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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Chicken Fajitas

A few weeks ago, I made some homemade salsa and it was pretty delicious.  I had plenty of chicken in the freezer so I decided to make some chicken fajitas the following day.  The next morning, I made my own tortillas since they don't sell them here in Angola (and homemade is so much better).  I had some awesome black beans in the freezer that I'd made a few weeks ago, so I defrosted them and made some rice. This turned out to be a really great dinner and I did a lot of work ahead of time so dinner prep didn't take that long that evening.

2 tablespoons oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1-1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder

1-1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into thin strips
2 tablespoons oil
1 green pepper
1 large onion,  chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
toppings - Shredded cheese, salsa, guacamole, sour cream, etc

Combine marinade ingredients and place in a large releasable bag.  Add chicken and turn to fully coat. Marinate 4 hours- overnight. Overnight is really best, if you can swing it.

In a large cast iron skillet, saute peppers and onions in oil until crisp-tender. Remove with slotted spoon.
Remove chicken from marinade.and add to the  same skillet, cook chicken over medium-high heat for 5-6 minutes or until no longer pink. Return pepper/onion mixture to pan; heat through.
Spoon into tortillas and serve along with your favorite fajita toppings.

Friday, November 21, 2014

A different kind of post - Losing my dad and cooking

My dad passed away a couple weeks ago.  So with a broken heart, I hopped on a plane and left Angola and headed for my parents home in Florida.  I stayed with my mom for two weeks and I did most of the cooking during that time.  The cooking was sad and therapeutic and necessary.  Every time I cooked, I just kept thinking that if I turned around quickly enough, my dad would be there - sitting on his bar stool, watching me work.  My dad loved to cook and eat.  We could (and frequently did) talk about cooking for hours.  I loved coming home for a visit and cooking a meal that pleased my dad.  He was an amazing cook, so the food had to be top notch to get a nod of approval from him.  He has frequently said that he wouldn't return to a certain restaurant because he could do a much better job at home. And he was right.

So, as I mourned my father and tried to get through each moment of sadness, I cooked for my mom. And my dad.  As I tasted the food and adjusted the seasonings, I imagined my dad and what he would think of my meals.  I imagined his smile and look of approval as I cooked for my mom during this terrible time.  I could almost see the smile reach his eyes as he nodded and told me what a great meal I'd made and what a good daughter I was being by taking care of my mom.  

My heart aches knowing that I will never see my dad again on this earth.  I won't have anymore conversations with him about food and cooking.  I won't be able to ask his opinion on cooking techniques or ingredients.  I won't be able to taste his delicious cooking, nor he mine. Don't get me wrong, there are lots of other things that I will miss about my dad but cooking was something special that we shared.  And the hole left in my heart by his absence will never be filled.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, 
and let perpetual light shine upon him. 
May he rest in peace.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Fresh Tomato Salsa

Finding nice tomatoes here are not always easy.  Last week, I actually found several beautiful tomatoes!!   I decided to make some fresh tomato salsa since I've been craving it lately.  Here is what I came up with.  Enjoy.

3 cups chopped tomatoes
 1 green bell pepper, diced
 1 onion, diced
1 garlic clove, diced
1 tablespoon jalapeño pepper, diced (optional) *
 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
 Juice of 2  limes
 1-1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh jalapeno pepper (use seeds if you want it spicier)
 1 teaspoon ground cumin
 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Serve and enjoy!

*If you don't like spicy salsa, you can either leave the jalapeño out or use less or leave out the seeds.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Flour Tortillas

When I first moved here, I met a lovely lady who made the best tortillas I've ever eaten.  She promised to show me how to make them (in return for teaching her how to make my German Chocolate Pecan Pie).  It was a great evening and I learned her method and recipe for the tortillas.  Kind of.  Now, her 'recipe' consists of 'a little of this and a lot of this', etc.    Anyways, I have tried recreating the tortillas a few times and think I have a good replica of her tortillas.

2 cup flour 
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1  teaspoon salt
1 oz shortening
1/2 cup warm water 

Mix together and add warm water. Dough should not be sticky. Sometimes, you will need to add a little more water, depending on your flour.  Knead it for a few minutes. Cover the dough in a  light coating of shortening and rest for about 20-30 mins. Make golf ball size pieces of dough. Flatten and round slightly on bottom. 

Give them each a light coating shortening. Let them rest 10 mins. Dip the dough discs in flour (both sides fully covered) then roll out into thin circle. Stretch gently by hand afterwards. 

Heat over med heat in a cast iron skillet until a few bubbles form. Flip and repeat. 

Place inside clean kitchen towel to cool. If not eating immediately, place (kitchen towel wrapped) tortillas inside a plastic bag.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Photos from Luanda (September/October)

lunch on the water

Kwanza River

Beach football game
Roadside haircut in progress


old tank left over from the war
gorgeous trees that are all over the place

roadside market

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Checking out Luanda - the Fort and some great views of the city

These pictures are from our recent visit to the Fort of Sao Miguel.  It sits high on a hill and probably has the best views  of Luanda.  There are also some gorgeous ceramic tiles (that I took tons of pictures of but will only force you to look at a few of them) in one of the buildings there that tell the history of Angola.  It was a great trip!

Lots of cranes...there is a ton of building happening here

My daughter was drawing her pictures of our trip.  She said this one was a zoomed in pic.

posing with the statues

Friday, August 22, 2014

Crispy Garbanzo Beans, the perfect snack

These things are so good!  They make a great, healthy snack food.  Oh, and they are easy and have very few ingredients. The seasonings can be changed to just about anything.  I've listed what I used today but I've made them with curry powder, cumin, and just salt and pepper. I've heard of people making them with cinnamon but I haven't tried that yet. This can easily be doubled (just make sure your baking pan is big enough for a single layer)

1 can of garbanzo beans
1 tablespoon olive oil
Big drizzle of worcestershire sauce
garlic powder
sea salt 
ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Drain and throughly rinse the garbanzo beans.  Lay them out and dry with paper towels.  Place on a single layer on a baking sheet and drizzle with oil, worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Mix around with your hands until everything is thoroughly coated.  Roast until crispy.  In my oven it took about 45 minutes.  You want them crispy but if you leave them too long, they will burn.  So start checking them at about the 30 minute point and keep a close eye on them. Also, shake the pan every 15 minutes or so to help them cook evenly.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Bourbon Salted Caramel Sauce

Ok, this is so easy and so delicious that you should go make some right now.  It can be used on ice cream, in your coffee, drizzled on a banana, etc.

1 cup sugar
5 tablespoons bourbon
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Heat sugar and bourbon and stir until it starts to boil.  Once it starts boiling, do not stir it anymore.  You should swirl the pan around frequently and brush the sides down with a wet pastry brush to keep the sugar from crystalizing on the sides of the pot.  Let it boil (and continue to swirl) for 8-10 minutes  until it is nice and dark brown.  Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly then add the vanilla.  Let cool then refrigerate.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Chicken Egg Cups

This is a super easy, quick, yummy breakfast!  There is lots of room to improvise, so it can be tailored to your tastes.  Here is how I made mine today -

Deli meat (I used chicken)
eggs (one per chicken slice)
cheese (I used mozzarella)
other seasonings (I used Greek seasoning)
other cooked veggies

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a muffin tin. Line each with a slice of deli meat.  If you are using thin slices, you may need two slices each.  If you want to saute some onions, peppers, garlic, or other veggies, sauté them then place on top of the meat.  Sprinkle with cheese.  Next add the eggs.  You can do this by either cracking eggs directly into each cup or you can whisk them in a bowl and pour on top (depending if you want the eggs scrambled).  I use one egg per muffin. Add salt, pepper and other seasonings to each cup. Bake for about 15 mins.  If you want the eggs slightly runny, check them at 12 minutes.

That's it!  You can change the cheese, the meat, the seasonings.  These taste really good!  Enjoy!


All recipes are on Petitchef