Like the combination of salami and okra, this blog is dedicated to recipes that are born from sometimes unusual mishmashes of leftover ingredients we have on hand at home. We both work full-time so there is always time pressure, especially on weekdays. I do most of the daily cooking, and together my husband and I try to create meals for our family that follow three basic guidelines:

1. Delicious and nutritious.

2. Frugal use of ingredients

3. Edible to everyone in the family

We try to limit takeout food to once or twice a week because it's not good for our waistlines, the cost adds up and can put a strain on the family budget. At the end of the day, I just want to go home and stay home after work. I've found that in the time it takes me to drive to the store and pick up ready-to-eat takeout, I can usually put together something quick at home.

David and I grocery shop together for the entire week. Sometimes we impulsively buy an interesting ingredient at the store with no plan for cooking it, and later I'm not sure how to incorporate it into our meal plan. Thus, by the end of every week, I'm inevitably left with only a few ingredients, many of which do not traditionally go together.

These recipes are a result of those experiments. Some combinations work unexpectedly, some combinations may not appeal to you -- they don't all appeal to us!

When writing up these recipes, I try to be accurate, but often I put together these dishes by sight or taste or availability of ingredients. Most of the photos are David's. We'll note it when someone else contributes a pic.

The wins come when my family says, "I thought this dinner was going to be crazy, but it's actually good."

We hope you'll have the same reaction!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Ultimate Guacamole

I made this "ultimate guacamole" for the first time when I came home from shopping one day and realized that I had forgotten to buy limes I had always used in my guacamole recipe.  I usually have lemons in the house, so I substituted.  The results were delicious.  
One of my daughter’s friends commented that she likes this guacamole because “it doesn’t have any stuff in it.”  I asked her what she meant, and she said, “oh, you know: tomatoes, onions, green leaves.”  I think she meant cilantro.  I agree with her.  I like my guacamole pure, too.  We hope you enjoy!

The Ultimate Guacamole
            2-3 ripe avocados
            Juice of one lemon
            1 garlic clove (be sure to remove the little green stem in the center of the clove.
            Dash of salt

Finely chop the garlic clove (or use a garlic press), and place in a bowl with half of the lemon juice and salt.  Add avocadoes and mash with a fork until there are no large chunks, but don’t puree until smooth.  I like a bright lemony taste, so at this point I add a little more lemon juice.  I recommend experimenting, adding more lemon juice and salt to your own taste.  Serve with our new find,  Frontera Lime and Sea Salt tortilla chips or our all-time favorite, El Milagro "Totopos" Mexican Kitchen Style corn tortilla chips and Out to Lunch Fiesta brand queso

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Enchiladas Rápidos

My family loves enchiladas, but the thought of cooking them conjures up spending hours in the kitchen preparing the dish.  When we get enchiladas at restaurants, they are often too cheesy, too greasy, and too saucy for our taste.  Some people like that style, but if you prefer your enchiladas on the lighter side, you may enjoy this rendition.  Plus, these enchiladas only take about 10-15 minutes to prepare.  We hope you like these!

Tomatillo Sauce:
            1 ½ pound tomatillos, husks removed and quartered
            1-2 fresh jalapenos, cored and seeded
            1-2 garlic cloves, chopped


Combine ingredients in a bowl.  With a hand blender (or a stand blender), puree until smooth.  Add a little stock or a touch of water if the puree is too thick for your taste.  Dash of kosher salt to taste.

            10 whole wheat tortillas or corn tortillas
            1 ½ - 2 cups grated cheese, cheddar or combination of cheddar and Monterrey Jack
            Shredded chicken (leftover rotisserie chicken or leftover grilled chicken works nicely –  be sure to shred, not chop)
            Black or pinto beans – I like Eden brand 
            Sautéed spinach –  sauté some spinach in olive oil with a few chopped onions. When I       am in a hurry, I just wilt some chopped spinach in the microwave
            Tomatillo sauce

Place about 1/3 to ½ cup tomatillo sauce in the bottom of a large casserole dish.  For each tortilla, warm in a microwave on medium high about 5-10 seconds.  This makes the tortilla pliable and easy to roll.  Almost everyone in the family likes individual enchilada filling variations.  I fill David’s with shredded chicken, extra jalapenos, beans and spinach.  Our girls like theirs filled with beans only.   I like mine filled with beans and spinach.  Just be sure you remember where each combination is placed in the casserole dish!  Pour the tomatillo sauce over the tortillas, and cover with cheese.  Bake in a 350 oven for about 25 minutes or until sauce is bubbling and cheese is slightly browned.  Serve with sliced avocados or guacamole and sliced jalapenos.   

Photo credits:   Green ones by PES; yellow ones by CHS