I am so excited for this month’s Secret Recipe Club reveal, the first one of 2013! If you haven’t heard of this great ‘secret santa’ type group, you should check out their site. Gurl, you wouldn’t believe who’s blog I got this month. That’s right it was steaknpotatoeskindagurl.
Not surprisingly, the first recipes I sought out were steak recipes. Okay, would you believe that Desiree, Desi, Des didn’t actually have any steak recipes on her site? She even joked about it, her only steak reference was a guest post that she did!
I about died laughing when I realized that! So I sought out her tag cloud and next to menu planning and restaurant reviews she had plenty of chicken recipes. Desi’s White Chicken Chili really stood out to me. It’s January, it’s cold, and chili is the perfect recipe to chase away cold snowy days in Montana.
Ever wish you could get a do over? Where you could magically go back in time and right the wrong? Burnt biscuits…do over. Doing 80 mph in a 65 mph zone…sorry Mr. Policeman…do over. How about that conversation where you should have had a great comeback, but it only comes to you later. Wouldn’t it be great to go back and say that clever and oh so witty comment…do over!
I haven’t figured out the whole time space continuum, not that smart. Plus I know me, I’d be just like one of those dumb asses in the movie and change all of history by recooking my biscuits, or avoiding a speeding ticket or actually being super clever and witty at the perfect time. I’m also the goof who wouldn’t be able to go back again and make it right and put history back like it should be. Time traveling would be a bad idea for me.
I may not have a time machine or a blue police box (Dr. Who reference for you non-geeks) to take me back in time (the world should thank me), but I can cook and do recipes over and over. After all that’s how we perfect them.
I’m inviting you to climb in my imaginary time machine and go back nearly three years ago with me. We are going back to T KW’s first ever post. Oh how proud I was of that! I put my little WordPress blog together, took step by step pictures (I just got my brand new Nikon D5000 and I was photo crazy) (I also need to point out here that I thought a better camera would take better pictures, I gave no credit to the person taking the photos) and with a push of a button…err more of a click of a mouse I was published!
Anyone who’s ever blogged knows the feeling I’m talking about. My poor co-workers, I made every single person that I could drag into my office read my post. Oh and look at my pictures, don’t they look soooo good! Don’t you just want a bowl of that creamy chicken noodle soup NOW.
Our Daring Cooks challenge this month was more like a scene from “Chopped”, contestants, open your baskets.
In basket 1 you have Parsnips, Eggplant, and Cauliflower
In basket 2 you have Balsamic Vinegar, Goat cheese and chipotle peppers
In basket 3 you have maple syrup, instant coffee, and bananas
The challenge was to pick one ingredient from each list and create a main meal from them. The challenge this month is hosted by David and Karen from Twenty-Fingered Cooking. The purpose behind this challenge was NOT to have a “Chopped” challenge, it was to inspire original…truly original recipes from a set of ingredients.
Every month I get so excited about my next Secret Recipe Club assignment. Secret what? If you haven’t already heard about the club, it’s a club where bloggers are assigned another club member’s blog. The idea is to cook one of their recipes and post on reveal day. This is the brain child of Amanda from Amanda’s Cookin’, currently there are four groups. I’m in Group C hosted by the wonderful (and patient) Angie of Big Bear’s Wife.
This month I got Rachel from The Avid Appetite. First of all I have an avid affection for alliterations, so I think the name of her blog is adorable (see how I did that)and so is Rachel. After cruising through her blog and reading the ‘about me’ section, I decided that she should rename her blog to “The Adorable Avid Appetite”. Rachel only got the cooking bug in the last few years, it took wanting to be a “kick ass” wife to get her in the kitchen. She’s been blogging her experiences and from what I could tell I think she has definitely mastered the kitchen!
I had to choose a recipe but narrowing things done is always difficult. Lucky for me, Rachel has a Weight Watchers section and since I half heartedly follow Weight Watcher’s I wanted to choose a recipe from there. One of the toughest things to manage when counting calories is cooking something fast that isn’t junk food. Rachel had posted a quick little recipe for a tortilla pizza cooked in a pan.
I recently bought a Cucina Pro tortilla maker/cooker and had not made tortillas yet (I’ve made Lefse with it) so I thought I’d make my own tortillas and have some on hand for whenever the tortilla pizza bug hit me. Unfortunately my whole wheat tortillas did not turn out right. I could wax poetic about all the failings but I’ll spare you. I was able to salvage a few and made a Mexican tortilla pizza with taco sauce and Weight Watcher’s cheese mix. Since I flubbed that one and decided it wasn’t worthy of me to share my experiment, I went back to her site; Rachel had just posted another recipe that caught my eye that included the Weight Watcher’s points.
Cheesy Chicken Tortilla Soup. Soup lover, check. Cheese lover, check. Mexican food lover, check. Zombie run lover???? You’ll have to go to her post to find out what that’s all about. I made a few changes to Rachel’s recipe to suit our families love of bold flavors and also because I didn’t have cooked chicken on hand. My recipe includes using chicken breast, seasoning them and then cooking them at the beginning.
In addition to using the green bell pepper that Rachel’s recipe called for I used some of my newest favorite vegetable, the sweet mini peppers plus a jalapeno. I set to chopping the peppers, chop, chop, push aside, new pepper, chop, chop push aside and so on, when I was done I had inadvertently made the shape of a pepper. Just for kicks I stuck a pepper stem on top and took a picture.
I’m a lazy cook for sure, most of the time I like food bold and simple to prepare. Lazy cooks are typically lazy when it come to clean-up also. I clean as I go because I detest a giant mess at the end, that being said I minimalize the amount of dirty dishes I make. One of the little tricks I use is by making an inverted lid a plate. In this case I cooked the chicken and needed to set it aside for later. Maybe not the most brilliant kitchen tip ever, or maybe it is for the other lazy cooks out there..
I used light butter versus margarine and fat free half and half. The only other changes were the addition of cumin and smoked paprika and I used blue corn tortilla chips and cilantro for garnish (none of which change the Points Plus value). Very festive!
The soup was like a Mexican Party in my mouth. Creamy and crunchy, cheesy and spicy, hearty but not heavy.
2 1/2 C reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
kosher salt to taste
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon chili powder, divided
1/2 teaspoon cumin, divided
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika, plus extra for garnish
tortilla chips, broken into small pieces for topping
sour cream, for garnish
chopped cilantro for garnish (optional)
Sprinkle the cubed chicken breast with salt, pepper, cumin and chili powder.
In a dutch oven or other large pot, heat the oil over medium heat, add chicken and cook until chicken is done about 8 minutes (if the chicken doesn't sweat enough moisture to cook it without it sticking add a tablespoon of water as needed). Remove the chicken with a spider or slotted spoon and set aside.
Add the butter, peppers and onions to the dutch oven, saute until tender about 5 minutes. Add chili powder, cumin and smoked paprika, cook for 30 more seconds.
Whisk in the flour until combined, cook for one minute. Whisk in the chicken broth and milk and bring to a light boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the cheese and half and half. Stir until completely melted and combined.
Sir in the chicken and diced tomatoes. Season with salt, pepper. Adjust spices to suit your taste. Serve with a dollop of sour cream, crushed tortilla chips (with extra on the side) and chopped cilantro.
When I was stationed in England, I was the sergeant in charge of our Oral Surgery department. I worked with two other assistants, both of Hispanic origin. We were a great team, Dora, Gonzo and myself. Gonzo was our muscle (and eye candy); he was also the youngest so he probably got a little more (s)mothering then he cared for.
Dora was definitely a homesick Texan, more than Texas, she missed her family (and their boxers). Dora is also sentimental and a bit traditional in some ways. My home sick Texan/Mexican decided that if she couldn’t be home for the holidays and tamale making, then she would just make it happen there in England.
In the package that I received from Bella Sun Luci were julienned sun dried tomatoes and red peppers. My sun dried tomato cooking usually leans towards Mediterranean cooking, but when I saw this package with the red peppers, I went South of the Border for inspiration.
Isn’t it amazinghow small the chickens are getting these days. Who thought of ‘Toy’ chickens? Whoever did, they’re a genius. Tiny chicken legs are the perfect messy finger food. Kidding…about the ‘Toy’ chickens, not about the little ‘legs’ being the perfect messy finger food.
These little legs are the easier to eat, meatier part of the chicken wing. The nice thing about the little leg, better known as the drummette, it that they are perfect shaped to be easy to hold, provide a few small bites and you only have one bone to dispose of.
Drummettes are relatively inexpensive, they cost a little more than whole chicken wings. However. if you head over to your frozen foods section you’ll see that you can buy large bags of frozen drummettes for about the same price as fresh whole wings, and you save yourself a little work. The other nice thing about drummettes are their consistent size which makes them a lot easier to cook.
I simply fried the drummettes and covered them in a sweet chili sauce/orange marmalade sauce. Like may tiny foods, they just don’t seem to last long. One little drummette leads to another and before you know it, you have a bowlful of bones and no drummettes left.
Drummettes: Wash and dry the drummettes. Generously salt and pepper chicken. In a large frying pan, heat oil over medium, add the garlic and cook for a few minutes to infuse the oil, remove the garlic cloves to prevent burning. Add chicken to the pan and fry 20 to 25 minutes and drain on a paper towel. If you need to cook in batches, keep drummettes warm in the oven.
Sauce: In a small saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and sesame oil, cook stirring frequently for 1 minute. Add chili sauce, marmalade and soy sauce. Cook sauce until the marmalade dissolves and the sauce becomes homogenous. Keep warm until ready to serve.
When drummettes are done, toss with a little sauce and serve the extra sauce on the side.
There is so much to do between now and the up coming holidays. Especially since I hate shopping and put it off to the last moment! There is also a lot more entertaining going on this time of year (which I love) so I’ve compiled six easy appetizers to stave off starving guests.
Brie en Croȗte looks like you went through a lot of trouble but it’s actually very easy.
Caprese Kebabs are red, white and green. While they may look like the Italian flag they are also the colors of Christmas.
Crab Salad in Endive Boats, I love to use Belgian endive in place of chips. Their natural shape lends itself to be filled with something as delicious as crab salad.
Old Bay Cucumber and Shrimp Sliders were the most popular appetizer I served at the last party I attended. Party goers love shrimp, but what kept them coming back for more? They loved the sauce and couldn’t figure out exactly what was in it.
Artichoke Fillo Cups are basically artichoke dip piled into purchased fillo cups (of course you can make your own) then baked for 8 minutes and served hot. What’s nice about these cups is that you can fill them early on in the day and then bake them off just before serving.
Greek Chicken Kebabs are small bites packed with a lot of flavor! Lemon and rosemary are the star flavors accompanied with kalamata olives and feta cheese they make a pretty appetizer as well.
If these pictures have got you drooling and you want to make some, head over to my post at Pig of the Month for the recipes.
You might as well go get my crown and schedule my coronation now. I have just become the casserole queen! This casserole was so good that I could have my own network show based on this casserole alone! Seriously.
The most important criteria for a casserole is comfort. What speaks better to comfort than chicken (or turkey) and noodles, swimming in creaminess surrounded by down home goodness of corn and topped with crispy butter bread crumbs.
I combined two iconic casseroles, chicken noodle and corn for a perfect marriage. A unison so perfect that it will take you to casserole heaven. Bonus, it’s a great way to use up leftover turkey (or chicken)!
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large pot bring 8 cups of water and 2 teaspoons of salt to boil. Add noodles and gently boil for 17 minutes, drain noodles and set aside.
In the same large pot, over medium heat, melt 3 tablespoons of butter. Sauté onions and celery until the onions are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Sprinkle the flour over the the onion mixture, stir and cook for another minute. Slowly pour the milk in, stirring constantly. Bring sauce to a boil and boil for 1 minute. Turn off heat, add herbs, salt and pepper, corn, creamed corn, sour cream, chicken and noodles. Mix until well combined.
Pour casserole mixture into a greased 2 quart casserole pan. In a small bowl, pour the melted butter over the bread crumbs and mix well. Spread the bread crumbs evenly atop the casserole. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes, remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes.
When it comes to cooking, I pretty much just cook the everyday stuff. The typical American hodge podge, melting pot of meals. I cook Mexican/TexMex but don’t make my own tortillas. I cook Italian but I don’t make my own pasta. I cook French but don’t make fancy pastries. I cook German but don’t make my own sauerkraut. I cook this and that but I tend to shy away from things that I perceive complicated/above my skill level. In other words I’m a chicken in the kitchen (and kinda lazy too).
(Pictured are all teas that I have in my pantry, including the roses. The roses are a tea that I purchased in Chinatown, San Francisco.)
Which is why I’ve avoided Daring Kitchen’s Daring Cook’s Challenges. Till now. It’s time that I stopped reading them on other blogs and started doing them myself. I’m a commitment gal, if I sign-up to do something or promise to do something I do it (unless it’s too myself, read: diet and exercise). I know myself and I knew if I signed up for a challenge, I would attempt it regardless of how chicken I might feel about it.
Talk about an interesting first challenge! Sarah provided us recipes for Chinese Tea Eggs, Green Tea Soup and Beef stew (made with Rooibos tea). I was absolutely fascinated with the Chinese Tea Eggs. The seeped eggs were so unique looking, they reminded me of a stained glass. I had great success making them, it was really quite simple. I was amazed at how subtle the tea flavor was and how the Chinese 5-spice really shined through. I could have easily gobbled all of them.
I wanted to make the Green Tea Soup also but my family isn’t too keen on tofu. Soup was still on my mind, I remembered I had made a fresh Miki Soup several months ago that we all loved. I took the basis of that recipe and turned a traditional Filipino soup into a Chinese/Filipino fusion. The basis for my broth was ginger tea that I simmered with chicken and shrimp shells. Bok Choy was used for color and crunch, fish sauce was added to intensify the flavor. The finishing touch, was of course, a Chinese Tea Egg quarter.
I thought that something crunchy would be a nice accompaniment, well actually I had some left over wonton wrappers that I needed to use… a crunchy side was still a great idea. Here’s where I got creative…daring even, all on my own. No copy cat Chinese Tea Egg, no inspiration from another soup, just my own little brain cells firing away. This was a tea challenge and I wanted to incorporate tea in every aspect. Enter tea salt, you read that right, tea salt.
Here’s how my brain works: A while back I watched chopped, rose petals were part of the challenge. The contestant nuked the rose petals (to dry them), turned them into a powder, mixed it with salt = rose salt. I have tea that is made of roses. I didn’t want rose salt but I did want salt on my wonton chips. Tea is already dried. I put white tea and salt in a mini-processor and whirred them together = tea salt.
Nothing short of brilliant and daring! The wonton chips were certainly the big hit of the meal, so good that by the next day we had snacked on them until they were gone. I thought that it was interesting how tea salt looked like salt and pepper on the wonton’s, very appetizing along with being tasty.
I did discover that fresh Chinese noodles do not hold as well in broth as fresh Miki noodles which are considerably thicker. I cooked the noodles in the broth, however after a few hours in the soup they disintegrated into mush. I have adjusted my recipe to cook the noodles on the side and put them in the bowl then to pour the soup over the top to maintain the integrity of the noodles. Unfortunately I had to toss all of our leftovers, the texture was too unpalatable. But isn’t that what challenges are about? Learning.
6 eggs (any size)
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (6 gm) black tea leaves, or 4 tea bags
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (5 gm) Chinese five spice powder
1 tablespoon (5 ml) (3 gm) coarse grain salt
toasted sesame seeds, to garnish
In a large enough pot to avoid overcrowding, cover the eggs with cold water. Bring to a boil over medium heat and simmer for twelve minutes. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and keep the cooking water. With a spoon, tap the eggs all over until they are covered with small cracks. This can also be done by tapping and rolling the eggs very gently on the counter.
Return the eggs to the pan and add the tea leaves or bags, Chinese five spice powder, and salt. Cover the pan. Heat gently and simmer, covered, for one hour. Remove the pan from the heat and let the eggs cool down in the liquid for 30 minutes. Remove the eggs from the liquid. Peel one egg to check how dark it is; the others can be returned to the liquid if you wish to have the web-like pattern darker. Allow the eggs to cool fully.
To serve, peel and slice the eggs in halves or quarters. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.
Ginger Tea Soup with Chinese Noodles
1 (9 oz.) package fresh Chinese noodles
8 cups water
12 to 18 shrimp, peeled (shells reserved)
2 chicken breasts
1 tablespoon oil
1 head bok choy, chopped (stalk and greens separated)
1 medium onion, halved and sliced thinly
1/2 head garlic, minced
5 to 6 green onions, chopped (whites and greens separated)
1/2 cup fish sauce
3 to 4 ginger tea bags
Salt and pepper to taste
Chinese Tea Eggs, quartered (see recipe above)
To make broth: In a large pot bring to a boil chicken, shrimp shells and water. Turn down to a simmer, add tea bags (I used 4). Simmer until chicken breast is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Drain broth, shred chicken breast, discard shells and tea bags. Reserve the broth.
Using the same large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Sauté onions and garlic until onion is tender and transluscent. Add bok choy stems and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add chicken, broth and fish sauce, bring to a gentle boil. Add bok choy greens and shrimp, cook until shrimp is done, about 3 minutes (they will turn pink). Salt and pepper to taste.
In a separate pot, bring some water to a boil, add Chinese noodles, cook for 3 minutes. Drain noodles. To serve soup, place some noodles in a bowl, ladle soup over noodles. Garnish with Chinese Tea Egg quarter and green onion tops.
Wonton Chips with White Tea Salt
Packaged wonton wrappers
1 bag white tea
2 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
Canola oil for frying.
To make tea salt: cut open tea bag and remove tea, mix with salt. Run tea/salt mixture through a spice grinder or processor.
In a deep pan heat oil until it reaches 350°F. Cut wontons in half diagonally. Fry wontons approximately 15 seconds on each side, drain on a paper towel lined plate. Sprinkle tea salt over wontons. Store in an air tight container.