Sunday, October 30, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie Soup

Chicken Pot Pie Soup

I bought a whole chicken at Sam's Club yesterday, not knowing exactly how I was going to serve it.  After tossing around some predictable ideas in my head, I landed on chicken pot pie soup.  I'd had it recently at Jason's Deli, and boy, was it yummy.  I looked up a couple of recipes online, and melded them with my own chicken pot pie filling, and this is what I came up with.  It was EXACTLY what I was going for, which seems to rarely happen.  So, I'm glad I'm taking the time now to type out the recipe so I have it for future reference.
This soup is super creamy and thick, almost like a chowder, but better.  I break up the pieces of pie crust on top, and since I made it at home, I give myself much more crust than I got at Jason's Deli. I like this more than chicken pot pie now.
*Disclaimer: I've had this at Jason's Deli since writing this post, and I must say, my version is a lot richer and does not taste exactly like Jason's Deli. I'll have to keep working on that, but in the meantime, this IS a very delicious soup.

Chicken Pot Pie Soup

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup onion, finely chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 pinch of garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups 1% milk
  • 1 cup half & half (can lighten things up by using all milk)
  • 3 chicken bullion cubes (4 might be better--I'm trying to reduce sodium)
  • 2-3 cups cooked chicken, shredded, diced, or sliced (I used the breast & thigh meat from a store-bought roasted chicken & it was FANtastic.)
  • 2 cups diced cooked potato
  • 1 ½ cups mixed vegetables, cooked
  • 1 batch of pie crust cut into cracker-sized pieces & baked (see below)

In a large pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat, melt butter and sauté onions until soft.  Add basil, thyme,  black pepper, celery salt, & garlic powder.  Stir and sauté for a minute.  Add flour and stir for about another minute.  Gradually whisk in milk and half & half, making sure to whisk out lumps.  Add bullion cubes and continue to whisk until liquid comes to a simmer and thickens.  Stir in chicken & vegetables.  Turn heat to low and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
Serve hot with pie crust pieces.
Makes 4-5 servings.

Pie Crust
(Note: you can also use store-bought refrigerated pie crust)
  • 1 ¼ cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons Crisco
  • 3 tablespoons ice cold water
  • flour for dusting
Preheat oven to 400°F.
In a medium bowl, mix flour and salt. With two knives or a pastry blender, cut 4 tablespoons butter into flour until it looks like coarse meal, and then cut in Crisco until well blended. Add ice cold water and stir with fork. Then use your hands to gently work the dough into a ball.  Flour a rectangular sheet of wax paper, place dough ball in the middle, flour the ball, and cover with another rectangular sheet of wax paper. Roll dough out to a thickness of about 1/8”.  With a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut dough roughly into 2”x 2” squares.  You can also be creative and use cookie cutters to make cute shapes.
Place dough pieces on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.  Prick each piece a few times with a fork.  Bake at 400°F for 11-13 minutes, or until browned on the edges.   Remove from oven. 
Serve with the soup.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Whoopie Pies with Cocoa Mascarpone Filling

Whoopie Pies with Cocoa Mascarpone Filling
After my last successful adventure with whoopie pies, I decided to try them out with a cocoa mascarpone filling, because I do love chocolate cake with cocoa whipped cream.  These came out exactly as I had imagined: soft chocolate cake cookies filled with a very thick and very rich cocoa whipped cream; not too sweet, and very, very chocolatey.  Mascarpone Cheese, where have you been all my life?  I'm so glad we've finally met.

Whoopie Pies with Cocoa Mascarpone Cream Filling
    --adapted from Martha Stewart 's Whoopie Pie recipe

  • 1 3/4 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 recipe Cocoa Mascarpone Cream Filling
Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cocoa powder.  In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light-colored and fluffy.  Add egg, buttermilk, and vanilla and beat until combined.  Slowly add dry ingredients, mixing until combined.  Scoop into an airtight plastic container and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Using a medium sized cookie scoop (I used the medium Pampered Chef cookie scoop, which is about 2T), drop 2 inches apart onto parchment-lined cookie sheets.  Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes, or until puffed and cracked on top.
Allow to cool a couple of minutes on the cookie sheet and then carefully move to a wire rack to finish cooling.  Once all cookies are baked and cooled, work on the filling.

Cocoa Mascarpone Cream Filling Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 16 oz. mascarpone cheese
  •  1 cup heavy whipping cream
Cocoa Mascarpone Cream Filling Instructions:  In a mixer bowl thoroughly mix cocoa, sugar, and hot water.  Allow to cool for about 10-15 minutes.  Add cream, mascarpone & vanilla.  Mix slowly at first to incorporate ingredients and then beat on high until very thick.
Place frosting in a large zip-top bag and cut one of the bottom corners 1/2 inch.  Squeeze about 4 tablespoons of frosting on each of 16 cookies.  Then top with the remaining 16 cookies.  Now you have yummy whoopie pies.  
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator, if they last long enough. 
Makes 16 pies.  

Monday, October 17, 2011

Whoopie Pies with Mascarpone Frosting

Whoopie Pies with Mascarpone Cream Frosting.  Absolutely perfect.
With an 8-oz. container of mascarpone cheese burning a hole in my fridge and a successful use of mascarpone frosting in My Chocolate Birthday Cake, I decided that I just HAD to make some whoopie pies with the mascarpone frosting.  I've had this whoopie pie recipe from the Food Network website since 2004, and I've never made it.  It's actually a Martha Stewart recipe, and it's no longer on the website.  
All that having been said...OH MY GOODNESS.  These are delicious.  The mascarpone frosting is the perfect filling for these things.  It's like a super thick whipped cream filling fluffy little cakes.  They're just barely sweet enough so that I don't feel sick after eating one. Mmmmm...I'm looking forward to my next one already.

Whoopie Pies with Mascarpone Cream Frosting
    --adapted from Martha Stewart 's Whoopie Pie recipe

  • 1 3/4 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-2 recipes Mascarpone Frosting (One recipe wasn't quite enough.  I think doubling the frosting and making them obnoxiously full of the cream would be better.  Just saying.)
Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cocoa powder.  In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light-colored and fluffy.  Add egg, buttermilk, and vanilla and beat until combined.  Slowly add dry ingredients, mixing until combined.  Scoop into an airtight plastic container and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Using a medium sized cookie scoop (I used the medium Pampered Chef cookie scoop, which is about 2T), drop 2 inches apart onto parchment-lined cookie sheets.  Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes, or until puffed and cracked on top.
Allow to cool a couple of minutes on the cookie sheet and then carefully move to a wire rack to finish cooling.  Once all cookies are baked and cooled, work on the filling.

Mascarpone Cream Frosting Ingredients:
  •  8 oz. mascarpone cheese
  •  1/4 cup sugar
  •  1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract*
  •  1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
Mascarpone Cream Frosting Instructions:  In a mixer bowl, cream mascarpone, vanilla & sugar.  Add cream and whip on high until stiff.
*Note: for the frosting you see pictured above, I used 1/3 of a vanilla bean pod, split and scraped, and I put it with the cream in a small saucepan, brought it barely to a simmer, and then refrigerated it.  Remove the vanilla bean pod before adding it to the mascarpone & sugar, making sure to scrape all of the precious seeds into the mixture.
Place frosting in a large zip-top bag and cut one of the bottom corners 1/2 inch.  Squeeze about 2 tablespoons of frosting on each of 16 cookies.  Then top with the remaining 16 cookies.  Now you have yummy whoopie pies.  
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator, if they last long enough. 

Makes 16 pies.  Actually, it made 15 for me with two naked cookies. :(

Cakey and delicous

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Marilyn Wong's Chinese Chicken Salad

Marilyn's Chinese Chicken Salad--DELISH!
Here's a recipe for an Asian sounding salad that comes to you complements of my German-Irish mother who thinks she's Chinese.  I mean, she's got the Chinese husband and hapa haole kids, so she kind of has a right to the benefits of being Chinese.  Except that she's blonde, freckled, and, well, you get the idea.
I rarely make this salad myself, thanks to my carnivore husband who hates salads.  I decided to make it this weekend, though, for company, and somehow I never did make it.  So, I'm having it for dinner tonight, and I'm excited about it.
It's relatively light salad (if you don't count the fried won ton crispies) with pretty simple ingredients.  The only ingredient that's really out of the ordinary, I think, is the sesame oil/sesame seeds.  I think they make a difference, though, so make a point of obtaining those before you make this salad.
Marilyn usually serves this salad with pizza.  Something about balancing out the pizza.  My mom's version of a yin-yang thing, I guess.  Actually, she's usually serving a crowd and trying to please everyone, and this is what happens.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE it.  It's all good.  I just think it's funny.  Love you, Mom!

Marilyn Wong's Chinese Chicken Salad

  • 1 large head of iceberg lettuce, washed, cored, and cut into 1/2 to 1" pieces
  • 4-5 chicken breasts, cooked in a pan or grilled and sliced or shredded
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 4 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/2 a package of won ton wrappers
  • canola oil for frying
Dressing Ingredients:
  • 6 tablespoons white sugar
  • 6 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil or toasted sesame seeds
Making the Dressing: Either whisk the dressing ingredients together, or as Marilyn does, place them all in a Mason jar, close tightly, and shake violently to mix.  Set aside.

Making the Won Ton Crispies: Cut won ton wrappers into 1/4" strips.  Cut those strips in half.  In a high rimmed frying pan, heat about 3/4" oil to very hot.  When you think it's hot enough, test one little strip: if it bubbles up right away, the oil is ready. (If the strip immediately browns, the oil is TOO hot--remove from heat and add a little more oil to bring the temperature down.)  Fry a small handful of strips at a time, using a slotted metal spoon to separate strips in the oil.  Fry to a nice golden brown.  Remove with slotted metal spoon to a paper-towel lined plate and lightly salt.  Repeat with remaining strips.

Making the Candied Almonds: Line a heat-proof plate with non-stick foil or parchment paper.  Heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat.  Place the 4 tablespoons sugar in the middle and sort of flatten the mound.  Allow sugar to melt completely, stirring with a silicon spatula.  If sugar seems to be browning quickly, remove from heat and proceed.  Once sugar is liquified, add almonds and stir to coat.  Once coated, scrape almonds onto waiting foil or parchment.  With two forks, try to quickly separate the almonds.  Once they cool a bit, you can start using your fingers for this.  They probably won't all separate, but then you'll get some tasty chunks for candied almond in your salad.  No biggie.  When I made them today, I placed the almonds around the edge of the pan while the sugar melted, just to toast them up a bit since I'd had the almonds in the freezer.  Just something different I tried that worked today.
If all of this sounds like too much trouble, I know that they sell prepackaged candied nuts just for this purpose in the produce section of most grocery stores.  The salad will still be yummy with store-bought candied almonds.

Assembling the Salad: Place cut lettuce in a large bowl and sprinkle with chopped green onions, chicken, and almonds.  Pour well-shaken/mixed dressing over the top.  Top with won ton crispies.
Chinese Chicken Salad, Dressing on the Side

Makes 4-6 meal-sized servings.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Taquitos & Flautas

Taquitos & Flautas w/ Guacamole
Beef Taquitos & Flautas
Taquito: a corn tortilla wrapped around shredded beef, shredded chicken, or chopped steak and fried to crisp perfection.  Sometimes called a rolled taco.
Flauta: a flour tortilla wrapped around shredded beef, shredded chicken, or chopped steak and fried to crisp perfection.
I'm making both tonight because I had a lot of left over carne asada from the other night.  I like to make these whenever I have a relatively large amount of left over roast or chicken.  They're simple, delicious, and yes, probably super fattening.  I don't make them every day, so get off my back about the fat.  They're good, and in moderation they make me happy.
The taquitos are really crisp and when you bite into one, you get this awesome combination of textures and flavors: tortilla chip crispiness and corniness, and spicy, tender meat.  Mmmmm...
Flautas are pretty remarkable too.  The tortillas crisp up just on the outside, but on the inside it's soft and warm.  It adds a different flavor and texture to the meat and gives you a pretty different experience than the corn tortilla.  They definitely taste a little more decadent and unhealthy than the corn.
The trick to making these is the pre-frying of the tortillas.  If you skip that step, particularly with the corn tortilla, you're going to make yourself crazy with the crumbling tortillas.  You're going to fry them anyway, so why not twice?
These are best served with your favorite salsa, or if you're a guacamole fan like me, with your favorite guac.

Taquitos & Flautas

  • 2 cups (or so) cooked shredded beef or chicken or chopped cooked steak
  • 10-12 tortillas (regular corn and/or fajita sized flour)
  • canola oil
  • taco seasoning or salsa, if meat is not very seasoned

Heat up about 1 1/2 inches of canola oil in a high-rimmed frying pan over medium-high heat.  It should be hot enough so that when you place a tortilla in it, the oil bubbles immediately.

Get a heat-proof plate ready by lining it with a paper towel.  One at a time, quickly fry the tortillas, turning once.  Don't let them fry too long.  About 3-4 seconds is all it takes.  Remove with tongs and place tortillas on plate.  Just pile them on top of one another.  Turn heat off.

Season meat with a little salsa or taco seasoning if you like that flavor.  Otherwise, you can just use the meat as-is, because if it's left over, it's probably already got seasoning on it, right?

Momentarily separate the tortillas to release some of the heat and steam they've got from being stacked.  Place about 2-3 tablespoons of meat (less for corn tortillas, more for flour) about 2/3 the way down a tortilla, arranging the meat into a line.  Fold over that bottom third and roll as tightly as you can without ripping the tortilla.  If you roll too loosely, the meat will fall out and the taquito will unroll, and you won't want to eat them.  Roll tightly and place seam side down on a plate.  Secure the flour tortilla flautas with a toothpick.  Repeat and place taquitos right next to each other so they can keep each other in order (see picture).

Turn the heat back on under the oil.  It should only take a few minutes to come back up to temperature.  Then place as many taquitos as will fit with about 1/4-inch between.  I can fit 4-5 in my frying pan.  Turn taquitos after about 2 minutes, and basically fry them until the ends are a dark golden brown.  Remove with tongs to a paper towel-lined plate to cool.

Serve with salsa and/or guacamole.

Makes 10-12 taquitos

Sunday, October 9, 2011

My Chocolate Birthday Cake

Happy Birthday to Me Cake

Four layers of cake, french silk pie filling, mascarpone cream frosting, cocoa whipped cream, and dark chocolate ganache.  Happy birthday to me. This cake was inspired by one of my favorite Cheesecake Factory desserts: Chocolate Tuxedo Cream Cheesecake.  
The cake recipe comes via Ghirardelli, and it came out so tender and soft, it kind of started falling apart before I could cut the layers.  Granted, I let the cakes cool too long in the pans, but still, very tender.
The French silk pie filling is from, and I have a recipe for the yummy pie here on my blog.
I can't remember where the mascarpone frosting recipe came from...
And the cocoa whipped cream is from a Nestle cocoa box from the '80s.
All in all, this cake is a success and helped make my belated birthday very, very happy.

My Chocolate Birthday Cake

Cake Ingredients (adapted from :
  • 1 cup Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Chocolate and Cocoa (or use 1/2 cup ground cocoa powder and increase the total amount of sugar below to 1 1/4 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons King Arthur Flour Cake Enhancer (optional)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cake Instructions: Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Prepare two 8" x 1 1/2" round cake pans by spraying with non-stick cooking spray and then lining with parchment or wax paper circles.  Into a mixer bowl fitted with a whisk attachment, sift flour with ground chocolate, cake enhancer, sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. Add butter and 3/4 cup buttermilk. Beat on low speed to combine ingredients. Scrape sides of bowl and then beat on low-medium speed for 2 minutes. Add 1/4 cup buttermilk, eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat additional 2 minutes.  Spread batter into prepared pans. Bake at 350ºF for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on racks for 10 to 15 minutes; remove from pans.
French Silk Pie Layer Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened, but cool
  • 1/4 cup white granulated sugar (I prefer C & H sugar)
  • 11 unwrapped dark chocolate Dove Promises (about 3 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
French Silk Pie Layer Instructions (adapted from  
            In a double boiler, melt Dove Promises about 2/3 of the way.  Remove top of double boiler and continue to stir until chocolate is completely melted.  Set aside to cool further.  I recommend cooling until the chocolate starts to thicken slightly so that it won't melt the butter and will be firm enough to withstand the next cake layer on top of it without smooshing out the sides.
            Cream butter.  Gradually add sugar, creaming well.  Blend in melted and cooled chocolate and vanilla.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating 4 minutes after each addition with an electric mixer on medium speed.  

            Start assembling--see below.

Mascarpone Cream Frosting Ingredients:
  • 8 oz. mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
Mascarpone Cream Frosting Instructions:  In a mixer bowl, cream mascarpone, vanilla extract & sugar.  Add cream and whip on high until stiff.  

Cocoa Whipped Cream Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup powdered cocoa
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup hot tap water
  • 2 cups cold heavy whipping cream
Cocoa Whipped Cream Instructions: In mixer bowl with a wire whisk attachment, mix cocoa, sugar & hot water, mixing to form a paste.  Allow to cool before adding cream.  Add cream and start mixing on low to incorporate cream into cocoa paste.  Stop the mixer and scrape the bow.  Mix on high until stiff peaks form.

Assembling the Cake:

Once you've made the French silk pie layer, start the assembly process. 

Cut each of the two cakes in half so you have four layers. Place the bottom layer on a serving plate or cake stand.  On the bottom layer, spread the French silk pie filling to within 1/4-inch of the edge.  Place the second layer on; cover & refrigerate until the mascarpone layer is ready.

Spread on the mascarpone frosting to about 1/4-inch of the edge.  Place the third cake layer on top of that.  Spread half the cocoa whipped cream on the cake and top with the final cake layer.  Frost the sides of the cake with the remaining cocoa whipped cream.  Cover the cake and refrigerate.

Ganache Ingredients:
  • 10 Dove Dark Chocolate Promises, unwrapped and roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
Ganache Instructions:

Place chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl.
In a small pan over medium heat, bring the cream and butter just to a simmer.  Pour cream over chocolate and allow to sit for about 5 minutes.  
Stir to combine chocolate & cream.  
Pour ganache directly in the center of the top of the cake.  As it spreads and drips over the sides, if there are spots with no ganache, make sure you drip or spread some over there.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Makes one large cake.  You decide how many servings.

For a mini version of this cake, click here.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Carne Asada

Carne Asada made with flank steak.  YUM!

Juicy, spicy, tender, and meaty, carne asada is another perfect way to indulge in the joys of Mexican cuisine.  When I first started shopping at SuperTarget, they sold this "Mexican Grill Seasoning for Beef" under their Archer Farms label.  It made the BEST carne asada I think I've ever had.  As happens with LOTS of awesome finds for me, they don't sell the product around here anymore, and I assume it's been discontinued.  Fortunately, I had stocked up when they were on clearance, so I had time to come up with my own version.  I don't think it's exactly the same, but it's delicious anyway.  I use the same ingredients every time, but I never write down the proportions, so that's why I'm doing it now.  Hopefully I've gotten it right; if not, I will revise, as always.
The recipe below makes enough seasoning to use 4-5 times, depending on how much steak you're fixin'.  I just mix it up and keep it in a handy Ziplock or Glad plastic container (small size).
If you're going to bother with making this, I strongly recommend you buy the freshest, most delicious tortillas you can find, along with some great guacamole.  I usually try to make my own guac, but Wholly Guacamole makes a darned-good store-bought guac.

Carne Asada Seasoning

  • 2 tablespoons garlic salt
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons dried minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons oregano leaf
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Place all ingredients in a small bowl and stir.  Store in an airtight container.

Carne Asada

  • 1 1/2 pounds flank steak, tri-tip (I cut mine into 3-inch chunks), skirt steak, or top sirloin
  • 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons Carne Asada Seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
Place meat in a large zip-top bag and sprinkle as evenly as possible with the seasoning.  Zip bag and place in refrigerator 2-8 hours.
Preheat your grill on high heat for at least 30 minutes.
Coat the meat with the canola oil by pouring it into the bag and smooshing it around the meat from the outside.
Grill meat over medium-high to high heat, turning once after about 4-5 minutes.  Check the temperature with a probe thermometer.  (I like my steak medium rare, so I cook to 145 degrees.  My handy Williams-Sonoma meat thermometer does most of the work for me by beeping when my steak reaches that temperature.)  When meat has reached desired doneness, move to a plate to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving/slicing.
If you're using flank or top sirloin steak, slice meat on a diagonal.  I serve the long slices of flank steak, and sirloin will chop into smaller pieces sometimes.  Tri-tip chunks get served as-is, and the meat-eater gets to cut it himself/herself.
Serve with warm corn or soft-taco sized flour tortillas, fresh salsa, & guacamole.  Heck, throw on some shredded cheese if that's what makes you happy.
Serves about 4-5 normal people who aren't starving.

Karin's Mexican Rice

Mexican Rice a la Karin

My good friend Karin insisted I try this recipe after I told her that I made Mexican rice from scratch.  It's taken me three months to finally buy some frozen traditional  vegetables to do it, but here it is.  I must say, it is a contender for my favorite Mexican rice.  It tastes just like a lot of Mexican rice I've had at restaurants, and the little veggies make it really authentic.  A fantastic side for any Mexican dinner, and easy too.
I've cut the recipe in half because that's what I did when I made it.  I knew for sure 3 cups of uncooked rice would yield more than we could eat at our little dinner party.  Everyone LOVED the rice, by the way.  
If you're looking for real Mexican rice to go with your meal, this is it.  Do it.

Karin's Mexican Rice

  • 1 1/2 cup white rice (I used long grain; Karin uses medium)
  • 1/4 large white or yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cups chicken stock or broth*
  • 4 oz. tomato sauce (use plain, unseasoned tomato sauce, not paste)
  • 3 T. vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup frozen traditional vegetable medley (peas, carrots, corn)
  • salt and pepper to taste


In a very large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat until it shimmers in the pan. The oil should be very hot.

Next, add the rice and stir regularly until the rice is a pale toasty brown..

Add the onion and stir for about one minute until opaque in color. The rice should now be a deeper toasty brown.

To the rice, add the chicken broth/stock and tomato sauce. Listen for the applause. You are doing a great job! (It really does applaud you.)

Stir very well until all of the broth and tomato sauce is incorporated throughout the rice. If you don’t stir well, the rice will be red in spots and white in others. You don't want this.

Turn up the heat, and bring the entire mixture up to a boil. Add the frozen vegetables. Turn the heat down to a low simmer. Cover tightly. Simmer for 25 minutes. Turn off the heat. Let the rice sit for 20 minutes. Do not at any point take off the lid. You will be tempted to peek at the rice. Don’t do it!

Fluff up the rice and season to taste. Serve with your favorite Mexican dishes.

*I didn't have chicken stock on hand, and now that I'm typing this, I realize that I only used 2 cups of water, not 3.  The rice turned out fine, as pictured above.  Yes, I said I used water...and I also added 2 1/2 chicken bouillon cubes.  Sorry, Karin.

Makes, oh, I'd say 8 servings.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Salt & Baking Soda Make a Difference

These cookies are from the same batch of dough.
The cookie in the upper right corner is missing salt & baking soda.  Ick.

I knew that it was true that salt makes a big difference in the flavor of foods, but I really don't experiment much to see what food is like with little to no salt.  Last night, though, I made a quick batch of Shakespeare Oatmeal Cookies.  They didn't look at all like the cookies I'd made days before with the same recipe.  The were much paler, puffier, and just all-around anemic looking.  Weird.  Fortunately, I don't bake all of my cookie dough at once.  I leave most in the fridge and bake fresh cookies as "needed."  When I tasted a cookie in the morning, it was a little hard, and had a harsh sugary flavor.  I thought about where I might have gone wrong.  I knew I had added brown sugar as well as white sugar...  It was when I looked at my measuring spoons that I realized that I had added the spices to the dry ingredients, but not the salt or baking soda.

I took the remaining dough out of the fridge and let it soften a little.  Then back into the Kitchen Aid mixer bowl it went, along with almost a teaspoon each of salt & baking soda (I'd baked about 9 cookies in the first batch).  After quickly mixing in the missing ingredients, I returned the dough to its plastic container and then to the fridge.

After work, I baked up some more cookies, and voila!  The soft, browned, chewy cookies I'd intended.  I'm not sure how all the chemistry works with cookie dough.  I do know, though, that salt & baking soda help make cookies delicious.  I won't be forgetting them again anytime soon.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Shakespeare Oatmeal Cookies

Shakespeare Oatmeal Cookies

I got this oatmeal cookie recipe waaaaay back in high school.  A boy named Jeff in our church youth group brought these cookies to some event and they were awesome.  Even back then, I asked for recipes of delicious food, and I've had this one on my trusty little favorite recipe ring for over twenty years. (Yikes, I'm old!)  I have no idea where the name comes from, but that's what I have on the recipe card, so that's what I'm naming this post.
The thing I like about these cookies is that they're not your typical bland oatmeal cookie.  The spices add a whole other dimension and the butter and brown sugar make it melt in your mouth.  You still get the semi-healthy sense of eating oatmeal, but with an added kick.  Good stuff.
In the picture at the bottom of this post, you'll see how I tried to use these cookies for ice cream sandwiches.  Just a small scoop of soft vanilla between two cookies and some freezer time created an even tastier treat.  
(*I've kicked this cookie recipe up another notch by adding candied orange zest.  If you're interested in THAT, I have the recipe for Orange Spice Oatmeal Cookies here on this blog.  Just click on the cookie name you just read.)

Shakespeare Oatmeal Cookies

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs

Sift flour, salt, soda, & spices together.  Stir in oats.
Cream butter, shortening, & sugars.  Beat in eggs.  Stir in dry ingredients and blend well. Refrigerate dough for at least two hours or overnight. (I don't recommend freezing this dough.)
Preheat oven to 350°.  Form dough into walnut-sized balls and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.  Bake at 350° for 10-13 minutes, or until puffed in the middle, and set around the edges.  Allow cookies to cool on wire rack.

Makes about 4 1/2 to 5 dozen cookies.
Oatmeal cookies with vanilla ice cream

01 09