Chicken tortilla soup

March 22, 2010

We traveled.  We came back.  We  experienced the same blizzard twice: once out west, for an entire day, and then again flying back into Chicago.  It was  really just one of those March snowstorms that only thinks it’s scary but can’t even make the snow stick for more than a couple of hours.  It did, however, provide us with some very turbulent moments over Nebraska (“I’m never-ever-ever flying again; you will just have to tell me what Spain is like!” was actually uttered, I’m afraid), along with a rather dicey landing at O’Hare.  We were ever so glad to touch down–but then, aren’t we, Mr. and Ms. Homebody, always speechlessly ecstatic to come home?  And what better way to celebrate than with a lazy day of coffee and naps and  movies and books and wine and soup?

Chicken tortilla soup

  • 1 large onion
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 28oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 lb frozen corn
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 bunch scallions
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • tortilla chips, avocados, cheese (I can’t possibly tell you how much you’re going to want)
  • oregano, chili powder, smoked paprika, salt, pepper
  1. Saute the chicken and onion–with generous dashes of of paprika, oregano, chili powder, salt, pepper–for 4-5 minutes.
  2. Add water and tomatoes; bring to a boil; simmer on low for 30 minutes.
  3. Toss in the corn, beans, and scallions (along with more spices, if needed).
  4. Serve with tortillas, cilantro, cheese, and chopped avocados.

February graced us with:

  • 1 bout of stomach flu
  • 1 death in the family
  • 1 week of construction
  • 1 visit of Very Important Business Partners From Abroad

Here’s an example of what sustained us on those many nights when we barely had enough energy to wield a paring knife for 30 seconds:

Arugula + black bean + corn salad with roasted garlic

  • .5 lb frozen corn, cooked
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1 fistful arugula
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 head garlic
  • olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper
  1. Cut off the top of each garlic clove and drizzle with oil.
  2. Roast the garlic at 400F for 30 minutes.
  3. While the garlic is roasting, throw the corn, beans, and arugula together and top with avocado.  Splash with a touch of olive oil and balsamic vinegar; add salt and pepper to taste.

Last night, I informed Mr. Onepot that we were about to order Chinese.  Then, out of some poorly defined but quite persistent guilt, I found myself preparing the following:

Polenta+spinach+black bean strata

  • 3 cups water + 1 cup milk
  • 1.25 cup polenta
  • .5 large onion
  • 1 can black beans
  • .5 lb spinach (fresh, in this case, but surely frozen would also do)
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • salt, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 380F.
  2. Bring the water and milk to a boil.  (Remember that milk will trick you into thinking it’s nowhere near boiling, and then, in less than a second, puff up to an obscene height and spill all over your stove top.  So, sorry to say, you will have to babysit this just a bit.)
  3. Once it boils, stir in the polenta and salt.  Turn the heat down to low and cook for another 4-5 minutes, stirring only occasionally.  (This you don’t have to babysit!  I’ve never understood why people complain about the intense attention polenta requires.  In the Old Country, we treat it roughly and it turns out just fine.)
  4. While the milk+water are heating up, start sauteing the onion.  Once it’s soft and happy, add the beans along with a touch of their liquid.  Season ever so generously with paprika and cayenne pepper.
  5. After the beans and onions have had, say, 5 minutes to get to know each other, turn the heat off, toss the spinach on top of them, and cover.  The residual heat will cause the spinach to wilt just a touch, making it more manageable.
  6. In an altogether unrelated bowl (oh, this is so not a one-pot dish), beat the egg and combine with the yogurt.
  7. Layer!  First the polenta, then the beany and spinachy mix, and finally the yogurty egg.
  8. Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes.

(…In the end, I was so very glad we hadn’t ordered Chinese.)

Monday kicked my butt.  I actually thought I was masking my scatter-brainedness rather well with a carefully choreographed series of motions and scripted exchanges delivered at strategically chosen times over the course of the day… until I tried to make dinner.  And washed an onion.  And, while opening a can of garbanzo beans, got splashed with bean juice both on the forehead and, intriguingly, up by my left elbow under a long sleeve. And then sat down to write about it and typed “eggplant” with two ts.  And typed “typed” with two ps.

But you know what’s great about eggplantt and leeks and cracked wheat and garbanzo beans?  You really can’t go wrong, even with markedly diminished cognitive skills.  For that, on a night like this, I’m most grateful.

Cracked wheat with eggplant + leeks + garbanzo beans

  • 1 cup cracked wheat
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 Chinese eggplant
  • 1 leek
  • 1 can garbanzo beans
  • 1 can tomato sauce (my cupboard suggested “Spanish style” and I didn’t argue)
  1. I sauteed the cracked wheat in some olive oil just because that made me happy.  Then the water joined the party, and it all boiled and then simmered for some 20 minutes or so.
  2. In the meantime, I sauteed the onion and eggplant in a separate skillet, all the while getting rather distracted by The Daily Show.  So, I think I added oregano, parsley, salt, and pepper.  It kind of tasted like I had.
  3. Then, when the eggplant and onions became soft, the leeks and tomatoes went in for an additional couple of minutes.  And lastly, after the forehead + elbow splash incident, the garbanzos jumped in.
  4. And then we ate and were happy.

A week of beans

January 7, 2010

It’s been a week of beans chez Onepot.  So, if you don’t care for beans and/or feel compelled to go straight to the comments section to explain how they give you gas, you should probably just switch to some babies-and-cookies blog now and come back tomorrow.

Still here?  Onto beans, then.  A $3.71 bag of dry black beans, acquired on Sunday when Mr. Onepot apparently found a deal he could not turn down, has been transformed into three dinners and four lunches for the two of us.

First there was this:

  • 1 giant, slightly intimidating heap of dry black beaks
  • enough water to cover the heap in the pressure cooker
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (slightly less than full; I was hungry) jar Trader Joe’s habanero+lime salsa
  • 2 jalapeno peppers + 1 banana pepper, cut into ringlets of fire
  • cilantro and scallions (you know, for prettiness)

Then I…

  1. Cooked the beans in the pressure cooker for approximately 30 minutes post-whistle.  (Of course, this would work in a regular pot as well, but the cooking time will be different.)
  2. Drained the beans.  While they were relaxing in the colander I…
  3. Sauted the onion, garlic, carrot, and peppers in the same pot for 3-5 minutes.  And finally, I…
  4. Added the beans and salsa; stirred; let it all simmer for another minute or so.

Night 1: the beans went into a tortilla with some hot sauce and queso fresco:

Night 2: the beans cuddled with some saffron couscous and rapini stir-fried with garlic and lemon:

Night 3: here they finally are, just gently revived with a can of chopped tomatoes, in a rice + beans interpretation:

Hummus

November 6, 2009

IMG_4225

I won’t even begin to pretend that this is comparable to that lovely substance we get at our favorite Middle Eastern joint.  This is a different, tahiniless beast–but still so very good:

  • 1 can garbanzo beans (drain and save 1/2 of the liquid to include in the hummus)
  • 1 hefty clove of garlic
  • some lemon (say, whatever you have left in your fridge at the end of the week?… in my case, a less-than-inspired elderly half)
  • salt to taste

Toss it all together in your food processor and pulse until smooth.  That’s it!  (Unless you’re me and can’t resist adding cilantro and paprika.)

Then, when your husband comes home and wants to know why you smell like garlic, you can send him straight to the hummus bowl to have some ASAP; that way, neither of you will notice the intense garlickiness of the other.  And may I also recommend some merlot, and the new Paul Auster, and a movie on the sofa with two purring kittens in this mild early November darkness?  Because that’s where we’re headed, and it is good.

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Mandatory:

  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 green pepper (or bits and pieces of several, of different colors)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tortillas
  • salsa
  • your favorite seasonings

Optional:

  • 1 tomato
  • sour cream
  • cilantro
  • cheese
  1. Saute the onion and pepper for 5-7 minutes; add the partially drained black beans.  (Yes, partially drained!  Don’t be afraid of that mysterious liquid; I promise you will be pleasantly surprised.)  Season with something interesting, like paprika or cumin.  Simmer for 5-7 minutes.
  2. Hollow out 2 holes in the beans and drop an egg directly into each.  Cover; cook for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Serve beans+egg on a warm tortilla, with salsa, and decorate in any way that makes you happy.  Best enjoyed with October sunshine and a handsome husband.