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An Improv Cookbook: IO Level 1

"Do something vulnerable" - Todd,

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"Every story has a beginning, middle, and an end" - Todd, but also many other people throughout history, I imagine.

Wicked White Chili

Food Network / Via


* 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

* 3 medium sized onions, finely chopped

* 1 each green, yellow, and red pepper, chopped

* 4-6 jalapeno peppers, depending on heat preference

* 6 cups chicken broth

* 15 oz. can butter beans, drained and rinsed

* 15 oz. can navy beans, drained and rinsed

* 15 oz. can great northern beans, drained and rinsed

* 4 tsp. cumin

* 2 tsp. salt

* 1 tbsp onion powder

* 1 tbsp garlic powder

* 1 tbsp cayenne pepper

* 2 tbsp chili powder

* 4 tsp oregano

* 1 tsp ground pepper

* 1-2 cups cream (or milk)


# Poach chicken in 2 cups of water with 1 medium onion, chopped.

# Let cool.

# Separate chicken from liquid.

# Add liquid to the chicken stock.

# Shred chicken and set aside.

# In a soup pot, add stock, 2 remaining chopped onions, chopped peppers, chopped jalapenos, and all spices.

# Simmer for 1-2 hours.

# At this point chili can be frozen if not eating immediately.

# Add shredded chicken and continue to simmer for 1 additional hour.

# Just before serving, add all beans and a white roux (directions below).

# Allow to thicken over low heat for 20 minutes, stirring often.

# Serve chili over rice or tortilla chips.

# Garnish with chopped scallions, Monterrey Jack cheese, cheddar cheese, and sour cream

White Roux Instructions:

# Melt 3 tbsp butter in a pan.

# Add 3 tbsp flour gradually, stirring constantly over low heat.

# When mixed, add cream slowly, stirring constantly over low heat.

# Do not allow mixture to brown or darken in color.

# Add to chili.

Salmon Mousse

BBC / Via


* 2 cans red salmon

* 1 small onion

* 1 celery stick

* 6 ounces of white gelatin

* 2 lemons

* 1 cup whipping cream

* 1 cup mayonnaise

* salt and pepper to taste

* dill and chives to taste

* sour cream


# Rinse the salmon clean.

# Chop onion and celery into fine pieces.

# Prepare the gelatin in cold water, following directions on the box

# In a large bowl, mix together lemon juice, mayonnaise, salt, pepper, sour cream, chives and salmon.

# Add prepared gelatin to the mixture and mix thoroughly

# In a separate bowl, whip the whipping cream until it is quite stiff and fold into mixture

# Fill a pudding form with the mixture

# Let mousse set in refrigerator for a few hours

# When ready to serve, dip the form briefly in hot water to loosen the mousse before turning over onto a plate.

# Serve with sliced baguette and white wine!

White Chicken Chili

Mercedes-Benz / Via


* 1 tbsp olive oil

* 3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, halved

* 1 large onion, chopped

* 2 cloves garlic, minced

* 5.25 cups chicken broth

* 3 cans (15oz each) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

* 2 cans (4oz each) chopped green chilies

* 1 tbsp dried oregano

* 1 tsp ground cumin

* 2 pinches cayenne pepper

* 0.25 cups chopped fresh cilantro

* 0.5 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

* Salt to taste


# Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat

# Add chicken, onion, and garlic and cook until chicken is browned all over (about 3-5 minutes per side)

# Remove the chicken to a cutting board and cut into 1-inch pieces

# Return chicken pieces to Dutch oven and add chicken broth, cannellini beans, green chilies, oregano, cumin, and cayenne pepper.

# Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until the chicken cooked through (about 30-45 minutes)

# Divide cilantro evenly between 4 bowls and pour chili evenly over each.

# Top with cheese,

# Season with salt and serve!


"Mainly I just steal a lot" - Todd, but also criminals and angsty 12 year-olds.

Chicken Adobo with Sweet Potatoes


* 4 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

* 2.3 tbsp olive oil

* 4 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, minced

* 2 cloves garlic

* 2 tbsp honey

* 2 tsp cider vinegar

* 1.25 tsp salt

* 1 tsp cumin

* 1 tsp cinnamon

* 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

* Chopped cilantro to taste


# Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

# In a medium sized bowl, toss sweet potato pieces in olive oil

# Scatter oiled potato pieces on roasting pan and roast for 15 minutes

# While potatoes are roasting, mix chilies, chopped garlic, honey, vinegar, salt, cumin, and cinnamon together in a small bowl. Mix until it forms a paste.

# Rub paste evenly over chicken breasts

# Take the sweet potatoes out of the oven and place pasted chicken breasts directly on top of the potatoes. Roast until the chicken is cooked through (30-45 minutes depending on weight of chicken).

# Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve!

Minestrone with Pesto


* 3 tablespoons olive oil

* 1 large onion, finely chopped

* 1 leek, sliced up

* 2 carrots, finely chopped

* 1 celery rib, finely chopped

* 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

* 2 average sized potatoes, peeled and diced into cubes

* 6.5 cups of hot vegetable stock (heat in pot on medium-high heat until simmers)

* 1 bay leaf

* 0.25 tsp diced thyme

* 0.75 cup peas, fresh or frozen

* 2-3 zucchini, finely chopped

* 3 medium sized tomatoes, finely chopped

* 2 cups cooked or canned beans (choose a favorite or go with cannellini beans)

* 3 tbsp pesto sauce

* Salt and pepper to taste

* Grated parmesan cheese to top


# In a large saucepan, heat oil on medium-high heat

# Stir in chopped onion and leek, stir and let simmer for 5-6 minutes

# Add carrots, celery, and garlic. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes

# Add potatoes and cook on medium for 2-3 more minutes

# With the saucepan still on medium heat, pour heated vegetable stock over vegetables and stir well

# Add bay leaf, thyme, salt, and pepper

# Bring to a boil. Once boiling, immediately reduce heat to low and cook for 10-12 minutes

# If using fresh peas, add now with zucchini. Simmer for 5 minutes.

# If using frozen peas, add now (after zucchini has already simmered). Add tomatoes. Cover pan and let simmer for 5-8 minutes.

# Remove lid and stir in beans. Simmer for 10 minutes.

# Add in pesto sauce. Let simmer for 5 minutes.

# Remove from heat and let sit for a few minutes.

# Serve! Top with parmesan cheese to taste.

3-bean Casserole


* 0.5 lb ground beef

* 0.5 lb bacon

* 1 onion, finely chopped

* 0.5 cup brown sugar

* 0.5 cup ketchup

* 0.5 cup sugar

* 1 can pork and beans

* 1 can butter beans, drained and rinsed

* 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed


# Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

# Combined ground beef, sliced bacon, and chopped onion into pan or pot. On medium heat, brown the mixture with a bit of oil or butter.

# Mix in all additional ingredients.

# Pout mixture into oven-safe casserole dish.

# Bake at 350F for 1 hour.

# Serve hot!

Chicken Cacciatore


* Oil for frying

* Flour

* 0.25 tsp ground black pepper

* 1 whole, uncooked chicken separated into pieces or 4lb assortment of chicken pieces

* 1 onion, chopped

* 2 cloves garlic, minced

* 1 green pepper, chopped

* 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes

* 0.5 tsp dried oregano

* 0.5 cup white wine

* 2 cups fresh mushrooms, quartered

* salt and pepper to taste


# In a large plastic bag, combine chicken pieces, flour (a few spoon fulls), salt, and pepper. Shake until chicken is coated.

# In a large skillet with a lid, heat oil and fry chicken pieces until they are browned on each side. Set fried chicken pieces aside.

# Once chicken is fried, in the same skillet add onion, garlic, and green pepper. Sautee until onion is slightly browned.

# Return chicken to skillet and add tomatoes, oregano, and wine. Cover and simmer mixture for 30 minutes on medium-low heat.

# Add mushrooms, salt, and pepper. Simmer for 10 additional minutes.

# Serve!

Pad Thai


* 4 tbsp vegetable oil

* 1 tsp chopped garlic

* Shrimp or tofu

* 1 tbsp raddish, shredded

* 0.25 lb dried rice noodles (soak in water for 60 minutes before using)

* 2 large eggs

* Ground hot chilis to taste

* 2 tbsp roasted peanuts

* 2 tbsp beansprouts

Ingredients Sauce:

* 1 cup tamarind juice

* 1 cup palm sugar

* 1 cup water

* 0.5 cup fish sauce

* 2 tsp salt


# Heat oil over medium-high heat

# Add shrimp or tofu and cook until it changes color. Remove from heat to prevent overcooking.

# Combine shrimp or tofu with noodles and a splash of water.

# Stir in Pad Thai sauce.

# Add eggs and stir constantly.

# Add chili, peanuts, garlic, radish, and beansprouts.

# Add lime juice to taste.

# Enjoy!

Caramelized Pork Loin with Apples


* 2 tbsp sugar

* 1 tsp ground cumin

* 0.75 tsp salt

* pinch of ground red pepper

* pinch of ground black pepper

* 1 garlic clove, minced

* 1 boneless pork loin (2.5 lbs), trimmed

* cooking spray

* 2 medium onions, cut into wedges

* 2 Rome apples, cut into wedges

* 2 Granny Smith apples, cut into wedges

* 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar


# Preheat oven to 425 degrees F

# In a small bowl, combine sugar, cumin, salt, red pepper, and black pepper. Set aside.

# Rub minced garlic over the outside of the pork loin.

# Over medium-high heat, heat a large skillet and coat with cooking spray

# Add the pork loin and onion to the skillet and cool for 10 minutes or until seared on all sides.

# Place pork in a 13in x 9in backing dish coated in cooking spray

# Sprinkle sugar/spice mixture over the pork loin.

# Arrange onion around the pork loin and drizzle with vinegar.

# Bake at 425F for 20 minutes.

# Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

# Add apples and sauté for 5 minutes or until golden in color

# Remove pork loin from oven and arrange apples around the pork

# Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees F and cook an additional 20 minutes or until pork is done all the way through.

# Once done, pour the juice in the bottom of the pan into a medium sauce pan and cook over medium-high heat until reduced to about 1/3 a cup (about 14 minutes).

# Drizzle reduction over pork, onions, and apples.

# Serve!


"A laugh is its own dessert" -Todd's probably never said this but it sounds like something he WOULD say.



For crust –

* 30 Oreos

* 6 tpsp. butter, melted

For filling –

* 32 oz. cream cheese, room temperature

* 5 large eggs

* 1.5 cup lightly packed light brown sugar (aka don't pack it into the measuring cup too much)

* 0.5 cup heavy cream

* 1 tsp. vanilla extract

* 18 fun size candy bars of choice, coarsely chopped

For topping –

* 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

* 0.5 cup heavy cream

* 9 fun sized candy bars of choice, coarsely chopped


For crust –

# Preheat oven to 325 degrees F

# Using a food processor, finely ground Oreos until they are crumbs (no food processor? Place Oreos in a plastic bag and smash until crumbs)

# Add melted butter to Oreo crumbs and pulse in food processor until combined (no food processor? Mix well in a bowl)

# Press the mixture into the bottom and halfway up the sides of a 9-inch spring-form pan

# Bake at 325F for 10 minutes

# Set on rack to cool

For filling –

# Using an electric mixer, beat room temperature cream cheese until smooth (VERY IMPT that cream cheese is room temperature and not straight from the fridge)

# Add eggs one at a time, mixing in between, until combined

# Add brown sugar, cream, and vanilla. Beat until combined. Do not over mix.

# Stir in chopped candy bars until evenly dispersed

# Pour batter into cooled crust

# Bake for about 1 hour or until set (top should look slightly dry). Do not be concerned if cake is still wobbly. It is better to undercook at this point than overcook.

# Set aside to cool on a rack.

# Once cool, refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.

For topping –

# Place chocolate chips in medium heatproof bowl

# In a separate bowl, heat cream on medium-high heat until it starts to simmer (small bubbles)

# Pour heated cream directly over chocolate chips

# Wait 3 minutes before starting to stir.

# Stir.

# Once combined, pour over top of cheesecake immediately before serving

# Top with chopped candy bars

# Let sit until chocolate sets.

# Serve!

Banana-Nut Crêpes


* 3 eggs

* 1 ripe banana

* handful of mixed nuts

* 1 teaspoon of vanilla

* Cinnamon to taste


# Mix all ingredients in a bowl with an electric mixer

# In a buttered-pan, pour and cook until golden brown on each side

# Put butter, honey, jam, syrup, or powdered sugar on top and enjoy!

Aztec Hot Chocolate

NBC Universal / Via


* Favorite hot chocolate mix

* Milk or water

* Cayenne pepper


# Make hot chocolate with either hot milk or water.

# Add cayenne pepper to taste.

# Enjoy!

Oreo Truffles

Tristar Pictures / Via


* 1 package of Oreo cookies

* 1 8oz. package of cream cheese (softened at room temp)

* White or regular chocolate bark


# Finely crush 7 Oreo cookies in a food processor. No food processor? Place them in a bag and crush to a fine consistency. Set aside.

# Crush remaining Oreo cookies. Place in bowl.

# Add softened cream cheese to Oreo crumb mixture. Use the back of a spoon to mix and mash together.

# Using hands, roll the mixture into 1 inch balls and place balls on a wax-paper covered cookie sheet

# Over the stove, melt chocolate bark in a pot.

# Dip balls into the chocolate with toothpicks. Tap off extra chocolate on the edge of the pot. Place chocolate covered balls back on the wax paper lined cookie sheet.

# While chocolate is still hot, sprinkle balls with extra Oreo crumbs.

# Refrigerate chocolate covered balls.

# Enjoy!

PRO TIP: Try with other flavors of Oreos!

Pumpkin Chocolate-chip Muffins


* 0.5 cup (1.25 oz) sliced unblanched almonds

* 1.33 cup all purpose flour

* 1 cup granulated sugar

* 1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice

* 1 tsp baking soda

* 0.25 tsp baking powder

* 0.25 tsp salt

* 2 large eggs

* 1 cup plain pumpkin (half of a 1lb can)

* 1 stick butter, melted

* 1 cup chocolate chips


# Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

# Put almonds on a baking sheet or in a pie pan and bake for 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Watch carefully to avoid almonds burning. You can also toast almonds in a toaster oven.

# Slide almonds off of sheet so they cool quickly.

# Grease muffin tin or use foil or paper backing cups.

# In a large bowl, thoroughly mix flour, sugar, pie spice, backing soda, baking powder, and salt.

# Break eggs into another, empty bowl.

# Add pumpkin and butter to eggs and whisk until well blended.

# Stir in chocolate chips and almonds.

# Pour wet mixture over dry mixture and fold together with spatula. Fold just until dry ingredients are moistened.

# Scoop batter evenly into muffin cups.

# Bake for 20-25 minutes or until puffed and springy in the center.

# Turn out muffins onto a rack to cool.

# Will keep for 1-2 days in plastic bag.

# Enjoy!