Tag Archives: cooking

All That Mid-Week Jazz

You guys, my bracket be busted. The ‘Zags failed me. I knew I shouldn’t have kept it in the Northwest. We are the epitome of disappointment during critical sports moments (see the last minute of this year’s Super Bowl, for example). On the plus side, I’m no longer glued to that stupid ESPN Tournament Challenge app.

Allergy season is in full force with this early spring we’ve had, so if I forget to take one of the OTC allergy pills we load up on at Kaiser, I walk around feeling like someone is grinding my face into a pile of pollen. That being said, I slept in this weekend and missed my long run with the group. My alarm sounded, I turned it off, and fell asleep for another four hours. Want to know what’s NOT as fun as running 7 miles with a group of great ladies? Running 7 miles by yourself around a high school track on a hot afternoon. I opted for the track because sometimes, planning distance from my house is just a hassle. I ended up alternating running and walking laps until the boys (aka husband and dog) showed up with another water bottle to walk me home. My times weren’t so hot, but I got the distance in, which I’m happy with considering that I didn’t run much the two weeks prior.    I was also breaking in my new Brooks! No more Nikes for this girl.   Then, last night was hill training at our weekly track workout. We ran to the park close to the track and did four hill repeats and I was reminded of why I used to hate running. EVERY PART OF MY BODY HATES HILLS. I sucked it up, ran up that (*@($ four times, and walked down to give myself a little bit of recovery. When I got home, I rewarded myself with a big ol’ spoonful of cookies & creme cookie butter. YUM. That stuff is insane. Then this morning, when my quads and glutes were screaming, my treat was half an apple fritter. You gotta treat yo’self or you’ll go insane. I’m trying to drop a few pounds, so I’m keeping my meals super balanced and healthy, limiting mindless snacking, and letting myself have a treat every now and then.

Today is officially 17 days until my 15k, and 31 days until my first half of the year. I’m trying to stay on my A-game, because I’m pretty sure this half will be mostly harder core runners and I don’t want to look like a schlub. I’m even going to try and get in a long run next week when I’m in Iowa for a family wedding. #goals

And that’s all. I’m just rising, grinding, and working on a few new recipes for the blog that I hope to have posted soon. The time of convenience meals is over, my friends, as I try and get a better handle on my nutrition again. Tonight, instead of risotto, I modified a recipe I found for “quinoa risotto.” Quinoa has a lot of natural protein and a delicious nutty flavor, so it was truly a hearty, one pot meal with endless possible modifications. It’s definitely joining the permanent rotation of “meals that are easy and flexible and I don’t have to think about it.”

Your turn:

Did you pull any April Fool’s Jokes today? Have any pulled on you? I generally dislike April Fools, not because I’m a Scrooge, but because some people don’t have a sense of humor. They either get super offended over something that was meant to be an innocent joke, or they pull a legitimately insensitive joke.

What’s the best thing you’ve cooked lately?

How do you get up a beastly hill?

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Breakfast for Dinner

Caprese Grits Opener

Have you figured out that I’m all about easy food in the summer time? Easy and as fresh as possible, that’s my jam. Since we started getting heirloom cherry tomatoes out of the garden, I’ve been caprese crazy. With hubby and I both back to work now that the school year is on the horizon, it’s basically a coin toss as to who’s going to cook dinner. Last week, I was craving fried eggs (I crave things NOW, can you imagine how awful that will get when I’m preggo someday?!), and fried eggs and grits are one of my favorite combos, but I wanted something fresh to balance out the delicious richness, so to the garden I went. Then, this idea came to me: why not combine two of my favorite things, the flavors of caprese and breakfast eggs?!

Here’s what you’ll need:

Lazy Caprese Ingredients

-1 cup fresh basil

-as many cherry tomatoes as you care to use, quartered

-Parmesan

-3 c water

-3/4 c grits

-butter

-EVOO

The Miller light really enhances the cooking process, but isn’t technically an ingredient. Also, our beer standards have really dropped this summer. We got cheap.

Start by chiffonading the basil. I talked about the chiffonade in my last post, but here’s what it actually looks like:

Roll the basil leaves together as tightly as you can.

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Slice thinly down the length, creating delicious basil-ey strips.

 

 

 

 

IMG_2236 Chiffonade in Progress

 

Hubby insisted on an action shot. After he corrected my knife skills a few times. Side-note: I have all my fingers.

Meanwhile, get those grits going. Bring water to a boil, salt, and whisk in grits. Return to boil, then simmer for 5-6 minutes, or until grits are soft.

Grits

 

Heat 2 T EVOO in a frying pan, and add tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper, and cook over medium until blistered. I wanted to have more tomatoes than that, but I made do with what was actually ripe.

 

Blistered Tomatoes

When both grits and tomatoes are cooked, toss tomatoes into grits along with 1 T butter and 1/4 cup of grated parm. Mix well, until creamy. If you want more cheese, add more cheese. This is the perfect time to experiment and toss in anything that sounds good to you.

Delicious Mixins

 

Mix in about half the basil and stir to combine. The rest should be set aside for garnish.

 

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Husband was in charge of making fried eggs to top off our bowls of grits. He made them in the same pan that I cooked the tomatoes in, so that they would pick up some of that flavor and extra oil.

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Serve yourself a big heap of grits, top with a fresh fried egg, season to taste, and sprinkle a little extra basil on top. And enjoy!

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You could really add in so many things to this recipe. Other ingredients we thought would be good? Mushrooms, chicken sausage, mozzarella (I would have used it but didn’t have any), shrimp, spinach…I could go on. And if you don’t like fried eggs, make a scramble with the tomatoes and top the grits with it. Eggs are so versatile. I could probably eat them every day and not get tired of them. I hardly EVER order sweet breakfast items when we are out to eat, because EGGGGGGGGGGS.

I hope you enjoy as much as I did!

Question of the day: Are you as obsessed with the basil/tomato combo as I am? Is there another flavor profile you’re addicted to? Talk to me!

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The Three Rs: Random Risotto and Running

It is freakishly hot here in Oregon, which for us means anything over 85. The heat is swell during the day when I’m in the ice cube of an office, but when I get home to my hot, AC-less house, the heat makes me exhausted. I was finally able to get my rear out of bed at 5 this morning and beat the heat to get a few miles in. The day was already warming up. And then I PR-ed my mile time. For this training go around anyways. I feel like I walked a lot, but managed to shave 20 seconds off my pace. I’m still not where I want to be, but heck, I’ll take this little victory and use it for motivation. Since it’s been so hot, we’ve been doing minimal indoor cooking. No oven use, a little range, lots of grill. When I saw this recipe on Pioneer Woman’s blog the other day, it seemed great and summery and doable with what I had on hand, so I improvised my own version. I hadn’t been grocery shopping yet, so my risotto was onion-less and cream-less.

20140717-203327-74007883.jpg We have a ton of basil in our garden (pesto for dayyyyz), so I used a heavy hand with that. I seasoned my shrimp lightly with Greek seasoning, knowing it would go well with the lemon to be added later on.

20140717-203526-74126741.jpg I think I have a risotto obsession. No joke. I love loving arborio. I tended it carefully, first toasting it with butter, then adding half a cup of the low-cal white wine my husband found at Grocery Outlet, then adding a cup at a time of chicken stock until it was nice and creamy. Salt throughout.

20140717-203927-74367109.jpg I added the chopped up shrimp and about a cup or so of basil at the end, as well as a generous helping of pre-grated parm, which seems to multiply in our fridge. Garnish with a healthy squeeze of lemon. This was SO tasty. I love basil, and it really made this dish. I’m not kidding when I say that I’m seriously contemplating stashing basil in my car, not only because I’ve heard that it’s a good way to dry herbs, but because I want my entire Prius to smell like a basil plant. I love that I’m comfortable experimenting with risotto now, and Ree’s recipe provided perfect inspiration. Plus I drool when I so much as look at her recipes.

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Soy Butter Basted Bok Choy

We introduced bok choy into our lives about a year or so ago. Why did we wait so long?! This leafy veggie is delicious and really absorbs flavor well in both the leaves and the stalks. This year, we (meaning my husband with the green thumb) took a stab at growing it from seed, and now have a big row of happy bok choy (once we beat the slugs off of them) ready for harvest. I’ve played with variations of this recipe for a while, but this iteration is our favorite.

-one bok choy
-3 T butter
-2 T soy sauce
-sesame oil
-sesame seeds

Clean and chop the bok choy into manageable pieces. If you are using baby bok choy, they would be good whole, but I cut the big stems into two or three pieces and chopped the leaves up. Big pieces are best, but something manageable to eat is also important.

Melt the butter and mix thoroughly with soy sauce. This won’t completely combine, but just make sure that the butter is completely melted.

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Now, this next part can go one of two ways. You can either prep the bok choy for cooking on the grill, using a grill pan, or cook it in a skillet on the stove top. I like the grill, because you get some char on the leaves, but I used the skillet for today. Arrange the leaves and stems in the skillet, trying to spread out as evenly as possible, and drizzle with sesame oil. As I’ve said before, a little of this stuff goes a long way. Heat cooktop to medium.

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Using a kitchen brush, brush the butter/soy mixture all over the bok choy as it’s cooking. Use as much or as little as you like of the butter mixture, it’s all taste preference at this point.

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Cook to desired level of tenderness, and sprinkle with sesame seeds right before done.

We are ours with my husband’s delicious chicken teriyaki, as well as some teriyaki Rice-a-Roni and a salad. SO GOOD. This is good with any teriyaki dish, as it has strong Asian flavor. If you’ve never had bok choy today, this is the way to try it. Trust me.

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Sorry about the whole “really shoddy picture quality” thing. I’m working on it, really.

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Sausage-Tomato Risotto in Honor of (Gordon) Ramsay

I’m not ashamed to say that I named my dog after Gordon Ramsay, nor am I ashamed to admit that I love EVERY SINGLE GORDON RAMSAY SHOW EVER. I’ve watched all of the British AND US Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, Hotel Hell, Masterchef, etc. etc. etc. And tonight was the season premiere of Hell’s Kitchen, one of Shayne’s and my spring and summer favs. I don’t know if it’s because we both spent years in the food service industry or what, but we can always agree to watch cooking reality shows. And we spelled Ramsay’s name with the second “a” because that’s how Gordon Ramsay is spelled. And I trolled around on Twitter posting staged pictures of the dog with Gordon Ramsay’s autobiography until he responded to one. Not even kidding.

If you’ve ever seen Hell’s Kitchen, you know that the chefs constantly struggle with three things: cooking beef wellington, correctly searing scallops, and making an acceptable risotto. Ramsay constantly throws risotto all around the kitchen because it’s too al dente, too runny, or too cold. Since scallops are expensive and have NO desire to try my hand at a beef wellington, I decided tomato risotto with chicken sausage was the only thing to make for dinner tonight. Pardon the pictures…I finally found my digital camera again, so they will be better going forward.

Tomato Risotto with Chicken Sausage (4 hearty servings)

1 1/2 cups diced tomato

5 cups chicken broth

1 t smoked paprika

1 shallot (or a small onion, which is all I had today, but shallots are better), finely diced

2 chicken sausages (I used spinach/feta flavored this time)

1 cups arborio rice

1/2 cup of dry white wine

2 cups easily wilted greens, like spinach, chard, etc.

2 T butter

1/2 cup parmesean

Saute the tomatoes for a few minutes in a medium sized saucepan, mostly to get the kitchen smelling delicious, but also to bring out the flavor a little bit. Pour in the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Add the smoked paprika (thank you, husband, for introducing me to a delicious and versatile ingredient).

Tomato Simmer

Cook the onion or shallot in 2 T EVOO until translucent and browned. If you are using uncooked sausage, toss that in when the onion is about half cooked. If you are using pre-cooked sausage, you can wait until the onion is basically cooked, before tossing it in for a quick saute (though either way, it’s better if it starts to get a little crispy). Season with salt and pepper.

Onion-Sausage Saute

When onion is fully cooked, add the arborio, and cook for one to two minutes to give it a little toast. Then, pour the wine in and stir until fully evaporated.

I was multitasking and didn't notice the photographer...

I was multitasking and didn’t notice the photographer…

Using a ladle, incorporate the chicken broth/tomato mixture, a scoop at a time, stirring each ladleful until it becomes fully evaporated. Slow and steady is the key to a creamy risotto; don’t rush the cooking process. It doesn’t take as long as the street rumors say, and it’s worth the patience. It usually takes me around 30-40 minutes to get all the liquid in. Before you move on to the next step, taste the rice to make sure it’s actually cooked, and not too chewy. Add more broth, if necessary, a little at a time until you get the creamy consistency you want.

I always wear this little apron when I cook, because I am notorious for staining all my clothes with food.

I always wear this little apron when I cook, because I am notorious for staining all my clothes with food.

Turn down the heat, and stir in your greens until they are wilted and soft. Toss with butter and cheese and stir until all the goodies are combined.

With Butter - Parm

Finished Risotto

 

Eating a big bowl of tasty risotto will set you right any day. I’ve seriously been thinking about making this ALL week long. Because of the tomato in the base, I think there’s a different flavor to this risotto than most others, almost a cheddar-y flavor. But don’t let that scare you, because it’s delicious. And I felt completely satisfied knowing that I had made a deliciously creamy risotto while I watched the new contestants on Hell’s Kitchen have theirs thrown out. I’m not saying I wouldn’t be terrified presenting this to Gordon Ramsay, but I’m pretty damn proud of it.

Other than doing a LOT of cooking this week, we’ve been super busy getting ready for the last push of work before our trip to Ireland. We went out and bought carry-ons for easy travel, I got a new coat for tramping the Irish cliffs and heaths, and some new sturdy walking shoes that won’t be like mesh sponges if it rains. I basically have to pack this weekend, as I’m in California for work next Tuesday through Friday, and our flight to Ireland leaves Saturday morning.

In all our preparations, we did manage to check out H-Mart for the first time this weekend. H-Mart is a chain of Asian groceries stores, which to me seemed like a friendlier and more approachable Uwajimaya. We were watching an old episode of No Reservations where Anthony was eating street food in Thailand, when we got a massive craving for any food of the Asian persuasion. We already knew we were heading the direction of H-Mart, and had heard good things about their deli cafe, so we decided to check it out.

H-MartOh my good golly, I had to stop and remember to take a picture of our food. They had three different cafes in the store, one Vietnamese, one Thai, and one that was Korean assorted. We went for Thai, and I encouraged Shayne to branch out from the classic pad thai, so we ordered some Pad Kee Mao and an order of Panang curry. We easily got two meals out of our $16 “lunch” and we were both so impresed. I’ve been craving H-Mart ever since. The noodlesin the Pad Kee Mao were OUT OF THIS WORLD fresh and delicious. You could tell that all the veggies were fresh and cooked to order, because the green beans and peppers were crisp, not sad and limp. I want to eat all the foods there. All. The. Foods. This was easily one of the best meals we’ve ever eaten.

Cee-Lo SakeAlso, did you know that Cee-Lo and his tiny little dinosaur arms sell sake?

 

 

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Asian Cod with Udon Stir-Fry

We’ve had a few truly beautiful Oregon days this week, and today took the cake. It felt like spring, it was in the upper 50s/mid-60s all day, and it didn’t rain. If you live in the pacific northwest, you know how crazy people get when they start sensing spring. All of a sudden, shorts and skirts are out, everyone is driving with their windows down, all the fair weather runners are out and about, and everyone is in a better mood. It’s awesome. The plus side about living in a rainy state is that, on nice days, you REALLY appreciate them.

Before I tell you about the latest delicious meal I created by accident, I first have to share our spontaneous spring break plans. This is the conversation I had with my husband last week:

Shayne: “What if we went up to Canada for spring break?”

Me: “If I need to renew my passport anyways…we might as well go to Europe.”

Two days later, my passport was in the mail for expedited renewal and we had plane tickets. To Ireland. Which has been one of our bucket list items basically since we first started dating. IF my passport gets back in time, we will be spending five days in Ireland, exploring Dublin and the Ring of Kerry, and we are beyond thrilled. The passport agency can expect multiple phone calls from me next week tracking my renewal. I’m banking on the LA passport agency as my backup strategy, as I have a business trip to California for the four days before we leave. I’m so excited to take pictures and document this trip I’ve wanted to take FOREVER. My parents still hear about how they went to Ireland without me in ’96. They spent 10 days exploring the emerald isle, I stayed with my grandma in Iowa, went to Methodist VBS where I knew no one, and then got the stomach flu. I’m still bitter.

That brings us to this week. As we are hoarding away all the money we can for touring and souvenirs, we are trying to eat on the cheap. Now, we ALWAYS try to stay frugal at the grocery store, but especially so these next few weeks. Lots of boxed rice pilafs mix and matched with various proteins and frozen veggie mixes. I also picked up a package of frozen cod, because it was on sale and I was jonesin’ for some seafood.

Today, after a GORGEOUS 3 mile trek in 6o degree weather with the boys (aka my dog and husband), I picked through my fridge and freezer looking for something to throw together for dinner, and pulled out the cod, a package of udon noodles I had picked up super cheap, 12 oz. of mushrooms, and a bag of frozen mixed veggies.

Here’s everything you’ll need:

-1 large or two small fillets of white fish (cod, tilapia, etc.)

-veggies, your choice

-1 pkg udon noodles (found refrigerated near the mushrooms/peppers in my grocery store)

-1/4 c soy sauce

-1 Tbs rice wine vinegar

-1 Tbs sesame oil

-1-2 Tbs brown sugar

-sesame seeds, toasted

-2 cloves minced garlic

Mix the marinade ingredients together first. Quickly whisk brown sugar into the garlic, soy, rice wine vinegar, garlic, and sesame oil until dissolved. Mix in a teaspoon of sesame seeds. If you want a slightly thicker marinade, whisk in some cornstarch (I couldn’t find mine today…whoops).

The makings of a marinade.

The makings of a marinade.

In a shallow dish, pour the marinade over the cod fillets. Cover and refrigerate for about 20 minutes.

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Since I was using frozen veggies, I started prepping the stir fry while the first marinated. I tossed sliced mushrooms, and the bag of veggies straight from the freezer into a large skillet over medium heat, and drizzled with just enough sesame oil to get a good saute going. A little sesame oil goes a long way, and I just needed to keep things moist while the veggies defrosted. I was patient with this batch, since I burned a saute last week. Some people like their stir-fry with some crunch to it, but we are a no crunch family, so I had it sauteing for a while.

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Rinse the udon for a minute or two under hot water to loosen it (mine came vacuumed packed). This better preps it for cooking. Add to your stir-fry, trying to gently break up the noodles. From the picture below, you can see I struggled with this.

Not going to lie...I was skeptical at this point.

Not going to lie…I was skeptical at this point.

After I got the udon in, I got a frying pan going over medium-high heat for the fish. Using tongs or a spatula, gently place the fillets in the skillet. Pour the extra marinade into the stir-fry.

I wish you all had smell-o-vision right now.

I wish you all had smell-o-vision right now.

Get ready to multitask. Monitor the fish, which needed about 4 minutes a side when I cooked it. At the same time, bring the liquid in the stir-fry up to a simmer. This will get the noodles nice and soft, and impart a lot of flavor into them. I kept sauteing until all of the liquid had soaked into the noodles like a delicious, noodle-y sponge.

The noodles look a lot less pasty and chunky now.

The noodles look a lot less pasty and chunky now.

When the fish is cooked all the way through (flaky and opaque inside), and the liquid has been fully incorporated into the stir fry, it’s time to get your grub on!

photo 4Shayne LOVED this. I’m always nervous with winging recipes, just because I’ve had some pretty memorable fails over the years that we still laugh about, but I’m starting to get more comfortable. It was immediately requested that this be added to our regular meal deck, so I’m going to go ahead and consider this a success story. It took a little time for prep and cooking, but it was easy, and so worth it. We ate the whole pan. And wished there was more. I will be buying udon a lot more now, that’s for sure.

I have a lot of comfort foods, but for some reason, just about ALL Asian inspired dishes are what I crave when I’m sad/sick/happy/angry/mopey/all the feels. As someone with a perpetually sensitive tummy, a big bowl of noodles or rice with some super flavorful protein always hits the spot without leaving me in pain. This meal left me full without being bloated, and was pretty darn healthy to boot.

What are your comfort foods?

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Sunday Night Suppers – Buffalo Chicken Enchiladas

So my husband LOVES this recipe. When we go through and do our weekly meal planning, he often “recipe-drops” it into conversation – I used to try and ignore it, because it was always a pain in the rear to make, but since we had a long LONG relaxing weekend, I caved yesterday and cooked up a batch for him. And used a few time-saving cheats as well.

Here’s what you’ll need:

-a package of tortillas (your choice, but don’t use teeny tiny ones…I usually go for the ones that are about  inches in diameter)

-2 cups seasoned & shredded cooked chicken

-1 cup steamed cauliflower, mashed

-1/2 c cottage cheese

-14 oz. enchilada sauce

-1/4 c hot wing sauce (I use Frank’s Red Hot)

-crumbled Gorgonzola cheese

I used frozen cauliflower this time around, it’s easy to steam on the stovetop while you’re cooking your chicken up, it’s just as healthy, and you don’t have to spend the time cutting up florets. If you wanted to save even more time, you could shred some rotisserie chicken, though then you don’t really have control over your own seasoning.

Always with the Cajun seasoning, and S&P, of course!

Always with the Cajun seasoning, and S&P, of course!

Preheat the oven to 350.

After mashing the cauliflower in a bowl, add in the chicken and cottage cheese, and mix to combine. In a separate small bowl, mix together the enchilada sauce and hot wing sauce. Pour half of the liquid mixture over the chicken and mix.

Mixings

Spoon some into a 9 x 13″ baking dish (spray/grease first!) and spread over the bottom.

Please note the True Blood mug in the background (thanks Amanda!)

Please note the True Blood mug in the background (thanks Amanda!)

Then it’s time to roll! Warm your tortillas, and fill with your desired amount of filling. Mine are always freakishly uneven – they start too fat and end too thin. You should end up with about eight enchiladas, seam side down, in your baking dish. Drizzle the rest of the sauce mix on top, and pop into the oven for 20-25 minutes.

Before oven

Before oven

The tortillas should get a nice crisp on them. Pull them out and sprinkle the Gorgonzola crumbles on top, then pop back in the oven for about 5 minutes to warm the cheese. I like to turn the broiler on for a few additional minutes afterwards to get the cheese allllllllllll nice and melty. Serve and enjoy! These also make great leftovers, and are perfect heated up for lunch.

Ready to eat!

Ready to eat!

I’m sure you can think of more swaps to make with this, and if you try any, let me know!

I’m officially on a week long vacation now, and have plenty of posts queued up (in my brain, anyways). 2014 will be the year of the semi-regular blog posts, I swear!

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Sick Day Supper – Crock Pot Chicken Noodle Soup

I came home halfway through the day today, feeling like I was either coming down with the flu or about to barf my brains out. Thankfully, I THINK whatever was making me feel nasty seems to be subsiding. But the first thing I did when I got home was throw chicken noodle soup fixins’ in the crock pot.

 

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I knew I was going to want something bland and easy to digest for dinner, and hubby has been fighting a cold as well – everyone knows soup is good for the body and soul (especially when it’s freezing outside). I’m trying to get in the habit of studying a few recipes and then putting my own spin on them, and that’s what I did with this soup.

-small onion, finely chopped

-celery, chopped

-carrots, chopped

-a big ol’ mess of chicken thigh meat

-4 cups of chicken broth

-1 cup of wine

-egg noodles

-seasonings of choice

When I shuffled through the grocery store on my way home, my usual bags of frozen chicken thighs were nowhere to be found. So I picked up some Tyson chicken thigh “chunks” (I’m pretty sure they called them something more appetizing, but I’m too tired to walk all the way to the freezer to look). This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because the chunks defrosted in the time it took me to get the dog pottied. Also, the beauty of soup is that you can determine your own proportions. I hate when my soups don’t have enough protein, so I put in about two handfuls of thigh meat (and USE thigh meat, because you’ll want the flavor).

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I diced up the onion fairly fine (don’t be jealous of my mediocre knife skills) because I knew I wanted the finished product brothy, and nothing is worse than big chunks of onion in a delicate broth. I always add more celery and less carrots, because celery is easier to chop and softens more quickly (I used 3 ribs, and 1 1/4 cups of chopped carrots).

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Next, I dumped in about a cup of wine (I’m trying to blow through the bottle of cheap white I’ve been cooking with for the last few weeks), and 4 cups of water with the equivalent amount of bouillon granules for broth. Here’s my secrets: Wyler’s granules, which I MUCH prefer to using regular chicken stock, because I can just keep it in my spice cabinet, and because I don’t have to dissolve it like bouillon cubes unless I REALLY want to. It naturally dissolves while cooking, and I think it imparts more flavor during the cooking process. And my number one cooking secret for every recipe ever? I always keep two specific things with my spices: Greek seasoning, and Cajun seasoning. I use them for everything (Greek was the word of the day for the soup). They work perfectly for everything: mixing into dredges, seasoning before grilling, sprinkling on oven fries or home fries. Seriously. Everything. These are my number one cooking staple.

Cooking trifecta - bouillon granules, booze, and my beloved Greek seasoning.

Cooking trifecta – bouillon granules, booze, and my beloved Greek seasoning.

 

So I tossed some Greek seasoning in my beloved crock pot (I forgot the salt and pepper until later, but if you don’t have addled flu-ish brains you would add some at this point). I topped off the broth with a few sprigs of rosemary (we are rosemary nuts in this house) and set it to high to cook for about 4 hours. Then I holed up on the couch in my comfies and blankets and let the dog warm my icy feet for a few hours. 15 minutes before I wanted to serve it up, I dumped in egg noodles (and took out the rosemary). Again, the proportions are up to you. I like a lot of noodles, so I probably used about 3-4 cups, which worked perfectly.

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This soup was not only easy, it was a hit. At first we thought it was going to be bland, but as we ate it, it kind of became addictive. The rosemary flavor gives it some zing that seems to accumulate as you slurp, and we both had seconds. My tummy is happy once again. All I can hope is that happy tummy continues through the night and into the morning so I can power through to the weekend. Or maybe I’ll be stuck on my couch tomorrow (I hate the thought of hanging out by my bathroom, it really impedes productivity). Either way, chicken noodle soup leftovers are already earmarked for lunch. Would it be too extreme to write “Ode to Crockpot?” Yes? Ok, I’ll try to restrain myself.

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Sunday Night Suppers – Risotto with Shrimp and Peas

I wanted to cook something comforting tonight, since our Sunday nights are usually spent relaxing, watching football with the pets, and dreading Monday. I have been craving risotto, and immediately thought of this recipe I tried a few months ago, inspired by You Can Trust a Skinny Cook. You can adapt it to use whatever you want, but shrimp and pea is one of my favorite combos. Another favorite is dried wild mushrooms. Yum. Risotto just always feels so indulgent, but this recipe isn’t terribly unhealthy either, so I feel okay making it.

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  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • butter
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 c arborio rice
  • 1/2 c white wine
  • 4 c simmering chicken broth
  • 1 lb shrimp, cleaned and cut in half
  • 1/2 to 3/4 c frozen peas
  • 1/3 to 1/2 c Parmesan

First, get the chicken broth up to a slow simmer in a sauce pan. Then, cook down the onion and garlic with 1 T butter and a drizzle of olive oil in a deep pot over medium. Cook at least until the onions become translucent – this time I put a bit of a caramelization on them. This wasn’t intentional so much as I was distracted by the beginnings of the Broncos-Chiefs game, but it worked.

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Next, dump the arborio in and cook without liquid for a minute or two, stirring constantly so that the rice doesn’t stick or begin to burn. I think next time I will legitimately brown the rice, because nothing smells better than ANYTHING cooked in brown butter. Make sure to put a little bit of a toast on it. Pour in the wine and stir until absorbed.

You’ve probably heard that risotto is time consuming. Well, you’ve reached the time consuming part, but it’s really not terrible. And it’s worth it in the end to put the time in. You can tell a difference if you try to rush. Pour one ladleful of broth at a time into the rice/onion mix, add a pinch of salt, and stir until the liquid becomes absorbed. I stir with a wooden spoon, and if I can stir and see the bottom of the pot for more than two seconds before it’s filed in with liquid, I know I’m on the right track. Give each ladle of broth time to absorb before adding another. It will probably take 20-30 minutes in all. Really, NOT THAT BAD. Plus it will smell delicious by this point, so you really wont mind standing over the stovetop. As you can see from the next photo, everyone wanted to help out with this meal, so I had lots of company. The animals just wanted me to drop something. It wasn’t their lucky day.

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When you’ve ladled in the last of the broth and you can see the rice kind of simmering in the pot, add in the frozen peas and shrimp (make sure the rice has pretty much cooked). Stir occasionally for a few minutes until the shrimp cook (they become opaque and loose some of that shiny look). Tonight, it took about 5 or 6 minutes. I usually make Shayne check it, because I’m not confident with meats of any sort. To finish it off, stir in the cheese and one more tablespoon of butter for good measure. Season with pepper to taste and get a big ol’ heaping bowlful. This makes between 4 and 8 servings, depending on how hungry you are.

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Recipe adapted from Allison Fishman’s book You Can Trust a Skinny Cook. Buy it here: http://www.amazon.com/You-Can-Trust-Skinny-Cook/dp/0470876352 You won’t regret it, I swear.

Now Monday, BRING IT! I AM FUELED! Also I can make it through this week, because it’s followed by a nice short Thanksgiving week. Splendid days!

What about you? Do you have a typical “Sunday night meal” that you make to transition out of your weekend on a good note?

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Philly Cheesesteak Peppers

All day, I contemplated what to make for dinner. The big Oregon-Stanford game is tonight, and I wanted some food that was fit for football (aka delicious and slightly sinful). I finally settled on cheesesteak stuffed peppers, which were a conglomerate of inspirational recipes I found on Pinterest. And on Juanita’s chips with salsa and guac, but all I that was store bought. I just thought it sounded good. Now, for the peppers:

Ingredients
-two green bell peppers
-small onion, chopped
-6 to 8 oz. of chopped mushrooms
-a package of precut roast beef
-sliced provolone cheese
-a tablespoon or two of minced garlic
-butter, EVOO, salt, and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400. Cut peppers in half, cut out ribs, and deseed. Line each half with a slice of cheese.
2. Sauté onion, mushrooms, and garlic over medium with a few tablespoons of butter and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook until onions are caramelized.
3. Dice roast beef. I was too cheap to get it from the deli case, I just bought a package of good ol’ Oscar Mayer and diced it up. Toss this in with the mushrooms and onion mix for a few minutes. Get a few crispy pieces, those are the best.
4. Scoop mixture into the peppers, as much as you can stuff in. Mine were overflowing and I was ok with that. Top each half with another piece of provolone.
5. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is browned.

This recipe was good (which kind of makes up for how the ducks are playing right now) but I need to experiment more with cooking times and temps. I prefer my peppers a little softer than these came out. Also, next time I think I will add more cheese on top. It did get nice and brown, there could have been a better crust on it. Oh well, live and learn.

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