The Pentalito Burrito

The McSorley Burritos

Dianna, Jenn Penn, and me -circa 1999 (cue Prince song)

Whenever people nervously tell me about their wayward teenager, I try to offer them hope by letting them know what a dumb teenager I was. There was no massive “moral failing” to speak of, just a consistent inability to think of anyone other than myself combined with a lot of dumb choices.  But *that* is the topic of another blog. This is not confession time. ūüôā Having a mother that prayed incessantly for me inevitably drew me out of *some* of my stupidity. However, God knew I was going to need more tangible help.

So what did He do? For 3 out of my 4 years in college, He gave me a roommate that was studying psychology.  Three different years. Three entirely different sets of roommates. Yet every year at least one of them was a psych major. And boy did they have a case study in me!

The resident psychologist for my junior year was none other than Jenn Pentalow, now known as Jennifer McSorley. I don’t know how she endured me. She was just few years older, but worlds away in life experience and perspective. She was my prayer partner, my advice giver, my clothes sharer, and tear wiper. And, as it turned out, the absolute best burrito maker! There isn’t a whole lot I remember from college, because, ya know, I have “mom-nesia.”  I barely remember what I ate yesterday! But those burritos. They left an indelible mark on my soul. And so easy!! And healthy…..ish. They have spinach people. That should count for something!

The Jenn Penn Burrito (Makes about 9-10 burritos)

1.5- pounds of ground beef (or ground turkey)

1- 10 oz block of frozen chopped spinach

1.5- cups of mexican or cheddar cheese

1- 8 oz jar of salsa

1 tsp -chili powder

1 tsp -cumin

.5 tsp -salt

10 Burrito sized tortillas

Defrost and squeeze out the the spinach while browning the beef.

wrap the stack of torillas in aluminum foil and throw in the oven at 350 degrees.

Add spices (chili powder, cumin, salt), add spinach, salsa, and cheese to the ground beef.

When it is all mixed together, scoop 1/3 cup of the mixture into a warmed tortilla. Fold two sides in, then fold the other two sides for a perfect square! Hooray! Math!

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Fire-less S’mores

There is nothing like getting away to the mountains. Cold temperatures, warm feelings, and s’mores. It’s all so picture perfect…

Unless it’s raining. And your fire is a flop.

Luckily, I am a s’more connoisseur, and don’t need a fire to make some toasty s’mores. I have told people this method before, and they didn’t know it! I cannot have that. People need s’mores whenever they want. I know this, and therefore have to share this foolproof happiness-guaranteed method. And no, do not even think about using a microwave. Just no.

All you need is an oven, two cookie sheets, and all the goodness of traditional s’mores ingredients.
Directions are as follows: Put the oven on broil. And go.

 Here is the trick. The marshmallows (why do we all pronounce this word marshmellows?)
must go on top. Then they get brown, and keep the chocolate from getting too much heat, and getting too melty. This is science people.

                                                                  Wait literally 30 seconds.

                                                                         Then this!

Now comes the important part! Pick up the marshmallow ……

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Next…. flop the marshmallow (I really do not approve of that spelling.) onto the chocolate…..not the other way around. I am not responsible for the sadness that occurs if you try to flop the chocolate onto the marshmallow. It will be chocolate wasted, and NOBODY wants that!

¬†Then….happiness.

I don’t know why my children look like they are in pain when they are in heaven. Trust me. They were loving it.

Another option is to use a toaster oven. We do that when it’s just me and the hubs and a few dozen episodes of “Psych.” BUT-you have to watch it, and only put the chocolate in for a fraction of the time. As a master s’more maker, the chocolate makes or breaks the deal. Too melty and you barely taste it, too hard, and well, just forget it. Its like your eating a chocolate bar inside of a graham cracker. And while I will take chocolate in any form, I need my s’mores to be perfect. I just do.¬†¬† So the toaster oven technique is more trial and error. But it is a trial worth enduring if it’s all you’ve got.

So there you have it. My New Years Resolution is officially to eat more s’mores!! Happy New Year!!

The best guacamole you’ll ever have!

There are a myriad of books littering the shelves of libraries and bookstores, telling you how to improve your child’s self esteem. The simple answer? Teach them how to do awesome stuff!¬† Like make guacamole! My kids LOVE to cook. And I LOVE to let them. Yes, it’s messier and takes longer, at first. But when you can lay in bed and tell your nine year old to whip up some pancakes from scratch, and she rocks it? Yeah, it becomes way worth it! Also, they are incredibly proud of themselves for a good reason.

So here ya go, a guacamole recipe even your kids can make, mostly…. ūüôā The chopping of course needs to be done by you. I tried to crop out the mess that is my house as best I could. ūüôā

Take a spoon and scoop out 4  soft avocados.

This is fun, so EVERYONE wants a turn!

Then add some salt to taste (I prefer Kosher)

How cute is that little hand!

Add 1 tsp of taco/fajita seasoning  and mash together.

This is my part! I used 1.5 Roma tomatoes, 2 tbl. of chopped jalepenos, and 2 tbl. of chopped onion. Red onion is my favorite, but I didn’t have any!

They are so cute these kids!! They all had to put it in together!
Voila! There are other optional ingredients like some fresh lime juice to keep it from turning brown, (but ours never lasts long enough to turn brown) or some chopped cilantro, yum! So much is done to taste. You can adjust with more tomatoes or less, and the same is true for the onions and jalepenos.

Oh, and it must be said that this tastes Ah-mazing with some lime tortilla chips!

Best Guacamole You Ever Had (click here to print)

4 avocados
1/4 cup chopped tomatoes
2 Tbl chopped jalepenos
2 Tbls chopped onions
Salt to taste (kosher)
1tsp taco seasoning
Optional- 2 Tbl chopped cilantro

Take a spoon and scoop out 4  soft avocados.  Then add some salt to taste (I prefer Kosher)
Add 1 tsp of taco/fajita seasoning  and mash together.
Add chopped tomatoes, minced onions, chopped jalepenos and stir.

Coventry’s Costa Rican Chicken

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(Coventry, Amy, ME, Dianna)

In the late 90’s I went on my first missions trip, and it was to Costa Rica. The lessons I learned and the experiences I had will stay with me forever. But love, salvation, and friends were not the only blessings to come from this trip. A delicious meal, nay, a family staple, was born on that trip, created by the culinary wizard, known as Coventry Myers. My mother was just asking me for this recipe and I thought, no mom, not just you! The world needs this recipe! So here you go world, (or 50 or so people that read this blog) Print Here

Coventry’s Costa Rican Chicken

(This would serves about 4)
I double this and it feeds our family of 7 with lots of leftovers.

Package of tortillas, either burrito or taco size will do.
2 cans black beans
1 1/2 chicken breasts
1 cup  rice (uncooked)
1 small onion sliced
1/2  stick of butter
Lizano Salsa** (or your favorite salsa or sauce)

1.First boil your chicken breasts (mine come straight from the freezer, and that is just fine!)

2. Start cooking rice (I boil 1.5 cups of water with some salt and olive oil, and add 1 cup of rice when boiling, perfect in about 20 minutes)

3. Prepare black beans
4.Shred cooked chicken

5. Saute sliced onions in one stick of butter till translucent and tender, not browned

6. Add cooked rice

7. Add shredded chicken. Stir together and cook for a few minutes to get all the flavors mixed together.

8. Place chicken mix on warmed tortilla followed by black beans and then salsa.

Lizano Salsa is more of a sauce then what we typically think of as a salsa. (salsa means sauce in Spanish.)
For the last 10 years we have gotten it from my dear dad-in-law when he went to Costa Rica to surf, but I just found out I can buy it here! And it arrived to my door in 2 days! The kids went nuts. Seriously people. It’s that good. Straight from Miami, straight from Costa Rica. Now,although, what makes this recipe “out of this world” amazing is the Lizano Salsa. But if you have a sauce, or salsa you feel that strongly about, then this here recipe would be the perfect place to highlight it’s flavors!

It’s a hit.

Aunt Cherie’s Famous Gingerbread Cookies

 

 

I was scouring my facebook page for a good picture of the fun that ensues when we make these fabulous, life altering, gingerbread cookies. And this is what I found. My first thought was, “There has to be some way to crop out the back round.” I mean, isn’t your kitchen supposed to be spotless when you post pictures of food? With all your ingredients lined up on the granite counter of your updated kitchen with trendy back-splash? Certainly, this, with cluttered counters, and lingering laundry baskets, this would not work. And then I remembered my friend Courtney asking the Facebook world if mommies that do all these pinterest projects and Christmas craftings still had time for laundry. This picture was the answer.¬† When you add specialized fun to an already overfull day, sacrifices have to be made. In our house, laundry is normally the first to go! And that is ok! You can’t do it all. Nobody does. Shouldn’t we all know this by now? Make your cookies, and let the children dig in a basket of clean laundry when they need some pajamas. It’s ok.¬† And if you wait for your counters to be clutter free, you may never get the cookies made. So shove it all to the side, and get going!
There are memories to be made!

I shared before that when I make eggplant parm I am reminded of Paul’s Great Aunt Rainy and my Great Aunt Adele. Likewise, when it’s time to make gingerbread cookies, there is no separating the making of these delicious treats (and the eating) from our treasured memories of trips to NC to visit the amazing Aunt Cherie and Uncle Rick and family! And although we are separated by too many states in my opinion, pulling out the this cookie recipe, and savoring these sweet treats, brings all the memories to life, and it is very sweet indeed!

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(The three Beautiful sisters, my mother in law Renee, Aunt Cherie, and Aunt Linda)

Warning: I am not responsible for that pounds you gain eating these. I have never been a gingerbread cookie fan, until these.
Click here for the printable version (seriously, so tech savvy!)

GINGERBREAD BOYS (from the 1977 Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook)

1/3 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 1/2 cups dark molasses
2/3 cup cold water
7 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon
-Mix shortening, sugar, and molasses thoroughly.  Stir in water.  Measure flour by dipping method or by sifting.  Blend all dry ingredients, stir in.  Chill
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†Heat oven to 350 degrees. ¬†Roll dough 1/4″ thick on lightly floured board. ( I make mine thicker – try and see which you like – I take them out soft too) ¬†Cut with gingerboy shaped cutter or other favorite cutter. Place far apart on lightly greased baking sheet. ¬†Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until no imprint remains when touched lightly. Ice cooled cookies. ¬†I make frosting paint from confectioners sugar and milk, a drop of vanilla. ¬†I make it so that I can paint it on and then let it dry. ¬†You might have a better frosting. ¬†I like it thin. ¬†Its just a personal preference.

Eggplant Parmigian and sweet memories.

When I first met the love of my life, like a giddy school girl I wrote this list of all the things we had in common. One of the items on my list was that we both had a special “Great Aunt” with whom we had a deep bond and by whom we had been thoroughly spoiled! Mine was Aunt Adele, my maternal grandmother’s sister. His was Aunt Rainey, his maternal grandfather’s sister. During my high school years, when Aunt Adele would spend her snow bird days in sunny South Florida, she would regularly take my parents, sister and I out for dinner. And if it was an Italian restaurant, she would order Eggplant Parmigian.¬† Fast forward past dating, a wedding day,and a toddler and a baby, and Paul’s dear Aunt Rainey had established a similar tradition with us. And whenever we would venture out to an Italian Restaurant, she also would always order Eggplant Parmigian. And now, that I am old, and gray (not entirely) I also have developed a love for Eggplant Parmigian. But my favorite part of making it is always remembering these two amazing ladies, who touched and changed our lives forever.

So here is the recipe, for those who want to give it a try!
EGGPLANT PARMIGIANA
 2 Eggplants
A lot of breadcrumbs (Costco’s are great!)
4 eggs
some milk
a lot of oil (vegetable, canola or coconut- olive oil makes it too mushy)
 lots of sauce
mozzarella
First you need a 6 year old who LOVES to bread!(really, breading is not my favorite, and the kids love it!! Let go of perfectionism, and let them have at it!!)
Preheat oven to 350
Peel and slice up the Eggplant.
Scramble the eggs and mix with a little milk.
Find a child who is eager, and step away. You can clean up the mess in one easy swoop later!!
 
Pay no attention to the messy kitchen in the background. I *do not* clean as I go to avoid eating at midnight, or having to start cooking dinner during lunch. This makes my mom crazy. Sorry mom.

Heat up the oil on medium high, test the heat with some bread crumbs to make sure they sizzle. Brown on both sides, then place on paper towels on a plate to soak up some oil. I just layer paper towels,eggplant, paper towels, eggplant until they are all cooked and I have the leaning tower of eggplant!

Next find a 9×13 pan and add your favorite sauce¬† as your first “layer.”
(My sauce recipe is at the bottom)

Then add some delicious eggplant. (seriously, the hardest part is not eating them before dish is assembled)

Next ladle on some sauce and sprinkle some cheese

Then another eggplant layer. Wash, rinse, repeat, until you have used all the eggplant or run out of room in your dish! Then bake for about 30 minutes or until it’s all bubbly and browned to your liking.

Somehow in the craziness, I did not get a final picture! So maybe the next time I make it I will add one on, assuming I can figure that out! Sounds complicated! But I could not delay as I hate to deprive the world of this deliciousness one more day! So here ya go! Also, you can alter this in several ways. Some people prefer to bake the eggplant instead of frying. I prefer to Google things like “The health benefits of frying” or use coconut oil, so I can feel good about myself. ūüôā

Oh and this is my sauce:
SUPER EASY SAUCE :
Saute 4 cloves of minced garlic in olive oil (or coconut) till light golden brown. Add 3 or 4 large cans of crushed tomatoes. Then add one tablespoon of : sugar and basil and teaspoon of salt. Add more or less of any seasonings to taste. Fresh basil is even better! And we use Kosher salt.

SUPER EASIER SAUCE:
In a pinch you can substitute garlic powder for sauteed garlic. Like when you want to make tortilla pizzas really bad at 10 o’clock at night??? Open the can, dump in the seasonings, and stir! Your welcome!