Sunday, December 6, 2009

Black Bean and Corn Quesadillas


This recipe is a great vegetarian alternative to a meaty mexican dish. The black beans are incredibly filling, and the whole recipe comes together so easily with ingredients that many of us have on hand. The cheese you use is key here - I like monterrey jack because it melts nicely and doesn't completely over power the quesadilla mix. And when grilling your quesadillas go low and slow, like you would on a grilled cheese. That way you ensure a crispy (yet fluffy) tortilla and gooey melted cheese on the inside without burning the tortilla.

Ingredients for 4+ servings:
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp minced jalapeno
  • 1 can corn, drained (You could also use defrosted frozen corn)
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 - 2 tbsp of salsa
  • 4z (half a brick) of monterrey jack cheese, shredded
  • 4 burrito sized tortillas
  • Vegetable oil to brush on tortillas

Directions:
  1. Heat oil in a saute pan and lightly saute jalapenos.
  2. Add in corn and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add beans and saute for another 2-3 minutes. Add salsa and incorporate thoroughly.
  3. Lightly brush one side of each tortilla with vegetable oil (this helps create a lightly crisped tortilla).
  4. In a separate large skillet, heat up to medium-low heat. Place tortilla in the dry skillet, oil side down. Add cheese immediately on one half of the tortilla, top with the bean/corn mix, and fold tortilla in half.
  5. When cheese has melted and bottom of tortilla is golden brown, flip tortilla. Cook until golden brown.
  6. Remove from skillet and cut into wedges with a pizza cutter. Serve immediately.
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Green Chili Mashed Potatoes


Two Tex-Mex restaurants that my husband and I have been to many many times serve what's called Papas con Chile, which I LOVE. This is my first attempt at recreating those spicy, creamy mashed potatoes. I don't think I nailed it, but I believe I've certainly begun to head down the right path. This is essentially a basic mashed potato recipe, kicked up with some chile peppers and jalapenos. I didn't monitor my time, or take exact measurements of the butter, milk, cream and salt that I added. So, as you make this recipe, make sure you taste as you go, and add ingredients little by little to control the spice, creaminess and salt levels to your preferences.

Ingredients for about 3-4 servings:
  • 4 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and large diced
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1 can of green chilis, drained
  • 1 tsp minced fresh jalapeno
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • Monterrey Jack Cheese (optional)

Directions:
  1. Bring pot with cold water and potatoes to a boil. Boil potatoes until tender. Drain, and return potatoes to pot on stove.
  2. Using a masher, mash potatoes and add in butter, milk and cream (you can use all milk, or half and half instead). Mash until combined.
  3. Add drained chili peppers and jalapenos (use less jalapeno if you prefer less spice). Stir to combine.
  4. Add salt to taste
  5. Top with Monterrey Jack cheese
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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Starbucks Inspired Pumpkin Scones

My husband doesn't have many things he loves to eat, but Pumpkin Scones is one of those things that he truly enjoys. I had about a cup of leftover pumpkin after making my pumpkin pie so I decided to give these scones a try. The recipe I found was on Recipe Zaar - a pretty good resource for restaurant copycat recipes.
Overall I think this recipe is good. I didn't have half and half on hand, but I had plenty of cream and milk. So, I used half milk, half cream in place of the half and half. I had a little trouble getting the dough to come together therefore I added more milk to the mix. I also decided to make a double batch so that I could flash freeze most of them and make only a handful for us to snack on. Because my husband works from home, I thought it'd be nice to have frozen scones in the freezer, ready for him to thaw for 30 minutes and bake for about 15. If you wish to freeze your scones, freeze unbaked scones on a cookie sheet or cutting board, then place into a freezer-grade ziploc bag.

Although I will post the full recipe here, I didn't make the icing at all. I attempted the simple powdered sugar glaze, but the ratio of powdered sugar to milk which I used was off. Next time, I'll give the icings a try.

Ingredients for a SINGLE BATCH of Pumpkin Scones (approximately 6 scones)

SCONES
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 7 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 6 tbsp cold butter
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3 tbsp half-and-half
  • 1 large egg

POWDERED SUGAR GLAZE
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk

SPICED GLAZE
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp whole milk
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 pinch ground ginger
  • 1 pinch ground cloves

Directions:
TO MAKE THE SCONES:.
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet or line with parchment paper.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices in a large bowl. Using a pastry knife, fork, or food processor, cut butter into the dry ingredients until mixture is crumbly and no chunks of butter are obvious. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin, half and half, and egg. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Form the dough into a ball.
  4. Pat out dough onto a lightly floured surface and form it into a 1-inch thick rectangle (about 9 inches long and 3 inches wide). Use a large knife or a pizza cutter to slice the dough twice through the width, making three equal portions. Cut those three slices diagonally so that you have 6 triangular slices of dough.
  5. Place on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 14–16 minutes. Scones should begin to turn light brown. Place on wire rack to cool.

TO MAKE THE PLAIN GLAZE:.
  1. Mix the powdered sugar and 2 tbsp milk together until smooth.
  2. When scones are cool, use a brush to paint plain glaze over the top of each scone.

AS THAT WHITE GLAZE FIRMS UP, MAKE THE SPICED ICING:.

  1. Combine the ingredient for the spiced icing together. Drizzle this thicker icing over each scone and allow the icing to dry before serving (at least 1 hour). A squirt bottle works great for this, or you can drizzle with a whisk.
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Turkey Pot Pie



Well, if you've read the previous few posts, you'll know that I prepared a Thanksgiving turkey for 3 people, and the turkey breast weighed 8lbs. Needless to say, we had a LOT of turkey leftovers. Not to mention leftover peas, and turkey gravy. I've never made a turkey pot pie, but I thought that this would be the most efficient way to use up a lot of the leftovers we had plus get through some of the fresh veggies still on hand from the week before, like potatoes, carrots, and onion. I even had leftover biscuit dough from the fried biscuit donuts I made for breakfast this same morning! I winged this whole thing, so make sure that you taste as you go, adding what you need based on taste and consistency.
Overall the results were quite good! Hearty, full of yummy veggies. The biscuits were almost like dumpling texture underneath. I added spicy chipotle chili powder to the pot pie mix for a nice kick too. This is a great cold weather meal and perfect for Thanksgiving leftovers.

Ingredients:
  • 2 Tbsp Butter
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Onion
  • 2 small potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 carrots peeled and cubed1 Celery Stalk medium dice
  • 6 Tbsp Flour
  • 1 cup left over gravy
  • 1.5 cups of Milk
  • 1.5 cups broth (chicken/turkey/vegetable)
  • Dash of chipotle chili powder (to taste - i added 1/8 tsp or so)
  • 2 Cups cooked Turkey, diced
  • 4 Buttermilk biscuit dough rounds, halved width-wise (or 8 regular biscuit dough rounds)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
Directions
  1. Heat butter and oil in a large, oven safe pot or dutch oven. Add diced onion and cook for two minutes until halfway translucent. Add in carrots and celery and continue to cook for another few minutes until onions are totally translucent.
  2. Add in flour and whisk, add in gravy and whisk until incorporated with flour.
  3. Whisk in milk and broth and cook until it begins to boil and thicken.
  4. If you wish the mix to be thicker, combine equal parts liquid from the pot with flour. Stir to combine thoroughly and return this slurry to the pot. This method will help you avoid lumps.
  5. When mixture reaches your desired thickness, add in diced turkey, season to taste with salt and pepper and top with the biscuits.
  6. Bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until biscuits are cooked through

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Brined Turkey and Sweet Corn Bread Pudding


This year was my first year cooking a Thanksgiving dinner. Albeit, there were just three people in attendance, but I still went all out. The menu consisted of a Brined Roasted Turkey Breast, Sweet Corn Bread Pudding, Scalloped Potatoes, Buttered Peas, Roasted Carrots, Spinach Artichoke Dip, and Homemade Bread. Dessert was the rich NY Style Cheesecake in the post before, and a traditional Pumpkin Pie. There are two recipes in this post - Turkey Brine and Alton Brown's Sweet Corn Bread Pudding, which makes a great stuffing type side dish. Turkey is front and center in the photo above, and the Corn Bread Pudding is in the background in the cast-iron skillet.

TURKEY BRINE
Several years ago my Mom started brining her Thanksgiving turkeys and they were moist, tender, and flavorful every single time. So, I decided to brine my turkey to achieve the same results. The brine itself was very easy; water, chicken broth, salt, sugar, and spices. The trick is finding out how much liquid you need to add, and that is based in part on how large your turkey is, and how large your brining vessel is. I chose to brine my turkey in a large oversized stock pot. My Turkey was an 8lb bone-in turkey breast, (it's important not to buy a self-basting turkey for this!). The day that I wanted to make the brine, I placed my turkey in the stock pot and measured out how much liquid I could safely fit in the pot without over-flowing. This helped me plan the right ratio of water to stock and salt/sugar. Fortunately, my Mom's recipe called for the exact amount of liquid I could fit into my stock pot with the turkey inside.

Here's my Mom's recipe as I prepared it. Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:
  • 1 gallon chicken broth (vegetable broth is fine as well)
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons of your favorite herbs; rosemary, sage, thyme. (I used a combination of fresh rosemary, thyme, sage, and dried poultry seasoning)
  • 1 gallon of ice water
Directions:
PREPARING THE BRINE
  1. In a large stock pot combine the chicken broth, salt, sugar and herbs. Bring to a boil and let cool to room temperature.
  2. Wash and dry your turkey, making sure the innards are removed. Place turkey in cooled brine, add the remaining 1 gallon of ice-water. If stock pot isn't large enough for your brine + turkey, transfer to a lined 5-gallon bucket. Be sure to use food-grade supplies for this (do not use trash bags to line your bucket).
  3. Place your stock pot in the refrigerator or cold location overnight; approximately 12-14 hours.

ROASTING THE TURKEY
  1. Remove turkey from the brine and thoroughly rinse. For crispy skin, let the turkey sit in the refrigerator 6-10 hours before roasting, to allow the turkey to dry.
  2. When ready to roast, place turkey in roasting pan on top of any aromatics you wish; I used garlic and onion, tucking fresh thyme, rosemary and sage under and inside the turkey. I sprinkled the top of the turkey with fresh thyme leaves.
  3. Brush turkey with olive oil all over. No need to add salt due to the brine.
  4. Bake the turkey on 325 - 350 for approximately 1.5 - 2 hours, until the internal temperature of the turkey reaches 165 degrees. Remove turkey from oven, as the turkey will continue to cook.
  5. Let the turkey rest for 10 minutes before carving!

SWEET CORN BREAD PUDDING

I was looking for a corn recipe to serve at Thanksgiving when I came across this sweet corn bread pudding recipe on foodnetwork.com. I wasn't totally sure what to expect, but reading the reviews it sounded like this was less of a pudding and more like a bread or stuffing. I figured that if it were stuffing like, it knocked out two birds with one stone; so, I gave it a whirl and man, am I glad I did! The results were phenomenal and the recipe was so easy to make. There was a great corn flavor, light, fluffy, yet moist bread stuffing texture, and was a nice complement to the turkey and other dishes at Thanksgiving. Plus, it made for really tasty leftovers.

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 onion, diced fine
  • 1 ounce unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1 (15-ounce) can creamed style sweet corn
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal, whole grain, stone ground
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 2 cups cubed French bread

Directions:
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Sweat onions with butter and herbs in an oven safe skillet until translucent.
  3. Combine corn, cream, eggs, baking powder, cornmeal, Parmesan, salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl. Add cubed bread and fold to combine. Pour batter into skillet, right on top of the onion mixture. Bake 50 minutes, or until set. Cool slightly before serving.
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New York Style Cheesecake


I've been wanting to try a cheesecake recipe for some time now, and so I though Thanksgiving would be the perfect excuse to slice after slice of an indulgent dessert. This recipe came together very easily, especially since I actually let the cream cheese come to room temperature before trying to work with it. The only modification I had to make was to use a little more butter in the graham cracker crust, as the graham cracker crumbs seemed so dry.

Here's the recipe, courtesy of Allrecipes.com: New York Style Cheesecake

Ingredients:
  • 15 graham crackers, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9 inch springform pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs with melted butter. Press onto bottom of springform pan.
  3. In a large bowl, mix cream cheese with sugar until smooth. Blend in milk, and then mix in the eggs one at a time, mixing just enough to incorporate. Mix in sour cream, vanilla and flour until smooth. Pour filling into prepared crust.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour. Turn the oven off, and let cake cool in oven with the door closed for 5 to 6 hours; this prevents cracking. Chill in refrigerator until serving.
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Monday, October 5, 2009

Buffalo Chicken Salad

My friend Jamie and I visited one of our favorite Bloomington restaurants - BuffaLouie's - the last time we were at Indiana University for recruiting with the company we work for. Well, ever since I was down there and had their Buffalo Chicken Salad I have had seriously intense cravings for it! This is my attempt at re-creating the salad, since no restaurant in Madison seems to have anything that rivals it!

A little digging on the BuffaLouie's website says that their sauce comes 'direct from Buffalo, New York'. Well, wing enthusiasts know that the true buffalo wing sauce uses Franks Red Hot, and that the Anchor Bar in Buffalo is one of the original wing joints. So, looking for an authentic wing sauce recipe I browsed the Anchor Bar website and saw that their Medium wing sauce had cayenne pepper, vinegar, salt, garlic and margarine. Low and behold, the Franks Red Hot Original sauce has those exact ingredients. All I needed was to add margarine.

The next feat in recreating the salad was the chicken. Jamie had her salad sans breading. I, however, needed something fried (to hold on the sauce, of course!). So, I turned to the highly rated Chicken Fried Chicken recipe from Allrecipes.com for my recipe. For those looking for a shortcut, I have used Tyson's breaded chicken breasts in other salad recipes, which you can find in the frozen food section.

The result - a FABULOUS salad that totally satisfied my craving for the spicy, crisp BuffaLouie's Buffalo Chicken Salad. Give it a try!

Ingredients for two medium-sized salads:

For the Chicken (adapted from Allrecipes.com):
  • 1 boneless skinless chicken breast, pounded flat
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 15 crackers (Ritz is what I used)
  • 2 tablespoons dry potato flakes
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 egg, lightly beat in a separate dish
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

For the Sauce:
  • 1/4 c. Franks Red Hot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce
  • 3 Tbs Margarine, melted

For the Salad:
  • 1/2 head iceberg lettuce, torn or cut
  • 1 carrot, peeled, and thinly sliced (think julienned)
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar
  • Crumbled blue cheese, to taste
  • Ranch or blue cheese dressing
  • Croutons

Directions:
  1. Prepare the chicken - In a ziploc bag, crush the crackers, add potato flakes, seasoned salt, pepper and shake to combine.
  2. Lightly dredge chicken in flour, then into egg, and then into the cracker mix. Shake to coat.
  3. Cook chicken in saute pan heated with vegetable oil and set aside on paper towels to drain. When cool enough to handle, dice chicken and set aside.
  4. Make the wing sauce - Melt the margarine. Combine with Franks Red Hot sauce. Set aside.
  5. Assemble the salad - Place lettuce, carrots, celery, cheddar, blue cheese, and chicken in salad bowl.
  6. Drizzle the wing sauce over the chicken and lettuce. Top with ranch or blue cheese dressing and croutons!
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Sunday, September 27, 2009

My New Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

I've made this recipe twice in the last week. The first time I made it because I was bored. This time, because I needed something sweet to cap off the food I'm dropping off for my boss and her family. And, well because this batter is AWESOME. I've saved some to snack on! Anyway, this recipe comes to us again from allrecipes.com. I was looking for a recipe that'd yield a crispy edge, soft-center cookie. Many I've seen are cakey cookies, which I don't like when it comes to chocolate chip cookies.

The first time I made this I only had half a stick of butter, so I used 1/2 cup of margerine. This time, I had enough butter and went the all-butter route. The differences were clear; the cookies baked with margerine spread a bit more when baking, and were a little flatter. The ones with all butter, however, stayed a little thicker and didn't spread as much on the pan. Both yielded tasty, crisy-edged, soft-center cookies. I am certain this will be my 'go to' recipe in the future.

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar (I go a scant less than a cup on both white and brown sugar)
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I used 2.5 teaspoons, as I think vanilla is a great complement to the chocolate chips in the cookies)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons hot water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (This equates to a bag. I used Baker's Semi-sweet chocolate chunks)

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Cream together the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Dissolve baking soda in hot water. Add to batter along with salt. Stir in flour, chocolate chips, and nuts. Drop by large spoonfuls onto ungreased pans.
  3. Bake for about 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are nicely browned.
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Chicken Noodle Soup


Up until tonight I had been convinced that chicken noodle soup only came out of a can. Well, not anymore! This is another meal destined for my boss and her family tomorrow. Hopefully the comfort food will be tasty for all of them...I'm bringing along a bread that cooks up wonderfully crusty and that should cap off a warm bowl of soup nicely. This recipe, which I found on allrecipes.com, was super easy to make, and skips the step of making homemade stock by using good-quality low sodium broth from the store (which allows you to control the sodium level). Using chicken from a store-bought rotisserie chicken makes this even easier. I could see this turning into turkey and noodles for the day after a big Thanksgiving meal too.

The only changes I made were to use all chicken broth instead of a can of vegetable broth, 1/2 teaspoon of italian seasoning in place of dried basil (only because I had none) and used 2 cups of noodles instead of one - but that's just because I'm a noodle person. Make this and enjoy!

Ingredients:
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 4 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can vegetable broth
  • 1/2 pound chopped cooked chicken breast
  • 1 1/2 cups egg noodles
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
  1. In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter. Cook onion and celery in butter until just tender, 5 minutes.
  2. Pour in chicken and vegetable broths and stir in chicken, noodles, carrots, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes before serving.
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Pesto Chicken Pasta Salad


My boss recently had a darling baby girl, and I've offered to bring dinner to her and her family tomorrow evening. She mentioned that she liked this dish I made earlier in the summer and thought it'd be a nice dish that she could keep in the fridge and eat cold throughout the day when she finds a spare moment. Plus, it's super easy for me to make! You could add or remove whatever you want to this - no chicken, use marinated artichokes, sundried tomatoes, roasted veggies - whatever!

Ingredients:
1 box farfalle pasta (penne would work fine too)
1 tub of pesto - Buitoni brand refrigerated pesto works well
1 can artichokes, diced
1 carton of grape tomatoes
1 large diced, cooked chicken breast - rotisserie chicken works well
Parmesan cheese for sprinkling on top

Directions:
Cook pasta in salted water until al dente
Drain and immediately toss pasta with tub of pesto, diced artichokes and chicken. Set aside and let cool.
Once cool toss with grape tomatoes and refrigerate, garnishing with parmesan cheese.
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White Chicken Chili


People who come to visit us in Madison, get to experience one of my favorite restaurants in town, the Hubbard Avenue Diner. They've got a chicken chili there that is just phenomenal. I don't really know how they end up with the results they do, but I decided to try to find a recipe that might come somewhat close. This recipe on Epicurious.com is one of the few creamy recipes that I found online. Hubbards recipe is thick, but now that I've made this recipe, I don't think that it's got such a base of dairy like the Epicurious recipe. The recipe I made tonight is definitely creamy and luxurious. In all, I'd make it again, but it still doesn't come close to the yumminess of Hubbard's chili.

I did make some modifications to the recipe, to make it a bit easier to prep. 1) used canned cannelini beans, drained and rinsed, 2) used a whole can of chicken broth instead of just 3/4 cups, 3) used pepper jack cheese instead of just monterey jack, 4) I used two diced chicken breasts sauteed in a skillet and lightly seasoned with chili powder and 5) omitted sour cream (creamy enough!)

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 pound dried navy beans, picked over (I used a single can of cannelini beans, drained and rinsed)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth (I used a whole can of 33% lower sodium broth)
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco, or to taste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper, or to taste
  • two 4-ounce cans whole mild green chilies, drained and chopped
  • 5 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (about 2 pounds), cooked and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (I diced two raw chicken breasts, sauteed in butter/oil mix and sprinkle of chili powder and salt, set aside until I needed to add chicken)
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Monterey Jack (about 6 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (I omitted, felt it was creamy enough!)
Garnish: fresh coriander sprigs
Accompaniment: tomato salsa

Directions:
  1. In a large kettle soak beans in cold water to cover by 2 inches overnight. Drain beans in a colander and return to kettle with cold water to cover by 2 inches. Cook beans at a bare simmer until tender, about 1 hour, and drain in colander.
  2. In a skillet cook onion in 2 tablespoons butter over moderate heat until softened.
  3. In a 6- to 8-quart heavy kettle melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter over moderately low heat and whisk in flour. Cook roux, whisking constantly, 3 minutes. Stir in onion and gradually add broth and half-and-half, whisking constantly. Bring mixture to a boil and simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes, or until thickened. Stir in Tabasco, chili powder, cumin, salt, and white pepper. Add beans, chilies, chicken, and Monterey Jack and cook mixture over moderately low heat, stirring, 20 minutes. Stir sour cream into chili.
  4. Garnish chili with coriander and serve with salsa.
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Broccoli Cheddar Bacon Quiche with a Potato Crust



There's a surprisingly quaint and tasty cafe near my office called Mana. They serve a special quiche daily, and I've found a slice of quiche and a light side salad is a rather satisfying lunch. I've never made one before, and haven't really researched very many recipes, but thought I'd give it a try. This recipe is a meld of two recipes I've found. For the crust, I didn't want to use a store-bought crust. Instead, in my browsing for a recipe that used potatoes, I came across several recipes using a potato crust! The potato crust recipe that I modeled mine after is here, on King Arthur Flour's website. The other recipe for the filling was one I found on trusty allrecipes.com titled "Easy Broccoli Quiche." I made slight modifications to both, and that is what I've posted below.
The verdict: The filling portion was quite tasty but took some time to bake. It came together easily with ingredients I had on hand. The crust, however was a major letdown. WAY too much work for little payoff. If I were to make the quiche again, I'd go with pre-bought crust to save some time. All in all, the recipe below took me nearly an hour and a half from start to finish (eating!) so I'd suggest skipping the potato crust part and just using a pre-bought, baked pie shell.

Ingredients:
Potato Crust
  • 3-4 fist sized (slightly larger than fist sized) yukon gold potatoes, or whatever kind you have around, shredded
  • 3-4 heaping tablespoons of all purpose flour
  • Sprinkle of salt
Filling
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cups fresh broccoli, chopped in to small pieces
  • 8 strips of Oscar Mayer Fully Cooked bacon, cooked & crumbled
  • 1.5 cups shredded cheddar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Directions:
  1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Generously grease a 9-inch pie plate or cake pan
  2. Peel, rinse, shred potatoes. Squeeze shredded potatoes in a couple layers of paper towels to remove as much moisture as possible. Toss with flour.
  3. Press potatoes around the bottom and sides of the pan and bake for approximately 25 minutes. Remove potatoes from oven, brush lightly with oil, and bake for another 15 minutes. Meanwhile, prep the filling.
  4. Melt butter in small skillet and cook onions until transluscent. Add broccoli and cook until just barely cooked through.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, milk, half and half, salt, and pepper.
  6. When potatoes are finished cooking, place a layer of cheese, veggies, sprinkle the bacon, and the rest of the cheese. Top mixture with the egg mix. Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes or until center is set.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Fresh Tomato Sauce


I've managed to eat a lot of tomatoes in the last few weeks...on BLT's, Caprese Salad, I made a heavenly Bacon Egg Tomato Cheddar Sandwich, and have eaten straight up plain tomatoes. Frankly, tomatoes are one of my favorite foods on the planet. I pulled off several more pounds of tomatoes this morning, and realized I'd need to eat a LOT more tomatoes to avoid them going to waste. So, I thought I'd give this Fresh Tomato Sauce recipe from Gourmet cookbook a try. I am a bit miffed at myself - I can't believe I haven't tried this sooner! It was so easy, and so good. But in my excitement to eat this pile of noodles covered in flavorful, yet delicate sauce, I left my burner on low and burned the last cup of sauce left in the pan. No worries though - I've got a pile of tomatoes double the size of the photo below to work with!

Here's the recipe from The Gourmet Cookbook, edited by Ruth Reichl, 2004. Pgs 207-208

Ingredients:
  • 6 pounds of ripe tomatoes, such as beefsteak or plum, peeled (I didn't peel mine! Oops...and I have no idea if I had 6lbs. I eyeballed it and used about 5 medium sized tomatoes.)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves thinly sliced (I minced 6)
  • 1 tsp sugar (In hindsight, I would have tasted the sauce first, then started with a half teaspoon of sugar and work my way up.)
  • 1 tsp salt (Same thought on the salt as the sugar)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or flat-leaf parsley (I went with the basil from the garden)

Directions:
  1. Core tomatoes and halve crosswise. Working over a sieve set over a bowl, squeeze the tomatoes gently to remove seeds. Discard seeds and reserve juice (I had to press the seeds in the sieve to get additional juice out). Coarsely chop tomatoes.
  2. Heat oil in a 6- to 7-quart pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Add garlic and cook, stirring until just golden, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, reserved juice, sugar, salt and bring to a simmer. Simmer uncovered stirring occasionally, until thickened, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  3. Stir in basil and salt to taste.
Can be made up to 4 days aead and refrigerated in an airtight container. Makes approximately 6 cups, enough for 2lbs of pasta.
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Summer's Bounty


The first of the tomatoes coming out of the garden! Big beefsteak and romas. Makes some of the best BLTs and Caprese Salad ever...
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My version of Beecher's Mac & Cheese


People who know me know that I love Seattle. And, that I especially love Beechers' Macaroni & Cheese. Beecher's Handmade Cheese is a tiny cheese shop in Pike Place Market and it is just incredible. I love every square inch of the store - the windows to the room where they're making cheese, the well stocked, impressive cheese case, and even the crowd drooling over the glorious macaroni and cheese. Frankly, I dream about this place and its macaroni. The macaroni is incredibly rich. Perfectly creamy and just the right amount of heat. I. LOVE. IT.

Well, my regular scouring of the internet brought me to this blog - Bring to Boil, and their Mac & Cheese theory and read on, discovering why Beechers' mac & cheese is so good, AND discovering the recipe! So, I had to give it a try. Could I possibly re-create the world's best macaroni and cheese in MY kitchen?

I came across one of the ingredients that gives Beecher's mac it's signature taste - Chipotle Chile Powder - at the The Spice House at Milwaukee Public Market. A wise investment as it can be used in SO many different foods and truly the key to the great flavor. The next key ingredients were the cheeses...Well, I live in Wisconsin. Land of Cheese. And, I live in Madison, home to the great Dane County Farmer's market where it seems there are cheese sellers every other stall! I am a bit unsure of what Beechers' Flagship Cheese tastes like - this is what they use in their macaroni - so I sought out a cheese at the market that delivered on some creaminess without being too sharp. I chose a 3 year raw milk cheddar by Brunkow Cheese. This booth is always incredibly popular at the market because of their Brun-uusto cheese (the cheese you put on a hot griddle and eat warm), but they've also got a ton of different cheddars to choose from. I tasted all of the 'regular' cheddars (didn't want one with herbs, garlic, etc) and settled on this particular cheddar for it's smooth profile and tad bit of sharpness. I needed a semi-soft cheese as well, and opted for a monterey jack. I thought this would give it an over-the-top creamy texture (and it'd be great with some other meals I had planned!).

The recipe itself is a pretty standard macaroni recipe. Start with a roux, add milk and thicken, then stir in the cheese until melted, toss in the al dente pasta, and bake until bubbly.

Results of this macaroni were as I anticipated - creamy and rich! A very close version of the Beecher's Mac & Cheese. The chipotle pepper really does kick it into high gear, setting this recipe apart from many other macaroni recipes I've tried. Serve this with a salad...it's so rich you'll probably go overboard if paired with anything heavier! Give this recipe a try. You won't be disappointed one bit!

Here's the recipe, via Bring to Boil


Beechers’ Style “World’s Best” Mac & Cheese
Adapted from Pure Flavor: 125 Fresh All-American Recipes From The Pacific Northwest.

Ingredients:
  • For Cheese Sauce:
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 14 oz semihard cheese, grated, ~3 ½ cups (cheddar, Gruyère, Swiss, Gouda, Provolone, Emmenthaler, Beecher’s Flagship)*
  • 2 oz semisoft cheese, grated, ~ ½ cup (Colby, Fontina, brick, Havarti, Montery Jack, mozzarella)*
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ to ½ tsp chipotle chili powder

For Pasta and Toppings:
  • 12 oz tubular pasta (high-quality, pasta would be welcome here)
  • Kosher salt for pasta water
  • 2 oz cheddar, grated ~ ½ cup
  • 2 oz Gruyere, grated ~ ½ cup
  • ½ tsp chipotle chili powder, or more, if desired (this will be to sprinkle atop your final product. See above for the chipotle chili powder notes. If you are not using chipotle and do not wish to add more heat with cayenne, you can also sprinkle the top with sweet paprika, which adds a lovely color and some flavor without added heat.)

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350˚ F.
  2. Set a large pot of water on high heat.
  3. Meanwhile, begin the sauce by making a roux: in a medium saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour. Continue to stir this roux over medium heat for two to three minutes. The roux should be “cooked” and free of the flour flavor but still light in color.
  4. Gradually add milk, whisking briskly to maintain a smooth sauce.
  5. Cook the sauce for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid scorching. When sauce thickens slightly, turn heat to very low.
  6. If you have a moment, place the salt, garlic powder, and chili powder together in a mortar and pestle and grind them together to coax additional flavor from the spice and to coat the salt with the spice’s flavor. You could also use a bowl and the back of a spoon for this.
  7. Add cheeses and spice mixture to the sauce, and stir until all the cheese has melted.
  8. Somewhere during this sauce-cooking process, your pasta water has started boiling. Add a generous palmful of salt to the water and cook the pasta until almost—but not quite—al dente (two minutes before the package directions indicate). You want barely undercooked pasta so that it can finish in the oven later. Halt the cooking by draining the pasta and rinsing with cold water. Return pasta to pot.
  9. Pour sauce over pasta and stir until completely incorporated. The combination should be fairly saucy, almost soupy. Dish the mixture into a buttered 9”-13” pan and sprinkle with grated cheeses and chipotle powder.
  10. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes, until you have beautiful, browned edges. Those edges will be a welcome and flavorful addition to each serving. Let the dish sit for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Serve small portions with something raw and fresh; this dish is rich.
Makes 8 small yet decadent servings.
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Chicken Gyros



I wanted something that'd pair pretty well with Tabbouleh and Hummus since I had pita on hand for those. I decided to give this Chicken Gyro recipe a try. I saw this recipe on a couple of blogs: Elly Says Opa and Annie's Eats. I modeled mine after the adaptation posted on Annie's site, but I tweaked hers a little too...recipe is posted below, with my changes.

This was a tasty meal, but to be honest, did take a fair amount of time. The tzatziki sauce needs to sit for 30 mins or longer...You need to marinate the chicken breasts for an hour - but once you do that prep work, the rest comes together quickly! It's a light meal that works well in the summer when you've got some fresh tomatoes you need to work through!

Ingredients:
For the tzatziki sauce:
  • 16 oz. plain yogurt (not nonfat, if possible) - I used greek yogurt Fage
  • 1/2 hothouse cucumber or 1 regular cucumber, peeled and seeded
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, pressed through a garlic press (or finely minced)
  • 1 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  • Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • Extra virgin olive oil

For the chicken:
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp. red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 heaping tbsp. plain yogurt
  • 1 tbsp. dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 1/4 lbs. chicken pieces (I used 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to even thickness)

To assemble:
  • Pita bread
  • Fresh tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • Red onion, sliced thin
  • Iceberg lettuce sliced ultra thin

Directions:
  1. To make the tzatziki sauce, strain the yogurt using cheesecloth over a bowl. Let strain for several hours or overnight, if possible, to remove as much moisture as possible. You won't need to strain greek yogurt, and so you can make this sauce the day of.
  2. Shred the cucumber. Wrap in a towel a squeeze to remove as much water as possible. Mix together the strained yogurt, shredded cucumber, garlic, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, and lemon juice. Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld.
  3. To prepare the chicken, pound to even thickness. Combine the garlic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, yogurt, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste in a medium bowl. Whisk together until mixed well. Add the chicken pieces to the bowl and mix well to coat. Cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour.
  4. Cook the chicken as desired, either in the skillet or with the broiler. I used a cast iron grill pan:
  5. Once the chicken is completely cooked through, transfer to a plate and let rest for 5 minutes. Cut into thin strips.
  6. Heat pitas in foil for 10-15 minutes in a 350 degree oven
  7. Top with chicken, tzatziki sauce, diced tomatoes, super-thin iceberg and sliced onions. Serve immediately.

Source: adapted from Annie's Eats originally seen on Elly Says Opa!
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Ina's Hummus, Take 2


I tried making my own hummus earlier this year, but never managed to find tahini. This time around, I found some but only after searching high and low at Woodmans - a grocery store that carries EVERYTHING. I was about to give up my search at Woodmans when I approached the start of the freezer cases and the end of the dry goods...organic salad dressings and peanut butters to be exact. I walked over towards the guy stocking the shelf to ask if he knew where it was as I glanced down at the bottom shelf at the end of the aisle and there it was. Two tiny jars of tahini. FINALLY.

This recipe (like most hummus recipes) is easy. Put the stuff in a food processor and whirl away. Tweak the lemon and hot pepper seasoning to your taste but be careful to not overdo it! I serve it with pita (untoasted) and veggies. Particularly good with cucumber and tomatoes.

Ina Garten's Hummus Recipe on Foodnetwork.com

Ingredients:
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 cups canned chickpeas, drained, liquid reserved
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste)
  • 6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • 2 tablespoons water or liquid from the chickpeas
  • 8 dashes hot sauce

Directions:
Turn on the food processor fitted with the steel blade and drop the garlic down the feed tube; process until it's minced. Add the rest of the ingredients to the food processor and process until the hummus is coarsely pureed. Taste, for seasoning, and serve chilled or at room temperature.
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Monday, August 3, 2009

Tabbouleh

I was introduced to tabbouleh a few years ago when I was in New York. We had some from the deli of a the Amish Market near my sister-in-law's apartment. I think I inhaled an entire tub myself. Ever since then, I've been on the lookout for a tabbouleh recipe that'd hit the spot like the Amish Market tabbouleh did. I think this recipe is close!

Overall this recipe is pretty simple I love the tang that the lemons add to this recipe. Combined with the cool tomatoes, and surprising flavor of parsley, this little salad is a great partner to light meals or a good 'munch-all-day' snack. I served this tonight with my chicken caesar pitas and some rice pilaf. I plan to also eat it alongside the Gryo's that are planned for tomorrow night thanks to a recipe on Annie's Eats. A tortilla chip is my vehicle of choice for getting this lemony dish to my mouth, but pita bread would be good too.

Next time I plan to soak the bulghur wheat a little longer than the 10 minutes the recipe suggested. 10 minutes left the bulghur a little too crunchy for my taste. However, I imagine that the longer the tabbouleh sits in my fridge all mixed up, the bulgher will continue to soak up the olive oil and lemon juices and become softer.

Here's the recipe on wholeliving.com: Tabbouleh

Or halved below (which makes about 2 cups):
  • 1/2 cup bulghur wheat - You can find this in the bulk food section of the grocery store
  • 2 plum tomatoes, finely chopped, with their juice
  • 1/2 cups plus 6 Tbs finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (about 1 medium bunch) I eyeballed the parsley. You don't want to overdo it!
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • Juice of 1 Lemon
  • 1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon coarse salt (or to taste!)
  • 2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint

Directions
  1. Soak bulghur in cold water 10 minutes. Drain in a sieve lined with damp cheesecloth; squeeze out all water. Transfer to a serving bowl; fluff with a fork.
  2. Stir in tomatoes with juice, parsley, and scallions. Add lemon juice, salt, and oil; season with pepper. Toss to coat. Just before serving, stir in mint.
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Glorious Grilled Chicken


This isn't really a recipe post. I just had to share the photo I shot of the chicken and corn we grilled. See that smoke wafting off that deliciously charred chicken breast? YUM.

The key to the best BBQ chicken is using bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts. Start with a dry rub if you've got it. Then lightly baste in your favorite BBQ sauce (I prefer Stubb's or Sweet Baby Ray's). Continue basting - I usually go 3 or 4 times - 'til cooked through. It takes somet time, so be patient, it's worth it.

And the corn was the best we've ever had. Juicy, giant kernels that popped right off the cob with just a light bite. Trick to these were shucking the corn, wrapping in foil along with a pat of butter, and putting on indirect heat. The indirect heat part is important. We tried grilling foil-wrapped corn on direct heat a few days later and ended up with over-cooked/charred corn. Not so good. I'm not sure I can ever cook corn on the cob on the stove again! Grilling is the way to go.
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Monday, July 6, 2009

Ina's Outrageous Brownies

Ina wasn't kidding. These really are OUTRAGEOUS! Wow. One bite of these brownies and you will be hopped up on enough chocolate to last 3 days. These brownies are seriously incredible. I've heard a lot about these brownies, and this recipe has been staring me in the face in one of Ina's cookbooks that I own. So, the Fourth of July BBQ I went to this weekend was the perfect opportunity to test out a recipe that would yield a LOT of servings. I'd say this makes far more than the 20 servings Ina's cookbook declares. These brownies are just so rich that the serving sizes really need to be smaller than what Ina cuts them to, and therefore will yield more than 20 brownies.

First, when you read the ingredient list you'll notice a pound of butter. Then, you'll notice that this recipe calls for OVER two pounds of chocolate. TWO POUNDS! But, man, it was fun having all that chocolate in my pantry. I have to admit, I was excited - really excited - to be trying this recipe. So excited that, when I started melting the butter and chocolate, I didn't approach it properly. I was so anxious to start that I just dumped the chocolate in the bowl, then just plopped the four sticks of butter right on top of the chocolate. If I did it again, I'd start by melting the butter a quarter of the way or so, THEN add the chocolate. My method this first go around made melting the butter/chocolate a little more tedious and long. At any rate, melting the chocolate is probably the trickiest part of the prep - you don't want to overheat the chocolate, and don't let any water/steam from the double boiler get into the chocolate. The rest of the recipe came together easily. And, the instant coffee nicely rounds out the flavors of the chocolate. It is essential.

I made this in a large 9x13 pyrex AND an 8x8 pyrex. They ended up being a little thicker than what would come out of the pan Ina recommended, so they took a little longer to bake. I was quite concerned about over cooking them, so I pulled them out probably a little earlier than I needed too. However I did notice that the brownies in the smaller pan were a little more done than the large pan, and as a result, were a bit more crumbly. Definitely do not overbake, and definitely refrigerate. GO MAKE THESE BROWNIES!

Here's Ina's recipe on Food Network, and can be seen in her cookbook, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

Enjoy!
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Mandarin Chicken Salad


I went to lunch at the Great Dane several weeks ago and tried a salad I have been eyeballing forever. And wow, what took me so long?? The salad had grilled chicken, fried wonton noodles, tomatoes, mandarin oranges, sweet peas, and a healthy dose of salad greens. So, craving the salad just a day later, I decided to attempt to re-create it at home!

This salad was SO tasty, and hit the spot on a very hot day, and came together in a snap. Ingredients are easy to come by and pretty inexpensive too. Definitely add this as one of your weeknight meals this summer!

Ingredients for 2-3 entree sized salads:

  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • Teriyaki Sauce
  • Iceberg lettuce or mixed greens
  • Snap peas (I had them from the farmers market)
  • 2-3 green onions, cut on an angle
  • 1/2 carrot, diced
  • Mandarin oranges (the small can), drained
  • 1/4 c. Chow mein noodles (I used La Choy because they were easy to find)
  • Handful of sliced almonds
  • Your favorite asian-inspired dressing. I used Makoto Ginger Dressing, and also like Kraft's Toasted Sesame dressing


Directions:

  1. The night before, marinate chicken in Teriyaki sauce
  2. The day of, heat a grill or grill pan on medium high heat. Grill chicken until cooked through, cool, then slice chicken at an angle
  3. Toss lettuce, peas, onions, carrots, oranges, chow mein noodles, almonds
  4. Portion into plates, top each salad with with chicken, add dressing on salad - just enough to lightly coat the salad. Serve immediately!

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Basic Pasta Salad

I love pasta salad. I find it a good way to legitemately ingest carbs in the form of pasta, which is one of my favorite foods of all time. I decided to give this a whirl because I had most of the ingredients on hand, and needed a quick-prep side dish to bring to a Fourth of July BBQ. It's super simple if you like a basic, tasty pasta salad for a potluck. It won't offend many picky palates, and is so quick to pull together with ingredients you probably have.

However, I think that in general, pasta salad could become a very versatile side dish; switch up the dressing with pesto, use a different noodle shape, incorporate different veggies, meats, and cheeses. You could easily turn an italian pasta salad into a greek pasta salad by using greek dressing, tomatoes, cucumbers, feta & black olives, garnishing with pita bread!

Ingredients:
1 bag of wacky mac pasta
1/2 cucumber, peeled & diced
1/4 red pepper, diced
1/4 green pepper, diced
1/2 green onion, small diced
1/3 carrot, shaved into coins with a veggie peeler
4-5 slices of Salami (I used Oscar Mayer Deli Shaved Beef Salami), sliced into 1/2 inch strips
8-10 small pepperoni slices (I used Oscar Mayer Pepperoni), quartered
2-4 ounces of fresh mozzarella, diced
Couple handfulls of parmesan cheese
1/2 - 1 cup italian dressing (I used Kraft Zesty Italian). I found I ended up using about a cup to get everything nicely covered.


Directions:
Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain & let cool.
Add veggies, meats, cheeses and dressing to the cooled pasta. Toss to combine.
Chill in the refrigerator until needed - this is a great item to make the night before you need it!
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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Fresh Tomato Jalapeno Salsa

A few years ago my husband and I went to Puerto Vallarta with his family. At the resort we visited all of us became incredibly addicted to a fresh salsa they served...essentially tomatoes, onions, jalapeno and lime juice. How could you go wrong with something like that??
Ever since we visited that resort, we have attempted to re-create the salsa at home and this recipes is quite good!

You can control the spice by using a serrano instead of jalapeno for a hotter salsa. Or, use the white membrane and seeds from the jalapeno to make a spicier version as well. I think that roma tomatoes make for the best tomatoes for this because they tend to be a bit drier than vine. And of course, you can go with a larger dice to emulate a pico de gallo.

Ingredients to make approximately 1 cup:
  • 2 large roma tomatoes, small dice
  • 1 medium jalapeno, small dice
  • 1/4 white onion, small dice
  • Juice of 1/2 to 1 lime (to taste)
  • Pinch of kosher salt (to taste)
  • Optional ingredients: Cilantro, Garlic

Directions
  1. Finely dice tomatoes, jalapeno, onion. Place in a bowl and squeeze lime over the tomato mixture.
  2. Add pinch of kosher salt and taste to make sure there's enough lime and salt.
  3. Eat right away or let marinate to blend flavors more
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Chicken Cheddar Chowder


My husband and I celebrated the sale of our house last weekend at our favorite steakhouse, Delmonico's. On the menu that night was a Corn Chowder that was mighty tasty. One taste of that soup and I was craving a corn-y, creamy soup all week long. This recipe sounded perfect to satisfy my craving and be filling enough as a stand-alone dish. I found the recipe on myrecipes.com. It's actually a Cooking Light recipe but the creaminess and smoky flavor certainly don't lead you to believe that it's also a lower-calorie soup (only 306 in 1.5 cups).

The recipe came together easily with ingredients I had on hand. I did make a couple of modifications. First - I halved the recipe since it's just the two of us. Halving the recipe meant that I should have started by frying only one piece of bacon, but because I used center cut bacon (which has less fat than regular) I kept the number of strips fried at two. The only other changes I made were to use one chicken breast, yukon gold potatoes instead of red, and several dashes of hot red pepper flakes at the end.

The result was a slightly smoky, relatively creamy (yet still light on the tummy), and satisfying soup. The chicken was tender, the corn had the right amount of sweetness, and is definitely something I would make again.

Here's the recipe on myrecipes.com: Chicken Cheddar Chowder

Here's the recipe for a halved, modified version:
Ingredients
  • 2 bacon slices (if using center cut, 1 if using regular)
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 1/4 cups fat-free chicken broth
  • 1 cup diced peeled red potatoes
  • 1 1/4 cups frozen whole-kernel corn
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 cups 2% low-fat milk
  • 1/2 cup (3 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • Dashes of red pepper

Preparation
  1. Cook bacon in a Dutch oven coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan. Crumble; set aside.
  2. Add chicken, onion, bell pepper, and garlic to bacon fat in pan; sauté 5 minutes.
  3. Add broth and potatoes; bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
  4. Add corn; stir well.
  5. Place flour in a bowl. Gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk until blended; add to soup.
  6. Cook over medium heat 15 minutes or until thick, stirring frequently.
  7. Stir in cheese, salt, and pepper(s). Top with crumbled bacon.
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