Monday, January 27, 2014

Southwestern Chicken Slow Cooker Soup

Perfect Pairing:  Toppings!

I am so over winter.  SO over it.  I know, I know, everyone feels the same way if they live in the Midwest or on the East coast.  It has just been brutal this year!   I think it will be May before the foot of solid ice in my yard has a chance to thaw.  I live in constant fear of pipes bursting.  I feel like I am on an obstacle course while driving in Chicago to avoid the thousands of cavernous potholes.

Enough whining.  I really do like to look on the bright side of things!  In winter that means looking forward to warm vacations, cozy nights by the fireplace, binge watching seasons of a new favorite show (Downton Abbey) on Netflix, and warming comfort food.  This Southwestern Slow Cooker Soup totally fits in the last category!

My cousin told me about this recipe and I am so glad she did, it is delicious.  It is also one of the easiest meals I have made in a long time.  You just fill the slow cooker with the ingredients and walk away.  You can even put the chicken in frozen!  I used spicy Ro Tel tomatoes and chipotle chili powder which made my version really spicy.  If you are sensitive to spice you might want to use the mild Ro Tel and cut back on the chili powder.  This makes a big batch so you could cut it in half easily.


This soup just screams for toppings!   I recommend shredded cheese (cheddar or Monterey Jack), green onions, cilantro, Fritos (why do they have to be so good?), and sour cream.

One year ago on Perfecting the Pairing:  Creamy Spaghetti Squash with Fresh Tomato Sauce

Two years ago on Perfecting the Pairing: Blue Cheese Puffs

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Marian's Raspberry Jello Salad

Perfect Pairing: Clear glass bowl

I have never been a big fan of jello salads.  It was kind of like, what’s the point?  Also, they always remind me of Aunt Bethany on National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.  I make an exception for this particular jello salad.  It is special. 

After my grandma passed away my grandpa met, fell in love, and married a wonderful woman, Marian.  We were all so very happy for the both of them.  Marian brought this salad to a family holiday when I was a kid and I LOVED it.  I loved it so much that I asked her for the recipe.  This was probably the first time I ever asked for a recipe and I felt very grown up.  Below is a picture of my original transcription.  My mom still uses this when she makes the salad.

This looks nothing like my handwriting today.  I must have been experimenting.  Also, I was old enough to know how to spell marshmallows, raspberries and package.  No excuse for that.  Nowadays if I want a recipe I just take a picture of it on my phone.  There is something to be said about these handwritten, stained, misspelled versions. 

The base of the salad is raspberry jello, frozen raspberries, and applesauce.  The topping sounds odd at first, sour cream and marshmallows, but it is awesome.  The marshmallows kind of melt in the sour cream and it makes a heavenly topping.  The salad is quite pretty so I suggest showing it off in a clear glass bowl!


One year ago on Perfecting the Pairing: Baked Potato Bar

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Kale, Butternut Squash, and Bacon Breakfast Burritos with Spicy Chipotle Sauce

Perfect Pairing:  Leftover adobo sauce recipes


These were so good.  It was the kind of breakfast that you wanted to eat again for lunch.  The combination of sweet butternut squash, crispy bacon, earthy kale, and spicy sauce was crazy delish. 

These are super filling, and a definite change from your standard breakfast burrito.  It would be easy to double the recipe and serve to a large group for breakfast or brunch.  I would let everyone build their own…. but I would have to put in my two cents in on exactly how I thought they should be made.

Start with your warm tortilla, a good amount of the chipotle sauce, and a scoop of squash roasted with cumin, coriander, and a dash of cayenne.


Top that with some kale that was sautéed in the bacon pan and simple scrambled eggs. Then finish it off with crumbled crispy bacon and fresh green onions.


I’m telling you, these are darn good breakfast food.

The chipotle sauce is made with adobo sauce from a can of chipotles in adobo.  That stuff is spicy so you don’t need much.  You will have a lot leftover.  Good news is that it freezes well, and it is a great ingredient to have on hand.  Here are some ideas on how to use the leftover sauce.


Monday, January 6, 2014

Limoncello Cheesecake Squares

Perfect Pairing: Almond biscotti


Recently I was invited to participate in a cooking club.  I didn’t have to think twice, that sort of thing is totally up my alley.  It is organized by a friendly neighbor I met at a block party.  We spent all of ten minutes together at the party, but I am so glad she thought to include me on this fun activity! 

For each meeting of the cooking club the members are assigned a course and a theme.  The first ever cooking club gathering had an Italian theme, and I was assigned dessert.  I immediately started researching because my knowledge of Italian desserts taps out at tiramisu, and I didn’t want to bring that.  Too obvious, right? 

It just made sense to search through Giada’s library of desserts.  I trust her and love her style of cooking.  I came across this Limoncello Cheesecake recipe and knew it would be perfect. 

Instead of the traditional graham cracker crust this one is made with biscotti.  Brilliant!!  I used Nonni’s original biscotti and it worked really well.  I loved the almond flavor in the crust.  The cheesecake is flavored with lemon zest and limoncello.  I am now in the market for cocktail recipes using limoncello since I have a bottle hanging out in the cabinet.  Another Italian nod is using ricotta in the base. 


I pretty much followed Giada’s recipe, but I do have a few comments.  I made the dessert in an 11x7 inch baking dish rather than a 9x9.  I just thought that seemed really small.  The recipe calls for 8 oz of biscotti.  The Nonni’s comes in 5.52 oz packages, so I bought two.  After some fancy math I ended up using 13 cookies for the crust.  The recipe recommends draining the ricotta.  I did this by letting it hang out in a strainer for about 15 minutes.  It is really important to process the ricotta for a long time in the food processor to remove the grainy texture.  Final note, I used light cream cheese and it was perfect.  Every little bit helps, right?

Everyone at the dinner party loved this recipe.  I will definitely make these again, even if it is not an Italian theme.

One year ago on Perfecting the Pairing:  Arugula and Parmesan Stuffed Potatoes

Two years ago on Perfecting the Pairing:  Cucumber Sandwiches
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