Redemption and bear-shaped tostadas

Football Game Food

Last week, I made some delicious game-day food for the return of Sunday Football at Jim’s place.

Unfortunately, as a result of Cutler’s awful debut performance, I was too dejected to actually post about it.

Since I went to great lengths to make bear-shaped food, and the Bears redeemed themselves tonight in an exhilarating win, I think I’ll get around to posting about that meal now. Plus, this tortilla soup is way too good not to share.

Tostada and tortilla soup

Black Bean Bear Tostadas and Tortilla Soup

For the Tortilla Soup you’ll need:

3 chicken breasts

1 cup chicken stock

1 zucchini finely chopped

1 onion finely chopped

1-2 jalapenos (depending on how spicy you like it) minced

2 small tomatoes or 6 cherry tomatoes

1 red bell pepper

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 can refried beans

salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons corn flour or corn starch

For the Black Bean Tostadas you’ll need:

corn tortillas (recipe follows)

2 cans black beans

1/2  medium-sized onion, minced

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

vegetable oil for frying

Let’s start with the tortilla soup. This recipe is easy-as-can-be thanks to the slow cooker. If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can use a large pot or dutch oven, but you’ll have to stir frequently, keep the stove at a low heat and keep a close eye on your soup. And if you don’t have a slow cooker, you really should invest in one.

Brown your chicken breasts in a skillet with some olive oil. Meanwhile, roast your red pepper and tomatoes with a little olive oil under the broiler until they get a nice char on them.

Roasted Red Pepper_2

Remove the blackened skin from the peppers and tomatoes—plastic sandwich baggies work well for this:

Roasted Red Pepper_3

A little char left on is OK. Blend your tomatoes and red pepper together until smooth.

Roasted Red Pepper_4

Add all the ingredients except for the corn flour to the slow cooker and cook on high for three to four hours or low for six to eight hours. Towards the end of the cooking, shred the chicken (I used two forks) and add the corn flour to thicken the soup. Garnish with tortilla strips (I made my own—see the tostada recipe below) and shredded cheese.

Chicken Tortilla Soup_2

For the black bean tostadas, first make your refried black beans.

Cook the minced onions in the vegetable oil until they become translucent. Mix all of the other ingredients (except the corn tortillas and vegetable oil for frying) in a skillet over medium heat. You can use the liquid from the black bean cans, as it will cook out over time, or reserve it and use it later if the beans dry out too much as you cook them. As the beans cook, mash them with a fork and continue to stir with a rubber spatula.

Black Beans

Cook the beans for about 10 minutes, or until the liquid has cooked out, stirring frequently. Set aside.

Black Beans_2

To make the tostadas, fry corn tortillas until golden brown. I made my own corn tortillas so I could shape them into bear faces (don’t call me a loser, I’m just a really devoted fan). They’re easier than you might think—no tortilla press required. First, mix two cups corn flour (masa) with 1 1/8 cup water. Roll the dough out very thin on a floured surface with a rolling pin.

Corn Tortilla_2

Assuming you aren’t forming your tortillas into cute animal shapes, use a cookie cutter or the lip of a cup or bowl to cut circles in the dough and use a spatula to scrape them off the table:

Corn Tortilla_3

I, on the other hand, made bear faces using a shot glass to cut out ears (then cutting the circle in half) and affixing them to the sides of the bigger circle with a dab of water.

Corn Tortillas_6

Cook the tortillas in a lightly greased skillet over medium heat. They take about two to three minutes each.

Corn Tortilla_7

After they’ve cooked, deep fry them in vegetable oil until golden brown, about two minutes. Sprinkle the tostadas generously with salt and garlic immediately after they’ve been fried.


Top the tostadas with warm refried black beans and crumbled queso fresco.

Black Bean Tostada

These are great together:

Tostada and Tortilla

So even though the bears suffered an embarrassing and demoralizing loss last week, at least the food was good.

Sheesh, and I call myself a fan—sorry for focusing on the negative guys, congrats on your awesome win tonight—keep up the good work. A post on tonight’s football feast to come.

So I’m a little corny…

Corn-centric recipes have been all over the food blogs this week, and I’ve posted a few myself. I wanted to chill out on the corny posts, but I had to use up my leftovers, so here goes:

Mexican corn muffins


You’ll need:

1/2 cup cilantro-lime corn (you can also just use regular sweet corn)

1 cup masa

2/3 cup water

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cumin

1/4 cup shredded cheese, divided in half

2 tablespoons butter, softened

½ teaspoon ancho chile powder

1 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine ingredients, using half of the cheese (1/8 cup). The dough should be close to the consistency of cookie dough. Spoon dough into a muffin tin (I made cute little mini ones). Sprinkle muffins with the remaining cheese.


Bake for about 15-25 minutes—the bigger the muffins, the longer you’ll need to keep them in.



Paired with my shredded chicken they were the perfect hangover cure.


Cilantro-lime corn


When we go to Joe’s, we rarely stray from our usual side dish: Jennie’s Potatoes. But since it was six of us this time, we decided to “whack it up” as my dad would say, and order several sides, including a seasonal specialty—cilantro-lime corn.

It was beautiful and delicious—summer in a side dish. The cilantro and lime weren’t overpowering, as I had expected, but gave the sweet, charred corn a tangy zing.

I’ve done my best to recreate the dish.

Cilantro-Lime Corn

You’ll need:

5-6 ears of sweet corn

4 tablespoons butter (softened)

1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped

juice of one half of a lime

1/2 or a whole jalapeno, chopped

2-3 cloves garlic

salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

First, shuck and boil or grill the corn. Grilling is ideal, as you can get a nice char going, which not only looks great, but tastes awesome. I boiled mine for about 10 minutes.


In the mean time, combine all the other ingredients in a blender. Since there won’t be a whole lot of the mixture, the smaller the blending apparatus, the better. I use my trusty Magic Bullet.


Throw the mixture in the fridge until the corn’s all done.

I was insistent on charring my corn without the use of a grill, so I did it VERY CAREFULLY using the open flame of my gas stove top and a pair of tongs.


Keep in mind, I take absolutely no responsibility for any burn accidents/fires/unintentional-popped-corn consequences that may result if any of you decide to try this at home.

Now that we’ve avoided the use of our fire extinguishers, let’s try to keep our fingers intact while we use a knife to scrape the corn off our cobs. I recommend first cutting the cobs in half—it makes things easier and far less dangerous.

OK. So far we’ve avoided third-degree burns and severed fingers. Don’t worry, this next step shouldn’t be hazardous to your health.

Mix the corn with the butter/lime/cilantro/garlic/jalapeno mixture, preferably while the corn is still warm so the butter melts nicely. Serve warm.


The best potato salad EVER


At least I think so. But perhaps I’m slightly biased.

I whipped this up this afternoon for an impromptu BBQ at Greg and Doug’s. Before I start the recipe, here’s a disclaimer: I typically eyeball all the measurements. What follows is a rough estimation; we’re not baking a soufflé here, so we should be fine.

Red Potato Salad

You’ll need:

about 3 lbs of small red potatoes (TIP: buy them in bulk if possible and choose ones that are roughly the same size so they cook in the same amount of time)

1-2 celery stalks, finely chopped

1 half of a small yellow onion, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2-3 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped

6 or so hard boiled eggs

2 cups of mayo

1/8 cup dijon mustard

Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

First, boil the potatoes and the eggs (separately). I think I boiled the potatoes for about 30 minutes (see why I posted that disclaimer?), but it’s easy to test doneness by sticking a fork in one or cutting it in half. If it needs more time, no harm, no foul, just throw the severed potato back in the pot with the rest.

For the eggs, I have a much more precise process, thanks to Elise at Simply Recipes. Follow her steps for the perfect hard-boiled egg every time—seriously, it’s a no brainer.


After your potatoes are done, strain them and cut them up into bite-sized pieces—and don’t even think about removing that beautiful and nutritious red skin. Throw them in a bowl and let them cool down. I usually pop mine in the fridge.


In the meantime, chop up your veggies, dill and eggs.


My dill plant is seriously out of control

When the potatoes are cool, mix in your other ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

And now, I’ll leave one last thought:

Your friends are gracious BBQ hosts–don’t punish them with store-bought potato salad.


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