Mommy Made From Scratch

Friday, March 30, 2012

Pico de Gallo with Tortilla Chips

Our family has been sick for basically all of February and March. The last two weeks it's been just me which is why I've kind of been MIA on this blog, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook. I've had vertigo which has made it virtually impossible to do much of anything. I originally started this post about a month ago but have been unable to finish it until now. 

I've been writing this bits at a time so hopefully it all makes sense not to mention that right now the pico de gallo photo below is trying to spin around the room. I'd almost rather have the flu and get it over with than have two weeks of vertigo with no other signs or symptoms to give me or the doctors any clue as to what's going on. I can't drive. I can hardly cook. I can't stand for any length of time. Ugh. As you can tell, I'm not handling this well at all. 

Sometimes I think God gives us things like this to test us and I'm failing miserably! Thankfully I've had the help of family and friends over the past week who have taken my kids out, giving me time to rest, and have brought us meals as it's hard for me to cook right now. I'm very blessed and very thankful to each one of them.

Now on to the pico de gallo and chips...

I've become a bit of a salsa snob over the years. I can hardly stand to eat salsa from the jar anymore. I need to have the fresh, crisp, cool flavor of freshly made salsa or pico de gallo. Unfortunately when you're buying salsa from the store it's a heck of a lot cheaper to buy the jar version rather than the fresh stuff from the deli. I hope to have all the ingredients that I need later on in the summer to make my own fresh salsa or pico de gallo straight from the ingredients provided by our garden. 

Salsa is usually made by cooking some of the ingredients which is why I prefer pico de gallo. I love the fresh taste of it and how it doesn't lose any nutrients that cooking can sometimes do. This pico de gallo is best made a day in advance but can be eaten the same day if necessary. This is the perfect snack to get you ready for the warmer months to come. And what better to eat it with than fresh, semi-homemade tortilla chips. Enjoy!

Pico de Gallo
6 large tomatoes, cored and chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 large red onion, chopped
1 large cucumber, chopped
2 jalapeno chilies, seeded and finely chopped
1 bunch fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1/3 cup lime juice
salt, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl then season with salt. Store in refrigerator. This recipe will make a HUGE amount (approximately 24 servings) so share with friends and family or bring to a party.

Semi-Homemade Tortilla Chips
peanut oil, or other frying oil of your choice
small flour tortillas
salt, to taste

Heat peanut oil in a frying pan on medium heat until bubbles form on the handle of a wooden spoon when placed into the oil as pictured below. I like to use peanut oil because it is a healthier oil option and I love the taste. If I can't afford it I usually use canola oil as a cheaper option.

Cut flour tortillas into triangles. Each tortilla should make 4-8 triangles depending on how large you want your chips to be.

Gently place tortilla triangles into oil a few pieces at a time. Turn triangles over to brown both sides. Place fried tortilla onto paper towel lined baking sheet then immediately season with salt. 

These chips are best eaten immediately after cooling but will remain crisp for a few days in a Ziploc bag. ¡Que aproveche amigos! (Enjoy, friends!)

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Friday, March 16, 2012

Bacon, Cheddar & Chives Boxty

With St. Patrick's Day coming up of course I wanted to serve up some sort of Irish dish. I have been looking for something Irish that my family and I would eat, i.e. no corned beef, no cabbage, no black pudding, no other strange meat. I also wanted to find something that was different than a lot of the other recipes I usually see around this time of year.

I'm not entirely familiar with Irish cuisine so this has been a fun learning experience for me. I'm part Irish to go along with the Scottish, Swiss, German and Cherokee Indian in my blood. I've always wanted to take a week for each of my ancestral backgrounds and cook exclusively in that style all week. This is a good first step in that direction as I've never made an Irish dish prior to this one.

So in my searching for traditional Irish recipes, I ran across some recipes for boxty. I've never heard of it before but it sounded like something my whole family would love. 

Boxty is basically a potato cake or hashbrown in American terms. All boxty recipes have a base of shredded raw potatoes and are usually fried. They are usually served at breakfast or tea.

The term boxty in Irish means, "poor house bread" because it was usually made by the poor since they could only afford potatoes and buttermilk and as they were created during a time of famine.

Boxty has even inspired folk rhymes: 
Boxty on the griddle,
And Boxty on the pan;
The wee one in the middle
Is for Mary Ann.
Boxty on the griddle,
Boxty on the pan,
If you can't bake boxty
sure you'll never get a man.
Boxty on the griddle,
Boxty on the pan,
If you don't eat boxty,
You'll never get a man.

Boxty without any additions is a bit bland. This is a good thing for us living in the 21st century as we have so many food options available to us to add to the dish.

I came up with my version of boxty by tweaking it a bit and adding a few of my favorite ingredients to the basic recipe known throughout Ireland. Hope you like it!

Bacon, Cheddar & Chives Boxty
2 medium starchy potatoes (such as Idaho, Russet or Yukon Gold), peeled
1 cup mashed potatoes
4 strips bacon, cooked and sliced into small pieces 
2 whole scallions, sliced green parts, finely chopped white parts
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
ground black pepper
5-6 Tbsp butter
canola oil
sour cream for dipping

Spread out a clean thin towel or tea towel onto counter top. Place box grater on center of towel then proceed to grate potatoes directly onto it. When finished grating, make sure all potatoes are assembled in the center of the towel. Next, gather together the corners of the towel and twist, forming a ball of potatoes inside. Continue to twist the towel to wring out as much water from the potatoes as possible.

In a large bowl, stir together shredded potatoes, mashed potatoes, bacon, scallions and cheddar cheese until evenly combined. Add in flour, baking soda, salt and pepper until the mixture forms a ball.

Spread some flour out on a clean counter top. Place the potato mixture onto the floured surface then flatten until it reaches one inch in thickness. Using a 3 inch round cutter or glass, cut out circles and set aside. Continue to re-form the dough and cut out until all dough is used.

In a large frying pan, add butter and a decent amount (1/2 cup maybe) of canola oil. The oil will help to keep the butter from burning. Heat on medium until bubbles form on the end of a wooden spoon when inserted into the pan. This will let you know that the oil is ready. 

Fry boxty a few pieces at a time for 3 minutes on each side. Make sure not to overcrowd the pan. When finished, place on paper towel lined baking sheet to drain oil.

Serve warm with a side of sour cream for dipping. This also goes great with other breakfast staples such as bacon, eggs and/or sausage.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Maple Roasted Chicken with Vegetables

Spring is nearly upon us so I thought I'd stick in one last winter-like dish before the flowers begin to bloom.
I was organizing my recipe box a while back and ran across this recipe. It is the perfect blend of savory and sweet. 

I also love the fact that it is a meal-all-in-one kind of dish. As a kid I wasn't a big fan of casseroles and loved to have each flavor separated...I mean to the point of no foods touching each other on my plate. I'm still like that with certain foods, i.e. dessert touching my lasagna or something like that, but overall I'm over it. My husband doesn't understand why I wouldn't want my brownie on the plate that I just ate spaghetti on. Maybe I'll come up with spaghetti flavored brownies and see if he understands. Knowing him, he'll probably think they're good. 

Well while I get busy creating my spaghetti flavored brownies, check out my recipe for Maple Roasted Chicken with Vegetables...

Maple Roasted Chicken with Vegetables
1 1/2 lbs. chicken drumsticks and/or thighs
poultry seasoning, to taste
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
2 cups petite baby carrots, or carrots cut to 1-inch pieces
3 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
3/4 cup maple syrup
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried thyme or 2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Place the chicken in a 9x13 baking dish. Sprinkle with poultry seasoning, salt and pepper.

Pour the carrots, sweet potatoes and onion into the dish. Drizzle with maple syrup and olive oil. Sprinkle with thyme. Stir mixture around to coat.

Cover dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, stir and cook uncovered for 15 minutes, or until the chicken is golden brown and/or a meat thermometer reads 165°F.

Let stand for 5-10 minutes, covered with foil before serving.


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Everyday Mom's Meals