Side Dishes

If these flautas look familiar it’s because they are very similar to my Barbacoa Taquitos.  The difference between flautas and taquitos are the type of tortillas.  Flautas are made with flour tortillas where as taquitos are made with corn tortillas.  Corn tortillas are my first love but sometimes I make flautas to please my hubby.  The thing about making flautas is cooking the tortilla to that perfect crispness.  If overcooked they will be overly crunchy and taste like a cracker.  And the filling should be somewhat dry so that the tortilla won’t become soggy.  I went back to an old favorite, a seasoned slow cooked chuck roast flavored with Frontera’s Barbacoa sauce.  Chile de Arbol salsa and Molcajete Guacamole are the perfect condiments to dip your flautas in. Enjoy!

What goes with almost any Mexican dish . . . Guacamole of course!  It’s a favorite for dipping, as well as topping burritos, enchiladas and nachos.  And since I’m celebrating Cinco de Mayo, I thought I’d show you how I make guacamole in a molcajete.  Molcajetes are used to crush and grind spices as well as preparing salsas and guacamole.  In Mexico they are made from porous basalt volcanic rock, typically round in shape with a bowl in the center supported by 3 legs.  The tool used to grind is called tejelote and made from the same material. A molcajete brings out the most amazing aroma by grinding the ingredients into the volcanic stone.  There is an earthiness that heightens your senses of smell and taste. By grinding each ingredient you create a layer of flavors that will come together in the most amazing way.  Every time I make guacamole in a molcajete I think it’s the best guacamole I’ve ever tasted. . . and then I make it again!  Happy Cinco de Mayo!! (more…)


Ya Ya’s Euro Bistro is a restaurant here in KC that has an extensive menu garnishing traditional meals with a European spin.  We hadn’t been there in many years but for our anniversary Joe took me to Ya Ya’s for a night out.  Before the meal was served they brought out a Baba Ganoush appetizer with soft french bread for dipping that was so tasty.  It had a hint of lemon and tasted different than anything we had ever had. We both loved it and asked the waiter what it consisted of.  He was happy to share and told us that it was made with roasted eggplant, Greek yogurt, garlic, an herbed olive oil and sprinkled with a spice called Zatar.  Most recipes use tahini in their Baba Ganoush which is why this dish tastes so different.  I found a recipe online from St. Louis Today for Ya Ya’s famous Baba Ganoush that had the exact ingredients our waiter had listed.  I made a run to Tasteful Olive for an olive oil that would give this dish the taste we had experienced at Ya Ya’s.  When I explained to them what I was making they suggested Milanese Gremolata, a flavored olive oil consisting of fresh lemon zest, minced garlic, Italian flat leaf parsley and a hint of mint.  With the olive oil in hand I walked a couple doors down to Penzey’s where I found Zatar, a spice that is a popular Middle Eastern blend consisting of sumac, thyme, sesame seeds and salt.  Roasting the eggplant was a bit time consuming but I have to say my homemade Baba Ganoush came together with the consistency and flavors that we enjoyed at Ya Ya’s.  It couldn’t have turned out better!   (more…)


Today marks 5 years of An Inspired Cook!  I never thought this venture would be so rewarding, but it has truly been a lifesaver for me.  I love that my favorite recipes will forever have a place for my kids and family to go to for inspiration and bring back memories of our time together around the kitchen table.  I look back on the past 5 years as a labor of love, one that I have enjoyed so much more than I would have ever imagined.  I’ve been on an Asian food kick lately, partly because it’s so easy to make especially on these hot summer days when it’s just too darn hot to turn on the oven.  These potstickers are so good I made extra to put in the freezer.  I found that making fresh potstickers take only a few minutes to prepare and frozen take about 2 to 3 minutes more. What could be better than that!  I packaged 18 dumplings per freezer bag and thought we’d have enough for several weeks.  Turns out they are more popular than I thought and are just about gone.  I guess it’s time to make some more!


Josh and I sure do miss the Great Day Cafe!  It was one of our favorite places to hang out when we went to Downtown Overland Park.  They always had a troubadour playing guitar and singing a folk tune while we ate.  It was a quaint little place that served great food and made you feel at home.  In the summer we would go to the cafe for a bite to eat after a walk through the Farmers Market or a trip to Penzeys or Tasteful Olive.  Sadly the cafe closed it’s doors in October so there will be no more of the daily specials where you could find the best sandwiches, soups and salads. Josh’s favorite side dish was the Quinoa Tabbouleh.  They shared their recipe on one of the local morning shows which I found on youtube so now I will share it with you!


Some people believe everything tastes better with bacon.  I have to admit I have a weakness for bacon too.  Bacon is my go to breakfast meat but it also perks up a salad, adds flavor to soups and makes any sandwich taste better.  So when I heard about brown sugar bacon I was intrigued.  The sweetness was evident in the brown sugar but I wanted some spice too so I added some chile flakes.  It was an amazing combination.  Before it all disappeared I saved a few slices for my favorite pasta sauce, a grilled chicken sandwich and a spinach salad.


A few weeks ago I spent a few days with one of my oldest and dearest friends, Paula.  We’ve been friends since 7th grade but lost contact for a few years when we got married, had our families and lived so far apart.  We have since reconnected and found that old friends never lose touch, they just start up where they left off and keep on going.  And now we have new memories to build on.  During Paula’s visit we cooked some fun meals and ate out to taste some of the local favorites.  We didn’t go hungry, that’s for sure!  When we were chatting about food she mentioned her favorite roasted corn with a mayo based sauce that is out of this world. It sounded so scrumptious that I started looking up recipes.  I found several different variations and came up with a combination that sounded tempting.  Thanks Paula for the tip, my family may never go back to butter again!

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