Spicy Curry Turkey Enchiladas

Well…what happens when the cabinets are empty… a few things. 1. Pissy, I haven’t replenished my stock on a timely basis (although I’ve been avoiding numerous trips to the store to try and USE all the stuff I have an accumulated) 2. Happy, because this gives me an excuse to go to the store 3. Creative, literally some of the best things that I’ve thrown together have come from just weird and unexpected combinations. It forces you to really feel out different flavors, spices, and ingredients from your normal comfort zone.

So some not-so stalked shelves and a hungry me, left me scouring for something to throw together. Too much pasta last week so I was avoiding that. I have about every kind of protein in my fridge/freezer but couldn’t think of anything to pair stuff with. It’s really hard cooking for one…and I don’t like having the same dinner two nights in a row (it’s ok….you can call me snooty), but I’ll will eat it for lunch the next day if that makes up for it.

Knowing there are some tortillas about to become questionable, it’s either burrito based or enchiladas. I could DRINK enchilada sauce. Feel free to become squeamish… I can’t help it, I think it’s that good. I don’t frequent Trader Joe’s because it’s mostly prepared food that’s frozen…and I just like making everything from scratch…but I did have a bottle of Enchilada Sauce from one of my first trips there when it opened months back. I’ve been waiting to use it because it’s either just me (dinner, party of one)… or no one wants Mexican. Who doesn’t like enchiladas? BAD PEOPLE, that’s who. I’ve always been a total sucker for enchiladas…yummy sauce, and too much cheese, and whatever array of protein…I don’t care, just get in my face.

Anyways, so after deciding upon enchiladas, I wanted to use some ground turkey I had in the freezer, and regardless of the fact that its turkey… it does have quite a bit of salt and fat in it…so I try really hard when I season things to avoid salt (like all-purpose seasonings- they have lots of salt in them since those who aren’t familiar with seasonings usually buy the “all-purpose” ones) if there’s already quite a bit in it- leading me to eliminate the factor of being able to use one of the ‘taco’ seasoning packets I often use. So attempting to create my own seasoning as healthy as possible, I threw in some diced tomatoes, and let the simmer with the browned turkey in some beef broth, garlic, paprika, chili pepper, and pepper (sorry Shawn). Decent flavor, but a little bland yet….and I’m getting hungrier by the minute…not wanting to let this simmer and soak up more flavor too much longer, I needed a quick fix. Parading thru my spice rack I discover in the back my wonderful authentic curry purchase I made some time ago  at my favorite Arabic store in town. I have a few places where I specifically go to buy certain spices…because they are 1. kickass 2. really cheap 3. three times the quantities sold in the average store. Some of the best ones are super fragrant even thru the packaging. Anyways… so I see this awesome curry powder and decide…well….why not…I guess??? Throw in a decent quantity and hope for the best in about 20 minutes! I guess one benefit to being alone 90% of the time is I don’t have to get embarrassed when I screw up food. If it works…super, another good one for the books, if it doesn’t… I didn’t serve a guest eat crappy fo

od.

Slathering the warmed tortillas in sauce, filled with my custom (and potentially questionable at this point) filling, and a handful of cheese…I rolled them babies up and tossed them in the oven with another coating of sauce and cheese on top. A few minutes later, pulled them with that glorious dark brown enchilada sauce (my new favorite brand for sure!!!) and melted

cheese….I couldn’t hardly wait to throw one on my plate with a dollop of sour cream and parsley.

Decision: AWESOME. I knew it wasn’t going to be traditional because of the added curry…but I really liked the change. I think Mexican or Tex-Mex style food can all taste the same sometimes. All contain a protein, cheese, and lettuce, tomato, and tortilla in some order or another…leaving me often feeling bored with the food style. I would definitely make these again…but let it s

immer a little longer to nab some more flavor. I’m not sure every average

-Joe would be a number one fan of this dish if they would have a hard time breaking away from the traditional flavor profiles…but anyone with a frequent need for change, or that just enjoys different things would die for a forkful of these little suckers!

Ricotta: How it’s Ruined…and Saved My Life

You know what’s awesome. Ricotta. I’ve always liked it a lot. I decided this post needed to exhist after the Ravioli one. Store bought stuff used to taste awesome to me…I can’t tell if they all just SUCK now, or if it’s because I started making my own and literally nothing compares anymore. WARNING: If you make your own…storebought from that point forward will taste like crap…and soap. Seriously…soap. Make your own.

About 6 months or so ago I decided to try and make my own…turns out it’s really simple, it’s just all about the ingredients and timing. The right kind of whole milk and the right recipe. I’ve tried several… but the one that seems to work the best for my little Kimbertastebuds is an old Sicilian recipe I found… it was one of those I stumbled upon online…and I’ve never been able to locate it again…thank goodness I printed it out. If anyone wants the step by step instructions just let me know… but any basic ricotta recipe will tell you how to do it. DON”T let it boil hard….or for very long. It really does take a little finese. I’ve made a couple that didn’t turn out at all…it really takes a patience to get the right consistency…and a sincere gallon of whole milk. Most stores don’t even carry it…and it’s expensive. Most recipes don’t call for the buttermilk…I’ve tried several ways….and this one is my personal favorite… it’s a little sweeter. After you’ve purchased all this liquid…you’ll blow basically 10 bucks on MILK (ha) for not much ricotta….after the cheese forms (curd) the rest is just liquid discharge which is actually pure whey. So if you do protein shakes…this is for you…you’re own pure whey. Depending on how much you get to firm up it makes like 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups. I realize this post was brief and choppy…but deal with it: I’ve just given you the tool of Ricotta Knowledge!

Mozzerela is next on my list. Any takers?!

  • 1 gallon whole milk
  • 1 quart cultured buttermilk
  • 1 quart heavy cream (optional)
  • salt to taste
  • large, heavy bottom pan
  • colander
  • cheese cloth

Rolled out Ravioli

So a few months back I decided it was time to buy a pasta roller. I can’t tell you how long I stood analyzing the two options I had… the Kitchenaid Attachment one: the single roller was $100, and the multi attachment was like $150, or the second option was the manual one that you latch onto your table or kitchen countertop.

Given my financial situation…the $30 handroller won. They also sell some ‘elite’ crank brands from $60 and up. I convinced myself before I had even left the store, that this ‘crank’ version was going to keep me ‘in touch’ with my dough, making me learn the hard way before immediately taking the easy Kitchenaid route. (and that I had an extra $75 bucks in my pocket didn’t hurt either). All in all, I AM glad that I bought this one first… you really do have to work with your dough and get a feel for the machine. Making the gluten break down and really feel the dough change and manipulating it is definitely an art: one that I’m trying to be very skilled at. I do think if you throw down in the kitchen… that knowing the basics first is definitely important. Building blocks.

OK…SO- I’ve made noodles before…some worked, and some did not. At this point I think the lasagna noodles were by far the best, but I’m sure future posts of my practice will go over that on another day. So I still had/have some of that zucchini I used for the chocolate zucchini muffins, and I thought ‘huh, I wonder if that would be good in pasta?’ So that was what drove this particular quest. Ravioli not only looks cool (or cute…) but it’s also stuffed with a base of ricotta and usually other additive. So I shaved finely some zucchini and mixed it up with a little ricotta. Tasted it…not awesome…but not unpleasant. Normally I would have stopped right there but I wanted to see it thru to the end. Got my pasta sheets all rolled out, and watched a few videos and read a few tips on the assembly of the rav. Seemed basic enough. One sheet: tsp dollops of goop, second pasta sheet, pasta/pastry cutter out the pieces. Well it definitely worked…and none of them were in uniform shapes (I blame this on my first time thru) but hey, I was the only one in the kitchen…so who’s lookin? (no one!)

Normally at this point I would start pulling and sheeting out the rest of the dough- but since the taste definitely had a uniqueness to it…I wanted to taste test it before rolling out the entire pound of dough…or then I’d really be left with a unedible and questionable mess (and waste of time). I started to boil some water in one pan, and threw some butter and a few herbs in another. (next time I would have used half butter, half oil) I wanted to keep the ‘sauce’ just naked and simple to make sure I could actually taste the pasta…not a sauce. As I’m getting ready to throw the ravs into the water… I realized that they were coming apart. I was so mad. Quick failure. What happened was the zucchini is a lot like cucumber…it can be watery…and I had shredded it and immediately mixed it with ricotta. I should have really squeezed it dry or let it sit out for awhile. So I fixed about 8 out of 14  of them as best as I could and boiled those quick, and then threw them into the butter to coat. I took a couple and tried them… again, not bad, but definitely a strange flavor profile. I gave a few to Shawn to try, and thank goodness that poor boy was drowning himself in mix that had to be completed in a few hours, because he was kind of out of it. He agreed with me on the strange flavor and disappeared back into his office again: bless his heart he’s pretty honest about what I make good or questionable…as far as I can tell so far. I have to start making sure he’s really distracted or busy when trying things I make that flop… God forbid he thinks I start sucking soon. 🙂 I’ve fooled him this long into thinking I’m a decent cook, when really it’s mostly luck!

Back on track….so anyways, the ravs were alright, but definitely glad I only made a handful. I cranked out the rest of the dough and just made plain ricotta filled ravs… much better choice. By the last round or so I was finally catching a knack for it…and they were becoming more uniform, and just looked better in general. I think the next go I’ll try to lay down parchment paper first to retrieve them off the counter easier AND seal up three sides, let some air out before sealing the forth. Too much air in there…when you pick them up usually a corner pops open and then I had to reseal it. I also like putting them into the freezer to hard up for a bit before boiling. I think they just boil better (my opinion–and less burst open midboil)

Served the little cheese filled devils with a real simple red sauce- worked out well…but definitely excited to try again and iron out some of the kinks.

 

**Key Note: Dont’ use store bought ricotta…I did cause i was in a hurry…didn’t taste half as good as it could have.

Ba-na-na-na Bread

It’s been awhile since  I turned out a loaf of Banana Bread…and considering I “accidently” bought more bananas than I could eat before they went mush… I figured why not. I have a sincere love-hate relationship with Banana Bread. It’s almost ALWAYS good, but the downfall for me is that it’s quite heavy… So I just eat it in really small portions= win. I opted for a really basic recipe without any horns and whistles. Although I love interesting flavors and food profiles…some things are just better when they’re done simply… so I wanted to keep this one as so. Immediately I began by NOT following instructions… I believe it called for 2 cups of banana… and I had three pretty large ones sitting on the counter….and I wasn’t going to just throw one away…so I didn’t even bother measuring…and threw them in there (later to questionable demise). This particular recipe was with brown sugar…which I wanted… regular white sugar just doesn’t taste as homey too me for this kind of bread. But I was surprised that there also wasn’t any cinnamon or nutmeg ect in it…so I threw a splash of cinnamon in there (next time I’ll do more because it was very, very faint)

All mixed up, and ready to throw in the bread pan (found one!! I had left one in Omaha…thank goodness one survives= but also gave me the reminder…eghhh. Get a new bread/loaf pan, this one sucks… but it’s function was adaquate non the less. Realistically I probably just want a heavier one…and prettier..ha! ) but decided that since I didn’t grab any nuts at the store to put in there…it needed something. So there were oats ontop of the fridge, so I threw a handful in there. Next time…note: Throw two or three handfuls, it was a good call. Banana Oat Bread. I like Banana Nut- but almost ever recipe calls for a different kind of nut, or just generally says ‘nut’.  I need to have a breadbake off and test to see which one is best… and I also like them ground or chopped pretty finely… it’s a weird texture thing for me personally when you have moist bread…and then a weird crunch, feels like it’s not supposed to be there.

All in all…bread was good…definitely needed some more flare like more cinnamon, nutmeg, and more oats….but very homey and comforting. I did think that it was a little gooey in the middle probably from adding too much banana… but still good…and moist as can be.

And…It Begins….

So WordPress it is. What prompted this interesting experience I’ve so chosen to embark on? Facebook. Much complaining this morning about other people’s’ annoying Facebook posts habits has led me to believe that maybe not everyone on there enjoys hearing me mumble about food/eating all the time: so now if people want to hear it, they actually have to look for it here. Really it’s away to talk to myself I suppose, get out all this pent-up food-blabber.

I received some fresh zucchini yesterday from a friend… I’ve never used it…ever. So the first thought that came to me was zucchini bread. Figured I’d better start slow, as per the unknown fruits and veggies tend to scare me a little bit.  As I begun to prep by shredding the zucchini and look for the proper cookware…I discovered a terrible…terrible thing. Somehow out of the three bread pans that I have…not a single one exist in my living quarters any longer. Can’t blame this one on the cats (shucks). Must have left ALL of them periodically at different places/gatherings. So mid mixing, I was forced to change up the plan of attack. Well….muffins sound reasonably safe….psssht…AND also delicious.  Within a few clicks and eight to ten recipe scans later… what made the cut may you ask? Chocolate Zucchini Muffins! I haven’t had zucchini since probably at lunch time forcibly in elementary school…which I probably thought was quite questionable back then…. but after a few “accidental” finger dips in the batter… it was definitely all green lights for go.  It took about everything in me not to smoosh (what a great word…say it…out loud. smoosh. Not Jersey Shore Smoosh….food smoosh) up a banana and turn them into Chocolate Banana Zucchini Muffins…I figured hey…let’s work our way up…there’s four more of these babies sitting on the kitchen counter ready for whatever means necessary.

So … the first batch comes out of the oven…and my apartment smells nothing less than ahh-mazing, probably pissing off every neighbor in the musty smelling hall that passes by. These little delights look adorable…but needed a little flare. Never having done a glaze before (I don’t know why…it’s not in the least bit difficult)  I decided that a lemon glaze would pair nicely, leaving me with some extra delicious looking muffins. Now for the taste test… Heavenly bliss…seriously. Hands down the best bread I’ve made in ages. Perfectly cooked, the inside just completely moist, falling apart delicately in your mouth. Not to mention the little hint of lemon from the glaze…really, really hit the spot. I think my best move here was how I prepared the zucchini. It’s supposed to be graded…and looking at several food blogs myself online…many people grade quite thick. I found my finest cheese grader and went to town. My fear was having stringy muffins…which I’m so glad I avoided at all costs… definitely an awkward texture…stringy muffins. Although pleased with the fact that I had an awesome grader to use…my index finger however disagrees. It got nicked not once, not twice, not even three time….I actually lost count, and I had to take a break mid-grade to assess the blood dripping from my finger. Not everyone can say they have a zucchini injury… Regardless…I still feel like I won.