I'm just a busy wife and mom who loves to cook (and hates to clean up afterward), balancing the many hats I wear and trying to look cool, calm, and collected while doing it...

Oh, and I rarely measure anything when I cook, so consider yourself warned. Love good food. Try new things. Eat to your heart's content.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Green Chile Cheese Rice


It's a very rare thing when we don't travel to various members of the family for a holiday. We almost always go to my Aunt and Uncle's in Ojai, Ca. for every holiday, and now that my parents are pretty much moved in and living at their new place up there in Ojai (The very first house my grandparents bought when they were first married, about 3 hours from us), we'll be going there to stay with them for many holidays from now on as well.

Today was one of those rare occasions when we were actually home for Easter. It's always a weird thing not being in a house full of cousins and cousin's cousins, and not helping out where we can with cooking, and cleanup.

Instead I did most of the cooking (which I don't mind at all).

My parents did come down from their new-to-them home for the week to visit, and work on their house down here to get ready to sell, and I tried to keep the menu (if you can call it that) as much like our usual Easter dinner at my Aunt and Uncle's as possible.

One dish that we always have had at EVERY major holiday gathering, for as long as I can remember, is what we simply call Chile Cheese Rice. And it's pretty much exactly that.

Simple, easy and delicious, this was one of my Grandpa George's favorite dishes, which was passed on from his cousin's wife, and is why we've carried on the tradition of having it for Christmas and Easter, and even some birthdays, for many years, and I'm sure many years to come.

And, as for the clean up part of today.... well... maybe the dish fairy will visit in the middle of the night? Or maybe the Easter Bunny will take pity on our poor kitchen, and come back?

Or, maybe, just maybe, I can convince my husband to do a few dishes??

Though really, the first two ideas are more likely to happen than my husband doing dishes...

Chile Cheese Rice

16 Oz. Sour Cream (I sometimes add a little more, just because I feel like it)
2  4 Oz. Cans Fire Roasted Mild Green Chiles
Salt and Pepper
4 Cups Cooked Rice (white or brown work fine)
3-4 Cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese (Cheddar/Jack works fine too)

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine the sour cream and green chiles, and a little salt and pepper in a small-ish mixing bowl.

In a large covered casserole dish, layer 1/3 of the rice, 1/3 of the sour cream-chile mixture, then 1/3 of the cheese. Repeat with each layer two more times, making sure the cheese layer is last on top.

Bake covered for 20-25 minutes. Then uncover and bake another 10 minutes or so, until the cheese is bubbly, and maybe even starts to brown around the edges.

This serves at least 8-10 people. And it's great for potlucks as well.

It's that easy, and so yummy.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Gnocchi with Bacon, Tomatoes, and Kale

Don't mind my crappy counter tops...

I've been so busy with nurturing my newest geek-mom blog, I've hardly been here to post. It's been months! I'm so sorry for the neglect!

So, I'm not sure how many of you out there subscribe to the Food Network Magazine, but in our house, it's one of our favorites! We love the way the recipes are laid out and easy to find, not to mention actually do-able, unlike other cooking magazines (I'm lookin' at you Bon Appetit!).

This recipe is one I got from the most recent issue of Food Network Magazine, only I added to it, and put my own spin on things, like I usually do with recipes.

Of course, my four year old hardly tried it, since it didn't look like pizza or a hamburger.

My eight year old, however, really liked it, even though it had the dreaded "green stuff".... Kale!! She ate it all. Even though she's still complaining that I made her eat kale. Two. Hours. Later.

This recipe seems fancy, so you could serve it at a dinner party, but it's also easy enough to throw together, and would even be great for potlucks.

It's hearty, somewhat quick/easy, and pretty cheap (about $3/serving).

And gnocchi (pronounced nyo-key) is fun to say.

Gnocchi with Bacon, Tomatoes, and Kale
3-4 Tbsp. Olive Oil
3 Strips Thick Cut Bacon, cut into 1/8-1/4 inch bits
1/2 Onion, diced
3/4 Bag Pre-Washed, Pre-Cut Kale (I get mine at Trader Joe's, but Costco sells it too. Or about 4-5 cups hand chopped kale)
2 Packages Potato Gnocchi
2 Cup. Cherry Tomatoes, cut in half (Plus a drizzle of Olive Oil for roasting)
3/4 cup Fresh Grated Parmesan-Romano Cheese
1/3 Cup Fat Free Half and Half
Salt and Pepper
Preheat your oven to 425. Toss your cherry tomatoes with a drizzle of olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and fresh pepper. Roast for about 10-12 minutes, until tomatoes are soft and starting to brown on the edges. Remove from oven and set aside. (You don't have to roast the tomatoes if you don't have time, or just don't feel like it. It just adds to the flavor of the dish when they're roasted. If you choose not to, just add the halved tomatoes right before the gnocchi to make sure they cook through.)
At the same time the tomatoes are cooking, bring a large stockpot of salted water to a boil, like you would for noodles. When it comes to a boil, add the gnocchi. When they float to the surface, cook them for another 4-5 minutes. The package will have different directions, but they never come out done enough for us, so I always cook them a tad longer. but if you like 'em firmer, cook according to the directions.
While those things are going (there's a bit of multi-tasking going on here, I know... but I believe in you!), you can heat the olive oil in a large skillet, and add the bacon. Cook the bacon until it is well browned and crispy.
Add the onions and cook then until they're tender and translucent.
Add the chopped kale, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until the kale is completely wilted and soft.
Stir in the roasted cherry tomatoes.
The gnocchi should be done now. Carefully scoop it out of the pot with a spider (The cooking tool. Not the arachnid.) or a slotted spoon. Add about 3/4 cup of the gnocchi water (this sounds odd, but trust me. It makes for a great sauce base.).
Stir it together.
Add the Parmesan-Romano cheese and the half and half, and more salt and pepper if needed. Heat until thickened, about 3-4 minutes more.
Serve with more Parmesan-Romano, and maybe even a little crushed red pepper flake if you want to spice it up, sprinkled on top.
This makes about 6 hearty servings.