Peanut Noodles

Sometimes you just need an easy weeknight meal, and this is one of them. Most of the ingredients you probably already have in your pantry or freezer.

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Ingredients

  • 6 oz of thin spaghetti (Angel Hair also works)
  • 6 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1.5 tablespoons spicy sesame oil (you can use regular sesame oil just add some red pepper flakes)
  • 16 oz  mixed Asian vegetables 

Steps

  1. Set the pasta to cook and steam the Asian vegetables until cooked.  The best way to make sure the sauce is evenly distributed across the whole dish is to make the sauce in the bowl that you will be serving the pasta in and simply add the cooked pasta to the already made sauce rather than adding the sauce to the pasta.

  2. In the large bowl combine the peanut butter, garlic, lime juice, soy sauce and sesame oil. Whisk vigorously until the mixture is combined. 

  3. Once the pasta is cooked, slowly add it to the bowl of sauce, about 1/3 of the pasta at a time to ensure that it is properly coated by the sauce.

  4. Once all the pasta has been added then add the cooked vegetables. 

  5. The dish can be served as a side or if you can add some cooked grilled chicken for a main dish. 

Egg Drop Soup

A few days ago I went grocery shopping and due to the oncoming blizzard there were very few cartons of eggs left and I got stuck grabbing a pack of 18 vs my normal dozen. This caused me to look up a bunch of egg recipes, and this soup was one of the better dishes I was able to make. 

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Ingredients

  • 4 Cups Vegetable Broth (you can use chicken broth if you prefer) 

  • 1/2 teaspoon of grated ginger

  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce

  • 2 eggs beaten

  • 2 green onions chopped up very thin

  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch


Steps

  1. In a large pot bring vegetable broth to a boil, then add the ginger and the soy.

  2. Remove 1/2 cup of broth from the pot in a small cup and add the cornstarch and mix until the cornstarch is fully integrated. Add the cornstarch slurry to the pot and mix until the stock thickens a bit.

  3. Reduce the heat to a simmer and begin stirring the mixture in a clockwise motion, then slowly add the egg mixture a slowly so that the egg feathers. 

  4. Once all of the eggs have been added, turn the heat off and add the green onion. 

Red Curry

I know I haven’t updated in months but I’ve been lazy. Now that I have some time I’d like to share one of my favorite quick weeknight meals, red curry. Now I don’t actually make my own curry paste for a number of reasons the most prominent being it’s not worth the time and effort.  After doing a bunch of research and talking to some Thai friends they all recommended Mae Ploy brand. (http://amzn.com/B000EI2LLO)  The container of curry paste will stay good in the fridge for months. So it’s a great item to have in the back of the fridge.

The following is an adaptation of the recipe they put on the back of the container.

 

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste ( they suggest 50 grams which is closer to 3 tablespoons but it becomes too spicy for me)
  • ½ lb mixed vegetables
  • 1 potato diced if you find the curry too spicy
  • 1 lb meat (I tend to make either  sliced or diced chicken or mixed seafood)
  • ½ teaspoon hoisin
  • 1 cup coconut milk

Steps

  1. In a wok or deep pot heat 1 teaspoon oil and the curry paste until it just lightly browns
  2. Add in the coconut milk and bring to a mild simmer
  3. If you are making chicken or another hearty meat add the meat and simmer for 3-5 minutes, taste the curry and see if it’s too spicy, if it is then add the potato. If you are making seafood then cook the vegetables first then add the seafood
  4. Add the vegetables and cook for another 3-5 minutes until all items are fully cooked
  5. If curry is still too spicy add some hoisin

This is a quick and great tasting dish. If you are really in a rush you can buy precut veggies and use chicken breasts. I like to serve this over rice or even noodles.

Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is one of the most versatile pasta dishes you can make. Most people seem to be satisfied with the kind the comes out of the blue box because they don’t realize just how easy it is to make it from scratch. This is also a dish that’s super easy to modify, you want it Italian style use mozzarella cheese, for something a bit fancier add some goat cheese.

This recipe is for the pasta and with cheese sauce, if you want to add meat or veggies to the pasta cook these items separately and don’t incorporate it until after the pasta has been mixed with the cheese.

One unconventional thing I do is using rotini pasta vs the traditional elbow; the reason is simple: surface area.  While it’s traditional to use elbow shaped pasta its relatively small and doesn’t really carry sauce as greatly as rotini which has spirals allowing for more cheese to be carried in each bite.

This version also uses a roux of sorts but it’s not grainy due to the method used to make the roux.

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Ingredients

  • 1 pound rotini pasta
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups shredded cheese (for the version pictured I used a mix of sharp cheddar and a Mexican blend that included monetary jack, queso quesadilla and asadero)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Steps

  1. In a large stockpot boil 4 quarts lightly salted water and cook the pasta for 8 minutes. Drain the pasta when it’s done.
  2. When the pasta is almost done cooking in a small saucepan heat 1 cup of milk. While the milk is warming in a cup combine ½ cup of milk and the flour, mix until there are no lumps in the mixture. When the milk starts to steam slowly stir in the milk flour mixture, whisk the mixture until it becomes thick over medium low heat for about 3 minutes.
  3. When the milk mixture is thick add in the cheese ½ cup at a time and whisk together. When you have added all the cheese, taste the mixture to see if salt is necessary, depending on the type of cheese used you may find it not needed.
  4. Add half the pasta back to the stockpot and add in half the cheese sauce and combine, then slowly add in the remaining pasta and cheese sauce alternating until it’s fully combined. This is where you want to add in any extras like meat or veggies. 

Paella

This is a modified version of Mark Bittman’s master paella recipe using shrimp and sausage. I made the same thing but omitted the meats for my girlfriend and she loved it.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup Arborio rice
  • 3 cups vegetable stock warmed
  • .5lb shrimp (no heads but keep the shells on)
  • 2  links sausage sliced on the bias
  • ½ cup mixed vegetables frozen (peas, corn, green beans)
  • ½ bell pepper diced
  • ½ onion diced
  • ½ zucchini diced
  • ½ lb mushroom diced
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • Paprika (to taste)
  • 10 threads Saffron (feel free to omit but do not use turmeric as a substitute)

Steps

  1. Put 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet on high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer add the garlic, onions, zucchini, mushrooms, and peppers. And sprinkle on some salt an pepper. Cook until the onions have softened.
  2. Add the rice, saffron, and paprika; stir together until the rice takes on a sheen. You may need to add a touch of oil to the pan if it’s dried out.
  3. When the rice has a nice shine on it, add in about 2 cups liquid and stir to combine. Place the shrimp on top of the rice.
  4. Lower the heat to medium and let the pan sit, DO NOT TOUCH IT. Just let the rice soak in the liquid. After about 5 minutes check the rice, if you see dry spots you can add in a bit more of the stock. Add the remaining vegetables and the sliced sausage and give it a gentle stir
  5. Cook for another 5 more min, or until the rice is cooked to your preference, taste and add more salt if necessary, you can add in a touch more liquid too.
  6. Once it’s done let it sit for about 1 min then serve.

Egg White Frittata

In my idiocy I purchased a dozen eggs last week not realizing I already had 10 eggs in the fridge. Generally I go through about 4 eggs a week but I didn’t want to have a ton of them just hanging out in my fridge so I decided why not make a frittata. I really wanted to make a quiche but my girlfriend isn’t a fan of the crust. (I know, I know I don’t know why I’m still with her…..)

This is actually a really simple recipe that can be prepped the night before to allow for a quick breakfast the next morning. Just dice up all the veggies and store them in the fridge, the next morning all you need to do is mix and bake the whole thing.

Note: These proportions are for an 8 inch skillet and was just enough food for 2 adult

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Ingredients

  • 6 eggs (2 whole eggs, 4 whites) beaten lightly
  • 4 spears of asparagus cut on the bias
  • ½ a red bell pepper diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 scallions cut on the bias
  • 4 white or cremini or baby bella mushrooms diced (all of these are actually the same mushroom just in different stages of development http://www.thekitchn.com/what-are-cremini-mushrooms-a-f-73949)
  • Goat cheese
  • Crushed red pepper

Steps

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Turn your stove to medium and in an oven safe pan  (I use cast iron) heat 2 pats of butter. When the butter has melted spread it around the pan to make sure the interior of the pan is fully coated. Then add the vegetables and cook until lightly brown. Season the veggies with salt (be careful the goat cheese is also pretty salty), pepper and the crush red pepper.
  2. Once the veggies are almost soft add the egg mixture over the top. Before the egg mixture has settled add the goat cheese.
  3. Let it all cook for about 2 min until the bottom of the mixture seems to have almost set then place the mixture uncovered in the oven.
  4. Bake for about 6min or until the eggs have reached your desired level of firmness.

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Greek Salad

For the month of March I'm challenging myself to eat at least one 100% vegetarian meal a day. I'm doing this partly to improve my health but also as a way to expand my knowledge of vegetarian recipes. When I started dating a vegetarian girl I got Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian and it's a great source from which I've adapted a number of recipes. Today's recipe is pretty simple but also delicious. My take on a greek salad. 

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Ingredients 

  • 1 head romain lettuce chopped
  • 1/2  a red onion sliced thin
  • 1 cucumber diced ( I skin mine but it's really a personal choice)
  • a handful of grape tomatoes quartered
  • 1/4c good olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon oregano
  • salt / pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced or pulverized (the fastest way is to skin it and smack it with a heavy pan)
  • a handful of kalamata olives diced
  • a couple of marinated mushrooms diced
  • 1/2 a roasted red pepper diced
  • goat cheese crumbles

Steps

  1. In a small bowl combine the oil, vinegar, a pinch of salt, a generous grind of pepper, the garlic, oregano, and mix. Or if you're feeling lazy like me use the smalled container for your blender.
  2. In a large bowl toss the lettuce, cucumbers, tomato, onion, olives, mushrooms and red pepper.  Top with the dressing.
  3. When serving put some goat cheese crumbles on each plate and enjoy.

Risotto

Risotto is one of those things that people think is hard to make but really it just requires patience and practice. The first time you make it the risotto won't be great, but the next time it will be good, the third time it'll be amazing. Below is a basic recipe and can be easily modified to change the flavors.

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Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion diced very small
  • 1.5 cups Arborio or other short- or medium-grain rice
  • 1/2 cup  white wine (water works too)
  • 4 to 6 cups stock (chicken, beef, or vegetable. really any liquid will work, i've blended up some salsa and added water to make a mexican style risotto)
  • Herbs de Provence
  • Goat cheese crumbles

Steps

  1. In a large pot add 2 tablespoons butter and a bit of olive oil over medium heat. When the butter has melted add the onions. Cook for about 5 min until the onions become soft. In another pot keep the stock at a low simmer. 
  2. Slowly add the rice allowing all of it to be coated by the butter. Toast the rice for about 2-3 min until it become lightly golden.
  3. Add some salt and pepper. Then add the wine stir allow the mixture to simmer until all the liquid has been absorbed by the rice. Add a generous pinch of herbs and mix.
  4. Slowly add the stock about 1/2 cup or a ladle full at a time. The goal is to barely cover the rice. After adding stock mix the rice and make sure it isn't sticking to the bottom of the pot. Once all the liquid is almost gone and the bottom of the pot is dry, add another ladle full of liquid. Keep repeating until the rice has absorbed the majority of the liquid. This should happen over 20 min at which point you should taste the rice for doneness. It can take up to 30 min for the rice to cook and you may not use all of the stock.
  5. Once the rice is cooked to your liking, kill the heat and slowly add in the remaining butter a pat at a time and gently fold the mixture. Once all the butter has been incorporated add in about 1-2 tablespoons of the goat cheese crumbles and mix. 

The risotto can easily be a main course or the side to a good piece of grilled meat. Here I've served it with a side of the roasted mushrooms from an earlier post.

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Asian Marinade Chicken Sous Vide

Chicken breast is one of the simplest and healthiest things you can cook but often it comes out dry. The sous vide method really keeps the meat tender without adding a any fat.

The following is approximate since I really did it by feel and taste.

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Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoins black bean paste
  • ½ teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha
  • ½ teaspoon hoisin
  • ½ teaspoon sweet chili sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic
  • 2 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1 chicken skinless boneless breast

Steps

  1. Combine all the marinate ingredients in a small bowl and taste to see if you want it spicier or saltier.
  2. Place the marinate and chicken in a bag and vacuum seal.
  3. Sous vide the chicken at 137F for at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours
  4. After removing the chicken from the pouch sear in a hot pan for about 1 min each side.

The chicken is super moist and you don’t even need a knife to cut through it. I served it with a side salad.

Sous Vide Steak

BAH. I wrote up a full long post about the Sous Vide process and the recipe and I used then I accidentally hit disregard vs save. So I’m a moron. But here is the short and sweet version of that post.

Sous vide is a method of cooking wherein you cook food by submerging it in a water bath and brining the temperature of the food up to the point of doneness. The biggest upshot to this is that your food won’t ever be over or undercooked. The downside is that it takes time. But time is good since it can break down the muscles and make the food more tender while keeping it juicy.

Professional machines are quite expensive but I’ve found one for about $170 and decided to give it a go.

I found a nice ribeye and gave it a try.

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Ingredients

  • Ribeye
  • Salt
  • Peppers
  • Herbs de provence
  • Garlic sliced

Steps

1.     Season the steak with the salt, pepper, herbs, and garlic. Put the steak in a plastic bag and vacuum seal the bag.

2.     Set the sous vide machine to 135°F, once the water comes to temp then insert the bag of meat into the water.

3.     Let the meat sit in the water for at least 1 hour and no longer than 4.

4.     Before you pull the meat out of the water place a pan over high heat with some butter or olive oil. Once you pull the meat from the bath and remove it from the bag pat it dry then put it on the pan. Brown the meat for about 2 min each side until a nice crust forms. 

UPDATE: Someone in comments mentioned that I never mentioned the taste. It was great, very tender. It wasn't super buttery like I expected but I suspect that's due to the short cooking time. I plan to try it again with a longer water bath and a slightly fatter cut of meat.

Potato and Egg Bake

Leftovers have lead me to develop some of my best breakfast dishes. The following is a result of having a baked potato and some small fingerling potatoes in the fridge.

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Ingredients

    • 16 ounces fingerling potatoes and 1 medium sided idaho (this can be replaced with another 4 ounces of fingerlings) diced
    • 1 green bell pepper diced
    • 1/2 onion diced
    • 1/4 cup green onion sliced
    • 4 eggs scrambled
    • 9 ounces diced mushrooms
    • 2 tablespoons herbs de Provence
    • 1 can rotel diced tomatoes and chilies drained

    Steps

    1. In a large oven safe pot over medium heat add a pat of butter and enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Add the potatoes, bell pepper, onion, and mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Pre-heat oven to 400.
    2. Once the vegetables have softened to the point of almost being done, add the green onions, rotel, and the herbs. Mix throughly and cook for another 2 min. 
    3. Add the eggs into the vegetable mixture, and mix throughly.
    4. Put pot in the oven and bake until the eggs have set about 4 min. For a crispy top broil for about 2 min once the contents have been cooked.

    Garlic Bread Stuffing

    This is a recipe I've adapted after trying a bunch of different recipes but found that none of them really had the flavor I wanted. It's a pretty simple recipe but it requires a lot of time and effort.

    Ingredients

    • 1 loaf Italian bread
    • 6 largish pieces of garlic
    • 4 tablespoons butter
    • 3 tablespoons Herbs de Provence
    • 2 cups vegetable stock
    • 4 ribs celery diced
    • 1 large onion diced
    • 2 carrots diced
    • 1 bell pepper (pick a color you like) diced

    Steps

    1. Mince the 4 pieces garlic and mix with the butter and about a tablespoon of olive oil. If you have a small chopper I recommend throwing the mixture in there and let the blades do the work. Let the mixture sit in the fridge and firm up for about an hour. This can be made ahead of time.
    2. Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees. Cut the italian bread in half long ways and spread the garlic butter oil mixture across the bread and let bake for about 20min or until the bread is lightly brown.
    3. While the bread is baking mix the vegetables, salt, pepper, olive oil, herbs, and garlic in an aluminum try. Bake the vegetable mix for 25 min. Stir the mixture every 10 min or so. 
    4. When the bread is done baking let it cool then cube the bread into small even pieces.
    5. Mix the bread cubes with the vegetable mixture. Pour enough of the vegetable stock to make the cubes moist but not sopping wet. Put the mixture in an 400 degree oven and bake uncovered for 25 min. Stirring the mixture every 10-15min.

    Serve with your favorite piece of meat or as hearty meal on it own.

    Ratatouille

    In the words of Deckard Cain stay a while and listen…. Now that I live with a vegetarian I do cook a lot more veg food than I did before; but my old roommate was pretty much a vegetarian too so I’ve been making this recipe for a few years now. I don’t actually remember where I found the original one but over the years I’ve come to modify it for a number of cooking methods.

    While I’m currently making the ratatouille in the winter I find that the quality improves greatly in the summer with the fresher produce. Also it’s possible to grow almost all the ingredients in a small garden.

    Ingredients

    • 1 Italian Or Globe Eggplant Cubed
    • 2 Yellow Squash Cubed
    • 1 Zucchini Cubed
    • 12 White Mushrooms Sliced
    • 1 Can (12oz) Diced Tomatoes (I like the one in Italian seasoning but plain works too)
    • 2 Jalapenos Diced
    • 1 Red Pepper Diced
    • 2 Tablespoons Italian Seasoning
    • 4 Cloves Garlic Smashed
    • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
    • Salt And Pepper To Taste

    Slow Cooker Version Combine all the ingredients and add extra water to cover if necessary. Cook on low for 8; or high for 4. Every hour stir the mixture.

    Oven Version Combine all the ingredients in an oven safe dish and cook at 350 for 2 hours covered and 1 hour uncovered.

    Stove Top Version 1. In a large pot on medium heat, add the olive oil and garlic. When the garlic becomes fragrant add the mushrooms and red pepper. 2. Once the mushrooms have becomes slightly soft add the jalapenos, eggplant, squash, and zucchini. Mix well and let sit for a few minutes before adding the Italian seasoning. 3. Add the tomatoes and mix well. Turn the heat to low and cook for another 30min or until the vegetables reach your preferred level of doneness.

    This can be eaten as a hearty stew, on top of rice, or my favorite with a large piece of garlic bread.

    Roasted Mushrooms

    There were mushrooms in my fridge and a slow cooker on my counter and so we get this easy side or main dish.

    Ingredients

    • 1 package whole mushrooms (I used baby bella but they are really the same as button mushrooms and the flavor is the same)
    • Butter
    • Thyme
    • Garlic (crushed, diced, or powder if that’s all you have)
    • Olive Oil

    Steps

    1. Heat the slow cooker on high for about 5 min then add a large pat of butter and some olive oil to cover the base. Add in the herbs and garlic.
    2. Clean off the mushrooms and remove the stems and toss with the oil. Liberally sprinkle the salt and pepper over the mushrooms and add ¼ of a cup of water.
    3. Slow cooker recipes are pretty standard in cooking: 6 on low, 3 on high.

    I added the mushrooms to some freshly cooked pasta for a pretty filling meal but they also make a great side for a piece of meat or as topping on a burger.

    Crepe

    crepe

    When I was an undergrad there was this great food truck on campus that sold nothing but crepes both sweet and savory. The place was fast, cheap, and delicious. Since leaving Philly I’ve always wanted to find a new go to crepe place but sadly I’ve yet to find a great place. Over the past 2 weeks I did try out 2 very good places. In Washington, DC I went to Point Chaud Café and in Alexandria I went to Fontaine Caffe, both were good but a bit pricy. I began to wonder how hard can it be to make crepes? I mean they are just thin pancakes. So I found a recipe from Alton Brown and made some minor modifications.

    Note: You need to rest the batter for at least 1 hour in the fridge but it can stay in the fridge for up to 24 hours

    Ingredients

    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    • ¾ cup milk
    • ½ cup water
    • 1 cup AP flour
    • 3 tablespoons melted butter for batter + 2 tablespoons to cover pan

    Fillings can be whatever you like, I had frozen strawberries, nutella, and some black raspberry jam.

    Steps

    1. In a blender combine the butter, eggs, milk, water, and vanilla extract. Blend for 1 min until the egg yolks break. Then add he flour and blend for another 1 min.  Store the mixture in the fridge for at least an hour to chill.
    2. Using a small ladle pour the batter into a small non-stick pan that has been well buttered. Pour the batter into the middle of the pan and move the pan around to evenly spread the batter across the pan. Cook the crepe for about 40 seconds then flip. Cook the second side for 30 seconds.  I found it hard to flip the crepe without removing it from the pan onto a plate then putting it back into the pan.
    3. Fill the warm crepes with your choice of filling and enjoy. The made crepes should be stored with wax paper between crepes to prevent sticking and can stay good for 8 days in the fridge and 30 in the freezer.

    Sweet Potato Hash and Eggs

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    I came up with this recipe after being massively disappointed by a restaurant offering customized breakfast potatoes and eggs.

    Ingredients

    • Eggs
    • 8 ounces of sausage ( I just removed the meat from 2 mild Italian sausage links)
    • ½ a bag of frozen sweet potato fries
    • 1 red pepper roughly chopped
    • 1 green pepper roughly chopped
    • 1 onion diced
    • 2 teaspoons Italian season blend (I like Mrs Dash)

    Steps

    1. follow the cooking instructions on the fries but pull the fries from the oven when they are almost done. Roughly chop the fries into bite sized pieces.
    2. In an oven safe skillet melt a pat of butter and some olive oil then begin to brown the sausage. After 2 minutes add the veggies, salt, pepper and the Italian seasoning. Continue to cook until the veggies just become soft.
    3. Once the veggies are soft add the fries to the mixture and place the skillet into the oven to keep warm.
    4. Cook your eggs so that the yolks remain runny, I went with poached (I’ll be making a separate mini-post on the method I used later).  When the eggs are done place on top of the hash and enjoy the creaminess of the yolk and the hash.

    I made this same recipe without the sausage and it came out great, but I would just increase the amount of seasoning.

    Mexican Gumbo

    Mexican Gumbo

    I was attempting to make tortilla soup but I over spiced the mix and ended up having to add some extra rice to it; but this turned out to be a great decision the final product was filling, spicy, and flavorful.

    Ingredients

    • 2 cans rotel diced tomato
    • 1 onion chopped roughly
    • a handful of garlic
    • 1 quart vegetable stock
    • 1 can corn
    • 1 can black beans drained
    • .25 cup arborio rice
    • 1.5 teaspoon Cumin
    • .5 teaspoon Ancho Chili Powder
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    • .5 teaspoon Chipotle Powder

    Toppings

    • corn tortillas for crisp tortila strips
    • Avocados or guacamole
    • mexican shredded cheese
    • sour cream

    Steps

    1. In a large dutch oven heat 2 tablespoons of oil and a small pat of butter until the butter melts. Add Onion and Garlic until the onion becomes translucent.
    2. Add spice mixture and mix throughly. Once the spices become fragrant add the beans, rotel and corn; mix throughly. Cook over medium heat for 10min then add vegetable stock.
    3. Bring mixture to a simmer and cook for 30min. Then bring mixture to a rolling boil and add rice. Cook for 20 min stirring frequently.
    4. While the rice is cooking make the tortilla strips. Cut up 8-10 tortillas into strips. Pre-heat oven to 450. Mix the strips with a generous amount of olive oil and spread onto a single layer in a lined sheet pan. Cook for 6 mix or so, stirring halfway through.
    5. Serve the Gumbo with cut up avocado, tortila strips, cheese, and sour cream.