Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Chili for Super Bowl Sunday

Super Bowl Sunday is quickly approaching!  Though I am not an NFL fan, I will be watching the game with friends. For me, the Super Bowl is all about the game-viewing party--seeing friends, judging the commercials, and, of course, indulging in some great bar food.  

With the polar vortex still plaguing DC, nothing seems more satisfying for Super Bowl Sunday than a big bowl of chili and all the fixings. Lay out a few bowls of chopped green onions, shredded cheese, avocado, tortilla chips, etc, and let your friends add their own toppings.  I prefer to eat my chili with rice, but this chili is hearty enough that it does not need it.

I know it can be tempting to make chili from a mix, but I promise this version will have a lot more flavor, and it will be ready in about an hour. Instead of placing a bet on the winner of this Sunday's game, I'll make you a different bet; I bet your friends won't believe you made this chili from scratch!  

Turkey Chili

Adapted from Cook's Illustrated
Serves about 6-8 people

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
6 medium cloves of garlic, chopped very finely either by hand or with a garlic press
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2-1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 pounds of 93% lean ground turkey
2 15.5-ounce cans of red kidney beans, rinsed thoroughly
1 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes
1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon table salt
2 limes, cut into wedges

  • Heat oil in a large non-reactive pot over medium heat, until the oil is shimmering but not smoking, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Add in onions, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, pepper flakes, oregano, and cayenne.  Stir the vegetables and spices occasionally, and cook until the vegetables are softened and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.

  • Increase the heat to medium-high and add the turkey.  Break up the pieces of turkey with a wooden spoon, until the turkey is no longer pink and just beginning to brown, about 3 to five minutes.

  • Add the beans, diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, chicken broth, and salt to the pot.  Simmer for about 40 minutes longer, stirring occasionally.  The chili should be darken and thicken while it is simmering.
  • Serve with lime wedges (and any other topping you prefer).

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Lemon Shallot Salad Dressing

Happy Saturday!  I am so excited for the weekend and some much need R&R. This whole week, I have felt one step behind on everything, and my list of errands and job responsibilities kept getting longer, instead of shorter. The snow in D.C. over the past few days also didn't help...it's hard to be motivated when it is 9 degrees outside and all you want to do is escape to a warm, sunny place. 

This lemon shallot salad dressing won't bring you the sunshine or the warm weather, but it is a lovely pick-me-up to add into your repertoire. The salad dressing is perfectly light and refreshing thanks to the fresh lemon juice. Homemade salad dressing takes about two minutes to make, but it really adds flavor to your salad, especially compared to a store-bought dressing.  

This bright lemon dressing is great on lacinato kale, or any other dark leafy green. Add some garbanzo beans and Parmesan cheese, and you have a whole meal! 

Lemon Shallot Salad Dressing

Makes about 1/4 cup of dressing

Juice from 1 lemon
1 shallot, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
Fresh black pepper
1/2 teaspoon of salt

  1. Put all of your ingredients into a small food processor or blender.  Blend for about 30 seconds, or until well incorporated.
  2. Use right away, and store leftovers in the fridge.  The salad dressing should keep for about a week.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Kitchen Essentials: Power Players

With approximately five inches of snow on the ground, and temperatures under 30 degrees all week, there is little chance that I will be heading to a grocery store anytime soon. I would much rather stay inside, under my covers, than face the brutal winds outside, the empty shelves at the grocery stores, and the cold walk home with my groceries. There are so many things I love about living in DC--the museums, restaurants, people--but shopping for groceries in the city is not one of them.  

On days like this, I rely on select ingredients that I always try to have on hand. These kitchen essentials keep (relatively) well and can be used in multiple ways to pull together quite a few dishes. These kitchen power players do not represent an exhaustive list of kitchen essentials. I need more vegetables and spices in my life!  Rather, when my pantry is empty, and I need to quickly buy groceries for the week, these are my go-to ingredients. With these power players on hand, I can easily put together a quick meal. And on snow days, it means I have plenty of food at home so I can stay curled up in bed a little bit longer and dream of California and warm sunshine.

Kitchen Essentials: Power Players

  • Cupboard:
    • Bread
    • Canned tuna
    • Dark chocolate (totally essential, right?)
    • Dijon mustard
    • Garbanzo beans
    • Olive oil
    • Pasta
    • Peanut Butter
    • Pepper mill with black peppercorns
    • Red wine vinegar
    • Salt
  • Fridge:
    • Butter
    • Eggs
    • Parmesan Cheese
  • Produce:
    • Apples
    • Bananas
    • Dark leafy greens
    • Garlic
    • Lemons
    • Onions
  • Freezer:
    • Chicken sausage 

Sample meals

To give you a sense of how easy it is to use these ingredients, below are some sample meals derived from this shopping list.

Italian inspired salad--leafy greens, garbanzo beans, parmesan cheese, red wine vinegar, olive oil, black pepper

Protein packed salad--leafy greens, chicken sausage, dijon mustard, olive oil, salt, black pepper

Cafe salad--leafy greens, apples, onions, parmesan cheese, black pepper, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, black pepper

Garlic tuna salad--tuna, garlic, black pepper, dijon mustard, bread or leafy greens

Lemony tuna salad--tuna, lemon, black pepper, dijon mustard, bread or leafy greens

Tuna melt--tuna, lemon, black pepper, dijon mustard, onions, bread, butter

Chicken sausage sandwich--chicken sausage, onions, parmesan cheese, bread, butter

Egg scramble--eggs, parmesan cheese, butter, onions

Egg salad--eggs, dijon mustard, salt, black pepper, bread or leafy greens

Peanut butter toast--bananas, bread, peanut butter

Sautéed garbanzo beans--garbanzo beans, garlic, onions, olive oil, black pepper, salt

Marinated garbanzo beans--garbanzo beans, garlic, lemon, salt, black pepper, olive oil 

Grilled sausage--chicken sausage, onions

Lemon pasta--pasta, lemon, olive oil, parmesan cheese, garbanzo beans, garlic, salt, black pepper

Cacio e pepe--pasta, butter, parmesan cheese, black pepper, salt

Eggs in pasta--pasta, eggs, parmesan cheese, butter, black pepper, salt
Meaty pasta--pasta, chicken sausage, parmesan cheese, onion, butter

Afternoon snack--peanut butter, apples

Afternoon snack 2--apples, parmesan cheese

Hummus--garbanzo beans, olive oil, garlic, salt, black pepper

Roasted chickpeas--garbanzo beans, olive oil, salt, black pepper

Enjoy the week cozying up with family and friends!  Stay tuned for more kitchen essentials this week.  

Friday, January 17, 2014

Back to Basics: Chicken Soup

Chicken soup is one of the most important "need to know" recipes.  Whether you are sick or you simply want a bowl of delicious soup that instantly reminds you of home, this soup fits the bill.

Simply dump all the ingredients into a pot, and then let it sit on the stove for 3-4 hours.  Yes, it does take a while to make, but your patience is well worth it.

When it's cold out, and you're not leaving the house anyway, why not throw this on the stove?  It's a perfect winter lazy day recipe.

Chicken Soup
Makes about 6-8 servings

1 5-6 lb chicken (I used two 3 lb chickens)
1 1/2 onions, peeled and cut in half
4 carrots, washed
6 stalks of celery, including leaves (feel free to trim an inch or two off the bottom though)
15 springs of parsley
7 sprigs of dill
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
  1. Rinse both the inside and the outside of the chicken with cold water.  Pat thoroughly with a paper towel to dry.
  2. Place chicken in a large stockpot.  Then add the onions, carrots, celery, parsley, dill, salt, and pepper.
  3. Fill the rest of the pot with filtered water.
  4. Bring the pot to a boil, and then let it simmer for one hour. 
  5. After one hour, remove the chicken from the pot.  Let the chicken cool slightly.  Remove the breast meat from the chicken, using a knife or kitchen scissors.  Set the breast meat in the fridge, and then return the rest of the chicken to the pot.
  6. Let the soup simmer, uncovered, for three more hours.  
  7. Remove the soup from the heat. Strain the soup through a fine mesh strainer.  Take the leftover vegetables (onions, carrots, and celery) and dice them,  Add the vegetables back to the broth.  
  8. Cover the broth, and let it chill in the fridge.  The fat will separate from the broth.  Use a spoon to remove any fat that rises to the surface.
  9. Shred leftover chicken breast from step 5 using either your hands or a fork.  Add the breast meat back to the soup.
  10. To serve, simply heat the broth again on the stove.  If you prefer, you can add in fresh parsley and dill.   

Monday, January 13, 2014

Tea Time and Chocolate Chip Scones

At the age of six, I fell in love with tea parties.  For my sixth birthday party, my family surprised me with a "tea" party.  There were crust-less sandwiches, flouncy dresses, and tea cups filled with...lemonade.  Two years later, I was celebrating my birthday again, but this time with real tea, and my father dressed up as a butler.  And fittingly enough, I spent my 10th birthday in London at a tea dance. A big brass band, the Waldorf Hotel, and a high tea?  Clearly, my birthdays peaked at age 10.

Nowadays, I still love the tradition of tea time.  Tea time is always four o'clock in the afternoon.  And you should always serve tea with something delicious, like these scones. 

These chocolate chip scones epitomize the exact type of recipes I want to showcase on this blog.  These scones are ready to eat in under 20 minutes, require no backing skills, and can be personalized however you choose.  Thrown in some currants instead of chocolate chips, or candied ginger, or chopped up toasted almonds!  The options really are endless.

Now go make these scones, and watch an episode of Downton Abbey.

Cream Scones

from the Wall Street Journal
makes about 20 scones

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar, plus 2-3 tablespoons for sprinkling
1 1/3 cup chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream, cold
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Over a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and 1/3 cup sugar.  
  3. Add heavy cream to bowl and use an electric mixer to blend on low until ingredients are just combined.
  4. Stir in chocolate chips.
  5. Dump dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead very briefly.  Roll dough out to a 1-inch thickness.  You can use a 1 or 1 1/2 inch cookie or biscuit cutter to cut out scones.  I rolled the dough into a 1 inch thickness, and then cut out triangles.  
  6. Place scones about 1 inch apart on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.  Reroll dough scraps and repeat process until all dough has been used.  
  7. Use a pastry brush to paint tops of scones with melted butter, then sprinkle with sugar.  Place baking sheet in center of oven and bake until scones are golden, 12-15 minutes. 
  8. Let scones cool on a baking rack.  Serve room or at room temperature.  
  9. Scones can be stored in an airtight container up to 24 hours, or in the freezer up to 12 weeks.

Monday, January 6, 2014

City Restaurant Guides

I will be honest--I have not cooked at all in the past week! I celebrated New Years in Los Angeles with friends from college, then spent a few days in San Francisco visiting my boyfriend. We ate at a lot of great restaurants, and I couldn't help but share some of them with you.

Head on over to my Pinterest page for my favorite San Francisco and Washington restaurants. I will be adding more locations throughout the next year, so stay tuned!  


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