Friday, June 19, 2009

burrito night.


So, in keeping with my previous post about weekly dinners, here's our #1 standard dinner. It's cheap, easy as hell, and filling. Duhhhh, burritos! As we get terrifyingly closer to buying our first home (no jinx! no jinx!), this will probably be on the menu like 3 times a week. BEANS AND RICE 4 LYFE, SUCKAS. All my adorable mumbo jumbo about budgeting is going to get thrown out the window when we buy a house, because our rent is basically going to double no matter what- good bye, fancy eggs! We are lucky to have found a really cheap apartment a few years ago and the rent hasn't really gone up with the rest of the neighborhood. BUT, whatever- we're here to talk about food.


First of all- "Burrito night." I know it's dorky, but along with enjoying family meals at the table, I like to keep a sense of order and consistency in my kid's world by referring to dinners like, "Burrito night! Pizza night! Noodle night!" etc. I feel like it will give him something to look forward to when he's a little older and give him a sense of family stability and BLAH BLAH BLAH- I am totally over-thinking this. So, burrito night, it happens every week. We usually time it so that it falls on a night that I babysit, which means that my friends probably think we eat NOTHING BUT BURRITOS, since I always drop their daughter off in the evening with the sendoff, "She had a burrito!" The reason we time it this way is that burrito night basically = opening a bunch of cans and rolling shit up in a tortilla. I'm not gonna lie, this is the laziest night of my week. The only way we could get lazier would be to go to an actual burrito shop, which we occasionally throw up our hands in exhaustion and do, (we're only human!) but why pay 15 bucks for 3 burritos when the basic elements of this meal total up to like 5 dollars?


A recent phone call with my mother revealed that she doesn't know how to make spanish rice from scratch. I can't fault her for this- I didn't know either until I met my husband. I feel like this is one of those things everybody should know how to do, like boil an egg (hey, I learned to do this last year!) or like, wipe their own butt. We make spanish rice from things that we always have around the house. Look, I'm not even going to bother looking up a recipe for this or pretending like I know anything about spanish rice, so spare me your "MY MEXICAN GRANDMA DOES IT LIKE THIS, AND YOU ARE DOING THIS WRONG, BLAH BLAH BLAH." I don't care- this is how we make it, it tastes good in our burritos.


More moments of confession: I am a sloppy-ass cook. I don't really measure anything, I eyeball everything, and if it doesn't come out just right, I eat it anyway. I kind of apply the same logic to cooking that I do when I cut my own hair- YOU JUST HAVE TO BE COOL WITH THE IDEA OF SHAVING YOUR WHOLE HEAD, AND THEN YOU CAN GO AHEAD AND CUT YOUR OWN HAIR. In short, if you screw it up, it's not the end of the world. Deal with it, or start over.


Sorry, I just have a lot of pictures to show off. I used 2 cans of beans last night because I wanted leftovers for lunch today.


about a cup of rice
1 can of fire roasted diced tomatoes (these are so good! i know i'm all boo-hoo-no-processed-food but sometimes you need some damn canned tomatoes.)
1 onion
some garlic
handful of chili powder
smaller handful of cumin
bay leaf (i didn't have any yesterday, bummerrrr)
a little water

In a large pan, saute onions and garlic until they begin to soften. Dump in the rice and spices, and toast for a minute or two. Dump in the can of tomatoes, stir it around, and then dump in like a can's worth of water or so. You just want to make sure the rice is covered with liquid, but err on the side of a teeny bit more, because overcooked gummy rice is preferable, in my opinion- to crunchy undercooked rice.

Stir it around and put a bay leaf in, then drop a lid on it. Stir a couple of times to make sure it doesn't stick, and in about 20 minutes or so you have a big ass fluffy pan of spanish rice. You can also use stock instead of water but it's not a huge deal. It does taste better, though. THERE- stop using a box now, mom. You don't need all that sodium in your life. OH YEAH speaking of sodium, make sure you remember to salt your rice. I always forget and then my husband is all, "UGH, PASS THE SALT."


Anyway, oh hey- do you know how to fold a burrito? Sure, you could just do tacos, but there's just something about the meal-in-the-palm-of-your-hand that is a burrito that is so dang satisfying. I worked at some crappy local taco chain when I was a teenager, rolling burritos all day, so I like to think that I'm pretty darn good at it. I tried to do a little photo essay describing my method, but damn if it isn't a pain in the butt to try and photograph yourself ROLLING A BURRITO ONE-HANDED.

Basically, you tuck in the sides first:


And then you grab the end closest to you and fold it over so it touches the other end, and then tuck it under.


Then you just kind of keep pinching the sides in and roll the whole thing up, it's really satisfying, okay? This method works really good with spring rolls, too.

Heat up the tortilla on a cast iron skillet, dump some food inside, (CHEESE. BEANS. RICE.) and roll it up. TA DA. Burrito night.


Sometimes if we're feeling ritzy we'll buy sour cream or avocado, but usually it's just beans, cheese and rice, because come on- what do I look like, a millionaire?

HEY SPEAKING OF MILLIONAIRES- I got an inquiry about joining an ad network owned by General Mills. If I can figure out how to deal with the fancy sign-up website, I will probably throw some ads onto the sidebar there- but if it doesn't pay more than google ads I'll probably just dump it, because in case you noticed the google ads I had up there- I was literally raking in PENNIES A DAY. Like, one or two pennies a day, literally. What a waste of space! That had been there for months and months, and I still didn't have enough racked up for them to cut me a check, because they have a minimum. Whatever! Don't hate on my corporate sponsorship, y'all- I have to pay for my kid's Nike Airs somehow, and this 8 dollar carton of eggs isn't going to pay for itself.


ZDubb said...

This post had me cracking up!
I'm moving this weekend and I foresee lots of burritos until mid August...

Blue is Bleu said...

It looks so yum! I eyeball measurements too so when someone asks me for a recipe, there'll usually be a couple phone calls while they're cooking it hehe!

mina said...

man i love reading this blog. got a few grins out of this particular entry and of course your photography is great! and now i want a burrito! nooo!

p.s. will the spanish rice be okay with brown instead of white...?

Alicia Lynn Carrier said...

mina- the answer is HELLZ NO. i actually tried it once, knowing it'd be be sacrilege, and it was gross. don't do it! just accept that some things (like sushi, spanish rice, etc.) are just way better with white rice.

suthrncan said...

I always say that if your burrito looks like a rolled up diaper, you did a good job putting it together.

Allison said...

You gave me the giggles - in our family we call potato times when we have been rather tight budgeted... you can do so much with potatoes - must be the Irish heritage....

Mary Beth said...

Hi Alicia. I love your blog so much! I'm not sure if I've ever commented so I thought I would this morning. I too until very recently did not know how to make mexican rice. I do make it now with El Pato, but I'm going to try your method now. And I've tried it with brown rice too--total failure. I loved your hippie chow post a few weeks ago--still intend to make that. Do you have any comments on particular types of tortillas? The ones in the store always seem smaller and less flexible than the ones at the local burrito shop.

Good luck with your house!

Barbara said...

I once read a quote from some high dollar, trendy chef, and I don't remember his name, that if your boxed or canned item has more than five ingredients it really isn't food anymore, it's basically plastic. I agree with that sentiment. So, as long as there are just tomatoes in the can it's probably just fine. I use them all the time as well, and while there is a difference in the flavor, it's not like the tomato police is going to come and arrest us.

Alicia Lynn Carrier said...

mary beth, i've been trying to avoid hydrogenated oils so i've been buying my tortillas from trader joe's, because they seem to have the fewest ingredients/healthiest ingredients. however, i'm considering buying some lard and giving it a go at home, making them from scratch. obviously if that works out, i'll post about it here.

allison- i avoid using potatoes as the star of the show because i'm hypoglycemic, and the sugars in potatoes seem to really mess me up, for some reason. i can eat a bowl of mashed potatoes the size of my head and in 25 minutes, i'll have the biggest crash ever and feel like i haven't eaten all day. i love potatoes, though!

avery- GROSS, a rolled up diaper? hahahaha

Sarah Keenan said...

Love your Blog !!
Rock on with the Mexi RIce recipe.
It's no fail, loved it.

chocolat said...

it's not hard to make your own tortillas, and they are sooo tasty!! it's important to use masa not cornmeal. around here it's a 2 person job...hubs mixes them up and presses them, i mush 'em down on the griddle or (wood)stove-top to cook, and flip'em as they crisp up.

The Leftoverist said...

I am loving this "what-we-eat-every-day" stuff. And, for the record, I've never made Spanish rice, and I've made a lot of things in my life. I do, however, know how to wipe my own butt.

Widge said...

Love the way you write. Awesome blog. yummo looking burrito's. Always lookin for a cheap meal that's healthy, but unfortunately I have the fussiest kids and man ever grrrr

mr said...

We made this for our mid-day meal today. Wonderful! Easy! Thank you very much, we'll add this to the regular menu.

Rosalea said...

I don't think it's overkill at all to have a rhythm to your week for little guy to look forward to. Although - I might be biased; at the Waldorf school my son attends the preschool has the same thing so the children have the stability of a weekly and daily rhythm. There is bread day, soup day, garden day, etc.

Keep up the great work! :)

Cailin said...

I've been craving spanish rice for a couple weeks now.. so as soon as I saw this, I ran upstairs and made some. Yummm burritos for dinner. :)

bluejeangourmet said...

I'm totally with you on fire-roasted tomatoes! discovered them a few months ago and they are so flavorful, always in my pantry now.

my best friend's mama always made the best Spanish rice, and her recipe was just like this one, but she used a very strict 1 cup of rice: 1 3/4 cup stock ratio. I think it creates the perfect crunchy-yet-still-fluffy texture.

hey, in addition to Burrito Night & Pizza Night, Noodle Night, etc.--ever do Breakfast-for-Dinner-Night? That's one of our favorites, esp. for cheapness/kitchyness/yummyness factor. We don't even have a kid yet and we name our nights!

Kristen said...

Tortillas - If anyone shops at Costco, look for the uncooked tortillas in the refrig. section - they're awesome! You just heat them up in a skillet or pan to cook them, it's just as quick as heating regular tortillas, and they taste SO good! They're nice and soft and fresh-tasting, too. I've never seen them anywhere else, but there might be places that sell them like that! It's a big pack and they go bad pretty quickly, so we divide them up into 4 or 5 sets and freeze all but one set at a time.

Also - I've never made tortillas myself, but when I watched a friend in Mexico make them, she just used flour and hot (like - boiling!) water - no lard! So if you don't like the idea of lard, it might be possible to make good tortillas without? If you do try them, blog the results, please! (I love this blog, btw!)

Mermaid said...

No need for lard - here's a simple tortilla recipe...

1. Combine 1 ½ c of plain flour and 1 c corn flour (the fine yellow stuff you buy from a bulk bin NOT from the fielders box!) and add 1 c warm water. Use a knife to mix to a firm dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 3 minutes or until smooth.
2. Divide the dough into 8 pieces and roll one portion out on a lightly floured surface.
3. Heat a heavy based pan to hot- be patient this takes awhile! Add the first tortilla and fry approx 30 seconds to 1 minute until it starts to puff then flip it and do the same on the other side. Place in tray in warm oven while you do the rest- there is enough time to roll one while one is in the pan! The first one may fail if the pan isn’t hot enough.

wghook said...

I've used the Uncle Ben's parboiled brown rice with better results than regular brown rice, and it doesn't tend to get as mushy as white rice. But you're right, the white rice it better. I also like to add some diced peppers to mine. Mainly, we call taco night taco night. We have them once a week, and if my husband had his say, we would have tacos more often.

Love your blog.

zoe said...

This is such a funny post! I love your humor. Thanks for showing us how to roll a burrito! I also have burrito night once a week, it is just so easy!

Eliana said...

Great looking burrito!

cbandj said...

My good friend makes homemade tortillas for her family of four all time and her recipe is a cinch to whip up. Here it is if you are interested:

Homemade Tortillas


1 C all-purpose flour
4 C whole wheat flour (use bread flour if you have it)
3/4 C Olive Oil
2 tsp Salt
1 ½ C Boiling water
all purpose flour for rolling

In a large bowl, stir together 1 cup all-purpose flour, the whole wheat flour, and salt. Rub in the shortening by hand until the mixture is the texture of oatmeal. Make a well in the center, and pour in the boiling water. Mix with a fork until all of the water is evenly incorporated. Sprinkle with a bit of additional flour, and knead until the dough does not stick to your fingers. The dough should be smooth.

Make balls the size of golf balls, about 2 ounces each. Place them on a tray, and cover with a cloth. Let stand for at least 1 hour, or up to 8 hours.

Heat a griddle or large frying pan over high heat. On a lightly floured surface, roll out a tortilla to your preferred thinness. Fry one at a time. Place on the pan for 30 seconds, or as soon as you see a bubble on the top, then flip and cook the other side for another 30 seconds. Roll out the next tortilla while you wait for that one to cook. Repeat until all of the balls have been cooked. Tortillas can be refrigerated or frozen.

deweystreetphotocompany said...

thank you sooooooooo much for the spanish rice recipe! all the ones i've tried have sucked in a big way, so i'm excited to try yours.

also, thanks for mentioning (on your other blog?). OMG, that site is bad ass and i want to buy every damn thing on it.

mrs. b said...

I just adore how your photos turn out. The colours are great! Kind of vintage looking. What kind of camera do you shoot with? Do you usually shoot with the aperture setting... if so, what do you set it at?

Courtney said...

That looks really good. It's probably much better then Zatarans too. *hanging my head in shame*

Jessie said...

I added a spoonful of marmite and it was tasty. If not an unforgivable bastardization.

Tally said...

I've always been curious -- do you know what exactly the bay leaf is for? I mean, does it make any noticeable difference if omitted?

Myles said...

Hey I was wondering if you would be okay if I put this recipe on I started using it for my meal planning and it is awesome. There a quite a few delicious recipes, plus you can add more and it will even make a grocery list for you.

Allison said...

I just made this for dinner and both my husband and daughter liked it - a rare event! My kid (4 years old) said that I should make it every night. Thanks - and the Spanish rice is great. I have more rice left than beans or cheese - any creative ideas for leftover rice?

Alicia Lynn Carrier said...

i usually just save the rice and make burritos the next day, either with leftover beans or a fresh can of beans. you can also fry it up in a pan and add scrambled eggs, and make breakfast burritos, which my husband really likes to do.

Justin said...

i like these burrito pics too. now why don't i ever make burritos at home???

Jennie said...

This is probably one of the dumber question you are going to get asked, but how would I make the Spanish rice with brown basmati rice? I have a can of fire roasted tomatoes a friend brought be from Italy and I don't want to screw it up and waste them. Thanks!

Alicia Lynn Carrier said...

Jennie- DON'T DO IT. i tried to make spanish rice with brown rice and it tasted like shit. i'm never going to do it again.

yashika said...

I made this burrito yesterday with not too much in my pantry. I switched the regular rice with brown rice, added green peppers to it and it was fabulous! I made so much we had it for lunch and dinner! Thanks for the simple recipe!

julia said...

Hi, SO maybe I am a bit slow here, but I don't quite get how you are rolling the burrito.... mine totally fell apart. I guess when you write "end," I am not sure what ends you are referring to.... please advise!

Susan a.k.a Lucy said...

Wow, I'm just found your blog and it has made my day. I have ALWAYS wanted to learn how to make spanish rice and your burrito folding looks like an improvement on the type I did (Which was better than some) I also enjoyed your post about morning and coffee and smoothies. I am NOT a morning person so I unfortunately have to hate you. (-:

Susan a.k.a Lucy said...

Ps. I'm also glad you shared the "night" thingy. I'm a grammy and I put in my years calling things cute names etc and then, family grown, viola, I just grew out of it and I'm thinking that's just the thing I need to help me get back on track with the whole "what in the world do I do for dinner" dilema, which as best I can tell, at 47 here, NEVER goes away...sigh.