January 30, 2012

Beer and Gouda Risotto

I went through a big step in my adult life.  I had 2 of my wisdom teeth removed a few days ago. (It was actually suppose to be all 4 but don't get me started on that.  Apparently the oral surgeon needs to take over on those 2.  I'll be speaking with them tomorrow about details. I'm not very happy about having to go through it again.  Plus this has been a decent experience and I'm scared I won't get lucky again.)

Anyway,  I was very anxious about it for several reasons.  A couple of things that kept my tummy in knots were, 1: I had never had any teeth removed before,  2:  I have never had anesthesia.  I had read and heard all the horror stories.  Thankfully, I remember very little about that day as I blacked in and out.  And I'm very fortunate as I haven't felt any pain.  Mainly just an uncomfortable sensation in my jaw and the extraction areas when I laugh or talk too much. My first real smiles and laughs in days were over dinner with a good friend last night.  I put my hand over my mouth and told her to stop making me laugh or even smile.  I guess my mouth isn't ready yet. 

My only real issue has been the limited food options. I've tried them all over the last few days. (Jell-O, Pudding, Slim Fast, Applesauce, Mashed Potatoes) I must say that I've discovered that French Vanilla Slim Fast is really tasty so I may keep that as an option for breakfast for a while longer.  I am relieved I have at least one side of my mouth in working order so I can move to solid food more quickly.  However, I still have to take dainty bites and chew slowly as my jaw is still a little stiff.  I should probably eat like this anyway as it seems more ladylike.  Pfft!  Who am I kidding?  How would I ever take a big healthy bite of a cheeseburger again?  So yeah that won't work out.  

I finally started getting my energy back within 48 hours afterwards. Then after another day, I was ready to cook some real food.  I decided to attempt my first risotto.  It's soft and mushy enough to handle in my fragile state.  Plus it has beer and cheese so you can't go wrong there.   I was excited out it!   It was cheesy and creamy.  You can taste a hint of the beer and the gouda danced on my tastebuds!  Enjoy my friends!

Beer and Gouda Risotto
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, diced small
1 clove garlic, minced
1 ½ cup Aborio rice
1 bottle Shiner Bock beer
4 c chicken broth
1 c Smoked Gouda, finely grated
¼ c Fontina cheese, finely grated
2 tsp fresh chives
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil and butter in a Dutch oven or large pot and saute the onion until soft, about 8 minutes.  Add the garlic, stir for 30 seconds, then stir in the rice and let it absorb the butter and olive oil, then add the beer and stir while the rice soaks it all up.
Once the beer is absorbed, add one cup of broth. Stir until the rice absorbs it. Repeat with 1 cup at a time of the broth until rice is tender. Just make sure to stir regularly and be patient while each addition of broth absorbs.  After you’ve added all the broth, season with salt and pepper to taste.  This could take up to 30 minutes or so depending on when the rice is cooked through and no longer crunchy.
Turn the heat off and stir in the Gouda and Fontina cheese.  Chop chives and garnish each single dish with them.  Enjoy!

January 23, 2012

Chicken Tortilla Soup

My friend, Nicole made a delicious dinner and invited me over to watch our Sunday shows together.  I don't usually like Chicken Tortilla soup because most people put things in it that I don't like.  I guess I admit that I am a bit picky.  She doesn't like cilantro either so she left that out.  I really enjoyed it!  She's made other tasty treats for me before but this has to be my top favorite so far.    It's very simple to make and versatile enough to personalize it to include ingredients you enjoy.    Try it out!

1 lb chicken breasts, cooked, shredded or cubed
1 15 oz can tomato soup
1 14.5 oz can beef broth
1 14.5 oz  can chicken broth
1 can diced tomatoes with juices
1 small can of hominy with juices (you can use corn if you prefer)
1 small diced yellow onion
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 pkg (12) Count Tortillas
1 c cheddar jack cheese, shredded

Additional Garnish Options: 
sliced avocados

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Sprinkle a liberal amount of cumin, paprika, a little salt and pepper on chicken. Bake for about 25-30 minutes depending on thickness of chicken.

When chicken is cool enough to handle, either shred or cube then set aside.

On medium heat, in a large dutch oven stir together first 6 ingredients.  Season with 1/2 tsp cumin and 1/2 tsp paprika at first and then more if desired after you let it simmer. I always add more cumin. Salt and pepper if needed.

Add 3-4 tortillas, shredded and the chicken.

Lower heat, cover and simmer.

Over medium-high heat, in a large frying pan pour enough corn oil to cover bottom. Wait for oil to bubble/sizzle. Add sliced corn tortillas.  Flip when top starts to brown, about a minute. Remove from pan with fork or tongs and lay on plate covered with paper towels to soak up any oil.  Repeat until desired amount of tortilla strips are made.

Let soup simmer for 2-3 hours. Stirring every 30 minutes.

Serve in bowls. Garnish with tortilla strips, sliced avocados (optional), and shredded cheddar cheese.

January 14, 2012

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Another soup to keep you warm.  I doubt I’m the only one who loves to make soup for those brisk cool days. I can consume a lot of soup.  A LOT!  My favorite days are when it’s cold outside and we spend all day inside to cook and eat a tasty homemade soup.  My husband and I can easily go through the whole pot of delicious soup in one day.

When I was younger, I’d enjoy nothing more than a simple, undignified can of condensed cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup on cold wintery nights.  I would add just a little water and cook in the microwave.  I liked it a little thicker than most would probably eat it.  Even after I moved out on my own, my mom would keep some cans in the pantry for when I visited.  
I don’t recall the last time I even purchased or eaten a condensed soup from a can.   I’m not sure if I’d still enjoy it as much today as my tastebuds have become a little pickier.  But I am always open to taking a nostalgic trip down memory when it comes to food.   Forgive me fellow foodies but I’m being open and honest here.   I’m sure you have your own embarrassing snacks or foods that you hate to admit you have eaten either in the past or present time.   It’s okay to admit it, as we’re all friends here. 
My husband shared with me that he remembers his father eating cream of mushroom soup, straight from the can, cold.  I haven’t confirmed if this is a current or previous occurrence.  Either way, this does not surprise me and it adds just another to the long list of reasons why I love and adore my quirky father-in-law. I’ll be sure to share this recipe with the in-laws to try out or make it for them when we see them next.
2 c chicken, shredded (I used an already cooked rotisserie chicken from the store)
1 stick butter
2 celery stalks, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 medium onion, diced
¾ c flour
4 c chicken broth
2 c water
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 package quick cooking long grain wild rice with seasoning packet (I used Rice A Roni Wild Rice)
2 c heavy cream (optional if you don’t prefer a creamy consistency)

In a large pot over medium-high heat, melt butter then add the celery, carrots and onion.  Sauté the vegetables for 6-8 minutes or until they are tender.   Add flour and stir to coat vegetables.  Whisk in broth and water until smooth and all the flour is combined.  Stir in cooked chicken and salt and pepper to taste.  Add rice and seasoning packet. Bring to a boil.  Lower heat, then cover and simmer for 20 minutes.   Stir in heavy cream if you want a creamy soup. Taste and add more salt and pepper as needed.   Enjoy!

January 11, 2012

Cheeseburger Soup

It's been a little chilly in Dallas this past week and it looks like there is more to come.   It's definitely soup weather!  Here's a quick one for you that I put together after reviewing a few different recipes and combining my own ingredients.  If you're short on time, chop and prep all the veggies except the potatoes, the night before and store covered in the refrigerator until ready to use.

I'll have another soup to share soon.
Enjoy!  Stay warm friends!

1 lb ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 medium potatoes, diced (Russet or Red work fine, I left skins on)
1 green bell pepper, diced
fresh thyme from 2 sprigs
1 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
4 tbsp butter, divided
4 c chicken broth
8 oz mild or sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 1/2 c milk
1/3 c flour
salt and pepper to taste

Brown the ground beef in a large stockpot or dutch oven.   Add 1 tbsp butter, onions, carrots and celery and cook until butter melted and onions start to become translucent (5-7 minutes).  Add the potatoes, green bell pepper, thyme, parsley and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil.  Then reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.

In a separate small saucepan, melt the remaining 3 tbsp butter.  Whisk in the flour until smooth.  Then stir into the stockpot with other ingredients.  This will thicken and provide body to the soup.  Bring to a simmer.  Then stir in cheese until melted.  Slowly stir in the milk.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Cook until heated through.  Serve with crusty bread.

January 1, 2012

Cheers to a New Year and Brunch

Cheers to all!  I hope everyone had a safe celebration while ringing in the new year of 2012! 

Here is a delicious breakfast/brunch recipe I wanted to share with you to kick off the new year on the right foot.   My husband introduced me to the Dutch Baby.  Honestly, I had never tasted or even heard of it before I met him.  His parents served this delectable eggy dish for breakfast the first time I met them about 9 years ago for Christmas.  A few wonderful firsts for me happened during that visit: First time meeting his parents, first trip to New York and first time to try Dutch Baby. 

I'll give my sweet man props for being the main reason my eyes and tastebuds are now open in the culinary world.  Unlike me, at an early age, he was fortunate to be encouraged to try interesting foods and is still open to anything.  {By the way, have you heard of Porcupine Meatballs? That was yet another dish I had not heard of or eaten until I met him.  That was another interesting first I when I met his parents that same visit.  I loved it!  He laughed at me because he said it was more of a nostalgic dish his mom wanted to make but not really something he enjoyed.  I'll have to make it with my spin on it and share with you.}

Back to the focus of the post.  He and his family like to serve Dutch Baby with apple sauce and sausage links over the top.  It's a very light and versatile dish so I wanted to make it a little different.  I had a pear on hand so thought I'd try to incorporate that into it.  We loved it! 

Pear Dutch Baby
1 pear, peeled, cored and sliced thinly
1 tbsp brown sugar
6 tbsp butter, divided
4 eggs
1 c milk
2/3 c flour
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp powdered sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Add the eggs, milk, flour, 4 tablespoons melted butter, sugar and vanilla to a medium bowl and whisk until combined.  You can also use a blender or food processor if you prefer.  The batter may have a few flour chunks in it and blending will break those up.  Blend or whisk until well mixed.  Set aside.

Melt the remaining 2 tbsp of butter over medium-high heat in cast iron skillet.  Then add the pears and brown sugar. Stir to coat the pear slices in butter until the sugar is melted.  Then add the batter over the pears and immediately place the skillet in the oven.  No stirring necessary. Bake for about 30 minutes or until puffed up and golden brown and the middle is cooked through.  (Note: It will sink down once you take it out of the oven and cut into it.) Sprinkle powdered sugar and cinnamon and serve immediately. Enjoy!