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Cooking Ripe! 2012 Review and 2013 Preview

What to do with all of those little yummies?Cooking Ripe! has moved to: CookingRipe.com – please join us on the new site!

Cooking Ripe! was launched in late August of 2012 and has had just under 3000 views so far. It’s been very exciting to get to share my garden-to-table recipes with so many people in such a short time. I’ve been learning a lot about this whole food blogging business and I am ready to take things to next level!

Coming in 2013: Cooking Ripe! will be moving to a new hosting site where we’ll have our very own domain name: CookingRipe.com. YAY! Our very own dot com address. Legit, right? With this change, you’ll notice that the blog will undergo some spiffing up and will get a new overall look. I hope to make it a little more user friendly by adding some slick tools that will make things like recipe printing and pinning a little easier. We’ll likely have a little downtime while we complete the migration process, but don’t worry – I’ll give you plenty of warning when it’s time. Stay tuned for more details on the New & Improved Cooking Ripe!

Tops in 2012: In our few short months online, I’ve had great traffic and feedback on the blog posts. Below is a list of the five most viewed posts on Cooking Ripe! in 2012. Have you tried all of these yet? If not, you better get cookin!

1. The number 1 most viewed post on the blog is Homemade Pumpkin Puree. I had a whole crop of volunteer pie pumpkins in the garden this year, so I had to learn to make my own puree. I’ll never go back to canned! It tastes so fresh and it’s so versatile. Try the many other Cooking Ripe! pumpkin recipes, too.

Roasted Pumpkin Puree

2. The runner-up as the most viewed post is the Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup. I LOVE soup and LOVE orange food, and apparently my readers share my love of soup and orange since it was the second most popular post. This is a simple and creamy cold weather soup with a little ginger kick. Check out the other Cooking Ripe! soup lover recipes.

Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup

3. Number 3 is my personal favorite, as you can tell by its title: Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Pasta – the BEST pasta you’ll ever eat! Really. You have to try this recipe if you haven’t yet. I got an eggplant in my Bountiful Basket last time and I am thrilled to get to make this recipe again this week. The Hubs doesn’t even mind repeats of this one!

Roasted Eggplant Pasta

4. One would assume this next post would have been number 1 since it includes BACON! and everything is better with bacon, right? Caramelized Brussels Sprouts – with BACON! I try not to cook or eat it very often, but once in awhile you gotta live, right? Brussels sprout lovers and haters can unite to love this recipe, I promise!

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

5. Last, but certainly not least in the round-up of most viewed posts is the Southwestern Green Chile and Corn Potato Chowder. Yes, another soup made the list! This one is creamy and spicy without any heavy cream at all. This is a great recipe to use up your preserved roasted green chiles and warm up on a cool night.

Hatch Green Chile and Potato Corn Chowder

Remember, you can go to Cooking Ripe’s Recipe Index for a complete list of all of the recipes. Also, if you haven’t joined me on Pinterest yet, it’s high time! And, finally – like Cooking Ripe! on Facebook to stay up to date on all blog updates and other tasty tidbits. Stay tuned for a great new year of growing and cooking!

Thank you all for your support. Cheers to a delectable 2013!

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Pumpkin, Rice and Bean Burritos

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The ghosts and goblins have retired for another year, but I bet you still have some sweet pumpkins hanging around the house or you have some frozen or canned pumpkin puree. If you’ve got some puree on hand, this is a super fast, super easy, and super flavorful meal the whole family will adore. You can make it as spicy as you like – or not – and you can get it on the table in a flash! Oh, and the nutritional content is simply amazing: all sorts of fiber from beans and pumpkin, lots of vitamins and it’s very low carb and low fat!

I promise (fingers crossed behind my back) this will be the last pumpkin recipe I’ll share – for a little while, anyway. I have almost used up all of my pumpkin from my little patch, so I actually bought four more little sweet pumpkins during the after-Halloween sale because I just can’t get enough! The Hubs rolled his eyes when we saw the new ones arrive from the store. “Oh… more pumpkin,” he said less-than-gleefully. Whatever. I love the stuff, so I’m going to keep roasting, pureeing and putting it in anything and everything. Hands up if you’re with me!

You might think that a pumpkin burrito would be sweet – which it could be if you made it that way – but these burritos are savory and spicy and definitely not reminiscent of pumpkin pie. I got the idea when I had a pumpkin burrito at a local hole-in-the-wall Mexican kitchen in Durango where the daughter now lives. It was pretty simple: pumpkin and green chile, so I thought I’d whip up my own version of it at home.

Here’s how:

It’s really simple if you have some puree and some rice ready. I swear it was ready in about 15 minutes. I use a rice cooker, so I made some short grain brown rice earlier in the day. Then, simply saute the onions until translucent, then add the garlic and cook for a minute. Finally, add the rest of the ingredients to the skillet and cook over medium-low heat until hot throughout. If you let it sit a little while, the flavors will improve, but if you need to get the troops fed, just move it along. I decided to crisp the burritos in a little canola oil – not a total deep fry – to add a little crunch, but you could serve the burritos soft or you could pour some red or green chile enchilada sauce over the top for an “enchilada style” burrito.

Pumpkin, Rice and Bean Burritos

Servings: 4-6

Ingredients: (don’t be fussy about the ingredients; play around with the flavors to suit your tastes)

  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup cooked rice (I used short grain brown rice)
  • 1 can pinto (or whatever beans you prefer) beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1-2 tsp chopped green chiles (I used some of my frozen Hatch chiles)
  • 1 tsp chipotle in adobo (I keep leftovers frozen in ice cube trays)
  • 1 tsp Mexican oregano
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (I used one of my frozen discs from this recipe) – skip if you are cilantro averse. Parsley’s always a good substitute.
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 12″ flour or whole wheat tortillas
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Canola oil (optional)
  • Garnish options: shredded cheese, avocado/guacamole, sour cream, shredded lettuce, raw onion, chopped tomatoes
  • Optional: red or green enchilada sauce for “enchilada style” version

Directions:

  1. Heat a large skillet to medium-high heat. Saute onions until translucent, then add garlic and cook one more minute.
  2. Lower heat to medium-low, then add pumpkin, beans, rice, green chile, spices, and cilantro. Simmer and stir until the mixture is hot throughout. Keep the heat fairly low so it doesn’t scorch or dry out.
  3. Spoon two large scoops of pumpkin mixture into center of a tortilla and fold ends towards center, then roll up from one side.
  4. If you want to make crispy burritos, heat up about another skillet with about 1/2″ of canola oil over medium-high heat. Place burrito in pan, cook for a couple of minutes until golden, then flip over and cook the other side until golden. (Note that mine got a little overdone when I became distracted feeding the hounds – oops). Drain on paper towels.
  5. If you want enchilada style, spoon sauce over burritos, then warm in oven or microwave.
  6. Garnish and serve.

These are pretty spicy, so dial back the chipotle and green chiles if you’re not a heat freak like me – or if you’re serving small children. The Hubs said they were a little too spicy for him, but it was just right for me. He would have enjoyed some meat, like ground beef, in his but overall gave the meal a thumbs up. He was surprised to learn that one of the main ingredients was pumpkin since it just takes on the flavors of the other ingredients.

Notes for next time: this recipe is so versatile that the possibilities are endless – really. You could add some cooked meat, as the Hubs suggested: beef, pork or chicken would work. You could also use a simple taco seasoning combo instead of the spices listed above. Of course, you could use other types of beans – or a combo of more than one type. I might add some enchilada sauce inside the burrito, too. To increase the veg content, I might add some corn or spinach. Basically, anything you’d do to any other burrito, you could do here. I also think the mixture would be awesome as a tostada topper, too! PS: this stuff is even better the next day for a leftover lunch. Mhmm.

I’d love to hear your variations on this simple recipe. Leave a comment!

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Southwestern Green Chile and Corn Potato Chowder

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I took a break from my pumpkin recipes long enough to cook up a new harvest meal. I’ve been thinking about a green chile soup since we roasted our Hatch green chiles last month (how to roast and preserve Hatch chiles), but hadn’t gotten to it yet. Then today I was thinking about an easy meal I could prepare early in the day so the daughter could take some home and then we could reheat later for dinner. The daughter loves potato soup and since I got several ginormous potatoes in my Bountiful Basket yesterday, so I decided it was time to make a green chile and potato soup – or chowder.

What exactly is the difference between a soup and a chowder? I didn’t know either, so I did a little research via Google. I learned that while the traditional definition of chowder is a thick seafood soup (ie. clam chowder), the modern definition seems to be a chunky soup thickened by potatoes, onions, milk or cream (ie. corn chowder). So, because I’m using potatoes to as a thickener I’ve decided to call this recipe a chowder instead of a soup (mostly because I’ve posted two soup recipes recently and I’m proving that I’m not in a rut).

This is an easy, free-form recipe (like the rest of my recipes, right?). It came together pretty quickly and would make an easy weeknight meal. It’s also pretty healthified as we only used a tablespoon or two of butter and no cream, flour or milk – and honestly, I think you could skip the butter and it would be just as good! The daughter took home a container for her dinner and the Hubs and I finished the rest ourselves. The Hubs loved the soup, I mean chowder. He liked the heat and creaminess, but lamented that the addition of bacon or ham would have made it that much better. I rolled my eyes, but feel free to take his advice and add some cooked bacon or ham to make a heartier soup chowder.

Dice onions, garlic, green chiles and potatoes to start chowder

Simmer potatoes with the rest of the ingredients

My frozen disc of cilantro sauce – I use this stuff in EVERYTHING

Hatch Green Chile and Potato Corn Chowder

Southwestern Green Chile & Corn Potato Chowder

Servings: 4-6

Ingredients:

(Don’t be fussy about measuring anything and add more or less spices or ingredients to taste)

  • 3-6 russet potatoes, peeled and diced (I used three HUGE potatoes)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3-4 Hatch green chiles, roasted, peeled and seeded (sub Anaheim or poblano chiles if you don’t have Hatch chiles)
  • 3-4 cups vegetable stock or chicken broth (I used my homemade veg stock)
  • 2-3 cups water, reserved from boiling potatoes
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1-2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 2-4 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (I used some of my frozen cilantro sauce that I learned to make from this genius post) – optional if you aren’t a cilantro-lover
  • 1 can sweet corn, drained
  • 1 glug of Worcestershire sauce (optional, but I think it adds richness)
  • Cracked black pepper to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add potatoes and boil until fork tender. Drain, reserving 2-3 cups of the water.
  2. While potatoes drain in a colander, cover the bottom of the pan with with EVOO and warm over medium heat. Add onion and cook until they begin to soften. Add garlic and cook for another minute.
  3. Add the vegetable stock or chicken broth to the pan, and bring to a soft boil. Stir in the green chiles, salt, cumin and coriander. Reduce to a simmer for about 5 minutes.
  4. Return potatoes to the pot and stir. Add reserved potato water, 1 cup at a time until potatoes are covered. Stir in Worcestershire sauce, cilantro and pepper and simmer another 5-10 minutes.
  5. Remove pot from heat. Add butter, if using. Use an immersion blender to blend the soup to desired consistency (or pulse in batches in a blender). Our family likes a few chunks, so I don’t blend it very long.
  6. Stir in the corn and lime juice and let simmer for a few minutes to heat the corn.

Serve with some crusty bread or warmed tortillas. Garnish with some parsley or cilantro.

Great soup chowder the next day, but you may need to add more stock or water to thin a bit as the potatoes continue to soak up the liquid. If you want a little more creaminess, you could add more butter or even some milk and blend into the mixture.

Notes for next time:

When the soup chowder was almost finished, I realized I should have included some little diced carrots, which would have added some nice color, but also even more texture and flavor. I think I might also play around with adding other peppers – a jalapeno, maybe, or a sweet red bell pepper. Also, I might play with the spices by adding some chile powder or a smidge of chipotle in adobo. Another twist might be to throw in some diced tomatoes, but that might change the chowder back to soup.

Leave a comment and let me know how your soup chowder turns out.

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Roasting and Preserving Hatch Green Chiles

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Today was a busy food prep and preservation day here at the casa. I worked on preserving garden tomatoes (canned and roasted/frozen – we’ll talk about that later) and the Hubs roasted and packed 25 pounds of Hatch green chiles.

If you are not familiar with Hatch green chiles, you have not been living life! Those of us who live in the Southwest rely on Hatch green chiles to feed our spicy appetites. They are grown in Hatch, New Mexico and they are considered to be the primer chiles in all of North America. You may be more familiar with an Anaheim chile, which is a cousin to the class Hatch chile.  They come in various heat levels, but the medium provides a nice bit of heat that is not going to light your tonsils on fire. Every year around Labor Day, the local big box store offers Hatch chiles by the case. You can even have them roasted outside the store so you can take them home pre-roasted and then just clean and freeze – or even just freeze and clean later. At our house, we have purchased the big box chiles several times and had them roasted for easy preservation. Anytime the Hubs wants to make his famous green chile (stew), he can take out a baggie, peel and seed and be ready to go.

But this year, Bountiful Baskets offered 25 pounds for only $18.00, which was less expensive than the big box’s basic price. With my new “scratch cooking” attitude, I thought it would be prudent to buy the less expensive chiles and roast them at home. And by roast them at home, I mean that the Hubs could roast them out on the grill. He grew up watching his dad do the same, so I knew he could figure it out. He agreed and our box arrived Saturday. 25 pounds looks bigger than it sounds.

25 lbs is…well, a lot!

Because chiles have a tougher outer skin than another type of pepper, like a bell pepper, it is better to remove it before cooking. That’s where the roasting comes in. Roasting blisters the outer skin, making it easier to remove. You can roast them in the oven under the broiler, or out on the grill. Given that it’s still warm in most of the country, the grill is probably the better way to go – and you can probably do more at a time on the grill. The Hubs happily set up his ‘shop’ out in the carport by pre-heating the grill and setting up a card table to use as his workspace. Once the grill was heated to low-medium heat, he loaded up both levels with chiles.

Roast the chiles on a low-medium fire, turning as they blacken.

See the black parts? That’s good! Keep turning the chiles, blackening them on all sides. While you don’t want to become charcoal briquettes, you do want them to be charred all over. Once they are finished, remove from the grill and place in a bowl covered with plastic wrap. Since we were doing a huge quantity, the Hubs used a big garbage bag. Placing them in the bag or covered bowl allows them to steam, which helps the skin separate from the chile, making removal easier.

Placing the roasted chiles in a big bag or plastic-covered bowl allows the chiles to steam for easier peeling.

Once all of the chiles are roasted, you can either peel and seed them or you can just go ahead and bag them up in freezer bags for immediate freezing. We did a little of both – well, mostly we bagged them up and only peeled and seeded some for easier food prep later. If you bag them, be sure to use freezer bags – or you could always use glass or plastic containers. The little baggies can then be combined into larger freezer bags for double protection from freezer burn. When you place the roasted chiles in the baggies, seal them immediately because it helps that steaming process. Then let cool completely before freezing. The Hubs knows how much he usually uses for making his chile, so he bags up the amount he likes. We don’t weigh or measure much around here, we eye-ball proportions. Here’s what they looked like:

We ended up with 19 little bags of roasted chiles. I took out probably about two bags to peel and seed.

For the chile I wanted to peel and seed before freezing, I put them into a glass bowl and covered with plastic wrap. The longer it sits and steams, the better. Basically, let it sit and cool, then take it out and peel off the blackened skin and pull off the stem. Note: Some recommend wearing gloves while handling chiles, but I like to live on the edge and never do – and had no issues. Finally, scrape out the seeds – I like to rinse the seeds out under some running water. You should end up with chiles that look like this:

Peeled and seeded chiles

Once clean and dry, you can go ahead and cook with them immediately or throw them in the fridge for tomorrow, or freeze for later use. I knew that I would be more likely to use them if they were diced and ready to go – like those little cans from the store. So, I diced them up and packed them tightly into some small glass jars (I think they were marinated artichoke jars). Remember, if you’re freezing, you can use up-cycled jars and lids, but if you’re actually canning, you must use mason jars with new lids. To avoid freezer burn and to allow me scrape spoonfuls of green chile out whenever I need some for a recipe, I mixed in a few teaspoons of olive oil. I packed them really tightly to prevent air bubbles, also. Now I have three little jars of ready-to-go diced chiles in the freezer.

Pack diced chiles with olive oil so you can scrape out spoonfuls as needed.

Very tightly pack the chiles to express air bubbles and prevent freezer burn.

I probably should have taken the time to clean up more of the chiles before freezing, but with the tomato preservation going on simultaneously, I was not up to it. That said, if you do a big batch like this and do take the time to clean more, I would recommend doing a combo of dicing and leaving some whole and then maybe slicing some into strips. That way you would have a variety of options you could pull out of the freezer for later.

What would you do with all of those options? Well, here in the SW, we would argue that you could add green chile to almost anything you cook, but you may not be quite so inclined. Obviously, you can put green chile into anything Mexican: tacos, burritos, enchiladas, guacamole, salsa, pico de gallo, etc. Chile relleno is a classic green chile recipe (the Hubs and I are working on remembering how his mama used to make the non-deep fried, old-school version). I also use green chile to add flavor and a little heat to classic bean chili, and various soups, chowders and stews. You can also wake up boring burgers and other sandwiches with strips of green chiles – I ADORE an occasional classic egg sandwich with green chiles. Basically, like a bell pepper or even an onion, you can throw green chile into anything you want to add a little flavor to. There are many websites dedicated to green chile recipes; I pinned some ideas onto my “Green Chile” board on Pinterest. Also, check out Cooking Ripe’s Facebook page for more green chile tips and tricks. Check out my Southwestern Green Chile & Potato Corn Chowder recipe.

I’ll show you a few of our family recipes that feature green chile soon. Here’s a sneak peek at the Hub’s green chile (which is what we call green chile pork stew). He makes it the way he learned growing up. We usually make it into enchiladas or wrap it up into burritos. I know, I said was mostly going to show you super healthy recipes, but it’s Hatch chile season, so we have to have some old fashioned enchiladas, right? All things in moderation. 🙂

Green Chile (pork stew)

Please reply below to share your favorite green chile recipes.

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