hypercello

A glimpse into my life

Why didn’t anyone tell me?

grilling our hobo stew and corn on the cob

Why didn’t anyone tell me how awesome it is to grill out?  I have absolutely fallen in love with grilling out.  What started as a way to not heat up our house during the heat wave has turned into (as my husband would probably say) an obsession.  My gamma had a grill that hasn’t been touched in many years, so she told us to take it.  All it needed was a little TLC (and lots of elbow grease) to get it looking brand new!  I wish I had grabbed it last year when we moved into this house.  We’ve used it each weekend now (I’d be using it every night, but it’s hard to grill and watch the little one).  So far I’ve made:

  • burgers (of course), with seasoned salt and minced garlic mixed in
  • quartered a chicken (first time ever!) and used the Trinidad Lemon Garlic Marinade from the Spice House (leftovers were turned into a very tasty chicken salad for lunches)
  • corn on the cob (only caught one on fire since I didn’t keep re-wetting the husks)
  • Hobo Stew (as we called it growing up)–burger, carrots, onions, potatoes, whatever else you want tossed in a foil packet
  • sliced potatoes, with butter and Grippo’s Bar-B-Q seasoning in a foil packet
  • baby carrots with honey and brown sugar in a foil packet

yummy hobo stew and corn on the cob

Tonight we’re making hot sausages with green beans, and tomorrow night we’re going to try to cook pizzas.  I’ve heard peaches are good on it, so I might toss a few of those on, too.

What are your favorite things to grill out?

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Au Gratin Potatoes

I tried the Au Gratin Potatoes and Ham from A Modern Christian Woman‘s blog.  The first pan was so big we were eating on them for a week.  So this time, I tweaked them to be smaller and fit what we had on hand, and they turned out delicious, so I thought I’d share my version of them.  Make sure you check her’s out too!  Wonderful!  We enjoyed the potatoes with some polish sausage, and a nice salad.  Great dinner (and very cheap, too!).

Au Gratin Potatoes

For the cheese sauce:
1 1/2 Tbsp. butter
1 1/2 Tbsp. flour
1 1/2 cup milk
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
1/4- 1/2 tsp. (or more to taste, I’m not sure how much I put in–kept sprinkling it it) cayenne pepper
1/2- 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup shredded cheese (we’ve done it with cheddar and colby)

For the potaotes:
4-5 potaotes, sliced thin (we peeled them the second time we made it)
1/4- 1/2 pound polish sausage, cubed
1/2- 1 small onion, diced
2-4 cloves garlic, minced (depends on your taste)
1/2- 1 cup shredded cheese

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, and spray a square 9″ glass casserole dish with cooking spray (or use butter).
  2. In a medium saucepan,  melt the butter and whisk in the flour.  Add the milk, mustard, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.  Whisk occasionally until it starts to boil and get thicker (I prep the potato ingredients during this time, and only have the heat on medium).  Take the sauce off the heat, and add the 1 cup cheese, stirring until it’s melted.
  3. Place half the potatoes in the bottom of the dish, and top with half of the sausage, onion, garlic, and cheese sauce.  Repeat the layers one more time, and top with the 1/2- 1 cup shredded cheese.
  4. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the top is browned and the sauce is bubbly.  Enjoy!

A few tips:

  • After you slice the potatoes, keep them in a water bath–this prevents them from changing color.
  • Mix the onions and garlic together–makes it easier to evenly spread the garlic in the dish.
  • Play with the spices to get them to your liking.  Taste the sauce before adding the cheese.  When you think you have it just right, add just a little more to it (since it has to coat all the potatoes).
  • It seems to take me about 45 minutes to prep everything and get the sauce made–make sure you give yourself plenty of time to make it.

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Black bean and corn salad

With summer approaching (and the threat of higher temperatures), I’ve been making more dishes that don’t require cooking.  One of my favorite ones to make (and munch on all week) is black bean and corn salad.  It’s awesome on my tortillas (as I’ve shared before), great with tortilla chips, awesome on its own, wonderful on crackers…the list is endless.  I never seem to make it the same way twice–it all depends on what I have on hand.  I hope you enjoy it as we do!

Black bean and corn salad

  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (or 1 1/2-2 cups black beans you cook yourself)
  • 2 cups frozen corn (you do not need to cook the corn)
  • 1-2 jalapenos, (mostly) seeded and diced
  • 1/2-1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1/2-1 small onion (I love using a red onion, but have used whatever I have on hand)
  • juice of 1 lime (have used lemon juice before)
  • fresh cilantro (I usually use a handful), chopped
  • 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-2 tsp cumin (also have used chili powder instead)
  • 1-2 tomatoes, chopped
  1. Combine black beans, corn, onion, green pepper, jalapenos, and cilantro in a large bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, olive oil, and cumin to make the dressing (a trick I learned to get more juice out of the lime is to roll it around on the counter top while applying pressure to it.  Gets it nice and juicy!).
  3. Add the dressing to the salad, mix well, and chill for a few hours.
  4. Right before serving, add the tomatoes and mix well.
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Homemade tortillas

I’ve really been enjoying making my own tortillas the past few weeks.  I love the way they taste, and they are much cheaper than the ones you can buy in the store (even though mine still aren’t round at all, but that’s just a work in progress).  This is the recipe I use–don’t remember where I picked it up from, but I’ve adjusted it a bit from how I first made them.


Homem
ade Tortillas (12-14 nine inch ones)

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting your work area
1/16 tsp baking powder (I know, such a small amount)
1/4 c butter, softened
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 c warm water

  1. Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl.
  2. Using your hands, mix the butter in until it resembles a course cornmeal consistency.
  3. Slowly pour the water in while mixing until a soft dough is formed (I don’t always use all the water).  My dough always stays a bit sticky at this point.
  4. Set the dough on a lightly floured surface, and turn the bowl over it.  Let it rest for about 20 minutes.
  5. Divide the dough into about 12 pieces.  Roll the dough as thinly as possible, making round tortillas.
  6. Heat a skillet over medium heat.  Once it’s hot (I test by sprinkling water on it), put a tortilla on it, and cook it for 15-30 seconds on each side.  You know it’s done when bubbles form and it’s lightly browned.

These stay good in the fridge for up to a week (we haven’t tried freezing them yet–they don’t last that long around here!).  Enjoy!
What do you enjoy on your tortillas?  I’m always looking for new things to try.

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Scratch cooking

Recently I’ve become very upset with how much artificial foods we eat everyday.  It seems like so many foods now have high fructose corn syrup (I’ve seen applesauce with it in there–seriously?  Isn’t applesauce sweet enough??), or they have a slew of ingredients that I cannot pronounce.  It doesn’t seem right to be putting all that crap into our bodies.  I also shop with a very limited budget for food, and all the “convenience” foods really are expensive when you factor in how little they make.  So, I’ve been cooking a lot more from scratch.  I’ve learned to make tortillas (sure, they aren’t round, or really any shape yet, but boy are they good!) which Dalton absolutely loves.  I’ve been making muffins and storing them in the freezer to grab as a quick breakfast on my way out the door with a piece of fruit and a hard boiled egg (much healthier than a huge bowl of frosted cereal).  I have hummus in the fridge to snack on with veggies.  I have a (very spicy) black bean and corn salad chilling out in the fridge for lunches.  It takes a bit more work, but I think it’ll be a lot healthier for us in the long run.

So dinner tonight?  I think it looks pretty yummy, don’t you?  Homemade tortilla with rice and the black bean and corn salad.  I think I’ll enjoy some pineapple with it, too.

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