Tortellini Soup

Pinterest is my go to when I’m looking for something new to make. I just scroll for minutes to hours on end, looking at pretty pictures of food. Later on when I’m in the mood for something new, I have a database of recipes just waiting to be used.

Tonight I was finally able to use the tortellini soup recipe I found.

Whenever I’m going to cook something new, I always read through the recipe a few times. It’s like preparing for a final exam. I want to know how long it will take, what ingredients I need, and what I can change about it. This practice has saved me from many unpleasant surprises…like finding out something needs to bake for 3 hours when you’re hungry now.

Luckily this tortellini soup was easy and quick to make. Perfect for a busy night after a busy day.

I followed the basic instructions, but made some adjustments with the ingredients: I used a sort of chicken stock paste instead of boullilon cubes; omitted the Italian sausage and replaced it with sauteed onions, garlic, and mushrooms; and used 2 cups of tortellini instead of 3.

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When it comes to new recipes, my boyfriend is a hard sell. He likes what he likes and he’s not afraid to say what he doesn’t like. His honesty has done so much for my cooking. It means a lot that I can trust him to tell me what he really thinks about the things I make.

The verdict on the soup? He liked the aroma and flavor but wasn’t impressed with the texture. He felt like something was missing. His suggestion for next time? Make a thicker sauce and add broccolli and potatoes. Make it more of a pasta dish and less of a soup. Brilliant idea. I’ll let you know how it turns out when I get a chance to reanimate. 😉

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Thanksgiving Recap

It’s good to be back! I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving because I know I did.

I successfully cooked my very first Thanksgiving turkey. A whopping 17-pounder! I had previously mentioned my plans to butterfly/spatchcock the turkey, but I ended up going with the traditional cooking method instead.

The recipe I used for the brine and seasoning came from a frantic Pinterest search. I’ve never been a huge fan of Thanksgiving turkey and I knew that if I was going to make it, it had to be the best, most juicy and flavorful bird ever.

This blogger provided precisely what the doctor ordered: http://nutbutterluver.blogspot.com/2013/11/super-moist-juicy-thanksgiving-turkey.html?m=1

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I was blown away by how delicious this turkey was. I highly recommend that you bookmark this one for Christmas or next Thanksgiving. You will be quite thankful that you did!

There’s a few things that aren’t mentioned in the original recipe that I’d like to share here. I peeled the orange and split it apart before putting in the cavity, but I also added the peel back in. I also cut up the apple. There wasn’t specific instructions to do so, but it seemed like a good way to help those flavors infuse into the turkey. I also added fresh thyme and poultry seasoning.

Another thing I did differently is I made the seasoned butter twice. Looking back, I probably just should have poured it into 2 bowls. I brushed that butter on with my silicone pastry brush.

About 1 1/2 hour in, the turkey was already browned to perfection. At point, I buttered the turkey again and basted it with the juices from the bottom of the roasting pan. Then I covered it in aluminum foil.

2 hours later, I checked the thermometer and it was ready at approximately 170 degrees. This was much faster than I had planned for. Luckily I had my aunt and Dad around for advice. 🙂

My sister and her boyfriend made a rum ham which was absolutely delicious. I was so busy preparing the turkey and other side dishes, so it was nice to have another option for meat. My sister also took all the pictures here (thank you).

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Cooking for 18 family members is a challenge! But one that I was very happy to accept. Cooking is something I do out of love and who better to receive that passion?

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It doesn’t hurt that my mom and another aunt did a last minute grocery run and kept up with the constant dishes. My sister’s fiance and a few other cousins pitched in as well, chopping and mixing at my whim. I really couldn’t have pulled this off without them.

I am so blessed to have such a loving family. Glad we were able to come together, eat well and even toast with a glass of champagne.

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I also want to express a gratitude to my followers! I appreciate your support and hope to share much more with you soon.

Mediterranean Fusion Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Having a dinner guest on a Monday night is pretty rare for me. In fact, I don’t think in all my working years that I’ve had a friend over on a Monday night. But I’m so glad I did. Friends can be great inspiration for cooking. I always want to leave an impression and make sure they’ll be back again.

Another person who regularly inspires me is my boyfriend. While the kitchen is primarily my domain, he helps out a lot. And it doesn’t hurt that he grew up in a culture rich in amazing cuisine and hospitality. I’ve learned so much because of him. So it would be wrong to take all the credit for the Mediterranean fusion chicken lettuce wraps. It’s our creation. 🙂

The concept came from a desire to eat less carbs and to dress up the bell pepper dish I found myself cooking nearly every night for a short period. This time I added white mushrooms as well, and the result was pure magic.

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So while you can certainly adjust the ingredients as you’d like, here’s what I did last night:

Saute chopped white onions, orange and yellow bell peppers, and white mushrooms in a mixture of vegetable/olive oil.

Season with cumin, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and a few good squeezes of fresh lemon juice.

Then I pan fried 2 seasoned chicken breasts, sliced into 4 pieces. Once cooked, the chicken was further sliced into strips.

Carefully remove 10 or so lettuce leaves from a head of iceberg lettuce.

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I also prepared a garlic yogurt sauce, using Greek yogurt, filtered water, olive oil, chopped garlic, salt and pepper. Once your lettuce leaf is loaded with chicken and the vegetables, just scoop some sauce on top. The mixture of flavors were heavenly. I love it when I nail it. 🙂

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I made brown rice as the side which turns out to be an excellent choice. It was a filling and wholesome meal. I was so excited to share with you I woke up 2 hours early. 🙂

Green Lentils for Lunch

Weekends can sometimes lead to unexpected spending, leaving less money in your pocket for eating out. This was one of those weekends.

I have the perfect secret weapon for a cheap, filling meal, that’s packed with real nutritional value. One small bag will set you back about a $1.60. Green lentils.

I boil them 3/4 of the way, drain the water, and then add filtered water, sauteed onions and a scoop of tomato paste. Once the water is mostly evaporated and the lentils are soft, it’s done. Add salt and pepper. Serve with bread and Greek yogurt.

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Breakfast for Dinner!

Tonight’s meal is a reward. A reward for surviving the week. For being a grown up and making the days count. Tonight is not a night for counting calories or worrying about trans fat. Tonight is a treat, a going against the grade. Tonight…we’re eating breakfast.

I don’t really eat breakfast. Sometimes I’ll have some oatmeal or an apple to hold myself to lunch, but I normally just drink water. I know this goes against the traditional notion that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”, but that’s just how it is. I do like breakfast, though. Although somehow I think the meal I’m about to share with you shouldn’t be eaten everyday.

I love Manischewitz Potato Pancakes. They’re also known as latkes, a food traditionally prepared for the Jewish Passover. But when I was growing up, potato pancakes were a special occasion breakfast. A special dish we made on someone’s birthday or on the first morning of the new year. I guess that’s why I get so happy when I make them…because they make me feel like celebrating.

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Because I only cook for two, I usually only prepare half the box of potato pancake mix. I find this to be a more practical solution than making the entire amount and saving the remaining mix in the fridge. Because then you only have a day or so to use it up…and we already talked about how I hate leftovers and eating the same thing two days in a row.

Another crucial element in any American breakfast is bacon. Delicious bacon. My boyfriend discovered the perfect method for cooking bacon and I’m going to share it with all of you now.

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Place a grate or cookie rack over a cookie sheet with edging, leaving space in between the rack and cookie sheet for the bacon fat to drip (Caution: Never use a flat cookie sheet. It will leak bacon grease all over your oven and start a grease fire). Carefully lay out your desired number of pieces of bacon on the rack, making sure the bacon doesn’t slip under the grating. Now place it into your COLD oven. Cold is critical, people. Then, set your oven to 425 degrees F. I haven’t been good about keeping track of exactly how long they cook, but the bacon is the first thing I start when I make breakfast. My guess is 20 minutes, but I highly recommend keeping a close eye on them until they become a nice golden brown. Once they’re done, remove them from the oven and carefully remove each piece from the rack. Then let the bacon blot dry on a paper towel. Give them a minute or so to cool. The change from the oven to the outside air will help the bacon to crisp.

Finally, what breakfast is complete without eggs? I only really like mine as an omelet or scrambled. Tonight’s were somewhat in the middle.

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I start by sauteing chopped onions with a very small amount of olive oil. This brings a nice flavor to your eggs and keeps them from drying out. I cook the onions most of the way through and then add two eggs, shredded medium cheddar cheese, chopped baby spinach, salt, and pepper. Whisk it all together and you get this:

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Such perfection! When I was kid, I ate potato pancakes topped with butter and sour cream. Now I eat them with Greek yogurt and the taste is pretty much the same. My boyfriend likes to toast Seven Grain bread and load his eggs, bacon, and yogurt on top while I prefer to enjoy each taste individually. Whichever you like, I know you’re in for a great meal.

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Do you ever eat breakfast for dinner?

Dinner – Lentil soup, sauteed mushrooms, and pan fried chicken medallions

Tonight’s meal was full of some of my favorite foods. Since a lot of the things I make use similar ingredients, there are certain items you are almost guaranteed to find in my kitchen at any point in time:

Onions

Olive oil

Tomato paste

Red and green lentils

Rice

Pretty much everything you need to make Ezo Gelin Çorbası, a classic Turkish lentil soup. As usual, I was cooking for 2 tonight, so I started by boiling a cup of red lentils and a chicken bouillon cube in 5 cups of filtered water. Red lentils take approximately 20 minutes to cook, but I recommend learning when they’re ready by sight/a taste test since stovetop cooking times generally vary. The goal is get the lentils nice and soft (sort of like cooking rice). Speaking of rice, the traditional recipe calls for a bit of rice (like a 1/4 cup or less), but I just skipped this step since I didn’t have any.

While the lentils cook, saute onions in olive oil, adding a large spoonful of tomato paste once the onions are translucent. Again, I had to modify because I ran out of tomato paste. Instead I added half a can of tomato soup directly into the lentils and then the sauteed onions. The soup was a slightly lighter orange than it normally would be, but the difference in taste was negligible. 🙂 Next, season with salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper. Finally, I removed the soup from the heat and blended everything together using my Kitchenaid immersion blender (my second favorite kitchen tool after my mandoline slicer).

Over the last couple of months, I have fallen hard for white mushrooms. I used to be terrified of them, but after finding this cooking method, I can’t get enough of them!

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I used to buy my white mushrooms pre-washed and sliced, until I figured out how much cheaper it was to buy them in bulk. Now I get twice the mushrooms I was getting before. Sure I have to rinse and slice them, but it’s worth it.

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The important thing with mushrooms is that they shouldn’t be moved around a lot once cooking on the pan. Drizzle with olive oil and let them be for about 8 minutes before turning them over (medium, high heat). After you turn them over, add chopped onions and garlic.

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Two of the healthiest and most delicious flavors from Mother Earth! Once the onions and garlic are cooked through, add salt, black pepper, thyme, and a splash of soy sauce. Soo good with steak or chicken.

Speaking of chicken, I also made some chicken medallions from a single chicken breast. I’m planning a separate post about my chicken method for an another time, but for now, here’s a picture of the complete meal on a bed of spinach.

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Relatively simple and quick…and soo good. I could use a walk now, I’m so full!

What did you make for dinner?

Kerry