Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fresh Pico de Gallo

I love Pico de Gallo because of all the flavors that marry together and the burst of freshness that it has. It's so simple to make and tastes so good homemade that I wouldn't even consider buying this premade in the grocery store.

Just make sure you buy the freshest ingredients you can find.

Pico de Gallo

5-6 Roma (plum) tomatoes
1 small red onion (or 1/2 of a large one)
3 Jalapeno peppers
1 bunch cilantro
1-2 limes
Salt to taste

Seed and dice the tomatoes to about 1/4 inch and add to medium bowl. Dice onion to the same size as the tomatoes and add to bowl.

Dice the jalapenos to about half the size of the tomatoes and onion. If you want less heat but all the flavor, seed one or two of the jalapenos and then continue. The heat is in the seeds. Add these to the bowl also.

Chop cilantro as small (or large) as you like and add it to the bowl. You can use all of it or just a little. It's one of those 'personal preference' flavors. I like lots of it!

Squeeze a lime or two into the bowl over the ingredients and mix well. Add salt to taste and mix well again.

You can eat it right away, but I think it's best to refrigerate it and wait at least an hour before diving in.  The flavors really develop if you wait.

Serve it with tortilla chips, tortillas or just eat it with a spoon!

This keeps for about a week in the fridge, but it never lasts that long around here. :-)


Monday, February 23, 2009

Sopa Seca

This is a dish that I have fallen in love with. It's perfect - the spices, the chicken, the noodles, the cheese..... just perfect. All the flavors marry together just right. It has just the right amount of Mexican flavor but it's not at all spicy. And everyone in our family loved it - kids included.

It's Sopa Seca - a Mexican noodle casserole. Now before you make that "eww, casserole" face, let me tell you it's not your mama's casserole (unless your mom is Mexican).

You can find all the ingredients in a regular grocery store and this recipe makes a very large amount of food, so prepare accordingly. It reheats nicely, so leftovers are very possible.

Sopa Seca

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for pan

12 ounces fideos (Mexican vermicelli)

1 medium onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 bay leaf

1 1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes

1 1/2 cups chicken broth, homemade, or low-sodium canned

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 cups shredded cooked chicken (I use a roast chicken.)
1 cup coarsely grated cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
Mexican crema, or sour cream thinned with a bit of milk, optional

Preheat oven to 375F.

Brush a large casserole dish with oil. Heat the extra-virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the fideos and cook, turning them, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer the toasted noodles to a bowl. Set aside

Add the onion to the skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic, coriander, oregano, chili powder, and bay leaf, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes to the pot. Add the cayenne pepper, increase the heat to high, and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the broth, the toasted fideos, salt, and pepper, to taste. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 10-15 minutes. Water can be added to thin the mixture if needed while the noodles cook. When the noodles are tender, stir in the chicken.

Remove the bay leaf. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish, sprinkle the grated cheese over the top, and cover loosely with foil. Bake until the cheese melts and the casserole is hot through and through, about 20 minutes. If desired, serve with some crema drizzled over the top.


Friday, January 30, 2009

Asian Cole Slaw

My cousin Laura made this salad last summer and since then, I don't think a week has gone by without it being on our table! It's wonderful. All the flavors really compliment each other.

Asian Cole Slaw

1 package cole slaw (or broccoli slaw, which I sometimes use)

1/2 cup chopped green onions

3/4 cup slivered almonds

3/4 cup sunflower kernels

2 packages ramen noodles (any flavor), broken into bite-sized pieces

2/3 cup vegetable or canola oil

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

Dressing: Mix together oil, sugar and vinegar. Set aside so sugar can dissolve.

Toast almonds, sunflower kernels and ramen noodles over medium heat in skillet with butter for about 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently. Allow to cool slightly.

In large bowl, toss cole slaw, green onions, almonds, sunflower kernels and ramen noodles.
Just before serving, toss with dressing.

Note: You can add seasoning packet(s) from ramen to the dressing, but I like it just the way it is. The seasoning packets tend to have quite a bit of sodium, so I leave them out.

Picture courtesy of LA Times.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Featherlight Pancakes

My mom made these pancakes for me every morning before school. Yes, EVERY MORNING! She painstakingly mixed the batter, making sure to incorporate all the ingredients with just the right amount of love. Then she fried them up on the griddle nice and golden brown and perfectly round. I would come out of my room every morning to these little wonders - soft, light pancakes with just the perfect amount of syrup.

Yes, she was the original Supermom.

Okay, okay, that's not entirely true. She DID make these pancakes for breakfast every morning before school. But I just learned about a year ago that she made a huge batch of them on the weekends, froze them, and then heated them up every morning in the microwave! I was shocked and appalled. And also educated! I found out you can freeze these and make them taste like you just made them after heating them in the microwave! WOOHOOO!!

Oh, and they're also great fresh off the griddle. They puff up more than your usual pancake because they really are light as a feather.

Featherlight Pancakes

2 cups flour
2 TBS baking powder
1 tsp salt
4 TBS sugar
2 beaten eggs
2 cups milk
4 TBS oil

Combine all ingredients with wire whisk until well incorporated and free of lumps.

Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot with warm syrup.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Holiday Tortellini Soup

I found this recipe in the December issue of Taste of Home magazine. I made it last Sunday and it is AMAZING!!!

It's a very simple soup that doesn't take long to make. It's got a wonderful broth with great undertones. Everything in this soup works very well together. Give it a try!

I also made some crostini by slicing a baguette, sprinkling with olive oil, salt and pepper and broiling just until toasted. Worked perfectly with this soup!

Holiday Tortellini Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 ounces pancetta
or bacon, finely diced
1 medium onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 can (49-1/2 ounces) chicken broth

2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

1 package (9 ounces) refrigerated cheese tortellini
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes in puree

8 ounces fresh spinach, rinsed and chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add pancetta. Cook until crisp. Add onion; cook 3-4 minutes or until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Add broth and Italian seasoning; bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook tortellini according to package directions; drain. Add cooked tortellini to soup mixture. Stir in crushed tomatoes and simmer 5 minutes. Add spinach and cook just until wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with Parmesan cheese.


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Win a Free Kitchenaid Mixer!

No, not from me. But if you join Cooks Central now, you can enter to win a Kitchenaid Mixer.

I have to say, without my Kitchenaid Mixer, I'm not sure how I would survive in the kitchen. It was purchased secondhand for $50 by my mom about 15 years ago and has been taken apart, painted and put back together and is still running great. I just love it! It's my favorite small appliance by far! And it's a decorative touch in the kitchen, so it stays on my counter.

I'll be back soon with more recipes!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Dip

This tastes just like pumpkin cheesecake and takes minutes to make. Dip ginger snaps into it for a major crowd-pleasing dessert!

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Dip

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 15-oz. can pumpkin
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves

Mix cream cheese and pumpkin together until well blended. Add powdered sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves. Mix very well. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

Serve with ginger snaps or graham crackers for dipping.



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