Taco Truck Tortas

Howdy-doody eaters!

That was kind of a weird greeting. Let’s move on.

There’s a taco truck that parks down the street from my house every night — the La Azteca truck, for any locals who are interested. It’s actually right across the street from my Crossfit box and there have been many nights during running WODs that I’ve very seriously considered just running right over and getting some tacos.

Leon and I have been there a few times. We walk down with Charlie and sit in the folding chairs. The food is pretty great. It’s not like our regular dollar tacos, but since the truck is owned by the same restaurant the food is just as good.

Charlie has pretty bad manners.

Charlie has pretty bad manners.

And it only took us a couple of visits to establish our favorite dish — the torta with chorizo.

It’s this ah-maze-ing sandwich made with ground meat, jalapenos, tomatoes, lettuce, mayo, and refried beans.

The torta.

The torta.

The refried beans really make the sandwich. They take it from being a lame ground meat sandwich to being a serious thing.

One of us has gotten it every time we’ve gone to the taco truck. It’s that good.

(The fish tacos, which I think is what they were originally known for, were good, but not phenomenal.)

Fish tacos.

Fish tacos.

And while I’m not normally one to try to re-create my favorite restaurant dishes at home (because they’re really never as good and it takes away my excuse for getting take out), I figured that this sandwich was an easy one to make myself.

Ingredients:

Ground chorizo, red cabbage slaw with lime, jalapenos, plain yogurt, and refried beans on a small loaf of wheat bread.

Red cabbage slaw.

Red cabbage slaw.

Verdict:

Ehh, not as phenomenal. I could have gone with a firmer, less doughy bread. The slaw was good, but I think I should have gone simpler and stuck with lettuce and tomato. But even with those little misses, m’gosh this was a delicious sandwich.

This is one serious sandwich.

This is one serious sandwich.

A really, really delicious sandwich.

So delicious that I literally inhaled in. It was messy and beastly and amazing. Not quite ah-maze-ing, but close enough. And it still gives me an excuse to walk down to the taco truck.

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Your turn, eaters:

Do you like to re-create restaurant meals at home?

What’s your favorite kind of food truck?

Later eaters!

Weekend Food

Hi eaters!

I love weekends, don’t you?

Working in retail means I almost never get two days in a row off and the fact that I get Sundays off is just a happy coincidence. And now with a second job I might never get two days in a row off again.

This week, though, I lucked out. I got Sunday and Monday totally free from work.

Beyond loving the freedom to nap and read and take long walks with my dog, I also love the freedom to cook.

On the weekends I get to eat big breakfasts.weekend food1

I get time to gradually get hungry and to think about what I really want to eat before I stuff something in my mouth.

Scrambled eggs with sausage and a de-licious unglazed buttermilk donut.

Scrambled eggs with sausage and a de-licious unglazed buttermilk donut.

I get to cook more elaborate meals and eat earlier.

Grilled pork chops and corn, all from the farmer's market.

Grilled pork chops and corn, all from the farmer’s market.

All of these things are vastly different from the weekdays when, more often than I would like to admit, I eat lunch (and change my pants) in the car. And lately, as I haven’t had time to shop or meal plan properly, that lunch has been a grilled chicken sandwich from Chik-fil-A way too often for my comfort level.

During the week I almost always eat eggs with fruit for breakfast and most days I am just shy of hitting my water intake goal for the day. (I have a 24oz water bottle and aim to drink it three times a day.)

My go to snack is mixed nuts, which is a very satiating snack, (as I pointed out last week) but not exactly thrilling.

All of these things are nice and healthy and easy to eat, but man, do they get boring. A few weeks ago I was so sick of my usual, nice, healthy, easy food that I would have rather not eaten than eat the same thing again. (I ate a lot of takeout that week.)

My cute pig corn holders.

My cute pig corn holders.

So weekends are my saving grace. They let me re-charge my batteries and stuff my face with the most delicious food so I’m ready to face the week ahead, which are always guaranteed to be filled with car lunches and speeding through yellow lights (sorry, papa) and hurried dog walks.

What do you think, eaters:

What’s your favorite thing about weekends?

What’s your least favorite part of your work/school week?

Later eaters!

Dees Nuts

G’day eaters!

Four posts in a week! Looks like I was serious when I said I was coming back to blogging.

I only half-heartedly believed myself when I said that I was back to blogging on the regular. And I still might flake out from time to time. Only time will tell.

But I’m not here to talk about my flakiness. Instead, I want to talk about nuts.

nuts1

Dees nuts!

(I’m pretty sure that’s from a rap song, but I don’t really know.)

I LOVE mixed nuts. Love.Them.

My dad has always munched on nuts and I’m sure he’s rarely more than a few feet away from some. And frankly, I’m okay with that being an inherited trait.

His bad knees, flat feet, and complete lack of singing voice (sorry, Papa)? Eh, I’d like to return those.

But munching on mixed nuts, trail mixes, and the peanuts from Cracker Jacks? Sure, we can call that a father-daughter thing.

papa

And while I strayed away from my nut-loving ways for a while — “Too much fat! Too many calories! Peanuts aren’t paleo! Raw almonds are gross!” — I have returned with a vengeance. That is mainly because nuts are the perfect work snack for me.

Ever since I started working my retail job back in July I’ve been trying to find the perfect snack that would fuel me through several hours of standing, walking, bending, lifting, climbing, and small talking. I tried Balance bars (so many bars!), hard boiled eggs and carrots, apples and pb, cheese sandwiches, hunks of chicken, and frozen yogurt.

Absolutely none of those things worked. And more importantly, I couldn’t shove any of those things in my mouth, wash them down with a swig of water, and be back on the floor in under a minute flat.

But then I found nuts.

They’re perfect! I can grab a couple small handfuls throughout my shift and be sailing right along, greeting customers and folding jeans like a champ without thinking even once about how I would like to eat my arm. And really, doesn’t not eating your arm make for a great work day?

I sure think so.

The point of this post is simply to say that I think nuts are the perfect snack and you should give them a try.

I could have just tweeted that and been done with it (it was only 67 characters), but then I wouldn’t have gotten to be so sassy and make a rap reference (I think, someone really should check that for me). And really, we all need more sass (and nuts!) in our lives.

The end.

Your turn, eaters:

What do you snack on at work?

What’s your favorite (or least favorite) nut?

Later eaters!

Excited for Summer Produce

G’day eaters!

How was Monday for you? It’s been raining on and off for what feels like weeks, and today was no different. We’ve also had road/sidewalk construction going on right outside our door for weeks, which means my driveway is blocked more often than not.

Both of those things make staying at home very appealing and today, save for a couple of errands, I did just that. It was enjoyable.

Other news from my neck of the woods: I am so flipping sick of root vegetables. And apples. And broccoli.

I’m pretty much sick of any and all winter produce and I might scream (or turn straight carnivore) if I have to eat anymore of it.

And luckily, very very soon I’ll be able to rid my home of every trace of winter and fill my crisper with nothing but the freshest, juiciest, spring-and-summer-est fruits and vegetables.

Some of the ones I am most excited about are…

summer produce1

Plums!

Somehow I only discovered the perfection that is a ripe, taunt plum last summer and I’ve been patiently biding my time until they’re in season again. And believe me, once they’re fully in season (and a little cheaper) they will replace my pre-Crossfit apple.

summer produce2

Strawberries!

Maybe this summer will finally be the one that I go berry picking so I can fill my fridge with strawberry and blueberry and blackberry pies and preserves and the freshest of the fresh Berry Vibrant Glazed cakes. Until then I’ll keep paying way too much for them at the grocery store.

summer produce8

Asparagus!

I think we’re quickly entering into prime asparagus season and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Grilled or steamed with butter or shaved in an omelets or any other way imaginable, this is one of my favorite vegetables. I don’t even care that it makes my pee smell weird.

summer produce3

Sorry for the obnoxiously overexposed photos. Can you tell I’m still in winter photo mode? That’ll change soon, too.

Those little numbs are going to be peppers eventually.

Those little numbs are going to be peppers eventually.

Jalapenos!

Leon and I planted a little container garden this summer and I’m so excited to eventually get to eat some of my homegrown vegetables.

summer produce6

Tomatoes!

Neither Leon nor I like raw tomatoes, but we love tomato sauce and grilled tomatoes and especially salsa, which we’ll make with our jalapenos.

summer produce5

Herbs!

We planted basil, because it’s not summer without lots of fresh basil, and cilantro, to keep our salsa theme going. And I can’t tell you how nice it’s been to just step outside the door to grab fresh herbs for dinner.

As you can see, I’m beyond thrilled to dig in to all that summer has to offer. I’m also excited because this year I am determined(!) to do a little canning and preserving so we can have summer’s bounty all year (and hopefully I won’t die of boredom when it comes time to eat root vegetables again).

What do you think, eaters:

What are you excited to eat this summer?

Any foods you won’t touch raw? What about cooked?

Later eaters!

PS — Posting two nights in a row. I tell ya eaters, I’m back!

Pastrami

Hiya eaters!

I think North Carolina’s three week spring is over and we are in full on summer mode.

I even have the sunburn to prove it.

I have been waiting for summer to start for so long. In my head I have a running bucket list of all the things I’m really excited to do this summer.

Walking down to Best Way, the extraordinary beer grocery store in my neighborhood (on Walker Ave in Greensboro, for all you natives), with Leon and Charlie to buy expensive, hoppy beers and drink them in the kitchen while we snack.

Going to Virginia Beach for a weekend of big, comfy couches and washers and dryers and beer on the beach and Charlie digging in the sand and crab cakes and fish tacos.

Improving my Toms tan.

Wearing sundresses and eating froyo with extra gummy worms (because cold gummies are the best thing ever).

Going to Georgia for Brady, my brother, and my graduation party where we’re going to get my mother to drink out of a keg.

Buying lots and lots of fresh fruit and making pies and cobblers.

The list goes on and on. And Sunday, on a gorgeous sunny day that was supposed to be cloudy, Leon helped me cross another thing off my list — barbecue.

A few weeks ago Leon snagged a cheap beef brisket and decided to smoke it. Of course, I’m always up for a big hunk of smoked meat.

So we set up camp on the front lawn.

pastrami05

pastrami06

Charlie played in the grass. Leon sunbathed.pastrami02

I sat in the shade and tried to do homework.pastrami04

And we smoked a big hunk of meat.pastrami01

It was supposed to be pastrami. It’s been a while since I’ve eaten pastrami, so I don’t know how spot on it was. But I do know that after a few solid hours on the smoker this hunk of meat had a gorgeous crust. It was absolutely dripping juice between the cracks in the crust.pastrami07

pastrami08

In a word: it was meat perfection.pastrami09

Leon sliced a bunch off and we stacked it high on homemade bread with provolone cheese, sauerkraut, and lots of brown mustard.

This stack created a sandwich of amazingly epic proportions. And while I normally would never leave any part of a sandwich behind, even I couldn’t finish this giant beast.pastrami10

pastrami11

And while normally I would consider not finishing a sandwich to be a sign of failure (c’mon, my blog is called FoodBaby for a reason), I know that having a quarter of it in the fridge just means I get a midnight snack. And that there’s still a whole summer of big hunks of smoked meat ahead of me.

Barbecue chicken is on the menu for this weekend.

Your turn, eaters:

What are you most looking forward to this summer?

What’s your favorite kind of sandwich?

Later eaters!

Valentine’s Treats! And Sprinkles!

Sup eaters?

I’m going to make this a quick one because it’s all about Valentine’s Day, which means you have roughly 48 hours to make these before they become unseasonable.

First, I f’ing love Valentine’s Day! Seriously, it’s great.

You give people candy/flowers/stuffed animals/cards. You get candy/flowers/stuffed animals/cards.

And I’m not just talking about trading gifts with your better half. Until this year I’ve only given treats to my friends and that hasn’t made it any less fun.

It’s a not-so-subtle reminder to tell people you appreciate them (and to feel appreciated!) because chances are you don’t tell them enough and who gives a crap if you’re telling them on the same day as everyone else in the world.

And seriously…did I mention the cutesy, girly treats? And the sprinkles?!

valentines candy5

Sorry for the poor photos. I was too impatient to eat them to wait until the morning.

Oh the sprinkles!

So if you’re not the V-Day equivalent of a Scrooge, I HIGHLY suggest you take the less than 2 hours it took me to whip up about 5 dozen peanut butter cups and about 3 dozen pretzel bites.

I used this awesome little tutorial to make the peanut butter cups.valentines candy1

A few little fyi-s about the recipe:

A whole bag of Wilton chocolate melts will yield roughly 5 dozen chocolates.

I only used ½ c powdered sugar and used coconut oil instead of butter, which worked great.

Also, I definitely suggest you buy two candy molds.

And beyond that, make sure you let the chocolate in the bottom of the mold harden a little before you put the peanut butter in or else it’ll show through the bottom.

Oh, and don’t forget to add sprinkles as soon as you put the top layer of chocolate on.

valentines candy3The white chocolate pretzel bites are even easier than that.

All I did was crush up some pretzels in my grubby little hands and put a few pieces in the bottom of the mold. Then I spooned a bag-worth of melted white chocolate over the pretzels and added sprinkles!valentines candy2

Have I mentioned that I love sprinkles?

Because I really do.

I made all of these little cuties on Saturday and then passed most of them out that night. And while it did take me about two hours from start to finish it certainly wasn’t a grueling two hours.

You could easily do this after a day at work when you brain is a little mushy. Which means…you have no excuse not to make something cute for Valentine’s Day.valentines candy4

But if for some crazy reason you actually have other things to do — like cleaning or having a social life — and you don’t make these little cuties by Thursday then just swap the sprinkles for something more all-occasion and you’re golden.

Like Willy Wonka’s chocolate.

(That worked in my head. Just go with it.)

Your turn, eaters:

How do you feel about Valentine’s Day?

Which chocolate will you keep for yourself — peanut butter cups or pretzel bites?

Later eaters!

Happy Merry!

G’morning eaters!

I just wanted to say a very merry Christmas from my little family to your whatever-size family!

PS — I did the Christmas chipper this morning. Did you?

A Food Manifesto

‘Ello eaters!

I hope you enjoyed my pictures from last night. As you can tell, I’ve very proud.

Hell, I’m very proud anytime I can do something on the computer. I’m a bit of a Luddite, don’t ya know.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking a lot about my views on food. They’ve obviously changed over the years, especially since I’ve had this blog. And while I’m absolutely positive they will change more over the years, I figured it was worth tacking them down as they as now.

Kind of like a manifesto time capsule, if that makes sense.

So, without further ado, here’s my food manifesto as it stands today, December 11, 2012.

Sprinkles don’t have calories. Or carbs.

Eat one serving of fruits or vegetables at every meal.

Bacon should be thick cut and crispy.

Food becomes exponentially better when you eat it with your hands.

Condiments make food exponentially better.

Any cut of BBQ pork is the right cut as long as it’s saucy.

The more colorful the food the healthier it is, with regards to fruits and vegetables.

Tofu is not just for vegetarians.

Salads are the best packed lunches.

Eat at least one snack a day.

Dessert isn’t healthy. If it’s healthy than it’s not dessert, it’s an after dinner snack.

Never skip meals.

Nuts should be roasted and salted.

Donuts are a perfect food.

When you don’t know what to say, bake a cake.

Smoked paprika is the best spice, second only to pepper.

Cheese.

Strawberry banana is a very over used flavor combination.

It’s always worth it to make it from scratch. At least once in your life.

Eat locally and seasonally; it’s cheaper, among other things.

Never turn down crusty bread.

Pizza is also a perfect food.

Sausage is not just for ball games and barbeques.

Wine should be dry and shared.

I’m sure there are plenty of other things that I have lots of other views on food, those are all I can think of.

Your turn, eaters:

What are some of your views on food?

Any of my views that you disagree with?

G’night eaters! 

Apple Cranberry Galette

Hola eaters!

Spoiler alert: This post has nothing to do with Spanish things.

If you’re a longtime eater you may remember that a couple of years ago I decided to master piecrust. It was summer. I was living in an apartment with my friends and we were too broke to turn the AC on any cooler than 80F. My kitchen supplies were still pretty sparse and I don’t think I even knew what a pastry blender was.

In short, it was the worst possible time to try my hand at mastering something that requires cold and a bit of precision, at least in regards to how finely incorporated the butter is.

And while I did okay — thanks mostly to some tips I learned that one time I had brunch with an editor from Bon Appétit — my pies were neither perfect nor pretty. So my pie perfect summer ended and I let all forms of crust (except pizza!) fall by the wayside.

But last week, with the festive holiday spirit, along with a strong craving for more cranberries, coursing through my veins I got the pie making itch. And it just so happens that a pie, especially a rustic free-form pie, makes a wonderful photography model for a storytelling project in my digital photography class.

(FYI, I am very proud of these photos. I wish all my pictures could look this good. And hopefully if Papa/Santa decided to bring me Photoshop for Christmas, at least they can be as well edited.)

Apple Cranberry Galette

2 apples, peeled and sliced

½ c cranberries, fresh or frozen

1 T sugar

1 T honey

1 t cinnamon

½ t ground ginger

1 T orange juice

Crust

1 c all purpose flour

6 T real butter, plus a little more

1 T vodka*

1 T sugar

~1/3 c water, as needed

~2 T heavy cream

*You can use lemon juice, but I hear vodka is best.

If possible, put the flour, butter, sugar, and vodka in a food processor. Set it to “dough” and whirl away until the dough has the texture of a very thick meal. Slowly start streaming in water until the dough barely forms a ball. Wrap the dough in wax paper and chill in the fridge for ~1 hour.

Put all the ingredients for the filling in a large bowl and mix until it’s all evenly mixed. Chill the filling for ~1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Take the dough out of the fridge, flour a surface and your hands, and roll out the dough to less than ¼” thickness. Carefully move the dough onto a baking sheet and spread a thin layer of butter over the top.

Pile the filling in the middle of the crust; you may not need it all. Gently fold up the edges, pressing them together where they overlap. Brush a little heavy cream over the crust edges and sprinkle everything with a little extra sugar.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the crust is golden in most places and the fruit is just starting to darken at the edges.

Let it cool enough to touch and then cut yourself a big slice.

I highly recommend adding a heavy handed drizzle of really good quality cream. It’ll fill in all the nooks and crannies between the fruit and add a lovely cool note on a hot slice.

Of course, ice cream will do the same, but I had cream so cream was what I used.

What do you think, eaters:

Do you enjoy editing photos?

Do you prefer your pie a la mode or as is?

G’night eaters!

Sausage and Cornbread Stuffing

‘Ello eaters!

Since Thanksgiving is quickly approaching and you are all undoubtedly finalizing your menus I’m going to hop to it with the recipes and tips.

And fyi, these will be more tips and guidelines than strict recipes. I didn’t actually look at a single recipe in all my cooking last week. And I am a firm believer that comfort food should be more about feel and feeling than counting minutes and teaspoons.

With that being said, first thing that’s up is as close to a recipe as you’ll get for Thanksgiving.

I love cooked celery. And cornbread. And sausage, if you couldn’t already tell. So that’s exactly what I put in my stuffing, and very little else.

Sausage Cornbread Stuffing

2 boxes Jiffy mix*

2 eggs

2/3 milk, dairy or non-dairy

½ lbs mild Italian sausage**

3 ribs celery, chopped

~1/2 T dried thyme

~2-3 T butter, dairy or non-dairy

~1-1 ½ c chicken broth

salt and pepper, to taste

*You don’t need all this cornbread. In reality you only need about a box and a half, but because you can’t halve an egg, go ahead and make both boxes. You can always eat the other half box.

**My Whole Foods has bulk sausage, which is the filling minus the casing, but if you can’t find that then two sausage links is about the same.

Whisk the Jiffy mix, eggs, and milk together. Pour the mixture into a wax paper-lined baking sheet and bake according to the package directions, about 25 minutes, if I remember correctly.

While the cornbread is cooling, heat a pan to medium heat and begin to brown the sausage. Once a bit of sausage fat has collected at the bottom of the pan add the celery and cook until the sausage is browned all over and the celery is soft.

Crumble the cooled cornbread into a lightly greased baking dish, about 9×9 should be sufficient. Add in the sausage and celery mix, salt, pepper, and thyme, and gently fold everything together.

At this point, the stuffing can hang out in your fridge for up to two days before it’s baked.

When you’re ready to bake preheat the oven to 350F, bring up the butter into little pieces and sprinkle them around the top, and then pour the broth evenly over the dish. Bake for ~30 minutes, or until the stuffing is golden brown on top.

Serve it warm.

Now I can’t speak of other stuffing recipes, because this was the first time I’d ever made it. But I can say that it was beyond easy. And the whole making it a day before and popping it in right as the turkey is resting and being carved certainly makes it all the more perfect.

Your turn, eaters:

What do you like in your stuffing?

Do you stuff it in the bird or cook it separate?

G’night eaters!