Sunday, February 12, 2017

Comfort Food: Cacio e Pepe

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Once upon a time I celebrated a milestone birthday by traveling to France and Italy.  I pretty much ate my way through every town I visited.  When I reached Rome, I enjoyed a lunch break on a very rainy day at a tiny restaurant.  I ordered a very basic dish, Cacio e Pepe, which is a more mature version of mac and cheese--but easy and super tasty.

This is easy to whip up in about 15 minutes and you can make it for one or for a family just as easily.  Chances are you probably have all these ingredients in your house all the time.

Ingredients (serving for 1)
4 oz long pasta noodles
2 Tbs butter
1-1 1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, shredded (don't use the green can stuff)

Get your water boiling and add about 2 tsp of salt and toss in your pasta.  When its cooked to your liking, slide the pot off to the side and put a skillet on the hot burner.  Melt the butter and add the pepper.  Stir and then use tongs to add the cooked noodles.  Stir around and add about 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water.  Remove the skillet from the heat and toss in about 1/4 cup of Parmesan and stir until creamy (if you add the cheese on the heat, it will get clumpy instead). 

You are ready to eat!  Buon appetito!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Pressure Cooker Chile Verde Soup

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I am loving my electric pressure cooker.  I  bought one last year on Black Friday with deals, coupons, etc... so it was less than $50.  I'm finding its awesome for slower-cooker style meals without needing the advanced planning (I am at work early, so sometimes getting a meal in the slow cooker before work isn't practical).

This is a soup recipe, but if you left out the beans, and cooked it down a bit--it would make really awesome sauce for burritos too. 

1.5 lb pork, cut into small cubes
1 medium onion, diced
1  can green enchilada sauce
1  can low sodium chicken broth
1 Tbs cumin
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp oregano
1 Tbs corn starch, dissolved in 2 Tbs of water.
8 4 oz. cans diced green chilies.  Puree 4 of the cans and leave the others diced.
1 Tbs green or red pepper hot sauce
1/2 one jalapeƱo, seeded and chopped
1-2 cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

sour cream
tortillas or corn chips
shredded jack cheese

Turn the electric pressure cooker to the meat/sautee function and toss in the pork and onions (use 1 Tbs vegetable oil if your pork is lean).  Brown meat for 3-4 minutes.  Dump all the ingredients except the beans and the garnish into the pot and stir until mixed.  Put the lid on the pot and press the soup/stew button and adjust the cook time to 25 minutes.  When the timer goes off, use the quick pressure release and open the pot and add in the beans.

Serve with warm flour tortillas, corn chips, shredded cheese, sour cream and cilantro.  Freezes nicely too.

I tried this with chicken and I didn't love it as much (not enough fat..maybe if I used chicken thighs).  I usually buy the least expensive pork I can find--the pressure cooker makes it cook up tender and delicious.  Buying the chilies in 4 oz cans can be pricey--your store might have frozen ones in the freezer section.  My Hispanic grocery store carried a 32 oz can that was economical.