Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Spicy Gazpacho

It's that time of year when a big bowl of cold soup sounds great on a hot day. I would often make the original Gazpacho soup full of tomatoes, cucumbers and onions and - even though it's tasty, it just doesn't have the wow factor that it use to have. Until I came across the Spicy Gazpacho. Talk about WOW! This is a cold soup with some serious heat! If it's too hot for you, just add a dollop of sour cream and your good to go.

Spicy Gazpacho

4-5 large tomatoes, cut up and diced
2 can(s) diced tomatoes (14 oz)
1 large diced cucumber
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
1 medium jalapeno pepper, cleaned and diced
1 medium red onion, diced
2 clove garlic, minced
1 32 oz. bottle V-8 (spicy, or any variety), or tomato juice
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar or sherry or wine vinegar
2 Tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chili powder

Put the ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine. Place 1/2 the mixture in a blender and pulse until roughly chopped but not pureed. Do the same for the second half or if you like chunky, leave it and mix together with the blended mixture.
Place in the refrigerator for at least half an hour to chill before serving.
Top with you favorite topping and serve with grilled bread or croutons if preferred. Enjoy!

I only used one can of diced tomatoes - the Rotel Diced Tomatoes with Green Chili, and only half a bottle of Spicy V-8. I also think it's too much onion for the soup - next time I'm only using half an onion. I do recommend chilling the soup overnight, it gives it a full richer flavor.

(Original recipe:
http://www.justapinch.com/recipes/soup/vegetable-soup/spicy-gazpacho.html)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

White Chili

If it's cold and dreary outside and you need something hot and hearty for lunch (or supper)...It's chili time! I actually learned this recipe from when I was interning at a local restaurant. I went home and tried to remember everything I put into the dish. I then looked up recipes for the White Chili and was surprised by the many varieties of the recipe out there. After many tweaking of this recipe - this is my version of White Chili.

White Chicken Chili 
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil 
2 cloves garlic, minced 
1 ancho chili pepper, chopped (optional) 
1 Large can of diced chicken breasts OR
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, chopped
1 pkg. (43 oz.) beef stock
1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chilies 
2 Tablespoon roasted salsa verde (opt.)
2 teaspoons ground cumin  

2 teaspoons dried oregano 
1-1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper 
Salt and cracked pepper to taste
3 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) great northern beans or white kidney beans, drained 

1 cup shredded cheese - I like parmesan
Chopped jalapeno pepper (optional) 

In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook onion in oil for 10 minutes or until tender. Add garlic and ancho peppers, cook a minute longer. Add the chicken, beef stock, green chilies, salsa verde, cumin, oregano, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper to taste; bring to a boil. 

 Reduce heat to low. Add beans to saucepan. Simmer for 20-30 minutes or until heated thoroughly. Top each serving with cheese and jalapeno pepper if desired. 

 Note: The original recipe below calls for chicken broth. I find that using beef stock actually heightens the flavor of the chicken, than using plain chicken broth. Also, if you are using beef broth - you may not need to add a whole lot of spices and seasoning as broth has seasoning added. I use beef stock and add my own seasoning to taste.


This is the basic recipe I used. http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/white-chicken-chili

Friday, November 1, 2013

Tasty Halloween "Blood"

In the spirit of Halloween - I decided to post my recipe for delicious and very inexpensive Halloween blood. It doesn't stain the skin AND it doesn't stain clothes - at least it hasn't yet. It is so good that I think it would be really good to drizzle the "blood" on cupcakes or any other Halloween treats for special effects.

Delicious Halloween Blood

All it takes are these three ingredients:

Maple syrup
Coco powder
Red Indian food grade powder (I use Preema)

The maple syrup gives it body and a little color, while the red food coloring makes it a bright red. I put in coco powder for the dark flecks you see in blood and just to make the "blood" not so bright red. The nice thing about this blood is that it dries nicely, yet still looks wet and realistic. Did I mention that it taste really good? ;)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Modenese Pork Chops

I think this should be called "Mmmmmmmodenese Pork Chops". It is that good. I found this gem of a recipe when the store I shop at - had a sale on pork chops. Here I had some yummy looking pork chops, but no recipe to inspire me. Its not everyday that I buy pork chops so I wanted a recipe that will elevate this special occasion. What this recipe had done was made my husband and I a lover of pork chops. I've made this several times already and it is fast becoming a once a week meal.

Modenese Pork Chops

4 Tbsp butter
4 (1-inch thick) Pork Chops
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp crushed dried rosemary
2 cloves garlic, minced

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Cook chops in butter, turning once to brown evenly.

Pour in wine, and season with salt, pepper, rosemary, and garlic. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes, or until chops are tender. Transfer pork chops to serving plates, and spoon sauce over the meat.

That is it! So simple and yet very, very delicious! 
I only use two pork chops - since there is only my husband and I, but even with just two pork chops, there is not a whole lot of sauce left since it reduces quite a bit. If you make four chops, I'm not sure if you'll have any sauce left in the pan. Also, my husband and I love garlic, so I tend to be heavy handed when I add it. ;)

If you try out this recipe, write me back and tell me just how delicious (and simple!) this dish really is. :) 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Pita Chips

First off, yes, I know these are bad for you. I only make these on occasions and learned how to make them in Culinary school. Nice, quick and very tasty snacks. They are great with dips or salsa - or just to eat alone.

Pita Chips
A package of pita bread
Canola oil for frying
kosher salt
seasoning of choice

Cut the pita bread in wedges (as shown) and separate each of the wedge to make two pieces. I normally use white pita bread, but wheat is just as good - maybe a little chewier.

Fry a few of the pita bread wedges until golden brown - it is very quick and only takes a minute - if that. Toss them onto paper towels to drain, sprinkle with salt and seasoning - and voila! Delicious crispy pita chips!

The next time I make these, I'll be trying a 'healthier' version by baking these in the oven. We'll just see how they'll turn out.
 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Jalapeno Bites

I was watching the food network (like I'm always doing) and one of the shows featured Jalapeno Bites. It looked so good and so easy to make that I thought I'd give it a try.

1 (8-oz pkg.) cream cheese, softened
8 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated (about 2 cups)
4 Tbsp. seeded and chopped jalapeno peppers
1 large egg, beaten
3 cups dry plain breadcrumbs

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix the cream cheese, Parmesan, jalapenos and egg to form a paste. Shape into balls using about 1/2 tablespoon of paste for each. Roll the balls in the breadcrumbs. Place on an un-greased baking sheet and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm.

Notes: Instead of breadcrumbs, I used panko for a nice light crunch. Also I beat the eggs first before adding in the cream cheese, parmesan and jalapenos. I thought they were good but these have a very powerful Parmesan flavor. I really think it needed something to keep the flavor from getting too old. I think it might go really well with a marinara sauce for a dip.

For those who want to know where I got the original recipe - here it is...
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/trisha-yearwood/jalapeno-bites-recipe/index.html

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Bites

I found this gem of a recipe online. I love anything with bacon and could not resist trying this one out.

8 chicken tenders, flattened and cut into two
3-oz. cream cheese, softened
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped 
8 slices of bacon, cut in half

Spoon about a 1/2 teaspoon of cream cheese on top of each chicken tender. Sprinkle a scant 1/4 teaspoon of chopped jalapenos onto the cream cheese. Fold or roll chicken to enclose the cream cheese mixture. Wrap each roll with half a bacon strip and secure with a toothpick.

Grill until bacon is brown and crispy on both sides.

When I first made these, I did not have a grill to grill them on. I went with baking them in the oven. I also found just having plain cream cheese inside the chicken to be boring. I added a little garlic with the cream cheese and some finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese. I did not have any other cheese in the house, otherwise I might have tried some Parmesan. Still it was delicious!