Recipe Roundup: Closet Cooking Part 1

As any regular readers will know, it’s been a looooong time since I’ve posted here on Monkeying Around The Kitchen. Unfortunately, with work and all kinds of other things going one — raising our two year old and prepping for a new little baby — MATK can fall to the wayside. But, I’m still cooking almost every night which means I have a huge backlog of meals to talk about going back to last fall. So, in an effort to try and document the good recipes I’ve tried out in the last few months, I figured I’d implement a new kind of a post called Recipe Roundup that will gather a bunch of meals from different places, throw in a few pics and do my best to remember how they turned out.

Today’s subject is one of my favorite new cooking sites, Closet Cooking¬†which is great because there’s tons of older recipes on there and the site gets updated constantly. I also appreciate that Kevin Lynch seems to be cooking in a kitchen even smaller than mine which is no small feat. So, without further ado, hit the jump to check out the first batch of CC recipes I’ve tried out in the past few months!¬† Continue reading

Cooking Burrito Pie

I’ve become a pretty big fan of, especially their app for the iPhone which has a spinner option that allows you to put in what kind of meal/dish you’re working on, the main ingredient and how long you want to cook it. I’ve come up with some really interesting recipes thanks to that like this one for Burrito Pie. It’s a really simple recipe that had pretty tasty results and most of the ingredients are canned which means the utensil you’ll be using the most is your can opener.

The recipe says to start the oven at 350 first, but I waited until I was further along with cooking the beef, onions and all the other canned stuff before getting to that step. No sense in wasting gas, right? So, I got to work on the beef and onions, then mixed in all the canned goods. While doing this I actually got my finger pretty bad on one of the lids, so watch out for that. That’s never happened to me, but I’ve also never had a toddler pushing me around while trying to cook, so it might not be as much of a problem for everyone else.

Anyway, as you can see in the pics, I used my high-sided pan, but I would probably ditch that in favor of my Dutch oven next time because it was hard to mix everything together without it spilling all over the place. While that was simmering for the allotted 20 minutes, I got the oven heating, shredded the cheddar cheese and got everything else ready for assembling. This is pretty much the same thing as putting a lasagna together where you’re layering the ingredients over and over. The recipe suggests using a high baking dish, but I decided to split it in half and use pie plates which I thought worked out well. Those went into the oven and boom, you’ve got a filling dinner that doesn’t take as much work as, say, enchiladas, which I like to eat out, but don’t like making.

I would imagine you could freeze a whole pie if you made this recipe the same way I did, though I’m not sure how long it would keep. We had a few tricky days after I made this, so we wound up eating both and it tasted great fresh and re-heated. All those classic Mexican ingredients mingled well together and didn’t get too spicy, so this will definitely be a keeper, especially for days when things are getting a little crazy and you don’t have time to do a ton of prep work.

A Few Thoughts On Giant Burritos

I first discovered the world of giant burritos in college. Actually, I really first discovered Mexican food in general in college, but that’s a story for another day. Up to that point, I’d really only had Taco Bell. Then I discovered a place about 30 minutes away from school (which was kind of in the middle of nowhere, though there was a Taco Bell fairly close) called Chipotle. The idea with this place was that you could choose various kinds of meat, rice, beans, salsa and a few other things to throw on the tortilla, fold it up origami style and shove into your face. Thus my fascination with giant burritos was born.

We ate at Chipotle whenever we could in college, but then I moved back to Toledo where we didn’t have giant burritos (a Chipotle moved in right around the time I moved out). As you’d expect, it was a sad time. Then, a few months later, I got a job at Wizard, moved out to New York and wound up eating lunch about once a week in the big Palisades mall nearby. What did they have there? A Qdoba!

Qdoba is very similar to Chipotle, but they also throw in other options like Queso (covering it in melted cheese) or mole and a variety of other flavors and sauces. For the longest time I actually had trouble keeping them separate in my head — it didn’t help that I had easy access to both when I worked down in New York City. But, after heading down to eat lunch at a new Chipotle with my wife and some of her friends I realized something, I like Qdoba better. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with Chipotle and I quite enjoyed my giant burrito (steak with pinto beans, regular salsa, sour cream and cheese), but I just prefer variety and Qdoba has more of it. Now all I need is for a Qdoba to open up near us as we are in the land of no giant burritos currently. Sigh.

Bonus Food Pic: The Big Eli Burrito At Taco Shack

Taco Shack
255 Main Street
New Paltz, New York
(next to K&E Beverage)
(845) 255-2366

This is how much I love burritos. A few weeks back, my wife and I went to New Paltz’s Taco Shack to get some food. On the menu I saw a burrito named after Eli Manning. Now, I don’t get into football talk much here on Monkeying Around The Kitchen, but I am a Steelers fan. Living in New York has been rough because I’ve heard the sports pundits go from absolutely hating Eli Manning to praising him as the second coming. Anyway, the burrito was packed with enough goodness that I was able to see past my dislike of NY sports teams and enjoy a delicious lunch. I wish I could remember what was in this one, but it’s been too long and I just dove in without thinking too much about what was happening to me. Needless to say, even if Taco Shack doesn’t still have the Big Eli, it’s absolutely worth heading there and getting Mexican. It looks exactly like what the name says, but the food never disappoints.

Bonus Food Pic: Avocado’s Carnitas Burrito

Avocado Mexican Restaurant
2576 Route 9W,
Cornwall NY 12518
(845) 534-3350

If you like Mexican food and live in the Orange County area, do yourself a favor and head over to Avocado. My wife and I have been fans of the place since it opened a year or two back and recently went there to celebrate a special occasion. As usual, we were not disappointed with the results and both walked away full and happy.

I’ll be honest, I tend to have a bad memory when it comes to exactly what combination of tortilla, meat, cheese and rice I’m ordering at any given Mexican restaurant is, but I love a good burrito and thankfully, they have awesome ones. This time, I tried the Carnitas version which is described on the menu as “Michoacan style pork carnitas, refired beans, rice, pico de gallo, cheese and chipotle sauce.” I wasn’t really sure what any of that meant ahead of time, but what I wound up with was a burrito packed with porky goodness and covered with a sweet sauce that I wish I had in my refrigerator at all times. I had eaten kind of a late lunch that day, so I took some of the burrito home and ate the leftovers the next day for lunch and it was just as good. So, there you have it. Eat burritos at Avocado and you’ll be happy.