experimenting with duck.

There are two things that Chris LOVES to eat whenever he has the chance: scallops and duck! I decided to try cooking a duck meal for us this past Friday night, and though it was somewhat intimidating at first, it turned out really well!

I think I get a little nervous whenever I attempt new meats or new fish, because I never want to overcook or undercook. Either extreme can obviously ruin a whole meal. I do have a pretty good meat thermometer though, so there really should be no reason to worry. Someday I want to try to cook a whole entire animal! I plan to learn from my amazing Greek mother at some point.

Anyway, I decided to sear and bake duck breasts for us. I watched a few YouTube videos, and learned a lot of different things, like which side is the skin side, how to know when it’s done, etc. I would say that Gordon Ramsay was the most helpful… though if you also want to learn how to drain the fat by scoring in a criss-cross fashion, you’ll have to watch this video.

Basically, I scored the duck breasts, salted and peppered them, seared them for about 10 minutes on each side, baked them at 375 degrees Fahrenheit (skin-side down), and finally added some pan-fried pancetta on top. I don’t think you even need pancetta for a nice result, but I wanted to make sure something was good in case the duck itself tasted awful. :)

Baked Duck w/Pancetta & Sweet Potato Fries

As you can see, I also made some sweet potato fries! I attempted to make similar fries a few months ago, and ended up burning them and setting off our fire alarm multiple times! I think the key is remember to turn them over halfway through cooking. This go around, I also cooked the fries at a lower heat for a longer amount of time… broiling just didn’t seem to work out well before. This was the recipe I used, only with sherry vinegar. Also, I just invested in some Spanish smoked paprika, so I was excited to throw that in there as well.

The meal turned out a lot smaller than it looks in the photo (the duck breasts seemed to shrink a lot in the cooking process), but it was still filling and very yummy. I was so glad Chris felt treated! I cook a lot of veggie meals, so he definitely deserved some manly meat. :) By the way, did you know that duck is apparently the new pork?

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mexican, mexican, mexican.

I have SO much Mexican food to share!  Next post, I promise to move on to something else.  :)

Last weekend (not this past weekend, but the one before), I made my favorite casserole for our friends who just had a baby.  Here is a link to the recipe for the Southwest Pasta Bake…. I just call it “Mexican Lasagna.”  Tired of making the same old boring casserole?  Here is something that will wow your audience.  I made extra to enjoy with my dear friend Arielle, who was in town from Seattle.  We had a yummy South African Sauvignon Blanc (wine maker: Zafrika) from Trader Joe’s, which complimented the meal nicely.

Mexican Lasagna

Next, quesadilla madness.  Are you surprised?  I obviously love quesadillas.  :)  We had friends over a week ago, and this was the spread… Crispy Black Bean Tacos with Feta and Cabbage Slaw… (I know they are called “tacos,” but I really made them more quesadilla-like!)

Crispy Black Bean Tacos with Feta & Cabbage Slaw

That’s Mexican rice in the crockpot, that our friend Sarah brought along.  I promise I will post the amazing margarita and guacamole recipes at some point!  A staple for Chris and I’s food life.

Tonight, I made similar quesadillas (with tomatoes added and pepper jack cheese, instead of feta).  I also wanted to share this Corn & Avocado Salad, from this month’s Real Simple issue.  Light and easy!  I used green onions instead of scallions.

Corn & Avocado Salad

The next meal will be more Italian-based… my other favorite cuisine besides Mexican.  :)