Mexican Meatball Soup

Mexican meatball soup from LaurenFoodE
Last week I spent a full day on the couch due to a wicked case of the tummy aches. Ironically, the Food Network has never appealed to me more. I watched a full day of cooking shows and was actually quite inspired (Little known fact about me: I’m not a fan of cooking shows… I find them quite boring. Give me Kardashians any day.).

In a particularly lackluster episode of Mexican Made Easy, there was a little shining gem of inspiration: Mexican meatball soup. The perky host is one of those people with no trace of a Mexican accent until they’re pronouncing Mexican words and then they’re fresh off the boat from Tijuana. “We’re going to start this taco dish with a TORRRR-TTTEEEEYAAAA!”

Anyway. This soup looked flavorful, easy, and perfect for dinner on a day like yesterday where it finally felt like winter in New York (oh hello there snot-freezing winds, how I’ve missed you). I grilled up some fresh bread and cheddar for grilled cheese and voila: dinner.

On the menu:
Mexican meatball soup
Makes 8 servings
Adapted from Mexican Made Easy

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
1 lb. ground beef
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/3 cup long grain rice (uncooked)
2 Tbsp freshly chopped cilantro
8 cups vegetable stock
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp Mexican oregano (or regular oregano if it’s all you have)
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 large parsnip, peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes
1 Yukon gold potato, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 zucchini, cut into 1-inch cubes
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large stockpot, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Cook onion for around 5 minutes, or just until the onion starts to cook but before it turns translucent. Let cool for at least 5 minutes.

In a medium sized bowl, combine (by hand) the onion, ground beef, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, rice*, salt, and cilantro until completely combined. Roll into 1-inch balls, wetting your hands with a little water if the ingredients start to stick to your fingers. The mixture should make around 25 meatballs.

In the same large stockpot you cooked the onions in, add vegetable stock, tomato paste, potato, oregano, and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the meatballs, zucchini, and parsnip. Reduce to a simmer and let cook for around 20 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through. Add salt and pepper as needed.

*Note: I know what you’re thinking, raw rice in the meatballs? But it does cook through completely and it is delicious! Promise.

 

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Double Chocolate Cookies

LaurenFoodE double chocolate cookies
I could’ve died for a cookie last night. The BF and I have gone on a major HBO binge and have been watching entire series worth of HBO shows in one go (I’m talking 5 seasons of The Wire in 2 weeks… it’s a sickness, really). And is any TV-watching binge complete without snacks? Of course not. But did we have any freshly baked cookies in the house? No. No, we did not. So tonight, while we embark on the final episodes of Season 1 of Game of Thrones (it took me awhile to get into, but it is soooo good… and those who are attracted to females will like it because there are topless ladies in every. single. episode. yeesh.), I will be eating my weight in chocolate cookies. You should, too.

On the menu:
Double chocolate cookies
Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies

1 cup plus 1 Tbsp butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, blend together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in vanilla extract.

In a separate smaller bowl, sift (or whisk) together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix by hand to combine. Add chocolate chips and stir together.

Drop by Tbsp sized spoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 9 – 11 minutes. Cookies will be soft when you remove them from the oven, but careful not to overbake or they will dry out. Let cool briefly on the cookie sheet and then finish cooling on a rack.

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Taco Seasoning

LaurenFoodE taco seasoning
This is one of those posts you should bookmark and reference any time you’re making tacos. If you’re anything like me you accumulate spices like hoarders accumulate cats. This means you can easily make your own taco seasoning whenever the mood strikes you, instead of buying those pre-packaged Ortega thingamajigs in the grocery store. Homemade over store bought? Win.

On the menu:
Taco seasoning
Makes enough seasoning for 1 pound of ground meat

1/2 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (you can add more if you like your tacos spicy)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Whisk spices together in a small bowl. Cook ground meat (such as beef or turkey) in a skillet with a little oil over medium heat. Just before meat is completely cooked through, add spice mixture. Cook until done and serve.

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Steak Salad with Blue Cheese and Tomatoes

Steak salad by LaurenFoodE
This dinner seems like a no-brainer but I needed to see it on another blog to make me think, “Oh yeah… that’s different!” It is so easy, relatively cheap, and takes all of 15 minutes to prepare. You’re welcome.

On the menu:
Steak salad with blue cheese and tomatoes
Serves 2

1 lb. flank steak
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup blue cheese, crumbled
6 cups arugula (or however much you want – this is the bed for the salad)

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large frying pan until the oil shimmers. Cook steak on each side for 4 – 5 minutes. Once cooked, move steak off the heat and cover with a foil tent. Let meat rest for at least 15 minutes. Slice steak with a sharp knife into slices, cutting against the grain of the meat.

Plate the arugula and top with sliced steak, tomatoes, and blue cheese.

Dressing:
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp honey
1/4 cup olive oil

Whisk together all ingredients and pour over salad.

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Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting by LaurenFoodE
I don’t have to tell you about my problem with late night cakes. There really should be some sort of “Late Night Cakes Anonymous” group or something. In any case, it’s putting a reeeeeal damper on Project Lose That Holiday Weight. I may or may not have gained a small amount of weight due to excessive holiday eating (namely chimichangas and In N Out and Jack In the Box, all of which I blame on The BF and his SoCal roots). And I made one of those stupid New Year’s resolutions that I was going to get healthy in 2013, finally join the gym across the street from me, and stop eating as if I was hosting an un-televised version of Man Vs. Food.

But here’s a short story about me: The BF, being a stand up comic, works weekends and a lot of nights I find myself alone with nothing to keep me warm but a kitchen just begging to be baked in. My pantry had pumpkin, my fridge had cream cheese, and I had a recipe and a dream. You know what that means… pumpkin cake.

On the menu:
Pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting
Makes one 9 x 13 cake

4 eggs
1 2/3 cups sugar
3/4 cup canola oil
1 15-oz. can pumpkin puree
2 cups flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp all spice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to blend together the eggs, sugar, oil, and pumpkin. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice, cloves, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir together until combined. Pour into an ungreased 9 x 13 inch pan. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Frosting:
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 cups confectioners sugar
1 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla

Blend together all ingredients with an electric mixer until combined. When cake is completely cooled, spread frosting evenly over top. Refrigerate cake until serving.

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Peace Out, 2012!

It seems as if whenever December 31st rolls around, my friends and I all say, “Ugh, GOOD RIDDANCE! Next year will be so much better!” But you know what? This year I truly believe it. In 2012 I lost my job, and I’m already starting out 2013 knowing I have a new one (heyooooo). And it’s way better. Just saying.

So thank you for all of your kindness, readership, and support this past year! Here’s to a bigger, better (lucky) 2013!

photo

A light spring risotto with shrimp

 

 

Pancakes with bacon hidden inside, topped with apples

Still the most popular post on Food E.: pancakes!

 

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A delicious summer meal, totally vegetarian

 

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My second favorite restaurant meal of the year: Red Rooster Harlem

 

The only picture we snapped at Per Se (I didn't want to be that annoying girl with a flash going off at every course): Mignarises

The most amazing meal I’ve ever had: Per Se

 

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A Christmas cocktail not to be missed: cranberry pomegranate bellinis

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Studio Diner in San Diego, CA

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I spent last week in San Diego, CA with The BF and his amazing family, and in between Christmas feasts I ate a whole lot of junk food. There’s just something about this time of year that makes me want to fill my face with everything fattening, filling, sugar-coated, and greasy.

That’s normal, right?

Anyway, I thought I’d pick one meal out of many to highlight a new spot I’d never heard of in San Diego. If you’re in the area and looking for something delicious late night (or any time, really) this is the SPOT.

Studio Diner, 4701 Ruffin Road, San Diego, CA (Kearny Mesa neighborhood). The diner is a 1940s throwback, decorated with movie memorabilia and set just outside Stu Segall Productions, a working TV and movie set (Silk Stalkings and Renegades were filmed here). Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives filmed an episode here and it’s been bustling 24/7 ever since. The menu is chock-full of diner favorites, and breakfast is served all day (and night) long.

On the menu:
Chili “Crew” Burger with coleslaw
Monte Cristo
Black and white shake

Verdict: I died and went to diner heaven! Truth be told, I have yet to find a really great old school diner in New York City. They’re all Greek, or giant portioned, or overpriced and underwhelming. But this place hit the spot. The burger was open faced and covered in chili, red onions, and cheese and resting on a toasted bun. The coleslaw was creamy and clearly freshly made, the milkshakes were super thick and come half in the fountain glass and half in the tall silver shake cup, and the Monte Cristo was fried to perfection. I highly recommend this spot at any time of the day, but specifically in the wee hours of the morning. Just be forewarned: it’ll be packed.

 

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