Recipe: 7 Layer Dip

First of all, let me apologize for the poor quality of these photos, I didn’t realize how blurry they were until just before uploading them! Regardless, I feel like this is a recipe that I just had to share, especially since summer has begun. This is a perfect dish to bring to barbecues, parties, or to serve as an appetizer at your own event. It’s relatively easy, doesn’t require cooking, and looks and tastes pretty great. I got this one from the boyfriend’s mother, who was generous enough to share it with me. I’ve enjoyed it when she has made it many many times, but this was my first attempt at making it. Overall, it’s a pretty straightforward, but there are a few special ingredients and tips that really make it outstanding.

***

– 2 cans Frito-Lay Bean Dip

– 2 10 oz. containers of guacamole

– Sour cream

– Mayo

– Taco seasoning mixture

– One package shredded lettuce

– Shredded cheddar cheese

– Chopped tomato

– optional: jalapeno

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1. So the recipe itself calls for a bag of shredded lettuce, but for some reason in the store I started feeling uppity and bought an actual head of lettuce. The time/effort of cutting the lettuce was totally not worth it, and really you want the very finely chopped lettuce which is a pain to create. So step 1 should really be, don’t get crazy and buy bagged shredded lettuce.

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2. Chop the tomato, although this is the last layer of the dip, it’s good to do this first so that the tomatoes have time to dry, because if you put them wet on top of the dish, it’ll soak through and make it watery (yuck).

 

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3. Create the sour cream layer. Combine sour cream, a spoonful or two of mayo, and somewhere between half and all of the taco seasoning. y best advice for this step would be just to taste test it until it tastes good.

 

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4. In a 9 x 13 pan, spread a layer of bean dip. I think this is one of the best parts of the dip, because the bean dip has so much more flavor than regular refried beans.

 

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5. On top of this, gently spread a layer of guacamole. Be sure to be careful, like when icing a cake, so as not to make the layers uneven.

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6. Spread a layer of the sour cream mixture.

 

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7. Sprinkle lettuce on top.

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8. Sprinkle cheese on top of that.

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9. Top with chopped tomatoes

10. Serve with tortilla chips and enjoy!

Recipe: Fancy Ramen

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Sorry to everyone out there for my extended absence, but I’ve had a very busy month, between starting soon me job, moving, and planning my future. Since good news is I was accepted into grad school to study -what else- English! In honor of my continuation into academia, today’s recipe is a twist on a student classic, ramen. I expect to be eating a lot more of that in the months (years) to come.

This meal began with no recipe and only a basic inspiration of pho to guide me. It turned out much better than expected and made enough for at least three servings.

I did try to eliminate the use of the flavor packets, for although they are delicious,  they are not very good for you. The noodles themselves are really just basic noodles and my main reason for using them was cheapness and convenience.

***

– egg

– two ramen packets (throw out the flavor packets)

– chicken broth (I like low sodium) or chicken bullion

– spinach, frozen or fresh

– edamame

– green onion

– jalapeno

– sriracha

– assorted spices

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1. Pour chicken broth into a pot and bring to a boil.

 

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2. Add Ramen noodles and spices  and allow them to cook for three minutes.

3. Add spinach, edamame, green onion, jalapeno, and allow to cook.

4. Meanwhile, make either a fried of over easy/medium egg.

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5. Top noodles with sriracha and egg.

6. Serve and enjoy!

Kitchen Adventure: Cream Chipped Beef Without Milk

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I’ve said it many times before in the past, but I want to reiterate — this blog is about more than just recipes. I want to share my stories of cooking and food, and sometimes that means failure (or, in this case, near failure).

The story begins with my craving for cream chipped beef, one of my favorites. It’s quick, it’s simple, it doesn’t use a lot of ingredients. What more could you ask for? Well, the problem with a simple recipe is that even if a single element is not there, the whole thing falls apart. Unfortunately, we were already invested and hungry when we began so we had to make it work.

We didn’t have the milk. One of the most important parts.

Well, we scrounged about the kitchen, looking for anything we could to replace it. We managed to find about half the amount of milk we needed in powder form. Trying to be optimistic, we used it, but it totally didn’t work. All we got was a strong flour taste. Gross.

We were prepared to give up, but I did keep trying. We added more butter, but that didnt seem to help. Then I got creative. My cooking logic told me we needed some form of dairy to replce the milk flavor, so I dumped in some Parmesan. This improved it slightly, but it wasn’t enough. I threw caution to the wind and threw in some dollops of sour cream. The all or nothing technique worked, much to my surprise. Of course, it didn’t taste exactly the same, but with the addition of the beef and copious amounts of salt and pepper it was good enough.

So with perseverance, I managed to make the most of a bad situation.

Recipe: Creamy Chicken and Rice

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I know that I’ve written in the past that Italian food is my idea of comfort food, but there is no denying the warm, fuzzy feeling I get from something like chicken and rice. Although this is a stable food of people who are home sick for the day, it also makes a great meal on the average night. I will say that this recipe may be slightly more involved and time-consuming than it seems. At least, we had a few setbacks. Our first problem was defrosting the chicken. While buying in bulk may seem like a good idea, we did learn that it’s a good idea to separate the individual breasts before freezing. The next issue was that we made significantly too little rice in the first batch and although it’s really mostly about the chicken, you still need a good base of rice to make it right. All in all, it turned out great. Even now I keep going back for spoonful after spoonful because it is just so delicious.

***

– chicken breasts

– bay leaf

– spices (rosemary, thyme, oregano, celery salt)

– salt and pepper

– 2 cups milk

– 1/2cup flour

– rice

– chicken bullion cubes

– 2 cups chicken broth

1. Place chicken in a pot filled with water, a bay leaf, and seasonings of your choice (I used rosemary, oregano, salt, and pepper).

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2. Turn heat on high and bring to a boil.

3. Cook for 20 minutes (until chicken is no longer pink in the middle).

4. Meanwhile, boil water and add chicken bullion cubes.

5. Add rice and let cook for about 20 minutes.

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6. In another pot, start making a roux; melt a stick of butter and add half a cup of flour gradually while whisking.

7. Once roux is created, add two cups of milk and two cups of chicken broth, while continuing to whisk.

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8. Take cooked chicken out of the water and cut into small pieces.

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9. Put chicken into the cream and mix.

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10. Serve creamy chicken over rice and enjoy!

Recipe: Cake Pops

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I know I’m a little late on this one as Valentine’s Day has already passed, but personally I think that this is a great treat to make any time. If you couldn’t tell by now, I don’t really have a sweet tooth and I’m not much of a baker. However, this recipe is so easy that even I can do it — and if I can, anyone can. The only truly difficult part of making these is that it can be time consuming because you have to wait for certain parts to cool. I’ve always used triple chocolate for this, but I’m sure any combination of of cake, coating, and frosting would be good.

– one box of cake mix (and all the necessities)

– one can of frosting

– candy coating

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1. Make the cake following all the instructions on the box.

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2. Let the cake cool and then tear it up. Seriously, do not try to do this when it’s hot.

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3. Mix in the entire container of frosting. The best way to make sure they’re fully mixed is to use your hands.

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4. Form small amounts of the cake into balls and set on a tray. Freeze or refrigerate until they are solid.

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5. Heat up the coating chocolate.

6. Use two spoons to dip each cake ball into the chocolate and when you pull it out, set it on wax paper.

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7. Allow each cake pop to dry on the wax paper. If you want, decorate with sprinkles.

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8. Serve and enjoy!

Recipe: Naan Pizza

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These are great for a quick lunch. I know there are many options for what to use as the base of a pizza, but I particularly like naan. There’s just something so tasty and buttery about them. This is also nice to do after making calzones as a way to use up all the leftover ingredients. One crucial step which I forgot when making it this particular time was to spray the aluminum foil before baking — I would not recommend doing that, it was quite an ordeal. Of course, the great thing about this (or any) pizza is the flexibility, you can really use anything you have.

***

– naan (I use stonefire brand)

– pasta or pizza sauce (I recommend Mom’s Pasta Sauce)

– cheese- mozzarella, feta, ricotta, etc.

– toppings- spinach, pepperoni,  etc.

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. If naan was frozen, defrost in the microwave or oven.

3. Spray pan and brush olive oil on top of naan.

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4. Top naan with pasta or pizza sauce.

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5. Top with cheese and other desired toppings.

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6. Bake for 10-15 minutes

7. Serve and enjoy!

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Recipe: Quick Fried Rice

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This is certainly not one of my favorite recipes, although it is easy to do. I think it would be much better with fresh ingredients and better seasoning because you can really taste the difference. There is definitely such a thing as too many shortcuts for one recipe. If you do want to try this particular recipe I would recommend thawing all the ingredients fully before using them. Also, I used egg beaters instead of regular eggs, which I would not recommend, I think the texture didn’t fully work out.

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– two packets of 90-second rice

– eggs

– vegetable oil

– soy sauce

– sriracha

– frozen vegetables

– frozen onion

– packet of fried rice seasoning

1. Thaw all ingredients.

2. Cook the 90-second rice.

3. Heat oil in a large skillet or wok.

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4. Put rice, soy sauce, seasoning, sriracha, and onions into the skillet. Cook until onions are tender.

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5. Push everything to the sides leaving the middle free. Pour the eggs into this and allow them to cook.

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6. Once they have cooked, push everything to the sides and put vegetables in the middle.

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7. Continue to cook everything and add more srirachca and soy sauce to taste.

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8. Serve and enjoy.

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Recipe: The Drunken Developer’s World Famous Calzones

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I have to give full credit for this particular recipe to The Drunken Developer (although I would like to be able to take credit myself). Anyone who has been following my type of recipes will instantly be able to spot the difference. While I’m usually a simple kind of gal, he isn’t afraid to go big with food — that’s what I like about him! These calzones are not for the weak of heart, they’re giant, overly stuffed, full of cheese, and totally delicious. Of course, the inside is completely customizable, but for our version this time we really went all out (it was on Valentine’s Day). However, I will assert that there are some basic parts which are really pretty necessary — ricotta, mozzarella, and feta. However, you can make it however you see fit. Also, we use the fresh dough you can buy from the bakery section of the grocery store which really gives the crust the best flavor.

Typically, he uses one ball of dough per calzone, but this results in a massively super sized serving. If you’d rather have more of a normal sized calzone (which kind of violates the spirit of it) you can split the ball of dough in half.

– fresh dough

– Parmesan, ricotta, feta cheeses (and any other cheese you like)

– Your favorite toppings. For example pepperoni, pancetta, spinach, olives, broccoli. Really any type of veggies or meats

– Marinara sauce for dipping (I strongly suggest my Mom’s Authentic Pasta Sauce)

1. Prepare all toppings. For this version that means we had to cook the broccoli and the pancetta. Don’t put anything raw in the calzone if it needs to be fully cooked when eaten.

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2. Flour hands and spray a pan. Spread out dough into rectangle form. Make sure extra thickness is at the edges.

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3. Cover center with toppings.

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4. Fold calzone closed and seal edges.

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5. bake at 450 15-20 minutes. About halfway through add Parmesan cheese to the outside.

6. Serve and enjoy!

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Recipe: Mom’s Authentic Pasta Sauce

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I debated sharing this recipe for a long time because of how important it is to me. I consider this one of my specialties and so I felt pretty torn on whether or not to share it. In fact, this sauce is so good it even help me solidify winning over my boyfriend so it’s understandable why I feel so protective. But I figured something this good was meant to be shared, just like my mom shared it with me. And really, when you look at it as a recipe, you realize there isn’t all that much to share. I think that’s what’s so great about it; its simplicity. Most of the ingredients are things that people usually have on hand and there’s really no secret to it. The most unexpected parts (which I also think are the most important) are the sugar and the Parmesan. The sugar is vital because it cuts through the acidity of the tomatoes. In fact, this sauce is usually loved by people who get indigestion because it won’t bother their stomachs as much.

This sauce is also great because it is totally different every time since there are no measurements, only testing and tasting. I’ve also used it for a variety of things and I’ve never been let down. It’s great on all types of pasta, baked or otherwise, pizza, calzones, mozzarella sticks, pretty much anything you’d like to dip.Unfortunately, I didn’t have a lot of pictures because there’s honestly not much to take pictures of, but I hope the main point will comes across.

Caution: Do not eat the bay leaves! But it is good luck if you get one in your serving.

– olive oil

– garlic

– two large cans of tomato puree (you can substitute with crushed tomatoes for a chunkier sauce)

– two small cans of tomato paste

– bay leaves

– basil

– oregano

– salt

– pepper

– sugar

– Parmesan cheese

– optional: onion, ground beef ( or turkey)

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1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over low heat.

2. Add garlic and saute.

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3. Add two cans of tomato puree and two cans of tomato paste along with one or two empty puree cans of water (depending on how long you want to cook, the less water the less it needs to boil). Raise the heat.

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4. Add two bay leaves (and one for luck). Sprinkle oregano, basil, salt, pepper, sugar, and Parmesan each enough to cover the  top. Bring to a boil.

5. Change spices to taste.

6. Serve and enjoy!

Recipe: Cheddar Broccoli Soup

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I got this recipe from here, however I doubled it.

This recipe turned out fairly well, but I definitely think I will tweak it a bit in the future. We ended up adding more cheese than called for because the flavor was a little weak, and also I would not recommend using Swiss because with the onion it makes the soup overall much too similar to French Onion. Also, if you’re not a fan of onion, you could substitute for onion powder, because even when finely minced the onions will add to the texture.

***

– 4 cups broccoli

– 4 cups chicken broth

– 3 cups shredded cheddar

– 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese

– 1 small onion

– salt

– pepper

– 1 stick of butter

– 8 tablespoons of flour

– 4 cups milk

1. Cook broccoli and finely chop onion.

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2. Put onion and chicken broth into a small pot and simmer for fifteen minutes.

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3. Meanwhile, create a roux in another larger pot. Melt butter in the pot and add flour a little at a time. Warm milk in the microwave and add gradually. Make sure to continually whisk so that it doesn’t stick.

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4. Add chicken broth and onion into the larger pot with the roux. Stir.

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5. Add cheese gradually and continue to stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper.

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6. Add broccoli and let reduce for thicker soup.

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7. Serve and enjoy!