Recent Recipes

Nunkin's Potato Leek Soup

Comments (0) | Thursday, February 25, 2010

Leeks are new territory for me. I had never had one until one of my shopping trips to Trader Joe's in Minneapolis. TJ's sells pre-cut leeks in packages of two. I thought, why not? I brought a package home to Iowa, and then panicked. The logical thing to do when one panics is, of course, to turn to Twitter. I believe my tweet looked something like this:
"What do I use these leeks for? Should I saute them with my gnocchi? What do I do?!"
Luckily, one of my friends directed me in the direction of Nunkin and her potato leek soup. I asked her for her recipe and she kindly obliged.
I promptly made the soup and it was awesome, much like Nunkin herself. I really cannot say enough nice, glowing things about her, particularly since she is letting me post her recipe here.
Without further ado, here is Nunkin's Potato Leek Soup, as copied and pasted from the original message.
"2-ish T butter
3 leeks, white/light green parts chopped (fairly fine slice)
1 small white onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
2-3 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 shallot, chopped (not really necessary, but I have fun shoving onions in this soup)
4 or so red potatoes, peeled (if you feel like it) and diced
4-ish cups veggie broth
roughly 1/3 to 1/2 c heavy cream
some herbs if you feel like it (I like dill or chives or both if I have any on hand)
BACON, cooked and chopped

In dutch oven or large sewp-making pot or whatever, drop the butter in and let it melt. When the butter has gotten all nice and melty, drop in the leeks and let them cook for a minute or two until they soften. Add the garlic, onion, carrot, celery and shallot, stir it around and let
it hang out for about 5 or so minutes so that all those veggies start to soften and start smelling yummy. Then dump in the potatoes and the veggie broth (and any extra water you might need to make the broth level just cover the potatoes) and any dry herbs you might want to use. Bring it to a boil, drop the heat and let it hang out on the stove for about 45 minutes - an hour or so until everything is nice and soft and falling apart.
When it's hit that stage, remove it from the heat, dump in any fresh herbs you might want to dump in (chives are awesome) and let it cool for a few minutes,
and then blend it either in batches through a blender or with an immersion blender or what have you (you could probably mush it to bits with a potato masher,
honestly). When it's all blended, stir in the cream and adjust the seasonings. I usually serve with a handful of bacon and a handful of cheebs thrown on top, but you could probably mix that in too and it would be good."

I've been tossing in cheese with the cream, and then serving more on top. The more cheese, the merrier.

I have to say that this is some of the tastiest soup I've ever had. It's also relatively filling, which is good because I would be liable to eat the entire pot's worth if it wasn't.

Read More......

Easy Chicken Enchiladas

Comments (0) | Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Last week was a lazy week for cooking. I honestly don't even remember what I had for dinner last week. I think it's because I was so geared up for my hoity toity dinner with my boyfriend in Minneapolis.
Andrew and I didn't see each other on Valentine's Day, and his birthday was on the 19th, so we decided to do this past weekend instead. He booked us a reservation at Porter and Frye's, which is a small fancy place in the Hotel Ivy.
I won't bore you with our dinner details, but I will say that everything was excellent and it was really fun to go somewhere like that when we normally wouldn't. I mean, the dessert was plated like something from Iron Chef. You just don't see that at the local burger joint.

Anyway, it was time to head back to the kitchen. Tuesday at work I was wracking my brain, trying to come up with something to eat that wasn't spaghetti. Then it dawned on me: Chicken Enchiladas. Chicken Enchiladas are high on my list of favorite foods. In fact, my mom makes me enchiladas pretty frequently when I visit because I love them so much. Mom's enchiladas are the best, of course. I hope she doesn't get too offended that this isn't her recipe. Someday I'll make Mom's enchiladas, but it's just never the same, you know?
Apologies that this picture isn't better. I'm experimenting with my food photography.
Here is what went down:

4 tortillas
4 oz cream cheese (or lite cream cheese)
1/4 c. salsa
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 c. cooked chicken, chopped
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 c. shredded colby jack cheese

Grease a baking dish and preheat the oven to 350F. In a small sauce pan, melt the cream cheese and salsa together. Once the mixture is more or less homogeneous, toss in the garlic, chicken, and spices. Stir together and heat through.
Spread about a fourth of the mixture on a tortilla. Roll up the tortilla and filling, then place in the baking dish, seam side down. Repeat with the rest of the tortillas.
Sprinkle the enchiladas with cheese. Bake for about 20 minutes.

Mom does get credit for this recipe, as it was her homemade salsa I put in my enchiladas. Mmmm.
These enchiladas, while not as good as Mom's, were still pretty good and very easy. I got a little over enthusiastic with the filling and ended up with only three enchiladas instead of four. One of these days I'll post Mom's recipe, but for now these will do.

Read More......

Look What I Made!

Comments (1) | Monday, February 15, 2010

Cinnamon Roll Sugar Cookies. Recipe here.

Only half of them are iced because I didn't properly follow the instructions and therefore failed to cream the cream cheese before mixing with the milk and sugar. As a result, I have lumpy icing that tastes great, even if it looks weird.

Read More......

Hot Wing Pizza

Comments (2) | Saturday, February 13, 2010

I feel the same way about pizza as I do about soup. Just as you can make soup out of anything, you can make anything into a pizza.

Gauging from that, you can bet I'm not at all a traditionalist when it comes to pizza. I'm always mixing it up. I use different sauces and whatever toppings I have lying around, and the results are usually tasty because I have complete control over them (mwahaha).

Last week, though I didn't post about it, I made an Indian-Inspired Pizza from Booking and Cooking. The pizza was very, very tasty, and was an excellent example of taking foods you love (in this case, Indian curry) and making them into pizza.

My hot wing pizza recipe came about when I was a junior in college, and therefore is not the world's healthiest thing by any means. I was surfing the Internet one night and trying to decide what to have for dinner. One of the cooking sites was featuring a buffalo chicken pizza, but the ingredients or the process didn't look that great to me. I decided I could do it better, fasted, and tastier with just the ingredients in my fridge. And so I did.

1 personal sized pizza crust
1 Tbsp. ranch dressing (I make my own, but use whatever you like. You can also use blue cheese dressing, if that's your thing).
2 chicken strips, cooked and cut into pieces
2 tsp. Frank's Red Hot Sauce (you can use a different hot sauce if you really want to, but I recommend Frank's).

Cook the chicken strips and cut them into chunks. Toss with the hot sauce.
Spread the ranch all over the pizza crust. I usually do a thin layer of cheese, then the chicken, then more cheese, but feel free to top the pizza however you like.

Tonight, for cheese, I uses Gruyere, Fontina, and mild cheddar. Happy Pre-Valentine's to me!

You can easily expand this pizza to full sized. I would just adjust the ingredient amounts accordingly.

Read More......

Curry Ginger Chicken Noodle Soup

Comments (0) | Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I thought I was doing really well this winter. I started taking vitamins that were chock full of vitamin C. I was giving those vitamins the credit for my wellness this year. I had a sore throat for about five minutes in January, but now I'm getting a full blown cold. Curses.
Desperate times call for chicken noodle soup. It's the end all be all of cure-alls. Therefore, I decided to go for it for tonight's dinner.
I clicked through a few recipes, but nothing quite grabbed me. I decided to wing it.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, you can make soup out of anything. Armed with this adage, I took to my kitchen.

There were a couple factors in play. I decided I wanted to do curry-ginger as the flavor background, because curry has the heat to clear my sinuses and ginger is very good for you. I also had a rotisserie chicken that I had purchased as an experiment for the purposes of shredding the meat (remember my bone-in chicken phobia)? Lastly, I had vegetables in my fridge that were begging me to use them.

I started with a mirepoix. For those of you who don't spend your time watching way too much Food Network, a mirepoix is a mix of celery, carrot, and onion. My begging vegetables in question just happened to be baby carrots and half a white onion. I gave each ingredient a rough chop with some garlic.

After the mirepoix, I shredded some of the breast and leg meat from the chicken. I think I ended up with about a cup. I gave that a rough chop as well.

In my soup pot, I heated up a couple Tbsp. olive oil. Once that was sufficiently hot, I tossed in the mirepoix and garlic.

I let that hang out for about five minutes, then added the curry powder. The great thing about curry powder is that there is a million different varieties. Curry does not always mean hot. There are plenty of curries out there that are mild and somewhat sweet which are just as flavorful as hot curries. If heat is not your thing, I suggest a Garam Masala or a mild yellow curry powder. I like heat, so I go for a medium intensity red curry powder. My curry of choice is always Penzeys Rogan Josh.

After the curry powder was all incorporated, I tossed in the chicken. I gave everything a good stir, then added the chicken stock. At this point I seasoned the soup with ginger, ground pepper, salt, and some cayenne pepper. I brought it to a boil, them reduced the heat to low and let it simmer for about 40 minutes. At that point I tossed in some uncooked, broken spaghetti noodles. I broke them into about 2" pieces. I let the soup go for another ten minutes or so before I decided it was ready to serve.

Remembering that I just eyeballed everything, here are the estimations for the recipe:

1 cup mirepoix
5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup cooked chicken, roughly chopped
3 Tbsp curry powder
4-5 cups chicken stock
1 Tbsp ginger
Salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper, to taste
1 cup of uncooked noodles

Once everything is chopped, heat up a few Tbsp. olive oil in a soup pot. Cook the mirepoix and garlic for a few minutes to soften, then add the curry powder. Stir well. Add the chicken and chicken stock. Season with salt, pepper, and spices. Bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer for about 40 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Add the noodles and simmer for an additional ten minutes or until the noodles are cooked. Eat. Feel less sick.

As always you can augment this anyway you want. Are you a more broth or less broth person? Do you prefer more vegetables or more chicken? However you want to make it is how you should make it. I think that's how people really learn to cook-by taking recipes and making them their own.

Read More......

Gnocchi with Garlic Herb Butter and Brie

Comments (3) | Sunday, February 7, 2010

One of the defining factors of AmeriCorps VISTA is that each VISTA lives at the poverty level. We don't receive a salary, we receive a living allowance. When I was first hired, we went to a meeting with all the pre-existing VISTAs, who told us all about their years and the things they did to get by. One of the recommendations was the food assistance program, referred to as EBT or food stamps. Since we live at the poverty level, we qualify.

I decided to sign up. I wish I could say I had an honorable reason, like I wanted to know the trials and tribulations people and poverty are faced with. Honestly, though, I was just pumped about food. I love food. I love cooking. I knew that I was not going to be able to afford much in the way of food. Therefore, I went for it and signed up for EBT.

The process was really pretty simple. I applied online, and then I received a phone call to schedule my interview. I went to my local Department of Human Services Office early one morning and met with my case worker. I showed her my pay stubs from my pre-VISTA job and my job description of my VISTA year. Just like that, I qualified. She gave me some information about what kinds of things you can buy and what you can't (alcohol, paper products, ready to eat food, etc). I had my card about a week later, and suddenly the goverment was paying for my groceries.

I love the food assistance program. I am so glad it exists. I can't imagine trying to budget this year without it. I don't have to worry about food at all, I receive more than enough food assistance money each month in my EBT card to buy all the groceries I need and then some.

There are definite fun benefits to having an EBT card as well. For example, EBT cards are accepted in all 50 states. If you're on vacation and you want to buy something from the local grocery store, you totally can depending on the store. I visit my boyfriend in Minneapolis a few time a month. To my complete delight, Trader Joe's and Whole Foods both except EBT. Therefore, poor Andrew gets dragged along while I buy ridiculous and tasty things.

Hence, this gnocchi. I had never had gnocchi before in my entire life. I had definitely never seen it in a grocery store. Therefore, I had to pick some up when I saw this at Trader Joe's. Here is how it went down:
About 1 cup of potato gnocchi
3 Tbsp butter
2 frozen garlic cubes (another crazy TJs find!) or two cloves of garlic, minced
About a Tbsp of Italian herbs (I used Penzeys Bouquet Garni)
Two cut up green onions
About an 8th of a wheel of brie cheese

Boil some water based on the gnocchi package directions. Salt the water, then plop in the gnocchi. Let them cook for about 2 minutes after they start floating, then drain. In the mean time, melt the butter in a saute pan. Drop in the garlic, herbs, and green onions. Let them cook down a little until your kitchen smells totally awesome and the green onions have softened. Then, add the gnocchi to the pan and saute for a few minutes. Add in the brie and let it melt a little. I didn't leave the brie on the heat very long. Instead, I let it melt by stirring it when it was in the serving bowl.

There you are! Decadent, rich gnocchi and garlic and green onions and brie. NOMS.

Read More......

In which I wax poetic about The Pioneer Woman

Comments (0) | Tuesday, February 2, 2010

I made The Pioneer Woman's Mac and Cheese the other night. It looked like this:
Oh. My. Genoa. That there is a sea, a sea of cheese.

I think about The Pioneer Woman a lot when I think about food blogging. The woman is clearly brilliant. Her step by step pictures and descriptions are funny and educational. I mean, this woman taught me how to make a roux for crying out loud. A roux. The last time I tried to make a roux, I burned it to the bottom of the pan and then put the flour holder on the still hot burner and melted the bottom off of it. (I'm still really sorry about that, Mom).

I don't know how she manages to make such delicious looking things AND take step by step pictures. I tried step by step pictures once (see: Spicy Sesame Chicken), and while I think it looked pretty nice on the blog, it was not a complete set. I kept forgetting to take a picture after everything I did. Ultimately, I didn't even post all of the pictures I took because I thought it might be too distracting. I mean, does my audience need to see my 70s green Rubbermaid measuring cups filled with chopped onion and garlic? It doesn't seem useful. And yet, I never feel that way when I'm perusing PW's recipes. She manages to make her photos as instructional as her narrative.

Her recipes all seem so homey, too. I mean, I get the vibe from PW that she may be a bit of a food snob (and really, if you keep a food blog you probably are on some level). Yet she's using ingredients that I can usually find at my local grocery store in Iowa. That, my friends, is a feat. Grocery stores here are pretty basic. I went searching for a can of light cocout milk a few weeks ago and came up empty handed. I ended up using straight up coconut milk, which has about a million calories. I don't think light coconut milk would be so hard to find, but then again I thought the same thing about pumpkin and look where that led me.

Anyway, The Pioneer Woman is kind of the end all, be all of food blogs. Maybe this is overly lofty (and I did just watch Julie & Julia), but I think PW is the Julia Child of the internet generation. I mean, I love me some Food Network. But I have never learned as much from Food Network as I have from PW's blog. I think that's relatively common, too. I can pretty much guarantee you that if a person is running a food blog, said person is reading or has read The Pioneer Woman Cooks.

So thank you, PW. Thank you for your witty, useful recipes. Thank you for inspiring people from the internet generation to get out there and cook something. And, most of all, thank you for teaching me how to make a roux. I hope I will never burn another flour container again.

Read More......

Bacon Wrapped Chicken

Comments (1) | Monday, February 1, 2010

The internet is full of writers. Poets, novelist, writers of short stories, and writers of conversation. And all of those writers have, at one point or another, declared their overwhelming love of bacon. It's been done. Almost everyone loves bacon. It's hard not to. It's crunchy, salty, and a bit sweet. It's perfect alone and in addition to other things people love (burgers, salads, peanut butter, etc).

Allow me to show you something simple and excellent.

This is all you need. A little olive oil, some boneless skinless chicken breasts, and bacon. I used pepper bacon, because I was feeling it. Feel free to use whatever bacon you want. It's bacon. Thought I imagine maple bacon would be quite good as well.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a baking dish. I used a Pyrex pie plate.
Rub the chicken with a little olive oil, then wrap strips of bacon around the chicken. Secure with toothpicks.

I admit, I am bad at keeping an eye on the clock. I think I let this go for about an hour. Just keep an eye on it. You want the bacon to crisp up and the chicken to cook through.

When you pull it out, it'll look something like this:
That's all there is to it. The chicken will be tender and flavorful, and you get bacon. I served a little fettuccine with goat cheese on the side, and I was soooo full.

I still have pepper bacon, so be prepared for it to make another appearance.

Read More......