Monday, January 31, 2011

LA LA Land

I know I've been a tad MIA, but I was traveling for work all last week.  I was in Cleveland Sun - Mon and then LA Tues - Thurs.  So, I decided to stay the weekend to visit the boyfriend, my best bud Libby, and her boyfriend Kirk.

By now you understand my obsession with soup, specifically matzo ball soup, so it should come to no surprise that I visited my favorite Cali deli, Jerry's Deli, and enjoyed a bowl of my favorite matzo ball soup.

Now, this bowl of soup is huge.  The matzo ball is light, fluffy, and so comforting.  It's filled with the most delicious homemade chicken broth, the best soup noodles ever, freshly roasted carrots, and tender chunks of white meat chicken.  Oh, served with bagel chips on the side.  It's AWESOME.

I can never, ever finish the whole thing, but always try.  It's so good.  I'm drooling on my keyboard as I type this.  Yum.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Chicken Parmesan Burgers

Whenever I wake up to snow, I immediately think of comfort food.  Something about the cold snow, the wet and soggy ground, and the dreariness of a snowy sky just makes me want something warm and satisfying.

After perusing my daily blogs, I stumbled upon these Chicken Parmesan Burgers from Cara's Cravings and texted my roommate to confirm she was on board.  She quickly agreed, "Yess...yum!", and just as easy as that dinner was decided.  I made some small adaptions from the original recipe but these burgers were awesome.  They were comforting, very flavorful, and filling!

Ingredients: (Makes 2 burgers)
For the burgers:
10 oz ground chicken breast
1/2 oz grated parmesan cheese
2 Tbs plain bread crumbs
1 Tbs chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbs chopped fresh basil
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2 Tbs minced sweet onion
Salt and pepper

For the toppings:
1/4 cup pasta sauce
2 slices mozzarella
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms

Combine the ground chicken with the cheese, parsley, basil, bread crumbs, garlic, onion, salt, and pepper.

Saute the mushrooms over medium heat in a skillet coated with olive oil or cooking spray.  Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, preheat the broiler.  Form two large patties from the ground chicken mixture and place on a foil line baking sheet.

Broil for 5 minutes on the first side; flip, and broil for 5 more minutes.

Remove burgers from the oven and top each one with 2 tablespoons of sauce and 1 slice of cheese.  Return and cook 1 - 2 minutes more.

Top the burgers with the sauteed mushrooms on any bun of your choice.

And devour....


Monday, January 17, 2011

Simple Soup

After a spending the long weekend in NYC visiting my best girls, I came home and wanted to make something super simple, easy, and delicious.  So, I decided to take a stab at Smitten Kitchen's silky cauliflower soup.  Having only 6 ingredients, most of which I already had in my house minus the cauliflower, it was the perfect thing to make after a long weekend away.

1 head of cauliflower
2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 quart low-sodium chicken stock
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Remove the leaves and thick core from the cauliflower, coarsely chop, and reserve.

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or soup pot over medium heat and add the onion and garlic.  Cook until softened, but not browned, just about 5 minutes.

Add the cauliflower and stock and bring to a boil.  

Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until the cauliflower is very soft and falling apart, about 15 minutes.

Remove from the heat, and using a hand held immersion blender, puree the soup, or puree in small batches in a blender and return it to the pot.

Add the Parmesan and stir until smooth.

Season, to taste, with salt and black pepper.  Keep warm until ready to serve.

I had a small bowl of the soup with a small salad on the side.  This soup was good, but not great.  If I made this again, I may use a bit more cauliflower to make the soup a little thicker. But, I'll enjoy the leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

Hope everyone enjoyed their weekend!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Lolita Cocina & Tequila Bar

On Thursday night I had a date with my old co-worker Melanie.  I was so excited to see her, and she (surprisingly, jk Mel) suggested the new restaurant Lolita Cocina in Back Bay.

I met Melanie after work and settled into a table immediately upon arrival.  No wait on a Thursday night, I was already impressed!  Within minutes of sitting, our waitress brought us some sort of grapefruit sorbet in liquid ice.  She then asked if we'd like a generous pour of tequila over our sorbet.  Anyone who knows me and Melanie knows the obvious the answer was "yes please!"

Yum, this was so good and refreshing! We almost poured the remaining liquid into our glass and drank it all up, but we quickly placed our tequila drink orders which was just as good.  After our delicious pre appetizer and some sips of our tequila cocktails, our waitress brought us a complementary bucket of house-made chips and salsa trio consisting of salsa verde, regular salsa, and salsa de creme (I totally made that last name up but it was a creamy cheesy spicy dip...and it sounds legit right?).

After 5 minutes our chips and salsa were gone arrived, we placed our order.  We decided to share a few small things since there were so many appealing options.  We went with the pulled pork tacos, carne asada plate, and the mexican corn.

About 15 minutes later the corn and carne asada were delivered to our table.  The corn was grilled and brushed with chipotle crema, chile powder, cotija cheese & black pepper.  And the carne asada was tender and marinated perfectly.  They served it with flour tortillas, guacamole, salsa roja, red onions & jalapeños.

After devouring the corn and amazing meat plate, we were too full for our tacos.  Luckily, they forgot to bring them to our table, so they gladly took them off the bill.

We relaxed for a bit and enjoyed another round of drinks while our waitress brought our dessert menu.  We were both so full, but we couldn't resist the bananarama description (fried banana caramel cheesecake burritos placed oh so delicately in a caramel sauce with crushed butterscotch topped with a scoop of chocolate ice cream).  Ummm, I know RIGHT!?

This was SO good.  We pretty much ate every single bite until my jeans popped.  And then, just as the food coma started to set in, our waitress brought a heaping portion of their complimentary cotton candy topped with pop rocks.

Melanie is a huge cotton candy fan so this was the perfect ending for her.  I had a few bites but I was SO full, so I let her do most of the damage.

Lolita was so much fun.  Great food, great service, and great company.

Happy Friday everyone!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Panko Chicken

Yes, thats right...I said panko chicken.  Not panko chicken soup.  I know, shocking, but on Sunday afternoon I was really in the mood for something comforting that would leave me with plenty of leftovers for lunches this week.  Since I've already made it half way through my New England Soup Factory cookbook, I decided to give it a little break and made my moms panko chicken recipe.  It's always as good as I remember and super easy to make.

1 bottle of ranch salad dressing
1 package panko bread crumbs
Boneless skinless chicken breasts (either buy the thing ones or pound the fatter ones to be thin)

Pour some of the salad dressing into a bowl
Pour some of the panko into another bowl
Rinse and dry the chicken breasts
Dip the pieces of chicken into the ranch dressing so they are coated well
Dredge the chicken into the panko bread crumbs so they are completely covered with the panko
Place the chicken onto a cookie sheet that has been lightly sprayed with pam

Cook at 350 for about 45 minutes, turning once halfway through.  Chicken is done when its brown and crispy.

 (Apologies for the blurry cell phone pics)

(Next to the chicken you'll notice some veggie pancake fail slop (that's right folks, everything bites actually made something that totally blew)...I'll post about that production later this week) But, the chicken was delicious and I have the perfect amount of leftovers.


Friday, January 7, 2011

Christmas Cups

My boyfriends family invited me to spend Christmas with them so I wanted to make a dessert that would really hit the spot.  Last year I made the most phenomenal (if I may say so myself) chocolate covered peanut butter cookies filled with marshmallow fluff (are you drooling yet??).  So this year, I really wanted to step it up.

As I was reading through my Food & Wine magazine, I stumbled upon this recipe for Peanut Butter and Jelly Cups.  Not knowing my audiences preferences for jelly in their peanut butter cups, I decided to leave that part out.  But, they came out creamy, and delicious!  The perfect treat to end a yummy Christmas meal.

Peanut Butter Filling:
7 1/2 oz white chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 Tbs light corn syrup
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1 tsp kosher salt

Chocolate Cups:
1 1/2 lbs bittersweet chocolate, chopped and tempered 
50 1 1/4-inch-wide, sturdy foil cups
Sea Salt for garnish

Temper the Chocolate:
Tempering chocolate gives it a beautiful sheen and a firm structure: Put chopped chocolate in a stainless steel bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. 

Stir occasionally until melted and 115°. Off the heat, stir the chocolate until it has cooled to 88°, about 15 minutes. If the chocolate hardens, melt and temper it again.

Make the Filling:
In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave the white chocolate in 20-second bursts until softened.  In a small saucepan, bring the cream and corn syrup to a simmer; stir the cream mixture into the white chocolate.  Stir in the peanut butter and salt.  Transfer the filling to a piping bag fitted with a medium tip.

Make the Chocolate Cups:
Spoon the tempered chocolate into piping bag fitted with a small tip.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Set half of the foil cups on the sheet and fill them with chocolate.

(A little blurry, sorry)

Tilt the cups to coat them completely, then pour the excess chocolate into a bowl.  Let cups stand (or put in fridge) until firm, about 10 minutes.  Repeat to make the remaining chocolate cups.

Half-fill the cups with peanut butter.  Pipe chocolate on top of the jam; tap gently to level the chocolate.  Top with a few flakes of Sea salt.  Let stand until set (or put in fridge), about 15 minutes.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Chili New Year

Well, hello.  Happy New Year!  I'm sorry I haven't posted in a while but I've been scared to cook due to the mouse situation.  Now that they are officially gone, I decided it was time to get back in the kitchen.  I'm also tired of spending too much $ on take out salads that could easily be made in my own kitchen.

Being that its cold and I'm just getting over a cold myself, I wanted something warm and comforting (no, I didn't make soup).  I went with Quinoa Chili from Lizzy's blog.  I knew I had quinoa, tomatoes, and cheese at my apartment and I knew the rest of the ingredients would be easy to grab at the store.

I added a few things and made some minor substitutions from her original recipe, but the end result was delicious!

1 cups rinsed and drained quinoa
2 cups chicken broth
1 large onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 cup chopped celery
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
2 tomatoes, cored and diced
1 cup diced carrots

1 cup diced summer squash
One 16-oz. can navy beans, drained
2 cups Pace Picante sauce
1/2 package of Old El Paso Chili Seasoning Mix
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
A sprinkling of Mixed Mexican Blend cheese

Combine quinoa and chicken broth in saucepan, cover and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook until liquid is absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes. 

Remove from heat and let stand about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a large, non-stick pan; add onion, bell pepper, summer squash, celery and jalapeno. Saute 7 minutes over medium heat. Stir in fresh tomatoes and carrots; sauté 3 to 4 minutes. 

Stir in beans, crushed tomatoes, and seasonings; cook about 25 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally. Stir in quinoa; cook 5 minutes more. 

Ladle chili into bowls and top with avocado (I forgot avocado at the store so I skipped this step), cheese and some french bread (I had Arnold 100 calorie rounds, so I used these instead).

**I must warn you, if you don't love your chili super spicy, I'd sub the Picante sauce for one can of crushed tomatoes and go light on the jalapeño.  

Eat and Enjoy!!