Monday, November 19, 2007

Chipotle @ Home

The Spouse has been craving flank steak lately, so I decided to just crock one for fajitas. While the meat was crocking, I decided to just go all out. The result was Chipotle/Qdoba @ Home.... for not as much trouble as you'd think!

Seasoned Flank Steak
2 pkgs taco seasoning
beef broth
red wine
fresh cilantro, minced

Add about 1 cup of beef broth and 1/2 cup red wine to crockpot. Mix in the taco seasoning and cilantro. Place flank steak in. Add broth and red wine to cover. Cook on low for 5 hours. Remove flank steak and shred. Separate fat from seasoned broth. Replace flank steak and decanted broth in crockpot and keep warm.

Cilantro-Lime Rice
1 cup uncooked rice
2 1/4 cups water
1 tsp salt
juice of 1 lime (about 1 oz)
~2 tsp fresh cilantro, minced

Combine all ingredients in a 3 quart pan. Bring to a boil, stir once, reduce heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes or until rice is done.

I also served up black beans, sauteed onions and red and green peppers, cheese, more fresh cilantro and salsa verde. Yum!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Seafood Enchiladas

It's dinners like this that are the reason I don't take photos. The food tasted wonderful, the presentation...not so much. Simply put, the seafood mix was too watery for the tortillas, so they sort of fell apart. Note for next time: sauteé the seafood mixture before adding to the tortillas to remove excess moisture.

Seafood Enchiladas

1 lb shrimp, cooked and diced into 1/4" pieces
1/2 lb lump crab meat
4-5 scallions, finely diced
1 can green chiles
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
2 tbsp sour cream
shredded cheese and salsa
enchilada sauce

Combine the first 5 ingredients. Sautee in a pan to remove excess moisture from crab and shrimp. Remove from heat. Add in sour cream and stir to combine.

Place about 2 large spoonfuls down the center of a tortilla. Top with shredded cheese and a bit of salsa. Roll the tortilla up and place in a baking dish, seam side down. Repeat with all of the mix. Top with enchilada sauce. Bake at 375º for 10-15 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Serve immediately.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Irish "Root" Soup

There's a wonderful Irish pub and inn here in Milwaukee called County Clare. They have fantastic food, great beer, wonderful ambiance. It's one of our favorite places to go for dinner. I love everything on their menu.

Except their Root Soup. The recipe is online and has been copied far and wide as the model for Traditional Irish Root Soup.

The problem is, it tastes nothing like the root soup we had in Ireland. It's far too sweet. And it was a lunch staple for us the 2 weeks we were over there, so we sampled plenty of it.

So I set about to try and re-create it. However, I did deviate from the "root" vegetable world to do so. Instead of using sweet potatoes, I used butternut squash (I had one left from the garden). Instead of celery root I just used plain celery. But, ultimately, it was a very good first stab at it. Next time I'll try to find an appropriate substitute for the squash and use celery root.

Irish "Root" Soup

1 medium butternut squash, peeled and sliced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1" pieces
1 medium onion, sliced
2 medium leeks, sliced, white part only
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
Vegetable stock (about 32 oz)
Dry Vermouth (about 1/2 cup)

Season the squash and potatoes with salt and pepper and roast until done.

While they roast, heat a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and swirl to coat. Add in onions and leeks. Sauteé 2-3 minutes or until soft. Add in carrots and celery. Sauteé another 3 minutes.

Add about a cup of broth to deglaze the pan. Add in roasted squash, potatoes, remaining broth and a dash of vermouth. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 20-30 minutes. Season to taste and let soup cool completely.

Puree soup in blender in batches until smooth, adding more vegetable stock as necessary. Return soup to pot and re-heat over medium heat until hot. Serve immediately with a slice of brown bread.

Note: If you don't add too much stock, there's no need to add any heavy cream, making this a healthy yet intensely flavorful soup.

Wine Pairing: Guinness, baby. The only way to go.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Turkey and Wild Rice Casserole

DH has been working incredibly long hours lately. He gets home from work, logs on and works all night long, only taking a break to eat whatever I place in front of him. So I've been doing almost all of the cooking lately. It's exhausting.

Saturday he had to work all day at the office and I wasn't about to slave over a stove that evening for the 5 minutes of time I'd get with him. So I crocked this instead - huge hit for a long, miserable day.

Turkey and Wild Rice Casserole

6 slices bacon, cut into 1/2" pcs.
1 lb. turkey breast tenderloins, cut into 3/4" pcs.
1 med. onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
1 med. carrot, sliced (1/2 cup)
1 med. stalk celery, sliced (1/2 cup)
2 cans (14 1/2 oz.each) ready-to-serve chicken broth
1 can (10 3/4 oz.) cream of chicken soup
1/4 tsp. dried marjoram leaves
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 box uncooked wild rice mix (keep seasoning packet)

Cook bacon and turkey in 10" skillet over med. heat, stirring occasionally, until turkey is brown. Stir in onion, carrot and celery. Cook, 2 min., stirring occasionally; drain. Beat 1 can of the broth and the soup in 3 1/2 qt. slow cooker, using wire whisk, until smooth. Stir in the remaining can of broth, the marjoram and pepper. Stir in turkey mixture, wild rice and seasoning packet. Cover and cook on HIGH 30 min. Reduce heat to LOW. Cook 6-7 hrs. or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Wisconsin Beer Brats

There is so much misinformation out there on how to properly cook beer brats. There's a Bobbly Flay recipe out there that commits nearly all the cardinal sins but because he's the "grill guy", I'm sure everyone thinks it's correct.

First big mistake that "the pros" tells you to do is boil the brats in beer. Never, EVER boil brats. Ever. You will burst their casings. Instead, you need to warm the beer up first, THEN place the brats in it once you've reduced it to a very low simmer.

Second is garnishes - never put yellow mustard on a brat. The correct accompaniment is Düsseldorf mustard (brown or dijon works as well).

Third is buns - hot dog buns are not an acceptable substitute. If you can't find brat buns, make them.

Lastly, this is a simple dish. There is no need for soy sauce, chili sauce, etc. in your batter (the mix of onions and beer). If you have good brats, they should speak for themselves. Don't ruin them with fussy preparation.

Wisconsin Beer Brats

1 white onion, sliced and divided
2 bottles of beer
1 package uncooked bratwurst (generally 4-6 per package)
1 package brat buns

Place beer and half the sliced onion in crockpot or dutch oven. Heat until beer is warm and very gently simmering. Add in uncooked bratwurst. Cook on low until you're ready to grill.

Heat grill to medium. Grill brats for about 10 minutes, browning on all sides. While brats are cooking, sautee up the remaining onion in some olive oil or butter and sprinkle with paprika while sauteeing for a bit of flavor.

Serve with sauteed onion, mustard, relish and whatever else strikes your fancy. I'm a purist, so there's no ketchup on my brat (or hot dog).

We actually had a mix of turkey brats and jalapeno brats from a local butcher. I served them with oven fries and a salad. Yum.

Wine pairing: Beer! I prefer local microbrews but if you feel like slumming it, there's always Miller High Life (the champagne of beers) or MGD.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Crockpot Beef Stew

I've been meaning to make this for ages. Mainly because I wanted to see how it would taste with lavender. Monday Night Football seemed appropriate (GO PACK!), so I whipped this up quick in the morning. I'd forgotten to add garlic to the roast itself, so I added it to the gravy. Turned out fantastic! The Spouse said it was better than his mom's (sorry Mom).

Crockpot Beef Stew

1 lb top round roast
3 medium potatoes, roughly diced
1 onion, finely diced
1 small bag baby carrots
1/2 package green beans
1 pkg onion dip mix
beef broth (about 2 cups)
fresh ground pepper
lavender sea salt

broth from crockpot
corn starch
garlic powder

Coarsely chop up round roast into 1" to 1 1/2" chunks. Sautee in a pan until lightly browned. Drain and set aside. Combine beef broth and onion dip mix.

Layer in crock pot onions, potatoes, carrots, green beans and beef. Add pepper and salt to taste (I used a healthy dose of each). Pour broth mixture over beef and veggies. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Separate beef and veggies from broth and set aside. Place broth in fat separator and then pour into skillet. Warm over medium-high heat. Meanwhile combine 1/4 cup COLD water with 2 tbsp corn starch. Add corn starch mixture to warmed broth and season to taste. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil until you reach your desired thickness (about 1 minute). Pour gravy over stew, stir and serve.

Wine pairing: HRM Rex Goliath Central Coast Shiraz

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Crockpot Chicken Tortilla Soup

I made this up north last year for The Spouse and I and LOVED it. But the batch I made last night was MUCH better. This time I used diced tomatoes instead of stewed and the result was a much heartier, almost chili-like quality. Delicious. You can either dice the chicken breasts up before adding them to the crockpot or cook them whole and shred them afterwards. Add more broth if you want a soupy consistancy.

Crockpot Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cans diced tomatoes, mexican-style
2 cans black beans
1 (4 oz) can diced green chiles
1 cup salsa
2 cups chicken broth
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 bay leaf

cheddar or mexican-style cheese, shredded
tortilla chips, crushed
lime wedges
sour cream

Add all ingredients to the crockpot and cook on low for 8 hours. To serve, add a handful of tortilla chips to the bottom of each bowl and ladle soup over them. Top with garnishes as desired.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Chicken with Green Olives

This is a Cooking Light recipe that has become a household staple. Last night I didn't feel like fussing with the stove, so I made it in the crockpot. I also used some leftover home-marinated olives. Turned out delicious. Below is the crockpot version. Follow the link above for the original.

Crockpot Chicken with Green Olives

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups chopped onion
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic (about 3 cloves)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
Dash of ground red pepper
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2/3 cup pitted green olives

Combine dry spices. Add to crockpot, pour broth over and mix well. Add in onion, garlic and chicken. Cook until chicken is tender, removing the cinnamon stick about halfway thru the cooking time (I cooked it on high for about 2 hours).

Serve with couscous.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Stuffed Portobello Mushroom Burgers

In an attempt to eat less red meat, we're having at least one, if not two, vegetarian meals a week. We've made portobello mushroom burgers before but this time DH wanted a twist. So I made up a stuffing and they turned out delicious!

Stuffed Portobello Mushroom Burgers

1/2 cup feta cheese
1 shallot
1 red bell pepper, deseeded and sliced into quarters
bread crumbs

Other ingredients:
3 Portobello mushroom caps, with stems and gills removed
1 medium onion, sliced
Whole wheat hamburger buns

Roast the red pepper, shallot and onion (I did this under the broiler for about 5-10 minutes).

Meanwhile, pulse feta in a food processor with enough milk to get a slightly creamy consistency. Don't add too much milk - the juice from the veggies will add more moisture.

Blend in the shallot and half of the red pepper. Empty into a bowl. Add about 1/4 - 1/3 cup of bread crumbs until mixture achieves desired consistency (mine looked about as firm as hamburger meat).

Stuff into mushroom caps. Grill until done (I used the George Foreman grill - watch them CAREFULLY or they will disintegrate into pancakes).

I served them up burger style, topping with swiss cheese, roasted onions and more red peppers. But I'm sure you could serve them straight up.

The Stuffing also would make a great generic mushroom stuffing. You could also convert it to a dip easily (don't add the breadcrumbs or extra milk).

Wine Pairing: I served this with a Louis Jadot Chardonnay Bourgogne

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Asian Hot Pot Redux

About a year or so ago I made a very tasty Asian hotpot using not-so-Asian ingredients (green beans, for example).

Yesterday I revisited the idea, with a few twists. My main inspiration was the pound of firm tofu sitting in the fridge.

Asian Hot Pot Redux

3 cups low-sodium chicken broth (I actually used a mish-mosh of open vegetable and chicken broth)
6 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup rice-wine vinegar
1/4 cup mirin
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 pound angel hair pasta (could also use cellophane noodles)
3/4 pound Chinese cabbage, cut into 2-inch pieces
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1/2 pound firm tofu, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/8-inch slices about 1/2 inch wide and 1 1/2 inches long
3 scallions including green tops, sliced

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain. Return to pot.

While pasta is cooking, in a medium stainless-steel saucepan, combine the broth, soy sauce, vinegar, mirin, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, sugar, and salt. Bring just to a simmer, stirring occasionally.

Add the hot ginger broth to the pasta along with the cabbage, tofu, mushrooms and scallions. Bring back to a simmer and cook. While broth is coming to a simmer, sautee chicken in a separate pan. When cooked thru, add to broth and stir to combine. Remove from the heat and let sit about 1 minute. Serve hot.

p.s. I added a dash of chili sauce to give it a kick. Yum.
p.p.s. This is obviously easily made vegan/vegetarian by removing the chicken and substituting in vegetable broth for the chicken broth

Wine Pairing: I pulled out a bottle of Alsatian Pinot Blanc. It paired beautifully, I think. Another option would be a Viogner.

Steak Marinade & Seafood Fritatta

Steak Marinade
Olive oil
Red Wine Vinegar
Balsamic Vinegar
Fresh Lime Juice (plus the limes tossed in)

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Place steaks in ziplock bag, pour marinade over and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Grill and enjoy!

Bonus! the leftovers can be used to make mean fajitas. We combined some leftover BBQ chicken, the leftover steaks, onions, peppers, covered them with fresh lime juce and sauteed them up with seasoning (including the limes tossed in for flavoring). Place mix in a tortilla, sprinkle with cheese, roll up and bake on a cookie sheet for 5 minutes.

Seafood Frittata
4-6 eggs
various seafood, mixed together (we had a mix of crab, shrimp, tuna and sea bass) and sprinkled with fresh lime juice

Heat a non-stick pan over high heat. Whisk eggs thoroughly and add seafood to mix. Spray pan with cooking spray, reduce heat to medium and add the egg mixture. Cook the eggs, gently pulling the sides away from the pan to allow the batter to flow underneath, until the mixture is set and top is just runny. Using creative kitchen techniques, flip the mixture onto a plate and then slide back into the pan (or just use a frittata pan if you have one. or finish it under a broiler, if possible). Finish cooking until the eggs are done. Slice into wedges and serve.

Back in the kitchen!

We were away on vacation for a week, so I didn't have too much new to post. I'll be working on a few new ones this week. Lots of Asian-themed foods. I'll also post the steak marinade "recipe" from last week, plus the seafood fritatta I made with leftovers from dinner out. Mmmmm.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Balsamic-Glazed Pork Chops

No real story this time. We had pork chops, I suggested a balsamic reduction, The Spouse said "Sure!" then cleaned his plate and had seconds. So I think this one was a hit. ;)

Balsamic-Glazed Pork Chops
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tsp honey
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
4 pork loin chops (ours were actually 3 full chops, butterflied, which I cut into 6)
salt (I used my lavendar-infused fleur de sal)

Mix together the broth, vinegar and honey in a medium bowl. Set aside

Heat pan over medium heat. Add butter and let melt until it starts to brown. Add in olive oil.

Season pork chops with salt and pepper. Dredge through flour and place in pan. Sautee 4 minutes on each side or until mostly cooked through. Remove from pan and keep warm.

Deglaze the pan with the balsamic sauce. Using a whisk, loosen the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and add the pork chops back in, turning occasionally to coat on all sides. Simmer until the sauce has reduced to about 1/4 cup. Plate the pork chops, drizzle with sauce, and serve.

Wine Pairing: I'd pair my favorite Spanish Grenache with this. Syrah/Shiraz would also be a good choice (as would a grenache/syrah blend).

Monday, September 17, 2007

Chocolate Chip Scones

I'm really behind in my updating this blog. :D

Last weekend I wanted to make a nice breakfast. I was tired of the usual bowl of cereal. So I decided I was going to make homemade scones. I found a recipe online that sounded good and, well, made a few changes (reduced the butter by half, used Splenda instead of sugar, skipped the nuts cause I didn't have any). They turned out delicious, of course. Served with a cup of fresh Alterra coffee (I'm currently enthralled with their "Blue Heeler" blend) and scrambled eggs.

Chocolate Chip Scones
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup Splenda
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
1/3 cup semi sweet chocolate chips or chunks
2/3 cup buttermilk (I soured some skim milk with lemon juice - 1 cup + 1 tbsp is the ratio)
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

Egg mixture for brushing tops of scones:
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon milk

Preheat oven temperature to 400º F.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut the butter into small pieces and blend into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or two knives. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs. Stir in the chocolate chips. In a small measuring cup combine the buttermilk with the maple syrup and then add to the flour mixture, stirring just until the dough comes together. Do not over mix the dough.

Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead the dough gently four or five times and then pat the dough into a circle that is about 7 inches round and about 1 1/2 inches thick. Cut this circle in half, then cut each half into 4 pie-shaped wedges. You will have 8 scones altogether. Place the scones on the baking sheet. Make an egg wash of one well-beaten egg mixed with 1 tablespoon milk and brush the tops of the scones with this mixture.

Bake for about 18 - 20 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and then turn your broiler on high. Transfer to a wire rack to cool or eat hot, fresh out of the oven!

Makes 8 scones.

BBQ Beef Sandwiches

I made these the first time for our first open house when we moved into the condo, along with chili. The Spouse didn't even get to have any, it was all gone - all of it, every last schnibble - within minutes (the chili was also a hit but the sandwiches were the clear winner). I make it at least once a year in a large batch and freeze about half of it.

The original recipe called for ketchup and liquid smoke flavoring. Uh. Ok. Instead I just use Rudy's Original BBQ Sause (no, that's NOT a typo). It HAS to be Rudy's - most BBQ sauces in the store are far too sweet for this to turn out right. Rudy's is tangy and a little sweet but smoky and spicy enough to give you a kick in the pants. There's nothing like it. You can order the "sause" online (I also recommend their rub!).

BBQ Beef Sandwiches

2 1/2 lb. lean boneless chuck roast
1/4 cup Rudy's Original BBQ Sause
1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 garlic clove -- crushed
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
10 French rolls or sandwich buns -- (10 to 12)

Place beef in slow cooker. Combine remaining ingredients, except rolls. Pour over meat. Cover and cook on LOW 8 to 9 hours. Turn crockpot to WARM and remove beef from sauce. Shred beef by pulling it apart with 2 forks and place back in crockpot, stir to mix sauce in and heat thru. Serve warm on rolls.

Wine recommendation: Screw the wine - BBQ calls for Beer. So crack open a Shiner Bock and enjoy!

Vodka Pasta with Soy Crumbles and Sweet Potato Gratin

I've been trying to convince my husband to try soy crumbles for over a year now. He's flat out refused until recently when I made a frittata using them. He couldn't get over how good it smelled and looked - he didn't get to sample any though since it was for a brunch elsewhere.

So, now that I had his curiosity piqued, I decided to give it a go and ease him into the joys of meatless meat. I had some leftover diced olives and artichokes from a pizza I'd made earlier in the week, so I used those up as well.

Vodka Pasta with Soy Crumbles
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic
1/2 can diced olives
1/2 can diced artichoke hearts
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cans tomato sauce
1 pkg Soy Crumbles
italian seasoning
hot pepper flakes

Heat pan and add olive oil to it. Sauteé onions and garlic until soft. Add in diced olives and artichokes and sauteé another minute or two. Add in tomatoes, tomato sauce, crumbles, seasoning, pepper flakes and vodka. Simmer until heated thru, about 10 minutes. Serve over al dente pasta of your choice.

The Sweet Potato Gratin recipe was originally from Real Simple but high in fat and calories. I halved the butter and cheddar and used skim milk instead. Turned out just fine.

Suggested Wine: Purists would suggest that having a vodka martini is the way to go. But for those who would prefer something a bit more refined, you can't go wrong with a Chianti.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

The Spouse dislikes butternut squash (well, ok, most squash) but I convinced him to let me grow some in the garden this year.

There are thousands of recipes for this online. This version is my own. Admittedly, one can create only so many variations on a theme. But this is the only version my husband will willingly consume. I think it's the vermouth. ;)

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and deseeded, cut in half lengthwise
spray olive oil
Portuguese sea salt
fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a roasting pan with spray olive oil, place halved squash on it. Coat squash with spray oil. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Roast in oven for approximately 20 minutes or until squash is tender. Cut squash into 1" cubes.

Note: You can reserve the seeds and toast them to serve as a garnish.

3 cups leek, coarsely chopped
olive oil
1 bay leaf
3/4 tsp lavender infused fleur de sal
5 cups organic low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1/4 cup of sweet vermouth
Roasted butternut squash

In a large stock pot, sautee leeks in olive oil until tender. Add broth, bay leaf, salt, vermouth and squash. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 12-15 minutes. Let cool. Puree soup in batches. Rewarm over medium heat.

Top with toasted seeds, if desired.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Crockpot "Creamy" Chicken Enchiladas

Last night was a definitive "What Recipe?" moment in our house. I was going to make crockpot chicken enchiladas, using the broth that I was crocking the chicken breasts in to make the creamy sauce to add to the inside of the enchilada (with a bit left over to drizzle over the top).

Well, we got home later than I had planned and most of the sauce had baked away and what was left was already thickened. Time to make things up as I go along. I had also planned on making a corn salsa (corn, black beans, red peppers)... but our red peppers had gone bad and we didn't have any corn. So, uhm, mixed veggies were substituted instead.

What follows is definitely my best guess.....

Crockpot "Creamy" Chicken Enchiladas

~1 cup chicken broth (I had measured out a cup, then decided I needed more once I put the chicken in)
1 pkg taco seasoning
1 lb chicken breasts
green enchilada sauce

1 tbsp butter
all-purpose flour (measure out about 1 1/2 tbsp)
chicken broth
poultry seasoning

Pour chicken broth into crockpot, whisk in taco seasoning. Add chicken and cook on low for 6-8 hours until the chicken is done and sauce has thickened.

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Shred chicken, mix in thickened sauce from the crockpot. Place in tortillas, top with with cheese and green sauce and roll. Place in baking dish, seam-side down.

Heat pan over medium-high heat. Add in butter and melt. Sprinkle in flour, whisking constantly, until it starts to thicken and form a roux. Add in chicken broth, milk, more flour, allow to thicken, again whisking constantly. Add in salt and poultry seasoning to taste.

Pour sauce over tops of enchiladas. Sprinkle with cheese and green sauce. Bake at 350ºF for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted and heated through.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Black Bean Soup with Cheese Quesadillas

Being sick of leftover lasagna from a week ago and also in the mood for "Fall" comfort food, I decided to make Black Bean Soup last night for dinner. The spouse requested quesadillas as well, so I used up some leftover pepper-jack cheese slices from when we made burgers and grilled 'em up on the George.

In true "What Recipe?" fashion, below is my best estimation of what I used.

Black Bean Soup
1 cup medium salsa
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed*
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth

Warm salsa in medium saucepan. Add in broth and black beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat, divide in half.

Place half the soup in a blender and toss in the freezer to cool (about 10 minutes). Blend until thick. Add back to saucepan with remaining soup and heat through. Serve with sour cream, cilantro and lime wedge for garnish.

* The last time I made this The Spouse said it was thicker. I can't remember but it's possible I didn't drain or rinse the beans that time, so you could try that if you'd like.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Wine and Food

As requested, one of the things I'd really like to feature on this blog is wine pairings.

I've been "into" wine for around 9 years. My brother and sister lived in California for a decade, each. They came back with a love of wine. In fact, my brother was an engineer for a firm (Hensel Phelps) that helped build the Joseph Phelps winery (yes, that same Phelps). Anyone familiar with with JP knows their wines. I have a bottle of '98 Cab Sauv in my wine fridge, courtesy of same said brother.

I started taking wine tasting courses at Grapes & Grain in Mequon, WI. I took a variety of course, from basic wine tasting to wines of the world to wine and food pairings.

It's the latter I'd like to focus on in this blog. IMO, you can appreciate good wine but until you can appreciate wine with it's perfect counterpart - food (and ALL foods) - you don't know half of what you're talking about.

Personal wine preferences - I really don't have any! I like whites, red, sweet, dry, robust, simple, cheap, expensive...I try (and like) all sorts of wines - from $7 to $70. I think wine needs to reflect the mood you're trying to achieve. If you're looking for a simple apertif to unwind with after work, then I'll go suggest buying a bottle of $10 reisling from your local grocer. There's no need to spend $20 on a bottle for something so simple. If you want something "more" or something "exotic", I can suggest that too.

Nine times out of ten, if I offer a pairing, this is something I have tried and liked. But my palette does not equal yours (or even my husband's!), so what I may like, you may not. And that, ultimately, is the brilliance of wine. And if I get just one person to step outside the Merlot/Chardonnay box for one meal, then it's worth it.

Spicy Corn Bread

I based this off of a recipe on AllRecipe (Irish Spicy Cornbread). I wasn't thrilled with the shortening in the recipe, nor the amount. So I subbed in butter instead and halved the amount. Also, I just baked it in a regular 9x9 pan rather than a pre-heated skillet.

The bread turned out light and fluffy and perfect. Though it was more than "mildly spicy". For the faint of heart, I'd reduce the Tobasco sauce by about half. My husband and I love spicy food but even this took our breath away a bit.

Paired this with shrimp jambalaya - delicious.