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You may have noticed by now, I am not much for detailed recipes.  My goal is simply to provide inspiration. I don’t usually list ingredients up front, and I often estimate or encourage you to experiment with substitutions.  Most things that I cook do not require sophisticated skills, equipment, or ingredients.  If you change a little bit here or there, not one will be the wiser.

When I was first learning to cook, I was a by the book, word for word, step by step kind of girl.  I needed to know exactly how many carrots to use and exactly how long to bake them for.  One time in college, I tried to make chocolate chip cookies from some recipe I found online.  The recipe had a major typo – it said to use 1/2 cup of salt, instead of 1/2 tsp of salt.  But here is the best part – I did it! 

Well, I’ve come along way since then.  I still follow recipes on occasion, mostly for baked goods or sauces where proportions can really make a difference.   Other times, I just take inspiration from recipes I find on the food network, in magazines, or on other blogs, and change ingredients to suit my taste (and my pantry).  More often, I just make it up as I go.  My CSA membership has encouraged this even more. 

Tonight for example, I had tri-tip steak defrosted in the refrigerator, but didn’t have any plans for what to serve with it.  I needed something quick because we were going to try to eat at the same time as the Little Man, and Cheerios were only going to last him so long.  So, I opened the produce drawer and found carrots and swiss chard (both from my CSA box).  I have never made those three things together in my life, but thought it might work out.  And it was in fact, quite delicious. 

So, here’s what I did.  I set the oven to 400 and started peeling the carrots.  I got them on a baking sheet, drizzled olive oil over them, and sprinkled some kosher salt over them (This is a fantastic way to cook carrots – my absolute favorite!). 

On to the steak!  I heated olive oil in a pan over medium high heat until it was sizzling.  I sprinkled the steak with some Lawry’s Seasoned Salt (which is a really easy but effective way to season meat, by the way) and placed in the pan.  I flipped it around until browned on all sides and then put the lid on the pan to help the steak cook through.

Next I put olive oil in a second pan and brought it up to medium high heat.  I sliced an onion and the swiss chard.  I started with just the onion in the pan (sofrito effect) and then added the swiss chard.  The chard melted down like spinach.  I thought it might be a little bitter on its own, so I decided to add a bit of sweetness with a dressing of sorts.  I sprinkled it with kosher salt, then added a few shakes of balsamic vinegar, a splash of Worcestershire, and a squeeze of Dijon mustard and mixed.  I was careful not to add to much of the “dressing” because I thought it could be overkill. 

Right about then, the steak and carrots were looking done.  I piled the swiss chard onto the plates first and placed the carrots on top.  I sliced the tri tip and added it to the pile. 

Delish and nutrish (and it even looked a bit fancy)!

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Always.

My dad is a creature of habit. He goes to the same Cuban coffee shop twice a day, every day, and orders a shot of espresso. He has lived in the same house for over 40 years. He always eats cereal for breakfast and soup and saltines for lunch.  

Always.

Me and My Dad

When I tell him about something I am cooking, invariably, he says, always start with a sofrito. This is just one of the many pieces of advice that comprise the world according to my dad (others include, fix bayonets and charge and make your bed.) This advice could be the subject of an entire book.  But before we get to more recipes, I think we need to at least address the sofrito issue.

What is a sofrito? Essentially it is the beginning of all good cooking. You start with a little olive oil in a pan over medium heat. My dad then adds diced onion, garlic, and green pepper. I usually just do the onion and garlic. Cook until softened. And there you go! Sofrito. Sofrito is traditionally used in Latin cooking, but Sofrito makes almost anything better. Making burgers? Add sofrito into the burger mixture before forming your patties. Making Spaghetti with meat sauce? Start with a sofrito.  Making stir fry? You get the point, right?

Some people add more to their sofrito, but even the basic onion and garlic will completely change your dish.

About Me

Mom to a one-year-old Super Bunny. Amateur cook and photographer. Tiny living enthusiast. Lawyer who would rather write about muffins than motive.

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