muffin tin omelets

When I have time, some weekends I make muffin tin omelets, also sometimes called no-crust quiche. It makes it easy for me to have a high protein, low carb breakfast throughout the week. In the past, I’ve used a fairly shallow muffin tin. But that makes muffin tin omelets that aren’t quite enough to satisfy me, while eating two of them is too much food for breakfast. So I decided I needed a larger size muffin tin. Last time I visited my parents, I learned Mom had a spare! So I took it home with me.

Like my old one, the new tin holds 6 muffins, but each one is much deeper. Today, I finally had time to make some muffin tin omelets again. If you’ve never made these, you should try it sometime. You can find a ton of recipes online, so I’m not going to give you all the details, but here is the general idea.

I usually grease the muffin tin with coconut oil, since I don’t ever have shortening (or lard). Supposedly it’s better for you than vegetable oil or butter.

Today, the things I put in were:

  • some leftover BBQ brisket, chopped
  • one red bell pepper, chopped and sauteed in the fat from the brisket
  • one roma tomato I got from the farmer’s market two weeks ago and realized I better use before it’s too late
  • cheddar/jack cheese blend
  • 9 eggs – so each omelet is 1.5 eggs
  • some milk – don’t ask me how much, I don’t measure stuff, that’s not how I cook
  • salt, black pepper, umami pepper

What, you don’t know about umami pepper? I found this thing on a “if we can’t sell it, we’re just going to throw it out” rack at Safeway a couple years ago and it was the most wonderful discovery.

Then I baked it until it looked good to me. That turned out to be 30 minutes at 350 degrees. And here is the result:

muffin tin omelets

They sure look good, but I already ate lunch, so I’ll save these for later.

I had a bit of trouble getting them out of the muffin tin, maybe I need to coat the pan with something greasier next time. Or cook them inside of muffin cups.

Todd’s Instant Pot pork green chile, attempt #1

Like a lot of people in Colorado, I like green chile. Denver is a 9 hour drive from Hatch, New Mexico, but we’re close enough to be in the orbit of Hatch chiles. So when I got an Instant Pot for Christmas, I decided to try to use it to make pork green chile.

The green chiles I got were a gift from a friend who bought a bushel and did all the prep work (thanks, KY!) so I just have a pile of quart-size Ziploc baggies of green chiles ready to use. This batch is a bit on the spicy side, I found, hotter than Anaheims. Maybe they’re Big Jims. I don’t honestly know.

Full green chiles, roasted and prepped

My experience wasn’t perfect, and during the process, I realized a fundamental truth I’d never thought much about. Colorado-style green chile sauce that you’d use to put on a burrito or eggs is a lot spicier than Colorado-style green chile that you eat like soup with tortillas. My original goal was to make the former, but I ended up with the latter. Next time I’ll do it differently, I think. Here goes with the recipe.


  • 2 to 3 pounds of pork shoulder, diced
  • 1 quart bag of prepped green chiles
  • 6 tomatillos
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp Mexican oregano (a totally different plant than European oregano)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground dried New Mexico chile
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 32 ounce (weight) chicken broth, plus 2 more cups of broth
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • corn starch

De-husk, wash, and cut up the tomatillos, garlic, and onion. Blend them together in a blender.

This is about the right amount of onion, tomatillo, and pork to use.

Dice the pork and dice the green chiles (separately).

Set the Instant Pot for Sauté, add 1 TB of oil, and brown the pork.

Add the blended stuff, the green chiles, the chicken broth, the tomatoes, and the spices. Seal the IP and set for pressure cook High for 75 minutes. Yes, 75 minutes. You want the pork to be so soft it melts in your mouth. When it’s done, let the steam do the “natural release” for another 30 minutes.

First look after opening the Instant Pot lid
Before thickening

Switch the Instant Pot back to Sauté. Make a slurry of corn starch and water, and slowly add enough, stirring into the soup to thicken it up.

Once it seems thick enough, serve it up with warm flour tortillas.

You can also use this to smother burritos and eggs, but my taste buds say it’s not spicy enough for that.

Green chile turns a plain bean burrito into a yummy meal

Todd’s cranberry ginger relish recipe

Todd’s Cranberry Ginger Relish Recipe

This started as a recipe I found online and made for Thanksgiving sometime around 2000, and I’ve made it several times since then, slightly simplifying and improving it along the way. It’s fresh, vegan, gluten-free, and tasty. It requires no cooking, unlike Martha Stewart’s similar recipe.



Buy one 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries. Here’s the kind I’ve used most often:

Note that if you can’t find fresh cranberries, in a pinch you can make this using two small cans of whole berry cranberry sauce instead. Just dump the cranberries into a colander and rinse off all the gelatin and sauce and stuff, so you only have the berries left.


You just need one apple. It’s best to use a sweet variety, because the sweetness of the apple is going to help cut the tartness of the cranberries.

Ginger Root

You need one medium size ginger root, as fresh as possible. It should be about the size of three of your fingers, like this:

Sugar and Water

Regular table sugar. You’ll only need a tablespoon or two, depending on your preference of how sweet you want the relish. The sweeter the apple, the less sugar you need. And some tap water.


First, rinse the cranberries and discard any bad ones.

Peel and rinse the ginger; if you don’t know the trick about how to peel ginger easily, watch this video.  Cut the ginger up into one inch chunks.

Rinse, peel, and core the apple. Then cut it into one inch chunks.

Put the ginger, cranberries, apple, one tablespoon of sugar, and a half cup of water into your food processor. Pulse it all to chop everything up to the consistency of relish, because this is relish! If it’s not blending nicely, add a little more water. Be careful not to blend it too much or it will become more of a sauce than a relish.

Once it looks nice, taste it. If it’s too tart for your tastes, add a little more sugar and blend it all together very briefly. Then taste again, and add more sugar if needed. (If you screw up and add too much sugar by accident, add a tiny bit of lemon juice to bring it back to the tart side. Nobody will know.)

When it gets to be not too tart but not too sweet, you’re done. Pour it into a bowl and let it sit in the fridge for an hour or more (overnight is fine), for the flavors to blend together. Stir before serving.

If you have more than you need, spoon some of it into a plastic container to freeze. Freezing and thawing doesn’t really hurt the consistency, I know from experience.

Todd’s makeshift mocha latte recipe

It’s been a while since I posted a recipe. Well, actually, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here. But it’s time for a recipe.

I like coffee. And I occasionally like chocolate. But I prefer good coffee and dark chocolate. Also, I don’t have an espresso machine at home, so I can’t make a real mocha latte. But with a little experimentation I’ve found a way to make a coffee+chocolate drink at home that’s just as good as a mocha latte.

It’s really a mix of two things – strong coffee and strong chocolate.


In whatever mug you’re going to drink it from, mix about 3/4 cup of half-and-half with 2 tablespoons of Trader Joe’s Sipping Chocolate powder. Microwave this for 30 seconds, and stir. You don’t want it getting too hot, of course, but it needs to be hot enough so the half-and-half dissolves the chocolate. If you need to nuke it longer, go for it.


While the sipping chocolate cools, make one Aeropress full of coffee concentrate, using whatever your favorite beans are. Every Aeropress user has a slightly different technique. Did you know there’s an annual competition to see who can make the best coffee from an Aeropress? There is. The technique I use came from one of the winners of that contest.

I use the inverted Aeropress method with roughly 17g freshly ground coffee and 190 F tap water. I stir for 10 seconds, then let it steep for another 60 seconds. I prefer Ethiopian Yirgacheffe beans, and use a metal mesh instead of the paper filters that come with the Aeropress.

If you’ve never used an Aeropress, you should get one. It makes better coffee than any other method except a pro-grade espresso machine, and cleans up easily. The coffee that comes out of it is stronger than most coffee, so most people dilute it with 25% to 50% hot water. But for this recipe, we’re not going to dilute it at all.

After the 60 seconds is up, press the coffee concentrate out into your mug with the cocoa concentrate. Now stir them together, and enjoy.

The richness of the half-and-half (instead of milk) and the concentrated coffee flavor make this drink not taste like the sickly sweet mochas you find at some coffee shops.


adobo chicken, borracho beans, and cilantro rice

I had some problems with our pressure cooker last night.  But once I got it working right, what emerged was pretty awesome.  I had it for lunch today and thought I should write down the recipe.  So here goes.

The dish is made out of three main parts, and I’ll address each of those separately although you can make them somewhat in parallel.

Cilantro Rice

The easiest part is cilantro rice.  Take 2 cups of dry sushi rice and steam it in a rice maker.  Chop 1/2 to 3/4 of a bunch of cilantro, and mix it in, along with a little salt to taste.

Adobo Chicken

Start with 4 chicken thighs (bone in, skin on).  Put them in a big plastic bag with some adobo seasonings.  I use Goya brand.  I think it’s made of mainly salt, garlic powder, and onion powder though I’m not exactly sure.

Shake the chicken around so the pieces have some seasoning all over.

Then, grill the chicken thighs over direct flame.  Feel free to burn the skin, because you’re going to remove it anyhow.  Once the chicken is cooked, take it off the grill and let it rest a little.  After cooling some, remove the skin and discard it.

Borracho Beans

Chop a yellow onion and mince 2 cloves of garlic.  Heat some cooking oil in the bottom of a pressure cooker to high heat.  Throw in the onion and garlic and fry them up.

Meanwhile, measure out 2 cups of dried pinto beans.  Once the garlic and onion are nicely fried, toss in the beans.  Then add 4 cups of chicken broth, 2 cups of water, some salt (not too much), a half cup of spicy salsa, and a bottle of crappy “Mexican” beer like Corona.

Put the chicken thighs on top of all this, seal up the pressure cooker, and let everything come to a boil.  Once it does, turn down the heat to low and let it all cook for 90 minutes or so.

To Serve

Once the borracho beans are cooled enough to open the lid of pressure cooker, get a bowl ready.  In the bowl, lay down a layer of cilantro rice.  Then, on top of that, put a layer of the bean mixture.  And then a little grated cheddar cheese.  Then some of the chopped tomato.  Finally, put one of the chicken thighs on the very top.

The chicken is going to be nearly falling off the bone at this point because it’s so tender, so be careful that it doesn’t just disintegrate on the way from the crock pot to your bowl.

And now, enjoy!

Todd’s brown rice pilaf

Here’s a recipe I just made up this evening and it was very tasty. I served it with Orange Hazelnut Asparagus and some fresh grilled tuna.

Rice Pilaf


2 cups brown rice

3 green onions

1/2 red bell pepper

1 medium carrot

1/2 cup fresh pineapple

3 fresh mushrooms

10 macadamia nuts

1 Tbsp soy sauce


Wash the rice and cook in a steamer. Preheat oven to 350 F.

Chop the green onions, red bell pepper, mushrooms, and pineapple . Shred and then chop the carrot. Toast the macadamia nuts, and then chop them up in a food processor.

Once the rice is done, pour it into a baking dish. Mix in all the other ingredients except the soy sauce. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Take off the foil and bake for another 15 minutes.

Stir it up, right before serving. Drizzle the soy sauce over the top.
Makes 4 servings.

Note: My original plan was to add a small can of diced green chiles and 3 Tbsp of uncooked canned peas. But I got distracted making the fish and forgot to throw those in the baking dish.

Borracho Beans

It wasn’t until I took a Spanish class that I learned that borracho means “drunk”. I’d had borracho beans at restaurants before but didn’t realize the source of the name. They’re called borracho because the beans are cooked in beer. Here’s my recipe.

4 cups cooked pinto beans
1/2 pound bacon
1/2 onion
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
2 teaspoons salt
1 can of cheap beer, preferably left over from a party
ground pepper
cayenne pepper

Cook the beans in advance. You want 4 cooked cups of beans, not 4 cups uncooked. Cut the bacon into 1″ pieces. Chop the onion and the garlic. Cook the bacon in a pot until it’s almost crispy. Add the onions and garlic, sauteeing in the bacon fat.

Then add 10 dashes of cayenne pepper (more or less depending on preference), some ground pepper (again, to taste), and the rest of the ingredients including the beans. Cook all these on medium heat for a while. Leave the cover off to let some (but not all) of the liquid simmer off.

This makes 3 to 6 servings, depending on how hungry you are.

Blue Corn Lamb Tamales

Ok, this is a big undertaking. I’ve only done this once. But before I get into the details, let me give you some background.

I came up with the idea for this recipe not long after reading a Hopi cookbook. As you may or may not know, the Hopi (and the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico) are masters of corn. They have several varieties they use for different purposes. And one of these is the fairly uncommon blue corn. If you’re not a fan of southwestern cooking you may not even be aware that there is blue corn, and even if you are you may have only seen blue corn tortillas and chips. Blue corn has a sweet, nutty taste compared to the common yellow or white corn most of us are used to. And it’s not nearly as widespread. Because of this, it’s more expensive.

Now, about the filling. Anyone who’s ever had tamales has surely had pork tamales. Pork seems to be the most common filling, though beef and chicken are also seen. But pork really isn’t seen that much in native southwestern cooking. Ever seen a Hopi herding pigs? I figured mutton seems to be a lot more representative of Indian cooking in the desert southwest. And after thinking about this a while, I thought blue corn, in addition to giving tamales a very unusual appearance, would give a sweet nuttiness that would combine well with the gaminess of mutton.

So I came up with the idea for blue corn lamb tamales. The toughest part was getting the two key ingredients.

The dough for tamales is made from what’s called masa. It’s not the same as corn meal, nor is it the same as corn flour. Masa is corn flour that’s made from corn which has been treated in a special way with lime (not the citrus fruit but the mineral). Masa that’s made from blue corn instead of yellow corn is called harinilla. I looked locally in the Denver area for some place that sells it, and couldn’t find anyone who does. So I had to buy some mail order from a store in New Mexico. I found a couple of online stores that carry it, though the one I bought from doesn’t list it anymore.

Then came the lamb. My local supermarket, King Soopers, doesn’t carry much lamb. They have some lamb chops but what I really needed was a lamb roast. I talked to the butcher and we decided I needed a half a leg of lamb. So, he special ordered a leg of lamb, cut it in half, and sold me the smaller half.

Next, I found 3 different recipes for pork tamales online and took the best parts from each of them and turned them into my own, which I will reveal now. I’m splitting this process into three main parts – making the filling, making the dough, and putting it all together.

The Filling

1 pound shredded, roasted lamb
6 oz. dried red Anaheim chiles (the package I bought was labeled “chile de ristra” and I can only assume they were dried Anaheims since that’s usually what ristras are made from)
1 can of condensed chicken broth (Campbell’s, for instance)
3 tablespoons Mexican oregano
2 tablespoons flour (regular wheat flour)
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt
vegetable oil

Roast a half a leg of lamb until it’s adequately cooked on the inside. This’ll take two to three hours in an oven of around 400 degrees, depending on the size of the lamb and how well done you like your meat. Once it’s thoroughly roasted, let it cool to the point you can rip it apart with your hands. Pull all the meat off the bone and shred it by hand into small pieces.

This should give you about 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of shredded lamb, but you won’t need that much. You only need 1 pound. Save the rest for lamb curry (recipe not included here) some other day.

Set your 1 pound of lamb aside because it’s time to make chile sauce. Boil the dried chiles until they’re pliable. Then clean them under cold water, removing seeds and stems and anything else that isn’t the skin of the chile. Heat a little oil in a saucepan and saute the chiles lightly, just enough to release the flavor. Then soak them a few minutes in cold water.

Fire up the blender and puree the chiles along with 2 cloves of garlic, 1 can of chicken broth, and the oregano. Add water as needed to make it all blend together nicely. Many recipes say to strain your chile puree at this point to remove any remaining chunks of chile skin or seeds, but I’m lazy and didn’t do that.

Now sautee the remaining clove of garlic in oil, press the yummy juice out of it and remove the rest. Add the flour and salt, stirring it all together. Then pour in the chile puree. Stir and heat to simmering. You now have a beautiful deep red chile sauce.

Add the shredded lamb to the sauce, along with enough water to make it all juicy. Simmer it all together for a while, stirring regularly. Once you’re tired of simmering and the flavors are all mixed together, you’ve finished the tamal filling. Set it aside.

Now, before you start making the dough, it’s time to limber up the dried corn husks you’re going to use to hold the tamales together. You should have

2 bags (12 ounces) dried corn husks

Soak the husks in a pot of hot water for a couple hours or so. You’ll probably need to put a heavy plate on top of the husks to keep them submerged.

The Dough

36 ounces (6 cups) harinilla (also called blue corn masa)
2 cups lard
1 can of condensed chicken broth (Campbell’s, for instance)
2 tablespoons salt
vegetable oil

In a bit mixing bowl, whip the lard with an electric mixer. Whip it. Whip it good. You want it to be light and fluffy. Whipping lard isn’t easy and it’ll take a while if you use an electric hand mixer.

Slowly mix in the harinilla, along with the salt, the chicken broth, and a can of hot water. Crank up the mixer power and whip it more. You should be getting a nice blue goo. Add 1/2 cup of vegetable oil and enough water to get a good consistency. You want this to have the consistency of pancake or cake batter so you can spoon it into the corn husks easily.

Putting It All Together

First, take a break. You probably earned it from all the whipping. Besides, your corn husks may need to soak some more. Once they’re wet and pliable, take some out of the water and pat them dry. It’s time to assemble the tamales.
Take some of the worst looking corn husks and rip them into long strips. You’ll use these strips to tie the ends of the tamales closed. Some people use string for this, which is stronger but not as pretty.

The other recipes I read to figure out how to assemble these had some complicated instructions that I could never get to work. I think the problem was either that I’m not as coordinated as the people who wrote these recipes, or my corn husks weren’t as big as theirs. Anyhow, I settled on a process that worked well for me. It’s very simple and I’ll explain it here, but you can form your tamales however you want.

Take a corn husk and spoon in about 2 tablespoons of dough. Spread this around into a little rectangle that will be the outer layer of the tamal. One edge of the rectangle should be up against the edge of the corn husk. Now, spoon 1 tablespoon of filling in a line on top of the dough, with dough sticking out on all sides. Fold over the side of the husk that has dough up to the edge, wrapping the filling in the process. Wrap the rest of the husk around. Pinch the top and bottom together and tie them each off with one of the strips of husk you made.

What you should end up with is a thing that has the shape of a big Tootsie Roll. The tamal is in the middle and the ends are nicely tied off. Keep making these until you’re out of batter or filling (I ran out of batter first). Then it’s time to steam them.
If you’ve got a steamer, great. Use it. I improvised by putting a little cooling rack type thing inside of my largest pot. Put water in the bottom, not quite touching the rack. Toss in a coin. This trick is to give you an audible signal how fast the water in the bottom is boiling.

Pile the tamales on top of the rack and cover the pot. Fire up the burner and let it all steam for 3 hours. As far as I know, it’s not possible to overcook them. Since they’re just steaming, they’re not going to burn. The coin will shake around in the boiling water to let you know it’s working. If the coin stops, you probably have boiled off all the water and need to add more.
After 3 hours, the tamales are done and ready to eat. You can also freeze them for another day. Or give some to your friends, because you’re going to have a lot of tamales, probably around 40 or 50.

I recommend serving these tamales on top of some borracho beans, with shredded cheese on top.

Pico de Gallo

Todd’s Fresh Salsa (called “pico de gallo” by those in the know)

8 Roma tomatoes
4 tomatillos
1/2 jalapeno
1/2 yellow onion
1 cup cilantro
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
juice of 1/2 lime

Roma tomatoes are much better for salsa than the big round tomatoes are. Roma tomatoes have more “meat” to them and less water. My mother loves this recipe but has found she doesn’t like tomatillos very much, so she makes this salsa without them and puts in a couple extra tomatoes instead. Frankly, tomatillos don’t add a whole lot of flavor, but are a little tangy and add some green to offset the red from the tomatoes. If you can’t find tomatillos in your part of the world, this recipe will still be good without them. But you MUST have Roma tomatoes, not the kind you slice for hamburgers.

Rinse the tomatoes and skin and rinse the tomatillos. Skin the onion. Rinse the cilantro in cold water using a colander. Cut the stem ends off the tomatoes, then cut them each in half lengthwise. Cut the tomatillos in half lengthwise, too. Throw them all in a food processor that has wide blades and is turned off. Cut the onion into 1″ cubes and toss those into the food processor along with the jalapeno and salt and pepper.

Set the food processor for the lowest setting and hit the Pulse button. It’s important to avoid using a high speed or letting it go too long. If you do, you’ll end up with very finely chopped salsa, which is runny and doesn’t impress your guests. So, just hit that Pulse button a few times until everything’s broken up a bit. Now, put in the cilantro and squeeze the lime juice in.

Hit the food processor a few more times until everything’s mixed together, with chunks of about 1/4″ in size. Put it in a bowl and stir it around a little, before putting in the fridge for half an hour or so. When it’s time to eat, stir it around a little as it has a tendency to settle.

Don’t make it more than about 3 hours before you want to eat it. This salsa is incredibly yummy when fresh, but loses its excitement value (which comes from the pungency of the fresh cilantro) fairly quickly. So, it doesn’t make good leftovers. But that’s fine because you’ll never have any left over, anyhow. People chow down on this stuff.

Creamy Guacamole

Here’s how to make Beth’s favorite guacamole.

1 avocado
2 Tbsp salsa
dash of salt
dash of ground pepper
dash of cayenne pepper
dash of onion powder
dash of garlic powder
2 Tbsp sour cream

This recipe has evolved over time. Beth likes guacamole to be creamier than I used to make it, so I started adding sour cream (the 100% natural kind – I make no guarantees how this would taste with the stuff that includes gelatin and fillers). If you have just made some fresh salsa using the recipe below, then use that. Otherwise, any store bought salsa is o.k.

Step 1 is to get the meat out of the avocado. I used to make a mess trying to peel the avocado first, then I learned an awesome trick by watching a Mexican waiter in southern California. Now I use this method all the time. Slice off about 1/4″ of the stem end of the avocado and toss it out. Then, slice the avocado all the way around lengthwise, down to the pit. This will leave you with two avocado halves that are just held together by the pit in the middle. Now, pull them apart. One half will stick to the pit and you can pull the pit out with your fingers or pry it out with a knife. This is the cool part: use a common tablespoon size serving spoon to scoop the avocado meat out. The curvature of the spoon should be very similar to the avocado, so you can get every last bit out without wasting any or making a mess.

Step 2 is to make the guacamole salad out of this fine avocado. Slice the avocado halves up into little chunks in a mixing bowl. Then, add all the other ingredients and mash them together with a fork. When things are mashed enough, you can start to stir to make sure the sour cream is distributed evenly.

If you aren’t going to eat it right away, chill the guacamole in the fridge. Throw the pit (sure hope you didn’t throw it away!) into the top to prevent the guacamole from turning brown. Enjoy with salty corn chips.

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