Saturday, January 31, 2009

Vegetarians Beware! Super Bowl Weekend Fare!

First off, how awesome is it that the Burp! Buffalo Chicken Dip won Noble Pig's Sam's Club Super Bowl recipe contest?! Huh? Judging from the slurpy-deliciousness of the other entries, we're truly honored. (Confession time: I was rooting for that yummy Pull-apart Bacon Bread myself... but who can argue with bacon??!)

If you're curious, I'd suggest checking out all the great entries over at Cathy's blog. And, if your'e feeling really daring, I'd suggest making EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM this weekend.

Well, it's the Super Bowl. And I can't think of a better reason to embrace full-on gluttony. In fact, I've got a suggestion or two of my own.

Since this is the weekend for serious finger foods, why not try a few of my favorites?
  1. Chipotle Shrimp (Serious smoky goodness for the chile-heads)
  2. Butternut Squash Soup with Beer & Cheese (You'll need a spoon for this one, but who can argue with a soup that features BEER as a main ingredient?)
  3. Zucchini Oven Fries (Alright, these border on being healthy, but you'd never know it cuz they taste SO good)
  4. Blasted Broccoli (GREAT with a variety of dipping sauces. And, as Lo would remind me, you've gotta get your veggies in there somewhere)
But, I've saved my best suggestion for last.
This is something a friend of mine turned me on to earlier in the week. And it gave me a serious craving. This is the perfect dish for those of you who've been starving yourselves for a couple of days in preparation for the Big Game. IN fact, I'd advise fasting not only BEFORE eating this lovely dish... but also probably for 3-4 days following.

Ready for it?

Yeah, it's Big. And it's Bad. But, comeon people, it's... BACON!

Sure, you'll need a couple of pounds of bacon and an outdoor barbeque to get this one going. But, I'm going to suggest that the results outweigh any inconvenience (or frost bite) you might experience.

Oh -- and maybe call ahead for an ambulance. Cuz this is going to cause some serious artery blockage.

Enjoy the game!! And the food!! (Especially the food.)

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Smoky Sweet Potato Chowder

*whew* After all the excitement of the tomato giveaway, I almost wasn't sure what to post next. Fortunately, we've been cooking up a storm in the past week or two.

Sweet potatoes... simple food with a pretty impressive nutritional profile. These humble tubers contain almost twice the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A, 42 percent of the recommendation for vitamin C, four times the RDA for beta carotene, and (when eaten with the skin intact) sweet potatoes have more fiber than oatmeal.

Now, if you're anything like me, the profile alone isn't all that matters. Sure, I can choke down a whole bunch of veg just to get my daily intake. But, it's really my preference to sit down with something that seriously tastes good. So, that's normally how we approach cooking on the healthier side. It's all about getting maximum nutrition AND maximum flavor.

One of our favorite ways to prep sweet potatoes is to make fries out of them -- either by roasting them in the oven or (*gasp*) frying them up in the deep fryer. They make a seriously tasty substitute for starchy old French fries, especially when tossed with a bit of chili powder and accompanied by a bit of smoky barbeque sauce.

However, our second favorite way to prepare sweet potatoes is to make them into soup. I always figure that soup gives pretty good mileage when it comes to cold weather eating. It's hearty, filling, and leftovers work well to take to work in the days following. We're also big fans of the soup/sammich combo, especially when we can pair a great soup with a panini (like our chicken panini with sundried tomato pesto). For more great panini recipes, check out PaniniKathy's blog over at Panini Happy.

We always start with a nice pile of diced sweet potato (skin on, of course).
Combine those potato chunks with a bit of sauteed onion, garlic, some Mexican oregano, a couple of chipotle peppers, and a nice healthy dose of vegetable stock. Simmer for 20-40 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.
Add a bit of honey and a swirl of heavy cream. Then, give the soup a whorl with your immersion blender... add some black beans and a dash of salt & pepper... and enjoy. This soup is also phenomenal with a few roasted red peppers added to the mix for flavor.
Creamy, smoky, sweet... and good for you. Dare I say this soup is the perfect treat on a cold winter's night?

We especially love it served with a side of sour apple and saurkraut quesadillas.

Smoky Sweet Potato Chowder

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tomato Love: Giveaway Winners

Lo and I are pleased to announce the winners of the Tomato Love Red Gold Tomato Giveaway!

Congratulations to:
#44 tattwo 
#17 glutenfreeforgood
#7 Bellini Valli
Winners were selected by the Random Integer Generator... and notifications went out to the winners by email this evening! We're pleased to announce that, not only will the winners receive a prize pack filled with DELICIOUS Red Gold tomatoes, but we've also been informed that they will receive a t-shirt, recipe book, hat, cutting board, and other kewl Red Gold items. ENJOY!!

Thanks to all of you who participated! We hope to see you back at BURP! again real soon.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Tomato Love: Final Day to Enter Tomato Giveaway

Just a quick reminder!
The Great Burp! Tomato Giveaway ends today (Monday, January 26, 2009), so don't forget to put your entry in. We'll take entries until 12-midnight, central standard time... and announce the randomly selected winners in a day or so!

Good luck!

Click here to read all about the giveaway.

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Tomato Love: Get Those Tomatoes in Me Belly!

What would YOU do with a box of delicious Red Gold tomatoes?
That's the question our brains have been pondering this week. And we've been inspired by all of your responses.

So many of you mentioned making pasta with your canned tomatoes that we were starting to get a serious craving. It's the weekend, so we wanted to let down our hair a little bit... maybe make this a little bit more of a special occasion dish. But how?

We pulled out a couple of cans of petite diced tomatoes and got to work.
First, we sauteed up some shallots and garlic in a bit of butter and olive oil. We even threw in a pinch of hot pepper flakes for good measure.
When the shallots were starting to turn transluscent, they looked like they were ready for a party. So, we gave them a cup of vodka to swim around in.
When the vodka was reduced by about half, we added those two cans of tomato to the mix. We brought everything to a boil, and then turned the heat down and let things simmer for about 20-25 minutes.
Since we had a bit of time on our hands, we figured we'd put it to good use. So, we ran off to the other end of the kitchen and started up a little side project.

Just so you don't get the wrong idea about us, I'd better clarify. While we're big on flavor over here at Burp! we're pretty short on space. So, when I say the "other side of the kitchen," I mean we took a few sidesteps across the room.

Waiting for us on the other side of the kitchen was a nice ball of ... wait for it... homemade pasta dough. OH yes, boyz and girlz, we do luv us some homemade pasta on the weekend. So, we decided to do it up right. We sliced that pasta dough into some pieces, and started running her through the trusty KitchenAid pasta roller.
After which, we sliced her up into thin strips. Lovely, thin strips that looked suspiciously like fettuccini.
Oh, yeah. Those were some fine noodles. As they came out of the pasta machine, they struck some mighty sexy poses for the camera.
See what I mean?
Of course, we couldn't devote all of our attention to the pasta. We had tomatoes to attend to. While we weren't looking, our petite diced friends had simmered themselves into a nice reduced sauce.
So, we celebrated by slipping our fresh pasta into a nice warm bath.
While the fettuccini soaked, we gave the unsuspecting vodka sauce something to get excited about. A daub of heavy cream, some fresh basil... and a handful of crumbled Wisconsin gorgonzola cheese. *slurp*
The three minute wait for the pasta was almost excrutiating. But, finally, we were ready to slip those noodles into a bowl and cloak them with some of that fantastic, creamy sauce.
This was some seriously good stuff. So, we decided to share.

If you're the measuring sort, here are the specifics:
Vodka Sauce with Gorgonzola Cream

While you're at it, don't forget to sign up to win your own pack of Red Gold Tomatoes HERE. The giveaway ends on Monday, January 26th!

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tomato Love: Jambalaya with Barley

Seems the craving for jambalaya has been going around. Sass & Veracity just posted a mighty fine jambalaya with andouille, shrimp, and chicken... Andrea posted another. And those aren't the only ones. Do a blog search and you're sure to come up with plenty of great recipes for this Louisiana staple.

Maybe it's the time of the year.
Maybe the cold weather brings out the desire for something pungent, spicy, and filling.
Or maybe, as in our case, we've just got some nice canned tomatoes to put to good use.

Jay over at Red Gold Tomatoes was nice enough to send us a sampler pack of tomatoes to try out in preparation for the Great Burp! Tomato Giveaway (don't forget to enter to win before January 26th). This sampler pack is just a taste of what three lucky winners will have delivered to their doorstep, but it gave us some pretty lovely goods to work with.
Our sampler contained a can of diced tomatoes; two cans of petite diced tomatoes; a can of petite diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano; a can of petite diced tomatoes with green chiles; and a can of diced tomatoes with roasted garlic & onion. Seriously. We couldn't wait to put these beauties to good use.

Fortunately, the freezer and pantry both came to our rescue. We had some fantastic roasted turkey in the freezer.
And we also had a package of chicken andouille sausages...
... and a pound of lovely pink shrimp... all the fixin's for a nice, hot pot of jambalaya...
So, I grabbed a few of our favorite vegetables out of the fridge,
and sauteed them up with a few carefully selected spices, some canned tomatoes, and a few cups of chicken stock...

And before I knew it, I had a tantalizing batch of jambalaya steaming over the stove.

A few things, for starters:
  1. Jambalayas come in all sorts of shapes and sizes -- brown creole jambalaya, red jambalaya, saucy jambalaya, and dry jambalaya. This one just so happens to be a red cajun-style jambalaya with plenty of rich, red sauce.
  2. This jambalaya can be made just as mild... or as spicy as you like. We're a couple of chile heads, but you don't need to feel compelled to follow our lead. In fact, we encourage creativity when it comes to cooking, so feel free to do as you please.
  3. Jambalaya normally makes use of some nice converted rice. We happen to prefer something a bit more out of the ordinary... some nice, whole grain barley.
You'd be amazed by the character that barley brings to this classic cajun dish. For one, it's got a great nutty flavor.

For another, barley offers an incredible nutritional profile. It knocks other grains off the charts with its fiber content. Just one cup of barley offers you over 50% of your daily fiber intake. It also covers at least half of your recommended daily intake of selenium (a nice immune system booster during the cold & flu season), and is a decent source of phosphorus, copper and manganese. If you're really interested, you can geek out on the profile here.

We love the chewiness of a bit of whole grain in our jambalaya... and we just adore how the barley soaks up all the incredible flavors of the tomatoes and spices. But, don't say we didn't warn you. It also contains a healthy dose of tryptophan. So, prepare for a nap after this warm, snuggle-inducing dish.

Gotta have some? ... We thought so!

Burp! Jambalaya with Barley

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Tomato Love: The Great Burp! Tomato Giveaway

Mmm. Tomatoes.
Nothing beats a fresh, local, vine-ripened tomato. Unfortunately, we're still about 7-8 months away from such a thing here in Wisconsin. So, right now, canned tomatoes are the next best thing.

With a nice 28-oz can of tomatoes and a few basic herbs & spices, I can make a fabulous (and quick) pasta dish. I can puree a can of whole tomatoes with some broth and create a delicious impromptu soup. Or, with a bit more effort, I could make one of my favorite chili recipes!

Veg-head Chili
Or how about some Barack Obama Chili using a can of diced tomatoes, instead of fresh? (Thanks to Cathy over at Noble Pig for pulling this recipe out just in time for the Inauguration!)

That's why I was excited when Red Gold Tomatoes contacted us and asked if we'd like some products to host a giveaway. Hailing from the Midwest, where hot summers make for sweet tomatoes, Red Gold makes a pretty incredible product. Since we're chile-heads, one of our favorite varieties is the Petite Diced Tomatoes with Green Chiles, which make a great pot of chili.

Plus, I figured if we're this excited about tomatoes, we're pretty sure that you are too!
Three lucky readers will receive a prize pack that contains a variety of Red Gold Tomato products.

How to enter the giveaway:

What is YOUR favorite recipe using canned tomatoes?
Leave a comment with your recipe idea and/or a link to the recipe.

Three lucky winners will be chosen at random (one entry per person please). Be sure to leave an email address if we don't already know you or you don't have a blog. We'll need a way to contact you if you win.

Contest ends on Monday, January 26th.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Lo's In Denial: French Onion Pot Roast

I don't do pot roast.
Or, at least I thought I didn't.

The urge to slow braise meets was not, I must confess, a natural inclination for me. In my brain, the thought of putting hunks of meat in a puddle of hot broth and cooking them for a very long time was paramount to BOILING the meat... and that was something, in my world, reserved for unique cases like corned beef (and, even then, I have the tendency to brown the pasty-looking meat when it comes out of its bath, just to make it look like it was roasted).

At the rate I was going, I probably wouldn't have made a pot roast for... oh, at least ten more years, if it weren't for the fact that somebody (Peef would be the logical guess here) was having a craving. So, I decided to give it a whirl.

I recalled, from childhood, that people often made pot roast with packets of Lipton French Onion Soup mix. That idea kinda turned my stomach, but the concept of a lovely tender roast with some caramelized onion action going on was pretty appealing. So, I went with it.

First, I threw what felt like a bazillion onions into a large saute pan with a bit of real butter. You can't beat butter for caramelizing onions, especially since it toasts up nicely itself and lends not only great color but a delicious toasty flavor to the mix.

Of course, my massive mountain of onions cooked down in no time, and I was left with a sad little hill of onions. Fortunately, they were beautiful and brown, and I had confidence that we were on the right track with this inaugural pot roast.
I browned up a fine looking naturally raised beef rump roast and then added it to a large, heavy pot with the caramelized onions and a few cups of beef stock, some soy sauce, and a bunch of minced garlic. Now is probably not the time to talk about the quality of beef, but we don't eat a ton of it, so I'm pretty picky about the sort of meat I buy. Since "naturally raised" means different things to different people, I'll clarify by saying that this beef was:
  • Raised without the use of antibiotics/hormones
  • Raised humanely in a "minimal stress" environment
  • Given free access to the outdoors
  • Fed 100% vegetarian feed
  • Never irradiated
I'd like to say that it was organic, but right now we don't have an affordable supplier for such things.
Anyhow, back to cooking.
The beef (and its bath) was placed, covered, in a slow oven for a very long time (about 2 1/2 hours for this roast). The hardest part was NOT peeking into the pan when delicious smells started wafting through the kitchen. But, we managed to control our urges and wait for the appropriate moment.
After a short resting period, we plated up the roast with a few of those (nearly dissolved, but still delicious) onions. And I've got to say, the finished product was pretty nice.
The poor roast was so tender, it fell apart into hearty, muscley slabs when we went to cut into it... although we did get a few nicer slices for photos.

We served it with a pile of the (prerequisite) mashed potatoes and some sort of vegetable (though I don't remember what)... because we are not the sort of household for whom "meat and potatoes" means exactly (and only) "meat and potatoes".

The leftovers made fantastic sammiches... with the au jus serving as a really tasty dipping sauce. And the leftover onion broth is currently living in the freezer, since I think it would make a seriously nice base for some impromptu French Onion Soup.

Pretty good mileage for a big old chunk of boiled meat.
I think I might be a newly converted sucker for the infamous pot roast after all.

Lo's "I'm in denial" French Onion Pot Roast

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Burp! is on Facebook

Just a quick note to let you know that BURP! now has its very own little spot on Facebook.
If you’re on Facebook too, come on over and become a fan!

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Don't be a Jerk, Tofu.

When Peef's brother and his family moved to Antigua, we didn't really think it would give us any particular culinary advantages. In fact, we were more worried about things like "When will we see you again?" and "What's the weather like?" and "When can we visit?" than "What sorts of foodstuffs will you bring back for us when you come home on furlough?"

Silly, silly Peef and Lo.

This past July, John and Alex came home. And they brought us a scad of fantastic local delicacies. Antiguan rum, guava jelly, johnny cake mix, Caribbean hot sauce, mango-pineapple wine, tamarind wine ... and a jar of jerk sauce.

Now, we love a good jerk. And we have (what we consider) a pretty durned good recipe for it. So, we were eager to see how the jarred sauce measured up.

But, that doesn't mean that we broke into our stash immediately. In fact, when it comes to new and exciting things I'm a bit of a hoarder. I was the kid who rationed her new school clothes so that they lasted AT LEAST until the middle of November. And I'm still the gal who loves to stash exciting new chocolate bars into the cupboard to eat... on that special occasion.

So, we didn't get around to trying out the jerk until... just a couple of weeks ago.
I decided we'd go for a nice healthy meal -- a bit of jerked tofu with some roasted cauliflower and onions -- for starters.

Upon opening the jark of jerk, Peef took a whiff. "Wha-hoo!" he snorted, as his eyes began to water "I think it's gonna be hot."

Of course, that warning only served as an invitation for me to force my whole nose down into the container to get a nice sniff. I got a little on the tip of my nose, which I promptly wiped off. But, the burn... oh, the burn. This was going to be some good stuff.

We mixed together that excrutiating sauce with a bit of olive oil...
...and slathered the 12 ounces of cubed tofu. We left no cube un-jerked. In fact, the screams (and slew of profanities) emanating from the processed soy product were almost intolerable. It actually made us feel badly for a moment or two. But, ultimately, we smiled sadistically and threw the tofu (not violently, of course) into the fridge for a nice 24 hour marinade.
The next day, the tortured tofu, which was now feeling slightly suicidal, eagerly submitted to the firey depths of our roasty oven (425º convection roast) for about 25 minutes or so, alongside the (infinitely LESS eager) cauliflower and onions. And the crispified delights that greeted our eyes were absolutely stunning.
... and friggin' hot to boot.
We took our first bites. Yes, indeed. This jerk was the real thing. A bit saltier than our recipe... and quite a bit hotter. We bathed our mouths in a swig of nice cold beer... and then went in for second bites. And thirds.

Oh, yeah.

We have about a quarter cup of the sauce left to try on another 12 ounces of unsuspecting tofu. And after that, it's back to the test kitchen with our personal recipe. I'm thinking we'll up the scotch bonnets from 2 peppers to 3, for starters. Cuz mo' hotter is mo' better as far as we're concerned.

Burp! Jerk

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Winter Comfort: Black Bean Chili with Mushrooms

It was four winters ago now that I discovered this fantastic chili recipe. I remember it well. I was sorting through cooking magazines on a Saturday afternoon when I came upon a copy of the new Eating Well. A long-time fan of the magazine, I was bummed out when they ceased publication in 1999 -- and equally thrilled when they revived the magazine in 2002. Although the new publication turned out to be a far cry from the original, I still enjoyed the intelligent articles and occasionally found a recipe that gave me inspiration.

Glancing through the recipes, I saw black bean mushroom chili... and I was intrigued enough to give the ingredient list a peek. Cardamom & mustard seeds... interesting. Tomatillos... nice. At the time, the recipe was a bit of a stretch for us; but, we were adventurous sorts. And it seemed to give us another option for using up all that quick roasted tomatillo sauce in the freezer.

I'm actually NOT a big fan of the crockpot, but I'm a huge fan of frying spices. So, when I saw that the instructions called for a nice singe on the mustard seeds, I was hopelessly hooked.
The first indication that the recipe would be a winner was the smell of the house when we walked in after a long day's work and found the chili bubbling away. Rich, savory... meaty even.
Spooning the soup into bowls, we noted that the color was fabulous. The beans were creamy and flavorful. And that cardamom? Well, it disappeared seamlessly into the dish, imparting intrigue to a soup that might otherwise have fallen a bit flat.
It's gotten to be such a staple around our house that I almost don't need a recipe. In fact, we've departed so far from the original in this case that I actually sat down the other night and typed out the entire process.
Try it for yourself!
Black Bean Chili with Mushrooms

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Monday, January 5, 2009

Glorious Cauliflower & Penne Gratin

When the wind howls and the snow flies, I always find myself thinking back to the warmer days of autumn, when the farmer's market was still offering up its bounty, and the process of cooking was more about what was fresh and "in season" than what was left in the freezer.

This is one of those days. Well, kind of. The snow isn't exactly flying. But, things are pretty well iced over, and the wind is blowing briskly enough to make 20º feel somewhere below zero.

Fortunately, I was rummaging through some old photos, and I happened upon a few great finds from early November.

On this particular Saturday, we were lucky enough to find some gorgeous petite heads of cheddar (orange) and purple cauliflower. I picked them up for color alone, but deep down, I also knew that these babies pack a nutritional punch. The cheddar cauliflower, which originally hails from Canada, contains at least 25% more Vitamin A than your typical, garden-variety, white cauliflower. Meanwhile, the purple variety gets its color from the same antioxidant that gives red wine its color and added health bennies. Pretty impressive.Anyhow, I'd run across a recipe for a baked penne dish with Comte cheese and creme fraiche in a recent Bon Appetit magazine, and I thought I'd give the concept a go. Since we're such fans of cauliflower in its roasted form, I figured we'd go that route, rather than steaming it.
Since fresh tomatoes were long gone, I also opted for mixing in a small can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes, which I figured would add an additional layer of flavor. Some green onions also served to add a bit of bite.
Combine the veg with a creamy cheese sauce made with Harvest Moon Cheddar from Castle Rock Farms (a great little organic dairy in Osseo, WI), a bit of Wisconsin parmesan, and a healthy dollop of creme fraiche, and the dish began to take shape.
After baking for about 35 minutes, the top was crusty and golden, and the cheese was getting bubbly... just the way we like it.
A quick spoon into the casserole assured me that this was a winner. Not only was it colorful, but it was tasty too. The creaminess of the tangy creme fraiche paired nicely with the cheddar, and together it really complemented the nuttiness of the squash.
Combined with a nice green salad, this made a hearty main course perfectly fit for a brisk autumn day. Heck, even with the plain old white cauliflower in the middle of January, this would make a nice vegetarian main course.

Cheesy Baked Penne with Roasted Cauliflower and Creme Fraiche

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