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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Chicken Tortilla Soup

This soup comes from Ree Drummond. Do you ever watch the Pioneer Woman on the Food Network? I swear, this woman is a whole lot of perfection. Always smiling, so easy going, and the food! All on an isolated ranch with a cowboy husband and a handful of kids...who she home schools, by the way. Not sure how this woman pulls it off. I tried her tortilla soup last week and it was delicious - it took us a few days to eat and that was ok with us!

2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts 
1 tbsp olive oil 
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin 
1 teaspoon chili powder 
1/2 tsp garlic powder 
1/2 tsp salt 
1 tbsp olive oil 
1 cup diced onion 
3 cloves garlic, minced 
1 can (10 Oz. Can) Rotel tomatoes and green chilies 
3 tbsp tomato paste 
5-6 cups chicken broth 
1 can black beans, drained 
3 tbsp cornmeal 
4 whole corn tortillas, cut into 2 inch strips
1 avocado
Sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix cumin, chili pepper, garlic powder, and salt. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil on chicken breasts, then sprinkle a small amount of spice mix on both sides. Set aside the rest of the spice mix.

2. Place chicken breasts on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until chicken is done. Use two forks to shred chicken. Set aside.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pot over medium high heat. Add onions and garlic. Stir and begin cooking, then add the rest of the spice mix. Stir to combine, then add shredded chicken and stir.

4. Pour in Rotel, chicken stock, tomato paste, water, and black beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes, uncovered.

5. Mix cornmeal with a small amount of water. Pour into the soup, then simmer for an additional 30 minutes. Check seasonings, adding more if needed---add more chili powder if it needs more spice, and be sure not to undersalt. Turn off heat and allow to sit for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Five minutes before serving, gently stir in tortilla strips.

6. Ladle into bowls, then top with sour cream and diced avocado.

Poulet Yassa

In Senegal, there are a few dishes that you will see on every menu - at restaurants and in homes. Poulet Yassa is an oniony, stewy dish that is glorious over white rice. Everyone makes it a little differently - from light and tart, to an almost sweet, rich sauce in which the onions are caramelized. Either way, crack the windows and put on some goggles.

1/4 cup peanut oil
3-4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
6 onions - halved and sliced
8 tbsp lemon juice
8 tbsp vinegar
1 bay leaf
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp red pepper flakes
Green olives (optional)

1. In a large dutch oven, heat the oil and brown the chicken on all sides. Remove from pan and set aside.

2. Add the onions to the pot and saute on low to medium heat until soft and translucent - this will take a while and let them cook slowly.

3. Add the remaining ingredients. If too dry - add a little chicken stock but be careful not to make it soupy. Then add the chicken back to the pot and cook with the onions until cooked through.

Serve on white rice or couscous.

Salted Caramel Apple Cake

It's apple season! I made this delicious cake a few weeks ago when Paddy and I visited Reebs and Andy up in Rangeley, ME. It was dessert and breakfast all in one weekend...the best kind of cake. Also great about this cake - the salted caramel sauce. I may have saved a little extra to put on ice cream the following week...

This recipe comes from Pinch of Yum, one of my new favorite blogs.

2 cups thinly sliced apples - slice on a mandolin to get them as thin as possible.

For the sauce:
1/2 cup salted butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the cake:
1/2 cup salted butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

1. Generously grease a round 9-inch baking pan.

2. To prepare the sauce, melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and vanilla. Keep over medium heat and cook for 3 minutes until smooth and thick. Pour the caramel into the greased cake pan but reserve a little - around 1/4 cup. Layer the apples on top of the caramel.

3. To prepare the cake batter, beat the butter and brown sugar until creamy. Add the eggs and milk and beat to incorporate. Stir in teh flour, baking powder, and cinnamon.  Pour the cake batter on top of the apples.

4. Bake for 45 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes. Invert onto a plate and tap the top until the cake comes out on a plate. Pour the remaining caramel on top.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Spicy Sausage Soup

This is one of those recipes that shouldn't even be a recipe. Empty out the crisper drawer in your refrigerator and cover your eyes and pick about 4-5 spices from the cabinet...there's a whole lot of everything in this soup so a substitute here and there definitely won't kill it. It's a great soup for the winter - hearty, full of veggies and with a little heat. It's one of Paddy's favs.

PS - more soup recipes coming soon!!

1 package of ground spicy Italian sausage - remove from casings
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 handful of cremini mushrooms, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/2 small can of tomato paste
1 14 oz can of fire-roasted tomatoes
1 can chick peas, drained
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup pasta, shells work well

1. Saute the sausage in a dutch oven until completely cooked. Break down into small pieces. Remove from pot and drain most of the fat.

2. Add the carrot, onion, garlic, mushrooms and zucchini and saute until tender.

3. Add the spices and mix well with the vegetables. Add tomato paste and mix well.

4. Add the tomatoes, broth, and sausage and bring to a boil.

5. Add the shells and cook until tender.

Serve with grated Parmesan.

Blue-Barb Jam

I got into making jam because of my Grandma. She was an extraordinary cook and was always up to something in the kitchen. And she went the extra mile. She would heat the maple syrup for our pancakes on mornings after we'd spent the night. She made her own jam. She made horseradish...she made stuff that most people just buy. And so I grew up in a family where buying pie crust was sacrilege. Jam...always homemade. My mom was the same way - blueberry and raspberry jam from the garden in the backyard. Tomato sauce with the over-abundance of tomatoes. And the famed story of the time she and my dad tried to make wine in their younger years...and I think as the story goes, it spilled, there was a lot of sugar...

I'm getting ready to make my annual batch of orange (+ grapefruit as Grandma always did) marmalade. It's become a pre-Christmas thing for me and now Paddy's mom counts on a few jars when goes home for the holiday. But this is a recipe for Blue-Barb jam - it's an end of summer jam, when the rhubarb is out. It's a nice twist on standard blueberry since it adds a little extra tart.

We went through half a dozen jars this summer/fall. It's also great mixed in with plain Greek yogurt, on waffles, in oatmeal...

1 lb rhubarb stalks, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 lb of blueberries
3 cups of sugar
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
pinch of salt

1. Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan and cook over medium high heat, stirring constantly until the berries have burst and rhubarb is soft. Remove from heat.

2. Mash the rhubarb and berries against the side of the pan, simmer over moderate heat for another 10 minutes or until it's thickened.

3. Pour the jam into jars and refrigerate up to 2 weeks or return to boiling water to seal.

*Makes 4 cups.