Chicken Tortilla Soup

When it comes to Tortilla soup, there isn’t a right way or a wrong way to make it. You like what you like and as the master of your own kitchen, you get to decide how you want it. Tomatoeyy, creamyy, brothyy, chunkyy. I personally like a silky broth with bits of chicken and then topped with avocado, tortilla strips and cilantro. So that is what is what we have here.

I took a can of diced tomatoes, 3 garlic cloves diced, one small onion diced, and a diced serrano chili, and heated them in a pan with some olive oil. Once they were glistening like you are bathing in the Mexican sun, I tossed them into a blender, added 2 corn tortillas and 2 cups of chicken broth and pureed until smooth. I poured the blender mixture into my dutch oven over medium high heat. Next, I added 2 tablespoon of taco seasoning, and one more cup of chicken broth. I let that hang out for a few minutes and then threw in about 1 1/2 cup of shredded rotisserie chicken and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. The key is to keep tasting the soup as it cooks. Does it need salt, spice, acid? You are the only one who can answer that.

I added a tablespoon of sour cream and a 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro. Then I tasted it again for seasoning.

If you like what you have, ladle into bowls and garnish with avocado, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips, cilantro, a squeeze of lime and jalapeños if you like it spicy!

It’s good, multiple meals worthy of good. For someone who doesn’t love leftovers (raises hand), this one is solid.

Twisty Pig

I don’t know why twisting bacon before cooking it changes the flavor and the texture, but it does and it’s delicious.

If you sprinkle some brown sugar on the bacon before cooking, you’ll never want bacon any other way again.

I actually made a little mixture of brown sugar, nutmeg, garlic powder and cayenne pepper then slightly dredged each piece of bacon in that seasoning before twisting. We may or may not have had this two nights in a row, paired with burrata and arugula.

We had a family day at the Galaxy game. We’ve been spoiled with amazing seats the last few times we’ve gone. I don’t know how we are going to adjust to going back to regular old seating.

Are anyone else’s children hooked on Turning Red? Ours are obsessed with one of the songs, they get home from school and go up to their rooms and belt it out. It’s also shower material. One minute it was all about Bruno and now it’s 4 town and birthday party decor.

I can appreciate a movie about PMS and a girls first period. Especially with a house full of females. Sigh, good times ahead.

The older two girls had a school field trip to the Opera. The school busses took them downtown to the Civic Center to see Romeo and Juliet in Italian. There were english subtitles so the kids could follow along. They were dropped off at school around 4:30 and didn’t get home until 10:00. It was a new experience for them and they had a great time. I can’t believe how old they are getting.

We wrapped up the week with an amazing USMNT game, a 5-1 win! The girls broke in the S’mores maker a couple of times, and we watched parts of the Academy Awards.

Did it win? We didn’t get that far.

Food and Music

I made a Thai Branzino recipe the other night and the results were so worth dicing 15 cloves of garlic.

The girls and I ran into our 99 Ranch Market for the fish, shrimp chips, pocky and green tea cookies… oh and a papaya that no one will touch but me. They don’t know what they’re missing.

I also found these rice crackers. I don’t know what they are called but from the picture we can guess.

I bought a variety pack for the girls, Shayne was the only taker and she loved them so we bought more.
This flavor (let’s call it chili) is really good. Not too spicy, sort of sweet….like a sweet and soy flavor with a tad of spice. Long story short, I need to buy more, I may have eaten them while the girls slept.

I also jumped on Dave Matthews Band tickets that went on sale Sunday, no hesitation. That is exciting, so very exciting. Kaili said that she wanted to go with us. I told her, the day she actually wants to listen to DMB, I’ll gladly take her to a concert. Then she followed up by asking me to take her to see BTS. The time is coming that we will be taking our tweens to a concert, what happened to these babies?

Speaking of music, I heard this song for the first time since, well before I had those babies, I am sure. I love Jason Mraz, I used to listen to this album every day.

Gouda and I watched the USWNT team win the She Believes Cup, and then the Galaxy won their season home opener.

Exciting soccer season ahead of us, I can’t believe it’s World Cup year. We are definitely wanting to watch a match in Vegas from the new downtown sports casino, who’s in?

Nerve Endings

It’s been over a year of not going to a park, playground or anywhere inside for that matter. Spending most warm weekends at the beach, the girls have finally realized that when we tell them that the ocean water is cold, they tend to believe us. Our pool finally opened and although we warned them that the water is going to be ice, they wanted to go with the boogie boards instead of the beach. Fast forward an hour, both Kaili and Averi were shivering while Shayne was still swimming and at that moment we wished for a playmate that also didn’t have nerve endings.

April 12th will go down in the books as the best day of 2021 as all of the girls finally went back on to campus for school. Almost 400 days you guys, sigh!

We celebrated back to school night with a mushroom galette and sticky rice with mango.

If you are one of those “I don’t like mushrooms” then I am sorry because this recipe was so DELICIOUS.

For dessert, I made sticky rice with mango. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like this dish, do you?

If you can, I suggest trying New York Times recipe but they are picky with what content they give out without an account…sigh. Otherwise, just grab a recipe and make sure you have ripe mango’s, coconut milk and the right glutinous rice. Then you are set!

I am currently simmering a Tikka Masala, stay tuned!

Cooking with Kids {Basic Pizza Dough}

I love cooking with kids, my mom cooked with me, I cooked in my classroom and my two girls have been in the kitchen with me from early on. Now I am not going to say it’s easy, cooking with children. What’s easy is taking a picture of your child cracking an egg and then once the picture is taken it’s like “okay, you’re getting it all over, get out!” Am I right? The key is to go in knowing it is going to be messy and if you have multiple kiddos then there is always going to be a fight. BUT, it’s good for them, good for their brain and if you have your wine glass full, a little easier on you!

Kaili picked a pizza dough recipe out of her cookbook and read me the ingredients.

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INGREDIENTS

1 cup water

1 package yeast

2 tbs olive oil plus 1 more for the bowl

2 tbs sugar

3 cups flour

1 tsp salt

Combine sugar, water and yeast in a measuring cup or small bowl.

Combine flour and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the center.

Pour yeast mixture and oil in well and stir into dry ingredients until you have a soft dough.

If dough is too sticky, add a bit more flour.

Knead until smooth on a lightly floured surface.

Place in an oiled bowl, cover with a towel and let rise until doubled.

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How simple is that? Now the hardest part is a toss up between the clean up or the refereeing.—> Take a big sip of wine!

Once I put the dough on a hot baking sheet, they slathered on store bought pizza sauce {it was a weeknight meal y’all} and cheese. Anything else in their mind is “gross”. Side eye.

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And voila! A cheese pizza that they both ate and didn’t kill each other over!

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The Wedge

Part of me was embarrassed to admit that I have never made a wedge salad before. But another part of me was like, ‘girl, you’ve been making a deconstructed wedge salad for years’…so I am good with this realization. Shane is a consistent orderer of the wedge salad, me, not so much. When I decided to make it, I really didn’t know what it truly consisted of, aside from Iceberg lettuce, blue cheese and bacon…really what else do you need?

After some minimally intense research, I found that I didn’t know the extent you could take the wedge salad to. Breadcrumbs, onions, tomatoes and it doesn’t end there. In reality you can add pretty much anything you want, eggs, avocados, chorizo, dried fruit, we could take this to a whole new level. However staying true to the wedge salad lovers, this is what I did and would do again and again.

*Salting the tomatoes drains excess water, saving your salad to have runny tomato juices throughout.

*Quick pickling the onions helps cut down the sharpness and allowing a more fresher flavor.

*I didn’t make my own blue cheese dressing, I always have some decent store bought in my fridge. Add a little milk to the pre-made dressing to lighten it up just a tad, this helps it spoon over the lettuce perfectly.

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Ingredients

2 small tomatoes, diced

Kosher salt

1 small red onion, minced

White wine vinegar, for soaking onion

4 ounces chopped bacon

2 ounces fresh bread crumbs (about 1/2 cup)

4 Tablespoons crumbled blue cheese

1 head iceberg lettuce, outer leaves discarded and quartered through core so that each quarter holds together

Directions

Set a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and add diced tomatoes. Sprinkle liberally with salt, and toss to combine. In a small bowl, add onion and pour enough vinegar on top to cover. Let tomatoes and onions stand while you prep the other ingredients.

In a small skillet, cook bacon over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until crisped, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. You should have about 2 tablespoons rendered fat in the skillet. Add bread crumbs and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until browned and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and season liberally with salt and pepper.

Arrange lettuce wedges on plates and spoon dressing on each. Drain quick-pickled onions and sprinkle all over salads, along with drained tomatoes, bacon, toasted bread crumbs and blue cheese.

Serve and enjoy.

*Recipe adapted from Serious Eats

Skinny Peanut Zoodles

I am pretty sure I can eat a spicy peanut sauce on anything, maybe even bathe in it. I used to make peanut noodles once a week for dinner just for myself. Now thanks to the spiralizer I can make them with veg and save myself the carbs.

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Ingredients

3 Zucchini or yellow squash sprialized

1 carrot sprialized

2 Tbsp Coconut oil

1 Onion, chopped

1 chopped Chilli or crushed red pepper

2 heaping Tbsp Peanut butter

1 can Coconut milk

splash of Fish sauce

 

Directions

Heat the coconut oil in a large frying pan. Add your chopped chilli, chopped onion and fry until soft.

Add your peanut butter, followed by coconut milk and fish sauce. Stir until all combined and creamy on a low heat.

Add your zoodles and stir just until they are warmed through. Don’t over cook them, we don’t want them soft.

Serve with a spritz of lime just and cilantro. This would be good with soba or linguine noodles if you don’t want to bother with the veggie noodles.

 

 

Sicilian for a Day

I took my first Sur La Table cooking class last weekend. The theme was exploring Sicily which is one place in Italy I have not been. There were six of us in the kitchen and it started out with our chef walking us through the footprint of the class.

After a brief introduction and a quick knife skill refresh for some (obviously not me because I am amazing) we started on our first course.

Caponata, the Sicilian sweet and salty version of ratatouille. The longer it sits the better it gets. Served on a toasted baguette with a drizzle of olive oil, it makes a wonderful starter.

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Second course was a Fennel and cara cara orange Insalata, now I am pretty sure those oranges are not Italian but…..I kept my mouth shut.  Raw fennel isn’t my favorite, I much prefer fennel seeds, but this salad shined.

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The main course was grilled hanger steak with castelvetrano olive tapenade. The castelvetrano olives are Sicily’s most used bright green snacking olive. It has a meaty, buttery and mild flavor, absolutely delish.

We marinated the steak in olive oil, lemon, garlic, fresh herbs and red pepper. Showered it with flaky sea salt and then grilled to our liking, rare obviously.

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The tapenade started with poaching some garlic in olive oil and then we sat it aside to cool. The olives, capers, anchovies, lemon and red wine vinegar all got to know each other in the food processor. Just enough to marry the flavors but still have some texture. It paired very nicely with the grilled steak.

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Dessert was Cannoli tartlets and we actually started them early in the class. We made a basic pastry crust with the addition of some marsala wine. It hung out in the fridge for a half of an hour before we rolled out the dough and cut into small circles and then pressed them into a muffin tin. They baked for about 20 minutes until golden brown and firm.

The filling for the tartlets was a delicious mixture of mascarpone cheese, ricotta, vanilla bean paste, zest of an orange and powdered sugar all whisked together until combined.

The filling was spooned into the tartlet shells and then we sprinkled chopped dark chocolate pieces and pistachios on top. It was very tasty.

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It was a really fun class and I am looking forward to taking another one soon. At the end of class our chef asked me if I was a spy for the Food Network, I asked her why she thought that and she said it’s because my knife skills were great. Insert told you so.

I have already remade the hanger steak and it might be one of my favorite cuts right now, absolutely buttery and delicious.

 

 

 

New Name

You may or may not have realized that my blog URL and name is now different. I thought since I am no longer trying for a baby it was time I update it. Simply Four, straight forward enough…no?
If you are following me on Feedly, you may have to re-add the blog, not quite sure how that works.

On another note, I made a very delicious soup, right down to the chicken stock. I don’t have an exact recipe for you but I can give you a quick rundown.

Coconut curry thai chicken soup
Coconut curry thai chicken soup

Thai Coconut Curry soup with Chicken

*I made chicken stock from a Rotisserie chicken. I pulled off all the meat and set aside. Cover chicken carcuss with water, throw in some veg, onions/carrots/garlic whatever you have and simmer for an hour. Strain and then set stock aside.

What you will need:

minced garlic 1Tb
grated ginger 1Tb
1 jalapeno minced
juice of 1 lime
1 heaping Tb green curry paste
1 can coconut milk (lite or reg)
1 Tbs. Sugar
1 Tbs. Fish sauce
4 cups chicken broth/stock
cilantro
Cooked rice or rice noodles
cooked chicken, diced or shredded

In large sauce pan heat a little olive oil and saute first 3 ingredients and then add curry paste. Stir in coconut milk, sugar, fish sauce and lime juice, bring to a simmer. Add chicken broth and bring back to simmer for 10-20 minutes. Add chicken, rice, reheat. Serve with lime wedge and cilantro.

*I had about a cup of sticky coconut rice I made a few days earlier, that is what I used and it was delish, added a touch more sweetness.

While the soup was cooking, Kaili was busy working on her Christmas list to Santa. We put it in the mail this morning and now I get to hold this over her head for another month. }Listen up kiddo, Santa is watching you!”
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