press but that was a complete disaster. I have no idea how people make them by hand.

The comal is the best thing I got from Cooking.com. I was also able to use it to make pancakes. For once, my pancakes weren't a disaster! I so needed this griddle.

The lesson I learned is that random willy-nilly cooking works. If I hadn't gone all rouge and done my own thing, I wouldn't have been able to make it work. I still think my tortillas need a little tweaking. And I really want to try and find a cheese that could be incorporated into the masa to make cheese tortillas. OMG that would be so delish!!

See sometimes recipes just don't work and you just have to get creative and go with your gut.






Disclosure: I received the sample items to review on my other blog from Cooking.com

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy Crock Pot Pot Roast

YAY, it's Sabroso Saturday and I have the easiest recipe you could ever make. I promise it will be delicious as well. Again, there is no recipe just what you will need.

You need a crock pot, beef, mirepoix (onions, carrots, celery), spices and a bottle of red wine. That's it. You don't even have to thaw the beef. You just stick it int he crock pot.

Okay, first dice up some onions, celery and carrots and toss in the crock pot. Take a bottle of red win and proceed to dump that in as well. Now I have a pretty good sized crock pot so I can use the whole bottle. If your pot is smaller, then use less wine. Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and anything else you want. I didn't have any fresh herbs but if I had some, I would have dumped them in. My preference is thyme and a tiny bit of rosemary. You can add dried herbs if you wanted.

Pop in the meat and turn on the crock pot. That's it. Dinner is ready. Well, almost ready. I usually leave the crock pot on all day on low since I work but it really only takes about 5 hours.

Once the meat is done, I take out the beef. It will be falling apart so be careful. I take it out and put it aside. I have a really awesome stick blender, so I use that to blend the juice in the crock pot and the mirepoix to make a gravy. To thicken it, I use a little cornstarch. It will be the most delicious gravy you will ever have.

Serve with some mashed potatoes and biscuits. Well, that's how I served it and it was pretty damned good.

Buen Provecho!



Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wordy Wednesday - Yes, I am a total slacker!

Okay I have totally been ignoring this blog. I had tons of review to write and still have more on my other blog, The Art of Random Willynillyness. Work has been crazy busy and I even had to bring work home this past weekend. So I have been swamped.

We also have been taking a little time each weekend and driving around or doing stuff jut because. Once winter comes, we are usually stuck at home so we need to take advantage now. This past weekend we took a drive to Maggie Valley. There was nothing to see but we found this fantastic down home restaurant called Granny's Chicken Place that had some kick ass friend chicken. I also had rice and gravy for the first time and OMG it was delish! Who knew?

I finally get a week off next week and I am thrilled. I finally have the chance to clean the house from head to toe and, of course, make a Thanksgiving feast!! I have so many cool plans.

I also have to make tortillas. I got all my equipment and tried to make some Monday. I got one made before I gave up I got some good tips from friends online so I cam trying again this weekend. The one I made was delicious though. Hopefully, I will be able to get some decent ones because I have some chorizo in the frig begging for fresh tortillas!

Aside from that, nothing else is going on. It's been cold and rainy and nothing else going on. I think part of what is going on is that the holidays are here and I am being lazy! Hopefully, I will have some better posts next week.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Slow Cooker Carnitas


I just have to say that I love freaking carnitas. You all know that I am a pork fiend and will eat it day or night if I could. And carnitas are no exception!

Anyway, one day I got an email from god knows where and it included a recipe for crock pot carnitas, so I printed it out and decided to make it. I have made carnitas before by roasting a piece of pork all day but it is pretty time intensive. I figured this was a slow cooker recipe so I couldn't screw it up. So I bought my pork shoulder and got busy.

I don't have to tell you that I barely followed the recipe. Oh there were so many instructions and blah blah blah. So as usual, I just willy-nilly added and deleted ingredients from the recipe.

I started out with chopped onions and garlic. The recipe called for limes and oranges cut in quarters and thrown in with the meat. I was a little iffy on this part of the recipe but I did it nonetheless.

I should have followed my instinct and just used the juice. While the limes and oranges added lots of flavor, there was a little bitter taste to the sauce because of the lime pith. Next time, I am going to juice the orange and limes and zest the skins and add it to the crock pot.

The recipe gave me a long list of spices to add and, luckily, I had most of them and then some. I added about a 1/4 cup of water, red chile powder, my famous Santa Fe green chile powder, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper. I also added garlic and onion powder and fresh cilantro to the crock pot. I popped in the pork and set it to cook all day. The house smelled amazing.


After the pork was cooked, I took the pork out and shredded it to make the carnita tacos. You have to have diced onions and cilantro for carnitas. I also had some jalapenos and diced tomatoes. I also made some delish Costa Rican black beans as a side dish.


I wish I had a tortilla press because I would have so made my own tortillas but I opted for the easy thing and had store bought tortillas. I also had a little lime to squeeze over the carnitas. Let me tell you that they were absolutely fantastic.

I prefer roasted or fried carnitas because they are crunchier but this recipe (with a little tweaks) was easy and Tom said my carnitas were just as good as the ones we get at our favorite Mexican restaurant in town. WOO!!!!
And if I do say so myself, they were darn good! And the recipe was so easy. I love slow cooker cooking because you just add stuff to the crock pot and don't think about. Next week, I am going to do a crock pot pot roast that is so easy, even a child could make it!




Friday, November 12, 2010

Mama's got new glasses!

I finally got new glasses. God knows I needed them. My old ones just weren't cutting it anymore. Plus, I needed bifocals!!! Yes, no comments from the peanut gallery. I am getting old. The progressive lenses are a little weird and it will take me a while to get used to them but I really like my new glasses!







Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - WTH?

Okay, this guy was at the Dillsboro Pottery Fest this weekend. We walked by and I did a double take and was like WTH? I thought it was so cute I had to get a picture. Luckily, he allowed me to do so. He said it was good for the both of them. The dog was cold and so was he. I guess this was a good way to stay warm.




Monday, November 8, 2010

Dillsboro Pottery Fest

This Saturday we headed out to the Dillsboro Pottery Fest. We had first gone to Asheville to do our Sam's Club run. Then we headed out to Dillsboro, NC.

The Dillsboro Pottery est is well known around this area. Potters come from all over to participate. My friend Zan and her parents were also showing so we had to go. It was a lot of fun. But it was chilly. We didn't stay long and bought nothing although there were quite a few nice pieces.

But we saw Zan. We went to our favorite chocolate shop and had hot chocolate and bought some fudge. Yum! Here are some pictures for you to enjoy!!