Gaucho Steak with Chimichurri Sauce and Chocotarte

I once again do not have pictures of this meal but I have a pretty good excuse: we had company and I was too busy enjoying them and the food to remember to take pictures. Also, booze. So much booze. Like three bottles of wine and two six packs of beer. It was worth it!

The day started out not so awesome. My plan was to make gaucho steak, marinated eggplant, roasted potatoes, and chocotarte for desert. As I was prepping the eggplant, I read the last sentence “Let marinate for at least two days in the refrigerator for best results.” People always ask what I learned from the project. Well, this was week forty something and I still hadn’t learned how to read the entire recipe! So the marinated eggplant turned into roasted eggplant. Then something else happened with the potatoes but I don’t remember what…I ended up scrapping that recipe and making Raviv’s Potatoes. Raviv was our neighbor in Houston and he would always make these awesome roasted potatoes for barbecues. It’s a super simple recipe: make a spice mixture of cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, and S&P, dice potatoes, toss in oil and spice mixture, bake in the oven at 350 for forty minutes. At this point I was irritated with myself and the clock was ticking!

Another setback was the steak prep. I had planned on grilling the steak outdoors but then it decided to be really cold and rainy that night so I had to improvise and use the broiler in our oven. The problem with that was I didn’t have a baking sheet wide enough to fit all two and half pounds of flank steak so I had to divy it up onto two pans and then rotate the pans every few minutes so the meat would get the direct heat from the broiler. It wouldn’t have been so bad had we not already had our guests and their four kids over. Trying to talk to people and going back and forth from the kitchen is not fun.

But anyway, we finally got the kids down, gave them pizza, and then sat down ourselves to enjoy our dinner. It was good but it was meh. The thing was I’d had my roasted eggplant and Raviv’s potatoes before so there was nothing surprising there. The steak was decent but a little boring. I don’t think the chili water made all that big of a difference in the flavor. Everyone else said it was great but I was unimpressed.

What did impress me, however, was the chocotarte. I had made it earlier in the day and was a little skeptical about it. I had to soak chocolate wafers in milk and then make layers of wafers and a mixture of cream cheese and carmelized milk. I was just worried it was going to be really thin because wafers are thin. Well I guess that milk really worked its magic because those things puffed up! It ended up having the consistency of a cake; yeah, it was that puffy! I loved it and I typically don’t like caramel but I think the cream cheese dulled the sweetness and made it just a little tart.

That was the end of Argentine week. The food wasn’t that great but the company more than made up for it. Now that I think about it, I’ll have to have those friends over again and make them a better meal. I think they were just being kind.

Recipe, Recipe

Milanesa

Happy New Year!!

Sorry for the very long break. The girls’ Christmas vacation started on the 16th and they just went back to school today. It was iiiiiimpossible to get online and post during those two weeks because my days were filled with training for the half, visits to my Mom, laundry (so.much.laundry), and trying to stay sane. Oh, and of course spending time with family and friends and celebrating blah blah blah. Mostly it was the other stuff.

But I’m back and ready to get tell you all about the last three weeks of my year long food project! The fifth will be my one year anniversary so I’m pushing to be caught up by then. I have nine posts and two days, it will be done.

This milanesa was the start of Argentinian week. Argentinian? Argentine? It occurs to me that I never took the time to find out which is correct and what is the difference. Well, too late now! James actually chose Argentina because he’d read about how great the food was and that it was similar to Peru in its variety. To be honest, I didn’t really care either way, but looking back, I’m very happy we chose to eat Argentinian/Argentine food! I don’t want to spoil it for you though so now you must come back to find out why. Muahaha.

That was a pitiful “Muahaha”

Prior to this, I’d had milanesa but it was made with chicken; this version was made with beef. It was brought to South America by the, you guessed it, Italians during the first Italian diaspora of the 1860s. Based on the name, one can infer that it originated in Milan. It was also originally made with chicken but when the Italians got to Argentina, they quickly learned that chicken was viewed as an inferior meat so they altered the recipe to make it a beef dish. The milanesa I’d eaten before was eaten in a torta, a sandwich, and because I love it so much, I decided to go the same route with the Argentinian version.

At first glance it looks like a sandwich of fried meat but it is so much more than that! In between the fried meat and bread is a layer of super thin, delicious, amazing proscuitto. And on top of that? Cheese (I used Munster). And on top of that? Marinara sauce. AND ON TOP OF THAT?! Pickled peppers. The Mexican version do NOT have all that goodness, it just has fried meat, lettuce, and tomato. In the words of my four year old “That bored” She means “That’s boring” but she hasn’t figured out the whole conjugation thing yet.

I ended up making enough cutlets for about six sandwiches. I ate two that night. And another the next day for lunch. And I didn’t regret it for one minute! To be honest, I didn’t regret it because I had the foresight to take an Alka Seltzer immediately after dinner but still, no RAGRATS. The meat was probably the least interesting part of the whole meal but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t delicious. For as thin and as fried as it was, it was still very succulent, but I think the most flavor came from the saltiness of the proscuitto, the creaminess of the cheese, and the acidity of the sauce and peppers. It was an amalgamation of awesome!

So yes, we were very pleased with the first night of Argentina week. Even the kiddos ate it and it was not bored.

Recipe

Pollo al Ajillo, Patatas Bravas, Pimientos de Padron, Albondigas, and Croquettes

Last week was Spanish week and, man, it took me a minute to get back into the groove after being off for two weeks! I didn’t do any meal planning during my blog-cay (a word I totally just created but I’m gonna trademark because ‘merica) and winged dinner and grocery shopping for two weeks. I thought the lack of structure would stress me out but working on the fly was pretty freeing. I didn’t have to think about staying on schedule, which is always running through the back of my mind, but the best part was I got to create my own meals. For the first time in a long time I enjoyed myself and that was nice.

Then I got to last week and I was like “So much for that!”  Okay, that makes it sound horrible and it really wasn’t but it was an adjustment. Last week was a busy social week. We went to Dallas the weekend of the fourth for friend’s wedding (congrats Kavya and Matt!), then we had Neighborhood Night Out, various doctor’s appointments, and finally I had a bachelorette party this past weekend. Crammed into all of that was the usual grocery shopping, chores around the house, and errands. I barely had time to watch my stories!

One of the few silver linings to the week was that I was cooking Spanish food. Spanish food, with its tapas filled cuisine, made meal planning a lot easier considering the fact that we wouldn’t be eating as a family a lot during the week. It was only two nights but those two nights fell on days that I typically cook for the blog so it worked out. Since we had two light “meals” I’m just combining all three into one post. For whatever reason I’m unable to add the pic of the one real meal I made to this post but it’s on the Pics page if you’re curious.

The first night was Tuesday, which was our Neighborhood Night Out and it was a potluck. I made albondigas, which are meatballs. They weren’t very difficult to make but they did require a bit of planning because I had to let the meat chill for at least an hour before cooking them. Everything was on course until I locked myself and Niko out of the house when we were on our way to take him to get his staples removed. What followed were three hours of frantically calling James to tell him he had to leave early from work so he could pick the girls up from school, Niko and I hanging out at a neighbor’s house until James got home forty-five minutes later, rushing to pick the girls up, rushing back home to cook the meatballs and the sauce, and then heading out to the potluck and putting on my happy face. And then no one ate them! That’s not true, they did eat some, but not enough. I made about thirty meatballs and we came home with half. I don’t think it was the flavor, they tasted fine, but they didn’t look very appealing. The sauce was made up of leeks, garlic, onions, and white wine so it was a light brown color and I think that threw some people off. No one complimented me on them either so maybe the flavor was a bit off as well. Meh, we saved them for dinner the next night.

Which is when I made pollo al ajillo (garlic chicken), patatas bravas (Spanish homefries), and pimientos de padron (roasted padron peppers). The recipe for the chicken called for a whole chicken but I used breasts and thighs. I was worried about the breasts drying out but they came out pretty juicy and tender. I had hoped it would be garlicky because of the name but I didn’t get any garlic flavor out of it. I was pretty disappointed in that. My potatoes came out kinda mushy, which caused a frown. Homefries are NOT supposed to be mushy. I also thought the sauce was too acidic. The recipe called for both crushed tomatoes and tomato paste and I think that was a bit of an overkill; it would have been fine with one or the other but not both. Who knows, maybe I did something wrong but I followed the recipe so I’m gonna say no. By that time, I was pretty down on the meal but then, BUT THEN, I got to the peppers. The recipe called for padron peppers but I couldn’t find padron so I substituted shishito. From what I’ve read, the appeal of pimientos de padron is that you never know if you’re getting a hot or mild pepper. Unlike other peppers, you can’t tell if a padron pepper is spicy based on the color or shape so you’re kinda playing pepper roulette with this dish. I don’t like spicy peppers so when I read that shishitos are consistently mild, I was okay with the substitution. What I read was wrong, y’all! Both James and I got a couple of long shishitos that cleared up our sinuses and made our eyes water! The good thing was we quickly figured out it was the long peppers but still, it was a surprise. So luckily the entire meal wasn’t a bust. Another silver lining!

On Saturday I attended a pot luck dinner to kick off my friend’s bachelorette weekend. The girls were going out to downtown Austin after dinner so I knew I needed to fill their stomachs with fried, gooey, goodness. This is when the croquettes walked in. Croquettes are basically fried ham filled bechamel sauce. Seriously, that’s all they are. You make a bechamel sauce, add some ham, chill it, shape into balls, and then fry it. And they’re amazing! Like the meatballs, it took some prep time but once the bechamel sauce was made, it took me less than ten minutes to fry them. I worried about them losing their gooeyness on the drive down to east Austin but even after a twenty minute drive and another thirty sitting on the counter before we got to eating, they were great. They lost a bit of the crispness but they were still delicious and I know they helped them at 2 a.m. when they needed a post drinking snack.

Aside from the cluster that was Tuesday afternoon, Spanish week was okay. Yes I was disappointed with most of it but I also loved some of it so it wasn’t a total loss. I know some people wanted me to make paella but you can’t make paella for a small group and unfortunately we didn’t have time last week to have people over for dinner so that was a lost opportunity. I did have some trouble narrowing down what to make because I couldn’t find a lot of actual meals from Spain, everything was just a combination of a bunch of tapas. Which I’m okay with, Mrs. Flax from “Mermaids” and her belief that you should only eat hors d’oeuvres and finger foods for every meal has stayed with me since I was a kid, but I was kind of hoping I would be able to find full meals. Meh, so it goes.

This week we are in China and I have been looking forward to this week for a long time! We are actually on day three so I am a bit behind on posting but I hope to be caught up by tomorrow. If you’re wondering just how excited I am about this week, consider this: I am cooking five times this week. I’ve been averaging two to three for the past few “trips.” It’s going to be amazing!

Recipe, Recipe, Recipe, Recipe, Recipe

Beef Rezala and Bhuna Khichuri

Welcome to Bangladeshi week! Actually, it was last week but some appointments took longer than expected and it threw my entire week off. Also, weather. 

As I metioned last week, the Four Year Old became the Four Year Old last Wednesday and we planned a pool party for her the following Sunday. James just happened to check the weather forecast on Thursday and saw that there was a 90% chance of rain on Sunday.

Rain. In August. That almost never happens.

The next couple of days were spent checking the weather every four hours, sending out multiple group texts to our guests, and ultimately deciding to cancel the pool party and hosting a smaller version at the house. The Four Year Old still had an amazing time and even got a piñata, which she wouldn’t have had at the pool and it was the one thing she really wanted anyway, so yay! Birthday success!  

I learned two things from that event. Number one: I really need to buy an umbrella. I don’t know why I don’t own one but I need one. It’s been raining for the past four days and I’m tired of getting wet. Number two: I need to be more flexible. I’ve always prided myself in my time management skills and I still believe that they are essential but I need to make room for unexpected events. Too often I plan down to the minute and I get frustrated when I get thrown off. There is no reason to be so stringent because I end up disappointed and why put myself through that? Life is too short to be so annoyed with myself. 

I’m taking this week off from cooking so I can catch up on posting. I’m actually taking the week off from everything. James is home all week so instead of trying to fit in errands, running, yoga, housework, craft projects, and cooking, I’m filling it with Orphan Black binge watching with my man during the day and fun family time with the girls in the evening. I think it’s much more worthwhile than all the other stuff.

And now for the beef rezala. A rezala is a white spicy curry from Bangladesh. Yes, curries are typically a little spicy anyway but rezalas are spicier because they include whole chilies. They also get their white color from the inclusion of yogurt or milk. Rezalas are similar to kormas in that sense, however, unlike kormas, the meat is not braised. Very slight difference. This beef rezala is different in color from other rezalas due to the spices used but mine didn’t come out as red as I think it should have. My beef released a lot of water so I think that didn’t allow the spices to coat and stick to the meat as well. I was afraid that since it released so much water, it would come out tough but it was surprisingly tender. It also wasn’t as spicy as I expected it to be but that wasn’t bad because it made it more edible for the girls. And yes, both girls ate it. They also ate the bhuna khichuri, which I preferred over the rezala. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it forever, I love rice and beans! 

What I enjoyed most about the meal was being able to use two new tools. After  Indian week, where I scorched my arms from frying spices or worked my arms sore from grinding spices, I decided to invest in some tools that will make life easier. The first is a vaghar vadki, a spice roasting spoon. It’s basically a tiny skillet, about four inches in diameter, with a long handle that fries spices in seconds. The smaller diameter speeds up the process since the heat doesn’t have to be distributed to such a large area like with a regular skillet and it’s ideal for measurements under a cup. I was able to fry up the cumin in less than thirty seconds and had more control over how dark I wanted it to get. The other tool is a spice grinder, although I bought a coffee grinder but it’s basically the same thing. I’ve been using a mortar and pestle, which isn’t terrible except both my mortars have grooves so the spices often get stuck in them. This results in an uneven texture unless I put some real elbow grease into it. The grinder I bought has three different settings, coarse, medium, and fine, and it took maybe a minute to grind my spices into a nice fine powder. Technology is amazing! It was super satisfying and I wish I would have bought one sooner but so it goes.

Recipe, Recipe

 

  

 

Maafe

We are in Senegal this week!

We chose Senegal because it’s in Africa and so far we’ve only done two African countries, Morocco and Israel. I wasn’t aware that we’d done so little in Africa until I started marking off the countries we’ve “visited” on a map of the world. We’ve done plenty in the Mediterranean, Central America, and southeast Asia but the Africa on our map is a little bare. I don’t want Africa to feel left out so we looked at the map and settled on Senegal. Well, we looked at the map for ideas, Googled the cuisine, and then settled on Senegal. We looked at other countries but their cuisines didn’t seem all that appealing or included a lot of yucca and I’m tired of eating yucca. I mean, there is only so much you can do with it, fry it or boil it, and it almost never results in something super good. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the yucca fries from El Salvadorian week but I don’t need to keep recreating them with different spices. I get it, yucca is good!

Quick aside. I use “we” a lot when writing on the blog or when explaining to people what we’re doing. Many people have asked me to clarify who “we” are and when I say that it’s James and I, they ask what exactly he does. First of all, rude. Secondly, he doesn’t have to cook to be considered a contributor.  He helps choose countries, researches meals, helps decide which recipes would work on what days due to time constraints; his input is very important. He also watches our girls while I’m cooking so I can cook with little to no interruption. That right there is probably the best thing he does to help out because those girls be cray sometimes. The second best thing he does is pay for all of this, which he does without complaint. I’m not working so he funds this entire project and doing this is not cheap. For whatever reason, meat and fresh produce are hardly ever discounted, even though they are unbelievably healthier for you than pre-packaged food, so our grocery bill varies from $60 to $200 per week. That is not a complaint, I am fully aware this is a choice and we are by no means obligated to do this, but it is a huge factor. So yes, he is a partner in this and what he does is no less important than what I do.

Now that I’ve talked about how great my husband is, let’s talk about this meal!

This meal was pretty easy to make and the ingredients weren’t hard to find at all. I’ve said it before and I will continue to say it, these types of meals are my favorite! The sauce was made up primarily of tomato and peanut butter. Yes, I was curious about that because those two are not typically paired together (at least I’ve never paired them) so there was some slight hesitation about that. The recipe I used seemed to lend itself to improvisation because it was pretty lax about what vegetables to use. I liked this a lot because I could 1. use veggies I liked and 2. use veggies I could find easily. I ended up using okra and cabbage because I like okra and cabbage. Easy enough.

We all really enjoyed it. The tomatoes gave the peanut butter a little tartness which was interesting. Ginger was optional but I did use it because I love ginger. It was very present but not overpowering, which I think was due to the acidity of the tomatoes. I’m just guessing here, I have absolutely no knowledge of food chemistry. For that, you can turn to J. Kenji Lopez-Alt. The meat was also surprisingly tender for a stew, for which I once again credit the tomatoes. Tomatoes are super fruits for a reason.

This was a pretty great introduction to Senegalese food. It made me hopeful for the rest of the week.

Recipe

Carbonnade Flamande

This dish was one that was recommended to me by various people who have visited Belgium. There was a lot of praise and many said it was their favorite thing to eat in Belgium. So I obviously had to try it.

There are many variations of this dish and it was hard to find a true “Belgian” version and I think that has to do with Belgian cuisine being so heavily influenced by neighboring France, Germany, and the Netherlands. After looking at many, I just chose one that was the easiest. Don’t know if that’s being true to the dish but it made my Wednesday night a lot easier.

It’s very similar to beef bourguignon and the Nourished Kitchen‘s Braised Short Ribs with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Herbs*, both of which I’ve made before. The biggest difference is that both those dishes are made with red wine while carbonnade is made with beer. Actually, that’s the only difference. Well, beef bourguignon doesn’t use any pork and also includes onions and mushrooms but you get the point. Seeing as how I’ve made these before, I felt pretty confident with making this meal as well because I have, just with wine. Confidence is very important in the kitchen.

My confidence paid off because this was an extremely satisfying dinner! I did forget to make frites but this was more than enough food for us. I feel like it could have used a bit more tomato puree and I don’t say that because it affected the flavor but because all the pictures I saw of this dish were significantly redder than mine. I couldn’t find anything that told me whether I should marinate in the fridge or at room temperature so I did overnight in the fridge and then let it sit out in a covered dish in the kitchen for about six hours. I don’t know if that made a difference but just want to throw that out there.

The oldest was not interested in it at all. I can’t remember her reasoning but I’m pretty sure it was not logical. The baby, my beautiful, healthy, somewhat gluttonous baby, had two servings. That’s right, she ate hers and her sister’s. And it wasn’t that she was hungry, she had already eaten a lot that day, she just really liked the meal. I’m telling you, this kid and I are going to take a food tour of Europe someday and the oldest will be at home, eating McDonald’s.

So I now have three versions of this dish that I can make and that’s good. It’s nice to be able to change things up every once in a while. And it’s also nice to have options when you’re missing certain ingredients for one meal. Which, of course, never happens to me because I always have a fully stocked pantry and refrigerator and never forget to buy anything at the store. Never.

*If you are not familiar with Nourished Kitchen, I cannot stress enough how much you are missing out! She focuses on using real food and preparing them using traditional methods like fermentation and soaking and souring grains. The Beef Braised Ribs can be found in her cookbook and before starting this project, I used it all.the.time. I have yet to have a bad meal from her recipes and I cannot recommend it enough!

Recipe

Shrimp Etouffee and Italian Beef

Today’s post is going to be a first for the blog.

“Will it be well written and clever?”

Probably not. No, it will be a first because I am combining two different meals into one post. I know, I know, your world has just been shattered. Everything you thought you knew about this blog has just changed. The reasoning is because both meals were disappointing and I don’t think I can stretch out two separate posts to make the sentiment known. I am not known for my brevity so this is a pretty big deal. You’re welcome.

First up, Emeril’s shrimp etouffee. We visited New Orleans about five years ago and while there, I bought a book on New Orleans cuisine. I’m pretty sure it was self published because it’s bound by those plastic spiral things and most of the recipes are credited to random people all over the city. Now that I think about it, why did I buy this cookbook? I’m sure there were other, better books at the bookstore. I’m going to blame alcohol.

Anyway, there’s a shrimp etouffee recipe in there that I was going to use but then I actually read it the night before I was supposed to make the meal and it didn’t look right. It only required six ingredients, most of which were “pinches” of spices, and the instructions were literally five sentences. I’m no Bubba Gump but I’m pretty sure shrimp etouffee is more involved than that.

Enter Emeril. I Googled a recipe and his came up first. Emeril can be trusted, he’s from New Orleans. Or Louisiana. I could Google it but no, don’t want to. I followed his recipe to a T except for the part where he said to make a shrimp stock from the shells of the shrimp. I couldn’t do this because I bought shelled and deveined shrimp so I did the next best thing: I added water.

Don’t do what I did. My etouffee lacked BAM. All the bam was gone, it didn’t even show up. It was okay but very bland. It could have benefited from some salt. At my cousin’s suggestion, I sprinkled some cayenne pepper on it and that made a huge difference. We had a lot of leftovers so I’ve been eating it for lunch the past two days. The cayenne pepper has made a load of difference so if you do end up doing what I did, add the cayenne.

Recipe

I had never heard of Italian Beef until a friend from back home suggested it when I asked for ideas on FB. He’s actually not back home anymore, he moved to Illinois in junior high (Hi John!). When I first read his suggestion, I just thought it was going to be some type of beef that was seasoned with like oregano and roasted. Turns out, I wasn’t far off. It is a roast, and it is seasoned with oregano (along with other spices) but it’s a sandwich.

Riiiight?

I forgot to buy the right bread for the sandwich. I usually do all my grocery shopping on Tuesday and had planned this meal for the weekend. I didn’t want to buy the rolls on Tuesday and have them go stale by the weekend so I made a mental note to go back over the weekend and buy fresh rolls.

Except I forgot that mental note because my mind cannot be trusted. It wasn’t until I was slicing the beef that I realized I didn’t have the right bread and I was in no mood to go shopping so I used some French bread we had instead. Don’t use French bread, use a hoagie, it makes a difference. I mean, I don’t know what Italian Beef is supposed to taste like but based on the crazy cult following, I doubt it tastes like what we had. I also couldn’t get the beef thin enough and I think that had something to do with the overall flavor.

So American week ended with a womp womp. At least the meals weren’t fried so there’s that. In order to give our stomachs a break, I’m preparing Indonesian food this week. Gimme some veggies!

Recipe

 

 

 

Chicken Fried Steak, Mashed Potatoes, Mac n’ Cheese, and Fried Okra

In honor of America’s birthday, we ate American food last week. I asked for meal suggestions on Facebook because while I’m very familiar with Texan and southern cuisine, I’m a little lost when it comes to the rest of the country. I mean, I know basics like deep dish pizza from Chicago, chowder from the northeast, and pretentious vegetarian food from California but the rest of the country is a big ‘ol question mark. There were some very good suggestions, like the Italian beef I’d never heard of and plan on making tomorrow, and many eye roll inducing suggestions like “Fried everything” and “Super sized food.” Haha, I get it, we’re a country of bad eaters, bahaha, so funny. I never knew how patriotic I was until my friends started making fun of themselves and the rest of the country.

So you can imagine my “Goddamit!” moment when I decided on chicken fried steak, mac n’ cheese, and fried okra for our first meal. Fried meat, carbs smothered in butter, and fried vegetables. Cholesterol heaven! But the truth is, I love this meal and it’s one of my favorites. I have told my husband many times that I don’t ever want to live in a state where they don’t serve chicken fried steak and I’m serious. A life without chicken fried steak is not a life worth living. I think I’ve also told him that should I ever end up on Death Row, I will probably request chicken fried steak as my last meal. I mean, at that point, why do I need to worry about clogged arteries?

Considering this is one of my favorites, I’ve never made it. Aside from the mashed potatoes, I’ve never made any of the parts of this meal. I’ve made instant mac n’ cheese but that doesn’t count. I’ve made roasted okra and okra casserole but never fried. And I’ve made my fair share of actual fried chicken but not chicken fried steak*. The reason is simple: it’s work. You wouldn’t think frying stuff would take a lot of time but you have to watch frying food so you don’t burn it and mac n’ cheese is pretty sensitive as well; it’s very easy to get clumpy cheese and that will ruin the whole thing.

Before I started, I got everything out and did the whole mise en place to make life a little easier and to not ruin my meal. I highly recommend doing this otherwise your kitchen will look like a disaster. I mean, mine still looked like I got a bag of flour and some grease and sprayed the whole kitchen but it could have been so much worse. I still failed at timing everything so it was ready at the same time. I ended up finishing the mac n’ cheese earlier than expected and let it sit in the oven, with the oven off, an extra three minutes so it came out a little dry but still fully edible. My okra was also room temperature but in retrospect, that wasn’t a bad thing. Hot okra is never fun.

But what was fun was me eating this meal! I was in hog heaven, complete with food coma afterwards. I’ve had chicken fried steak that was dry because it was fried too long but not mine #humblebrag. Mine had the right amount of breading and was still very juicy. The mac n’ cheese, although slightly dry, was CHEESE OVERLOAD but in a good way. And the okra was perfection! Crispy on the outside, smushy on the inside, and I was popping it inmy mouth like popcorn. Everyone was happy and how could they not? This meal is the definition of southern comfort food.

So yeah, maybe we are a country of fatties but whatever, we’re happy and you can kiss our grits.

*Chicken fried steak gets its name from the fact that it’s steak prepared in the manner of fried chicken.

Recipe, Recipe, Recipe

Carne Deshilada, Casamiento, and Fried Plantain

I’m going to start off by saying that I loved this meal. The ingredients were easy to find, it was easy to make, and it was beyond tasty. There have been a few meals that I’ve loved but I know I won’t make them too often because it will require me going to a store other than my normal HEB. Methi Aloo, Chicken Sekuwa, and Stir Fried Chayote come to mind. This meal consisted of ingredients I almost always have in my kitchen so I know that if I’m looking for something quick and easy, I can always make this.

We had friends over for brunch on Saturday, the same friends who ate theSour Pot Roast, but thankfully this meal was a lot more palatable than the pot roast. I found the recipe online but also posted it in the Recipe section because the website where I found it is in Spanish. The Carne Deshilada reminded me of migas but instead of tortillas, there was meat. There was that same chewiness and the flavors were similar, however, the deshilada wasn’t as heavy as migas. I don’t know if it’s the same for everyone but I typically can’t move after I eat migas. Even with the Casamiento, which is basically El Salvadorean Gallo Pinto, I wasn’t completely incapacitated after this meal.

This was definitely one of my favorite meals so far. I feel like I’ve been saying that a lot lately, which isn’t really a bad thing. Also, the girls only ate the Casamiento and requested a side of dry Rice Krispie cereal, because of course.

Steak with Mustard Onion Sauce and Yucca Fries

First things first: that picture doesn’t do this meal justice. I know, I need better picture taking skills. I was talking to a friend who is friends with a local food blogger, a very successful food blogger, and my friend said I need to up my picture taking game. This topic has come up before and it’s one I wrestle with often. Here’s the thing, taking curated pictures is only not “my thing” but it’s also hard with what I do.

Most food bloggers test out their recipes before they publish. This means they make it a few times before they post about it because they have to make sure the ingredients work well, that measurements are accurate, and that it doesn’t suck. Because of this, they have ample opportunities to take good pictures. Yes editing plays a huge part in picture taking but so does the set up. I’d say the set up is just as important as a filter and I bet many photographers agree with me. It’s an art form for a reason!

I don’t have that luxury. For me, these meals are a one and done. I’m not creating these recipes, I’m merely following them, so the luxury I do have is not having to test them out. But since I make them once and feed my family directly from them, I don’t have time to take a lot of pretty pics. Even when I’m actually cooking, it’s hard to take a minute out and set up a shot. I’ve tried, with both my phone and an actual camera, and it’s not easy. I’m messy when I cook and my kitchen has crap lighting so taking a good pic involves cleaning up a bit and then standing on a step stool and come on, when I’m working on a sauce or something attention consuming, every minute is precious. I literally don’t have time for that.

And then I have hungry kids and a husband. And myself. I get hungry too. When I finish cooking, I want to eat. I don’t want to place my food on the table and then haphazardly throw a napkin to the side to make it look super casual and take a pic; the food will get cold and my kids will annoy me even more because they won’t stop asking for Goldfish crackers.

But if people think that’s what will make this more appealing, maybe I should do this. Maybe I should make the time, somehow. Once again, input from my five readers is most appreciated.

But this meal, even though the pics don’t show it, it was guuuuhd. Not just good, GUUUUUUHD. The steak was crispy on the outside and medium rare on the inside. The sauce, oooh, I can eat that sauce all day, e’eryday. It was a little tangy and salty but creamy and buttery. I ate two pieces and didn’t even care. The fries were spectacular! The three year old couldn’t stop eating them. She really liked smothering them in the sauce and kept stealing mine. They were lighter than potato fries and not as starchy. I will make these again for sure.

So make this one meal, if you can. It’s easy, yummy, EASY. Also let me know about pics. I’m conflicted.

Recipe, Recipe