Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What Santa brought

Even though I really didn't need anything else for the kitchen for Christmas, I got something, and it was just what I wanted...a Le Crueset Dutch Oven, a red one, no less. My husband had begun mentioning building some kind of elaborate shelving in our garage to hold my ever-growing supply of kitchen "stuff". Because of this, I didn't even ask for anything for the kitchen this Christmas. Of course, my mom picked up on the fact that I wanted one of these beauties when I kept entering online contests to win one. At least now I can stop entering the contests.

Now, I need to know what to cook in it. I mean, I know I can cook everything in it, but what do I start with? My brother got one too, and he's going to cook short ribs. I'm not quite that adventurous. Maybe a good slow cooked chili, or Coq a Vin (the recipe I was supposed to cook for Barefoot Bloggers this month), or fried chicken. I'm leaning towards soup, just because that always sounds good this time of year, but if you have suggestions, please send them my way!
Happy New Year.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas baking and candy-making

This past Saturday, we had a big baking day at our house! We love to make treats for Christmas and give them away to friends. Usually we'll make caramels, fudge, dipped pretzels, covered pecans, pumpkin bread and then a new recipe or two. This year, I had visions of beautiful gingerbread people that we would ice with little white eyes and white buttons. Instead, this is what they looked like...

Maybe that's not exactly what I was imagining, but it was still fun! (But, we haven't eaten any of them yet.)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Mexican Chicken Soup

Last night brought about a new resolution that I need to make in the new year. It does not work for me to get off of work at 5pm, go to the grocery store and do my shopping and then come home and make dinner. Well, it does work, but it doesn't get dinner on the table anytime before 7:30pm. And, then it feels like I've spent the whole evening on dinner.

Perhaps you would suggest that I find recipes that don't take quite so long. That would certainly be one solution and one that I like quite a lot and will definitely consider on non-Barefoot Contessa-cooking-nights. Leaving the grocery store last night, though (after waiting quite a while on the meat department to locate bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts) I decided that once January 1st rolls around, I need to do my grocery shopping on Saturday! Wish me luck.

Here's the recipe for last night's Barefoot Bloggers recipe. This soup was really tasty and was not all that complicated...don't know why it took me quite so long to make it.

4 split (2 whole) chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
Good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chopped onions (2 onions)
1 cup chopped celery (2 stalks)
2 cups chopped carrots (4 carrots)
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
2 1/2 quarts chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes in puree, crushed
2 to 4 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves, optional
6 (6-inch) fresh white corn tortillas

For serving: sliced avocado, sour cream, grated Cheddar cheese, and tortilla chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the chicken breasts skin side up on a sheet pan. Rub with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until done. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones, and shred the meat. Cover and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the onions, celery, and carrots and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until the onions start to brown. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes with their puree, jalapenos, cumin, coriander, 1 tablespoon salt (depending on the saltiness of the chicken stock), 1 teaspoon pepper, and the cilantro, if using. Cut the tortillas in 1/2, then cut them crosswise into 1/2-inch strips and add to the soup. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Add the shredded chicken and season to taste. Serve the soup hot topped with sliced avocado, a dollop of sour cream, grated Cheddar cheese, and broken tortilla chips.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers, take two (and three)

So, joining Barefoot Bloggers has revealed even more my tendency toward procratination...even with things I enjoy, like cooking. Last month's recipes were for Herb Roasted Onions and Mexican Chicken Soup, to be posted on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of the month, respectively. Well, I made the Herb Roasted Onions on the 2nd Thursday of the month, and they were good. Even halving the recipe still made far too many onions for our family of three. I served them with pan-fried pork chops and sauteed apples. The vinagrette on the onions is especially tasty. My big discovery with this recipe was that I really like fresh thyme (and added the leftover herb to a few of our Thanksgiving dishes). My other discovery was that onions can discolor baking sheets. It was a fun and different side dish. Click on the link to find the recipe. Notice that although I made the dish on the 2nd Thursday, it's taken my far longer to post about my results.

Recipe #2 Mexican Chicken Soup is on the menu for tonight...a little late for that 4th Thursday deadline. Oops. My plans had been to make it a couple nights before Thanksgiving, but my grocery list was so long, and my cooking plans for the next few days so extensive, that we decided a meal out was in order. So, the Mexican Chicken Soup had to wait. (It didn't help that I made Chicken Enchilada Soup and White Chicken Chili earlier in that very same week.)

Also, I have abandoned food photography. My pictures don't begin to do justice to the dish. If you go to Barefoot Bloggers, you can find many photos and ideas about these recipes from my fellow Barefoot Contessa fans.