Easy Red Beans and Rice

About a bazillion years ago I played Liza in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at a little theater in West Yellowstone, Montana. My groom, Dan, was played by a dear friend who had spent a few years in Louisiana and LOVED Red Beans in Rice. He loved it so much, in fact, that every Thursday was RB&R Thursday for him. And by the time we were standing in the wings that night waiting for the lights to come up on our tiny summer stock theater stage, everyone behind him also knew it was RB&R Thursday. Audiences wondered why the show opened with a cast full of green-faced young actors. (Did I mention the theater was small? And the wings were a tiny, enclosed tunnel-like space with very little room for actual oxygen? And when someone had spent the day eating red beans and rice, that oxygen was blasted out of existence in very short order by the gaseosity of said adorable young actor who was a good stage kisser but should probably have laid off the red beans and rice? Did I?) (Just so you know, we had a chat. The boy was prevailed upon to refrain from RB&R Thursdays for the duration of the summer. Made stage-kissing him much nicer.)

Well, let's just say that I became so familiar with the, er, bouquet of Red Beans and Rice that I finally decided I wanted to learn how to make it. So I searched the internet and found a nice simple hearty recipe. After a little tweaking to suit my tastes, it turned into one of my family's favorites. Or will as soon as I make some more. 

It should be noted that the afore-mentioned musically odiforous side effects have not as yet been noticed in our household as a result of partaking of this dish.

 

Ingredients:

1 roasted red bell pepper (or fresh), diced (I love the bottled roasted red peppers, although they are expensive. If I were a truly devoted mother/cook I would roast the peppers myself over an open flame and then toss them in a brown paper bag to steam and then peel and chop them. But I'm not.) (Of course I didn't bother with either one of these for this recipe. I just used fresh peppers. Probably you could too.)

1 medium onion, chopped (Have you seen the movie "The Help"? Aiblileen says you can stave off weepy eyes when chopping onions by clenching a match between your teeth. Preferably unlit. I tried this. I think it sort of staved off part of the weep-factor. I do. I think it did. You should try it.)

6 green onions, thinly sliced (Or you could just add a little more regular onion. Seriously. It's not like you can tell the difference once they're cooked.)

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 3/4 cups water

1 (15 ounce) can light red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 (16 ounce can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed (Hmmm. Who knew there were light and dark kidney beans? You will notice a certain uniformity in the color of my beans in the photos below. Tasted fine.)

1 large can green chillies, chopped

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 pound fully cooked smoked turkey sausage, sliced – or smoked turkey, cubed (I used smoked turkey. It's milder. Yum.)

4 cups hot cooked rice

 

Method:

– In large skillet that has been coated with nonstick cooking spray, sauté red pepper, celery, onions, and garlic until tender.

– Add water, beans, oregano, thyme, red pepper flakes, and pepper. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

– Remove about 1-1/2 cups of bean mixture and mash with a fork. Return to skillet. Add smoked turkey or turkey sausage; bring to boil. Boil for 5 minuets or until bean mixture reaches desired thickness. Serve over rice.

 

Les Images Photographique:

(I was going to write all the photo descriptions in either Creole or Cajun in honor of this dish's origins, but I realized I didn't know how. So, we'll just settle for that bit of French there above. I have no idea if it's correct.)

Beautiful Ingredients. That bottle labeled "Christopher Ranch" is full of pre-minced garlic. The boon of gods and chefs.

 

I love the prettiness of multicolored diced veggies frying away in a pan. And the fresh smell is to. die. for. You're welcome to frame this and hang it on your wall if you like.

 

Beans and veggies and broth simmering and imparting into my house a lovely bouquet that has nothing to do with gaseosity.

 

Smashing the beans. What is it about smashing things that is so fun? Smash, smash, smash.

 

Reintroducing the manually masticated beans into the soup, along with the turkey. I know you can't see the turkey, but it's in there. Or it will be soon.

 

Et voilá, mes petites amis! De delicious liddle chu-chut soup. Look at all dat good stuff een dair! No gree-gree. Just good stuff trowed ova rice. Dats de yum!

(Authentic Cajun Speak brought to you by an online cajun dictionary. Mistakes are the result of the author having no idea what she's doing.)

 

 

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Cherry Coffee Cake

Well, summer is winding to a close and I've still got cherries on my counter. I heart cherries. Life is a bowl of cherries. Sometimes life is a chair of bowlies. It just depends.

If you've got extra cherries and fear they shall go bad before they can get eaten, then this is the recipe for you. It's also the recipe for you if you've got extra blueberries. And I suspect raspberries or blackberries could volunteer for coffee cake duty today if necessary. Probably anything, really. Except liver. There is no room at all in the human diet for liver. Cows should not have livers. It's wrong.

'kay then. Here is the recipe for a lovely, delicious, luscious cherry coffee cake, which I made with cherries and blueberries because that is what I had. And my family devoured it like voracious veloci-cherrycoffeecake-raptors. Even made me un-pan it before it had cooled, resulting in it cracking in two places. But this made no difference in the flavor. In fact, warm cracked coffee cake is the food of the gods.

So, join them on Mount Olympus. Here's the key:

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups cherries, pitted and halved. Except use 2 cups. (I did some weird thing with a paperclip to remove the pits. It made me feel crafty and like a real woman. I don't think it was more effective than digging them out with my fingernail, though.) (Also, pitting and halving cherries takes, like, forever. Watch your favorite mini-series while you do it.)

2 Tbsp flour

2 cups flour (This is not a stutter. You need 2 Tbsp of flour, and THEN 2 cups of flour)

1 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground cinnamon (Thank you, whoever thought of the Cassia tree)

2/3 cup vegetable oil (I use Canola. Makes me feel like there's no fat in this. We likes our precious delusions.)

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract (This is critical. CRITICAL. Almond extract is heaven. Almond extract should be president of the United States.)

1 cup milk

 

Method:

— Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease and lightly flour a 10-inch tube pan. Place cherries (and whatever else you're adding, except liver) in a bowl and toss gently with 2 Tbsp flour. Set aside.

— Stir together the flour, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Beat together the oil, eggs, sugar, vanilla and almond extracts, and milk until smooth, in a large mixing bowl.

— Stir in the flour mixture until smooth. Fold in the cherries. Pour batter into prepared pan.

— Bake in preheated oven until toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean, about 60 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto a serving plate or wire rack. Or dig it right out of the pan. Whatever. Just eat it, my people. Manger, s'il vous plait. ("Manger" is French for "eat." It is pronounced "monjjjay," not "mainjure." It is not the cute little animal food-holder-thingie they put baby Jesus in. Just wanted to clear that up.)

 

Cherrific Photos:

Check me out. Using a paperclip to pit a cherry. Ain't I the Clever Chloe? Cuts right around it like buttah. Slip that paperclip right off of your child's report on "What I Did Last Summer," give it a wash, and stab you some cherries. And, why yes, that is my water running wastefully into the sink in the background there. Good eyes. Nosey eyes, but good eyes. No idea what it was on for.

Cherries and blueberries all washed, sliced (where applicable) and pitted (also where applicable. I think trying to pit the blueberries would be akin to removing the BB's from a jar of nail polish before using it.) (Yes jars of nail polish do too have BB's in them! What do you think that clicking sound is when you shake them? They're in there to mix up the polish for you, because shaking violently isn't enough.) 

 

Floured Fruit. They look like they've been wintered on. Purty, purty.

 

This is flour. Hiding in it is also salt, baking powder and cinnamon. Aren't we sneaky?

 

Oil, eggs, sugar, and extracts. REMEMBER THE ALMOND.

 

Action shot of me pouring the milk in because my son thought it would be cool, and in 9 years when he's in college majoring in Film and Media Arts this might be the shot that snags him the scholarship.

 

Am I getting anal retentive with these photos? I mean, do we need a picture of me spooning the dry ingredients out of the bowl? DO WE? I don't know. But here it is. Be gentle when spooning. I'm not saying anything else about that.

 

Blurry berries bumbling into the bowl. Note the alliteration. Cooking is nothing without alliteration.

 

Cake being gently shoved into the oven, which you have been preheating since dawn because you were going to make this for breakfast, but everyone had an emergency so you kept not quite getting to it, but you were going to in just a sec, so you left the oven on, and now it is 9:00 at night and you are just sliding the coffeecake in to cook, and YOU DON'T CARE HOW TIRED EVERYONE IS, THEY ARE GOING TO STAY UP AND EAT THIS, BECAUSE YOU LITERALLY SLAVED ALL DAY LONG ON IT.

 

Ta-Da! Warm cracked coffee cake, because my people couldn't just let the thing cool in the pan. Had to eat it NOW. I don't know why. I don't harass them about these things. And let me just say that warm is the way to eat this baby. Yuuuuummmm. Some people advocate topping this with a glaze, but I think it is smashing as is.

 

Berry shot. Oooolala. So very succulent and tender and warm and delicious and in need of being served in a cereal bowl with milk poured over it.

Now you know why Zeus eats this every morning for Breakfast. Like I said. Food of the Gods.

 

 

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Chicken Tortilla Soup-ahhhhhh

My sister calls this little soup an "Elixir." Doesn't that sound so much more edible and evocative than "Soup"? Chicken Tortilla Elixir. It brings love and prosperity to all who eat it. I know this to be true. For I have love. And I am working on the prosperity part. I could eat this soup every day of Summer. And Fall. And Winter. Spring would have to be Zuppa Fresca, which I'll post here someday. But Summer? For sure the Elixir of Chicken, er Love.

It's easy. But I can make it even easier. The recipe below is the 40 minute version. My parenthetical comments will tell you how to take it to about 15 (and i'm talking cooking time only, peeps. Prep time adds a little. But only a little.)

Prepare your taste buds to go into paroxysms of delight. Ladies and Genlemen: Love. In the form of Soup.

Ingredients:

4 corn tortillas (Or taco shells. I mean seriously. Old El Paso has done this for us)

3/4 lb skinless boneless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 cups when cooked and shredded) (But! You may use pre-cooked chicken, of the boiled, baked, fried, grilled, frozen, or even canned variety. Yup. Canned. I use food storage cannery chicken and it's very yum. Grilled is also most nice.)

8 cups chicken broth (I got nothing to say here. It's broth. Not complicated.)

1 large yellow onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped (You can also use bottled. Garlic-press enthusiasts will not storm your house.)

1/2 cup fresh cilantro chopped (I love me my fresh cilantro. Do not mistake Italian parsley for cilantro. The effect will not be the same. Cilantro leaves are more finely scalloped on the edges. And I think broader.) (Also, kitchen shears do a great job chopping up herbs. Thought you'd like to know.)

2 Tbsp fresh lime juice (You can use bottled, but honey, Why? You're killing me, Smalls!)

1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper (Fresh. I mean it.)

1/4 tsp ground cumin (My friend pronounces this "coomin". That sounds silly to me. I say it's "cyoomin." What do you say?)

2 rounded Tbsp canned or fresh chopped jalepeño or anaheim chili pepper (Whatev. Just stick as much chili pepper in there as you want. It's delish.)

 

Method:

– Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Toast 4 tortillas for 10 minutes until crisp. (Alternatively, use 4 pre-cooked taco shells. Like, only if you're a serious masochist should you take the time to bake these.) Break cooked tortillas into pieces.

– Trim fat from chicken. In large pot over medium heat, combine the tortilla pieces, chicken, broth, onion, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, pepper, cyoomin, and jalepño pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer. (OR, you could use cooked chicken. Like when you have some leftover from that Costco whole roasted chicken you bought but didn't finish last night. Or the oven fried chicken from dinner Tuesday. Waaaay easier.)

– After 40 minutes remove chicken from pot; cool enough to handle then shred. Return chicken to pot and continue heating until piping hot. (If you are using pre-cooked chicken–which, have I mentioned, is way easier–just heat this bad boy until everything is nice and warm and done. Don't bother with the shredding. We'll assume you've already cut the chicken up.)

– Serve in bowls with toppings:

–broken tortilla chips

–chopped fresh cilantro

–chopped green onion

–cubed avocado (I stir fresh lime juice into mine to keep it nice and green.) (And we loves our avocado in Chicken Tortilla Elixir. It's our precious!)

–fresh lime wedges – squeeze juice into soup

–shredded Monterey Jack cheese

 

El Pictures:

La Ingredientas. Look, people. I speak Spanish! I was born in El Paso! I lived in Albuquerque! I can say "Pásame la leche, por favor," okay? Which means I can get a glass of milk ANYWHERE Spanish is spoken. Because I. Speak. Spanish.

(There's no chicken in the picture. I'm not sure why. But it ended up in the soup. Promise. Er, Promesa.)

 

All the ingredienteros in the pot. Yep, it's blurry. I was in a hurry. Had to scurry.

 

Fresh lime. The blessed juice of the gods. The refresco ultimate of Summer. That which makes our taste buds rise up and SING, people! Only use fresh. I will know if you don't.

 

Tada! El Niño de la Sopa! The Caballero of Comestibles! Muy delicioso.

I'm not even kidding.

 

 

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Corrected Famous Choc. Chip. Cookies of Fame.

Um. Soooo. Do you remember that one time when I posted the recipe for Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies of Fame on here and I was totally surprised that I didn't get more comments on it because they are so Fabulous and Famous that you might die if you only eat one? And anyway you can't only eat one? Remember that? 

Well. Turns out I left a major ingredient off the recipe–THE WHITE SUGAR! EEP!–so those of you who did try it and told me it was good . . . hmmmm. Maybe this recipe doesn't need the white sugar. Maybe it only needs the brown. But I think my BODY needs the white sugar. And for those of you who tried it and wondered if one of my brain cells had flown over the cuckoo's nest because the cookies were narsty–well this is why. And so, below is the corrected version of the original recipe I posted here. I left all the comments and pictures in so it could retain its glory. Please try this again, my peeps. It is truly fabuloso and will warm the cockles of your heart, your taste buds, and your guts. Promise.

Dearests: I have ever been on the lookout for the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. Tollhouse cookies, bless them, always ALWAYS come out flat as pancakes and crisp like crackers for me. No idea why. And this will not do. I want soft and chewy and gooey.

Well, my search is over! From a good friend comes a perfect recipe: soft and chewy, mounded with chocolate chips–white and semi sweet–delicious flavor, perfect crumb. In short, YUM-baby.

Now, before I launch into the recipe I want you to brace yourselves. Sit down. Get a cuppa cocoa. Breathe–Innnnnn, ouuuuuut, innnnn, ouuuuuut. Go to your happy place. Why?

Because this recipe has margarine in it.

I KNOW! The bane of the palate of every eater-of-discerning-taste. The carcinogenic concoction of carnivorous cream-like clotted crude. MARGARINE! That against which I have ranted since the inception of this blog. Can't be helped. Only way it works. So suck it up, my dearests! It is worth it.

Let us begin:

Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies of Fame

2 cups margarine (The pain I feel at typing this cannot be described . . .)

2 cups brown sugar (This almost makes up for the congealed crude-oil.)

1 1/2 cups white sugar

3 eggs 

2 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 1/2 tsp. salt

6 cups flour

1 package milk chocolate chips (Except I only believe in semi-sweet)

1 package of any other flavor (We tend toward white chocolate chips)

Process:

Cream margarine and sugars. Add eggs, vanilla, soda, and salt. Mix for 3-4 minutes (This is important. Not sure why. It just is. Something to do with a change in the chemical structure. But I majored in English. I don't do Chemistry. Just do it please.)

–Add flour and mix.

 –Add chocolate chips.

 –Spoon onto cookie sheets (I use a cookie dough scooper thingie. Makes them all uniform. Then the OCD in me is satisfied.)

–Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. (You want these just slightly underdone. Not enough to start a salmonella epidemic; just enough to remain soft and mounded up. They should not be browned, except maybe a bit on the edges. Mostly set, but not completely. Have I said this enough? Please do not overbake.)

Pictures, AND . . . a Movie!

 
Sugars, with a bit o' marg–ack! Marger– yeesh, I can't type it. MARGARINE! There.
 
 
 
Creaming the fat and sugars. Fat doesn't sound better, does it?
 
 
 
Eggs and vanilla and all the good stuff that eventually turns this sweet fatness into cookies.
 

What's a Food! Feats! recipe without a live-action segment taken on an iPhone by a blogger who can't remember to turn the thing sideways? Here you go, lovelies: The Mixing. Soon in theaters near you: stirring plot, mushy love story, oozing with corruption  . . .  You don't want to miss it!
 
 
 
The essential chocolate added. Then scooped onto cookie sheet. Then popped into oven. Until . . .
 
 
 
Magnificent! I'm going to blow this up and hang it on my wall. Once you taste these, you will forget there was anything at all wrong with the ingredients list.
 
Run, my little poppets! Grab some milk! Eat, and be free!
 
(The corrected printable version of this is available from the Dessert link to the right.)
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Lazy Lasagna. Seriously. No. I Mean It.

Hello, my dears. Yes. We are eating again at my house. Can you believe it? It's gotten so busy around this joint that I've had to resort to the simplest of meals. And while I never used to consider Lasagna a simple meal–used to avoid it like the plague in fact, due to all that sloppy boiling and slippery handling and messy saucing–I have a recipe now that makes it so. You can whip this baby up in as few as 15 minutes. (Don't hold me to that. Recipe times printed in books NEVER match the amount of time it takes ME to cook the thing. Timing in cooking totally depends on your general cooking aptitude, your altitude and therefore boiling point, your general dorkitude when it comes to following directions, and whether or not you've got a positive attitude toward the recipe and cooking in general. Also Lunar Tides.)

The secret to this lovely lazy lasagna, dear readers, is in the noodles. And the bottled sauce. But it is DELICIOUS, I tell you! Else I would not cook and eat it with my family, upon whom I am forcing it! If you simply can't use bottled sauce–as I never used to be able to do. Nay, I verily did turn my nose up at the Prego-ed, Ragu-ed stuff. But it's gotten really quite decent nowadays–then go ahead and make your own. It will work fine. And we won't judge you.

The very biggest secret here–and you must MUST believe me and follow it–is that you don't really have to cook the noodles. No sirree, you don't. Cooking Lasagna noodles is a marketing scam. As is those "No Cook" Lasagna noodles you can buy. Psh. Regular noodles work fine, and believe me when I tell you "YOU DON'T HAVE TO PRE-BOIL THEM." I've made it this way for 18 years. I had a friend who made 14 Lasagnas this way for a church event, and they were perfect. In short TRUST ME ON THIS, MY PEOPLE. I LEAD YOU NOT ASTRAY. COOK NOT THE NOODLES.

So. On to the recipe. With plenty of notes in the margins.

 

Lazy Lasagna

Ingredients

48 oz bottle Spaghetti Sauce, or 3-4 cups homemade (I'm not even kidding. Bottled works great. And I don't measure it. Just pour what I want into the thing. But if you're glued to your Great Aunt Pearlz recipe, by all means, use it.)

6-8 uncooked Lasagna noodles (Uncooked. UNCOOKED. I do not lie when I tell you this. Have faith, young cooking padawans.)

2 cups Ricotta or Cottage cheese (Cottage Cheese. I've never understood Ricotta. Can't pour it. Thick like cream cheese. Nope. I like me my little curds and whey.)

2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese (Yum. I've also used fresh Mozzarella, and it's mighty fine. And you can make your own Mozzarella if you like. Click here. My friend Robin swears by this stuff. I will try it as soon as I'm no longer a headless chicken.)

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (Love this stuff freshly grated. But I am a cheese snob. Or would be if I knew anything about cheese.)

1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (See note above.)

Optional: ground beef, ground sausage, or ground Italian sausage, and fresh basil leaves (Okay people. These things are really not optional if you want this to taste really fabyoolanimous. It's fine without. Nice. Light. Simple. Boring. You want kaPOW? Add the sausage and fresh basil. Truuustttt meeeeee.)

 

Process:

-In 11 x 17-inch baking dish, spread 1 cup of sauce. Top with 3-4 uncooked Lasagna noodles. (I usually spread more than the 1 cup. Whatever covers the bottom of your pan with a thin coating.)

-Mix Ricotta with Jack cheese. Top noodles with half of Ricotta mixture. Then sprinkle on 1 cup Mozzarella and the Parmesan cheese. (Can add optional ingredients here.) (Are you kidding? MUST add optional ingredients here. So much better. Also, you can add to the amounts in the recipe without hurting anything. Just make sure your dry noodles have some sort of liquid or moisture covering them. Not soupy, just touching them.)  Spread 1 cup sauce over all.

-Top with remaining uncooked noodles and sauce. (Can add more layers by increasing amounts of sauce and Ricotta.) ( I recommend this. In fact, I insist on this.)

-Cover with foil

-Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour. Top with remaining Mozzarella cheese. Let stand 5 minutes and serve. Can also return to oven for 5 minutes to brown the cheese. It's much nicer that way.

 
Pictures. Or as my children often say, Pichers:
 
La Ingredientsa. Pretty sure that's Italian.
 
First layer: Sauce. Something to start the rehydrating process for the noodles. Use prepared sauce, or prepare your own. Or "borrow" some from your sister-in-law-who-makes-everything-from-scratch's pot when she's not looking.
 
The Uncooked noodles of Uncooked-ness. I used both plain and whole wheat noodles here, because that's what I had.
 
Took just a mo' to fry me up some Italian sausage. This is VERY flavorful. Truth be told, I prefer my basic Jimmy Dean Sausage. (And NO. Jimmy Dean did not send me any free sausage to say that.)
 
Cheese layers . . . 
 
 . . . followed by Optional Ingredients of Fabyoolosity. Love fresh Basil. Yuu-uuum.
 
Second layer of dry noodles going on top of the first. No one is complaining. Perfect harmony.
 
Final sprinkling of cheese. Honestly, I could have put a third casserole layer on. Probably should have as it turned out a little moist and decadent. But that's the way, uh huh – uh huh, I like it, uh huh – uh huh. (If you remember that song, you're really old. I don't remember it.)
 
Thar she blows. Two layers of beautiful and completely DONE Lasagna. Did I mention there could have been three? Nevertheless, mighty mighty nummsters.
 
See? Cooked Noodles of Cooked-ness. Again, I added a lot of sauce. You don't have to go this crazy. Or you can. Just add another layer of noodles. Do what you want with this, my dears. It's totally flexible. And easy. And can be made ahead of time and refrigerated, then popped in the oven. Add like 5 extra minutes.
 
There you go! Your aunty-Janiel saving you all kinds of slaving over a hot stove. No need to. This is Lazy-pants Lasagna, giving you time to do the things that are important. Like trolling the internet for pictures of Chris Hemsworth's chest. I DID NOT JUST SAY THAT!
 
 
 
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Pistachio Pesto with Panache

Right. It's about time I started cooking again. My family thinks so, at least. Psh. What are they, hungry?

Today I share with you a recipe so fine, so utterly beguiling that you will wonder why everyone doesn't eat it every night for dinner. And lunch. And midnight snack. "Pistachio Pesto," the Pesto With Panache! Yes, folks, its the slimy green sauce of Italian sauciness that enrobes only the pasta eaten by those of the most discerning palates. And those who like it, too.

Regular pesto is Genovese, and consists of fresh basil, garlic, parsley, cheese and pine nuts. It is a wonderful addition to any dish, really. Tastes great stirred into soups, onto pasta, new potatoes, grilled veggies, and spread on grilled fish.

Pistachio pesto can be used pretty much the same way. But with its incredibly wonderful, warm, delicate flavor, you will want to eat it right out of the blender. Trust me on this.

Andiamo, Amici!

 

Pistachio Pesto

Ingredients:

1 cup olive oil

1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed (It's easier if you grow your own, but if you don't, buy a lot. It takes more than one little box to pack into a cup)

1/2 tsp. pressed garlic 

1/2 cup fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley (Not cilantro. Easy mistake to make. I've made it. And that mistake makes interesting pesto. Cilantro leaves are broader and almost fringed on the edges.)

1 cup shelled pistachios (Yep. Sit there and shell them. It's fun! Turn on a video of you can't take the silence that long.)

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup shredded parmesan cheese (Fresh is best. Pre-shredded is faster. You pick.)

 

Process:

-Place oil and basil in blender; finely chop (That's just silly. Purée the stuff, okay?)

-Add garlic and parsley. Process until puréed

-Add pistachios. Process until fine (This makes a racket. Go find ear plugs)

-Season with salt and pepper to taste

-Place pesto in a bowl. Stir in 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese (This is the fun part: many textures coming together. The pesto coming into its own. It's like popping bubble-wrap.)

 

And now! The Multimedia Presentation:

Yes folks. It simply isn't enough, with pistachio pesto, to show plain old pictures. You need MOVIES! Narrated! By Me! So Here The Are! (with a few pictures to start.)

Ingredients of gorgeousness

 

Readying the basil and oil.

 

Blurr-ifying the parsley and garlic. I gotta invest in a tripod. And a good camera. And photography lessons. And A.D.D. Medication.

 

Shelled pistachios. If I can do it, you can do it.

 

Über-cool pasta. For later.

 

And now, the action! Live and action-ish!

Amazing. Love me my Vita Mix (and no, Vita Mix did NOT give me a free blender to say that. I just, you know, felt it. In the moment. Free expression.)

 

I think my narration is El Stupido. I'm going to have to script it or something.

 

I'm glad I included this clip. It's sort of climactic, you know? Leaves one breathless . . . 

 

It was, in fact, not chunky. Which should have been obvious to me given that I blended it for 45 minutes on high. Still tastes good, though.

 

Please. For the love of all that is sour-moldy-milk-aged-into-cheese. Shred your parmesan yourself. You shall weep Italian tears of joy as you eat it if you do.

 

And then finally, we have Pistachio Pesto with Pasta and Grilled Chicken. Easy. Especially for we who are busy moms. Busy moms who are too busy to answer our children as they cry plaintively for us during the cooking blog video shoot.

It's okay. He wasn't bleeding.

Go now. Plant basil, grow it, and try this. It is magnificent.

No exaggeration.

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Green Chicken Sopa = Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Righte-o. Today we have a dish that will make your arteries slam shut. Listen: you can hear them now, in anticipation of eating this paean to pulchritudinous poultry provender. Or put another way, this awesome comfort food. Do not think about your waistline when you eat this, for it will not be thinking about you. I am sure there are ways to make this healthier–for example, you could use fat-free cheese (an obvious oxymoron), or reduced fat cream of chicken soup. You could make your own white sauce using chicken broth as a base instead of the soup. If you are trying to avoid gluten, go for gluten-free chips and a white sauce with rice flour and arrowroot. But why? WHY? It's so perfectly wonderful without wrenching it all to pieces like that.

*sigh*

Now I'm stressed out. Please. Read on. I'll be okay in a moment.

Green Chicken Sopa (A recipe from when we were living on Biggs Air Force Base, in El Paso, Texas, where I was born. Which means this is authentic. No idea what kind of authentic; it just is.)

Ingredients:

4 cans cream of chicken soup (or make 5 cups white sauce using chicken broth in place of milk)

1-2 cans chopped green chillies, drained (I use 2 big cans. I love me my green chillies.  Chilies. Chile's. You know what I mean)

1-2 cans chicken broth (depends on how thick you like your sauce. With soup, I use 2 cans. With sauce, one. Or maybe none. You could just make more sauce.)

Cooked chicken or turkey meat, shredded or cubed (depends on whether or not you like to fight your meat before you eat it. I cube the stuff. Also, I put in however much I feel like having in there.)

Grated Mozzarella, Monterey Jack, and/or Cheddar cheeses (again, to taste. Go ahead. Whomp on those arteries! You only live once. Unless you're Dick Clark or Zsa Zsa Gabor. Then you live forever in a sort of freakishly preserved state.)

 

Method:

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

-Heat soup, chilies, and broth in a saucepan. I'm exhausted. This is complicated.

-Add cooked chicken or turkey.

-Place layer of tortilla chips in bottom of large casserole pan. Crush slightly with hand. Or dinner glass. Or the forehead of your most annoying child.

-Pour half of the sauce over the chips, and sprinkle with half of the cheese (whatever that is, because remember, I've left it up to YOU to decide how unhealthy you want this to be.)

-Cover with another layer of tortilla chips, followed by remainder of the green chili sauce and then the cheese.

-Bake at 350 for 45 minutes, or until liquid is boiling and cheese is melted and all goldy-brown. I'd put a large cookie sheet under this to catch all the artery-slamming goodness before it melts all over your heating element.

(*By the way, I've also made this with cream of mushroom soup and left over roast beef, and it is fabu.)

 

Skinny Pictures:

 

Chips in pan. Stay with me here. It gets more complex.

 

Chilies, soup, and broth heating together. See? Told you. Difficulty-level off the charts.  AND I HAVEN'T EVEN ADDED THE CHICKEN YET. You probably thought I forgot.

Hah! It's not even chicken! It's turkey. Got you again. We always had Sopa after Thanksgiving. That and turkey soup are what mom did with the leftovers. And just so you know, I did not cut up this turkey. As I believe I have stated, I cube mine.

NOW the turkey is in there. Looking good, yeah?–if a bit large. And a bit yellow. Which I'm sure has to do with the fact that I forgot my camera when we went to visit my mother-in-law, and I had to use my iPhone. Has nothing to do with the ACTUAL soup color. 

Sauce Slathered Chips. It's so good that all of those words got their own capital letters.

Cheese Chunked Sauce.

Second layer of chips and sauce goes over the first. Still with me? Of course you are. You want this dish as much as I do.

*Bing!* Out of the oven.

Ahhhhhh. I am so eating this. Toasty cheese. AND IT'S DIETETIC! Except for the part where it's not.

 

Do enjoy. And don't blame me if you don't lose weight because I've included this little disclaimer:

*WARNING* The Surgeon General of the United States has not determined anything about this recipe as she has never eaten our Green Chicken Sopa, insofar as we know. But if the Vice Admiral ever had, we're pretty sure she would tell you that it is mighty fine and mighty delicious and you will never lose weight if you stick to a strict diet of Sopa and Ice cream. You have been warned.

(And remember: an über boring printable version of this recipe follows.)

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Welsh Cakes – For Breakfast. Or Dinner. Or Snack.

Today we are going international. I got this recipe from a very cool Canadian friend who got it from her dad, who, I presume, got it from someone of Welsh descent. If it isn't actually Welsh, we can rest assured that there is at least a bit of Canada in it. And if nothing else, a bit of West Yellowstone, Montana, because that's where we were when my fabulously talented friend and roommate gave it to me. We were spending a summer at the Playmill Theater in a summer stock acting troupe, and Diane was our choreographer. You cannot imagine how much better our performances in 7 Brides for 7 Brothers, Joseph and the Amazing Blah Blah, and Pure as the Driven Snow were after having been fortified by these mighty little griddle scones.

*sniff* Now I feel all weepy and full of memories. Please. Continue without me whilst I collect myself.

Welsh Cakes

Ingredients:

3 cups flour (I like to sub in wheat flour for some of the white. Healthy, you know.)

1 cup sugar (I shake a little of this out. It makes me feel better. And it's less sweet. Who knew?)

1 1/2 tsp baking powder (Not to be confused with baking soda)

1/2 tsp baking soda (Not to be confused with baking powder)

2 tsp nutmeg (I always think I'll try clove and orange sometime. But I like nutmeg so well, it's always going to be the next time.)

1 1/4 tsp salt

1 cup shortening (Don't let this bother you. You'll live longer if using shortening doesn't bother you.)

1 cup raisins (Optional – especially in my little raisin-wuss family. I have tried craisins and chopped nuts and it is fabu. My family liked it. Then pretended they didn't. They have pride issues that way.)

2 eggs, beaten persuaded

6 Tbsp milk (You could add 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp milk instead, but look how much more space it took to type that.)

 

Process:

-Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt.

-Cut in shortening. Add raisins, if using. (Add them if you're not using, too.)

-Beat eggs and milk together. (Someday congress will pass a law against beating eggs, poor little things.) (The eggs. Not congress.)

-Add egg mixture to other ingredients. May chill dough at this point if rolling out.

-Roll dough 1/4 inch thick on lightly floured surface and cut with round glass or cutter.

-Optionally: make golf ball-sized balls and flatten onto griddle with hands until about 1/4-inch thick. (This marvelous technique was discovered one day when Janiel was all "Are you freaking kidding me? I'm not rolling this dough out! I'm a busy woman! I got no time to roll dough!" And, voilá! The "griddle-smash" technique was born.)

-Cook slowly on pancake griddle–lower temp. (Too high and the outsides will brown up while leaving the insides uncooked. Too low . . . and they'll be fine. They'll jus take longer.)

-Eat plain, or with butter and powdered sugar, or jam, or whatever strikes you.

-Talk about how you should make these more often.

 

Illustrious Illustrations:

Ingredients. As you can see, completely fat-free. COMPLETELY.

Mixing up the dry ingredients. Love those little flecks of nutmeg.

Cutting in the shortening, with the little pastry blender. FEEEEL the power!

Thar she blows! All cut in.

This is the dough, pre-griddle. It isn't really that yellow. The light is just reflecting off of my ginormous tupperware bowl.

Welsh Cakes, en griddle, using the "Griddle-Smash" technique. Note the finger indentations.

This will take a while. Perhaps I'll go look out the window . . . 

WHA? It's not . . . ! Is that . . . ? Wait. Let me look out the other window.

SNOW! AUUUUUGGGGHGHHHHH!!!! It's APRIL!! What the hoohah is snow doing here in APRIL! I can't take it. I'm going back to the griddle.

Oooh. First flip, and don't they look fine?

Second flip, and onto the plate. My minions are lined up, off camera, waiting for me to get the shot so they can dig in. Patience, my children. Patience. Must get an aerial view.

TA-DA! Ain't they purty?

And here you have the various toppings we adore on the Cakes of Wales: you've got your butter (my way), your powdered sugar (my kidlets way, about a half inch thick), your raspberry and peach freezer jams (everyone's way. Don't have any? Well go befriend someone who makes it and snag some off of them.) and strawberry cream cheese (Ew. But kid3 loves it this way. Blech.)

 

Right. And now you are internationalized. Your cultural education is complete. Go. Make. Eat. Enjoy.

 

 

 

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Accidental Food Tip for the Day

Good food often happens by accident. Tollhouse cookies were born this way. So were Valo-Milk cups. Also Dr. Pepper – but only because the Doctor in whose honor it was invented had a bald-faced abhorrence for soda-jerks (which is what this kid was employed as), and a cutely named carbonated beverage was not going to win the kid the Doctor's daughter's hand.

But I digress. Or I would if I had been talking about anything particularly relevant to start with.

Today's accidental food tip involves the making of crispy cookies. If you are one of those cookie connoisseurs whose leanings are toward the crispy rather than the chewy, today's tip is for you: To attain the perfect crispness in your confection, simply accidentally combine the flour with the butter and sugar, instead of creaming the butter and the sugar first. This obliterates any chemical reaction between milk fat and cane crystals, rendering softness of crumb in your cookie obsolete, and bringing to the fore a certain assertiveness. In the form of brittleness. And crispness. And snappiness. It's quite delicious, really. Like a very thin biscotti.

And it's lovely dipped in milk.

There you have it.

 

 

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Crustless Quiche. Not Quicheless Crust.

Today we make Quiche. It is not pronounced "Qwitch," nor is it pronounced "Qweetchie." It is not even pronounced "That One Egg Thing That Real Men Don't Eat." 

Mostly because Real Men DO eat it. Real Women, too. And children. And small animals.

What makes this Quweesh different is that it does not have crust. It is, in fact, crustless. I love crust. But I often don't feel like making it. When that happens, I make this instead. (I have not yet found a way to make this work with coconut cream pie. That one seems to require crust).

When I grow up and become independently wealthy and buy my own island and make myself Queen, Crustless Quiche shall be the National Dish. Along with Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream. After I command them to invent it. (They currently only make vanilla CC Cookie Dough Ice Cream. Off With Their Heads.)

Let us commence cooking. (And that is the royal "us.")

 

Crustless Quiche

Ingredients:

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 onion, chopped

1/2 red pepper, chopped (or chopped roasted red pepper. LOVE roasted red pepper. You can buy it by the bottle)

1 clove garlic, minced (I've always been a snob about this and minced it personally. However, now I am a lazy snob, and buy pre-minced garlic in a bottle. It keeps forever–because like, what bacteria isn't intimidated by garlic? And I don't have to mess with little skins, or picking bits of it out of my press. Lazy-chicks Unite!)

2-3 big handfuls fresh spinach (I like to use my husband's hands.)

1 cup cooked ham, cubed (not someone who acts like a ham. Real ham.)

6 eggs, beaten (I've said this before: this is a non-violent blog. I persuade my eggs. I don't beat them.)

2-3 splashes Worcestershire sauce (Have fun with this. Think Jackson Pollock. I love to think Jackson Pollock when I cook. I get such visually stimulating results.)

3 cups shredded Muenster or Cheddar cheese (I know they're not related flavor-wise-ish. But cheese is cheese, right? It's all mold, right?) (Did I just hear a collective gasp from France?)

1/8 tsp ground black pepper (No really. Nothing to say here. It's pepper. Fresh ground is the seasoning of the gods.)

 

Process:

–Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease 10-inch pie pan (you might be able to cram it into a 9-inch pan, but I'd put foil under it.)

–Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, red pepper, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until veggies are soft.

–Stir in spinach. Cook until wilted. Add ham and warm through.

–In a large bowl combine eggs, Worcestershire sauce, cheese, and pepper. Add spinach mixture and stir to blend.

–Pour into prepared pie pan.

–Bake in preheated oven until eggs have set, about 40 minutes. Done when inserted knife comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before serving. Sliced tomatoes would be lovely on the side. Especially if they were garden-fresh. And some very simple chilled apple juice to drink. Plus maybe some rolls or biscuits. I wonder if I ate dinner? Can't remember . . . 

 
Photographic Evidence of Cooking:
 
 
That is some beautimus spinach. And while I know that red pepper looks like orange pepper, it is in fact red. At least that what the bottle said . . . 
 
 
Purty wilted spinach with sautéed veggies. Maybe "spinach" should have an "e" on the end, like "Quiche" does. 
Purty wilted Spinache with sautéed veggies.
 
 
Eggs.
What? You were expecting more? What can you say about eggs? They're eggs. They came out of a chicken. We won't talk about how.
 
 
Ham added to veggies. Yeah, right. Your EYES are blurry!
 
 
Lovely farmhouse-shaped cookie jar. 
 
 
Cheddar-eggs. They'd be Muenster-eggs, except I didn't have any Muenster. Didn't have any Meunster, Munster, or Monster either.
 
 
Ready for my closeup, Mr. Demille.
 
 
 
Veggies mixed with eggies  . . . 
 
 
 . . . poured into pie platie . . . 
 
 
 . . . baked in ovenie until donie. (Not to be confused with Donnie. There are no Osmonds in this Kwytsche.)
 
Eye Heart Crustless Quiche. You will too. It is divine.
We ARE amused (said the Queen.)
 
 
 
 
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