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Simple Celery Soup

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I love celery!!  The taste, the crunch, the smell, yum!  I know nutritionally its lacking, but the flavor is undeniable.  It adds so much to most dishes that most people probably take it for granted.  We use it as an appetizer with cream cheese or peanut butter, as a garnish for color, or to stop the heat from a chicken wing, even adding that crispness to stuffing.  Just to name a few.  But a celery soup, is a great way to celebrate a sometimes through away vegetable.  It’s bursting with flavor and richness that any creamed soup could want.  Celery has an important roll in most soups so why not let it shine on its own?  I recently had some left over and decided to make my own soup, and I was glad I did.  I read up on some recipes and I didn’t have everything they were asking for, so I decided to go with my gut and make my own version.  Enjoy!

 

Celery Soup

Celery Soup

 

Simple Celery Soup
Author: 
Recipe type: Soup
 
Ingredients
  • 3 Cups chopped celery
  • ½ Red onion chopped
  • ½ Garlic clove chopped
  • 4 Cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Salt
  • Pepper
Instructions
  1. Melt butter
  2. Add onions and saute for about 5 min
  3. Put in a sprinkle of salt and pepper
  4. Add celery, saute for another 5 minutes
  5. Add garlic, saute for 1 minute
  6. Add pinch of red pepper flakes
  7. Add another pinch of salt and pepper
  8. Pour in stock
  9. Bring to boil, then lower flame and simmer for 10 minutes
  10. Let cool then blend
  11. Reheat and serve

Huevos Rancheros

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Breakfast of Champions, or giant gut bomb.   It’s hard to decide which is true.   Either way huevos rancheros is one of my guilty pleasures.   It’s been a staple in my life for as long as I can remember.   I love ordering it or making it.  Ordering it at a restaurant is by far the easier way, but as you all know I don’t mind spending the time in a kitchen.   My challenge is making the perfect ranchero sauce.  It has plague me for decades.  I have tried many times to get it right.  Not always with the best results, but that has not stopped me from trying!   And today, I think I have made the best one yet.  So good, I have to share it with you.

I fried the tortillas in vegetable oil, and instead of refried beans between the eggs and tortilla, I combined whole black beans and rice.  If you don’t have whole beans and rice cooked, then use canned refried beans.  The sauce was canned tomatoes and a mix of spices.  Pretty simple.  After years of making it harder then it needs to be, I just went with my gut.  Sorry for the lack of direction, on the sauce, but don’t let that scare you.  Sometimes throwing caution to the wind can give great results.

 

Huevos Rancheros

Huevos Rancheros

 

Huevos Rancharos and Sauce
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
 
This is a quick and easy sauce. When I made it, as usual I didn't measure. This is a recipe that depends on how you want it to taste. I put about a quarter to half a teaspoon of each spice into the tomatoes. But you may want to alter some of them. I did add less of the chipotle chile then the others as it is very strong.
Ingredients
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Tortillas
  • Refried beans (or combo rice and whole beans)
  • 1 Can of chopped tomatoes
  • Chili powder
  • Cumin
  • Crushed chipotle chile peppers
  • Minced garlic
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Queso fresco
  • Cilantro for garnish
Instructions
  1. Crumble cheese, set aside
  2. Chop cilantro, set aside
  3. Simmer beans in small sauce pan
  4. Keep an eye on beans, so they don't burn
  5. For Ranchero Sauce
  6. Combine all spices, garlic, salt and pepper into a small sauce pan
  7. Simmer on medium heat for about 10 minutes or till the flavors marry.
  8. Fry eggs over easy
  9. Fry tortillas in oil till crispy
  10. Pat excess oil of with paper towel
  11. Place fried tortilla on plate
  12. Then a spoonful of beans on fried tortilla
  13. Place egg on top of beans
  14. Drizzle sauce over eggs
  15. Garnish with cilantro and cheese

 

Spice Rubbed Pork Shoulder

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I love pork shoulder.  Well, it’s fair to say I love pork.   Be it bacon, ribs, the shoulder, or chops, I’m ready to cook and or eat!  Pork shoulder is a pretty easy piece of meat to cook.  You either slow roast in the oven or in a crock pot.  Although it does take some time, it’s worth every minute.  I usually like to make pulled pork tacos with the shoulder.   In my mind, which may not be saying much, it’s probably one of the most common ways to have this cut of meat.  Most of the time I keep it pretty simple with garlic, salt, pepper and a squeeze of citrus, but this time I added a spice rub to give it that extra oomph.   I made this for an Oscar party I convinced some friend give, well the promise of pulled pork tacos really helped.   And, everyone loved it!   I hope you do too.

 

Scored with rub and garlic

Scored with rub and garlic

 

Pork Shoulder Ready To Cook

Pork Shoulder Ready To Cook

 

Finished Pork Shoulder

Finished Pork Shoulder

 

Pulled Pork Tacos

Pulled Pork Tacos

 

Spice Rubbed Pork Shoulder
Author: 
Recipe type: Main Course
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 Pork shoulder, 4-5 pounds
  • 3 or 4 cloves of garlic
  • ½ teaspoon of chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon of chipotle chile from jar
  • ¼ teaspoon of oregano florets, preferably Mexican
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • Drizzle of olive oil
Instructions
  1. Pre heat oven to 250 degrees
  2. Dry off the pork
  3. Cut excess skin and fat from under side of shoulder
  4. You only need the top part of the skin and fat.
  5. Score the skin
  6. In some of the slits poke holes to put garlic pieces into
  7. Rough chop garlic and place in holes
  8. How to make rub
  9. Add chile powder, salt, pepper and oregano florets to a bowl
  10. On low heat roast cumin seeds and chipotle chile
  11. Roast till cumin gets smokey and chipotle dries out
  12. The jarred chipotle is little sticky thats why you want to roast it.
  13. Also it give is even more smokiness.
  14. Grind cumin seeds and chipotle chiles in mortar and pestle
  15. Add ground cumin and chipotle into bowl with the rest of the rub
  16. Give it a stir and crush the oregano florets
  17. Rub the spices into the scored parts of the pork
  18. Drizzle roasting pan with olive oil
  19. Place pork in oven for 5 - 6 hours
  20. After about 2 hours place a sheet of foil over pork till its done.
  21. It should fall apart with touch and or fork.
Notes
I mentioned two ways to cook a pork shoulder. Here you have the oven version. The crock pot version is just as simple, just cut off all the skin. If left on it will be super chewy and not at all appetizing. Next use the same rub but just add it to the pot, you may want to increase the amount and add a bay leaf. Also still you can still poke holes into the meat and put garlic in them. Or rough chop the garlic and add it like the spices. Also you will need water to keep it from drying out. Adding a little orange citrus is nice, but not necessary.

* You should treat this like you would a regular roast*

 

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

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We are deep in winter, and for me, soups are the cornerstone of comfort food.  Everyone has their favorites, be it stew, curry, a roast or a grilled cheese sandwich.   But on a cold winter day, just the thought of a cup or bowl of hot soup is enough to warm the body, soul and mind.

This year if you noticed I amped up the soup recipes.  I make soups all winter, but always forget to post them, so this year I am making it a point to share my obsession and recipes.   I hope you have been enjoying and cooking them.  Today we are having,  Roasted Butternut Squash Soup.   It’s a very simple recipe.  Perfect for a weeknight after a busy day at work, or a lazy weekend day when you don’t want to do too much.    There’s only a couple ingredients and the hardest part is pealing the butternut squash.  But, dont let that stop you from making this amazing simple comforting soup.

 

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 clove of garlic chopped (optional)
  • Butter (optional)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Use a potato pealer and peal squash.
  3. Peal to the orange meat of the vegetable
  4. Cut squash in half and scoop out seeds like a pumpkin
  5. Cut into even chunks
  6. Toss with olive oil salt and pepper
  7. Roast for 30 minutes or till squash is soft
  8. You want a little caramelization
  9. In the last ten minutes of roasting slowly heat stock
  10. If you want add garlic and 1 tablespoon of butter
  11. Garlic can be ovewhelming so use caution, a little goes a long way.
  12. When squash is done add it to your stock.
  13. Make sure to get all of it off the roasting pan
  14. Cook for about ten minuteds on medium to high heat.
  15. Let cool and then blend to a creamy goodness.
  16. Reheat if necessary

 

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

 

Roasted Butternut Squash

Potato Leek Soup

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Potato leek soup is such a staple in restaurants and kitchens that it seems impossible to improve on it.  Most of the time it’s potatoes, leeks, stock, cream and buttermilk or just cream.  I dont use cream or buttermilk, but add a carrot, celery and garlic.  I not sure this is an improvement, but its just way I do it.  Like a lot of recipes, it comes from a mistake.  I was making a bunch of soups(winter does that to me) and they called for a carrot and celery.  So of course I addded them to my potato leek soup.   Oops!  Not normal.  But it was for a dinner party and everyone liked it, so I kept on making it that way, and still do!  Of course now I add garlic.  Always tweaking the recipe.  I can’t help it!

Potato Leek Soup

 

Potato Leek Soup
Author: 
Recipe type: Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 2 Large leeks, white to light green part
  • 4 Small or 2 large potatoes
  • 1 Carrot
  • 1 Celery rib
  • 2 Cloves of garlic
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • Olive oil
  • 4 Cups of chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Cut dark green and very bottom of white off
  2. Slice in half and give a good rinse
  3. Get in between the layers
  4. Chop across
  5. Peel and chop carrots, set aside
  6. Chop celery, set aside
  7. Chop garlic and separate
  8. Peel and chop potatoes into small pieces
  9. In large stock pot add butter and a couple tablespoons of olive oil
  10. Heat until butter is melted
  11. Add leeks and sauté till they start to wilt/translucent
  12. Add some salt and pepper
  13. Add one clove of garlic while leeks are cooking
  14. When leeks start to look translucent and smell, add carrots and celery
  15. Lower heat to medium and cook for about 5 minutes
  16. Add potatoes and rest of the garlic
  17. Cook for about 5 minutes
  18. Add stock
  19. Bring to boil and turn down to a simmer
  20. Cook till potatoes are soft, about 10 to 15 minutes
  21. Check to see if all veggies are soft
  22. If veggies are soft turn of heat and let cool enough to blend
  23. Blend till smooth, reheat and serve

Sweet Tart Deviled Eggs

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My dear friend Shawn made the most incredible deviled eggs.  Well, to be fair, his deep fried deviled eggs are the most incredible.  One day I will get that recipe!  This recipe is a close second, if I do say so myself.  He used our hot sauce, some butter and turn deviled eggs on their head, again.  Here is what he did:

Sweet Tart Deviled Eggs

 

He hard boiled eggs, mixed equal parts room temperature butter with the egg yolks, added sautéed garlic, salt and pepper to taste.  Grilled the egg whites in the pan that he sautéed the garlic in.   Then, put mixture back in egg whites and sprinkled the plate with our Sweet Tart hot sauce to dip the deviled eggs into.  Simple but, incredible.

Spinach And Onion Tart With Cherry Tomatoes

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Every once in a while we have some free time at work and I like to make something out of what’s around.   As most of you know, this is one of my favorite things to do.   We always have a few ingredients lying around, like dough, onions, eggs, among other random items.  So on this rare slow day, I decided to put some of these ingredients to use.  Well, we did plan this the day before, as we needed a few extra ingredients, but you get the picture.  It turned out so good, my colleague’s said I had to write about it.  As usual I didn’t really measure, but don’t let that stop you, it’s quite easy to make.  This is a recipe for two tarts. We make dough in huge quantities so if you only want one tart cut recipe in half, but use one whole onion.  Also, I don’t know how much commercial store bought dough makes, so use your best judgement.  Of course homemade dough is best!

 

 

Spinach And Onion Tart With Cherry Tomatoes
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 round of pastry dough devided into two
  • 2 packages of frozen spinach
  • 1½ large onions
  • 1 package of grape tomatoes
  • 1 8oz package of Gouda cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • Milk or egg for wash on crust, or combine and use both.
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Thaw spinach and squeeze out the liquid
  3. Roll dough into a rectangle like shape and place on parchment baking sheet, put in fridge
  4. In large skillet melt butter
  5. On medium heat sauté onion with salt and pepper
  6. Cover for about 20 minutes till you get some browning
  7. Chop garlic and separate the cloves
  8. Rinse and chop tomatoes in half, set to the side.
  9. Grate cheese
  10. Add spinach, garlic salt and pepper and sauté till ingredients are incorporated
  11. Grab dough and sprinkle a little bit of cheese on dough
  12. Then place spinach, onion in center of dough
  13. Spread it out leaving about an inch of dough for a crust
  14. Add tomatoe halves and sprinkle rest of cheese on top
  15. Fold edges of dough around the mixture.
  16. Doesn't have to be pretty, just make it so nothing will flow over.
  17. Egg or milk wash the crust.
  18. Back for 25-30 minutes.
  19. Check after 25 minutes
  20. You want a golden crust and bottom of tart to cook but don't burn it.
  21. Let cool before cutting and serving.

 

Ham, Potato and Bean Soup

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What to do with holiday leftovers is as much a tradition as the holidays themselves.   So with that in mind, I decided to go along and add a dish to the leftover tradition.   We had ham, as do a lot of people.  And like lot’s of people, we had lot’s of it left over.  After a few days of eating it I was starting to wonder what else besides sandwiches or frying it up with my morning eggs I could do with it.  I thought about for a little while and decided a soup would be good.  But what kind?  My friend said potato and ham.  I thought genius, but it needed something else.  I then thought bean with bacon!   So I thought use the ham,  instead of bacon.  And our ham, potato and bean soup was born.  This was supposed to be a cream soup, but I couldn’t decide whether to blend just the potato, or the beans, or both.  As I was cooking,  I realized that if I cut some of the potatoes small, and cooked them long enough, the potatoes would start to break down and create a creamy effect.  Thus, solving the problem of what to blend.  In the end, what I got was a brothy soup with bit of a creamy texture that is simply divine.  Enjoy!

 

Ham, Potato and Bean Soup

 

Ham, Potato and Bean Soup
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 med onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery ribs
  • 3 potatoes
  • 2 cups chopped ham, fat and grizzle removed
  • 1 can of white cannellini beans, drained
  • 4 cups broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Italian herbs
  • Pinch of thyme
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil
Instructions
  1. Chop ham to bite size pieces, fat and grizzle removed
  2. Peel and chop carrots and celery
  3. Peel and chop onion
  4. Peel and chop two of the potatoes
  5. The the third potato chop into smaller pieces
  6. Chop garlic clove.
  7. Sauté onion in olive oil till translucent
  8. Add salt and pepper
  9. Add celery and carrots and sauté for a few minutes
  10. Add potatoes and garlic, sauté for a few minutes
  11. Add ham, beans and stock
  12. Add Italian herbs and pinch of thyme
  13. Bring to boil then simmer on low till small potatoes start to disappear
  14. Salt and pepper to taste.
  15. If needed add more herbs

Chicken Soup With Rice and Thyme

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It’s deep in the fall and the weather is unusually warm.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t make a great soup.  And what better one then a classic?   This time I will keep it simple but very flavorful.   I had some leftover chicken broth from a previous meal and froze it.  I decided instead of taking that and making stock out of it I would use it as is to be my base for this soup.  It’s basically chicken water but it lended itself beautifully to this recipe.   But if you don’t have any lying around regular chicken sock will work.  I hope you enjoy it! I did!

 

Chicken soup with Rice and Thyme
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 4 cups chicken broth(water)
  • ½ cup of rice uncooked
  • 3 ribs of celery
  • 2-3 carrots
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Thyme
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. When I say 2 chicken breasts I mean two halves.
  2. Make them good sized ones.
  3. This should still be a hearty soup.
  4. Cut chicken into bite sized chunks
  5. Chop onion
  6. Chop celery
  7. Peel and chop carrots
  8. Chop garlic and separate
  9. In a large stock pot, sauté onion and half of garlic in olive oil
  10. Add celery and carrots
  11. A little thyme
  12. A pinch Salt and pepper
  13. Add chicken and cook till done
  14. While cooking the chicken, cook rice till it's almost done.
  15. When chicken is done, add stock/chicken water
  16. Add bay leaf, garlic and a generous amount of Thyme.
  17. Don't over do the thyme!
  18. It should be prominent but not over powering.
  19. Taste and smell as you add
  20. Salt and pepper to taste.
  21. When rice is almost done add it to the soup.
  22. Cook soup for another 10-15 minutes on medium till rice is fully cooked and soup is fully heated
  23. Chicken should be tender and veggies should still have a little crunch.
  24. If you like softer veggies cook a little longer

Getting Ready For Fall

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Crock and beans

 

With the weather getting chilly and Summer memories fading fast, it’s time to get ready for Fall.  This means pulling out the sweaters and light jackets.  Getting  blankets and comforters out from the top shelf of the linen closet.  Watching leave turn colors.  Dusting off that slow cooker.  Washing the stock pots and digging up those wonderful fall recipes, or discovering new ones.

Here at House of Zeta it may take us a little time to get used to fall, as we tend to be spring and summer people.  But once we do, we go all out.  Slow cooking pork shoulders or roasts.  Baking lasagna’s and sweet pies.  Making lots of soups and stocks.  Roasting root vegetables as they become available.  We start to discover our kitchens again and just like old friends it feels like time never passes.

With the days getting shorter and the nights longer, the farmers markets will have less and less to choose from.  The farmers will start to head back upstate and buckle down.  The weather will start to turn even colder as the days go by.  And we will find ourselves indoors more often, which can only mean one thing.  It’s time to enjoy what warm days are left, to grab that mulled wine and simmer it while you slow cook the night away.

 

Basic Black Beans
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 Lb bag of black beans
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of pepper
  • 4-6 cups water
Instructions
  1. Sort beans to get out rocks or other debris
  2. Soaking them over night or not is up to you
  3. If you soak them, discard liquid the next day and cook with new water
  4. If you don't, then give them a good rinse before cooking
  5. Place beans in slow cooker
  6. Chop onion
  7. Chop garlic
  8. Combine beans, onions, garlic, bay leaves, salt and pepper in slow cooker
  9. Add 4 cups of water
  10. If it covers the beans by ½ inch, don't add more
  11. If not, add till you get ½ inch of water above the beans
  12. Cover and cook for about 4-6 hours on low setting, or until done.
  13. If beans don't seem to be cooking quick enough turn cooker on high for a couple hours
  14. Keep an eye on water level.
  15. It's better to add if needed, then to have to much.
  16. Also if you want, half way through you can add a ham hock or bacon for smokey flavor

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