Sunday, August 16, 2009

Capital H.O.T.

What a week!

Work was crazy, I was only in the office one day and all the others I was out in the field. It is exhausting work, measuring and documenting buildings. My co-worker and I decided it is because it is this slow, monotonous pace all day long, not enough to get your blood pumping. And... it was capital H.O.T!

On top of that, I am getting down to the wire on studying for my next exam (next Friday), Jer's Aunt was in town a couple of days, and we are planning a cross country road trip in two weeks. We also saw Julie & Julia. Loved it! Although I missed some of the side stories that filled out the book, but I understand why they needed to be edited, with Julie's being only half of the story in the movie.

To top off the craziness of the week we went to a filming of Deal Or No Deal yesterday. It was a riot. A friend of ours got some tickets and invited us along. It is not a show that I have ever really watched but it was fun to see in person. It is really high energy and you have to ham it up big time for the camera. At the end of the filming of the actual game we had to stick around and film a bunch of audience reactions, laughing, cheering, gasping... It got a little tiring by the end but it was fun to do something different.

Because of the long days, cooking was the last priority this week so the meals are not the most exciting, but they're simple and good. Sometimes the best kind of all!

You want to know a secret to saving money big time at the grocery store and cutting tons of unwanted fat, calories, sodium and other junk from your diet? Stick to the perimeter of the store. It is as simple as that. The perimeter has all of the "whole" foods if you will. The food that is in it's most natural state. And the center isles (with some exceptions) have the all of the packaged and processed foods. I can't say I always avoid these items all together but I do my best to cook from the "whole" ingredients to avoid the "junk" and save money. And you know what else? It tastes a lot better too!

This is my recipe for taco seasoning. I love that in this picture I can actually identify all of the different herbs and spices that went into it. And I love that when I make my own I can control the spiciness level. I like some heat for sure but the nose running, brow sweating kind? Not so much, and I find that the pre-made mixes are either too bland or too hot, never just right.

Taco Seasoning
This makes enough for about 6 pounds of meat, use ~2 T per pound (or to taste). Keep the rest in an airtight container in the pantry.

6 T chili powder
1 1/2t garlic powder
1 1/2 t onion powder
3/4 t red pepper flakes (or 1/4 t cayenne pepper)
1 1/2 t oregano
1 T paprika
3 T cumin
2 T Kosher salt
2 T black pepper

Put all of the ingredients in a jar or a container with a lid and shake, shake, shake...


We had a roasted chicken on Sunday (which I was too lazy to take a picture of) and we had the leftovers in a couple of meals throughout the week. For these tacos I roughly chopped the chicken and put it in a skillet over medium high heat with the seasoning from above and a little water. As it heats it is easy to shred up while you stir it.

1. Shredded Chicken Tacos

I bought this pork and pineapple for an entirely different dish but when I was reading the recipe it was way to time consuming for me to handle this week so I reverted to this old favorite because I had everything I needed on hand.

2. Chili Rubbed Pork Kebabs with Pineapple Salsa
from Real Simple
makes 4 servings

1 pineapple, peeled, cored and cut lengthwise into 16 strips
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
1 T fresh lime juice
1/4 t black pepper
2 T olive oil
1 3/4 t Kosher salt
3 t chili powder
4 boneless pork loin chops, cut into 1" cubes

Heat grill to medium-high. Skewer the pineapple strips and grill for 2 minutes per side. Cut into a small dice and combine with the jalapeno, cilantro, lime juice, pepper, 1 T of the oil and 3/4 t of the salt. Set aside.

Combine the chili powder and remaining 1 t salt in a large bowl. Add the pork and the remaining 1 T oil and toss to coat. Thread the pork onto skewers. Grill the kebabs, turning every 2 minutes, until cooked through, about 8 minutes total.

We also had mashed potatoes with our roasted chicken on Sunday (which I was too lazy to take a picture of) and I planned to make these burritos with the leftovers. These were something I ate back in my vegetarian days (all of high school and college, I was an herbivore, my husband was a carnivore, and we met in the middle). They are a little plain but surprisingly good.

3. Potato Burritos
makes as many as you have ingredients for

mashed potatoes
green chilies, diced
Cheddar cheese, shredded
flour tortillas

Fill the tortillas with the goodies and heat. Um, that was easy.


I came home from work on Monday with a killer headache and went strait to bed for two hours. Jer whipped up this salad for me when I woke up with some of the left over chicken. What a sweetie, and not bad for a reformed carnivore, huh?

4. Chicken Cesar Salad

this one had:
Romaine lettuce
red onion
black olives
Parmesan cheese (?)
and Cesar dressing

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Anonymous said...

I can't believe you had H.O.T.! I had to crank up the wood stove yesterday for the first time since spring :(
But our bellies felt better after our first try of ribs on the green egg.
Will have to make the taco seasoning soon - I hate buying those lame little packages. Love, Twila

Andrea said...

The wood stove!?! Yesterday was the first time this summer that I was really wishing we had installed our a/c in the living room!
What are "ribs on the green egg"?

Anonymous said...

The green egg is our awesome bbq/smoker. Chris "won" it. You can probably google it - makes the BEST meat :) -T (Still wearing hoody, but too lazy to make fire)

Jessica said...

This looks like a great, standard spice mix to have around. Thanks for sharing!

Christine said...

Another great taco seasoning recipe is the one in Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian".