Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Chicken Potato Burritos

When I was younger, "What's for dinner?" became synonymous with "What type of burrito are we having tonight?" My mom is master inventor when it comes to burritos and when I was 14, she out did even herself. The year? 1999- The summer of the burrito. Along with the standard rice or beans, we had peanut butter and jelly burritos, hot dog burritos, even thanksgiving dinner burritos. Recipes? Hah! My friends came to dinner just to see what my mom could fit inside a tortilla.

I've since abandoned the hot dog burrito and occasionally make the corned beef hash burrito but just one invention has found it's way into regular rotation at our home....it is the chicken and potato burrito.

It took me forever to work up the courage to make this burrito. It's just one of those untouchable meals from your childhood that you can't make better than your mom, you know? I've added a few ingredients since it's humble beginnings but I gotta say... it still tastes better out of mom's kitchen. In the spirit of her free filling nature, I've provided you a rough guide to burrito heaven.

Chicken Potato Burritos
(Makes 8 hefty burritos)
Ingredients ( add more or less of anything depending on how you like it)
1 large boneless skinless chicken breast, cubed
4 largish potatoes, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
Dark Chili Powder
Lawry's Season Salt
Minced Garlic
1. Brown chicken in a skillet over medium high heat. Add in garlic and seasonings to taste.
2. Add onions and bell pepper and potato. Season a bit more to taste.

3. Cover and reduce heat to low. Leave covered for 15 minutes. When you open it, potatoes will be soft and starting to brown. Let's observe a moment of sizzle.

4. Raise heat to medium-high and brown until you have all those delicious brown bits. Serve in warm tortillas with cheese, salsa, and... and...and... I like mayo on it, okay? Feel free to go with sour cream like Aubrey but I'm pretty sure the entire country of Belgium would support me.

I'd love to hear about meal inventions from your past... Seriously, I can't be the only one with a mom who made bologna and cheese burritos can I? Anyone? Anyone?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Six Flags Over Texas

Aubrey and I just returned from a weekend getaway to Dallas to visit our buddy, Ritter, and a handful of terrifying roller coasters at Six Flags Over Texas.

Before I continue, can I just say something? The TITAN is by far the scariest ride I've ever been on. I had to ride it three times just to be sure. Want an indication of how insane it is? I temporarily lost vision from the force of going down the drops and around the bends... every time.

I lost my sight, people! Plus, if you try to hold your hands up, they just come back and slap you in the face. So, it scares you blind and then insults you. That's a bad ass roller coaster.

If coastering is up your alley and you've always wanted to test your upchuck reflex, this is the place for you. Go for it! Aubrey and I knew we wanted to go to Six Flags for our anniversary but we were planning on driving to St. Louis. At the last minute, we switched to Dallas. Oh, and we included Ritter.

The point I'm making is, don't let proximity and the college roommate that won't go away keep you from doing something new and fun. And, if you buy tickets online, budgeting is less of an obstacle, too. Adults get kids prices when you buy in advance. Just 31 bucks a piece! Plus, we breezed by a bunch of dopes in line who paid full price and we got straight in the park.

One of the things I'd like to do with this blog is inspire people to get up and go do things they've always wanted to do but think they can't. Experience adventure around the world, even if that world is a land at an amusement park. The lines weren't horrific, the giant fans took the edge off the heat, and it was generally a good "six flags day."

You've got nothing to lose ( except your vision.)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Summer Vegetable Farfalle

I can't claim to go way back with this hippie of a meal. We're relatively new friends. To me, a meal wasn't a meal unless it included a nice helping of meat or, as some midwesterners like to call it, food. Fortunately, I decided to try this dish with absolutely NO MEAT last summer. Much to my surprise, I dug it. Really. Plus, there's something completely peaceful about preparing a meal of fresh veggies and herbs from your own garden. Mine are growing like freaks right now...

So, in addition to being super tasty, this dish helps make good use of the basil attempting to consume my pots and my fantasies. What could go wrong with basil on basil? It's not like I'm baking it. And, yes, I realize there's no basil in the pic... it was being shy today.

Summer Vegetable Farfalle
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman's "Farfalle with Zucchini Recipe"
Liberally serves 2 plus leftovers!

2 small to medium sized zucchini, diced
1 small pkg. grape tomatoes, halved
1 medium white onion, diced
3 cups Farfalle pasta
1/2 cup white cooking wine ( I used Chardonnay I had open)
1/3 cup half and half
A generous amount of chopped herbs including basil ( I used about 12 large sweet basil leaves, a large sprig of oregano, and about 15 leaves of another basil variety that I don't know the name of...)
3 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup freshly grated parmesean cheese
Kosher salt and Fresh Ground Pepper

1. Get your pot of water on and cook the Farfalle according to directions until al dente.
2. Add 2 tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil to a pan ( one that you can scrape to deglaze) and heat medium- high. Add zucchini and brown. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Remove zucchini to a plate. Set aside. Add remaining oil and onions, scraping the browned bits from the zucchini. Saute over medium to medium-high until softened and nearly carmelized.
4. Lower heat to medium low and add halved grape tomatoes.
5. Add wine. Simmer until reduced by 1/3.
6. Add half and half. Bring to a simmer and reduced until thickened. If it gets too thick, add some of the starchy water from the pasta!
7. Season to taste with salt and pepper. It needs a bit of the stuff so don't be afraid.
8. Add drained pasta and herbs and cheese. Mix.
9. Serve immediately garnished with more herbs and more cheese, of course.

There you have it. All the chop chop, none of the butcher block. Enjoy.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Strawberry-Citrus Salad

After the vacation of meat, I was ready to return to something light. If you, too, have gone overboard on steak intake, then this dish is for you. It's for you even if you didn't consume about 5 cows last week. I saw it first in my Bon Appetit last month but didn't realize how simple it was to make until I saw it in The Bitten Word. If you want to be a purist, follow the recipe. But, it's as simple as combining the four ingredients to suit your tastes which is what I did... strawberries I had on hand, an orange, a heaping spoon of brown sugar, and about 5 mint leaves chiffonade ( that means stacked, rolled up together, and sliced thinly.) It's super refreshing and yet has depth from the brown sugar. Give it a try for any summer picnics you have coming up ( um, July 4th anyone?)

Strawberry-Citrus Salad

Bon Appetit May 2009 Serves 4


3 cups sliced hulled strawberries (about one 22-ounce basket)
3 large navel oranges, peeled, thickly sliced crosswise, cut into 3/4-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh mint leaves

1.Toss all ingredients in large bowl. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Colorado Days 4 & 5: Rounding Out the Vacation of Meat

Since we were living it up Cabin-style, we didn't really go out to eat much. Good for the eats... not so good for having some new and awesome restaurants to review.

I never thought I'd say this but after the gift of meat AND meat and potatoes nearly every night on our trip... I think I need a break from steak. Seriously... no amount of A-1 could bring me back for at least the next week and a half. Oh, but it was so juicy....

And, meaty.

On the last couple of days of the trip, my mother-in-law and I went shopping and we made a couple trips to the Castle Rock Outlets. They have amazing deals. I got about a thousand dollars worth of clothes for a quarter of that. Bet you'll never guess what I did after shopping... yes, more meat!

This is actually Aubrey's Mediterranean Philly from the Rockyard Brewing Co. I had the french dip but you get the idea. Rockyard was good but it wasn't "oh. my. god." good. We kinda have a thing for checking out micro-breweries or drinking local brews. I should get Aubrey to make a list of his faves....hmmm....

We also went shopping in Manitou Springs. It reminded me very much of Eureka Springs in Arkansas... quaint, touristy, and with lots of local crafts and hippie-fare. I bought a dress made of handloomed cotton from Nepal. It makes me feel responsible and earthy, okay? It doesn't make me go vegetarian, though. That's just crazy talk. Afterward...yep, more steak!

Non-steak recipes to come...

Colorado Day 3: Pikes Peak

On day three of of our trip to Colorado, we FINALLY ventured up the mountain we'd been seeing in the distance from our cabin balcony. We made it up to the top of Pikes Peak. Did you know it's the view of the Great Plains from the journey up that inspired the poem (and soon after, the song) America, The Beautiful? Did you also know it has about six more versus I've never heard? It does. In the late 1800s, the price to pay for the vast view (where you can see the curvature of the earth!) was a hefty journey on mule or by carriage. Today, you can see the splendor for about 30 bucks and three and a half hours of your time.
The Pikes Peak Cog Railway was a MUCH better option for us than driving up the treacherous and flippin scary road to the top. Especially because, as I would learn over the last few days, two year olds don't exactly like being in their car seat without screaming. Trains, on the other hand, are A-ok. Yeah, we were all wearing matching T-Shirts. What? I have no problem looking like an American...in America. At least we weren't in "I Like It On Top" caps.

It was pretty nice on top...with the exception of the freezing cold wind! FREEZING COLD! Notice the mix of snow and non-snow views? The temperature dropped over 40 degrees from the bottom to the top.

Aubrey was a bit chilly. I took it with a little more cool, if I do say so myself. Word to your mother.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Colorado Day 2: Garden of the Gods

So, it's really day 4 of our vacation but, hey, I was busy vacationing to give real time updates!

Day 2 started out really great...with food.
Yeah, they were slightly burnt. But, oh, were they ever delicious.

After breakfast we ventured out to Colorado Springs to visit the Garden of the Gods, a free public park that's definitely worth at least five dollars admission. But, free is better, of course. Here, you can get hands on experience with unique and beatiful rock formations whether you're scrambling, climbing, or just generally craning your neck to see them. They're watching this crazy guy... I don't understand rock climbing.
Oh, wait. If rock climbing has anything to do with driving moms crazy then I totally get it. Look Mom! I told you I'd be doing really safe things like playing with cotton and such.

That's Pike's Peak back there. We got an even closer view the next day...
My nephew's getting an early start at being adventurous and pushing parental nerves. I'm just now getting the hang of it.

Risky rock scrambling comes with it's rewards. Check out this view!
Uh, oh. Signature Aubrey and Amanda travel pose.
I've got to go watch a John Denver tribute and eat steak kabobs now. Oh, it looks like my nephew found another way to be daring...by crashing face first into the ground off of a step stool. Gotta run. More to come!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Colorado Day 1: Where the Heck are the Mountains??

Upon first landing in Colorado I was pretty convinced John Denver might have been high on something other than a mountain top .... dude, you lied to me! Where are all these mountains? Where are the shadows from the starlight? Come out come out wherever you are....

Oh, okay. It's not the Rockies, but it'll do just fine!!! John, you're back to being the coolest guy ever.

So, we just arrived at our amazing cabin in Larkspur, Colorado, home of the famed Renaissance Festival that starts the week after we leave....of course. No sweat. There's plenty more to do and we're hitting the ground running. We're not driving very fast, though.

Monday, June 1, 2009

We've Been Gifted

Kevin and Sindy officially own Martha Stewart. Yes, when they came over last weekend, they made us the most proud hosts in history...they gifted us with a cooler full of freshly butchered beef!

Sorry to any vegetarians out there. But, just look at all that beefyness...

Mmmm... and the steak looks good, too. Bonus! There's a whole freezer more of the stuff in many cuts. Aubrey grilled it up in his signature fashion: Worsheshhershire sauce, extra virgin olive oil, and salt and pepper. Simple yet amazing on a quality cut. Yum.

I'm not sure I cut it right myself off of the massive slab this came from...I have no experience as a butcher. Aubrey wants to be a butcher...

An evil butcher, that is. Aubrey goes a little psycho around meat. Especially raw meat. Aubrey goes a little nuts for steak on the "rare" side of life. I prefer mine medium rare.

So, wow! Free beef and free furniture? We rule.

Kevin and Sindy--Thanks, dudes! I'm gonna have to get even more creative in my gift giving skills now...