Thank Heavens for Freezer Meals


Between the changes at work and our new family of three, last week was one of those that I could have easily bailed on cooking any given night and not felt very guilty at all. The fact that I only skipped one planned meal in favor of take-out is a small victory.

Home-cooked meals from May 2-8, 2016

Home-cooked meals from May 2-8, 2016

Check out the video right here:

Monday: Sweet Potato Cake Turkey Burgers + Side Salad + Grapes
Super simple freezer meal number one–this one didn’t even need defrosting! I believe the patty recipe came from Multiply Delicious and I just subbed turkey for chicken as the former is way easier to find and frequently on sale. I also doubled the recipe to make 12 patties or 3 meals at a time. We’ll definitely be making another batch because they are just so simple to have on hand and very tasty.

Tuesday: Chicken Curry with Cabbage and Peppers + Basmati Rice
Never a bad time for a good curry, this was our first try of the recipe from Loving My Nest and I think it’s a keeper. A freezer meal, yes, but I didn’t bother with the crock pot and it was the right call–the chicken may have become mealy if it cooked all day. Now, I believe I added a can of coconut milk to the mix before I froze it and, yes, it “broke” a bit (separated) when I cooked it. Would I do it again? Maybe, maybe not. I was just trying to avoid planning this meal and forgetting to have a can of coconut milk on hand and while it affected the appearance slightly, the taste didn’t suffer one bit. And, yes, I’d definitely use coconut milk over cows milk for this curry and pretty much any curry.

Wednesday: Cod Creole + Parmesan Orzo + Green Beans
What is it with me and forgetting to actually buy the fish I put on the menu?! I stuck it out this time, though, and it was definitely worth it. Cod is not only a very milk white fish it also doesn’t tend to fish-up the house when cooked. And this preparation from Hello Spoonful is just so simple it’s hard to beat! The one brand of gluten-free orzo we can find is a love-hate thing for us. We love orzo and have many dishes that call for it, but the gluten-free version puts out so much starch while boiling that it really does resemble risotto by the end more so than plain pasta. Straining it is a joke, so I usually don’t even bother, just mixing it into whatever else I had in mind and going with the flow.

Thursday: Broiled Steak + Mexican Street Corn Salad
Mmmm, Cinco de Mayo–as if we needed an excuse to have Mexican food for dinner, but I’m happy to take it anyway. The meal was mostly about the salad, which I found over on Live Eat Learn. I could have eaten a large bowl of this salad and skipped the steak and not been deprived whatsoever–I can totally see us making it again. We did a few substitutions, though. Normally I’d swap hominy for beans in most recipes, but since we were already focusing on the corn, I opted for some zucchini and yellow squash that needed to be used from the crisper. Also, while I adore feta and cotija cheese, we had a sizeable block of white cheddar leftover from my party and I shredded that up into the salad instead. I also cooked most of the ingredients for a bit to soften the squash and peppers up. I’m sure there are endless variations one could make on this salad and not go wrong–some halved cherry tomatoes come to mind, and maybe some avocado chunks, too?

Friday: Take out!
I debated making breakfast for dinner, but my heart wasn’t in it. Instead I picked up fried chicken and fixings and enjoyed the hell out of it!

Saturday: Sweet Potato Carbonara with Spinach and Eggplant
Since Todd isn’t a mushroom fan and they’re pretty High-FODMAP to boot, I substituted eggplant for the mushrooms in this recipe from Eating Well. Even though my sweet potato “noodles” didn’t hold their shape, this was a very filling, very tasty dish overall and I would encourage you to try it, even if yours ends up a bit more like a sweet potato vegetable hash like ours did.

Sunday: Shepherd’s Pie-Stuffed Potatoes + Jicama Citrus Salad
I’m sure you’ve seen those quick-cut videos of inventive food on Facebook, right? Have you actually tried any of them out? Well, I can now say that I have and it wasn’t that bad! While I did neglect to add additional liquid to make up for the thirstyness of the coconut flour I used, everything went more or less according to plan in this recipe/video from Tip Hero. I even dug out my large star pastry tip to pipe the potatoes onto the top! The salad though, that was a disappointment since my jicama ended up well past it’s use-by date (something a little hard to tell with the leathery outside to judge by). I will attempt the salad again, though, as I really do love jicama in cold salads.

Booze tip: I totally took a short cut on the citrus salad and bought the large container of pre-sliced fruit in extra-light syrup. If you are a fan of  greyhounds (the drink, not the dog, though they are lovely dogs), save said syrup and mix with your favorite gin for an slightly sweeter version of this simple libation. Fabulous, refreshing, and super-quick.

And that’s another week’s menu! I hope you got some good ideas from what was on our plates this week and have an excellent week in your own kitchen! Remember, it doesn’t have to be “gourmet” to be good, or even great. Make what you like, mix things up a bit, get some variety in there, and enjoy your meals!

AlcoHOLidays | Mexican Independence Day | The Caliente


Raise your hands, all of you who think (thought) Cinco de Mayo was Mexico’s Independence Day.

Okay, put your hands back down.

For the record, Cinco de Mayo (May 5th) celebrates the Mexican victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Fifty-two years earlier, however, Mexico began it’s fight for independence from Spain with the “Cry of Dolores” (Dolores being a city, not a person–the actual “cry” came from a Roman Catholic Priest by the name of Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla) on September 16, 1810. Even though they would not be completely free of Spanish rule until 1821, September 16th is recognized as the National Day of Independence in Mexico.

Partida Tequila and the Caliente cocktail for Mexican Independence Day

Now that we’ve had our history lesson for the week, let’s raise our glass, once again, to independence.

Tequila Partida contacted me about the upcoming holiday and sent me some samples of their lovely, lovely tequilas. They also wondered (and I have to join them in their puzzlement) why Americans celebrate Mexican holidays (or, you know, Tuesday) with blanco tequila, when the aged reposado and anejo tequilas are the grades of choice for celebrations in Mexico.

I’ve never been a huge fan of blanco tequila (aka unaged tequila)–it’s often too harsh and lacks that wonderful warmth that I associate with a good margarita (and that would be a margarita on the rocks, none of this slushy nonsense thank you very much). True, the aging process (while adding quality) does add to the price, but for superior flavor I think it’s worth it..

I had the opportunity to sample the Partida’s blanco, reposado, and anejo tequilas and I have to say, I was surprised that I liked the blanco better than the reposado, but not at all surprised that I enjoyed the anejo even more. What’s the difference?

  • Blanco is not aged at all, but Partida’s blanco is relatively smooth, light and crisp without the hard edges the other blanco’s I’ve tasted have had.
  • Reposado, by Mexican law, must be aged a minimum of 2 months. Partida ages their for 6 months, which gives it a nice, light amber color. While I enjoyed the depth of flavor, it hadn’t smoothed out as much as I would have expected.
  • Anejo, by Mexican law, must be aged a minimum of 1 year. Again, Partida goes beyond the minimum and ages their anejo for 18 months, the outcome of which is a smooth, complex flavor and a nice, golden color. Tasting them side-by-side, even a tequila novice would be able to tell the difference in how smooth and mellow the anejo is compared to the reposado. This is what I want in my margaritas from now on.

Of course, you know me, I like my spirits best in a well-balanced cocktail, and this recipe (courtesy of Jacques Bezuidenhout and Tequila Partida) might be just the thing to add to your tequila cocktail repetoire.

The Caliente

3 chunks of fresh Pineapple
2 coins of fresh Ginger
1/4 oz Lime Juice
1/4 oz Agave Nectar*
1 1/2 oz aged Tequila (like Partida Reposado or Anejo)
1 oz Ginger Ale

In a mixing glass combine the pineapple, ginger, lime juice, and agave nectar and muddle until the ginger is broken up a bit. Fill the glass 3/4-full with ice and add the tequila. Shake like you’re keeping time with a lively mariachi band. Pour in ginger ale and swish it around to chill everything together before straining into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a piece of crystallized ginger.

Jacques will have to forgive me as I made some tweaks to the recipe–he recommends Partida Reposado, I would go with Anejo, and he used a scant 1/4 oz of ginger ale and I thought why bother if that’s all your adding? I also have you serve it in a cocktail glass where he suggests over ice in a highball. Do what you like. I liked the ginger in this cocktail, the tequila gives it a very nice flavor, but I do wish the pineapple were more foreward–it gets a bit buried under the oompf of the other flavors, so you might want to try pineapple juice instead of the ginger ale or maybe even pineapple soda!

*Agave Nectar is making quite a buzz in culinary circles, and therefore with the home gastronome as well. Most folks say it’s lower calorie but that’s not really true. What is true is that, ounce for ounce, agave nectar is sweeter than table sugar, so you can use less–IF you use less, volumetrically-speaking, then yes, it’s reducing your calories, but a gram of sugar and a gram of agave nectar both add the same amount of calories. Read those labels, though! Manufacturers have been known to stretch their agave nectar in the name of profit with high fructose corn syrup, so check that the ingredient list includes only 100% agave nectar before bringing it home.

Okay, folks, remember to go for the gold? Age before beauty? Something like that! But if you were looking for a reason to try some really good tequila this weekend, now you’ve got it!

And come back next week to find out what we’re celebrating next!

“¡Viva Mexico! ¡Viva la independencia!” 


FTC Disclaimer: I was provided samples of Partida Tequilas for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own. 

Cinco de Mayo


Ah, yes, the 5th of May. Widely remembered for an occasion to eat tons of Mexican food (cheap and filling, you can imagine the number of such restaurants and how busy they get when you’re in a college town!), drink Corona and Dos Equis and, of course, margaritas. Margaritas whose defining ingredient is tequila.

(It also has something to do with the Mexicans defeating the invading French in 1862, but you don’t hear much about that, really. Though it’s amusing to note that a local French restaurant is hosting their own Cinco de Mayo celebration… irony or no?)

As much as I love cocktails (including the margarita–on the rocks with salt, please) I’m not much for drinking hard liqueur straight. On our recent (January, 09) cruise to various places in Mexico, we stopped in at the Tequileria shop in Costa Maya which offers free tastings. I really figured this shop would be lost on me and that it was time to head to the next jewelry store, instead, until some pretty, frosted bottles with pastel liquids inside caught my eye.

Hello, Tequipal. This blend of blue agave tequila, cream and fruit is really very nice served chilled in cordial glasses. I tasted the strawberry and coconut in the shop and liked it enough to purchase the sampler box of 4 small bottles (200 mL each of mango, coconut, strawberry and coffee) for $40 US. Unfortunately it seems like US availability is tough to find, but if you  happen to find yourself in Costa Maya or a similar Mexican port, be on the lookout for this lovely take on a national staple.