His and Hers...stories about our food

(Kinda) Homemade Creamy Tomato Soup
My obession with soup started long ago.  I have to admit it started with condensed canned soup, but as my palate developed so did the dream to one day make great soup (not condensed).  'Soup Sunday' is a White House family tradition.  It typically begins in the fall and then wraps itself up at the end of spring.  Well, Fall is here, even if it was still 100 degrees.  BUT it is officially fall and the soup making has begun.  While I believe soup needs time to develop flavor through low heat and time, I sometimes can't wait for that.  Here is a creamy tomato soup that is easy, fast and delicious.  I apolgozie in advance for the lack of accurate measurements.  If this makes you nervous, let it go!  Trust what you think taste good and go for it.  Taste as you go (just double, triple, quadruple dip) and add whatever you want.  This is your soup.

Kinda Homemade Creamy Tomato Soup
1 cup (or more) of your favorite jarred marinara (tomato basil, tomato vodka sauce, plain marinara...whatever you like)
1/2 cup of white wine
1/3 cup of cream or whole milk
a few sprigs of fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary or basil...whatever you have and like)

1.  In a saucepan, combine all ingredients, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
2.  Taste and add whatever you think is missing.
3.  Eat with a crusty piece of bread, put on your comfies and relax.

Rosy Chicken
Summer is quickly slipping away.  While I have made peace with the 2011 Texas summer and am ready to bid it adieu, I am excited about this summer dinner game plan.  Thanks again to Food52 and their genius.

Rosy Chicken and Couscous with Zucchini, Lemon and Ricotta Salata

Katherine's Plate
Working nights has it's downside: not eating dinner with my family.  Katherine turned the Big 1 last week, and since she is a toddler, it is our goal to eat dinner together every night.  Since Monday-Wednesday evenings I'm out educating and enlightening I have been prepping Katherine's dinner plate before I leave.  What a big dinner this little girl gets!

Organic Beef and Thyme Meatballs
Organic Tomato and Thyme Sauce
Organic Greeen Beans
Penne Pasta

Bon appetit little lady!

Chicken Salad with Whole Grain Mustard and Thyme
Why is it that when chicken salad is made, the main component, besides chicken is mayonnaise?  In efforts to create a light and delicate dish (that unfortunately is traditionally heavy and sticky) I have taken out the mayonnaise and replaced it with whole grain mustard (and a few other surprises).  For the past three weeks, this has become a daily White House lunch.  We can't get enough.

Chicken Salad with Whole Grain Mustard and Thyme
one rotisserie chicken, cubed
1/2 of a red onion, diced
1 tablespoon of fresh thyme
pine nuts, toasted
2-3 tablespoons of whole grain mustard (depends on how much meat comes off the chicken)
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon of  white balsamic vinegar (regular balsamic would also do)
2 teaspoons of red wine vinegar
salt to taste
*sundried tomatoes optional*

1.  combine all dry ingredients in a bowl, pour vinegar and oil over the salad, mix together, taste and salt to your liking.

Cilantro and Lime Garlic Butter
Randy and I split nighttime baby responsibility.  Around 7 pm he bathes her and then I feed her.  Typically I am working on dinner during the bath and Randy finishes dinner while I feed her.  This past weekend we decided to grill out (yay 4th of July!) and as usual I prepped while he fulfilled his baby duty.
Our menu consisted of steak, corn on the cob, absurdly addictive asparagus and french bread. 
While I was prepping dinner I had an idea. 
"I want to spice things up tonight..." 
Besides the other items I was chopping and sauteing, I also pulled the butter out of the fridge, chopped up cilantro and garlic and set a lime on the cutting board.  I had completed my dinner tasks and didn't really bother to brief Randy on the meal at hand.  Off I went to give the little lady a bottle...
Once Katherine was tucked in, Randy and I began to go over our dinner plan of attack.  I could hardly contain my excitement for our dinner but for my butter idea.

"So I was thinking we should make some butter with cilantro and lime juice."
"Done did it."

I felt like I was on Top Chef and just successfully completed a Quickfire Challenge.

Cilantro Lime Butter
*serves two*

two tablespoons of butter, softened
one tablespoon of chopped cilantro
one teaspoon of fresh garlic minced
splash of fresh lime (or lemon) juice
pinch of salt

1.  bring the butter to room temperature
2.  chop the cilantro and mince the garlic
3.  in a small bowl mix the cilantro, garlic and lime juice into the butter
4.  salt to taste
5. put the butter back into the fridge to set and bring back out when you're ready to eat!

I know...it's a lemon, not a lime


Couscous with Caramalized Onions, Red Peppers and Goat Cheese
Due to a rotting head of cabbage I was forced to be creative in my kitchen this weekend.  For a few moments after taking a sniff of the molded vegetable I was frightened to think that I would have to travel to the grocery store Friday night at 5 pm (gak). What was I going to serve alongside my pork chops with mustard cream sauce since the cauliflower was now not an option?  Scanning my pantry I come up with a dish...couscous, red peppers, onion, goat cheese and balsamic vinegar. 

Yes...I can make this work.

Couscous with Roasted Red Peppers, Caramelized Onions and Goat Cheese
3 red peppers
1 medium onion, sliced
3/4 cups of couscous
3 oz of goat cheese
1 cup of chicken broth
3 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar
extra virgin olive oil

1. turn the oven to 400 degrees
2.  slice the red peppers and pull out the seeds
3.  place the peppers on a baking sheet and coat with olive oil and salt
4. roast the peppers for 30-35 minutes
5. meanwhile coat a skillet with extra virgin olive oil and bring to medium heat
6.  add the slice onions and salt, let them cook for about twenty minutes, or until caramelized
7.  bring the chicken stock to a boil and pour in the couscous, cover and let sit for ten minutes
8.  when peppers are roasted, let them cool, and then dice
9.  combine caramelized onions, red peppers, goat cheese and balsamic vinegar to the couscous.
10.  taste, salt and enjoy!
pork chops with mustard cream sauce

Chicken Tortilla Soup
Blerg!  After spending a good 35 minutes on what I thought was to be a well written, soup intriguing post I somehow, just somehow removed it without it saving.  With that, this is going to be short and sweet.
I love soup.  I love chicken tortilla soup and you should too.  I've worked on this recipe for about a year and think it's close to being where I want it to.  The only improvement I would like to make is using fresh ingredients (not canned) and homemade chicken stock.  Enjoy!

Chicken Tortilla Soup
1/2 a medium onion diced
four large garlic cloves minced
1/2 serrano or jalepeno pepper
1 can of hatch green chilies (hot or mild)
1 can of unsalted diced tomatoes
1 can of creamed corn (this gives the soup a magic touch)
2 cups of shredded rotisserie chicken or 1 large can of chicken
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne
1 1/4 tablespoon of cumin
kosher salt
extra virgin olive oil

1.  coat a medium sized pot with olive oil and bring to medium heat
2.  salt and saute onions, garlic and peppers for 10 minutes
3.  add chilies, cayenne and cumin for 3 minutes
4.  added the corn, tomatoes, chicken and chicken broth (salt)
5.  bring to a boil and then reduce for 20-30 minutes
6.  top with sour cream, cheese, and avocado
7.  serve with a bag of tortilla chips and dig in

*very easy to double the recipe and it makes for delicious leftovers*

Frozen Dinner
I always keep some type of frozen meat on hand in case I run into the type of situation I have encountered today:
 long weekend away from home + no meal planning on Sunday + no grocery trip on Monday = no dinner to eat on Monday.
Alas, if there is frozen meat in the freezer I am saved and my family won't starve.
This pork recipe is another one of my go-to dishes that I know I'll always have the ingredients on hand.

Thyme and Red Pepper Pork
four pork chops
dried thyme (or fresh)
dried red pepper flakes
2 (or more) cloves of garlic minced
olive oil
juice of one lemon

1. Coat the pork chops in olive oil
2.  liberally season with salt, thyme and garlic and then rub the flavors into the meat (on both sides)
3.  sprinkle red pepper (on both sides)
4.  pour the lemon juice over the meat
5.  let the meat marinate for about an hour (more or less) in the fridge
6.  heat an oven to 375 degrees
7.  heat a skillet on medium high heat with olive oil and a little butter
8.  sear each side of the pork for 1 1/2 minutes
9.  transfer the skillet to the oven and cook for about 8 minutes (more or less depending on the thickness of the pork chop)
Now, if you're feeling creative and have on hand some white wine, garlic and shallots (or onion) try this:
1.  take the pork out, place on a plate and cover
2.   put the skillet on a burner over medium heat with one tablespoon of butter
3. throw in the minced shallots and garlic cook for about one minute (don't let them burn!)
4.  pour in the white wine and scrap up the bits
5.  let it simmer for a few minutes, until it thickens
6.  taste, salt and serve over the pork

My only issue now is what to make for the sides if I have nothing else in my pantry?  Tonight, I have frozen broccoli...lets see what recipes I can find.  Thanks, internet.


Slow Cooker Green Curry Chicken and Asian Coleslaw
Randy and I do not claim to be very knowledgeable on Asian cuisine.  It's something we are eating more of, therefore we are cooking more of it.  For over a month we have dabbled in green curry chicken.  This recipe is of course evolving, but it is tasty and easy in its current state.  Try it!

Slow Cooker Green Curry Chicken
three boneless chicken breasts
1-1 1/2 tablespoons of green curry paste
2 cups chicken stock
3/4 a can of coconut milk
frozen peas
cilantro (optional topping)

1.  Combine all the ingredients in your slowcooker and cook on high for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
2.  Dice the chicken and put in individual bowls, sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

Asian Coleslaw
1/2 head of green cabbage (thinly sliced)
1/2 head of red cabbage (thinly sliced)
1 small onion diced
*1 carrot thinly sliced*
4-5 tablespoons of sesame oil
2-3 tablespoon of rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoon soy sauce
1 (heaping) tablespoon of  freshly minced ginger (powder ginger would be fine, just adjust the measurement)
1/2 to 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise
juice of one lemon (or two limes)

1.  Cut the veggies according to recipe and combine in one large bowl (that has a tight lid)
2.  combine dressing ingredients and whisk to combine, taste and then adjust to your liking
3.  pour dressing on top of veggie mixture, secure bowl with lid and shake, shake shake.
4.  let coleslaw relax in the fridge for at least an hour.

Cooking Him a Snack Depicted by Pictures

Many thanks to a little bird, a little Westie and Mumford and Sons for the cooking soundtrack.

Universal Sauces
I would be remiss if I did not share with you what Randy and I have been applying to our food recently.  Two universal sauces: 
1.  parsley-shallot sauce
2. paprika-garlic butter
These two sauces are neither difficult or costly.  They are easy, delicious and have the power to make your food sound fancy.  Oh la-la.

Parsley-Shallot Sauce
(Ellie Krieger, Food Network)

1 1/2 cups lightly packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped shallot
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree.
Yield: 1/2 cup

Paprika-Garlic Butter
(Food and Wine Magazine)

6 tablespoons of unsalted butter
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 1/2 teaspoon of paprika
2 tables spoons of fresh lemon juice
kosher salt

In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Add the garlic and cook over low heat, stirring, until golden, about 3 minutes. Add the paprika and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove from the heat, stir in the lemon juice and season with salt; keep warm

What to do with these sauces?  There is so much!
Parlsey-Shallot Sauce
fry some eggs with the sauce
braise chicken or pork chops and top with the sauce
bake fish and use as a dipping condiment
buy a rotisserie chicken, pull the meat off and drizzle the sauce on top

Paprika Garlic Butter
broil a skirt steak and drown the meat in the sauce
cook eggs in the butter
mash potatoes with the butter and cream
cook shrimp or scallops (or both!) and use as a dipping condiment
buy a rotisserie chicken, pull the meat off and drizzle the sauce on top

Be creative and eat to your heart is happy and singing!

*if you plan on using it throughout the week double the portions so you will have plenty*

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner
To make a long story short, we've been eating a lot of chicken.  My resurrected chicken obsession apparently goes right along side the Food and Wine 2011 food trend alerts.  Apparently, I'm food trendy.  Here are some of the chicken recipes we have recently made.  We think they are tasty and delicious.

The Very Versatile Orzo Salad
A few years ago I was introduced to orzo.  I was having dinner with my sister and she had this lemony cheesy pasta salad.  I couldn't get enough.  Well, I forgot about it.  It took a second dinner with this salad for me to be reminded of it's goodness.  Upon receiving the recipe I lost it, but the basic idea was stored in my mental recipe folder. 
This salad is very fluid.  What I mean by that is it's always changing.  The foundations are there but I throw in whatever veggie is in season or whatever veggies (or cheese) I have in my pantry. 
Try it and add what sounds good to you.

The Very Versatile Orzo Salad
1/2 box of orzo pasta
8 cups of chicken stock (homemade is best, but if that's not your thing Swanson's is just fine)
juice of one to two lemons
Parmesan cheese (as much as you please)
olive oil

*additional ingredients if you choose *
one pint of cherry tomatoes (halved)
one bunch of asparagus (1/2 inch pieces and blanched)
one pint of cherry tomatoes (halved)
8 oz of mozzarella cheese (instead of the Parmesan or even with the Parmesan!)
saffron (expensive yet well worth it )

1.  bring the chicken stock to a boil
2.  add the orzo and cook to the desire texture (I don't like al dente for orzo, so I cook it longer than the box instructs)
3.  meanwhile shred the Parmesan and half the lemons
4.  drain the orzo and place in a medium sized bowl
5.  throw in the cheese and add the fresh lemon juice
6.  stir in the olive oil and salt to taste

*additional ingredients and steps*
a. while the orzo is cooking halve the tomatoes and cut the asparagus into 1/2 inch pieces
b. bring a small pot of water to a boil and add the asparagus
c.  cook asparagus for two minutes and then blanch in a bath of ice cold water
d.  add the tomatoes and asparagus to the bowl of orzo at step number 5
a. while the orzo is cooking halve the tomatoes, cut the basil and dice the mozzarella into bite sized pieces
b.  add the additional ingredients to the bowl of orzo at step number 5
a.  while you bring the chicken stock to a boil, add  the saffron and let it cook with pasta

Turkey Corn Chili
*please take note-- my spell checker isn't working and that means there will be typos....reader beware*

Here at the White House we have a handful of recipes that are "go-tos." By "go-tos" I'm referring to the meals that make us happy quickly and easily. Dear reader, I hope you too have at least one such dinner. It is a dinner that's not gourmet and you can go to the grocery store without a list and pick up all required ingredients. 
It is with regret that I tell you that one of my all-time satisfying dishes is a play off of a Rachel Ray chili. I apologize if you are a fan, but Ms. Ray's approach to food goes against what I believe and love about cooking. Since that is a separate post on its own,
I will move on...
The Turkey Corn Chili has become so innate that I can simply look at the pot of simmering goodness and if the color is off or even the texture looks funny I know that it's not right. For some reason, this brings me satisfation.

About two years into cooking this dish Randy has two ideas for the chili. "We should add black beans."

"No. I don't want beans in my chili."

"Come on, it'll be good."

"What if I put black beans in the chili and then I don't like it? Then, I won't want to eat it and then I'll be mad."

His first idea finally won out. About a year ago, while I was pregnant, I succombed to the black beans. He was right, it was a great touch. Don't worry, I don't always add black beans. It's only if I want to make the chili heartier or if I want to get more servings out of the pot.

I still refuse his second idea. "We should add green beans."

"No. No. No green beans."

I am still resistant to the idea, he doesn't mention it vthat much any more. Maybe he realizes it would be gross.

Feel free to add the green beans if you would like, I'm only adding black beans.

Turkey Corn Chili 
ground turkey (the original recipe calls for left over turkey meat from Thanksgiving...I don't do that because I prefer a cold turkey sandwich)
one medium onion, diced
one green pepper, diced (sometimes I add two green peppers, because I love green peppers)
one serrano pepper, diced (again, if you like a lot of heat, use a serrano, if you don't use a jalepeno and take out the stem and seeds)
one 16 oz bag of frozen corn
one can of chicken stock
28 oz can of crushed tomotoes
extra virgin olive oil
2 tblsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tblsp chili powder
2 bay leaves
lime (to top)
sour cream (to top)
shredded cheese (to top)
optional- chips (use to dip into your chili like I do OR to pour the chili on top of like Randy does)
optional- rice (when I'm feeling healthy, I'll use brown rice to pour into our bowls with the chili)

1. dice the onion, green pepper and serrano- toss into a pan coated with extra virgin olive oil (salt!)
2. saute veggies for about 10 minutes
3. add ground turkey with a good amount of salt, bay leaves, 2 tbls of cumin, 1 tbls chili powder and 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne, cook thru about 10 minutes.
4. pour in the tomato puree, chicken stock and corn (black beans too if using them...or green beans??) into the mixture
5. let it heat thru, taste and adjust all seasonings- I normally add more of cumin and salt...cayenne if I'm feeling sassy
6.  bring it to a simmer from 30 minutes to one hour...or more (the longer it simmers, the more flavor you'll get)
7. pour into warmed bowls, spritz with lime juice, sprinkle with cheese and cover with sour cream

*best eaten on the couch watching tv, in sweats and with someone you love*

A pot of chili, simmering for our dear friends Kyle and Heidi Cumbie who just had their second daughter, Hayden.

Need a salsa recipe?  White Salsa is an extension of Randy's mom's (Dolores) infamous "Five Minute Salsa."  Ours takes a little longer than five minutes, but we can't get enough of it. 
Take note and please be patient with me.  I don't measure ingredients.  Home cooking is about flavoring to your liking.  I'll try to estimate but ultimately it's your decision on how much to use.

White Salsa
one can of original rotel (drained*)
one can of unsalted diced tomatoes (drained*)
two fresh tomatoes quartered
quarter of a medium sized onion
one clove of garlic (if you like it extra garlicky, use more)
one serrano (or jalapeno- depends on how hot you like it- which has less heat) pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
7. one bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped
8.  juice of one lime
9. 1 tbsp (more or less) of cumin
10.  1/2 tsp of cayenne (again, depends on how spicy you want it.  if you don't like heat, don't add it)
11. 1 tsp (or more) of salt (sometimes this depends on how salty your chips are)

1.  put it all in a food processor and pulse to your liking
2.  get chips and start dipping
*Very important!  If you don't drain the salsa ends up looking like soup.  Gak.*

D's Five Minute Salsa
one can of original rotel
one can of diced tomatoes
little bit of minced garlic
little bit of salt

1.  puree in a blender (or food processor)
2.  get chips and start dipping

Corn Risotto
Thanks to Top Chef and Anthony Bourdain I have a better understanding of what risotto should look and taste like.  I was pleased with my previous recipe experiment, however during the first risotto trial, Randy kept looking at the risotto and then to me. 
"This doesn't look and feel like it's the right consistency," he kept saying.

Hmpf. Well, maybe he should make it.  "Alright.  What do you think it should be like."

"I don't know, but not this.  It tastes good, but something isn't right."

A few days later, while watching the Italian Challenge of Top Chef, Trey (the one from Dallas) made a risotto. He failed to impress (this didn't bother me, because I was cheering on Fabio). Guest judge and food favorite around the White House, Anthony Bourdain, explained how the risotto shouldn't stand up on its own and that it should flatten out when placed on a plate.  So Randy was vindicated.  Something was wrong with my risotto.

Once again I got out the arborio rice, the chicken stock and chardonnay...off I go to experiment...ta-da, there was great improvement. 
1.  I cooked it at a lower stovetop heat than before (more medium than medium high)
2.  added the ladle of stock a little bit before all of the liquid was absorbed
3.  used more liquid than the recipe required (probably close to eight cups of stock)
4.  kept the rice moving more
5.  right before serving, I added more stock and gave it a quick stir

I don't know if this is an accurate way to cook risotto, but the texture and consistency was better.
  Overall, I'm still not satisfied with it.  I plan on researching and cooking it a few more times to conquer my very own Italian Challenge.
Part II: Corn and Sage Risotto, the Saga Continues

Porcini Rubbed Chicken...yes, please

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