It’s a Steak Off!

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So what on earth is a steak off?  If you’ve ever seen the movie Zoolander and are familiar with the walk off scene than you pretty much know the idea of a steak off. A good friend of mine is a great cook, and we regularly swap recipe ideas and have cooked for each other and our non-cooking counterparts several times.

One night last week, after several glasses of wine, we decided that a steak off was necessary. My boyfriend and his girlfriend are strangers to the kitchen so they loved this idea and also the idea of being guinea pigs for our steak recipe research.

Our categories for the steak off are: taste, presentation, wine pairing, awesomeness of side item, and of course an actual walk off in case of a tie breaker.

So I decided to turn to the public with my ideas for the steak off:

1) Steak Au Poivre: This is essentially pepper coated steak in a pan sauce made with beef stock and brandy.  This is also one of Julia Child’s famous recipes so if it works for her I think it could work for me. ( I made this recipe this weekend and the boyfriend gave his seal of approval)

2) Steak with some form of Bone Marrow: I’ve had steak with bone marrow butter twice at restaurants (one in Miami and one here in New Orleans). Both times it was fabulous. I think bone marrow is the right ingredient to throw off my competitor, but it’s also something that can throw me off too….because I’ve never cooked with it before, and I’m not quite sure how to incorporate it into a butter.

3.) Steak with a fancy reduction: I was thinking of a wine or balsamic reduction to go over the steak, also my competitors girlfriend loves balsamic stuff so I figured it could win her over to my side.

My sides will probably range from risotto, to potatoes, to a light salad. Plating and wines will be worked on in the next couple weeks before the Steak-Off. Also my competitor will most likely grill his steak (that’s just his style), I will sear mine on both sides and then finish it in the oven.We will also be using the same cuts of meat to avoid any variables of tenderness and so on.

So to all my loyal readers, any fancy steak ideas that you think will blow everyone away?  Any side items suggestions are welcome as well.

Gettin’ Saucy with the Supreme Court

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Lately the Supreme Court (or as some people like to say SCOTUS) has been a hot topic especially with their recent rulings regarding Arizona law SB 1070 and Obamacare.  I decided that the best way to discuss these rulings is to first, admit that I am not a constitutional law scholar or expert in any way, shape, or form.

Second, the other way I am going to discuss this is with my other love–food. I thought a good way of keeping the conversation light, but still semi-informative would to be give your opinion with a sauce.

So if you like the actions of the supreme court I suggest you go with my cool avocado dipping sauce.  This goes great with grilled goodies.

  • 1 whole avocado
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt (you can add more later to taste)
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • a pinch cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes (again you can add more later)

Put all of these ingredients into a blender/food processor and enjoy!

If you really didn’t like what the Supreme Court had to say, and are feeling fired up about it then I’d say you better whip up my roasted red pepper dip.This goes great on chips or bagels.

  • 8-12 oz. cream cheese (get the good stuff
  • 12 oz. roasted red peppers, drained and dried or one’s you roasted yourself.
  • 1 tsp. hot smoked paprika
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes (if you need more spice add sriracha to the mix later.
  • 3/4 tsp. salt

Put all of the ingredients in a blender/food processor and pulse til smooth.

Last if you’re completely confused by the rulings, or just feel ambivalent towards them, then go read someone else’s blog (just kidding)! I say you fall into my weird pesto category, as you know pesto is usually made with basil and pine nuts.  However this one takes a weird turn, but is still really tasty.

  • 1 cup walnut pieces
  • 2 cups cilantro leaves, washed, drained and stemmed
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar

Grind the walnuts in the food processor/blender first, then add the other ingredients with 2-3 tbsp of water.  You can add more water for consistency purposes, just know that you can’t take it back once it’s there so add slowly.

So how do you feel about all of this? When was the last time in recent history that supreme court ruling garnered the same amount of attention and impact?

oh also I hope all my readers have a very happy and safe 4th of July!

 

The Vagina Effect!

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This is the second time I’ve gotten to write a title that would make my mama blush. Everyone already knows about Rep. Lisa Brown dropping the “vagina” bomb, and subsequently being banned to speak. To be honest, I didn’t even know the house had decorum rules that would ban someone from speaking, and I’ve only found one other instance of it and it involved a personal attack, you can read about it here.

Here’s the exact quote, “I’m flattered you’re all so interested in my vagina. But no means no.” So what’s the big deal?

The main counterargument seems to be that Republicans were upset that she alluded to rape in the “no means no” part of her quip. My argument is so what if she referenced rape, isn’t rape against the law, and isn’t the house floor a place to talk about laws? It shouldn’t be taboo or against decorum to bring up rape, it’s very real and salient issue in our society.  I think it’s a little extreme to bar someone’s freedom of speech after a hint towards the topic of rape. Controversial topics getting voted and talked about all the time, for heaven sakes, the supreme court used to watch porn! (only for the purpose of defining obscenity, but still).

Even if they want to hide behind Rep. Brown’s indirect mention of rape, it still doesn’t explain why Rep. Barb Byrum was shut out during her proposal of making men prove their life was in danger to get a vasectomy. As far as I can tell that had nothing to do with rape or any violation of decorum.

I’ve previously posted about how I feel about the government invasion into women’s bodies, so I won’t go into that again, but even if you don’t agree with the issue, silencing someone is not the proper way to win an argument. In my opinion that just shows you’re afraid. So, I’m glad that Reps. Brown and Byrum and other legislators found a way to turn this incident into positive activism by performing the Vagina Monologues on the steps of the Michigan state capital. This is a great way to bring awareness to fact that women’s rights are slowly being infringed upon.

What do you think of the representatives being silenced? the proposed law pushed aside, do you think either one of them violated a sense of decorum?

Events that Inspired my Interest in Politics

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Lately, I haven’t posted anything politics related. So, I decided that today I would share the events in my life that made me interested in politics. There are a lot of political events I could site as inspiring, but I wanted to actually write about events that I have personally been through instead of something I’ve read in a textbook.

First I’ll have to say that I lucked out and had a great English teacher in eighth grade. She assigned the two books–Fahrenheit 451 and Animal Farm, both showed me how much government decisions can actually or potentially affect daily life. Before these books, lawmakers were a concept far away in my mind, and they didn’t need any attention.  12-13 years old was my first political awakening.

Around the same time, I was taking karate and competing on a local and national level. My mom and I were trying to find a coach that would help me do better in sparring, and everyone we talked to recommended the same coach. Needless to say, my mother came back to me and said he just wasn’t going to work. After a month of endless asking, my mom broke down and told me that he didn’t want to train girls. I was shocked, I knew I was a decent fighter and I had trained with a good number of the boys he was training at the time.  It was so weird to me that I couldn’t train because of something I couldn’t help. After this I was on the internet researching other incidents similar to this, I needed to know if other girls experienced this, and I honestly I found way too many results…in my opinion, this was my introduction to gender and sexuality studies.

My next and probably biggest draw to politics came from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the whole country got to see what a mess Louisiana is/was. I saw my friends’ neighborhoods flooded due to levee failures. I was glued to the TV waiting for local officials to tell me when I could go home, and when I got home there was a curfew in place. Racial disparities that were never talked about were finally exposed. Let’s just say the government was way more involved in my life during that year than I ever expected.

The last event I’ll mention took place after I declared my major as political science, but this definitely cemented my decision. During my semester abroad in Argentina, I accidentally took part in a protest, and yes I mean accidentally. Within my first week in Buenos Aires my host family asked if I wanted to go with them somewhere…I kinda missed the “where” part (my Spanish wasn’t so great at this point), but I just went along anyway.  We walked about two blocks and my family was talking to a bunch of other people that they seem to know.   Then all of a sudden everyone is pulling pots and pans out of their purses and backpacks, and my host brother is wrapping an Argentine flag around himself. I get thrown a pot and spoon and get told to make noise. Apparently my family was very upset with a speech made by the president earlier in the week. It hit me that I had never participated in a protest, in the U.S. the idea of marching and protesting had seemed extreme, but in Argentina this was a normal Tuesday afternoon. This little protest showed me that I could get involved back home whether it was something big or small, and being upset with my government and saying something about it was not necessarily an extreme act…you just need to make a little noise.

These aren’t all the events that turned me to political science, but these are just the big ones that stand out in my memory.  What personal events turned your interest to or from politics?

5 Foods I Wish I Could Find Locally

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As most of you know, I live in New Orleans, a great place for food.  However, there’s a couple of cuisines that get overshadowed by our awesome creole, Cajun diet. So here’s my jealousy list-essentially foods I have a hard time finding within my city or foods that taste better somewhere else.

1.) Pierogies- I can’t tell you the first time I had pierogies, but I know it was outside of New Orleans. These are dumplings usually filled with potatoes and cheese and cooked in butter and onions. They’re usually associated with Poland, and there’s not much of a Polish presence in New Orleans hence the total lack of pierogies.  I have found a pop up kitchen that makes them on Sundays, but I would really kill for access to pierogies 7 days a week.

2.) Milanesa Napolitana – This is a lightly breaded steak topped with tomato sauce, cheese, and sometimes ham that’s popular in Argentina. Yes, I know I can make it at home fairly easily, but the wide and easy availability of them in Buenos Aires completely spoiled me. There’s a couple of places that make just the breaded steak but without the accompaniments, and most of the time it comes out more like chicken fried steak then a lightly breaded crust. This was my go to lunch for around 6 months and I miss it dearly

3.) Kolaches- Going back to Eastern Europe for my culinary wants, I love kolaches–they’re essentially fruit filled dumplings. I first had these in Houston during my Katrina semester, a friend of mine couldn’t believe I had no idea what a kolache was and forced me to have one. It was awesome. Kolaches actually started me on eating breakfast again. (for a small period of time I was too cool and too rushed in the morning to eat breakfast–I still dont know what I was thinking). New Orleans is still clueless to the kolache and I’m about to beg some eastern europeans to move here and set up shop.

4.) Chinese Beef Jerky- I know this one sounds weird, but there’s several Chinese people that work in my department that get a shipment of about 50 lbs of Chinese beef jerky and other assorted Chinese goodies and split it amongst themselves. I asked to try and piece and it beat the crap out of a slim jim. They’re complexly seasoned, wonderfully spicy, and subtlety sweet. In case you’re wondering, I’m pitching in on the next order and trading them some deer sausage that I happen to have cause my family likes to hunt. You should totally get your hands on this if possible!

5.) Falafel- There is falafel in New Orleans and I always thought it was okay, but it was never my favorite thing on the menu. When I lived in D.C. for my internship, I stumbled upon a restaurant that was based solely around falafel. This is where I saw the potential that New Orleans was missing out on, this restaurant had so many toppings and sauces you could add to your falafel…it was amazing.  Falafel can be a vehicle for spicy, savory, or sweet flavors and it seems other cities take advantage of it better than us.

What are your favorite foods that aren’t available in your city? What else should I add to my list?

 

So What’s for Lunch? 5 Lunches in 5 Minutes

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So I finally broke down and started making my lunch everyday for work, and I’ll only allow myself an exception once a week. I usually cash in my exception on Monday for red beans and rice at a cafeteria near work, and also cause it’s Monday and I don’t want to do anything.  I’ve decided to post five days of simple lunches that can be made the night before or the morning of work. These recipes are pretty cheap as well, so you can put that extra money you saved towards a fabulous night out, or if you’re like me you really want an awesome vitamix blender but have no way of attaining it in the near future.

1.) Tuna and White Bean Salad

For the salad portion:

  • One package of tuna (I usually get the olive oil packed)
  • One can of white beans drained and rinsed (great northern, navy, etc)
  • Chopped red onion to taste

For the dressing, I usually make my dressing in 3:1 ratio of oil to vinegar (3 parts oil, 1 part vinegar…don’t do it the other way around, you’ll be quite upset)

  • Red Wine Vinegar or Lemon Juice
  • Minced garlic
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste

Combine salad and dressing portions separately, and then them both mix together. This recipes is fun to play with…you can make it more Mediterranean with the addition of capers. I’ve also thrown in some chopped up bacon in there as well. Throw in fresh parsley or put it over some arugula…this recipe is quite forgiving so edit as you please.

2.) Caprese Salad

  • 1 tomato sliced
  • 3-4 slices of FRESH mozzarella
  • 5-10 basil leaves (I grow my own)
  • balsamic vinegar (for drizzling)
  • extra virgin olive oil (for drizzling)
  • salt and pepper to taste

There’s variations on this recipe as well, if I have super fresh ingredients sometimes I just cover it with extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper to taste and forget the balsamic. Sometimes I’ve mixed this recipe with a can of drained and rinsed white beans to make it a little more hardy.

3.) Sandwiches!

  • 2 slices of toasted bread
  • 3-4 slices of deli meat
  • cheese of your choice
  • Mixture of dijon mustard and mayo to taste

Do not underestimate the power of a tasty sandwich. My mom made them for me everyday for years, and then during high school and college I had a sandwich hiatus, and now I’m back! Just avoid the dreaded sandwich rut….throw in fresh herbs if you have any, tomato slices leftover from your caprese salad are a welcome addition, bacon is always welcome.  I’ve been known to make basil BLTs. Go crazy! Butter is also an awesome condiment, if you have time grill your sandwich!

4) Black Bean and Corn Salad

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste, usually 1/2 tsp each.
  • 1/2 tsp white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder ( I usually add a pinch more)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (8.75 ounce) can sweet corn, drained

Combine all the ingredients except the cilantro, corn, and beans. Combine beans and corn (optional cilantro) and then mix the dressing on top. This is a recipe I play around with a lot.  For example, sometimes I add a can of garbanzo beans.  Sometimes I attempt a taco salad and add chicken, salsa, and tortilla chips.  Other times I put it on some greens with guacamole as the dressing.  Feel free to put these in a tortilla with some cheese and throw it in the microwave to make quesadilla.  This salad is really just a basis to keep on playing with whatever ingredients you have on hand.

5.) Naan Pizza

  • Naan (I usually buy garlic naan), pita bread will work too
  • Whatever ingredients you like on pizza

I use my toaster oven for this recipe, so it’s pretty quick. I usually make the pizza, stick in the the toaster oven for 10-15 minutes at 400 F, and then go finish getting ready for work, and come back to the oven when it starts to smell good from the other side of my apartment. I usually use my leftover caprese salad ingredients, plus tomato sauce. I’ve done just garlic and olive oil plus cheese, bacon, mushrooms, and spinach. Tomato sauce with bell peppers and onions is good too.

For these recipes, I do all the chopping of the veggies I’m going to use the night before and then assemble whatever I’m making in the morning to save time.

What are some of your quick go-to, homemade lunches? What additions or subtractions do you have for the recipes I’ve included?

Brazilian Truth and Rice

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I hope all of you out there can chuckle at my silly pun on “truth and lies.” Let’s just say that titles have never been my forte.

Moving on, it was just announced that Brazil would be forming a truth commission that would investigate human rights abuses that occurred between 1946 and 1988. This gives victims’ families the opportunity to finally get the truth. Sadly that’s all the truth commission can really offer to these families.  There will be no trials or prosecutions because of a military era issued amnesty in 1979, which was upheld when it was challenged in 2010. Another limitation is that this truth commission is only given 2 years to investigate crimes that occurred over a 40 year span.  In addition, retired officers are forming their own parallel commission in order to dispute unfavorable allegations that the truth commission might dig up (1).  Even though this commission seems like a positive move, I’m interested to see how much they can accomplish.

I applaud Brazil for taking this baby step towards helping victims and their families find answers, but unfortunately for them, they are surrounded by other Latin American countries that have done more to provide justice to those who were wronged. In October 2011, Uruguay revoked amnesty for crimes against humanity committed during their Dirty War dictatorship from 1973 to 1985 (2). Within the same month Argentina sentenced 12 ex-military officers and policemen to jail for crimes committed during their Dirty War (1976-1983) including ex Navy spy Alfredo Astiz, who is known as the “Angel of Death” and was a symbol of many of the atrocities committed during this time (3). Maybe continued examples from neighboring countries and the facts found during the truth commission’s research will lead to the revocation of amnesty in Brazil.

There is one thing that I can not argue with Brazil about and that is their way of preparing rice.  I know, rice sounds so simple, what could they do that’s so special? Trust me, this rice recipe can rock your world.

Now I got this recipe from watching my Brazilian dance teacher make it during a party. I’ll admit I might have been a couple of glasses of vino in when I was trying to observe the craziness that he was doing to the rice, but after soberly confirming what he did in an odd mixture of Spanish, Portuguese, and English I can safely say that I got this recipe down.

  • 2 cups long-grain white rice
  • 1/2 an onion minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups hot water (or 2 cups broth and 2 cups water-this is the way I do it)
  1. Place the rice in a colander and rinse thoroughly with cold water; set aside.**
  2. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion in the oil for about a  minute. Stir in the garlic and cook until the garlic is golden brown. Add the rice and salt and cook and stir until the rice begins to brown. Yes, you toast the rice as if it was a risotto
  3. Pour hot water or your broth and water mix over the rice and stir. Reduce heat to low, cover the saucepan, and allow to simmer until the water has been absorbed, 20 to 25 minutes.

** I’ve never quite figured out why the rice needs to be washed, but he was very specific about washing the rice, so I’ve kept it in the recipe.

This preparation just steps up regular old white rice to a new level.  I’ve played with the flavorings a bit and sometimes add ginger and soy…other times I’ll add orange juice to give it a tropical flavor.  This is great on the side with some salmon. In a pinch I’ve put a can of red beans on top of this and it really helps when you don’t have time to make beans from scratch, you can at least have some jazzed up rice.

Louisiana Named the Most Violent State, Is There a Recipe for Peace?

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Surprise, Surprise, my lovely home state of Louisiana has made the top of a list again, but this time it’s for violence.  Louisiana is the most violent state for the 20th year in a row, this statistic is based on incarceration rates, firearm availability, violent crime, and homicide numbers (1).  So, in my 23 year life, I’ve lived almost all of it in the most violent state in the union, it’s pretty obvious some things around here need to change. Louisiana doesn’t fare well for other lists either, in the past we’ve been named the laziest state and we also rank up pretty high for STD rates (2, 3).

The violence statistic doesn’t fair well for our recovering tourism industry, which is one of the biggest sources of revenue for the city. If people do not feel safe, then they will not come, New Orleans got a taste of this post-Katrina.

I think one of our biggest crime reducers could be putting money into education, which sadly the state seems to be constantly whittling away at our education budget. Keeping children from dropping out of high school, will keep them off the streets and away from violence. Education, for example completing high school, correlates with crime reduction (4). Instead of spending state money on incarceration, we should be putting money into education to prevent it from occurring. Obviously, Louisiana has gotten the formula for reducing violence wrong for about 20 years, isn’t it about time we try something new?

If you don’t like my aforementioned recipe for peace, then maybe you’ll like my recipe for Olive Tapenade. I’m still on my French recipe kick, and olives (or olive branches) have always been a symbol for peace, so I hope you enjoy.

  • 1/2 pound pitted mixed olives, rinsed (or you can use all green or all black)
  • 2 anchovy fillets, rinsed (optional, if you want to keep it vegetarian omit these)
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 2 to 3 fresh basil or parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (this is when you break out the good stuff)

If you’ve got a food processor, you can simply process all ingredients for a minute.  You do not want this to be smooth, it should have a course texture to it. If you don’t own a food processor, then you can use your knife skills to finely mince the olives and garlic and then mix in the other ingredients.

I like to serve my olive tapenade with a crusty baguette and fresh goat cheese, it’s a great party appetizer. If I have any left over, I make my lazy man’s muffuletta and spread the olive tapenade on some bread and add ham and cheese.

Spring is here, and France is in the Air!

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I hope everyone is enjoying their springtime weather! It hasn’t becoming unbearably hot in New Orleans yet, but I’m sure that’s coming any minute now. When ever Spring comes along I like to take my dietary cues from France.  Those french guys sure do Spring justice.

Just sit back and imagine farm fresh goat cheese, bottles of rosé, and olive tapenade, and an amazing use of butter, how could you not love France in the Springtime.  I promise myself I’ll get over there one day, but until then I’ll just have to survive on some basic french inspired recipes.

One thing I love about the french is that the ingredient list is small, but the quality of those ingredients is high. The butter I use in the 3 sandwiches below is presidente, a french butter, and it’s worth every penny.

I love to make grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, with a french twist. Just take some high quality ham (I use black forest or honey), gruyere cheese, 2 slices of bread, and 1-2 tbsp of butter, and throw it on the skillet and toast both sides and then you have yourself a tasty treaty.

Also Gruyere, butter, prosciutto (yes I know this ingredient is Italian), and a crusty french baguette make a great pairing, but I don’t grill this sandwich, I just eat it at room temperature and it’s quite filling and delicious.

One of my all time quick lunch-time favorites is a ham and butter sandwich, which just involves ham, butter, 1-2 tsp of dijon mustard, and a crusty baguette. I put the butter on one slice and the dijon mustard on the other slice, and obviously the ham in the middle. I like this sandwich best chilled, but eat it however you like. Don’t let the simplicity fool you, with high quality ingredients this sandwich is perfection!

As you can tell the common thread here is butter.  The french really embrace butter as a condiment, like Americans love mayo and ketchup.  With my boyfriend being allergic to eggs he can’t have mayo, so I find myself turning to just putting butter on our sandwiches and really liking it.  My mom made me sandwiches this way when I was younger and very picky, so there’s some nostalgia for me when I find myself putting these together.

While you’re eating your french inspired sandwiches keep an eye on the upcoming presidential run-off election in France.  It seems that incumbent, right-wing Sarkozy is a little behind in the polls, and his debate tomorrow night against his Socialist challenger, Francoise Hollande will probably be his last opportunity to pull in any votes in his direction. Voter turnout and participation is pretty dismal in the United States, but it’s reported that 1/3 of the population in France will be watching this debate (1).  That’s a pretty high number in my opinion, so it’ll be interesting to see how many will actually go out and vote on May 6th, and if there will be a new President and party in power.

What are some your favorite Springtime foods? Are there any cuisines you like to take inspiration from for Spring?

What Girls Are Made of

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On Monday the United States Marine Corps announced that it would be looking into broadening women’s roles, these changes will allow women to attend infantry school in Quantico starting this summer, and allow women to serve on the ground (only in supporting roles) (1). I think this move has happened for several reasons. First, with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, American troops can be attacked anywhere (2).  This has led to the death of over a hundred women that were supposedly barred from combat therefore these women are already in combat whether or not it’s official. So when putting women in areas that are all potentially combative, it would make sense to start training them.

However the marines aren’t the only ones who have started to make some changes for women, in April 2010, the Navy allowed women to start serving on submarines. Also in September of last year, we saw the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t tell.  It seems to me that the military is attempting to change it’s image of a very traditional, hetero, male institution into something different.  After the prisoner abuse in Abu Ghraib and the harrasment and death of Private Danny Chen, I think the military is trying to reform it’s image, and in my opinion is going in a positive direction, but there is definitely a long path in front of them.

I had to put a lot of thought into what dish I would incorporate with this post about changes in the military for women, but don’t worry I think I came up with something awesome.  And for those of you who are wondering, it is NOT a sandwich, I personally find those women and sandwich jokes to be unoriginal and annoying.

So I chose to share my recipe for Mole Sauce (pronounced Mo-lay). Because after all there’s the rhyme that says, “What are little girls made of? Sugar and spice and everything nice!” and honestly that’s also what Mole sauce is–the balance of sugar and spice and a pinch of everything nice.

I was always taught to make this sauce with ancho chiles, and soaking them in water for a couple hours and then throwing in part of the soaking water later, but I figured you would actually want to this make within a day, so I changed it a little bit from the traditional recipe I was given.

  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 4-5 cloves organic garlic, pressed (you can use the back of a spoon for this)
  • 2-4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce*. (depending on spice preference)
  • 1 can 28oz crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter or almond butter
  • 1 box raisins (one of the small boxes you give little kids as a snack)
  • 2-3 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp  cloves (optional, I know this isn’t a common ingredient)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp  garlic powder
  • 5-7  tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder ( I use Ghiradelli or Bellagio)
  • 4 tsp salt
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp sugar (I use brown)
  • 2 cups water or chicken stock
  • 1 small square dark chocolate (or about 1 tbsp dark chocolate chips, bittersweet or semisweet)

*There’s a Latin section in my grocery store where I get the peppers, in other places it might require a little more searching.

Start off with toasting your sesame seeds. I usually forget to this and something get right before I blend…so do it now!

In a stock pot on medium heat, melt butter and sauté onions and garlic until fragrant. Add chipotle peppers, canned tomatoes and peanut (or almond) butter. Stir to combine. Add raisins and spices (chili powder, cumin, cocoa powder, cloves, cinnamon, garlic powder, salt, pepper and sugar). Cook for around 5 minutes. Transfer to blender or use an immersion blender just be careful with hot liquids. Add toasted sesame seeds and the water or stock/broth. Blend all until very smooth and then return to pot (or if you used an immersion blender its already in the pot). Bring to a bubble and then reduce heat to simmer, stirring frequently for about 20-25 minutes until it’s reduced, thick, and dark. If it gets too thick, thin out a bit with water or stock. Lower heat, Stir in chocolate and stir until melted. I tend to take my time with melting the chocolate just because burnt chocolate is the worst smell in the world. Trust me.

Use this sauce on chicken or pork chops, or in place of an enchilada sauce. It also freezes well, so enjoy!