Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Salsa Stoup and Quesadillas with Avocado Smash

I was folding clothes the other day, and simultaneously flipping through channels, and I stumbled on an old episode of 30-Minute Meals with Rachel Ray and the Food Network. She was making her version of Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese...

She called it Salsa Stoup and Quesadillas with Avocado Smash.

Well, I am still on my soup kick, so I thought I'd give it a try. Not only that...but my kids LOVE salsa and quesadillas, so I figured this recipe would be a no-brainer in the "child eat-ability" category.

And, it's vegetarian...so a great way to get those veggies in my kids diet.

Rachel Ray calls this "Stoup"...because it's thicker than a soup, but not quit a stew. She's always making up funny stuff like that.

OH!! And by the way...I did not double the actual stoup recipe, but I DID double the amount of quesadillas I made. Just in case you were wondering. So this recipe is the original...if you're cooking for a crowd, then you might want to double the quesadillas as well...but leave the stoup...this makes PLENTY...

Salsa Stoup and Quesadillas

  • 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil, plus some for brushing on tortillas 
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 ribs celery, chopped with greens
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 28-ounce can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups vegetable broth or stock
  • 3 TBS chopped cilantro
  • 6 flour tortillas, 6-8inches
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 4 ounce brick Pepper Jack OR Chipolte cheese, shredded, about 1 cup
  • Sour cream, to pass at the table
1. Preheat oven to 300.

2. Heat a medium soup pot over medium-high heat. Add 2 TBS olive oil, jalapenos, bell pepper, onions, celery, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and the saute veggies 5 minutes. Add stewed tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, and stock, and bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and stir in cilantro.

3. Paint 1 side of tortillas with extra virgin olive oil and place them next to each other, oiled side down, on a large cookie sheet. Mix cheddar with scallions and divide the cheese between the tortillas evenly.

This is totally a kid-friendly-in-the-kitchen recipe...

 Top with another tortilla and top each of those with equal amounts of Pepper Jack cheese. Set the last tortillas on top and brush tops with extra virgin olive oil. Cook for 10 minutes in the oven to melt cheese and crisp tortillas. Cool quesadillas 5 minutes to set and then cut each quesadilla into 6 pieces.

Pre-baked quesadillas...

Avocado Smash

  • 1 avocado
  • 2 TBS chopped cilantro leaves
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 plum tomato, finely chopped
1. Remove avocado flesh to a bowl. Add cilantro and scallions. Pop the lime in the microwave for a few seconds, and squeeze the juice into the mix. Add sour cream, and season with salt and pepper. With a fork or spoon, smash up the mixture, leaving chunks for a good consistency.

2. Chop and seed the plum tomato and fold into the avocado mixture.

Cool and refreshing...

Serve bowls of stoup with 3 wedges of quesadilla along side each bowlful. Pass the Avocado Smash and the plain sour cream for topping stoup or quesadillas.

courtesy Rachel Ray's 30-Minute Meals

Friday, March 25, 2011

Quick Italian Spinach Pie

Yummy egg-y cheesy goodness...
I made this delish quiche tonight, and I thought I'd share it because it was very good and wonderfully easy...perfect for a night when you have a lot going on and don't have the time (or energy) to come up with something fancy.

The recipe is off kraftfoods.com ...my favorite go-to site for the super-easy-use-what-you've-already-got-in-your-pantry recipes.

Quick Italian Spinach Pie

  • 1 16-oz. container 2% cottage cheese (I used nonfat...because it's what I have...and it turned out great. So save yourself some fat and calories if you prefer to go nonfat as well)
  • 1 pkg. (10 oz. frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella or shredded Italian cheese
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten (I almost used Egg Beaters, but went with real eggs at the last minute...but next time I'll try it with the egg substitute. And if you use a vegetarian egg substitute, this dish would be Veggie-friendly)
  • 1 jar (7 oz.) roasted red peppers, well drained, chopped (my jar was 12 ounces...but I like roasted red peppers, so I added the whole thing)
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp, dried oregano (I used the Italian Seasoning blend because it was in front and I didn't feel like digging to the back to look for oregano...see? I wanted EASY tonight...)
1. Preheat Oven to 350. Mix all ingredients until well blended.

What it looks like...pre-baked...
2. Pour into a greased 9-inch pie pan.
3. Bake 40 minutes or until center is set.


Talk about CRAZY easy, right? It's quick, cheap, and really good...and my kids gobbled it up, because they LOVE eggs. They're not too crazy about cottage cheese, but since they couldn't TASTE the cheese through the egg-y spinach-y cheesy goodness, I felt no need to inform them.

My messy slice...
Dinner. It's served.

Now go eat.

courtesy www.kraftfoods.com

Friday, March 18, 2011

World's Best Braised Cabbage

Everyone I know makes the same thing on St. Patricks Day...Corned Beef and Cabbage with a side of Potatoes. It's a great dinner...and everyone loves turning the leftovers into Corned Beef Hash the next morning.

But it is NOT, strictly speaking, a traditional Irish dinner.

It's an American dinner...served on St. Patricks Day.

I'm not knocking it...I've made it PLENTY of times for St. Pat's. And I believe that you can make your own traditions...so why not make Corned Beef traditional?

There are many other absolutely WONDERFUL things to make for St. Patricks Day...a truly traditional dish would be Shepherd's Pie.

If you're looking for something a little more simple, you could go with Potato-Leek Soup. It's great when served with Irish Soda Bread.

But, if you're dead set at serving Corned Beef and Cabbage this year, that's more than okay. After all...I did.

Yup...that's right...I can preach about "real" food and "authentic" recipes all I want...but when it came down to choosing my St. Patricks Day dinner this year...I went with Corned Beef and Cabbage, too...

Now...I don't have to tell you how to cook a Corned Beef Brisket. The instructions are written on the blessed package, and all the seasonings are included in a little packet inside.

What I want to share with you is the BEST cabbage recipe ever.

I know, I know...you're saying: "But Shannan, it says to just add the cabbage and potatoes in with the corned beef the last 30 minutes of cooking. That's the way I've always done it>'

Yeah, yeah...I know...but we're gonna' branch out today, people. I promise you won't regret it!! Have I ever steered you wrong?

Now. most recipes I share on here are not mine. They are recipes that other, and more accomplished, chefs have created and perfected. My goal isn't to share my OWN cooking...but rather to share stuff I've tried and has proven successful with a large family.

This recipe is no different...it is from a cookbook called All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking by Molly Stevens.

Braising isn't complicated...in fact, it usually requires only a few simple ingredients. What it lacks in complexity, though, it makes up for in TIME...although many chefs "braise" in a pan on the stove in 30 minutes or less...I personally feel that there is nothing better than a meal slow-cooked for hours in the oven...and that's the style of cooking Ms. Stevens book focuses on.

World's Best Braised Cabbage

  • 1 medium head green cabbage (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 large yellow onion (about 8 ounces)
  • 1 large carrot, cut into 1/4 inch slices (now see...I was OUT of carrots, and too busy to run to the store...so I used a couple handfuls of matchstick carrots I had in the fridge. It worked...but was not the same...as I usually add 2 or 3 carrots because I like the way they taste when they're done braising. The lesson, boys and girls, is this: don't be like Shannan. Go to the store, and buy a few damn carrots)
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock or substitute Vegetable Stock to make this vegetarian...I do)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste (I use more...for a bit of a kick)
  • Coarse sea salt

1. Heat oven to 325. Lightly oil a large gratin dish or baking dish (9x13 works well).

2. Peel off and discard and bruised or ragged outer leaves from the cabbage. The cabbage should weigh close to 2 pounds...any bigger and it won't fit in the dish and won't braise beautifully. If your cabbage is too big, cut away a wedge and save it for salad. Cut the cabbage (or what's remaining if you had to trim it) into 8 wedges. Arrange the wedges in a baking dish in a single layer. They may overlap a little...but do your best to get them all to fit flat.

3. Scatter onion and carrot over the cabbage. Drizzle over the oil and the stock. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper. Cover tightly with foil, and cook in the middle of the oven for an hour. After an hour, uncover and turn cabbage with tongs...re-cover and cook for another hour. It's okay of the cabbage tries to fall apart when you turn it...it's to be expected. If it's drying out, add a few TBS stock.

4. Once the cabbage is completely tender, remove the foil, increase the oven heat to 400, and roast until vegetables begin to brown. It should take another 15 minutes. Serve warm and sprinkled with sea salt.

You will never...



boil your cabbage again.

courtesy Molly Stevens in All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking

Irish Soda Bread

I am going to tell you a secret...

...you know that delicious bread you eat on St. Patricks Day? The one with raisins and currants and orange zest and lots of other yummy goodies? The one you call Irish Soda Bread? The one that your mother, and her mother, and HER mother made...and have now passed the recipe on to you?

Well, I mean absolutely NO OFFENSE... but that IS NOT Irish Soda Bread.

Think about it...Irish Soda Bread having raisins, and currants, and orange zest, and The Holy Mother knows what else? They didn't have that stuff in Ireland!! Most people were poor!! Farmers!! Fruit was a luxury!! Until this last century, an orange was a special treat the RICH KIDS got in their Christmas stocking!! You didn't have that stuff sitting in your larder, ready to whip out to make your daily bread.

Irish Soda Bread is a humble, everyday bread. It requires only 4 very accessible ingredients. It had to be made each and every day...so it had to be fast, hearty, and CHEAP.

True...adding all those goodies makes the bread REALLY good. Almost like a dessert!! And I'm not saying you shouldn't, if that's what you want to do. After all (and I've said it before)...if it's a recipe handed down in your family...doesn't that, in itself, make it traditional? Who cares if it isn't an honest-to-goodness authentic Irish Soda Bread?

But for those of you puritans out there, I am including a REAL Irish Soda Bread recipe.

This is for a WHITE bread...it's even MORE authentic with wheat. But I made white this year...so that's what you get. Maybe next year I'll go hardcore...grind my own wheat and everything ;).

Now THIS is Soda Bread...

White Irish Soda Bread

4 cups (16 oz) of all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
14 oz (roughly) of buttermilk

Okay...before we even begin...these are ROUGH measurements. I make this bread by hand...scooping out flour and measuring by sight. I tried really hard to measure accurately this year...just for you (so don't ever say I didn't never do nothin' for ya'). If you have to add a little more buttermilk to make the dough "sticky"...then do so. If you add too much, toss in a handful of flour to dry it out. In other words...PLAY WITH IT. The more you make this...the easier and better it will get. Don't save it just for St. Patricks Day...you could make this everyday and have fresh bread at dinner each and every night.

1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease and flour a cake pan (or...if you're me and have a great round casserole with a lid...or a Le Creuset round casserole with a lid...they will work as well).

2. In a large bowl, sieve and combine all the dry ingredients.

3. Add buttermilk to form a sticky dough. Place on a floured surface and lightly knead (too much allows all the gas to escape...practice will teach you to know when enough is enough)

4. Shape into a round flat shape in the cake pan and cut a cross in the top of the dough.

5. Cover the pan with another cake pan and bake for 30 minutes (this simulates a bastible pot...or you can just use a covered round casserole). Remove cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

6. The bottom of the bread will have a hollow sound when tapped to show it's done.

7. Cover the bread in a tea towel and lightly sprinkle water on the cloth to keep the bread moist.

Don't expect it to last...

Potato-Leek Soup

As I was gearing up for St. Patricks Day, I found myself craving all the wonderful dishes that traditionally get served around this time of year.

And since I absolutely love soup, I had to share my Potato-Leek Soup...it's easy, completely vegetarian (although not vegan, thanks to the addition of cream cheese), and DELISH...

Potato Bliss in a Bowl

Potato Leek Soup

  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 4 large leeks, cut into 1/4-inch slices (about 2 lbs.)
  • 4 large russet potatoes, peeled, cubed (I actually prefer Red's or Yukons...whichever you use, you need about 4 cups worth)
  • 1-=1/4 qt. (5 cups) water
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, cubed, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives 

1. Heat oil in a large stockpot on medium heat. Add leeks; cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add potatoes, water, salt and pepper; cover. Bring to a boil; simmer on medium-low 15 to 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Cool 10 minutes.

2. Add leek mixture, in batches, to blender; blend until pureed. Return to stockpot. Whisk in cream cheese, a few cubes at a time; cook on medium heat until cream cheese is completely melted, stirring constantly.

3. Add milk; cook until heated through, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with chives.

note: this soup is not only fabulous for St. Patricks Day, but also for Passover. Simply select vkosher food products!! Consult with your rabbi if you have any questions!!

courtesy Kraft Foods

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Mushroom Cheese Rolls

Yellow Squash

So, I've made lots of interesting things from my Apron Simple Meals binder from Publix...

There was the Chicken & Pasta Primavera...

Steaming vegetables for Chicken Pasta Primavera

It was yummy and had lots of vegetable goodness...I love trying new recipes for old favorites. Sometimes the person with the recipe may do something slightly different than you normally do that puts a whole new spin on the dish...and makes it amazing.

That wasn't really the case here...but it was REALLY good...

I also tried their Beef Stew with Barley recipe...

A really delicious Beef Stew with Barley

This was EXCELLENT...and I enjoyed adding the barley to my stew, but it wasn't any better than other stew recipes I've tried.

However, the Beef Stew with Barley recipe had a side dish recipe for Mushroom Cheese Rolls. It's a very simple recipe...but it was SOOOO good, taht I HAD to share it. It made a very good, but ordinary, dinner something MORE...

Mushroom Cheese Rolls

Mushroom Cheese Rolls

  • 8 Bakery Potato Rolls
  • 1 (12x24-inch) sheet aluminum foil
  • 2 TBS unsalted butter
  • 8 oz. pre-sliced fresh baby portabellas
  • 1 tsp browning sauce
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 2 TBS fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup light mayonnaise
  • 8 slices provolone cheese
1. Preheat oven to 400F.

2. Split rolls crosswise and arrange bottom halves of rolls in center of foil sheet.

3. Preheat large saute pan on medium high for 2-3 minutes. Place butter in pan, then add mushrooms, browning sauce, salt, pepper; cook and stir 4-5 minutes or until mushrooms are well browned. Chop parsley.

I used some garlic-herb butter...cause I'm crazy like that...

Oh my oh my...

4. Combine parsley and mayonnaise; spread over both halves of rolls. Divide mushrooms evenly over bottom halves of rolls; top with 1 folded cheese slice and top halves of rolls.

Rolls are ready for 'shrooms and cheese!!

5. Make a foil pouch. Bring up foil sides; then double-fold top and ends to seal. Bake 10 minutes to melt cheese. Serve.

courtesy Publix Apron Simple Meals

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


I'm still on a soup kick...

I just can't help it!! I LOVE soup, and I want to make it ALL THE TIME!!!

I wanted a delicious vegetable soup to follow up our hearty Chicken Marbella recipe, and found this delightful gem tucked away in a Family Fun magazine, of all places. It is an entirely attainable and fairly authentic recipe for Ribolitta...a Tuscan peasant soup.

Ribolitta literally means to "boil twice" in Italian...and that's exactly what you do. Heavy on the green, this is by no means a flimsy broth with a few veggies floating around. It's an almost eat-with-a-fork vegetable sensation that explodes with flavor and gives new meaning to "eating your greens". You can easily substitute different vegetables in and out if you don't have EXACTLY what the recipe calls for.

It requires a little time to prepare...but is worth the effort. No need to double...this soup makes 10+ cups.

This soup is especially good the day after it's made...so it's lucky that the recipe yields a generous amount...you'll want leftovers.

Hearty Ribolitta


  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 leeks, sliced (white stalks only)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes (I used the kind with basil and oregano added in)
  • 1 (15.5 oz) can cannellini beans, drained
  • 1 bunch kale, ribs removed and chopped
  • 1 bunch spinach or swiss chard, chopped
  • 1/4 head savoy cabbage, chopped
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 TBS salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakeswater
  • 1 loaf stale (day old) French or Italian bread, sliced
  • Grated Parmesan
 1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.

Onions, carrots, celery, leeks, and garlic...

Add the onion, leeks, garlic, celery, and carrots; saute until onion is softened, about 5 minutes.

Sauteed veggies with the canned veggies...
 Add the tomatoes with their juice, the beans, and the remaining vegetables...

Kale, spinach, cabbage, zucchini, and potatoes...

...then season with salt, pepper, rosemary, and red pepper flakes. Add enough water to cover the vegetables (about 10-12 cups) and bring soup to a boil. Reduce the heat, then cover and simmer the soup for 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

2. Add the slices of bread (I can hear you now..."You want me to do WHAT to the bread? Isn't it for dunking...or garnish?"...No...it's not. It's part of the soup. Now do as you're told and add it in!!), then raise the heat to medium high and bring the soup to a second boil, stirring occasionally, until the bread has fully broken down, about 10-15 minutes.

Just do it, already...geez...
3. Let soup stand about 10 minutes before serving. Ladle soup into bowls, then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and drizzle with olive oil, if desired (I add the cheese, but not the extra oil...so I guess that makes me decidedly UN-Italian).

Ohhhh...yum, yum, yum...
4. If you just can't help it, serve with freshly sliced Italian or French bread...

courtesy Family Fun magazine

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Chicken Marbella

I had a STELLAR weekend this past weekend...and it started my week off great.

I felt accomplished...and excited...and energetic.

And I wanted to make a great and SUPER delicious dinner to set the mood for the whole week.

So, I started early...preparing my dish (it has to marinate 4 hours), and getting my sides ready. Everything was going swell...and I was rocking...

I went to pick up my kids, came home and put the main dish in the oven at 4 o'clock. It needs an hour to cook, meaning we'd have dinner on the table at 5:15-ish and PLENTY of time to enjoy Family Home Evening.

Then, at 4:15...my phone rang. It was the kids' dentist. They wondered how much later I'd be for my kids appointments, which were scheduled at 4:00.

Oh, crap.

I yelled cooking instructions at my husband as I hunted and extracted my children from various neighborhood haunts and threw them in the car, and proceeded to peel off like a bat out of hell (or a mother-late-for-appointments-at-the-only-dentist-in-town-who-lets-her-schedule-all-five-kids-at-once-so-she-doesn't-have-to-come-back-multiple-times-every-six-months, depending on how you like your analogies) to the dentist.

Of course, since we were late, we got sent to the back of the queue...

...of course, I forgot my phone and had no way to REFINE said instructions to my husband.

As time ticked on, I saw that we MIGHT be able to get home at a fairly decent hour...it looked as if the kids would all be done by 5:45 (Thank you, Dr. Angelakis...your staff is TRULY amazing)...

...and, of course, then I realized that they all had fluoride treatments...and wouldn't be able to eat or drink for another hour.


So, I trudged home.

My husband, being an outstanding chef in his own right, had managed dinner just fine, and was in fact whipping up a white sauce for the veggies as I walked in the door (How he knew JUST when we'd arrive will remain a mystery since I didn't have a phone to notify him. We'll chock it up to almost 14 years of Shannan-experience).

So...we re-heated the chicken, sliced the bread, and served the meal...as soon as everyone had met the time-requirement on the fluoride.

Only halfway through the meal did I remember to snap some pictures...but honestly, my pictures are usually fairly crappy due to fluorescent lighting in my house and a nice...but not AWESOME...camera that can only do SO much.

So here is an absolutely DELICIOUS recipe for Chicken Marbella...

...it's rich, and flavorful, and utterly satisfying...easily one of my favorite chicken dishes of all time. No need to double as it serves 8. We paired it with new potatoes and peas in a cream sauce and bakery fresh  Italian bread...but there are a host of sides that would complement this...one I'm especially fond of is a Mediterranean-inspired rice.


Better later than never at all...
Chicken Marbella

  • 1-1/2 cups pitted prunes
  • 1 cup Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing (I actually just made my own, using Emeril Lagasses' recipe)
  • 3/4 cup garlic-stuffed green olives, sliced (I just halve 'em)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano leaves
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 8 chicken thighs (about 3 lb.)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1. Combine first 6 ingredients; pour over chicken in a 13x9-inch baking dish. Refrigerate 4 hours to marinate, turning chicken occassionally.

2. Heat oven to 350. Drizzle wine over chicken; sprinkle with sugar.

3. Bake 1 hour or until chicken is done. Transfer chicken to serving plate; skim oil from sauce. Discard bay leaves. Drizzle sauce over chicken; top with cilantro.

Looks messy here...but is actually a very pretty dish...at least you can't accuse me of over-staging my food pictures :P

Note: Can be made the day ahead. To capture all the sauces flavor, try serving over rice or couscous.

courtesy Kraft Foods

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Chicken Ravioli Florentine with Lime-Kissed Fruit

My cute little Apron Simple Meals Recipes binder...

In Florida, we have this awesome supermarket called Publix. Publix is a very nice place to shop...especially if you have lots of coupons (which I usually do).

Nothing in the produce section is spoiled, or even overly handled.

Things are easy to find and clearly labeled.

Everyone is SUPER friendly...they answer questions, take you to items you can't find in the store instead of just pointing and saying something in a muffled voice like: "It's in aisle 9".

And they walk you to your car and unload your groceries for you, whether you ask them to or not.

They also have this cool thing where Monday through Friday, between 4 and 7pm, they do cooking demonstrations....part of their Publix Apron Simple Meals service. They have a recipe every week that's featured, and they make it and give you a taste, and then have all the ingredients you need to make the same recipe at home RIGHT THERE.

See? The recipes are cute, quick, and easy to understand...

And, all the recipes are easy, quick, and not very expensive.

It's awesome.

The recipes are free, and if you miss a few, that's okay, because they keep about 8 weeks worth on hand.

I've tried a few, but have yet to record any on my blog. This is my first...it's really good!!

I DID double this...but that's just because I feed an army.

Chicken Ravioli Florentine

  • 2-3 green onions
  • 1-1/2 cups water 
  • 1 (9 oz.) package fresh four-cheese ravioli (I actually used the frozen kind...so I needed more water and then had to drain it afterwards...but it worked fine)
  • 4 oz. pre-sliced fresh mushrooms (I bought whole Baby Bellas and sliced them myself...well, actually, I made Joseph do it...but still...it's slightly cheaper to buy whole)
  • 2 TBS butter
  • 1 (9 oz) pkg. cooked chicken strips (again...I cooked up four whole breasts and sliced myself...cheaper)
  • 1 TBS basil pesto
  • 2 TBS shredded Parmesan cheese, optional (ahhhh...no it's not...and I used A LOT more than that)
Chop green onions.

Combine water, ravioli, mushrooms, and butter in large saucepan, then cover; bring to a boil on high. When boiling, remove lid and reduce heat to medium-high; cook and stir 8-10 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. (See, if you use frozen, you'll have to use more water and then drain it off)

My butter, mushrooms, and somewhere in there, my ravioli...
Now...because I didn't use pre-cooked chicken breast strips, I had to pan-fry my own chicken and slice it up. More time consuming...less expensive...

Cluck Cluck
 Stir in onions, chicken, spinach, and pesto; cook and stir 2-3 minutes or until spinach is tender. Sprinkle with cheese and serve.

Looks good, right?

 Then, the recipe also gives you a side dish...

Lime-Kissed Fruit

  • 3 oz frozen limeade concentrate (1/2 can)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 tsp poppy seeds
  • 1-3/4 lb. produce fresh cut fruit (melons, pineapple, strawberries)
Place limeade in a salad bowl to thaw...and thaw COMPLETELY ( I didn't wait long enough, and when I added my honey...it froze it...so I had to defrost it all in the microwave. Rookie mistake.)

Whisk in honey and poppy seeds.

Add fruit; toss to coat. Chill until ready to serve.

It makes a really pretty dinner, right?
 courtesy Publix Apron Simple Meals

Cauliflower Soup

I have sung the praises of Pioneer Woman many many times. I love her web-site, I love her humor, I love that shes a fellow ginger, and I love love love her cooking. 

I love it because it calls for real ingredients like BUTTER and CREAM...

I love it beacuse unlike most recipes, I never have to double it...

And I love it because my family will always eat whatever it is.

I've been craving a lot of soups lately...I guess it's winter-withdrawals, since it's not actually cold in the Jungle. And Pioneer Woman has one I've been dying to try...her Cauliflower Soup.

I made it almost exactly as she asks, with a couple additions made out of necessity, not necessarily creativity. It came out delish and creamy and served up even better as leftovers. Here it is:

Cauliflower Soup

Cauliflower Soup

  • 1 stick butter, divided
  • 1/2 whole onion, finely diced
  • 1 whole carrot, finely diced (I actually used 2)
  • 1 stalk celery, finely diced (used 2 again)
  • 1 to 2 whole cauliflower heads, roughly chopped (again...I used 2...sense a theme here?)
  • 2 TBS fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 quarts (boxes) low-sodium chicken stock or broth
  • 6 TBS all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 2 to 4 tsp salt, to taste (went with 2)
  • 1 cup (heaping) sour cream, room temperature
 In a large saucepan or dutch oven, melt 4 TBS butter. Add onion and cook for a few minutes, or until it starts to turn brown.

Add carrots and celery and cook an additional couple minutes. Add cauliflower and parsley and stir to combine.

All the delicious veggies...

Cover and cook over low heat for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, pour in chicken stock or broth. (Now...here's where I deviated. See, I used the Swanson Chicken Stock...but there's only about 3-1/2 cups per box, so I substituted what was missing with vegetable broth. Not a big substitution...but still....)

Good stuff, but a little short...

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer.

In a medium saucepan, melt 4 TBS butter. Mix the flour with the milk and whisk to combine. Add flour-milk mixture slowly to butter, whisking constantly.

Oh my...all that butter and cream...

Remove from heat and stir in one cup of half-and-half. Add mixture to the remaining simmering soup. Allow to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes (I did 20).

Check seasoning and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

Just before serving, place sour cream  in a serving bowl or soup tureen. Add two to three ladles of hot soup into the tureen and stir to combine with the sour cream. Pour in remaining soup and stir.

When someone says "heaping"...I generally take their word for it...

Serve immediately. (Yes, ma'am!!)

It was hard to take this shot because all I wanted to do was EAT!!

This really is an amazing soup. We served it with Colombian bread from the latin bakery on the corner...it was delicious. 

Pioneer Woman recommends making it right away.
I second that.

It feels winter-y and warm...my happy place is sated...
courtesy www.thepioneerwoman.com

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Iron Chef Pembroke Pines: March 2011 - Traditional Shepherds Pie

Now see? THIS is what I wanted to make...I had my Irish on...and although I couldn't be TOTALLY authentic (where do you find rabbit in Miami...or cubed lamb for that matter?)...I did my very very best. I adapted this recipe off one from Danny Boome...making more than the recipe called for because i was going to feed the leftovers to my family for dinner AND I have a VERY deep casserole dish that is PERFECT for this...but below is the recipe in it's original form, just as Danny Boome shared it. Feel free to add and take away as you see fit...I did.

Traditional Shepherds Pie

1 TBS butter
1 TBS olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 TBS tomato paste
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground lamb
2 TBS Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 cup beef stock
1-1/2 cups garden peas (I used the frozen variety)
Cheesy Mashed Potatoes (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Add butter and oil to a large skillet on medium heat. Saute onions, carrots, celery, and garlic until tender...about 7 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Once veggies have softened and start to brown a little, add the tomato paste and mix evenly. add the beef and lamb and cook until no longer pink...about 10 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce and the beef stock. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook and simmer for another 10 minutes. Mix in peas. Transfer to an oven-proof baking dish and spread evenly. Place potatoes on top of ground meat mixture and spread evenly. Once the top has been covered, rake through with a fork so there are peaks that will brown nicely. Place dish into the preheated oven and cook about 20 minutes. Spoon out Shepherd's Pie and serve.

Cheesy Mashed Potatoes

4 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, quartered
4 TBS butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup grated mature white Cheddar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fill a large saucepan with cold water and a TBS salt. Add potatoes to the water and bring to a boil. Let potatoes cook until soft...about 20 minutes. Once the potatoes are at a desired density, drain the potatoes and place them in a saucepan for mashing. Add butter and cream and begin to mash potatoes into a semi-smooth consistency. Once at a desired texture, add the cheese and mix well. Season with salt and pepper.

Make this for St. Patricks Day or any blustery winter day you're yearning for the Emerald Isle...you'll be glad you did...

courtesy Danny Boome

Iron Chef Pembroke Pines: March 2011 - Cilantro-Avocado Potato Salad

Heidi made this yummy potato salad...I was thrilled because i love potato salads and have my fair share of recipes for them...but I don't have this recipe. She adapted it from one by Emeril Lagasse, and it was spicy and cool.

Cilantro-Avocado Potato Salad

  • 2 pounds potatoes, peeled, small diced, and cooked in boiling salted water until tender, drained
  • 1/3 cup finely minced red onions
  • 1 TBS minced garlic
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 TBS Extra-Virgin Olive oil
  • 4 firm-ripe avocados, peeled, pitted, and diced
  • 2 TBS fresh lime juice
  • 1 TBS minced jalapeno
  • 1 ounce package cilantro, leaves picked and finely chopped

Combine potatoes, onions, and garlic in a large bowl and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 3 turns pepper. Add olive oil, tossing to coat. Add the avocados, lime juice, jalapenos, and cilantro, and toss well to combine. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour before serving.

courtesy Heidi Tyler, adapted from Emeril Lagasse

Iron Chef Pembroke Pines: March 2011...Angels Ranch Mashed Potatoes

Aren't I nice? I took a picture AFTER we all dug in...I know, I know...I'm mean like that. But these were truly DELISH!! (and easy too!)

Angels Ranch Mashed Potatoes  

Scrub 7 to 10 potatoes and cut in quarters boil or pressure cook, then drain and put in mixer with :

  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 Tblsp sourcream
  • dash salt and pepper
  • 1 Tblsp minced garlic

mix to desired consistency put in serving bowl sprinkle with parsley
courtesy Angel Anderson