Tortilla Soup

Dsc_4161

One of the first meals I ever learned how to make was this tortilla soup!  It's makes me feel old to say it was back in college, 10 years ago now, yikes!!  My intervarsity staff workers would often make this soup for our bible study "large group" on thursday nights.  I finally got the courage to ask if i could come over to help, even though I was scared to death that I knew nothing about cooking.  I asked questions about everything, "do I need to drain this can of kidney beans?" … "do you peel the carrots?" … "how do you get this skin stuff off of the garlic?".  Thankfully, they were kind and patient, and I watched as this lovely dish was created!  Since then I've added a few of my own favorites to it (like after my trip to guatemala I started tossing in salsa and black beans) and took out a few things I don't like (bell peppers), but it's a great recipe to play with and enjoy!  thanks to heather and jason for teaching me, and for wetting my appetite (quite literally) for good cooking!

Tortilla Soup

Ingredients:

2 carrots, chopped
2 celery, chopped
2 cans chicken broth
2 cans diced or stewed tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1  onion coarsely chopped
chili powder
1/2 cup salsa
1 can of corn
1 can black beans
1 can kidney beans
salt and pepper
2-3 breasts of chicken
tortilla chips
sharp cheddar cheese
green onions

Cook chicken in a pot of water with chopped onion, heat water and simmer until chicken is just cooked through.  Be careful not to over cook.  When through, remove chicken and discard water and onion.  When chicken is cooled, use two forks and shred into bite sized pieces.  Season with salt and pepper, and a small amount of chili powder (if desired). 

Heat in a large stockpot chicken broth, and cans of tomatoes.  Depending on how chunky you like your soup, you can blend in a food processor or blender one can of tomatoes for more of a tomato base.  Add carrot and bring to a simmer.  Cook carrots for 3-5 minutes.  Add celery, garlic, corn, kidney beans, black beans.  Add chili powder, one teaspoon at a time, until the desired spicy-ness is reached.  Add your favorite salsa for extra flavor.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add shredded chicken and cook soup for 5 – 10 minutes more.  Soup can simmer until ready to be served.  Serve with tortilla chips, cheddar cheese, and green onions.

Pioneer Woman and Chicken Parmigiana

Chickenparm

The Pioneer Woman is the talk of the town these days – she is coming to Seattle on Saturday to endorse her cookbook!  Oh how I wish I could make it!  All of the recipes I have tried from her site have been absolutely delicious and so I highly recommend her site and book.  I particularly love that she takes gorgeous pictures of each cooking step in every recipe.  Check it out here:  http://thepioneerwoman.com/

In honor of her coming to our city, I made her Chicken Parmigiana tonight.  In Andrew's words "this tastes like a restaurant" – and Henry ate every last bite on his plate (if you know the boy, you know this is an unusual occurrence).  Plus this recipes makes plenty of extra for leftovers!

Ingredients
  • 4 whole (up To 6) Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, Trimmed And Pounded Flat
  • ½ cups All-purpose Flour
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • ½ cups Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 whole Medium Onion, Chopped
  • 4 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • ¾ cups Wine (white Or Red Is Fine)
  • 3 cans (14.5 Oz.) Crushed Tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons Sugar
  • ¼ cubes Chopped Fresh Parsley
  • 1 cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 pound Thin Linguine
Preparation Instructions

Mix flour, salt, and pepper together on a large plate.
Dredge flattened chicken breasts in flour mixture. Set aside.

At this time, you can start a pot of water for your pasta. Cook linguine until al dente.

Heat olive oil and butter together in a large skillet over medium heat. When butter is melted and oil/butter mixture is hot, fry chicken breasts until nice and golden brown on each side, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.
Remove chicken breasts from the skillet and keep warm.

Without cleaning skillet, add onions and garlic and gently stir for 2 minutes. Pour in wine and scrape the bottom of the pan, getting all the flavorful bits off the bottom. Allow wine to cook down until reduced by half, about 2 minutes.
Pour in crushed tomatoes and stir to combine. Add sugar and more salt and pepper to taste. Allow to cook for 30 minutes. Toward the end of cooking time, add chopped parsley and give sauce a final stir.

Carefully lay chicken breasts on top of the sauce and completely cover them in grated Parmesan. Place lid on skillet and reduce heat to low. Allow to simmer until cheese is melted and chicken is thoroughly heated. Add more cheese to taste.

Place cooked noodles on a plate and cover with sauce. Place chicken breast on top and sprinkle with more parsley. Serve immediately.

Plum Galette

Dsc_4109

Plums were a good deal at costco this week, so i went searching for a plum recipe!  I came across this one twice, in two different places – so it seemed like a must-try.  For you Santa Cruz folks, you might recall the fantastic pear and almond galette at Gayle's bakery?  This is a close second!  The only drawback?  Sliced plums take on a strange cockroach-like appearance when spread apart.  I was willing to overlook this disturbing fact in order to enjoy the deliciousness of this dessert. 

Serves 8

  • 2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for rolling
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup ice water
  • 1/4 cup whole, skin-on almonds, toasted
  • 5 to 6 plums, halved, pitted, and sliced inch thick (keep slices together)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons heavy cream

Directions

  1. In a food processor, combine 2 1/2 cups flour, butter, 1 teaspoon sugar, and salt; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup ice water. Pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed (if necessary, add up to 1/4 cup remaining ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time). Dont overmix. Remove dough from processor and shape into a disk; wrap in plastic and refrigerate 1 hour. Meanwhile, wipe bowl of food processor clean and add almonds, 3 tablespoons sugar, and 2 tablespoons flour; pulse until ground to a coarse meal.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet; sprinkle almond mixture over dough. With a spatula, transfer plums to dough; press lightly to fan out, leaving a 2-inch border. Fold edge of dough over fruit. Refrigerate 20 minutes. Brush crust with cream; sprinkle galette with 2 tablespoons sugar. Bake until crust is golden and underside is cooked through, about 70 minutes.

Vegetable Cheddar Soup

Dsc_4053

Mmmm, this was so tasty! I splurged and used a fancy aged white
cheddar for this recipe, which I think really made the meal. Try
“Seaside” at Whole Foods (it wasn’t too expensive since you only need
10oz). The Seduction Croutons were a great addition as well, if you
can’t find Seduction bread, just get a hearty loaf at the store.
Don’t feel badly about all the cheese and cream, it’s also pumped up
full of veges – which I tried to convince Andrew that all those veges
outweighed the unhealthy parts … right?!? Right.

Vegetable Cheddar Soup (Based on the recipe originally published in
Betty Crocker’s Easy Entertaining)

4 tablespoons butter
1 onion chopped
4 carrots sliced
4 celery stalks sliced
3 cups of broccoli florets
1/2 cup flour
10 ounces of sharp white cheddar grated
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups light cream
Salt & Freshly Ground Pepper to taste
Seeduction Croutons – optional. See below for how I made them.

Heat butter in large dutch oven over medium heat until melted. Cook
carrot, onion, celery, and broccoli in butter until softened. Stir
flour into the vegetable and butter mixture. Gradually stir in the
chicken broth and cream. Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring
constantly until mixture boils; boil 1 minute. Slowly stir in cheese
until melted. Top with homemade “Seeduction” croutons and serve.

Seeduction Croutons

4 small slices of Whole Foods Seeduction bread
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
Salt & Freshly Ground Pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
Slice the bread into bite sized squares.
Toss with olive olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Bake until toasted and browned.