Thursday, March 19, 2015

Ham and Potato Soup

I figured I should share this recipe with you guys before the weather changes. Although, if you live in the Northeast like I do, you may be wondering if it will ever be warm again. They're calling for snow tomorrow, for crying out loud. No thanks. Bring on summer!

Ham and potato soup

I printed off this recipe for Ham and Potato Soup awhile ago and finally decided to make it. When I actually read the recipe (anyone else tend to do that, just read the ingredients and not the directions?) I decided to make some changes. For starters, dirtying two pots to make soup seems wrong. I also like to saute veggies to add that extra layer of flavor.

The result was delicious - thick and rich and creamy. At first I thought the soup would need some other seasoning, like thyme or rosemary, to brighten it up, but this was perfect just with salt and pepper. The leftovers reheated well the next day, too. I'll definitely make this again.

Ham and Potato Soup
Modified from Allrecipes

3 1/4 cups water
2 cubes chicken bouillon
5 tablespoons butter
1 rib celery, diced
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
salt and pepper
5 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
1 1/4 lbs Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
7oz ham steak, cut into bite-size pieces

Bring the water to a boil in a pot or an electric kettle. After the water comes to a boil, transfer it to a bowl or glass measuring cup and add the chicken bouillon cubes. Stir to dissolve the bouillon. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the celery and onion and cook until the onion is translucent and starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Add some salt and pepper to season the veggies, then add the flour. Stir to coat all the veggies with the flour, then cook for 1 minute.

Add the water with the bouillon and the milk to the pot and whisk to get rid of any lumps from the flour. Add the potatoes. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Once the potatoes are cooked, add the ham to the soup. Stir to heat through, then taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt and pepper, if needed. Serve immediately.
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Friday, March 13, 2015

Chicken and Green Chile Enchiladas

As you may have noticed, I've been on a chicken thigh kick recently. The meat is just so tender and flavorful. Take these Chicken and Green Chile Enchiladas from my friend, Melissa. In the past I would have subbed breasts for the thighs. I'm sure the results would have been good, but not great. Instead I used thighs and everyone, even the 5-year-old, was raving about how good they were.

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My stepdad kept oohing and ahhing over them. And, like many things, they got better the longer they sat. SP took the final two enchiladas for lunch two days later and said they were even better than the first day we ate them.

As luck would have it, my aunt lives in New Mexico, home of the Hatch chile. She knows how much I love to cook, and that I can't get Hatch chiles here in Pennsylvania, so she figured out a way to process them, freeze them and bring them with her when she visited for the holidays. I've had the chiles in my freezer, waiting for the perfect recipe. If you don't have Hatch chiles you can definitely use regular green chiles - you can't really taste the true Hatch chile flavor in the enchiladas anyway. I'm saving the rest of the chiles to use as a burger topping. I can't wait!

Chicken and Green Chile Enchiladas
As seen on Alosha's Kitchen

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Seasoning: ground cumin, dried oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper
1 tablespoon oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 7-ounce can diced green chiles (or 7 to 8 ounces Hatch chiles if you have them!)

Enchilada sauce:
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 small canned chipotle chile in adobo, minced
3/4 cup water

8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded and divided in half
18 flour tortillas, large taco size
Chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Place the chicken on a large baking sheet lined with foil. Season the chicken generously with cumin, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Bake for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 1/2 tablespoon oil over medium low in a small skillet. Add the onions and garlic and saute until just soft, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and garlic to a medium mixing bowl along with the diced green chiles.

To make the enchilada sauce: in a medium saucepan, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil over medium. Add flour and cook, whisking occasionally, 1 minute. Add broth, chili powder, chipotle, and 3/4 cup water; bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce heat, and simmer until lightly thickened, about 10 minutes.

Once the chicken has finished baking, remove to a cutting board, let cool slightly, then slice/chop the chicken into small bits and add to the mixing bowl. Make sure the mixture is cool enough to not melt the cheese, then add half the cheddar. Toss well to combine.

You'll need two baking dishes (one 9x13" and one smaller, I used an 8x8 square). Spray both dishes with cooking spray. Fill each tortilla with some of the filling, then roll it up and place seam side down in the baking dishes. Repeat with the other tortillas. Pour the sauce evenly over the enchiladas.

Cover the dishes with foil (do not forget this or the sauce will dry out!) and bake in the 350-degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove the pan and discard the foil. Sprinkle the remaining cheddar on top of the enchiladas and return to the oven uncovered for another 10 minutes.

Sprinkle cilantro on top, if desired, and serve immediately.
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Monday, March 09, 2015

Double Chocolate Silk Cream Pie

We all know I don't bake, but when I saw this recipe for Double Chocolate Silk Cream Pie I had to have it. An Oreo cookie crust and rich, chocolate filling sounded heavenly. And since there's no baking involved I figured it would be a piece of cake (or pie...ha!) to whip up one weekend.

Double chocolate silk pie

The only downside to this recipe is that the pie has to cool overnight. The original recipe says you can let it cool for 4-6 hours, but you really want this ice cold so overnight is probably best (at least in my opinion). The lingering smell of crushed Oreos and cooked chocolate drove us all crazy until we could finally enjoy a slice of this decadent pie.

A little goes a long way for this one, unless you have a serious sweet tooth. I served this with fresh whipped cream after Sunday dinner and we were all in love. Baby Girl especially loved this one, so I know I'll be making it again soon.

Double Chocolate Silk Cream Pie
As seen on Lauren's Latest

CRUST
20 Oreo cookies
6 tablespoons melted butter

FILLING
5 large egg yolks
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
10 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips

whipped cream, for serving

Place all the Oreo cookies (use the whole cookie) in a food processor. Pulse a few times until the cookies become crumbs. Mix the crumbs and melted butter together until moist. Press into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate or cake pan. Refrigerate while making the filling.

Separate the eggs, reserving the egg yolks in a bowl. Reserve or discard the egg whites. Lightly beat the yolks and set aside.

Place a medium-sized glass bowl over a pot with about an inch of simmering water (this is called a double boiler). Make sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Add the cream to the bowl and heat until you start to see bubbles forming. This will scald the cream. Stir in the sugar and salt, whisking until dissolved, about 2 minutes. Stream one tablespoon at a time of the hot cream into the egg yolks, whisking after each tablespoon is added. Do this 4 or 5 times. This is called tempering. Stir the tempered egg yolks back into the cream in the double boiler. Cook, whisking occasionally, until the eggs and cream start to thicken and coat the back of a spoon, about 8 minutes. The pie won't set if you don't thicken the cream and egg mixture long enough, so if you're unsure whether or not the mixture is thick enough, continue cooking for another 5 minutes.

Remove the cream and egg mixture from the heat and stir in the vanilla and chocolate chips. Whisk until the mixture is smooth and all the chocolate has melted. Pour the filling into the prepared pie shell and cool to room temperature.

Once the pie is cool, cover it with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic wrap directly onto the filling. Refrigerate the pie overnight. Cut into pieces and serve with whipped cream (recipe below).

Homemade whipped cream

1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners' (powdered) sugar

Place a metal, glass or ceramic bowl in the freezer for 15-30 minutes to chill. Once chilled, pour the cream into the bowl and add the sugar. Using an electric hand mixer or balloon whisk, beat the cream to the desired consistency. For soft peaks, the cream will be just thick enough to hold its shape. For stiffly beaten cream, the beaters or whisk wires will leave distinct traces on the cream and stand in firm peaks when the beaters are lifted.

MAKE AHEAD
The cream can be whipped up to 1 day ahead, covered tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerated. If liquid separates from the cream, whip it again to incorporate the liquid.

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Friday, March 06, 2015

Oklahoma Fried Onion Burgers

A few weekends ago we were all watching Cook's Country together (yes, my 5-year-old loves to watch cooking shows. It warms my heart). They were making something called Oklahoma Fried Onion Burgers and they looked mouthwateringly good.

Oklahoma fried onion burgers

For some reason that episode was on at least 3 or 4 more times within a two-week span and I finally told SP I had to make them. So, he picked up some ground beef at the store and I planned to make them one Saturday for dinner. Then we had a ridiculously huge lunch and couldn't stand the thought of eating again. The ground beef went into the freezer, where it was promptly forgotten. I finally remembered that I wanted to make the recipe and put the burgers on the menu two nights ago. They were so good I had to blog them immediately.

Oklahoma fried onion burgers

I thought these would be more complicated but it's actually a very easy recipe. All you need to do is plan ahead enough to let the onions sit in the colander. SP said they tasted like a McDonald's hamburger only a million times better. Baby Girl had the mini burger in the center of the picture above, sans onions because she isn't a fan. They even reheated well the next day.

Oklahoma Fried Onion Burgers
As seen on Cook's Country

1 large onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
salt and pepper
1 lb ground beef
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4-8 slices American cheese
Mayo, mustard and pickles, for serving
4 hamburger buns, toasted

Combine the onion slices and 1 teaspoon of salt in a bowl and toss to combine. Transfer the onions to a colander and let sit for 30 minutes, tossing occasionally. Transfer the onions to a clean dish towel, gather the edges together and squeeze out as much liquid as you can from the onions. Do this over the sink or a large bowl since the onions will have quite a bit of liquid in them.

Divide the onions into 4 separate mounds on a rimmed baking sheet. Form the beef into 4 lightly packed balls. Place the beef balls on top of the onion mounds and flatten the beef firmly (use your palm) so the onion adheres to the beef. The patties should measure 4 inches in diameter. Season the beef generously with salt and pepper.

Melt the butter with the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Using a large spatula, transfer the patties to the skillet, onion side down. Cook for 6-8 minutes, until the onions turn a deep golden brown and begin to crisp around the edges. Flip the burgers, then increase the heat to high and cook until well browned on the second side, about 2 minutes.

Add 1 or 2 slices of cheese to each burger and allow to melt. Add mayo, mustard and pickles to the top buns, then place each burger on a bottom buns. Serve immediately.
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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Chicken Tikka Masala

Can we talk about chicken thighs for a minute? I know I'm late to the party but holy moly are they good. Tender, juicy, flavorful, almost impossible to overcook. And cheap as all get-out. I had a serious craving for Chicken Tikka Masala recently and realized I'd never gotten around to trying my friend Melissa's version. This is now my go-to recipe.

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It's not that different from the previous version I used to make in terms of ingredients and flavor. The big differences are the use of chicken thighs and the cooking method. Melissa's recipe has you marinating the chicken and then baking it. My old version had you grilling the chicken. Baking is so much easier and clean up is a snap.

This was outstanding. Utterly fantastic. We all gobbled it up, using some delicious buttered naan to soak up the sauce.

Chicken Tikka Masala
As seen on Alosha's Kitchen

Marinade
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 to 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into large cubes

Sauce
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno chile, minced
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon salt
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1/2 cup half and half
1 cup water
1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro

In a large food storage bag, combine yogurt, lemon juice, grated ginger, 2 teaspoons cumin, cinnamon, cayenne and 1 teaspoon salt. Add the chicken, toss to combine, seal the bag and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350. Spread the chicken out on a foil-lined baking sheet and cook for 25 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, melt the butter in a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and jalapeno and stir for 1 minute. Stir in the ground coriander, 1 teaspoon cumin, paprika, garam masala and 1 teaspoon salt. Add the tomato sauce, half and half and water and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes.

Add the cooked chicken with all the accumulated juices (don't omit that!) to the sauce and let simmer for another 10 minutes. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Serve over basmati or jasmine rice with naan for soaking up the sauce.
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Monday, February 23, 2015

Fried Mozzarella Sticks

Baby Girl loves cheese sticks. She eats them as a snack almost every day after school. Or rather, she used to. One week I noticed the package in the fridge was still mostly full so I checked the expiration date. It was that weekend. Since the Super Bowl was coming up I figured I'd turn them into Fried Mozzarella Sticks and went searching for a recipe.

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The key to any mozzarella stick recipe is to freeze the cheese sticks before you bake or fry them. I'm not sure why the recipe I used doesn't say to do that but it's an absolute MUST. The cheese will melt if it's anywhere close to room temperature. Heck, even mine frozen started to melt and ooze as they fried. So do not, under any circumstances, forget that step.

These were delicious, full of melty, gooey cheese. I only made 8 since it was just the three of us. SP and I each had three and Baby Girl devoured two. I'll definitely be making these again the next time we have cheese sticks that need to be used up.

Fried Mozzarella Sticks
Modified from Add a Pinch

24 mozzarella sticks
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1 cup flour
3 cups panko
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
vegetable oil
pizza or marinara sauce, for dipping

The day before you plan to make these, place however many cheese sticks you want to eat into the freeze. Freeze them overnight. Do not skip this step!

The next day, prepare three separate bowls for dredging your mozzarella sticks. Whisk the buttermilk and the egg in one bowl. Put the flour in the second bowl. In the third bowl, combine the panko and the Italian seasoning.

Dip each cheese stick into the buttermilk, then into the flour, then back into the buttermilk and finally into the panko. Set aside on a sheet pan until all the cheese sticks have been coated.

Pour about 1 inch of oil into a 12-inch non-stick skillet. Heat over medium heat until the oil starts to shimmer. Add a few cheese sticks at a time, being careful not to crowd the pan. Use tongs to remove them as they turn golden brown.

Place on a baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain. Serve warm with pizza or marinara sauce for dipping.
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Friday, February 20, 2015

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup {Panera knockoff}

I'm not much of a soup person, but when Stephanie posted this recipe for Creamy Tomato Basil Soup {Panera knockoff} I was intrigued. I enjoy a good bowl of tomato soup with grilled cheese every now and then and the recipe seemed really simple and straightforward.

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As luck would have it, I had this on the menu the night the temps dipped to -30 degrees. As anyone in the northeast (heck, even the southeast has been seeing record low temps lately) can attest, it's C-O-L-D out there. This soup was hearty and delicious, perfect for a frigid night.

We only had one complaint and that was with the chunks of tomato. We wanted a rich, creamy soup and the chunks of tomato just didn't fit. I modified the recipe below to puree the diced tomatoes before adding them to the pot. You could also puree the soup once it's done cooking, using a blender or an immersion blender.

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup {Panera knockoff}
Slightly modified from Stephanie Cooks

1 14oz can diced tomatoes
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon crushed garlic
2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons butter
1 cup heavy cream
15-20 basil leaves, minced

Place the diced tomatoes and their juice in a food processor and pulse to coarsely chop. Add the processed tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, garlic and chicken broth to a large Dutch oven. Bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes, stirring often.

Reduce the heat to low and stir in the sugar and butter. Continue stirring until the butter is completely melted and well combined.

Very slowly pour in the heavy cream while stirring constantly. You need to do this slowly to get the thick, creamy texture.

Stir in the basil and let simmer on low for about 20 minutes.
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