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    Cheddar Witches Fingers - Cheese straws in the shape of fingers, complete with a black almond "finger nail." Delicious and totally spooky.

    Candy Apples - You don't need to go to the fair to get my favorite treat because you can make these at home. Black food coloring gives them a festive touch.

    Pumpkin Caramel Sauce - Having a not-so-scary Halloween party? Serve ice cream with this pumpkin infused caramel sauce on top.

Monthly Archives: February 2013

Lasagna Soup

Lasagna Soup

I hate this time of year. The weather goes back and forth between winter and spring. It’s such a tease to get a taste of warmer weather only to have slushy snow the next day. I’m ready for longer days, farmers markets and sunshine. I look forward to winter every year, something about snow and scarves and cold nights by the fire is romantic, but I’m kind of over it four months later. Sadly, the last days of winter seem to be keeping spring at bay just a little longer. The one thing that’s made this season easier for me is soup. It’s my ultimate cold (rainy, slushy, snowy) weather comfort food, so I’m taking this opportunity to share a new favorite with you before it warms up for good (or, you know, until fall gets here again).

Lasagna is not something I ever thought about in soup form, but now that I’ve tried it I can’t help but wonder why. This soup has all the components of lasagna – pasta, Italian sausage, fire roasted tomatoes and lots of cheese – without any of the work. The soup would be delicious on its own and sort of reminded me of this soup, but the cheese mixture makes this soup truly crave-worthy. It’s hearty, comforting and easy to make, and I imagine we’ll be having it again before the cold weather disappears.

Lasagna Soup

Lasagna Soup

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

Lasagna Soup

This hearty soup has all the components of lasagna - pasta, Italian sausage and plenty of cheese - without any of the work.

Ingredients

For the soup:
2 teaspoons olive oil
1½ pounds Italian sausage, casings removed
2 medium onions, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (28-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 quart chicken broth
2 cups beef broth
8 ounces fusili, mafalda gemelli or other curly pasta
⅓ cup finely chopped basil
For topping:
8 ounces ricotta (Part-skim is fine.)
½ cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (Part-skim is fine.)
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Heat the oil in large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat. Add the sausage, using a wooden spoon to break it up, and cook until browned. Add the onions and continue cooking until softened, 6-7 minutes. Add in the garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes and tomato paste and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes, bay leaves, chicken broth and beef broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes. Add the pasta and cook until just al dente. While the pasta is cooking, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, mozzarella and pepper in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Taste the soup and add salt and pepper as needed, then remove from heat and stir in the basil. To serve the soup, ladle the soup into serving bowls and top with a (heaping) spoonful of the cheese mixture. Alternately, you can add the cheese mixture to the bowl first and ladle the soup on top.

Source

http://www.cooklikeachampionblog.com/2013/02/lasagna-soup/

Steel Cut Oats with Nutella and Strawberries

Steel Cut Oats with Nutella and Strawberries
Valentine’s Day is over, which means you can go on with the rest of your year without showing your affection for someone. Kidding. In all seriousness, I think Valentine’s Day serves as a good reminder to tell the people we love that we love them, not just on that day but every chance we get. People show love in different ways, and it will come as no surprise to you that I show love through food. Whether someone is grieving or celebrating, I can always find an appropriate food to give, which is a good thing since I can’t always find the right words to say. I’m not eloquent, but I try to make up for it with delicious food.

If you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day this weekend, this oatmeal would be a perfect way to surprise someone with breakfast in bed. Not into that sort of thing? Then you should totally make it for yourself, because you deserve to be pampered too. I know oatmeal can seem kind of bland, but this is not just any oatmeal. This is Nutella oatmeal, people! It could basically double as a dessert, but you can get away with eating it for breakfast. Revolutionary? Probably not. Pretty freaking exciting? Most definitely. My love for oatmeal grew when I made baked oatmeal, and now I have another reason to love it. This recipe is highly adaptable – make it with your favorite nut butter and bananas, cooked apples and cinnamon, maple syrup and blueberries – and can be made ahead of time and reheated as needed. Gone are the days of boring oatmeal. Welcome to better breakfasting.

Steel Cut Oats with Nutella and Strawberries

Steel Cut Oats with Nutella and Strawberries

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Yield: 4-6 servings

Steel Cut Oats with Nutella and Strawberries

If desired, you can refrigerate the cooked oats and reheat individual servings in the microwave, adding milk as needed to achieve the creamy texture. I love to make this on Sunday and have breakfast for the entire week.

Ingredients

For the oats:
3 cups water
1 cup low-fat milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup steel-cut oats
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
For serving:
4-6 tablespoons chocolate hazelnut spread
Fresh sliced strawberries

Directions

Combine the water and milk in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a 10- or 12-inch skillet set over medium heat. Add the oats and toast, stirring occasionally, for about 2 minutes or until golden and fragrant.

Stir the oats into the simmering liquid and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer gently until the oat mixture has thickened significantly, about 20 minutes. Stir in the salt and brown sugar and continue cooking for about 10 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the oatmeal is creamy. Remove from heat and allow to sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

Portion the oatmeal into serving bowls and top with 1 tablespoon of chocolate hazelnut spread and swirl gently into the oats using a spoon or knife. Top with a handful of strawberries and serve immediately.

Source

http://www.cooklikeachampionblog.com/2013/02/steel-cut-oats-with-nutella-and-strawberries/

Nutella Espresso Mousse Brownies

Nutella Espresso Mousse Brownies
Happy Valentine’s Day, friends! If today’s holiday is something you normally celebrate, I’m guessing you already know exactly what you’re doing. However, if today is just another day to you, I encourage you to make it special with this dessert. Eric and I aren’t the types to go overboard for Valentine’s, but we’ll take any excuse to make a fancier meal than usual (we’re making these filets for dinner tonight). The same goes for desserts. Fancier doesn’t have to mean more difficult, though, and these brownies are a prime example of that. This recipe fits perfectly into what I like to call The Champion Factor – impressive outcome, minimal effort. Don’t get me wrong – I love spending time in the kitchen with a complicated recipe. It’s just that, sometimes, it’s nice to have something so simple that still turns out so stunning. Know what I mean? That being said – I’m not a fan of boxed mixes, especially when I know I can make from-scratch desserts that are as easy and crave-worthy as this one.

Clara
Someone was trying to sneak a bite!

These brownies are like a simple version of my favorite dessert ever, triple chocolate mousse cake. A rich brownie layer is topped with a light and fluffy Nutella espresso mousse, making for one seriously decadent dessert. To take it completely over the top, I covered the whole thing in homemade chocolate curls. Because it’s Valentine’s Day, and I’ll take any excuse to add more chocolate to an already chocolaty dessert. Case in point – this recipe originally called for an espresso mousse, but I couldn’t resist incorporating this Nutella mousse I made last Valentine’s Day. This indulgent dessert is sure to please whoever you’re making it for, but I won’t judge you if you decide to keep it all to yourself.

Nutella Espresso Mousse Brownies

Nutella Espresso Mousse Brownies

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 1 8-inch square pan

Nutella Espresso Mousse Brownies

Ingredients

For the brownie layer:
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup flour
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
For the mousse layer:
2 teaspoons instant espresso
1 tablespoon hot water
¼ cup Nutella
Splash of Kahlua (optional)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
Chocolate curls or sprinkles and/or freshly whipped cream, for topping

Directions

Heat oven to 350º. Butter the bottom of 8-inch square baking dish and line with parchment or foil, leaving several inches overhang on two sides. Butter the bottom and sides of the parchment or foil and set pan aside.

Melt the butter in a large bowl. Whisk in the espresso powder until it dissolves completely, then whisk in the sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Whisk in the dry ingredients until just incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Allow to cool completely before topping with the mousse.

To make the mousse, combine the espresso and hot water in a small bowl. Whisk in Nutella and Kahlua if using. Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat heavy cream until it just forms stiff peaks. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the Nutella mixture. Scrape the mousse onto the top of the cooled brownies and spread evenly with an offset spatula. Refrigerate for at least an hour or up to overnight.

Using the parchment/foil handles, lift the brownies from the pan. Cut into squares and top as desired. Serve immediately.

Source

Heavily adapted from Bakingdom

http://www.cooklikeachampionblog.com/2013/02/nutella-espresso-mousse-brownies/


Red Beans and Rice Soup

Red Beans and Rice Soup
As most of you know, today is Fat Tuesday. Where I grew up, we actually got out of school for the day. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a Mardi Gras parade – I got a black eye from a bag of beads at the last one I went to (it’s actually a funny story) – but I always love seeing my friends’ parade and ball pictures this time of year. I was planning to make a king cake last weekend, but that got put on hold thanks to the nasty viral crud I was suffering from. Still, I couldn’t let the season pass without one celebratory recipe.

This soup has all of the components and flavors of my favorite red beans and rice recipe but without all the work. I love red beans and rice, but making it can be quite the process. Plus, since I’ve had such a nasty cold, soup has been pretty much the only thing I’ve wanted to eat. This one was exactly what I needed – spicy, comforting, and fast. Even the rice cooks right in the soup. You can’t beat that! Unless you have someone awesome to make it for you. That definitely makes it better (especially if said someone made you hot tea before cooking dinner). Sick or not, this one is sure to be appearing on our menu again soon.

Red Beans and Rice Soup

Cook Time: 1 hour

Yield: 4 servings

Red Beans and Rice Soup

All the components of red beans and rice in a spicy and hearty one-pot soup.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon canola oil
12 ounces chicken andouille, sliced
1 large onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes (undrained)
3-4 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 (14.5 ounces) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup brown rice
3 green onions, thinly sliced

Directions

Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Place the sausage in the pot and cook until nicely browned, stirring frequently. Using a slotted spoon, remove from the pot to a plate and set aside. If there is an excess amount of fat, drain it from the pot.

Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery and half of the Cajun seasoning. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are soft, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and continue cooking until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the tomatoes, broth, bay leaf, remaining Cajun seasoning, and kidney beans to the pot. Return the sausage to the pot and bring to a boil. Place the rice in a small mesh strainer and run cold water over it until it runs clear, about 30 seconds. Stir in the rice, and simmer over medium-low until the rice is cooked, about 35-40 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Ladle into bowls and top with sliced green onions (which I clearly forgot to do).

Source

http://www.cooklikeachampionblog.com/2013/02/red-beans-and-rice-soup/

Baked Ranchero Eggs with Blistered Pepper Jack Cheese

Baked Ranchero Eggs with Blistered Pepper Jack Cheese

Last weekend, I spent a glorious less than 48 hours in Indianapolis visiting my friend Annie. She had absolutely no idea I was coming to celebrate her birthday, and we made the most of our short time together by staying up late baking her birthday cake, cooking breakfast, staying in our pajamas until late afternoon and attending her insanely awesome birthday party. It was a whirlwind trip, but I seriously had the best time. I got to meet so many people that I felt like I already knew – Annie’s brothers, the hilarious Bobbi + Mike (and their sweet, cuddly dog Murphy), Ryan and Alex and Sonja. I also got to see Shanon, who I met the first time I visited Annie. See what I mean? Amazing.

Baked Ranchero Eggs with Blistered Pepper Jack Cheese
We obviously didn’t have a ton of time to cook together, so we knew we had to pick something awesome. We had both been eyeing this recipe from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbookand decided on it almost immediately, which is a big deal for people like us who normally take forever to decide what to cook. Let’s be real, though, it’s not like it was a hard decision. Eggs and black beans cooked in a spicy tomato sauce, smothered with melted cheese and topped with crispy, freshly made tortilla strips and lime crema. Yeah, like we needed much time to figure out we wanted to make that. This was one of the first recipes Eric picked out of the cookbook, and since I have a habit of making recipes he wants when I’m not home (like these bacon burgers I made last time I visited Annie), I’ve decided I’m making this again this weekend so that he can enjoy it too.

Baked Ranchero Eggs with Blistered Pepper Jack Cheese


Baked Ranchero Eggs with Blistered Pepper Jack Cheese

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 6-12 servings

Baked Ranchero Eggs with Blistered Pepper Jack Cheese

Eggs and black beans cooked in a spicy ranchero sauce, smothered with melted pepper jack cheese and topped with lime crema and freshly made tortilla strips.

Ingredients

For the sauce:
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
3 cups (1 28-ounce can) whole tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted
1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
Salt and pepper, to taste
1½ cups (1 15-ounce can) black beans, drained and rinsed
For the tortilla strips:
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 small (6-inch) corn tortillas, cut into ½-inch wide strips
Coarse salt, to taste
For the eggs:
12 large eggs
1¼ cups freshly shredded pepper jack cheese
1 cup greek yogurt or sour cream (low fat is fine)
2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
¼ cup minced fresh cilantro

Directions

Heat oven to 450º. To make the ranchero sauce, combine the jalapeño, tomatoes, onion and garlic in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the sauce into a 12-inch ovenproof skillet, stir in the black beans and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat but maintain a simmer and continue cooking for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, brush a baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Arrange the tortilla strips in a single layer on the baking sheet and brush the tops with the remaining tablespoon of oil. Sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake about 6 minutes, tossing once or twice, until lightly browned and crisp. Set aside. Resist eating them all while cooking the eggs. Not that we had a problem with that.

Once the sauce has thickened slightly, remove the pan from the heat. Carefully crack the eggs over the surface of the sauce, distributing them as evenly as possible. Return the pan to the heat, cover and let simmer gently about 10-12 minutes, until the egg whites are partially but not completely opaque.

While the eggs are cooking, make the crema. Combine the greek yogurt and lime juice in a small bowl and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Heat the broiler. Sprinkle the cheese over the top over the eggs and cook until the cheese is browned and bubbling and the egg whites are opaque, just a few minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, add dollops of the lime crema, crumble on the tortilla strips and sprinkle with cilantro. Serve immediately, passing extra crema on the side.

Source

Barely adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbookby Deb Perelman

http://www.cooklikeachampionblog.com/2013/02/baked-ranchero-eggs-with-blistered-pepper-jack-cheese/