Feb
25
0

Tortilla Soup

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A friend of mine gave me this tortilla soup recipe, which has become a regular weekday dish in my house. When I first tried it at her house, I could not believe it was made from scratch! It tasted just like it was from a restaurant. After she explained the recipe to me, I was even more surprised at how easy it is to make at home. It only requires a few simple ingredients. I love topping it with tortilla chips and cheese, which melts over the hot soup. This soup is a great way to use up extra cooked chicken in the refrigerator – just shred it by hand and throw it in. If you like your soup on the mild side, you can skip or decrease the crushed chili peppers.

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Tortilla Soup
Ingredients
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed chili peppers
  • 1 Tbsp fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 14 oz can Mexican stewed tomatoes
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cooked chicken breast, shredded
  • Shredded Mexican blend cheese, for topping
  • Tortilla chips, for topping
Directions
  1. Heat the vegetable oil over medium heat in a large pot.
  2. Add the chopped onions and garlic, and cook until the onions are translucent.
  3. Stir in the cumin and chili peppers, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the tomatoes and cilantro, stir, and shut off the heat.
  5. Let cool, then transfer to a Magic Bullet blender pitcher and blend until smooth.
  6. Add the chicken broth to the pot and bring to a boil.
  7. Add the soup back to the pot and stir well. Add the chicken and heat through.
  8. Top the soup with cheese and tortilla chips.

Makes 6 cups

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Lately, I’ve been having a lot of success with cooking pasta in what I think of as “risotto style:” with a minimal amount of flavorful liquid that gets absorbed into the pasta as it cooks, creating pasta that bursts with flavor, as well as a nice sauce that isn’t tomato-based. (Often “sauces” that aren’t made of tomato are too rich, at least for everyday meals, because they’re basically just butter or cream.)

This pasta is a riff on this recipe from Serious Eats, but my version takes the mushroom flavor to the extreme by using dried mushrooms and the mushroom-soaking liquid as part of the risotto broth. If you love mushrooms and like the idea of a pasta dish that tastes like mushrooms mushrooms mushrooms, this dish is for you.

Oh, and also kale and bacon, because they’re good.

If you wanted to make this dish vegetarian (vegan, actually), you could omit the bacon and substitute vegetable broth for chicken broth. You wouldn’t lose much, but the toasted breadcrumbs at the end would become more essential than optional, for crunch.

The Magic Bullet serves a nice supporting role here, chopping up the garlic for speed and minimal mess.

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Mushroom Risotto-Style Pasta with Kale and Bacon
Ingredients
  • 1/4 lb bacon, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 4 oz sliced shiitake mushrooms, woody stems removed
  • 4 oz cremini or button mushrooms, sliced
  • 2/3 cup dried mushrooms (about 2 oz), soaked in 1 cup of water water (save soaking liquid)
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth (I use Better than Bouillon)
  • 1 pound dried fusilli or other short pasta
  • 1 bunch kale or other greens, chopped with thick stems discarded
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice (preferably fresh)
  • toasted breadcrumbs (optional)
Directions 
  1. Heat very large saucepan to medium-high heat and add bacon. Cook until brown, about four minutes. Meanwhile, chop garlic in Magic Bullet. Remove bacon to paper towels.
  2. Add the shiitakes and the creminis/buttons and the garlic and cook until mushrooms have browned, about five minutes.
  3. Add broth and soaked dried mushrooms with the mushroom-soaking liquid. Add pasta and bring to boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes less than pasta’s package instructions, then stir in greens. Cook until the pasta is al dente, greens are wilted, and liquid has mostly evaporated and formed a creamy sauce, about 1 minute (if necessary, add water a tablespoon at a time if liquid completely evaporates before pasta is tender).
  4. Add lemon juice, stir, and serve, passing bacon and breadcrumbs.

 

Feb
23
0

Spicy Black Bean Dip

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Here is another healthy dip recipe that you can blend up in minutes. No heating required until serving, although you can eat this spicy black bean dip hot or cold. It is made with fresh ingredients like tomatoes, red bell pepper, jalapeño, and onion. Do you have to wait for a special occasion to make it? Of course not! I like to have some of this black bean dip in my refrigerator for an anytime-snack. Top it with fresh cilantro, avocados, or cheese to dress it up a bit!

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Spicy Black Bean Dip
Ingredients
  • 1 14oz can black beans
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp chopped onion
  • 2 Tbsp chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 Tbsp chopped jalapeño
  • 1/2 tomato, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 tsp. red cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. cumin powder
  • 1 tsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • Avocado for topping
Directions
  1. Add the onion, garlic, bell pepper, jalapeño, tomato and cilantro to a Magic Bullet cup and blend until smooth.
  2. Add the black beans, spices, lime juice and sour cream and continue to pulse until you get a smooth dip.
  3. Store in the refrigerator.

Makes 1 cup

 

Feb
20
1

Gingersnap Cookies

1962… It was the year of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the birth of Jim Carrey, and Western Samoa’s independence (congratulations!). It was also the year that these gingersnaps were born, in the Better Homes & Garden cookbook. They’re still really good: soft and buttery like air, with a pleasantly warming spice flavor.

Spooooooky!

(Ten points for you if you get that reference.)

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If this recipe is retro, it’s retro in a good way, requiring only pantry ingredients that are inexpensive and easy to keep on hand.

A full batch is below, but the Bullet does best when you are making a micro-batch – a third or even a quarter for just ten or fifteen small cookies to pop in the oven.

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Gingersnap Cookies

Adapted from Better Homes & Garden (1962)

Makes 50-60 small cookies

Ingredients
  • ¾ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 2 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger (heaping)
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon (heaping)
  • ½ tsp. ground cloves (heaping)
Directions 
  1. Cream butter, brown sugar, molasses, and egg in the Magic Bullet, in batches if necessary.
  2. Mix flour, baking soda, salt, and spices in large bowl.
  3. Stir the flour mixture into the molasses mixture.
  4. Form into small balls by rolling between palms, until about walnut size.
  5. Roll in granulated sugar and place 2 inches apart on greased cookie sheet.
  6. Bake at 375 for about 9 minutes for a soft cookie, more for a crisper cookie.

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Homemade peanut butter is healthier, cheaper and tastier than store-bought brands. Not only that, making it in the Magic Bullet is a million times more fun than waiting in line at your local grocery for a bottle.

I’m using maple syrup as a sweetener for this recipe. It’s a unique and delicious flavor, though if you’d prefer, you can substitute honey or plain sugar.

Recommended: Purchase your peanuts from the pack-your-own section of your local grocer, rather than pre-packaged peanuts. It’s much less expensive this way!

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Maple Peanut Butter
Ingredients
  • 1 ½ cups of roasted peanuts
  • 1 ½ Tbsp peanut or vegetable oil
  • 2 ½ Tbsp maple syrup
  • Salt
Directions
  1. Pour peanuts into Magic Bullet and blend until desired consistency. Somewhere in the vicinity of 3 minutes should work for most tastes. Seriously – it’s really cool how they turn into butter.
  2. Add oil, maple syrup and one or two pinches of salt to puréed peanuts and blend.

Spread it over some fluffy white bread, add jelly, honey or raisins (or ham if you’re an Elvis fan) and enjoy!

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There’s nothing better first thing in the morning than a freshly made breakfast, but we all know that sometimes, the last thing you want to do when you wake up is start baking a meal from scratch. Luckily for you, these waffles may be the answer!

These whole wheat blueberry waffles can be made ahead of time and stored in the freezer to make breakfast during your busy mornings easier. They are made with whole wheat flour, fresh blueberries and a hint of cinnamon and honey flavor. I like to top them with whipped cream, maple syrup and fresh blueberries. You also add other fresh fruits on top for a healthy, complete breakfast.

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Whole Wheat Blueberry Waffles
Ingredients
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
Directions
  1. Preheat a waffle grill.
  2. Add all ingredients except blueberries to a Magic Bullet blender and blend the batter well.
  3. Mix in the blueberries in by hand.
  4. Pour the batter into a waffle grill and cook until golden brown.

Makes 6 waffles

I was recently in Mexico and man, do they do meats right there. You may think that the best thing about tacos is the innovation of stuffing meats in a delicious tortilla, but you’d be mistaken: the best thing about tacos en México is the incredible fillings, such as succulent salty beef, earthy stewed turkey with egg, or pork cooked for fifty-seven hours.

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For this truly delicious taco filling, I cut the cooking from fifty-seven hours to six in a slow cooker, and used some clever Mexican-style innovations, namely using multiple types of dry chilies and orange juice for tang and sweetness. To make the sauce complex and spicy, I used all the different chilies at my disposable, which admittedly was not an exceptionally large variety.

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My local grocery store only sells dried California chilies, so I toasted them in a pan, hydrated them in orange juice and chicken broth, and reduced everything down into a delicious broth. Then I blended it all up in the Bullet with jarred ancho chili powder, chipotle chili powder, and cayenne powder, as well as some garlic and sautéed onion. (If your household doesn’t keep three kinds of chili powder on hand: (1) you should get some chipotle chili powder because really, it’s good and (2) just use whatever chili powder you have on hand.) Cooked with the pork for several hours, this created a taco filling that was about a bazillion times better than ground beef with some stuff from a packet.

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Pork Tacos with Tangy Chile Sauce
Ingredients
  • 2 whole dried chilies, any type, such as California
  • 2 tsp. ancho chili powder, or use 2 dried ancho chilies
  • 2 tsp. chipotle chili powder, or use 2 dried chipotle chilies
  • 1 tsp. cayenne chili powder, or to taste
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 pounds pork shoulder, cut into cubes
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 bay leaf
 Directions
  1. Place dry chilies in a pan and toast over medium heat until fragrant, about 90 seconds. Add orange juice and broth and raise heat to medium-high. Cook until liquid is reduced by about half, cool, then transfer to Magic Bullet.
  2. Clean pan with paper towel and add a glug of vegetable oil. Add pork and brown a bit, just on the exterior. Remove pork to slow cooker.
  3. Add onion to the pan. Cook until beginning to soften, about five minutes. Transfer to Magic Bullet with the chilies.
  4. Add all remaining ingredients except pork and bay leaf to onions and chilies in the Magic Bullet. Blend everything up until thick and creamy.
  5. Add everything to a slow cooker and cook on low for about six hours. Serve with tortillas.
Feb
16
0

Cilantro Lime Dressing

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Dressings can add a lot of flavor to simple dishes, like this southwest quinoa dish I made the other night. It wasn’t the most exciting dish without any dressing, so I decided to quickly blend up a cilantro lime dressing for it and it completely changed the flavor! I love this dressing because it is full of flavor and it’s also healthy for you, made with fresh lime juice and olive oil. This dressing is great for salads, too. Try it with chopped romaine lettuce, tomatoes, black beans, corn and avocado – yum!

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Cilantro Lime Dressing
Ingredients
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
Directions
  1. Add all ingredients to a small Magic Bullet cup and blend well.

Makes 1/4 cup dressing

News flash: it turns out that if you make a salad that has a lot of hearty, filling ingredients and a freshly made, particularly delicious dressing, you can make a dinner that’s mostly vegetables, low in calories, easy to assemble, and completely delicious. Of course, if you’ve been following my blogging up to now – and who hasn’t been? – you’ll know that I’ve already done this with Caesar salad. Twice. So, there’s nothing really new here, except that it’s a completely different salad with largely different ingredients.

I guess you could call that new…

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With this salad I explore the mind-altering possibilities of miso, an ancient Japanese ingredient that just celebrated its 3,208th birthday. OK, I made that up, but miso is pretty awesome: it adds richness and depth of flavor (“umami”), as well as salt, a perfect addition to any lean meal. Here, I do a classic sesame-ginger-miso dressing, a classic from the Japanese steakhouse meals of my childhood. In the salad itself, I recommend salt-soaked tofu for a great, chewy, satisfying protein, which also keeps this meal vegan, but you could also use chicken breast or roast pork for that matter.

The Magic Bullet, per the us’, does a great job with the dressing, whipping everything up to the perfect consistency.

Arugula Salad with Ginger-Miso Dressing and Salt-Soaked Tofu 
Ingredients
  • 1 bag arugula (5 oz)
  • 1 pound tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil, plus more for frying tofu
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 2 tsp. miso paste
  • 1” piece ginger, peeled
  • chopped red onion, cheese, nuts, or other garnishes
Directions
  1. Add tofu to a bowl and cover with water. Add a large pour of salt. Let sit for fifteen minutes.
  2. Add ginger to Magic Bullet and chop until fine. Add vinegar, oils, honey, and miso and blend until smooth and thick.
  3. Heat a dash of vegetable oil in a pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add tofu and cook, turning occasionally, until well browned on several sides, about fifteen minutes.
  4. Mix arugula, tofu, and garnishes. Serve.

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I know what you’re thinking: “Smoothies in the wintertime?” Yes. Smoothies in the wintertime. Because 1. they’re delicious; and 2. why should we let frigid air dictate when we’re allowed a tasty, icy drink? Especially when our heaters are cranked up to summertime temperatures.

The berry banana smoothie is a classic. Simple, tasty, timeless. I’ve also added some maple syrup to highlight this season, and anyway, who doesn’t like maple syrup in the winter?

Berry Banana Smoothie
Ingredients
  • Frozen strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries
  • 1 banana
  • 3/4 cup of milk
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
Instructions
  1. Combine frozen fruit, sliced banana, milk and maple syrup in Magic Bullet. Proportions of fruit are based on personal preference.

Pair with a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, a savory sandwich at lunch, or satisfy your sweet tooth at dessert!