Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Los Portales - Fayetteville Road, Durham

4 words to the wise

I could eat Mexican food every day of the week and never get sick of it. One of my favorite parts of living in Mebane was having a really great Mexican restaurant to eat at. I love Durham, but find it seriously lacking a good family Mexican-American restaurant. I don't like Torerros or El Rodeo. El Custaleco was okay, but the flavors don't quite jive for me. And yes there are lots of great taquieras, but that's not what I'm talking about.

I strolled into Los Portales on Sunday afternoon after a trip to Babies R Us. My first impression was that the decor is bright and cheerful, and the restaurant is clean. I was promptly seated in a booth next to another table with a baby and handed a menu.

The menu is diverse and allows you to create your own combinations, along with a wide selection of their own specialties. The prices were quite decent too, especially for the Southpoint area. After ordering from the vegetarian menu (also featuring custom combinations), I snacked on chips and salsa. The chips weren't anything too special, but the salsa was great. It had a smooth texture and great flavor.

My potato burrito was filled with mashed potatoes, onions and cheese, and smothered with a lovely tomato-based sauce. My spinach enchilada was filled with fresh sauteed spinach and diced onions. The flavor in both of the items was fantastic, and the rice and beans were just what I like.

I've been eagerly awaiting the opening of this restaurant and am thrilled to no longer have to drive to Mebane for great Mexican food! Go check out Los Portales and let me know what you think!

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Shepherds pie

1 words to the wise

This was my first go at an old recipe. I've never eaten Shepherd's pie, but I've seen it. I know it usually has peas and is made from lamb. This was not traditional, but was extremely tasty. My hubby informed me that it's usually also made with cubed meat and has more gravy. If you like it that way, adjust the broth and flour amount and use cubed meat.Shepherd's Pie
Makes one pie (4 large servings)
5 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 tbsp oil
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 carrot, sliced thick
1 celery stalk, sliced thick
4 large shallots, chopped
4 oz. button mushrooms, chopped
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
3 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
3/4 cup beef or vegetable broth
salt and pepper to taste

Bring medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and boil until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain, reserving about 1/2 to 1 cup water. Add 1 tbsp butter and adding back cooking water, mash until smooth. Whip with a spoon until light and fluffy. Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add carrot, celery, shallots, thyme, rosemary and a pinch of salt. Cook 10 minutes. Add ground beef and mushrooms and saute until beef is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Break up any chunks and salt and pepper to taste. Add flour and stir well to combine. Cook another 2 minutes. Add broth and cook until thickened, another minute or 2.

Dump meat and vegetable mixture into a 9 inch pie plate and level. Pile mashed potatoes on and smooth to edges with a spoon. Using a fork, create fun little ridges with the potatoes. Break up 2 tbsp butter and spread evenly over top. Bake in oven 30 minutes. Broil until potatoes are lightly browned, about 3 minutes.

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Avocado puree

2 words to the wise

Avocado puree is probably pretty self-explanatory, but unless you plan on feeding baby the entire thing in one sitting, you'll want to freeze some for later. Avocado can be a little tricky with it's tendency to brown almost immediately. I figured I'd share the method I used.

Avocado Puree
Makes 6 1 ounce servings

1 ripe avocado
breast milk, formula or water

Slice the avocado in half and remove the seed. Running a tablespoon along the inside of the skin, gently scoop out flesh and place flat side down on the counter. Slice lengthwise into 1/2 inch slices. Keep 1-2 slices out and place the rest in a freezer bag or plastic container. Take the 2 slices and mash with a fork in a small feeding bowl until smooth. Add breast milk, formula or water until you achieve your desired consistency.

Now with those frozen slices, I just remove 2 and drop in a bowl and nuke for 15-20 seconds and mash and add liquid as described above. It works great for keeping the avocado from turning brown.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Acorn squash puree – baby's first vegetable puree

2 words to the wise

I'm making my own baby food, surprise of all surprises. So far baby has had avocado, rice cereal (not homemade) and oatmeal(not homemade). Earlier this week I prepared her first vegetable, acorn squash. It was super easy. I can't wait until she's old enough for me to begin adding spices to things. The squash was a hit!
Acorn Squash Puree
Makes 12 1 ounce servings

1 acorn squash

Preheat oven to 400. Cut acorn squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Place flat sides down in a deep dish (I used a 9x13 casserole). Pour about an inch of water into the dish and bake uncovered for 40 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Reserve cooking water.

Scoop flesh from skins and place into your preferred pureeing mechanism. I dropped mine in a bowl and used an immersion blender. In retrospect, this was messy and splattered me and my kitchen! I'll be using a mini-processor from now on. Puree until smooth, slowly adding water until you achieve your desired consistency. Serve immediately once cooled or pour into ice trays, cover and freeze. Once frozen, dump into freezer storage bags. Serve within 4 weeks. To thaw, place one or 2 cubes in covered container in fridge overnight or microwave until thawed (be sure to allow to cool before serving).

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1 words to the wise

Things I never would have guessed but have discovered in my first 5 months of being a new mom:

1. That I'd walk in to work at least 1 day a week with puke on me.
2. That I'd have to plan an extra 30 minute buffer into anything (in case of blow-out, etc.) to be on time.
3. That date night would consist of take-out on the couch.
4. That I can do almost anything with 1 hand!
5. That I would narrate virtually everything I do as I do it, for my child.
6. That dinner would be eaten between 8-9 pm.
7. That I could change a diaper probably blindfolded.
8. That I wouldn't even mind changing diapers.
9. That I'd wash my hands so much that I have alligator skin.
10. That I can function on 3-4 hours of sleep, for weeks on end (though I really prefer not to).
11. That I'd fully comprehend how much love the human heart is capable of.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Molten Lava Crunch Cake

5 words to the wise

I got my weekly crap bundle of coupons in the mail yesterday and in it is an insert for Domino's. Apparently they've got this dessert now, 2 of them for $3.99. Has anyone tried it? I think It's worth ordering the pizza to try it out. Hmmm easy dinner tonight! I'll report back tomorrow :)

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Monday, August 10, 2009

Photos of the Day – Wedded Bliss

2 words to the wise

I am just starting to sort through some 400+ photos taken this weekend. Pawleys Island is BEAUTIFUL!!

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Backyard BBQ Pit #2 - Guess Road, Durham

1 words to the wise

Friday night I got take-out from Backyard BBQ Pit #2. While this restaurant is not my idea of a great place to dine-in, the take out was GREAT! They have an extensive selection, the food was hot, good and extremely reasonably priced.

We got 2 small BBQ plates which come with 2 sides and hushpuppies. Between the two plates we had well over a pound of barbeque, homemade baked mac and cheese, homemade collards (not from a can), black eyed peas and green beans. All of the sides were fantastic. The mac and cheese was amongst the best I've had out in the area. It was filled with gobs of cheddar, no slimy velveeta sauce. The portions of barbeque were huge and more then we could finish. My husband wasn't wild about the sweeter sauce that came on the side (he prefers vinegary), but I thought it was great on the 'que.

All of this for $12 made one of our cheapest "date nights" on the couch ever.

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