Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Pozole Rojo

Pozole is a beautiful thing.
It's porky (or can be made with chicken if you want) and so warming, hearty, spice and delicious. When I make one batch, my husband and I have dinner for 3 nights. Best of all, this is also a dirt cheap dinner when serving a family. Pork costs less than $3 per pound and the hominy is $2 for one can. All of the other garnishes are a negligible fee (except avocados, which are freakishly expensive).
Pozole is also shockingly easy. It has very few ingredients and only takes a couple hours to come together into a perfect pot of goodness.
Even though soup is one of those things that sounds better in the winter, I love eating soup in the summer. The spice of this soup in particular seems to cool you down. Really, make this soup the next time you want an easy, delicious, spicy dinner.
  • 2 lbs pork shoulder (more of the meaty pieces than the fatty pieces)
  • 1 gallon chicken stock (or water and chicken bouillon)
  • 12 guallijo chilis
  • 5 arbol chilis
  • 1 large (32 oz) can hominy, drained.
  • 6 bay leaves
  • black pepper corns
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 onion
  • cumin
  • oregano
  • radishes, lime, cabbage, tortilla strips, cilantro and avocado for garnish
  1. Cut pork into bite sized pieces and season with salt, pepper, oregano and cumin. Brown pork on all sides in a large pot.
  2. Fill pot with chicken stock and season with whole black peppercorns and bay leaves. Cook until pork is tender.
  3. Remove seeds from guallio and arbol chilis as best as possible. Soak chilis in a bowl of hot water until soft. Then add the drained hominy.
  4. Move chilis, one onion and garlic to a blender and blend until smooth. Add some of the soaking water if necessary to get it smooth enough to pass through the blender easily. This will be what gives you soup the smoky/spicy flavor
  5. Move the chili mixture to a sautee pan and cook for a couple minutes in order to sautee the onion and garlic. Add it to taste to the soup until it's at the adequate color and spice level. You won't need all of this.
  6. Adjust seasoning of soup to taste. Ladle into bowls and garnish with cilantro, radishes, cabbage, lime, tortilla strips and avocado. Eat immediately with gusto


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Secret Recipe Club - French Onion Soup Stuffed Mushrooms

It's Secret Recipe Club time of month again! It feel like it's been so long since the last update even though I know it's been less than a month. So much has happened in that time. I got a new job (which I love), my husband and I have been planning our trip back to California for his sister's wedding and we've been dining outside (or going to happy hour on the patio of our favorite bar) almost every day.

I can't believe how busy we've been, but I'm still so happy I've continued to make time for this blog and participation in Secret Recipe Club. I find that I update less (now that I have a job where I have to be on the computer all day) but I still come back to this blog for Secret Recipe Club. I now also get a greater enjoyment from my cooking now that I don't do that for a living anymore. I assure you, all of these changes have been for the best. I'm so happy with the direction my life (personal and professional) is taking.

This week, I was assigned The Savvy Kitchen and got to explore her wonderful recipes. The author, Amy, is a wife/mother living in Northern Virginia (me too!) She makes so many recipes, but mostly specializes in gluten free, low calorie foods. She is the mother of an adorable baby boy (almost two years old) who also enjoys running, reading, spending time with family and friends (all things I enjoy as well). She updates quite frequently, so make sure to check out her amazing looking recipes.

 I searched through the recipes a little but I didn't have to search very long. As soon as I saw these French Onion Soup Stuffed Mushrooms, I knew my search was over. My husband and I both love French Onion Soup and I was looking for appetizers to bring to a friend's house. These were a hit in our house for the flavor, the ease and preparation and the price (normally I make stuffed mushrooms with crab, which tastes wonderful but is a problem for the pocketbook). We didn't even want to bring them to our friend's house after we made them... we wanted to eat all of them in one sitting.

I changed up a couple things in her recipe to make it a little closer to how I make French onion soup, but I didn't change much. I highly recommend this recipe and all the other things on The Savvy Kitchen. Check it out ASAP.

Thanks for the great inspiration Amy!

French Onion Soup Stuffed Mushrooms
  • 24 crimini or white button mushrooms
  • 2 large yellow onions
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • splash of brandy
  • pinch of thyme/caraway seed
  • 1/4 cup beef stock
  • 8 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • cheese (I use combo swiss and parmesan, but gruyere is great as well)
  • parsley for garnish
  1. Wipe the dirt from the mushrooms (do not wash) and remove stems. Chop the stems fine and set aside.
  2. Sautee onions and garlic with the melted butter for about half an hour until very soft and sweet. At the start, season the onions with salt, pepper, thyme and caraway (caraway is really strong, so not too much)
  3. After onions are tender, add brandy, Worcestershire sauce and beef stock. Simmer for 5-10 minutes until reduced and remove from the pan.
  4. Sautee the mushroom stems for 10 minutes until most of the moisture has evaporated. Mix with the onions and adjust seasoning as necessary.
  5. Take the mushroom caps and place them in the same skillet, cap side down. Cook for a couple minutes before flipping them and cover the pan for a couple minutes (this will steam them and make them tender)
  6. Remove the mushrooms to a small baking dish. Blot the insides with a paper towel to remove excess moisture and fill with the onion mix. Top with cheese and bake at 350 for 10 minutes.
  7. Move mushrooms to broiler to brown the top. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve immediately.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce

A while back, we got a head of cauliflower in our CSA box. It wasn't a normal head of cauliflower. It was easily the biggest head of cauliflower I've ever seen. It was so giant it lasted for dinner (main course dinner) multiple nights. One night we did curry, one night we added it to mashed potatoes, one night we roasted steaks of it, and other night we made cauliflower alfredo sauce.
Fettuccini alfredo is one of those foods that I think everyone loves. It's hearty, creamy, cheesy and so delicious (and it's about a million calories, but whatever). That's the reason most of us don't eat spaghetti alfredo that often: the knowledge that it is about 500 calories per serving for just the sauce.
Then when I was looking up ways to use the rest of my cauliflower, I found a recipe  on Pinch of Yum for cauliflower alfredo sauce. It's pretty tasty as long as you don't expect it to taste exactly like alfredo sauce. It still has a slight vegetable taste, but it's not bad. Most importantly, it goes well with pasta and it's only 80 calories instead of 500. Important thing, you know?
  • 1 small head cauliflower
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • splash of heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup starchy pasta water
  • salt, pepper, nutmeg to taste
  1. Cut cauliflower into small pieces and simmer in stock for 20 minutes or until very tender.
  2. Sautee garlic in butter until soft. Place garlic, cauliflower and 1/2 cup stock in blender and puree until smooth. Add more brother if necessary to get it to the consistency where it moves through the blender easily.
  3. Pour back into sautee pan. Add cream and pasta water and season to taste. Keep warm over low heat (adding more water if necessary) until ready to serve. Serve with pasta and lots of parmesan cheese. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Cottage Pie

The weather forecast was 80 degrees and slightly overcast. It was supposed to be warm and a little humid (standard spring/summer weather in DC). It was a little chilly when I left the house in the morning for work, but I opted for light trousers a thin blouse and a light sweater.

And then it never got warmer than 55 degrees...and it rained all day. You lied weatherman! You lied to me!

I thought we were long past casserole/curry/soup season and long into salad and grilling season. And then my 55 degree afternoon made me want to come home and make a big, warm casserole. One of my favorite casseroles is cottage pie because it's tasty, cheap, and uses leftover mashed potatoes. I only make it when we have leftover mashed potatoes and it's always a hit with my husband (mostly because I rarely make mashed potatoes, so we don't have this all that often.)

Not sure if it's still cold enough for this dish where you are, but next time there's a little chill in the air and you have some leftover potatoes, go ahead and make this

  • 1 lb ground beef or lamb
  • 1 onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • a couple tablespoons of flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • a few dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme and rosemary
  • a handful of frozen peas and corn
  • leftover mashed potatoes (mine had cheddar cheese mixed in already because they were for perogi filling)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Brown ground meat until cooked through. Drain well (rinse if need if there is lots of fat) and move to a bowl.
  2. Sautee the vegetables in the same pan until they are tender. Add tomato paste and cook for 1 minute until the paste begins to brown.
  3. Add the ground beef back to the pan with some flour. Stir everything together and add the chicken stock, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper. Cook until the liquid thickens
  4. Add peas and corn and adjust seasoning to taste. Pour meat into a large glass pan and top with mashed potatoes (you can pipe it or you can spoon it evenly over the whole surface)
  5. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes or until the filling start to bubble up around the edges. If desired, stick it under the broiler for 5 minutes to get better color.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Cucumber, Mint, Lime Sorbet

This might sounds like a weird combination, but it's a perfect summer sorbet. It's subtle, complex and holds all the flavors of spring in one bite. It is a perfect palate cleanser and it cuts the most heavy, greasiest foods.

Best of all, this drink makes an amazing cocktail. Put a scoop of this in a tall glass with some Pimms, gin, soda water and slices of fresh cucumber. Either that, or serve with rum and soda water for a great, new take on a mojito.

If you're still missing a refreshing dessert for your spring table, give this one a shot. I swear you won't be disappointed.

Cucumber, Mint, Lime Sorbet

  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 oz mint leaves (about 1 cup)
  • 18 oz cucumber, skins and seeds removed
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  1. Bring the water and sugar to a boil until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, add mint leaves and let steep for half an hour, moving from time to time to middle the mint. Let cool completely before adding it to the cucumber
  2. Put your cucumber and lime juice in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.
  3. Add cooled simple syrup to the cucumber and lime juice. Mix well and churn according to your ice cream maker directions.
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