Monday, June 28, 2010

Sitting on the Dock of the Bay

Summer school is whipping my butt, so this is all have for you right now. Cooking lessons will resume eventually.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

BMX Racing

My son races BMX here in Missouri almost every week. This past week we decided to try out a new track in Oklahoma.

Here he is at the starting gate.

And they're off!

C'mon dude! Don't lose steam now! Pedal!

He came in third. He was having some problems with his pedals. He's still not completely used to the new "click-in pedals" that his dad bought him Puerto Rico, but he's getting there.

Racing sure does wear a guy out. I don't know what excuse the dog has.

And just to give fair screen time to my baby....isn't he precious!?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Pizza. Pizza.

Okay, here's an easy one. Pizza. I want to teach my son how to cook, so that when he moves out on his own he won't starve. I realize that pizza is something you can have delivered right to your front doorstep. However, I know what it's like to be a poor college student trying to survive from one financial aid disbursement to the next. Believe me. I know. Ordering pizza can be quite expensive, so it's good to know how to make your own pizza creation. It usually tastes better than delivery, and it sure as heck tastes better than frozen. So, let's make pizza.

I usually make my own pizza crust from scratch, but my oldest sister fixed a pizza for me not too long ago utilizing Jiffy pizza crust mix and it tasted great. It also only costs $.59. Can't beat that for a poor college kid. I mean come on. That's right up there with Ramen noodles.

For this pizza we are going half and half. My son wanted BBQ chicken pizza and I wanted just a simple basil and cheese pizza. For the BBQ chicken half of the pizza, you need to cut up boneless, skinless chicken breasts into 1 inch cubes and cook them in a skillet over medium heat until no longer pink and the juices run clear. Then set aside while you make the crust.

Put the Jiffy pizza crust mix in a bowl with water and knead the resulting dough. Let the dough rise in a covered bowl in a warm place for 5 minutes.

After the dough has risen, place it on a pizza pan or cookie sheet and spread it out across the pan using your fingers. You may want to lightly spray the pan with cooking spray, although that sometimes makes it difficult to spread out the dough. Prebake the crust in a 400 degree oven for about 3 to 4 minutes.

Next spread BBQ sauce (We used Billy Sims BBQ sauce, because there is nothing better) over one half of the pizza.

Then spread tomato pizza sauce over the other half. You can use homemade sauce or sauce from a jar like we did.

Spread shredded chicken over the BBQ side and torn basil leaves over the tomato side.

Top with shredded mozzarella cheese and bake in a 400 degree oven for about ten minutes.

Let it cool for at least five minutes before you slice it.

We also made blueberry cobbler, but my camera battery died without warning while we were in the middle of the process.

I was only able to get this picture of my son buttering the bottom of the pan.

And this picture of my son melting butter in the microwave.

You will just have to use your imagination now.....................and through the miracle of the Internet, we have.....

A delicious blueberry cobbler with vanilla ice cream on the side.

It is recommended that after eating pizza, cobbler and ice cream that you go on a bike ride.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Killing Two Birds with One Stone

This is what you call killing two birds with one stone. I took my son to the community pool where he spent a few hours surfing and swimming and I caught up on my studying. He was happy, I was....caught up.

Friday, June 04, 2010

A Taste of the Caribbean

My ex-husband and father of my son is Puerto Rican. He lives in a little town in the northwest part of the island called Quebradillas. When we were married, I learned to make all sorts of Puerto Rican dishes, but this one is probably my favorite. It's called Tostones (pronounced toes-tone-as) which literally translates to stones in English. Basically, it's just fried plantain. You can not eat plantain raw like you can a banana. You have to cook it to get rid of the naturally occurring acid the fruit produces. Otherwise, you will burn your little mouth.

This is a plantain. The bottom one that you see there. Yeah, that one. That's the plantain. The top one is a somewhat largish banana. Ideally, when making Tostones, you want your plantain to be green (unripe), because as they ripen they sweeten and Tostones are traditionally a savory, potato chipy, kind of snack/side dish. However, I went to three stores before I even found plantains here in Springfield, MO, so I wasn't going to be picky about the ripeness of my plantain.

You can't really peel a plantain like a banana, especially if it's a green one. You're going to have to use a knife to get the peel off. You just need to make a shallow cut through the skin down the entire length of the plantain, and then wiggle the fruit out of its wrapper.

Cut the plantain into 3/4 to 1 inch slices. You want them this thick, because in a minute we are going to smash them flat as a pancake and if you slice them too thin things just won't work out properly. Trust me on this.

Heat vegetable oil over medium heat and fry your plantain slices until golden.

This is a proper plantain smasher. That's what I call it, I'm not sure what the official name for it is, but plantain smasher works for me. I purchased this one in Puerto Rico. Surely, someone, somewhere in the United States sells these, but I'm not sure. If you don't have one, just use the bottom of a glass to smash your plantains.

Move your golden, fried plantain slices to a paper towel lined plate to drain.

Then you put a single slice into the plantain smasher

And SMASH! This is my son's favorite part.

Now you have a flat plantain. It's almost a Tostone, but not quite.

To turn it into a full fledged Tostone, you have to fry it again. Fry it for about three to four minutes until golden brown and slightly crispy on the outside, but still a bit soft on the inside.

Drain on a paper towel lined plate again and add whatever seasonings your creativity allows. We just went with your basic light salting. Since our plantain was yellow instead of green, our Tostones had a slight sweetness to them. If you go traditional and use a green plantain, your Tostones won't be sweet. They will have more of a potato type flavor. I almost didn't get a picture of the finished product, because the Tostones were being eaten almost as fast as they were being taken out of the hot oil. Notice the half-eaten one on the bottom left.

Seriously, Son, you need to at least wait until they've cooled off a bit. Oh, and um, cut your fingernails.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010


Hey, look! It's a meatless cooking lesson. My son is going to cook migas. Now, migas certainly can have meat added to them, but we went meatless for this meal.

First thing you should do is go ahead and chop all the veggies and herbs, so that they will be ready to go when you need them.

Chop yourself some onion

Then some green bell pepper

And a red bell pepper. I think my baby has this chopping thing down. Look at those knife skills.

Now you are going to need to finely dice an jalapeno. You might want to wear gloves when handling hot peppers, but we didn't have any rubber gloves in the house. Instead, my son was very careful not to touch his face and then he immediately washed his hands after handling the pepper.

Last but not least, chop up some cilantro. About 1/2 a cup should be fine. The recipe also called for chopped tomatoes, but neither my son nor I like tomatoes (unless they come in the form of salsa, ketchup, or marinara). Therefore, we left them out of our migas.

Now crack about ten eggs into a bowl. Make sure you don't get any shells in there. Nobody likes crunchy eggs. Add a bit of milk or half and half to help make the eggs fluffy.

Give the eggs a good whisk and then set aside for a minute or two.

Add a few tablespoons of canola oil to a skillet and fry about four corn tortillas until they're crispy.

Once you have your tortillas nice and crispy, chop them up into bite sized pieces.

Melt some butter in a skillet over medium heat.

Add the onions and bell peppers. Cook until nice a caramelized. Hey, the stirring skills are getting better too.

Now go ahead and add the tortillas and jalapenos to the skillet with the onions and bell peppers. Turn the heat down to low.

Let the pan cool down a little bit and then add your eggs to the skillet.

Once your eggs have set up, add about a cup of shredded cheese and the chopped cilantro.

Top with salsa, sour cream, avocado, etc... and dig in. Yummy!