Slightly Cheaper Than Therapy

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Okay, so here’s the thing… October 23, 2008

Filed under: Casseroles,holiday foods,Mexican — slightlycheaperthantherapy @ 2:39 pm

I did not fall off the face of the earth.  That’s good to know, right?  And I didn’t get into one of my writing funks again.  Also good to know.  But I did go and get myself PREGNANT!!!!!!!!!  And holy COW was the first trimester a doozey.  I literally survived off of sausage biscuits (breakfast) and mac & cheese every other moment of the day.  Whoever called it morning sickness is a big fat liar, because it was all day sickness for me.  Ugh. 

The good news is once I hit about 14 weeks the Second Trimester Fairy sprinkled me with magical feel-good dust and life has been much, much better.  So much so that I’ve actually started cooking again.  The Hubby is CRAZY happy about that.  Poor guy was living off of Totino’s Party Pizza’s and Spaghetti O’s for 3 months. 

But do you wanna here the even BETTER news?  I’ve actually been ordered by my doctor to GAIN weight!!  *HALLELUJAH!  THE HEAVENLY CHOIRS ARE SINGING!!*  So that means all these little recipes that I’ve tucked away for another day are actually making their way to the forefront of my kitchen.  I know, I know, I can’t go completely hog wild.  But I figure if I eat a sensible breakfast and lunch and make sure I have a few servings of veggies and fruit during the day, I can indulge during dinner.  Oh and the other thing that makes my indulgences a little more justifiable:  this kid of mine hates sweets.  Anything sweet either makes me ill or just tastes wrong.  The only exception to this is straight up dark chocolate.  That still tastes pretty darn good.  So…where was I…oh yeah, I don’t feel so bad about my less-than-lean dinners.  🙂

Which brings me to my first pregnant lady dish.  Actually, I don’t think I can blame this one on the weirdo PG cravings (which I haven’t really experienced yet).  No, I think it’s just getting so darn close to Thanksgiving that I absolutely cannot stop thinking about this dressing.  I got the recipe from a cooking class I took with Jack Gilmore, owner and executive chef of Z’Tejas, last year.  My family absolutely flipped for it when I brought it to our Thanksgiving dinner.  And if you’re a Mexican/Tex-Mex/Southwestern food junkie like me, this is sooooooo up your alley.  Yes, there’s quite a bit of chopping involved, but if you make this recipe over the course of a few days, it doesn’t seem so bad. 

My suggestion is to whip up the corn bread a day or two before you want to serve the dressing.  It needs the extra time to dry out a bit.  And while this is in the oven, chop your veggies.  Store them in the fridge until it’s time to mix everything up and the whole process won’t seem like such a chore.  But even if you do it all in one day, it is worth every second of the effort.

Z’Tejas Sweet Corn Cornbread (This is the stuff would be awesome with some black eyed peas or chili!!)

Yields ~2 – 10″ skillets

1 ½ cups of Lamb’s Corn Meal (or any other stone ground variety)
1 ½ cups of all-purpose flour
1/3 cup plus 1 Tablespoon of sugar
1 Tablespoon of baking powder
1 Tablespoon of baking soda
1 cup of plain, nonfat yogurt
1/3 cup plus 1 Tablespoon of canned creamed corn
1/3 cup plus 1 Tablespoon of frozen whole kernel corn (thawed)
3 large eggs
1/3 cup plus 1 Tablespoon of REAL butter
¼ teaspoon of salt

Mix all dry ingredients together and set a side. In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk all wet ingredients (including corn) together. Then add dry ingredients to form a batter.

Use a 10″ castiron skillet. Spray with nonstick spray (or melt ½ a stick of butter) and fill with 1/2 the batter.  ***If you heat your skillet on the stove before adding the batter you can trim 10 minutes or so off the baking time.***

Bake at 400 (375 for convection ovens) for about 20 minutes. Test by inserting a toothpick in the center of the cornbread. Toothpick should come out relatively clean but still a little moist.

*If using this for the Tamale Dressing, make at least one day in advance and allow to dry out.

*If using this for regular cornbread, make this right before serving the meal.

Z’Tejas Tamale and Jalapeno Corn Bread Dressing

One recipe of Sweet Corn Cornbread, crumbled into quarter sized chunks
6 Tablespoons of REAL butter
1 1/2 cup of chopped onion (~1 whole medium onion)
1 1/2 cup of chopped red bell peppers (~ 2 peppers)
2 cups of chopped poblano peppers (~2-3 peppers)
3 large jalapenos, stemmed, seeded and chopped (*This was a little too spicy for my tastes, so I’d cut back to 2.*)
1 Tablespoon of fresh sage or 4 teaspoons of dried
1 1/2 Tablespoons of dried oregano
3/4 cup of chopped fresh cilantro
1 1/2 cups of crushed corn chips
1 1/2 cups of frozen corn kernels (thawed)
12 pork, chicken OR beef tamales, shucked and chopped into 1″ chunks
3 cups of chicken stock, heated
3/4 cup of canned creamed corn
Salt & Pepper to taste

Melt butter in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, bell peppers, all chilies, sage and oregano. Sweat the vegetables (sauté until about half way cooked). Transfer bowl to bowl with cornbread. Mix in cilantro, corn chips, kernel corn, creamed corn and heated chicken stock. Stir well. Mix in tamales, being careful not to break up the chunks. Add salt and pepper. If stuffing is too dry for your tastes, add a little melted butter.

Preheat oven to 325. Butter a 13x9x2 baking dish. Pour mixture into baking dish and cover with foil. Bake approximately 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15 minutes or until top is browned.

*Do NOT make this the night before. Make it the morning of and then reheat it in the oven before serving.

P.S.–Pictures will be up tomorrow (10/24)!!

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Kinda Like a Mexican Grilled Cheese Sandwich…But Better. November 6, 2007

Filed under: Mexican,Seafood — slightlycheaperthantherapy @ 3:33 pm

When you grow up in Texas it’s hard not to love Mexican food.  It’s almost as ubiquitous as BBQ.  And if you live in Austin, you will find queso on every menu.  And I mean every single menu in town.  Even the local philly cheesestake places serve it.  If you can, for five seconds or more, tear yourself away from the cheesy goodness of Tex-Mex and cultivate a taste for authentic Mexican food, then you really have discovered heaven on earth.  This dish falls somewhere in between.  It’s got the cilantro and heavy onion I’m used to seeing in Tex-Mex, but it’s missing some form of chili con carne and lots of grease.  And it doesn’t entirely remind me of interior Mexican either, though the lack of grease allows the flavors of the individual ingredients shine through.  Maybe costal Mexican, if there is such a thing…?  Regardless, this dish is so good and so light that I don’t think it matters what category you lump it into. 

This recipe is also my first foray into Cate at Sweetnick’s ARF/5-A-Day blogging event.  Yay for healthy eating!!

Confetti Quesadillas
Adapted from Cooking Light

1 tablespoon of butter
1 c. of chopped onion
1 c. of corn kernels
1 garlic clove, minced
2/3 c. chopped tomato
1 1/2 tsp. of minced, seeded jalapeno pepper
1/2 lb. of medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped
2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
1/2-3/4 tablespoon of dried cilantro (I used more this time, and it was a bit much.  Next time, I’ll cut back to this amount.)
1/4 tsp. salt
8-8 inch fat free flour tortillas
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
Salsa

Heat butter in a medium non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Add onions, corn and garlic and saute 30 seconds.  Add tomatoes and pepper and saute 4 minutes.  Add shrimp, lemon juice, cilantro and salt and saute 3 minutes.  Remove mixture from skillet and keep warm.

Place one tortilla in a skillet over medium heat, and top with 1/4 c. of cheese.  Spoon 1/2 c. of shrimp mixture over cheese.  Top with a tortilla.  Cook 3 minutes, pressing down with a spatula until cheese melts.  Turn carefully and cook an additional minute.  Cut each quesadilla into 4 triangles and serve with salsa. 

 

Honorable Mention August 26, 2007

Filed under: Meats,Mexican — slightlycheaperthantherapy @ 2:02 am

Friday night I decided to give Mexican Night a go.  A few months ago, Friday night meant Ninfas for Rob and I.  While they don’t have the most inspired dishes, the do have pretty darn good strawberry margaritas and that avocado salsa they bring out (for free!) is fantastic.  But somewhere along the way my love of good ritas and dipping sauce got usurped by the desire to have less of me to love.  So we ditched our Mexican Nights in favor of something lighter from my kitchen.  I say mine because Rob rarely does more than make a sandwich or pour a bowl of cereal in it.

 Anyway, this Friday I went for a more interior Mexican than the usual Tex-Mex.  And while I know that food from the interior is, generally, a bit more bland (read: less cheesey) than Tex-Mex, it does have its own unique flavor.  However what I came up with wasn’t very flavorful at all.  Everthing was just sort of “bah”.  The chicken with tomatillo salsa and queso fresco didn’t have much kick to it, and the cilantro lime rice wasn’t very limey or cilantro-ey.  The rice I think I can fix, but I’m honestly not sure what to do with the tomatillo salsa.  I even used roasted hatch chiles for the love of pete.  But this dish photographed soooooooooooooooo well that I had to show it off.  Sometimes you’ve just got to admire a pretty package. 

 Chicken with Tomatillo Salsa and Queso Fresco

 Further evidence that it is my kitchen.  This is Rob’s version of helping me with dinner:

 refried black beans

 If you’d like to give this recipe a go, let me know and I’ll be happy to pass it on.