Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Houston's Spinach Artichoke Dip

There is a restaurant called Houston's that has the best ever Spinach Artichoke Dip. This is supposedly their recipe. My mom and I have been making for years as a dip to bring to a party. Sometimes we've even doubled the recipe (that makes ALOT) but it freezes well. Tonight I actually halved the recipe and made it for dinner two ways. One way, I diced some chicken and sauted it in a small skillet. I put the chicken in the bottom of a ramican and topped it with some of the dip. The second way was to split a chicken breast lengthwise and stuff it with the dip. I wrapped it in foil and baked at 375 for about 40 minutes. Here is the recipe for the dip. If you are bringing it to a party it traditionally served with corn tortilla chips.

Houston's Spinach Artichoke Dip
(original recipe)

1 stick of butter
1/2 chopped onion
2 boxes of frozen spinach (cooked and drained very well)
1 can of artichoke hearts, chopped
8 oz. cream cheese
8 oz sour cream
3/4 cup parmesan cheese
8 oz Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded

Saute the onion and butter in a large skillet on low until translucent. Add next four ingredients until mixed well. mix in the parmesan cheese and the monterey jack cheese next. Stir well until everything is nice and melty. Serve with tortilla chips.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Shrimp & Cheese Stuffed Pablano Peppers

About a week ago the idea for this dish popped into my head and I went to the store to buy the ingredients. I wasn't 100% sure how I wanted to make it and with all that was going on, it  had to be shelved until last night. But over the weekend while hanging out at my Mother-in-Law's house, we were flipping through tv channels and we saw someone make something almost identical to the dish I had created in my head. The exciting thing is it gave me confidence that it would work out. I know that stuffed pablanos aren't anything new, but it was the first time I attempted it! They were easy to put together and definitely something I'll be doing again in the future. I made two big pablanos and a very small bell pepper for my toddlers to split.

Shrimp & Cheese stuffed Pablano Peppers

2 large pablano peppers
1/2 block of cream cheese (sorry... I don't remember how many oz and I threw away the package.)
1/2 cup of shredded colby jack or other favorite cheese
1.5 cups of small shrimp
1/4 of a red or yellow onion
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp oregano

Roast pablano peppers. If you have a gas grill you can do it right over the flame. If you have electric, you can put them right under a high temp broiler. Either way, turn them every few minutes until the skin is blackened. Remove from heat and place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap or foil. Let sit for about 15 minutes to steam. Meanwhile chop onion into small pieces and saute them in butter. Add shrimp and cook until almost done. Remove onions and shrimp to a small bowl to cool. In a second bowl, use your hands to mix oregano, cream cheese and shredded cheeses. Add shrimp and onions and keep mixing with your hands until you have everything well incorporated.

Remove peppers from the bowl and peel off the blackened skin. Running them under cool water helps pull the skin off. Cut a slit in the peppers lengthwise and gently remove the seeds. Divide the cheese mixture in half and gently stuff each pepper with it. Bring the sides together. Place each pepper on a small piece of foil and wrap tightly. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes to melt the cheese.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Craptastic Soup

Last week I had a hard day.   I came home and to relax I made one of my favorite soups, Ezogelin.  Note: It is my favorite soup to eat,  I have never made it before.  I cracked open a cookbook and followed the recipe exactly.  It was horrid.  Ezogelin soup has finely cracked bulgur and red lentils in it.  It was flat tasting and the bulgur soaked up too much of the the liquid. It was like sludge.  I could have added more liquid, but it was not tasty enough and I would have ended up with WAY too much soup. 
I have manage to revitalize the soup though! In two ways!

Bulgur Pilaf
Lentil Soup

The original recipe for the Ezogelin soup was
1 liter of water
1 onion chopped
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
100 grams of red lentils
100 grams of fine bulgur
(Warning: Do not follow this soup recipe)
The onions were sautéed and then the rest of the ingredients were to be added and boiled.  As stated before, the soup was flat and the consistency was wrong.
I split in half and salvaged it in two ways.  To make the pilaf I put half the lentil mix in a saucepan, brought it to a boil and then added a cup of larger grain bulgur then sautéed onions and peppers and added them in with more pepper, paprika and cumin. 
To save the soup I added more tomato paste and pepper paste.  I also sautéed minced garlic and added chicken broth. 
I ended up with two experimental dishes which worked out great and I did not have to throw out the original craptastic soup.  Total Win!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Chicken Corn Chowder

I was seriously uninspired as for what was for dinner tonight. As a matter of fact, it got to be the girls' dinner time and I hadn't even started thinking of what to make. I ended up pulling some poached chicken that I had made previously out of the refridgerator and I diced that up for the girls along with some steamed veggies and applesauce. Thinking I was just going to have a bowl of cereal for myself (John had leftovers,) I was browsing through the internet and stumbled upon a quick chicken corn chowder soup. It really sounded like a good idea, and even though I didn't follow their recipe, this was easy to throw together and really hit the spot. (By the way, we do sit down as a family for most dinners, but occasionally we have a night when everyone eats at different times and it just works out that way.)

Creamy Chicken Corn Chowder

1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
4 green onions, chopped
2 cups diced, cooked chicken
1 bag of frozen corn (10 oz), split
1 cup chicken stock
2 cup milk
1/2 cup grated cheddar
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in a pan. Add green onions and flour. Stir until all the flour is wet and cook for a few minutes. Add chicken and stock. Stir to incorporate the flour. Add half a bag of corn. In a blender (or magic bullet!) puree the milk and the other half of bag of corn. Add to the soup. Bring to a simmer and add cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Makes about 3-4 small servings.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Chili, Cornbread & Roasted Okra

The weather dipped into a bit cooler temperatures, so what do Texans do? They make chili of course! This was just a quick throw together chili that only took 30 minutes or so to throw together, but that was because I had my beans pre-prepared. I'm limiting canned foods, so I made a huge batch of brown beans a couple of weeks ago and put them in freezer bags to pull out when needed. As for my side, that's ROASTED okra! Mostly the only ways I like okra are either fried or in gumbo. Then the thought occurred to me to try roasting it. Sure enough, tossed in a bit of olive oil with salt and pepper and these were delicious! Not slimey at all.

Easy Chili

1 small onion finely diced
2 tsp olive oil

1 lb hamburger meat
2 cups of brown beans, previously cooked and thawed or canned
1 can of tomato sauce, or about 1.5-2 cups home prepared tomato sauce

2 tsp oregano
3 tbsp of chili powder
1-2 chilies (jalapenos, for example)
3-4 cloves garlic

Dice onion and saute them in olive oil in a large pot. Add minced garlic and diced chilies. Add ground beef, and break it up with the edge of a spoon. Before the beef is cooked all the way add seasonings of oregano, salt, and chili powder. Add beans and tomato sauce. Stir and adjust seasonings as needed. Let simmer for 10-15 minutes. Serve with cornbread.

I've made cornbread before on this blog, and yet, I'm always looking for a better recipe. Last nights cornbread came out great! Too bad I didn't measure... here are the approximates..


2 cups of cornmeal
1/2 cup white-wheat flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tbsp baking powder
3-4 tbsp honey
2 eggs
1.5 cups milk

1.5 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp coconut oil

Preheat oven to 400. In a large mixing bowl, mix the cornmeal, white-wheat flour and whole wheat flour. Add the baking powder and salt and whisk to incorporate. In a small bowl, beat eggs, milk and honey. Add to dry ingredients and mix well. Place a cast iron skillet on the stove and pre-heat it, medium-high heat. Add the butter and coconut oil. When it is melted swirl it around to grease the sides of the skillet and the pour it into the batter. Turn off the stove. Mix the melted butter/coconut oil into the batter and immediately pour it back into the hot skillet. Put the skillet in the middle rack and bake at 400 for about 20minutes or until golden brown on top.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Hearty Vegetable Soup

Last Thursday, I had a playdate at my friend Angela's house. She served some delicious vegetable soup for lunch. I've been wanting more ever since I left her house! I somehow forgot to get the recipe from her, but I did remember she said two things. One: the soup was made with homemade chicken stock from the Nourishing Traditions Cookbook. And Two: the only seasonings were salt and pepper. So I recreated my version or her soup. But as it sometimes goes, mine wasn't as good as hers, because sometimes being served a warm bowl of soup made with love tastes better than what can come out of your own kitchen! Nevertheless, it was still yummy and I'm glad I made an entire pot of it!

Vegetable Soup

1 potato, skin on, scrubbed clean
2 large carrots
small head of broccoli
1 small onion, I used a yellow one
2 tbsp olive oil
Greens- I used about 1.5 cups frozen turnip greens, I'm pretty sure Angela's soup had kale. If you use fresh, you need a lot more since it will cook down. spinach, collard greens or chard are all good choices for this type of soup.
5 cups of homemade chicken stock

Dice onion into small pieces.Put olive oil in a medium size pot and heat medium-high. Add onion. Scrub potato and dice it into small cubes, add to pot. Scrub the carrots, I rarely peel them either. Cut lengthwise and cut into small semi-circles. Add them to the pot. Stir occasionally so potatoes don't stick. Add broccoli, greens and broth. Reduce heat and simmer for at least 30 minutes. Garnish with a bit of grated Parmesan and serve with bread & butter.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

From Scratch - Decadent Nut & Maple Syrup Oatmeal

I bet when you think of all the things that could be decadent, oatmeal didn't come to mind. You'd be wrong. This is so warmy-ooey-gooey and filling. It's great for a cold morning (or night) and it uses all real food.I made one large portion for my dinner this evening and I didn't measure, so these are educated guesses, but it's really all to taste anyway. If you like your oatmeal thinner, add more milk, if you like it thicker don't. (Updated 3/6/11)

Nut & Maple Syrup Oatmeal

3/4 cup stone ground oats
1 tbsp Braggs Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
enough water to cover, plus some
1 cup milk or so
1/2 tbsp butter
4 tbsp heavy cream
2 tbsp Grad B Maple Syrup (Grade B is better, and more nutritious than Grade A)
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup crispy nuts*, I used walnut, toasted

Soak oats in water and apple cider vinegar for 8-12 hours. (This breaks down the phytic acid in the oatmeal and makes the nutrients more easily digestible.)

In a small pot add soaked oats and milk bring to a low boil and stir for 8-10 minutes.Add the butter and remove from heat. Stir in the heavy cream, maple syrup, vanilla, salt and last garnish with freshly toasted nuts. Enjoy!

*Crispy Nuts- a recipe by Sally Fallon. Soaking your nuts in salt water gets rid of the phytic acid in the nuts, an anti-nutrient that is very hard to digest and isn't good for your body. Use about 1 tsp of salt per cup of nuts. Cover the nuts with filtered water and stir in salt. Let them soak for 24 hours. Drain, and spread out on a cookie sheet and bake at 150 (or as low as your oven goes) for 12 hours. Or use a dehydrator until they are completely dry and crispy. Store in a airtight container in your refridgerator.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Potato Börek

Oh borek!  Yum!  In Turkey börek can take on many shape, forms and fillings.  I love börek because it keeps well in the fridge, freezes well and reheats well.  I often make it for Bulent’s breakfast since he likes a hearty breakfast and he can take it out the of fridge and microwave it.   This is made from yufka but you could use savory phyllo dough. 

Pan ‘O Börek


Just one piece



Potato Börek


3-5  Large potatoes, boiled and smashed or broken up
2 onion, diced and sautéed
2 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 – 1 tsp of red pepper depending on how spicy you want it.

Moist Mix

2 eggs
2/3 cup milk
1/3 cup oil

Boil the potatoes then mash them or mush them into smaller pieces.  I like to have them be more chopped than mashed because then you bite into pieces of potato, which has more contrast.  In a saucepan sauté onion in oil, then add to the potatoes.  Then add the spices and mix in.   In a bowl, place the eggs, oil and milk whisk them.  Reserve 1 cup for later.
If you are using Turkish yufka (about 1 kilo) stack them on top of each other an cut them into four equal (triangular) pieces.  If you are using phyllo dough do the same thing.  You will need two sheets of thickness to make the borek.  Brush the moist mix all over the pieces of dough.  Place a small amount of the potato filling(2-3 tablespoons) on the wide side and spread evenly. Starting with the filled end roll up the dough.  The roll the cylindrical dough into a spiral shape. Repeat until you have used all the dough.  Put the spirals side by side in a greased pan.  Do not leave any room, they will not swell.  Using the reserved moist mix, pour the liquid on top and bake 35-45 minutes at 350 F.  Until they are golden brown.  Serve warm.  These freeze very well, defrost them, put them in the oven to re-crisp and they are like new!

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