Sunday, November 18, 2012

Recommended Reading

Top picks of books for the foodies in the family:

This is a must read for any aspiring chefs. Bourdain writes like he talks and his attitude is definitely reflected in this book. He gives the reader a look at what really goes on behind the scenes of a gourmet restaurant.

I just finished reading this book. I have to admit I had tears rolling down my face during parts of it.  Grant Achatz is a brilliant, game changing Chef. This guy is tough as nails and in my book, superhuman. Truly an inspiring book of someone with passion and dedication.

If you know someone that is dealing with a illness, please go buy this book and give it to them. Kris Carr, who is also the author of "Crazy, Sexy, Cancer", empowers her audience and gives them the tools to use food in a healthy way.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fall Quinoa Pilaf

My diet is almost exclusively plant-based. I will eat meat from time to time, so I like to consider myself a semi-vegetarian. Eating mostly plants is a personal choice for me. I find it easier to digest veggies and grains then a huge piece of steak. When I started eating more fruit and veg, I noticed my energy increased. I wasn't stopping at Starbucks every couple of hours to fill up on caffeine and sugar just to have my blood sugar crash in thirty minutes. I realize that everyone's body needs protein, however protein doesn't always have to be in the form of meat. A little grain called Quinoa has a nice helping of protein in it. I particularly like this grain because it helps stabilize my blood sugar and I can eat a lot of it since it is low in calories. Even if you decide to just have one vegetarian meal a week, you are doing your body an enormous favor. Try it and you might just become a VIP (Vegan Intriguing Person).

Fall Quinoa Pilaf

1 cup Quinoa cooked according to the directions on package
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1 pomegranate, seeds removed
1/2 cup green onion, chopped
1/4 cup dried figs, chopped
1/4 cup toasted almonds
juice of 2 Meyer lemons
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl combine parsley, green onion, pomegranate seeds and dried figs. Add Quinoa in once it has cooled off after cooking it. In a small bowl combine lemon juice, thyme, salt, pepper and olive oil. Drizzle over pilaf. Garnish with toasted almonds.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Salisbury Steak with Mushroom gravy

 Ahh.....yes. The TV dinner redo. Full disclosure - My past experience with this dish was courtesy of Miss Swanson. The only reason I was probably warming this TV dinner up at all was to dig into the dessert. I like to think as an adult my palate is more refined. I prefer homemade comfort food as opposed to popping my dinner into the microwave and listening for the peep, peep, peep. If you have never had this homemade before, you are in for a treat. It does bring back childhood memories and I'm assuming it reheats well if you have leftovers. That is a big "IF".

*This recipe was adapted from Simple Quintessential Cuisine

Salisbury Steak with Mushroom gravy

1 1/2lbs ground beef
1 large onion (mince 1/3 and slice the rest)
5 finely minced garlic cloves
3 eggs
1 cup unseasoned bread crumbs
1 tsp steak seasoning 
1 ½ tsp kosher salt
¾ tsp pepper 
4 C beef broth
2 C sliced mushrooms
3 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 C dry red wine 

3 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil


In a medium sauce pan bring beef broth to a slow simmer and add mushrooms; the purpose being to draw out the mushroom flavor into the broth.  While that’s occurring place a large frying pan or cast iron skillet over medium high heat and add olive oil and butter.

 In a large mixing bowl, mix together beef, minced onion, 1 tablespoon of the minced garlic, steak seasoing, eggs, bread crumbs, salt and pepper.
 Form the beef mixture into large patties and then place into the pan.  Sear the patties well on both sides and then remove from the pan and place into a large casserole.

In the same pan add another 1 ½  tablespoons of butter and olive oil and then add sliced onions and remaining garlic and sauté for 3-4 minutes.  

 Add in the flour, stirring for an additional minute, then pour in the red wine while you continue to stir.  Next pour in the mushroom broth continuing to stir until thickened. 

Pour sauce over the patties.  Cover the casserole with tin foil and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.


Friday, September 28, 2012

Huevos Rancheros

 When my husband and I were on our honeymoon in Mexico, I pretty much ate this everyday. The hotel that we stayed at was not all inclusive, but did include this on their complimentary breakfast menu. It was delicious! Even though this is a favorite for me, I've never made it at home. I've substituted the standard lard laden refried beans for healthier refried black beans. I don't feel so bad when eating this dish since I can count the egg and beans as protein. The avocado also provides some healthy fat. 

Huevos Rancheros

4 corn tortillas
canola oil for frying
1 can black beans, drained
1 teaspoon cumin
1 fresh or pickled jalapeno, seeds removed
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup whipping cream
4 eggs
2 avocados, sliced
pico de gallo or salsa
sour cream and cilantro for garnish

Heat canola oil in a skillet on medium heat. Place corn tortilla in skillet and fry until edges start to turn brown. Using tongs, flip tortilla and fry on the other side. Remove tortilla and place on a plate covered with a paper towel. 

In a food processor or blender combine 1 can black beans, cumin and jalapeno. Puree until smooth. In a skillet heat 1 tablespoon butter on low to medium heat. Add pureed beans. Whisk in whipping cream.

In a non stick pan cook egg sunny side up. If you do not have a non stick pan add butter to pan before cooking egg.

Assembly by spreading refried black beans onto the fried corn tortilla. Add cooked egg. Garnish with sliced avocado, pico or salsa and sour cream.


*Serves 4 -  one per person *

Monday, September 17, 2012

Pico de Gallo

I tend to think of "pico" as having fresh tomatoes and hot sauce or picante as a cooked salsa using fire roasted or cooked tomatoes. At some Mexican restaurants in San Antonio, you will be offered both with your meal. When I saw some beautiful cherry tomatoes at a farmer's market, I knew exactly what to do with them. Make pico, of course! This is one of those sauces that gets better the longer it sits in the fridge.

Pico de Gallo

2 cups cherry tomatoes, washed, stems removed, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeds removed and finely chopped
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, washed and finely chopped
juice of half of a medium size lime
salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients into a bowl. 
*OR add ingredients into a food processor and puree until chunky*

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Mixed Green Salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing

Lately I've been on a Gluten Free, Dairy Free and Sugar Free meal plan. Diet is such an ugly word. I'm doing this more for health reasons and not to lose wight. Hey, if I happen to drop some pounds that is great. There are so many "detox" diets out there. The problem in my opinion is that if you detox for two weeks and then go back to eating pizza and hamburgers you are not really accomplishing anything. Eating healthy has to be a lifestyle change. It is time consuming and can be expensive. If you do not eat all the veggies in your fridge within a week then mostly likely they will go bad. Processed food last longer, is easy and cheap. The bad thing is processed food is not living food. It is not full of vitamins and minerals. I have to be honest, I cheat on my meal plan. Sometimes I want to have a burger or a slice of pie. If I cheat, it better be good, like an Angus burger or a pizza cooked on a wood burning stove. Ok, I'll get off my soapbox.

Mixed Green Salad:

I head of red leaf lettuce, washed and shredded
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons unsalted sunflower seeds
1/4 cup cherry tomatoes
1/2 avocado, sliced

Lemon Tahini Dressing:

1 tablespoon tahini
juice of 2 lemons
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil

 Mix ingredients together in a small bowl and drizzle over the salad. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Grilled Edamame with Sea Salt

I'll never turn down a bowl of Edamame. In fact, I can make a whole bowl of it disappear pretty darn fast at a sushi restaurant. There is something about grilling it that takes it to a sublime level. It brings out a smokey and earthiness flavor in the beans. I grilled my mine on a stove top grill. If you decided to try this on a traditional grill, I highly suggest that you use a veggie basket. You don't want all your lovely edamame to end up on the bottom of your grill. 

Grilled Edamame:
1 package of edamame 
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt

Cook edamame according to the directions on the package. Add edamame to a bowl and pour in the olive oil. Toss beans until they are completely covered in the oil. On a stove top grill, cook until grill marks appear, turning several times. Sprinkle with sea salt when you are ready to serve.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Shrimp Po' Boys

You know what happens when you watch Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives late at night? You start to crave some random meal. At least that is what happened to me after watching some episode where they were making mouth watering Shrimp Po' Boys. My first thought is, OMG! I have to make Shrimp Po' boys NOW. I don't care if it is 12:00 in the morning. For me the key to a good Shrimp Po' Boy is having fresh shrimp (I try to only purchase shrimp when it is in season. Why yes, I am a food snob). You also have to have amazing fresh, soft bread and top it off with some homegrown tomatoes. Cajun tarter sauce is also a requirement in my book. 

Shrimp Po' Boys:

1 small container Buttermilk
1 Tablespoon Tabasco  
1 pound fresh Gulf shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup flour
Cajun seasonings
1/4 cup canola oil for frying
french bread
iceberg lettuce, shredded
tomatoes, sliced
Cajun tarter sauce


Peel and devein shrimp. In a large bowl, combine buttermilk and Tabasco. Add in shrimp. Place in fridge for 2 hours. 
Place a large frying skillet on medium high heat on the stove. Add in Canola oil. Combine cornmeal and flour.  Dredge shrimp and add them to the skillet. Cook about 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until they are golden brown. If all the shrimp do not fit into your skillet, then fry in batches. 

After the shrimp have finished cooking, remove them from the skillet and place them on a plate lined with a paper towel. Dust them with Cajun seasonings. 

Cajun Tater Sauce:

1 1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons Wickles or pickle relish
1 Tablespoon grainy mustard
1 tablespoon green onion
1 teaspoon lemon juice
salt and pepper 

Place all ingredients into a bowl and mix well.

To prepare the Shrimp Po' boys, cut the french bread into 4 pieces. Spread Cajun tarter sauce onto bread, add shredded lettuce, shrimp and tomatoes.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Organic Gardening and Growing your own food

We are fortunate to have a huge backyard at our new home. When we moved in we decided to dedicate one side yard for a garden. I've always wanted to grow veggies and herbs. Our plants are planted in raised beds in a compost blend (New Earth) and are watered by a drip line irrigation system that my husband installed. If you are gardening in Texas, raised beds are a must. Our soil is mostly caliche, which basically means you are digging in rock. Watering is definitely a must here as well. We can go for days with 100 degree temperatures.  

Here are some pros and cons to growing your own food:


*Bugs* If you are planning on a Organic garden you must realize that there are lots of little creatures that will find your garden tasty. We have not used any chemicals on our garden at all and just let nature take its course. I'm sure your local garden center has many organic products that are available and would be happy to advise you. After squash bugs almost demolished all our squash, I realized I'm probably going to have to cover my new plants next year. 

*Weather* Luckily, we have not had a huge hail storm this year...knock on wood. I have seen what one of these storms will do to tomato plants and it is not pretty.


*Convenience* There is nothing better than being able to walk outside and pick fresh herbs for a dish I'm going to making. 

*It is Economical* Have you seen the price of herbs? I usually pay $3.99 for a fresh herbs and end up throwing half of them away since I just need a few. 

*Bragging Rights* I'm picturing a conversation along the lines of.....

YOUR Friends or Family: WOW, _______________(insert your name here) This is the best salad I've ever had.

YOU: Thanks. I just made it with some fresh herbs and lettuce I picked from my garden. 

YOUR Friends or Family. WOW, _________________(insert your name here) You are such a food snob! 

As you can see the pros way out number the cons. I promise this blog will not turn into a gardening blog, however if you would like to see more of my garden, please visit my gardening blog at Rambling Wren.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Tuna Salad in Avocado Shells

Since the temperatures are now in the high 90's and expected to climb into the 100's this coming week, I haven't wanted to venture near the stove. This tuna salad stuffed in avocado shells is the perfect meal for a hot summer day. Seems everybody has their favorite way of preparing tuna salad. Mine has celery for texture, some dill for flavor and a few capers for tartness. You could definitely substitute the tuna for chicken if you are not a tuna salad fan.

Tuna Salad:

1 5 oz. canned Albacore tuna packed in olive oil
2 celery stalks, diced
2 green onions, diced
2 tablespoons parsley, diced
1 tablespoon dried or fresh dill
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon capers
salt and pepper 
 1 heaping tablespoon of mayonnaise
1 large avocado 

To prepare, drain tuna and place in a large bowl. Combine the rest of the ingredients and mix well.  Cut the avocado in half, remove pit and peel. Spoon the salad in the avocado shells. 


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Roasted Poblano Soup

Today I'm so excited to be guest posting on Wendy's fantastic food blog The Weekend Gourmet. It has been a pleasure following her blog and getting to know her. The recipe I'm sharing today is Roasted Poblano Soup. The first time I had this soup was at a neighborhood soup and salad place. I was hooked immediately. It is creamy, with a hint of heat from the peppers. The grilled corn and cherry tomato garnish gives it some texture and makes the flavors pop. We tend to like our food HOT down here in Texas, so you may want to check the level of heat in the peppers before you add them to the soup. Usually I will make a generous portion of this soup and then have it for lunch during the week. It pairs nicely with some quesadillas or a nice green salad.

Roasted Poblano Soup:

2 medium poblano peppers 
2 russet potatoes, peeled, diced and boiled until fork tender
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 small head of fresh spinach, washed and well drained 
 ( you could also 1 cup of frozen spinach, thawed and well drained)
1 cup of cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup half-and-half
4 small fresh corn cobs, grilled and kernels removed from the cob
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon of salt and pepper
Fresh cherry tomatoes, roasted corn and Queso Panella for garnish


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash poblano peppers and rub them with olive oil. Place them on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately place them in a brown paper bag. Let them sit for 10-15 minutes. Once peppers have cooled, remove skins and set aside. 

In a large soup pot, add onions and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes. Add in spinach and cook until wilted. Add cooked potatoes, roasted poblano peppers, cilantro, half-and-half and puree in a food processor or with a hand held mixer. Season with salt and pepper. 

Garnish soup with fresh grilled corn kernels, cherry tomatoes and cheese.


Monday, June 4, 2012

Cherry Mojitos

I love when cherries are in season. They are perfect in a pie, drink or just all by themselves. After working in the garden in this blazing Texas heat, I need something to cool me down. These Cherry Mojitos are just the ticket. Mojitos are typically made with mint, lime, sugar and rum. I had a ton of mint in the garden that was getting out of hand, so I picked it with this drink in mind. A cocktail in the middle of the afternoon? Hey, it's 5 o'clock somewhere! 

Cherry Mojitos:

1/2 bag of fresh cherries, pitted and stems removed
1/2 cup fresh mint, stems removed
4 tablespoons sugar
juice of 4 limes
4 ounces rum (I used coconut)
1/2 bottle of sparkling water or tonic water

In a large glass or pitcher, add fresh mint leaves, cherries, sugar and lime juice. Use a muddler or the back of a spoon, to mash cherries and mint leaves together. Pour liquid through a strainer into a glass. Add rum and sparking water. Garnish with lime, mint leaves and cherries.


This recipe will make approximately 2 drinks.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Cookbook Wish List

I read cookbooks like most people read novels. I just really enjoy picking up a cookbook and looking at it over and over again. Of course, I have my favorites. Some are just more loved and worn out than others. For me, relaxing means curling up on the couch with a stack of my favorite cookbooks and dreaming about what I'm going to make next.

My Cookbook Wish List:

This book hasn't even been released yet, but I know I want to read it. I've followed the Smitten Kitchen blog for a while now. Always amazed at the photography.

The release date for this book is October 30, 2012. I have almost all of Ina Garten's cookbooks. I swear if I had to pick just ONE chef on Food Network to cook for me, it would be Ina. She is my Julia Child.

I know this is a little far fetched since this cookbook retails at $450, however if money was no object, I would definitely buy this set. It looks like a piece of art just sitting on a shelf.

If this cookbook is anything like their spaghetti sauce, then it will be fabulous. Italian food on the grill seems interesting.

What cookbooks have you picked up recently? Have any favorites?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Tuscan White Bean Dip

A favorite Italian restaurant of mine called Paesanos serves this dip as a starter before your meal along with bread and olives. I'm usually so busy gorging myself on the dip that by the time my meal comes I'm not even hungry. I have no idea what their recipe is so I had to invent my own. I have to say it comes pretty darn close. It is luscious, creamy and delicious.

Tuscan White Bean Dip:
1 15 oz Cannellini white beans
1/4 cup garlic, rosemary and red chili infused olive oil 
(you can make this by following the recipe here or buy an infused oil at the store)
1 tablespoon sundried tomatoes
salt & pepper to taste

Drain beans and place them in a food processor. Add in the sundried tomatoes,infused olive oil, salt & pepper and puree. 

*** I served this with Naan bread, which I cut into 1 inch strips, brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with smoked paprika, black sesame seeds, cumin seeds, caraway seeds and broiled in the oven until golden brown. For a gluten free alternative, you could serve it with sliced veggies. ***

Note: I use generous amount of olive oil to get a smooth consistency in my dip. If you like your dip to be bit more chunky, just scale back on the oil.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

I recently picked up a fabulous Italian cookbook at the used bookstore the other day that had a recipe for homemade ricotta cheese or as Giada likes to call it, "Ree-Coat-ah". My husband and I were intrigued with the idea of making cheese and were curious how it would taste compared to a store bought one. Well...I can tell was delicious! The texture is creamy and it taste fresher than store bought. The best part is it doesn't take that long to make. The homemade ricotta was a great accompaniment for this salad which included sundried tomatoes, capers, red onion and romaine lettuce. 

For more cheese making posts, check out Maggie's blog Notes from Maggie's farm. For those of you who are lucky enough to live close to Austin, Maggie is offering cheese making classes this fall. For a preview, click here.


Homemade Ricotta:

4 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed, strained lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
**cheesecloth for straining**


Pour milk, cream, lemon juice, and salt in a small heavy-bottomed stainless steel saucepan. Do not stir and bring to a boil. Turn off heat, set the saucepan aside until mixture has cooled (about 5 -10 minutes). Line a strainer or colander  with cheesecloth and place it in the sink. Gently scoop up the curds out of the saucepan and place in the strainer to drain. You can use the ricotta while it is still warm or you can place the cheesecloth filled with cheese over a bowl to drain and store in the fridge for 2 days. 

Makes approx. 8 ounces. 
Adapted recipe from a fabulous used Italian cookbook.

Note: I would double or triple the recipe. Our cheese went pretty fast!


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Crab Cakes with Remoulade Sauce

Crab Cakes with  Remoulade Sauce served over a bed of Arugula.

When I asked my Mom what she wanted for Mother's Day she said my crab cake recipe. No Joke! I feel bad that I've been hesitant to share this recipe with her. There are two reasons I've been so reluctant. First of all, I hardly ever follow a recipe and although I have a general idea of how to make them, I don't have exact measurements. Secondly, it is kinda nice to finally have something I can make for her. A recipe that she actually has to ask me for. This post is for you Mom. Now you have my secret crab cake recipe. To the best of my knowledge...

Crab Cakes:

2 containers of 16 oz. lump fresh crab
1 small carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1/2 small red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
1 teaspoon dried dill
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco
2 egg whites
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
 clarified butter for frying


Add all the ingredients together in a large bowl, mixing with your hands or a large spoon. Gently  scoop up the mixture and form into patties. I usually roll mine into a ball and then press them down into patties. If the mixture is not sticking together, add more mayo. If the mixture is too wet, add more panko breadcrumbs until the patties hold together. Coat the patties with Panko before frying.

In a large skillet, over medium heat, add clarified butter. When the butter is hot, add patties, spacing them evenly in the pan. When the patties have turned golden brown on one side, flip them and continue to cook them. This should only take a couple of minutes, depending on how hot your skillet is. 

Place patties on a large plate lined with paper towels. 

Remoulade Sauce:

1 cup mayonnaise
4 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce 
2 tablespoons chives, chopped
1 tablespoon capers 
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in a together in a bowl. 


Saturday, May 5, 2012

Happy Cinco de Mayo & Cookbook Winner

{via yospeakespanol}

Hope everybody is having a great May 5th. The winner of the Texas on the Plate cookbook giveaway is John @ Yay! **Throws confetti** Congratulations! A big thank you to everybody that entered.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Blueberry Lemon Brownies


Just like fellow Texas food blogger Mary at Food Joy, I have a tendency to want to add lemon to everything this time of year. When I came across this recipe at Cooking Classy, it was calling my name and saying things like, "Bake me. You know you want to. I promise you won't regret it." By now I'm sure you are well aware of my baking phobia. Well, this dessert definitely helped me overcome it. This brownie was unlike any I've ever had. It was moist, with a more cake like texture than a crumbly cupcake or a dense brownie. All I can say is it was delicious! I'm definitely planning on making it again, but next time I'm doubling the recipe. 

*Recipe adapted from Cooking Classy

 Blueberry Lemon Brownies:

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
3/4 cup granulated sugar
6 Tbsp. butter, softened
1/4 cup sour cream
1 Tsp lemon juice (the juice of about 1/2 lemon)
3 tsp. lemon zest (the zest of about 1 1/2 lemons)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup frozen or fresh blueberries
1 recipe white chocolate glaze, recipe follows


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt, set aside. In a large mixing bowl, using an electric hand mixer, beat egg and egg yolks on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add in sugar, butter, sour cream, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla, mix until well blended. Add in dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated. Fold in blueberries. Pour mixture into a buttered 8 x 8 baking dish and spread into an even layer. Bake 30-34 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. (I used frozen blueberries, and cooked mine for 33 minutes). Allow Brownies to cool completely, then pour the white chocolate glaze over top and spread over evenly. You can freeze bars for 10-15 minutes after baking for quicker glazing.

White Chocolate Glaze:

1 cup white chocolate chips, or 6 oz. chopped white chocolate
3 Tbsp. half and half


Melt chocolate by tempering it on the stove. Add in half and half and stir together until completely incorporated. 

**Recipe yields approx. 6 brownies**
**Note: I doubled the glaze recipe from the original recipe.**


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Viva Fiesta and Cookbook Giveaway!

Fiesta is in full swing here in San Antonio, TX. There are lots of great events, food and partying. I must be in the Fiesta spirit because I seem to be eating a lot of Mexican food lately. One of my favorite dishes to make is Shredded Chicken Tacos with Pasilla de Oaxaca Chili Sauce. I'm so enamored with this dish that I made it three times in one week. The dish is so easy to make thanks to the Texas on the Plate Pasilla de Oaxaca Chili sauce. All I do is boil and shred the chicken, add the sauce and look like a rock star.

Terry Thompson-Anderson is the visionary behind the Texas on the Plate cookbook. She has an impressive culinary resume and a love affair with the diversity of Texas cooking. She has written several cookbooks, is a member of Les Dames D' Escoffer International and is a popular culinary instructor. Looking at her cookbook you get the sense of what makes Texas food great. It is the blending of different cultures along with local ingredients. The Lone Star state has it all.

To enter the Texas on the Plate cookbook giveaway, visit the Texas on the Plate   website, and in the comment section, please let me know what products interest you. Secondly, become a follower of The Chickpea Chickadee blog. Entries will be accepted until Sunday, April 29th at 11:59 pm. The winner will be announced Saturday, May 5th. Good Luck!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tortilla Soup


I love a fabulous bowl of tortilla soup and there are plenty of places to get one in my hometown of San Antonio, TX. Many places serve variations of this soup which includes with tomatoes or without. I have to admit, I like mine with diced tomatoes. Making tortilla soup without tomatoes doesn't seem right to me. I'm all about the garnishes when it comes to this soup. Large slices of avocado, crumbled or shredded cheese and fried tortilla strips takes this soup over the top. This is my version of this classic soup.

Tortilla Soup:

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 small onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 4 oz can diced green chilies
1 teaspoon of cumin, mexican oregano and ancho chili powder 
(You can substitute oregano for mexican oregano and chili powder for ancho chili powder)
4 cups chicken broth
1 14.5 oz can of fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon cilantro, diced
4 small baked chicken breast, diced
fried corn tortilla strips or a handful of tortilla chips
1 avocado, sliced
Queso Panela (you can substitute Monterey jack cheese)

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil. Add garlic and onion, cooking until translucent. Add in bell pepper and green chilies. Cook 4 minutes. Add in spices and mix well.  Add in tomatoes and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Add in diced chicken and cilantro and cook for another 10-15 minutes. Garnish with tortilla strips, cilantro and cheese.