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Friday, August 31, 2012

Huevos Rancheros

So it's been a little over a week now that I've had to get reaccustomed with the wee hours of the morning. By 5 a.m. I'm trodding heavy-lidded into the kitchen towards the smell of my morning fuel.  I don't know what I would do without a coffee pot with a timer.  Seriously.

Not a day has gone by that I haven't made a plan to take a nap once all the kids are out the door.  And not a day has gone by that I have actually followed through with that plan.  I mean, 2½ hours later?  I'm awake by then.  The coffee is pumping through my veins...three children have been fed and groomed...the morning air feels cool and welcoming.  And best of all, it's now time for mama to eat some breakfast.
I've always been a breakfast lover.  It doesn't necessarily have to be a lavish breakfast.  It could be a container of yogurt.  It could be a bowl of cereal.  It could be a piece of fruit.  Occasionally it's even a slice of cold pizza.  Once in a while it's an all-out affair that is sure to hold me until dinner.  And I'm sure I've said it before, but often times, it's eggs.  I love how you could (hypothetically) have a different egg dish every day for months on end.  Could.

Huevos Rancheros are a simple dish that goes together very quickly...especially if you already have some blender salsa hanging around in the fridge.  I made a salsa for this version since I (oddly) didn't have any around...but you could use any type of salsa that you enjoy.  It doesn't have to be this one.  Give a few tortilla a quick dip in some hot oil and then fry up a couple of eggs and wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am.

Huevos Rancheros

by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Keywords: saute breakfast entree nut-free soy-free sugar-free vegetarian eggs tortillas tomatoes chiles Mexican

Ingredients (serves 2)
  • 2 large Roma tomatoes (or 2 small-medium round tomatoes), stemmed
  • 2 fat cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 chiles de arbol, stemmed
  • 1 pasilla chile, stemmed & (mostly) seeded
  • ½ tsp. minced, dried onion (optional...but I like it)
  • ¼ tsp. ground cumin
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 4 corn tortillas
  • vegetable or coconut oil (or another oil for frying)
  • ~2 Tbs. butter
  • 4 eggs
  • ~2 oz. queso fresco, crumbled
  • 1-2 Tbs. chopped parsley or cilantro
Place tomatoes, garlic, both types of chiles, dried onion, and cumin in blender. Add a drizzle or two of water. Puree until fairly smooth, adding enough water to make approximately 1½ cup (or a little bit more) salsa. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pour enough oil in the bottom of a small saucepan to make a very light film, about 1 tablespoon or so. Turn heat to medium and when hot, carefully pour in salsa. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a slow simmer and allow to cook for 5-10 minutes. Hold over the lowest flame you can produce (just enough to keep it warm).
In a small skillet, heat about ¼-inch of oil until very hot. One at a time, slide the tortillas into the hot oil to make pliable, 30-45 seconds total, flipping tortilla halfway through. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate. Blot with another paper towel and set two of the tortillas on each plate (or all four on a larger platter), overlapping slightly.

Heat about 1 tablespoon of the butter in a small, nonstick skillet. Once the butter has melted and started to foam a bit, crack in two eggs. Cook, basting with the melted butter in the pan until cooked to your liking for Sunny-side up (or however you'd like your eggs). Slide onto one half of the tortillas and repeat with remaining eggs and butter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, if you wish.

Carefully ladle the warm salsa around the eggs onto the tortillas and egg whites. Sprinkle with queso fresco and parsley (or cilantro). Enjoy!
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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Rustic Potato Loaves ...inspired by The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin {book tour}

author:  Amanda Coplin
publisher:  Harper
source: TLC Book Tours
"foodie" elements:  yes
hard cover: 448 pages

random excerpt: He had pulled out of that grief, eventually - out from under the suffocating weight of it.  Suffering had formed him: made him silent and deliberate, thoughtful: deep.  Generous and kind and attentive, although he had been that before.  Each thoughtful gesture hoping to extend back, far back, to reach his sister, to locate her somewhere. (p.123)

summary/synopsis (from TLC Book Tours page):  At the turn of the twentieth century, in a rural stretch of the Pacific Northwest, a reclusive orchardist, William Talmadge, tends to apples and apricots as if they were loved ones. A gentle man, he’s found solace in the sweetness of the fruit he grows and the quiet, beating heart of the land he cultivates. One day, two teenage girls appear and steal his fruit from the market; they later return to the outskirts of his orchard to see the man who gave them no chase. Feral, scared, and very pregnant, the girls take up on Talmadge’s land and indulge in his deep reservoir of compassion. Just as the girls begin to trust him, men arrive in the orchard with guns, and the shattering tragedy that follows will set Talmadge on an irrevocable course not only to save and protect but also to reconcile the ghosts of his own troubled past.

Transcribing America as it once was before railways and roads connected its corners, Amanda Coplin weaves a tapestry of solitary souls who come together in the wake of unspeakable cruelty and misfortune. She writes with breathtaking precision and empathy, and in The Orchardist she crafts an astonishing debut novel about a man who disrupts the lonely harmony of an ordered life when he opens his heart and lets the world in.
my thoughts/review:  At first, Coplin's writing style took some getting used to.  She writes without using "quotation marks", which sometimes left me shaking my head and backtracking to read a sentence or paragraph over again.  I eventually got somewhat used to it, but overall, the phrasing and flow seemed a bit jumbled to me.

That said, I thought the novel was touching, infuriating, and hopeful.  It explored the nature of the human soul in dealing with relationships, loss, and love in their many confusing forms.  Laced throughout the entire novel are descriptions of food, whether in the orchard, on the small table at home, in the wild, or traveling.  The mental pictures had a way of transporting me to the past.  I wanted to be in the orchards picking apricots, apples, plums, or cherries.  I wanted to tend to my wood-burning stove.  I wanted to can and preserve and bake loaves of bread.  I wanted to make stews and roasts of wild game.

Overall, I found this novel to a tad lengthy and drawn-out, but I still enjoyed reading it.  I think if it had used "quotation marks", I would bump my rating up a notch, since it would have flowed a bit easier.  But definitely a good one for those who enjoy stories set in the turn-of-the-century and even for foodies.  Plus, I love the cover art and the style of the pages (You know the sort...the type that is different sizes...look like they're sort of shoved in to the binding.  I forget what that's called...).

about the author:  Amanda Coplin was born in Wenatchee, Washington. She received her BA from the University of Oregon and MFA from the University of Minnesota. A recipient of residencies from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and the Omi International Arts Center at Ledig House in Ghent, New York, she lives in Portland, Oregon.

recipe inspired by the book:  Though this novel contained a surprising amount of food and each and every bite inspired me and threatened to send me directly to the kitchen, I couldn't get the thought of a loaf of potato bread out of my mind.  All rustic and filling...and definitely spread with some sort of preserves made from an orchard fruit... When the men arrived again the following summer, Talmadge's mother went down to the field where they camped and offered them fruit and vegetables, loaves of potato bread.  The men accepted her gifts; and when they returned, four weeks later, they offered her a deer they had killed, strapped to the back of a horse. (p.10)

Rustic Potato Loaves

by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 45-50 minutes
Keywords: bake bread potatoes

Ingredients (2 loaves)
  • 1½ lbs. russet potatoes
  • 4 tsp. salt, divided
  • ½ c. tepid reserved poato water (80°-90° F)
  • 1 Tbs. active dry yeast
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4¾ c. bread flour (scooped & leveled)
Scrub the potatoes (don't peel them) and cut into quarters. Place them into a 2-quart pot along with 2 teaspoons of the salt and cover with water. Boil until tender enough to be pierced easily with the tip of your knife. Measure out ½ cup of the potato cooking water and reserve it. Drain potatoes in a colaner and then spread out onto a cooling rack to let them (thoroughly) air dry, ~20-30 minutes.

Once the potatoes are cool, stir the yeast mixture into the reserved potato water (check that temp of water lies somewhere between 80° and 90° F). Let sit until creamy, ~5 minutes.

Place the cooled poatoes into the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mash them up at low speed and then add the dissolved yeast and olive oil. Mix until the liquid is incorporated into the potatoes.
Switch the paddle with a dough hook attachment and continue mixing on low speed. Add flour and remaining 2 teaspoons of salt. Mix on low for 2-3 minutes and then increase speed to medium and allow to mix for 11 minutes more. The dough will seem stiff and crumbly (like pie crust dough) at first, but as it is worked, it will become soft and will start to "pool" in the bottom of the bowl (almost like a brioche dough, if you've ever made one).

Cover the mixing bowl with plastic and allow to rise at room temperature for 20-30 minutes. It should rise noticeably, but not necessarily double in size.

Place a rack in the bottom half of your oven and set a baking stone on it. Preheat oven to 375° F. Have a spray bottle filled with water set aside.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and cut in half (a dough scraper is the best way to do this). Shape each half into a "torpedo": First shape dough into a ball and then flatten into a disc. Starting at the end furthest from you, roll dough toward you. When you're on your last roll, pull the "free end" towards you, gently stretching, and dust the edge of it with flour. Finish rolling. The shaped dough should be the shape of a torpedo or a football - if it's not, rock it back and forth a bit to taper the ends. Repeat with other half of dough.
Place the loaves on a baker's peel that has been liberally dusted with cornmeal, seam side up. Lay a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap gently over the loaves. Let rise at room temperature for 20 minutes.
Spray the oven walls with water and immediately close the oven door to trap steam. Remove towel or plastic from the top of the loaves. Open again and quickly and carefully slide the loaves onto the baking stone. Spray the oven with water again and close the door. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the crust is brown, loaves sound hollow when tapped on the bottom, and the interior temperature is 200° F (plunge an instant-read thermometer into center of loaf). Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes before slicing.

Will keep at room temperature (either turned cut side down on a cutting board or in a bag) for ~2 days (if it lasts that long). You can also wrap the loaves airtight and freeze for up to a month. Thaw, still wrapped, at room temp.

adapted slightly from Baking with Julia
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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Chicken 'n Biscuits (Chicken Pie)

Let me just get this out there right now - I forgot to add the peas to this dish.  What!?  I don't know, I got all caught up in making dinner and I completely spaced them.  When I was taking the (not-so-fabulous) photos, I kept thinking something was missing...that the dish didn't look quite right.  It was the peas.  Blast it!

Phew.  Glad to have that off my chest.

Believe me, I did NOT let the lack of peas deter me from thoroughly enjoying this big ol' pan of comfort food.  And neither did anyone else.
A second note - these may be some of the finest biscuits that I have ever eaten.  I don't know if they would be as amazing baked separately from the chicken mixture as they were baked right on it, but I'm surely gonna be finding out soon.  They are so tender and melt-in-your-mouth that it's a little insane.

I doubled the original recipe so that my whole family could eat dinner that night.  But next time I make this...and there will be a next time...I will most likely triple the chicken mixture.  I wanted a higher ratio of the creamy, rich chicken mixture against those tender biscuits.
Now. Scoot on back out of here you nasty-hot weather...I want that crispy air that signals Autumn to come woooooshing back in.  So I can enjoy comfort dishes like these on a regular basis.

Chicken 'n Biscuits (Chicken Pie)

by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Keywords: bake entree chicken carrots American

Ingredients (serves 6-8)
    for the biscuits:
    • 3 c. all-purpose flour + more for kneading
    • 2 Tbs. + 2 tsp. baking powder
    • 2 tsp. sugar
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 6 oz. (12 Tbs./1½ sticks) cold butter, cubed
    • 1 c. milk
    • 2 large eggs
    for the chicken mixture:
    • 4 Tbs. butter
    • 1 medium onion, diced
    • ½ c. all-purpose flour
    • 4½ c. milk
    • 2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1" chunks
    • 4 medium carrots, chopped
    • salt
    • ~1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
    • 2 c. frozen peas
    make the biscuits:
    Beat together eggs and milk in a large measuring cup or bowl; set aside. Place flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt into the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to mix. Scatter butter pieces over the flour mixture and pulse 8 times. Turn on processor and slowly pour in milk-egg mixture until just combined, ~4 seconds. The dough will be extremely sticky.

    Dump dough out of food processor onto a heavily floured work surface. Quickly and gently knead about 5 times, using floured hands. Pat dough out to about a ¾" thickness. Use a 2-3" biscuit cutter to cut out ~15 biscuits. Let sit on work surface while you continue on.

    make chicken mixture:
    Preheat oven to 425° F.

    Place butter in a medium-large saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add the onion and cook, stirring often, until it begins to turn golden, 6-8 minutes. Add flour and stir thoroughly. Whisk in about half the milk. Mixture will begin to thicken. Add other half of milk, whisking almost constantly until mixture comes to a boil.

    Add chicken, carrots, 1-2 teaspoons of salt, the black pepper, and the thyme. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for ~10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Add the peas.

    Pour the hot mixture into a baking dish (~9"x13") and smooth out the surface. Lay the cut biscuit dough over the top in a single layer. Set on a baking pan in the oven (to catch any eruptions).

    Bake for ~25 minutes or until biscuits are browned. Let sit for ~10 minutes to allow mixture to set up a bit. Serve!

    slightly adapted from Rick and Lanie's Excellent Kitchen Adventures
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    Monday, August 27, 2012

    Cocoa Buns

    There are certain photos or recipes that I see that once I've seen or heard about them, I can't get them off my mind.  I bookmark something.  Or I pin it.  And then I go back and check on it every once in a while.  You know, making sure it still looks and sounds irresistible.  And I'm slightly hesitant to admit that sometimes I'll do this for months on end before I actually wind up making "said item".  I don't enjoy torturing myself, it's just that time gets away from me.  And I suppose it doesn't help that I come across far too many things that grab my fancy.

    Well, that is exactly what happened when I came across these Kakaoweckchen (Cacao Buns) on the #BakeYourOwnBread featured bread blog this month, Hefe und mehr.  This site is actually a bread-lover's dream...breadie-bliss!  While I marked lots of different things that I wanted to bake up in my oven, these buns were the thing that haunted me.  I knew I wouldn't be able to rest until I made some.
    So yesterday, I made it happen.  The thing I was looking forward to the most was the brown dough peeking out through the white dough.  Unfortunately, my slashing skills leave much to be desired.  My first batch didn't visually please me the way I thought they would.  I need an intensive on slashing technique.  Plus, when I converted the celsius temperature (220°) to fahrenheit (428°), my oven seemed WAY too hot.  I lost that contrast in color.  Fortunately, I smelled them and knew I had to take them out after 15 minutes.  And though they were pretty dark on the outside, they did not burn and the insides were perfectly soft and fluffy.

    It's times like this when I'm thankful for my tiny oven with only one rack.  I had a second chance.  I lowered the oven temperature to 350° F and made an extra slash in a couple of the buns (just to see how it would look)...and I slid the second batch in with a little prayer.
    Turns out, I actually liked the way the "double-slashed" buns looked - they had that brown popping through that I was hoping for.  Plus, with the lowered oven temp, the two colors stayed distinct.  I will definitely be making the buns again soon in a lower oven with that "+" style slash.

    And on another note...both my husband and my daughter went straight for the darker rolls when I said they were clear (picture taking complete).  They are two peas in a pod.  I would gravitate towards the lighter, two-toned buns.  They are partial to darkly baked bread and tortillas with burnt spots.  This just means that not a single roll was snubbed - so that's a good thing!

    These buns are lightly sweet and very soft and fluffy in the center.  Know what the hubs said they reminded him of?  (My favorite) Conchas.  Minus that awesome sugary crust on top.

    Cocoa Buns (Kakaoweckchen)

    by Heather Schmitt-González
    Prep Time: 5 hours (or up to overnight)
    Cook Time: 25 minutes
    Keywords: bake bread German

    Ingredients (12 buns/rolls)
      • 200 grams bread flour
      • 250 grams milk, lukewarm
      • 10 grams active dry yeast
      for white dough
      • half of the preferment
      • 150 grams bread flour
      • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
      • 30 grams (~2 Tbs.) butter, at room temperature
      • 40 grams sugar
      • 4 grams fine sea salt
      for brown dough
      • half of the preferment
      • 150 grams bread flour
      • 2 Tbs. cocoa powder
      • 1 Tbs. water, room temperature
      • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
      • 30 grams (~2 Tbs.) butter, at room temperature
      • 40 grams sugar
      • 4 grams fine sea salt
      for the preferment:
      Dissolve yeast in the lukewarm milk and then mix with flour. Cover with plastic wrap and ferment in a warm place until risen and bubbly, up to 3 hours. At this point you can finish the recipe or refrigerate the preferment overnight. If you refrigerate it, remove from fridge and let sit at room temperature for an hour or two before continueing on.

      for the dough:
      Divide preferment (~425 grams total) evenly into 2 medium-sized bowls (it will be sticky). Add ingredients for white dough to one bowl and ingredients for brown dough to the other bowl.

      Stir each bowl ingredients together with a wooden spoon (do white dough first if using same spoon), beating swiftly until all of the dry ingredients are absorbed into the wet and the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. Dough will remain wet and sticky. Cover each bowl with plastic and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour to rise (should just about double).

      Line two baking sheets with silpats or parchment paper.

      One bowl at a time, turn risen dough out onto a heavily floured surface. Flour your hands and quickly knead the dough(s) until they are no longer sticky.

      Divide each color of dough into 12 basically equal (41-43 grams each) portions and form them into balls. Make sure your work surface stays lightly floured to prevent sticking. Flatten the white dough into a disc using your hands. Wet your hands lightly and roll the brown dough ball around in your hands to lightly wet the surface. Set this lightly wetted brown dough ball on the top and in the center of the white dough disc. Gently pull the white dough up and around the brown dough. The dough should pull and stretch just fine. Once all the sides have been pulled up and around the center dough, pinch to close.
      Turn dough over so that the seam is down and turn gently between cupped hands to re-form the dough. Set onto prepared baking sheet. I find it easiest to do each step with 6 pieces of dough at a time (form 6 discs, then wet 6 balls, then enclose the balls and form them). 6 buns fit comfortably on a half-sheet pan (regular sized baking sheet). Repeat until all the buns are formed.

      Preheat oven to 350° F.

      Cover lightly with plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature until risen, ~30 minutes. Slash the buns down the center (one line or a "+") after the first 10 minutes of rising.
      Slide into preheated oven and bake for ~25 minutes or until lightly golden. Buns should register around 190°-200° F when a thermometer is inserted in the center. Slide buns onto a wire rack to cool.

      Good warm (I like them best when slightly warm) or at room temperature. Store in an airtight container once completely cool.

      If your oven is not big enough to bake two sheets at once, place one sheet in the refrigerator while one is rising. Once you've placed your first baking sheet in the oven, remove second sheet from fridge and let it rise at room tempeture while the first one bakes, slashing after 10 minutes. Place in oven after 30 minutes is up.

      adapted from Hefe und mehr
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      Planters #NUTritionPB Berry Nut {product review}

      category:  food/condiments/spreads

      packaging:  attractive - I love the colors (eye-catching)

      appearance: Extremely tempting for peanut butter lovers - creamy peanut butter chock-full with bits of red, chewy cranberries and chopped, roasted peanuts.  I wanted to dive in as soon as I opened the jar.

      about:  Planters NUT•rition Berry Nut Peanut Butter is made with real cranberries and Planters peanut butter.  It is made with adults in mind and is a nutrient dense source of energy to start your day with.  It is a natural source of five essential vitamins and minerals with 6 grams of protein per (2 tablespoon) serving.

      There are also 2 other varieties of NUT•rition peanut butter, Cinnamon Raisin Granola Nut and Banana Granola Nut.  I look forward to trying those.

      my thoughts/review:  I should begin by saying that I am a HUGE peanut butter fan.  Any nut butter, really. I often spread it on apples or in the channel of a celery stick and then top it with raisins (ants on a raft or log).  If you're like me, you'll probably feel the same way that I do.  I CAN'T GET ENOUGH OF THIS STUFF. Seriously, the bright, chewy bursts of the cranberries (which I can't believe I never substituted my raisins with - they go perfectly) combined with the deep, roasted crunch of the chopped peanuts give this peanut butter an irresistible texture.

      Though it's somewhat geared towards adults, the kids all liked it, too.  I'm stoked that I was sent the Berry Nut mix to try, because I predict that this will be my favorite of the three varieties (once I've tried the other two).  I will DEFINITELY be buying this of my own accord on future shopping trips.  I can see this becoming a pantry staple.
      things I thought about doing with it:
      ~making Peanut Butter Granola
      ~making Peanut Butter Cranberry Cookies
      ~making Peanut Butter and Jelly Bread
      ~making Peanut Butter and Dried Fruit Rice Krispie Treats
      ~making Peanut Butter Cups
      ~making Fruit & Nut Truffles

      things I actually did with it:  
      ~ate it from a spoon
      ~spread it on toast
      ~filled celery sticks with it
      ~ate it from a spoon
      ~ate it from a spoon
      ~ate it from a spoon
      *I received one (12 oz.) jar of Planters NUTrition Energy Mix: Berry Nut at no charge to taste and review.  All opinions stated in this post are 100% my own.

      Sunday, August 26, 2012

      Shredded Chicken in Peanut Sauce Tacos w/ Corn & Zucchini Sauté

      Shredded Chicken in Peanut Sauce Tacos w/ Corn & Zucchini Sauté
       This week was back-to-school week in our house.  The first couple days were a haze of dentist appointments, orientations, and shopping trips for school clothes and list of school supplies long enough to fill a whole school bus.  Wednesday marked D-day (for them) and mama-gets-her-me-time-back Day (for me).   By the time Wednesday evening rolled around, the kids were all pooped from having to wake up early and then endure a whole day of learning.  I was pooped from the glorious sense of quiet in the house non-stop craziness days leading up to Wednesday.  And what, then I have to make dinner at a decent hour on top of everything else?  Sheesh.
      Shredded Chicken in Peanut Sauce Tacos w/ Corn & Zucchini Sauté
      Okay, since a mother's (or father's) work is never done, I have to plan a few quick meals to get us through the majority of our weeknight dinners.  A few of my favorite short-cuts are:
      • Cooking up a large batch of meat and/or beans on Sunday.  Make a big batch of pulled pork or beef in the crockpot, and divide it into smaller portions.  Keep some in the fridge and some in the freezer.  Same goes for chicken, though I like to poach large batches of breasts and then store them in their cooking broth in the fridge.  Make a pound or two of beans and divide those into smaller portions, as well.  Throughout the week, use the meat and beans to make quick meals like tacos, quesadillas, sandwiches, omelets, salads, etc.
      • Cleaning and cutting vegetables and storing them (ready-to-eat) in the vegetable bin of the refrigerator.  Pull out veggies for snacking on raw, or add them to stir-fries or soups.  Sometimes I'll cut a few different shapes (matchsticks, coins, diced) if I'm thinking far enough ahead for certain "applications" I want to use them in.
      • Cooking large batches of grains to eat throughout the week.  From rice (for fried rice or to heat up and serve with a stir-fry or other dish) to barley (soups, salads) to couscous or quinoa.  Cook, cool, and store in smaller portions in the fridge.
      • Make a couple pitchers of different Agua Frescas.  Since it's still hot out, the kids always go straight for the fridge when they get home in search of a cold drink.
      • Bake a batch of cookies, bars, and bread.  Store them in airtight containers to add to lunches or use for after-school snacks for the week.  If you make a large batch of bread (up to 3 loaves), use one for toast and sandwiches right away.  Wrap one tight and freeze it for the end of the week.  Cut the other one into cubes for bread budding, croutons and bread crumbs, or to make a strata (put in fridge night before and bake in the morning for breakfasts).
      • Make a batch of either breakfast burritos or beans & greens burritos and freeze them.  This will make quick breakfasts and dinners for the week.
      Shredded Chicken in Peanut Sauce Tacos w/ Corn & Zucchini Sauté
      This particular meal goes together in 30 minutes (at most) if you've helped yourself out earlier in the week by storing some cut veggies and poached chicken breast in the fridge.  And to save yourself a little more time after the meal...use paper plates.  Not the most eco-conscious suggestion, but I admit it.  I use them when I'm just not in the mood for dishes.

      Shredded Chicken in Peanut Sauce Tacos
      Shredded Chicken in Peanut Sauce Tacos w/ Corn & Zucchini Sauté
      by Heather Schmitt-González
      Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
      Cook Time: 10 minutes
      Keywords: blender simmer condiment entree chicken peanuts American Mexican

      Ingredients (serves 4-6)
      • 2 large Roma tomatoes, cored
      • 2 scant cups roasted peanuts (unsalted or lightly salted)
      • 1 Tbs. peanut butter
      • 1 chipotle en adobo + 2 Tbs. of the adobo sauce
      • ~1½ c. chicken stock or broth
      • salt
      • freshly ground pepper
      • ~3 c. cooked, shredded chicken
      • corn tortillas, warmed
      Place tomatoes, peanuts, peanut butter, chipotles and adobo sauce, and 1 cup of the chicken stock in a blender and puree until smooth. If sauce seems too thick to move, gradually add in a little more of the chicken stock. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

      Pour into a medium-large skillet (preferably something non-stick or well-seasoned) and add the shredded chicken over medium heat; stir to combine. Heat until sauce begins to boil, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer for 5-10 minutes.

      Remove from heat and transfer to a serving platter. Serve with warm corn tortillas for wrapping into a taco. Add any toppings you, crispy lettuce is a wonderful contrast.

      inspired by Mexican Made Easy

      Corn & Zucchini Sauté
      Shredded Chicken in Peanut Sauce Tacos w/ Corn & Zucchini Sauté
      by Heather Schmitt-González
      Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
      Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
      Keywords: saute side bacon corn zucchini Mexican American summer

      Ingredients (serves 4-6)
      • 4 strips bacon, cut into ¼" strips
      • ~½ c. red onion, ¼" dice
      • 3 cloves garlic, minced
      • 2 medium tomatoes, cored, seeded, & chopped
      • 2 c. (from ~2 ears) fresh sweet corn, kernels cut from cob
      • ~1 lb. small zucchini, ¼" dice
      • small handful cilantro, chopped
      • salt
      • freshly ground pepper
      Cook bacon in a medium skillet over medium heat until it just starts to turn crisp, stirring, ~5 minutes. Lift out bacon with a slotted spoon and set on a paper towel-lined plate to drain. If there's more than a couple of tablespoons of grease in the pan, drain off any extra and leave ~2 tablespoons in the pan.

      Add onion and saute until translucent, ~5 minutes. (The smell of onions cooking in bacon fat is enough to drive me wild. You?) Add garlic and cook for another minute. Add zucchini and corn and cook, stirring for another 3 minutes. Add in tomato and continue to cook for a couple more minutes, or until zucchini is tender, but not soggy.

      Stir in cilantro and season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss in bacon and serve.

      adapted from Mexican Made Easy
      Shredded Chicken in Peanut Sauce Tacos w/ Corn & Zucchini Sauté