Archive for November, 2007


Well, we can’t eat sandwiches every night! We also had rice two nights in a row. Not a great week for variety.

I realized recently that I only have one crockpot meal that I make regularly. That needs to change! My sister is a crockpot fiend, so I need to ask her for some good ones.

This recipe came from my brother. The first time I had it was when I visited him in Oklahoma. We drove there from Indiana, and our car broke down in Missouri, so…we ate at like 10pm or something. Incidently, while we were waiting around for the car to be fixed in Missouri, we wandered into a bar, where we met up with an older couple who had just gotten married. Cute!

copy-of-img_9807Photo updated 12/02/08

Back to food. I’ve made a few changes to the recipe. It originally called for boneless, skinless chicken thighs, but I decided they weren’t really necessary. There’s plenty of protein from the beans and rice, right? Sometimes I do add bone-in, skinless chicken thighs and then shred the meat right before serving. There’s something about shredded chicken that I just like. Also, it’s supposed to be served over spanish rice, but white rice is easier and there’s plenty of flavor in the beans. Oh, and I changed the beans from pinto to kidney. My friend from Puerto Rico makes rice and beans with kidney beans, so maybe they’re more authentic? I don’t know, I bought them on accident once and liked them better.

And! I had to use actual canned green chiles! My New Mexican green chile supply ran out, and no one resupplied me this year!

Spicy Crockpot Beans
Serves 3

2 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 (4-ounce) cans green chile, diced
2 chipotle chiles from adobo sauce, minced
1 (0.85 ounce) package chicken gravy mix (I use Simply Organic)
½ teaspoon sugar
2 tomatoes, chopped, or ½ (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 cups cooked white rice

Add first five ingredients to crockpot and cook on low for 3-5 hours. Stir in tomatoes 30 minutes before serving. Serve over white rice. (If you use chicken pieces as well, add them skin side down on the bottom of the pot and cook for 6-8 hours.)

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Next up on sandwich week was spiedies.  Spiedies are one of the few things that Binghamton, NY, may be known for (the only other is probably carousels).  Sad to say, I lived in Binghamton for four years and probably only ate spiedies three or four times.  Now that it looks like we might be moving away from upstate New York, I decided it was a good time to make spiedies at home.

Spiedies are ridiculously simple.  They’re really just marinated and grilled meat on a roll.  I could have made the marinade from scratch, for it oddly felt more authentic to just buy Salamida’s State Fair Spiedie marinade.  I cut up 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts into chunks, tossed them in the marinade, and left them alone until the next day.  Then I skewered the meat and broiled it.  Grilling wasn’t an option because I don’t have a grill.  Unfortunately, I sort of suck at broiling, and I ended up way overcooking the chicken.  The flavor was there, and it was good, but any sort of juiciness was sadly missing.  It took me about 20 minutes to make it through one sandwich.

On the plus side, I’ve got half a bottle of marinade left and two more chicken breasts in the freezer.  Looks like I’ll be doing a do-over soon.

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Usually I’m pretty careful about planning our weekly dinners with a fair amount of diversity. This week, however, it worked out that we’re having sandwiches three nights. Yay! I love sandwiches!

Sandwich week starts out with a classic, and one of my absolute favorite, meals–tomato soup and grilled cheese. When I was a kid, I loved Campbell’s and Kraft singles. These days, I get just a bit fancier.

The soup is homemade from a Cooks Illustrated recipe. I make the recipe with just a few changes–I leave out the cream at the end because while it certainly doesn’t make the soup worse, it doesn’t make it better either, so I figure I might as well save myself the unhealthiness. I reduce the butter by one tablespoon for the same reason.

The sandwiches are simplicity itself–just slice a roll in half, pile on whatever cheese you like, and roast at 400 degrees until the cheese melts (something like 10 minutes).

I make this meal probably once a month. It’s definitely comfort food for me and Dave. One final touch–we always add just a few cooked macaroni noodles to the soup. I’ve done this since I was a kid, and now tomato soup just seems like it’s missing something when they’re not there.

(Photo updated 3/28/08 )

Cream of Tomato Soup (from Cooks Illustrated)

Serves 6

2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes packed in juice, drained, juice reserved
1½ tablespoons brown sugar, preferably dark
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large shallots, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Pinch ground allspice
1 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1¾ cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons brandy

1. Adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place a strainer in a bowl and remove the seeds and juice of each tomato over the strainer. Place tomatoes in a single layer on the baking sheet. Rub with the brown sugar. Bake until the tomatoes are dry and just starting to brown, about 30 minutes. Let the tomatoes cool slightly, then peel them off the foil.

2. While the tomatoes roast, heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat until foaming. Add the shallots, tomato paste, and allspice. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are softened, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the flour, stirring constantly, until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds. Stirring constantly, gradually add the chicken broth; stir in the reserved tomato juice and the roasted tomatoes. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then cover, reduce to heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes to blend the flavors.

3. Strain the mixture into a medium bowl. Transfer the tomatoes and solids in the strainer to a blender; add enough liquid for the blender to work, then puree until desired consistency. Stir the pureed mixture and remaining strained liquid together. Stir in the brandy and serve.

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I’ve read so many great food blogs lately that I’ve gotten excited about starting my own!  My husband Dave came up with the name–I wanted something that would reflect the main topic of food, as well as my interest in the science of food and cooking.

I had a professor once who started his course by discussing the physics of crumbly cookies. That same day, he brought us cookies that his wife had made. They were these delicious cream cheese chocolate chip cookies, and I’ve been wanting to make them since. This seemed like the perfect way to start my blog!

I love chocolate chip cookies. And I love cream cheese. I think these cookies are quite delicious. Dave isn’t as impressed, but he’s not as in to cream cheese as I am.  Regardless, these will be a nice change from my regular chocolate chip cookie routine.  I know the final result will be good when I can’t resist the dough!

I got the recipe from a google search.  Several websites had the same recipe, which is only slightly altered from Nestle’s regular chocolate chip cookies.

Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

16 tablespoons (2 sticks) butter, softened

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) light brown sugar

3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups (12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees.  Whisk the flour, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl; set aside.  Beat butter, cream cheese, and sugars until creamy; add egg and vanilla and beat until combined.  Add flour mixture and mix until just combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop dough by 1-inch spoonfuls onto cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart.  Bake until brown around edges and center is set.  Cool on cookie sheet 2 minutes; transfer to wire rack to cool completely.


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