Tag Archives: jalapenos

Our Perfect Meal

Smoked pork tenderloin, stir-fried cabbage & Texas caviar - oh, my!

The Complete Package and I have discovered our perfect meal. We made it this weekend, but usually we save it for New Year’s Day. It’s one of our favorites of all time and it confirms my theory that sometimes the simplest foods are the most wonderful. Here’s the rundown:

Pork Tenderloin
rubbed with Salt Lick dry rub (it’s spicy & wonderful) and smoked over oak

Stir-Fried Cabbage
green cabbage chopped & braised in a hot skillet with bacon, salt & black pepper

Texas Caviar
black-eyed peas w/jalapeno, purple onion, cilantro, red wine vinegar & olive oil

Oh, baby. Who wouldn’t love to put down a plate of this cabbage? When you add a slab of smokey pork tenderloin and Texas caviar, it’s amazing. Try it for yourself and see if you don’t agree. It’s simple. Beautiful. Flavorful. Perfect.

One tip: if you’re sensitive to cabbage, consider serving this meal with a simple appetizer – Beano. {And just like that, she makes a subliminal fart joke.}

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New Year’s Day in the South: It’s all about traditions and our ‘lucky’ foods

Black-eyed peas are a New Year's Day tradition for good fortune & prosperity.

Here in the south, we are hell-bent on consuming our traditional lucky foods on New Year’s Day. In particular, we’re partial to black-eyed peas. Tradition also dictates that we pair them with pork and greens, variations of which depend on the cook’s preference. In our home, it’s a smoked pork tenderloin (which The Complete Package has mastered) and cabbage stir-fried with bacon. According to folklore, the black-eyed peas represent coins and the greens represent paper money. In order to be blessed with good fortune and prosperity throughout the year, you should eat 365 peas (one for each day) and as much cabbage as your intestines can process (or the Beano wears off). Pork is also supposed to bring luck, although I’ve also heard that it represents progress, since pigs always move forward as they forage. Either way, we’re covered. To celebrate the new year, and to help share fortune and prosperity with all of you, I’m posting my favorite lucky black-eyed pea recipe.

NanaBread’s Texas Caviar:
• 2 cans of black-eyed peas, 15 ozs. each
• ¼ cup purple onion, finely minced
• 2-3 jalapeno peppers, seeded & minced
• 2 cloves of garlic, pressed or finely minced
• 1 teaspoon season salt (Penzey’s or Lawry’s)
• ¼ cup red wine vinegar
• ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
• ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
• Additional salt & pepper, to taste

Drain and rinse the black-eyed peas and dump them into a mixing bowl. Add the minced onion, peppers, garlic, season salt, vinegar and olive oil. Toss to combine and taste to determine if additional salt and pepper is needed. (Note: I like to use Penzey’s 4/S season salt, and I use a combination of the regular AND the spicy version of it.) Once you have the seasonings right, toss in the chopped cilantro. Stir to combine, pour into an air-tight container with a tight-fitting lid and place in the refrigerator to chill. This is served as a cold salad, but I like to take it out of the fridge about 20-30 minutes before serving. Of course, it can also be served up immediately, or you can let it marinate in the fridge overnight. Either way, it’s delicious. And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can serve this as a dip with a big bag of tortilla chips.

As a side note, I just read that foods in the shape of a circle are considered good luck for the New Year. Thank you, Jesus! Now I can add donuts to my New Year’s Day menu without guilt. This is going to be the BEST…YEAR….EVER!!!

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Homemade Tortilla Soup

I love simple foods – meals made with a few quality ingredients while they’re in season that taste wonderful together. Nothing fancy, just good simple food. This recipe starts with a rotisserie chicken from your deli. It’s easy, it can be ready in an hour, and you’ll find yourself wanting it again and again. It’s good for whatever ails you. Don’t let the length of the recipe put you off. It’s broken it into steps so it’s easier to follow.

Homemade Tortilla Soup - It's a Good Thing


First, start the soup base in a stock pot:
One rotisserie chicken, small (plain, not flavored)
Two 32-ounce cartons of chicken broth
1 tablespoon of powdered chicken bullion
1 large clove of garlic, peeled but left whole
Salt and black pepper to taste (added at the end)

Put the first 4 ingredients into your pot; cover and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes. Remove the garlic clove and toss it. Remove the chicken and allow it to cool for 10 minutes, then pull the meat off, removing the skin and bones. Chop into bite-size pieces and return it to the pot. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Start a pan of steamed rice:
1 cup white rice, uncooked (I love Texmati basmati rice)
2 teaspoons of canola oil
1 3/4 cups of water
1 teaspoon of salt

Heat the canola oil in a medium pan. When the oil is hot, add the rice and toast it, stirring often, for 3-4 minutes. Add the water and salt, stir to combine, then cover tightly with a piece of aluminum foil, put a lid on and make sure it’s snug, then turn the heat down to medium low. Cook for 25 minutes, and don’t peek. I mean it. Let your rice cook in peace.

While that’s warming up, toss together a bowl of pico de gallo:
One large ripe tomato, chopped
One small yellow onion, minced
2 jalapenos, seeded and minced
One teaspoon of garlic salt
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
Juice squeezed from one fresh lime

Toss all of this into a bowl, mixing well. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

Once that’s done, make your tortilla strips:
10-12 yellow corn tortillas, cut into narrow strips about 1″ long
Pam or other cooking spray
1/2 teaspoon of salt

On a cookie sheet, spread your tortilla strips out into a single layer so they will toast evenly; spray lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt. Bake at 400F for 20 minutes, tossing them half-way through, until they are lightly browned and crispy. Could you cheat and use tortilla chips from a bag? Sure, but it won’t taste good, and they’ll turn to mush almost instantly. I don’t recommend it.

Prep your final toppings:
One avocado, peeled and chopped into chunks
8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, grated
Fresh cilantro, chopped
One lime, cut into quarters

Okay, so now for the good part. To serve, get a large soup bowl for each person and layer the ingredients in the following order:
1/2 cup of steamed rice
1 1/2 – 2 cups of chicken soup base with chopped chicken
tortilla strips (as many as you like)
grated Monterey jack cheese (don’t be stingy)
pico de gallo (at least a couple of spoons full)
avocado chunks and cilantro, to your taste
finish with a squeeze of lime juice over the top

Dig in immediately! Tortilla soup waits for no one. Eat it right away while the broth is still steaming hot and the tortilla strips are still crunchy. If you have leftovers, you can combine the rice and soup stock in one container. Store the pico de gallo, grated cheese and other fresh ingredients in their own separate containers. Most importantly, sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. As they say, “soup is good food.”

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