Sunday, July 13, 2008

Leftovers and Homemade Taco Seasoning

So most days, I avoid cooking. I fully admit that I am spoiled by a husband who is an excellent cook! When I first met Brian, I'd say my culinary abilities consisted of following a few recipes my Mom made, boxes of mac n' cheese (or pastaroni!) and the very basics. I was much more suited to desserts because, well let's face it, I have a slight sugar addiction! ;) I must also state that I was never a leftovers kind of girl. Never. It has taken years to overcome that and, while I am better, I am not nearly as evolved with leftovers as Brian is!

Several weeks ago we tried Anna's recipe for Pasta Italia. We made it vegetarian by leaving out the ham (we don't eat pork too often!) and adding an entire clove of fresh garlic. YUM. Must try if you haven't had it before. Here's the challenge to Brian... how to use up the leftovers? Well, we didn't store the leftovers with the pasta and we didn't add the basalmic until serving the pasta, so the leftovers did not contain those two items. Brian's clever solution was to "fry it up" as he says by making grilled veggies sandwiches and "leftover" patties to top them off! Here's his recipe:

Brian's Veggie Sandwiches

Sourdough bread, toasted
Zucchini, sliced thin lengthwise and pan fried
Summer Squash, sliced thin lengthwise and pan fried
Leftover Pasta Italia mixture, pan fry by the spoonful (we used a giant cooking spoon) or we also add whatever cheese we have sitting around (sharp cheddar, blue, gorgonzola)
Add condiments (I like mustard only, Brian uses mustard and ketchup)
Add lettuce or spinach (I usually add spinach)
And, most important, enjoy!

As for cooking the "leftover patties", the water was cooked out of the tomatoes, melted the cheese and it all stuck together pretty well. From a practical standpoint, they were really only in the pan for a few minutes with Brian paying close attention to how much they were spreading in the pan. Sorry, no picture this time, but it really is a quick summer dinner!

So as for the actual cooking around here today, I am experimenting with my favorite basic brownie recipe (we have a brownie bakeoff at work on Wednesday, so more on that some other day) and I experimented earlier with a homemade taco seasoning mix. For weeks, we have talked about making our own taco seasoning mix, so I finally got the chance today! While we haven't used it yet, I have tasted it and cannot wait to use it:

Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix

First, make your own chili powder:
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin

Mix all spices throughly.

Second, add rest of the spices as follows:
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
2 ½ teaspoons onion powder
4 ½ teaspoons cumin
5 teaspoons paprika

If we really like it and intend to keep it, we will probably take the recipe and multiply it by 5 to get a full jar. Makes me want to try experimenting with other spice blends, this was fun! :)





Off to experiment with brownies now! YUM!! :)

Update: We have used the seasoning mix and it's really good!! It is definitely a keeper!! :)

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