Monday, January 27, 2014

Chicken, Sausage and Bean Soup

“Baby, it’s cold outside.”  Warm up with some soup on the inside.  No offense, Mary Lee, but the best part of our last committee meeting was receiving two new recipes – this being one (thank you, Gayle!) and the barbecue shrimp that I have mentioned before but still have not posted.

The flu really knocked me out silly.  David proved to make an excellent Mr. Mom.  When I asked him to drive the kids to school again today, he replied “well now I just think you are taking advantage of me.”

Chicken, Sausage and Bean Soup

  1. 1 pound chicken tenders
  2. Salt and pepper
  3. 3/4 pound sausage (Rachael uses chorizo; I chose Polish; Gayle cooked with Italian sausage made with chicken)
  4. 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  5. 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  6. 1 medium onion, chopped
  7. 6 small red potatoes, diced
  8. 1 (15-ounce) can fire roasted chopped tomatoes (recommended: Muir Glen)
  9. 1 (15-ounce) can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  10. 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  11. 1 quart (32 oz) chicken stock
  12. Suggested garnishes: red or blue corn tortilla chips, cheese like pepper jack or smoked Cheddar, avocado, chopped scallions, chopped cilantro or fresh thyme leaves

Preheat medium/large soup pot over medium-high heat.

Chop raw chicken tenders into bite-size pieces. Wash up, then season chicken with salt and pepper. Dice chorizo. Add extra-virgin olive oil and chicken to pot. Lightly brown chicken 2 minutes (I cooked until I didn’t see pink on any part of the outside of the chicken), then add the chorizo and garlic. Cook another 2 to 3 minutes, then add onions and potatoes. Cook 5 minutes, then stir in tomatoes, kidney beans, and hot sauce. Add chicken stock and bring soup to a bubble.

Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender 10-12 minutes.  Ladle soup into shallow bowls.  To serve, you can top each bowl with a generous handful of crushed tortillas and cheese and then place under the broiler in the oven to melt the cheese.  Garnish with avocados, scallions and/or herbs.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Chocolatey Chocolate Cake

The annual family get together was this past weekend and dinner was at our house on Friday.  Since I couldn’t plan the meal until Friday morning, I decided to make it simple and only try out 3 new recipes on my family.  The family was gracious as always – the meal was not ready when I thought it would be; the potato casserole spilled over and there was smoke throughout the house; the shrimp dish was intended to be an appetizer but my mismanagement of time made it part of the full meal which means that I should have bought more shrimp and I will have to make again so I can take a picture and post the recipe on this blog.  This chocolate cake was one of the 2 dessert options (the other being a raspberry clafoutis) and was inspired by Barefoot Contessa’s Beatty’s Chocolate Cake with an adjustment to the frosting. 

Every good hostess gives their guests a thoughtful and inspired party favor.  My parting gift?  The flu. 
Chocolatey Chocolate Cake
Chocolate Cake
  1. Butter or Pam, for greasing the pans
  2. 1 3/4 c all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
  3. 2 c sugar
  4. 3/4 c good cocoa powder
  5. 2 t baking soda
  6. 1 t baking powder
  7. 1 t kosher salt
  8. 1 c buttermilk
  9. 1/2 c vegetable oil
  10. 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  11. 1 t pure vanilla extract
  12. 1 c freshly brewed hot coffee

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting (from the Brown Eyed Baker)
  1. 1 c (8 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  2. 2½ c powdered sugar
  3. 1 t vanilla extract
  4. 4 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

To make the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8-inch x 2-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

To make the frosting:
Using the wire whisk attachment of your stand mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, stopping to scrape the bowl once or twice.

Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the powdered sugar. Once all of the powdered sugar is incorporated, increase the speed to medium-high and add the vanilla, mixing until incorporated. Add the melted chocolate and whip at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed to incorporate all of the chocolate.

You can store any unused buttercream in the refrigerator in an airtight container; let it come to room temperature and then give it a quick whip in the mixer before using.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Pan Fried Potatoes

A recent visit to Rusty Taco and an employee is wearing a t-shirt that reads “In queso emergency, Rusty Taco.”  Love that: a play on words and the idea that queso can solve any emergency.  Speaking of queso, did you hear that there is a Velveeta shortage due to “minor manufacturing challenges”?  What does that mean exactly and will there be enough to make some queso compuesto for watching football playoffs and the Super Bowl?

Pan Fried Potatoes
Rusty Taco serves some great food including breakfast tacos served all day.  There has actually been a lot of consuming breakfast for dinner around this place (defined as breakfast tacos with eggs, potato, bacon and cheese).  Maybe it is because it is easy or the kids act like they have won the lottery or that even David can prepare this dinner and he won't complain about it.  There’s nothing wrong with an Ore Ida tater tot, but these are so easy and delicious.

  1. Yukon white or gold potatoes (we cook 2 for tacos for a family of 5)
  2. Bacon grease or olive oil
  3. Salt

Wash potatoes and dice into bite size cubes.  Cook 3 or 4 slices of bacon in a large skillet.  Remove bacon and leave grease (if you cook more bacon, you may want to (carefully) wipe out some of the grease with a paper towel.  Add potatoes and cook over medium heat until potatoes are brown, the outside is crispy and the inside is soft and cooked through; stir frequently to ensure all sides get crispy brown.  You can substitute 2-3 T olive oil, if you prefer.  Sprinkle with a dash of salt.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Hot Corn Dip

Looking for a last minute appetizer to serve for the BCS championship game tonight (or for any of the other upcoming football playoff games)?  Give this hot corn dip a try.  I saw Ree Drummond make it while I was on the treadmill (always extra incentive to keep going so I can eat more!) and then I found similar recipes by Emeril Lagasse and Trisha Yearwood.  A thorough analysis, ingredient comparisons, and a few taste testings and this is what I got.  Enjoy and go team!!!
Hot Corn Dip
  1. 3 ½ c corn kernels (from 4-5 ears of fresh yellow or white corn or from a 16 oz bag of frozen corn)
  2. 2 T unsalted butter
  3. ½ t salt
  4. ½ c finely chopped red bell peppers
  5. 7-9 oz chopped green chiles, drained (either two 4.5 oz cans or one 7 oz can)
  6. 1-2 jalapenos, seeded and minced
  7. 2 t minced garlic
  8. ¾ c mayonnaise
  9. ¼ t cayenne
  10. 8 oz monterrey jack cheese, shredded
  11. Sharp cheddar, shredded (optional)
  12. Chips likes Fritos Scoops or Mission tortilla strips (or both)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt 1 T butter in a large heavy skillet over medium high heat.  Add the corn, salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the kernels turn golden brown, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to a bowl.  Melt another T of butter and add red peppers (you can also add in chopped green bell peppers too) about 2 minutes then add in the jalapenos, garlic and green chiles until the vegetables are softened.  Add this to the bowl with the corn.  Stir in the mayonnaise, 1 ½ c monterey jack cheese and cayenne and mix well.  Pour into an 8-inch square baking dish.  Sprinkle the remaining ½ c monterey jack cheese on top (and a little sharp cheddar cheese too, if you like).  Bake until bubbly and golden brown, 25-30 minutes.  Serve hot with chips.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Lobster and Potato Salad

Let’s be honest.  All my dad really wants for his birthday is to spend time with his grandkids and eat Butterfinger ice cream pie.  Since I have already made all 4 of those things, I will have to come up with something else to post.

I was watching Food Network and HGTV while on the treadmill the other day (before you go and think “oh, look at Anne talking about her New Year’s resolution to exercise” – I might guess that I probably started like a day before you and will no doubt stop before you too).  So back to Food Network and there is Ina having Giada over for lunch and they are eating lobster.  Hello?  Is this heaven?   My favorite Ina quote “you could cook and shell your own lobsters, but why?”  I too bought the lobster meat already ready from my fish market because if it’s good enough for Ina…  And this dish is good - even David, who isn't a big lobster eater, says so. 

Happy Birthday Dad!

Lobster and Potato Salad
  1. 1 1/2 pounds unpeeled small Yukon Gold potatoes (1 1/2-inch diameter)
  2. Kosher salt
  3. 3 T Champagne or white wine vinegar
  4. 1/2 t Dijon mustard
  5. 1/2 t minced garlic
  6. 1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
  7. Freshly ground black pepper
  8. 1/2 c good olive oil
  9. 1/4 c dry white wine
  10. 3 T drained capers
  11. 1/2 c (1/4-inch) diced celery
  12. 1/2 c (1/4-inch) diced red onion
  13. 1 1/2 pounds cooked lobster meat, 1-inch-diced
  14. 1 lemon
Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with water by 1 inch. Add 1 T salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 to 25 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes, until just tender. (I use a small bamboo skewer to test them.) Drain in a colander, cover the colander with a clean kitchen towel, and allow the potatoes to steam for 5 to 10 minutes. Cut them in quarters or halves, depending on their size, and place them in a large bowl.

Meanwhile, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, garlic, egg yolk, 2 t salt and 1 t pepper. While whisking, slowly pour in the olive oil, making an emulsion. Stir in the wine and capers. While the potatoes are still very warm, pour half the vinaigrette on the potatoes and toss them gently, allowing them to soak up the vinaigrette. Stir in the celery, red onion and lobster and add enough vinaigrette to moisten. Reserve any remaining vinaigrette. Add the zest and juice of the lemon, 2 t salt and 1 t pepper and toss carefully. (Ina adds tarragon and green onions too).  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour to allow the flavors to blend. Taste for seasonings and add more vinaigrette, if necessary. Serve at room temperature. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Chocolate Toffee

Happy New Year!!!  Hope your year ended and begins with a bang!  And what a better way to start the year than with chocolate.  My friend, Elizabeth, used to make this chocolate toffee and deliver to friends for Christmas, then she moved away and the toffee stopped (do I miss her or the toffee? J).  Luckily, she sent Christmas crunch as well as this toffee recipe. Thanks for sharing Elizabeth!!

Ellen DeGeneres ends each show with the saying “be kind to one another.”  What a modern reminder to follow the golden rule.  So as Ellen ends her show, we begin our year.  May your year be filled with kindness, grace, empathy, patience, health, joy and good food!!!    

Happy birthday Jen!!

Chocolate Toffee
  1. 1 lb (4 sticks) real butter, salted
  2. 1 lb light brown sugar
  3. 1 t vanilla
  4. 12 Hershey bars
  5. 2 c chopped pecans, divided
  6. Candy thermometer

Prepare pan (use large pan, like a jelly roll pan, 15x10 with sides or 9x13 if you want thicker toffee) – spray with Pam and then sprinkle 1 cup of chopped pecans along the bottom

Melt butter (use a thick pan to prevent burning).  Add brown sugar gradually – begin with low heat and then gradually raise to med/high.  Continuously stir (very important) until mixture reaches hard crack (on thermometer, 300 degrees).  Stir in 1 t vanilla (pull the pan off the flame).

Pour into pan over pecans (you will have to pour over all parts of the pan, the mixture cools quickly and you won’t be able to spread the mixture).

Lay Hershey bars (smooth side up) over top; they will melt and you can use a spatula to gently smooth them over the toffee.  Sprinkle remaining 1 cup of chopped pecans over the top.

Leave overnight in refrigerator.  Break (don’t cut) into pieces.  Very yummy!

Once you add the vanilla, the last few steps happen very quickly, because the mixture will start to harden.  Make sure you have pan and everything ready - even opening the chocolate bars before you begin.