Tasty Eats At Home turns 1 year old today! I cannot believe how much my blog has changed in the past year. When I decided to start this blog in 2008, it was a rather impulsive decision. I was rapidly becoming passionate about food and cooking at the time, reading anything and everything “food-related” that I could. I recently had become aware of Elise’s blog at Simply Recipes (the only food blog I was aware of at the time), and was impressed by her vast collection of recipes, mostly from her family. I thought to myself “What a great idea. I could share my recipes with my family and friends!” And with that, Tasty Eats At Home was born. Little did I know of the vast food blogging community that existed!
Since Tasty Eats At Home’s birth, I have created 84 posts (this will be #85). But more than mere numbers, these posts represent a lot of things to me. I debated a few weeks ago on whether or not to keep all of my posts. Some of the earliest recipes I am no longer terribly fond of, and some are without photos. Of those early posts that do have photos, they are not exceptional by any stretch. But after some consideration, (and some tweeting about it on Twitter!) I have decided to keep them all. Each post represents a moment in my life, and together, they represent the growth in my cooking abilities, my photography, and most of all, my writing. As frustrated as I can be at times when the photography just won’t work for me, or the right words just won’t come, I can look back and realize that Tasty Eats At Home is in a continual state of growth, and for that, I am proud.
Of course, Tasty Eats At Home would not be what it is, if it weren’t for the amazing support I have received. My husband constantly brags about Tasty Eats At Home to everyone he encounters, and that warms my heart. He is also my #1 critic of the dishes I prepare, helping me to grow and stay focused. My family is more than happy to help eat the dishes whenever they can as well, and critique accordingly! And to all of my fellow food bloggers – I can’t thank you enough for all the advice, recipes, and ideas we’ve shared!
But lest you all think I’ve gotten a big head, I wanted to share with you a recipe that in my mind and heart, brings everything back down to earth and close to home. Ladies and gentlemen, I give to you: Surprise #7.
What is Surprise #7?
From what I can recall, there was a time when I was a child when we didn’t have much. My parents had to figure out how to feed three kids on a very limited budget. In addition, there were times my Mom was unavailable to make dinner, so the responsibility fell to my Dad. Dad was trying out various creations, only to have several of them fail to impress the kids. Determined, he created yet another budget-friendly dish: a concoction of rice, beans, ground beef, tomatoes and spices. This dish unanimously passed the “kid approval” test. We pondered what to call it…and after settling on “Surprise #7”, it was written down, and appeared on the menu on a regular basis. (Why Surprise #7? I don’t really know. I don’t recall Surprises #1-6…maybe they were the bad ones?)
Last night, I re-created this dish for our family. It is a very adaptable recipe. My version added frozen corn, and I used tomato puree rather than Dad’s choice of chopped tomatoes (I have some picky eaters in my household that will not eat tomato chunks). I also substituted brown rice for Dad’s white rice. It’s a tasty, no-frills, comforting dish that is quite kid-friendly, and with a few pantry staples on hand, can be thrown together in very little time. Perfect for feeding a hungry family on a budget – no wonder Dad created it!
Sometimes, re-visiting a dish from your childhood can invoke a lot of thoughts and feelings. Surprise #7 caused me to really think about Tasty Eats At Home and what cooking and food means to me, and so many of us. Cooking is an art, an expression, if you will. We all need food to nourish our bodies, but cooking allows food to become more than just a requirement – it morphs into an enjoyable, pleasureable experience. So we share the joy of cooking with others, with our friends, with our families, and it becomes a form of togetherness, and a way of connecting with one another. Creating Tasty Eats At Home has given me a way to more deeply connect with the joy that cooking brings to me and my family.
Surprise #7 (adapted from my Dad)
1 T olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb lean ground beef
14-oz can tomato puree (I used El Pato Tomato Sauce – it’s a tomato sauce with chiles, garlic and onion)
2 T chili powder
1 15-oz can kidney beans, drained
1 c frozen corn
2 T pickle juice
3 c steamed brown rice
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat a large, heavy skillet to medium-high heat and add olive oil. When oil is hot, add onions, and saute for 3-4 minutes or until soft. Add garlic and saute for another minute. Add ground beef, breaking into small crumbles with your spoon or spatula, and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned. Add tomato sauce and chili powder, and stir. Simmer for 3-4 minutes, and add beans and corn. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes more or until everything is hot and your corn is cooked through. Add pickle juice and rice, and stir to incorporate. Salt and pepper to your liking. Optional: serve with cheddar cheese sprinkled on top.
Serves 5-6, or maybe only 4 if you have hungry teenage boys.