Archive for the 'spicy' Category

04
Jan
14

Hella Hot Jalapeno Pizza

I don’t consider myself a total wimp when it comes to spicy food.  In fact I prefer food to be a bit on the zippy side.  But I made a pizza for last night’s dinner that burned my fingers!  I’m not talkin’ burnt from heat.  The peppers made my fingers burn!  And they still smarted this morning.  Here’s how it all started:

 blog shots 2014 002-001blog shots 2014 004-001I didn’t have a lot of topping stuff on hand last night, so I decided to load the piazza up with fresh jalapeños and the nacho style jarred variety. There is also fresh pineapple, onions, soyrizo, chopped tomatoes and cheese in there.  so, I load it all up and slide into  the hot oven.

blog shots 2014 012-001And there it is, starting to cook.  You can see all of those peppers in there, looking all innocent.

blog shots 2014 014-001It’s almost ready.

blog shots 2014 021-001It’s go time.  Normally, I can eat three slices of my homemade pizza, no problem.  Seriously, I could only make it through 2 slices, and that second one took me a while.  I was savoring it, right?  Actually, I had to let my mouth cool down in between bites.  Can you believe Katie not only put crushed red pepper on her slices but also a TON of cayenne pepper!?!  Ok, I put crushed red pepper on mine, too, out of habit.  I really didn’t need to do that.

I noticed my hands were burning a bit all evening after dinner.  At least I had the foresight to remove my contacts before concocting this blistering affair, but I still managed to rub my eyes during the course of the evening, causing a bit of pain there.

Leftovers for lunch today.  Where are my food safety gloves?

17
Apr
12

Waffles. They’re not just for breakfast.

I love waffles.  I never realized how much I love them until I received the ultimate waffle maker.  Katie gifted me with this fabulous beauty for my birthday this year.

The Kitchen Aid Pro Line

I always coveted the fancy flippy Belgian waffle makers in restaurants and hotels.  Now I have one of my very own and use it weekly.  I thought people were kidding when I read reviews online saying that they make waffles everyday.  Really?  Well, Katie eats a waffle almost every day.  A quarter of one, at least.  They make a great snack.  Just heat them on a low setting in your toaster to re-crisp.  I make a batch on the weekend and freeze them.  Individually wrapped and placed in a freezer bag, they stay fresh for at least a month or two.  Although, we go through them pretty quickly.  I made a big batch to send to Katie’s work for a breakfast function her department was hosting.  All she had to do to re-heat them was place them directly on the oven racks of a pre-heated oven for five minutes and they were good to go.  I heard a lot of the food was left over, but all of the waffles disappeared!

Best waffles I've ever tasted

I’ve made whole grain waffles and chocolate chip waffles.  On Valentine’s Day I made chocolate waffles and served them with a scoop of Hagen Daz Vanilla ice cream and warm cherry sauce on top. But our favorite waffles are the spicy savory kind.  They don’t need topping at all!  I’ve added a few extras to the recipe that came with my waffle maker and they are soooo good.  Try it and you be the judge.

Spicy Cornmeal Cheddar Waffles

 1 ½ cups flour

½ cup cornmeal

1 1/3 cups shredded cheddar cheese (or cheese of your choice

1 tablespoon baking powder

2 teaspoons sugar

½ teaspoon salt

½ -1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

 

1 2/3 cup milk or non-dairy milk (I use soy)

2 eggs

1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil

 

1 serrano pepper, chopped

1 jalapeño pepper, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 – 3 tablespoons soyrizo

In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, cheese, baking powder, sugar salt and cayenne pepper.  In another bowl combine milk, eggs and oil.  Add liquid to dry ingredients; mix gently unitl moistened.  Gently fold in the remaining savory ingredients.

Cook in a preheated waffle maker according to instructions.  They are usually done in about 3 ½ to 4 minutes.

Light, crispy, spicy goodness

 

14
Aug
11

Where’s the Beak?

The Artful Dodger hipping Oliver to street lingo

“You do know what a beak is, don’t cha?” “It’s a birds mouth, isn’t it?” “For your information, a beak’s a magistrate.” That line from “Oliver”never made sense to me. Where is the connection? Anyone?

The Spanish word for beak is pico. I had a friend in Mexico nick named Pico because he was blessed with a hooter resembling that of Ringo Starr.

Pico de gallo is a popular salsa we like to pour over our tacos and enchiladas. But why is it called “rooster’s beak?” Again, where is the connection?

I consulted the “Food Lover’s Companion”, my first go-to book when I have a culinary connected conundrum. According to that source, “Pico de gallo [PEE-koh day GI-yoh] ….is a relish made of finely chopped ingredients like jicama, oranges, onions, bell peppers, jalapeño peppers and cucumbers along with various seasonings. This condiment was so named because it was once purportedly eaten with the thumb and finger, an action that resembles a rooster’s pecking beak.” Ok, I guess that makes some sense.

Here’s what I found on Wikipedia:

Another suggested etymology is that pico is derived from the verb picar, which has two meanings: 1) to mince or chop, and 2) to bite, sting or peck. The rooster, gallo inSpanish, is a common metaphor for the hyper-masculine (“macho“) male in Mexican culture. One example of such machismo is taking pride in withstanding the spicy burn of chilis.

However, neither theory can be considered definite, as they assume the use of hot chilis. In many regions of Mexico the term “pico de gallo” refers to any of a variety of salads, condiments or fillings made with sweet fruitstomatoestomatillosavocado or mild chilis — not necessarily with hot chilis, or any chilis at all. Thus, the name could be a simple allusion to the bird feed-like minced texture and appearance of the sauce.[2]

The pico de gallo I am used to seeing and eating in California and the Pacific Northwest is more of a salsa or salsa fresca. Tomatoes, onion and garlic are the staple. And it’s chunky yet a bit on the soupy side, so I can’t imagine trying to peck that up with your dedos (that’s Spanish for fingers).

My simple, spicy version of Pico de Gallo

Enough scratching and pecking for the significance of the name of this spicy concoction. Here is my simple version of Pico de Gallo:

3 ripe tomatoes, finely chopped

½ yellow onion, finely chopped

3 large cloves garlic, finely minced

1 large jalapeño, finely minced

salt and pepper to taste

chopped cilantro (optional)

Rough to finely chop the ripe tomatoes

These summer beauties were the perfect ripeness!

chop the onions

make sure they are pretty fine

ditto the jalapenos - keep the seeds if you want the heat or remove for a less heated condiment

Remove the skins from the garlic cloves

The easiest way to remove the skins from garlic is to chop off the hard, woody end and using the flat of your chefs knife, give it a good firm bash with your fist.  Did that make sense?  Place the knife on it’s side over the garlic clove.  Make a fist like you are playing one-potato-two-potato and smash it down on the knife.  One smash is all you need do.

Finely chop all of that beautiful garlic

Place it all in a mixing bowl and give it a good stir.  Season with salt and pepper to taste,  You can also add chopped cilantro if you like.  I didn’t have any on hand the day I made this, otherwise it would have made it in there too.

Spoon over your favorite Mexican dishes or anything that you like. It's great on it's own with some tortilla chips.

Whether you call it pico de gallo, salsa fresca, tomato relish or Mexican ketchup, it doesn’t get any easier to make.  Team it up with some guacamole and get the party started.  Hmmm….where’s that avocado?

31
Mar
11

All right, already, I’ll write something!



Hi, Vampire Gran here. I'm sorry I haven't posted here in Vampire Gran's Kitchen for a few months. Other interests have dragged me away, as I am sure happens to all of you from time to time. I'm back for the moment and ready to share some stories of what has kept me away. Hopefully they will be of some interest to someone out there. Let's get started, shall we?

The thing about seeing some of your blog readers in person on a regular basis is they can give you a hard time about not posting.  Right, Cat and Robert H.?  Yes, I am totally guilty of not keeping up with my self-professed passion of interest.  I’m sorry.  And I wish that I could tell you all about some amazing adventures of travel or winning the lottery or some such excitement, but there has been none of that.  Well, there was a nice trip to the coast recently and I will write about that, but not today.

Truth is I have allowed other interests to tear me away from my beloved blog.  For starters, I bought a new sewing machine.  It even has a name!  Anna. I did not name her, she came into my life already saddled with that moniker.  She’s a Baby Lock brand and she is so sweet!  Our old Singer needed some TLC and the cost of having that overhauled was about $50.00 less than a brand new machine, so, you do the math.  Anyway, I’ve been having fun mending a ton of clothes around here and making some frocks for my Barbies.  I’ve also been playing a lot of pool, getting ready to be on a 9 ball team with Katie starting tonight. I don’t want to make our team look bad by being a sucky player!

In January I taught a cooking class.  My friend, Angel, is the volunteer co-ordinator at North West Ministries and she asked me to come and teach again.  I taught a tofu class there this past November and it was a lot of fun.  Last time I had a set curriculum complete with printed recipes for everyone and actually knew what I would be working with.  Angel and I thought it would be fun to do a “black box” class.  A black box test is what you get in culinary school.  You don’t know what you will be cooking until you open the box and see what your ingredients are.  Since there is a full food pantry at the church and you never know what will be there, we thought it might be helpful to the people who depend on that food to learn how to utilize it and make it tasty.  Hence, the “Black Box” cooking class.

Fortunetly, Angel had a volunteer to help me all lined up.  His name was Robert and he was awesome.  Turns out he does personal cheffing so it really turned out to be the Patty and Robert show.  He wasn’t very vocal, so I did all of the talking, but I turned the stir fry portion of the class over to him and we worked well together.  Plus he was a whiz at keeping the kitchen spic and span as we worked!

A sweetheart of a guy came in and took pictures and a little video that I will share with you now.

It’s not the greatest video, but it’s something to share with you.   I wish it had some music or narration so you could get a better idea of what we were making.  Here are a bunch of still shots where I will attempt to describe what the class was like.  I’ll share a recipe at the end of this post.

As I mentioned, there is a food pantry at the church for people in need and this is some of the pretty nice produce that was available the day I taught the "black box" class.

I'm adding olive oil to some peeled and cubed butternut squash in this shot. The photographer arrived a little late for the actual cubing of the squash. This student was fascinated with everything. She had never had butternut squash before was was ready to try it.The baking sheet was lined with foil. After adding olive oil, salt and pepper to the butternut squash, I spread it all out on the baking sheet to roast.Here I am starting to make a glaze for the squash. There is some soy sauce in the bowl and the photographer asked me to show the bowl for the picture. Not too exciting as I had not added the remaining ingredients yet.

Squeezing in some lime juice to the sauce. Fresh lime juice is better but we're using what we have on hand, remember?

Whisking it all together. There's my most curious student. Wish I could remember her name. She was pretty sweet and very enthusiastic.

He moved in for a close-up of the whisking action.

This is a really nice food pantry. They even had Portobello mushrooms! I marinade it with lots of garlic, olive oil, soy sauce and hot sauce.

We cooked this mushroom off in a frying pan.  At home I would have used a grill pan or the barbecue.  The class really was impressed with this simple, yet unusual for them, treat.

That's Robert, my volunteer assistant. Not sure what was up with the dark glasses. I'm pretty sure he could see what he was doing.

See, there really was a few more students besides my number one fan there.

I look a little confused in this shot. Getting ready to measure some rice.

Robert is on veggie chopping detail for his stir fry.

He was a lot more precise than I would have been!

I'm telling you, if you need emergency food assistance, contact NorthWest Ministries in Portland. Look how nice these vegetables are!

Let's get some onion in there.

Vampire Gran taking the squash out of the oven for a bit of a stir before adding the glaze.

Doing a little glazing action now

Still at the stove while students look on

Meanwhile, back at the prep table, Robert keeps cutting up the beautiful veggies

We're turning, we're glazing

Unfortunately, the photographer had to leave before our feast was ready, so there are no photos of the complete meal!  Everyone sat down to a meal of grilled Portobello mushroom, vegetable stir fry over steamed rice, mixed green salad with a simple vinaigrette and sweet and spicy roasted glazed butternut squash.  We did it all in a two-hour time slot, including clean up and consumption of the meal.

I love this squash recipe.  I actually adapted it from a recipe that was on Vegan Good Things (you can click on her link over there on the right under  BlogRoll).  the original recipe was for Brussel sprouts which is fantastic, but I have found that this glaze works great with any vegetable.

SWEET AND SPICY BUTTERNUT SQUASH

1 Butternut Squash, peeled and cut into 1/2′ – 3/4′ cubes
olive oil
Kosher salt
freshly cracked black pepper
In a large bowl, toss cubed squash in small amount of olive oil.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Spread on foil lined baking sheet and place in a preheated 350 degree oven.  Roast for about 20 minutes.

GLAZE

2 – 3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
juice of one lime
hot sauce to taste ( I usually free pour about 2 tablespoons)

Use the same bowl that you tossed the oil and squash in.  Mix glaze.  You are going to glaze the squash AFTER FIRST ROASTING IT FOR 20 MINUTES.
Remove squash from oven and toss in glaze.  Spread glazed squash back onto the baking sheet, reserving some for drizzling before serving, and return to oven.  Bake for another 15 minutes or until the squash is tender and caramelized.

That’s it.  You are done and it is delicious.

04
Sep
10

Girls just wanna see 80’s icons

  

Yeah, that’s Cyndi Lauper.  Yeah, we got to see her on September 1, 2010.  And, yeah, she can still rock the house.  Well, in this case, she rocked the Oregon Zoo here in Portland.  My only regret is that I never saw her perform live during the 80’s.  But I’m really glad I got to see her this week.  The fact that she is 7 months older than me and bouncing around like a little kid up on that stage was totally inspiring.  Her most recent song styling is the blues, and baby, she can sing the blues.  I believe she can sing anything.  Her range is phenomenal.  A couple times she apologised to the elephants (the open lawn amphitheater was near the elephant habitat) because she would hit these amazing notes and hold ’em for a crazy long time.  

She still uses some of her old moves from the 80's

We were camped a bit far from the stage, but thanks to Katie and her trusty Nikon D70s and a fancy pants zoom lens, she was able to capture some pretty good shots of the diva.  Actually, it was probably a blessing that we were a bit farther away with our camera.  There was one woman who actually caught the rath of Ms. Cyndi Lauper.  Apparently the woman was videoing the show instead of appreciating the fact that she had a perfect spot to watch all of the action live, up close and personal.  Cyndi wasn’t havin’ it.  She told the woman to get the camera out of her face.  She told her that she was up there singing for her and that she should have the courtesy to watch and enjoy the show, because she was there now.   Later, I guess the woman continued to tape, because Cyndi looked at her in disgust again and said “You’re really pissing me off, girly!”  Tell her how you really feel, Cyndi.  

As I mentioned, the venue was an amphitheater lawn affair.  That means people drag blankets, lawn chairs and food to these concerts.  Thankfully the zoo allows outside food.  The only thing you are forced to purchase (besides the tickets to the show) are beverages.  I saw A LOT of wine bottles being purchased.  And, the sight of A LOT of staggering zombies at the end of the night tells us that the zoo made A LOT of money off the sale of booze and semi expensive concert tickets.  

Of course, Vampire Gran dragged a blanket, lawn chairs and food for the evening.  Our picnic consisted of Spicy Veggie “Chicken” Wraps, watermelon cubes, grapes, bagel chips, hummus and Molasses Ginger cookies.  I had left over ingredients so I made the wraps again for dinner last night.  Here’s how I made ’em: 

First I make a sauce using equal portions of frozen orange juice concentrate and Veganaise.  Then add habenero powder to your desired heat preference. 

three ingredients, could not be easier

 

mix it up, there's your sauce

I sauteed Trader Joe’s chickenless strips with garlic and onion powder, dried oregano, kosher salt and cracked pepper. 

tastes just like.........

Then I mixed it with the sauce to keep it moist. 

The strips soak up more flavor and keeps it from drying out

While the strips are soaking, I thinly sliced some green cabbage, julianned red and yellow bells pepper, small diced some red onion and rough chopped cilantro.  Mix it all together ala salad. 

Ooooo, purty!

Then, in individual shallow bowls, I prepared the innards for these spicy wraps.  I made two wraps hence I used two bowls. 

almost ready to toss

You could actually serve this as a salad at this point.  I tossed it, then added cubed avocado. 

this is making me hungry

Ok, now heat up a wrap on a griddle or wide saute pan.  I used Trader Joe’s 100% whole wheat wraps – mighty good.  Heat until soft and pliable. 

Nice and pliable? Lets get ready to wrap it up!

Now we're cookin'

Mound the filling in the center of the wrap…… 

Step 2....

Fold the bottom up and away from you, sorta burrito style, but only the bottom gets folded. 

Almost done

Fold one side over and then tightly roll until the whole shebang is encased with the top open, showing off the delicious, mouth-watering contents.  This may take some practice, but if you are familiar with making burritos, you will have no problem. 

Mmmmmm.......wanna bite?

Nice!

Oh, brain fart!  I forgot one very important SPICY ingredient.  Jalapenos.  You can use fresh or jarred.  I opted for the jarred in this case.  We do like our food spicy and hot, so I get a little heavy handed sometimes. 

Now we're talkin' spicy

Right, now wrap that all up again.  These wraps make great road food.  Since we didn’t want to haul an ice chest to the zoo, I just wrapped them in plastic wrap and popped ’em into my backpack along with all the other food.  If you’re not going to devour them within, say an hour and a half, I would keep ’em cool in the refrigerator or an ice chest. 

I mentioned Molasses Ginger cookies up there, didn’t I?  These are, hands down, my favorite cookie.  But, guess what?  I’m gonna leave you hanging like a season finale.  And I, like Cyndi Lauper and her band here, am going to take a bow and hopefully leave you wanting more.  Good Night!!!!!! 

 

 

THANK YOU AND GOOD NIGHT!!!!!!

20
Jun
10

Deli? We don’t need no stinkin’ deli!

And neither do you.  Here is an easy, quick deli style salad that you can whip up in the privacy of your own kitchen.  It features quinoa, one of my personal favorite grains.  If you are not yet familiar with quinoa (pronounced KEEN-WAH) I strongly suggest that you two should get acquainted.  It cooks up like rice, is packed with protein and it looks pretty cute!

Colorful, tasty Quinoa Salad

1 cup uncooked quinoa

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 bunch green onion, cleaned and thinly sliced

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1/2 orange bell pepper, diced

1 celery stalk, diced

1 jalapeno, diced (I prefer to use the whole pepper including the membrane and seeds, but if you are a light weight, you can ditch them)

2 tablespoons rough chopped cilantro

Bring 1 1/2 cups salted water to a boil.  Add quinoa, stir and lower heat to simmer.  Place lid on pot and simmer for 19 minutes.  Remove from heat, stir to fluff.  Spread cooked quinoa on a baking sheet and allow to cool.

Once quinoa has cooled, place in a large bowl and toss with remaining ingredients.  Make dressing:

1/4 cup lime juice

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 – 2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon of cayenne, if you want more kick to it

Whisk all together in a small bowl.  Pour over salad and toss to coat well.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Ready for it's close up, just to make you hungry

I think this is best after the ingredients have had a chance to mingle and marry.  Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.  This will last for about 3 days in the refrigerator, but it never lasts that long at our house!

17
Mar
10

Enchilada casserole tutorial

 A few weeks ago we had  a party at our place  and I made a vegetarian “chicken” enchilada casserole.  Everyone loved it!  Some people were very confused, saying “I thought you guys were vegetarian; there’s chicken in here!”  Well, yeah, but no.  There wasn’t any dead yard bird in there, just good ol’ Trader Joe’s Chickenless Strips.  I’ve posted a picture of the box a few posts back.  I like using those things.  They are so handy when it comes to doing recipe reduxes involving chicken.  Trying to make mostly vegetable heavy meals now days, I like to indulge in some processed stuff once in a while.  Moderation in everything, right?

The night before last I decided to make the casserole for dinner.  Since it was such a hit at the party, I thought I should share it with my blog audience this time.  So here goes:

The first layer

This is made like a lasagna, in layers.  The first layer I spooned in some green enchilada sauce (yes, from a can!), two corn tortillas (or what ever fits in your dish), sprinkle a little grated cheese (I used pepper jack and cheddar), chopped onion, sliced olives, chopped jalapeno, and chopped Trader Joe’s Chickenless Strips (I sauted these first in a little olive oil, added garlic powder, cumin, salt and chili powder to taste).

Layer two more corn tortillas

Ladle more green enchilada sauce on top

Add a little grated cheese

Add the chickenless strip chunks, sliced olives, chopped jalapeno, chopped onions

Load the top up with cheese

And bake it until it looks like this!  Preheat your oven while you are building your casserole to 350 degrees.  Bake for about 30 minutes, until it is browned and bubbling.  The other night when this was baking I made Spicy Quinoa instead of rice and refried black beans.  I’ve shown you in past posts how I make refried beans so I’m not going to get into that this time.  I am, however, going to show you  a little step by step action with the quinoa.

Before you heat the pan, have a measuring cup with the liquid ready.  I have a 1 cup plastic measuring cup that has all of the cool markings on it.  I put 1 – 2 tablespoons of chili paste or salsa into the cup and add water or stock up to the 3/4 cup  marking.  Add a small amount of olive oil to a small sauce pan.  Heat over medium high heat, saute a couple tablespoons chopped onions, add some salt, cumin and chili powder to taste and 1/2 cup quinoa.  Stir often until quinoa starts to brown a little.

  Add your liquid and reduce heat to low and cover pan with lid.  Cook until all of the liquid has evaported, about 19 minutes.  Fluff with fork when done.

And this is what it looks like when it is done!  My lighting is a little strange here, so don’t freak if you make this and it isn’t this color, okay?

Add a  green salad and you’ve got yourself a nice balanced meal.  This is better than any Mexican restaurant and a lot lower in fat.  The whole thing takes less than an hour from start to finish.  And, yeah, we really eat meals like this almost every day.  Just ask Katie!




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