patron pickled jalapeños

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my household can’t be without at least one jar of pickled jalapeños in the refrigerator. my husband puts jalapeños on everything. since he eats them so much, we decided it would be fun to make our own. this recipe fills 2 – 8 oz. jars. we cruised some blogs and websites for advice but these are the ingredients we ended up using…

ingredients:

  • about 4 cups of sliced jalapeños (enough to fill the jars)
  • 1/2 cup of sliced carrots (optional)
  • 1/2 cup of white vinegar
  • 2 halved garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon whole mustard seed
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 oz patron tequilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

here are the steps:

  1. slice the jalapeños, garlic and carrots and fill the jars.  IMG_3682IMG_3687
  2. pour the water, tequila and both vinegars into a small sauce pan with the mustard seed, red pepper and salt and bring to a boil.IMG_3689
  3. once the mixture has reached a boil, pour over the jalapeños in the jar.
  4. let the jars and mixture cool down to room temperature and then cover with lids and put in the fridge.
  5. refrigerate for at least 3 days. the jalapeños should last several weeks in the fridge.

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patron pickled jalapeños

roast chicken

rotisserie chickens are very common in my home. they’re quick, healthy and affordable. i love when i pick up a rotisserie chicken for dinner and it has a nice crispy skin on top of rich, juicy meat. the only downside is that i usually think about how i could make it better by adding flavors and seasonings. i have roasted lots of chicken in my life but I’ve never attempted to roast a whole chicken… usually just chicken breasts or thighs. i was really excited about this one!

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here are the ingredients:

  • 3-5 pound chicken
  • 1/2 stick of soft butter
  • several sprigs of thyme
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 red onion, sliced or quartered
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 5-10 garlic cloves
  • olive oil
  • season salt
  • salt
  • pepper

after you’ve gathered your ingredients, it’s cooking time!

directions:

  1. begin by unwrapping the chicken, washing with water, cleaning out the insides and then pat dry with paper towels.
  2. stuff the chicken with a few slices of lemon and a few sprigs of thyme. IMG_3737
  3. lightly salt and pepper the chicken and then begin to coat the chicken with soft butter using your hands. you could use olive oil here instead of butter… but c’mon.
  4. sprinkle salt, pepper and season salt on the chicken.
  5. chop 2 of the garlic cloves, mince and sprinkle on top of the chicken.
  6. slice the carrots and onion and peel the leftover garlic. place all of it onto a plate, add salt, pepper and thyme. then pour some olive oil on it. i think this is an easy way to coat the veggies in olive oil and then easily pop all of the veggies into the roasting pan. IMG_3736
  7. add the roasting rack and place the chicken on it. add a few sprigs of thyme and a few slices of lemon around the pan. IMG_3739
  8. roast in a 425 degree oven for an hour and a half.

the chicken was amazing and i was so excited with how it turned out! i will definitely be roasting some more chickens in the future and i already can’t wait to try out new flavor combos. the butter made the skin super crispy which is my favorite part. happy eating!

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roast chicken

tomato bread salad

this is such a yummy salad. similar to panzanella salad but it’s easier to throw together. i love how fresh and light it is. you could use mozzarella but i had ricotta in my fridge. you could add bell peppers, olives or anything else that floats your boat.

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ingredients:

  • 1 loaf of bread (you can use any kind but i really love to use rosemary focaccia in this salad)
  • 4-6 tomatos
  • 1/2 cup ricotta
  • fresh basil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar

seasoning mix ingredients:

  • salt
  • pepper
  • thyme
  • oregano
  • seasoned salt
  • paprika
  • garlic powder
  • tiny bit of cayenne pepper
  • parmasen

here are the steps:

  1. cut the bread into small pieces (like croutons) i like to place a cutting board over a dish towel so that the crumbs can be easily picked up and thrown away. IMG_3729
  2. coat with bread cubes with olive oil and the seasoning mix i described above.IMG_3730IMG_3731
  3. bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  4. dice the tomatoes and toss with the toasted bread cubes.
  5. slice some fresh basil, mince some garlic and toss with the bread and tomatoes.IMG_3741
  6. drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the top of the salad and top with a spoonful of ricotta.

i used this dish as a side but i ended up going back for seconds. it was so fresh and delicious. it will definitely be on my list of fave sides!

tomato bread salad

marinara and stuffed ravioli

today felt like a pasta kind of day. i made ricotta yesterday and wanted to make a yummy pasta to go with it. i’ve divided the ingredients and steps out between the marinara and the ravioli in case you just want to use the marinara sauce for another pasta dish. it’s delicious! here we go!

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ingredients:

  • 3 carrots, sliced and chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3-4 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon parsley flakes
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground sage
  • white wine (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1- 28oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1- 28oz can smashed tomatoes
  • 1 can of tomato sauce
  • handful of fresh basil
  • 1 pound hot italian sausage
  • red pepper flakes (optional)

steps for the marinara sauce:

  1. pour olive oil in a pot over medium heat and add carrots, onion, garlic, thyme, salt, oregano, pepper and parsley flakes. cook for 10 minutes until the onions are translucent. IMG_3704
  2. add the tomato paste and stir until it is combined and turn up the heat to medium high. the tomato paste will give the sauce a rich color and taste.  let it heat up for 2 minutes and then remove the pan from the heat and deglaze with about a 1/4 cup of white wine. make sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to pull up the flavor from the pan. the alcohol in the wine allows you to pick up those flavors that would otherwise be stuck to the pan. yum!
  3. after stirring the white wine into the mixture, move the pot back to the heat and add the smashed tomatoes, diced tomatoes and the can of tomato sauce.
  4. chop and add about a half handful of fresh basil.
  5. let the sauce simmer on medium-high for about an hour. the longer you wait, the richer and thicker the sauce gets.
  6. when the sauce is almost finished, begin cooking 1 pound of hot italian sausage in a sauce pan with some red pepper flakes. when cooked thoroughly, add it to the marinara sauce. i caved last minute and added a handful of mozzarella cheese to give it a creamy texture. don’t judge me! ta-da!IMG_3719

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ingredients for the ravioli:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup fresh ricotta
  • 1/4 cup of parmesan
  • salt and pepper

steps for the ravioli:

  1. pour the flour on a clean surface and create a well in the center of the flour. sprinkle the salt over the flour.
  2. add 2 eggs, 2 egg yolks and the heavy cream to the center of the well. begin scrambling the eggs in the middle while gradually adding the flour in. once the flour is completely combined, knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it becomes super elastic. if the dough is too wet, add flour one teaspoon at a time. if it is a little dry, wet your hands with water and continue kneading.IMG_3707
  3. after 10 minutes of kneading, cut the dough into 4 equal parts and cover with plastic and set aside for 30 minutes at room temperature.IMG_3710
  4. in the meantime, combine the ricotta, parmesan, salt and pepper. then cover and refrigerate until we stuff the ravioli.IMG_3712
  5. grab a cookie sheet and pour the olive oil in it and spread it across the pan with a paper towel.
  6. create and egg wash with water and an egg and scramble.
  7. after the dough has set for 30 minutes, take one of the quarters and roll it onto the cookie sheet with a rolling pin and then cut the rectangle in half. make sure the dough is pretty thin. if it is too thick, the ravioli will be tough.
  8. take 8 dollops and evenly space them apart. top with the other half of the dough sheet and press down around the filling.IMG_3714
  9. using round biscuit cutter, pizza slicer, ravioli stamp or a knife, cut the raviolis into squares or circles. place the raviolis on the oiled cookie sheet.
  10. in a large pot, start to boil some water and cook the ravioli in small batches. the ravioli should cook for about 3 minutes and they are finished when they float to the top of the pot.

finish the dish by placing some of the ravioli into a plate and top with the marinara, some parmesan and some fresh basil.

this was a super satisfying dish and i am so happy to share it with you! happy eating!

marinara and stuffed ravioli

homemade ricotta

ricotta is a super versatile, creamy cheese. i am planning to make stuffed ravioli pasta in a few days, so i decided to try making the ricotta cheese from scratch. it was surprisingly easy and incredibly smooth. the ingredients are simple and easy to find.

ricotta ingredients

ingredients:

  • 8 cups of whole milk (1/2 gallon)
  • 1 cup of heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup of lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar (optional)
  • cheesecloth

the steps are pretty simple. lots of waiting and watching. here we go!

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  1. in a large stock pot or other deep pot, slowly bring the milk and cream to a boil.
  2. once there is a boil, turn the heat down to a simmer and add the salt. once the salt is stirred in, slowly add the lemon juice. ps- this lemon juice is from costco and is really yummy. my husband and i drink it every morning with a little water for its cleansing qualities and health benefits. that’s a little tip from my father in law!
  3. cook for 20-30 minutes or until you see curds starting to form on a low boil. if it feels like the curds aren’t forming, add a teaspoon of white vinegar to hurry the process. the vinegar/ citrus is supposed to help separate the curds from the whey. (the whey is the liquid that we will dispose of later when straining.)IMG_3675
  4. in the meantime, take a large bowl and place a strainer inside it. next, please the cheese cloth on top of the strainer and make sure there is enough room so that you can tie up the cheese cloth later.IMG_3674
  5. once the mixture has boiled long enough and the curds are forming, pour the mixture over the cheese cloth slowly and let it strain.IMG_3677
  6. after a few minutes, tie up the bundle of ricotta in the cheese cloth and hang from your sink faucet to drain fully. i like creamier ricotta so i let it hang for about 25 minutes but you could hang for an hour for more dry ricotta. if you like super moist ricotta, hang for as little as 5 minutes.  IMG_3681
  7. after hanging, untie the cheese cloth and pour into a bowl. the cheese will last about 7 days in the fridge.

you could spoon some ricotta onto some toast with honey, use it in a healthy bruschetta snack or add a couple of dollops to marinara sauce. check back soon to see how i use it in ravioli! happy eating

homemade ricotta

homemade stock

the market may be down, but i think it is time to invest in stocks… chicken stocks! homemade stocks are so much more rich and flavorful than store-bought versions. after cooking a whole chicken and stripping the meat, place the bones and any leftover skin into a stock pot. i use this one by le creuset and it is perfect. shout out to my inlaws for that awesome birthday present a few years ago! if you don’t have a stock pot, use any deep pot that you might use to cook spaghetti. you can add whatever you would like to flavor the stock but this is what i used:

  • 4 stalks of celery, leaves included
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 3 bay leaves
  • pinch of salt

add these things into the stock pot and cover the chicken and veggies entirely with water, cover and let simmer on a low boil for 4-5 hours.

pour the mixture through a large fine mesh strainer into a bowl. pour the stock into a jar to store in the fridge if you don’t use immediately. the stock should be fresh for 7 days in the fridge. happy cooking!

homemade stock

chicken tortilla soup

it’s soup season! i love the cold weather and being able to come home and have some warm, yummy soup makes me very happy. after i made chicken noodle soup earlier this week, i used the chicken bones to create a homemade stock. i decided to make chicken tortilla soup with the stock before it spoils. my husband really loves brothy soups with lots of chunky substance and chicken tortilla soup is always one of his requests for dinner. we have tried the grocery store kits when we were feeling lazy but my recipe is really easy and so flavorful! caution: it’s pretty spicy so tone down the spices if you can’t handle the heat 🙂 here we go!

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requirements:

  • 1 red or orange bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped and minced
  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 16 oz chicken stock (or 1 small can is fine)
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can diced or smashed tomatoes
  • 1 can rotel with green chiles
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (we like tons of spice!)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 2 chipotle peppers (more or less to taste)
  • cilantro for garnish
  • lime for garnish
  • cheese for garnish
  • tortilla chips for garnish
  • sour cream for garnish

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instructions are as follows:

  1. begin by heating a deep dutch oven or stock pot to medium heat. i used this one by le creuset. it’s my favorite! add a drizzle of olive oil, chicken breast and the minced garlic. let it cook for a few minutes while you prep the veggies.
  2. add the chopped onion, bell peppers and chipotle peppers and cook for a few minutes.
  3. add seasonings: chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper.
  4. pour in the chicken stock and stir. take the bottle or can of chicken stock and fill it up two or three times with water and add to the pot to dilute the stock.
  5. add the black beans, kidney beans, corn and all of the tomatoes. if you’d like, you can add as much water as you’d like to thin out the soup.
  6. cook for a half hour on medium heat with a slow simmer. remove the chicken and shred. then add the chicken back into the soup.
  7. cook for another half hour on medium heat and then ladle into bowls.
  8. top with any or all of the following: squeeze of lime, cilantro, sour cream, cheese and tortilla chips. ps- i added avocado last minute!

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this soup serves 6 people with leftovers. it was so yummy and flavorful. you could try making variations of the soups by adding different beans or veggies. maybe adding jalapeno or subbing some of the spices. also shout out to the pioneer woman collection for the cutest bowls ever! happy eating!

chicken tortilla soup