\\ MEXICAN CHICKEN SOUP WITH HOMINY AND AVOCADO //

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You might have noticed I cook chicken a lot. Full of Omega 3 fatty acids and other brain vitamins it is NOT, however it is cheap and versatile, and nothing says I love you to your friends and family or yourself than a warm-ass bowl of some kind of chicken soup, as the bright sparking leaves of fall fade quietly to a brown mountain winter.

ANYway, this recipe is cheap, warming, fantastic, and easier than calling the local taco dip for take out.

INGREDIENTS

Chicken (tenderloins, breasts, buncha thighs, whatever cut you like or is reduced for quick sale if you want to save a few bucks)

1 small can hominy

1 small can diced tomatoes

4 cups chicken stock

Red onion, chopped finely

Huge bunch cilantro, ripped up

1 avocado, chopped roughly

1 cup rice

Salt to taste

Juice of one lime, plus more sliced for garnish

Dash hot sauce (brand loyalty time! Whatever you want) (also, optional)

Garlic powder

Cumin

Cayenne

Achiote (ground powder of the Annatto seed, slightly exotic but helpful to have around, for that inimitable Latin flavor)

2 cubanello peppers

1 poblano pepper

Extra virgin olive oil

METHOD

Heat some oil over medium and toss in the chicken, raw. Brown a bit on each side, with a dash of salt. Add the achiote, garlic powder, cumin, cayenne. Dump in canned tomatoes, chopped onion, hominy. Now add the stock and rice and bring it to a boil.

Meanwhile, as you wait for your lovely new soup to boil, grill up those cubanellos and poblano in a dry pan over medium high heat until the skin blisters up. Flake off the skin with the point of a knife, cut off the tops of the peppers, and run the side of the knife down the inside of the peppers to remove the membranes and the seeds. Chop up roughly. Don’t touch your eyes.

When the soup reaches a boil, turn it down way low, add the peppers and the lime juice, and simmer for a half hour.

Turn off the stove and remove the pot from heat. The rice might be a little stiff still, but the internal heat of the soup with continue to cook the rice. The chicken should be crazy tender. I like using tenderloins, as you can fit one or two in a bowl and they fall apart without too much coaxing.

Adjust spices to taste, and add the hot sauce at this point, if you’re using it. If you like a sweeter broth, a dash of cinnamon will do well here, and a more sour style broth would benefit from extra lime. Again, this is your rodeo. Whatever you want, cowboy.

Slice up and add the avocado as well as all the cilantro. If you don’t like cilantro, use flat leaf Italian parsley, or even cut spinach into fine strips. But you should have a greenness to the soup which mellows out the zing from the lime and cayenne.

This is it. It’s ready to eat. If it’s too spicy a dollop of sour cream or plain greek yogurt will cool it down. Serve in giant bowls because it’s really good. I would throw some tortilla strips up on there if you have them, for bonus cool points. But if you don’t, no need to worry, because this soup, as is, is amazing. You’ll love it. Promise.

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\\ PIZZA WITH FALL VEGETABLES (AND MAYBE PROSCIUTTO) //

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This card is from my recipe series of illustrations, which I often draw when I can’t qUITE afford all the lovely groceries I need and want. You may have noticed a pretty strong bend towards thriftiness in Food your Feelings, and drawing food rather than buying it may be the thriftiest move yet. But in this lucky case, I could do both!

So this isn’t really a recipe as much as it is a suggestion of delicious and mostly seasonal ingredients that taste great together. The mix of salty and sweet, cooked and fresh here is unbelievable. And it’s a good way to distract your body from missing summer beach days by introducing awesome fall flavors to it, in pizza form.

INGREDIENTS

Shallots, peeled and sliced thinly

Garlic, peeled and whole

Salt and pepper

Arugula

Balsamic vinegar

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Blue Cheese

Dried figs, as much as you want, chopped roughly

Honey (local if you got it!)

Whole wheat pizza dough (fresh or frozen and thawed, don’t overthink it)

Prosciutto (***OPTIONAL*** pro tip: do it)

METHOD

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pop garlic and shallot in a saute pan with some oil warmed over medium heat. Scoot these around with a pinch of salt for about ten minutes, or until they soften and become sweet. Spread out your dough and scatter the cooked veggies evenly on top of it. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until it is deeply golden and pretty. YOU’RE ALREADY ALMOST DONE!!

While the pizza is baking, chop the dried figs and toss the arugula with the balsamic and oil and a little salt and cracked pepper. If you are adding prosciutto, this would be a good time to chiffonade (remember how to?? If not, see this recipe here: https://dearemilycaulfield.wordpress.com/2013/08/22/awesome-italian-sausage-and-zucchini-calzones-with-the-greatest-homemade-tomato-sauce-in-the-universe/) some up.

When the pizza is all cooked, take it out of the oven and crumble the blue cheese ALL OVER (I mean if you want to, and you probably will). Add the ribbons of prosciutto, drizzle over some honey to taste, and top with arugula salad. BA-BAM!! Enjoy.

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\\ PERFECT AND PRACTICALLY FREE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES //

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These cookies are unbelievable! But that’s not even the best thing about them. The best thing about them is that you already have all the ingredients hanging around in the back of your cupboard and in your candy drawer. They are easy, relatively healthful (or not, but the point is YOU decide), and you can make them in under thirty minutes. And, mercifully, magnificently, they are forgiving. No butter? Use oil! No semi-sweet fancy Swiss chocolate shavings? Grind up some fun size candy bars! Ran out of flour while cooking this recipe? SUBSTITUTE MAPLE CINNAMON INSTANT OATMEAL AND MAKE INSTANT HISTORY.

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1 egg

1/2 cup butter

1/4 cup white sugar

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup instant oatmeal, finely blended so it’s like a coarse flour

1/3 cup chocolate chips, or mini candy bars, blitzed

walnuts or raisins, optional

METHOD

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, cream together the butter with the brown and white sugar until smooth (ish. Don’t worry if it’s a little lumpy). Add the egg and then the vanilla. Meanwhile, in a little dish, dissolve the baking soda in the hot water then add that to the batter. Next, beat in the salt.

Fold in the flour and oatmeal and stir until just combined. Add the blitzed chips and/or walnuts and raisins. Drop spoonfuls on lightly greased baking sheets and bake at 325 for about 10-20 minutes until golden.

These cookies are chewy and crispy and all around perfect. It’s fall! Eat them outside.

\\ CHICKEN PROVENÇAL KNIFE AND SPORK STEW //

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This is the best picture possible, we devoured our dishes with a zeal and gusto the camera couldn’t match.

This is a real rattle around the cupboard, try to use up as many things you have banging around the house about to wilt or go off, everything awesome in the pot kind of stew. The weather’s kind of crisp and I’ve been wanting something warm, nourishing, and festive, but light and flavory and zesty enough to pay proper homage to the end of summer. This is the dish. This is mind-blowingly good, and includes enough odd back of the fridge ingredients that anyone could throw it together. And easy! A food synonym for “stew.”

INGREDIENTS

1 packet chicken breast tenderloins (support your local farms) — or any cut of chicken you like. The pot simmers long enough to get some real mileage out of some nice scrappy chicken thighs, but I had tenderloins on hand. Upside: I didn’t have to de-bone dick.

1 yellow or white onion, chopped in half

1 bay leaf

5 tablespoons butter (salted, unsalted, whatever. I use salted and then watch my seasoning hand)

2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Big handful haricot vert or green beans

Potatoes (a bunch of tiny ones is fun, or chop up one big russet potato, or quarter little red ones, fingerlings would be nice…it’s potato! Go crazy. Whatever you want, just keep it to about half a pound or less)

1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes

1 15 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

Pinch fennel seeds, crushed

1 tablespoon thyme leaves, squished between your fingers, plus 3 big sprigs

2 whole small lemons, quartered

2 tablespoons dry sherry (or white vinegar or just more lemon if you don’t have sherry; I’m not even totally sure why I have it, unless I stole it from an office Christmas party in 1962)

Kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste (a LOT)

Water (3 discarded 28 oz tomato cans full)

(NOW HERE ARE THE SECRET INGREDIENTS)

Half of a Ramen seasoning packet, “chicken” flavor

2 tablespoons Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce!?!?!

METHOD

Basically you’ll throw everything in, bring it to a boil, then let it simmer for about 45-60 minutes.  That’s the easy explanation, but let’s break it down, shall we? Yay!

Heat 2 tablespoons butter over medium. Chop dat onion and throw half in there. Add your bay leaf and a pinch of salt and let it get all foamy and oniony, but don’t let it brown. Keep it moving as you start stripping your thyme springs, squishing them, and throwing them in. Let the onion and herbs soften in the butter for 4 or 5 minutes. Add the olive oil, bring the heat up a bit to medium high, and tumble in the chicken. Don’t even cut it up! The meat cooks for so long and gets so tender, it should fall apart with a gentle nudge of a knife and spork (get it now!?) in your bowl.

Once the chicken has browned on all sides quickly, take the heat down to medium again. Pop the potatoes in and spoon them around with the chicken and herbs. Sprinkle in the fennel and bit more salt. Just a pinch. Next go in the tomatoes, another tablespoon of butter, and then the water. And the half packet of Ramen flavor. Bring it all to a boil.

While you wait for it to boil, snip the ends off the green beans and just snap them in half. Wash the lemons and quarter them. When the stew starts to get into a nice, boisterous rolling boil, take it down a bit, throw the lemon quarters in and let it simmer for about 30 minutes, during which you can add the sherry, the big thyme sprigs, and the Worcestershire sauce. Keep tasting, and adjust your flavors according to what you like. I always end up add pepper at this stage until it tastes right. Add the fourth tablespoon of butter. Experiment! You’ll know.

After 30 minutes simmering, throw in the green beans. After you introduce them to the broth, taste again. They add an incredible light greenness to the stew that is unmatchable. Again, adjust your flavors. Let those hang with everybody else for about ten minutes, then add your cannellinis. You’ll probably want a tiny bit more pepper, maybe some more Lea and Perrins. Maybe it’s perfect. Only you know!

In goes the last tablespoon of butter and then give the whole gang another 10-20 minutes sizzling together and then you’re ready to serve whenever your crusty bread is out of the oven.

Because! The No-Knead Crusty White Bread recipe King Arthur’s Flour cookbook (executed and directed beautifully here by PJ Hamel: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/blog/2009/12/01/the-crunchiest-crackliest-chewiest-lightest-easiest-bread-youll-ever-bake/ ), is the easiest bread recipe I have ever found, and I have scoured hundreds of recipes for easy awesome bread. If you have the dough ready (which you will often, after having read this magical recipe), it bakes up and cools in under an hour so you can have that going in the oven while you party with the stew on the stovetop.

Serve in large warm bowls with large spoons and large chunks of warm bread. Allow your mind to be boggled. Eat everything but the bay leaf, lemon rinds, and woody thyme stems. Anything else is up for grabs. Have more bread! It costs about three cents to make! It’s practically free! Give some to your friends! Go feed ducks! Throw it out the window!