Saturday, February 27, 2010

Chickpea-Leek Soup

Soup is good. Soup is
great when our Grandpa makes it. We have been pleading with him for years to write down his recipes. But like any good cook, he says, "Oh, you know, a little bit of this and a handful of that!" Which is endearing but not helpful when you want to make great soup like him. He must have at least 50 secret soup recipes stashed. I think it's time for a soup day. I'll let him cook while I follow him around and type away.

This soup is an easy and delicious recipe I found years ago in my Outside magazine. I've just kind of adapted it over the years but figured I couldn't really post it without measurements so I googled the idea of it and was interested to find out the recipe was originally by Jamie Oliver, the "Naked Chef" on the Food Network. Wherever it came from, it's hearty and healthy, something like what my Grandpa would throw together. It actually tastes like Thanksgiving dinner in a bowl. And who wouldn't love that?

Leek and Chickpea Soup
6 large leeks cleaned and sliced roughly (an easier way to clean them is to cut off the root end and any dark green leaves, then slice down the middle and pull the layers apart to rinse. A lot of grit can be caught in the layers.)
5 cloves garlic sliced
2 T olive oil
2.5 T butter
3 cans chickpeas
5-6 c stock
3/4 c Parmesan cheese plus more for topping
salt and pepper

You will need a blender or food processor or something to mash this to bits.

Melt butter in large heavy bottomed pot, then add olive oil over med heat. Add garlic, cook until soft. Add leeks and cook until they smell good and are soft, about 10+ min. Add 3 cups of the broth and all the chickpeas. Cook for several min. to get flavors mixing. Put mixture in blender and puree until it has your desired smoothness. I like to leave some chickpeas chunky to give it some texture, but you can also make this a 100% creamy soup. I blend 2/3 of the total amount and put it back in soup pot, then add as much of the left over broth as I need to get my desired texture. Add Parmesan and cook together for 30 min or more. Salt and pepper to taste, but only after you add the cheese, or it may get to be too salty. Serve piping hot with some more cheese on top. Makes 6 meal sized servings.

For simple stock I throw the following in a pot and bring to a boil, then simmer for hours. Well worth very little effort! If you're not up for using it right away just freeze it. Those Wegmans rotisserie chicken bones make great broth.

Simple Stock:
In large pot...
Bones, meat leftovers from 1 or 2 roasted chickens or 1 turkey
Large onion slice in half
4-5 garlic cloves peeled and smashed or not
3 carrots
2 celery stalks
salt and pepper
bundle of thyme (or any other fresh herb you like, tied together for easy trashing)
2 bay leaves if you have them
Water to cover ingredients by an inch or so
Bring to boil over high heat, stir, cover, simmer for 3-4 hours

Sausage and Black Bean Quesadillas

Now this is a shocker. We love quesadillas. Even more now that we have a griddle! Two words. Fast and Tasty. During one of our clean-out-the-fridge quesadilla nights I added cooked bratwurst to the pile of ingredients. Who knew, a German quesadilla is where it is at. So try this with any type of sausage you prefer and you won't be disappointed... They eat like a meal.

Add your favorites to this list of possible ingredients:

Black bean and onion saute- (cook sliced onion with a little oil then add a can of black beans and any seasoning you like. I like taco seasoning or any good blend of seasonings with paprika, garlic, onion, pepper, salt, etc)

Mixture of cheeses, sliced or grated, (we like cheddar and parmesan)

Tomatoes, chopped

Pico de Gallo, store bought works


Cooked and chopped sausage

Place tortilla in any pan that gives you room around the edge to flip this or a griddle. start piling layer of cheese first as glue, then beans and veggies, and sausage. I put an extra layer of cheese on top before the next tortilla to help it stay together. Cook over med heat or lower if browning too fast. When cheese starts to melt on bottom and tortilla is golden go ahead and flip it. When done and cooked through an easy way to slice it is with a pizza cutter on cutting board.

And you know the drill, use salsa, sour cream, avocado, etc. as sides if you like.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Simple Shrimp with Tomato and Angel Hair

This shrimp was one of those things you grab at the store on an impulse, without any real purpose in mind. Sometimes pre-cooked is an easy way to get us eating seafood. Then, if I am making something that Abel-son might be unsure of, I usually mix it with pasta. Because... really, kids love noodles. Mix in a quick and cheap sauce: saute garlic in olive oil and add fresh tomatoes and salt, and voila! And to this I added a few more things I had in the fridge.

By now there is a common theme on this blog. Garlic. :)

Saute 2 cloves garlic chopped in 3 T olive oil plus some crushed red pepper, just cook until tender.
Add 2-3 chopped fresh tomatoes and cook until they are soft. Smash with potato masher or glass bottom until smoother sauce is formed.
Add 1/2 c sour cream about 1/4 c parmesan and mix until smooth and bubbly
1 T dry sweet basil
salt and lots of pepper

1/2 lb cooked angel hair, and I added the cooked shrimp in when the pasta needed a couple min left to cook in order to warm it up.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Enchiladas Verdes

A few things inspired this meal...the cozy winter weather, my love for cilantro, Tracey's feast featured in the previous post, Wegmans, and um, Tyler Florence...

I half-watched an episode of his show "Tyler's Ultimate" a few weeks ago when he was making Enchiladas Verdes. He roasted tomatillos, onion, garlic and jalapenos and made the yummiest looking salsa I'd ever seen. I was tempted to try the recipe but thought roasting tomatillos might never happen. I was in Wegmans the other day and saw that they have a roasted salsa verde that has the same ingredients...holar!

So since I wimped out on the salsa I thought I'd bring it with the chicken. I work from home on Tuesdays so I thought it would be a good opportunity to take the time to roast a whole chicken.

Roasting the chicken allowed me to take advantage of the lovely drippings it produced, and since I made caramelized onions the night before, I also took advantage of the leftovers in the fridge.

Gotta tell ya...if you like cozy winter meals, cilantro, Tracey, Wegmans brand products and Tyler Florence (or any one of the above) you'll probably like these enchiladas. Vi liked them and usually she only likes oatmeal, peanut butter, and tomatoes.

Roasted Chicken:
I use this recipe. I made a 6lb bird so I roasted it for about 90 mins.
Let chicken cool and then shred
Discard some drippings - leave a few tablespoons and the crispy bits in the pan

Warm drippings on the stovetop (I used the pan pictured above for roasting so it was easy to then use on the stovetop) - obviously if you use a store bought chicken you could just use some olive oil instead
Add onions (or caramelized onions for more flavor!)
Saute a few mins and then add a few cloves of minced garlic
Saute a few mins and add two heaping tbs flour
Cook flour a minute or two and whisk in 3/4 of a small can of chicken broth - scrape all those lovely brown bits from the bottom of the pan
Add salsa verde (the Wegmans brand is kinda spicy so take care - I used approx 2/3 of the bottle)
Taste and season to your liking
Remove from the heat and stir in a few ounces of sour cream
Laddle about 2/3 of sauce into a pie plate and set aside

Add shredded chicken to remaining sauce
Add chopped fresh cilantro
Taste and season again if necessary

Dip flour tortillas in the sauce you set aside
Fill with chicken and sprinkle with shredded Monterey jack
Roll and place in casserole dish
Once dish is filled with enchiladas, top with remaining sauce and sprinkle with remaining cheese

In preheated 375 degree oven for 20 or so minutes, remove foil and bake until bubble and cheese is melted.
Sprinkle with fresh cilantro!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Our Little Grandma's Recipes

My Great-Grandmother, our "Little Grandma," was born and raised in Queretaro, Mexico. She married and moved with her three small children to the states, where she loved and raised them (along with a perfect garden) on a very tight budget. These are some of her family favorites.

I have never attempted all of her best dinner recipes at once, so I figured it was high time I tried. My mom and grandparents have cooked this meal to perfection for us so many times, and my sisters have already successfully tackled most of these recipes. I had been the lazy one. But after a long day of cooking, I realized it was well worth the effort. Everything tasted great! Thanks to my mom for writing down the original recipes for me to follow. I forgot to get my own picture of the rice since it finished later than the rest of the meal. So I stole a pic of what it looks like. :) The only thing missing is tamales. I promise to tackle those at a later date!

The best way to eat this food is all piled high on one plate so the flavors mingle. And don't shy away once you read that one ingredient... l-a-r-d. That is a native ingredient in many Mexican dishes and you don't need a mound to add a lot of flavor. And did you know it actually has less saturated fat than butter? My Little Grandma lived to see her 96th year and she cooked with it—a lot. So enjoy a little flavor in your life, and spice doesn't hurt either!

Another quick ingredient tidbit... She used parmesan and romano cheeses because the actual mexican queso blanco she preferred was not as available in the states then. They are very similar in texture and melting properties.

Thanks, Little Grandma, for all you taught your son (Gramps), his wife (Gram), and your grand-kids, my Mom and Uncle. You were one of the most loving and talented people our family has known. You are loved and missed. We hope these recipes live on. I think they will.

Refried Beans

6 cans pinto beans (feel free to soak dry beans overnight if you prefer!)
2 T lard
1 med onion and 3 large cloves garlic chopped
8 oz monterey jack or pepper jack cheese
crushed red pepper flakes
salt to taste

In a flat pan, large enough to hold six cans of beans, saute onions and garlic until tender. Add 5 cans of drained beans and 1 can undrained. Bring mixture to a simmer and begin mashing with a potato masher. Lower heat if needed and mash until most of the beans are crushed. Add chunks of cheese until melted and mix thoroughly. Add pinch of pepper flakes. More if you like them with a kick and salt to taste. Add a couple of tablespoons of parmesan and mix. Mixture should resemble a thick and chunky cake mix. Pour into serving bowl and sprinkle with parmesan and crushed red pepper. Do not cover or the beans will get soggy. Let set until cool.


2 c flour
1 tsp salt
1-2 T lard of shortening

Sift flour and salt together and rub fat in with fingertips until mixture resembles course bread crumbs. Gradually add up to 1/2 c water until mixes into a soft dough. Do not knead too much or it will make tortillas tough. Roll dough into a dozen portions into thin rounds about 6 inch circles. Cook on heated (ungreased) griddle 1-2 min per side until light golden color and slightly puffy. Adjust griddle heat if necessary. Stack tortillas and wrap in foil to keep warm in oven.


You can make these the night before and the flavor gets better with time!

Make your own tortillas or store bought flour tortillas are fine. I used the med. size.
This sauce recipe will make about 10 enchiladas. The flavor is amazing even without any meat or beans!

3 large onions
2 T lard (this is what MAKES this recipe!)
2 c Ramano cheese
Large can of tomato sauce (roughly 40 oz)
Chili powder
Salt to taste in sauce

In fry pan, saute onions in lard. Add enough chili powder to turn onions red. (How's that for vague!) You will need a lot of chili powder and can add more later after it cooks together for a bit. 2 t of cumin should do it.
Add tomato sauce and simmer for 10 min. Taste. If there is more of a tomato taste than chili powder than add more until there is more chili. Remove from heat.
Take each tortilla and dip into sauce one side and then the other. Place on plate and place a row of the onions from the sauce down middle of tortilla along with a good sprinkle of romano cheese. Roll up and place seam side down in a pan coated with cooking spray. Fill pan with enchiladas and then coat with remaining sauce and sprinkle of cheese. Bake uncovered in 350 degree oven for 20 min until heated through. Cover with foil until ready to serve.

Roasted Chicken (that picture above shows them in their raw state, in case you were wondering!)

Two whole chickens (for 8-10 people)
lard or butter
salt and pepper

Wash chickens with cold water and pat dry. Set breast side up in roasting pan. Rub with lard or butter and liberally coat with salt and pepper. Roast in preheated 425 degree oven for 15 min uncovered. Turn oven down to 325 degrees. Baste every half hour. Should take about 1.5-2 hours more to cook until chickens are golden and until the leg feels like the palm of your hand by your thumb (my Little Grandma's tip!) If you touch the leg and it separates easily from the body it is done. Wrap in foil to keep warm.

Spanish Rice

1 med onion chopped
4 large garlic cloves chopped
1 large green or red pepper chopped
3 cups rice
1 small can crushed tomatoes or 1 can diced tomatoes
1 large can chicken broth (need 6 cups)
1 pinch saffron
Diced pepperoncini- if you like that flavor can be added after the broth.

In a dutch oven type pot saute onion, garlic, and pepper. Add rice and brown over med. heat stirring should take about 5 min. Add crushed tomatoes and stir mixture quickly until sizzling. Add 6 c broth. Add salt and pepper. Stir. Allow mixture to come to a boil. Turn heat to low and cover until broth is absorbed. Fluff rice with fork.

Add in a crisp salad with in-season veggies and there you have it.

Mangia~ Tracey

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Apple Pie Granola

Granola is the perfect food. That's why I try and eat it every day! It is nice to have some fresh stuff on hand and its less expensive. I really like this recipe due to the crunch and chunks. Both bonus features of granola! Both apprentices just gobbled some up for lunch. They like it mixed with vanilla yogurt.

The only thing that makes this 'apple pie' is the blend of spices I used. I ran out of cinnamon and had to supplement. This is a recipe that I found on a foodie site from someone who stole it from a cookbook. So I can't take credit for anything other than the different spice blend and I would put a little less salt than the recipe called for so I'll adjust it in the list below.

Boxed and sweetened cereal was a treat in our house growing up. We even picked out our favorite kind as a Christmas present, no joke! Now I see how stinking expensive it is and how fast we can go through an entire box. My poor parents.

Mix in one bowl:
2 c rolled oats
1 t cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
OR apple pie spice
1/4 t salt
In another bowl:
3 T plus 1 t of oil (veg or canola)
1/4 c honey
1/4 c light brown sugar
1 t vanilla extract
Combine both bowls of ingredients into one and then mix with your hands, Abel's favorite part!
I think this is the trick to making it crunchy because its well blended.
Spread on baking sheet coated with cooking spray and back at 325 degrees for 10 min.
Then add and bake for 10 more min:
2/3 c whole almonds
Then add and bake for 5 more min:
2/3 c golden raisins

Mangia~ Tracey