Monday, October 18, 2010

Cold Cure Soup

For my friends over at TEC, here's my recipe for Cold Cure Soup! This is a bare-bones, not fancy-looking recipe post. Deal with it!

You'll need:
2 large onions
7-8 cloves of garlic
3 cans veg or chicken broth. Stock is better if you can get it - 2 boxes of stock if you get that stuff in the boxes.
2 chicken breasts
2 carrots
2 ribs of celery
3 potatoes
dash of olive oil
pinch salt
pepper to taste
1 bay leaf
1 tsp red pepper flakes
Italian seasoning to taste (basil, parsley, rosemary, thyme)

Dice onion, mince garlic, chop celery and carrots. Pour small amount of oil in pot over medium heat, sweat onions, garlic, celery, red pepper and carrots with a pinch of salt until onions are see-through. Add bay leaf, pepper, seasoning, and broth/stock. Dice potatoes and chicken breast into bite sized pieces, add to broth. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until potatoes and chicken are cooked through.

Onions and garlic are said to help the immune system, and the little kick of red pepper should help clear clogged noses.


Monday, June 15, 2009

Garlic Bread

Garlic Bread, delicious carb-y goodness and a great snack. Making your own garlic bread at home can be fast and easy! It requires very little time and very little finesse in the kitchen.

Servings: About 10 good-sized pieces
Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Cooking Time: 4-5 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

-Serrated Knife
-Butter Knife
-Chef's Knife
-Small Bowl
-Cookie Sheet
-Oven with broiler
-cutting board

-One Loaf of French or Sourdough Bread, unsliced
-1 stick (8 tablespoons or 1/2 cup) butter
-4 cloves of garlic
-1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
-Salt and Pepper to taste

Place the butter in the small bowl and allow it to soften at room temperature. As the butter softens, line the cookie sheet with the tinfoil, shiny-side up. Set oven to broil. Slice the loaf of bread length-wise with the serrated knife. Mince the garlic into small pieces with the Chef's Knife on the cutting board. Add the garlic, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper to the butter. Mix them together with the fork until all the ingredients are well-combined. Using the butter knife, spread half of the butter mixture on each half of the loaf of bread (butter the soft side, not the crust side!). Place bread buttered-side up on the cookie sheet, then place bread in the oven under the broiler for 4-5 minutes, checking frequently to prevent burning. Remove from oven when the bread looks toasty, golden brown and delicious, and before any burning. Cut into pieces and enjoy, perhaps with some pasta!


Friday, April 3, 2009

Chicken and Dumplings

Nothing says comfort like one-pot meals, and as far as one-pot meals go, Chicken and Dumplings is pretty much king. This isn't quite a dish you can leave simmering all day, but it's great to go back and forth to during your dailies. I've made this recipe a bit easier by having it made with Bisquick dumplings instead of dumplings made from scratch. They taste delicious and make it a whole heck of a lot easier.

Servings: About 6-8 bowls
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

-A Large Pot with Lid
-Long-Handled Spoon
-Chef's Knife (or other large knife)
-Cutting Board
-Small Bowl
-Large Bowl
-Ladle, for serving


-4 to 5 frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts
-Two medium-sized brown or yellow onions
-7 to 8 cloves of garlic
-4 to 5 carrots
-3 to 4 stalks of celery
-1 can corn
-2 quart-sized boxes of chicken stock
-Milk (at least 2 cups)
-Olive Oil
-Bisquick or similar biscuit baking mix
-4 tbsp Corn Starch

-2 tbsp Italian Herb Seasoning
-3 Bay Leaves
-(optional) Fresh Parsley for garnish

Dice up your onions, mince the garlic and slice up the carrots and celery. Put your pot on the burner over medium heat and add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of your pot. Add the onions, carrots, garlic and celery to the pot, and add 1-2 tablespoons of salt. I know it seems like a lot, but you're using the salt to draw liquid out of the veggies, and besides, you probably won't be adding much more to the soup. Stir this up and let the vegetables "sweat", or give off their delicious juices. Once the onions start to look a bit see-through-y, add the chicken stock, Italian seasoning, bay leaves, and pepper (to taste), along with the corn and frozen chicken breasts. Cover the pot and turn the heat up to medium high.

After the broth's been boiling for a few minutes, fish out the chicken breasts and place them on your cutting board. But the chicken into bite-sized pieces and place it back in the pot, reducing the heat to medium and putting the lid back on. Allow to cook for at least 5 minutes. While your chicken is cooking, put the corn starch in a small bowl and add a cup of milk. Stir with small spoon until the corn starch is dissolved, then add this to your broth. This will both thicken the broth and make it more creamy and delicious.

Prepare dumplings according to directions on the box of your baking mix in the large bowl. If you don't see directions for dumplings, follow the directions for biscuits minus anything having to do with the oven. With Bisquick, you'll be mixing 2 1/4 cups of mix with 2/3 cup milk. Using your spoon, scoop dough into the boiling soup. Allow to cook uncovered for 5 minutes, then cover and cook for another 10 minutes.

Once the dumplings are finished, your dinner's ready to eat!


Monday, July 7, 2008

Devil's in the Details: Teriyaki Chicken

Teriyaki chicken by itself is a pretty simple dish. On the surface, there's not a whole lot to it - sauce and chicken, cooked, probably served over rice. Maybe with a side of veggies. However, it is in the application of these simple elements that things often go amok, the result being a lackluster chicken. I know we talked about another application of this delicious sauce not all that long ago, but my love for a good teriyaki chicken makes me feel the need to share my tips with you.

The Basics: What is Teriyaki?
Well, Wikipedia tells us that:

The word teriyaki derives from the noun teri (η…§γ‚Š, teri), which refers to a shine or luster given by the sugar content in the tare (sauce), and yaki (焼き, yaki), which refers to the cooking method of grilling or broiling.
What does this tell us about teriyaki? Well, first it tells us that we are looking for some delicious caramelization of the sauce on the outside of the meat, and it even goes so far as to tell us how to get that - through grilling or broiling the marinated meat. Teriyaki chicken is not baked! This is an important distinction to make. I've seen chicken marinated in a perfectly fine teriyaki sauce baked in the oven as one would with many other marinated chicken dishes, and the result, while somewhat tasty, is definitely not teriyaki chicken. Without the caramelization and slight char on the chicken, you do not experience the same combination of flavors that teriyaki was made for.

Let's break down the three components of the process that determine our end result in order to create a truly hassle-free and delicious teriyaki chicken:

The Chicken
Good eats start with good meats, and good meats are often very subjective. It is a matter of preference whether you like white or dark meat, and I'm not going to tell you what's right here. Skin and bones, however, are important to discuss. Now, bone-in chicken will take longer to cook, and is often better if you plan to be grilling your chicken as it can impart a flavor all its own as it cooks. Some purists will tell you that your chicken must have skin in order to be real teriyaki chicken, but skin-on chicken has a lot more potential for screw-ups. While a crispy skin can add a wonderful flavor to the chicken, a soggy, flabby skin takes so much more away. If you're comfortable working with skin-on chicken, then by all means go for it! I personally recommend boneless, skinless chicken breasts to the cook just learning to make teriyaki chicken. They're foolproof and very tasty!
If you are using frozen chicken, make sure the chicken is at least slightly thawed before marinating in order to have it soak up the flavor faster. Speaking of which!

The Sauce
Now I talked a bit about sauce when I talked about teriyaki burgers. In case you missed it:
Teriyaki Sauce: You will either find this in the "Asian Foods" aisle or with the BBQ sauces and Marinades. A good teriyaki sauce is nice and thick, and coats the sides of the bottle like cough syrup. A common brand that I recommend is 'Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki Sauce' - and it's Kosher, too!
This all applies here, too. Okay, so I got a bit lazy on the sauce part. But trust me, this is important to remember! Marinate your chicken for at least two hours for the best flavor.

While grilling and broiling are most certainly the most traditional methods of making teriyaki chicken, the home cook with less experience will find cooking in a pan on stovetop much easier. Heat a large non-stick skillet on medium-high heat with a small amount of vegetable oil, no more than 1-2 tablespoons. When the skillet is hot, add your chicken breasts. Spoon a bit of sauce over the breast, let cook 2-3 minutes, then flip and spoon sauce over the other side. Continue applying sauce and flipping until you get a nice dark caramelization and slight char on the outside of each breast. If you cut open the breast, the meat should be white all the way through and the juices should run clear. I recommend you cut open the breast to check done-ness until you get the hang of what a "done" breast looks like.

Serve over sticky rice with some extra sauce from the bottle, if desired. Goes great with a bit of blanched broccoli.


Friday, June 27, 2008

Cheap Food Mods 2: Wrath of Pasta

In our last installment of Cheap Food Mods, I told you how to make ramen extra tasty. After a very successful, very cheap pasta dinner for six last night, I thought I would share with you some of the easy and cheap ways to make your pasta extra delicious. Pasta is one of the great three cheap college staples (pasta, ramen and rice) and is super cheap - even after the added cost of toying with it and adding stuff to it.

When shopping for sauce, if you can afford it it's always better to get one of the slightly more expensive and tastier brands rather than settling for the bargain brands. In fact, while we're on the subject of shopping, it's always a good idea to have plenty of pasta on hand, since it's a good "what-the-hell-else-is-in-the-kitchen?" meal. If you see pasta or pasta sauce on sale, stock up!

By the by, if you're not all that into your average pasta sauce and you're a bit sick of butter or olive oil, try Italian Dressing or a vinaigrette of some kind. It's yummy! You may also be into pesto. Yes, I know, it looks funky. It's basically just a bit of cheese, basil and olive oil, though, so it's really good!

Back on the topic of normal sauces, if you need to buy the bargain brand (or even if you buy the good brand), you can easily augment your sauces to make them your own and very tasty, to boot. Always taste your sauce warm before adding anything to it, as without knowing how it tastes you won't know what to add. Salt and pepper are often the first things that people think of adding, and you'll probably know when to add that. A touch of cayenne can add a nice little bite to your sauce. A little bit of sugar is a nice addition to some of the all-natural, super-healthy sauces but is probably not needed for most mass-manufactured sauces. Adding meat can also add some flavor to the sauce...

One of the reasons why you feel so unfulfilled when eating nothing but ramen or pasta is the fact that you aren't getting any protein in your diet. Now, meat is usually a bit costly, but you can make a little bit go a long way with pasta. For example, take a half pound of cheap ground beef and cook it up with some diced onions, salt and pepper, drain the fat and add it to your sauce. Easy! For something a bit more flavorful, take a half pound of Italian sausage, cut open the casings and crumble off pieces of the meat into a hot pan, cook with onions, and add it to your sauce. By breaking apart the sausages, you stretch out the meat a bit farther. Chicken is delicious just by itself in pasta, but you can get a bit fancier...

Pan-fried Chicken for Pasta
Serves: 2-3
Active Cook time: ~30 minutes
Difficulty: Super Easy

-Medium-sized or smallish pan (I use a 10" diameter pan)
-Small Mixing Bowl
-Plate with Paper Towels

-2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
-1/2 cup breadcrumbs, preferably Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
-1 tsp Italian seasoning
-2tsp pepper
-1 tsp salt
-2 to 3 cups Olive Oil

Cut the chicken into small pieces, no bigger than one inch cubes. Mix the breadcrumbs, flour, and seasonings in the bowl until all the seasonings are evenly spread throughout the mixture. Bread each piece of chicken in the mixture. Meanwhile, place your pan over medium-high heat and put in enough oil to cover the bottom well. When the oil is hot, place some of the chicken pieces to the pan, leaving about 1/4 inch of space between each piece - you'll be cooking in batches, so don't worry when you can't fit everything in the pan.

Cook for 2-3 minutes, flipping over each piece of chicken when the bottom is golden brown and the edges have gotten a bit white. Cook for another 2-3 minutes on the other side. Check for done-ness on the first piece you remove by breaking it in half with your fork. If the meat is white the whole way through, it's done. Remove from pan and put on a plate covered with one or two paper towels to absorb the excess oil. Start the next batch when there's room and cook as above. Serve with Pasta and enjoy!


Friday, June 20, 2008

Teriyaki Burgers

When I was wee, there was a joint near my home called Ed's Gourmet. They had the most delicious Teriyaki burgers and even Teriyaki Cheesesteak sandwiches. Having not been a fan of cheese as a child (I still carry some cheese prejudice to this day), I never tried it myself, but I hear it's unlike anything you've ever tasted - in a very, very good way. I was delighted upon doing a search that yes, they still exist. There are so few delightful little greasetrap restaurants, and even fewer run by a small Japanese family. The man I remember manning the grill, Ed himself, had eyes like my father's and a goatee spiked with gray. In my dad's last few years he sported a similar goatee, and when I think of teriyaki burgers I think of him, and our trips to Ed's. We would munch on our burgers and play chess together using the weathered wooden set they had there, and one day, years from that moment, my father would be wearing the same gray goatee that the man in the apron behind the counter wore.


So anyway, I made some burgers. Here's a recipe!

Teriyaki Burgers

Serves: 4-5 people
Cook time: ~20-30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

-Large Non-Stick Pan
-Large Mixing Bowl
-Chef's Knife and Cutting Board
-Marinade or Basting Brush
-Cookie Sheet
-(optional) Powder-Free Latex Gloves
-(optional) Cook'd Right Hamburger Sensors

-1lb Ground Sirloin
-1 medium onion, diced into small pieces
-2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
-1 1/2 cups teriyaki sauce (plus more for condiments, if you want)
-1 tsp dried ginger
-1 tsp salt
-2 tsp pepper
-Non-stick Cooking Spray
-Hamburger Buns
-Optional Garnishes: 1 can Sliced Pineapple, 1-2 Tomatoes (sliced), Green leaf Lettuce, Red Onion (sliced), Pickles (sandwich style)
-Optional Condiments: Mayonnaise, Ketchup, Mustard

Before You Cook: Notes on Shopping for Teriyaki Burgers
Ground Sirloin: You can get pre-ground sirloin in your grocer's meat department, but I strongly recommend picking out a nice sirloin steak and taking it to the butcher behind the meat counter to have it ground fresh. The difference in taste is definitely noticeable.
Teriyaki Sauce: You will either find this in the "Asian Foods" aisle or with the BBQ sauces and Marinades. A good teriyaki sauce is nice and thick, and coats the sides of the bottle like cough syrup. A common brand that I recommend is 'Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki Sauce' - and it's Kosher, too!
Pineapple: You don't need to get pineapple for your teriyaki burgers, but I highly recommend it. Go for the canned sliced pineapple for convenience, or if you have the time you can always break down a fresh pineapple.
Hamburger Buns: Onion Buns are a good commonly available bun for these, but if you have them available I strongly recommend using King's Hawaiian Sweet Snacker Rolls. They compliment the flavors wonderfully!
Powder-Free Latex Gloves: These make mixing up dishes by hand a snap, whether you're working on Meatloaf or Hamburgers, mixing the meat by hand is way easier than using a fork. You can find these in with first aid supplies at your local supermarket. Make sure to get powder-free so that you don't add any unwanted plasticky flavor to your burgers, because that would not be tasty.

Combine ground sirloin, diced onion, minced garlic, 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce, ginger, salt and pepper into the large mixing bowl. Moosh together to combine until the onion and Teriyaki sauce seem evenly distributed. You can combine either using a fork or by using gloved hands. Once you've combined these ingredients, you can let them rest covered in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours to let the flavors soak in (meaning you can do this ahead of time - something I'm a huge fan of!) or form your burgers right away.

Grab a small handful of meat and form it into a ball, then flatten. You want the uncooked patty no thicker than 1/2 inch - it's going to bunch up a bit when it's cooking and you don't want too fat a burger. Make sure that it's either about the same size or a bit bigger than your hamburger buns, you can add or remove meat as needed to achieve the correct size. Put the patty on the cookie sheet and continue making patties of the same shape/size until you run out of meat - you will probably make around 4-6 burgers depending on size.

Give your non-stick pan a quick coat of non-stick spray and put over medium heat. Using the remaining cup of Teriyaki sauce and the marinade brush, give the top of each patty a coating of sauce. Once the pan is warm, place burgers in the pan sauce-side down leaving about an inch of space between each burger - you'll probably get 2-3 burgers in the pan. Give the burgers a coat of sauce on the side that's facing up. Cook for 4-5 minutes, patting down the burgers as needed to keep them from getting too thick, then flip using spatula. Give the burgers another coat of sauce. Let cook for another 4-5 minutes, you should notice that both sides are a nice dark brown because of the sauce. If you're nervous about doneness, use a Cook'd Right Hamburger Sensor on the first burger to see when it's safe to eat, then use that burger as the standard you judge doneness by.

If you're using pineapple, once the burgers are done I recommend cooking up the pineapple in the same pan as the burgers, brushing them with Teriyaki sauce on each side as well. Cook for about 2-3 minutes per side.

This recipe is easily doubled for large groups of people, and can also be grilled!

Optional Fun: Pineapple Teriyaki Sauce
If you're using canned pineapple, combine the juice from the can and about 1 cup of Teriyaki sauce in the pan you used to cook the hamburgers and pineapple, then let simmer down until it becomes a bit thicker. Remove from heat, then put the sauce in a container and let refrigerate until it cools and thickens up a bit more, then use on your burgers or as a very tasty chicken marinade.

Optional Fun: Teriyaki Sliders
You'll Need:
-Dinner Rolls (instead of Hamburger Buns - I recommend King's Hawaiian sweet Dinner Rolls!)
-Plastic Wrap
-Rolling Pin (or a clean dowel, or a clean bottle of wine)
-(optional) Pizza Cutter

Prepare the hamburger meat as above, but instead of forming patties lay out two sheets of plastic wrap about the size of your cutting board and sprinkle or spray with a bit of water to prevent some sticking to the wrap. Place half of the meat between the sheets, with the watered side facing the meat, then roll out to about 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into 4 inch squares using a knife or pizza cutter, then repeat this with the other half of the meat.

Give your non-stick pan a quick coat of non-stick spray and put over medium heat, brush down the patties with teriyaki sauce, and cook as above, but only cooking for 1-2 minutes per side - they cook very quickly. Serve like mini hamburgers using halved dinner rolls as buns. Great party food!


Thursday, June 5, 2008

Gypsy Den Cafe's Adobe Stew

Every once in a while, my man and I crave hippie food. I have days where I wonder how I'm gonna get by without a good hummus and pita snack. Maybe with some cucumber slices and a bit of lemon juice squeezed on? Mmm! When we were living in California, we'd often indulge our hippie cravings at a little place called the Gypsy Den Cafe. They had a great vegetarian soup there called Adobe Stew, and I'd get a cup of that with a half turkey sandwich (on some sort of nutty bread with cucumber and alfalfa sprouts, natch) and be set.

Now that we're in a place that's a little bit more scarce on hippie food (unless you want to drive downtown every time you want some sprouts), we've taken to having a home-cooked vegetarian night every Wednesday to stave off the hippie food desire. While I often go for a stir-fry or a tofu dish, I decided this week that I wanted to try my hand at that delicious stew the Gypsy Den Cafe served me. Thanks to them for the inspiration - I'd still be going to your restaurant if it wasn't however many hundreds of miles away from me now.

Adobe Stew

Serves: A whole mess of people - 8-10 servings, probably.
Active Cook time: ~30 minutes*
Inactive Cook time: ~1 hour +
Difficulty: Super Easy
*This can vary - your active cook time can be as little as 10-15 minutes if you prepare some of the vegetables in advance.

-Large Stock Pot (or similarly big pot. Basically the biggest one you have.)
-Large Stirring Spoon
-Chef's Knife and Cutting Board

-1 large onion
-4 stalks celery
-4 carrots
-4 oz sliced mushrooms (1/2 of a package of sliced mushrooms)
-1/2 to 3/4lb red potatoes, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
-1 yellow zucchini squash
-1 green zucchini squash
-1/4 lb green beans
-2 (15 oz) cans diced tomatoes
-1 (15 oz) can garbanzo beans (aka chick peas)
-1 (15 oz) can kidney beans
-1 (15 oz) can black beans
-1 (15 oz) can yellow corn
-2 quarts vegetable stock
-1 mini bottle red wine -or- 3/4 cup red wine. (I use a mini bottle of Merlot)
-1 tablespoon minced garlic
-1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
-1/2 teaspoon dried basil
-2 bay leaves
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1 teaspoon pepper
-additional salt/pepper to taste

Ack, I know that's an intimidating list of ingredients. Don't worry, it's really very easy to throw together.

All of the following steps can be done ahead of time: Chop your onion into small pieces. Chop up the celery stalk as well. Slice the carrot into small rounds - if your carrots get wide enough at the top that you think one piece is too big for your mouth, cut the pieces there in half. If your mushrooms are too large, cut those into smaller pieces as well. Dice the potatoes into 1/2 inch cubes. With the zucchinis, slice them into 1/4 inch slices, then quarter each slice. This ensures no piece is too big for your mouth. Cut off the ends of the green beans and cut into pieces no bigger than 1 inch.

If you decide to chop up your vegetables ahead of time, you can package the onions, celery and carrots together. Make sure to leave the mushrooms by themselves. You can also package the potatoes, zucchinis and green beans together. Refrigerate them in tightly sealed containers until ready to cook. I do not recommend cutting up your vegetables any longer than 24 hours before you're going to make the stew in order to keep your veggies fresh.

Heat up the olive oil in your pot over medium heat. Add onions, celery, carrots and garlic along with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir occasionally to sweat out the delicious juices stored within these veggies. After about 3 minutes, add the mushrooms. Allow to cook 2-3 minutes, then add the wine. Let the alcohol cook out of the wine, approximately 5 minutes.

Open, drain and rinse the corn and the garbanzo, kidney and black beans. Add the vegetable stock and diced tomatoes (with tomato juice in the can) along with the Italian seasoning, basil, bay leaves and pepper to the pot. Stir. Add the beans, corn, potatoes, zucchinis, and green beans. Stir to combine.

Bring to a low boil, then cover and let simmer, reducing heat to low. Let stew for at least 30 minutes. I recommend at that point that you turn the heat off or super low but leave the pot on the burner in order to keep the stew warm but prevent overcooked icky veggies. You can leave it on the stew for a few hours, allowing the flavors to commingle and become super delicious. The Gypsy Den Cafe served the stew with a healthy helping of cheddar cheese grated into it, but I prefer it without. This stew is great as a meal on its own, or can be a side dish for another meal.