Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Krab Corn Chowder

I found a version of this recipe in a kids cook book. The original called for canned salmon and no peppers. To tell you the truth, I thought the idea of canned salmon in a soup sounded repulsive. I did however see much potential for the recipe itself. I do not feel like I swiped this from another cook. This recipe is my own, and it is so-so good. This is so good, you could drink it.

By the way, for those of you that do not know, Krab is fake crab meat. It is very inexpensive and very good. I really don't know for sure what it is made of, but its great. Use leftover Krab to make quesadillas for the kids, you can even sneak in some spinach and they will eat it up like crazy.

If you are not a big fan of fishy food, this is definitely the recipe for you. The crab does not taste fishy at all. It is the perfect texture compliment to the corn and the cream.

My good friend Sarah has made it, and loved it. So I have at least one person that I can say agrees and made it in their own kitchen. Her kids loved it, just as mine did.

Serve with Cesar salad and crusty bread.

Krab Corn Chowder

Krab Corn Chowder

1-tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1-cup celery, chopped
2 can condensed cream of celery soup
1 12 oz package of frozen corn
1 ½ cups krab meat, chopped
2 cups vegetable broth
¼ cup cilantro (optional)
½ poblano pepper (optional)

1. Sauté celery and onion until onion is clear, about 10 min.

2. Combine all other ingredients in a large saucepan. Cook until warmed through.

Turkey Vegetable Noodle Soup

OK, I know I should be posting all things Thanksgiving, but I still have yet to clear my refrigerator of the leftovers so I am not really in the mood to talk Turkey. (But, when the butter infused stomachache subsides, I promise I will have some great new things to share)

No, instead I am going to share a few soup recipes. It is about to be cold here in Houston, OK, not for long I am sure, but soup is always in order when its cold. Truthfully, soup is always in order in my kitchen.

To say that I love soup would be an understatement. I love a warm rich broth and lots of vegetables.
I have so many soup recipes I could start a blog just about soup. In my early days of cooking I always used canned broth, then I graduated to bullion cubes, on to organic chicken broth. The organic broth far surpasses any other kinds of broth that you can buy commercially. I was satisfied with the results the store bought broth produced until I started making my own broth. There is really no comparison at all. My mother, also an intense lover of soup, has always made her own broth. No matter what kind of bird we made she always made a quick broth and froze it if we were not making soup that day. I highly recommend making your own broth whenever humanly possible.

I usually do a combination of broth and water, because I don't always have enough broth. Water is a perfectly acceptable substitute if you have some homemade broth, or even the store bought options. I would not recommend making it all broth because soup cooks away so much liquid, it really is a waste.

This recipe is very good. It is the perfect vegetable soup. Not to difficult, and the results are stomach warming. This is a great recipe to make if you want to take something to a friend that has had a baby, or if someone is sick. It is the perfect sharing meal. And, it is the perfect meal to eat at home. Kids love it, or at least mine love it. I encourage you to add whatever vegetables your family enjoys eating.

Turkey Vegetable Noodle Soup

3 Turkey Legs
4 Cups chicken broth
4 Cups of water
1 Onion- cut in half and peeled
3 large garlic clove - peeled
2 Lemons
3 bay leaves
1-tablespoon course salt
2 tablespoons Olive oil
3 Leeks – trimmed, green stems cut vertically, white bulbs cut horizontal in strings. Separate into 2 stacks.
3 carrots- chopped
2 celery stalks- chopped
½ cups of whole wheat past noodles
4-5 fresh basil leaves- cut into ribbons
2 springs fresh thyme
2 teaspoons oregano
*you could use herbs de provence in place of the fresh herbs

In large Dutch oven put in turkey legs, onion, garlic, lemon, salt and bay leaves. Fill pot to almost top with broth & water. Bring to a boil. When water is at a boil, turn down to med. Heat and let it cook at a light boil for about 1 ½ hours, or until turkey is cooked through.
Strain broth into another pot or Tupper wear, set broth aside. Discard onions, lemons, and bay leaves. Pick turkey meat off the bone cut into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
In Dutch oven heat olive oil. Add carrots and celery. Sauté for about 7 min. Add white part of leeks and all herbs, continue to sauté for about 3 min. or until the leeks start to turn a clear color. Add green stems of the leeks and sauté for another 3-5 min.*

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Fried Plantains

Fried plantains are so incredibly yummy; I could eat them at every meal! If you must know, they are no diet food, but a perfect treat when eating a good Cuban meal. Truthfully, you could partake of these bad boys with any meal of Latin flavor.

Fried plantains do not require much as far as a recipe goes. Plantains look like large bananas. They are best when the skin is almost totally black, but if you forget to buy them a few days early and you simply must cook under ripe plantains, coat them in sugar before you put them on the pan. When cooking, monitor them constantly. They do not take long to cook. If left unattended, they will burn quickly.

They are suited for cooking as an appetizer or serving with dinner. If you do plan on serving them before dinner, make sure and cook more then you could possible imagine people could eat, believe me when I say, your guests will devour them. I have only done this once or twice, because they do require so much care, I only take the time to make two or three plantains to serve as a small side dish. Make sure you do not crowd the pan, give each piece space to fry.

Fried Plantains

3 Large ripe plantains peeled and cut into rounds.
2-3 Tablespoons Canola or vegatable oil, you will need to add oil after each batch to prevent sticking.

In a non-stick skillet heat oil to a med-high heat. Add plantains, cook on each side until brown, usually 3-4 min. Have a plate with paper towel in wait, so it can help soak up the grease.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Cuban Black Beans

As with the Cuban pork roast recipe, this is not my grandmothers. This is a far more complicated, requiring more ingredients. I have even tweaked this recipe a little, for more ease in the kitchen. After tasting the flavor of these beans, I find if very difficult to revert to the original recipe. Although, this recipe takes much more time and requires you to pay attention when cooking. You will not be disappointed by the end result.

Serve with over white rice and blare Cuban music, your guests will feel they have stepped into a Cubano casa filled with love and good food.

Serves 8-10

Cuban Black Beans

1 Pound dried black beans, preferably Goya
8 Cups water
1 Meaty ham bone
1 Head of garlic, peeled and halved crosswise, plus 8 cloves garlic, crushed through a press
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 three slices of bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 red or green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne
One 16-oz can tomatoes, chopped, liquid reserved
1 small bunch cilantro, tied

1. In a large sauce pan, combine the beans, water, ham bone, whole garlic and bay leaves, and bring to a boil, skimming off the froth. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the beans are almost tender, about 1 1/4 hours.

2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over a med. heat. Add bacon and cook, stirring, for about 3 to 4 min., until bacon renders most of its fat. Add onion, crushed garlic, and pepper and cook, stirring, until the onion is soft, about 7 min. Add the oregano, cumin, paprika and cayenne and stir for 1 min. Add the wine and cook for about 10 min.

3. Add the contents of the skillet to the beans, along with the tomatoes and their reserved juice and the cilantro. Cook over low heat, stirring once or twice, for 20 min. Add the vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Cook stirring for 1 min.

4. Remove cilantro and the ham bone from the beans and discard the cilantro. When the ham is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bone. Cut the meat into bite-sized pieces, and return to the beans. Remove the bay leaves from the beans and serve the beans over rice.

Recipe comes from: FIESTA , Anya Von Bremzen.

Latino Roast Pork Shoulder

As some of you may know, my mother is half Cuban. We were very close to our Cuban grandmother growing up. It was a special treat when she would make her Cuban pork roast, black beans, and rice. This was her specialty. I can still remember how her tiny apartment smelled when she cooked this dish. The aromas of cooking pork, garlic and oregano still makes me feel like a child in her kitchen. It meant so much to her to make it for us. She was inviting us with each bite to share in her childhood memories of living in Key West during the depression.

Her father, my great-grandfather, rolled Cuban cigars in Cuba for a living. She actually lived down the street from Fidel Castro's cousin. They were playmates as children. Of course, if you know Gee (that is what we called her), you know she has an opinion on everybody. "I did not like that man, even back then. He was mean!" Compounded with the fact that in his old age he grew facial hair, she had a zero tolerance policy when it came to facial hair.

Over the years my mother took over the pork roast dinner. She makes a mean one. Hers tastes almost exactly like the one Gee made. When I started cooking, it only seemed appropriate that I should take over the tradition of the Cuban pork roast, black bean meal. Every time I cooked it, I was unsatisfied with the results. It hardly ever turned out like Gees, and even when it did I felt the pork roast taste was just a hair fatty and lacked depth. A couple of years ago I bought this great cookbook at Half Priced Books called, Fiesta. When I was reading through it I came across a Latino Pork Roast recipe. Excited, I immediately called together a dinner party with friends, just to have an excuse to make this recipe. You simply must have a reason to cook pork roast, the results are always far too good to just share with your family. Now, I know that family recipes are sacred, and you should never deviate from them...but, this recipe far surpasses that of the past family recipe. Gee's version of pork roast has its place in culinary history to be sure. It is far more simple and is seemingly easier to create. But, it does not always turn out the same. I will leave this version for my mother, and I will of course teach it to my kids, just to pass on the tradition.

I have made this new recipe so many times I have the ingredients memorized, and never once has it not come out PERFECT! Succulent pork in juices taken with a bite of black beans, a bit of rice and a silver of fried plantain, there is nothing closer to heaven then this. Next time you have a party, make this dish! Most of the work you can do the night before, as a matter of fact, I recommend you do it the night before, so you can marinade the meat all night. Although, I have made the marinade a few hours before I cooked the roast and it is still very good. You can also deviate from using shoulder to using other cuts of pork roast, whatever you find that you want to use.

My next blog entry will be the killer black bean recipe and then I will write the plantain recipe. You simply cannot have Cuban pork roast without black beans and rice, plantains, and avocado salad. (Not to mixed up with guacamole)

Try not to be daunted by the ingreidient list. A good cook should have all the things required in this recipe in their fridge or pantry. If you do not have some of these things, think of it as an investment in your future dishes.

This recipe serves 10 people but can be doubled or cut in half, but it never hurts to have this as leftovers.

Latino Roast Pork Shoulder Marinade

1 small head of garlic, peeled, and chopped
1 Tablespoon coarse (kosher) salt
2 tablespoons cracked black peppercorns
1 Teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1-Tablespoon Dried Oregano
1 sprig fresh thyme, or 2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/2-cup limejuice
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4-cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 bay leaves crumbled
4 whole cloves, crushed in a mortar

1 Picnic Pork shoulder (about 7 pounds), trimmed of all but a thin layer of fat
2 cups water, plus more as needed
1/2 cup dry sherry (can substitute with red wine)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1. To make the marinade: In food processor or blender, process all the marinade ingredients to a paste.

2. Rub the pork all over with the marinade, place it in a large plastic bag, close the bag tightly, and refrigerate overnight.

3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F

4. Place the pork on a rack in a large baking pan. Pour 2 cups of water, the sherry, and the Worcestershire sauce into the pan and roast the pork for 4 hours, basting every 15-20 min. until tender. (Basting this often if not a necessity, but it does make it that better) Cover it loosely with foil if the crust is browning too much.

5. Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Remove the foil, if using, and roast the pork another 30 min., until the skin is crispy.

6. Transfer the pork to a cutting board, cover it loosely with foil, and let stand for 15 minutes before carving. Degrease the pan juices and transfer them to a sauceboat.

7. Carve the pork and accompanied by the pan juices.

Recipe Source: FIESTA, Anya von Bremzen

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Laura's Perfect Salsa

Laura, as you might have noticed is a great cook. Aside from my mother, there is no other person that influenced me greater in the kitchen. She helped me learn how to cook. I don't mean she taught me how to look at a recipe, I mean she taught me how to be a common sense cook.
She has a few recipes that are truly perfection, her beans of course, but her salsa, well, it is heaven. I have never tasted salsa quite so good. And, when you see how simple it is you are going to be astounded that you to can blend such a good creation.
It tastes like it was made from home-grown ingredients. Truly amazing. If you only make one thing from this blog, make this.
Laura thinks the hotter the salsa, the better it tastes. We are having to constantly reign in her jalapeno use. I have to agree, this salsa, the hotter the better! It still tastes wonderful when made mild, so do not let that stop you.
This recipe makes a ton of salsa. You can cut in half if you are just making it for your family.

Laura's Perfect Salsa

1/2 Onion Chopped
2 Cans Rotel Tomatoes (16 oz cans)
1 Jalapeno Chopped (optional or cut in half and remove seeds)
1/4 bunch cilantro chopped

1 Teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon comino (cumin powder)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Combine onion, jalapeno & juice of one can rotel in blender. Blend until smooth.

Drain second can of rotel and add spices and tomato. Blend until smooth.


Laura's Perfect Pinto Beans

This is a fail safe recipe. My best friend Laura shared this recipe with me a few years ago. This is one recipe that I have deviated from only a few times and have never been as satisfied as with her original recipe. As with any dish, I hope you will add more of things you do like, or hold back on things you do not like, make it what you would enjoy. But, I would suggest making it from this recipe first, just to try it out.
I serve it for dinner, at every party, and for no reason at all. I have never had these beans come out bad. (Well, once I put in to much salt...YUCK!) They are so good.
I would recommend always making a full pound of beans. There are so many options as to what you can do with the leftovers. Chalupas, refried beans for breakfast, bean burritos, the list of bean dishes is endless, not to mention cheap. I have found that most main dish recipes that call for beans are extremely inexpensive to make.
You can make these beans as spicy or as mild as you wish. To achieve a more milder bean, leave out the red pepper flakes, or cut the recommendation in half. If you are not comfortable with spicy beans, I would not recommend leaving out the jalapeno at the beginning. It serves as a flavoring agent, not as a heat device. Just remember to remove it before serving, because when eaten it is still very hot.
If you want to make this vegetarian leave out the bacon. It does give the beans a nice smoked flavor, but half the time I don't even have bacon in house. They are delish with, or without meat.
Enjoy, this is one of my favorites things to make since it is so easy and so satisfying.

Perfect Pinto Beans

1 pound of pinto beans (no soaking required)
3 pieces of raw bacon
1/2 Onion
1 Large Jalapeno
Cook 1 1/2 -2 hours on a med-low heat, just a slight boil, just until soft.

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoon comino (cumin powder)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 tespoon salt

Stir, cook another 10 min and serve.

Sausage and Sundried Tomato Lasagna

This Lasagna recipe is much more complicated then that last one. I got the bulk of the recipe from a Cooking Light magazine, and tweaked it just a bit when I prepared it a second time. The original recipe did not call for meat or sun dried tomato's. I feel the addition of both of these ingredients adds wonderful flavor that should not be missed.
This lasagna authentic and absolutely to die for. This dish is recommend for people that already love to cook. It take much time to prepare and requires much love from the chef. You have to pay attention when going forward with each step from preparing the mixtures to assembly, it does make you work.
Do not feel daunted if you want to try something new and exciting in your kitchen, somthig that is absolutely gourmet. I offer you the challenge. You will not be disappointed with the outcome. This dish far exceeds any lasagna I have had at a restaurant, and I know with your love, it will far exceed your expectations.

Italian Lasagna

2 Teaspoons Olive Oil
1 ½ Cups Chopped Onion
1 ¼ Cups Spaghetti Sauce (I used some sort of tomato and basil)
½ Cups water
¼ Cups sundried tomato
1 Package (10 Oz) Hot Italian Sausage
1 Can tomato Sauce
1 (12 oz) Carton Cottage Cheese
2 Large Egg Whites
1 Cup Fat Free Ricotta
½ Teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 package lasagna noodles (use the mostly cooked kind to save time)
1 ½ Cups mozzarella cheese

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2) Cook noodles according to package and set aside.
3) Heat oil in dutch oven (large pot) over med. Heat. Ass onion and sauté 5 min. until tender. Add sausage and sauté 3 min. until mostly brown.
4) Add spaghetti sauce, water, and tomato sauce, cover and reduce heat. Simmer for 5 min.
5) Combine cottage cheese and egg whites in food processor (or blender); process until smooth. Place cottage cheese mix in large bowl. Stir in ricotta, Italian seasoning and garlic.
6) Spread ½ cup sausage mixture in bottom of a 13X9 baking dish. Arrange 3 noodles over sausage miz; top with ¾ cup of ricotta mix; top with 1 ¾ cup of sausage mix and 1/3 cup mozzarella. Repeat layers inding with noodles. Spread remaining sausage mix over noodles. Cover with foil coated with cooking spray.
7) Bake @375 for 40 min. *Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella. Bake uncovered for an additional 20 min or until cheese is browned.
8) Let stand 10 min before serving.

Quick Veggie Lasagna

Lasagna is one of those things that everybody loves and most people are terrified of preparing. I have two lasagna recipes that are both scrumptious in their own right. The one I am posting here is very simple, quick and very very easy. This is a great meal to prepare for a kids party or dinner on a weeknight. It requires little prep. time and fewer ingredients then most lasagnas. Even the most beginner cooks can tackle this and always get it right.
My only tip for this recipe is that you read each step when putting the lasagna together. Do not just read once and assemble again from the first instructions.

Quick Veggie Lasagna

Veggie cooking spray
15-ounce container low-fat ricotta cheese
1 cup mashed firm tofu or low-fat cottage cheese
1-teaspoon garlic, chopped
½ tablespoon Italian herbs
½ fresh grated Parmesan cheese
4 cups spaghetti sauce 1 ½ jars (store bought is good here. But, homemade is REALLY good)
12 lasagna noodles
2 cups grated part skim mozzarella cheese
1-¼ cups chopped broccoli or other chopped veggie (I used marinated artichoke)

Preheat oven to 350°F
Spray a 9-by-13-inch pan with cooking spray
Mix together ricotta, tofu, garlic, basil, and Parmesan.
Assemble ingredients in this order:

1-cup sauce, spread on the bottom of the pan
4 noodles, touching
½ of cheese mixture
2/3 cup mozzarella
½ of veggies
1-cup sauce
4 noodles
Rest of cheese mixture
Rest of veggies
2/3 cup mozzarella
1-cup sauce
4 noodles
1-cup sauce
2/3 cup mozzarella on top

Cover pan tightly with foil and bake 50 min. Uncover and bake another 30 min. Let stand 15/20 min.

Turkey Chili

If anyone knows Mark and I, they know our Turkey Chili. Very few of our friends and co-workers have not tasted this cooperative creation. Mark and started making this chile about 7 years ago. Back in the "Digorno days" as I like to call them. He and I have experimented for years perfecting the ingredients. Afew years ago Mark had the brilliant idea of adding an Ancho pepper! The pepper really adds depth to the dish. They are readily available in most grocery stores. (At least in Texas) If you are unable to get your hands on one, as Hannah was unable to do recently, you can purchase Ancho Chilie powder and add a few teaspoons of that.

This dish cooks perfect for lots and lots of people. Just keep doubling the ingredients and you can make this for over 25 people! I want to warn you, everyone loves this dish. Whether you are making it for 4 or 45, it is a rare day that someone is not cleaning the bottom of the pot with a good piece of bread.

The best way to serve it is with Feta cheese. We stopped serving that when we started making it for Mark's lunch bunch. Feta is much more expensive then say, colby jack. But, if you are making it for yourself or a nice dinner party, I suggest the Feta cheese. It adds and element of sophistication that chili usually lacks.

Enjoy! Please let me know how you like this dish and how you experimented with the recipe in progress.

Turkey Chili

1 Large Red Onion minced
4 Cloves of Garlic minced very fine
1 Chipotle peppers (optional) minced
1/2 Pounds of Ground Turkey
3 Cans of Black Beans
3 Cans of Diced Tomatoes
2 Tablespoons of Chili powder
2 Tablespoons of Garlic powder
2 Tablespoons of Mexican Oregano
1 Teaspoon of Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 bunch of cilantro
1 Ancho pepper. (The very large dried peppers)
3-4 Tablespoons of Olive oil. (More as needed)

In a very large pot heat oil. Add onions and cook for 3-4 min on med. high heat. Add garlic and chipoltle pepper cook for another 3-4 min until onions start looking clear.

Add turkey, 1 tablespoons of chili powder, and 1 tablespoon of garlic powder, 1 tablespoon of oregano. Cook meat until done, 12-15 min.

While meat is cooking open cans. Add all cans, the rest of the spices, the ancho and the cilantro.
With the cilantro you have 2 options:
1: Chop cilantro and throw it all in this will give a more cilantro taste. This is how I prefer to do it.
2: Wrap the entire bunch with string and pull it all out just before serving.

Heat the Chile through on med-low. When heated, just before serving, pull out ancho chilies, cut up and return to soup.

Serve with green onions, feta cheese, good french bread or corn chips!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Salmon Patties and Spinach Salad

I simply adore cooking. It is my passion, my very best creative outlet. One of my favorite things in the world is to get a new cookbook. I love reading everything the chef has to say, I peruse the book cover to cover imagining cooking the recipes in the book. I am a total dork I know! But, is that not how each one of you embraces your passion?

This blog is intended to share some of my favorite recipes with all my darlings. I am sure I will add plenty of comments about how my family is, and what is going on in the life of my home. But the real meaning of this blog is for me to be able to write down the meals I made the night before. I have been negligent in documenting my creations and favorite recipes. NO MORE! I will post all things yummy for you to try. Please feel free to send me your own recipes so that I may share with others your culinary creations.

One reason I feel I have done so well in my cooking, is because I am not afraid to try creating something new in my kitchen. This started with my love of new dishes and all food non-regional when eating outside the home. I encourage you to try the dishes I present, even if they seem “weird”, I promise I will let you know if it requires an exotic pallet.

Everyone can learn how to cook. The more you nurture your kitchen, the better your food will be. Cooking can be a very daunting task, and as with dogs, your food can smell fear. Abandon your Mac and cheese, canned spaghetti and ranch dressing; there is an entire world of excellent healthy food to embrace. I promise when you find your inner chef, you will never look at your kitchen the same again.

Here will be my first recipe. It seems fitting that this would be my first recipe to post considering it is one of the first things I ever learned how to cook.
This dish is extremely good and very easy. I have been modifying these patties for years, and last night I feel I perfected it.
This is an extremely kid-friendly dish. If you do like spicy, but want to share with your kids, divide the concoction in half just before you add the fresh jalapenos.
Do not feel daunted if you do not have all the spices. I subscribe to the Rachel Ray mentality, use what you got, and use what you like.

Herb Salmon Patties

1 Can Pink Salmon
2 Eggs
1/2 cup Bread Crumbs (You can use plain. I prefer spicy or also know as zesty)
1/2 bunch cilantro finely chopped
2 teaspoons herbs de provence (you may use any number of dried savory spices here)
1-teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1-teaspoon salt
The Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 fresh jalapeno finely chopped
2 tablespoons oil

Mix together. I find your hands make the best spoon when mixing this dish. Make patties about the size of the palm of your hand. You should be able to make around 8 patties.

Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees.

Heat oil in a non-stick pan to med-low. Add as many patties as the pan allows. Do not overcrowd, they will not cook evenly. Allow them to cook about 5-7 and flip, there should be a nice golden brown cover to them. Cook the second side for the same amount of time.

When first batch is done set on baking sheet and stick in oven to stay warm.

Serve with a nice spinach salad mixed with a few red radishes and 1/2 a red bell. Use balsamic vinaigrette as the dressing. The run off from the vinaigrette is very nice on the patties.