Thursday, November 27, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers - Mexican Chicken Soup

I have to be honest - I wasn't all that crazy about making this soup and then having to post it on Thanksgiving of all days, but actually I really liked it. Judy from Judy’s Gross Eats selected this week's recipe and I thankful she did because I probably would have never tried it on my own (a common theme with my Barefoot Bloggers experience so far). The kids didn't really think it was all that great, but this really isn't the kind of soup that's going to please the under 12 crowd anyway. But, if you're in any age group above that, you should give this soup a try - I'm sure you'll be pleasantly surprised!

Here are my changes:
  • I took a major shortcut and used a roasted chicken from Sams and just shredded it - worked great and only cost me $4.88!
  • Used store bought chicken stock
  • Omitted the jalepenos - kiddos don't like anything even remotely spicy
  • Omitted the ground coriander seeds and just used 1/2 cup of cilantro
Mexican Chicken Soup
from Barefoot Contessa at Home
yield 6 - 8 servings

4 split (2 whole) chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
Good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chopped onions (2 onions)
1 cup chopped celery (2 stalks)
2 cups chopped carrots (4 carrots)
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
2 1/2 quarts chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes in puree, crushed
2 to 4 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves, optional
6 (6-inch) fresh white corn tortillas
For serving: sliced avocado, sour cream, grated Cheddar cheese, and tortilla chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the chicken breasts skin side up on a sheet pan. Rub with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until done. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones, and shred the meat. Cover and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the onions, celery, and carrots and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until the onions start to brown.

Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes with their puree, jalapenos, cumin, coriander, 1 tablespoon salt (depending on the saltiness of the chicken stock), 1 teaspoon pepper, and the cilantro, if using. Cut the tortillas in 1/2, then cut them crosswise into 1/2-inch strips and add to the soup. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Add the shredded chicken and season to taste.

Serve the soup hot topped with sliced avocado, a dollop of sour cream, grated Cheddar cheese, and broken tortilla chips.

You can find the list of all the other Barefoot Bloggers here.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

TWD: Thanksgiving Twofer Pie

If you're short on time this Thanksgiving (and really, who isn't), this pie may be just the thing for you - two pies for the price of one! This week's recipe was selected by Vibi of La casserole carrée (another French-Canadian blog! Don't worry about trying to read it with your high-school-French-class-only-level French language abilities, she's got Google Translate) - thanks for choosing such a perfect recipe for this week Vibi!

It's very easy to put together, especially if you buy a Pillsbury ready to use pie crust. Yep, that's right - I pulled a Sandra Lee and I used a store-bought pie crusts to make my "semi-homemade" twofer pies. For those of you who know me, you know what a monumental announcement this is - I never, ever, under almost any circumstance use refrigerated pie dough. You see, I am a bit particular when it comes to pie crusts because they are my favorite part of the pie. My husband calls me a food snob, whatever. I prefer to think of myself as highly selective - I just know what I like, and homemade pie crust is, IMHO the only way to go. With a single exception - time. Or, more specifically, the lack there of. I don't mean to keep harping on this, because I know everyone is busy, but (as usual) I have over-committed and have just simply started to run out of time. I think I have the word "sucker" tattooed across my forehead, so please do me a favor and don't ask me to sign up to help with anything because I am just incapable of saying no.

At any rate, I ended up making two of these twofer pies for my church bake sale a week or so ago. Unfortunately, this meant that I personally don't know how they tasted, but I was told that they sold right away and the Women's Club earned some money for them, so I'm happy with that. I sure hope whoever bought them enjoyed them!
Here's my little 3 year old helping with the pumpkin pie part of the recipe (as a side note - don't you love all that stuff all over the counter - I'm surprised I found room for the dang food processor!).

The recipe calls for mixing the ingredients for the pecan pie filling together, then spinkling the pecans on the pumpkin layer already in the pie pan and then pouring the filling on last. I messed up and mixed the pecans in with the filling and just spread it over the pumkin - turned out just fine.

The final product:

Can't wait to hear how the other TWD bakers liked this pie - you can check them out here.

Lots and lots of cookies are scheduled for next month, including Linzer Sables which are on tap for next Tuesday!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

TWD: Arborio Rice Pudding, Black, White (or both)

I chose the "both option" since I knew I was going to have to double the recipe anyway to satisfy my family of sweet-tooths. I was eagerly anticipating this recipe because I haven't ever made rice pudding, and hadn't even eaten it since I was oh, about twelve years old. My Mom made it for us occasionally when we were growing up, but I haven't had the opportunity to have it since. On the surface, this recipe looks extremely easy, with only a handful of ingredients even if you include the chocolate. But, as I'm sure you are aware, looks can be deceiving.

I made one change from the recipe because I wanted to and another change because I had to. For the first, I decided that I would make the "white" part white chocolate as opposed to just a simple vanilla. I was frankly surprised that this wasn't what Dorie had originally in mind when she wrote this recipe (just seemed to make sense in that the "black" part was to be chocolate). As for the necessary change, read on.

When I read over the recipe, the thought of only using a measly 1/4 cup of rice to 3 1/4 cups of milk was unsettling. I wondered if it might be a misprint, but I went ahead and trusted that Dorie knew what she was talking about. I wish I had read the comments over at the Tuesdays with Dorie site first (I will remember to do that from now on as it is always full of great advice). Suffice to say, my pudding didn't quite come out right.

The recipe says to parboil the rice for 10 minutes and then cook it in the milk and sugar mixture for 30 minutes until 80-90% of the milk had been absorbed. After 30 minutes of simmering, it tasted delicious but looked nothing like rice pudding and everything like rice soup. The rice was tender and I just thought there was no way it was going to soak up that much milk. I added white chocolate to half and bittersweet to the other half and covered them with the skin-preventing plastic wrap. By this point, it was getting late so just I threw it in the fridge for an overnight stint and hoped fervently that things would set up. Alas, this was not the case. In the morning I simply had cold rice soup.

By now, you'd think that I would have remembered to go to the TWD site to figure out what was going on, but no, I didn't. My necessary recipe change was to put each batch back into a pot and add some cornstarch (2 tbsp per pot) to thicken them (bring to a boil and cook for an additional minute). This worked like a charm but kind of diluted the flavor. Of course, it was after this additional step that I consulted my fellow TWD bakers and discovered what I did wrong. Although the recipe calls for 30 minutes of simmering, many others found that if allowed to simmer another 15 to 30 minutes more, the pudding thickened nicely.

All in all, I have to say that this rice pudding was pretty tasty, despite my doctoring with the cornstarch. The white chocolate was far and away my favorite of the two and I'll definitely be making it again and next time, I'll try to be more patient. Thanks Isabelle of Les gourmandises d’Isa (a French food blog - oh, la, la tres magnific!) for choosing this delicious recipe. Check out the other TWD bakers here.

Be sure to check in next week for Thanksgiving Twofer Pie!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers - Herb Roasted Onions

Bless you Kelly (of Baking with the Boys) for selecting such a delicious and, most importantly, easy recipe for us today! I don't know about the rest of you, but I am just flying by the seat of my pants right now because time is moving at light speed (I know, I know - scientifically, that makes no sense, but you know what I mean). So, of course, I just prepared this dish last night at 8 pm knowing full well I wasn't going to really enjoy them until the next day. But, enjoy them I will. The husband is coming home tonight from a business trip and will be here by dinner - I am planning on preparing a wonderful steak and serving these roasted onions on the side. I can hardly wait, the aroma these made while roasting was just amazing and the small sample I tried right after they were done was really delicious.

I halved this recipe and only made one substitution - I used dried thyme instead of fresh (the selection at Meijer was terrible!)

Herb Roasted Onions
from Barefoot Contessa at Home
2 red onions
1 yellow onion
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup good olive oil
1/2 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Remove the stem end of each onion and carefully slice off the brown part of the root end, leaving the root intact. Peel the onion. Stand each onion root end up on a cutting board and cut the onion in wedges through the root. Place the wedges in a bowl.

For the dressing, combine the lemon juice, mustard, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Pour the dressing over the onions and toss well.
With a slotted spoon, transfer the onions to a sheet pan, reserving the vinaigrette that remains in the bowl. Bake the onions for 30 to 45 minutes, until tender and browned. Toss the onions once during cooking. Remove from the oven, and drizzle with the reserved dressing. Sprinkle with parsley, season to taste and serve warm or at room temperature.

Again, great choice Kelly! Be sure to check out the other Barefoot Bloggers here.

Coming up for November 27th is Mexican Chicken Soup. Yep, Mexican soup on Thanksgiving - go figure (and no, of course I won't be serving it that day - I'll be making it well before then and just posting it that day).

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Back to food blogging! TWD: Kugelhopf

I was intrigued when I first read that Kugelhopf would be our recipe this week - sounds really different, doesn't it? Really, it's just a kind of brioche (egg and butter, mildly sweet bread) and, well, to be totally honest, I didn't really think a whole lot of it after the taste test. It was good, but nothing to write home about, especially for all the steps involved in making it. Boy, I feel terrible writing that. It makes me wonder if I didn't do something right - which, after looking at it once it came out of the oven, makes that possibility more likely (note the concave bottom of those slices).

Anyway, here's how it came together:

The dough after the first addition of liquid (warm milk and yeast).

Yeah, that's exactly what I thought: "Huh? What the heck is that?" Dorie describes this look of the dough "shaggy". I've made quite a bit of bread but that was a new one for me, but that's a pretty accurate description.

After the addition of the eggs and butter however, the dough got very smooth and was actually pretty wet.

The boys had fun helping me out with this recipe (well eyeing the potential goodness, anyway), especially my littlest one - he really enjoyed watching my not-so-sturdy old Kitchen Aid work so hard to mix the dough.

Here he is helping to hold that crazy thing down! At any speed above 3, it really starts to wobble and kinda inches its way all over the counter.

My blogging friend Cathy over at The Tortefeasor is asking for kitchen goodies from Santa, I think I need to hop on that bandwagon too! Surely the big guy reads blogs - right Cathy?

I went looking for a Kugelhopf pan at our kitchen store in the mall and they didn't have one. So, not wanting to drag a tired 15 month old over to Bed Bath and Beyond, I just used the standby bundt pan (don't read anything into that Santa - just the new mixer would be great!).

After refrigerating the dough overnight, it actually rose faster than I expected - only two hours, but that was in a slightly warmed oven.

And, ta da - here's how it looked fresh out of the oven. Yeah, not quite right. Not sure what I did wrong, but Dorie says that the dough might rise up over the top of the pan once in the oven, but obviously, that wasn't a problem for my little Kugelhopf.

It looked much better unmolded with a fine dusting of powdered sugar:

So bottom line, if I were to make this again, which is doubtful, I would skip a lot of those middle rises and just do one rise overnight in the fridge, cook it in the morning and serve it at a brunch. You can find the recipe over at The All-Purpose Girl (thanks, Yolanda - I hope yours turned out better than mine!) and you can check out all the other fabulous Tuesdays with Dorie bakers here.

Next week's recipe sounds equally intriguing, but I'm hoping for better results: Black, White (or both) Arborio Rice Pudding

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Twilight Mania

Okay, will this Twilight madness ever end? It's everywhere! Once I started reading the first book, I just couldn't stop. And now I'm reading them again to get ready for the movie. My husband thinks I'm just a little too gaga over Edward. What he just doesn't seem to understand is that he is my Edward - love you dear {{{kiss}}}}

I just found this at Real Mom Kitchen and immediately had to find out which character I was (though I knew I wasn't going to be Bella):

I'm a Esme! I found out through Which Twilight Female Are You? Take the quiz and find out!
Take the Quiz and Share Your Results!

So I'm Esme and I'm happy with that (I'm definitely the mother hen type). Have fun finding out who you are. And for those of you who haven't read the books, for your families' sakes, please don't until maybe after Christmas. The mania that ensues is inescapable.

Friday, November 7, 2008

It's a happy Friday!

Happy Friday everyone! I got this blog award the other day from a wonderful blogger - Sihan of Fundamentally Flawed {{{{hugs}}}}
So here's what the deal is: apparently, I've got to answer these questions (nothing like making accepting this blog award a little challenging, sheesh!).
7 Things I say most often:
  1. Knock it off!
  2. Stop whacking your sister with that _______ (most often a pint-sized broom)
  3. Practice piano!
  4. You all need to go outside and play. Now.
  5. You've got to be kidding me.
  6. I'm counting to three. One...Two.....
  7. Hurry up, we're going to be late!
7 things I did before
  1. Got 8 hours of sleep consistently. I can't remember anything else (sleep deprivation wrecks havoc on the brain).

7 things I do now (I'm assuming that most people don't want to hear about diapers and laundry, but there's not much else going on right now....this may be a short list)

  1. Teach 5th grade Sunday School
  2. Read what I like to call "brain-candy" books (no time or energy for heavy stuff) - the Twilight Saga is my current obsession.
  3. Training to do the Disney Half Marathon in January (only 9 very short weeks away - yikes!)
  4. Dream about escaping with my husband to somewhere warm and tropical

7 Things I want to do

  1. See number 4 from above.
  2. Go back to school to get my Masters Degree (in what, I have no idea)
  3. Learn to crochet
  4. Get back into Scrapbooking
  5. Own a business (again, no idea what)
  6. Keep my house clean for more than 5 minutes
  7. did I mention I want a vacation?

7 that attract me to the opposite sex

  1. Sense of humor
  2. Has to be taller than I am
  3. Intelligent
  4. Honesty
  5. Loyalty
  6. Enjoys playing with kids
  7. Nice pecs doesn't hurt

7 favorite foods

  1. My Mom's Lasagna
  2. Spinach and artichoke dip
  3. Pound cake
  4. Chicago-style pizza (How did I ever live without it before I moved to Illinois???)
  5. Pistachio ice cream
  6. Pecan Pie
  7. Prime Rib with Yorkshire Pudding (our annual Christmas dinner)

7 Blogs I want to pass this award on to. These are all fantastic blogs that I've recently discovered and will revisit frequently! I know you will enjoy them, too.

  1. Pantry Revisited
  2. Everyday Cookin'
  3. Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy
  4. Nummy Kitchen
  5. The Food Librarian
  6. Living in the kitchen with Puppies
  7. Baking and Boys

Have fun playing along bloggers!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

TWD: Rugelach - better late than never

Just a quick post today. As usual, I waited until the last minute to make these and ran into family issues last night while waiting for the dough to chill. My 10 year had to make amends with her best friend and so we pulled out the Easy-Bake oven, made her a sugar cookie and my daughter and I delivered it (with a long note of apology). Problem solved, best friends again, all is right with the world.

So we rescued the friendship, but I didn't get around to finishing the Rugelach until today.

I used apricot preserves, dried cherries and white chocolate chips to make these and the flavors came together beautifully. In the recipe, Dorie suggests cutting the rolled out dough into 4 squares and cutting those into triangles. I just ended up cutting it up like a pizza and ended up with 12 slices for each round of dough - so only 24 cookies. I didn't think these were extra large, but maybe my eyes, and tummy, like the bigger size (I'm guessing my hips won't like these larger rugelach though :-)

I was successful in stowing these in the freezer (except for the one I had for purely R&D purposes, of course) and plan on pulling them out for Christmas. Check out Piggy's Cooking Journal for the recipe and be sure to check on all the other TWD bakers here.