Hungarian Chicken Paprikush

 

This is in my top 5 favorite meals of all time!

A Hungarian (or maybe Slovak?) recipe handed down from my grandmother and mother. It is simple to make, just a few ingredients. It does take a bit of time and some labor-intensive steps, however the end product is so worth it!

Finished Chicken Paprikush

The noodles can of course be bought, but making your own noodles is well worth the effort. They taste so much better than any store bought noodles ever could.

Ingredients:

  • Chicken
  • Water
  • Sour cream
  • Flour
  • Paprika
  • Salt & pepper
For this I used 4 chicken leg quarters, because dark meat gives the soup a richer flavor. You can use white, dark, or a mixture of both. Put the chicken in a pot and cover it with water plus a little bit extra. Maybe a gallon and a half of water.
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Boil for at least 2 hours or until chicken is no longer pink at all. Take the chicken out and pull all the meat off the bone. Throw the bones, skin, fat, and any other non-edible parts away and return the meat to the pot. I did this step the night before and refrigerated it until the next day but you can also just continue right into the next step.
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The second step is creating what I think is called a “zapraska”.
This is how you mix in the sour cream without it curdling. The sour cream should be left out at room temperature. Mix about 1 cup sour cream with 2 tbsp. flour (omit the flour if you want watery soup) in a separate bowl. Then slowly add soup to it while mixing continuously.
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The soup will slowly warm up the sour cream. Continue adding and mixing well until it is warm. Then you add the zapraska to the main soup bowl and mix it all together. Add paprika, salt and pepper to taste.
And now for the fun part! You get to make your own noodles. Trust me, it is super duper easy. Honestly, cleaning up afterwards probably takes longer than making them.
Noodles:
  • Eggs
  • Flour
The ratio will depend on how many noodles you need to make. I only needed a small amount, so I used 6 eggs and approximately 1 cup of flour.  You will also need a noodle maker, we call it a “shusher’. I don’t know what it actually is called. If you don’t have one of those, you can always drop the dough with a spoon into the water; this will create larger dumpling like noodles.
Scramble the eggs in a large bowl. Mix the eggs and flour together a little bit at a time. Keep adding flour until it has a doughy consistency. A spoon left in it should basically be able to stand upright.
Get a big pot of water to a rolling boil. Then pour the dough into the top basket of the shusher. Push it back and forth so the dough drips through into the boiling water.
Make sure to stir a few times throughout so that the noodles don’t all stick together. Keep going until all the batter is used up. Drain the noodles completely.
These will be the sweetest, saltiest, most eggy and delicious noodles you may ever have had! Put some into a bowl, and pour the soup and chicken on top. You can add some extra paprika or salt to taste.

 

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Slow cooker BBQ pulled pork

 

Slow cookers are a godsend to any busy cook, I myself often throw ingredients in it early in the day in order to come home after a long day of teaching, research, attending classes and work. But they can also add joy and flavor to a lazy Sunday. As the weather cools, warm and filling foods fill my imagination. This led to inspiration for some slow cooked BBQ pork.

Ingredients:
1 pork loin
5-6 garlic cloves
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 medium onion
1/2 cup vinegar
2-4 cups BBQ sauce of your choice

Step 1: Cut shallow grooves in the loin and insert garlic cloves. Place in the slow cooker with the vinegar, and the onion cut into chunks. Rub the top of it with the brown sugar, and put on high for 4-6 hours.

This is what it looks like after about 4 hours on high. I cut it into 4 chunks to shred it easier. Drain off the excess liquid and throw out the onion and garlic. Using two forks, shred the pork and return it to the slow cooker. Cover the meat with BBQ sauce and mix well.

Then leave it in the slow cooker on low for another 1 – 5 hours, to let it stew and the BBQ to cook into the meat. 

This is the first way to eat the pork, on a bun with some extra BBQ sauce. I had steamed broccoli and baked beans as side dishes.

However, you usually have plenty of meat left over. Therefore, this post includes a special bonus dish. With the leftovers, a great snack or even full meal is BBQ pork over tortilla chips. Just sprinkle on the pork, add cheese and heat in the microwave. Then add sour cream and enjoy!

Baked Potato Soup

As stated previously, cold weather is made for soups and stews. But you can only throw meat, vegetables, and some kind of stock together so many different ways. Sometimes I need a soup of a different texture.

Given that the days of grilling and baked potatoes are slowly fading, I decided to make the soup adaptation of baked potatoes. It is creamy, cheesy, thick and filling. Not to mention it is relatively cheap to make (especially if you skip adding the bacon, but I wouldn’t recommend it).

The way I made it, you will make the mashed potato base, and then both thin and thicken it with the broth and dairy and add-ins.

For soup base:

  • 6 medium baking potatoes
  • 3 cups of chicken broth or 3 bouillon cubes (for vegetarian use veggie broth)
  • Approximately 12 oz cheese (I used marbled cheddar and colby jack)
  • 1/2 block cream cheese

Soup additions/toppings:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup cooked bacon
  • Handful of chives
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 1/2 block cream cheese

Step 1: Wash and peel the potatoes. Cut the potatoes into quarters and add to 3 cups chicken broth. Either boil for 1 hour, or put on hot in a slow cooker for 4 hours. Then liquefy the cooked potatoes in a blender and put into a soup pot on the stove. Add the cheese and cream cheese and put on low.

Step 2: While the soup simmers, combine the milk, chives, bacon, garlic, onion and the rest of the cream cheese in a blender. Liquefy all of the ingredients, and then add to the soup pot.

Once the soup simmers and begins to thicken, taste the soup and adjust to your liking. Then if you want to be all fancy, you can serve it with a sprinkle of cheese and bacon, a dollop of sour cream and a piece or two of chives.

Lentil soup

Cooking with Herbs Lavender and Lovage
This soup was inspired by the place I waitress at for the soup base (which I forget the fancy name of) and a version which adds sausage. Omit it if you want something vegetarian. It is healthy and hearty, perfect for a nippy fall evening. It makes quite a bit, so be prepared to share, store or eat it for every meal for a few days!
Ingredients:
1 medium potato, diced
2-3 carrots, diced
1 can diced tomatoes
2-3 mild sausages, sliced (omit for vegetarian)
2 cups lentils
3 cups water or stock of your choice
3 celery ribs
1/2 medium onion
4 sprigs parsley
4 cloves garlic
a handful fresh basil
a few tbsp olive oil
black pepper to taste
 
1. In a large pot, get the water or stock boiling.
2. While heating the water, in a blender, combine the celery, herbs, onion, garlic and a few tbsp olive oil and liquefy into a paste. This is the base of the soup, and adds an indescribably fresh and delicious flavor!
3. Add the base to the pot, along with all the veggies and 2 cups of lentils.
4. Brown the sausage (loose or sliced, I cut mine into slices) in a pan. Add those to the pot.
5. Let the whole thing simmer at least 1 hour. Alternatively, you can put all the same ingredients into a Crock Pot on high for 4-6 hours.
6. Enjoy! It tastes even better after sitting in the fridge overnight or a few days!
 

This recipe submitted to the May 2014 “Cooking with Herbs” challenge!

Cooking with Herbs Lavender and Lovage

Many uses for ground beef: Nachos

Recently I bought 5 pounds of ground beef to save money. Buying in bulk is great when it’s a.) something you will for sure use and b.) cheaper per weight than not buying in bulk. It’s something I tend to eat a lot of, especially because I love tacos.

Therefore I cooked up half a batch with taco seasoning and turned 2 pounds of it into chili. The tacos get old after a while though, so to switch it up I used some of it for taco salad (recipe posted earlier) and some for this great snack whenever you want something substantial but not a true meal.

Ingredients:
Ground beef

Taco seasoning
Tortilla chips
Whatever toppings you like: cheese, salsa, sour cream, lettuce, etc.

Step 1: Brown the beef and drain off the extra grease. Add in 1/4 cup taco seasoning and 1/2 cup water. Let the beef simmer in the seasoning until all water evaporates and the beef is well seasoned. 

Step 2: Heap a handful of nachos onto a plate, and cover with a layer of beef. Then top with whatever you like. 

Nachos bel grande at home

Here I used salsa that I made and canned myself, so the beef and nachos ($1 or so at Aldi) were the only things paid for. I usually add some shredded mexican blend cheese and/or beans too. Enjoy your snack!

 
 
What’s your favorite nacho topping?

 

Caprese Pasta

If you’ve never had a Caprese Salad, you’re missing out. Layer toasted french bread, thick slices of fresh tomato and mozzarella cheese and fresh basil leaves. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette, and you have a simple and delicious summer treat.

I decided to adapt that idea into a pasta dish. I have a Basil plant which is on its last leg, some cherry tomatoes from my a friend’s garden, pasta in the pantry, and chicken in the freezer. All I had to buy is the mozzarella.

 
Ingredients:
1 boneless skinless chicken breast (omit for vegetarian)
3 garlic cloves
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cup pasta (garden mix rotini)
1 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
Handful of basil leaves, rinsed
1/4 cup mozzarella
 
Boil enough water to fully cover pasta. Once at a rolling boil, add in the pasta. While the pasta is cooking, melt a few tbsp butter in a frying pan. Cut the chicken breast into chunks. Fry on low heat until the chicken is fully cooked, no pink in the center. Add in diced garlic cloves and turn off heat.
Once pasta is al dente, about 8-10 minutes, drain and put back in the pan. Add the cooked chicken and garlic to the hot pasta. Use the now vacant pan and add cherry tomato halves, a little more butter, basil leaves and cheese cut in cubes. Stir until cheese melts and everything is well mixed. Pour over the pasta and chicken. Mix well and enjoy!
 
 

Homemade Minestrone soup

Fall is finally in the air. The temperature is cooling off but the sun still shines. The best season of the year, in my opinion, not too hot but not yet cold. It makes me want apple cider, bonfires, and pumpkin pie.

And my personal favorite thing about the weather cooling off is having soup and stew nearly every day! They are so easy to make, usually the cheapest recipes around, and have endless creative possibility! Look forward to plenty of soup recipes coming up.

So a few days ago, I took stock of my pantry and saw I had 1/2 box of mini shell pasta, a bag of frozen mixed veggies, some potatoes that need used soon, and a can of kidney beans. Add in some garden-fresh tomatoes from a friend’s mother’s garden, and we have inspiration for a minestrone soup!

You’ll need:
1/2 bag frozen mixed vegetables
1 cup mini shells
1 can kidney beans
2 small potatoes
4-5 tomatoes
Garlic
Black pepper
Chicken bouillon cubes (or veggie stock)
6 cups water

Into a large soup pot, pour the water and about 3 chicken bouillon cubes and bring to a boil. Peel the potatoes and dice them finely. Add those in. Dice up the tomatoes, add those. Pour in the can of kidney beans, juice and all, and as much of the vegetables as you want.
Then add in the shells, season and simmer 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. This made about 5 servings for me, 2 of which I ate immediately. The rest was put in the fridge in Tupperware for lunches and dinners throughout the week.
It can also be made in larger batches and frozen for days when you don’t feel like cooking. You can as always experiment with pasta shape, vegetables included, spices, add some tomato paste or basil. Make it your own and enjoy!

Chili cheese dogs

Well, now I am all moved in to a new apartment, and ready for a new semester. I will do my best to keep up with posting between teaching a different class, juggling 3 jobs and school, and as always trying my hand at anything and everything in the kitchen.

Now that the weather has taken a turn for the colder, it’s time to shelve the hazy days of summer and start enjoying one of the few benefits of fall/winter: chili, soups and stews! Most people gain a little weight over winter not only because it is too cold to run outside (because that IS the only reason we aren’t out there training for a 5K right?) but also because winter is stick-to-your-ribs type food to warm us up. Comfort food at its best.

And what better as a comfort food than chili? There are a million ways to tweak a basic chili to make the recipe your own, and I will put my own personal version up soon. However, I will first tell you what poor college kids do with left over chili: slather hot dogs with it!

The best way to fancy up an all-American winter treat:
2 hot dogs
1 cup of chili
1/4 cup (or more) shredded cheese
2 buns or pieces of bread

Step 1: Cut the hot dogs long ways, but not all the way through, so it’s like a hinge. Put them in a pan and cook about 4 minutes on each side, till they just turn brown where they touch the pan.

Step 2: Put the dogs on the bread or buns. You can also toast the bread/buns first in the pan. Pour the chili on top, and top with shredded cheese of your choice. You can make the chili yourself or buy a side from a fast food place. Relish, diced onion, or jalapenos optional.

Taco Salad!

When you’re hungry for Mexican but don’t want to go out, don’t have much time, want to eat healthy, or don’t want too many ingredients (or all of the above), you can’t beat a Taco Salad. Quick and easy, it can be as healthy or unhealthy as you want it.

Having just moved into a new apartment, most of my kitchen is not yet unpacked. Besides that, I don’t have an oven. I know, shocking. That eliminated about 1/3 of my cooking repertoire. However, this tasty salad requires only one pan, and little effort, so you can make it happen in under 20 minutes.

 
Ingredients:
1 head romaine lettuce, or 1 bag pre-cut mix
1-2 tomatoes
Doritos
Shredded cheese, preferably cheddar or Mexican mix
Catalina dressing
1 lb. ground beef
Taco seasoning
1/2 cup water 
Black olives (optional)


Step 1: Brown the ground beef in a skillet. Drain off the excess fat, and add 1/4 cup taco seasoning and 1/2 cup water slowly, stirring it all together. Leave on low heat for about 10 minutes to allow the seasoning to cook into the beef. 

Step 2: While waiting, chop up the Romaine and tomato and place in a large bowl. When all seasoning is cooked in, pour taco meat over top. Sprinkle on the cheese, crush up a few handfuls of Doritos, and douse with Catalina dressing. 

The Doritos give it a cheesy crunch and the dressing is just enough tang, while the sweet works with the spice of the taco seasoning. It is so tasty! Obviously, if you go heavy on the lettuce and tomato and light on the beef plus nix the Doritos and dressing, it is much healthier. But where’s the fun in that? 😉

What’s your favorite salad topping?

 

At-home stir fry, no take out required

 

One of my favorite super-cheap, super-flexible meals is stir fry. As a lover of all things salty, soy sauce in particular, stir frys are always a staple. You can use virtually any kind of rice, veggies, and/or meats.

This is what I had left in my freezer/cabinets:

1 bag frozen mixed vegetables
1 cup white rice
1 cooked steak (not sure what cut)
1 pint mushrooms
1/2 bag frozen edamame
Soy sauce
Garlic salt

While the edamame and rice were boiling (follow directions on box or bag) I put the veggies and mushrooms into a frying pan with about 4 tbsp. soy sauce.

I cut the steak into small chunks, and added that to the pan. Once the rice and edamame were done, I put all the ingredients in together with some more soy sauce and a healthy sprinkle of garlic salt.

After eating my fill, I had at least 3 meals left over to put in the fridge for the rest of the week.
A lesson I learned from this: don’t put oregano in it. I tried to get fancy with the spices, but then it tasted less chinese-inspired and more like messed-up pasta.

The fusion of food, fun, frugality, and curiosity.