Sunday, November 9, 2014

Tex-Mex Rice

I've heard it called "Spanish" rice, "Mexican" rice, and several other names. Since I'm using Ro-Tel tomatoes, I'm calling it Tex-Mex! This version differs from most in that it is baked (like pilaf) instead of simmered on the stove. This makes it very easy; as no stirring is needed after you put it in the oven, you can concentrate on whatever your main dish is.


  • 2 cups medium grain rice (I used California Calrose rice)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium or large onion, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (as always, homemade is best)
  • 2 cans, 14 oz. (or 1 can, 28 ounces) Ro-Tel Tomatoes with Green Chiles (use the mild version if you're spice-averse), pureed in the blender
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth (use the reduced-sodium version if you have a choice)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions and salt. Cook, stirring frequently until the onions have softened slightly. Add the rice and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the rice just starts get brown. Add the chili powder and continue to cook for another 30 seconds. Add the tomato puree and broth, stirring well, and bring to a boil. Cover and place in the oven. Once the rice is tender (about 25 minutes), remove from oven. Stir well with to ensure the sauce is evenly distributed and let sit uncovered for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Wacky Cakes

Until Boy #2, we used box cakes. Yellow cake with chocolate frosting is my favorite. I miss the taste and the idea that it's more convenient. For a while, we did angel food cake mix since it was dairy and soy free. It's hit or miss if we can find a mix without corn product.

We finally decided it to bite the bullet and figure out how to make cake from scratch. We've tried a few recipes, but the only one I wanted to keep around was the chocolate wacky cake recipe I found at The boys like it as cupcakes topped with raspberry or orange jello frosting. Mmm...

We tried the vanilla once, but it was bitter. Then tried the vanilla again, but as a platform to rework the guava/mango orange cake recipe for the boys. The flavor was fine, but the cake was gummy in the middle and hard on the outside. Next time, we'll try the lemon cake recipe instead, since it is similar to the mango orange flavor we were going for.

There is always left over frosting, which I use to make meringue drops. It's like eating cotton candy.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Garbanzo Curry on Couscous

Let me make one thing perfectly clear - I have never been to India. Therefore, my knowledge of Indian-spiced foods (known as "curry" in most of the English-speaking world) is second- or third-hand. I love to eat at Indian restaurants, and I love to cook from my Indian cookbook. This is an all-time favorite recipe in our home - simple, tasty, and exotic. -Jake.

Update 6/12/14: Last night I was making this dish and I tried a little variation: instead of broth (in the curry) I used tomato juice, and I added about a tablespoon of minced fresh ginger with the garlic. Both changes made for a great improvement!

  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 4 cups cut fresh vegetables - bell peppers, zucchini, carrots, celery, broccoli, red onion . . .
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups vegetable broth, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder (and like last time, I still like McCormick brand, although you could make your own)
  • 1 can (15 ounces) garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas), drained and rinsed.
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt (to taste)
  • 3/4 cup couscous
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup sliced or slivered almonds, toasted
Over medium-low heat, heat oil in large saucepan. Add vegetables and sweat for 5-10 minutes, or until the veggies are slightly softened. Add garlic, cook 1 minute (until fragrant). Stir in 1 cup broth, curry powder and red pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover the simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in garbanzo beans, raisins, and salt. Cover and simmer for 2-3 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Over medium high heat, bring 1 cup of broth to a boil in a sauce pan. Stir in couscous. Remove from hear and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in cilantro and almonds with fork to fluff the couscous. To serve, spoon couscous into bowls then top with garbanzo curry.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Jalapeño BBQ Sauce

Another BBQ sauce recipe? Yes, I've posted sauce recipes before, but I'm always trying new variations. Adding jalapeños changes it enough for the better that I had to share! -Jake

1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
1 tomato sauce can cider vinegar (yes, measure the vinegar in the tomato sauce can)
1 small can diced jalapeños
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Put tomatoes, sauce, vinegar, jalapeños, and garlic in a blender and purée together*. Place in a large saucepan on medium-high heat. Whisk in remaining ingredients. Once it starts bubbling, reduce heat to medium low and simmer, stirring frequently for 10-15 minutes, until the sauce is thickened.

* You can use an immersion blender and purée the ingredients directly in the saucepan if you would like.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Tropical Tuna Salad

Salad Ingredients
  • 1 can pineapple tidbits (8 ounces), drained, juice reserved
  • 2 cups cooked macaroni such as elbows or shells
  • 1 can water chestnuts (8 ounces), drained and slices
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions (white and green parts)
  • 1 can albacore tuna, drained
  • 4 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
Dressing Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup pineapple juice from canned pineapple above
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar (to taste)
Whisk all dressing ingredients together except oil and sugar. Slowly drizzle in the oil while constantly whisking continuously until fully blended. Add sugar if you like your dressing sweeter.

Toss together all salad ingredients except lettuce and tomatoes with the dressing. Let chill in fridge until ready to serve (up to several hours). To serve, spoon salad over chopped lettuce and top with tomatoes.

Alternative Serving: instead of using canned pineapple, buy a whole fresh pineapple. Cut in half and hollow out the halves to about 3/4 inch from the rind. Chop the pineapple from one of the hollowed-out halves and mix into the salad. The remaining half can be juiced for the dressing (either use a juicer, or puree the pineapple in a blender and strain out the juice). Serve the salad out of the scooped-out halves for a dramatic presentation.