Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Baby, It's Cold Outside

When it’s cold outside, there is nothing I love more than a good soup. There's just something about a nice warm bowl on a cold day that makes you feel all better.

My husband and I both like variety, so we love to try new recipes, and rarely repeat something unless it’s really special.

Ladies and gentlemen, these recipes are really special. I give you Spicy Beef and Barley Soup and Chicken Soup with Cheese Tortellini. We have made both of these recipes at least three times—in the last month alone.

Spicy Beef and Barley Soup
I found this recipe in Cooking Light a couple of months ago, and it is divine. My husband is the one who’s actually done the cooking on this one when we’ve had it, and he’s made a few adjustments to “ramp it up” as he likes to say.

2 teaspoons canola oil
1 (1 ½ pound) eye-of-round steak, cut into one inch pieces (you could also use cubed stew meat if you’re not interested in the “light” aspect of the recipe)
1/2 teaspoon + ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon + ½ teaspoon salt
1 large yellow onion, sliced
2 cups baby carrots
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup red wine
8 cups beef broth
¾ cup uncooked pearl barley
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 sprigs of thyme
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon cumin
1 bay leaf

Heat canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Sprinkle beef evenly on all sides with salt and pepper (1/2 teaspoon of each). Add beef and onion to the pan, sauté 5 minutes until the meat is browned on all sides. Remove beef mixture from the pan; place in an electric slow cooker.

Add carrot and mushrooms to the pan, and sauté 5 minutes. Add bell pepper and garlic, and sauté two more minutes. Add red wine to pan, and bring to a bubble. Add the carrot mixture, barley, basil, crushed red pepper, tomatoes, bay leaf, paprika, cumin and thyme to the slow cooker and stir well to combine. Cover and cook on high for one hour. Reduce heat to low and cook for 6 hours. Discard thyme sprigs before serving.

Chicken Soup with Cheese Tortellini
This soup is so warming and hearty. The chicken totally falls apart, and it makes your house smell divine. It tastes great on a cold night, and if you don’t like tortellini (which seems impossible to me, but you never know) it also tastes great over rice or quinoa.

2 teaspoons canola oil
1 leek finely sliced (optional—I love leeks, but they’re not everyone’s cup of tea)
1 yellow onion, finely sliced
1 and ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 cups sliced mushrooms (or just one of those pre-packaged deals from the grocery store)
2 cups baby carrots
6 stalks of celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup of dry white wine
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
12 cups chicken broth
2 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon salt + ½ teaspoon of salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 package cheese tortellini

In a large sauce pot or dutch oven, heat the canola oil over medium high heat. Add the celery and leeks and sauté for five minutes. Add the onions, mushrooms and ½ teaspoon of salt and and sauté for three more minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for two minutes.

Add the white wine and bring to a bubble, let simmer for three to five minutes and then add the chicken, white wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, chicken broth, thyme, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat.

Simmer gently for an hour. Add the carrots and simmer for another ½ hour. Shred the chicken with two forks (it will be falling apart, so this will be really easy). Bring the soup back to a boil and add the tortellini. Cook until the tortellinis are done. Cool a bit and serve.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Enlighten Us!

DallasEats Wants to Know:

What's your favorite find?

We had so much fun with our Neighborhood Finds and Top Crave-able Dishes (see Aug-Oct of last year), that we're ready to find more. In fact, now we want to know yours!

Yes, that's right - DallasEats is admitting that there just may be a little hole-in-the-wall place we've never heard of ...or perhaps a menu item at a local restaurant that isn't getting the attention it deserves. What is your favorite local find? What's the very best dish of it's kind that might become a recurring necessity in our lives?

Leave a comment below and we'll run right out and take you up on your recommendation. Anywhere in Dallas is fair game. We'll even consider nearby suburbs (just don't expect us to haul up to Sherman). A future post will contain FoodiePrincess and Classy&Sassy's thoughts on what we're sure will be a slew of new favorites, and maybe a few controversial contenders.

We can't wait to try your finds!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Think Globally, Drink Locally

We already know you love wine ...but how often do you choose Texas wine? If you're like us, you may have shied away from Texas wine in the past for a number of reasons - lack of familiarity with brands, limited availability or even *gasp* a bad past experience. We've been there; we feel your pain.

But today we propose you take another look at wines from the Lone Star State. Why? For starters, Texas wineries have been bringing better products to the table with each passing year. The wines are delcious and complex and affordable to boot! (Get it? Boot? Texas? Save your groans 'till the end, please...) Toss in the fact that local products are in vogue for their lower carbon footprints and you have every reason to give one - or more - of our suggestions a try. We've sampled more than a few, and listed our faves below to help you figure out where to start the next time you're at the wine shop.

Also, please comment on any Texas wines or wineries that you recommend - we'd love to hear about 'em!

DallasEats Recommended Texas Wines:

Becker Vineyards
The 2006 Iconoclast Cabernet Sauvignon is a friendly wine at a great price - medium bodied and not too dry. Becker Viognier is a light-bodied white that will be perfect in the spring and summer months.

Peregrine Hill
(no website)
Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir are both consistently well reviewed. The distinctive Peregrine Falcon on the label is native to far west Texas' Escondido Valley, where the wine is grown and bottled.

Messina Hof
This is a personal favorite of ours - especially Cabernet Sauvignons and Merlots. We recommend all vintages, as we've never had a bottle we didn't like.

Brennan Vineyards
This up-and-coming Central Texas winery's Viognier just won the prestigious title of Top Texas Wine at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Int'l Wine Competition. If you see it, snap it up.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Brand Name Trivia

Who doesn’t like a bit of food-related trivia? Below are a few fun facts from Top 10 of Everything 2008 by Russell Ash. This weekend, you can dazzle friends and family with your obscure food-brand-related knowledge. i.e., “You’d think Pepsi and Coke would be neck-and-neck in international sales, but they’re actually separated by quite a wide margin.”

…Not that everyone wasn’t already aware of your amazing intellectual prowess, but a little reminder never hurt.

Top 10 International Food, Drink and Restaurant Brands

1. Coca-Cola
$67,000,000,000 (Brand Value)

2. McDonald’s

3. Pepsi

4. Nescafé, Switzerland

5. Budweiser

6. Kellogg’s

7. Heinz

8. Wrigley’s

9. KFC

10. Nestlé, Switzerland

Top 10 Soft-Drink Brands in the USA

1. Coca-Cola Classic 4,848,200,000 gal./year

2. Pepsi 3,124,900,000

3. Mountain Dew 1,301,300,000

4. Dr. Pepper 1,168,200,000

5. Sprite 993,700,000

6. Gatorade 958,000,000

7. Minute Maid 672,000,000

8. Tropicana 632,000,000

9. Aquafina 506,100,000

10. Dasani 448,000,000

Top 10 Brewers, World-Wide

1. InBev, Belgium
12.6% of world total

2. SABMiller, UK

3. Anheuser-Busch, USA

4. Heineken, Netherlands

5. Carlsberg, Denmark

6. Molson Coors, USA/Canada

7. Modelo, Mexico

8. Baltik Beverage, Russia

9. Tsingtao, China

10. Yan Jing, China