Monday, June 25, 2012

Sake Toro Frisco Date Night

So we were in Frisco Saturday night to see a friend's artwork on display. Naturally, we were thirsty and in need of a tasty bite to eat somewhere without a lot of kids. Sake Toro in Frisco Square seemed to fit the bill so we headed over.

We slipped in and immediately admired what appeared to be some original artwork in the entry. This is a cute, intimate spot with a modern vibe. The music is a little on the loud side so bring some earplugs if you're uptight about that sort of thing. We were promptly greeted and repeatedly checked on throughout the visit by genuinely nice staff. Overall, it feels like a nice place to be and we never felt rushed.

The martinis were solid which is always a plus for us. We started with some gyoza and miso soup, this being date night and all. Again, solid soup - nothing extraordinary in our estimation but a tasty bowl nonetheless. The dumplings were nice and crispy on the bottom with a delicate dough that wasn't too thick. Of the rolls we chose, we were surprised to enjoy the Ultimate Veggie Roll the most. Really nice flavor and texture with the tempura asparagus.

Is it super cheap sushi? No, but it's not going to break the bank either. So we're puzzled why such a fun, cute place with nice food and drinks wasn't very busy on a Saturday night.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Mom's Chicken Enchiladas

If you're like us and end up with an entire beautifully roasted chicken left over from dinner because your kids' house-guests have an aversion to eating foodstuffs that don't come either prepackaged or out of a drive-thru window, you might need a re-purposing idea on occasion. Last night was one such occasion here at the Hacienda. After perusing the fridge, Mom decided it was enchilada night. 

Like most things around here, we work with what we have and go with the flow so there isn't so much of an exact recipe as an approach. There are two parts to our wannabe enchilada supper: the actual enchiladas and the corn relish.

For the enchiladas, we used:
  • one whole roasted chicken, deboned
  • one onion, chopped (we used purple since that's what was in the fridge)
  • couple of handfuls mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 5 handfuls fresh spinach
  • salt, crushed red pepper, cumin - put however much tastes good to you
  • 6 oz. goat cheese
  • corn tortillas
  • 32 oz green chile enchilada sauce
We sauteed the onions until nice and soft, then added in the mushrooms, garlic and seasoning. Once everything was soft and juicy, we piled on the spinach and cold chicken. When the spinach had begun to wilt, we turned off the heat and stirred in the cheese until it melted into creaminess.

We wrapped the filling in corn tortillas and crammed them into an oiled baking dish. After getting coated in the green chile sauce, the enchiladas baked uncovered at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes, until bubbly and browned.

While they were baking, we whipped up a corn relish. This is what we used:
  • 1 can of corn, drained (The Hacienda was plumb out of fresh corn today)
  • an equal volume of quartered cherry tomatoes
  • one jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
  • half an onion, chopped
  • the juice of one lime and a drizzle of olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

It would have been better with the addition of cilantro and avocado. This was just an ADD sort of cooking night so they got left out, oopsie. The relish chilled in the fridge until the enchiladas were baked and slightly cooled. They're easier to dish up if they aren't a hot sloppy mess.

And there you have it. Mom's enchiladas at TheHaciendaNextDoor.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

City Chicks

Invariably when we mention to anyone that we have chickens in our back yard, we're asked, "oh, so you live out in the country?" No, people. We're in the burbs and there's nothing weird about having hens up in here.

Both of us had grandparents who raised chickens when we were children. Not all of these were country folk either so we had the opportunity to experience backyard chickens as a normal part of home life. Reflecting on her time spent picking eggs at Chicken Granny's house, MomNextDoor decided last year that the time had come. She drew up a rough sketch of what the perfect hen house for our back yard might look like and the gentlemen of the house set to work. With about $250 and a lot of muscle, their masterpiece was completed in a weekend.

We headed over to North Haven Gardens to pick out a couple of young hens. Farmer Dan from Bageniece Farms was there with a selection of his finest. Talk about a knowledgeable, nice guy - Dan can answer any chicken question you throw at him, he's super supportive if you have any questions once you get home and he didn't even mind that a lady came to spend the day observing and taking notes to learn more about keeping chickens. Keep an eye on NHG calendar - Dan teaches lots of workshops as well.

We wanted hens than would be good layers and that would also be friendly with the kids. At Dan's suggestion, we chose a Barred Rock and a Buff Orpington.

The Buff is named Taco - trust us, you don't really want to know why. Her sister is named Paco. Because it rhymes with Taco and because it's a silly Pixies reference.

Our city ordinances only permit us to have two hens so our house is modest in size. It's designed to have great circulation but also to keep the girls safe and comfy inside through all seasons. We do have a small fenced-in run area for the ladies to stretch their legs but when we're home they have free run of the yard. This means they spend a great portion of each week munching on sunflower seeds the birds spilled from the birdfeeder, scratching up worms from the flowerbed and napping in the cool shade under the boxwoods. Then when the sun begins to set, they simply head inside and hop up on their roost for bedtime.

They started laying when they were close to 6 months old. We generally get about a dozen eggs a week, which is plenty for us. They have the most beautiful golden yolks and mild, buttery flavor. They're actually one of the kids' favorite after school snacks. We have teenagers so they're big enough to fend for themselves. They often come home in the afternoon, let the girls out into the yard, pick the day's eggs and bring them straight inside to wash and cook.

Of course you just can't beat a poached egg for weekend brunch. One our all-time favorites.

Are they expensive to keep? No, they're cheaper than the cats. Are they messy? A little, but less than a dog - especially easy since the poopy junk gets dumped into the compost bin right next to the hen house. Are they loud? No, we have hens only so they're WAY quieter than our neighbor's barking-ass dog. Do they get along with other pets? We wouldn't let them play with dogs if we had any but they hang out with our cats just fine - one of them even accidentally had a sleepover with them in the hen house one night. Are they friendly? Yes, they come running like puppies when we step outside and call them.

Any other questions?