Mexican Stuffed Mushroom and It’s a Freaking Clock

I should preface this post by saying I have friends that are teachers and they are excellent at what they do.  But as in every profession you will have a good number of bad apples.  As anyone who has been out and about this week would have heard, a smart kid got arrested for making a clock.

We live in a culture that celebrates the empty headedness of the Kardashians rather than celebrate and encourage kids to use their brains.  So a 14 year old who is smart and mechanical made a clock.  The teacher decided it was a threat and it escalated from there.  He gets hauled off in handcuffs and while charges were dropped he is still suspended!

What should have happened, instead of the knee jerk reaction the teacher went with, was the 14 year old brings in a homemade clock.  The teacher not understanding should have taken 5 seconds to ask the student what it was.  Why it’s a clock, and I made it.  Oh cool.  End of.  But no, school security is called then the police.  What I find incredibly sad is not once did common sense prevail.  You have several adults involved up to the point he is removed from the school and no one thought anything was wrong with this scenario.  And the school is saying now they did nothing wrong, they even sent home a memo patting themselves on the back, and they claim they can give him a good education.  If this happened to my child they would not go back to this school.

And you wonder why we’re in the state we’re in.  On the flip side it is heartwarming to see MIT, NASA, and even the White House supporting him.  I bet he’ll go far.

The other night I needed a quick meal for my husband and I.  Because of my back and hip, I can’t walk both dogs so I have to wait for my husband to come home.  Which means some nights we are looking at a late dinner.  Therefore I need something that can cook quickly but still be delicious.

We had some ground beef to use up so I bought large portobello caps and planned on doing a stuffed mushroom with Mexican flavours.

Mexican mushroom 1 2015

I am finding with the days getting shorter I’m losing the light!  Natural light is so important for photos but alas unless I make dinner at lunch time I’ll be out of luck.

In a skillet with a bit of olive oil brown the ground beef.

Mexican mushroom 2 2015

Chop up some onion, garlic, sweet pepper, and hot pepper.  Saute to soften the onions.

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When the meat is halfway cooked start cooking the mushrooms at 350F/175C.  Because the mushrooms are big they can take awhile to cook.  Add a few mushrooms, sliced, to the meat mixture.  Season with chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper, and hot sauce.  The amounts are up to you depending on how hot you want your dish.  Add a splash of lime juice and some cilantro.

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Spoon the mixture onto the mushroom caps and top with shredded cheese.

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Bake until everything is heated through and the cheese has melted.  Top with salsa and sour cream to serve.

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This is very filling without being too heavy.  And I love the spice of this dish.  🙂

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Tomato Garlic Beef Curry

There is a new Indian restaurant here in town.  We did make the mistake going on opening night.  We were getting cranky waiting for the food!  But once the food did arrive it was really good.  So I hope that they get things sorted because we would love to have a proper Indian restaurant in town.

I had ordered a spicy lamb curry with tomato, garlic and onion.  A slow cooked flavourful curry with a great balance of heat.  I had to recreate it.  I planned on doing that for my dad’s birthday but since plans got changed (for a good reason!) I decided to make it for the kids when they got back from FL as they both requested curry for dinner.  And they gave a thumbs up for adding spice.

Tomato beef curry 1 2015

This is a dish you want to slow cook, no short cuts on this on!  But other than the time it takes it is really simple.  Heat up a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet.  Season about a pound of stewing beef or lamb with sea salt and pepper.  Brown the meat on all sides.

Tomato beef curry 2 2015

Coarsely chop an onion and 3-4 cloves of garlic.  Add to the skillet.  We have been growing Ring O Fire peppers in our garden so I harvested a couple for this.  Start off with one pepper.  It’s a lot easier to add more heat than remove it.  Again, seeds increase the heat so use your judgement.

Tomato beef curry 3 2015

Saute for a few minutes to soften the onion then add a 14 oz can of crushed tomatoes.  Bring to a simmer.  Freshly grate about 1 – 2 inch/2.5-5cm piece of ginger, add to the skillet.  Chop a small handful of fresh cilantro.  Then season with sea salt and pepper, 1-2 teaspoons of garam masala, and a couple of tablespoons of red curry paste.

Tomato beef curry 4 2015

Cover and keep it on a low simmer for a few hours.  Stir occasionally so it doesn’t catch on the bottom.  Half way through cooking test the heat and if you want more add more hot pepper.  Adjust for the curry seasoning with the paste if needed as well.  Meanwhile, my husband made up some incredible naan for us to enjoy.  We thought the naan would be enough so I didn’t do up any rice.

Tomato beef curry 5 2015

I was really pleased with this, it tasted close to what I had at the restaurant.  It was hearty without being heavy.

Today is the first day of school for the kids.  Our daughter started high school and our son is starting middle school.  Wondering where time is going.  But to make it a fun day I’m making pavlova and and chicken cordon bleu.  Can’t wait to hear all the stories!

Jalapeno Relish – Think It’s Finally Hot Enough!

Before we rolled up our sleeves and tackled the house we had to contend with frost warnings.  After a flurry of pepper picking I had to do something with them so they didn’t go to waste.  Because we have a lot of hot peppers, jalapeno relish sounded like a good idea.

Not only was a it a good idea it is a really quick relish to make when you list is long.  In fact it is faster to do it than this post!  I followed this recipe for the most part to make my relish.

Jalapeno relish 1 2014

This is all done in the food processor.  I sliced about 12 jalapenos and 1-2 Ring O Fire peppers.  I figured I was going to make this really hot for my husband.  I keep trying with the heat but while he enjoys the hot stuff I make it doesn’t seem to blow him away like it does me.  He likes things spicy!

Jalapeno relish 2 2014

Add 4-5 cloves of garlic, half a small onion, 1/4 tsp cumin, 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp sea salt, 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar, and a large handful of cilantro.

Jalapeno relish 3 2014

Pulse away until you get the consistency you want.  Freeze or can the extra relish.

Jalapeno relish 4 2014

And yes this blew him away.  🙂  Finally!  It’s hot enough to use sparingly on dishes.

Make Your Taste Buds Stand Up – A Spicy Stir Fry

This morning is much quieter compared to the last 24 hours or so.  A long line of thunderstorms rolled through.  It was like Mother Nature was using a cricket bat to squash an ant and she kept missing and kept trying.  The house shook quite a bit.  Guinness, who normally could care less about storms, looked like he wanted to hide.  He was out of sorts!

A few of my friends faced flooded back gardens and they were keeping an eye out on the reservoir dam above the town.  Fortunately that didn’t overflow as it’s up on a hill and there are a lot of homes below it.  They wouldn’t be destroyed so much as badly damaged and with winter coming it’s something that definitely wants to be avoided.  But despite the crazy storm the town was fine and we’ll dry off at some point.  More rain today.

At the beginning of all on Wednesday I decided to do a spicy stir fry.  That day was extremely hot and humid so all the A/Cs were going and I didn’t want to do a heavy dinner.  As it was just my husband and I a stir fry seemed like a good choice.

A very easy and quick meal to make.  I chose to do a vegetarian dish with hot peppers.

As everything gets cooked at the same time I prepped the rice noodles first.  One way to make them is soak them in hot water for about 8-10 minutes.

Stir fry 1 2013

I then chopped up all the veg I wanted to use.  I love stir fries with all the colours.  The fresh ginger really makes the flavours pop as well.

Stir fry 2 2013

In our wok I heated up some peanut oil and once hot I tossed in all the veg and stirred it.

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I added two heaping spoonfuls of chili garlic paste, this will wake you up!  A bit of lime juice, soy sauce, and cilantro completes the dish.

Stir fry 4 2013

Once it is nearly finished I toss in the noodles to coat and then serve.

Stir fry 5 2013 Stir fry 6 2013

Garnish with peanuts and hot peppers over and above the hot peppers used in the dish.  Had a great kick to it!

 

Fire Roasted Salsa

As I was up to my elbows in food prep yesterday I got a little notice from WordPress saying Happy Anniversary!  A whole year has passed in a blink.  A year ago I took a deep breath, threw caution to the wind, and became an official blogger. I had no idea what to expect but I remember doing my first post and then wondering if anyone would read it.  To my surprise I quickly got a comment, and then another, and I got to discover some amazing bloggers out there and find out what a wonderful community it is.  So a big thank you to all who take the time out of your busy schedule to read and comment on my posts.  It means a lot.  🙂

We had another round of harvesting a ton of tomatoes so it was the salsa’s turn to be made.  We first made my husband’s salsa which is a raw salsa and great for a quick dish before heading to a party.  To make his we processed tomatoes, sweet peppers, hot peppers, onion and peaches.  It is seasoned with salt, pepper, lime juice, and cilantro.  For his we used the grinder on the Kitchen Aid then we drained the salsa a bit to thicken it.  It is always a hit whenever we bring it to BBQs.  Something about fresh out of the garden veg to make this so tasty.

That only took a portion of the harvested tomatoes so I wanted to try a new salsa with similiar veg but a different technique.  Richard from REMCooks posted this salsa and I thought I would take his technique and apply it to the ingredients I wanted to use.  It is not a hard salsa to make but given the volume of veg I had it took me all afternoon as I had to stage various ingredients and process them in stages but I got there in the end!

I started with the tomatoes first and instead of roasting them on the grill I had to do it in the oven as the cookie sheet was much bigger than my grill pan and even then I had to do two batches.  I heated the oven to 350F/ 177C.  On the large cookie sheet I did one layer of tomatoes and drizzled them with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Fire roasted salsa 1 2013

I roasted the tomatoes until they looked like this:

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I like Richard’s tip about roasting the garlic in the skins on the grill so I gave that a shot.  Per his advice I started those first then about halfway through I added the onion.  For this I used one very large red onion.

Fire roasted salsa 4 2013 Fire roasted salsa 5 2013

Remove and set aside.  While the onions and garlic were cooking I gathered the peppers from the garden and the peaches from the co-op.  Found some nice white peaches.  The peppers I used were cayenne from the co-op and hot wax, jalapeno, poblano, and sweet peppers from the garden.  I sliced the hot peppers lengthwise and cleaned them to prep them for the grill.

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While I was roasting them on the grill I got out a large bowl and chopped the onion and put that in the bowl.  I also chopped up the sweet peppers and put them in the bowl.  I left them uncooked for a bit of texture.  I then put together the food processor and put in the first batch of tomatoes, half the garlic (skins removed), a handful of cilantro and set aside for the peaches and hot peppers.

Fire roasted salsa 8 2013

When I went out to check on the peppers I discovered I ran out of gas.  My first thought this was now going to be a two day process but my daughter reminded me the cast iron griddle has a grill side to it.  Thank goodness!  I got that heated up and brought the peppers in to finish.

Fire roasted salsa 7 2013

Once they were done I took the smaller hot peppers and added them to the food processor and then chopped the rest of the larger hot peppers and added those to the bowl.  The trick is to have a bit of heat but make it so most people can eat it.  I wanted the hotter peppers to be evenly distributed through the salsa.

Fire roasted salsa 10 2013

The last ingredient to grill was the peach.  I love grilled peaches and will have to make some as a dessert as my daughter requested some soon.  They impart a lovely flavour.

Fire roasted salsa 9 2013

Add half to the to the food processor and process until it’s a bit chunky.  Repeat with the second half of the ingredients and add all to the bowl.  Then add lime juice to taste.  If it needs a bit more salt add that as well and then stir it all together.

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We like to have our salsa with lime flavoured tortilla chips.  We also had some last night with tacos.  It was pretty yummy!

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My 9 year old son’s take on this was that there was a punch of heat but it didn’t take away from all the flavours.  🙂

Fresh Peach BBQ Sauce

All this week I have been blogging about what we created in the kitchen on Sunday.  By the end of the day we were tired.  A good tired but also I briefly thought about Chinese takeaway.  Only briefly!  My husband mentioned that we should really use up the peaches we had bought from the farmer’s market before they go off.  I had defrosted some chicken and we thought a BBQ sauce would hit the spot.  Fortunately BBQ sauces are easy to put together!  We still had to walk the dogs after all.  🙂

Of course it would need a bit of heat so out to the garden I went one last time for the hot peppers.  As I mentioned earlier my fingers were burning!  Which I mentioned on Facebook and a friend of mine who is a nurse said rubbing alcohol removes the pepper oils from your skin.  I will make sure I have some on hand for this going forward!  Not sure what you do if you get the oils in your eyes though.

So I gathered my ingredients together.

Peach BBQ Sauce 1 2013

I heated up a bit of olive oil and sauteed a few cloves of chopped garlic, chopped bell pepper, half an onion, and chopped hot peppers.

Peach BBQ Sauce 2 2013

Then I chopped up two peaches and a few tomatoes from the garden and added that to the mix.

Peach BBQ Sauce 3 2013

I just love the colours in this dish!  Add 4 T of apple cider vinegar and bring to a simmer then add 1/2 cup of brown sugar and stir well.

Peach BBQ Sauce 4 2013

To finish off I added a spoonful of stone ground mustard and a heaping spoonful of tomato paste.  A bit of salt and pepper and I was done.  I didn’t add too many spices to this as I wanted the peach and veg to really stand out.  In about 15 minutes I had a really good BBQ sauce ready to go.

Peach BBQ Sauce 5 2013

To prep the chicken I used the Salt Lick dry rub on both sides and put them on the grill.  Halfway through cooking I basted the chicken.  Once it was done I spooned some more sauce over the chicken to serve.

Peach BBQ Sauce 6 2013

It was a great light meal with grilled corn and some sauteed green beans my husband made.

Can You Stand the Heat? Hot Pepper Jelly Coming Right Up!

I had a fabulous day with my husband in the kitchen.  Every once in awhile we’ll just make a bunch of stuff which means good things for upcoming posts!  The first thing we made was hot pepper jelly.  It’s that time of year where our peppers are bursting with hot and sweet.  And it is also a jelly that is very easy and fast to make.

The recipe calls for mostly sweet peppers but as this is supposed to be hot pepper jelly I ignore that and just make sure I have 4 cups total of peppers.  The guide I use came from allrecipes.com.  It only called for 1/4 cup of hot peppers!  You have to have some zing in this.

Hot pepper jelly 1 2013

I grabbed poblano, hot wax, and jalapeno peppers as well as a few bell peppers.  I chopped them and then let them drain for a bit.  You don’t want this overly watery.

Hot pepper jelly 2 2013

In a saucepan add the peppers, 1 cup apple cider vinegar, and 1.5 oz of pectin.  As you cook this if you need more pectin add a bit more.  I found this amount to work for these peppers.

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Stir well then bring to a simmer.  I have it simmer while the water for the jars is coming to a boil.  It allows the flavours of the peppers to come out nicely.

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Bring it to a boil then add 5 cups of sugar.  Sounds like an insane amount doesn’t it.  But it works.  But because of all the sugar I definitely want some heat to come through with the hot peppers.

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Keep stirring as the sugar blends in.  Then bring it to a boil for about a minute or so.

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Can in the jars after you sterelise them.  Then boil for 5 minutes.  Allow to cool.

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It is lovely on some nice aged cheddar.

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Enjoy!  🙂