Saturday, October 23, 2010

My Favorite Pablano Recipes: Pablano Vinaigrette

Just in case you haven't caught on, I'm in love with pablano peppers. Tried my Chile Relleno Casserole, yet? Or the yummy side, Green Pablano Rice? Here's something surprisingly different: Pablano Vinaigrette. Get some major green in your diet with this vinaigrette thanks to the pureed pablanos and leafy green spinach, and drizzle on your favorite salad or even carne asada. It would be extra fantastic atop steak or chicken fajitas. I was in the mood for steak taco salad. So I used this amazing carne asada recipe found here, and put on top of some mixed greens, cheese, tortilla chips, pico de gallo, sour cream and avocado. Note: this dressing is on the sweet side. If you want more tang, replace some of the oil for more vinegar, and add a bit of sriracha. I tailored some of the dressing in that way to suit Brian's taste buds. I liked the honey sweet dressing just as it was. Thank you to for supplying this awesome dressing recipe!

Roasted Pablano Vinaigrette

2 pablano peppers, roasted, peeled and seeded

1/4 medium red onion, chopped

2 T. fresh lime juice

3/4 C. olive oil

1/2 C. spinach

2 tsp. honey

salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

In a blender, combine the pablanos, onion, and lime juice and blend until smooth. While the blender is running, add the oil slowly until emulsified. Add the spinach and blend until smooth. Add the honey and season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Bring to room temperature before serving. Makes 1-1/2 cups.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cookie Pizza

This is my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe at the moment. It's my favorite because it's a busy season right now and I honestly can think of better things to do than bake 5 dozen cookies, one sheet at a time. I love making cookies, but time with little ones is so precious, and I really need to find a quicker way to be more efficient these days!

Do you remember the mouth-watering pudding cake I made using this fabulous cookbook? Well, this book also contains a number of other irresistible confections including Three-In-One Chocolate Chip Cookies. The recipe is basic, with differing directions for either a) Giant Cookie b) Medium-Size Refrigerator Cookies or c) miniature cookies.

I love the idea of a giant cookie. Because it's dense. Like me. :o) And it's quick, and easy, and fun. My pampered chef round baking stone does the trick, and it turns out perfect each time. I either cut into wedges or squares.

Cookie Pizza

6 T. butter, softened
1/2 C. packed light brown sugar
1/4 C. granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1-1/2 C. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Cups Hershey's semi-sweet chocolate chips (we only use about 1/2 C. mini semi-sweet chocolate chips...we prefer less chips in our cookies! Oh, but there is just something special about using mini chips!)

There are a number of different ways you can personalize this recipe. It would be fun to spread the cooled cookie with frosting and sprinkles and serve in place of a birthday cake. I've added crunched candy bars, butterscotch chips, walnuts, even oatmeal (just blend old fashioned oats in your blender or food processor until super fine, then use in place of some of your flour). Thanks to my sweet friend Rachael, I tried whole wheat pastry flour in place of the white flour and now love it that way best. I have used whole wheat bread flour in recipes before, but never before the pastry flour. Even finer, this flour creates a wholesome and smooth taste to the cookie pizza. Rachael and I were born with the same taste buds, so when she said it was good, I believed her. I now stock the kitchen pantry with whole wheat pastry flour. I love collaborating with friends! Thanks Rachael! :o)

Directions: Prepare dough. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12X5/8-inch round pizza pan with foil. (I lightly spray with cooking spray.) Pat dough evenly into prepared pan to within 3/4 inch of edge. Bake 15-18 minutes or until lightly browned.

Cool completely; cut into wedges or squares. Decorate as desired. Makes about 8 servings, if you are a total cookie hog. Otherwise, we get at least 12-16 slices out of this.

My Favorite Pablano Recipes: Green Pablano Rice

Last week, I shared my most beloved recipe of all time: Chile Relleno Casserole. Here is another recipe, from here, worthy of your consideration: Green Pablano Rice. Mild pablano flavor mingles with the robust zip of fresh cilantro to bring nourishment as a compliment to your main dish. But add diced chicken or beef or salmon, and this understated side-kick suddenly gains much deserved attention as the hero of your dinner table.

I loved it!

Green Poblano Rice

1 2/3 cups chicken broth or water

2 fresh poblano chiles, stems and seeds removed, and roughly chopped

12 sprigs cilantro, plus extra for garnish

Salt, about 1/2 teaspoon if using salted broth, 1 teaspoon if using unsalted or water

1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil

1 cup rice, preferably medium grain

1 small white onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice

5 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

The flavoring: In a 2-quart saucepan, combine the broth and chiles, bring to a boil, then partially cover and simmer gently over medium to medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, until the chiles are very soft. Pour the chile mixture into a food processor, add the cilantro (stems and all), and process to a smooth puree. Press through a medium-mesh strainer into a bowl and stir in the salt.

The rice: Wipe the pan clean, add the oil and heat over medium. Add the rice and onion, and cook, stirring regularly, until the rice is chalky looking and the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook a minute longer.

Add the warm (or reheated) chile liquid to the hot rice pan, stir once, scrape down any rice kernels clinging to the side of the pan, cover, and cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes. Uncover and check a grain of rice: It should be nearly cooked through. If the rice is just about ready, turn off the heat, re-cover and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes longer to complete the cooking. If the rice seems far from done, continue cooking for 5 minutes or so, retest, then turn off the heat and let stand a few minutes longer. Fluff with a fork, scoop into a warm serving dish, decorate with cilantro sprigs and it's ready to serve.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Wisdom From A 7-Year-Old

In honor of Liv's 7th birthday (someone please tell me I am dreaming and the last 7 years DID NOT rush by in a blink!) I asked her a few questions to capture her view of the world as of right now.

But can I first say how much fun Liv is to us all? How she really "gets the ball rolling" around here with all her ideas? How she motivates even Chester to be a better The things I love about Liv are endless. I love how I can just look at her and "see" the wheels turning inside that head of hers, and how she will let go of any and all favorites to instead bless someone else, and how she is absolutely passionate about her friends, and the same with her roll of duct tape. I love every quirky and normal thing about her.

So, that said--I'd like to continue. Thank you for allowing me my happy tirade.

1) Liv, now that you are 7, reflect for us back to age six. What did you like best about being six?
I got a new bike. It's a Gary Fisher and it's faster than my other bike. It has a front brake and a back brake and it has gears. It's purple. I like purple a lot.

2) You have your whole 7th year in front of you. What do you think it will be like?
A whole new life. I'll be older and I'll get to do more fun things. Like....more Math subjects.

3) What will you learn as a 7-year-old?
I'll learn more about not messing up my room. My room is a teenager's room just exploded.

4) What is your favorite food?

5) What is your favorite thing to do?
Play with my sisters. They're fun to play with. They make me not lonely.

6) What would you like to be when you get older?
A mom...then I get to give my old toys to my children and I'll make food all on my own, and I'll get to play with them.

7) What's your advice to a younger person, like Holland, who will turn 6 in the next year?
It's fun to be 6 because you get to do older stuff--you get taller and get to go on better rides at the fair.

8) What do you think you can do to make a difference in this world?
Clean up! You can look around you and pick up garbage and make this world a new place. A beautiful place!

9) What do you think God wants you to learn this year?
There are friends--all around the world--for me.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Chile Relleno Casserole

My food crush with pablano peppers began the Spring of 1996. Brian and I were dating, and he took a business class at Boise State University. The assignment? Immerse yourself in a local business, critique, and draw up a suggested business plan designed to boost productivity. Lucky for me, Brian and his comrades were assigned a business and did a mighty fine job. So fine, that a local Mexican restaurant hosted a thank-you dinner. And because I was the girlfriend of one of the students, I apparently deserved to be a part of the fine dining experience.

It was an amusement park on a plate....all you can eat tacos, fajitas, and the delectable dish that will be by my side my entire life: Chile Relleno Casserole. It's incredibly loyal-- always a hit, easy and quick, and I get consistently great results. Plus, it's versatile. Not many dishes can masquerade as a breakfast, lunch, AND/OR dinner. For an elementary school parent volunteer thank-you lunch, I served it as a breakfast dish. For a baby shower lunch, I served it alongside a green taco salad. And for dinner with my fam? Alongside black beans, chicken breast or tilapia. I've even added olives, shredded chicken, and sour cream on top, and have dreamt of adding cooked fajita steak in between some of the layers.

But back to the BSU Business Thank-You Dinner: Somehow, I ended up with the recipe at the end of the night. No, there weren't any weapons involved. I did not wear a black cat suit or use infrared imaging. I simply asked for it. And SHE GAVE IT TO ME! Now, I try to remind myself that she was just giving it to me because she always gives her recipes away. But in the back of my head, I know the truth. There is no way a restaurant owner would willingly give away her number-one hit recipe without a fight. See, when Brian and I were dating in college, I looked 13 years young at best. She no doubt thought I was the kid sister and would take the scrawled scrap of paper she gave me with THE recipe, and use it to rid myself of my extra large wad of grape bubblelicious bubble gum that I was no doubt smacking too loud. And she must have thought I would never, ever own my own blog (plus, what was a blog?...remember, this is 1996 we're talking about...the word blog wasn't even coined until December 1997, folks!) Or--gasp--share it over the world wide web. I must not have looked like the culinary type, or even the domestic type. And I'm sure she didn't think I would be over-analyzing it after all these years either. :o)

What brings about this shred of honesty over my beloved Chile Relleno recipe? Our wonderful friends, The Hilty-Jones' own an organic farm and deliver boxes of beautiful, healthy, chemical-free, in-season veggies to your door for a minimal price each month. It really is a fantastic deal, and my--what a sweet and giving family. My heart skipped a beat as I gazed upon a recent crop of vegetables they had harvested: a huge box of the handsomest pablano peppers you ever did lay your eyes on, sitting in the back of our church a couple of Sundays ago and glancing at me oh-so-coyly, and I couldn't resist grabbing a bunch.

So without further adieu, I will be sharing my favorite pablano pepper recipes for you to consider in the next few weeks, starting with the one that began the obsession:

Local Mexican Restaurant (which shall remain nameless) Chile Relleno Casserole:

4-4oz cans of whole Ortega Chiles, seeds and tough veins removed (I instead purchase the 27oz. Los Palmas can of chiles from Winco. But if you were blessed like us to receive fresh pablanos, simply roast and peel and use as you do canned chiles).
2 Cups Monterey Jack Cheese
2 Cups Medium Cheddar Cheese
2 eggs
2 T. flour
12 oz. can evaporated milk
15. oz. can tomato sauce

Directions: In a 9X13 pan, layer 2 cans of the chiles, covering the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle half of the cheddar and half of the Monterey Jack cheese on top. Layer the rest of the chiles on top. Add the rest of the cheddar cheese.

In a small bowl, mix the eggs, flour, and evaporated milk together. Pour over the chile and cheese mixture. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

Finally, pour tomato sauce and sprinkle Monterey Jack cheese on top and bake 25-30 minutes more. Let sit 10 minutes before cutting. Ole'!

Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy! Oh and please do link to me and share your favorite pablano recipes! I say, I can never have enough.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Our Littlest

A.K.A. Reesie, Reester, Georgia Reese, The tea-kettle.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Xterra 2010

Once again, The Wieber family attended The 4th Annual McCall Xterra triathlon. And, although I have been a participant every year since the beginning, this year I got to sit it out. And I have to admit, I wasn't all that disappointed. I got to bundle up in comfy clothes, grab a coffee, chase kids, and cheer on the team. In fact, the most strenuous part of the whole race trip, for me, was a very loud and chaotic trip to the ladies room with 4 giggly little girls who woke up before the rooster crows, and who loved operating the hand dryer in an amazingly echo-y room. On second thought, I think it might have been a better choice to sign up for the race. I'm still weighing that one out.

We were completely blessed to stay in a beautiful cabin a mile or two away from Ponderosa Park, the race location. This completely blew away our previous expectation of camping the night before the race. Thank you Hill's for including us in your plans! We had an awesome time with their family and enjoyed an awesome dinner together.

This race in particular is a very tough triathlon and the number of participants remains rather small each year due to it's challenging course. The challenge of it makes it all the more fun. See, I can say that because I sat this one out, remember? :O) Instead of racing the whole thing this year, Brian put together a team and I must say, he chose well. Kristin was the swimmer and she totally kicked butt! (oh, is this a family blog? Did I just say butt?) Tulug was the runner, and coming back from his service in the Turkish Army the day before and driving himself and his 5 year old little girl 3 hours to get to the race while suffering from jet lag and arriving 20 minutes after the race started, he also did well. He is Brian's arch nemesis in the triathlon world and Brian has been caught, sitting in Tulug's desk chair at work, typing out the following words: "I know Brian is faster than me." OR something to that effect. The fact that Tulug agreed to be on his team shows an amazing amount of forgiveness on Tulug's part.

Here is the racer and his girls. Reese gives a toast:

Who gave Reese coffee? Here we are with Jason and Kristin's kids and everyone is still waking up, except Reese. Is this a little peek into the future? Do we have a Wieber child who will break the rule of "no getting up before 9am?" My heart feels faint.

If you've never watched a triathlon race, you need to. Just to watch the swimmers take their first leap into the water. It's emotional for me to see the racers, with hours of practice logged, jumping in together, using all their God-given strength to get to the front. I tell you, it gets me every time.

Go Kristin!

We take advantage of the in-between minutes to take a few photos (while Kristin is working hard):

Brian accidentally takes a whiff of his shoes:

He's not happy that I made that comment. But really, let's face it--those bike shoes are 12 years old. He loves those shoes like a baby loves his binky.

Kristin was one of the first women to come in. Way to go! She was nothing short of amazing.

And...he's off!

And this is Brian coming back in. Now, I know I make this race seem super short and easy by posting a picture of his return right after his departure, but trust me--this is one hard mountain bike leg.

Brian grits his teeth to finish off well.

Tulug grabs the timer and takes off.

Holland gives Daddy a congratulatory hug.

Liv gets silly.

And it's Tulug, comin' back in.

Great job team Sharhinoma! (ShaRhinoMA = Kristin the Shark, Brian the Rhino, Tulug the Puma--doesn't that give you the best picture of Brian? A rhino, crashing through the trees of Ponderosa? Love that image. :o) They got 3rd place for their co-ed relay team.

The Wieber's cool off at the McCall waterfront after the race.

Even though a storm was imminent,

we managed to have a little bit of fun before the rain started.

Liv Wieber is always, always silly. That's a promise.

The girls crash all the way home. They were completely exhausted!

Another fun Exterra, year. :o)


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