Tag Archives: Fall

One, Two, Three. Three Onions.

10 Oct

What. A. Day.

Where to start. Well, first off I GOT A JOB! And it’s in the food industry, how lucky! I will have my “first day” tomorrow, and then I’ll officially start next week. So today was my last day of unemployment (since Thursday and Friday I will be technically employed, just not at the office). I will explain more about the job later. The only bummer is that I was excited to introduce myself to new people as a “kept woman” and John as a “scholar”. Oh well, the sacrifices we make for insurance.

Being that this is my last “free” day, I made a list of things to do:

  • Go grocery shopping (check)
  • Go to the gym (check)
  • Go for a run (non-check, to busy cooking!)
  • Make a big Fall-y meal (check)
  • Watch trashy reality television I have DVR’d (check and CHECK)

Well, Meijer had a HUGE sale, and I ended up beating my previous savings in one trip by over $10! I saved over $34 with coupons and sales. I felt like an extreme coupon-er, but not really because I’m not crazy. Since I got a job I decided to celebrate in the best way: buying Kleenex Cottonelle toilet paper…with Aloe! I’ll have to smoke a cigar every time I’m in the bathroom now to really live the good life. I also decided to throw caution to the wind and buy a full gallon of apple cider rather than just the half since I needed 1 C for a recipe I made tonight. Fun Fact: the majority of apples that go into cider are grown in China. True story!

But anyhoo, on to the cooking. I decided to make the following items for a Fall feast not to be forgotten:

Yes, one full onion went into each dish. Thank goodness I wear contacts, so I can slice onions all the livelong day. Cider Braised Pork Shoulder. I know right?! This took about 2 hour of simmering’ so I started that first. And the 100% American apples that went into this were the one, the only, Honeycrisp. mmmm

So pretty. So Delicious.

You’re right, it’s too pretty…you must now be maimed!

I must add, while I was peeling the apples I was browning the pork, and hey, wouldn’t you know it, the smoke alarm goes off. What do I do? I run around my house, slipping about in my running socks (with left toe sticking out of sock because hey, good running socks are expensive, and I’m not giving them up without a fight) trying to furiously wave a kitchen towel in front of the detector to clear up the air around it. It was…an ordeal.

Once the imminent threat of fire had subsided, I simmered my stew, took in some Real Housewives of New York, and then prepared to finish the rest of the meal armed with a soundtrack of Greensky Bluegrass (again, Kalamazoo favorite). While I was preparing the cabbage, it happend. I’ve been waiting for this to happen for a while now, especially with the amount of cooking I’ve been doing lately. I sliced the hell out of my thumb. I was coring the cabbage and while pulling the knife out of the heart of the head my thumb was right in it’s path. I. Felt. Everything. Luckily I pulled my hand away fast enough so no blood got on the food, but…man did it bleed. My first thought was “Oh my god I’m going to need stitches! I don’t have insurance! I’m going to have to amputate my thumb!” Then I slapped myself in the face, grabbed myself by the shoulders and said “Get a hold of yourself man!” (not really) and ran cold water over it. When it started bleeding less, I wrapped it up tightly, and went right back to a’cooking. I felt like I was in a Top Chef challenge (you know, like when Fabio cut his hand…just like that, except with zero skill and charm). Do you know how hard it is to not use a thumb? Thank you evolution.

With the use of my right thumb out of commission, and the many many tasks I had going on at once (I was using all four burners at once!) I didn’t have time to stop and take more pictures, so for that I apologize.

Wow, using four burners at once? I bet that made it hot in the house.
Yes. Yes it did.

Once the burners were turned off, and a proper bandage was affixed to my thumb, I was able to take a breath, and a taste of what I had created. Boom. Diggety. Wow, so great! And each dish goes so well with the others!

The dancing white O’s were the best part

Now let’s let everyone have their moment in the sun:

Beautiful white plate. Fennel fern garnish. It’ll make anything look fancy.

Alright, let’s get a close up of that delicious stew:

Just. Delightful.

Upon actually eating, I put them all on the same plate so the delicious cider broth from the pork seeped into the side dishes.
mmm, seeping pork juice…

I am extremely uncomfortable based on how much of this meal is inside of me right now, but I’m so glad I was able to make this today. It was the prefect last “I have no job and therefore have all the time in the world…someone please give me something to do!” meal. I am very excited to see how this blog transforms now that I will be working, because I have no intention of stopping the culinary genius that is inside of me. Too dramatic? I thought so.

And the last piece of amazing news: I received my canning equipment today! I’m hoping to have some pasta sauces and salsas ready to be canned before the weekend!

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A Feast of Cilantro: Mexican Chicken Meatballs and Sweet Potato Chili (with Beer!)

3 Oct

It’s official. The leaves are changing and Starbucks is featuring their Pumpkin Spice Latte. It’s Fall.

Random Story: Like any female, I love pumpkin. Why we do we love it? This I don’t know. But with the coming of the season, I too enjoy a pumpkin spice latte every once in a while. The difference, I get it with half the normal amount of syrup because it’s too sweet for me. Last year it was a chilly November day, and I was running errands, and thought “well, the time has come” and dove out of my way to a Starbucks I knew had a drive through (I ain’t getting outta m’car for NO ONE) and ordered a small pumpkin spice latte with half the syrup. When I grabbed it from the window I knew it was too hot, and just let it sit for the 10 minute drive home, all the while filling my car with the spicy crisp flavor. I got home and threw my bags on the floor, and braced myself for the first sip. It was like an attack of sugary synthetic flavors as this thick and not-at-all what I was expecting liquid poured down my throat. I looked on the side of the cup where it was the order typed out, and rather than “1/2 syrup” it says “2 x syrup”. Crap. I took off the lid and it was this crazy radioactive orange color. The Starbucks was 10 minutes away, and I knew I was out $4. I had no choice but to throw it away. End of story.

So I’ve been looking up some Fall-ish recipes to focus on lately, and I thought I’d utilize a favorite website of mine: { Big Girls Small Kitchen } Great great website (and cookbook) with great background stories and approachable recipes. I have a list of about 10 things I will be making my way through, but for this specific meal I focused on two:

Eat for Eight Bucks: Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili

Mexican Chicken Meatballs

I should also interject that I am going to be cooking a little lighter…as in spending money less (no more fancy fish I’m afraid) until my Quarter-Life Retirement comes to an end. And when it does? Caviar and Foie Gras for all! Vegan? Well you’re not invited!

Yes, I realize besides the sweet potatoes, this isn’t a very Fall-ish meal, but the dishes have such similar flavors to them, so…there.

I had set aside an afternoon to execute this meal, and then after re-reading the recipe I realized…it’s only going to take about an hour! So extra bonus, it’s super fast to make! I’d say what took he longest was cutting up the Sweet Potatoes

I cut these up about 2 hours before I started cooking so it was a breeeeeeeeze.

So now that we have the sweet potatoes, let’s finish up the chili. When you think of chili you normally think “long cook time” and this took maybe 30 minutes. Sauté some veggies, toss in some beans and tomatoes, simmer with a dark beer. I was most excited to choose the beer at the store. How dark shall I go? Should I get a fancy 750mL or go for the full 6 pack? I finally decided on Bell’s Best Brown because BIG UPS KALAMAZOO and, it’s a great great beer. I even tweeted about it and Bell’s (the brewery) favored the tweet! Add the sweet potatoes, simmer some more, and boom, you got yourself a chili. The strangest thing this recipe called for was cilantro stems. Stems? So strange! I’ve never heard of using just the stems, but hey, that freed up the delicious leaves for garnish and later addition.

What I tweaked: I added 1/2 a jalapeño (because it was HUGE) and the juice of half of a lime. I would also add more salt next time.

I drank that beer. And then another.

Now what’s a sweet potato chili without some mexican meatballs?? Again, such a fast and easy recipe! Make the chicken meatballs (which have cilantro in them, they’re great. I almost would have put more cilantro in) and pop them into the oven for about 25 minutes so they get a nice brown to them (and they’re lighter than pan frying them…although…everything is better pan-fried…)

Do you ever use parchment paper? If you’re not a fan of doing dishes (like someone I know) it’s the best thing to arm yourself with in the kitchen!

Then you made the sauce. Sauté the veggies, add some crushed tomatoes, boom, you got yourself some sauce. Add the cooked meatballs and some additional cilantro

mmmmmm

Pour these into a glass baking pan, top with cheese, and l bake until cheese is melted (so fast and sample!). Serve with a side of additional cilantro and limes

*Mexican Hat Dance Song*

Don’t worry, I’ll have some type of pumpkin cake/bread/muffin/something shortly. But here’s to the kick off to Fall and utilizing sweet potatoes! Oh, and cooking with beer Beer BEER!

 

 

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