Pastina Soup

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For a long time, I was a staunch believer that a soup is not a meal.

But as a lot of my food obsessions go, out of no where I was craving soup one day. So I had some. And then I had some more. The bf didn’t complain when we had lots of soup for dinner, even during sweltering summer, since he had been a soup-lover in a food desert since our relationship started.

So I have made broccoli and cheese, french onion, gumbo, and more. This pastina soup is a soup my bf has talked about in great awe as a food from his family. I was lucky enough to get to travel up and try the soup, and I was hooked in its simplicity. It is an Italian style chicken noodle soup. Made from scratch, it is a perfect dinner as a chill starts to come in the air.

PASTINA SOUP

INGREDIENTS

For the Chicken Stock:
Water
1 whole chicken*
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped

For the Pastina Soup:
1/2 onion
1 carrot
2 celery stalks
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 cup pastina or other small pasta
Chicken from stock, chopped
Parmesan cheese, grated

DIRECTIONS

For the Chicken Stock:

Place chicken in a large pot and cover with water. Put on low heat (the water should bubble occasionally and produce steam only). Cook for at least 2 hours, up to 6 hours. Add carrots, celery, and onion and cook for another 2 hours. Strain stock into large bowl.

For the Pastina Soup:

Grate onion, carrot, and celery. Heat olive oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot, and celery stalks. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 2-4 minutes. Stir in stock and bring to a boil. Stir in pastina and cook for 4-6 minutes, until pasta is al dente. Add chicken and season with salt and pepper (will need a significant amount since stock is unseasoned, make sure to taste). Cook until chicken is warmed through. Serve and top with grated parmesan cheese.

From Cinnamon Freud

*You can use any combo of chicken or reserved chicken bones for the stock. I have done this with a whole chicken, with wing tips mixed with old bones, and more. Just make sure to have chicken to put in the soup! Same thing with the veggies, you can use scraps of veggies that you have saved too and can add in other veggies and herbs.

Homemade Pita Bread

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One of the great parts of living near a metropolitan city is the lots of different types of cuisine. Over Labor Day weekend, I went to a Greek festival and chowed down on a lot of good Greek food. The most important component of Greek food for me is the pita. Great pita bread can make a gyro, and bad pita bread will ruin one.

I wanted to be able to recreate good Greek food in my own home, and since I already had the gyro meat and tzatziki ready, I just needed the pita bread. Now I have had a lot of trouble (and some success) with making homemade bread, so I wanted to find a recipe from someone who I trusted would not lead me astray in a yeast-mess.

And here we go! I have made this pita bread several times, and it works. So go forth and have DIY Greek food in your own home!

PITA BREAD

INGREDIENTS

1 cup water
2 teaspoons dry active yeast
One pinch granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
Olive oil, for frying

DIRECTIONS

Heat water to 110 degrees in a large bowl and stir in yeast and a pinch of sugar. Let sit for 5-10 minutes until foamy and dissolved. Stir in flour, salt, and olive oil. Knead dough on a well floured surface for 5 minutes, until smooth and elastic.

Coat a bowl with oil and place dough in bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm place. Let rise for 1 hour until doubled in size.

Divide the dough into 8 pieces and keep covered with towel when not working with them. Heat a large skillet over high heat. Coat pan with olive oil. Roll out dough to an 8 inch circle. Place in hot pan and cook for approximately 30 seconds to one minute per side until it begins to bible and brown. Keep wrapped in towel to keep warm while making the remaining pita bread.

Serve immediately.

Barely Adapted from Half Baked Harvest

August Top 5

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  1. Work starts Thursday, and I am ready to get started. A month of vacation and work-free days (9 to 5 workdays at least, curse you dissertation) was great, but there is definitely such a thing as having too much free time all at once. Just have to break the news to the pup now…
  2. DIY was big for me this month. One of my new year’s resolutions was to make more of our food from scratch, and I have been doing just that. So far we are using homemade BBQ sauce, enchilada sauce, croissants, bread*, ranch dressing, and granola bars.
  3. Exploring St. Louis has been fun and delicious this month.
  4. Free HBO Go has been a lifesaver being home alone all month. So much binge watching.
  5. Young adult books are another godsend for quick, easy, and enjoyable reading. An Ember in the Ashes was my particular favorite this past month.
  6. Bonus: My mom can up to the Lou (is that how you spell it?) aka STL for a few days to have fun with me before I start work.

*mostly. sometimes a loaf of french bread just speaks to me at the grocery store.  And sometimes my homemade bread just does rise right!

Corn and Rice Stuffed Peppers

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Let this be known as the summer that I went corn crazy.

I have always loved fresh corn off the cob, but the corn here in the midwest tastes so much fresher and sweeter than my corn from Texas that I can’t help but make dinner after dinner with corn. Originally, these stuffed peppers came out of necessity when I was cleaning out the fridge and pantry before we moved here, and they turned out to be better than I even expected and have been repeated multiple times.

These area  great vegetarian main dish for dinner, and serve as great leftovers for lunch the next day. And they keep my cravings for corn temporarily at bay. So this dish is a winner all around.

CORN AND RICE STUFFED PEPPERS

INGREDIENTS

4-5 poblano peppers
Salt and pepper
1 cup dried brown rice
1 tablespoon butter
4 green onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2-3 ears of corn
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup and 3 tablespoons grated parmesan

DIRECTIONS

Heat grill to medium-high heat. Place poblano peppers on grill and cook until blackened and charred, about 4-5 minutes per side. Place poblanos immediately into a ziploc bag and seal. Let sit for 20-30 minutes. Remove peppers and peel skin off. Make a cut into on side of the pepper length wise. Remove seeds and membranes. Set aside.

Preheat broiler.

Cook rice according to instructions. Heat butter in a large skillet. Sauté green onions and garlic over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in rice and corn. Stir in 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper. Spoon filling into peppers. Place in baking pan.

Stir bread crumbs, salt, pepper, and 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan. Sprinkle bread crumbs on top and brush with olive oil. Put into oven for 5 minutes (watch carefully so it does not burn).

Recipe from Cinnamon Freud.

Corn and Jalapeno Pizza

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Pizza, both in regular form and quesadilla form, have become a staple around here for dinner. N (the bf) is pizza-obsessed, and would be content eating cheese or pepperoni pizza two to three times a week.

Now I thought I was an avowed pizza-lover, but I am not coming close to him. Although he has insulted my pizza sauce (the sauce my mother makes mind you!), I try to work in pizza every-so-often for dinner to keep his pizza cravings met. Where we get in to trouble is his traditionalist vs. my funky toppings view. This pizza recipe is where N and I meet in the middle. It is not your typical pizza with tomato sauce and cheese, but it’s nothing crazy like blue cheese or pineapple.

This pizza is perfect to make during the summer with fresh sweet corn, but frozen corn can work as well. It’s a good mix of cool and sweet from the corn and cheese and spicy from the jalapeños and pepper flakes. Grill it up or bake it in the oven, just make sure you make it!

CORN AND JALAPENO PIZZA
From Cinnamon Freud (dough recipe from my mom)

INGREDIENTS

For the dough:
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast (1 package)
1 cup warm water
Pinch of sugar
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
Pinch of salt

For the pizza:
Cornmeal
2 cobs of corn, corn sliced off the cob
4 green onions, sliced
1 jalapeño, minced
4 to 6 ounces mozzarella, sliced or shredded
Red pepper flakes
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS

For the Dough:

In a bowl combine warm water, yeast, and sugar. Let sit for 10 minutes, until yeast begins to foam. Combine yeast mixture, flour, olive oil, and salt. Stir with a wooden spoon. Transfer dough to a floured surface. Knead for 5-10 minutes until dough is elastic.

Coat bowl with oil. Place dough in bowl. Covers and keep in a warm place until dough doubles in size, about 30 to 45 minutes.

For the Pizza:

Preheat one as high as it will go (around 450-500 degrees). Warm pizza stone, if using. Roll out dough to size of pan. Sprinkle pan with cornmeal and transfer dough to pan.

Spread olive oil on crust with brush. Top pizza with corn, green onions, jalapeño, and mozzarella. Season with salt and pepper. Bake until pizza crust is browned and cheese is melted, about 10 minutes (Depending on temperature of oven). Sprinkle red pepper flakes on top. Slice and serve.

 

July Top 5

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  1. Although I feared for the maintenance of our sanity at times, we made the move from Lubbock to the St. Louis area. And Quincy didn’t get car sick once!
  2. I have had the month off (+ next month) with the lull in between grad school commitments wrapping up and internship starting, so I have been able to have some fun exploring our new area and cooking more.
  3. CORN CORN CORN CORN.
  4. We got free HBO trial with our new cable package, so I actually got to catch up on Game of Thrones within a reasonable time of not getting many spoilers.
  5. This is no top moment necessarily, but I feel the need to be honest. I attempted to roast a chicken for the first time. Disaster. Under-cooked chicken, baked it upside down, and had no idea how to carve it. Was able to save the caracas for chicken stock though.

Feta Dip

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Dips are just the best. A dinner of dip(s) a great, easy (and usually oven-less) summer dinner, and that is exactly what I did with this feta dip. I had eaten some feta dip at a get together a few weeks ago, and ever since I have been hell-bent on re-creating it at home.

This dip was particularly great outside on a hot day with a margarita. A highly recommended combination. Or any dip with a margarita.

If you will now excuse me, I have a whole bowl of it in the fridge just calling my name for dinner. And it’s all for me since I am the only feta-lover in this household.

FETA DIP

INGREDIENTS

4-6 cloves of garlic, minced
4 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces feta cheese, room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2-3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup chopped chives
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Cayenne pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS

Heat olive oil in small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Set aside and let cool.

In a bowl, break up feta cheese into small pieces (you can also use a food processor as well). Mix in cream cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise until combined. Stir in garlic olive oil, chives, lemon juice, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Adjust seasoning to taste. Let sit in fridge at least 1 hour, preferably overnight to let the flavors develop. Serve chilled or at room temperature with Pita chips or vegetables.

Recipe from Cinnamon Freud.

Pizza Quesadilla

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There have been multiple reasons for my radio silence for the past few months (!?). I was eating out more often, was busier with work, got a puppy that demands 99.9% of my attention at all times, and while I was still cooking, it was nothing that I considered “blog worthy.”

So, my cooking has changed. I still like to cook from scratch as much as I can (cheaper and healthier!), but I am definitely into faster meals now, and I am really into cheese in my meals even more so than before. So that’s where this pizza quesadilla comes in. The picture ain’t a beauty, and that’s because I snapped it with my iPhone in my horribly lit kitchen on my ugly countertop (before I burnt the countertop though at least), but this is a genius idea.

Pizza quesadillas are more quesadilla than pizza, but it is great. I find it more filing than the typical quesadilla fare, but still super simple to make!

Pizza Quesadilla
Barely adapted from Buzzfeed

Ingredients

2 tortillas
Tomato sauce
Mozzarella cheese, shredded
Additional toppings as desired (onion, pepperoni, peppers, sausage, olives, etc.)
Oil

Directions

Preheat broiler.

Heat a pan over medium-high heat. Spread on tortilla one lightly with tomato sauce and sprinkle mozzarella on top. Add any other desired ingredients. Coat pan lightly with oil and place tortilla in pan. Place another tortilla on top and press.

Cook until tortilla is lightly brown, about 5 minutes, and carefully flip the tortilla. Cook for 5 additional minutes, or until other side is golden brown. Transfer quesadilla to a baking sheet. Lightly spread tomato sauce on top of quesadilla and add any desired toppings, including cheese. Broil for 2-4 minutes, until crispy.