Saturday, August 17, 2013

The day I had to say "tater"

I'm due for a rant. A recipe comes out of this though, not to worry.

It all began Thursday night. Ryan was having a tough week. He was a worn out, stressed out, and, well, a crabby husband. Typically my plan of attack when I have a crabby husband is to heal the wounds with food. So I offered to make him anything he wanted (in a crock pot, of course).

My heart was crushed. He suggested an phenomenon (I call it a phenomenon, not a recipe) called "Tater Tot Hotdish"

"Say what? Tater? Did you just say ta-ter? Oh, You mean po-ta-to hotdish? Wait, HOTDISH? You want hotdish? I can't make that! I don't even know what that is".


Ryan smirked, "I bet you could figure out how to google and find a recipe."

So I did. I found a recipe. I googled "Lot Fat Tater Tot Hotdish". Tater Tot Hotdish is a phenomenon created by school lunch ladies. It makes a sloshing sound, as it is slapped on your tray.

**Warning: Particles of taters and tots may splash customers. Safety goggles advised**

"I love you. But I cannot be seen in a grocery store buying tots. It goes against all my morals and values.", I cried. (you know, because I'm a celebrity and people watch me grocery shop? I don't know why I fret about some of the things I fret about)

"I have faith you can figure it out, love ." was his smug response. Oh, boys.

So there I was at the grocery store - Where does a person even find "tots"? I looked in the baking section , I looked in the fresh produce section (by the potatoes). Finally, I had to ask someone. But I had to make it look as though I am not the person consuming these tots.
"Excuse me, ma'am, I'm making a recipe for someone and it calls for po-ta-to tots? Do you know where these would be located?", I asked in a tone showing that I don't eat *tots*.

"Oh, tater tots? Yeah, they're in the frozen food section, sweetheart"

*ah, cringe. Why do southern people use words like sweetheart, miss, & darlin'. I'm a ma'am.*

"Yes. Ta-ter Tots. Thank you, ma'am.", my solemn response.

So there I was in the frozen food section, eyes darting around making sure no one I knew would see me. And then I see a wife of one of Ryan's classmates, I quickly start power-walking away. *I cannot be seen buying these.*

(You'd think I was buying hemorrhoid cream or condoms or something embarassing the way I was reacting)

Once the coast was clear.......I was introduced to a section of the grocery store, that in my "grocery buying years" I have never seen. So many varieties of frozen potatoes and french fries and "potato tots"! Where do I even start? And then I chickened. I just couldn't do it. I had to put an original spin on this lunch-lady-special.

So my spin on "Tater Tot Hotdish" included the following:
  • 20 oz Frozen sweet potato bites
  • 1 lb ground turkey, (brown before putting in crock pot)
  • 12 oz fat free sour cream (next time I'm doing greek yogurt)
  • 1 bag organic frozen peas
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • S & P
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • fresh basil
I put all of the above in the crock pot for about 3 hours at 200 degrees F. Served it up with a little sriracha hot sauce. It wasn't terrible.

My husband loved it. It made me feel a little sheepish, because this created the most enthusiastic response ever out of him. "This is the best recipe ever!!! You should make this all the time! Yum! I'm going to eat the s*** out of these leftovers!"

I'm just going to attest that he was in need of comfort food. Somtimes canned beats sounds better than fresh avocado. So I get it. Sometimes macoroni & ketchup is more appealing to me than grilled salmon.

But yes, that was the day I had to say tater.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


If you love peaches, please stand up.
I'm not simply standing up, I'm doing cheerleader kicks, deer jumps, and cartwheels!! (If only I could actually do a cartwheel....)
Peaches are in season! Celebrate!

When things are in season, and they are sold cheap, I stock up like a crazy woman. Not was crazy as the crazy couponers stock up on microwavable dinners and oatmeal cookies....
But I buy big bags, and eat large quantities of that fruit! And if I can't eat it, I clean it, slice it, and freeze it so I can enjoy it during the off season on my oatmeal/yogurt.
Sometimes planning meals in this hotel room can be a challenge. I want to make good food, but I have limited resources. I wanted to switch things up. So with an open mind, into the grocery store I went.
I knew 3 things: I wanted healthy, I wanted summery, and I wanted white meat (or something close to it)
So out I walked with a bag of peaches and some thick-cut pork chops!
Originally, I wanted chicken. But, boneless skinless chicken breasts were $3.99/lb! Call me cheap, but that's a little ridiculous! If it was organic, it'd be one thing. But for plain old chicken breasts? No thank you. So to the pork section I traveled.
I googled "peaches and pork" -- but the recipes I found were a little too heavy for me. Most included brown sugar, honey, and an oven. I wanted summer.
So here is where I landed!
  • 1.5 pounds thick-cut pork chops (next time I'm totally doing chicken! But $0.99/lb vs $3.99/lb = pork winning)
  • 2 ripe peaches (but not too ripe! You want some firmness if you're cooking them)
  • 1 Hatch chile pepper, sliced thinly ( I needed to offset the sweet of the peaches)
  • 1/2 cup balsalmic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Basil, crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper (lightly coat the meat on both sides with these)
  • 2 Tbsp honey (hatch chile + crushed red pepper needs a little more sweetness)
  • 1 shot of Apple Cider Vinegar for good luck
Place all ingredients in crock pot/slow cooker. Cook at about 180 degrees until your pork reaches DONEness! Trichinoses is not fun. So I've heard.
I would recommend even drizzling a touch of barbeque sauce on this if you'd like to add tang. But this was so good! I served it over brown rice with a spinach salad.
It was approved by myself and husband -- and I was told to make it again! So I think we have a winner! I am really bummed I didn't snap a photo. Maybe I'll get one of the leftovers....It actually did look really pretty!
Now for some fun facts and musings about peaches!
  1. Peaches are the member of the rose family. ( on that note, I would prefer a bouquet of peaches over roses, maybe with some fro-yo to accompany?)
  2. 1 peach only has 70 calories, and contains 3 grams of fiber! Great souce of vitamin A and C!
  3. How do you select the perfect peach? Give it a soft squeeze to make sure it doesn't bruise too easily. The coloring between golden and purple should be closely even.
  4. Peaches are delicious on the grill. If you have not tried this, you need to do it!
  5. I also have found peaches to be quite delicious in a salad with cucumbers, bell peppers, and balsalmic vinegar. Peaches and Balsalmic Vinegar were meant to be together. I brought it to work last week - and my coworkers gauked at how "pretty" my lunch looked.
What's your favorite way to enjoy a peach? What's your favorite "in season fruit?" I have a hard time choosing, but I love everything! A few of my favorite "food seasons" are Honeycrisp Apples, hatch chile peppers, and Blackberries/Rasberries...