Thursday, October 11, 2007

Pico de Gallo

This summer, desperate for a twist on my super-easy pico de gallo (4 ingredients, you know what they are) I started looking for a slightly different take on the traditional pico. But I didn't want it to be TOO different. None of that "made with basil" pico garbage. I ended up finding my recipe in a WONDERFUL cookbook by Mark Bittman - How to Cook Everything. He isn't kidding about the everything. If you need a reference cookbook, it's a great choice. I need a reference cookbook because anytime I go outside of my chicken comfort zone, I have no idea what I'm doing. Mark helps me through those trying times.

I served this pico for the first time at our annual 4th of July party. It was gone in about 3 minutes, so I'm guessing that meant it was good? Anyway, it's not too tough - although the chopping scallions part is rough on eyes - but the reward is worth the onion trauma! I wish I had a picture because this stuff is gorgeous. Maybe next time I make it I will take one - if I don't eat it all first.

from How to Cook Everything, by Mark Bittman


2 C cored, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped tomatoes
1 C minced chopped scallions (preferred), onion, or a combination
1/2 t minced garlic
2 T freshly squeezed lime juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 stemmed and minced jalapeno or hot red chiles, or to taste, or cayenne or crushed red pepper flakes to taste
1/2 C minced fresh cilantro leaves


1. Combine first six ingredients, then taste and see whether you want to add more salt, pepper, or chiles. Stir in about half of the cilantro, then set aside for 1 hour, or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.
2. Taste and adjust seasoning, garnish with remaining cilantro, and serve.

Kira's Notes:

I used Roma tomatoes - I like them better. I would also go with the scallions - it sucks to chop them all up but don't worry, it's totally worth it in the end! I go a little longer on the garlic than Mark indicates. The first time I made this I think I used not jalapenos. But it was still very tasty...basically, you just can't screw up this pico. So throw in whatever you like.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Butternut Squash Gratin

Since it has FINALLY gotten cold outside - well, not 90 degrees anyway - I'm thinking fall and yummy casserole-type this super-dee-duper-delightful butternut squash gratin! This isn't the easiest recipe in the world, lots and lots of chopping and dicing, and as you might guess with a quick glance down the recipe it isn't fast either. I'm betting that Rachael Ray has a recipe out there for butternut squash gratin in 30 minutes...because she is a compulsive liar...but if you ever stumble upon it, DO NOT BELIEVE HER, THIS DELICIOUSNESS CANNOT BE RECREATED IN 30 MINUTES and DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME TRYING!!!! So yes, this takes awhile, but it's great for a holiday dinner or even just any night when you have the time. My mom and I made it last year for Christmas dinner and I believe it will be making a repeat appearance! :)



1/4 C unsalted butter
4 C thinly sliced onions (about 1 lb)
2 1/2 lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 t sugar
1/2 t ground black pepper
3/4 C chicken stock (low sodium preferred)
2 C fresh breadcrumbs from soft bread
2 C (packed) sharp white cheddar, grated
1 1/2 T chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 t dried thyme


Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 13x9x2 baking dish. Melt butter in a large skillet, saute onions until light golden in color (about 8 minutes). Add squash and saute 4 additional minutes. Sprinkle sugar, salt and pepper over squash and onions. Saute until onions and squash carmelize. Spread mixture in prepared dish. Pour chicken stock over mixture. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 40 minutes. **This can be done 1 day ahead - if you do that, reheat in 350 oven for 10 minutes before proceeding.**

Increase oven temperature to 400. Mix remaining ingredients together (hello, cheese!) and sprinkle over squash and onions. Bake uncovered until top is golden-brown and crisp, about 30 minutes. You can always turn on the broiler for a few if you aren't getting the top quite as golden as you would like.

Suddenly, everyone loves squash! :)

Sunday, October 07, 2007

White Chicken Chili

I had this chili for the first time at the home of my parents' very good friends. Their son-in-law had been hard at work in the kitchen making dinner for everyone and boy did he do a great job! My mom begged for the recipe, and so this is Benji's chili by way of Kathy. There's a bit of cilantro, so that makes it just a little tiny bit Mexican. Maybe like 1/16th. And you can make it even MORE Mexican by serving with shredded cheese, sour cream, and tortilla chips. Anyway, it's the best kind of recipe because it tastes like it took you a long time and a lot of effort when in reality... :)

I didn't do a very good job writing down the directions for this recipe - on my piece of paper all they say is "cook onions and garlic, add other stuff," so I am going to try to expand upon that for my (possibly three?) faithful readers! :)

Recipe from Benji Rutgers


1/4 C butter
1 C diced onions
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
3C chicken stock
4 C cooked cubed chicken (you can use canned chicken for this, but don't try and serve it to Ryan!)
2T fresh chopped cilantro
2t dried basil
1T chili powder
2 15oz cans Great Northern white beans, do not drain liquid
2 roma tomatoes, diced
Salt and pepper to taste


Saute onions and garlic in butter in large stock pot until cooked through. Add everything else except for the diced tomato. Heat through, simmer for awhile if you want to, cook it until it tastes good I guess! (this is what happens when you fail to write down most of a recipe and you cook mostly by feeling - sorry!). When you are ready to serve, ladle into bowls, adding about a tablespoon of diced tomatoes to each bowl. If desired, add shredded cheese and sour cream. Serve with tortilla chips.

Muy bien! :)

Friday, October 05, 2007

Hot Caramel Apple Cider

If you'd like to recreate the deliciousness of Starbucks Caramel Apple Cider in your very own home and on a large scale, this recipe is for you!! I got this from my friend Amber, who was not previously a fan of apple cider, and she's now won over for life.



1/2 gallon apple cider (I prefer unpasteurized, but with this recipe it might not matter)
1/4 C caramel ice cream topping and extra for garnish
1/4 C brown sugar
Whipped cream (Redi-Wip is perfect...easy to squirt!)
Cinnamon for garnish
Cinnamon sticks for garnish
OPTIONAL: Crown Royal (wink wink)


Bring first three ingredients to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes. At this point, you can transfer it to a crock pot if desired. Ladle into mugs and garnish with whipped cream, cinnamon, caramel drizzle, and a cinnamon stick.