Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Red Lentil Soup

This soup is so yummy! It's also very quick and easy to make. The lemon and fresh herbs give it such a wonderful fresh taste, I could eat this year round. The picture doesn't do this soup justice, because it's pretty hard to take a sexy picture of lentil soup.

Red Lentil Soup

  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cayenne pepper [1]
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper (or to taste)
  • 6 cups vegetable stock [2]
  • 1 1/4 cup red lentils [3]
  • 1 cup peeled and diced carrots
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. of fresh lemon juice
  • Chopped fresh cilantro and/or parsley
  • Add oil to bottom of large pot and heat on high until hot.
  • Add onion and garlic, saute until golden brown.
  • Add tomato paste and spices, stir and saute for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add broth, lentils and carrot. Bring to a boil and simmer, partially covered on low for 30-40 minutes.
  • Using a blender, puree the about soup and add back to pot. You can also use an immersion blender. You want to soup to have some chunks.
  • Stir in lemon juice.
  • Ladle into serving bowls and garnish generously with fresh herbs.
  1. Can substitute chili powder
  2. You can also use 6 cups of water and bullion. If you prefer, chicken stock can also be substituted.
  3. The lentils will loose their redness as they cook

Friday, October 30, 2015

Beef Pho

I love pho, and even thought there are two Vietnamese restaurants within 5 minutes of my house, it's really nice to be able to make at home on a chilly night.   I went a little overboard and made my own bone broth, but you can easily start with pre-made broth. Broth can also easily be made ahead of time and/or frozen. 

Don't be intimidated by the number of ingredients or steps. As long as the broth is ready, I can put this together in less than 30 minutes.

Beef Pho


The Broth:
  • 3-4 pounds of beef bones
  • 4-6 quarts of water
  • 1 onion, cut in half
  • 4 inches fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 2 pods star anise
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 2 whole cinnamon sticks
  • 2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
  • 2 ½ tablespoons fish sauce
The Soup:
  • Medium rice noodles (about 1/4 inch wide, not vermicelli or wide noodles)
  • 1 to 1 ½ pounds very, thinly sliced steak (such as top sirloin, flank, London broil)
  • Fresh Bean Sprouts
  • Fresh herbs such as: Thai Basil. Cilantro, Parsley, Fresh Mint
  • Lime Wedges
  • Jalapeño slices
  • Chopped green onion
  • Chile-garlic sauce, such as Sriracha 
  • Hoisin sauce

    Broth (see Note 1)
    • Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 
    • Place beef bones on a baking sheet and roast until browned, 30-60 minutes.
    • Place onion and ginger on a baking sheet on highest rack in your oven and char on each side until blackened and soft.
    • Put roasted beef bones and water in a stock pot. Bring to a boil and simmer on low from 24-48 hours. The longer you can cook it the more depth and flavor your broth will have. 
    • For the last 6 to 8 hours, add the roasted onion and ginger and spices to flavor the broth. I simmered mine for 18 hours and then added the onions and spices for an additional 8 hours. 
    • Strain the broth into a pan and set aside  (See Note 2).
    • You can freeze any extra broth for future use.
    • Cook noodles according to instructions drain, and divide into bowls. 
    • Top the noodles with the raw beef slices top with the hot broth. Stir and let sit until beef is no longer pink, 1 to 2 minutes (See Note 3).
    • Set a plate at the table so individuals can add the bean sprouts, the fresh herbs, lime wedges, and sliced jalapenos as they desire. Also provide sriracha and/or hoisin sauce. (See Note 4).
    1. If you don't want to make your own broth you can always use 6 cups store-bought beef broth (or chicken or veggie, if you prefer) and add the charred vegetables and spices and simmer for at least one hour, or in a crockpot for 3-4 hours or more.
    2. If there is a lot of marrow your broth may be greasy. You may want to cool the broth before serving and remove the hardened fat from the top.
    3. For variety, I often add fresh broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. You can place bite-size pieces on top of the beef before you pour over the broth. 
    4. This dish should be served with the bean sprouts, herbs, and lime. To me, the are definitely key to the experience. The rest are optional and to taste. I add all listed, because I like mine spicy!

    Wednesday, October 7, 2015

    Chicken and Dumplings

    The temperatures are falling and and the days are getting shorter. It's comfort food season and what is more cozy and comforting than chicken and dumplings?

    Chicken and Dumplings


    For the soup:
    • 3 tablespoons olive oil
    • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
    • salt and pepper to season chicken thighs
    • 1 large yellow onion, coarsely diced
    • 4 carrots, peeled and sliced
    • 4 ribs celery, trimmed and sliced
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
    • 2 quarts chicken broth
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
    • salt and pepper to taste
    For the dumplings (Note 1):
    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
    • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
    • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cold
    • 1 large egg, beaten
    • 1/4 cup cold buttermilk

    • Place oil in a heavy bottom soup pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat.
    • Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper on both sides. 
    • Brown the chicken in batches, 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Remove from the pan and set aside (Note 2). 
    • Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and thyme to the pot. Stir and saute until the onions are cooked through and translucent, about 5 minutes.
    • Return the chicken to the pot. Add the bay leaf and chicken stock.
    • Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered 30-40 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked. While soup is simmering, you can prepare the dumpling dough.
    •  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, thyme, and pepper. Add the butter and use your fingers to break it down into the flour mixture creating small flecks of butter throughout the mixture. Add the beaten egg and buttermilk and stir until just combined. Try not to over-stir the dumpling dough.
    • When the vegetables in the soup are cooked through. Remove the chicken and chop and shred it into bite size pieces. Return the chicken to the pan.
    • Bring the soup to a light simmer, stir in the fresh parsley, and season to taste.
    • Then, using a spoon to gently dollop about 2 tablespoons of dough into the soup.
    • The dumplings may sink, but will rise to the surface as they cook. Add all of the dumplings.
    • Cover the pot. Allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes, until dumplings are cooked through. 
    • Remove from heat and serve warm!

    1. Or you can just cheat and use refrigerator or frozen biscuits. Cut 5 biscuits into quarters and drop into the hot soup as directed. 
    2. Chicken won't be fully cooked through at this point, but it will cook through while simmering.

    Monday, June 22, 2015

    Broccoli Cheddar Soup

    So this was stolen and modified from a recipe claiming to be a Panera Bread copy cat. I tweaked it a little to my tastes and everyone seems to like it.  This is one of my favorite things to make after I have a party and there is a leftover veggie tray with broccoli and carrots (you can add the celery, but I prefer not to).

    Broccoli Cheddar Soup

    • 1 tablespoon melted butter
    • 1⁄2 cup onions, minced (small diced)
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 1⁄4 cup melted butter
    • 1⁄4 cup flour
    • 2 cups half-and-half cream
    • 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
    • 1 1/2 to 2 cups fresh broccoli (chopped into small, bite size pieces)
    • 1 cup carrot, minced (small diced)
    • 1⁄2 teaspoon nutmeg
    • 8 ounces grated white sharp cheddar cheese
    • salt and pepper, to taste

    • Sauté onion in 1 Tbsp butter. Set aside.
    • Cook melted butter and flour using a whisk over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Stir constantly.
    • Lower heat to medium-low and add the half & half, chicken broth and simmer for 20 minutes. Stirring occasionally. 
    • Add the broccoli, carrots, and onions. Cook over low heat 20-25 minutes.
    • Add cheese and stir/whisk until melted. 
    • Stir in nutmeg, salt and pepper. 
    Serve with crusty bread. For easy homemade bread recipes, check out my blog post: No Knead Homemade Bread--Two recipes

    • Be careful of the heat, if it's too hot the half and half will curdle. Trust me, I know! 
    • If the soup sits for a while and gets cooled, it may separate. Just whisk a few times and it will come back together. 

    Friday, March 20, 2015

    Chicken Chili Verde

    So I love salsa verde and enchiladas verde, so naturally, I had to make chili verde. Now, I've tried a bunch of chicken white bean chilis that are greenish, but they completely miss the mark for me. Tomatillos are key to anything verde, and this is really easy and delicious.

    Chicken Chili Verde

    • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    • 1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed, cut into bite size pieces
    • 1 teaspoon sea salt
    • 1 lb fresh tomatillo (about 6 -8 large) husksd remove, cored & quartered or 
    • 1 large jalapeno
    • 1 serrano chili (or chili of your choice depending on how spicy you like it
    • 1 medium onion, chopped
    • 3 garlic cloves, minced
    • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
    • 1 teaspoon black pepper
    • 2 cups chicken broth
    • 2 cans northern white or cannelli beans, drained, rinsed
    • shredded sharp cheddar cheese
    • sour cream


    • Add oil to a large pot, like a dutch oven. Over medium heat, sauté chicken, season with salt and cook until no longer pink. You may need to cook in batches. Remove chicken from pot, set aside.
    • In a blender, combine tomatillos, peppers, and garlic and and blend until thick & smooth. 
    • Add onions into pan with a little more oil, if needed, and sauté until tender
    • Add chicken back to pot. Add spices and stir.
    • Add the tomatillo mixture, chicken broth and beans to the cooked chicken pieces.
    • Simmer for at least 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until desired thickness
    • Top cheese and sour cream.
    Note: This can very easily be adapted to a crockpot. Just saute the chicken and onions and then put it all in the crockpot on high for 4-6 hours or low for 8 hours.

    Monday, March 16, 2015

    Beer-braised Chicken with Root Veggies

    This is a very flavorful dish that is pretty easy. It would make a wonderful twist on Chicken and Dumplings, but unfortunately I had to settle for fresh, homemade bread. Poor me, I know! Bonus, I got to use my new Lodge enamel-coated, cast iron dutch oven again!  Also, gluten-free friends, this recipe can easily be altered with gluten-free beer

    Beer-braised Chicken with Root Veggies

    • 8 skinless or skin-on chicken thighs (about 3 pounds)
    • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
    • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    • 2 tablespoons plus 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
    • 1 large medium yellow onions, chopped
    • 4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
    • 4 to 6 medium potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks (I used a combination of red, gold, or purple)
    • 1 medium celery root, peeled, and cut into 1-inch chunks (or substitute extra potatoes)
    • Two 12-ounce bottles of strong, dark beer (Porter or Abbey ales work well)
    • 2 cups chicken broth
    • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
    • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
    • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
    • 1 teaspoon dried or 4-6 sprigs fresh thyme 
    • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

    • Season the chicken with the salt and pepper. In a large, heavy pot, such as a Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Sear the chicken, turning once or twice, until lightly browned on both sides. You may need to cook the chicken in batches. Remove when done and set aside and pour off excess fat from the pot.
    • On medium heat melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add the onions and garlic sauté until golden
    • Add the carrots, potatoes, and celery root, and stir in the porter, broth, sugar, mustard, tomato paste, and thyme. 
    • Return the chicken thighs to the pot, submerging them in the liquid. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.
    • In a heatproof bowl make a roux with the remaining 5 tablespoons butter and the flour to form a thick paste. You can use a pastry blender or a fork. Slowly whisk about 2 cups hot cooking liquid into the roux. Then, slowly stir this mixture into the pot. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes until it starts to thicken and the chicken and veggies are cooked
    • Remove the chicken and vegetables to a platter or individual serving plates. Skim any fat from the surface of the stew. 
    • Salt and Pepper to taste. Simmer the sauce a bit longer if you like it thicker. 
    • Spoon the sauce over the chicken and vegetables and serve.

    Saturday, March 14, 2015

    No Knead Homemade Bread--Two recipes

    So I've been experimenting with baking bread at home of and on for a few months now. I always thought baking bread was hard and time consuming, and it can be, but have found two no-knead recipes/methods that work well. It's also much cheaper and more convenient. If you are interested in baking your own bread, give them a try and see what method works best for you.

    No Knead Crusty Bread
    The first is the No Knead Crusty Bread from King Arthur flour. It's great because you always have dough in the fridge--risen and ready to go. You can have a fresh loaf in about an hour. Here is the recipe and method:

    This is one attempt at making it.

    4-Hour No-Knead Bread
    The second method is very similar to the previous and can be found here:

    The recipe says to let it sit for at least four hours. I sometimes will make this in the morning and let it sit on the counter all day so it's ready when I get home.

    Here's a picture of the latest loaf I made.