Monday, August 20, 2018

Spicy Cajun Mussels

Works well with a pound of mussels - so good for two. Spicey!


  • One pound of cleaned mussels
  • One large onion sliced
  • Olive oil
  • Six cloves of garlic sliced 
  • One long hot pepper sliced into large chunks
  • One ripe tomato
  • Two tablespoons of cajun seasoning
  • One lime
  • One cup of mango flavored seltzer
  • Once bunch of cilantro chopped


In a 14" saucepan, saute the onion in the olive oil until starting to brown, about 6-8 minutes. Add garlic and long pepper and saute an additional two minutes. Add tomato and cajun seasoning and saute two more minute. Squeeze in the lime and pour in the seltzer. Bring to light boil and simmer for five minutes. Add mussels and cover. Cook until they open.

Makes a silky, spicy broth with greate texture from the mussels and veggies. 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

“Spaghetti” al Tonno

I like a good meaty Bolognese sauce as much as the next half-Italian, but sometimes I just hanker for this…“Spaghetti” with tuna…a marriage made in heaven as strange as it sounds.

Believe it or not, this dish is an Italian classic.  My mom used to make it every now and then when we were growing up – and now I make it for my kids, usually upon request.

When I make this dish though I rarely use spaghetti – I usually choose another favorite.  For example, this time I used shells – they’re great little buckets for catching the “meaty” tuna sauce.


6 - 5 oz. cans of tuna*
2 – 28 oz. cans of crushed tomatoes
Olive oil
Crushed Garlic
Fresh parsley
Fresh basil

* My mom, and a lot of the recipes you will find online, say to use tuna packed in oil.  I prefer and recommend using the best quality solid white albacore tuna packed in water, and use my own good quality olive oil when making the recipe.


  1. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil to a large skillet on medium heat
  2. Once the oil is hot, add a tablespoon of crushed garlic and sauté together for a few minutes, stirring frequently to avoid burning
  3. Lightly drain the cans of tuna and flake the meat into the skillet
  4. Add a handful of finely chopped parsley, some fresh ground pepper and a pinch of salt, and keep stirring
  5. Drizzle in a few more tablespoons of olive oil
  6. While the tuna is browning in the skillet, add the crushed tomatoes to a pot
  7. Stir in a large handful of finely chopped fresh basil with the tomatoes
  8. Transfer the tuna from the skillet into the pot, stir the mixture well
  9. Turn heat down to low, simmer for at least 30 minutes, but better an hour or two if you have the time
  10. Cook the pasta to your preferred doneness
  11. Ladle some the sauce over the plated pasta
  12. Sprinkle on some roughly chopped fresh basil
  13. Sprinkle on some Romano cheese (optional)
  14. Sprinkle on some roughly chopped long hot pepper (optional, but a key secret ingredient in my estimation)

 For Technologists:

No advice specific to technologists on this one – just general advice to anyone reading this…TRY IT with an open mind.  You won’t be sorry.

Huervos Rancheros with Rice & Beans

This is my favorite breakfast.  I’ve had some great versions in restaurants and diners over the years and I’ve always wanted to give it try at home.  If you Google it you’ll get back over 400K recipes, so there are all sorts of ways to approach it, some more traditional than others, some complex and some simple.  I reviewed a handful of recipes and combined some thoughts and came up with this quick and easy version.


Rancheros Sauce


1 can petite diced tomatoes
1 diced onion
1 can green chilies
1 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
¼ tsp crushed garlic
Fresh ground black pepper
Pinch of salt
Avocado oil (or oil whatever you have on hand)

  1. Sauté the onion and garlic in avocado oil for a few minutes in a skillet
  2. Add the diced tomatoes and green chilies, including the juice from the cans
  3. Roughly chop 2-3 chipotle peppers and stir into the mixture along with a teaspoon of the adobo sauce
  4. Stir in a small handful of chopped cilantro
  5. Add some fresh ground pepper and a pinch of salt
  6. Continue to stir and simmer for a few minutes
  7. Transfer the mixture into a food processor or blender (I used our Magic Bullet) and pulse a couple times, to smooth things out a bit but not so much that it turns into a puree
  8. Transfer back into the skillet and set aside and keep warm

Rice & Beans (optional)

I made this as a side because we happened to have some left over rice around.  My kids love it.


4 cups of cooked rice
1 can of pinto beans, rinsed
1 small can of black beans, rinsed
1 jar of pickled jalapeños (this is the secret ingredient)
¼ tsp crushed garlic
Fresh ground black pepper
Pinch of salt
Avocado oil (or oil whatever you have on hand)

  1. Add a few tablespoons of oil to skillet and once hot add the pinto and black beans
  2. Sauté for several minutes, stirring frequently – ideally some of the beans will start to develop a crunchy coating but in general you don’t want the skins to split
  3. Add the rice and a little water, and continue to sauté stirring frequently; add a little more oil if you need to
  4. Add a dusting of cumin, fresh ground black pepper and salt to your taste
  5. Drizzle in a couple tablespoons of pickled jalapeño juice from the jar; sprinkle a few of the pickled jalapeños in too if you like it spicy
  6. Stir in a handful of chopped cilantro
  7. Set aside and keep warm
Alternate riff: If you prefer to stay away from the pickled jalapeños, use the juice of couple limes instead

The Main Event

The main event is the egg and corn tortilla combined with the rancheros sauce.  You can buy soft corn tortillas and fry them in oil, or lightly pan fry them in a skillet with just a touch of oil (or cooking spray), or you can buy them ready made from the supermarket as I did.  When you buy them, they come in a sleeve and basically look like a regular corn taco shell but are flat instead.


1-2 eggs per serving
1-2 corn tortillas per serving
Cojita cheese*
Diced jalapeño pepper (optional)

* I actually prefer Queso Fresco, which is a fresh cheese that it widely used in Mexican cooking.  However, its shelf life is only a couple of weeks and I often don’t get through it all in time.  A good substitute is Cojita, which is a dry aged cheese similar to Parmesan.

  1. Using your skillet again, fry 1-2 eggs per serving; be careful not to overcook it, you want the whites just done enough with the yolk still a bit runny so that when you cut into it, it oozes over everything and creates an awesome mess
  2. Place 1-2 corn tortilla on a plate
  3. Place a scoop of the rancheros sauce over the tortilla(s)
  4. Place the egg(s) over the rancheros sauce
  5. Place a scoop of the rice and beans off to the side (if you make this optional side)
  6. Sprinkle some chopped cilantro across the plate
  7. Sprinkle some diced jalapeño across the plate (optional)
  8. Grate some Cojita cheese across the plate

 For Technologists

This breakfast came out great – I think because I didn’t focus on following a recipe but instead I committed to a vision I had of the end product.  I had acceptance criteria – it had to be easy and relatively quick to whip up, it had to taste great and have just the right amount of spicy kick.  If I executed it well and was happy with the result, I could always address mechanics of the recipe afterwards, so that it would be repeatable for next time.  Isaac talks about this approach and more in his recent post Ten Ways To Improve IT Culture with Agile, DevOps, Data, andCollaboration.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Best Leftover Chicken, Potato and Kale

My way of dressing up some leftover chicken.

Sunday night I roast a chicken. Use a roasting pan and fill the bottom with sliced potatoes, carrots and onion. Fill the pan with water until it reaches half the height of the potato. Sprinkle your favorite chili spice rub on top of the potatoes.

Add the rack. Rub the bird with the chili spice rub and cook in a 400F oven until the breast reads 161F.

Now that makes for a nice Sunday night dinner!

Separate the fat from the roasting liquid and store separately from any leftover chicken and potatoes.

Monday, I will chop some kale and fry with salt and cumin seed. Add a a half a cup of the roasting liquid and cover. Cook until  the kale is wilted down, about 7-10 minutes.

Add the sliced chicken and potatoes to the pan, cover, and cook 2-3 minutes until they are hot.

Serve in a bowl. Very yummy!

For Technologists

Great post from the archives, 5 ways to Improve Agile Team Velocity.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Sloppy Ronan Sandwich - Add Bok Choy and Steak to Sloppy Joe's Classic

You've heard of a Sloppy Joe so here is my son's version of the classic sandwich. In this sandwich, Ronan has chopped meat sandwiched between a soft bun like the classic, but he adds thin sliced steak for an even meatier flavor and sauteed bok choy for a surprising crunch. The combination of the four textures and flavors makes for a new classic!

Ronan did most of the prep, cooking, and cleaning so this is a recipe that works great with older chef kids. One touch I added was to show Ronan how to reuse his frying pan to get more flavor and reduce the cleanup.


  • 1.5 lbs lean chopped meat (I used 90%)
  • Onion, diced
  • Salt, pepper, garlic powder, oil
  • Vegetable or olive oil
  • 2-2.5 lb London Broil steak
  • Bok Choy sliced up
  • Whole wheat hamburger buns
  • Your favorite BBQ sauce (Ronan like Guy Fieri's Burbon Brown Sugar)
  • Indoor grill pan
  • Oven safe frying pan


Heat indoor grill pan and set the oven at 350F.

Heat oil in a small frying pan. Add onion and saute for a few minutes. Add chopped meat, garlic powder and salt and saute meat until brown. Season a second time with salt and pepper and scoop out into a small bowl.

Salt and pepper the steak. Add about a table spoon of oil to the indoor grill pan. It should smoke up, then place the steak on the grill and sear for two minutes on each side. Remove the steak, add it to the frying pan, and place in the oven. Six minutes on a 2.5lb steak will get you a medium-well steak. Remove the frying pan and allow the steak to cool at least ten minutes before slicing very thin.

Leave the steak juices in the pan and heat up on the stove. Add the bok choy and saute for about five minutes.

To make the sandwich, open the bun. Add a layer of steak followed by a layer of bok choy followed by a spoonful of chopped meat. Drizzle with a bit of the BBQ sauce. Enjoy!

For Technologists

Ronan is learning to cook because he enjoys being creative and making new things. It's important for kids to follow their passion and for parents to lead them in their exploration. I provided engineering undergraduate students similar advice in my post, My Advice to Engineering Undergraduate Students.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Winter Lager, Chili Spiced Pork Loin, Beans and Kale

All I can say is, this was a very satisfying, chili and winter lager inspired meal. Even though there are three different components to this meal, the ingredients and prep done for completing one dish aids in the others.

The combination of winter lager, chili peppers, and maple syrup make a great base for the beans. I suppose you can also add tomatoes and mustard, but I left these out. I used the lager and peppers as poaching liquid for both the pork and kale which added both flavor and kick.

This is one recipe where you'll have to make best judgment on quantities of ingredients and cooking times. Key to the beans are their texture and thickness of the sauce, so I suggest checking it every five minutes once you are thirty minutes into the simmer. As for the pork, let a good thermometer do the work.


  • 3-4 lb pork loin
  • Mix of dried chili peppers, chili pepper powder, cumin seeds, coriander, garlic powder, salt.
  • Bunch of kale
  • Half a pound of dry pinto beans
  • Onion and garlic chopped
  • 3-4 bottles of Winter Lager (for cooking - more to drink!)
  • Ketchup
  • Maple Syrup
  • 2 tablespoons of butter and flour for gravy

Prep Work

First, start by getting the chili peppers ready by toasting and then soaking them for thirty minutes in hot water. Reserve the liquid which will be used later.

Second, create a spice rub of ground cumin, coriander, several ground chili peppers, garlic powder and salt, save a couple of tablespoons, and rub the rest on the meat. Allow this to sit wrapped in the fridge for at least six hours.

Finally, boil the beans for three minutes and then let them sit covered in the hot water for an hour. Drain the beans and let them sit at room temperature.

I did all of this in the morning and finished the meal in the afternoon.


Start with the beans. In a sauce pan, toast some cumin and then fry with onion and lots of garlic. Add in any remaining spice mixture from the pork and toss with the onions. Add beer, ketchup, maple syrup, and chili water to the pot until the beans are covered. Bring to a light boil and simmer for an hour. Beans should still have a bite and sauce should be thick.

To make the kale, toast more cumin seeds in a large frying pan on medium heat. Add olive oil and bring to temperature, then add chopped kale. Toss until leaves begin to welt, then add a mix of chili water and winter lager until the bottom of the pan has liquid. Cover and steam at low heat for ten minutes. Plate the kale in a bowl and cover.

Preheat the oven onto 375. Heat the frying pan again with oil. Sear the pork on all sides 2-3 minutes. Add a mixture of beer and wine to the pan to fill the bottom and move the pan into the oven. Cook for about 30-40 minutes adding more liquid as needed. Cook until the pork's center reads 145F.

Remove the pork from the pan and let sit for 10 minutes before serving. If you have leftover juice in the pan, make a gravy by heating it and stirring in butter and flour.

For Technologists

This recipe requires balancing flavor and some planning so that you can complete them with minimal effort and mess. For those in IT, you know that "alignment" and balance between IT and Business responsibilities is difficult to achieve. In data science, there are additional challenges. My recent post on Balancing an Agile Data Organization speaks to efforts to align business and IT responsibilities to establish an agile data driven organization.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Beef with Long Hot Peppers and Sticky Rice

Beef with Long Hot Peppers and Sticky Rice

This dish is a spin on a favorite from a Chinese restaurant near the office.  This restaurant has a dish called Chicken with Long Hot Peppers.  It’s simple and fantastic and I've gotten many others hooked on it over the years - I don’t even look at the menu when we go there, my order is automatic.

This dish is quick and easy to make at home when you have a craving for something satisfyingly hot and spicy – this time I did it with beef instead of chicken because that is what I had on hand.  I also cobbled together this marinade from several different recipes – so it’s an experiment that I think came out well – but don’t be afraid to tinker with it to your taste.


  •  1 1/2 lbs of thinly sliced beef *
  • 3-6 long hot peppers (I only had 3 on hand this time but definitely use more normally)
  • Marinade (see below)

 * The beef should be sliced very thin.  We have a slicer, so I pulled a bag of pre-sliced beef from the freezer to make this dish.  However, you can find thinly sliced beef in most supermarkets – but in our experience your best bet to find it thin is an Asian supermarket.

Note: If you are want to try it with chicken like the original dish then the chicken should be tenderized and cut into thin narrow strips.

  • 1/2 cup of vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup of soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp chili infused sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp agave nectar (or honey)
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 thinly sliced green onion
  • Several cranks of freshly coarse ground black pepper


Ideally, marinate the beef for a several hours, but in a pinch I've marinated for as little as 30 minutes and it still comes out great.

These are the guys you are looking for – they’re most 
often green but can be red as well.
Generally, the firmer they are the milder they are –
the  wrinkled ones usually pack more heat

For the sticky rice:
  1. Prepare rice per package directions – we use sticky sushi rice and make in a pressure cooker, but you can it on the stove top in a pot as well
For the peppers:
  1. Cut the stem ends off the peppers, cut in half longwise, remove the seeds and veins
  2. Chop in thin (~1/8 inch) strips - sideways, not longwise
  3. Toss into very hot non-stick skillet or wok
  4. Quickly hit them with vegetable oil non-stick spray, or mix in a tiny bit of oil to lightly coat
  5. Sprinkle in a pinch of salt
  6. Sauté on high heat for a few minutes, until they start to char slightly but are still crisp
  7. Transfer to a bowl and set aside
For beef:
  1. Drain the marinade off
  2. Toss into very hot non-stick skillet or wok
  3. Sauté on high heat for a few minutes
  4. When almost done, toss in the peppers and mix together, cook for another minute
 To serve:
  1. Place a mound of rice (~1 cup) on a plate
  2. Place some of the beef and pepper mixture around the rice
  3. Place a dollop of chili garlic sauce on top of the rice (you can find this in most supermarkets – I get it in Shoprite)

For Technologists

It’s a brand new year – traditionally a time for reflection and resolutions.  This dish is a favorite and reliably works for me.  Sticking with favorites is a good thing – “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” – be it a technology, tool, technique, process or approach.  However, that should not stop us from experimenting and trying new riffs on familiar things.  Worst case, it may not work well but we learn something new.  Best case we may find new favorites – and more or better success.  This year, resolve to look at your “favorites” and look for opportunities to adjust and improve – be agile.