Sunday, February 8, 2009

Green Chile Carnitas

This is a quick dinner I made one night when I was pressed for time and craving protein. The meat turned out so delicious I think I actually cried a little when my husband got to the leftovers before I did (In my defense, it had been a really loooong day).

There is a special cut of pork that is used for carnitas that is delicious but super fatty. Instead, I used a leftover pork loin and they turned out lean and lovely.

Quick Green Chile Carnitas

1 Pork Loin $6 (@4.99/lb) If available at your Supermarket, Organic Pork can be had for $8.99/lb
1 Jar Green Salsa $1.99 - $3.29 (Herdez or Trader Joe's Green Salsa are good)
1 cup vegetable broth $.50 (@$2/quart)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

Total: $8.49 to $17.28

Rub your uncooked roast with a little salt and pepper. In a stew pot, heat your olive oil until it smokes. Sear off each side of the pork until it's browned and smells like bacon. Lower heat to simmer and add the green salsa and broth. Cover and let stew for an hour or more until the meat falls apart in the pot:

Serve in a warm corn tortilla or eat it by itself with black beans and a green vegetable!

Tomorrow I'll post a break from the meat with a double dose of Tofu Chard Stir-fry and Broccoli Rice & Lentils.

Mexican Chocolate Brownies With Tangerine Cream Cheese Frosting

Ummmm, yeah. These brownies taste as ridiculously good as you think they do. Daddycrat, after spending a day at home alone with them told me, "Darling, love of my life, unless you want me to double in size and grow some sexy man boobs you can never make those brownies again." Consider yourself warned.

Mexican Chocolate Brownies with Tangerine Cream Cheese Frosting:

8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (I made mine from cocoa powder, sugar & butter $2.99/10 ounce container)
2 eggs $.40 - (@$2.50/dozen)
1/4 milk $.07
1/2 stick butter melted $.50 (@$3.99/package of four)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour (I used half corn/half sweet rice for gluten-free)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Total: $3.96 (not including staples)

Preheat oven to 400. Grease a square pan with butter.
Mix flour and baking soda. Set aside. Melt chocolate in a double burner. Add butter, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Mix until melted, remove from heat. Separately whisk eggs in a bowl. Slowly whisk the eggs into the chocolate mixture, then the milk, then the flour. Pour into greased pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until it's solid in the middle.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

1/2 package cream cheese $1 (@$2 per 8 ounce package)
1/2 stick butter $.50 (@$3.99/package of four)
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated tangerine (or orange) zest

Total: $1.50 (not including staples)

Mix softened cream cheese and butter with electric mixture until smooth. Add vanilla. Mix. Add powdered sugar mixing bit by bit until the frosting has the amount of sweetness you like. You don't have to use all the sugar if you don't want to. Finish by mixing in the tangerine zest.


Saturday, February 7, 2009

A Recipe for Humble Pie

While some Senators congratulated themselves for trimming Food Stamps and Teachers' salaries from the federal stimulus package, the New York Times style section published the heartbreaking and tragic story of New York banking execs now forced to live on $500,000 a year. What does a pay cut mean for these poor souls? Cover your child's eyes, close the curtains and prepare yourself for something dreadful. As the writer warns, "The cold hard math can be cruel." Bwwwahhh!

Firstly, taxes are a bitch:

Like those taxes. If a person is married with two children, the weekly deductions on a $500,000 salary are: federal taxes, $2,645; Social Security, $596; Medicare, $139; state taxes, $682; and city, $372, bringing the weekly take-home to $5,180, or about $269,000 a year, said Martin Cohen, a Manhattan accountant.

Parents will have to help their children with their homework:

Not every bank executive has school-age children, but for those who do, offspring can be expensive. In addition to paying tuition, “You’re not going to get through private school without tutoring a kid,” said Sandy Bass, the editor of Private School Insider, a newsletter that covers private schools in the New York City area. One hour of tutoring once a week is $125. “That’s the low end,” she said. “The higher end is 150, 175.” SAT tutors are about $250 an hour. Total cost for 30 weeks of regular tutoring: $3,750.

Like California's Furloughed State workers, these execs will learn the art of "Staycations":

Barbara Corcoran, a real estate executive, said that most well-to-do families take at least two vacations a year, a winter trip to the sun and a spring trip to the ski slopes.

Total minimum cost: $16,000.

The personal trainer has to be fired:

A personal trainer at $80 an hour three times a week comes to about $12,000 a year.

GASP! Some women will be forced to wear the same $15,000 cocktail dress, twice:

The work in the gym pays off when one must don a formal gown for a charity gala. “Going to those parties,” said David Patrick Columbia, who is the editor of the New York Social Diary (, “a woman can spend $10,000 or $15,000 on a dress. If she goes to three or four of those a year, she’s not going to wear the same dress.”

Meanwhile, here's a list of things some other rich people thought were too wasteful to include in the Federal Stimulus package:

• $98 million for school nutrition (school lunch programs - for those pesky poor kids)

• $1 billion for Head Start/Early Start (for those pesky poor pre-schoolers)

• $5.8 billion for Health Prevention Activity (nutrition and exercise programs for low-income kids and families who can't afford personal trainers)

• $600 million for Title I (Provides funding to low income schools so they can hire teachers to teach kids who can't afford tutors to get them into college)

• $16 billion for school construction (For those pesky schools in poor neighorhoods that are falling down/poisoning their students)

• $3.5 billion for higher education construction (For those pesky state schools churning out the future of America)

So, rather than engage in the uncouth practice of class warfare, I'll do my part to help the poor banking execs in New York get through this very "difficult" time. I offer this recipe::

Out-of-Touch Elitist Humble Pie


4 Eggs - $.80 (@$2.50/dozen)
4 Medium Potatoes, thinly sliced -$1 (@ $3.69/5 lb bag
1 Onion, diced - $.66
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper or Red Pepper Flakes to Taste

Total Cost: $2.46

In a frying pan, cook onions in a few tablespoon olive oil until clear. Add sliced potatoes, salt and pepper, lower heat and cover until potatoes are soft. Scramble Eggs and pour over potatoes. Stir just enough to make sure egg has thoroughly infiltrated the potatoes. Cook uncovered like an omlet until the eggs are fluffy. No need to flip. Serve with shredded cheese, if you can afford it .

p.s. I also find it hilarious that the author of the NYTimes article cites a $45,000 Nanny as a legitimate expense when the whole premise of the article is that these families can barely survive on only the husband's lonely $500,000 income. Even full time stay-at-homes like Daddycrat need a break from the kids, but a full-time nanny? Please! Hilarious, and yet, infuriating.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Chiles Rellenos

Okay Caryn, this one is for you! Chiles rellenos might just be the perfect food. I'm not talking about the limp, fried anahiem chile you sometimes find in burritos around Portland. These are dark, beautiful poblano peppers stuffed with melted cheese, fried in a fluffy light batter and practically smothered in a clove infused tomato sauce. Mmmm......

This recipe is complicated so I'm going to start with the sauce. I'll update with the cost totals tomorrow:

3 lbs Organic Roma Tomatoes $4.17 @ $1.39/lb at Safeway!
1 Organic Yellow Onion, diced $.66
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup vegetable or chicken stock
6 whole black peppercorns
5 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 bayleaf

Preheat the oven to Broil. In a saucepan, saute your onion and garlic in a little olive oil. Line your washed tomatoes up on a broiling pan and roast them until the skins turn black and split like this:

When the tomatoes are cool enough, peel and seed the tomatoes, then add them to your onions and garlic. Lightly smoosh them with potato masher, then add the broth. Add the whole spices. I suppose you could put them in a little cheese cloth to make removal later easy...I just kept count and took them out at the end before I pureed the sauce because I like to exercise my brain that way. Turn the heat to low and let it simmer until you're done with the chiles.


6 Dark Green Poblano Peppers $1.99/lb (You want taught, shiny skin for your chiles. No wrinkled peppers, they aren't fresh)
4 Eggs
2 cups cheddar cheese cut into 2 inch skinny rectangles
Canola or Vegetable Oil for Frying
2 cups corn or wheat flour for dredging (I have to make a pitch for corn flour here. It gives it a much more interesting texture and taste than flour)

Preheat your oven to broil, again. Broil the chiles for about five minutes until the skin starts to blacken. Pull them out, turn them so another area is exposed. Broil again until blackened. Pull them out, rotate, etc. Until the skin all over the chile is blistering and black. The broiler MUST be hot when you do this or the chiles will cook but they won't roast, right? If you overcook your chiles, they'll be mushy. Mine were a little bit soft this time because I wandered off in the middle and let things get carried away.

In anycase, take them out when they look like this:

Now comes the sort of hard part.

Put the chiles in a plastic ziploc for about fifteen minutes. They'll steam themselves and the skins will separate. Gently take the chiles out and carefully peel the skin off. Don't worry if you can't get it all, just get what comes off easily. DON'T RUB YOUR EYES OR FACE at any point in this process.

Gingerly cut a slit down one side of the peeled chiles and remove the seeds and any membranes. The membranes are bright green threads that run down the inside of the chile. If you pull too hard, you can tear another hole in the pepper, so be careful. The seeds and membranes are where the chile's heat lives. Place a few pieces of cheese inside each chile. Set aside.

Heat your canola oil in a frying pan. You want the hot oil to be about a half inch deep. In a large bowl, whip the whole eggs (yolk and all) into a foam. You can test the oil by dropping a little dollop of egg foam in it. It should immediately puff up and brown. Prepare a plate with flour to dredge your chiles in.

Make some room on the counter by the stove for your chile assembly. You should have in this order: 1) Cheese Stuffed Chiles 2) Corn Flour Plate 3) Egg Foam 4)Hot sizzling oil 5) A Plate w/ Paper Towels or brown paper bag to absorb the excess oil from finished chiles.

Now, get ready to rumble.

Dredge the chile in the flour. Emmerse it in the egg foam. Pull it out, let the excess foam drip back in. Carefully plop the chile in the frying pan:

It will brown quickly, then flip it over or turn it to fry all the sides:

Let them rest:

Then smother them in your finished sauce:

Pour yourself a drink, take a bite and congratulate yourself on a job well done.