Sunday, February 22, 2009

Yummy Easy Southwesty Soup

Yummy Easy Southwesty Soup
Jud had me get this recipe from his friends Mom. We all really like it.

2 13 oz. Cans Chicken Breast (2 cups cooked, cubed)
2 Cans White Northern Beans (or do 1 white, 1 black)
1 scant Cup mild or medium salsa
2 Cans 12 oz. chicken broth
3/4 to 1 Tablespoon cumin

2 cups colby jack cheese (cheddar works great too)

Garnish with crushed tortilla chips

Just drain and rinse the beans, and add everything but the cheese and chips. Warm about 1/2 hour on medium-low heat, simmering and stirring occasionally. Turn it down if it starts boiling. Add the cheese at the last, and stir until it is mixed in well. Or you can sprinkle it on top. Then top with chips. Makes 6 generous servings.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Skillet Lasagna

This is a great recipe for company. It's pretty simple but looks really impressive. A word to the wise though. The recipe calls for a 12-inch nonstick skillet. I used my biggest frying pan and it over flowed, so consider cutting it in half if you don't have a big skillet. I got this recipe from my favorite cookbook, The Best 30-Minute Recipe, Amy gave it to me for my wedding and I love it because it explains everything!

Skillet Lasagna (serves 4)

For the jarred tomato sauce, we like marinara, but you can use whatever type you like. Any brand of curly-edged lasagna noodles will work here, but do not use no-boil lasagna noodles. If the pasta is especially dry and shattery, you may need to add extra water to the skillet while the pasta cooks. If you can't find meatloaf mix, use 1/2 pound of ground pork. 85 percent lean ground beef and 1/2 pound ground pork. Like it spicy? Increase the amount of red pepper flakes up to 1 teaspoon. To make things go even quicker you can replace the mozzarella and Parmesan with 3/4 cup of shredded Itallian cheese blend.

1 pound meatloaf mix (see note)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 red pepper flakes
salt and ground black pepper
6 ounces curly-edged lasagna noodles
(8 noodles), broken into 2-inch pieces
1 (26-ounce) jar tomato sauce, such as marinara (about 3 cups)
2 cups water
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded (see note)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (see note)
3/4 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
1/4 cup minced fresh basil

1. Cook and drain meat: Cook meat in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat, breaking into pieces with a wooden spoon, until fat renders, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain meat and return it to skillet.
2. Saute aromatics: Stir in garlic, pepper flakes, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook over medium high heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
3. Simmer Lasagna noodles: Sprinkle broken noodles into skillet, then pour in tomato sauce and water over top. Cover and cook, stirring often and adjusting heat as needed to maintain vigorous simmer, until noodles are tender, about 20 minutes.
4. Add cheese: Off heat, stir in half of mozzarella and half of Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper. Dot heaping tablespoons of ricotta over noodles, then sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover and let stand off heat until cheese melts, 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle with basil before serving.

Making the minutes count:
Mince the garlic and measure out the pasta while the meat cooks.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Focaccia Bread

I used to work at a gourmet pizza place and have a load of great pizza receipes, but I'll start today with my favorite one. Its not pizza, but a bread that you rip pieces off and dip in oil and vinegar, marinara sauce, or ranch. It's super easy and a great (and fairly healthy) way to dress up a meal like spaghetti or lasagne.

Ingredients needed:
Rhodes Dinner Rolls
Oil (I like Olive, but any kind will work)
Fine/Coarse Kosher salt (you can use regular salt, but kosher salt makes it taste better in my opinion, plus its cheap to buy)

optional: Pesto sauce

I use Rhodes rolls, but any kind of frozen dough balls will work. There are two ways to construct the bread - as individual little ones, or rolled together as a big one. I like to do individual ones b/c then Brandon won't take all the deliciousness :). You can let the dough balls sit out all day to thaw and raise, or you can take as many as you want/need and microwave them for about two minutes, flipping them every 30 seconds or so.

1. Roll out your dough as individuals or a big ball.
When rolling, you want to make sure that the dough is thick enough that you can press down on it with a finger and you go through some dough before hitting the counter (um, thats not too clear - you just want it thick, but not too thick).
2. Place on a sprayed cookie sheet.
3. Then, using your fingers, press indents into the bread. It's not like a pizza so you don't have to give it a crust, just make sure that it looks all bumpy all over.
4. Take a spoonful of oil (I like olive, but any oil will work) and spread it around the dough. Not a whole bunch, but a good amount - you need it to give some flavor, plus it keeps the other things on the bread.
5. Take a large pinch of rosemary needles and crunch them up in your palm. Sprinkle over the bread so that there is a good spread all around.
6. Take a pinch of kosher salt (regular salt will work too, you just have to watch how much you put where) and put a smattering all around the bread. Not too much, just a good amount (if you like more salt, put on more, ect.)
7. Then bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes or so. When they come out, they should look bubbly with some of the bubble tops golden brown, and the rest a nice cooked golden color. 8. Serve with pizza sauce or ranch.

Optional other way:
Another way to make these is to use pesto sauce. Pesto sauce is a mixture of basil, sometimes garlic, and oil. It's green, it smells really good, but when you use it it looks like bird crap or something equally nasty. But its delicious. And I'm positive it'll be at the grocery store.

When using pesto sauce, follow steps 1-3 the same, but instead of the other ingredients, just spread around a spoonful of pesto so there is a good amount everywhere. Cook the same until the edges are golden-brown, and voila!

Sorry these instructions aren't so exact. Basically, this is a "make it however you like it" sort of receipe. You can put garlic or onions or whatever on the focaccia to make it amazing for you. Good Luck!

Buttercream Frosting

Just in time for Valentine's Day!

I hate store bought frosting in those little tubs. It's loaded with trans fat, not to mention I just don't like the way it tastes. Instead using those frostings, I use this receipe to make my own that tastes SO much better.

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter/margarine (should be soft, not runny)
Mix together
1 tsp vanilla flavoring
Mix in
6 cups powdered sugar
Mix in one or two cups at a time to prevent mess :)
The mixture should be dry and crumbly. If it's runny, add more sugar to firm up a little at a time. If it is a pretty smooth consistency, then you can omit the next step as well.
3 tbsp milk

Then, add food coloring for fun decorating. For chocolate frosting, after the milk, add in 3 tbsp of cocoa.