Friday, February 10, 2012

Dreams of cooking

That's all I've been able to do folks... dream of cooking in my kitchen again. 

Over the last few years, I've been trying my hand at cooking food more complicated than mac and cheese from a box and luckily I've found a great joy in cooking and I might even go so far as to say a talent for finding (or changing) delicious meals. 

Once upon a time, I had a blog called "Adventures in the Apartment Kitchen." Although, not necessarily relevant now (now that we have a house), I forgot how tasty some of those recipes are. Over the last 6 months or so, I've fallen off the wagon so to speak, in regards to my inventive cooking. Living with someone with a limited taste palette does that I suppose. While trying to make meals that pleased everyone, I lost some of what I enjoyed about cooking - experimenting. 

Now that our roommate has been taking care of his own grocery needs, Garry and I are slowly creeping back into that realm of cooking inventive meals, or even just finding some that we really loved and for one reason or another, haven't made in a while. I can only think of so many variations of lasagna before we get sick of it entirely. 

I found this recipe that I got from Rachel Ray's website a few years ago, I think it's time to resurrect it. 

Black Bean Stoup and Soutwestern Monte Cristo Sandwiches
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 jalapeno pepper – chopped (seeded if you don’t want a lot of heat)
  • 4 cloves garlic – chopped
  • 3 ribs celery – chopped
  • 1 large onion – chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper – seeded and chopped
  • 3 cans black beans (this is where I goofed. I only bought 1 can, but luckily I had a can of black eyed peas and a can of kidney beans so I used that combo instead)
  • 2 tbs cumin
  • 1 1/2 tbs coriander
  • salt and pepper (I omitted the salt)
  • 2-3 tbs hot sauce and 2 tsp hot sauce (divided)
  • 1 qt chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 can diced tomoatos (I omitted this too)
  • 1/2 C sour cream
  • 2-3 scallions chopped

  • Heat a medium soup pot over medium-high heat.
  • Add olive oil and add bay leaf, jalapeno, garlic, celery and onions and cook 3-4 minutes.
  • Add red peppers and continue to cook.
  • Drain 2 cans of black beans (or in my case the black eyed peas and red kidney beans) and add to the pot.
  • With your last can, add juice to the pot and half of the beans. Then take a fork and mash up the rest of the beans in the can.
  • Add the mashed beans and season with cumin, coriander, salt and pepper and 2-3 tbs of hot sauce. (It will smell SO good at this point)
  • Add stock and tomatoes and bring to a bubble. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes on low heat.
  • Add a dollop of sour cream (I used fat free) to your stoup
  • Sprinkle chopped scallions on top
Now to make the Monte Cristos. They're basically a fancy hybrid of grilled cheese and French toast with a dash of extra yummy.
  • 8 slices of sandwich bread (or 2 per person)
  • 1/2 C chili sauce
  • 2 slices honey baked ham (per sandwich)
  • 2 slices pepper jack cheese (per sandwich)
  • 2 slices smoked turkey (per sandwich)
  • 2 eggs beaten (if you’re only making 2 servings, you only need one egg)
  • Splash of milk
  • 1 tbs butter
  • Spread a thin layer of chili sauce on one side of each piece of bread
  • Have your sandwich innards ready to go (2 pieces of ham, 2 pieces of turkey sandwiched between 2 slices of cheese)
  • Beat eggs with milk and 2 tsp hot sauce and heat a non-stick griddle or frying pan over medium heat
  • Melt butter in skillet
  • Dip the chili sauce side of the bread in the egg mixture and place in pan (egg mixture side down of course), add your innards and then dip the chili side of the top piece of bread in the mixture and set on top (egg mixture side out). You know, kinda like grilled cheese.
  • Cook for a few minutes (no more than 4 minutes) on each side.

Doesn't that sound delicious? If reading that didn't do it for you - here's a photo: 
Om nom nom...
I know, that looks amazing. 
I used to be very diligent about cooking and posting my recipes, after a while it was really hard to keep up with a new recipe every day and my blog just sort of... meandered off into me whining about moving from my tiny little one-bedroom bachelorette pad to a 3-bedroom apartment in a nicer neighborhood. Although, looking back and reading through some of those entries makes me incredibly thankful for our house. Sure, there may be issues here and there (some of them bigger than others admittedly) but our home is infinitely nicer than any of the apartments either of us have lived in. 
BTW, I'm really sorry folks. Every time I copy and paste from one of my other blogs it does this weird formatting thing where it highlights all the text white. And to be honest, I'm too lazy to re-type everything.