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I Wonder Wednesday…

“Blades holds me under the faucet. The touch of his hands and the flowing water make my tail convulse deliciously. The tension grows unbearable. I feel precarious, as if I were about to fall for him again. A cluck of longing emerges from deep inside me. 

“Suddenly we can’t help ourselves, and his long-fingered hands are all over me. ‘I want to cook you,’ he whispers. ‘Whole.’ Oh my. I’m heating from the inside out.”

Did I get your attention? No, I’m not thinking about penning raunchy, steamy novels. This is actually an excerpt from the cookbook 50 Shades of Chicken, which is a spin-off of the _50 Shades of Grey_ series that were ever so popular a few years ago. Being that we’re all friends here, in full disclosure, I must admit that yes, I did succumb and read all three books. In about 3 days. My poor husband even ran to the bookstore to get the 2nd and 3rd books. And I just have to say that my mother in law’s MOTHER and her best friend pretty much told me I HAD to read it. Gotta listen to your elders, right??!!??

While it was cheesy with no plot and at times made me blush, it did hold my attention and it was entertaining. In some weird ‘I-can’t-believe-I’m – a-16th/17th century- lit major-who- just-read-a-trendy-awfully-written-series. ‘. Hey, we all need an escape. And a shower. 

Anyway, so after the popularity of the series emerged, there were all sorts of 50 Shades spin-offs. Leave it to my husband to find the one about chicken. Gotta love that man. 

So the recipe that the above excerpt is from is called ‘plain vanilla chicken’. Get it?? But DAMN! If this isn’t one of the best roast chickens ever! You “Fill your hand with butter and gently slide your fingers beneath the skin of the breast, slathering the butter on the flesh as you go. Work your ways to the thighs.”. The butter is a combination of brandy, vanilla extract, and sugar and it just melts into the flesh, resulting in a slightly vanilla perfumed breast that is oh so tender. I know, sugar. Vanilla. Brandy. But trust me. 

And the SAUCE that results from the butter and chicken is absolutely divine that you really need some bread to sop it all up. 

So I wonder…when did food get ‘sexy’? Or has it? People on blogs/in person/etc. go on about how pleasurable their food is. Pictures are taken of dishes (Yep, totally guilty) and there’s the common phrase of ‘food porn’ that floats around social media. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I’m totally on board looking at beautiful dishes that are put together like artwork. I’m in awe of the intricate working of recipes. But how did it all happen? When did food, which in the simplest form is supposed to nourish our bodies, become something much more? And is that even really a bad thing? 

I’m thinking not. 

So I’ll continue to be in awe of all the foodie pics on Instagram and even strive myself to show off my own food porn. 

And I just gotta say that as corny as this cookbook is, there’s a lot of really good, flavorful recipes in it. Good food with a bit of entertainment. I wonder what could be so wrong with that. 

Bon appetit!

Ps- and of course I didn’t take pics of my food ( I like other people’s food to photograph) here’s the stock photo and one of lil Gabi who turned 14 months old today! What?!?

 

pic from the book. but yours will so look like this!


   

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One prep, two recipes + JULIA!

Happy last day of August! (or at least it was when I STARTED writing this post. Ooops) This was a fun month filled with lots of day adventures and checking out some new and awesome places around the island. I’ll be doing a quick wrap-up of our month in the next day or so to share our journey through the island! So stay tuned!

In the meantime, tropical storms Danny and Erika completely bypassed our fair island. I was hoping (not really HOPING) but looking forward to being rained in on Friday so I figured it would be a good time for a Julia recipe.  I deviated from chicken, although I wanted to finish off that chapter first, and instead checked out the beef section because my supermercado had a great selection of eye of round. 

I made Boeuf √Ä La Mode (beef braised in red wine). Doesn’t it just sound so much better in French! This recipe called for a 24 hour marinade of the beef in a red wine, vegetable, and herb marinade. 24 whole hours. Talk about flavor! Unfortunately I was unable to locate (as prescribed by Julia) a cracked veal knuckle or a split calfs foot. I had to settle for a modified pork rind. What can you do, right?

After the 24 hrs, all that’s left is searing the beef and then adding in the marinade and braising it slowly for 3 hours. And can I just say- the house smelled AMAZING! To accompany the beef, julia suggests ‘quartered carrots braised in butter.’  BUTTER. it surely doesn’t get any better. Unfortunately I didn’t take any pics and it was gobbled up rather quickly by the husband and my father so I guess it was a hit! Back to chicken next week– maybe the classic coq au vain. Mmmmm… 

(Note- the recipe in the link was found online from finecooking.com. I have yet to find a lot of Julia’s recipes online and typing out 4 pages of a recipe just ain’t happening so I try to find blogs or sites that have it. I’m very thankful to these folks for doing the hard work of getting her recipes out there!)

I also filled up Gabi’s freezer stash today during one of her naps. It’s so nice having small bites around for when we head out on trips or need something quick to whip up. 

Gabi has been loving meatballs lately so I figured I’d whip up a batch. I had a huge packet of ground beef so I had the idea of knocking out two different recipes using similar ingredients to save time and get the most out of her nap time. 

Nothing like fresh herbs from my garden!

I used this recipe for the meatballs. I liked the idea of using quick cooking oats instead of bread crumbs. In fact, there’s an Ellie Krieger recipe I use for meatloaf that has the oats in it. Also  hiding the spinach (which Gabi is not quite a fan of) in the meatball is a great way to get those greens in her. 

 

Meatball prep


  

For some reason I was craving pasta so I thought I’d do some ravioli for la nena. While I wish I could say I rolled out my own dough for this, sadly I did not. But one day I will take on making my own pasta! Is anything better than fresh pasta? I think not!

Instead I cheated and used egg roll wrappers. The filling was somewhat similar to the meatballs but I omitted the oats and added ricotta for some ooey gooey cheesy goodness. I found that you can fit 4 raviolis on a sheet and after some trimming, they come out to a good size. 

not the best pic but you get the idea.

I did ravioli once before using wonton wrappers and it turned into a big gooey mess. Not quite sure what I did

but the wrappers just didn’t hold together.  I haven’t tried these out yet but I’m hoping for a better outcome. Fingers crossed. I’ll keep you posted. 

And to round out the evening I made a proscuito and fontina pizza with oven roasted tomatoes for dinner. I’m trying to perfect my pizza crust (it’s either too thin and crispy or too thick and gummy) so I’ve been going through lots of recipes. I used a recipe from Tuscan Gun (did I mention I’m obsessed with that show in the Cooking Channel?!?!) and I think it’s been the best tasting crust so far. It still didn’t have the texture I wanted and that’s what I’m still trying to figure out. But the guys liked it so again, I’ll take that as a win! Do you have a favorite pizza crust recipe? Any advice on how to achieve that perfect crust (I’m trying real hard to convince my father to build a pizza oven in the back yard. That’s practical, right? ūüėČ)

 

its’s amazing how much dough tises and how light snd airy it is.

 
 

gotta have a Gabi pic! First time trying raspberries and she gobbled them all up!

 

Tropical Storm Erika….

For those following along (thank you!!) TS Erika came and went with pretty much nothing to show for it. Which is both great and not so great. 

 

pre storm pic from our local beach.


Great in that there wasn’t any damage to our home or surrounding areas but bad in that we didn’t get nearly enough rain to help with the ongoing drought and water rationing that’s happening in San Juan and surrounding areas. In fact, it’s early afternoon and we still haven’t gotten rain. 

With all the hoopla surrounding Erika it was a a bit of a letdown that nothing happened. They were so sure that something was going to hit that the government enacted ‘ la ley seca’ or dry law. This is a law that is enacted during bad storms that stop the sale of alcohol for a duration of time. In this case: noon yesterday to noon today. I guess hurricane parties were getting way out of hand the last few years so this is the way PR is trying to shut it down. Funny though seeing folks stocking up days before the storm. Guess it’s not really helping. 

So this is what we looking at yesterday about 20 minutes after the sunshine pic was taken. 

   

So it’s Friday, about 4pm and we’ve only had one shower. Seriously a bummer. I was hoping for rain all day, which meant Gabi would (hopefully) sleep all day and I could get lots of cooking done. Yea! 

Well, it didn’t happen. I did, however, get a Julia dish in the oven (boeuf a la mode — beef braised in red wine). And I also attempted these Cheese bombs but I think I overstuffed them. Regardless, they were Oh. So. Yummy! 

 

exploding bombs


And I also whipped up some chicken and Mac & cheese Muffins from my _toddler on the go_ cookbook. 
  
So all is right with the world and we’re dry. More info on Julia’s recipe this weekend! 

 

a little distorted but thats the horizon we had last night


 

¬°Feliz Cumpleanos, Julia!

I am happy, happy, HAPPY to report that Julia Child has come back into the cooking repertoire! And what perfect timing with it being her birthday!!

 

Classic Julia

 
Wednesday night’s (because what better day to cook a Julia recipe than hump day, right?) Julia recipe was Fricassee de Poulet A L’ancienne (Old-fashioned chicken fricassee with wine-flavored cream sauce, onions, and mushrooms). Yep, a mouthful and man– was it a DELICIOUS mouthful!

**Disclaimer–I hope you don’t mind, but I’m not really good at taking pics WHILE I’m making my dishes. I’m pretty good at maybe doing a “right before it goes into the oven” shot but I just really don’t think I can take photos of the “in-progress” moments and actually make them look appetizing. If you’d like play-by-play pics let me know and I will work on my photography skills. Hmmmmm‚Ķthat may finally give me incentive to do those online classes I purchased last year!!

So back to Julia. This is just my 4th entree that I have been tracking since maybe moving to Puerto Rico. I know, so not a good track record. This is what I have done so far, and I will be (trying) to find the recipes online to post in another tab in case you get the urge to try out some butter. And cream. Oh, and good chicken.

* Poulet Poele A L’Estragon (Casserole-roasted chicken with tarragon)
* Poulet au Porto (Roast chicken steeped in port wine, cream, and mushrooms)
* Poulet Saute aux Herbes de Provence (Chicken sautéed with herbs and garlic, egg yolk, and butter sauce)

See what I mean about butter. And cream? And more butter!!

This has to be one of my absolute favorites. Just so you know, I have cooked through about 15 or so recipes already while we were living in the upper 50’s, I just never wrote about them other than posting a pic on Facebook. And let me tell you: going back and re-doing some of these is going to make this chica (and my husband, father, and baby girl) a very happy person!

 

I have a thing for flagging cooked recipes So many recipes!

 
So this is the thing about Julia that may scare off people if you happen to thumb through her 650+ page cookbook: she’s wordy! One recipe can be upwards of about 4-5 pages. And then she also includes variations to main recipes. AND THEN she’ll also throw in some sides that will go well with the dish and that can be at least a page long. I found this blog post that pretty much sums up what I’m talking about. The line that really drives Julia home is, “…Julia’s recipes were written for a rigorous cook with endless patience for serious detail.” Yet, I LOVE it! It’s sort of like she’s talking you through the recipes, step-by-step, as if she’s in the kitchen with you. There’s no guesswork or holes; what she says (or rather writes) is literally what you do. Her use of language and words to describe food makes me smile. Yep, I’m a dork.

After about 3 hrs (on and off – Gabriela was not in the mood to fully cooperate) of slowly braising the chicken, steeping mushrooms, and straining all the yummy bits, we were left with the must luscious and velvety wine-cream sauce that was just rich enough to make you want to keep sopping it up with the pasta and chicken but not too rich to make it feel heavy. There was a perfect balance. This is the genius of Madame Child.

 

Yep. YUM!

 
I am really, really hoping that this will indeed kick-start my love affair of all things French (food, at least) that I will be dedicating one day a week to Mastering the Art of French Cooking!

Bon appetit!

 

Passed the Gabriela tatste test!

 
 

 

Thursday Beach Series

i just realized that I never posted last week’s beach Thursday. I can totally blame that on mom brain, right?

So let me digress a bit: last week we tried out pork pinchos (kebobs) using this Asian style marinade. I was worried after making the marinade because I’m really not a measure-er (is that a word?) and I thought maybe it would be too salty or too sweet. I normally tend to worry about under/over seasoning. 

Turns out I worried for nothing. They ROCKED! We gobbled them up so fast that I didn’t even take a pic of them! Total fail. I was able to catch this little one snoozing away while We enjoyed an aguacate that our vicino (neighbor) brought over for us. Can anything beat a just picked avocado!!??

  
Alrighty, now we’re up to date! Today the beach is quiet (school started — YES) so I think the beaches will be quiet again during the week. And it’s the most beautiful blend of blue, turquoise, and green hues I’ve seen in awhile. Here’s a pic but it really doesn’t do it any justice. 

  
We have also added to our list of gear as well. Like we really need more, right? I was commenting to my father the other week that it would be helpful to have another table to put the cooking essentials on, rather than just have them haphazard  on a beach chair. We have a Table in a bag, kind of like this (but I don’t think we paid this much for it) that has worked out great. But the grill takes up most of the space and left us with our plates on our laps. Not very convenient. 

And then we came across this little gem, which seems perfect (pic below). So we’re trying it out today, along with a variation/combination  of a few recipes I found online that basically consists of about 3tbs soy sauce, 2tbs brown sugar, 1tbs lime juice, pinch of red pepper flake, and a glub of olive oil. Marinate overnight, then skewer in the morning and cook till cooked through. They were so moist that it was even overlooked I forgot to do a dipping sauce. 

La nena is knocked out asleep right now after her bath and a quick feeding. The new contraption worked out great. Us adults are partaking of a cocktail and I think the husband is bringing dinner home. Score! There may even be a rain shower off in the horizon. I’d say it was a pretty damn good day! 

Now prepare for a photo blast. Sorry!

 

my little chiquita and me. it was a good day!

  

my favorite things.

  

our spot!

  

our new addition. still figuring out where to put things.

 

I Wonder Wednesday!

I have been very lucky in my life to have lived in different places that offered different types of food, fruits, and veggies. I especially have my parents to thank for introducing me to a lot of different tastes at an early age (crab legs before the age of 5? Yes please!)

So I really do think that helped shape my desire to be a foodie and try out different things and recipes, which I hope to pass on to Gabriela. 

 

scrambled eggs with fresh dill from our garden


And in moving to Puerto Rico our arsenal of fruits and veggies available to us (via little small side of the street vendors) is pretty awesome! 

Case in point: La quenepa.  We had this when we just moved here (almost a year ago! WOW!) But we hadn’t had it since. Right now is the peak time for these little guys so there’s someone selling them everywhere. We picked up this bunch for $2! We also got some free advice from the seller that you can use these to make infused rum. I’m totally into this and apparently is a specialty over in Vieques called Bil√≠. 
It’s some work to get the minute fruit that’s in each pod but it’s still oh so good. 

 

bunch of fresh quenepas!


So I wonder…how do these fruits get discovered? In fact, how did any of our fruits, veggies, beef, pork, chicken, seafood…what-have-you, get introduced to society? Who was that person who looked at these pods and said, ‘yea, I think we can eat these!’? And even makes me wonder MORE  are those foods that have to be cooked to certain temperatures in order for them to be no longer fatal. How did that all work? Who would volunteer for THAT job?! 
Food is wonderful and amazing and should be sought after for its unique and differing tastes and textures. I’ve been lucky enough to have worked in many places that helped expand and shape my palate that I just crave good, quality food. I try to pass this on to my family by cooking at home daily and also exploring new and innovative restaurants/shops that also take pride in their product. While I live with two ‘meat and potato’ kinda guys, ever so often a little foodie comes out in them. And I’m hoping the same will be true with Gabriela. 

So, as Andrew Zimmern says, ‘if it looks good…EAT IT!’

 

cheese plate from Lenel’s in Arecibo; from the weekend

 
 

sorry…couldn’t help but include a little pool action

 

I Wonder Wednesday…

I love food. Like, really, really love food. Give me shrimp, crab legs, yummy spicy chicken wings or a big fat rare steak and I will gladly take my time devouring and delighting in ever single bite. 

And I feel the same way when I’m craving a burger. And this rarely happens often and I also don’t do burgers in the house. It just seems like a lot of work (like making tacos). So when I want a burger, I. Want. A. BURGER!

There’s a yummy place we’ve found called Ola Lola’s with a fun lil atmosphere. Their burgers are a great size and very very flavorful. It’s a nice way to spend an early evening. 

Which brings me to the ‘great size’ bit…I wonder when a HUGE burger became the norm or even something sought after. I wonder when having to cut the burger with a fork and knife became something to shoot for. I mean, to each their own but that doesn’t  denote a superb burger to me. It’s just show. 

Grant it we did have a fabulous burger at Blue Fin a few months back but it seems as if their burgers have gotten bigger. Much. Much bigger. And $$. 

So I wonder what you think: an appropriate sized, fully flavored, perfectly cooked  burger or a beast of beef? Here are a few I came across the other day. Bon appetit!

   
 

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