Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Swiss & 'Shroom Bacon Cheeseburgers

If you know me, you know I am not one to shy away from a 'mans' meal. A bacon cheeseburger covered in sauteed portobello mushrooms and Swiss cheese is just my style. If you were ever looking for a perfect mix of burger toppings, I think I can confidently say, I might have found one of my favorites. First off, who doesn't love a slice or two of crispy bacon on top of a burger - hell, on top of just about anything. Add that to the melted cheese and the mushrooms and you have got yourself a burger fit for a king.

Recipe yields 6 burgers

6 large beef burger patties
6 slices of bacon
12 slices of Swiss cheese
8 oz sliced portobello mushrooms
6 rolls

You can cook your burgers in the broiler or on the stove. As my broiler will be occupied soon, I threw the burgers in a skillet with a drop of water in the bottom of each. Cover the skillet and cook on medium heat for 5-6 minutes and then flip the burgers and repeat. After about 10 minutes, remove the cover and drain any excess fat. Raise the heat to get a nice char on the outside of your burgers.

Meanwhile, add a drop of olive oil to another skillet and throw in your sliced mushrooms. Saute until softened and fragrant.

Heat your broil to maximum heat. Slice all of your buns and line half of them with cheese and the other half with the mushrooms. Once the mushrooms are arranged, cover that side with a few slices of cheese as well.

Place the buns under the broiler for no more than 4 minutes. Be sure to keep an eye on them as it does not take long for the cheese to burn. Once melted and bubbly, they are ready to come out.

Now it is time to construct your burger. First comes the bottom roll with cheese only and then of course the burger patty.

Add your crispy strips of bacon.

And top it all off with the top bun that has the mushroom glued down with cheese.

Serve alongside fries or chips and Enjoy!

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Most Simple Parmesan Risotto

Looking for a simple but impressively rich side dish? This is the most simple and delicious risotto recipe. The best part? You can customize it any way you like. Add mushrooms, asparagus, the sky is the limit. Plus, you get such a great arm workout mixing this up that you can treat yourself to an extra scoop.

Recipe yields 5-6 servings

1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1 small yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
6 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp parsley
Salt, to taste

In a skillet, heat the oil and 1 tablespoon of butter. Mince the onion and garlic and add to the skillet. Cook until translucent, but be careful it does not begin to brown.

Add your rice to the skillet and cook for 1-2 minutes to toast. You will know it is ready when the rice becomes fragrant.

Add the wine to the skillet and continuously stir until it is all absorbed by the rice.

In the meantime, have your chicken stock heating up in a separate sauce pan. You want it to be simmering.

One ladle at a time, add the stock to the skillet. Continuously stir until all the liquid has been absorbed. Do not add more stock until the first batch has been soaked up by the rice. As you continue to stir and add more stock, you will notice the rice become plump and sticky.

Once your rice is cooked, add in your grated cheese.

And the rest of your butter. And stir it all together.

Throw in 1 tablespoon of parsley and mix it in.

Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle the top with parsley. Serve & enjoy!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Creamy Broccoli Soup

I clearly have soup on the brain this week, so what better way to round it out than with my creamy broccoli soup. This recipe was shared with me by a dear friend and it has been a winter staple ever since.  What I love about this soup is it's versatility. You can easily swap in some cauliflower to blend with the broccoli for added flavor. Personally, I like to mix a large handful of shredded carrots into my bowl. What do you prefer? If you have any variations you like, I would love to hear about them. Leave me a comment below!

Recipe yields 8 servings

1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 small yellow onion
6 cups water
2 chicken bouillon cubes (swap in vegetable stock to make this vegetarian!)
8-10 cups chopped broccoli flourets
1 tsp salt
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 medium carrot
1-2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

In a large soup pot, melt your butter and add your chopped onion. Cook 2-3 minutes until tender.

Add your water and bring to a boil. Add your bouillon cubes and stir until completely dissolved. Return the water to a boil. Add your chopped broccoli and salt. You can cut the pieces into any size as you will be pureeing them later on. Cover the pot and steam for 8-10 minutes or until broccoli is soft.

Using your KitchenAid Immersion Blender (or a regular blender) puree the broccoli so there are no chunks or pieces remaining.

In a small bowl, whisk together your flour and heavy cream. Make sure you smooth out all the clumps of flour now because it will be nearly impossible to find them all once you add it to your soup.

Add the heavy cream mixture to the soup and return to a boil. Lower heat and let simmer for 5-10 minutes. In the meantime, shred your carrot.

Add your carrots and freshly ground black pepper to the pot. Stir it around and give it a taste. Adjust your salt and pepper, as needed.

Ladle into a serving bowl and top with a swirl of heavy cream and a spoonful of shredded carrots. Serve & enjoy!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup

Growing up, at the first sign of sickness, it was always straight to the chicken soup. In my mind, chicken soup could cure anything from a stuffy nose to a sore throat. With all the nutrients from the vegetables and protein to give you strength from the chicken, a hearty bowl of chicken noodle soup covers it all, and warms up your insides in the process. You are going to love this soup because it is easy to make a big batch, it has a lot of flavor from the different spices and it is hearty and filling. With all the coughing and sneezing going on, play it safe and cook up a large pot for precautionary action.

Recipe yields 8-10 servings

1 lb chicken breast
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups celery
1 large yellow onion
2 cups carrots
4-5 cloves of garlic
8 cups chicken stock
1 tbsp fresh rosemary
1 1/2 cups dry pasta (any size or style you prefer)

Lets start out with our mise en place. First cut your celery into a medium chop.

Next, chop your onion and toss it in the bowl.

Finally, chop your carrots and mince the garlic. In the bowl they go.

Add the olive oil into a large stock pot. Heat it up and throw in your bowl of veggies. Stir so all the veggies get a nice coat of oil. Put on a lid and sweat the vegetables for 8 minutes or so on medium high heat.

While the veggies are sweating, cook your chicken. Coat a skillet with non-stick cooking spray and sear on both sides. Cook 4-5 minutes each side until chicken is cooked through.

Cut the chicken into bite sized cubes and set aside.

Mince the rosemary leaves.

Add the chicken stock and rosemary to the pot. Bring it to a rolling boil and stir for 5 minutes. Lower heat to a simmer.

Bring a separate pot of water to a boil. Add a pinch or two of salt and cook the pasta. Cook to al dente as it will continue to cook once added to the soup.

Toss in the noodles and chicken and stir. Let simmer for 20-25 minutes.

Ladle into a serving bowl and enjoy!

Monday, January 21, 2013

New England Clam Chowder

According to the weather man, this week is supposed to be a cold one, with most days only making it up to the low 20's. That is not a thought I happily welcome. However, it does mean plenty of hot soup to keep us all warm and toasty. On the coldest days, a hot and creamy soup really seems to stick to your bones and warm you up from your head to to your toes. This chowder is the perfect balance of texture and flavor thanks to the hearty potatoes and the crispy bacon.

Recipe yields 6 servings

4 strips of bacon
2 celery stalks
1 large yellow onion
4 cloves of garlic
3 Yukon Gold potatoes
1 cup cold water
8 oz clam juice
2 tbsp chicken broth
1 tsp thyme
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups heavy cream
13 oz chopped clams

Cut your bacon into small pieces and fry in a large soup pot until golden brown and crispy. Remove pieces onto a paper towel but leave any excess grease at the bottom of the pot.

While your bacon is getting crispy, finely chop your celery, onions and garlic.

Add the vegetables to the pot and stir to coat with the grease. Saute until tender, about 5 minutes.

Peel and small dice your potatoes. Get them ready to join the party!

Add your potatoes, water, clam juice and chicken stock to the pot. Give it a good stir and then toss in your thyme leaves. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Cook for 10-12 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.

In a small bowl, whisk together 1 cup of heavy cream and the flour to create a thick paste. Add it to the pot and bring to a boil. Lower heat and add the second cup of heavy cream and both cans of clams with the juice.

Allow the soup to simmer until it reaches your desired consistency. (I like mine as thick and creamy as can be!) Throw back in your pieces of bacon.

Ladle into bowls and serve with oyster crackers or a piece of baguette. Enjoy!