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Chipotle Salsa

March 2, 2011

Abandoned on a desert island with just one food to eat for the rest of my life, salsa would be my number one pick, hands down.  I am a salsa fanatic.  In the spring, I choose which tomato plants to grow in my garden with salsa in mind.  Through the summer months, our refrigerator is filled with various forms of salsa: pico de gallo, roasted tomato salsa, green tomatillo salsa, peach salsa, you name it.  In the winter, I make salsa with canned tomatoes freshened up with fresh cilantro and lime.  There is almost no dish that cannot be improved by some sort of salsa.

Frustration over the mediocre quality of most commercial jarred salsas and the exorbitant cost of most commercial fresh salsa inspired the creation of Chipotle Salsa.  It is really easy and inexpensive to create great tasting salsa with basic pantry items. This recipe uses canned tomatoes, chipotle chiles, garlic, onion, cilantro, and lime.  Blend the ingredients until they are somewhat uniform, but still slightly chunky.  Serve the salsa over eggs, with tacos or quesadillas, pour it over chicken and bake, or eat it with chips.  There are unlimited uses for this salsa.

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Vietnamese Hue Noodle Soup

February 27, 2011

Somewhat recently, I discovered Vietnamese Pho and its cousin Hue.  There are a number of restaurants in town that dedicate almost their entire menu to these hot and spicy soups.  At first, they seemed so exotic and indulgent with the fresh bean sprouts and peppers topping the hot rich broth perfumed with fresh basil or cilantro. When I first made the soup myself though, I realized how incredibly simple and healthy they are.  A few simple fresh ingredients come together with some basic Asian cooking staples: rice noodles, fish sauce, and sambal oeleck.  The result is a hot and spicy nourishing soup.

To speed up cooking time, consider cooking the broth and meat in a pressure cooker.  In just ten minutes, the meat is cooked to an almost divine tenderness.  You save time and energy, and the dish is possibly more delicious than the traditional method of slow simmering.

This recipe for Vietnamese Hue Noodle Soup is incredibly versatile.  Feel free to substitute chicken or even tofu for the beef (and decrease the cooking time).  The garnish is also very adaptable.  We have an uncommon fondness for cabbage, so that is our go-to condiment, but that can be replaced with bean sprouts as well.  Trade the fresh hot peppers for dried chilies if you prefer.  If you do not have lime on hand, give the soup a splash of rice vinegar at the end to add the bright acidic finish.  This soup is very good, one of our favorites. Try it and let me know what you think!

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Southwestern Chicken Burger

February 8, 2011

Burgers are good…really good. They are the kind of quick dinner that never seems like a cop out.  I can spend 30 minutes cooking dinner and everyone is thrilled.  We like to eat all kinds of burgers, experimenting with different types of meat: beef, pork, chicken, or turkey, and  many different flavor combinations.  When cooking up burgers with chicken or turkey, I mix in egg, bread crumbs, and herbs, all which help keep the burgers moist.   This burger recipe is one of our favorites.

Southwestern Chicken Burgers are super moist and flavorful.  The mild taste of the ground chicken allows the garlic, cilantro, green onion, and spices to do their magic.  This burger is packed with flavor and is sure to delight even the most die-hard beef burger fans. Layer the toasted buns with spicy, smokey chipotle mayonnaise and Caramelized Onion Relish. If you don’t have a grill, these burgers would be equally tasty cooked up in a skillet with a little olive oil.

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