Sunday, March 25, 2012

Chopped Mexican Salad

Here's a quick weeknight throw-together dinner involving canned things and lettuce. And steak. Which is always a bonus in my book.

It's not summer yet, which means that fresh tomatoes suck. Seriously. So I just won't even go there. I used the convenience of a can of Ro-Tel. Yes, I did. If it's summer and you have delicious fresh tomatoes and peppers, knock yourself out. I have months to go for that.

To put this together, start by chopping an onion. A great many of my meals start with chopping an onion. Works on Pootie every time. All I have to do is start sweating an onion in a pot and he walks in and says "Dinner smells good!" So get out a couple of small pots, chop an onion and put a little olive oil in each pot and put them over medium-low heat. Split the chopped onion between the two pots. Add a pinch of kosher salt to each. Dump a can of pinto beans into one pot. In the other, add a teaspoon of cumin. Then add the can of Ro-Tel and a cup of frozen corn. Stir both pots and then let them simmer over low heat while you get the salad and steak ready.

I used skirt steak - it's one of my favorite cuts. If you can't get it, use a ribeye or other fairly well-marbled cut. Heat the grill to high, then sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper. Grill on each side until it's done to your liking, then set it aside. For the dressing, mix 1 tsp. honey, the juice of one good-sized lime (about 2 Tbs.), a pinch of salt, 1/2 tsp. of cumin, and 3 - 4 Tbs. of olive oil. Tear about 4 cups of red leaf lettuce into bite-size pieces. If you have one, dice a small avocado and add it, and if you don't think cilantro is of the devil or tastes like soap (I like it fine), chop about 1/4 cup of it and mix those together. Toss with the dressing.

Then assemble that bad boy. Put the greens in a large bowl or on a plate, spoon beans on one side and the corn and Ro-Tel on the other side, and top with chopped steak.

It's not all that classy, but it makes a decent weeknight dinner out of stuff you probably already have in your kitchen.

If you want detailed instructions, here's the .pdf, but this is one you can probably throw together without much help.

Friday, March 23, 2012


Happy Friday! Thought I'd share one of my favorite spring drinks with you. We ripped it off from Indochine, down the street from us. It's the Cocopolitan.

One shot Coconut Rum
Splash of cranberry juice
Squeeze of a lime

Shake and serve. You can strain out the ice if you'd prefer.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Denver, Dwayne and Pork Cubano

This past week we made the long trek to Denver to visit my new nephew, Dwayne. For some reason, my brother and his wife are calling him Wyatt. I don't understand.

You probably think this blog is going to be all about the baby. And you would be mostly right.

My entire family, holding the baby. My brother, my mom, Natalie, and my dad. Who is about to pop a vest button.
But hey guess what? I also did some cooking while I was there. So there you go.

My sister-in-law Natalie said that a few of her friends really wanted to meet us. They'd been reading Letters to Dwayne and I think they thought I was a lot more fascinating than I am in real life. They know better now. Her Aunt Marsha and Uncle Jack also said they wanted to see us, which was great, because we loooove those guys! Mom and Dad weren't there, but they generously gave us use of their new condo, which is within convenient walking distance of Casa de Dwayne. So I told Nat I'd cook dinner for everyone at the condo. That way I would have something to do besides talk to people and have them discover that I am rather introverted and have poor social skills.

Natalie actually requested Pork Cubano. I've made it for her before, she's made it, and it's what she wanted, along with a salad with lime-cumin vinaigrette and some black beans. Easy enough. So I did some cooking.

Normally I make Pork Cubano in the oven in my clay cooker and just cook it at low heat all day long. But it is perfect for a slow cooker. It's a recipe I adapted from my good friend Ronda, who has started a blog of her own that you should check out.

Get a pork shoulder or butt roast and salt and pepper it well. Chop an onion and about six cloves of garlic, and cover the roast with that. Then mix together half a cup of orange juice, a quarter cup of lime juice, a quarter cup of dark rum, two teaspoons of chili powder, two teaspoons of oregano, a couple teaspoons of salt and some ground black pepper. Pour that over the pork. Throw in a bay leaf or two. You may need to add a little more liquid. I choose rum!

My brother took these pictures, by the way, which is why they're better than usual. And also why I'm in some of them. Don't worry. You won't have to look at me in the next blog. We'll be back in my kitchen.

Cook that over low heat (300) for 4 - 5 hours. About halfway through, turn the roast over so that it cooks in liquid evenly.

While I'm cooking, let's look at some more baby pictures! You're welcome!

Pootie even sang to him. He liked everything but the Merle Haggard. I don't blame him.

In the evening, Nat's friends Nikki and Clint and Dana arrived, along with Jack and Marsha. We had everything all set up. Wyatt Dwayne did not help with anything. I'll have to have a stern talk with him about being more useful next time.

Look at him, all yawning like he's tired from working so hard. Lies. All lies.
That blue pot, by the way, has been in my mother's kitchen as long as I can remember. My aunt Barbara gave it to her years ago. It was nice to see it in the condo. Mom brought several things from their house to put there, so it was kind of like visiting home. Lots of familiar things here and there.

Dinner was good, but needed salt. Shame on me.

Wyatt Dwayne got lots of attention.

And during the rest of our stay, I got plenty of hold time in myself.

I figure within a couple more weeks when the water gets warm, it will be time for his parents to send him here to the beach for the summer. There's more air here and his skin won't get dry like everyone's does up there. I'll teach him to kayak and get him some surfing lessons. He'll be badass. And he's already practicing for the girls at the beach.

If you'd like to slow cook some pork cubano in your own kitchen, here's the .pdf. I can't help you with the baby nephew, though. You're on your own with that one.