Categories
Soups Uncategorized Vegetarian

Classic French Onion Soup

Onion soup has been a popular peasant meal since Roman times. Because onions are easy to grow, plentiful and pretty darn delicious, poor people have been enjoying onion soup for millennia. Somewhere along in line in history, onion soup made its way to France and eventually landed in cafes all over Paris. Its popularity spread like wildfire. Like magic, it went from peasant food to a worldwide favorite. 

I’m a big believer that some of the very best foods from many cultures began as peasant meals. Meals like onion soup are inexpensive, healthy, tasty and comforting. The ingredients are simple and uncomplicated, but satisfying and delicious. Onion soup may have had humble beginnings, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s food royalty.  

Ingredients:

3 large yellow onions, sliced

3 Tbsp. butter

1 Tbsp. flour

4 cloves garlic, minced

6 c. beef broth

½ c. red wine

1 Tbsp. herbes de Provence

Salt and pepper to taste

1 c. gruyere cheese, shredded

10-12 slices of baguette

In a large pot, melt butter over medium low heat and cook onions until they are slightly brown, soft and caramelized, about 30 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the flour and stir to combine. 

Pour in broth and wine and add herbes de Provence, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to broil.

Ladle soup equally into four oven-safe bowls. Place on a baking sheet. Put baguette slices on top of the soup, then add cheese on top of the bread. Broil for 2-5 minutes or until the cheese and melted and lightly browned. 

Categories
Pork Uncategorized

Authentic Pork Red Chile Tamales

For many Mexicans and Americans alike, nothing represents Christmas more than sitting around a table making batches and batches of tamales with loved ones. The tamalada, or tamale making party, has long been a Christmastime tradition of bringing together large groups of family and friends to spend the whole day making tamales. The process of making tamales isn’t difficult, but it is time and labor-intensive, so it’s important that the tamalada is fun and festive, complete with snacks, drinks, holiday music and laughter. 

While the prize of the tamalada is often seen as the tamales, I believe the ultimate reward is the happy memories made and togetherness of family while creating these amazing little bundles of joy. These tasty tamales are memory-making in their own right, though, because this recipe is truly unforgettable. Happy holidays!

Pork ingredients:

3-4 lb. pork shoulder

8 c. water

2 onions, quartered

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. oregano

3 tsp. cumin

Salt and pepper

Red chile sauce ingredients:

15-20 large dried guajillo chiles

6 cloves garlic

2 tsp. cumin

1 Tbsp. shortening

1 Tbsp. flour

Salt and pepper

Masa: 

6 c. pork broth (reserved from the cooked pork)

2 tsp. baking powder

2 tsp. salt

¾ c. shortening

6 c. masa harina

Dried corn husks, 50-60 ct.

Start by making the pork the night before you plan on assembling the tamales. Add the pork shoulder, onions, garlic, water, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper to a slow cooker. Set on low and cook overnight for 10-12 hours.

In the morning, take the pork out of the slow cooker. Do not throw away the liquid in the slow cooker. Shred the pork with two forks and discard fat. Set aside in a large bowl. Strain the broth and set aside the broth. 

To make the red chile sauce, remove stems and seeds from the dried peppers. Place them on a cookie sheet and roast in the oven at 350 degrees for 2-3 minutes or until fragrant. Remove from the oven and soak in a large bowl of hot water for about 30 minutes. Do NOT throw away the soaking water. Place the peppers, garlic, cumin and 2 ½ c. of the soaking water into a food processor until smooth. 

Make a roux in a saucepan over medium heat by melting the shortening and whisking in the flour until the mixture is smooth. Pour in the chile mixture and simmer for 5 minutes. If the sauce is too thick, add a little more soaking water until desired consistency is achieved. Add salt to taste.

Add shredded pork to the saucepan and simmer in the red chile sauce for 10 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Set aside.

Soak corn husks in hot water for about 20 minutes to soften while you make the masa. To make the masa, add shortening to the bowl of an electric mixture. Beat on medium for about 1 minute or until fluffy. Add one cup of masa harina, salt and baking powder while continuing to mix. Then add one cup of pork broth, alternating until 6 cups of each have been mixed together. The masa should have the consistency of a thick, creamy paste.

To assemble the tamales, spread about 2 Tbsp. of masa on the center of the husk into a thin layer. Place about 1 Tbsp. of the pork in the center of the masa. Fold the sides of the husk together until the masa comes together (like a taco). Then fold the button up and wrap. Tie with extra pieces of corn husks. 

Now it’s time to steam the tamales. Bring water to boil in a large pot with a steamer insert. Place a layer of leftover corn husks at the bottom of the steamer and then place the tamales on top of the husks, open side up, and somewhat tightly packed. Reduce heat to medium low and steam for 40 minutes. Add water as necessary during the steaming process. 

Unwrap tamales and serve with red chile sauce, green chile sauce or just plain! 

Categories
Pork Soups Uncategorized

Navy Bean Soup with Ham and Spinach

Sometimes a hearty soup is all you need to feel happy on a cold winter’s night. This no-fuss navy bean soup with ham and spinach will warm the members of your family from the inside out and is perfect for either lunch or dinner. 

This cozy-feeling soup is perfect for this time of year because it’s easy on the wallet AND on the waistline. So go ahead, buy the presents and eat the party foods. This is one meal that won’t count as a strike against you in either area.

Ingredients:

1 lb. bag dried navy beans

2 c. ham, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 Tbsp. olive oil

2 carrots, sliced

2 stalks celery, sliced

1 medium onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 c. baby spinach

1 Tbsp. tomato paste

2 c. chicken broth

2 c. water

2 tsp. oregano

2 tsp. paprika

3 bay leaves

Salt and pepper to taste

The night before cooking, sort through the beans to make sure there are no rocks Discard any cracked beans or rocks. Add the beans to a large bowl and cover completely with water and soak overnight. The next day, drain the beans and rinse thoroughly with cold water. 

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium high heat. Add carrots, celery and onions and cook for 5 minutes. Add garlic, tomato paste, paprika and oregano and stir for 1 minute. Next, add the ham, beans, broth, water and bay leaves. Increase heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil. Stir, then cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for an hour, stirring periodically. 

Check to see if the beans are cooked through and creamy in consistency. Continue cooking until the beans are cooked to your liking, checking every 15-20 minutes. My total cooking time is usually around two hours. Taste the soup and add salt and pepper to taste. Add spinach and stir in until it wilts. Remove the bay leaves and serve immediately.

Categories
Beef Uncategorized

Crazy Good Shredded Beef Nachos

If you made my last recipe for classic pot roast, you may have a little bit of that delicious meat left over. While it’s tempting to eat that oh-so-good pot roast again the next night the exact same way, I like to mix it up (mostly so that my kids don’t complain about leftovers). As it turns out, the meat from the pot roast is easily transformed into the yummiest Mexican-style shredded beef quite easily. It tastes amazing on top of nachos. We all know that nachos are pretty much always amazing, but this meat takes it to a new level. This is almost a zero-effort meal that will make everyone happy. 

Ingredients:

1-2 c. meat leftover from classic pot roast

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. chili powder

Tortilla chips

Shredded cheddar cheese

1 c. black beans

Cilantro, for topping

Green onions, chopped,for topping

Guacamole, see recipe below 

Sour cream, if desired

Jalapenos, chopped, if desired

Guacamole:

1 ripe avocado

1 roma tomato, finely chopped

2 green onions, chopped

1 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped

Juice from one lime

Jalapeno, finely chopped (if desired)

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400. Shred the roast. Reheat in a skillet with a little water (just for moisture). Add cumin and chili powder for flavor. 

Line a cookie sheet with foil and spread out tortilla chips evenly. Add shredded cheese. Top with beans and meat. Bake for 5-10 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

While the nachos are cooking, prepare the guacamole. Mash the avocado with a fork. Add tomato, onions, cilantro, lime juice, jalapeno and salt and pepper. Mix together.

Top nachos with cilantro, green onions, guacamole, sour cream, jalapenos and any other toppings you like!

Categories
Beef Uncategorized

Classic Slow Cooker Pot Roast

There’s something almost miraculous about spending a few minutes in the morning throwing a few things into the slow cooker and coming home to an amazing-smelling house and even more amazing pot roast. If you’re anything like me, you usually sit at work all day thinking about your future dinner and daydreaming guiltily about how your dogs must be feeling tortured by the tempting smell floating in the air.

Coming home is such a treat on those days. The comforting smell of all of the ingredients melded together makes home feel somehow even more homey than usual. And the funny thing is that the slow cooker makes me feel like I beat the system and that someone cooked for me all day. If only every day could feel that way!

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp. olive oil

4 lb. chuck roast

3 yellow onions, quartered

6 cloves garlic, smashed

Small bag of baby carrots

2 celery stalks, sliced

2 c. beef broth

¼ c. balsamic vinegar

2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

½  c. red wine (optional)

1 Tbsp. herbes de Provence

Salt and pepper

Parsley, for serving

Season the roast with salt and pepper on all sides. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Brown the roast on all sides. Add onions and cook until slightly browned. Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Add to the slow cooker.

Pour in beef broth, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and wine. Add in celery, herbes de Provence and salt and pepper to taste. Cook on low for 7 hours. Add carrots and cook for 1 more hour on low. 

Serve over mashed potatoes and top with chopped parsley.

Categories
Sides Uncategorized

Easy Homemade Kimchi

Kimchi is not only beautiful and delicious, it also contains a tiny, bustling world of health-boosting microbes in each bite. A fermented food staple in Korea, kimchi is packed with probiotics. The lactic acid bacteria created during the fermentation process is not only good for your gut, it’s also an immune booster, lessens inflammation, and provides a whole host of other health benefits. 

Kimchi is a great food to have around the house. It’s delicious as a whole meal with rice and fried eggs, a side dish, or even a mid-day snack. The spicy, sour tang of kimchi usually has the people in my house sneaking to the refrigerator throughout the day for “just one more bite.” 

Refrigerated kimchi lasts for months in the fridge, but around here it rarely lasts more than a few days. 

Ingredients:

1 napa cabbage, cut into bite-sized pieces

2 carrots, sliced

1 daikon radish, sliced

1 bunch green onions, sliced

1 inch piece of ginger, minced 

5 cloves garlic, minced 

3 Tbsp. of sea salt

2 Tbsp. soy sauce

1 Tbsp. (or more if you like) fish sauce

2 Tbsp. gochujang or other chili sauce of your choice

Chop up cabbage and be sure to leave one giant cabbage leaf aside for later. Place the cabbage in a large glass bowl and toss in sea salt. Massage with your hands until the cabbage has reduced in size by about half and there is plenty of water collected at the bottom of the bowl. 

Add the chopped vegetables and minced garlic and ginger and mix well with your hands. Add the soy sauce, fish sauce and chili sauce. Mix thoroughly.

Now put the mixture into glass jars, really pushing it down until the mixture is covered in a layer of brine. Place the cabbage leaf you set aside earlier over the top of the kimchi. All of the kimchi should remain under the brine during fermentation. You can use fermentation weights, but this is unnecessary. The cabbage leaf works just fine. 

Cover with a cloth and rubber band and place on the counter for a few days. Taste every day and when it is fermented to your liking, put a lid on the jar and store in the refrigerator. 

Categories
Chicken/Turkey Soups Uncategorized

Avgolemono Soup (Tangy Greek Lemon Chicken Soup)

It seems that every culture has its version of a comforting, crave-worthy soup. For many Americans, it’s grandma’s chicken noodle soup. Avgolemono soup, made with a scrumptious base of lemons and eggs, is Greece’s version of grandma’s soup that can always lift your spirits and make you feel safe and warm.

Avgolemono soup is creamy and rich. It tastes like a cream-based soup that will go straight to your hips . . . but the awesome news is that it’s actually very healthy. Best of all, avgolemono soup is so quick and easy to make. The whole process takes less than 30 minutes, making it the perfect meal for a weeknight dinner.

Ingredients:

2 c. cooked, shredded chicken

1 c. carrots, finely chopped

½ c. celery, finely chopped

1 small onion, finely chopped

½ c. green onions, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 bay leaves

1 c. uncooked white rice

½ fresh lemon juice

2 eggs

1 Tbsp. olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Fresh parsley

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium high heat. Add carrots, celery, onions and green onions and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. Add chicken broth and bay leaves. Increase to high heat and allow the mixture to boil. Add the uncooked rice and turn to medium-low heat and allow to simmer until rice is cooked (about 20 minutes). Add the cooked chicken to the pot.

Mix together the eggs and lemon juice in a small bowl and whisk together until smooth. Add a ladle full of the soup mixture into the bowl and whisk again until mixed. Add egg, lemon and soup mixture to the pot and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Top with parsley and serve immediately. 

I recommend pairing this with pita bread for a perfectly delicious Greek meal.

Categories
Chicken/Turkey Uncategorized

Amazing and Super-Fast Chicken Shawarma

Raise your hand if you ever get home from work and don’t feel like cooking, so you find yourself dreaming about ordering some spice-bomb pita sandwiches with a side of hummus from a local restaurant. Yeah, same here. The only problem is . . . you’re ravenous and can’t wait the hour it takes to get to your house. I admit, I get hangry sometimes, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.

With just a little planning ahead the night before, you can have a lip-smacking, satisfying take-out style meal in 15 minutes or less. This chicken shawarma is outstanding in the taste department and involves nothing more than heating up a pan, warming some pita bread, and chopping a few veggies. Try this, and you may find yourself just saying no to take-out. Gasp!

Ingredients:

Chicken:

2 large chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized strips

Juice from 1 large lemon

½ c. olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 large onion, thinly sliced

2 tsp. cumin

2 tsp. smoked paprika

1 tsp. turmeric

1-2 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 tsp. cinnamon

Salt and pepper to taste

Fresh parsley, chopped

Place all ingredients in a container with a lid, refrigerate and marinate overnight. When you’re ready to cook the chicken, heat a skillet to medium-high heat and dump all of the contents from the container into the hot skillet. There’s no need to add oil, since there is plenty of oil in the marinade. Cook the chicken until the marinade has cooked off and the chicken and onions are browned and caramelized. Add salt and pepper as needed and top with fresh parsley. 

Serve on warm pita bread with hummus or yogurt sauce, topped with cucumbers and tomatoes. For a healthier option, serve with tabbouleh salad. Personally, I like all of these options combined!

Categories
Uncategorized Vegan Vegetarian

Easy, Delicious Hummus

Hummus is easily one of the most ideal snack foods to have around the house because it’s healthy, but tastes rich and indulgent. It tastes good on nearly everything: veggies, sandwiches, pita, crackers, bagels, chips, grilled chicken . . . the list goes on. Most people buy store-bought hummus for convenience, but it is so very simple to make your own hummus at home. Homemade hummus tastes so much better than even the best store-bought options. The only downside to making it yourself is that it disappears quickly. Good thing it’s easy and economical to whip up another batch! 

Ingredients: 

¼ c. tahini, well stirred

Juice from 1 large lemon

1 15-oz can of garbanzo beans

1 garlic clove

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. cumin

Salt

2 Tbsp. water

1 tsp. paprika

1 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

Put tahini and lemon juice into the food processor and process for about 1 minute, or until smooth. Add olive oil, garlic, cumin and process again for about 30 seconds. Add the drained garbanzo beans and process for 1-2 minutes, or until very smooth. Add water, 1 Tbsp. at time, if the hummus is too thick. Process again for 30 seconds. Add salt to taste. Serve in a bowl, drizzled in a little olive oil, and top with paprika and fresh parsley.

Categories
Chicken/Turkey Uncategorized

Hong Kong Crispy Pan-Fried Noodles

Do you ever feel really intimidated by even attempting to cook some of the gorgeous and tasty noodle dishes served at Chinese restaurants? Yeah, me too. If there’s a silver lining to this whole world pandemic event that is currently going on, having more time on my hands to try cooking nearly anything is it! 

In the past if I was crazing a really solid noodle dish, I would visit a local restaurant. I truly thought I could never quite recreate what those magic kitchens in Chinese restaurants did to food. Enter: Hong Kong Crispy Pan-Fried Noodles. 

One day while frequenting my favorite local Asian market, I encountered these pretty noodles called Cantonese style egg noodles. They look like pretty little bird nests, so obviously I just had to buy them. I had no idea what to do with them. I did a little research and found that they were perfect for making those delicious fried noodles I had only eaten in restaurants. So, I went for it. I took inspiration from all kinds of sources, and came up with what I think is the most finger-licking chicken meal ever. Sorry, KFC. 

Ingredients:

Noodles:

8 oz. Hong Kong style noodles or Cantonese style egg noodles

1 large chicken breast, sliced into bite-sized pieces

2 carrots, sliced

1 medium crown of broccoli, florets only

1 cup of shiitake mushrooms, sliced

4 cloves garlic, miced

1 inch piece of ginger, minced

¼  c. water

3 green onions, sliced

½ c. cilantro, chopped

Chicken marinade:

1 Tbsp. mirin

1 tsp. Cornstarch

Pinch of salt

Sauce: 

2 Tbsp. soy sauce

2 Tbsp. hoisin sauce

¼ c. mirin

1 ½ c. chicken broth

Slurry (made by combining 2 Tbsp. cornstarch and 3 Tbsp. water)

Salt and pepper

Cook the noodles according to package directions. While the noodles are cooking, mix the sliced chicken with the mirin, cornstarch and salt. Let it marinate for 15 minutes. Drain the cooked noodles.

In a large skillet, add a generous amount of vegetable oil, e.g. 2-3 Tbsp. and turn to medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, place the noodles evenly into the skillet and cook the noodles (like a pancake) until the noodles are slightly browned (6-8 minutes). Flip the noodle “pancake” over and cook the other side for the same amount of time or until both sides are slightly browned and the noodles are crispy. Place the noodle “pancake” on a clean platter. 

Wipe out the skillet and add 1 Tbsp. of vegetable oil. Heat over medium high heat until oil is hot. Add chicken slices and cook until slightly caramelized on both sides, about 3-4 minutes. Set chicken aside.

Wipe the skillet out and add 1 Tbsp. of vegetable oil. Heat over medium high heat. Add garlic and ginger. Stir for 15-30 seconds. Add the carrots, broccoli and mushrooms and stir fry, making sure to add a little water (so the veggies don’t get burned). Cook until the veggies are tender, but not soggy, and the water has cooked off. Add the cooked chicken into the skillet. Pour in soy sauce, chicken broth, hoisin sauce and mirin to the skillet. Then, add the cornstarch slurry and cook until the sauce thickens.

Place the mixture on top of the pan-fried noodles, top with green onions and cilantro and serve.