Monday, March 30, 2009

Quick and Easy Mexican

Sometimes I get home from work and the last thing I want is to make a complicated dinner for one. At the same time, my thrifty self won't allow me to order takeout very often - in fact, I almost never get takeout except for the occasional (less than once a month) cravings for pizza or Chinese. Instead, I resort to quick meals like ramen (the curry flavored version is surprisingly good) and hot sandwiches (I have an aversion to cold sandwiches; they taste like sawdust to me).

Recently, I discovered that the Mexican restaurant next door sells their homemade corn or flour tortillas by the dozen for takeout. At less than $3 for a fresh, piping hot batch, they make the perfect base for a quick and easy Mexican dinner. I fill them with the leftover odds and ends of veggies, a little bit of protein (usually chicken), and a sprinkle of shredded cheese, then pan-fry them for crispy, golden quesadillas. Alternatively, I keep them soft and warm while I whip up a batch of refried beans, then eat them soft taco style filled with the beans, diced tomatoes, and whatever else is handy - hopefully a ripe avocado.

Refried beans are surprisingly easy and cheap to make as well. This may be the cheater's method but it works and it tastes delicious. Zero points for healthy meal here, though. The sodium in canned beans and the bacon fat used for frying makes this an indulgent treat that is often spread out over a few days to assuage my guilt.

Cheater's Refried Beans

1 can pinto beans
1-2 tbsp bacon fat (I guess veg oil would work too but olive oil might taste too strong)
handful diced onions
couple cloves minced garlic
handful shredded cheese
few sprinkles tabasco

Heat a frying pan with the bacon fat or oil over medium heat. If using, saute onions and/or garlic until fragrant, then add the entire can of beans including the liquid. As the beans heat up, mash some with a wooden spoon until the beans reach the desired texture (I like mine chunky). Add tabasco and cheese if desired, mix well, and serve right away. No additional salt is needed as the canned bean liquid will be pretty salty.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Lemon Curd Cookies

Whenever we visit my boyfriend's family in Tulsa, we have to buy a batch of lemon curd cookies. Sweet-tart lemon curd sandwiched between buttery cookies dredged in powdered sugar... they are insanely delicious. We've never seen them anywhere in DC so we tried making our own with this recipe from Epicurious. While it's a bit time consuming, it's truly worth the trouble. The lemon curd lasts at least a month (we've had ours for a month and a half now and it still tastes pretty darn good), and the cookie dough can be formed into logs and frozen for later use. I could even eat the cookies by themselves with no curd or sugar - they are rich, buttery, and oh-so-tasty! Whip up a batch if you get a chance. You won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Kohlrabi Stir Fry

My local Harris Teeter sells bunches of baby kohlrabi for about $3.50. They're really cute but I never thought there would be enough edible portion in the baby ones. What I didn't consider was the leaves. Thoroughly washed, chopped, and ribs removed, they make a hearty addition to a stir fry with chicken, carrots, and the bulb of the kohlrabi.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

B.A.T. Stuffed Chicken

With a couple weeks break from school, I've found that I have far greater motivation to make creative meals after work. I've also been using a lot of leftovers in new ways, something that makes me pretty happy since I am typically prone to waste and often find unmentionables in the back of my fridge.

Last night's dinner of fish tacos with avocado, tomato, and refried beans cooked in bacon fat resulted in a bounty of leftovers: half an avocado, half a tomato, four strips of bacon (minus a nibble here and there... who could resist??), and a bowl full of beans. Setting aside the beans for soft tacos throughout the week, I combined the remainder to make B.A.T. Stuffed Chicken. Get it? B.A.T. Bacon, Avocado, Tomato! See recipe below.

B.A.T. Stuffed Chicken

two boneless chicken breasts, pounded thin
half an avocado, diced
half a tomato, diced
four cooked bacon strips, roughly chopped
two slices smoked provolone (substitute any strongly-flavored cheese)
one handful shredded mozzarella (substitute any mild-flavored cheese)
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Heat a ovenproof saute pan over medium high heat. Salt and pepper each chicken breast, then on each breast, place one slice of provolone and approximately one quarter each of the avocado, tomato, and bacon. Roll up the chicken, tucking in the ends. Secure with a toothpick if necessary. Sear chicken, seam side down, in the hot pan. Rotate and sear all sides, then return chicken to seam side down. Top each chicken roll with shredded cheese and the remaining bacon, then place the pan in the oven for approximately 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. When chicken is done, top with remaining avocado and tomatoes before serving.

B.A.T. Stuffed Chicken with roasted broccoli and couscous