Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

More than the sum of its parts

Yes, my friends... it's another soup recipe. But not just any soup! Even though there aren't a lot of ingredients, the depth of flavor in this is so incredible. Serve with a nice, sturdy loaf of bread and a salad and you've got the perfect quick, easy, economical meal for, well, anytime!!

Italian Sausage Chowder

1 lb. hot bulk Italian sausage
1 medium onion, chopped
3 large cloves garlic, minced
4 medium potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces (I used Yukon Gold)
6 C. chicken broth
1/4 C. chopped cooked bacon
1-10 oz. package frozen chopped spinach, partially thawed
1 C. half & half
2 T. flour

In a dutch oven or soup pot, brown sausage over medium heat until almost no pink remains. Drain if there is a lot of fat. Add onion and garlic. Saute until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add potatoes, chicken broth, and bacon. Bring to simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Add spinach and cook for another 7 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk flour into half & half. Slowly pour into soup and return to simmer, stirring frequently. Cook and stir until mixture thickens slightly, about another 5 minutes. Check seasoning and add salt and pepper if desired. Between the heat of the sausage and the salt in the chicken broth, it was perfect for us without adding any additional seasoning.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Orange Marmalade Pork Chops

This is another recipe I came up with just using stuff I had on hand.  I serve it with brown and wild rice mix and steamed baby carrots.  The sauce is wonderful on the carrots too!

Orange Marmalade Pork Chops

4 thick cut boneless pork chops
lemon pepper
1/4 C chopped shallots
3/4 C orange marmalade
2 T white balsamic
2 T Dijon mustard

Season pork liberally with lemon pepper. Brown chops in butter over medium heat until golden on both sides and cooked through, about 8-10 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and keep warm in oven. Saute shallots in pan until tender. Add remaining ingredients and heat until marmalade melts and sauce thickens slightly. Add chops (with any accumulated juice) back to sauce, turning several times until lightly glazed, about 5 minutes.

Fall is here... time for soup!!

I love a good hearty soup for dinner, especially when the weather turns cooler.  There's nothing like sitting down to a big bowl of goodness while the weather rages outside.  Here are some of my favorites that I've come up with over the years.  Enjoy!

Cold-killer Thai Soup

This will knock that sinus congestion right out of your face!

8 C. chicken broth 
1/3 lb. chicken (1 breast or 4-5 tenders), cut into small pieces 
1/2 t. turmeric
1 t. hot New Mexico chili powder (use a different kind or 1/2 and 1/2 with cayenne if you want it hotter) 
3 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 large fresh red chili, sliced into rings (again, use a hotter variety or more to taste) 
2 T. Asian fish sauce (for Gods sake buy a good brand... not that crappy Taste of Thai stuff in the grocery store!) 
1/2 C. roasted peanuts, finely ground in a food processor 
2 C. fresh broccoli, cut into bite-size pieces 
1 package Asian-style noodles (I used Chinese egg/wheat noodles but you could use rice noodles or soba or whatever you want) 
1/2 can REGULAR coconut milk (not lite) 
juice of 1 lime 
1/2 lb. raw shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed (if desired... when I'm sick I don't feel like picking tails off my shrimp while I'm eating) 
2 green onions, sliced 
fresh cilantro for garnish 
Bring broth, turmeric, chili powder, garlic, and fresh chili to a simmer. Add chicken and return to simmer. Cook about 2 minutes. Add fish sauce, ground peanuts, and broccoli; return to simmer. Boil noodles in a separate pot according to package directions. Run under cold water when finished cooking. Add 1/2 can coconut milk, lime juice, and shrimp to soup; cook JUST until shrimp turns pink, about 3 minutes. Put generous amount of noodles in a large bowl, ladle soup over, and garnish with green onions and cilantro.

Italian Wedding Soup

I have also made this with pre-cooked frozen meatballs when I'm in a hurry (or tired, or lazy...)

1 lb. extra lean ground beef 
1 egg 
1/4 C. fine dry bread crumbs 
2 T. freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese 
1/2 t. EACH basil and onion powder 
8 C. chicken broth 
1 (10 oz.) package frozen chopped spinach 
1/2 C. uncooked orzo (rice shaped pasta) 
1 small carrot, finely chopped 
additional grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

In medium bowl, combine beef, egg, bread crumbs, cheese, and seasonings; shape into 3/4" balls. In a large soup pot, heat broth to boiling; stir in meatballs, spinach, orzo, and carrot. Return to boil; reduce heat to medium. Cook at slow boil for 10 minutes or until orzo is tender, stirring frequently. Serve sprinkled with additional cheese. 

Creamy Wild Rice Soup

1 C. uncooked wild rice 
2 C. water 
1/2 lb. bacon, sliced into 1/4" strips 
1 C. ham, diced 
1/2 C. each onions, celery, and green peppers, chopped 
2 cans cream of mushroom soup 
6 C. chicken broth 
1/3 C. heavy cream 
1/2 t. thyme 
In small saucepan, cook wild rice in water until done, about an hour. Meanwhile, in large pot, fry bacon until crisp. Drain, reserving about 1 T. of fat. Saute onions, celery, and green peppers in bacon fat until tender. Add mushroom soup, chicken broth, ham, pepper, and thyme. Drain rice if necessary and add to soup, along with reserved bacon. Simmer until flavors are blended, about 30 minutes. Stir in cream and reheat to simmer just before serving.

Chicken, Black Bean, and Barley Soup

1 C. dried black beans 
1 (3-4 lb.) chicken, cut up and skin removed 
1 onion, chopped 
2 stalks celery, chopped 
2 medium carrots, chopped 
1/2 C. barley 
fresh ground black pepper 
1/2 t. dry mustard 
1/8 t. cayenne 
8 C. chicken broth

In Dutch oven or soup pot, combine beans with enough chicken broth to cover. Bring to a full boil and cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand 1 hour. Return beans to low simmer and add chicken, onion, celery, and carrots. Add remaining broth to cover. Cook 1 hour. Remove chicken to cool. Add barley; season with pepper, mustard, and cayenne. Cook 30 minutes until beans and barley are tender. Remove chicken from bones and shred. Return meat to soup. Season with salt to taste. 

Best Black Bean Soup

8 C. chicken broth
2 C. dried black beans 
1 1/2 lbs. smoked ham hocks 
3-4 cloves garlic, mashed 
1 large onion, chopped 
2 large stalks celery, chopped 
2 large carrots, diced 
1/2-1 t. dried red pepper flakes 
1 t. oregano 
1 t. cumin

In large pot or Dutch oven, combine chicken broth and beans. Bring to boil over high heat; boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 1 hour. Add ham hocks and return to boil; reduce heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Add remaining ingredients, return to simmer, and cook for 1 hour. About 20 minutes before end of cooking time, remove ham hocks and let cool. Remove meat, shred, and return to soup; heat through.

Roasted Red Bell Pepper Soup

3 roasted red bell peppers, cleaned, seeded, and coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion, diced
2 carrots, thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 stick of butter
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
8 fresh basil leaves for garnish, thinly sliced

In a medium size stock pot, saute the onion, carrot, and celery in butter over medium high heat. Once vegetables have slightly softened, lower heat to medium, add garlic and continue to cook until vegetables have completely softened, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add peppers and continue to cook for another 10 minutes. Add stock and season with salt and pepper to taste. Puree the ingredients either with a hand blender, food processor, or blender. Once ingredients have been pureed, return to pot over low heat. Add cream and stir until incorporated and heated through. Serve immediately, garnished with sliced basil and additional pepper if desired.

One Chicken, Two Dinners, Three Recipes

I love Costco's rotisserie chickens.  It is one of the VERY few items I will go in there for when I'm not getting anything else.  More often than not, I get them just to shred the meat off and have for other dinners later on.  I don't remember the last time we actually ate one the day I bought it!  Pull all the meat off the carcass, shred into bite-sized pieces, divide into two quart-size ziplock freezer bags, and you have the perfect base for at least two easy meals.  The meat easily freezes for at least a month.

Of course you can use any store's rotisserie chickens, but I just happen to like Costco's the best (and it's closer to my house than any of the grocery stores).

Chicken a la King

4 T. butter
1 (8 oz.) package sliced fresh mushrooms
3 green onions, sliced
1/2 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1/3 C. flour
1/2 t. salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 C. chicken broth
1 C. half and half (light cream)
meat from half a rotisserie chicken
Hot cooked rice

In a large non-stick skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add mushrooms, green onions, and bell pepper; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in flour, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Gradually stir in chicken broth and half and half, stirring constantly, and cook 5 minutes or until slightly thickened. Add chicken and cook 5 to 8 minutes or until thickened and bubbly. Serve over hot cooked rice.

Chicken Divan

6 C. cooked rice
cooking spray
2 1/2 C. cooked broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
meat from half a rotisserie chicken
1 - 10 oz. can mushroom pieces and stems, drained
1 - 8 oz, can sliced water chestnuts, drained and coarsely chopped
2 - 10.75 oz. cans Cream of Mushrooms soup
1 C. real mayonnaise ( I use light style)
juice from half a lemon
1 t. curry powder
1 C. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350°.  Spray a 9 x 13" baking dish with cooking spray.  Layer rice, chicken, mushrooms, water chestnuts, and broccoli.  In a medium bowl, mix together soup, mayo, lemon juice, and curry powder until thoroughly combined.  Spread over the top of layered ingredients.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Top with shredded cheese and bake for another 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Chicken and Gnocchi Soup

3 T. butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/3 C. flour
1 1/2 C. milk
6 C. chicken broth
1 t. dried basil
meat from half a rotisserie chicken
2 C. frozen chopped spinach
1 - 17 oz. package pre-made gnocchi (I get mine at Trader Joes)
Parmesan for serving

In a large soup pot, melt butter over medium heat and saute onion, carrots, celery, and garlic until onion is translucent.  Sprinkle pepper and flour over; stir until vegetables are completely coated and white is no longer visible.  Add milk, chicken broth, and basil; stir frequently until soup comes to a simmer.  Add chicken and spinach; return to simmer, stirring frequently, until spinach is almost cooked (about 5 minutes).  Turn heat to medium high, bring JUST to a boil, and add gnocchi.  Boil just until gnocchi float, about 3-4 minutes.  Serve immediately topped with Parmesan.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

We Be Grillin' - Game Hens with Orange Sauce

The old grill (rest it's soul) finally got to a point of disintegration so advanced it was no longer safe to use.  YAY!!  TIME FOR NEW GRILL!!  Back to cooking just about everything I can on that sucker!  One thing I hadn't made in FOREVER was Cornish game hens.  I'd forgotten how much I love those little things!!  (hubby calls them personal pan chickens... hahaha!!)  Anyway, in my mind nothing makes a better combination than game hens and orange, so I gave it some thought and came up with this-

Cornish Game Hens with Orange Sauce

1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 t. olive oil
1/2 C chicken broth
1 t. orange zest
1/2 C freshly squeezed orange juice
2 T. honey
1 T. Dijon
1 t. dried thyme
1 T. cornstarch
3 - 1.5 lb. Cornish game hens, butterflied (spine cut out with poultry shears and flattened)
mesquite smoking chips

In small saucepan, saute shallot in oil until softened.  In a bowl, combine remaining ingredients (except hens), blending well with whisk.  Add to shallots in saucepan.  Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. Set aside 1/2 cup of the sauce.

Prepare grill for indirect heat cooking.  Also prepare wood chips in your preferred way (I'm using a grill smoking box these days... just put the unsoaked chips in there, set it on the grate, and let 'er rip).

Season hens liberally with kosher salt and pepper.  Place on grill, cut side down, and cook, covered, until done (about an hour to 1:15).  Baste with sauce 2-3 times in the last 30 minutes of cooking, making sure it doesn't get too brown.

Remove to platter and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.  Reheat remaining sauce and serve with hens, if desired.

My friend Jill said they look like little burlesque dancers... lmao!  While the hens were resting, I grilled the asparagus.  The little bit of smoke left in the smoker box just made all the difference in the flavor.  

Can't wait to make it again!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Awesome Broccoli Slaw!!

Ate it so fast I couldn't get a pic!!

In a large bowl combine-

1/2 C mayo
1/2 t lime zest
juice of one small lime
2 t honey
1 t favorite curry powder
pinch of salt

Mix well and let stand for a few minutes.  Just before serving add-

1 12 oz. bag broccoli and carrot slaw
1/2 C raisins

Combine well and serve.