Saturday, August 26, 2017

Ellie's Kitchen: Martha Stewart's Ropa Vieja

I'm not a die-hard Martha Stewart fan...in fact I don't actually recall reading her magazine anywhere but at the dentist's office. So why did I feel the need to pick up the issue I saw at the grocery store? Absolutely for the promise of the ropa vieja recipe.

Who doesn't love the smell of  slow-cooked beef stew? Because this is a slow-cooker recipe, I'm able to toss everything together and left it quietly do it's thing, slowly filling the house with deliciousness while I scrub the bathroom (no fun but entirely necessary).

I am not ashamed to admit that most of Martha Stewart's recipes are over my head. I'm a home-cook, not  an uber-cook. (That title belongs to my sister who has a degree in culinary arts and has worked in amazing places like Wales and Cape Cod. For those of you home-cooks who can whip up a Martha recipe with one hand stirring and the other guiding you young reader across the page, I totally salute you. Please excuse me while I wallow in my inadequacy and let my slow cooker do all the work.



Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds flank steak
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, cut into thick slices
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut into thick slices
  • 3 large cloves garlic, cut into thin slices
  • 1 jalapeno (ribs and seeds removed for less heat, if desired), cut into thin slices
  • 1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup small Spanish olives
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained, plus 1 tablespoon brine
  • Fresh cilantro leaves, for serving
  • Cooked white rice, for serving (I made  pot of coconut rice. So tastie)

Directions

  1. Preheat a 5-to-6-quart slow cooker. Season steak generously with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over high. Add steak and cook until browned on both sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker.
  2. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to skillet. Add onions, bell pepper, garlic, jalapeno, and cumin seeds; season with salt and pepper and cook until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste; cook 2 minutes more. Add tomatoes and bring to a boil. Pour mixture over steak in slow cooker; cover and cook on high until very tender, 5 hours (or on low 10 hours).
  3. Transfer steak to a platter; cut in half crosswise. Using two forks, shred meat. Transfer sauce to skillet; cook over high heat until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in shredded meat, olives, and capers with brine; cook just until heated through, 2 minutes more. Top with cilantro and serve with rice.
  slow cooker root ropa vieja

 http://www.marthastewart.com/1519681/slow-cooker-ropa-vieja

Monday, August 7, 2017

Library Loot

     A promotion at work has thrown my writing schedule into a tailspin, so the only logical thing to do was to apply to the American Women's College at Bay Path University for fall classes. Makes perfect sense, really.
     I have until September 4 to cram in as much of my 'for me' reading as I can, and I've been doing my best. Many of my latest reads were amazing books, ones I feel I should have shared here in Ellie's Home, and I may spend some time this weekend doing a retro-review. In the meantime, here are two books I have coming up (they are currently 'In Transit' according to my library account)


Milk and Honey
by
     
milk and honey is a collection of poetry and prose about survival. It is about the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. It is split into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose, deals with a different pain, heals a different heartache. milk and honey takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look.
 Image result for milk and honey  This book has been on the NY Times Bestseller list for 67 weeks, and still holding steady. A coworker and her daughter read it, and have said it is phenomenal. Can't wait to see for myself.

 We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled: Voices from Syria
     
Reminiscent of the work of Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich, an astonishing collection of intimate wartime testimonies and poetic fragments from a cross-section of Syrians whose lives have been transformed by revolution, war, and flight.

Against the backdrop of the wave of demonstrations known as the Arab Spring, in 2011 hundreds of thousands of Syrians took to the streets demanding freedom, democracy and human rights. The government’s ferocious response, and the refusal of the demonstrators to back down, sparked a brutal civil war that over the past five years has escalated into the worst humanitarian catastrophe of our times.

Yet despite all the reporting, the video, and the wrenching photography, the stories of ordinary Syrians remain unheard, while the stories told about them have been distorted by broad brush dread and political expediency. This fierce and poignant collection changes that. Based on interviews with hundreds of displaced Syrians conducted over four years across the Middle East and Europe, We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled is a breathtaking mosaic of first-hand testimonials from the frontlines. Some of the testimonies are several pages long, eloquent narratives that could stand alone as short stories; others are only a few sentences, poetic and aphoristic. Together, they cohere into an unforgettable chronicle that is not only a testament to the power of storytelling but to the strength of those who face darkness with hope, courage, and moral conviction.
Image result for we crossed a bridge and it trembled voices from syria Twenty-six of the 29 reviews of this book on Goodreads were 5-star; two were 4-star, and one 3-star, with a note stating that the 3-star rating was for the writing style, not the book content. The world has witnessed the struggles and nightmare lives of the Syrian people; their stories are a reminder to us that humanity has strengths we can't begin to realize. I am very much looking forward to reading this book, though I expect it will break my heart.


(All book descriptions taken from Goodreads.com)

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Ellie's Kitchen: Watermelon, Tuna and Feta Salad

     I made something both odd and amazing for dinner last night. Due to incoming thunderstorms, last night was hot, muggy, wet, sticky, one of those nights where ice cream sounds like a fabulous dinner. Being lactose intolerant and trying to lose some extra pounds, ice cream wasn't an option. (Well, not for me, anyway. The boys gladly would have partaken, I'm sure.) Perusing those handy magazines that Stop & Shop hands out, I came across a salad that looked good on paper, anyway. The fridge had enough leftovers where a disaster could be circumvented (and I live around the corner from a pizza joint.) The result? The two little boys made barfing sounds as soon as I put it on the table; my oldest son that hates tuna had 2 helpings and took the remaining leftovers to work for dinner, and the husband, that said it smelled great but looked weird also had 2 helpings. Verdict? Watermelon, Tuna, and Feta Salad is a hit. (Oldest boy also asked that the recipe be copied into his cookbook for future dinners.)


Watermelon, Tuna, and Feta Salad


 Ingredients:
1 lg. cucumber
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 (5 oz) cans water-packed tuna (I bought a 12 oz. can)
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 (10 oz) pkg watermelon chunks
1 (.75 oz) pkg basil
1/2 cup Kalamata olives
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 lemon

Directions:

  1. Halve the cucumber lengthwise and cut into slices. In a bowl, toss the cucumber with the vinegar. Season with salt (in moderation) and pepper to taste. Let marinade for 10 minutes.
  2. Drain the tuna and flake it with a fork. Drizzle it with1.5 tablespoons of olive oil, and season with pepper. Cut the watermelon chunks into smaller cubes. Remove stems from the basil and add it to the cucumbers. Next add the tuna, watermelon, olives, and feta. Drizzle the remaining half tablespoon of olive oil on the salad, and add the juice from the lemon. Toss and season to taste. Enjoy!
Watermelon, Tuna, and Feta Salad
serves 4
269 calories per serving

Ingredients:
1 cucumber
1 red onion
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 (5 oz) cans water-packed tuna
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 (10 oz) pkg watermelon chunks
1 (.75 oz) pkg basil
1/2 cup Kalamata olives
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 lemon

Directions:

  1. Halve the cucumber lengthwise and cut into slices. Halve and slice the onion. In a bowl, mix the cucumber and onion with the vinegar. Season with salt (in moderation) and pepper to taste. Let marinade for 10 minutes.
  2. Drain the tuna and flake it with a fork. Drizzle it with1.5 tablespoons of olive oil, and season with pepper. Cut the watermelon chunks into smaller cubes. Remove stems from the basil and add it to the cucumbers and onions. Next add the tuna, watermelon, olives, and feta. Drizzle the remaining half tablespoon of olive oil on the salad, and add the juice from the lemon. Toss and season to taste. Enjoy!
Image result for watermelon and feta salad with tuna


This article is sponsored by Giant Food.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Carrying On

     Hello and Happy Tuesday! I've been long away: computer issues and then wireless issues have kept me blocked (and increasingly frustrated.) The wireless issues haven't been resolved; I'm pirating a signal (in the most appreciative way possible, I assure you.)


     Much has changed in the last two months here in Ellie's Home. I received a promotion at work, and am working to learn the ins and outs of management and how to best meet the needs of the people I work for. My hours are different, and that has led to changes in home routines, and for my seven year old some of those changes have been rather difficult. Some days Momma didn't get home until after dinner, and there's just enough time to read a book, then he's getting ready for bed. He's used to seeing me for far longer. Usually I pick him up from the sitter's, then we go home, and while he's playing he's in and out of the kitchen checking up on me as I make dinner. His father is home with him when I'm not, and the two of them are best buds, so Little Bit certainly has the attention he needs and wants. But as my husband says, there's nothing quite like having Momma home, and our boy agrees with a giant bear hug.
     More and more I find myself trying to balance everything, and have come to accept that some things just have to fall by the wayside, and maybe not getting into college for this coming fall isn't such a bad thing after all. (There's always next year!) I used to think success was measured by how much I could get done in an allotted amount of time, and while that might be a contributing factor, I now believe that success is truly measured by how well I am taking care of my family amid all of our lifestyle changes.
    Yesterday I left work an hour early so I could take my oldest son to get his new car insured; next up is registration. (My god, I can't believe he's old enough to drive.) This weekend I'm taking my daughter shopping for a graduation dress. (My god, I can't believe she's old enough to graduate.) Somewhere in between my regular work hours, the 40-minute drives to and from work, and these few extra trips I also need to schedule doctors' and dentists' appointments, haircuts, figure out what Little Bit is doing this summer (new work hours mean Momma can't bring him to day camp, and Big Brother is working full-time...), get a garden planted, and try to get back on my housekeeping schedule, because my entire house, not just the living room, looks like a bomb went off. It's scary, not to mention disheartening.
     I need to remind myself of the words of the mystic Julian of Norwich, and continue to carry on as best I can. I share her words here, so if you too are struggling to be, oh, everything, you can read them, take a breath, and realize you really are on the right track after all.


'All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.'


~ Many blessings ~

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Seeded With Potential from Living the Wheel, a SageWoman Blog

Seeded With Potential: My seed catalogs have started to arrive in the mail. The glossy summer-bright photos are inspiring and awe-inducing (Moon and Stars Melons! Nebraska Wedding Tomatoes!), and also humbling. Each packet of seeds contains worlds of potential What in this universe holds more promise than a seed? Each tiny package is a life in stasis. Every seed on this ...

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Ah, Tuesdays....

     I love my Tuesdays off. I like my job very much, don't get me wrong. I work with some great people who are doing great things for others. But Tuesday is all mine to do (or not do) whatever I wish. Or it would be, if I actually used some of the tips and trick I read about in other blogs and share with all of you. Case in point: I have a college application to finish, an article for SageWoman due (It's Imbolc eve, and guess how much I have done for this festival?) and a refrigerator that is beginning to resemble the Ross Ice Shelf. (Empty frozen waste...) Oh, wait, it's not quite empty. Leftover chicken, and leftover pasta. Mmm. How the heck does Ellie turn this into a meal? Hello Google!

Dinner at the zoo.com (http://www.dinneratthezoo.com) suggests Butternut Squash Pasta with Chicken. And I just happen to have a butternut squash looking at me from a shelf across the way. (And yes, it is looking at me. Bubbah and I did a re-enactment of one of our favorite books, Sophie's Squash, so this particular squash has a face. Sorry Mr. Squash. You're dinner.)

So here you are, Butternut Squash Pasta with Chicken, courtesy of Dinner at the Zoo. (Why don't I ever come up with yummy-looking stuff like this??)  I will be heating the chicken I have in my fridge, and making up a box of pasta to add to what I already have (which is good, as I need some starchy water for the sauce). And as Mr. Squash is whole, I'm going to cut mine in half (I sound like I'm plotting a murder) and roast it before pureeing. Wish me luck!
This recipe for butternut squash pasta is linguine in a creamy butternut squash sauce, topped with chicken, bacon and herbs. An easy and delicious dinner that's perfect for fall! #FamilyPastaTime #ad

 Butternut Squash Pasta with Chicken

This recipe for butternut squash pasta is linguine in a creamy butternut squash sauce, topped with sliced chicken and bacon. An easy and delicious dinner that's perfect for fall!
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 598 kcal
Author Dinner at the Zoo

Ingredients

  • 10 ounces dry linguine pasta
  • 1 pound of cooked chicken breasts (grilled, roasted, rotisserie, etc), sliced
  • 1/2 cup cooked crumbled bacon
  • 1 1/2 cups butternut squash puree (fresh frozen or canned). If using frozen puree, thaw before use.
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
Instructions
  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil; prepare the pasta according to package instructions, cooked to al dente.
  2. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid, and return it to its cooking pot.
  3. Place the pot over medium heat and add the butternut squash puree, heavy cream, Parmesan cheese. Stir to coat the pasta evenly; season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce is heated through and is starting to thicken.
  5. If you prefer a thinner sauce, add the cooking liquid, one tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.
  6. Arrange the chicken and bacon over the top of the pasta and sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

To make fresh butternut squash puree, steam 2 cups cubed peeled squash until tender then puree in a food processor with 2 tablespoons water. Season with salt to taste.
Nutrition Facts
Butternut Squash Pasta with Chicken
Amount Per Serving
Calories 598 Calories from Fat 153
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 17g 26%
Saturated Fat 7g 35%
Cholesterol 45mg 15%
Sodium 422mg 18%
Total Carbohydrates 58g 19%
Dietary Fiber 4g 16%
Sugars 2g
Protein 48g 96%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
 
 http://www.dinneratthezoo.com/butternut-squash-pasta/