Saturday, February 25, 2012

Roasted Chicken Noodle Soup

The weather here has been RIDICULOUS lately. Yesterday it was 81 degrees; this morning it was 35 degrees. Right now, it's a BEAUTIFUL 60-degrees out and sunny, but, unfortunately, the BF is coming down with the funk. So, with a crisper full of veggies that need to be used, I decided to make the BF some good old "Jewish penicillin" and whip up some homemade chicken noodle soup.

Homemade chicken noodle soup should ALWAYS start with homemade broth. Instead of using my standard chicken stock, I made a broth (stock is made from bones, broth is made from bones AND meat) by roasting a chicken with a few simple vegetables. Even better, the white meat from the roasted chicken is used in the soup itself, yielding a rich, delicious flavor. 

So, is chicken soup REALLY good for sickness? Who knows? But, even if it isn't the miracle cure for feeling crummy, it sure does taste like it! 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Roasted Pepper Chili (Vegetarian/Vegan)

I'd probably get some serious Texan stinkeye for calling this chili, since it a.) has no meat and b.) contains beans. 

That being said, vegetarians and vegans deserve a meatless chili option. And, though I am nowhere NEAR being vegetarian or vegan (I love my beef and eggs and dairy far too much), this dish has so much flavor, that you won't even miss the meat at all - I promise!

If you absolutely HAVE to have meat in your chili, though, I've got you covered

Here in Birmingham, we have a local cafe/music venue called The Bottletree. One of their most well-known and best-loved menu items is their vegan chili, which won the local news' championship chili contest. 

The flavor in this chili comes not only from the spices, but from roasting the peppers, which gives the pepper a deep, complex flavor. Also, unlike most chili recipes, which require hours of simmering, you can have this on the table in about 30 minutes. Not bad! To shortcut this dish even more, you could even use frozen vegetables instead of fresh!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tuna Pasta Salad

I eat a LOT of "salads", from macaroni salads to bean salads to chicken salads. I've always liked tuna salad OK enough, but have often wished for SOMETHING extra in it. However, I DO love tuna noodle casserole, since the addition of the pasta and peas really seems to dress up the ordinary canned tuna. 

So, when I stumbled across this recipe in my Google Reader, I knew it would be a PERFECT lunch salad for me. Balanced with protein, good fats, and carbohydrates (use wheat pasta for an even healthier option), with the cool taste and texture of pasta salad, this was insanely quick and easy to make. Better yet, I didn't even have to go to the store for any of the ingredients - even if I DID, I would have gotten out for only a few dollars!

I *DID* make a few changes to the original recipe; I omitted the raw onion and added celery. I also increased the tuna to 2 cans to make this more of a meal. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Mississippi Mud Pie

Mississippi mud pie is a classic Southern dessert, but one that people have very different ideas about. Some people consider Mississippi mud pie to be coffee ice cream covered in marshmallows, or a chocolate custard pie on a cookie crust, or even a weird brownie and fudge concoction with nuts. To me, though, Mississippi mud pie has always been a "pudding pie" on a graham cracker crust.

This is a GREAT dessert to make when you're short on time, or want to make a dessert that you can prepare with the kids. You don't need the oven or any 'special' ingredients - everything in this recipe are ingredients you probably already have in your fridge and pantry. A perfect pie for our hot and sticky Southern summers (since it's a no-bake, and you don't have to use the stove or oven), I decided to make this as a nice little Valentine's dessert for the BF. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Korokke (コロッケ) - Japanese Beef & Potato Croquettes

Korokke (コロッケ) is a Japanese yoshoku (Western influenced) croquette typically made with beef and mashed potatoes. Though a beef & potato dish doesn't seem very "Japanese" at all, it's a very popular meal and snack food.

Like most croquette recipes, this korokke recipe is easy and straightforward; simply form a patty from the ingredients, dredge in flour, dip in egg and coat with breadcrumbs. Once deep fried, korokke are typically served with tonkatsu sauce

Most recipes for korokke are very similar, varying only slightly. Some recipes call for only beef & potatoes, but many call for the addition of peas as well. I've even used a combination of frozen peas with carrots when I was out of peas (obviously, I didn't consider simply picking out just the peas).

So, let this recipe simply be a guideline and enjoy! Serve with shredded cabbage & steamed rice for a truly Japanese meal!


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Shortcut Chicken & Sausage Gumbo

With Mardi Gras just around the corner, and a cold weekend in the forecast, I was hit with a MASSIVE craving for gumbo. But, not wanting to simmer it for hours on end, I decided to see if I could "shortcut" my gumbo a bit, without losing any of the flavors that make gumbo so incredibly amazing. 

Gumbo (not to be confused with Gumbercules) is a Louisiana specialty; in fact, it's the official cuisine of the state. Gumbo consists of a strong stock, thickened with roux, filé powder (ground sassafras leaves) or okra, the trinity of Cajun/Creole vegetables (bell peppers, celery and onions), and a meat, served over rice. 

How is gumbo different from jambalaya? Basically, gumbo is a soup, served over rice, where jambalaya is a rice dish. Gumbo contains a thickener, jambalaya does not. Both are GREAT dishes, though!

Creole gumbo typically contains a shellfish, along with tomatoes and a filé roux. Cajun gumbo usually contains fowl and sausage, and a really dark roux,which provides a thinner sauce with more intense flavor. My version is a hybrid of both the Creole and Cajun styles - though I LOVE shrimp in my gumbo, I used chicken and andouille sausage instead, as the BF is, as most of you know, allergic to shellfish.

Not wanting to cut corners on flavor, but needing to trim some of the cooking time, I used a deli rotisserie chicken instead of browning the chicken myself. In standard chicken gumbo, the a whole chicken is poached to make the broth; by simply using storebought broth and a rotisserie chicken, I saved myself a stockpot and  at least an hour of time. Using frozen vegetables, flash-frozen at the height of their freshness, I managed to save some money as well as some prep time as well. 

Now, don't expect to have gumbo in the table in 30 minutes; this recipe STILL takes about 2 hours of cooking. Luckily, most of that time is spent "hands-off" and allowing the gumbo to simmer and develop its rich flavors. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Frito Pie

A few nights ago, I got hit with a MASSIVE craving for Sonic. Now, I'm already a little miffed at Sonic for getting rid of one of my favorite menu items, the Country-Fried Steak sandwich, so I was EXTRA displeased when I realized that the Frito Pie was no longer on the menu, having been replaced by a Fritos Chili Cheese WRAP

Frito Pies are nothing fancy; basically it's a pile of chili, glopped on top of Fritos corn chips, then topped with shredded cheese and diced onions. Extra popular in the Midwest (anyone recall the "King of the Hill" episode where Peggy made Frito Pie?) and at state fairs, Frito Pies are sometimes served INSIDE the chip bag as a "walking taco" or "taco in a bag".

Easy enough, right? Instead of making my usual chili, which takes HOURS, I made a quick and easy chili, so I could enjoy my Frito Pie in under an hour.

Plus, if you're ever stranded in the wilderness and need to start a fire, you can light your Fritos on fire!

Mississippi Sin (Tailgate Dip)

This dip supposedly originates from Mississippi State University, which is one of the great places in the SEC to tailgate...if you can stand the deafening roar of cowbells.

That being said, regardless of who you root for, this dip is absolutely AMAZING and addicting as well. Even better, you can make it ahead of time, and just heat it up when needed. In lieu of a casserole dish, you can even bake it in a cast iron skillet.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Pepperoni Pizza Bites

The BF and I are a house divided. He went to Auburn, I went to UAB, which is part of the Alabama school system. So, college football Saturdays can be, um, interesting to say the least. Luckily, he's not a "barner", and I'm not a "bammer", so we get along well. He rooted for the Tide in the National Championship game back in 2010, and I rooted for his Tigers in their National Championship game last yearSo, this year, we put all of our efforts toward cheering on the Tide again, watching in awe as they shut out the LSU Corn Dogs Tigers. 

Speaking of
corn dogs....

Now, the Super Bowl is here, and we're rooting for the Giants, due on my part mostly to a long-term disdain for the Patriots, specifically Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. I decided to make some of my beloved pimento cheese, several dips for snacking on, and pepperoni pizza bites!

These can be made and frozen ahead of time, but are super easy to make on the spot as well. This recipe makes quite a bit, so I recommend using three disposable foil pie pans. 

You can substitute any filling in these for the pepperoni; if you do decide on a different meat, just make sure that the meat is already cooked. You can also use bell peppers, black olive, or anything you prefer!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Mini Corn Dog Muffins

For those of you who have never been to a state fair or attended public school, a corn dog is simply a hot dog, dipped in a cornmeal batter, cooked just the way you like them - deep fried and on a stick (seriously, click that link - you'll thank me). Honestly, even if you were home schooled or completed high school online, I'm betting you still know what a corn dog is!

As with most classic American foods, there is a lot of dispute as to exactly HOW the corn dog came to be, but it IS known that it came about in the 1920s. 

So bad, but SOOOOOOO good. And damn near impossible to make at home without a deep fryer, a burn kit, and some industrial degreaser. It's sad to me that the corn dog always gets relegated to the kids menu at most restaurants. 

So, not wanting to risk skin grafts, but still craving corn dogs and wanting to make something a little more "finger friendly" for the big game, I decided to make mini corn dog muffins; best of all, they're baked instead of deep fried, but still have ALL the flavor of corn dogs, from the slightly sweet cornmeal batter, to the all-beef (ALWAYS) hot dogs. Perfect for parties, potlucks, and, of course, anytime you crave a corn dog but don't want to get one of those soggy, frozen/microwaveable abominations

FYI: This is one of the only times that it's ok to add sugar to your cornbread mix. :D

Black-Eyed Pea "Hummus" (Vegetarian/Vegan)

It's no secret that I LOVE black-eyed peas. On this blog, I've posted several recipes for black-eyed peas, from slow-cooker black-eyed peas with smoked sausage to Mom's Texas caviar. I almost always have cans of black-eyed peas in the kitchen at any given time, and, with everything I'm making for the Super Bowl, I figured it'd be nice to have a healthier (as well as vegetarian/vegan!) option on the table.

Technically, hummus isn't hummus unless it's made of chickpeas, and here I am using black-eyed peas. So, this version gets the infamous "quotation marks".

To me, this "hummus" is like a great combination of Mediterranean food and good ol' Southern cooking. All of the basic ingredients are the same, using garlic, tahini & lemon juice; the only difference is the use of canned black-eyed peas instead of chickpeas. I used my Ninja instead of my food processor, which made this recipe easy for me to whip up in under 5 minutes.