Stove Top Macaroni and Cheese

On January 30, 2012, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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A slow cooked pot roast, spicy chili, or a bowl of macaroni and cheese all say winter comfort food to me.  On a cool 65 degree day here in a Dallas, I was craving a hearty dish of mac and cheese.  My wife had come across a recipe from the blog White on Rice Couple.

The recipe uses a few ingredients where the noodles are cooked, stirring constantly, in milk.  It’s all done in one pot on the stove as opposed to most baked macaroni and cheese recipes.

I used two cheeses, a sharp cheddar from Whole Foods and a Fontina. About 3/4 cup of cheddar and 1/4 cup fontina was added after the milk reduced significantly leaving only a thick coating to the pasta.  The cheeses melt quickly and the dish is served immediately.

We added a few diced chives and the next day baked the leftovers spreading some lightly toasted bread crumbs.

For the full recipe: One Pot, Stove Top Creamy Mac and Cheese

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For those who do not know, I also write a blog reviewing taco stands located at gas stations – gasstationtacos.com.  To support the blog, I also maintain the @GasStationTacos Twitter account where I get a few new followers each week. One follower I noticed had competed on American Idol Season 10 and also does a food blog.  I checked out the blog and noticed a few recipes worth trying.  This is the first recipe.

The original recipe is for Rotisserie Chicken Tostadas with Black Bean Corn Salsa from the blog Sarah’s Musical Kitchen. I modified it a bit since I prefer tacos to tostadas and skipped the layer of salsa for a few drops of hot sauce. The hot sauce I used is Swat Sauce I picked up last December in Ferndale, Michigan at The Fly Trap restaurant.

Saturday morning I went to Coppell’s Farmers Market and bought some corn and flour tortillas from Two Chefs. This recipe put the fresh corn tortillas to good use, plus the easy avocado sauce (1 avocado, 1/2 cup sour cream and a dash of garlic powder) is such a brilliant idea I’m sure I’ll use for other recipes and would be amazing on a hamburger.

So go ahead and give this simple recipe a try.  My wife really enjoyed it and said it was better than anything she’s ever had at Urban Taco.

For the full recipe: Rotisserie Chicken Tostadas with Black Bean Corn Salsa

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Lentils with Turnip, Leek, and Carrots

On January 30, 2012, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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This dish is adapted from a recipe found on Barefoot Contessa’s website.

Last week a friend shared how she made the original version along with some grilled salmon.  I love lentils and had been looking for something new to do with them. Plus I really like the use of a turnip, which is a neglected yet delicious vegetable.

I served this dish as a main course and added some sautéed bok choy  as a side to give the meal some added texture and flavor.

Lentils with Turnip, Leek and Carrots
Serves 4-6

2 tablespoons plus ¼ cup good olive oil
1 leek, white and light green parts, sliced ¼ inch thick
2 carrots, scrubbed and ½-inch-diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cup green lentils
1 medium red onion, diced
1 white turnip, peeled and cut into small bite-sized cubes
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium sauté pan, add the leek and carrots, and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute and set aside.

Cook the lentils in 4 cups of water with the onion, turnip, and ground cloves in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, or until the lentils are almost tender. Drain any little amount of water left in the saucepan.  Now add the leek and carrot mixture to the saucepan with the lentil mixture.  Add butter and combine until melted. Turn off heat.

Whisk together the ¼ cup of olive oil, the mustard, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Add the vinaigrette to the lentils saucepan.  Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

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Sausage, Chickpea Smoked Paprika Soup

On January 23, 2012, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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I confess. I’ve been on a bit of a meat kick lately.  Take for instance last night when I had a perfectly good sounding vegan soup I planned to make.  Looking at the recipe on the Farmersgirl Kitchen blog, the recipe screamed for some italian crumbled sausage.

If you wish to make this recipe as a vegan meal, please visit the Chickpea Smoked Paprika Soup recipe here.

For the more carnivores minded, here is that recipe done with some sausage.  The flavors from the original recipe really compliment the sausage nicely and I developed a few modifications to help the recipe if using meat.

For the paprikas, try an Indian market.  If you do not have the two mentioned below, 1 1/2 teaspoon of store bought paprika is fine.

Sausage, Chickpea Smoked Paprika Soup
Serves 6

1/2 lb crumbled Italian sausage
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, diced
2 celery stalks, washed and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
2 15 oz cans of chickpeas
1/2 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon tomato puree
14 oz cherry tomatoes, cut in half
6 cups of vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a dutch oven on medium-high heat. Form small bite-size chunks of sausage and place in the pan, careful not to crowd the pan.  Cook the sausage for about 5-8 minutes until they start to brown and turn over to brown each piece careful not to overcook.  Remove the sausage and set aside on a plate.

Add the onion, garlic, celery, carrot and rosemary. Saute for a few minutes to soften then add the chickpeas, paprikas, tomato puree and cherry tomatoes. Cook for a good 3 minutes to let flavors combine. Add vegetable stock and bay leaves. Bring everything to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for 10 minutes.

Remove the soup from the dutch oven and place, in batches, into a blender. Leave some of the soup including some chickpeas and tomatoes in the dutch oven.  With the rest pulse two times for a rough blend and then return all of it to the pan. The trick here is to add some thickness, but keep some of the chickpeas and tomatoes together so everything is not blended into a puree.

Now add the sausage and heat to boil then reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes.

Remove the bay leaves and salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

 

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Paula Deen Should Continue Being Paula Deen

On January 18, 2012, in Food, by Chris Baccus
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If you haven’t heard, the woman who publicly drank butter, Paula Deen has Type 2 Diabetes. The good news, she already is curbing her diet by cutting out endless glasses of Southern Sweet Tea.

For all her diet faults, Paula Deen does have a great sense of humor and she has stated that she will modify some of her recipes to use healthier ingredients.  That’s kind of a shame.  Instead of changing recipes, I think Paula should promote moderation, not reduction or elimination.

Like her or hate her, she provides a niche. You watch her for entertainment or to get a good old fashion, butter laden recipe that will cause your heart to skip a beat or two.  That’s who she is and it will be sad to see her change that.

Simply put. Paula Deen should continue to be Paula Deen, but with some moderation and portion control.

 

 

And if you want a laugh checkout Paula Deen Riding Things.

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Sweet Potato Wontons

On January 18, 2012, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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Some recipes are meant for the weekend, not after work. This recipe is one of those. I had planned on making the filling the night before so I could save some time after work. Doing so would’ve made this a good weekday after work recipe, but that never happened and I ended up spending a couple hours making the filling, wontons, dipping sauce and rice.

Pan frying the sweet potato and butternut squash takes some time.  I would recommend steaming the sweet potato and squash for 10 minutes prior to pan frying. Using a food steamer will soften the vegetables before adding to the pan.  This should quicken the cooking at this step.

After the mixture is cooked, place everything into a bowl and roughly mash to combine ingredients and make it easier to use as filling for the wontons. You’ll only need a teaspoon sized scoop of the filling to place in the wonton wrapper.

Prepare as many wontons as you can with the filling. It makes somewhere between 20 to 30 pieces.

Full Recipe: Sweet Potato Wontons with Soy Garlic Dipping Sauce.

Here is a quick video I did showing how to wrap a wonton:

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Vegetable Potpie

On January 16, 2012, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
2

I now have to favorite must go places while in New York City. The first is Mario Batali’s Babbos. The second must stop is Candle Cafe, a vegan restaurant that is well-known in vegan and vegetarian circles.

My wife asked me what I wanted for Christmas and one of the top cookbooks was The Candle Cafe Cookbook (I already own Babbos’ cookbook.)

Tonight I made my first recipe, but made some modifications that took it from vegan to vegetarian, plus had to change out some vegetables. I also took a short cut that I’m sure led to a lesser potpie and went with a store bought Immaculate Baking Company pie crust.

I highly recommend you  buy The Candle Cafe Cookbook as it includes how to make this vegan and also includes a recipe for herbed pie crust that I’ll have to try when I have more time.

Vegetable Potpie

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 medium red potato, peeled and diced
2 small celery stalks, finely diced
2 carrots, finely diced
1/4 cup frozen sweet peas
1/4 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon dried tarragon
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 rosemary sprig (or 1 tsp dried)
1 thyme sprig (or 1 tsp dried)
Salt and pepper to taste

Pie Crust, store bought or your favorite homemade recipe

Preheat oven at 325 degrees.  Lightly butter a pie plate.

Prepare the pie filling by heating the olive oil at medium heat and adding all of the vegetables and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes to soften, stirring often so vegetables do not stick to pan.  Add the wine, milk, butter, spices, salt and pepper and reduce heat to medium-low heat.  In a separate small cup put in 2 tablespoons of flour with just a little water and stir so there are no clumps of flour. Add flour water mixture to pan.  Let the filling cook for 20 minutes. Remove bay leaf when done.

Roll out pie crust and put into pie plate. Add the filling and cover with sheet of pie crust making sure to add a few slits to top.

Heat pie in oven for 30-40 minutes until top is golden brown.


 

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Crock Pot: Pot Roast

On January 15, 2012, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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We had a lot of running around to do Saturday after I spent most of the week away from home at the Consumer Electronics Show. While I enjoy shows like CES and trying some new places, including a gas station taco shop in Vegas, I couldn’t wait to get home and back to cooking my own food. Five days of dinning out is miserable in Vegas. Honestly, I’ve never had a great meal there, with the celebrity chef restaurants always being the most disappointing.

Wanting something easy and ready after all the errands makes the crock pot the perfect solution. Plus I had a beautiful Top Sirloin Roast from Burgundy Pasture Beef.

My roast was only a 1 pound roast. I followed the exact ingredients here since I wanted a healthy amount of vegetables and plenty of sauce. Only adjustment is I cooked the roast for 8 hours on low instead of 10.

The following recipe is adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe.

Pot Roast

6 medium carrots, cut into thirds
2 medium onions, each cut into 8 wedges
1 beef chuck roast (3 pounds), trimmed of excess fat
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup beef broth
1 diced garlic clove
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

In a slow cooker, stir together cornstarch, broth, wine, thyme, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce until smooth. Add carrots and onions; season with salt and pepper, and toss.

Sprinkle roast with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; place on top of vegetables.

Cover; cook on high, 6 hours (or on low, 10 hours.)

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Three Bean Vegan Chili

On January 8, 2012, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
3

The finished result.

This week is the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) where I spend a good 5 days away from home working our AT&T Developer Summit and seeing all of the geek goodness the world’s largest gadget show has to offer. Unfortunately, for my wife she gets 4 days solo of getting our boys ready for school – not an easy task. Plus her chef is away from the house.

As way to cushion the blow of being gone, I make a couple meals to get her through the week. The request this time was a double-dose of chili. Stephanie enjoyed the last time I made Emily Levenson’s Embelly White Chili and wanted that, but she also wanted a more traditional vegetarian chili.

For the vegetarian chili, I browsed Pinterest, the latest social networking site that is a great visual way to share content. The site has a Food & Drink category and you can follow my “Mostly Vegetarian” board as I use it to tag future recipes.

I found a Three Bean Chili from a blog I wasn’t aware called The Wright Recipes, by a former editor of Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food magazine.

The first step is to dry char Poblano chilies, garlic and an onion. This technique uses no oil or butter in the pot, just medium-high heat and some turning to get a charred result. Then the chilies, garlic and onions are put in a blender with a pint of grape tomatoes and pureed.

The puree is then added to some spices, brown sugar, and oil that is heated briefly.

The combined puree and spices form the basis for the chili. Two cups of water is added along with three types of beans. I use Eden Organic canned beans since they are also BPA free-lined cans.

A proper chili starts to take shape and heated to a simmer for 30 minutes when some frozen corn is added for the final 2 minutes before serving.

I tried some of the chili and it is full of flavor unlike most vegetarian chilies that taste like vegetable soup with chili powder. However, next time I’ll reduce the Poblano chili number from 2 to 1 as this chili is very spicy. Great, but too spicy for my wife and bordering on too spicy for me too.

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