Monday, December 21, 2009
Once upon a time there was a soup. A Chicken Tortilla Soup. And it lived at a semi fast-food restaurant called Baja Fresh. The soup was not your ordinary semi fast-food fare. It was rich and dark, full of mysterious flavors and not too many chunks of vegetables. It was topped with cilantro and avocado and a wedge of lime, which as everyone knows, is The Trifecta of Mexican Cuisine. The soup was cryptic, inscrutable, an enigma.
This, friends, is not that soup.
When searching for recipes that would compare I tried to identify just what the ingredients are that make the soup so outrageously good. It's really dark, practically black. Could special something be that chipotle, the smoky little devil? This recipe calls for some basic ingredients that sounded good, in theory, and some jalepenos. So I decided to substitute chipotles in the place of the jalepenos.
I've had better ideas.
Chipotle is NOT the mystery ingredient. And this recipe calls for far too many onions. It's basically a Mexican Onion Soup which is good and all, but not The Soup.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Those are the saddest, flattest, driest little men I've seen in a long while. I think I've seen cardboard that looked more flavorful and moist. In fact, did they use Elmer's to decorate those little pieces of particle board?
Next up are The Neelys' Butter Cookies. I love this picture. Because, really, the first thing you want to be reminded of while eating cookies is... a pig.
Finally, Sunny's Crunchy Peanut Butter S'more Bites. You know what I usually do when I'm jonesing for some S'mores? I take a huge chunk of peanut butter, roll it around in some sawdust and fingernail clippings, and then make a sandwhich out of it with some Crisco. Mmm mmm good.
And I'm not even going to dignify Sandra Lee's Peppermint Dandruff Cookies with a response. You can't make me.
Did Food Network redeem themselves by including a 13th recipe for Rugelach? Hard to say. There are Hateful Raisins in them. But Ina always comes through for me in the end. At least someone at Food Network does.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
First, get some onion and garlic going. If your recipe starts this way, it's pretty much going to be a winner. Just saying. Then shred up your leftovers, so they are nice and stringy. Toss the skin. It's gross when it's cold, huh?
Add the turkey to the softened onions and add in your seasonings... I used cumin, cayenne and chili powder... a few shakes of each. Also salt and pepper. Heat the turkey through and start chopping some roma tomatoes. Add those in and let them get all melty and groovy. Then... add in a jar of tomato salsa. I'm partial to Whole Foods brand... but use whatever. And then add half a jar of green salsa. Then, add some hot sauce to your taste... We love Cholula and lots of it! Also, squeeze a lime in there and add a handful of chopped fresh cilantro.
I think at this point, you could cover all of it with turkey stock or chicken stock, heat through and call it a delicious soup. But no... keep going. Make sure to taste it right here... does it need more salt or spices or hot sauce? Good? Yes? Okay.
Then, in a small casserole, spray with with Pam and layer the bottom with tortilla chips. You could use taco shells, or tostada shells, or fry up your own chips if you want. I think this is the best way to use day old chips that you left open that have that stale chew to them. But whatever you think is best. They just have to be crunchy. On top of the layer, add half of the turkey mixture, then a layer of cheese I had half of one of those Mexican blend pre-shredded cheese bags on hand, so I used that and shredded up some aged Australian white cheddar too. Mmmm. You could use Queso Fresco or Cotija like Meseidy did, too, but you need something cheddary to glue everything together. Layer again with chips, turkey and cheese. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or so until it's bubbly and melty and you can hear it making that bubble sound. Behold....
See look... some of the corners will be kind of burnt and good. So delicious. Cut yourself a piece and serve it with some beans or rice or both... I made seasoned black beans with mine. I served it with cilantro, sour cream and chopped avocado. (I'm a California girl, I could eat avocado on a shoe and call it good.)
This is a yummy, hearty meal... it will cure your turkey leftover blues in a hurry, and it will warm you up from the inside out. It also makes great leftovers... it's spicier the next day. Easily giving this 5 stars and a dannnnnng for good measure. Enjoy!
Sunday, October 25, 2009
The easiest and best tasting salsa you've ever made. If, indeed, you've ever made salsa. Which I had not. Because it scared the chili peppers out of me. But my friend Angela makes it look so easy, and when she shared her recipe with me, I said "What the heck?!"
It's a large (28 oz.) can of diced tomatoes. 1 bunch of cilantro. 1 bunch of green onions. 2 cloves of garlic. 2 jalepenos (de-seeded and de-ribbed). 2 serrano chilies (also de-seeded and de-ribbed). Salt and pepper. That's it. Chop it up rough, and then give it a whirl.
It's not pretty, but DANG, is it good. Play with the proportions, make it your own. Give it a try!
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Legend has it that Elvis loved him some banana and peanut butter sandwiches. In honor of October being Midwestern Chic month here at Let's Get Together, I'm taking the banana and peanut butter combo and turning it upside down.
I like my banana cake like I like my men. Smooth and rich, with some naughty, naughty frosting on top.
Here's the Banana Cake recipe (I skipped the caramel sauce in favor of Nutella. I would probably skip most things in favor of Nutella). It's good. Really, really good.
4 Tbs. butter, softened
2 Tbs. Nutella
3 cups powdered sugar
2 Tbs. milk
Blend the butter and Nutella together until creamy. Alternately add the powdered sugar and milk until well blended. If you like a stiffer frosting, decrease the amount of milk. If you like your frosting to be on the softer side (which I do), increase the amount of milk.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
I had half a loaf of french bread left over from dinner, and it got a bit stale. What better to do with stale bread than to make a bread pudding? Yum! Now when I was 15 the words "bread pudding" would have filled me with pure terror, but who knew?! My mom was right. Now that I'm OLD, I like all kinds of foods I never thought I would. Except for beets. Mom's still wrong about that.
I went to The Tasty Kitchen and searched for bread pudding recipes. There were a couple to choose from, but when it came down to it I went for the chocolate (surprise!) instead of the raisins (no surprise!). This recipe has a rating of 4.07 mitts. Notice, however, that the reviews that are posted are from people who haven't actually prepared the recipe. Honestly, that blows. How can a rating system work when people flaunt the commonly accepted guidelines in such a cavalier manner, I ask you?!
It turned out okay. Nothing crazy good, but not bad. Definitely 3 stars, not no 4.07 mitts. My kids liked it, but they'll eat just about anything with a chocolate chip in it.
Monday, September 14, 2009
They are Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache. And before you squish your nose all on me at the thought of "Banana" I'm about to school you. If you think you don't like banana, then I urge you, please try these cupcakes. The banana in them merely acts as a sweet, hint of flavor that 1. enhances the chocolate and espresso, 2. Makes these cupcakes so moist and dense you would think they sopped up something tasty, and 3. doesn't really overly taste like banana, more like a underlying note of sweetness... almost like a honey flavor. The come out the most beautiful golden brown... like a chocolate chip cookie. And the ganache totally sends it over the edge.
For you normal people that enjoy a nice slice of fresh baked banana bread, these cupcakes will take that flavor payoff and RAISE you about a hundred. I mean. Seriously. Look at the inside... there's hunks of banana in these squishy pockets and those funky black flecks that show up when you bake banana (what are those anyway, like banana seeds?) Lest we forget to mention the chocolate. The CHOCOLATE that sets everything off perfectly. Ahhhh... I can't say enough.The Recipe:
4 medium sized ripe bananas, mashed but not all the way (1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar packed
1/2 cup melted butter (unsalted)
1/4 cup milk
Stir all of these together with your best wooden spoon... NO MIXER, please.
Then, the dry stuff:
1 1/2 cups AP flour
1 tsp. instant espresso (I used just over)
1 tsp. salt (I used just under.)
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips (don't use Milk Chocolate ones. Trust me.)
Make a well in the dry ingredients and stir in the wet ones. Again, please no mixer. You want this to be soft and mooshy. Not all beaten up and bruised.
This makes about 12 cupcakes, bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
Let them cool for a few minutes in the pan and then move them to a rack.
When they have cooled, make the ganache: ( I made this recipe doubled, and ended up with tons of ganache leftover, so I'm giving you the half recipe. If you want to make the whole thing and have ganache for something else, knock yourself out and double the recipe.)
1/2 cup cream
4-5 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips
Heat the cream juuuuuust to a boil, stirring gently the whole time to avoid that nasty dairy skin thing. Pour the cream over the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and stir until smooth. Even whisk, maybe. Then dip the top of each precious cupcake in the ganache and let dry on a cooling rack to catch any drips.
It's actually a super easy and quick recipe. Easily, 5 Stars... no doubt. The recipe I read called for a peanut butter frosting, but I think that it wouldn't be right to add another flavor in there... I will have to try it to be sure. I'm glad I went with my instincts on this one.
Recipe for the cake courtesy of The Noshery and the Ganache Recipe is one I remembered from something I made of Martha Stewart's, but I don't have a link. But thanks, Martha.
Happy Cupcake eating! Make these for your sweetie and I'm sure you'll get a little PG-13 action at the very least.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
When someone asks you if you want a homegrown zucchini, say "Yes." Or even "Yes please!" Or possibly even "HECK YES!" You won't regret it.
Because here's the thing about zucchini. You can make zucchini bread with it.
It's been a year or two since I visited zucchini bread. This time around I really wanted to try something different, maybe even vaguely healthy. And heaven knows, with such a gorgeous specimen I certainly have plenty of opportunity to experiment.
I've seen recipes for Chocolate Zucchini Bread, which, of course, begged for a try. But the other thing I wanted to experiment with was cutting the amount of sugar and oil that most recipes call for. So. I scoured the internet for appropriate recipes and found these likely candidates:
Smitten Kitchen's Zucchini Bread
Joy of Baking's Chocolate Zucchini Bread
BUT. I cut the amount of sugar in both recipes in half. Anything can be tasty if you add enough sugar, but you take the chance of losing the real flavor. Plus it makes my kids crazy. Also, in the Smitten Kitchen recipe I took her advice and used 1/2 applesauce. Here are the results.
I took the candidates to work with me and introduced them to the ladies. And they willingly sampled a bit of both. Here's the verdict: regular is better. The Smitten Kitchen recipe is really, really awesome. Excellent flavor and texture, even with the changes. The Chocolate Zucchini is just, well, chocolate and zucchini. It's not bad, it's just not as good as old faithful. Probably with the addition of the extra sugar it would have been a lot better, but, as I've established, that's cheating. At any rate, they're both gone, so they must have been okay.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
There's drama! There's excitement! There's a guy with a funny name! And a bow tie!
There's a chick with a tattoo! Right on her neck! OW!
There's a chick wearing a nightgown and some cowboy boots! Nice!
(Seriously. What's up with the orange face, Michael Voltaggio? It doesn't matter how many awards you've won if you glow in the dark.)
Honestly. I can't wait! Heidi doesn't know what she's missing.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Here's a salad that I made for a get together this weekend... I made it with baby spinach leaves, reeeaaallly thinly sliced golden delicious apples, and goat cheese rolled in roasted unsalted chopped pistachios and sliced on top. The dressing was a Meyer lemon vinaigrette that I made by whisking a little Meyer Lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon zest. I have this thing about Meyer Lemons lately. Anyway... summer light and refreshing, and the creaminess of the goat cheese goes really nicely with the pistachios. I think that's a peanut butter and jelly type flavor marriage there. Freeze the goat cheese, before you roll it, it is much easier to slice that way. You could easily add grilled chicken, or grilled salmon to this salad and make it a meal.
This yummy Avocado-y salad from Aida on the Food Network who amazes me with her GIANT smile... she's kind of like the Julia Roberts of the Food Network with that facial grill of hers. Click here! The only thing I really don't care for is fresh mozzarella. Maybe I just haven't ever found one that I really like, but to me it just tastes kind of flavorless. I like adding a different type of cheese, even using a regular mozzarella. You need a little bit more of a salty bite, in my opinion. One more thing, too... this recipe has wayyyyy too much oil in it. You could half it, and you'd probably be fine.
And, because cupcakes are my thang, I vote for this recipe, hands down. I want to marry it. It's Sprinkles recipe for Strawberry cupcakes. Holy. I mean. Shoot. Right? Click here!
Happy, happy. That's what you'll be.
Saturday, August 1, 2009
A long time ago, Alison and I were up late chatting on Facebook and probably debating which Depeche Mode album yielded the greatest number of Twilight related songs or something like that when all of a sudden, she sends me the link to a pie she saw on a blog called Alpine Berry. I bookmarked the recipe in the hopes that someday I would make it. A few weeks ago we went to dinner at our dear friend's house, and I made the pie and brought it to them. It was such a hit, that we sent a few pieces home to her mom and dad and brother, who incidentally happen to also be their neighbors, and moments later, the three of them called and via speakerphone in unison declared this pie the best dessert ever.
People, I'm here to tell you that this pie is insane. It's the pie of insanity. If you ever saw the movie Waitress starring Keri Russell, she would make up all these new pies and give them funny names. This is so one of those pies. My friend Lo and I make pie references when asking each other how are days are going... and we say things like "Today, I'm Moody Needing Chocolate Pie with peanut butter graham cracker crust." Or "Today I'm key lime wish it was Friday pie." This is one of those pies.
At any rate... this pie could solve the budget crisis. They should make this pie into currency. They should send this pie to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This pie might even evoke a Hands Across America type of movement. It's that good.
Enough of me yammering on... go make it! Here's the link----> Insanity Pie. Please, please, I beg you... do not use a pre made graham cracker crust. Do the heavy lifting and make one from scratch. It really makes a huge difference. Plus those pans are so dinky, you'll need room in an actual 9 inch pie pan to get the job sufficiently done.
Here is a pic of the inside, too... you know, as if you needed more encouragement.
What are you still doing here?? GO!
Monday, July 27, 2009
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Tell the one who loves you only...
I can be so warm and tender...
Call me. Don't be afraid. You can call me. Maybe it's late but just call me. Tell me and I'll be around."
Monday, July 13, 2009
Ever since Ivonne at Cream Puffs in Venice posted this recipe, I haven't been able to get it out of my head. Sure, I like potstickers, but the idea to actually sit down and make them myself had never occurred to me. But the photo haunted me. Until potstickers were the only thing I could think about. So I went to the store.
And I made some dough.
And I pinched some seams.
And I took a bad picture that can't possibly accurately represent the heaven on earth that these are because I was in too much of a hurry to eat.
You can find an excellent recipe with super detailed instructions here (it's also linked at Cream Puffs in Venice). I used ground turkey instead of pork, and because it came in a 1.25 lb. package, I doubled the dough recipe and used the whole filling recipe. It made about 50 potstickers. I cooked off about 12 and froze the rest.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
The recipe for these little darlings can be found here. As you are probably aware, it is required by allrecipes.com law that one must change a minimum of one ingredient. I'm no rebel. I used herb cream cheese and they were a huge hit. Try them. You will be famous, I guarantee!
Friday, June 26, 2009
Here's my version. It's not as pretty as hers was. She served her dish with limes sliced thinly laying on top of the enchiladas. So nice!
Great. Now I'm all hungry again, just looking at that picture.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Next she made a sandwich (ahem, PANEENO with an Italian accent) that really pissed Alison off (we texted about it at great length) because Giada went on and on about how her mom never baked her cookies but instead she made her this PANEENO with cheese, rosemary, jam, and brown sugar. You know what Giada? My mom made cookies, okay? Sometimes she even used store bought dough. So don't come at me with your gourmet sand- Errr... PANEENO and tell me that your mom never once made you cookies. I'm sure she just strolled you on down for freshly made Italian Gelato on the daily as well. Giada, I have nothing but love for you, but really. Sometimes I find myself saying things out loud like "Oh, spare me" when I watch your show.
Anyway... I thought the jam in the sandwich YEAH, I SAID SANDWICH reminded me of a Monte Cristo, which I normally love, except that they usually have vile ham on it... plus the whole batter and powdered sugar thing is a mess. I think the last time I had a Monte Cristo was at the restaurant inside Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland. Without ham, of course. I decided to make my own version, and it turned out so delicious, and it was so easy. I used my grill pan, too... since I don't have a Paneeno maker, And P.S. I thought it was Panini anyway? Her version was buttered/olive oiled bread, with fresh mozzarella, rosemary and raspberry jam. Eh... not so much with the rosemary. Ask Alison about the time she made something with rosemary and it took over her whole house. It's a funny story.
My version was buttered bread, with provolone and asiago cheese, then a few slices of oven roasted turkey and a spoonful of raspberry jam and the other slice of bread... Grill until crispy and serve with jam on the side a la the above photo. Giada and I do seemingly prefer the same brand of jam... I don't know what it is called but it's the one with the red and white gingham top that has some kind of French writing on it. What does that say Bonne Mama? Mamman? HEH? Incidentally, my other favorite jams are my friend Chucky's homemade strawberry jam and also the kind you can buy at Ikea. Unfortunately, they don't come around that often. But the mystery French Jam is great. It's like the French woman on Lost. Try the apricot, too.
To make a long story short, I have found that with most recipes, if it's gross, change it. You might end up making a new signature dish! This gets our top rating. 5 Stars for Ridiculous.
Click here for links:
Giada's My Mom Made this instead of cookies recipe
Monte Cristo Sandwich Recipe
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Here are some of my random and (partially) incoherent thoughts.
- I THINK I FREAKING LOVE THIS SHOW.
- How genius to take only 4 chefs at a time to compete against each other? This prevents any kind of personality overload, while still giving us the opportunity to get to know each chef. I did not expect these "Masters" to be so personable and funny. Just normal dudes, hanging out, sniffing pork. And with only 4 chefs preparing food, the dishes each got the attention they deserved.
- So each week they'll be revisiting past Top Chef Quickfires, you say? GENIUS, I say. To see these renowned men practically get all teary eyed because they have to prepare a dessert? For Girl Scouts?! (And knowing that even I could school Michael Schlow in the dessert department is just wicked, by the way.) It doesn't get any better than that. Unless it's...
- Cooking in someone's real live actual dorm room. Using a hot plate. Rinsing pasta in a shower. Genius.
- The "critcs?" LOVE them. They're not too salty, not too sweet. Just right. And the scoring system? Have I used the word "genius" yet? Cuz it fits.
Bravo, I'm well on my way to forgiving you for The Fashion Show. I'm still holding a little grudge, but if this show doesn't make up for it, I don't know what could.
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Here's just one example of her greatness, her fabulous Lemon Bars.
I don't have her team of handsome gents on hand to make my presentation look flawless, but you get the idea. Every once in a while I get a craving for something lemony and buttery and this is the perfect antidote. I cut the recipe in half and bake it in an 8" x 8" pan, and it works just fine. Try it, you won't be disappointed.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Take one can pre-fab baked beans (like those cheapo pork n' beans), a can of lima beans (I can never find the can, so I use frozen that have been thawed) a can of light kidney beans, and a can of butter beans. I have also used pinto beans and Northern beans, but the butter and the lima are a must. Pour them all in a drainer and rinse. Then, take the pre fab can and fill it up about 2/3 with water and save it. Trust me. Then put all the beans in a 13x9.
Cut up a package of bacon into 1-inch pieces and get it all working in a pan, almost crispy. Drain it off, and then cook a small chopped onion in the same pan. Add back the bacon, and the water from the can with all the bean can floaties in it and one cup of brown sugar. (Packed. Like I have to tell you that though. That's a major food rule. Have you ever heard anyone say, don't pack your brown sugar? Not me.) Stir for a minute and then add a 15oz can of tomato sauce. Heat for a sec, and then pour all of that on top of the beans in the 13x9 and stir. Bake for about an hour or so @ 350ish and then transfer to a crock pot on high for an hour to thicken up the sauce. Turn it down to low and eat them up. So easy and so tasty. And it makes a ton... so have people over. Grill up some hot dogs like me and Mister did. He likes just mustard, as you can see.
Feel free to add whatever you like too... the last time I made them, I added a little ketchup and then shhh... don't tell anyone, but when I transferred them to the crock pot, I added a small spoonful of the bacon grease. I know, I know. But it keeps it all copacetic.
P.S. Check out our new food hottie, too. If I were Ina I would say "T.R., These beans are so easy and delicious. How bad can that be? No really, how fabulous is that?"
Friday, May 22, 2009
I love the Pioneer Woman. I want to curl up on her front porch and live off her table scraps. I want to mosey around the ranch and name all the calves. I want to hang out with her kids and hold her sister's adorable baby. Which makes what I have to say very hard.
The recipe she posted for Hummus was yucky.
I once had Hummus at a Greek restaurant and I immediately fell in love. Store bough versions never came close to tasting the same. So when I saw her "Classic Hummus" I thought BOOYA, and I went out and bought all the ingredients. I think the ingredients themselves were right on, but the amounts she has listed are waaaaaay off. I followed the recipe exactly and ended up with cement. There's not a chance you could actually pull this recipe off in a blender. Unfortunately, I had company that evening (WHATUP PEEPS!) and couldn't really mess around with it to try to fix it up. They were good sports and ate it anyway. But there was so much left over that I decided to experiment.
I tripled the amounts of lemon juice, olive oil and water and it almost came close to what I remembered. This is what it looked like with three times the amount of liquid listed.
Still a little bit thick for my taste. Sorry, but this one is definitely not a keeper. 1 star.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Pinky's (If you know the supplier)
Toss together and roast at 400 till they start to get brown.
Serve with a grilled steak or chicken.
I'm reluctant to share it with you, though, since most of you do not have access to the secret ingredient here known as Pinky's. Pinky's is what makes it... but alas, it is only available in limited quantities, courtesy of a certain cowboy from Poteet, Texas named Armand. (Her Father in Law.) If you want some... maybe go comment on Missie's blog: HERE. And check out her darling little girls while you're there. I can't make you any promises on the availability of Pinky's though. I'm lucky enough to have some Pinky's in my pantry (that sounds so cute!) and I'll tell you, it smells amazing. But what's in it? I haven't a clue.
Thanks, Missie my love, for being our first guest and for rocking the show. Love you!
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Behold. King Arthur Flour's recipe for Cinnamon Rolls. If I can do it, so can you.