1. Easiest Tortilla Soup

    I’m a bit cautious in making the following statement, as individuals from anywhere but Southern California will undoubtedly mock me: it is actually kind of cold here in Los Angeles. (Remember, we’re used to 75 degree weather.)  The notion of walking home from class at 10pm in such arctic conditions, therefore, is rather daunting.

    (Alright, now I’m just being dramatic, but bear with me—there’s a recipe in it for you.)

    Upon arriving home, I’m obviously going to want something hot—and something that my frostbitten hands will still be able to prepare.  Cue the easiest and most delicious recipe for winter comfort food: Tortilla Soup.

    20 minutes is all it takes to prepare this budget- and time-friendly dish. It’s flavorful enough to serve as an entrée, and hearty enough to keep you satisfied. And, best of all, it tastes even better reheated—just pop it in the microwave and you’re ready to go.

    I guarantee it’ll warm even the coldest of hearts, whether they are beyond Los Angeles or not.

    Tortilla SoupTortilla Soup
    1 medium white onion
    2 tbsp vegetable oil
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    ½ lb. ground turkey
    1 tsp cumin
    ¼ tsp salt
    1 can diced tomatoes with chili
    1 8oz can tomato sauce
    4 cups chicken stock
    1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
    1 can corn
    1 tsp enchilada sauce mix OR 1 tbsp enchilada sauce
    ½ cup shredded Mexican mixed cheese, or cheddar and jack
    1 cup tortilla chips, crushed
    Sour cream, sliced avocado and cilantro to garnish (optional)

    Coarsely chop the onion and add it, with the vegetable oil, to a large pot on medium-low heat. Cook until the onion semi-transparent, about 7-8 minutes, being careful not to let it brown. Add the garlic and stir for an additional minute.

    Bring the pot to medium heat and mix in the ground turkey, breaking it up as it cooks. Continue to stir until the meat is cooked throughout, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cumin, as well as the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Once thoroughly incorporated, add the chicken stock, followed by the black beans and corn. Mix in the enchilada seasoning/sauce and allow it to simmer for another few minutes.

    To serve, divide the soup into bowls. Sprinkle each with a portion of the shredded cheese followed by the crushed tortilla chips. If desired, garnish with sour cream, avocado and cilantro. Makes 8 servings.


  2. Bacon Mac ‘n Cheese

    Alright, it’s about time I did some serious cheese pushing.

    As I’ve said before, I love Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese. It’s delicious, and not to mention cheap. It’s great for those times when you get home at the end of a long day and just want some easy, fast comfort food.

    Last night was one not one of those nights.

    It had, in fact, been a long day. I was in class for 10 hours, and had only gotten 2 hours of sleep of the night before. (I know, you came here to listen to me whine). But last night, I just wanted to come home and have an awesome meal.

    Because, when it comes down to it, there aren’t many foods much more awesome than cheese. That got me thinking: what was the cheesiest food I could prepare? I decided to make some real mac ‘n cheese—nay, macaroni and cheese—that would satisfy my cheese need, as well as my desire for comfort food.  I also decided to throw in some equally awesome bacon for good measure. (Bacon is life, after all.)

    Because I usually have a wide variety of cheeses in my fridge, the sky was the limit. I decided on a combination of havarti (arguably one of the best cheeses ever), mozzarella, and cheddar for some color.

    And that, my friends, made for an awesome meal.

    Macaroni and cheese

    Bacon Macaroni and Cheese

    6 slices of bacon
    ½ lb pasta (about 2 cups)
    1½ cups milk
    3 tbsp butter
    2 tbsp flour
    2 cups cheese (shredded or diced)
    ½ tsp salt
    Pepper to taste
    1/3 cup bread crumbs

    Preheat the oven to 350.

    Cook the bacon in a pan on medium heat until it is crispy, saving about a teaspoon of the grease. Meanwhile, prepare the pasta (either elbow macaroni or shells is best) according to the directions on the box.

    In a saucepan, warm the milk. In a larger pot, melt 2 tbsp of the butter on medium heat (do not let it brown) and stir in the flour. Once thick and thoroughly mixed, add the milk. 

    Turn the heat down to its lowest setting and gradually add the cheese, stirring until it is smooth. Crumble the bacon and add it, as well as the teaspoon of bacon grease, to the cheese sauce. Mix in the pasta, and pour into a 9x13 glass pan.

    Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter and mix in the breadcrumbs. Sprinkle this over the pasta, and bake until the cheese is bubbly and the breadcrumbs are golden brown.