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  • Have a Spooky Halloween!

    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: September 2013

Chicken Enchilada Wraps

Chicken Enchilada Wraps

I don’t know why, but I’m always struggling to find ideas for lunch. I don’t mind a good sandwich, especially on homemade bread, but I tend to tire of them fairly quickly unless I change up the fillings on a regular basis. One way I get out of my sandwich rut is to make wraps, and this recipe is my new favorite. It’s different than the usual meat, cheese, tomato, avocado and lettuce that usually ends up in my wraps, and you guys know I love anything Tex-Mex.

This recipe does require a bit  more work than just throwing some ingredients into a tortilla and wrapping it up since the chicken has to be cooked. I did that the night before and mixed up the remaining ingredients the next day. This recipe is similar to the chicken rollups I posted way back in 2008 (check out that lovely picture, ha!), but this one has a bit more heft to it, making it more appropriate for lunch. We enjoyed these three days in a row, and not one time did I feel tired of them. Given my tendency to get bored with lunch foods, that’s saying a lot.

Chicken Enchilada Wraps

 

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Crispy Slow Cooker Carnitas

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

My slow cooker is probably one of the most underutilized tools in my kitchen. (Side note: do you call yours a slow cooker or Crock Pot? Growing up, it was always referred to as a Crock Pot even if it wasn’t the brand. Then again, I’m from Alabama and grew up calling most soda beverages Coke.) Every time I use it, I think “Why the heck don’t I use this more often?” Having a meal cook itself while I’m doing something else like playing with Clara (or reading her Pride and Prejudice board book to her for the 16th time) is a total win.

A long time ago, I assumed all slow cooker meals involved a bunch of ingredients thrown into a vessel and cooked into some agglomeration of things that don’t belong together. I don’t know what gave me that idea, but I’m glad I discovered how awesome slow cooker meals are. Take this recipe, for example. The pork is cut and seared. Onion, beer and spices are added, and you end up with flavorful, juicy pork that is so tender it practically shreds itself. It cooks while you’re doing other things, and it makes your house smell fantastic. All of that for the small amount of effort it took to chop and sear.

We’ve been making these carnitas for several months now, yet I’m still finding new ways to use them. Our favorite way is to serve them on corn tortillas with diced onion, fresh cilantro and a generous squeeze of lime juice. This pork is also fantastic as part of DIY burrito bowls, on top of nachos, mixed with barbecue sauce and served on buns, in place of chicken as filling for taquitos, on top of a loaded baked potato. You get my point. Heck, I bet you could even serve these carnitas on top of scrambled eggs with pepper jack cheese and have a fantastic breakfast.

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

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Hatch Chile Queso

Hatch Chile Queso
I have a big thing for Tex-Mex food. The seven months Eric and I spent in Texas totally spoiled us, too, because there’s really nothing like it anywhere else (at least where we’ve lived since then). I’m sad to say that Hatch chiles were not something I discovered while living in Texas, but I’ve been saving recipes for them for at least three years now. I finally came across some at the farmer’s market (and the farmer told us they’re his favorite variety – score!) and knew right away this queso was the first thing I was going to make.

Homemade queso is something we’ve made before and never gotten around to sharing, mostly because I find it difficult to take pictures of things that a) are a puddle of white and b) don’t stay melty and delicious looking for very long. The secret to great homemade queso, I’ve learned, is white American cheese. It provides that ultra smooth creaminess I crave from queso dip. If you can’t find Hatch chiles, you can try out different varieties of peppers in their place; poblanos and/or jalapeños would be great. Hatch chiles aren’t very spicy, so you’ll want to add a hotter pepper if you want the dip to have some kick. As it is, this recipe will give you a creamy, mild dip that really lets the flavor of the chiles come through.

Hatch Chile Queso

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How to Save Starred Items from Google Reader Using Pocket

How to save starred recipes from Google Reader using Pocket

Phew, that was a lengthy title. Fair warning: this is not a recipe post. In the five years I’ve had this blog, there have been very few times that I published a post without a recipe. I hope those of you that come here for the food will stick around after this.

Since we’re all friends, I’m going to admit that I have gotten so behind on my blog reading since the demise of Google Reader. It’s ridiculous how much I counted on it being there, and of course I didn’t have time to pin or otherwise save all the recipes (and craft ideas) I had starred in Google Reader. I downloaded my Google Takeout file like I was supposed to but had no clue how to turn it into anything useful. My starred items were all saved in a file on my computer, but the file was just a bunch of jumbled text saved in a file type I’d never even heard of. Two months passed and even though I obsessively clean out my downloads folder, I couldn’t bring myself to delete that (at the time) useless file. I’m so glad I didn’t because, thanks to some internet-sleuthing, I discovered a way to turn it into an archive. A searchable archive! (Sorry, Feedly, but not being able to search my bookmarked items has been a real pain.)

I probably shouldn’t admit how excited I was to have all of my starred items back in one place, but for those of you that, like me, had over 1,000 items saved in Google Reader, I’m guessing you can relate. All 1,564 (!) of my starred items are now living happily in Pocket. I had never heard of Pocket, but thankfully my tech-savvy husband knew what it was. It used to be Read It Later, and it’s a way to save things you want to, surprise, read later. There’s a website version plus mobile and browser apps, so you can access these items from practically anywhere. The best part is that you can save new items from Feedly into Pocket and make them searchable! Heck yes! I’m still pretty ecstatic about this, in case you can’t tell. Okay, enough rambling.

Here are the step by step instructions you need to import your starred items into Pocket:

1. First of all, you need to have downloaded (and kept) your starred items file from Google Takeout. If you didn’t do this, sorry. There’s no way to access it now that Reader is gone. Make sure you’ve signed up for Pocket here if you don’t already have an account (it’s free).
2. Open the “starred.json” file. (Mine was under a folder titled “myemailaddress@gmail.com-takeout,” then inside that there was a “Reader” folder.)
3. Hit command (control on Windows) + a to select all the text, then command + c to copy it. Go to this website and hit command + v to paste your text into the top text box .
4. Click the button that says “Click here to convert!” and then the new text will show up in the bottom text box.
5. Put the cursor in the bottom box, hit command + a to select the text, command + c to copy the text and command + v to paste it into a new text file (in whatever text editor you use). Save it as an .html file.
6. Go to the Pocket import page.
7. Scroll down to the “choose file” button and select the .html file you created, then click the “import” button.
8. If for some reason this doesn’t work, you may need to save your .html file as a rich text file (.rtf) first, re-save it as an .html file and repeat steps 6 and 7. I had to do this, but I can only attest to my experience and you may not need to do it.
9. Go to Twitter and thank the guy that created the converter. :)

Oh, and if you want to save items to your Pocket from Feedly (and why wouldn’t you?), it’s simple. You just click the Pocket icon and boom, recipe saved. You can even add tags or categories if you want. Score! And now all your saved items will be in one happy, searchable place.

How to save recipes from Feedly into Pocket

I hope some of you will find this useful. I was super happy to have discovered this method, and, like a good recipe, information like this is meant to be shared. I’m not saying this is the best or fastest way, but it’s the only way I’ve found (and it is awesome).


Pistachio Ice Cream

Pistachio Ice Cream with Chocolate Shavings

This is the best ice cream I’ve ever made and quite possibly the best I’ve ever eaten. I know that’s a bold statement to make, but I mean it. Ice cream is my favorite dessert, so I take making such proclamations very seriously. Pistachio ice cream has been one of my favorite flavors since I was in middle school, back when Blue Bell was the standard by which I judged all ice creams.

Homemade pistachio ice cream has been on my radar since I first started making ice cream. I was under the (false) impression that I wouldn’t be able to make it because there was no way to infuse the cream mixture with enough pistachio flavor. I was seriously mistaken, and this ice cream is proof. I was so tempted by Talenti pistachio gelato (which I’ve never tried, but I have had other flavors of theirs that are insanely good) that I knew I had to figure out a way to make a homemade version happen. As luck would have it, a picture of pistachio ice cream showed up in my Pinterest feed around the same time. Plus, summer is still in full swing here, which means it’s still prime ice-cream making season. Serendipitous? Probably not. However, it was just the inspiration I needed to finally make homemade pistachio ice cream a reality.

This ice cream is luscious and rich and is basically the stuff ice cream dreams are made of. You’ll notice that it lacks the perfect green color of store-bought pistachio ice cream, and that’s because it also lacks green food coloring and instead gets its gorgeous, slightly yellow hue from roasted pistachios. The recipe called for shaved chocolate to be mixed in after churning, but I used my favorite ice cream technique (one I picked up from The Perfect Scoop) and drizzled melted chocolate into the ice cream just as it finished churning (stracciatella). The result is tiny flecks of chocolate dispersed throughout the ice cream, and it is magical. If you’ve ever been left chewing a chocolate chip long after you finished a bite of ice cream, this technique will blow your mind.

I don’t see this ice cream being topped for a long time, so I’m going to need some inspiration for recipes to follow this one. What are your favorite ice cream flavors?

Pistachio Ice Cream with Chocolate Flecks

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