Friday, April 1, 2016

Chicken Tortilla Soup - Or is it?

Hello, Lovlies. I had a hankering for chicken tortilla soup recently. I've only ever had it once, so I'm not sure why, but what the heck. Live dangerously, make a mess in the kitchen, cook up a big batch of chicken tortilla soup. *snickers*

"Chicken" Tortilla Soup

1 T olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 poblano pepper, diced
1 can of Rotel
1 can of fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 T garlic powder
1 T chili powder
1/2 t cayenne pepper
1/2 ground cumin or 1 t cumin seeds
1/2 t ancho chili powder
1 t salt
1 quart of broth
1 t corn meal, stir in to half a cup of water to make a slurry
1 pound cooked chicken breast - use pre-cooked rotisserie chicken to save time
2 corn tortillas, sliced in to strips

Toppings: diced avocado, cilantro, shredded cheese, tortilla strips (optional), squeeze of lime

Heat the olive in a dutch oven over medium high heat. Stir in the onion, celery, carrots and pepper.


Cook for about 5 minutes until slightly softened. Add in all of the spices, Rotel, and fire roasted tomatoes. Stir to combine and add the broth or stock. Bring to a boil, lower heat and cook for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. (I used my immersion blender to puree the veggies so they weren't completely chunky.) Next, add in the cornmeal slurry. Since I'm not using corn kernels in the soup, this will add a hint of corn flavor.

When the vegetables are soft, add in the tortilla strips (they help thicken the soup), and then add in the chicken .


April Fool's! I didn't use chicken. I used 2 cans of jackfruit instead of chicken. ;) Use jackfruit in brine, not syrup. Add to the soup and cook until tender, about 30 minutes.

It's spicy, warming, and delicious.  It just happens to be vegetarian. Top with diced avocado, cilantro, shredded cheese, and a squeeze of lime. Enjoy.









Monday, March 28, 2016

Sweet Potato Quiche - an inspired post...

A Few days ago, my favorite Hotass posted a link to a video recipe. A recipe that was for quiche, but used very thinly sliced sweet potato slices layered to make the crust. One kitchen gadget that I have that I don't use as much as I should is my mandoline. The Aussie got it for me for my birthday several years back, and it makes the best thin sliced anything. Including fingers, but that's another story. Speaking of stories, this post is actually inspired by a person called North, who loves healthy eating. ;)

I pretty much always have sweet potatoes on hand, so I decided that this would be a great recipe to make for lunch. To make this, you'll need the following:

1 large sweet potato, peeled and very thinly sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 bag of baby greens (kale, spinach, etc)
2 ounces shredded cheese (I used an alpine style that I had on hand)
4 eggs
1/2 cup milk
spices: salt, pepper, garlic powder, nutmeg, cayenne
cooking spray
olive oil


Thinly slice a large sweet potato. Spray your pie pan with quick release spray, and layer the slices on the bottom and sides of the pan. Cut slices in half to form the side layer. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.


While the crust bakes, drizzle some olive oil in to a hot pan. Toss in a thinly sliced onion (I had half of a very large onion in the refrigerator). Cook over medium high heat for about 5 minutes until the onion softens. Next, add in several handfuls of greens. The video used half of a bag of baby spinach. I am not a fan of spinach these days (it makes a squeaky feeling on my teeth when I eat it) so I used a package of baby kale. In hindsight, I would chop the baby kale in to small pieces to make cutting the pie easier. Cook for 5-10 minutes, until the greens are wilted. Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and a pinch of nutmeg.


In a bowl, whisk together 4 eggs and half a cup of milk. Add in 1/2 t of salt, several grinds of black pepper (I love black pepper, so I used a lot of it), and a pinch of cayenne pepper.


Layer the greens and onions in the pie shell, distributing fairly evenly.
 

Top the greens with 2 ounces of shredded cheese.


 Pour the egg mixture over the greens and cheese. Bake for 35 minutes at 375 degrees.


Slice and enjoy!



Monday, December 7, 2015

Too Much Processed Everything Is Bad For My Health

You would think that I would think twice about some of the things I've been buying and eating lately, but I haven't been. Between not being able to work out like I would like to because of my plantar fasciitis and the recurring hamstring problems, I've not been giving too many *&%@ lately. I've been wanting comfort food and seasonal treats, and boy have I been eating them. The problem is, I didn't realize just how not comforting they have been. I have always had eczema, but these last couple of months it has been unbearable. I will do anything and everything to stop the itching, and it isn't pretty: anti-itch spray, cortisone creams, spraying with Biofreeze, you name it. I even found out the hard way that BenGay cream contains lanolin, which I am allergic to. I don't know if it always did and I didn't know, but boy, I was surprised.

The problem with eczema is that they really don't know what causes it. Long term cortisone use isn't the best thing, and truthfully, it doesn't really work all that well. Something made me think today that there might be a connection between all of the sugar and white foods I've been eating lately and how bad my itching has gotten lately. I stumbled upon an article in Natural News that indicated that there is a link between eczema and Candida overgrowth.

Eczema affects people on a wide spectrum of frequency and intensity. Some people have a mild itch and rash for a few hours, which doesn't return for weeks or months. Other people experience intense itching for long periods of time that causes them to tear their skin open resulting in blisters and oozing lesions that then crust over and create scarring.
There have been a couple of recent studies showing the link of Candida overgrowth with eczema. Some of the causes of Candida overgrowth include diets high in processed and refined diets (white sugar, white rice, white flour) along with frequent use of antibiotics. These issues create a perfect environment for Candida to flourish within our bodies. This can develop into dysbiosis and leaky gut syndrome explaining the overachieving immune responses resulting in skin inflammation, allergies and asthma.


White sugar - check (damn, and those mint chocolate cookies I got at TJs yesterday were so good)
White rice - check - had some with the curry I made this weekend
White flour - check, check, and check - dressing and rolls at Thanksgiving, bread pudding, noodles, fettuccine several times this week, Ritz crackers (don't judge), toasted bagel thin, etc.
Fermented foods - check - wine, kombucha, vinegar, pickles

I have been eating way too much of this lately, and this is part of the result:


All of those circles are areas where it is really awful. Trust me, it actually looks worse in person. So basically, my whole hand itches, my forearms underside itch, my face itches. I know I need to get my eating back on track. What is really frustrating is that I have been trying to not eat as much meat as I used to, which is one of the reason so many carb-y things have snuck back in to my diet.

I can't wait until the New Year to resolve to eat better, I need to do it now just to save my sanity and my skin. Whole foods, lots of greens and cruciferous veggies, lots of water, eating what is healthy for my whole body. I'm off to menu plan.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Chicken and Israeli Couscous Soup


The other evening I was browsing through Pinterest. This may come as a shocker, but I rarely go on Pinterest anymore. Their promoted pins and picked for you pins are so annoying. I rarely see anything my friends have pinned because of them. To my surprise, I saw a picture of a delicious looking soup made with pearl, or Israeli, couscous, chicken, and all sorts of good aromatics and spices. (I can't even write the word couscous without pronouncing it like Kahmunrah in Night At The Museum 2) The recipe was posted in full, but I tracked back to the original post at this blog. It's called "cold-fighting couscous chicken soup." I don't have a cold (knock on wood), but it sounded so good that I had to make some on this chilly (for Texas) rainy fall day, with a few tweaks. I used my pressure cooker, but this would be super easy on the stove top. (note: the aromatic pastes I use are the brand Gourmet Garden)

Chicken and Israeli Couscous Soup

1 small onion (or half a large) finely chopped
1 leek, white and light green parts, chopped (I quarter it to rinse, then chop)
2 carrots, sliced
1 rib celery, chopped
1 T garlic paste 
1 T ginger paste
1 T lemongrass paste
1 t chili paste or crushed red pepper flakes
1 t parsley paste
1 t turmeric
1 8.8 oz bag of Israeli couscous
1 boneless chicken breast, diced in small bite sized pieces
4 + cups chicken stock (I used one carton and it made a very thick soup)
1 t TrueLemon (or juice from half a lemon)
1 t TrueLime
1 t chicken base (it's like chicken stock concentrate - I used it instead of salt) or salt to taste

Set your pressure cooker to saute, drizzle some olive or canola oil in, and add your onion, carrots, celery and leeks. I let them soften for a couple of minutes while I was cutting up my chicken breast. Stir in the garlic, ginger, lemongrass, chili and parsley pastes, followed by the turmeric. Add the couscous, stir to coat with the herbs and spices. At this point, cancel from saute mode so that everything doesn't get too hot and scorch. Next, add in the chicken, chicken stock, lemon/lime juice or the True Lemon/Lime crystals (I love the convenience of these crystals) and the spoonful of chicken base or salt if you're using. Place the lid on your cooker, close up, and move the vent knob to seal. Set on high pressure for 5 minutes. Vent with quick release method when timer goes off.

Enjoy!








Thursday, October 8, 2015

Chicken And Dumplings - Comfort Food At Its Finest

We have another addition to the Instant Pot family. My Mom mentioned to my sister that she might like one as a group present for Christmas. Not being able to wait, my sister and I got her one for her birthday, and it arrived this week. She was surprised! She asked if I'd ever made chicken and dumplings. I hadn't, but I was willing to try.Truth be told, I've only ever had them once, many years ago. Man, I am glad I did, it was so delicious. This recipe is a bit of a mashup, because I am not capable of following recipes, and I refuse to use canned soup in my chicken and dumplings.

Instant Pot Chicken And Dumplings 

1 T olive oil
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
salt/pepper
1/2 onion, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
1/2 t thyme
1/2 t poultry seasoning
4 cups chicken stock
---------------
2-3 cups frozen mixed vegetables (peas, carrots, corn, green beans)
2 T flour
1/2 cup half and half
---------------
1 1/2 cups Bisquick mix
1/2 cup milk

With your Instant Pot set on saute, drizzle in your olive oil. Season your chicken with salt and pepper. Add chicken to pot and brown for about 5 minutes per side. Your chicken may break up a bit when turning over. That's fine. I used two forks to shred it a bit.  Next, add in your onion, celery, seasoning and chicken stock. Set your pot to high pressure for 12 minutes. (I like my chicken really, really done).

While the chicken is cooking mix together the Bisquick mix and milk, making sure you get all of the lumps out. The dumpling dough needs to be a little less stiff than if you were making biscuits, but not runny like pancake batter. You need a consistency where you can spoon it out and shape it in to an oval.

When your timer goes off, do a quick release of the pressure. It will take a minute or so, so take this time to mix the half and half and the flour together, making sure there are no flour lumps. This will thicken the chicken mixture, which will be really soupy when you take the lid off. Remove the lid, and stir in the half and half, and then the frozen vegetables. Next, carefully spoon the dumplings on top of the hot chicken mixture. I used one soup spoon to spoon mixture out of the bowl, and a second soup spoon to push the dough on to the chicken mixture. Space the dumplings out evenly. Put the lid back on your Instant Pot, leaving the vent open. Let the dumplings steam for about 10 minutes, then remove the lid.

Spoon out your delicious chicken and dumplings in to a bowl and enjoy!





Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Soba with Green Onions And Edamame

I am a cookbook hoarder. I admit it. *shuffles feet* Recently I posted a picture on FB of a whole stack of cookbooks that needed homes. A number of them are already with their new people. So what do I do? Go out and buy two more. In all fairness, I am trying to eat more vegetables (me, mind you, The Aussie wouldn't touch this stuff), and they are vegetarian cookbooks. They're also gorgeous!



Costco is a dangerous place for me when they have lovely cookbooks on display. I should blame them for my cookbook habit since I get so many of them there.

I've spent several evenings, before it gets too dark and before the bugs come out, browsing through these books. The pictures alone make me want to make these recipes. I joked that they make me want to cook eggplant, and I really don't like eggplant.  One picture that I thought looked so gorgeous was this one. I know the lighting wasn't great, but trust me, it is a beautiful picture.


The picture goes with the recipe for rice noodles with green onions and edamame. Strangely enough, considering I didn't care for edamame the first time I ever had them (mushy, like lima beans), I had a bag of edamame in the freezer. In fact, I had a lot of the ingredients from this recipe, so I made it during lunch today. Since I am absolutely INCAPABLE of actually following a recipe, mine looks nothing like this. In fact, I made a whole bunch of substitutions because I used what I had. It was delicious.

Soba Noodles With Green Onions, Edamame and Green Beans (inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi's recipe from Plenty More)

1 bundle of soba noodles
2 tsp oil
1 bunch green onions cut in to bite sized pieces
1/2 half Hatch chili pepper, diced (I had it, never had them before, didn't know if it was hot...)
2 "peppadew-style" peppers, diced (addictive little things, aren't they?)
1 cup edamame
1/2 cup cut green beans
1 tsp garlic paste *
1 tsp ginger paste *
2+ Tbsp cilantro paste *
1 tsp sesame oil
1 small drizzle of chili oil
2 Tbsp ponzu sauce
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp True Lime powder

* I adore the squeeze tubes from Gourmet Garden. I don't care what food snobs say, these are great.

Bring water to a boil in a medium sized sauce pan and cook the soba noodles for 5 minutes, or as directed on the package.

In a saute pan, over medium high heat, drizzle the oil in to the pan.  When it is hot, toss in the onions, edamame and green beans cook for a minute. (I used this time to dice the peppers) Stir in the chilies, garlic paste, ginger paste and the big squeeze of cilantro paste. (The original recipe calls for 1 cup of chopped cilantro. My little AeroGarden doesn't grow that much so I used my trusty squeeze tubes.) Stir to combine. You can either mix the "sauce" ingredients in a small bowl or just add them directly to the pan, like I did.

Drain the soba noodles and rinse quickly with cold water. Add them to the pan of vegetables to coat them in the sauce. Serve and enjoy!





Friday, August 21, 2015

BBQ Jackfruit Burrito

I recently my friend Galga Runner posted a link to an article about 21 food things only a San Franciscan would understand. The cover picture to the article was a humongous, gorgeous burrito, overflowing with fillings. The picture made me drool. It also made me want a burrito. Now. While I do live in Texas, I rarely go out for Tex-Mex food. The closest taco place is, in my opinion, no bueno. In a similar manner that I feel perverse pride in never having eaten a Krispy Kreme doughnut, I feel that same strange pride that I have never been to Chipotle. What's a girl to do? Raid the pantry.

Beans of some sort? Check. Rice? Leftover in the freezer, check. Avocado? Half of one in the fridge, check. Something meaty and BBQ-like? *stops short while sifting through my mind palace* Nope. Much to The Aussie's dismay, I've started eating a LOT less meat. What to use? Then I remembered. I have a can of jackfruit in the pantry. I bought it a while ago after hearing about jackfruit being used as a meat alternative because it cooks down and shreds like pulled pork. Why the heck not. I grabbed the can, my bottle of BBQ sauce, a few other goodies and got cooking.

Irony of all ironies, I didn't have any flour tortillas in the freezer so I had to run out and get some. Oh, and I forgot to use the avocado too.



BBQ Jackfruit Burrito

1 can of jackfruit (packed in water not syrup) drained, and roughly chopped
~ 1/2 cup BBQ sauce
2 T ketchup
dash of liquid smoke
1 t chili powder
1 t garlic powder

In a pan over medium heat, lightly saute the jackfruit. Pour in the BBQ sauce and ketchup, stirring to coat the jackfruit. Add a little water if it's too thick. Add the spices, stir, cover and reduce heat. Simmer until soft, stirring occasionally. This took about 30 minutes. When it was soft, I mashed it with my potato masher. It really does look like pulled pork!



While the jackfruit was cooking, I sliced up half of a bell pepper and half of an onion and sauteed until soft. Since my pressure cooker was busy, I opened a can of pinto beans (I used the kind with jalapeno) and heated them up along with the brown rice and some corn I had in the freezer. The slaw topping I used is the veggies from an Asian chopped salad kit I got at Costco and some coleslaw dressing. The cilantro and crunch of the cabbage really added to the burrito.

I have never made anything like this, but I will again. It was filling and delicious. I was so excited to eat it that I forgot the avocado and cheese. It didn't need it. Yum.