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Friday, November 30, 2012

Indonesian Nasi Goreng

Don't let the tricky name scare you away, because this is a delicious stir fry dish that's actually quite easy to make.

The name, Nasi Goreng, translates into "fried rice" in Indonesia, and the dish has many variations.  It can be served as a breakfast dish by serving the rice with more egg, it can be made suitable for vegetarians by omitting the chicken and/or shrimp, or you can prepare the dish with just chicken.  Either way, it is a quick and simple stir fry and makes a great weeknight dinner.

Cooking with a wok (or a large skillet will work too) the first thing to do is prepare all of your ingredients.  Have everything ready in advance and this meal will come together very quickly.

First, prepare a sauce of red chilies, chili paste, lobster or shrimp base, minced garlic and soy sauce. (You can use a small food processor to puree this if you would like a smooth mixture, but I liked having the pieces of garlic and chili in the sauce.)  Next chop the cucumbers and tomatoes and place in smalls bowls.  Then slice the chicken into strips and you're ready to go.

You can also vary the amount of heat in this dish, since this dish as written was not overly spicy. The chilies I used were a little mild, and next time I might try using Thai chilies for a more intense heat, or maybe add a teaspoon or two of Srirachi Sauce for extra heat. You can easily adjust the spice up or down for this recipe according to personal preference.  This dish got a thumbs up from the kids, even the picky eater, so I'm sure it will be added to our list of Go-To weeknight recipes.  Enjoy!!

4 - 6  Red Chilies, seeded and thinly sliced
1 TB  Roasted Red Chili Paste
2 tsp  Lobster or Shrimp Base
2 TB  Minced Garlic
1 TB  Soy Sauce
Peanut Oil for Stir-Frying
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/3 lb  Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast, cut into strips
1 lb  Medium Raw Shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 cups  Cooked Rice (Jasmati, Long Grain or Brown Rice will work)
1/3 cup  Soy Sauce
1 cup  Diced Cucumber
1  Large Tomato, chopped
Lime Wedges for garnish

In a small bowl combine the minced chilies, chili paste, lobster or shrimp base, garlic and soy sauce.  Stir and set aside.

Heat the wok (or large skillet) until very hot, add 2 tsp peanut oil and swirl around the wok.  Add the beaten eggs and gently swirl the eggs so they spread out in the wok, to create a large thin crepe.  Carefully flip the eggs over, cook for 1 minute until set, then transfer the eggs to a plate to cool, then slice the eggs into thin strips.

Reheat the wok and add 2 teaspoons of peanut oil, then add the chicken and half of the chili and garlic mixture.  Stir to coat and cook the chicken until it is no longer pink.  Remove the chicken from the wok and keep warm in a large bowl.

Reheat the wok, add 1 teaspoon oil, then the shrimp and the remaining chili and garlic mixture.  Stir and cook until the shrimp are cooked through and pink.  Transfer the shrimp to the bowl with the chicken and keep warm.

Reheat the wok and add 1 tablespoon of oil, then add the cooked rice, and stir constantly over medium-high heat for 4 minutes.  Add the soy sauce to the rice, stir, then add the chicken and shrimp to the wok.  Continue to turn the mixture until everything is warmed through.  Season with salt and pepper, as needed. 

Spoon the mixture into serving bowls and sprinkle with the strips of egg, then a spoonful of cucumber and finally the tomato on top.  Serve with lime wedges to squeeze over the dish. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Chi Chi's Seafood Enchiladas

The inspiration for this recipe came from a jar of Better Than Bouillon Lobster Base.  I bought the base to make a Lobster Bisque during Soup Month, and it was wonderful.  But since I still had quite a bit of the lobster base left I wanted to find a tasty way to use it.

After a little research, I discovered that this type of base is the key ingredient in Seafood Enchiladas, which were a signature dish at the now-defunct Chi-Chi's Restaurants.  These little rolls of seafood seemed to have had quite a following, even years after the restaurants were closed, so I thought we would try them out.

I did change the recipe slightly.  Instead of using the 4 oz can of shrimp called for in the recipe, I substituted 1 cup of diced cooked shrimp.  The 100-count salad shrimp work great for this and are pretty inexpensive, but I just cannot get myself to cook with canned shrimp.  (Shrimp in a can just seems so wrong.)

This recipe turned out pretty good, but it still left me puzzled.  I read dozens of reviews for this recipe and they all said that these taste exactly like the original restaurant recipe.  And they did taste just like restaurant version, and the kids loved them.  But they still need something. A little oomph.  The biggest problem with restaurant food is that it almost always need more spice and flavor.  And that was the case here.

So on that note, I am on a mission to update these little seafood enchiladas into something new.  I will report back soon with the updated version, but in the meantime, give these a try and enjoy!

6 TB  Butter
1/2 cup  Flour
1/2 tsp  White Pepper
2 TB  Lobster Base
3 1/2 cups  Milk
1 cup  White Wine  or  Cooking Sherry
8 oz  Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded
1 cup  Cooked Shrimp, diced
2  8-oz pkgs  Imitation Crabmeat, flake Style, chopped
10  6-inch  Flour Tortillas

To make the sauce, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the flour, stir and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the white pepper and lobster base, stir and cook for 1 minute.

Add the milk and white wine, stir, then add the cheese to the pan.  Cook over medium heat until the sauce is thickened, then remove the pan from the heat to cool slightly for about 10-15 minutes.

To prepare the crab mixture, combine the crab and shrimp in a medium bowl and add 1-1/2 cups of the sauce and mix well.

To prepare the enchiladas, lay the tortillas flat and spoon 2 - 3 heaping tablespoons of the crab mixture down the center of the tortillas.  Place the flap over the crab mixture, then roll.  Place the rolled enchiladas flap-side down in a 9"x13" baking dish.  Continue with the remaining tortillas, then pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas and top with the shredded cheese.

Bake at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and just slightly golden.  Serve with Spanish rice, refried beans and a few lime wedges.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Very Relaxing Thanksgiving

To me, the real point of Thanksgiving is to relax and enjoy the day with family.  And that is just what we did this year, with a trip to St Augustine Beach, FL.  This quiet little town has become our favorite destination for the Thanksgiving weekend.  It's not a busy tourist trap and the beach is pretty empty, except for a few surfers and after-dinner strollers trying to walk off their feast.  Peace, quiet, sand and surf make for an enjoyable day.  Except when the winds are up and over 20 mph!

Yes, this year turned into a blustery vacation.  The temperatures were nice and the sun was shining, but the winds made it feel like you were in downtown Chicago.  Our usual turkey sandwiches on the beach turned into sandwiches and hot soup in the hotel room, but afterwards we were ready to head back out to watch the waves. 

On our way home from the beach, we stopped by a farmer's market stand and found a few delicious goodies that we couldn't pass up.  Apple butter was a must on my daughter's list, and we tried our first jar of pumpkin butter that was simply the best thing you have ever tasted! 

Next we came across these beautiful orange tomatoes.  I didn't know what I was going to make with them but I had to take them home.  Once we cut into the first tomato the answer was very clear.  Salsa!  We chopped up some jalapeno and onion along with one tomato, then added a dash of lime juice and a teaspoon of salt.  Simple and wonderful.


Our last find was my favorite, fresh Atlantic shrimp.  These giant beauties were swimming in the ocean in the morning and dropped into a yummy batch of Low Country Boil for dinner.  We added red potatoes, spicy kielbasa, lemons, corn on the cob, and a few snow crabs to the pot with a generous spoonful of Old Bay and dinner was ready in about 20 minutes.  The perfect ending to a wonderful weekend!


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Thanksgiving Dinner Options

So here we are, just 5 short days from Thanksgiving.  Do you know what you are going to serve your family?  Are you going the traditional route with a Roasted Turkey and all the usual trimmings or are you looking for something a little different?

Many people are shocked at the thought of serving anything other than the traditional turkey dinner.  But what if you don't really like turkey?  What if you've cooked so many turkeys in your life you just don't ever want to have to cook another turkey?  Well, that would be me.  And you know what, Thanksgiving without turkey can be pretty great!

A few years ago I decided to break free from the traditional turkey dinner and cook something I really wanted to make, a Low Country Boil.  And you know what?  Everyone loved it and not one person missed the turkey!  Giant pieces of king crab legs, juicy jumbo shrimp, red potatoes and corn on the cob with some spicy kielbasa sausage thrown into a big kettle of boiling goodness.  The meal was delicious, and even better, the entire dinner was cooked in one pot!  Without the piles of pots and pans to wash after dinner, we were all able to sit back and enjoy the rest of our day.  That's when I knew it was OK to break tradition, and I haven't cooked a turkey since!

The next year we made a Standing Rib Roast with Oven Roasted Potatoes, another year it was Filet Mignon with Mushroom and Wine Sauce and one year it was San Francisco-Style Cioppino.  New and exciting recipes like these give everyone something new to look forward to each year, instead of the same roasted turkey. 

We always include our kids when planning our Thanksgiving Day meal each year, and we plan Christmas and New Year's Eve Dinners the same way.  Everyone makes suggestions and when the time comes, everyone pitches in to help prepare the meal.  The kids have learned so much by helping plan these dinners and we have created some great memories. 

So if you're tired of turkey or maybe you just don't like turkey, do something different!  Think outside the box this year and try making something new, exciting, and wonderful for your Thanksgiving Dinner. Enjoy!!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Sausage Stuffing with Sage

The secret stuffing.  Sausage Stuffing with Sage, to be exact.  It's the recipe that has never been formally written down, and yet all of my sisters and I know the recipe by heart.  Some of us make this stuffing better (me) than others (them), but we won't get into that..LOL.  Homemade stuffing is easy to make and is much better than pouring dried crumbs out of a bag and soaking them with broth! (Dreadfully bad stuff.)

Everyone in my family remembers the early Thanksgiving mornings, with my parents getting everything ready for the day.  Dinner for a family of 8 was no easy task, and the number of guests grew each year as spouses and grandchildren were added to the gathering.  I think we topped out at almost 30 people one year, and that meant two things, we needed a BIG turkey and a LOT of stuffing! 

My Mom always prepared this stuffing so she had enough to stuff a 20-22 pound turkey and also have a 13 x 9-inch pan on the side, which is a lot of stuffing.  For this recipe I've cut the portion down to serve about 8 - 10 people, with a bit left over for the next day.  (The leftovers are even better!)  

This year, make your own homemade stuffing to share with your family and create your own Thanksgiving memories.  Those memories will last a lifetime.  Enjoy!!

2  Loaves of White, Wheat, Pumpernickel Bread, etc (day old bread works best)
1 stick  Butter
1 large  Onion, finely chopped
2 - 3 stalks  Celery, finely chopped
1 tsp  Salt
1 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
1 TB  Dried Ground Sage
1 lb  Sage Sausage, browned and crumbled into small pieces
3  Large Eggs
Chicken Broth (optional-as needed)
1 can  Campbell's Cream of Chicken Soup (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a 9 x 13-inch baking pan and set aside.

Break the bread into 1-inch pieces and place in a large mixing bowl; set aside.

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and celery and saute for 5 - 6 minutes or until softened.  Add salt, pepper, and sage to the skillet and stir to combine.  Set aside to cool for 5 minutes.

Pour the mixture over the bread pieces, then add the cooked sausage and the eggs.  Blend the stuffing to fully combine all of the ingredients.  (You can use a spoon, but this step is much easier to do if you mix it with your hands.)  The texture of the stuffing at this point will be a little different depending on the type of bread you use.  If you are using a dense wheat or pumpernickel-type bread it will absorb more moisture than white breads, and there are two ways to add moisture to the stuffing.  If needed, add 1/4 cup of chicken broth to the stuffing and stir to combine.  (You want the stuffing to be moist but not soaked or watery.)  For more of a creamy texture, add a few tablespoons of cream of chicken soup, as needed, to moisten the stuffing.

Scoop the stuffing into the baking pan, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Uncover the pan and cook for 15 - 20 minutes longer or until crispy and golden on top.  Enjoy!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Soups for Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving Day is quickly approaching and we have some great ideas for you today.  Serving soup as a first course is a great way to begin your Thanksgiving meal.  Just don't be tempted to buy a store-bought soup because you're afraid you won't have time to prepare a pot of soup.  It can be done!

It's often said that a great bowl of soup always tastes better the second day it is served, so make the soup one day early and refrigerate it until the big day.  The next day you can heat up the soup, or to make it even easier, use your crock pot to heat the soup while you prepare the rest of the meal.  For soups that need to be served soon after they are prepared, there are even a few soups that are quick to prepare.

Here are a few soup suggestions that are simple, they can easily be reheated the following day and they will be a beautiful addition to your Thanksgiving Dinner.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup - This soup reheats very well and offers a classic touch of fall.  It would be delicious served alongside turkey, chicken or a roasted pork loin.

Savory Pumpkin Soup - Nothing says Thanksgiving better than Pumpkin. This soup reheats very well and would also coordinate well with turkey, chicken or roasted pork.

Creamy Trio of Mushrooms Soup - This earthy mushroom soup reheats well or you can make it the same day since preparation is very quick and easy.  This soup is a wonderful first course when served with Standing Rib Roast, roast pork loin, or lamb.

Creamy and Elegant Lobster Bisque - This soup is best served as soon as possible after cooking because of the delicate lobster, but it is quick to prepare.  This soup would pair well with roast turkey and oyster stuffing or a Standing Rib Roast.

Classic French Onion Soup - This soup can be made 60 - 90 minutes in advance and kept in a crock pot until ready to serve.  French onion soup pairs well with almost any main course, but goes especially well with Standing Rib Roast.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Continuing with our pre-holiday preparations, it just wouldn't be Thanksgiving without the Sweet Potatoes!  But instead of serving the super sweet, marshmallow topped version this year, try serving the real thing, Mashed Sweet Potatoes.

This recipe lets the natural flavor of the potatoes shine through, with just a touch of honey added for sweetness.  For extra flavor you can add orange juice or maple syrup to the finished potatoes.  This works really well if you are serving a baked ham.

If you have any sweet potatoes leftover, you are in for a treat.  We have several delicious ways to use up any extras such as Sweet Potato Bread, Sweet Potato and Oatmeal Muffins, or Sweet Potato Cookies with White Chocolate Chips and Cranberries.

6  Medium Sweet Potatoes, scrubbed
3 cups  Water, or enough to cover potatoes
1 tsp  Salt
1/4 cup  Butter, softened
3-4 TB  Honey
1/2 tsp  Salt

Cut off the ends of the potatoes and peel, removing any bruised spots. Chop potatoes into small 1-inch cubes, place in a large saucepan and add the water and salt.  Boil about 20 minutes or until just fork-tender.  Drain potatoes, return to the pan and add the butter.  Whip with an electric mixer until potatoes are smooth, then add honey and 1/2 tsp salt.  Serves 6-8.

For Orange-Flavored Sweet Potatoes: Add 2 tablespoons orange juice along with the honey.
For Maple-Flavored Sweet Potatoes: Prepare as above, substituting maple syrup for the honey.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Asparagus Casserole with Crunchy Onion Topping

With Thanksgiving Day quickly approaching, many people are making plans for the big day.  And with those plans come many questions.  What should I serve?  How many people will I be feeding?  Which wine should I buy?  Do I have to make turkey?  Ahh!  So much stress over one meal.  Why do we do this to ourselves?

To answer the above questions, I will be posting for the next 9 days, tips, hints, recipes and suggestions to help make your Thanksgiving Day a little bit easier.

Today we will start with Asparagus Casserole.  Although most people will stick with their family traditions, this recipe will update a family favorite and will have your guests asking for the recipe.  This is one of the rare occasions when I use a canned soup, but this stuff is just so good!

I made up this recipe when I was living in California.  The stores were closed and I didn't have green beans on hand, just a can of asparagus.  So this recipe was created based on the classic French's Green Bean Casserole, I just substituted the asparagus for the green beans.  Not being a big fan of green beans, I always knew there had to be a way to update the original recipe with a vegetable that I liked and asparagus is a delicious improvement.  Take this to your next holiday dinner and everyone will be pleasantly surprised.  Enjoy!

1  10-3/4 oz can  Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup
3/4 cup  Milk
1/8 tsp  Black Pepper
1 cup  Crunchy French Fried Onions
2  15 oz cans  Asparagus Cuts
1/2 cup  Crunchy French Fried Onions for Topping

In a medium casserole dish, mix soup, milk and pepper until combined.  Add onions and asparagus and combine gently so you don't crush all on the onions.  Smooth the mixture into the casserole pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until hot and crispy on top.  Top with the 1/2 cup of onions for the topping and bake 5 more minutes, then serve.  This recipe can easily be doubled.

Szechuan Pork Stir Fry

One of my favorite time saving appliances is my electric wok.  You can combine almost any protein with a handful of vegetables (anything you have on hand will work just fine), and a quick sauce and you have dinner on the table in no time. 


Another reason I love to cook in the wok is that it's so much fun to experiment with different ingredients and see how close I can get to the flavors you find in a traditional Chinese take-out meal. For example, tonight I wanted to make a Szechuan-style spicy sauce and I happened to have some pork on hand, so I started there.  After thinly slicing the pork, I added cornstarch, soy sauce and garlic powder for a marinade.  Next, I sliced a green pepper into strips and placed those in a small bowl. (Using small bowls for the ingredients is ideal for cooking with a wok.  Just line up all of the bowls in order as they are called for in the recipe, then you are ready to toss everything into the wok as needed.)

The Szechuan sauce gets its heat from crushed red pepper, which is infused into the dry roasted peanuts with a quick stir-fry.  This step is very "aromatic" to say the least.  The heat of the wok really brings out the full strength of the red pepper and the smell is spicy and delicious.

After quickly stir-frying the pork and peppers, a blend of chicken broth, vinegar and white wine add a nice balance to the spicy red pepper.

Cooking with a wok is super easy, but you could also use a large non-stick skillet with equally good results.  This is also a great recipe to start with if you are new to stir-frying.  It's super easy, fast and the taste is even better than take-out Chinese.  Enjoy!!

1 3/4 lbs  Boneless Pork, cut into thin strips
5 TB  Soy Sauce
4 TB  Cornstarch, divided
1 tsp  Garlic Powder
3 TB  Water
2 tsp  Peanut Oil
1/2 cup  Dry Roasted Peanuts
1/2 tsp  Crushed Red Pepper
1/2 tsp  Minced Fresh Ginger
1 medium Green or Red Bell Pepper, cut into strips
1 cup  Chicken Broth
2 TB  Rice Vinegar
2 TB  Dry White Wine
1 tsp  Sugar

In a medium glass bowl, combine the soy sauce, 1 TB cornstarch and garlic powder, add the pork strips and marinate for 15 - 20 minutes.

Heat 2 tsp peanut oil in a large wok over medium-high heat.  Add the peanuts, crushed red pepper and ginger to the wok and stir-fry for 2 minutes.  Remove peanuts to a bowl and set aside.

Add 1 tsp peanut oil to the wok, then add the pork, and stir-fry for 3 minutes.  Add the green pepper and stir-fry for 2 minutes longer, stirring and turning frequently to cook evenly.

Combine the broth, vinegar, wine and sugar in a small glass bowl and stir to dissolve the sugar.  Add mixture to the wok, stir well, cover and simmer for 3 minutes.

In a small bowl combine 3 TB cornstarch and water, stir, then add the mixture to the wok and stir until the broth thickens, about 3 - 5 minutes.

Serve over steamed brown rice with a bowl of steamed edamame.  Serves 6.  Enjoy!!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Chicken and Mushroom Saute with Dijon-Wine Sauce

Most Moms will agree, any time you can put together a delicious meal and only use one pan, that's a great meal!  And that was the case for this dinner.  This is a quick and easy meal that we threw together tonight that combines the rustic flavors of sauteed fresh mushrooms with a creamy Dijon mustard sauce and thin slices of chicken. 

We used a mushroom trio of Oyster, Shiitake and Portabello mushrooms that are actually sold as a "gourmet" mixture at out local Publix store.  I love the flavor that this blend of mushrooms delivers and they only take a few minutes to saute.  Better yet, they were already sliced and ready to use.

The delicate cream sauce is a mixture of chicken broth, white wine and Dijon mustard that is finished off with cream and Parmesan cheese.  By reducing the sauce in stages you get the full flavor of the ingredients, and the end results is a quick sauce that tastes like it's been simmering for much longer.

Lastly, the chicken breasts are cut into thin medallions, or silver-dollar sized slices, and this is very important to make this meal in a flash.  Slice the chicken breast down the center lengthwise, then hold your knife at an angle as you slice pieces off the end of each strip. Try to cut the slices the same thickness and they will cook evenly.  This is also a great way to slice chicken for a stir-fry dish.

This was a great dinner and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.  Enjoy!!

2 lbs  Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut into thin medallions
1 TB  Olive Oil
2 tsp  Minced Garlic
4 oz  Mixed Mushrooms, sliced (I used Shiitake, Oyster and Portabello)
1 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
2/3 cup  White Wine
1 cup  Chicken Stock
2 - 3 TB  Dijon Mustard, to taste
3/4 cup  Heavy Cream
1/3 cup  Grated Parmesan Cheese
Cooked Whole Wheat Pasta

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Season chicken with salt and pepper and add to the skillet, stirring to quickly saute for about 5 minutes, or until the edges begin to brown.

Add the garlic to the skillet, stir and cook for 2 minutes.  Then add the mushrooms, salt and pepper,  and keep stirring frequently and cook for 3 minutes longer, or until the mushrooms begin to cook down slightly.  Remove the chicken and mushrooms from the skillet to a warm plate and keep warm.

Add the white wine to the skillet, keeping heat at medium-high, and stirring to combine any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Reduce the wine by half, then add the chicken stock to the pan, and again reduce the mixture by half.  Add 2 TB mustard and the cream to the skillet, stir to combine and return the chicken and mushrooms to the pan.  Cook for 3 - 4 minutes or until slightly thickened, then add the Parmesan cheese to the skillet and stir to blend.  Taste test the sauce and add the additional 1 TB mustard, if desired.
(Note:  If the sauce is a little too thin for your preference, mix 2 teaspoons of cornstarch in a small bowl with a little cold water and blend into the sauce.  Stir constantly until the sauce thickens to your liking.)

Serve over cooked linguine pasta and a top with additional Parmesan cheese.  Serves 6.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Cincinnati Chili

Tonight we are revisiting a Midwest favorite, Cincinnati Chili.  Although the process and the ingredients are somewhat unorthodox compared to the common Texas-style chili recipe, this is a delicious bowl of chili on a cold winter night.

If you've ever eaten at a Skyline Chili Parlor Restaurant, you might be familiar with this type of chili. This is a unique and flavorful chili, with a blend of savory and sweet spices in perfect balance.  Cinnamon, allspice and cloves combine with tomato sauce, onions, celery and just a touch of lemon juice for a bit of acidity.  Serve the chili over a bowl of pasta, top with chopped onion and grated cheddar and you have a delicious meal.

This is also a great chili to serve for football parties.  Just prepare the chili as directed and place in a large crock pot to keep warm. If you have an additional crock pot available, use it to keep hot dogs warm and your guests can make their own Chili Cheese Dogs. Just place a few bowls of grated cheese, chopped onions, and maybe some sliced jalapenos nearby as toppings.  This chili is also great for leftovers.  Enjoy!!

4 cups Water
2 8 oz cans Tomato Sauce
1 5 oz can Tomato Paste
2 cups  Onions, finely chopped
1 cup  Celery, finely chopped
2 TB  Chili Powder
2 TB  Fresh Lemon Juice
1 TB  Sugar
2 Bay Leaves (whole)
4 Garlic cloves, finely minced
2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Ground Cumin
1/2 tsp Ground Allspice
1/4 tsp Ground Cloves

1 lb Lean Ground Beef
1 lb Lean Ground Pork
1 lb Spaghetti or Linguine, broken in half, cooked and tossed lightly with Olive Oil


2 cups Hot Kidney Beans
2 cups Chopped Onions
2 cups Grated Cheddar Cheese

In a large soup pot, combine all ingredients except the beef, pork, and spaghetti. Cover and bring the mixture to a boil.  Crumble the meat gradually into the pot and return the mixture to a boil. 

Reduce the heat and simmer for 1 - 2 hours, uncovered, until the chili has thickened. Discard the bay leaves. Serve in large flat soup bowls, ladled over the hot spaghetti; top with the beans, onions and shredded cheese to your liking.

Monday, November 5, 2012

NuWave Oven Baked Buffalo Chicken Wings

The NuWave Oven is an interesting gadget, and I'm sure many of you have seen these advertised on the weekend infomercials.  The oven has a large domed top and uses infrared heat as a cooking source.  During the infomercial, the hosts show different foods you can cook in the oven, but the problem is, once this oven is delivered, many people just don't know what to do with it.  The cookbook that's enclosed with the oven is more than a little vague and just doesn't give you a lot of information so you can actually cook with this thing.  The answer to this problem is simple. Experiment!

Some people think this little oven is just a gimmick and I was a little skeptical too, but the truth is, you will never cook a more juicy and evenly roasted chicken than with this oven.  Really!  Here are a few recipes that we have tested with wonderful results  NuWave Baked Chicken, NuWave Baked Chicken Drumsticks, NuWave Oven Roast Beef. 

Now, on to my latest challenge, NuWave Oven Baked Chicken Wings.  I've been wanting to try this recipe for a long time and I was thrilled with the results.  We used the same breading technique and the same sauce that we use in our Oven Baked Buffalo Chicken Wings, it was just the actual baking method that changed.  These wings are super easy to make.  Just double coat with a cornmeal breading, then bake it the NuWave for about 15 minutes.  You can coat these with your own sauce or try our Buffalo Wing Sauce detailed below.  Either way, you're in store for a delicious batch of wings.  Enjoy!!


3/4 cup Flour
3/4 cup Cornmeal
2 tsp Seasoned Salt
1 TB Garlic Powder
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Garlic Salt
9 Chicken Wings cut into drumettes, center wing pieces and wing tips (discard tips) You will have 18 pieces total

Combine the flour, cornmeal, salt, garlic powder, pepper, and garlic salt in a large bowl.  Add the wings, turning to evenly coat on all sides.  Place the coated wings on a baking sheet and let rest for 5 minutes, then recoat a second time in the breading.

Set up the NuWave and place the wings on the 4" cooking rack, leaving a bit of room between wings, if possible, to allow for even cooking. Cook on HIGH for 8 minutes, then turn wings over and cook for 6 - 8 minutes longer on HIGH. (Depending on the thickness of the wings, you will want to test them for doneness after about 6 or 8 minutes, see if they are cooked through, and add another 3 - 5 minutes, if needed. The juices should run clear when fully cooked.)

While the wings are cooking you can prepare the wing sauce.

Buffalo Wing Sauce
3/4 stick Salted Butter
1 TB Red Pepper Flakes
4 TB Garlic Powder
1 tsp Black Pepper
1/4 tsp Salt
3/4 cup Franks Red Hot Original Sauce
1 TB  White Vinegar

Melt butter in saucepan then add red pepper flakes, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Heat and stir until you get a roux consistency. Add Franks Red Hot sauce and vinegar and heat to just under a boil. Simmer for 10 - 15 minutes on low heat.

Dip the cooked wings into the sauce one at a time and coat thoroughly with sauce and place in serving bowl.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Clams and Mussels in Potato-Leek Soup

Well, our 4th Annual Soup Month has come to a close and for our final recipe of Soup Month 2012, we have a generous serving of delicious steamed shellfish served over a creamy potato soup.  My oldest daughter has been waiting all month for this recipe, so she was happy when she finally saw mussels on the menu!

For this Clams and Mussels in Potato-Leek Soup recipe, we prepared a simple pureed potato and leek soup, using just a few basic ingredients to let the flavors of the shellfish really pop.  While the soup cooked, the shellfish were quickly steamed in olive oil and white wine, which brings all of the natural juices out of the shells, so they can be included in the soup.  About half of the meat from the mussels and clams is included in the soup, while the other half is served in the shell, both for decorative purposes and also to keep the meat in the shell with all of those delicious juices.

Many people are not sure how to prepare mussels or clams, so they avoid cooking with them all together.  Shellfish are really very easy to prepare and just require a small amount of liquid in the pan to help them steam.  The shellfish actually have enough of their own juices that additional liquid is not really necessary, but it does add more flavor to the shellfish during the cooking process.

Beginner Tip:  If you have never tried to steam your own shellfish, and are still a little reluctant, try this instead.  Follow the instructions below to steam the shells, then serve the clams and mussels over a bowl of cooked linguine.  Melt some butter in a skillet and add a teaspoon or two of olive oil, then saute some minced garlic in the butter and olive oil until the garlic is fragrant and slightly browned.  Pour this butter mixture over the shellfish and the linguine and you have a super simple dinner that tastes incredible.  Enjoy!!

2 TB  Olive Oil
2 tsp Minced Garlic
1 medium Shallot, diced
1  Leek, finely chopped (include the white and a little of the green)
1/2 tsp Dried Thyme
4  medium  Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and cubed
1-1/2 cups  Water
1 bottle  Clam Juice
1/2 cup  Heavy Cream
Kosher Salt and Ground Black Pepper to Taste
2 lbs  Cleaned Mussels
2 dozen  Cleaned Clams
1 cup White Wine
Chopped Fresh Parsley for Garnish
Olive Oil for Garnish

Heat a medium soup pot over medium-high heat and add 2 TB olive oil.  When the oil is warm, add the garlic, shallot, leek and thyme to the pot and saute for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.  Add the potatoes and sauce for 4 minutes until they begin to brown slightly on the edges.

Add the water and clam juice to the pot and continue to cook over medium-high heat until the potatoes are cooked through.  (Add a bit more water to the pot, if needed.)

When the potatoes are tender, add the cream to the pot and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Use an immersion blender or a regular blender to puree the soup until very smooth, then return the soup to the pot and keep warm over low heat.  (The soup will appear slightly thick at this point, but hold off adding any other liquid.  The soup will be thinned when the shellfish juices are added, and more liquid can be added, if needed, at the end of the cooking process.)

To Cook the Mussels and Clams:  Add 2 TB olive oil to a very large skillet or saute pan.  Heat the oil over medium-high heat until it is shimmering and very hot.  Carefully add the shellfish to the pot, stirring as they begin to sizzle.  Pour the white wine over the shellfish and stir again to evenly coat.  Cover the pan and cook for about 5 minutes or until the shells begin to open.  Use a slotted spoon to remove the shells that have opened to a platter.  If some shells did not open, cover the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes longer, to give them a chance to open.  Discard any shells that do not open.

Use a spoon to scoop the meat out of half of the mussels and clams and add the meat to the soup, and stir the soup to combine.  Strain the cooking liquid from the shellfish through a piece of cheesecloth or a coffee filter and pour the filtered broth into the soup.  This will thin the soup and you can add additional cream or water to the soup if you prefer a thinner texture.

Ladle the soup into bowls and place several of the opened shellfish on top of the soup as a garnish.  Sprinkle with fresh parsley and drizzle with olive oil before serving.  Enjoy!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

For day 30 of Soup Month 2012, we have a rich and creamy Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with a little garnish of popcorn on top.  This is a great seasonal soup and it would be ideal to serve for Thanksgiving dinner. 

Butternut squash has a sweet, nutty flavor and combines nicely with savory seasonings.  It can even be used to make a great vegan lasagna, (more on that later).  The base of this soup uses a white wine and herb broth, coriander and just a touch of cayenne pepper for a little background spice, with a dash of cream to add a silky texture.

Many people don't cook with butternut squash because it's a little tough to work with, and I admit I was a little intimidated as I tried to figure out how to chop this squash.  It was actually pretty simple.  I used a large knife, cut the squash into pieces, then used the knife to carefully slice off the outer shell.  Some people use a potato peeler to prepare squash, but it just doesn't work as well as a good knife.

Since this was my first attempt at cooking butternut squash I was not sure what to expect from the combination of flavors, but I was very pleased with the results.  This soup was rich and creamy and quite filling, and I loved the flavor of the white wine broth.  If you're serving turkey or ham this Thanksgiving, this soup would make a beautiful first course.  Enjoy!!

1-1/2 tsp  Ground Coriander
1 tsp  Sugar
1/2 tsp  Ground Cayenne Pepper
2 TB  Olive Oil
3 lb  Butternut Squash, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 3/4 cups  College Inn White Wine and Herb Broth
3 TB  Butter
1/2 cup  Half and Half
1 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp  White Pepper

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.  In a large bowl combine coriander, sugar, cayenne pepper and olive oil.  Stir to combine, then add the pieces of squash to the bowl and stir to coat.

Spread pieces of squash onto a foil-lined baking sheet and roast for about 40 minutes, turning occasionally, until tender and brown on the edges.

Transfer the squash to a blender, add the broth and half and half , then puree until smooth.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter, then add the pureed squash to the pan and stir.  Add salt and white pepper to the soup, stir and adjust seasonings further, if needed.

Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with a few pieces of popcorn and serve.  Enjoy!!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Crock Pot Chipotle Chili

I can't believe we are almost at the end of Soup Month.  We've made some delicious soups and stews this month, and today for day 29 of Soup Month 2012, we have a bold and spicy Crock Pot Chipotle Chili.  This chili offers an amazing combination of flavors including fire-roasted tomatoes, black beans, chipotle powder, and the surprise ingredient, unsweetened cocoa.  I know cocoa is not a very common ingredient in most chili recipes, but it adds amazing depth and a deep rich color to this dish and just makes all of the other ingredients come together beautifully. 

For a little added convenience, this chili is made in the crock pot, and it can be prepared start to finish in about 3 hours. 

Everyone at our house enjoyed this chili fixed their own way. With pasta or without, with cheese or sour cream or both, or even without any garnish, this was an excellent chili.  With the robust flavor, plus veggies, black beans and tender bites of sirloin, this chili with surely be on the menu for our upcoming football parties.  Enjoy!!

1 can  Black Beans, rinsed and drained
1 15-oz can  Hunt's Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes
1 cup  Water
1 tsp  Ground Cumin
1 tsp  Dried Oregano
1 TB  Smoky Chili Powder
1/2 tsp  Chipotle Powder
2 TB  Unsweetened Cocoa
1 TB  Olive Oil
1-1/2 lbs  Beef Sirloin, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 TB  Tomato Paste
1 small  Red Pepper, chopped
1 small  Green Pepper, chopped
1 medium  Onion, chopped
Salt and Pepper to Taste
1/3 to 1/4 cup  Cornmeal, as needed

In a large crock pot, add the black beans, tomatoes, water, cumin, oregano chili powder, chipotle powder, and cocoa.  Turn heat to HIGH and cook for 45 minutes.

While the chili begins to cook in the crock pot, you can saute the meat and vegetables.  Using a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add the beef to the skillet and stir to quickly sear the outside of the meat;  cook for 5 minutes.  Add the tomato paste to the beef and stir to combine, then add the peppers and onion and saute the beef and vegetables for 5 minutes.

Add the beef and vegetables to the crock pot and continue to cook on HIGH for 60 minutes.  Stir the chili and add salt and pepper, if needed.  Add the cornmeal to the chili and stir to fully combine the cornmeal.  Turn heat setting to LOW and cook for 60 minutes longer. 

Ladle chili into bowls and serve with sour cream and grated cheddar cheese for a garnish.  This chili is also great served over cooked pasta.  Enjoy!!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Seafood and Spice and Everything Nice

For day 28 of Soup Month 2012, we have an amazing seafood stew that is truly one of the best I've ever eaten. The title really says it all for this dish.  The stew combines shrimp, scallops and swai fish fillets, and adds red and green peppers, plus chipotle and jalapeno peppers, with just a little kick from cumin and chili powder.  Everything comes together to create a mouth-watering bowl of seafood goodness.

This stew is a simple five step process that begins with a marinade for the seafood.  A combination of spices, minced jalapeno and garlic infuse the seafood with flavor while you prepare the rest of the stew.

The stew base gets a bold start with a bottle of dark beer, chipotle pepper and a spoonful of adobo sauce, plus some chopped veggies and a can of navy beans for a little extra heartiness.  Adding just a touch of cream at the end gives the broth a luxurious finish, and brings all of those flavors together.  You'll never, ever, find something this delicious in any restaurant.  It was quite simply, homemade and magnificent!   I hope you enjoy this stew as much as we did.

3 TB  Olive Oil
1 tsp  Ground Cumin
1 tsp  Smoked Chili Powder
1 medium  Jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 TB  Minced Garlic
1 lb  Swai Fish Fillets, (about 3 fillets) cut into 2-inch pieces
1 lb  Medium Shrimp, (41 - 50 count) peeled and deveined
3/4 lb  Scallops

2 TB  Olive Oil
1 small Yellow Onion, chopped
1 stalk  Celery, chopped
1 medium  Red Bell Pepper, seeded and chopped
1 medium  Green Bell Pepper, seeded and chopped
1 tsp  Dried Oregano
1  Chipotle Chili, minced
1-1/2 tsp  Adobo Sauce (from the can of chipotle peppers)
1 bottle  Dark Beer
1-1/2 cups  Chicken Broth
1 can  Navy Beans, rinsed and drained
1-1/2 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
1/3 cup  Heavy Cream

Step One - Seafood Marinade - In a glass bowl combine the 3 TB oil, cumin, chili powder, jalapeno, and garlic.  Stir to combine, then add the shrimp, scallops and fish to the bowl.  Toss gently to coat, cover and refrigerate while you prepare the stew.

Step Two - Making the Stew Base -  Heat 2 TB oil in a large soup pot, over medium heat.  Add the onions, celery, red and green peppers, and oregano.  Saute for 5 minutes or until the veggies are slightly tender.  Add the chipotle pepper and adobo sauce and cook for 3 more minutes.  Add the beer, chicken broth, beans, salt, and pepper, bring the mixture to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.

Step Three - Prepare the Seafood - While the stew base is simmering, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 TB olive oil.  When the oil is hot, add the seafood plus any marinade to the skillet and saute for about 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the fish is nearly opaque.  (Be sure to turn the fish carefully so it does not break apart too much.)

Step Four - Add the heavy cream to the stew and stir to combine, then blend in the cornmeal, stir and cook for 3-4 minutes. (This will thicken the broth slightly.)

Step Five - Carefully add the sauteed seafood to the pot, gently stir and cook for 5 minutes over low heat.  Ladle stew into bowls and serve with lime wedges, tortilla chips or cheese quesadillas on the side.  Enjoy!!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Chicken Vegetable and Tortellini Soup

For day 27 of Soup Month 2012, we have a hearty Chicken, Vegetable and Tortellini Soup.  This soup is packed with veggies and tender tortellini pasta and has a lightly creamy broth with just a hint of lemon juice.  With cold and flu season fast approaching, this will be a great recipe to have on hand. 

We used chicken quarters for this recipe (leg and thigh piece) to get the most chicken flavor into the soup, and we prepared the stock and chicken at the same time.

To make your own stock:  Place the 4 chicken quarters in a large pot and cover them with about 8 cups of water, then add a teaspoon each of salt and pepper, one cup of chopped celery and half of a sliced onion. 
Bring the chicken to a full boil over high heat, lower heat to medium and boil for about 40 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.  (The leg and thigh will easily pull apart at this point.)  Remove the chicken from the pot to cool and measure 6 cups of the stock to use for the soup. 

This soup is so easy to make and the flavor is wonderful.  Once the chicken is cooked, the soup can be prepared in about 15 minutes, so it's perfect for a weeknight meal.  Enjoy!!

4  Chicken Legs Quarters, cooked and deboned
6 cups  Chicken Stock (homemade or canned)
2 tsp  Salt
1 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
1 TB  Chicken Base
1-1/2 cups  Frozen Peas and Carrots
16 oz  bag  Frozen Cheese Tortellini Pasta
1 cup  Fresh Spinach, rinsed and stems removed
2 TB Cornstarch
1 TB  Cold Water
1 TB  Lemon Juice

Using a medium soup pot, bring broth to a simmer over medium heat.  Add the salt, pepper, chicken base and frozen peas and carrots.  Simmer for 3 minutes.

Add the chicken and tortellini to the pot, increase heat to medium-high and cook for about 3 minutes until the pasta is just barely tender.

Add the spinach to the top of the soup, cover and cook for 5 minutes over medium-low heat to allow the spinach to wilt.  In a small bowl combine the cornstarch, water and lemon juice and stir to combine.  Add the mixture to the soup, stirring constantly until the soup thickens slightly.

Adjust salt and pepper to taste and serve.  Serves about 6-8.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Shrimp Bisque

For day 26 of Soup Month 2012, we decided to go with a luxurious bowl of creamy Shrimp Bisque.  This is a great special occasion soup and would be delicious served as a first course for New Year's Eve alongside a perfectly medium-rare Standing Prime Rib Roast.

The secret to a successful bisque lies in the stock.  Making your own stock does take a little extra time, but the depth of flavor you get from a slow-cooked stock is amazing!  For extra seasonings, we added just a touch of old bay to the stock to round out the shrimp, and the tomato paste with garlic adds just a hint of garlic to the background of this soup.  Enjoy!!

2 lbs  medium Shell-On Shrimp (41-50 size)
4 TB  Butter, divided
1 medium  Yellow Onion, diced
2 medium  Carrots, peeled and diced
1 medium Celery Stalk, diced
1/2 tsp  Old Bay Seasoning
2  Bay Leaves
1 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
2 TB  Tomato Paste with Garlic
4 cups  Water
4 TB  Flour
3/4 cup  Dry White Wine
1 tsp  Lobster Base
1/4 tsp  Cayenne Pepper
1/2 cup  Heavy Cream

Peel the shrimp and reserve the shells.  Chop the shrimp in half and place in a glass bowl;  refrigerate until needed.

In a large saucepan, melt 1 TB butter over medium-high heat.  When butter begins to simmer, add the onions, carrots, celery, Old Bay, and bay leaves and saute for 3 minutes.  Add the reserved shrimp shells on top of the vegetables, sprinkle with salt and pepper, stir and cover the pot.  Cook for 5 minutes longer, until the shells are pink and vegetables are softened.

Increase the heat to medium-high, add the water to the pot and stir to combine.  Bring stock to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes.  Use a colander lined with a paper towel or coffee filter to strain the stock through to filter out the solids, then discard the solids.

Rinse out the saucepan and return to the stove.  Over low heat melt 3 TB butter.  When the butter is melted, add the flour to the butter and blend with a spoon to create a roux.  Keep stirring until mixture is a golden brown, about 3 minutes.

Add the white wine and lobster base to the pot and stir to combine, then add the reserved stock to the pot.  Bring mixture to a low boil, then add the cayenne and the shrimp to the pot.  Stir and simmer for about 5 minutes or just until the shrimp are pink.  Reduce the heat to low, add the cream to the pot and season to taste with salt and pepper, if needed. 

Serve this soup with crusty french bread or baked clam shells.  Serves 5 - 6 as a main course, or about 8 as a first course. Enjoy!!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Pasta e Fagioli with Italian Sausage and Ham

For day 25 of Soup Month 2012, we have a meaty version of the classic Italian Pasta e Fagioli, which translates simply into pasta and beans.  This hearty soup started with a package of Hurst's brand pasta and bean mix, which is a mixture of navy beans and tiny pink beans with the ditalini pasta already included.  After cooking the bean mixture about halfway, we added a few spices, some cooked hot Italian sausage and a cup of diced ham.  This gave the soup a wonderful blend of flavors.

This soup does takes some time to prepare so it's a great soup to prepare on the weekend. By cooking it low and slow the flavors have time to meld into a delicious meal, and it's definitely worth the wait.  If possible, try to add the fresh basil near the end of cooking time, as it does add a remarkably fresh flavor to the soup.

6 cups  Water
1-1/2 cups  Hurst's Pasta and Bean Soup Mix, rinsed
2 medium  Carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks  Celery, chopped
1 medium  Onion, chopped
1 TB  Minced Garlic
2  Hot Italian Sausage Links, casings removed, cooked and broken into bite-sized pieces
1 cup  Cubed Cooked Ham
2  Bay Leaves
1 tsp  Garlic Powder
2 tsp  Dried Oregano
1 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
1 TB  Fresh Basil, chopped

Heat water in a medium soup pot and bring to a boil.  Add the rinsed bean and pasta mix to the pot, boil for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to a simmer for 90 minutes.

Add vegetables, sausage and ham to the pot and stir.  Then add the bay leaves, garlic powder, oregano, salt and pepper.  Cook over low for 45-60 minutes or until the beans and vegetables are tender.

During the last 15 minutes of cook time, add the chopped basil to the pot and stir.  Ladle soup into bowls and serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan Romano cheese and a loaf of warm crusty bread.  Enjoy!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Crock Pot Chili Mac with Beer

As we continue with day 24 of Soup Month 2012, we have for you a quick to prepare Crock Pot Chili that is great for your upcoming fall football parties.  The beef we used for this chili was a tender beef shoulder roast which is ideal for the crock pot.  The longer cooking time and low temperature slowly tenderizes the meat until each bite is moist and full of slow cooked flavor.  The addition of a good Oktoberfest Beer during the last 90 minutes of cook time adds a wonderful burst of flavor that blends nicely with the beef and spices.

Total prep and cook time for this chili is about 4 hours, so you could easily start this on Saturday morning and it will be ready for the afternoon kickoff.  Enjoy!!

1 1/2 lbs  Beef Shoulder Roast, trimmed of all fat and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
2 tsp  Olive Oil
1 small  Red Onion, chopped
2 TB  Minced Garlic
1 cup  Beef Broth
1 8 oz can  Tomato Sauce
2 tsp  Cumin
1/2 tsp  Dry Mustard
1 tsp  Chili Powder
1 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
1 can  Diced Green Chilies
1 bottle  Oktoberfest Beer
1-1/2 cups  Dry Dreamfield's Macaroni

Heat oil in a large skillet, add beef and brown for 3 minutes over medium-high heat, then add the onion and garlic to the beef.  Continue to cook for 5 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

Pout the beef and veggies into a 6-quart crock pot and add the remaining ingredients through the green chilies.  Cover and cook on HIGH for 2 hours.

Add the beer and macaroni to the crock pot, stir to combine and cook for 1-1/2 hours longer on LOW.

Serve with chopped onion, grated cheese and sour cream as toppings.  Serve 6 - 8.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Creamy Mushroom and Chicken Soup

For day 23 of Soup Month 2012, we made a creamy mushroom soup that's packed with lots of veggies and chicken.  Also included are Yellow Gold Potatoes which are one of my favorite potatoes to cook with.  These golden potatoes contain less starch than other potatoes and are ideal to use in soups because they will hold their shape better than regular russets.  You won't have to worry about the potatoes crumbling away as they cook.  This is also a great way to use leftover baked chicken.

This soup can also be assembled pretty quickly.  Prep time is about 15 minutes and cook time is right around 40 minutes, so it's perfect for a weeknight meal.  This received 3 thumbs-ups from the kids, too! 

3 TB Butter
1 small  Onion, chopped
1 TB  Minced Garlic
1 stalk Celery, chopped
2 medium Carrots, chopped
1/2 lb Portobello Mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
1/2 lb White Button Mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
3 TB  Flour
2 tsp  Salt
1 tsp  Pepper
1 tsp Dried Thyme
4 cups Chicken Broth
6  Yellow Gold Potatoes, cut into quarters
1 cups  Cream
2 cups Chopped Cooked Chicken
Grated Parmesan Cheese, for garnish if desired

In a large soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery and mushrooms and saute until just tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour, salt, pepper and thyme and mix until smooth.

Gradually add the broth, then turn heat up to medium-high and bring the soup to a boil. Add the potatoes,  reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

Add the cream and cooked chicken to the pot and stir. Simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes, then serve the soup with a sprinkle of shaved Parmesan cheese.  Enjoy!!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Potato Poblano Soup

We've got a spicy Potato and Poblano Soup for day 22 of Soup Month 2012.  This soup is creamy and rich and has a bit of a sneaky kick to it.  The heat in this soup comes from two sources, poblano chilies and a spoonful of adobo sauce, and together they combine beautifully.

The poblano chile is quickly becoming one of my favorite ingredients and I'm enjoying finding new ways to use them in recipes.  (For a great taco recipe with poblanos check out Chorizo-Poblano Tacos.)  Poblano chilies are about 3 inches long, and have a rich flavor that can range from mild to medium-spicy.  For the richest flavor, look for fresh poblanos that are darker skinned.  The ripe reddish-brown peppers will be sweeter than the green ones.

Adobo sauce is the next special ingredient used in this soup and it can be found in the Mexican foods aisle at your local market.  Usually adobo is the sauce packed with chipotle peppers, but there are a few manufacturers that are selling the adobo in its own jar.  If you use the sauce that has the chipotle peppers in it, just save the peppers and leftover sauce in a glass jar.  It will keep for about a week in the refrigerator.

This zesty soup works great as a side dish to compliment baked chicken or a grilled pork roast.  Prep time is only 10 minutes with cook time just under 30 minutes.  A warm cup of soup that's super easy to make and full of flavor makes a great addition to any dinner.  Enjoy!!

2 TB  Butter
1 large  Yellow Onion, sliced
1 large  Poblano Chile Pepper, chopped
1/4 cup  Water
5  Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and sliced
4 cups  Chicken Stock
1/2 cup  Half and Half
1/4 tsp  White Pepper
1 tsp  Kosher Salt
1 TB  Adobo Sauce
Garlic Croutons for Garnish

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and poblano to the pot, stir and saute for 4 minutes.  Add water to the pot, reduce heat to medium and continue to saute the onions and pepper until softened, about 4 minutes longer.

Add the potatoes and chicken stock to the pot and bring mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 15 - 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Using an immersion blender (or use a stand blender and work in 2 batches), puree the soup until smooth.  Add the half and half, white pepper, salt and adobo sauce to the soup and stir, then adjust the salt and pepper to taste.  Ladle into soup cups, top with a few garlic croutons and Enjoy!!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Chicken Corn Chowder

For day 21 of Soup Month 2012, we have a quick and easy soup that's made with precooked chicken, so you can have dinner on the table fast.  We used some leftover chicken breast from a batch of Garlic Chicken Caesar Salads and it worked great.  The chicken had been sauteed in garlic and olive, so the flavors in the chicken only added to this soup.

Chicken Corn Chowder is a fairly common soup, but it usually has potatoes in it.  For this soup we skipped the potatoes and ramped up the flavor by adding chipotle peppers, including the adobo sauce and a can of chopped green chilies.  The combination of peppers gave this soup an amazing flavor.

Prep time for this soup is super fast.  Just chop up the chicken and some onion and you're ready to go.  The chipotle peppers usually come in a small can packed with the adobo sauce.  For this recipe use 1-1/2 teaspoons of the sauce in the soup, then you can either chop one chipotle pepper and add it to the soup or puree all of the peppers (there are about 4 per can) and use the 1-1/2 teaspoons for the soup and save the rest in a glass jar.  I use a small Magic Bullet cup to do this and it only takes a few seconds to puree the peppers.  Plus, having the puree in your refrigerator will give you a chance to try the peppers in other dishes.  Add a bit of the puree to everything from scrambled eggs, to mashed potatoes, to chicken salad and soups of all kinds.  Chipotles are an inexpensive way to add amazing flavor to your cooking.

This was a great bowl of soup for a chilly fall evening and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.  Enjoy!!

2 TB Butter
1 small Yellow Onion, chopped
1 TB  Minced Garlic
3 cups Cooked Chicken Breast, chopped
1 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp  Fresh Ground Pepper
1 cup  Frozen Birds Eye Baby Gold and White Corn
1-1/2 cups  Chicken Broth
1/2 cup  Half and Half
1-1/2 tsp  Pureed or Finely Chopped Chipotle Pepper
1-1/2 tsp  Adobo Sauce
2 cups  Shredded Pepper Jack Cheese with Red and Green Jalapenos

In a medium soup pot, melt butter over medium-high heat.  Add onion and garlic and saute for 3 minutes.  Add the cooked chicken, salt, pepper and corn, stir and cook for 3 minutes longer.

Add the chicken broth, half and half, chipotle pepper and adobo sauce to the pot.  Stir and bring mixture to a low boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low, add the pepper cheese and stir to combine until the cheese has melted into the soup.  Cook at a low simmer for 10 minutes, or until the cheese is fully melted.

Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with diced fresh tomato.  Serves about 6.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Pork and Black Bean Chili

October is just flying by and for day 20 of Soup Month 2012, we bring you a spicy, pepper-infused Pork and Black Bean Chili.  This chili incorporates the flavorful, but not-too-spicy poblano pepper with the much spicier chipotle pepper, which is actually a slowly smoked jalapeno.  Chipotles that are packed in adobo sauce combine very well with any type of beans, especially black beans, and are a great product to keep on hand in your pantry.  If you open a can of chipotle peppers, then use just one or two, spoon the remaining peppers and sauce into a glass jar, cover and refrigerate for up to a week.

This is also a very lean chili. By using pork loin there is very little fat, but just enough that the end result is a bowl of fork-tender pork, with a zesty sauce and a healthy serving of black beans.  It's also great for leftovers!

This recipe is pretty quick to put together, with prep time of only 15 minutes and cook time of just over an hour.  Serve with cornbread on the side and Enjoy!!

1 lb  Boneless Pork Loan Roast, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 TB  Olive Oil
1 medium  Yellow Onion, chopped
1 large  Poblano Pepper, finely chopped
1/2 tsp  Chili Powder
1/2 tsp  Cumin
1 tsp  Salt
1/2 tsp  Black Pepper
1 1/4 cups  Beef Stock
1 14-oz can  Black Beans, drained and rinsed
1 14-oz can  Hunt's Fire-Roasted Diced Tomatoes
1  Chipotle Pepper in Adobo Sauce, chopped
2 tsp  Adobo Sauce
2 TB  Ground Cornmeal (to thicken chili, optional)

Heat olive oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat.  Add the pork, onion, and poblano pepper to the pot and stir to combine.  Sprinkle the chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper over the meat and veggies, stir and saute for about 8 minutes, or until the pork is no longer pink.

Add the beef stock, beans, tomatoes, chipotle pepper and adobo sauce to the pot, stir and reduce heat to medium-low.  Cover the pot and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

If a thicker consistency is preferred, add the cornmeal to the chili and stir.  Simmer for 15 minutes longer, until the cornmeal is fully cooked into the chili.  (Cornmeal can also be used if the chili is too spicy and you would like a more mild flavor.)

Garnish with a dollop of sour cream, if desired and serve.  Serves about 6.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Chicken and Chorizo Stew over Saffron Rice

For day 19 of Soup Month 2012, we have a spicy Chicken and Chorizo Stew served over Saffron Rice.  This is a delicious stew that's a bit of a modern twist on the classic slow-roasted French Cassoulet.  This is truly peasant food at its best! The best part is, this recipe is a lot less work than making a real Cassoulet.  Been there, done that and it takes forever! Try this instead.

The zesty chorizo sausage is a great backdrop to the chicken, vegetables and navy beans, and the fire roasted tomatoes add a layer of flavor that makes this dish taste like it's cooked for hours. 

This recipe is also a great way to use up leftover baked chicken.  TIP: If possible, I always buy a larger chicken than I think I will need for one meal.  For the 5 of us, I try to buy at least a 5 pound chicken and 6 pounds if I can find one.   By doing this I know I will have cooked chicken left over to make dinner for at least one more meal later in the week.  This is a major time saver!

Prep time for this delicious meal is less than 10 minutes, with total cooking time around 45 minutes.  The saffron rice is actually a short cut version from Par Excellence, available through local retailers.  It's a quality product that has great flavor and saves a lot of time while cooking.

1 medium  Yellow Onion, chopped
1 medium  Green Pepper, chopped
2 tsp  Minced Garlic
1/2 lb  Fresh Bulk Chorizo (if using links remove casings)
1 tsp  Dried Oregano
1/2 tsp  Paprika (reduce to 1/4 tsp for less spice)
1/2 tsp  Cayenne Pepper (reduce to 1/4 tsp for less spice)
1 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
1 14-1/2 oz can  Hunt's Fire-Roasted Diced Tomatoes with Garlic
1 8 oz can  Hunt's Tomato Sauce with Garlic
3/4 cup  Dry White Wine
2 cups  Cooked Chicken, white and dark meat (leftover chicken works great!)
1 TB  Cornmeal (optional)

Using a large soup pot over medium-high heat, add onion, green pepper, garlic and chorizo.  Use a spoon to break the chorizo into small pieces and stir to combine with the vegetables.  Cook for 5 - 7 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and the chorizo is browned.

Add the oregano, paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper to the pot and stir.  Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce and white wine to the pot, stir and cook for 5 minutes.  Add the cooked chicken to the pot, stir to combine and cook over low heat for 20 minutes.

If needed, add the 1 tablespoon of cornmeal to the stew to thicken the sauce, stir and cook over low heat for 10 minutes longer.  If you prefer a thinner sauce, feel free to skip the cornmeal.  Serve the stew over a scoop of Saffron Rice. Enjoy!!