Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pork and Chorizo Chili

Every fall my parents friends all get together for their annual chili cook-off. 
Everyone makes a pot of chili and four people are judges and they have to try all of them and rank them. The winner get the traveling chili trophy. There's also a hay-less hayride through the town. So much fun. 
It was today and seeing as how I am in Florida and they're all  in Illinois I didn't get to participate. So as my own way to join in I made chili; and I must say that there is a chance I would have won.
All of the ingredients blended together near perfectly and it was spicy just the way I like it. 
I hadn't made a pork tenderloin before, but I think I did a pretty good job.
I never herd of hominy before, but I guess it's some kind of mexican corn. I found it in the ethnic section in my local grocery store. 
Tis the season for some chili! Make a pot and enjoy. 
I always freeze half of mine and get some later.
Recipe slightly adapted from Pink Parsley

Pork and Chorizo Chili

for the pork tenderloin
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons plack pepper
1/2 tablespoon unsweeteded cocoa powder
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 pork tenderloin
1/2 tablespoon olive oil

for the chili
8 ounces chorizo
1 medium onion, (diced)
4 garlic cloves, (minced)
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, (minced)
1 teaspoon adobo sauce, (from canned chiles)
3 tablespoons flour
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
15 ounces hominy, (drained and rinsed)
14.5 ounces diced tomatoes, (drained)
15 ounces black beans, (drained and rinsed)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano leaves
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
the pork tenderloin from above

for the pork tenderloin:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
In a small bowl, mix the cumin, pepper, cocoa powder, and allspice together.
Pat the pork dry with a paper towel.
Thoroughly rub the spice mixture onto the pork.
Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet until just smoking.
Brown the tenderloin on all sides, about 6 minutes.
Transfer to a baking sheet.
Roast in the oven until a instant-read thermometer registers 140 degrees, about 15-18 minutes. 
Remove and transfer onto a cutting board.
Tent with foil and allow to rest until the temperature reaches 150 degrees, about 10 minutes. 
Cut into 1 inch cubes.

for the chili:
In your pot that you are cooking the chili in, cook the chorizo over high heat, cutting and stirring with a wooden spoon as to cooks, about 4 minutes.
Add the onion and let it cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Stir in the garlic, chipotle, and adobo sause and let cook about 30 seconds.
Add the flour and stir until incorporated. 
Add the chicken broth, hominy, black beans, tomatoes, sugar, and oregano and bring to a simmer. 
Reduce hear to medium-low and continue to simmer at least 20 minutes.
Stir in the pork and cook about 5 minutes.
Stir in the cilantro and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Mexican Soup

When I was a kid, soup was one of the few things I would actually eat without force. So it became its own food group to me. Even now if I go to long without a nice warm cup of soup I start to crave it.
I was really happy to be making this soup because it reminds me of my Grandma back home in Illinois. She makes the best Mexican food. I remember eating her soup.  Always chunky, spicy, and full of flavor. I also wanted to make zucchini again. It's so delicious.
I'll admit, I went a little happy on the cayenne pepper so the soup was a bit too spicy, learn from me. Less is more. I used fresh oregano and I added dried cilantro also, it just makes everything better. Next time, I might add some sour cream, like in my Tortilla Soup. (Note how much better my photography skills have improved since then.)
Oh by the way this soup is no fat. Enjoy.
Slightly adapted from Alice in Paris loves Art and Tea.

Mexican Soup
serves 4 
6 cups chicken broth
14 ounces canned diced tomatoes
blob of tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, (minced)
1 yellow onion, (chopped)
2 cups fresh or frozen green beans
2 small zucchini, (chopped)
1 carrot, (diced)
1 green pepper, (chopped)
dash of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
pepper to taste
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, (chopped)

Put a large pot on stove on medium-high heat.
Add broth and tomatoes.
Bring to boil, then reduce heat.
Add everything except cilantro and lime juice.
Bring to boil again, then reduce the heat and maintain a slow simmer for 10-15 minutes, until everything is tender.
Stir in lime juice and cilantro.
Serve immediately.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Chocolate Halloween Cut Out Cookies

Cute, aren't they? If only you knew.
This is a learn from Kristens mistakes post.
Oh the things that went wrong with these cookies. 
First of all let me just say that I was very excited to make these. I've never made or used royal frosting before and I was so ready for the challenge of the frosting and trying a different kind of chocolate cut out cookie that didn't require me to hand dye black like my White Sox Cookies.
The first issue I had was finding the meringue powder. I had never herd of it, and none of the grocery stores I went to had herd of it. I finally looked it up online and found that Michael's had it, which was where I had already gone to get other supplies. So I got to go back. They had missed me. 
Then I went to roll out the dough and realized that I didn't have wax paper. I'm so used to my moms kitchen having everything I've needed I didn't even think that I would need to get wax paper. So instead of going out again I used parchment paper. I later found out that makes a huge difference when transferring the dough from the parchment paper to the cookie sheet. It was almost impossible. I eventually resorted to removing the access dough and flipping it over onto the cookie sheet and peeling the paper off slowly. Took forever.
I used gel food coloring for the icing, which usually has the best color for most icing, but that is not the case for royal icing. Next time I'm defiantly using the Wilson's liquid food coloring because It's supposed to have more vibrant colors.
Now, maybe had I done everything correctly in the first place these cookies wouldn't have taken so long, but as I didn't, they took me all day so I recommend setting aside a whole day to make them, or splitting them up into two days.
Having said that, the cookies were really good, after baking them I thought they were going to be a crunchy cookie, but they weren't! They were nice and soft and had just enough chocolate flavor.
Using royal frosting wasn't that bad either. You need to be patient and take your time, but if you can do that, you won't have a problem.
I made 37 cookies with the recipe, (which i found on Lovin' From the Oven, my favorite cooking blog), but I just depends on how thick you roll out the dough to be and the size of your cookie cutters.

Chocolate Cut-Out Cookies

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, (softened)
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup dark cocoa powder
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cup flour

Cream butter and sugar until smooth.
Add the cocoa powder and mix until incorporated. 
Blend in the egg and vanilla.
Mix in the flour until incorporated. 
Wrap and refrigerate the dough in two separate batches for at least two hours. 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Roll out the dough between two pieces of wax paper.
Dip cookie cutters in a mixture of cocoa powder and flour before cutting out the shapes.
Place shapes at least two inches apart on the baking sheet.
Bake for 10 minutes, 12-15 for larger ones. 

I used the Royal icing recipe from Annie's Eats, who also had a royal icing tutorial on her blog which is quite helpful.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Spiced Halloween Cut Out Cookies

I love Halloween.
There's a good chance it's because my mom refused to decorate or let me dress up as anything scary as a kid. So now I have a love for all things creepy and scary.
My other favorite holiday is valentines day, but you can only truly celebrate it if you're with a relationship and lets face it, there's a good chance that isn't going to happen this year for me so I need to appreciate Halloween while I can.
Don't you love my skull cookie jar? So  cute.
In honor of my favorite holiday, I'm making two posts with two different kinds of cookies, (yay!).
I found these super cute Halloween stencils and I had not ever used them before. I definitely recommend them they are so cute. However. I didn't use frosting and if you do the same don't use the colored spray, use powdered sugar or dark cocoa powder. Or frost it and use the color spray because it is pretty cool!
The cookies were delish also besides just cute. They were soft and had just the right amount of spices, which I was worried about because no one wants an overly spiced cookie. They're a perfect fall cookie, I definatley recommend trying them out. I found the recipe on Annie's Eats. I made almost 30 cookies with this recipe, but it will very on how thick you roll the dough out and what cookie cutters you use.

Spiced Brown Sugar Cut-Out Cookies

3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon all spice
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, (packed)
2 sticks of butter, (softened)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine flour, baking powder, salt and spices in a medium bowl.
In the brown of an electric mixer, combine sugars and butter.
Beat in medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
Blend in the egg and vanilla.
With the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients until just incorporated.
Form the dough into a ball and wrap tightly in plastic wrap.
Chill until firm, at least an hour.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to about 1/4 inch thick.
Cut out the dough with your cookie cutters and transfer to the baking sheets.
Bake 10-12 minutes.
Let cool in the baking sheets before allowing to completely cool on the cooking racks.
Decorate and enjoy!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Delicious End of Summer Hash

My food photography has slowly been improving.
Very slowly.
Today, I realized that my camera, which is pink and I love it, has been on the people setting this whole time.
There is a big difference, but what do you think?

One reason I've been concerned about my lack of photography skills (which may not have been my lack of skills at all turns out!) is because I've been trying to get on one of my favorite sites, TasteSpotting for a while, and I keep getting denied for my less than mediocre pictures. But hopefully, now that i've spotted the root of my problem, I will make an appearance, and you bet your bottom dollar I will let you all know if/ when that happens!
I also want to take a second to thank someone, my friend Sara Burket. She is the one who told me about TasteSpotting in the first place, which is how I found that I love cooking blogs, which is why I started my own. So Sara, I have no idea if you read this but, thanks, girl :)

Now, to the food. 
I have never had a hash before. But this looked delicious.
Oh and it was. My exact description right after my first bite was, "Amazingness bursted in my mouth."
Yes. It was that good. 
I had never cooked zucchini before, but i really liked it cooked and it wasn't difficult at all. 
Now, I'm from the midwest. So husking the corn was nothing, you can buy it pre husked here. That just seems weird to me. Something I have never done, is cut the corn off the cob. It was weird. 
I was thinking this would taste with fried rice in it too. Yum. Also feel free to add in different vegetables, but it was pretty near perfect as is.
The original recipe from Savy Eats used paprika, salt, pepper, and coriander. I'm going to admit now, I have no idea what coriander is and I didn't see it at the grocery store. But, I do like a lot of flavor in my food, so I added the pepper, paprika, cilantro, cumin, and Italian Herb, (by Penzeys Spices). I put a lot of each in, on the potatoes and onion, and on top of the zucchini and corn, and then on top of all it. I used red potatoes, the original recipe used Yukon gold potatoes. I'm sure either would still taste good, it's up to you. I love bacon, so I used 6 slices instead of 4-5. I didn't use salt either. It's healthier.
Make it, enjoy it. 

Summer Hash

1/4 pound bacon (4-5 slices)
4-5 Yukon gold potatoes
1/2 yellow onion
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried & ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2 ears of corn
2 small-ish zucchini

Chop the potatoes and onions into bite-sized pieces.
Preheat cast-iron skillet over medium-heat and add the bacon.
Cook for 5-6 minutes on each side or until crispy. 
Remove and break into pieces and put into a large bowl. 
Add the potatoes and onion in the skillet, along with the a teaspoon paprika and the coriander.
White they're cooking cut the zucchini and corn off the cob.
When the potatoes and onions are tender and done cooking, 10-13 minutes, mix them in with the bacon.
Cook the zucchini and corn in the skillet, about 6-10 minutes or until the zucchini is tender and the vegetables are brown. 
Add the vegetables to the bowl and mix everything together. 


Chocolate Chip Cookies

Everyone has a go-to chocolate chip recipe.
I think I have found mine.
My mom swears by the recipe on the toll house chocolate chip bag.
Yep, that's what I grew up eating.
I like chocolate chip cookies that aren't too fluffy, soft, and gooey.
I searched and searched for a good one, I found four recipes that looked good and after comparing them all together, I chose a recipe that was in the New York Times, which I found on My Baking Addiction.
I'm sending these home to my cousin, Trey. He's been doing amazing on his golf team and deserves a treat.
I used dark chocolate chips (one full bag) for these instead of the bittersweet disks, and I think they couldn't have turned out better, they were everything I look for in a chocolate chip cookie. Also, I used all-pourpose flour instead of the cake and bread flour. Also, I left out the sea salt and my cookies didn't take as long to bake, about 13 minuets.
I usually add how much the repipe makes in a recipe, but the original recipe says 1 1/2 dozen and I made over three dozen so since it's such a big difference, I'll let you find out how many it makes for yourself.
*Also note that the dough needs to be chilled for over 24 hours so make sure you leave time for that.

So, I hate to admit this, but this blog is about me learning lessons while baking so I will give everyone a good laugh. My grandmothers' baking sheet only has a rim on one side. So I lined it with parchment paper and during my second dozen, the paper slid off while i was pulling them off and I lost all 12 of them to the door of the oven and they feel in the crack between the door and the open. So upsetting. Learn from me and don't let it happen to you.

New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons cake flour
1 2/3 cups bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 cup and 2 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet disks, at least 60 percent cacao content
Sea salt

In your medium sized bowl, sift flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a bowl, set aside.
In your mixer, use the paddle attachment and cream the butter and sugars until very light, about 5 minutes.
Add eggs one at a time and mix well.
Stir in vanilla.
Reduce speed to add the dry ingredients until just combined.
Drop in chocolate pieced in and incorporate them without breaking them.
Press plastic wrap against the dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours.
Dough may be used in batched, and be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper or nonstick baking mat.
Scoop 6 3 1/2 ounce mounds of dough onto baking sheet.
Make sure to turn all chocolate pieces horizontally if they are sticking up for a more attractive cookie.
Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, about 18-20 minuets.
Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more.
Repeat with remaining dough, or put it in the refrigerator for later baking.