Fiesta Pork Stew and the best Goya Rice ever

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As my new husband MTT and I try to save money for a down payment on a place to live, I find myself more conscious of the prices in the grocery store.

This is strange for me because my usual fascination with the grocery store, other than my love of cooking, is the ability to buy anything in the store. Even if it’s expensive for what it is, you can buy it. Do you *need* an eight dollar bottle of fancy jam? No. But will eight dollars make or break you? Probably not. So, one time, if on a whim you decide to go for it, you can.

That was my philosophy anyway.

Now, I realize that every dollar counts and it all adds up. So the meat I buy may more frequently be the meat on sale.

This week, there was a good deal on pork stew meat. MTT doesn’t love pork, but he loves Mexican flavors. So I decided to cook sliced bell peppers, onions and pork in a flavorful Mexican marinade and served it with a side of rice cooked with Goya Sazon. MTT thinks it’s the best rice he’s ever had

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After two strikes, I finally swing it out of the park…

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Today was the first full day that both MTT and I had off from work and I was very much looking forward to a lazy day just enjoying each others’ company…and…in my head this includes three awesome meals that I would make and lots of excitement on the part of MTT.

There were more than a few wrinkles in this plan…

First, my creativity interfered with breakfast. I decided to make eggs over easy served on toast with melted cheddar. That alone would have been fine. But somehow my head thought “I have guacamole in the fridge, MTT loves guacamole, maybe I can spread some on one of the pieces of toast and that will elevate the meal. Big mistake. Huge. I learned from MTT that guacamole is not a spread, and the idea was just a little weird.

Strike one.

For lunch, I thought, ok, play it safe. He loves chicken Caesar salad, so just make a wrap. Except my chicken was very cold from the fridge so I warmed it in the microwave. Apparently, that made for a wilted salad and the combo of warm chicken and cold Caesar dressing turned MTT‘s stomach so much that he couldn’t really eat his meal and was too turned off to let me make him something else.

Strike two.

Add to that a little funk in MTT‘s mood due to a chronic issue in our relationship that we usually just ignore but occasionally cannot…this day is just not going the way I envisioned.

My one last chance to do one thing right on this day was dinner. I think, Mexican. It’s the one thing that MTT will always like.

So I make fajita style chicken and veggies (that I had been marinating since noon) served with flavored rice, with many condiments, MTT loves condiments. Salsa verde, pico de gallo, sour cream.

At least dinner was a hit.

I even did dishes to try to score some brownie points. I don’t think I got brownie points but at least I tried.

And I made vanilla milkshakes for dessert from Edy’s slow churned ice cream and skim milk…delicious for a “diet dessert”

Since the day ended with a slight improvement, I hold out hope that tomorrow will be better. 🙂

Red meat and smoothies…the Indian way

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So there was a “sale” on boneless lamb…in NY that means 10 dollars a pound…but every once in a while it is a nice change of pace…and a good way for me to get some red meat in…(not that one strives to add red meat to their diet or anything 🙂 )

A nice lamb curry served with rice and pita was a robust dinner perfect for a lazy Saturday at home…and a good excuse for MTT to eat the leftover tzatziki from lunch!

A hearty dinner like that just begs for something sweet after…but in line with my attempts to keep it relatively healthy I decided to opt for a fruit-based dessert — mango lassi made with fat free yogurt and Splenda. Satisfying the sweet tooth without refined sugar or butter is as good as we can do tonight 🙂

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Worth All the Dirty Dishes: A South Asian Adventure

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Two days ago, I decided it was time to go back to my Indian roots. So, I mixed up a malai marinade (yogurt and spices) in a bowl, added some chicken breast tenderloins, and put the covered bowl away in the fridge for two days.

Yesterday, I thought fondly of the chicken marinating in my fridge and started the next step of preparation: I soaked some rice in water.

Today, I was finally ready to make my meal.

Indian cooking is very simple, though it can require some preparation. Over the years, I’ve watched my mom make quite a few meals like this. Sure, you can marinate chicken right before you cook it and boil rice without the pre-soak. But when you plan ahead you can really elevate the meal.

The Indian tradition of yogurt marinades was referenced recently in Top Chef Masters when the acclaimed chefs were asked to contribute to an Indian Buffet…without the proper ingredients of course. Anyway, the eliminated contestant actually made an “Indian-Spiced Chicken” whose most salient critique was “it wasn’t marinated in yogurt….one of the strengths of Indian cooking is using a yogurt marinade always makes Indian chicken so tender and flavorful…” I felt a sense of pride at that critique; as the most frequently cooked meat in my kitchen, I relish the idea of making chicken soft and tasty.

The perfect accompaniments to this malai chicken is a nice spicy rice pilaf and MTT’s favorite: raita.

Raita is a yogurt side spiced with roasted cumin and other items per personal preference. Today’s went with dill and paprika. I also added tons of grated cucumber like my mom always did when I was little. MTT loves raita. So much so that the man can out away almost an entire container-full. In fact, we discovered his lactose intolerance through his love for raita, because he needs to down a lactaid before he can eat it to his heart’s content.

I served this meal with some lightly sautéed red onions and lemon…a very Indian thing to do indeed.

As we ate dinner, I looked over to MTT and said… “I’m sorry about all the dishes tonight…”. Like a good sport, MTT replied “This food is worth it!”

I asked if he wanted some Rooh Aftza for dessert (more on this later…but suffice it to say it’s a very Indian, summery drink). MTT replied “no, tonight is more of a frappucino kind of night…there are so many dishes, might as well use the blender too!”

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