Tortellini & Vegetable Soup

To say that I love soup wouldn’t quite be enough. I heart it. I have a box with all of my soup keepsakes under my bed and at night I practice writing my name with soup’s last name.

Too much information?

Anyway, ATK’s Light & Tasty has a version of soup that elevates a delicious vegetable soup by combining it with a tortellini soup.

A regular tortellini soup is mostly just a garlic broth with cheese tortellini and wilted spinach leaves tossed into it. That’s a very tasty combination, but the texture always leaves me wanting. It’s light, it’s mushy, and I suppose it will do on a cold night when you want pasta and a hot soup and can’t decide which you prefer.

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Cinnamon Blueberry Muffins

Welcome back to The Monday Muffin! I’m pretty excited to share this one, since I’ve not been so excited about a muffin since we discovered Mizz Nezz’s Banana Muffins. This one throws its hat into the ring for the title of Greatest Muffin Ever and has a shot at taking it home.

There’s no sugar or streusel topping for this muffin and you won’t miss it. The cake has the perfect amount of sweetness and the blueberries bring a delectable burst of freshness. The cinnamon goes very well with the blueberries — not to mention your house will smell incredible while the muffins are baking.

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Light & Healthy Cheese & Spinach Lasagna

I suppose the best way of starting this out wouldn’t be by admitting that I’m not a huge fan of spinach and cheese lasagna. Most of the time, it comes across as a mushy mess in my mouth, and I’m put off by the texture. I typically crave lasagnas with a little more stability to their structure. And in the case of my new cooking project, exploring the entirety of ATK’s Light and Healthy book… Well, I found the same thing to be true. However, I really enjoyed the taste and, put on a plate next to a cool, crisp salad and some crunchy garlic bread, I liked it.

Spinach & Cheese Lasagna

What brought this dish to the home plate was the addition of shredded Fontina. Even though I couldn’t get a decent Fontina (I could only find a local brand – no Italian), the taste was still there. And to be honest, I’m not a big fan of pungent cheeses so maybe that’s why I liked it so much.

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Light & Healthy Spaghetti Carbonara

Yesterday, I announced that I was doing a cookbook challenge — ATK’s Light & Healthy 2010, cover to cover. And I meant every word.

Let’s dig into the cover recipe, Spaghetti Carbonara!

Carbonara is a rich and heavy dish. No question. The essential players that make up the dish are spaghetti and bacon smothered in a cream and grated Parmesan sauce, then beaten eggs are poured into it for a rich and creamy decadence that leaves you feeling happy but sluggish afterward. On their own and in mass quantities, the ingredients aren’t the best for you, let alone poured together. Typically, Carbonara recipes hover around 600 calories and 28 grams of fat per serving. And don’t even get me started on the cholesterol — around 150mg. Yikes.

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New Year, New Food Challenge

Did you miss us?

After a long hiatus, we’re back and badder than ever. Our knives are sharpened and kitchens ready to go. Really. I reorganized it this weekend.

Long time AwK readers will know of our undying love for America’s Test Kitchen and its Cook’s Illustrated brand. So, it should come as no surprise to you that we’re bringing the site back with an ATK cookbook challenge:

ATK’s Light & Healthy 2010: We’re cooking our way through, one recipe per week.

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Woody Desilva’s Championship Chili: Brett Favre Sucks

Let’s get one thing straight from the get-go:  Brett Favre retired.  Retired.  From unofficial reports he actually retired, told Packer management he wanted to play, then changed his mind AGAIN and stayed retired.  Then he decided to un-retire and the Packers had moved on, with Aaron Rodgers as their quarterback.  So Favre had to play somewhere else, eventually landing with the Vikings after a disappointing season with the Jets.

So it drives me only a little bit insane when the idiots on the ESPN pre-show talk about how Favre is motivated by revenge because “the Packers told him he wasn’t good enough to play for them.”  The man QUIT.  He was not kicked out because Aaron Rodgers was better, he was kicked out because by the time he made his goddamn mind up they were halfway through training camp!!

Also:  the Packers did not try to pay Brett Favre $200 million dollars to stay retired, as Chris Berman stated.  The $200 million was an endorsement deal with the Packers, negotiated long before he decided to retire, for him to continue on as an ambassador of the Packers after he quit playing.  He couldn’t do that if he didn’t actually stop playing.

Do I hold Ted Thompson blameless in all of this?  No.  Maybe he should have put up with a little more of his bullsh*t in order to keep Favre around for a few more years.  Was it worth the possibility of losing Rodgers?  Absolutely not.  Are the Vikings a better team with Favre?  Of course.  Are the Packers a worse team without him?  Jury is still out on that one.  Rodgers is not the reason for the Packers troubles.  Getting used to a new defensive scheme and an offensive line with more holes than Spongebob Squarepants both rank alot higher on that list.

I am a Packers fan first, and a Favre fan second, so that’s where my loyalties lie.  Brett Favre was the reason behind, for me, one of the greatest moments in sports history.   But the thing that bothers me about Favre playing for the Vikings, is that at some level, I believe he is doing it to stick it to Ted Thompson.  And you can’t stick it to Ted Thompson without sticking it to the Packers.  And you can’t stick it to the Packers, without sticking it to the Packers fans.  And that my friends, is weak f*cking sauce.

So I decided to make chili for the game and here is the recipe!!

Woody DeSilva’s Championship Chili


Texas chili doesn’t get any better than this fiery-hot version.

Source: Saveur

Woody DeSilva’s Championship Chili
Photo: Andre Baranowski

4 lbs. beef chuck, trimmed and cut into 1⁄2″ cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 tbsp. canola oil
5 medium onions, chopped
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2  6-oz. cans tomato paste
4 tbsp. dried oregano
3 tbsp. chili powder
4 tsp. ground chile pequín
   or cayenne pepper
1 tbsp. sweet paprika
1 tbsp. Tabasco
1 tsp. ground cumin
4 tbsp. masa harina

1. Season beef with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a 6-qt. pot over high heat. Working in 4 batches, brown beef, about 3 minutes per batch. Using a slotted spoon, transfer beef to a plate.

2. Add onions and garlic; cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Return beef to pot; stir in tomato paste. Cook, stirring frequently and scraping bottom of pot with a wooden spoon, until tomato paste is caramelized, about 12 minutes. Add oregano, chili powder, chile pequín, paprika, Tabasco, and cumin; cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute.

3. Add 5 cups water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, stirring occasionally, until meat is tender, about 2 hours. Stir in masa harina; season with salt. Simmer, stirring, until thickened, about 5 minutes.


This article was first published in Saveur in Issue #121


I am really tempted to end the article there, because it would be pretty damn funny.  But I’ve got some pretty good pictures of the process, so I will continue.  First thing to do is get yourself a Brontosaurus steak:

chili 1

…and an onion or two…

chili 2

..and using your mad knife skillz, turn them into this:

chili 3

and this

chili 4

What really intrigued me about this recipe was the use of pequin peppers, which I did find at a spice shop.  They have a really nice smoky-sweet almost citrusy aroma.

chili 5

They are also scary-ass hot, which is why I wore gloves.  Actually it turns out they are not quite as hot as habaneros, but still nothing to take lightly.  I ground this up in my mortar and pestle, but ended up only using about 2t instead of the called-for 4t, because Mrs Citizen Chef isn’t a huge fan of hot stuff, except of course, for me.  Here is the spice combo money shot:

chili 6

Now the reason why you spent all that time turning your hunk-o-cow into little 1/2 inch cubes, is so you can brown it and have all that surface area to caramelize.  Like so:

chili 7

When all was said and done, this was a damn fine chili.  But I might go with 3t of the pequins next time.

chili 8

~Citizen Chef