Category Archives: Recipes

Tomato Soup

It’s Easter Sunday. We are done with the lunch and egg hunt that we attend every year at the Thomas Hub (which is what I think I will call our Aunt Judy’s house from now on).  Naturally stuffed on ham and other goodies, and completely exhausted from the day’s activities, we got home and wondered what we would do about dinner.  We wanted something simple and not too filling, mostly something to keep us from going to bed hungry.  So Aaron and I decided that grilled cheese sandwiches were the easiest answer.

We almost always have tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches.  I didn’t understand this when I met my husband, but I certainly do now.  In fact, that’s just about the only time I eat tomato soup.  Sadly, we didn’t have any in the house (we usually get Campbell’s Select Harvest) but we did have a can of tomato paste.  So I decided it was time to experiment.

I used one can (six ounces) of tomato paste.  I added two tablespoons of butter, a teaspoon or two of both garlic and onion powder, and some basil paste I had in the fridge that I need to use up.  Now, if you were being a good little cook and not lazy like I am, you would saute one or two cloves of garlic with somewhere between a quarter and a half of a small onion.  When the onions were soft you would then add the tomato paste.  You would also use fresh basil chopped finely, and not paste out of a tube like I used.  But like I said, I’m a lazy cook.  I then added a few shakes of the Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper to taste.  When everything was mixed well I added three cups of milk and kept it on medium high until it just started to boil.  At that point I turned the heat down just a touch and let it simmer for a bit, maybe another ten minutes.  Be sure to check and taste it from time to time to make sure you don’t need to add any salt, pepper, or other seasonings.

The kids dipped their sandwiches in it without too much argument.  I enjoyed it.  Aaron declared that we were never going to buy soup in a can again.  I guess that means he liked it.


Warm Pudding

I was in a bad mood yesterday.  I wanted chocolate, and thought that I wanted to bake, but decided against it for laziness reasons.  So, for kicks, I pulled out my pudding recipe and added cocoa to it.

First, the basic vanilla version…

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups milk, divided

Pinch salt

1/2 cup sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

2 egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon butter or margarine

Directions

Place 2 cups milk and salt in a saucepan. Sprinkle sugar on milk.  Let them sit for a minute without stirring for at least a few minutes; heat over medium-high. Quickly combine cornstarch with remaining milk; add egg yolks and mix well. When milk comes to a full boil, remove saucepan from the heat and stir in cornstarch mixture (I always temper the egg/cornstarch mixture first).  Return to the heat and cook for 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla and butter. Pour into individual dishes. Serve warm.

Now I took this recipe and added 1/2 cup of cocoa powder to the egg mixture.  It was tasty, but extremely rich.  I would recommend starting with 1/4 cup of cocoa for a less intense flavor.

Also note, this recipe is meant to be served warm.  If you chill  it before eating, it will start to get a bit gloopy.  It still tastes wonderful, it’s just not as smooth and pretty as it is when it’s warm.

I would have taken a picture, but I devoured all of it before I thought about it.




Chilli

So!

Remember when I said we were going to do chicken strips and a steak and all that? Well…things happened. School, my kid getting sick and the metroplex I live in becoming covered in a sea of ice. When it came down to it I could write both of those posts right now, but without pictures it kind of feels..pointless, and last night, when the world was frozen and shivering and everyone in my life was teeth chattering cold, I decided to knock out one of my major monthly contributions to our house’s dinner rotations and make a big batch of chilli.

Now before I begin, I want to state that even if I live in Texas, I do not make Texas Chilli. Texas Chilli does not have beans, and there’s a whole bunch of other rules to it and frankly while I enjoy it when I eat it, I live with northerners and I enjoy beans in mine. So if you’re gonna complain about it, then take them out in your mind. Just imagine my household living in a lovely bean free state and all will be well.

So basically, like most of my recipes there’s no real measurements I can provide you..unfortunately I cook by feel, which I think is perhaps the best way to do things like this but I could be wrong. However, my advice is simple, start with a little, and add more. Of everything. Start with a little, taste, and taste, and taste as you go and soon you’ll start to get a ‘feel’ for things.

Right! So with all that said lets begin!

First I take two pounds of ground pork, and two pounds of ground beef and toss it into the pot I’m going to make the chilli in. I brown the whole mess while covering it with a whole slew of things.

3-4 tablespoons of garlic Depending on your love of garlic

1ish tablespoon of Cumin, Oregano, Chilli Powder and whatever strikes your fancy. Cilantro is a good one too.

Then a couple teaspoons of salt and pepper.

 

When the meat is all browned and good, I drain it thoroughly and put it back in the pan. I then add two big cans of crushed tomatoes, and two big cans of tomato sauce. Then a large can of tomato paste and three drained cans of red kidney beans (though I’m dying to try some other beans, like black or the like) and then add a couple more table spoons of garlic, more cumin and oregano and chilli powder and salt and pepper..

Stir it up thoroughly, and taste. It will be a touch..strong here or should be but not too spicy and overwhelming. Bring to a good bubbling simmer and leave on low heat for at least three hours. Tasting throughout and adding whatever you feel is lacking.

I then make cornbread to go with it and serve it with Cornbread which can be eaten on the side, or crumbled up and mixed in. I also give cheese and sourcream and if we’re having company some chips.

I purposefully make a big pot of it when I make it so that we can put into freezer bags in dinner sized portions and thaw it out and reheat it for lunches or dinner as we see fit. It’s a great way to have something on hand that everyone enjoys!

I hope you all enjoy!!

Mmm Chilli.


Coming attractions

I fear that this little bit of quiet is coming at the end of a little bit of nasty fall, and some more settling into routines. However, I still have ideas and things to post on here! I was thinking of doing a a steak broiling tutorial, and we recently made home made chicken strips here that were awesome and I wanted to share them so there is content waiting to make it’s appearance on this stage!

 

I will try to get the tutorial for making a steak up on here this afternoon, but I make no promises. I have a lab exam to study for. Hopefully my lovely assistants will be posting something soon as well!

 

-Jess


Simple Herbed Chicken Breasts

So I was sitting on my couch exhausted this afternoon, chicken breasts in the kitchen thawing, with absolutely no clue what I was going to do with them.  It was “Clean the Kids’ Rooms” day and I was feeling more than  a little wiped out.  I had every intention of doing my usual parmesan chicken nuggets (which I’m only getting a little sick of) when I happened upon the show Cook Yourself Thin.  Now, this is not their recipe.  To be fair, I didn’t really pay attention to what they were doing, I just saw that they were doing an herbed chicken and it sounded good.

I took three chicken breasts (the kids usually share one) and set them aside.  In a large dish I added olive oil, lemon juice, sage, thyme, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper.  I mixed that together well, and dredged the chicken breasts in it.  When the breasts were nice and covered, I let them sit for a while, just to let everything soak in just a touch.

While I waited for the chicken to get cozy with all the ingredients, I went ahead and turned the oven on to 400 degrees.  I also sliced up some potatoes.  I’m not sure I’m even capable of making a meal that doesn’t include those delicious red potatoes anymore.  I might have a few issues.  I tossed the potatoes around with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary.  That’s really all there is to them.  Every thing is to taste.  If you don’t have (or like) rosemary you can easily add basil, or oregano, or thyme, or ROSEMARY, because rosemary is really really good.  Did I mention that I have issues?

I popped everything into the oven, checking the potatoes after about 15 minutes, giving them a good stir (so they don’t stick).  The potatoes take about thirty minutes total.

The Husband devoured it, because that’s what he does.  The four year old ate one bite and declared that he didn’t like it.  Apparently it couldn’t even be saved by ketchup.  He ate the potatoes, but only after scraping the rosemary off of them. The toddler devoured the potatoes, ate two bites of chicken, drank a large glass of milk, and asked for crackers.  That’s my girl.

I thought it was wonderful.

Simple Herbed Chicken Breasts

3 – 4 Chicken Breasts

3 TBSP Olive Oil

1 TBSP Lemon juice

1/4 tsp sage

1/4 tsp thyme

1 tsp rosemary

2 cloves garlic pressed (or chopped)

salt and pepper to taste

In a large dish, combine olive oil, juice, garlic, and seasonings.  Dredge chicken breasts in mixture. When the breasts are fully covered, let them sit in the oil for 10 to 20 minutes.  Turn the oven on to 400 degrees.  Set the chicken on cooking pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until juices run clear.


Pizza for the first time

So Last night I snuck a kid free night over at Lissa’s (she being the only one amongst us without two tagalongs..though she loves ours enough to be partly responsible for them) and to celebrate my freedom and a few hours of relaxation before the new semester comes, I brought up the idea of a home made pizza and she jumped on it. Now she made the pie to go with the dinner so I’ll let her discuss that, but since I made the dough and we both agreed on toppings I’ll handle the pizza.

For the dough, we used Smitten Kitchen’s Basic Pizza dough which I doubled, because I like a good thick bread-y crust. The recipe by the way was great, easy to use and the only complaint I had was that she didn’t have  a temperature listed for baking but we found one on her pizza updated so all was well. For the sauce, we sauteed some garlic and onions, poured in crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper and oregano, and then left it to simmer for 20 minutes while the dough finished raising. For our toppings we used bacon, Brown sugar ham slices, basil leaves (which were chopped) and a ball of mozzarella.

Over all? It was a very yummy pizza! The sauce was a touch saltier than we liked, but that’s easily adjusted, and the dough was a great one for our purposes. I think we’ll try the updated one next time, just for a little bit of flavor to it, and perhaps another one down the line but we both really enjoyed it.

I think we’re going to repeat this one again, we talked about doing a white pizza last night and there are some more ‘out there’ ones that I enjoy that I would like to try. Liss is not down for the bbq pizza but I think that it would be a lovely one to try at home with the boys here.

Smitten Kitchen’s Pizza Dough

Really Simple Pizza Dough

Makes enough for one small, thin crust pizza. Double it if you like your pizza thick and bready.

1 1/2 cups flour (can replace up to half of this with whole wheat flour)
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water (may need up to 1 or 2 tablespoons more)
1 tablespoon olive oil

Stir dry ingredients, including yeast, in a large bowl. Add water and olive oil, stirring mixture into as close to a ball as you can. Dump all clumps and floury bits onto a lightly floured surface and knead everything into a homogeneous ball.

If you are finding this step difficult, one of the best tricks I picked up from my bread-making class is to simply pause. Leave the dough in a lightly-floured spot, put the empty bowl upside-down on top of it and come back in 2 to 5 minutes, at which point you will find the dough a lot more lovable.

Knead it for just a minute or two. Lightly oil the bowl (a spritz of cooking spray perfectly does the trick) where you had mixed it — one-bowl recipe! — dump the dough in, turn it over so all sides are coated, cover it in plastic wrap and leave it undisturbed for an hour or two, until it has doubled in size.

Dump it back on the floured counter (yup, I leave mine messy), and gently press the air out of the dough with the palm of your hands. Fold the piece into an approximate ball shape, and let it sit under that plastic wrap for 20 more minutes.

Sprinkle a pizza stone or baking sheet with cornmeal and preheat your oven to its top temperature. Roll out the pizza, toss on whatever topping and seasonings you like. (I always err on the side of skimpy with toppings so to not weight down the dough too much, or if I have multiple toppings, to keep them very thinly sliced.)

Bake it for about 10 minutes until it’s lightly blistered and impossible to resist.

 

Our recommendations? work with the dough, push and knead it to get it where you want..make sure that you make it even, we had some thicker parts on the pizza that disrupted the even nature of it. Otherwise? delish!

 

A delicious kid free dinner