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The I-don’t-feel-so-good, easy, chicken soup

Over the weekend I was tired, I didn’t feel very good, and my throat hurt. I didn’t want to cook anything complicated. But I wanted something classic and nutritious to help me feel better. I looked in my pantry and found some orzo. I had some chicken stock, a couple carrots, and some celery on hand too. After standing around feeling sorry for myself for a while, I realized that was all I needed. Put all that in a pot and what do you get? Chicken soup! That should help me get back on my feet.

The I-dont-feel-so-good, easy, chicken soup.

The I-dont-feel-so-good, easy, chicken soup.

Ohhh, and animal crackers… Yeah, animal crackers… I think I’ll be just fine.

Click through for the soup recipe.

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Cream Cheese Brownies

Cream Cheese Brownies

Cream Cheese Brownies

Who doesn’t love brownies?  They are easy to throw together from scratch (yes, almost as easy as using boxed brownies) and they are delicious.  The best thing about making your own brownies is that you get to control the type of chocolate that goes into them.  I usually will use Ghirardelli chocolate, because it’s readily available and it’s very good.  Every now and then I will splurge and use something like Callebaut (Belgian) or Valrhona (French) chocolate.  You can usually find either of those at your local gourmet grocery store, or order them online if you don’t have one near you.  That being said, I sometimes feel like my brownies could use a little something extra.  That’s when I turn to this recipe.  The addition of the cream cheese (think cheesecake not cheeseburger) enlivens the normal brownie recipe.  I know this takes a little bit of extra work (since you have the cream cheese mixture as well as the batter), but it’s well worth it.  So next time you want a bit more from your brownies, give this recipe a try.  It’s well worth the extra calories.

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Bacon!

Who doesn’t like bacon? It’s everything meat should be. Flavorful, fatty, salty, smokey and fatty. I know, fatty is in there twice. I feel like I only get half the meat I should be getting when I eat some bacon. I mean, the fat is great, it’s part of what makes it so good (that and the salt!). And there is always the risk that the bacon fat will spatter a bit when you cook it, so you have to clean the stove-top too. Can you somehow easily cook it without all that fat and mess? Fortunately, yes. And even more fortunately, it’s easier than you think. Use the oven.

Bacon

Bacon

Cooking for Engineers has two articles about the many many ways to cook bacon. Oven-bake, oven-broil, microwave, grill, and pan-fried are all covered. To me, the oven is the best way of making bacon. I have used Alton Brown’s Good Eats method before with success and wanted to see what a longer slower cooking time yielded. (If you look at AB’s recipe, he shows you how to cure the bacon and everything, I just buy my own and skip down to the end where he says to put it in the oven.)

AB calls for putting the bacon on a cooling rack set into a baking pan into a cold oven. Then turning the oven to 400F and cooking for 12 to 15 minutes (from the time you turn the oven on, not from when it is preheated). This is good and quick.

Bacon

Bacon

Cooking for Engineers takes a different approach to the oven method. Long and slow. You preheat your oven to 200F and use the same bacon-on-a-cooling-rack-in-a-baking sheet as AB. This method takes a lot longer. Three to four hours long. But hey, if you don’t have anything to do for a while or want to make bacon to reheat in sandwiches or something later, this is the way to go. I actually prefer this method for a number of reasons. It seems to render more fat from the bacon. The fat that is rendered is pure bacon fat. Pure white in color. No burnt bits in it. The bacon is great for saving and using later.

So if you have time, I say go with the long and slow oven cooking. If you want bacon faster, go with the higher temperature oven method.

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Argentine Asado

Street Asado (click for bigger image)

Street Asado (click for bigger image)

I quickly learned that beef is king here. Parrilla restaurants are everywhere. I even came across a guy in the street grilling out on the sidewalk. Not even in a restaurant or anything–he was just making lunch. (See after the jump for the photo of this guy’s lunch—Bonus points to anyone who can name all the meats in the Street Asado.)
And it’s not just beef that is popular, anything that can be grilled is fair game. All kinds of animals–goat, lamb, cow, pig, poultry, fowl–, vegetables and fruits are all options for an Argentine in front of a parrilla.

I would like to introduce you to the Argentine way of grilling, the asado.

Asado

Asado

Everyone has seen the round Weber Grills used in the US. These are perfectly capable machines and can grill a good steak, but the Argentines have a method that I prefer. I always seem to have a problems grills in the US. I feel that I cannot regulate the heat as much as I would like and adding more coals to a lit grill is always an issue. The resourceful Argentines of course figured out a way around this by using a multistage process and an open cooking area.

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