Sizzling Shrimp Santorini

I found this recipe on the Cooking Channels Greek episode and it turned out as good as it looked on TV- plus it was super easy. I choose to make mine in a cast iron pan from start to finish since the pan can go straight into the oven. This dish made enough for dinner for two or three and would even make a great appetizer. If you can, try to buy a jar of Greek seasoning instead of separately buying all the spices below.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon Greek Seasoning, recipe follows
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 5 medium tomatoes, blanched, peeled and chopped
  • Sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 8 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 5 ounces Greek feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives
  •  Thick-crusted bread, for serving

Greek Seasoning:

  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook until nearly translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the Greek Seasoning, oregano and tomatoes, and season with sea salt. Simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 15 minutes. Stir in the parsley and shrimp.

Transfer the shrimp mixture to a small baking dish (I kept mine in the cast iron pan). Top with the feta. Bake until the shrimp are cooked through, about 25 minutes. Add more Greek Seasoning and sea salt if desired. Garnish with the olives. Serve hot, with the crusty bread for dipping.

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St. Patrick’s Day Corned Beef and Cabbage

As far as I can remember back, I’ve loved corned beef and cabbage (I must have been an odd kid). Being Irish, my mom would make it every St. Patrick’s day and grew up eating it with French’s mustard on the side. Then after college, my friend Steve McShane introduced me to a recipe his dad had been making for years- similar to my mom’s except with a horseradish cream sauce. Steve’s dad, Tom, made the McShane family recipe at Steve’s St. Patrick’s Day birthday party for over 100 people. I have no idea how many pounds of corned beef and potatoes he cooked, but it was delicious. Below is a combination of my two favorite recipes.

 Ingredients

  • 3 pounds corned beef brisket with spice packet
  • 10 small red potatoes, cut in quarters
  • 5 carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 1 large head cabbage, cut into small wedges
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • Chicken broth or water

Sauce:

  • 1 cup mayo
  • 1/3 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup of horseradish
  • 1/2 cup cream

Mix all together and set aside.

Directions

  1. Place corned beef in a large pot or Dutch oven and cover with chicken broth. Add the spice packet that came with the corned beef. Cover pot and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer approximately 50 minutes per pound or until tender. Remove meat and let rest 15 minutes.
  2. In the same pot, bring water to a boil, add potatoes and carrots and cook until almost tender. Add cabbage and cook for about another 5 minutes.
  3. Place meat back in pot and add sauce to taste. Serve remaining sauce on the side along with mustard.

Enjoy!

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Sweet Tart Shell

Makes enough for one 9-inch tart crust

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons; 4 1/2 ounces) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg

Pulse the flour, sugar and salt together in the bowl of a food processor. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in. (You’re looking for some pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas.) Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses–about 10 seconds each–until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing. Chill the dough, wrapped in plastic, for about 2 hours before rolling.

To roll the dough: Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Roll out chilled dough on floured sheet of parchment paper to 12-inch round, lifting and turning dough occasionally to free from paper. Using paper as aid, turn dough into 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom; peel off paper. Seal any cracks in dough. Trim overhang to 1/2 inch. Fold overhang in, making double-thick sides. Pierce crust all over with fork.

Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.

To fully or partially bake the crust: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil (or use nonstick foil) and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. And here is the very best part: Since you froze the crust, you can bake it without weights. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 20 to 25 minutes.

Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. Bake the crust about 10 minutes longer to fully bake it, or until it is firm and golden brown, brown being the important word: a pale crust doesn’t have a lot of flavor. (To partially bake it, only an additional 5 minutes is needed.) Transfer the pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature, and proceed with the rest of your recipe.

Recipe courtesy of SmittenKitchen

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Paella

“I’ve always wanted a paella pan and my sister gave me one for Christmas (yea!). This was my first time using it and the recipe I choose for its virgin flight was from Cooks Illustrated; one of the only magazines I read cover to cover each month. Overall I was really happy with the way the recipe came out but there were a few things I’d do differently:

  1. Use bone in skinless thighs (rather than boneless) because the flavor was amazing
  2. I purchased mussels from a local Chinese grocery store that were frozen on the half shell. They cost about $6.00 for 2 pounds and all the cleaning was done.
  3. I kept the paella left overs in the pan and covered them in the fridge. I would not do this next time because when I went to wash the pan 2 days later it had oxidized.

What I noticed about this recipe is that everything was prepped in a Dutch oven and then transferred to the paella pan at the end. There were a lot of steps however assembling it at the end in the paella pan makes it worth it. Definitely a fun recipe when you are entertaining. Serve with some sangria and you’ve got a dinner party to remember.”

 Ingredients

  • 1 pound extra-large shrimp (21/25), peeled and deveined
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 8-9 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 pound bone-in, skinless chicken thighs, each thigh trimmed of excess fat
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut pole to pole into 1/2-inch-wide strips
  • 8 ounces Spanish chorizo, sliced 1/2 inch thick on the bias
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine (about 1 cup)
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained, minced, and drained again
  • 2 cups Valencia rice or Arborio
  • 3 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
  • 1 dozen frozen mussels
  • 1/2 cup frozen green peas, thawed
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges, for serving

Directions

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Toss shrimp, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1 tablespoon oil, and 1 teaspoon garlic in medium bowl; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper; set aside.

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, until skin begins to blister and turn spotty black, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer peppers to small plate and set aside.

Add 1 teaspoon oil to now-empty Dutch oven; heat oil until shimmering but not smoking. Add chicken pieces in single layer; cook, without moving pieces, until browned, about 3 minutes. Turn pieces and brown on second side, about 3 minutes longer; transfer chicken to medium bowl. Reduce heat to medium and add chorizo to pot; cook, stirring frequently, until deeply browned and fat begins to render, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer chorizo to bowl with chicken and set aside.

Add enough oil to fat in Dutch oven to equal 2 tablespoons; heat over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 3 minutes; stir in remaining garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes; cook until mixture begins to darken and thicken slightly, about 3 minutes. Stir in rice and cook until grains are well coated with tomato mixture, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in chicken broth, wine, saffron, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Return chicken and chorizo to pot, increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally.

Transfer rice mixture to paella pan and cover tightly with foil. Cook until rice absorbs almost all liquid, about 15 minutes. Remove pan from oven (close oven door to retain heat). Uncover pan; scatter shrimp over rice, insert mussel halves down into rice (so they stand upright), arrange bell pepper strips in pinwheel pattern, and scatter peas over top. Cover tightly and return to oven; cook until shrimp are opaque and mussels are no longer frozen, 10 to 12 minutes.

Let paella stand, covered, about 5 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle with parsley and serve, passing lemon wedges separately.

 

 

 

 

 

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Chicken Tamales with Salsa Verde

Makes approx. 100 yummy tamales

Having grown up in San Diego, I’ve been spoiled with amazing Mexican food and I’ve always wanted to learn how to make traditional recipes. To my delight, our family friends, who grew up in Mexico, were nice enough to invite my mom and me over at 6am (which explains why I look like I just woke up in the photos below!) to be part of their holiday tamale making tradition.

Salsa Verde

10 cloves garlic, peeled
1 white onion roughly chopped
3 lbs. tomatillos, skins removed
1 lb. jalapenos*
1 teaspoon cumin
Salt

Add tomatillos to a pot, cover with water and simmer over medium high heat for 1 hour. Remove from heat and drain water. At the same time, in a separate pot, simmer jalapenos in water over medium high heat for 1 hour. Remove and drain jalapenos from water and cut off the stems.

Working in batches, blend the tomatillos, jalapenos, garlic and onion in a blender. Pour into large pot on stove, stir in cumin and salt and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. Voila! You have amazing homemade salsa Verde you can impress your friends with. (This can be made the night before.)

*Note about spiciness. This salsa packs a punch, but once it’s added inside the tamales, it mellow out. If you handle spicy well, you will love this. If you like things milder here are a few variations.

Medium-hot: Reduce jalapenos to a half pound (or less). Make recipe as directed.

Mild: Before cooking the jalapenos, remove all stems, seeds, and white ribs. Simmer as directed above. Once the seeds and white ribs are removed, jalapenos taste similar to smoky green peppers. (Wear plastic gloves if your hands are sensitive, and do not touch your eyes or other delicate parts of your body until you wash your hands well.)

Tamales

1 bag of corn husks
10 lbs. chicken thighs and breasts with skin and bones
1 medium onion, halved
8 whole cloves garlic, peeled
15 lbs. of Masa
Chicken broth, reserved from cooking chicken
Salt, about ½ cup

Prepare the corn husks: Soak the husks in warm water for 2 hours. Weight down with another bowl to keep them submerged. Be careful not to tear them as you pull them apart as they soften. Once the husks are pliable, stand them straight up so that the excess water drains.

Prepare the chicken:

Add the onion and garlic to a large pot of water. Bring to a boil and add thighs and breasts (with skin on). Boil for about an hour. Transfer cooked chicken to a plate to cool. Save chicken broth.

When chicken is cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones and pull apart into small bite size pieces with your fingers. Transfer to a medium bowl. (This can be done the night before.)

Prepare the Masa: If you are lucky enough, you will be able to find prepared Masa at a local Mexican grocery store. Betty took us to a Mexican market in National City where they had an entire section of the store for preparing Masa. I highly recommend visiting a Mexican market. In general I find the prices to be much lower than an American grocery store and you can buy homemade guacamole and salsa by the gallon. Oh and don’t forget the homemade tortilla chips that are addicting.

Tamale Masa is different from other Masa because oil has been added to the Masa. Even though the Masa has been prepared by trained professionals (and thank goodness, because Betty described what it was like making it in Mexico as a kid– what a process!), it still needs to be worked to bring it to the right consistency.

Place the Masa in a large pot. Add 6-8 cups, one cup at a time, of the reserved chicken broth. Mix with a large stick (or paddle) being careful to only stir in ONE direction; mixing in one direction will insure that the tamales do not break apart once they are cooked. Keep mixing until you start to see air pockets forming. Add more chicken broth and salt as needed. The final consistency should be close to peanut butter. This process took us about 20 minutes. Betty said that her husband can do it in about 10 minutes. Just depends how strong and fast you are.

Preparing the tamales: Place the rough side of the corn husk in your palm (the smooth side will be facing up). Spread about 1/4 cup of the Masa in a circular pattern on the lower half of the corn husk. Place a few pieces of chicken down the center, and spoon salsa Verde over chicken. Wrap tamale as shown below, being sure to tuck the bottom of the husk UNDER to keep it closed. Stack tamales with open side up.

Cooking the tamales: Fill the bottom of the tamale steamer with water up to, but not touching, the bottom of the grill. Layer remaining corn husks on the bottom and up side. Carefully place the tamales standing up in the pot. When one layer is complete, angle the tamales and begin another layer being sure to leave room for the steam to escape. Place a layer of corn husks over the top and a damp dish cloth. Tightly wrap with foil to trap the steam inside (Betty did not use the lid; she said the foil did a better job trapping the steam). Bring water to a boil; reduce heat to medium and steam for 3 hours until Masa is firm (open a tamale to check at 3 hours, but not before).

Enjoying the tamales: When the Masa is firm, the tamales are ready. Serve the tamales with the extra salsa Verde and invite your friends over!

 

 

 

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Classic Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients

Bread-Crumb Topping

  • 4 slices white sandwich bread (hearty and torn into rough pieces)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (cold and cut into 6 pieces)

Pasta and Cheese

  • 1 lb elbow macaroni
  • table salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed through garlic press
  • 6 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 ¾ cup chicken broth
  • 3 ½ cups whole milk
  • 16 ounces Colby cheese, shredded (about 5 ½ cups)
  • 8 ounces extra  sharp cheddar cheese , shredded (about 2 2/3 cups)
  • Ground black pepper

Directions

You are going to be surprised at how easy it is to make macaroni and cheese from scratch and of course how good it is! There are many variations of this classic recipe but I choose this one from Cooks Illustrated. The science behind cooking fascinates me and Cooks Illustrated does a great job going into depth on why some ingredients work and taste better than others. I’m a huge fan of their monthly magazine and read it cover to cover because it’s full of great recipes and ideas.

Another recipe I’ll post later uses a can of cheese soup. It sounds weird but it’s so good!

For the bread crumbs:

I used sourdough bread slices because I like the tartness of the bread. Pulse bread and butter in food processor until crumbs are no larger than 1/8 inch, ten to fifteen 1-second pulses. Set aside.

For the pasta and cheese:

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat broiler. Because the pasta is already cooked and hot, all you need to do is toast the top so the bread crumbs are golden brown.

Bring 4 quarts water to boil in a large pot over high heat. Add macaroni and 1 tablespoon salt; cook until pasta is tender. Drain pasta and set aside in colander.

In now-empty pot, heat butter over medium-high heat until foaming. Add flour, mustard, and cayenne (if using) and whisk well to combine. You are making a roux which will act as a thickening agent.  Continue whisking until mixture becomes fragrant and deepens in color, about 1 minute. You will need to watch the roux the entire time so that it does not burn. You will know it’s ready when it begins to smell nutty and turns the rich brown color below. Remove immediately from heat to stop the cooking process.

Gradually whisk in milk; put pot back on the burner and bring mixture to boil, whisking constantly (mixture must reach full boil to fully thicken). Reduce heat to medium and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened to consistency of heavy cream, about 5 minutes.

Remove pot from burner and whisk in cheeses and 1 teaspoon salt until cheeses are fully melted. Add in chicken broth and stir to combine.

Add pasta and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is steaming and heated through, about 6 minutes. Since you are not coking the dish in the oven, only browning the top, you want to make sure it’s nice and hot here and that the cheese sauce gets inside the elbow noodles.

Transfer mixture to broiler-safe 9-by 13-inch baking dish and sprinkle evenly with bread crumbs.

Broil until crumbs are deep golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes, rotating pan if necessary for even browning. Cool about 5 minutes, then serve.

Each time I make this recipe, I try to come up with a good side to go with it or a protein to round out the meal. Over the years I’ve given up on this because really, no side dish or protein can stand up to macaroni and cheese. And let’s be honest, when I’m craving this comfort dish, it’s all I want and anything else just gets in the way.

However if you’ve found a good side or protein dish that you like to serve with macaroni and cheese I’d love to hear about it.

Posted in Main Dish, Pasta, Recipes, Side Dishes | 2 Comments

Whole Roasted Herb Chicken

Ingredients

  • 3-4 lb. whole chicken
  • Onion
  • Lemon
  • Herbs (rosemary, sage, thyme)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

If this is your first time cooking a whole chicken, you are in for a surprise! They package a whole bunch of fun things inside the chicken that you may not expect. I think it’s a little  gross and if I could buy a chicken without the extra pieces I would. However, many people like to use the spare parts (such as my Dad!). If you’d like to see the steps in between photos below, scroll to the bottom of the post. Otherwise, I’ll spare the innocent and we can just pretend the bird comes out looking all pretty.

Here is what the chicken looks like after it gets a rinse and is patted dry. I like working with chicken on large baking sheets because it makes clean-up easy.

Now that the chicken is ready to go, it’s time to move on to the herb mixture that will be rubbed onto the outside of the chicken and make the crispy skin.

Coarsely chop the rosemary, sage, and thyme together. Put herbs into a bowl, add salt and pepper and mix well. Slowly mix in olive oil until you have a paste.

Next, let’s get the bird stuffed. My favorite way to peel garlic is with the tool on the left. It’s a flexible rubber garlic peeler that removes the skin when the garlic is pressed and rolled back and forth. (I bought mine at Pampered Chef, but you can find them at any cooking store.)

Chop the onion and lemon so they are the right size to fit in the chicken cavity. You will not be using them later so no need to be exact. Put some of the extra herbs together with kitchen string and form a bouquet that will also go inside the chicken.

Give that bird a good stuffing. If everything does not fit, that’s ok. It’s better to leave a little room than over stuff the bird. I prefer to truss my bird but I don’t follow the proper “trussing” technique. I keep wrapping the string around until all the bits and parts are tied. This keeps the chicken cooking evenly so that the wings and drum sticks are not over done.

Once the chicken is trussed, rub the herb mixture all over being sure to get into all the nooks an crannies. I use a digital thermometer that stays in the bird while cooking and sounds an alarm when it gets to 165 degrees. That’s the best way to check the temperature because you are not opening and closing the oven. A general rule is that you need 15-20 minutes for each pound.

Once it gets to 165 degrees, take the bird out and let it rest for 10-15 minutes so the juices can settle. Transfer to a serving dish and enjoy!

Warning…gross chicken part below

When you unwrap the chicken and peek inside the big cavity (there are actually two!) you will find the liver, neck, and heart. Just pull them out and toss them if you don’t want to cook with them. My Dad loves to boil them and eat them…but he’s from the South so I won’t hold that against him (ha-ha!). Since I mentioned the second cavity, flip the bird over, lift up the skirt and make sure nothing extra was put in the smaller cavity. Give the empty bird cavity a good rinse under the faucet then pat dry inside and outside. You are ready to begin!

 

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Hearty Autumn Chili

What’s better than a warm bowl of homemade chili on a cool autumn day? The only thing I can think of is eating that warm bowl of chili and watching your favorite football team go 16-0 (Go Stanford!). Of course, even without the game the chili is still really great!

I adapted this recipe from one of my favorite sites, Simply Recipes and combined it with a recipe from my mom’s close friend who would make her chili recipe each year for her husband’s birthday…which also happened to be my birthday too! I like a hearty chili so I doubled the beans and added in ground turkey. A few other little changes and voila! The perfect autumn chili for cheering on your favorite team.

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp red chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground oregano
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
  • 3-4 Tbsp water
  • 4 strips bacon
  • One 2 1/2 pound chuck roast, cut into bite sized 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 celery sticks, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño chili peppers, stems removed, seeded, ribs removed, minced
  • 1 28-oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can dark beer
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 14-oz can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 14-oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • Salt
  • Grated cheddar cheese, green onion and sour cream for garnish

Directions

1. In a small bowl mix the chili powder, ground cumin, oregano, thyme, and ground coriander seeds. Mix in water so that chili forms a light paste. Set aside.

The first picture below is the coriander seeds being ground up in a mortar and pestle. These are pretty inexpensive, just make sure to get one that has a heavy base so you can give your seeds, or whatever you are grinding, a firm smashing. It also helps to have deep sides since seeds like to jump out in the process.

2. When making a chili or stew, I like to use the same pot for everything to keep all the flavors together. So I cooked the bacon in my Dutch Oven. It was not ideal, but got the job done.

Remove the bacon and set on a paper towel. (According to the recipe, you are supposed to add the bacon back into the chili at the end. Mine for some reason did not last long enough to be added back in.) Pour the bacon fat into a separate container.

3. Increase heat to medium high, add back in 1 Tablespoon of bacon fat. Working in batches so that you don’t crowd the beef (crowding will steam cook the meat instead of browning it), brown the beef cubes on all sides, lightly salting as you cook the beef. Do not over cook because beef will continue to cook when it’s simmering in the chili. Remove beef from pan, set aside.

4. I did not get a picture of this, but the next step is browning the ground up turkey. Season it with salt and pepper as it cooks. Remove when turkey is no longer pink. Drain off liquid, and set aside with the cooked beef.

5. Add another tablespoon of bacon fat to the pot (at this point, my Dutch Oven was well used and needed a washing before moving onto this step). Add the chopped onions and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, jalapeño, and celery cook until fragrant, 1 minute more. Add the chili paste and cook for 2-3 more minutes.

Side note: be careful chopping the jalapeno. If you remove all the seeds and white ribs, and give it a rinse, you’ve removed most all the spiciness and just have the flavor left. However, do not use your finger to scrap out the ribs as I did (rookie maneuver!) because the oil lingers. It’s apparently hard to get rid of with soap and water and hours later still packs a punch if you rub your eye!

6. Now it’s time to add everything in! Add the beef, ground turkey, 2 cans of tomatoes, kidney beans, pinto beans, beer, water, lime juice and sugar and give it a good stir (feel free to sample it if you like).

Heat the chili on medium high heat until it comes to a simmer. Then reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for a half hour. If you have time, you can uncover a cook for another half hour, keeping the temperature at a place where you can maintain a simmer. I found that even cooking it for just half and hour made a great chili; I could not wait any longer, my house smelled amazing and the game had already started. The longer you cook it, the more intense the flavors become. If the chili becomes too thick, add in some water or more beer.

7. Sprinkle with grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, and green onion. Serve with tortilla chips. Enjoy…as we did below!

 

Serves 4 to 6.

Posted in Beef, Main Dish, Recipes, Soups | 1 Comment

Heirloom Tomato Soup

Ever wonder what to do with all the homegrown tomatoes that show up during the summer? Well grab as many as you can and make a quick tomato soup. This recipe is unique because the tomatoes are roasted which brings out a richer flavor. I highly suggest serving this soup with a cheesy-goodness grilled cheese sandwich.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. heirloom tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 small carrot, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chicken broth (or veggie broth if you don’t do the meat thing)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, optional

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Wash and dry tomatoes. Cut in half and squeeze out seeds and juices into large bowl. Place tomato “shells” on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until caramelized, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, heat remaining olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the celery, carrot, onion and garlic, cook until softened, about 10 minutes. (This is the part where your house will smell amazing. Make sure your dinner guests arrive before this point so you can impress them with your mad cooking skillz.)

Also make sure to throw out the word “mirepoix” (pronounced, meer-pwah). Mirepoix is a term used to describe the photo below; a fancy way to stay carrots, celery, and onion. Traditionally it does not include garlic, but according to the Wiki there are a lot of variations depending on where you live.

Add the roasted caramelized tomatoes and juices from cooking, reserved tomato juices, and chicken broth to the “mirepoix” + garlic mixture. If there are not enough liquids then add more chicken broth. Simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Note: if you prefer a seedless tomato soup as I do, strain the seeds and tomato juices through a strainer and discard the seeds.

My favorite way to chop basil is to place the largest basil leaf on the bottom and stack the rest on top. Then tightly roll together as below, and slice with a sharp knife into thin strips.

Add basil and cream, if using. Puree with a hand held immersion blender until desired consistency. I like my soup a little chunky so I lightly blend my soup.

You can also use a blender, just be careful because hot soup will expand in the blender so never fill it more than 1/2 full.

The soup is ready to go at this point. Serve and enjoy!

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Cake Pops

Ingredients

1 box cake mix (any flavor)
1 tub of store bought icing
50 lollipop sticks
2 bags of candy melts

Bake the cake as directed in a 9×13 in pan and let it cool completely. When it is completely cool, break the cake into a large bowl. Crumble it with forks or your fingers until it is in fine crumbs.

Soften the tub of icing in the microwave by heating it for 20 seconds, stiring, then repeating until it’s soft, but not runny.

Add the softened icing to the cake crumbs in batches until cake holds together. Be careful not to add too much icing because it will cause the cake pops to be mushy.

Refrigerate the cake mixture for an hour until firm or overnight.

Form cake mixture into small balls with your hands and pop a lollipop stick in each one. It’s helpful to dip the lollipop stick in the melted candy melts so it sticks to the pop. When you have a full tray, put them in the freezer to harden.

Once they are hard, dip them in the melted candy melts, place back on tray and allow them to dry.

If you will be displaying the cake pops upside down (as I did above), place the sticks into Styrofoam so that the bottom (soon to be top) of the cake pop is smooth.

 

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