Cooking with Kali

My personal spin on my favorite recipes

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Homemade Chicken and Stars Soup

Homemade Chicken and Stars Soup

When my boyfriend finally woke up today, he asked how my day had been. I told him that I’d been pretty lazy, but I had made some soup. He jokingly asked if that somehow made me not lazy. Well, considering that I made it from scratch, it kind of does. :P

Publix was having a great BOGO sale on pasta yesterday, so I decided to get some stars pasta. I already had chicken bouillon and some chicken, so I was set to made some delicious soup.

I used the George Foreman grill to cook the chicken - I love how juicy the meat is, and it requires little effort on my part. Then I shredded the chicken. I put brought two cups of water to a boil, and then poured in half a cup of stars. After two minutes, I added the bouillon so the stars would soak in a bit of the flavor, and then I added the chicken after that. It was ridiculously easy. The longest part of the recipe was cooking the chicken, which took about five minutes. 

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Buffalo Chicken Bonanza

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but it’s for a good reason. My last culinary adventure involved my crockpot. Now, since I usually eat alone, I’m always wary of making large quantities of anything, but I had been craving buffalo chicken like nobody’s business. So this post is a three for one deal. I’m posting the base recipe that I used for the chicken, and then two other recipes that I used it in. :)

http://mykitchenapron.blogspot.com/2011/07/crock-pot-buffalo-chicken.html

This recipe was pretty spot on. As a poor college student, I ended up going with the Texas Pete buffalo sauce, but it all worked out well. I happened to have some hot sauce, so after shredding the chicken, I made the sauce to taste. I added in some red pepper flakes from the beginning, and then some hot sauce and jalapenos after shredding the chicken. Instead of chicken breasts, I used tenderloins. They’re typically cheaper, and since you’re going to shred it anyways, there’s not much difference. 

Now I have all of this delicious shredded buffalo chicken. And I really do mean delicious. I could eat it by itself on some bread, or to complement some pasta, and I would be in heaven. But my pinterest addiction has helped me find several recipes using buffalo chicken that I’ve been itching to try.

The first one is a buffalo chicken grilled cheese sandwich. Since I had the chicken already made, I went along the regular process of making grilled cheese, and once the cheese was mostly melted, spooned some chicken on top. Before assembling the sandwich, I spread a tiny bit of blue cheese on top of the chicken for an extra little kick of flavor. For cheese, I used a mixture of sharp cheddar and mexican cheeses. It gets a little messy, so I’d recommend having a fork handy, because it’s silly to let the chicken go to waste.

http://www.closetcooking.com/2011/08/buffalo-chicken-grilled-cheese-sandwich.html

The second recipe that caught my eye was a buffalo chicken pasta salad. I’ve recently fallen in love with pasta salads. I prefer my noodles to be firmer than not, so a nice cold pasta salad always tickles my fancy. Since my chicken already had a lot of flavor, I didn’t add too much extra buffalo sauce, but I did make sure that there was enough to make the pasta salad still have a bit of heat. I used a mixture of blue cheese and ranch dressing, and forgot the mayonnaise. I added enough pasta to thicken the soup and let it chill for an hour or two. I haven’t tried it warm, but I imagine it could be eaten that way as well.

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/buffalo-chicken-pasta-salad/

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Mediterranean Pasta Salad

I originally made this to fulfill the pasta/starch attribute of a meal I was making, and immediately fell in love with it. It’s extremely simple to make, and ridiculously delicious.

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/greek-pasta-salad-i/

My favorite version:

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup white wine vingar
  • a splash lemon juice (to taste)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon white sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups cooked elbow macaroni
  • 15 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup sliced red bell peppers
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 (4 ounce) can whole black olives
  • In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic powder, basil, oregano, black pepper, and sugar. Add cooked pasta, tomatoes, red peppers, feta cheese, green onions, and olives. Toss until evenly coated. Cover, and chill 2 hours or overnight.

My tips:

I’ve always found green onions to be a hassle. I never use the whole bunch. Sometimes I include them in this dish, sometimes I don’t. The dish can survive without them. I also don’t like mushrooms, so I threw those out.

The first time I was preparing this, I didn’t have red wine vinegar. I used white wine vinegar instead. I later tried it with just red wine vinegar, and found that I didn’t like it as much. To remedy this, use an even mix of both. I also added a splash of lemon juice for an extra kick.

As a meal:

As I previously said, I discovered this dish while I was trying to find a pasta to go with a meal I was making. The meal that I made was Greek Flank Steak with a Tzatziki Yogurt Sauce and a Pear Gorgonzola Salad. Eventually, I will post about these recipes as well, and include links here. The dish is on the acidic side, so serving it with a salad with a nice cheese included is a good idea.

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Ravioli Lasagna

Everyone is always surprised when I bring up the idea of ravioli lasagna. I found the recipe once a while ago, and thought it was the most ingenious idea. You’ve already got layers of cheese and pasta right there!! This is the recipe that I vaguely followed.

http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/vegetable-and-ravioli-lasagna

My favorite version:

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
12 oz Italian sausage (optional)
1 jar Barilla Calabrese Peppers sauce
36 oz cheese ravioli
12 oz shredded mozzarella
3 tablespoons grated Asiago cheese
1.5 cups chopped bell peppers
1/2 cup chopped onions

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. If including sausage, prepare sausage as directed on package. Break sausage into small spreadable bits.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook ravioli until al dente. Drain ravioli.
3. Heat olive oil in a small frying pan. Add peppers and onions. Allow the vegetables to cook until onions are almost translucent, stirring often.
4. Spread a small amount of sauce into the baking dish. Lay down individual raviolis in dish, slightly overlapping. Spread 1 cup of mozzarella . Spread a layer of sauce, reserving enough for the final layer. Spread vegetables (and sausage) in sauce. Spread some more mozzarella. Add the last layer of ravioli. Spread the rest of the sauce over the ravioli, and then spread the rest of the mozzarella over the sauce. Sprinkle the grated asiago over the top. Cover dish with foil.
5. Bake lasagna for 35 minutes, until cheese bubbles. Then uncover and bake for 25 minutes, or until lightly browned.

My tips:

I’ve made the recipe three times now, and each time, it’s been a bit different. If you’re making it for vegetarians, it tastes perfectly fine to leave out the sausage. In that case, I typically add in more vegetables to bulk it up a bit. Stoplight peppers are a great choice.

When choosing a dish to cook in, anything at least 2 inches deep will do. I’ve never found a dish to make three layers worth, so don’t be worried. A two-layer lasagna is just fine. Make sure to spread a little sauce in the bottom of the dish before laying down the raviolis, otherwise they’ll burn and the flavor will be a bit off.

One very important recommendation I have is the sauce - you can use any sauce you want. Get creative. My absolute favorite is Barilla’s Calabrese Peppers sauce. The sauce itself, I think, is a bit too much for regular pasta, but for the lasagna, it gives it just the right punch. I’ve also used regular marinara and Newman’s Own Sockatooni (I think that’s how it’s spelled), and all have turned out wonderful. It seems like you may not have enough sauce by using just one jar, but it really is enough.

Any type of ravioli works for this as well. I prefer simple cheese ravioli, but you can always mix it up for different layers. Personally, I find that the mozzarella works very well, but you could use either parmesan or asiago for the top, or a mixture of both.

The most agonizing part of the recipe is waiting for it to finish cooking. Especially if you use the cabrese sauce, you can smell the sauce around the half hour mark. Allow at least 50 minutes for the oven portion of the cooking. You want the cheese on top to be melted, and have a golden top.

This an overall simple dish to make. I think it’s pretty hard to make it turn out bad.

As a meal:

This is a hearty dish. With or without meat, it is very filling. For working it into a meal for a small group, I would recommend serving this and a salad - for a slightly larger group, maybe adding in an appetizer. My salad of choice with this dish is a simple caesar salad. It allows the lasagna to be the shining star, and complements the flavor palate nicely. A favorite appetizer of mine for Italian meals is fresh mozzarella and tomato on bread with olive oil and basil. It’s a light, fresh start to the meal.