Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Week 47: Basil Tomato Soup

The Recipe
(Serves 4 - note to self, make half portion next time!)
2 (14 oz) cans tomatoes with juice (I used one with chili, one with basil and oregano)
1 finely diced bell pepper
3 finely diced carrots
1 finely diced large onion
1 tsp oregano
1 tbsp basil
1 liter chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1dl flour
1 cup parmesan cheese
100g butter
2 cups light cream / half-and-half
150g bacon, chopped (optional)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Add tomatoes, bell pepper, carrots, chicken broth, onions, oregano, basil, and bay leaf to a large slow cooker.

Cover and cook on LOW for 5-7 hours, until flavors are blended and vegetables are soft.

Cook bacon in a skillet until done. Transfer to a plate. Prepare a roux in the same skillet by melting butter and adding flour a bit at a time. Turn the heat down to low and stir constantly until the flour is incorporated in the butter. Slowly stir in 1 cup hot soup. Add half-and-half and another 2 cups and stir until smooth. Add back into the slow cooker, together with the bacon and Parmesan cheese. (NB: this takes longer than expected - about 20min).

Season to taste with salt, pepper and additional basil and oregano if needed.

Cover and cook on LOW for another 30 minutes.

The Verdict
The roux was a bit of a hassle to make, but well worth it, as it added some lovely creaminess to the soup. And the taste was awesome! Definitely worth a repeat. DH enjoyed it too, but said it could use a bit more meat, so I might just double up on the bacon next time.

Also it made the kitchen smell LOVELY all during the day!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Week 46: Baked Chicken Legs

The Recipe
1 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp pepper
chili flakes - not sure how many, but probably somewhere between 1/2-1 tsp
6 chicken drumsticks
~100g butter, melted

Heat oven to 225C.

Mix the first 6 ingredients (flour through chili) in a bowl.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in the microwave in another bowl.

Dip each drumstick into the butter and then into the flour mix to coat. Do this twice to make them extra crisp!

Place the drumsticks in an ovenproof dish and - if relevant - pour the extra butter and flour-mix over.

Bake for 45-50 minutes or until done.

The Verdict
SO GOOD!!! Mind you, there was a LOT of chili, so it would probably have been too hot for some, but I absolutely loved it! And if you're not a fan of heat, you can just leave it out. But for a chili-fan like me? Absolutely yummy! One of the most successful new dishes I've made in a long time, and definitely something I'll be making again. The coating was perhaps not quite crisp enough to be completely perfect, but it came close enough, and the taste couldn't be faulted.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Week 45: Pasta Bake

The Recipe
300g pasta
500g spicy sausage, cut into pieces
~150g spinach
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 cup tomato sauce
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup milk
1 1/4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 190C

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, cook sausage in 1tbsp butter until browned. When almost done, add garlic and cook briefly.

Place the spinach in the bottom of your pasta strainer. When pasta is done, pour pasta and water over the spinach allowing the spinach to wilt slightly.

Add pasta, spinach and tomatoes to the pan together with tomato sauce, yogurt, milk 1 cup of the cheese and spices. Mix well. Pour into oven-proof dish and top with remaining cheese.

Cover dish with foil. Cook for 30 minutes covered and then an additional 10 minutes uncovered.

The Verdict
Slightly boring. There were far too few vegetables, and the spinach turned out weird. If I make this again (rather than just using it for inspiration) I think I'll leave out the spinach and add a couple of bell peppers or a squash (or both!) instead.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Week 44: One Pot Chicken Burrito

The Recipe
450g chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion
1 cup uncooked rice
1 can tomatoes
1 can beans
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
6dl chicken broth
2 cups shredded cheese
Salt and pepper
3 fresh tomatoes

Season diced chicken with 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper.

Sauté onions in 2tbsp olive oil until they start to soften. Add chicken to pan and cook over medium high heat until chicken has started to brown. Move chicken to one side of pan, in the other side of the pan add an additional tablespoon of olive oil and sauté uncooked rice for about 2 minutes or just until some grains start to turn golden brown.

Stir in beans, canned tomatoes, chicken broth, garlic powder, chili powder and cumin. Bring to a simmer, cover and reduce heat to low.

Cook about 20 minutes or until rice is tender.

Season with additional salt and pepper as needed. Sprinkle with cheese and leave for 2-3 minutes until the cheese has melted. Garnish with fresh tomatoes and guacamole.

The Verdict
This sounded awesome, so I was very keen to try it. It tasted okay too, but a bit more bland than I had expected. And when I found myself making excuses to postpone using the leftovers, I figured that this probably wasn't something I should make again. It's not bad - not at all! Just slightly dull.