Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sopa Seca

4 cups chicken stock
3 small tomatoes (about 3/4 lb)
Large green pepper
Medium-size onion
2 large garlic cloves
2 ounces Parmesan or Romano cheese
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 3/4 lb)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3/4 pound vermicelli
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon minced coriander for garnish

1. Bring stock to a boil in medium-size saucepan over medium-high heat.
2. Wash, dry, core, and coarsely chop tomatoes.
3. wash and dry green bell pepper. Core, seed and dice pepper.
4. Halve, peel, and finely chop onion. Crush, peel, and mince garlic.
5. Using food processor or grater, grate cheese. Transfer to small serving bowl.
6. Add chicken breasts to boiling stock, reduce heat, and poach at a gentle simmer 10 minutes.
7. Using a slotted spoon, transfer poached chicken to plate. Reserve stock. Allow chicken to cool until it can be easily handled.
8. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in large heavy-gauge saute pan over medium heat until hot. Break vermicelli into 3-inch lengths and cook in oil, stirring and tossing frequently, 2 minutes, or until browned. Using slotted spoon, transfer vermicelli to large serving dish; set aside.
9. Add remaining tablespoon oil to saute pan. Add onion and garlic and cook over medium heat 2 to 3 minutes, or until onion is translucent.
10. Meanwhile, coarsely shred chicken.
11. Return vermicelli to pan and add reserved stock, cumin, and Cayenne. Cook over medium heat, covered, 4 minutes. Stir in shredded chicken, tomatoes, and bell pepper. Cook, covered, another 4 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed and vermicelli is tender.
12. Season sopa seca with salt to taste and transfer to large serving dish. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon cheese and minced coriander. Serve remaining cheese on the side.

Notes: Tasty! The name of this dish means "dry soup," so it does not have a liquid consistency. This dish has a bit of a kick to it, so if you have sensitive taste buds, I would recommend starting with a smaller amount of Cayenne pepper and season it to taste. I found the flavors to be similar to those you would find in an enchilada that you would order at a Mexican restaurant. We liked the combination of those flavors with the texture of the pasta. We used spaghetti instead of vermicelli, since that is what we had on hand. I didn't serve the sopa seca with cheese, since John isn't a huge fan of Parmesan and I didn't think I would like it as much with the flavors in the dish. We did season our own individual servings with coriander and thought it was yummy. I forgot to add the salt at the end and found that it tasted just fine without it. Out of the last few recipes that we have tried, this is probably our favorite. This is another recipe from Great Meals In Minutes: Soup and Stew Menus.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Yam and Ham Soup with Ginger

Medium-size onion
2 large carrots (about 1/2 lb. total weight)
1-inch piece fresh ginger
Medium-size orange (for garnish)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 cup apple juice
Small bunch parsley (for garnish)
3 or 4 medium-size yams (about 2 lbs. total weight)
3/4 lb. baked ham
2 Tbsp bourbon (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Halve and peel onion. Peel and trim carrots. Using paring knife or vegetable peeler, peel ginger. In food processor with steel blade, or with a chef's knife, coarsely chop onion, carrots, and ginger; set aside.
2. Wash and dry orange. Using grater, finely grate enough zest to measure 6 teaspoons; set aside. Note: this is used as garnish.
3. In large heavy-gauge saucepan or flameproof casserole, melt butter with oil over medium heat. Add chopped vegetables and 2 teaspoons grated orange zest and reduce heat to low. Cover pan and cook vegetables, stirring occasionally, 3 to 5 minutes, or until softened.
4. Stir in chicken stock and apple juice. Cover pan, increase heat to high, and bring liquid to boil.
5. Meanwhile, wash and dry parsley. Finely chop enough parsley to measure 2 teaspoons; set aside.  Note: this is used as garnish. Pare yams with vegetable peeler and cut enough into small dice to measure about 6 cups.
6. Add yams to boiling stock and reduce heat to medium. Gently boil yams, partially covered, 5 to 10 minutes, or until tender.
7. Cut enough ham into 1/4-inch dice to measure about 2 cups; set aside.
8. Using slotted spoon, transfer 3 cups cooked yams to food processor or blender. Process, adding a little of the soup liquid, until yams become a smooth puree. Using rubber spatula, scrape puree back into soup and stir to blend. Add ham, and bourbon if using. Simmer gently until ham is heated through. Add salt and pepper to taste and keep soup warm over very low heat until ready to serve.
9. To serve, ladle soup into 4 individual bowls. Garnish each serving with 1/2 teaspoon chopped parsley and 1 teaspoon orange zest.

Notes: This recipe comes from Great Meals in Minutes: Soup and Stew Menus.  We thought it was all right, but nothing we will make frequently.  I would also recommend against the orange zest as garnish unless you really know what you are doing; I garnished my first bowl and ended up with soup that had an overpowering taste of orange zest.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Eggs in a Basket

One egg for each slice of bread
Cooking spray or butter

This is one way to make these.  There are probably other ways.
1. Warm up frying pan to medium-high heat.
2. Butter both sides of the bread.
3. Break or cut a whole in the middle of the bread.  (The bigger the whole, the thinner the egg will be and the faster it will cook.)
4. Place bread in frying pan.  Crack open egg and empty into "basket" in the bread.  Allow time for one side of bread and egg to cook, then flip and cook other side.
5. The piece of bread that was cut out can also be toasted in the frying pan at the same time or afterwards.

Notes: It seems like whenever it was my dad's turn to make breakfast when I was growing up, this is what we had.  I like to top mine with ketchup or barbecue sauce.  Apparently there are lots of different names for this meal, and lots of different variations (see here for example).

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Chicken Azteca

2-15 0z. cans black beans, rinsed and drained
4 c. frozen corn
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 tsp. ground cumin
2 c. salsa, divided
4 large chicken breasts
2-8oz. pkg. cream cheese
Cooked rice
Shredded cheddar cheese
Sour cream
Other burrito-type toppings you want

1. Combine beans, corn, garlic, cumin, and half of salsa in slow cooker.
2. Arrange chicken on top of bean and corn mixture. Pour remaining salsa over top.
3. Cover and cook on high for 2-3 hours or on low for 4-6 hours.
4. Once chicken is done, remove it from slow cooker and cut into bite-size pieces or shred. Return to slow cooker.
5. Stir in cream cheese and cook on high until the cheese melts.
6. Fill tortillas with chicken and sauce and any other toppings you might like. You can also just top rice with the chicken and sauce, but it tastes great as a burrito.

Notes: This makes enough to completely fill a 3-quart slow cooker. We had a ton leftover, which I plan to freeze and save for later. We had this meal while visiting John's brother and had to ask for the recipe. It is quite tasty!  We didn't use as much chicken as the recipe calls for, so ours came out a bit more saucy.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Summer Soba Noodles

8 oz. soba noodles
1 cup frozen shelled edamame, thawed
1 cup shredded carrots
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 Tbsp light mayonnaise
2 Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp canola oil
2 Tbsp hot water
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 tsp honey
1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and quartered

1. Cook noodles according to package directions, about 8 minutes or until tender.  Drain and rinse with cold water; drain again.
2. In a large bowl, toss the noodles with edamame, carrots, and sesame seeds; set aside.
3. Mix peanut butter, mayonnaise, soy sauce, canola oil, hot water, vinegar, sesame oil, honey, ginger, and garlic in a covered blender or food processor until smooth.  Toss into noodle mixture.  Makes 6 servings.

Notes: This recipe is from the June 2011 issue of Parents magazine.  The edamame and soba noodles aren't common ingredients for us, so it was a nice change.  The flavor was good but not as strong as might be expected.  Toasted sesame oil is pretty expensive so Brittany replaced it with another cooking oil.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Peppered Pork Pitas with Garlic Sauce

1/3 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
2 Tbsp milk
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 lb boneless pork loin chops, cut into thin bite-size strips
1 Tbsp olive or vegetable oil
1 tsp coarsely ground pepper
1 jar (7.25 oz) roasted red bell peppers, drained, sliced
4 pita fold breads (7 inch)

1. In small bowl, mix mayonnaise, milk, and garlic; set aside.
2. In medium bowl, mix pork, oil, and pepper.  Heat 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook pork in skillet 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until pork is lightly browned and no longer pink in center.  Stir in bell peppers; heat until warm.
3. Heat pita folds as directed on package.  Lightly spread one side of each pita fold with garlic mixture.  Spoon pork mixture over each; fold up.

Notes: Delicious! Easy to make, too.  Recipe comes from the Betty Crocker website and was recommended by my sister, Jen.  Check the link for a better photo.  (Our local store only had pocket pitas.)  Although I am just now getting around to posting it, we've already had it a couple of times in the last month.
Note from Brittany: I just seasoned the mayo sauce with garlic powder to our own liking. I thought 2 cloves of garlic was quite a bit, but some people might like it that garlicky.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Chicken Cutlets Parmesan

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/4 cup flour
2 eggs
1 cup dry unflavored bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
6 tsp chopped fresh oregano or 2 tsp dried
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Using sharp knife, remove and discard any excess fat and gristle from chicken breast.  Cut away tendon from fillet.  Place 1 breast half, smooth side down, on sheet of waxed paper.  Top with another sheet of waxed paper.  Pound cutlet until it is about 1/8 inch thick.  Discard waxed paper.  Repeat process with the remaining breast halves.
2. Dust pounded cutlets with flour on clean sheet of waxed paper; shake off any excess.
3. Place eggs in bowl and beat.  Place bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and oregano in another bowl and stir together.
4. Dip each cutlet first in egg and then in crumb mixture.  Set cutlets aside on wire rack until ready to cook.
5. Heat oil in skillet over moderately high heat until almost smoking.  Place 2 cutlets in skillet and fry until crisp and golden brown.  Turn over with tongs and fry on other side about 2 minutes.  Drain on paper towels and fry remaining cutlets in the same manner.  Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.

Notes: This was really tasty.  The crumb coating had a nice crunchy texture.  We found the recipe in a book called Great Meals in Minutes: Chicken & Game Hen Menus, which was published back in 1983.  (When we lived in California, a neighbor of ours was going to throw it away and I thought a few of the recipes looked interesting so I took it.  It has taken us a year and a half, but we are finally trying it out.)  I forgot to add the salt and pepper at the end, but I don't think it needed it.  We had a lot of extra bread crumb mixture.  Also, I was a bit lazy and didn't get my chicken as thin as the recipe called for, so it took a bit longer to cook and the crumb coating ended up a bit dark (slightly overcooked) as a result.

Addictive Mexican Stew

1 cup dice onion
1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 cups cooked chicken or 3 cups cooked turkey, diced or shredded
1 (1.25 oz) package taco seasoning mix
2 (14.5 oz) cans ready-cut diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (15 oz) can black beans or kidney beans, drained
1 (8.75 oz) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 (4 oz) can diced green chilies, drained
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 Tbsp cornstarch

1. Cook onion and garlic in oil in large saucepan until tender.
2. Add cooked chicken, taco seasoning, tomatoes, beans, corn, and chilies.
3. Blend broth and cornstarch; add to saucepan.
4. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes; stirring occasionally.
5. Serve with corn bread for a hearty meal.

Notes: This recipe comes from, and was suggested by a former roommate of mine a couple of years ago.  We just now got around to trying it.  Basically it is a taco soup recipe.  I don't know if I would call it addictive, but it was pretty good.  I had it for lunch the next three days after we made it and didn't get sick of it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Pork Pot Roast in Cider

1 1/2 to 2 pound boneless pork blade or sirloin roast
2 Tbsp cooking oil
1 1/4 cups apple cider or apple juice
2 tsp instant beef bouillon granules
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp black pepper
3 medium red potatoes or round white potatoes, peeled (if desired) and quartered
3 medium carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
3 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 large onion, cut into wedges
1/3 cup cold water
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1. Trim fat from meat. In a 4- to 6-quart Dutch oven brown meat on all sides in hot oil.  Drain off fat.  Stir together apple cider, bouillon granules, mustard, and pepper.  Pour over meat.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat.  Simmer, covered, for 1 hour.
2. Add potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and onion.  Simmer, covered, for 30 to 40 minutes more or until meat and vegetables are tender.  Transfer meat and vegetables to a serving platter, reserving juices in Dutch oven.  Keep warm.
3. For gravy, measure juices; skim fat.  If necessary, add enough water to juices to equal 1 1/2 cups.  Return to Dutch oven.  Stir cold water into flour.  Stir into juices in pan.  Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly.  Cook and stir for 1 minute more.  To serve, remove string from meat, if present.  Slice meat and serve with vegetables and gravy.

Crockery-Cooker Directions
Trim fat from meat.  Brown meat as directed above.  Place potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and onion in a 3 1/2- or 4-quart crockery cooker.  Cut meat to fit in cooker and place on top of vegetables.  Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 8 to 10 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours or until tender.  Transfer meat and vegetables to a serving platter; keep warm.  Prepare gravy in a medium saucepan on the range top as in step 3.  Serve as above.

Notes: Brittany made this in the crockpot.  We didn't have any parsnips.  This recipe comes from the Better Homes and Gardens 12th Edition Cook Book.