Tag Archives: cheese

Fresh Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese

 

I don’t often brag about my food, but this soup is a winner. It’s beautifully fresh and bright, while warming you from the inside out.

The fresh ingredients make a difference in this meal, doing away with the tinny taste of canned tomatoes.

 

Fresh Tomato Basil Soup

Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
8-12 tomatoes, quartered
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil for about 10 minutes
Sprinkle cornstarch over onions and garlic to coat veggies.
Add tomatoes, salt and cayenne. Cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes, or until tomatoes are soft
Puree mixture well, and strain. Stir in basil. Return to heat if ready to eat, or store in refrigerator.

Serve with grilled cheese.

Grilled Cheese

Ingredients

2 pieces of bread

1 Tablespoon butter

2 slices American cheese

Spread butter over one side of each piece of bread. Place butter side down in the pan, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes per side, until bread is toasted and cheese is melted.

 

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Pot Luck Royalty: King Ranch Casserole

Casserole is a Southern staple, and in Texas, this recipe is the king of all things pot luck. It’s reminiscent of enchiladas, which are close to any Tex-Mex lover’s heart. It’s a layering of a spiced gravy, corn tortillas, sautéed vegetables, shredded chicken and cheese.

King Ranch Casserole

Sauce:

3 Tablespoons butter

3 Tablespoons flour

1 cup chicken broth

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon ground chili powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Saute mixture:

2 Tablespoons of butter

3 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly

1 small onion, diced

1 cup mushrooms, chopped

2 hatch green chiles, deseeded and chopped

2 tomatoes

3 cups chicken, cooked and shredded

12 corn tortillas

2 cups cheese

Melt 3 Tablespoons butter; add 3 Tablespoons flour. Whisk thoroughly. Cook 1 to 2 minutes.

Stir in broth and milk. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Keep over low heat for 10 minutes.

Stir in cumin and chili powder.

Saute garlic, onion, tomatoes, hatch chiles and mushrooms. Cook for 10 minutes, or until tender.

Mix vegetables with shredded chicken.

Layer in casserole: coat bottom of 9×13 with a little sauce. Layer 6 corn tortillas, and spread half of the chicken and vegetables over. Top with half of the cream sauce and half of cheese. Repeat.
Cook in 350* oven for 30 minutes, or until cheese is melty.

 

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Southern-style Shrimp and Cornmeal “Grits”

Grits are a breakfast staple in the South. The pudding-like ground hominy is a hearty and versatile meal. The pairing of shrimp with the mealy custard is “low-country” cooking at its finest.

While grits are made from hominy, I used stone-ground cornmeal; and though this is considered a “soft polenta”, let’s face it–  “shrimp ‘n’ grits” just has a certain ring to it.

 

Cornmeal “Grits” (or soft polenta)

Ingredients

3  cups water

1 cup stone ground cornmeal

1 Tablespoon salt

Pepper, to taste

2 Tablespoons rosemary, chopped

3 Tablespoons butter

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Bring water and cornmeal to a boil, stirring constantly to avoid it sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Once boiling, reduce heat to low. Add salt and pepper.

Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes until thick. You’re looking for it to stand up when “plopped” on a plate. *

Stir in butter, parmesan and rosemary.

Paprika Shrimp

Ingredients

1 pound shrimp, 17 to 20 count, peeled and deveined

1/2 Tablespoons salt

1/2 Tablespoon paprika

3-4 Tablespoons butter, depending on the size of your pan

Toss shrimp with paprika and salt.

Be mindful of overcrowding your pan. I cooked my shrimp in two batches, each using 2 Tablespoons of butter. If your pan is big enough to cook the shrimp in one batch, you may only need 3 Tablespoons of butter.

Cook shrimp for two to three minutes per side, until opaque.

Serve shrimp over “grits”.

*The whole meal takes about 30 minutes to make. Cook your shrimp in the last 10 to 15 minutes of cooking your grits.

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Jalapeno Creamed Corn

It’s no secret: I love spicy foods. Jalapenos, cayenne, crushed red pepper. I add a spicy element to just about everything I cook. And this recipe is no different.

Creamed corn is a national staple, especially in the South. As I was growing up, I only knew the sweet kernel goodness from a can. What a travesty! Making this spectacular side dish from fresh corn takes little effort, and produces a dreamy, creamy pudding-like corn casserole. With the addition of jalapenos, creamed corn is elevated into a restaurant-worthy menu item. If you can’t stomach spicy foods, cut the jalapeno out. The base of this recipe can stand on its own.

 

Jalapeno Creamed Corn

Ingredients

4 ears corn, unhusked

1 Jalapeno

2 Tablespoons butter

2 Tablespoons milk

1 Tablespoon sugar

1 1/2 Tablespoons flour

Salt and pepper

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup shredded Italian cheese (Parmesan works fine, but I used an Italian cheese blend)

Bake corn in husks at 350* for 30 minutes. Bake jalapeno with corn for last 10 minutes of cooking. Let cool.

Husk corn; deseed and dice jalapeno.

Heat milk and butter in small sauce pan until butter melts. Add flour, sugar, salt and pepper. Once combined, add water. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat.

In a food processor, puree contents of sauce pan and 1/2 of corn (about 2 cups) until creamy.

Stir in remaining corn and jalapeno. (If you have leftovers, this recipe freezes well; do not add cheese.)

Layer in ramekins, or 9×9 inch pan, with cheese. (Pour half of mixture in pan and cover with cheese; pour in remaining mixture and top with cheese. )

Bake at 350* for 15 to 20 minutes, or until cheese on top is melted.

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Cheesy Chorizo Quiche

My first memory of quiche isn’t a romantic meeting of girl and eggy pie; I met pre-frozen mini quiches somewhere on the road of childhood, and wondered at the creamy, crusty little packages. These mass-produced quiches left me longing for something more. I knew these had such potential to be a buffet hero. And so versatile: ham, spinach, cheese. I have great plans for these eggy pies, I thought.

So years later, I’ve formulated my ultimate quiche, one with oozing cheese, creamy eggs and spicy Mexican chorizo. And nothing is better than marrying French techniques with Mexican flavors.

Cheesy Chorizo Quiche

Ingredients

8 ounces pork chorizo

1/2 onion, chopped

2 cups milk, boiling 

4 eggs

1 cup shredded cheese

1 pie crust, recipe below

Brown chorizo, and add onions. Cook until onions are soft.

Temper eggs with boiling milk: While whisking the eggs, pour a slow stream of the boiling milk down the side of the bowl. Work in about half of the milk. Once the egg mixture is warmed, stir in the rest of the milk.

Spread chorizo and onions in the bottom of the baked crust. Pour eggs over, and top with cheese.

Bake 350* for 30 minutes.

Pie Crust

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all pupose flour

2 Tablespoons sugar

1 Tablespoon salt

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 Tablespoons milk

Mix dry ingredients together. Slowly stir in the oil and milk.

Roll out on lightly floured surface. Press into desired baking dish (I used a rectangular tart pan).

Prick the bottom with a fork, and bake at 400* for 15 minutes.

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Asado Loco Shrimp and Corn

I’ve been Asado Loco, or “barbecue crazy”, lately. This Baja-inspired meal is full of fresh flavors and crunch.

These fresh shrimp need to be marinated for up to an hour to infuse full on margarita flavor, but these little fellas are worth the wait. Serve with Cotija Street Corn for a south of the border barbecue.

Cilantro Margarita Shrimp Asado

Ingredients

1 pound of shrimp

Juice of 2 limes

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1/4 cup tequila

1 Tablespoon sugar

1 Tablespoon salt

Marinate shrimp with the rest of the ingredients for 30 minutes to one hour.

At this point, you can soak your wood or bamboo skewers if you choose to kabob your shrimp. It is vital to submerge them in water, or you will be faced with flaming sticks on the grill. I forgot to soak them, and opted out of skewering with dry bamboo. I was not in the mood for fiery batons of seafood.

Also, if you plan to use wood chips in your grill, soak them in water at this time, for about 30 minutes.

After everything has been marinated and soaked, brush shrimp with olive oil and cook 2 to 3 minutes per side over medium-high heat.

Serve with wedge of lime, and Cotija Street Corn, recipe below.

I love cotija cheese. It is a firmer, aged queso fresco that adds a funky-salty flavor to the sweet grilled corn.

This recipe was inspired by the grilled corn sold on the streets of Mexico, often times with a creamy mayo or sour cream mixture. But its corn– I’ve got to bathe it in butter.

Cotija Street Corn

Ingredients

4 ears of corn

1/4 cup butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

Juice of 1 lime

1/2 cup cotija cheese, crumbled

 

Husk the corn, and remove the silk.

Mix melted butter, chili powder and lime for basting.

Grill on medium heat for 8 to 12 minutes, brushing on the melted butter mixture every few minutes.

Sprinkle cotija over the corn directly after removing from heat. Serve with chili lime butter.

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Grilled Caesar Salad…yes, grilled

Freshness is a salad’s selling point, and personally, I like my lettuce and fixings cold. So why throw perfectly crunchy lettuce on a grill? Because I can, that’s why.

Grilling Romaine lettuce takes less than five minutes, but adds a flavor only charcoal can provide. The bold Whole(some) grain dressing freshens up the wilting Romaine.

I rarely offer Aaron salad. His response is usually a guffaw, accompanied by, “No”. But when I told him we would be grilling our lettuce, he was intrigued. When I served him the Caesar salad, he looked confused as he approached the leafy pile with caution. One bite, and silence. “I’d eat this salad everyday.”

Needless to say, if I can convert my meat-loving man into a salad eater with this recipe, you may also find success.

Grilled Caesar Salad

Ingredients

One head of  Romaine Lettuce

Whole(some) grain dressing, recipe below

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving

Croutons, if desired

Separate Romaine leaves, and wash thoroughly.

Pat dry.

Toss in Wholesome Grain Dressing and parmesan cheese.

Grill 2 minutes per side on low heat.

Chop, and add croutons and more cheese, if desired.

Whole(some) Grain Dressing

3 Tablespoons lemon juice

2 Tablespoons Whole grain mustard

2 cloves garlic, puree

Salt and pepper

3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Stir lemon juice, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper together.

Whisk or beat in olive oil slowly.

Store in refrigerator.

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