KP’s Tortilla Soup

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I’m going to come clean right away. By the time I had the idea to post this recipe, I was sitting at my kitchen table, nearly done eating all the leftovers, and I was too lazy to go get the camera didn’t think the dregs left in the bowl by that point would make for an appealing photo.

This recipe is quite flexible, so feel free to adjust the spices to your taste. Don’t like heat? Use mild chili powder. Like a thinner soup? Omit the tortilla pieces. Think cilantro tastes like soap? (I used to!) Don’t use any, or substitute with parsley for some colour. You can even make a vegetarian version by leaving out the chicken and using vegetable stock.

This recipe makes about 4 large meal-sized servings or 6 smaller portions. Try it before some enchiladas or tacos for a full, homemade Mexican meal.

KP's Tortilla Soup

Ingredients

2 tsp. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
3 cloves garlic, minced
Spice mixture (see below)
6 cups chicken stock
1 14-oz/398 mL can Italian tomatoes (I like Pastene)
3 bay leaves
4 corn tortillas, cut into small pieces
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 lime, juiced
1/2-1 cup shredded chicken breast

Spice Mixture

2 tbsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. hot chili powder (if your chili powder isn’t hot, add 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper)
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. ground coriander (or freshly crushed whole coriander)
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Optional Toppings

Crushed tortilla chips
Fresh chopped cilantro
Avocado slices or small chunks
Sour cream or Mexican crema
Grated cheese

Directions

  • Heat olive oil on medium-high heat in a large pot on the stove until it shimmers but before it smokes.
  • Add the onion and lower heat to medium. Cook until onion softens slightly, about 5 minutes.
  • Add minced garlic and spice mixture and cook for another few minutes.
  • Add stock, tomatoes, bay leaves, tortilla pieces, and salt.
  • Simmer for about 20 minutes, crushing the tomatoes against the sides of the pot occasionally to help them break down.
  • Add chopped cilantro and simmer another 15 minutes with the cover on.
  • Taste and adjust seasonings – you may want to add more salt at this point.
  • Add juice of 1/2 lime and shredded chicken.
  • Serve with as many optional toppings as you like – or none. It’s flavourful and satisfying on its own.


Smoothie Adventure

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Blender

There sat the word on my “Things to Get” list for well over a year. As a smoothie-lover, my $40, 14-speed Osterizer just wasn’t cutting it anymore. Barely crumbled ice cubes, lumpy date residue… I needed to face facts: my smoothies were sad.

During a trip to warmer climes this past winter, our living quarters were graced with some positively kick-ass blenders. They whirred like a boss. Frozen drinks abounded. I quickly became spoiled.

With the return of hot and humid weather in Montreal, I’ve been motivated to find out just what those magical blenders were, and where I could get one.

Several emails and one Amazon order later, the Oster Versa Performance Blender is mine. It’s got 1,100 watts of mighty melding power. And I’m in smoothie heaven.

Chocolate Banana Smoothie

  • Servings: 1
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1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 pitted date (for sweetness, you can use another type of sweetener if you prefer, like honey)
1 frozen banana chunks
1 tbsp. cocoa powder
2 tsp. nut butter, any kind (I like trying various nut-butter combos from Nuts to You)
1-2 ice cubes (optional, if you have a high-performance blender they’ll give your drink a more slushie-like texture)

Put all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.

I have this smoothie for a quick breakfast at least a few times a week.

This recipe is a variation of the original Vegan Chocolate Milkshake from Food52.

Pineapple Mango Smoothie

  • Servings: 1
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1/3 cup fresh pineapple, cubed (I’m sure canned would be fine too)
1/2 cup frozen or fresh mango, cubed
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (you could use water, regular milk, or orange juice if you prefer)
3 tbsp. orange juice (optional)
1 tsp. honey (or your preferred sweetener, like agave or cane sugar)
3 ice cubes

Put all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.

This smoothie has a delicious Creamsicle-like flavour. I may try a few drops of vanilla next time to boost that impression.

This recipe is a variation of the original Tropical Smoothie from the Oster Versa Fresh & Fit Recipe Guide.

Got a favourite smoothie recipe? I’d love to know about it.

Friendly Printing

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I love cooking, and I enjoy trying out recipes I find across the Web. When I see a recipe I want to make, I print it out and file it in one of my binders. Tragically, many recipe sites – including one of my favourites, Chocolate-Covered Katie (healthy vegan desserts; check it out!) – don’t have a function that lets you print out a recipe without the unneeded images, comments, navigation, header, and other extraneous bits that use up ink and paper.

Until recently, I’d always copy-paste each recipe into a Word document before printing, formatting it in my beloved Gill Sans font, and adjusting margins and font size to get it onto one page. This took up a fair amount of time.

My online Print Friendly bookmarkletrecipe life changed forever when someone pointed out that Print Friendly – makers of a WordPress plugin – also offer a browser bookmarklet that can be used to easily print anything on the web. It lets you do things like automatically remove graphics, shrink the font size, and hide any text you don’t need. Mind = blown.

Print Friendly also makes a WordPress plugin and offers an option for WordPress.com – though if you’re adding recipes to WordPress.com, I’d recommend using the recipe shortcode instead, which comes with a built-in print feature.

Printing out recipes may sound old school, and perhaps someday I’ll go digital. But for now, the Print Friendly bookmarklet is just the ticket, and has made my online recipe adventures even more pleasurable.

Print Friendly Modal Window

Cindy’s Caribbean Chicken Curry

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As some of you know, I work on the Theme Team at Automattic, helping WordPress users with all things theme-related.

We recently rolled out a new recipe shortcode which lets you easily add nicely formatted recipes to a WordPress.com blog, complete with a handy print button. (Food sites without a clean print feature drive me nuts!)

All you need to do is put your recipe between a special set of shortcode tags and you’re good to go. There are optional settings for the recipe title, time, difficulty, and servings.

Hearty kudos to my colleague Michael Cain for whipping up this treat for foodies everywhere to enjoy.

Cindy's Caribbean Chicken Curry

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
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This is an original recipe from my friend Cindy. She’d never written it down before, but kindly put it together after serving me this yummy dish one night. I knew I’d be getting cravings for it – it was that good.

The stew is delicious with plain white rice but I like to serve it with coconut-scented Jamaican rice and red beans – Skinnytaste has a tasty version.

Hearty comfort food for a chilly night!

Step 1: Wash Chicken

3 lbs. chicken
Juice from one lemon

  • Make sure the chicken is skinless. Breast, leg, thigh, bone in, boneless, doesn’t matter. Personally I prefer leg and thigh, as the meat will not dry up as easily as with breast meat.
  • Wash the chicken in a colander until the water runs clear.
  • Squeeze the juice from one lemon over the chicken, and rub everywhere. Rinse chicken again in water, and then pat try with paper towels. (Don’t know why this step is done. Could just be a remnant of what people before refrigeration did. I did it once without the lemon step and it tasted different. So I continue to do it.)

Step 2: Make Marinade

1 medium onion
6-8 cloves garlic
1 tomato
Handful of cilantro
1 tbsp. black pepper

  • Process everything in a food processor until it’s a thick paste.

Step 3: Prep Chicken

1 tsp. yellow or dijon mustard
Salt and pepper

  • Put chicken a large bowl.
  • Salt chicken (don’t skimp) and pepper everywhere.
  • Add mustard and mix.
  • Add the marinade to chicken and toss to coat.
  • Take a knife and kinda stab the chicken in several spots to get the marinade in there.
  • Either cover bowl with plastic wrap or put chicken in zipper-lock bag.
  • Put chicken in fridge and let it marinate for at least 2 hours, or overnight if possible.

Step 4: Curry Slurry

2 heaping tbsp. curry – gunpowder, madras, or Jamaican curry powder if you can find it
1-2 tsp. turmeric – use more if your curry powder has less
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. fenugreek seeds
1 tbsp. mustard seeds

  • Heat large pan to medium heat.
  • Mix curry and turmeric in a small bowl and add enough water to make a thin paste. Mix well to create your curry slurry.
  • Add oil to hot pan.
  • Add fenugreek and mustard seeds.
  • When mustard seeds start popping, add the slurry.
  • Cook and stir the slurry until most of the water evaporates and the curry is darker in color. This may take a while.

Step 5: Preppin Mo’ Spices

1 tbsp. ginger paste – pound ginger in mortar and pestle or finely grate
1 tbsp. ground coriander
1 chopped onion
Salt
1 hot pepper, finely chopped – traditionally it’s a scotch bonnet pepper, but jalapenos or another type of chili would work (optional)

  • Add ginger, coriander powder, and onion to slurry.
  • Add salt to taste.
  • Add a few drops of water if spice mix becomes too dry.
  • Add finely chopped hot pepper. Be verrrrrrrry careful when chopping them and use gloves if you have them, and be prepared to wash your hands a lot. If you are making this for people who don’t like spice, you can add the whole pepper (unchopped) to the stew while it’s cooking.

Step 6: Putting It All Together

Potatoes & carrots, chopped into chunks (optional)
Whole scotch bonnet or other hot pepper (optional)

  • When onions are soft, add chicken and toss all ingredients together. Cook for a few minutes with the lid on. The chicken will start to create its own juice within about 10 minutes.
  • Boil 2 cups of water.
  • Add potatoes and carrots if desired.
  • Add whole pepper if using.
  • Add enough boiling water to barely cover the chicken. You may not need all the water.
  • Once water comes to a simmer, put on the lid, and lower hear to medium low. Cook for 25-30 minutes, until vegetables are done.
  • When the chicken is tender, you can increase the heat to boil off some of the water, or if you’re good at mixing cornstarch to sauces, you can thicken up the gravy. I’ve never done it, cause I’m too scared.*

And you’re done!!

*Note from kp: if you try this, first mix 1-2 tsp. cornstarch well with cold water, then add the mixture to the pot.

If you blog on WordPress.com, feel free to give the recipe shortcode a whirl and let me know what you think. And if you try Cindy’s chicken, I hope you enjoy it!