Friday, October 29, 2010

Broth or Stock?

What is the difference between broth and stock? People use these words interchangeably, therefore making it is extremely difficult to know which is which. But once you learn the basic definition of each, you will know for life.
Broth comes from the same Germanic root as brew. It means to boil something. Typically, a broth is made by simmering, or boiling other ingredients in a stock or water. These ingredients can be meat, grain, vegetable, or a combination of these, along with seasonings, and salt. From broths, soups are made.
Stock is the principle of all the soups and sauces which follow. It is used instead of water, to which it is much to be preferred. Stock, in general, is made with any fresh meat trimmings and bones. According to The Royal Cookery Book
  • Cut all the meat from the bones; break them; and put them, together with the meat, in a stock-pot, with about 2 1/2 pints of cold water to each pound of bones and meat; and add a little salt, and put on the fire to boil; skim carefully; and put in some carrots, onions, and leeks; simmer for five hours; strain the Stock through a broth napkin, into a basin, and keep it in a cold palce, till wanted.
Before you think about buying stock or broths from the store, entertain the idea of making your own. I have recipes that advise throwing raw chicken into a soup and letting it cook through, which works just fine, but I always precook it in some water in a crockpot. This provides me with flavorful broth that is easy to freeze and use as necessary. 
The same goes for bones of turkey, pork, beef or chicken that you might otherwise throw out. Be adventurous! Use spices to enhance the flavor of your creations. You will be delighted with flavor and compliments!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Secret Ingredients

The kitchen smells of onions, garlic and chalets sweating in the Dutch oven. A short time later, the chicken stock adds to the depth of the aroma. Once the seasoning, tomatoes and beans have been added it becomes too tempting to just sit back and bask in your glory!
Today, for one of the first times, I ventured into the unknown. Yes, I attempted a recipe that no one in my family has ever made before.
Pasta e fagioli was a great confidence builder! It's consistency resembles a hardy soup that can be personalized for every family. I found a basic recipe on my favorite website ( and customized it to my liking.
I found that even though I was unsure of what the outcome would taste or look like, I knew that my secret ingredients would turn the dish into a masterpiece for my table. Every dish made by me involves at least one of these secret ingredients. However I laced this dish with all three: love, passion and curiosity, to produce a melody of flavors that harmonize perfectly!
So I encourage you to experiment and make your own recipe! In the process you may find some secret ingredients of your own. Here is my recipe for Pasta e fagioli to start a foundation for your own dish.

Pasta e Fagioli

My very country version of this classic Italian dish.

Olive oil
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 c. chicken broth
1 (14.5 oz) can stewed tomatoes
1 (15 oz) can cannelini beans
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
dried parsley
dried basil
Italian seasoning
Kosher salt
handful of purple pearl onions, whole peeled
¼ - ½ lb. Pasta

  1. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and celery. Cook until onion and celery is tender.
  2. Add undrained tomatoes, undrained cannellini beans, drained and rinsed black beans, chicken broth and seasoning. Boil for one minute and then let simmer for 10 minutes, covered.
  3. Add pasta and pearl onions and simmer until pasta is tender.   

Friday, October 1, 2010

Those That Have Inspired Me

My mom, me, and my Granny
The people that inspire me most in the kitchen!

Copy Cat: Carino's Italian Nachos

How many times have you eaten at a restaurant and wished you could replicate the food when you are at home?

Growing up, when my sisters and I would get our report cards, we would get rewarded for our good grades by going out to eat. We either went to Charlie's in Devine or Johnny Carino's. Carino's is one of my most favorite restaurants. 

Anyways, when we go to Carino's, we always order a plate of Italian Nachos. It seems like we always discuss how they could possibly be made. 
Well my most-talented mother figured it out! So I just had to try my hand at it too! Let me tell you it's so easy! Now I want to share the recipe with you so you can get home and try this immediately.
Italian Nachos

wantons, chicken, sausage, Alfredo sauce, mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, olives, jalapeños
[I don't have amounts because it is so easily affected by quantity and preference. So make it your own. Also you can use sausage, chicken, or both. The tomatoes, olives, and jalapeños are also optional.]
  1. Cook choice of meat. If you choose chicken either dice or shred it after it's cooked.
  2. Heat Alfredo sauce. (I used canned Alfredo sauce, because of its simplicity and added a lot of spices to it while.)
  3. In a skillet, heat oil. Cut wantons in preferred shape. (I cut them into triangles and strips)
  4. Fry wantons. It takes only a few seconds per side to fry. Remove from oil to a paper towel to absorb excess oil.
  5. Plate fried wantons, top with mozzarella cheese, meat, and any other topping. Place in a low heat oven or toaster oven until cheese is melted.

This would also be a great way to make homemade chips!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Piece of Cake

Recipes that are pieces of cake to make are brilliant, but when they are actually pieces of cake, pie, brownies, etc. they go far beyond the spectrum of brilliance.

Finding recipes always seem to be difficult. Something may look good in the picture, but then I realize there are about a hundred ingredients I would have to buy at a specialty store in France. 

However, my family saves the day as usual. I can always trust my mom, Granny, or Diane will have the recipe. The trick is who to call. If I need exact amounts or anything to do with cookies, who should I call? Diane. That was too easy. Spice bars? Granny. Crockpot recipes? Mom. Fried chicken or bacon gravy? Granny! German Chocolate Icing? Ima. Potato Wedges? Amy Spanish Rice? Nancy Taco Salad? Toy Corn Casserole? Jean....ok so you get my point I have plenty of contacts.

Here is a recipe that sounds sophisticated and complex, but I promise that with four ingredients will be one of the easiest desserts you have ever made! 
1 pkg. pre-made chocolate chip cookie dough
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread 1/2 of the dough in the bottom of an 8 x 8" pan. Double the recipe for a 9 x 13". Blend cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla to taste. Pour over layer of cookie dough. With the remainder of the dough, break into pieces and drop on top. Bake for 35-40 minutes.

Try this out and you are sure to impress!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Casserole: The One Dish Meal

Need an easy, quick meal for supper? Had a long day at work, but still want to put a good meal on the table? Well casseroles are the solution for you! Casseroles have been around for centuries, but it wasn't until the early 20th century that their popularity exploded. This was because of their convenience, general low cost and immense flavor.

One of my favorites to make for my friends up at school is spaghetti casserole. I always loved when my mom would make it for our family. Everyone can make spaghetti, but this recipe takes it to the next level. The most appealing aspect of casseroles, is that as leftovers, they taste great! So try out this recipe sometime and enjoy the great taste! Hope you enjoy!

1 lb. browned ground beef                    1 (26.5 oz) can of spaghetti sauce
1 (8 oz) bag of mozzarella cheese       1 (16 oz) cottage cheese
1 (16 oz) bag of noodles, your choice of type
Salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste     Parmesan 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Brown meat. Add spaghetti sauce to meat and heat thoroughly. Cook noodles as directed on package. Combine noodles, sauce, meat, and cottage cheese in a bowl. Spray a 9 x 13" pan with nonstick spray. Fill dish with mixture. Cover with the mozzarella cheese. Bake for 30 minutes. Top with Parmesan and enjoy!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Prepartying for No Apparent Reason

It's either her love of cooking, love of family and or her just showing off, either way she invites people over quite regularly. Many can vouch that they have received a phone call or text inviting them over for supper. It may be for a birthday, holiday, new keg, or for no apparent reason.

I am referring to my mother if you couldn't already figure that out! She has a gift for entertaining anyone and everyone. That is something I practice as often as I can up here at Texas A&M. Everyone remembers the entrée she makes, but what they don't realize is that the appetizers can be the hero of the party. They keep company content and their stomachs at bay while promoting conversation!

My favorite, which she doesn't make incredible often, is definitely Seven-Layer Dip. There are never really seven layers when I make it though. The layers seem to create interest and the recipe is likely to become a conversation piece, especially if you include the package of taco seasoning! It is a little time consuming, but the work will pay off. Pair that with a bag of good tortilla chips, preferably Julios, and you can guarantee your party getting off to a great start.

Mexican Layered Dip
1(16 oz) can refried beans                              1 pkg taco seasoning mix
1 lg tomato                                                  1 c guacamole
1 c sour cream                                              1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 c chopped green onions                            1/4 c chopped black olives

Mix the taco season into one of the layers. I have done it most often in the guacamole or sour cream layer. Then layer each item in a dish. I have used a 8 x 8in pan. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. 

Don't be afraid to mix and match different ingredients. I have put browned, ground beef and that adds a different flavor to each bite! You can't mess this recipe up!

Another party fav is Cheese Dip! It is great that all you need is a block of velveta, a can of RoTel and some browned meat. Spray the hell of Pam into your crock pot and throw it all in for 1 1/2 hours. You can't go wrong with a pot of cheese dip!

Whether you are entertaining family, friends that seem like family or complete strangers, remember that a good starter or two can take your get together to the next level!