My Top Ten

Friday, May 20, 2011

Tortilla Soup, from scratch

 Turn this lovely pile of vegetables into Dinner!

Lish's Tortilla Soup - this is one of my all time favorites. 
So healthful, flavorful and economical if you are feeding a crowd. 

1) Boil 1-2 breast(s) of chicken - allow to cool, then shred and set aside
I am the master at stretching meat, and since there are beans in this soup as well, you don't need a chicken breast per person, you just need the taste of it present. I usually calculate 1 breast per three persons.
Also, don't over boil chicken. It makes it tough and chewy. Boil it over medium-high heat, keep an eye on it, use an internal thermometer to check it periodically and pull it off the heat once it reaches 160 degrees.

2) In heavy-grade blender, blend up 3 cups of the broth from the chicken you just boiled, with about 2 tablespoons of corn kernels. Blend it until the kernels disappear and it doesn't sound like a jet is landing in your kitchen any longer.... The corn kernels impart a nice authentic corn flavor.
Please use caution when blending hot liquids. Increase speed slowly, allowing the steam to vent through the removable plastic circle piece found on all blender lids. Cover the hole with a dish towel.

3)I love this recipe for it's versatility and nurition content.
Add in any/all of the following veggies:
 1 carrot stick, 1 celery stalk, 1 small yellow onion,  1-2 tomatoes, 1/2 of a medium sized zucchini or squash, 1" thick slice of cabbage, 1/2 of any color bell pepper, and a healthy sized bunch of fresh cilantro. For a little kick, consider adding a serano and/or a jalapeno pepper. I typically dice the peppers into smaller pieces before blending to ensure that there are no "chunks" of spicy pepper in anyone's bowl.

4)On stovetop, in large soup pot; add the following:
1 can of pinto or black beans; drained (or a can of each for a larger crowd)
1/2 bag of frozen sweet corn
shredded chicken from step #1
Season with 1+ teaspoon each: salt, pepper, cumin, and some variety of chile powder.
Seasoning is always done to taste by the person cooking it, the only thing to be cautious of is salt. Otherwise, bring on the flavor, baby!

5) Pour the blended vegetables over the chicken, beans, and corn and stir together. Bring to a low boil to allow flavor to meld.

Serve with salsa, sour cream, slices of avocado, chopped cilantro, sliced green onion and tortillas chips. All of the toppings are very enjoyable for guests to build their bowl to their personal liking. Enjoy!

Monday, May 9, 2011

my little chef

While these lemon bars we were making ended up being nothing to write home about, my little chef sure is! As we were making the crust for our lemon bars, I had to stop to change baby girl's diaper (due to the classic ability of newborns to poop large amounts right at the most inconvenient time). I asked Bodhi to keep mixing the crust together with his hands while I change Eden's diaper. I was away a good five minutes or more, as a whole new outfit was needed for my baby girl. When I came back in the kitchen, I saw Bodhi mixing a little, eating a little, mixing a little, eating a little. I am pretty sure this had gone on the whole time I was gone, as there was dough all over his face, including in his eyelashes. One of those moments you have to document, and it makes me laugh just looking at the pictures.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

homemade almond biscotti

If the title of this post intimidates you, don't fret! Making biscotti is actually very easy. It's like making cookies, and then baking them twice. The one thing that makes this process super easy is a silpat mat. It is excellent for baking when one is dealing with sticky dough. If you don't have a silpat mat or don't want to make the investment, no worries. You can just use parchment paper.

Almond Biscotti

1 c whole wheat pastry flour
1 c all purpose flour
1/2 c whole almonds, ground in blender/food processor (not as fine as flour; leave them slightly coarse for some texture)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 c sugar
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 orange; freshly zested (about 1 tablespoon orange zest)
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees; line your baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat mat.

In medium bowl, whisk together the flour, almonds, baking powder, salt & ground fennel. In another large bowl, beat eggs & sugar with electric mixer for about 3 minutes, until they are pale yellow in color and fluffy.  Zest your orange over the bowl, and then add in the almond extract. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture just until blended. The dough will be sticky.

Transfer the sticky dough to your prepared baking sheet. Drop two equally sized mounds of dough onto the baking sheet, side by side. Leave room for the dough to expand and rise as it bakes. Wet your hands with water and form the mounds into 11"X3" rectangles. Bake for 35 minutes, remove and cool 5 minutes. With bread knife, slice the rectangles into 1/2" thick biscotti, and then turn the individual biscotti onto it's side to continue baking. Bake another 25 minutes.

Random fun fact about biscotti, they originated way back in the day as a diet staple for Roman soldiers. The Roman women figured out that if you baked them twice, they would travel much farther and last much longer, so that's exactly what they did. Then they sent their men out with bags full of biscotti, hurrah! Who wouldn't fight better knowing they have a big ol' bag of homemade biscotti!