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.
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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?

What was that, reader?  Not enough animal flesh chez Onepot?  Well, does a bird’s breast count?  If so, this one is for you: a dish inspired by two chicken breasts in desperate search of a recipe following their eviction from out of our soon-to-be defrosted freezer.  (Hello, obscenely expensive refrigerator repairs!)

Baked chicken with pesto + yellow peppers + olives + tomatoes

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 small yellow pepper
  • 3 tablespoons pesto
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • a handful of black olives
  1. Cut the first three ingredients into strips and toss with pesto.
  2. Bake at 400F (if your oven is puny like mine… but perhaps yours would tackle this even at 375F?) for approximately 20 minutes.
  3. Cover with olives and tomatoes and bake for another 10 minutes.
  4. Admire the prettiness!  (Accompanying couscous and green salad highly recommended, but certainly not required.)

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:

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.