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.

Roasted vegetable lasagna

January 25, 2010


Here’s the recipe I was originally going to share:

Wretched January

  • 1 earthquake
  • 1 removal of limits on corporate campaign financing
  • 1 healthcare reform bill at risk of deflating like a botched soufflé
  • 1 f#@%ing roof leak
  1. Combine all ingredients.
  2. Season with endless hours of darkness.
  3. Serve cold.

But, I actually have a cheery addendum.  Mr. Onepot informed me earlier that a lasagna would make him feel better–this from a man who never makes food requests!  I mean, he’s equally happy regardless of whether he’s eating a decadent multi-course meal or some strange whole grain/mystery fungus experiment of mine.  So how was I to say no?

Roasted vegetable lasagna

  • 3 red bell peppers
  • 2 zucchini

(What’s that?  You’re about to tell me that those are not in season?   You know what’s in season in Chicago right now?  Icicles.  So let’s move on, shall we?)

  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 lb frozen spinach
  • 1 lb cottage cheese
  • 1 28oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 8oz cans tomato sauce
  • 1 box no-boil lasagna noodles
  • a fistful of shredded cheddar, a bit of parmesan, and some gorgonzola crumbles
  • capers
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. I seasoned the first 3 ingredients and roasted them at 400F for 25 minutes.
  2. Then I combined them with spinach, cottage cheese, and diced tomatoes.  Yup–all together just like that.
  3. Then it was time to layer, and there’s really nothing to tell.  I used 1 little can of tomato sauce under the bottom noodle layer and the other on the very top.  In between: a layer of vegetable+cottage cheese mixture, a sprinkling of other cheeses, a layer of noodles, and so on and so forth until I ran out of ingredients…
  4. …and heaved the overflowing dish, cursing a little, into the 380-degree oven.  It spent the first 45 minutes in there bashfully covered with aluminum foil, and the final 10 minutes naked, under a sprinkling of cheese and capers.

Ah, it was good.  And, as we patted our full bellies, we started to feel just a tad hopeful again.

For starters: the roofer comes tomorrow.

You know what I cooked on this lusciously lazy Thursday night?  Not a damn thing. (Well, I guess I did brownify the garlic in some olive oil before tossing it over the arugula–but that hardly counts.)

And now, having licked my fingers, I’m wondering why we don’t have sandwiches more often.  Why is my imagination a barren tundra when it comes to thinking of scrumptious, non-traditional things to squeeze between two chunks of bread?  Dear reader, please help me out.  What must I try?

I went to work after a five-day fiesta of holiday spectacularness and tried to get a couple of things done.  Really I did.  But alas, my return was less than impressive.  I can’t quite bring myself to confess  just how long it took me to compose half a dozen  e-mails with clumsy fingers that seemed to be receiving instructions from a pudding-filled skull.  I finally gave up–in part because of the garbagey quality of what I was turning out, and in part because the office assistant was piercing me with looks that I was slow to interpret as “if you leave, I can leave!  no one else is here!  what the hell, woman?”

And so I came home and undertook a much more successful pursuit: one that involved eating capers straight from the jar and feeding bits of prosciutto to the Giant Kitty.  And look, I even managed to make a pizza!

Pizza dough

  • 1.5 cup white flour + 0.5 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 2/3 cup lukewarm water
  1. Combine the water, honey, and yeast.  Let this initially less-than-attractive fluid rest for 3-4 minutes, until it’s all jolly and bubbly.
  2. Add flour; knead.
  3. Let the dough rest in a warm and cozy place for 30 minutes while you look at Facebook photos of that high school friend who really let herself go.  Call your husband to have a look.
  4. Knead the dough again; let it rest for another 20-30 minutes.
  5. Roll out the dough, add toppings, and bake at 400F for 15 minutes.

Toppings:

  • 4-5 tablespoons tomato sauce
  • prosciutto
  • capers
  • cheese (we used Chimay vieux just because that’s what we had)
  • arugula (add this after the pizza is done but still sitting in the oven for a minute or two)

Why do I even bother with multi-step dishes when something this simple makes people swoon?

  • goat cheese
  • capers
  • roasted tomatoes
  1. Tomatoes go on top of the cheese.
  2. Capers go on top of the tomatoes.
  3. Everything goes into the oven: 10 minutes at 375F.

Sirnica

December 18, 2009

Come on, you know you’re interested despite the funny name!

As usual, I’ve taken some liberties with the original recipe.  May the gods of sticking to a formula forgive me.

Sirnica

  • 1 package fillo dough
  • 1lb cottage cheese (mine was small curd, fat-free–but feel free to improvise)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • a handful of dill, chopped
  • salt to taste (1/3 teaspoon is a fine starting point)
  • olive oil
  1. Saute the onion until it’s soft and translucent and luscious.
  2. Loosely whisk the eggs; add cottage cheese and salt.
  3. Fold the onions and dill into the egg+cheese mixture.
  4. Ok, ready to layer?  This is where you are allowed to get a bit grumpy.  I sure do.  (And then I remember my own grandmother, who made her own fillo dough once a week… and I go from feeling grumpy to feeling like a bit of a loser).
  5. Actually, the rest is quite easy.  After you oil the bottom of the baking dish, you will: a) put down a sheet of dough; b) brush it with olive oil; c) repeat… until you have approximately 5 sheets down.
  6. Top with 1/3 of the egg+cheese mixture.
  7. Add another 4-5 sheets of dough (don’t forget the olive oil).
  8. You get the idea: another 1/3 of egg+cheese goodness, another 4-5 sheets of dough…  The top layer should consist of 4-5 layers of dough and 1 sacrificial sheet that’s going to protect the loveliness underneath while it’s in the oven.
  9. Bake at 375F for ~45 minutes.

You’re probably thinking, “Hey, this is a lot like baklava.”  Oh, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to things my people can stick between layers of fillo dough!  The possibilities are endless.