Comfort Food for Fall

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I know a lot of you think of comfort food for the Fall as soups, stews, casseroles or something along those lines. Well, my favorite Fall-time comfort food is a soupy mix of tomatoes, chilies, jalapeƱos, onions, garlic and refried beans all rolled into a tortilla and covered in cheese and lettuce.

Growing up, my mom wasn't the best of cooks and to this day I think she still has a fear of food.  She was always telling me just to try new things, but she's of the breed that is to do as I say not as I do.  This is a woman who thinks garlic and potatoes have no place being together.  HUH???  Yes, you heard me right.  She thinks garlic fries or garlic mashed potatoes are disgusting.  Maybe that's why I have turned into such a foodie; I'm exploring all of these items that were never even mentioned in our house growing up.  Anyhoot, back to my story.  Every Halloween as we were kids, we would go out trick-or-treating with our friends and the parents would stay at the house cooking up dinner.  Yes, this is back in the day where you could let your kids run around after dark knocking on people's doors and not worry that they were going to be taken or even worse.  When all of us kids would get back with our loot, there would be a big pan full of "green burritos" and we would have to eat a real dinner before we could dive into our candy for the inevitable sugar high.  Now, other than the lettuce that is placed on top, this concoction is nowhere near green in color so I'm not sure where it got it's name or how it came to be, but it's warm, spicy and just plain good.

Every year as the seasons change and the weather gets that little Fall nip in the air I start to crave these burritos.  Once again, I was fooled by my mother.  Since we only had them once a year, I thought they must be hard to make and take forever and that's why we never had them.  But, no, they are relatively easy to make and quite an easy weeknight dinner and given I don't eat too much beef, I make mine vegetarian so they're even that much more simple.  As I stated, I have been craving these and so last night after work knowing that I had to go to the store because we were down to almost nothing in the kitchen that could be called food I decided tonight was the night to make my Fall treat.  Knowing that I was short on cash and short on pretty much everything I headed to our local 99cent store where I knew I could find almost everything I needed along with fruits and veggies for the week.  I love that place!  It's not the best produce in the world, but when your budget's tight you can still get fresh items and eat well very cheaply.

Shopping done, I was able to find everything I needed plus some extra food for lunches and such for the week and headed home to comfort food land.  I had several obstacles in my way before I could start to dive into my burritos:

  • Dogs let out of their crates and into backyard - check
  • Set up guinea pig play area in living room for piggies to play - check
  • Clean guinea pig cage and re-fill with new bedding - check
  • Give kitties some love and playtime out in the front yard - check
  • Clean kitchen and do dishes left over from lazy Sunday - check
Now I was ready to cook!  I've discovered instead of just throwing a bunch of stuff into a pot or pan and getting dinner together as fast as I can, I'm enjoying the whole process of it.  I got all of my ingredients out and set them up on my cutting board, got my pan out added a bit of oil and started chopping my onion then added it to the pan to begin to sweat.  I next went to my garlic and pealed a couple cloves, chopped them up and added them to the pan with a can of roasted green chilies.  I chopped up some jalapeƱo peppers added them to the mix and then my large can of tomatoes.  Once everything was bubbling along I added a can of cream of celery soup.  Not sure what this does to the mix other than thicken it up a bit, but it seems to work.  At this point in the process, my mixture looks like a big pan-full of vomit.  I kid you not.  Don't be discouraged, just keep on going.  After bringing to a boil and letting it simmer for a bit I added a can of refried beans and mixed those in real well.  While the beans were doing their magic in the mixture, I chopped up some more onion, sliced some cabbage I had on hand real thin and grated a bit of cheese.  Now I was ready to assemble!  I heated up a flour tortilla on top of my gas burner then filled it with my green burrito goodness, added some onion, cheese and cabbage then rolled it up.  It then gets topped with more sauce, little more onion and a dollop of sour cream.  I grabbed a Negra Modelo and went to town!  Oh it was good!  Just what I had been craving and wanted.  Just as I sat down, husband was home earlier than expected and was able to enjoy a burrito as well declaring they were "awesome!"

In summary,
  • Fall comfort food - check
  • Happy piggies playing on the floor - check
  • Clean kitchen - check
  • Clean guinea pig cage - check
  • Dogs running amok in the backyard - check
  • Happy husband home to good meal - check
My day is complete and I can now rest...

Wordless Wednesday brought to you by Budrick Joseph

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Pork-a-palooza!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not a huge fan of pork. I don't like bacon, pork chops, ham, and most pork products. Well, the one huge caveat to that statement is if said pork is thrown on a smoker for hours upon hours until it is tender, smoky and wonderful I love it!

Last Friday I decided to try my hand at doing pulled pork. I've smoked some ribs (with husband's instructions) and they have turned out pretty good so I thought I'd give it a shot. How hard could it be?? Actually, it wasn't too bad. With very little money in hand on Friday I set off early in the morning to hunt me down some meat. I found a nice 8lb pork shoulder for less than $15, then headed over to the 99cent store for some cheap buns and sauce that I could doctor up to make better. Once I got home I got to work on the whole "process." I cleaned out the smoker from its last use and got it started so it would heat up and be ready to go when I was done with the meat. I then pulled all my ingredients for the rub: brown sugar, cumin, garlic, pepper, cayenne, onion powder and a couple other items to make it extra yummy. After I had the rub the way I wanted it, the meat got slathered in the rubby goodness and dropped onto the smoker for a nice long smoke.


The meat officially hit the grill about 10:30am and I thought that would be plenty of time to smoke since husband didn't get off work until 6p and usually home around 7p. Plenty of time, right? Uh, wrong. Of course, had I done my research before hand, I would have known that it takes anywhere between 10 - 15 hours to properly smoke a pork shoulder but that did not stop me from my goal. I went along with my day doing some other chores, but kept an eye on my meat and added my wood chips as needed. Toward the end of the day I noticed that it was starting to look a little dry, so I looked up what the professionals do to avoid this and created my own mop sauce using some apple cider vinegar, oil and some of the rub whisked in. I mopped the shoulder down and it looked just beautiful. Husband called and wanted to be picked up from work that day, so I headed out around 5:30p to pick him up. I left the pork on the smoker to continue to do it's thing until we got back.

I had told Tate that I was going to have a surprise for him for dinner that day, but didn't give him any clues as to what it was. When he got in the car, he immediately wanted to know what his surprise was. Being the deceiving girl that I am, I made him think that I didn't do it today because I didn't feel like it. I told him as a consolation I would take him to Beto's for dinner. He was bummed, but agreed, so back home we went. I told him I needed to stop back at the house first before we went to dinner. We got out of the car and, of course, he automatically smelled the smoke. "Someone's smoking something good." I played it off as that I couldn't smell it. ;~) As I went inside to stall, he was bouncing around the house raring to go to dinner, so I told him, "oh, by the way, could you check on the pork shoulder I have smoking in the backyard?" I think I got him pretty good! He was plenty pleased that I had done that, however, I fessed up that I didn't think it would be done for dinner.

I decided about 7pm to pull the shoulder from the smoker and see how it was doing. It looked great, but not quite pull apart tender. We decided to throw it into the oven at about 275 for a couple hours and just let it melt apart. By this time it had plenty of smoke flavor so once covered with foil it would be fine. We ended up getting Beto's for dinner anyway, but after an additional 3.5 hours in the oven and just sitting there all night I was able to pull the shoulder apart beautifully the next morning.



As you can see, we got plenty of meat off of that 8lb shoulder and Tate made stock from the remaining bone, skin and juices.  I spent most of the day on Monday canning the stock after it had boiled most all day Saturday and been cooled on Sunday.  My pressure canner and I are still getting to know each other, but I'm happy with the results of 5 beautiful quarts of smoked pork stock.  Baked beans here we come!


The pulled pork sandwiches we made turned out amazing and once I doctored the cheap sauce, it was even better!  Not too bad for $15 and a couple days work.  :~)

Happy Eating!

Well, I'm no Rembrant, but not too bad!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

I did my first attempt at painting today and it turned out great! As the blog states, I'm fascinated with pineapples and crabs. There is just something about both of them, and I needed them together in a painting, so I did it.

Husband is the artist of the family. Our house is filled with his artwork and the fact that it seems so organic for him always put me off, but I wanted this. I headed into the studio today knowing that husband was going to be stuck in the kitchen juicing a giant bucket of grapes to make wine and I wanted something to do to be near him but still keeping busy. I suppose I could have sat in the kitchen with my knitting or embroidery, but today seemed like the day to get my paint on. I found a great canvas that we had that was oddly shaped, grabbed the acrylics and brushes and set up shop at the dining room table.

After several questions to the "professional" in the next room, I got started on painting the background and blending away. It was a learning experience and is no where near perfect, but every time I look at it I like it that much better. It's bright and cheerful and brings a smile to my face. It now proudly hangs in my pineapple and crab infused kitchen to make the theme complete. Someday when the remodel is done with our kitchen, this painting will be center stage and the true inspiration that I want it to be. Now, look to your right of this page and you will be able to see my masterwork in it's full glory. Not too bad, huh?

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