Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Easy Navy Bean Soup

My husband had back surgery, and we're home from the hospital.  I decided to make soup last night, and experimented with an easy navy bean soup.  This is my first attempt, but he was pretty pleased with it, and I enjoyed it quite a bit as well.

Easy Navy Bean Soup

32 oz navy beans (2 packages)
2 pounds sausage, sliced
6 cups chicken broth
3 cups tomato broth
2 1/2 cups water
Celery, fresh or dried (I use dried because my husband hates fresh celery, and I use about 2 tablespoons)
Carrots, shredded (I use one package of the pre-shredded carrots at the grocery store)
Parsley (2 tablespoons)
Salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder to taste

Soak your beans overnight or as directed on the package.  When ready to cook, make sure they are rinsed and drained.  Add all ingredients to your large soup pot, except for the sausage.  When you boil sausage for long periods of time, it gets rubbery and loses its flavor.  Bring contents of pot to a boil and simmer for about an hour and a half.  Add sausage and heat through.  For a thicker soup, you can puree your beans once they are soft, and return them to your pot.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Casa Ole Enchiladas Attempt #3

So, after realizing the error of my ways, I tried a batch of enchiladas last night.  I used the same sauce recipe I did last time, but did as I suggested in my epiphany.  Once my sauce was completed, I used about four ladles worth of the gravy to cover the bottom of my pan.  I then rolled my enchiladas with my mild cheddar and baked them just long enough to melt the cheese.  When they came out of the oven, I poured the rest of the gravy on top, and added my cheese blend on the top of that.  I used the Mexican blend cheese this time, since the taco blend has additional spices.  It came out the proper texture, but could have used a little more gravy.  I plan to halve my gravy recipe and add that much more to it the next time I attempt this in order to make them a little more "saucey."

Flour + oil = roux

Simmering gravy

Going into the oven

Letting the cheese melt from the heat underneath

Finished product

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


I had planned on making  chicken and wild rice soup tonight, but I ran across a recipe for grilling pizza, and after mentioning it to my husband, my son begged for pizza for dinner tonight.  I did not make it on the grill, I did bake it in the oven, but I will share the recipe anyhow.  If I end up trying it on the grill at a later date, I will keep you all posted.

Homemade Pizza

3 1/2 to 4 cups flour (if you want a crispier crust, use bread flour, otherwise all-purpose flour is fine)
1 tsp sugar
1 square pre-packaged yeast
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups water heated to approximately 110 degrees
2 tbsp olive oil

Combine sugar, yeast and water in a bowl.  Let stand for 10 minutes until it starts to look foamy.  Mix in the olive oil and salt, and then add 3 1/2 to 4 cups of flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring each 1/2 cup into the mixture.  Stop adding flour when your dough is nice and elastic.  On most normal days, I only need 3 1/2 cups.  When I make bread in Houston, where the humidity is always at 100%, or on very humid days here, I need all 4 cups of flour.  Once you have your ball of dough, scrape it onto a lightly floured surface and knead for several minutes until it forms a smooth, firm ball.  Grease a large bowl with oil.  If I'm feeling generous, I rinse out my previous bowl and use that.  If my son has been getting bad grades and slacking on his homework and I know he's doing the dishes that night, I use a new bowl.  I like to use a dab of olive oil when I do pizza dough, but for my other types of bread I generally use Baker's Joy because that spray is amazing.  Add your dough to the bowl and turn to coat.  Cover it and put it in a warm place.  Let it rise for about an hour or until approximately doubled in size.  Turn out your dough, punch it down, and divide it into two equal pieces.  Cover it and let it rise again for about 15 minutes-ish.  Use to make two pizzas. 

The Rest

2 cans tomato paste
2 tbsp-ish Italian seasoning OR
    2 tsp-ish oregano
    2 tsp-ish basil
    2 tsp-ish rosemary
    An extra dash or two or oregano
1 tbsp-ish of garlic powder (or more if you likey the garlic like I do)
A couple of dashes of dried parsley
If you want it spicy, you can toss some black or red pepper in to taste
4 cups mozzarella or Italian blend cheese
1 1/2 cups Parmasian cheese
Pepperonis (or whatever you want on your pizza)
1 cup cheddar cheese (sharp)

Preheat your oven to 350.  Roll your pizza dough into a round disc.  (Note:  If you don't have time to make your own crust, you can buy pre-made crusts at the grocery store or roll out biscuit dough to make a crust.)  You can roll it as thin as you want to, depending on how thick you like your pizza crust.  Mix tomato paste and seasonings together in a small bowl, and spread evenly across your dough OR spread the paste evenly across your pizza dough and sprinkle the seasonings across the paste equally evenly, depending on how much trouble you having mixing the paste.  Remember that seasoning is a personal preference and that some will like it spicier than others.  Adjust to suit your own personal preferences.  Put 2 cups of mozzarella (or Italian blend cheese) on each pizza as a base.  Add your pepperonis in an eye pleasing pattern.  Sprinkle your Parmasian cheese across the pepperonis, and add the cheddar cheese on top.  You can add extra cheddar if you like it cheesy.

I used mozzarella on the bottom, but added a thin layer of finely shredded Italian blend cheese 
with Italian seasoning and Parmasian mixed in on the top of the cheddar layer.  

You can certainly use whatever toppings suit your fancy.  My personal favorite is bacon, cheddar and Canadian bacon with the mozzarella base.  Anyhow, bake your pizzas for 10 to 15 minutes until your crust edges are clearly cooked and your cheese is as brown as you want it.  If you rolled your crust thicker, remember to leave it in the oven a bit longer so it cooks all the way through.  Enjoy!

 Fresh from the oven

Creamy Chicken Marsala

So, it turns out that I didn't have any mushrooms in the house, and everyone knows you can't have Chicken Marsala without mushrooms.  Fortunately, I had to run errands yesterday, so I picked up a gallon of milk and some baby bella mushrooms for dinner last night.  Marsala is not one of those meals that goes as far as some of the others I make, so I waited until there were only three of us here for the night (which hardly every happens!).  I ate at Olive Garden a few years ago (yes, I have a point, here), and when I ordered their Chicken Marsala, they accidentally brought me the Marsala sauce they serve with their stuffed Marsala, which was creamy.  I, of course, have endeavored to make my home-cooked sauce a creamy one, and this is what I have come up with:

Creamy Chicken Marsala

To roll your chicken in:
1 cup flour
2 tbsp Emeril's Essence

2.5 lb chicken breasts, trimmed and butterflied
2 tbsp olive oil
8 tbsp butter or margarine (I use the real thing)
2 packages mushrooms, washed and sliced
2 cups Marsala cooking wine
2 cups chicken broth
8 to 16 ounces heavy cream (if you want to have regular Marsala sauce, leave this off)
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix your seasoning and flour to created a seasoned flour.  Roll your chicken in the flour, shaking off excess.
Heat olive oil over a medium high heat (not until smoking).  Add 4 tbsp butter and pan fry your breasts about three minutes per side until a nice golden brown.  Transfer to a plate as they finish, and set aside (not where your dog can reach them).  There should still be plenty of oil/butter mixture to saute your mushrooms.  Stir frequently until they darken and give off liquid. 


At this point, add your wine, assuming you didn't drink it absentmindedly because you have a teenager living in your home whose hormones are going crazy, and at this point any alcohol sounds good.  Bring mixture to a boil, making sure any drippings are part of the sauce and not still stuck to the bottom of your pan.  When your wine has reduced by about half-ish, add the chicken broth and cook for three or four minutes (I usually throw my bouillon cubes in with the wine, and just add water once the wine has reduced) until it thickens slightly.  Lower your heat to medium and return your chicken breasts to the pan.  Continue to cook until the chicken is cooked through and your sauce has thickened, which should take at least five to six minutes, though it can take a little longer with thicker chicken breasts, so just take care, and when in doubt, pull a breast and test the center of the thickest spot. 


Now, remember the other 4 tbsp of butter?  Toss that in along with some salt and pepper.  When you are pleased with the taste, add 8 ounces of cream, and gently mix it in.  If you want it to be more creamy, you can add some more of the cream until it is exactly how you want it.  Pull it off the heat and serve over mashed potatoes. 

 My son's he was trying to take bites out of it

If you made your sauce without the cream, you may prefer to serve it with pasta, but I think the cream sauce goes better with mashed potatoes, myself.  Enjoy!  And, as always, if you have any questions or suggestions for improvement, let me know!