Turkey & Bacon with Pickled Onions

Here’s one of the sandwiches I made with my pickled onions. First, I applied a thin layer of mayo on one side of my sourdough wheat bread and a thin layer of plain yellow mustard on the other. Beginning from the bottom up I used turkey breast, pickled onions, tomato, red leaf lettuce, and bacon. Also, I cracked some black pepper on top of the turkey. I think that lightly seasoning your sandwich with salt and pepper is extremely important for delicious sandwiches. I did not, however, apply salt this time because of the saltiness of the bacon… mmm bacon.


Quick Pickled Onion

I’ve been wanting to pickle some red onion for a while now and finally got around to doing it. Pickled red onion is incredible on sandwiches, burgers, and many other things. They’re great for onion-lovers and even better for those who aren’t crazy about onions because they are so mild and sweet. Once pickled, the strong, eye-tearing, overwhelming after-taste is completely gone and you’re left with a sweet and somewhat acidic mild onion flavor.

To make some quick pickled onion, combine ½ cup apple cider vinegar, 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and 1 tablespoon of white granulated sugar in a medium bowl. Stir the mixture until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Next, add ½ of a red onion that has been thinly sliced, stir, and cover. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for a few hours before serving. The mixture can be stored in the fridge.

I’m not sure exactly how long it lasts, since I pretty much finished mine four days after I made it. Three hours after pickling the onions they were excellent on top of a burger with some shredded lettuce, mayo and pickles cubed into small pieces. The next few days I tried them on a sandwich and bagel and they were even better. If you would like to make a not as quick but still somewhat quick pickled onion, thinly slice one whole red onion and add one cup of water to the liquid mixture before stirring in the onion. Pour this mixture into a jar, chill, and enjoy as early as the next day and as late as who knows when… maybe someone can figure that out for me.


Julie’s Pasta Sauce

When you make your own pasta sauce, a simple spaghetti dinner night is transformed into something far more appealing. This sauce is so simple and so tasty: bright, sweet, and with a lovely toasted earthy flavor. I also love that the sauce remains bright red in color.

Usually when I make my own sauce it’s a simple Marinara. I sweat out garlic and onions with some Italian herbs, then, I reduce a little red wine and add peeled, crushed tomatoes with salt and sugar. However, this week when I decided to make spaghetti for dinner, I called my fiancé’s mom Julie, to find out how she makes her amazing sauce. I love Julie’s sauce for many reasons but what really stands out is it’s brightness in flavor. The sauce has a tang similar to the brightness of citrus but without the sourness. I was surprised to find out how incredibly simple it is to make it.

Start by toasting 8 or 9 cloves of garlic, as described in my Toasted Garlic post. After your garlic is toasted, add a large can of peeled, crushed tomatoes (Julie recommends Hunt’s) and a pinch of salt. This sauce does not need to be simmered over time, just warmed. After everything is stirred together it is as good as it will be the next day.

It was funny to think back to when I didn’t know what was in Julie’s sauce, because I would have guessed it was more complex than it is. However, the toasted garlic and the olive oil give it a perfect complexity of flavor. For those of you who are not the biggest garlic fans, I would still try this sauce. The garlic flavor is very present, but it’s not overwhelming.


Toasted Garlic

I’ve toasted so much garlic, usually in butter for my mashed potatoes, that I am well aware of the dangers of burning it. Here’s my number one tip: don’t walk away from the garlic as it cooks, and stir it almost constantly. To get started for a Marinara sauce, put about 3 healthy tablespoons of a good extra virgin olive oil into a skillet on medium to medium-low heat, depending on the stove. Next, add enough finely chopped garlic to mostly cover the bottom of the skillet. I used about 8 or 9 cloves of garlic, which is good for a large pot of pasta sauce or a family-sized serving of mashed potatoes. I was using kind of a large skillet in this picture, so my garlic didn’t completely cover the bottom. Just be sure to spread your garlic out on the bottom of the skillet, so that it all cooks evenly. The garlic needs to be toasted until it is a light golden brown, as shown in this picture. It’s very easy to burn your garlic, and once it turns a medium to dark brown it becomes bitter and will ruin your meal.

Check back tomorrow for a simple pasta sauce recipe using toasted garlic, it’s one of my favorites!


Vegan Chili Palmer

I just realized that I had to let you know one way to make your chili (or my chili) super awesomely vegan! All you have to do is replace the ground beef with Garbanzo beans that have been mashed into very small pieces. The garbanzo beans are great, they keep the chili hearty and add a great texture to the dish. I think masa is especially good to add into vegan chili. If you are buying your masa, just make sure you get the good old fashioned corn, water, lime stuff and not some strange kind of tamale masa with lard in it to almost kill your vegan mother on her birthday like I did. Enjoy!


Chili Palmer

I named this chili “Chili Palmer” because I like the movie “Get Shorty” a lot. It’s based on one of Elmore Leonard’s best stories and I never get tired of watching it.

4 dried guajillo chilis, stems removed
4 dried arbol chilis, stems removed
1 chipotle pepper (optional)
4 garlic cloves
1 15oz. can of sloppy Joe sauce
1 28oz. can of whole tomatoes
1 lb. ground beef
Salt to taste

This bright red chili is very easy and very tasty. This recipe will make a medium to hot chili. If you prefer a milder chili, don’t add the chipotle and replace a few of the arbol chilis with red bell pepper.

Boil all of your chilies and garlic in about 4 cups of water until the dried chilies are completely softened. Put all the chilies and garlic into a blender or food processor with a few cups of the water and blend until smooth. Combine the chili mixture, sloppy Joe sauce, can of tomatoes with juice (smash the tomatoes into pieces with your hands or cut them into pieces on cutting board if you don’t like smashing things with your hands) into a large pot and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and add the ground beef. I prefer to use a ground beef mixture that is 10% fat although 20% fat would work as well. Occasionally stir until ground beef is fully cooked and salt your chili to taste. If you like beans in your chili go ahead and add some cooked or canned beans at the start. Allow the chili to lightly simmer on a very low heat for at least an hour.

I used this chili mixture on Super Bowl Sunday to put on top of Frito corn chips, cheese, diced white onion, and bacon. In the past when serving the chili on its own I’ve added about ¾ of a cup of masa (I buy my masa from a hispanic bakery mostly for making corn tortillas) to add another layer of flavor to the chili. I’m also a big fan of experimenting with different chilis from time to time. Finally, to use up my left over chili the next day, I put it over black beans beans and brown rice.

Animals Cooking

Super Bowl Dog Treats

It’s Super Bowl Sunday! This year I wanted to do something for the dogs. Every once in a while I will bake treats or cake for them, but I wanted to keep it as simple as possible today. I brought home a can of wet food; a low-fat food that would be easy on their stomachs. Also, the wet food needs to be all the same consistency and somewhat dense.

I formed the food into small football shapes and baked them at 350 degrees for one hour. In the meantime, I mixed together one and a half tablespoons of non-fat yogurt and all-natural peanut butter with no added sugar or salt. I also added ¼ of a teaspoon of agave syrup (although honey would work just fine) and enough water to get the mixture to the frosting consistency I wanted. I spooned the frosting into a sandwich bag and cut a very small piece off of one corner to create a piping bag. I use this frosting on the cakes and treats I make for them, the dogs absolutely love it!