Monday, December 22, 2008

Nuevo Coquito

At our house, we always have a 'holiday drink'. One year it was appletinis, another year it was mojitos, etc. While flipping through my favorite cookbook (duh), Isabel's Cantina (link to the right), I found a recipe for Nuevo Coquitos. The cookbook says that "like eggnog, a coquito is a traditional Puerto Rican drink served during the holidays". Sold!! We decided to whip up a test batch last night to see if it would fly as the cocktail of the season in the Haines house, and it certainly did! I have a feeling that these are going to be preeeeetty dangerous this week...

(makes about 7 cups)
2-14 oz cans coconut milk
1-14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
1.5 cups white rum
ice cubes

Throw it all in a blender!! Add the ice a little at a time until it's the consistency that you want it. I like it pretty slushy, so I put a good amount in there. It tastes kind of like a pina colada, but not quite as fruity. I served it over ice, as suggested in the recipe, but a lot of it glommed onto the ice. For maximum intake, I'm probably going to just serve it straight next time. The ice that's blended with it makes it plenty frothy and cool. It's a pretty white, so you can garnish it with a whole plethora of crap: cranberries, candy canes, etc etc...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Ostrich Egg

This has nothing to do with me cooking, but it DOES have to do with food and it made Nicole laugh and call me a weirdo...soo...there ya go. Anyone else catch the episode (maybe the 2nd?) of Top Chef when that chick cracks open the ostrich egg? Little back story: raw eggs freak me out. I've taken way too many biology classes and I'm pretty sure that I'm in the process of getting salmonella (side-back-story: Nic's mom had two turtles named Sam and Ella!) every time a piece of that loogie of a raw egg touches me. The stuff is SICK. I wash my hands furiously immediately after handling eggs. I like eating eggs, but cracking them open grosses me out and is pure torture. SO, in that episode the chick cracks open this honeydew sized ostrich egg and it pours out into a huge bowl, with no warning. I almost threw up. Pretty sure I jumped off the couch screaming, gagging, and covering my eyes while running out of the room. Nic was quick to point out that actual childbirth doesn't even phase me (my mom taught childbirth classes, so it's old news to me), but my reaction to raw eggs is enough to get me thrown into a straight jacket. I'm not normal.

Carrot Soup

I regularly read a blog (poke around her blog for a bunch of uber healthy recipes) that is about one woman's journey with and thoughts about food. She posts a lot of recipes and posted this one a couple days ago that included a carrot and a cauliflower soup. Somehow that lit a fire under me and I was determined to try it! The ingredients look totally simple and process totally doable! Today I gave the carrot soup a whirl (previously aired).

I'm dogsitting and this couple has a great kitchen full of cooking toys and expensive knives and such. I bought my two pounds of organic carrots and carton of soy ginger broth (sounded like it would go well with carrots, right?) at Trader Joes and came back to the house and got to work! My perception of measuring...things...well, sucks. It calls for 2 lbs of carrots and at least 4 cups of broth and, somehow, in my brain I thought that that would equate to maybe 2 servings of soup. I don't know! Don't things shrink when you blend them, or something?! So, anyways, after I was done cooking the carrots in the broth and sauteeing the onions and garlic, I grab the shiny cuisinart blender and start spooning stuff into it. I added tofu (good source of soy protein and pretty flavorless, so it's great to throw in with smoothies and such) and whole almonds (didn't have almond paste).

Now, the point at which I start altering and/or adding things is usually when the shit hits the fan and my good intentions totally fall apart. I fill the blender up to a couple inches of the top and give it a whirl. You in shows like I Love Lucy when the blender goes crazy and splatters it's contents all over? It happened. Several times. On the blender that's probably worth more than my life. Great. Ok, so it wasn't totally all over, but I made a mess. And since it made about 34x the amount that I thought it would, I had to do 2 whole blenders full! And since it kept burping up out of the top, I had to keep it on pulse and couldn't let it just blend and get nice and smooth.

End result: MIRACULOUS!! Seriously. It's so good. Because it didn't blend totally smooth, it has a nice pulpy texture and tiny little pieces of almond that add just a tiny bit of crunch. I ate a bowl full and was absolutely stuffed (which takes a lot). I haven't tried the cauliflower soup yet (roasting things scares me), but that's next on the list. Try it. Super easy (assuming you can tame your blender) and insanely good. And good for you. (update: I did try the cauliflower and it wasn't nearly as good. Cauliflower just isn't as flavorful as carrots. The original author added some spices and stuff to it, though, which would probably help a lot)

2 lbs carrots (or pretty much any veggie or combo of veggies)
4 cups of broth
1 yellow onion
garlic (to taste. I think I used like 4-ish cloves)

extras (if you want):
almonds (or any nuts)
tofu (tasteless and adds protein AND makes it a little creamier)

Sautee the onions and garlic in some oil or butter, add the broth and veggies and simmer until the veggies are soft. Stick it all in a blender (probably wanna wait til it's not boiling hot), or use an immersion blender. Blend it smooth or leave it a little chunky...

Coconut Rice

Author's note: I don't have the actual recipe on me at this exact moment, but I'll add it soon. The rest includes some of the story from some of the other recipes. Copy and paste from my blog. Deal with it.

Not only did I make a main dish and two sides at the same time last night, but it turned out awesome!! I started with making the coconut rice. As soon as I dump all the stuff together in the pan, I notice little dark things popping up in the water. "oh CRAP, there's bugs in the rice (one of joys of living in the mountains: bugs everywhere)!! What the hell am I supposed to do with the uncooked rice!". To which Nicole responds with a shrug and "meh. Extra protein, who cares. They're tiny". Oh...umm...well, ok. "I guess if they can eat live spiders and pigs rectum on Fear Factor a couple of cooked rice bugs won't kill us". I scooped out pretty much all the ones I could see and continued on. A little gross, but then again, so are we.

I cooked the salmon with "soy joy" sauce that I made (soy sauce, garlic, oil, red pepper flakes), and simultaneously made the broccolini/red bell pepper goodness. At the same time, people. This is seriously rare for me. I usually need to focus all of my attention on one thing at a time and end up with something mouth blistering hot and something ice cold by the time it makes it to the table. The end result: EFFING GREAT!! Woot!! Major success. I may just never cook again. Ever. Quit while I'm on top, you know? Coconut rice, Salmon with mango salsa (alright FINE, I bought pre-made mango salso instead of making it myself. The recipe called for jalapeno's in the salsa and that freaks me out. I'm too white for that crap, so I just bought some), and broccolini red pepper saute. Throw a glass of wine on the side of that and we were good to go! So feast your eyes on that, ya'll. And yeah, the lighting in our house sucks and the pics are with my little phone, so perhaps not the best quality. I'm pretty much over it. Here's the link to the cookbook. I highly suggest it.

Spaghetti Squash

Nicole and I get a bag of fresh veggies (Farmer's Market style) that we order every week and last week I ordered a spaghetti squash. My mom makes it sometimes and I have some vague memory of liking it. So last night I decided to bake it, since it was probably getting a smidge old. I bust out my nice big chef's knife to hack the thing in half. I cut the end off, which took way more effort than I had anticipated. Huh...that's weird. So I start to try to cut it in half and that stupid squash had the skin of a damn boulder. I could barely get the knife in there at all, let alone cut it.

So I stabbed the knife in through the end I had cut off and was literally slamming it down on the counter trying to get the knife in further. Naturally, there was a ceramic bowl sitting on the counter next to the sink and I was whacking that stupid squash so hard that the bowl bounced off the counter and shattered in the sink. Great. After breaking a sweat (no joke), it finally split in half. I opened it and immediately yelled some obscenity. It's not even an effing spaghetti squash!! I was pissed. It's supposed to have little spaghetti string things (hence the name), but it looked and smelled exactly like a pumpkin inside. I threw it on a baking sheet and decided to bake it anyways, because I sure as hell wasn't going to waste the mystery squash. An hour later it was done (I think. Like I would know). I stabbed it with a fork and, whaddya know! Spaghetti thingies! Oops...

If you survive cutting it in half, put both halves (cut side down) on a cookie sheet or baking dish or something. I put foil down first so that clean-up doesn't suck ass. Cook at 350 for about 30 ish mins (until the fleshy part is soft when you poke it with a fork). I like it served with salt and pepper, others like it with butter...whateva...

Pumpkin Smoothie

Fargo came over and we attempted to recreate the Pumpkin Smash smoothie that Jamba Juice used to have...SUCCESS. It was so freakin perfect! And totally easy:

1 cup soymilk
1/2 cup canned pumpkin pie mix with spices
2 cups vanilla frozen yogurt
1 cup ice

Friday, December 12, 2008

Charbroiled Carne Asada Tacos

Once again, my pal Isabel pulled through!


-¾ cup canola oil
-1 cup teriyaki sauce
-6 garlic cloves, minced
-2 lbs skirt steak
-12 6-in corn or flour tortillas
-1 cup grated monterey jack cheese
-1.5 cups salsa
-chile verde sauce


Combine the oil, teriyaki sauce, and garlic in a glass baking dish. Add the steak, turn to coat, and cover with plastic wrap. Marinate overnight, turning once or twice (I just marinated it for a few hours, but it was plenty).

Remove the steak from the refrigerator 15-30 mins before cooking

Preheat your grill to med-high, or heat a grill pan over med-high heat

Remove the steak from the marinade and discard the marinade. Grill the steak for 4-5 mins per side for med-rare. The steak should have grill marks and be pink in the center. Let the steak rest on a cutting board for about 5 mins. Keep the grill on.

Slice the meat thinly, across the grain, then cut into 1-in pieces.

Heat the tortillas on the grill for 1 min, turn, and sprinkle each with some grated cheese. When the cheese has melted, remove the tortillas from the grill and fill each with some steak (the recipe actually calls for you to make some avocado chile verde sauce stuff. nah. I just broke it up and added each separately. Bomb, dude).

Oh man, the meat was SO good!! That may or may not have partially been due to the fact that I went to buy the meat at like 6:30am on a saturday just as the butcher was putting it out. A little bat of the eyelashes and he went back and got me the freshest that he had. Pretty sure it was still pulsing. Awesome. The marinade is so flavorful that I was actually kind of shocked that I made it! And it was super easy. A keeper, for sure. Looked and tasted totally impressive and it was a cinch to make!

Baby Bok Choy with Garlic

I found this recipe here. Ignore the nutrition facts on the side. Definitely nowhere near correct.

Pretty easy side dish. The bok choy I’ve used is pretty tightly bound, so wash it really thoroughly because there is sometimes a lot of dirt stuck down in there.


-1/8 cup unsalted butter
-5 teas minced garlic
-12-14 baby bok choy (I think the one's we got were no so baby bok choy. They were like small heads of lettuce and I'm not sure how normal that is. I only used two and it was enough for three people. Maybe it was pre-pubescent)
-1.5 cups chicken broth


Melt butter in heavy large skillet over mod heat

Add minced garlic and saute about 2-3 mins until barely golden brown

Add bok choy and chicken broth and simmer until bok choy is tender, turning occasionally, about 8 mins

Season with salt and pepper

Simple as that! I’ve served it alone as a side, and I’ve cooked it like this and stuck in some quinoa (of course) with some other veggies.

Salmon with Papaya-Mango Salsa (serves 4)

From Isabel's Cantina

Salmon seems to be the easiest fish to make. That’s probably because it’s the only fish I’ve made. Whatever, it’s good and I know I like it.


-4 6oz skinless salmon filets
-3 Tbl canola oil
-½ cup soy joy sauce (recipe below)
-2 cups baby spinach or arugula (arugula is kinda spicy and, while I don’t mind it in mixed greens, the flavor is a bit overwhelming on it’s own. In my opinion)
-Papaya mango salsa (I used pre-made salsa)


Heat a large saute pan, preferably nonstick, over med-high heat until hot. Rub the salmon fillets on both sides with the oil. Place the salmon in the pan and cook, undisturbed, for at least 3 mins before turning. Continue to cook until the fish is slightly underdone in the center (use a fork to pull apart the flakes for a peek inside), about 3 mins, depending on the thickness of the fish. Drizzle the soy joy sauce over the fish, turn the salmon over, and swirl the pan to nicely coat the salmon with the sauce for a minute or two. The fish should be crisp and caramelized on the outside and moist and flaky on the inside.

Divide the spinach among 4 plates and transfer a piece of salmon on top of each plate of greens. Top each piece of salmon with some salsa.

Soy Joy Sauce

Ok, I thought that this was different than it is, and I totally didn’t have all the ingredients. It was still really good though. I pretty much threw all of the following (that I had) into a blender: What I managed to whip together was totally worth licking the plate! The cookbook says that it is a ‘million and one uses’ sauce, great as a marinade, stir fry sauce, etc.

-¼ cup soy sauce
-2 Tbl dark sesame oil (uh nope. I think I used canola oil)
-2 Tbl honey
-2 Tbl minced fresh ginger
-1 garlic clove
-½ cup fresh cilantro (didn’t have any and don’t really like it soooo….I left it out)
-½ teas chile flakes
-¼ cup cold water

Aspirations with Red Bell Pepper and Chile Flakes

From Isabel's Cantina

WTF are aspirations?? Pretty sure normal people call it baby broccoli or broccolini. I digress…


-4 Tbl olive oil
-2 bunches Aspirations (about 1 lb), trimmed
-1 red bell pepper, cut into ¼ inch strips
-2 teas red chile flakes
-½ teas salt


Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add the aspirations and toss to coat with the oil. After they begin to wilt, 2-3 mins, add the bell pepper and, stirring frequently, cook until it has softened and slightly caramelized, about 5 mins.

Add the chile flakes and salt and stir to combine. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Not much to add to this one! I went a little easy on the chile flakes because I’m a total pussy when it comes to spice. It was a super easy, colorful side.

Green Chile Posole with Pork

This is out of the best cook book EVAR, Isabel's Cantina. Her restaurant, Cantina, in San Diego is one of my all time favorites. I was super intimidated when I first got the cookbook because her food is amazing and insanely flavorful, two things that I'm not exactly a master of in the kitchen. Surprisingly the recipes aren't that hard and taste effing AWESOME.

Serves 6


-3 Tbl olive oil
-2.5 lbs boneless pork shoulder, fat trimmed, cut into 2 in chunks (I couldn’t find boneless, so I bought bone in. Kind of a pain in the ass, but not a huge deal) (update: apparently 'pork pieces for stew' work just fine too and they're already cut! If you don't mind eating random mystery pork parts which, apparently, I don't)
-kosher salt (whatever, I used regular salt)
-black pepper
-1 med yellow onion, diced
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-4 cups chicken broth
-roasted chile verde sauce (there’s a separate recipe for this, but I just used one bottle of the bottled sauce)
-1 24oz can of hominy, drained


Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Dry the cubes of pork with a paper towel and season them with salt and pepper. Working in 3 batches, sear the meat on all sides. Don’t move the meat around until it has browned well on each side-about 3 mins per side. Use tongs to transfer the meat to a platter while you sear the next batch.

When all of the meat has been browned, add the onion and garlic to the pot and stir with a wooden spoon until the onion has softened, about 2 mins. Add the chicken broth, a little at a time, stirring the browned bits off the bottom of the pan (right about now it starts to smell reeeeally good). Return the pork to the pot and bring to a gentle simmer. Lower the heat to maintain the simmer and cook for 1 hr, skimming occasionally (I didn’t really see anything to skim, so I skipped that).

Add the chile verde sauce and the hominy (I also added cubed potatoes because, well, I had them) and continue simmering until the pork is exceptionally tender (umm…ok?) and the soup is thick and richly flavored, about 1 more hr (gets super thick and cooks down quite a bit).

Faryn’s host mom during her semester in inner-city LA used to make this, and she served it on tostada shells with sour cream and avocado. Sounds heavenly! We just ate it plain and it was freakin AWESOME. Nicole proclaimed that she wanted to bathe in it and be buried in it when she dies. Score! It took a good chunk of time to make, but it was totally worth it. Next time I’m gonna make a bunch of it and stick it in the freezer to eat forever and ever.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Lemon Carrots and Rutabaga

We get a bag of fresh organic veggie's every week, farmer's market style. We get to chose what we want, and I usually try to branch out and try new things. Having NO clue what the hell a rutabaga was (I would've guess it was a car), I ordered it. Usually when I get new things, I hop on AllRecipes and do an ingredient search to find a way to cook them. I found this recipe and went for it:


-4 med carrots, cut into 3in julienne strips (eff off with you fancy schmancy talk, allrecipes! Basically, cut into chunky strips. I think.)
-2 cups rutabaga, peeled and cut into 3 inch julienne strips (I think I used 3 or 4 rutabagas, the size of med potatoes)
-1/2 cup water
-2 Tbl butter
-1 Tbl brown sugar
-1 Tbl lemon juice
-1/2 teas grated lemon peel
-1/4 teas dill weed (I was pretty sure that dill weed was an insult, not an herb, so I left it out. The herbs in our pantry consist of cinnamon, salt, pepper, and...uhhh...that's about it)

1. In a large saucepan, combine the carrots, rutabaga and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; cover and cook for 13-15 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the remaining ingredients; cook, uncovered, over medium heat for 2-3 minutes or until butter is melted.

Drain vegetables; add butter mixture. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until vegetables are glazed, stirring occasionally.

Pretty easy! Rutabaga tastes a little sweet, a little tangy, a little rad. I served it with quinoa made with chicken broth. Anytime I have veggies and don't know what to serve them with, with I pretty much always throw them on some quinoa. Super good for you! Plus it turns it from a side dish into a full meal.

Nicole found a couple 'thorns' in hers, tough sharp pieces. She might just be delusional, because I never got any, and I have no idea what part they're from, but just a heads up.

Black Bottom Cupcakes

One of my friends is obsessed with cupcakes and I decided that I needed some in my life. I hopped on my favorite recipe website, AllRecipes, and got to searching. These little delights popped up and I knew they were the ones. Whole Foods used to (or maybe still does) have a version of these and they were heavenly, so I figured I'd give them a try.


1 (8oz) package of cream cheese (I'll try light next time, since regular cream cheese was pretty stiff)
1 egg
1/3 cup white sugar
1/8 teas salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1.5 cups flour
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup of cocoa (I used 1/3, which several reviewers suggested)
1 teas baking soda
1/2 teas salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar (pretty sure I grabbed the first non-apple vinegar that I found in the pantry. worked well enough)
1 teas vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350, lightly butter muffin tins

2. Beat together cream cheese, egg, sugar, salt. Stir in chocolate chips, set aside (I mixed, rather than 'beat', which is probably why the cream cheese was all lumpy for mine. Looked kinda gross, but still tasted awesome when they were done)

3. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt (sift, to me, means run a fork through it a few times to break up the big lumps. I'm way too lazy to actually sift). Add the water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Beat until well combined (surprisingly fast and easy). Batter will be thin.

4. Fill muffin cups 1/3 full with the chocolate batter. Top each one with a spoonful of cream cheese mixture.

5. Bake for 20-25 mins (the actual recipe says 30-35, but several of the reviews said that that was too much. I always check the reviews for modifications and tips on that website)

6. Eat approximately 5 in a 3 minute span with a huge glass of milk, because these are the SHIT, people.

I may or may not have added #6 myself. Still stands true, though. Trust me.