Kari’s Queso

Kari’s Queso

Gooey, Cheesy, Melted Deliciousness

Ooey, Gooey, Cheesy, Melted Deliciousness…with a Kick!!!

Queso.

queso. Queso. QUESO!

This is NOT the recipe for Mexican Cheese Dip.

This is NOT the recipe for Rotel + Velveeta.

This is NOT your average Queso.

This is Queso.  Karified.

And  its ah-mazing.

I could go on and on and on and on and on (do ya get my drift!??!?!) about the absolutely outrageously scrumptiousness of this queso….but I don’t think I could do it justice. I’ll let the pics speak for themselves.

Gather Your Ingredients

Gather Your Ingredients (Blackberry Mint Mojito Optional!)

TIP: If you like a kick, a poblano would be absolute perfection! I only had these on hand, so that’s what I used.  Instead, I added some fresh jalapeño slices at the end to boost the heat!

First, Brown the Sausage

First, Brown Sausage & Drain.

TIP: USE CAST IRON SKILLET

Next, Saute Chopped Onion, Red Pepper & Orange Pepper in Cast Iron

Next, Sauté Onion & Peppers in the same Cast Iron Skillet in the delicious Sausage drippings!

Toss in a couple of diced garlic cloves the last 2-3 minutes of sautéing.

Shred your Cheeses of Choice

Oh, and Shred your Cheeses of Choice

You can use any cheese you’d like that melts nicely.  I think I used Mozzarella, Pepper Jack, and White Cheddar.  You don’t have to use 3 different cheeses, you can just use one!  Experiment around to find what you like! Good Options: Monterey Jack, White Cheddar, Havarti, Manchego, Fontina, Mozzarella, Queso Fresco, Asaigo.  TIP: Remember, if you go with a Stringy Cheese (mozza, queso fresco, etc) I DO recommend mixing it with another Creamier Cheese (havarti, jack, fontina) for a better melthing consistency in the end. No one wants a grainy mess at the end! To be extra safe, you could mix a few ounces of Cream Cheese in with the Veggies so the Queso will melt into creamy deliciousness. I just don’t like a cream cheese in my queso….it kinda feels like cheating! But, it will work if you’re worried about it! TIP: Also, and I can not reiterate this enough: Do NOT use Pre-Shredded Cheese!!! They contain anti-clumping agents that will prevent it from clumping, therefore ruining the texture of your queso! If you’ve had problems with melting cheese in the past, this might be your problem! Gross, right?!?!?!

Next, Layer!!!!

Next, Layer!!!!

Sausage & Veggies, Cheese, Sausage & Veggies, Cheese…..

End with a Cheese Layer

End with a Cheese Layer

Sprinkle some Aleppo Pepper on top!

Sprinkle some Crushed Aleppo Pepper on top and Bake!

TIP: You can also use Chili Powder or Smoked Paprika

Top with Fresh Jalapeños, Fresh Chopped Tomatoes & Cilantro

Top with Fresh Jalapeños, Fresh Chopped Tomatoes & Cilantro

After cooling for a few minutes, I added some more Fresh Cilantro because we love it! If you don't like it, don't add it!!!

After cooling for a few minutes, I added some more Fresh Cilantro because we love it! If you don’t like it, don’t add it!!!

DEVOUR!!!!!

Here's the Hubby going in for a dip!!!!!

Here’s the Hubby going in for a dip!!!!!

I served with Blue Corn Chips.

Kari’s Queso

  • 1 lb Sausage, Browned
  • Red Bell Pepper, Chopped
  • Orange Bell Pepper, Chopped
  • Large Onion, Chopped
  • 2-3 Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • @ 3 Cups Grated Cheese
  • Crushed Aleppo Pepper
  • Fresh Jalapeño, Sliced
  • Handful Fresh Cilantro, Chopped

Grate about 2 1/2- 3 cups of Cheese. Set aside. In Cast Iron Skillet, Brown Sausage. When browned, remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Sauté Peppers and Onion until almost translucent, about 5 mins on Med. Add Garlic and sauté 2-3 mins more. Remove about half of the sautéed veggies.  Add layer of Sausage, then a layer of cheese.  Add another layer of veggies & sausage, then another layer of cheese.  (you can do 2 or 3 layers….it really doesn’t matter…just make sure you are using the same amounts of veggies, sausage & cheese each time!)  Be sure to finish with a layer of cheese.  (any leftover veggies, sausage or cheese make a killer omelet or scrambled eggs the next morning!!!!)  Sprinkle with Crushed Aleppo Pepper and Bake 375 for 10-15 mins.  Be sure to check your Queso and make sure its not overcooked. You just want to MELT THE CHEESES TOGETHER. If you overcook it, it will become stringy!!!! Let it cool only 1-2 mins if not adding any toppings before you dig in.  Let the cheese settle for a minute, but not cool.  If topping with jalapeños, cilantro, and tomatoes, simply top and serve!!!!! ENJOY!

 

www.eatdrinkbe.com

@eatdrinkbeKari

Skinny Roasted Pepper & Garlic Tomato Bisque

Skinny Roasted Pepper & Garlic Tomato Bisque

So, what’s for dinner???  How do you decide? Me, I check out my fresh ingredients. I’ve got Roma Tomatoes, Red Bell Pepper & Orange Bell Pepper, Onions, Garlic….looks like its time for SOUP!!!  Just perfect on a 20 degree day!  I know I always have stock around….simply in the pantry, or homemade and in the freezer.  And, of course, plenty of herbs and spices for a guilt-free flavor booster!!!  So, let’s make a Skinny Tomato Bisque…but let me karify it!

Creamy Healthy Goodness

Creamy Healthy Goodness Full of Vitamins and Flavor!

Alright, let’s get started!

Gather Ingredients

Gather Ingredients

Roma Tomatoes, Red Pepper, Orange Pepper (not pictured: Onion, Garlic & Rosemary)

Other Ingredients

Other Ingredients

Crushed Red Pepper, Bay Leaves, California Citrus Rub, Coarse Crushed Black Pepper, Thyme, Heavy Whipping Cream (not pictured: Stock, Olive Oil & Salt)

Story with the Flavored Olive Oil....My Little helper Princess

Story with the Flavored Olive Oil….My Little helper Princess

Slice Veggies and Drizzle EVOO of choice over.  Season.  Toss to Coat.

Ready To Roast

Ready To Roast

Pop in the Oven.  Roast.

Roasted Goodness

Roasted Goodness

TIP: Roasting brings out the natural sweetness and intensifies flavor.  Try it on many veggies and even fruit!

TIP: Roasting brings out the natural sweetness and intensifies flavor. Try it on many veggies and even fruit!

TIP: Don't leave ANY of the delightful dripping behind!!!

TIP: Don’t leave ANY of the delightful dripping behind!!!

Pour all the Roasted Veggies and juice into a large pot.

TIP: Handheld Immersion Blenders ROCK!

TIP: Handheld Immersion Blenders ROCK!

Add the Stock.  Puree.

Seasonings

Seasonings

Add Spices.  Stir.  Cook 15 Mins.

TIP: Pureeing the Onions gives the soup a natural creamy texture!

TIP: Pureeing the Onions gives the soup a natural creamy texture!

^^^Your Soup should look like this ^^^

Stir In Cream

Stir In Cream

5 mins before Serving stir in Cream.

Garnish However Desired!

Garnish However Desired!

To Garnish I used Local Feta, Organic Black Sesame Seeds, Organic Lemon Verbena & Crushed Red Pepper

Get Creative!!!

Low Fat Cheesy Tomato Croutons

Low Fat Cheesy Tomato Croutons

I also made a twist on the basic grilled cheese sandwich and kicked it up with some fancy croutons!

Turned out REALLY Good!!!

Turned out REALLY Good!!!

I used the leftover LowFat Cheddar Scallion Cream Cheese from my Skinny Jalapeño Poppers.  Rustically spread on Bagel pieces and topped with various tomatoes.  Pop under the Broiler for a few minutes to melt.  yummmmm…..

The Meal is Complete!

TIP: Don’t forget to season the croutons with SeaSalt and Fresh Ground Pepper before serving!

They complement each other perfectly!

Perfectly Light and Delicious!

The Bisque is Perfectly Light and Delicious!

and…

Perfectly Light and Delicious to make

The Rustic Crouton is Simply Sensational!

Simple, yet So Satisfying!

Devour!

The Broiled Fresh Tomatoes are KILLER!

Skinny Roasted Pepper & Garlic Tomato Bisque

  • 12- 15 Organic Roma Tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
  • Organic Red Onion, roughly chopped
  • Organic Yellow Onion, roughly chopped
  • Organic Red Pepper, roughly chopped
  • Organic Orange Pepper, roughly chopped
  • 4-6 Cloves Organic Garlic, peeled
  • 3-5 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary
  • 1 Large Box (32 oz) Organic, Less Sodium Veggie Stock
  • just under 1/3 Cup Organic Heavy Whipping Cream, room temperature
  • 2 Organic Bay Leaves
  • 2 tsp Organic Thyme
  • 1-2 tsp Organic Crushed Red Pepper
  • 1 tsp California Citrus Rub
  • 1/2 tsp Coarse Ground Black Pepper
  • Sea Salt
  • 3-4 TBS EVOO

*Preheat Oven 425.  Slice Tomatoes in Half and Roughly Chop Peppers & Onions.  Put in a large bowl.  Add Fresh Garlic and Rosemary Sprigs.  Drizzle Olive Oil, Sea Salt and Pepper.  Toss to combine.  Spread Out on Roasting Pan.  Roast in Oven 40-50 mins, flipping veggies once.  Roast until brown around the edges (A.K.A. until desired caramelization occurs).

*Carefully Remove Roasted Veggies from Oven.  Remove Rosemary Sprigs.  Pour Veggies and Drippings into Large Pot.  Turn StoveTop to Med.  Add Stock.  Puree using Handheld Immersion Blender (you can use a regular blender as well. Just be careful when putting hot liquids into a blender…be sure to put a towel over the top in case of explosion!!!)  When nice and creamy, add spices and seasonings.   Bay Leaves, Thyme, Crushed Red Pepper, Ground Black Pepper, Salt and Citrus Rub.  Let simmer at least 15 mins, or until needed.  Slowly stir in cream 5 mins before serving.  Garnish as Desired.

Tips, Suggestions & Substitutions:

And, as always, these recipes are COMPLETELY ADAPTABLE!!! From your diet to ingredients…soup is one of those foods you can easily change up!

Don’t care for Rosemary (or simply don’t have it), use the typical flavoring of Basil instead or punch things up with a lemony Thyme.

Don’t have the California Citrus Rub (pepper, lemon & orange peel, garlic, crushed red pepper, parsley, etc) or Milanese Gremolata (notes of: garlic, lemon, parsley & hint of mint) just lying around?!?!?  Which I’m sure you do not, add 1 Organic Lemon juice and zest when adding in the spices to brighten the flavor of the soup!

Use any Tomato you like.  I prefer Roma when roasting and making Tomato Soup because they contain fewer seeds.

Use any Bell Peppers you want!  I suggest using 2…it doesn’t matter if you use Orange, Red or Yellow, which tend to be sweeter, almost fruity.  I would not suggest using Green, as they will be more bitter and change to color of the soup!

Are you watching your diet in a major way?!?!!?  I had just under 1/3 cup of Heavy Whipping Cream leftover, probably about 3 TBS.  That is not a ton of added calories in a whole pot of soup, but you can always substitute Fat Free Cream or Fat Free Half and Half.  If you don’t do dairy, use a Coconut, Nut or Soy Version!  The pureed onions add a natural creaminess, therefore you don’t need to add much cream.  *The difference between Soup and Bisque is Bisque has Heavy Cream.

Simply Peel Garlic Cloves: Lay garlic under a large chefs knife with the flat side facing down.  Smash.  Garlic will pop right out!

One of the most simple substitutions: Stock/Broth. I, personally, adore Pacific and Imagine Brands.  You can use Vegetable, Chicken, Mushroom, etc.  Just know the flavor of the broth/stock will change the outcome of the soup.  I chose Veggie…nice and light, to let the flavors of the fresh roasted veggies sing!

And last but not least, and of utmost importance: The Garnish.  You can let your imagination soar.  From Creamy (Sour Cream, Creme Fraiche, Greek Yogurt) to Cheesy (Feta,Goat, Cheddar, Monterey Jack, etc) to Spicy (Jalapeños, Hot Sauce, Pepperoni, etc) to Fresh (Lemon, Parsley, Basil, Rosemary, Mint, Chives, etc) to Nutty (Sesame Seeds, Pistachios, Pine Nuts, etc) to Simple (a drizzle of good EVOO, flavored or not). * Always Remember: You eat with your eyes first.  Pretty food simply tastes better!  Take the time to garnish.  Adding just a smidgen of cheese at the end instead of to the entire pot of soup really helps cut fat and calories.  You tend to use less!!!

Bon Appétit!

eat.drink.be

Kari

@eatdrinkbeKari

www.eatdrinkbe.com

*COPYCAT* Homemade Japanese Hibachi

*Copycat* Homemade Japanese Hibachi

Copy Cat Japanese Steakhouse

So. Darn. Good.

Kabuki, Benihana, Kobe, Makoto, Fuju, Sakura, Ichiba, Genji…..no matter what the name, it’s still your typical Hibachi Style Restaurant.  We all know and love them.  However, as fun as it is to go and sit around the table with a group, it is NOT fun on your wallet.  That’s why I decided to make my own copycat version.  It is delicious and tastes exactly like the restaurant version, albeit, I did not possess the incredible showmanship of the chefs there.  I had no “onion volcanos”, didn’t make a “sesame street”, and couldn’t flip and spin my spatulas about.  However, I did decide next time I could get a handful of shrimp to cook and try to toss them into the open mouths of my family!!!  But, I’m still not convinced that the hefty price tag at the restaurant is worth the show.  Some nights I’d just rather eat in and save the $$$, especially when you have a family of 4 and can’t fill up an entire table.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2-3 Chicken Breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Mushrooms, sliced
  • Onion, sliced
  • Mung Bean Sprouts
  • Long Grain White or Brown Rice
  • 1 Cup Frozen Mixed Veggies
  • 1 Egg
  • Soy Sauce
  • Teriyaki Sauce
  • Ginger Dressing
  • Yum Yum Sauce
  • GrapesSeed Oil

*I use GrapeSeed Oil because it is a lighter oil with a high cooking temp.

And there you have it.  Simple ingredients and easy to change up as you like.  Swap out the Chicken for Steak or Shrimp, or go all out and use all 3!!!  I combined some sliced Onion with both the Chicken and the Mushrooms when sautéing.  You can add this or leave them plain.  I just love the combo together.  I tried to keep it easy by using about a cup of the organic mixed veggies (peas, carrots, green beans & corn).  It worked fabulously.  I used 2 large skillets.  The first skillet I cooked the chicken and onions, plated, then cooked the mung bean sprouts in the leftover yumminess in the pan.  The second skillet I used for the mushroom & onions, plated, then fried up the egg, then added the frozen veggies, then the rice.  This method was GREAT!!!  Just like the Hibachi Restaurants.

Step 1: Cook the Mushrooms in 1 Skillet and the Chicken in the other one!

Mushrooms & Onions

Mushrooms & Onions

The trick to this is to sauté the onions first in a little bit of GrapeSeed Oil.  Season with salt & pepper. When they start to turn translucent, move them over to the side of the pan.  Next, add the Mushrooms (and a little more oil if needed).  DO NOT TURN THE ‘SHROOMS.  Let them sit for a few minutes to get color.  Resist the urge to move them about the pan!!!!!  After one side is nice and brown, flip them over and mix in the onions so they can all finish cooking and caramelizing together.  Plate ’em up!

Chicken & Onions

Chicken & Onions (this pic was taken about 1/2 way through the cooking…as the marinade seeps out, it will continue to brown and caramelize into heavenly hibachi bites)

I know my Ingredients List says Teriyaki Sauce.  If you have that handy, marinade the chicken in that for a time saver!  It doesn’t get much easier than that.  If I had one of my favorites, Trader Joe’s Soyaki Sauce, I would have marinated the chicken all day in that.  Unfortunately, I was all out.  So much for simple.  So I threw a quick marinade together, and it was bursting with flavor!  Here’s what I used:

Kar-aki Marinade:

  • 3 T Low- Sodium Soy Sauce
  • 2 T Ponzu
  • 1 t Fish Sauce
  • 3 Cloves Smashed Garlic
  • 1 t Ginger
  • 1 Green Onion sliced
  • 1 T Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

I chopped the chicken earlier in the day, popped into a tupperware and just drizzled each ingredient over top.  Then I just put the lid on and shook it up.  I let it marinade all day.  I recommend at least 1 hour to get the flavor in the meat.  Every now and then I would go to the fridge and give it a shake to make sure all the chicken on top was getting some of the love bath as well!

Now, while you have the mushrooms going in one pan, you should have the chicken going as well.  Just drizzle a little oil in the skillet and put in the chicken pieces and onions.  I didn’t just dump the chicken in because I didn’t want to excess marinade or the chunks of garlic and scallions going into the pan.  Sauté until cooked.  Plate it up!

Step 2: Cook the Rice in 1 Skillet and the Sprouts in the other!

Rice, Veggies & Egg

Rice, Veggies & Egg

Cook you rice of choice per the instructions. (Usually 1 cup Rice to 2 cups Water).  I used a Local Long Grain White Rice.  Some recipes say to rinse the rice, some say to toast the rice.  I know Rice, at least for me, is extremely difficult to get right.  We usually always use Brown Rice, but I found this Local Rice and wanted to give it a try.  HOLY MOLY… It actually cooked RIGHT!!!  I couldn’t believe it.  I almost hated to fry it up because it was so light and fluffy.  Here’s what I did.  I diced up about a half of a small onion.  I did NOT rinse the Rice first.  I added a T of GrapeSeed Oil and the diced onion, salt and pepper and sautéed for about a minute.  Then I added 1 Cup of Rice and toasted it for about 2-3 minutes.  Be sure to stir it so the rice won’t burn.  Then I added 2 Cups of Water, 1 T butter and a bit more salt.  Brought it to a boil, covered, then turned the heat to low.  Cooked for about 20-25 mins. DO NOT LIFT THE LID!!!  NOT ONCE!!! NO PEEKING!!! Move off the hot burner and let rest for 5 minutes before lifting the lid.  Fluff with Fork.  TIP: I did the rice first before starting the rest of the meal, that way the rice was ready to go when I was ready to make the fried rice!

Fried Rice

Fried Rice

Making the Fried Rice was super easy with the prepared rice.  First, in the same skillet that the Mushroom and Onions were cooked in, I cracked and egg and fried it up.  Then I tossed in a Cup of the Frozen Mixed Veggies.  Cooked them for a min or so to warm them up.  Then, just added the prepared rice on top and fried it up!  Mix it a few times and then take the Low Sodium Soy Sauce a few turns around the pan.  Toss.  Let cook a minute longer.  If you let the bottom get a little crispy it is so so soooo worth the wait!  Plate up!

Mung Bean Sprouts

Mung Bean Sprouts

After plating the Chicken and Onions, you should still have a little ooey gooey caramelized goodness in the pan.  For the love of food, do NOT get rid of it!  Throw your sprouts into the pan and let them soak all that delicious Kar-aki Sauce, or whatever you may have used.  These only take like a minute to warm up.  You don’t want to overcook them and loose the crunch.  OMG.  I could eat an entire plate of these!!!!  TIP: If you don’t have any delicious drippings left in the pan, just toss the sprouts in and add a tsp of Soy Sauce.

Now, dinner should be all plated up and look just like the restaurant.

IMG_7123IMG_7121

I used 2 bottled sauces  to serve it with.  For the White Sauce, my brother bought me Terry Ho’s Yum Yum Sauce.  It was pretty good.  On its own, it wasn’t exactly like the ones in the restaurant, but when you dipped the rice in it….DELISH!!!  Not bad for a copycat bottled sauce.  For the Ginger Sauce I used Whole Foods Organic Ginger Soy Vinaigrette.  Vegan and only 50 calories per serving (2 T).  This worked out wonderfully and was absolutely amazing on the chicken!!!!

Bon Appétit

Bon Appétit

Like I said, this really is simple to make and so delicious and filling.  It tastes exactly like the restaurant, just a lot lighter on your wallet!!!  To make it easier to make at home,  I did a few copycat cop-outs.  The White Sauce and Ginger Sauce.  So, I am going to try and recreate some of these on my own.  I’ll try and make  a homemade Yum-Yum Sauce and a Ginger Dressing to share with y’all.  I already know how to make the delicious soup….but I’m saving that one for another day!

eat.drink.be

Kari

@eatdrinkbeKari

www.eatdrinkbe.com

Rustic Feta Potato Soup

20131105-120816.jpg

Now that the weather is starting to cool off…..It’s SOUP TIME, Y’all!!!!! One of my favorite times of the year. I love the crisp chill in the air and the tantalizing smell of garlic and onions sautéing wafting throughout the house. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING smells better than that!!! I was going to make a Potato Leek Soup to share with y’all, but I could only find 2 decent leeks at the market. So, I rolled with the punches, as I do a LOT in cooking, and created a Super Delicious, Mouth Watering Rustic Feta Potato Soup. I call it “rustic” because I use lots of fresh veggies and keep the skin on the potatoes. I pretty much always leave the skins on my organic potatoes, not matter what I am making (mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, soup, etc). I like the texture and for the added health benefit that most of the good nutrients are in the potatoes skin. Why take the time to peel them if I enjoy the taste AND its better for me??!?! That would just be silly. But, as always, if you don’t care for it…peel the potatoes….you’re the one that has to eat it! Also, I used a variety of herbs and peppers and onion that I had on hand. Feel free to Use What You Got!!!!The onions and peppers do NOT have to be the exact same ones that I use. If you don’t like heat and spice, leave out the serrano pepper and just use bell or sweet peppers. If you only have onions and no leeks or shallots, thats fine. The wonderful thing about soup is that it is amazingly flexible…….almost impossible to destroy! And, every time you make it, you can change it up and use different veggies and herbs until you find the way you like best. I don’t think ANY of my dishes EVER taste the same. That’s why I could never be a chef….Im NOT consistent at all (and I’ve never been to Culinary School or worked in a kitchen!!!!). But, that’s why I LOVE cooking. The mix-up change-up is always fun and the results are (usually) delicious!

Gather Your Ingredients

Gather Your Ingredients

But, Let’s start with first things first….Pancetta.

Sizzle Sizzle, Baby!!!

Sizzle Sizzle, Baby!!!

First, I sautéed up some diced Pancetta. You could sub bacon with no problem. I figure, what’s a better way to top your soup AND a wonderful grease to sauté your veggies in! I cooked the pancetta for a few minutes, then added in some diced red onion as well. Don’t add in the onion at the beginning bc it will burn before the pancetta is crispy!

Holy Mother of Yumminess

Holy Mother of Yumminess

When it’s ready, with a slotted spoon, place onto a paper towel to drain the excess grease. Be sure to leave as much fat as you can in the pot for the veggies. Then, if you live in my house……you must HIDE THE CRISPY HEAVENLY little bites from the kids and hubby, or by the time the soup is ready it will be gone. Seriously. That’s how good this stuff it. TIP: If you are a vegetarian or simply do not have bacon or pancetta, skip this step and just use a good quality EVOO to sauté the veggies in! No worries. While this heavenly concoction is cooking, prep and dice your veggies of choice. And, be sure to clean your leeks. I’ll show you how.

Sliced Leeks in Water

Sliced Leeks in Water

Leeks contain a ton of dirt and sand and you want to make sure to get all of that grit OUT! There is a pretty simple method to do this. Fill a large bowl with cold water. Thinly slice the leeks using only the bottom white and light green parts. Throw the top stems into the compost! Put the slices into the water and toss with your fingers for a second to separate the pieces. Let them sit for a few minutes. The grit will sink to the bottom of the bowl and the leeks will float on top. Scoop out the leeks and voila, clean leeks! You are ready to go!

Look at the beautiful colors!

Look at the beautiful vibrant colors!

Get your Pancetta fat filled pan and sauté the rainbow of veggies in that deliciousness. Again, use what you got! This is not a normal boring potato soup. I like to include as many veggies as I can for that rustic look and superb flavor. I used carrots, celery, red onion, leeks, and a variety of peppers (serrano, red, poblano, banana). Slice ’em and dice ’em however you like! Sauté over Med-High Heat. Meanwhile, while your veggies are softening, cube your potatoes.

This is how you do it!

This is how you do it!

I like to slice my potatoes in 1 inch thick slices lengthwise. Then I stack them together and slice into 1 inch strips (like you are making french fries), then slice them down into cubes. The above pic shows you 1 lengthwise slice that has been cut into fry lengths, and now being cut into cubes. Does this even make sense!?!? Kinda hard to exlain….so I hope the picture helps you could see how to do it! Make the cubes bigger or smaller if you like, but remember they need to be bits-sized without being too small that they might overcook and fall apart.

Add Garlic and Herb Bouquet

Add Garlic and Herb Bouquet

While you are prepping your potatoes, be sure to stir the veggie pot every once and awhile. By the time your taters are ready, your veggies should be softening and translucent. Add the garlic and herb bouquet garni, and season with Salt and Pepper. For my Bouquet Garni I used Parsley, Thyme and Rosemary. I tied the Parsley and Thyme together with the Rosemary and didn’t have to use kitchen twine. Whatever works for you! Or, you can chop the herbs up and add them like that as well. I wanted some of the flavor to steep into the veggies, but I didn’t want it to overpower the soup. Thats why I used the bouquet garni so I could remove it later on. TIP: Under the garlic you see some leaves. These are celery leaves. I ADORE them. Whenever I’m cooking I ALWAYS include the celery leaves….they have so much flavor!!!! I’m not a superhuge fan of big chunks of celery, so I always dice mine pretty small. The leaves help infuse some of the flavor without the crunch of the celery. Do it, you’ll thank me later. I always try and buy the leafiest celery bunch I can find!

Add your Potatoes and Season!

Add your Potatoes and Season!

Next, add your cubed potatoes and season. I used Dry Mustard, Salt, Pepper and Worcestershire. Mix them in with the veggies and cook for about 10 mins. You don’t want to overcook them or get the mushy. You can also add your liquids here and not sauté the potatoes at all, but for some reason I think it brings out a better more rounded flavor.

ummmmm, yes please!!!!

ummmmm, yes please!!!!

I decided to GO FOR IT. Maybe not so healthy, but it does have a ton of veggies, right?!?!! You can use fat-free Half and Half or some Veg or Chicken Stock instead and just add a little bit of heavy whipping cream. But, I say, if your gonna do it, do it RIGHT!!! I had company coming over and decided to go ALL IN, Baby!!!! TIP: Be sure to take your creams and cheese out of the fridge when you start the soup so that they come to room temperature. You want to take the chill off so when you are adding them to the hot pot, they don’t curdle. You want to drizzle them in slowly and mix constantly as you pour!!!!!

Liquids Ready, now time for the Feta Crumbles!

Liquids Ready, now time for the Feta Crumbles!

Mix in the Half and Half SLOWLY until you are happy with the portion of veggies vs liquids. Let that cook for about 5-10 mins then add in the heavy whipping cream. I did not use all of either of these cartons. Probably 4 cups of half and half and maybe 1/2 to 3/4 of the heavy whipping cream. Then, right before serving, crumble the ENTIRE block of Feta (that’s right….I said it…..use it all cuz company’s coming!!!)

Adjust Seasonings

Adjust Seasonings

Stir and Taste.  Adjust seasonings as needed.  I added some fresh homegrown Thyme and Garlic Chives for a nice pop of color.  And some Fresh Black Pepper.  Depending on the quality of Feta you used, you might or might not need to add more salt.  Some Fetas are SUPER salty, while others are not.  Always adjust at the end before serving.  TIP: I used a Boars Head Feta for the Soup, but used a HIGHER QUALITY Feta for the Topping/Condiment Station.

Topping Station

Topping Station

Sour Cream, Pancetta & Red Onions, Crispy Kale, Scallions & Local Feta.  These were my toppings of choice.  You can use whatever your little heart desires.  I will say the Pancetta was out of this world and took the soup to a whole other level.  And the Crispy Kale was so damn delicious I’m gonna share how to do that with you!

Crispy Kale

Crispy Kale

Put a few handfuls of baby Kale into a large bowl (if you don’t have baby kale, you can sub torn bits of kale or chard as well).  Drizzle a T of EVOO and dash of Salt and Pepper.  Lightly massage with your hands to make sure all the greens are coated.  Spread out on a Baking Sheet (lined with foil so it won’t stick).  Bake 275 or 300 for about 10 mins.  You need to watch it.  Don’t let it overcook and get to where it just crumbles and dissolves.  You want nice, crispy edges.  Then take it out of the oven.  This was perfect around Halloween because it kinda looked like spooky spider webs!!!!

Toppings Galore

Toppings Galore

YUM

YUM

I also served with it a French Bread, sliced in half that I topped one side with a garlic & herb butter and the other side I sprinkled some Monterey Jack Cheese, Scallion & Parsley.  Wrapped it up in foil and threw it in the oven along with the kale.  Ooey Gooey Garlicy Deliciousness.

Rustic Potato Feta Soup

Rustic Potato Feta Soup

Now I will list the basic recipe.  I am going to keep it simple so you can use what you have in the kitchen.  For example, I will list *2 onions* in the recipe when I use 1 red onion and 1 yellow onion.  That way you can make substitutions to your personal taste!!!  I hope that will help simplify it for you!  Also, Never Forget: Your food is only as good as your ingredients…. so use GOOD ONES!!!!  For all of my cooking I use organic whenever possible.  Homegrown and Local is choice for me as well.  The better your ingredients, the tastier your food.  Trust me.  So, while I don’t list ORGANIC in front of each ingredients, its a sure bet thats what I’m using!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3-4 Russet Potatoes
  • 2 Onions
  • 2 Leeks
  • 1 Shallot
  • 2 Handfuls Baby Carrots (or 2-3 Large Carrots)
  • 2-3 Peppers of Choice
  • 1-2 Spicy Peppers of Choice
  • 5 Cloves Garlic (or to taste)
  • 4 Celery Stalks & Leaves
  • Herbs of Choice
  • Feta Cheese
  • 4-6 Cups Half and Half
  • 1/2 – 3/4 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 2 T Dry Mustard
  • 2 T Worcestershire Sauce
  • Scallions
  • Pancetta
  • Kale
  • Sour Cream
  • Evoo, Salt & Fresh Groud Pepper

Chop and sauté Veggies over Med-High Heat for 10-15 mins or until softened.  Add in Garlic & Herbs (bouquet garni) and cook a few mins more.  Add in cubed Potatoes, Dry Mustard, Worcestershire & Salt and Pepper.  Cook about 10 mins more until potatoes are NOT QUITE FORK TENDER. Slowly add in (stock or a beer if you want to be healthier) Half & Half.  Let simmer a bit while it warms.  Stir in Heavy Whipping Cream, which should thicken it up a bit.  Add Crumbled Feta.  Taste.  Adjust Seasonings and add Herbs, Salt, Pepper, etc as needed.  Serve Immediately.  Garnish. DEVOUR.

 

Got Leftovers???

If you are LUCKY enough to have any soup leftover, I have a suggestion for a quick healthy presto-chango.

Green with Envy Potato Soup

and it's really REALLY good

and it’s really REALLY good

Organic Baby Green

Organic Baby Green

Simply reheat your soup on the stove.  Once the soup is warm, add in a handful of baby greens.  I used a mix of kale, spinach & chard.  You can use one or a mixture.

Green With Envy Potato Soup

Green With Envy Potato Soup

Stir to combine and let the greens wilt a bit in the warm soup.  I also did the baby kale in the oven, as shown previously, and used a TON of that for topping.

Garnish as desired

Garnish as desired

Now THATS a spoonful of rich & creamy soup!

Now THATS a spoonful of rich & creamy soup!

So many flavors & textures

So many flavors & textures

lefor

I’m in leftover HEAVEN!!!

so damn good!!!

It doesn’t even taste like the same soup!!!

I hope you make this and enjoy it as much as we did!

eat.drink.be

Kari

@eatdrinkbeKari

www.eatdrinkbe.com

The Simple Indian with Thai Red Curry Sauce

 

 

 

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The Simple Indian with Thai Red Curry Sauce

Gather Ingredients

Organic Cilantro
Organic Red Onion
Organic Carrots
Organic Red Pepper
Organic Snow Peas
Organic Mung Bean Sprouts
Organic Garlic
Organic Lime
Organic Peas

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Secret Ingredient # 1!!! Why I call this dish: The Simple Indian

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Sauté Organic Chicken Thighs in Organic Coconut Oil (or substitute Tofu, etc) Add a Dash of Salt & Pepper. Throw in a garlic clove for good measure! Repeat until all thighs are browned. If cooking more than 3, do in separate batches so chicken will brown evenly. Don’t crowd the pan! Remove from pan and place aside.

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In the pan the Chicken Thighs were cooked in, (so we have all the YUMMY bits in the bottom of the pan!!!!!!!) place the rough chopped onions, red pepper, carrots and lime (cut side down). Sauté a few minutes.

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Remove the Lime! Add minced organic garlic clove, chopped organic cilantro stems and chicken to pan.

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Lime Removed!

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Secret # 1
Add half bottle of TJ’s Thai Red Curry Sauce. Simmer in Secret # 2
Btw. I’ve never used this sauce before. ❤ me some TJ’s…..I’ll let you know what I think!!!

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Secret # 2
The Tagine
Simmer. Simple. Stovetop or Oven. Slow and Low. Will create moist, delicious, tender meat. Seriously. Go buy one, or another type of clay pot. They will change your recipes completely in Indian, African, Middle Eastern, etc cuisine.

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After an hour simmering in the Tagine…

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Remaining Raw Ingredients:
Chopped Organic Cilantro
Sliced Organic Green Onion
Previously Sautéed Limes
MYSTERY PEPPER

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Add a handful of frozen Organic Peas

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Mix in Peas until heated through, just a few minutes.

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I made Organic Whole Wheat Cous Cous to serve with dinner and mixed in about 1/3 cup of the Trader Joes Red Curry Sauce at the end of cooking…right before letting the CousCous sit for a few minutes before serving.

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Top with Fresh Chopped Organic Cilantro before serving. Mix. Serve Immediately. We ❤ cilantro. Use as much or as little as you want.

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Top with more cilantro, scallions and mystery pepper. Squeeze sautéed lime juice overtop….and Dinner Is Served!!!

TIP: You can substitute any protein.  I used Chicken Thighs because they stay moist and meaty!

Eat. Drink. Be

Kari

@eatdrinkbeKari

Dinner Inspiration, a la CHOPPED

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Ok, so I feel like I am living in a Full Time Episode of “Chopped”.  Since we close on our new house this Mon, I am trying to eat as much as possible from our current food selection at the apartment.  We are running low….seriously low.  I had one Spicy & Smokey Chicken Breast leftover from last night.  And I was going to use leftover Mac & Cheese for the kids.  Problem, we couldn’t find the Mac.  I figured Mark had eaten it for lunch, so I was back to the drawing board for the kids.  (we did find it later…..behind the huge water filter.  Lovely.)  So, pancakes it is!  I whipped up my Maple Pancakes super fast with an Egg for Story and an Amish PB Sammy for Dash, on Raisin Toast, of course!!!  And some fresh fruit. (btw….this local Amish PB is TO DIE FOR!!!!  Holy Yummers, ya’ll!!!!!)  Ok, so now, for our Grown Up Dinner, I have a super flavorful Chicken breast, Maple Pancakes…….Eggs……Feta Cheese.  So, here’s whatcha get out of that.  Chopped-Style.

Worcherstirshire Sauce & Coffee

Worcestershire Sauce & Coffee

I knew I had to change up the flavor of the chicken a bit to compliment the Maple Pancakes.  So, first I sliced the chicken and onions and popped them in my cast iron skillet.  This Spicy & Smokey Chicken was packed with so much flavor that I knew I had to enhance it with something pretty strong.  My first thought was worcestershire sauce.  So, some of that went into the skillet.  Then, I thought a bit more….needed something even stronger.  Hummmm…..do I have any leftover coffee in the pot from this morning?  Why yes, yes I do!  Leftover coffee can be utilized in SO MANY WAY!!!  Don’t forget this hidden gem when making sauces, marinades or even baking with chocolate!!!  Amazing enhancer with Chocolate!!!!

3 T Worcestershire Sauce

1/4 Cup Coffee

Then, the Hubby was running late.  I had it thickened and ready to go.  Ok, time for another improvisation!  I thought the flavor of the chicken simmering down was just about perfect with the Maple Pancakes.  So, I hit it with a little bit of the Kona Beer I was drinking!  PERFECT!!!  Won’t let the chicken dry out, but will also compliment the flavors!

Gettin' Happy!!!

Gettin’ Happy!!!

Alright, Alright.  Lookin Good Now!

All I did was Put a Maple Pancake  on the Bottom, Chicken Over, Fried Egg on Top.  Then sprinkled with a little Spicy & Smokey Rub, Feta Cheese & Sunflower Seeds.

Layered it lengthwise so you could see the layers

Plated this one lengthwise so you could see the layers

Plated Normal

Plated Normal

ENJOY!!!

After First Bite.  Egg is PERFECT!!!

After First Bite. Egg is PERFECT!!!

I couldn’t believe how incredibly delicious this turned out!  Mark LOVED it!

Wow!!!  See, sometimes getting creative in the kitchen leads to an amazing meal.

CHOPPED Ain’t Got Nothin’ on This Girl!!!

Spicy & Smokey Chicken Sammy

Spicy & Smokey Chicken Sammy

Caesar w/ Homemade Salt & Pepper Croutons 

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LAST WEEK LIVING IN THE APARTMENT!!! Hopefully the food and pics will get better when we get moved in and settled!  I’ve been using my iPhone for pics and cooking with very little equipment.  Man, I can’t WAIT to move in!!!!  Anywho, this sammy was pretty darn good, and VERY easy to make!  You can also do the chicken and onions on the grill.  Enjoy!

Ingredients Ready!!!

Ingredients Ready!!!

Ingredients:

2 Organic Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, Seasoned with Rub

1 Organic Vidalia Onion, Sliced

4 Organic Garlic Cloves, Whole

Organic EVOO, S&P

Spicy & Smokey Rub:

2 T Organic Chili Powder

1 T Organic Smoked Spanish Paprika

1 T Organic Ground Cumin

1 T Organic Ground Black Pepper

1 T Organic Salt

1/2 T Organic Ground Coriander

1/2 T Organic Garlic Powder

1/4 T Organic Ground Cinnamon

1/4 T Organic Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

Go ahead and season your meat a few hours before cooking.  Add a dash of EVOO and REALLY GET IN THERE!!! Give it a GOOD RUB and don’t be scared to use your hands!!! You can always wash them when your’e done!  Be sure to let the chicken come to room temp (30 mins or so) before cooking.

Lay O

Lay Onions in Skillet, Top with Garlic Clove, EVOO, S&P

Preheat Oven 300 or 325

Place Rubbed Chicken on Onions & Garlic to Roast

Place Rubbed Chicken on Onions & Garlic to Slow Roast

We are going to cook slow and low for a hour, hour and a half or so

MEANWHILE…….Get your bread leftover from last nights supper!

Chop

Cube Local Rustic Wheat Sourdough to make Croutons!

Toss with EVOO and Seasoning of Choice.  I used a combo of:

ORGANIC: Salt, Granulated Garlic, Granulated Onion, Black Pepper, Thyme, Savory, Mustard Powder & White Pepper

Put in Oven and Bake until Crisp.  Turn & Toss Once.  Takes about 15 mins…

Sooooo Good!!!

Sooooo Good!!!

Now, Let’s Check on the Chicken!

Done & DONE!!!

Done & DONE!!!

Nice Blacked Coating and Ridic Onion Jus

Nice Blacked Coating and Ridic Smokey Onion Jus

TIP: Let the Spicy Smokey Chicken Rest for about 5 mins BEFROE slicing!

Slice

Slice

Put on Onion Bun with Lettuce and a Nice Grainy Mustard!

Put on Onion Bun with Lettuce and a Nice Grainy Mustard!

Garlicy Onion & Jus

Garlicy Onion Jus

Top with Organic Munster & Onion Round

Top with Organic Munster & Onion Round

Side View looks DELISH!!!!

Side View looks DELISH!!!!

Enjoy!

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 eat.drink.be Kari

@eatdrinkbeKari

 

Not-Yo-Mama’s Shepherd’s Pie

NOT-YO-MAMA’S

SHEPHERD’S PIE

Fresh Outta the Oven!

Fresh Outta the Oven!

So, it is a SNOWDAY!!! And, I have a few cheeses left over from St. Patrick’s Day (and some organic red potatoes, organic carrots, organic onions & organic parsley).  Thus, Not-Yo-Mama’s Shepherd’s Pie was created!

Don’t forget My Motto:

USE WHATCHA GOT!!!

Prosecco & Snow! Ain't Life Grand?!?!

Prosecco & Snow! Ain’t Life Grand?!?!

Irish Cheddar & Beer Cheese

Irish Cheddar & Beer Cheese

little BUBBLY,

AKA

Mommy’s Little Helper!!!!

NOW, LET’S GET COOKIN!!!

Fresh Ingredients

Fresh Ingredients

Lookin Good!

Lookin Good!

Chop Carrots & Onion

Chop Carrots & Onion

Wash & Prep

Fresh Ingredients

Slice Mushrooms

Dice Onions

Slice Carrots

Mince Garlic

 

 

 

IRISH BUTTER

IRISH BUTTERSoften Irish Butter, Mix in Parsley, Chives, S&P

Another Leftover St. Patty’s Day Creation

Super easy to make, delicious, and versatile!

*Presentation: When I originally made it, I used this ramekin as a mold.

And, remember, when using the herbs:

FRESH IS BEST!!!

Soften Irish ButterAdd herbs of choice (I used parsley, chives, s&p)Mix to combinePut in fridge to set!

Soften Irish Butter
Add herbs of choice (I used parsley, chives, s&p)
Mix to combine
Put in fridge to set!

MEAT MIXTURE:

Melt 2 T butter with a dash of  EVOO

Melt 2 T butter with a dash of EVOO

Add carrots, onions, and seasoned beef

Add carrots, onions, and seasoned beef

Break up beef & add mushrooms

Break up beef & add mushrooms

Brown and Soften Vegs

Brown and Soften Vegs

Add Spices

Add Spices: 4 Cloves Garlic, 1T Dry Mustard, 1T Garlic Powder, 1 T Onion Powder, 2 T Thyme, 1 T Rosemary

Add Beer & 3 T Worch

 

Add 2 T Worcestershire Sauce , 3/4 of a Beer, 2 T Tomato Paste, 2 T Chocolate Balsamic

MIX

MIX

Secret Ingerdient

Secret Ingredient & Flavor Booster!!!

Now, the mixture should look something like this

Now, the mixture should look something like this

Taste.

I thought it was still missing something, so I added:

Prob about 1-2 T of each

Prob about 1-2 T of each

Dijon & Whole Grain Mustard

Dijon & Whole Grain Mustard

Now Add 1 Cup Frozen Organic Peas

Now Add 1 Cup Frozen Organic Peas

Mix and put into greased casserole dish

Mix and put into greased casserole dish (yes, I know, it doesn’t look too appetizing yet…..but it tastes DELISH!!!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

POTATO TIME!!!

Get your Potatoes Boiled & Ingredients Ready

Get your Potatoes Boiled & Ingredients Ready

Irish Cheddar, Beer Cheese, Peppercorn Gouda

Irish Cheddar, Beer Cheese, Peppercorn Gouda

*Homemade Buttermilk: Simply Add 1 T lemon juice to milk and let sit for 5 mins)

I had no butter milk

Horseradish, SourCream, Herbed Irish Butter,     *Homemade ButterMilk, Grated Cheeses

1 Cup ButterMilk

1 Cup Sour Cream

2-4 T Horseradish

1/4 Cup Irish Butter

start mashinAdd All Ingredients into Boiled Potatoes and Mash for a Second

Then Add Cheeses and S & P

Mash until Combined and Creamy

DO NOT OVERMASH! These are RUSTIC!!!!  Leave a little cheese for the top!

DO NOT OVERMASH! These are RUSTIC!!!! Leave a little cheese for the top!

Nice & Creamy! Rustic and keeping the nutrients by leaving the skins ON!

Nice & Creamy! Rustic and keeping the nutrients by leaving the skins ON!

Now, the easy part. Just Top the Meat Mixture with the Smashed Potatoes

Now, the easy part. Just Top the Meat Mixture with the Smashed Potatoes

Cover with Cheese and Bake 350 until brown & bubbly (45 mins to an hour)

Cover with Cheese

WORD TO THE WISE:

Place on a Baking Sheet covered in Foil in case of spillover!

Place on a Baking Sheet covered in Foil in case of spillover!

Bake Until Brown & Bubbly45 mins to an Hours

Bake Until Brown & Bubbly
45 mins to an Hours

Take Out of Oven and Let COOL for 10 Mins before Serving. Top with Fresh Parsley

Take Out of Oven and Let COOL for 10 Mins before Serving. Top with Fresh Parsley

Bon Appetit

Bon Appétit

 

eat.drink.be

@eatdrinkbeKari