Nopalitos and Tostadas

Toastadas and nopalitos.blog

 

An efriend in another (East Coast) state uses nopalitos interestingly, thus I was spurred to give them a try.  I’ve seen them on the grocery store shelves here in the desert for many years, and, indeed, a huge cactus with these paddles grows in my front yard, but we had never actually *tasted* such a food.  Well, yesterday was the day that it happened.  And like many things, I certainly wish I had taken the plunge earlier.

I am not a fan of hot peppers, so I had my doubts; but my fears were for naught.  They have the texture of a black olive, and are just the slightest bit tangy – not at all like I had imagined.  A clerk in the grocery store yesterday suggested using them with pork, which I will do, but here is our lunch from yesterday where I incorporated them.  Yes, there are only two on the plate, but we were sneaking up on them slowly.  After we found out how good they were, we piled them high on our tostadas.

The little pecan pie was a special treat, although to call it “pecan” might have been a stretch.  Fortunately, I buy chopped pecans in five-pound bags, so there were plenty to add to the cut pie.  I cut it in half, heated them for a few seconds in the microwave, and then stuck all the pecans I could into the thick, gel-like filling.  It was nice for a treat, but I wouldn’t want to be faced with an entire pie.  This little impulse purchase size was sufficient.

The nopalitos, however, were a great hit, and I shall be finding lots of foods to add them to, or just to use them as an interesting topping to many dishes.

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Pizza Now – WOW !

baby-pizzas-blog

ARE YOU CRAVING A QUICK PIZZA, BUT DELIVERY IS OUT OF THE QUESTION?

Would two or three of the above little morsels do it for you?  If so, here’s how to have a pizza in record time, and for almost no money.

Take:

One small onion

Five small mini peppers

Two medium mushrooms

Five slices of French/Sourdough bread

Five spoons of pasta sauce

Five small slices of cheese, any kind you like

Five olives, sliced in half the long way

Five slices of pepperoni

Five bits of Italian sausage, cooked

Sprinkles of oregano and Italian seasoning

 

Gently sauté the onions, peppers, and mushrooms.  Meanwhile toast the French/Sourdough bread lightly.  My cooking device will hold five slices of my sourdough bread.  That is perfect for the 3/2 division of items at our table, but obviously, these amounts must relate to YOUR desired quantity.

Spread on the pasta sauce; then the cheese.  The rest of the ingredients are yours to choose from what you have on hand.  As the cheese melts, it will pretty much hold the toppings in place, so be generous with the ingredients.  Put the prepared mini pizzas into your desired cooking device (I used my Cuisinart Oven Central), and bake until the cheese melts.

After they are hot and ready to eat, I always sprinkle on some extra oregano so it doesn’t get burned in the heating process.  You can also sprinkle over shredded Romano or similar cheese, and red pepper flakes – extra heat for those who enjoy it.

This is an excellent way to use up bits of whatevers that have been left from other meals, so don’t be shy about putting on whatever toppings you have on hand. Almost anything is good.  Extra benefits:  Your refrigerator will have more room; you will not have wasted food; and your purse will jingle with the savings.

For a further treat, if you have a nice head of Romaine (or avocado, as you see above) lying about, slice across it about four or five times and put the resulting greenery into a bowl by your pizza. Don’t bother with dressing.  There are plenty of spices and grease in the pizza, and the Romaine will cleanse your palate so that you enjoy each and every bite of the pizzas.

Special hint:  The next time you are sautéing onions, mushrooms, and peppers, make a bit extra and put it in the refrigerator for the next day.  This makes the time from thought to eating nearly negligible.

I keep one bag of frozen three-colored peppers and onions in the freezer.  These need to be sautéed, too, but the cutting and peeling is already done, and they are always at hand on demand.

And, yes, we had this two days in a row due to popular demand!  ;->

 

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It Started with Pork Chops

Feast your eyes on this delicious soup!  It is split peas, barley, and lentils in a wonderful broth from pork bones simmered overnight in the small Crock-Pot.  I added a sofrito of sautéed onions/celery/carrots just before serving, and it was super delicious.

But let me tell you about the time before the broth.  Safeway had very nice pork chops on sale for $.88 a pound.  I got a package of six large ones for $4.65.  When I got home from the grocery store, I trotted out the six-quart Nesco roaster and plopped all of them right into the pan.  No need to find room in the refrigerator or freezer for them.

They sizzled for a few hours, and at dinnertime I took most of the meat off the bones of two of them, and put it in a pan with some watered-down BBQ sauce.  We like the essence of BBQ sauce, but not the harshness of having it straight on meat. I let the pieces stew in that liquid for about half an hour, and they nicely absorbed the ambience without becoming strong and sticky – just the way we like them.

I served them forth with potato medallions with cheese and roasted red peppers, and some spinach on the side.  This was a delightful dinner.  To further ease the work and cleanup involved, I took the bones and put them in the small Crock-Pot with about a quart of water and let it simmer on low all night long, and far into the next morning.

This little exercise produced a nice amount of really fabulous broth and an additional pile of meat, which went into the soup.  The finished soup was then available for a fabulous and super easy lunch, but cried out for cornbread.  So I made these five muffins filled with dried cranberries, and a regular cornbread with pepper jack cheese bits scattered on top.  I thought the batter would have enveloped the cheese more, but it did just what you see.

I baked the muffins in the muffin tin that was provided with the Cuisinart Oven Central, and then baked the regular cornbread in the square pan provided.  They baked rather quickly, and  came right out of the pan on the first try.

A bonus is that I have a container of the BBQ’d pork that is enough to make another lunch of pulled pork sandwiches for us!

 

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Moros y Christianos


Or Black Beans and Rice.

I’m getting a lot of use from my new InstantPot.  I made a big batch of black beans and froze half.  Yesterday a big pile of rice fluffed its way to our plates, topped with the saved portion of beans, which had been supplemented with the ubiquitous sausage morsels.

The red pepper ratatouille really set off the dish, both with the splash of color and the very nice flavor addition.

Mr. Bean Boy overindulged, but that, and a good nap, made him a happy man.

My rice cooker is looking very sad these days.

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Crêpes and Broccoli

crepe-n-broccoli-blog

 

We had had a late and large lunch, so a light supper seemed in order.  I hadn’t made crêpes in many years, but was inspired by an efriend’s post –

Whole Wheat Crepes With Spinach & Mushrooms

into giving it a whirl.

When last I made them, decades ago, I had a growing teen-aged boy who could eat them as fast as I could produce them with an eight-inch frying pan on each of four burners!  I always doubled the recipe to have any left for dinner!  I recall that at the time, I made a crab filling with a Swiss Cheese topping that required Vermouth.

Using whole wheat pastry flour, I made up four of the little darlings in a ten-inch pan and we enjoyed them as you see above.  The filling was a thick version of Chicken Pot Pie, or Chicken a la King.  Lots of veggies (leftovers, of course!), and big hunks of white meat cut from a leftover piece of breast.

On top is the jarred pepper ratatouille that we are so fond of.  This quick supper went together very easily, and we had one unfilled crêpe leftover.  This provided the base for a quick snack the next day.  We put a bit of Seville Orange Marmalade on it and shared it.  Ah – just right!

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Sprouted Onion

I keep my onions in the utility room on vinyl-coated open shelving, but this one had been plopped on the shelf head down, it appears.  It took that opportunity to grow an interesting hairpiece down through the openings.

Does anything come to mind?

I discovered it this afternoon and harvested the sprouts to top DH’s luncheon cheeseburger.  He said they were quite potent.  The remainder of them that he did not eat went into the stuffed peppers that I made for dinner tonight.  I forgot to take a picture, but the peppers were really colorful in red, yellow, and gold.

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Tender Is The Pork

slow-cooked-pork-blog

 

 

I have recently purchased an InstantPot, but it is the Nesco slow cooker that is cooking my dinner at the moment!  This would work as well in the InstantPot using the slow cooker feature, I presume, but there was such a small amount of ingredients, that I thought it would do better in a smaller unit.

Someone asked about using the freezer in conjunction with a slow cooker . . . BINGO! That’s my favorite way of using it.  If I find a good sale on some sort of meats, I get as much as I can afford and brown ‘em up in the Nesco Roaster or on the stove – depending on what they are.  Then into the freezer in meal-sized quantities.  They can come out to be the star of a meal with little effort – just whip up a starch and a veggie, if that is how you eat, et voilá, dinner is served.

Right at this very minute, there are two beautifully browned pork chops in the 1.5 qt. model Nesco, with a variety of bits of different sauces and other juices/veggies that I had acquired over the last few days.   I took out a package of pork chops, thawed it in the microwave, and put them into the 1.5 qt. Nesco slow cooker – the pretty red one.  I put in some broth, a bit of pasta sauce, and some leftover veggies and let it bubble away for about three hours.  For the last hour or so, I plopped in a bit of cabbage.

Oh, I defrosted the meat first before putting it into the Crock-Pot and preheated the unit itself so the food did not sit at an unhealthy temperature for a long time before it came up to 160 degrees.  The meat totally fell off the bones, and was sooooo tender.  The red things are half a beet, and on top of the bulgur is some of the jarred red pepper ratatouille that I found recently at Big Lots.  That stuff is WON-derful!  The white pitcher had the juices that had collected in the Crock-Pot.

I’ll serve it over bulgur that is made without cooking by using a vacuum bottle. Bulgur cooks quickly, so tossing it into my Nissan three-cup vacuum bottle with some boiling water produces a delicious side dish with the veggies from the pork “stew” on top in almost no time at all, and it will stay hot and delicious as long as you need it to.  No fussing around with a starch or grain at the last minute.

If you like tabbouleh salad, the leftover bulgur can quickly be made into that sort of side dish almost instantly.  Here is a recipe from the net.

tabbouleh salad recipe

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