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By learning about basic ingredients and how to use them, you can create simple, quick and delicious meals your family will love!!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

French Dip Sandwiches

After enjoying a Standing Rib Roast for Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve dinner, use the leftover beef to make these delicious French Dip Sandwiches.  A French Dip Sandwich consists of thinly sliced roast beef piled high with a few slices of Swiss cheese and is served on a hoagie style bun (or a sub roll) then cut in half for ease of handling.

Roasted and boneless Prime Rib makes the best "french dip" sandwiches because of the tenderness of the cut, not to mention the flavor. Simply trim the tail off of the leftover prime rib and thinly slice the beef for the sandwiches.

Serve with fries and a cup of au jus to dip the sandwich into (add a few croutons and a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese to the au jus and you have a yummy bowl of French Onion soup to dip into).

Beef Au Jus Dipping Sauce
1 Large Onion, thinly sliced
3 TB Butter
1 tsp White Pepper
1 tsp Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
2 tsp Beef Base (optional)
Trimmings from the Prime Rib Roast
1 can Beef Broth
5 cups Water

In a large pot melt butter over medium-high heat and add the sliced onion. Saute until tender. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer at least 1 hour (90 minutes if possible to produce the best flavor), stirring ocassionally.  Taste test during the last 30 minutes and adjust the salt and pepper as needed.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Irish Beef Stew with Guinness

This stew recipe has such great flavor it will quickly become a favorite.  Using Guinness Stout beer adds a rich flavor to this beef stew and then it's cooked the old fashioned way, low and slow.  At a low temperature of just 275 degrees and cooking the stew for 2 hours, the flavors blend into a creamy beefy gravy that will warm your soul on a cold winter night.   All you need is a loaf of Irish Soda Bread on the side to soak up all of the delicious gravy.

2 TB Olive Oil
3 Bay Leaves
1 1/2 lbs Beef Stew Meat, cut into 1 1/2 inch to 2 inch cubes (with some fat)
1 large Yellow Onion, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch slices
3 cloves Garlic, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 tsp Dried Thyme, whole
3 - 4 Heaping TB All Purpose Flour
1  15 oz can  Beef Stock
1 Guinness Stout Beer
1 TB chopped Parsley (optional)
6  Carrots, peeled and sliced
8  Small Red Potatoes, washed and quartered
Salt and Ground Black Pepper to taste

Heat a 6-quart stove-top and oven-proof pot over medium-high heat and add the oil and bay leaves. Heat the bay leaves for a few moments then add the beef, browning meat on all sides over medium-high heat. Add the sliced onion and cook until tender. Reduce heat to low and add garlic, thyme, and flour, adjusting the flour as needed to evenly coat the beef and onions; stir well until smooth.

Add the beef stock and Guinness; simmer, stirring, until the stew thickens a bit. Add the remaining ingredients, stir and cover.

Place the pot in a 275 F oven for about 2 hours, stirring a couple of times. Season with salt and pepper before serving.   Serves 6.

Monday, December 12, 2011

How Do You Make a Hot Toddy?

Although popular at ski resorts and inns, the hot toddy is not common in most cocktail lounges. This soothing drink, with it's many variations, is best prepared at home. The hot toddy is believed to be of Irish decent, and has been used as a cure for the common cold and is great for a sore throat.

Hot toddy is a name given to a mixed drink that is served hot. The essential elements are as follows:

A spirit base -- such as brandy, rum or whiskey
Hot liquid -- hot tea, coffee, cocoa, water, etc.
Sweetener -- such as honey, sugar or syrup

Other ingredients that are not necessary, though common:

Spices, generally "brown" spices such as cinnamon or cloves
Citrus, such as lemon or orange
A small quantity of butter
Lemonade can also be used instead of hot water and citrus; this is a modern variant

Despite its name, the hot toddy should not be served too hot. Heat the toddy mixture in a saucepan until just before boiling, and let it cool a few moments before pouring into a mug. Following are several versions of this classic drink.

Easy Hot Toddy For One

1 oz Whiskey or Brandy
1 oz Honey
1/2 Lemon Slice Studded with 2 cloves
1 Cinnamon Stick

Combine the brandy, honey, and lemon slice in a mug or punch cup, and add hot water to fill. Stir with a cinnamon stick, if desired.

Hot Toddy with Whiskey and Brown Sugar

1-1/2 pints Cold Water
2 - 4 tsp Brown Sugar
6 - 10 Cloves
Zest of 1 Lemon
2 or more Shots of Whiskey
1 or 2 Whole Lemons

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to just under a boil. Add juice of half or more lemons, strain off cloves if desired, and enjoy.

Hot Apple Ginger Toddy

6 oz Ginger-Infused Apple Cider
Thin slice of fresh Ginger or one piece of crystallized, Candied Ginger
1 tsp Honey
2 oz Bourbon (Maker's Mark or Jim Beam are preferred)
Slice of Lemon

First Step: Ginger-infuse the cider.  Peel and chop the ginger.  Bring apple cider to a boil in a non-aluminum pot.  Add several slices of cut and peeled ginger when cider boils.  Turn heat off and steep for 30 minutes.  Purée this mixture in a blender and strain through cheesecloth.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Second Step: Make your ginger toddy.   Heat your ginger-infused cider, but do not boil.  Add bourbon then stir in honey. Pour into a coffee mug and garnish with lemon and ginger slice (or use crystallized ginger).

Friday, December 2, 2011

Sweet Potato Blondie Bars

My curiosity continues today in finding new ways to cook with Sweet Potatoes.  This began as a way to use up leftover sweet potatoes from Thanksgiving dinner, but now it has become an enjoyable quest to find more ways to use this tasty food in other types of dishes, especially snacks such as these Sweet Potato Blondie Bars.  Remember, sweet potatoes are good for you!  They contain antioxidants, anti-inflammatory nutrients, and they can help regulate your blood sugar, in addition to being a great source of vitamins A and C.

This snack came to be by combining several pumpkin recipes and just substituting the sweet potatoes for the pumpkin on a 1-to-1 basis.  So far the results have been successful and delicious.  Check back for more sweet potato recipes..there are sure to be more in the very near future.  In the meantime, whip up a batch of these Sweet Potato Blondie Bars and enjoy with a cup of tea or hot cocoa. 

2 cups  Flour
1 TB  Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 tsp  Cinnamon
1 tsp  Baking Soda
1 tsp  Salt
2 sticks  Margarine or Butter, softened
1/2 cup  Sugar
3/4 cup  Brown Sugar
1  Large Egg
2 tsp  Vanilla Extract
1 cup  Mashed Sweet Potatoes
1 cup  White Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 9 x 13 inch baking dish and set aside.

Beat together the butter and sugars on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes.  Add the egg and vanilla and blend until combined.  Add the sweet potatoes and blend on low speed until combined, then add the flour, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.  Blend until all of the ingredients are fully combined, then use a spoon to fold in the white chocolate chips.

Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan, smoothing batter into the corners.  Bake until the edges begin to pull away from the sides, about 35-40 minutes.  Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the bars. If the toothpick comes out clean, the bars are fully cooked.

Allow to cool before cutting if possible, although I failed on this step.  I could no longer wait to try one of these bars and they are amazing when served warm...with a cup of cocoa...Yummy!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Turkey Enchilada Casserole

The real name of this dish should be "Aunt Micki's Day-After-Thanksgiving Turkey Enchilada Casserole" named in honor of my sister-in-law who prepares this dish each year for the family.  Thank you Micki for the recipe.  We enjoyed it from many miles away!

This is a delicious way to use up leftover Thanksgiving Turkey.  If you are fortunate enough to be able to find frozen Baca Chilies in your area the flavor is much more intense than using canned.  As another option, a minced medium poblano pepper can be used in place of the Baca chilies.


4 - 5 cups  Shredded Cooked Turkey (or you can use about 8 cooked & shredded chicken thighs)
2 cans  Cream of Chicken Soup (not reduced fat or reduced sodium)
2  Garlic Cloves, minced
1 TB  Canola Oil
1  11 oz Frozen Baca Green Chilies (or use fresh minced poblano or 2 small cans diced chilies)
Canola Oil for Frying
18  Enchilada-Style Corn Tortillas
Shredded Cheddar Cheese or Shredded Mexican Blend Cheese
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large skillet add 1 TB canola oil and the garlic.  Saute 3-4 minutes until garlic begins to brown.  Add the defrosted green chilies (or minced poblano or canned chilies) to the oil and saute 10 minutes.  Add both cans of soup and stir to combine.  Once the mixture is heated thru add the shredded turkey and stir until turkey is warmed.  Add salt and pepper to taste and set aside; keep warm.

In a large skillet heat about 1 cup of canola oil over medium-high heat.  When frying the tortillas, the goal is to make them flexible, so they are easy to work with, but not totally crispy.  A little crisp on the edges is good.  Heat the tortillas about 5 seconds on each side, then place on paper towels to drain.  Blot off any excess oil and place 6 cooked tortillas in the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch cake pan.  This will create the bottom layer.  Continue to cook the remaining tortillas and set aside.

Next, spoon 1/3 of the turkey mixture onto the layer of tortillas, smoothing to the corners.  Add another layer of cooked tortillas, then 1/3 of the turkey mixture and repeat again for a total of 6 layers, finishing with the turkey mixture on top.  Sprinkle with cheese and bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Cut into 6 square portions and serve with Spanish rice and black or refried beans.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sweet Potato Bread

This recipe was so much fun to work with!  I'm still amazed how many different ways there are to use leftover sweet potatoes, and this is the best yet.  When I came across the original recipe, although it contained one of my least favorite ingredients (Crisco), I was determined to find a way to lighten up this bread.  I know Crisco has been around a long time and many cooks swear by it, but the only time I use it is for the occasional batch of Snickerdoodles.  Otherwise, I try to find alternate ingredients that are a little healthier and applesauce is my substitution of choice.  I still kept the Crisco, only using 1/3 of the original amount, and replaced the missing portion with applesauce and apple butter.  Since these do contain sugar, I reduced the sugar by a full cup and the results were outstanding!  The taste of sweet potato, which had almost a pumpkin pie flavor, combined with cinnamon and cloves came together perfectly.

The topping added a nice finishing touch, although I did reduce the portion by half, otherwise it seemed like WAY too much icing.  Just a light drizzle of icing makes this a tasty sweet treat that might just be breakfast in the morning.  Enjoy!

1/3 cup  Crisco Vegetable Shortening
1/3 cup  Apple Butter
1/3 cup  Applesauce (sweetened or unsweetened)
2 cups  Sugar
4  Large Eggs
2 cups  Mashed Sweet Potatoes (leftovers work great here)
3 1/2 cups  Flour
2 tsp  Baking Soda
2 tsp  Baking Powder
1 1/2 tsp  Ground Cinnamon
1 tsp  Salt
1/2 tsp  Ground Cloves
1/2 cup  Milk

For Glaze
1/2 cup  Confectioners Sugar
1/4 cup  Pure Maple Syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare 2 loaf pans by lining with foil; set aside.  ** Using the foil liners makes cleanup easy and also allows the bread to cool faster since you can lift the bread out of the pan using the foil liner.

Using an electric mixer on low speed cream together the shortening, apple butter, applesauce, sugar,  eggs and sweet potatoes.  Blend until smooth.  Add remaining ingredients and blend until combined.

Pour batter into the 2 loaf pans and bake for 65 - 75 minutes.  Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of each loaf.  If toothpick comes out clean the bread is done, otherwise return loaves to the oven and check for doneness in another 10 minutes.  Since my oven is a little wacky sometimes, mine were done just short of 90 minutes.

Cool bread on wire racks for 15 minutes, then lift the foil liners out of the loaf pans, peel back the foil and let loaves cool completely.

Combine the confectioners sugar and maple syrup until creamy and smooth, then drizzle over bread.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

General Tso's Chicken

When I came across this Food and Wine recipe, I knew I had to try it.  This is a great take on the classic Chinese takeout dish.  The flavors are all there, with just a bit of spice, but the dish is lightened up a bit as the chicken has a light cornstarch coating similar to a tempura batter and then is quickly pan-fried instead of deep fried.  Serve this with a side of brown rice and steamed edamame.

If you have never tried edamame, which are young green soybeans, look for them in your grocers frozen vegetable section.  They are now sold in microwave steam bags, with a small bag of kosher salt for seasoning, and they are super easy to make.  Edamame are served as a snack in many Japanese restaurants and are extemely good for you.  Just a 1/2 cup of shelled edamame contain just 120 calories with 9 grams of fiber and 11 gram of protein.  As an extra bonus: Kids love them!

3 tsp  Sesame Oil
2  Large Egg Whites
1/2 cup plus 2 TB  Soy Sauce
1/2 cup plus 6 TB  Cornstarch
2 lbs  Boneless Skinless Chicken cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups  Chicken Broth
2 tsp  Sriarcha Chili Garlic Sauce (use 3 tsp for a spicy version)
6 TB  Sugar
2 TB  Canola Oil, plus more for frying
3 TB  Ginger, minced
3 TB  Garlic, minced
Steamed Brown Rice and Steamed Edamame for Sides

In a medium bowl, combine the sesame oil with the egg whites, 2 TB soy sauce, and 1/2 cup plus 4 TB of cornstarch.  Add the chicken pieces, stirring to coat.  Let stand at room temp for 20 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk the chicken broth with the Sriracha, sugar and remaining 1/2 cup soy sauce and 2 TB cornstarch.

In a large saucepan, heat 2 TB oil, add the ginger and garlic and cook over medium-high heat about 1 minute.  Stir broth mixture, add it to the pan and cook until thickened, about 3-5 minutes.  Keep sauce warm on low heat.

In a large, deep skillet, heat 1/2 inch of oil over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add the chicken pieces one at a time, leaving space between the pieces, and fry chicken until browned and crisp, turning once or twice, a total of about 5 minutes.  Drain the chicken on paper towels, then add the chicken to the pot of sauce.  Stir to coat the chicken and serve over brown rice with a side of steamed edamame.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Baked Banana Cheesecake

Everyone loves pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, but it's also nice to have a little something different for such a special dinner.  This Baked Banana Cheesecake can be made one day ahead and your dessert will be ready for the big day.

This cheesecake has a creamy, intensely flavored filling on an elegant macadamia nut crust. The key to a smooth cheesecake is to make sure the cream cheese is at room temperature before blending. Cold cream cheese will result in a lumpy batter. Baking the bananas brings out a deep flavor of caramelized sweetness. Be sure to include the liquid from the baked bananas in the cheesecake batter.  Enjoy!


1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) Vanilla Wafers, finely crushed
1/2 cup Macadamia Nuts, finely chopped
1/2 cup packed Brown Sugar
1/3 cup Unsalted Butter, melted


3 ripe Bananas, unpeeled
3 8-ounce packages Cream Cheese, softened
3/4 cup Sugar
5 Large Eggs
1 TB Dark Rum
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 400 and set oven rack at the lower-middle level. Have ready a 10-inch springform pan.

Baking the Bananas: Place the unpeeled bananas on a baking sheet and roast until they turn black all over, about 12 - 15 minutes. Remove from the sheet and set aside to cool. Reduce oven temperature to 350.

Assemble the Crust: Combine cookie crumbs, macadamia nuts and brown sugar in a food processor. Pulse a few times until mixture is finely ground. Pour crumb mixture into springform pan. Pour melted butter into center of crumbs and blend well with a fork, pressing the mixture evenly into the bottom of the entire pan.

Prepare Filling: With an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl, scraping down the sides a few times. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Break the cooled baked bananas into pieces and add them to the bowl making sure to include the juice from the bananas. Add the rum and vanilla and beat until smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared crust, smooth the top and place the pan on a baking sheet. Bake for about 1 hour or until the cheesecake is a light golden brown and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Cool the cheesecake to room temperature on a wire rack, then cover and chill overnight before serving. Serve with a scoop of whipped topping and chocolate shavings, if desired.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Orange & Brandy Sweet Potatoes

This is a great recipe from Emeril that is as beautiful to serve as it is tasty.  The potatoes are very easy to prepare and the orange shells add some Thanksgiving color to your dinner plates and makes the potatoes easy to serve.

3 pounds Sweet Potatoes, about 6-7 large 
4 Large Oranges
Cinnamon/Sugar Mix (3 TB Sugar mixed with 1 tsp Cinnamon)
1 stick Unsalted Butter
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
3 Eggs
3/4 cup Orange Juice
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
1/4 cup Brandy
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Ground Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Salt

Preheat oven to 400. Place potatoes on a baking sheet and bake about 1 hour until tender. Remove from oven and let rest until cool enough to handle. 

Reduce oven temp to 350. Cut oranges in half and scoop out the pulp, to make a serving "cup". Sprinkle the orange shells with a dusting of cinnamon and sugar and set aside.

Peel the potatoes and put into a large bowl. Discard the skins and any tough, stringy fibers. Add the butter, and with an electric mixer, beat out the lumps. Add the sugar, eggs, orange juice, heavy cream, and brandy, and mix until smooth. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, and mix well. Re-season to taste.

Spoon the sweet potato mixture into the orange cups, mounding and smoothing the top. Bake until puffed and slightly golden, about 20 minutes.  Makes 8 servings       

Friday, November 11, 2011

Hearty Turkey Noodle Soup

This is a great way to use up leftover Thanksgiving turkey or chicken.  With a generous amount of veggies to make it a healthy and satisfying meal, this soup can be on the table in about 30 minutes. Serve with a loaf of warm French bread.

1 TB Olive Oil
2 Cloves Garlic, thinly sliced 
1 Yellow Onion, chopped
2 Carrots, sliced into coins
2 tsp Chopped Thyme
4 cups Chicken Broth (or Turkey Stock if you have it)
2 cups Baby Spinach
2 cups Cubed or Shredded Turkey or Chicken
1 1/2 cups Uncooked Wide Egg Noodles
1 (15-oz) can Cannellini Beans, drained
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add garlic, onions and carrots and cook for 8 - 10 minutes. Add thyme and stir to blend. Add broth, spinach, turkey, noodles, beans, and salt and pepper and stir well. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer about 15 minutes, or until noodles are tender. Ladle into bowls and serve.  Serves 4

**Note: If you do not have leftover turkey or chicken on hand, and still want to enjoy this comforting soup, use a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sweet Potato Cookies

Now this is a great way to use up leftover sweet potatoes!  Today we have for you Sweet Potato Cookies that get just a bit of sweetness from white chocolate chips and dried cranberries.  You will have to forgive me for the picture, these cookies literally disappeared from the tray and the only two left were going into my daughters lunchbox!  So that's the picture we have, at least until I make another batch of these...which will have to be soon.

My favorite thing about these cookies was how easy they were to make.  I'm a bit of a short-cut baker; I don't usually "bake" but when I do get the urge to bake cookies, I like recipes that I can whip up pretty quickly.  Add the wet ingredients, blend, add the dry ingredients all at once, blend, done! Now that's how easy cookies should be to make!  Bake up a batch of these cookies to snack on after you finish your holiday shopping, add a mug of tea or hot chocolate and enjoy!

1 Stick Unsalted Butter, softened
1/2 cup  Light Brown Sugar
1/4 cup  Sugar
2 TB  Honey
1 tsp  Vanilla
1  Egg
1 cup  Mashed Sweet Potatoes
1 1/4 cups  Flour
1 tsp  Baking Powder
1/2 tsp  Baking Soda
1/2 tsp  Salt
1/2 tsp  Cinnamon
1/8 tsp  Ground Ginger
1/8 tsp  Ground Nutmeg
1/2 cup  White Chocolate Chips
1/3 cup  Dried Cranberries (Craisins)

Preheat over to 350.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, blend the butter, sugar, brown sugar, and honey until smooth.  Add the egg, vanilla and the sweet potatoes and blend until smooth.

Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and all of the dry spices.  Blend until fully combined, then add the chocolate chips and cranberries and finish mixing by hand.

Drop rounded spoonfuls of dough onto cookie sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake about 9 - 12 minutes, turning cookie sheets halfway thru cooking if needed.  Let cool 1 minute on cookie sheets, then move to wire racks to finish cooling.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sweet Potato and Oatmeal Muffins

Yesterday we brought you a recipe for Mashed Sweet Potatoes and, if you have a little leftover sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving, save them for this yummy treat. The cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves give these muffins somewhat of a pumpkin pie flavor and the sweet potatoes make them ultra moist.

These muffins make a great breakfast and, with the crunchy-crumbly topping, your kids won't even realize they are eating something that is good for them.

1 cup  Old Fashioned Oatmeal
1 cup  Flour
1 tsp  Baking Powder
1/2 tsp  Baking Soda
1 tsp  Cinnamon
1/2 tsp  Nutmeg
1/2 tsp  Salt
1/8 tsp  Cloves
1 cup  Mashed Sweet Potatoes
3/4 cup  Light Brown Sugar
1/3 cup  Canola Oil
1/4 cup  Milk
1  Large Egg
1 tsp  Vanilla

Crumble Topping

1/4 cup  Old Fashioned Oatmeal
1/4 cup  Flour
1/4 cup  Light Brown Sugar
2 TB  Margarine, melted
1 tsp  Vanilla

Preheat oven to 400.  Lightly grease muffin tins, about 15, and set aside.

In a small bowl, prepare the crumble topping.  Stir until fully combined and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine sweet potatoes, brown sugar, oil, milk, egg and vanilla;  stir well to combine.  Next add all of the dry ingredients and stir until moistened.  Fill muffin tins 3/4 full and sprinkle with crumble topping.  Bake 15 - 20 minutes.  Makes about 15 muffins.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Butternut Squash Soup

For day #30 of Soup Month we bring you an elegant Butternut Squash Soup that is so beautiful it will be the highlight of your next holiday dinner.  It's always amazing to me how just a few simple ingredients can blend together so well that they create a soup this tasty.  I know a lot of people are hesitant to cook with a butternut squash because they look so intimidating. But fear not, you don't need any special training to cut up a squash, just a good knife, and be careful.

1  Large Whole Butternut Squash (about 2 1/2 lbs)
1  Large Onion, peeled and sliced
2  Apples, cored, peeled and sliced
Olive Oil
4 cups  Low Sodium Chicken Broth
2 TB  Cream  or  Half and Half
Garnishes of Your Choice ** See below

Preheat oven to 375.  Rinse off the outside of the butternut squash and dry with a paper towel.  Carefully cut off the ends of the squash and cut the squash into large chunks, removing the seeds.  Do not peel.

Place the pieces of squash, onions and apples on a large rimmed cookie sheet.  Drizzle vegetables with olive oil and roast about 45 minutes, turning occasionally, until the squash is soft.  Set aside to cool.

Using a small paring knife, remove the skin from the squash.  Transfer the vegetables to a large stockpot.  Using a handheld blender, blend the vegetables until smooth. (You can also use a food processor for this step, just process the vegetables, in batches if needed, and return the puree to the pot.)

Add 2 cups of broth to the puree and heat mixture slowly over medium-low heat.  Keep adding a little bit of broth until you reach the desired consistency.  (You might not need all of the broth depending on the size of the squash used.)  When the soup is hot, slowly stir in the cream.

** Serve with a colorful seasonal garnish.  Chopped pimentos or red pepper bits with a few springs of fresh dill makes a beautiful display for Christmas. You could also use other fresh herbs such as a sage leaf with a spoonful of creme fraiche swirled into the center for a buttery-velvety texture.  Add a couple of Roasted Pumpkin Seeds for added crunch and you have a beautiful bowl of soup.
 Serves 6-8.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Thai Pumpkin Soup

For day #29 of Soup Month, we have a very easy to prepare pumpkin soup, using just 4 ingredients.  The soup contains just a bit of thai seasoning for a perfect blend of sweet and spicy.  To add a tasty garnish, prepare a batch of Roasted Pumpkin Seeds in advance.

1 14 oz can Coconut Milk
2 tsp Thai Red Curry Paste (more or less to taste)
1 cup Pumpkin Puree
1 tsp Fish Sauce

Heat the thick coconut milk from the top of the can and the red curry paste and bring to a simmer for about three minutes, stirring constantly.

Add the remaining coconut milk, pumpkin puree and fish sauce and bring to a boil, stirring gently to blend. Taste and adjust thai curry seasoning, adding a bit more if needed. Garnish with a few roasted pumpkin seeds and serve.   Makes 2 generous bowls of soup.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Clam Chowder

For day #28 of Soup Month we have a simple Clam Chowder recipe.  Although the recipe does call for half and half, the milk helps keep the calories in check without losing that creamy clam chowder texture.  If you like extra clams, you can easily add a third can.

1 cup Onion, diced
3 Large Potatoes, peeled (optional) and finely chopped
1 Bottle Clam Juice
2 cups  Water (or enough to cover potatoes)
1/2 cup  Butter
1/2 cup  Flour
2 cups  Half and Half
2 cups  1% Milk
2 6 oz cans Chopped Clams
1 cup  White Wine
1 tsp  Salt
1 tsp  Pepper

In a large soup pot combine onion, potatoes, clam juice and water.  Simmer potatoes for about 10 minutes or until they just begin to soften.  Drain potatoes, reserving liquid, and set potatoes aside.

Return the pan to the stove.  Melt butter over medium heat, then add flour and stir until fully combined (this makes a roux as your base).  Slowly add the half and half, adding just a small amount at a time, stirring constantly. Next add the milk, clams and white wine, again stirring to a smooth consistency, and cook about 10 minutes until soup begins to thicken. 

Lastly add the potatoes back to the pot and season the chowder with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook an additional 5 minutes then serve with optional toppings of grated cheese, green onions, crumbled cooked bacon, or a dash of hot sauce.  Enjoy!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tomato and Basil Crab Bisque

For day #27 of Soup Month we have a quick and easy seafood soup, Tomato and Basil Crab Bisque.  This is a versatile soup that can be adjusted to use the ingredients you have on hand.  If you have precooked shrimp in the freezer, use that in place of the crab, or you could substitute 2 pre-cooked chicken breasts. 

1 TB  Butter
1/2 cup  Onion, chopped
1/8 tsp  Saffron Threads, crushed (just a small pinch adds so much flavor & color, but this is optional)
1 8 oz can  Tomato Sauce with Roasted Garlic
1 cup  Half and Half
1 cup  Coarsely Chopped Cooked Crab Meat (or substitute cooked Shrimp)
1/2 cup  Chicken Broth
1/8 tsp  Old Bay Seasoning
1/4 tsp  Salt
1/8 tsp  Black Pepper
1/4 cup  Fresh Basil Leaves

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add onion and cook 3 minutes or until tender, stirring often.  Stir in the saffron threads and heat 1 minute, blending the saffron into the butter.

Add tomato sauce, half-and-half, crab, broth, Old Bay, salt and pepper.  Bring just to a boil, and reduce heat to low.  Cover tightly and simmer 5 minutes.  Stir in basil just before serving.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hearty Cuban Black Bean Soup

For day # 26 of Soup Month we bring you a Miami version of Cuban Black Bean Soup.  When cooking with black beans, or beans of any kind, you have to plan ahead.  Some recipes will require that you soak the beans overnight but for this recipe, we skip the soaking method and instead cook the beans in chicken stock so the flavor is cooked into the beans for optimal flavor.  This soup is worth the extra effort!

1 lb  Black Beans, rinsed
4 cups  Chicken Stock
4 cups  Water
2  Bay Leaves
1 TB  Cumin
1 TB  Oregano
1  Large Sweet Red Pepper, cut in half  (leave 1 side whole, the other portion finely chop)
2 tsp  Olive Oil
1  Large Yellow Onion, chopped
1  Large Green Pepper, finely chopped
4-6  Garlic Cloves, minced
1/4 cup  Sugar
1/4 cup  Red Wine
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Chopped Fresh Cilantro for Garnish

Pour rinsed beans into a large soup pot with chicken stock and water.  Add bay leaves, cumin, oregano and the whole piece of red pepper.  Cook over high heat and bring to a boil for about 3 minutes.  Cover and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until beans are tender.

Remove the red pepper and discard.  In a small skillet saute the onion, green pepper, and the chopped red pepper in olive oil, until the vegetables are softened.  Transfer the mixture to a blender and puree until smooth, then add the puree to the black beans.  (**Note:  As an option you can add a few scoops of the black beans to the mixture and then puree it.  I liked the consistency of having some of the beans whole and some pureed.)

Using the same skillet, saute the garlic until fragrant, the add the garlic to the beans.  Add sugar, red wine and salt and pepper to taste.  Continue cooking over medium heat until the soup is very thick, about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Serve in large flat soup bowls and add a sprinkle of cilantro as a garnish before serving, if desired.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Hot and Sour Soup

For day #25 of Soup Month, this version of the classic Oriental Hot and Sour Soup turned out very well.  I did have to improvise on some of the ingredients as locally it is impossible to find black mushrooms or black chinese vinegar!  The substitutions worked great and the soup had that familiar hot-sour-spicy flavor that I just love.  We enjoyed this soup with crispy, crunchy homemade Egg Rolls.

10 oz  Portabello Mushrooms, quartered
1 can  Bamboo Shoots
4 TB  Rice Vinegar
2 TB  Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 cup  Soy Sauce
1 1/2 tsp Salt
1 1/2 tsp Sugar
4 TB  Cornstarch
4 TB  Water
2 TB  Peanut Oil
12 oz  Pork Loin, cut into thin strips
5 cups  Chicken Stock
1 package  Extra Firm Tofu, cut into small pieces
3  Eggs, slightly beaten
1 tsp  White Pepper
1 tsp  Black Pepper
1 1/2 tsp  Sesame Oil
1 to 2 TB  Sriracha Sauce (more or less, to taste)

Mix the vinegars, soy sauce, salt and sugar in a small bowl and set aside.

Mix the cornstarch and water in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat.  Add the mushrooms and brown for 2 minutes.  Next add the pork and saute, turning frequently, about 4 minutes or until the meat is nearly cooked through.

Add the bamboo shoots and the broth and stir to combine. Add the tofu and stir, heating 2-3 minutes until the broth comes to a boil.

Next add the vinegar mixture and the cornstarch mixture and stir until soup thickens.  Turn heat to low-medium. 

While stirring the soup very gently, pour in the eggs in a thin stream. When the eggs are in the soup let the eggs rest and cook on top of the soup about 1 minute.  When the eggs are set, stir in the white and black peppers, sesame oil and the Sriracha.  Serve garnished with green onions.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Creamy Chicken Soup

For day #23 of Soup Month we have a Creamy Chicken Soup with sauteed carrots.  This is a twist on the soup from the red and white can and is so much more flavorful and contains a lot less sodium.  For a more hearty meal, try this soup served over toast that has been cut into squares.  Your kids will love this soup and ask for more!

2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut in half lengthwise
1/2 cup  College Inn White Wine and Herb Broth
1/4 small Onion, chopped
3 TB  Butter
2  Carrots, peeled and diced
1  Bay Leaf
1/2 tsp  Onion Powder
1/4 cup + 1 TB  Flour
2 cups  Chicken Broth
2 cups  Milk

In a medium skillet, place chicken breasts, broth and onions, and poach chicken over medium heat, about 6 minutes each side or until juices run clear and broth is nearly evaporated.

Remove chicken and place on a cutting board to cool; discard the onions in the skillet.  When cool, dice the chicken and set aside.

In a medium soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the carrots, and saute 3 minuts until carrots begin to soften.  Add the bay leaf and onion powder, stir and continue to saute an additional 5 minutes, until the carrots are just a bit browned.

Add the flour, stirring to blend the butter and flour completely.  Over medium heat, whisk in the broth and milk.  Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often, until the soup thickens and begins to simmer, about 20 minutes.

Add the diced chicken, stirring to combine and cook 5 minutes.  Remove the bay leaf and reduce heat to low.  (If the soup need to be a bit thicker, combine 2 TB flour with and 1/2 cup of the soup broth in a small bowl.  Use a spoon to smooth the mixture and add just a teaspoon at a time to the soup, stirring until each spoonful is blended into the soup.)

**Time Saver Note:  If you have extra chicken on hand this is a great way to use up leftovers.  Just dice the chicken and skip the poaching step of the recipe.  When cooking the carrots add 1/4 teaspoon thyme to the butter and continue with the recipe.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Kielbasa and Rice Soup

For day # 21 of Soup Month we have a peppery-garlicky Polish Kielbasa and Rice Soup.  For the best results be sure to buy a good brand of Polish Kielbasa for this recipe.  If you have a local meat market call and ask if they make their own Kielbasa.  The smoky flavor of a good Kielbasa is amazing and brings all of the ingredients together for this soup.

7-3/4  cups  Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1 cup  Long Grain White Rice, Jasmati works great
1 TB  Vegetable Oil
1 lb  Polish Kielbasa, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
1  Onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
2 cloves  Garlic, minced
1/2 medium  Cabbage, cored and finely shredded
Kosher Salt and Ground Black Pepper

In a medium saucepan combine 1 3/4 cups of chicken broth with the rice and bring to a simmer.  Cover and cook over low heat for 18 minutes, or until rice is tender.

Meanwhile, in a soup pot, heat the oil.  Add the kielbasa and cook over medium-high heat until browned, about 4-5 minutes.  Add the onion, garlic and cabbage and cook until softened, about 6 minutes.  Add the remaining 6 cups of chicken broth and bring to a simmer.  Cook over low heat until the cabbage is tender, about 10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper, stir in the rice and serve. 
Serve with crusty french bread.  Makes about 4 - 6 servings.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Creamy Broccoli Soup

For day #20 of Soup Month we bring you a Creamy Broccoli Soup.  This is a great soup to make after the holidays to use up leftover mashed potatoes and ham.  This is a very versatile soup as well. You could change the vegetable to asparagus instead of the broccoli, you could stir cheese directly into the soup for a more cheesy flavor or add a can of diced green chilies with the onion for a little more southwestern flavor.  Either way, this is a recipe for a fast and healthy dinner that's easy on the budget!

1 tsp Olive Oil
1 lb.  Ham, cubed into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 Small Onion, minced
1 pkg  Steamfresh Broccoli Florets
1 cup Milk
1 1/2 cups  Chicken Broth
2  to 2 1/2 cups  Mashed Potatoes (leftovers work great)
1/4 tsp  Black Pepper
1/2 tsp  Salt
1/8 tsp  White Pepper
1/4 cup  Milk or Cream (optional)
2 TB  Cornstarch (optional)
Shredded Cheese for Garnish

In a medium soup pot heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add ham and onion and saute until onions are softened, about 5 minutes.  While this is cooking, cook the broccoli in the microwave and set aside.

Add milk and chicken broth and broccoli to the pot, then slowly spoon the potatoes into the soup.  Adjust the amount of potatoes depending on the desired soup thickness;  2 cups works great for a soup consistency and 2 1/2 cups of potatoes will result in more of a chowder.  Add the black pepper, salt and white pepper and stir.
** Optional: If you still want the soup a bit thicker, combine the milk or cream and the cornstarch in a small bowl and slowly stir mixture into the soup, stirring constantly.

Heat soup for 5 minutes, stirring to check the thickness.  Serve in soup bowls with a sprinkle of grated cheddar cheese.  Serves about 6.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

White Chicken Chili

For day #19 of Soup Month we bring you a yummy chicken chili with white beans.  This is my favorite kind of recipe since it's a great way to use leftover chicken or turkey.  If you make a roasted chicken for dinner, this soup is an easy choice for the following night.  If you want to save even more time, look for white beans in a jar, but simmering the beans in the chicken broth, garlic and onions will infuse them with a wonderful flavor that is worth the wait.

White beans, also called cannellini beans, are loaded with good things.  Just a 1/2 cup of beans are packed with 7 grams of protein, about 6 grams of fiber and only 110 calories.

1 lb  White Cannellini Beans, soaked overnight in water, drained
6 cups  Chicken Broth
3  Garlic Cloves, minced
2 medium  Onions, chopped (divided)
1 TB  Olive Oil
1 - 2  Serrano Pepper, minced
1 4-oz cans Chopped Green Chilies
2 tsp  Ground Cumin
1 1/2 tsp  Dried Oregano
1/4 tsp  Ground Cloves
1/4 tsp  Cayenne Pepper
4 cups  Diced Cooked Chicken (can also sub leftover turkey, great for after Thanksgiving)
3 cups  Grated Monterey Jack cheese

Combine beans, chicken broth, garlic and half of the chopped onions in a large soup pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until beans are tender, about 3 hours. Add additional water to the pot, if needed. 

In a skillet, sauté remaining onions and serrano pepper in olive oil until slightly tender. Add chilies and seasonings and mix thoroughly. Add this mixture to the soup pot and stir. Next, add chicken, cover and continue to simmer over low heat for about 1 hour. Check seasoning, and adjust as needed.

Serve topped with grated cheese. Garnish with chopped fresh tomato, salsa, chopped scallions, and/or guacamole. Serve with fresh warmed flour tortillas or tortilla chips.  Makes 8 generous servings.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Creamy Mushroom Soup

This is a really elegant soup for day #17 of Soup Month and the earthy flavors would be a great start to a holiday meal.  Look for assorted mushrooms in your local market to see what is available.  If you can find chanterelle mushrooms they are delicious in this soup.

1 TB  Olive Oil
1 large Onion, finely diced
2  Garlic Cloves, chopped
1 oz  Dried Porcini Mushrooms, reconstituted in 2 cups water
2 1/2 lbs  Assorted Fresh Mushrooms, chopped (crimini, shiitake or chanterelle if you can find them)
2 medium Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and diced
2 TB  Cognac
32 oz  Chicken or Vegetable Stock
3 cups  Milk
1 TB  Unsalted Butter
Salt and Pepper to Taste

In a large soup pot over medium heat, add olive oil, onion and garlic.  Saute 3-5 minutes until golden.

Drain porcini mushrooms and chop.  Pour water thru a coffee filter to remove and small pieces and set aside.

Increase heat to high and add porcinis and the fresh mushrooms.  Cook about 5 minutes or until mushrooms are softened and golden.  Add potatoes, reserved porcini liquid and cognac.  Cook 1-2 minutes longer.

Add the broth to the pot and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Cook about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.  Remove from heat.  Add milk and puree soup until smooth. (You can use an immersion blender for this step or carefullt puree soup in a blender, but be very careful not to overfill the blender.)

**Note:  To top off this soup you can garnish with finely chopped chives or saute about 1 cup of mushrooms in unsalted butter for a few minutes and gently place 2 or 3 mushrooms on top of each serving of soup.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Red Snapper and Shrimp Soup

For day #16 of Soup Month we bring together two of my favorite foods, Gulf Red Snapper and Shrimp.  I wanted to create a light soup that would complement each ingredient without masking the flavors but to do that I would need a flavorful clear base for the soup.  I'm not a fan of tomatoes with seafood; for some reason tomatoes with fish or shrimp just doesn't seem to work for me.  This brought me back to my favorite standby, White Wine and Herb Broth.  With the addition of a healthy portion of garlic and a pinch of saffron, this soup delivered a flavorful, light and elegant taste.  Even better, it was very quick to prepare.  We added some baked clam shells as a side but the soup would also be delicious spooned over Jasmine Rice.  Enjoy!

2 - 3 tsp  Minced Garlic
1 medium  Red Bell Pepper, finely diced
1 small  Onion, finely diced
3 cups College Inn White Wine and Herb Broth
1/2 tsp  Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1/8 tsp  Saffron Threads, crushed
1 lb  Red Snapper, cut into 2-inch chunks (can also use cod or halibut or any solid fish)
1 lb  Medium Shrimp (31-40 size), shelled and deveined
1 tsp  Salt
1/2 tsp  Black Pepper
Cooked Jasmine Rice (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan.  Add the garlic, pepper and onion, cover and cook over medium heat until softened, about 8 minutes.

Add the broth, red pepper and saffron, cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the fish and shrimp, cover and simmer just until cooked through, about 5-7 minutes.  Serve in soup bowls alsone or spoon over a serving of jasmine rice.  Serves about 6.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Pasta, Sausage and Bean Soup

For day #15 of Soup Month we bring you a classic, hearty sausage and bean soup that can be ready to eat in less than an hour.  This is a great soup for a cold winter night when you just can't get warm.  The fire-roasted tomatoes add a bit of smoky flavor and compliments the sausage really well.  Serve with a loaf of crusty French bread and you've got a filling and nutritious dinner.

2 TB  Olive Oil
1 pound Bulk Italian Sausage
1 1/2 cups  Chopped Onion
1 1/2 cups  Diced Carrots
1  Stalk Celery, with leaves, chopped
1 TB  Chopped Garlic
1 tsp  Dried Basil
1 tsp  Dried Rosemary
1/4 tsp  Dried Crushed Red Pepper
1/4 tsp  Dried Sage
5 cups   Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
1 15 oz can  Fire-Roasted Diced Tomatoes with Garlic, undrained
1 15 oz can  Kidney Beans, drained
1 cup  Dry Macaroni, try either macaroni, fusilli or even tortellini shells
Shaved Parmesan Cheese for Garnish

Heat oil in heavy large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add sausage and sauté about 5 minutes until browned, and breaking up the sausage into smaller pieces.

Add onions, carrots, celery, garlic, basil, rosemary, crushed red pepper and sage. Sauté until vegetables begin to soften, about 10 minutes.

Add broth, tomatoes with their juices and beans. Bring soup to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender and flavors blend, about 20 minutes.

Add macaroni to soup and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and top with Parmesan cheese on top.  Serves about 8.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

For day #14 of Soup Month we made this delicious Chicken and Sausage Gumbo.  The Andouille sausage brings a deep blend of spices to this dish and blends great with the chicken thighs.  While the Heineken beer was quite tasty, a dark Bock beer would bring an even deeper flavor and I will probably try that the next time we cook this dish.  Everyone gave this a thumbs up so we will be making it again soon.  The photo does not do this dish justice and we will be adding a new photo on the next try!

1/3 cup + 1 TB  Flour
1/4 cup  Canola Oil
2 TB  Unsalted Butter
4 cups  Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1 bottle (12 oz)  Beer (we used Heineken but a dark beer would be even better)
8 - 10  Skinless Chicken Thighs
1 tsp  Salt, divided
1 tsp  Garlic Powder
1 tsp  Ground Red Pepper, divided
1/2 pound Andouille Sausage, cut into thin slices
1 large  Onion, chopped
1/2  Red Pepper, chopped
1/2  Green Pepper, chopped
2 stalks  Celery, chopped
2 cloves  Garlic, minced
2  Bay Leaves
1/2 tsp  Fresh Ground Black Pepper
3 cups  Hot Cooked Rice (Jasmati worked great, brown rice would be very good also)

Combine flour, oil and butter in a large soup pot.  Cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, about 10-15 minutes until the mixture just begins to brown.

Meanwhile, bring broth and beer to a simmer in a medium saucepan.  Keep warm over low heat.  Season the chicken thighs with 1/2 tsp salt, garlic powder and 1/2 tsp ground red pepper.

Add chicken to the soup pot and brown until both sides are seared golden brown, but not cooked thru.  Add the sausage, onion, peppers, celery, garlic, bay leaves, black pepper and remaining salt and red pepper to the soup pot.  Stir well.  Slowly add the hot broth and beer mixture to the soup pot, stirring constantly to prevent any lumps.  Bring soup to a simmer, cover and continue to cook at a low simmer for about 90 minutes.

Remove and discard bay leaves.  Place a scoop of rice into each of 6 bowls and top with the soup mixture and 1 or 2 of the chicken thighs.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Beef Stew with Red Wine

For day #13 of Soup Month, we have a Beef Stew served inside a circle of creamy mashed potatoes.  Instead of including the potatoes in the stew, where the potatoes sometimes tend to get a little mushy, we decided to serve them mashed and the results were yummy.  It was a nice twist to a classic dish.

1  2-lb  Boneless Beef Chuck Roast, trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces
3 TB  Flour
1 tsp  Kosher Salt
1 tsp  Paprika
1/2 tsp  Black Pepper
2 TB  Canola Oil
3/4 cup  Red Wine  (a Cabernet works great)
24 oz  Beef Stock
1/2 tsp  Dried Thyme
1  Bay Leaf
1/2 tsp  Kosher Salt
4 oz  Mushrooms  (about 6-8 mushrooms, halved, portobello mushrooms are delicious in this dish)
6  Carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
1 TB  Flour
1/4 tsp  Salt
Prepared Mashed Potatoes

To prepare beef:  Use a paper towel to pat the meat dry.  In a small bowl, combine 3 TB flour, salt, paprika and pepper.  Toss beef with flour mixture to evenly coat.

In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, cook beef in batches in oil over medium-high heat, stirring often 4-6 minutes or until browned.  Remove meat to a plate.  To the soup pot add wine, sitrring to loosen any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Return beef to pan;  add beef broth, thyme, bay leaf, and 1/2 tsp salt.  Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low.  Cook 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

After cooking for the hour, add halved mushrooms and carrots to stew, cover and cook 60 - 90 minutes longer until the meat is fork tender.  (Cooking for the 90 minutes will get the most tender results.)

Whisk together 1 TB flour and 1/4 tsp salt then add 1 cup of hot broth to the flour mixture.  Whisk until completely smooth, then blend mixture into the stew.  Cook stew 20 minutes longer, stirring often, until stew is thickened. 

Place a scoop of mashed potatoes in the center of a soup bowl and make a hole in the center of the potatoes.  Add a generous scoop of stew to the center of the potatoes and serve.  Serves 6-8.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Chicken Noodle Soup

For day #12 of Soup Month we bring you a family classic, Old Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup.  It's always been said that Chicken Noodle Soup can cure the common cold and for some reason it really does work. Although the broth for this soup is delicious, if you prefer a thicker broth adding the can of soup creates a creamy texture. 

4 -5  Chicken Quarters, skin removed
8 cups  Water (enough to cover chicken)
2 stalks  Celery, cut into 3 pieces
1 small  Onion, cut in half
2 tsp  Salt
2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
2 cups  Frozen Mixed Peas and Carrots
1 bag  No Yolks Wide Egg Noodles
3 TB  Cornstarch
1/4 cup  Water
1 can  Low-Sodium Campbells Cream of Celery Soup (optional)

Place the chicken quarters into a large soup pot with the water, celery, onion and salt and pepper, and turn heat to high.  Bring water to a boil, reduce heat to medium-high and boil about 30-40 minutes or until chicken is cooked thru.

Remove chicken quarters from pot and allow to cool.  Use a slotted spoon to remove the celery stalks and onion from the pot and discard.  When chicken is cool, remove meat from the bones, place meat back into the broth and discard bones.

Bring broth with chicken back to a simmer over medium heat.  Add the frozen veggies and noodles and stir.  Cook 10 minutes or until noodles are tender.  In a small bowl, combine cornstarch with water and slowly stir into soup to thicken the broth. 

**Optional:  For a thicker broth, add 1 can of Campbells Low-Sodium Cream of Celery soup.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Italian Chicken Pasta Soup

On to day #11 of Soup Month with a zesty Italian Chicken and Pasta soup.  Lots of veggies make this soup filling and delicious on a cool fall night.  The original recipe called for heavy cream, which is pretty calorie dense at 821 calories per cup and 88 grams of fat, but half and half worked to give the soup just a bit of creaminess without being too heavy, weighing in at 315 calories per cup and 27 grams of fat.  This soup is wonderful for leftovers and the recipe makes about 8 servings.

1 box Ditalini Pasta
1 TB  Olive Oil
1 whole Cut Up Chicken
8 cups  Low Sodium Chicken Broth
2 TB Olive Oil
1 Medium Onion, Diced
2 whole Green Bell Peppers, Diced
2 stalks Celery, Diced
2 whole Fresh Jalapenos, Diced
28-oz can Diced Tomatoes
2 cups Half and Half
2 TB  Dried Oregano
Salt And Black Pepper, To Taste
Parmesan Cheese Shavings for garnish

Cook pasta in a pot according to package directions, being sure not to overcook it. Drain and rinse in cold water to cool. Toss in 1 tablespoon olive oil and set aside.

Place chicken in a large pot or dutch oven and cover in chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer chicken, covered, for 30 minutes. Turn off heat and leave covered for 30 minutes. Remove chicken from pot and shred meat. Discard bones and set meat aside.

In a large soup pot heat 2 tablespoon olive oil and oregano over medium heat. Add onion, green pepper, celery, and jalapenos and heat until veggies are tender and golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Add chicken broth, shredded chicken, and tomatoes with their juice. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add cooked pasta and cream (or half and half), stir to combine and remove pot from heat.

Serve with lots of Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top and a loaf of Crusty Italian bread.  Enjoy!!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Green Chili Pork Soup

Green chilies and pork combined with lots of colorful veggies make a great soup for day #9 of Soup Month.  This soup can easily be thickened at the end if you would like the consistency a little thicker.  Serve with warm tortillas or crunchy garlic breadsticks for a yummy dinner.

1 1/4 pounds Lean Pork Tenderloin, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 TB  Canola Oil
4 cups  Low Sodium Chicken Broth
2 cups  Frozen Corn
2 ribs  Celery, diced
1/2  Red Pepper, diced
1/2  Green Pepper, diced
1/2  Yellow Onion, diced
4 - 5 medium Red Potatoes, cubed
1 can  Rotel Tomatoes with Green Chilies
2 cans  Diced Green Chilies
1 1/2 tsp  Ground Cumin
2 tsp  Garlic Powder
1 tsp  Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1/2 tsp  Chipotle Powder
1 tsp  Kosher Salt (optional)

In a large soup pot, over medium-high heat, brown the pieces of pork in oil.  When the meat is seared on the outside, but not completely cooked thru, add the corn, celery, onion, peppers and potatoes and stir.  Continue to saute the mixture for 5 minutes.

Add the cumin, garlic powder, pepper, chipotle powder and salt, stir to combine, then add the chicken broth.  Bring soup to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer.  Continue to simmer the soup for 45 minutes, until meat and potatoes are tender.

** Note:  For a thicker consistency, combine 1/2 cup chicken broth or water with 3 TB flour in a small cup.  Stir mixture into the soup, stirring constantly, until thickened.  Serves about 6 - 8.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Golden Potato Corn Chowder

Mmm..This was a really tasty soup using one of my favorite new ingredients, the College Inn White Wine & Herb Broth.  I have been finding so many ways to use this delicious broth and there are more recipes on the way.  For day #8 of Soup Month we created this hearty soup using basic ingredients you probably already have in your pantry.  The Yukon Gold potatoes give this soup a beautiful color and texture and by mashing a portion of them, they provide that creamy "chowder" effect.

1/2 lb  Thick Cut Smoked Bacon, diced and divided in half
1 lb Smoked Ham, cubed into 1/2-inch pieces
1 small Onion, diced
6-7  medium Yukon Gold Potatoes, scrubbed, peeled and cubed
2 cups Frozen Corn
1  32-oz container  College Inn White Wine & Herb Broth
1/2 tsp  Black Pepper
1 tsp  Salt
1/3 cup  Half and Half or Milk

In a large soup pot, saute 1/2 of the bacon until just crispy.  Add the ham, onion and potatoes, stir and saute for 5 minutes or until onions are softened and the potatoes are browned just a bit on the edges.

Add the corn, broth and salt and pepper.  Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat slightly, and continue on a low boil for about 12 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender.

While the soup is cooking, brown the remaining portion of bacon in a skillet until crispy.  Let bacon drain on a paper towel and keep warm.

When the potatoes are tender, remove about 1 cup of potatoes to a bowl, add the milk and mash lightly.  Return the potatoes to the soup and stir. The mashed potatoes will thicken the soup nicely.  Serve in soup bowls with a sprinkle of bacon.  Enjoy!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Smoky Shrimp and Chorizo Soup

The best thing about making homemade soup is getting to experiment with new flavors.  For day #7 of Soup Month, we've combined shrimp with fire-roasted tomatoes, white wine and spicy dry chorizo and the end result is delicious.

This recipe was adapted from a 2009 Food &Wine recipe I came across.  I had never used dry chorizo so I was curious to try it as we do like fresh chorizo.  The dry variety does need to be used in this recipe as the fresh would result in a mushy texture.  The smoky paprika, combined with the chorizo and shrimp is an amazing flavor, without being overly spicy.  We did add a package of frozen cheese tortellini just to make the soup a bit more hearty and a little more kid-friendly.

2 lbs Medium Shrimp, shelled and deveined, shells reserved
1 - 49 oz can Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
12 oz  Dry White Wine
8 oz Dry Chorizo, peeled and thinly sliced
1 Small Sweet Onion, finely diced
3 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 1/2 tsp Sweet Smoked Paprika
1 - 28-oz can Fire-Roasted Diced Tomatoes, drained
1 TB Flour mixed with 2 TB of Water
1 pkg  Frozen Cheese Filled Tortellini
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Avocado slices, for garnish

In a medium saucepan, simmer the shrimp shells in the chicken broth and wine, covered, for 10 minutes. Strain the broth and discard the shells.

In a large soup pot, cook the chorizo over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chorizo to a plate. Add the onion, garlic and paprika to the pot and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Return the chorizo to the pot, add the shrimp broth and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat for 25 minutes. Stir the flour mixture, whisk it into the soup and boil for 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the tortellini and bring soup back to a low boil.  Add the shrimp to the soup and cook just until pink and curled, about 2 minutes. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with avocado slices.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Old Fashioned Chicken and Dumplings

For day #6 of Soup Month, we have an all-time favorite on the list of comfort foods, Chicken and Dumplings.  Cold season has officially begun, and the reports from school say there are lots of sniffles, sneezes and sick kids out there so it's time for some old-fashioned medicine.

This is a pretty simple recipe and some of the work can be done ahead of time, either in the morning or over the weekend, and you can whip up a great weeknight dinner in a flash.  The homemade dumplings are light and fluffy inside and really can be made from scratch with only a few ingredients.

4 Chicken Legs Quarters, skin removed
2 Celery Stalks, leaves chopped and stalks cut into 4 pieces
1/2 medium Onion, quartered
1/2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
3 cups  Flour
4 1/2 tsp  Baking Powder
1 1/2 tsp  Salt
6 TB  Butter
1 1/2 cups  Milk
1/2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper

Add skinned chicken quarters, celery and onion to a large soup pot of water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-high and continue to boil for about 45 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.  Remove quarters from pot and place in a bowl to cool.

To make the chicken and dumplings you will need about 4 cups of the broth in the pot.  If you have more than 4 cups, pour some into a jar or glass bowl and store in refrigerator for another use.

Using a slotted spoon, scoop the onion and larger celery pieces out of the soup pot and discard.  When chicken is cool, remove meat from the bones and return chicken pieces to the soup pot.  Increase heat to medium-high.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.  Cut butter into slivers and drop into the flour mixture, then use a fork to blend the butter into the flour until fully combined.  Add milk and blend just until the dough holds together.

When the chicken broth comes to a a low boil, drop dough by rounded tablespoons on top of the bubbling broth.  Adjust heat so broth just simmers, then simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes;  cover and simmer 10 minutes longer.  Spoon chicken and dumplings into soup bowls and serve.  Makes about 8 servings.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Cashew Chili

Day #5 of Soup Month brings us an ultra-healthy chili with...No Meat!  I know, that will scare some people but give this chili a try and you will be pleasantly surprised how delicious a vegetarian-style meal can be.

This lean vegan chili is low in fat and calories and high in fiber and flavor.  Since this recipe makes a pretty large batch, make this on Sunday night and you will have several days of yummy, healthy and ready-to-eat chili fur lunch or dinner.  Better yet, share a bowl with a friend, co-worker or family member. They will be asking for more!  Enjoy!

16 oz Dried Small Red Beans (or use Red Kidney Beans)
5 cups Water
3 Bay Leaves
4 TB Olive Oil, divided
2 Medium Onions, 1/2-inch dice
4-6 cloves Garlic, chopped
2 Medium Green Peppers, 1/2-inch dice
2 cups Celery, 1/2-inch dice
2 TB Ground Cumin Seed
1 TB Ground Coriander
1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
1 tsp Dried Basil
1 tsp Dried Oregano
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
3 cans (14.5 oz each) Diced Tomatoes
1-1/2 cup (1/4 lb) Roasted Unsalted Cashews
1 TB Red Wine Vinegar

Sort and soak beans: Sort beans and discard warped/discolored beans. Place beans in a large stockpot and cover with water, allowing an extra 2 inches of water above beans. Soak 4-6 hours or overnight.

When ready to cook: Drain beans and discard soaking water. Add beans and 5 cups fresh water to a medium stockpot. Heat on high 10 min, uncovered, until boiling. Skim as much foam as possible from surface. Add bay leaves; reduce heat to medium-low. Cover, tilted to vent steam. Cook 1 hour; and do not stir.

Heat 3 TB olive oil, onions, and garlic in large stockpot on medium-high for 2 min. Add peppers and celery; cook, stirring occasionally, about 8 min, until vegetables are tender.

Add remaining 1 TB oil, cumin, coriander, red pepper, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook about 1 min, stirring. Add tomatoes; reduce heat to medium. Simmer 10 min, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; set aside.

Check beans for tenderness; they should be completely tender (if not tender, cover completely; cook additional 15 min or as needed). Most of the water will be absorbed at this point. Remove and discard bay leaves. 

Add beans to stockpot with veggie/tomato mixture; stir. Return to medium heat, add cashews and red wine vinegar and simmer. Cover, tilted to vent steam. Cook 15 min, stirring occasionally.

Makes about 14 1-cup servings.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Oriental Chicken Noodle Soup

Are you ready for day 4 of Soup Month?  With cold and flu season quickly approaching, this is a great recipe to help you feel better and we're adding a little twist to the traditional chicken noodle soup.

This chicken soup has a delicious blend of oriental flavors, with a spicy zing of Sriracha Sauce at the end.  Using precooked chicken also makes it a great time saver, which would make this perfect for any weeknight dinner.  The whole wheat noodles keep the soup healthy and add a little earthly flavor.

Time Saving Tip:  To save a bunch of time putting together weeknight dinners, try adding this project to your Sunday routine.  Buy a whole chicken, about 5 - 5 1/2 pounds in weight, remove the skin and boil the chicken in a pot of water with a few onion quarters and 1 chopped celery stalk.  Let cool and pull the meat off the carcass and divide into 2 bowls (or even 3 depending on the size of meals you will be preparing). Also strain the broth to use for soup.  Now you have your chicken and broth ready for soup night and a batch of chicken ready for Baked Chicken Chimichangas or fajitas.

3 cups  Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
4 cups  Water
1 tsp  Canola Oil
1 tsp  Sesame Oil
2 TB  Low Sodium Soy Sauce
1 cup  White Mushrooms, quartered
1 8-oz can  Sliced Water Chestnuts, drained
3  Carrots, sliced into thin rounds
6 oz  Healthy Harvest Whole Grain Noodles
2 cups Precooked Chicken, shredded
1 cup  Snow Peas, trimmed
1 -2 tsp  Sriracha Hot Sauce (optional)
2  Green Onions, finely chopped

In a soup pot, heat canola and sesame oil until warm, then add soy sauce, mushrooms and carrot, saute over medium-high heat about 3 minutes. 

Add broth and water and bring soup to a boil.  Add noodles and cook 5 minutes over medium-high heat.  Add snow peas, chicken and water chestnuts and continue to heat until noodles are al dente, stirring occasionally.  Add Sriracha sauce, if a spicy flavor is desired, and blend into soup.

Ladle into soup bowls and top with green onions before serving.  Serves 6-8.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Swai and Sweet Potato Chowder

On to day 3 of Soup Month!  I must say, this is an amazing bowl of soup!  I am always looking for new ways to cook Swai, and this was a great meal.  Since most people don't keep a supply of Saffron on hand, the price for this delicate spice will be a bit of a shocker. I paid just over $6 for a 1/2 gram, in a vial no bigger than a quarter!  I know it sounds expensive, but here are a few details to explain the high cost.

Saffron are the stigmas of the crocus sativus flower, which grows in Western Asia. Since each flower only has 3 stigmas, and these are all "hand-harvested", you need a lot of time to collect 13,000+ stigmas which equals just 1 ounce. A very labor-intensive spice!

Since Saffron can be used to add flavor and beautiful color to many soups, plus seafood paella, rice or risotto, it is a delicious spice to experiment with and try in various foods. You can crush the threads when using them, but in this dish, simply add the whole threads and the flavor and color will distribute into the soup more evenly.

The sweet potatoes and Andouille were a surprisingly good match for the Swai, and the crispy fried sweet potatoes on top finished the soup off nicely.

1 TB  Olive Oil
2 pieces  Andouille Sausages (6-8 oz total)
1 small  Onion, chopped
1/4 tsp  Saffron Threads (6-8 threads are plenty)
3 cups  Low Sodium Chicken Broth
2 small  Sweet Potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/4 cup  Whipping Cream (or Half and Half)
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 pounds  Swai Fillets, rinsed, patted dry and cut into 1-inch squares
1/2 cup  Low Sodium Chicken Broth
2 TB  Cornstarch
1 small  Sweet Potato, julienned or cut into thin matchsticks
2 tsp  Olive Oil

In a large soup pot, heat 1 TB olive oil.  Add sausage slices and cook until lightly browned.  Add onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes.

Add chicken broth, sweet potatoes and saffron threads.  Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 5 minutes or until potatoes are almost tender.  Blend in whipping cream and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add pieces of fish to the top of the soup, pushing the fish into the soup slightly.  (The heat of the soup will gently poach the fish, allowing it to absorb all of the flavors.)  Cover the pot and cook until the fish is opaque and cooked thru, about 10 minutes.  (Choose the largest piece of fish to test for doneness, if needed.)

Sweet Potato Slivers:   Saute the julienned potatoes in a small skillet over medium-high heat with 2 tsp olive oil. Stir the potatoes and fry until crispy; keep warm.

Gently stir soup.  Mix 1/4 cup broth with 2 TB cornstarch in a small bowl.  Slowly add the mixture to the soup, a little at a time while stirring the soup, until the desired consistency is reached.  Ladle soup into bowls and top with toasted sweet potato slivers.  Enjoy!!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Golden Potato Soup with Spicy Shrimp

On to day #2 of Soup Month, we have a silky smooth Golden Potato Soup with Sriracha Spiced  Shrimp on top.  This is a relatively easy soup to make, requiring just a few minutes of prep time.  The original recipe from Food & Wine magazine called for Turkish red-pepper paste as the base seasoning for the shrimp but, since I could not find any here in our small town, my husband decided to use his spice magic on the shrimp and they turned out great.  Just the right amount of spice to compliment the mild potato soup.

Why use 2 varieties of potatoes?  The Yukon Gold is a boiling potato which contains less starch and sugar and also gives this soup its beautiful color.  When you combine the 3 Yukon potatoes with 1 regular Russet potato, which is higher in starch and will add a little fluff to the recipe, you get the perfect combination of silkiness and just a bit of starch to thicken the soup.

This elegant soup would be perfect for the first course at any holiday dinner, and would be delicious served before a Beef Standing Rib RoastEnjoy!

1 TB  Olive Oil
1 medium Shallot, sliced
Kosher Salt
3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced
1 medium Russet Potato, peeled and diced
2 cups  Chicken Broth
1/2 lb  Raw Shrimp, about 21-25 size, shelled, deveined and cut in half horizontally
1 tsp  Fresh Basil
1 TB  Minced Fresh Garlic
2 TB  Olive Oil
1/2 tsp  Sriracha Sauce
1 tsp  Balsamic Vinegar
Pinch of Ground Cayenne Pepper
1/4 tsp  Paprika
1  Green Onion, minced for garnish

In a large pot heat 1 TB olive oil.  Add the shallot and just a pinch of salt and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the diced potatoes and cook 5 minutes.  Add the chicken broth and simmer over medium heat until tender, about 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine the shrimp, basil, garlic, 2 TB olive oil, Sriracha sauce, balsamic, cayenne and paprika.  Set aside to marinate while the potatoes are cooking.

When the potatoes are tender, use a slotted spoon to scoop the shallots and potatoes into a blender.  Strain the remaining broth into a saucepan, and carefully add 1 cup of the broth to the blender.

Puree the soup until smooth, then add the puree to the saucepan with the broth.  Add just a pinch of salt, to taste and stir until the broth and puree are combined.

Using a small skillet, add the shrimp mixture, and cook shrimp over medium-high heat, about 4 minutes or until shrimp are pink and slightly curled.

Ladle the soup into bowls and top with several of the cooked shrimp and a sprinkle of green onions for garnish.  Serves about 3 as a main meal with a side salad, or serves 6 as an appetizer or first course.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Southwest Chicken Chili

This is a great recipe to start Soup Month 2011.  Just 30 more soups to go!!

The mild flavors of chicken and red and green peppers combined with the bold flavors of cumin, cayenne and black beans to deliver a wonderful Southwest taste to this chili.  Even better me, this soup is very colorful and the kids loved it, including the black beans! They loved the beans and the extra bit of spice was enjoyed by everyone. 

The best part of this recipe?  Start to finish, you can have this chili on the table in under 1 hour.

1/2 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp  Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1/2 tsp  Chili Powder
1/8 tsp Cayenne Powder
1/2 tsp  Garlic Powder
1 tsp  Cumin Powder
1/4 tsp  Onion Powder
1-3/4 lbs  Boneless/Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 TB Canola Oil
1 TB  Minced Garlic
1/2 cup  Red Pepper, finely chopped
1/2 cup  Green Pepper, finely chopped
1 small Onion, finely chopped
1  14.5 oz can  Black Beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup  Frozen Corn
2 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
3 TB  Cornstarch
1/4 cup  Water
Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese, for garnish

In a small bowl, combine first 7 dry spices, salt, pepper, chili powder, cayenne, garlic powder, cumin, and onion powder.  Sprinkle the spice mixture over the cubed chicken and stir to evenly coat all pieces.  Set chicken aside.

Heat canola oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat.  Add chicken pieces to the pot and lightly brown on all sides, stirring often.  Add garlic, red & green peppers and onion and saute until just softened, about 5 minutes.

Add black beans and corn and stir to combine;  cook 2 minutes, add the chicken broth and simmer 5 minutes longer.  In a small bowl combine cornstarch and water, add mixture to pot while stirring and cook an additional 1-2 minutes, until thickened.

Serve in soup bowls with a garnish of monterey jack cheese.  Enjoy!